Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June Ipsy vs. Birchbox

It's that time again, friends.  Time to compare June's Birchbox and Ipsy bag!  This was a so-so month for both Birchbox and Ipsy.  Both had a few items I liked and items that disappointed me.

 Let's start with Ipsy...

Cailyn Line-Fix Gel Eyeliner in Purple ($21.00)
J.Cat Sparkling Cream Palette in Volta ($4.49)
Chella Ivory Lace Highlighter ($18.00)
Starlooks Lip Liner in Bare ($12.00)
Nyx Blush in Spice ($6.00)

Total Value:  $61.49

This bag really brought a big value this month, considering that it only costs $10.00 per month.  I actually liked most of the items in this bag, but I really hated the glitter palette.  First off, the glitter palette looks like eye shadow, right?  Wrong.  It's actually body glitter.  Yes, that's right, body glitter!  In a bag aimed at adult women.  I don't know any adult women who wear body glitter, unless you're maybe talking to some club rat or drag queen.  Ipsy really missed the mark on this one.  My favorite product in the bag was the Chella highlighter, which works great under the arch of my eyebrows.  I also like the purple eyeliner, which goes on  smoothly and evenly.  The blush is a tad dark for my fair skin tone, but it might work once I get a tan this summer.  The lip liner is a nice neutral shade, so I have no complaints there.  Overall, pretty darn good.

Next up, Birchbox...

Color Club Wanderlust Collection Nail Polish in London Calling
Suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser
LAQA & CO Lil' Lip Crayon
100% Pure Body Cream in Coconut and Vanilla Bean
Coola Classic Face SPF 30 Cucumber Moisturizer for Face

I'm not gonna lie, I'm just underwhelmed by this box.  It was a $10.00 box, and I might have gotten that much value out of it.  The lip crayon looks gross on me (definitely not my color), and the body cream samples smell nice but are so tiny that they barely moisturized one arm.  I already own a full-size Suki cleanser, so this little sample will only get used while I'm traveling.  The Coola moisturizer would be fine for someone, but I'm one of those rare people that strongly dislikes the scent of cucumber, making this product a no-go.  I'll give this to my sister, who is apparently less of a scent fuss-budget than I am.  The mint nail polish is cute, so I will probably use it on my toes next time I get a pedi.  Overall, there's no wow factor in this month's box.

This month, the winner is Ipsy!  Ipsy has been pulling in better products in recent months, so I'm finding that they're becoming a regular favorite.  For $10.00/month, I'll take the box worth $60 over the box worth $10 any day.

Do you get subscription boxes?  Which one do you like most?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Becoming Aunt Kari

Life is chock full of major milestones, shaping who you are as a person and giving you a sense of purpose along this merry road called life.  One of the major milestones I met this past week was becoming an Aunt.  YAY!!  It finally happened!

My twin sister gave birth to my niece, Elise Marie, on June 20th.  She weighed in at 8 lbs 9 oz, and she was 21 inches long.  She is just perfect and sweet.  She rarely cries and she she's a hard sleeper, just like her Aunt Kari.  I'm totally in love!

Seriously, how could you not love that little face?!?!  Even though I'm a novice with babies (that's a nice way of saying I haven't held a baby since I was in high school), my sister let me hold her, feed her and burp her.  I was surprised at how much I liked it!  I know I've mentioned that I've had baby fever lately, but little Elise has really kicked it into high gear.

After being with Elise and seeing my sister and brother-in-law over-the-moon happy, Hubs and I agreed that we were ready for that to be us.  So, we decided not to put off buying a house any longer.  I contacted our Realtor on Sunday night, and we officially started our new house search today!!  We are so excited about entering the next chapter of our married life.  

I'm in such a great place right now, and I'm thrilled that everything is going so well.  I'm loving my new job, I've got a new house on the horizon and I've got a new niece.  Pretty awesome.  Pretty awesome indeed.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

June POPSUGAR Must Have Box

So I just got my June POPSUGAR Must Have box, and I was shocked at how fast it arrived!  I got the email saying that the package had been shipped, and just a few days later, it arrived on my doorstep.  I even let out a little squeal of excitement as I pulled into my parking space and saw it tucked beneath my planter, since I wasn't expecting it for a few more days.  Typically, my mail service is so slow that I swear I'm being serviced by the Pony Express, but this time, my package was here in a jiffy.  Halle-freaking-lujah!

