Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I heart girlfriends =)

Again, I have to be cheesy and sappy and give a shout out to my awesome girlfriends =)  Last night, we were supposed to have a DWTS-watching party (which I was looking forward to so I could write my synopsis and predict who was going home today!) and I hadn't seem these ladies in a while.

Sooo...we open a bottle of wine, eat some cheese and crackers (okay...a LOT of cheese!) and start chit chatting to catch up before we turn on the TV.

The next thing you know, it's 10:30, we've gone through half a block of cheddar, a whole bottle of wine and we haven't even left the kitchen!  And you know what?  I think that's better than watching some silly TV show about dancing celebrities =)

So, shout out to those of you who were there last night =)  I had a blasty blast and it was great to catch up!  Sorry I have no synopsis to provide for today, but I think my soul is much more fulfilled this way =)

Maybe I'll have a chance to catch up before the results show tonight, but if not, stay tuned to next week when I may (or may not) provide my "expert" opinion on those who survived to dance another week.  But I would totally be up for another girl pow wow too =)

Love ya'll!!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

One of my newest obsessions...

Alrighty - I'm an incredibly "brand loyal" person and I love to rant and rave about products when I believe in them.  I feel it's my duty as a consumer to spread the word about great products, because (let's be honest) there are so many bad products out there...let's here it for the good ones!  So here we go.

I am newly obsessed...OB-SESSED...with Chobani Greek Yogurt.

Have you seen these little guys in the grocery store?  If you haven't had them, I strongly encourage you to try them!  They are FABULOUS!  They're basically just plain low-fat or fat-free (depending on the variety) greek yogurt with fruit on the bottom.  Seems simple, right?  But no...they must be doing something different...they're heavenly =)

(Side Note:  I am NOT a big fan of your typical "fruit on the bottom" yogurt...it has always sort of grossed me out, but Chobani is not like any other I've had before - it's super yum and I can tell the fruit is real and fresh.)

I started getting really "in" to greek yogurt just over a year ago...it's another one of those "super foods" that can be super high in protein but low in fat and calories.  I've also gotten the hubs hooked on it - we use it as a substitute in recipes for sour cream, cream cheese, whole milk...and it's delicious and good for you!

I was initially intrigued by Chobani when I kept seeing these super cute commercials for them all over the place (I'm the type of consumer that commercials are made for...if the commercial is cute or clever, I will try your product.  Keep spending the money on advertising!). 

So I bought a few for me and the hubs...we liked them.  They were yummy...but there are so many varieties of greek yogurt out there, I wasn't sold that this was going to be one of my "loyalty" brands.

That being said, it takes more than advertising and a "yummy" product to push me over the edge from "pleasantly satisfied" consumer to "OMG I must shout from the hills how much I love this product" consumer.  Chobani has earned a shout out - and here's why.
 My favorite flavors are Peach and Pineapple (showcased above) and on one particular day last week, I was excited to enjoy a peach Chobani as my mid-morning snack.  I pulled open my Chobani lid and stirred, excited to get the peachy goodness below well incorporated...when much to my dismay...what do I find...

...but a PLAIN Chobani!  No peaches!  Seriously!!  I was so upset...at first I tried to eat the yogurt plain, but I couldn't do it.  Needless to say, I was incredibly disappointed as I threw my dud of a Chobani away.

As the day progressed I got more and more disappointed about the fact that I had purchased a flawed product, so, being the helpful consumer I am, I went on their website and submitted a constructive complaint.

Now, I'm not the type of person who goes off on a company because of one bad experience.  These things happen...and I wait until a company actively angers me before I pull out the big guns.  I've found that you can tell a lot about how companies operate based on how they respond to constructive criticism (I no longer buy Special K / Kelloggs brand for this reason...HORRIBLE customer service!).  So, I told Chobani that I was a new fan, but explained what happened.

And this is where the "I MUST SHOUT FROM THE ROOFTOPS HOW GREAT CHOBANI IS" moment happened.  They responded to me within 5 minutes of my email!!!  They asked for a special code at the bottom of my cup, told me they were going to report this to their Quality team (phew!), explained where the problem may have come from (fruit dispensing machine runs out before the yogurt dispensing machine), apologize profusely, and asked for my address to send me free coupons.

Holy awesome company!!  Now THAT'S what I call customer service...from a YOGURT company!

That was about 4 days ago...and today my hand addressed letter from Chobani came in the mail with not one, not two, but FOUR free Chobani coupons.  Who gets excited over stuff like this?  Me, that's who =)

So there you have it.  Not only does Chobani make some great products, but they are incredibly responsive and provide excellent customer service.  They have now earned a customer for life...or as long as they continue to make high quality products that I enjoy =)

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My "Little Miss Muffet" Experience

Not sure what's up...maybe it's because the weather is getting warm, maybe it's because we have an herb plant in the kitchen, maybe I'm just unlucky...but I've had several "little miss muffet" encounters over the past few weeks.  Seriously - these little clear spiders (I have learned they are called "sac spiders" and are quite common in Colorado) are all over my kitchen and living room...and they will just drop from the ceiling and dangle right in front of my face.

