December 31, 2012

For Auld Lang Syne, My Dear

Well, here we are. 
It's officially New Year's Eve. 
Time to say goodbye to 2012.
image source
I'm kind of sad all of a sudden... because, while a new year is always exciting, it's also like letting go of a dear friend you've loved for 365 days, then filing their photographs into a memory box to casually look at and reminisce at some point in the future.

Maybe it's because I'm getting older, but lately time feels like sand slipping through my fingers - tiny particles, each one a moment that can't be replaced, then falling into a million other moments that will soon be forgotten. And all the while I notice my body is working differently, gray hairs are growing like grass, little kids I once babysat are now graduating high school, and my nephew's starting to pronounce his S's like a pro. Sometimes I wish time could just stop forever...

Then again, I'm only 25 years old. Even though I forgot how old I was for 5 whole minutes, I'm going to go ahead and say I've got some amazing moments waiting for me in 2013 and beyond. Life only gets more precious as time goes by, and that means finding more reasons to make the most out of it. I wonder who I'll meet, what I'll learn, and how life will change me... we can only wait and see, I suppose :)

I remembered this time last year I blogged about some goals I would like to accomplish in 2012. I figured I would review those and grade how we did...

To work hard, save our money, and buy a house.
D+. We've definitely worked hard, but saving money hasn't happened yet, nor the home buying adventure, but I suppose I was wishful thinking at that time... we've got a long road to go still!

To finish school and start working in careers that make us happy.
A. I've finished school, Josh loves his job, and I'm pretty darn happy working part time while being able to blog and freelance. That's huge for us!

To unleash fear and go after my dreams full force. 
C. I started offering blog design services this past year, which was a big deal for me, but haven't launched a shop or really focused on going after self employment "full force." I'm definitely taking my time on the business side of things/dragging my feet - whatever you want to call it. Some people dive in quick and easy... I guess I'm one of those people that needs more time dipping my toes in the water, getting used to it, and waiting for the right moment to submerge myself completely.

To enjoy the moments and not let them pass us by.
A. I'm not sure why I wrote it that way, because moments are bound to pass us by eventually... obviously. But, I have paid much more attention to little moments in life - whether it be a lunch, a conversation, or simply staring into a night sky - I've been much more aware of the abundance of beauty and fortune in my life, and try my hardest not to take any moment for granted.

To take good care of our health and home.
F. Yikes. We didn't even try on this one... like, at all. Oops.

To show love towards each other every single day.
A+. We've gotten along more than ever this past year despite overcoming some serious challenges. With each hurdle we pass our love seems to grow deeper and deeper. We laugh a little more and fight a little less. I understand when people say they love their spouse more than yesterday... tis true when you have a great man by your side and you're both willing to fight for one another.

I think that averages out to be a solid B. Not bad, not bad... but then again, I didn't put many expectations on myself.

I have to say overall, I'm planning on being a much more goal oriented person in the new year - taking my dreams seriously and organizing my pathway step by step. On the blog I plan on introducing a new design layout, launching an online shop (even if it only has one product!), offering more design freebies/inspiration, practicing my photography, and getting back to my blogging roots by eliminating the majority of my sponsor spots and blogging more from the heart.

There are so many ideas floating through my head - how I can improve this blog, what needs to change, and where I want it to evolve, but I guess I want to know what YOU think. I'd love it if you took a moment to comment what you love most about my blog and what you'd like to see more of in the new year - it would make my day! But if you don't want to answer that, just read and know this...

I genuinely appreciate you - your views, your likes, your shares, your comments, your support. Having this outlet has brought more meaning to my life in 2012, more confidence in myself, and more belief that dreams can come true. I feel so grateful to be connecting with each and every one of you and being a part of this community. Thanks for the amazing year-round love and daydream believing - I hope you have a beautiful New Year!

P.S. Now grab some tissues and watch these with me (sorry for any spoilers!):

December 28, 2012

Grime, Gumption & a Giveaway

Well, hello friends!

