Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Some of my Summer Faves...

So I don't know about you all, but I had an awesome weekend! I moved out from school to my house, unloaded everything, and then on Memorial Monday had a fabulous BBQ with my family. It was the perfect start to summer and the weather finally started to improve. It feels like summer! Grilled bbq Chicken, corn on the cob, fresh fruit salad, chocolate chip cookies.....mmmmm!! Now that sounds like summer! It was absolutely delicious!

I am so excited that summer is here so I just wanted to share a few of the things that I can not live without during the summer months:
fresh lemonade
a perfect combination of sweet and tangy

my white cruiser bike
(this is not exactly mine, but it's a pretty close cousin! i have a basket!)
My favorite summer scent, Chanel Chance Eau Fraiche.

More of my summer faves to come later this week! Also I am going to have some more life advice and words of wisdom coming your way, so stay tuned!


Friday, May 27, 2011

Happy Weekend!!

Ahhhh I'm so excited that it's the weekend! And a three day weekend no less. Can't ask for anything better than that! With this unofficial start of summer comes a few things: packing up, moving out, putting away, moving in again! Too much moving!! That's the hard thing about being a student is the amount of moving and reorganizing that we have to do. I guess it's kind of refreshing to reorganize and regroup. It'll probably take the whole day on Sunday. But hopefully, on Memorial Monday, this can be me:

Ok, so that's wishful thinking. But this will probably be more like it:
soaking up some rays with Ellen
best summer afternoons ever
Have very enjoyable weekends everyone!! Celebrate a little of the Red, White, and Blue and I'll see you here next week! Get excited, I'm going to participate in breakfast at toast's Summer Blog Crawl starting Monday. I'm psyched!


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Letting Go...Growing Up

I am realizing as I am making my way through this life's journey, that we are constantly growing up. I remember when I was little, I thought that growing up was just a phase and that at a certain point, we would just stop. Well, I was completely wrong. I think we're always growing up, no matter what age we are. Why have I been thinking this lately?

Over the past month, I've been getting quite nostalgic (which honestly I'm about a year early for this, but still, I can't help it). I've been packing things up, saying goodbyes, planning for the future, and it's been quite daunting and scary, yet exhilarating at the same time. I've had some amazing experiences in the past year that I would not trade for anything. But, I haven't stepped back and realized how much I have grown and evolved over the past couple of years. I think I am realizing it now because this summer, I am wanting to start plans to makeover my bedroom to make it more "grown up." This involves, however, me letting go of things that are no longer "me."

Now, I am not one that is afraid of change, but I am a horrible pack rat when it comes to mementos of things that represent me and my experiences. I realized this past weekend that some of them have to go. Part of me misses these times in my life and the person that I was, but more importantly, the other part of me accepts everything I have been and is willing to let in the newer, "grown up" me that I love even more. This is scary, yet exciting! I'm excited to make my space more "me." This is going to be a long process, but I consider it just another phase of that wonderful growing up cycle that never ends! Everything is a growing experience. So I guess where I'm going with this is don't be afraid to grow up, no matter how old you are. Remember the saying that that things "only get better with age?" Well, I think that's true for us as well, and though it's hard to accept sometimes, we need to embrace how awesome that is!

Which leads me to the final question: any decorating tips? Colors that might represent this next phase (not too trendy though that would become tiresome quickly) or wall accessories that are cool? Good thing I have all of these interior decorating blogs to help me and be my inspiration!

This would be fantastic! But my room would have to have ceilings and a deck!
Wishful thinking...
image via Live Creating Yourself

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Farewell, Oprah...

Ok, so the title of this post is probably making many people think that I am the sappiest person on this planet (which is probably true, I won't deny it), but I really am going to miss the Oprah show. A lot of people are saying, "Why are you going to miss Oprah? She's got her OWN freaking network!" (like the pun, OWN...hahaha, yeah that's all I got!). Her network is nice, but honestly, I don't think her network will have the same impact as her show.

