Friday, August 29, 2014

Literally, A Trip Down Memory Lane

Who's eager for the long weekend?! 5pm can't roll around soon enough. But at the same time, I need to keep reminding myself that I took a full week of vacation from work to join the Delinko's on our annual vacation to Martha's Vineyard. That last day of work always seems like a big ball of stress - trying to button up as much as I can while remembering that work will still be here when I get back.

Yesterday I read a post from newly-followed blog Simple Capacity, that inspired me to kind of just "let it go." That's what vacations are, right? To get away from your current reality, to try new things and see what life is all about. We get so caught up in the everyday - the get up, go to work, come home, cook dinner, watch TV, shower, sleep, repeat. Day in and day out. I am so excited for a week-long getaway to revisit a place that is so dear to me. The place where Jay and I got engaged back in 2012. And it will be our one-year anniversary when we return! I have a feeling this trip will be just as, and if not, more meaningful than ever.

Once we hit that ferry Sunday afternoon, I will let all my worries and anxiety drift away in the distance. This trip will not only put me on a metaphorical island, away from it all - Martha's Vineyard is literally an island. So I will definitely take advantage of the space between. Jay woke me up this morning and whispered (half in his sleep, with one eye open), " more day." One more day of work, and then we are smooth sailing!

I am going to try to document this trip as much as I can - I hope to relive the steps we took as we walked to the cliff overlooking the lighthouse where Jay proposed. I will make sure to divulge in all of the amazing food one can get near the ocean. Fresh-caught fish, lobster, the works! And let's not forget the fritters, which are about the size of two fists, but the bellyache will linger for days. That is OK in my book because they are the most incredible fritters I've ever had. Not like your old Dunkin Donuts fritter. This thing is sold like drugs out of the backdoor of a bakery. You can buy them late at night and wait in line for probably an hour. But it is so worth it!

 This may be a great opportunity to try out the whole photo diary that I see people doing on bloglovin. What's better than telling a story through pictures? And Martha's Vineyard will do itself justice.

Here are a few flashbacks of our last trip. Hope everyone has an amazing long weekend!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Perks of Work - Finding Love on the Job

New to the working world and eager to make an impact; Fresh out of college and excited to take on the world. I was young and pretty clueless when I started my first full-time job in New York City. Those few weeks in the beginning put me in a whirlwind of buses, bustling people, small offices, expensive lunches, and an even longer ride home. The commute from New Jersey into the City was almost as confusing as the passengers on board. Nobody wants to help you out and no one cares that you exist. You're lucky if you even get acknowledged with a quick glance or a nudge down the aisle. What was I getting myself into? I remember the feeling so clearly. A mixture of nerves and anxiety, but the good kind of anxious. When you don't really know what to expect but you know your life will never be the same. How will my first day go? Would I make friends? Would I even make it through Port Authority? Lucky for me, I had probably the best first day a young woman could have. And the best thing I got from it all was my husband.

Yes, this is the story of "Us." This is where it all began. I was fidgety as I sat at my new desk in an attempt to try and let it all sink in. And get passed that overwhelmed state where you get introduced to a million people but can only remember one or two names. Then, this confident (but not cocky) young man in slacks and a button down, with the sleeves rolled up his forearms, waltzed over to me and introduced himself as Jay. The usual small-talk came next, "Where you from?" and as I answered Parsippany, a smile came to his face. Something along the lines of "No way, I'm from West Orange," and as he finished his sentence I realized he only grew up maybe 10-15 miles down the road. A 20 minute drive on a bad day. I remember thinking what a coincidence it was that I trekked all the way into NYC and met someone that I could have passed driving down the highway hundreds of thousands of times. We realized we had a lot in common and the rest is history as our friendship evolved into a relationship.

Flash forward over four years later, and this man is my husband. And he's been my husband for almost a year! You must be thinking, get to the point already. I'm telling this story because I am a firm believer that it is possible to find love in the workplace. You are with these people more hours of the day than you are with your own family. Hell, I probably talk more to my boss more than I talk to my brother. You are bound to be around people that share your interests. Or even the same goals and aspirations. You have committed majority of your waking hours to a career that fulfills your monetary needs. It gives our lives purpose and drive. What's not to say your perfect match is a cube or two over?

I look at all the dating world has out there today, whether it is online, a bar, or even a quick stop at Starbucks. Why count out the place where you reside from 8-5? People used to snark, "I don't know how you guys work together. Didn't you get sick of each other?" My honest answer was always "no," which sounds crazy. But it worked for us. And I'm not saying that it will stand true for everyone. Jay and I were able to diverge ourselves in our jobs and keep professional. I wouldn't even see him for most of the day unless we made a point to have lunch together. It's actually one of the things I miss now because we recently went down our own paths at two different companies. Since moving back to New Jersey, Jay commutes into the City (oh how the tables have turned), and I drive myself to the other side of town. But at least I know I'm coming home to the same person that I met over four years ago on the first day of my very first job. 

