1 Cakes & Louie: 2013

Friday, December 27, 2013


Hello friends! I have officially been sick for my entire week off, so that was kind of a bummer, but I did my best to not let it hold me down. How was your Christmas? Ours was honestly mediocre, but there were plenty of great moments to make up for the not so great. The best part? The hubs and I decided to have Christmas morning at home, just the 2 of us, for the first time in our entire relationship, and it was FANTASTIC. We slept late (well, I did), opened presents in our Christmas pajamas while we drank tea out of reindeer mugs, ate breakfast together and relished what was potentially our last Christmas in this little first house of ours.

In other fantastic news, my brother and sister-in-law made it to town with my adorable baby nephew in tow, and I hogged him as much as possible and was totally in heaven when he took a nap laying on my chest. Babies are SO WARM - I loved it. The quote of the week would have to be from my mom, who said at one point when I was changing Jax' diaper, "He's been wearing that outfit for a couple hours now right? We should go ahead and put a new one on him!" The poor kid probably cycled through a solid dozen Christmas outfits in a matter of 2 days, but he looked insanely cute in each and every one of them so it worked out.

We have lots of cleaning to do around the house today to prep for the painting crew that will be here bright and early tomorrow morning to make this place look all spiffy for upcoming showings, so I'll leave you with my very own bit of holiday cheer - this year's Christmas card! I thought for sure this year I would do something a little more serious (considering we had professional photos taken in November!), but then I remembered that this picture from Bridget and Aris' wedding got more love on facebook than pretty much anything else I've ever posted, and I figured I just had to use it. Dan wasn't the biggest fan, but he earned major hubby points when he said "you can do whatever you want for Christmas cards as long as you promise you won't stress out about it"... and that was that. We mailed out nearly 75 of these bad boys with time to spare, and I hope we were able to give a few people a good laugh in the midst of holiday madness. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Week

What a week. Monday morning, my car wouldn't start. The hubs was already gone for the morning, but he was able to come home and jump it eventually. I went on my way to work, and then realized the radio wouldn't turn on and the gas gauge was on E when I knew it should be full. So I pulled over and turned the car off thinking things were probably just wonky because it was jumped... and then it wouldn't start again. So Dan came and jumped it again. After work, a coworker had to jump it for a third time. And Tuesday morning when it obviously didn't start again, we figured we probably needed a new battery. Tuesday after work we jumped the car for the 4th time and went to have the battery replaced. $120 down.

Wednesday the car started just fine in the morning and I happily went on my way to the office. After work itstarted just fine again, and all was well until something hit the windshield and within seconds a crack spanned nearly from edge to edge with slight curves at the ends making it look ironically like a smile. I was not amused. Another $260 down.

Not surprisingly, I insisted that the hubs and I carpool Thursday and again today, since I am absolutely convinced I am cursed this week and bad things usually happen in threes which means I've got one more surprise coming my way. Oh, AND it's Friday the 13th. I'm not typically superstitious, but this week has kind of taken it's toll on me and left me feeling a little extra anxious.

Thankfully, it's almost the weekend, and I'm hoping my luck is changing since I get to spend 95% of the next two days with my favorite guy. Happy weekend friends!

Monday, December 9, 2013

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

Happy Monday friends! We had our first real snow in Chicago this weekend and considering my car won't start this morning I am a teensy bit less than thrilled about it, but at least it's pretty outside. And thanks to my trusty iPhone, I can be on email for work until the hubs gets home to jump the car.

In other news, I had the best weekend ever. Friends in town, a really really REALLY fun wedding, breakfast at one of our favorite spots and my favorite girly afternoon of the year - The Favorite Things Party: Beauty Edition, hosted for the 3rd year in a row by the bestie.

Here's a little recap of this super fun event, which can sort of act as a guide to throw your own Favorite Things Party if you wish!

First up, of course, drinks! Bridget had an assortment of wine and I brought a couple bottles of San Pellegrino, but the real hit were these two holiday drinks she made. The one in the foreground here involved cranberry juice and Prosecco, and the lighter colored one behind it had cinnamon in it. Both were delicious, and I am nominating Bridget to send me recipes for both so I can post them here!

I always love going to Bridget's because she has delicious snack foods. These garlic toasts with tomato, mozzarella, basil and balsamic were not surprisingly my favorite finger food of the afternoon.

Obsessed with this little cheeseboard -

Another exciting snack of the day was decorated sugar cookies, which I WON (!!!) from local business Caroline's Kitchen Table! Caroline recently relaunched her business and branding, and to celebrate she hosted a giveaway for a dozen of her delicious decorated cookies, otherwise known as Sweet Caroline's. I was randomly picked as the winner by her adorable daughter, and knew that the favorite things party would be the perfect spot to showcase Caroline's cookies! Aren't they adorable?!

I told Caroline about the party and she created these little tags for us, which I thought were perfect for the party theme. If you need personalized cookies for a party or hostess gift, I cannot recommend Sweet Caroline's enough. You can view pricing and further details for ordering HERE.

After hours of girl talk, we finally settled in for the main event. So here's how it goes -
- Each girl picks what her favorite beauty product is that costs $10. If your favorite product only costs $6, you buy another product for $4 so it still adds up to $10. If your favorite product costs $25, you try to find a mini size of it for people to try!
- You buy one of your $10 product for each guest at the party. Because this can end up being a little pricey, Bridget always sends out the invite several weeks early so we can all plan for the cost, and she also keeps the guest list small so it doesn't totally break the bank. Usually, we end up with 8 or so girls, which means you spend $80 if you buy one of your products for each guest plus yourself.
- Everyone takes turns telling the group about their favorite product - how to use it, where to buy it, why they love it.
- As the host, Bridget always gets everyone a cute little holiday bag or bin to stash all of their goodies in, which is nice so you don't end up with a big pile of stuff to try and shove in your purse to take home!

