Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Amazing Highs and Lows

The past two weeks have been ones where life swung wildly from extreme to extreme, giving me some tremendous highs and some pretty big lows along the way.  It's just so... how life is for me at the moment.  Great stuff followed by some really crappy stuff.

Obviously, examples help here, right?

For the high points...

* My sweet baby girl turned 1 year old!!  I posted about it yesterday, but I still can't believe she's no longer a baby and now a toddler.  Every parent says, "Where has the time gone?!"  And I get it now, because it seems like only yesterday she was a tiny little baby I was bringing home from the hospital and snuggling with in the wee hours of the morning.  Seeing her grow up has been a true blessing.

* I accepted an amazing new job a few weeks back, and start on 8/31!  Until recently, I couldn't discuss it online because it wasn't fully known to everyone at my current job.  But since it's now "out there", I felt better about sharing with everyone here.  My new job is at a higher level and is more appropriate for me at this point in my career, with a significant pay increase and some flexibility to work from home in the future to boot.  The company is also in a completely different field where I'll be able to learn a lot of new things and stretch my base of knowledge, not only in my specific job area but in the world of business.  While I'll miss my current job tremendously, my new one is sure to be full of great challenges that will excite and motivate me!

* My new niece, Claire Michelle, was born this past week.  We share a middle name, which makes me such a proud auntie!  See our picture below... Isn't she cute?!?!  She looks similar to her big sister, but with a less pronounced chin and smaller mouth, hands and feet.  Oh, those adorable, teeny, tiny feet!!  Maybe Claire be the dainty one of the two, since my other niece is such a rough and tumble kid!  No matter what, I adore her.  She's one sweet, snuggly little girl.



* We are having some areas of our yard professionally re-landscaped and it's finally set up for this week!  I can't wait to see what our yard looks like when it's got proper bushes, mulch, rocks, and plants.  In the past, we've done some of this ourselves, but we just don't have the time or manpower for the amount of work that needs to be done quickly, and a professional can do it fast and without it breaking our bank.  We've had most of our trees trimmed recently, and that's made a huge difference, but now we're saving to have 5 trees removed completely.  3 of those are gigantic Washington palm trees planted by the prior owner of our house in the backyard, which are 30 feet tall now and will grow to be 60 feet tall in the non-so-distant future.  It's very difficult for them to be trimmed now, but at 60 feet, it will be impossible.  Anyone familiar with palms knows that when the wind blows, untrimmed dead palm fronds will fall and could seriously injure someone (including my darling child or one of her friends or relatives), and that's not a risk I'm willing to take.  We're cutting those suckers down once we have the money saved, and it's a priority for us.

* I had a very sick aunt who made it through a very tough surgery and it making a miraculous recovery.  It's honestly a miracle, and even the doctors are shocked.  I cannot say enough about this wonderful woman, and I'm glad she'll be on this Earth a little longer.


As for those pesky, frustrating lows...

* I was mistaken for my 9-months pregnant sister by her neighbor this week. The neighbor saw my husband and I loading Avery into our SUV and asked me if I was on the way to the hospital to have my baby.  I know I'm overweight, but... really???  She even knows my sister, brother-in-law and 2-year-old niece pretty well, and my sister and I don't even look that much alike (yes, we're twins, but fraternal).  Ugh.  Even though I've lost 30 lbs, that was like a stab in the heart.  This also happened with a different neighbor of my sister's not long ago.  I went to visit on a solo weekend trip about 6 weeks ago, and that neighbor asked me if I was ready to have my baby.  She clearly thought I was my sister.  I'd lost 22 lbs at that point and I was so mad.  Mad at myself, mad at her, just mad in general.  I told my sister and she told me that neighbor was an idiot.  My sister clearly has a HUGE baby belly and has outgrown all of the maternity clothes I'd given her while I was pregnant with Avery, yet this woman thought I was her, in my non pregnant, no-baby-belly state.  Again, humiliating, disheartening, disappointing... there aren't enough words in my vocabulary to express my feelings about this subject.  As I've stated before, I'm steadily working to lose weight in a healthy way, and I don't hate myself for my weight or how I look, and health is still my priority over looks.  But damn, those comments stung.

