Friday, January 30, 2015

Behind the Scenes of "Live with Kelly and Michael"

This past Monday, I did something I've been wanting to do for as long as I can remember... I saw a live taping of a TV show! The show I went to see was Live with Kelly and Michael in New York City. My parents came to visit me for a few days, and my mom got tickets for us to go to the recording of the show! Apparently, tickets were so easy to get and the best part is, they were free!

On Monday morning, we left my apartment at 6AM and braved the snow storm that was already starting to get to the studio in Lincoln Center. Once we got there, we were forced to wait outside in the freezing cold for more than a half hour, but it paid off because, once we were inside, we got some of the best seats! Special guests during this episode were Kristen Stewart and Grant Gustin. Kristen's interview was pre-recorded unfortunately (possibly because of the impending blizzard in NYC), but we got to see Grant's interview which was so cool! If you don't recognise his name, you might know him as Sebastian from Glee or from his new show The Flash. I actually heard his name before either of those roles because he went to the same college as me! I didn't actually know him, but it's still cool to say we have the same alma mater.

Kelly Ripa, Grant Gustin, and Michael Strahan

Both Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan (the hosts) seemed so nice and genuine throughout the entire show. During commercial breaks, they went around to meet fans in the audience and kept the whole studio lively and fun. I have always been interested in TV production, so it was so interesting to see how the whole process worked behind the scenes! We even got to be on camera a few times which was so cool!

I know a bunch of other shows that are filmed in NYC offer free tickets to sit in the audience. And although some, such as Jimmy Fallon, are much harder to get, there are others that have tickets available on a regular basis. I had no idea it would be so easy to see a live taping of a show, but now that I've experienced it, I definitely want to see more TV shows record this year!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

My Top 5 Winter Nail Polishes of 2015

Every winter, my favourite nail colours change slightly. Some of my previous favourites were black, royal blue, and mint green. This year, I have been especially loving berry tones and dark nails. These are a few of the nail polish shades that I have been reaching for over and over again the past couple months:

O.P.I. "Lincoln Park At Midnight"

This nail polish has been a favourite of mine for a long, long time. Probably about 7 or 8 years. It is a dark purple shade that almost looks black, but when it catches the light, it has a beautiful shimmery effect to it. I have always loved the O.P.I formula, and this nail polish is such an amazing quality. The only critique I've had of O.P.I. polishes in the past is that they take a while to dry completely. BUT I discovered a trick recently to make nails dry almost instantly. After you're done painting your nails and putting on the top coat, stick your hand into a bowl of ice water for about a minute (or until your fingers feel numb!). It seriously works! Now nothing can stop me from wearing this nail colour all the time!

Rimmel 60 Seconds "Red, Steady, Go"

I bought this nail polish last year and still love it. After buying it, I loved it so much that I actually went out and bought it in about five more shades too! The bottle says the nail polish dries in 60 seconds, and while that may be stretching it a little, it honestly is dry within five minutes! It's so convenient when you are in a rush and want to paint your nails before heading out or before going to bed. This shade is a really pretty true red colour, and it's a classic to go with my mostly black, grey, and navy winter clothes!

Essie "Jiggle Hi Jiggle Low"

The company that I work for owns Essie and I am able to get a 50% discount, meaning I have been trying lots of new Essie nail polishes this season! I tried this shade for the first time a few weeks ago, and instantly fell in love. It's a beautiful metallic colour that really sparkles in the light. I kept finding myself staring at my nails while I was wearing it because they were so shimmery, and it almost looked like there were tiny diamonds on my nails! I will definitely be using this nail polish so much this season.

Essie "The Perfect Cover Up"

This is another new Essie polish that I tried this season. I had been wanting a new navy nail polish, and this one was perfect! It's a dark navy that almost has a grey look to it. It's a really nice dark nail polish and such a perfect colour for winter. Like all Essie nail polishes, the quality is amazing, it goes on so smooth, and lasts a long time.

NYC "Columbus Circle Crimson"

My final nail polish favourite this season (and the one I am currently wearing) is this one from NYC. This polish is a deep cranberry shade that is one of my favourites during the Autumn/Winter seasons. I think it looks so perfect with the dark colours I like to wear during this time of the year. Like the Rimmel nail polish, this one dries almost instantly, so it is so convenient and easy when you don't have a ton of time to dedicate to painting your nails.

Thanks for reading! Let me know what your top nail polishes are this season!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

First Broadway Show of 2015: "It's Only A Play"

This past weekend, my parents came to visit me in New York. We did lots of fun and exciting things, but one of the highlights was the Broadway show we went to see. My entire family loves live theatre, and we try to see shows as often as possible. This time, we went to see a popular show that I've been wanting to see for a while now, It's Only a Play.
The play is a comedy starring Matthew Broderick, Martin Short, Stockard Channing, and F. Murray Abraham. It takes place in the bedroom of a theatre producer during a party following the opening night of a new play. The characters include the play's writer, producer, eccentric director, leading actress who is a Hollywood has-been, a theatre critic, an actor friend from LA, and a coat check boy. The play starts out with the characters on a high following the play, imagining how much of a hit it will be and how successful they will become because of it. However, once the reviews come out, they realise that the play was a failure. In the second act, they wonder what their next steps should be and try to figure out where everything went wrong.

