The Day We Got a Corgi

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Today is a very special day. This is the anniversary of the day we brought little baby Joey home. (Edit: Yesterday was the very special day. I’ve come down with a nasty bug that hindered all productivity yesterday, including this post.)

Mr. B and I spent the better part of a year weighing the pros and cons of getting a puppy. Some days it was the best idea ever, and other days we considered the responsibilities of puppy training and thought “nah, better not”. We researched breeds, scoured rescue shelter websites, and talked about the joys and messes that another dog would bring into our lives.

Mr. B fell in love with Corgis, and after considerable research, we decided a stubby little herding dog would be a perfect fit for us. Still, we weren’t sure we were ready for the commitment of adding another dog to our busy, on-the-go lifestyle. It wasn’t until the beginning of last year that we were once again perusing tricolor Corgis on the internet, that Mr. B declared that was what he wanted for his upcoming birthday: a puppy. I didn’t give it much thought, he’d been making similar declarations for a year, and the dedication to this particular decision never lasted very long. This time was different, though. The next morning, the first words out of Mr. B’s mouth were “I’m getting a puppy!” Holy crap, I realized, he’s for real this time.

And so, it was an unseasonably warm Sunday in January when Mr. B and I made the three-and-a-half hour journey to visit a Pembroke Welsh Corgi breeder. As we pulled into her driveway, the breeder stood on the stoop holding the puppy that we immediately fell in love with. From the moment we met him, Joey stole our hearts. He was friendly, sweet and playful, not to mention so stinkin’ cute! We couldn’t believe no one had snatched him up yet – so we did just that. We loaded him in the car and brought him home. (And took about 3,937,569,348 grainy phone pictures of him.)






Over the last year, Joey has brought so much joy to our lives. He is the happiest, kindest, friendliest soul, and I can’t imagine our little family without him in it. Bringing home a new puppy is a huge commitment, but even with all of the chewing, the dog hair, the obeying-commands-only-when-he-feels-like-it, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. The love I have for this fuzzy little creature is at crazy-obsessive levels. HE’S JUST SO CUTE.

Thanks for making us smile, Joey. We love ya, little buddy!


This is Only a Starting Point

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I’m not where I want to be. Mentally, physically, emotionally – this is not where I want to be.

I ended 2013 with such optimism for the year ahead. After all, this is the year I marry my hunky homeboy. We’ve decided to build a life together and we get to celebrate that decision – and the love behind it – with our nearest and dearest.  In freaking MEXICO. How could 2014 not rock?!

Welp. So far, it hasn’t rocked. It’s done the opposite of rocking, actually.

Yesterday, I was reading a post that Ashten wrote about facing her weight and her choices and making some changes to get where she wants to be. It’s a great post. Go read it; be inspired. I’ll wait.

Welcome back. Did you catch the part where she said she left the doctors’ office with a “starting point”?  She decided that her current situation isn’t just something she doesn’t like, it’s something to be improved upon. It’s a place to begin moving forward onto better things. That really stuck with me. Because you know what? I’m at a starting point, too – I just hadn’t looked at it that way. And now that I am looking at it in that light, I’m much more excited about my world and all that lay ahead of me.

It’s time to make some changes. I need to do some serious purging in almost every area of my life; I need to figure out what I’m keeping, shine it up with appreciation and care, then I pick up some new goodness to add to the mix. It’s a daunting task, one that has felt like it is lurking over my head. Until I read the words “starting point”.

It’s such an optimistic idea. A starting point isn’t just where you begin; it’s something you launch from. You leave it behind, and burst onto better things. Sometimes, a starting point is left behind you in a cloud of dust. Other times, you slowly, methodically venture away from it. But no matter what, you take a step that moves you away from the starting point. Then another step. And another. Eventually, the starting point is so far behind you that you can barely see it through the fog of your own progress. So a crappy place is never really that bad after all; you just need to start seeing it as your starting point.

As the journey progresses, you remember the starting point. You know the feel, the taste, the smell of the starting point, but you also know that you can never truly go back there. Even if you can physically return, you will never again be the person you were when you were standing on brink of more. The steps you’ve taken to move forward have changed you; you’ve grown. You’ve changed.

