Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Fresh Beginnings

There's something about January that always makes me giddy with delight and anxious to begin checking the boxes on my new year's To Do list.  It's the kind of thing that makes me put items on the checklist simply to feel the rush of happiness from boldly checking it off.  It feels so good!

 This year is my year of renewal, a year for new beginnings.

The last few years left me tired, stressed and frustrated, and my inner optimist light began to dim.  In the fall of 2016, things began to perk up as I consciously made choices about the way I thought about life moving forward.

Looking inward rather than at the external stuff that just wasn't working for me made a huge difference.  I gave myself permission to stop maintaining friendships with certain people who simply didn't put in the reciprocal effort.  I gave myself permission to love myself again, even when I had been in a critical state of mind.  I spent time reflecting on life rather than ranting to my husband about work or other things I was upset about.  I also set smaller goals for myself to feel good about knocking things off my list, one at a time, even if they all weren't so significant in the grand scheme of life.

Slowly, personal and professional projects were and continue to be accomplished, and I'm feeling great about where things are at in all areas of my life.  I have added a number of key things to my 2017 list that follow along with the concept of taking smaller bites to eat the elephant.  Most of these items focus on taking better care of myself, with the goal that success there will overflow to those around me.  These include:  Drink more water... Move more... Practice positive self-talk... Spend quality time with my family... Make more time for things that make me personally happy... Clean a little bit every day... Be my own cheerleader.

I love having these more-specific, bite-sized goals.

While I still have more on my current To Do list than I'm comfortable with, my personal mantra for years has been "Progress, Not Perfection".  As this continues to ring true in a big way, I will carry this mantra, my battle flag, into 2017 proudly.

Monday, December 14, 2015

So It's Been Awhile...

I have had a bit of an absence from my blog for the past few months,  Managing my injury and new job, along with 1 year old and other family demands was just crushing every part of me, from my spirit to my drive for success.  It was even more uncharted territory than I'd faced before, even in some very tough times.

Since I was unable to take care of myself and was dependent on my husband and friends for so much, I felt trapped and isolated, even though I was never alone.  Sound strange?  Yeah, I think it does too, but it really isn't that strange.  Imagine never having any freedom to do whatever you pleased, whenever you pleased.  No more meeting friends out for lunch.  No more stopping at Target on my way home from work to pick up a few groceries.  No ability to participate in happy hours or other clubs or meetings.  That's been my life.  The timing never worked for picking up my kiddo or my husband's schedule, so these things just couldn't happen, and my life turned straight to survival mode.  In short, it sucked.  I have been ready to get better for quite awhile now, but the pain was awful and my fracture was not healing.

However, over the past month, things have been getting better over the past couple of weeks, now that physical therapy has finally led to signs of physical improvement--I'm back to driving my car again and I can lift my daughter up, even if it's just for short periods of time or in certain positions.  My little girl has instantly warmed back up to me, too, which is the very best feeling of all.  While I'm not fully independent yet, as I still need Hubs to wash my hair, lift heavy things and do other types of tasks for me, progress is a wonderful feeling!

You'll be seeing more of me again, and I can't wait!

I hope everyone's holiday season is going fabulously!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Scotties & Blo Blow Dry Bar Event

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending an event for local bloggers hosted and sponsored by Scotties tissues at Blo Blow Dry Bar.  While this review and event were sponsored by Scotties, my thoughts and opinions in this post are entirely my own.

Scotties facial tissues classic tissues that have been a staple in homes, offices, cars and purses for years. Soft and sturdy, they stand up to even the fiercest of cold or flu symptoms (I know because I've recently been hit with a cold and these came in quite handy!).  They're widely available, most notably at We are available locally at Walmart and online on Amazon.com.  Scotties is an environmentally conscious brand that plants 3 trees for every tree it uses, resulting in the company planting over 944 million trees in the past 50 years.  To read more about Scotties, check out their website, http://www.scottiesfacial.com/.

Scotties products are wonderful, and I was given several boxes of tissues to try.  Look at these beautiful boxes below... Gorgeous, right?  The designs are more visually interesting and exciting than standard graphic designs from other brands' tissue boxes

The event itself was lovely, and I learned so much about the Scotties brand's local outreach efforts with the Tampa Bay Human Society, which has helped place approximately 500 cats into loving forever homes over the past 3 years via sponsored adoptions.  Many of you may recognize that the Scotties mascot is a kitten, hence the support of the adoption of shelter cats. I love this charitable giving mission and its impact on my local community.  Animals are a particular soft spot of mine, especially since I have a rescue dog that I adopted from a Humane Society shelter many years ago.  It's great to see companies supporting the placement of shelter animals in loving, forever homes.

