Monday, July 30, 2012

July Birchbox vs. MyGlam

I had a total senior moment recently and completely forgot to post about my latest Birchbox and MyGlam bag finds!  What was I (not) thinking??  I am such a whore for these subscription services, but I know enough to stop at three (because my husband would disown me if he saw more than that come into the house every month).   A girl has to have limits.  Or so I hear.

I LURVE beauty products of all kinds, and this month's goodies were so much fun!  I would typically write separate posts to talk about the contents of each package, but I figure that I compare the two every month, so why not write it as I think it?

This month's Birchbox was good, but not great.  Once again, I see what others get in their boxes, and that familiar pang of jealousy washes over me.  It's amazing that my twin sister's preferences are set nearly identical to mine and we always get very different boxes.  And I ALWAYS want hers more.  I guess there isn't a magic formula to getting the boxes I want, but a girl can dream!  I'm sure you wanna know what I got...  and here ya go...

It just looks small and disappointing, right?  Well, there are a couple of gems.  Here's what I got:

Jouer Lip Gloss Mini
Earphones (neon pink and blue)
Tea Forte Minteas
Oscar De La Renta Live in Love perfume
Manna Kadar Sheer Glo Shimmer Lotion
Blinc Mascara

The Jouer lip gloss is a pretty peachy-pink shade, and it's a flattering shade on sunkissed skin.  I like that one, I'll keep it.  The earbuds are okay, but I'm not sure I'll use them much because my Apple earbuds work just fine.  The ODLR perfume is mostly floral, so I can't argue there.  That survives to be worn another day.  The Minteas are tea-flavored breathmints, which don't excite me at all.  Then again, I'm not much of a tea drinker, so the flavor is lost on me.  The shimmer lotion is meant for your face, to be mixed with a liquid foundation or dotted on as a highlighter.  It's fine, but I'm not sure I love it more than my Benefit High Beam.  The blinc mascara in black is actually pretty good.  It's the first tubing mascara I've tried, and it goes on pretty smoothly.  It also doesn't flake, so I'll definitely use it again!

Now, let's compare the MyGlam Bag for July. 

Here are the goods:

Bare Escentuals Buxon Lip Gloss in Leslie
Circus by Andrea's Choice Nail Color in Somersault
Yes to Cucumbers Soothing Facial Towelettes
Juice Beauty Green Apple SPF 15 Moisturizer
Nu Me Hydro Punch Hydrating Conditioner

This bag ROCKED!!!  Okay, let me contain my excitement a little and not go too crazy.  It's just a bunch of little products afterall.  To start, the products are far and away better than what I received in my Birchbox.  They're all generous sizes and things I'd actually buy in real life.  Score!  I even like the yellow nailpolish, which usually throws me for a loop.  I can't wait to try it on my toes!  The lip gloss is sheer and subtle, so it's good for a quick pick me up... and it tastes so yummy!  The Juice Beauty moisturizer is nice, not too sticky.  I wish it had a higher SPF for my fair skin, though.  The Yes to Cucumbers towelettes are nice and light, and super refreshing.  I'll buy more of these on my next Target run.  I haven't tried the conditioner yet, but I'll throw it in the shower to use with my Oscar Blandi clarifying shampoo.

The winner by a landslide is MyGlam!!  If you are skeptical about trying another subscription service, give MyGlam a try.  This was my second month and I was really impressed with the selection of products. I felt like I got more than $10 worth of value out of it, which is always my barometer of a good box/bag.

What did you think of this month's products from either MyGlam or Birchbox?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Social Time!

One of the things I look forward to lately is linking up for the Sunday Social!  I love checking out new blogs and introducing people to this l'il blog, too.  SO much fun!!  AND, it's a light, ideal way to close out a weekend.  Today's questions are totally up my alley, so let's get to it, shall we?

This Weeks Questions:
1. What is your dream job? 
Well, it's safe to say that I didn't grow up wanting to be a Human Resources Manager, because no kid dreams about dealing with other peoples' BS all day. For real.  I always dreamed about being an Archaeologist, and had a second major in college, Anthropology with a concentration in Archaeology.  I discovered in my senior year of college that traveling the world without a real home base would be very challenging given my love for my friends and family, so I pursued a career in my other major, HR.  (My parents refused to pay for my undergrad degree unless I majored in something that I could actually get a job in.  Thanks mom and dad!)  I would LOVE to travel the world, seeing history emerge from the ground and educating people about our past.   I'd love to work for a university during the school year, then travel abroad every summer to pursue my latest research project.  And I'd love to bring my children up around other cultures to teach them about the world.  Yup, I'm a history geek and THAT'S my dream job!

2. If you had just won the lottery and didn't need to work for money, what would you do with your time?
For awhile, I'd volunteer with local organizations and travel around following Dave Matthews Band's summer tour every year.  After I had kids, I'd be a SAHM for awhile, but eventually I might go back to work.  I think I'd be bored being a SAHM forever.  Plus, I'm good at my job and leaving it forever would be so sad!

3. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a doctor.  I even volunteered in the Surgery department of my local hospital all through high school and got to witness numerous surgeries.  I decided in my freshman year of college that I didn't want the stress of 10 more years of school, so I switched majors and never looked back.


4. What piece career advice would you give to someone just starting out in your field?
Learn to separate your heart from your mind,  or else you'll tear yourself apart with guilt, frustration and anger.  Learn to balance your desire to help people with meeting the needs of the business.  Sometimes you're going to part of decisions that change peoples' lives, for better or for worse, you just have to separate your personal life from what you do at work.