The starting point is filled with doubt, fear and uncertainty. Can I really do this? Must I? Maybe I shouldn’t? It is also filled with hope, possibility, and a drive unlike any other. I can do this. I will do this. I know how to get there, and I’m going to fight like hell. The road is clear before you. The steps are well-defined, if not smooth or easy. The starting point is filled with a very specific desire to move forward.

So, I am at a starting point. Several, if you want to get specific about it. I am moving forward. Away from what isn’t working, and onto something better. I am moving away from what is defeating me, and away from the person I do not want to be any longer. I am not trapped by past choices, traditions that no longer fit, a misguided sense of loyalty, or the expectations of others. I will step away from what is dragging me down, because after all, this is only a starting point.


Our Christmas Festivities Lasted an Entire Week

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While I won’t be disassembling the Christmas tree or packing up the holiday decorations until after the first of the year, it seems the Christmas season is officially over. {sad face.}

This year, our Christmas celebration lasted an entire week. Since we both have multiple, separate families to spend holiday time with, it would be impossible for Mr. B and I to spend quality time with everyone in one or two days.

We started the Sunday before Christmas, with a ham dinner at our house with Mr. B’s mom, grandmother, sister, and future brother-in-law. We spent the evening sitting around eating, drinking, and catching up. Even though they all live nearby, we don’t get together often enough, so it was great to see everyone.

Monday night I ventured back to my hometown for dinner with my dad to spend the night at his house. Christmas Eve morning my dad and I woke up before the sun to head to Pittsburgh’s Strip District. This is one of the coolest parts of Christmas, so it’s totally worth getting up at the asscrack of dawn. We got to Pennsylvania Macaroni Co. around 6 am, and joined about 4 million other folks in the pursuit of fresh Italian goodies for our Christmas feast.

This is the line at the bulk cheese  at PennMac at about 6:30 am on Christmas Eve. It looks crowded and miserable, but in reality everyone is in a great, festive mood.

This is the line at the bulk cheese at PennMac at about 6:30 am on Christmas Eve. It looks crowded and miserable, but in reality everyone is in a festive, friendly mood. AND DO YOU SEE ALL THAT CHEESE?! Happiness. Pure happiness.

After purchasing (for 4 people, mind you) no less than 5.5 pounds of cheese, 2 gallons of olive oil, 4 sticks of Margherita pepperoni, I have no idea how much deli meat, plus some stuffed olives and sundried tomatoes for good measure, we figured we should probably find some breakfast.

You know how they say you shouldn’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach? That’s some solid advice.

Maybe we’ll try that next year.

Eh. Doubt it.

Anyway, breakfast was ah-mazing. This pretty much sums it up:



Afterwards, we meandered to the spice store, the pepperoni roll cart (from Sunseri Brothers, naturally, because I couldn’t settle for one that wasn’t bigger than my head. Duh.), the wine shop, the sausage shop, and of course, the bakery for some fresh Italian bread. If you couldn’t already tell, we like food.

We eventually headed home for naps and to meet up with Mr. B, who had to work that morning and wasn’t able to join us on our little shopping excursion. That night my dad made his famous “dad’s spaghetti” for us. It’s not your typical spaghetti, it’s actually penne in olive oil with banana peppers, hot sausage, sundried tomatoes, and broccoli. IT’S DELICIOUS. But it’s also super spicy, so Mr. B had steak.

The rest of the evening was spent drinking, laughing at Joey, and exchanging gifts. My cousin had planned on visiting with us, but she wasn’t able to squeeze us in to her schedule after all. (No worries, I got to spend the entire weekend with her, which is way better than an hour or two.)

Early Christmas morning, Mr. B and I headed back to our house to exchange our gifts. We bummed around the house watching Christmas movies and swearing we’d never eat ever again. Then we took a little nap and ate some leftovers.

Christmas bums.

Christmas bums, enjoying a little snuggle sesh.

Christmas evening we ventured across the farm for dinner with Mr. B’s dad’s family. We ate more and watched the little kids play games. Some how, Mr. B got pulled into a game. I’m not clear on the objective of this particular game, but it involved putting cookies on his head.

Our final Christmas gathering took place last night, when my cousins came up for dinner.


