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Essentials of the Week!

I'm really excited today because my parents are (finally) back in town for the weekend and they brought Rufus & Wrigley with them, so I'm going to get a lot of quality time with the entire family! 

They're out in the suburbs with my brother, my two nieces and my nephew, so it's going to be nice to get out of the city for a day or two and just de-compress and relax. 

This week was pretty uneventful, but I've been working on a lot of really exciting summer blog content for all of you whenever I've had down time from work and Pure Barre, and I think it's going to be amazing! Hopefully you all love it as much as I do!

Here are my essentials for this week!


Dying to Watch | This new Netflix show coming out in July...I've been running seriously low on shows to watch! (probably a sign that I should go outside and enjoy more of this incredible weather...) and this list of even more shows to binge this summer.

Sweat-Proof Hairstyles | I literally can't do more than four hairstyles to save my life...but I'm determined to learn a few more of these summer hairstyles to help beat the heat and keep my hair from drenching in sweat all summer long. Some of them look super simple!

My Favorite New Sunnies - for $29 | I posted a picture on Instagram the other day with my new favorite sunnies, and got so many questions about where they're from! You can shop all of my outfits right here, but these sunnies are too good not to share twice (plus, they're so cheap!)

The Next Big Thing | I absolutely loved Grace Vanderwaal's performance on America's Got Talent, and couldn't stop watching the original song she performed...so when I stumbled upon this on YouTube the other day, I got chills! She is AMAZING!

One Hotel Room, 13 Cities | Anyone who knows me knows that I have a strange obsession with all of the futuristic and cool technologies and ideas that pop up all over the internet...this one has me really excited. Elon Musk came up with a Hyperloop hotel that will let you travel between 13 cities in the U.S. through a portable hotel room. You have to see it to believe it! 

Summer Kebabs Grilling Recipe!

One of my absolute favorite things to whip up on the grill these days are pineapple kebabs (and really just anything involving grilled pineapple - it's so delicious!) 

While my pineapple-only kebabs were suiting me just fine, thank you very much, I realized that it would be so simple to add a little bit of flair to them and turn it into a main entree, rather than just a tasty side snack. 

I tried out a handful of recipes, and this one was hands down the winner. I loved that these weren't spicy at all (spicy is my enemy) but still have a really strong and delicious flavor to avoid any blandness. 

They couldn't be easier to make, and the refreshing pineapple and roasted veggies included make it the perfect summer grilling snack...not to mention it smells amazing while you cook. Our neighbors were definitely envious!

                                                                             Original Recipe via

Ingredients:
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 fresh pineapple, chopped into 1" cubes (I bought the pre-sliced! #lazy)
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1.5in. pieces
  • Wooden of metal skewers 
  • 1 green pepper, cut into 1.5in. pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion, cut into kebab-style chunks
  • 3-4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch (important for the texture!)
For the Chicken Marinade/Glaze:
  • 1/4 cup canned pineapple juice (NOT fresh!)
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cups sugar 
  • 3 tbsp. ketchup
  • 1 tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional - I left these out...too spicy!)
*Note - for the chicken to marinade properly, you should do some of the initial prep steps 1-4 hours before you actually want to grill and eat!*

Directions:
  • In a bowl, combine and whisk the glaze ingredients together. Add 1/4 of this mixture to a bag along with the chicken and 3 tbsp. of olive oil. Toss it gently to make sure it is evenly coated. Marinate in the fridge for 1-4 hours (the longer the better!). Put the rest of the glaze aside in a separate fridge container. 
  • Preheat grill to approx. 375 degress (medium-high heat)
  • Drain marinade from the chicken and thread the chicken, peppers, pineapple, and onions onto skewers (wooden or metal are fine!)
  • Add the extra marinade (set aside) in a small saucepan and add the 1/5 tbsp. of cornstarch. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer until slightly thickened. Set aside. 
  • Grease the grill (see my beginner grilling tips here!) and grill the kebabs for 8-10 minutes, rotating 1-2 times until they are evenly grilled on all sides. 
  • Brush kebabs with tangy glaze. 
Optional - serve with rice and a cilantro garnish for an extra touch, and add a little of the extra glaze. It's delicious!

(Even More) Books to Read This Summer!

Earlier last month, I shared my top picks for summer reading this year, but I've been reading more than ever lately and I wanted to pass along a few more favorites! I ended up finishing six books during our Week in Outer Banks.

