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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- 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!

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.

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…

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.

Napa Valley Playlist

Visiting Napa Valley involves a lot of driving around. It doesn't matter if you're staying somewhere else and planning a day trip or spending it all in the valley. Chances are you'll have at least a 10-15 minute car ride to your next destination. Always prepared on the music front, I've put together a playlist for your Napa Valley adventures. It's not hard to get creative musically for a Napa trip. The amount of songs about wine or champagne are endless. I chose a few favorites for your listening pleasure.

Napa is classy so I tried to keep it that way but I won't deny a few guilty pleasures. You'll find songs from classics like Nina Simone and Billy Joel to chart toppers like Nick Jonas and Meghan Trainor. There's also a 90s throwback with UB-40's "Red, Red Wine." Remember that one? I also did a little digging and found a few songs that I wasn't expecting like "Killer Queen." Never one to stay in the box, I squeezed in a few songs that might not be wine related but felt natural for a Napa road trip. There are a lot of love songs because apparently wine and love are not mutually exclusive. But there are also some surprising, upbeat numbers. All Time Low and Fall Out Boy made the list as well as Ne-Yo, Nas & Amy Winehouse and Hozier. Don't be surprised to find a few country songs in there too. How can anyone resist "Strawberry Wine" by Deanna Carter. That's one of my favorite country songs of all time. 

I felt very relaxed and comfortable in Napa. It felt as if it were an extension of Europe and I've been missing it terribly lately. I tapped into that nostalgia to create this playlist putting care into the vibe. It embraces mood swings from zen to ready to party. It's great road trip music, at least I think so, and might even get you through a little bit of your workday. Since I've put this playlist together, I've gotten so much work done that it might become my new favorite.

San Francisco Playlist

The best part of any trip or travel experience is in the anticipation. Deciding what you need to bring, researching places you want to visit and getting ready to wander around a new city can sometimes be more exciting than actually being there. Not because it doesn't live up to expectations but because it takes a little while to actually sink in. At least, that's how it is for me. Whenever I'm traveling, I love to have playlists saved in Spotify to embrace my mood. Luckily, all major cities have at least a handful of songs that were inspired by them. Most states and countries as well. If you're feeling up to it, it's always fun to create a playlist of these songs. If not, Spotify has a ton of great already organized playlists as well.

I guess I should disclose at this point that I am not in business with Spotify. This post isn't sponsored, I'm not getting my premium account for free. I'm just obsessed with it. They let you see your year in review and I managed to listen to over 63,000 minutes of music in 2015. I'm sure I would still have listened to plenty of music with my Apple account or on Pandora but Spotify makes it easy. It's probably the one monthly service that I pay for I'm actually getting my money's worth. What I love most is that it introduces me to new artists and bands I would have never thought to look for myself.

As we wrap up our California adventures, I thought it would be fun to share a playlist inspired by San Francisco. It wasn't hard to find songs that were inspired by this great city but I like a decently built playlist with more than an hour of listening time. So I went even further and looked into artists and bands that are from San Francisco. Did you know 2Pac was from San Francisco? I had no idea! This playlist has a combination of San Francisco-inspired songs and born and bred locals. I hope you enjoy it!

Lattes, Life, & Luggage Christmas Playlist

Can you guys believe that Christmas is one week from today? I've just begun my shopping and I have no idea when I'm going to finish. I also have several desserts I need to bake within the next four days which should be exciting. I'm sure I'm not the only one who will be busy in this week leading up to Christmas. With that in mind, I've created a Christmas Playlist on Spotify for you to get your baking on, your wrapping on or whatever it is you're planning to do.