Saturday, May 29, 2010

One more teaser...

This was our view at dinner...

And I promise, I haven't Photoshopped it one bit! Beautiful : )

Friday, May 28, 2010

All Was Not Lost!

Jenna left me a voicemail around 8:00 last night stating that she had just left work and was heading HOME! So here I sit, getting ready for our relaxing dinner at a yet to be determined restaurant, and leaving my lovely blog readers with a teaser pic of the weekend so far...

The weather in Northern Michigan has proven to be BEAUTIFUL! We ended up hitting all seven wineries this time, and I've purchased 6 bottles of wine and 2 dip mixes so far... I feel like I practiced a wealth of self control!

So, for now dear readers, I leave you with a few pictures... with many more to come!
How can you not fall in love with that beautiful Northern Michigan scenery?

Happy Memorial Day Weekend everyone - hope you're having as much fun as we are : )

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Just as intense as a season finale cliffhanger... my life at the moment.

This was intended to be a preview of the glorious weekend that is in store for me. However, earlier this afternoon I got an email from BFF Jenna with "DEEP BREATH" as the subject line. So, I took a deep breath, opened it, and read this:

I might have to work tomorrow.....


Tomorrow is the 2nd Annual Jenna & Ashley wine tasting trip to Traverse City! (Accompanied by my sister, Lindsey, this year). This has been planned for approximately 365 days, since the minute we got back into town last year, we vowed to replicate the trip this year. We have grand plans! Reservations have been made at Grand Beach Resort and plans have been made for copious amounts  teeny tiny tastings of wine to be had!

So, for now, it's up in the air... cross your fingers with me! I'll be sure to report back with what happens because I'm sure you're all on pins and needles waiting with trepidation just like me. Ok, kidding, but still, I'll let you know what happens.

PS: I was going to post pics of all the fun times we had last year, but photobucket is being extremely difficult to work with, so this is all you get. Cue the Debbie Downer sad trombone music.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Vera Vera Everywhere, Part Deux - sorry so delayed!

So last night I finally got a chance to upload all of my Vera Bradley pictures to the blog!! Only a month late, but who's counting, right?

As promised, here are pics from my Vera Bradley excursion!

We left promptly at 3:00am

Jenna looks way better at 3:00am than I do. Not fair

And here's what I came home with (minus my Peacock pajama pants and the Purple Punch hanging organizer, large cosmetic bag, and measuring tape that I got for my sister) (and yes, I did spread my black tablecloth that I use for my jewelry shows onto my couch for a faux photoshoot for my Vera stuff. Is that weird?)

Clockwise from top (only the items fully pictured, not the ones partially cut off): Organizer in Carnaby, Large Cosmetic Bag in Peacock, ID Zip case (or whatever its called) in Daisy Daisy, Unscented Candle in Hope Garden (for Carrie!), and Millie clutch

Close up of the candle I got Carrie!

Inside of my organizer - I take this to jewelry parties with me and I LOVE it! The left side is an accordion folder so I can store extra catalogs and order forms in it!

Clockwise from top left (again, only the fully pictured items): Lunch bag in Daisy Daisy, Tote in Daisy Daisy, Binder clips in Hope Garden, Purple Punch, Cupcakes Green, and Cupcakes Pink, and Curling Iron Case in Daisy Daisy.

These are adorable and have worked perfectly for keeping my various jewelry forms in order!

I had such a good time on this trip! Even though I'm not a die-hard Vera fan who needs everything she owns to have a Vera pattern, I like some of their patterns and styles and I'm looking forward to next year!!

Stay tuned for more birthday present pictures and a preview of where I'm headed on FRIDAY! 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Is It Christmas Yet?

No... I'm not looking forward to the snowy Christmas season, but since my birthday just passed, I think Christmas is the only reason why someone would gift me this gem I discovered yesterday:

Ok, the complete series for $45!? Seriously... Why did this have to come out the day AFTER my birthday! I absolutely adored this show when I was probably much to young to be watching it, so I definitely want it now. It's got all 65 episodes, plus both MTV movies (Is it Fall Yet? and Is it College Yet?) and some bonus stuff on 8 discs. This just jumped to the top of my useless-but-still-really-really-want-it wish list.

Anyone else remember/love Daria?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Something I Forgot to Share...

