Archive | Gifts RSS feed for this section

Follow Your Passion: Meet Chelsea McMillan, founder of Sunshine State apparel line

4 Aug

It’s funny how life works. You ask for signs to make sure you are headed down the right path, that you are making the right decisions in your life, and most of the time, if you’re paying attention, you’ll find those signs. A few months back, I was looking for signs around career, and my path crossed with Chelsea McMillan. I was so inspired by her story that I wanted to share it with you all as well. Chelsea’s resume reads like a fairytale … at least this writer’s career fairytale. She is a former producer for O-P-R-A-H (the one, the only, all-powerful Oprah; I hear music when I say that name out loud), and worked on various projects for Pinterest in Los Angeles, but Chelsea was still hungry for something more. She wanted to do something she was passionate about that she could make a living at as well. She pushed herself, searching for answers.

“On Pinterest, you pin what you love, and so I started looking at my pins and I saw the ocean, the beach, beautiful waves,” Chelsea, born and raised in Clearwater Beach, says. And with that, the idea of starting her own Florida-inspired clothing line was born. Let me introduce you to Sunshine State, a line of apparel and home goods with beautiful Floridian designs and fashions at affordable prices.

Chelsea herself has designed a few styles, but she also has Florida artists contribute their work to the bunch to really bring a unique quality to her line. And she takes it one step further: Her mission is to spread the sunshine philosophy while preserving what we all love most about the lucky Florida lifestyle. She supports wildlife conservation efforts in Florida and donates a part of her proceeds to the to help #KeepFloridaWild.

“I realized there was a need for a modern apparel brand that represents the way I feel about my home state,” Chelsea says. Chelsea’s line is available in several Tampa Bay shops as well as her website. I’m in love with the cork-billed hats and the wine glasses, but I’d rock literally everything on the site.

Anyway, meeting Chelsea when I did reminded me that it is okay to take a chance on a new career path, and I decided to do just that. It is okay to be happy at what you are doing for a living but still seek out more. And it’s okay to not have every little bit figured out except for your faith in the future. And that’s life in a nutshell.

Check out the full line at


Magic Hands: My first massage at Fitness360 WestChase

6 Feb

olga_back2“So let me get this straight … ” I said on the phone with my locally owned gym. Fitness360 WestChase, a full fitness gym with beautiful rooms for group fitness, a separate personal-training consultation area and so much more, recently opened off W. Hillsborough Ave., and their manager was calling to ask me to try their new massage amenity.

Now, I still had to pay for the massage, but they know I have a big mouth and will tell everyone I know about it IF I like it, so they wanted me to come check it out exclusively first.

“So let me get this straight …” I said, as my brain danced in delight. “You want me to come to MY gym, right down the road, and get a massage while my three-year-old toddler is in kids care?” A massage with FREE daycare provided? This can’t be real. BUT IT IS!

I headed into the gym just before my 5:30 appointment, and Olga greeted me warmly. She explained the 30-minute Swedish massage, mainly focused on my neck, shoulders and back. “YES!” I screamed in my head. “My mommy knots can try to hide but I have a feeling Olga will find them.” (Mommy knots are those sore back muscles from lugging around your child, their gear, your gear and more, all while balancing a coffee between two fingers in utter desperation. It’s your badge of honor as a mom, but it leaves you walking around like Frankenstein most days.)

The massage room, lined with black curtains and rich with soft lavender scents, instantly relaxed my strained eyes and tense shoulders. I slipped under the sheet, and Olga began loosening up my back while I let my mind drift off to the room’s soothing music. Those 30 minutes flew by as I traced Olga’s warm hands in relaxation. Here’s what I learned:

  • This massage did more for me in five minutes than most massages do in 1 hour!
  • Olga did indeed find those knots and she made them her ____ (I’m trying to keep this post clean).
  • I now have a nickname for Olga: The Knot Destroyer!
  • I have the best gym ever with tons of amenities — now including massage — and FREE daycare during staffed hours.

Five stars and two-thumbs up don’t even come close to how thrilled I was with this service. This is a must-try! And that’s life in a nutshell.