Congratulations - we made it through the holidays in one piece. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and are getting back into the swing of things.

I'm slowly getting there... very slowly.

As the new year gets closer I've had overwhelming thoughts of change and how I want to evolve in 2013. One goal in particular stands out from the rest...

The other night I was explaining to Josh (well.. bitching, rather) how much I want to improve the condition of our home.

You see... I used to love to decorate, keep our house tidy, and invite people over. Just last Thanksgiving we cooked and hosted a small get together with my family. I'm not sure what happened exactly, but little by little over the past year I've seen our space transform and dwindle into... well, a complete and utter mess. I'm not posting any pictures, because, seriously... you don't want to see that. But I'm honestly ashamed for being a woman and not possessing a shred of domesticity. For some reason I've stopped trying to make our home feel special and it's been weighing on me all year.

During my rant (while I tried to blame most of it on Josh) he gave me a swift kick in the nuts (that is, if I had nuts) and told me I simply need to try harder. See, part of the problem is Josh and I both seem to easily latch on to one another's habits, so if one isn't trying, the other won't be either. But if one is motivated and gets things going, the other will likely follow. So he promised he would fulfill his end of the deal and help clean when he saw that I was putting forth an effort. Because, I admit it... sometimes I'm guilty of ranting and then waiting for him to do something first, or just do it all...oops.

Honestly though, I think I get overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done, so I talk myself out of it then find something else to do. When I explained this to Josh he said to just take it one task at a time, and then challenged me to wake up early the next day and clean the bathroom.

The bathroom. The room that I believe gets the most spider action, has the most grime and dirt, and is where organization hasn't been kept in years. As much as I wanted to fight it, I also wanted to make him proud of me as his wifey and be the kick start we needed to putting our home together again.

So yesterday morning, I woke up, and I cleaned that godforsaken bathroom!

OK, I skipped over the tub and floors... and toilet, but everything else was cleaned, wiped down, and most importantly - organized. I made a big dent, you guys, and it felt good. I mean, I literally gave the trash can a bath... I wish I was kidding.

One of the motivating factors? My older sister got me this beautiful jewelry box set for Christmas and I wanted to set it up. Once I cleaned up and put things in order, I found room for it, ditched my old ways, and put it to use. Now I like to just sit there, stare at it, and admire how gorgeous it looks...

I know it's only one tiny corner of our living space, but hey, it's a start!

The point is... I've realized I need to start being more responsible and self disciplined. I've seen what laziness and procrastination can do, and it's not only ugly, but it's affected me in so many other ways - my mind, my body, my attitude. Having order in life leads to success in more ways than one, and I'm ready to stop resisting it. I guess my parents were on to something... ;)

I'm so grateful my husband showed me some tough love and helped me take responsibility for my actions, er... non-action. One thing I despise is when people pity themselves over a certain aspect of their life, but then never seek to change it or take anyone's advice. I realized I had been doing the same thing for months, and I refuse to be that person that wishes and dreams but never has enough gumption to make it happen.

So, being inspired by Kate Winslet in The Holiday, I am aiming to be a woman of gumption in 2013. I think it's time. Don't you agree?

Changing subjects - you might have spotted a certain white necklace and earring set being displayed in my jewelry holder... isn't it so pretty? I've been wanting to join the bib necklace trend for months now, and when I found this beautiful set from Blue Bird Bride I fell in love. I needed an extender for it to compliment my neckline, but other than that it works lovely with my wardrobe!

To make things lovely for you (and as a reward for hearing out my pitiful confession)
Blue Bird Bride is giving away a $20 gift card to her shop!

