The 2018 Fall Guide to Chicago

Fall in Chicago is a special time of year. The amount of time we have beautiful, brisk weather perfect for wearing cozy, chunky sweaters is limited as winter and summer fight over the milder season. The trees turn colors and the streets line with leaves of yellow, orange, red and brown. It feels magical and surreal at times that a city could be so gorgeous. If you’re visiting from out of town, hopefully you get to experience one of the more brisk days (like today). Experience what it's like to bundle up while roaming the streets of the Windy City. Whether you’re looking for a comforting bite to eat, need to warm up, or ideas for things to do...we’ve got the ultimate list for fall…

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July Spotlight

We’re interrupting your regular programming schedule of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale to bring you...something different. I love a good sale but is anyone else sick of seeing a million articles and social media posts dedicated to sale items? So if you’re like me and looking for other links around the web, this post is for you! It’s time for the July spotlight and I haven’t had much time for browsing the last month so what I’m sharing had to be work my time. Translation: these links are good ones. Plus, you guys seem to be loving te Pasta Primavera recipe. It’s been the #1 viewed post for the last two weeks! If you’ve had a chance to try it, let me know. I’d love to know what you think. While everyone is more than likely enjoying the second half of their summer and heading off to one or two more vacations before it ends, I’m counting down the days until fall. Summer has been absolutely awful this year with record breaking heat and annoyance from yours truly. I can’t wait for cooler temperatures so I can wear my sweaters and booties again and start making soup and all things pumpkin.

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FROM AROUND THE WEB
Throwing a party this summer? Rock your outdoor party with a few entertaining tips

For those of us who would love to meal prep but die a little inside at the thought of eating salads every day all day….

Off the grid is sounding better every single day, especially when I see treehouse getaways like this…

I’m obsessed with this home and dreaming of being able to cook in the kitchen every day…

The podcast episode from Boss Girl Creative talking about overcoming your belief barriers spoke to me on a deep level. If you’re struggling with not feeling good enough or qualified enough, listen up…

I always love finding movie set locations when I travel but the first one on this list is at the time of mine. Any other LOTR fans out there...

TOP RECIPES
[from top left]
Hosting a Girls’ Night In - Taco Fiesta
Hosting a Girls’ Night In - Tapas Night
Southwestern Chicken Pita Pockets
Pasta Primavera

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WHAT I’M UP TO
Hello, lovelies. It’s been a hot minute since I did a check-in, or wrote a post, or did anything productive for that matter. Truth? This weekend was the first weekend I've a minute in a while. Where to start...let’s go back, shall we? The last two weeks of June, as you might have read in the last spotlight, were fabulous yet exhausting. I had an event, meeting or something more days than I didn’t. I saw Lea Michele and Darren Criss in concert on the LMDC Tour (more on that in a second), my friends and I had dinner not once but twice, it was my birthday, oh...and I fell and split my face open in several places and needed stitches. Let’s go back and focus on the good stuff.

LMDC Tour. Holy cow, it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! I had expected Lea Michele to be incredible but she is flawless when she performs. Not one note was missed or botched. Lea Michele and Darren Criss came to the historic Chicago Theater June 26th to kick off the second run of their tour. It was fun, nostalgia-filled if you're a "Gleek" and I wish I could relive that night all over again. Darren was funny and personable. These are two people I wish I could have hung out with afterwards. It was truly an incredible concert. I have my eye on a few more concerts coming to Chicago including Panic! At the Disco in February and I’d love to see Ed Sheeran in October but the stadium he’s playing at is way overpriced with tickets so we’ll see. Waitress is also on Broadway in Chicago but it’s only here for a few more days and it doesn’t look like I’ll be going to see it at this point. Believe me when I saw my heart is broken. That just means I’ll have to figure out how to get to NYC to see Katherine McPhee play the lead role instead!

Let’s talk food for a second. In those crazy two weeks, there were lots of food events. It all kicked off with a mid-week staycation at the Chicago Marriott Lincolnshire Resort with a delightful dinner at Three Embers. It was a meal to remember, that’s for sure. I also attended a Windy City Bloggers happy hour at the Metropolitan in the Sears Tower. The views of the city are incredible and the lamb sliders were to die for. Finally, I attended an event with HomeChef to get to know their chefs and learn more about the company. For example, did you know that HomeChef was started and is based here in Chicago? I didn’t! I’ll have a full post discussing HomeChef soon.

