Getting the house ready for vistors

I love to host people at my house.

Growing up, my parents were constantly hosting people. Every Sunday night we had at least 15 people over for a big family dinner. They held holiday parties in our living room and BBQ's outside over summer. In fact, every time I think of home, I envision a full house, with lots of food and drinks being had, music blaring, and friends and family milling about. It's what I want my future to be for my kids too.

But, back to the present moment. My cousin and her boyfriend Andrew are my next set of visitor's to come stay with us, and they arrive tonight!

Whenever I have people coming to stay with us, I try to make the house, and their stay, as comfortable as possible.

Here are a few of the "musts" that I need to make sure are done before I have out of town visitors. And, in all honesty, it was my intention to show you MY clean house or stocked fridge, however.....these things have yet to be done as of this morning, so Pintrest to the rescue.

A Clean House
Stocked Toiletries

Fresh Flowers

Loaded Bar and Fridge

And maybe even a nice welcome basket if the guest is really, extra special  
(like my cousin Amanda is....) 

Do you add any other special touches when you have people staying in your home?


10 things....


10 things I've learned from moving far, far away from home:

1. It's easier to do it with someone: I give major props to anyone who moves across the state, country, or world by themselves. Having Joel as a built in friend in California allowed me an enormous safety net. I knew if I didn't meet anyone that I liked, I'd still be able to have him. I knew I'd never be truly alone.

2. You become more "you": I have no one out here that I need to please. I get to decide what I like to do, when I'd like to do it, and who I'd like to do it with. There are so many less commitments that I need to fulfill that I find myself only doing things that I want to do. It's a very freeing experience. It's a selfish experience, and one that I'm enjoying.
3. An unlimited cell phone plan is necessary: I spend an obnoxious amount of time on the phone. Luckily I spend an obnoxious amount of time in the car which has turned into an ideal time to catch up with all of Chicago.

4. You spend a lot of money: LA is far more expensive than Chicago and "saving" has becoming increasingly harder to accomplish. Also, the shopping out here is just so freaking tempting.

5. You become much less afraid of flying: With flying home to visit my family and spending a lot of time traveling, I've been on a plane at least once a month for the last 6 months. With that, I've become more comfortable with being in the air.

6. You become more content: I've learned that you really have no idea where the future is going to take you. As a control freak, this a light-bulb moment/revelation for me. I'm learning to live more in the moment, appreciate this time in the here and now, and not fret about the unknown.

Happiness where you are. 

7. You spend more time trying new things: For us, this means a lot of new restaurants and wines, but we're also exploring new cities, meeting new friends, and working at new jobs. All of the new things we throw ourselves into are making us better adults.

8. Certain things have to give: With all of the good that has come from the move, things have had to give a little as well. Like our favorite sushi spot that has yet to be replaced, or the fact that we have to find all new doctors. The breakfasts that I won't be able to share with my grandparents and the idea that I won't be able to make it to all of my cousins birthday parties or baby showers. Or that I won't be home to grill out on Father's Day with my Dad. The fact that I haven't met my cousin's baby.  There are a lot of sacrifices that come with being across the country.

9. Your stories get better: I like knowing that when I have kids one day, I'll get to let them know that I left my bubble and explored the world.

10. You find out who and what really matters.

'Not all those who wander are lost' is a line borrowed from a poem by J. R. R. Tolkien.


sister, sister!

Two hours ago I dropped off my sisters at LAX and bid farewell after a seriously amazing weekend. I no longer have a voice, I've gained probably 6 pounds, and I need to not drink alcohol until at least Thursday - but it was worth every second. I'm absolutely exhausted and feel a little too lazy to plug in my real camera, so for now, my iphone will have to tell the story.

They got in early on Thursday morning and to my surprise, came bearing gifts.
some new yurman bling
After lunch with Joel in Beverly Hills, and having their first celeb sighting - Mitchell from Modern Family - we came back to the apartment for a little pregame before a festive Mexican dinner in downtown Westwood.

Friday was a full day spent in Venice, shopping, beaching, and taking in the crazy sights. Friday night we went to the Laugh Factory and sat front row.

