2018 Holiday Gift Guide

Planning for the holidays is something I’ve exceeded at since hosting became a thing for me. Shopping for presents, however, has always been a struggle. I will give it an honest try in early November. I’ll write down everyone I need to shop for, write any ideas I have next to their names and feel okay. But come the week before Christmas...I’m still shopping! Why? I can’t tell you. The only thing I can think of is that some people are so hard to shop for that it holds me back with all the other gifts. With all the other preparations that need to happen, shopping just doesn’t feel like a huge priority until all of a sudden, you have three days left to ship by Christmas. With that said, I have a few ideas for you last-minute procrastinators in case you’re not feeling particularly inspired…

Read More

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…

Read More

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.

**This post may include affiliate links. Read our full disclosure here.**

July Spotlight Header.png

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...

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

July Spotlight - Top Recipes.png
JULY SPOTLIGHT - Favorite Travel Posts.png

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.

Henry's Chicago S'mores.JPG
3 Embers IG Story.JPG

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!

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..

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...

Shop Announcement.png

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.

Rome Today Latte Writing.jpg

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?

This post may contain affiliate/referral links. It’s a way for this site to earn advertising fees by advertising or linking to certain products and/or services.

May Spotlight Header.png

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...

[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

May Spotlight - Top Recipes.png
MAY SPOTLIGHT - Favorite Travel Posts.png

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

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...

April Spotlight

Well, April…I think we can all agree you’re moving a little too fast. How is Easter already past? How has spring been around for nearly one month? I mean, it’s even harder to believe since as I write this I’m wrapped in a blanket and wearing moccasin slippers. Time is certainly not a friend when it decides to fly by. The first quarter of the year is over and while a lot has been going on behind the scenes, I’m more excited for quarter two because you guys will finally get the chance to start seeing all the things I’ve been working on. Until then, let’s get to April’s Spotlight!

April Spotlight Header.png

Obsessing over Joanna Gaines’ latest collection at Target…

Intrigued by this new cookbook subscription service similar to Spotify but for foodies…

Great tips for things you should do before every international trip…

Can’t stop listening to Elton John’s Revamp and Restoration playlist

Dreaming of a new kitchen design. I don’t know how I became obsessed with farmhouse but I can’t get enough!

Down to the wire on your taxes? Take a look at these do’s and dont’s for freelancers…

With my friends starting to scatter around the world, finding new ones has been an interesting new journey…

It’s finally time to start planning road trips! Here’s a little inspiration to get rolling…

And while we’re on the topic of travel, I’m starting to feel the burn to hit up a list of trips to take before thirty…

Finally, while taking those trips, make sure to get the best photos possible

[from top left]
Baby Greens with Chicken, Tomatoes, Goat Cheese, & Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
Chicken Parmesan Sliders
Hosting a Girls’ Night In - Taco Fiesta!
Mini Lamb Meatballs with Quinoa & Roasted Veggies

April Spotlight - Top Recipes.png
APRIL SPOTLIGHT - Favorite Travel Posts.png

We’re currently in the process of painting and rearranging bedrooms which means I am in need of a few things! I’m looking for a new desk chair which has been a fruitless year-long search. I’m also looking for new bedding. I’ve tired of what I currently have and am looking for something simple yet chic. I like neutrals and cooler colors in particular so if you have any suggestions, send them my way! The main color of my bedroom will be Magnolia’s Panna Cotta which is a silvery white. It’s SO pretty. The trim, closet and accents will be Magnolia’s Cupola.

In other news, I’m also on the hunt for a car. This is a pretty big deal since I’ve never owned a car before, never really having the need for one. I have a few particular models in mind that I’d prefer but we’ll see what happens. Share any of your car buying tips in the comments below because this girl could use all the help she can get. With a new car on the horizon, I’m finally starting to plan some travel! This year, instead of longer trips I wanted to take smaller ones over long weekends that require...wait for it...a car! I have a long list of smaller towns and cities that I’ve been wanting to visit but hadn’t been able to since renting a car always seemed such a waste of money and I didn’t have a car of my own.

Tonight I’m going to see Pretty Woman at the Oriental Theater! It’s the pre-Broadway premiere of the musical based off the of the movie everyone loves with Julia Roberts starring Samantha Barks. You may recognize her from the movie version of Les Miserables playing Eponine. My friend and I are hitting up Roanoke for dinner beforehand which means there will probably be plenty of Instagram coverage if you’d like to follow along on our girls’ night out!

Finding the need for a larger stockpot that’s not cast-iron and this one from Ayesha Currey’s collection at Target fits the bill…

Obsessed with these open-toed ankle booties in Taupe and these sandals both from the LC by Lauren Conrad collection…

Patiently awaiting the real spring weather so I can break out a few dresses. Currently loving this one from Anthropologie

Looking forward to the best part of spring - accessorizing!

March Spotlight

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.

Photo Credit:   Levine-Moore Photography

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...

[from top left]
Creamy Pumpkin Pasta
Chicken Milanese with Simple Spaghetti
Harvest Season Chicken Pot Pie
Raspberry Mint Margarita

March Spotlight - Top Recipes.png
MARCH SPOTLIGHT - Favorite Travel Posts.png

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!

Love Never Dies photo.jpg

Loving the flowy dresses coming out for spring right now especially this one from The Gap

I’m really obsessed with the Perasima Dinner Plates at Anthropologie in mint and also their Piet Mugs.

I have got to get my hands on the LC Lauren Conrad Madeleine Convertible Satchel but also can’t wait for warmer weather because her Baneberry Sandals and Poem Women’s Flats are calling my name!

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.

February Spotlight

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!

February Spotlight Header.png

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

February Spotlight - Top Recipes.png
FEBRUARY SPOTLIGHT - Favorite Travel Posts.png

[from top left]
Discovering Fort Worth’s Magnolia Avenue
5 International Spring Break Destinations
5 Day Boston Itinerary
That Time I Ate My Way Through Springfield, MO

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.

Now that I finally tried my Ayesha Curry Porcelain Enamel Grill Pan, I want the entire collection. This stuff is for the pros!