Tag Archives: #love

I didn’t choose the pug life, the pug life chose me.

In 2005, I made a decision.

I wanted my own dog.

At the time I was living alone in an apartment in Pittsburgh, working at a college nearby and juggling graduate school. I was lonely, and I felt I was ready to finally get my own dog to keep me company. It was a no brainer for me: I had grown up with dogs and knew that this was a smarter choice than a cat or chinchilla or any other critter. But what kind did I want?

Shortly after I let my parents know my intentions, my dad and I went to our local mall and visited the Walden Books Store (I don’t even think they exist anymore) and started looking at some different books related to the breeds I was interested in. I knew I wanted a toy breed, but I was in between a Yorkie, King Charles, and a Pug, and being that we had always had larger breeds, I was clueless to the little guys. After looking through some books on the breeds, something inside me kept going back to one breed: the pug.

My dad found a local breeder, and I trusted him enough to go and find me the perfect puppy since I lived a little ways away from my parents and was scared the available puppies would be claimed before I could get home and pick one. He assured me he had selected the perfect fawn male pug and told me he had a great demeanor and was the runt of the litter. I was stoked.

A month or so later, my mom arrived at my apartment with a tiny delivery: my puppy. I decided to name him Simon, which was inspired by a song sung by one of my favorite bands, Lifehouse. He was perfect!

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Baby Simon

Throughout the years, Simon and I became the best of friends. He would travel with me wherever I went, and he would often spend longer periods of time with my parents, which was great because they had a strong bond with him, too. In fact, he was such an amazing dog that it inspired my parents to get a pug of their own, a black pug that they named Desmond, and he and Simon became close very quickly.

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Simon and Desi

Unfortunately, in the summer of 2012, I lost Simon after he was poisoned by my parents’ neighbors. I was unbelievably devastated. It took everything in me not to go after these people, and because he had been cremated, once evidence surfaced that they had poisoned him, I had no legal recourse. Five and a half years later I still harbor tremendous feelings of hate for these people…..hurting animals is NEVER acceptable. NEVER. I was robbed of time with my dog, and he was taken way too soon for no reason.

After losing Simon, I became very depressed and told myself I never wanted to have another dog, and if, for some reason, I ended up getting one, there was NO WAY I would ever get another pug. Never ever ever.

Fast forward to 2013 when I met Kyle. One thing that drew me to him was his immense love of animals, and I quickly found out that he had a pug of his own, a black pug named Bubba. The first time I met Bubba I was shocked at how similar he was to Simon. He may have been a different color, but his looks, his chill attitude, his movements…..everything reminded me of my dog. As I spent more and more time with Kyle, eventually moving in with him, I became very close to Bubba. He would sleep next to me every night and during the day he would spend all his time on my lap. In the event I was working on my laptop, he would lay next to me until I would move it, then he would capitalize and take over my lap. I loved every moment I got to spend with him.

Once Kyle and I moved into our house and moved Bubba and Murphy with us, we started talking about getting another pug. Bubba was 11 years old at this point and wasn’t all that interested in playing with Murphy, and we thought a pug puppy would be perfect. I was finally {{mentally}} ready, and I know my time healing from Simon’s loss and time spent with Bubba helped me get to that point. My friend Katherine had found a breeder in Indianapolis that had a litter of pugs that would be available in July, so I paid my deposit for one of the male pups, and she paid hers for one of the females. Almost twelve years to the day I got Simon, I picked up my little Luigi, and, as an avid Mario Brothers fan, no one was surprised by the name. He was tiny spitfire and the perfect addition to the my fur fam.

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Luigi and his sister Penny!

I am forever grateful that we took the plunge and got Luigi when we did. He and Murphy quickly became inseparable, which was what I wanted. I knew Murphy was high energy and needed a playmate, and Luigi ended up being the perfect amount of crazy for him.

Unfortunately, Bubba’s health had started to decline not long after we brought Luigi home. He not only suffered from myelopathy, a common condition in pugs as they get older that paralyzes them over time, but had started to lose control over his bowels, was refusing to drink water, and struggled to eat normally. I am very sad to share that Bubba crossed to the Rainbow Bridge on Thursday. I know my dad and Simon were waiting for him and that he is no longer suffering, but my heart has shattered into a million pieces with his loss.

I truly believe that pugs are one of the greatest breeds of dogs out there. They have the funniest personalities, are loving cuddlers, and are just downright amazing. If you don’t believe me, check out this article that will let you know why pugs are majestic:

41 Reasons Why Pugs Are The Most Majestic Creatures On Earth

Sometimes I like to think back to that day in the bookstore when my dad and I were looking through books trying to determine the best breed of dog for me and for my lifestyle. I still don’t know exactly what it was that clicked to make me realize that a pug was the best choice.

Maybe the pug life just chose me.

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One year later……

You remember that Alan Jackson song “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning”? I remember hearing it when it first was released and thinking how true it was for so many people who were directly impacted by the events of 9/11….people whose lives changed in the blink of the eye. People who woke up that morning thinking it was going to be just like any other day only to go to bed a completely changed human being. I remember being so sad for our country and all of these families even though I had no idea who any of them were, but deep down I didn’t really connect to that song because my life….my world….did not stop turning that day. I didn’t understand that in one small blink of an eye everything you know could be no more.

And then one day MY WORLD stopped turning. The truth is….at some point in our lives something WILL happen to completely change the trajectory of your life. You know when my world stopped turning?

525,600 minutes ago.

One year ago today.

One year that feels like a trillion billion years ago while also feeling like it was just yesterday. Isn’t time weird?

I can tell you every.single.detail about November 20, 2015…..what I ate for breakfast, what workout I did that day, what I was wearing, where I was sitting when I found out that my dad had passed away, every single word Kyle said when he told me what had happened……everything.  I relive a part of it every single day, and I really wish I didn’t. To be honest, I probably can’t tell you every single detail of any other day in my life other than that one.

