Thursday, February 28, 2013

February Birchbox vs. Ipsy

As we all know, this was Oscars month, so both Ipsy and Birchbox delivered products with the theme "Red Carpet Ready".  Great minds think alike, right?  Well, it's great to see that both companies had different ideas of what it takes to get ready for a big event, so the product variety between the box and bag was great.  To be honest, it would take a lot more than these products to get me red carpet ready, but I digress.

Here are this month's goodies, going head to head to see which service gives me better Red Carpet Ready products...

Birchbox


L to R:
Color Club Nail Polish - Wild Cactus
Skin&Co Roma Cleansing Body Gel with Olive and Sicilian Orange Extracts
Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips
Twistband Thick Headband
Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Square - Caramel
 
 
This was a pretty decent box this month, albeit not the most thrilling.  A friend of mine also got the same box and she was a little less impressed by it than I was.  The nail polish is alright, and might make a cute color for my toes later this spring.  But let's be honest here--no one is going to wear turquoise nail polish on the red carpet.  I like the product, but it was a miss according to the theme.
 
The Skin&Co body wash smells really nice, but it's sort of unremarkable.  I'll continue to give it big points for fragrance.  Being clean always makes you ready for a big event, so this one is following along with the theme well.
 
The Dr. Lipp Nipple Balm for Lips is thick and smooth, and did give my lips a healthy sheen while keeping them soft.  I think it's a little bit weird to know that this started out as a product to ease the dry, cracked nipples of nursing mothers, but hey, it works.  I can't argue with results!  Soft lips are always a red carpet must, because you never know who you'll be giving cheek kisses and air kisses to.
 
I got another Twistband headband this month, but this one is the thick version of the previous headband.  It does hold my thick hair a little more securely than the last, and I appreciate them giving me a black one.  This product is great for holding back my hair when I wash my face or for keeping shorter hairs out of my eyes while I work out.
 
Finally, the treat was a Ghirardelli square.  I'm not usually one to turn down a little chocolate, so it made a nice little snack that afternoon.  However, I don't think many girls who are headed down the red carpet are eating candy.  That's okay, I'll take theirs!
 
Overall impression:  I've had better Birchboxes, but this one wasn't disappointing.  My favorite product is the Dr. Lipp balm, which may be a future full-size product purchase.
 
Ipsy
 
 
L to R:
Pleather Cosmetic Bag
Mica Beauty Gel Eyeliner - Black
POP Beauty Smoky Lash Kapow!!! Mascara - No. 1 Smoky Black
Pixi Flawless & Poreless Primer
Coastal Scents Eyeshadow Quad
Lash Cards
 
I will start with the black pleather bag since I've been reading so much negative buzz on it.  Yes, it looks and feels cheaper than previous bags have, but it's on par with the bags I used to get when I first joined last summer.  This one probably won't get used much, but I've seen worse bags than this.
 
The Mica Beauty gel eyeliner is the highest dollar value item in the bag, ringing in at $35 for this size pot (which seems a little bit steep to me).  Until now, I've shyed away from using gel eyeliner because I always make a big mess with liquid eyeliner, and the two seem pretty similar to me.  Now that I've tried it, I feel like gel eyeliner is a little bit easier to control and I'm not so sloppy with it.  I used the Get Bent eyeliner brush from Benefit, which also helped with the application.  A great cat eye always looks splendidly at big, fancy events.
 
The POP Beauty mascara was a pretty decent product, until it started giving me raccoon eyes.  The cardinal sin of mascara.  It's too bad, really, because this mascara did a nice job of lengthening and preventing clumping. 
 
The Pixi primer was alright, it was definitely not the best primer I've ever tried.  It made my skin feel oily after awhile of wear, and it didn't play well with my mineral foundation (think flaking and caking).  I wouldn't buy the full-size of this, and I may not finish the sample.  I think you should avoid this when heading to a big event.
 
The Coastal Scents shadows are decent shadows, but they're not colors I would use very often.  Sometimes you meet a color palette that's just not your thing, and this one's not my thing.
 
The Lash Cards are a bit of a throwaway.  These are little shields that you put over your eyelids to prevent you from smearing mascara on your eyelids during lash and mascara application.  I don't really have a problem with this, so I doubt I'll use them very often.
 
Overall impressions:  I there were some high points and some low points in this bag, with the high points being the eyeliner and mascara and the low points being the primer, lash cards and eyeshadows.
  
So who's this winner of this month's battle royal??  BIRCHBOX.
 
I just liked the box's variety and felt that the quality of the products was fairly good.  I think they'd have even been more successful with a deep red nail polish or a pretty shade of pink to keep with the Red Carpet theme.  Ipsy's box just had too many lackluster products for my liking this month. 
 
