Saturday, December 31, 2011

Giveaway Winner!

I took a total of 38 possible entries from the 24 comments that were entered by the deadline last night.

From the winner is:

Entry number 21 which is Pink Growl! Congratulations! Please send me your name and email address at, so that I can pass it along to the people at Shabby Apple.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Shabby Apple Giveaway!!

In honor of my 900th blog post, I'm hosting a giveaway!

Earlier this week, Shabby Apple contacted me and asked if I'd like to team up with them for a giveaway for my blog. Now if you know me, I don't normally just team up with anyone for a giveaway. I'm very particular when I pick and choose who I let on my blog. Once I saw the adorable clothes and jewelry on their website, I knew I had to share this website with the rest of you! Not only do they have super cute vintage-inspired dresses, but they also have swimwear, maternity clothes, aprons and beautiful jewelry. Basically there is a little bit of everything on the Shabby Apple website.

Now, the giveaway is that I will be giving away one of two items. I'm giving the winner of this giveaway their choice of either a dress or a piece of jewelry that I have previously picked out.

There are a couple of rules to this giveaway.
1. This giveaway is open to US residents only.
2. You MUST like the Shabby Apple Facebook page as a mandatory entry. Please let me know in a comment that you have liked the page for one entry.
3. If you blog OR tweet about the giveaway and link to the Shabby Apple FB page I'll give you three entries. Please make sure that after you do this, you come back and leave a separate entry telling me you've done so.

Sound good? Great! Then let me show you the two items I've picked out for the winner to choose from.

Option 1: The Boogie Woogie Dress. Click here for more views of the dress.

Option 2: The Key to My Heart Necklace. Click here for a description of this piece.

This contest will end on Friday, December 30th at 9:00p.m. CST.

Thanks to the fabulous people at Shabby Apple for sponsoring this giveaway!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Eve everyone! I just wanted to pop in and send out some Christmas wishes since I'm pretty positive I won't be around much tomorrow.
I finally got all my presents bought or received in the mail and today I'll finish up wrapping them. I'll also be helping my Mom with baking/preparing food for our snack night tonight and our Christmas dinner tomorrow. At some point I still need to watch It's a Wonderful Life and Elf.

Tonight we are also going to be Skyping with Sean so we can see him open all his presents and open our presents from him. I'm so excited to see him and Boomer, even though I know Skyping is not Sean's favorite thing, as he is a bit shy about that.

I've still been taking pictures for my 25 Days of Christmas Photo Challenge, but I haven't been sharing them on Flickr or Facebook, as I can't edit them. So those won't be making an appearance until I get back to Italy.  However, I will post one photo on here, as I've been playing around with shaping bokeh and am excited with the results.

Also....the day after Christmas I will be posting an AWESOME giveaway. So make sure you come back on the 26th to see what that involves.

Hope each and every one of you has a great Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Home for Christmas Update

After being home for a week, I thought it was high time I did a blog post and updated ya'll on what I've been up to.

The plane ride to the States wasn't bad, but it was soooo long. Almost 12 hours on one flight is too much. I didn't have any problems though and ordering the vegetarian meal was an awesome idea. Not only was I one of the first served each service, but the food was really good. Although I did feel gypped when I got fruit for dessert and everyone else was getting chocolate brownies or chocolate mousse.

All that I've been doing since I've been home could be divided into three catergories: Eating, Shopping and Visiting.  I've seen almost everybody but one aunt, one of my good friends from high school and a couple of my blogger friends. I've eaten Mexican food twice and plan on eating it a few more times. I've had Starbucks, shopped at Hobby Lobby and Target and done some thrift store shopping as well.

What I haven't done is taken massive amounts of pictures. At least outside. The weather so far has been a bit rainy and when it hasn't been I've been out and about. I took a TON of pictures at one side of my family's Christmas functions and had such a good time taking silly pictures with family and just enjoying their company.

My cousin Sarah and I doing our silly faces

We had to do the usual "We Miss You Sean" sign to let know him know he was missed.

This is most of the girls in the family on my Mom's side. What makes this picture hilarious is my youngest cousin crying hysterically. She didn't have a nap that day and she was DONE.

Last night I met up with a few of my best friends from high school at our favorite Mexican food place and had a great night catching up with them and scarfing down tacos and enchiladas.

