Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fabulous Valentines Challenge - Day 2

I'm back with another installment for the Fabulous Valentines Blog Challenge, and today's topic is: Love Telling this Bad Date Story (AKA WORST DATE EVER).  I have been on several truly terrible dates, and choosing just one to write about was difficult.  I want to tell you about all of my terrible dates, but I'll pick the one that irritated me the most.
 

As I mentioned previously, I kissed a lot of frogs before I met my prince.  One of the frogs was named Ben, and I met him when I was about 22 years old and living in Sarasota, Florida.  Ben was a local guy, born and raised in Florida (you don't meet many of those down here), 23-ish years old and seemed like a decent enough guy.  He worked a joe job, but was cute, so I said 'what the hell' and agreed to go out with him.
 
Ben invited me on a date to see a movie (one I really wanted to see at the time, I can't remember what it was called) and go to dinner, but when he picked me up, he told me that he "lost" all of his money so we couldn't go to the movies or dinner--but he still wanted to go on a date!  He proceeded to take me to the Jetty in Venice (a long peninsula made of rocks stretching into the ocean), at night, in the winter.  So there I was, hungry, cold and completely pissed, disappointed that I hadn't gone home to watch tv and cuddle with my dog.  At the Jetty, we were sitting at a picnic table in a dimly lit area making small talk, with the dark water crashing against the rocks only about 20 feet from us.  It felt like a crime was about to committed, with me being the unwitting victim.  The scene was just as creepy as they get, and the guy just seemed seedier by the moment.  I politely asked if we could leave several times (I'm freezing, I'm scared, I'm starving...), but he kept insisting that we stay because he didn't feel like going home, "because that sucks".  WTF.  At 22 years old, I had no idea how to handle this situation, so I just sat there and waited for the "date" to be over. 
 
Around midnight (yes, we sat out there that long, stupid me), Ben proceeded to get very inappropriate with his hand placement and decided that we should hook up on the Jetty.  Uh, hell no.  That was not even within my realm of possibility.  I told him to get the hell away from me and he FINALLY took me home.  He never got a chance to redeem himself because I never saw his sorry ass again.  The Kari of today would have never gone out with this guy to begin with, let alone ending up in a position like that.  Barf.
 
What's the story of your worst date?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Fabulous Valentines Challenge - Day 1

I just LOVE a link-up, and the Fabulous Valentines Challenge from Casey, Amber and Neely is totally up my alley.  Not much is as fun as talking about love, relationships and dating, particularly when you had to kiss a lot of frogs before meeting your prince.


Today's Topic:  Loved This Date-Best Date Ever

I never really dated guys who put much effort into dates until I met my now-husband Pete.  Pete created dating experiences, and he was/is great at it.  He planned everything out and made sure that he showed me the best time.  Our first date was actually one of my favorite dates.  Pete invited me to Channelside for the Bucs season kick-off party, which his radio station was hosting.  We got to see Saving Abel play a free concert, then we went to Bennigan's for drinks after the show.  We had the best time talking and I had crazy butterflies in my stomach.  I wasn't sure if Pete liked me or not, since he didn't even try to kiss me or touch me in any way, but I could tell that we had chemistry.  It turns out that he was just being a gentleman (aka a unicorn--a mythical creature we single ladies always heard about but never saw in person).  That date told me so much about the man I'd eventually marry--he's kind, generous, fun, loves music and can always make me smile.  I knew it was a memorable date at the time, but I never dreamed that Pete would become my husband and I'd be talking about it four years later!  It's funny how things work out.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

It's Gasparilla Time!

On Saturday, Tampa held it's annual Gasparilla Pirate Fest, which is essentially a series of parades, marathon and 5k runs, and other festivities.  Parades are HUGE in Tampa, which I learned pretty much immediately after moving here in 2003.  Lots of people go to the parades and take part in the fun.  Usually it's drunken fun, which is something that sets a Tampa parade apart from most other parades.

Where I come from (hi Holt, MI!), parades are pretty lame.  They're usually less than a mile in length and feature local elected officials, maybe a local beauty queen and some high school marching bands.  If it's a local high school's homecoming parade, there will be real floats made by high school kids representing each class.  Otherwise "floats" are just flat bed trailers decorated with crepe paper, streamers and tissue paper pom poms.  But usually, the beauty queens and elected officials ride in open convertibles.  Nothing too fun about that. 