What did you think of your subscription boxes this month??
 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wednesday Brain Dump

You know what I think?  I think it's the perfect day for a post of random thoughts.  It's been one of those cray days where my mind is all over the board, and I just need to do a brain dump.  Are you with me?!  If not, just play along!

So let's talk about Oscar dresses.  I loved a lot of the dresses I saw on the red carpet, but I was incredibly disappointed with those worn by Adele, Melissa McCarthy and Anne Hathaway. I adore these ladies, but what's up with their gown choices?? All three have looked better on previous red carpets.

Melissa wore an ill-fitting gray jersey tent with some cheap looking appliques, which didn't flatter her figure at all.  It's just a ginormous sack hiding her body.  The sleeves were all bunchy (formal wear should never have a dolman sleeve) and the draping around the midsection just looks awkward.

via huffingtonpost.com

Adele wore a glorified Mother of the Bride dress with a neckline and sleeve that screamed "fuddy duddy".  I know that this woman has a decollete and maybe some cleavage in there somewhere.  Plus, this was yet another black dress worn by Adele, who's apparently going for the Lady Johnny Cash look.  I seriously never see her in anything but black.  I want to challenge Adele to wear a COLOR.  She has the skin tone to pull off a bright color and I know she can work a shorter dress.  Do it, girl!

via huffingtonpost.com
 
I think both of these ladies can do better.  They need better stylists, particularly stylists who are used to working with curvier figures.  I think they either went sans stylist for this event or they picked stylists who were confused about how to dress a woman who's not a stick figure.  Hopefully both learn from their mistakes for their next gala events.

And let's not forget about Anne Hathaway's pink column dress with the unfortunate darts.  This dress gives her perma-nipples and looks like a bridesmaid's dress.  While it is beautifully fitted and makes Anne look extremely tall and slender, but all of that can't fix the chest issue.  Anne normally has impeccable style, but this was a miss for her. 

via upi.com

Seriously, she could put an eye out with those things.

Now on to TV.  My TV experience was greatly stunted last week when I had to replace my cable box and I lost everything in my DVR.  EVERYTHING!!  It was 90% full when I turned in the box, and of course I lost all of the shows I scheduled to record.  UGH.  I am still trying to figure out what shows I had set to record, because my memory apparently sucks.  If I was smart, I would have written everything down before I turned in the box, but nooooooo, of course I didn't think to do that.  Now, when there's a lull in programming where I'd typically watch a DVR'd show, I am back to surfing channels.  This inevitably leads to Hubs turning on old, crappy James Bond movies, like The World is Not Enough, where Denise Richards plays a nuclear physicist named Dr. Christmas Jones.  Yes, Christmas.  Greeeeaaaaat.

Lets talk about home fragrance.  More specifically, Scentportables from Bath and Body Works.  I have been addicted to the Fresh Bamboo scent, which has made my car smell springy and delightful, but recently I switched it out for the Frosted Cupcake scent.  This was a terrible choice for my diet, because now I want cupcakes all.the.time.  This fragrance insert should come with a warning label:  "This fragrance may cause frequent and severe cravings to pig out on sweets."  It's too dangerous!

On another note, I was nominated for another Liebster Award!  Jess from Hated on the Playground nominated me, and I was so happy that she did.  Her blog is so cute and I have enjoyed the great new read.  In case you're unfamiliar with this awards, it's shared by bloggers with those who have less than 200 followers to help keep the positive blog momentum going.  I just love using it to discover fun new bloggers!

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-GmnAU4BswWw/UQsj2bsSBjI/AAAAAAAAAus/wwuVJmqKd8k/s1600/Liebster-Award.gif

Typically, you should...
 
1. I'll list 11 things about myself.
2. I'll answer 11 things Jess has asked me.
3. I'll nominate 11 people and ask them 11 questions.

I was nominated for a Liebster Award awhile back and nominated some great bloggers.  Check them out here.  I won't be nominating anymore bloggers, but I'd love to tell you 11 random things about me and answer Jess's questions, which is always the fun part.

11 things about me
1. I prefer white wine to red any day of the week.
2. I hate breaking in new shoes because they always give me terrible blisters.  Always.  Shoes are not my friends, but flip flops are.
3. Tagalongs are my favorite Girl Scout cookies.
4. Dream about having a new house with a huge laundry room and a huge refrigerator.
5. My dog, Bella, is the first and only pet I've owned as an adult.  She's 12 years old and just as spunky and spry as she was when she was a puppy.
6. I'm hoping that 2013 is my year for big life changes.  I have so much I'm hoping to achieve this year!
7. My husband was a radio DJ when we met and I always love his sexy radio voices.
8. My first car was a white 1985 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera, and it was the slowest car on Earth.  It was the perfect car for a 16 year old to drive (from my parents perspective).
9. My twin sister still calls me by my childhood nickname, Bear.
10. College football is my favorite sport and Michigan State is my team.  Go Spartans!
11. I love clean laundry, but I hate folding it, hanging it and putting it away.  I wish there was a laundry fairy who would do it for me!

