Monday, August 18, 2014

Pineapple Lime Summer Sangria

Is there anything more refreshing than a cool glass of sangria on a warm summer day? I love letting the flavors marinate together overnight - so delicious! I've played around with many different fruit and wine combinations, but I keep coming back to this version. In addition to being packed with flavor, it's also low in calories so you can feel free to pour yourself a second (and third) glass!

Pineapple Lime Summer Sangria
(adapted from Hungry Girl's Swingin' Sangria recipe in Hungry Girl Happy Hour)

Ingredients (for 1 large pitcher, or 10 servings)
* 1 teaspoon sugar-free lemonade powdered drink mix
* 8 oz. can of pineapple chunks packed in juice
* 1 nectarine, chopped
* 1 lime, sliced into rings
* 2 apples, chopped
* 1 750-milliliter bottle of pinot grigio
* 12 oz. diet lemon-lime soda

1) Add the powdered lemonade to 8 ounces of water, stir, and set aside the glass.

2) Prepare all fruit and place in a large pitcher. Add the lemonade drink and the bottle of pinot grigio. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours (preferably overnight).

3) Immediately prior to serving, stir the soda into the pitcher.

4) Pour and enjoy!

What's your favorite way to make a summer sangria?

Linking up today with Meg, LeeannKimberleeMolly, CarlyEmilyKateJennifer JuniperEmilyKristenEmilyMandy, and Mandy.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Five on Friday {August 15, 2014}

TGIF Gals! Hope everyone had a great week and has lots of fun summery plans ahead for the weekend - here are the 5 things I've been obsessing over this week!

I'll take one each, thanks!
Pinot Grigio on demand?! Umm… yes please! I recently discovered Bota Box while perusing the wine selection at Wegmans, and while I certainly have had my share of boxed wine back in college, this certainly didn’t look like the white zinfandel I used to choke down back in the day. With some sort of fancy filtration system, it promises to keep the wine fresh for well beyond the shelf life of bottled wine. And with Pinot Grigio being such a staple in the M household, I figured for $18 (for the equivalent of 6 bottles of wine!), I couldn’t not try it out!  

2| August Birchbox

I’m not sure what got into Birchbox this month, but I’m loving their sassy and empowering shipping labels that they used – have you all noticed the same on yours this month?! Well apparently I’m Phenomenal and so was my box this month! Between 3(!) hair products, an eyeliner, hand cream, face wash and a bronzer, I’m super excited to dig into all these goodies and even more excited for the 70 rewards points I’ll earn upon providing my reviews!

And speaking of Birchbox, I had received this CC Cream sample a couple months back, but have just now really given it a chance, and I absolutely love it! I’m usually a BB gal, but I’m really loving the texture and natural coverage of this CC Cream and will definitely be purchasing once my (very generous) sample finally runs out. If you are in the market for a new bb/cc/tinted moisturizer, I highly recommend checking this out!

4| Chocolate Greek Yogurt – Sugar Free Hot Chocolate Edition
Ok, I know what you must be thinking.. what is this girl's deal with sugar free hot chocolate (and in the summer, no less!)?! I know, I know.. but just hear me out. For some inexplicable reason, there is an endless supply available to me at work, and since I can’t exactly be shaking up frozen hot chocolate martinis at my desk, I’ve been “experimenting” whenever that chocolate craving hits! And while I can’t promise this is the last you’ll hear about sfhc, I can promise you’re going to love this one! Just mix about ½ a packet into your greek yogurt, stir like crazy, clean up the powdery mess left on your desk, and then enjoy! It’s seriously way more delicious than it should be.. and really a guilt-free indulgence! It tastes just like chocolate cheese cake and if you add in a little fruit, it’s beyond amazing!

5| My Favorite Little Shark 

Not only is it Shark Week over on The Discovery Channel, but also in the M household! We all know that Baby M loves a good theme, so this past weekend he donned his most fierce shark gear and we hit up a splash park! Baby M could not get enough of running through all of the crazy sprinklers and while he may have not been the most ferocious shark, he was definitely the cutest!

What are all you Gals up to this weekend?!

- M

Cheers to AmandaJennieAmyKarli, and Lauren for hosting today's link-ups!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Top 10 Summer Beach Books of 2014

Remember when you were a kid and the library had a summer reading program, where you could win prizes based on how many books you read? I was always totally into crushing those contests, so it's no surprise that I'm still obsessed with libraries (it seems like magic when I can borrow books on my Kindle!) and with summer reading lists.

