Monday, August 27, 2012

Happy Monday, Love Isaac

It's been an interesting couple of days, as Tropical Storm Isaac slowly approached Florida.  I stocked up on some household staples just in case we were stranded at home for a couple of days (flashlights, water, cookies, toilet paper), and waited for the squalls to ensue. 

I woke up early this morning and checked the weather forecast.  The outlook appeared somewhat ominous and unpredictable, so I decided to work from home, as not to be travelling over the bridges during potential periods of high winds and storm surge.  Welllll, today turned out to be a non-event.  Sure, it rained cats and dogs and the wind gusts would have knocked me to the ground, but it was on and off throughout the day.  And Pete had to go to work, so it's not like we could have a little hurricane party for two.  Booo!  On the bright side, I got a LOT of work done while I was sitting on my couch with The Chew playing in the background, so it wasn't so bad.  Have I ever mentioned that I think Michael Symon is really hot?  If not, I should have.

Later in the day, I took Bella to the vet (they were open!) because she's had a case of the sniffles since Thursday.  Yes, dogs get the sniffles, too!  She was also wheezing and breathing heavy, so I had to get her in to see the doc.  I swear, my vet must freaking love it when I approach her office because the must see big flashing dollar signs above my head.  I should just open my wallet when I walk through the door and give them carte blanche at my spare cash because inevitably Bella's vet visits cost me a small fortune.  But I adore this dog like she is my real child, and I'd spend any amount of money on her to keep her healthy.  After an extensive examination, it was determined that Bella caught a head cold, and we walked out with just a bottle of antibiotics.  This is what my sick little girl looked like when we got home...

Awww, so precious.  So cute.  So sweet.

She has been extraordinarily cranky over the past few days, but just because she isn't feeling well.  She even had a couple of sneezes so big tonight that she shook the whole couch.  Poor little thing!!  Even though she's been feeling crappy, she still managed to jump all the way up into the front seat of my SUV to go on her car ride.  She's a spry old girl, that's for sure.  You'd never know that she's 12 years old considering all of her energy.

It looks like the rest of this week will be very rainy, because you know that Tampa needs more rain.  Yeah right.  Hope you have a safe, dry week ahead!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Social Time Again!

Sunday Social

I'm linking up for today's Sunday Social!  This weeks questions are all about the Internet!

1. What is the first website you log on to each day?
Gmail followed by my Juneville message board

2. Give us some funny websites you visit that we need to know about


Fark (for the headlines)

3. Pinterest or Facebook? Why?
Pinterest because I love discovering new recipes and style ideas.  I also find some of the best eCards there!

4. Twitter or Instagram? Why?
That's really tough because I'm not really glued to either one of them. I'd probably say that Twitter takes home the win because I love the updates from my pals, favorite bands and celebrities.  I also like to laugh at people get into Twitter fights over really stupid things.

5. Favorite youtube it!
Right now, it's this...
South Korea's favorite badass pop star, Psy!

6. Biggest online pet peeve?
Hands down, it's people leaving vague, attention-seeking posts on Facebook and Twitter.  People who fish for sympathy and compliments drive me crazy.  I don't mind when people post about issues that are legitimately going on in their lives, but posts like "FML, when things like this happen, I just want to put a re-do on my whole life" or "Please be honest with me, do I look fat in my wedding pictures??" drive me nuts.  Ugh.  First, if you want us to know that something horrible has happened to you, JUST COME RIGHT OUT AND TELL US.  Second, you don't look fat in your wedding pictures!!  You MAYBE wore a size 8 on your wedding day.  I don't want to hear it.
 Have a great week to come!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

An Evening with O.A.R. and the Tampa Bay Rays

In the past, I've mentioned that Hubs and I have committed to saving money and trying to accelerate some of our financial goals.  Over the past couple of months, Hubs and I have been making great progress on some of those goals, so we've felt comfortable splurging on a few things.  Boy, do I love a good splurge! 

In June, I found out that one of my favorite bands, O.A.R., was coming to St. Petersburg on the opening date of their Fall tour, and I just knew that tickets had to be one of our splurges!  What made it better was that they were playing as the post-game concert after a Rays baseball game.  Tickets to Rays games are pretty reasonable in price, but they get you on parking and concession prices every time.  Hubs and I haven't been to any Rays games yet this year, but this pairing made last night the ideal time to go.

