Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Where did you go?

I need a break is all. I’m ok. If you know me in real life, shoot me an email or a text. We can meet for some coffee or go for a run/walk. If you don’t know me in real life, you can still send me an email. Until then, I hope you are all well!

 

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Music Review: Train’s Bulletproof Picasso

 

 

Three-time Grammy winning San Francisco band Train’s upcoming new album,Bulletproof Picasso, is available for pre-order at iTunes & Amazon, giving fans the early jump aboard Train’s much anticipated 7th studio album in advance of its September 16th release date.

When I was contacted by the One2One Network with an exclusive opportunity to review their new album, I jumped on it. You see, Train’s Drops of Jupiter pulled at me in a way that is difficult for me to describe. It is melancholy, hope, loss…walking away with the remains of your heart in your hand, knowing that life dealt you a major lesson. A lesson you wouldn’t forget, and the memories you coveted would happily resonate with you forever, even if it was laced with tears. How I didn’t know they were from San Francisco until recently is beyond me, but I understand it. There’s something to the city that very much makes me relate to their music more. I first connected with them with their Meet Virginia back in 1998. I wondered if anyone would ever see me the way Pat Monahan described this Virginia. Fast forward many more years, and Save Me San Francisco was released. When I first heard Hey, Soul Sister I thought they’d had new life breathed into them. They sounded different, happier, I suppose, not that they were all broody-moody, but yes, this tune was catchy, easy to listen to, and fun to sing along while with friends.

So what of Bulletproof Picasso? I know there are definitive hits on it. It is as easy listening as their previous albums. Their first single, Angel in Blue Jeans has already seen success. On their site, they have Danny Trejo quoted, “This song is gonna be a hit, I’m telling you. Everybody’s heard it. Low riders are all bumping it pretty loud!” It is fun! When you start up the album from the beginning to end, you will want to move, to dance, and try to learn the words to sing along. This album is going to be very FUN to see on tour. I’ve seen them on tour before and they put on a good show. I can’t wait until they come to town so I can see these songs performed live because they make me want to dance.

Give it All & Baby, Happy Birthday really pulled at my heartstrings. His voice just resonates in a way that people will be able to connect to. “I’ve always wanted to emotionally connect with people through the songs,” says Monahan. “But I also want to get into people’s lives with this album. We’re very excited about Bulletproof Picasso and we’re looking forward to performing some of the new songs for all our fans.”

I intend to purchase the vinyl version of this album. Go on out and enjoy some Train!

Tracklisting for Bulletproof Picasso:

1. Cadillac, Cadillac

2. Bulletproof Picasso

3. Angel In Blue Jeans

4. Give It All

5. Wonder What You're Doing For The Rest Of Your Life

6. Son Of A Prison Guard

7. Just A Memory

8. I'm Drinkin' Tonight

9. I Will Remember

10. The Bridge

11. Baby, Happy Birthday

12. Don't Grow Up So Fast

 

  * iTunes: http://smarturl.it/bulletproofpicasso
  * Amazon: http://smarturl.it/bulletproofpicassoAM

 

I participated in the Train Bulletproof Picasso album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided a free album to review but all opinions are my own.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Healthy body, Healthy Mind...30 Days Challenge to Get Back to Basics

 

I've long wanted to affect positive changes in life. if you know me personally, I would hope you already know this. I give optimism, lend a listening ear, and encourage when I feel someone may need encouragement. By doing this,  I hoped that I could positively impact others to be the very best version of themselves—per their own definitions of what that mean.

When I started the Bianca Birthday 5K last year, I was overwhelmed by the response and even further humbled by the participation this year. It's only been a few short months since that time, but why wait a year for another push? I don’t know about you, but September is always hectic! Between the start of school, tailgate parties, and cooler Autumn weather, it is easy to become complacent with an exercise routine. Yes, I said routine. Some of you have specific routines at your Crossfit boxes, others hit the pavement with a running plan, and others may do heavy lifting every day, sculpting their muscles perfectly to expose the strong sinew under the skin. You know what else is a routine? Coming home from a long day, sitting on the couch and zoning out, while munching away on food that you picked up in the drive-thru line. This also may mean getting up late, missing your alarm, and the inevitable irritable rush to ready the day, desperately counting the moments to your coffee drink to do it all over again. I know, this well. This is easy to get into and SO, SO, SO tough to break!

