Monday, December 31, 2012

A Farewell to 2012

It's already December 31st, and we're about to usher in the new year.  Can you believe that it's already the end of 2012??  Part of me thinks this was a pretty standard year up until August, then things went by so, so fast.  Like, I blinked and I missed it!

2012 wasn't one of my best years, but it certainly wasn't the worst either.  I went through some major changes at work, and it's made a lot of my year really difficult.  Then, Hubs and I went on a cruise for our first anniversary, but we both got food poisoning on the last night of our trip.  I also got super sick from some germs I picked up on the cruise and was sick for two weeks afterward.  Not cool at all.  Hubs also stopped working at the radio station, so we lost our free concert benefits.  But actually, that has actually turned out to be a good thing.  For the first time since we've known each other (that's 4-1/2 years, folks), we were able to spend all of our weekends around the holidays together, and I loved every minute of it!

Even though a few things didn't go so well, and I can't let those things overshadow so many other wonderful things that happened.  I celebrated my first anniversary with my cute husband, who I love more than anything and feel thankful to call my own.  Also, Hubs got a sweet new job this year, and he really loves it.  This job was a blessing for us, and it's great to see my man come home happy and joking after a long day of work.  That seriously never happened before!  We also had an aggressive debt repayment plan, and we paid off several major debts this year.  Talk about liberating!  This has allowed us to make a few big purchases this year, like new appliances and Hubs' LASIK.  I feel like we had some very fortunate times and lots of smiles, so I can call this year a success.

I'm really looking forward to 2013 because I have so much on the horizon.  We're hoping to buy a new house, I'm setting new personal goals... and we may even start thinking about having a baby.  I'm just giddy at the thought of what the new year might bring! 

Hubs and I have a nice little New Year's Eve party for two going over here.  We have some great wine to sip, we watched Brave (thanks to my hubby's last minute Redbox raid), and we have some great smelling B&BW candles lit.  I also made pulled pork for dinner, as well as delicious Mr. Goodbar brownies, so we're closing our year on a high note.  I even chilled a bottle of champagne off the wine rack for some midnight toasting.  YAY!

Best wishes for a happy New Year ladies!!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Very Lovely Christmas & Birthday

Hi Girls!  I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas!  Mine was so wonderful, and I wished that it didn't have to come to an end.  (sigh)

I had this entire week off from work, and I just loved having some time to myself this year.  Hubs worked for most of the week (thanks to starting a new job this year and not having much vacation time), leaving me to sleep in, run errands and do whatever the heck I wanted.  I could really get used to this, but I can't because mama has to bring home the bacon. 

 
The Sunday before Christmas, I went with the Tampa Junior Women's Club to volunteer with Metropolitan Ministries, a HUGE food and toy bank that gives holiday meals and children's toys to those less fortunate.  My pal Tracy and I worked at Turkey Slingers, handing out frozen turkeys, chickens and hams to families that came through.  It was really touching to meet people who were so grateful for the food, and they were so very gracious.  It warmed my heart to see peoples' faces light up when we handed them a 20 lb turkey that would likely feed their family for several hearty meals.

They made us wear their t-shirts over our thick sweaters, so we just look lumpy. 
I was reminded that charity isn't a fashion show.

I just started getting silly, like riding around in the turkey wagon!
Metropolitan Ministries is a great organization and hopefully I'll get to do service with them again next year.

On Christmas Eve, I work up early and was busy all darn day!  Yep, even on my day off, I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off.  I had to run a never-ending list of errands, make a pepperoni pizza monkey bread, make a batch of chocolate covered pretzels, and pack my bags for our trip to my sister's house.  Hubs came home, helped me pack up the car, and we were off ot Orlando!

Hubs and I arrived in Orlando around 6:30 pm, and were greeted by the Roberts family welcoming committee:  My twin sister, my brother-in-law, my parents and my dog-nephew, Charlie the ginormous dachshund.  I loved getting there and seeing all of my favorite people in one place.  We unloaded the car, popped the monkey bread in the oven, and settled in for a super awesome holiday.

The Roberts women are ready to party, and Charlie photobombed our picture.

