21 December 2011

Ladybug the Westie

Today I'd like to introduce you to Lady, the love of our lives. I've posted photos here and there, but I don't' think I've ever explained how in love I am with our little Bug.

Once upon a time, when I was 10 years old, my family got our first dog— a West Highland White Terrier, or "Westie." We named her Jessie, which my Mom, Dad, brother Sean and I chose from a baby name book. Westies hail from Scotland, and according to the baby name book, Jessie is the Scottish form of Janet. As Jessie got older, my family got another Westie, Jodie. We wanted two "J" names, so Jodie just came to be.

So you know what happened next... I grew up, went to college, moved out, got married... and always always always wanted a Westie of my own. Thank goodness I have the greatest husband ever, because when I found the ad in the Sunday paper last March that said Westie puppies were for sale, he was all for it!

When we first moved to Virginia, I had wanted a Westie but they were much too pricey. On a whim, we bought a little ChiPin (Chihuahua Miniature Pinscher mix) at a local pet shop. We called her Gypsy, which somewhat influenced what we named our next addition, Lady. Unfortunately, both puppies together were too much. Gypsy was a hyper little thing and our third-story apartment just didn't give her the space & exercise she needed. Gypsy has since been re-homed to a family friend, and she is now in better hands. So now, it's just us and Lady.

Lady after getting groomed — Looking pretty by the Christmas tree
Just the other day — In her Thanksgiving sweater
Passed out after an eventful Thanksgiving — Lounging with Jodie
Sporting a cute scarf — Sleepy on the cool tile

Lady is a puppy of many nicknames. Some of our favorites are Ladybug, Bug, Bug-a-boo, Baby Bug, and Lady Luck. But most often, she's Ladybug. She can be quite the bug, but in the most affectionate way. Husband calls her my shadow... she follows me everywhere. She loves her toys, and she loves to play fetch. 

Sometimes, after we've cleaned house and put all her toys in her little toy bin, she will go into it, take every single toy out, and lay them all over the family room floor. She's a silly pup. And yes, she likes the clothes I put her in. She gets all excited when I get them out— ears back, tail wagging, jumping at my legs. So there, anti-dog-clothes friends. ;-)

See how cute she was as a baby? How could anyone resist this?

First day home — Playing with a toy bigger than her head
Sleeping with her puppy paws in the air — Another fave toy
Cute & cuddly — Chilling out on the couch
Trip to Petsmart — All decked out for 4th of July

As you can tell, I'm a little obsessed. I do worry a little about how obsessed I'll be with our future babies. As in, non-fur children. Probably a lot— I mean, I bought Lady an outfit for every holiday this year, and her stocking is more full than Husband's and mine. Hehe. 

Since I got my dream dog, the next choice is Joshua's. Although with the pup he wants, I've made it clear that we have to wait until we have a house, a big yard, and a child at least 6 years old to help with the puppy chores. His dream dog? A Doberman Pinscher.

And wouldn't you know it? The breeder we got Lady from breeds two types of dogs— Wesites... and Dobermans!

19 December 2011

December Currents

Current song: "Ours" by Taylor Swift. Milspouse friends... watch 'til the end, such a sweet surprise!

Current movie: White Christmas. It's our first Ploscik family tradition. Our first Christmas together when Joshua wasn't deployed, we spent with some of his family in Florida. His Aunt Becky loves the movie White Christmas, and watches it daily throughout December. We all watched it together in Florida... Joshua and me, his Aunt Becky & Uncle Jeff, and his grandparents. Since then... we watch it once every Christmas.

Also... It's a Wonderful Life. This is my Dad's favorite Christmas movie and thus, a Hulse family tradition to watch each December. The older I get, the more I fall in love with it. I always used to wonder why my Dad got teary-eyed when he watched it... and now I understand. I practically cried through the entire film this season! "Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings."

Current blog: Confessions of a 20 Something by the lovely Allison, a.k.a. Pink Lou Lou. Love her style, her photos, her videos, and her sweet sassy attitude. Definitely a favorite of mine to read! Oh, and she's also a graphic designer. Love.