It’s a Great Pumpkin: Organizing a Charlie Brown Birthday Party

25 Nov

I love a theme! Once you finalize any party theme, you can just let your imagination run wild. And that’s exactly what happened as PoppaNut and I planned Reece’s very first birthday!

Plus, this party was not only a celebration of Reece turning one. It was a celebration for us as parents. WE MADE IT THROUGH THE FIRST YEAR WITHOUT KILLING EACH OTHER OR KILLING REECE! In fact, we are thriving as a family and getting cozy in our new status of three.

So, with our theme decided — It’s a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown — it was time to get planning.

Invitations and Signage: Our friend owns Black Tie Creative, and he’s been gracious enough to design our wedding invitations, Reece’s birth announcements and various other odds and ends. So, he was the perfect man to bring our Charlie Brown theme to life. He created the invites, birthday signs, food signs and more.

Cake: His equally talented wife designed and baked a matching cake! And we ate every last bite. Plus, we had a cheap Publix smash cake made in the shape of a pumpkin just for Reece to destroy.

Decor: The Charlie Brown decorations online looked girly to me, so I bought several orange and yellow banners and plastic tablecloths. Then, I simply used a black marker to draw Charlie Brown’s zigzag along the bottom. Boom! We also added some cozy elements to bring in more of the fall theme like hay stacks.

Entertainment: This was the first time our house was seeing so many children, so it was important to have lots of fun activities. We hired a face painter and put up a bounce house. I also put together a pumpkin-decorating station (fake pumpkins, washable markers, Snoopy stickers). We also had the “It’s a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” movie playing on the TV, and cornhole boards out for the adults.

Gift Bags: I got yellow gift bags and used a black marker to add Charlie Brown’s zigzag to them. I filled the inside with Halloween treats, noise makers, rings and stickers. Then, I printed off a Charlie Brown coloring sheet (there’s a ton online), rolled it up and secured with a decorative ribbon.

Details: Then, we added in some final details. I placed a Snoopy stuffed animal in the cake chair, and we put a basket of blankets — courtesy of Linus — nearby.

We asked everyone to wear costumes, which really added to the fun! Reece wore a Charlie Brown onesie … and he loved every minute of it. Thank you to everyone who joined in on the fun! It feels so wonderful to be surrounded with so many family and friends to celebrate! And that’s life in a nutshell.


Knowing Your Roots: A Grandfather’s Gift

27 Jun

So, my blog is not like everyone else’s blog. Yes, I like to talk about fashion, recipes, home renovations, my puppy dogs and more. But I also like to talk about my roots, my values, my love and my heart. And this posting is very dear to my heart because it is years in the making.

When I was a little girl, I used to spend at least a weekend every month at my grandparents’ home. It would be a long drive down an old, stinky country road, followed by hours spent with my cousins playing games and climbing trees. At night, we would gather in the living room to watch “Golden Girls” and “Empty Nest” while we patiently waited for my grandpa’s famous homemade chocolate milkshakes to be ready.

My grandparents used to take us all camping quite a bit during the summer, and we all loved it. My cousin Ashley and I even competed in a dance recital at Twin Mills one year, and I’m sure my grandparents still have a video of that somewhere. I spent so many warm summer nights on my old bicycle, riding around the campground having so much fun with my sister, brother and cousins.

Enter Grandpa into the story. My grandfather is a strong, quiet man. A veteran of the Korean war, my grandfather is not the type that will talk your ear off. You’ll only hear his gentle voice when he has something important to say or if he wants to get your attention. My grandfather has always showed he loved me by with a simple gesture … an arm around my shoulder, a kiss on my forehead, a high five and a delicious homemade milkshake.

Fast forward several years later … PoppaNut and I told my grandparents that we were about to purchase a home, and they mentioned that old bicycle again. It wasn’t in the best condition and it had been painted green, but I could have it if I wanted. Me being in love with all things vintage, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on that bike.

But with any home closing, your mind is so overwhelmed with the insurance estimates, closing fees, realtor drama and more that you forget all about what you’ll fill your house with and instead, focus on the list of things you must do today to actually get the house. So the bike discussion completely flew out of my mind, and I focused on the closing.