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July itself has been pretty uneventful. The fourth is pretty low-key for me, I don’t really celebrate and at the end of the week I had my accident so I’m confined to my house until I feel comfortable enough to start going to events and crowded places that are not the grocery store again. I'm using this experience as one to learn from and soon I’ll share a few more personal notes about the accident and my injuries. I’m not quite there yet and am testing out a healing method to see if it actually works. On that note, if you have any tips to help get rid of scarring, I’d really appreciate them so leave ‘em in the comments below! Until next month, stay cool and enjoy the rest of summer!

WISH LIST
I think I finally found the new bedding for my bedroom! I’m in love with this comforter set from LC by Lauren Conrad..

The one thing I do love about summer is getting to wear super cute dresses. I’m loving this Tie-Waist Dress from Anthropologie in the floral print…

If you’re looking for a comfy t-shirt bra, I’m obsessed with the Breathe Wireless Bra from the Gap. I practically live in mine…

I really love the body positivity campaigns from Aerie and it makes me want to start supporting the company more. This Plush Zip-Up Sweater looks super comfy and perfect as the weather starts turning later this summer..

May Spotlight

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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FROM AROUND THE WEB
I recently got the Monica outfit from Fabletics and I’m obsessed. The leggings are so comfy…

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...

TOP RECIPES
[from top left]
Chicken Milanese with Simple Spaghetti
Hosting a Girls’ Night In - Pizza Night
Hosting a Girls’ Night In - Tapas Night
Spring Green & Sausage Hash

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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.

We made it!!! #prettywomanthemusical #prettywoman #broadwayinchicago

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WISH LIST
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…

As if I didn’t love The Gap enough already, they have these floral shirts for summer I’m in love with like this tiered ruffle off-the-shoulder design and this twist-strap cami

Is anyone else excited for Joanna Gaines’ cookbook that recently launched in April? Because I am...

Lattes, Life & Luggage Guide to Spring

Happy 1st day of spring! Most people everywhere are rejoicing in the promise of warmer weather. Even me, the winter loving, fall sweater obsessed fanatic is looking forward to the change in seasons. But let’s get real for a second. I live in Chicago. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, while it’s certainly not winter anymore, spring is still about a month away. That is, the stereotypical flowers blooming everywhere and warm sunny day kind of spring. It’s nice to dream though, right? To be honest, I’m content holding on to my sweater weather a little longer and enjoying some 50 and 60 degree days before the bugs come out to play. It’s just nice to feel the sun warm your skin again. It’s also nice to have a few extra hours of sunlight for photography! All you fellow bloggers and creatives feel my pain on that one. Anyway, as much as I treasure my beloved fall and winter seasons, spring is here to stay and I’m not mad about not having to wear a coat all the time.

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THINGS TO DO…
- Stock up on some immune boosting tea. You may think I’m joking making this my first thing to do but hear me out. The change of seasons, especially here in Chicago, is very unstable. The weather bounces around and we get a second wave of the cold and flu. Keep the sniffles at bay, prep your body for those pesky allergies that are bound to act up, and just stay healthy. I love (and this is not sponsored in any way) the Immune Support Tea by Yogi or similarly, the Echinacea Plus Tea from Traditional Medicinals. Echinacea has immune boosting properties which is helpful when the weather doesn’t know what it wants to do and wreaks havoc on your body.

- Go shopping! I just got my latest Stitch Fix box (my personal way of adding to my wardrobe) and I love the transitional pieces my stylist included. Sweaters are still very much a part every day life with the cooler temps but I love the lighter tops you can pair with them on warmer days.

- Plan a long weekend trip and drive. Saving money for a long summer vacation but still want to getaway? Now is the perfect time to plan a mini road trip and take a long weekend somewhere. What’s one or two days off of work going to do? Give yourself a spring break. We got them in school! Look for a cute small town within a few hours driving distance or visit a nearby city. Whatever floats your boat!

- If you can, visit a local farmer’s market. The more we get into spring, the more that will become available. Fresh produce should be popping up soon and now is the best time to cook with all those colorful fruits and veggies. A few things in season include: asparagus, fava beans, peas, ramps, rhubarb, artichokes, mangoes, spring onions and strawberries. If there is one season I might love more than fall produce, it’s berry season and we’re coming up on it soon!

