Hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving with your family and friends!!
This day went off without a hitch, and very relaxing. I couldn’t cook a darn thing, no apps, desserts or anything, which is frustrating, but a blessing. For the first time ever, while my husband went off with his buddies on their annual pancake breakfast and HS football game, I got to spend the morning with the girls taking our sweet ass time getting ready and watching the Macy’s parade. My kids rarely showed interest, until this year! This is a big deal!! I love the parade.
We spent Thanksgiving over my parents. Which made it easier on my mind not having a kitchen, cause my mom and dad do everything, and I mean everything! We hooked up the dessert of course, but they do everything else. My mom out did herself again with her menu. It was all delicious and went down way way too easily! Especially the wine!
We had a small crew spend the day together, as my oldest sister lives in Italy and my older sister was visiting her in-laws in the Mid-west, and my in-laws stayed together…but it was real pleasant even if they were all missed. Time flew, my kids had a great time with their Nonni’s attention (they love Nonno and Nonna so much!!), and I am still stuffed 9 hours later! I think I curbed that pesky craving I’ve been having to pig out all week. I think!. I hope..at least! (quick note on my weight…I have kept steady with it! Haven’t gained a lb since my last drop!! This is a HUGE deal, and I am secretly extra thankful for my ability to keep weight!!)
Here are a few shots of our sweet day. I didn’t take my camera out all that much, but did snap a few good shots of my family and the amazing feast!
Thanksgiving is not over for me yet! Friday night is Friendsgiving, and I am looking forward to that..like I do every year!!
Love you guys!
Thanksgiving is upon us, and it is usually that time of year to reflect upon what we are thankful for. Most years I am pretty consistent with what I am thankful for. Gearing my thanks toward my health, my families health, food on our table, money in our pockets, or family being with me. This year is no different, absolutely no difference. Though this has been an interesting year for me, out loud and personally, with one ringing theme throughout that I am truly thankful for on top of my normal list.
I am thankful for …. LOVE
For my capacity to love and be loved.
For having an amazing family surrounding me to love. Feeling and knowing love from them. For learning, always, how to love and be nurturing. Selflessly. Unconditionally. Also, for how they love, not only me, but everything that engulfs my life.. my husband, our children and our friends. Not that they wouldn’t, but I am thankful.
For teaching my children what my parents and sisters taught me. To give and receive love as a child, as a parent, a person, and, to love themselves by accepting who they are. Also, to love others for who they are.
For the love between my husband and I. We have been together since we turned 19 yrs old; it was a bond of love immediately between two strangers. The love between us is heartwarming and passionate. Romantic and best-friend-like. It is a language only understood between us. Our love is a commitment, through everything. It is putting each other first. His actions and reactions, past and present, truly are the meaning of love! And I learn so much from him.
For my ability to love my friends. Friends, the people I choose to be in my life. Sharing my life’s joys with them and in turn, creating an extension of my family, I am thankful for their love. I have had some amazing friendships in my life, and I am thankful for the love I can experience with those in my closest circle.
For my love of spirituality, being from and for God and all that encompasses my world. I am not an uber practicing Catholic; I practice, teach my children along with our church and religious ed, but I also adhere to other ideals, too. It’s just how I am, and how I feel inside to be. Because of how I have been able to feel loved and love from my inner peace, I am thankful.
Love is quite the human emotion. I don’t believe life would be as special without it.
It makes us feel complete when we are around it, and it makes us feel utterly alone without it.
I have been graced with love. I, also, have been graced to have lost love.
Love is one of the emotions people want to attain most. From family, lovers, friends, colleagues, and peers. And, sometimes occurs without will, and sometimes is a choice we make. It’s truly an amazing emotion that connects us all.
Love is actually life’s greatest blessing. And I am thankful.
