Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking Back at 2011

What a crazy whirlwind of year this has been!  I've had so many great things happen this year that it's going to be hard for another year to top it.  I never dreamed that I'd be getting married in 2011, or that my twin sister would be getting married a mere month and a half later.  It was crazyness at it's finest, but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.  Here are a few of my favorite moments and events of this year...
  • In January, Pete and I went to Michigan over MLK weekend for wedding planning.  I got to revisit a Michigan winter, and suffice it to say, I was happy to go back to sunny Florida.  So why is this a highlight, you ask?  Well I'd been wanting to see and experience some Michigan snow, slush and ice again, and by God, I got just that.
  • In February, I got an awesome performance review rating at work.  As an HR person, this is the kind of thing that gets you geeked in a hardcore kind of way.  I was a very proud Kari.
  • In April, Kelly, Jess and Tracy (3 of my amazing bridesmaids) threw me my first Bridal Shower at CBD's Southside in Tampa, FL.  It was gorgeous and had so many beautiful touches, and I couldn't have been happier with how it turned out. 
 Kelly, Me, Tracy and Jess

Check out the adorable little wedding dress cookies from Cookie Cousins in Orlando--so precious!

Everything was pink and blue, matching my shower invitations
  • In May, I had my last wedding planning trip to Michigan and my aunt and cousins threw Kelly and I a joint Bridal Shower at Eagle Eye Golf and Country Club in Bath, Michigan.  They did a great job and I was thrilled to have so many of my friends and family there.  It had been quite awhile since I'd seen all of the ladies in my huge family in one place, so it was a very heart-warming experience.
Me with my Mom and Kelly.  We worked hard to make sure we didn't end up wearing matching outfits.
My cousin Sarah made me this pretty cake and used my wedding colors.  I think she did a nice job!
  • In mid-May, my bridesmaids took me to Ft. Lauderdale, FL for my bachelorette party.  Me and my 7 girlfriends stayed at the Beach Place complex, and we hit up some great bars, restaurants and the beach.  It was a crazy weekend and I had a blast. 
Here we all are, right after dinner and on our way to a night of bar-hopping.

Jess and I were feeling no pain.  It was a beautiful thing!

  • In June, Pete and I got hitched!  We had a beautiful wedding with 125 guests in Michigan.  We then went on a super relaxing honeymoon in Antigua for a week, which was totally what we needed after the wedding stress.  We stayed at Sandals Grande Antigua and loved our suite, met great people from all over the world, and enjoyed some fantastic cocktails.  The cocktails MUST be included as a highlight... they rocked my world (well, not as much as marrying Pete, but they were pretty high up on the list).
The Wedding Party at the Rehearsal Dinner

This is The Rock at MSU that four members of our wedding party painted the night before the wedding.  It was a total surprise to us, and we LOVED it!  Painting The Rock was a big deal when I was a student at MSU, so having it painted for the wedding was a major treat.  I was feeling the love from our friends on this one.

Here's the Philadelphia Flyers groom's cake I surprised Pete with.  He was utterly shocked and he raved about it (especially since it was chocolate cake with peanut butter icing).  On the front are crossed hockey ticks and a black hockey puck.

Here I am in Antigua, enjoying our private cabana in my new Tory Burch sunnies.
After our dinner on the Antiguan beach
Pete and I enjoying the last night of our honeymoon.  We both got some sun and had the best time.
  • The week after we got home from our honeymoon, Tracy and I threw Kelly a Bridal Shower at Columbia Restaurant in Tampa, FL.  We had such a fantastic time, if you don't count the disaster we encountered getting Kelly's cake that day (they made us a single tiered pepto-bismol colored cake with sloppy piping--not the light pink multi-tiered mini-wedding cake we ordered).  Thankfully Publix came through and made us a new cake for free, and even delivered it to the shower before it started.  Here are some great shots from the shower:
Kelly wanted an all-pink shower, so totally delivered on that.  We used light pink and hot pink (aka blush and bashful) and gave pink B&BW Sweet Pea Scentportables and pink cake pops as favors.