Current hair: When I was home in New York visiting my family for Thanksgiving, my awesome hair stylist cousin Amanda gave me this rockin' color. I went platinum all over with some brownish lowlights in the front, with heavy side-sweep bangs. I've been wearing my hair like this every day since. 

Current color: Red. My favoritest color ever.

Current website: Amazon.com, where I made my Christmas list. Yay!

Current iPhone app: Instagram. Can you say obsessed?

Current book: Still getting through Happily Ever After by Nora Roberts, and sporadically reading Maria Menounas' EveryGirl's Guide to Life. Hers in my fave of the two... Nora's was better on tape, as I read the first three of the Bride Quartet series. Hoping to find time to finish these over Christmas vacation!

Happy Ever After Everygirl's Guide To Life

Current nail polish: I change my polish a lot, and I'm about to repaint a sparkly red Christmas color... but for now, it's OPI Cajun Shrimp:

Current photo: My handsome Husband cooking breakfast for us one morning. I swear, I woke up and he was downstairs, scrambling eggs, playing Christmas music. I fall more in love with him every day.

Current quote: 

Current food: Summer salads in the winter. Nom nom nom.

Current blessing: My wonderfully amazing family, both the one I was born into and the one I'm creating with Joshua and Lady.

Current scent: Mmm, my Scentsy candles are burning Festival of Trees. Love evergreens & fir! Reminds me of home.

Current Pin: Santa strawberries. OMG.

Source: imgfave.com via Dani on Pinterest

Current guilty pleasure: 'NSync's Christmas album. Duh!

Current laugh: The ridiculousness that is Photo Booth on iMac. We laughed for hours at the photos we took. Please take a moment to enjoy the Plosciks as aliens...

Current drink: Monster Rehab. Which Husband encouraged me to take to work on a particularly sleepy day. Mmm. Lemonade energy.

Current excitement: Christmas is coming! Christmas is coming! We're going to Cleveland to spend the holiday with Husband's family, and when we come back to Virginia my Mom is coming to visit from New York for a few days! Yes yes yes!

Current Ladybug: Our baby is all dressed up & ready for her Christmas stocking, which is full of puppy goodies. Isn't she the sweetest?

13 December 2011

Mil Life Lately

I feel like getting used to military life is a constant progression. Some things in this "world" are just so different than the civilian world. From the people to the lifestyle to the day's activities in and out... it's just it's own little culture. 

And I love it. 

My lover & I recently moved into base housing. It's something we've wanted to do for awhile, but there is always a long wait list to get in. We've heard all sorts of extremes about living on base— that it's terrible and restricting, or that it's wonderful and inexpensive, or that it's just plain dirty, or that it's simply a great way to save money as a military family.

Taking all this into consideration, we decided to "give it a try" since we don't have kids yet & the housing here at Quantico just looked really nice. We figured if we didn't like it, no harm no foul. Lucky for us, it's working out well!

In terms of saving money, I'll be honest... it's only a hundred or so a month we're saving. We lived in a nicer place out in town though, so maybe that's why the difference is so little. It only took a few months for housing to open up for us (your name gets put on a list with the military and it's either first-come, first-serve or based on your rank & family status). Then they just take the money they were giving you for housing out in town right out of your paycheck each pay period. The best part? All utilities are included. We only have to pay for internet & cable out of pocket. :-)

The first photo above is on our front steps of Joshua & my mom when she came to visit. We moved into our house in October and didn't waste any time getting pumpkins and an American flag to liven it up a bit! The other photos are a few details of the rest of our house. Don't mind the crazy blinds in the one pic... that's when the previous family lived here and we did a drive-by and snapped a photo!

Another significant event was Joshua's promotion to Sergeant! He's worked really hard for this promotion and I was a very proud, happy wife to be able to go to his ceremony and watch him get pinned. Such a cool experience!

The ceremony took place early in the morning (before I had to go into work, luckily!) and 3 other Marines were also promoted. Doesn't he look so serious? Love it.

Next: the 236th Marine Corps Birthday Ball! Every year, the Corps celebrates their birthday on November 10th, and a ball for every unit is held throughout the month. Our ball just so happened to be the ball Justin Timberlake attended. A lot of the Marines thought he was going to take away from their evening, but he was very respectful and tried to stay out of the limelight... despite us crazied wives who wanted a photo of him!