LISTEN TO…
You guys know I love a good playlist! One of the things I love doing as the weather gets a little warmer is have friends and family over for dinner. This is definitely a year-round activity but there’s something about the weather warming up that makes it a little more exciting. It also most likely has to do with the fact that I finally have new ingredients to work with after six months of winter produce. The second playlist is very much spring-focused with a completely acoustic soundtrack. It’s lighter, just like spring, but still happy.

GET IN THE KITCHEN…
Other than fall, spring is my favorite time of year to get in the kitchen. There’s a ton of fresh produce waiting to be turned into a meal. Everything is so bright and colorful and because it’s in season, it tastes amazing. Unfortunately, the farmer’s market in my hometown doesn’t begin until the end of April but there are plenty of markets in the city that offer seasonal and local produce. It’s a great way to cook seasonally, sustainably, and also support local small businesses while you’re at it. Here are some of my favorite spring-inspired recipes we’ve shared on the blog so far…

5 Things To Do In Irving, TX

Last summer, I attended an event at Raised Bar in the Renaissance Hotel Chicago with Tour Texas courtesy of Windy City Bloggers. I was able to chat with representatives from several cities around Texas from San Antonio to Houston to Irving. While visiting Texas on my annual trip last fall, I reconnected with the rep from Irving and had the opportunity to join other members of the media on a weekend press trip. It was an incredible experience where I got to meet several wonderful people and we all had a ton of fun. Honestly, it was a blast. I was overfed, over-entertained and I have so many great memories from that trip. Not to mention my to-do list for the DFW area which has since expanded by about five times what it started at.

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We visited several restaurants, toured many sites and met quite a few people. I can only hope that they invite me on another trip in the future because let me tell you, no one does it like Texas does. They pulled out all the stops and made sure we all had a great time but more importantly, felt like we were at home. I have a lot of posts coming up on Irving and the DFW area in general over the next few months but today, we’re kicking it off with five things you should do in Irving. It’s short and sweet, a great way to kick start your adventure of a new destination.

Big Beat Dallas (grand opening March 29 - Apr. 2nd)
During our tour of the city, we got a behind the scenes look at Big Beat Dallas while it was still under construction. Almost three months later the location has come a long way with opening weekend set for March 29th through April 2nd. I’m so excited for this entertainment giant to open that I may even take a quick trip back to Irving just to experience the opening events!

The space will include an indoor/outdoor farmers and ranchers market serving everything from seasonal produce to fresh meats, cheeses and retail items. Restaurant concepts include a Latin-style bar, walk-up barbecue joint, wine and scotch bars, outdoor food stations, Texas-style restaurant concept, martini bar, ice cream, and much more. Free music performances will happen every single day of the year and properties throughout the center will also include live blues, American-style jazz, piano bars and more. The Facebook page for Big Beat Dallas is a great source of updates and information and they’re getting a lot of great local media attention at the moment as well. Next time I make it to the DFW area, I’ll definitely be checking out Big Beat which you can expect to see on here as well.

Big State Fountain Grill
Would you believe me if I said I’d never tried any kind of soda float before my most recent visit to Irving? Well, you’re not alone. Several of the people in the group of the press trip I went on couldn’t believe it either. Let’s back it up for a second. The Big State Fountain Grill was one of the stops on our Tour of Irving Day and boy am I glad it was. What has to be one of the few remaining old-school diners, Big State Fountain Grill is run by family and feels like family. The staff are so friendly and the food is SO good. The owner’s daughter, who runs the joint, actually came out from working on the line in the kitchen to chat with us. It was a unique experience in the best kind of way. Big State has an enormous menu with anything you could think of but what you really need to visit for is their Fountain Favorites. Get a Big State Root Beer or Cream Soda. If you prefer ice cream, you’ll never see larger scoops! It was at Big State I had my first ever soda float. I don’t like Root Beer but that was no problem. They came out with a gigantic Dr. Pepper float and I think my mind is still blown.

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Irving Heritage District (Downtown)
The Irving Heritage District is the downtown area of the city of Irving. It’s main goal is to preserve the history of the city and display it for locals and visitors to experience. Heritage Park features “The Caster Cabin built in 1887, a replication of the Rock Island Depot built in 1903, and Irving’s first water tower, windmill, and library” (source: Visit Irving). Visit one of Irving’s oldest homes at the Heritage House which has period antiques and items to take you back in time. The Heritage District additionally includes the Texas Musicians Museum, Big State Diner, and more.