Change begins when you are willing to break your routine. Here's some truth: Recently, I talked with my doctor about a prescription weight loss pill* recently I was obsessed with not losing weight in spite of marathon training. Upon telling her this, and hearing myself say it, I stopped speaking, internally acknowledged my fear, and changed course. I needed something to help me breathe easier so I could train harder. I needed something to combat my low energy levels. Blood work and an x-ray gave clues to what I needed. I now take Vitamin D pill for my energy and focus on eating dark leafy vegetables to increase my iron levels. I also take Symbicort and Albuterol for my lungs. Instead of tempting boredom with only running, I opted for a bonafide cross-training option. Camp Gladiator had a $6 unlimited boot camps special for September. Add that to my marathon training plan, and I have a built-in workout schedule for the next month. At least 1 hour a day is focused dedication for my body. (Endorphins will make the brain happy.)  I am determined to get back to basics, commit to 30 days of healthy living (clean eating and exercise) to get me back on track with my goals. Yes, MY goals to be the best version of myself as defined by me. Yours will be different and that's ok, wonderful and all together necessary for YOUR success!

But here's where I need your help. Join the Facebook Group I’ve created for September. You can opt in to pay the $25 to be sure you are committed. if you pay, you will receive an Exercise Shirt after the end of the month and your name will be entered to win the grand prize. What is the grand prize? If you win, you get to take the remainder of the money after the t-shirts to donate to YOUR favorite charity! If you aren’t financially able to participate, that’s ok, I still want you to join! Join the group, participate in the check-ins, be publicly accountable, and work hard to reach your goals!

Set realistic goals. If you can't even run for two minutes, I don't expect you to set your goal to run a half marathon in a month. But you WILL be able to at least walk one a year later, but that starts today. if you are able to do 200 pushups and crank out 6+ miles, then reach higher. Maybe aim for a faster 10K or do more than what your comfort level is. We all have goals and I want to cheer you on. I want you to cheer me on. Let’s do it together so we can train for life! #tfl

You have two days until we start. Think about your goals, and come join us!

 

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*It should be noted that I’m not hating on anyone who uses diet pills. I haven’t exhausted every option before going down that path, meaning, I don’t feel like I gave a solid strength and conditioning plan, nor did I exercise portion control or counted calories. Prescription medication can be quite effective, especially when closely monitored by a doctor. Do whatever you have to do, but know that there is no magic pill that replaces a good diet and proper exercise.

Friday, August 22, 2014

My Romantic Dragon Slayer

Last August, I felt like I’d been through an emotional spin-cycle and somehow came out of it feeling like someone had shoved me through two tight rollers: leveled, sore, shattered but still alive. I’d been made aware to face my demons head-on and I’d felt so emotionally violated as a result of it that, well, I shut the world out. It was revisiting a familiar place, that I seem to cycle through, only this time…this time I was armed. This actually surprised me quite a bit. Mainly, I think it is because I was open to accepting grace and through the cracks, love shined through. The other times I had been in this state of depression, I’d felt so low, I allowed shame and grief to consume me. I didn’t reach out. I didn’t feel like I could trust anyone, largely in part because I was ashamed and mostly because I didn’t want to seem weak and burden someone else with my baggage. So I held tightly onto dark experiences, never openly admitting them to anyone. I had no idea how each of those experiences had left an invisible fingerprint onto how I viewed the world…how I reacted to people. It must be state-the-obvious day, but think about it some…Have you ever reflected on those miniscule moments in time that altered/shaped you? Look at a scar on your body and remember how fast the injury happened, but that everlasting scar, undeniable, and at times, blends in with the rest, but it is there.

