Friday, February 28, 2014

Five on Friday: March Bucket List

Happy Friday and last day of February!!!  I can hardly believe it's time for my March bucket list!  I have to admit, I was a total failure when it came to my February list.. the only thing I did was find the cookie dough oreo's.  And they weren't even good!  In my defense- the Sky Zone didn't open yet, Cards for Humanity was sold out, and I'm still waiting for my Costco bucks so I can get my new computer.  I still plan to do all of those things, just not in February obviously :)  Now it's time to focus on March.. one month closer to Spring which makes me happy!  Here is what I've got planned for this month...

1) First things first, celebrate St. Patrick's Day!  We take St. Pattys Day very seriously here in Chicago.  We dye our river green, have a massive parade and the entire city parties all day long.  I have friends that come into town every year which makes the celebrations that much more fun!

St. Pattys Day 2013 

2) Dry Bar has opened up in Chicago and I need to check it out!  We are celebrating my friend Erica's birthday next weekend so I think a visit to Dry Bar is in order before the trolley bar crawl.


3) I partake in Lent every year and plan to this year as well!  I have no idea what I'm going to give up yet.. I was thinking chocolate since that is my #1 weakness but I gave that up last year and I feel like I can't do it two years in a row?!  It starts on Wednesday so I need to figure it out ASAP!  What are you guys giving up?


4) Do our taxes.  Gross.  Enough said there.

5) Am I the only person that hasn't been to the Melting Pot?  I've been dying to try it for like 5 years now so I'm going to make it a date night for March!  How can you go wrong with a dinner of cheese and chocolate fondue?


What do you have planned for March?

Also, our giveaway ends Monday so don't forget to enter!  It's super easy on my end - just follow me through GFC or Instagram and you will be able to enter to win $70!

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thankful Thursday: Week 9

I feel like I was just sitting down to write my last Thankful Thursday post.. where are the days going?!  It has been sort of a stressful week due to some personal issues but instead of constantly dwelling on what is going wrong, I've been finding myself focusing on what is going right.  There is so much to be thankful for, even when things aren't going our way.  Being more thankful in 2014 was my goal and I can honestly see the improvement in myself and I think I have this link up to thank for that.  Myself and my 3 cohosts - Mia at Make Me Up Mia, Carly at Carly Blogs Here and Kristal at The Strong Family - would love for you to link up with us today and share what you are thankful for!

Thursday, February 20


 Is there anything better than coming home to dinner already made?  After a long rainy day, a steaming hot bowl of tortellini sausage soup made in the crockpot was sooo appreciated!  Find the recipe HERE!

Friday, February 21


We headed to Michigan on Friday to spend the weekend with Nick's family.  If you didn't know, I consider myself a ginger ale connoisseur (25 going on 65 over here...) so we had to stop and get some Michigan made Vernors when we arrived!

Saturday, February 22


This smirk is Nick's signature face when we take pictures.  This was us at Lucky's Steakhouse - if you are in the metro Detroit area, get yourself over there ASAP.  Amazing food!

Sunday, February 23


I typically work on Sundays so that is Nick's night to make dinner.  Since we were out of town, I wasn't working obviously but he still volunteered to make dinner when we got home!  Of course I let him and enjoyed a nice long hot shower while he cooked up a delicious pasta dish!

Monday, February 24


Monday was a beautiful day in the city!  Not a bad view from the grocery store, right?

Tuesday, February 25


Don't judge us in this picture - we just got done playing volleyball!  After our win, we headed to Big Star to get tacos and margarita's to celebrate two of our teammates Nick and Erica's birthdays this week!

Wednesday, February 26


I'm thankful for my blogging friends recipes!  I tried this easy chicken parmesan that Biana posted a while back and it was SO good!  Nick loved it too so I have a feeling we will be making this often!
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What's In My Bag?


