Archive | July, 2011

Wine for Dinner

29 Jul

So, I recently posed a question on Facebook: Is it wrong to have wine for dinner? And you wouldn’t believe how many responses I got! It was so hysterical that I had to write about it to you.

First, I don’t think there is anything wrong with a glass or two of wine during the week. I work hard, and I like to come home and relax. So, last night, that is just what PoppaNut and I did. We opened up a beautiful bottle of red, sat on the couch and talked about our days. What a nice way to end the week!

And it seemed like my friends and family agreed! Here are the responses I received:

  • Lisa Hoyt, who I used to work with at Tampa Bay Illustrated, said: Never, darling! Have an extra glass for me!
  • Jack, my brother-in-law, said: Sometimes a liquid dinner is a necessity. Enjoy!
  • Ashley McDonald, or Ashley Byszewski as my family knows her (who is expecting her first baby soon!), said: Absolutely not! Have an extra one for me please!
  • Kelly Meyer, a good friend (I used to work with her mom at the magazine too), said: Grapes are a food!
  • My dear aunt Sherry said: No, go for it …
  • My good friend Jen Whalen from IU said: I consider it your fruit intake for the day
  • Susan Barnes, a writer in the Tampa Bay area that I have met a few times, said: Uh, no …
  • And my aunt Deb, another fun Irish woman who married into the Orlando family, said: For dinner or with your dinner?? Lol, have some pretzels with it at least!

So, that either tell me wine for dinner is just fine … or all my friends and family are nuts!

And that’s life in a nutshell … follow your own rules and have fun, with or without a glass of wine!


Be a Tourist

25 Jul

Living in the Spring-Break capital of the world, Clearwater Beach has no shortage in tourist activities. But when you are a resident, you rarely have the time to enjoy those activities. The laundry and the grocery shopping and the endless list of chores always seem to take up most of the weekend. And that was true of this weekend, too.

On Saturday morning, PoppaNut headed to the gym and I started my Saturday ritual: laundry with a few girl shows I have recorded peppered in along the way. I went to the grocery store, wrapped a baby-shower gift and what not. PoppaNut detailed our two cars (out in the blazing heat!), and came upstairs to relax around 2:30 p.m.

As soon as we got our second wind, PoppaNut suggested we do something different. We thought about going to the Tarpon Springs’ sponge docks, to a movie or the beach. We decided on the beach, hopped in the car and we were off.

Tourist Activity No. 1: Eat a Crabby Bill’s. This place is a landmark on Clearwater Beach. It’s filled to the brim with tourists from every walk of life. PoppaNut had a bigger-than-his-mouth burger, while I had a shrimp grilled-cheese sandwich, which was a special that day. And it was special to me, too … I nearly devoured the whole thing, while I made a mental note to run the next day.

Tourist Activity No. 2: Take a dolphin tour. We headed to the yellow Screamer, and found our seats quickly. A storm was rolling in, so we crossed our fingers and hoping the rain would stay at bay. We passed the legendary Pirate Ship on our way out to the gulf. Then, we saw several star homes, like that of Hulk Hogan. Finally, we headed out to the gulf for the most amazing dolphin show I have ever seen. These dolphins were literally jumping right behind the boat like they were in an acrobatic show! There were probably six or seven of them, just following behind the boat and jumping in the waves. It was amazing.

So, that’s life in a nutshell … take a Saturday and become a tourist in your own area. Your community probably offers a million things you want to do, but have never taken the time to do it. Make the time, because it is so worth it!


Flower Power

22 Jul

I don’t care what anyone says. Flowers have power! They have the power to say “I’m sorry,” “I’m thinking of you” and “I love you.” But my favorite flowers … and the ones I think have the most power … are the “just because” flowers. Those flowers instantly light up my day.

And it just so happens that I got those “Just Because” flowers today from PoppaNut. Delivered to my work, the flowers arrived just after lunch. I got a note to come to the front desk for a package. Well, I had ordered something off eBay (more to come on that later), and I thought it was that. What a beautiful surprise to see these flowers waiting for me instead … with the most beautiful note in the whole world.

PoppaNut has always sent me flowers for no reason at all (This is where I insert my biggest thanks in the whole world to PoppaNut’s mom and sisters for raising the most wonderful man in the whole world!). It’s the sweetest thing in the whole world, and I know he doesn’t do it to be recognized or anything like that. He does it just to make me smile, to remind me that after nearly three years together, he still loves me more than anything in the world. And what could be better than that. I can’t think of a single thing.

And that’s life in a nutshell … remind the one you love that you love them and why! I love you, PoppaNut.


American “Doggy” Idol

22 Jul

I’m a huge country-music fan. And no, it is not just about your dog dying, losing your job and what not. There are some really great songs if you guys would give it a chance. I think I may have even converted PoppaNut into a country lover, thanks to Zac Brown Band and their amazing song, “Toes.”

I’ve listened to country music all my life. I remember sitting under the dining-room table as a child, listening to my parents playing Euchre with the sweet sounds of Randy Travis and John Prime in the background. So, you can only imagine my excitement when I learned I could pass on my love of country music to my two nuts: Peanut and Cashew.