When I graduated from college, I was able to share some time with my grandparents. My grandfather had motioned me to him, and let me know that the secret to a long life was to have a shot of tequila every day. If I felt sick, then tequila would cure me. If I was thirsty, the tequila would help. If I was cold, the tequila would warm me. And if I was melancholy, the tequila would medicate my soul. He even presented me with a clay pot that my grandmother told me he kept cool water in, but he whispered he kept some tequila in it, too. ha! I grew up believing my grandfather was this stern, proud stereotypical Latino who loved dancing, did not at all fear hard work, and had a passion for life. I was petrified to ever talk with him as a child. I really don’t know why. I remember his large, weathered hands…hands that had known hard labor for years. The smile creases around his eyes, that I liked to attribute to the many smiles he always gave me. I remember the feel of his stubble on my face and how, coupled with is aftershave, would make my face itch and burn. I remember the blessings he’d pray over our family before we would travel back home, especially in the later years, when he was in his maroon plaid robe, pajama pants, and black leather slippers. The mess of a curl atop his head transitioned from peppered to all white the last time I saw him. When he spoke, I listened.

My first experiences with tequila were quite typical: really bad hangovers—CRUDA. When my uncle passed away, the evening after his funeral, I splurged and bought a bottle of Don Julio 1942 tequila. It was the first sipping tequila I tried and what a completely different experience! I was uncertain if the experience was altered simply because I sat around with my aunt and cousins, sipping this tequila, remembering my uncle, hearing incredible tales of his life’s adventures. My favorite, was of him joining the Navy in spite of not knowing how to swim. The one of him jumping off the ship into the ocean could’ve been horrible, but instead, it was an incredulous moment of strength of spirit and my family’s tenacity. I smell that tequila and I remember my uncle fondly. I remember that evening, and I am connected to my family all over again.

After that evening, I wanted to explore tequila with new eyes. I tried infusing it differently and making fancier cocktails based on classic recipes. I was introduced to Casa Dragones through a local store that had a free tasting. Truthfully, it was on Mama Oprah’s list of favorite things and I wanted the chance to taste a bit of what true luxury felt like.  It was winter and I went with my work buddy. He and I held onto the Riedel tequila drinking glasses and sampled the very best tequila I had ever tasted. Fruity with a peppery-spice back end, the flavors were different, yet very much complimentary. At the price point, however, I was unable to dive into a full bottle.

I kept it in my mind and left it there locked away until last August. I needed comfort. I needed reassurance. I needed something larger than myself. When faced with irrational demons larger than dragons, I needed a dragon slayer. Emotional ache…I splurged on a bottle, that has lasted us very nearly a year. The emotions poured out of me as fluidly as this nectar. But I refused to associate that taste with pain. When given the chance, we would open the bottle and pour a little out to share with friends and family.

You can imagine my excitement when I was invited to another tasting! I’d already tasted it, but this time around, Bertha Gonz├ílez Nieves, the first ever female Maestra Tequilera and the maker of Casa Dragones would be presenting the tasting. Additionally, Katherine Clapner, the chocolatier behind Dude, Sweet Chocolate would be there to pair her tasty morsels with the tequila. (chocolate + tequila=outstanding) It became an instant date, further made even more meaningful when one of my running heroes would be joining us along with his wife. I had no idea the tequila lesson we would gain that evening, nor was I prepared to witness the levels of romanticism of my beloved.

As the evening progressed, it felt like we were taking a special tour through San Miguel de Allende around Tequila through the region of Jalisco, Mexico. The breathtaking landscapes, full of rich nutrients ripe for the agave plant to produce the tequila. We were taught the three levels of the glass and what each section would yield in terms of flavor and scent. The objective of attending the tasting was just to learn more and share some quality time. When it came time to make a decision as to whether or not we would make the purchase, I humbly declined, simply because we had some larger upcoming expenses. I was grateful for the experience. I leaned over to Don, asking him if he would grab a photo of me with Bertha and Katherine. If given the opportunity to meet captains of industry, I always jump on it. If faced with the chance to meet females who are captains in the industry, I MUST meet them, grab a photo, and tell their story to my daughters to inspire them of the whole world that exists before them.


I tried to not be too much of a fangirl. I was so excited and I treasure this photo photo so much!