This is us from the early days, one of the perks of being in NYC. Always had the chance to hit up a game after work. :)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Learning From a Little One - Becoming An Aunt

Whenever I declare that I'm not ready to have a baby, majority of the response I receive is, "You're never really ready. And then when it happens, it becomes second nature." If that is the case, I think Jay and I will take our time. In reality though, I think it is impossible to be prepared for any major life change, whether it's becoming a mom, or even becoming an aunt. I never knew what to expect when my first nephew came into the world eight months ago. It's hard to believe that so much has changed in under a year. How much one tiny human being has had such an impact on the person I am and who I eventually will become. All it took was one look, which eventually turned into a smile, and Judd Harrison had my heart.

I have to admit, when Judd was born I was deathly afraid to hold him. I hadn't been around babies since my brother (and I was only 5 at the time). The anxiety kicked in when it was my turn to hold him. But I knew all I needed to do was sit incredibly still and everything would be alright. Judd's calmness eased my fears as I held him in my arms (although I was awkward as hell). I remember he was sleeping for most of the visit, but for that one moment, he opened his eyes and looked at me as if he knew who I was. I knew my life was never going to be the same. At that moment, I decided I would be that role model for him as he gets older. I want to be there to support my brother and sister-in-laws whenever they need me. To stop by, babysit, or even just be there if they need a familiar adult face. It is so important to me that I be in his life and I wouldn't change it for the world. And I know when it is mine and Jay's turn, Judd will be the cousin that our child can look up to. And play with, and take family vacations down the shore. It is an unbreakable bond and it will be cherished forever.

Judd is special in so many ways, but one in particular that I adore is that he shares the same birthday as my dad. And Christmas Eve at that! There will be so many things to look forward to this winter. By that time, I have the feeling Judd will be walking. He's already crawling, but in a downward dog position on his feet! I've never seen anything quite like it. The kid is strong and boy, is he quick. I spent my Friday off last week with my sister-in-law Caryn and the Juddster. To my amazement, he was picking himself up on the safety gate all by himself! And not only standing, but bobbing up and down like he was dancing. If I didn't know better and met a baby like Judd on the street, I would think he's closer to ten months old. He is so smart and eager to observe the world around him. He even looks different each time I see him - I notice the smallest of changes, like more hair on his head and new facial expressions. It has been a journey to watch him grow and I don't even know what to expect in the next week, or the next month even. But I do know that I'm loving every minute of it.

Judd has also helped me realize that I will be a good mom someday. And although I may not think I'm ready for it, I could evolve into that maternal figure. For now, I can enjoy witnessing all of his defining moments. I can learn from Judd just like he can learn from me. Practice makes perfect, after all. And there is nothing better than learning from your own nephew.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Quick Re-Read: The Giver

Two book posts in a row? Is this girl nuts? It may seem slightly over-achieving, but not when I picked up Lois Lowry's The Giver for a second time. I got my hands on this small paperback in middle school and dreaded the read because its sole purpose was for summer curriculum. We were forced into this selection as we would field discussions and quizzes in class come September. But The Giver was different then as it is now. It was probably one of the first books I ever completed for school and actually enjoyed. To read in a second run was even better - I literally opened to the first page on Monday and finished last night.

Most of you I'm sure know that the movie came out on 8/15. I recently joined a book club and this was on our list. Eager to see if I would remember anything, I dove in quickly and was shocked that I had no true recollection of the plot. The story takes place in a utopian world where there is no pain, no feeling, no emotion. Lowry refers to this living state as Sameness. The communities are regulated by a council with organization so superior that it is the norm. The main character, Jonas, is about to learn his fate when his occupation is assigned to him as "the Receiver" during the ceremony of the Twelves (twelve-year-olds). I guess in this society, they believe you are an adult at the young age of twelve. Could you imagine what life would be like if your fate was handed to you at twelve? I couldn't even make a mature decision of my own at the age of 21, let alone 12! As the Receiver, Jonas bears the burden of taking in all memories of the past from the previous Receiver, now known as the Giver (how original). He witness the "before Sameness" when things were much different. The good memories and the bad. He discovers what life could really offer and questions the only state he has ever known.

Like I said when reviewing Gone Girl, I really don't want to give too much up. It would be silly to spoil such a quick and interesting read. I highly recommend this for anyone, even if reading isn't your thing. 180 pages goes really fast (not to mention the book is tiny in size). I am also interested to see how they spin this in the movie - like most movies they never compare to the actual novel. I mean, Taylor Swift is in the movie after all!

