Endless Bliss | Happy Lifestyle Blog: May 2014

10 Road Trip Essentials.

Anytime I go on vacation, I have to make a list of all the things I need to pack. Usually this list is really extensive, and you would think that I would save these lists, but no. I like making new lists because it just makes me more excited about my trip.

Since I'm embarking on my annual Gulf Shores vaca (and by annual, I mean that we went last year, and we're going again this year) with TASK, aka my girlfriends, aka Tiffany-Amanda-Sarah-Katherine, tomorrow, I, of course, had to prepare by making a packing list. And while having everything I need for the actual trip is important, so is being prepared for the 7-8 hour drive to the beach. 

Here are some of my road trip essentials that I could not survive the drive without: 

1. Face wipes: I have naturally oily skin, and after I wake up, my skin is pretty gross. I definitely plan on taking a little cat nap on the road, and I'll need one of these to freshen up afterward.

2. A notebook and pen: As a blogger and a wannabe author, I never know when inspiration will strike. I always keep a notebook with me, and while I'm on vacation, I like to write little things down so I'll remember them later. Even though I also keep notes in my phone, sometimes I like to revert to my old school ways. 

3. Water: For obvious reasons. Gotta keep hydrated!

4. Mints: I pop mints like candy, and when I'm on the road, post-nap, it's always nice to have something to freshen up the breathe. 

5. Sunglasses: Obviously, when going on a summer vaca, you have to have some sunglasses. 

6. A good book: Some people get carsick when they try to read on the road, but usually, I'm unaffected. I love reading (obviously), and travel time is the perfect time to catch up on novels I've been wanting to read.

7. Hand sanitizer: I hate public bathrooms, and soap dispensers are the most disgusting things to touch. I mean, everyone touches them after doing their business. Gross. I like to keep some hand sani with me on the road so I don't have to deal with all those germs.

8. 90's music: Nineties music is my favorite music already, but I especially love it on the road. Road trips are the perfect time to listen to all of the throwbacks. P.S. Don't judge my old school nano. It has all of my old music on it. 

9. Snacks: At work, I'm always eating. Why stop the habit on the road? 

10. BFF's: The most essential part of a road trip is the people you're traveling with! What's a vacation without your besties?

Are you going on vacation this summer? What are some of your road trip essentials?

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Elixir {Book Review}.

Hilary Duff has always been a person to look up to. When I first saw her in Casper Meets Wendy, I thought she was so adorable. When I saw that she was going to be in a new sitcom called Lizzie McGuire, I was so pumped, and it ended up being one of my favorite shows from childhood. Hilary Duff is one of those celebrities who never went off the deep end. She still does movies and guest stars in TV shows here and there, but now, she's living life as a mother and is a huge philanthropist. 

Hilary signing copies of her first book. How flawless is she?!
I've had the first book of her series, Elixir, on my shelf for awhile now, and I finally had the time to dive into it. 

Favorite Character: Rayna
Rayna was the best friend of the main character, Clea. While she didn't have the biggest role in the book, she was one of the most memorable. She was the life of the party and lots of fun, but she was also very understanding no matter what weird things Clea threw at her, and she stepped it up in the best friend category. She believed in true love, and I think she is a best friend that every girl would want to have.

Memorable Quotes
"In dreams, and in love, there are no impossibilities."

"Dreams were the brain's way of sorting out things left unsettled in our waking lives." 

"If he was my soulmate, my soul needed to develop better taste."

Book Synopsis from Goodreads
Clea Raymond has felt the glare of the spotlight her entire life. The daughter of a renowned surgeon and a prominent Washington DC politician, she has grown to be a talented photojournalist who takes refuge in a career that allows her to travel to the most exotic parts of the world. But after Clea’s father disappears while on a humanitarian mission, Clea’s photos begin to feature eerie, shadowy images of a strange and beautiful man—a man she has never seen before.

When fate brings Clea and this man together, she is stunned by the immediate and powerful connection she feels with him. As they grow closer, they are drawn deep into the mystery behind her father’s disappearance, and they discover the centuries old truth behind their intense bond. Torn by a dangerous love triangle and haunted by a powerful secret that holds their fates, together they race against time to unravel their pasts in order to save their lives—and their futures.

My Thoughts
To be honest, when I bought this book, I had no idea what it was about. I just saw Hilary Duff's name on the cover and the sale sticker, and I just had to have it. I think Hilary let her imagination run wild with this book. I loved the concept of the mysterious stranger that she felt an immediate connection to from her photos. The fact that she had two best friends that she could tell about this stranger is amazing. I hate when I read a book and the person decides not to tell anyone about their problems. Things would go so much smoother if they had someone to share their confusion with. 