Tampa, on the other hand, knows how to do parades right, and groups spare little expense to make sure their floats are impressive.  The parade routes are long ( Gasparilla is 4 miles), and there are over 100 floats.  Most floats belong to local krewes who dress in costume and throw copious amounts of mardi gras beads to the revelers.  Thousands of people come out for these parades, and the Gasparilla parade is the biggest parade of the year.

Pete and I were invited to ride on his radio station's float again this year.  Their "float" is really just their monster truck with a decorated flat bed.  Seriously.  Not terribly impressive as floats go, but for a rock station, it makes sense.  Here are a few pictures of the "float"...

Yup, C-L-A-S-S-Y.

The radio station crew - From left, Pete/Kevin Smith, Intern Skidmark, Killabrew, Josh, Lauren, Jesse, Useless/Brett, Norm and Ben.  Psh.  Only one girl.  Such a boys club.

Pre-gaming, a Gasparilla tradition.

Happy couple.  Clad in black.

The hubs throwin' the horns.  What a bad-ass.


I had the pleasure of standing in the bed of the monster truck during the parade, where I threw lots of beads to the crazies.  I tried to be an equal opportunity bead-thrower--I got the kids, the grandmas, the teenagers, of course all of the bead-laden adults.  One guy even threw some REALLY awesome beads back to me that had a big Gasparilla pirate ship pendant!  Thanks dude!

The peeps bringing up the rear.  This is also where the beer was housed.  The guy with the megaphone had the job of throwing us more beer and more beads throughout the parade.  This was hands-down the most important job of all.

Pete again, on the truck and ready to get moving.

Jesse Kage manning the megaphone.  His long, scraggly goatee scares me.

A view of the the parade route ahead of the Mother Trucker.
Yes, that's what they call the monster truck.




A couple of well-dressed pirates.  Argh!

After the parade, Pete and I headed home to shower, then we went to grab a little dinner.  We just came home and crashed afterward--we.were.pooped.  What a tremendous day!  Now I'm nursing a sunburn and a sore bead-throwing arm, but it's a small price to pay for that much fun. 

Happy Gasparilla!


Thursday, January 26, 2012

It's Ok

Greetings and Happy Thursday.  Once again, I'm linking up with Amber and Neely for this week's rendition of It's Ok. Since it's shaping up to be a hell of a week for me, I really need this It's Ok post.  The venting makes me feel better.


It's Ok...

...to call my Mom immediately after a tough day of work to hear her words of wisdom
...to spend my day waiting for a big hug from my hubby
...to find an old CD I forgot about and sing along to it loudly in the car
...to grapple with the biggest question of each morning:  extra strength coffee or Pepsi Max
...to leave my neatly stacked pile of clean laundry on the dresser all week because I don't feel like putting it away
...to be disappointed that my boss and coworkers forgot my birthday
...to put off getting my dog's hair cut because she looks so darn cute shaggy
...to loathe the words, "you didn't do anything wrong, but..."
...to seriously miss getting pedicures and hope for sandal weather to come soon
...to be mildly obsessed with Diet Cranberry Raspberry Snapple
...to be worried that a bunch of randoms will steal my beer at Gasparilla
...to wish I had a reason to go crazy shopping at Ikea
...to not be ready for babies yet even though the pressure is seriously on (ahem, mom)
...to avoid the neighborhood kids so I don't have to deal with an endless barage of "can I pet your dog" requests

{huge sigh of relief}

There.  Now I feel MUCH better.

Toodles!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I've Been Tagged!!

Happy Wednesday!  It's hump day and it's time for a really fun post.  I feel so excited to have been tagged for the first time!  Jessica at A Day in the Life of the Crimella's tagged me, and I totally loved her questions.  Many thanks for tagging me Jessica!  Go check out her blog if you haven't had a chance to already!

Here are the official rules:

1. Post these rules.
2. Step 1- You must post 11 random things about yourself
3. Step 2- Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post
4. Step 3- Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer
5. Go to their blog and tell them that you've tagged them
6. No stuff in the tagging section about 'you are tagged if you are reading this.' Blah Blah Blah. You legitimately have to tag 11 peeps!
 