I do not regret my decision on re-reading The Giver. I am actually surprised that they chose this book for a 6th grade summer read, because it was graphic at times and explored topics that I probably wasn't ready to face as a young adult. It made much more sense reading now and I really hope the movie doesn't spoil the true message behind the tale.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book Review: Gone Girl

One of life's biggest challenges is finding extra time in each day. And once we realize we have a spare second to relax, how do we use that time? More recently than ever I've picked up reading again. When it becomes an elective pastime instead of school curriculum, we can find things that we enjoy and read for leisure. I tend to stray off the bandwagon until a novel has long fell off the radar from when it first came on the scene, and one I had been hearing a lot about Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl. The cover image is slightly intimidating with frail, red lettering and a black background. Was I setting myself up for trouble? Would this book be disturbing and keep me up at night? It was worth a shot to at least begin reading to see if it sparked any interest. And as the days went by and I got deeper and deeper, I couldn't stop. I was actually sad when I turned the last page, but looking back I am pleased that I spent that sought after extra time reading this tale.

I don't want to give too much away, especially to those who are considering to read Gone Girl. It is one of those stories where you bounce back and forth from side to side, hearing the tale from two narrators, who just happen to be husband and wife. It is easy to follow because each person alternates chapter by chapter. It begins with the love story of how the duo met in the Big City (NYC). Then, flashing forward to the hot, southern backdrop of the Mississippi, Amy Dunne goes missing on their fifth wedding anniversary. The reader is questioning "who done it?" over and over again. It is difficult to speculate even though we all have our theories; Was there a motive for Nick Dunne? Did he want to escape his marriage? Is it someone from Amy's past? You end up playing games in your mind like a game of chess, when really the easy answer isn't always the right and obvious one.

I was most impressed by the author, who gives all readers the capability to step into the mind (and shoes) of both Amy and Nick. The way their thoughts are articulated really put you in the brain of the character. I found myself struggling to choose between "Team Amy" and "Team Nick," but the manipulation of each chapter made me teeter on a balance beam. In a sick and twisted way, you felt like you knew them and justified their reasoning. You begin to understand their thought processes and anxiously await the answers. And when the reader hits that epiphany of what has happened, everything makes sense.

So if you are looking for a quick and exciting read for the end of the summer, please pick up Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl. I was so intrigued by the author that I have began to research more of her novels and cannot wait to see what else is in store.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Facing Our Faces

At what point in our lives do we face reality? I mean literally face it - that we are aging everyday. And although we may be one more day the wiser, what about our skin? Are we doing what we can to prolong the inevitable? That as we get older, so does our skin. And particularly the look and the feel. When is it okay to decide to take preventative measures and slow down the natural course of aging?

I have never been one of those people to use anything more than SPF 30. Hell, I'm lucky if I use 15. Like most of us, we enjoy building that summer glow as we bask in the sun and pray for a cloudless day. Even after my last annual trip to the dermatologist; I didn't need a little old (but adorably sincere) man stress the importance of wearing a tee shirt as I sit next to the pool. "You have an over abundance of beauty marks on your shoulders, arms, and chest. Make sure to use that SPF 50!" Okay doc, thank you so much (in my head I'm laughing and thinking yeah, right)! Aren't they called beauty marks for a reason?! Now I'm really starting to believe they are equivalent to the rings inside a tree trunk. Every ring equals another year of life. Maybe the more beauty marks we have, the more "wise" we are? However we try to spin it, we need to keep in mind that we're not suffering the consequences now, but we may in the future.

Getting back to my initial proposition: what is the right age to anti-age? The answer is really up to the individual. I'm not going to sit here and say that I regret slabbing baby oil on my body as my only means of protection as a teen. I may have waited until 27 to start taking new measures, particularly for my face, but here are some of the best products I've used (some of which I currently include in my daily regimen). It's true, the price of healthy skin can start to accumulate, but it may just save us the trouble later on. So I will do what I can with what money I have and hope that the future me will say thank you.

Facing Our Faces

1. Clean & Clear Dual Action Moisturizer - Around $7.00 a bottle, this lotion was my go-to for majority of my life. Oil-free is one of the key components I look for, not to mention it's acne fighting ingredients. However, as I've gotten older, I've realized I may not need to focus on acne and more about the preservation of my skin.

2. Hawaiian Tropic Face - This is a newbie that goes for $9.99 and has really made a splash this summer. I literally had to order from Amazon because I failed to find it in stock at several pharmacies. It's light-weight feel is perfect for summer and also protects your skin with SPF 30. And the smell is delicious! Whenever I know I'm going out into the sun for long periods of time, I use this as my moisturizer. 