Today you can find me doing my very FIRST guest post over at Pink and Fabulous!  Lindsey is a super sweet friend I've been lucky enough to "meet" through blogging - she shares daily posts about her everyday life with two little ones, her favorite recipes, DIY projects and fashion/beauty tips.  Basically, there's something for everyone so make sure to stop by and say hi!

I'll be talking about what you can find in my bag, including my lip gloss problem collection.... Happy Wednesday!


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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Finding that "Blogging Balance"


I wrote my first blog post back in September.  I didn't really know what I was doing, I just thought it would be fun to have a space where I could document my life and share some recipes or beauty tips.  Almost 6 months and 115 posts later, I've fallen in love with blogging!  I hope to continue for a long, long time but I've realized I need to find a bit of a balance in the time consuming hobby that is blogging.

The blogosphere never stops - there is always a comment to respond to, a friends blog to catch up on, a post to write or a layout feature to work on.  I love doing all of these things but there don't seem to be enough hours in the day to do all of this and to keep up with my everyday life!  The past couple of weeks have been pretty busy and I know going into the summer months, I'll only be busier.  It makes me sad at the end of the day to still have comments I wasn't able to respond to or never had the time to visit some of my favorite blogs to show them some love.  So, how do you all do it??

*Do you respond to every single comment left on your page?

*Do you visit every person's blog that leaves you a comment and comment back?

*When do you find the time in between all the other "stuff" that comes with blogging to actually write your posts?

*Do you find the time to visit new blogs each day?

*How do you keep up with social media?

TELL ME YOUR SECRETS!

And please don't get me wrong - I definitely don't feel pressured to do all of these things "just because" it comes with blogging, I WANT to do all of these things because I enjoy it so much!  I'm lucky enough to have a part-time job which allows me more time to set aside for blogging but lately, it just hasn't been enough.  I'd love to hear any of your tips and tricks when it comes to creating a happy medium between your blogging life and your everyday life!

I hope you all know just how much I adore you and am so thankful to this crazy blogging world for the relationships I've created!  You've all made blogging a million times better than I ever thought it would be!


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Monday, February 24, 2014

Meal Monday: Crockpot Tortellini Soup



My 2014 winter meals can be summed up by two things: the crockpot and tortellini.  Obviously I had to combine the two and the result was nothing short of amazing!  We are still suffering from freezing cold temps in Chicago and there is nothing better than a bowl of steaming hot soup on a cold winter day.  This creamy, hearty soup will make everyone in your family happy.

Shopping List
18 oz frozen tortellini (make sure you use FROZEN, not fresh - fresh will have a much different cooking time)
24 oz jar of spaghetti sauce (I used tomato basil garlic)
1 lb browned italian sausage (I used sweet)
32 oz chicken broth
8 oz cream cheese (don't use fat free/low fat because it won't melt correctly)
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 carrot stalks, chopped


Directions
1) In a large saucepan over medium heat, brown your sausage.  Make sure to not cook all the way through - the center should still be pink!  Takes about 3-5 minutes.


2) While sausage is browning, chop up onion and carrots.


3) In crockpot, layer spaghetti sauce, browned sausage, cream cheese, chicken broth, carrots and onion.


4) Turn crockpot on high and cook for 2.5-3 hours.

5) With 20 minutes left, stir in frozen tortellini.

6) Cook for 20 minutes at high heat.

7) Turn crockpot off and stir VERY well to get out all the cream cheese chunks.

8) Serve topped with parmesan cheese.

Sorry my pictures ended after step 3.  I was at work so my husband had to finish the meal himself - it's so easy it's even husband proof!  And for my sweet friend Courtney, prep time was about 15 minutes and cook time was an additional 3 hours :)

Now on to the fun stuff... How about a little extra cash in the pocket to spend on oh I don't know... fresh flowers, a new Spring wardrobe, margaritas, spa day? These generous ladies and myself wanted to give you a little lovin' so make sure to go show them some love right back!