The winner will be announced on January 5th, 
but if you're ready to shop early use code BLOG20 for 20% off your order :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

P.S. Happy Birthday to my older sister, Amber! She's my best friend and domestic inspiration... I can only aspire to be as responsible, determined, and successful as she is someday :)

December 21, 2012

The Spirit of Giving & Group Giveaway

Well I hope you're alive and well today... and not on fire, underwater, buried in rocks, lost in smoke, or sinking in volcanic lava... and, I truly hope I didn't only work on this post during the last night of my life... that would be tragic!

You know what I would be really proud of if this was, in fact, my last day on earth?

Josh and I finished our Christmas shopping early this year! 
Three whole days ago. That's called accomplishment in our book. 

It feels so, so good to be on top of things for a change. Only thing left to do is wrap, but that can wait... gotta squeeze in a little procrastination somewhere, right?

We seem to go a little overboard during the holidays, maybe spending too much and going Christmas crazy... apparently we almost "outdid Santa," as my sister put it. I don't know what it is, but when we have the money to spend, we want to buy ALL the things!!! We can't help it. We both feel the Christmas spirit most when doing something nice for our loved ones, and we don't have many people to buy for, so ya know, why the hell not? I like being the baller auntie with off the chain gifts :)

So in the spirit of gift giving, my sponsors and friends put together one hell of a giveaway this month! There's EIGHT fab prizes totaling an estimated value of $175 - whoa! Check out the goods, show these giving ladies some love, and don't forget to pay attention to those discount codes!

blog  shop  twitter  facebook  instagram }

blog  shop  twitter  facebook  pinterest ♥ instagram }

blog  twitter  facebook }

blog  shop  twitter  facebook  pinterest  instagram }

blog  shop  twitter  facebook  pinterest  instagram  bloglovin  hellocotton }
blog  twitter  facebook }

blog  twitter  facebook  instagram  pinterest }

blog  shop  twitter  facebook  bloglovin  pinterest  instagram }


December 20, 2012

5 Unconventional Christmas Songs

If you're still wondering what to get all of your friends and family for Christmas, but you don't have much money... how about making a CD with your personal holiday favorites? It's thoughtful, inexpensive, and easy to do. Plus, you can make it extra special by making your own CD cover. Josh and I did this last year when we didn't have much bank to break and it worked out really well!

Speaking of holiday favorites, I don't know about you, but I can only take so many Christmas trees to rock around before the holiday radio tunes have tuned me out. It's nice to mix it up with some uncommon covers of the classics. I felt like sharing a few of my favorites below (titles are linked to YouTube). Enjoy!

image source
image source

image source

What are some of your favorite holiday tunes? 
Which ones tune you out?

December 19, 2012

Me Myself & I... Round 6!

It's here! My favorite day of the month - time for another round of Me Myself & I... holiday edition. If you noticed my Twitter typo last week, you'll know I got a little too excited and almost posted it last Tuesday... oopsies. 

You may also have noticed our monthly tradition was pushed to the day after its usual scheduled date so something more important could be in the spotlight. Since I already spoke on my scattered thoughts about the tragedy over the weekend, I only felt it appropriate to show my support of silence, since I learned first hand that sometimes words aren't enough to comfort others, no matter how heart felt they are.

I hope you all take a few moments to join us this round, I think the world could use a little holiday spirit today, don't you think?

 What was your favorite gift given to you as a child?
I loved Christmas as a child, we always had a ton of gifts, but I don’t remember a lot of specifics... seriously, something is wrong with my memory. But I do remember one year when we got a huge trampoline - the box took up most of the room and me and my sisters were so thrilled!
image source
 Christmas is almost here, what is that one Christmas song you could listen to on repeat?
Ah! Only ONE song? I love so many... but there's something about "Please Come Home For Christmas" by Bon Jovi. I remember my Mom blasting this on the way to church on repeat while growing up - she seems to have influenced a lot of my music choices. Though, since I've posted it already in my monthly playlist, I'm going to share Unwritten Law's version... amazing!

