Monday, October 31, 2011

More Fall Yummies and Happy Halloween!!

Now that I am back to cooking more,thank you energy {and time},I wanted to show some more fallworthy recipes I hope to whip up sometime this season. For a recap of my previous post of favorite fall foods, go here.

Taco Cupcakes via Plain Chicken
Buffalo Chicken Bites via Pennies on a Platter
Pepperoni Pizza Puffs via Lick the Bowl Good
Sweet and Sour Meatballs via The Daily Dish
Autumn Chopped Salad via Espresso and Cream
Cran-Apple Marshmallow Salad via Fly Through Our Window
Tortellini Sausage Soup via Our Best Bites
Stuffed Green Peppers via Kalyn's Kitchen
Three Cheese Pasta Bake via Southern Living
Candy Corn Cupcakes via Our Best Bites
Smore Brownies via Can You Stay for Dinner
Pumpkin Dump Cake via Cookies and Cups

And of course, Happy Halloween!! We had a fantastic weekend, which I promise to recap, but hope you all get lots of adorable trick-or-treaters coming tonight and find a way to get rid of some of that lurcking candy...yes, I've been bad--thanks a lot Reese's! ;)

Friday, October 28, 2011

A New Sponsor and A Giveaway!!

I know you all love giveaway prizes just as much as I do, right? When Heidi of Wishberries contacted me, I headed straight over to her shop to see her custom creations, and loved every one of them.
Heidi told me she was an avid reader of my blog and thought us partnering together would be a fun new which I quickly agreed. A little background: 

Heidi comes to us from the other side of the country, Bridal Veil, Oregon (which is a short drive from scenic Portland). From an early age, she was always busy crafting and creating, which is how she got the idea to embark on her current venture. At the age of 17, she was involved in a sports-related accident, which has consequently caused her to have multiple surgeries on her lower back. She is a wife, mother, and upbeat young woman who has suffered through a number of setbacks, but hasn't lost her faith in God. As her family works to pay off major medical bills for her as well as her husband after a work accident, she decided to follow her dream and start a business...that's how Wishberries was born. What an incredible story we can all learn from. 

Sweet Heidi has graciously offered to give away one of her too cute London blankets. So, how do you enter the giveaway?
First, you must be a follower of Hello! Happiness. Then hop on over to the Wishberries' store and leave me a comment telling me who you'd be giving this blanket to, and why. What a perfect gift for a little one this upcoming holiday season!

Giveaway ends next Wednesday, November 2nd...thanks everyone for participating and good luck!

Fashionable Friday...Are You Fur Real?

I don't care what people say...fur is always in style--well, faux that is. Come fall and winter, I love anything and everything fur. I love it on celebrities and I love that it's something us real peeps can totally pull off, too. I searched high and low for some fun, fashionable, and still budget friendly fur pieces to add to your closet for these chilly seasons.
Fall in Central Park Coat via Modcloth
Katja Cap via Anthroplogie
Long Fur Vest via Shop Sosie
Faux Fur Bag via Gap
Knitted Dove First Lady Tan Coat via Lulus's
Snuggly Steps Slippers via Anthroplogie
Faux Fur Gloves via Loft
And for the little one, oh yes, you know I love this:
Faux Fur Cardigan via Baby Gap

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rambling Randomness...And Q&A Time

I think everyone is posting their normal "random" nonsense today...Thursday is always one of those days, isn't it?
OK so fall is back...seriously, yesterday I had on sandals and today I am wearing a puffy vest, scarf, and boots--Tennessee, I dearly love you, but pick a season and stick with it.
So glad the weekend is nearing, though I think I mention that fact every week, but so be it. I'm baking tonight, more Candy Corn Rice Krispie Treats, this time for our work Halloween celebration...let's just hope I can make it out of the house without the hubby sampling one too many.
Did anyone watch Revenge last night? Seriously, it's gotten to the fact that Jeff watches it with me each week...the suspense of everything is putting me on the edge of my seat. Next week is going to end with a big bang, I'm just sure of it.
So, I received a bunch of questions I have stockpiled into one shebang of answers...if I missed you, I blame it on my overloaded brain and remind me to finish what I started.
What products do you use on my hair? How do you fix and curl?
For shampoo/conditioner, I switch it up between Aveeno, Biolage, and Clairol Shimmer Lights which is PERFECT for blondes between root touch-ups. I also do a weekly deep conditioning treatment called Miracle 7. Once I'm out of the shower, I towel dry for 5-10 minutes to remove water and spray Tresemme Heat Protectant all over. I blowdry in sections, just because I have tons of hair and it is super thick. Once dry, I spray each section with Alterna Caviar Spray {miracle in a bottle for damaged hair} and then curl with a 1 1/4 curling iron. Finally, I straighten the top with a flat iron...I know, tedious process but now that I have it mastered, it only takes about 20 minutes.

