August 2017 - Prep Essentials





College & Post-Grad

College & Post-Grad
College & Post-Grad

Romper Under $40!

Ahh. Guys, I love being tall, but I have spent years being jealous of all of the cute rompers that my friends can seemingly just throw on and have a complete outfit with ease. 

Between my long legs and even longer torso (again, not complaining, I swear!) I have never once ever tried on a romper that remotely fit me...until now. Seriously, trying them on in stores was such a discouraging experience that I started to hate it more than jean shopping (until I found these beauties!)

Romper (c/o) | Sandals | Sunglasses | Necklace (c/o) | Earrings (c/o)

I fell in love with this pretty spring/summer floral romper as soon as I saw it. The flowy shape of it and the cute bow on the side were details I just couldn't ignore...but I did hold my breath while I waited for it in the mail, trying not to get my hopes up about yet another failed romper try-on experience. 

I was honestly so surprised when I tried it on and it fit that I assumed I must have had too much wine that night, and would re-visit it the next day! Clearly I had lost faith in these little garments. 

Now I've been wearing it in total excess, to everything from Dalton's birthday dinner to Sunday strolls around Lincoln Park! The colors are so pretty and light, and the flowy style keeps me from getting to hot while walking around on these hotter summer days. 

I only wish I'd had this in the Spring! I paired it with my favorite brown block heel sandals and loved the way it pulled the look together. 

Right around the same time I got the romper, I received this beautiful necklace from Grace + Hudson, a new local Chicago jewelry retailer with the prettiest pieces! I think it would be so great for wedding/bridesmaid season or even as a gift. 

The necklaces and earrings come in so many different colors, and they're dainty enough to really work well with any outfit. I loved the way the blues and greens in the romper matched mine!

Grace + Hudson also donates a portion of every sale to charity, and I think her story is crazy badass. She went from being a lawyer to a jewelry designer! You can read more about her story right here

If you happen to bump into me in Chicago between now and fall weather, there is a high chance you'll be seeing me in this exact outfit ;)

 Romper (c/o) | Sandals | Sunglasses | Necklace (c/o) | Earrings (c/o)

Essentials of the Week!

This was one of those absolutely incredible weeks where nothing special happened, but everything just felt good. Things felt like they were clicking into place, I felt on top of my routine and fitness/eating habits, and overall I just felt so content. 

This isn't to say I've been unhappy lately, but this was the first week I've had in a long time where it just felt like everything was exactly as it was supposed to be...and I can't even begin to describe how good that felt. I legitimately had several "pinch me" moments this week when I'd randomly reflect on how at ease I felt with how my life has been going, and I realized that despite the occasional hiccup here or there, things are just really, really, good!

I hope some (or all) of you have been feeling that way lately, too! If not, maybe take a few minutes on Sunday to take note of which things feel off, and set some small goals to get them back on course. That's what I did a few weeks ago, and I am here to tell you - it pays off!

Here's to more amazing days over the weekend, and my essentials from this week!

1. Living Big in Small Spaces | Ever since I discovered this amazing Instagram account last year, I've become weirdly in love with seeing the insane ways people convert old buses into full-blown homes that are, frankly, nicer than my city apartment. Sometimes I wonder if they've got life way more figured out...this renovation is one of the best ones I've ever seen!

2. Finding Some "Me" Time | I've always placed a huge priority on carving out a few days or nights a week where I focus solely on myself and do activities alone...and I loved this list of ideas for fun (Non-Netflix) ways to spend alone time! Definitely going to add some of these into my schedule for next week. 

3. Jeans You NEED In Your Life | I am so in love with every single detail of these jeans...I have never once branched out with jeans, and besides swapping out the colors it has always been something I covet from afar and don't pay attention to. I am absolutely adding these to the wish list, though!