3. Estee Lauder Collection - A line that has literally stood the test of time. I was introduced to Estee Lauder by one of their most loyal customers (and one of the most beautiful), my mom. Found in almost every department store, these lotions can run more expensive than the drugstore brands, but most people swear by the long term effects. 

4. Loreal Revitalift Double Lifting - I discovered this in CVS in the fall of last year, interested in the packaging and wondering if it works. For about $18, this lotion claims to firm and tighten the appearance of your skin using both a moisturizer and gel. I definitely can agree that it aids, however you seem to run out of the gel much faster than the moisturizer. I ended up only using this around my eyes after I apply my regular moisturizer in the morning. 

5. Algenist Firming & Lifting - This is definitely one of the most pricey products I've used, almost $100 a jar, but it lasts a long time and you don't need to use much. Since adding this to my morning and night routines, I've noticed my face looks firmer and less sunken in (as I've continued to drop lbs on Weight Watchers). I have oily skin and I really don't see this effecting breakouts. Also, most firming creams separate a morning cream and night cream which can tend to increase your cost so using this for both is beneficial. 

I'm curious to see what other suggestions you may have out there. In the end, I believe women should choose to prevent aging when they deem it necessary. There is no set age because we are all exposed to different amounts of sun, pollution, etc. I just happened to start over the past year and I'm already seeing the positives. Let's face it, it is OK to age, as long as we stay smart about it and true to ourselves. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Happy Half-a-Century Meredith (aka SolelyMer) !

When I was little, I couldn't stand the mini-me trailing behind me in every step I took. "Are you twins?" "You look like twins" "Really, you're not? Who's older?" The years would pass, and our nappy hair would continue to grow longer and knottier. Sure, we all had our tantrums as children growing up with sisters. Pulling hair, stealing each other's barbies (and popping off their heads), "borrowing" clothes (or wearing the same outfit on purpose). But as we got older, the age gap of two years seemed to close. This little sister of mine was no longer little - she had matured into the young woman that she is today. I have watched her grow from her ear-piercing screech to an eerily identical (and nasally) interpretation of Britney Spears. In all seriousness, Meredith is one of the most beautiful people I know inside and out and today is her birthday! Not just any ordinary birthday. SolelyMer is 25! A whopping quarter of a century. I know this sounds intimidating, especially to spring chickens such as herself, but she has no idea how her 25 years of life have impacted mine.

Firstly, I need to thank Meredith for massively improving my sense of style. It would probably be non-existent if she did not step in and demand that I stop wearing clothes that did not flatter my curvier figure. Before I would go out, I would seek her stamp of approval (which I almost never got on the first attempt). Let's just say some of us need more guidance than others! Meredith has always had that instinct of what works and what doesn't. Her eye for fashion and beauty was self-taught and is always evolving.

Second, and more importantly, she has ALWAYS been there for me. Even when I moved to Buffalo for 2 1/2 years, even when I was over 600 miles away, I knew I could count on her. I realized that relationships, even if you don't talk everyday, can still be just as strong and loving as any other. She is basically my twin, after all, so we must have that 6th sense. Whenever I need advice or a jolt back into reality (considering we all know how OCD I can be), or just a hug, I know I can count on Meredith. The past couple years have definitely had their ups and downs, a few tests of our own strength, and we have been able to stick together through it all.

She has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I've ever known, and I would do anything to make sure she is happy. I will be there for her in all of life's moments, as she was there to fluff my gown and hold my bouquet when I said "I do."

So Meredith, I hope you have a Happy Birthday and are enjoying the beach and sun in Wildwood today. Thank you for being the best sister and friend I could ever asked for. I am proud that we are family and today celebrates you and only you! Love you!

Here we are as kids, nappy hair and all :)

On my wedding day, how coincidental we are on the same sides <3

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Happy Birthday Rocksters!

Today my little man (and by little man I mean cat) turns 3! For my fellow cat lovers, or pet lovers in general, we know how important our fur babies are in our lives. I can't help that I am obsessed with his little face and whiskers. Rocky may only be three years old, but I have enjoyed every minute watching him grow from a time where he used to fit on top of the cable box without a foot or paw dangling over the side.

I may be a little bias, but Rocky is one good looking cat. Although Jay believes in his heart that Rocky is really a tiger - when we signed the lease to our apartment, we had to include the details of our pet (breed, color, etc). Jay jotted down without hesitation, "orange with black stripes." Now either Jay is colorblind, or he really believes that our feline friend is a tiger. Either way, Rocky has been the best addition to our family and one of the best things we took out of Buffalo.

So, Happy Birthday to my sweet little Rocky. Here's to three years of life and many, many more!