Where did you get the boots you wore for the gender reveal party?
Oh dear heavens, I get this question literally everytime I wear them...I should be a walking spokesperson for Gianni Bini as I am a devout and loyal shopper of their shoes--trust me, their infamous green boxes are stocked in my closet. They are last year's version that are my favorite pair of shoes ever {thanks Dad!}. And yes, I bought them in a similar color this year because I heart them so much. 

What are your plans for after Little Miss Sunshine makes her debut?
Oh what a topic...this has been quite the discussion, and this is just OUR decision, for I know people really like to throw their two cents in about anything and everything baby-related. Currently, the plan is for me to go back to work once maternity leave is said and done. I am planning to take off somewhere between 8-12 weeks to spend as much time with her at home as possible, and then the idea is that I'll go back to my "normal" life and career.
Since childcare is crazy in that you sign up months before they are set to arrive, we have registered for a preschool literally the next building over from my office, so she won't be far away. As rewarding as being a stay-at-home mother would be, at this time in our lives, it's just not the right decision for us. However, we're lucky in that my Mom, grandparents, family members, and friends live close by so we have a herd ready and willing to jump in whenever we need help!

Where do you buy your clothes--both pre-prego and now maternity?
I am a savvy shopper in that I hunt for a good deal. I subscribe to stores emails so that I can  take advantage of sales and specials--my favorites are Gap, Francesca's, Old Navy, Loft, JCrew, and Macys. Then of course I have online shops I visit in search of dresses and statement pieces--Lulu's, ModCloth, Shop Ruche, and Shop Sosie. I'm also known to hit up TJMaxx, Forever 21, and Target and seem to do quite well when I'm on a mission. 
The biggest thing I am learning in dressing for the growing baby bump is to wear what is comfortable. Most days, you can find me in longer tunics/cardigans and leggings with boots/flats and either a scarf or a big necklace.

What makeup do you use?
You never know what you're going to find in my bag, as I sample different products seeking  new favorites. I moisturize with Clinique's Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion, and then prime with Smashbox Photo Finish Primer {using a makeup brush to apply}. Then it's to the Make Up For Ever line-- I use their foundation in color #155 before brushing on the Matte Face Powder. For blush, I'm currently using Sephora's Romantic Rose. As for the eyes, I am picky when it comes to eyeliner and I am in love with Maybelline's Line Stylist in Onyx {it doesn't run/smudge throughout the day}. For eyeshadow, I use Clinique's Colour Surge Quad Set in Choco-Latte and then finish with High Lengths Mascara in Black. Finally, to the lips--I use Bare Escentuals lipliner in Peony and then set with the Fruit Cocktail lipgloss.

How do you find time to blog regularly?
To be honest, it's all about scheduling and multitasking. If I am on a not-so-important conference call, you can bet I am plotting ideas for blog posts or drafting text. Sometimes, I have posts planned out well in advance so that makes it a lot easier. I also have a document labeled "Blogging Ideas" for when I have a topic I may want to post about at a later date when I am getting into a rut...this has helped me come up with fresh ideas on more than one occasion.

That's it for today friends...sorry for the lengthy post! I'm working on all sorts of fun posts, though--fashion for tomorrow, more fall recipes I am wanting to sample, and the debut of a new sponsor AND giveaway. Woo hoo ;)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hello Baby! 19 Week Update