A great book is a staple of any beach vacation or pool day. In today's fast-paced world, finding time for the simple pleasure of losing yourself in an absorbing novel is not easy, so I always like to have a list of books ready to go for the rare occasions that I have some free reading time. Here are the books that top my 2014 summer reading list:

I've been an Emily Giffin fangirl ever since my college roommate was moving across the country and I inherited her copies of Something Borrowed and Something Blue, so naturally I've been chomping at the bit to see what Ms. Giffin has in store for us now. Smart, girly, and always relatable, her latest novel follows a woman in her early thirties who has to decide whether the hometown she's always loved is enough for her, or if there is a bigger passion for her to pursue elsewhere.

Lately it seems like I can't take a single subway ride without seeing a young woman absorbed in this book, and this week I joined their ranks by cracking open my copy. CEO and all-around badass Sophia Amoruso shares her unconventional path to the top with real world tips for women to succeed and thrive in their professions.

This was my airplane book during my recent trip to Vegas, and I could not put it down (after all, I love a good mystery). I don't want to spoil it by giving away too many plot details but there is a mysterious disappearance, a killing plot, cyber seduction, and's an intense ride!

Last summer, I read Brandi Glanville's first book and recommended it to our TSN readers, so it's only natural that her sequel would make this year's reading list. Brandi is irreverent, outrageous, and more than eager to spill the juicy details of her checkered dating past - it's like chatting with your best gal after a few too many glasses of wine! 

Jennifer Weiner is basically the unofficial Queen of Chick Lit for Smart Women, so of course her latest novel is a highly anticipated release. This one centers around a woman who appears to have it all, but slowly descends into addiction to keep up the facade of her perfect life.

I have to admit, I was originally drawn to this book because of its crafty-sounding title. As it turns out, this is less DIY and more memoir, as the author shares her story about what she learned as a nanny and how it impacts her life as a daughter and mother. I always have a soft spot for stories about caregivers and how the lessons they learn on the job influence their personal lives, so this one sounds right up my alley.

Rachel Bertsche is a total gal's gal, and I loved her MWF Seeking BFF because it focused on the importance of female friendship and her challenging quest to find a true BFF (and after reading about some of her struggles, it made me even happier to have M as my main gal!). I was pleasantly surprised to see that she has a new publication out this year that centers on celebrity girl crushes, and if emulating their lifestyles holds the key to happiness. This author is refreshingly honest, so I can't wait to see what kind of awkward scenarios she's gotten herself into this time on her journey to creating a glamorous celeb-esque lifestyle!

I loved Megan Abbott's creepy exploration of the cutthroat world of cheerleading in Dare Me, and it looks like her signature mysterious style is back once again with The Fever. This novel follows a seemingly normal community shaken by an unexplained illness that tears through the town, leaving plenty of questions in its wake.

Cindy Chupack made a name for herself as a writer on Sex and the City, so we've been longtime fans of her observations on dating. This book explores her marriage and all of the adjustments it takes to build a life together after being single for so long (she met her husband when she was 39). A friend of mine attended a reading of this book and gave me a personalized copy signed by Cindy as a gift, so I'm eager to dig into it!

What happens when an unknown actress is thrust into the spotlight after marrying an A-list celebrity, who has been haunted by gay rumors for years? Amy Sohn's latest novel is set in the glamorous world of Hollywood, where the personal lives of this "perfect" couple are not quite as rosy as they seem.

Which great books have you read this summer? Let me know what else I should add to my list!


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pretty Polishes: Summer Faves

Hey Gals!  With only a month left of summer, I’ve vowed to make the most of it and enjoy every last bit of sunshiney goodness that comes along!  So with fall right around the corner, I’ve been loving my fun summer mani options.  I love a dark polish as much as the next gal, but as long as it’s still summer, you’ll find me sporting neons and brights (and glitter.. which is seasonless, of course!).  So today I thought it’d be fun to share my favorite summer polish go-to’s while the weather is still warm and the coffee is still iced!!

I’ve reached for this pink many times this summer – it’s the perfect neon pink that brightens up your look and looks great with a tan!  I love it on my fingers and my toes, which gives me double the opportunities to wear it!  It applies like a dream, and has an almost matte appearance once it dries, which makes it unique, though I usually will seal it with a shiny top coat since I love the slicked look.