In my heart it is still so difficult to accept that I haven’t seen my dad or talked to him in a year. Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook know that I’ve been very open about my struggles with grief over this past year, and I have talked a little about it here, too. It is hard to be vulnerable and share this kind of thing, but I truly believe it is important because so many people struggle with the same thing, and I hope (if nothing else) that I can connect with others struggling and we can help each other through difficult times. Ive had people send me nasty grams about it and tell me it is inappropriate to talk about, and Ive had people throw some serious shade at me. It’s strange how uncomfortable grief makes some people.

This past year has included some pretty incredible things that have brought about so many mixed emotions. It was hard buying our first home together and realizing my dad would never be able to chase Bubba around in the yard…..it was hard taking family photos at my brother’s wedding and knowing someone really important wasn’t in them….it was hard watching the Cubbies win the World Series….and it was really, really hard celebrating the holidays and birthdays that usually were so much fun. Everyone said the first year would be difficult because of all of the “firsts” without my dad, and they weren’t exaggerating one bit. I cannot even put into words how much my dad is missed, and today, on the first anniversary of losing him, I’m missing him more than ever.

An unfortunate thing that has happened over the last year is that many of my friends have had to go through the same thing, losing either their father or mother. Recently a girl I had connected with through Facebook messaged me. She had just lost her dad in a terrible accident, was still in the very early stages of grief, and asked what she should expect. I wanted to share my thoughts on this with the hope that if you are going through something similar you realize you aren’t alone.

1. Everything will remind you of that person. When I say everything, I mean everything. In the very beginning of this process I had a very difficult time getting rid of things that reminded me of my dad….and with moving, this proved to be a challenge. Things he gave me, things he wrote to me, momentos of places we had been, etc. I struggled with songs on the radio because I would connect them to my dad. I didn’t want to eat Ben and Jerry’s ice cream because it was his favorite. This process has truly shown me that moments matter, not things, and I don’t need to keep junk around to keep the memory of someone alive. Don’t hoard items just because.  They are just things.

2. There are days you can talk about the person normally. There are days you will start to cry at the most inopportune time. With me, I am a loose cannon. I never know when I will be able to talk about my dad or the loss in a calm matter or if I am going to start crying and getting weird. I do my best to try to talk about it as much as possible to get more comfortable with it, but sometimes I wonder if I ever will be 100% able to communicate about it normally. It’s ok to be emotional…..and if you are worried about it, just change the subject. I do it all the time, and no one has gotten angry about it yet.

3. Things you loved before may not be the same after a loss. This has been so difficult for me. My dad and I loved running….talking about it, running together, talking smack on the other’s running pace. It ALWAYS was a part of a conversation. After we lost him I really hoped that running would be therapeutic for me and help me still feel a sense of connection to my dad. It did just the opposite. I started to hate it because every time I would run I would get upset and cry. In April I ran the HOF Half Marathon and cried the entire 13.1 miles, so besides being tiring on a physical level, it was beyond exhausting emotionally. Since that race I have run only a handful of times and dropped out of the Columbus full marathon, a race my dad and I had previously discussed running together. I hope someday I will love it again, but I have accepted that it may not be the way it once was. Find something positive to substitute into the place of whatever the activity is that you are struggling with.

4. You can’t hide from holidays and birthdays. They aren’t going to be the same….nothing will….but they are still going to happen. It is important to find new ways to celebrate and incorporate the memory of your loved one. Last year we had Chinese for Thanksgiving and we didn’t decorate one bit for Christmas. I refused to buy Christmas wrapping paper for gifts (I still am this year, too). For my dad’s birthday we made one of his favorite meals and favorite kind of cake. We are trying. Sometimes that is all you can do. You can’t avoid these things so find a way to incorporate your loved one in a new way

5. It is important to talk about your loved one. Every day I talk about my dad. I will think of a funny memory or think of how my dad would react to sometimes ridiculous (I had lots of comments of things he would say during the election), and it helps. It helps to keep his memory and sense of humor and ridiculousness alive. Just because a person has left you in the physical sense does not mean they have left your memory. Keep them alive in your daily life.

6. React to the loss in a way that helps you, not harms you. I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to do things that would inevitably hurt me. There have been days that I wanted to go get blackout drunk, which would’ve been my solution years ago, but I didnt. There were days I wanted to eat my feelings……ok, more like weeks I wanted to eat my feelings, but I didnt. There were days I wanted to be extremely negative and lash out, but I didnt. I always think of the quote about how life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how I react to it…..what good would any of that do? Nothing. I’ve been very proactive in seeking help and doing things that will help me move forward in the grief process, not back. In the beginning I saw a grief counselor; recently I connected with a local group through GriefShare. I’ve read lots of articles and books on grief. Those kinds of resources have helped me a lot, especially with realizing that many of the feelings I have had are normal. I think all too often with grief you think that feelings and thoughts you have are abnormal…trust me when I say they aren’t. Speaking to people and groups have taught me this. Don’t run away from grief because sooner or later you will have to work past what has happened.

7. You learn that support can come from people who you least expect it.I will forever feel like I have the most amazing group from family and friends….my friends have all been there by my side from the beginning of this and have continued to support me. I knew they would be there for me in the beginning weeks and months….that is when it is the hardest, but the fact that they are still helping me through this a year later means the world to me. Friends from high school who I had lost touch with did not hesitate to reach out…random connections on Facebook, too. Since losing my dad I realized that I want to make sure that I can help those who go through rough times, too….even if they are people I have lost touch with over the years. You never know who you can help, and if anything positive is going to come from this, I want it to be that I can help others find strength and hope for the future.