Then Don did something…he flagged down the order taker and grabbed a box. But not only did he grab a box, he struck up a conversation with Bertha Gonz├ílez Nieves, encouraging me to tell her my grandfather’s advice. As I told her the story, her brown eyes penetrated my soul as she listened to the story from my heart. I was overcome with pride, my voice shaky, tears streaming from my face. The conversation was brief, but all of the memories flooded the forefront of my thought.  We told her of our daughters and how we try to not only share stories of inspiration of the strong women in our family and of those we met, but also how my culture is very much a part of their lives. We told her of the dreams we had for our daughters. We shared with her the story of my uncle passing. We shared with her how Casa Dragones has been there for us, already, in times of melancholy and in times of celebration. Yes, it is a bottle of tequila, but to us, there is so very much more rooted within the beautiful package.

And so, he handed the bottle to her and asked her to personalize it (when you purchased the bottle at this tasting, a master calligrapher would inscribe your words). She’d taken some notes during our conversation, she signed the box and we told her where we wanted the calligrapher to write words. A few short weeks later, we received this memento, honoring my grandfather:



That was my husband’s gift to me. A reminder that family is important, that tradition matters, that with patience (it takes at least 8 years for the plant to grow—sometimes 12, then the tequila ages for 5 years!) all hurts can heal. Scars, whether invisible or invisible, can hurt, but with time…

Sit. Wait. Sip.  {a hug from the inside, from deep within the soul}

I adore these gestures of my beloved. I adore his romanticism. I appreciate his patience. I appreciate his ability to still surprise me. I treasure the amazing---my romantic dragon slayer.

Friday, August 15, 2014

I have asthma. I am an athlete.

Hello, I’m Bianca. Some of you know me already. Many others don’t.
Right now I’m training for my second marathon, slated to happen on November 2, 2014. I live in Texas and it gets incredibly hot. This summer, we’ve been lucky and it hasn’t been as bad as it typically is. That isn’t to say that it hasn’t had hot days. Those hot days really affect me. I have had fits of frustration and anger in the middle of my runs. I don’t like having to stop mid-run.

I have asthma.

What does that mean? What is it like? Well, for me, it is like not being able to get a breath. Imagine having a coffee stirrer straw in your mouth, then go out and sprint, breathing only through that straw, not using your nose. Sometimes, attempting a deep breath isn’t possible. Sometimes, you get the deep breath, but then the coughs start. Always, the next day the lungs are sore. I have a love/hate relationship with my inhaler. My inhaler lets me run. It opens the pathways and makes me feel strong. But the next day, my lungs feel like they’ve taken a beating from the inside by a gaggle of angry parasites throwing tiny stones. I arch my back several times, trying to pop it and open the chest cavity. I lace my shoes, and hit the pavement again.

I am a runner.

I have the same questions as many other people when running. We run around like hormonal teenagers, shifting moods in an instant. Why am I doing this? What is the point? It is so hot. It is so early. It is so cold. No, it is really early! Look, people are just getting home from their nights of revelry. My feet hurt. My feet are covered with blisters. My feet are covered with thick callouses. My knees hurt. I love these tiny bags of ice. Oooooh…a sale on running gear. This sports bra is fancy. I love the way these purple leggings feel. This unicorn tank top really allows great air flow to stay cool. I LOVE my purple spibelt. Oh wow, deodorant DOES work when you don’t have Glide. These socks are so fun. These socks suck, they give me blisters. No, these shoes give me blisters. Puff…I love my inhaler. My spibelt really does fit my inhaler, phone, chapstick, travel glide, and bloks wonderfully. Ahhh…my body hurts. It’s so early. Meh, it’s only 6 miles. Gahhh….4 miles again? I hate hills, they suck. Oooh, yaaay hills, they make me stronger. Fartleks? giggle Speed work…noooooo!!! Oh goody, speedwork day! Is it raining outside? I will wear my trail shoes. Where are my yurbuds? I need my yurbuds! Dangit, I don’t have connectivity to Spotify. Download your running mix from Spotify. Oooh, a running skirt? Is it in purple? I will never forget my glide again. Those shorts suck. I chafed so hard. Oooh, are those shorts in purple?  I wish my inhaler came in purple.
Somewhere in the middle of all that, you get the calm. You get the clarity. For me, it is like the world hits pause and all I hear are the cadence of my steps, tick-tick-ticking against the ground below me. My mind’s eye joins my seeing eyes, and I can pay witness to all of the splendor my maker has created before me. My lungs work. My legs are strong. My demon-voices leave my brain, replaced with the memories of cheers from my loves. My heart is happy. I give gratitude for I am able to run when others cannot. For them, I offer up my run. For them, I consider so much. Then I see my babies, my two daughters who look to me for guidance. I run for them. I see my Beloved. I run towards him, chasing him. He never gets so far ahead that I can’t see him. He somehow knows the wheeze and will slow. Quietly. Slowly. He waits for me, patiently, gives me an encouraging look. At the end of the training run, I get the high five reward. During races, each high five I get reminds me of that reward high five. I keep going. Each “Go Bianca” I think of my mother, my best friends, my sister and brother, my father, my daughters, my family, my friends. I keep going. My lungs hurt, my legs hurt. I keep going. Sweat stings my eyes, tears will stream down my face. I keep going. “Bianca fight never dies” is what I tell myself…even when I have to stop and walk. I keep going. “Hills are made for conquering” is what I tell myself…even when I have to pause at the top to catch my breath. I keep going.

