A Review of 2005

So crazy... but 2005 was the last time I did a year recap on Xanga. Which is kind of cool since 5 years ago was a very different time of my life.

And since my last post still seems to be a downer even though I still don't mean it to be... I thought this would be fun. And now I present a 2005 recap from 2005 (2010 edits in green):

1. Did you have a new year's resolution this year? Um I think it was to use the word fester a lot. I can't even keep a simple resolution. <--- Weird much?
2.Who kissed you at midnight? No one...unless an intoxicated lindsay or steph did.
3. Does it snow where you live? Yes  which I will miss in Lux
4. Do you like hot chocolate? Yes...especially with peppermint schnapps <--- ewww. Try Bailey's
5. Have you ever been to times square to watch the ball drop? "No, and no desire to, either.  Think about it - a bunch of creepy people crammed into a park outside in the freezing cold and no booze on New Years?  Plus it's a prime terrorist target." - My little summed that up perfectly
1. Who was your valentine in 2005? George (not real name)...we had a beautiful weekend in Cincy on the river and then we broke up. But he still owes me a carriage ride.  <--- Never did, but that is not a regret in life. Also in about 1 month from this original post, I will no longer ever want a carriage ride with him.
2. What did your valentine get you? A beautiful hotel room with a view, a teddy bear, gummies (he knows me too well), and a nice dinner.
3. When you were little, did you buy valentines for your whole class? Of course..even smelly kids need "Clarissa Explains it All" valentine cards
1. Are you Irish? Like 1/16???
2. Do you wear green on St. Patty's Day? When I think about it.
3.What did you do for St. Patty's Day in 2005? I partied it up with Sally while in Aruba
1. Do you like the rain? If I can stay inside and read- yes
2. Did you play an April fool's joke on anyone this year? Nah I'm too busy getting wasted while celebrating my birthday!!!! Wait..well unless you count me getting sick all over George's Yukon door a joke...
3. Do you get tons of candy on easter? Yeah but honestly I think I still have it all in my room somewhere...I'm not a huge candy fan except for Skittles and Nerds.
May1. What's your favorite kind of flower? Orchids..anything bright and exotic
2. Do you like the spring? YES
3. Finish the phrase: April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring? Pilgrims!!!!
4. What would you think of as a spring color? haha the same colors as when I think of the word Diagonal...my little pony colors...sorry inside joke
1. What year did you graduate from school? 2003
2. Did you go on any vacations in June? Yep I was in Europe chaperoning High School students
1. What did you do on the 4th of July? I was in Vienna?? I think I went to bed early while my parents went bar hopping. I had to stay and watch the kids.
2. Do you go on any vacations during this month? See above
1. Did you do anything special to end off your summer? I hung out with all the people I love 
2. What was your favorite summer memory of '05? Way too many..but one of the top had to be my picnic with George at Silver Creek
3. Do you go swimming a lot in the summer? Nope.. I was gone too much
4. Do you go to the beach a lot? Nope
1. Did you attend school/college in '05? Yep and I had a great semester in my amazing house
2. Who is/was your favorite teacher? Sobnosky. I love that man. <--- Still best teacher I ever had, but he was high school. I think the question was current best teacher.
3. Do you like fall better than summer? Yes..I love fall colors, Miami, the clothes
1. What was your favorite halloween costume ever? mmm..My ariel from the little mermaid that my mom made me. But this year's slutty one was fun because I never slut it up.
2. What's your favorite candy? NERDS!!!! <-- ew. Give me chocolate!
3. What did you dress up like this year? Well it was SUPPOSED to be a 1920's ganster..but it ended up me being a slutty golddigger/secretary/whatever you want me to be thing.
1. Whose house do you usually go to for thanksgiving? My house
2. Do you love stuffing? not so much..my mom makes her german liver stuffing
3. What are you thankful for? That I am here alive, I have my family around me and true friends
1. Do you celebrate Christmas? Yes
2. Have you ever been kissed under mistletoe? Probably...
3. What do you want this year for Christmas? I just want my new camera already...my old one has been broken for forever
4. What's the best present you ever got for Christmas? My brother...but he showed up a week late <--- awww. I love that kid.
5. Do you like cold weather? Not right now...but I do like it once in awhile

Out with the Old, In with the New

In the past (good old Xanga), I would recap the last year month by month talking about the highlights and tough times I encountered.