These are a few of my favs, from the first year we got him. :) Meow!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Are We Who We Say We Are?

Ahh, young love. We all remember what it's like when we first start dating someone. The constant butterflies, the need to be with that person at all times. And if we're not, we're either thinking about them, texting them, or calling. Getting to know someone is usually the best part - we find out things in common, favorite things, dislikes, phobias, habits. But are we really getting to know them?

I admit, when Jay and I first started dating, I wanted to seem a lot more interesting than I really am. I definitely was more laid back and "go with the flow." I was always up for new adventures and taking risks. Sneaking into the wrong (but closer) section to the field at the Yankees game. Walking into the VIP of just about any venue. On the outside I seemed cool and collected, on the inside I was paranoid as hell that we would get caught. But I did it anyway because I wanted to impress my man.

If Jay asked me tomorrow to sneak into anything, even a movie theater - I would deflect. And probably cause a scene if he tried to force me. He knows how I am now, and nothing inside of me has really changed. I'm just letting him see how I really feel. The real me. Without my hidden agenda of keeping the cool factor.

This exact thought really got me rationalizing - who are the people we fall in love with? Are are we ourselves but in a different form? My friend tells me, "It's like Chris Rock says - we begin by dating a representative of the person." And you know what? I actually agree. There is too much at risk in the beginning. You don't want to freak that person out because maybe you're a little OCD about locking the apartment door as soon as you get in the house. Maybe you like peeing with the bathroom door open, regardless of the time. Maybe you insist on checking to make sure the door is locked before going to bed. Even if you're husband says it's locked and assures you it IS locked. We don't show all of our habits because we don't want to scare men away. And if that's just us, do men do this too? I will more than likely ask my husband later today, but I can almost guarantee that they do..

I just want to note this disclaimer if my husband reads this - Jay - I am who I say I am. It's not that I've changed, I've just let you see every side of me. I'm sure there are things you kept from me in the beginning as well, and that is OK. We probably wouldn't be here, 4 years later (one of which being married, well, almost one year in September) if we didn't keep those little nuisances to ourselves. You first met me as a 22 year old girl, who is now a 27 year old woman. I've been through quite a bit in my life and I knew what I wanted. And that is you. So either you take this creepily or hopefully love me more. In the end, you have me, along with the good and the bad,  and most certainly the true me.

Here's a throwback (note the timestamp) of a time where I'm sure we cut a few lines to get into the bar at the W in Hoboken, NJ. ;)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Solo Week Recap

Well, I survived a full week without my husband. I have to admit, I thought I'd get more done. But the extra time really is insignificant - we find other things to do (or not do, like work out everyday for example), and that's just the way it is. Seven days flew by much faster than I could have ever imagined. And here I am again, lounging on the couch. Jay's feet are up on the ottoman and Rocky is perched in his kitty condo. Our normal Sunday evening is back in full effect.

I still need to hold myself accountable for the goals listed in the beginning of Jay's trip. Whether or not I accomplished them all is one thing, but I got close.

1. Write a new post everyday - I was able to hit 4 out of 5 weekdays. Tuesday was quite the struggle to motivate myself in just about anything, but I am extremely proud of the content and my stories shared. I love the whole experience of blogging - even just getting the words out is good enough therapy for me.
2. Workout everyday - 3 days of Physique 57 and 1 day of cardio. Again, Tuesday lagged success. 
3. Visit my family one or two nights - Check here 100%! Now, they are off to Wildwood for a week so we won't see them for a bit.
4. At least one dinner date with friends - Sunday night I met 3 friends for dinner at Cuban Pete's in Montclair, which if you are ever in that area, PLEASE go there for dinner. Best seafood paella I've ever had, and the atmosphere makes you feel like you're on at a local gem on a tropical island 
5. Cook something new - I made the frittata again, does that count? :)
6. Clean - If you count waiting  until the Saturday morning before Jay got back, mission accomplished. I did a major vacuum session as well as spruced up the place. He came home and noticed how clean it was, so I'll take it.

With Jay's return, I realized something about being on my own for an extended period of time - It's not that we, being solo, have more time to get things done. The amount of time doesn't change, the minutes of the day don't actually extend. We try to utilize them in a different way, but in the end, a week is only a week. And besides the increase of talking to myself out loud to kill the silence, I was still in the same habits and routine of a normal work week. Now I'm just happier to do them with my special someone :)

Friday, August 8, 2014

Getting Ready for the Vineyard - Loving LOFT

When most people think Ann Taylor, they think mature clothing for the middle-aged. However, LOFT has really earned itself the right (at least in  my book) to say that they have transformed their image to young, career-oriented yet fashionable women who also look for a great deal. 