Nate was here this summer, and Tyler is going to school nearby so we get to see him all the time these days, but I hadn’t seen their sister, Danielle, in about 5 years. She actually spent the weekend with Mr. B and I, and her brothers joined us yesterday. Before they moved across the country, Dani was my little buddy, and I’ve missed her so much.  It was so nice to see her again and spend some quality time with her. She’s not exactly my mini-me anymore (since she’s as tall as me these days), but she’s even cooler than I remembered. Hopefully, it won’t be another five years before I see her again.

Even though I’m sad that it is over, it was a wonderful Christmas. The entire week was filled with fun, food, and lots of love and laughter. I can’t wait to do it all again next year.

How did you spend your holiday? Has anyone else sworn off eating for the rest of forever?


The Happiest Christmas Tree

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I’m joining Amber and Erin as part of the 12 Days of Blogging Christmas linkup. Today’s prompt is “favorite Christmas music”.


Each year, Mr. B and I venture out to the local Christmas tree farm to cut down our own pine beauty.


And every year, as soon as we decide which one is perfect for our home, a certain song starts playing in my head.

Ohhhh, I’m the happiest Christmas tree. Ho ho ho. He he he. Someone came and they found me and took me home with them.

It plays as background music to my thoughts the whole way home, and I hum and dance as we start to decorate the tree.

Ohhhh, I’m the happiest Christmas tree. Ho ho ho. He he he. Look how pretty they dressed me! Oh lucky, lucky me.


And through the entire Christmas season, I’ll catch a glimpse of the tree and hear that sweet little ditty start up in my head.

I’ve got shiny bells that jingle and tiny little lights that twinkle. Whenever anyone passes by, I blink my lights and I wink my eye.

Oh, I’m the happiest Christmas tree! Christmas day, wait and see, I’ll be laughing happily with a ho ho ho he he!

Unlike, oh, every other song to ever get stuck in my head, I never get sick of it. I can’t say it has any special meaning for me, it just brings a smile to my face. Maybe it’s just that I have a tendency to give personalities/hopes/dreams to inanimate objects and this particular song lets me know that I’m not the only one to do so. Maybe it just makes me feel a little less crazy. Then again, maybe it’s just a happy-maker.

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s Nat King Cole in all his glory:

See, it’s catchy and fabulous isn’t it?!?

Also, it should be noted that I (obviously) had this song playing while I wrote this post. Upon hearing it, Mr. B chimes in, “you know that song basically just justifies you killing a tree, right?” Ahh, that Mr. B. Always so full of Christmas cheer.


Our House is Decorated Like a Happy Holiday Wonderland

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It’s December!

Thanksgiving is over and I am finally able to decorate the house with twinkling lights and evergreen-scented candles without protest from Mr. B, who believes (strongly) that Christmas should not be celebrated for the entire last quarter of the calendar year. Since I have a very hard time restraining the holiday cheer after Halloween, it means a good number of Scrooge and Grinch jokes get lobbed around our house during most of November.

I couldn’t help myself this year – the Christmas dishes made an appearance about a week before Thanksgiving – but I was able to refrain from fully decorating the house. That being said, I practically ran home after our second turkey dinner and pulled all of the garland, ornaments, and festive knick-knacks out of the attic. Okaaaay, okay, I waddled home, slipped into stretchy pants, took a nap, and decorated the next day, but you catch my drift. I was EXCITED.

The house is almost completely decorated (the train needs finished, my dad is going to come help us with that this weekend), and I love how cozy it feels with Christmas cheer all around us. Here are a few of  my favorite parts:

For most of the year, I'm not big on knick-knacks, but during the holidays, they are everywhere.

I’m not usually big on knick-knacks, but during the holidays, they are everywhere.


I love these little guys on the kitchen window sill.

I love these little guys on the kitchen window sill.

Especially this sweet little tree. He's the perfect size to keep my ring safe when I get my hands dirty in the kitchen.

Especially this sweet little tree. He’s the perfect size to keep my ring safe when I get my hands dirty in the kitchen.

Most of our Christmas decorations are hand-me-downs, like these candles.

Most of our Christmas decorations are hand-me-downs, like these candles from my grandmother.

This nativity scene from my grandmother, sits on my great-grandmother's chest at the foot of our bed.