 
{11} Random Things About Me
1.  I get very attached to ink pens.  When I pick a favorite, I use it until it dies or I'll buy refills until the manufacturer no longer makes them.  If I lose the pen or have to give it away, I actually mourn the loss of the pen and sort of dread having to find a new favorite.
2.  My celebrity crush is John Krasinski from The Office.  He's hot in a boy-next-door kind of way.
3.  Fossil is my watch brand of choice.  I have several other brands but I just don't prefer them.
4.  I used to be in colorguard and winterguard when I was in high school and college.  I still love watching guard videos on YouTube.
5.  When I daydream lately, it's usually about what my next house will look like.  Specifically, what features my kitchen and laundry room will have, and that the house must have a big pantry.
6.  I'm a lefty with double-jointed fingers.  Super weird, I know.
7.  I have jeans in 3 different sizes in my closet so my wardrobe can flex with me as a gain and lose lbs.  I'd eventually like to just have one size--the smallest.
8.  My favorite band is Dave Matthews Band and I've seen them live 15 times.  I'm hoping to add two more shows this summer.
9.  I watch hockey and LOVE to see good fights.  I thirst for blood and cheer on my favorite team's player.
10.  My first car was a white 1985 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera.  It was a boat and you had to floor the accelerator to get the car going at all.  It was a major dog.
11.  The only time I saw Star Wars was in college, and I fell asleep halfway through it.  My husband thinks this is a criminal offense.
 
 
{11} Questions for Me
1. What article of clothing could you not live without?  Favorite pair of Seven jeans
2. If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only have 3 things, what would you want to have?  Cell phone, laptop and an umbrella.  The umbrella could prove to be useful in a number of scenarios.  I guess I'm a practical girl like that.
3. If you had to choose, would you rather to have a computer or TV?  Computer, because I could watch TV shows on it if I wanted.
4. What was your childhood nickname?  My sister called me Bear, but my friend Amanda called me Gal Smiley because I was always so giggly and happy.
5. Who would win in a fight...Chuck Norris or MacGyver?  MacGuyver, totally!  He's a bad-ass.
6. If you were the President for 1 day, what would you change?  I'd do whatever I had to do to ensure that teachers are paid more than they are today.  It's a travesty that teachers are paid as poorly as they are, and if funding for schools needs to be increased in order to do that, I'd find a way to make it happen.
7. Who is your role model?  My mom.  She's a smart, no-nonsense lady who doesn't sweat the small stuff.  I strive to be more like that.
8. Someone walks up to you and asks for some spare change. Do you have any?  No.  I've seen homeless people get angry when people try to give them food because they only want money to buy alcohol or drugs.  I just don't have faith that my spare change will be used for a good purpose.  I suppose I'm a little jaded.  I blame all of those episodes of Intervention.
9. What is in your purse right now?  The question really is, what's NOT in my purse right now?  I seriously live out of that thing.  I have my wallet, coupons, 2 checkbooks, an umbrella, kleenex, pens, pencils, lip gloss, blotting papers, band-aids, hair elastics, lip balm, a Tide Pen, feminine products, a bluetooth hands-free device, business cards, mints, a camera, tylenol, hand cream, a hairbrush, ear buds...it's stuffed full!
10. iPhone or Android?   iPhone!
11. What is your dream vacation?  I'd like to take a tour of Europe, hitting most of the major cities and a stop in my hubby's family's home town in Italy. 
 
{11} Questions for You
1.  If you had to pick a new profession today, what would it be?
2.  Clooney, Pitt or Rogan?
3.  What type of new technology have you chosen to avoid?
4.  What's your favorite perfume?
5.  If you became a millionaire overnight, what's the first thing you would buy?
6.  What scares you to death?
7.  Do you have any tattoos?  If so, where and of what?
8.  Have you ever won a trophy?  (Trophies just for participating don't count.)
9.  Can you touch your tongue to your nose?
10.  Who is your favorite musical artist?
11.  What can you cook that you consider your specialty?
 
Here are the lovely ladies I'm tagging...
 
 

Monday, January 23, 2012

DIY, Concerts and Life, Oh My!

This was quite a weekend, even though it felt like we didn't do all that much.  I'll tell you, I really am beginning to love quieter weekends where I can get things done around the house.  It just feels like I've neglected some of my projects for too long, and accomplishing them makes me feel so good!