So here's what I found when I opened up this bad boy...

Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns book ($25.99)
Hard Candy Addicted to Sweat Workout DVD ($7.50)
Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair Moisturizer ($65.00)
2 Juice Beauty CC Cream samples ($7.80)
Gorjana & Griffin Zuma Scarf ($62.00)
Gorjana & Griffin coupon  ($25.00)
Popcorn Indiana Fit Popcorn ($2.99)
Project 7 Quench the Thirsty Wintergreen Mints (hiding in the picture) ($1.79)

Total Value: $198.07

This is such an awesome box!  This month's products were all items that I'd love to buy, but would probably have a difficult time paying full price.  But with this, I spent $35 and got nearly $200 worth of amazing goodies.  Score, score, score!  

My favorite item is the scarf, which perfectly mixes nautical with on-trend neon.  It's also HUGE and can be worn as a neck scarf, sarong, wrap or head scarf.  For me, it will always be worn around my neck, but it's nice to know I've got options.

The Juice Beauty moisturizer is also a favorite because it smells juicy and luscious, with notes of citrus and herbs.  It's actually pretty intoxicating, so I plan to use it at night so I can take in the great scent before I go to bed.  The two CC cream samples were also nice, and each was a different shade.  I am super fair, so I gave the darker sample to my olive-skinned Mom.  

The workout DVD is great, but I probably won't be using it anytime soon.  No, not because I'm putting off working out (though maybe subconsciously that's part of it), but because I don't really have a good place to workout to a DVD in my current home (not enough floor space). I may find it easier when we buy a house later this year.

The book rocks, and I've been eyeing it on Amazon for a little while now.  I was stoked when it arrived in my box this month because it's one less thing I need to buy!  I can't wait to read it while drinking a nice cup of tea or glass of vino.  This book deserves an accompanying beverage!

The mints were tasty, but not as minty as I'd like them to be.  Don't worry, though, they'll still be making their way into my purse for a mid-day breath touch-up!  I haven't tried the Fit popcorn yet, but it looks tasty and I'm sure it will be a good late night snack for me while I watch a movie with Hubs.

Overall, this box was a success!!  I am so glad I stuck with this subscription service after I got a bad box a few months ago.  All of my boxes since then have been totally worth the money spent, and I am already anxious to see what next month's box brings!

Interested in subscribing to the POPSUGAR Must Have box?  Use the code "REFERFRIENDS" for a $5 discount on your first box.  I hope you love it too!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Weekend With The Three F's

Some weekends are experiences focused on quiet times and relaxation, while other weekends are packed with fun activities and favorite people.  Both types have value, depending on your mood and how hectic your life has been lately.  For me, this past weekend was of the fun-and-favorite-people variety, and I was SO glad that it was finally here!  It encompassed my three favorite F's:  Family, Friends and Food.

On Friday night, I went straight from work to Ybor City, where I met my great friend, Jess, for a girl date.  We had dinner at Tampa Bay Brewing Company (what, don't all girlfriends bond over beer?), and followed it up by seeing The Great Gatsby at the nearby movie theater.  We had such a great time, and it was fun catching up without our husbands around.  Our men are awesome, but Jess and I always have a blast when we have one-on-one time.  We already began talking about our next girl date, which will be for the Dave Matthews Band concert in July.  I can't wait!

Two fine honeys in the brewery

Saturday rolled around, and my lovely parents came to town for a visit.  My dad was going to help us patch a hole in the drywall in our utility closet, so he and Hubs busied themselves with that task for a couple of hours while my mom and I chatted.  It's always nice to visit with my family, and Bella was SO excited that her grandma and grandpa were here!