Tracy, Kelly and I, all in shades of pink

Here's Kel opening my present--a humongous box of dishes and gadgets from Crate and Barrel

Here was our replacement cake.  Not as big, cute or awesome as we'd planned, but it was pretty, delicious and finished.  The fact that it was free didn't hurt, but I would have gladly paid for the sweet cake we ordered. 
  • The week after Kelly's shower, Pete and I had our Florida wedding reception at Jackson's Bistro on Harbor Island in Tampa.  We had 50 of our closest family and friends from Florida there to wish us well on our married life.  We showed an endless slideshow of pictures from the wedding, as well as the movie trailer of our wedding video that our a-maz-ing videographer Andy sent us just in time for the party.  The DJ did a great job, the food was phenomenal and the big cupcake display from The Cupcake Spot was a huge hit with our guests.  We felt so blessed to have two fabulous parties to commemorate the most joyful event in our lives.
  • In July, I threw Kelly her bachelorette party in Tampa.  We started out with a delectable dinner at Ceviche, then we went bar hopping in Hyde Park.  We had a blast I was so happy to give Kelly a fun night on the town with her friends.
All of the girls together at Ceviche.  Here we are, eagerly awaiting the champagne sangria.
  • On July 23rd, Kelly and Darrell got married in Key West, FL!  I was the Maid of Honor, and had a blast supporting Kelly on her big day.  She was such a pristine-looking bride and I was so proud to see her enter the next phase in her life with such a terrific guy. 
Darrell, Kelly, Me and Pete at their Rehearsal Dinner

The Twins in Full Force

Pe-Tah and I enjoying a breezy, beautiful night in Key West

  • In September, Pete and I celebrated our 3 year anniversary.  We went out to dinner (neither of us can remember where though!) and ate fabulous cupcakes from Gigi's.
  • In October, I saw my 100th concert.  It was the Hard Rock 40th Birthday Bash festival in downtown Orlando, FL on 10/1.  There were numerous stages, but I managed to see some of my favorite bands:  Mike Doughty, Everclear and Tonic.  Kelly also scored us free VIP passes, and I had a little too much fun with the open bar in one of the rooftop VIP areas.  I don't remember much of what happened after seeing those bands, but I'm sure I had a blast!
  • In December, I celebrated a really memorable Christmas and another birthday.  Since I'm having a hard time coming to terms with my age, I'll decline to say how old I turned, but let's just say that I turned 29 again.  Thankfully Pete always reminds me that I look younger than my age implies (he knows how to butter me up).  I also celebrated my work anniversary on the same day as my birthday, so I've now been working there for 6 years.  I can hardly believe it's been so long, but that speaks to what a great experience it has been.  People, it means SO MUCH to like/love your job.  My life has been infinitely happier since I began working for a company that was agood fit for me. 
I'm delighted to see what 2012 has in store for Pete and I.  With such a tremendous 2011, I can only imagine the fun and great times that lie ahead of us this year.  My primary goals are to lose weight (perennial resolution), get my home painted and organized and to take a cruise with Pete for our wedding anniversary.  I'm sure this will all be accomplished and more.  Should be fun to see what develops as the year rolls on.

I wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year!  Stay safe tonight!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy Burfday to Me!

Yesterday was my birthday, and I'll be honest, it was kinda weird.  Really good, but not spending the day with my twin, my other better-half (Pete is still my primary better-half), made it... different.  I really, really missed celebrating with her.

I got up in the morning and took my car in to the shop so the damage from my accident last week could be fixed.  They gave me a rental, and told me that they'd have my car back to me in about a week.  I really hate to give up my car for a whole week, but at least they gave me a full size rental and not some little pregnant-rollerskate of a car. 

Then I headed off to the mall for a little solo retail therapy.  I had one return to make, then I took advantage of semi-annual sales at Nine West, Bath and Body Works (surprise, surprise) and a Loft.  I could have stayed there shopping all day, but instead I went home to play with Bella girl, who was crazy-excited that I was home snuggling with her instead of going to work.  She was even cooing at me and spent most of the afternoon cuddled against me on the couch.

When Pete got home, he arrived carrying a dozen red roses, a ginormous Happy Birthday balloon and a birthday cake.  He also gave me two more birthday gifts:  a 3-strand pearl bracelet and a bottle of Dreaming Tree wine!  I realized yet again what a lucky girl I am to have a hubby who takes care of me on my oft forgotten birthday.

