Friday, January 23, 2015


As a busy working mom, I'm always looking for ways to relax and indulge after a tough day or a long workweek.  While some mom's love to go out for happy hour, take a long solo run, or read a book, I've found some of my own little happy spots in recent weeks.

Wine & Sweet Treats

I love a refreshing glass of white wine (in my unbreakable plastic wine glasses, of course) with a sweet treat.  I recently discovered these #DiscoverBrookside Crunchy Clusters, and I'm obsessed with them.  The best part is that one serving is generous at 22 pieces, and the calories and fat aren't that different than a cup of my favorite yogurt.   Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Spa Treatments

One day I realized that the only time I'm ever really alone anymore is when I'm driving to and from work.  While I love my family and my work, I have to find some time to recharge my own batteries.  Massages have been a good opportunity for this.  They're helpful for loosening my stiff and sore mom muscles.  I also love a good facial, which is necessary now that Winter is here and my skin has become incredibly dry.  I can't wait to have my massage and facial after work next week!


Walking is wonderful, so I've been taking some time during lunch at work to take a walk around campus with a coworker.  We both agree that our walks help to clear our minds and get out our anxious energy.  We've walked a couple of times a week for the past two months, and our goal is to increase our frequency and length of walks this year.  I just need some new sneakers, then we'll really be in business!

Beauty Products

A soothing mask, a long shower using new or favorite products, and trying super luxe new products can make me feel like a million bucks.  Finding time may be tricky, but taking advantage of those quiet moments means the world.  Also, trying new products also makes me feel giddy and excited.  I received some great new products from Allure and Glossybox recently, so it's been play time for mommy when the baby's asleep and the husband is working in the yard.  I've even found some fun and surprising new HG products, so the indulgence has been worth it.

How do you indulge these days?  
Do you find that enjoying your indulgences makes you happy, or do you feel guilty for not doing other things?

I received the Brookside Crunchy Clusters for free to sample from Brookside and Crowdtap.  
As always, my opinions are my own and were not swayed by having received this item for free in exchange for an honest review.  The Crunchy Clusters happen to be delicious, but they didn't require or expect me to write that.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Being Healthy & Being Overweight - They're Not Mutually Exclusive

It's absolutely no secret that I'm a larger woman.  Plus-sized, overweight, plump, fluffy, "more to love", chubby... fat.  It's that last one that seems to sting the most.

Isn't it funny how some words or phrases in our language hurt more than others?  It's usually because the ones that hurt most are the words that are hurled at us as insults or intentional slurs with the greatest regularity.  Somehow, being called "fat" is enough to send some people into an abyss of hysterics and eating disorders.  Being called "overweight" isn't exactly a glowing compliment, but it just feels less offensive.  Am I right?

When I tried online dating many years ago, I was called all kinds of awful words to describe an overweight woman once these guys found out I weighed more than 150 lbs.  It was awful and I'm still surprised that I tried again (which is how I met Hubs!).  I can understand why so many women vow to never use online dating sites again.  Women have also said things like this too, usually to be catty.  All of that shit's got to stop.

As one who has owned a mirror throughout her entire life, I know what I look like.  I can state factually that I am a larger woman, overweight, or whatever else, since I'm a realist.  I'm not being mean to myself by calling out that I'm heavier than my 125 lb friend who insists on telling me how fat she is all the time.  (Which I find insulting in it's own right.)  I'll call a spade a spade, and there's no use in my pretending that I don't know that I'm plus-sized.

I've fought being overweight since I was 6 years old, and have had varying degrees of success in this fight.  In 2007, I set out on a journey to lose weight and lost nearly 100 lbs using Weight Watchers.  By 2012, I had gained half of it back.  By 2014, I had gained all of it back.  Then, I had a baby and added some weight to that number that still hasn't come off 5 months after giving birth.

So, I'm heavier than I've ever been at this very moment.  And you know what?  I don't really care.

I don't hate myself for being overweight.