A bird's eye view of the game

I've been a fan of O.A.R. for the past 5 years, and first discovered them when I picked up one of their live CDs on sale.  I heard that they opened for Dave Matthews Band on one of their tours, so I figured the music may be something up my alley.  I was wowed by their music and fell in love instantly because it's so upbeat and fun.  I've now seen O.A.R. live 4 times, and I'd see them more if they ventured down to Florida more often!

In case you're  less familiar with this band, O.A.R. stands for Of A Revolution, and the guys met in high school in Rockville, MD.  They kept the band going as students at Ohio State University, which is where the band gained popularity.  While I love that they were educated within the Big Ten, it burns me to love for Buckeyes so much!  It would be even more disgusting if I were a Wolverine (and I thank the good Lord that I'm not!). 

What does O.A.R. have that's so special?  Here are a few of my favorite things:
  • A drummer with a hot Jew 'fro
  • Asian guitarist with a pompadour
  • A killer horn section
  • A fan favorite song about poker
  • A little reggae vibe in some of their songs
We were sitting pretty far away from the stage at the ballpark, but the show was amazing and it was great to see so many fans singing along and dancing! 

We went to the game with my twin sister and her husband, who had a great time sharing in the ball game and concert experience.  Here are a few pictures...

The concert was awesome because they played so many of their big live anthems.  For an hour long set, they really made every song count and looked like they were having an amazing time.  While the Rays lost the game against the A's, the game was great and I'm glad we were able to make it to one this season. 

If you have a chance, check out a few O.A.R. songs on iTunes!  I recommend Shattered, A Crazy Game of Poker, Delicate Few, Night Shift and their latest song, Champions featuring B.o.B. which was written for the Olympics.  Enjoy!!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Super Smile

Every once in awhile, when I've had a crummy day, I hear a song on the radio that instantly shifts my mood from sour to smiling.  Today, I heard a kickin' old song, "No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn" by the Beastie Boys, and I lit up like a kid at Christmas!  I sang along.  I wiggled around while I was driving and stopped at traffic lights.  I made an ass out of myself in front of other drivers, who were surely pointing and laughing at me.  And guess what?  I didn't care!!  This unexpected song just made me happy at a time when I really needed it.  Hearing this song brought me back to my youth, where I jammed out to the Beasties' License to Ill album on the regular.

Rockin' this party 8 days a week!
Hearing this song also reminded me of Kate Spade's line a couple of years ago where they paid homage to No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn with a series of adorable accessories.

I wanted all of these accessories, especially the bangles.  So cute!! 
Have you heard a song that's made you smile big lately??

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Isn't She Lovely?

I have an obsession with home improvement and I'm always thinking about new projects for my house.  Some projects are big, some are small, but they all excite me.  Since I moved into this condo, I've put in all new flooring, new windows, a new storm door, and a new master bathroom.  The little projects along the way are countless.  I feel good about the projects I've taken on and look forward to several more this year.

Recently, when my cheapie, builder-grade kitchen faucet started having major water pressure issues (like a seriously flacid stream), I took it as a sign that I needed to invest in a really awesome new faucet.  No more of this chintzy stuff.  Lemme tell ya, kitchen faucets are like cars.  You go from really cheap Kia-like models that will last 5 years at best to really fancy-schmancy, Bently-esque models that may last you 15 years.  And you get what you pay for, so it's worth it to shell out more money for a quality product.  Hell, I just need something to dress up my ugly stainless steel sink!

Here's the before picture...

Blah.  Cheap and ugly.

 Our plumber came over tonight, and after chatting my husband's ear off, he replaced our awful faucet with this pretty li'l lady...

Isn't she lovely??  She's a Moen Annabelle.

For me, redoing my house is done one project at a time because I'm not working with much of a renvoation budget, and sometimes it's the smaller projects that make a big difference.  Who knew I'd get so excited about a silly faucet?! 

Have you taken on any new home projects lately??

Best-Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's time for me to confess something:  I'm a straight-up cookie snob.  I love, love, love cookies of all kinds, but I'm really picky about what I consider to be a GOOD cookie.  I like 'em soft, chewy and gooey.  Crunchy, crumbly, dry cookies are a total last resort for me.  They will only make their way to my mouth if I'm starving or being served by one of my near-and-dear family members, to whom I cannot say no. 

At work, people have brought in cookies and I think to myself, "That cookie looks like it will suck.  I'm not even going to try one to be polite.  I'll just tell them I'm back on my diet."  Usually the cookies are flat and over-baked, and in those cases, I'll usually pass unless I'm feeling some distinct peer pressure.  I just like what I like!  (Makes me sound like Sally from When Harry Met Sally, right?)  If I eat a lackluster cookie, I just feel like I wasted valuable calories/Weight Watchers points on something that wasn't worth it.  There's something to be said for being selective.