* I haven't had a fully-functional iPhone in over a month.  My initial iPhone was replaced under warranty in July after having a cracked screen and other issues. Within two weeks, the phone became unable to connect to my wireless carrier the majority of the time and kept asking me to re-activate the phone.  After experiencing some extraordinarily poor customer service in-store, I called the store's customer service line and was sent a new phone via 2-day UPS service.  However, the phone didn't arrive until 4 days later (nice 2-day service, UPS!), when I was out of town to meet my new niece.  So what did UPS do?  Rather than waiting 2 hours for me to come home and see the final notice, and come in to their center to pick up the package, they immediately returned it to the sender!  I was hopping mad.  Breathing fire.  Seeing red.  (Insert your own euphemism here.)  I was sent yet another phone, and this one doesn't recognize ANY sim card you put into it.  WTF.  After several aggravating hours on the phone with store managers, call center "supervisors" and others, I sent Hubs to the store to see what he could do.  I knew that if I had to talk to someone in person I might just go postal, and I didn't want to do that.  Apparently they have a 3-strikes rule with their warranty replacement phones, so they ordered me a 3rd replacement phone and the 3rd phone won't get here for at least a week.  Hubs got me a cheap $10 Android trac phone to hold me over until this mess gets sorted out, but it's been ridiculous.  Remember when no one had cell phones and we didn't feel lost without electronic devices, except maybe the TV remote control when it was stuck between the sofa cushions?  Ah, the good old days.

* A part of my car's anti-lock brake system is on the fritz and it almost caused a serious accident the other night.  Now, I'm paranoid about driving my car, and I find driving in heaving traffic very stressful.  I hope we can get this part fixed soon, but this is a very expensive fix.  Coming from a Car Family (most of my family works/has worked in the auto industry), we rarely keep cars past 3 years, and this is the first car I've had this long (5.5 years).  Now I see why I haven't--the thing has become a serious money pit.  While the lure of no car payment sounds awesome, spending thousands in the past 2 years fixing expensive issues just isn't my jam.


So that's it for recent highs and lows.  It's the epitome of life, right?  Sometimes life builds us up and kicks us down mere seconds apart from one instance to the other, but it's how we recover that makes us who we are.  I come from positive-thinking parents, so I'm taking a page from their playbook:  I'm focusing on what's been going great and and remembering that life always gets better.

I hope everyone has a great, positive week!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Avery Jane's 1st Birthday

Happy 1st birthday to my dear Avery Jane!  You were born a year ago and daddy and I's lives have been forever changed in the best of ways.  Now we couldn't imagine life without you, nor would we want to.


Your smile lights up any room, just as it lights up daddy and I's hearts.  Your sweet, loud giggles are infectious and your kisses make my heart skip a beat.   Your adorable noises, dramatic sobs just to get some extra snuggles and love affair with our family doggie only make daddy and I love you more.  

I can't believe you're walking all over the house, getting more and more curious by the day and learning so quickly.  You're totally infatuated with your book collection, and you're growing to love your stuffed animals much more than you did just a few months ago.  You're taking to eating big people food pretty well, but we have a ways to go still.  You and Bella have become co-conspirators, where you purposely drop half of your food to her on the floor rather than eating it yourself, and believing that if you "refuse" food by shoving it all off your tray onto the floor (to a hungry, patiently waiting miniature schnauzer, who will gobble up any food that falls her way), that we'll eventually give you something you like better.  Tsk, tsk.  Mom and dad found you out, but we love how cute and coy your game had become.  Nice try, doll face.  You have fully transitioned form formula to milk, but still won't take a sippy cup unless you want to spike it on the ground like a football.  You are, however, drinking lots of water out of your bottle, so I have no doubt that we'll get there eventually.

