Tuesday, October 27, 2009

No Regrets! Giveaway, Interview and Review with the Fabulous Sarah Ivens

Tell me which you regret more: That night back in college where you had a little too much to drink and you can only piece together 95% of the evening? Or having your loved one pass before you could tell him/her how you really felt?

Regretting the things we haven't done, rather than those we have, is the premise behind the book "No Regrets: 101 Fabulous Things to Do Before You're Too Old, Married or Pregnant" by Sarah Ivens.

"Fabulous" is a fitting word for the title, as Sarah herself exudes fabulosity through every page. Not only is she the Editor-in-Chief of OK! Magazine (which alone counts as ultra fabulous in my book), but she has done all but one of the 101 ideas listed in her book. From exotic travels, to indulgent feasts, to the simple pleasures in life, "No Regrets" has it all.

I think this one paragraph from the book about the wonders of Bourbon Street sums Sarah up perfectly:
"I've been lucky enough to meet George Clooney at the Golden Globes, dance with Sharon Stone at the Oscars, and go behind the scenes at New York Fashion Week, but nothing compares to N'awlins."

See what I mean? This girl knows how to have fun!

Consider "No Regrets" to be a bucket list for chic, girly-girls. A glam list if you will. And even though I am married with three kids, and getting closer and closer to what might be considered "old," I am still striving to accomplish at least a few of Sarah's ideas.

While reading, I tended to get excited when I could cross off an idea as already accomplished, such as "buy sexy underwear." I always refuse to wear anything but! There really is something for everyone in here, so even if you can't go on an African Safari, you CAN "be the first to apologize," or "throw yourself a party."

On the top of my glam list:
  1. Rock the Microphone at Karaoke (while I've done an online version of this, I've yet to do it live in public.)
  2. Splash Out in a Burberry Raincoat
  3. People Watch in Paris
So what's the one thing Sarah hasn't been able to do?

"The one thing I couldn't do of my 101 things was visit the Taj Mahal," Sarah told me. "India was declared unsafe just before the trip, so I I had to postpone my visit and rely on multiple accounts of the place from close friends and guide books. I need to go there before I'm too old for sure."

What would be Sarah's biggest regret in life if she weren't able to accomplish it? "My biggest regret in life would be if my friends and family failed to realize how much I love them," she said. "Since writing this book, I am trying to live more in the moment and appreciate the smaller things and people, not just bigger things and things money can buy."

I asked Sarah what one thing from her list of 101 ideas she would do all over again and she picked one that I found fascinating myself. "Swim with sharks in Bora bora - apart from my wedding day, it really was the most exhilarating time of my life!"

And the one idea she would recommend for all of you? "Compete with yourself - not your girlfriend," Sarah advised. "Jealousy and bitchiness get you nowhere. The race is long, and only with yourself."

Told you she was fabulous. :)

Thanks to Sarah and Random House, I have a copy of "No Regrets" to give away to one lucky reader! To enter, simply leave a comment letting me know what you would put at the top of your "No Regrets" list and why.

Be sure that there is an email address for you that I can find, or your entry will have to be disqualified. By entering, you automatically agree to all the rules and disclaimers listed here.

You can receive additional entries by doing one or all of the following (one entry for each step):

~Twitter with a link to this post. Then leave a separate comment here with your Twitter link.

~Blog about this contest with a link to this post. Then leave a separate comment here with the link to your post.

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So A Blonde Walks Into A Review

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Deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Tuesday, November 10, 2009. Winner will be selected at random using Random.org. Good luck!

So A Blonde Walks Into A Review

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Diamond Edition Review

Nothing can turn a bad mood into a good one quite like a classic Disney movie, with "Snow White and the Seven Drawfs" being at the top of the list for me (especially the clip above).

And while the drawfs dig for diamonds, Walt Disney Studio's Home Entertainment (WDSHE) has released "Snow White and the Seven Drawfs: Diamond Edition," which includes two Blu-Ray and one DVD disc(s). Definitely a huge upgrade from our old VHS edition (you can save $10 on an upgrade from older versions, btw. Just click here. Offer is only good until October 20!)