A few weeks ago, Hubs and I met my sister in West Palm Beach for the Dave Matthews Band show, and my sister brought the most amazing chocolate chip cookies to our tailg1-ate.  Hubs and I wound up taking them back to our hotel room after the show where we each ate 3 more cookies (they were small, but still, we ate 3 more apiece).  I HAD to have this recipe and make these on my own, and my sis finally gave it up!  It's the New York Times Best Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, and they are SO very delicious.  Yum-tastic.  Crave-inducing.  They will give you a food-gasm.  Mmm-hmm.

New York Times Best Chocolate Chip Cookie

Here's what you need:

2 cups minus 2 tbsp. cake flour
1-2/3 cups bread flour
1-1/4 tsp. baking soda
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 tsp. coarse salt (I had regular)
2-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1-1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/4 lbs. bittersweet chocolate (I used 1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips)

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt together and set aside.

In stand mixer, combine sugars and butter until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Mix in vanilla extract. 

Slowly add dry mixture and beat until just combined.  With a spatula, mix in chocolate chips.

Cover with plastic wrap, pressing plastic wrap onto dough, and chill for 24-36 hours.

Using a cookie scoop, form dough into golf ball-sized balls and place 3 inches apart on baking sheets.

The recipe says to bake 3-1/2 oz. dough balls at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes, but mine were a little smaller so I baked for 12 minutes and they turned out great, soft but golden brown.  Transfer to wire racks to cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to another rack to cool completely.

I didn't chill my dough for quite as long as the recipe called for, and I wish I had because I think it would have given me an even better result.  I would have also baked the cookies on parchment or Silpat lined baking sheets, so the chocolate chips didn't stick to my (supposedly) non-stick cookie sheets.  I think the key is following the recipe exactly, and you won't be let down.

These are some delicious cookies and I highly recommend them to any cookie snobs out there!!

Happy Baking!

Monday, August 20, 2012

August Birchbox Brag

Hello again!!  I'm linking up today to talk about my latest Birchbox, which was actually a really good one!  After a couple of disappointing boxes, I wasn't sure if I was going to continue with my subscription, but this box has given me renewed hope.  I feel good about the products I received and feel like I got my money's worth.

Here's my haul...

Schick Hydro Silk Razor
DDF Brightening Cleanser
Caldrea Hand Soap Samples (2)
Viva La Juicy La Fleur Sample
Pixi Beauty Beauty Blush in Purest Peach

I think this box had a few things going for it.  First, it has great variety.  A little make-up, a little skincare, a little perfume, a little miscellany.  I dig a box that hits all of those points.  Second, all of the items are things that I'll use!  I actually used the razor the day I got this box because I accidentally left my Venus razor at my sister's house last week.  Talk about great timing!  Third, the products were good sizes and came with some extras.  The Schick razor came with coupons for cartridge refills and shave gel, the DDF cleanser is more of a travel size than a sample, the Pixi blush is large (may even be full size) and the Juicy perfume sample had an atomizer on it.  They even gave me 2 hand soap samples.  It's the little things that make a big difference!
I've loved beauty products for as long as I can remember, and thanks to Birchbox, I've made some great beauty discoveries.  I'll stick around to see what Birchbox sends next month!

How does your box compare??

Sunday, August 19, 2012

August MyGlam Bag

I'm still in my review phase for comparing Birchbox and MyGlam, and this month yielded yet another great MyGlam bag.  My Birchbox review is coming tomorrow! 

MyGlam has really stepped up it's game!  When I first researched this subscription service, it looked like a little make-up with some not-so-recognizable brand names and some make-up brushes, tucked into a cheap little cosmetic bag.  It was intriguing, but I wasn't sold.  I gave it a try because I read that they were making their offerings better, and WOW, have the products improved!!  While the cosmetic bags are still cheap (the rainbow bag from last month fell apart in my hands last week), the products are great!! 

Check out this month's bag...