This year, I brought 2 products, since the first didn't cost quite $10. I recently discovered Jenna Hipp nail and hand cream at Costco, and admittedly bought it for the packaging. I am also obsessed with lotion and carry at least one with me everywhere I go, so these hand creams were perfect for me. After reading about Jenna Hipp - green nail stylist of the stars! - I was totally sold on this product and quickly went back to Costco to stock up for the party.

The second little goodie I brought were little tiny tins (from the $1 bins at Michael's) with scoops of the rice flour "dry shampoo" I've been using obsessively. I'm telling you people - this stuff is life changing.

I always think about Oprah when we're handing out the goodies - You get a lip gloss! And YOU get a lip gloss!! You get a hand cream! And YOU get a hand cream!! I also love discovering new products that I likely wouldn't typically purchase for myself. Bridget handed out a lavender undereye makeup base that I'm already hooked on - a tiny little bit of this stuff brightens tired eyes like you wouldn't believe! Other goodies this year included the perfect purpley-gray Essie polish, a fancy deodorant, a REALLY great dry shampoo (used it this morning, loved not washing my hair on a Monday!), a face moisturizer I've been wanting to try for ages, lip glosses, and a hair product that I never knew I needed but am certain I'm going to love. Best way ever to round out a weekend if I do say so myself :).

Friday, December 6, 2013


Pave link bracelets have been taking my precious blogosphere by storm in the last year or so, and surprise, surprise, I really wanted to get my hands on one. But, uh, I didn't really have $72 for a bracelet. I've seen knockoffs for less, but still at $50 or more, which is still way out of the budget.

And then the ever-awesome Target struck again, coming out with a perfect knockoff of the knockoffs for a measly $20, and I was sold.

So let's play a little game, shall we? It's called Find the Knockoff! For real though, can you tell which one is from Target?

Yeah. Me either!

Spoiler alert - it's #3, and you can buy it online or find it in store right HERE. I snagged mine yesterday at the location by work and am extra excited to wear it to a good friend's wedding tomorrow night.

Happy Friday! May your weekend be as unforgettable as I'm planning on mine being.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


While major static would likely ensue, tell me this doesn't look like the BEST idea EVER.

I'm incredibly grateful that it's Wednesday already. I've been having a bit of a rough week thanks to dreary weather, a too-clear-for-comfort nightmare that woke me in a panic, an extra crazy project at work and what feels like another bout with sickness coming on. I just need to stay healthy until Sunday - we have a fun-filled weekend coming up that I've been looking forward to for weeks!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving for the Win

Wow. The long Thanksgiving weekend could not have been any more fantastic for me, and I hope that you are able to say the same!

After (accidentally) waking me up at the crack of dawn (literally) on Thursday, the hubs went out to get the newspapers for me so I could sleep a little more and wake up to a fresh stack of Black Friday ads - #whataguy. I brought them with to South Bend for Thanksgiving dinner and chatted it up with one of Dan's cousins most of the afternoon while going through everything and making my list. Now I know a lot of people had major issues with stores opening so early this year, and truth be told I was kinda bummed myself simply because shopping in the middle of the night with Dan and my sister while we blast Christmas music and wait for McDonald's breakfast to start is one of my favorite yearly traditions. I figure if other people don't want to shop on Thanksgiving/Black Friday then they don't have to... but earlier hours or not, I absolutely love it, and this year was no exception. We actually started a bit earlier than we originally planned by stopping by Best Buy in South Bend to try and get the hubs a doorbuster laptop for work. I was SHOCKED at how calm, orderly and nice the people were out there! We were in and out in no time, got exactly what we needed, didn't wait in ridiculous lines and most importantly - didn't practically get trampled heading into the store. Chicago area Best Buy's could really learn something from their counterparts in Indiana if you ask me.

When we got back to Chicago we picked up my sister, mom and aunt, bundled up and headed to Target at 8pm and then the outlet mall at 9. Outside of an obnoxious and overly peppy Kate Spade Outlet employee, the mall was a success and we were home around 1am for bed. Manda and I got in a power nap and headed back out the door a little after 5am starting with Sephora's $10 doorbusters (worth it EVERY year). After 2 malls and breakfast Dan met us out for some manly stores and Old Navy (worst line of the whole day, as usual). By 1pm I was about 97% DONE with all of my Christmas shopping, and I thought the day couldn't get any better until we got to Home Depot and I spied an adorable little 5ft REAL Christmas tree for a whopping $17... and then Dan said "yeah go ahead, let's try it" AND I GOT MY FIRST REAL CHRISTMAS TREE in about a decade!!! I was genuinely glowing and smiling so much that the guy who trimmed it up for me congratulated me on my tree (and probably thought I was crazy, but I'm ok with that). It's the cutest little thing you ever did see and I cannot wait to put lights on it tonight so we can hang up our favorite ornaments!

Friday night proved to be just as exciting as the rest of the day since I had dinner plans with a college friend I haven't seen in ages. He showed up with my favorite Starbucks drink in hand and we spent the next 3 hours storytelling, reminiscing and eating burgers until Dan and some of our friends showed up and the fun continued well into the night. It honestly could not have been a better evening.

After all of that I'm sure it's no surprise that I slept most of Saturday away, but thankfully I managed to get myself out of bed in time to spend the evening with our nieces and FIL. Sunday included some much overdue house cleaning, a stager coming by for a consultation thanks to our realtors and grocery shopping that resulted in us stocking up our deep freezer with enough meat for half the winter.

