Thursday, July 25, 2013

Home Sweet Home (Almost)

I haven't been a good blogger lately.  I haven't had the time to spend on writing creative posts, despite tons of ideas floating around in my noggin.  I have found some time to blog about a few things I really love (subs, beauty products and my dog, mainly), but there are sooooo many more things that I want to get out here.  I just desperately want to get back to the meat and potatoes of blogging and documenting all of the great ideas that have been coming to me over the past couple of months.  I'll get back there, eventually.

The major thing that has taken me away from blogging lately is Hubs and I's search for a new house.  We FINALLY decided to look for a house after living in my teeny tiny condo for three years.  I've actually lived here for 8 years, and it's been a good little place for me until I got married.  We simply can't do this cramped style of living anymore, and frankly, moving into a bigger house is long overdue.

After looking for about a month and seeing TONS of duds, Hubs and I finally found a house that we can see ourselves living in.  It's in our desired neighborhood, but literally at the tip top of our budget.  I discovered that that's what its going to take to get the kind of house we want in the neighborhood we want.

Here's a first look at our future casa...

Ta-da!  It's a very typical newer Florida house style, but it's twice the square footage of our condo.  We are going to be spoiled by all of the space!  The yard has been maintained very well, and includes pineapple plants and banana trees.  We love how bright and sunny the house is, we adore the vaulted ceilings in every room and the split floor plan is going to be perfect for us.  Yay, yay, and yay!

There are some downsides, though.  The current owners were very paint-happy, and they've painted nearly every surface some crazy-ass color.  And not just walls.  We're talking doors, trim, hinges and baseboards, too.  Holy cripes, some parts of that house are so ugly, due entirely to poor paint color choices by the current owners.  We'll be investing in a full-house paint job before we even move in.  We are also going to be updating a lot of the light fixtures in the house, as well as the flooring.  Thankfully, we have some money to put into making improvements, but some more expensive projects will have to be put off for awhile.  I'm okay with that, though, because I know we'll be living in this house for a long time.  I will definitely be posting before and after pictures for you all to see!

We'll close on the house on August 29th, and then the real craziness begins.  August and September are going to be whirlwind months for us, but I've never been so excited to take on this type of stress.  I just know the house's transformation will be amazing and we can't wait to make it our own.  I could bask in this glow of happiness forever!

When you bought your house, what were the most exciting and stressful aspects?
Do you have any tips for making our move easier?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

FabFitFun VIP Summer Box

Okay, I have to confess.  I've been getting one more subscription box.  It's kind of a sickness, really, and I've committed to paring back my subscription boxes once Hubs and I buy a new house.  I heard about Guiliana Rancic's new FabFitFun VIP box several months ago, and it sounded amazing.  The blogger preview boxes had great items and it looked like a hell of a value.  It costs $50 and new boxes come out once every three months.  The cost is a little steep for me, to be honest, but I thought I'd try it once and see how I liked it.  Plus, the preview boxes they sent to a number of well-known bloggers were so impressive!

I received my Spring box in April, and was not thrilled with it.  Several of the items from the blogger preview boxes weren't in my box, and instead I got some extra ugly jewelry.  I stepped out of my comfort zone and emailed FabFitFun's customer service to express my disappointment.  I seriously hate complaining, but I just felt compelled to tell them about my experience.  They immediately offered me a free Summer box for my trouble.  I mean, how could I pass up a free box??  So I agreed, and I just got my Summer box this past week.

This box was far better than the previous box, and I think they're learning that habitual subscription box addicts subscribers are a picky sort.  We expect great value and consistency, as well as the opportunity for new discoveries.  I was really impressed by the overall value of the box, which has a combined product value of over $250.  Most of the products in the box were full-size, and the travel sized items were still pretty generous.

Here's what I got...

Pur-lisse Pur-delicate Face Wash -  Full size ($36.00)
Ivory + Mason Wesley Sunglasses ($135.00)
It Haircare Surf Spray - Full size ($6.99)
Evian Mineral Water Spray - Full size ($12.00)
Infinity Sun Glow on the Go Sunless Tanning Spray - Travel size ($35.00)
Catalina Su Lipgloss - Full size ($14.00)
Orly Nail Polish - Full size ($8.00)
Yes to Cucumbers Soothing Hypoallergenic Facial Towelettes - Travel size ($2.99)
Kind Nuts & Spices Maple Glazed Pecan & Sea Salt ($1.39)

Total Value:  $251.37

I actually haven't tried a few of these products yet, but I really like the ones that I have.  The Evian mineral water spray is incredibly refreshing, and far more useful than I had initially anticipated.  I also liked the Yes to Cucumbers facial towelettes, which is surprising because I normally don't like the scent of cucumber.  The sunnies are cute, but Hubs says they don't flatter my face.  Color me disappointed!  I'll probably hang on to them for trips to the beach.  I hate taking my expensive sunglasses there because things always seem to get lost, broken or covered in sunscreen during beach outings.