Coming up the next few days I have our annual family snack night on Christmas Eve. I'm having a devil of a time finding normal sized jalapenos for my bacon wrapped jalapenos. I also had an unfortunate cooking accident the other day when I subbed waxed paper for parchment paper and the oven started smoking. Lesson learned!

Hoping all of you are having a wonderful holiday season! I cannot wait for Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays

Today is my last day in Italy before I leave for the States to spend Christmas. Right now I have mixed emotions. I'm super excited about going home, but sad to be leaving Sean (even though he's been acting like a Grinch the past few days). I'm also not looking forward to the ridiculously long time it takes me get to Oklahoma from Italy, but such is life. Plus it'll all be worth it.

I'm not sure how much time I'll have to blog while I'm in the States. I'm sure I'll pop in from time to time to update ya'll on what I've been up to.

In closing, here are a few of my very favorite Christmas songs for you to enjoy!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I'm In a Glass Case of Emotion!

My emotions have been all over the place this past day week. I was sick and cranky last weekend, happy about going to see my family, elated over the wickedly good deal I got at the purse factory yesterday (see picture below) and the fact I made it on to Flickr Explore yesterday (again, picture below) and then crying this morning because I'm going to miss Sean so much when I go back to the States.

I'm also a little perturbed right now at a friend who can't seem to make time in their, oh so busy schedule, to send back a message on FB. In fact, this person is awful about ever answering any message I send them on FB. I don't get it? How hard is it to simply write back a message? It's not like they are never on, because I see them online all the time. Makes me think we aren't such good friends after all. And that my blog readers, is a pretty crappy feeling.

Anyway, I've got a lot planned this next week before I head back to the States for 3 glorious weeks of friends and family time. I haven't been to the States since Sean's R&R in April of 2010, so I am well overdue for a trip back to the good old US of A. I'm already imagining all the great places I will shop (Hobby Lobby, the mall, Old Navy, Goodwill) and the places I will eat (Taco Bueno, Qdoba, Mazzios) and the drinks I will sip on (Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes). Oh..and seeing friends and family is pretty cool too. :)

This weekend Sean and I are having our 2nd annual snack night and Christmas Vacation movie night. It's a tradition that my own immediate family does every Christmas, but Sean and I started doing our own version of it last year, when we weren't able to go home for Christmas. We'll also be opening our gifts to each other since we won't be together on the actual day of Christmas. Then I'm hoping we can fit in a quick trip to Venice so I can look for a couple of last minute presents for people.  This year for our snack night we are making the following:

Mexican Pinwheels
Little Smokies with BBQ sauce
Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos
Spinach Dip
Caramel Bars

(If you want the recipe to any of the above, let me know and I'll try to post them)

Here is the picture that was Explored on Flickr yesterday as one of the 500 most interesting photos uploaded that day.

This photo comes from a Christmas session I'm doing with a friend's baby.

Without further ado, the pictures of my new purse!

I actually went to the store in search for a dark brown purse to match my boots and favorite wedge heels, but alas, there weren't really that many brown purses to choose from. Seriously, maybe one or two. I guess brown is not in this year. So, instead I "settled" for this lovely gray purse, that has brown stitching. It was in the "sale" room and it was a steal at 50 euro. Especially when I looked at the before price.

50 euro for a purse that was originally 218 euro? Yes, please!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Tidbits You Should Know About

I've found a few Christmas items of interest here and there in the last few months that I wanted to share with you, my readers.  Some you probably already know about, but I think there are a few you might not have seen before.

First up: This awesome Christmas Photo Checklist that I found on Pinterest. It comes from Rebecca Cooper's blog. Very neat list with a ton of suggestions on it. You can find it here.

I've talked about the Christmas Advent House before, but last week I was contacted by a company that sells the plans and supplies to build your own advent house. It's half the price, so I told them I'd be happy to pass the info along to my readers. Go here for that link.

Also, I just discovered that Etsy will give you gift recommendations for your Facebook friends based on their interests, how awesome is that?

I actually mentioned this awesome advent calendar last year, but I wanted to bring it up again, simply because it is so awesome. It's a random acts of kindness advent calendar. Click here to give it a look.

I mentioned the Michael Buble Christmas album a couple of months ago, but I've been eyeing (and previewing on a daily basis) the She & Him Christmas album on iTunes for awhile. I finally bought it today. Love it!