Needless to say, I am exhausted this morning even thinking about heading to work, but looking forward to the next few weeks leading up to Christmas and New Years! Happy Monday all.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

If I had a Million Dollars: Holiday Wish List

Tis the season friends! The season of caramel brûlée lattes in red Starbucks cups, having my space heater running all day under my desk, lots of family time, tons of cuddling under warm blankets with the hubs and Buddy Louie, pine scented candles and of course... insane sales and some of the best shopping of the year. While I tend to get a little stressed about finding the perfect gifts for everyone, and also have to force myself not to do the "one for you... one for me" thing on every purchase, I truly do love hunting for Christmas gifts for our families and friends, and this year is no exception. I've got a spreadsheet with links and gift ideas ready to go, and will be getting up extra early tomorrow to be sure I get through all of the Black Friday ads before Thanksgiving family time. It's the most wonderful time of the year!

And in the spirit of magic and wonder and shopping, I put together my yearly wish list - and surprise!! - most everything I want is gold. Shocking, I know. If I'm being totally honest, there are very few things I actually "need" this winter. I am in need of a few good and warm chunky sweaters and a new pair of slippers, but other than that I'm just oogling some goodies here :). 

If you could pick two items from the roundup, which would they be? I would 100% go for the phone case and the pop sugar monthly box - it's a bit of a splurge but holy moly... bananas incredible. Some of the goodies from previous boxes are items I've coveted for ages - imagine them just showing up as a monthly surprise on your doorstep! I imagine it would be like having a really awesome friend who knows you better than you know yourself shopping for you monthly and packaging everything up in a pretty little box for you to open and swoon over. I had a Birchbox subscription for a couple of years but found myself not using many of the monthly beauty samples. I have no doubts every last pop sugar item would get PLENTY of use around these parts!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Cheapskate Beauty

Thanks to my Upshot pal Gail's urging a couple years ago, I was introduced to the wonders of not washing my hair every day, and learned the power of a bottle of dry shampoo. To this day, my favorites are super cheap brands like Dove and Suave, but I will be the first to admit that they aren't perfect - they tend to definitely leave some white residue behind, and make my hair feel a little gross. If I remember to spray a big cloud of it over my head before heading to bed at night, it has several hours to kinda soak in and looks decent in the morning, but it could still be better.

Always one for a cheap beauty fix, I saw a post from The Beauty Department via Pinterest a few weeks ago on using stone ground white rice flour in place of dry shampoo... and after finally remembering to grab a bag at the grocery store last night I was pumped to give it a shot. According to the post, when rice comes in contact with the oils from your scalp, it becomes transparent instead of remaining white - many of the more expensive brands of dry shampoo are formulated with rice for this reason alone! So armed with a blush brush I never use, I dabbed the flour along my hairline and my part... and then promptly ran downstairs to rave to the hubs about how well it worked (he totally cared, I swear). Two thumbs up from this girl! I dumped a bunch of the flour in a mason jar to keep under the sink, and expect that this will become a regular part of my day-2-hair routine. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Faux Fur Weekend

And with that, I have found my weekend outfit. Is it Saturday yet?

Inspiration via Pinterest  //  scarf  //  leggings  //  sweater

Thursday, November 14, 2013

New Home Dreaming

It's incredible to me how much my style has changed over the course of the five years that the hubs and I have been homeowners together. Thankfully, it's changed for the better, with a newfound love for neutrals with pops of pattern, color and texture... instead of where I started with an overwhelming love for color, color and more color.

As we dream about a new house, I'm quickly getting excited about a clean slate for decorating. (Not to mention getting excited about having all kinds of fun things to blog about again!) I find myself more and more drawn to a palette full of gray, navy, white and gold, and cannot wait for the chance to transform our new living spaces into a home we can see ourselves in for decades to come.

Here's a roundup of some things I'd love to incorporate if the spaces are right -

I've honestly never put a whole lot of time, effort or money into lighting, but I am totally in love with these capiz orbs for over a dining room table or in an entryway, and the industrial pendants are perfect for over a kitchen breakfast bar!   //  We've never needed a media cabinet in our current house, but I'm hoping for a new house where I don't have to mount the TV over the fireplace.  //  These Ikea shelving units have been hacked a million times with gold spray paint, so I'm sure it's no surprise I want one.  //  I've also never put much thought into seating, because our teeny living room houses one small couch and the hubby's recliner, and that's all we have space for. How neat would it be to have a pair of chairs in a family room or one in a bedroom somewhere?? And how about with a funky gold ottoman to kick your feet up on?  //  And oh, that bed. We all know how much I love that bed

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Every year, I try to talk the hubs into a real Christmas tree just like the ones that mesmerized me in my childhood. My dad and my uncle used to take us kids way up north to a Christmas tree farm where we would bundle up, truck through the snow, pick out our own tree, cut it down and then drag it back to the car on a hayride with hot apple cider. Let me tell you, cutting down my own Christmas tree is one of very few times in the winter that I find it totally worth it to be outside in the freezing cold. And I miss it.

The boy has some serious allergies. And then there's Buddy Louie, who's a curious little thing and also suffers from some pretty bad seasonal allergies himself. So bringing a live TREE into the house might not be our smartest move. That being said, we have no idea if either of them is actually allergic to pine, and we'll never know unless we try, right? :)

This year, I'm thinking the holidays might be a little crazy considering we're busy trying to get our house ready to sell, trying to save extra and looking at things like storage units and moving companies... so I might push my yearly petition for a real tree to next year, when we will hopefully be in a beautiful new home with lots more space and the perfect little fireplace to put a real live tree next to. If I could have majored in daydreaming in college, I would have been the star of the class.