5. Biggest Pet Peeves either in life or in blogging or at work.
People who are late for their own parties.  People driving below the speed limit.  Bloggers who brag excessively.  People who keep their pets outside instead of in their homes.  Entitled people who feel like the world owes them the best of everything.

6. Biggest Fears.
Palmetto bugs and lizards in my house.  Falling from great heights.  Losing my husband, twin sister or parents.  Getting mugged/robbed.  Losing my sense of vision.  Giving up on my dreams.  Not being able to have a family.

I can't wait to see how everyone else responded to these questions.  I think it's so interesting to learn about people, and their jobs (and dream jobs) say so much about them! 

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Little Random Never Hurt Anyone

I have all sorts of crazy things buzzing through my mind right now, ladies, and I feel like a random post will serve me well tonight.  Sometimes a girl just has to get a few things off her chest, ri-right?

  • I've finally rolled out  my new blog design!!!  It's about time that I upgraded this puppy.  I have to make a few tweaks, but overall I think it looks much better!  I have to say that I'll miss  my old blog header, but it was time to change things up a little!
  • I have a problem with controlling my immense urge to buy cardigan sweaters.  There's something about a cardi that sucks me in everytime, especially when it's cheap.  For some reason, I like to hoard this particular type of clothing, always needing the next greatest color, sleeve length, neck shape or button style.  My husband thinks I'm seriously crazy.  It's worse than my ballet flat problem.
  • I feel terrible for Penn Staters right now.  I believe that the NCAA sanctions were TOTALLY unfair, and aren't punishing the people who were actually involved in the scandal.  Those people are no longer affiliated with the university.  The NCAA's just trying to cover it's ass in the media, and it's missing the point.  Not only that, but people actually feel like Penn State alums should be ashamed of their degrees, their school and their football program.  So sad.  Penn Staters are amazing people whose values don't match the horrific choices made by former school officials, and they should never be ashamed of their fantastic education and the outstanding philanthopy of the school and it's students.
  • My twin sister thinks I'm this innocent, delicate little flower.  Yeah, me.  I was telling her about 50 Shades of Grey, and she told me I needed to wash my mouth out with soap!  HA!  I love her, but she has to learn that I'm a grown up, too.  Hubs would DIE to hear me talk about the things in that book!
  • I made delicious bruschetta last night for my hubby's potluck at work today, and apparently everyone loved it.  I'm becoming a good Italian cook, little by little!
  • I'm tired of eating lackluster baked goods and flushing valuable WW points down the tubes.  From now on, I'm only going to cheat with really amazing baked goods, the kind that you KNOW are going to be worth the points.  No more slumming it with crappy sweets.
  • I got a bunch of sweet EWTN swag from my company's cable affiliates department for the in-laws, and I'm mailing the package out next week.  I'm about to win major daughter-in-law points with my uber-Catholic family.
  • Hubs said he'd do the Date Night class at Painting With A Twist!!  I thought for sure he'd say no, but now we get to schedule it.  YAY!  Two tacky paintings, coming right up!
Much love to you as you head into a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Hola chiquitas!!  I've been having a cuh-ray-zay week and I remembered tonight, while having a fro you date with Becca and Jess, that today is Thursday and I've gotta do an It's OK post!  For time's sake, I'm gonna jump right in, linking up with Amber and Neely.  I haven't done an It's OK post in awhile, and let's face it, I need this tonight.  This really does greatly improve my mood before heading into Friday!

Without further ado...

It's OK... find frozen yogurt to be a perfectly acceptable dinner for any night of the week be stoked that Project Runway is BACK!! comtemplate calling out of work so I can sleep in and snuggle with my dog buy a pair of Sigerson Morrison wedges and have absolutely no idea what I'm going to wear them with get addicted to 50 Shades of Grey, even though I'm a little behind everyone else (I feel like I need a cold shower and a glass of wine after reading this!) look at my husband and wonder what I ever did to deserve someone so great eat cookies for breakfast (especially Girl Scout cookies) make a to-do list for everything, even things you never need to be reminded of doing find some weird joy in listening to everyone else's problems, just to get the dirt on everyone have a huge change to my blog, coming soon! be thankful for Juneville, the sweetest group of girls ever be annoyed that my husband has stolen my special clothes hangers, even though I know they're *just* hangers shudder at the thought of paring down my closet, but know that it's coming very soon hide my un-pedicured toes in ballet flats everyday this week, despite it being a 100 degrees outside and feel my feet craving sandals keep my job options open, even though I really like my current job
...not believe the hype about Erin Condren planners dread the thought of bra shopping (does anyone make a perfect bra anymore??)


Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Dave Matthews Band Weekend in West Palm Beach

Greetings friends!!  I'm finally back in Tampa after taking a speedy but fabulous two-day trip to West Palm Beach, FL.  Hubs and I met up with my sister and her hubby for the Dave Matthews Band show on Saturday night, and it was a BLAST!!  I'm tired now, but so glad that we went and had a ball.

Hubs went to work at the radio station on Friday night pre-programming all of his weekend radio shifts to free himself up on Saturday and Sunday, and I stayed in packing and cuddling with my doggie.  We got to bed very late, and then got up early on Saturday to head out.  My mom and dad agreed to babysit Bella while we were gone, so we drove to Venice to drop her off, then we drove the back roads out to WBP.  We had a goal of getting to WPB by 2:00, and we made it there by 2:20, so we weren't off by much.  Because my sis made it to WPB early, she picked up all of our tailgating supplies and we were able to start tailgaiting at the concert venue 30 minutes earlier than planned.  I LOVE getting ahead of schedule!

