Saturday, December 29, 2012

Weekend Wishlist: After Christmas Shoe Steals

While a few of these great deals are STILL out of my price range, I'm enjoying lusting after them this afternoon:)
Shoe sales1. J.Crew Patent wedge heels, $160 - originally $228 (these are probably an additional 30% in store)

2. J.Crew Tassel loafers, $130 - originally $238 (these are probably an additional 30% off in store)

3. J.Crew Low heels, $109 - originally $178 (go in store for these -- I purchased them for about $50 in store)
4. Vince Camuto high heel booties, $106 - originally $156
5. Anthro Woven booties, $105 with code Wow30 - originally $220

6. Anthro Blanket booties, $70 with code Wow30 - originally $188
7. Anthro Glitter rain loafers, $35 with code Wow30 - originally $85
8. Anthro Blanket wedge heels, $70 with code Wow30 - originally $188

9. Anthro Shearling booties, $27.97 with code Wow30 - originally $78
10. Anthro Wedge shoes,  $35 with code Wow30 - originally $178

Brunch: French Toast

Happy weekend! (Okay, "official" weekend - this whole week has felt like one long holiday weekend to me.) I wanted to share this delicious (and super easy) French toast recipe.

A few Sundays ago I asked the hubs what he wanted for breakfast. Usually on a weekend I get a reply of Nookies (our go-to neighborhood full brunch spot) or CBA (our go-to neighborhood bagel spot). Instead, he replied "French toast." French toast? I've never made it and growing up in a health-conscious household definitely never ate it in my childhood. I did a bit of quick research and found an easy recipe that you probably already have the ingredients for (really who wants to go to the grocery before breakfast) and is as quick as pancakes.

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk (I used 2%)
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • bread (I used round sourdough loafs from our local grocery)

1. Mix the flour, milk, salt, eggs, cinnaom, vanilla and sugar together.
2. Pour it into a large Pyrex or cookie sheet (with raised sides).
3. Slice the bread and place it in the mixture. After a few minutes flip it so that both sides are saturated. The whole soaking process can be as long as you'd like - I'd say no less than five minutes (make coffee or heat syrup while you wait!)
4. Spray Pam or a similar non-stick spray on your frying pan.
5. Cook the toast on each side until it is no longer soggy to the touch and is a light brown on each side.
5. Serve hot with syrup. (if you'd like add powdered sugar, banana slices or fresh berries, or peanut butter - yum!)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday Cheer Bucket List Update

I think I may have tried to pack too much into December with my Holiday Cheer Bucket List! However, I'm pretty impressed with myself and the amount I've been able to check off the list so far.

1. Visit the Christkindl Market, drink spiced wine, eat strudel, and buy glass ornaments I halfway completed this. I did go to the Christkindl Market --- however, it was during my lunch break, so spiced wine and strudel was not happening. However, I did buy a potato-shaped Christmas ornament for Spud and a boned-shaped ornament to put with his walker's gift!

2. Walk through the Lincoln Park Zoo Lights Done and done. Even got to finally see the baby gorilla!

3. Make spiced wine I made spiced cider with mulling spices... I think that counts:)

4. Throw a holiday dinner (or three) Two down, one to go! I hosted a dinner for nine (John's family), a dinner for 12, and tomorrow night I'm hosting a small family Christmas dinner for five (as long as my parents are able to make it into Chicago with all this snow we're having.)

5. Pick out and buy a real Christmas tree YES! Here's proof. Let me tell you, it has really upped the holiday cheer factor at our house. Unfortunately it is getting a little dry and the thought of taking it down seems to be a daunting and messy task.

6. Make peanut brittle or toffee I've made snickerdoodles twice, pumpkin bread, red velvet cookies, a pumpkin pie, and apple crisp. For the sake of my waistline, I'm marking this one as done.

7. Watch Love Actually -- Why is this not on on demand or instant Netflix?

8. Watch It's a Wonderful Life -- This weekend, I promise.

9. Buy Spud a Christmas sweater Changed my mind on this and went with a Santa hat.

10. Build fires Yes! We've had many thanks to my husband.

11. Drink hot chocolate Instant... at work...

12. Make homemade pumpkin pie Did this last night!

13. Make homemade apple pie Does apple crisp count? I think yes.

14. See a holiday show (Christmas Carol, Nutcracker, etc.) -- Still working on it...

15. Go to a Christmas concert

16. Send cards to family and friends Done!

17. Start our own Christmas traditions

18. Play in the snow! -- So far, no opportunities, but I think tomorrow will be my chance.

19. Adopt a family Done! Did this with a group at work.

20. Ride the holiday train (This may be tricky now that I primarily take the bus. But waiting in the freezing cold to commute home and having the holiday train appear with its clean seats, festive music and Santa really makes my week.) I'm giving up. Catching it is a Christmas miracle!

Monday, December 17, 2012

DIY: No Sew Tree Skirt

In sticking to a holiday decorating budget and my neutral/rustic holiday color scheme, it was difficult for me to find a tree skirt that wasn’t (a.) bright red and green or (b.) $100+.

As a novice sewer and non-sewing machine owner, I had to get a little creative for a no-sew tree skirt. I initially wanted a burlap tree skirt, but thought I better go with an easier to work with material for my first try. I ended up ordering this chocolate brown basket-weave fabric from Amazon.  

End result:

2 yards of fabric
Sharp scissors
Ribbon (preferably with wiring)


1. Fold the fabric into quarters. Have the two sides with the ends of all four single layers farthest from you and to your right. The side with one big fold should be on your left and the side with two folds should be closest to you.

This video is super helpful in doing the cutting. I suggest watching it before going at it with your scissors – just to prevent accidentally cutting the fabric in half… ruining both holiday cheer and strategy.

2. Pin a flexible measuring tape (or string) to the lower left-hand corner. Measure about 27" out. Keeping one end of the string or measuring tape at the pinned corner, move the other end around the fabric and mark dashes to outline the radius. It should look like an even quarter of a circle. (Don't mind my lovely diagram.)

 3. Cut along the dashes.

4. Keeping your string pinned at the corner, measure three inches out. Mark your dashes and cut. (This will be the inner circle of the skirts that goes around the trunk.

5. Unfold the fabric. You should have an even outer circle and an inner circle.

6. Cut a straight incision from the outside of the circle all the way to the winner circle. This will be the opening of your skirt.

7. I decided to tie my skirt onto the tree with ribbon. To do this, make sure your ribbon has some wire in it so that the bow isn't limp.  Cut a one inch (adjust based on the width of your ribbon) incision about an inch from the top of the center circle and about an inch in from your skirt opening. Thread the ribbon through. Then cut another one inch incision about three inches from the first incision. Repeat all the way around the top of the skirt, weaving the ribbon in and out. Note the the ribbon should be on the inside of the skirt for one inch, then on the outside for three inches -- this way you maximize the amount of ribbon that is shown. Wrap the skirt around your tree, tie a bow and viola! a homemade tree skirt.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

DIY: Wine Garland

 I love holiday decorating. However, I enjoy being able to incorporate touches of the season while keeping with my current style and color themes. My home has a very neutral palette, but I like to incorporate lots of patterns and textures to give it a richer, more interesting – yet comfortable feel.
I also love accents that mean something. Let me preface by saying my husband and I have been collecting wine corks for about six years. We keep all of our corks from parties, dinners, vacations, etc. – hence, the crazy large collection.

When we were in Ecuador a few years ago, we stayed in a hut/tree house at the Hakuna Matata in Tena (which on a side note – I highly recommend. We felt safe and the staff was fantastic.) They had cords of wine corks hanging down from the door frames (I’m assuming to keep out wildlife). We loved this idea, and ever since have been trying to figure out the best use of our saved wine corks.

Rustic Christmas style + tons of wine corks = wine cork garland.

·         Bag of bead (I used neutral-colored wooden beads, but this would also be pretty with reds, golds of silvers)
·         Wine corks
·         String (I used thin hemp found at Joanne’s Fabrics)
·         Hot glue (optional)


1.       Cut a long piece of string about 2.5 times as long as you would like your final garland to be.
2.       Take one of your larger beads and string it so that it is in the center of the string. Double up the string. String a few more beads (depending on how many beads you want between your corks) on the double-stranded string. You will be working with the  doubled up string for the remainder of the project.
3.       When you are ready to tie on your first cork, place the cork inbetween the two strings and tie the string around the cork very tightly.
4.       Put the string back together as one strand and string on a few more beads.
5.       Separate the string into two strands and tie on another wine cork.
6.       Repeat until your garland is your preferred length.
7.       Tie the end tightly.
8.       If you would like to add extra security to the corks, put a small dab of hot glue on each cork to glue the cork and string together.


Monday, December 3, 2012

O Christmas Tree

5. Pick out and buy a real Christmas tree

We bought our first live Christmas tree!

Ok, so it's not quite our first Christmas (we're on Christmas number three), but for whatever reason, I feel like this is our first 'real' Christmas. We've taken our holiday decorating up a notch and have graduated from hand-me-down fake trees (Our first: a post frat house two-footer in a plastic pot. Our second: two pre-decorated topiaries) to a Real. Life. Christmas. Tree.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

My Holiday Cheer Bucket List

Happy December 1.

I feel like as I get older, time keeps moving faster and faster. I don't quite know where November went. I still get surprised when the elevator 'news' posts 31 degrees in the morning. (Wasn't it 80 like, yesterday?) I love the holiday season and in an effort to not let it pass by too quickly, I'm making a Holiday Cheer to do list.

1. Visit the Christkindl Market, drink spiced wine, eat strudel, and buy glass ornaments
2. Walk through the Lincoln Park Zoo Lights
3. Make spiced wine
4. Throw a holiday dinner (or three)
5. Pick out and buy a real Christmas tree
6. Make peanut brittle or toffee
7. Watch Love Actually
8. Watch It's a Wonderful Life
9. Buy Spud a Christmas sweater
10. Build fires
11. Drink hot chocolate
12. Make homemade pumpkin pie
13. Make homemade apple pie
14. See a holiday show (Christmas Carol, Nutcracker, etc.)
15. Go to a Christmas concert
16. Send cards to family and friends
17. Start our own Christmas traditions
18. Play in the snow!
19. Adopt a family
20. Ride the holiday train (This may be tricky now that I primarily take the bus. But waiting in the freezing cold to commute home and having the holiday train appear with its clean seats, festive music and Santa really makes my week.)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Destination: Fair Isle

This winter I’ve been drawn to Fair Isle sweaters. They’re cozy, yet classy; with the perfect pop of color and texture. Forget jewelry and handbags, I want to accessorize them with hot chocolate, wind burned cheeks and a messy braid.

The fairest of them all

Madewell / ALTERNATIVE wrap top / Splendid knit top / J.Crew j. crew pants / Vera Wang Lavender Label / Minnetonka Womens El Paso Ankle Boot Brown

If you're a bit of a travel nerd like me, you'll appreciate that Fair Isle is not just a classic pattern for a sweater, it is also one of the Shetland Islands (it's located a bit north of Scotland and spans only a few square miles!) 

Fun facts and an island photo after the jump!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Holiday Decorating DIY: Oranges and Cloves

Sunday night, we hosted a dinner for family and a few friends. To kick off the season and add a festive touch, I made a few quick (and inexpensive) updates to my centerpiece.

This is an incredibly easy project (honestly, I think it's a great holiday craft project for kids - I could have used some assistants!) All you need is an odd number of oranges (I used five), whole cloves, and tough fingers - those cloves can be a bit prickly!

Stick the cloves into the oranges, long side first. You can make patterns, or just do random dots like mine. It's an easy way to add a bit of fragrance to the room and a pop of color to your table.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

All That Sparkles

All That Sparkles

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving -- meaning somehow November is practically over -- meaning it's almost holiday party season. I love the festive look of sparkly dresses, but not sure I can pull off a full frock of sparkle. Here are a few more subtle alternatives to get your sparkle fix.  How gorgeous is the three-quarter sleeve Alice + Olivia dress? Scroll down for dress details. Safe travels to everyone this week!

Tea dress

Keyhole dress

C.Luce Goddess Sequin Dress

Monday, November 19, 2012

My Favorite Flavor of Fall

I'd like to start with a tasty post: a deceivingly easy meal with DIY bowls and no dirty dishes. Pumpkin is the shining star of fall (and one of my favorite flavors in general), so I'll be dedicating a few posts to cooking with it.

My husband and I don't stick to much of a schedule, so eating dinner at 9 p.m. was no problem for us last Wednesday. However, I would recommend doing a bit of prep the night before or saving it for a lazy weekend if you don't want to make it a late meal.

Here's the end result:

Recipe and photos after the jump!


Hi there! Thanks for stopping by. I originally wanted to start this blog about a year ago and document life raising a new (and rambunctious) rescue puppy in the city. I was constantly researching dog training and health, and read most everything Cesar and the Monks have written on the topic. I wanted to keep my notes in one place - and be able to look back and laugh about how stressful the whole thing was. However, I was too busy actually raising a puppy to write about it:)

I kept the title because I think it is pretty telling of my place in life right now: post marriage and  pre babies. This blog will share recipes, entertaining and DIY thoughts, and often just random notes on my favorite things.

And don't get me wrong, raising a puppy is totally worth it:)


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