Friday, November 21, 2014

Fab Friday Week In Review

Hiya lovelies!  Happy Friday.  TGIF.  Hallelu-yer, it's almost the weekend!  I'm ready for it, and I bet you are too.

This is my first week back to work after my 13-week maternity leave.  I thought it was GLORIOUS being home with Avery and having lots of time to bond, but alas, it was time to go back to the grind.  I went back to work on Monday and found plenty of work waiting for me.  Of course there was drama while I was out, but I should always expect that.  I've never worked for a drama-free employer.  I swear they don't exist.

Here are some stats from my first week back to work:
  • 1168 - Unread emails waiting for me, and that's with an Out of Office message on my account.
  • 5 - Voicemail messages waiting for me, which would have been far worse if they hadn't forwarded my phone to one of my assistants on my first day on leave.
  • 6 - Hugs I received from my bosses and co-workers on my first day back to work.  I only stayed in my office that day and didn't make the rounds, so the rest of the week was filled with more.  I lost count on those.  I'm just fortunate that everyone was so excited to have me back!
  • 15 - Files delivered to me on Day 1 by my coworker who took over the bulk of my work while I was gone saved up some "good stuff" (her words, not mine) for my return.
  • 1 - Employees who went AWOL while I was out.  My boss hired a temp to replace her;  I'm not thrilled.  (If I had a proper Grumpy Cat meme, I'd use it here.)
  • 1 - Ultimatum received from an employee, who threatened to quit after the first of the year if the leadership team won't meet their demands for more exciting work and more money.  However, said person doesn't have all of the knowledge and skills necessary to do things they say they want to do, and isn't taking 'no' for an answer.  (sigh)
  • 5 - New parking spaces outside of my building, which means I don't have to trek so  far in and out of the building every day.  It's the little things, people.
  • 3 - Workplace moms who have already dispensed their sage parenting advice to me.  It was not requested.  I'm absolutely sure there is more to come.
  • 1 - Baby swings that kicked the bucket, leaving my husband with very few devices that keep our daughter happy.  Right now, if Avery's not happy, nobody's happy, so I just ordered a new swing.  Never mind the fact that we have enough baby equipment in our house to accommodate triplets (no joke), but she only likes 1 activity mat and sometimes 1 bouncer.  Otherwise, she wants to be held and snuggled non-stop.  Send prayers that she likes the new swing--Hubs' sanity is riding on it!
  • 100.38 - Dollars spent on the Macy's baby apparel sale via lunchtime online shopping.  It's really cold here in Florida this week and I realized that we don't have anywhere near enough warm clothing for Avery.  I also bought some clothes for my niece for Christmas, so YAY for multi-tasking!
  • 2 - Nights that I was home late this week due to pre-planned after-work commitments and an emergency battery need.  Apparently every single baby item seems to need some special type of battery.  Hubs didn't love that he was being left alone for extra-long periods of time during his first week being a SAHD.  In his words, he was "thrown to the wolves".  Poor guy.  Luckily he's a wonderful daddy and he and Avery just got a lot of extra bonding time!
  • 5:30 - Time this morning that Avery woke up and refused to go back to sleep.  Every other day, she sleeps until 7:30, but on the Friday of a very long tiring week, she decided that she needed to start her day.  Many thanks to her for my early Friday morning wake-up call, followed by cute smiles and snuggles, and later followed by crying because she didn't get her bottle fast enough.  It's par for the course in Baby Land.
Overall, it's been a really good week, but stressful for all of us in my little family.  It will definitely get easier in time, once we have a new routine established and I'm back in the swing of things at work.

What were the highlights of your week? 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

5 Things I Love About Influenster

For the past couple of years, I've participated in forums and discussions through Influenster, loving the information and cool perks that are a part of being in this wonderful community.  If you haven't heard of Influenster, it is a website and app that allows users to share their opinions on products and experiences, and engage in meaningful dialogue about them in one convenient place.  They also send you really cool perks and products to try (called VoxBoxes), which never hurts!