Just two months after the closing, I received a text from my grandpa with a photo. No words, but just one picture of a vintage yellow bike that looked a whole lot like that one I had as a child. And it turns out, it was. My grandfather had completely taken apart my bike, restoring each piece and renovating it to its former glory. And in that one text, I was 10 years old again with my grandfather handing me my homemade shake. I didn’t need the words to know what he was saying. To anyone else, you would have just seen a yellow bike. But to me, that text said “I love you and I’m proud of you” in the same way my grandpa would convey his love when he made me one of those famous milkshakes.

I’m so honored that my grandfather spent time restoring my old bike. And I’m be thrilled to have it at my home as a reminder of the kind of childhood I had, the value of my Indiana upbringing and the importance of beautiful gestures my grandfather has always shown me.


Making a New Friend: Siri from the iPhone 4S

2 Mar

Unless you are living under a rock somewhere (and if you are, you wouldn’t be reading this blog anyway), you must have heard about Apple’s new iPhone 4S featuring Siri. Just in case you never turn on the TV or browse the internet, I’ll give you a brief overview.

Siri is basically a personal assistant that lives in your iPhone. You think I’m joking, but essentially, that is how she works. You ask her a series of questions, and she talks back like she is a living, breathing person. WEIRD, I know.

Some things you can ask her are “What is my name?” or “Where is the closest Walmart?” and she will find the answer for you. She can write text messages for you, start the right playlist, sent a reminder for a task you have coming up and so much more. Really, the possibilities are endless!

Siri not only understands what you say, it’s smart enough to know what you mean. So when you ask “Any good burger joints around here?” Siri will reply “I found a number of burger restaurants near you.” Then you can say “Hmm. How about tacos?” Siri remembers that you just asked about restaurants, so it will look for Mexican restaurants in the neighborhood. And Siri is proactive, so it will question you until it finds what you’re looking for.

But what I think is most funny about it is watching other people talk to Siri. For instance, I was watching PoppaNut play with his new phone, and it was simply hysterical. He had Siri running around like a busy bee, answering all his requests. Plus, he makes his Siri call him “Italian Stallion” at all times.

I find myself actually saying “thank you” to her when she solves one of my problems. Last time I thanked her politely for helping me, she said, “Your satisfaction is thanks enough.” She was having a hard time understanding me yesterday, so I asked her if I had an accent. Siri said, “It doesn’t really matter what I think.”

So, Siri can pick up my midwestern tone, I guess. She is also a bit sassy herself, a trait I love in my new personal assistant. PoppaNut asked Siri what she was wearing and she responded back, “I think you have the wrong kind of personal assistant.”

And that’s life in a nutshell … that silly Siri is quiet clever. I think it might be love!


A Unique Present: Handmade Yankees Quilt

17 Feb

Quilts are part of my family’s DNA. My Grandma Tam made the most beautiful quilts in the whole world, and I have two that I get to call my own. When my grandma passed away, she left behind several unfinished quilts, and I can’t wait to have them finished so I have more to enjoy.

My Grandma Densmore also makes amazing quilts, and I use several of the ones she made me every week. I have one made of my cheerleading T-shirts from Penn High School and other that represents my time at Indiana University. I also have a flowery quilt, a design that both myself and my cousin Ashley have.

There is just nothing like snuggling with a quilt on the couch. So, when I was on Pinterest a few month back and ran across this profile, I was immediate struck by the Yankees quilt. I commented on the image of the quilt and Jill Motsinger at wrote me right back. She makes custom sports-themed quilts for people, and she was happy to make one for me.

Well, instantly I thought this would be a great idea for PoppaNut. First of all, he is obsessed with the Yankees, and this would let him have a quilt just for him. It could be something I give him that would be with us the rest of our lives. I immediately wrote back to Jill, and she got to work.

The amazing thing about Jill is that she emailed me photos and communicated with me about the quilt all along the way. She sent updates after she got the fabric and as she put the blocks together. It only took her about a month and a half to complete everything.


When the completed quilt arrived at the house, I was bursting with excitement. I placed it inside PoppaNut’s Valentine’s gift bag and waiting for the big surprise. When he opened it up, he was shocked. He absolutely loved it, and wanted to use it right away. He even said that it will be something we keep in our family for the rest of our lives. Jill, thank you for making something so special for our family.