My questions
1. Why did you start blogging?  I wanted a place to document my husband and I's life together after we got married in 2011.  It's sort of morphed into a place for all of the things I enjoy, not just the things that Hubs and I do together.  I've loved my blog's evolution.
2. What is your biggest pet peeve?  When a car passes me, then gets in front of me going slower, then turns immediately.  Hmph.
3. What is your guilty pleasure?  Watching Ghost Adventures while eating a Taco Bell Cookie Sandwich.
4. What is your favorite thing to watch on tv?  It's hard to choose between The Office, Project Runway and Top Chef.  All are amazing!
5. Is your hair color natural?  Dark brown.
6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?  London, England
7. What do you concider your best personality trait?  My silliness
8. What is your hometown famous for?  The World's Narrowest Bar.  No joke.
9. Where do you picture yourself in the next 5 years?  I picture myself here in Florida with two kids, a nice house and a job that I love.
10. Do you have any bad habits, if so what are they?  I crack my knuckles occasionally, stay up way too late at night and drink far too much diet soda.
11. What is your favorite drink? Non-Alcoholic - Pepsi Max, Alcoholic - Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager

Well that was fun!  I really needed to get all of that out there.  Muchas gracias for following along and sharing in my moment of randomness!!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Things I've Bought That I Love

I've been doing allllll kinds of shopping lately, with most of my shopping being done online.  I love the tangibility of regular brick-and-mortar shopping, but the thrill of getting great deals online makes me love internet shopping just as much.  I've had so many packages coming to the house in the past two weeks, the Postman finally started leaving them in one of those white Post Office sorting bins at my front door. 

I've had a few purchases lately that have really made me want to shout my praises from the rooftops.  Great stuff at great prices... who could fault me for taking advantage of such awesome deals??  Here are a few of my best buys from the last couple of weeks...

Sanuk Yoga Spree Flip Flops


These have taken the crown as the most comfortable flip flops I've ever worn, having stolen the title from my previous comfy faves, critter flip flops from J.Crew.  The soles are made from yoga mats, so they're super cushy and they conform to your feet for a great fit.  Total perfection!  These flip flops retail for $30, and I bought mine from Amazon.com.

Seychelles Gala Flats in Yellow


I am always searching for cute, simple ballet flats, and Gilt just ran a great sale on these shoes ($59!).  They're great in my book because they haven't given me blisters (which is nothing short of a miracle) and they'll add a pop of color to some of my more lackluster outfits.  Winning!

Ticket to Silver Linings Playbook

 
What a great movie!  Seriously, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence play great crazies, and they're very cute together (despite the age difference).  I also loved the view of the Delaware County Italian family who loves the Eagles and sticks together no matter what.  Awesome.

Sara Happ Green Apple Lip Scrub and The Lip Slip Luxe Lip Gloss

 
My lips always dry out in the winter, and our recent trips to Philadelphia left them positively arid.  I've been meaning to try Sara Happ lip scrub for awhile, so when I saw this on Gilt in a duo with The Lip Slip lip gloss, I knew it was my time to pick it up.  I've used the scrub a few times, and its large granules did a super job of sloughing off the effects of a harsh northern winter. Afterward, I smoothed on a layer of the gloss and my lips were soft in no time!  I'd love to try the vanilla bean and creme brulee flavors of the scrub sometime.  The scrub and lip gloss retail for $24 each.

I have also purchased a bunch of new clothes recently, so hopefully I'll be able to share a few of my favorite pieces with you soon!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Product Review - L'Oreal Paris Magic Skin Beautifier BB Cream

I'm somewhat of a make-up hound and have a good sized collection of cosmetic, which is funny because I don't wear a lot of make up on a daily basis.  When I do put on a full face, I prefer a natural look, and it's like Urban Decay's Naked line was made for me.  I also typically wear mineral foundation, but I am just dipping my toes into the waters of primers and BB creams.  I've sampled a few primers and BB creams, but haven't felt like any of them were necessities.

I was recently given the opportunity to try a new BB cream that I hadn't heard of yet, L'Oreal Paris Magic Skin Beautifier BB Cream.


This BB cream is quite a multi-tasker.  It primes, hydrates, perfects and corrects, leaving your skin with a "flawless bare skin finish".  This retails from $7.50 (Target) to $10.95 (L'OrealParis.com) and can be found at most drug stores.

I have to admit that I was a little bit skeptical of this product at first, but I'm always looking for great new products and I wanted to give it a shot.  I was only skeptical because so any BB creams on the market retail for $40 or more, so I wondered how well a drug store brand would perform by comparison.  I'd only tried several high-end brands, and I found them to be hit or miss. 

