Chi-Town Here I Come

Chicago Chicago Chicago

As you read this I'm likely en route to my favorite place in the whole wide world. 

Chicago, Illinois.

There are many reasons for my trip but I'm mostly excited to just go home. See my family. Sit at my kitchen counter. Hug my parents. Sleep under the same roof as my sisters. Drink wine. Eat my parent's cooking. And just feel homey. It's the best feeling in the world.

But, while I am there, I do have a few 9,000 things to accomplish. Most notably:
  • Try on wedding dresses (4 appointments!)
  • Visit the ceremony location
  • Tour the guest rooms
  • Show Joel the ceremony location
  • And the rehearsal dinner spot
  • Hire a stationer (3 appointments)
  • Hire a band
  • Meet my new cousin Jack
  • Meet my new cousin Evelyn
  • Attend a bachelorette party
  • Attend my cousin Cole's wedding
  • Say goodbye to my sister Hannah who leaves to work for Spain next Monday
  • Brunch with Claire
  • Decide on my engagement photo-shoot outfits
  • Attend 2 family dinners
  • Have breakfast with my Grandparents

Oh - and maybe get some sleep.


Weekend Report

 We had one of those weekends that every once and a while we just crave.

Which, unfortunately for you, may make this post quite boring.

Friday night we ordered in our favorite pizza, opened up a bottle of Joel's birthday wine, sat on the patio and just listened to music. Our neighbor's probably hate us, but we are still in love with our extra big outside area.

Saturday morning we got in a 7 mile hike in the Pacific Palisades. The best part of hiking for me is finishing. Like with any exercise really, but I just feel so accomplished. I mean, hiking 7 miles in the mountains is no easy task - and I can look in the mirror and see my sunburn (!), stained hat, and soaking wet t-shirt and know that I did something - something hard.

Plus, we always follow it with a yummy and sometimes healthy lunch. After this one, we ended up at The Curious Palate in Santa Monica. I had their chicken wrap with gruyere cheese, roasted red peppers, and chipotle aioli (said no to fries. nbd.) and we each had a locally brewed beer - it was perfect.

And that night we finally tested out our new grill. And again, played music all night long.
....The mood was just perfectly set to get into the fall mode so we picked up some some pumpkin candles and an October Fest brewed beer.
Joel grilled an amazing salmon that we marinated with Trader Joe's Soyaki and we served it atop Israeli Cous-Cous.  Seriously amazing - and dare I say - we had more fun than if we had dolled up and went out to a fancy restaurant.
Sunday we fit in another hike with my friend Shelby - and then lounged. all. day. long.


I leave for Chicago on Tuesday and I have a lot to get done in the next 12 hours - so this weekend was just what the doc ordered.


Sometimes, What Makes Me Happy is...

 ...Blue hydrangea's
...Finding a shirt at Target for $20 bucks.

...Knowing that I get to go home next week
...An eyebrow wax

...Positive quotes

...Lots and lots of oysters

...A weekend with no plans

...My idealistic version of fall

...Ticket's to LA's Fashion's Night Out

...A freshly brushed puppy

...And sparkly dresses


E-List Celebs and few Other Non Connected Thoughts

-Since Joel's birthday sort of dominated this weeks posts, I forgot to tell you a hilarious story that went down last Thursday night in Beverly Hills. My bestie Sara was visiting from Chicago and Joel and I decided to take her to dinner at Villa Blanca. It's such a beautiful restaurant and the food is impressively good - so it really has earned  its way on to the short list of our favorite restaurants (LA version).

Plus, it's a likely place to see celebs, so it's a win-win for people who are visiting out. Instantly Sara spotted Duff from Ace of Cakes (who was wearing a cupcake sweatshirt), but the real shocker was our waiter.
Did you watch Real Housewives of Beverly Hills? If not, go on to the next bullet. If you did - our waiter was Jason. As in Pandora's Jason. As in Lisa Vanderpumps, daughter's, husband.

We weren't sure what to make of it - but he was beyond sweet and attentive, and we decided to not bring up the fact that we knew he was "the" Jason. We didn't want to let up our "cool" factor, and I honestly thought it would have embarrassed him, although we couldn't have been the first.

And he asked us if we wanted to try the "Pandora's Salad" which inwardly made me die.
 *also, after some snooping he got his Master's at Pepperdine and is listed as "manager of Villa Blanca on his Linkedin Page*

-Our engagement photo's are scheduled for Saturday, September 8th. Right now I'm focusing on my outfits and I decided to splurge on my very first DVF wrap dress. I'm still on the hunt for my casual look but I'm for a California beachy theme and have been looking for the perfect crocheted blouse that costs under $200 bucks.