Let me just start by saying, I did not like Clea at all. I feel like she was your typical privileged brat. The only thing wrong with her life was that her dad was missing. She was the daughter of a politician, aka rich. I mean, she started the book on vacation in Paris with her best friend. Hard life? I think not. She was pretty whiny, and not relatable at all. She had all of these things handed to her, but for being so privileged, she complained a lot. She didn't believe in true love, and she was pretty oblivious to the world around her. She was too rational for her own good, with the emotional capacity of a toad. 

One thing that fascinated me about this book was its take on the Elixir of Life. The "mysterious stranger" noted in the description above is Sage. I think almost every girl dreams of having a Sage in her life - charming, attractive, is head over heels in love with you, and supports everything you do. Not bad. After Sage and Clea meet for the first time is when I really started getting more into the book. Everything was so fast-paced. When Clea starts unraveling details about her father's disappearance and her unfathomable connection to Sage, I couldn't stop reading. 

Honestly, I was hoping that this novel would be able to stand alone, and you could read the rest of the trilogy if you just happened to want more. Similar to The Hunger Games. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to read the next two novels to see what happens. The ending of Elixir is definitely open-ended, and left me frustrated (mostly at Clea. Really, why did you do that?!) and needing to see what happens. 

I give this book a 3.5 out of 5. Overall, the book wasn't a bad read, but it took me awhile to really get into the story. I also didn't like that Clea wasn't a very relatable main character. I am curious to see what Hilary does in the remaining two novels. 

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Livin' and Lovin' Blogiversary Giveaway {CLOSED}.

I'm super excited to be participating in Kriselle's blogiversary giveaway! We've all come together to give away some awesome prizes. Be sure to enter using the Rafflecopter below, and head over to Livin' and Lovin' to wish Kriselle a happy blogiversary!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Reverse Bucket List.

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, then you know that I love lists. If you haven't been reading my blog for awhile then just FYI, I LOVE LISTS! Especially my bucket list. It's my absolute favorite list. 

While there's a ton of things I want to cross off my lists, there are also a lot of things that I've already been able to cross off my list, which is why I wanted to share with y'all my Reverse Bucket List.

When I visited NYC while working as a camp counselor, I got to ride a train for the first time. We packed two cars full of counselors and took a road trip from Honesdale, PA to Hoboken, NJ. Then we rode the train to and from Hoboken to NYC. I can't say I liked or disliked the experience. I was just happy to cross it off of my bucket list. This happened in 2012.

This was obviously a big feat. I felt like it was a long time coming. After 18 years of schooling, I finally got my bachelor's degree. I graduated in 2012. 

I had a lot of first time experiences when I was a camp counselor. Another was going to a psychic when a few of us visited Philadelphia. I paid $10 to get one of palms read. I did this during the summer of 2012.

See above picture. I had always wanted to take these kinds of pictures on the beach, and I finally got to when my Tech Family and I took a road trip to the beach during our junior year in 2011. Pictured above is the "7 Deadly Sins" picture we did. Can you figure out which sin everyone is portraying? :)

In college, I was part of an organization called Union Board. One of the events we put on was Show at the Joe, and during this particular event, there was a mechanical bull. I had always wanted to try it. I got on twice, and I was horrible, but I did get this awesome picture out of it.

I don't even drink soda, but when I visited the Coca-Cola factory, I had to indulge. Even when my mom lived in Atlanta, I never visited the factory, but when I was passing through on a road trip to South Carolina, I just had to stop. It was a blast learning about Coke's history.

Just accepting my Academy Award. Thanks to you all.
If you didn't know, Filipinos love karaoke. Being half-Filipino, I love singing on the game, Rock Band, and singing karaoke in the privacy of my own home, but when it comes to doing it in public, I get so nervous. I'm not a good singer, but I like to have fun. The first time I did it was for an immersion project in college in 2010. I sang *NSYNC. Since then, I've done it a few more times.

Ever since Painting with a Twist came to Shreveport/Bossier, I knew I had to go. If you don't know, Painting with a Twist is a one-time painting class where you can order wine while you paint. The first time I went was for a bachelorette party. We painted a house. I went again for a friend's 21st birthday. I've also taken a legitimate watercolor painting class. I love painting and wish I had more time to take more classes.

A magnolia. My first watercolor painting.
I went paragliding in Mexico when I went on a cruise with my family. I was a junior in high school. While I'm deathly afraid of heights, paragliding was an absolute thrill! I went paragliding in 2006.