This year I'm not.

Instead I'm going to just going to celebrate the difficult life changes and decisions I made it through in order to finally feel like an adult and get my life to a healthy place. This year was not the most difficult period of my life, but it was a long, tiring year that has brought me to a much better place in my life. I think it is important to acknowledge the hurdles in life and be thankful for the opportunities we have to grow from them. If this post seems depressing, it isn't meant to be. This year finally forced me to grow into a responsible person and that is something for which I will always be extremely grateful.

*The biggest, most challenging part of my year came from my work life. Last year at this time, I transitioned from my entry level position into holding my own territory in a large corporation. It was at this point I had a new manager who turned into what I hope will be the worst boss I will ever encounter in my career. He was sexist, a micro manager, and determined to have me quit/ be fired. It took me a long time, filing two HR grievances, counseling (thank you major corporation health insurance), and lots of talks with friends to realize that sometimes there is nothing you can do, some people will just not like you and you can't change that. I spent many months in fear of being fired after I learned that he had started a file cataloging every mistake I ever made (from day 1!!! Before I even had time to ever slight him in any way) and started using HR speak to "discipline me" with the door open in his office to make sure that every employee heard him. It took me 8 months before I was ready to really start looking for a new job.

This experience thought me two important lessons, the first being that companies look out for the company's interests and not for the employee's interests. I was incredibly naive and came into my first real job believing the opposite. This was a great lesson because it has taught me to look at situations objectively and identify what I want rather than what my sense of loyalty tells me I should do. 

The second lesson was that removing yourself from a bad situation isn't giving up, it is making a healthy decision for you. Giving up is staying in a situation, because change is scary. Even the worst situation is bearable if you know what to expect, the unknown is scary and takes courage to find out.

I changed careers, learned a new skill (sales!) and I started managing my career rather than having someone manage it for me. So I go into a new year in a better place in my professional life (yay!!!).

*Second major life change was moving states and moving in with James. If you have done either you know what a huge change that is. I'm still learning from this experience, but wow... patience was a virtue I'm getting to know quite well!

*Creating a budget was a lesson I learned last January and has forced me to manage my financial life rather than blindly guessing what I should do. This came incredibly helpful when it came time to move because I actually had savings to dip into instead of racking up credit card debt. It also helps when taking a major pay cut as I spend time building a book of business to earn commission.... not to mention wedding planning. Also the purchases I do make mean more to me than spending money whenever I feel like it.

*This year also made me grow up and learn to take care of others. Because my grandfather lives here in Florida, I have had to step up and help my family through the process of my grandmother dying and helping my grandfather. It has been difficult, but I am incredibly lucky that I have the means and ability to be there. My grandfather is such an amazing guy who has had a very difficult life and this time I spend with him is a blessing. I learned that the relationship I want to model my own after is the love that my grandparents had. Even in the darkest hours, my grandfather was there and willing do everything in his power to make my grandma happy. I look forward to growing my relationship with my grandfather even more in the next year.

This next year will be a major year for me and I have a feeling it is going to be amazing. I'm getting married(!!!), continuing to grow professionally, and saving for a down payment for a house. I'll be meeting new friends, learning a new city, and growing a strong foundation for my life with James. I wouldn't be ready to do any of these things if I hadn't experienced 2010. Which is why I am able to say I am grateful for these experiences.

Happy New Year Everyone

via Craftily Ever After


I Love Christmas Sales

Today I hit Joann's during my lunch break and I stocked up on some fabulous sale items, gorge ribbons including the ribbon to finally finish my Halloween wreath*, and some beautiful fabric.

I'm seriously counting the minutes till Friday when I'll actually be able to go outside during the day and spray paint. I don't think anyone has ever been this excited to do something so simple.

In in even more SHOCKING news... I finished another craft tonight. Two in one week? What is happening to me? I'll post pictures tomorrow when I actually wear it.

But I'm off to bed early, I'm exhausted.