There are so many things about this site that I love, but I'm going to share my top 5 with you.
  1. GREAT REVIEWS - I enjoy reading other peoples' reviews on products I'm considering buying, and I write my own reviews about the products and experiences that I've encountered.  The site provides a unique opportunity to interact with others who have tried the same products, and has given me insight into the ways others use products that I've also tried.  I still remember when an Influenster user mentioned using lip balm with an SPF on their hair part to prevent scalp sunburn!  This is useful stuff for a Floridian like me!  Mind. Blown.
  2. EASY PEASY - Reading and writing reviews doesn't take mountains of time.  Everything is quick and easy, and I don't have to jump through a bunch of hoops to write a review.  I also love that their app allows you to scan a product, and it automatically searched for reviews.  How amazing is that??  I love this feature!  Overall, less complication means that I write more reviews, read more of others' reviews and generally spend more time on the site.  Less work for better results is always a win for me!
  3. AWESOME NEW DISCOVERIES - I've discovered products in my VoxBoxes that I would have never tried otherwise.  I love the Rimmel Scandaleyes Retro Glam mascara that I was sent, and use it daily now.  I liked it so much that I bought them for my sister and my mom, who are both die-hard DiorShow users.  They never knew they'd like a Rimmel mascara so much!
  4. FREE PRODUCTS - You know those VoxBoxes that I mentioned?  You get them for free!  My husband loves that I try products for free so my beauty budget doesn't overflow into his entertainment budget or our baby budget.  They're usually packed with a handful of sample and full-sized products to try, then you review them afterward on the website or app.  You can also earn perks, such as a free bottle of wine or discounts on products or services.  Pretty cool, right?  Hubs sure seems to think so.
  5. SNAPPY APP - The app is designed for quick, on-the-go use, so everything can be accessed swiftly and easily.  I love that after you find a product, the menu on the product's page gives you links to everything you need on the fly:  Reviews, Q&A, a price comparison tool, overall user ratings, and more information about the product and the brand.  Lickity split and quick like a bunny.  I most frequently whip this app out in the drugstore when comparing products to see which one might work best for my skin or ailment, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.  It's my favorite way to get product information without having to scroll through endless web page trying to find the data points I need to make my purchasing decision.  Plus, saving time these days means more time for my baby girl, and we all know that I must maximize that time!

If you're not a member of Influenster, get to your computer or smart device and go to or download the Influenster app to sign up.  You won't be sorry!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

October Subscription Box Fun

The alternate title of this post was "Better Late Than Never" since I'm about a month late with this post, but with a new baby in the house, that's just what is happening these days!  Sorry 'bout that!

Remember awhile back when I said I was going to cancel all of my subscription boxes?  Well... that didn't exactly happen.  I kept them hanging on for awhile because I am a product lover and just couldn't quit those darn boxes.   My thought was that I should cancel my "luxuries" like subscription boxes and Massage Envy membership until I know what my budget will look like now that I have a baby, who necessitates diapers, formula, clothes, toys... You get the picture.  I want to make sure I'm not going to be broke and unable to afford the things we need for our baby.

In August, I finally pulled the trigger and cancelled Birchbox and Ipsy.  It was done in a moment of confidence and purpose, and I didn't feel bad about it.  Until the next day, when the thought made me a little sad.  Fast forward to today, and I don't really miss Birchbox, though I do find myself missing Ipsy.  Hmph.  I still have another month on my Popsugar Must Have box subscription, and I haven't yet cancelled my quarterly FabFitFun box.  That one's too awesome, and it's only quarterly so I'm going to try to keep that one going for a bit.  I did sign up for a few months of Glossybox along the way because I kept getting sweet offers for free products (hello, full-size Boscia bronzing BB cream!).  I don't know the future of my Glossybox subscription yet.

So, I haven't posted about any of my boxes in a few months, but I did get two last month that are worth talking about:  Popsugar Must Have and Glossybox.  Let's discuss!


Here's what was in the box...

  • Proganix Volume Root Boost Finish + Body Builder (full size) - $11.99
  • Tarte Power Pigment Lip Crayon in Flush (full size) - $24.00
  • Nails Inc. Westminster Bridge Matte Top Coat (full size) - $10.00
  • Sesha Botanical Hydra Mask (full size) - $9.00
  • Vince Camuto Amore Eau de Parfum (deluxe sample) - $5.73
  • Hello Fresh $40 off a food box subscription
This is my second month of Glossybox and what I can say is that the value is definitely there.  You pay $21/month and this month I received $60.72 worth of products (not counting the coupon), most of which were full size.  That's pretty awesome compared to many beauty subs.  

As far as the products go, I've tried most of them.  I love, love, love the Tarte lip crayon.  The Flush shade is perfect for my skin tone, and gives them a nice, rosy, slightly-glossy finish.  It's perfection on my sweet little lips!  The Proganix Root Boost spray is also really nice.  I love the scent, and it did do a nice job of building root volume for me.  This is my first time trying a Proganix product,and I'd love to try other products in this line.  The matte top coat was also pretty great.  I liked it on my finger nails, as it really enhanced the look of my standard polishes and made them look very different.  The Vince Camuto EDP was okay, but the scent doesn't stand out on my skin.  I normally like a floral fragrance, but I just wasn't wowed by this one.  I haven't tried the Sesha mask yet, and I haven't used the Hello Fresh coupon.  Overall impression:  Excellent!  I can't believe I waited so long to try Glossybox!