The real fun began in the evening.  Hubs and I invited my parents to Tampa to join us for a fabulous dinner at one of the best restaurants in town, Bern's Steakhouse.  It's truly an amazing dining experience, and I made sure that all of the first-timers got the full treatment:  A delish dinner, a tour of the kitchen and wine cellar, and a visit to the Dessert Room!  We were beyond stuffed by the time we left!  We went home afterward, where I promptly put on my stretchy pajama pants and an oversized t-shirt, and vegged for the rest of the night.  Ahhh.  It was a perfect ending to a perfect evening.

A family affair in the Bern's Dessert Room

On Sunday, my parents came back to our place, where we gave him his Father's Day gift:  A Dri-Fit Nike golf shirt with the Detroit Tigers logo on the front!  He loved it, and plans to wear it when he golfs next week.  After that, we took my dad to his favorite Tampa restaurant, Hula Bay, where we had lunch on the deck overlooking the water.  It was so relaxing, none of us wanted to leave!  It wasn't too hot, there was very little breeze and everything was calm.  

Daddy and I

Our View of the Bay

After lunch, Hubs and my dad finished the drywall patch job, and my parents went home.  Since, the drywall patch was done, I felt that we needed to paint the inside of that closet as soon as possible (like, today), while Hubs disagreed because he didn't feel like painting.  Well, I won this battle, so we headed off to Lowe's to buy paint and supplies.  After we got home, Hubs painted the closet with expert precision.  It looks so fresh and clean in there, and I'm glad we didn't put off the project!

Hubs and I closed out our Sunday night by ordering Chinese take-out and sharing a couple of beers in celebration of a great closet well-painted.

This was a fantastic weekend and I'm glad we finally got some of these tasks (girl date, Bern's, closet job, and Father's Day) checked off our to-do list.  And it never hurts to be doing it alongside such great friends and family.  Hopefully the week coming up is as good to us as this weekend was!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

How Well My Husband Knows Me

I've seen this Q&A on several blogs lately, and I thought I'd be a copycat and play along.  I asked Hubs for his answers, and he responded with a devilish grin like the Cheshire Cat.  I like it when he gets that look on his face, because something entertaining always comes of it.  Enjoy!

How long have you been married? 

Pete: Since time stands still when I'm with her...long enough to know when I've tickled her butt one too many times.
Kari: 2 wonderful years

Where was your first date? 

Pete:  Channelside.  Bucs Kickoff party followed by drinks at Bennigan's.
Kari:  He took me to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Season Kick-Off Party at Channelside, where we saw Saving Abel and had some drinks at Bennigan's (I miss that place SO much!)

Where was your first kiss?

Pete: At the outdoor corner table at Green Iguana Westshore.  Romantic, I know.
Kari:  At the Westshore Green Iguana, at the corner table on the patio (it was a quiet weeknight date so there weren't many people around).  Why I couldn't wait to do it in a less public place, I have no idea.  I was overcome by his cutness, I guess.

Who first said, "I love you"? 

Pete:  That would be me.
Kari:  He did (thankfully, I didn't want to say it first!)

What were your wedding colors? 

Pete:  Orange and pink, but she'll say Pink and Orange.
Kari:  Hot pink and orange -- Pink for me, Orange for my Philadelphia Flyers-loving husband

What is her most commonly used phrase? 

Pete:  Oh my god (without fail, anytime I do something she deems dumb).
Kari:  I don't think I have one, but I'm sure Pete will find one.

Who is her celebrity crush? 

Pete:  I'm gonna guess Jim from The Office, 'cause Dwight would just be creepy.
Kari:  It's really a three-way tie -- Jimmy Fallon, John Krasinski and Ryan Reynolds.  My hotness trifecta.

If she was ordering drinks for both of you what would you each get?

Pete:  A Belgian beer or Soco & Ginger for me; Reisling or Moscoto for her if she's feeling classy, Mic Ultra or Miller Light if she wants to go slumming.
Kari:  I'd order him either a SoCo and Ginger or a Victory Golden Monkey (beer), depending on his mood du jour.  I'd order myself a sweet white wine or a Snakebite (1/2 Harp, 1/2 hard cider)

What is the best meal she has ever cooked you? 

Pete:  Gotta be the buffalo chicken dip...I would make love to that stuff if, ya know, I didn't have to deal with the burns and skin grafts.
Kari:  Broccoli, chicken and rice casserole, which he said was his favorite of all of the meals I make.