I got shooed away when I tried to catch a photo, resulting in a blur that is barely recognizable as Justin's head. My friend Mel had her nice camera with her and was able to catch the shot above, of Justin dancing with his date Cpl. DeSantis! 

I had fun getting ready for the ball, even though I was pretty rushed because I ended up helping a friend with her hair and makeup... which took away from my time getting ready... but it ended up okay. My hair was a bit of a hot mess, but at least all my accessories coordinated, right?!

Finally, here are just a few pieces of our wonderful military lives lately. Our red, white, & blue themed Christmas tree; Lady the Marine Westie dog; poker night at the Ploscik house with friends; working on a project for Military OneSource from home on a Friday for my new job (check out the page I designed!); and lots of camo.

That's all for now. Hopefully I can share a bit more soon. The holidays are always so busy, aren't they?!

Have a great week, lovelies.

11 December 2011

11 in 2011: Recap

Back in January, I made a list of 11 resolutions and goals I wanted to accomplish in 2011. The plan was to update my progress on the 11th of each month. 11 in '11 on the 11th. I think I stopped documenting mid-March, although I did still work on my resolutions outside of blog-world.

2011 is coming to a close and I'm already planning my goals for 2012. Even though I did not complete all of my goals for 2011, but I made lots of improvements and put a good deal of effort into every resolution. For that, I think making a list is totally worth it. Some people are "anti-resolutions" because they say they never follow through with what they wanted to do, but I tend to believe that every little bit helps.

For 2012, you can betchya I'll be doing 12 in '12 on the 12th! I'll make a little button/graphic for anyone else that wants to join in on my mission to better yourself and your surroundings.

It helped me to categorize them by the words in bold so that I didn't have 5 exercise goals or 2 scrapbook goals or whatever. This way, it's one main goal for several different areas of my life. Here is the final recap on my goals & the outcomes for 2011.

1. FASHION | Fine my personal style and be more fashionable.

  • Thanks to Pinterest, I did well with this one! I started off a little rocky, but by now I have a better idea of my style and what looks I like. I have a neatly organized closet (I'll be sharing photos soon), and I updated my wardrobe with some key pieces that work well for work, play, and staying in. I have learned that I am a lover of ballet flats (black knotted, camouflage, & red jeweled being 3 of my favorite pairs); aviator sunglasses; leggings paired with oversized shirts; cat-eyes via liquid eyeliner; wide belts; decorative headbands; anything with an artsy flair; and platinum hair. I like where this is going & look forward to getting more creative in 2012.

2. DIET | Reach my goal weight.

  • Goal weight did not happen. I was quite the yo-yo this year. But stay tuned... I'm always working on it. 

3. LOVE | Plan for & have the perfect wedding.

  • Success! Our June wedding was beautiful & everything I had hoped for. I have a bunch of "Wedding Wednesday" posts planned with all of the wonderful details. Better late than never, yeah?

4. BUSINESS | Launch my design business.

  • Success! I launched Graphic Grace Design on January 1st, 2011 (website needs an update, for sure). I had a fun variety of clients throughout the year, from close friends to small businesses. Unfortunately... the economy was not great for a design business, and I had to put GraphicGrace on hold for a bit around October. I'm now employed full-time by an awesome company that works for the DoD and military Quality of Life programs for service members and their families. I love it! I'm not giving up on GraphicGrace, I'm just trying to find a balance between my new job & my home life so I can add in freelance work on nights & weekends. Can't give up on my dream.

5. BLOG | Redesign & upkeep my blog.

  • Redesign: success! Upkeep? Not so much. I went in spurts, updating a few weeks at a time & lagging a few weeks at a time. I'm hoping to get a schedule going for 2012 so I schedule my posts ahead of time so I don't run out of time during the work week, when life always takes over. Blogging has been an awesome creative outlet for me and I've made many new friends through it this year!

6. EXERCISE | Work out 3x a week, minimum.

  • Another activity I went in spurts with. I did P90X a bit, C25K a bit, and the elliptical a whole lot. I'm happy to say that after a few months of slacking, I'm ending the year on a high note... Joshua & I have been running together 3 times a week, at night around the neighborhood. We wear glow belts (base regulations) and check out all the Christmas lights. Great motivation!