With the weather finally being nice out, I've been trying to finish every evening during the work-week by spending some time out on our patio with a book in hand to decompress from every day. One of my best friends is a teacher, and she's been doing a lot of reading this summer too (and normally she's not a big fan!) so being able to give her my favorite recommendations have been so much fun. 

Be sure to check out the first list of books here, but in case you wanted even more, I've got five more reviews below!

PS - I don't like giving away actual plot details because I'm always afraid of spoiler alerts, and I don't think I can do a better job than the book descriptions themselves, so below you'll just find my reviews and recommendations, and if you click the book title it'll take you to an actual plot description/space for purchase!


Everything You Want Me to Be | This book had me really on the fence for the majority of it. Overall, I enjoyed it, and I wouldn't say it "wasn't worth the read". That being said, the beginning took a little while to get going, and even when there were major plot twists towards the end they just didn't have that "shock factor" you'd expect or want. It was still a good story, and a solid summer read, but overall I'd give it a 6/10.

The Wrong Side of Right | I finished this book in less than a day when I first arrived to the Outer Banks, and I really enjoyed it! It's definitely different than my usual reads, but I thought the plot idea was unique and interesting so I gave it a shot. This would be a great easy summer read by the pool or beach, and don't be fooled by the description - it's not an overly political book whatsoever. Somewhat similar to the movies First Daughter or Chasing Liberty!

Into The Water | I'm reviewing this book for the sole purpose that I felt fooled by it, and I was honestly so extremely disappointed. This is one of maybe 5 books that I've ever just outright not finished (even when I'm hating a book, I'm just too Type A usually to not complete it to the end). I picked this one up because it was the same author as Girl On the Train, and I was just so bored by the plot. There were way too many characters, and even about halfway through I just couldn't figure out why I should care about the plot! You've been warned...

The Real Real | A combination of the authors and the description were what really hooked me into buying this one for the trip. I could tell it would be such a light and easy beach read, and I really liked The Nanny Diaries, so I thought I'd give this one a shot. It wasn't groundbreaking or legendary in terms of writing talent or plot, but it was good and entertaining, and took me back to the days of watching Laguna Beach & The Hills. (And honestly, it had me re-thinking and questioning a lot of the scenes on those shows!) Overall, I'd recommend it for the summer!

Undecided | I was weirdly drawn in by this book, and it caught me off guard. It definitely has some racier scenes, but I liked the general concept of the plot and typically think college-themed books are pretty entertaining. I ended up liking the characters so much that I ended up reading the sequel immediately just to keep it going. By far the most "mindless summer beach read"on this list, but I think it was good!

Casual Summer Style + Sandals for $35!

If you take a look through my closet, it's definitely safe to say that I have some favorite go-to colors and styles. Recently, I've really started adding to my obsession with olive green, and I can't get enough of it! I love that it works year-round, and I've been finding so many incredible summer dresses, accessories and tops to help pull it off.

Typically when I'm shopping, I look for outfits that I can easily wear from work, to happy hour, or even to run errands in. This means casual but stylish, comfortable, and something that can be worn with dozens of different outfits. 


I couldn't resist when I found this gorgeous lightweight duster from Nordstrom for only $45, and I've been wearing it everywhere!



I have a tendency to get overheated even in the dead winter of Chicago, so I'm typically pretty cautious about anything that I'd get too hot in, but thankfully this was so lightweight and breezy that I've been able to throw it on for some of these hotter days we've been having with no problems!



I'm a big fan of dainty and neutral details that pair with anything and everything, and I have a tendency to wear the same few pieces over and over again because they're classic and have sentimental value. 

My favorite gold necklace has the coordinates of my house from college, and I wear it almost every single day. I scooped up this adorable cork clutch from J.Crew right before our trip to the Outer Banks, and it's been so perfect for date nights, casual brunches, and everything in between. I had my eye on it for a while last summer but didn't love the price tag, but now it's on sale for only $35 on the Factory website!



My gold sunglasses pair perfectly with all of my go-to gold accessories, and I grabbed these at & Other Stories while I was in New York, a new-to-me store that I've been loving ever since. Plus, they're only $29!



These Steve Madden sandals were an amazing find at Nordstrom Rack recently, and they come in a few other colors like black and gold, too! I love brown leather accessories in the summer, and these are such a comfortable pair to just throw on and head out the door. They didn't even have a breaking-in period at all, so I definitely recommend them!


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