I've been on two cruises in my life, once as a junior in high school with my family as mentioned before. We went to Mexico, the Cayman Islands and Jamaica. The second time was two days after my college graduation with a few of my fellow graduates. Both cruises were a blast. I love cruises. As I've said before, they're the best kind of vacation. The first cruise I went on was in 2006 and the second in 2012.

I'm excited to fulfill more things on my bucket list this summer! Do you have a bucket list? What things have you crossed off of your bucket list?

Meet one of my sponsors, Felecia!

I am Felecia Efriann, a recent college grad working towards publishing a book. On Hello Felecia, I share little adventures from my life usually related to reading, storytelling, movies, fashion, and people.

Name 5 things that make you happy.
1. Time with my family
2. A good book
3. Helping others
4. A home cooked meal
5. Time to write

What are you looking forward to this summer?
Reading books and writing books. I am looking forward to having time to do some of the projects I have pinned on Pinterest.

If you could live a day in the life of anyone, who would you choose and why?
That's hard, I would want to be myself and accompany someone preparing for a night at the red carpet or an award show like the Grammy or golden globes. I would like to be up front and center for movie awards, be a part of all the festivities.

What song are you currently obsessed with? 
I am blessed with Zac Brown Band, I really like the song Chicken Fried as well as the Pawn shop Kings' Love like Jesus.

For more from Felecia, click the links below:
Blog | Bloglovin | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook

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A Stolen Life {Book Review}.

If you don't know who Jaycee Dugard is, I invite you to crawl out from under the rock you've been living under and join the rest of the world. Jaycee Lee Dugard was abducted while walking to school when she was just seven-year-old. She spent 18 years in captivity with her abuser, Phillip Garrido, and his wife, Nancy, mothering two children. 

When this book came out a few years ago, I wanted to read it, but I never got around to it. The other day, when I went into work, Michelle Knight was on the news, and she was talking about the book she released about her more than a decade of captivity, Finding Me: A Decade of  Darkness, a Life Reclaimed: A Memoir of the Cleveland Kidnappings. I was also in the midst of reading one of my favorite books by Sarah Dessen, Just Listen, which also deals with rape. For some reason, both of these events made me want to finally pick up Jaycee Dugard's book. 

Even though I knew the general background about Jaycee's abduction, nothing could prepare me for the horror that was written in this book. My stomach turned just reading about it, and I can't believe that she was brave enough to both survive what happened to her and relive it long enough to write this book. 
Jaycee's abduction notice with age progression
What was intriguing about this book was that she wrote the memoir in the perspective of her younger self, recounting the day that she was abducted by mentioning that she was angry at her mother for forgetting to give her a kiss and how she was uncomfortable when this stranger asked her to remove her clothes. She bounced back between telling the story from her younger perspective and reflecting back on what happened to her. Throughout the book, she also has scans of some of her diary and copies of her journal. Most parts of this book left me with a knot in a my stomach and a broken heart. 

Jaycee mothered two children while she was in captivity, having her first at the young age of 14. After having her kids, she wasn't even allowed to have her children call her "mom." Her other captor, Nancy, was actually jealous of Jaycee (1) because Jaycee got all of Phillip's attention and (2) because she couldn't have children. After Jaycee's second child was born, she was given a new name, Alissa, and as far as the children knew, Nancy was their mother and Jaycee, or Alissa, was their sister. 

What angers me even more is that authorities had so many chances to find Jaycee. Phillip Garrido was on parole after being released early from prison, but no one went to checked the backyard. After the Garridos started getting brave enough to let Jaycee and children in her house, she even spoke with authorities, but no one recognized her. It breaks my heart that Jaycee didn't have the courage to speak up about being abducted. Even when she was at the police station and the woman asked her what her name was, she couldn't even say it because she spent 18 years not allowed to say it.

The Garridos
Jaycee Dugard should be an inspiration to everyone. Even through everything that happened to her, she never gave up home of seeing her mother again. She made several lists in her journals, and she always dreamed about seeing her mother again. She was confident that she would be able to one day. Somehow, she was still able to stay positive, writing down her favorite quotes and ways to counteract her negative feelings. 

I give this book a 4 out of 5. If you're brave enough to stomach some of the awful things that Jaycee was put through, I definitely think you should read this book. It makes you appreciate the things that you take for granted. When I was 14, I was worrying about shaving my legs and trying to get a boyfriend, not being a mother. Jaycee is so brave for being able to come out of such darkness and be willing to share her story with others. 

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Motivated Mondays: Inspiring Quotes from the Mouths of Celebrities.

I love watching movies and listening to music and reading, and of course, I adore all of the beautiful people behind those that provide me with all of that entertainment. These are some of my favorite quotes from celebrities.