Orange Mesh and Hot Pink Bag
Circus by Andrea's Choice Nail Color in Spectacle (bright orange)
MyGlam Glam Gloss Lip Gloss
S.a.l.t.y. Cosmetics Glama-ZOID! Loose Luxury Mineral Eye Shadow (pale pink)
Demeter Roll-On Perfume Oil in Clean Skin
Eclos Moisture Therapy Regenerative Cream
Eclos Cellular Activator Facial Serum

This is the second month in a row that I've gotten a Circus nail polish.  Since I liked the one I got last month, this was welcome, but I'm not sold on the neon orange shade.  I think I can save it for the next time the Philadelphia Flyers come to town, so I can support Hubs and have nails that match his hockey jersey.

The Glam Gloss is a nice rosy shade of pink and it tastes like watermelon!  The last time I had a watermelon-flavored lip product was an old school Lip Smacker when I was in middle school.  Needless to say, it brought back lots of memories of teased hair, Skidz and Clearasil.  Thankfully, though, the color is nice and it's huge.  It will definitely get some play in my make-up bag!

The S.a.l.t.y. eye shadow is a pale pink shade, and I'll either use it as a base for layering other eye shadows or I'll use it to tone down a shadow that's a little too bright.  I've had good luck with other mineral eye shadows, so I have a good feeling about this one.  My initial trials have yielded good results.

The Demeter roll-on perfume oil was a surprise for me!  I'm a long-time fan of Demeter's fragrances, and I have always liked their cocktail-inspired scents.  This perfume oil is very lightly scented and not offensive.  It's sort of sweet, actually, as in uncomplicated, soft and feminine.  It will be a good addition to my travel make-up bag because of it's size.

Finally, we have the Eclos facial serum and regenerative cream are plant-based and are mean to slow the signs of aging.  As with all serums, it should be smoothed over skin BEFORE you put on your moisturizer (or in this case, the regenerative cream).  I'm getting to an age where I'm paying more attention to anti-aging products, but I don't really feel like I need them quite yet.  But the trick with anti-aging products is to start using them before your skin falls to hell, preserving your youthful skin versus trying to reverse the signs of aging (which is pretty difficult to do). Soooo, I need start using this stuff, pronto!  It's good that these "samples" will yield several uses so I can assess their effects.

The Verdict

Overall, another good bag!  I'm impressed.  It's a far cry from just a few months ago when the bag contained some cheap make-up brushes, orange lipstick and cheetah print nail art stickers.  Adios cheapies, aloha awesomeness!  They promised they'd improve their bags and they did in just a couple of short months.  Way to be, MyGlam!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

It's Okay

Hiya, I'm going to post a quickie It's Ok before running off to bed tonight to catch up on my beauty sleep.  This chica needs it BAD, say the dark circles under my eyes.  But It's Ok adds a much needed diversion to my cuh-ray-zay week, so I'm making the time!

It's Ok...

To not like everyone I meet

To wear cardigans in the summer, because it's cold indoors

To be happiest at home with Hubs and Bella, but still love going out with the girls

To feel like something's missing on days when I haven't talked to my twin sister

To dream about what I'd buy if I won a $300 million Powerball jackpot

To think that new show, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, is extraordinarily annoying

To be terrible at painting my own nails

To want to redecorate my whole house based on the latest Ikea catalog

To want a whole new wardrobe, this old one just isn't cutting it anymore

To laugh at inappropriate moments

To think 50 Shades wasn't as kinky as everyone said it was

To be proud of myself

To put off my ironing and sewing projects

To cook only once this week because life just got nutty and cooking wasn't in the cards

To make a-freaking-mazing cookies, but eat an obnoxious amount of cookie dough

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesday Catch-Up

Hey ladies!!  I can't believe it's already Tuesday night!  Where is this week going??  It's been a bumpy one already. 

Sunday was actually a good day, but it was really busy!  I started out the day by going to the dog park with Hubs and our friends Jess, Steve, Joe and Megan.  We gave the dog park a try, but I think our dogs weren't really fans.  I have always known that Bella doesn't care for dog parks, but we went with our friends to have a doggie play date.  Bella found her self at home right here:

That's right, she ended up hanging out with the guys instead of the other dogs.  That's my girl!! 

Here's a shot of the whole gang:

In the picture, from left to right, we have Sirius, Bella and Spartacus.  Thankfully they all get along great.  Well, Bella actually bosses the boys around, and the boys know who the queen bee is. 

After the dog park, I met up with my pal Becca and went to Nichole's Lia Sophia party.  I had never been to a Lia Sophia party before, and they actually had some really nice jewelry!  I ordered a few things, and I can't wait until they come in!