Texas Musicians Museum
Music lovers are going to enjoy this one. The Texas Musicians Museum celebrates local talent with memorabilia and artifacts. From Selena to Buddy Holly, the Dixie Chicks to Destiny’s Child, and Tonya Tucker to ZZ Top, this museum has a little bit from every corner of the music industry. Even Barney! Listen to original records, see musical instruments and outfits from the artists. Anyone would find at least one artist they admire or love in this museum. Tours are available for those interested in a more informed experience. They also have live entertainment on weekends! Grab some grub at Smokin’ Joe’s Cafe with a margarita and watch a Texas-born musician perform.

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The Mustangs of Las Colinas & Museum
A sculpture created by African wildlife artist Robert Glen, the Mustangs of Las Colinas depict “nine bronze mustangs galloping across a granite prairie stream.” It’s a gorgeous piece with an odd setting. The “stream” and waterfall is peaceful. Since we visited on the weekend, it was quiet but on any other weekday, the square would be bustling with people. It almost seemed like an oxymoron but in a beautiful kind of way. Across the street from the Mustangs of Las Colinas is the museum which showcases the life and story of Robert Glen, especially the eight years of work it took to create this sculpture in particular.

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Lollapalooza 2016 -- A Fashionably Late Recap

Happy 25th birthday to the best music festival on Earth--LOLLAPALOOZA!!

Lolla recently celebrated its quarter-of-a-century bday, and the party was off the chain. More music, more people, more fun, and ONE! MORE! DAY!

Here's a quick rundown of the amazing artists/bands that I peeped over this four day celebration:
Day 1: Melanie Martinez, Bastille, Daughter, The 1975, Lana Del Rey, J. Cole
Day 2: Con Brio, Saint Motel, Mø, Foals, Alessia Cara, M83, Miike Snow, Radiohead
Day 3: LOLAWOLF, X Ambassadors, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Leon Bridges, FRANKIE, Two Door Cinema Club, Disclosure
Day 4: Läpsley, Oh Wonder, Marian Hill, Years & Years, Louis The Child, AURORA, HAIM, Ellie Goulding

Honestly, each show was amazing, but The 1975 is one of my favorite bands so I'm biased to pick them as the best show. Or Marian Hill. Or Saint Motel. Con Brio, too. Okay, I can't decide. 

Either way, Lolla was amazing. And the one thing I love just as much as mosh pits and indie music is FASHION!!!

Music festivals are capital-g-Great places to wear your weirdest outfits, try your craziest makeup, attempt hairstyles never before seen by humans. I was pretty satisfied with my outfits this year, despite having almost zero time to go shopping. 

DAY 1

That's me on the left! 
My top is from Forever 21 - here it is in red.
My shorts are also from Forever 21 - here are similar ones in a floral pattern. 
This outfit was super comfortable to wear all day. Though the top ties in the back and constantly needed to be retied tighter all day--so I'd recommend some fashion tape for sure...

DAY 2 

Leotards have been all the rage this summer, and I couldn't help but participate, pairing it with denim shorts and simple high tops.
My leotard is from Akira - I bought the last one from their store, but here are some other bodysuits they have. 
The bralette I'm wearing under the bodysuit is hardly visible but I have to give it a shoutout. Urban Outfitters has the BEST bralettes and is always having amazing sales. Peep my bralette here
My shorts are from American Eagle--literally the only place I buy denim. They're so comfortable - you can find them here
My shoes are white high top Converse. They're actually men's Converse, because I feel like the women's ones are too narrow - check them out here
My sunglasses are from Urban Outfitters, and I get lots of compliments on these bad boys - here they are. 

DAY 3

Day 3 was my favorite, and probably the hottest since Day 1 and 2 were so rainy. The shirt that's around my waist was originally supposed to be actually worn, but I was getting so sweaty I just couldn't do it. 
My sports bra is from Forever 21 (obviously I really love F21) - you can see it here
The shorts are from Primark, I bought them about two years ago in Europe so I can't find them anywhere online, but shout out to Primark for always having incredibly cheap clothes. 
The shirt is also from Forever 21 - you can see it here
The sunglasses are the same ones from Urban in the Day 2 photo! 
Fun Fact: on this day, I put those blue star stickers on my chest, then proceeded to get extremely sunburned. I now have three, pale star shapes on my chest. Always. Wear. Sunscreen. 