Who are some of your favorite celebrities? What are some of your favorite celebrity quotes?
Meet Shanice!

My name is Shanice Singh and I am an eighteen year old Media and English major(will be nineteen in July). I'm from South Africa, I enjoy reading, writing and watching TV. I am obsessive about my fictional characters and I WILL cry if they are unhappy/hurt. My blog is called Playground of Randomness(http://playgroundofrandomness.wordpress.com) because of the variety of blog posts which range from fashion and book reviews to college and short stories. I am also an aspiring author and am positive that one day I WILL be famous.

Name 5 things that make you happy.
tv shows, good books, my bed, coke, chocolate

What are you looking forward to this summer?
We're actually approaching Winter in SA now so I'm looking forward to having a break from campus and lots and lots of sleep.

If you could live a day in the life of anyone, who would you choose and why?
I would love a day in the life of Selena Gomez- I adore her!

What song are you currently obsessed with?
Currently I'm obsessed with Lorde's Team. It's so catchy!

For more from Shanice, follow her via the links below:
Blog | Tumblr | Twitter | Pinterest | Polyvore | Goodreads
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Summer 2014 Checklist.

Even though I don't technically get a summer vacation like students and teachers do, I still like to take advantage of the amazing weather to travel and get things done. This summer, I'm so excited to have two trips to look forward to! Here's what's on my list of things to do this summer:

What's on your checklist this summer?

P.S. If you love books, you should join in on the Summer Book Swap! It's an easy way to make friends and discover new books. For more info, click here! And happy reading!
Meet one of my May sponsors, Amanda!

I’m Amanda, and I blog at Notes from a Newlywed, where I write all about my life as a new wife. I share my views, thoughts, emotions and observations on my newlywed journey. From wedding planning tips to changing my name, having in-laws and trying to be a better wife, and even a few recipes and randoms thrown in there, it's all about what I'm learning along the way.

Name 5 things that make you happy.
Easy! Cats, cupcakes, TV, music, and my husband. :)

What are you looking forward to this summer?
Grilling, eating dinner on the deck and having margaritas. And finally being able to wear flip flops again. It's STILL too cold here!

If you could live a day in the life of anyone, who would you choose and why?
Good question! I'd love to say one of my favorite celebrities, the Mowry sisters, but I think it would be more fun to be someone really influential to see what sorts of things they deal with. Maybe Michelle Obama? 

What song are you currently obsessed with?
Bang Bang by will.i.am. It keeps coming up on my Spotify, and I love how it's old-school sounding, but upbeat and sorta weird.

What makes you awesome?
Oh dear! Well, I guess I'm awesome because I'm slow to open up, but once you have my trust, I'm a loyal and caring friend, and I am silly and weird, and that is OK! Also, because I love cats and cats are awesome. 

For more from Amanda, follow her via the links below:
Blog | Bloglovin | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest
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8 Favorite Songs About Summer.

I love songs about summer. They just pump me up and make me so excited about summer vacations. Speaking of:

9 days until I'm in Gulf Shores with three of my girlfriends.
31 days until I'm in Europe with my sister and lots of awesome EF College Break travelers.

Until then, I'm going to be jamming to these summer songs:

This song is just so upbeat and fun. I love Jessie James songs. Some of my other favorites are "Military Man" and "Dear John." This is my absolute favorite summer song. I will be jamming to this song all summer long.

When I saw this song in Country Strong, I fell in love with it. I already loved Leighton from Gossip Girl, but this song just made me love her more. She was adorable in this movie, and she's amazingly talented.

I loved when NKOTB made their come back years ago. I still listen to this song to get me pumped for summer. When it comes on my iPod, I just crank it up.

The obvious one. Who doesn't love this song?

I've loved this song since the first time I heard it. Keith Urban is amazing for so many reasons. I mean helloooo. He's Australian. That accent is just...swoon. 

This just makes me so happy. The perfect song to sing at the top of my lungs with the windows rolled down.

This song brings me back to my summers in South Carolina. 

Of course any song by Justin Timberlake is always on repeat.

What are some of your favorite songs about summer?
P.S. If you love books, you should join in on the Summer Book Swap! It's an easy way to make friends and discover new books. For more info, click here! And happy reading!

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Adopting a Rescue Dog.