8. The one thing that irritates me more than ANYTHING and the one phrase I have removed from my vocabulary is: “You’re doing really well!” I know that sometimes you might not know what to say to someone who is grieving…I’ve been guilty of saying some really dumb things in my day….but please, don’t ever say this comment to anyone. Most days I do really well, especially in public, but every day at some point I do break down. You arent sitting by me when I’m at home crying or laying next to me when I’m crying as I try to fall asleep. I may be doing “really well” in your eyes, but I’m not doing “really well”. I’ll never do “really well” because I’m always going to be without this person who was so important to me. There was a quote I once read from Richard Gere of all people. He said that loss is very much like dealing with a broken ankle. On the surface things seem to heal in time, but they will never be the way they once were.  The pain is still there, some days more than others. In time you learn to adapt to living differently. It is so true.

9. Don’t feel guilty if you are having fun or enjoying something. I struggled with this a lot the first few months after losing my dad. I felt bad if I laughed or did something normal. I didnt feel like it was right to engage in fun things when something was missing. After talking to people, I’ve learned that is very normal to feel that way, so if you are feeling that way, too, you aren’t alone.

10. You will be a changed person. I can’t tell you how much I changed over this past year because of this happening to our family. Losing a loved one changes how you see and do so many things. My family has always been so important to me, and I think that has strengthened the most over this time frame. I’ve learned more about my limits…that it is ok to take a step back if I feel myself getting weird or sad. I’ve learned a lot about my strength…and that it is ok to reach out for help, something I haven’t always been the best at doing. I’ve learned I’m a lot tougher than I ever thought I could be. Most importantly, I’ve learned how important it is to always leave your loved ones with loving words. I’m thankful the last words my dad and I exchanged were “I love you.”

Life is just too too short to focus on negativity. My heart has broken over the past few weeks after seeing so much garbage in my newsfeed after the election….so many families divided or not speaking to each other…..kids publicly saying they don’t want anything to do with a parent because of how they voted. I wish so badly my dad was still here with us and can assure you that you someday you will be in the same place I am in now….that’s just the order of life. Please don’t waste any moment by being stubborn or nasty…..someday you will be willing to do anything to get those moments back. Trust me.

Thank you again to everyone who continues to be a beacon of strength for not only me, but my mom and brother. We all appreciate it so much more than we could ever say and are forever grateful.

Missing you so much, Papa ❤

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My dad and my little Simon

 

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DIY Christmas Ornaments!

At my bridal shower last year, my best friend Kelly gave me an incredible present. She made a Christmas ornament out of my wedding invitation! I absolutely loved that a part of the greatest day if my life could be celebrated during the holiday season, and I went on a mission to make the same the gift for those in my life who were getting married. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make!

Today I wanted to share with you how simple this great gift is to make so you can create the same ornament to celebrate a wedding, birth of a children, or any special occasion!

What you will need:

-Invitation(s)
-Glass or Plastic Christmas bulb
-Pencil
-Ribbon

Here’s a look at my materials before I made the ornament for my dear friend Emily’s shower! For hers I opted to use both the shower invitation and the wedding invitation because I loved how the colors worked together and thought it would add dimension to the ornament.

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When it comes to the ornament, I purchased mine from Hobby Lobby. You can find the plastic ones there year round, and they cost about $0.99 each. The top will come off so you have access to the inside of the ornament.

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Take your invitation (or invitations if you are using multiples) and cut them into strips. I cut mine pretty thin, but not so thin that you couldn’t read the writing. Take your pencil and wrap one strip of invitation around the pencil so it forms a tight curl. Then all you need to do is take the curled paper (still on the pencil) and insert the pencil into the opening of the ornament. Drop the curl inside. Continue until all of the paper has been curled and dropped inside.

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Depending on the occasion, you may want to add other items in the ornament as well. I have used glitter or small curls of ribbon in the event colors and dropped them in, but you don’t have to. Once all of the invitation curls and any additional items have been inserted, close up the ornament by slipping the ornament top back into place. Finish by making a ribbon loop or bow so it can hang on the Christmas tree!

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This is a gift that is very inexpensive to make but that has such a great meaning behind it. I can assure you anyone who receives a custom ornament like this will love it!

Happy Crafting!

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May Beauty Finds: Sparkle or Dull?

I feel like I was just writing a review for April’s Beauty Finds……oh wait….I was!

Happy to report that I am back on track with my blog and back to my usual posting schedule!

So let’s chat about some possible new beauty additions for your collection!

I get a lot of questions about makeup every day, and lately lipstick is the hot topic. I like to think of myself as a lipstick connoisseur, and while I tend to gravitate toward certain brands that I know to be tried and true, I am always up for trying new brands. My go to lipstick is a matte finish….I’m not a huge gloss person because I don’t really like the stickiness or the fact that my hair can get stuck in it if it’s a tad windy outside. Because of this, I haven’t encountered many liquid lipsticks/glosses that have worked for me (To date, only the Melted liquid lipsticks from Too Faced have passed my test). This month I decided to give another liquid lipstick a try!

Product #1: Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipstick

I am a big Anastasia fan….I use their brow pomade and pencil as well as their glow and contour kits daily, but had never given their lip line a try. This month it was time for the liquid lipstick that they claimed had the matte finish that I love so much.

The color I selected (and that can be seen here as well as in my previous post which you can read here) was Electric Coral. I will be honest….I was hoping it would be a little more tangerine/orangey, but was pleasantly surprised when it had a reddish hue to it (we all know that I love my reds). I opted to try this out on a weekend where I had a lot to do….days when I am go go go I need a lip product that stays on without a lot of reapplication.

Let me share with you what I liked about this liquid lipstick: darn near everything! I applied it first thing in the morning and did not need to reapply until about 4pm…which was after I had eaten…I always reply after lunch. The color was rich and a true matte, so I was very happy. The only thing that I noticed was that it slightly dried my lips out the first time. When I wore the lipstick again, I applied a little plain chapstick before application and I was perfectly fine.

FINAL VERDICT: SPARKLE!!!!!