*Halloween wreath story... I came up with this amazing wreath idea and almost completed it. And then I ran out of ribbon. And it wasn't restocked until now, so I've had a 90% finished wreath sitting on my desk for two months. I'm finally going to finish it tomorrow :)


Our First Christmas Alone


This year James and I couldn't afford to fly home to be with our families and even if we could,  I didn't have vacation days.

But this Christmas is turning into a wonderful, relaxing holiday.

My family tradition is to have Swiss style cheese fondue every year on Christmas Eve and I want to continue that tradition. So I bought my first fondue set and James and I had a romantic, quiet dinner. James even gave up his P90x diet in order to enjoy dinner.

James gave me my gift when I woke up (after a fun scavenger hunt through the apartment) and I got my toaster/egg cooker machine! Plus he had bought eggs, english muffins, cheese, and champagne for me to make my breakfast!
I gave him his presents at dinner. 

Afterwards we watched Christmas Vacation and relaxed on the couch. While we aren't with family, it was really nice.

Tonight we have a really nice, expensive dinner at Azurea the restaurant at One Ocean Hotel and Resort. I'm excited to get dressed up and not cook!

I hope everyone's Christmas is wonderful where ever they are.

Oh... and it's 67 degrees here right now :) 

German Glass Napkin Ring Tutorial

I actually completed a craft enough for me to post pictures... shocking I know. I have like 8 crafts sitting around just waiting for one more step before they are finished. So my goal with those is to finish them before the new year. Which means a trip to Joann's and Michael's in the near future!

But anyways, I made these last minute last night before James's and my first Christmas Eve dinner alone. I thought they turned out great for a quick 20 minute project. I plan to pick up more after napkin rings on sale and try a few different ideas.

Items Needed:

napkin rings
spray adhesive
clear/white large grit German Glass

I bought these napkin rings from Target knowing I would do something to fix them up. They were pretty plain and cheap looking and just asking for someone to take them home and save them. So I did.
First, I apologize for the photos in that it is really dark in my living room. I couldn't use natural light so I had to lighten the photos up for you to see them.

To keep the ring part of the napkin ring from getting glass on it, I used paper to protect it.
Then I used spray adhesive, removed the paper, and dipped the snowflake into the German Glass. After it dried, I put the napkin ring back in the paper and sprayed the sealant. Super easy and gave the napkin ring just enough shine to look special on the table.
I'm not sure if next time I want to spray paint the snowflakes with metallics and then German Glass them or use my Martha Stewart metallic glitter. Thoughts?


The Tortuga Inn

If you are my friend IRL you probably know of my brand loyalty to Hilton. I am a devoted Hilton hotel consumer and have been for about 4 years. It started when I worked for the evil M---thon Oil Company and spent many, many nights out on the road. I quickly learned that as far as business class chains were concerned, Hampton Inns were pretty consistent in quality and I loved the packed to-go breakfast bags for a morning snack in the car. So I joined the Hilton Honors program (points never expire!) and became incredibly loyal. I even have the Hilton American Express Card. James and I got engaged in the Conrad Chicago... so yeah Hilton's are special to us.

So what did this super long/boring intro have to do with this post's title? Actually a lot. When it came time to find a place to stay on Anna Maria Island to see my grandpa, I was so excited to find out that there was a Hilton just slightly down the road (20 min) in Longboat Key. I was not excited when I found out that a room the size of a closet was $200+. So after one night, I decided to try elsewhere. And then came the Tortuga Inn.

I wasn't thrilled to spend the night in a place that wasn't a chain and that didn't give me points. But then I fell in love with this little oasis.

So... heads up. As Anna Maria is a destination for travel, no place on the island does hotel blocks for weddings. However, the amazing people at the Tortuga Inn are giving our wedding guests 10% off. I've stayed twice with them now and I can't get over the level of customer service, the beauty of the grounds, and the value of their suites. Our goal is to try to have all wedding guests stay at the Tortuga Inn or their sister property .25 mi down the road at the Tradewinds Resort. James and I suggest that if attending our wedding with another couple (or 2), that you book a two or three bedroom suite. If this is not your idea of fun, we suggest the individual cottages at the Tradewinds for just the two of you. Let me know if you are interested in booking and I'll give you the reservation code.

