Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday Lovin' and a Giveaway Review

It's Tuesday in the big city, folks, and I'm thrilled to be thinking about my weekend ahead.  You know that 80's song by Loverboy, "Workin' for the Weekend"?  Yup, that's me!  Lately anyway.  I've got some fun things planned, but I'm mostly just looking for a mental vacay.

Let's get back to today.  My amazing hubby surprised me by bringing home cupcakes from Gigi's Cupcakes in South Tampa, and while they are definitely NOT on my diet, they were SO good.  We tried the coffee bean chocolate and strawberry shortcake flavors.  We typically buy one cupcake of each, then cut them in half so we can each try both flavors.  The strawberry shortcake was my favorite and satisfied my recent sweet tooth.  I would have taken a picture of these little delights (because the amount of frosting on them left me awestruck), but we ate them too quickly!

And now for something fun... a product review!

A few months ago, I was the lucky winner of a Dove haircare giveaway from Krystal at Krystal's Kitsch, and I finally got around to trying all of the products.  Now it's time for my review!

This is the full line of Dove Nourishing Oil Care products.
From L to R:  Leave In Smoothing Cream, Anti-Frizz Serum, Daily Treatment Conditioner, Regular Conditioner and Shampoo.

These products are intended to smooth frizz and boost shine in your hair using almond and Argan oils, which are known for their nutritive properties.  What attracted me to these products is that I have a strong need for anything that can make my hair smooth.  I have crazy fly-aways because my hair tends to break easily, and the underside of my hair (the hair at the base of my neck) is really frizzy.  That hair is a completely different texture than the rest of my hair, and I've even thought about having it chemically relaxed.  Yeah, it's really kinky and gross, and I try to hide it whenever possible.

What I Loved:
I started out by just using the shampoo and regular conditioner, and those alone REALLY smoothed my fly-aways!  I was shocked that a shampoo/conditioner combo could tame all of those little hairs so well without the addition of a styling product.  I've long been looking for a shampoo and conditioner that could do that, and the only other set I've found that did that was Frederik Fekkai Glossing Shampoo and Conditioner.  The problem is that stuff is $35 per bottle, so they're not exactly everyday products for me.  Pete would kill me if I spent that much on shampoo and conditioner all the time!  So, I was super excited that Dove did such a great job of smoothing the top part of my hair and it's extremely affordable.  Bye-bye fly-aways!

I also really liked the leave-in treatment too, because it really tamed those freaky underside hairs that cause me so much heartburn.  That + a flat iron + a tiny dab of the anti-frizz serum = perfection! 

What I Didn't Love:
While the shampoo and conditioner did a good job of smoothing, I found that my hair felt really oily by day two.  I pretty much had to wash my hair every day, not every other day like I had done sometimes before, just to keep it from feeling like an oil slick.  Great results on day one, not so great results on day two.

I also tried the shampoo in combination with the Daily Treatment Conditioner, and I don't recommend it.  The Daily Treatment Conditioner was a heavier version of the regular conditioner (as if that was even necessary!) with even more of those lovely oils, and it was total overkill on my hair.  The conditioner was quite thick and dense, and it didn't smooth over my wet hair very well.  I prefer a silkier conditioner, of medium thickness but not goopy.  While it left my hair soft, my hair just felt weighed down, and it leaned toward looking lifeless.  Definitely NOT the look you want for your hair!  So, it was not a surprise to me when I saw it last week in Target on clearance due to being discontinued.

Overall Assessment:
I will absolutely buy the shampoo and regular conditioner in the future.  It does the job of the expensive stuff for a fraction of the cost, so what's not to like?!  I highly recommend these products if you have frizzy hair or significant fly-away issues, like moi. 

I am really a big believer in beauty products and love trying new things.  When I used to work at Bath and Body Works, my manager used to tell me that I was a 'product whore'.  I wasn't sure if that was a compliment or not, but I think it was to her.  It kinda made me feel dirty...  Anyway, I used a lot of that stuff, so I was great at providing personal testimonials.   Even though I haven't worked there in years, my love for products has continued.  I'll be posting more product reviews in the future, as I discover new things. 

Ciao girls!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Simply Refreshing

You know what's weird about short holiday weeks?  They are ALWAYS the hardest!  It seems like we cram 5 days worth of work and headaches into 4 days.  Not fun. 