I keep going. I keep going. I keep going. I am an athlete. I keep going.

(me on top of my favorite rock-hill in Central Park in Manhattan)

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This runner has an amazing write-up for running with asthma: http://www.lifesawheeze.com/p/running-with-asthma-101.html
I’m raising money for Robin Hood again! As of today, I’m $15 shy of $2000!!! I’m so humbled. Feeling generous? https://www.crowdrise.com/RobinHoodNYC2014/fundraiser/biancasias
Leave me a comment with a word of encouragement. I will carry your words with me in my heart when I run. And may literally carry them with me in a printed out piece of paper to keep going.

Friday, June 13, 2014

2014 Birthday Month: Giveaway 4…Lyrics & Melodies

Giveaway 1 ,2  3 are over, so now it is time for 4!

 

I love music. All kinds of music, in fact. This giveaway is for a $5 Amazon gift card for music. It will be a $5 emailed certificate to Amazon that you could use for anything really, but I would prefer it if you would use it for some music.

 

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To enter this giveaway, leave a comment with your favorite song or band, new or old. Multiple entries may be earned by posting on here or on my Facebook page. You must have a valid email address. Contest will close on Monday, June 16 at noon.

 

**I will be buying each of the items to giveaway. No product sponsorships were granted to me. I just love this stuff!**

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Navigating Migraines

It’s been a year since I first received the my cluster-eff diagnosis. I know this because I received the call to schedule my now-annual MRI. To say I am confident and will go in without a slight bit of trepidation and fear would be a lie. Each headache is a reminder of what I have and the potential outcome as a result. It doesn’t help that I’d had a recent migraine that lasted 10 days. T-E-N days?!? Perfect storm of barometric pressure change and hormonal shift. I’ve become quite adept at living with my head pains, even having what I call working-migraines.

“Can you describe what you feel, Bianca? What is it like? I think I might have had migraines, but I don’t know.” Sure! Here’s what mine feel like:

Have you ever had that sore head pain after you’ve been sick for a while? Or that head pain you get when you are sick and you’ve been sleeping a whole lot? Or maybe you have residual pain from a head injury?

Have you ever accidentally had a jolt of electricity sent to your body during a physical therapy session? That stabbing and burning heat filling your body and you feel paralyzed.

Have you ever seen fireworks up real close? All of the bright colors bursting around, like they are within arms reach. That feeling of emerging from a dark movie theater in the middle of the day?

Have you ever turned on your car radio and someone turned the volume at the loudest? That scare you get from the noise and the pain in your ears?

Have you ever eaten something rancid? That churning in your tummy and it takes everything you have to not get sick.

All of those things all of the time. But I failed to mention the guilt. All of the guilt I carry with me for having a short temper with my daughters and my Beloved. For trying to smile, unconvincingly to my friends, when I force appearances just to share time with them. For the sudden eruptions of tears at inopportune moments just because of the pain is so excruciating.

