Friday, December 22, 2017

Friday Finds

Happy Friday!! Can you believe that Christmas is THIS WEEKEND?! Well, you know, sort of - I'm counting Monday as the weekend since I get the day off. My vacation actually starts today, and thanks to some floating holidays and work from home days, I'm not heading back into the office until after the New Year. I absolutely can't wait. Jeff and I are planning a couple of dates, and we have tons of family plans. I'm also hoping to squeeze in some relaxing and to finish a puzzle I've been working on. That being said, I'm going to take a little blog vacation until after the New Year too, not only to give myself a little break but also so I can start thinking about and prepping content for the new year! If there's anything you'd like to see, shoot me a message to let me know!

This week's finds definitely have a little New Year's vibe - what can I say, I'm in the mood! Plus, I found a lot of good pieces when scouring the internet for fun NYE dresses ;) I actually ordered that first velvet cami, and am thinking that plus a chunky cardigan will probably be the route I take - a little bit pretty, a lotta bit comfy. Or, as comfy as one can get when wearing a strapless bra!

So anyway, here are the finds for this week. If I don't see you on Instagram, have a happy holiday season!!

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Thursday, December 21, 2017

Our Paris Photo Session

While we were in Paris, we thought it would be fun to do a professional photo shoot to have pictures for our holiday card, and because whenever we travel I get home and discover we didn't manage to take any photos together. And when I say, "we thought it would be fun," I obviously mean, "I." Jeff played along and was a good sport though, although really the only planning he had to do was make sure he'd have a nice pair of pants ;)

If you're looking for a photographer, we ended up working with Tim Moore (after I did tons of Googling!) and it was such a good decision. He was amazing to work with and so fun too, he made us really comfortable in front of the camera. Plus, you know, the work speaks for itself! Here's a few of our favorite shots:

In case you're curious, I'm wearing this dress and these heels. Everything else is old, but here's a similar scarf, a similar coat (and another), and similar earrings (and another pair). Also, this is reminding me that I need to wear this dress again this holiday season, maybe to the holiday party we're headed to tonight!

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Best Holiday Dresses

If you're anything like me, you're so busy prepping for the holidays that you've completely forgotten that New Year's Eve is less than two weeks away! I usually end up scrambling to figure out something to wear (and usually to make plans!) at the last minute. In case that's the boat you're in, or if you're looking for a really last minute holiday party dress, I thought I'd take out some of the legwork for you and find a few options.

Back in the day, New Year's Eve meant finding the shortest, tightest sequined dress I could, but these days I'm all about leaving a little more to the imagination. If I had fancy plans this NYE (ahem, like my trip to Vegas last year) number one would definitely be my choice. Seriously, how gorgeous and fun!

We haven't actually decided on our New Year's Eve plans for this year yet, but right now the options are a fancy dinner for just Jeff and I, meeting some of our friends out at a dive bar, or maybe a combo of the two. So what will I actually be wearing? Maybe the same dress as last year. Don't tell ;)

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Blush and Black

Sweater - J. Crew Factory / Jeans - Gap / Flats - Sam Edelman / Coat - 1 Madison (I've had this coat for years and love it - currently 30% off!) / Belt - Halogen / Hair Bow and Earrings - J. Crew / Bag - Tory Burch

I love love love holiday dressing (in case you couldn't tell) but every now and then I need a break from the plaid. 


But really though, sometimes it's nice to mix things up. I've been reaching for this pretty sweater (I also own it in cream) on repeat lately - it's the right length to work over leggings, but still feels dressed up when you pair it with black pants. Add in a hair bow (because it's 2017 and we're wearing hair bows again) and you're ready to go! 

Since we're now less than a week away from Christmas, things have started getting really crazy. Between the parties we went to last weekend and a couple more this week after work we've been going non-stop. Luckily Jeff and I both have Friday off of work so we're hoping to take a little time for the two of us. I really want to do a wander through Lincoln Park to see the Christmas decorations, check out the boutiques on Armitage and Halsted, and hopefully get to Zoo Lights on a day when it doesn't hurt to be outside. In Chicago, it often hurts to be outside. 

I actually managed to finish up my Christmas shopping over the weekend, so now it's time to sit back, relax, wrap some presents while watching Christmas Vacation for the 47th time, and breathe in the scent of the pine candle I've been burning nonstop for the last few weeks. Bring it on Christmas. Bring. It. On. 

Sweater - J. Crew Factory / Jeans - Gap / Flats - Sam Edelman / Coat - 1 Madison (I've had this coat for years and love it - currently 30% off!) / Belt - Halogen / Hair Bow and Earrings (similar) - J. Crew / Bag - Tory Burch

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Monday, December 18, 2017

This Weekend...