A gorgeous tree and a ton of presents.  We love to spoil each other!
One of my family's Christmas traditions is to open gifts on Christmas Eve.  We've been doing this since I was a kid, when we'd always host a huge celebration Christmas Day for my extended family.  My mom didn't want to have to clean up a big mess on Christmas morning, so we always exchanged presents the night before.  My mom is a little neurotic about keeping a pristine looking house, so it's no surprise that she wouldn't want a mess to deal with on Christmas morning.

In recent years, we also started doing heavy appetizers and desserts for Christmas Eve dinner, and we've all really enjoyed it.  We used to go out for a fancy dinner on Christmas Eve, but the finger foods just seem like more fun.

Our Christmas Eve appetizer and junk food buffet was glorious
Of course we also brought Bella, who got dressed up in her Christmas finery.  Isn't she cute?


Bella donning her velvet Christmas dress, and Charlie's wearing his birthday suit

We opened our presents, drank veeeerrrry strong eggnog (I had to cut mine with milk just to get it down), and watched Christmas movies.  It was the perfect Christmas Eve!  I have to give props to my family for giving me great gifts this year.  It's evident that they paid attention to my wants and needs, and who can argue with getting so many things on your wishlist??  Certainly not me.  Here are some of the things I got...

Gifts from the 'rents

These are my gifts from Hubs.  I loved everything!

My favorite gift is the framed photo in the upper right corner of the picture.  That's a picture of my great grandmother holding me shortly after I was born.  She crocheted my childhood blanket that I carried around with my for years (I was like Linus with that thing).  I still have what's left of that blanket (it's basically just a ball of shredded yarn now) in a box in my closet today.  Hubs found one section that wasn't completely destroyed and framed it along with my picture.  I broke down in tears when I opened this because it is the most thoughtful gift I have EVER received.  Bravo to Hubs!

My sister and brother-in-law got me a new Cuisinart coffee maker and a deep dish pizza stone, which I can't wait to break out for dinner next week!  Like I said before, I got spoiled!

So this was a really special Christmas, and it was my sister's first time hosting our Christmas festivities.  She did a spectacular job!  She thought of everything, just like my mom always does, so things went so smoothly.  I don't know if I'd do quite as well at hosting everyone (knowing what perfectionists my mom and sister are about this stuff makes it a tad bit intimidating), but maybe I'll get a chance to run the show one day.  And when that happens, I'll wow them with my amazing organization and hosting skills!

On Christmas Day, my brother-in-law made us his famous breakfast burritos and we had an early dinner since Hubs needed to drive home (he had to work on the 26th).  I ended up staying behind to spend a couple of extra days with the family, and it was just what I needed.  While I missed Hubs, it was nice to hang with the fam a little more. 

On the Tuesday the 26th, my mom and I took my sister to do her baby registries at Target and BuyBuyBaby!  I admit that I know ZERO about babies, so I was really just there for emotional support, but we had a blast.  I really can't believe how much stuff babies need!  Thank goodness my sister is going through this first so I can learn a few things before I have kids of my own.

On Wednesday, the 27th, I celebrated my birthday with my sister.  We went out to brunch, ate chocolate fudge cupcakes and exchanged presents.  She knows me so well and got me a Target gift card and Heaven perfume from The Gap (which I've been wearing since high school). 

My Happy Birthday cuppy cake

No hats or decorations this year, we were just happy to spend our birthday together!
My parents gave me a lift back to Tampa, and had a couple of important meetings to attend before Hubs came home from work.  He got home right on time, and whisked me off to The Columbia in Ybor City for some super delicious Cuban food.  It really doesn't get any better than this place, which has been a working restaurant in the same family since 1905.

This is the place, a true landmark in Tampa

Inside of this beautiful restaurant, still decorated for the holidays

Me, with the first of many glasses of white sangria

My, my... my cheeks were very rosy from all of that sangria!
I got some great birthday presents this year, like the things below from Hubs and my sister... I <3 family="family" my="my" p="p">


My husband, who is the sweetest man alive, had flowers waiting for me when I arrived home and brought a birthday cake home for me.  When we got back to the house from dinner, we cut into the cake, and it was my favorite:  vanilla cake with fresh strawberry filling!  I was stoked that Hubs did that for me, because I was convinced that I wasn't getting a cake this year.