Oh and speaking of moving, we made the amateur mistake of going to look at a couple of houses last night, despite the fact that our current house isn't listed yet, and just as I expected, we fell head over heels in love with one. I didn't think I would like it as much as I did because it's *just* short of a bunch of the things I want - technically 4 bedrooms... but one is on the first floor, the potential for a finished basement... but not finished yet, a garage that's attached to the house... but you still have to go outside through a little alcove to get to it, the perfect side yard for a dog run for the Buddy... but not fenced in yet. But I fell in love. Hard. I realized how exciting that "almost but not quite" actually is to me. This house COULD be everything that Dan and I have ever wanted. We would raise our family there - no question, and it would be a beautiful thing to watch how we grow with a house like this over the years. I thought I wanted a house that I could just move into, paint a few rooms and call it a day. Who was I kidding? I want a house that is beautiful and amazing and perfect for us, with boatloads of charm and tons of potential for projects and lots of love down the line. 

And did I mention that we met the owner, who was nothing short of absolutely amazing? She alone makes me want to buy the house just so we can have her over for dinner in the years to come. She spent nearly a half hour talking to Dan and I, asking about our jobs, telling stories about her grandchildren and showing us around her lovely home talking about how she raised five kids there. To say we were both smitten with her AND her house would be the understatement of the century.

So while I watch my email like a hawk just waiting for the dreaded day that this dream house sells and it's not to us, I'll picture Dan and I, with Louie and our freshly chopped down Christmas tree, walking into our new home excited to decorate it for the holidays.  

Here's to Wednesday and lots of daydreaming!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Falling for Fall

I mentioned to the hubs this weekend that I feel like this is the most "real" Fall we've had in Chicago in ages. We've had WEEKS, not days, of weather that calls for sweaters and vests, a latte and a lightweight blanket. Generally, I'm not a huge fan of Fall, but I've decided that's because I can't really remember a time when we had one that was long enough to really enjoy before the frigid temperatures hit and there's a foot of snow on the ground. I'm kind of loving it this year.

Here's a little recap of how we've been enjoying the last few weeks.

Clockwise from top left -
We spent an early morning cuddling on the beach when we had our photos taken for Christmas cards by the ever-talented Caili Helsper. I've seen a few sneak peeks and cannot WAIT to see more!   //  We hosted the 2nd annual Friendsgiving with our nearest and dearest - I painted mini pumpkins gold for place cards and made my 2nd successful turkey, lots and lots of wine was consumed, and we played an entire game of pictionary without any heated arguments (guys against girls can get pretty intense you know). Success!  //  My mom and I spent Saturday evening in the city with a rave-worthy dinner at Frasca (definitely a new favorite!) and sundaes at Jeni's on Southport. To. Die. For.  //  We took Buddy Louie to Thatcher Woods for a nice long walk with lots of colorful leaves. I think we missed the REALLY pretty colors by about a week, but it was still beautiful and a nice change of pace from our usual Saturday mornings.  //  I got a bar cart! Finally! And I promptly styled it only to be told by our realtor about 2 weeks later that any decorative object larger than a bowling ball needs to go before pictures and showings of our house happen. I'm leaving it until the very last possible minute, but then this beautiful guy will be headed to storage until I have a shiny new house to display it in.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tufted and Navy and Beautiful, oh my

Emily Henderson's ridiculous, amazing, incredible sense of design just slays me. Every. Single. Time. I adore her. And she recently posted a master bedroom makeover that literally had me drooling when I laid eyes on it. Major MAJOR inspiration for my next bedroom here folks. And by "inspiration" I obviously mean "totally knocking this off as closely as possible the second I have a new bedroom".

I have to have that bed. I mean, I HAVE to. I have daydreams about a curling up in a beautiful tufted kingsize bed on a regular basis, and the fact that this one is a stunning navy AND HAILS FROM TARGET is seriously just absolute perfection. And can't you just picture my awesome new faux fur throw at the foot of the bed? I can't get over it. And the campaign nightstands with those gold geometric lamps?? I'm obsessed. 

In other news, as long as I can work out the timing, I will soon be the proud owner of this adorable little settee for a whopping $20 -

Tell me that wouldn't look stunning reupholstered in a funky pattern or a gray linen for a sweet little sitting area in that dream master bedroom?!? It's meant to be.

Anyone want to buy a charming little 3 bedroom house in a fantastic location?? I'm ready for a blank slate.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Cuddle Time

The other day, I got an email from my Upshot friend Gail (who's wedding invitations were designed by yours truly) that said "I know you want one of these. It's part of our thank you to you. Pick a color. Just do it." The email included a link to the infamous West Elm faux fur throws, and Gail was spot on in knowing that I really really really wanted one. I also appreciated her "just do it" because she knows me well enough to know that without that, I likely would have written her back and said no :). Have I mentioned lately that I miss my Upshot pals?

So after a LOT of going back and forth and asking Bridget for her opinion, I settled on the ombre mocha color, and a few hours later I had a confirmation from Gail that this gorgeous throw is on it's way to me next week.

People. I cannot WAIT to cuddle up with this thing.

Good luck getting me off the couch when this baby arrives, hubby. 

Happy Friday friends! Here's to the weekend where I swear I'm getting back into a gym routine. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Words of Wisdom

Ever since my time with The Everygirl didn't really work out, I've been struggling with thinking that I should have done more to remain a part of it. I have to remind myself that I have written the girls with a few different submission ideas over the last year and not gotten a response, and that overall, it just wasn't meant to be. I love the site and am eager to see what's coming in the future from it, but it just wasn't, and isn't, my dream. It's someone else's - and I'm thrilled that it's working out for them! - but again, it's not mine. I have so many other dreams and ideas and opportunities of my own, and one of them is becoming a bit more real this week thanks to a new online pal, Pinterest, and this little blog of mine. Get this people - I am going to design someone's wedding invitations that is NOT a friend or family member! A total stranger, who saw a pin of Bridget's invitations (now lovingly named "The Alexander Suite) and took the time to send me a note saying she loved them. A few emails later and here we are going over pricing and design so we can get started. She's halfway across the country which is a total bummer because we can't meet and chat in person about her big day, but STILL. This is exciting stuff for me, and I can't wait to get started.