4. The Best Fashion Advice I've Read Lately | I'm probably the world's biggest advocate of "lazy" fashion. I love great clothes and style, but I also love to hit snooze until ten minutes before I walk out the door. Finding and stocking your closet with these "lazy essentials" will have you looking polished, put together, and...well rested ;)

5. How to Keep Your Jeans Lasting a Lifetime | I spent years trying to find the perfect pair of jeans...and now my new focus is making sure they stay in good condition. These tips are definitely going to come in handy!


End of Summer Bucket List!

Whether or not the weather will acknowledge it or not, to me summer is always coming to an end once August rolls around. It might be an unpopular opinion among some, but I absolutely love fall and could live in it year round, if there were such a place!

The official end of summer isn't until the third week of September, but believe it or not, friends...that is only 6 weeks away!!

That's six more weeks to squeeze in all of your favorite summer activities and events, soak up as much sun and sand as possible, and spend every possible moment outdoors. Just because I love the fall doesn't mean I don't appreciate summer, too! 

I've been so busy running around this summer that I've neglected a lot of my all-time favorite activities that I normally enjoy this time of year, so I wanted to pull together a bucket list to help myself (and all of you) make the most of these last six weeks of summer!

What would you put on the list?! Add it to the comments below!

Make Homemade Fruit Popsicles

Grill a Meal Outside

Visit a Farmer's Market

Attend an Outdoor Concert

Have a Picnic in the Park

Ride Bikes

Go to the Beach/Lakeshore

Find a Drive-In Movie Theater (Or a Movie in the Park!)


Go Swimming 

Walk to Get Late Night Ice Cream

Spend Hours Reading Outside

Find a Fun Hiking Spot

Pick Strawberries (or Lavender, or whatever grows in your area!)

Go to a Local Baseball Game

Make Fresh Squeezed Lemonade (Try a fun flavor like Raspberry Lemonade!)

Lunch from a Food Truck

Make S'mores (preferably with a campfire!)

Shop End of Summer Sales


Post-Grad Essentials: Decorating (Like Pinterest) on a Budget!

Having older siblings and a mother who was an interior decorator definitely taught me at an early age that decorating and furnishing a home or apartment is one of the most expensive endeavors you'll ever take on...but that doesn't mean it has to be right out of the gate!

I touched on the topic a bit last week trying to help you determine which pieces are best to invest in, and which are great for finding a cheap and flimsy option to get you by for the first few years of post-grad life - so if you aren't sure about those aspects, definitely check out that post right here, too!

I definitely wanted to elaborate a little bit more on where you can find the best affordable options for every type of item, though, to help those of you who aren't sure where to look. Just because you're on a budget doesn't mean you can't have a space that you absolutely love - and you should have a space that you love and that makes you happy! 

This is your home now, and it's not like a dorm room or an off-campus house. When you come home from a long day at work, you want to be able to feel relaxed, calm and content. I'm sharing all of my favorite places, stores and websites to get anything and everything home decor-related to help you create your Pinterest-worthy space!

For Smaller Decor Items, Pillows, Throws, & Wall Art...

Minted | This is hands down the first and foremost place that I recommend to people looking for new art prints - especially if you're trying to build a gallery wall. Price points can absolutely vary from incredibly affordable to insanely expensive, but that's also what I love about it! There is something for everyone. The prices also shift depending on size and frame that you choose, but you can select from tons of different frame options and really customize it to fit the exact look you were hoping for. They have different categories and search filters, so whether you want photography, drawings, paintings, graphic designs...they're all there! 

Homegoods | This store doesn't have an online shop unfortunately, but there's a very solid chance there is one in your area! You can honestly find everything here. Blankets, pillows, wall accents, coffee table pieces, candles, hampers, and even some great furniture, bedding or linens! This is a one-stop-shop type of place. The downsides are really that every single store has different inventory, you never know what you're going to find, and every location is different - but that's also what makes it so great! You can find such unique and great pieces every time you shop. You can search for a location near you here.