What is the worst meal she has ever cooked you?

Pete:  There was one, but I must have blocked it out 'cause I can't remember what it was.
Kari:  Leathery pork chops in the Crock Pot, definitely not my finest hour

What is the most-played song on her iPod? 

Pete:  Slayer's Angel Of Death (What can I say, she loves the classics). (not really, I swear)
Kari:  Two Step, Dave Matthews Band

What would she say is your most annoying habit?

Pete:  My attempts to express myself through burp.
Kari:  Extremely loud and scary burps that could wake the dead.

What is the last thing she does before she goes to bed?

Pete: Forgets to turn the TV off.
Kari:  I watch late night talk shows, and usually fall asleep during Jimmy Fallon's monologue.

If you could throw out one item of her clothing what would it be? 

Pete:  The purple jeans.
Kari:  Probably one of the 10 black cardigans I own.

What would you say is your favorite thing about her?

Pete:  The sound of her giggling/squealing when I tickle her.
Kari:  He likes that I've taken an interest in things he really cares about, like going to heavy metal concerts and watching hockey games.  He also likes that he can make me laugh.

What's her go-to drink at Starbucks? 

Pete:  Pumpkin spice latte during the fall, passionfruit tea lemonade any other time.
Kari:  In the summer, Venti Passion Tea Lemonade, sweetened

What's her blog's name?!

Pete: La Bella Vita.
Kari:  La Bella Vita, baby!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sunny Summer Swap Reveal

I participated in the Sunny Summer Swap, and was paired with Tammy from Tammy's Eclectic Corner.  Tammy is a super mom living in great state of Utah.  This swap's theme was none other than "Summer", my favorite season, so you know I had to participate!

I set out to find Tammy some of my favorite summer essentials, and she sent me the same.  I absolutely love summer, and summer is not complete with out great summer beauty products, iced tea and flip flops!  I hope Tammy loved everything I sent her.

Here's what I got from Ms. Tammy...

Talk about a great package!  I received a beach towel with vibrant summer colors, a great LARGE beach tote, an insulated mug, a set of bright, cheerful nail polishes, and a set of votive holders with adorable seashells on them.  I love everything!!  As a Floridian, I can never have too many beach towels or beach bags, and I'm really loving fun nail polishes for this summer.  All of these items will be put to good use beginning this month!  The insulated mug will come in handy when I'm enjoyed an icy beverage outdoors in the upcoming months, and the votive holders are already being used as decorations on my lanai.  Overall, this was a successful swap!

Many thanks to Tammy for the great items!

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Ceremonial Weekend

It's unbelievable that Monday is here already.  I feel like I was just welcoming the weekend on Friday night with a cold one in my hand.  Gah.  Anyway, this hasn't been a bad Monday, just a busy one with a lot of brainpower exerted.

Thinking back, this was a pretty great weekend.  I got to spend lots of quality time with Hubs, we ate some delish sushi on Friday night, and on Saturday we hit one of my favorite restaurants for lunch.

On Saturday night, I dragged Hubs to my Tampa Junior Women's Club's new member induction banquet.  I had a bit of a crisis trying to decide what to wear.  I've never been to something like this, and my biggest fear was showing up either way under-dressed or foolishly over-dressed.  I opted for something in the middle, along the lines of what I'd typically wear to work, but with dressier accessories.  As it turns out, I was a tad under-dressed, but not in a way that made me stand out like a sore thumb.  I guess I know what to wear for the banquet next year!  The event was held at Brio, which is delicious and totally not on my diet.  I had no idea they had banquet rooms, but they were very nicely appointed and turned out to be a great size for our group.

The induction ceremony was relatively short and sweet, just the way I like it.  Below is a picture of me (second from right) getting inducted into the club.  I'm not sure what the candles represent, but it was a nice touch with the mood lighting in the room.  While the ambiance was nice, but would have been better suited for a date night with Hubs, rather than a banquet with girlfriends.


