Thursday, July 31, 2014

Two Ways to Wear JCrew Factory Mini

Shirt and Skirt - JCrew Factory / Belt - Old Navy / Watch - Michael Kors (similar) / Sandals - Target (similar)

Are you sick of this skirt yet?  Because I'm not!  It is definitely still on heavy rotation for me.  Today I'm partnering with Jacquelyn from justjacq to show two ways to wear it.  I've already paired this skirt with chambray and a simple tee, but this time I decided to for a little pattern mixing.  If you're mixing patterns and still want to look put together, try pairing patterns in the same color family, like navy and white.

Be sure to hop over to justjacq to see Jacquelyn's full look.  I love that she added in a little pop of color with her adorable red shoes!

Linking up with Mix It Monday and Monday Bloom.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Gift Idea: Customized Cutting Board

Lately, my house has been filled with the smell of burning wood.  No, we haven't been starting fires or burning wood-scented candles.  I received a wood burning tool from Darby Smart and have been going a litttttlle crazy with it.  What's a wood burning tool?  It's basically a really hot pen that you can use to write or stamp on wood objects.  I'm totally addicted, it's fulfilling all of my childhood pyromaniac needs.

I was trying to think of a good gift for my dad's birthday and having some serious struggles.  Are all dads hard to buy for?  For Father's Day I gave him a bottle of some nice whiskey, and prior to that, most of his recent gifts have been giftcards or cash for him to go crazy in the hardware store.  Since he's always making things (check out this gorgeous huppah he made for my brother's wedding), I thought it would be fun to return the favor and make something for him.

To make this, you'll need a cutting board of your choice, a wood burning tool, and letter hot stamps.  I first lightly drew a line across the board to denote where the letters would go, and then laid out the stamps to get the spacing right.  Then I attached my first letter to the tool and got burning.  It takes a couple of minutes for the tool to heat up (you can tell it's ready because it starts to smell like hot metal).  Then I held the stamp on the board, tilting it to make sure I got all of the edges of the letter, until it started to smoke.  Next, I let the tool cool for a little bit, removed the letter, and started the process over again with the next letter stamp.  I then used the pen tool to draw a couple of decorative lines, and called it a day.  Add some cheese, sausage, and crackers, and you've got yourself a present!

I made another cutting board for my mom for Mother's Day just using the pen tool, and she lurrrrved it ;)

Do you still make gifts for your friends and family?

I received these tools c/o Darby Smart, but all thoughts and opinions are my own!

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Navy & White

Top - JCrew / Jeans - Old Navy / Sandals - Target (old) / Bracelet - BaubleBar (similar) / Necklace - c/o Anjolee

Seriously, the cool summer weather has got to stop.  It's so confusing, because I still want to dress summery (even though my new fall clothes are calling my name from the back of my closet) but don't want to be too cold.  Enter white jeans and a sweatshirt top.  White jeans just say warm weather to me, and while this top is a sweatshirt, it has eyelet on the sleeves which adds to the summery vibe.  Plus, the classic nautical combo of navy and white is just about as summery you can get.

Have you been experiencing cooler weather in your part of the country?  I still haven't fully thawed from last winter, so I'm hoping for more warm days before fall rolls around.

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Review: Biore Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser

Hey everyone!  There's no "This Weekend" post this week, because my weekend is still going on.  I'm currently hanging out in Florida with the fiance's family, so all of my posts are on auto-pilot.  Have a good one and I'll see you next week!

I may have a face wash problem.  There are currently about 13 in my bathroom.  I tend to really believe advertising for face wash, and am always ready to try the new big thing that will magically solve all of my skin problems.