We had a massively fun tailgate before the show, and we were surrounded by fellow tailgaters in a city made of pop-up tents and lawn chairs.  Everyone had DMB playing on their stereos, people were eating and playing cornhole and beer pong... really just getting rowdy and having a great time!  Someone even brought a generator to fuel a massive stereo system, which was totally impressive!

I had a bit of an issue at our tailgate and thankfully my twin came to my rescue!  I had worn jeans to the Tampa show, and had no problems during our tailgate.  I felt fine and comfortable.  I don't know if the humidity got to me or what, but on Saturday, I sweated all the way through my jeans! (I usually don't sweat like that!)  I felt disgusting, and naturally didn't think to pack a change of clothes (lesson learned).  Luckily for me, my twin gets in super Mom mode and always thinks to pack the sunscreen, Wet Ones and extra clothes.  She had a pair of khaki shorts that I changed into on the DL, amidst the hubbub.  She's a size or so bigger than me, so the shorts were a little baggy, but they worked in a pinch and I couldn't have been more grateful.  She also brought extra flip flops, which I snagged too.  And lemme tell ya, I felt 10 times better after changing!  (I only wished I had remembered to shave my legs that morning, but whatever, no one noticed or cared about a little stubble.)

Also, I wound up putting my new shorter hair style into a short ponytail to deal with the heat.  Hubs said that I had a "pony-nub" like Gavin Rossdale.  While Gavin's hot, that was not a compliment.  He kept telling me that my hair looked cute, so it wasn't so bad I guess.

We headed into the show, grabbed my poster (I collect posters from all of the DMB shows I've been to) and got something to drink.  I was the DD, so I was rocking a big ol' $9 Diet Coke.  For that price, I'd have rather had a beer, but I sucked it up and enjoyed my soda.  This gal had to keep everyone safe.

I had very high hopes for the concert because Jeff Coffin, the saxophonist, tweeted that this show was going to be "a blow-out".  I know they're taking a little break after this show, so I waited for the band to come onstage with eager anticipation.  The concert started on a great note with Grace Is Gone, meanwhile my husband was MIA.  On his way back from the restroom, he ran into my sister who had lost her husband in the crowd, and he wasn't responding to calls or texts to his cell.  Pete won some brownie points by helping her look for her hubby, missing most of the first song.  I was just excited when he finally came back to dance around with me!  He also bought me a DMB t-shirt to replace my shirt with buffalo sauce stains (yeah, classy).

The show was great overall, but a "blow-out"?  Eh, not really.  It was REALLY GOOD, but it wasn't my most favorite show of theirs.  They did play an amazing version of Two Step, my favorite DMB song, to close before the encore, so there was some serious happiness floating around Sec. 7, Row P, Seat 6.  Yet again, they did not play Granny, but I've learned not to get my hopes up too high on that one.  It never gets played in Florida. 

It took us quite awhile to get out of the parking lot, but thanks for some quick maneuvering we got back to the hotel around 12:15.  Hubs and I really weren't that tired, so we stayed up  for awhile watching tv and enjoying a nightcap:

Those, girls, are the very best chocolate chip cookies I've EVER had.  I'll post the recipe soon!  I think I went way off my diet and ate 5 or 6 between the tailgate and post-party at our room.  So delicious and worth the cheat!

Hubs and I met my sister and her husband for breakfast at the local IHOP, where I tried those red velvet pancakes that they keep advertising all over the place.  And guess what?  They were way better than I had imagined!  Give them a try if you get the chance.  They were on par with the red velvet pancakes from my favorite restaurant, Datz.

We drove back to Tampa, stopping along the way in Venice to pick up Bella from my parents' house.  My mom tells me when we're on our way that Bella hasn't been eating her carrots and has been yelping when you try to touch the right side of her mouth.  Hmmm... I confirmed it when I saw her and she's definitely not acting like herself tonight.  (Insert major frown here.)  I'm going to get her into the vet tomorrow to see what the problem might be.  I hope it's nothing serious!

I hope you ladies had a fantabulous weekend full of happy times!  Now, on to the week!!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dave Matthews Band in Tampa

Some of you might have heard that one of my true loves in life is listening to music by Dave Matthews Band.  They are absolutely my favorite band, and as a music lover, I feel like they're just crazy talented and put on the BEST live shows.  Their music is usually blaring in my car on my way to and from work, with me jamming out and bobbing my head while I sing along loudly.

Going to DMB concerts are one of my joys in life.  I feel so incredibly happy and fulfilled while listening to their music live with my, sister, friends and husband by my side.  I've heard people talk about experiencing moments that are their Happy Places.  Well going to DMB shows are some of my Happy Places in life, each with their own indelible memories.  I look forward to these shows every. single. year.  I was so disappointed that the band decided to take a summer off from a full tour last year, but was stoked when they announced that they were going back on the road for the summer of 2012.  YAY!!

I had seen DMB 17 times throughout my life, and last night, I had the opportunity to attend show number 18 with my dear friend Jess. 

I've known Jess for almost 4 years, and she's been such a blessing in my life.  I love that girl!  She also shares in my appreciation for jam bands and going to concerts, and we always have a great time tailgating and attending shows together.  Jess was my date to the 2010 DMB show in Tampa.  We tailgated, then walked to the gate, only to realize that we'd left our tickets in the car.  When we got back to the car and decided on the fly to drink one more beer (more like we slammed another beer, because we were in a hurry after trying to maximize our tailgating time) then ran back to the gate with our tickets in hand.  We just had to fit in one more beer that we didn't have to pay $10 for.  That's how we roll.  It's all about being economical.