Things at work have been extraordinarily stressful lately, and I've been feeling somewhat... heavy hearted.  I really care about my work and find myself personally invested in the people I work with and their stories.  Over the years, I have gotten better about separating myself emotionally from the company's employees and my coworkers, but I am still not completely there.  I see things happening around me at work, and I can't help but take it in, feeling the emotions that others are feeling and simply wishing I could jump in and fix everything.  But I really can't do that, and I know it.

What I needed was to lighten up my week.  I needed to smile and laugh and not think about the stress and chaos for awhile.  Pete makes me smile and laugh daily (which is why I can't wait to come home to see him everyday), but I just needed more.  So when the opportunity came up to have dinner with two of my best girlfriends, I JUMPED (almost out of my seat) at the chance.  I really needed good, old fashioned, gossipy, giggly, girl time!

I met up with Tracy and Katherine tonight at a little mom and pop Italian restaurant called Montauro in West Tampa.  Tracy thought that since it is in the heart of West Tampa, neither Katherine or I would have been there.  She was right.  I tend to avoid West Tampa because everyone there speaks Spanish (so much so that it's like being in another country) and I don't... so I just feel out of place.

After going to Montauro, I'll definitely be returning to West Tampa.  Montauro is a teeny tiny restaurant run by an elderly Italian man and his wife that are right off the boat from the old country.  They speak very little English, but they are the nicest people ever.  They came out several times to check on us and make sure everything was great.  The two servers didn't seem to speak much English either, but they were also incredibly sweet and helpful. 

The menu at Montauro only has 7 items on it.  All items come with a salad and a veal cutlet.  Yes, you read that right.  Your salad comes with a HUGE fried veal cutlet on it, taking up half the plate.
See Exhibit 1...
Holy unhealthiness!

Below is our decimated bread basket.  There were 3 hungry, carb-craving girls at the table, so it's to be expected.
Don't you love the napkin lining the bread basket?  It looks like you're having dinner in someone's home kitchen!

I ordered the stuffed shells, and I left completely stuffed (just as the name suggests).  Here's my plate, after the devouring was done...
Yum yum!

Our  meal was very reasonably priced, so Tracy and I split a cannoli (not on the menu, but it's available if you ask) and it was the bomb.com!  I highly recommend it.  I didn't get a picture of it because it disappeared from our plate so quickly.  Oops. :)  I thought I was stuffed before that but afterward I was DONE.  Like, put a fork in me.

Tracy, Katherine and I had a great conversation and it's clear that I miss them.  There was a lot of talking, fast and furious, and it was just what I needed as a refresher to this crazy week.  I'll definitely have to make more time to hang out with the girls.  Katherine is moving to Japan to be with her military hubby in a few weeks, so my time is dwindling!  We were talking about making some time to visit the Strawberry Festival in a couple of weeks, so that would be fun if we could make it happen.

I hope you're having a fantabulous week!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Just What The Doctor Ordered

Dear George Washington,

Thank you so very much for being our first President.  Your service to the country will always be remembered.  Thank you also for being born, because now we get to observe your birthday with a day off from work.  YAY!  Of course we're thinking about you and celebrating all of your good deeds... of course we are.  All day long.  Sure. 

Lots of respect and kindness,


As you can see, it's Presidents Day and I'm not working today.  Big ups to company paid holidays!   This weekend has turned out to be a pretty good one, even though I admittedly haven't been productive enough.  Relaxing and enjoying time off is a good thing, though, or at least that's what my husband tells me.  After all of the stress and uncertainty at work lately, a three-day weekend was just what the doctor ordered.

On Friday night, the hubs and I went to dinner at Macaroni Grill, where we feasted on copious amounts of rosemary bread and pasta.  Not good for our diets, but delish nonetheless.  And we had a gift card to use, which also helped us make the decision to dine there.  We came home and couched it with the puppy all night.  She looked so sweet and cute after getting her haircut that I couldn't resist doting on her.
Hi Mom!
Aren't I cute and well-behaved? 
What does a girl have to do to get a baby carrot around here?

Yes, my dog eats baby carrots as treats.  She loves them and they're healthy, so I keep giving them to her.  They're super cheap too, and the carrots are good for her eyesight. 

