Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Wednesday Finds

Oh heyyyyy! Coming in early with my finds for the week because we've got a long weekend here in the U.S.A.!! I've got a four day weekend starting in just a couple hours, so I thought I'd sign out early here too. We don't have a ton on the docket, just hitting up the zoo again (what, is twice in six days too much??) and watching the fireworks from our roof. Oh and Jeff went a little nuts and got two giant racks of ribs to grill for the two of us which could get exciting. Cheers to the long weekend, hope you're doing something fun (but safe!) to celebrate!!

Here are my finds:

one / two / three / four / five

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Monday, June 29, 2020

June Budget

I share my clothing budget here every month. My budget per month is $350, which may seem like a lot to some people or a little to others, but for me feels just right. I include all of my clothes, coats, shoes, and accessories in that budget, but not athletic gear, pajamas, or intimates.

Weren't we just here?

I posted my May budget a couple weeks late, so it really feels like I just shared a bunch of purchases. Don't worry, I still managed to buy a few things since then! If you have a larger chest and are on the hunt for a new bra, I did just have to share that I just tried this one and am in love! Comfortable all day, and with the stretchy cups it's a perfect fit! Plus it's pretty, which doesn't hurt. Bras don't fit in my budgeting rules, but I thought I'd share anyway!

I'm probably most excited, you know, besides the bra, about these ruffled tank tops. I've been wearing them on my conference calls for work and have gotten tons of compliments. They're perfect tucked into a skirt or into pull-on shorts (like these).

J.Crew Ruffled Tank (purchased in black and white) - originally $49.50, on sale + used rewards $17.30 x2 = $34.60. Like I said above, so freaking cute! It's more fitted than most tees are right now, but stick with your usual size.
LOFT Straw Pom Pom Bag - originally $59.50, on sale $23.80. Helloooooo new summer bag! I didn't even realize it's a convertible cross-body, so the chain can be worn long or can be doubled for a shorter shoulder bag. I freaking love the pom poms, so cute. It's not huge, but I have enough room for my phone, keys, sunglasses (without a case), card holder, and chapstick/hand sanitizer.
LOFT Floral Pleated Shorts - originally $49.50, on sale $19.80. So adorable! I sized down because the solid black pair I got in May was stretchy and ran big, but definitely stick with your usual size! These are not a stretchy fabric. I never thought I'd be buying culottes, but you can't beat them for running after a toddler! I've been pairing them with one of the ruffled tanks or just a plain white tee. So easy and cute!
J.Crew Factory Black Denim Shorts - originally $59.50, on sale $9.95. Okay so I definitely bought these because of the sale price, but I haven't actually worn them yet. They just don't feel quite right for spring / early summer! But I have a feeling I'll get a lot of use out of them as summer winds down but the heat remains.
Daily Ritual Romper - $30.18. I realized I talked about this a couple times on Instagram but forgot to include it in a budget round up! It's so soft and comfortable, definitely my go-to for quarantine lounge wear! I suggest sizing down from your usual Daily Ritual size, it runs a little big. Mine did end up shrinking a tiny bit in the wash.
LOFT Weekend Sweater - originally $64.50, on sale $25.80. I always love a lightweight sweater with white shorts for the summer, it's perfect for slightly cooler nights.
Birkenstock Waterproof Sandal - $44.95. Oh my god I can't believe I bought these. But I'm a sucker for comfort these days, and saw a bunch of people raving about these so I caved. They're basically like Crocs, but look like a Birkenstock. I bought them specifically for wearing on our roof while we're doing water activities with Mia, and they really are so comfortable (and cute? maybe?) that I've worn them out of the house a few times too. I was worried that the white would get dirty easily, but I haven't had any issues yet. The soles are slightly darker but that's it. Just a note to go down a size! I usually wear a 10.5/11, and am in the 10-10.5 size.

Total spent: $189.08

Not bad for the month, thanks to all of those crazy sales!