I ordered these adorable address labels from vistaprint about a month ago. I don't think I ever showed you all! Please excuse the grainy picture and the spraypaint-for-privacy-purposes, but I had to paste it into paint so I could save it as an image...

I made little cartoon images of Josh, Diesel, and I right on the vistaprint site and shipped these to our house. They are so adorable! I got them for free, with $3 shipping. I know I can get free address labels just about anywhere, but I just fell in love with our little faces! And although Josh loves that his cartoon is wearing a red hat (which actually exists in real life in a much, much dirtier state), he sweetly asked me not to put these labels on anything we send to his friends. : )

Caps, Gowns, and... Hotdogs?

My little sister walked across the stage at the Van Andel Arena on Saturday, May 1st. At the end of this little walk, she received her diploma for four years of hard work at Grand Valley State University, and now holds a bachelor's degree in psychology. I'm so proud! Here are a couple of pics from the day:

Standing in the sea of people waiting outside for the ceremony to start

Super blurry- but she's there! See the blur of pink on the one hat? She's exactly 2 people to the left...

And, as requested, we had a post-ceremony dinner at Yesterdog in East Grand Rapids. I absolutely pink puffy heart this place. I think it has something to do with the shredded pickles on each hot dog. YUM! It's delicious and old-school (as in no checks or debit cards accepted - cash only!) and an all around fun place. I'm pretty sure I've talked about this place before. Plus, where else can 5 people eat for $20 other than Taco Bell?
 Check out the graffiti-style writing/carving on the booth!

Lindsey being awkward under the Yesterdog sign. To her credit, I didn't give her a countdown for the pic, and it was starting to rain.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Attitude Check (kind of long and rambling...)

I've mentioned before that I've now become an independent distributor for a direct sales jewelry company (I'm still a little unsure what their internet policy is and how to interpret it, so I apologize if this comes across a little vague). Up until last night I had a semi-skeptical attitude towards my new role. Honestly, I was a little embarrassed to tell people that I'm going to go into people's houses to hock my jewelry to them. But last night I had an attitude check - a much needed one, at that. I've decided I need to have a more positive outlook on my jewelry business.

I think my skepticism stemmed from the fact that I was afraid I wouldn't be any good. My mindset was that if I was sarcastic and snarky when I talked about my business, and I fail, it's not as hard to bear. Truth be told, I'm still afraid I won't be any good, but I'm not doing myself any favors by defeating myself before I even start. From now on I'm trying to have a vastly different, more positive attitude about what I'm doing.

Last night I had a new jeweler orientation and I left feeling SO encouraged. My biggest weakness is asking people if they want to have parties. I'm SO afraid of being that-pushy-jewelry-lady-who-people-avoid-and-hate that I didn't ask anyone if they want to have parties. My trainer pointed out that not only is it hurting my business, it's unfair to the guests at the party. Yes, I benefit when someone holds a party, but so does the hostess. Our Hostess Plan is AMAZING! The amount of free and discounted jewelry is unbelievable, and holding a party is so simple, that I really should be sharing it with everyone (in a non-threatening, non-pushy way).

For example, my aunt held a party last week that was below average in sales. To be exact, she had $338 in sales, when an average party is between $400 and $500. However, she was surprised at how much jewelry she received as hostess! First, she received 30% of her sales in free jewelry, so $101. Then, she earned 3 out of the 4 hostess bonuses, which are $25 in free jewelry each. So that brought her free jewelry total to $176. She also earned 6 half-off items because her party was over $300 in sales. She chose to purchase four items half off, which totaled roughly $70. The $70 that she spent was added back to her sales total, and she was given an additional 30% in free jewelry from the $70, so another $21, bringing the grand total to $197 FREE! When all was said and done, after tax and shipping, she paid about $96, and received over $340 in free jewelry, which was 10 pieces. And that was for a BELOW AVERAGE party! She was surprised, and honestly, so was I. It just goes to show that not every party has to rake in tons of sales for it to be beneficial to the hostess and to me.