At this event, I received a complimentary blow-out and my stylist at Blo was phenomenal!  Since my husband had been washing my hair since early September, the thought of having someone else wash my hair was heavenly, and my stylist did not disappoint.  She really scrubbed my scalp and massaged it in the most relaxing of ways.  Afterward, I chose a mix between their standard blow-out look and their blow-out with a lot of body, so it was bouncy and fresh looking, and it looked gorgeous for three full days.  I spruced it up in between the days with a light spritz of dry shampoo, and it was back to it's gorgeous original state.  I was so impressed!  

Day 1, Front

Day 1, Profile

Day 2, looking just as great as Day 1

I was so impressed, in fact, that I've already been back for a another blow-out (on my own dime, of course) because I just had to have another!  

Many thanks to Scotties for the great learning experience about their products and charitable giving programs, as well as for the lovely blow-out at Blo Blow Dry Bar!  My hair  truly hadn't looked or felt this wonderful in months!

For additional information, check out the Scotties Facebook page at www.facebook.com/scottiestissues and Twitter account at www.twitter.com/scottiestissues

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Quick Update

Hi there!  It's been awhile, I know... I know.

Life has just been happening around here, guys.  For better and for worse, but I've tried to keep a smile on my face.  I will give you a few quick and dirty updates, and get into some specifics later this weekend when I have time to put up the lengthier posts.

*  I started a new job on August 31st!  I'm working with a former co-worker at his company any it's a great, challenging new job for me.  I'm no longer managing people, but it's a higher level job and will definitely help me in my career progression down the road.  The pay is also better and I will have opportunities to work from home a couple of days per week in the future, which will be AMAZING.  I can't wait for my training period to end and for that to get going.

* After my 4th day on the job, I tripped and fell one evening at home (on the dog's little stairs leading up to our loveseat, no less) and fractured my right wrist and fractured and dislocated my right shoulder!  I was in a shoulder immobilizer for a week (over Labor Day holiday weekend), then saw an orthopedic surgeon last week who confirmed that no surgery was necessary at this time but I'd have 3-4 more weeks of healing followed by 6-8 weeks of physical therapy ahead of me.  In the meantime, I have very limited use of my right arm, so I've had to get used to typing and mousing with only my left hand, and I'm not allowed to drive.  What a great way to start a new job--by being incredibly slow on a computer and relying on my husband and friends for rides to and from work every day!  (Sarcasm...of course.)  I also can't wash my own hair, need help getting dressed, and have to sleep in a La-Z-Boy recliner, which really stinks.  I'm a super independent person so this situation is really frustrating and upsetting.  You know what bums me out a lot?  Not being able to do my hair, skincare and makeup routines the way I like.  Sounds silly to my Hubby, but for other girls like me, I'm sure you can't understand the annoyance and pain involved in a situation like this.  For example, I can't use any hair product that isn't in a spray bottle or else I can't evenly spread it through my hair. Hmph.  Just forces me to try new products, I suppose, but that creature of habit in me isn't liking this arrangement very much!  I can't wait to get started on therapy and regain some use in my arm to resume normal activities again.

*  Avery turned 1 a few weeks ago and we held her 1st birthday party over Labor Day weekend!  Pictures to come...

*  I've had to put many plans for this Fall on hold because I just had an ER visit (thank you. trip-and-fall accident!) that will require me to pay my entire new deductible on my new health insurance NOW.  I've had to reconsider plans for redecorating our office, getting some new clothes for Hubs and I (he's dropping weight like crazy and I just need some new things for my new job), and other house/yard projects that we were really excited about.  That's just how life goes sometimes, but I can't let it get me down too much.  There will always be other times and ways for those things to happen.

*  I saw Ed Sheeran in concert last week and he was phenomenal!  I was so glad it was just him in concert and that he didn't have a full band with him--just like he's always performed.  I almost worried that he'd have a full band, with this being a huge headlining arena gig and all, but he did his thing up there solo and rocked it.  It was so much fun and even Hubs admitted the he's a really talented artist. (And that's saying something, because he's quite a music critic!)

So those are the highlights!  More to come in each area.

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.

My photo
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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