Thursday, June 30, 2011

Curly Inspiration

Today I thought I would share where inspiration has been striking me lately. Well, it has been coming from blogging, strangely enough. More specifically, it has been coming from all of you fabulous bloggers out there! I love seeing everyone's different ideas and how creative all of these women really are, like Taylor from Curly in the City.

Taylor's Clutch
Cute, right? I thought so too!
Image via Curly in the City
My first attempt
Tan with navy
Love it!
I stumbled upon her blog a few months ago and I absolutely loved her style, her point of view and the recipes/DIY projects she put up. She also started making these clutches this past spring and I thought they were absolutely fantastic! I was literally about to buy one from her Etsy shop when I thought to myself, if she could make these, maybe I could too! So my mom went to the fabric store and together we have started making these clutches. I have worn them both and I absolutely love them for summer!

You'll be seeing this for sure in my outfits for the long weekend! It's so perfect and I love it!

So (if you ever read this), thanks Taylor for the inspiration and for "showing" me how to make these clutches. They're really fun! You can find the directions here.

And to all of you other bloggers out there, I'm inspired by you all everyday. Thanks for sharing your creativity and stories with me! It's really so much fun.

Get ready for more Fourth of July food, fun and flair to come throughout the weekend!


Peculiar Professions

So tonight I had the opportunity to see Cirque du Soleil for the first time. If you've never been, it's definitely worth seeing! These people know how to entertain! I could've watched these acrobats ride unicycles on tightropes and bounce up from trampolines onto rock walls for hours, it was insane. What some people can do with their bodies is unbelievable (especially since I'm one of the most inflexible individuals on the face of the earth).

But as I was sitting there during intermission, in awe of all of these performers, I was wondering how these people decided that they wanted to be in these shows. I mean I guess it's like anything else: you can just be drawn to it. But what if someone asked you on the street what your profession was and you said, "Well, I'm an acrobat for a living." I think it's awesome, but tt's really not something you hear everyday. In fact, I usually never really hear much about acrobats unless the circus is in town.

The key thought is that these people must love what they do. And we all love watching them! This may sound like a really stupid question, but has anyone ever met anyone with a career that was so out of the box in your opinion? What was it? The subject fascinates me because I love hearing about people and what they decide to love and pursue, especially if it's different from the "norm". There's so much out there that I don't even know exists, so it's always fun to learn more.

But seriously, if you're in Chicago, go see Cirque du Soleil's new show OVO. It's pretty cool!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Truly Terrific Tuesday!

Happy Tuesday everyone! Goodness I cannot believe that this is the last week of June! That only means one thing: school starts in a month and a half (not like I'm counting or anything...). But I've been embracing summer to its fullest! A busy weekend was spent eating fresh corn at the Taste of Chicago (and I tried some new foods too, like goat. It tastes like chicken for those who wonder!). It was so delicious and we had a fantastic time!

Sunday was a surprise bridal shower for my friend who is getting married in two weeks. My friends did a great job organizing it for her and it was a great time had by all with old and new friends. My mother and I were pretty competitive in the shower games, but all in good fun! Maybe I had a few too many bridal shower cookies...

Yesterday was quality time spent with my dad at the golf course. My brother was playing in a big tournament at a really nice country club out in the western suburbs. It was a beautiful day, I got a nice (and healthy!) suntan and my dad and I walked up and down the course watching my brother's every stroke. He can really hit the ball, it was really fun to watch! Ending with Alum Choir that night is always the best way to end my Monday!

I also tried a new chocolate chip cookie recipe! I'm an addict ok, but I do share! I gave this last batch to my uncle who is one of our family's biggest cookie connoisseurs and he approved. I absolutely loved these with coffee and I will definitely make them again! They're called Tate's Chocolate Chip cookies and the recipe hails from a bakery in Southampton. They're really easy and delicious so let me know if you try them!

I'll be spending the rest of the day outside with another Nicholas Sparks novel (because I am such a hopeless romantic). Hope you all enjoy the end of the June summer sun!