While Deborah Lippmann is normally known for her glitters, this bright orange stunner is not to be overlooked.  It’s the perfect summer shade and was actually my polish of choice for B’s recent neon themed bbq!

I recently discovered this fan favorite, and I’m not sure why it took me so long!  But I absolutely love the powdery blue color and how adorable is the name?!  I found that the application is a little tricky, so just be careful to let your nails dry between coats and use a good top coat to seal and smooth it out.

How can we have a summer polish list without this mermaid-y goddess?!  If you are looking for a change of pace from the usual neons and summer brights, then this is definitely your gal!  The color is turquoise perfection, with lots of beautiful glitter and texture that will have you staring at your nails all day long!

If you are looking for a great summer mani, but want something a little more subdued than some of the bolder selections listed above, I definitely recommend checking out this opaque lavender orchid cream.  And seeing as radiant orchid was the Pantone color of the year, you can’t get more on trend than this!

No nail list of mine would be complete without a Rescue Beauty Lounge pick!  This color is peachy perfection while still being very subtle for those days you are stuck behind a desk instead of at the beach!  And the formula is a beautiful squishy jelly, which means it’s a breeze to apply and you can layer as many or little coats as you want to vary the intensity of the color.

What are your favorite summer polishes?!  Are you excited for the moody and brooding darks of fall or are you like me and looking to preserve every sunny last drop of summer?!

- M

Friday, August 8, 2014

Five on Friday {August 8, 2014}

Greetings from Las Vegas! I'm here on Day Two of a much-needed girls trip...yay for vacation! To celebrate, today's Five on Friday list is dedicated to my top 5 vacations:

ONE | Los Angeles/San Francisco (2013)

My big trip last year was a West Coast adventure with some great friends - it included my first visit to Los Angeles, plus a road trip up the iconic Pacific Coast Highway to spend a few days in San Francisco. Along the way, we squeezed in a day trip to Disneyland, a tour of the Warner Brothers Studios (including the Pretty Little Liars set!), a surfer day in Venice Beach, an overnight in Santa Barbara, and tons of delicious dining experiences, including my first trip to In-N-Out Burger and dinner at Sur (of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Vanderpump Rules fame!).

TWO | Japan (2007)

During his junior year of college, my brother spent a semester abroad in Japan which was the perfect excuse for a big family trip! This was my first time in Asia, and there was definitely a bit of culture shock which made it one of my most unique vacations ever. Highlights included seeing a play at the national kabuki theater, visiting local temples, and checking out the awesome fashion and technology scene (I felt a bit underdressed most days, which is funny since that's usually the opposite of how I feel in my regular life!).

THREE | Florida (2014)

This past February, I spent a week in sunny Naples, Florida! It was a week of pure relaxation, which came at a perfect time since I was making big decisions at that time about switching jobs. Gorgeous sunsets, uncrowded beaches, and tons of yummy restaurants are all that I really need for a successful vacation, so this trip had all of the ingredients for success (oh, and alligators. So that was a plus.)

FOUR | Greece (2010)

When someone offers you a free trip to Greece, you say yes! A few years ago, I was working at an all-girls high school and my boss asked me to be one of the chaperones on the school's annual summer trip to Europe. I would have been psyched to go anywhere, but I was absolutely thrilled when I found out I would be going to Greece, since that had long been at the top of my travel wish list. This itinerary was jam-packed - we saw all the historical sites in Athens, but also had time for the beach and more relaxed vibe of Santorini. With 50 American teenagers by my side, it really was the ultimate girls trip!

FIVE | Las Vegas (2010)

My first (and only other) trip to Vegas was a BFF vacay with a gal you all know co-blogger, M! This vacation was amazing because of course we had lots of quality gal talk while we took in the casinos, pool, and bar scene, but it also stands out because we had our first live encounter with a very special man that weekend...our celebrity crush, Michael Buble! M and I had only one long weekend to go away that worked for both of us, so when she looked up Michael's tour dates and saw that he was going to be performing in Vegas that weekend, our decision was basically made for us. Yes, we selected a vacation destination based solely on Michael Buble's tour schedule haha...but honestly, what more of a reason did we need to go to Vegas?! I'm excited to be back there again this weekend for another fantastic trip!