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Product #2: LA Girl Pro Concealer Set

Concealers are always tricky. I feel like I’ve tried about a billion of them, finding some that I like, but not love. I used to rely heavily on them when I was younger because my skin would break out and do all sorts of weird things, but thankfully I don’t have those issues anymore (Shakeology and water intake….my secrets to clear skin). Nowadays I rely on concealer to help me when I don’t get enough sleep and have pesky under eye circles.

I chose this particular concealer set to review because I have been curious about the color correcting formulas that I have seen on the market and thought it could be a great cost effective solution for someone in need of a great concealer.

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Three colors for me to try!

Here’s the skinny on color correction: you may think the different colors look funny in their tubes, but they actually have a purpose. Ipsy shared this graphic with their followers awhile back, and I think it is great for breaking it down.

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Photo courtesy of Ipsy

The LA Girl concealer set I reviewed for this piece includes orange, yellow, and green concealers, colors I felt would be best for me to try out. I specifically chose to try them out for the first time on a day when I had very little sleep and woke up looking a bit wretched, and I tried out all three colors since I had a tiny bit of redness, too.


Initial thoughts: What the heck is this???? The orange color made me look strange, and I was worried the green hue would show through any foundation. The yellow was closer to what I was used to, and I applied that after I had blended in the orange hue (Note: I used a blending sponge for this). Once blended I didn’t look as scary with the colors and applied my Kat Von D Foundation and Ben Nye Banana Powder as I usually would. You can see my before and after using the concealers below. The photo on the left: zero makeup up; the right photo features the blended concealers, foundation, and powder.


I liked this product….I really did…but I am not sure if it worked any better than the Nyx concealer I typically use. Using three concealers instead of one is a bit more maintenance, but if you are someone seriously struggles with redness, dark spots, or blue tones I truly think this product will help you. I just didn’t have enough of those issues going on to truly see a difference.

The good thing about the product: the price. I purchased all three for about $9, which is great. La Girl is also a product line relatively easy to find…you can purchase it at Walmart, Drugstore.com, even Amazon.

FINAL VERDIT: Semi-Sparkle!!!!!

Off to find some fabulous products to review for June!

sparkleon

 

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What to Expect When You are Expecting…

Ahhhh, yes.

What to expect when you are expecting.

No, I’m not talking about that movie with Cameron Diaz. Or any new additions to the Kramer household.

I’m talking about what to expect when you are expecting……to buy a house.

Kyle and I recently purchased our first home after a year long search, and boy, was it an exhausting experience. I learned a few things I wanted to share with all of you who are expecting to purchase a new home in the near future….a few things that I hope can help you!

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So what should you expect on your house hunting search????

1. It’s pretty much the same as giving online dating a try. I can’t begin to tell you how many people fooled us with the pics they listed of their home. It’s like on an online dating profile where someone claims to be 6’4 but ends up being 5’6. Seriously people….using the panoramic picture option on you iPhone camera won’t work once someone steps into your kitchen and realizes it is the size of a shoebox. Also, much like photoshop, I can tell when a doorframe has a weird curve because of your editing. Not everyone is a moron. Just show the house like it is.

2. Ok, it’s a lot like dating in general. Dating can be an emotional roller coaster. House hunting…..I actually think it can be worse. You find something you love…..you get your heart set on it…..you start visualizing how you will decorate rooms….you might even start putting things into your Amazon Prime cart…then you find out that you lost the house to someone who was faster with an offer. Then you get bummed out. Then you begin the process again. I felt like my heart got tap danced on by football cleats over and over and over again.

3. Have a list of non-negotiables when you start the search. Kyle and I had many long talks about what was important to have in our home before we started looking. We knew things we absolutely HAD to have and things we just wanted to have. This helped us when we were searching by eliminating houses right away. You should never settle with a house, so make that list of non-negotiables so you don’t regret it later.

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One of my non negotiables…..an awesome kitchen. Got it!

4. You no longer spend hours on Pinterest…..you spend DAYS! The best part about the house hunting/purchase process was no longer having to explain to Kyle why I was on Pinterest so much. I think he actually realized what a great site it is during the whole process! Honestly though….I logged some serious Pinterest hours and show no signs of stopping soon, but that is ok! Finding DIY solutions for some of the projects I want to do will save us money and be fun……score!

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Part of my beautiful makeup room, thanks Pinterest! All I have left to do is have the Hollywood lights installed!

5. Always do a drive by. I fell in love with two different houses based on the pictures. When we drove by the first one, I realized it was in a shady neighbor where I am positive that I saw a prostitute walking down the street. The other we skipped the drive by and realized when we showed up that the beautiful house pretty much was located on a car dealership lot. After that we made a deal: no drive by, no appointment set to view.

6. Hire the kind of realtor that will get the job done. We started the process using one realtor who was nice but not a good match for us. I am very much a no nonsense kind of person and a shark when I want something, and we wanted a realtor who was the same. After all, if this person had to negotiate for us and go to bat for us, I didn’t want some timid mouse. Fortunately, a friend of mine who knows my style recommended Mark Young, who got the job done. If you are in the Cleveland/Akron area and looking for someone awesome, this guy is the one to call.

7. Cross reference like it’s your job. Don’t just look on one site or one app. Look on THEM ALL! In the beginning I focused on just one app…what a mistake. I found so many different listings on other sites that I would’ve missed if I didn’t check out everything. In fact, the house we ended up buying was listed on a random website when I first noticed it. Thank heavens I did!

8. Strike while the iron is hot. I understand you shouldn’t make any rash decisions, but you don’t want to miss out on your dream house either.Don’t take days or weeks to determine what to do. Go with your gut and make moves. We lost out on multiple homes we loved because we didn’t move fast enough.