If you're into Christmas vacation, then you don't want to miss out on these shirts on Ebay:

Last, but not least, this year I'm going to participate in a 25 Days of Christmas photo challenge. Basically you just take a picture everyday for the first 25 days of December. The subject should be something that says "Christmas" to you. Of course, that can be open to interpretation. I'm putting my photos up on Flickr, so if you want to check my photos out each day, you can go here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Great Jeggings Debate

As you all know, I'm not the most fashion savvy person out there. So it should come to no surprise to you that I have to try out "jeggings".

Today I noticed they were selling some at the PX (yeah..I know, not the most ideal place to shop) Anyway, as I looked at them, I must admit my curiousity was piqued. They look so comfy and they'd go perfectly with my riding boots. However, I'm a curvy girl. I wear a size 12 and have not only hips, but also a JLO butt.

My debate is this: Are Jeggings flattering on curvier girls? Anyone out there have jeggings and love them? What brand did you end up buying if you do wear them?

Monday, November 21, 2011

On My Christmas List

I've tried to hold on out on posting about Christmas, but I think the week of Thanksgiving it's acceptable for me to start bringing up the most wonderful time of year!

I sent my Christmas list to my Mom a month or two ago and my Christmas list for Sean this year was very short. I told him all I wanted from him was a Kindle, since he's been so generous about sending me home for Christmas, as well as financing my various trips around Europe this year. So...I already know that I got a Kindle (since I'm the one who ordered it and all) But here's some more of my Christmas list!

1. A Pink Cover for my Kindle. I'm a big lover of pink and I think my Kindle would look super cute in this cover. Did I ever mention I also have a pink passport cover?

2. Every year I ask for a subscription to Budget Travel. It's my favorite magazine and I ask for a subscription every.single.year.

3. This Grinch ornament. One day I will have a Grinch tree!

4. Pearl earrings. Once upon a time I had nice ones. Somehow in the process of moving like 8 times in the past 7 years, they got lost and I can only find one.

5. I really, really want a new camera. I'm so afraid mine is going to bite the dust one of these days since I've used it ALOT in the last 3+ years. Unfortunately I don't have over $2,000 to throw down on the Canon 5D Mark II. Anybody out their in blog land want to contribute? I'll even put up a donate button for you... :)

6. An indoor grill. So many recipes I want to try call for grilling and during the fall and winter, it's just not feasible for us to start up the old charcoal grill. Enter this handy indoor grill.

What's on your Christmas list this year?

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I know my last post was kind of a downer, (and thanks to everyone who commented, it made me feel loved to know so many of you out there understand where I am coming from). Anyway, I wanted to focus on the positive aspect of being here in Italy longer than we thought. The most obvious plus in being in Europe longer is more travel. That's honestly my favorite part of living in Italy, although the delish wine and food is a close second.

So, Sean and I have been discussing some places we are wanting to go with our remaining time in Italy. There are also a couple of trips that I plan on taking with some of my friends, as Sean is not interested in going there.

We have a couple of ideas for long trips that we would like to take.

1. A driving tour of southern Spain and parts of Portugal. Since we've already seen Madrid and Barcelona we'd like to hit up Sevilla, Granada, some of the towns along the southern coast of Spain, Salema and Lisbon, Portugal and if time Salmanca or Toledo, Spain.

2. Eastern Europe tour. This one could also be broken down into weekend trips, we haven't decided yet which way we'd like to do this. We'd like to see Krakow, Poland, Prague, Czech Republic, Budapest, Hungary and Kiev, Ukraine.

We have quite a few shorter trips that we'd like to do.

1. Dublin, Ireland. If time we'd love to add other parts of Ireland.
2. Switzerland. I have a friend from college that actually lives in Geneva. I'm thinking about visiting her and possibly seeing a bit more of Switzerland along the way.
3. Plitvice Lakes, Croatia and possibly Zagreb as well.
4. Morocco. This is one trip Sean doesn't want to go on. My friend Sarah and I are tossing around the idea of Marrakech sometime this spring.
5. Istanbul. This is another city that I'm thinking of doing with my friend Sarah.
6. Spa trip to Slovenia.
7. Dolomites. These are so close to us, but yet I've yet to really explore them.
8.Normandy beaches

There are obviously a lot more places that I'd love to see before we leave, but these are the main ones on  my list. I've been lucky though that I've marked a lot of places off my To Do list these last three years.