After Jess and I took a swing by the merch stand and grabbed some food, then went back to our seats, which were actually pretty good this year.  Well, in a moment of staggering humiliation, the bottom of my seat broke, rendering it unusable.  Ugh.  No girl with any weight on her wants to experience her seat breaking in front of other people. EVER.  It just reminded me of why I am back on Weight Watchers!  The staff at the Amphitheater were wonderful, and ended up giving us new seats at the front of our section!  We didn't have anyone directly in front of us, so our line of sight for the show was perfect!  Maybe my seat breaking was a blessing in disguise.

The show's set list was okay, and contain some great songs and new material.  The show started out with a ton of energy, but there was just this lull in the middle of the show with a number of slow songs in a row, all with extended jams, that almost put my poor friend to sleep!  I was thrilled when they picked up the pace and played some upbeat stuff and some of their classics, and the show ended strong with a great encore.  All in all, a good show but maybe not one of my favorites.

I just have to get through tomorrow and then I'm going to the Saturday DMB show in West Palm Beach, FL with Hubs, my sister and my brother-in-law!  We have a fabulous tailgate planned and we're staying at a different hotel this year, so should be a great time!  Plus, the band is taking a one month hiatus after our show, so I'm hoping they pull out all the stops with the setlist (i.e. FINALLY play my favorite song, Granny). 

ON A COMPLETELY UNRELATED SIDE NOTE, I downloaded the Kindle app for my iPhone and downloaded the Fifty Shades books that Becca so graciously sent me.  Now I can take my books with me to work or wherever and no one knows that I'm reading soccer mom porn.  They just think I'm one of those Words with Friends addicts.  Small price to pay!

Hope you all have a great Friday!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Second Cravebox

As ya'll know, I'm kind of obsessed with these subscription services that deliver fun goodies to my doorstep every month.  There have been hits and misses with these boxes, but they always make my heart race when I see the package in my mailbox or waiting by my door.

I got my second Cravebox yesterday, and I had high hopes because I absolutely loved my first box last month.  To be honest, the July Cravebox was kind of a let-down for me.  It's the Summer BBQ box, which contained items essential for great barbecuing.  Sounds okay, right?  Well, it's great IF you barbecue.  Some pieces were decent, some were completely useless to me.  Wanna see what the heck I'm talking about?

Here's what the box contained:

Pretty 4th of July themed packaging

Bic Flame Disk for Charcoal Grills

Mini Appetizer Plastic Plates and Forks

Lemonade Drink Packets

Whole Leaf Iced Tea Bag

Coupon for a free grill/candle/fireworks lighter

The Verdict:

Again, this might be an awesome box if you're into barbecuing.  I LOVE barbecuing, but our condo isn't conducive to grilling and therefore we don't really do it anymore.  My husband and I got rid of our old charcoal grill last year because it got gross and we weren't using it very much, so I don't think I'll be using the Flame Disk.  I think I'll share the wealth and give it to my sister, whose husband fancies himself a champion griller.  I also won't use the appetizer plates and forks because they're so tiny!  They look like something a 4 year old would play Tea Party with.  I am going to take the lemonade packets to work to mix into my water, and I may give the whole leaf iced tea bag a try, so those were good.  I can ALWAYS use another Bic multipurpose lighter, though it will be used for my expansive selection of candles rather than lighting grill.  I lose run through those lighters pretty quickly.

Overall, eh.  I will stick with Cravebox for another month to see if things improve.  I hear that this was an unusual box, and that internet land was ON FIRE bitching about it's contents.  Apparently they normally contain at least some beauty products, which I'm totally a fan of (you know that).  I'm not bitching about it per se, but it's not what I consider most useful or interesting.  I don't feel like Cravebox cheated me or anything.

If you get Cravebox, what did you think of this month's box?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Wonderful Weekend

It's Monday, and I'm back at it again for the week.  I don't know whether to be excited or annoyed, though!  This Wednesday is the Dave Matthews Band concert in Tampa, which excites me to my core, but I also have a totally full dance card at work.  YAY for DMB, BOO to tons of work!  At least I had a good weekend to keep my spirits up!  It had some great moments and a number of little victories that put a smile on my face, so I consider this weekend a success.

I met up with the Tampa Bay blogger girls for a class at Painting with a Twist in South Tampa.  Painting with a Twist is a place where you can sign up for 2 or 3 hour painting classes, and they allow you to bring your own wine and snacks for mid-session noshing.  I first did a class earlier this year for my friend Julie's birthday, and we painted a vase of sunflowers.  This time, we did a 2 hour class and painted three cocktail glasses.  SO appropriate for this crowd!   

It's amazing how most of us don't consider ourselves artists but still managed to create some pretty paintings.  I don't know if I'll ever let me hang mine in my house since it doesn't match the decor, but it was still super fun. 

After I got home, I went online and bought tickets to see Weezer perform at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg.  I can't believe they're playing this paricular venue, which is known more for theater productions than concerts, but hey, it's close and I've always wanted to see this band!!  Hubs was NOT happy with me because the tickets were 90 bones apiece (yup, for Weezer!), so I promised him I'd find a friend to buy the other ticket and go to the show with me.  I'm still pretty stoked about it!

I have recommitted myself to Weight Watchers, so I went to my first Weight Watchers meeting since May on Saturday morning.  Since my last weigh in, I went on a cruise, took some weekend trips and was really inconsistent about my diet.  I was SHOCKED to see that I'd only gained 3 lbs.  I thought it was going to be at least 10 or 15, so I was bracing myself like I was about to get punched in the face by scale.  This was a small win that  made me feel like maybe getting back to WW won't be so hard afterall.