On Sunday night, I wrote out a LONG post for the Sunday Social, only to have my internet die on me for the rest of the night and the post was never saved.  SO, no Sunday Social post for me, even though I was pysched about the topic, food.  There will always be next week, I suppose.

On Sunday night I also realized that I had committed to visiting one of my company's retail stores on Tuesday, which happens to be an hour and a half long drive from home.  I wound up driving there on Monday night and staying overnight with my sister, who happens to live in that city.  It was super great to see my sis, her hubby and my puppy-nephew, Charlie, but the visit was far too short.  I did have fun sampling a new pumpkin beer and "shopping" in her closet of old clothes, though!

On Tuesday, I went to the retail store's meeting, then had lunch with my sister before heading back to Tampa.  On my way out of Tampa, I stopped for gas at one of Florida's first Wawa's, and stocked up on Tasty Kakes and coffee for Hubs.  He was so excited to see the haul when he got home!  I even found the crumb cake cupcakes he loves so much, winning me major wife points.

I went straight back to work, and wound up having a terrible afternoon.  I probably should have just worked from home the rest of the day, but I felt too much responsibility and didn't want to leave anything hanging.  I came home, had a good cry in the arms of Hubs, and we went out for enchiladas and margaritas.  There's something about mexican food and margaritas that always lifts my spirits, kind of like shopping and getting kisses from my dog.  It didn't hurt that my husband kept making me laugh, helping me to forget about my bad day.  He's just awesome like that!

Now I'm looking ahead and keeping my chin up, knowing that I'll be super busy for the rest of the week and hopefully won't have time to dwell on today's events.  Dwelling on stuff is always bad, and I resolve to do it less.  I'll put it on the list with eating sweets, driving fast and procrastinating on my housework.  Must. Do. It. Less.

On a positive note, I finished the 50 Shades of Grey series tonight and I got my August Birchbox today.  For once I feel like my Birchbox is pretty good!  I'm happy with the variety and types of products, so a new post is coming!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

It's Ok

Hap-Hap-Happy Thursday, friends!!  I've been having sort of a weirdo week, where I've probably said far too much, but hey, it happens sometimes.  People have been asking me to speak up lately, and I did in a big way this week.  Yay me (I think)!  It has inspired a fun post for today as I link up with Amber and Neely for It's Ok Thursday, so it can't be that bad!

It's Ok...

To get really gutsy and be a little too honest

To try to make a good first impression and sometimes fail miserably

To kiss with my eyes open (especially since my husband is cute)

To dream about kicking the ass of the guy who makes my best friend cry

To keep a 5 page to-do list, but forget to grab my coffee before work

To be thankful for things I didn't get, because life has turned out so much better without them

To feign surprise, but not be shocked like I was supposed to be

To miss how easy it was to diet before I met Hubs

To finally discover the wonders of Thermacare patches

To love cold pizza for breakfast

To like Weight Watchers Giant Fudge Bars because they remind me of Pudding Pops when I was a kid

To tell some to kiss off in my head, but smile and act sweet in front of them

To keep a spreadsheet for everything:  budget, debt payments, to-do's, concerts... you name it

I hope you guys are having a great week! 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Evolution of Friendships

Friendships are funny things.  They are constantly changing and adapting throughout one's life and they're unpredictable.  For some friends, one day you're in, the next day, you're out (Project Runway style).  For other friends, it's a lifelong commitment to staying together, weathering storms and supporting each other through life's ups and downs. 

Lately I've been thinking about my life and the friendships I've built along the way.  I have managed to make some amazing friends with great people with whom I share a common vision, and I'm extraordinarily grateful for those people's presence in my life.  They make me feel good, and we have a strong two-way bond that never leaves me questioning whether or not they'll be there for me if shit goes down.

I've struggled recently with justifying maintaining certain friendships that alway seem one-sided and suck the soul out of me at every turn.  Those aren't healthy friendships and I know it.  You should never dread talking to a friend, and while this doesn't happen to me frequently, I admit to having felt that way at certain times.  Am I a bad friend or have we just grown apart?  I reeeaally don't want to overthink it, but I'm my own worst enemy that way.  I never want to be a bad friend, and I don't know that these people think they're being bad friends.  Sometimes the lack of open communication just perpetuates the problem.

I've learned that friendships change over time, and while some friendships are long-term, others are short-term, and that's okay.  Different friendships serve different purposes.  I personally love my long-term friendships the most, but they can also be the most trying.  Conversely, some of my friendships from recent years have been incredible, and I'm so, so, so grateful for them.  They've also been relatively easy to maintain, though I'm not sure if they will stay that way forever.

