7 Small Shops to Support This Holiday Season

Now that we’re a week in to November, I hope you guys are finally accepting all the holiday content that’s infiltrating the blog! I don’t feel that bad, actually, at all. I got the Thanksgiving Food Magazine issue in early October and my personal inbox has already been bombarded with gift guides. Something tells me now is the exact time we should start talking about all things holiday. We’ll have a few more posts in the next month sharing gift ideas but it all kicks off with small online shops to support. I’ve pulled together a list of my favorite e-stores by fellow bloggers and entrepreneurs to shop from. Shop small and support the people you love. Instead of just hitting "like" the next time you see something from a shop or blogger you follow on Instagram, head over to their shop and see if there’s something you can purchase to support them and cross a gift off your list…

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Announcing The Official Lattes, Life & Luggage Shop!

Happy Sunday! How many of you watched the Royal Wedding yesterday? I can’t stop scrolling through the pictures, I’m obsessed! Her dresses were absolutely stunning and both 100% my style. Givenchy has always been one of my favorite designers, especially because of his friendship with Audrey Hepburn and all the stunning designs that came out of it. While the wedding of the year was on everyone’s minds this week, I was otherwise occupied. If you follow me on Instagram and happened to see my stories Friday night, I finally launched the Official Lattes, Life & Luggage Shop!!! It’s been a long time coming and something I have been looking forward to for a few months now. It’s both terrifying and exciting to finally have it launched! Consider this post your official introduction...

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The Collections
The Official Lattes, Life & Luggage Shop has two original collections. One might even look a little familiar. The Taking Charge Collection is inspired by the tagline for this blog: taking charge of life with a latte in one hand and suitcase in the other. It’s a slogan I like to live by even though traveling might not always be consistent. It’s a slogan that is also meant to be taken metaphorically. When I rebranded to Lattes, Life & Luggage, I was closing one chapter of my life and starting a new one. In this chapter, I’ve really taken life and run with it. There have been ups and downs and a lot of risks but no regrets. If someone were to caricature this chapter, I imagine it would be me in a casual outfit dragging a suitcase behind me and sipping a latte. After all, that’s basically how I look on a regular basis. Just swap the suitcase out for an over-sized bag! It’s also so many women around the world making it someone many of us can identify with.

The second collection is titled, Rome Today. The design features a bistro table set and the slogan, “Rome Today, Paris Tomorrow.” Rome and Paris are cities that everyone recognizes and they’re places most people dream of visiting. While I’ve had the opportunity to spend months in Paris, Rome is still a dream for me, one day to become a reality. This collection embraces my own travel dreams with the hope to inspire yours. I imagine that if we had this mug on our desks every day, it would motivate and inspire us to book that plane ticket sooner rather than later.

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The Store
The shop is launching with the two collections described above. Both collections currently feature a few different mug types, tote bags, zip pouches, notebooks and water bottles. More items will be coming soon to both collections including travel mugs and additional types of bags. Starting later in the summer, we’ll be rolling out new collections every other month. There will also be seasonal collections for fall, winter, the holidays, and more. We will also host occasional sales and discounts so make sure to follow @LattesnLifeBlog on social media to stay in the loop.

That’s all for now! Happy shopping and as always, thank you for your support!
❤️ Christine

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

A post shared by Christine Marie (@lattesnlifeblog) on

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...

January Spotlight

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.

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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.

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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.

Photo: Levine-Moore Photography

Photo: Levine-Moore Photography

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!

WISH LIST
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

Gift Guide For The Graduate

Graduation season is here. Is anyone else overwhelmed with the parties? Whether it's a high school graduation or college graduation, we have a gift guide that covers all the bases. Military graduation? We've got you covered too. Our gift guide has options for every budget, especially if you are in no place to break the bank anytime soon. Check it out below and good luck with the swarm of summertime celebrations.

Back Me Up! Mobile Charger - ban.do ($30): Having your phone die without a charger, or without access to an outlet, can be rough. This charger with a cool design gives you extra juice when you need it most.

Bartending Glasses set of 4 - Kikkerlanad ($20): For the college grad experimenting with their mixology skills, this set of glasses is the perfect gift. Each glass teaches you how to make cocktails with a different type of spirit. Glasses are 8 ounces each and between the four, you can master 16 different cocktails. Being an adult was never so much fun!

BookBook for MacBook - twelve south ($99.99): Protect your MacBook with a case that delivers personality and protection. the leather case includes durable protection from outside impact with a soft interior to cushion your computer and keep it scratch free.