Daddy and I had a little birthday party for you on your birthday, just the three of us and our doggie, Bella.  The whole day, we sang you happy birthday, reminded you that you're no longer our baby but now our toddler, and did everything we could to make you smile.  Your big part is coming in 2 weeks, but this was just for you, me and daddy, and it was wonderful.  Here are some pictures from our little family birthday celebration...










You had such a wild and exhausting day with your pictures being taken and an epic meltdown during your cake-smashing pictures, but after a long nap, you had a great time having dinner and opening presents.  You even ate birthday cake for the first time--and you loved it!  See?  Birthday cake and frosting weren't so bad after all!  You just wanted it cut up in pieces so you could see that the frosting wasn't hiding something sinister, like brussels sprouts or quinoa.  We gave you three of your presents on your birthday, your first teddy bear and two books.  The teddy bear was a huge hit and you have hardly put it down since.

Also on your birthday, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Kelly, and your cousin Elise sang you Happy Birthday over the phone TWICE, and everyone wished they could have seen your face--you smiled so big and knew that it was a special day all your own.  Don't worry, they'll be here in 2 weeks for the bigger party!

Wishing you many, many more wonderful birthdays, happy times, and birthday memories to come, Avery!




Sunday, August 9, 2015

Life and Stuff

Wow, it seems like it's been forever since I really sat down to give everyone some updates.  Ready... Set... Go!

*  As I've shared previously, I've been under a lot of stress in the past year.  It seems like Murphy's Law has been in full effect, and we can't seem to catch a break.  Between family illnesses, work stress, homeowner issues, rental property owner issues, parent issues, etc., it's just been a wild ride.  I've been working on several ways to get these things under control, but some of them I can't share just yet. (Yes, I know I said that a week or two ago.  Still the same.  Can't share right now.)  I will as soon as I can though!

*  Hubs and I went to see Dave Matthews Band last Wednesday night and it was PHENOMENAL!  We didn't see them last year because I was 8 months pregnant and fully miserable by that point.  There's no way I could have sat outside, sweating my buns off, and having to use the ladies room every 10 minutes.  Not to mention my slow waddling between the car and the venue in the huge parking lot, getting bumped into by dozens of drunk people, and potentially finding myself in a driving rainstorm wearing only a glorified trash bag.  No ma'am.  This year, though, it was a whole different story.  It rained earlier in the day, and was gorgeous during our tailgate.  (There was much rejoicing over the great weather!)  While it did get more humid as the evening went on, it stayed rain-free and we enjoyed a wonderful show.  I couldn't have been happier with how it all turned out!

*  I'm busy planning Avery's first birthday party.  I can't believe she's almost a year old already!  Where did my tiny little baby go?!?!  She was so small and cuddly, and now she is much bigger and can't sit still.  She's such a sweet girl though, and we're excited to get her birthday party invitations sent out soon.  By the way, I feel like I've lost my knack for party planning since it's been soooo long since I've hosted a gathering.  I need to get my groove back, and maybe this will help!

*  Oh yeah, Avery walked unassisted for the first time last weekend and by this weekend she's all over the house!!  YEAH, I KNOW.  Now we need to finish baby-proofing, stat.  She's already starting to open the lower cupboards in the kitchen and tip over the chairs in our breakfast nook,so time is of the essence!

*  I'm doing pretty well with my diet.  In three months, I've lost close to 30 lbs.  I still have a long way to go, but I believe in the pursuit of progress, not perfection (it's my personal mantra at this point!).  Hubs has lost over 50 lbs during the same period, but that's a guy for you.  Same diet, loses more weight.  Nonetheless, I'm incredibly proud of him.  He weighs less than when we got married and is looking quite foxy, if I must say so myself!

*  I've discovered that Weight Watchers makes excellent low-fat ice cream treats, my favorite being the Giant Fudge Bar.  Remember Pudding Pops back in the day?  They taste a lot like those, but without a creeper like Bill Cosby promoting them. Here's me in my WW bathrobe indulging in one of these delicious (3 point!) treats...