I don’t take Imitrex unless I just can’t take it any longer and I have nothing else planned for 72 hours. When I take it, I become numb, a zombie, my vertigo kicks in higher, and I lose time. Literally, I sleep. If I’m awake, I don’t remember. To get through life—achieve a working migraine, I take an Advil Migraine in the morning. It still makes me loopy, but not as much. I drink lots of extra water. This makes me pee more, but the hydration helps.  I load up on caffeine. My brain is having the rave of all raves. Caffeine helps to keep it at bay. I force runs. The endorphins and deep breathing help me to regulate blood flow. They aren’t spectacular fast runs. But if I can make it out to do the run, then I will feel a little better. I focus on my favorite things. They make me smile. I surround myself with understanding loved ones. My girls bring me ice packs for my head. They try to soft massage me. I can hear their discussions from the other room shushing one another because “Mommy has a head-ick.”

If you are someone who likes to have a plan, whether it be for the day, week, month, year…well, migraines are not for you. They make you a more spontaneous person. Not only in the negative ways--because you have to stop all of the things you may have planned, but in the positive ways—when you feel your best, you stop all of the things you may have planned and you take an afternoon to go lay on a blanket with your daughters to watch the clouds on a sunny day, go for ice cream, and let them shriek and laugh and giggle and talk as loudly as they want to because your brain is cooperating.

This wasn’t a light-hearted post and it has interrupted the giveaway posts. ha! But I wanted to have it written down so I would remember for this time around next year.

Monday, June 9, 2014

2014 Birthday Month: Giveaway 3…Warm & Cozy

Giveaway 1 and 2 have closed, now onto 3!

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Today, I’m giving away a cozy pair of handmade slippers. These are wonderful if you own hardwood floors or tile and you like to pretend to figure skate in your home. They are also really great at keeping your feet warm, too. I know it is the beginning of the ridiculously hot summer, but it is never too early to plan. I will contact Beanies by Stacie to arrange payment and the winner will get to select their colors and size. These slippers are great for men, women, and children.

Leave a comment here or on Facebook to earn an entry!

 

**I will be buying each of the items to giveaway. No product sponsorships were granted to me. I just love this stuff!**

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

2014 Birthday Month: Giveaway 2…Things that Fizz

Giveaway 1 is closed, so now it is time for giveaway 2! Bubbles and Pop Rocks!

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Your very own mini bottle of Chandon, perfect for a celebration for 1, for a picnic, for a bubble bath, just because you are feeling sassy, or because you are in dire need of a champagne fix.

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Pop Rocks are probably the most fun I’ve had with candy. You could make your own at home, but these are for the Pop Rock candy, not any that I will be actually making.

I wouldn’t advise you mixing the Pop Rocks with the champagne, but I’m not here to rain on your parade, so if that’s your thing, then have at it! The giveaway is open!

To enter this giveaway, tell me your favorite flavor of Pop Rocks or favorite drink made with champagne. I will draw a winner on Saturday morning, June 7. You can comment on the blog and on Facebook. Only two entries per person, unless you were one of the lucky six who have been automatically entered to each of the drawings already! For this giveaway, you must be 21 years or older and live in a place where I will see you in the next few months to hand deliver. (Lubbock, DFW, NYC) Good luck.

**I will be buying each of the items to giveaway. No product sponsorships were granted to me. I just love this stuff!**

Thursday, May 29, 2014

2014: Birthday Month: Giveaway 1

Giveaway 1: Coffee & Pens

Did you know I visit a coffee shop at least once a week to write? I started a novel back when I was nearing the end of university life. It long sat dormant, but over the course of this past year, I’ve opened up quite a creative tap and have discovered lots of content and characters that will forever be immortalized. Today’s giveaway is inspired by delicious hand-crafted coffee & my favorite pens.

To enter this giveaway, comment with your favorite coffee drink. I will draw a winner on Tuesday evening, June 3. You can comment on the blog and on Facebook. Only two entries per person, unless you were one of the lucky six who have been automatically entered to each of the drawings already! Good luck.

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$5 gift card to a local coffee shop. I know all of you have them. If you sign up for this one, let me know the name of the shop you frequent and I’ll get in touch with them to buy you for favorite latte or other fancy drink.

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Uniball Vision Elite pen in purple. A pen, really? Duh, you know I love to write! This pen is my favorite right now. Plus, the purple is a bit muted so a black purple. Very chic.

 

 

**I will be buying each of the items to giveaway. No product sponsorships were granted to me. I just love this stuff!**

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