Chocolate Bliss Box - Gifts.com ($59.99): There are no better gifts than those you can eat. The Chocolate Bliss Box includes: Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Popcorn, Vanilla Marshmallows, Dark Chocolate Covered Pistachios, Cocoa Biscotti Bites, Milk Chocolate Covered Pretzels and more.

Fujufilm Instax Mini 8 Instant Camera - Urban Outfitters ($70): Forget the iPhone. Bring back the old school Polaroids. Have fun with friends capturing memories and instantly see them printed. These are also great for bridal showers, weddings and other big events.

Graduation Mug - Gifts.com ($14.44): Send off your graduate with a personalized mug. Who doesn't need an extra mug to add to their collection?

Jam - Plus Portable Bluetooth Speaker - Best Buy ($39.99): Never do homework in silence again. This portable Bluetooth speaker is a fantastic gift for the graduate who always has music playing. The rechargeable battery gives it an on-the-go quality so you can use it wherever, whenever you want. 

Personalized Military Pocket Watch - Things Remembered ($75): For the military man or woman in your life, celebrate their graduation from the academy with a personalized pocket watch. It includes the military emblem on the front and a personal message on back.

Quiet Courage Necklace - Uncommon Goods ($52): Bring a little serenity into your life with this charm necklace. The merchant claims this necklace will bring "vitality and harmony to daily life."

Single-Serve Blender with Travel Lid - Hamilton Beach ($19.99): Whether you're graduating high school, college or grad school, anyone could use this blender. Whip up a healthy smoothie for breakfast or a tasty milkshake after dinner for one. 

Working Man's Hygiene Kit - Uncommon Goods ($50): Let's not forget the guys! Make sure he stays clean at school or for those post-college interviews with a kit that includes a scrub, soap, knuckle wax, after shower dry oil, lotion, foot salve and lip balm. He'll be squeaky clean and baby's butt soft.

Holiday Gift Guides: Time To Get Ridiculous

This final gift guide is by far my favorite. It's all the stuff you see while shopping that makes you laugh but you don't buy it because it's ridiculous. It's all the things you wish you could give someone but think better of it. However, I guarantee the receiver of these gifts will be so thankful for the knee slapping laugh that they won't even care. I know the 50 Farts from last year are going to be hard to top but I think we can do it. 

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT
1A: 50 Jobs Worse Than Yours ($16 - Paper Source) - Feel bad about your career? Not anymore. This book will explain in detail why your job is certainly not the worst...unless of course you have one of the jobs they mention.
2A: The Official BS Button ($9.45 - Amazon) - Keep this handy. Anytime someone blatantly likes or does something ridiculous, hit the button. Don't even say anything. Just hit the button and watch them either A) walk away in shame or B) freak out on you at which point you just keep hitting the button.
3A: Butt Station Tape Dispenser, Pen & Memo Holder, Paper Clip Storage ($13.34 - Amazon) - This is the most ridiculous desk organizer I have ever seen and it's awesome. What a great gag gift for the office. 
4A: Complaint Sticky Note ($3.99 - Off the Wagon) - Have something to complain about that needs action? Here is your non-awkward way of dealing with it.
1B: Dammit Doll ($14.95 - Paper Source) - A weird looking doll designed specifically for you to throw around and abuse when you're having one of those awful days. 
2B: Emoji Poo Pillow ($14.95 - Paper Source) - Because who doesn't want a poo emoji pillow?
3B: Banana Flask (20 - Urban Outfitters) - This is hilarious. What a great way to call attention to yourself when your trying to sneak a drink.
4B: FARTS: A Spotter's Guide ($15.95 - Paper Source) - Never get blamed for farts again. This guide will lead to the emitter of farts so you know who is the stinky culprit. The goofy gift guide would be nothing without a poop related gift.
1C: Good Morning A-Hole Mug ($15.95 - Paper Source) - Start with the blank side facing forward. As soon as someone comes up to you to talk before you're ready, slowly turn it with the words towards them and watch their reaction. I want this mug just to try it out.
2C: Pooping Reindeer ($6.95 - Paper Source) - You cannot tell me that you wouldn't have a good laugh if you unwrapped this on Christmas. How ridiculous!
3C: Things You Do That Really Piss Me Off Pad ($6.99 - Knock Knock) - Take your frustrations out on paper. Check off as many as you need to and deliver weekly...or daily if that person is your number one annoyance.
4C: WTF Nifty Notes ($4.50 - Knock Knock) - I feel like we all need something like this in our lives. Do you agree?