The Juniors has been a great organization to be a part of this year.  I've had some wonderful opportunities to volunteer for charitable events and I've met some wonderful friends along the way.  I fell into this because one of my BFFs asked me to go with her to a new member social last Fall, and I ended up joining in a spur-of-the-moment decision.  The membership dues are actually pretty cheap and I figured it would be a good way to get out into the community and meet new people.  Plus, they serve wine at their meetings.  I was easily sold once I found out that little tidbit!  In all honesty, sometimes the best blessings come out of something done on a whim, because I've had so much fun this year!

On Sunday, Hubs and I went to our friends' house for a cookout and pool party.  I opted not to swim, but I did enjoy spending time with all of our closest friends and seeing all of our dogs together.  They're so cute when they're following each other around and playing with each other!  I learned about some new apps for my iPhone from my librarian friend who knows all of the latest technology, so I've been welcomed to the world of Vine and Cinemagram.  They're quite fun tools, once I figured out how to use them!

After we left our friends' house, we got caught in a torrential downpour that forced us off the highway and into taking local road back to our place.  The highway was just too unsafe with all of the standing water and blinding conditions, not to mention all of the lightning around us.  By the time we got home, though, it was back to being sunny with cloud-free skies!  You can always count on a late thunderstorm every day during the Florida summers.

And then the weekend came to a screeching halt.  It up and left without so much as a goodbye kiss or a note saying that it would call me later.  Pshaw.  And suddenly it was Monday, with a focus on work and all that jazz.  I'm already looking forward to next weekend, which is just four short days away and promises to be quite an eventful one.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Itty Bitty Beauty Swap Reveal

I'm a sucker and I know it.  My love of beauty products lures me into all sorts of situations of suckerdom, mainly in the form of swaps and subscription boxes.  Plus, getting surprises in the mail is totally my jam.

I found out about the Itty Bitty Beauty Swap hosted by Chaotic Goddess Swaps, and I instantly knew I had to participate.  I was paired with Kelsey from Running With My Tiara On.  Kelsey is a super cute teacher living in Germany with her military hubby.  She's newer to beauty products but did a great job choosing goodies for me.

Here are the contents of my package...

Revlon Lip Gloss in Shine City
Wet N Wild Glassy Gloss in Glass Confusion
Essence XXXL Shine Lip Gloss in Fabulous Fuschia
Wet N Wild ColorIcon in Don't Steal My Thunder
Maybelline Expert Wear Eyeshadow in Opal Lights
Revlon CustomEyes in Party Pops
Revlon Diamond Lust in Night Sky
Manhattan Intense Effect Eyeshadow Duo in Purpearls
Ponds Wet Cleansing Towelettes
Ponds Dry Skin Cream

Kelsey hooked me up!  Three eyeshadow palettes, an eyeshadow duo, a single eyeshadow, three lip glosses, Ponds wet cleansing wipes and Ponds moisturizer.  I loved everything!!  Kelsey did what a great swap partner should do--she listened to what I liked and threw in a few surprises.  The lip glosses are all beautiful on, and the eyeshadows are colors that I'll be sporting this summer.  I've actually never seen the Revlon Diamond Lust eyeshadow before, so I can't wait to give it a try next time I go for a smokey eye effect.

Many thanks to Kelsey for the awesome swap!!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Oh Happy Day!

Friends, today marks my husband and I's second wedding anniversary!  I'm so thrilled about it that I just want to shout it from the rooftops.  Two years of smiles and wedded bliss.  Two years of happy times and lasting memories.  Two years of becoming even more comfortable with each other than we ever knew we could be.  Marriage has been a beautiful thing!

Our wedding in Michigan two years ago was everything I wanted it to be, and we had such an amazing time.

Our wedding was a huge moment in Hubs and I's lives, but it was really just the start of a lifetime together.  I know that I've found the perfect person for me.  He accepts me for who I am, he doesn't judge me, and he respects me.  He thinks I'm pretty, even on days when I feel my ugliest.  This is surely the sign of true love.