9. Be prepared for unexpected expenses. The joys of home ownership means unexpected random expenses. People always say that buying a house can be a money pit, and that sure is the truth! The house we bought had brand new EVERYTHING and we still had random things come up, like the unexpected visit from a fat raccoon and her babies who decided to live in our chimney for a week. Prepare for the unexpected. Pay for inspections. Cover your butts!

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This raccoon weighed more than our dog!

10. It’s not over until it’s over………So true! The house we bought was put on the market Easter weekend. Since we were out of town we couldn’t see it until Tuesday morning. The minute we saw it we knew we wanted it, so we put the offer in that minute. Seriously, we didn’t want to lose it. Our realtor contacted the listing agent to tell him the news…..and then found out the seller had accepted an offer literally about an hour before. I was so upset. After crying and cussing like a madwoman, I contacted Mark and told him that if ANYTHING fell through on that deal to let us know. The next night he let us know that the initial deal had fallen through. YESSSSSSS! Of course we submitted everything and had an accepted offer late that day.

Kyle and I are still working at getting settled in, but I love how the house is coming together. It’s been a crazy and emotional process for me, but at the end of the day I love that I have closed the nomadic chapter of my life….the one that included 24 documented moves in about 12 years (yes, that’s a lot) and started a new one with my husband. There have been moments of frustration and sadness, as I am finding things of my dad’s as I unpack all of my things and being forced to accept that all of the big milestones in my life will take place without him physically being here. At the same time, there have been so many wonderful happy moments that I know will only continue.

Here’s to FINALLY getting rid of my storage unit and adulting!

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The firing of the Fitbit

I wanted to address something that I have been asked about a million times over the past couple of months.

Where in the world is my beloved Fitbit?

Because I am a health and wellness coach and help people every day work toward their goals, I’m not surprised why I get asked about it. So many of my clients are looking for tools and resources to help them stay on track with their goals, so it is only logical that they ask about a product that is known for assisting with this.

For 11 months I rocked a Fitbit Flex and was so obsessed with it that I had purchased a ton of extra bands so it would always match my outfit (yes, I am serious). I did not go a day without my trusty little step counter. I sang it praises for its accuracy and ability to make sure I always hit my daily step goals….I constantly would check my app and challenge myself if I was behind for the day! Of course I shared my Fitbit love on my Facebook page, so everyone knew that I was captain of #teamfitbit.

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And then one day I completely got rid of it.

Please do not think that the trashing of my Fitbit had anything to do with its quality. Many of you may be on the fence with buying one, and I don’t want you to think it is a bad product. Honestly, I think it is great, and I encourage anyone who has been considering getting one to buy the version they want. I loved the app that coincided with my Fitbit, and  the accountability it provided was great for anyone, regardless of their fitness level. It was exciting to me to get a step challenge from a fellow Fitbit friend and always motivated me when I was considering skipping a workout or a run.

I miss my Fitbit, but more importantly, I miss the person who gave me the reason to stop wearing it.

My dad.

Those of you who knew my dad knew how physically fit he was. When he got a Fitbit I knew I would be in big trouble. Not only did he run daily, but he took Henry on about four walks a day….long walks. His step count was crazy! Some morning I would wake up at my typical 11am wake up time and see that he was already 15,000 steps in. I, of course, am very active, too, but I never could come close to beating his steps. Our competitive spirit had us always trash talking the other one over their step count and making it a healthy competition, one that my husband, Kyle, eventually joined in on. In fact, the last message I had received from my dad before he died was about steps on the Fitbit.

The day my dad died I knew I would never ever be able to wear that thing again. Not because I didn’t love it or its purpose, but because I couldn’t emotionally handle going into my Fitbit dashboard, looking at my friends list, and seeing my dad at zero steps when he averaged 24,000 a day. I just knew it would break my heart even more every single day.

So I fired my Fitbit and replaced it with my Apple Watch.

If you have been thinking about an Apple Watch, let me tell you….it is an awesome device. Of course, there are so many more features than the Fitbit Flex I had, so I use it in many ways that differ from the Flex. Fitbit now has so many models that you can find one that offers more of an Apple Watch look/feel if that is what you are after.

Grieving is a weird thing, and sometimes you just have to make small decisions that don’t set you back.

I’ve mentioned this before, but it is worth repeating…..that quote that says life is only 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it…..it’s so true.

Every day I make small steps to living a more positive life. Every day I work really hard to live a life that my dad would be proud of. Every day I remind myself that even though it absolutely sucks monkey balls that this happened to my family….I have the power to determine how I bounce back from it. I’m reacting to life the best way I possibly can.

Sometimes that includes getting rid of a piece of rubber that vibrates when you hit your steps.

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February: Sparkle or Dull?

I think I could literally test out makeup and beauty products all day, everyday and never get sick of it. It is so fun to me to try things out and just share an honest opinion on what I like/dislike about them!

This month I decided to try out two products that I’ve had friends chirping about more than usual, and I’m excited to share with you my findings! Before I go any further, I must reminder you that my Sparkle or Dull opinions are strictly my own, no one else’s. I don’t get paid by any of the companies for the products I review. With that being said, you may love/hate products that I feel the opposite about, and that is okay! I do these segments to hopefully help people learn more about a product before buying them. After all, no one likes wasting money on a product they will use once or twice.

Product #1Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara

I certainly hope by now you have realized that I love lashes….like really, really, really love lashes. Even though I rock falsies most days, there are still days where I opt for good ol’ mascara. I won’t pretend that I have one mascara that I am committed to; there are so many great ones out there! My top two favorites have been Too Faced Better Than Sex Masacara and Urban Decay Perversion, but I am always open to trying others just in case one strikes my fancy.

A couple of my friends kept mentioning this mascara by Smashbox, so I finally figured it was time to give it a try. I’ll be honest: of all of the makeup brands that trend, Smashbox is probably the one that I have tried the least. I love their Photo Finish Primer, but that’s about as deep as my investigation in their products goes.