Scary?  Yes, very. 
Thankfully, I'm not a victim of arachnophobia, but still...spiders dropping from your ceiling pretty much will freak out anyone (the hubs actually was startled by one!).

I do, however, have a HUGE phobia of pretty much anything with an exo-skeleton and I haaaaate killing bugs.  It's mostly because of the sound and the feeling...I just don't like it.  And I kinda feel bad for them...I know spiders aren't out to hurt us and they just want to eat bugs and stuff...but still...please stay out of my kitchen and stop "dropping in" on me while I'm cooking!

That's all.  I just needed to share.  I had a "little miss muffet" encounter this morning and it's all I could think about on the way to work.

And for those of you looking for your educational fix, here's an interesting PDF about common spiders you may find in your home in Colorado.  Yay.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

First Episode = LOVED it!

Did you watch DWTS last night?  If you didn't and you're totally bummed you missed it, you can catch the full replay on abc.com.  It was super!!!

Because I'm clearly an expert (yeah right!), here is my synopsis on each of the stars based on their debut:

Chelsea Kane:  The Disney Star
 I had zero clue who this girl was.  She was surprisingly decent - her dress and the choreography were super cute.  There's something up with those Disney kids...they just seem to know how to pull themselves together for a dance on this show.  I enjoyed her Foxtrot and assume she'll be around for at least couple weeks. 

Hines Ward:  Football Star and Winner of the "Best Smile EVER" Award - as given by Nicole whenever she thinks it's appropriate =)
LOVED him!  Was there any doubt?  He was adorable during the shots of their rehearsal (I love rehearsal footage).  My favorite was at the end of rehearsal when he did a little "ballet entrechat" (jump and did a beat in the air) which was his tribute to Lynn Swann - a Steeler from the 70's who was also an avid ballerina.  Hines gave a great performance and smiled the whoooole time...I'm definitely looking forward to seeing more of his beautiful smile on this show!

Ralph Macchio:  The Karate Kid
Ohhh...Ralph, Ralph, Ralph.  My childhood obsession continues =)  I knew I would love watching Ralph on this show.  He, also, was fabulous (received the highest scores of the night!) and I was incredibly surprised to hear that's he's 49!!  He definitely doesn't look it...I would have thought he was in his early 40's, at most. My favorite part about  him was how neurotic he was during rehearsals - don't over-think it, bro!  Just do what your karate body says =)  I think he and Hines will be around for a long time...possible the final 4 or final 3 (at least I hope so!).

Kirstie Alley:  Over-eater and "Look Who's Talking" Momma (among other things)
Wow...SO impressed with Kirstie!  She has gotten such a bad rap for so long...but I tell you - this chick ROCKED it last night!  She moved well, had a great attitude (nothing makes me more frustrated than a celebrity with a diva-attitude on this show...Jennifer Grey - I'm talking about YOU!) and was incredibly entertaining.  She also has a great sense of humor...something I wasn't expecting.  I don't think anyone really expected much from her...I was honestly just excited to see how badly she complained to Max the whole time...but I'm now a huge fan and looking forward to seeing her again, week after week!  She could be a success story just like Kelly Osbourne (who's a total hottie now, btw!).  You go, Kirstie!!!  I'm cheering for you!

Sugar Ray Leonard:  Boxing Dude
Is it sad that I didn't really know who this guy was?  Now I do - I guess he's a big deal =)  It always baffles me when these crazy insane boxers have the sweetest dispositions and Sugar Ray Leonard was no exception.  During rehearsal footage he was so incredibly adorable and emotional - I just wanted to give him a hug and pinch his cheeks!  Performance was enjoyable - he was happy and smiley - definitely entertaining.  Probably won't be around for a super long time, but with an adorable face and sweet personality, I will be looking forward to him each week he survives.  We'll see what happens.

Wendy Williams:  Talk Show Host?  I guess...

Eh...Seems sweet and cried when she got bad scores.  I feel bad for her because I know this takes incredible guts, so I commend her for that.  The only time I am ever passionate about people getting off the show is when they have a bad attitude, and she seems like she's willing to work hard.  But still, next please...

Petra Nemcova:  Super Model and Tsunami Survivor
OMG - such a sweetheart!  I didn't know her whole story so I did a quick google search during a commercial break and my heart just broke.  She and her fiance were in Thailand when the tsunami hit back in 2004 - she survived by hanging on to a palm tree for dear life and ended up having a completely fractured pelvis.  Unfortunately, her fiance did not survive.  They showed rehearsal footage of her from last week when the tsunami hit Japan and I just started to lose it.  She was so genuinely emotional and just aching for those people in Japan...I know we all were, but she actually lived through it.  I don't know too much about this girl but she seems so incredibly amazing and sweet - such a big heart - it's going to be hard not to love her (she dedicated her performance to the people suffering from the tsunami).  Dancing was so-so but doesn't matter - I definitely think she'll be a fan favorite and stick around for a while.

Mike Catherwood:  Dr. Drew's Sidekick?
Yeeeah...good sense of humor and that's about it.  Again - didn't have an attitude problem so I appreciated that, but not so sure he'll be sticking around for long.  My opinion is he will be one of the first two eliminated.  Just not sure he has a big fan base to vote for him.

Chris Jerico:  "Professional" Wrestler
Dude - I am shocked.  I LOVED this guy!  Amazing body, great personality and actually showcased a ton of humility in the rehearsal footage (surefire ways to win me over!).  Plus - he was actually quite decent!!  Don't judge a book by it's cover is the slogan that definitely applies for this guy.  I'm looking forward to seeing what he has next, and it shocks me to say it!  Cheryl may have another winner on her hands (goodness I love me some Cheryl!).

Romeo:  Formerly known as 'Lil-Romeo'
Romeo and Bow Wow?  Nope...sorry...you're still Lil Romeo and Lil Bow Wow =)  He was okay - needs to get over his "I'm too cool for this" mentality.  If he can do that, I think he will go pretty far - probably won't make it to the finals, but it will be fun to see this kid throw down some moves.  And I loooooooove Chelsea Hightower...I'm hoping this is her shot at a decent partner.  That poor girl has had some real duds in the past, so she deserves to have someone young enough to keep up with her and humble enough learn from her.  If Romeo can do both, I think he could make it to the top 6.  We'll see...

Kendra Wilkinson:  Former "Girl Next Door" - Now a hot momma
Kendra!  Seriously - you were a little disappointing!  BUT - loved her humor...I think her and Louis will have some fun this season, but I seriously don't see her going to the finals.  She was clearly scared.to.death to be on stage and watching someone that scared makes me incredibly uncomfortable...like I sit in my chair watching and it makes ME nervous.  I think that's pretty typical of "reality tv" stars.  They have zero acting skills, and a large portion of dancing is essentially acting.  I think she will get mega votes because of who she is...I mean people just love her and I totally get it.  She's super fun...I just really hope she develops a little more on-stage confidence so she's not uncomfortable to watch.  My opinion - she'll be top 5 - I just hope we don't have another Bristol Palin on our hands with the pity votes...

So there you have it!  My "expert" opinion on the opening round of Season 12, Dancing With The Stars.  We'll see how accurate this is...I'm sometimes very shocked by how America votes (hello...Bristol over Brandy????) but I actually think this will be an awesome cast.  Next Tuesday is the first results show, and I'm predicting that either Wendy, Mike or Sugar (should we call him Sugar?  Sugar Ray?  SRL?) will be going home...I hope it's Mike.  I want to give Wendy another shot to build up some confidence and have fun.  We'll just have to wait and see!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

1 and 1 - March Madness!

We just found out!!  (okay...we found out on Thursday...)

I am very very pleased to say that my BE-A-UTIFUL sis-in-law and AH-MA-ZING bro-in-law are having...

A boy AND a girl!

One of each!

One and one!


I am so incredibly pumped that they're going to have this experience and I can't WAIT...I get to be an Uncle AND an Aunt (...Friends reference *hehe).

Here's what's sort of sad...my first thought after they told us was "Oh!  You get to register for everything!  Little boy stuff and little girl stuff!  Blue and pink - yellow and green - baseball and ballerinas...everything!".

Is that normal?  Who cares - I get to be an aunt to two beautiful babies soon and I am so excited =)

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!  Buh bye, my loves!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Nicole's ABC's =)

I'm a copy cat =)  I borrowed this from Kathryn...who borrowed it from someone else.  Everyone should play along!

A:  Age:  26 (birthday is April 17 - mark the calendars, ya'll!)

B:  Bed Size:  Queen

C:  Chore you hate:  Not sure if it's considered a chore, but I hate, hate, hate, going through the mail and shredding the credit card stuff.  Stop sending me pre-approved offers!!  I know too many people who have been victims of identity theft because of this and I also think of the HUGE waste of paper...
D:  Dogs:  Polly - aka "the hero" =)

E:  Essential start to your day:  Ryn-copy-cat - I MUST eat breakfast or it's game over for all the other people I encounter during the day.

F:  Favorite color:  Hmmm...either spring green (bridesmaid dresses, heyo!) or orange.  Both make me happy.

G:  Gold or silver:  Uh silver, most def.

H:  Height:  60.25 inches...or 5'0.25" this is a shock to most people - yes I'm just barely able to stand in the shallow end.

I:  Instruments you can play:  Air guitar (I rock it) and the flute (for real!).

J:  Job title:  HR says "Sales Support Consultant", business cards say "Manager, Clinical Vision Center" and boss say "Strategic Marketing Program Coordinator"...so who knows =)

K:  Kids:  Not yet - but I'm going to be an aunt soon so we'll see...

L:  Live:  Denver, CO - loving my Rocky Mountain Sunrise.

M:  Mom's name:  Marianne

N:  Nicknames:  P-Doo, Pikachu, Nicoley Poley, Mrs. Felice (yes - that's actually a nickname)

O:  Overnight hospital stays:  Nope!  Never...I'm super duper lucky.

P:  Pet peeve:  Gosh - too many to name.  At work - people who cough disgustingly loudly and then SPIT into a handkerchief at their desk (this is a daily occurrence).  Also, people who don't say 'thank you'; being 'told' to do something instead of 'asked' to do something; giggling girls at the gym...the list goes on... 

Q:  Quote from a movie:  "So, how does it happen, great love?  Nobody knows...but what I can tell you is that it happens in the blink of an eye.  One moment, you're enjoying your life, and the next, you're wondering how you ever lived without them"  - Hitch (sentimental reasons - first date with the hubs *smiley*)

R:  Righty or lefty:  Righty tighty

S:  Siblings:  Two awesome little bros =)

T:  Time you wake up:  Between 5:30 and 6:30 on weekdays (depending on my schedule)

U:  Underwear:  Uh...yeah?

V:  Vegetables you dislike:  I am huge fan of veggies, but the one that I just can't get into is sweet potatoes/yams.  I've tried them in so many forms (french fries, casseroles, baked, etc.) and I just can't stand them, despite my best efforts.

W:  What makes you run late:  Not fitting into my clothes and my hair.  I have to try everything on a billion times to make sure it still feels comfortable and doesn't pull/ride up when I move...the joys of being overweight...yay.  And my hair does weird things sometimes...

X:  X-rays:  Besides my teeth, I had a scan of my knee done in high school to see if I had any fractures after a dance injury.  It was the first time I'd ever seen my bones on an x-ray and I thought it was the coolest thing EVER!  Thankfully, I was fracture-free...and the streak continues =)

Y:  Yummy food you make:  All forms of pasta/sauce.  Most recently, I made braised short ribs that the hubs said was the best he'd ever had (tall order for my foodie husband).  We've also been chowing down on an augmented "italian sausage and peppers" recipe that's waaaay healthier than the original.

Z:  Zoo favorite animal:  Pygmy hippo!!!  Have you seen them?  They're adorable!!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Real quick - two things...

These are totally unrelated, but I've got two things for ya.

First of all, everyone...and I seriously mean everyone at my office is pregnant.  Or just had a baby.  And being surrounded by all these mommies who can't wait to take maternity leave and get back to work have seriously been causing me a lot of anxiety.  I'm not sure why, but I get super duper emotional every time I get another pregnancy announcement at work.  I don't even like some of these people!!!

I've also been getting super emotional every time I talk to, text, email, etc. my girfriends back home who have just had babies.  The worst is when I see/hear about daddy/daughter time.  Oh goodness...

...turns out I can't even type about daddy/daughter time without getting emotional.  Sheesh.

I know we're not ready to start expanding our family just yet, but my goodness...if I know we're not there yet and I'm already this much of a wreck at the topic of babies, then I can't imagine what an emotional mess I'm going to be when the time is right!

Oh - and Marc's brother/sister-in-law are pregnant.  With twins.  Did I mention that?  They actually find out the sex this week, and Marc and I are totally on pins and needles about it.  I'm CON-VINCED they're having 2 boys.  Marc is AB-SOLUTELY certain they're having 2 girls.  We'll see =)

The other thing, that is totally unrelated, is how incredibly thankful I am for my own little family - including our newest member, Polly.  We had a little "incident" the other night where Polly's ferocious barking at 1am ultimately lead to the arrest of a felon.  I actually called 911 this time when I went to door to investigate and saw a man "working" on our neighbors Acura TSX in the driveway.  Turns out he was trying to steal the tires and some other stuff.

Polly to the rescue =)  If she hadn't been barking and growling up a storm, I would have never known and our neighbors would have been very sad when they went to leave for work the next morning.

Obviously, there's more to the story and we all  know how I can rant for hours, so I'll save you the details and just have you know that our Polly purchase back in December is more worth it every single day.  If you're hoping to get a pup (or a cat or a fish or a hamster or anything) in the future to make your days a little brighter, do it.  We have never regretted getting a puppy for a second and now that she's a local hero, our neighbors are thankful we did too =)

So there it is.  My super random "two things."  Hope everyone is having a great weekend!!
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