1 Cakes & Louie: 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

Best. Husband. Ever.

I've been raving about the hubs a whole lot lately, and for good reason. Last night, he stayed up extra late helping me re-style the mantle so I could enter a contest that I likely have no actual chance of winning. If that's not love, I don't really know what is.

Isn't it pretty?

I figured that a photo of the mantle would look much better without a TV as the focal point, so I grabbed a couple pieces of foamcore and we got to work poking holes through it with a screwdriver and sticking white twinkle lights through each one. For how pretty the front of this looks, the back is a total mess of chevron duct tape and wires. Awesome. The original plan was to then cover the board in a thin white fabric, but we both agreed that we liked it good enough without. 

The other star of the display is my lovely owl statue from West Elm that's probably a little big for the space, but he's just so darned classic and wintery looking I had to have him up there. I will likely return the urn thing that my little rosemary tree from Trader Joe's is sitting in, but thanks to me waiting til just days before Christmas it was on super sale and may end up sticking around. And see that fun gold bow wrapped around it? Dan made that for me. See? I told you he was the best.

Now here's where you come in. The contest goes until New Years Eve and here's the best part - the winner will be solely determined by Facebook votes. So even though there's awesome bloggers on there with mantles that honestly blow mine out of the water, if I still manage to get the most votes, I win!!! And the prize is amazing. As in, a vintage brass square trunk that would literally take my living room to an entirely new level. So, pretty pretty please with a cherry on top click on over to Facebook and vote for me! You do have to 'like' Emily Henderson to do so, but she's pretty awesome and doesn't post often, and you can 'unlike' right after voting if you want. 

CLICK HERE TO VOTE! Just find my name in the entries and vote for me!

Happy Holidays friends. I hope you enjoy lots and lots of time with family and friends - which is exactly what I'm planning on myself. :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

If I had a Million Dollars: Christmas Wish List... #2

Dear Sneaky Jesus,
Here's some more ideas. Yay!

(Otherwise known as me online window shopping. Again.)

Nick & Nora Jungle Jim Footie Pajamas (this is not a joke) $24.99

My one in six billion

It's been kind of a rough couple of weeks for me. One of my oldest friends passed away from breast cancer (that had spread to her brain) and I road-tripped down to southern Illinois with my mom and Manda for the services. We stayed in a super charming hotel in her tiny little town, and I soaked in the 2 days of girl time with them and my friends Maria and Leslie who were also there for the services. The few days leading up to Eva's passing were tough knowing that she was suffering, but seeing this incredible outpouring of love and support from THOUSANDS of people, many of whom had never even met her was something I can't even explain. I can only hope that I am able to make even a fraction of the impact that Eva made on people.

Back at work last week I watched more than 20 people get laid off thanks to a huge account loss in recent months. There's really no way to describe the feeling of sitting at your desk for 2 hours watching people lose their jobs just a few feet from you (I sit right by several VP offices). Of course, there's also the fear the entire time it's happening that you'll be next, so needless to say my anxiety got the best of me for a couple days there. One of my very best friends was let go, and I'm already bummed being at my desk without her a few cubes away. We worked together at my last job as well, and I followed her here almost 5 years ago now!

So, I'm kind of ready for 2012 to end. I'm hoping 2013 will bring a fresh start for myself and many of my friends who are aching for the same thing. I'm not looking to leave my job or make drastic changes or anything, but I am ready for some major positivity and less stressing out.

Thankfully, I have Dan, who has been absolutely incredible through everything. I could ramble on about how amazing he is, but instead I'll let Pinterest do the talking for me, in the form of this adorable little print I found recently -

Happy Monday friends. Hang in there - one week til Christmas!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

If I had a Million Dollars: Christmas Wish List

We decided this year to try out a Secret Santa with the hubby's siblings and significant others, seeing as there's nine of us now and nobody is exactly rolling in money enough to buy gifts for everyone. Dan cleverly renamed our Secret Santa to "Sneaky Jesus", which I found absolutely hysterical for one reason or another. I like to think whoever ends up having to shop for me is kind of lucky in the sense that I pretty much want every single thing I ever see. Walk into a store, close your eyes and point, and chances are there's something I would like. It's a little ridiculous really. Either way, my Sneaky Jesus has it easy if you ask me. And to help whoever that might be (and the hubs, hint hint), I decided to put together a little wish list of sorts. Unfortunately there's not actually a whole lot of things on here under the $30 Sneaky Jesus price cap, but there's a few and I figure it's still a good indication that I'd be happy with most anything. Behold - my 2012 Christmas Wish List!

Oh My Chic Sweatshirt ($55) - This is adorable. And would look perfect with these.