She also gave us this sweet nativity scene, which now sits on my great-grandmother’s chest at the foot of our bed.

I love seeing the decorations all lit up.

I love seeing the decorations all lit up, so they are almost always turned on.

That candle smells like a Christmas tree. It makes me so happy.

That candle smells like a Christmas tree. It makes me so happy.

I made all of our stockings, which is why they don't match. Joey's is still in the works, so the one with the green strip is his "for now" stocking.

I made all of our stockings, which is why they don’t match. Joey’s is still in the works, so the one with the green stripe is his “for now” stocking.


Do you get excited about decorating for the holidays? What are you favorite decorations or traditions?


Guest Post: Samantha From Life Style Love

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Guys, I have a real treat for you today. Samantha from over at Life Style Love is here on the blog today, and let me tell you, she’s my kind of girl. We have similar interests and priorities, and she tries to focus on the bright side of things. Go stalk her blog – I’m sure you will adore her!

Hey friends! I’m excited to be guest posting for Nikki today – I’m Samantha and I blog over at Life Style Love. At LSL you’ll read about recipes (that I attempt), life with my hubs, diy projects (again, that I attempt), and you’ll get to see some awkward outfit posts if you’re lucky 🙂 



I definitely claim to be a professional at absolutely none of the above; but I believe life is short and life is beautiful, so why not find happiness in the awkward moments, too? I blog so I can share with others the adventures of my average life. Oh, and it’s sorta fun and addicting too 🙂

I love the month of December. Actually it’s probably my second favorite month out of the entire year. [Being a MN lakes lover, I have to give the #1 award to August…] But December and the Christmas spirit that it brings makes me so happy. I mean, what is there not to love?!

ecorating your place!

ating holiday goodies!


njoying all the parties!

ovies like White Christmas and Santa Clause!

lankets and apple cider!

mbracing the carols!

eason for the Season!

These are just some of my favorite things! Enjoy all that the month of December has to offer; and in the midst of the shopping, cooking, and chaos, remember the reason for the Christmas season and savor the fun times with your loved ones. Even if you can’t stand hearing Deck the Halls one more time or think you might gain 10 pounds 🙂

Happy December! Come tell me your favorite parts about the month?

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I’m Baaaaack! {NOLA Recap}

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Oh, hey, hi there. I fell off the face of the earth there for a second while I recouped from my bachelorette trip to New Orleans. Sorry ’bout that. But now I’m back! I’m about 20 lbs heavier than when I left and I’m still completely exhausted but was it a BLAST!

Did you guys have fun with Brittany and Raewyn while I was gone? They are fabulous ladies, no?

Guys, let me tell you, New Orleans is an amazing city. The food (ohmygod THE FOOD), the people, the art, the music, the drinks were all incredible. I am so grateful to my MOH, Jess, for organizing such an unbelievable weekend, and I’m so glad my friend Kristin was able to join us on such short notice.

I can’t even begin to explain what an amazing city NOLA truly is. The people were all so friendly and welcoming, the food was delicious, the drinks were strong, and there was art and live music everywhere we went. I’ve been sitting here for an hour now trying to find the words to describe everything we did, but I’m at a loss, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking for now.

I was blown away by all of it: the gorgeous architecture, the funky voodoo shops, the amazing view from our hotel room, the palm trees/Christmas decorations combo, and HOLY CRAP do you see the SWEET RIDE my bff scored for us?!

I was blown away by all of it: the gorgeous architecture, the funky voodoo shops, the amazing view from our hotel room, the palm trees/Christmas decorations combo, and HOLY CRAP do you see the SWEET RIDE my bff scored for us?!


There were musicians and street performers EVERYWHERE. It was incredible to see such talent on display all around us.

There were musicians and street performers EVERYWHERE. It was incredible to see such talent on display all around us.

And what trip to New Orleans would be complete without a few photos of Bourbon St at night?

And what trip to New Orleans would be complete without a few photos of Bourbon St at night?

As you can see, I have mostly daytime/tourist photos. I was afraid to take my fancypants camera out at night for fear of losing it, breaking it, or spilling adult beverages on it. My phone’s failures are a post for a different day, but let’s just say it wasn’t very useful for anything, let alone capturing memories.