I didn't mean for this to sound like a sales pitch, but I guess it kind of does. My apologies. I guess I just wanted to share my newfound enthusiasm for my new business development. I would LOVE to do a party with you and help you get lots of free jewlery for yourself or as gifts for others, so please contact me if this is something you'd like! I promise not to go psycho on you - but I'm definitely open to bringing/mailing you a catalog and chatting : )

I think I'm permitted to post pictures, so keep an eye out for some pics of my favorite pieces once I figure out a way to get them uploaded!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Survey Fun! (AKA I don't have new pictures uploaded yet, so this is a cop-out)

Melissa over at Duoly Noted posted this on Tuesday, and since I (still) haven't been able to get my pictures uploaded, I figured this Q&A fit in perfectly to close out the week! I won't tag anyone, but PLEASE feel free to fill this out on your own blog and post a link in my comments : )

1) Who is your style icon?
Well, I don't really have someone who I model my style after, but I always love how Reese Witherspoon looks. Completely put together and fun.

And I read this for daily fashion inspiration. If I could completely copy anyone's style, it would be Kate's!

2) What is your favorite Socialite Lit book?
I don't know if it qualifies as Socialite Lit, but I LOVE the Shopaholic series! Each one is full of fun and lots of designer labels. It would only be better if there were pictures of the purchases, but the version in my mind does just fine :)

3) Favorite party theme?
I love all things 80s, so if I have an excuse to rat my hair and rip the collar out of a sweatshirt, I'm a happy girl. Plus, who doesn't love legwarmers and the Bangles (both the bracelets and the band)?

4) Go-to Halloween costume?
See Above... I've defaulted to the 80s costume on more than one occasion. However, I had a lot of fun when I draped some silky white satin sheets around my body and covered myself in gold glitter as a Greek Goddess.

5) Extravagance you can't live without?
Victoria's Secret underthings. I refuse to buy bras or underwear anywhere else. Sorry to be snobbish, VS  has never let me down. They're not as cheap as some stores, but I think the quality is far superior. I've got a decent pair of twins (sorry, that's probably TMI as well as extremely cheeeesy) and I've never been let down by anything that comes in a Pink bag.

6) Living person you admire?
This was a tough one for me... I'm not sure who I admire, really. Over the past month or so, I've read more about Harper Lee and I find her a fascinating person. She shyed away from the stream of recognition that came her way after she published To Kill A Mockingird when most people would milk it for all it's worth.

7) Greatest fear?
Well, this is a little personal, but I would have to say that divorce is my greatest fear. I'm a product of a broken marriage and I would never want to put anyone through that hell or live through it again.

8) Trait you deplore in yourself?
There are two that I am actively trying to rid myself of: Procrastination and Interrupting people. The first one is self explanatory. I always wait until the last minute to do things and it's kicked my ass on multiple occasions. The second one is horrible. I often find myself interrupting people in conversations because I'm so excited about something they've said or feel like I need to interject my thoughts. It's really a horrible habit and I'm trying SO hard to have more self-control!

9) Which talent would you most like to have?
Since I've developed a love of Glee, I wish I could sing half as good as Rachel Berry/Lea Michelle. Seriously, if you don't watch Glee, at least YouTube some of her songs. Her voice is A-Mazing. I also wish I could draw/paint/photograph... anything artistic.

10) Greatest achievement?
I have no idea... I used to be pretty proud of the fact that I finished college on a full ride scholarship in 3 and a half years, but all that got me was a career I'm now leaving. So... I guess I'm proud of myself for going back and getting my teacher certification. I'm almost there! Less than a year to go : )

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Random Ramblings

Just a few things on my mind today:
  • I got my teacher assisting/student teaching placement on Monday! It was an awesome birthday present, especially because the school I'll be in was my very first choice. It's close to home but still big enough that I think I'll gain a lot of really valuable experience. For privacy reasons I won't disclose it on the blog, but for those of you who know my high school, suffice it to say that it's one of our biggest sports rivals. I'm meeting with my mentor teacher today, and I've heard wonderful things about her. I'm so excited for this next part of my life to start!
  • How did I live without DVR? And for that matter, how did I live without Glee in my life for it's first season? My darling Jenna got me the first 13 epidodes, "The Road to Sectionals" for my fellow Gleeks, and I've been loving every minute that I've been able to catch up on what I was missing. I think I got Josh's sister hooked, too, because we watched 4 episodes together Tuesday night. So fun!
  • I'm getting a little nervous about the whole jewelry business... I had an amazing party last night, but no future bookings. I'm really not good about pushing people to have a party - I don't want to come across as desperate, crazy, pushy, etc... and damage my reputation. Any ideas on how I can ask people to have a party but not come across like a total psycho?
  • I thought I would have more time on my hands once school was over, but that has proven not to be the case. Hopefully this weekend I'll have time to clean out the spare bedroom, bathroom cabinets, and kitchen cupboards. Maybe even move some of my stuff in from the garage?? A girl can dream, right?
  • I just read Capote in Kansas by Kim Powers and it was a let down. I bought it off Barnes & Noble's bargain shelf, which is always kind of iffy, but this really sucked. To Kill  A Mockingbird is one of my favorite books, and Harper Lee has always intrigued me, but I felt like Powers took a lot of liberties with the characters, blending real people with his idealized version of them. It was boring and anticlimactic and I wish I would have saved my $4.95 for something better.
What's on your mind today?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Early Birthday Party