Have you hopped on the charcoal beauty train yet?  Charcoal can be used to whiten your teeth, get rid of dandruff, and as a super cleanser.  I had heard about all of the benefits of using charcoal, so when I saw Biore's Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser I was excited to give it a try.  Let me tell you, this stuff works.  The face wash is black at first, but quickly turns into white foam so you don't end up looking too scary.  My face feels incredibly clean after using it, and my skin looks and feels great.  I can definitely see this replacing the other cleansers vying for position in my bathroom.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Three Tips for Better At-Home Manicures

image via

I used to have this struggle.  I would paint my nails, wait forever for them to dry, only to chip them the next day.  Sound familiar?  I used to think I just had really weak nails and was too rough on my hands, but it turns out that wasn't the problem.  I just didn't know how to paint my nails correctly!  Here are three tips to getting better at-home manicures:

  1. Use nail polish remover liberally.  For some reason, I always thought you had to wash nail polish remover off of your hands.  So I would do all of the steps for an at-home manicure, use nail polish remover to get my nails really clean before I put on polish, and then wash and dry my hands.  Umm, d'oh.  You don't have to wash off the polish remover, and by washing and drying your hands after using it you may end up with extra gunk or fibers on your nails that stop the polish from adhering properly.  Just swab your nails with polish remover and start painting!
  2. Don't let the polish dry.  Seriously.  I used to let my polish sit between each coat, thinking this helped it dry better.  I was totally wrong.  When you get a manicure, they don't let your nails sit for five or ten minutes between coats.  Just make sure you're using thin coats of polish, and go right into the next coat without leaving drying time.
  3. Use the right base & top coats.  I used to skip base coat, and would always use no-chip topcoat, and my nails always chipped and would get dents or scratches across the polish.  Now I use strengthening base coat, which helps keep my nails strong under the polish, as well as quick dry topcoat, which helps my nails dry quickly without getting any dents or chips.  With quick dry topcoat (I prefer Essie's Good to Go) I only need about 10 minutes of drying time before I can use my hands again.

Do you use any of these tips already?  Have any other tricks for making your at-home manis look better?

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Denim & White

Dress and Sandals (similar) - Target / Jacket - JCrew Factory / Bag and Bracelet - Michael Kors

It doesn't get more classic summer than a white dress and a denim jacket.  I had been holding off on wearing this dress for the past month because I picked it as one of our engagement photo outfits, and didn't want to wear it before we actually took the pictures for fear of spilling something on it and ruining it.  I'm super excited to have it back in rotation.  

I wore this last week to go see Billy Joel because he seems pretty classic American summer to me too.  It was perfect for dancing in the aisle with the boy.  I made him take a little selfie with me before we left.  Oh, those summer nights ;)

Linking up with Friday Fab FavoritesSummer Style and Little Friday.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Best Way to Cook Brussels Sprouts

Do brussels sprouts gross you out?  I used to be right with you.  Brussels sprouts and lima beans were the two veggies I would not touch with a ten foot pole.  Then I met my (almost) mother-in-law, who serves brussels sprouts all the time.  Out of politeness I tried them once, and it turns out, they can be good!  Baked with olive oil, salt, and pepper, they are crispy, a little caramelized, and super flavorful.  Trust me when I say these are not your grandma's brussels sprouts!

When you're making brussels sprouts, I find that 4-5 ounces per person is a good serving size.

To make these bad boys, first preheat your oven to 425.  Line a cookie sheet or baking pan with aluminum foil.

Cut off any extra stalk from the sprouts, and then cut in half (or even quarters if they're really big). If the outside leaves fall off, don't worry about it.  I like to leave them in because they end up getting really crispy and delicious. Drizzle with olive oil and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Use your hands to coast all of the brussels sprouts evenly with the oil, and then spread them out evenly on your baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, stirring at around 10 minutes.  They'll be done when you can easily pierce them with a fork.  Serve them hot and enjoy!

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Blazer + Boyfriend

Blazer - NY&Co (old) / Tee - Loft (old) / Jeans - Gap / Watch - Kate Spade / Shoes - Sole Society (currently on sale!) / Bag - Coach

Last week we had some weirdly cool weather in Chicago, which meant that jeans and the blazer came back into play.  I wore this out for what was supposed to be one drink last week, which somehow turned into five martinis and shutting down the bar.  Sometimes these things happen.

Linking up with Tuesday PrettiesStyle Sessions and Stylish Tuesday.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

This Weekend...

This weekend I...