We rarely argue with each other, and that's mostly because neither one of us wants to argue.  We're lovers, not fighters.  And being with Hubs is EASY.  I remember when I was single, I said to a friend of mine, "I'm only going to be in a relationship if it's as easy as being single."  When I met Hubs, that's just how it was.  Everything flowed easily and it didn't feel like work.  When we moved in together two months after getting engaged, things stayed easy.  And after we got married, things were still easy.  Even two years later, nothing has changed.  I realize that someday, things will get harder, particularly when we have kids, but I'm ready for that because we're starting with a rock-solid foundation.

That's not to say that Hubs and I have never argued.  We're human, after all, so a little bickering happens.  We have had some disagreements, but none of them escalated to being full-blown fights.  We've argued over why Hubs REFUSED to root for the Red Wings in the year they went to the Stanley Cup Finals (yes, really...), over my family calling at inconvenient times, and a couple of other things that were just silly in retrospect.  Major things have never caused a rift between us because we're so in sync.

For our anniversary tonight, Hubs brought home two dozen roses for me (yay!) and we went out to dinner at Maggiano's.  Nothing fancy, but we don't really need fancy.  We just need a quiet place with good food and we're set.

My pretties

This was a sweet night for both of us.  While we didn't go nuts for our anniversary this year, it was still perfect because we were together.  No frills, no fuss.  Just me and my buddy.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Hockey & Compromises: To Two Great Years!

Hubs is a wonderful, amazing guy and he really doesn't have any hobbies or interests that I can't handle.  His two major loves on God's green Earth (besides Bella and I) are hockey and heavy metal music.  Hockey is his favorite sport, and tends to dominate his life from October to June every year.

This year, we had an abbreviated hockey season due to that pesky lock-out, when spoiled, rich-kid owners and spoiled, rich-kid players couldn't agree on how much money they all were going to make.  Lame.  When the CBA was signed, I knew my 4 month hockey reprieve had just come to an abrupt end.  I was happy about hockey coming back, I really was, but not having my TV set commandeered and placed permanently on the NHL Network for all of those months was pretty awesome.

Since January, I've been what's known in the biz as a 'hockey widow'.  When hockey season started, I knew I could count on losing my husband to an endless barrage of hockey games, hockey blogs and YouTube videos of hockey fights and bad ref calls.  And don't forget about the Twitter, Facebook and various website all touting the latest hockey news.  This jazz always lasts until June, when the hockey gods bestow the Stanley Cup Finals upon us.  After the Stanley Cup is awarded, I get Hubs back, and my TV instantly flips over to HGTV for the remainder of the summer.  Just as it should.

Right now we're in the thick of the playoffs, and this year, Hubs has given up watching some playoff games so that I can watch The Voice, or whatever TV show suits my fancy that night.  I let him watch the hockey games and go to heavy metal concerts with him, and he watches lots of random reality TV shows and goes to Dave Matthews Band shows with me.  It's that kind of give and take, my friends, that has made us reach our two year wedding anniversary tomorrow without any major, blow-out fights or anything.  I've got nothin' but love for this guy and he makes my life easy.

(And, because this is a blog and I want to celebrate blogging, I'd like to thank Hubs for introducing me to a hilarious hockey blog written by two girls who know EVERYTHING about hockey, What's Up Ya Sieve?  It's totally impressive, and their blog features everything female fans would want:  Pictures of cute hockey players, slick humor and a healthy dose of sass.  My favorite weekly post is Foxy Friday, where they feature a hot, young hockey player in his prime.  Yup, they're definitely writing for the ladies!)

And now back to Hubs.  Not to brag about him too much, but he's done a lot for me over the years.  He is fabulous about doing dishes, laundry and taking out the trash, and he takes good care of me.   He still surprises me, brings me flowers and cooks me dinner on occasion, so I really have NO room to complain.  I know that a lot of men wouldn't do these things.  Marriage hasn't been hard for us like it is for some people, but we've had struggles that are inherent to life, like losing loved ones, changing jobs, having financial set-backs.  We've managed to get past those obstacles together, and knowing we're here to support each other has made us, as a unit, stronger.

Tomorrow night, on our anniversary, I'm going to raise a glass to the man who keeps me in clean threads and walks the dog every weekend morning so I can sleep in.  I'm a lucky, lucky girl.

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

La Bella Vita

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