The acting in It's Only a Play was amazing, and the characters were all perfectly casted. Something that I loved is that the play makes a ton of current cultural references, including other shows that are on Broadway at the moment, celebrities who are hot right now, and selfies. This shows that the play's references must be updated all the time, so it really stays up-to-date and everyone understands the jokes. This play had everyone in the theatre laughing throughout, and I would definitely recommend going to see it if you are in New York City!
a hallway of Broadway theatre posters in a nearby hotel lobby
taking a selfie with the cast
Thanks so much for reading! Let me know if there are any Broadway shows you saw and loved. I'm hoping to see as many as possible while I'm living in New York, and I always love recommendations!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My Favourite Books of 2014

Ever since I was really little, I have been a huge fan of reading, and in 2014 I read a total of 30 different books! I have a very diverse taste when it comes to books, and I have read so many different and great books this past year. These are my favourites from 2014 (in the order that I read them):

"Inferno" by Dan Brown

If you have ever read any books by Dan Brown, you will completely understand why this book was one of my favourites this year. All of Dan Brown's books are so suspenseful and well-written, while really making you think. Inferno was the latest installment in the Robert Langdon series (following Angels and Demon, The Da Vinci Code, and The Lost Symbol). The book starts out with Robert Langdon waking up in Florence, Italy with no memory of how he got there. Like the previous books in the series, a mystery quickly unwinds and Robert is forced to solve it using a series of clues and symbols. This book focuses heavily on symbols within The Divine Comedy by Dante, the Middle Ages, and the plague. I can't say a lot about the book without giving away too much, but I would seriously recommend reading this book! There are constant twists and you won't be able to put it down!

"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" by Mark Haddon

This book was completely different than any other book I have read because it was told from the point of view of a teenage boy with autism. Throughout the book, the author gives you some insight into the thought processes autistic people go through and how it may differ from your own. In the book, the main character Christopher finds that his neighbour's dog has been killed. Since Christopher was the one to find the dog, he immediately comes under suspicion. He then brings it upon himself to solve the mystery of who killed the dog. In the meantime, Christopher finds out a secret that his father had been keeping from him for years, causing him to leave their town of Swindon and head to London. The overwhelming amount of stimuli that Christopher experiences in London is so interesting to read from his point of view. I thought this book was really well-written and so interesting, making it stand out in my mind as one of my favourite books of the year.

"Divergent" by Veronica Roth

If you were a fan of the Hunger Games trilogy, you will love the Divergent trilogy. The books take place in a post-apocalyptic Chicago where the city is broken off into five different factions based on personality type, including Abnegation for the Selfless, Dauntless for the Brave, and Erudite for the Intellectual. Everyone is born into one faction, but when they are 16, they take an aptitude test to see which faction they should be in. Then they decide whether they want to stay in their birth faction or transfer to a new one. The catch is, if someone transfers, they can't talk to their family or friends from their old faction again. The main character, Tris discovers she has an aptitude for three of the factions, making her Divergent. The society sees this as dangerous, so she is forced to keep her divergence a secret. She decides to leave her native Abnegation to join the Dauntless. She is then forced to go through an intense initiation process in which she makes friends, learns a lot about herself, becomes stronger, and even falls in love. Meanwhile, political issues in the city come to a head, causing everything to change. This book was so good and I read it within a few days because I couldn't put it down. After reading the book, I also saw the movie which I would also highly recommend!

"The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green

As I'm sure you know, this book was huge this year, especially after it was made into a movie over the summer. Before reading this, I wasn't sure the book would live up to all the hype I had heard, but I can honestly say, I really enjoyed it! The book is told from the point of view of Hazel, a teenage girl with cancer. When she goes to a cancer support group, she meets Augustus Waters, a boy who had cancer that went into remission. Hazel and Augustus become good friends and end up falling in love. It was so interesting to read all of Hazel's thoughts and see how strong and confident she is and how she doesn't let her cancer take over her life. This book will really make you feel all the emotions. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and everything in between. I loved this book (and the movie as well), and definitely plan to read more of John Green's books in 2015.

"Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn

This was another book that was hugely popular this year and also had a movie based off it. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I absolutely loved the book! The story focuses around married couple Nick and Amy Dunne. Nick returns home one day to see that Amy is gone and the house is a mess, showing that there must have been some sort of struggle. Nick immediately thinks she was kidnapped, but after police begin investigating, they find Amy's dairy. In the diary, she described the struggles she and Nick were having in their marriage and ways in which Nick was abusive to her. Once the diary is found, Nick immediately becomes the prime suspect in Amy's disappearance and potential murder. The chapters switch off being told from Nick's perspective and Amy's perspective, and there is twist after twist, making you question whose side you are on and what really happened to Amy. This book is so suspenseful and, while I was reading it, I could barely put it down! Now I'm dying to see the movie as soon as possible.

