Category Archives: My Life Update

I’m Back!

Hello My Fellow Book Lovers!

It’s been a long time (longer than I want to admit). I took a few years off to do some other things that were really important to me.

I started a non-profit called the Lisa Michelle Memorial Fund. It’s a fund started in honor of my mother and provides scholarships to students who have lost a parent to substance abuse. It’s been a great rewarding experience to provide these scholarships every year.

I also had been promoted at work and took on a very demanding role. It was a lot of work, but I learned so much in the process. Now I’ve found a new job (same company) as an entertainment underwriter. I essentially get to insure commercials, music videos, documentaries, films, and so much more in film/video production. I love my new job and it has much better work life balance.

I also gained two beautiful nieces and became godmother to both of them. They are beautiful, smart, and fun little girls, so I was spending a lot of time with them. Now they have moved to Idaho and I find myself with a lot more time on my hands.

Now that I’ve gained back some free time, I realized how much I missed my book blog and the book lover community. I may not post as much as I did, but I do want to get back to sharing my thoughts on books, sharing new books I’ve found, and find some new ones in the great community of readers.

Looking forward to being back!

My Life Update #9 | Founded The Lisa Michelle Memorial Fund

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Hello Everyone!

I have some exciting news for you. I’ve finally started The Lisa Michelle Memorial Fund in honor of my mom who passed away on September 20, 2008.

The LMM Fund has been a dream of mine for a long time and I’m in a place where I can finally make my dream a reality. The primary purpose of the fund is to provide scholarships to students who have lost a parent to drug, alcohol, or prescription drug addiction, but I also plan on working with organizations who help families cope with this type of loss and provide ways to prevent it.

Many of you might know that my mom was a prescription drug addict. For as long as I can remember she had this problem and it’s the reason she passed away at such a young age. I’ve written about her and my experiences with this for some time and none of that has helped me cope as much as starting this fund has. Just in the last few weeks I feel like I’m able to channel my grief and anger into something worth while.

My hope is that, in some way, we can help students cope with their loss. So, I need your help to spread the word so that I can offer at least one scholarship next year. Please share on FB, Twitter, Instagram and anywhere else to help me make an impact in the lives of students who lost a parent to substance abuse.

Our website is www.theLMMFund.org and all donations are tax deductible.

Check out some of my past posts about my mom and my family:

Thank you in advance for you support.

Sincerely,

Danielle

My Life Update #8 | I’m Married!!

Hello my lovely followers,

It seems like I’ve been gone for so long, but I’m happy to say that I’m finally a married woman now. Our wedding was beautiful even with the surprise California rain that lasted for 5 minutes. We danced. We cried (ok I cried). We laughed. At the end of the day I married the most wonderful man I’ve ever known.

Now to share some pictures provided by our wonderful, amazing, and talented photographer Sean King of Sean King Photography.

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My Life Update #7 | My Wedding Is Almost Here!

Hi Everyone,

So sorry I’ve been MIA for the last couple of weeks. It’s been pretty hectic because in 6 days I will be getting married! Now I understand why they say the last few weeks are the most stressful.  My fiancé and I have been running around finalizing details and making sure everything is in order.  Thursday and Friday are going to be busy days since my dress, wedding favors, and flower girl shoes need to be picked up and I have to get my nails done.  Hopefully I still have hair by Saturday and please cross your fingers that it doesn’t rain.  It’s supposed to rain Thursday and Friday I guess.

I’ve also been trying to get everything wrapped up at work since I’ll be gone for a few weeks for our honeymoon to St. Thomas.  I can’t wait to lay out with my husband enjoying each other’s company, eating food, and drinking cocktails…and of course I’ll be catching up on my reading.  Right now I’m reading The Beautiful Daughters by Nichole Baart and will end up finishing the book on a nice beach.

I’ll have a few scheduled posts ready during the honeymoon, but will be pretty much off the grid. I just want to spend my honeymoon thinking only of my husband and the fact that we are newlyweds.

I’m so looking forward to this Saturday when I finally get to marry the man of my dreams. He’s so amazing and I can’t imagine my life without him.

Considering how excited I am, I wanted so share some more engagement photos. (I’ve said this a million times, but our photographer is AMAZING!)

"Sean King Photography"

"Sean King Photography"

"Sean King Photography"

"Sean King Photography"

"Sean King Photography"

"Sean King Photography"

My Life Update #6 | Bridal Shower Fun!