On Saturday, Pete went to work at the station and I slept in again.  I am going to sleep in at every chance I get because someday when we have kids, the party's gonna be over.  After Pete got home, we took his car in for service, and we hit Stadium Green Iguana for a late lunch.  I like Green Iguana, but don't go there very often.  We then took a trip to Target, where Pete had a meltdown in the parking garage while trying to install my new windshield wiper.  He was having trouble putting it on the car, when he went into a fit and tore the windshield wiper package to bits while trying to get to the instruction booklet.  There were pieces of plastic and cardboard all over the place.  I double over in laughter everytime I think about it.  Poor guy, he just got really frustrated.

In the evening, I went to see Yonder Mountain String Band with my friend Jess at Jannus Live in St. Pete.  I'd never heard their music before, but they have a huge following (the place was jam packed) and they were obviously very talented musicians.  Everyone was bouncing up and down to their infectious music.  I just struggled to see around the people in front of me!  We were also sweating so we cut out half-way through the encore.  Here a few pictures from the show...

Thank you iPhone camera, for being crappy and unclear despite your hefty pricetag.
Thank you guys who are copping my style by taking a cell phone pcture right in front of me, for ruining my almost-clear shot.  Hmph.

Jess and I, sweating in February.

On Sunday, we had planned on going to the State Fair with some friends, but wound up not going afterall because the weather man and the Weather Channel app both said it was going to thunderstorm on and off all day.  Wellllll, it never did thunderstorm, so I was sort of disappointed that we stayed home all day when we could have been downing corndogs and getting quesy on the Tilt-A-Whirl.  Total bummer.  If I wasn't going to the Fair, would have rather gone outlet shopping with my other girlfriends.  {sigh}  Missed opportunities abound.

On Sunday night, I went to with Pete to Prime Time Sports Grill in Carrollwood so we could meet with his friends and watch the wrestling pay-per-view.  I'm always glad that Jess is there to keep me company.  We normally compare iPhone apps and gossip.  It makes the experience more enjoyable because I don't really know much about the wrestling.

Today, Pete and I just ran errands and hung out at home.  Tonight I'm doing our taxes.  It's just fun overload, right???  Well, it's actually been good for me to take it easy.  We're heading back to work tomorrow and I'm reeeeaaallly not ready.  The weekends are never long enough, are they?  Even the long ones... Oh well, I'll make the best of this work week with a slightly more rejuvenated sense about me.  Thank you Presidents Day!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Sweet Valentine

Yesterday was the lovey-doviest day of the year, Valentine's Day, and as much as I hate to admit it, I look forward to the day every year.  I enjoy the having a day to go overboard on the cute heart-shaped goodies and mushy greetings cards for the man I love.  I know, I know, I don't need a special day to tell my man that I love him.  He hears it every day.  I just love holidays and find Valentine's Day to be a particularly fun one.

For the past 4 years, I've had a wonderful Valentine who is now my husband.  Since this is our first married Valentine's Day, I wanted to do something nice but not go overboard.  We agreed not to get each other real gifts, but I decided to buy him a slew of Reese's candies (I know what revs my man's engine) and make him a cute '52 Things I Love About You' book that I found on Pinterest (have I mentioned that I LOVE Pinterest?!). 

Here's the little book that I made with my rudimentary crafting skills...

My favorite thing I love...#24
I really do love his furry Hobbit feet!

When I woke up on V-Day morning and got ready for work, I was greeted by this sweet little display on the kitchen counter...
Yup, Winnie the Pooh Valentines with a little box of chocolates and an extremely funny card. 
So cute.

And I found this in my car...
More happy little Winnie the Pooh cards intended to make my morning brighter.  It totally worked.

At work, I got some beautiful roses...

I came home and exchanged gifts with Pete.  He also gave me candy, as well as a little bear and another more serious card that made me get a little misty.  We then went out to The Melting Pot for a great fondue dinner.  I think 'fondue' means 'overpriced' in Switzerland, but it was pretty tasty and I'm sure NOT on my diet.

We splurged on dinner, but since it was our first married Valentine's Day, I figured it would be worth it.  I think we'll probably spend more Valentine's Days at home in the future, but it's fun to go out for now while we're newlyweds and kid-free.

I was sitting with my hubby the other night and we were being silly and romantic with each other.  I said "I think if people could see us, they'd be grossed out by how cutesy we are with each other."  He said, "Probably." And I said, "But I don't care, because it took me a long time to find a love like this."  That's how I feel.  Lucky.

I hope you all had a lovely Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Why, Helllooooo!

Today I'm joining in one of the lovely Neely's awesome link ups, this time to introduce new people to my blog.  Neely has a great blog, A Complete Waste of Makeup that is a daily read for me. 