I have one great longtime friend who doesn't call me much, but I care about her tremendously and think of her often.  I always hope she's doing okay, but since I don't hear from her unless I contact her first, I struggle to know whether or not she wants to remain friends.  I'm giving that one space and hoping that the answer will become clear in time.  If she's reading this, I hope she knows who she is and realizes that I want nothing more than to give her a great, big hug and tell her how much I miss her.

Another one of my girlfriends neared best friend status at one point my life, but after she had a baby, I practically never heard from her again.  She only wanted to spend time with other mothers and their babies, and she had no time for her single, baby-less pals.  I had a hard time reconciling this, but I decided not to torture myself.  Instead, I vowed to never be that kind of friend to others, the kind that falls off the planet once they get married or have a baby.  And so far I've been successful with that and I'm making it a priority.

Part of me has always avoided the hard conversations with certain friends because the thought of losing friends scared the bejeezus me.  But I got to thinking, I'm not losing out on much if all the person causes me is heartache and stress.  In fact, saying goodbye to those onetime friends might actually be a relief.  But the thought is still really hard on me, and it hasn't gotten easier over the years.

Going forward, I want to rid myself of the toxic, one-sided friendships and maintain the friendships where both parties give a damn.  I've effectively cut ties with one friend from high school who got mad at me for losing weight for my wedding.  Seriously, like I was a "sell out" for not wanting to be a fat(ter) bride.  I definitely don't need friends like that. 

I'm all for having relationships of mutual encouragement, laughter and kind gestures because I deserve it and so do you.  Love yourself enough to ditch the haters and focus on the friends who make a difference in your life.  We can all take a big sigh of relief when we've done that, and I'm starting now.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Weekend Lovin'

This past weekend was such sweet piece of relaxation.  Hubs and I drove down to my parents' house to celebrate my Mom's birthday.  Her birthday actually isn't until Tuesday, but seeing her mid-week would be hard with work and everything.  The weekend always works out much better.  My twin sister and her husband also came down, so we got to spend some quality family time together.  I really love my family, and being with them makes me feel so content.

On Saturday, we got to the 'rents' house and I took off with my mom and sister to go shopping.  I didn't go crazy, but I did manage to get some great deals on candles and car air fresheners at Yankee Candle and Bath and Body Works.  We got home, and we immediately hopped into the pool for some swimming (actually, there was very little swimming, we were mostly floating around while talking).  I put on sunscreen so I really didn't even get any color (booo) but Hubs got scorched.

In the evening, we went to my parents' country club to celebrate my Mom's birthday, and came back to the house for cake and ice cream.

My Mom also loved her presents!  We got her a Le Creuset Rectangular Covered Casserole dish with a new silicone turner and a box of lasagna noodles.  We also got her a new rubber-edged KitchenAid stand mixer paddle for her baking.

At night, the kids (that's us, by the way) went night swimming and my mom yelled at us for getting too loud when the neighbors were trying to sleep (it was 10:00pm).  Some things never change!

On Sunday, we all met up with my aunt, uncle, cousin and my cousin's boyfriend for lunch at Sharkey's On The Pier in Venice.  It was raining when we first got there, but the weather cleared up and it was a lovely afternoon. 

After lunch, we hung out with my family for awhile, then headed home to Tampa.  We always have a million things to do when we get home from a weekend there, but it's worth it to get away for a couple of days.

I hope you all had a great weekend, too!!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mascara & Lip Gloss Blog Swap

Happy Monday girlies!  I am linking up today with several amazing bloggers who have been so kind as to host a Mascara and Lip Gloss blog swap! 

I haven't participated in many blog swaps, but I couldn't say no to one focused on make-up.  Seriously, how much do I love mascara and lip gloss?!   A girl can never have too many of either, and I LOVE trying new brands and colors. 

My swap partner is Katy from Only In Vegas, who blogs about her awesome life in Sin City.  She is a make-up lover too, so I had a feeling we were going to find each other some fun stuff.  I know I had a lot of fun shopping for her!

Here's what I got from my partner:

Everything came with adorable pink heart-shaped sticky notes attached, with sweet commentary on each item.

And here's everything sans stickies.  I got...