If you've been to any of the places that we are thinking of going and have any tips or suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The One in Which I Vent

I'm sure lately you've picked up on a couple of themes in my recent blog posts.

1. I have baby fever
2. I miss my friends and family and want to go home

Now before anyone assumes that the second point means I hate Italy and am ungrateful being here, that's not the case. I do really enjoy Italy and all the travel opportunities I've had living here, but three years is a long time to be away from your friends and family. At least for me it is. I've gotten to go home twice since we've been here and although that was nice, twice is not enough time to truly get to spend with everyone you love. I'm close to my family (even my extended family) and I miss them terribly. Especially around any holiday. Sean doesn't quite understand how close I am to my family because he is not close to his family at all. He doesn't have a good relationship with his parents, so his cousins and grandmother are about the only family he talks to. So, when I talk about missing my family and wanting to go home, he doesn't really understand.

I also have baby fever really, really badly. Up until the last six months, the idea of a baby was there, but it wasn't something I really wanted. I had a lot of traveling and experiences I wanted to do and quite frankly I didn't want to be pregnant in a foreign country away from those I love. It's not that I don't think I could do it, it's just that I don't want to do it. Again, this is another thing that Sean doesn't really understand. We both want children, but he doesn't feel the need to have them this very second, like I do. When your spouse doesn't understand what you're going through, it's tough. Even though he tries to reassure me or make me feel better, it's not enough. I still feel lonely, because he just doesn't have the need that I do.

 Lately, when I find out a friend is pregnant, I cry. The last time I thought I might be pregnant and then found out I wasn't, I sobbed. I don't do this. In fact, I've NEVER done that in my life. So, for me to be that upset over not having a baby, it's a new set of emotions for me.

I hate when I try to explain how I'm feeling and someone tells me to, "Make the best of it." Seriously? That's the best advice you can come up with? A sympathetic word or two would have been a lot better than, "Make the best of it". I'm also tired of being referred to as "my only non-pregnant friend". Gee...could you twist the knife in any deeper? I think sometimes people just don't understand that although I'm a light-hearted person, that their words really do hurt.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Things I Love!

Ready for my November edition of Things I Love? Let's begin, shall we?

1. Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens

I'd read Chevy Stevens' first book called Still Missing earlier this year and I was pretty impressed. When Never Knowing came out, I knew I had to read it too. I liked this book much more than the first. Very good plot and some scary moments. I highly recommend it!

2. This outfit I found on Pinterest. Specifically the dress. However, there are no links to where this dress came from and it's killing me! I want this dress!

3. Mushroom risotto. It's like the best Italian comfort food EVER! Sean and I love to go to one particular restaurant here in town and order their mushroom risotto. In fact, we did it yesterday. It's so good you don't even want to eat the last bite because you want it to last.

4. The fact that my Oklahoma State Cowboys are #2 in the nation.

5. Funny things I see on Pinterest

This seriously made me laugh so hard. I'm so going to be that kind of mom.

6. This shirt from Old Navy. Too bad they don't have it in my size. Thankfully a friend is visiting the States this week and said she'd look for it for me.

7. Babies! It seems like all my friends right now are pregnant. I've got baby fever bad, but since it's just not the right time for us, I've been photographing a friend's baby to quell the fever and get some photos for my portfolio. This is one of my faves.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thanksgiving Recipes

It's no secret that Thanksgiving is my second favorite holiday. Now that we're in the month of November, I'm preparing myself for my fourth year of cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Although I love cooking for people, I must admit I won't be sad when Sean and I move back to the States and we don't have to cook the entire Thanksgiving meal by ourselves.

I've already bought two Thanksgiving magazines (Rachel Ray and Family Circle) but I wanted to ask my blog readers what some of their favorite Thanksgiving dishes are. Is there something special you make? Something new recipe you tried that you can't live without?  Let me know what it is! I'd like to add a new dish (or two) to my table this year.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Poland Recap

I've been trying to write this blog for a week with no success. After I got back from my Poland trip, I turned right around and accompanied Sean on a trip to Landstuhl to visit the doctor. Although we had internet, it was a bit spotty, so it made uploading pictures a bit difficult.