Did you know that this movie is the one that "started it all" as it was the first full-length animated feature? So it's fitting that it is also the premiere entry into Disney's all-new Diamond Edition product line. It's also the first film ever to have a motion picture soundtrack. The film has been in the Disney Vault since 2001, so this is the first time it's been released in any form for eight years!

You MUST see this fantastic trailer for the movie:

So exciting! And when my review copy arrived from the One2One Network, I couldn't wait to sit with my family and enjoy the magic of Snow White all over again!

While the Diamond Edition includes a regular DVD, the most magic is found in the Blu-Ray discs. There are so many wonderful benefits of Blu-Ray, my favorite being that it is more scratch-proof, and thus kid-proof, than a regular DVD.

Here's a list of the wonderful features you'll find in the Diamond Edition:

Picture & Sound

First time ever in high definition 7.1 sound
Disneyview – expanded viewing experience
All-new Music Video (I personally LOVED this feature!)

Disney Family Play

What Do You See? - Decipher the scrambled image
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall – Which princess are you most like?
Jewel Jumble – test your matching skills

Backstage Disney

Snow White Returns – Newly discovered storyboards. Was Walt planning a sequel?
Hyperion Studios – Explore Walt’s original studio
The One That Started It All – See how Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs forever changed the world of movies

Classic Bonus Features

Dopey’s Wild Mine Ride Game
“Heigh-Ho” Karaoke Sing-along
Disney through the decades

And more!

I think the most fascinating feature included in the Blu-Ray disc is the "Disney View." Acclaimed artist Toby Bluth was able to draw beyond the borders of the classic full frame cinema and fill the otherwise dark edges of the screen with beautiful custom imagery, giving audiences a new view of this classic, animated film.

Here's a taste of all that Disney Blu-Ray has to offer:

In all, 14 of the most treasured Disney animated classics will be released through 2016 in the Diamond Edition line.

Click here to check out the official site for "Snow White and the Seven Drawfs: Diamond Edition." Warning - The beautifully animated, interactive diamond game on the site is highly addictive! You'll feel like you're right there in Snow White's world!

As of this writing, the Diamond Edition set, which normally retails for $39.99 is available at Amazon.com for only $19.99 and is eligible for free shipping. Hurry and get yours now because it is only available for a limited time before it goes back into the Disney vault!

So A Blonde Walks Into A Review

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Nat & Alex Wolff Prizepack Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Kerrie from "Not in Kansas Anymore." Her name was selected via Random.org as the winner of the Nat & Alex Wolff prizepack giveaway.

Thanks to all who entered and to Crowd Surf for sponsoring this fabulous giveaway!

So A Blonde Walks Into A Review

Monday, October 5, 2009

Smucker's Uncrustables

When I was a little girl, my grandma would always be sure to cut the crust off of my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for school. Now, my kids share my love of crust-free sandwiches and I have an easier way of providing them with such treats than my grandma did.

Smucker's Uncrustables not only come crust-free, but they are in fun circle-shapes with crimped edges that can be appealing to even the pickiest of eaters. My kids LOVE them!

These thaw-and-serve sandwiches come in a variety of flavors, and now there are new whole-wheat versions to ensure that your children are eating fun AND healthy! My kids enjoy all of the varieties, but grape jelly and peanut butter is their favorite. This and two other flavors come in whole wheat: PB & Honey and PB & Strawberry Jam.

Click here to use Smucker's "FlavorFinder" to see which sandwiches are available near you. And while you're there, check out the amazing, after-school, organizational tips Smucker's gathered to help give moms a break!

Disclosure Note: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Smucker’s Uncrustables and received a sample to facilitate my candid review. In addition, Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.

So A Blonde Walks Into A Review

Thursday, October 1, 2009

"I Feel Free" - Lady Gaga at DAR Constitution Hall in DC

Note: Click on photos to enlarge. You can also see more videos from the show here.

Lady Gaga finally made her much-awaited, rescheduled appearance in Washington DC at DAR Constitution Hall on Tuesday. I was fortunate enough to cover the show from the orchestra pit along with my friend Heather:

As we waited an hour-and-a-half past the 8 p.m. start time, we were entertained by music that seemed fresh out of New York's fashion week. Heather commented that the seating arrangement at the hall made it seem like The Oscars and I completely agreed. The whole vibe was just very glam.