Don't let the price fool you, this BB cream is fantastic!  I was taken aback at first because the product went on my skin white instead of flesh tone like many BB creams, but it gradually transformed into a shade that perfectly matched my skin.  This product helped to even out my skin tone, and made my face appear poreless.  I loved it!  My previous BB cream experiences haven't been successful in doing this.  The formula is also very hydrating and just made my skin look and feel so healthy! 

I think I found a new go-to beauty product, and I couldn't be happier.  Why spend $40 or more when you can spend less than $10 and get something that works this well?  It's a no-brainer.  I am already looking forward to purchasing more when this tube runs out.  If you're interested in trying a new BB cream, I encourage you to give this product a try.  I think you'll love it too!

This post was sponsored by She Speaks and L'Oreal Paris, but my thoughts and opinions are all my own.

How I Snagged My Man

I'm one of those married girls who has LOTS of single girlfriends.  Like, an unusually large number of single friends, considering my age (I'm no spring chicken, as my mother says).  One thing my single girlfriends always ask me is how I met my husband.  Not just how I met him, but how I managed to fall in love with him and hang on to him.  Ah yes, a question for the ages.

When I was a single lass, I asked my married friends these questions all the time.  I didn't want to be single anymore, but I wasn't having luck in love at all.  My married friends gave me these nebulous answers, like "I dunno, we just clicked," "He was funny and I always go for funny guys" or "He liked me before I gained weight."  None of these answers helped me figure out how to get a decent guy.  Thanks but no thanks, ladies.

I remember thinking that I just needed to be me, and less like other girls.  It's like looking for a job, where you have to do something to set yourself apart from the other applicants.  No more trying to fit the mold or acting the way I thought someone would want me to act.  Surely someone who's tired of the typical dating game will find that attractive, right? 

I met my husband on eHarmony.com.  I was looking for a relationship, but not a husband, and there's a big difference, in my opinion.  I was looking to have a fun relationship, and opened myself up to the possibility of that being with someone other than the "perfect on paper" guy I'd always thought I wanted.  If I had set out looking for a husband, I may not have ever wanted to meet Hubs.  Hubs was one of the first guys I got matched with, and he checked many of the items on my must-have list, but not all of them.  I decided to meet him thinking he might be fun to date, and the rest is history.

But it's never really that simple, right?  Once you get the guy to go out with you, you have to hang on to him.  While I am by no means an expert in relationships and dating, I think the things I've learned could help someone out.  Here are a few things I did that helped me snag my man.

Don't Hate, Appreciate
What to men appreciate?  Beer.  Music.  Video games.  Food.  Sleeping.  Their cars.  Nookie, in all of it's glorious forms.  Opening doors for women, and occasionally buying flowers.  Allow a guy to to be a guy, and don't try to change him.  Learn to appreciate (even if you don't truly love) all of the things he really cares about, and you will win his heart.  No guy wants a chick who doesn't let him sleep in on a Saturday or expects to have every date paid for in perpetuity.  Real relationships are partnerships, so you have to give him what he needs while trying to ensure your needs are met too.  Also, don't get pissy when he tries to do nice things for you (take you out on special dates, hold doors open for you, give you their coats when you get cold).  We know you're a modern woman who can take care of herself, but c'mon.  It makes men feel like real men when they do these things, so just sit back and enjoy the chivalry.

Don't Get Needy
Men do not want to put up with a girl who whines incessantly, one who is always asking him if he thinks she looks okay in her outfit.  Men don't know how to handle this issue with asking how we look.  Does the guy be honest and risk hurting feelings or lie and feel like an ass for telling you a fib?  Don't put your man in that position.  Men also do not want a girl who calls him too much or bugs his friends for information on his whereabouts.  Don't be that girl.

Be Natural
Guys don't want to go to bed with a chick who looks really hot but looks completely different in the morning when the make-up comes off.  While it's fun to amp up the make-up for a special occasion, keep your regular look natural and clean.  Let him see what you really look like and he'll appreciate it.  This goes along with not being high-maintenance.

Don't Fight Over Stupid Things
That's right, no picking fights over his bad habits of not rinsing dishes before he puts them in the dishwasher, not cleaning empty bottles and cans out of his car everyday or using more than one pump of handsoap when he washes his hands.  Those things are really not important.  Pick your battles and you'll be better off.

Dress The Way I Want To Dress
Men appreciate a girl with her own sense of style, as long as "schlumpy" is not her style.  Put some effort into looking cute, but do it your way.  Don't look like a cookie cutter version of every other chick he sees out on a Friday night, because he can get that anywhere.  He will appreciate your own confidence in wearing what you feel comfortable and happy in.

Some of these things may be common sense to some people, but you'd be surprised how many people fall into these traps.  In addition to these things, I also gave him reasons to say, "Wow, that woman would be a great mother to my children" and "This woman is a contributor in our relationship."  I've never asked more of him than I'd be willing to give in his shoes, and I always let him know how much I love and value him. 