Yes, you heard right! The Loews Hotel in Nashville allows you to have your pup cut a CD in a professional recording session. Could Peanut be the next Dolly “Paw” Parton and Cashew the next Darius “Ruff” Rucker. We could have two furry stars on our hands, and we don’t even know it yet.

The hotel offers a limo shuttle (of course the dogs have to arrive to the studio in style to show the other dogs how they roll). Once situated in the studio, your pup will work with a voice coach, and howl along with a musician or bark to their favorite karaoke tune. I wonder what selections they have: “Who Let the Dogs Out” or another song by BowWow? With it being in Nashville, I have to hope some country makes the list.

I’m seeing an American “Doggy” Idol coming on …

And that’s life in a nutshell … you learn about something new every day, and most of the time, it gives me a giggle. This one certainly did.


Take Me Out to the Ball Game

20 Jul

The Yankees are in town, so PoppaNut and I headed to Tropicana Field to get in on the action. One of PoppaNut’s clients gave us these amazing seats right behind home plate. We were so close that you could practically smell the sweat coming off each coachs’ foreheads. It was incredible. And yes, I was wearing my Victoria’s Secret Yankees shirt that I blogged about last week … and it was also incredible.

Me and PoppaNut at the game

But as we nestled into our front-and-center seats, it wasn’t the actual game that got my attention. In fact, the actual game has never been what draws me to the ball park. It’s the smells and the sounds that remind me of my childhood that keep me coming back for more.

When I was little, my family used to drive up to Chicago to watch the Cubs (who would usually lose) play at Wrigley Field. I’m always telling PoppaNut about my love for Wrigley Field. Besides Disney, it’s the most magical place on Earth. The history of Harry Caray singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” with a big ice-cream cone in my hand just can’t be beat. And my memories don’t hold any record … I can’t tell you how many games I went to when the Cubs won and how many games I went to when they lost … I just remember being with my family and having a great time.

I have a special memory of heading to Wrigley Field with my Grandma Tam. Our whole family was there, and she wore a royal-blue bucket hat with a big Cubs logo on it. My Grandma Tam has since passed away, but I still have that hat tucked away in the Yankees room of all places. It’s dusty and a bit tattered, but that memory is still clear as day for me.

Jeter at the plate

My dad got very sick when I was in high school, and I remember when he started feeling better. He asked me to go with him to a Cubs game. I was suppose to work at the KOA Kampground (my summer job), but I couldn’t wait to call in sick, climb into the van and make my way up to Chicago. We didn’t have tickets, but we bought some at the gate … standing-room only. But once again, it didn’t matter. It was a special moment I’ll always cherish where a daughter got to enjoy the game with her wonderful dad!

And PoppaNut and I have had some wonderful moments in the ball park. We have celebrated every one of his birthdays at a spring-training game. We have gone to Yankees games with friends and family … but my favorites are when it’s just us. We may be surrounded by tons of people, but it still feels like we are sharing such a special moment as just the two of us.

And I saw those types of moments happening at the game last night. An older couple shared an ice-cream cone, a group of friends bonded over crazy calls, a dad explained the game to his son, a husband and wife shared a drink and took in the game.

A couple sharing an ice-cream cone

And that’s life in a nutshell … to me, it’s not the players who win … it’s the fans in the stand.



Slammin’ Daiquiri Day

19 Jul

In honor of National Daiquiri Day, I wanted to share a food-related newsletter. “Hungry Girl” is an amazing newsletter that shares a the healthy version of recipes we all love! The founder of this business really shows you that you can eat good and still stay healthy. I love it!

So, try this Slammin’ Slimmed-Down Strawberry Daiquiri recipe from her site. It only has 121 calories per serving! And sign up for the newsletter too, so you’ll receive lots of healthy-food ideas.


One 2-serving packet (about 1 tsp.) sugar-free strawberry powdered drink mix (any

variety, like Crystal Light Strawberry Kiwi or Energy Wild Strawberry)

1 1/2 oz. white rum

1/2 oz. lime juice

3 frozen unsweetened strawberries, slightly thawed

1 cup crushed ice

or 5 – 8 ice cubes


Combine drink mix with 4 oz. cold water in a glass. Stir to dissolve. Transfer to a blender.

Add all other ingredients to the blender, and blend at high speed until slushy and uniform.

Pour into a glass and add a straw. Slurp that baby up!


And that’s life in a nutshell … enjoying a delicious yet healthy daiquiri on National Daiquiri Day is simply blissful.


MLB Chic

14 Jul

So, everyone knows that PoppaNut is a HUGE Yankees fan. In fact, we have an entire room in our home dedicated to the Yankees. From autographed balls to pinstriped M&M’s, this room bleeds blue. And PoppaNut couldn’t love it more.

Since the Yankees have a huge presence in our lives (during the LONG nine-month season), we certainly go to our share of games. PoppaNut usually wears one of his million NY Yankees shirts with his Yankees flip-flops and Yankees watch. Then, there is me. I don’t have a thing to wear. I have two Yankees shirts, but I don’t really love either of them.