Popsugar Must Have

Here's what I got...
  • Happy Socks Animal Socks - $12.00
  • butter LONDON WINK Eye Pencil in Earl Grey - $18.00
  • Isaac Jacobs International Acrylic Picture Frame - $36.00
  • Mine Design Chalkboard Soy Message Ceramic Candle in Pomegranate - $24.00
  • Dean & Deluca Pumpkin Spice Malt Balls - $5.75
  • Nailed Kit Halloween Nail Art - $8.00
  • K. Hall Designs Shoreline Shea Butter/Olive Oil Soap - $10.00
  • Blue Jean Bar $40 off a blue jean box
This was another month where the value was fantastic.  The subscription costs $39.95/month, and this month's box was worth $113.75, not counting the coupon.  I really love everything in the box.  The nail art stickers were ADORABLE for Halloween, and I have plenty left for next year.  The soap smells great and is light and neutral enough for even my husband's liking.  The eye pencil is creamy and applies easily and evenly, so it will be part of my regular makeup routine this Fall.  The chalkboard candle is PERFECT as a decoration for my Christmas party (with a cute holiday message written across it!), and the fruity fragrance is perfect for any time of year.  The socks are super cute in a black, gray and hot pink leopard print, and will be a fun way to brighten up one of my work ensembles this winter.  The picture frame is also simple and perfect, and will probably end up sporting a picture of my baby girl and sitting on my desk at work.  Overall impression:  Once again, very, very good!  I sincerely love this sub.  

Have you subscribed to Popsugar or Glossybox?  
What are your impressions of them?  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Big News in Baby Land

So, remember when I said I was going back to work next week?  Well, the plan all along has been to put Avery in a great daycare just down the street from our home that is run through a local church.  I was psyched to use them since the staff was so sweet and they weren't quite as expensive as other centers in our area.

As we approached my return to work and sending Avery to daycare, Hubs and I talked it out and decided that we'd rather have someone take care of Avery at home a little longer.  In those discussions, we talked about who that should be and what would make most sense financially; Those were tough discussions.

In the end, we decided that Hubs will be taking a leave of absence from his job and staying home with Avery for the next 12 weeks after I go back to work.  While I'm beyond thrilled that Avery will get to be home with Daddy for a few more months, I'll miss being home and seeing her adorable smiling face all day.  I'll miss our own little moments, the early morning mommy-and-me naps and our afternoon shopping trips, but Hubs will get to develop his own special moments with her.  I love that they'll get to bond this way.

Hubs is nervous, and I'm nervous, too.  He's doing something hugely important and wonderful for our family, and I'm so freaking blessed to have a husband who WANTS to do this.  Not many men do.  But, I would be lying if I said I didn't wish it was me who would be staying home longer with Avery.  Nonetheless, I know she's in good hands, since Hubs is more than wonderful with her.  It's going to be a big change for Hubs, of course.  He's soon going to see how challenging it can be to stay home and play Mr. Mom (remember that 80's movie with Michael Keaton??) with a young baby who has reflux issues and growth spurts.  All parents know what fun these can be!  I told him that he'll find patience that he never knew he had, and he will get to be present for so many milestones and adorable, heart-melting moments.  Lucky dog!

Hubs promises to bring Avery to meet me for lunch sometimes, and send me videos and pictures so I feel like I'm also enjoying all of those important moments.  This arrangement will also give us a lot more flexibility around the holidays, too, since his work schedule was always a challenge and I have more ability to flex my schedule, take days off, etc.

Did I ever dream that I'd be working while Hubs stayed home with our baby?  Nope.  BUT, this is a great arrangement for us and I'm excited that we can make it happen.

I seriously can't wait to see how the next 12 weeks go.  We're going to be blessed and stressed and full of love for our little one and our life.  Man, we're so fortunate.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Feeling Fall -- What I've Been Up To Lately

I absolutely LOVE Fall, and I couldn't be happier that it's upon us.  It just started feeling like Fall here in Florida a couple of weeks ago, when temps started dipping into the 70's (and 50's and 60's in the evenings!).  It feels amazing to have weather that makes wearing hoodies and sweaters possible without sweating through said clothing!  If it gets a little cooler, I'm breaking those scarves and boots out of my closet/clothing jail!  Can't. Wait.