Granted, I only tend to shop there when it's at least 40% discount or more, but right now they are having a 50% off sale and I couldn't help myself but to snatch up the below 5 items. All half off and perfect for my annual Delinko trip to Martha's Vineyard.

Martha's Vineyard

From left to right starting on the top:

Lou & Grey Tile Stitch Sweater - was $54.99, now $27.50
Cropped Linen Open Jacket - was $74.99, now $37.50
Eyelet Sleeve Cardigan - was $54.99, now $27.50
Beach Halter Dress - was $34.99, now $17.50
Spaghetti Strap Chambray Romper - was $54.99, now $27.50

My grand total came to $137.50, but low and behold I had a $20 gift certificate that I had earned from my LOFT card. $117.50 plus free shipping? Not too shabby.

Check it out for yourself, you won't be sorry :)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Ultimate Throwback Thursday

Thursdays are one of the best days of the week - we're so close to the weekend we can almost touch it. It's practically calling our names, "hurry up and get poolside already!" And since the Big Bang of Instagram, Throwback Thursdays have grown into our favorite past-time. Where scrolling most feeds will take us back down memory lane. Baby pictures, childhood memories, college dazes, and even snaps from a week ago can qualify. Throughout my posts this week, I have been attempting to drop hints that take me back to August 7, 2012. Hands down one of my most endearing Throwback Thursdays of all - the day I said "Shut the f*ck up" and got engaged.

Now I know it's startling that the words "engagement" and "f*ck" fall into the same sentence. Once you get to know me you'll see that I am extremely impatient and particularly cranky when I'm hungry. And it's our story and it's perfect in my eyes, swear words and all. The story begins on that August day..

Jay and I were taking our annual Delinko family vacation to Martha's Vineyard. Planning this year had been more challenging than most because we had to fly from Buffalo, to JFK, and finally to the vineyard. After a stressful morning of over-packing and making our way to the airport, we were en route to the beloved island. To my demise, we were delayed for four hours in JFK. We thought, "well, this is appropriate," considering we grew up so close to NYC. Yet, there wasn't enough time to go home to New Jersey - we had to accept we were stranded. Little did I know Jay had the ring burning a hole in his pocket.

After four grueling hours and playing a long, mean game of 500 Rummy, it was time to board the plane to our final destination. At this point, I was exhausted from the day's worth of travel and could not wait to get to the house, eat a nice home-cooked meal, and do absolutely nothing. At our arrival, Jay's parents were waiting at the gate. Thinking back, I remember feeling a strange sense of excitement, but was too focused on the growls coming from my stomach that I didn't truly notice in the moment. I can think back to standing in the kitchen of the house whining to Jay that all I wanted to do was relax and eat. He insisted we go into town (Edgartown) to do all of our gift-shopping for our families. He claimed he wanted to get it out of the way - as if we didn't have a whole week to do that! Everyone finally convinced me to go, but please note that I was not a happy camper. I couldn't comprehend why Jay needed to go as soon as we settled in, but I went with the flow and put up a stink.

I still can't believe I didn't even notice that we drove through the town and passed where we normally would park. The car slowly crept up a hill and we pulled over on a street overlooking the lighthouse. Jay was carrying this sketchy bookbag which irritated me even more. "Why are you carrying a bag like you're some sort of drug dealer?" Nothing made sense and now I was really starving. We walked up the hill and sat down at a bench. Still nothing clicked in my head. Jay started to seem a little nervous and out of his element, yet I was too busy cursing to really grasp what was happening. He pulled out a photo book and started to ramble that he made this for me, which encapsulated the last 2 1/2 years. He said how much he loved me and knew I was the one. We turned each page to see our life unfolding from year to year. The last page was of Rocky and our apartment in Buffalo where we had made a home. Then as he turned to the back, I noticed one extra page that merged into the cover. It was a picture of the lighthouse in front of us, with the words, "Melissa Solimine, will you marry me?" Even at this point I still could not understand what was happening. It remains a total blur - I was in such a state of shock that I had never experienced before. Jay was on his knee holding a beautiful, princess-cut ring towards me. My initial reaction (blame the shock), was "Shut the f*ck up! Shut the f*ck up!" My mind was racing. "Does my Dad know about this? Does my family know?" Poor Jay was still on his knee and laughing "yes, yes they all know." Turns out he asked my dad permission back on Father's Day and everyone kept it from me. I really had no idea it was coming. Still in awe, I put the ring on, gave him a hug and kiss, and turned around. Standing across the street with a video camera was my soon-to-be brother and sister-in law. It wasn't until they walked over and asked us how it went that the word "Yes" came out of my mouth.