While my hubby's car was getting fixed, we poked around the mall, where I found that LOFT was having a big sale.  I got 4 tops for $35, which was GREAT!  Win for me!  We also found out that the cost to repair Hubs' car was WAY less than the estimate we received at another local auto repair shop, so there was win number three of the day. 

After dinner, I went to Publix for a few things, got a couple of cupcakes at Gigi's (hell, it was my cheat day!) and grabbed This Means War and 21 Jump Street from Redbox.  Both movies had their funny parts, but I was glad we rented them versus paying to see them in the theater.  But in This Means War, I totally would have picked Tuck.  I think Reese's character picked wrong.  Just sayin'. 

It was really nice spending time with Hubs and Bella, who has been particularly cute and sweet lately.  I just love it when she's like that!

In what seems like a miracle, I found a Chevy dealer in the Tampa Bay area who takes Sunday service appointments . The downside is that it's in Clearwater, but I was willing to make the drive to get my work done there.  Hubs and I got up somewhat early (for us on a Sunday), made the trek out to Clearwater, and got my car serviced and were home before 1:00.  I immediately came home and took an hour and a half nap!  I was apparently more tired than I thought, because I NEVER take naps! 

In the afternoon, I went back to LOFT and bought another top and a pair of shoes.  My husband actually suggested that I buy the shoes, another pair of ballet flats (to add to the collection), and I was NOT going to let that opportunity go to waste.  Rarely does he encourage me to buy more stuff, especially shoes.

After making a trip to Publix to pick up Pete's birthday cake (yes, a grocery store actually makes really delish cakes!), we went to J. Alexander's to celebrate the big 3-2 with his friends.  Thankfully we didn't have to wait long and the food was incredible, as always.  Pete also scored some great birthday presents, so he was a happy camper and felt good about his birthday.

Vodka, St. Germaine and Champagne Martini, which called my name from behind the bar.
Hubby Doo and I (see my short hair??)

Waitress better be careful or she'll burn the place to the ground!

Birthday boy blowing out his candles with one puff of breath

And that's it for the weekend.  It was lovely while it lasted, but now we're on to bigger and better things... like the DMB show!  I cannot wait until Wednesday! 

I hope you all had a great weekend!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Another Sunday Social

 Tonight I'm linking up again for the Sunday Social!  I love these questions and always look forward to these Sunday posts.  I've also been discovering some great new blogs because of it, so I'm excited!

Sunday Social

This week we're talkin' about travel.  I absolutely LOVE to travel but I haven't done as much of it in the past few years.  Hubs and I have been busily saving money to reach financial goals, but we have found time for some pretty stellar trips.  Since we got engaged, though, we've spent a lot of time traveling to Michigan for wedding planning, so we've put a lot of our travel goals on back burner.
This weeks questions:

Best trip you've ever been on?
Naming the best trip I've ever been on is sort of tough.  I think I'd call Hubs and I's honeymoon to Sandals Grande Antigua our best trip, mostly because we were in desperate need of a weeklong reprieve from responsibility and time to rest after our crazy wedding extravaganza!  That honeymoon rocked my world, almost as much as my new husband.  Seriously.
But when I think about the trip where I saw the most and loved every minute of it, I think of our trip to Philadelphia in December 2010.  That trip gave me delicious food, amazing sight-seeing (appealing to my inner history nerd) and I got to meet some of Pete's close Philly friends.  The best part was staying with Pete's fabulously gay Italian godfather, Tom, who is the sweetest man on the planet and eating his to-die-for Feast of the Seven Fishes. 

Best idea for a girls weekend trip?
I loved going to NYC with the girls because there's so much to do there and you can make quite a lovely extended weekend out of it.  We enjoyed the typical NYC tourist stuff, like visiting the museums, checking out a broadway show, taking the Sex and the City tour, sipping frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity, and a stopping at Magnolia Bakery for cupcakes.  Some other great stops:  Friend of a Farmer for the best breakfast OF YOUR LIFE (no joke), Ferrara Bakery for cannolis, and shopping at the Kate Spade flagship store (my Mecca).

Best idea for a couples trip?
We really like all-inclusive couples resorts.  Nothing is better than some quiet, alone time with your sweetie, plus the opportunity to meet other couples from all over the world.  We loved not having to worry about other peoples' kids, taking money with us and buying water for our room all the time.  Everything was done for us, so our biggest decision each day was whether to go to the pool or the beach.
Best vacation on the cheap?
Going to the great West Coast of Florida beaches!  Weekend trips to Tradewinds or other local resorts are fun, and we love going down to the Sarasota/Venice area.  It's quiet and the Florida resident rates at a lot of the hotels are usually amazing.  When you're at these resorts, you feel like you're a million miles from home without a care in the world, just the way a good vacay should feel.

Place you most want to visit?
Hubs and I would like to travel abroad together, particularly to Italy, England and Ireland.  I'd love to visit my husband's big family in Abruzzi region of Italy, so hopefully we'll get there in the next few years.

Vacation necessities:
I need a big handbag, a good size (but not bulky) tote bag, iPhone, iPod, books, crossword puzzle books, US magazines, a hoodie/cardigan sweater, comfortable flip flops, a camera and a small pocket wallet.
Hope you all have a great week ahead and many happy travels in your future!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Li'l About Me & A Blog Award

'Sup ladies?!   I can't believe it's Thursday already and I'm so excited that we're this close to the weekend.  YAY!!!  Knowing that it's almost Saturday helps me get through stressful weeks that feel like they're never going to end.