Printed Backup Phone Battery ($39.50) - I cannot tell you the number of times my phone battery percentage creeps down to single digits throughout the day. I blame my addiction to Instagram. Imagine all the extra time I can spend liking photos with this extra battery!

Gold Athena Tray ($45) - This bad boy is all over the blogosphere, and I'm in love. I'm pretty sure it's the one thing missing from my living room.

Kate Spade Jewelbar Stud Earrings ($38) - I have a gorgeous gold Kate Spade necklace that the bestie got me for my bridal shower, and it bugs me that I don't have gold earrings to wear it with. These are also gorgeous in just about every color under the sun.

Lacquer Jewelry Box ($49) - I don't have a whole lot of jewelry, but what I do have is all over the place. Let's wrangle it all in to one pretty box, shall we?

Gold Chevron & Confetti Paper Placemats ($25) - I could see myself encountering great anxiety trying to choose between these two patterns. I'm sure this comes as no surprise to anyone that knows me well.

Kate Spade 2013 Desktop Spiral Calendar ($38) - I've decided that 2013 is the year I will finally meticulously organize my entire life. Twenty bucks says Dan is going to roll his eyes at this news (hi honey, love you!)

Gold Sequin Sherpa Lined Slippers ($16 at Old Navy) - I can't find these online anymore, but I am really hoping they're still in store.

Limited Edition Birchbox Home ($58) - Getting my Birchbox every month usually makes me squeal, and I adore opening up the little box and unwrapping my samples to see what I got. This limited edition home box looks nothing short of amazing, and I'm already imagining all the fun parties and crafts I could use everything in the box for.

Kate Spade Card Case ($58) - What? I love Kate Spade, ok? I also love the idea of a fancy pants little case to carry my business cards around in. You know, for when I need one to drop in the fishbowl at Chipotle to try and win a free lunch. (PS - I've seen these cases in all kinds of colors at the outlet for half this price, and have no idea why I haven't just bought one yet).

DKNY Be Delicious ($45) - My current bottle is almost gone. Probably because it smells so delicious. Hehe.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bold Legs

I saw this image on Pinterest awhile back and immediately added it to my "I wish I was stylish" board.

If that's not coziness for the winter, I don't know what is.

Regardless of how much I love the image and the idea of fun patterned leggings, they're not exactly a necessary purchase in any way, and certainly not something I would spend a lot of money on. But, when the lovely PLA ladies posted a link to nordic-style sweater leggings in a plethora of colors and patterns on ebay for less than $5 a pair, I figured it was meant to be and placed an order! I snatched up a pair that look very similar to those in my inspiration image, as well as a more fun holiday pair with little reindeer on them. Fingers crossed they arrive by Christmas for me to sport at family get-togethers with a long sweater.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Brass & Gold

I'm sure I'm the last blogger in the world to hear about High Street Market, but boy am I in love. I stumbled on it via Pinterest, and immediately browsed through the entire site looking at all the goodies. As with a lot of other shops I've found and fallen for, their little random knick-knacks are much more in my budget range than their pillows, throws and small furniture (like bar carts and end tables... swoon). I have yet to figure out where people get $100 to drop on a pillow for the couch, but I digress because there are plenty of other little goodies from High Street Market that I'm loving.

As I went through the site and started to pick out some favorites, I realized that most everything I loved was brass or gold. While this isn't a huge surprise to me lately, it's interesting how things change - as early as just a year ago I couldn't stand anything gold, and gravitated towards silvers tones. Now, I find myself adding little touches of gold throughout our home on a regular basis, and wouldn't mind any of these items being added in as well.

gold rope wall hooks (three of these would look amazing in my hallway, just saying)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Guess what? I took advantage of a 75% off Cyber Monday sale and finally finally finally ordered two rugs I've been drooling over for a year!

Rugs are one of those things that just cost too much for me to talk myself (and the hubs) into more often than not. Currently, we have a 5x8 foot gorgeous rug from Pottery Barn in our living room, a big plain off-white one in our bedroom that we got at Target for less than $100, and $25 Ikea rugs in our extra bedroom and office. In other words, rugs aren't really something we've put a whole lot of time, thought or money into before. While I completely agree that a good rug could be something worth investing in for some people, we just don't have the money to drop on one from the places I usually see nice ones at - West Elm, Layla & Grace, Crate & Barrel, etc. And, knowing that we have a rowdy dog, lots of foot traffic and future kids that will spill, we're not willing to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a rug. 

So, I've been watching sales on RugsUSA.com for over a year since I fell in love with both of the patterns seen above. The site is pretty much always running a sale of some sort, but the percentage off varies week to week and holiday to holiday. I thought for awhile that Black Friday or Cyber Monday might be a good sale, and thankfully - I was right! The site provided a code for a whopping 75% off regular prices (which are already fairly reasonable compared to other sites), and last night I finally convinced myself and Dan to take the plunge and place an order!