I absolutely love the idea of introducing new people to my sweet little blog, and I'm a "the more the merrier" kind of person.  Please, if you like what you read, follow me and share in the fun!

Hi!  I'm Kari.

My blog is all about documenting the fun and enjoyment of each and every day here in sunny Florida fro the perspective of a Northerner.  I find my happiest experiences are with the simple things that make life perfectly imperfect.  I want to share my life with my readers, but also share special things that I encounter.  Sometimes they're recipes (like my buffalo chicken nachos below) and other times they're product reviews or stories about my day-to-day life.  I've met some wonderful people through blogging and I look forward to many more happy friendships to come. 

Here are a few fun facts about me...


I got married last June.  Married life is a spectacular thing I've done thus far in my life.
I married a phenomenal guy who keeps me in stitches and surprises me daily.  Yay for love!

I work very hard in Corporate Human Resources and look for fun outlets every day. 
I'm not one of those bitchy HR ladies, nor am I like Toby Flenderson, thank you very much!

I have a precious 11 year old Miniature Schnauzer named Bella.  I'm totally a dog person.

I am one of the biggest Dave Matthews Band fans you'll ever meet. 
I LOVE going to see their shows live, and I've racked up 15 shows so far.

I live off Diet Coke.  I would need a 12 step program to stop drinking it.

I have a serious love for Reality TV.  I could go on for ages about which shows I like best. 
Here's a picture of me with Grant from the SyFy reality show Ghost Hunters, one of my favorites.

I'm a twin, and we do all kinds of crazy twinny things like accidentally dress alike.  She's rocks!

I've committed to reading more books this year and started with Mindy Kaling's book.
I laughed my butt off.

I've comitted to eating healthier, but haven't really gotten around to it yet.  It's on the to-do list.

I love being girly, I really, really do! 
My collection of skincare products and make-up is quite impressive.

I am a HUGE sports fan.  Football, hockey, baseball... all awesome!

Peppermint mochas call my name, beckoning me to Starbucks.  Seriously.


There you have it!   Please join me for a really fun ride.  I know you won't be disappointed!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Dinner Triumph - Buffalo Chicken Nachos

Every once in awhile, Pete and I come up with a dinner idea that's incredibly quick and easy, but so delicious that we can barely contain our excitement.  The other day we were talking about making the BBQ chicken nachos from Plain Chicken, but I realized I had some shredded chicken sitting in the fridge calling our names.  Pete suggested we do something with Buffalo Chicken.  Buffalo Chicken Nachos were born, and they tasted even better than we imagined.

Here's what you need to get started...

1 bag of tortilla chips (I used Tostitos Restaurant Style)
1 8 oz bag of shredded cheddar cheese (a little more if you enjoy it gooey)
1 lb of boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 cup of blue cheese crumbles (I used reduced fat)
1/2 cup of Franks Red Hot Wings sauce (more if you like it extra saucy)
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Sour cream (I used reduced fat)

Start by tossing your shredded chicken with the Franks Wing sauce. 

On a jellyroll pan lined with Reynolds non-stick foil, place tortilla chips in a single later and sprinkle chips with 3/4 - 1 cup of cheddar cheese.

Using tongs, spread shredded chicken coated in wing sauce evenly over the tortilla chips.

Sprinkle with blue cheese crumbles.  Don't be shy.

Cover the entire thing with remaining cheddar cheese.

Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.

Here's the finished product.  We also sprinkled sliced green onions over the nachos after they came out of the oven and dipped the nachos in a little reduced fat sour cream.

Simple but delicious.  Totally sinful.

I hope you can try them too!

Weekend Recap

It's getting late on Sunday, and I'm having a nice time reflecting on the weekend.  It was actually pretty great.  Pete and I made a pact to NOT schedule anything for this weekend.  We just wanted time to be together, work around the house and chill out.  Life has been extraordinarily hectic and the idea of sleeping in and slowing this down sounded pretty amazing.

On Friday night, Pete worked and I had time to watch Who Do You Think You Are (one of my favorite series) and miscellany from the DVR (lets be honest, it was mostly old Office and New Girl episodes).  Pete also told me to have eaten lunch and be ready to go by 12:15 on Saturday.  Being inquisitive, I asked why.  I was shut down, and told that it was a surprise.  Okay...hmm... He knows this drives me crazy!

