a year in review

I'll make this short and sweet.  
We had a pretty awesome year, but 2012 is bound to be even better.  I'm ready to ring it in with our sweet friends, glass of wine in hand and hubby by my side.

I was going to do a month-by-month like everyone else does.  But instead I'll just touch on the highlights.  What was important.

We rang in the new year with champagne, wine and pajamas at home with friends.  Apparently going out strong on December 30th doesn't make for a fun NYE.  Note to self.  Stay away from the lemon drops until the new year.

I threw my best friend a london-tea themed bridal shower.  She just happened to be marrying my brother. Sweet girl.

What's a better escape from the cold weather than a quick trip to LA?

Oh, and we tore up the town for Megan's bachelorette party.

And of course shed tears of joy as my best friend married my brother.  Does it get much better?

I vlogged.  Once and only once.  Excuse my Cleveland twang.  I straight up draw out my 'a' in every word.

We bought a house.  Without really planning to.  We walked in and just realized.  This is it.  And so began the moving process once again.  Which took up the entire month.

My first trip to Vegas.  Of course it was for work.
Kind of.  I think I worked three hours.  I have to say.  The people I work with?  Amazing.

Ricki turned ten.
And we went camping.
I formed a new appreciation for indoor plumbing.  And ate my weight in Cool Ranch Doritos.

The new boat arrived.  It was spectacular.

We discovered that cheap fireworks can provide hours of fun.
Managed to get some work done on the house.
And enjoy the dog days of summer.

On that topic, summer.  Need I say more?

We celebrated our first wedding anniversary.
And I made my magazine cover debut.

Went on our annual trip to the Outer Banks.
Always my favorite week of the year.  Seriously, it's better than Christmas that place.
Threw a trip to NYC in there too.  Just for kicks.

Lots and lots of volleyball.
A few weddings in between.
A run in with the vatican.

And watching our beloved Browns with friends.

Our housewarming party (only six months late).  I got pretty crafty with the invites.

The creation of the gallery wall.
And Adam bought me my first pumpkin.

I put enough candles on my brother's birthday cake that it caramelized the frosting.
But that's neither here nor there.
We fried a bird.

And toured our favorite brewery.

Seriously.  People go ape crazy over Christmas Ale here.

Adam took me to see The Nutcracker.

And we spent Christmas with the most wonderful people.

[she melts my heart]

And are about to spend New Year's with some of our favorites.

I learned a lot in 2011.
How to open up.
Accept what is in my life.
Trust in others to understand.
And love every moment.

I'm so thankful for the friendships I've made this past year, near and far.

Especially far.

2012 is going to be epic.
Suit up.


for two thousand twelve

Twelve is my favorite number.
So to say that I'm pretty pumped about this year would be an understatement.
Also this is the year that I get to prove my husband wrong about the world ending.  I'll still be throwing a big party on December 20th.  Mark your calendars, you're invited.

I know this blog is basically a public journal of sorts, but believe me, you don't really want to hear about my day-to-day mundane happens.  I keep the good stuff for you.  I actually have been wanting to start a line-a-day journal.  One that I can keep going for years, with minimal effort.  I mean really, who can't find 30 seconds to write down that the one lady who always scowls at you, actually said 'good morning' at work today?  Or that you're feeling incredible grateful to have Oreos in your life this afternoon?  Imagine reading that years from now.  And keeping track of different days throughout the years.

We did something different for Christmas this year.  We gave my mom a calendar.  Filled with dates.  And adventures.  See, living in Cleveland isn't horrendous.  It's actually a city filled to the brim with culture and history.  But we never indulge in discovering it.  So this year, we're going to experience our home.  And drag my mom along with us.  Because it is a damn shame that she has never been on the Lolly the Trolley tour.

Eight months.  Eight months we've been here.  And I still feel like I'm living in someone else's house.  I cannot wait to splash my vision all over the walls.  Tear down those hideous curtains.  Finally feel like throwing a dinner party because guests will be able to appreciate the table decor instead of being distracted by the oddly shaped spindles next to our table.  I want our house to be our home.  And I need to dedicate time to make that happen.

Be truthful.  Not that I lie on my blog ever.  But sometimes I skip over the haphazard moments in lieu of what I think you want to read.  But that's not okay.  Life happens.   So why can't I share it all.  It may not not always be pretty but I'm grateful for every up and down.

I need to find my inspiration, my dream, my desire.  I keep finding myself in a rut, pouring myself into different activities just to find that it's not really what makes me feel alive.  I know there's a passion somewhere.  Everyone has one. I just need to find mine.
So that's it for twenty twelve.
Think it's doable?
What's on your to-do list?


cookies and elsewhere

I attempted to jump back into pilates yesterday.  In an effort burn off the unnerving amount of cookies I consumed over the past week.
It's not my fault.

They're delicious.