It’s been quite a while since I shared a Life Update post.  I thought my bridal shower would be the perfect thing to share today.

My wonderful aunt hosted by bridal shower on Saturday.  It was sprinkling outside, but inside there was an awesome party going on!

I absolutely loved sharing this day with many of the woman in my life.  I had moms, sisters, cousins, aunts, and even a sweet old dog in attendance.

We played several games, but my favorite part was having everyone write down their favorite memory they have with me.  There was a great mixture of all kinds of memories from funny to sweet.

Now to share a few photos from my AWESOME bridal shower!

I absolutely loved my balloons!

 

My fiancé and me.

My fiancé and me.

With my little sisters.

With my little sisters.

Future Mother-In-Law

Future Mother-In-Law

Got one of my favorite bottles of wine!

Got one of my favorite bottles of wine!

My Life Update #5 | Blake Shelton Ten Times Crazier Tour

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On October 4th, I went to my very first Blake Shelton concert during his Ten Times Crazier Tour.  I’ve always loved Blake Shelton, just never had a chance to enjoy his music in a venue with thousands of other fans.  Let’s blame it on the college budget and lack of money to purchase any concert tickets.

I’ve never been to a concert and had the performer tap into several of my emotions like Blake Shelton did.  I was crying, laughing, and having a blast.

The host that night was country legend, Neal McCoy, who I remember listening to when I was young.  He sang songs like The Shake and No Doubt About It, which got me reminiscing about when I was younger and would dance in the living room with my mom.  I was thinking about my mom a lot that night.  She passed away on September 20, 2008 and we had her funeral on October 4, 2008.  So it was an emotional night for me since it had been 6 years to the day that I laid her to rest.

While there were some songs that pricked my heart a bit, Neal had great stage presence and would interact with the crowd during transition periods.  He’d make jokes and even held a contest during the show.

The opening act were country singers Dan & Shay who played some familiar songs that I had heard over the radio and actually liked.

When The Band Perry came out, I felt like we were getting two concerts for the price of one.  Their performance was amazing and they played a few favorites of mine.

blake-shelton-mullet-hairBy the time Blake Shelton came out I was super pumped.  I was crossing my fingers that he’d play Who Are You When I’m Not Looking and God Gave Me You and he totally delivered.  Blake knew how to keep the attention of his fans, making us laugh when he brought out his cowboy hat, which had long wavy hair attached to it.  This was to transition into his older songs that we all love and when he rocked those long curly locks.

There was a particular song that Blake sang which made me almost break down and cry right there in the Hollywood Bowl.  He brought his guitar out and started singing Over You, which his wife Miranda Lambert originally sang.  The song was about Blake’s brother who was killed in a tragic car accident and if you haven’t heard the song, please go listen to it.  If you’ve ever lost someone close to you the song will probably make you tear up.  This is exactly what I was doing when he sang it.  I closed my eyes and just listened to every word, soaked it in, and thought about the good times I had with my mom when she was alive.  The concert had been a good distraction up until that song, but Blake sang it so amazingly and I felt like my mom was with me in that moment.

His concert was the best one I’ve been to in years and I plan on going to many more.

As a side note, I briefly met Blake Shelton after The Voice Season 3 finale.  I felt so stupid when I asked him to take a picture with me because I could barely speak.  I was so nervous meeting someone I thought I would never get the chance to see in person and I thought I was going to faint for the first time in my life.  I know…I sound like a crazy fan, but I promise I’m not.  I got lucky when I had the chance the take a photo with Blake Shelton.  He was so nice about it and was totally willing to take a minute of his time so that I can have a picture that would make me happy and make my day.

Thank you so much Blake Shelton (if for some reason this actually gets to you)!

My Life Update #4 | Engagement Photos

Last Friday my fiancé and I took our engagement photos!  It was a really hot day, but the photos turned out so perfectly.  I’m literally starring at them all day and our photographer only sent a few..there’s still so many more that he is working on.  I can’t wait to go through all of them with my fiancé.

Our photographer captured everything I wanted during the session and we hit every location on our list.  My fiancé spent a whole evening mapping out our locations and it made the session easier for our photographer.

During the session, we would bounce our ideas off the photographer and he’d say, “Let’s try it”.  He was very open to everything we wanted and I didn’t feel rushed.  I have no doubt our wedding photos will be just as amazing.  I seriously can’t wait!