Little did we know, we had a full house of celebrity comedians - with the headliner being Dane Cook. The whole night was so funny that I literally had sore cheeks on Saturday morning. 

photoshoot before the comedy club
We spent Saturday visiting Santa Monica, having pizza and wine at our house for dinner and then ventured to a sketchy BYOB karaoke joint in West LA. As janky as it was, it was a freaking blast. We had a great group of people in our private room and we sang the entire night (i.e. why I still have no voice).
Have a few drinks at The W Hotel
Sunday we were in Malibu at Paradise Cove and ended the night at a friend's BBQ where we got in trouble  by the neighbors for having too much fun during Catch Phrase...

By Monday we were beat and so we headed back to Santa Monica to do a little shopping and sun bathing. After some sushi we all fell into bed by 11. 

It was the first weekend I can remember where it was just three of us - sans parents. It was nice to have that much time to hang out with them....to really just enjoy spending time with each other. 


Color Her Crazy

I know it's summer and all, but this excessive amount of neon is just out of control (all the way down to the silvery Toms).

And unfortunately this offense is awarded to the normally impeccably well dressed Ms. Alba.

Maybe she should take a page out of Gwyn's book and stick with white - which is as equally as summery - and far more chic.



kendra scott earrings
I finally got my pretty paws on a turquoise pair courtesy of my best friend Claire. The girl knows me well. In fact, I'm wearing them as I type! They paired perfectly with my orange dress for the wedding in Florida, and I've already envisioned about 47 outfits I plan to wear them with,

coffee bean cafe vanilla
Strangely enough, LA isn't as populated with the ever famous Starbucks like most big cities (and small ones really) in the country. Here - as you most likely know if you read US Weekly - we roll with Coffee Bean. And, I can honestly say that I understand why. The coffee bean by my house is like our "The Max". People hang out at the fire pit until the wee hours of the morning sippin' on the goodies. I'm personally obsessed with the Cafe Vanilla and have been treating myself to it on the regular.


This is my favorite store to stock up at. The selection can be small depending on which store you visit but it's worth squeezing in and out of aisles to try on the goods. I normally end up having to try on about twenty items before I go home with a few winners, but all of the clothes I've ever bought from francesca's fit well, look good, and have held up through multiple wears. I'm itching to pick up these pretties soon.

patio furniture
I have my sisters coming into town tomorrow, then my cousins next weekend, and then Joel's parents in July, and I'd like for our patio to be an extension of the house for myself and for them. Even though it's last night (my sisters arrive tomorrow) I'm hoping I'm going to be able to stock up at World Market. And I'm pretty sure it was serendipity since I received a 10% off coupon in my inbox this morning. 

trader joe's

I'm late to the punch here, but TJ's is honestly where it's at. It's cheap, friendly, and stocked full of delicious goodies. I didn't shop there before because I was being a brand whore. They don't carry "la croix" or "helmann's", but when I got over that, I learned to appreciate the lack of brand names - mainly because you don't pay for them!

bond girl by erin duffy
Since wrapping up 50 Shades, it's been really hard to find a book that has been able to keep my attention - but I finally found one. Bond Girl is the perfect read for a twenty something in the big, bad, business world. It's a little  like The Devil Wears Prada but the character is really relate-able and the stories in the book have had me actually "lol-ing".

Okay, time to get lots of errands done (including my job, which is basically a chore) before Hannie and Nellie arrive!!! Have a great hump day....a long weekend is looming in the future!

p.s. this is my 500th post!


weekend getaway

 I’m sneaking away from my desk to give you a little update on our quick jet set to Jupiter, Florida.

We woke up early on Saturday and dropped off our furbaby with friends and headed to the airport. Plane rides are made much more enjoyable with mimosa’s and a good read.
We arrived to a beautiful view from our room and got the party started.

After breakfast on the ocean we lounged by the pool and swam in the warrrrm ocean water before watching our two dear friends tie the knot.

It was so nice to be surrounded my friends and have a carefree weekend.

Now, it’s back to the grind before my sisters arrive on Thursday morning!


from coast to coast

Tomorrow morning Joel and I are taking a morning Virgin flight to Florida. One of Joel's best friends from high school is getting married in Jupiter, Florida and we are heading to the opposite side of the country for a brief, but much anticipated reunion.

To be quite honest, I'm not super excited to be heading out of town for a mere 42 hours, but Joel is a groomsman, and we love Kaci and Chris and cannot wait to watch them get married - I just wish they were getting married here in Cali.

However, I do love hotels, suitcases, and a good excuse for some shopping!

I'm only bringing a carry on, and here's a sneak peak and at a few of the pins I used to inspire my weekend getaway wardrobe.