Society6 | A hidden gem find that I stumbled across shortly after I graduated, this is my go-to for throw pillows and a few other smaller items. They have so many different options, and I always think that throw pillows are an easy thing to change out and make a room feel totally refreshed and new.

For Furniture & Bigger Items...

Overstock | I recently found a gorgeous new headboard here for so cheap, and it was so easy to find that I was honestly frustrated...because I had spent the last two years looking everywhere I could possibly think of! Now I know to check here for bigger items like this in the future when I'm on a tight budget.

Roomplace | Okay, I apologize because this one is really for the Illinois/Indiana and surrounding area, but it is too good not to share. This is how I found an amazing sectional couch that was incredibly comfortable and soft, and about $750 discounted. If you happen to live within their range, ordering online is easy or you can check to see if they're nearby!

Ikea | Probably the most obvious on this list, but not to be overlooked! I bought all my of my bedroom furniture here in my junior year of college, and with careful care and very careful moving, I'm still using them! You can get tons of great essentials here too, and pretty much everything in between. If you have a store somewhat nearby I recommend getting a big car and heading there to avoid shipping fees, but you can order online, too!

World Market | I definitely recommend using the search filters to find items within your budget on this site, because they do cover the whole spectrum...but they also have a little bit of everything! Furniture, smaller decor, pillows and blankets, and lights - you're going to be able to find it all here! I've been coveting this bar cart for a while but haven't been able to justify it just yet!

For the Essentials...

Target | As if anyone needs another excuse to head to Target (aka heaven), they really do have such an unbelievable selection of home decor. Like Homegoods, they're going to have everything and anything that you need, from start to finish. Admittedly, sometimes the random piece here or there may be pricey, but if you're not overly picky you can absolutely decorate an entire space with this store alone. So many pieces in my apartment are from Target! It's also great for the essentials, like shower curtains, bath mats, toilet scrubbers, kitchenware, etc. 

Bed Bath & Beyond | Another obvious but great option for everything in between. I have one down the street from me, and anytime I'm missing something simple like a lightbulb, a surge protector, or something easy for the bathroom like a trash can, I head here. I force myself to avoid the kitchen section, as it's filled with all of the amazing and time-saving gadgets any chef could dream of, but every once in a while I let myself pick out something small to make meal prep and cooking a little bit easier!

TJ Maxx | I didn't discover the magic of this store until I was in college and every person I knew who had grown up in Ohio swore by this I see why! Similar to HomeGoods and World Market, they've got a little bit of everything, and I've found some amazing little decor finds here, too! We just picked out some succulent plants to hang on our patio here and they really pulled the space together. 

Essentials of the Week!

I'm writing this in a pretty great mood right now because my weekend started early this week! I took the day off of work tomorrow because for Dalton's birthday we got tickets to the Cubs game. I might be the worst Chicagoan ever...I've lived here 2.5 years (3 summers, total) and I have only been to one. single. Cubs game.

Don't get me wrong, of course I watched the entire World Series and a lot of last season along with the rest of the city, but I never actually go to the games! Hopefully now that Dalton is here I'll be making more appearances at them, and I can't wait for tomorrow!

On top of that, this week has been possibly my worst of 2017 so far in terms of staying on routine. I repeatedly skipped/missed work out classes, haven't been sleeping great, and really have fallen off track with some of my healthy eating. Today was day one to get back on track though!

Does anyone else just have those weeks where you can't seem to stay on top of it for even one single day?!

Here are my essentials from this crazy week!

A snap from our brunch last weekend because I'm already plotting what I'll order there before the game tomorrow! #GuiltyPleasures

1. The Greatest News to Hit Dessert Menus Everywhere | It took me a little while to get on the Macaron train like everyone else a few years back, but man I am on it now, and these look seriously unreal. Now I just need to figure out where I can try one!