Friday
I was running late to work on Friday and I wound up getting rear-ended on my way to work. I was just sitting at a red light when the car behind me rammed my rear bumper.  There was no way to avoid it.  The girl turned out to be super bitchy (as thought it was my fault that she rear-ended me), and kept repeating how she didn't have time to deal with the police.  She also kept telling me that I should get the scratches in my car buffed out so we don't have to go through her insurance company.  Totally sketchy, if you ask me.  I called the police anyway and the wound up giving her a ticket.  If she would have been nicer I might have dropped the whole thing, but she kinda deserved it.  My day at work was uneventful but busy, and I wound up not being able to leave early as I'd originally hoped.  When I got home, Pete wasn't home yet so I took care of Bella and relaxed for a few minutes.  Pete finally arrived bearing cupcakes from Gigi's, a 6 pack of craft beers from Total Wine and a bouquet of flowers, just because he knew I'd had a rough day with the accident.  He's such a good boy!

Saturday
My parents came to visit us on Saturday.  H and I got up in the morning and cleaned up the house a little (to make my mother happy, she has cleanliness standards that are far above those of normal, sane people), then my parents got there and we went to Miguel's for lunch.  After lunch, we came home, I helped my mom set up her new iPhone, made a quick trip to Home Depot and I started a project with my dad.  He helped me re-caulk my master bathroom shower and sink.  I'd show you pictures, but pictures of a caulked bathtub/shower are just totally unexciting.  I'll spare you the yawns.  My dad's SO good at things like caulking, and I just needed his expertise.  Pete and I are NOT experts at the DIY stuff yet, but hopefully we'll get better with practice.  My parents left around dinner time, then Pete and I had pizza, took Bella on a lengthy walk and offered her much-needed couch time.  I really loved spending a night in with my sweetie and puppy.  It's one of the best things about married life!
Sunday
Pete and I slept in, then made a big, delicious breakfast.   We puttered around the house for awhile (I worked on clipping and organizing my coupons, he worked on setting up his new Twitter account), then we went grocery shopping.  At dinner time, we went to Ybor City and had dinner at the Blue Dog Bistro.  It was actually pretty good!  We split an order of pulled pork nachos (definitely a cheat) and I had the steak salad.  We then took a walk down to The Ritz and saw an indie band, August Burns Red, play a really great show.  They're actually a heavy metal band (Hubby really likes them), but I really like seeing them too, despite the fact that their music is not my normal fare of choice (I typically prefer Dave Matthews Band, pop, rock, and some hip hop).  We got free tickets in the VIP balcony, which was a GREAT way to see a show at The Ritz.  We had a bird's eye view and we could really see just how packed the show was.  They actually had a great turn-out for an indie band, and the people-watching was spectacular!  A lot of these newer heavy metal bands have this sort of emo, Hot Topic fan base which is completely unlike what you see at more traditional heavy metal shows.  I only started going to these shows when I met Pete, but it's been a very entertaining experience, to say the least.  Overall, we had a wonderful little date night that didn't end up costing us very much.
Here are a few pictures from the show:


Monday
Today it was back to work as usual, and I had a rough day.  One of my nemeses at work is back at it again, and I just hate his attitude.  I think there's a typical rub between certain senior executives and their HR people, but my bosses think I should try to fix this.  I shall work on it, but for the record, I don't feel like it.  Hmph.  The high point in my day came at 2:15, when one of the executives I work for called a quick meeting.  It turned out to be a birthday party for me and one of the senior leaders who works for her!  They got me a cake and all sorts of goodies.  I feel blessed that they consider me part of their team.  My own boss and coworkers didn't even do anything for my birthday this year.


They gave me a lily, a bottle of red wine and an AMC gift card!  They're such sweet people.

I came home and made a delicious dinner and downed a couple (maybe 3?) glasses of vino, so I'm feeling much better now!
I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Sister, The Enabler

For Christmas, my wonderful sister bought me a fantastic present:  a Birchbox subscription!  For those who don't know, Birchbox is a service that sends you a box of premium product samples each month, and you subscribe to the service sort of like a magazine.  It's 10 bucks a month, and it's exactly the kind of frivolous thing I've been wanting for so long, but just haven't felt right about buying for myself.  I was ridiculously excited to get this subscription for Christmas!