7. MONEY | Spend less, save more.

  • Well... we did spend less. Only because we had less. And had no choice. It was a rough year for us financially, what with wedding expenses, moving twice, and several months of only being on a military income. Not the highlight of the year, for sure. This goal will surely be extended into 2012. And probably the rest of our lives. Just sayin.'

8. TIME MANAGEMENT | Be 5 minutes early. Everywhere.

  • Ha. This one was a bit of a joke. I guess it was hit or miss. I averaged between being 5 minutes early, or 5 minutes late. I was usually no later than that, although I can't say it didn't happen from time to time. Overall... I still need improvement in this department.

9. SCRAPBOOK | Get up to date with j&d scrapbooks.

  • Okay. Although I am not "up to date" on my j&d scrapbooks (joshua & danielle), I did make progress. I started a new album I'm calling "Our Love Story," and a good portion of 2011 is documented in Project Life. So like I said, progress but not completion. To be continued in 2012!

10. KINDNESS | "Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty."

  • This one was hard to judge, but I'd call it a success! Any time I had the opportunity to give to a charity or donate a few dollars to people going door-to-door or requests at cash registers, I did. When my friends had fundraisers, I donated... even if it was just a small amount. The couple times we were able to help out friends or people in need, we did. We also made donations to Wounded Warriors, American Cancer Society, and Adopt-A-Family. So if any of that counts? I'd say... yeah... this was more of a success.

11. KEEP IN TOUCH | Regularly update email, photos, Facebook, & website.

  • I need to get better at responding to email in a timely manner, I need to stay on top of my websites to keep them up-to-date, but I was better at updating my photos & Facebook life! I love Facebook because it's the quickest, most effective way for me to keep in touch with our long-distance family & friends. I did go on a big deleting spree and "unfriended" those I did not keep in contact with regularly. It was part of organizing my online life and streamlining what information is shared with who. That made it easier to update things and stay on top of it all. I will definitely be doing it again from time to time. I recommend it!

So there you have it. I'm excited to start it all again in 2012... with 12 new (or updated) goals & resolutions! Anyone want to join me?

02 December 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

With Christmas less than 24 days away, I put together a little list of a few of my favorite things. I debated calling this list "What I Have That You Need," but refrained from it so you wouldn't know how bossy I really am. But for reals, friends, this stuff is the best. And basically, you just need it all. Mmk? K.

♥ Smashbox HIGH Definition Healthy FX Foundation
WHY YOU NEED THIS: It's amazing. The coverage is flawless, and it goes on beautifully with a big, thick bristled brush or makeup sponges. It's oil-free and full of all kinds of ingredients to make the most of your already gorgeous skin.
WHERE I BOUGHT IT: If you live by a military base, I buy it there at the PX. If not, check out Sephora or Amazon.

♥ Project Life
WHY YOU NEED THIS: Because your time is precious, and you're really too busy to scrapbook. But you still want to print & save your photos, and maybe there are a few things you want to remember about them. Project Life is really just a big photo album with journalling cards to help you document your life. It's scrapbooking for us busy folks. Take a photo, print your photo, fill out a little journalling card and BAM! you're done. Best part? It's all color coordinated, there are 4 different themes to choose from, and you can order the pieces individually to get what works for you.
WHERE I BOUGHT IT: Check out Becky's website (creator of Project Life) for a full list of products. The one I have (in my list above) is the Amber theme with the old binder. Now all the binders are new & even better quality! I'm just waiting for everything to get re-stocked so I can order mine for 2012.

♥ Vera Bradley Tote Bag
WHY YOU NEED THIS: It's the perfect big tote to toss anything you like into it. I use mine just for work Monday thru Friday. It fits my lunch bag, my planner, my makeup pouch, my wallet, and a whole lot else. I have the "Vera" style in "Suzani," which I love because the color is so versatile— black, brown, tan, and pops of color.
WHERE I BOUGHT IT: On base at the PX. But Vera is sold everywhere. Lots of Hallmark stores or Crabtree & Evelyn carry Vera. There's also the Vera Bradley website.