Yesterday, while I was sitting at work, trying to take a 5 minute break from the whirling abyss of Excel spreadsheet hell, I checked my personal email to clean out some junkmail and check to see if I got any new blog comments (of course).  I had a really happy surprise when I received a blog award from a hilarious girl whose blog I absolutely love, Sam from Once is Enough

. : Rules : .

one. include the award's logo in a post or on your blog.

two. share the love and link the person who awarded you.

three. tell us seven facts about yourself.

four. nominate seven other bloggers

five. link your nominees in your post and leave them a comment letting them know they've won!

. : 7 Facts About Moi : .

one.  I have an affinity for even numbers.  The tv volume is usually set to an even number, as is the thermostat in my house.  I always know when my husband changes the thermostat or the tv volume because it will be set to an odd number, so I typically change it back. to something even  The only exception is the house's temperature when I sleep.  It has to be 71 degrees.

two. I'm a very conspicuous eater.  I chew loudly, spill things on myself and drop crumbs all over my shirt.  There's no hidden eating in my world.  When I've had a snack, everyone knows it.

three. I'm a pool person rather than an ocean person.  I don't like swimming where other things live and feeling fish bump up against my legs while I'm swimming freaks me out in the hugest way.  YUCK!  I remember being out in the ocean with my friends and making one of them escort me back to the beach because I was scared of the random things that kept knocking against me.  I still get the heebie jeebies just thinking about it!

four. I attend a fundraiser every year where guys from death metal bands raise money for homeless cats.  It's called the Metal Meowlisha.  I kid you not.  Those guys may have the worst B.O. known to mankind, but they'll give the last of their Jagermeister money to spay and neuter stray cats.  It's a beautiful thing!

five. Diet soda is my lifeblood, especially Diet Coke.  I've cut back on my consumption, but I don't think I could ever give it up completely.  Total. Addict.

six.  I got married 13 months ago, and I still haven't finished my wedding scrapbook or gotten my wedding dress cleaned.  I was right on top of everything else, but with these things, I've been slacking!

seven.  My husband does 90% of our laundry, not because he does it better than I do, but because I'm scared of seeing a palmetto bug in our laundry room.  Embarrassing but true.  Thankfully I've taught him well and he does a great job with it!

. : I award : .

one. Jess @ Life with my Loves
Love how she writes and the cute pictures of her kids
She proves that smart can be gorgeous!

three. Sharon @ The Tiny Heart
 The cutest fashion blogger on the block

four. Asha @ Asha's Aspects
Great posts about her many adventures 

five. Nichole @ Life as a Newlywed
  Wickedly funny and sweet, both on her blog and IRL

six. Becca @ Oh The Places You'll Go
Extremely smart with great advice on everything from budgeting to fashion

seven. Melissa @ Forever and a Day
A gifted writer and photographer, I love, love, love her blog!

Muchas gracias to Sam for the blog love!!  Please go check out her blog because she's not only incredibly adorable, but she's HILARIOUS!  Her witty posts give great insight into her awesome life and she's got a wonderful, surprising perspective on, well, everything.  Sam, I hope you have a great time visiting Tampa!

Tah-tah for now!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Great Weekend & Renewed Perspective

Some weekends turn out to be just the weekend you need to put things in perspective.  Lately, I've been busily going through the motions of life, constantly feeling like I was behind or not living up to my goals and ambitions.  I tend to be the ambitious type, so feeling like I wasn't making progress was driving me crazy.

On Friday night, I had a revelation that I'd been thinking all wrong about things.  This life.  This place.  My goals.  Instead of thinking about what was going wrong, I needed to start thinking about all of the things that are going right.  And when I think about it, that's a LOT of things!  My life is full of beautiful things that I have a tendancy to overlook because I'm always striving for more.

I had a heart-to-heart about how I was feeling with Hubs, and he proved what a caring and supportive husband he is.  I've also been getting down on life here in Tampa, because it feels like I've been stuck in a rut here.  I've had the same job and same house for 7 years and I feel like I'm ready for the next challenge.  Because a new house is still a couple of years away and my job isn't going to be changing anytime soon, I decided that it was time to start appreciating Tampa and my overall life in this wonderful city.

It's really easy to take a place for granted when you've been living there for awhile.  I remember living in Michigan and saying what lucky ducks people are for getting to live in Florida, where the weather is beautiful and there's so much to do.  Then I moved here and slowly stopped appreciating this place and the blessings it's brought me.  The years I've spent in Tampa have been SO good!  Definitely the best years of my life.  I can't ever let myself forget that.  And Tampa's not a terrible place.  Just forget about the million strip clubs and the tourists;  this city has a ton to offer.

I had an absolutely amazing Saturday which helped put things into perspective.  Hubs went to work, and I worked on something for his birthday coming up this week.  We then had a late, lazy lunch at Whiskey Joe's, where we sat by the water, drank some ice cold, refreshing beer and had a tasty lunch (try their blackened fish tacos!).  We need to get out and enjoy the beautiful views more often!

Now THIS is a happy girl!
A view of a gorgeous beach... skies, clear water and sunshine!

Then Hubs and I did a little shopping, ran a bunch of errands and just enjoyed being together.  I love those days!  At night, we went to The Sandbar in St. Pete where we said goodbye to one of Pete's radio station co-workers, Lauren, who just accepted a job in Chicago.  She will be missed so much!  We had never been to The Sandbar, which was great (read: cheap beer), but the parking situation was less than ideal. 

On Sunday, we did our normal thing of sleeping late, going grocery shopping, doing laundry, and catching up on stuff around the house.  Totally relaxing.