I don't look in the mirror and think that I look grotesque, disgusting, or ugly.

I truly believe that I'm beautiful on the inside and out.

Anyone who doesn't see that is a fucktard.  (Pardon my French.)

I care about my desire to improve my overall health, and losing weight is a part of my plan for Balance this year.  But losing weight isn't the end-all, be-all.  Good health is what's important to me.  Right now, I'm healthy, but I need to get healthier.  Improved stamina, strength, flexibility, and agility are things I know will be important in helping my little girl grow up.

It's also important to me that my daughter has a mom who is loving, confident, happy, comfortable in her own skin, and promotes health over a fear of being "fat".  A parent's words about the importance of weight and health will shape a child's perceptions of themselves and others for many years, so setting a good example from the start is critical.

A person can be over a doctor's recommended weight but still healthy.  My physician has agreed with this and affirmed my commitment to health rather than a number on the scale, which felt great.  Having a doctor who gets it is worth its weight in gold!

You don't have to be skinny to be healthy.  Skinny people are not necessarily healthy.  While your odds of good health may increase when you weigh less, being overweight and being healthy are not mutually exclusive.  You can be both!

Most of us would concur that losing weight is incredibly difficult.  It's frustrating to work hard all week and not see a change on the scale, or for your clothes to not fit any differently.  You have to make the commitment every day and be accountable, which is the hardest part of all.  I'm certain that I'll continue to work on losing weight throughout my life, but striking a good balance now will be the most important step I can take.

In the meantime, I'm loving every square inch of myself, inside and out, and getting to work on improving my lifestyle.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Welcoming 2015 - The Balancing Act

Happy New Year, friends!  We're now comfortably in 2015, with a whole new year with a fresh outlook. 

As I've said before, I'm not big on resolutions, but my friend Becca inspired me to find a word to focus on and strive for each and every day.  I have decided that my word is Balance.  I want to balance everything in my life so I can be the most successful I can be, whether that be as a mom, a wife, an employee, a leader, a friend, and a family member.  I want to balance a healthy lifestyle with those enjoyable indulgences that I just can't quit.  I want to balance work and home responsibilities, balance time with family and time with friends, and balance my needs with those of my husband and daughter. 

I think we all love the idea of balance, but I don't think we're all so great at actually doing it.  We often find ourselves living in the moment, doing what is fun or exciting rather than what is necessary or responsible, and spending time, energy, money, etc. doing things for short-term gain.  And what does that often get us?  A lifestyle that is out of whack with what we really want both now and in the future. 

My primary areas of focus are going to be on health, relationships and finances.  I go in spurts of great balance, and then I revert back to my old ways too quickly and easily for my liking.  It's going to take work, but breaking a cycle (or pattern or habit) always involves that.  And it's not as easy as a once-a-year resolution.  These are decisions and choices you make each day, even minute-by-minute at times, to choose wisely and ensure that balance is achieved.

Balance is the name of the game, I'm damn it, I'm going to win this year!  Happy 2015!

Monday, December 22, 2014

My Time with a Psychic

*This is a sponsored post, but my experiences and opinions are 100% my own.*
Not long ago, I had an opportunity to have a psychic reading courtesy of, and I jumped at the chance to speak with a psychic could tell me more about my family and new baby.  While I was skeptical about the true abilities of a psychic, my natural curiosity led me to exploring something new and different.  I thought it would be a fun experience if nothing else. 

About 7 months ago, I met a woman at a friend's party who claimed to be psychic, and she shared some information with me about my future.  While it was interesting food for thought, I remained a skeptic.   After being offered this opportunity, I hoped to find out whether Psychic Source's psychic shared similar statements about my family and future to match what I'd heard previously.
I set up my appointment with Christine, a popular psychic on their website, with a gift for clairaudience.
My primary questions for Christine were regarding my current and future children, as well as my family and personal health and well-being.  We chatted on the phone for 45 minutes, but it seemed like only a few minutes had passed.  Christine was helpful and personable, but didn't pry into my personal business or ask me to reveal anything that I didn't want to share.