Oprah in Sweet Home Chicago
15,000 people at the United Center showing her the love she deserves
When I was younger, I always knew who Oprah was. My mom had books of hers and would occasionally watch her show. I didn't really understand it at the time. Then, as I got older, I started watching her when I had days off of school or would stay at home sick. I always loved watching this one woman make ordinary people's dreams come true. I loved seeing the looks of joy and surprise on their faces. This one woman just changed a person's life and I could tell the pride in her eyes that she felt. She came from nothing and now she was making a difference to someone. Ultimately, that's my goal. I love serving others and making a difference and if I can make a fraction of the impact that Oprah has made, I know that I will have done something right.

Oprah is a story teller. She helps share stories, even during the most difficult of times. She asks questions with such conviction and vigor, even if she knows she shouldn't be asking them. She comforts those who have difficulty and is honest with all who deserve and need her honesty. Her voice brings a comfort and a solace to those who hear it. The way she interviews is like an art form that I believe few will be able to perfect.

She's also brought Nate Berkus into my life!
Love them both!
She has helped millions of women and children all over the world, bringing hope and light to those who live in worlds of darkness. Her bright smile, big voice, and calming nature and nurture give these children a future that they would never have had if not for her. She has built schools, established funds, donated books, taught lessons, sung songs, cleaned homes and comforted all who were in need. What she has done for many is nothing short of a miracle. So many have been blessed to have Miss Oprah come into their lives, me included.

So, Oprah, you will never know my name. You will never meet me, see me, or talk to me. But you have affected me. I have loved watching you and watch myself grow up as I've watched you. Thank you for everything you have given to our country and our world. Thank you for showing me how I can live my best life and thanks for an amazing twenty five years!

Happy last episode everyone! I will have my Kleenex ready. Remember: always LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fun Fashion Reads!

 I have finally been getting back the time in my life to read for fun and I cannot tell you how nice that is. It seems like it has been forever since I have just sat back, grabbed a good cup of coffee (or Diet Coke if I'm in the summer sun!) and read until my eyes hurt. Well, not till they hurt, but you know what I mean. My local library and I have become fast friends again and I'm always excited to pick up a new read every week.

This week, in addition to finishing a historical fiction recommendation from my aunt, The Postmistress by Sarah Blake, which was a fantastic book (I learned a lot about WWII that my history books never covered),  I was also able to enjoy some fun fashion reads that my mom found. My mom, sisters and I are very into fashion and dressing well. We all have different styles, but we also share some pieces of our styles with each other. We have also always been interested in Parisian fashion, which is why this book, Parisian Chic  by Ines de la Fressange, spoke to us immediately. The former European supermodel shares some of her secrets on how to dress like a classy Parisian, including giving key items every woman should own, places to shop, makeup routines and what kind of food to eat to be just as chic as any woman in grand Paris. It's a fun, fast fashion read and I got a lot of tips that I know I will be applying to my own personal style. A little inspiration for you:

Here's a taste of the items that you must have in your closet:
the perfect trench and of course your own perfect lbd

If you are a Project Runway fan like I am, you will also enjoy Nina Garcia's The One Hundred, which is a list of her one hundred best items that every woman should try. It really is fun and the illustrations by Ruben Toledo are so cute! I enjoyed this book a lot because it makes you realize how much you already have in your closet. I think us ladies always go through our closets thinking that we have nothing, but reading this book made me realize that we all have a lot and it's just how we all combine things that can take our style to the next level. Nina did leave me wanting to do a little shopping of my own soon though! I mean, come on: with one hundred items, how could she not?

Pick them up at the store, library or a digital copy and happy browsing! Also, I'm open to any book recommendations you all have. What have I missed in the past year that I absolutely need to read? Let me know! Happy reading!


Monday, May 23, 2011


So see this guy? Yeah, I met him!!
I'm the really excited one giving him a high five!
Ahhh so fantastically awesome!

I MET MATTHEW MORRISON! (No, I won't get tired of saying that!)

Wow, I met him!!!!!!!! It is still so surreal that this all happened. We rehearsed so hard all last week to sing on the red carpet before his event started. He came over and he was so unbelievably suave! In fact, we got to scream when we saw him walking down the street. So cool! It was like I was in a movie or something. Never thought that this would happen to me.