Throughout Saturday and Sunday, I had some time to reflect and reminded myself that life doesn't have to be a game trying to top my past accomplishments.  I can just be happy with the life I've got right now, living in the moment, and keep striving for the things I really want in the next stage of my life (the new house, the ideal job, the family).  Trying to out-do myself isn't healthy, but I will eventually get the things that I want.  All in due time, as a natural progression.  But I do feel like I have more of an appreciation for our life than I did just a few days ago.  Yup, life is good!

I hope you all had an amazing weekend and have a terrific week ahead!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sunday Social #5

Happy, happy Sunday!  Sundays are both a blessing and a curse for me.  I love that I have the day off, get to sleep in and usually spend the day shopping, doing chores and then relaxing with my hubby and puppy.  The curse is that tomorrow is Monday and the start to a new week, which always leads to an impending feeling of doom that five work days is staring me in the face.  Duh-duh-dahhhhh... Blah.

But this Sunday is a pretty happy because I have an absolutely packed agenda for every night after work this week, making the thought of having to go to work every day lead to evening rewards of hanging out with friends, getting my hair done and celebrating my Hubby's birthday.  For once I'm not completely dreading a Monday!  And what could make my Sunday even happier??  Linking up for the Sunday Social! 

This weeks questions are about TV!  I watch more TV than I care to admit, but lately my attentions have been turned to my husband, my computer and my books since everything's on reruns.  I'm always looking for my new favorite shows and enjoy torturing my husband with reality TV.  Although, I do stop at the Kardashians and Real Housewives.  I want to keep my husband from divorcing me over my TV preferences!
Favorite TV shows of the past: 
Okay, here we go:  OLD Real World (pre-2002), Friends, Golden Girls, Saved by the Bell, Seinfeld, Full House, LOST, Will and Grace, Beverly Hills 90210 (original), Fresh Prince of Bel Air, My So Called Life, Making the Band (the ones with Diddy/Danity Kane and the one with O-Town), Most Haunted, Shear Genius, Who Do You Think You Are?, The Osbournes, and Sex and the City.  Whew! 

My favorite of these was LOST, which I started watching after I met my husband.  We shotgunned 5 seasons over the course of a couple months to get me caught up before the final season started.  It was a great way to get to know the series quickly and I grew to love the show... right before it went away for good.  It had a perfect finale though!  I do miss the Hurley character.

Favorite TV show currently:
Some of these are taking a break before the new seasons start, but I am eagerly awaiting their re-arrival:  The Office, Up All Night, Dancing With The Stars, Law and Order SVU, The Sing-Off, House Hunters, What Not To Wear, Pawn Stars, Cupcake Wars, and Ghost Hunters.

My favorite show for years has been The Office.  It's Appointment TV for me every single week, and my husband knows that I MUST watch this show--no interruptions!  I miss Steve Carell on the show, as cringe-worthy as his character was, so I'm hoping the season takes a better turn this fall now that James Spader is gone (yuck).

Which Reality Show would you NEVER do?
Fear Factor!  I'd rather die than jump into a pit of scorpions, or eat rotting goat testicles or monkey brains or whatever.  I love adventure, but that show is all about stupid risks and making people do disgusting things for a prize that's not even worth it.  No thank you.

Which Reality Show would you LOVE to do?
I'd love to be on House Hunters, but the Amazing Race would be fun too.  I looked into being on Say Yes to the Dress when I was getting married, but they weren't filming at the time when I was looking for my dress.  Booo!  
TV personality/character that you feel is most like you?
I don't feel like I've ever found a TV character or personality that's like me.   I'm a cross between Charlotte and Miranda in Sex and the City-speak, but neither is completely like me.

TV character you'd want to date?
Jim from The Office.  He's Mr. Nice Guy who happens to be pretty foxy.  Pam is a lucky girl!
Do you know any of these shows?  Leave a comment and stop by again soon to check out my blog!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th & Cowboy Caviar

Happy 4th of July girlie girls!  It's America's Independence Day, and I'm happy for numerous reasons, among them being 1.) I get a day off of work; 2.) I'm spending the day with Hubs; 3.) Living in America is a blessing because we have so many freedoms and I will not take that for granted; 4.) Hearing the Star Spangled Banner amidst a sky full of fireworks gets me emotional every. time. (yup, I'm a sap).  What better way to celebrate this glorious holiday than to send up copious amounts of barely-legal fireworks and eat delicious food amongst friends?  Well that's what we did, and it's been so, so lovely! 

I love the 4th of July, but it's not the same as when I was growing up.  We always used to spend our 4th's at my grandfather's lake house in Cheboygan, Michigan, where we would swim, go to picnics, take boat rides, play with all of the kids who were visiting their my grandparents' neighbors for the holiday, and be with the family.  We would make loads of fresh fruit salad using fruit from my grandfather's garden, and live off that for an entire week.  My dad and I would go fishing and have quiet time alone together on the dock.  I would freak out when the mayflies hatched, and hide in the house until they died off a couple of days later.  Man, I really have some great 4th of July memories!  I wish I could have that experience again, but I don't know where or how to find that lifestyle down here in Florida.  I don't think it exists.  It's really okay, though, because I've managed to carve out new holiday traditions with my husband, and hopefully we'll pass those along to our kiddos someday.  We'll take them out to the beach to watch real fireworks and let them wave sparklers around in our driveway, like we did when we were kids.