Now don't get me wrong - I have loved every single invitation, program, menu, save the date and thank you card that I've designed for friends and family members, and I have no intentions of not helping others in the future. But to be honest, I haven't put a whole ton of time into trying to actually get any kind of design or wedding "business" off the ground, and this project has given me a whole new sense of motivation to finally start making this dream of wedding planning more of a priority, and hopefully eventually, a reality. 

Here's to beginnings. Happy hump day!

Monday, October 21, 2013

A little bit of Leopard

I'll just go ahead and let you guess which trendy little pumps I bought this weekend.

If you're looking to spend an insane amount of money on a pair of shoes, look no further than here, here or here... OR you can do what I did and snag a pair of fun kicks up at Target for a whopping $20 or so. They're online for $29.99 and currently on clearance in store. I found mine for $20 but saw the same ones at another store (though not in my size) for just $14!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Baby Jax

I realized last night that I never blogged about something super exciting that happened recently - I got a brand new nephew! And I'll be darned, he looks SO much like my baby brother it's crazy. They're in Florida so I haven't met the little guy yet, but I am smitten. A belated blog Welcome to the World to you, Baby Jaxson!

Yesterday, my sister-in-law posted this picture of Jax and I burst out laughing at my desk when I saw it. Her "why so serious?" caption made it even funnier, and I immediately printed it out, cut it out and put it up at my desk for a smile whenever I need it.

Just LOOK at him. Good gosh, that face! I cannot wait until this kid can talk.

In other news, I suckered the hubs into our annual apple picking trip last weekend and we've been baking up a storm with our bounty. Recipes to come!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Words of Wisdom

I had what can only be described as a complete and total meltdown last night, and poor Dan was stuck not knowing WHAT to do with me besides trying to calm me down enough that I wouldn't make myself sick from crying. I guess sometimes you just need a good cry, and last night was one of those times for me. I was emotionally and physically exhausted, and my body and my brain had just had enough. This also came after we polished off a big homemade apple dessert without bothering to eat dinner, so I imagine the sugar rush - and then impending crash - didn't do a whole lot to help me out.

I've been overwhelmed in general lately, and I suppose it finally took it's toll on me. I'm in one of those places where I'm realizing just how many big decisions come with being a real full-fledged adult, and it's freaking me out. I realize that about 85% of this stress comes from just THINKING about selling our house, and when I get this overwhelmed, I tend to crash and burn before I pick up the pieces, push forward and find the positive in everything that's going on. I could barely convince myself to do a load of laundry for the past couple of weeks, much less write a blog post, cook something decent for dinner or drag myself to the gym. I realized last night in my fit of tears that I need those things - I am hardwired to create, to write, to organize, to DO. Without those outlets, I am not myself, and I am in turn a big giant mess.

And so begins my latest endeavor - finding a little quote (probably on Pinterest) as inspirational words of wisdom for the week. I'm a visual person, so while having something moving written in a pretty font is simple, it is powerful for me. I've joked before about getting the word "blessed" tattooed on my wrist as a constant reminder to myself, and I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought about it a lot again lately.

Happy Monday friends. Here's what I'm working hard to remember this week -

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


I feel like my picture should be next to this definition in the dictionary.

Also, because of said excessive desire to stay in bed all. the. time. I am looking to invest in one of those snazzy alarm clocks that simulates the sun rising and gradually brightens your room. Currently, we sleep with one of the curtains open so it's not totally pitch black for me in the mornings, but that's super annoying when we're trying to go to sleep at night and there's a streetlight glaring through the window. I also tend to get a good dose of S.A.D. when good old winter rolls around and it is dark something like 18 hours out of the day, so I'm thinking something more "natural" than an obnoxious beeping or my song choice at the time would be nice to wake up to. Anyone tried one of these before?

Monday, September 30, 2013

If I had a Million Dollars: Fall Wish List

My mom reminded me the other day that she checks in on my blog regularly, and *ahem*, it's been a little sporadic lately. I can tell you about how I was sick for the last 2 weeks, about how the hubs and I are kicking around the idea of selling our house sometime soon-ish (I KNOW, crazy!!!), about how I'm designing a handful of last minute projects for 2 upcoming weddings, about how I'm working on a super secret project with the bestie that I can't share just yet, and about a million other things that I'm sure you don't really want to hear about... but all of that factors in to why this blog has unfortunately moved to the bottom of my priority list lately. Instead, I figured I'd try to make up for the lack of content with some pretty pictures, because regardless of how old I am, I (usually) still listen to my mother. So in an effort to get a little somethin' somethin' up on the blog... behold, a sampling of my fall wish list!

purse  |  watch  |  pillow cover
phone case  |  toms  |  carafe

I need another purse like I need a hole in my head, and the price on this makes me want to cry a little... but it's a wish list, and this purse is perfection, so deal with it. I made up for it with a super affordable must-have watch and a sort of matching phone case for my brand spanking new iPhone 5S (thanks to a gift card - let's not go thinking I suddenly have money or something). The hamper is so amazing I think I might require that it fit in the bathroom of my next home, and the candelabra is my favorite item in the latest round of Nate Berkus for Target goodies. So. Darned. Pretty. 

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


At this exact time two years ago, I was probably throwing up.

I did that a lot the morning of our wedding. I did it until Bridget finally said "Screw it, you're not eating today. Take another xanax and let's start on bouquets. You can try some more gatorade later." I love my bestie.