On May 6th, a group of 11 joined me at The BOB in Grand Rapids. If you've never been, The BOB (which stands for Big Old Building, and it is just that) is a TON of fun. There are 5 levels with bars, lounge areas, full restaurants, and a comedy club. On Thursdays, their comedy club is only $5 a ticket, with $5 pitchers of beer and happy hour specials afterward. The 12 of us gathered at Dr. Grins and had a great time, as you will see below. (I didn't take pics of any of the comedians, because, let's face it, I would have been completely ridiculed)

Me with Josh's sister, Ashley (yes, two Ashleys. What could be better!?)

My cousin Stephanie and my sister Lindsey

Lindsey, sporting her Purple Punch tape measure (apparently a must have for a comedy show)

Jenna (looking lovely in her Premier Jewelry!) and myself
My Millie clutch and Jenna's Blue Rhapsody Holiday Tote

My banker friends and their girlfriends! From left: Caitlin and Matt, Craig the intern and Karen. Caitlin did me a huge favor and picked up all the tickets early, plus she reserved us a table! I was SO glad she did that - it helped out so much :)  I was glad that Craig and Karen came out. Craig just started working as an intern for us about 6 weeks ago and he's proven to be a lot of fun. He fits in well with our work crowd, and his girlfriend, Karen, is so nice!

Josh and I at the end of the night... please excuse the drunk sleepy look in my eyes

And as an added bonus, I got birthday presents! I wasn't expecting these at all, so it made the night even better.

From Brandon and Jenna: A new picture frame that I'm thinking will make its way into the bathroom, plastic wine glasses for outside (or, as Brandon said, so I don't break them if I happen to fall), and a wine toy for Diesel so he can be a wino too!

From Jenna L: The first season of Glee wrapped in beautiful Blue Rhapsody Vera paper!

I love my friends! (and I still love those of you who weren't able to make it out to celebrate!)


Well... today is the day I become a quarter of a century old. I have now reached the age that I thought was "like, so totally old" when I was younger (and stupider). Later today I'll post some pics from my birthday get together last Thursday. It was a TON of fun!

Today, I took the day off of work so I could do adult things. I'm having breakfast at my favorite coffee shop, Sozo, in Ionia. Then, I'm going to the beloved Secretary of State to get a new driver's license (and new picture, which will be extra lovely since I woke up with a cold sore on my lip.) and change my address. My sister is joining me for some antiquing afterward. Finally, I get to hang out at home for 5 hours while I wait for our new TV (and DVR!!!) to be installed. My day will wrap up at Josh's parents' house where we will celebrate Josh's dad's and my birthday. We have the same birthday - how coincidental is that!?

I'm super excited to just relax and get some stuff done today : ) I've already been blessed by countless texts and facebook posts wishing me a happy birthday, and so far, it's been just that!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I'll let you in on a little secret...

I'm a Pioneer Woman freak. As in, I'm obsessed with every little thing she has to say, and enter to win her contests even though I'm one out of like 40,000 (not exaggerating) and I'll never win. I also just discovered her about 3 months ago, so I'm about 4 years behind....