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Five on Friday 2/21

Is it just me or is February flying by?  Not going to lie.. I love it!  The end of February is definitely the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel that is a Chicago winter.   Before I go and get myself too excited for spring, I better move on to my top five things from this week!

+ Last Friday, I posted about my traumatic shoe incident.. the Frye Melissa Button boots I'd been eying for a year finally went on sale and I missed out on my size while trying to make the decision if I should buy them or not.  WELL, Nordstrom came through for me (I never should have doubted them) and restocked the boots on Friday morning.  You can bet I did not waste one single second before whipping out my credit card!  I had to order a half size up so they are a little big but I'm making it work because how gorgeous are these boots??  I'm in love!


+ We are Olympics obsessed over here!  Nick has played hockey since he was pretty much a baby so obviously his favorite Olympic event is men's hockey.  Work schedules have been arranged according to the games this week (no joke) and you can find us both at home this afternoon cheering on USA in their big game vs Canada!


+ I officially became a woman this week and bought my first lipstick!  I know, I know - what took me so long?!  I went with a natural, every day color by MAC called Modesty.  I'm really impressed with how long the color stays put and the moisturization provided by the MAC lipsticks.  I have a feeling my poor wallet is going to take a hit with this new discovery...


+ Another thing I'm totally late to the game for.. ebates!  I signed up this week and used it to buy our flights to Florida - I'll be getting $40 back which is awesome!  I'll probably use it to buy more lipstick :)


+ Because who can turn down candles that smell like doughnuts and macaroons?  Bath and Body Works can do no wrong. 
*3 wick candles are all 2 for $22 right now!


I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!  Stop back on Monday for a tortellini soup recipe made in the CROCKPOT!
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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thankful Thursday: Week 8

Happy Thursday!  It has been a really great week so far!  Nothing particularly exciting has happened but it's just one of those weeks where everything seems to be going right - Chicago weather included.  I could have taken 15 pictures of something I was thankful for each day this week but I'll spare you 3 hours of your time and just give you my highlights!  I hope you'll join myself and my 3 cohosts - Carly at Carly Blogs Here, Mia at Make Me Up Mia and Kristal at The Strong Family - for Thankful Thursday every week!

Thursday, February 13


Sorry for the awkward picture, but Thursday brought a life changing experience for me: I got my eyebrows done!  Why in the world I have thought I could do them myself is beyond me.  I had been totally over plucking and finally decided to let them grow out in 2014 and let a professional take it from there.  Cue Yelp and a brow girl by the name of Emma that others claimed "will make you look like you just had Botox" and I was sold!  If you are in the Chicago area, check out Arch Apothecary - Emma was amazing!

Friday, Feburary 14


Thankful for my go-to Valentine's Day sweater!

Saturday, February 15


A 12 hour day of work - on a Saturday, no less - required a nice long afternoon break at Starbucks.

Sunday, February 16


Nick had been out of town since Tuesday morning and finally came home Sunday night!  We celebrated by ordering a giant Papa John's Hawaiian pizza.  Yummmm!

Monday, February 17


My dad and step-mom spent Valentine's weekend in Galena, IL so on their way back to Michigan, stopped in Chicago to have lunch with Nick and I.  We ventured out in the midst of a snowstorm to have lunch at Greek Islands and it was well worth it!  After they left, Nick and I spent the rest of the afternoon on the couch with our candles lit, heated blanket going, the Olympics on, oh and doing some work, while it thunder-snowed.

Tuesday, February 18


 Our April Florida trip is officially booked!  I'm so ready for some sun and warmer weather!  The countdown is officially on!  :)

Wednesday, February 19

 
Taking pictures of your hand may be just as awkward as taking selfies!  I got my Birchbox this week and it included a bright pink nail polish that changes colors in the sunlight.  I'm loving the hot pink right now while I'm dreaming of Spring!
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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Glam Series: Hair Winners


Linking up with Love Always, Nancy J for another edition of the Glam Series!  This week we are focusing on all things hair.  I would say doing my hair is probably my worst "skill" when it comes to getting ready.  I have pretty fine hair that does NOT air dry well so that means blow drying and styling after every wash for me unfortunately.  I used to have to wash my hair at least 3 times a week but I've spent the last couple of years training my hair to not need to be cleaned so often - I now wash once a week.  Thank God for dry shampoo!  Here are my winning products when it comes to all things hair.

