Friday, August 29, 2014

Oh Hey, Friday

Yippee, the long weekend is here!  I am so glad to have some time with nothing strict on the agenda.  Martin's family is coming to visit this weekend and I look forward to just relaxing and enjoying the weekend, no time crunch or tons of things to get done, just go with the flow, which I am so ready to do!

Here's a look back at a few highlights of my week.

1| On Monday Martin and I had some time to kill before an appointment and stumbled upon a new to us antique store.  I was super excited about this one, usually I don't have great luck at the antique stores in our area, but this one seemed to have tons of great finds.  Though we didn't have a lot of time to spend in there that day, I still managed to walk out with a small Jadeite Fire King bowl, and look forward to going back.

2| After our antique adventure I had my second acupuncture appointment.  I didn't notice much after my first session, but after my second one I could totally start to feel the effects.  It wasn't really immediately, more so the next day.  I could feel myself being more calm and relaxed, which is a big part of me doing this.  But also, the medication that I've been on typically doesn't make me feel that great (think bloated, and just generally kinda gross feeling) and I could definitely tell the difference in that department, I felt so much better.  I'm excited to see what happens next week.

3| I whipped up a quick easy lunch with a pot full of vegetables from our garden.  It felt good knowing we grew everything that was in that pot!  Onions, zucchini, tomatoes, it was awesome.  After I sauteed them I mixed in some quinoa, and finished, easy.

4| I managed to work out 4 days in a row this week, and frankly I think that needs celebrating.  It really shouldn't be considered quite the feet, but well, it is, at least for me.  I actually really enjoy working out, what I don't enjoy is the feeling like I don't have enough time to get everything done that I want/need to get done.  

5| It only took me about 5 years of living in this house, but I finally managed to get some pictures up on our bedroom walls.  You know, it's really the little things!  I hope to be sharing some of the progress made in there soon.

Me and my reminder app on my phone have been BFF's this week with how much I've had to get done.  I am so looking forward to not trying to get anything done for the next three days.  Well except for eating, sleeping, you know the necessities.  I hope everyone gets a chance to relax and enjoy the long holiday weekend.  Happy Friday!

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Anniversay Traditions

There is something in me that loves traditions.  I don't know what it is.  Maybe it's the rule follower in me.  Maybe it's my interest in history and things of the past, not sure.  In honor of Martin and I's anniversary coming up on Monday I shared our wedding story yesterday, and thought I would continue the theme today with Anniversary Traditions.

I always remembered when I was younger my grandma gifting my parents certain things on their anniversaries, my mom would mention "this is what your supposed to get when you've been married ___ years."

As my own anniversary approaches I was curious about these anniversary traditions, so I decided to look a little bit more into it.  It turns out these traditions have been going on for centuries, practiced slightly different around the world, and through the decades, but all with the same general meaning.  To help celebrate the passing of another year together special gifts are assigned, each with their own symbol and meaning.  In the US the gifts start simple and gradually increase with significance and value over time.  It's said that this reflects the investment that the couples give of themselves to each other over the years of the marriage.

Now days there is a modern year by year gift list that has also been put together by researchers at the Chicago Public Library, but I like the idea of sticking to tradition!

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Checkout my Pinterest board where I have gathered together some ideas for year number 2, cotton.

Are you one to follow tradition?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Our Wedding Story

September 1st marks Martin and I's 2nd wedding anniversary, since it is right around the corner I thought I would share our wedding story, well wedding adventure is actually more like it!

Martin and I always knew that we wanted a smaller, casual, and more intimate wedding, so when the time came we entertained several different option for our big day around the Chicagoland area.  We finally settled on getting married on a yacht on Lake Michigan.  I love being out on the water, and it seemed like something fun for our guests to do.  Not only was it a wedding and celebration, but a night out to enjoy the beautiful Chicago lake front.  Side note, if you haven't seen the Chicago skyline from the lake, it's a definite must.

Now I should preface by saying a few things.  We had a great party and a great time, but absolutely nothing went according to plan!  If you've been following along here for awhile, you know what a planner I am and though I am increasing my level of flexibility I was actually surprised at how well I handle everything not going to plan that day.

It turned out that that weekend we ended up getting the remnants of Hurricane Issac that had made landfall a few days before in Louisiana.  We had an evening wedding planned and all day it was gloomy looking, with a few sprinkles here and there with an occasional sliver of sunshine poking through.  I just kept telling myself, no big deal it will clear.  The good news is it made for some beautiful sunset photos.