...Went to a wedding for two of our good friends down at the Planetarium.  The skyline view from there is gorgeous.  Watch out, our engagement photos were taken in the same spot, so this is a little preview ;)
...Because of the wedding, we got to hang out with a lot of friends from out of town (and a couple from out of the country).  Sadly, those currently living abroad have not managed to pick up accents.
...Went to see Billy Joel on Friday night at Wrigley.  Jeff's boss gifted us the tickets, and the seats were freaking amazing.  More Piano Man, please!  It brought back lots of college memories of going to see U of I's own piano man every Tuesday, and lots of more unfortunate memories of drinking $2 long islands at the shows.
...Accidentally shopped the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale thanks to everyone's favorites posts, and maybe picked up these little beauties.
...Finished up the design for our wedding website!  And also started thinking that maybe I will do the design for our invites and whatnot myself.  I was going to definitely hire a designer because it's kind of hard to design things for yourself, but I'm starting to change my mind.
...Went out to Barn & Company with a few friends and remembered how much I like/miss Lincoln Park.  I may live in the South Loop, but I'm definitely still a north-sider at heart!

I hope you had a good one!

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Current Pinsperations

Happy Friday!  I'm pretty excited for this weekend, tonight we're going to see Billy Joel at Wrigley Field and tomorrow we have another wedding.  I haven't shared my inspirations lately, but have been going kind of crazy on Pinterest so I had to share:

All images via my Pinterest page.

What's been pinspiring you?

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Thursday, July 17, 2014


Tank and Belt - Old Navy / Shorts & Jacket - JCrew Factory / Sandals - Payless (similar) / Necklace - Stella & Dot / Bracelet - Michael Kors / Watch - Kate Spade / Earrings - c/o Shopbevel

The pineapple trend has hit in a big way.  I was resisting it, until I found these adorable shorts from JCrew Factory.  This may be a bold statement, but I think I'm ready to name them the most flattering shorts in the world.  I usually hate higher-waisted items because I'm already pretty short-waisted, but somehow these work.  And I mean, who can say no to the print?  I wore this for a day of running errands and was going to wear this to our night at Ravinia last weekend, but the temperature dropped right before I left for the train, so I opted for some cute printed pants instead.  Always the struggle in Chicago.

Linking up with Flashback FridayMonday Bloom and Friday Fab Favorites.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sautéed Chicken with Tomato Pan Sauce

You guys, this is probably the most legit meal I've ever cooked.  The flavors were complex, and the chicken was perfectly done.  It really made an at-home date night Jeff and I had a couple of weeks ago feel like a real date.  You know that commercial for Barilla Meals for Two where they start cooking and then one of them turns on music, they open a bottle of wine and light some candles?  That. Really. Happened.

Usually when I cook, I feel like I'm still making "college-y" meals.  If I don't have shallots, for example, I'll toss in an onion instead, or if I'm somehow out of onions I just leave them out all together.  Cutting corners always seems like a good idea in the moment, but leads to less satisfactory meals.  This recipe took a little longer than my usual weeknight routine of tossing a chicken breast into the toaster oven and adding some barbecue sauce (or let's be even more real, heating a frozen pizza), but it was definitely, definitely worth it.  Plus, the recipe called for wine, which meant I got to enjoy a little "chef juice" while I worked.  Win win win.

Sautéed Chicken with Tomato Pan Sauce (adapted from Keepers)
Serves 4

You'll Need:
4 bone in chicken thighs with skin
1 TB olive oil
4 TB unsalted butter, divided
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
One handful of fresh basil, chopped
Salt and pepper

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and 1 TB butter over medium-high heat until the foam from the butter begins to subside.  Generously season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides, then add to pan skin-side down.  Cook until it is golden brown, about 6 minutes.  Turn the chicken over, reduce the heat to medium, and cover the pan.  Cook until cooked through, 10-15 minutes.  Transfer chicken to a platter and tent with aluminum foil.

Pour off all but one TB of fat from the pan and return to medium heat.  Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the wine, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan, and simmer until most of the wine has evaporated.  Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring often and pressing down on them with the back of a spoon, until they start to break down, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the basil and remaining butter.  

Serve the chicken topped with your sauce, along with a fresh summer vegetable like asparagus.

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