I'm still looking for more easy, lightweight summer dresses (my fav for looking pulled together but still comfy during all of those video calls), but have nothing specific on my shopping list at the moment. July is usually interesting because that's when fall clothes start coming out, so we shall see - could turn into a crazy shopping month if history means anything!

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Friday, June 26, 2020

Friday Finds

Happy Friday!! This weekend we're letting Jeff's parents babysit - eeek!! It'll be our first time without Mia since the first week of March. Going to be SUPER weird but I think it will be good for her to interact with people who aren't us / deal with a little separation. I don't even know what we'll do during our baby free time - maybe go to brunch? Just sit and read in a park? Nap upstairs at Jeff's parents' house while they're with Mia downstairs???

We also got a reservation to go to the Lincoln Park Zoo (the outdoor areas are reopening this weekend!!) so I'm super excited to do something a little different! The last time we took Mia to the zoo she didn't notice the animals at all, but I think it'll be a different story this weekend. Guessing she'll just bark at everything 😂😂

Here are my finds for the week! How freaking cute is that Sunset sweater?! I keep telling myself I don't need it and I have a bunch of sweaters like it... but I have a feeling it'll be flying toward my house soon ;)

one / two / three / four / five

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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

A Summer Dress

Dress (similar dress, similar jumpsuit or a similar top) - LOFT / Sandals - Steve Madden / Bag - LOFT / Earrings (similar) - J.Crew / Sunglasses - Amazon

After just saying it had been nice not trying to shoot outfit photos all the time, it turns out we shot outfit photos! This weekend we were celebrating our wedding anniversary and Father's Day, so we decided to go out to the patio at River Valley for brunch! We hadn't been to a restaurant since March 7th, and it was such a nice change of pace. 

I was a little unsure when patios started opening up in Chicago whether I'd feel safe going to one, (especially since the corner bar across the street from us did not seem to be doing a great job with the distancing). But River Valley was awesome! They had plexiglass up to block us from people on the sidewalk, and they did a good job of actually spacing out the tables. Plus for the most part the other patrons did a good job of wearing masks when they weren't eating/drinking. Brunch tasted that much better since we've been cooking at home so much. I had to get french fries since those just aren't the same when you order takeout! 

Of course, I personally was super excited to have a reason to get a little dressed up and take my new sandals and bag out for a spin. My dress is from last fall (sorry it's old!!) but it's weirdly one of those dresses that works well in the spring, summer, or fall. I don't pick dresses often with Mia in tow, shorts are usually just more practical. But breaking out this dress made the occasion that much more fun. 

Here are a few more pretty dresses for summer: 

Are you still social distancing, or are you starting to go out and see people more? 

Dress (similar dresssimilar jumpsuit or a similar top) - LOFT / Sandals - Steve Madden / Bag - LOFT / Earrings (similar) - J.Crew / Sunglasses - Amazon

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Monday, June 22, 2020

Outfits Lately

Oh hiiiiiii!! Have you missed the STYLE part of this life & style blog?! It's actually been nice not to shoot outfits every weekend, but I do kinda miss it. I've been sharing a lot of my daily outfits on Instagram Stories instead, and thought I'd round up a few of them here for you. Good news - J.Crew and Madewell are allowing me to link stuff again, so I can share a lot more direct links than I've been sharing on Instagram!

Tee (or similar) / Shorts (I unrolled these once to get a tiny bit more length) / Mia's Romper (it came with pretty terrible bows, I snipped them off!) / Mia's Hair Bow

My best quarantine purchase - a super soft romper for lounging! Would also be cute with a denim jacket and sandals for running errands. Go down a size! 

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Friday, June 12, 2020

Friday Finds

Happy Friday again! This weekend we're planning a socially distant visit with Jeff's grandma through the window of her nursing home, and hopefully building shelves in our storage closet so there's enough room for the toddler push car I found out in the alley this week. Don't worry, alleys in Chicago are like curbs in the rest of the world, you're meant to take the stuff you find. Except for that mattress. Never take home an alley mattress.