To show how nice the rooms are, I took photos of the two bedroom suite we had while we went back to the island for my grandma's funeral. My brother Chris stayed with us and he liked the place as well.
The second bedroom where Chris stayed. The beds can come as twin beds or if you give the Tortuga a heads up, they will move them together and put on a mattress pad that turns it into a king bed.

The room James and I stayed in. It looks much smaller than it is.

The full sized, furnished kitchen that had everything you would need to cook a full meal if you wanted.

Full living room... and what you can't see off to the right is the tv that has a dvd player and VHS player. Not sure why you would want VHS... but it is an option. Also my nerdy heart loved the books in the book cases... real books to borrow while you lay out on the beach!

This was our private gate entrance that had a landscaped patio. It was amazing.

Other side of the patio... you can see our gate in the back.

And the large spacious bathroom.

So you can see why we think this place would be a great deal if two couples decided to bunk together. It would be a cost saver and allows you to have a nice two bedroom apartment.

A courtyard pool hidden between rooms. Not the main pool but it was really neat. My point and shoot camera at night does not do it justice.

Our courtyard with fountains and shrubs and trees. You can see our open gate to the right.

If you are attending we hope you'll agree that this a treasure and stay on property with us.


Another Take on Foam Trees

One of the things I love most about crafting is that an idea can take hold over craft blogs and you can see all the personal changes that make each project different. This year I have noticed that foam trees take over every blog.

I already posted the gorge glitter trees on an earlier post, but now I am seeing pine cone trees, twine trees, sweater trees, and fabric trees. Even tissue paper trees!

I love them all. I just wish I had time to craft. Maybe I need to get my priorities in order...


How Not to Wedding Dress Shop

This week I checked another major wedding milestone off my checklist... I bought a wedding dress.

But this isn't the story of how I bought my wedding dress (which I'm super excited about!)... this is the story of how I almost bought the wrong wedding dress. Thankfully I had a level headed friend along to help me make the right decision, but hopefully this story might save someone else.

Why did I buy my dress a year in advance? Well... in case you didn't know, December is the best month to buy a wedding dress.
Reason #1: Think of these dresses as cars. They are incredibly marked up like cars, you are expected to haggle, year end causes owners to want to reduce their inventory for tax purposes, and next year's models are coming in very shortly. So how do you reduce inventory? You reduce your prices!
Reason #2: Between Christmas and Valentines Day, more couples get engaged than any other time of year. What do excited engaged girls want to do almost immediately? Go dress shopping! Since guys are holding off proposing till Christmas, wedding stores are very empty between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This means more sales!

So I decided to do all dressing shopping in one week. This way I wouldn't overwhelm myself with choices, get a great deal, and get a major purchase out of the way. Win, win, win situation.

My mom was a little disappointed that she couldn't be with me until I reminded her of prom dress shopping. Let's just say that when it comes to shopping for me, my mom and I don't always see eye to eye. She then agreed it was best this way.

So.. back to my story. In Jacksonville there was a very expensive dress store that sold wedding dresses. Sharon Batten sold Vera Wangs, Oscar de la Renta, and other insanely overpriced dresses. Saturday at noon the store closed. So last Tuesday when I found out the store was closing, my boss sent me to shop during my lunch time. Store closing = insane deals.

And I found a sample dress that fit me perfectly. Normally a sample dress is HUGE and needs to be clipped in order for you to have of how it fits, but this would have needed almost no alterations.

Note that I look pissed because I was stressed and worried about time. This was a Vera Wang dress that was originally $5,500 but already marked down to $1,400. It also looks a hundred times better in person. And that light makes me look pregnant but I'm not. Also this was a camera phone picture so quality is even worse.

So it is Tuesday. The store is closing soon. This dress is beautiful and I have 15 minutes to make a decision on whether or not to buy this dress. If I don't buy it, there is a really good chance it wont be there even after work. I was freaking out. Luckily Christina had agreed to meet me last minute and was able to be a voice of reason. While the dress was beautiful, it was still out of my price range and I didn't LOVE it.

So my plan was to not buy it, go to a sample sale at White Magnolia on Thursday evening, and if I didn't find anything better, make an offer Friday morning for $700. I believed if it were meant to be, it would still be there.