L'Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes in Black
C.O. Bigelow Mentha Lip Shine in Vanillamint
C.O. Bigelow Mentha Lip Shine in Cinnamint
Girl Scouts Lip Smacker in Trefoils
e.l.f Eye Lid Primer
e.l.f. All Over Color Stick in Pink Lemonade
Clear Scalp & Hair Therapy Total Care Shampoo and Conditioner
NYX Eye Shadow in Sparkle Cedar
Sinful Colors Nail Polish (the sticker on the bottom was missing, note sure of the name)
Sinful Colors Nail Polish in Boogie Nights

I absolutely adore everything Katy sent me!!  First of all, the little sticky notes were a trip.  This was my favorite:

I love anyone who uses "" and can't help but laugh because it reminds me of my girlfriend, Tracy.  And yes, I LOVE B&BW lip products, and the Mentha products are my fave.  I don't have the Vanillamint or Cinnamint flavors, so these were a very welcome addition.  I also like that they're a little smaller than a typical lip gloss tube, so they fit well in my purse.  And I can't forget about the Trefoils lip gloss--too cute and too tasty!  Katy got it right with the lip gloss.

The mascara was fantastic!  I've really liked other L'Oreal mascaras in the past, but I hadn't tried the Voluminous Million Lashes before.  It's great for adding length without looking clumpy or goopy.

I was pleasantly surprised by all of the extras Katy threw in the box.  She REALLY knows how to maximize a swap budget!  I had always wanted to try e.l.f. products but I have never been able to find them.  The All Over Color Stick is a wonderful new product for me, because it gives me a healthy flush on my cheeks and it blends evenly.  The Eyelid Primer was a big surprise.  I've been looking for an eye make-up primer for awhile (and never could decide on which to try) because my eyeshadow has been disappearing after about an hour on my lids.  This primer really helped with that problem, and kept my eyeshadow looking bright and fresh all day.  The NYX eye shadow is a gorgeous gold color, and will act as a pretty neutral.  The shampoo and conditioner were another surprise, and they left my hair incredibly soft.  Finally, Katy sent me coral and turquoise nail polish because she knows that I'm obsessed with those colors right now!  I sense a super cute pedi coming on!!

Thanks so much to Katy for the fabulous new make-up!!  Check out her blog to see what I sent her!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sunday Social

Linking up tonight for the Sunday Social, and this week's theme is centered around my favorite season, Fall!

This weeks questions:

1. What is your favorite Fall activity?

Oh, I can't pick just one!!  I love going to college football games (Go Spartans!!), taking long walks to see the beautiful orange and yellow leaves (and hear them crunch underneath my feet), going to the pumpkin patch and cider mill, and decorating my house for Halloween and Thanksgiving.  Everything about Fall makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside!

2. Do you follow a football team? if so which one and why?
I am a huge Michigan State Spartans fan, because that's where I went for my undergrad degree and I grew up near the university.  I will always bleed green and white!!  Sparty (our mascot) even made a special appearance at my wedding reception.  Love that school and football team!!

3. What is something fun about Fall in your area?
I love that every local brewery brews pumpkin beer, the city has a huge Guavaween celebration in Ybor City, and hockey season begins (yay, Tampa Bay Lightning!).  Since I live in Florida, we don't have any other events that signal that it's fall--the leaves don't change colors or fall, we don't have pumpkin patches and we don't have cider mills.  Hmph.  Hell, it doesn't even begin to cool down until November!  But I'm not bitter or anything.  I'll just burn copious amounts of pumpkin spice candles, drink pumpkin spice lattes, and use pumpkin scented body products to get me in the mood!
4. Fav Fall outfit staples?
Cardigan sweaters, plaids and scarves are musts, and I like to pull out some corduroy pants for good measure.  I also change my handbag to a brown or black leather because it feels more cozy and sumptuous.

5. Thing you are looking forward to most about this coming Fall season?
Pumpkin (and maybe maple??) beer, all of the pumpkin goodies I mentioned a second a go, and LOTS of Saturdays watching football.  I'd like to go to a University of South Florida football game too, just to get some live game action (and it gives me an excuse to tailgate again!).

6. Favorite Fall holiday? Traditions?
Thanksgiving is my favorite.  I love the decorations, making a huge meal with my family and watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation after our feast.  

I'm pretty obsessed with Fall!!  If I could swing a trip to Philly or Michigan this fall, I totally would because there's nothing like Autumn in the north!