This weekend I... super dressed up for my work's black tie Christmas party at Navy Pier. I wore this dress from Rent the Runway, and you guys, I've never gotten so many compliments on a dress. If you're of a similar body type (read: extremely busty) definitely give it a go, it's one of the only formal dresses I've ever tried on that seemed like it was actually made for a big chest. The party was great too! I had rather low expectations because last year our party was at the Field Museum and one of my favorite cover bands 16 Candles played, so I wasn't sure how this year could top it, but it definitely did. The space was beautiful, the food was great, and they flipped between a DJ and dueling pianos (a Jeff and Kristina favorite). Oh, and all of the spiked seltzer I was drinking probably helped ;)
...hosted our annual white elephant party, so really I spent Saturday shopping and cleaning. I walked away with some sort of contraption to put socks on your feet without bending down. For some reason no one was interested in stealing my gift ;) I used to go a little crazy whenever we'd host parties, but I've learned to calm it way down. This year I made a fancy holiday punch, but kept everything else simple with a charcuterie board, some frozen apps from Trader Joes, and chips and dip. Easy peasy.
...ordered this sweater I've been seeing all over Instagram, mostly because it was on sale with free shipping ;) I have a feeling it isn't going to work on me, but had to give it a try - it's so beautiful!
...after all of the parties, I decided to take it easy on Sunday and literally spent the whole day inside in my pajamas. Which, really, is my favorite kind of Sunday.

I hope you had a good one!

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Friday, December 15, 2017

Friday Finds

Happy Friday!!! I can't believe we're now a week and a half away from Christmas - where has the month gone?! This weekend we have two holiday parties, baking, and lots of gift wrapping on the agenda. And who am I kidding, probably watching Christmas Vacation four more times.

Here are my finds for the week:

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Week in Paris

Jeff and I jetted off to Paris the day after Thanksgiving, and you guys, it was amazing. I've wanted to go since I started studying French in middle school, so it was sort of surreal to actually be there. We stayed in Paris for the whole week we were away, which was great because we really got to know the city.

After a very small amount of research (because we booked our plane tickets three weeks before the day we left - pretty reckless for us!) we decided to stay in the St. Germain neighborhood, which I ended up loving. There were still tourists, but it felt decidedly less touristy than staying near the Champs-Elysees, Eiffel Tour, or Louvre. We stayed at the Hotel de Buci for the whole week, which was a cute little boutique hotel surrounded by restaurants and shops.

If we hadn't chosen the St. Germain neighborhood, I would have gone for Le Marais. I wouldn't pick Montmartre for a first visit to Paris since it's a bit further from everything, but for a repeat trip I would definitely consider it.


Visiting in November turned out to be the perfect time to visit all of the museums - there were no lines! Seriously, the longest we waited to get into a museum was a five minute security line at Musee d'Orsay. We walked right into the Louvre and had zero people in line ahead of us to buy the museum pass - crazy! That being said, after the Louvre we did have the museum pass in hand, which allowed us to jump the lines at a bunch of museums.

The Louvre was cool, but my favorite museums were the Musee d'Orsay, where there's a huge impressionist collection, and Musee de l'Orangerie, where there are two circular rooms with these huge Monet water lilly paintings. I'm an impressionist girl through and through, so it was really a dream to see everything in person. The Musee d'Orsay is also where I took the photo of the skyline with Montmartre and Sacre-Coeur in the distance - there were some beautiful views from the fifth floor.

Notre Dame and the Crypt
We visited Notre Dame (no line again) and did the climb to the top to see the view of Paris and to see the gargoyles up close - so cool! It was a lot of stairs but we were able to climb all of them without stopping - I did get dizzy on the way down though because it's such a tight spiral! We also realized our museum pass gave us access to the archeological crypt under Notre Dame which was really interesting - you can see the original walls of the old city of Paris.

Arc de Triomphe
And then of course we had to climb the Arc de Triomphe. I'm not sure how this compares in height to Notre Dame but it's a much wider staircase meant to have thousands of tourists tramping up and down, so I thought it was a pretty easy climb. The view was great too, you could see straight down the Champs-Elysees, and you're pretty close to the Eiffel Tower too.

Eiffel Tower
We walked right up to the Eiffel Tower but actually never went into the park! I would have gone in had the weather was nice, but we were really just looking for a view. The view from Trocadero (across the river) or from Avenue de Camoens was good for us! Trocadero is definitely the place to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night. We went one night to watch the lights and then went to Cafe de l'Homme for dinner, which is right next to the Trocadero, and had a view of the Eiffel Tower sparkling from our table. This was a little touristy and probably overpriced, but I thought it was worth it for that view.