October was a super busy month for us, and it FLEW by.  I cannot even believe that it's November already!  We had a lot of fun in October, even with being busy and sometimes thought we were losing our minds.  Here's a recap of what I've been up to as of late:

  • Avery celebrated her first Halloween!  My husband wasn't sold on dressing her up in a costume since she wouldn't be trick-or-treating or going anywhere special that day (which is apparently the only reason to dress up in a costume...), so I found a cute but inexpensive My First Halloween outfit for Miss Avery to wear that day.  We ended up meeting a friend of mine for lunch, so she did get to show off her new duds.  It was also a beautiful night for trick or treating, with temps in the upper 60's and low 70's, so Hubs and I set up our lawn chairs in the driveway, brought Avery out with us in her Rock 'N Play (covered up with plenty of cozy blankets), and passed out candy.  We had a terrific time and had fun meeting more of our neighbors.

My smiley girl, dressed up in her Halloween gear.  Is she cute or what??

Our candy bowl... which was decimated by ravenous trick-or-treaters.
Yes, we were drinking Abita beer while passing out candy.  That's how we roll.

  • Before trick-or-treating on Halloween, I met my girlfriend, Stephenie, for lunch at a local sports bar and grill.  I walked in and the place must have just opened because there were three old dude at the bar chatting up the bartender, who turned and looked at me like I was an outsider walking into Cheers.  Awwwwkward.  I just did what I do best--acted nonchalant and like I was supposed to be there!  Stephenie showed up not long after that, thankfully, and we had a blast.  It was great to have some grown-up time again!  
  • I did some online shopping for work clothes and found some great deals.  I just need to buy some new work shoes this week and I'll be set for Monday.  I still can't believe that my feet got wider AND longer from being pregnant, as if gaining weight and going up a size (or two) in work pants wasn't bad enough.  Ugh.  I've had to say bye-bye to many pairs of lovely shoes. (Cue sad music.)
  • This past weekend was incredibly busy and productive.  My friend, Jess, and I went to a local Farmer's Market on Saturday morning and I scored all kinds of fresh produce and homemade bread for $20.  I then had the best grilled cheese sandwich of my life from a vendor.  This thing had cheddar cheese, brie, fig preserves and pine nuts, which was oozing from every side of their homemade toasted bread.  I was in heaven.
  • On Sunday, I met my friends for breakfast, then went to the Junior League Holiday Gift Market.  I scored a couple of cute personalized things for Avery and a new collar for my dog.  This is the first year where I didn't buy anything for myself, which is practically a miracle.  
  • On Sunday night, my friend Jess came over and made a delish pierogie dinner for us, then we watched The Walking Dead.  Do you watch this show???  It took me awhile to get into it, but now I love it!  This week's episode was decent, but not as crazy as the first few this season.  I can't wait for next week's episode so I can see what the rest of the gang is up to.
  • Pete was on daddy duty a lot this weekend while I was out and about, and he did great!  He and Avery are so sweet together.  She's recovering from her first cold, so I tried to avoid taking her out to place with lots of people last week and over the weekend.  She seems to be doing a bit better today, thankfully!
  • My maternity leave is almost up, and I'm enjoy my last few days solo with Avery.  We don't have too much planned this week except a few errands and just spending quality time together.  This means excessive snuggling (my little girl is a major cuddle bug!) and time spent cooing and making noises at each other.  Fun times over here.  Next week, however, it's back to reality for moi!
  • The weekend after Halloween, Hubs, Avery and I went to Orlando to visit my sister's family.  We had a blast, and even found time to roast marshmallows and make s'mores using leftover Halloween candy.  If you've never had a s'more made with a Reese's pumpkin instead of a Hershey bar, you're REALLY missing out.  Just sayin'.
  • I have been watching my Michigan State Spartans football every weekend and cheering the team on, even through that sad-sack loss to Ohio State.  That was a heartbreaker.  I'll keep cheering them on, though, because I LOVE my team.  Avery has been sporting her green and white every week, and we'll keep it up throughout the season.  
  • I barely decorated my house for Halloween because I was so freaking busy, crazy and tired from taking care of the baby, the dog, a bunch of house-related crises, as well as making trips to see my sister and parents in different cities.  It was an exhausting month!  I did, however, manage to set up a few fall decorations in time for Thanksgiving, and loaded my Wallflowers plug-ins with fall scents.  Woo hoo!  I feel incredibly accomplished for this
I hope you've all been having a lovely Fall and had a fab Halloween!  

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

La Bella Vita

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