I'm excited about trying the Pur-lisse face wash because the reviews online gush about how fabulous it is.  The granola bar is coming to work in my lunch next week, I'll be trying out the lip gloss and surf spray as part of my weekly beauty routine.  I'm not sure I'll be trying the sunless tanning spray or the Orly nail polish. I hear Orly polishes are good, but neon orange isn't a shade that I'm anxious to wear.  

Hopefully the next box will be just as good.  If you want to give the quarterly FabFitFun VIP box a try, use my referral code to sign up!  The code is 712393, and you'll get $10 off your first box if you sign up before August 11th.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Gratuitous Pet Photos

Most everyone who knows me knows how much I love and adore my dog, Bella.  A.K.A. Piglet.  A.K.A. Stinkerbella.  We've spent the last 12 years together, growing up with each other and making each other infinitely happy.  Life was not always so rosy though.  The first 2 years of Bella's life were hell (for both me and her) because she refused to get house trained and hated being crated while I was at work.  She also liked to chew everything I owned, from my favorite shoes to my high school yearbooks, and even some bed sheets.  Those were some rough years, and there were times when I actually thought about taking her back to the Human Society.  Now, 12 years later, I'm extraordinarily glad that I stuck by her and worked to train her into the sweet, lovable girl that she is today.

Well, she's mostly sweet and lovable.  She gets in these little moods once every few months or so where she becomes bitchy and doesn't want to be touched, loved-on, snuggled, or experience anything remotely affectionate.  She just wants us to walk her and feed her, then leave her alone.  I've learned to just wait out those moods, and within a week or two, she's back to being her adorable little self again.  She's been uber affectionate with Hubs and I over the past few days, so we know for sure that she's out of her funk.  I love her, moodiness or not.

Now for some cute recent pictures of my sassy little gal...

As you can see, one of her favorite places to sit is on the end of our couch, on or near the red throw pillows.  This kiddo loves sitting on blankets and pillows, and she destroyed several sets of throw pillows for the couch due to her intense desire to form them into little nests.  I finally just went to Ikea and bought cheap pillow inserts with machine washable covers.  Now I just need to buy new inserts and throw the covers in the washing machine after she does her handy work to them.  No fuss, no muss.  No more searching for perfect red throw pillows that will only end up getting ruined.

Having Bella as my trusty pooch has been so rewarding.  Sure, there have been trying moments, but the good has definitely outweighed the bad.  Bella will be turning 13 this fall, but has shown very few signs of getting older.  Recently she has started to be more apprehensive about jumping up on tall things (beds, couches, etc.), but she is still quick and lively.

I want Bella to live a long and happy life, so I'll continue to take great care of her and spoil her in the manner to which she has become accustomed.  And great dogs should be spoiled rotten.  I always said that if reincarnation exists, I want to come back as a dog with a great owner.  That's the life.  And Bella definitely has that.

Love her.  Love her so much.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

July POPSUGAR Must Have Box

Hi Friends!!  I'm so overjoyed that it's the weekend that I don't know what to do with myself.  I've been busy for most of the day, but it just seems like I should be doing even more.

On to more important news:  I'm happy to report that I got my POPSUGAR Must Have box on Wednesday and it did not disappoint!

I know that I rave about POPSUGAR's Must Have box like I invented it, but no.  I'm just a mere fan.  This box is one of my favorite little treats each month.  For $35, you're guaranteed to get over $100 worth of fun products that follow a monthly theme.  It's always a bargain and I have discovered some of my favorite products through this service.

Wanna see what this month's box entailed?  Of course you do.

Mighty Tea Leaf Ginger Peach Iced Tea Bags ($6.25)
Tovolo King Cube Ice Tray ($8.00)
NCLA As If! Nail Polish ($16.00)
Supergoop SPF 30 Anti-Aging City Sunscreen Serum ($42.00)
BaubleBar Rose Gold Double Curb Chain Necklace ($30 estimated)
Hannahmax Baking Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Crunchy Cookie Chips ($6.00)

Total Value:  $108.25

I really like this month's box!  This is the second month in a row where I've been happy with the variety of products and type of products given.  There was a brief streak in the recent past where I was disappointed with some of the items chosen, but POPSUGAR seems to have listened to feedback provided by its subscribers.  The recent boxes have been pretty awesome.

The rose gold necklace is versatile, though it might resemble something worn by Mr. T.  I'm going to need to wear that with just the right outfit to avoid looking like a pimp.  

I don't have much use for a jumbo ice cube tray, so that may end up being a gift to my cocktail-toting brother-in-law.  We find that cocktail themed gifts always go over well.

I actually like the lavender nail polish, but can't believe that it retails for $16.00 per bottle.  That seems steep for nail polish, but I'm sure nail polish junkie would pay it.  I tend to put non-traditional (read: red or pink) polish colors on my toes, so now I have yet another new polish for my upcoming pedi.  This seems to be the summer of crazy polish colors!