The hubs likes to tell people that I puked the morning of our wedding because my body was rejecting the idea of marrying him. I like to tell him how wrong he is - my body was so overly excited about marrying him that it didn't know what to do, and we all know that when my body gets thrown off in even the tiniest way possible, all hell breaks loose. Usually that results in throwing up, hence the need for xanax on my wedding day to calm myself the F down.

While that might sound like a recipe for disaster and not the best day ever, I'm happy to report to everyone that it was just that - the best day of my life, the beginning of my life really if you look at it in a good and sentimental way.

And here we are two years later. I could not be more blessed to have Dan as my better half (and believe me, he is definitely my better half). We have some high hopes for the coming year and I can't wait to see where it all leads us. It's gonna be a good one.

Happy two cakes. I love you more than I did yesterday.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
And if this crazy world spins itself down to dust, I want to be with you in the colors.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Happy Birthday FIL!

I've mentioned someone named FIL here on the blog before, and I realized that maybe not everyone is aware of who FIL is. Given that today is FIL's birthday, I thought it was as good a time as any to explain exactly who he is.

So, readers, meet FIL - my awesome, incredible Father In Law -

FIL's real name is Mike, but I've always been a little weird about calling adults by their first name, and when the hubs and I got married and I was officially a part of the family it started to be a little odd calling him Mr. Lawler like I used to. So I started calling him father in law, and he started calling me daughter in law, and we eventually shortened it to FIL (like Phil) and DIL (like the pickles, which I suppose is fitting given how much I love pickles). The little nickname has stuck enough that this weekend when I introduced him to my sister's boyfriend I said "and this is FIL... I mean, Mr. Lawler. But I guess you can call him FIL if you want." Adorbs.

The thing you might not know about FIL is that he is genuinely one of my favorite people in the whole entire world. To say that I was blessed when I scored this guy as my father in law would be the understatement of the century, and I would think that all of my friends, my sister, my dad and several others in my family would agree, given that they too have spent a ton of time with him and he tends to treat every single one of them like family as well. The fact that I feel 100% at home when we're at his house is kind of a given since Dan and I have been together so long, but knowing that I can bring my sister over there with me to hang out with our nieces and have dinner and she is just as comfortable is really awesome to me. When Dan, Manda, my cousin Allie and I were road tripping to Florida a few years ago and leaving on Christmas, we all went to South Bend to have Christmas dinner with FIL's extended family, and I know for a fact that even Allie (who had never met any of them besides FIL before) felt completely welcome. That's just how FIL and his entire family is, and I consider myself ridiculously lucky to have them in my life.

When FIL turned 50, his birthday bash was at the place that Dan and I eventually held our wedding reception. Although we had just started dating a few weeks earlier than the party, when I complimented the small blue Bolingbrook pin he was wearing that night he took it off, handed it to me, told me that it was a very special pin and not just anyone gets to have one, and then said I had to keep it forever. Well I did keep it, and my grandmother pinned it inside of my wedding dress for me as one of my "something blue" items on our big day. It was my little way of making sure FIL knew how special he is to me, and I was honored to wear that pin given that hanging out in Bolingbrook with him has been a huge part of mine and Dan's relationship over the years.

So, FIL, if you're reading this - I hope your birthday is extra special and spent with a good bottle of wine or a seasonal beer. I am so lucky to be a part of your family.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Wish List: Drink Service

Confession time: I go on craigslist at least twice a day just to do a search for "bar cart" and see what pops up. I've wanted a brass or gold bar cart for AGES, and I used to just search for one randomly online or if I was at a flea market, but then my dream cart popped up on craigslist and I missed out... hence the overly cautious several times a day checks now.

While I love the idea of a vintage cart, there's just not a whole lot out there in a price range I'm willing to go for. Often times, the carts people are selling on craigslist hit well over $300, and given that we aren't REALLY big drinkers at all and this is solely a pretty and stylish purchase and not a necessary one, I'm just not going to spend that kind of money on it.

And then I saw a new pin from my mecca, and I just might be over wanting a real vintage piece, because this baby is pretty well near perfect if you ask me.

Ooooh. Ahhhhh.

At $129, Target's version of the classic (brass!) bar cart is a steal compared to others. I'd probably swap the wood panels out for glass or mirror, and throw a few bright accessories on there to style it. But see those gold confetti decanters on the bottom shelf that are totally reminiscent of something from Kate Spade? Yeah, I want those too. And given that they're crazy affordable and I don't actually own a decanter, I'm thinking I'll go ahead and order one just as soon as I can! 

What do you think of the new Target entertaining collection? Clearly, I'm a fan!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


I wrote a couple weeks ago about how I am making a more conscious effort to focus on things, rather than having 20+ projects going on at one time. This has been a little difficult right off the bat because I already had a ton of projects I was in the middle of, but I've forced myself (with a lot of help from Dan) to tackle things more fully before working on something else. Which is why the bathroom painting did not happen last weekend (sorry Mom), regardless of how badly I wanted it to. Instead, I've been putting most of my free time at home into working in our office, which we completely rearranged thanks to my beautiful chair showing up and my insisting it be set up NOW instead of kept in the basement waiting for our non-existent baby to need a good rocking to sleep. It's just as amazing as I expected it to be, and I'm looking forward to curling up with a book just as soon as I finish a few other projects around here. The new furniture arrangement in the office really opened the entire room up, and there's a lot more wall space now which is in desperate need of some artwork. I have lots of posters, patterned papers and random frames sitting around with nowhere to go so I'm definitely planning to work with what I've got to add some flair to the walls. And then, I promise I will share some 'after' photos of the room here!