I am writing this on the cusp of returning from a dear family friend’s wake. A friend that was my mom’s close friend, neighbor and a friend my own children grew to love. Being in her presence and those of her family/closest friends, made me realize how loved she was and forever will be. That made me joyful to celebrate in her life, and even in her recent death. She was very lucky to have been such a loving person that they all united and reunited in her honor. And I was lucky to have had her in my families lives for 35 yrs. RIP Connie.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Well, there is some back story as to why I love makeup so much… I have been a makeup artist since the ripe age of 17! And…I have been infatuated with it as far back as I can remember.
Looking back at my childhood at where I think it sparked, I was probably around 4 or 5 yrs old. During those rare, special nights when my parents would go out somewhere fancy shmancy, I would be in a tizzy. Every.Single.Time. I can remember it like it was yesterday….
Watching my mom get ready was probably my biggest enjoyment of all being that little. There was just something so magical about it. I’d hear the shower turn off and start counting out till I couldn’t stand it anymore rushing into the bathroom. My parents’ bathroom is set up where the sink is next to the toilet, so I would get the all clear, and run to jump onto the toilet seat; waiting for my mom to put on her show. It really did feel like a show to me as a kid. She would be singing in Italian blow drying her hair. She would heat up my hair for a few seconds with the dryer, too. That warm air felt amazing; and to hear her sing, I loved that. Then she would use her curling iron to make wide ringlets on the top of her hair which she would spray in place.
THEN, she started the magic! She would open up the vanity mirror, and take out her square bottle of foundation, black eye and lip liner pencils, and blush; laying them across the sink. I would look at the colorful spread hoping to touch or wear something, anything! Once in a while when she’d get side tracked, leaving me in the room alone, I’d grab her blush and smell it. It smelled of what I can only describe as that classy makeup smell. It would warm my soul smelling that. My mom would always talk me through what she was doing, what the makeup was for. She would put on her foundation using her hands, telling me they were the best tools God gave us. Funny, cause I say that to my girls. I loved how the foundation would even out her freckled, olive skin; she looked so different. Then following it with a pass of powder to set it then that coral blush to rosey up her cheeks. It was somewhat strange to see her become a blank canvas, then watching her add color to it..transforming in front of me.
When she would apply makeup to her eyes, it was show stopping. My mother’s eyes are so soulful, and add some color and line them in black eye pencil .. wow. She would look at me, smile and wink that heavy lidded wink. Then I would wink back. She would always put on this silvery eye shadow base, and a purple contouring eye shadow over it. I just loved it. Still do! Then she would disappear to get dressed. Then back in the bathroom to comb out her curled hair, spraying it more. Then at the very end, she would get close to the vanity to line her lips and color them in red. This amazing velvety red. She would sometimes let me try some on, too.
Then there stood the most beautiful princess I had ever seen. My mom.
My mom was a stay at home mom till I was seven, so at this young age she didn’t put makeup on often as she did when I got older. And. My mom’s every day look was beautiful, do not get me wrong, but even to this day, when she gets made up and puts on that red lipstick…well, it just is gorgeous. No one wears red lipstick like my mom does. NOT EVEN ME!
And, she still keeps her makeup in that vanity mirror, which has changed over the years, but I can’t help myself from opening it up every time I am in the bathroom to look at what she has in there. I still love to smell her blush. 🙂
My dad getting ready, on the other hand, was slightly different for me. No, he didn’t wear makeup (and that was a silly thought), but my dad shaving was an art all on its own. For some reason, his grooming played a big part in the beginnings of my obsession with makeup. Watching my dad taking such good care of himself, like my mom, was just as special.