On Saturday I slept embarrassingly late, ate a quick lunch and the hubs finally told me what we were doing--going to a Valentine's Day wine tasting at a local winery.  YAY!  I loved the idea and I was so glad he thought of it.  The winery is Florida Orange Groves Winery, which makes all sorts of fruit wines (not just grape wines). 

We bought a bottle of their White Sangria in Key West over the summery and it was SO good!  The tasting was lovely, and we wound up picking up a couple of bottles to bring home.  After we got home, we worked for awhile around the house and I made a delicious dinner--Buffalo Chicken Nachos!  I'll give you the how-to in my next post.  We then watched Crazy, Stupid, Love on demand with a bowl of popcorn.  Such a great night in!

On Sunday, we again slept embarrassingly late (one reason I'm so glad we're kid-free right now), then woke up and ate some yummy strawberry muffins.  I told Pete that I needed time to work on a project for him for Valentine's Day.  It was just a little crafty project I'm doing for him since we're not giving big gifts this year, so Pete made himself scarce for a couple of hours.  I got my project done, Pete and I made a dinner out of some delish leftovers, and we made a trip out to Walmart and Target.  I don't know about how Target and Walmart are near you guys, but the ones near me have a starkly different clientele.  It's very cold out right now, and there were kids there wearing shorts and skimpy tank tops like it was 90 degrees outside, even with their parents standing next to them.  Ugh.  There was also a woman wearing hot pink slippers, shuffling down the aisles like she was sleepwalking.  Double ugh.  I was much happier in Target where people were appropriately clothed and lucid. 

Tonight I dedicated myself to the Grammys.  I'm LOVING Adele (though it's weird how she looks so much older than 23), the Foo Fighters, and Foster the People's Beach Boys cover.  Loved Taylor Swift, but her Dust-Belt-Circa-1920 dress had to go!!   We'll see how the rest of the show goes...

I hope all of you had a delightful weekend!!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Scenes From Our House: Pete's Characters

When I was single and looking for Mr. Right, I always knew I wanted a man who could make me laugh.  I like the funny Seth Rogan-esque type of guy, and I couldn't deal with having a man who didn't have humor as a primary part of his personality.  I'm blessed beyond belief to have been given this in spades.  I have a husband who makes me laugh every day.  Not just laugh, but giggle, snicker, belly laugh, and laugh so hard that no sound comes out.

One of the ways Pete makes me laugh is by doing characters.  More specifically, voices with made up personalities.  Pete's latest character invention is The Smarmy DJ.  The other night, The Smarmy DJ came out to play, and our conversation went something like this...

Smarmy DJ (SDJ):  Hi (said with a breathy, pseudo-seductive tone)
Me:  Hi there.
SDJ:  Do you come here often?
Me:  Yep, every night.
SDJ:  Oh really?  Do you like DJs?
Me:  Sure, are you a DJ?
SDJ:  Why yes, I am...
Me:  How do I know you're really a DJ?
SDJ:  Because I have a business card with 2 letters on it.
Me:  DJ?
SDJ:  Mmm, I love an intelligent woman.
Me:  How do I know you're really a DJ and not just some guy with a business card that reads "DJ"?
SDJ:  Because my business card has a hologram on it of me DJing.  It's like a Super Bowl ticket, but more exclusive.
(This is where I begin laughing so hard I almost roll off the bed.)

Totally absurd, but imagine it being said with the aforementioned breathy, sleazy voice and it's crazy-funny. 

Some of Pete's other voices run the gamut from adorable to scary, and they never cease to cause a reaction in me.  That boy is all personality and he's got real talent--talent for making me giggle and squeal like a little girl.

Have you ever had a significant other who made you laugh like this?  I certainly hope so!!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Fabulous Valentines Challenge - Days 7-9

I've been totally MIA this week because the hecticness (word? we'll say yes) of my life picked up in a huge way this week.  Work has been ridiculous, and the nights this week have been unbelievable.  Here's a rundown of my crazy week...
Monday - Came home, cleaned out the fridge, ran to Publix, dog got into the trash and we have no idea what she ate.
Tuesday - Grabbed subs at Publix, came home to see that the dog was sick all over the house (presumably from the trash digging on Monday night), hubby cleaned up a huge mess (he's officially the best hubby ever), dog seems fine so we went to the Tampa Bay Lightning vs. LA Kings hockey game, came home to see that our dog got sick all over the house again, cleaned up more, took dog to emergency vet, dog was admitted to the hospital for an overnight stay, got home at 1 am on a school night.
Wednesday - Pick dog up from vet, dog seems fine, go to Mike Doughty concert at the Orpheum, come home late, crash into bed like a sack of potatoes at midnight.
Thursday - Mistakenly sent text meant for Pete to another friend, worry to death that I've insulted her, turns out she's the most understanding friend known to mankind, and decompress for the rest of the night. (jumbo sigh of relief)

Soooooo... I'm going to catch up on my Fabulous Valentines Challenge topics that I missed this week, so get ready for me to rapid-fire...

