Friday, July 25, 2014

My Friday Five

Sometimes I truly think I chose the wrong profession, I am so jealous of all of you who are on summer break right now!  This week started out a bit muggy, and then transitioned into the most perfect weather, making it so hard to not just want to sit there and enjoy it.  The crazy part is it has been almost fall like at night, though I'm not complaining!  Here's a look back at my week.

1| Last weekend I hit the halfway point in my #100happydays challenge.  It's now a point where it's become a habit, which is good because I hope it will always keep me looking for at least that one thing each day I can be happy about.  Some days are way easier than others, and I'm so glad that Karly @ Miss in the Midwest joined along on the challenge with me, it's motivating to have someone along with you - thanks girl!

2| Monday night I finally satisfied my craving for some cheese fondu with an impromptu date night to The Melting Pot.  I don't know what it is about cheese fondu, but I could eat it everyday if it was allowed - ok so technically it's allowed but generally not recommend!



3|  I was doing some work the other night and got up to find Charlie sleeping on Martin's gym bag, seems logical, right?!



4| I have not been good lately about being consistent with my workouts, I actually made it out running two days in a row this week.  Small victory, but I will take it!  You have to start somewhere!


5|  On Sunday Martin and I are going to The Vintage Faire which I am super excited about.  I stumbled upon it on Facebook a few weeks ago, it looks like it's going to be a good collection of vendors with all sorts of great finds.  I love just walking and looking around, and maybe we'll even find a few pieces for the house!

I wish everyone a great weekend whatever you find yourself doing, see you next week!



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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Elegance Obsession: Crate & Barrel

I don't know about you guys, but I love browsing the pages of glossy catalogs for inspiration.  Whether it be home decor, fashion, food, it doesn't really matter there is just something about slowly flipping through the pages that I love so much more than clicking around online.

A few weeks ago I received Crate & Barrel's July Best Buys catalog in the mail and was instantly drawn in by the colors on the cover.

http://www.crateandbarrel.com/Catalog/default.aspx?Catalog_name=7924_67937a23_bac72f58&display_name=July%20Best%20Buys%202014

The blues and greens are colors I have all over the first floor of my house and I just love the serene feel, so of course I was quickly flipping through loving all the inspiration inside.  There was a period where I felt like everything at Crate & Barrel had gone to modern for my tastes, but I am happy to report that I no longer think that is the case, for I fell in love with several things!

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I'm loving all the colors of these beautiful dishes, it makes me want to replace all mine instantly.  The blush has to be my favorite, followed by the light gray, of course.

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How awesome is that mint sideboard?  Crate & Barrel has the best printed dish towels, they have the best colors and design and you can usually snag them for just a few bucks.

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I could seriously take them all!  It's such a good way to add a little extra punch to your kitchen, throw one of these over the handle of your stove or dishwasher and it's an instant pick me up!

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Speaking of being in the kitchen, they had all this great bake ware and kitchen supplies in these great blues and greens and yellows.  My first reaction was, where was all this great stuff when I was putting together my kitchen?!  It would all be so perfect for it!

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I fell hard for these bowls, something about the colors combined with the fact that they nest in each other, perfection!  I actually have an older version of these exact bowl, but the colors resemble that of the rainbow.  Don't get me wrong, I like them, but I love these!

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Now can you imagine cooking with all of these beautiful supplies in this kitchen?  A gray island on wheels, I don't know if you could combine more of my favorite things.  I am definitely going to need an island in my next kitchen!

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And once your done cooking you could sit down at this gorgeous dining nook to enjoy your creations.  The mint, teal, and white together, such inspiration!

I was so in love with everything in this catalog, too bad Christmas and my birthday are so far away!  Some things at Crate & Barrel can be pretty pricey, but what I love about their Best Buy catalogs is that they are filled with tons of things that are just that, best buys.  Great pieces and great values.  I've rounded up a collection of what I would come home with today, easily, I would put them all in my house without a blink of an eye!