When it comes to mascara, I look for how easily it goes on (aka the clump test in my world), how it lengthens/volumizes, and overall quality. I’m not one who wants a natural look with lashes…..ever…but I’m not one who wants to look like I am wearing tarantulas on my eyes either. Immediately upon applying my first coat of the Smashbox mascara, I already knew how I felt about it: I was not a fan. In my opinion the brush didn’t provide the volume I like to see in a mascara, and after a second, then third, then fourth coat I didn’t see the look I like. Honestly, I would’ve picked Maybelline’s Great Lash mascara over this and saved myself the money. For the price I thought the quality was terrible and it did absolutely nothing to my eyelashes. I took one picture because I was so annoyed by it and had to move on to one of my go to mascaras.

Final Vote: DULL

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Product #2Younique’s Splurge Cream Shadow

Anything that has to do with eyeshadow, and I’m down. I’m serious. Eye shadow is like paint for your eyes, and every day you can create a new painting. I love the freedom and creativity it brings into my life!

One of my online pals, Kim, suggested that I give the cream eyeshadows a try. She had mentioned that she was obsessed with them and that they had great staying power…..and sold me when she told me that they stayed on without an issue when she taught her spinning classes. Spinning is no joke, so I figured it was time for this splurge stuff to try out an Insanity Live class!

I did have some concerns initially when I received the shadow in the mail. I’ve never been one that liked cream eye shadows….mostly because the ones I tried in the past did not stay on my lids, even with primer. There is nothing worse than creating a beautiful masterpiece on my eye, then having it vanish into nowhere within hours. However, I was open to trying it. Since Kim sells Younique, I’ve seen her makeup looks and knew she wouldn’t steer me in the wrong direction.

She didn’t.

I tried the Splurge Cream Shadow by itself first, using only a basic liner and some lashes for a low key day look (yes, I do participate in low key every now and then). One thing I noticed immediately was the quality of this product. For a cream shadow, it felt like I was putting something rich and decadent on my eyes, and I liked the silky feeling it had when it hit my eyelids. The color I am wearing below is Elegant, which I figured would be a great neutral option. I loved that it had some shimmer to it; that gave it enough pizazz to wear on its own. I put this shadow on around 9am and wore it all day long, which included an Insanity Live workout (if you have done one of these, you know you sweat like a beast). When I returned home I was pleasantly surprised to see that my shadow was still in tact and looking as great as it did earlier in the day. Previous cream shadows often had noticeable creases after some wear, but not this Splurge shadow.

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The nice thing about this shadow is that you can wear it by itself or you can jazz it up and do a more dramatic eye, using this as the base shadow. Earlier in the week I had to record some training videos for my team of rockstars, so I decided to do a smokier eye. I used Elegant as the base shadow to provide the shimmer I wanted, and used some of my other eye shadow palettes for the rest. I loved the final look. The cream shadow held the other pigments well, showed no creasing, and provided a dressier look. When I reviewed the footage I had shot, I couldn’t help but notice the subtle sparkles that would hit the light as I moved my head. When you serve as the leader of The Sparkle Squad, those are the little details you fall in love with…gotta have a sparkle! I actually love this product so much I am going to purchase it in another color. Thank you so much, Kim, for insisting I try it!

Final Vote: SPARKLE!

I’ve got a whole bevy of products in the hopper for March…it’s going to be hard to narrow them down! I may have not to a few more than two……we’ll see.

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Dinosaurs, Diamonds, and Dancing, OH MY!

You know what’s crazy? Weddings take months and months…..sometimes years…to plan, and then they are over within a blink of an eye. Seriously. I cannot believe that it has been over a week since our wedding, and even though many of my married friends tried to warn me about how fast the actual day would go, I was convinced they were a bunch of liars (Sorry friends). They were right. I felt like it took forever from the time I woke up to get to the moment where Kyle and I did our First Look….then everything else flew by. Time really is so precious.

Our wedding day was nothing short of perfect, and I am so thankful for our family and friends for helping us celebrate. Since we had a smaller wedding, many of you followed our day online by using the hashtag #kramereverafter….that hashtag was great when it came to catching up on the moments we missed, plus it allowed us to share the day with my grandmother, who was unable to attend physically due to health reasons.

Planning my wedding was an absolute blast. I’ve known so many people who shared their terrible bridezilla-like stories with me and who complained about the crazy amount of stress associated with their big day, but I likely did not experience any of this. There was only one brief time period where I had a little bit of stress, and that was over a small insurance snafu with the museum that we had fixed within days. I’m sad the planning is over, so if you are overwhelmed with planning, let me know…I will gladly help. I actually found it really fun!

I had a lot of questions surface about different elements of the wedding because we did things so differently, so I thought I would share some of the common questions I had with all of you to share a little more about the greatest day of my life. Hopefully some of the tips and resources I share can help you with your big day, too!

What kind of dress did I wear and was it really pink?

Yes, it really was pink…..blush pink to be exact. The dress itself was Vera Wang, and as with anything Vera makes, it was beyond fabulous. I knew from the beginning that I wanted this dress and was so nervous when I went to try it on that it wouldn’t live up to the image I had in my mind. Fortunately, the minute I put it on I started to cry and knew it was “the one”. My advice to anyone wedding dress shopping? Don’t settle for a dress….get one you absolutely are in love with. Also, have someone in alterations insert padded cups so you can go without a bra. Trust me on this one, no bra is a good thing, especially on a day you are running around like mad!

The first time I got to try on my dress!

Where was the wedding held?

The ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception were all held at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History. We knew we didn’t want to do anything in a church or anything religious, so we opted for a venue that would be a lot of fun for our guests. To us, we didn’t want our wedding to be just another cookie cutter wedding. We truly wanted it to be a memorable experience that our guests would never forget. If you are local, visit it sometime! It really is a cool place!

Click here to learn more about this neat museum!