What's also important to note here is that I sort of have a sample problem,and my sister just became a full-fledged enabler.  Well, samples and trial sizes... products in miniature, essentially.  I love, love, love to try products before I buy them, and I feel like trying new products makes me a smarter consumer because I'm informed about what I like and don't like, and what I need and don't need.  I also used to work at a Bath and Body Works flagship store, which sold a great variety of high-end skincare and body products in addition to the normal BBW fare, and the brand reps would always shower us with a ridiculous number of samples and trial sizes so we could provide testimonials.  This has resulted in me amassing a huge number of product samples.  The last thing I need is more samples... but I just can't help myself with Birchbox.  It's like it was made for me.

Here's my latest Birchbox delivery...


It was actually a pretty good variety of samples.  I got the following little treats:
  • Befine Night Cream
  • Juicy Couture Fragrance
  • VMV Hypoallergenics Re-Everything Eye Serum
  • Zoya Nailpolish in Megan
  • Larabar

The eye cream is actually in the little pump bottle, and it's a very generously sized sample.  It will last a long time and give me a great idea of how it works when used regularly.  The nailpolish is actually a grayish lavender color, which looks really cute for winter.  I'm not usually a huge fan of night creams because they tend to get greasy (and I have an oil slick on my face when I wake up in the morning), but I'll give this one a try.  It could pleasantly surprise me.

I admit that when I see other peoples' Birchboxes, I get a little jealous.  There are a number of different sample sets that are sent out, so I may not get the same samples as a friend of mine who also subscribes.  It's great to see what everyone's getting, but when they get cool samples you wish you got, it can lead to a little sample envy.  It's all in good fun, though.

Tonight, for giggles, I got out my stash of samples, and it confirmed for me that I have way too many of these.  I think it's time to clean out or give away the samples I'm not positive that I'll use.  I'm sure there are needy beauty-philes somewhere that would be stoked to have them.

Those are two big, beautiful baskets full of fun.  I have all of my samples sorted by type, in plastic bags marked with the type, like "Body Cream and Body Butter" or "Toner".  It makes searching for something specific so much easier.

Does anyone else get really excited about product samples?  Please tell me I'm not alone!

Monday, January 16, 2012

MLK Weekend Update

We're closing in on the end of Monday night, and it's time to reflect on this wonderful extended weekend.  I got today off from work as a holiday, so having a 3 day weekend this quickly after the holidays is always welcome.

Overall, this weekend has been both incredibly productive and incredibly relaxing (my hubby tends to disagree about the relaxing part).  Here's the rundown of how we spent this fabulous weekend...
  • When I got home from work on Friday, I had a package waiting for me.  It was a new set of stainless steel measuring cups!  (Remember when I said that little things make me SO happy? Well this is one of those little things.)  I sent OXO an email because the size labels on my stainless measuring cups were wearing off and are now illegible.  OXO told me they were sending me a new set, and here they are, in all of their glory.
Old Cups

Brand Spankin' New Cups!

  • On Friday night, we went to Mr. Dunderbak's in New Tampa to celebrate Jess's 30th birthday.  It was great to see her, Steve, Joe and Megan again, and it was such a joyous occasion.  I also really appreciated Jess picking a place that didn't involve dressing up, because I'd had a rough week and just didn't feel like getting gussied up that night.  Here are a few pics from the evening:
Jess, drinking a "Santa Clause" beer (a heavy Christmas seasonal) that had over 14% alcohol.  It tasted like straight liquor.  Weeeee, happy birthday!

Weyerbacher Tango, a dark double belgian--that one was mine.