Whether you're adopting a dog from a shelter, a breeder or a friend, you shouldn't take the task lightly. I know people that just want to get a dog to get a dog. They just think they're cute or want a cuddle buddy. Adopting a dog is a huge responsibility, and there's a ton of things you should consider before bringing one into your home. 
Adopting a dog isn't cheap. On top of the adoption fees, you have vet check-ups, dog food and treats, toys, bowls, cage, bed, leash, etc. There are a ton of things you have to purchase in order to fully welcome your dog into your home. If you don't think you'll be able to support a dog financially, then you should either reanalyze your decision or start budgeting to be financially ready for a dog in the future.
There are several things you need to know before adopting a dog. For instance, most people know that dogs can't eat chocolate, but did you know that onions are also bad for them? You also need to think about what kind of dog food you give your dog. Changing a dog off of their regular food is a process. Some people don't know that you can't just feed a dog whatever they want. Dogs require a lot of training, including bowl training and leash training, teaching your dog not to jump on the furniture or growl or bite people. 
Just like you have a past, so does your dog. The shelter may know a few things about the dog you're interested in adopting, but they may not. When I adopted my dog, all they knew about her was that her owner died in a tragic accident. She had been at the shelter for the last two years. They said that any training she had would most likely be out the window. I went in knowing that I would have to put a lot of work into making my dog comfortable. You also need to collect their shot records. Come prepared with questions. Just like you should do research about dogs in general, you should also learn as much as you can about your dog's past. 
Not all dogs will love you immediately. It took my dog a few weeks before she let me pick her up without growling. If you're serious about getting a dog, you need to make sure that you have the patience for them to fall in love with you. You may be ready to love your dog with all of your heart, but it may take a little while for your dog to put all of their trust into you. They have to get used to a completely different environment with strangers. If your new ball of fur doesn't take to you immediately, don't get discouraged. Just be patient.
Establish rules and boundaries from your very first day. Show your dog where they'll be sleeping. Take them for a walk to show them where they'll be using the bathroom. Show them where their food and water bowl will be. If you think moving into a new place is stressful, it's even more so for your dog. 
You should start researching veterinarians before you bring your dog home. Once you've found the perfect one, bring your dog to their new vet for a check-up and to catch them up on shots. It's not going to be cheap, so make sure you're ready for the investment.
Your new pup will require a lot of love and attention, not just in the beginning, but forever. I just adopted my dog in January, and I can't imagine life without her. Don't settle for just any dog. Find the perfect match for both of you!

Have you adopted a shelter dog before? Are you a dog owner?
P.S. If you love books, you should join in on the Summer Book Swap! It's an easy way to make friends and discover new books. For more info, click here! And happy reading!

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Calling All Bookworms! - Summer Book Swap.

Do you love discovering new books? Do you love getting things in the mail? Do you love blogger swaps?

Of course you do!

I'm so excited to share a unique and fun opportunity with fellow book lovers like myself. Tiffany from Endless Bliss, Emily from Designs by Emily, Carly from Carly Blogs Here and Lauren from Sassy Sweetheart have paired up to bring you the Blogger Book Swap!

The rules are simple:

1// Follow your hosts Tiffany, Emily, Carly and Lauren.

2// Sign up by filling out this form. The book swap is open to anyone, including non-bloggers and international bloggers. Sign-ups must be submitted by Sunday, May 25th.

3// Pairs will be announced on Tuesday, May 27th. Be looking for an email! After pairs are announced, you must contact your partner within 48 hours. If you are unable to contact your partner, please email Tiffany at tiffanykwhite@gmail.com by Friday, May 30th, and we'll see about getting you paired with someone else.

4// Spend the next 2 1/2 weeks getting to know your partner! Talk about your favorite books, authors or anything book or non-book related. Take this opportunity to learn about what books your partner would be interested in receiving, and choose the perfect book for your partner! It will be your responsibility to obtain the address of your partner in order to mail the book you choose for him/her. 

5// You must mail your book by June 15th! Be sure to get a tracking number for your package so we will be able to confirm that your book was sent. 

6// If you're a blogger, write a post about your book swap (or maybe do a book review!) and link-up on any of the hosts' blogs on June 20th. The link-up will be open until the end of the month, so if you do want to read your book before you post about it, you'll have plenty of time. 

7// If you post your to your social media accounts, be sure to use the official hashtag #SummerBookSwap. This goes for both bloggers and non-bloggers.

8// For bloggers, don't forget to grab the button below and place it at the end of your blog post!
Feel free to spread the word about this swap. Everyone is welcome to join in on the swap, including non-bloggers and international residents. The more sign-ups we get, the more fun all of us will have!

Disclaimer: We are hosting this swap because we are all book lovers and wanted a fun way to share books with other book lovers; however, we cannot be held responsible for the actions of your partner. We like to believe that everyone will be respectful and responsible enough to fulfill their end of the swap, but that is not always the case. If you do have any problems with your partner what-so-ever, please let us know, and we will try to remedy it as quickly as possible.

Happy reading!

Summer Blog Swap

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