After he came over and gave all of us a high five (which was fantastic!) he went over to talk to reporters and press but then he thanked us for being there. AHHHH made my life! He literally was a foot away from me!

Matthew Morrison, showing my friends some love!

Ok, so then we went to his show right after and he was absolutely amazing. He's such a charmer and he is so talented and has the most unbelievable stage presence. He sang some classics (including some awesome Glee mashups) and then some new songs off of his new album. He also did the Golddigger dance! So sexy!  And he played the ukulele. And smiled a lot. And laughed a lot. And....well I could just gush and gush, but I'll stop now and save my rambling! But it was an unbelievable experience that I will never forget and I was so blessed to have this opportunity to perform in front of all of those people and of course meet him.

So, on top of that and having a wonderful night out with the girls, I baked a lot and had an awesome time with my family. The weather was so nice today, I even soaked up some sun!

How were your weekends?


Friday, May 20, 2011

Caprese Salad

Yum!! So good, don't you think?
Image via Adirondack Baker
I am going food crazy now that I am home! Oh my gosh, I have had so much wonderful food to taste and it's only been one day here! You really do miss homemade cooking when all you have had for the past few months is prepared dorm food (which isn't horrible, but it's nothing like home!). I can go from anything as simple as a salad to as complex as a full course meal to make me happy. But the past few days have been filled with lots of fresh tomatoes and feta cheese! Mmmmm such a fabulous combination (and it's filling, for all of you who are watching it! You get a lot for just a little and it's good for you too!). So the most simple I can think of, is the Caprese Salad. There is barely any effort involved in this besides cutting up the tomatoes and the cheese. Simply take some mozzarella and tomatoes and slice them (however this week we've had lots of feta around so we've just used that! It's our variations on the classic Caprese). I've found that one tomato can fill you, but if you need more depending on the size, that's fine. You can also find feta at your deli, usually given to you in a big wedge. About four slices or so is fine. Top it off with some fresh basil and some Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt and pepper. Easiest meal ever! If you want a little more filler food, slice up a baguette and you can even toast it on low heat with a little olive oil for an extra flavorful crunch. So delicious, you have to try it!

Happy Friday everyone! Here's a quote to start your weekends:

"People are always talking about the good old days. I say, why don't you say the good now days?" Robert M. Young


P.S. Probably my most loyal reader is my sister's boyfriend, C, who I just met yesterday. He was sad that I didn't mention a few days ago that I was meeting him on this visit, so I just wanted to acknowledge him on here! Thanks for reading and checking in everyday!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Let me go home..."

No, I am not yet at home, but starting tomorrow I get to spend a few days relaxing with the family, watching the Bulls with my best friend and sister Ellen, cooking, reliving and creating some choir memories with the high school girls, and having some fun nights out as well as the much needed nights in (in which I know I will be consuming lots of yummy homemade cooking from my mother! Best part of going home). Also, my brother will be home for the summer! I can't wait to see everyone.

I'm really looking forward to this visit because I get to (hopefully) meet one of my heartthrobs: Glee's Matthew Morrison (aka Will Schuster for those of you who are not fans!). He is absolutely fantastic!! Oh my gosh, just thinking about him...well never mind. For those of you who need to just see how hot he is, look no further. In addition to being such a great character on Glee, he has just released his first solo album and it's seriously awesome. If you are anything like me who is all about the "feel good," this album is definitely that. So much fun to just jump and dance to! A little corny, but I love corny ("I'm looking for corny in my life..." thank you Kate Winslet from The Holiday). 

the beautiful Matthew Morrison
look at those abs! Ahhh, I'm melting!
He's actually in town for a benefit gala at the Goodman Theatre and my high school choir is singing at a reception for him. My director graciously called me and the others in our high school music section core four (me, A, K, and H with the unbelievable Mr. H shown below). I am so unbelievably excited!!! Oh my gosh it's undeniable how psyched I am for this. More than anything, I'm excited to relive a little bit of my high school life with the girls that meant so much to me. As much as I love my life now and wouldn't change it for anything, I did love high school. We were so carefree, close and crazy and that has not changed much. I think it's going to be the "being together" aspect that I am so excited about. We have not all sung together in such a long time, so having this opportunity is extremely special and I cannot be more thrilled to be reunited with them starting tomorrow. 

me, a, mr. h, k, and h on one of our fondest h.s. nights
on our little island in the sun
we're a little older and wiser now! (at least in my mind!)