What an amazing shot our photographer Stacy captured....first dance photobomb with a dino!

Who designed our invitations?

I am a huge believer in supporting small businesses, so the bulk of our wedding utilized vendors from Etsy. Our invitations were custom made by a vendor called Riverkiss Weddings, and even though they were custom designed they were still exponentially cheaper than other places I looked from the mainstream sites. Plus, they were perfect for our theme. I got a lot of weird looks when I told people that I did so much through Etsy, but the truth is the quality is fabulous, and the vendors are very easy to work with. If you have an issue, the vendors I have dealt with were very quick to remedy the situation. I like that they were different and no one else had ever had these, and I found them incredibly whimsical and beautiful.

Our invitations!

Our invitations!

What were the wedding colors?

Since my dress was blush, I chose blush pink for the flowers and tablecloths at the reception hall. My bridesmaids all wore mint green, so the pink looked awesome with the mint. I also accented with a gray and white chevron. The guys rocked bow ties with the exception of my dad and grandpa; they wore the same ensemble as our groomsmen but sported regular bow ties in the wedding colors instead of a bow tie to show their distinction.

What a beautiful bunch!

Where did my girls get their dresses? 

David’s Bridal. I wanted each of my bridesmaids to get whatever dress they wanted and figured this would be the best store with the most options. My bridal party was made up of ladies from Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Youngstown, and Michigan, so all of the locations really helped us with our geographical needs.

Were your placecards expensive?

No! Again, I had these made through an Etsy designer named IvoryIsleDesigns. Each card was customized with the name of the guest, their table (which was a dinosaur name) and a small picture of their meal choice. Each placecard cost about $1.10. I highly recommend you be creative and spend some time looking for options for paper products. You don’t have to spend a ton, and if you have time, you can always make them, too. Here’s a look at my friend Heather and her fiancé Alex’s cards:

Sparkle Sparkle everywhere!

What kind of eyelashes did I have on?

One of my favorites….these were the Miami mink falsies from Lilly Lashes. These lashes are amazing and worth every penny! The mink lashes are a higher quality, but the other lashes are just as great!

My main squeeze Marenda who handled all of my makeup needs!

What were our favors?

We didn’t do actual favors…I’m not the biggest fan of knick knacks or things that don’t have a great purpose. Instead we decided to bring some local culture to our guests and rented the Swenson’s food truck. Swenson’s is a classic in Akron….if you have never tried it’s deliciousness, please make time to do so! It showed up the last hour of the reception, so as people hopped on the shuttle back to the hotel they could have a snack…and satisfy their greasy drunken needs. I am obsessed with galley boys and potato teasers, so I ended my night eating both in my dress. It was perfect! I think our guests liked it, too!


Where were our photos taken?

The weather ended up being a really big jerk, but it worked to our benefit. Instead of taking pictures outside at the Cultural Gardens as planned, we went to Metropolitan on the 9. Our best man’s aunt and uncle own the hotel, so they hooked us up with some unique and fun photo spots. This is honestly the best hotel in the area…Kyle and I both had our bachelor/bachelorette parties here and loved the accommodations. Our photographer posted some sneak peeks on my Facebook page, and I am obsessed with how the pictures turned out. Sometimes rain isn’t a bad thing….in this case it really helped us have even better better photos than I had imagined.

This was taken in the main lobby!

Where did Kyle find his socks?

Kyle decided to get the bridal party (including my dad and grandpa) unique socks that matched the wedding colors. They looked awesome! We found the socks from a site called Sockbroker. If you love socks, check it out!

Stylin Feet!

Did you do programs?

Yes! This was the question I got more than any and was sparked after a friend posted one side of our program on Instagram. I purchased a digital download that a woman customized for me on etsy and had them printed for our guests. The programs had some fun random facts, and I was so pleased with the final product! Here’s a look!

Did you really do your center pieces for under $5 a table?

Yes! Let’s get real. No one cares about center pieces. No one remembers them. I wanted simple center pieces that didn’t break the bank. Since our table cloths were pink and the napkins were mint, I wanted to tie in the chevron and dinosaur theme. My mom made awesome chevron squares for the center of the table with fabric we found at Walmart, then we spray painted vases we found at The Dollar Tree and frames. Each vase held a realistic rose we purchased from Hobby Lobby when the silks were half off, and we printed the table name pictures at CVS for $0.17 each. I loved the final look….it was still “us”, but it was classic, simple, and didn’t clutter the heck out of the table.

I honestly would not change a single thing about our big day and felt like our wedding was a perfect representation of who we are as people and as a couple. My hope is that everyone can say that about their big day. Have fun with wedding planning….become friends with Pinterest….and don’t do anything you feel you “should” do. Your wedding day is all about you. As Janis Joplin once said, “Don’t compromise yourself; you’re all you’ve got.” I find this quote to be true about everything in life….right down to your big day.

Kyle and I are so thankful for all of the love and support, not just on our wedding day, but since we have been together. You guys are the best!

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My Bride Tribe!

Im really really really really really really really REALLY excited for tomorrow!

I’d like to emphasize the “really” part.

Just so freakin' excited! Thanks pop sugar for this pic!

It’s my bridal shower and bachelorette party day! It is so hard to fathom that Kyle and I are getting married in 50 days…..it seemed so far away, then suddenly BAM! Things are creeping up! We are both super excited and can’t wait to celebrate like crazy on October 3rd!

I’m just as excited for tomorrow and can proudly say Kyle and I haven’t peeked at the registry once (I swear) and somehow I have been left in the dark with the events of tomorrow. Those that know me know I don’t like secrets and am very investigative, so this is really a rare occurrence!

Knowing I will spend the day tomorrow surrounded by family and friends makes my heart so happy….I don’t think I ever have had all of these amazing people in one room, so that will be a really wonderful feeling getting to see them all meet each other and finally talk to people who they have heard me talk about or seen pictures of on Facebook.