Speaking of photos, this is where we get into hurdle number 2, though we didn't know it until after everything was said and done.  We hired a freelance photographer for our wedding, and everything seemed legit.  We had a contract, did engagement photos, had the wedding, and then nothing.  She literally disappeared and took our wedding photos with her.  Never got to see any of them.  That is the one thing I am seriously bummed about, that I don't have more photos documenting our special day.  We have a handful of photos that we were able to gather together that friends and family had taken, so at least we have that.

Back to our actual wedding day.  We weren't sure what was going to happen with the weather, but so far it had held out and we were good to go.  It was time to make our way from the hotel to the harbor to board the yacht.  Easy, we were staying about a 10 minutes cab ride from Burnham Harbor.  Easy that is if there isn't a game going on at Soldier Field, which in fact there was.  Not only was there a game going on, it was just getting out.  Now this presented a few new obstacles.  One, I never even considered checking if there was going to be a game at Soldier Field that day, lesson learned.  Two, when there is a game they shut down the museum campus, which is how you access Burnham Harbor.  By shut down I mean, all the roads are closed and blocked off.  We luckily had an aggressive cab driver who got us to where we needed to go, but it wasn't the same for all of our guests.  Some of our guests got let off by their cabs far away and had to walk over through the campus to the harbor, thankfully everyone eventually made it.

Now at this point the weather had still held out, we had finally all made it to the boat, and we were boarded and ready to go.  The game plan was to take the boat out in front of Buckingham Fountain for the ceremony, and then we would cruise the Chicago Shoreline afterwards. This is the part where I remind you that we were in the mist of receiving the after math of Hurricane Issac.  We came around the wall of the harbor and it was insane.  Seriously crazy.  The boat started rocking violently from side to side.  You could hear all our flowers and candles go crashing of their surfaces.  Water was coming up over the sides, I seriously thought we were all going overboard!  Needless to say, that didn't last for long before I told the captain to turn the boat back around and get inside the safe walls of the harbor again.  I couldn't believe he hadn't mentioned anything to me before we headed out, like the water is a little rough, something. . .anything!

Exchanging rings, officiated by our good friend Chuck.

Once we got safely back into the harbor we were able to have our ceremony and enjoy the evening with our friends and family.  Though it turned out different than expected, it is a night I will never forget!

Martin's toast

Cutting the Cake

I definitely look forward to some day renewing our vows in a very peaceful, calming occasion!

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What I Wore: Elegant Casual

This summer I was on the hunt for a pair of lace shorts, at least that's what I called them.  Now I've figured out, depending on where you are looking that crochet shorts could also be the proper terminology.  I had a few requirements in these shorts, they needed to have a some length to them, no need to look like I was just wearing underwear.  They needed to have a little give, for me that's a must in shorts, otherwise they just don't feel all that comfortable, and comfort is definitely key! And last, no tiers, I wasn't looking to add any volume, I do that fine just by myself.  I was keeping my eye open whenever I would go out shopping, but nothing seemed to be jumping out at me.  Until a few weeks ago, when I make a quick run to the mall.  I just so happened to park at the JCPenny entrance, and when I was on my way through I remembered I scored an awesome pair of shorts there last summer so I thought I should check it out.  Low and behold, I came across my crocheted lace shorts.

I put this outfit together for a casual Sunday night dinner out.  It worked perfectly for the hot humidity we've got going on in our neck of the woods.  I can't really complain because usually it's like this for all of July and August, and we've just had a small taste this summer.

I searched high and low on the JCPenny website to no avail to track down these exact shorts for you.  I did find something similar, though when I bought them just 2 weeks ago, they were still full price (I know, I never pay full price, but they fit all my criteria so they came home with me) and there were plenty of them, so perhaps if you too are on the hunt for some lace crochet shorts you would have luck finding them in the store.

Shirt| Old Navy (See similar options below)
Shorts| Joe Fresh, JCPenny (Similar)
Flip Flops| Havainas, Nordstrom Rack (Same)
Earrings| Kate Spade, Nordstrom Rack (Same)

I love the effortless combo of something a little bit more fancy paired with a great graphic tee.  Speaking of graphic tees, Old Navy has so many right now that I could bring home with me.  It doesn't hurt that most of them are on sale too, I love all the French inspired tees I've been seeing this summer.  I've rounded up some of my favorites below.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4
5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Friday, August 22, 2014

Oh Hey Friday

Who's excited for next weeks long holiday weekend?!?  I am!  Yes I am already thinking about it, because that means a week from now I will be gearing up for a much needed long weekend, which includes celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary!

Sometimes I sit down to write my Friday post and can't believe enough days have gone by since the last one to actually warrant a new post.  Ok not sometimes, pretty much all of the time!  Everything just needs to slow down, seriously.  Here's a few highlights of what I can remember of my week so far.

1|  Saturday night I got to watch my best friend get back on the competition floor again, making her debut with her new partner, and they killed it!  I'm so glad I got to be there and watch her shine and do what she loves to do!

2|  For the first time in longer than I can possibly remember Martin and I did nothing on Sunday.  Absolutely nothing.  I wore my pj's all day, and we lounged around and watched TV and did nothing special at all, it was fantastic.

3|  On Monday Martin and I had our first acupuncture appointment.  I am glad that he is doing it with me, and I am looking forward to the benefits that it can provide, especially the fact that it can help with stress relief, because I am in some need of that!

4|  I love hearing people speak about their stories, journey's, and life's experiences.  How they got to what they've become.  On Tuesday at work I had the opportunity to listen to a great story from a great gentleman in our company.  It's funny because talks like that pull me in and I could listen forever, but put someone up their lecturing about something and I can check out so quickly.

5|  Last night at work we participated in the ALS ice bucket challenge.  It was awesome to do it as a team!  And in addition to us being crazy and dumping ice water on ourselves our studio is also going to donate $5 for every lesson taught the first week of September!

How has your week been?  Where ever you find yourself, and whatever kind of week you had, I hope that you have a great, enjoyable and relaxing weekend.  See you next week!

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Life Lately

Last week I was sitting in my doctors office and she said to me "studies have been done that show that the emotional stress that women struggling with infertility go through is comparable to the emotional stress that cancer patients go through."  My first thought that came to mind is what am I supposed to do with this information?  Is this supposed to be justification for the bad days?  Or do I not feel bad enough?  I wasn't quite sure what to make of it.  My guess was that was my doctor trying to somewhat relate emotionally to me, which I can't say she's been great at.

Needless to say this journey that we've been on has been a lot harder then I would have ever imagined, (I shared the first bit about it here) but it sure has taught me a lot.  About myself, about Martin, about my marriage, and about people in general.  I know there is a lesson to be learned in everything, and I'm not always sure what that lesson is at the time, but eventually I like to think I figure it out.

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It's funny to me, or maybe funny isn't the right word, perhaps interesting, how much I find that I don't talk about what I'm going through.  It's feeling like you are that anomaly, which really can't truly be the case because 1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility, at least that's what statistics say.  I just don't personally happen to know anyone else who has gone through it, or if I do, I don't know about it.

Martin and I just found out last week that our second IUI didn't work.  If I thought that just getting a negative pregnancy test month after month while trying on our own was disappointing, getting a negative test after weeks of doctors appointments and days of pills and injections takes it to a whole other level.  I could have never imagined how let down I would feel, and I thought for sure after the first one failed and I felt how I responded to that, that I would be prepared to handle it if the second one didn't work.  I can't say I handled the second one any better.

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One thing I'm really not good at is feeling that lack of control, which is so hard in this situation, because it really isn't up to me.  The only thing that helps in this situation is feeling like I am doing everything that I can, so last Thursday when we got the news that the second IUI had not worked, after I picked myself up from my breakdown, I got to researching and looking around for what else we could do.  Having that feeling that I am doing something about it helps me so much, so on Monday Martin and I had our first appointment at an eastern medicine clinic.  A lot of studies have shown that combining eastern and western medicine can be really effective in overcoming infertility, so that is the next stage of our journey.  I had acupuncture for the first time on Monday, which I have to admit I was kinda nervous about, but in the end there really wasn't anything to be nervous about.  What I like the most is that once they put the needles in you are left alone to relax for quite a bit, I really don't know how long but my guess is 20 to 30 minutes.  I so often don't have that time during the day to do that for myself, where I put everything else aside and just take a moment to breathe and clear my mind, so I'm glad I am making that time for myself.  Here is to the next step of the journey.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Simple Solution: Bobby Pin Storage

I don't know about you, but I always seem to find bobby pins everywhere.  In my purse, on the counter, on the floor, in the car, on the couch. . . it doesn't matter where, they will appear.  This is mainly my fault because I take them out everywhere and I have no one good place to put them, they usually just hover on my bathroom counter till I need them again, which isn't great because then they get knocked all over the place.

I had an old mint container that was a perfect candidate to corral all of my bobby pins, I just wanted to get rid of the fact that the container said mints on it.  Washi tape to the rescue.  I may be a little late on this band wagon, as I've seen fun patterned washi tape all over blogland and this is my first project with it.  It's such a simple easy way to add a little something extra.

All you need for this easy little project is a reusable container of your choosing, some fun washi tape, and an exacto knife (because my top had tiny slits that needed cutting).

On a side note, if you haven't tried Trader Joe's Gingermints you totally should, super yummy.  The container is already super cute, in my opinion, but since I have containers floating around that actually do have mints in them I wanted something to distinguish the one with bobby pins inside.

1.  First, remove the top from the bottom, mine just easily popped off and separated.
2.  Next, I covered the top with the teal washi tap, one layer wasn't going to be quite enough as you could still see the text right through it.
3.  Then I covered the teal with the polka dots, starting with wrapping the edges first, like a present.  This is where I used the exacto knife to make the slits in the tape where the top attaches to the bottom.
4.  Continue to cover the top with the washi tape, trimming the edges or folding them under.  Finally snap the top back on, and voila, complete!

Now I have a place to corral all of those pesky bobby pins, hopefully that means I won't be having to buy as many new packages now or having to rescue them last minute before the vacuum cleaner sucks them up.

Are you on the washi tape band wagon? What's your favorite way to use it?


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Summer Fashion Essentials

As I am currently in denial of summer coming to a close, actually come to think of it I don't think it is just me who is in denial, for this is the most summer like weather we've had in months, so perhaps the universe is also in denial.  That being said I plan to still get plenty of wear out of my summer essentials.  Summer essentials being those great pieces in your closet that you can never really have too many of.  The never having too many part works for me, works great for me actually, mainly due to my love affair with shopping.  I am a true believer in retail therapy, you know, as actual therapy, it really does work wonders.

I may love some retail  therapy, my wallet not always so much.  I love looking around for a great deal, hence my true love for stores like TJ Maxx and Nordstrom Rack, just to name a few.  But recently I found out about another great way to save when you are stocking up on your summer essentials.  Have you heard of  It's an online marketplace where you can buy discounted gift cards to tons of great retailers, including some of my previously mentioned favorites.  How awesome is that?  I mean, I'm going to spend money at these stores anyway, why not get a little more bang for my buck?  Now is the perfect time to hit the end of summer sales and stock up on summer essentials that you can still get some wear out of as we transition into fall.

Here is what made it into my summer essentials this year.  They are all classic pieces that have gotten plenty of wear from me this summer, and I plan on continuing to get good use out of them for the next few months.  Now that I know about it might be dangerous!

Look 4 | Look 5 | Look 6 | Look 7

What are your Summer Essentials?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Oh Hey Friday

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Typically on Friday's I reflect back on the week and share 5 moments or memories that happened throughout, but I thought I would change it up a bit this week.  This week I am going to share 5 things that make me happy, because that is what I need right now!  5 random things, here we go. . .

1| Anytime I get to wander the isles of TJ Maxx, Marshalls, or HomeGoods.  I don't even have to come out with anything, I love looking at all the treasures and finding the great deals.

2| My morning coffee.  I love starting my day with my morning coffee.  I tried giving it up the last two weeks and yesterday I folded and had a cup, there is just something about it.  I only have one cup, and only in the morning, but I just don't know if I can give it up.

3| Anything with sugar.  I have the biggest sweet tooth, seriously the largest.  I have learned to curb it a ton over the years.  There was a time in college where I would go through sugary candy like it was nobody's business.  It didn't matter as much when you were dancing hours on end and religiously hitting the gym each day, but my 31 year old self can beg to differ.  Even though I've learned to limit myself, there is nothing quite as good as indulging in a sweet treat.  Gelato, Peeps (yes the sugary Easter candy, don't get me started. . .) ice cream, creme brulee, anything with frosting. . .you know I don't really discriminate.

4| My kitties, Max & Charlie.  Since Martin and I live on opposite schedules it's nice to not feel like I'm completely alone when I am home.  They snuggle and cuddle, even the grumpy one (that's Max, don't worry he knows he's grumpy).  It's always amazing to me how they know when you need attention, or a pick me up and they come and cuddle at those moments.  I also love the studies that show that petting your pets can help relieve stress, because I am in definite need of that benefit.

5| Being prepared and having a plan.  I am not a spontaneous, spur of the moment kind of person.  Anybody who knows me will attest to that, which is funny now considering at my job I constantly have to react and deal with spontaneous situations many times each day and I survive.  It's just not my preferred method of stress free living.  Sometimes my plan can be as simple as we'll go with the flow, but that's still a plan, to go with the flow, not just eh sure go with it, see the difference?  No?  Too bad, I do.

This weekend I'll be getting to do another thing that makes me happy, which is spending some time with my husband.  This weekend is a dance competition in Chicago, and though I am no longer competing I like going to support my friends and coworkers.  As much as it isn't Martin's favorite thing to do, I really like getting to get dressed up and go downtown with him for a nice dinner and evening.  Whatever is on your agenda this weekend, I hope you enjoy it!  See you next week!

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Everyday Elegance: eShakti

A few weeks ago I was contacted by eShakti to try out their website.  eShakti carries a variety of tops, skirts and dresses and the cool thing is that you can customize all of them.  Every piece you can either order in a standard size, or you can provide them with your measurements and they will create one just for you within just 14 days of your order.  But  that's not all you can customize, depending on the garment you can adjust hem lines, neck lines, sleeve lengths and so on.  At first glance at the website it can be hard to remember that, when I was first scrolling through the items I wasn't sure how "my style" things were going to be, but once you  click into an item it gives you all the options you can adjust to make it fit your style.

I figured this was the perfect time to step outside of the box and try out a trend I had my eye on, the crop top and midi skirt.  Realistically I don't know how comfortable I would be wearing this out in public, it doesn't show much, but I have a feeling I'd be a little self conscious.   Maybe a brunch with friends would be the right occasion?

I went with the custom sizing option because I never truly fit into any one size.  It was nice because I have broader shoulders so structured tops tend to fit tighter across the shoulders and arms, and this did not.  It also fit perfectly to my natural waist, the only thing that seemed a little off was the height of the top, I seemed to have a little extra room at the top of the shoulders, but that could be because my garment was two pieces instead of one.  I would definitely try it out again, they have a lot of classic silhouettes that would be very timeless in your closet.

Right now eShakti has a ton of promotions going on if you want to try them out for yourself.  If you are new to eShakti you can register and receive a $25 gift coupon, they also have a buy one get one free promotion going on right now, and on top of it all they have offered all of my readers 10% off through August 24th with the coupon code ELEGANTAIMEE.

PS. This is my first time stepping in front of the camera for an outfit post, it is definitely going to take some getting used to - in fact I usually hate having my picture taken!  But my goal is to do it more often!

Crop top & Skirt| c/o eShakti
Purse| Steve Madden (Similar)
Shoes| Nine West (Similar)
Bracelet| Ross (Similar)
Earrings| Gift (Similar)

Although I was gifted the items to try for this post all thoughts and opinions are my own.

* Coupon code ELEGANTAIMEE
Code has to be entered in the ‘promotional code’ box.   It is not case-sensitive.  
Code can be used any number of times until the validity period. 
It can be clubbed with any other promotional offer, gift coupon or gift card in the same order unless explicitly specified otherwise in the offer conditions.
This discount code is not applicable on clearance / sale, gift cards & overstock categories.
Not applicable on previous purchases.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Zucchini Recipe Roudup

Now that our summer garden has started to harvest it's that time of year when you have more zucchini then you know what to do with, and we only planted one plant this year!  Though I'm not complaining because I love the stuff, but we probably have enough picked right now to make all of these recipes that I found.  Since they all sounds so good, that's a good thing!  Whatever we don't go through I plan to shred and freeze so I can throw it in recipes later.  Here's my round up of some yummy looking zucchini recipes in blogland.

I may have favored more of the sweet recipes due to my own sweet tooth, but there are some savory ones in the mix as well.

Zucchini Corn Pancakes  | Banana Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins | Coconut Zucchini Bread

Lemon Zucchini Penne | Zucchini Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Parmesan Lemon Zucchini | Chocolate Zucchini Coconut Cake | Cheddar Zucchini Cornbread

 Zucchini Cookies | Glazed Lemon Zucchini Bread

 Zucchini Cobbler Bars | Cheesy Zucchini Pasta Bake | Salt and Pepper Zucchini Chips

What's your favorite zucchini recipe?