Me and Pete, glad to be indoors on a chilly night and celebrating the birthday of one of our dearest friends.
  • On Saturday, I slept in (totally heavenly) and Pete came home from work around 1:30.  We ran up to the mall so I could return some online purchases that I didn't care for, I got my free massage oil from Aveda (it can also be used as an after-bath moisturizer, apparently), and we went to Best Buy to pick up Pete's laptop from the Geek Squad.  We also stopped at Total Wine to pick up a few goodies to enjoy this weekend.  We heart that place.
  • We came home and set up our new filing cabinet.  We then worked on filing a HUGE stack of unopened mail from Pete's dresser, which was fabulous!  Now the chest in our bedroom doesn't look like it has a stack of trash sitting on top of it.  We also did some other filing and sorting, and shredded lots of old paperwork and receipts.  We took at least full 3 bags of trash out of that room--it looks unbelievable!  I find these experiences to be completely liberating.  Talk about a sigh of relief.
  • On Sunday, I picked my parents up from the cruise port.  They went on a week-long Western Carribean cruise with two of my uncles, and when I saw them, all they did was complain about Carnival being crappier than other cruise lines.  Whatever.  Picky, picky.
  • Pete and I went to pick up sandwiches from Firehouse Subs for lunch, and they had this big piece of amaziness for me to play with:
It's a Coca-Cola Freestyle!  It's a touch-screen soda machine that has hundreds of soda options.  I got a plain ol' Fanta Orange Zero, but next time I'm getting a strawberry Sprite.
  • In the afternoon, Pete and I got busy working around the house again.  This time Pete attacked his dresser and closet, and I went back to work on the guest bedroom.  We also worked on cleaning out this box that's been sitting in the guest room since Pete moved in a year and a half ago.  I thought that box would never be cleaned out!  We filed stuff, threw stuff out and organized whatever was left. 
  • On Monday, I slept in LATE (way later than I'd prefer to admit), and Pete and I worked on organizing several bookshelves and cabinets in our living room.  I then ran to the grocery store and came home to make a recipe I've been meaning to make for a long, long time:  Pete's little Italian grandmom's Sauce and Meatballs.  It turned out okay, but the meatballs didn't hold up.  We wound up with a meat sauce instead of sauce and meatballs.  I think I'm going to modify the recipe a little next time and make more sauce for them to swim around in.  Altering a little Italian grandmother's recipe is probably blasphemous, but I've got to if I expect this recipe to turn out like I know it should.
Now it's time for bed, and I have to admit that it's time to go back to work tomorrow.  It's been a great few days off, so I certainly can't complain.  Let's hope this turns out to be a good week!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Photography Woes

Pete and I were married in Michigan this past June, and we were fortunate to have chosen many wonderful vendors.  Our choices largely made our lives easier and delivered on their contracts.  We had a few snafus on our wedding day, but nothing that ruined the day or were even noticable to our guests.  Since the wedding, we've been struggling with our photographer on so many things and have been disappointed at so many turns.

Prior to the wedding we had engagement photos taken by this photographer, and while the pictures were nice, there were only 32 proofs.  To say I was shocked was an understatement.  I'd never heard of a photographer giving less than 50 engagement photo proofs, and in most cases, people receive many more than that.  I addressed this with the photographer, and she blew me off, saying that was just what she does.  I wasn't happy about this and contemplated choosing a new photographer, but after conferring with Pete, we decided to stick by the photographer and do a better job of setting our expectations with them. 

We did this, and they seemed great about it.  On the day of the wedding, things seemed to go smoothly, but looking back on it, we should have made certain that they taking more pictures of certain things.  We were so wrapped up in the day that we had to count on the photographer getting all of the shots they needed and we wanted.  They said they were, and we trusted them.

After the wedding, they were late delivering our proofs to us, and a number of shots were noticably absent.  This was addressed, and the photographer sent us more proofs of these shots, but they were unable to find some of the pictures we thought they captured.  We only got one picture of the entire wedding party together, we had hardly any pictures of just Pete and I together where you could see our faces (many shots were of us walking away from the camera)... the list goes on and on.  This was all disappointing, but we couldn't do anything about it.  We can't relive our wedding day.

Their proofing website was really hard to manage because it was antiquated and clunky.  We tried to overlook that, but it made the entire process of choosing digital images, prints and album photos take much longer than necessary.  We got our proofs, prints and digital images in a timely manner, which made us very happy.  We were promised that we'd receive the proofs of our crazy-expensive album within 2 months.  We felt that this was a very long time, but we decided to be patient. Our album proofs were due in mid-December.

When my album proofs were several weeks late, I contacted the photographer and she once again blew me off, telling me that she wouldn't get to it for at least another month.  Frustrated, I asked her for a more specific time frame, and she came back to me with March 15.  That's more than 2 months from now!  I've been through a full range of emotions over the whole thing, because now it looks like I won't see my finished album until after my first anniversary.  It's completely ridiculous. 