My husband and I are fortunate enough to be very compatible to begin with, so that helps greatly.  Besides some occasional bickering, we have only ever had a few heated discussions, and have still not had a big, huge, nasty fight.  We will someday, I'm sure, but I'm glad that our 4-1/2 years together have been peaceful and harmonious. 

For those of you who have also managed to maintain successful relationships, what were some of your qualities that helped you get your guy??

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Bunch of Words on Friendship

Friendship has always been a tricky thing for me.  Throughout my life, I've always had a pretty good number of friends, but I haven't always felt particularly close to a lot of them.  Maybe it's because I'm a twin and my sister has been my built-in best friend since birth.  Believe me, it's a blessing and a curse.  It's really hard to make another best friend when you feel like you're cheating on your twin.  So-o, I've made a number of good friends but not many best friends.

I've always had a close group of core friends, and a large number of additional friends I've made along the way, who I will keep in touch with and occasionally go out with, but I'm not super close to.  I want to be closer to certain friends, but some of them are so hung up on the fact that I'm married.  They don't invite me out with them very often anymore because they assume I'll say no, since I've got a husband now.  Totally untrue!  I still like to hang out and have fun, even with this ring on my finger!  I also have a number of long-term friendships that have gotten very one-sided in recent years.  I always wonder what I should do, and I have let go of a few old friends who just took another path in life.  I guess that's the way the cookie crumbles.

Throughout my life, the actual practice of making friends was pretty easy for me.  I'm a joiner by nature, meaning that I've always been one to take part in clubs, teams and organizations even when no one is asking or making me.  I just enjoy collaborative environments and teamwork, and love to do things for the greater good of the group.  I think that's also the extrovert in me, who draws energy from being with others.  While I do have some introverted tendancies, I have always tested as an ESTJ on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (my HR friends are sure to be pretty familiar with this).   I just like social environments and meeting new people.

What I find harder than making friends is maintaining friendships over the long-haul.  While I still keep in touch with friends from high school, it's the friends from college and my early 20's who have been the most problematic.  Whenever I talk to a few of them, they talk about themselves and their problems non-stop, and the only way I share anything about my life is if I butt in and tell them.  Otherwise, it would be 2 hour conversations about them and them alone.  Ugh.  It's exhausting and even disheartening.  Sometimes it would feel great to get a phone call from one of them asking about how my life is going, but that doesn't seem to happen very often.  I miss my friends the way that they used to be, but I realized that some of them changed a long time ago.  Despite the fact that they've changed, I still want to keep in touch.  I guess I'm trying to stoke the fires of friendship and keep the embers burning, even though the flames may be on their way to full extinguishment.  It sounds ridiculous, I know, but I still hold out hope that they'll be the great friends they once were. 

And I don't think I'm just the victim of selfish friends.  I've played a part in this too.  Once my friends started focusing primarily on themselves and their issues, I gradually stopped calling and emailing as much, slowly cut down on the kind gestures, and found myself getting distant.  In all fairness, they weren't doing any of these things either, so when I noticed they stopped reciprocating, I scaled back on the friendship.  I'm sure this didn't help, but after you put yourself out there so many times and that care isn't reciprocated, you have to make a decision:  keep doing it because you want to or just stop because you feel like a sucker.  I started feeling like a sucker, so I let the little things trail off.  I feel awful about it, but I just want to do things for others who show their care for me in return.  But the guilt of knowing that I'm not being the kind of friend I want to be still eats away at me.

In the last 8 years or so, I've made some truly wonderful and rewarding friendships.  I am extremely grateful for my current group of close friends, who are sweet, sassy and reciprocate kind gestures the way I wish everyone would.   They really are the best.  Because of them, I know I can always vent about my issues, meet them for chick flicks and retail therapy, share my dreams and plan for the future.  We just have a lot of fun together, the way great pals should.  I wish that feeling carried over into all of my friendships.

As I look forward to the next phase of my life, I often think about what kind of effort I put into friendships, and I think friendships are kind of like romantic relationships.  They require some work, but if you're working too hard, then maybe they're not the right friendships for you.  I want to put effort into the right friendships, including some of my best long-term friendships that I really don't want to lose.  That means that I need to focus on being the kind of friend I really want to be to all of my friends, new and old.  I have faith that being a great friend will yield me great friends in return, and I think it's time to start being less reactive and more proactive. 

I will love my friends and treat them the way that I want to be treated.  That's one of my goals for this year.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Surprise, Surprise!

I have always loved entertaining and having guests visit my home.  It's my mom's fault because she always hosted parties when I was growing up and I developed some strong hosting skillz. 