Our new 7'6"x9'6" charcoal gray trellis rug will go in the living room, and I'm hoping the larger size will help to ground the room overall better than the 5x8 that's in there now. And, while the darker color will likely require more vacuuming up of Louie's hair, I'm also hoping it will help hide spots better than the current lighter pattern. I'm really excited for something that's a little more grown-up and modern in the space that we spend most of our time in.

And our new 7'10"x10'10" light blue chevron rug will go in our bedroom. I know some people are over the chevron trend, but to me it's a timeless yet fun pattern that's easily paired with other colors, patterns and pieces, so I continue to love it. With the discount code, this huge rug cost a measly $88! I'm insanely pumped about the crazy affordable price, and hope that this new piece will help kick us back into gear with our bedroom makeover. We've talked about tackling the painting over the holidays, I still want to DIY a big starburst mirror, and I'm itching to hang some of our favorite wedding photos on the walls.

Needless to say, I can't wait for either of our new rugs to ship. Photos to come when they arrive! Anyone else score any amazing Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

No More Cords!

I had a bit of what I like to call a spaz attack a couple weekends ago, and decided I had simply had enough of all the cords running across the walls in our living room. If you look in the background of this absolutely amazing photo of the hubs and Jeff, you can sort of see what I'm talking about -

Basically, because we don't have room for an entertainment center of any kind in our living room, the TV is on the mantle and everything else is on a shelf to the side - so all the cords ran back and forth to all the different electronics. And since the only outlet on that wall is to the OTHER side of the mantle, there were also power cords going from the TV to the outlet. It looked messy and frustrated me on a regular basis, and last week the wonderful hubs finally decided to humor me and do something about it. 

After lots of shopping around and going back and forth about what we wanted to do, we decided that mounting the TV over the mantle and adding a soundbar underneath it (instead of a stereo with speakers like we had before) would be our best bet overall. Thankfully, Black Friday was just a few days away so we were able to take advantage of great sales! Of course, I can't find a link to what we bought, but we got a Sony soundbar with subwoofer (this one is very similar but costs more) for $100 at Costco, and a $20 TV mount at Home Depot. 

I pulled out all of the Christmas decorations while Dan tackled the electronics, and within a couple of hours we had a pretty, clean, cordless mantle! 

Isn't it pretty?

You'll see we also moved the cable box and dvd player over from the shelves to underneath the TV, so every single cord is essentially hidden behind those two pieces. There's still a couple of power cords that run over to the outlet, but we were able to run them behind the molding on the mantle so you only see them on the sides of the fireplace but not on top. I am a happy happy camper.

Other things to note are the new super soft faux fur stockings I snagged at World Market, and the new birchwood logs in the (fake) fireplace! Manda and I found them at Jewel of all places and $10 later we were lugging them home. I thought about filling the entire space but like that this keeps it a little more open looking while still getting the effect. We still have to put our tree up but are waiting on a call back from a doctor to confirm if Dan is allergic to pine or not before we bust out the fake tree again. My fingers and toes are crossed that we can get a real one!

Monday, November 26, 2012

DIY Chalkboard

Our absolutely amazing kitchen makeover left us with a little nook in the wall that was just begging me to do something with it.

I've known since day 1 that I wanted to put a nice big DIY chalkboard in the space, to help make it look a little more intentional, but it wasn't exactly at the top of our priority list. Then last week I suddenly got the urge to do something productive, so I dragged Dan and Manda to Home Depot and in no time we were starting on it!

I learned on my beloved Pinterest awhile back that making your own chalkboard paint in any color is insanely easy - just mix 2 tablespoons of unsanded tile grout in with 1 cup of paint and mix well. That's IT! I honestly didn't even bother to actually measure, but figured the little sample pot of charcoal gray paint I got looked like about a cup, so I just threw a couple spoonfuls of the grout right in there and mixed it up.

As far as the actual process of putting together our chalkboard, we decided to make it as absolutely simple as possible, which is probably not the best route to go, but totally worked for us. Basically, I measured approximately how large I wanted the chalkboard to be, and we had Home Depot cut some super cheap pieces of molding to size. I think the wood cost us something ridiculous like $3 total. When we got home Dan drove a couple quick nails into the pieces to make a frame, and then it was time to paint! 

For the wall, we just held the frame up where we wanted it, made sure it was level, and then I used a pencil to outline where I should paint. I used a small foam roller and did a few quick coats of my paint + tile grout mixture, and didn't even bother to stay in the lines since I knew the frame would cover it.