Day 7 - Love Blogging
I have really grown to love blogging!  I know all bloggers say that, but it's totally true.  I decided to start a blog to document the great and interesting things that happen in my life.  I always got caught up in the day-to-day madness of life and found myself forgetting my blessings.  I thought I had a dull life that wasn't worth sharing, but putting fingers to keyboard has made me see that my life is SO much more than that.  Blogging has helped me to recognize that I have a brilliant life, one that I want to celebrate.

I am trying to find more time to dedicate to blogging, because there are so many things I want to share with everyone.  Things on this little blog are really going to develop in the months to come!

Day 8 - Love Myself
It's time for me to get a little vulnerable here.  It's taken me a long time to truly love myself, but I'm happy to report that today I really do.  My twenties were full of terrible insecurities and I found it hard to make lasting, loving friendships.  I started realizing in my late twenties that I just hadn't learned to embrace myself and be proud of what a great person I was.  Somewhere around the age of 28, things changed.  I became grateful for my life, grateful for my family and magically, I started to make wonderful friends.  I also met my now husband at 29 and we've been sickeningly happy together.  It's funny how that works. 

Some of the things I really love about myself are...
  • I'm a really good friend.  I take care of people, make the effort, keep in touch and do thoughtful things.  Being a good friend isn't rocket science, but it requires and element of selflessness that many people simply haven't mastered.
  • I'm compassionate and truly care about how people feel.
  • I give good advice.  People who have taken my advice have had wonderful things happen to them, and that makes me feel extremely proud and I smile from ear to ear. 
  • I have my own sense of style and I dress like me.  My style is not outlandish but is rather pretty simple, and I love it.
  • I love my hair.  My hair used to be god-awful--out of control, frizzy, etc.  Over the years it has calmed down (myseteriously, but I'm not complaining) and I actually really like my new hairstyle.
  • I'm not a dummy and tend to make smart decisions. 
Overall, it's really good to be me.  Yay!

Day 9 - I Love My Family
I have a really spectacular family, the kind of family that makes me feel like I hit the jackpot by being born into it.  I have two tremendously wonderful parents who are the most generous, loving people imaginable.  They've done SO much for me over the years and I could never begin to repay them for it all.  I never miss an opportunity to tell them how much I appreciate them because they rock.  Here's a picture of them from my wedding...

The other amazing member of my family is my twin sister, Kelly.  Kelly has been more than a sister, she's been a best friend who's been beside me my whole life.  She understands me in ways other people just don't, and I appreciate her support over the year.  Kelly can also be my worst enemy and she REALLY knows how to push my buttons when she wants to.  It's all part of that weirdo twin relationship.  We do lots of silly twin things like showing up places in the same outfit and cooking the same thing for dinner, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

And how could I talk about my family without talking about the newest member of my family, Pete?  Pete, aka Hubby Dearest, has been a terrific husband and is going to make a wonderful father someday.  Everyday, I see more reminders of what a great man I married.  I won't get too gushy, but I will say that the makes me happier than anyone else has ever made me.  And Pete deserves major props for doing all of the dirty work in cleaning up after our sick dog this week.  I owe him big time.

WHEW, I got through all of my Valentines Challenge posts.  Now I get to work on posting all of the fun stuff I've been saving up all week.  Stay tuned for more!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Fabulous Valentines Challenge - Day 6

I absolutely cannot believe that it's already 9:30 pm on Monday!  Where has this day gone???  Work was crazy busy, then I had to come home (in a driving rainstorm, no less), go grocery shopping, fix dinner and catch The Voice.  But you wanna know what I've been looking forward to all day?  Hopping on this li'l blog and writing a few posts!  I wasn't going to let today get away from me without posting something. 

Today is Day 6 of the Fabulous Valentine Blog Challenge hosted by Amber, Neely and Casey, and today's topic is... Love To Be Creative.  It's all about creative pursuits this time, whether it be with crafts, food, music, or art.