The dog sat on the couch looking at me like, 'fool, what are you doing'
And then mocked me by going to sleep while I huffed and puffed to Ellen Barrett.

I'm still feeling the burn today.
So while I rest my out-of-shape limbs, you can find me over on Allison's blog.  Talking about the miserable two years I spent apart from Adam.
And see some photos from way back when.  Like college.
We were hotter back then.


christmas 2011

I won't be posting a zillion photos in an effort to be different.
And because I was too busy soaking up the love during our holiday.
We were lucky enough to invite a family to share it with us, one who is related to some of us, but not to all.  Our family tree is a bit hectic looking.

Regardless, they became family in a few short days.  And this holiday may have been the best yet.
This was the first year I wrote 'To Dad' on a tag.
That I watched someone read the Night Before Christmas to his daughter.
To watch him overcome with emotion at her simple gift.
That I realized that Christmas isn't just a time for missing someone.  But for making new memories and for basking in the glow of every moment.

This post is a little heavy for such a joyous occasion.  But after eleven Christmases of going through the motions, I finally felt excitement.  And that was the greatest gift ever.  Christmas won't ever be the same to me.  But it's finally beginning to be something to look forward to.

And really.  How can you not tear up looking at this little girl clutching her new American Girl doll.

Especially when you so clearly remember unwrapping that box yourself sixteen years ago.

I hope you had the merriest holiday.
I know I did :)


christmas card 2011

Kind of dropped the ball on the card this year.
As in, I definitely do not have a photo of the three of us without sunglasses on.
So I quickly dragged Adam and Ricki out in the backyard for a quick photo.  With none of us showered, bathed or looking particularly stellar that morning.  And did I mention we have our Ohio winter tans on?  I'd give Edward Cullen a run for his money in terms of paleness this time of year.

Ricki is choosing the showcase his best side. Since I was running back and forth from the camera, so obviously that was more interesting to watch than a little black box perched on the grill.

So here you have it.
 Merry Christmas!
Merry whatever you celebrate!
From the three of us.
Pale, dirty but full of love and joy.

I kind of love it.
It's us in real life.
Not always put together, but always together.


festive pup

The dog is totally on board with Christmas this year.
 He's already knocked over six presents.
Peed on one tree.
Scratched his butt on the other.
Eaten a lonely gingersnap.
And claimed the ornaments for himself.

Apparently ornaments are the new toy.
[don't worry, we took them away]

be merry bunting

We finally finished putting up both our trees this weekend.
Yes, we have two.
A fake one with white lights for me.
And a real one (that sheds) with colored lights for Adam.
Our house is Christmased out.

And of course, a new bunting had to go up.  Because giving thanks just didn't quite make the cut in December.

Instead I think I'll be merry.
And enjoy sharing this free printable with you all.

Just download here.  Print, trim and hang with ribbon or twine!


chocolate covered pomegranate seeds

Go ahead and scratch your head a bit just thinking about that combination.
That was me, about three years ago.
But once I made these, I never looked back.  And they are my favorite holiday snack!

Sweet, crunchy and with a burst of juice.
They don't melt in your mouth, but they don't last long in our house.

2 pomegranates (look for heavier ones, they have more seeds/juice)
8 squares of semi-sweet baking chocolate
1 tsp Crisco

Remove the seeds from the pomegranates.  The trick is to open them underwater so you don't spray juice all over the kitchen.  The seeds fall to the bottom of the water and the white insides float to the top.

Dry the seeds on paper towels.  Melt baking chocolate and Crisco in a saucepan on low heat (careful not to burn the chocolate!)  Remove from heat, add in pomegranate seeds and mix.
Take a spoon and drop spoonfuls of the mixture on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper.

 Cool in the fridge for about an hour, then enjoy!



Christmas came early for me this year.
My incredibly sweet husband got me tickets to see the Moscow Ballet perform The Nutcracker.
Which I had never seen.

Little known fact about me: I used to be a dance teacher.
So ballet is kind of my jam.
And seeing The Nutcracker has been a dream of mine.  For years.
Which made this the most perfect Christmas present ever.

Our seats were incredible.  Seriously, this was our view.  I could practically touch the stage.

[sorry, only could get cell phone photos]

But enough about the view, and onto how we had to walk backstage to get to our seats.  Which meant we got chummy with a bunch of the dancers.  And watched them warm up before their performance.

 [a dancer's shoes right behind Adam, she had just kicked them off before running backstage.]

And Karyna Shatkovskaya?

It really was a dream come true.