There is something about being "home." It does not necessarily mean the place you currently live, or the place you grew up in. Home to me is where the people I care most are, and in my mind, you can definitely have more than one home. Screw traditions, I know that I have at least 3, which is such a comfort. Home is not just a place, but a feeling: it's a comfort, a happiness, a smile, a laugh, a sense of being content. Where is home for you? What does home mean? Is it a place, a person, a feeling or a combination of all three? 
I'm so excited to go to this home tomorrow and cannot wait for the adventures this visit will have in store. 


Monday, May 16, 2011

Take time to....Slooooowwww Doowwwwnnn

This is my Monday edition of my "Take time to" where every week I will share something that I believe is worthwhile to take time doing. This is something that I have either done or wanted to do. This week it is what I did this past weekend.

Being a student, I feel like my life is at a constant fast speed. There is always somewhere to go, something to accomplish in a timely manner, someone who is needing me.......the list could go on and on and unfortunately, I am a people pleaser who always feels the need to be there for someone. I know that as I finish school and start work that this is not going to get easier: this feeling of always moving at the speed of light and never taking time to slow down and enjoy the little things. This weekend, I saw my opportunity to do this, and I took it.

favorite friday night activity with Gran
(definitely tasted better the second day with my morning latte!)
I decided to forgo my weekend plans and take the journey up to my grandparents' small town about an hour away from me. Because of my busy year this year, I did not get a chance to spend as much time with them as I have in the past. I love going to their house and visiting because it is so simple: no computers, no Internet, no attachment to my phone. I solely get to focus on spending time with them. I have to say that it was absolutely fantastic. We had a delicious dinner (hooray for take and bake Lou Malnatis' pizza!), ate it slowly and talked for hours, baked absolutely delicious cookies using Ina Garten's recipe (although I did mess them up, but they still turned out just fine, as you can see in my photos), watched and laughed over Say Yes to the Dress (my Friday night TV pick, sorry Grandpa!), and watched the Player's Championship. Of course, all of this was accompanied by hours of priceless, great conversation. I felt no need to spread myself or feel obligated to connect with anyone else but them. I took time to slow down and enjoy the delicious little things that I was not expecting. I could not have asked for a better weekend.

Taking time to slow down the pace and remember what's really important is something that we always lose track of, or say that we are going to do it, but never actually do. I promise you, you will not regret it even if it is just for a day or two. You'll feel more refreshed to do what is necessary later on, while also feeling a sense of calm and happiness knowing that just for a few moments, life could wait. Have you ever had any slow weekends or days? What do you do with them?


P.S. Way to go Chicago Bulls! I am super pumped for Wednesday's game!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Run in the Rain

You're probably looking at this image thinking, "Oh Susan ran in the park like this? Cool! Cute, even!" No, my story is not as romantic and fun as this picture. It was a little different.

So the other day I needed to go to my free ATM, which is inconveniently located about 3 miles away from where I live. I decided that since the weather was so nice I could run/walk/jog there without a problem. I could get my job done and get my exercise in at the same time. Win-win situation! (Gotta love those!). Well,  about a mile and a half in, I looked behind me and saw the sky turn a deep, dark blue and heard a rattle of thunder. I was so close to my destination, so I thought that if I could just make it there, I could wait it out until the rain was over. Unfortunately, my perfect plan backfired and it started drizzling. Drizzles turned to the biggest drops of my life that felt like hail stones, but no. They were real drops. I was amazed drops could be that heavy! The rain started to come down and I didn't know where to go.