Because I’m so in love with our photos, I wanted to share a few of my favorites from the shoot.  Also, if you guessed the white dress in the recent post “Random Post | Dress Obsession“, you guessed correctly!

"Sean King Photography"

"Sean King Photography"

"Sean King Photography"

"Sean King Photography"

Photos are courtesy of Sean King Photography

My Life Update #3 | Santa Barbara Trip

Over the weekend I took my fiance on a surprise getaway.  We spent a few days in Santa Barbara.  Here’s what we did:

DAY #1 | DROVE TO SANTA BARBARA

I wanted this surprise trip to be a combination of things we like to do together and a few new things added to it.  So, just like any other trip to Santa Barbara we stopped in Ventura to have lunch at Spencer Makenzie’s.

We just happened to stop by during their 5th Annual End of Summer Block Party.  Totally not planned on my part, but it was cool to see what the Cornhole tournament was all about (Check out How to play Cornhole).

After our lunch, we headed to one of our favorite wine tasting rooms called The Ojai Vineyard.  We are wine club members and enjoy our quarterly wine pickups and complementary tastings.  I always end up purchasing a bottle or two of other wines that aren’t included in the wine pickup.  This usually includes their Ice Wine!  I’m in love with their Ice Wine.

We also love the people that work there.  They seem to remember everything about you and are very knowledgeable about their wines.

They recently completed the “new” tasting room and I love the way it looks and how much space it has now, but they kept the old room for private events.  I plan on using this space for my Bachelorette Getaway.  Yay!

After arriving in Santa Barbara, we checked into our hotel and walked down State Street to our destination.  It was a surprise for my fiance, but he figured it out later.  He’s too observant sometimes and noticed a sign that had Celebration Cruises Sunset Cruise information on it.  We spent the rest of the evening on the yacht, Azure Seas, taking in the views and enjoying our time together.

Our final stop of the night, before walking back to the hotel, was to have dinner at the Blue Tavern.  It was on the list of restaurants my fiance wanted to try and a must try for me since the Chef who opened it also owns a restaurant in Downtown LA that I love going to.

As expected, the food was great!  We shared the Beets & Heirloom Tomato Salad, Hanger Steak Anticucho, and the Home Made Papardelle.  Sadly I didn’t take any pictures of the food from Blue Tavern.

Kyle and me at Spencer Makenzie’s

The mixed vegetable tempura, street tacos, and Famous Giant Fish Taco from Spencer Makenzie’s

At one of our favorite wine tasting rooms. The Ojai Vineyard.

Pictures from the Sunset Cruise in Santa Barbara

DAY #2 | HANGING OUT IN SANTA BARBARA

The next day was an early one.  I wanted my fiance and I to do something we have never done together.  In my case, I had never done it at all.  I signed us up for ocean Kayaking.

I had never experienced the ocean this way and had such a blast.  It’s not very easy to kayak, but it’s not as hard as I thought it would be.  I fully expected to fall out several times, but we never did.  There were a few close calls though.

We booked through the Santa Barbara Adventure Company to give us a beginners course and to guide us through the Harbor and into the ocean.  I would highly recommend them if you’ve never Kayaked before.

We did the Santa Barbara Coastal Kayaking package which included all the gear we would need and lunch.  The guides were great and the group was small, making it more enjoyable.  I think any more than eight people would have been too much for the guides to handle.  Did I mention we got super close to some seals and sea lions!

I loved the kayaking experience so much that I didn’t want it to end!  We plan on kayaking whenever we visit Santa Barbara. Now that we know the basics we can just rent the kayaks ourselves without a guide.

The next thing I want to try is the Channel Islands Kayaking Tour also offered by the Santa Barbara Adventure Company.

The rest of the day was spent walking down State Street and going wine tasting.  We stopped at two wine tasting rooms, Pali Wine Company and Riverbench Winery.  Riverbench had a white wine flight and a flight that included sparkling wines. Score!

All ready for Kayaking

My fiancé and I after about an hour of Kayaking

Have you ever been to Santa Barbara?  What do you like to do when you’re visiting?  

Let me know if you have any questions about anything.

My Life Update #2 | Orange County Weekend

A few weeks ago my fiance and I took a long weekend trip.  We called it our “Orange County Trip”.  Here’s what we did:

DAY #1 | ARRIVED IN LAGUNA BEACH

On Thursday evening we headed out for our “Orange County Trip”.  We packed the car and drove right into traffic.  No surprise there though.  It took us a couple of hours, but we finally made it to our first stop…Laguna Beach.  We stayed at this cute hotel called Capri Laguna Inn on the Beach.