-I leave for Chicago next Tuesday. I'm equal parts excited and anxious. I have jam (x3452452) packed days and all I really want to do is stay at my house in Crystal Lake, walk around the neighborhood and visit with my cousins and friends.

-Joel and I dined at Katsuya in Brentwood on Tuesday night for his birthday and we finally blown away by sushi out here. I started the night with their famous Burning Mandarin martini - and damn is it good. Literally everything we had was amazing. It's a scene-y place, so you pay scene-y prices (like $80/pp), but it's definitely going to be on my favorite rotation of spots.

-Want to be totally grossed out? My sister moved in to her sorority house down at University of Kentucky and had a total sorority girl emergency.

She stepped on a curling iron.

It's actually not quite funny because she did have to go to the ER to get it drained and  wrapped, but she's mainly bummed that she can't wear heels for a little bit. So - she will make it!

 And this week's reminder, and for those of you in the know, a powerful one for me and my family...


Wedding Wednesday Part II: TheKnot.com

Remember when I told you that TheKnot.com had asked me to be a weekly contributor to their blog? Well - my second post is up and at um - and I think beg you should go check it out.

Here's a sneak peak of what I'm rambling about...

After the honeymoon period of being engaged ended, and my hand went back to feeling normal, Joel and I decided to have the dreaded money talk.

We dated for five years before getting engaged and lived together for a little over two. When Joel accepted his current job here in Los Angeles, we packed up our apartment in California and started making some legitimate “together” purchases – like hiring a moving company for a mere four thousand bucks. We were no strangers to dealing with “together” money.

To read more, click here

Wedding Wednesday: Checklist

I was planning on linking all of you readers to my second post for blog.theknot.com - but it hasn't gone live yet, so that plan will have to wait until later this week.

In lieu of that I've decided to show you my progress of planning so far. Style Me Swanky posted her check-list and I'm going to use the same for now. I'm sure as the date inches closer, certain things will be added and removed - but for now, it's a good base point.

And a reminder that I've got a lot of things to do.

Set a date
Book venue
Book photographer We've hired our engagement photographer
Book videographer Not sure if we will hire one
Book band - In the process, hopefully 2 weeks away!
Ask bridal party to be in wedding
Book caterer & bar
Create wedding website
Book florist
Buy wedding dress Plan to next week
Book ceremony musician Same as band
Book rentals
Take engagement pictures September 8th!!
Select bridesmaid dresses
Select and order groom & groomsmen attire
Purchase veil and accessories for dress
Book cake baker
Hire coordinator Only hiring a Day Of coordinator
Buy cake knife & server
Order save the dates   
Finalize guest list    
Send save the dates 
Book officiant  
Pre-marital counseling
Order guest book
Hotel room blocks Need to add 1 additional hotel
Hire a calligrapher
MOB & MOG dress shopping
Find wedding shoes
Find wedding jewelry
                Find garter  
Book makeup artist & hair stylist 
Menu tasting
Take bridal portraits / hair & make up trial
1st dress fitting
2nd dress fitting
Order ceremony programs
Order invitations
Mail invitations
Book rehearsal dinner venue  Almost love it more than the actual reception! Almost.
  Rehearsal Dinner music/activities
Buy Rehearsal Dinner dress
Transportation for Rehearsal Dinner bridal party   
Buy bridal party gifts
Bachelorette party
Bachelor party
Bridal showers
Purchase wedding bands
Put together picture list for photographer
Get marriage license
Order wedding favors
Book transportation from reception to hotel
Book honeymoon 
Honeymoon shopping
Gift for Groom
Rehearsal Dinner  invitations
Music selections to band and ceremony artist
Book wedding night hotel room
Order thank you notes
 Walk down the aisle & say I do!
I'm going to plan on checking in on this checklist at least monthy to keep track of the progress I'm making - but getting married ain't no easy task!

Vegas, anyone?


detox tea time


After a weekend filled with fries, wine, lobster rolls, and the best chocolate bread pudding I've ever had - I need a few days of detoxing (probably more like a month but I don't have that kind of discipline).

The problem with detoxing is that I get so damn hungry.

My girlfriend Dawn turned me on to this Hunger-Curbing, Metabolism Boosting Tea and I had to give it a try. 

She'll give you all the goods, but if you don't want to watch the video - here's what you need: 

a. 1 lemon, 4 shakes of caynee pepper, 4 shakes of cinnamon 

b. a coffee mug that matches your outfit

c. and a large spoon to constantly mix up the concoction

The tea tastes a little weird but it's not horrible. It reminded me of Mexican Hot Chocolate but tasted more like Mexican Apple Cider. If you can get over the interesting-ness of it it'll be worth it. When I tried this tea yesterday around 3, I had eaten an early, light lunch and  fit in a gym session so I was pretty close to starving. I would have rather had a bagel with cream cheese but this cup of tea actually had me full almost three hours later. 