There are many elements of my wedding day that I have kept private mostly so our guests will be blown away on the actual day and not know what’s going on in advance. I don’t like secrets, but I sure enjoy keeping them!  Kyle and I have worked really hard to ensure our wedding will be a fun experience for our guests and one that is truly reflective of our personalities. It will be neat to see the enjoyment of our guests!

One element that is by no means a secret would be our wedding party. I am extremely lucky to have an incredible group of friends, and while I have added many great friends in my adult life, my bridal party is made up of individuals who I have had in my life pretty much for all time….or at least it seems that way. I know many of my readers follow me on social media, so these faces are all people who you have seen countless times, but I wanted to introduce you to the ladies of my bride tribe!

Matron of Honor: Kelly

Kelly and I literally have been best friends our entire lives. We met in preschool, lived right down the road from each other, and have more memories together than I could ever even count. It is such a cool thing having someone in your life who has been present for EVERY stage of your life and EVERY big moment. Having someone in your life for 30+ years means they know the best and worst of you, and the fact that our friendship has lasted means one very simple thing: she is just my soulmate, and we will be the old ladies causing a ruckus together in a nursing home someday.

Matron of Honor: Whitney

There’s a saying I once read that stated that every female needed to have a blonde and brunette best friend. I am lucky to have both. Whitney and I became immediate friends about ten years ago after her husband started working with me, and I’m not 100% sure why it was facilitated, but Ryan, her husband, hooked us up on a  friend date at Wal-mart (random, I know). The rest has been history. Our birthdays are a week apart, we have the same sense of humor and love of coffee, and both quote Mean Girls more often that it should. It was a match made in heaven. I’m positive that Whit will be in the nursing home with Kel and I, and I am also positive she will still be able to show a spreadsheet what’s up even then.

Bridesmaid: Erin

Erin and I met through Kelly back in junior high when we all decided to play in a summer basketball league together. While Kelly and I were Leetonia Bears, Erin played for one of our rivals, the Crestview Rebels. Once school resumed we started a friendly rivalry in volleyball, basketball, and track. Our friendship continued to grow once we graduated college and Erin chose to move to Pittsburgh. We got an apartment near the city and lived together until I made the decision to relocate back to Ohio. It was Erin’s encouragement that got me to sign up for an online dating profile, and without her support,I most definitely would not have met Kyle and this blog would definitely not be happening.

Bridesmaid: Krista

Krista and I met through Erin (funny how this all works, out, eh?) in the same summer league I mentioned earlier. She was also a Rebel and I immediately loved her sarcastic and witty sense of humor. Since our circle was very intertwined, we were able to see each other and hang out often once we hit the adult world. Once I moved back to Ohio, I moved nearby Krista, and we started having regular American Idol and chinese takeout dates…which led to Super Mario Brothers dates…and then puppy playdates, as my pug Simon and her puggle Harley were close friends. It is such a cool thing seeing her now as a mom to one of the cutest little guys I know, Wesley, yet still having the same spirit and zest for life that she had when I first met her.

Bridesmaid: Jodi

Jodi and I met through Erin and clicked absolutely immediately. I’m not sure if it was our love for running, the weird and random inside jokes we seemed to have right away, or our love for shopping, but our instant connection led to us signing up for the Pittsburgh Marathon together on a whim. This led to us running it together with no training, then taking on countless races and marathons together since. We even have shirts that are like the old school best friends necklace where my shirt says “Running” and hers says “partner”. Beyond our love for running, her house has always been my getaway spot and there have been many times I have felt like her couch was a therapist’s chair. I can always count on Jod to tell it to me straight, make me laugh, then hook me up with my favorite crab artichoke dip to feel better, and I can always count on both her and Krista to warn me about puddles.

Bridesmaid: Laura

Laura….well, Laura had no choice when it came to her involvement in my life. As my cousin, she has been there since I was a brat in diapers. Lucky for me, she decided I was okay and decided not to torture me as a little girl. Since our family is small, we have many fun memories at our Great Grandparents’ house (pretty sure most involve some kind of amazing Italian food), and since she is only a year older than me, we were able to be active in many sports and events in high school together. Some of my favorite memories during high school involve hanging out in the hot tub at her house and just chillin out. I’m so happy to have her as a partner in crime, especially in events that involve mud and obstacles.

Bridesmaid: Julie

Julie (aka AF)and I became friends when I decided to join a sorority in college. We ended up in the same pledge class and quickly realized we had the same ridiculous  personality and sense of humor, thus, an obnoxious and everlasting friendship was born. My days were always instantly better when we got to have lunch and the Thiel cappuccinos together, because I always knew I would leave with a side stitch from laughing so hard. Besides being one of the best pool players I know, I can always count on this chick for the best food recommendations, incredible musical suggestions, and really down to earth advice. She has stuck by my side through some pretty rough times, and I could not imagine my life without her.

Bridesmaid: Em

Emily (aka Em) is my sister from another mister. Somehow she ended up in my big family in our sorority, and I honestly believe that was on purpose so we could meet and have the bond we do.  Our first meeting involved a visit to Thiel with my pug, Simon, which led us to realize we both were obsessed with pugs. Now, as adults, we are still obsessed with pugs, only now we can have playdates with ours, and we both have our own cars so we don’t have to “borrow” them without permission. I’m so happy our friendship and shenanigans have not fizzled over time.

I’m so so so thankful to have such a Ride or Die group of friends in my life. When I think about all of the good and bad times of my life, these ladies have all been there to cheer me up, laugh with me, and support me. I truly would not be the person I am today without each and every one of them, and it is an honor to have them stand next to me on the most important day of my life! But can someone promise to make sure I cross my legs in pictures???? I don’t want a repeat of my preschool picture when Kelly is seated politely next to me, and I’m…..well…..you can see what I’m doing.

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Here’s some more fun memories I just had to share!

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