P.S.  Sorry about the lack of pictures tonight!  My computer isn't cooperating with me, but I'm going to get this ish figured out tomorriow!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

It's OK: Shopping Addition

Here we are, it's Thursday, and this week is just dragging by!!  I can't wait for it to be Friday, and it seems like it's never going to get here!  I had a fabulous night last night, where I Happy Hour'd to celebrate Donnie Craig's departure to Seattle, then I met up with Becca for fro yo and a Nordstrom Rack run, then I came home and went on a long walk with Hubs and my doggie.  Oh, and I got more 50 Shades reading in.  Talk about a totally satisfying, whirlwind of a night! 

And now we're here, a day and a half away from the weekend, and I'm linking up with Amber and Neely for It's OK!!  And this week's It's OK will be focused on one of my favorite topics, shopping.

It's OK... value shopping with others as well as shopping alone buy favorite items in multiple colors and fabrics be a window shopper and not buy a thing buy items one at a time, so my husband doesn't freak out about one big shopping trip stalk online sample sales hate certain popular styles (ahem, printed denim) say no to skinny jeans, no matter how hard stores push them fantasize about a clearance on something I've been dreaming about not put up with any crap from crazy, overbearing sales people buy shoes when you have no idea what you're going to wear them with, just 'cause they're cute wish that I had a part-time job working at Coach or Sephora, just for the discount be angry when a store stops carrying your size in their stores but still sells it online, where you have to pay shipping be indecisive and ask for products to be held while I make up my mind think that F21 has a bogus return policy give feedback to stores about their wildly inconsistent sizing and awful customer service be a snob about shopping bags (love paper or reusable, hate plastic) love coupons and be unashamed to use them be annoyed that plus sized clothing is rarely as cute as regular sized clothing love bargains and only buy things that are on sale like online shopping more than shopping in person go to certain malls to visit only one store, because it's pretty unsavory otherwise

Do you have any rants or raves about shopping?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

My Love Affair With Wawa

Once in awhile, on my travels to other places in this glorious country, I discover something new that makes me wish I'd had known about it forever.

I married a boy from Philadelphia, and on our first visit to Pennsylvania for the WMMR Cardboard Classic in the Poconos, he referred several times to having a favorite convenience store, Wawa.  I said, "Wa-what??" He said "It's Wawa and it's amazing.  You'll see."  I had never in my life cared about a convenience store, let alone had a favorite one or told other people about its merits. I have always thought that convenience stores were gross and I tried to use them sparingly.

While we were in the Poconos, we happened upon a Wawa near our hotel, and lo and behold, I learned the true magic of this store.  The best way I can describe Wawa is with an analogy.  Wawa is to 7-11 as Target is to Walmart.  It's CLEAN, well-lit, has delicious coffee, has fee-free ATMs (who has those anymore??) and they have all of the PA treats one can imagine.  They even have a deli counter with great sandwiches (sorry, "hoagies") and a HUGE display of Tasty Kakes (think much yummier Hostess style snacks)!  Thus began my love affair with Wawa.

Courtesy of

Everytime we go to Philly now, we stop at Wawa and load up on Tasty Kakes (I like the pies and the junior cakes), Bassett's ice cream, hoagies, soft pretzels and bags of Wawa coffee.  I never thought I could love a convenience store, until I met Wawa.  But my love was somewhat soured by the fact that I had to travel to PA to visit, since the chain is only located on the mid-Atlantic region.

Last September, I began talking to my co-worker Melissa about my husband being from Philly (and being a die-hard Flyers fan, to which she cringed), and I mentioned Wawa.  Her eyes lit up, and she told me that Wawa was coming to Florida!  Say what???  Wawa in Florida would be AMAZING, especially if they bring the Philly treats with them.  Since that time, I've been stalking the Wawa website and Facebook account for information on new Florida stores. There are locations coming to Orlando and Tampa Bay!  I also signed up to become a Wawa Florida Insider, and they said that some goodies would be on my way.

At the end of last week, my Wawa Florida Insider kit arrived in the mail!  Here's my swag...

They sent me:

Tote bag
Two bumper stickers
Three Cubicle signs
Temporary Tattoo

I was actually impressed with this stuff!  The t-shirt is really nice (definitely a good quality shirt), and the tote bag is zippered so I automatically love it.  Wawa has asked that we take pictures of ourselves modeling our Wawa t-shirts and share on Facebook and Twitter, so I think I'll do just that.  Girl's gotta represent!

One of the Wawa's is coming to Pinellas Park, not far from where I work, so I'll be paying Wawa a few visits after they open later this year.  Welcome to our neck of the woods, Wawa!

Have you ever heard about or been to a Wawa, and do you love it as much as I do?

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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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