Here are my finds for this week:

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

What's Growing in my Balcony Garden

Since we're home all day erry day, I decided to go bigger on my balcony garden this year. Are you planting anything? Read on for some tips!

I usually grow basil and mint because I was too worried about taking care of anything else. Then last year a gigantic plastic planter literally fell from the sky onto our deck from a storm (we asked our neighbors and never figured out whose it was!) so I planted parsley, oregano, and chives in there and they all grew back on their own this spring! This year I decided to plant even more - garden lady status, here I come!

What I'm growing in my balcony garden

This year, I have a bunch of herbs going - basil, mint, rosemary, oregano, parsley, and chives. I also re-grew green onions from the root (How did I not know you could do this?! So smart!) and planted them outside. I also decided to try fruit and vegetables this year - strawberries, serrano peppers, and cherry tomatoes. I was a little more worried on these, but my tomato plant is already giant and needs a stake to help it stay up, and my strawberry plant already grew a tiny strawberry!

For flowers, I planted a bunch of petunias which are really hard to kill (believe me, I definitely tried!) and do great as long as you give them some water and sun - mine are currently going nuts! They're like 3x the size of what they were in this photo from two weeks ago. When you notice a dying flower, just pinch it off with your fingers to promote more growth. I also put some creeping jenny in a pot on our outdoor dining table, which usually used as ground cover. It's like a little vine that is really hard to kill, and looks beautiful as it grows over the edges of a pot.

Taking care of a balcony garden

It's actually super simple to take care of a balcony garden. First, find your sunniest spot and plant your herbs there. Ideally, you want somewhere that gets "full sun," meaning 6+ hours of sun a day. Plant your herbs in pots or planters using an outdoor potting soil mix meant for vegetables. I like to use the Miracle Grow Moisture Control soil, as it protects plants from over or under watering.

And then really, just make sure you water your plants daily! It's always best to water plants in the morning so they can absorb water in the sun, that way they do not sit in water and rot overnight.

Choosing planters and pots

When you're looking for a planter or a pot for your plants, make sure you pick one that has drainage holes. This allows extra water to drain out of the soil so that your plants don't drown - especially helpful for summer downpours.

Also, think about where your plants will be and if there is anything that could potentially block out sunlight. Our balcony has a brick wall around it, so to make sure my plants get enough sun I have them in raised planters. Raised planters are also great if you want to plant a garden in your backyard but have problems with rabbits going after your plants! These are the raised planters I have. They have holes in the bottom for drainage, but also come with rubber stoppers in case you want to use the planters indoors. I like them because the planter boxes are actually plastic so they aren't too heavy.

Are you gardening this summer? What are some other easy plants I should try? 

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Monday, June 8, 2020

May Budget

I share my clothing budget here every month. My budget per month is $350, which may seem like a lot to some people or a little to others, but for me feels just right. I include all of my clothes, coats, shoes, and accessories in that budget, but not athletic gear, pajamas, or intimates.

Whoops, am I, you know, two weeks late with this post?

It's hard to jump back into posting when the world feels so crazy right now. Is it appropriate for me to be talking about clothes when it hasn't been business as usual and our country is busy fighting for Black lives, protesting, changing mindsets, and focusing on being anti-racist? I still don't think so, I don't really know how to go back to business as usual here. So I really apologize if this post seems tone deaf. I just really don't know what the right thing is to do.

And then I also want to apologize for not being business as usual, since a lot of these are now sold out. I will definitely try to be more on top of things in June!