The place was packed with the most gorgeous, stylish, unavailable men...at least for the ladies (poor Heather). I had worn a simple cardigan and tank with jeans but wished I had instead chosen something sparkly and bold as most others had.

I was given a photo pass to wear, which one guard at the backstage entrance told me would get me backstage after the show. Unfortunately, we would find out after the show that she was wrong, much to Heather's and my disappointment.

There was no opening act, so at 9:30, a video montage with Lady Gaga as a character named "Candy Warhol" began playing. Candy complains that someone has stolen her heart and it got a bit graphic at this point as she opened her jacket and showed the bloody evidence of her missing heart.

Candy announces that she feels....."Lost? Empty?" a man asks in the background.

"No, free. I feel free," she answers to a cheering crowd. The montage continued from there into a burst of flames that really got the crowd revved up:

When the curtain fell, and Lady Gaga stood there in all her glory, I was in awe of how gorgeous she looked in person. Her fabulous costumes and dance moves were only outdone by her impeccable voice. And the most perfectly-shaped butt I have ever seen! *jealous*

What impressed me the most, though, was how personal she was to the crowd and how much she connected with everyone. The Lady Gaga you see portrayed in the media often comes off as aloof and conceited. Yet, she was the complete opposite of that as she sang greetings to DC, told everyone how much she loved them, thanked them for their support, etc.

She gave out as many gifts as she received, throwing out gloves, drumsticks and even her microphone, into the crowd. At one point, she handed her microphone to a man in the front row and let him sing part of the lyrics....a man who just happened to be Heather's friend. Here's Spencer with his friend Alex (Heather and I were in this picture, but I looked so horrible, I had to crop it. Sorry, Heather!):

Alex had her own brush with fame as Lady Gaga accepted a ring she handed to her, put it on her finger and told the crowd, "Do you know what this means? This means we're married. Because I f*cking say so!" Alex later told Heather and me that she wants spousal support...or at least a hug, lol.

Another thing I discovered about Lady Gaga is that she has a strong faith. At one point she told the crowd that she had something very important to ask of them. "I'm a big believer in God and miracles and the power of prayer," she said.

She then said that her father was going to be having heart surgery soon and she asked if everyone could please send him good thoughts. At that point, she turned her head away from the crowd and wiped her eyes.

Later, she directed her comments to the youth in the audience who "maybe hate (their) parents" because they won't let them stay out late (among other reasons). Lady Gaga told them to go home and make sure they tell their parents that they love them because they do not want to be sitting there one day feeling like she did right then. You could feel her angst and regret, and it was heartbreaking.

And, of course, she acknowledged her gay fans (which are many), dedicating the song, "Boys, Boys, Boys" to them:

The piano rendition of "Poker Face" was the highlight for me, especially with her bubble costume and piano:

Lady Gaga did various vogue-like poses throughout the number and sang out a greeting to DC:

After holding her leg in the air for quite awhile so that everyone could snap a picture, she said, "Good shot!" which was exactly what everyone was thinking.

She then segued into the regular version of the song while donning a cap and climbing on top of the piano:

The finale came sooner than expected for me, with the show running only about an hour long. I think I speak for most everyone when I say we definitely wanted more Gaga!

As I write this, news just broke that her upcoming "Fame Kills" tour with Kanye West has been cancelled, so getting more Gaga is going to be longer than I would like, unfortunately. (UPDATE: Lady Gaga announced today, October 2, that she will continue on the tour solo!)

On a side note, Heather got herself what she has now dubbed a "Lady Gaga Happy Meal" after the show:

Barbie and Gaga - separated at birth. But, after this show, there's no doubt Barbie could only hope to be as free and glam as Lady Gaga. ;)

Many thanks to Lady Gaga's team for the opportunity to review this fabulous show and to Heather for once again being the perfect assistant as well as friend. She snapped so many good Twitpics with her phone for the live Twitter coverage, which freed me up to take the camera shots (the credit for the pic below the finale video goes to her as well). Heather, you so rock!

Note: Originally posted at So a Blonde Walks Into a Blog.

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