Do you have a favorite catalog for inspiration?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fab Fit Fun VIP Summer Box

I love getting mail, like absolutely love getting mail.  Even though half the time, ok more like all of the time, the things that I am getting are things that I've ordered for myself, which is why it makes getting this piece of mail all that more exciting.  Yes I did order it for myself, but I have no idea what will be inside!  It's my FabFitFun VIP Box!



After the success of my very first subscription box (you can read about it here) I figured I would keep going.  What I like about FabFitFun VIP is that it is a seasonal box, as opposed to monthly, and it includes full size products.  Both times now my boxes have been full with over $200 worth of product, which is awesome considering I'm spending under $50, and it exposes me to some great products I most likely wouldn't have otherwise tried.  It also dosen't hurt that it's curated by Giuliana Rancic who is adorable and has great style.

Check out what I got in my Summer Edition VIP Box.


Here's what was inside:

Sonya Dakar Flash Facial| I was probably the most excited about this item out of everything in the box.  It claimed to reveal softer, plumper, and younger looking skin in just 60 seconds, and it retails for $95.  I will take better looking skin any day, I just usually wouldn't pay that much for it!  I've only used it once and so far I've liked it.  You can definitely tell it's sloughing off the dead skin cells and I felt it did leave me with a refreshed look.  I'll be curious after a couple uses if I notice a big difference. 

Pur~lisse Pur~protect SPF 30| I'm excited to give this lightweight moitsurizer a try, not only does it have natural ingredients it was also recently featured in Vogue as the Editor's Favorite Summer Product.

Thursday Friday Away Mini Clutch/Makeup Bag| This is a cute little bag that is fully lined, easy to throw make up in.  You can never have to many of these little cases around, they are especially great when traveling.

Balanced Guru No Frizz Oil| Super excited to try this hair oil, it's organic, cruelty free, and help combat frizz, which is always bad in the summer, especially for us curly haired girls.  This is a blend of argan, jojoba, and tamanu oils to help tame the crazy flyaways.

FabFitFun Water Infuser| This is a BPA free bottle with an infuser, so you can add natural flavors to your water, which is great for me, because sometimes I need a little help to drink as much water as I should.  I'm sure I will put this to use.

Zoya Nail Polish| You can never have too much nail polish and I love this bright coral color I received called Thandie.  Next polish change this will be going on my toes.

Kisstixx Lip Balm| The idea is 2 lip balms with compatible flavors that combine when you kiss.  I got chocolate and strawberry, could be interesting.

That is what I consider the good bulk of the box, but there were still several more smaller items in there.  There was a bag of POP Chips, Skintimate Shave Gel, Always Extra Protection Liners, and a Slimfast Meal Bar.  All in all, TONS of stuff.

Would you like to score yourself a FabFitFun VIP Summer Edition Box?!  They are still available to order and I have a coupon code good for $15 off your box, just imagine you could have all that listed above for $35, how awesome is that?!  The first 3 people to redeem this code, it's all yours!  8000724, use that number, go to town.  Even if it's used up I still think the box is a great deal, at $49.99 you get tons of great product, that's what I paid for mine and I think it's well worth it!  Go here to snag one of your own!

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bathroom Remodel: So Close!

Our bathroom remodel is getting so close to done and it feels so good!  For those of you who follow along on my instagram I shared this little sneak peak on Sunday of the progress in the bathroom.


Now before we take a closer look, it's always good to remember where you came from.  You know like way back in March when we actually started this project!  In all fairness summer has kept us a little sidetracked, but nonetheless it has been a long time coming.

Remember back when it looked like such.


I like how I didn't even bother to put the toilet seat down for the photo.  Now this was phase 1 of the bathroom makeover.  We had taken down the 1980's floral wallpaper and oak towel bars and updated the vanity, mirror, and light.  But eventually the tile wore on us, hence phase 2, major overhaul.  And now we're looking at this.


Love!  Working on this side of the bathroom was so rewarding because we got to see the results so quickly.  In the morning there really wasn't anything on that side of the bathroom other than the painted vanity.


We went with a prefabricated white quartz vanity top from Lowe's, I wasn't 100% sold on it because even though it says white, it's really more like an off white.  But with seeing everything together I think it was a good choice, if there was no budget I would have loved to go for carrara marble but that will have to wait for my dream house!  