Growing up I was always into creative things.  I loved music, making up flag routines, writing and anything arts and crafts related.  I just loved making things and being proud of my handiwork. 

After college I had to set my creative interests aside for more pressing matters--work and grad school.  Corporate Human Resources and my MBA program crushed my spirit killed my creativity, particularly as it relates to writing.  Creativity has little place in these areas and to be blunt, is just not appreciated it in any way.  Creative arguments were valued, creative writing was not--I learned that pretty quickly.  I adapted because I wanted to be successful, but I found that if you don't use your skills, you lose them.  My creative writing skills have suffered (but I can write a kick-ass business report or EEOC rebuttal), but I still enjoy the process.  Blogging has helped me along my path to getting back to that place, but it's still a pretty bumpy road.

My wedding gave me a few wonderful opportunities to showcase some craft projects, my first in many years.  My favorite project was the hoodie with my new name in rhinestones on the back--totally tacky for a normal day but cute for a wedding!  It was super time-consuming, but not hard at all.  I just loved that it matched the other elements of my wedding with the Feel Script font I loved so much.

You can find instructions on how to make this hoodie here under DIY.  There are also instructions on how to make a card box, like the one below:

It wasn't perfect, but it did the job and matched the color scheme.  I actually had a lot of fun making these things and having a little something of my own out there at the wedding.

I have another DIY project that I've been dreaming up but haven't had a chance to put the time into yet.  I'm hoping to work on it this weekend, if I can find the time.

I hope you love to flex your creative muscles too!  What's your favorite DIY project?

Friday, February 3, 2012

I finally broke down...

...and created a Twitter account!  I know, I know, I'm WAY behind here.  I'm a late adopter to Twitter because I never thought I'd get anything out of it.  As the years go on, though, more and more people I know are using Twitter in really positive ways.  I finally said, 'Kari, join the 21st century and get.to.tweeting'.  (Yes, I really talk to myself like that.)  I've GOT to join in on the fun!! 

Find me on Twitter - @LaBellaVitaBlog

I'm still getting my footing with tweeting, but I'm picking it up quickly.  Let me know if you have a Twitter account and I'll follow you!

Fabulous Valentines Challenge - Day 5

TGIF ladies!  It's FRRRRRIDAY!!  It feels great to be out of work (doesn't it always??) and looking ahead to a really promising weekend. 

This weekend Hubby and I are going to visit my sister and brother-in-law in Orlando and we're staying at their new casa.  They've put a ton of work into it already, and there's so much left to do.  Most of the work is DIY, but they've hired a professional for a few of the bigger jobs.  They're documenting their progress on their blog, A Lovely Moody House.  If you're into home improvement and DIY, check it out!

To keep with this week's theme, I'm linking up for another episode of Fabulous Valentines Blog Challenge with Amber, Neely and Casey.  Today's topic is Love My Girlfriends.

I feel very fortunate to have such wonderful close friends.  These girls have been there for me over the years when I've needed them most, and I'm so blessed to know each and every one of them.  Hooray for awesome girlfriends!

Here are my two BFFs:  My mom and my twin sister, Kelly
I'm on the right, playing the dutiful bridesmaid in Kelly's July wedding.

I just love these girls!  Tracy, Kelly, Julie and Me. 
(This picture makes me look like I don't have a stitch of make-up on, but I totally do.  I swear.)

Tracy, Kelly, Me (of course), Jill and Jessie
The four most awesome bridesmaids a girl could ask for!

Me (pre-LASIK) and Stephenie

Kenny and I.
Kenny's just one of the girls!

Katherine and I

This Valentine's Day, I will definitely remember all of the great times I've had with these girls over the past 6 years.  They've had unbridled fun with me, consoled me, and listened when I've had things to get off my chest, and I've done the same for them.  That's what being great friends is all about.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Fabulous Valentines Blog Challenge - Day 4

OMG, it's Thursday!!!  And this means... tomorrow is Friday and the weekend is right around the corner!!!  Even though this week hasn't been terrible, I'm excited to get a day closer to the weekend--and it's going to be an amazing weekend!  I'm kind of over dealing with other peoples' problems this week, and I'm ready for some relaxation and fun.

As usual, I'm linking up for the Fabulous Valentine's Challenge because it's light-hearted and the lovey topics make me sort of giddy.  The gooey, girly side of me gets ga-ga over sappy romantic stuff.  Pete just rolls his eyes, as most men do. 