Finally, after almost getting attacked by a goose (that's a different story. Hysterical now, but very scary! haha) I stopped at a local gas station to wait it out, as the drops turned to a down pour that was flooding the streets and cars could barely see in front of them. For a few minutes, all I did was just stand and watch the rain come down, hard and fast. After it slowed down a little (not by much, but a little), I decided I was just going to take the chance, and run in the rain. Heavy rain. Hot, heavy rain. It felt amazing! I felt not only refreshed, but I enjoyed taking a risk and just running as fast as I could for the heck of it. It was fantastic.

So my moral of this story: run in the rain. No, not literally every time it rains go for a run, but simply run in the rain. Take a risk of something that seems stupid or unappealing. You may realize that you enjoy it more than you originally thought you would. You may feel pride from it. It was T.S. Elliott who said, "You have to risk going too far to see how far you can really go." I cannot hold that to be more true. Follow Elliott's lead on this, you won't be disappointed. It may seem scary and daunting at first, but the feeling of accomplishment or pride in yourself is worth all the risks in the world. It doesn't matter how big or how small, it's the action that counts. Try it and trust me, you won't be disappointed.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Starting again!

Hello all!

So I wake up to write a new post and everything was gone! Thank you, blogger. Luckily everything seems to be fixed now but my first post from yesterday is nowhere to be found. Great! So I will try to (again) introduce myself (probably not as eloquently as my first post) and the purpose of this blog and we'll see if it will stick!

Ok, so once again, I'm Susan from a little ray of Sunshine. I'm a young, twenty-something who just recently started getting addicted to reading blogs thanks to my lovely mother. My addiction started when I tried an experiment: giving up my Facebook for Lent. I started with one blog, then another, until my favorites page became flooded with new blogs everyday. I know: why give up something only to replace it with something else? I can't exactly answer that question, but I just loved reading so many different perspectives on life and seeing the talent that is out there. Ever since, I have been dying to try my hand at it, so I took a leap of faith and now I'm starting. A few things you might find here on a little ray of Sunshine:

I am a very positive person and I like to share my "glass is half full" attitude with everyone I talk to. Yes, to some this may seem quite annoying, but unfortunately that's just how I was built! I have a very positive self-image, which I am very fortunate to say I have. No, I'm not perfect (no one is, right) or self-involved, but I do think that we all need to find at least one aspect of ourselves that we love or value. I think that you cannot love someone else until you love yourself. Yes, that's a bit bold, but that's just one girl's opinion. There is such a lack of positivity in the world we live in, so I'm trying to bring it back here. Let's spread it!

I am very close with my family and friends. They are so extremely special to me and mean the world to me. Without my loving family, unbelievable friends, and undyingly supportive professors who help me achieve my dreams, I wouldn't be where I am now. I can''t thank them enough, and they will definitely be making appearances here.

My passions and hobbies that make me, me are also going to play a huge role. I am studying both elementary education and music and I could not have made a better decision than to pursue both passions in school. I am a pianist-in-training and it is a huge part of who I am. I love immersing myself in my music for a few hours in my practice room (well about 20 each week if that's a few!) and it completely relieves all stresses of my day. If everyone can be so lucky as to find a passion that does that for them, I encourage it! (this will be a topic, I assure you!). I also love cooking and baking with my family. I am not nearly as talented as some of them, but I do get a lot of help and love from them, so attempted recipes and meals (both the successes and the failures!) will be posted. I can't wait to start cooking more this summer. Then, of course, I knit. Another great, amazing stress reliever. There is nothing I love more than sitting down on the couch with my knitting needles, some popcorn and a diet Coke (always) and a great chick flick. Most relaxing night in ever. My patterns and completed projects will make their way to this blog to be shared. If anyone has any patterns to share, feel free! I love having new patterns to put into my binder. There is nothing better!

So I think I summed up what I wrote yesterday. Again, this is just me being me: rambling, not always grammatically correct, and just here living life, loving it and wanting to make a difference to.

I am so excited to start this journey and thanks for following it with me.