2. All of the Warm & Fuzzies | I am a HUGE fan of short films, especially the Pixar ones. This one isn't Pixar, but it may as well be. I couldn't take my eyes off of it, and was so visibly expressing my emotions while I watched that Dalton kept asking me what on Earth I was looking at that had me smiling so big. If you watch one thing this week, make it this, please. 

3. Oversized & Just Right for Fall | I've always been a fan of my little trusty cropped jean jacket, but this oversized one has me seriously wishing I could justify buying both. (Having 2 jean jackets just seems silly, no?) I would love to pair this with so many fall oversized sweaters or fun dresses.

4. If You're In the Mood for Happy Tears | Confession - I have never once ever cried, happy or sad, from a movie or video. Or a book, or a song. Maybe I have a heart of stone? Marley & Me came very close, I swear. This video had a good run for it, too...these vows are insanely adorable and this video is so well done! *Cue me bookmarking the name of the video team for 200 years from now when I need it*


Back to School Tote Bags!

Earlier this week I shared some of my favorite backpacks & bags that I'm loving for back to school and even for taking to work (it's just SO much easier on your shoulders!)

However, even I have to admit that the majority of the time I'm still sticking to my trusty favorite tote every day to and from work & the gym, so I wanted to be sure to round up and share all of my favorite options there, too!

My go-to throughout college all four years was my trusty Lonchamp bag, and I still use it to this day on occasion. They definitely can handle the wear and tear of several years...but these days I carry my favorite Madewell tote every day to and from work, and I love it! 


Super Affordable Dorm & Apartment Decor I'm Loving!

I always think the changing seasons are the perfect time to change up a few decor details and really refresh a room, but that is especially true for anyone who is moving off to college or decorating their first apartment or home!

These items on sale have all caught my eye this past week, and I was so excited when I saw they'd been re-stocked!

I shared a ton of my tips for people who are decorating their first apartment post-grad on the blog earlier this week, but sales like this are exactly the type of thing you want to take advantage of when you can! Home decor can be so pricey, and it doesn't need to be at all.

For smaller items like throw pillows, throw blankets, and candles, it's just not necessary to spend a ton of cash to make things Pinterest-worthy! All of these picks would pull a room together perfectly, without breaking the bank.


Stock Up On the Best Shoes for Fall - On Sale!

Shoes are something I really didn't get very interested in until I graduated college, and I wish I had loved them sooner! In college, I always threw on the same two pairs of whatever felt comfortable walking around in, because I didn't realize how many cute pairs could also be so comfortable!

With all of the walking I do throughout the city, finding different pairs that don't hurt my feet or give me blisters has become a huge priority for me - and I also need them to be long-lasting and high quality so I'm not having to throw them out at the end of each season!

This is where price comes in...I think price is the main reason I wasn't super in love with shoes in college. Who can afford to drop $150 on a single clothing item? Not me. 

That's why these sale prices have me totally swooning guys. I mean...these booties right here are AMAZING and so cheap! I rounded up all of the re-stocks, the ones with almost every size still available, and most of them come in multiple colors!

Here are the shoes I'm obsessing over (and have bought for myself) for this fall:


Back to School: Backpacks and Bags

One of the things I felt I always stood out with in college was that I absolutely never utilized a backpack. No matter how many heavy books or my laptop I was lugging around, I could always be found with my go-to trusty tote.

Not much has changed in this area, and I still use my tote every day for work, but I do regret not giving my shoulders and back muscles a lighter load to carry when I was walking around campus...and if I had taken the time to explore backpack options that were cute and functional, it might have been a different story!

With August officially upon us, many of you are heading back to school or even grad school in these next few weeks, so I wanted to gather up all of the best backpack and bag options - ranging from more stylish to more functional, and everything in between!

All you have to do is click on the image of an item to shop it!

If, like me, you're a bigger fan of a large tote option that will still provide style while simultaneously hold together everything you need to carry with you, I found some really incredible options there, too!