I first asked Christine about my new baby's personality.  She told me that our new baby would be laid back and relaxed as she gets older, as well as very smart, a great student, and incredibly honest.  She said she would be someone who other people go to for advice, and someone with a natural inclination to help and support others.  She then called out that this was more of my personality than my husband's.  That part was spot on.  She also mentioned a mother figure who watches over Avery, and mentioned that this was Avery's grandmother who had passed not long ago.

When asked about future children, Christine said our next child would also be a girl, who would have more of my husband's personality traits.  She said that she will clam up when upset and will butt heads with her dad, since they're so much alike.  She said that if we decided to have a third child, it would be a boy, and he would be a real handful.  She also mentioned that he would be a lot like my dad and I'd have to watch him every minute because he will be sneaky and a bit devious.  She did note, however, that although the boy would be sneaky, he would be a natural comedian and bring tremendous joy to our lives.

Christine predicted some interesting things for the next year of my professional life, so I can't wait to see how that develops.  She also noted that my sister and I would eventually live closer together in the future, which I'd love.  I also laughed when Christine described my niece as a natural leader and a Type A personality who would naturally lead my daughter around in the future.  She already does this when we get together for family functions, and apparently does this at her daycare as well!

One thing I appreciated about Christine was that she didn't just tell me about the good things, but seemed to be a realist.  She said that we would never be rich, but we would always have enough money to live comfortably.  She also said that we would have struggles with a member of our family who means well but his communication is poor and he believes the world revolves around him.  She said this family member would come to stay with us for awhile but wouldn't live with us long term.  Not great news, but not awful either.  It was mentioned as a point of caution, but not as though it would be anything life changing.

Christine gave me some tips on what my family should look out for health-wise, and shared a little about my husband's professional changes in the coming year.  It was a thought-provoking discussion, to say the least.

After the phone call, I recalled my previous meeting with that friend of a friend who said she was psychic.  Every single thing she told me matched what Christine told me in that phone call, down to very small details where I thought, how could she have known?  This added a layer of legitimacy and comfort to a process where I had been so skeptical.

The discussion helped me to feel more excited about the future and possibilities it holds, as well as feel more eager to get to know the growing and evolving personality of my little girl.  Christine didn't give me any promises, guarantees or spectacularly bad news, and that's just how I hoped it would be. 

If you're interested in learning more about the psychic services offered by, please check out their website!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Avery's 3 Months Old!

I can't believe my baby turned three months old at the end of November!  Where has the time gone?!?!  She's still my adorable little nugget, but she's getting bigger.  She started wearing her 6 month clothes recently, and we had to pack up all of her newborn and small 3 month clothes.  I admit, I cried.  I mean, she hardly wore some of those teeny tiny clothes, and now they're packed away in a box.

One good thing about her getting bigger is hitting milestones, like her 3-month mark and other milestones.  She can now roll over from front-to-back and back-to-front, so that means no more swaddling.  She's now a sleep sack girl, and she's loving it!  She can also stand up when supported and loves to stretch and stiffen her legs.  She loves to smile and giggle, and has discovered the wonders of TV (not that she watches much at this point).  Avery still eats really inconsistently, but is gaining weight well.  She's now 13 lbs, 9 oz and 25.5" long.  I love my growing girl!

For babies, getting pictures taken every few months or so it a rite of passage.  Avery's 3 month pictures were taken about a week ago, including some of her donning red and silver for the holidays.  She was so adorable, but we had several meltdowns to work through.  She was cranky, then hungry, then cranky again.  Good times.  In the end, the pictures turned out very, very cute, and Hubs and I were proud that we only had one little stress-induced spat.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures...

That little giraffe outfit was a gift from my sister at my baby shower, and everyone in the studio that day went nuts over how adorable they thought she was in it.  Then she had a crazy, screaming baby tantrum, which was fixed by a bottle.  The picture above was taken right after she realized that she didn't have to freak out anymore.  Hence, the scowl.