One of the things that I've picked up from her site is these Actions that she's created for Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. (This is my little post-processing secret mentioned earlier) I've downloaded these for my computer and I have to admit that I've wasted spent countless hours editing and "actioning" my photos. I LOVE it. I love combining multiple actions and then changing saturations and hues. (Confession: I did have a computer graphic design class in my first year of college the first time through. However, that was a long time ago and I'm pretty sure that you don't need any experience in Photoshop to run these actions.) I wish I could remember the combination of actions I used for these pics, but I don't. Sorry :(







If you're a photography junkie like me, I highly recommend Photoshop if you can afford it. I received Photoshop Elements as a gift a few years ago and I. Love. It. All these were modified in Photoshop Elements. The super expensive version is definitely not a necessity; you can produce amazing quality pictures with the cheaper Elements version.

Check out PW's Actions:
Photoshop Elements

*Note: Blogger is giving me HELL right now, so if these don't look properly formatted, that would be why!

One year down, a lifetime to go :)

Josh and I celebrated our first dating anniversary on April 30th. We decided not to buy gifts because we want to go away somewhere nice for a night, eventually, when our schedules are a little less full. So, I thought I was being nice with picking up a card, until I stopped by the farm to give said card to Josh. He totally one-upped me. He was waiting with this gorgeous basket of flowers! Now, I've said before that I'm not a big fan of flowers, which Josh was well aware of. He even said, "I know they're flowers, but at least they're not roses!" These flowers are so pretty - I love the colors of the spring arrangement. I decided to follow in Carrie's footsteps and take a few artsy pics:
Not artsy, but I wanted to show the full basket!

(I'll share my post-processing secret later - it's a good one, I promise :) )

I'm so glad to be with Josh. Not to get all mushy, but he's honestly the best thing that's happened to me. I love (almost) every minute I spend with him and I'm looking forward to a lot of wonderful things in our future!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Bathroom Pics (finally)

The weekend of April 10th was spent finishing our bathroom renovations (for Josh) and writing papers (for me). I felt really bad that I couldn't help out with any of the work, but it seemed like Josh and his dad had it under control, so I begrudgingly set up shop on the couch and hammered out a few papers. Click for before pictures.

And the after pictures:

I am in love with our shower curtain! I was a little worried that it would be too "theme-y" but I think it's working out quite nicely.

We were planning on using a pedestal sink that my grandpa gave us, but after Josh tore out the old vanity, he realized that the existing plumbing wasn't going to work. (This, combined with the stress from the end of semester assignments, caused me to have a bit of an emotionial break-down. Then I put on my big girl pants and got over it... pretty much.) We ended up making a trip to Lowe's and purchasing a new vanity. I think it looks great, plus I have much more room for my hair stuff and make-up when I'm getting ready than I would have had on the pedestal sink.

Old flooring on top, new flooring on bottom. A clear improvement.

I LOVE our paint colors. I think they're neutral enough that we can change out the accessories easily, but it's still modern and has a nice non-feminine atmosphere.

Oh, I'm in love with these sconces, also, from Lowe's. The mirror is just the old mirror + a new coat of spray paint. I was amazed at how much that paint improved the look of the frame!

I'm so ready to get our accessories hung up! I'm still looking for the perfect mat and frame for some artwork I picked up, sifting through pics on my computer to frame, and looking for the perfect tan or white pillar candles for my holder.

It was a stressful process, but I'm so happy with the results!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Not Having Internet at Home SUCKS!

So yeah, I've got like 24 blog posts in the works, all in various forms of completion. Where are they, you ask? On my laptop. In Microsoft WORD. Why, you ask? Because there's no other way for me to write them. My hope is that I can type them up at home and then copy/paste into Blogger when I have an internet connection. So far, no internet connection. Fail. (Also, I've been sick this week so I haven't ventured out of the house that much to find an internet connection.)

On the plus side, we are getting TV!! Josh and I decided we are completely fed up with our digital converter box and have taken the plunge to get satellite TV. I'm beyond excited! We got a really good deal: $30 (after taxes and fees) for 2 rooms, both with DVRs. YES- I'm finally going to have one of those new-fangled DVR thingies : ) And, the best thing - it's getting installed on my birthday! Happy birthday to ME!!!

On a more serious note, I absolutely could not let the week pass without saying a small tribute to Ernie Harwell, who was the voice of the Detroit Tigers until his retirement in 2002. He lost his battle to cancer on Tuesday. To me, his voice is unmistakable - hearing him speak reminds me of overhearing the Tigers games on my stepdad's radio which usually sat on the front porch as he did yard work or drank a beer as the sun set. He is truly one of Michigan's gems, and he will be missed.