What are a few of the items on your Christmas list this year?
Nikon Camera (check), Wacom Tablet (check), Juicy Couture Perfume (check) hubby did a lot of early gifting this year! But I'm the same way... I'm not so good with surprises or keeping secrets for more than 5 minutes :/ I'd say the only thing else I'd like to get is a jewelry box - the tiny bowls and towel rack method isn't working out anymore... a set up like this would be most preferable:
image source
Do you and your family have any special holiday traditions? Explain.
Growing up it was a big tradition for my Mom's side of the family to get together on Christmas Eve. I have a huge Italian family that has been getting together on Christmas Eve since my great grandparents held it at their house back in the day. Since then the family has grown quite a bit. We rent out a hall, have a big potluck dinner, sing carols, meet Santa, and run a raffle... all with wine involved. Italians + Meatballs + Wine = Good Time.
image source
Which do you prefer: wrapping paper or gift bags? Why?
I love the art of wrapping with paper - especially newspaper - I get to be much more creative and hands on. But, if I'm looking for the easy way out, I think gift bags are a much more do-able option - cute, quick, and the giftee gets to reuse the bag next year.
image source

Ready to link up #MMI style?

My Beautiful, Crazy Life

As much as I love to break 'em, there's only a few rules to abide by...

-Follow each of your hosts:
December's Co-Hosts: Consider Me Inspired & Rays of Purple
My Beautiful, Crazy Life // KV's Confessions
Whispering Sweet Nothings // Life of the Wife // For Love of a Cupcake
-Grab the button and place it in your post
-Put the button in your side bar to help spread the word (optional)
-Click around on a few other bloggers and get to know some new friends!

...oh, and please practice good manners and only link up MMI posts, thank you!

{Note: If you submit a question via this form, you have a chance to co-host with us!}

December 15, 2012

Speaking Out

A co-worker told me the news yesterday.

"Did you hear about the shooting in Connecticut?"

"What shooting?"

"It was at an elementary school."

That's when my heart dropped and I stopped breathing as my friend looked up the name of the town. I didn't know where Newtown was, I had to look it up on the map. But the thought of my mother first came to mind... she teaches at an elementary school in my home town in Connecticut.

Then I thought... although it wasn't me, someone lost their mom today.

I thought of my niece who is 5 years old. Silly. Playful. Innocent.

Then I thought... someone lost their niece today.

Someone lost their child, their baby, the whole meaning of their life.

And then there are those innocent victims who lost their lives...
There are those poor kids who survived, but are left terrified...
There are the parents, friends, and community who have lost their sense of security...

There were so many questions and so much anger being built up inside me yesterday. I didn't even know what words to choose to accurately convey my feelings. Even now, writing this today, feels like it won't make much of a difference.

I'm usually silent when something like this gains massive attention throughout the world. I haven't spoken out in the past, even as I've read about elections, hurricanes, and past shootings. I feel like, even if I knew what I wanted to say, I know it won't ever be enough to properly reflect the devastation... so I choose to stay silent.

But today I feel different. I see panic rising. I see people losing hope.

I hear people demanding for more gun control from the government...
I hear people blaming it on the mental health of the gunman...
I hear people praying to their God...

The truth is... we are not protected no matter how much we want to feel safe. This could have happened to anyone, at any age, in any town, in any building, at any time. There's no control over anything. This is life. It's unpredictable. We are mortal and flawed. Some people are good and some people are bad... that is all I can conclude from this.

The sad thing is... a few months down the road this won't be the headlining story in the media anymore. Most people will carry on and put it in the back of their minds, because they have to, because it's too painful to think about every day.

But the families in Newtown... they're going to deal with this every day. They're going to have to heal somehow. I don't know how anyone overcomes something like this. I can only assume they react in a multitude of ways... cry, ache, mourn, question, blame, hate... until there is nothing left but to place the memory in their heart and move forward.

There really are no words to appropriately explain the thoughts going through my mind, but I didn't want to be silent anymore.