So without further ado, here's what I bought in May:

Old Navy Pink Striped Tee - originally $14.99, on sale $7.98. Just a cute basic, looks great with white shorts! Size up for a relaxed fit. (worn here.)
J.Crew White Floral Dress - originally $138.00, on sale and used rewards $64.00. Just an FYI, it is a little bit of a weird shape. I got an XL (seen here) and it looks really cute from the front and back but from the side it looks huge. But the drop waist is strangely cuter than I thought it would be. True drop waists can emphasize your stomach area but this one does not.
Old Navy Striped Dress - originally $29.99, on sale $20. I've been wanting more "house dresses" for summer. You know, dresses that are so comfortable they feel like pajamas, but feel put together if you decide to leave the house. This definitely fits the bill. I got a tall and it comes to my knees (I'm 5'9"), which feels a little more like work-wear. If you want it shorter, definitely go for the regular size.
J.Crew Lace Tee (a version with just the lace sleeves) - originally $69.50, on sale $34.75. So so so so cute. This is definitely my cute tee of summer, it feels elevated because of the lace but it still is mainly tee shirt material. You will need a nude cami or something underneath because the lace v in the front goes down really low. Definitely snap this up as it is about to sell out, or grab this other version if you love the blue. (worn here.)
LOFT Pleated Shorts - originally $49.50, on sale $12.54. Okay so once you have a baby you're basically never wearing a mini skirt again, but these shorts give the look of a mini skirt but still let you bend over. Win win. Definitely go a size down as they run big. I think the black may be sold out, but they also have a cute floral pattern (that I may have also ordered!).
LOFT Floral Kimono - originally $49.50, on sale and used rewards $21.75. Super cute with white shorts, the perfect outfit topper for summer!
J.Crew White Jeans - originally $69.50, on sale $34.75. Yes, I bought another pair of white crop flares that look exactly like the pair I bought in April. But these have cute frayed hems! And also I realized once you have a toddler it definitely does not hurt to have backups for your favorite white jeans ;)
LOFT Bird Tiered Dress - originally $80, on sale and used rewards $36.75. This one is definitely sold out now, sorry friends :( (worn here.)
Old Navy Red Blue Striped Tee - originally $14.99, on sale $9.60. I love a good red white and blue stripe, so much more fun than your usual navy! Also really cute with those white shorts :) (worn here.)
J.Crew Ribbed Striped Ruffle Tank - originally $49.50, on sale and used rewards $24.70. Okay I. Love. This. Tank. It's striped, the little ruffle is adorable, and the ribbing makes it more flattering than your usual tank because it doesn't cling. This has definitely been on WFH repeat.
Old Navy Denim Shorts - originally $29.99, on sale $20.00. Super cute, but go with your regular denim size (not your Old Navy denim size).
Old Navy Tie Dye Sweatshirt - originally $34.99, on sale $20. Gah this is definitely sold out in the red, white and blue. Sorry! But there are some other patterns that are also adorable. This is not a soft sweatshirt, it feels more like terry cloth inside (but like, old terry cloth? You know, like the towels you should probably get rid of). It feels like something you should wear on a beach vacation at night. Does that make sense? Man, I really should not write these posts after having a glass of wine...
J.Crew Tiered Tee Dress - originally $49.50, on sale $24.75. Looooove this dress! It also fits into my house dress category, as it feels like pajamas but looks like so much more. I just really should not have gotten the white, as my toddler is hell bent on destroying it. (worn here.)

Total Spent: $331.57

Honestly, I'm really surprised I came in under budget. I keep opening packages of things I genuinely forgot I ordered. Mia currently has four swimsuits for this summer. Send help.

I definitely know I have these shorts and this cute pom-pom bag on the way, but who knows what else.

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Friday, May 22, 2020

Friday Finds

Happy Friday again!! While March felt like it went by SO SLOWLY, I feel like I blinked and now it's suddenly Memorial Day weekend. Anyone else?! Not sure how we got here, but I'm very happy for the long weekend. My job slowed to a crawl in March but now has picked up to even more than full steam ahead (might explain my current concept of time) so I'm definitely ready for a little break. We were planning on trying to do some social distanced hangs with family over the long weekend, but Mia ended up coming down with a fever for a couple of days this week so we're going to play it safe and stay home. Instead, we've pre-ordered some barbecue from River Valley, have plans to grill, and hopefully spend some time up on the roof playing with the water table (as long as it doesn't rain too much!!).