I knew that the cafe scene was huge in Paris, but I didn't realize that it still happened in the winter! At least once every day we snagged a seat outside of a cafe under a heat lamp for some chocolate chaud (for me) and a cafe creme (for Jeff), or for a drink before or after dinner. The people watching was so fun. Our favorite place out of all the cafes we stopped in was Maison Sauvage, which had the warmest heaters, great cocktails, adorable Christmas decorations, and really cute decor inside.

Explore the neighborhoods
We went up to Montmartre, a little medieval village on a hill within Paris that has great views and the huge Sacre-Coeur church. The church was crazy and full of tourists, but I loved wandering through the neighborhood and seeing all of the artists at work in the Place du Tertre. We also had one of our best meals up in Montmartre at La Cave Gourmande, a tiny little place that was packed when we stumbled in and had amazing beef bourguignon.

We also loved wandering through Le Marais, the Latin Quarter, and, of course, St. Germain.

Find some jazz
One of our favorite things we did was actually a place I heard about from Gal Meets Glam - visit Chez Papa, a jazz club! We had our hotel make a reservation for us for our first night in Paris, and it was a great introduction to the city! They served dinner, which is where I tried (and actually liked!) escargot, and a jazz trio was playing the night we went. Just a note - the music doesn't actually start until 9pm even though it opens at 7:30. We showed up at 8:30 and were some of the first people there, which actually was great because they gave us a prime table.

I'm not usually a shopper on vacation, but we stumbled on some amazing boutiques in Le Marais on Rue de Rossiers and Rue Pavee so I had to torture Jeff for a while. There were also cute boutiques on every street in St. Germain that wasn't Boulevard Saint-Germain. We also had to stop into Laduree for macaroons (ahem, twice), and because I'm a basic b/blogger, I also dragged Jeff to Sezane, and then back again on a day that it was actually open (note: only Wednesday-Saturday). I maybe packed an extra foldable duffle bag to bring back all of our treats ;)

There are tons and tons of amazing restaurants in Paris, so I'm just going to share one standout. Just a note - Chez Papa was actually the only reservation we made in advance. If you're trying to go somewhere really trendy you may need to think about a reservation in advance, but we mostly relied on our concierge to make day-of reservations for us.

We were looking to do one fancy menu in Paris and love tasting menu, so our concierge suggested Boutary. Oh my god you guys. It definitely lived up to the hype. The food was modern french, so while we got to have a couple tastes of caviar, it was much lighter and more creative than the other french food we had that week. The most amazing thing was one of the starters, a little pot of smoked potatoes with caviar that they poured hot cream into. It was seriously one of the best things I've ever had. The restaurant itself is tiny so definitely make a reservation for this place - there were only six tables in the main room, and then it looked like there was a party room in the back. Oh, and oddly enough, Eric Holder, the former US Attorney General, was sitting at the table next to us. Don't worry, I made Jeff take an awkward photo with him in the background. Because pics or it didn't happen.

I'm always nervous to try the public transit system in a new place, but had heard great things about the trains in Paris. You guys, they were so easy to use. There was a stop a block away from our hotel, and with one transfer we could get anywhere we wanted to do. Besides the train, we just walked everywhere! We looked at getting an Uber once but decided to walk instead, and only took taxis to and from the airport. Pro tip: our concierge told us not to get an Uber to or from the airport, because the taxis have a flat rate no matter the traffic, and in an Uber you might have to pay for a surge or for sitting.

I took French in middle and high school, which was over ten years ago now, so I didn't remember a ton, but knowing a tiny bit of French definitely helped. We were told that people wouldn't be rude to us if we tried speaking French, and I found that to be true. It's customary to say bonjour (hello) whenever you walk in a store or restaurant. Some other words that could come in handy are au revoir (goodbye), merci (thank you), s'il vous plait (please), and parle anglais (speak english) or ne parle francais (don't speak french). I actually had to use that last one a lot because I'd walk into a restaurant and say we had a reservation or needed a table for two en francais, and then have to backtrack when the person actually started speaking in rapid french back to me. Whoops.

People did speak English almost everywhere we went though, and the majority of restaurants had an English menu.

Whew, that was a long post! Big ups to you if you managed to make it to the end. If you're planning a trip to Paris and have specific questions just let me know, I'd be happy to help!

P.S. Check out my travel guide for Southeast Asia.

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