Friday, June 24, 2011

Cool Consignment

You can ask any of my friends and they would admit how much I love clothes and dressing as best I can. I have really enjoyed finding fun pieces and casually "dressing up" everyday (I guess the fact that I wore a uniform from grade school all through high school has really made me enjoy dressing cute like I thought all normal people did who didn't wear uniforms!). Occasionally, I like to make bigger purchases that will last awhile like a quality trench or my guilty pleasure: an insanely comfy, cute sweater because you just can't go wrong!

Right now, however, those guilty pleasures are out of my budget so I'm sticking to shopping for cool pieces at cheap prices. Consignment stores are the best places to find quality items at low prices (and I'm talking LOW prices, it's fabulous!). Yesterday my sisters and I went to our local store and although we had to do lots of digging, we had some amazing finds. My finds:
2 Brooks Brothers button down shirts $9 each
an Anne Klein Cream Linen Blazer $34 (it was originally retailed at $320...the original price tags were still on, so it's never been worn!)

Blazer: Anne Klein Belt: Vintage Coach. Necklace: Forever 21 
Fantastic, right? And this store happened to have everything 25% off too! So if you are on a budget like me, or just like finding different pieces to spice up your wardrobe, shop consignment! (If you're not a believer yet, it's ok, because I wasn't too keen on it for awhile, but I've turned around. It really is great!) You may have to dig around to find something cute, but don't give up!
Also, I found other cool consignment tips here at Little Girl, Big World, so check up and get her nice insight!

Happy Weekends everyone!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rainy Days and...Wednesdays?

Well, summer {officially} started yesterday, but it sure hasn't felt like summer around here. Thunderstorms and strong winds have taken over. Luckily, my family did not lose power like a lot of my friends did. I hope their power comes back on soon.

Meanwhile, I am taking this rainy day by the horns and baking! What's better than that? I stumbled across this recipe on Cupcakes and Cashmere's blog and I couldn't get it out of my head for months now! I absolutely LOVE the Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies and will do just about anything to get a box or two during cookie season, so when I saw this recipe I thought that my troubles would be gone!

I thought this recipe turned out pretty well. I loved the mint flavor of the cookie, but my mistake was that my cookies looked like biscuits more than the "thin" favorites I love (if you click on the recipe you'll see what they're supposed to look like. Boy was I off!). However, I'm not too disappointed with the results. The flavor is just the perfect amount of mint and cocoa and by adding a little extra mint to the chocolate topping, it gives it just a little more of a kick to bring out the rest of the flavors. I have some chilling in the freezer right now and I can't wait to try them icey cold! They will probably be amazing crushed over ice cream and I can't wait to try and see.

(I did take pictures while I was baking, I was so proud of myself! However, the camera cord is MIA, so I can't upload them. Just admire the perfect pictures that make them oh so appetizing)

So if you are a Thin Mint fan, give it a try and let me know what you think. It's pretty easy and quick. I can't wait to share more recipes with you!

Have a wonderful Wednesday!


Monday, June 20, 2011

Fussy Friendships

Ahh, what a whirlwind of a weekend! It definitely went by too fast because it was extremely packed! Between Father's Day and my mom's birthday, there was lots to prepare but it was all worth it in the end. Also this weekend, I got to spend a day with one of my favorite girls! I missed her a lot but we definitely had a fun experience: biking around town, walking up and down the lake and drinking coffee from my favorite place. Lots and lots of exercise! I was so sore the next day, but we had a fantastic time.

But her visit (among other experiences lately with my friends) have definitely made me think more about the concept of friendship. Friendship, I think, is one of the greatest blessings that we have in our lives, but can also be extremely challenging. There comes a point in time where one needs to evaluate in her head what she wants out of friendships, how she can be a better friend, and probably the hardest question we have to ask: are some friendships worth it?

I'm not going to lie and say that I do not get invested in my friends and what happens in their lives. I do, and I care very much about all of them. I like to be involved and help as much as I can because I care about them. However, sometimes (and this may seem selfish, but at the end of the day I have learned that we cannot always neglect ourselves) I don't always get what I give. I can't believe I said that because it sounds horrible, but sometimes it's the truth.