As soon as I could bust through the doors when he finished showering, I did! I’d curl up on that seat in the warmth of the steam, eagerly waiting on him to start his ritual of shaving. Like my mom, he would take everything out of that vanity mirror, like it was some magical portal for each of them, placing his ivory handled brush and his white cup filled with the soap on the sink. Following, I’d pick each item up to smell them. Sweeping the brush across my face smiling. Oh man, I can still smell that soap in that brush- it was so soft. My dad would soak the brush in warm water for a few seconds, then started a lather of the soap in the cup. I would sit quietly, listening to the sounds; the ivory handle clanging the cup as he made the puff of white soap, of the now mushy bristles lathering the soap onto his chin, and the sound of the sharp razor crossing his face. He’d occasionally wipe some soap on my nose, too, to make me laugh; and the rush of feeling I would get from that was outstanding. Then he would wash up all the items, place them back in the vanity and pull out his after shave. He would put it on me first, then himself. (This just made me cry. I miss this.)
I guess the realization is that, the fact that they could transform or enhance their beautiful selves by doing these simple things just left an impression. A lasting impression of how I am with myself, and how I feel about it.
So much so, that as soon as I was allowed to wear makeup, I jumped at the chance! I didn’t start off so well, but when I was 17yrs old, all that changed.
I worked at Aldo Shoes in the Cambridgeside Galleria, where my older sister worked upstairs at Filene’s for Origins. My sister and I would take lunch breaks… or smoke breaks in the stairwells of the mall every day we worked together. So, waiting for my sister to go on lunch one afternoon, I started playing with the makeup at the counter like I always had. Putting on light under eye concealer to brighten up my eyes. Running to Chanel, as I was wiping off my morning’s lipstick in exchange for whatever new color was being showcased on their seasonal makeup display. When all of a sudden I get tapped on the shoulder. All I remember was thinking I was getting spoken to about doing something, cause I was always getting in trouble for nothing back then. But, when I turned around I was looking at this black haired, skinny white guy wearing an impeccable grey suit with a black skinny tie. He was smiling as he was blurting out words in my direction. He, the department manager, was not asking me, but insisting that I work for him at the Lancôme counter cause he had seen me a few times in the store and loved my face. Just like that!
Uhm, this was very bizarre to me cause, well, I wasn’t a pretty girl some guy would approach like that. And, never mind how I looked, I was, not to mention a makeup novice! I was in my first year of college, where my major was in Computer Science. So, I basically was going to school with a bunch of smarty pants and I didn’t have to look all that special. I mean, I think I saw his appeal. I was a type of fashionista with my overly made up face, wide leg jeans, tight t-shirts, blue Doc Martins, always carting around a medium DD coffee in one hand, and an oversize messenger bag in the other …and super long pigtails. Hah Oh man, how awful!! Let’s just say I was a fashionista, but not really at all now that I said all that. hah
I was so flattered by his request, and scared at the same time. I had never ever thought of working there, but loved the cosmetic line that he was asking me to work for, too. So I said yes without even thinking about it much. Or my current job!! Once the word yes came out of my mouth, he had me apply for the job at that second!
Then we had my interview, which was literally the next afternoon! We sat up in the corporate office upstairs from the selling floor. We talked for a short bit about the store, the perks of the job and a lot of other things I had to say to sell myself, as I had zero makeup experience. He then brought me down to the Lancome counter. I figured he was giving me the walk out greeting me goodbye as the counter was by the main entrance, but he didn’t do that. He walked me to the counter and asked me to a challenge. (if you know me, you know what this means to me) He asked me to stop someone walking in the store for a makeover. SAY WHAT NOW, FRANK? And that is exactly what I did. I got the courage to get the first woman I saw to sit in the chair for me. Did I mention without having any knowledge of putting makeup on a stranger before in my life!? I said nothing to him though, and pretended to be confident. All I kept thinking to myself was to get in the zone to enhance that woman’s face, and, asking for God to help me not screw it up! ha
Twenty minutes of ‘working it’ passed and I was done. The woman came out great, and I felt transformed. The satisfaction I got from that impromptu makeover was so powerful. The confidence Frank had in me also played a huge roll, too. I ended up getting the job right on the spot! The interviews with the company followed, but basically, I was the candidate in his eyes. For the first time, I tapped into my talents and a passion I had hidden. I worked there for a few years, and it was an amazing experience. I moved on to start out on my own doing makeup for weddings, proms and teaching teens to apply makeup. And haven’t looked back since!
