Sunday, January 30, 2011

Simply Suz turns ONE!

Hard to believe that a year ago today, I was camped out on our couch, snowed in, & killing time while Matt studied for the DAT (which, you may recall, he rocked!). As I perused the internet, I decided to try my hand at blogging...

Out of that snow day, Simply Suz was born. This blog has been a fun creative outlet for me (not to mention a stellar distraction while Matt does important things like study) & I'm still tickled pink to find out that y'all stop by to read!

In the last year you've followed my musings in Life for Less, Photo of the Week, Tuesday Musings, our miscellaneous travelogues (including our "epic" Alaska trip), birthdays, stories about our friends & family, photography & more.

Please consider this blogiversary celebration a big "thank you" for visiting my little slice of the internet. 

love, Suz.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Photo of the Week: From the Fall Archives

I found this winner while I was transferring photos from my hard drive to Smugmug. I was on a cupcake kick for awhile & Matt snapped a series of photos one fall afternoon while I made yummy caramel apple cupcakes (which actually tasted more like muffins...but they were still delicious).
Look at that yummy caramel. Please. Take me back to fall.
This is proof that I'm not always the one behind the camera! And proof that Matt knows what he's doing!
We actually made way too much caramel, but we managed to find another use for it.
Want the recipe for caramel apple cupcakes? You can find it here, although I'd strongly recommend trying the sour cream raspberry cupcakes first. Divine.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

(Virtual) Dress-up for Big Girls

I have a new obsession & I'm blaming it on the Pioneer Woman & Katie at Marriage Confessions. But seriously, ladies (& gents if you're into that kind of thing, but my hubs wasn't so much) you need to check out It. is. awesome.

In Ree's words: "Polyvore is a website where you can create your own sets of clothing, accessories, shoes, bags, artwork, furniture, & other adornments. Members of Polyvore then share the sets they create. But here’s the kicker: the items in the sets are all “clickable” & link to a retailer listing where you can buy the items on the set. For this reason, [it] can be a little hazardous to your pocketbook if you tend to like internet shopping. But mostly, Polyvore’s just fun."

In my words: Polyvore = virtual dress-up for big girls.

I had time to kill tonight while I listened intently to the State of the Union Address so I decided to play around with Polyvore for awhile. I swear the President had my undivided attention while I played fashionista. I'm an excellent multi-tasker. Ask Matt. In fact, I heard the Prez mention Facebook in his address; & I'd wager to say that Polyvore is as innovative & awesome for virtual shoppers. Okay. I'll be completely honest -- my ears did perk up when he mentioned tax reform, regulations & deficit reduction. Blame it on the day job.

So without further adieu, here are my Polyvore creations. I chose Tommy & Caroline's wedding as my "occasion" and got to work. Disclaimer: I have most of the items, or similar products, already so I didn't use Polyvore for it's internet-shopping-capabilities (shocker, I know, given my cheaptastic tendencies). Just for my entertainment & to give you a glimpse of what I plan to wear on their big day .... not that I expect anyone except maybe my sister to care.

Wedding Attire

[Purple dress purchased at half price with a gift card at Nordstrom at an end-of-summer sale. Originally $175 Italian, gold t-strap sandals (similar style to the pair on the left & leather similar to pair on the right) purchased at J.Crew warehouse sale for.....wait for it....$17!!!! Darling Kate Spade dangly earrings (similar color to the top pair & oval shaped like the bottom pair) received as a gift. Still on the hunt for cheap, chic gold bangles to complete the outfit.]

Rehearsal Dinner Attire

[Bright & cheerful Nanette Lepore silk dress, received as a generous gift from Matt's folks. It's a favorite, as evidenced by this & this. Strappy (with much smaller heel) bright yellow sandals purchased with a gift card from Macy's last spring. Vintage --- a.k.a. from my Mom's collection from the 70s --- turqouise earrings (that look surprisingly similar to the pair I found on Polycrome, just a slightly different shade)].

Have you given Polyvore a try? Happy dress-up, ladies! 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Las Vegas: In Photos

Warning: These photos may spontaneously disappear in 2 weeks. I just signed up for a 2 week trial of Smugmug & started moving my photos from my hard drive to the internet (don't worry, I also backed them up on my external). If I decide I don't like Smugmug in 2 weeks, these photo will probably vanish. Consider yourself warned & enjoy 'em while they last! All of these photos are SOOC (straight out of the camera)! (Sorry, I don't have time nor the patience to edit right now!)  
If you want to see more, click here to view the entire gallery.

I'm most excited about these shots: the Chinese New Year display in the Bellagio. The colors were phenomenal.

Speaking of the Bellagio, here she is in all her glory.

Did I mention the view out of my room was phenomenal?

Fortunately for you, unfortunately for me, I was up with the sunrise every morning for work.

I did venture outside the walls of Bellagio to see some other hotels. First stop: Aria.

Next: the Monte Carlo.

Guess where I went next? (Hint.. NY NY!)

My last stop was by far my favorite: Paris.

I think the ceiling is what "made" Paris for me. I'm not a big casino fan as they are dark, noisy & smoky, but Paris had an airy feel to it (go figure):

I also saw Caesar's, MGM, & the Cosmopolitan, but I didn't have my camera with me on those stops. Next time in Vegas, I'm going to put the Venetian and the Wynn on my list! Here a few final looks at Vegas from my self-guided walking tour:

I thought it'd only be appropriate to end with a "big finish" a la the Bellagio fountains!

There you have it. My Vegas photo journal. Want to see more? Click here for the full album!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Happy Birthday, Kates!

(It's been a big birthday week in our family! Monday, my brother-in-law celebrated his birthday & today his beautiful bride turns 29! We also have triplet cousins who ring in their 19th birthday today! Lots of family to be thankful for!)
My gorgeous big sister, Katie. (June 2010)
I happen to have one of the best big sisters around. It's true. Ask anyone who knows sweet Katie (affectionately "Kates" to me). She epitomizes gentleness, kindness & innocence (sometimes her innocence crosses the line into naiveté, which gives brother Mark & me tons of material to get Katie going ... our favorite pasttime). Before being mom to Hannah, Katie taught kindergartners & before that, she had a stand-in role as a second mother to Mark & me. She has a soothing kindness & gentle spirit that is really rare.
Katie & her girl. (June 2010)
Sure we had our quarrels growing up. Would you expect less from two girls sharing a room & a wardrobe? Especially when one of those girls - yours truly - has a feisty streak & the other one - dear Katie - is known to be extremely persistent?!
Shortly after Hannah's arrival. (Late September or early October 2010)
Nevertheless, I wouldn't trade her for anything. She is a beautiful woman, inside and out. She has an amazing heart for the Lord & for other people. She is a phenomenal wife to Matt & mother to Hannah; and it is such a treat to see sweet, innocent Hannah walk in the footsteps of her mommy.
2010.12_ (92)
Hannah's first experience in snow.
Good thing momma was there. (December 2010)
Sweet Kates turns twenty-nine today. On days like today, I wish I could be home to celebrate with her, but I know my folks, Matt & Hannah are taking great care of Katie today. So dear sister, I love you (we love you) & hope you have a truly wonderful day, full of the ones you love. You deserve it. Love, Suz & Matt

P.S. Remember when I mentioned Monday that our hubby's share the same name? Here's a little "photo shoot" (taken before our wedding) of the two sisters & their Matt's by our photographer, who just happens to be one Katie's best friends. Speaking of our wedding, here's a blog post by our photog featuring some shots from our wedding. And if you like her work, here's her new & improved website!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Happy Birthday, Matt S!

Brother-in-law Matt & his little lady (Labor Day)
My sister & I have similar taste:
We both like to cook & bake.
We share friends.
We're both runners.
We swap clothes.
We love sappy love stories & chick flicks. 
and we both married pretty amazing men.

Our hubbies also have a lot in common:
Both are named Matt.
(To distinguish, we specify "Susan's Matt or Katie's Matt")
Both hail from the Western 'burbs of Chicago.
Both are musical & athletic
(that deadly combo had us ladies swooning).
and both of them are pretty darn great.

My bro-in-law, Matt, turns 33 today!
Matt is a gem & we are so glad he's a part of our crazy family. He's a great husband, loving father, talented musician, respected teacher, wonderful coach (he was brother Mark's basketball coach), & a steal of a brother-in-law. Here's hoping you have a great birthday, Matt!

Love, the-other-Matt & Suz
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