How far along? 19 weeks, 4 days...143 days to go!
Size of the little darling? An heirloom tomato--6.0 inches and 8.5 ounces. I'm telling you, these fruit comparisons get a little more strange as the weeks progress.
Maternity Clothes? Still sporting much of my "normal wear", however instead of dresses, now they are tunics...crafty, dont you think? We went shopping for New York holiday outfits last weekend and I almost had a hoo, I know shut it.
Weight Gain? 11 Jeff said "Natasha hasn't had any problems gaining weight"--why thank you darling ;). I am still working out 3 times each week, though, and feeling great!
Stretch Marks? Thinking only positive thoughts and constantly smelling like cocoa butter as my best form of prevention.
Gender? Little Miss Sunshine is what I am going to call her until we finalize the name...I've had questions from some of you about that topic and yes, I promise to reveal soon. The first name is officially chosen, but we're working on the middle...a name is WAY important, obviously.
Movement? The flutters and weird little sensations are just too crazy to put into words. Jeff felt one last week and the smile he gave me made my heart melt.
Sleep? Not too bad, I think I am just so tired I fall asleep easily. However, when I have to get up in the middle of the night to turn over or use the ladies room, I can't just "hop" as quickly as I used to.
Food Cravings? Sweets, fruit, and any kind of fast food. I'll admit it, I had Krystal one night for dinner this past week and it was amazing. I know, who am I and what have I done with the real Natasha?
What I Miss? Being able to venture out to the bars with friends as they celebrate their birthdays and shop the normal boutiques and stores for clothes...cry me a river--such petty little things.
Symptoms? Dry skin, small bladder syndrome, swollen feet--attractive huh? ;)
Best Moment of the Week? The gender reveal party and finally being able to share our news with friends and family...such a great day!

The Gender Reveal Party

As soon as we were past the first trimester, I went to work on our gender reveal party...with so many full weekends this fall, I knew I had to get it on the calendar for family and friends. Once we selected the date, I went to town on invitations--my favorite part of any party planning! Instantly, I fell in love with the designs of Jen from Blackberry Graphics and got to work.
From browsing the world wide web in seach of gender reveal party ideas, my initial thoughts were that I wanted to stay away from the traditional pink/blue color cute as that may be, I wanted pops of fun fall colors that didn't scream "baby". After all was said and done, we landed on a coral, robin's egg blue, sunflower yellow, and gray palette and I loved how they turned out.
After the invites were sent out, I went to work on the other elements...picking out partyware {napkins, plates, cups, and such} from Target and Party City and then partnering with Julia from Delightful Decoration on a custom party banner to read "Boy or Girl?" which turned out to be the perfect addition.  I hopped over to Dime Store Buddy to order yellow/gray striped straws to have on-hand come party day, too.
Finally, I sought out assistance from a fantastic local bakery here in Nashville--Dulce Desserts--to create a custom cake that would serve as the "giveaway" for boy or girl. I brought them an extra invitation to custom match the colors and I couldn't have been happier with the end result.
Thanks to my fantastic friends and Mom, the menu I selected came together and everyone seemed to love the food...
Appetizers/Side Dishes
Hot Pizza Dip
French Quarter Cheese
Jalapeno Popper Dip
Sausage Balls
Grape Salad
Fresh Veggie Crudite with Ranch Dip
Main Dishes
Chicken Salad Croissants
Ham and Poppyseed Sandwiches
Mini Hot Dog Crescent Roll-ups
Candy Corn Rice Krispie Treats
Caramel Apple Cheesecake Dip
Of course, no party is complete without favors, now is it? With the help of my fabulous husband, I made cake balls filled with pink colored cake and wrapped them up in cello bags with tags that read "Baby Cakes"...a sure hit by everyone!
I also repurposed the chalkboard we bought for our wedding for our guests to cast their vote on Boy/Girl before the big reveal...surely enough, by cake cutting time, the race was pretty even. 
After everyone arrived, I tried to get them to eat first, but they weren't having it, so we gathered everyone around the kitchen to let my Mom and Kaye cut the cake--classic reactions at their best ;). Here is the play-by-play:
starting to cut into the cake
 jeff offering his advice...
 mom taking just a little peek...
 look at that reaction...CLASSIC!
 thank gosh Kaye was calm because there was no holding Mom back--LOL
 hugs for a new baby girl...and a mini me ;)
There were cheers all around, many hugs and kisses, and lots of well wishes for the two of us, but mostly for Jeff because everyone said he was destined to have a baby girl and knew he was in big trouble with another one of me to enter the world in March. It's just perfect how things work out.
Afterwards, we got to open some very special presents from friends and family--Baby Girl now has quite the collection of books for bedtime, new picture frames to capture adorable shots, a few new stuffed animals to make her room feel like home, a new white minky "lovie" to tote around, a gorgeous white crocheted blanket from her Mimi and Pappy, a lamb bib for mealtime, and a beautiful white bunny dressing gown for when she makes her debut.
The rest of the afternoon was spent watching football, taking pictures outside to take advantage of the warm weather, and then birthday celebrations for Bev... couldn't have asked for more. I hope you all enjoyed our little look-see from the party!
 Mimi and her 2 girls
 love these ladies!! so happy they could be there to celebrate
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