Last night, we went to a Pre-4th Party at our friends Jess and Steve's, and I took two dips for us to munch on while waiting for the barbecued food (burgers, hot dogs and corn on the cob) to be cooked.  The first dip was buffalo chicken dip, which is always a hit and the first appetizer to go.  It's totally addictive.  The second dip I took was a salsa-style dip called Cowboy Caviar.  I have heard several people mention in the last year (usually accompanied by the phrase, 'I could have eaten this as my entire meal!') and I finally decided to try making it.  Lemme tell you, it was SO easy and flavorful!  I can't believe I didn't try this sooner.

Here's the recipe that I used, which I adapted from several other recipes I found online...

Cowboy Caviar

1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
4 green onions, finely sliced
1-2 avocados, diced (my avocados weren't ripe enough, so I skipped them)
1 handful of cilantro (1/3 to 1/2 of a bunch), chopped
3/4 cup Zesty Italian salad dressing
Juice of 1 lime
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Combine tomatoes, corn, black beans, and black eyed peas, ensuring the all are fully drained before combining.  You don't want there to be too much liquid or it could just turn into a soupy mess.  Add green onions, avocados, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper.  Add zesty Italian dressing, and stir well to thoroughly coat veggies.  I saw that a couple of recipes used diced red bell pepper and jalapenos, so toss those in too, if you like those kinds of things.  That's the beauty of this dip.  You can add and subtract flavors and ingredients based on your personal tastes.  I chilled this for a couple of hours before the party, and I served it with Tostitos tortilla scoops. 

Isn't it pretty?  I just love colorful food!  It reminds me of summer and picnics and sunshine.

I hope you're all eating like kings and enjoying the 4th of July festivities!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy Beginning-of-July!

Hi friends!  Last week was a completely ridiculous week at work because I was covering for a co-worker who was out on vacation, so I really, really needed a great weekend... and this past weekend did not disappoint!  I thank my lucky stars for having awesome friends and a wonderful hubby who keep me sane.  Oh and I can't forget my Diet Coke.  That keeps me sane too.

Friday night was our Girls Night Out (which still causes me to squeal with delight), so I got to meet the gang for a yummy PF Chang's dinner and the evening screening of Magic Mike!  Lemme tell you, those boys have got it goin' on.  Seriously.  If you haven't seen the movie yet, GO!  Run, do not walk, to your nearest movie theater and check out Channing Tatum's stripper moves.  You can tell that boy did it in real life because he's just a little too good at it.  It doesn't hurt that the movie was filmed in Tampa Bay and Channing used to strip here in his younger days.  It also doesn't hurt that you see lots of shirtless, hunky men with bare asses shaking their thangs all over the movie screen.  My husband refused to see this movie, so it's a good thing the girls wanted to go!  (Like they would have said no!)

On Saturday, I slept in (really late), then finally rolled out of bed and baked strawberry daiquiri cupcakes with strawberry cream cheese frosting to take to my pal Stephenie's house party.  I love nothing more than combining two of my loves:  alcohol and cupcakes.  They were SO good, but I was hoping to taste the rum a little more, since it was in both the batter and the glaze.  More booze please!  You know, I probably shouldn't admit that, but it's the truth.

Stephenie's party was lovely and it was great to see her and her hubby, Cheyin, and her two adorable kiddos again.  They are great people and even better drinking buddies!  They introduced me to my favorite shot, the Mini Guinness (aka Mini Guinny).  The Mini Guinness is half Patron Cafe and half Bailey's.  It's totally delish so you should try it!  (I'm always looking to convert new fans.)  Maybe I also shouldn't admit to having a favorite shot either, but what the hell!  I'm amongst friends.

On Sunday, Hubs and I lounged around and watched the NHL Network because it was Free Agent Day (lucky me!), then we ventured out to see the Mark Whalberg movie, Ted.  Ted was HILARIOUS!  I love nothing more than a trash-talking teddy bear who just looks all innocent and sweet.  Sort of like me.

Aaaannnnndddd, then it was back to work on Monday.  A quick weekend, but full of great friends, great movies and great food.  A girl can't ask for more.  At least not this girl.

Have a lovely week and 4th of July!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sunday Social Link-up

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!! (I just channeled my inner monster truck announcer, that was a first!)  I have had such a stellar Sunday, and feel like it will be made even more complete by participating in the Sunday Social Link-up!  If this is your first time stopping by my blog, welcome!  I believe in working hard and playing hard, and this weekend was ALL about playing hard.  I love ending a weekend with great memories and a sigh of relief!

I love participating in this linkup and the questions are always really fun.  This week, words on style.  My personal style has felt somewhat lacking as of late, but I'm hoping a clean-out of my closet and a stock-up shopping trip will do the trick!

If you could afford anything and everything, which designer brand would you covet? 
Tory Burch for shoes, Kate Spade for clothes.  I want to look like Zooey Deschanel's twin!

Kate Spade

Must have closet staple? 
Flip flops and cardigans (long or short-sleeve, they're all fabulous).  Always.

Favorite kind of shoes? (brand or type)
Ballet flats!  If I could afford them, I'd have an endless supply of Tory Burch, but Toms makes some really cute ballet flats and Nine West are my old stand-by.  But really any brand that doesn't give me blisters will do.

Tory Burch

Best clothing deal you've ever gotten? (sale or amazing find)
I scored 6 summer tops, a sweater and a pair of flip flops on sale at J. Crew for $60.  I lucked out that day!

Style you'd love to try?
Colored denim is at the top of my list right now.  I'm so worried about choosing a color that will go out of style quickly that I haven't made the move to buy a pair.  That may just be my next purchase.

Thanks for stopping by my internet home sweet home, and I hope you pop back in from time to time! 

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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