The vanity top that we purchased had holes for a widespread faucet, I wanted to go with the Delta Porter since that is what we had used in the shower.  They had it at Home Depot for $119, but one thing I've learned from other renovations is to always check online, especially ebay.  I was able to score a brand new in the box faucet for $80, including shipping.  $30 saved, I'll take it.

The faucet and drain are really easy to assemble as long as you follow the instructions.  It probably took all of 30 min with Martin and I working together.  It's nice to have extra hands because things need to be held and tightened, and when it comes to actually putting the top on the vanity, that thing is pretty heavy!


I've picked up some hardware to put on the vanity to help give it some finishing touches.  It's so hard to choose from all the options out there, you better believe I checked them all out, and I'm still not completely sold on the ones that I came home with!
 
The other big addition, a toilet.  I know not the most exciting thing, but most necessary to call this room a bathroom and get rid of the big ugly hole in the floor we've been staring at for the past 4 months.  I can't say I know much about shopping for toilets.  We really just hit the isle in Home Depot and picked out a mid grade one that I liked how it looked and it was comfort height which seemed nice.  We went with the Kohler Cimarron.  Again the installation is pretty straight forward as long as you follow the instructions, I mean that's what they are there for!  And so far so good, no leaks (knock on wood).

I'm not sure if I'm sold on the mirror quite yet.  I just took the old mirror that was there and gave it a distressed paint job.


I'm leaving it for now to see if it grows on me.  The nice thing is an easy coat of spray paint can transform it to any color of my choosing.  And the best part is I've started to shop for accessories, here's a little preview of some of my finds.


I am excited to start putting on some of the finishing touches!

If your just joining me, catch up with my bathroom remodel:

Monday, July 21, 2014

Nordstrom Anniversay Sale Picks Under $100

Hey everybody, happy Monday!  Hope you had a good weekend.  Martin and I got a good chunk of work done on the bathroom yesterday and it's getting so close to being finished, I can't wait to share it.  It's amazing how fast the day can fly by, especially when you are trying to get things done!

Speaking of things flying by it feels like the days are just going by way way way too fast.  I've been so wanting to do some shopping lately and I just haven't had any time.  Well that's kind of a lie.  I've done plenty of shopping lately, but most of it has been for the house, cleaning and organizing.  What I want to do is some shopping for me!

On Friday Nordstrom's Anniversary Sale kicked off online and it's great for a couple of reasons.  One, everything that's on sale is for the season coming up, fall.  And since the days keep flying by I'm sure it will be here before we know it and with this sale I'll have some new things to wear when it arrives.  Two, when you shop online Nordstrom's offers free shipping not only to you, but on your returns as well, I am definitely a fan!  Three, I love getting a good deal on nice things, and Nordstrom's has nice things. (PS. They have no idea who I am, I just like them!)


http://shop.nordstrom.com/?origin=tab-logo

I've rounded up a few of my favorite items from the Anniversary Sale, almost all under $100, because that is how I shop.  You can hover and click on any of the items for more details.



That Michael Kors jacket is the perfect cold weather version to my Old Navy military jacket I used all spring, and this is the only item over $100, and I still think it's a good deal for what it is.  I am loving the neckline on the simple black dress, though it is a juniors so I am a little worried about the length.  I have been wanting a pair of boat shoes for awhile and love the gold accents on these, surprise surprise, I have been loving all things gold recently.  The long sleeve Halogen dress would be a perfect work dress and it looks so comfy, and I absolutely love the green blazer, such a great color and a great price!

I love tech wristlets that you can slip your phone into and I'm loving how slim this Michael Kors one is.  The BP Sweatshirt looks so comfy, but not sloppy, something easy to throw on on a casual day.  Now I just have to decide which of these pieces I to add to my closet.  If I had my way they would all be coming home with me!

Do you have your eye on anything in the Anniversary Sale?