When I expressed my frustrations to the photographer, she became defensive and rude, basically acting like I was ungrateful for all that she's done to go "above and beyond" for us.  The "above and beyond" things she mentioned were very minor, and I refuse to give her or her husband a cookie for holding a towel on our wedding day.  She even blamed the harsh summer weather as the reason why they were behind on their photo editing.  Yeah, right!  Weather.  I wasn't born yesterday, lady.  Eventually, after a series of emails, she FINALLY admitted that they are just incredibly behind on their workload, and that they are just so overwhelmed that they are suffering financially and having to turn away business.  I just wanted her to 'fess up to being behind and admit that they were wrong for setting an expectation they couldn't be certain they'd fulfill.  So now I get to play the waiting game.  I'm not happy about it, but I don't want to bitch more and make the situation worse.  They know they've messed up, so I needn't continue to point it out to them.

Anyway, the whole situation has been crazy-stressful for me.  I worked SO hard to choose great vendors, and it pains me to go through such a mess after all of the research I did and careful consideration I took to make decisions.  Live and learn, I guess.  I seriously hope this album will be worth the wait!

Monday, January 9, 2012

PSA: Neat Cocktails

Have you ever met someone who takes their drinks "neat"?  If you haven't, it's quite an experience, not because of what it is, but rather what types of people actually have their drinks this way.  Having your drink "neat" refers to straight liquor, unchilled (that's right, room temperature), with no ice or other mixers.  Just a glass of liquor straight from the bottle.  Usually this liquor is whiskey, but I suppose it could refer to any other type of liquor.  But most "neat" drinkers have a their perference, and usually it's Johnny Walker (pick your color label) or Glenlivet somthing-or-other.

Not many people can take a drink "neat".  I certainly can't, but then again, I'm a bit of a pansy when it comes to my cocktails.  The only "neat" drinkers I've encountered have been men, and they're quite an interesting sort.  In my experience, "neat" drinkers are gambling addicts, have no relationships with their families, and live in filthy apartments.  These are not stand-up guys.  I'm not usually one to judge, but when it comes to taking a drink "neat", I kinda do.  I just associate the drink with a smarmy booze-hound who won't take no for an answer.

I could be proven wrong about "neat" drinkers, and I hope that I am someday.  I'd hate to spend a lifetime judging people based on their cocktail preferences, but for now it's just too easy to do.  "Neat" drinkers are easy targets.  They're the sort, though, who are unapologetic for taking their drink in it's truest, unadulterated form.  They're still not the kind of guys you should introduce to your best single girlfriend or ask to babysit your dog when you go out of town.  The dog would end up drinking beer out of a coffee can.

So, if you encounter a guy who takes his drinks "neat", just call him an alkie and run the other way.  That's my PSA for the day.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

New Year, New Goals

I'm now about a week into 2012, and I've had a few days to think about the year ahead.  This year is pretty much a blank slate for me.  I have nothing definitively planned, it leaves me wondering what the hell this year's really going to look like.  The last two years have been huge years for me, with getting engaged, getting married, going on a great honeymoon and watching my twin sister get married, and I can only hope the excitement keeps on going. 

I'm not one to make resolutions, because then I feel like a failure if I don't make good on it.  Instead, I've chosen to set goals for myself; things that I certainly want to accomplish and will make a good effort at, but I won't beat myself up constantly if I haven't met the goal by the end of the year.  When thinking about my goals, I was overwhelmed by the "what ifs" and seemingly endless list of to-do's.  When I get overwhelmed, I become paralyzed by the volumes of things to do and I end up doing nothing.  And it shows.  I want this year to be different.  I want to make headway on several important things that I know will set Pete and I up for a great life ahead.  Here are my goals for 2012...

Start
  • The standards--eating healthier and exercising more.  Weight loss will inevitably come if I can accomplish these things.
  • Organizing my casa.  This needs to happen, stat.  I need to clear out clutter and improve my home in the ways that will make me the most proud.
  • Be a better Mom to Bella.  She deserves more long walks, more love and more snuggles.  I want her older years to be her best years.
  • Make new friends.  I'm not talking about replacing my existing friends (duh, of course not, they're amazing!), just expand my group of friends and build more professional connections.
  • Work on improving brevity and restraint with details.  I am a storyteller by nature, and I want to tell someone EVERYTHING about a story.  I want to be a better editor of my thoughts.
  • Reading more.  There are so many books I'd like to read, so I need to revive the concept of leisure reading and do it more.
  • Save more money.  Yup, we're really gonna do it this year.