Anyway, a couple of my friend and I decided we wanted some Polish pottery. The best place to do this is Boleslawiec, Poland, where all the pottery factories are located. Although we considered driving, we found some 18 euro round trip tickets on RyanAir that we couldn't pass up and instead, decided to fly. The only downside to flying on a budget airline is that there are small weight limits. So, even though I paid to check a bag, I only had 15kg to work with. With that in mind, Polish pottery shopping was on!

This is where we stayed while in Boleslawiec. I had several blog buddies who stayed here and loved it, so I booked it right away. Let me just say, this place is amazing. It might be my favorite place I've stayed since I've lived in Europe. The service was top-notch and the food there was amazing. You can also schedule cooking classes, massages, pedicures and manicures too. I had a 30 minute foot massage for 10 euro and it was heavenly. Seriously, I wish I could have one everyday. 

I had several different soups while I was here, two different types of pierogies, the breakfast buffet each morning and lots of different types of beer and alcohol. Everything was delish (although I'd stay away from the vodka) and the raspberry jam was so good that my friend Sarah and I both bought some to take home.

This is my friend Sarah in one of the many pottery shops/factories we visited. I think in all we visited 12. The first day we knocked out 9. Our hotel gave us a list of recommended shops with some info on each, which I found very helpful.  A word about Polish pottery, some times there are more common patterns that you'll find at several shops. Most of the time though you won't find similiar patterns at different shops. We also went in a few shops to get an idea on prices before we bought anything, which I think worked out well in our favor.

Most of the time we ate at our hotel since the food was so good, but one day for lunch we stopped in at a little place had a bite to eat. I had these pancakes with smoked salmon and a cream sauce with caviar mixed in. For that, a bowl of soup and a beer, it came to 7 euro. That was with the tip included. Poland is seriously the cheapest country I've seen when it comes to food. And it's all tasty! I told my friends I wanted to move to Poland just for the food.

Check out this nest! It was outside one of the more rural shops we visited. We tried asking the lady who owned the shop what kind of bird made it, but she only spoke Polish and since I don't speak Polish, the only thing we could learn from her was that the bird showed up in April and left in September. Later, looking at some postcards in Wroclaw we found out it's a stork that lives in it and this stork is one of the national symbols of Poland.

Although we went to Poland for the pottery, it wasn't all pottery all the time. One day while we were there we took the opportunity to go visit a castle about 20 minutes from where we were staying. Just so happened they had a medieval festival going on at the castle that day. The above picture is some of the scenery we passed along the way to the castle.

This is part of the castle I was talking about. It was foggy, rainy and chilly that day, but I'm still glad we braved the weather to see a little bit of the surrounding area.

This was the delicious soup we had while we were at the castle. I believe the soup was traditional, as we saw it on several other menus while in Poland, but it was very filling and quite tasty. I couldn't even eat my bread bowl when I was done with the soup!

One of the towns we passed on our way to the castle

After our time at the castle we headed back into the town of Boleslawiec to check out some of the downtown area. This is in front of the church in the main square.

Colorful buildings in the main square of Boleslawiec

For some reason when I'm traveling, I always happen upon black cats. This is the fourth time it's happened. This cat was all about posing in front of city hall.

Some of the various pottery we encountered in our shopping.

These are the beef pierogis I had the last night we were in Poland. Although they were good, the traditional filling is my favorite.

There were big pieces of (fake) pottery around the town of Boleslawiec, so my friend Sarah and I took the opportunity to pose with some of them.

Our last day in Poland, we headed over to the bigger city of Wroclaw (which is actually where we flew in and out of) This is the town hall. It was beautiful!

This is just one more reason why I loved Poland. Do you know how long it's been since I've had Starbucks? Too long my friends, too long.

All over Wroclaw they had these little dwarf statues. There were about 100 in all and they are scattered throughout the city. Each dwarf is in a different pose. We found about 10 or so while we were walking around.

My friend Sarah and I posing as dwarves.

One of the many outdoor cafes, too bad it was too rainy and cold to enjoy them while we were there.

My view of the Wroclaw airport as we are getting ready to fly out.

These are the goodies I got, minus a Christmas tree, as it was in my friend's backpack and I neglected to get it from her.

All in all, I highly recommend going to Poland. I'm really wanting to go back and explore a different part of it before we leave.