♥ Michael Kors Rose Gold Watch
WHY YOU NEED THIS: Rose gold is beautiful, and such a nice change from silver. It's a lighter, pinky gold, so not as brass as solid gold watches come off. I wear it with gold, silver, white gold, anything. It adds a little flair to any outfit!
WHERE I BOUGHT IT: This one was a birthday gift from Joshua... though I'm pretty sure he got it at the PX. Check in store at Macys or online at Amazon or Zappos.

♥ iPhone 4S
WHY YOU NEED THIS: Best. Phone. Ever. My favorite thing about it? The 8 MP camera. Yuhhh... it takes incredible photos. Next favorite thing? How easy it is to access email, Facebook, Twitter, the Internet, and my blog list. Next? That I can organize my apps into little groups. I have a group of utility apps, music apps, health & fitness apps, finance apps, shopping apps, and entertainment apps. Seriously. You don't know what you've been missing until you have this.
WHERE I BOUGHT IT: Best Buy Mobile. But it really doesn't matter. It's the same price everywhere. Get the smallest size (16 GB), it's all you'll need.

♥ Sperry Top-Sider Nassau Boat Shoes
WHY YOU NEED THIS: The warm-weather version of boat shoes! Suede, cute tassels, and leopard print soles. What's not to love?
WHERE I BOUGHT IT: On base. They're also on sale at Zappos now. Snatch them up quick!

♥ Urban Decay Naked Palette
WHY YOU NEED THIS: The best palette out there for rich, smooth, neutral eyeshadows. I saw this palette about a year ago, and after reading a million raving reviews online, I had to have it. But it was backordered. So of course that meant I had to have it even more, right? When it finally became available again online at Sephora, I bought it. Then it sat in my makeup drawer for the last 9 months. I finally took this baby out about 2 weeks ago, and I'm in love. It's everything they say it is and the shades are very blendable. Get it!
WHERE I BOUGHT IT: Online at Sephora.

♥ Organize Now! A Week-by-Week Guide to Simply Your Life & Your Space
WHY YOU NEED THIS: This book goes week by week, room by room, section by section with all sorts of tips and checklists to fill out as you go. I love that it looks like a planner— so cute. I've gone back to it over the years and my plan for 2012 is to conquer the whole book. The newest edition is a pretty orange color (the first was green).
WHERE I BOUGHT IT: A bookstore, not sure which since I've had it for so long. It's definitely at Amazon, too.

♥ Keurig Brewer
WHY YOU NEED THIS: Mmm, hot drinks. Variety. No clean up. This is a favorite in the Ploscik house because I do not drink coffee, but Joshua does. So he gets his flavored coffees, and what do I get? Hot Apple Cider, Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa, Chai Latte, Southern Sweet Iced Tea, Brewed Raspberry Tea. Oh, so many possibilities. 
WHERE I BOUGHT IT: This was a Christmas gift last year from my daddy-o. Ours is the Special Edition B60— not sure what that means, but it has a removable tray to fit go-cups under it and 3 different brewing sizes. Check out Amazon, Target, Walmart, Kohls, Bed Bath & Beyond... just about everywhere has these babies.

10 ♥ Breaking Dawn Part 1 Soundtrack
WHY YOU NEED THIS: What? Don't we all have our guilty pleasures? It doesn't matter that I listen to this obsessively on my drive to-and-from work each day. It relaxes me. So it will relax you, too. Movie-seeing and book-reading not required.
WHERE I BOUGHT IT: In store at Target while it was on sale. 

11 ♥ Jo Totes Rose Camera Bag
WHY YOU NEED THIS: It's the prettiest, girliest, most functional camera bag ever! At $89, it's one of the most affordable, too. My Jo Tote fits my Canon camera, 3-4 lenses, and all of my regular purse contents so that I only have to take this with me when I'm going out & about with my camera. Love, love love.
WHERE I BOUGHT IT: Online at JoTotes. There are a bunch of other gorgeous colors & styles, too.

12 ♥ Tupperware Vent 'N Serve
WHY YOU NEED THIS: Um, hello? Who doesn't like to keep their food fresh? Haha, really though— this is my favorite Tupperware. They're microwavable containers and they are FAB for leftovers. The next day, I can pop it straight into the microwave and voila! No extra dirty dishes. I know Tupperware can be expensive, so if you're in the market to invest in some— this is my #1 choice. 
WHERE I BOUGHT IT: I hosted a party with my mom a couple years back, so I got the full set at a huge discount. Definitely do it that way to save the most money.