Even though I love having guests, it's real work to prepare for guests to come into my house.  I usually want to pick up little things I've left out, then clean the house from the tippy top to the very bottom.  I want the house to be spotless, just like my mom always did when I was a kid.  That being said, I don't need my house to be museum quality to have friends come over to visit under regular circumstances.  It just needs to reasonably clean (all common areas, guest bedroom and guest bathroom) and neat, but I don't need to wash the chandeliers or baseboards.

Well, my inner hostess FREAKED OUT on Friday when one of my Hubby's best friends from Delaware, Chrisitian, texted him to say that he was coming to see us.  On Sunday.  With his girlfriend.  And they were going to stay overnight.  Ummm, what????  I had two days to get the house spotless, and to be honest with you, it was a bit of a wreck.  We spent the better part of the past few weeks in Philadelphia, and we had neglected everything from cleaning the bathrooms to doing the laundry to putting the Christmas decorations back into storage.  We had SO MUCH to do.  But I could not let myself down.  I will be hosting my friends, oh yes I will!

I tried my best not to panic, but I kind of did.  I had a ton of errands to run on Saturday (I got some great deals while out shopping!), so I did all of that and came home to get cleaning.  We picked up, put away and laundered everything we could find, then tried to relax a little in the evening.  All I could think of was the house being unacceptable to guests.  We had a long agenda for what we needed to get done on Sunday before our friends arrived.

On Sunday, Hubs and I got up at a reasonable hour, and dragged allllll of our Christmas boxes and boxes of my old clothes to our storage unit (when you live in a condo in Florida, you often have an offsite storage unit for seasonal stuff).  Three trips and two hours later, we had drove to one of Florida's newest Wawa's for hoagies (which were delish, btw), then came home to scrub the house clean.  It was a lot of vacuuming, dusting, bed-making, bathroom-scouring and even more laundry.  We were pooped!  Then Christian called to tell us that he and his girlfriend got into a car accident 30 miles north of Jacksonville, and their car was totaled. UGH. They planned to stay overnight, rent a car the next day and drive to Tampa on Monday to see us. We had one more day. (Cue the Hallelujah chorus.)

On Monday, we worked on putting the finishing touches on the house and taking care of some last minute errands (buying snacks, beer and breakfast food, of course).  Christian and Charlsie finally arrived at 5:30 pm and were greeted by a clean house and very excited Schnauzer.  Thank goodness Bella was on her best behavior!

I had my Junior Women's Club new member meeting on Monday night, so Hubs took our pals out to a local restaurant with live music for drinks and dinner.  After my meeting, I finally joined them and could enjoy myself.  For once that weekend, I wasn't cleaning or worrying about cleaning.  All was good.  At the restaurant, I ordered the spiciest buffalo chicken wrap of my life (wouldn't do that again) and thanked my lucky stars that I had a big Woodchuck cider to wash it down.  My lips were on fire for the rest of the night!!

We came back to our place, had a round of beers and finally called it a night.  They left this morning to head back to Jacksonville to fill out paperwork for their totaled car and to find a mode of transportation back to Delaware.  It was AWESOME to see them and to get my house so spotless in a short period of time, but it was exhausting!!

My inner hostess was proud of herself (and her Hubby) for getting so much done in short span of time.  My husband even cleaned a toilet.  (You could have knocked me over with a feather!)  I love being so productive, even if I'm spent by the end of it.  It was not the weekend we anticipated having, but it was pretty great in a lot of ways.  We got to see good friends and have some hearty laughs.  Also, my husband broke out in Movie Tourette's (endless recitation of movie quotes) with Christian, which is always amusing.  Think marginal Walken and Family Guy impressions, and you've got my whole evening in a nutshell.

I hope you ladies had a great weekend and have a wonderful week ahead!

Monday, February 18, 2013

February Popsugar Must Have Box

It's that time again, boys and girls... time for the next installment of the Popsugar Must Have box!!  I always love getting these boxes because the value is usually pretty great and the products are usually of great quality.

I got my February box on Thursday (Happy Valentine's Day to me!) and I immediately tore the box open to see the goods.  Here's what I got...



Clockwise starting from Top Left:
 
Brokedown Spa Wrap ($84)
Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks ($7.99)
Hanky Panky Original Thong Panty ($20)
Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain - Romantic ($7.99)
Sweetheart Conversation Hearts ($0.49)
Mariebelle Cacao Nibs ($12.99)
Connoissuers Quick Jewelry Cleanser ($6)
 
Total Value:  $139.46
 
I normally LOVE the products in the Must Have boxes, but this month, I really have mixed feelings.  I understood each item was chosen for a Valentine's themed box, but I'm a bit disappointed with some of Popsugar's product choices.  My major beef is with the high dollar value items, the spa wrap and the Hanky Panky underwear.  The spa wrap is made of cheap material and and it's VERY small.  A more voluptuous gal like myself could never wear this.  It almost fits, but not well enough for me to wear it comfortably.  Plus, I would NEVER imagine that something this chintzy would cost $84.  It doesn't feel like a great quality item, and I had anticipated it costing around $35.  I could not believe my eyes when I saw that it was for sale on the Brokdown website for $84.  Also, the Hanky Panky underwear are another "one size fits all" item, which, as most very petite or plus sized girls know, is NOT the case.  Now, the underwear are a little bit more generous and have a lot of stretch, but it would have been better if they had given us a coupon code for a free pair so we could choose our own size and color.
 