So, I went on a hunt. I’m not letting a Yankees game keep my fashion choice down. After some lengthy researching, I found that Victoria’s Secret has Yankees shirts. In fact, they have a ton of MLB clothing for us gals as well as college attire! Problem solved. I ordered one Yankees shirt and one IU shirt (I can’t pass up a shirt dedicated to my alma mater, now can I?). I would have loved to order it all … and since we are only half way through the season, it’s likely I’ll make another purchase soon. Which one would you chose?

And that’s life in a nutshell … see every opportunity as a chance to make your own fashion statement.


Blast from the Past

11 Jul

Punching Game

PoppaNut and I are pretty much homebodies. We like to stay in, watch movies, play games and just hang out most weekends. It is our chance to sit back, relax and enjoy the life we have created for ourselves.

But every once in a while, we mix it up! And that’s exactly what happened on Saturday night, much to our surprise. We decided to head out to dinner to Chili’s on Saturday night. As we walked into the bar area, we saw two friends: Sam and Kelly. Sam was a groomsmen in our wedding, and Sam and Kelly are good friends. But as life gets busy, you can lose touch with people. And that’s exactly what happened.

So, it was such a nice surprise to see them at Chili’s. We ate our dinner, catching up with them between each bite. After that, we decided to head to a local bar for some good ole bar games: the bowling game and the punching game.

The Bowling Game

Now, I used to be a pro at the bowling game. PoppaNut and I would play it all the time, and we would both get strike after strike. Well, it seems I have lost my touch, because I played TERRIBLE. But, it was fun none the less.

PoppaNut had his eye on the punching game as soon as we walked in the door, so we headed there next. With tons of singles in hand, PoppaNut pumped that machine full of money and went on a punching roll. In fact, he beat the high score!

All in all, we had a great night. It was so fun seeing Sam and Kelly again, and mixing things up by heading out to the bar on a Saturday night.

And that’s life in a nutshell … be open to where life takes you. You never know when you could end up having the time of your life with the one you love and a punching game. 🙂


Lights, Camera, Action

7 Jul

Since I started writing this blog, I have had so much fun sharing little tidbits with my readers. However, there was one big pain in the butt that I couldn’t get around: photos. For a blog to gain popularity, you have to take original photos.

Well, I didn’t have a camera. PoppaNut has a great camera, but I didn’t have the software downloaded on my computer. So, I would take photos with his camera, download them to his computer, put them on a USB port and then put them on my computer. WHEW … You get the point. It took forever.

So, I ordered this handy-dandy Samsung PL90 camera. I got it at for just a little over $100. It’s lightweight and takes great photos (I used it in CT for the first time and you can see the photos I took in that blog post). And the best part about the camera? It has a built-in USB port. That means no cords or cables to lug around or lose in the future. I just plug it right into my computer, and I’m ready to access my photos right away.

My Blogging Camera

I love it! And it allows me to share all my great pictures with you!

And that’s life in a nutshell … finding a way to simplify your life can be as easy as upgrading your camera.


CT: July 4th Weekend

6 Jul

PoppaNut and I love surprises, so when my sister-in-law’s birthday came up, we knew we had a chance to surprise the heck out of her. PoppaNut and I boarded a plane in Tampa and arrived late Thursday night in Connecticut. Stacy, my sister-in-law, had NO IDEA we were there. Her hubby Chris picked us up and snuck us into the house, where PoppaNut jumped on Stacy’s bed for the big surprise. The video of the surprise is classic!

The next few days were super fun and we stayed busy for most of it. Let’s see if I can remember all the great things we did. Friday led us to a country-breakfast diner, where we ate everything in sight! I had a cheese omelet and PoppaNut had the Tower of Power (cinnamon french toast) and an omelet too. After that, we headed to Six Flags. Kayla and Karissa went on every death-defying rollercoaster with us! In fact, they had to talk me on most of them. I don’t remember these rides being so scary!

That evening, I straightened the girls’ hair as they prepared for a boy/girl party. We ate AMAZING pizza, had a few drinks and hung out together. Casey and John came by as well, and it was great catching up with them. Saturday was a cookout day, so Stacy and I headed to the store to pick up some food. As Christopher yelled “Habba Babba” to everyone he saw, Stacy taught me how to pick out corn and we shared our favorite recipes. I drove the jumbo, car-designed cart and almost ran into every person I passed. 🙂 It was fun!

Chris made homemade salsa, and I swear I ate a pound of it! I don’t have the recipe, but maybe Chris will share it with me some day. We cooked out that night, and watched PoppaNut and Chris almost burn down the pool with out-of-control fireworks.

The next morning, we headed to Collins, a farm that serves homemade ice cream. You can watch the cows graze by the nearby corn fields as you scarf down your S’Mores ice-cream cone! Now, that’s living.

We had such a great time that it was very hard to leave. See the photos for yourself!

Kayla and Karissa


My Breakfast


Kayla at Six Flags


PoppaNut and Stacy

The Habba Babba King


And that’s life in a nutshell … spending time with your family is the best way to spend a holiday.


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