How how I love that DVF maxi dress
 We'll be back on Tuesday with a full report! Until then, I'm taking advantage of this mini vacay and fully indulging in all things possible at our resort in Florida. Hello mimosa's, massages, and room service - my name is Tess!


My California Closet

Where do you turn to decide what you are going to wear every morning? If you are anything like me, your largest source of inspiration comes from Pintrest.

I decided this week to take a few of my favorite fashion images and try to recreate them with everything I already owned in my closet.

I never would have paired a beige shirt with white pants and neutral shoes, but I ended up loving the combination and actually got a lot of compliments.

I'm going to try and keep this up since it's a great way to get good use of all of my clothes in my closet and try combination that I haven't tried before.


this week's favorites

The Cardio Barre class was a hit! It's a really fast paced class with loud, fun music and continuous movement. I was really sore afterwards, but it's the kind of class where 60 minutes actually go by with only looking at the clock 2 or 3 times.

And on the far other side of the spectrum - I'm loving this wine this week. It was one of my birthday presents from a couple that knows me well! It's really smooth and goes down very....very easily. 

They are going to kill me for using this picture, but I can't freaking wait to see my sisters. They are coming to visit LA next Thursday and I don't know if I've ever looked forward to seeing them more than I do now. I'm excited to show them my new life, introduce them to their new puppy nephew, and just enjoy spending time with them. After all that the 3 of us have been through this year, I hope we use this weekend to just enjoy our time together.

I finished 50 Shades of Grey last night. I like the way the book ended and I thought it wrapped up all of the loose ties quite nicely. This morning on pintrest I found this hilarious e-card and couldn't resist sending it off to my new book club.
Oh, and my mom and youngest sister just started reading the book too - which is really awkward.

Have you seen Mrs. Eastwood & Company? It's your typical crazy reality show but it's nice to watch a reality show on E! news and have it not be featuring a Kardashian. 

This upcoming weekend Joel and I are heading to Florida for a friends wedding and it's the first time we're going to be leaving our little pup. Luckily our friends have graciously offered to let Roscoe stay with them while we're gone, so I don't have any mommy guilt leaving him at a kennel. They have a Boston Terrier and luckily our dogs love each other, so I know Roscoe will have a great time.

I'm really hoping today is my last day in the office. For as much as I hated taking the train in Chicago to go to work, it was such a luxury. Driving an hour each way to my office is pretty annoying. Gas out here in California is almost $5.00/gal and I honestly just get bored behind the wheel. The one perk is that it is a nice time to catch up on the phone with my friends and family back in Chicago, but it's just a lot of driving. It makes me extra thankful for the 2 or 3 days a week I get to work from home. 

Hope your week is flyin' by with all good things!


Isn't it funny...

...that the things we most often dread are often the most rewarding?

For example: 

Cooking dinner: Sometimes, I just wake up in the morning, and I've already decided that I will be too tired and too hungry to make dinner. I've already made up my mind that when I come home at 5, and take out the dog, and then clean up the house, and finally crash onto the couch, that I will not want to stand in the kitchen for the next hour and cook. And then clean. A bagel, cream cheese, and wine is just so much faster, sounds delicious, and is quite frankly just a lot easier.

BUT on the few nights of the week that I actually convince myself to just give it a try, I end up feeling so gratified. I end up putting on some jazz music, lighting candles, pouring a glass of wine, and start to enjoying the process. And I love to see how excited Joel is that he gets to eat an actual meal. And even if the meal is bad, he always raves about it. And then, after dinner, I feel good. I feel productive. I feel glad that I fed myself and my boyfriend a healthy, home cooked meal.

So, if cooking a healthy dinner makes me feel good, why don't I do it 5 days a week?

Exercising: Kind of like the whole cooking dinner thing, I normally wake up and decide that today is not going to be a day of exercise. I convince myself that I'm too tired, too busy, too sore, too hungry, too whatever to quite possibly put on workout pants and actually break a sweat. And this is before the day has even started. I get myself all worked up and convince myself that it will be this whole fiasco and then end up justifying the fact that I won't end up doing it. By the time I hit the couch after work, I feel lazy and guilty that I never made it out.

BUT if I do get my lazy butt in a pair of lululemon pants, I feel freaking great. It really doesn't matter how I break the sweat; hike, pure barre, jog, yoga, whatever...I just feel better after I've done it. I feel energized, sexy, and productive. I feel good. I feel healthy.

So, if exercising makes me feel like that, why don't I do it 5 days a week?