And speaking of focusing, I've worked really hard in the last few weeks to combat the bit of "homesickness" that I've been feeling for my old job and to fully focus on how awesome and incredible my new job is. I've gone out of my way to strike up conversations with people I hadn't really talked to before, taken any chance I've gotten to grab lunch with a coworker, and pushed myself to work towards really excelling in my new position. If I'm being honest, I had some doubts in the beginning about my decision to leave my old job, and that all came crashing back big time last week when I heard that another girl from my old department that had left about a year before me was heading back. My heart ached for my old team and how much fun we used to have, and I had a bit of a panic attack I was so upset about it. And then I remembered that I made my decision to leave for a reason (several, actually). I was not happy very often in my previous position for the last several months before I left. I worked until a different time every day and never knew when I would be home in the evenings and the lack of consistency was killing me. I couldn't focus well because as fun as the culture was, it wasn't an environment I could excel in anymore. Quite the contrary  at my new job - People are so incredibly passionate about what we do... but they do their work and then they GO HOME (at the same time every day!) and work is left behind until the next morning. I feel like I am in a position where I can really make an impact and help with leading our design team into bigger and better things in the coming years. I look forward to going in every day and I'm not stressed about getting there or being there. It's turned into an easy routine getting up earlier, leaving earlier, and even dressing a whole lot nicer than I used to. Basically, I feel like I've done a really really incredible 180 in my professional life in the last couple of months, and I am so incredibly grateful for it all.

I know I've said this a million times lately, but as I fully settle into my new routine I really and truly do hope I can get back into blogging much more regularly again! For those of you still checking in, thanks for continuing to read along as I figure it all out.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Light & Bright

I saw this image on Pinterest a few weeks ago, and have not been able to get it out of my head ever since. You may or may not know that way back when (almost 5 years ago!) we bought our house, I went a little overboard on the color and insisted on painting our bathroom BRIGHT teal. It was, and still is, my favorite color, and I figured if there's anywhere in the house that's a good place to have a little fun, it's a bathroom. Why not, right?

And it worked for a long time, but deep down I always kind of knew that someday I would tire of the overpowering color and want something a little more subdued. Unfortunately, I still tend to find neutrals terribly boring and couldn't grasp the idea of a light bathroom with white fixtures - it just seemed so... blah. But then I saw this picture and realized that neutral walls are the PERFECT jumping off point for a moody dark gray vanity and pops of colors with accessories and I was sold. I'm still not going with white walls, but I choose a super muted color that's nearly white but has some grayish-green undertones to give it a little life. The vanity will be painted dark gray, the ugly silver shelf above the toilet will be switched out for some crisp white shelves, and all of our gray and white towels and the shower curtain will stay but will be complimented by a some bright accessories to round it all off. 

(this color is not at all a good representation of the actual current color, but oh well)

My mom is coming over this weekend to help me paint while the boy is at work, and I can't wait to share some "after" photos when it's all finished!

Monday, August 26, 2013


The hubs asked me last night on our way out to run an errand "honey, do you think we need to call a doctor to do something about your ADD?" While I know he was (sort of) kidding, he had a point - I spent a good chunk of the weekend stressing out about how much stuff we have to do but rarely finding myself able to focus on just one thing. Truth be told, I was diagnosed with a mild case of ADD in college but have never really found it to affect me negatively - I've just accepted my non-stop million-miles-a-minute brain as who I am, and for the most part everything works out just fine. This weekend alone, I attempted to clean our office, bought a new computer (that has to go in the mess of an office somewhere), decided I wanted to paint the bathroom and picked out a color to do it in, read half a book, and came up with a list of at least 6 other projects I want to tackle sooner than later among other things. Overall I realize this really isn't a whole lot, but the lack of attention to one thing at a time has taken it's toll on me. My goal for this week is to attempt to focus - decide on a project and don't move on to the next until I've finished it. Given how excited I am about the new computer and painting the bathroom... this could potentially be an insanely productive week if I manage to keep myself grounded.

Wish me luck ;). Happy Monday!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

If I Had a Million Dollars: Fall Wardrobe

Like it or not, fall weather is right around the corner here in Chicago, and given the mediocre weather we've had for the majority of August, I wouldn't be surprised if cooler temps sneaks up on us sooner than later. Given that I am far too lazy and cheap to go get another pedicure so sandals look cute and I have a closet full of long sleeves and sweaters but sorely lacking in tanks and tees... I suppose I shouldn't be too bummed that it will probably be time for light layers before I know it.

August is the one time a year where I feel like I sort of almost care about fashion, and that is simply because of the GIGANTIC September issues of magazines like Vogue and Elle that are full of hundreds and hundreds of pretty pictures that even Gap and Old Navy lovers like me can find themselves drooling over. Usually, I refrain from buying these issues because I know I will purchase very little of what's in them (if anything), but this year I've decided I'm going to treat myself to a couple and see what all is out there in the forecasts for fall clothing.

Ever the wannabe fashionista, outside of magazines I continue to rely on things like Pinterest for outfit inspiration. I have high hopes for a comfy yet casually sophisticated wardrobe for the coming season, and plan to do my best to track down at least some of the items in this little roundup -

Top row: a touch of camo  //  distressed denim  //  an oversized and insanely cozy gray sweater
Middle row: floral pants  //  the perfect white tee  //  graphic tees for under cardigans and blazers
Bottom row:  elbow patches  //  a comfy white sweater  //  a little bit of leopard

all images sourced from my Pinterest

Monday, August 19, 2013


Today is the big 3-1 people! I am officially a "30-something" and no longer plain old "30". I feel old, which is kind of a new feeling for me since for whatever reason 30 didn't feel that way. I have really high hopes and really great feelings for the coming year, and I can't wait to see what lies ahead for Dan and I.

We're going out to a favorite restaurant with a bunch of friends tonight, and I am already salivating just thinking about all of the delicious food I plan to consume. I think at some point I may also send the boy to the store for a big bag of tissue paper confetti so I can attempt my own version of the photo above because I love it THAT much.