Next up was two quick coats of paint on the frame with a sample pot of Wet Coral by Behr, which is officially my newest color obsession.

We sort of kind of waited for everything to dry, and then held the frame back up on the wall, made sure it was level and nailed it in with Dan's nail gun all around the edges. Then, I swooned over my beautiful bright chalkboard and smiled like an idiot at it before going to bed.

The following evening (when all the paint was actually dry), I used the side of a piece of chalk to cover the entire surface, which I learned is called "conditioning" and helps get the chalkboard ready to use.

Finally, the next night, I got to wipe it down and have some fun with it! I used one of my all-time favorite lyrics "Home is wherever I'm with you", which is from Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zereos' hit song Home... which happens to be the song we cut our wedding cake to!

Cute, isn't it?

Total, this project cost less than $10 and took about an hour (not including the 20 minutes I spent drawing up the song lyric). I'm sure there's plenty of ways to complicate it - like doing more precise measuring or making a fancier frame, but for us this was perfect and I'm loving the bright pop of color it brings into the room!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Beauty Must-Haves

I've seen lots of bloggers that post roundups of their all-time favorite beauty products, so I figured it's high-time I go ahead and do the same. What's funny is that I literally don't know the first thing about "beauty" in general, but I have gotten to a point where I love love love a handful of products and feel lost when one of them runs out... so I figured why not rave about it all in one place? What's even better is that in true Kelly form, all of these products are bananas cheap (with the exception of one, but it's amazing and it lasts for-EVER so per-use cost is still insanely reasonable).

Enjoy perusing my favorites!

From left to right:
Suave Dry Shampoo - Uh, it's less than $3 and eliminates that gross greasy look when I'm too lazy to wash my hair (which is more and more often lately. Don't judge.) Can't live without it. ($2.54)

Body Shop Olive Beautifying Oil - Bridget and I grabbed this on a whim during a big sale, and we're both in love. It's moisturizing without being oily, and it smells a.maz.ing. ($14)

Mario Badescu Seaweed Cleansing Soap - So, I've had acne for my entire adult life, and while it's manageable most of the time, I still have to be VERY careful about what I put on my face. This cleanser is mild and doesn't make me break out, which is just about all I need in a face wash. I also use Mario Badescu's Glycolic wash a few times a week, which I highly recommend for acne-prone skin. ($12)

Clinique Even Better Dark Spot Corrector - This is my one major beauty splurge, and totally worth every penny. Thanks to the aforementioned acne issues, I've got lots of dark spots and scars, mostly on my cheeks and jawline. I used this correcting serum religiously for several months before our wedding and it made a huge difference in the overall appearance of my skin. ($76 for the large size that will last a few months)

H2O Eye Makeup Remover - Bridget hosted a "Favorite Things: Beauty" party last year right before the holidays where each girl brought her favorite product ($10 each) for every other girl there. We chatted about why it was our favorite and then handed one out to everyone. So, everyone went home with a basket full of new products to try! I cannot WAIT for this year's party! Anyways, someone brought this makeup remover, and I have been cranky trying to remove my makeup ever since it ran out. It's oil-free, removes everything in an instant, and doesn't sting my eyes. Honestly, it's in my top 3 absolute favorites on this whole list. ($16, unless you find it at Nordstrom Rack for less, which I have not.)

Buxom Lash Mascara - My #1 Black Friday score from last year was this mascara, which was one of Sephora's $10 doorbusters. I've always been one for $4 drugstore mascara, but this stuff is totally worth the extra cost. I've had it a full year now and it hasn't dried out, and I've never had an issue with clumps. It's not super bold, so it's perfect for everyday! ($19)

Dr. Jart+ Beauty Balm - I reviewed this product back when I first bought it, and I'm still just as crazy about it as I was then. And, I've had it since June and I'm nowhere near finished with the tube. ($34)

Elf Waterproof Eyeliner Pen - Not kidding, this is the best eyeliner I have ever used. And it costs a whopping DOLLAR. One con - the cap almost always pops off when I travel with it, which can dry it out quickly. Thankfully, it costs next to nothing to replace. ($1)

Yes to Carrots Body Butter - I buy little purse-size tubs of this body butter from the travel size aisle at Target, and keep them everywhere - my desk, my purse, my nightstand. It has a super light scent and doesn't feel greasy, which is nice when you use it as often as I do (my skin is really dry - especially in the cooler weather). ($12.99 for a big tub)

Garnier Tinted Under-eye Concealer - I absolutely 100% will NOT leave the house without this. Even when I'm recovering from a night out and heading to breakfast at a diner with friends and my pajamas, I take 10 seconds to use this product first. And - it lasts forever! ($11.99) 

So there you have it! My top faves. What are yours??

Monday, November 19, 2012

Christmas Cards

I've said for years that I wanted to send out Christmas cards to family and friends, but it always felt a little weird since we weren't married yet. Last year, we had our wedding photos back in time to send out cards, and I was PUMPED about doing so. I printed the cards out on heavy paper and rounded the corners with a punch, and loved how they turned out. I especially loved the little play on words, which I thought was perfect for us as newlyweds.

I designed and printed the cards in a bit of a rush, and had a ton of trouble feeding the heavy paper through the printer, which resulted in us only ending up with a handful of cards to send out. I was bummed when we received cards from a ton of people and I wasn't able to send ours out to everyone. 

This year, I'm starting my planning now so I have plenty of time to print lots of cards and get them out to our extended families and our friends. I'm struggling with what to do since I don't have any new photos of us that I'm dying to print on a card for everyone, but I'm sure we'll come up with something and I'm excited for Christmas cards to be a new tradition for us (regardless of if the hubs loves it or not) ;)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Are you ready for a photo overload? Good. Because I am finally ready to post about the best night of the fall so far - Friendsgiving!

It was a major thrill for me to set the table using all of the goodies we got for our wedding last year. This was my first "real" dinner party, and setting up all the glasses and silverware made my heart happy.

I originally planned to keep the centerpiece simple with candlesticks, but we added on a second table at the end so I thought something small down the entire center would tie the two together. I ended up using four small lanterns that were outside decor from our wedding, and added little colorful gourds that I'd picked up when we went apple picking last month.

The little wreaths were 2/$1 at Target, and I used red and white bakers twine (also from the Target $1 Spot) to tie on the hand stamped place cards. The tablecloths are off white and had a bit of shimmer to them, so I used the wood texture and color of the wreaths and the mustard yellow place cards to keep the overall look from being too crisp and wintery.

I found a rubber stamp at Michael's awhile back that I knew would be perfect for Friendsgiving - it reads "Because you matter to me". I used it on the invitations and then stamped a little mini kraft paper bag for everyone with it. I used mini clothespins and the same letter stamps the place cards were made from to tag a bag for each person, and set out colored pencils and little slips of paper for people to write notes to each other with the cue "I'm thankful for you because..." The notes obviously got a little goofy after some wine, but they were also heartfelt and adorable, and I loved reading mine the next morning.

Bridget came over early to help keep me calm and to help keep Louie company while I got myself ready. It's the season to be thankful, and I am forever thankful for a friend like Bridget!

For the main event - I cooked a turkey! This was a major ordeal for me considering I can barely cook a piece of chicken in a pan without screwing it up, so I decided to use Alton Brown's famous recipe, which Food Network swears is totally foolproof. It required a few days of thawing in the fridge and then a sink full of ice water, brining overnight in a 5-gallon bucket on the cold porch, stuffing the cavity with aromatics (apple, onion. rosemary and sage) and a roasting. And, Food Network was right - It was amazing!! I freaked out a little when the meat probe showed the temperature right where it was supposed to be in under 2 hours, but from what I understand a 15 pound turkey is actually on the small side, so it wasn't too surprising that it cooked quickly.

Considering there were 12 of us and everyone brought at least one dish, we had a LOT of food. So good.

This guy (Jeff) came to town for the event, and I nearly cried I was so happy to see him. Jeff moved to DC at the end of the summer and we've all missed him tremendously. A party at our house just isn't the same without him, so it was really really wonderful to have him there for the weekend.

We ended up with an impromptu dance party in the living room, which has kind of become the norm for our group of friends. No complaints here - I LOVE dancing around and singing with my friends, and absolutely love late-night dancing with the hubs. Boy's got moves.

The men were men and treated us to a fire in the backyard later in the night. The weather was perfect for a little campfire, and Bridget's spiked cider was perfect to sip on while we all chatted.

All in all, I could not have asked for a better evening with friends. We celebrated Thanksgiving, a birthday and an engagement, ate a ridiculous amount of food and drank an even more ridiculous amount of wine. We are extremely blessed with such amazing friends, and I'm hoping Friendsgiving becomes an annual tradition for all of us in the future!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Go Vote

It's an important day, friends. Time to make your voice heard and help be sure our country continues to move forward in a positive way that supports the best interest of all of us. I was at my polling place for less than 20 minutes this morning, so time is no excuse! Get out and vote!

Monday, October 29, 2012

If I had a Million Dollars: Warm Up

I've been swooning over faux fur throws for quite some time now, but decided awhile ago that when I did finally get one, it was going to be AMAZING and huge and super cozy... and therefore probably very expensive. And just as I expected, I've fallen in love with one, and it costs a pretty penny. Or, you know, 19,900 pretty pennies, if you want to be specific about it.

That's right friends. I'm head over heels for a blanket that costs $199 ON SALE. I think I'm almost in a bit of shock at the fact that a measly little piece of material would cost this much, but that doesn't mean I don't still love it.

I've found other faux fur throws that look just as cozy and amazing as the one above, but here's a crucial little tidbit of information I learned recently - a throw rings in at 50x60" on average, which isn't even long enough for a shorty like me to tuck her feet under and still pull up to her chin. A blanket, on the other hand, like the one I'm in love with, is much larger - 96x80" on this one - which not only means I could practically drown in it, but also means that, say, a husband or a puppy would also fit perfectly underneath for some cuddle action when it's chilly out. I'll go ahead and call this one perfection minus the price tag.

Happy Monday! Stay warm.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


It's no secret I'm a super cheapskate (and proud of it), but I've learned over the last year or so that sometimes I just have to suck it up and splurge a little on something that is really really good quality that'll last. So, I've gathered myself a few key investment pieces, including my latest purchase just last night - a Betsey Johnson hooded anorak with a detachable faux fur liner. It is 110% my new favorite thing.

Truth be told, I didn't just say "time to invest in a Fall jacket!" and run out shopping. Instead, I did what you would expect I would do - I spent WEEKS running to every store imaginable, trekking to the outlet mall and searching online to try to find something I loved for a bargain. But, the very specific list of requirements that I had for my new coat left me with very few options, and this Betsey Johnson find was literally exactly what I wanted. For the record, the list included: hood, water resistant, goes past my butt, detachable liner, drawstring waist so it doesn't just hang on me, not a peacoat style, and preferably gray so it would work with my black bag that I carry everyday and/or my navy Hunter boots. (I wasn't being super difficult about this or anything) ;). So even though this coat checked every single requirement off my list, at $139 on sale, it still took quite awhile to convince myself to just go for it.

In the end, my decision was made thanks to a few factors:
- I had literally been to every store I could think of to look for a coat
- I had talked about needing a coat so much that even my boss was on the lookout for one for me
- The amount of time and gas money I was spending looking for something that I liked as much as the Betsey Johnson coat was getting a little ridiculous
- It was chilly and raining almost every day last week and I was VERY crabby about my lack of a hood to keep my glasses dry

So I splurged. $150 after taxes is a major hit on my monthly shopping budget, but I couldn't be happier about it. And if things go as planned, I'll still have several weeks left to sport my new coat before the temperatures really drop, and thanks to the detachable liner this baby will also be perfect in the spring!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

If I had a Million Dollars: Target + Neiman Marcus

Sometimes, I feel like Target just knows me. Given some of the marketing research I've seen, they sort of actually do in a weird way, but I'm talking about personal stuff here. Like I feel like Target is a real life friend that's there when I need them and knows exactly how to make me feel better. And don't bother pointing out that this is somewhat pitiful, I am fully aware, and not ashamed in the slightest.

Last night, I was wandering through my favorite Target location when I spotted a really sadly stocked endcap of Nate Berkus goods. Mind you, the Nate Berkus line isn't supposed to debut until Sunday morning, and I have been hyping this day up in my mind for MONTHS, so having it suddenly in front of me four days early was about as sad as a deflated balloon. What's worse, the endcap looked terrible and the packaging on everything was a disaster. I'm holding out hope that the items I saw were damaged in transit and that's why they put them out early, but that seems like backwards marketing, and either way, I was bummed.

So, I was pretty angry with my favorite store.

Then this afternoon, right as I actually felt like I could take 10 minutes to tool around online after a morning of meetings and craziness at work, I get an email from the beloved retailer announcing the first looks at their upcoming Neiman Marcus holiday collection partnership with some MAJOR big name designers (half of whom I've never heard of, let's be honest).

And there it was. More than 50 insanely gorgeous holiday gifts for me to peruse and pin and swoon over. My love for Target was immediately reignited. See what I mean about them just knowing? It's like they sensed that I was seriously mad, and figured they'd better do something big to make it better.

Obviously plenty of items in the collection would make perfect gifts, but I figured it was more fun initially to put together my personal favorites for the first installment of my newest blog feature - If I had a Million Dollars. You know, to buy whatever I want.

Clockwise from top left:

Proenza Schouler Sweatshirt ($29.99) - Nothing screams my name like a "nice" looking sweatshirt.

Marc Jacobs Pouch ($69.99) - Let's be real for a second here. I LOVE Marc Jacobs stuff. Every time I walk past a store without going in my heart hurts a little. But it's one of those brands I'm just not quite ready or able to invest in just yet because, well, I'm a major cheapskate. And these pouches aren't cheap either, but I can already imagine how pretty and soft they're going to be!

Band of Outsiders Best Friends Hats ($29.99 for two) - Bridget and I are going to be the coolest kids on the block with these. If I were you, I'd be a teensy bit jealous. ;)

Band of Outsiders Cookie Cutters ($29.99) - A slightly obnoxious price for 5 cookie cutters, but I imagine if I were to show up at my sister's door with a box of bow tie cookies she'd never stop telling me I'm the best sister in the world, and the wayfarer style glasses are bananas amazing.

Tory Burch Lunchbox ($19.99) and Thermos ($24.99) - What professional adult woman wouldn't want a trendy lunchbox? Nobody? Just me? Well whatever. I think it's awesome.

Is anyone else looking forward to this collection? See any items you want to get your hands on?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

In the Kitchen

I knew pretty early on that I was going to love our updated kitchen, but it really didn't completely occur to me until this weekend when we finished up a few more pieces of it and I utilized the heck out of my new counter space with lots of baking.

First up was FINALLY getting the doors on the cabinets. I was honestly very very VERY little help in the door-painting, so this chunk of the kitchen work is all thanks to Dan. Thanks cakes! I am loving how clean the whole kitchen looks with the doors on. And look!!! We have drawers!!! In our kitchen!!! You have no idea how exciting this is.

We also grabbed some shelves (finally) at Ikea over the weekend and Dan hung those up for me Sunday. I of course wasted no time at all styling them, and am totally smitten with all my colorful little kitchen goodies being out in the open and brightening up what used to be an unused wall.

(I just realized that the majority of the stuff on my shelves is from West Elm - the pretty little bowls, owl butter dish, and 'L' mug and small plates underneath it. Guess it's pretty clear who's homegoods make my heart skip!)

With lots of the clutter off the kitchen cart and the counter, I started up some baking right off the bat, beginning with homemade breadcrumbs that were toasting in the oven before the shelves were even fully hung.

Considering how insanely simple the breadcrumbs were, I imagine no stale bread will ever go to waste in our house again. I just threw chunks of bread into my food processor, spread the crumbs out on a cookie sheet and toasted them in a 350 oven for 7 minutes, and then mixed in a bit of olive oil and italian seasoning before throwing them all in an airtight container for later use. 

My infatuation of baking with apples continued with a recipe I make every year because it is THAT good - caramel apple cheesecake cookie bars. The hubs and I enjoyed a piece with a movie last night...

...while my caramel apple cinnamon ice cream base steeped in the fridge. After churning, I added in ALL of the below - cooked cinnamon apples, a caramel drizzle and graham cracker chunks. I have no doubts this is going to be decadent.

Overall, a bit of an indulgent weekend mixed with lots of hugs from my adorable nieces, a little bit of sleeping in and some shopping with my mom, sister and aunt. It's back to the grind today, but at least it's already Tuesday!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Just in Time

I finally decided to give up on finding the perfect sectional for the front porch and work with what we have. After all, a sectional would have run us at least $500, and spending a chunk of money on a really nice couch for the front porch isn't really top priority for us right now. And, the weather is at that perfect temperature where I just want to put on a hoodie and hang around outside (or on the porch with all the windows open). So, cheap updating it is!

I didn't exactly plan for quite so many matchy pops of my favorite teal, but it happened and I'm sort of loving it. And my sunshiney yellow chair adds in plenty of other color, so it works pretty perfectly.

The chair is from craigslist, the pillow cover is from Target, and the tall vase is from Ikea (and will likely get a happy dose of color in the form of spray paint someday). The amazing little tables were a score at Dan's new church's community garage sale this summer. I grabbed them for $8 each and spray painted the bronzy frames teal. The glass tops keep the small space from looking too crowded, and I love that they have kind of a bamboo look (although they're actually metal and super solid!)

The couch is the one I found in our alley (don't judge) and made Dan lug home with me at the beginning of the summer. I found the two flowery teal pillows on a Target endcap for $5 each just last week and LOVE them - they're heavy duty indoor/outdoor pillows, which makes them perfect for a space that's likely to get dusty and a little dirty. The sequined pillows were another Target clearance find last year on New Year's Eve and have migrated around the house since then.

I shoved a few thumbtacks into the wall to hang leftover pinwheels from the wedding, and a few more tacks in the ceiling were perfect for paper lanterns (also from the wedding)!

There's still a little decluttering to be done on the opposite side of the porch, but for now, I think this little space is perfect and ready for a glass of wine and a board game with friends!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Nautical Nursery

Don't get too excited dear (3) readers. I'm not planning a nursery just yet. But one of my besties is, and she made the mistake of mentioning liking nautical stuff to me, so naturally I have now taken it upon myself to become fully obsessed with anything and everything I see with anchors or whales on it. I was also looking for an excuse to not fold my laundry yesterday afternoon, and for one reason or another I find it thrilling to try and fit images together in a photoshopped square, so this happened -

Really, I'm not that crazy. See that a.maz.ing. ship's wheel mirror in the top right corner there? I found that bad boy on craigslist for a measly $30 yesterday morning during my typical browsing (yes, I like to type in my town regardless of if I need anything just to see what people are getting rid of - it's an addiction). I emailed the mama-to-be and nicely pointed out that I (really - she) could plan an entire nursery around that mirror, and I felt like the fact that it was just minutes from my house was a sign that it was meant to be.

Thankfully, she agreed that the mirror was a must-have, and since I had preemptively emailed the guy just in case, it was basically already ours and all I had to do was pick it up! And then the rest of this little mood board followed.

So, for anyone out there that's looking to plan a nautical nursery that doesn't scream "a baby lives in here!", peruse the links below and let me know what you think. And for anyone that doesn't like the lack of super-childish stuff, just imagine a crib, rocking chair and adorable bouncing bundle of joy in there, and it's instantly perfectly baby!

Clockwise from top left:
Moby Whale Wall Decor ($39)  |  Cast Iron Anchor ($8.50)  |  Ship's Wheel Mirror (craigslist)
Storage Boxes ($7.99)  |  Night Drops Pillow Cover ($39)  |  Ollie the Octopus ($14.99)
Chevron Pillow Cover ($14.99)  |  Sailor's Knot Bookend ($18)  |  Storage Chest ($69.99)
Nautical Art Prints ($30)  |  Anchor Box ($28)  |  Letter Hooks ($14 each)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wedding Week: Little Touches

Well it's official - I suck at blogging. While I had every intention of posting wedding goodies every day this week, here I am Thursday writing only my 2nd post. Regardless, I'm excited about this one.

It was important to me that I have lots of little sentiments with me throughout our day - nearly everything we did, no matter how small, had true meaning to Dan and I - and I wanted that to carry through to what I was wearing and carrying as well.

First there was a little bit of my mom's wedding wear on my shoes - in the form of the awesome little pouf flowers she made out of her veil that we attached to the toes. I loved how fun the poufs made my shoes, and loved that although I didn't wear my mom's dress or veil, I still had a tiny part of it with me all day.

Speaking of my shoes, they were just one of 2 "something blue" items that I wore that day. The second was a little Bolingbrook, IL pin that my grandma helped me fasten to the inside of my dress. My father-in-law gave me the pin at his 50th birthday party, which was one of the very first times I met him seeing as Dan and I had just started dating a few weeks prior. The party was at the Levy Center (where we had our reception!) and my F.I.L. gave the pin to me right off his jacket saying "Now not just everyone gets these pins you know, so you'd better keep it forever!" I did keep it, and I wore it on my wedding day as a little reminder of the incredibly awesome relationship I have with my very special father-in-law. I was excited to show it to him at the reception, and he thought it was awesome that I'd worn it.

I never knew either of my grandfathers, but I sure did get lucky with my grandmothers, and definitely wanted to carry something to remind me of both of them. My mom's mom lent me a bracelet that was the perfect little touch considering I wanted to keep my jewelry minimal.

When my dad's mom passed away when I was a teenager, all I wanted from her room was her jar full of buttons. My cousins and brother and I LOVED that jar of buttons, and it makes me incredibly happy that I have it. I took a gold button from the jar and Manda meticulously painted it with a tiny brush for me. We added a teeny rhinestone and fastened it to my (DIY) hairpiece flower. Given how many times I'd gone through that jar of buttons in my life, using one of them on our wedding day was the perfect way for me to have my grandma with me.

Outside of all the family sentiments, I also had items from two of my very best friends, starting with the "Mrs" hanger that Rachel got me for my birthday that 100% made the photos of my dress amazing.

(yes, yes that is an entire room dedicated to Elvis at my gramma's house.
I could not be more thrilled that my dress photos are in that room.)

Then there was the bouquet wrap from Bridget that had a something old, new, borrowed, AND blue on it. She gave it to me in a little box when we were all getting ready, and I immediately wanted it wrapped around my bouquet. You can also see the lace wrapped around the bouquet below - that was also from my mom's veil!

I've said it a million times and I'll say it again - it's the little things! The little things that make me happy, make me feel loved, make everything a little more special. And I'm thrilled that I was able to incorporate so many of them right into my wedding attire.