Here are my finds for the week. A lot of good deals for Memorial Day, everything is 30-60% off!! I may have ordered the first dress already...

one / two / three / four / five

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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

How to Make a Boxed Cake Fancy

Oh heyyyyyy!! Just popping in with a quick little tip on how to fancy up your birthday cakes!

It was Jeff's birthday over the weekend, and I decided birthday cake was just what we needed. Yes, a whole cake for two people. I don't see the problem.

So how do you make your boxed cake mix cakes taste just that much better? Sub out the oil for melted butter, and sub out the water for milk. Use the exact same amounts in the original recipe. It is such an easy switch, and makes your cakes richer and more moist, and taste like you put a whole lot more effort in than just stirring four ingredients together!

It also works on brownie mixes too. Give it a try, you'll never look back.

Oh, and the #1 rule passed down for boxed cakes from my mama? Make the cake from a mix... but the frosting from scratch! Homemade frosting is just next level, and it makes any cake that much better. Plus it's super easy to make - here's the recipe I used! Yes, to my mother's horror, with salted butter. I'm very pro.

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Friday, May 8, 2020

Friday Finds

Happy Friday!! Today is Jeff's birthday, so we're both taking the day off to celebrate! Really wishing we had weather like last weekend, but I think we'll manage to find way to survive ;) We've got breakfast sandwiches, funfetti cake, takeout from Alinea, and a Zoom party on the docket - can't wait!

Here are my finds for the week:

one / two / three / four / five

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Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Recent Reads

Coming at you with a few more book recommendations for you! My reading has definitely dropped off over the last few months. I'm not breastfeeding anymore and don't have a commute either. After struggling to pick up a book at the beginning of quarantine just because I couldn't focus, I've discovered that light, fun, easy reads are where it's at.

Ask Again, Yes
I literally finished this moments before I started writing this post. I love, love, loved it. I thought it fell in the light, easy read category (especially after I flipped through the first few pages quickly and my Kindle told me it would take 2.5 hours to finish - yeah no haha) but it definitely is not. It follows childhood friends Kate and Pete and what happens before and after the family tragedy that binds them together. It's about family, how love changes over time, and ultimately forgiveness.

Such a Fun Age
I had heard about this book for a while but it took me a while to pick it up. So glad I did because I ended up really enjoying it. It follows a black babysitter working for a white family, and looks at racism, entitlement, and ultimately whether having good intentions is good enough. It's written almost like a mystery, and I was racing through to figure out what the real story was. I would rate this as a semi-easy read, but deeper than your typical fun beach novel.

My Friend Anna
This true story is so completely unbelievable I had a hard time keeping up. I remember hearing the story in the news, a "German heiress" Anna Delvey was living the high life in New York City, living in a hotel, a regular at one of the most exclusive restaurants in town, expensive shopping sprees and spa treatments and gym sessions every week, a potential art gallery in the works. But then she flew her friends out to Morocco for an all-expenses paid trip, and tricked them into footing the bill. As her friend tried to get reimbursed and Anna's story started to unravel things went completely off the rails. The full story of this con artist was so crazy I raced right through the book.

The Flatshare 
Now here is the epitome of a romantic comedy novel. Two people share an apartment in shifts, never meeting but sharing a bed. They start writing notes back and forth, and manage to form a deep relationship without ever meeting. It's like the author knew quarantine was coming or something. This one is definitely light and fun!

The Gifted School 
In an elite, wealthy town in Colorado (that sounds remarkably like Boulder ;), an announcement is made that they will be opening a new gifted school, and that all children are welcome to test and apply. The race to prove that their children are gifted and worthy of admission ultimately tears up the lives of four friends. This was a fun and easy read, but as a child of the "gifted" school system, I found the commentary on the benefits and drawbacks of gifted programs incredibly interesting.