My favorite birthday cake

And after that, I was officially stuffed.  Like, "put a fork in me, I'm done" kind of stuffed.  I wound up hitting hay at a reasonable hour because I was in a carb coma, and the only thing you can do it ride it out.

I feel so blessed to have had such a great Christmas and birthday this year.  My family and friends spoiled me, and reminded me about how much love I have in my life.  I just know that 2013 is going to be a great year, and I'm excited to see what's coming in the months ahead.

Hope you all had a great Christmas, too!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

December Popsugar Must Have Box

Ahhhh, the big reveal!  I was really excited to see what Popsugar would send for their December Must Have box, since previous boxes have been outstanding in value and quality. 

If you're not acquainted with Popsugar's Must Have box, it's a subscription service costing $35 per month that sends you high quality lifestyle products.  The boxes may have beauty products, drinkware, clothing or accessories, food, or a myriad of other fabulous products.  The value of the boxes is always far greater than $35, so it's a great investment.  If you want to give this service a try, use the code REFERFRIENDS to get $5 off your first order.

Without further ado, here's the December box...


Clockwise from lower left:
 
Bogdon's Peppermint Poles ($3.99)
Bodum Bistro Mugs ($39.99)
GoSwype ($1.99)
Jaboneria Marianella Soap ($14.00)
Pinch Provisions Minimergency Kit ($15.00)

Tea Forte Sampler ($15.00)
$30 Rent the Runway Coupon ($30.00)
 
Total Value:  $119.97
 
 This month was very different from last month's box, but I think that's a good thing!  The variety in these boxes is great because you're always discovering something new. 
 
The Bogdon's Peppermint Poles are chocolate covered peppermint sticks, which will be great in my cocoa.  They're also pretty great just to nibble on by themselves.
 
The Bodum bistro mugs are AMAZING!  They're double walled for insulation to keep cold things cold and warm things warm, and they're pretty too.  You have no need to use a coaster with these mugs since they supposedly don't sweat, which is great because my husband rarely remembers to use a coaster.  They're like glass Tervis mugs, and you know how much I love those!
 
The GoSwype tech wipes clean the screens of your electronics and kill 98% of germs.  While this is a nice little wipe for my gadgets, I don't know how much I'll really use it.
 
The Marianella soap is a moisturizing milk bar, and will be a nice addition to my shower.  I'm weird and use both bar soap and shower gel every day (because I like to get squeaky clean), so I look forward to breaking this out!
 
The Minimergency kit is so fun, and I already have this in my purse.  It includes many essentials that you may need on the fly, like breath drops, lip balm, clear nail polish, a tampon, a nail file, dental floss, a sewing kit, band aids, Advil, double-sided tape, nail polish remover, deodorant, and stain remover.  My kit was missing the earring backs and my bottle of hairspray was actually cracked and empty.  Hmph. 
 
The Tea Forte looks great, and I am giving it to my husband.  He's the tea drinker in our house.  I usually only drink iced tea and only drink hot tea when I'm sick, but I may give these teas a try next time I'm feeling under the weather.
 
The Rent the Runway coupon may come in useful.  I would most likely rent handbags or jewelry, so I'm going to save this coupon for when I have a great party to attend next year.
 
Overall, this was a great box filled with good quality products, many of which will get LOTS of use.  Some people out there were not pleased with this box, claiming that it didn't have the value of previous boxes and the products weren't exciting.  The value is still far more that what I've paid for it, so I'm happy with it.  Winner winner chicken dinner!
 
Did you like your Popsugar Must Have box?  What was your favorite part?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!

From my home to yours, I wish you the very merriest of Christmases and a bright and blessed new year.  For those of you who don't celebrate Christmas, I wish you a happy holiday season. 

I hope everyone's holidays are filled with love and joy!



Sunday, December 23, 2012

Living and Loving Through The Holidays

I have been such a busy girl this December!  I feel like things have been go, go, going with nary a break for Starbucks or other little diversions.  Amidst the craziness, I have found time to get the important things done:  buy and wrap all of my presents, get a pedicure, bake, and indulge in every single Holiday-related thing I can.  Here are some of my favorite events from the past week...