*  It's been raining like its Monsoon season here in Florida over the past 2 weeks, resulting in tons of flooding.  I seriously felt like I should have stayed home to build an ark yesterday, but I somehow got myself to work and only hydroplaned twice during my commute (Note to self:  Avoid standing water on bridges).

*  I'm so, so far behind on home projects.  I'm at the point where I'm ready to pay someone to clean up my landscaping, deep clean the inside of my house, wash and detail my car, and put air in my tires.  I know, that sounds ridiculous to some of you, but others know what I mean.  Being a working mom is tough, even when Hubs is a SAHD.  He even has limited time to do chores and things because she's such a handful, doesn't always nap well and has other things to do in his downtime, like put together my new gas grill, do laundry (gotta have clean clothes!) and tend to our geriatric schnauzer.  We're all busy and just getting by these days.

*  My newest niece is scheduled to be born on August 17, so I'm taking that week off work to spend with my family.  I pray that baby is born healthy and mama stays healthy as well.  Her middle name will be the same as my middle name, so I feel a connection already!

*  One of you (you know who you are) noted that you've seen a lack of photos in recent posts that are non-food related.  I had to laugh at that one, but I know you're right.  Part of this is because my usual surfaces for photographing items are indisposed right now... busy being used for other projects and things.  I also haven't been diligent about taking photos at events, as I've been trying to be more present and in-the-moment, rather than hiding behind my camera.  No matter, though, I'll be fixing this and I appreciate you pointing it out.

That's all for now!  Hope everyone has a great week.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Celebrating National Ice Cream Month at Del Frisco's Grille

Summers in Florida are H.O.T., ya'll.   And we need everything we can get to cool ourselves down, from a swim in a refreshing pool to a delicious ice cream treat.

Recently, my husband and I had a date night and visited a new Del Frisco's Grille location in Tampa to try out their Adult Milk Shakes.  I mean, July was National Ice Cream Month after all... How could I say no to ice cream in the peak of the summer heat in Florida?  That's right, it was just impossible, diet be damned.  Ice cream won.

When we sat down and reviewed the menu, I noticed that the cocktail, beer and wine menu took up one whole page and the food took up the entire back page.  50/50.  Equal measure.  With that, I knew I was going to love this place.

So, Hubs and I both had one starter cocktail to get things rolling.  I tried the VIP Martini, made with a delightful "Sweet Hawaiian Gold Pineapple-infused Svedka Clementine Vodka".  Delish and dangerous.  I could have had 3 more before knowing what I'd done to myself!  My husband opted for a beer. (He's a simple man with simple, but great, taste.)


Next, we had an appetizer--the Cheesesteak Eggrolls.  We were starving after a long day of me working and him running after our little one, so we devoured them before I could even grab a picture!  They were to die for though.  Seriously.

Following that, we both had The Grille Prime Cheeseburger and also split a side order of Truffled Mac & Cheese along with our Adult Milk Shakes.  Here are some photos for your undoubtedly hungry eyes...

The Spread -- Check out that adorable little ketchup bottle!

Amazing Truffled Mac & Cheese - The ruffled pasta was perfect!

The Adult Milk Shake

So the Adult Milk Shake was my primary reason for visiting but that Cheeseburger... oh my... I haven't had a cheeseburger in months and it was phenomenal.  Two medium-thickness patties with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and something called "Sloppy Sauce".  Whatever it was, it was yummy.

The Adult Milk Shake was everything my July ice cream fantasies were made of, with vanilla ice cream, creme de cacao, chocolate liqueur, and walnut liqueur.  A great, big, ol' boozy milk shake.  Yes, please!  It was creamy, had the perfect hit of chocolate flavor without being overly rich, and it was so, so refreshing on a hot summer day.

This was such a great dinner to end a crazy, hot day, and I had a great time celebrating National Ice Cream Month on a much-needed date night with my husband.