The rest are just too precious for words.  At least to me, the proud, very biased mom.

My only beef with the pictures was that they didn't have ANY Christmas props available, as they were being used by other families in the studio.  Grrrr...  I'd have killed for Avery to be in a little Christmas basket or hanging out underneath a Christmas tree... but I digress.

Here's to many more family holiday pictures in December!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Fresh & Fabulous for the Holidays

Ready or not, the holidays are finally upon us!  For many of us, the holidays are an endless barrage of decorations, shopping, and best of all, parties.  Ohhhh, the parties!  And at parties, there are wonderful things, like cocktails and photographs, and those booze-fueled photos will live in infamy for many moons to come.

As a beauty enthusiast, my friends often ask me what type of outfit or makeup looks they should wear for certain types of parties, from the ever-popular Ugly Sweater Party to the office holiday soiree.  While I may be partial to more neutral and natural looks for everyday purposes, I always have ideas for how to amp up a look for the holidays or special occasions.  Holiday parties are my absolute fave because you can go in so many directions.  Dramatic!  Bright!  Smoky!  Sparkly!

For me, a great holiday party look will photograph well, emphasize your favorite features and have a special, not-for-everyday feel.  It's also critical that a look won't appear silly or totally dated when those photos are pulled out in 10 years.  Unless you're into giving others blackmail material, then that's on you.

Here are my steps for building a great holiday party look:

  • COMPLEXION - A great complexion is key to looking healthy and happy.  Start with drinking lots of water and maintaining a skincare routine, then build on that with a great skin primer, like Benefit POREfessional.  Foundation comes next, and depending on your skin and skin type, the type may vary.  Since many of us have drier skin during this time of the year, I always suggest a liquid foundation or BB cream, mixed with a little liquid highlighter.  The highlighter gives your skin a luminous, candlelit look without the dreaded club kid sparkle that most adults actively avoid.  Also use a liquid or pencil highlighter around your eyes to appear more awake since holiday parties tend to be held at night when we're naturally more tired.  You'll be surprised at what a difference it makes in photos!
  • EYES, CHEEKS AND LIPS - For color cosmetics, I love a natural cheek with a more dramatic eye OR lip.  One of the other, not both.  Going for broke with both a dramatic eye and lip makes someone look like they're trying VERY hard, and no one wants that, right?  Choosing one area of focus also tends to photograph better, IMHO.  I prefer a smoky eye, or a pop of color that may be unexpected.  Top all of that with a good setting powder, like Rimmel Stay Matte, then follow up with bold eyeliner and lots of mascara.  These are absolute requirements for finishing the look, so don't skip these!  You could go for false lashes too, if you're into that sort of thing.  If you cry, sweat or smudge your makeup easily, also mist your face with a waterproof setting spray so that fab look doesn't budge.
  • HAIR - For stunning holiday party hair, I love, love, love hair worn down (no ponytails!) with lots of body and shine.  I like a good blow-out to smooth and straighten hair, and follow it up with volume from Velcro rollers and some curl and shape from a large barreled curling iron.  This amps up the sexy factor for sure.  Hit your finished style with a healthy dose of shine spray and some flexible hold hairspray, and voila, hot holiday hair!  If you hate hair in your face, try pinning a few small sections of hair from around your face back with bobby pins for an effortless look.
  • FASHION - I'm no fashion blogger, but I love holiday attire and planning outfits.  I'm not one for crazy over-the-top clothes, but I love to look more festive for parties with friends.  Go for colorful elements and include some sparkle or shine via sequins, shimmery fabrics or, dare I say, some rhinestones.  It's the holidays after all, so wearing something outside of your normal comfort zone is totally acceptable, as long as it's still classy.  Also, stay away from shoes or boots that you haven't broken in or those with crazy high heels, unless you know you'll have a place to sit during the party.  I know how standing around for 4+ hours in uncomfortable shoes can turn me into a total Scrooge, and I don't want anyone else to have to experience that.
There you have it!   My essentials for holiday party and special occasion looks.  It's not too complicated, but is still a method for focusing your look on the the places where your effort will count the most.  