My heart and thoughts are with the families of the victims, the members of the community, and every one else whose heart is aching over this tragic event. Try to find peace in your daily lives, hug your families, hold them tight, and try to carry on without losing hope in humanity.

In the end, hope is all we really have.

December 13, 2012

Good Gift Giving Lessons (& Giveaway!)

OK this is hilarious... and I totally didn't do it on purpose, but as I was putting together this post I was literally eating a Christmas cookie (with sprinkles) and drinking a beer (it's true, check my Instagram - there's definitely a shot of me stuffing my face with a sprinkled sugar cookie).

Not that funny yet, I know. But look...

Keywords: Sprinkles and Booze. See, I wrote this introduction after I realized what happened... she is obviously inspiring me with her blogging powers without me even knowing it, and it's pretty awesome. Also, in case you're wondering - yes, it's a delicious combination :)

But in all seriousness - she's an inspiration outside of the cookies and beers. She's a newer blogger freshly graduated from The Blogcademy with a mission to sprinkle her readers with creative, entertaining, and straight-from-the-heart content. It's so refreshing to read her blog, so that's why I asked her to guest post today, because I knew you would want to hear her tips on being a good gifter... take it away girl!

Give the Gift of Good Gift Giving

Did you get an awful sweater last Christmas and never had the heart to attempt to return it back to the store? Or how about the Snuggie that your aunt thought was oh so necessary for you to have? Part of the magic of Christmas as an adult is getting presents that you would never want to own. This can all be prevented if everyone took a moment to get better at gift giving. I am here to give you a few helpful tips on how to not end up on the "worst gift giver" list.

Two of the biggest issues that people have when buying a gift is they either think the person has everything already or has no idea what the person would be interested in. How many times have you heard a wife say "My husband bought me a vacuum for Christmas," and you have to pretend to be happy for her. Most men and women don't want anything 'practical' or 'useful' as a gift. People want things that are going to make them happy and feel good.

The best way to go about figuring out what to buy someone this holiday season is by being a detective. I know that sounds intense, but I promise, it isn't. Take that person out for lunch or dinner and strike up a conversation. Ask them questions like "What's your favorite color?" or "Do you have any hobbies that I don't know about?" Work it into the conversation so it doesn't seem like you're trying to figure out what to buy them.

A few of my favorite questions that I like to ask are:

Who is your favorite superhero?
What's your favorite scent?
I love horror movies. Are you as insane as I am?
What is your favorite time period?
Do you like vintage?
What do you wish you were better at doing?
I'm flexible! Do you enjoy yoga?
Tea or Coffee?

Once you gather your information, the fun begins. Make a list of all of the things you think the person would really love instead of something boring. This could be anything from a gift card to their absolute favorite store to a mix CD.

Here is a list of some ideas that might work for your loved. This is a sure way to guarantee they remain a loved one:
  1. Buy tickets to something they've wanted to go to. 
  2. Dress up like their favorite superhero and give them breakfast in bed. 
  3. Spa treatments. Everyone loves being pampered. 
  4. Pay for a class they've been meaning to take. 
  5. Pay for a psychic reading. 
  6. Cupcakes!
  7. Childhood relics.
  8. Hire their favorite celebrity to come perform for them (or an impersonator). 
  9. Take them on a mini break. 
  10. Take them on a shopping spree with a limit. 
  11. The batmobile. 
  12. Fill up their bedroom with 100s of colorful balloons. 
  13. Give them a hug!
I can literally go on for days but I hope you get the idea. Now go have a sit down with that person, make a list, check it twice, and spread the love.
Waiting for someone to get me that Batmobile, 

Latanya Rene

I must confess, after reading her tips I've questioned my gift giving skills :/ I think I needed these ideas more than anyone - especially the bit on dressing up as a super hero and serving breakfast in bed - awesome much? 