Happy birthday to me!

Monday, August 12, 2013

And Some Picklesssss

In the last couple of years, I have developed a strange obsession with pickles. Specifically, the half-sours from Ted's Montana Grill, which has a location right by FIL's house. A couple months ago, I learned (by asking, duh) that I can buy little to-go containers of the pickles for a whopping 50 cents each, and needless to say I've stopped in plenty of times since to buy a bunch. I've always liked pickles, but I promise you these things are on a completely different level. And every time I mention Ted's pickles, Dan quotes the Dane Cook Burger King skit, hence the title of this post.

Fast forward to this past Saturday when I suckered the hubs into going to the Farmer's Market in search of sugar snap peas. I didn't find what I went for, but I did come home with a huge bunch of basil, a GIANT zucchini, green peppers for my dad, cherry tomatoes, peaches, an assortment of baby potato varieties that we love to throw on the grill in a foil packet with my favorite Stephanie Izard rub, aaaaaand... a bunch of dill and a bag full of pickling cucumbers! It was DIY time in the kitchen, people. And it was fantastic.

The pickling cucumbers were only 50 cents each. I originally bought 3, but ran back up to the Farmer's Market for 4 more in a fit of excitement.

My helpful hubby cut all the cukes into spears for me, knowing I would likely slice my finger open trying to do so.

Meanwhile, I was prepping my mason jars with one finely chopped clove of garlic and a few sprigs of dill each.

After chopping an extra half inch or so off of each spear so they fit, I packed them into the jars.

Then poured over a brine of kosher salt, water and vinegar, and added a few more sprigs of dill to the top.

YUM. Six jars of pickles that I couldn't believe I had to wait 2 days to eat.

Ok, so I totally didn't wait 2 days to eat them. Who's surprised? I taste tested one that evening and it was good, but not outstanding yet. But I brought a full jar over to FIL's yesterday (about 24 hours after making them) and polished the entire thing off with the help of him and all 3 nieces. SO GOOD. I ate another (abundant) helping with dinner tonight and they honestly just keep getting better. I'm planning to take some to the parentals tomorrow to share, and I definitely need to see the bestie in the next couple of days because she happens to appreciate pickles as much as I do. Thankfully, even with lots of sharing I should have a few full jars all to myself, and I assure you that makes me a very happy camper.

The actual recipe I followed was from my favorite - Annie's Eats - and it was a perfect coincidence that she just posted this recipe a few days ago. The measurements for the brine in Annie's post was enough for 4 jars, but it took less than a minute to make another batch for my last 2 jars. If you're a fan of pickles I would 110% recommend making some yourself as soon as possible! Happy pickling :)

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Prettiest Chair You Ever Did See

I've written before about my case of baby brain, but last night I took that to a whole new level. You see, thanks to all of the time I spend reading blogs and looking at Pinterest and oohing and aahing over fabulously designed nurseries, I have fallen in love with certain baby things to a point that is dramatic and unexplainable.

Like a very very very expensive rocking chair.

But oh, it's a pretty rocking chair.

And it was randomly on Gilt (and already sold out) a couple of weeks ago so I decided to just waitlist myself to see what would happen. And then last night I got an email that it was available and this happened -

Me: So honey... we need to talk.
Dan: No
Me: No for real
Dan: No. You're giving me your "we need to talk because I want to spend lots of money face."
Me: ...

Darn him for knowing me so well.

So I used a few bargaining points that I had carefully prepared for our conversation:
1. When we DO decide it's time to get pregnant and have to start shopping for baby things, it's gonna get expensive QUICK. Why not get what I imagine is one of the largest purchases out of the way now when we aren't super broke and stressing about re-budgeting for a bundle of joy?
2. Dan really wants me to breastfeed. And while I may feel different once I'm actually knocked up and have that whole miracle of life thing going on, I have quite a few (strong) reasons for not wanting to. But, I promised him a long time ago I would at least give it a fair shot because it means so much to him - and it's waaay cheaper than formula obviously. SO, if I'm going to be spending that kind of time feeding... well then I want an extra comfy and stylish chair to do it in. And really, bottle or boob, from what I've heard, you spend a heck of a lot of time in a rocker feeding the nugget and rocking them to sleep - better make it cozy.
3. I have googled this chair until I cannot google it anymore. I have read every available review online. I have seen it come back in stock on baby websites only to see it be out of stock again almost immediately because smart mamas are snatching it up. It's a coveted piece, and seeing as it's been on my radar for nearly 2 years, I figured this whole flash sale was a sign it's meant to be.
4. Um. It's gorgeous. And post-kids it would look just as gorgeous in any other room of the house.
5. The hubs has a recliner in the living room that I despise (and that's putting it nicely). Don't get me wrong, it is real good and comfy, but I didn't pick it out and it is also over-stuffed, beige, way too big for the room and dirty and old. Consider this my version of a slightly unnecessary but have-to-have-it chair.
5. It was on sale!!! We saved an average of about $300 off the retail price with the Gilt sale. Holler!

And it happened. My awesome hubs went for it and said I could order the chair. Whether he agreed with my reasoning or just wanted me to shut up is up for a vote, but I don't care because I am giddy with excitement over this purchase.

Friends, I present to you, the Nursery Works Empire Rocker. It's tufted. It's slate gray. And it's mine allllll mine!

Tell me that's not stunning.

Let's just go ahead and swoon together for a few images shall we?

I'm in love, I'm in love and I don't care who knows it.

Happy Friday all! I'm headed to my cousin's wedding tonight and I cannot wait to hang out with the fam. They're a good time, and I'm certain there will be lots of fun stories to come from tonight.

Oh, and for the 4 people reading this that are wondering. I am not pregnant. Promise.