We then went out to Bella's, an Italian restaurant in Hyde Park, for dinner with my friends.  We had delicious food, many glasses of sangria and of course amazing vanilla-strawberry birthday cake.  Here are a few pics of our outing:

I also received some great presents from my friends. 
I'll never turn down flowers and vino.  Never.

Yep, it's a Groupon gift card!  I'd never seen one of these before, but given my affinity for all things Groupon/Living Social, it was a perfect gift.

Scrapbooking Stuff is such a fabulous gift.  I've been planning to get going on my wedding scrapbook for a couple of months, so this is a great way for me to get rolling.  I got a hot pink scrapbook, iridescent paper, and beach and wedding kits. 

I don't have a picture of my last gift, a Target giftcard.  My friends know that I practically live at that place. It's actually dangerous to have one only a 1/2 mile away.  And many thanks to Sephora for my free Philosophy birthday shower gel!

Overall it was a great birthday and my heart was with Kelly alllll day long.  Here's to another great year of aging gracefully!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Magic and Twin Love

I got home yesterday from spending a couple of days down at my parents' house in Venice.  It was such a great Christmas!  I ate WAYYY too much, got so many fantastic presents, and got to spend time with my favorite peeps.  I couldn't have asked for anything better.  I think all families are either Christmas Day families or Christmas Eve families. We're a Christmas Eve family, so that means our major celebrating and gift-opening happens on the 24th.  There's a story behind it, stemming from when we were kids.  Even though we're all grown up, the tradition remains.

Pete and I arrived on Christmas Eve, and we spent the day relaxing with the family and preparing food for our "dinner" that evening.  Dinner is in quotes because we don't have a real dinner on Christmas Eve, just and assemblage of finger foods to nibble on as we get ready to open gifts and watch Christmas movies.  Here's a look at our little spread:
Yummy cheeses, crackers, veggies, meatballs, sandwiches, popcorn chicken, shrimp, and crab dip.  Everyone's favorite dish was the crab dip, which we annhilated in mere minutes. 

Christmas cookies, chocolates, candies... all neatly displayed by my Mom.  She really shouldn't have.  We're not the kind of people who need to be impressed.  I'd eat that stuff off paper plates.  Or directly off the counter.  I'm not fussy.

My Mom is the queen of specialty holiday themed plates and napkins.  This year she found these adorable cocktail napkins that were perfect for this group (sorry it's sideways, I can't figure out how to fix here).  Pete said that I was a naughty girl this year, but I think the rest of the world would agree that I've been nice.  So there, Pete!

Here are me and my twin sis Kelly, along with our children, Bella and Charlie.  They're all dressed up in their Christmas finery, including Charlie's silly hooded Christmas sweater from his former foster mom.  He hates that thing.

Mom's Christmas tree with all of our presents under it just makes it feel like Christmas.  I always get a kick of our her Christmas tree because all of the ornaments are red and gold, with an occasional bit of white.  Heaven forbid you put a blue ornament on the tree.  I think it would ruin her Christmas.  She's a little OCD like that.

After we ate and had a few drinks, we opened our presents.  I have ZERO pictures from opening presents because I was consumed with gifts and so was everyone else in the room.   I'll tell you about my gifts in un momento. 

After Bella opened her presents, she was completely tuckered out and fell asleep using her new piglet toy as a pillow.  Awww... 

Kelly and I did a total twin thing this year:  we bought our husbands the same Christmas cards, and we bought each other the same Christmas cards!   Obviously, we had no idea the other was doing this or one of us would have chosen something else.  I think it's a hoot that we have the same taste.

Kelly, Darrell, Pete and I all went nightswimming around 9:00 to relax a little more before heading off to bed.  It was such an incredible night with the people I love.

On Christmas Day, we slept in, then got up and made a late breakfast.  I found this awesome breakfast casserole recipe on Plain Chicken, which turned out to be AMAZING.  I recommend you give it a whirl.  We'll definitely be making this again.

My sister also made this awesome cinnamon-cream cheese danish thing that was to die for.  Yum!

Later on Christmas Day, my aunt and uncle came over and we had a big family dinner.  Ham, cheesy potatoes, green bean casserole, deviled eggs, the works.  My mom's dinners never disappoint.  She's stopped trying to cram all of our food on our dinner table outside (we had dinner on the lanai since it was such a beautiful day), so we once again put it out buffet style for us.