Today's topic is Love My Wedding.

This past summer was a huge wedding summer for me.  Pete and I became each others' ball-and-chain got married on June 4, a sweltering, muggy day in East Lansing, MI.  We really had an amazing time planning our wedding.  Check out my Wedding tab to see a few pictures, if you'd like! 

I hate to admit this, but I wasn't the kind of girl who dreamed about her wedding day from the time she was a little girl.  I think I never wanted to get my hopes up, just in case I was never proposed to.  I always said that I'd think about my wedding when the time came, and I'd decide then what I wanted along with my fiance.  So when I actually got engaged, I had a total 'oh sh*t' moment when I realized that I had NO clue of what I wanted out of a wedding.  I didn't know where to start and it never even seemed like a big deal until I was sporting the bling.   

Thankfully, I found some great online resources, The Knot message boards and GREAT vendors who offered me wonderful options.  Pete and I really had fun with wedding planning from beginning to end, and it's wasn't nearly as stressful as a lot of people told us it would be.  Pete and I were both incredibly relieved, because we didn't want to spend months arguing about stupid stuff like stemware and head tables vs. sweetheart tables.  Thankfully, we were in sync on most things, except music.  That was our biggest source of wedding-related dischord.  We both wanted great music, and we're both passionate about music... so we had a few disagreements about our selections.  But much like the rest of our relationship, we worked things out, made some compromises and felt really happy with where we ended up.  We had the time of our lives and realized that our wedding was totally us.

On my wedding day, I remember looking at Pete (who was sweating profusely at the time in our barely-airconditioned chapel) and knowing deep down in my heart that he was the perfect man for me.  Everything felt so natural--I didn't have a moment of hesitation when I said my vows.  And that's how it should be.  Easy peasy.  Love and relationships take a little work, but it should never be HARD.  If love is really hard all the time, then perhaps it's not the kind of love you deserve.  My easy, blissful love with Pete made me realize that we were doing the right thing by getting married and committing our lives to each other.  (You can let out a resounding, "awww" now!)

Don't you just love weddings??  I could reminisce about mine all day long... :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Fabulous Valentines Challenge - Day 3

Hi there!  I'm having a delightful Wednesday and I'm excited to once again be linking up with Amber, Neely and Casey for the Fabulous Valentines Challenge.  I love how these challenges encourage me to think about all sorts of fun topics.  Today's topic is Love My Outfit: Valentines Day Outfits.

So this year, Valentine's Day is on a Tuesday.  Yuck.  It certainly does limit fun V-Day date possibilities, doesn't it??  So, in thinking about different date options, I came up with two ensembles that will be perfect for my date night with Pete.  Pete recently reminded me again that he likes me in purple, so I decided to make that the focus color for both outfits.  Red and pink are so overdone on Valentine's Day anyway.

If we choose to go out to dinner right after work, I'll need a day-to-evening outfit.  Here's something I thought might look nice for a weeknight date, coming straight from work...
I definitely need a feminine purple blouse, but I couldn't narrow down my choices between the two above.  I would wear the short sleeve if it's a warm day or the long sleeve if it's cooler.  Again, it's all about practicality.  Lately I've fancied the pairing of purple with gray, so I love the idea of using a gray straight leg trouser.  Totally classic look.  I really love jewel tones and find them very romantic, so I paired the blouse and slacks combo with a preppy green suede ballet flat.  I threw the Chloe bag in because, well... I'm sort of obsessed with it.  I had to add the gunmetal earrings because they were just so cute.

If we plan a date night that allows me to come home and change my clothes, I'd be excited to wear a dress.  I don't tend to wear dresses in the winter since I get cold so easily, so Valentine's Day seems like an excellent reason to break one out. 
The focal point is the cute purple Alice + Olivia dress, with a plunging neckline and an interesting back.  Pete would love this dress for its sweet sexiness.  This dress joined with a classic black cardigan (for the chilly evenings) and simple black flats (since I'm not really into heels).  I love the geometic necklace for interest, and I'd have to wear black diamond earrings, since Pete just gave me a pair as a wedding gift.

This has me really excited to start shopping for the perfect outfit for Pete and I's first Valentine's Day as a couple of smug marrieds.  We're both looking forward to having a nice, interesting dinner, and I'm excited that we're going out for dinner on a weeknight.  YAY!

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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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