The Dutch House
One of my favorite books in a long time. It follows the story of Danny and his sister Maeve, growing up wealthy in an impressive but isolating house, The Dutch House. The story is about family, loss, and the ability to move on from the past. It's complex and rich, and I loved every moment of it.

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Monday, May 4, 2020

My Favorite Quarantine Purchases

Hi, my name is Kristina, and I have a Pandemic shopping problem!

I mean, really, did you expect anything less than me? Between shopping for more cozy lounge clothes, activities for Mia, activities for me, and home purchases, there seem to be packages arriving every day. Here are some of my favorite things I've found:

Activities to do at home during quarantine

I didn't buy Mia much for her birthday (literally three books - Mom of the Year!) because I was planning on getting a few things for her when she got older, namely a toy kitchen and a water table. But when quarantine hit, I wanted to find new ways to keep her occupied and I was worried that by the time I thought Mia was ready for them, there would be manufacturing supply chain issues and we wouldn't be able to get what we wanted.

We ended up getting this kitchen (which was completely free thanks to a sale and credits from our Pottery Barn deck furniture debacle!) and I love it so much. It's freaking adorable and looks cute, not obnoxious, in our living room. I also ended up getting this actual kitchen mat to put in front of it after I realized she was doing lots of dropping her metal pans on the floor right there. So now she bangs them on the floor next to the mat. But I still love the mats, and am thinking about getting some for our actual kitchen!

We also are loving the water table!! We just filled it up for the first time over the weekend (the weather was SO beautiful, we were up on the deck for hours!) and Mia loved it! Literally splashed in there for an hour. I definitely recommend getting a little umbrella if your set has a spot for one, makes me feel better about my pale little girl standing in the sun for that long.

Another favorite purchase was a set of bubble guns. Mia has only been into bubbles for a couple weeks and I was already tired of regular bubble wands. These bubble guns shoot out huge streams of bubbles, and are completely manual so you don't need to change out batteries.

I personally have been going all in on puzzles when I have some free time. I bought a bunch of Dowdle puzzles at the beginning of quarantine and have steadily been making my way through my stack - the puzzle shapes are crazy which makes them hard! I also picked back up on calligraphy (this is the book I have) and needlepoint - love this shop's kits!!

Home purchases during quarantine

It's kind of funny because I've worked from home for two years now, but the extra hang-out time at home has me looking at our house and wanting to update and finish some spaces I've been ignoring. I spruced up my bedroom office with this mirror and wildflower print from Target, and made the work from home situation more ergonomic with a comfy desk chair and a laptop stand. So much better than working from the couch!

I've also been putting a lot of work into our roof deck. Every year in April I decide THIS is the year I'm really going all out to make the space live up to it's potential. I got that new patio set from Pottery Barn that only took 10 months to arrive (😠) delivered at the end of February, and it's really motivating me to do more. I filled out the space with this rug, this self-watering planter (amazing because there's zero chance I'm remembering to go up and water every day!), this bench, and these sun loungers. I'm still on the hunt for some more outdoor pillows, plants, and new tables. We also just got three of these tall planters for our front deck off of our living room, and they add so much to the space.

Best lounge clothes for staying at home

Are you on team getting dressed or team pajamas all day?? I'm on a lot of video calls for work so I've been getting dressed most days, but I'm definitely changing into them later in the day and changing out of them earlier. I LOVE these cozy slippers that were on super sale, and these wide leg cropped pants are amazingly comfortable without being too heavy. I grabbed these rainbow striped pajamas on sale and have been wearing them whenever it's not too cold, they're so cute and make me happy. These sweatshirts are also incredible, they're the softest I've ever touched and stay soft even after washing and drying them over and over because your toddler somehow manages to spill on them every time you wear one.

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