I called my family and my best friend, and the whirlwind completely swept me off my feet. You never know how you truly will react until you're in that situation. When I tell this tale to friends, they often say "that sounds like a Melissa thing to say," because it really is. I don't have a filter and the shock took hold of my voice. I always knew Jay was the one and thank God he didn't run away after hearing me curse like a sailor. August 7th will forever hold a place in my heart. The day that began the rest of my life. And so I dedicate this Throwback Thursday to Jay because even though it's been two years, the memory will always be vivid in my mind and heart. Not to mention it's all on tape for our viewing pleasure (however, luckily it's far enough away that you can't hear my initial response).

Here's the actual book that Jay used in his proposal :)

And we lived happily ever after..

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Crazy Cat Lady and Proud

August is a particularly special month for me. Major life decisions were made over the last few years during this summer month, one of which was moving to Buffalo, NY. There was no turning back when Jay said his temporary goodbye on August 13, 2011. I assured him I would be there soon and our plan started to unfold. Little did we know that on this exact date, a little slice of sunshine was born and would soon change our lives forever.

Moving to a new city is never easy, especially when you know absolutely no one. Not a single soul. As I drove off on that cloudy day in November, I knew what I was leaving behind. Everything and everyone I'd ever known. Every speckle of a memory but yet I was trying to be as optimistic as I could. Hoping that I would make new friends and find a decent job after leaving my short-lived career in Manhattan. I was without work for four months and almost drove myself mad being by myself from 9-5. I remember talking out loud and alone as I watched CNN and tried to make the best of my days. It wasn't until I started working that I began to meet new people and life started to go back to normal. Jay and I could go out and experience all of the life that an old industrial city could offer us.

Almost five months had gone by and my birthday weekend approached. We ended up spending a night in Toronto, Canada with some friends and on the way home decided to get breakfast. Next to the restaurant on Elmwood Ave was an old store that sold pet supplies and had some cats in the window. I teased Jay, "Can we get a fish? I really want a fish." We walked in thinking we'd leave with a goldfish, but fell in love with an orange tabby. We learned from the cashier that this marmalade cat had been there almost a week and was moved from place to place in hopes of finding a home. Jay stuck his finger in the grid of the cage and the little cat started playing with his hand! Here I was nervously skeptical and reiterating, "I'm a dog person" and could barely hold the cat. All while Jay was ready to sign the adoption papers. I look back and thank him for that moment, because in the next couple days, we went back and took Rocky home. He has brought nothing but absolute joy into our life and I am forever grateful.

Rocky is no ordinary cat, we named him after the great Rocky Balboa since he impressed us with a mean hook and punch. He's not one of those 'fraidy-cats that runs and hides when people come over. He'd rather be in the center of the action, whether he watches over us from atop the cable box, or makes himself comfortable on a plush pillow. Being the "dog" people that we are, we taught Rocky how to sit and give his paw for a treat. And on top of it all, the cat doesn't meow. He says his own rendition of "hello." Rocky is always very playful and spends most of his day napping in his kitty condo next to the window (Jay actually built this wonderful contraption). He sits perched up, arm dangling over the side, and watches the birds fly by. What a life!

The best part about saving Rocky is knowing we are giving him a life of happiness. Sure, there are bumps in the road because he's been sick several times and more recently I've been medicating his swollen lip (and let me tell you it's not easy feeding a cat liquid-meds. I have been chasing him around the apartment the past couple days trying to feed him this crap). He really has no clue that his presence has also made me become a better person. A more responsible, patient, and maternal woman. If I'm this crazy about a cat, God only knows how I will be with a child. But at least now I know I can not only just take care of my husband, I can take care of a pet and maybe someday a baby.

Without further ado, here's my handsome little man, Rocky. Rocky - if you could only understand me when I say you have no idea how much I love you and how I would do anything to keep you safe.

I'm sure a lot of you are thinking I'm a crazy cat lady, and I confess I totally am. And damn proud.

This last picture is another hint to what else happened in August, 2012..

Monday, August 4, 2014

Do We Forget How to Fly Solo?

After living with someone and spending all of your personal time together, who actually likes to admit that they forget what it's like to be alone? That time that I used to crave growing up that I could never seem to get for more than five minutes. I shared a room for majority of my childhood and had roommates all throughout college so I was always used to being around others. My immediate family alone consists of the six of us, so there were lack of opportunities for solitary living. And as another seemingly short weekend passed and my husband left for a business trip, here I am now, by myself - and the last thing I want is to be on my own.

It's not that I am dependent on Jay, I have no problem taking out the trash or driving to pick up dinner. I can do the laundry and take care of our cat. But life definitely doesn't feel the same once you get so accustomed to someone always being there with you. 