Now, almost twenty years later, I am a walking billboard not just of my talents, but for my obsession with makeup. There is rarely a day I go without someone complimenting my makeup or asking me about makeup in some way. I wear it every day. And if by chance, I don’t have makeup on cause I have the flu dying in bed, which is when I don’t wear it..OK I am lying, I still put on lipgloss or stain. EVERY DAY PEOPLE. hah
I am not saying makeup is the deal breaker for beauty or anything, because I see plenty of people without it that are stunning. I am not one of these people. Personally, for me, wearing makeup the way I do is my way of celebrating my life with color and using my art, and hiding my imperfections at the same time. I can change my eyes or lips, and even cheeks, with what I wear, or what type of day it is, or if it’s a holiday/special event. It can be subtle, or it can be extreme. It can make me seem beautiful to one person, and ugly to another. It’s my obsession, and I don’t care what people think, honestly. It’s all such an extension of my being, that I can’t fathom life without the act of contouring, coloring, or enhancing …me.
LONG LIVE MAKEUP!
We have been at this adventure for a year now! Can you believe it!? A year!
la vita mia has been a tiny glimpse into my life over the past year. It has been a lot of fun sharing all the recipes, the weight loss ups and downs, the nothings, and even the rants! So glad I stopped sharing those! Ha. My hope for the coming year is that la vita mia will evolve with an add on of a makeup/beauty section, OR, even as a different blog all together off this one. That is my second passion to cooking, which I will blog about sometime soon.
I am looking forward to the future of this blog sharing a ton more! And I thank you guys for all the views, comments, shares and repins on pinterest! It truly is appreciated!
With this special la vita mia anniversary, it is a good time to share some of this year’s stats. I had fun looking back at the year putting this together. It amazes me still that you guys are following along.
la vita mia’s ANNIVERSARY STATS
There have been about 9,200 hits to my site this year. How do you guys find me!?
- 85% of those views came in through search engines.
- Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter drove over 5% of those views!
- Another 5% came from readers through WORDPRESS search tags and reader, YAHOO, HOOTSUITE, PULSE ME, GOOGLE READER, etc. (I personally use pulse me- love it!)
- 3% came from clicks off of those followers/following blogs; i.e. they have me listed as a follower or I have commented and someone clicked to me.
- less than 2% are listed as translated pages or blocked, but prob should go into the search engine pool.
Pretty big numbers for just me!!
The search terms/tags used to find my blog from those search engines are a fun list to read through. There were a lot listed, in the hundreds, but I am not going to list them all out! Here are the top 15:
- ground pork tacos (number one blog viewed on my site!)
- cake boss birthday party
- manicure in a jar
- food related movies
- broiled cod with breadcrumbs
- guacamole without onion
- basil pesto without nuts
- caramelized zucchini
- breast reduction recovery
- ice cream sundae birthday party
- shabby chic birthday
- caramelized onion
- sausage appetizer
- kids wrapping paper
It is super flattering that some of the search terms had my name in them. It also creeped me out to see how many variations of my name there were, too. I figure it is from those of you that know me and want to find my site. Hopefully, I am right, and I do not have a weird stalker.
Now, not all search terms are cut and dry, not your average ‘how to’ or simple searches that actually pertain to my site. Some, well, they made me scratch my head a little bit, cause they were directed to la vita mia, but had nothing to do with the results they clicked to!! The top strangest search terms that brought views to my site:
- 9 months pregnant woman (OK, I did tag a photo of myself on my surgery post, with this exact phrase, BUT ugh, the thought.)
- natural busty shower video (Uhm, OK? You were prob disappointed when you got to my site, huh?)
- kids at snowy path
- my pregnant lingerie
- popsicle fundraiser
- tattoo ribbon
- got a valentine from son! she is so sweet (Anyone see an issue here?)