Flying in a plane: I get a little flight anxiety and often times can get myself worked up in such a tizzy before I've even gotten to the airport that I feel sick, light headed, and nervous. I think about how it feels to go through turbulence or I recount scary experiences that have happened to me in the past - sometimes from the comfort of my bed. I do always get on the plane, but even after a xanax and a mimosa, I've been known to wake up the person next to me and ask them to hold my hand. I hate thinking that I have to taint my travel experiences with an anxiety to actually travel!

BUT if I do keep myself calm and in control and relaxed, I feel proud of myself. I feel like I acted like an adult. I think to myself, "good girl, you're growing up". I'm glad that I've controlled the power of my thoughts and realized that planes and pilots are SAFE. Safer than cars really!  And I never want my fear to win, I never want to succumb, so I like it when I stay in the drivers seat of the situation.

So, if focusing my positive thoughts and overcoming fear makes me feel good, why don't I do it all the time?


I don't have an answer to these questions. Ha - if I did, I wouldn't have written these thoughts down....but it is an interesting topic to ponder. Hopefully one day I'll get off this roller coaster of the ups and downs, just stay consistent, but until then.....I just hope for more ups than downs and the permission to keep riding.


friday's thoughts

  • I have to go into the office today, which honestly, chaps my ass a little bit. ;) We have a training from 9am - 3pm. That is an aggressively long training and unless they plan on having some sort of performance, I find it wickedly unnecessary.
  • We are continuing this birthday celebration with dinner at Villa Blanca tonight. I'm hoping to catch up with some of my girlfriends are there.
  • My mom (and dad) got me these beauties for my birthday. They're the perfect color, and I needed a fancy flip flop so I couldn't be more excited....and they're on my feet now. 
  • I bought ten classes to Cardio Barre here in Beverly Hills. I'm not really sure why I did this, since I'm realllllly not graceful, but I'm hoping that it'll be a fun and effective workout. My first class is on Saturday at 10 so we'll see how this all goes down.
  • Have you seen "Don't trust the B- in Apt. 23? It's pretty stupid but for some reason I think it's pretty cute.
  • My sister Hannah is graduating college this weekend! She managed to do graduate with a degree in Spanish from the University of Iowa in 4 years. She's not sure what she wants to do once she leaves Iowa City - and I don't envy that position (even though I'm actually kind of in it too), but I have all the faith in the world that she'll find her way.
  • Joel and I are heading to Florida next weekend. It's going to be a fast weekend, but one of Joel's best friends from High School is getting married and Joel is in the wedding - so off we go. Oh....and I'm not looking forward to getting into a bathing suit. 
  • This is the best look that I've seen in a long, long while 
  • I'm so excited to have some wine tonight - I've been trying to limit my during the week drinks, and I'm ready to throw that caution to the wind tonight!  


My 1st Surprise Party

I'm still coming off my high that was my birthday. What was supposed to be a quiet night out with just Joel, turned into quite the opposite.

 I worked from home and was able to sneak in a manicure at lunch time, which felt like a nice treat.

Once 5 hit, I anxiously awaited for Joel to get home from work so our celebrations could start.

Joel walked in with a big Lululemon bag, which is always a welcome sight, and two strips of macaroons that were ordered from my best friends back in Chicago.
After a glass of Champagne, Joel took me to the unknown restaurant where we would be having dinner. I had a feeling he was going to take me to the restaurant I had been wanting to try, The Lobster, in Santa Monica - but as we were driving down Santa Monica Blvd. he turned left and threw me off my trail.

However, after 10 minutes of going in the wrong direction ,we pulled into The Lobster!

We went up to the hostess stand and Joel asked for us to be taken to the table. When the waitress asked what the reservation was under, Joel didn't say his last name - he said, "tucker" (surprise party error #1), one of our friends last names.  I started to quiz him with questions as we walked up the stairs to the restaurant, when all of a sudden I got my answer:

12 friends (all 12 people that I know in California) were yelling SURPRISE from the bar at The Lobster. I was so surprised that I barely gave a good reaction. Before I knew it, I had a margarita in my hand and was showered with love and presents.

We ate and drank ourselves silly (well, at least I did) and finally fell into bed at midnight - on a Tuesday night, no less.

Joel knows that being away from my family and friends is really tough for me, and so the fact that he planned for me to be surrounded by lots of new friends (and even my cousins) was the sweetest gesture of all. He's a good catch.