And that’s life in a nutshell … finding the perfect gift can be as easy as looking around Pinterest!


What a Woman Wants: Learning the Code Behind What a Woman Says Before Valentine’s Day

13 Feb

I’m a pretty direct woman. I pretty much say how I feel when I feel it. I try not to use code language when talking to anyone, but I must say, I sometimes fall victim to the passive-aggressive conversation that everyone hates. In an effort to keep all men out of the dog house this Valentine’s Day, I’m sharing this email I received from my Uncle Greg. Please share with others so we can save all the men on Valentine’s Day and the rest of the year.

(1) Fine: This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.

(2) Five Minutes: If she is getting dressed, this means half an hour. Five minutes is only five minutes if you have just been given five more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.

(3) Nothing: This is the calm before the storm. This means something, and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with “nothing” usually end in “fine.”

(4) Go Ahead: This is a dare, not permission. Don’t do it!

(5) Loud Sigh: This is actually a word, but is a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A loud sigh means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing about nothing. (Refer back to #3 for the meaning of “nothing.”)

(6) That’s Okay: This is one of the most dangerous statements a woman can make to a man. “That’s okay” means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how you will pay for your mistake.

(7) Thanks: A woman is thanking you; do not question or faint. Just say you’re welcome. (I want to add in a clause here: This is true, unless she says “Thanks a lot,” which means that is PURE sarcasm and she is not thanking you at all.  DO NOT say “you’re welcome” as that will bring on a “whatever.”)

(8) Whatever: Is a woman’s way of saying …Go to Hell!

(9) Don’t worry about it, I got it: Another dangerous statement meaning this is something that a woman has told a man to do several times, but is now doing it herself. This will later result in a man asking “What’s wrong?” For the woman’s response, refer to # 3.

And that’s life in a nutshell. I can also tell you that just by saying “Yes, dear” to anything your wife says keeps you from hearing any of these responses above. Just sayin’. J


A Vintage Feel: Incorporating Old Home-Decor Items into a Modern Home

16 Jan

I’m obsessed with vintage items. Whether it be for my home or my wardrobe, finding just the right vintage piece makes me smile from ear to ear. And while I like to call those items “vintage,” they are really just plain old, but with a ton of character.

I like to think about who owned them before me, and what story they have behind them. For example, I have a very old teapot in my home. It doesn’t look like much but it has quite a story behind it. From what my parents told me, my grandfather bought the teapot for my grandmother as a wedding gift when they said “I do.” My mom hung on to it for years after my grandmother passed away, and when I got my first apartment in Florida, that was the first family heirloom I received.

I think that is the first time I started to love old pieces. There is just something about an item with history that adds such character to a modern home. And right now, I’m on the hunt for a few more things to add to my home decor.

The first is a steamer trunk. When I mentioned this to PoppaNut, I think he thought I was crazy. What in the world would I do with a steamer trunk? Well, I think it would be the perfect spot to put my family quilts in … and we have the perfect little nook in our master bedroom that is dying for a bit of character. So, I’m going to continue looking for that perfect one on eBay.

The next thing on my wish list is a vintage wire mannequin. There really isn’t a place for it in my house at the moment, but I think it would be awesome if and when I get an office at work. I just love the romantic feel it gives off, and I would have so much fun dressing it up from time to time.

The last item that I’m after is a vintage typewriter. Since writing has always been a passion of mine, I’m just dying for one of these. My friend Erika has one in her house, and I just gushed over it when I saw it. I would put this above the cabinets in my kitchen if it arrived at my house today. I also received a special bracelet years ago from my very first editor, Denise Gee, that was made from the keys of an old typewriter. It was such a fond gift to receive from my mentor that I always think of her when I see an old typewriter too.

And that’s life in a nutshell … finding the perfect old items to add to your home décor can add character and a sense of nostalgia. What old items are you dying to add to your home?


On the Hunt: Finding One Vintage Milk Bottle

12 Jan

I’m always game for a good hunt. Give me a challenge, and I’m all over it. It’s a gene that runs through the Densmore family for sure. My mom can walk into Dillard’s and find the most amazing items on the sales racks. She will pull out one gem after another, when most people only find junk.