Friday, July 18, 2014

My Friday Five

Oh hey Friday, I've been looking for you!  It's always hard when you head back to work after time off, this week has been no exception to that rule.  I find myself desperate for the approaching weekend, excited that it is almost here!

This week has been unseasonably cool for us here in Chicagoland, but I don't mind it.  It's still plenty warm during the day, but when it is slightly cool at night it is the best sleeping weather.  Lets check out a few highlights from this past week.

1|  On Sunday evening Martin and I grilled out, it was the first time this summer we made beer brats.  I love beer brats, it may have something to do with my Wisconsin heritage perhaps, but they aren't the greatest thing for you, so I definitely don't consume them as often as I'd like.  For those of you who don't know a real beer brat does not come from the store in a package labeled "beer brats".  Instead you take your plain old regular brats and some chopped up onions and boil them in beer for 20ish minutes before popping them on the grill.  That is a real beer brat and that is delicious!



2| Martin and I have now become regulars at the little crepe restaurant we like to frequent.  We walked in on Monday evening and the guy behind the counter asked if we wanted our "usual".  This is the only place we go where someone has remembered our usual's, and I kinda like it!  This time I had to go a little out of category and add a dessert crepe to the mix, it was well worth it!



3| I have been slowly acquiring items for my home office and this gem came in the mail this week.  I am in love with my new stapler, simple as that.



4| I came across this chart on Pinterest the other day which I thought was a perfect follow up to the post I shared on Wednesday about Quitting Sugar.  This would be a great chart to print out and keep in the kitchen, an easy way to choose healthier alternatives.

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5|  I am 99.999% sure that this is the weekend that all big things in the bathroom get completed.  I am so excited because that means all that is left will be the finishing touches, a few decorative items and I can stamp this project done!  Can't wait to share to results with you guys!


Hope everyone enjoys their weekend, whatever it is that you do with it, see you Monday!

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Quitting Sugar & Naturally Sweet Options

I don't know about you guys, but I have one large sweet tooth.  I can't finish a meal without having a dessert, or at least something sweet.  When I was younger I used to be so bad about satisfying my sweet tooth with tons of sugary candy and in addition to that drank my fair share of soda.  We've all heard that too much sugar isn't good for you, but did you know there are 10 ways it can affect your overall health?


The original 10 Reasons To Quit Sugar infographic can be found at http://www.thecandidadiet.com/10-reasons-quit-sugar/.

Crazy, right?!  I will gladly do without all of those things.  I have been trying to reduce the sugar in my diet over the last year more so just to "be healthier" than anything else, but these reasons give me even more ammunition. 

Now we know a few things, that nothing is good for you in excess and not all sugars are created equally.  Being able to use natural sweeteners like honey or agave nectar can make all the difference over using artificial sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup or aspartame. 

It's amazing how over time if you have removed the artificial sugars from your diet you can so easily taste and identify if you are eating something with them in it, and how it just can taste over powering and fake.  You don't even want to eat it anymore.

Here are two naturally sweet recipes I use that totally satisfy my sweet tooth.

Natural Lemonade

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Juice 2-3 granny smith apples and 1 lemon.  The sugar from the apples provides the sweetness and you get the taste of a cool refreshed glass of lemonade, which is the best in the summer, without any added sugar, plus all the health benefits from freshly juiced fruits.


Raw Cashew Cookies


1 cup cashews
1 cup pitted dates
1/4 chocolate chips or chunks
1/4 coconut

Using a food processor, start at the top of the list and work your way down.  Throw in the cashews first and grind, then your dates, and then any thing else you would like in your cookies.  My go to is chocolate and coconut, but you could add in peanuts and chocolate or dried cranberries, the options are endless.  Once you have everything broken down use your hands to form small balls about 1.5 in.  The dates act as the glue and sweetener and hold everything together.  If you like a softer cookie you can keep them at room temperature, or you can throw them in the fridge if you like them a little more firm.  To me these are just as satisfying as a traditional cookie, but it's almost like your getting to eat the cookie dough versus a baked cookie, which to me is all the better.  The plus is they are also gluten free, easy win win.

Do you have any favorite naturally sweet recipes?  Please share!

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