Shampoo & Conditioner: Redken All Soft S&C
I just started using this over the fall after a love/hate experience with Wen haircare.  All Soft is pretty amazing!  It makes your hair super soft (obvi) and has really helped control frizz and flyaways.  It's also very moisturizing but doesn't weigh the hair down at all - which is a hard combination to come by.



Scalp Treatment: Dermarest Psoriasis Medicated Shampoo Plus Conditioner
I don't actually have psoriasis but I suffer from dry scalp almost all year round and especially in the winter.  I use this once a week and it really helps keep the flakes at bay.  It does say "plus conditioner" but I find this dries out my hair so I almost always use a deep conditioner following it.



Clarifying Shampoo: Neutrogena Anti-Residue Formula Shampoo
I use this product more in the summer (because in the winter the Dermarest takes its place) but this is a great product to use once a week to get all the gunk out of your hair that is weighing it down.  Again, it can dry out your hair so use a good deep conditioner after it!



Deep Conditioner: Macademia Natural Oil Deep Repair Masque
This stuff makes your hair feel brand new!  It will take dry, damaged hair and somehow magically repair it.  A little bit goes a long way with this stuff to make your hair feel soft, smooth and silky.  Added bonus: it smells delicious.


Dry Shampoo: Batiste Blush
I couldn't get into dry shampoo for the longest time.  Every product I tried just weighed my hair down and made it look like it needed to be washed even more badly.  And then I decided on a whim to try an $8 bottle from Ulta and fell in love!  I will spray this stuff all over my roots and leave on while I'm doing my makeup.  After I'm finished, I'll run my fingers through my scalp to really work the dry shampoo in and then brush it out.  Grease evaporates and my hair feels like I just showered that day!



Multi-tasking Product: It's a 10 Miracle Leave In Product
Miracle is an understatement when it comes to this stuff.  If you are looking for a product to eliminate frizz, restore shine, protect hair from heated styling tools, prevent split ends, etc. etc.  THIS is for you!  I couldn't live without it. After I towel dry my hair, I spray this stuff all over it and brush through to distribute it to all strands.


Texturizing Product: L'Oreal Boost It Spray
I just posted my love for this product on Friday and lots of you agreed with me!  This $3.99 stuff has easily replaced my old favorite by Oribe.  This product adds volume to your hair like you wouldn't believe!  Us fine haired ladies can never seem to get the full head of hair look but with this stuff, it's finally possible!



What are your favorite hair products?
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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

All Things Pinterest

I have an up and down relationship with Pinterest.  Sometimes I get on and pin my life away - I find new recipes to make, new outfit looks to recreate, a few good quotes and new makeup looks to try.  Other times, I get on and it's the same 20 pins on repeat.  Lately, my love affair with Pinterest has been going strong and I wanted to share some of my recent favorites with you!  Follow me on Pinterest HERE!

++ My Style Board

Sources: picture 1, 3 

I'm loving the pop of pink for February and for looking forward to Spring.  The skirt + sweater + tight combo makes for a warm and cozy going out look.  And I now officially need a plaid coat.  And a Chanel bag of course ;)

++ Home Inspiration Board

Sources: 1, 2, 3

Dream home is all I have to say.  I also must really love that bathroom because I just realized I pinned it three times!

++ Desserts Board

Sources: 2, 3

I need to find a reason to have a party so I can make these marshmallow/brownie/strawberry kabobs, pink champagne cookies and banana cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting.  Drooling.

Lastly, I'll leave you with a very solid piece of advice I found via Pinterest...  Happy Tuesday!  :)

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