COOKIE BAKING

'Tis the season for consuming insane amounts of yummy goodies with family and friends!!  I LOVE baking, so this time of year is where I'm in my element.  Last weekend I baked 12 dozen cookies both on my own and with my twin sister, causing me to wash umpteen pots, pans, bowls and spatulas over the course of two days.  My sister and I had a blast, especially decorating our famous soft sour cream sugar cookies. 

Our cookie decorating operation in full force.

Our finished products
It's just not Christmas without Peanut Butter Blossoms

I also baked M&M cookies, mint chocolate chip cookies and snickerdoodles, and I whipped up a huge batch of Buckeyes.  YUM!  I had to sent 4 dozen cookies to work with Hubs, some home with my sister for our family Christmas next week, and keep some for us to munch on.  Thankfully they're all delicious!

HOLIDAY PARTIES

Between work parties and my Tampa Juniors party, we have been going all over the place!   One good thing is that our normal holiday party with our friends has been postponed until after the new year, so that's one less party to hit this December. 

Tracy and I before we left the Tampa Juniors party and headed to Yoko's for sushi

Hubby's last night with glasses!

HUBS GOT LASIK
 
My sweet man FINALLY got LASIK a week ago, and I've been helping him in his recovery.  Hubs was like me, he'd had glasses since he was a pre-teen, and was just dying to know life without them.  A life of being able to see when you swim.  A life of buying whichever sunglasses you want.  A life of being able to see clearly in the shower and when you first roll out of bed.  It's truly glorious, and I'm stoked that Hubs now gets to experience this, too.
 
Pre-op:  Prepped and ready for the procedure.  The green dot meant that they were doing both eyes.
Post-LASIK Goggles are sexy
Speaking of those goggles, doesn't he kind of look like the "I like the tin man" kid from A Christmas Story??  Too cute!
 
CHECKING OUT CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
 
Are we the only people who love driving around and checking out peoples' Christmas lights?!  I didn't think so.  I look forward to doing this every year!  We always make a point to drive through our area of town, as well as take a trip up to the Chick-fil-A on Waters to see their spectacular Christmas lights.  They're unbelievable!  Here are a few pictures from this year...
 
Lights on anything that's standing still
 
They had a nativity, angels and Santas... pretty much anything you can imagine
 
The cinema
 
They blocked off a drive-through lane to set up a movie screen, which showed The Polar Express to people in folding chairs and bleachers.  Yes, they set up bleachers!  People from the restaurant handed out bags of popcorn and reusable shopping bags with Chick-fil-A PEZ dispensers to everyone too, which was a nice touch.  While we were there, Hubs and I got our requisite Peppermint Chocolate Chip Milkshakes, making our Christmas light viewing trip complete.
 
As I write this, I'm watching Love Actually and looking at my husband, feeling grateful for the love I always feel throughout the holidays.  I'm reminded of my blessings, and that's what the Christmas season brings.  Now there are just a few days left until Christmas, followed closely by my birthday.  The next week is going to be marvelous!!

December Ipsy vs. Birchbox

Well, well, well, it's that time again girlies.  Time for the December Ipsy vs. Birchbox comparison! 

I just love doing a good compare-and-contrast on these subscription services because people often ask me which one I like better and why.  The answer is that I really like both of them, and that some months are better for one than another, noting that this is all based on personal preference.  Seeing the boxes together only helps people make smart decisions about which box may appeal to them more.  Hopefully you find this month's comparison helpful!