I was very excited to get the Supergoop Sunscreen Serum in this month's box.  It's perfect for summer, and I hear that the Supergoop products are great for your skin.  It doesn't smell that hot, but I don't mind as long as it does its job.  I also expected the texture to feel different since it's billed as a serum, but it's actually got the texture of regular sunscreen.

The Hannahmax Cookie Chips are actually quite delicious!!  My husband even tried them and gave them a thumbs up.  I plan to buy more of these, stat.

So there you have it!  Another successful month as a POPSUGAR Must Have subscriber.  If you want to join, use the coupon code REFERFRIENDS to get $5 off your first box.  Oh, and tell them I sent you!

Happy Saturday!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Finding Our First House

Hubs and I decided two weeks ago that we were ready to look for our first house, and I couldn't have been more happy.  I wanted to shout from the rooftops, WE'RE FINALLY DOING IT!!  WE'RE FINALLY GOING TO BUY A HOOOOOUSE!!  I've been ready for this for the past two years, but the timing just never seemed right.  I'm already a homeowner, since I purchased my condo long before Hubs was a glimmer in my eye.  We're saddled with this puppy now, but it's WAY too small for us, let alone kids.  No, I'm not preggers yet, but I want to be.  Soon.  Soooo, that means we need to get our booties in gear to find our first house.  We figure that we'll rent out the condo for awhile and see how that goes.

We started our house hunt by looking at a handful of homes last week, and we left that first house hunting trip feeling a little discouraged.  We just weren't finding the kind of house that we wanted.  Some houses were beat up, others had weird floor plans and others were located in gross neighborhoods.  I couldn't believe that our budget would buy us so little.

That's when Hubs, who is amazing at getting involved, started scouring, and he found another handful of houses in our target areas that our Realtor hadn't shown us. (I have no idea why she didn't show them to us, but I'm trying not to get stupid over it.)  I immediately got on the ball and emailed our Realtor, who scheduled us for some showings earlier this week.  These houses were MUCH closer to the kind of house we are looking for, and we found some neighborhoods that felt like us. Sweet jeebus, finally!

While we found one house that we particularly loved, it was located right off of a very busy road.  It was the 2nd house into the neighborhood, and I just know me.  I'm a worry wart.  I would worry about us having children who will undoubtedly play outside near said busy road, and I'd be filled with paranoia about something terrible happening.  If we could have moved that house down the street by 8 or 10 lots, we would have put an offer on that house.  But alas, it was not to be.  I can change a lot of things about a house, but I can't change it's lot.  On to the next.

We looked at one house that was the undoubtedly the nicest house in its neighborhood.  The other houses in this neighborhood were pretty disgusting, but this house was a gem by comparison.  It was completely remodeled, had a huge lot, and a gorgeous pool.  Heck, the lady of the house turned one of the bedrooms into a huge walk-in closet, complete with a wall of shoes and dressing vanity.  It looked like a boutique rather than someone's closet, and I was so impressed that I snapped a couple of pictures.

I told Hubs that he's lucky that I don't own that many pairs of shoes.  In reality, I'd love a shoe collection like that, but I know Hubs would fight me to the death over taking up that much closet space.

The dressing table was sick.  All of the jewelry was displayed on little racks and in little baskets, kind of like my friend's boutique in Palma Ceia.  There was also another display of necklaces on the opposite wall that I didn't capture.  This chick knows how party.  I can tell that we'd be fast friends.  But alas, I couldn't deal with the level of disrepair of the other houses in that neighborhood, no matter how awesome this house was.  Another thing I can't change about a house:  its neighbors.  Next!

Hubs and I have been dying to see one house, but every time our Realtor requests a showing, the owner turns it down.  Seriously.  They must not really want to sell their house!  I've pretty much given up on that one.

We're officially keeping our Realtor busy, because tomorrow we're going to see another house.  This one has some issues, but it's in a neighborhood we really like and the price is on the low end of our budget.  We also found another house today that's worth a look, so we may see that sometime early next week.  Hopefully more houses will come on the market this month so we have some options.

I'm stoked that we're looking at houses, but it's so stressful!!  I feel like all I do is think about houses.  How many bathrooms does it have?  How about bedrooms?  Does it have a pantry?  Is that an unpermitted enclosed porch on the back?  Yikes, have they really put pink ceramic tile throughout the entire house?  Why don't these people clean their houses before they have a showing?  GAH!  It's enough to drive a person to drink.  I suppose that's why I'm on glass of wine numero dos right now.  Hopefully all of this gets easier!

For those of you who have been house-hunting recently, how did you do it?  
Did you find your house quickly or did you take your time finding just the right one?  
Did you take pictures and notes of every house, or did you rely on memory?

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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