Kelly and I also celebrated our birthday on Christmas Day, since we can't be together on the 27th this year.  We also did yet another twin thing:  we both wore purple tank tops with gray sweaters on Christmas Day!  HA!  I love that we still do things like that inadvertently.

After Christmas dinner, Kelly and Darrell went home to work on their house and Pete and I took a dip in the pool.  I needed to float and feel light after that huge meal!

So back to presents.  I scored some great stuff this year, so I have no complaints.  At.  All.  Everyone did such a good job, and I feel like I did a good job on everyone else too.  Here are some of my favorite presents:
Kate Spade Trenton Madrid Embossed Croc bag in Graphite

Vera Bradley Laptop Sleeve in Baroque

Apple Sweater from Kusala Knitworks (on Etsy)

Adorable little Owl cuff from Kusala Knitworks

6 Month Birchbox Subscription

Clarisonic Mia

I also got a Dave Matthews Band calendar, 2 PERFECT cardigan sweaters, some home fragrance stuff from B&BW, and LOTS of money.  YAY!

For my birthday, I got an early gift from Pete last week of tickets to see Straight No Chaser.  Kelly also gave me:

New Mindy Kaling book and adorable picture of us in a Twins frame

Vera Bradley Checkbook Cover in Baroque

Michigan State reversible tote bag, post-it notes, note pads and cookie cutter

So many blessings, so little time!  I really have a great family and husband.  This was a wonderful Christmas and I'm looking forward to a brilliant year ahead.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Cheer Abound

Wow, it's two days until Christmas!  I've been engulfed in holiday fun over the past couple of days, and it's impossible for me not to feel that Christmas cheer. 

Last night, our dear friends Jess and Steve had the gang over for a big holiday dinner last night.  I always love getting together for the holidays, which is something we've done over the past few years.  We brought Bella with us, and she dressed up for the occasion by wearing her Christmas party dress.
Why yes, that is red velvet and white faux fur.  Isn't she darling?  Actually, she looks a little miserable, but she actually loves wearing the dress.  We could barely get it off her last night.

Here's Bella with her boyfriend Spartacus (pardon him, he's busy kissing his mom).  Bella is being held by her Uncle Joe, who's like the Dog Whisperer.  Our pets LOVE him... and actually behave for him.  Imagine that.

For din-din, Jess made delicious pulled pork, yellow rice, and black beans, Joe and Megan brought a vegetarian lasagna, and I brought a big salad.  The meal was totally delish.  After dinner, Jess's mom took a picture of us to match the one we took last year.
Now that's a happy group of people.  Nevermind Megan in the middle.  I think she forgot to smile.

Today was my last day of work before a four day weekend, so I was stoked to leave work at 1:30 this afternoon.  I really only had to do my 2011 self-evaluation and set goals for 2012 (barf), mostly because today was the deadline and I was a slacker leading up to this point.  Not all HR people live for this stuff.  After work, I came home and baked an scrumptious batch of Black Bottom Cupcakes.
They're chocolate cupcakes with a chocolate chip cheesecake filling.  Nom Nom Nom!
When Pete got home, we went out to dinner, where I enjoyed guacamole and fajitas.  I also had one two of these...
Sangria Swirl Margarita
Those things gave me THREE brain-freezes, but they were f-ing amazing.  Totally worth the temporary debilitating pain.

Then off we went to see Straight No Chaser at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa.  Pete surprised me last night with tickets to the show as an early birthday present.  I had wanted to go SO badly, but thought we weren't going to make it since we were saving money.  I loved the surprise and was thrilled to hear some awesome a capella Christmas music tonight.  Here are a few of my pictures from the show.

If you haven't heard of Straight No Chaser, go to YouTube and search for their version of the 12 Days of Christmas.  It's a classic.  They also do a lot of non-Christmas stuff, like a fahbulous version of Fix You (the Coldplay song).

Tonight has been muy fantastico, and now I have to go pack for the weekend trip to Venice to see the 'rents for the holidays.  Can't wait to pull out Bella's Christmas dress again.  My parents will fall all over each other taking pictures of her and stuff.  Should be awesome! 

Have a Merry Christmas!

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!

La Bella Vita

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