 
Birchbox
 

 
L to R:
Cartier Baiser Vole Eau de Parfum
Frownies Eye Gels
The Balm Hot Mama! Blush/Eye Shadow
Ahava Dermud Intensive Foot Cream
Number 4 Clarifying Shampoo
Cartier Declaration d'un Soir (Birchbox Man)
 
 I was pleasantly surprised by this Birchbox, because I finally felt like I received a good number of quality samples.  The Cartier perfume sample was fine, but nothing that I was wowed by.  But in all fairness, it takes a lot to wow me when it comes to perfume.  Hubs didn't care for the mens sample and threw it in the trash immediately, so I guess he won't be buying the full-size version!  I loved seeing a package of the Frownies eye gels because I bought some of these for my mom last Christmas.  She loves them and feels like they help her under eye circles.  Since my dark circles of made a reappearance, I think I'm going to give these a try tonight.  The Clarifying Shampoo was a good size and made my hair feel clean without completely stripping the oils.  I just don't love low lather shampoos, because the lather is what makes me feel like it's doing something!  I know, it's totally psychological.  The Hot Mama! blush/eye shadow is pretty nice, but the sample pan is too small to use as a blush (I can hardly get any of it on a fluffy blush brush).  I like it as a shimmery neutral eye shadow though!  I also gave the Ahava foot cream a whirl and it's both pleasant smelling and incredibly moisturizing.  I loved how it absorbed quickly and didn't leave my feet feeling slick.
 
One little bonus in the box this month was a $50 coupon for Rent the Runway!  Thanks Birchbox!
 
 
Ipsy Glam Bag
 
 
 
L to R:
Mirabella Prime for Face & Eyes
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil - Black
Bombshell Lip Gloss - Hot Mess
NYX Loose Pearl Eye Shadow - Mocha Pearl
Mai Couture Highligher Papier
 
I thought this was one of the best Ipsy bags to date!  The Mirabella primer was great, but I'm a newbie to primers so I don't have much to compare it to.  It gave my skin a nice finish and my make-up layered on beautifully.  The UD eye pencil was a big score for me because I've been wanting to try this for awhile.  While I don't need yet another black eye pencil, this formula really does glide on easily and it LASTS.  I mean, it does not come off without scrubbing with soap and water, so it wins my prize for best eye pencil longevity.  I totally see what the hype was about.  The Bombshell lip gloss was full size and is a nice sheer red.  While I did feel like the color made me look a bit "tarted up", that's only because I don't typically wear such bright lip colors.  The formula was smooth and wasn't too sticky, so those are pluses.  The NYX loose eye shadow was... well, it reminded me of why I usually hate loose eye shadows.  I always make a huge mess with them, meaning that they get all over my counters, my shirt, my face, everything.  And this time was no exception!  I think the color is dramatic, though, so I may be able to use this again if I can learn to control the mess.  Finally, the Mai Couture highlighter paper was a nice alternative to my usual Benefit High Beam highlighter, and was fairly subtle.  I think these will get used a lot!
 
Finally, I love the silver bag that the products came in this month.  This has become the new make-up bag for my purse because it's simple and well-made.  Ipsy has really upped the ante by improving the quality of their bags over the past few months.  Hats off to you, Ipsy!
 
The Verdict
 
This month's decision was a tough one because both had great elements.  The winner is... Birchbox!  Kudos to Birchbox for sending me a great mix of products this month and leaving me anxious for next month's box.  I also think Ipsy has done a great job with improving the quality of it's products over the months that I've been subscribing, and the offerings get better each month.
 
Which box/bag did you prefer this month??

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ornament Swap Reveal

Recently I took part in an ornament swap hosted by Rachel from Simple.Little.Joys.  I was Rachel's swap partner for a  fall swap and got to know her awesome blog a few months ago.  I also made her Cinnamon Streusel Pumpkin Bread recipe and it was the bomb.com! 

Anyway, for this swap I was partnered with Taber from Taber Time.  Her blog is so cute and I'm glad to see that she got the snowman ornament that I sent her!

Here's the very cute ornament that I got from Taber:


I love hot pink ornaments for trees, but I really don't have many.  Most of mine are red, green, silver, gold...the traditional Christmas colors.  This was a perfect addition to my collection, and hopefully the first of many fun colored ornaments.  And yes, that's my reflection in the ornament.  Don't worry, I said 'cheese'! 

Wishing you a happy Saturday-before-Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Cozy Holiday Link-Up

It's mid-December, and today was a much chillier day here in sunny Florida.  It's finally starting to feel like the beginning of winter!  I'm so glad to finally break out my hoodies, pea coats and Crock Pot for the season.

Now that it's starting to feel a little more like the holidays, I'm linking up with Neely and Nicholl for the Cozy Holiday Link-up!