Go forth looking so fresh and so clean, clean for your upcoming holiday parties with these tips.  I look forward to seeing your amazing pictures online!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Fab Friday Week In Review

Hiya lovelies!  Happy Friday.  TGIF.  Hallelu-yer, it's almost the weekend!  I'm ready for it, and I bet you are too.

This is my first week back to work after my 13-week maternity leave.  I thought it was GLORIOUS being home with Avery and having lots of time to bond, but alas, it was time to go back to the grind.  I went back to work on Monday and found plenty of work waiting for me.  Of course there was drama while I was out, but I should always expect that.  I've never worked for a drama-free employer.  I swear they don't exist.

Here are some stats from my first week back to work:
  • 1168 - Unread emails waiting for me, and that's with an Out of Office message on my account.
  • 5 - Voicemail messages waiting for me, which would have been far worse if they hadn't forwarded my phone to one of my assistants on my first day on leave.
  • 6 - Hugs I received from my bosses and co-workers on my first day back to work.  I only stayed in my office that day and didn't make the rounds, so the rest of the week was filled with more.  I lost count on those.  I'm just fortunate that everyone was so excited to have me back!
  • 15 - Files delivered to me on Day 1 by my coworker who took over the bulk of my work while I was gone saved up some "good stuff" (her words, not mine) for my return.
  • 1 - Employees who went AWOL while I was out.  My boss hired a temp to replace her;  I'm not thrilled.  (If I had a proper Grumpy Cat meme, I'd use it here.)
  • 1 - Ultimatum received from an employee, who threatened to quit after the first of the year if the leadership team won't meet their demands for more exciting work and more money.  However, said person doesn't have all of the knowledge and skills necessary to do things they say they want to do, and isn't taking 'no' for an answer.  (sigh)
  • 5 - New parking spaces outside of my building, which means I don't have to trek so  far in and out of the building every day.  It's the little things, people.
  • 3 - Workplace moms who have already dispensed their sage parenting advice to me.  It was not requested.  I'm absolutely sure there is more to come.
  • 1 - Baby swings that kicked the bucket, leaving my husband with very few devices that keep our daughter happy.  Right now, if Avery's not happy, nobody's happy, so I just ordered a new swing.  Never mind the fact that we have enough baby equipment in our house to accommodate triplets (no joke), but she only likes 1 activity mat and sometimes 1 bouncer.  Otherwise, she wants to be held and snuggled non-stop.  Send prayers that she likes the new swing--Hubs' sanity is riding on it!
  • 100.38 - Dollars spent on the Macy's baby apparel sale via lunchtime online shopping.  It's really cold here in Florida this week and I realized that we don't have anywhere near enough warm clothing for Avery.  I also bought some clothes for my niece for Christmas, so YAY for multi-tasking!
  • 2 - Nights that I was home late this week due to pre-planned after-work commitments and an emergency battery need.  Apparently every single baby item seems to need some special type of battery.  Hubs didn't love that he was being left alone for extra-long periods of time during his first week being a SAHD.  In his words, he was "thrown to the wolves".  Poor guy.  Luckily he's a wonderful daddy and he and Avery just got a lot of extra bonding time!
  • 5:30 - Time this morning that Avery woke up and refused to go back to sleep.  Every other day, she sleeps until 7:30, but on the Friday of a very long tiring week, she decided that she needed to start her day.  Many thanks to her for my early Friday morning wake-up call, followed by cute smiles and snuggles, and later followed by crying because she didn't get her bottle fast enough.  It's par for the course in Baby Land.
Overall, it's been a really good week, but stressful for all of us in my little family.  It will definitely get easier in time, once we have a new routine established and I'm back in the swing of things at work.

What were the highlights of your week? 

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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!

La Bella Vita

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