Since it was late  and we were tired from the work day and the long drive we decided just to go to dinner.  We got dressed up and walked right across the street to the Selanne Steak Tavern.  This restaurant is owned by Teemu Selanne who was the Anaheim Ducks star player.  Inside the restaurant, there’s a replica of the Stanley Cup and his Olympic Medals on display for everyone to see.  It’s pretty cool.

Not only was the atmosphere and set up amazing, the food was amazing too!  I had the Scarlet Beet Ravioli as a starter and the Chef’s ‘Signature’ Selanne’s Mac and Cheese.  That Mac and Cheese was to die for!  I highly recommend it if you ever try the place out.

Upper Terrace of the Capri Laguna Inn on the Beach

The Scarlet Beet Ravioli from Selanne Steak Tavern

DAY #2 | LAGUNA BEACH

The next day was great.  Had breakfast, provided by the hotel, and went shopping in Downtown Laguna.  We stopped at a few clothing shops and I treated myself to a cute tank top and a really cute dress.  The Candy Baron was a must for me since I’m a sucker for all sorts of sweets.  I got my favorite jelly beans (Dr. Pepper flavor), sour patch kids, and some raspberry candies.  We had lunch at this great place called Watermarc.  The duck burger I got was amazing!

Afterward, we headed down to the beach and our hotel provided us with towels and chairs.  Score!   After laying out, we headed back up to the terrace to grab some of the delicious (free) wine and cheese…and laid out some more.

But wait there’s more…

When we had our fill of free wine, we headed down the street to The Roof Top Lounge at the La Casa Del Camino Hotel for more drinks and to watch the sunset over the ocean.  It was really pretty and romantic.  Then we took the free shuttle to Downtown Laguna again and stopped at 230 Forest Avenue Restaurant to have a few of their signature cocktails.

Our last stop of the night was back at Watermarc again.  At lunch we had such a hard time deciding what to eat because everything looked so good.  So, we decided to have some late night snacks there.  We had the Fried Goat Cheese and the New Zealand Greenlip Mussels.  Did I mention that Watermarc has amazing food?

On the beach in front of our hotel

The beautiful sunset view at La Casa Del Camino Hotel

DAY #3 | SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO & ANAHEIM

On day three, we left Laguna Beach and headed to San Juan Capistrano to check out the Los Rios District which is one of the oldest neighborhoods in California.  The forty homes that still stand were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Some are still private residences while others have been turned into small businesses.  We had lunch at the Hummingbird House Cafe located in this area.

After about three hours of walking around and getting sunburned we headed to Anaheim.  We visited the recently opened Anaheim Packing House.  They converted the old Sunkist packing house into a huge food hall.  It’s really amazing how many different businesses there are.  There’s also live music playing while your there enjoying the food.

After having Indian food we had drinks at the (not so) secret speakeasy called The Blind Rabbit.  You go through a secret entrance and leave through a bookcase within the bar.  It’s so cool and the drinks are really good.  I went with the bartenders choice, so they made me a drink based on the type of alcohol I like.

Lunch at the Hummingbird House Cafe in San Juan Capistrano

Drinks at The Blind Rabbit in the Anaheim Packing House

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The Blind Rabbit secret exit at the Anaheim Packing House

DAY #4 | ANAHEIM

The final day during our “Orange County Trip” was to go see our Angels play baseball.  We love cheering on our team!

We love our Angels

View from our seats at the Angels game

Let me know if you have any questions about the places we went to or have any stories of your own in these areas.

My Life Update #1 | Our Engagement

While I write posts about reading, writing, and books, sometimes there’s a large gap between posts.  It takes time to come up with things to write about and to prep for my next book review (i.e. I have to finish reading the book first).  So, I’ve decided to create a series called “My Life Update”.  It’s pretty simple.  I will give you an update on what’s going on in my life.

I decided the first update would be about my engagement because I love sharing it.  We got engaged at Yosemite National Park in April 2014.  It was a perfect proposal and the perfect place since it’s somewhere my fiance and I love to visit.  When I posted the pictures on Instagram, I was approached by the “How He Asked” website to share my proposal story.  You can check it out here: Danielle and Kyle | Yosemite National Park Proposal

 Here are my favorite pictures from our proposal:

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