There comes a point where we all need to reflect on our best friendships. Why are they so good? Why do they make us happy? Is it an equal give and take? Then we need to think about our other friendships and relationships. What have we gotten out of them? Are we just in them for the other person and not for ourselves? Are we wasting our time with people that are not worth our time and do not treat us in ways that we need to be treated?

This may be hard to swallow, but we all deserve to be the happiest we can be. We need to surround ourselves with people who care just as much for us as we do for them. I am so thankful that I have such marvelous friends who do such a good job "taking care of me" (and hopefully they could say the same for me!).

So tell your friends today just how much you appreciate them! It's something that they only hear every so often, and means so much. And for those of us who have those people that are stringing us along, take some time to reflect on if the individual is worth how awesome we are! (because we all are, don't deny it!)

Happy Monday!


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Thanks, Dad

Thank you for bringing classical music into my life. The Emperor Concerto will always be my favorite, thanks to you.

Thank you for making me laugh every single day.

Thank you for caring enough to give me the education I've always wanted. I wouldn't be anywhere today without you. Every long paper, hard night of studying, or piano performance isn't just for me, it will always be for you too.

Thank you for going on walks and runs with me, talking about daily nonsense. I know that I got my competitive side from you! (I win!)

Thank you for all of the years of being there to help me with everything (my homework, my friends, my jobs, my hobbies). I would be a mess without you. 

Thank you for inspiring me to be a better, giving, stronger person. I know that my strength comes from you and everything you've taught me.

Thank you for always being there for me, telling me to be calm and letting me know that everything will be ok in the end. 

Thank you for just being you. You are the best Dad a girl could ever ask for and I love you more than words can express. Love you always Dad!

(Oh and Happy Father's Day to all the other fantastic dads out there, including my Grandpa who will be with us on Father's Day this year!)

Also, my mom gets to share her birthday with all of the fathers out there. Happy Birthday Mom!! Have a fantastic birthday full of pampering, surrounded by those who love you most. You're the best! Love you, Mom!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

2011 Summer Bucket List

Jillian from cornflake dreams has such a fantastic blog (it's a daily read of mine!) and last week she came up with the idea of creating a Summer Bucket List blog linkup. I thought it was a fantastic idea! It's so cool to see what other people are wanting to accomplish over these short summer months, and I did not want to miss my opportunity to share my list as well! So here it goes:

Become a better cook (I'm trying here people! but I definitely need more work)
homemade mac n cheese!
via the pioneer woman cooks
Get back into playing tennis (and maybe this year I can finally perfect my serve)

(Somewhat) redecorate and reorganize my room

Explore the wonders of Colorado and hike in the beautiful mountains
Do more DIY projects (sew another dress, start the afghan I've been dying to try, make more jewelry)
Practice the piano...goal: recital!
Ravinia concerts with my Dad
FINALLY develop pictures that have been sitting in my computer for (sadly) years...
Spend more quality time with the people I love most

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I'm a budget friendly coffee addict...

I absolutely love, love LOVE coffee! I used to only like it in certain forms, but now I'm all over the coffee map. I have to say though, there is nothing like a good latte, whether first thing in the morning or late at night. There is nothing wrong with going out for a latte every once in awhile, but they have gotten so expensive! It's ridiculous. I love Peet's and Starbucks, but unfortunately they are a little out of my budget right now.

espresso maker from Bialetti
only $20!
My dad is extremely budget savvy, and my mom has learned a lot from him. A few years ago she bought a Bialetti stovetop espresso maker. Best purchase ever! I know people buy really expensive, gorgeous makers, but this one is budget friendly and makes really delicious espresso. Ok, so that was great. But recently, my mom got us a Capresso milk foam frother and heater. This machine does exactly what Starbucks does (maybe better): gives you the frothiest, most delicious foam! It definitely takes your latte to the next level.
for $60, it's a good buy!
it makes the most delicious foam
in just 3 minutes!

So I challenge you my friends, if you are as in to coffee as I am and what a  delicious latte at the fraction of the, invest in some of this stuff! It may cost you a little in the beginning, but if you do the math, you will realize how much you are saving making unbelievably delicious coffee and lattes at home. It really does make a difference. Your friends will be so jealous, so you may even start a trend! Also, if you want to spend a bit more, you can invest in your favorite flavoring. They sell them at specialty grocers and it will give you coffee or latte the extra kick that you want.

Are you a stay-at-home coffee person or a Starbucks addict? Neither is an issue, but if you want to save a few bucks, I highly recommend a stovetop expresso maker and a milk frother! You won't regret it!

Happy Tuesday! (and Go CUBS! I'll be at tonight's game, my first of the season!)


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Weekend Recap

So another weekend has come and gone! Man this was a fast one. Friday included lots of ice cream and a viewing of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. That show is absolutely ridiculous! I would never want to live like that. Saturday brought lots of chocolate chip cookie baking. So delicious! (probably some of the best I've had in awhile...good thing I gave most of them away!). After about four hours of asking ourselves "I dunno, whatta you wanna do?" we finally decided on watching one of the first reality shows we ever saw: Frontier House. Seriously, go get it at your local library, because that's the only place where you can find this PBS reality show where three families abandon modern life and live 7 months in a recreated frontier. So awesome! It's about 10 years old, but we still have the tapes from when we originally taped it. So interesting, yet so so so good for a laugh! Today I overloaded on delicious Italian food with my family to celebrate my cousin's graduation. So tasty, and I left with a little bit of a food coma, which I haven't had in forever. So good!
Now all I want to do is just cozy up in my bed with my current read (The Devil Wears Prada, I've seen the movie, but I've heard the book is fantastic so I wanted to find out). What's up for the week? Baseball, homemade dinners, and hopefully a few DIY projects, so I'm excited. Anyone have any good weekend stories? Have a fantastic week!


Friday, June 10, 2011

Happy Friday!...and some room inspiration

Well, it's Friday again! Happy weekend everyone! I have to say I'm looking forward to a night in with one of my best friends watching The Bachelorette and eating lots of homemade goodies. And speaking of homemade goodies, I made BBQ chicken pizza last night!! It was such a success and my whole family loved it! Now, I am horrible at taking pictures while I cook, so unfortunately I don't have any to show you. But hopefully, when I make it again, I'll remember  to take some. It is absolutely delicious and is something that everyone should try their hand at if they love pizza like I do. Let's just say, have some good BBQ sauce, caramelized onions, provelone cheese and a really good crust (I used Ina Garten's recipe, so yummy!).

Also, today I have started seriously looking at some inspiration for my bedroom makeover. At first, I thought I wanted a bright color, but now, after looking in some magazines and having some blog browsing, I want a neutral or cool toned wall, and very soft bedding. This morning I got lost in House Beautiful Magazine's one hundred bedrooms! So fun! Here were some of my favorites:
I love the bright pillows with the white bedding and cool wall
Definitely something I'm interested in!
Image via
I love love LOVE the shutters
It really does have a cool, beach feel
I love the white with the green accents here
and of course if I could have that chandelier! if only...
So so far that's what's been inspiring me! If anyone has any other suggestions about where I should look for fun ideas, let me know!
Happy Weekend! Hopefully this stubborn Midwestern weather will behave itself!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

the little things...

What an awesome night! I just had my first Peach Ice Cream Cone of the summer from my favorite local place. OHMYGOSH it was so fantastic! If you've never had peach ice cream before, you have to try it. Such a fantastic summer flavor. I'd recommend getting it from a local creamery, that way it's the freshest it can possibly be. Seriously, one cone will do you in! So good, let me know if you try any!

Also last night I experienced something I never have before: I felt the weather change. The midwest has been going through a brutal (yet awesome!) heat wave the past few days. I'm talking upper 90s with heat indexes in the 100s. It's been HOT! So people have been escaping to the beaches like crazy. Well last night, Ellen, C and I took our ice cream to the beach for a walk. The water was FREEZING! Eventually (even though I tried to run), Ellen pushed me in. I attempted to push her in, but in my attempts I would only fall in the water again. C helped me out and pushed her in, so we all got dunked in. I have to say, even though it was cold, it felt so good! Just what I needed.

As we kept walking to the other side of the beach, we saw lightning that was pretty far away. We knew storms were coming, but we decided to just sit and look out into the dark, calm lake. Once we started to walk back, we passed the guard that said "Those winds have started to come, huh?" and we all agreed with him, even though we didn't feel any wind. Within two seconds of passing him, the winds started blowing so hard and the sand was beating against the backs of our legs. It hurt! But it was really cool to see all of the sand blowing and the waves blowing all to one side. I'm just glad we weren't walking the other way!

But if you've never felt the weather change like that, you should! It's pretty cool and it's something you'll never forget. I just want the heat back now!


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

CHICAGO in Chicago!

Ahhh so I am such a theatre fan, especially Broadway in Chicago shows! (I love musical theatre, if I haven't mentioned that before!) I've never been to New York so I don't know what real Broadway is like, but I like to think that the quality is just as good (or even better!) as the shows in New York. I love the lights, the music, and of course getting all dolled up!

Tonight we saw CHICAGO!! My sisters and I have been fans of the show for years so to finally see it live was a thrill. It was seriously too fantastic for words! Of course, I was in the second to last row of the whole theatre, but I was still able to see it pretty well. The dancing was out of this world and I was in love with the band (especially the pianist! I give him lots of credit since it's an incredibly demanding piano part. So fantastic) But really, when "All the Jazz" started to play, I literally was bouncing up and down in my seat, I was so so excited. It was ridiculously entertaining and funnier than I ever imagined it being. Overall, it was a fantastic production. It's only in town until Sunday so if you're in town, go see it!

That being said, another part of my little advice is to take time to enjoy some theatre. Whether it's a big production or just a high school or community theatre production, you can't go wrong. In my mind, I think seeing theatre every once and a while is good for the soul. Yes that is probably the corniest thing I have ever written, but there's something about a bunch of people banding together to put on a big production. I don't know, I just love it!

This has definitely been one of my favorite shows I have ever seen! Do you have a favorite?


Oh and also I just wanted to share a picture of me and Ellen at the show, both looking awesome if I am allowed to say that! (Mary looked awesome too, but she took the photo!)

Friday, June 3, 2011


June is finally here!!! So I'm just going to safely assume that summer has begun. Nothing could be better! I've started it off with a good dose of Espresso Ice Cream, grilled panini sandwiches, San Pellegrino Limonata, and hopefully tonight a walk on the water! Definitely has Midwestern Summer written all over!

I've been thinking a lot lately about living life to its fullest and enjoying all of the beauty that is around me that many people do not find beautiful. I keep hearing people of traveling here and there and always wanting to "escape" the norm that is their everyday life. I do not always disagree with them. Sometimes it is nice to get away and discover something new. It's freeing and fun and you never know what direction life is going to lead when you reach that something new. However (and I think this is also my parents' ideas that have been instilled in me), I have found that I always need to enjoy the beauty around me. Whether it's the people, the physical landscape, or the sounds you hear, do not take where you are right now for granted. Especially now that we are approaching one of the best season's of the year, stop and take it all in. You've all those seen those shirts that say, "Life is Good." Well it really is! Don't let a day go by where you do not think it!

So do me a favor and find beauty in the little things today, later this week, or later this summer. Trust me, this is where the memories are! These little things are what we will always treasure and value and you'll do yourself a disservice not taking time to stop and notice. Live in the beauty of the day that we are all so blessed to have (especially if you're having a bad day. Don't worry, I've been there...).

So Happy June! As I write this, Summer Nights just came on my iTunes shuffle. I'd say that's a good sign!


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Do you Rue?

I absolutely love magazines! (Let's just say I'm a fan of Vogue, Self, Real Simple, In Style...) I've recently gotten into the online magazine trend and I have to say they are so fun to read! They link you to every designer, photo, item that they picture and it's a lot of fun to browse. I love reading Rue, an interior design and fashion magazine based out in San Francisco. It's really awesome! I love the photos and all of the items in there (reading this leads to lots of online window shopping!). It will also link you to tons of new blogs to read and get addicted to, and who doesn't love that! So, do you Rue? Let me know what you think of it!
Image via