If you I can get this bad boy to replace a morning or afternoon snack, I would imagine it could really help shave off a few pounds.


Also....on a totally unrelated note...

It's my fiance's actual birthday today! It's our first birthday together as an engaged couple - and it's really weird to think next year we'll be celebrating as husband and wife! Tonight we are ringing in the new year with just the two of us. We're stopping at a wine store in Brentwood to take advantage of a 25% discount on your birthday and then having dinner at the ever famous Katsuya afterwards. I love a fancy date night on a Tuesday!

But in a reality, I really just wanted to say happy birthday Joely - Roscoe and I love you more than you'll ever know!


Wine Tasting Party

Friday night we rang in Joel's quarter century birthday with friends, music, and lots and lots of wine.

We even had a special visitor come in from Chicago who helped Joel have a little piece of our favorite city on his big day - and helped me throw this whole thing off.

My bestie and bridesmaid
And - she came bearing really smart gifts for him.

Stuff Every Husband Should Know

I didn't want the house to look like I was having a party for a six year old boy, so I only added a few nautical and fun decorations - mainly from Target.

dog not included.

I was a little worried about the main activity of the party - the wine tasting - but it ended up being a huge hit.

I numbered lunch bags from 1-20 before everyone arrived and each bag had a corresponding dixie cup to hold the votes.

When the guests walked in, I placed their bottle in a randomly numbered bag and placed on the tasting table. Once everyone arrived Joel ran through the directions (rate the wines 1-10 and place your vote in the correct dixie cup).

It took us about an hour to get through all eight bottles of wine and then Joel and Sara took the cups away and figured out the winning -and losing bottles.


The winner won a bottle of Moet - while the losers were lucky enough 
to take home some two buck chuck.

Everyone got super into it and it reallllly got the party going.  

It was basically the adult version of taking shots for an hour straight. 

And - it made for a very, very toasted happy birthday boy.


Party Preview

Tomorrow is the big 25 party for Joel and I've been busy getting all of the details ready.


1. Inspired by this image from Pintrest:
Nautical Party
We are going for a nautical wine tasting theme and adding life savors to the plastic ware was such a cute and easy way to carry out the theme

2. We stocked up on lots and lots of wine and champagne - and Joel still doesn't think it's enough.

3. Everyone that was invited was asked to bring wine. As soon as they come inside the apartment I'm going to put their name on their bottle label and put it into a randomly number brown paper bag. The whole party is going to rate each one on a scale of 1-5. Which ever wine get the highest score will receive a fancy bottle of champs. The loser gets some yummy white-zin two buck chuck.

4. And, even more exciting that the first 3 points, one of my best friends arrived in California last night and is here to spend the weekend with us! Let the celebrations begin!


Wedding Wednesday: Let's Boogey

So far the hardest part of wedding plan has been deciding on the music. The most essential part to having a good time at any wedding is the tunes – right? And for my wedding, all I know is that I want to be on the dance floor the entire time. 
 Wedding music ideas
My parents are both music fans and they’ve decided that they really want a band. I’ve never been to a wedding where a band has played – only djs – but after all of my research, I think this is one of the parts of my wedding that I’m the most excited for. It’s such a statement and if I find the right band, they should have the entire room on their feet. 

The problem is it’s been hard and to find a good band that isn’t atrociously priced. 

Plus, band guys are super talky and have huge egos. For instance I talked to one guy who quoted me $28,000 to perform at my wedding. And requires to be served the meals that I’ll be serving my guests.

 And no his name was not John Mayer – because JESUS – it friggen should have been. 

It’s been a lot of research, phone calls, emails, and forms and I’m starting to get a little nervous. Bands book up super-fast and at the moment, I only have one actual contender who has a playlist I approve and a fee that my father sort of approves.

 Wedding music

If you know any good bands in the Chicago/Wisconsin area I’d love recommendations! And brides, how did you pick your music? Dj? Band? Ipod? What are good things to know?


Put it in Neutral


Maybe it’s the California heat wave or the start of a brand new school year that is looming or maybe the combination of both has me itching to stock up on fresh, crisp, neutral basics.

The classic pairing of whites, tans, and camels has a way of turning any outfit into a chic ensemble. Plus, it pairs perfectly with all of the gold jewelry I’ve been obsessed with lately.


The only caveat about whites, is that quality really matters. More than any color in my closet, whites can easily look cheap - even when theyre not. I try to find pieces that include nice fabrics. White ployester just isn't going to work. Also, egg shell white can be tricky with my coloring, so I tend to buy pieces that are a little warmer.

I’m trying to stock up on all of these timeless pieces that will so easily transition me into my first SoCal fall.

One. Jcrew Two. DVF Three.L'Agence Four. Karen Walker Five. Stella McCartney Six. Hermes