Luckily White Magnolia was a much better experience and I was able to buy a dress I am in LOVE with for a great price and have no regrets. Story about that later.

So if you go dress shopping, don't go during your lunch break or any other time there is pressure for you to make a decision quickly. Don't let a label sway you to like something more than you would if it were from David's Bridal. Don't settle for like... you will know when the dress is right. And please make sure you bring along a levelheaded friend. Trust me.. that's the best accessory to have.


New Obsession

One of the parts of photography that I didn't realize going in to it was the difficulty of deciding what lenses to buy. Lenses are expensive!

Luckily, there is a new website named LensHero. This website is built around helping you decided what lens to buy for your personal needs.

How it works is a simple three step process.

First you enter your camera and budget. I selected my camera (Canon EOS Rebel t2i) and then my budget. Sadly my budget is not that high with planning a wedding and saving for a house, so I picked $300. This part was simple and straight forward.

Second, you decided what type of lens you are interested in buying. The options available are macro, wide angle, telephoto, fisheye, tilt-shift, portrait, sports and action, landscape, low light, wild life, travel, and all lenses. I chose portrait.

Then you can choose a zoom option. This option wasn't as clear on what exactly you were choosing. Was this a range you were willing to accept? It had to have a zoom kit with those ranges? As a newbie to photography I was a little confused. But I left that section blank and it still worked.

Third, you hit go... and lenses with reviews appear. My suggestion was a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II which is the lens suggested for newbies like me by other sources.


One suggestion I would like to make to the site is that they have a section that suggests lenses for newbies just getting into photography. Quality lenses that I can grow with as I learn.

As the site is still new, I expect changes will occur to continue to improve but it already is being added to my favorite sites as I decide what lenses to buy.


Train of Thought- An Exercise in Tiredness

I need a house elf to come clean my place, do my laundry, and go to the grocery store.

OMG I want the gold tree on "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen".

Has anyone watched Watch What Happens? It's like a high school girl... on coke... on myspace with better guests. How is this a show?

Why am I still watching this?

Iman's hair looks exactly like Barbie's hair. Only brown... so Barbie's friend Courtney? Is that right?

Twitter does not know me. It keeps suggesting I follow Ashley Tisdale and Mitt Romney.

Commercials keep getting better music. I'm obsessed with the "Snow Day" Starbucks commercial (Matt Pond PA) and the Advil commercial with the different faces (Chugjug by Family of the Year). Picking music for movies and commercials would be an amazing job, but incredibly stressful.

Ad Tunes is amazing.

Celebrity voiceovers on commercials just distract me from what the ad was really about. Does it actually increase sales?

Florida is literally freezing and it still doesn't feel like Christmas. I miss snow.

I totally want Bailey's and hot chocolate. This may be the only time in my life I can buy Bailey's and James won't finish it in two days.

P90x sounds awful... but wedding dress shopping is only second to swimsuit shopping in making you want to change your entire body. Plus can't have James look better than me :)

Andy's tree is so much better than the one I found online. If someone wants to buy me a metallic gold tree I'd love them forever.

And on that note I'm going to bed. Big day of delivering cookies and pitching prospects.


It's Official (and has been for well over a week)

Sorry for the lack of updating, life got in the way as it sometimes does. James and I had an out of town funeral to attend and then there was lots of catching up to do at work.



Yes, it actually happened. The Earth did not stop spinning, pigs did not fly, and while the South has frozen over... hell has not. But it actually happened :)

So December 10, 2011 I will become Mrs. L Klein, which is exactly my MIL's name (Linda). Which I'm sure some psych major could have a field day with that coincidence, but at least I'll be able to stop spelling my last name 4 times over the phone every time I make a reservation.

So where is it happening?

The Sandbar Restaurant on Anna Maria Island, FL.

This is the restaurant that my family has been going to for 20-some years right on the beach by my grandfather's house. It is absolutely beautiful with white sand beach and the most gorgeous sunsets every night. So it has history for my family, an unbeatable view, and won't break the bank. The best part is that by having a complete destination wedding on the beach, I can throw out all traditions I don't like and make my own rules. So I am pumped :)

At the beginning of the post is a photo of the sunset on the beach (via Sandbar website)

And here is the pavilion where the reception will be held