I really liked the Safe Haven book and jewelry cleaner, and I know that they'll get used.  The Revlon Just Bitten Kissable balm stain is a great product, but I got a color I would have never chosen for myself.  After trying it, I'm surprised that I really don't mind it.  If I am going for a sheer red lip, this will be a great choice for me. 
 
The Sweetheart conversation hearts were kind of a throw-away for me.  They're fine, but I don't really love them enough to burn my Weight Watchers points on them.  The Mariebelle cacao nibs from my box were also a bit of a bust because they came spilled all over the inside of my box.  I have requested another package from Popsugar, so hopefully they come through for me.  I'd love to try them!
 
Popsugar also threw in a 30% off coupon code for the Brokedown Clothing website, as well as a 15% off coupon code and a free nail polish coupon code for the Hanky Panky website.  I just may have to take advantage of those! 
 
What did you think of your Popsugar box this month? 
Have you tried any of these items?  If so, what did you think of them?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday Social: Valentine's Day

Sunday Social time!!

Wow, it's been many moons since I've linked up for this one, and it's high time that I do it again!  I am LOVING this week's theme of Valentine's Day.  I'm such a sap, so talking about Hugs N Hearts Day (that's what my twin sis and I call it) just makes me soooo happy!

Lets get to the V-Day questions:

1. Best Valentines Day you’ve ever had: My first V-Day with Hubs back in 2009.  He shaved his beloved goatee off the night before V-Day, and it was the first time I'd ever seen him clean-shaven.  I just loved the baby face I never knew he had!!  On V-Day, he took me out to a very nice restaurant, Benedetto's, and gave me a sold gold Steven Singer rose.  I loved the sentiment and really saw what a sweetheart he was.  I was so impressed with how much effort he put into this holiday and I couldn't wait for more.

2. Worst Valentines Day you’ve ever had: When I was 24, I went to see the local Chihuly art glass exhibition with a guy I'd been talking to.  The date was fine, I guess, but not very interactive and I didn't really know what to talk to him about.  He was so quiet!  On the way home in our car, I asked if he wanted to go get a drink, and he proceeded to tell me that he was a recovering alcoholic, so no, he couldn't get a drink.  Holy awkwardness.  Then, as the car got closer to my apartment, a foul smell permeated the air.  I think he farted, but he started asking me if I did it.  Um, NO!!!  I politely asked if it could be the emissions system in his car, but he said that couldn't be it.  I say the skunk smells his own hole first.  Yuck.

3. What did you do for Valentines this year?  A casual date to Cappy's Pizzeria, followed by a loving and hilarious gift exchange.  (See my previous blog post for details.)  It was much more low-key than usual, but I really loved it.  Perfect in every way.

4. Best Valentines Idea if you’re single: Go for drinks and dinner with your single girlfriends!!  I did this a number of times, and we always had the best time.  One year, a friend of mine brought me a box of chocolate covered fortune cookies with love fortunes in them, which was such a great idea.  Love on your girlfriends if you can't love on a guy!

5. Favorite Valentines Candy? Reese's Peanut Butter Hearts

6. Favorite Valentines Memory from your childhood: My mom and dad always gave us little Valentine's Day gifts for us while we were eating our breakfast on V-Day morning.  One year I got a little red heart-shaped box filled with candy and a bracelet, and I thought that was the greatest thing ever.  My parents never did much for V-Day, but we learned to appreciate the little things.

I hope you ladies had a great Valentine's Day too!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Love, Valentine's Day Style

I was lucky enough to marry a romantic man, and as such, he always takes care of me for Valentine's Day.  Seriously, I hit the romance jackpot with Hubs, and even when he's having an "off" year, he's still cuter and sweeter than a lot of guys are when they're laying on their romance game hardcore. 

Since Hubs and I were up in Philly for a couple of weeks, we sort of lost sight of Valentine's Day.  Hey, our priorities were elsewhere, but we decided to make it a low-key holiday this year.  No biggie.

Hubs brought me two dozen gorgeous red roses on Tuesday night, because he wanted to make sure he got my flowers before the day-of rush.  They were the most beautiful flowers he's given me in a long time, so I was pretty excited about them.  Here's a quick picture...


Hubs then took me out to dinner to one of our favorite pizza restaurants, Cappy's, where we enjoyed some amazing caesar salad and a Chicago-style pie.  It was yummy and I loved how relaxing our dinner was.  Usually we go out to a fancy restaurant for V-Day, but truth be told, I kind of loved the less stuffy atmosphere.