DAY 4

My sheer dress is from a boutique store in Galena, IL called Lulu's. I go to Galena every year and always make sure to stop in Lulu's since they always have great finds. 
My one piece underneath is actually a one piece swimsuit that I bought at Walmart in Galena because I needed another swimsuit. Random, I know, but it worked out pretty well. My favorite part about this outfit was my cornrows that my roommate spent an hour putting in my hair at 8am. 
My sunglasses are from Forever 21, and probably one of my favorite pairs that I've ever owned. I bought them a year ago, but here are similar ones. 

That concludes my fashion recap for Lolla 2016! And I'm so excited because Lolla 2017's gonna be 4 days next year! Will I see you there!? 

Back to School Playlist

Summer is coming to an end (thank God) which means school is back in session. I may not be in school and even though I live with school-aged kids, I don't have any of my own but that doesn't mean I don't get nostalgic. I was the nerd that actually liked school when I was in high school and college. I always got excited to pick out my outfits and get my books, see what I was reading in English and go buy supplies. My love of supplies lives on through office supplies now. I blame all those 90s teen movies with Freddie Prinze Jr. and Julia Styles. Does anyone else want to live in 10 Things I Hate About You? 

Reliving late 90s fashion and feminism might only be possible through watching the classic teen flick but the music can definitely keep it alive all day long. So to celebrate back to school my way, I've created yet another playlist for you guys with songs that were popular when I was in school as well as songs from those famous teenage, high school movies. Be prepared for some major throwbacks. 

Ok, where do I start. 10 Things I Hate About You had a pretty bomb soundtrack. "One Week" by Barenaked Ladies is still to date one of my favorite songs. The Cheap Trick covers were freaking awesome as well. I started high school back in 2005 and I am mind blown at how many great songs came out that year This playlist is probably half that to be honest. 2009 was the year I graduated high school and wasn't the best year for music. Lots of Kelly Clarkson and Britney came out with her Circus album which is one of my favorites. Other than that, the year can be wiped out of existence. Then we have a few other soundtracks with epic songs like Breakfast Club, Pitch Perfect, Step Up and a few others I won't ruin for my movie post coming tomorrowI'm even taking it back to Grease for you guys. This really is the most epic back to school playlist there ever was if you ask me. I didn't restrict the soundtracks to just movies though. Oh no. You'll find songs from The Hills, Laguna Beach, One Tree Hill, The O.C. and more. I'm telling you...bomb playlist. 

Here's a fun note. Tell me what year your started and/or graduated high school and I'll look up a few of the top songs from that year and add them to the playlist! Tell me in the comments below and make sure you follow both me and the playlist on Spotify so you can listen anytime you want.

Summer Playlist

We are in the thick of summer here in Chicago. With temperatures predicted to reach near 100 degrees this week, it's going to be a scorcher out there. I will be hibernating much like the dead of winter because I prefer the comfort of air conditioning over the heat of the sun. With the heat in full motion, I felt it was high time for a summer playlist. You all know how much of a music junkie I am and there has been a lot of new music in the last few months. So whether you're hopping in a car for your latest summer adventure or need to get some work done, let this playlist carry you through.

Britney Spears dropped her first single in way too long which makes me want to throw a party to celebrate. "Make Me" featuring G-Eazy is different from any of her past sounds embracing a mellow, electronic vibe that really lets her vocals shine. I'm obsessed. David Guetta has a ton of new songs out that I'm currently loving especially his hit with Zara Larson "This One's For You." Country music is hotter than it's ever been and I got to celebrate that big time this past weekend at Windy City Smokeout. Check out my photos from the weekend on my Instagram account @lattesnlifeblog. I saw Billy Currington at Smokeout for the first time and he was such a blast. Of course he made the list with a song or two as well as Carrie Underwood, Florida Georgia Line and Maren Morris who was also at Smokeout and phenomenal. 

I wanted this playlist to be fun, upbeat and an obvious summer playlist. I also wanted it to be versatile so you can listen to it at work or at the gym or at the beach. It has a mix of all kinds of music from Gavin DeGraw to Tiesto to Sam Hunt. Press play and enjoy three hours of non-stop music. I might even add a few songs as the summer goes on. Follow me on Spotify for more playlists and to see what I'm listening to lately.