Congrats to Addison from Carolina On My Mind for winning the PopScent giveaway!


for the guy

Boys.  Yeah, they're a real stumper.
Especially when it comes to Christmas gifts.
But after extensive research involving buying presents for my husband and brother for many, many years, well...it appears there are some gifts that will even make a grown man smile.

adam's favorite hoodie.  lightweight and perfect for layering.
a leather cuff watch for casual days.
popular science subscription.  they don't have to be a geek to geek out about this.
tools, tools, tools.  what guy doesn't love power tools.
vintage apparel from their favorite team.
led maglite.  the best and the brightest.
save your dvr space and grab his favorite tv show on dvd.


ps - LAST day to enter the PopScent giveaway!


mushroom garlic bruschetta

Some days I grossly underestimate the amount of time I need to make dinner.
By a lot.
So to briefly appease our grumbling tummies, I usually throw together a quick appetizer using what we have in the fridge.  Like bruschetta.  As long as you have freshly baked bread and veggies to put on it, you're golden.

 Mushroom Garlic Bruschetta

fresh french bread
sliced baby bella mushrooms
olive oil
minced garlic
seasoned salt and pepper
fresh mozzarella or parmesan cheese

Slice bread into 1 inch rounds and brush with olive oil.  Place in oven at 350 for a few minutes (until the bread starts to crisp).

In a saucepan, saute mushrooms and garlic in olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Top bread with mushrooms and cheese.  Bake for five to ten more minutes until the cheese melts.


popscent giveaway

I blame my husband for my new found love of multiple-perfumes.
When I married him, I walked in holding my sole bottle of Ralph Lauren Romance and was like, what, you don't wear the same scent everyday?
His line-up of seven colognes have been staring me down ever since.

And honestly, I love that he changes his scent up.  While Curve is still my favorite on him (I know, I'm a high school girl), I like that it's more of an unexpected surprise when the scent wafts through our house.
And boy does it waft.  There's something about Curve that lingers everywhere.

So I've been branching out to find new scents that I can add into my mix.  So far I've added Jennifer Aniston, Jo Malone, Michael Kors, PureDKNY and Coach Poppy.

But it's quite the investment to create such a collection.
Which is why PopScent has become my shop in shining armor.

PopScent is a small business that offers your favorite scents at a sensible price.  Each signature perfume is chemically analyzed and recreated to smell identical to the namesake perfume.  Not to mention all fragrance oils are created in the US and filled in custom glass bottles imported from Italy.  And adorned with chic chevron labels.  Those labels had me at hello.

I recently tried out the PopScent's version of Michael Kors...it smells practically identical to my real Michael Kors perfume and the scent stayed through my entire work day AND through dinner.

Needless to say, my husband is thrilled I've found a way to expand my perfume collection without breaking the bank.  Or whining that I have to wait until my birthday to receive the expensive version.
 Did I mention they have men's colognes too?  I can stock up his collection as well.
So, want to try a PopScent fragrance for yourself?
Thought so.
Here's how:

MANDATORY ENTRY (leave a comment): 
Visit PopScent and let me know which fragrance you would choose!
Other ways to ENTER (leave a comment for each):

Follow Busy Girl via Google Friend Connect
Tweet/Facebook/Blog about this giveaway
Winner will be selected THIS Friday, December 9th by random.org



We celebrated my Grandma's 90th birthday yesterday.
Ninety years.  That's a long time to live.
Want to know her secret?
She eats cake and bacon for breakfast every morning.
I wish I was kidding.  But you cannot argue with living proof.

[adam, grandma, my brother, grandma's best friend harriet and me - April 2010]

She doesn't look a day over 29 does she?


You can find me over on Petchie's BlogBook today, sharing our wedding and some advice for soon-to-be-newlyweds :)


all that glitters

Holiday shopping only results in discovering everything I would buy.
If I were in fact a millionaire.
Still working on that (lottery don't fail me now).

Maybe the twinkle lights have gotten to me lately, but it seems like I'm drawn to all things bright, shining and glittering.
What can I say.
Gold and Silver are a girl's (second best) friend.

oh hey december

Grab a mug of cocoa and stay awhile.  A long while.

Cause I have some friends for you.
And an announcement (No, I'm not with child.  Glad we cleared that up)

First up, ShopKempt, an online boutique offering modern, feminine looks!  Like this admiral military coat that I've worn almost every day since it arrived at my doorstep.  And this mustard dress that is number one on my Christmas list.

Adrienne, the lovely creator behind Zavalick Designs.  Her country and state love prints are the sweetest addition to any home.  And who doesn't love a good 'Elf' quote this time of the year?

Love your designer perfume but not the price tag?  Enter Pop Scent.  Fragrances that smell identical to your favorite scents at a fraction of the cost.  All wrapped up in a sweet little package.

You know those people that have amazing style and should share it with the world?  That's Sarah.  And her new venture into the world of wedding and event planning is going to be as gorgeous as her.


Be sure to check them out...and now for the annoucement.
Because it's December and I'm full of good cheer...
No really.
I have a peppermint mocha in hand.
It comes with cheer.

I'm offering a $5 sponsor rate for the month of December for a 200x100 button!
That's right, $5 dollar, dollar bills.
Complete with a group post about how awesome you all are.
Get on it.

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