Speaking of gifts, Latanya is generously giving away a 
$25 Sephora Gift Card 
+ a $50 Holiday Fun Care Package 
that includes Movies, Snacks, New Years Swag, and more!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

P.S. The winner of the Anne Taintor Gift Set is...
Check your email, girlfriend :)

December 12, 2012

Christmas Work Party Attire

Dress: Ross // Shoes & Bracelet: Payless // Earrings: Forever 21

Oh, the dreaded work Christmas party...

This year was very formal compared to other Christmas parties I've attended. When I saw the invite I realized it was going to be at the fanciest hotel in Salt Lake City and people were going to be wearing tuxes and ball gowns... like, whoa.

I didn't have anything in my closet up to par, so my co-worker and I had ourselves a little date with Ross - the best and most affordable place I could think of for evening attire. There were so many options (and it was more fun trying everything on than making a decision!) but I ended up finding myself a pretty new peplum LBD with just enough detail to keep things interesting yet conservative, all for a whopping $14!

Oh and I was introduced to Spanx, and will forever be grateful, Amen.

Besides the outfit task, I had to get myself excited to go...  you see, I seem to have a hard time when it comes to mingling with big crowds, and I'm 99.9% sure this is due to a slight anxiety problem. But thanks to alcohol I was able to calm my nerves, and after a few overpriced glasses of wine I loosened up and even let a friend drag me onto the dance floor... *shrug* ..."when in Rome!"

We came home around 10:30 pm, lit like a Christmas tree, and ready for a good long sleep - and that's when I remembered I should probably take pictures of my outfit, because how often does a married woman who loves her comforter, puppies, and tv series get all dolled up like it's prom night?

I must say, it's nice to feel like a princess every once in a while, and even though my dress probably won't show its threads to the public again until next year, I think we accomplished what was important and made some good memories out of it...

...and yes, I let the hubbs wear his signature baseball cap. I tried but I couldn't deny him.. his hat was like my wine - a security blanket to help get through the night!

So, how do you like the look?
Here's some other affordable peplum style dresses for your Pinterest boards!

What are you wearing to your Christmas party this year?

December 10, 2012

Newspaper Gift Packaging

I only grew up with one grandparent... his name was George and he was one hell of a dude. He rocked suspenders, brought us donuts every Sunday, smoked like a chimney, and had that kind of raspy laugh that made you giggle along.

Every Christmas we would go over his house and he always did the same thing - he wrapped our presents with newspaper. It was kind of his thing.

Now, as a little kid I just thought he was being cheap by not buying the good stuff, but now I realize he had it right all along - wrapping gifts with newspaper can be beautiful with its timeless taste and a vintage feel, not to mention it's eco-friendly...

Good goin' Gramps ;)
image source
image source

image source

image source

image source

What's your favorite way to wrap a gift?

December 07, 2012

Anne Taintor Gift Set Giveaway!

Thank goodness the weekend has arrived! Would you care for a cocktail? I'm heading to my Christmas work party tonight and all I can think is, "Thank GOD there's a cash bar!" Plus I can't wait to show you my formal outfit! :)

But, back to the cocktails...

Have you ever heard of Anne Taintor? I've mentioned her work on this blog a time or two and absolutely love her vintage style and humor, especially around Christmas time!

What's even more exciting is they asked me to host a giveaway for you guys this year! Of course I accepted - I thought a lucky reader might enjoy getting these in their stocking stuffers this Christmas...

Anne Taintor Lifestyle Gift Set Includes...
1 (One) Anne Taintor Coaster Set which includes two each of "did somebody say 'open bar'?", "another day in paradise" and "ta-daa! now let's have a cocktail..."
1 (One) Anne Taintor Shot Glasses Set which includes "medicated and motivated", "stop me before I volunteer again","I'm so happy it's happy hour","why do dishes when you can do shots?"

This is such a perfect gift for your best friend, work bud, or the cool aunt that let you sneak a sip of wine when you were 14 ;) 

Good luck, my fellow lushes! 
Get your entries in quick - I'll be announcing the winner next Thursday! 
(Open to US and Canada residents only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway