Whenever I get a weekend to myself during the winter (which lately has been rare), I love to curl up with a good book. Over my holiday break, I peeled through the second half of Night Film by Marisha Pessl and got a head start to Chocolat by Joanne Harris. Because the nights are long in winter, you want to stay in but it seems impractical to go to sleep before a certain time. I know that if I’m in bed before 9pm (unless I’m sick), I’ll be up in the middle of the night ready to start the day at 3am and that’s never a good routine to get on. These are the nights I’m in my bed by 8pm, sometimes earlier, and grabbing a book. Inspired by my own reading kick lately, I’ve put together a list of five book recommendations to keep you busy the rest of winter…Read More
It’s been a while since I’ve done a book review but with the latest I conquered, I couldn’t resist. It’s not secret I have a soft spot for Paris and all things French. It’s a city and a culture that spoke to me in a way few other things have and it will always hold a special place for me. Earlier this year, the author of a new book reached out asking if I would give it a chance and share my review. I agreed foolishly thinking that I’d be able to handle this in time for the release. HA! With my reading habits I should have known better. It wasn’t until recently that I made reading a priority. It’s something that I’ve always enjoyed and this year I’ve gotten so lost in life that I almost never took a minute to myself. So while it might have been a slow start, I rapidly finished reading Paris Ever After earlier this month and I have quite a few things to say about it. Before we get to what I have to say, take a look at the description from Goodreads first.Read More
September! The first unofficial days of fall. That time of year when pumpkin spice takes over even though the weather is still a roller coaster of 60 to 80 degree days. Sweaters are taken everywhere even when they’re unnecessary during the heat of the day. It’s getting really close to my favorite month of the year, October. The line-up for the now “31 Days of Halloween” on Freeform have been announced. Hocus Pocus references are EVERYWHERE and you’ll find me along with many other people in a giddy mood. It’s cool enough to work on the patio again without your laptop erupting in flames and the bugs start to disappear. It’s just a wonderful time of year because it’s the start of all the best holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years. I mean, how can you not be loving the change in seasons?
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FROM AROUND THE WEB
Finished two books over the last week which has me motivated to start adding more to my reading list…
I recently start cutting a lot of gluten and dairy out of my diet and have been scouring the internet for ideas and tips. Love these pantry staple suggestions…
All about a cozy fall wardrobe and Lauren Conrad’s new weekend line is killing it…
We got our few fall-like consecutive days which called for whipping out the pumpkin. Get cooking for the season with these recipes…
Planning a trip to the northeast during fall is no picnic but photos of what the leaves look like throughout the season are giving me plenty of motivation…
Drooling over this English Country Kitchen design…
For dog moms that are into essential oils, these are great tips for how to use them. I use them to help my pup with his anxiety often...
WHAT I’M UP TO
Ok, I have quite a bit to share with you guys so I’ll try and keep it as brief as possible. Let’s start with A Simple Favor. I was invited to an advance screening of the movie this week and HOLY CRAP! Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick are on fire. This was one of the best movies I’ve seen in a really long time. The script was genius, the chemistry of the cast was undeniable, and it was straight up entertaining. From the previews, it’s hard to tell if the film is more of a comedy or a thriller. It’s definitely more along the lines of dark comedy with a bit of a film noir twist. Whatever you’re thinking about A Simple Favor, prepare yourself to be surprised because there is one twist after another. It almost reminded me of a Gillian Flynn novel but with a lot more humor. Blake Lively is giving off a ton of Serena Van der Woodsen vibes with her wardrobe and Anna Kendrick is as awkward as ever. I’m afraid to share any real details because I don’t want to ruin anything and it would be easy to do so. Bottom line, Dean Richards even said A Simple Favor is the movie of the weekend on WGN Radio this morning so GO SEE IT! Before the movie, a friend and I had dinner at Pinstripes in River North which is a block away from the theater. Their patio is along the river and absolutely gorgeous. We shared the Hummus and Avocado plate and both got gluten-free pepperoni pizza. AMAZING!
Next up, I finally finished Paris Ever After by K.S.R. Burns. I will have a full review of this book coming soon but I wanted to pop a few notes in here. This book gave me a lot of feelings: anger, frustration, disbelief, nostalgia. As awful as it sounds, it's not bad though, nowhere close. It started a bit slow because she recapped a lot of what happened in this novel’s prequel which I did not read so I appreciated it. However, all that time that was spent recapping previous events caused the climax and ending to feel rushed. I loved all the descriptions of Paris though. Amy, the main character, details the feelings and smells walking down the streets in Paris vividly. The descriptions of the setting are on point and it transported me back to my favorite place in the world. It was a welcome escape whenever I picked it up to read.
Finally, I am greatly struggling with planning a fall trip to the northeast. It’s going to happen but booking accommodations has been the hardest task. I have never had such a hard time booking travel before, even last minute. So this is going to be very interesting to see how this trip turns out. I’ll keep you posted, mostly on Instagram so make sure you’re following me. If you guys are fans of country music, I’m currently listening to Carrie Underwood’s new album, “Cry Pretty,” and I’m obsessed. I’ve been a fan of hers since American Idol and it’s always fun to see what she comes out with. She’s on my concert wishlist so hopefully I can grab tickets and see her next year!
100% ready for fall weather which means I’m looking for a strong sweater game. Loving this cardigan from Banana Republic and this one from Anthropologie as well as this cute off-the-shoulder from LC by Lauren Conrad…
Speaking of fall, it’s just about time for blanket season! So excited to start whipping out all the coziness but this one might make a new addition to my collection.
This year has been a bit difficult and I’ve needed inspiration and motivation wherever I can get it. These brand new tote bags bring a huge smile to my face...
April certainly went out like a lion. From the drastic weather change to the insanity that has ensued with not just mine but so many people’s schedules, the transition from April to May has been in a word: chaotic. I won’t complain though because April was just a rough month. And again, not just for me. I know so many people who wanted to move into May barely halfway into the second week of April. Even though it’s been absolutely insanity over here, I’ll take May over April without even blinking. For starters, I’m actually getting a few days off throughout the month with a nice vacation at the end (can I get an Amen). Second, it’s the launch of the Official Lattes, Life & Luggage Shop! This is one of the projects I’ve been working on lately and it’s been killing me not to say anything. Finally, I have a lot of posts that I’ve been working on that I’m really excited about. But let’s dive into what I’ve been looking at around the web, shall we?
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Purification is one of my favorite essential oil blends and it combats even the stinkiest situations like sweaty boy clothes and wet dog…
Quality downtime is something I’ve learned to embrace recently and Katie from Entropy Organized explains why that’s important…
Who doesn’t prefer to travel on a budget. Here are four European destinations that will save you a buck or two…
And while we’re on the topic of affordable travel, here are five destinations that are ideal to visit in May...
The bookworm in me is drooling over this post. Bookshops in Paris for your next rendezvous…
And while we’re on the topic of Paris, get inspired for your spring home makeover by these ten chic and sophisticated Parisian apartments…
Finally, bring more positive vibes to your day with these 5 simple shifts...
WHAT I’M UP TO
Besides the shop launching one week from Friday, I’ve been doing a lot of recipe writing, cooking, brainstorming, and cookbook research for lots of upcoming food content. One I’m particularly looking forward to is a Farmers Market series that will be more of a challenge than anything. It’s basically Chopped but instead of Ted Allen or Food Network producers choosing my key ingredients, the seasons and what looks good for the price will be the deciding factor. I really want to embrace seasonal cooking and support local farmers and businesses while I’m at it so I’m looking forward to making this a weekly thing.
Still on the hunt for new bedding, curtains and a car! I’d love to hear your thoughts and recommendations. As I mentioned last month, the colors we’ll be painting in my bedroom are Magnolia’s Panna Cotta with Cupola accents. I finally picked up primer this week so we can get finished soon. It’ll be nice to reorganize and truly spring clean. The car hunt is going slow but I’m thinking about going with a Jeep Cherokee or Compass. I still haven’t had a chance to look at the Renegade which is still a contender. I really like the Nissan Rogue too.
Finally, I have to update you guys on Pretty Woman The Musical and Julie & Julia! Last month, I was about to go see Pretty Woman when I wrote the April Spotlight. Now that I’ve seen it, all I can say is “GO SEE IT!” It’s amazing. It will be premiering in New York later this summer and hopefully they’ll put it on tour as well. I was honestly blown away by the entire thing. Samantha Barks is even better than what you can imagine in person. As for Julie & Julia, what a great book. I related to Julie in a lot of ways and learned a few things about Julia along the way. I’m currently reading Paris Ever After by K.S. Burns. I received this book complimentary for a book and so far so good! It’s hard for me to be upset with anything that’s based in Paris.
In case you’re running down to the wire for Mother’s Day shopping, Target has some great ideas broken into themes and styles as well as price points…
Really in love with this dress from the LC by Lauren Conrad collection for spring…
Is anyone else excited for Joanna Gaines’ cookbook that recently launched in April? Because I am...
How was your first day of spring? In true Chicago style, we dropped below 40 degrees yesterday so our first day felt more like late fall kind of weather. This chilly weather is making it difficult to get out of bed each morning so if there’s one thing I’m looking forward to with the new season, it’s hopefully finding more motivation to get out of bed. I’ve also been on a Criminal Minds binge lately. It’s the one show I allow myself to watch on Netflix and I’ve been a little too eager to catch a few episodes here and there. Instead of continuing to jabber on, I’ll get to the March spotlight! Lots of great stuff to share this month.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
Getting inspired for my next dinner party with these recipes
Spring cleaning isn’t just for the house with 5 ideas for spring cleaning your life
And speaking of spring cleaning, recraft your workspace for a more calming atmosphere while putting things back together
Desperately wishing I had a house of my own to redecorate the dining room
And while we’re talking about houses, I think I found my new home in this French villa
Prepping for Easter next weekend with sugar on the brain…
Adding to my ever growing book collection with these inspiring suggestions
Embracing my inner romantic and making sure every one of these European cities is on my bucket list
Love these tips for productivity at work to avoid working overtime
Vicariously living my Nicholas Sparks movie dream through this Beaufort, South Carolina feature
Absolutely loving the dog mama gift ideas
Visiting foreign cities through my essential oils! Rome, here I come...
WHAT I’M UP TO
Normally I like to update you guys on my book progress but reading hasn’t been a huge priority in the last month. I’m hoping to finish Julie & Julia by Nora Ephron by the next spotlight. There’s nothing against the book, things have just been a little crazy lately. I’m feeling a little extra motivated to get finished though because I was just sent two new books to read and review and I’m pumped. Hot Mess by Emily Belden is her second book but first fictional novel. I read her first, Eightysixed, when it came out a few years ago, provided a review and even did an interview with her! I had the opportunity to listen to her speak at a recent event hosted by Chicago Woman magazine here in Chicago with other influential women in the food community and left inspired, motivated and with a great attitude. I also got my hands on an advance copy of Paris Ever After by K.S.R. Burns which I can’t wait to start reading. Any novel or memoir that’s based in Paris gets bonus points for me. Reading about the characters’ experiences transport me back to the city I vowed to always return to.
Moving on from the book front, it’s been a little crazy lately. I’m in the thick of one of the busier seasons for my day job which has a tendency to take over every other aspect of life. I’ve also been hard at work behind the scenes with a project I can’t talk about yet but and very excited to reveal in the next two months. So even if things get a little quiet on the blog front, know that I’m still working with a fury to get content and other goodies to you. I’m still living that split life - half my time in the burbs and the other half in the city. To be honest, it’s a little exhausting some weeks and I get to the point where I just want to stay in one place. I unfortunately don’t have any travel planned. There’s just so much going on that any travel I planned at the moment would not be fun. It would be stressful and overwhelming so I’m holding off before making a getaway this year.
I saw Love Never Dies the last week it was in Chicago and you guys, if you have a chance to go make it it happen. Something I haven’t talked about too much is my love for musicals, theater, etc. Phantom of the Opera was one of my favorite musicals since I can remember. I saw it live twice and can basically quote the movie from beginning to end. When Love Never Dies originally premiered in London, it was only supposed to be a one-time run. They weren’t going to bring it to any other cities. But then it went to Australia where they filmed it and last year it was announced Love Never Dies would tour the US. The music is incredible and the talent absolutely mindblowing. I was ready to be slightly disappointed since I’m such a fan of Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess but Gardar Thor Cortes as the Phantom really did a phenomenal job. I cried twice and you will rarely see me cry for anything. I was practically sobbing at one point. The emotion was real and you could feel it in your bones. So please, if Love Never Dies comes to your city, go see it. If you haven’t see Phantom, rent the movie on Amazon or something. You won’t regret it, I promise. Next on my radar, the pre-Broadway premiere of Pretty Woman featuring Samantha Barks which is here in Chicago right now!
Loving the flowy dresses coming out for spring right now especially this one from The Gap
My skin went through a lot of issues over the winter with uncharacteristic breakouts, dryness and redness. I started using the Aveeno Ultra-Calming Night Cream and it made a HUGE difference in just one application. There’s no partnership here, just a typical consumer giving a product a go. After the night cream worked so well, I added the gel cleanser to my routine as well and even converted my best friend. Now I want to finish my collection with the daily moisturizer. This stuff is honestly amazing.
Did January feel long yet quick to anyone else? It’s been about one month and one week since we introduced the monthly spotlight post and it feels like I wrote it a year ago! I can’t believe that it’s Valentine’s Day and we’re a month and a half into 2018 already. But January also felt like the longest month ever. Is anyone else on the same page? It would be nice to know that I’m not alone here. Since this is a new series, I’ll share a quick reminder of what to expect in these monthly posts. I’ll share links from around the web I’m loving as well as posts you guys are loving from LLL including recipes and travel. I’ve also got a mini wish list and peek into what I’ve been doing lately. So without further adieu...let’s get on with it!
FROM AROUND THE WEB
Find out what essential oil blend you need to be diffusing with this fun quiz
Ready to hop a flight to NYC just to try out some of these bakeries
Getting my student hat on and taking a refresher on blog monetization 101
Working on building better habits
Totally wishing that I owned my own home thanks to these kitchen design trends that are hot right now
For all you single gals out there, it’s 100% ok if you’re single for Valentine’s Day
Time to get your read on with this bomb list of books for girlbosses
Boost productivity with easy home decor tips that cut away distractions
Warm up from the inside out with comforting casseroles. Good food is necessary with this weather!
4 Trips Worth Taking - Get ready for some serious wanderlust
Great tips for keeping your career on track while traveling
WHAT I’M UP TO
I finished Interference by French writer, Amelie Antoine. I was definitely taken by surprise in this book. It was completely different than I had originally expected where the storyline is concerned but it was fantastic. Amelie knows how to take the carpet out from under her readers and leave them with mouths agape. Not only was I taken by complete surprise about two-thirds of the way in, but she ended it with a twist I doubt anyone saw coming. It’s a short book, only about 180 pages, and a quick read. Do yourself a favor and read it. I’m about 100 pages into Julie & Julia by Nora Ephron now. So far, so good and I’m a bit more motivated to keep moving with this one because I’m DYING to see the movie. Hopefully I’ll be able to share a mini review in the March Spotlight! Or I may just post it on Instagram.
I’m working with a teeth whitening company and so far loving the results. Full post sharing the review coming soon! Still have a few sessions to go though. I’m also working on a few other surprises that I have up my sleeve. Hopefully they’ll be ready to launch by the end of the first quarter! In the meantime, enjoy this photo of my friend’s dog, April, and I. She was rather demanding during a recent photo shoot but I embrace all the puppy kisses!
I still haven’t decided on any travel plans yet this year. Client work is pretty busy and I’m working hard on a few things behind the scenes for the site. Not to mention we have a lot going on with my family right now and I’m trying to get ahead of my finances so that I’m managing them rather than the other way around. If you’re looking for a bit of help where money and finances are concerned, I recommend checking out Tess from Wander Wealthy. She’s got tons of great content and advice to make managing money easy which is not a simple feat for someone who’s as bad with numbers as I am.
Dying to try the recipes in Giada de Laurentiis’ new cookbook Giada’s Italy
I would give anything for The Cozychic Throw from Barefoot Dreams to get through the remainder of winter
I’m currently obsessed with these long-sleeved boatneck tees from The Gap. Who am I kidding? I’m obsessed with everything from The Gap.
In the spirit of new beginnings, I want to introduce you to a new monthly series you’ll be seeing around these parts. Each month, I’ll be sharing a spotlight featuring updates, a few of my current favorite things, deals I’ve found around the web, and more. I’ll also be sharing some of your favorites including recipes with the most views and travel posts you guys have been frequenting. It’s just the first in many new things I’ll be introducing in 2018 and one that I hope will inspire you and introduce you to some of the blogs and websites I read regularly.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
Loving this California Farmhouse Decor Inspiration.
Appreciating my NYE tradition of staying at home and watching the ball drop instead of these interesting cultural traditions.
Feeling inspired for a new year with these 10 quotes.
Finally figured out how I’m going to embrace change each week with this article. I’ll take on one of these throughout the year for a nice switch. Not all of them are applicable but there are enough to get me through most of the year!
Great tips to reevaluating goals in order to set yourself back on track.
Things I wish I knew about traveling solo during my first trip and things I’m still learning today.
5 winter skincare tips anyone in a cold climate should know.
Beating procrastination with essential oils.
Preparing for emergencies by properly equipping the car.
FAVORITE TRAVEL POSTS
[from top left]
5 Things to Do In Chicago During the Holidays
Hotel Indigo Denver Downtown - Checking In
Boston Restaurant Round-Up | Pizza, Pasta & Burgers
Hotel Monaco Denver - Checking In
WHAT I’M UP TO
I just finished reading Not My Fairytale by E.M. Tippetts which was an easy, light-hearted read perfect for post-holiday. I finished it in two nights thanks to a very long, very late reading session. I’m moving on to Interference by French writer, Amelie Antoine. It’s a switch from Not My Fairytale, going from chick lit to a suspenseful thriller. I don’t know much more than what the Goodreads description has provided but I’ll let you know if it’s a good one! If not in the February spotlight, on Instagram for sure.
My goal is to read at least 10 books this year. I love reading but I’ve been the world’s worst bookworm only reading a total of five books in 2017. My reading queue currently includes: The Woman I Wanted to Be by Diane von Furstenberg, Julie & Julia by Nora Ephron, Secrets of Six-Figure Women by Barbara Stanny, and A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. Share your recommendations in the comments below!
Good friends of mine who own Levine-Moore Photo did a shoot with my family and I to surprise my Noni for Christmas. After the shoot, we did a few shots with me wearing a tee from my friend Dannie of Stile. Foto. Cibo.’s shop. If you love cheeky graphic tees, head on over for some dog and coffee love.
I’m on the second half of my two-week vacation this week from my freelance work and dreading Monday like I’m sure everyone else is. After two Mondays of no work and two weeks of doing whatever I want whenever I want, this coming Monday is bound to be a rough one. I’ll be using my Shit Happens, Coffee Helps mug from Cuss It Out, another store recently opened by a good friend of mine.
I’m looking at a few destinations for travel in 2018 for consideration. A few of the destinations on my radar include Montreal, New Orleans, Ireland, Maine, Charleston and Havana. Have you been to any of these spots? Do you have any recommendations? Let me know in the comments below!
Dying for this super cozy blanket at Nordstrom
Hoping to tame my poor winter skin with this light moisturizer
Waiting for these cozy socks from Barefoot Dreams to come back in stock so I can buy one of each color
If you’ve been following me for a while, you might remember that I used to write book reviews. If you dig back into the archives, you can even find quite a few of them. Nothing has changed, I am still a bookworm although reading has become a luxury when I have a few minutes to spare. I thought I’d go back to my book loving ways for one day to celebrate National Book Month. Currently on my bookshelf is the thrilling historical novel, The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. Not only is the timing to read this book perfect because Halloween is coming up, Martin Scorsese has the rights to the screenplay with Leonardo DiCaprio supposedly playing the lead. If serial killers aren’t your thing, I get it. In celebration of National Book Month, we’ve put together a few books to complete your fall reading adventures from thrillers to inspiring memoirs.
Girls Who Travel by Nicole Trilivas
Feed your inner wanderlust with this hilarious novel about traveling solo as a woman. Goodreads says - “A hilarious, deftly written debut novel about a woman whose wanderlust is about to show her that sometimes you don’t have to travel far to become the person you want to be...Wise, witty and hilarious, Girls Who Travel is an unforgettable novel about the highs and lows of getting what you want - and how it’s the things you least expect that can change your life.”
Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History by Tori Telfer
For all you fellow Criminal Minds fanatics, Lady Killers is the perfect pre-Halloween read. Learn about women who’ve made a name for themselves by gruesome acts of violence like those of Jack the Ripper, Ted Bundy and more. Goodreads says - “Although largely forgotten by history, female serial killers rival their male counterparts in cunning, cruelty, and appetite. Each chapter explores the crimes and history of a different female serial killer and then proceeds to unpack her legacy and her portrayal in the media as well as the stereotypes and sexist cliches that inevitably surround her.”
Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
All the girls want to be her and all the guys want to date her. Anna Kendrick is a Hollywood favorite for her realness and, let’s be honest, weirdness. Scrappy Little Nobody is a collection of autobiographical essays by Kendrick, no doubt so funny you’ll be laughing out loud in public. Goodreads says - “With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can - from her unusual path to the performing arts to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.” I mean, if that description didn’t sell you on it already, I don’t know what will.
Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham
One of the world’s favorite TV moms, Lauren Graham provides readers with personal essays about anything and everything. We fell in love with her as coffee addict Lorelai Gilmore (can I get a coffee IV, please?) and through her book we get to know her as Lauren. As Goodreads puts it - “Including photos and excerpts from the diary of Graham kept during the filming of the recent Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, this book is like a cozy night in, catching up with your best friend, laughing and swapping stories, and - of course - talking as fast as you can.”
The Woman I Wanted to Be by Diane von Furstenberg
One of the most influential and inspiring women of her generation, this memoir takes you through the life of DVF and the path she carved out for herself. According to Goodreads - “With remarkable honesty and wisdom, von Furstenberg mines the rich territory of what it means to be a woman. She opens up about her family and career, overcoming cancer, building a global brand, and devoting herself to empowering other women.” It’s currently sitting on my bookshelf and I can’t wait to start reading it next.
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Travel, suspense and mystery all combine for The Woman in Cabin 10. I believe I discovered this novel in a book round-up over the summer and it’s the perfect read for a cold and rainy weekend or fall trip. According to Goodreads - “In this tightly wound story, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins...Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard...with surprising twists and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another intense read.” Maybe avoid it if you’re taking a cruise…
UNSUB by Meg Gardiner
Last but not least, we have a psychological thriller that will no doubt make your bones chill. If you think this post has a few too many killer-inspired novels, then we have very different reading interests. I watch Criminal Minds while falling asleep and then become terrified to be home alone, even with two dogs. In the spirit of fall, October and Halloween, it feels appropriate to have bone chilling thrillers dominate this list. Goodreads says - “A riveting psychological thriller inspired by the never-caught Zodiac Killer, about a young detective determined to apprehend the serial murderer who destroyed her family and terrorized a city twenty years earlier.”
What’s on your fall reading list?