Stop
  • Being so nice to everyone, even people who totally don't deserve it.  I can still be polite without being passive, and I can get my thoughts across in a way that seems informed and credible.
  • Thinking about the woulda, shoulda, couldas.  This is just destructive thinking altogether.  I want to move foward with my life and not dwell on what might have been.  My focus will be on making the future the best possible one for our family.
  • Saving stuff "just because".  I will only be keeping things I need or feel strongly about.  I'm not a packrat, so my house should reflect that.
  • Deferring work on my home.  My home deserves better.  I just need to stop being lazy about doing the hard stuff.  This means painting, caulking and all sorts of elbow grease.
  •  
    Continue
  • My work toward not being a doormat.  I've been making some good headway, but I want to keep it going into the new year.  I'm not a pushover and I shouldn't give people the impression that I am by being so agreeable to everything. 
  • Supporting my family.  I want to be a great wife, daughter, sister and daughter-in-law.
  • Cutting back on the swearing.  I've been trying to do this since  last year, and I'm getting better.  I swear for emphasis, not because I don't know any better words to use, but this doesn't make my cursing right.  I'm learning to use the awesome vocabulary all those years of education afforded me.
  • Working on my blog.  It's a work in progress and I'm getting there.  I want to focus on having fun with it and documenting the wonderful things I experience in life.


This list gives me so much to look forward to.  I have a feeling it's going to be a stupendous year!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Ringing in the New Year

This year, Pete and I were home in Tampa for a change, so we joined our friends for New Year's Eve.  I had a lot of fun... too much fun (my exhaustion the next day proved it)... but it was totally worth it!  I was so glad to have a great and relatively low-key NYE. 

Since it was warm in Tampa on New Year's Eve, we were able to enjoy a nice indoor/outdoor party thrown by our friends Jess and Steve.  In addition to the volumes of food Jess and Steve prepared, I brought some homemade Chex mix, buffalo chicken dip, a case of Magic Hat #9 and the food necessary to make the best outdoor dessert ever--s'mores!  Yes, Jess and Steve had their fire pit going in the backyard, so I we were able to roast marshmallows and make the fresh, gooey, delicious s'mores.  They were just like how I remembered them from my past camping experiences, and they were a hit with everyone at the party!  I'm so glad I thought of that! Here's the fire that kept us warm in the 65 degree evening weather:

We set off fireworks in the street in front of the house at 11:30 and they were those huge impressive fireworks that shoot off the ground and explode way up in the sky.  They were the kind that are illegal to buy in Michigan, so I felt like a bit of a rebel even being near them.  Here are Jess, Tracy and I as we enjoy some frosty beverages and watch the skies light up:

Here are the boys lighting the fireworks.  I'm far too much of a chicken to ever do this, so I stand way, way back and hope no one loses a hand.

Here we are at Midnight, enjoying some cheap champagne.  For me, even cheap champagne is good champagne.  This girl's not a champagne snob.  And yes, drinking directly from the bottle was completely and utterly necessary.

My kiss at midnight was a fan-fricken-tastic one.  I love making out with my hubby!

This party also had games of beer pong and beanbags, both lit by lanterns.  I'm proud to say that Jess and I won a game of beer pong against Tracy and Jess's cousin's boyfriend!  We played VERY well, and I'm sure being tipsy was the key to our success.  Lord knows it wasn't skill.


Here's a picture of us doing our happy beer pong dance that followed our striking victory:

Yes, I'm wearing a silly Happy New Year headband and Happy New Year mardi-gras style beads.  In Tampa, it's all about the beads.  We stayed overnight at Jess and Steve's, and we woke up to a great breakfast from Jess.  She's a talented hostess and always makes us feel so welcome.  I was DRAGGING the next day, but it was all for good reason.

That wonderfully happy night filled with friends makes me realize what a great life I have here in Tampa, and it makes me look forward to the wonderful things that 2012 has in store for Pete and I.  Happy New Year!

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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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