"One Day" by David Nicholls

Next up is a book that I've had for a while, but never got around to reading until a few months ago. I had seen the movie One Day with Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess and loved it, so I wanted to give the book a read too. The story follows two friends, Emma and Dexter, over the course of their friendship and, eventually, relationship. What's unique about this writing style compared to other love stories is that it only gives us a glimpse into their life one day a year, on July 15. The book takes place in England so it has that British humour that I love so much. I loved reading this, and after I finished the book, I watched the movie again and felt like I could appreciate it even more!

"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson

I recently finished the third and final book in this series, and they were all so amazing! I especially loved the first book The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but all three books were so good. The main characters in the series are Mikael Blomkvist who is a journalist and Lisbeth Salander who is a math genius/computer hacker/rebel. The books were originally written in Swedish which is where the books take place. The first book in the series involves Mikael being recruited in solving a decades-old murder mystery. Martin Vanger, a wealthy old man, had spent the last 35 years of his life trying to solve the mystery of his brother's granddaughter's disappearance when she was a teenager. Martin believes she was murdered by a member of the family. As Mikael investigates the case, he finds new details to go along with the case, and links Harriet's possible murder to several other girls in Sweden. While searching for the answers to one crime, he ends up discovering some things that are much bigger and scarier. This is another book that has lots of twists and suspense, so I can't say too much, but you would definitely not be disappointed by it! As with several of the books mentioned above, the movie based on this book is also amazing.

"Misery" by Stephen King

And now for the last and one of the best books I read in 2014—Misery. I have wanted to read this book for a while, but was too afraid it would give me nightmares. I don't like horror, but when my dad convinced me to read this by saying it's more suspense than horror, I gave it a shot. It is about an author named Paul Sheldon who gets into a car accident in the middle of a bad snowstorm in Colorado, and the woman who rescues him, Annie Wilkes, just so happens to be his number one fan. Her favourite books of his are the "Misery" series, but when she reads the newest book and discovers that Misery dies, she forces Paul to write another book for her, bringing Misery back from the dead. Since Paul is badly injured from his accident, he is completely helpless and is forced to do as Annie says. As the book goes on and you learn more about Annie, you see just how crazy and twisted she is. I loved this book a lot more than I expected to, and it definitely is more suspense than horror. I didn't find it scary, but it was pretty violent and gruesome at times. I also watched the movie while I was home for Christmas and it was so well done. Kathy Bates played Annie and won the Academy Award for Best Actress that year, which she completely deserved. If you haven't read any Stephen King books before, I think this is the perfect book to introduce you to his many twisted stories.

So far in 2015, I have already read three books, so I'm already making some headway in achieving my goal of 35 books by the end of the year. Let me know in the comments of some good books that you've read lately!

Monday, January 12, 2015

14 Things That Happened in 2014

1. I took a class that travelled to New York City and Washington DC. We went to the United Nations, saw Newsies on Broadway, and did lots of sightseeing in both cities.

2. I started my blog!

3. I went to Atlanta with my business fraternity. We went out in Buckhead, explored downtown, and I was reunited with my friend who I hadn't seen in over 2 years!

4. I graduated from college!

5. One of my best friends Ciela came to visit! I showed her around Boston and the South Shore, and we went to NYC for the weekend to celebrate Ciela's birthday.

6. I saw Fall Out Boy, Paramore, and New Politics in concert with my sister!

7. I started a YouTube channel.

8. I attended my first wedding when my cousin Tina got married.

9. I went to Prince Edward Island, Canada for the 8th and final time with my mom, aunt, and grandma.

10. I got a Customer Marketing internship at L'Oréal USA.

11. I took a trip to England and France where I was reunited with my friends Ciela, Ben, and Vanessa and my sister Lexi! During the trip, I went to London, Bath, Cardiff, Weston-Super-Mare, and Paris.

12. I moved to New York City!

13. I saw several broadway shows: Newsies, Flashdance the Musical, This is Our Youth, and You Can't Take it With You.

14. One of my best friends Ben came to visit New York and Boston for Christmas and New Year's! My sister came to NYC with us for New Year's Eve too.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Playing Tourist in my own City and Hometown

This Christmas, one of my best friends, Ben, came to visit for a few weeks to celebrate with me and my family! Ben and I became friends when we both studied abroad in Lyon, France two years ago. Ben, who is from England, had been wanting to visit the US and what better time to do so than at Christmastime? My family met Ben this Fall when we were all in Bath, so they were all so excited to see him again too. The whole holiday season was so much fun and it was great to spend this Christmas with my family as well as one of my best friends!

While Ben was visiting, my family and I took him around to some of the best spots in Boston, the South Shore in Massachusetts, and New York City. I had been to almost all of these places already, but by seeing all of these sights again from a tourist perspective, I was really able to rediscover my current city and my hometown near Boston, and I feel like I am able to appreciate both of them more than I did before!

Thanks for reading! I'm looking forward to exploring my cities even more in 2015, especially New York :)