Hopefully Lady Luck will be on my side this you have any recommendations for things to do in Vegas?

Cheers to AmandaJennieAmyKarli, and Lauren for hosting today's link-ups!


Thursday, August 7, 2014

We Love It: Rent the Runway Unlimited Review

Hey Gals!  Have you heard about RTR’s latest venture (and my new fashion obsession)!?  They recently launched Rent the Runway Unlimited, which basically lets you rent unlimited accessories from lots and lots of fancy designers.  

For $75/month you are initially sent 3 accessory items from a queue of goodies chosen by you.  Then, once you are ready for a new item (or 3!) you just send back the ones you are done with, and they’ll send you that many new items from your queue!  

I was very intrigued when I first heard about this new program they were launching, though was a little skeptical at first.  It’s no secret we’re huge RTR fans here at The Sequin Notebook, so I couldn’t resist looking into further.  After getting the lowdown, I decided to just *browse* and see what sort of items you could select for your queue.. and then it was all over with!  There are so many fabulous accessories to chose from.  They offer tons of fun jewelry, bags, scarves, sunglasses and even vests and jackets!  I decided to take the plunge and try it out after my queue  was filled to the brim with so many amazing finds.  

So I bit the bullet and signed up for their wait list – the program is currently in its Beta version, so spots are limited. Less than a week later I got the email that I was now enrolled and that my box of gems was on its way – yay!  Literally the next day I received my box – double yay!  I received an amazing necklace, a fun pair of pink sunglasses and a gorgeous gold tote bag.   

Annabel Ingall Champagne Tote // Elizabeth and James Shades // Nocturne Necklace

The quality of all of the items is perfect - if I didn't know any better, I would think they are brand new, which I was especially impressed with for the bag, since they tend to get pretty lived in easily.  I can't way to try out the bag for work.  It's the perfect summer tote and I already know I'm not going to want to give it back!  The necklace needs a little planning since it's so stunning, though I can also see it looking really cute with a plain white tee.  I'd say the sunglasses are my least fave, but only because they aren't perfect for my face shape.  So I think I'll be sending those back first so I can get a new item in return, and then once I get a use or two out of the necklace, that'll be next, and then lastly, the bag!  Overall I'm loving Rent the Runway Unlimited and can't wait to try out lots of great accessories that would normally be pretty unattainable for this Gal!  

You can sign-up for the wait list directly on the Rent the Runway site, and it's $75/month.  So are you gals as excited as I am about RTR Unlims?  I'd love to hear if anyone else has signed up or if you are trying out anything else similar out there!

- M

*Disclaimer - This is not a sponsored post and all opinions are my own.  RTR unfortunately has no idea who I am, and this is just one gals honest opinion on a great new find (though RTR if you're reading this - call me! love you! xoxo)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Party Planner: Girls Night on the Patio - Summer Stars

One of my favorite places to entertain is on my patio (it's also the only place I really have to entertain, since I live in a studio apartment!). 

The patio is surprisingly large (it comfortably fits 8 around a dining table, plus a grill), and is a wonderful oasis in the concrete jungle of Manhattan. This unique feature is what made me fall in love with my apartment the first time I toured it, and why I keep renewing my lease year after year. There is just something so special about being able to have some beautiful, quiet, private outdoor space in the middle of this loud, cramped city!

I try not to take this space for granted since it's such a rarity in Manhattan, so I aim to spend as much time as possible on it when the weather is nice and warm. One of my favorite annual traditions is my summer patio kick-off party, which I hold in May right after I plant my patio flowers! This ladies-only affair is always held on a weeknight after work, and is a fantastic way to spend some time outdoors with fun friends after being cooped up all winter, and it sets the tone for more summer patio fun to come!

The theme of this year's patio kick-off was Summer Stars (mainly because I had lots of gold glitzy star stickers that I wanted to use - haha!). I invited a bunch of my girlfriends over and decided to keep things simple by ordering some food platters from Fresh Direct (I was slightly ashamed of my inability to whip up a home-cooked meal, but at least I know my strengths and weaknesses). By cutting back on the food prep, I had more time for my favorite tasks - creating pretty d├ęcor and tasty signature cocktails!

These pear welcome shots were a big hit and can easily be turned into a martini - recipe coming soon!

Let's jump into a little photo tour of the evening:

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