What makes you feel comfy and cozy?  For me, it's snuggly, warm things that take the chill off.  I just can't get enough of things for cold weather, even when I'm surrounded by sunshine and palm trees.  Here are a few of my favorite things to keep me toasty...






 
 
 
 
 
 


Kraft Peppermint Marshmallows
(especially in hot cocoa)
Amy's Chunky Tomato Bisque Soup
(preferably with a grilled cheese sandwich)
 
 
 
 
 
Just thinking about these things makes me all warm and fuzzy inside!!  I'm looking forward to making these things being a regular part of my winter life.  And YES, it does get cold here in Florida, at least for a little while!  I actually think we're in for a colder winter than usual since the last couple have been so mild.  And even if it never gets all that cold, I'll indulge in the cozy things with my AC blasting to make me feel like it's winter!  That's what a northern girl like me does.  We just can't break ourselves of flannel and warm goodness.
 
What's your favorite cozy indulgence?

Happiness Is...

During this magical holiday season, so many things bring a smile to my face and instantly brighten my day.  I've had some stressful days over the past couple of months, but certain things never cease to bring happiness to my heart.  Here are a few of them:

 
Hugs from my love at the end of the day
 
Kisses from a shaggy puppy
 
Ornaments on my Christmas tree that remind me of a particular point in time
 
Surprise presents that are super thoughtful
 
My favorite Christmas cookies (sour cream sugar cookies)
 
Cakebread Chardonnay
 
Good news at an unexpected time
 
Smelling my Bath and Body Works Fresh Balsam candle while I stare at the Christmas tree
 
Phone calls from my friends, just because
 
Peppermint Milkshakes from Chick-fil-A
 
Glittery nail polish on my toes
 
Compliments about my "youthful" appearance
 
A coupon for my favorite restaurant
 
Seeing ultrasound pictures of my twin sister's baby 
 

I'm so thankful for these nuggets of sunshine in my life!  While 2013 has had some difficult moments, I have a feeling that 2013 is going to be a great year.  I've been feeling quite thankful lately, and for so many different things.  Thankful to have a stable job.  Thankful to have an amazing, silly, loving husband who makes me giggle every day.  Thankful to have the best family anyone could ask for.  Thankful to have so many wonderful things that bring me joy.  Yup, I'm ridiculously lucky!

What happy little things bring a smile to your face this holiday season?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Loving My Cosmo VoxBox

Hey there girlies! 

A couple of weeks ago, I was sent one of the coveted Cosmo VoxBoxes from Influenster.  This was my first VoxBox after being a member of the site, and I was super excited to finally be chosen for one of these bad boys.  I've seen other bloggers post about the VoxBoxes they received and always wanted one of my very own. 

So here are the contents of this little box of happiness:


This VoxBox included a large Ghirardelli Sea Salt Escape chocolate bar, a small Forever Red fragrance from Bath and Body Works, two Pilot Frixion pens and a Gillette Venus Embrace razor with an additional Olay razor head.

I've had a chance to sample all of the products, and I feel like I got some great goodies. 

Everyone knows that Ghirardelli makes amazing chocolate treats, and this was my first time trying Sea Salt Escape.  WOW, is it ever delish!  If you love treats that are both sweet and salty like I do, you've got to try this.  This bar is of the milk chocolate persuasion, with almonds and sea salt to spice it up.  It kind of reminded me of eating a chocolate covered potato chip.  Yum!

The Forever Red fragrance from Bath and Body Works was also a great addition.  I'm a Bath and Body Works junkie and while I've seen this fragrance in the stores, I hadn't tried it.  The fragrance is a mix of fruits, florals and musky tones, so it may appeal to a wide audience.  Here are the scents that create this pretty frangrance...

  • Top Notes: Fiery Pomegranate, Rare French Peach, Luminous Apple
  • Mid Notes: Red Peony, Night Marigold, Red Osmanthus
  • Dry Notes: Rich Vanilla Rum, Velvety Marshmallow, Oak Wood

  • My first reaction the fragrance was that it seemed a bit strong, but it's an eau de parfum, so it should be!   I wore it out to dinner with my husband, and that's when the magic happened. The dry down of this fragrance is far better than the top notes, in my opinion, and it wore very well.  I really enjoyed it, and so did my hubby!