- how to use a hankie (OK, this is just out right bizarre! YES even more than those above!)
- is Nick Offerman a Christian (Yes! I wrote an Offerman blog when I saw him, but I just love this search more than anything! hah)
- laundry bra (I don’t get it either.)
Then there are the stats of most visited pages on my blog. Here are the top ten!
1. Home page
2. Ground Pork Tacos
3. A Cake Boss Themed Birthday
4. My List: 7 Must See Food Related Movies
5. An Ice Cream Sundae Birthday Theme
6. My Personal Story, Surgery and Recovery
7. Not Your Average Guacamole
8. Kids Gift Wrapping Ideas
10. Stocking Stuffer- Manicure Kit in a Jar
I think this anniversary post may be my favorite of the year. It just shows how random my blog is…which is EXACTLY how I am. My life is a lot of things put together, and I love it. AND I LOVE YOU GUYS!! (except the might be stalker!)
Created the first gift of the big Disney Trip reveal!!
I made these coloring binders for my girls before, for our last trip. My kids LOVE to color, doodle and free draw. These books ended up being a savior many times on our last trip, and felt that it’s a great idea to share if you have little coloring fiends, too!
Initially, on our last trip, my thought was to make these books so they had an activity for the airplane. Not thinking they’d come out of their backpacks again. Boy, was I wrong! My oldest is an early riser, and I mean EARLY! Before bedtime every night after the first, we set up the hotel room table, or vanity, as a coloring station. All her special crayons, coloring pencils and markers (washable) set up along with these books and a super cozy chair. As she would be the first to wake up, she would go right to coloring station and not disturb her baby sister..or Mommy and Daddy! It worked for both of them by night three! Some mornings we were able to sleep in because they would get so caught up in coloring.. This, is a GOOD thing as we are not happy waking up early on vacation (even if the parks are empty!). And, to my greatest surprise, the books still make an appearance when we go out.
They were adorable Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse themed books, but I couldn’t make the new ones the same. This go around, I still added in Mickey and Minnie as the feature characters, but, also, their other favorites; even some not from Disney. AND, I created and added in activity/puzzle pages, too. There are connect the dots, riddles, word searches, find the difference, and TIC TAC TOE mixed in among the coloring pages!
The Book: There are a lot of binders out there. Find the slimmest binders you can- about ¼ – ½ inch, not so flexible backing with a presentation window in the front. This way you can create a personalized page in the front, add in a ton of pages as you need, and it’s not too flexible the child can’t use them.
The binders last time were similar; slim, window front, and flexible. Except the binder system wasn’t the metal clasp click into place type as this one is. The binders were fine, but ended up too flexible than they needed to be. The kids couldn’t just take them on their laps to color, so that sort of stunk for us on the go. These newer binders should fit our needs this trip for sure!
The pages: There are a lot of sites out there to find these free coloring and activity pages. I searched pinterest, google, and bing. Here are the ones I found to be the best for this type of project:
– http://www.attentionworksheets.com (under spot the difference)
To match the sheets from the different websites, I created a file in Microsoft Word to format them. Also, they are all together to print at once. SUPER easy!! All you have to do is find the coloring or activity page you like, copy it, then paste it into the word file. Resize it to fit the page if you like. I suggest to align the image slightly more to the right so there is space for your child to fully color and there is room for the three hole punches. Print one side per image, three hole punch, add into the binder
It’s been another busy few days since I last posted. Halloween was a lot of fun! Almost everyone ended up at my house for the night. My sister included! Then, we had family friends throw their children’s birthday party on Saturday. It was the last costume event of the season! And. My awesome father turned 74yrs old on Sunday; Buon Compleanno, Papa!,
So, we are about a month into the house renovations, and are at the phase of inspections this week..all of them. Do it along with me everyone, cross your fingers that everything passes this week!!