It's only temporary, right? Monday rolls around and the work week goes on. Many people travel for business and Jay just so happens to travel often for his career. Part of me is envious because I too would like to just pick up and go. And it's comical because he on the other side wishes to be back in the familiar. I guess the grass is always greener.

I started out this post wanting to make it sound like a "what to do" for when you have extra time on your hands. But really I needed a vent-session, clear my head, and check back into reality. I will take this short-term situation and focus on things that I wouldn't normally get the chance to do. In all truth, I miss my companion, but there's no point to sit here and sulk about it. My emotions tend to get the best of me and I just need to shake out of this funk. 

Here are my goals for the week:
1. Write a new post everyday. I have ideas currently dormant that I could really get a head start on with more time.  
2. Workout everyday - I know I sound like a complete over-achiever, but I really don't have any excuses to get out of this one. Even if it's only for a half hour a day.
3. Visit my family one or two nights - It's nice going back and having a home-cooked meal by my lovely mom. And catching up on family time is always well spent as I miss seeing them.
4. At least one dinner date with friends - It's unfortunately true that you don't see your friends as often once you're married, so I can take this time to enjoy a little extra estrogen.
5. Cook something new - I was inspired to make a zucchini and tomato frittata over the weekend, so why not try another new recipe?
6. Clean - One word with many caveats. Usually all I want to do at the end of a work day is relax, but I should really spend some time reorganizing my bathroom cabinet or closet.

Is six goals enough? Probably more than I can handle, but who will oppose ambition? Next thing you know my husband will be back and I will be wishing I had used this time more wisely. So on that note, Happy Monday everyone, I'm going to get my ass moving. 

Here's a throwback of Jay when we were stuck in the airport around this time of year. He has always been more of a jet-setter whether it is for work or pleasure. This photo is also a little segue to an event that took place in our life on 8/7/12 - details to follow this week..

Friday, August 1, 2014

Ain't Nothin But a "Tea" Thing

After growing up with tea-time after dinner (how extremely worldly of my American family), I have found myself constantly on a quest for the best brews. Knowing all of the health benefits of tea, why not continue to look for new flavors and types? They say three cups of green tea per day alone can help you lost 3-7 lbs of belly fat a year! Who would deny that kind of help from our leafy friends? My coworkers can even contest that my top drawer is dedicated solely to a hefty tea-stash, and below I have listed some of my favorites.

1. Pukka Detox - Pukka is a relatively newer brand that one of my friends in Buffalo, NY told me about. She raved about Detox and the weight-loss benefits that this blend of aniseed, fennel, and licorice can have on the body. It is supposed to assist in digestive functions and help get you "back on track." While the detox concept still continues to be a craze, drinking Pukka could be a healthier, more natural alternative. My only clause is if you don't like the taste of fennel/licorice, this tea may not be for you.

2. Pukka Cleanse - This is a darker blend from Pukka, with a hint of fennel, nettle, and aloe vera. It is easier to get down if you are not a fan of the fennel. Cleanse does exactly what it's named after, to nourish and clear up your skin. There is also a hint of peppermint and dandelion root for digestion. When I drink this on a daily basis, I notice my face looks brighter and with less blemishes and bumps.

3. Kirkland Signature Green - My go-to when all else fails. It is no news that green tea is one of the best out there in benefits and long-term effects. Not to mention the flavor is light and fresh. I love this green tea because it literally stays green in your mug and it tastes so pure and nutritious. It's perfect by itself, but you could always add a little honey to sweeten it up. Kirkland is Costco's brand, but like everything else, you can get it on Amazon.

4. Vintage Oolong - Although its name can sound intimidating, do not fear this tea. It's a hybrid between green and black, so you get the benefits of green with the caffeine kick of black. Perfect for a morning start when you'd rather steer clear of coffee. I found this one on Amazon, but I'm sure other brands make it too.
5. Tazo Zen - I found this gem on the Keurig website (also made in teabag form), and needless to say I can't keep the box for longer than a month. I swear the flavor is addictive. The combination of green, lemongrass, and peppermint makes the taste so smooth and the scent is delightful. No wonder why they call it Zen, I find myself at peace and enjoying every sip.

5. Twinings Pure Peppermint - When I used to think peppermint, I thought Christmas time, candy canes, and stomach aches. Although peppermint can definitely help with an upset stomach, it also can also be a treat. The scent alone can be refreshing and calming after a long day at work. I tend to drink this one after dinner, maybe with a little dessert.

After writing this post, I realized I tend to trend with certain plants and flavors. Anything with fennel, mint, and green usually works for me. Sometimes the fruity ones give me headaches so I avoid the over-potency. If anyone has any suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment! It ain't nothin' but a "tea" thing. :)

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