13 ♥ Hobo Lauren Clutch
WHY YOU NEED THIS: It's a double frame clutch wallet that holds all your IDs, cash, cards, phone and even lip gloss! I got this after reading the amazing review on PinkLouLou's blog. I wanted a neutral color so I got it in Stone. I love that it's my wallet but it's also a clutch, so I can carry it in my purse or on its own.
WHERE I BOUGHT IT: LouLou is right about shopping around. I got mine on eBay! 

14 ♥ Ugg Bailey Button Triplet Boots
WHY YOU NEED THIS: They are like slipping your feet into heaven. I really never got into Uggs because they were so ugly. Then, just a month or so ago, I tried on my first pair ever— barefoot. They were so comfy they became cute. So cute, they are my new favorite boots. Love.
WHERE I BOUGHT IT: Also on base, at the PX. Definitely shop around for these... I paid nowhere near the $200 price tag on the Ugg website!

01 December 2011

A Little Project Called December Daily

Every year, the scrapbooking-project-making-queen Ali Edwards hosts what she calls December Daily.
"December Daily is an album project that documents the 25 days leading up to Christmas. Many people start their documentation earlier and many people go longer. I have found that 25 days is just right for me." —Ali Edwards
I love the idea of this, because when I was younger, my mom used to keep little 4x6" themed photo albums of our pictures over the years. She had a Halloween album, a Back-to-School album, a Christmas album, etc. It was (and still is!) so fun to pull out those albums when I am home to visit during whatever season of the year.

Last year was my first year participating in December Daily, only I did it a little differently. First of all, I'm much too busy during the holiday season to scrapbook a page a day. Secondly, having an entire album of 25+ pages for one holiday of the year is too cumbersome for me— and as a military family, I have to be conscious of keeping our baggage light and not adding too much to take from station to station. As it is, I have about a dozen scrapbooks from my high school/college years, and I still have most of my relationship with Joshua to document.

Yes, I'm a little obsessive when it comes to these things.

Enter— my version of December Daily. I didn't set up my album ahead of time, as Ali does. I just kind of went with it. I scrapbooked throughout December 2010 and finished up the pages in early 2011.

It was our first Christmas living together. It was also the first Christmas we spent alone, without visiting family. We were living in Emerald Isle, NC at the time, stationed at Camp Lejeune, and our big move to Virginia was only weeks away. There was just too much to do.

And honestly?

It was one of my favorite Christmases yet. It was quiet, intimate, and absolutely beautiful. Probably one of the only Christmases we'll have alone until we get old & grey, since we're seeing family this year and hope to have little ones in the coming years. :-)

This is the start of the album I hope to pull out every December. My version of December Daily highlights just the key moments of the season, including holiday decorating, gift giving, and bits & pieces of how we spent our December.

I purchased my festive 12x12" scrapbook at a local scrapping store in Emerald Isle. I seriously debated about it for weeks and finally got it! So happy I did. The photo of Joshua & I on page one is the day we graduated Corporal's Course last December. Page three is a circle collage of all the fun things we did throughout the month. Again— highlights only.

We didn't have a Christmas tree in the house we were renting in Emerald Isle, so we decorated one of the house plants instead. We also got the most perfect Christmas stockings— Vera Bradley for me, woodland camo for him. We hung them from the staircase. Once the gifts were wrapped, we were worse than 5-year olds. We opened everything days before Christmas, and only saved one gift for Christmas Eve. We figured it was just the 2 of us— so why not?

I loved having a place to keep our Christmas cards to each other last year. Now we'll always have them and be able to look back on them. I also documented making our family Christmas cards & our holiday wreath. The beach blizzard at Emerald Isle was a phenomenon. Supposedly it had not snowed in years, and we got to be there the winter it did! The snow on the beach was so beautiful.

So that's last year. It's never too late to start... even if you just take some photos and make little paper book on Snapfish! Which of course I'd like to see if you do. So run! Take pictures— document your December

I swear, it's so much fun.