The guys busted their butts over this weekend to make sure things were ready. The plumbers, my God, they blew my mind! We had a major job in the basement for them, on top of the renovations; removing and replacing these giant old cast iron pipes that were embedded into the stone walls of the basement. In one day, and I kid you not, two plumbers removed those pipes without affecting the walls much, replaced the pipes, then continued to plumb the basement for the kitchen and bathroom. I mean, this job was HUGE, and they banged it out in one full day and added on to it!! It looks like a totally different place down there! Then Monday they plumbed the rooms upstairs, replacing everything and leaving no trace of a mess. My dream job guys!
Since my last post about the house, I drafted the letter to place inside the walls. And.. it’s no surprise that the letter ended up being more than just a page long! I figured if it was me opening the letter I’d want a touch more about the house. So, I added in photos of renovations past that we have been through, which drafting it all for the letter exhausted me! We have been through a ton of major renovations in the 9 years we have been here. WOW, right!?
Here’s the run down:
2004-2005- we replaced the coal stove with the pellet one, we removed the white carpeting (yuk!) from the living room and master bedroom and replaced it with hardwood floors, then we gutted the heating system converting it from electric to oil-radiant. All, through my first pregnancy. The heating guys literally finished the heating job at 2AM on the first night I had my baby girl at home. EEK!
2006- we replaced 9 windows and re-sided the house.
2007- we renovated the back office into a playroom, then we turned the spiral stairs we had into a conventional staircase, along with reconfiguring our own master bedroom closet and the whole upstairs layout of bedrooms (moving walls and doorways, creating a bunk bed, and ripping up and replacing floors). All while I was pregnant with my youngest. If I remember right, because of the timing of our life events and this house, we had my oldest daughter’s second birthday at my parents right on the cusp of giving birth to her baby sister –I think she was 17 days old?
2008- we renovated the master bedrooms’ bathroom- from a strange yellow and blue 1970’s scary Mobile gas station stall shower to a swank bathroom, with a Jacuzzi tub and full carrera marble shower surround.
2009-forever!!!- we gutted and renovated the back and front yards. We took a long time to finish this project, cause I posted some plantings and stuff this year. We started by fencing in the yard. Then, we completely removed and re-graded our yard, about an acre, then removed the deck and replaced it with a stone patio. At the same time, we had removed the railroad ties from the front and built a new stone retaining wall, and a decorative one above. Then we laid out sod, mulched, and finally had a normal space to call our own outside.
2013!! Here we are in the middle of this beast! Taking our not so pretty tiny kitchen, Sunoco gas station bathroom and tiny dining room and converting them into modern spaces, that will hopefully be timeless.
Tiring right!?!? Phew.
My husband thought adding in the project plans would be a fun way to tie up the renovations we are doing today for the letter. So hopefully we can have this thing wrapped up and ready!
Last night, my husband mentioned that he ordered the refrigerator I liked as we were browsing at some lights, and the whole time I felt that glow. You know that glow you got when you were a kid waiting on your birthday or Christmas, or Hanukkah, or whenever you got presents for just being awesome? I couldn’t help but get that giddy feeling in my gut over the fridge! I never had this for any renovations, ever. I am not sure why I have it for this one, but I do. Maybe it’s cause I am not pregnant? jk! I guess it’s cause I am getting something brand new that I really want, that feels is for just me. Well, for my family, too, but this area of the house is more mine than anything. I get a new granite countertop, a new modern refrigerator, a new dishwasher, all new cabinets, a bigger stainless new sink, a new disposal, all new handles and knobs, new dark wood flooring, new paint, new marble tiles, new china cabinets, new lights; new everything!!!!
I still can’t believe I am going to have a grown up kitchen!! Especially after living without a kitchen for this long. (I am not going to complain about our current living conditions without a kitchen or anything, cause I have to keep positive! I want to cause not being able to cook is killing me! But I am not going to!)
It is all so exciting now! FINALLY!!!!!!!
OK, well, I gotta eat something for lunch or I might pass out!