When we got home, we exchanged the small gifts we bought each other.  I got him a shit ton of candy and Skyfall on Blu-ray.  I know what my man likes. 

He gave me two gifts.  First, was a heavy gift bag that weighed about 5-10 lbs.  I couldn't imagine what would possibly weigh so much. 

I should stop here and give you some backstory.  That always helps when it's an inside joke, right?  So, while Hubs and I were in Philly and feeling somber, I saw that the picture below was tweeted by People of Walmart (if you haven't heard about People of Walmart, check out PeopleofWalmart.com--now).  It's a real shopping list found on the floor of a Walmart store.  I read it in the car before we met some friends for lunch, and I DIED LAUGHING.  I was having giggle fits and I couldn't resist showing Hubs.  He died laughing too.  It's funny... or maybe we just have a weird sense of humor.  Either way, we loved it.

PeopleofWalmart.com - A real shopping list

Fast forward to Valentine's Day, my husband decided to fulfill the shopping list.



That's right.  It's a loaf of White People Bread (Archer Farms Pumpkin Streusel... doesn't get anymore "white people" than that), some Shit Fo' Yo Pitz (Dove Pomegranate Deodorant), Ass Wash (Nivea Touch of Happiness Body Wash), Dong Bags (Trojan Magnums... I'd say he's feeling a bit optimistic, but it's only a 3-pack, so not that optimistic), Good Mayo (Kraft Chipotle Mayo), a Big Loofa (courtesy of Target), Tuna Fish Packs (Starkist, of course), and Tortillaz (La Tortilla Factory White Corn Tortillas). Um, this is awesome!!  I loved it and got a huge laugh out of it.  My husband knows the way to my funny bone.

My second gift was a traditional Valentine's Day gift:  A big heart-shaped box of chocolates, four Russell Stover individual truffle candies, and a Reese's heart.  He also gave me a book about Tampa's historic cemetaries.  Before you lift an eyebrow, let me just say that I'm a history buff and have always loved the beauty of very old cemetaries.  It may seem like a weird gift, but I think it's pretty great.  Just go back to the candy and the beautiful roses and it seems awesome again!

Overall, I had a great low-key Valentine's Day with my love.  We've been married a year and a half now and we've never had anything close to a big, blow-out fight.  We are just totally in sync and I love it.  I love him.

I hope you ladies had a great Valentine's Day!!

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Return to the Real World

Whew, what a crazy few weeks this has been!  I've been in a whirlwind of emotions and traveling, as well as performing a juggling act with my regular activities and to-do's.  I'm tired, but I've been hanging in there.

We have spent the majority of the past two and a half weeks flying back and forth to the Philadelphia area to be with my husband's family following my mother-in-law's passing.  We really loved seeing the family and spending time with them, despite the circumstances, and it made us wish that we could come up to visit more often.  They're Italian and believe in expressing their love through food, so they fed us constantly (my waistline isn't thanking them for that!) and made us feel so welcome.  Even thought we were loved on so much, we were sooooo ready to come home!  There's nothing like sleeping in your own bed, being around your own things and getting to spend quality time with your own dog. 

I didn't take many pictures on our trip because, well, it wasn't really a pleasure trip, but I do have one favorite to share.

Me with Hubs' Godfather, Tom.  He's Fah-bulous !
We stayed with Hubs' Godfather, Tom, and his partner, David in Delaware, which is not too far from the part of Philly where Hubs grew up.  Let me tell you, they are the best hosts EVER!!  We just love staying with them and getting spoiled. 

We got back to Tampa on Monday evening, where my wonderful parents picked Hubs and I up at the airport and took us out to our favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner.  When I got home, I was greeted by my very excited, sweet little dog, Bella, and got oodles of puppy kisses.  It was just what the doctor ordered!  After those initial snuggles, though, Bella basically ignored me all night.  She was mad at me for leaving her for so long, and she did nothing but give me the bitch face.  Ugh.  Of course this made me sad, but this is her M.O. after we get home from long trips.  She usually gets over it within 24 hours and she's back to her normal, cuddly self.

It has been a taxing couple of weeks being away from home, but the good news is that I have a slew of blog posts half-written on my cell phone.  I'm going to get busy finishing and posting those over the next week or so.  I'm happy that I have so many posts coming up, and also happy that I remembered to write my thoughts down immediately so I didn't lose them forever.  I usually find that my best blog ideas come while I'm driving, so I can't document them, thus resulting in me forgetting about them by the time I get home.  Doh.  At least Hubs was driving on this trip so I could make notes as ideas came to me!

Well, onward and upward.  I was back to work three days this week, and next week is a four-day work week (yay, President's Day!).  I am glad to be getting back into the swing of things and look forward to happier days ahead!

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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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