And my Aunt Debbie takes hunting to a whole new level. I can literally give her two words, like “blue vase,” and she can run down a list of places that have the perfect item for my home. I’m constantly amazed at Debbie’s unique finds (and don’t get me started on her art of return … which is another post for sure!).

Now, those are just two examples, but my Aunt Sherry, cousin Ashley and sister Stephanie also have this hunting gene. Us gals can find just about anything you are looking for. And that’s why I’m having such a hard time admitting our first hunting flop, and it starts with a vintage milk bottle.

During the holidays, my mom mentioned that my grandmother was looking for a vintage milk bottle from Greenville Diary from Greenville, IL. It seems that my great grandfather worked at the dairy, and my grandma has been searching for a bottle for years. Her and her sister have even ventured back to Greenville, IL to look for a bottle at antique shops with no luck.

This is my grandma who on the hunt for the bottle!

So, with that conversation, I put the wheels in motion. I signed up for alerts on eBay for “Greenville Dairy.” I started searching the web looking for anything about Greenville, but you would not believe how many cities there are named “Greenville.” There is one in Ohio, one in the Carolinas, another in Maine and so on. Well, I’m looking just for the one from Illinois, so the search continued.

Some of the bottles I found on eBay, but none from IL.

I started calling antique shops, and I thought I may have tracked one down. Unfortunately, a dairy farmer I was referred to has been looking for the same bottle for years, too! Dang it … another dead end! So, the search continues and now I’m taking it to the blogosphere.

Who can help me find this bottle?? Please forward this post on to anyone and everyone you think might be able to help me track it down. I’ll offer a $50 reward for anyone who gets me to the bottle I’m looking for.

And that’s life in a nutshell … I’m on the hunt and I need my awesome blog followers to help me discover this bottle. Happy Hunting!


Silent Night: Putting the Holidays to Bed

29 Dec

With Santa back at the North Pole, starting to make presents for next year, I’m left with fake snow, bits of wrapping paper and old cookies at my home. Every year, I look forward to the holidays, and they are over just as fast as they began. Where did November and December go? For those of you who read my blog often, you are probably wondering what the heck I did over the holiday. Well, let’s count it down through photos, shall we?

I did a ton of baking! Find the recipe on my Dec. 27 post!

We headed to Port Charlotte ... and yes, this was the beautiful Christmas tree that greeted us!


PoppaNut and I got to spend time with my sister and her family. Quinn really warmed up to me this time.


My brother sent this "dancing boob" toy to my dad for Christmas. I love my family! We laughed at this for hours.


My dad and PoppaNut made one delicious breakfast for all of us.


The Charlie Brown Christmas tree got a makeover.


Me and PoppaNut loved our Port Charlotte visit!


Trevor, Kenzie, PoppaNut and Mason had a fun time playing together.


JR literally cheered for every gift he got!


Grandma and Quinn even spent some time together. It was wonderful to see my grandparents!

I LOVED that my mom got presents for Peanut and Cashew!Next, we headed to Safety Harbor for our annual Christmas Eve celebration. Here is PoppaNut with Halie.


Josh, Jordan and Halie had fun all dressed up for the holidays.


Me and PoppaNut had a good time!


Josh loved his girlie calendar ... thanks to PoppaNut

There were so many presents to open.Mia and Grandpa had fun too!


Peanut and Cashew loved their new bed from Santa.PoppaNut and I were up at 6:30 a.m. opening gifts we were so excited.


I cried when I opened by dad's guitar and saw that PoppaNut had it cleaned up, re-strung and a gift card to have guitar lessons!And what cowgirl can be without the proper footwear???


This is when PoppaNut learned he will be having breakfast with a Yankees player on March 25!

After playing with new toys all day, we cleaned ourselves up and made dinner! It was the perfect ending to Christmas.

And that’s life in a nutshell … remember to enjoy every moment of the holidays. They just go by so fast, you don’t want to miss anything! Keep that in mind when the ball drops this Saturday night!

Tags: , ,

← Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: