Monday, January 29, 2018

Monday Musings

Being your typical (late) twenty-something Millennial, I spend an embarrassing amount of time on Instagram, Pinterest and random internet sites. I also LOVE magazines. I come across interesting things all the time, and I decided that I would like to share them here! There aren't too many people who read this blog (Hi, Mom!), but honestly, I often refer back to old posts for my own use as the things and topics I write about are ones that obviously I enjoy! So, we could say this is an over-the-top notepad/creative journal of sorts. 

Moving on. I bring you the first installment of Monday Musings. Love a good alliteration. My teacher  friends would be proud :) This is a collection of "things" I have come across within the last week or so that I've loved, found interesting, or want to try/buy. Here we go!

First up - Yoplait Oui yogurt 

I have been eyeing this yogurt for a few weeks. I love anything French and this yogurt is said to be made according to French tradition, whatever that means. But I imagine it is lusciously thick and creamy! And it comes packaged in a glass jar - fancy! I love that something as simple as yogurt is made to feel so extravagant. This would be fun to use for a wedding or baby shower and have a yogurt bar! You could have several of these jars in various flavors,  have fruit, nuts, granola etc. set out in cute bowls, and your guests could add their selected toppings straight to their jar! So simple and easy, but so fun! 

There are several flavors - vanilla, black cherry, lemon, strawberry and coconut. I love that there are no artificial sweeteners or colors, it is made from whole milk and all ingredients are non-GMO so you can feel good about eating it. 

Second - MoviePass

I was over on Carly the Prepster's blog yesterday and she mentioned using MoviePass to go see a ton of movies. My husband and I love going to the movies, so I was immediately intrigued. I feel like I've heard about this in passing, but never gave it a second thought. Here's what I've found out so far: it's $9.95 a month and you can go see any movie at practically any theater as many times during the month as long as you don't go more than once a day. I mean, sounds too good to be true! One regular movie ticket is like $11 here in Columbia and I'm sure it's more than that in other larger cities. Your monthly subscription would be paid for after like 2 movies! We are seriously thinking about doing this. Seems like there is no contract, so if we find we aren't taking advantage of it like we thought we would (doubtful), we could just cancel, but if and when you do cancel, looks like you can't re-subscribe for 9 months. I'm sure this is to keep people from abusing the system. My husband was doing some research and did find that some AMC theaters aren't participating so maybe check the theaters in your area before signing up to make sure you can use the pass in your neighborhood theater. 

Thirdly - Bodum Chambord Classic Copper Milk Frother

To be honest, I saw this first on a recent blog post by Gal Meets Glam where they listed ideas for a wedding registry. I. love. this. I will put this on my birthday wish list. I am a coffee fanatic and have a "coffee bar" in my home. (Another post for another time ;)  I have been wanting a milk frother of some kind so I can make latte drinks at home. I love this one from Bodum. I have the Bodum French Press and love it. The copper lid on this frother is gorgeous and so on trend. There is a matching copper French Press which would be so cute to make a little set! There are even matching cream and sugar bowls as well as glass mugs, all with copper detail! I. want. them. all.

Fourth - Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo

I have very fine hair, and I am definitely not one of those girls who can wash her hair every other day. I absolutely have to wash it every morning, unless I'll be wearing a hat. If I'm going out somewhere at night, more often then not I'll wash my hair a second time that day because it will be so greasy. I have tried several dry shampoos, but none have worked at all, most even made the greasiness worse! Until now. I've heard about the Living Proof brand for awhile (anything Jennifer Aniston endorses must be good) and a few months ago saw this dry shampoo from the same brand raved about by some beauty bloggers. I saw the mini version in Sephora and thought, what the heck, I'll give a whirl. Well, I'm glad I did! It seriously works. And it helps me get some texture so when I curl my hair it will last longer than 30 minutes! It smells so good, too! If you are skeptical, try the mini like I did. But you may be going back for the full size after all... 

Fifth - Pure Aqua Belle Vie Bold in Blackberry Cucumber

This is Aldi's version of the cult favorite La Croix sparkling water. And I love it! The Belle Vie   brand has limited flavors (lemon, lime, grapefruit) compared to the never ending choices of La Croix, but I recently stumbled upon their "Bold" line, which I think is supposed to be like the La Croix Curate, which has "fancier" flavors. My local Aldi had Belle Vie Bold in Blackberry Cucumber...SOLD! I am a sucker for flavored waters and the more unique, the better! This Blackberry Cucumber is so. good. I love these because I feel like I'm drinking a Coke or something but with none of the sugar or calories! Aldi does it again!

Sixthly - Castaner Carina Canvas Wedge Espadrilles

Again, saw these adorable shoes on the Gal Meets Glam blog. She has such great style! Although most of what she blogs about is way out of my price range...These are $85, which is still pretty steep as far as my standards go, but I could definitely justify them because I know I would wear them a ton. I love espadrilles, especially wedges. And the fresh peach color of these are perfect for spring through summer. I really like the ankle tie detail. These would be so cute with skinny white jeans and/or a midi length dress! If you're feeling really retro, pair with a jean mini skirt :D 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Preparing for Guests During the Holidays

This time of year from Thanksgiving to New Year's, lots of friends and family will be coming around to visit. I love having people over, decorating the house and serving festive food and beverages. This was the first Thanksgiving we hosted and I can't wait to host a Christmas get-together!

There is so much to do in preparation for guests. Cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, buying and wrapping presents...shall I continue? We all want a clean home to show off, but who has time to clean on top of everything else on our to-do list?! I have some tips and ways to clean up and make it seem like we spent hours scrubbing every inch of our home. 

Even if you only have a morning or an afternoon to clean up before your guests arrive, you can make it seem like you spent all those hours cleaning. 

First, empty trash cans in the kitchen and bathrooms. No one wants to smell or see your trash!
Next, if you don't have time to vacuum, shake out your bathroom, kitchen and other rugs to make them seem cleaner. Bonus points for vacuuming or sweeping/Swiffering! You only need to do the main rooms in your home.
Add new toilet paper rolls in the guest bathrooms so there won't be a chance it will run out and your guests have to hunt for extra rolls, or worse, holler for you to bring them one.
In your family/living room/den, fold blankets and fluff up couch cushions and pillows. Straighten books, magazines and knick knacks on coffee and side tables or even put them away in a cabinet so there is room to place drinks.
Empty dishwasher and load up dirty dishes, then wipe down sink and counter tops with Clorox wipes.
Close doors to bedrooms, offices, playrooms, and any other rooms that won't be used by guests. This gives you an excuse not to clean these rooms! For now...
Finally, light a candle in the guest bathroom, kitchen, and living room or dining room where guests will congregate. The scent and glow will make any home feel cozy and festive. 

See? That was easy! Never stress over cleaning for guests again! Now use all that extra time to cook some awesome goodies! I've been wanting to try out this recipe. Love a good muffin!! An excuse to eat a cupcake for breakfast :)

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Coffee Cup Style

A cup of coffee has become the newest accessory! Just take a glance at Instagram and Pinterest and you'll know what I mean... Whether it's a chic coffee mug or a to-go cup from a favorite coffee shop, everyone can't wait to take a picture of themselves holding a warm beverage :)

Case in point, Caitlin from Southern Curls and Pearls has many times alluded to her addiction and ever present Starbucks cup in her instagram/blog pictures! (Love her style SO MUCH)

Anyway, my whole reason for bringing up said coffee photo bomb is the idea to style an outfit after the cup! A bit obsessive I know, but so fun!

First up, everyone's favorite, Starbucks. With their iconic green and white cups and pops of red for the holidays, this outfit is easy to create and so festive for Christmas!

Start with white jeans for a blank canvas and prove to everyone you CAN wear white after Labor Day. 

Add a green sweater and finish with a red plaid scarf and/or hat!

                                                                          Old Navy

The next coffee brand we will be representing today is Caribou Coffee. While there aren't any locations here in South Carolina :( North Carolina and Georgia both have several as well as many other locations around the country! I have frequented this establishment when in Charlotte. LOVE the  Mint Condition (you can get milk, dark or white chocolate!) Their holiday flavors this year include Caramel Chocolate Truffle Mocha (say that 5x fast!), Ho Ho Mint Mocha, and Fa La Latte. I love the lodge vibe of Caribou, so cozy! Their colors include brown and cream as well as a beautiful shade of blue.

Let's start with our trusty skinny jeans...
Now add that brown and cream!
Love the colors in this flannel shirt and the Los Gatos vest is the perfect tie-in, one that will get use all season long.

Last up is Dunkin' Donuts. While they are better know for their, umm donuts... they have great coffee, love me some toasted almond flavor! And they always have fun seasonal flavors such as the ever popular Peppermint Mocha and equally tantalizing Brown Sugar Cinnamon!

Now, on to the outfit! DD has iconic pink and orange colors which can make for fun, playful color pairing.

Let's start with some cream colored cords - who says winter has to have dark colors all the time!

Now, add that pop of pink and orange! Sweater, vest, scarf, hat - the combinations are endless.

Hope you enjoyed this fun, if a little different, style session!

Friday, November 3, 2017

MY Favorite Things!

Oprah's Favorite Things episodes on her show were some of my favorites, EVER! Honestly, when I heard she was ending the show, I was mostly disappointed there would no longer be any Favorite Things. So, when she kept the tradition going with her magazine I was thrilled!

I've always wanted to do my own version, so here it goes! Some things I already have and love, other things I think are awesome and would be awesome gifts! For myself or others :) 

The SOFTEST thing ever! I have a cardigan from the same brand and it's like a silky, soft texture. I can only imagine how wonderful it would be to curl up under this blanket to read a book or watch a movie. There's a reason Barefoot Dreams products are so popular. PS - there is also a robe version! May not want to get ready in the morning if I wear that... Love the print of this blanket, it also comes in grey/white and black/camel colors.

I have been wanting a pair of these pjs for so long! Made from 100% pima cotton, they're supported to be supper comfortable. These come in tons of striped color combos and have short sleeve/long pant, long sleeve/long pant, short sleeve/shorts, and nightgown styles. Also, there is a new Rebecca Atwood collab with a pretty spotted print! 

Ok this is possibly the greatest combo ever, Reese Witherspoon's awesome line and the ever popular Jack Rogers! Are these not the cutest shoes ever?? There's also a black pair that says "Pretty Please". Definitely going on my Christmas wish list! And perfect for that fashionista in the family.

Currently in my shopping cart at just waiting for me to pull the trigger... love the color, would go with everything/anything! And supposed to be super soft...besides, you can't go wrong with Free People!

The newest cookbook from PW! I got one of her cookbooks last year and I love it. She includes step-by-step pictures for each recipe, which I love! Just in case you want to make sure you are on the right track. 

Well maybe this should be on a luxe wish list - it's like $2000... but how amazing it is!! This machine is completely automatic and grinds and tamps the beans for you. There's a milk frother and display that lets you choose what type of beverage you want! (I've watched the video on So, when I win the lottery...  

I LOVE the look of this luggage, cream and tan is so chic! It's pretty pricey as far as luggage goes, but it goes on sale all the time at Macy's. (I've been keeping my eye on it.) They have double spinner wheels and a TSA lock. And they're just so dang cute!

We used Wedding gift money to buy one, well worth the investment!! You can use this for all kinds of things. I've made soups and chili, fried things, cooked collards, made gumbo and homemade hot chocolate...stove top to oven to table! It's as pretty as it is functional. 
This is on my "house wish list". Who knew a thermostat could look so stylist? The awesome thing about the nest brand is that it helps you save money! It's the first thermostat to get ENERGY STAR certified. And it learns how you like to set the heat/AC and automatically programs for you and adapts with the change in seasons. SO COOL! 
A beautiful, sweet smelling candle that will certainly get you in the mood for Christmas and warm any room in your house. I personally have not purchased this candle, but have sniffed it many times while window shopping. Candles are always a great gift for anyone! This would be a perfect hostess gift if you are attending a Christmas party this season! Or for your sister- or mother-in-law who might be difficult to buy for :) 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Lodge style

With all of this cold weather we've been having recently, (and not to mention that dusting of snow we got over the weekend!) I'm so ready to head to a cozy cabin in the woods or a lodge nestled at the edge of the mountains. Or a weekend at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC (see above picture). Who's with me?? I've rounded up some essentials that will need to be in my suitcase if I can get myself out there, pronto! "The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go"

Love how soft this top looks, and who doesn't love thumb holes! So many colors to choose from with this beauty.

Doesn't this look like the coziest sweater ever! Two things about this sweater, its on major sale AND made with 89% alpaca so you KNOW its soft!

Can't go wrong with Buffalo plaid, or $20 off.

Looks like a sweater, feels like a sweatshirt - genius!

I mean, how cute is this pair of socks?? 5 bucks people...

Is it just me or are pom poms EVERYWHERE this winter? Wouldn't this be a great blanket to cuddle up with?? (And it's currently 60% off with promo code SIXTY)

You can't go wrong with plaid, fill this up with some yummy hot chocolate!

So cozy! I tend to like mittens better than gloves, much easier to put on ;) PS - on sale!

I love the colors and print of this scarf, also on sale!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Winter Getaway

Did you have one of those holidays where you feel like you need a vacation from your vacation? From Thanksgiving to New Years it can be a stressful time for many - cleaning, cooking, baking, shopping, wrapping presents, cleaning, cooking, baking, can be exhausting! Especially when you're working a full-time job on top of it. Let's plan a vacation! Now that the holiday season is over, we can finally relax and not feel guilty about sitting down in the evening and doing nothing. Why not go on a fun winter getaway! Whether for the weekend or longer, this time of year hotel rates can be much cheaper.

One of two fireplaces in the lobby, so cozy! 

Lobby at the Chicago Athletic Hotel

Right after Christmas, my family visited my grandparents in central Illinois. On our way there, we took a detour and stopped in Chicago for the night as my husband had never been. My mom, using her old skills as a travel agent, found the most amazing hotel for an unbelievable rate! The Chicago Athletic Association is located off Michigan Avenue right down the road from all of the great shopping and across the street from Millennium Park. Opened in 2015, this hotel has the feel of a gentleman's sports club as that is exactly what it used to be, so when it was renovated, they wanted to keep it's memory alive. The rooms' decor has a vintage sporty feel and there is a huge game room on the premises. The lobby is stunning! Fireplaces, grand staircases, leather chairs... oh my! Every one of the staff we came in contact with was very friendly and helpful. And if you can't bear to travel without your pup, no worries, they're pet-friendly! They have a rooftop restaurant called Cindy's that has amazing views of Lake Michigan. We didn't eat there, but we were able to go up to enjoy the view. There is a terrace with a fire-pit so you can stay warm! I wish we had planned to eat there because the food looked amazing! I also need to mention that there is a Shake Shack located in/by the hotel. YUM!!

Beautiful marble staircase!

Such cozy rooms! Notice the pommel-styled bench!

Beautiful bathrooms!

C.O. Bigelow Barber soaps, smelled amazing! In a sweet and spicy, masculine way.
Sweatshirt styled robes!

While we were in Chicago, we walked to Millennium Park to see the infamous Bean and then trekked over to Molly's Cupcakes, the winner of Cupcake Wars' Season Finale. They had so many amazing flavors it was hard to choose just one! Then we kept going to Navy Pier. It was around dusk at this point and the view of the city from the pier was beautiful! For dinner that night we got Giordano's, a deep-dish pizza chain but amazing Chicago-style pizza nonetheless!

The Bean!

Beautiful architecture nearby! 

My delicious chocolate cupcake from Molly's

View of Chicago from the Navy Pier, so pretty! and cold... does it look like I'm freezing? because I am!

The next morning we walked a block down the street for breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien. AMAZING French breakfast/brunch/lunch. This is also a chain, but isn't near us in the South except D.C. area. Seriously, if you ever come across one, go. You won't be disappointed.

Pastries gallore

Even though we were in Chicago for a total of 24 hours, we had a blast and can't wait to plan the next visit! If you go or have been, let me know what you think!!

We couldn't leave Chicago without a visit to Wrigley Field!

We had a great time! View from Cindy's rooftop terrace