    Next, I got a Venus Embrace razor with an additional Olay razor head.  I've been using Venus razors for years, but hadn't tried the Embrace or the Olay heads.  Both heads have 5 blades for maximum smoothness, which we're all looking for, right?  The Embrace is a standard razor head, while the Olay head includes two Olay Moisture Bars, which release skin conditioners to help prevent dryness. Both heads gave me a very close shave and I'm never going back to a 3-blade razor head again!  The Olay head was great and added a lot of moisture, but I didn't particularly need it with my ultra-moisturizing shave cream.  But in the cold, dry winter months, more moisture never hurts!  All in all, both were winners.

    The Pilot Frixion Pens were the unlikely heroes of the box.  These are erasable pens, and Influenster sent one in red and one in black.  I used the black pen to write all of my Christmas cards, and I am in love!  This pen writes fluidly and with minimal drag on the page.  Also, this ink does not smear, which is HUGE for us lefties, who typically drag our hands through whatever we've just written.  What's also great is that the ink is erasable, and what's awesome is that it erases so cleanly!!  I've never used an erasable pen that delivered like this one does.  Even my husband, who could usually care less about pens, asked me where I got this pen and wondered if we had anymore.  He loved the way it wrote, too!

    So there you have it, my lovely VoxBox was as awesome as I hoped it would be.  Thanks to Influenster for sending me this box of love!

    If you got a VoxBox, what was your favorite product?
     

    Saturday, December 15, 2012

    My Christmas List ~ Part 2

    Aaah yes, we're in the thick of the holiday season, where people are out on the roads in droves trying to snag gifts for everyone on their list.  But they're not necessarily giving tidings of comfort and joy to their neighbors, as they cut people off in traffic and don't let people merge into their lanes.  Though I can't say that about the motorcycle gang I passed today, that had Christmas music blaring and stuffed Santas strapped to the backs of their hogs.  They were a very festive and friendly bunch!

    But I'm not here to talk about crazy people celebrating the holidays.  What I'm really here to do is tell you about my second Christmas list. 

    The other day I posted my regular Christmas list, which had attainable, realistic presents that I'd love to open on the big holiday.  Everything on the list had price points under $100 so no one has to go broke trying to make me happy.  My second Christmas list, which I made only for my husband and parents, is full of gifts that are total long-shots.  I mean, I don't belong to a family of big spenders, but I still felt like I needed to put my wants and desires out there for the universe and my loved ones to see.  And I know they laughed out loud at my audacity to ask for such spendy gifts.

    Here are some items from my never-gonna-happen list...
     
    Large Jewelry Armoire
    Powell via Amazon.com
    I already have a jewelry armoire, but it's stuffed full and I need a larger one, like this one that has drawers that go all the way down to the floor.
     
     
    Tory Burch Flats
     
    ToryBurch.com
     
    I want these, but can never justify spending $235 on them.  But I want them badly.
     
     
    Michael Kors Watch
     
    Macys.com

    Something similar to this little rose gold number.  She's pretty, isn't she?
     

    Camera
    Target.com
    I actually bought myself this camera on a great Black Friday sale because I really needed it and Hubs told me he wasn't getting it for me.  So, Merry Christmas to me!!
     
     
    Coach Handbag
     
    Coach.com
    I've been wanting a new Coach bag forever, and it's time that a new one joined the brood.
    
     
     
    So there are my long-shot wishes.  I am going to hold out a little hope that maybe one of these babies will find their way underneath my Christmas tree.  Merry Christmas!!

    Friday, December 14, 2012

    Torani Syrups ~ A Review

    Hello, my name is Kari, and I'm addicted to sugar. 

    Regular sugar or faux sugar, it matters not.  I just love sweets!  Sometimes I feel like Buddy the Elf, where my favorite food groups are candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup.  Yummy flavored syrups, to be exact, and none are better than Torani flavored syrups.