We squeezed so much into the two nights and days that we spent there, but I feel like there is still SO much more Big Easy amazingness to behold. I definitely cannot wait to go back and explore even more of the funky, quirky city.

So what did I miss while I was gone? What’s new with you?


Pay It Forward

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A few weeks ago, I got an email from the adorable Kate over at Another Clean Slate. She told me she was participating in the Pay It Forward link-up that Stephanie was hosting over at Be So Happy. The idea of the project is to do something nice for a few  bloggers that you aren’t already friends with – yet. She was emailing to ask for my address because she wanted to send me something.

Blogger Pay It Forward

I was so surprised and touched! You know the saying, “it’s the thought that counts”? SO true. Her email alone made my day. Knowing that a fellow blogger thought of me and wanted to do something nice for me made my heart so happy. And then I got her sweet package in the mail:



This cute little journal is filled with 365 simple, easy ideas for putting a little more good out into the world.


It’s such a beautiful idea, and I thought it was such a fitting gift for Pay It Forward. I can’t wait to incorporate these ideas in my everyday life and keep track of them in this adorable little journal. Thank you so much, Kate!

I’m grateful to her for so much more than the surprise I got in the mail. I never would have heard about the link-up if she hadn’t told me about it, and as soon as I learned about it, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I love giving gifts. I truly get more excited about giving Christmas presents than receiving them. Mr. B can attest to it – I have such a hard time waiting until Christmas morning because I want to hand out the gifts I’ve bought the moment I get them home. Even the simple act sneaking Mr. B’s favorite candy bar into his lunch box gives me a little thrill; I like making someone else’s day just a little bit brighter.

It’s more than gift-giving, though. When she sent me the first email, it put such a big smile on my face, and I wanted to pass that feeling along. I wanted to do something nice for someone else – to let them know someone was thinking about them and appreciating what they do – so I hopped over to Stephanie’s blog to learn more about it. She suggested paying it forward to three other bloggers, so that’s exactly what I did. I chose three ladies whom I’ve recently started interacting with and whose blogs I love. I wanted to find something for each that would make their lives just a tad easier, and this is what I found for each:

Carly, the sweet former Pennsylvanian over at The Pinot Project is in the midst of a no-spend month. Trouble is, she loves her Starbucks, so it’s a real challenge for her to limit her spending on those caffeinated treats. I sent her a small Starbucks gift card to make it a little easier. Plus, as it turns out, she attended Indiana University of PA (which is really close to where I live) so I found her an IUP travel coffee mug.



Megan, the hilarious chica behind The Fussy Britches, is in the middle of redesigning her blog – a stressful and time-consuming endeavor. Sympathizing with this, and knowing her love of wine, I found her a silly little gift that is sure to save her time: a wine glass that claims to hold an entire bottle of wine. As busy as she is with blog stuff, she really can’t be wasting time getting up to refill her wine glass. I can’t wait to hear if it really does hold the whole bottle!


Because of mail delivery concerns, she had me send the package to her husband’s office. For his help making sure Megan got her gift, I sent him a little something too. (After all, the idea was to make someone’s life a little easier, not give someone more to do.) Since Matt seems to appreciate decorative upper-lip fuzz as much as his wife does, I sent him a pint glass that makes the person drinking out of it appear to have a fluffy mustache.


Samantha, the adorable lady over at It’s All In The Details, is a fellow engaged girl. For her, I found a hand-painted wine glass (with little diamond rings painted all over it!) and a bottle of bubble bath. Hopefully, a glass of wine and a soak in the tub prove to be a relaxing escape from reality when the wedding stuff starts to get overwhelming.



And this, folks, is where it really gets cool: when Samantha opened her package on Sunday night, she posted a photo of it on Instagram and tagged me in it to thank me (yay! she liked it!). Her friend Emily saw the photo, and that I’d been tagged in it, and asked how we knew each other. See, Emily is not only Samantha’s good friend and college roommate, but also my good friend from high school. We had no idea! And we probably wouldn’t have figured it out anytime soon if it wasn’t for the Pay It Forward project. What a small freakin’ world. My mind is still kinda blown.

Who else participated in the Pay It Forward project? I can’t wait to hear what everyone did! Has anyone else ever found a crazy real-life connection with a bloggy friend?