I recommend that you check out Del Frisco's Grille in Tampa as well, especially for their cocktail menu and Adult Milk Shake.  You can thank me later.  Also, follow Del Frisco's Grille Tampa on Twitter and Facebook to hear about upcoming promotions or menu items.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Avery is 11 Months Old!

My big girl is already 11 months old!  She's wearing 18 month clothes already (for length, since she's a tall one!) and her size 4.5 Wide shoes are getting small.  She's beginning to walk, transitioning to grown up foods, loves to dance, and mimics things we do like clapping or waving.  She's also totally in love with our dog, Bella, who is still a little bit skeptical of her unpredictable ways.

We've had a busy month, so here are a few highlights...




Standing to cruise, play and jump up and down

Transitioning to Grown Up Foods

First Eye Doctor Appointment

First 4th of July

Swimming at Grandma and Grandpa's New House

Monday, July 27, 2015

GlossyBox Review - June vs. July 2015

I realized the other day that I hadn't posted about my recent Glossyboxes, so today I'm going to change that.

Oddly, while thinking about why I hadn't posted about them, it struck me that I wasn't thrilled with either one.  Perhaps I was subconsciously choosing not to post about them because I wasn't overjoyed.  I don't particularly like sharing about things I don't like, but the point of sharing reviews is so people hear my real experiences--good, bad or indifferent. That's what helps me make choices about where I invest my money, so I figure that's how others do it too.  Every review is worthwhile.

So let's get the show on the road...

June's Box


Items included in this box...

Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara
Deluxe Sample - Value:  $14.50
As a mascara fanatic, this one is amazing.  I can't believe I haven't tried it until now!  It volumizes like a dream, has a brilliant hourglass-shaped brush with tons of bristles, and lengthens beautifully, but not as dramatically as some I've tried.  Overall, I'd give it an A.  I'll definitely be purchasing a full sized version once this sample is gone.

City Lips Collagen Peptide Lip Plumping Treatment - Clear
Full Sized - Value:  $40.00
I'm not a huge lip plumper fan, at least not since I had an incident with DuWop Lip Venom around 10 years ago when lip plumpers were the product du jour (think burning, red, swollen lips).  This product, however, was much less painful than the DuWop version, but I still got a pretty solid tingling sensation.  The plumping was pretty darn good, and I noticed it after 5-7 minutes.  Since this was the clear version, I tried this over lip stain and it looked great.  I'm still not sure if I love the tingly feeling on my lips, though.

Etre Belle Aloe Vera Moisturizing Gel 
Full Size - Value:  $24.95
A nice cooling aloe gel is great in the summer, but this was nothing special for the price.  I like the less expensive aloe gels from the drugstore just as well, and a huge bottle costs me only $6, That's a pale-skinned, frequently sunburned Floridian for you, though.  I need my aloe in mass volume.  Nonetheless, it was a nice idea for a summer theme box.

Orly Nail Lacquer in Lola
Deluxe Sample - Value:  $4.00
A lovely, perfect pink for the summer!  I loved it on my toes this week, and the formula seems to be pretty chip resistant (says the girl who's hard on her feet).  I foresee using this until the bottle runs dry.

Aloe Source Vitamin C Antioxidant Creme
Deluxe Sample - Value:  $10.00
Others raved about this product, and I sure wish I got to try it, but mine was completely dried out by the time it was delivered to my home and I excitedly opened the tub.  Womp, womp... So, I didn't end up trying it, but Glossybox sent me another sample in its place and it was...

Beauty Blender Original Sponge
Full Size - Value:  $20.00
I cannot complain at all about getting a Beauty Blender sponge as a replacement!  I absolutely love this item, as I use it daily.  Big score!

Total Value of June Box:  $103.45

This was my best month yet in terms of value, and the products were pretty great.  I wish I'd gotten to try the Aloe Source creme, but the Beauty Blender sponge wasn't a shabby replacement.  I was very happy with this box overall.


