Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving Dinner & Christmas Decor

Now that I am no longer in the live television business, I actually get holidays off. This is still a relatively new concept for me, so I feel like I have to take full advantage of these special occasions and hang on to them as if they'll be taken away from me at some point. So this long Thanksgiving weekend, I soaked up every second spent away from the office and off the computer and it was such a nice couple of days.

I spent Thanksgiving at my parents' house with all of my sisters and their guys, my mom and dad, my grams, and my aunt. Corey unfortunately had to work, but he got to watch a little bit of the football games and got a nice Thanksgiving meal, so he made the best of it - but I definitely missed having my big guy around. Back at the house, we ate my mom's amazing meal (she never disappoints!), had far too many pieces of pie, and watched Monsters University. We rarely watch movies as a family because we all always have so much going on, so this is always a rare treat. 
I had to post a picture of the pie selection, which featured a homemade pumpkin pie by Nellie and Ben, complete with Brendan's hand print as the turkey on it. It was so good!!
And I always love chasing these two little rascals around the house! But they are getting so big now that they can push each other around in their red car!

For the past several years, the day after Thanksgiving means two things for me: christmas decorations and my annual high school basketball alumni game. So after a day spent decorating, I laced up my old college kicks and headed to the gym like old times (even though the gym at St. Francis looked completely different back in the day when I played there). Before the game, we were told this might possibly be the last alumni game ever, so I was bound and determined to win one before I hung up my shoes for good. With my dad coaching our squad, we took the Varsity team to overtime and ended up losing by one point. It was a bummer, but pretty good for a bunch of out-of-shape old ladies! Despite the fact that I couldn't raise my right arm, bend my ring finger, or move my legs the next morning, it was a good game. 
On Saturday I proudly admit that I stayed in my PJ's All. Day. Long. No makeup, no shoes, no worries. It was glorious. I put the finishing touches on my Christmas decorations and called it a night after watching four Christmas movies in a row. I just barely stayed awake long enough to see Corey when he got home from work around midnight, but I was so excited to show him our Christmas decorations. I must say, they do make our house feel nice and cozy!
Now it's back to the grind for a couple jam-packed weeks before I get a little Christmas break. I have a lot to do and not a lot of time, so I am getting after it this week!

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are enjoying the Christmas season!
xo Steph

Monday, November 25, 2013

The calm before the crazy...

This time of year is my favorite... Thanksgiving with its amazing food and family time leads straight to Christmas and its cozy weather, bright lights, and festive music. As wonderful and lovey-dovey as it all is, it's also one of the most stressful times of year. In between jam-packed work days and travel, I do my best to squeeze in decorating, shopping, and wrapping with enough time left over to sit and enjoy the christmas lights for a couple of days. But this year, I am vowing to get things done early so I can really enjoy the holiday season

I had planned to start chipping away at my christmas shopping list last week, but in between a 24 hour trip to New York and back and less than 48 hours in Ohio, the days just got away from me. So now it's time to lock in and get to work!

That's why I'm calling these next few days the calm before the (holiday) crazy. I'll have a slightly lighter load at work this week, which will give me time to slowly start checking things off my personal to-do list. That way once Thanksgiving ends and the mad dash to Christmas begins, I won't be overcome with that inevitable holiday stress. 

So let's all sit back, relax, and enjoy the season. Otherwise it will be here and gone before you know it!

Hope you all have a fabulous Thanksgiving week! I will be soaking up as much time by the fireplace and at the dinner table with my family as humanly possible!

xo Steph

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Johnny's 1st Birthday

I know I've said this many times, but I just cannot get over how fast time flies. Just the other day I was driving home from San Francisco like a crazy person in a rush to see my brand new nephew, Johnny Fontana. I still remember the night he was born like it was yesterday. I had missed the birth, but that meant I was wide awake when everyone else was exhausted from the long night they all endured. So I found myself alone, cradling sweet Johnny in my arms while his mommy and daddy finally got some sleep. I will never forget that night I spent in that quiet hospital room, cuddling and bonding (and snapping a few selfies!) with our new baby boy. I can't believe it's already been a year.
 My first night bonding with Johnny Fontana.

Fast forward to just a couple days ago when we celebrated Johnny's first birthday with a barnyard-themed bash. I had to miss a big chunk of the party to go celebrate my long-time friend's wedding in Lake Tahoe, so I didn't get as many pictures as I would have liked, but it was a huge celebration with all of Johnny's closest family and friends that love that little cutie so much!
Johnny and his proud parents.

 Johnny loved his barnyard cake!
His favorite cousin Brendan wouldn't miss Johnny's party for the world!

There was a sort of funny moment when everyone started singing 'Happy Birthday' to Johnny, and Brendan just collapsed in tears. He HATES when everyone's attention is on him, and clearly on his cousin too. Not sure if he thinks everyone is going to attack, but he is NOT a fan of the birthday song!

I've made it a little tradition for myself to make the boy's banners for their birthday parties. I made Brendan's monkey-themed one, so I was happy to make Johnny a barnyard-themed sign complete with a cow, chicken, horse, and a piggy. Since I didn't get there until dark, I had to take a picture with the birthday boy and what was left of the sign the next morning. Unfortunately, the bottom row fell victim to the sprinklers, but you get the idea!
These precious boys are growing up so fast... I just want time to slow down! There's nothing I love more than chasing these little rascals around, pushing them on their motorcycles, reading them books, and rocking them to sleep. I am so lucky to be their "Auntie Steeeeeee"!
xo Steph

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween 2013: Costume Party, Haunted House & Trick-or-Treating

Happy Halloween!

I love this time of year when the weather is changing and the holiday decorations come out of their dusty boxes. I've mentioned before that Halloween is my husband's favorite holiday, so we went all out this year with our first Halloween party, our annual visit to a new haunted house, and creating a cozy, creepy scene in our own house. 

This year is our first Halloween in our home, so I was so excited to decorate the house and make it spooky. I admit, I may have went a little overboard on the budget, but we started from scratch this year, and each year I can just get little things to add (that's what I keep telling myself atleast). Here is a little sneak peak at our spooky dwelling...
And yes, those are finger-shaped soaps in the bath room. Probably not necessary, but it's all in the details!

Building on the "Eat, Drink and Be Married" theme of our wedding, we decided to host our first annual Halloween Party, "Eat, Drink and Be Scary." I wasn't sure if people would be into the whole dressing up idea, so costumes were encouraged but not mandatory. And let me tell you, my family and friends blew me away with their amazing outfits! From my sister and her boyfriend dressing up as my mom and dad (they NAILED it! Silvio even called Pixie "Blondie" for the evening, which really brought it home), to my best friend's dad literally becoming Walt from Breaking Bad, everyone really played the part. And we LOVED it! It was such a good time and I was glad everyone was able to really get into the Halloween spirit.
Corey had been asking me to be Catwoman for years, so I figured it was time to make it happen :) P.S. How scary is his Bane costume?
Walt, "Mike & Michelle" and the Flintstones!
A Naked Butcher, Dexter, mini Batman, Goofy, Minnie and Mickie Mouse, a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, and even Ruby dressed up as a football player. 
Winners of our first ever costume contest. Their names have been "engraved" on the tombstone, which will be added to each year.

The costumes were so fantastic, it made all of the hours I spent on preparing appropriate "Halloween party" food more than worth it. I hit up pinterest for some inspiration and came up with an odd collection of appetizers, main dishes, and desserts. 
Pumpkin spew (guacamole), Ghostly Oreo Cupcakes, Eyeball Punch, Monster EyeBalls (Caprese), and the spread. (Not pictures are the oreo eye balls, which didn't last long, as well as the main courses: pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw, chili, cornbread, and a green salad).

After all the fun and excitement of the Halloween party, Corey and I had to keep up our annual tradition of visiting a different haunted house every year. We went to the old Roseville fair grounds to Callson Manor, which was a pretty good scare. 
And yes, Corey is STILL wearing his Bane mask!
P.S. This is why you don't take pictures on a cell phone at night!

On Halloween night, we headed to one of the best neighborhoods in the area to take Brendan and Johnny trick-or-treating. It was such a cool Halloween experience with all the houses done up and so, so many kids in costumes lining the streets. I loved seeing the little ones come to the door and say "trick or treat" in their little voices, followed by a "say thank  you" from their parents. Brendan's version of it sounded more like "tick-test" but he was close! And the way he says PUNkin (pumpkin) melted my heart.
Silvio's family was so kind to have us over for Halloween. The decorations were amazing and I loved his mom's tooth fairy outfit! (She's a dentist in real life!)

 Love Johnny's thumbs up!
I got the boys glow sticks, which they liked to chew on more than anything else. 
 LOVED all the decorations at the Lovatti's house!

We had 1,600 Capri Suns for trick or treaters and believe it or not, we ran out! The steady line of kids was unbelievable. We had never seen anything like this in our neighborhood, so it was a very cool experience!
After trick-or-treating, the boys had some play time with Mimi. They are getting so big!

My little Mickey and Batman made my day and made this Halloween one of our best yet. 

Hope you all are having a happy and safe Halloween!
xoxo Steph

Monday, October 28, 2013

Back to Blogging (Part 3)

This is your breaking news announcement for the day: I am back to blogging! 

After taking a much-needed break from endless hours on the computer, I've finally reached a point where I find myself missing my blog. I'll be honest... it's not easy to keep up with the ol' blog after long days at work, making time for my family, and squeezing in a little bit of time for myself. I don't know how some of you bloggers do it! My blog started to feel like another job. And I didn't like feeling that I was doing it because I HAD to. Now I'm finally at the point where I WANT to. And that feels much better :)
I just wasn't feeling it. Ya know?

There have been so many fun and exciting things going on around here that I realized I want to be able to revisit these moments with a click of a mouse any time I want to. So over the course of the next few days and weeks, you may be getting a series of out-of-sequence stories, but I want to make sure I go back and chronicle the things I've missed on here. Because I don't wanna miss a thing. (cue Steven Tyler screeching). 

So sit back, relax, and enjoy The Sweet Life. I know I am :)
xoxo, Steph

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The first year.

Recently Corey and I celebrated our one year wedding anniversary. First of all, I can't believe how quickly a year flew by! And while it was exciting to have an excuse to look back at our wedding pictures and to receive all sorts of wonderful cards in the mail from our family and friends, it didn't feel like just one year to me. And for good reason. Corey and I have been together for almost 12 years, and I've loved him more and more every day regardless of that number. What was special though, was reliving our memories from that extremely awesome day...

August 31st, 2012

As Corey and I sat eating our anniversary brunch at the same resort our wedding took place at, we looked out to the river and remembered exactly what we were doing on this day one year ago. I was running around town getting my hair and makeup done while he was getting ready with all the guys. I was scarfing down sandwiches and picking from a fruit platter while my sisters and my parents came in and out of the suite preparing for the ceremony. Corey was undoubtedly having a couple drinks trying to calm his nerves. I remember the exact moment I slipped into my dress with the help of my mom and my pregnant big sister (thanks for the assist, Johnny!) and looking into the mirror for the first time... everything turned out perfectly and I couldn't have been more at ease. It was the first day of the next chapter, and what a great day it was. 
The love and laughter that filled the ballroom that night is something I'll never forget. To this day, I still day dream about how awesome it was having all our family and friends in one place, celebrating our love story and having the time of their lives doing it. Once the music started, I didn't sit down once. And it didn't occur to me until several days after, but before the wedding, I had been worried about how I was going to go to the bathroom without messing up my beautiful wedding dress. Turns out, I never had to worry about that because I didn't even go to the bathroom once. I guess I was just too busy having too much fun!

It was also fun to relive our honeymoon in Cancun. And now that I'm typing that here on my blog, I don't believe I ever posted a recap of it! Shoot... I'll have to get to that someday. Maybe on our 10 year anniversary! But it was honestly that last time I went a week without my cellphone, email, and conference calls, and just enjoyed every second of the day with Corey. It was heaven!

August 31st, 2013

As we left the Westin following our anniversary brunch, which was called "Le Rivage" when we got married there, not much more than the name had changed. The beautiful arches still marked the wedding site on the river. The ballroom was being dressed for another wedding with the same tables and the same gold chairs. A bronze easel still noted the day's events, with a new couple on it this time around. And the love I've shared with Corey since I was 15 was still as strong as ever.
Then - August 31, 2012
Now - August 31, 2013
I want to thank Mr. and Mrs. P for so generously cooking us our anniversary dinner. Because we had our league's fantasy football draft on our anniversary, our plans were slightly altered, but it couldn't have been a more wonderful evening. Corey and I will always share a special bond with these tremendous people because coach Vic was the one who married us on our big day. When he told us happy anniversary, we told him it wouldn't have been possible without him (quite literally!). We are so lucky to have such loving and generous people in our lives.
The next morning, Corey and I were able to get away for a day and night of relaxation and anniversary celebrating in Lake Tahoe. Only problem was the Rim Fires had left so much smoke it was hard to breathe and quite overcast. So we spent a day at the beach, gambling in the casinos (neither of us lost, which is a win!), and capped the night with fireworks, a late-night taco truck stop, and some good conversation by the fire. We woke up early the next morning to head home because we had someone very special waiting for us: our little miss Ruby! She is our first (and currently only!) child and she has brought so much happiness to our lives. Now I don't think we could imagine our lives without her!
Lake Tahoe, 2013
It's amazing how much can happen in one year. From finding our perfect home, to raising our perfect puppy (ok, minus the digging!), new careers, brand new nephews, home improvement projects, lessons learned about love and compromise and countless memories made with our loved ones... it's been the perfect year.
Cheers to many more!
xoxo Steph

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My trip to Akron & The LeBron James Family Foundation

This past weekend, I made my annual August trip to Akron, Ohio - the quaint little town put on the map quite literally by its most famous native, LeBron James. I always love working with the LeBron James Family Foundation because there are some truly amazing people there that are really making a difference for kids and families across Akron. My role on the LJFF team is to oversee all media relations for the Foundation, and at their popular annual summer event, this is no small task! I managed crews from Good Morning America, ESPN SportsCenter, the soon-to-launch Fox Sports 1 and every single local Cleveland outlet. I'm still gathering all the stories that ran 4 days later!
This year, The Foundation was feeling quite ambitious and planned two events in one day. The first was the I Promise Family Reunion BBQ, celebrating the start of the new school year with the program's Wheels for Education students and their families. You may or may not have noticed the black "I PROMISE" band that LeBron wears every single day, but that promise he made is to these kids in Akron, who in return, promise to go to school, be good sons and daughters, and to live active, healthy lifestyles. During this event, the kids got their school uniforms, bikes, and Samsung tablets for the school year. We spent several hours the night before setting these babies up!!
Following the morning event, we transformed the football stadium into a fashion show for the St. Vincent-St. Mary fall sports team uniform unveiling. LeBron has designed and donated brand new Nike uniforms for all of his alma mater's student athletes. They knew they were getting their new, amazing uniforms, but they had no clue the surprise that was waiting for them behind the black curtain...
Once the final student athlete had made her way down the runway, the music faded out and the event MC's began to thank everyone for coming, and you could almost feel the disappointment that LeBron did not show up lingering in the air. Just as people started to pack up their stuff and head for the exits, Eminem's "Lose Yourself" started playing over the stadium's sound system. The music gradually built up until it was blasting and before the crowd knew it, LeBron emerged from a cloud of smoke on the stage wearing the football team's brand new all black uniform. The crowd immediately erupted with cheers and the football team literally rushed the stage. It was a pretty awesome moment that these kids will never forget... and neither will I!
It was a busy couple of days, but I'm just thankful that my job has taken me to places across the country, and allowed me to be a part of really helping these kids chase their dreams. My friends at the LeBron James Family Foundation are truly changing the world one student at a time!

 All photos are courtesy of my good friend Erika at the LeBron James Family Foundation.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Justin Timberlake & Jay-Z Concert

I'll start by admitting I really wanted to label this post with a fun, clever, attention-grabbing headline that I knew existed, but as I fumbled with awkward "Mr. JT and Mr. Jay-Z" references, I could feel the coolness being ripped from the post even before it began. But I digress. This past Friday night Corey and I made the quick drive to San Francisco to see Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z perform at Candlestick Park. I had never been to a stadium concert before, so I was blown away by the amount of people packed into one venue to see these guys. And they did not disappoint.
I'm not a huge rap fan, but Jay-Z played all of his good ones. One week later, I can still feel the base booming in my heart from "99 Problems" and I really loved the live version of "Empire State of Mind." I'm still walking around responding to every question I'm asked with a deep, Jay-Z-inspired "YUP." May not be my genre, but the man is good at what he does!
Oh Justin. I've always loved me some JT, but I managed to marry a man that may love him even more than I do! It's quite enjoyable to be able to blast Justin and old school N*SYNC in the car without my husband telling me to turn it off. Better yet, he is more likely to turn it up even more! So it's always fun to see Justin live with him. Corey had the biggest smile on his face the whole time during "Mirrors," which is Corey's new favorite. And no matter how many times we see him live, it never gets old. He has so many good songs, and he played almost every one of my favorites this time around.
Nick, Kari, Corey and I may not have had the best seats in the house, but it was still a darn good show!
I'll be rotating all three JT CD's in my car for the next month or so!
Hope everyone has a great weekend!