    I've been a fan of Torani syrups for years, and have used them mainly in coffee and cocktails.  I hear that they can also be a nice addition to a food recipe, but I haven't gotten beyond beverages and food toppings.  Starbucks uses them, as does one of my favorite fro yo and health food shops, D'Lites, so I know they're great quality.  The flavors are always bold and just sweet enough to appease me.  Mmmm!

    I received two bottles of Torani syrups to try out, and I received the Gingerbread and Sugar-Free Salted Caramel flavors.  Both were flavors I'd never tried before, and since I'm always up for trying new drinks, I got right on sampling them!


    I tried both in my coffee and hot cocoa, and they were excellent!  They really elevated my morning drink experience.

    No two flavors get me in the mood for Christmas like Gingerbread and Peppermint, and I LOVED the Gingerbread syrup in my morning brew.  I have been using WaWa coffee lately, and this complemented the flavor nicely.  I appreciated the spiciness without it being too overpowering.  I didn't need much of it, only a half tablespoon or so, just to get just enough of the flavor.

    I also tried the Sugar-Free Salted Caramel syrup, and was pleasantly surprised.  It was really tasty and didn't have that weird, chemical-y aftertaste that some syrups have.  Win!  I also used this as a drizzle over some vanilla ice cream and it was yummy that way too.  This is a very versatile product!

    If you're interested in an adult beverage, I also tried a shot mixing a little of the Gingerbread syrup with vanilla vodka.  Um, YES, it was amazing!  I think it would also be good with whipped cream flavored vodka, maybe even cake flavored vodka. 

    Give these syrups a try and you won't be sorry!  You can pick these up at many local grocery stores, health food stores and shop.Torani.com, and they run about $7-$8 per 750 ml bottle.  Considering how long a bottle of this lasts, the price isn't bad, especially when you can get the taste of gourmet coffee for a fraction of the price.  Torani syrups will continue to have a place in my pantry as long as they continue making such delicious regular and sugar-free flavors!


    This post is sponsored by SheSpeaks and Torani, but the thoughts and opinions on these products are entirely my own.

    Tuesday, December 11, 2012

    The Best Christmas Movies of All Time

    The most wonderful time of the year is upon us once more, and I'm loving all things Christmas.  I actually fancy myself somewhat of a Christmas connoissuer.  I have dozens of Christmas CDs (yep, those pesky old things) with various types and Christmas movies that could go on for days.  I just can't get enough of Christmas!

    Today I'm talking about Christmas movies.  I have an arsenal of Christmas movies that could melt even the coldest of hearts, and they never cease to bring a smile to my face even after a hard day.  Here are some of my faves...
     
     I can recite most of this movie by heart. I especially love the Sister song! 

    Santa!!  I know him!
     
     
    Orlando!  Cootie Kate!

    This makes me laugh until I cry and breaks my heart, too.  Winner!
     
    Just what I'd imagine Christmas in LA and England to be like.
     
    One of my all-time favorites!  I just want to give Emmet Otter a big bear hug!

    Cousin Eddie and Clark are a match made in comedy heaven.

    I love that old man's whiskers!
     
     I used to find this movie depressing, but I've grown to love its message of friendship and community.
     
    This is just how I would envision the real Santa Clause to be!
     
    Honorable Mentions go to A Christmas Carol, Home Alone, Nightmare Before Christmas, Polar Express, Bad Santa, Christmas with the Kranks, and all of the Tim Allen Santa Clause movies.  Such great movies that I always look forward to seeing around the holidays.

    And of course, we can't forget about Christmas TV classics!  My personal must-watch Christmas TV specials are Charlie Brown Christmas (of course!), Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty The Snowman, and Garfield Christmas.

    I have already started watching Christmas movies, and more are on the docket for this week.  My poor husband probably thinks these movies are corny, but they make me super happy!

    What's your favorite Christmas movie?

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    Tampa, Florida, United States
    I'm a wife, daughter and amazing twin sister. I'm a mom to my adorable dog, Bella. Loves: Shopping, cooking, baking, good grammar and Dave Matthews Band. I'm also a Bath and Body Works addict, a Michigan State Spartans fanatic, and an iPhone aficionado. I see beauty in simple things and little things make me ever-so-happy. Welcome to my world!


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