July's Box


Hey Honey I Peel Good! Biomimetic Creamy Honey Peel Cream
Deluxe Sample - Value:  $29.50
This product exfoliates, hydrates, and leaves behind a natural, protective lipid barrier, so I was intrigued.  I was initially turned off by how tacky this product felt on my skin during my initial application, but the more I massaged it in, the less sticky it became.  The scent is very light, which was great, and not overly sweet like the honey in the name suggests.  It did leave my skin very soft, and I followed a friend's recommendation of rinsing it off, which helped a lot.

Laneige Water Sleeping Mask
Deluxe Sample - Value:  $5.11
I had already tried this once after receiving it in a Target Beauty Box.  It was alright, as sleeping masks go.  It was soothing, softening and didn't clog up my pores.  I just wish this could have been a full size product, since I tend to use pretty thick layers of sleeping mask products when I use them.  I feel like I burn through these tiny pots in a flash, so a bigger pot would have been nice.

Kueshi Anticellulite Booster Lotion
Full Size - Value:  $22.60
Here's another product from the Spanish line that gave us a lovely toner a few months ago (it was a really great toner!).  However, this anticellulite product isn't going to be helpful for me--my cellulite is far past the point of no return.  I mean, a girl can dream that a tube of cream will erase that, but I'm too realistic for that.  However, this may make a good trade item with my pal Tracy, who loves to swap items with me.  

Face Stockholm Eye Pencil in White
Full Size - Value:  $17.00
Honestly, I wasn't feeling this white eye pencil.  I already have one from a number of years back that barely got used, and the idea of using a white eyeliner on my waterline just doesn't excite me.  Practically any other color would have been great, but white isn't my thing anymore.  This is another goody for the trade pile.

Naked Lips Organic Lip Balm in Peppermint
Full Size - Value:  $5.50
I actually really liked this lip balm.  It's go a great peppermint flavor and tingle that's not overpowering and a velvety-smooth formula that glides over my dry lips like a cool summer breeze.  This one's a keeper!  

Total Value of July Box:  $79.71

Overall, this box was a "meh" for me.  Some good, some not so good.  I guess they can't all hit on my sweet spots relating to products.  But seriously, how did I end up with the white eye pencil when everyone else got some other color???


Overall Thoughts

I didn't passionately adore either of these boxes, but each had a couple of items that were wonderful, and a few items that most certainly weren't.  Glossybox has one more month to impress me before I consider pulling the plug.  Just like with every subscription service, there are ups and downs from month to month, but you have to be blown away at some point to feel like moving forward with the sub is worth the investment.  Hopefully the August box is a stellar one!


Friday, July 24, 2015

Cheers to Unpredictability!

So, July has been a month that hasn't exactly turned out like I planned.  Heck, the last year hasn't turned out like I planned, in many ways!  It's funny how life is, right?  The minute you make big plans, something comes along and changes them.

Things are going on in my life that I can't speak openly about yet.  Nope, baby #2 is NOT on the way, but there are some changes afoot and I need to wait for the right moment to share them with everyone.

Nonetheless, I'm going to be completing a bunch of posts soon and Beauty Month will spill over into August.  I'm sure most of you won't mind a bit!  I also need to do some catching up on me and my little family's life right now, as it's been a little while since I shared on that topic.

Right now, I'm busy dreaming of happy hour, the weekend and hugs from Hubs and my baby girl waiting for me at home.  As much as I love my job, my family is the biggest blessing in my life.

So here's to the end of a long workweek, family, friends and living life in the moment, crazy changes and all!!

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Tampa, Florida, United States
I'm a wife, daughter and amazing twin sister. I'm a mom to my adorable dog, Bella. Loves: Shopping, cooking, baking, good grammar and Dave Matthews Band. I'm also a Bath and Body Works addict, a Michigan State Spartans fanatic, and an iPhone aficionado. I see beauty in simple things and little things make me ever-so-happy. Welcome to my world!


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