2012: A Year in Review

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Ringing in the New Year in Playas del Coco, Costa Rica!

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Hiking in the Cloud Forest in Monteverde, Costa Rica

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Three Italianos Reunited in Brooklyn!

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Valentine’s Day Surprise at the Mary Poppins Show! I dressed just like her without even knowing.

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Celebrating Zack’s 31st at crazy Mehenata Bulgarian Bar

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OAR Concert with Jack and Sammy

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14 inch hair chop! Bye Bye. Thanks Nikki!

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Sweetlife Festival at Merriweather in MD featuring Avicii…AMAZING.

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Seeing Emily Blunt and Jason Segal at the premiere of 5 Year Engagement at the Tribeca Film Festival

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SKYDIVING!!! Thanks to my amazing husband – he surprised me on our one year anniversary with this bucket list item.

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Dad FINALLY visits us in NY. With Zack, Mom, and cousins at their pasta shop in Brooklyn

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DMB Concert and Upstate NY trip

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Virginia Beach trip with friends for Shirin and Shahrum’s wedding

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Testudo came to Zach and Jessica’s wedding! Go Terps!

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Happy Birthday to ME! Love my new camera!

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Girl’s Weekend in OC for Katie’s Bachelorette – Seacrets is crazy!

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Family vacation in the Outer Banks, NC

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Surfing Competition in the Rockaways

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Dewey Summer Send off on Labor Day Weekend

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A Naval Academy Wedding for Megan and JoJo

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Visionary Art Museum Wedding for MaryBeth and James

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Trip to Montauk for Mike and Abby’s Big Day

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Katie & Adam tie the knot at Sagamore Farms

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Running with Patrick and Melissa for my late dear friend John Petrovick. “Inside all of us is HOPE.”

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Thanks to Gabbi for helping to raise money for John’s cause.

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Camping trip with Erin and Rai to French Creek

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End of the season pic with my JV High School Girls Soccer Team

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ASHS 10 Year High School Reunion – man time flies

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AC trip for Alex’s Bachelorette!

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All my girls at the 5th Annual Pollard Potluck

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Christmas Morning at Mom and Dad’s

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Alex and Seamus get married to end the year!

It may seem like a lot of photos, but this is just a small snippet of what took place in 2012.  There were so many more fun memories of this past year.  There were also some sad moments as well.  I have learned a lot this past year, and I know that I am truly thankful for the family and friends that I have.  I am incredibly lucky for the support and love that I have received this past year, and I hope I was able to return the favor to all of you as well.

I wish you all a Happy New Year’s Eve.  Please stay safe tonight.

Bring on 2013!

XO,

Gina

Seven Fishes

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The Feast of the Seven Fishes is an Italian Christmas celebration.  The dinner features seven different types of seafood and commemorates the wait, or vigil, for the midnight birth of the baby Jesus.  The most famous dish that Southern Italians are known for is baccala, or codfish.  Italians today also incorporate many other different types of seafood into their meal.

My family has been celebrating this tradition since before I can even remember.  What used to be a feast at my Grandparent’s house for many years has now moved to my Aunt and Uncle’s due to spacial reasons.  The family keeps growing!  Christmas Eve is a night that my cousins and I look forward to all year long.  It’s a time where the whole family is together, we drink delicious drinks, eat the best meal of the year, share gifts, and take our annual family photos.

This year was no different.  We shared many laughs, pumpkin martinis, cherry bomb spritzers, pesto rockfish, breaded baccala, escargot, clams, mussels, shrimp (ok so we had six, not seven, but close enough!), broccoli, garlic bread, the amazing corn pudding, brie, homemade cookies, awkward family photos, presents, and silliness.

I always hate departure time, but I was able to end the night knowing that we would be seeing everyone in less than a week for a family wedding before the new year!  Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas.

Buon Natale!

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Your Favorite Holiday Things

Thanks to all of those who sent in your favorite holidays things!  I loved getting them!  We all have our own traditions and things that make the holidays special for us, and I appreciate the little peek into how you celebrate the season.

From Justin – @justin_goldberg

Favorite Holiday Treat:

Amazeballs – cooked by his wife, Jessica of The Quest to Be Cookie Queen

 

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From Angela – @acguaragna29

Favorite 2012 Holiday Present:

Finley

finley for mom

Favorite Movie:

Love Actually

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Favorite Christmas Album:

The Carpenters

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Favorite Cooks:

Grandma & Aunt Marie for Christmas Eve Seven Fishes Italian Dinner

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From Zigi – @zigisitch of ZiGiSituations

Favorite Place to Shop:

Macy’s Windows + Bryant Park w/ the fam

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From Olivia – @PressTerp

Favorite Holiday Tradition:

Decorating my trees…big and small!

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Thanks again to all those who participated and sent in your holiday favorites!

Today I am headed to my aunt and uncle’s house to celebrate Christmas Eve Italian style – the Seven Fishes dinner.  Clams, rockfish, codfish, shrimp, escargot, and whatever else today’s dinner will bring.  It’s one of my favorite days of the year where all of my crazy family gets together to celebrate, eat good food, drink yummy cocktails, sing songs, share gifts, and eat Grandma’s delicious homemade cookies.

Happy Christmas Eve everyone!  Hope you have a fantastic day!

XO,

Gina

I’m Still Here

I’m still here.  It’s 12.21.12, and I’m still here.

I realize the day is not over yet.  I realize a little “knock knock” on some wood might do me some good here.  And should I not be here later today, I suppose I should say my farewells.  Although it’s been a short stint here at popcorn and pandas, it has been a fun one.  I will miss all of you dearly, and wish you all a happy parting from this world if we are indeed ending our time here today.

But as for now, I am still here.  And I still have bucket list items to complete, Christmas to celebrate, a 90’s Christmas mix album to listen to (thanks awesome co-worker!), family to see, friends to hang out with, photos to take, a wedding to attend, and a new year to ring in.

I have packing to do and a trip to Maryland to take.  I have bagels and manicottis to pick up to bring home to the family (you are welcome Dad).  I have some birthdays to celebrate, a wine and pizza night with friends on the books, and a nephew puppy to shower with snuggles.  I don’t know about you…but I’m not quite ready.  I still have too much to do.

So I am going to stay optimistic about the fact that I am still here.  The truth is, we never know how long we may have on this Earth.  Forget the Mayans and their predictions about today, but we aren’t guaranteed anything in life.  Including life itself.  So today I am thankful that I am still here.

And while I am still here, I will take this moment to reiterate how important it is to make the most of what you have.  Make the best of your time here.  Do what makes you happy in life.  Your time is precious and should not be wasted.  You never know when your world will end.

But right now, you are still here.

Happy Friday and Happy Holidays to all!

XO,

Gina

The Lady is a Vamp

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Photos by: Zack Notes

Dress: H&M / Tights: Duane Reade / Shoes: ALDO – other black booties I like herehere, and here / Necklace & Bracelet: Gifts from family members / Panda Ring: nOir / Watch: Betsey Johnson / Lip: Kat Von D Homegirl / Eyes: MAC Knight Divine all over lid with Carbon in crease

Taking a little walk on the dark side with this vampy look from H&M.  I’ve worn this a few times on nights out on the town in NYC, DC, and AC.  Unfortunately, it’s tough to get photos on nights out due to poor lighting (and my dislike of the flash).

Only a couple more days in the Big Apple until it’s time to head to Maryland for the holidays.  Today we are having our office Christmas luncheon at a surprise location.  I have 100% finished my shopping and wrapping, so I can now focus on the packing.  Looking forward to a little holiday retreat as well as a wedding before the new year!

Wishing everyone well!

Gina

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

HOLIDAY FAVORITES

Favorite Laugh:

Favorite Movie:

Elf

Favorite Family Photo:

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Yes, this is my crazy Italian fam – Courtesy of Misa*Me Photography

Favorite Holiday Look:

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New Year’s Eve??? – Photo courtesy of Polyvore

Favorite Sweet Treat:

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Grandma Sally G’s Italian Christmas Eve Cookies – a family favorite!

What are some of your holiday favorites?  E-mail or tweet me your favorite holiday things by Friday, and I will feature them in an upcoming post!

Email: gina (dot) notes26 (at) gmail (dot) com – wrote the address this way, so I can’t get spammed FYI

Twitter Handle: @popcornpandas

Can’t wait to see your favorites!

XO,

Gina

Feeling the Holiday Spirit

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Red Cable Knit Sweater: Gap – similar here / Oxford Blouse: Express / Bow Tie: ASOS – similar with studs / Black Skinnies: ZARA / Black Suede Pumps: Cynthia Rowley / Watch: Coach / Bracelet: Bridesmaid Gift / Ring: Forever 21 / Pearl Earrings: Birthday Gift / Lip: MAC Venomous Villains Cruella de Vil Heartless

Photos by: Zack Notes

With the celebration of Chanukah last week, and Christmas only 8 days away, I am really starting to feel the holiday spirit! (if you couldn’t already tell by the red sweater and the bow)  My holiday shopping is almost complete, and this week will be dedicated to wrapping and packing.  I am currently trying to decide which Christmas movie favorite I am going to watch while doing so.  Some contenders on the list are Love Actually and Elf, but I am open to suggestions, so fire away!  Christmas tunes are blasting at the office, and we have our office luncheon scheduled for this Thursday.  What are you doing to celebrate the season?

Happy Monday all!

XO,

Gina

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{3} Lately…

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Lately I’ve been…

reading  Just finished Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn this week.  Holy intensity!  I would definitely recommend.  Also read the December issue of Health magazine.  Hoping I actually listen to what I read and start eating a bit healthier and getting back into my work out ways.  I’ve been a slacker.  Back to the reading…trying to decide the next book to open…I think I am going to go back to the Harry Potter series now that I got the last four books from my sister-in-law.  Nothing like a little magic around Christmastime.

writing  Still writing my Christmas cards!  Luckily, I was able to get most of them out this week.  However, I miscounted how many I needed, so those of you at the beginning of the alphabet (I went backwards this year) might be a bit delayed!  Oops!

listening  Cazzette’s Beam Me Up.  Nothing like a little alien take-over causing a city to erupt in dancing.  This one’s for you Charles.

thinking  About the Christmas shopping that I still have left to do.

smelling  Christmas Cookie candle by Yankee Candle.  Also loving the Warm Woolen Mittens scent.

wishing  That my tummy would stop hurting!  Stayed home from work yesterday mehhh.

hoping  That the bridesmaid dress I pick up tomorrow for my cousin’s wedding fits me like a glove.  Naturally being of my short stature, I needed some alterations. 😉

wearing  Lots of layers.  Although it hasn’t been incredibly cold so far this winter, I am forever frozen, and layers are a must in this city.  Today I’m wearing black leggings with a blue tank.  Black and white sweater overtop, with another multicolored sweater wrap over that.  Topped off with my bright yellow winter coat and Steve Madden boots.

loving  That the sun is shining right now!  A lot better than the rain we have had as of late.  Also loving that we are having some visitors this weekend.  And a maid is coming to clean before they get here, so I don’t have to tear my hair out.  Loving loving loving.

wanting  World peace.  Yes, that would be nice.

needing  Constant reapplication of hand cream.  The cold weather seems to dry my hands up so quickly!  Right now I am using Simply Clean from ULTA.

feeling  You ever have one of those moments when you just want to cry and you don’t really know why?  Well that was me yesterday.  Maybe it was a combo of being sick, stressed, hormones, who knows.  But just broke down.  Sad panda!  For no obvious reason.  I think it was just one of those days.  Luckily, today I am in much better spirits, and looking forward to seeing friends this weekend.

clicking  Through all the advertising trades this morning for news in the ad world.

What have you been up to lately?

Happy Friday!

Love,

Gina

***I was inspired by Tina of Like Ordinary Life to create this post, and she was inspired by Lauren of siddathornton, who started The Sunday Currently.

 

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Hi

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HI!!!  While browsing for sparkly sequined outfits to wear for my AC trip a couple weeks back, I also came across this adorable sweater.  I love the color palette, the comfiness, and the “Hi” lettering that speaks volumes to my personality.  I am the type of person who will pretty much talk to anybody, even strangers on the street.  While of course every now and then I like to  have my “me” time, I usually love being around others, the overall energy of people, meeting new friends, and hearing their stories.  My family and friends know that if we go somewhere, I will most likely run into somebody, and they will have to drag me along to keep me from talking to them all day.

Speaking of meeting new people, I went on my first “blogger date” this past Saturday.  I would like to introduce you all to Alex of She Is Red.  We have been “blogger friends” for a couple months now, and it was fantastic to finally meet her in person.  She is an Oregon native who recently moved to New York City from just outside Copenhagen.  She has a wonderful blog featuring fashion, food, and sparkly things.  You definitely need to check it out!

We met at The Farm on Adderley (one of my favorite restaurants in the neighborhood) for a delicious brunch, and then did a little photo op in Ditmas Park.  Five minutes into our photo op, we were just getting warmed up to photographing in front of someone other than our close relatives when we were screamed at by a psycho lady!  This woman came storming out of her house yelling at us to stop taking photos of her house, because there was no sex offender living there and this story and these lies had ruined her life for the past 10 years.  Umm…WHAT?!?!  First of all, we are fashion bloggers taking photos of our outfits.  Second of all, your house was not even in our shot.  Third of all, we had no idea about this “sex offender” story and had no plans to broadcast it (until now of course).  And lastly…you are PSYCHO!  It was a little bit of a shake up for our first photo op together, but we nervously shuttled off to another street with normal, sane neighbors to finish our shoot.  I suppose as weird as this incident was, it does make for a great crazy story!

Alex and I had a wonderful day, and I didn’t even notice how quickly the time had passed.  I am happy to now call her a real friend instead of just a blogger friend.  We realized we have a mutual love of karaoke, so I’m thinking that will be our next adventure!

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Photos of me taken by Alex.  Photos of Alex taken by me.  Photos of us taken by a nice neighbor 🙂

Please excuse our messy manes…it was rainy and humid!

On me: HI Sweater: Forever 21 / Floral Print Dress: H&M (old)  / Boots: ALDO -similar on sale here / Tights: Urban Outfitters / Bag: TJMaxx / Butterfly Ring: nOir / Bracelets: Wanderlust + Co. and BaubleBar / Watch: Betsey Johnson / Earrings: ALDO / Lip: MAC Snob

On Alex: Pendleton Coat: Vintage / Faux-fur Scarf: Vintage / Skirt: Forever 21 (sold out, but other pleated skirts I love here and here and also here) / Watch: Caravelle by Bulova / Necklace: Forever 21 / Bag: Forever 21 / Shirt: H&M / Boots: Acne

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And how cute is the back of the sweater too!?!? I just love it.  BYE! (for now!)

Enjoy the phenomenon of 12/12/12 today!

XO,

Gina