Life's a Beach

It's official.  I'm still pretending I'm on vacation, at the beach, soaking up the glorious Florida sun.  I can't shake it.  With summer temps here again yesterday it just felt like an extension of vacation.  I'm practically refusing to let it sink in that vacation is over!

So since I still think I can just hop over to the private beach full of sea creatures, I wanted to share with you my favorite finds for a trip to the beach - all under $100.

Weekend/Vacation/Birthday Recap

Today it's back to the ole' routine - vacation is over, my birthday is over and the long weekend is too.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't bummed, but time marches on.  These past several days have been incredible, to say the least.  Some highlights of vacation include ::

  • Delicious food every single meal
  • The most perfect of views from the balcony at the condo
  • The most incredible sunshine/beach/water you could ask for
  • So much marine life - we seriously saw a shark right in front of us!  Not to mention dolphins, seals, a giant sea turtle and various other things
  • Many delicious tropical beverages
  • Perfect sunsets every night
  • The best travel buddies you could think of

My birthday was pretty terrific too.  It was low-key, such a nice way to celebrate turning 28.  I had some stuffed french toast made by my wonderful husband, followed by mimosas, mini golf with great friends, a great dinner out and we ended the night hanging out with some soon-to-be-married friends who are in town for their big wedding this Saturday! Hoorah!


Today I turn 28.  Which means, I survived the curse of the 27s!  I enjoyed being 27 and wasn't really looking forward to turning 28, but the time has come.  

We went to Florida this weekend for a sunny vacation on the beach.  It was absolutely perfect - so relaxing and enjoyable.  We met my husband's sister and her boyfriend there and stayed in their grandma's condo in Clearwater.  We had this incredible balcony to sit on with a view to die for.  Every night, the sun set directly in front of us.  Every day we could see things in the ocean to get excited about from our view.  I can't get over how awesome it was!  The first day we sat at the beach, I kid you not, a shark swam up right in front of us.  A man was jogging along the beach and stopped to stare; he said he had only seen one other shark in Clearwater in all the 20 years he's been coming there.  It was a small brown shark, but still, IT WAS A SHARK!  We also saw several dolphins (two up close while on a boat excursion), a SEA TURTLE and a group of seals swimming!  It was glorious.  

This past year has been incredible.  Since my awesome birthday picnic last year, I've gotten married, honeymooned in Italy and now we've bought a house.  What a big year!  I'm hoping that this next year will only be better.  

I hope you're all having a wonderful Memorial day/holiday weekend.  

Farmer's Market with Maggie / Have a Wonderful Weekend!

Just some images of the Evanston Farmer's Market to end your week with.  I love these pictures - the jars, the herbs, the flowers? I go nuts.

Have a wonderful, sunny and warm weekend!  I'll be back Monday to say hi and how happy I am that everyone gets the day off for my birthday.  Regular programming shall return on Tuesday.  

Gardening with Maggie

 Ferns, gnomes, Lily of the Valley and Coral Bells make up some of the backyard garden at Maggie's house in Evanston, IL.  I can say without a doubt, that they have one of the best backyards around this city - perfect for summer outdoor parties.  Lucky for me, she is hosting a party next week to celebrate all the birthdays with so many of our closest friends (many of whom happen to be in town next week for a wedding on the 4th that I'm really looking forward to) and it's going to take place in this very yard.  I for one Can. Not. Wait.

The ferns are a whole wall of green.  They're huge and abundant.  What's really cool about their backyard garden is how true they keep it to the climate we're in.  Everything they choose is native to the area and they let them go by their own cycle.  If they die they die, if they live and come back next season it's a bonus.

 Aside from planting a garden in their backyard, they also have ~ 12 x 8 feet of space in the Evanston community garden.  Here you can see shallots sprouting up.  While things to tend to take a little longer to sprout up in these parts, this space is direct sun and does yield a lot of produce with the right amount of work.  Last year, the abundance of produce they grew from their double plot was enough to feed them for months as well as friends.  So instead of wasting great produce, she sold it to local cafes!

I don't know about you, but these photos have me itching to use my green thumb!

* All images by Maggie Faircloth Gresham


Today I have someone very exciting to introduce to you - my sweet friend Maggie!  Mags is pretty awesome.  She takes amazing photographs, cooks, gardens, listens to great music and she's super funny (not to mention plenty of other things).  Being the generous person she is, she is sharing amazing images with us while I'm off enjoying my pre-birthday vacation.  Oh yeah, did I mention I was going on vacation?  I'm heading to Florida today for a 4-day stint in Clearwater.  We're taking advantage of family property with my sister-in-law and her boyfriend and it's going to be awesome.  Then we come back and boom, it's my birthday on Monday!  Okay, back to the point of the post...

How amazing are these terrariums?  With inspiration from Chicago (and Brooklyn) store Sprout Home, Maggie started creating little worlds throughout her home in glass jars.  Living in Chicago can be tough on plants if you aren't lucky enough to have direct sunlight - so the first round of experimentation didn't go so well.  So instead of starting over completely with the real things, she took to the non-living.  Above, you can see terrariums full of bird feathers, rocks and pebbles, a bee hive, books, skulls.

"I just wanted to try and take back control over these worlds that you get to create.  It's almost like photographing, where you get to frame things yourself.  That's what I do when I photograph, you frame stuff and it becomes this whole other world."

So awesome.  Thanks for sharing these, Maggie!  There will be more Maggie awesomeness tomorrow and Thursday.  Be sure to look out for garden + farmers market posts!

* All images by Maggie Faircloth Gresham

Saddle Up

Ever since I was a kid, I've been into horseshoes.  Mainly for reasons relating to my Papa Honey (that's seriously what we called my grandpa) and also really because they're just cool. Everything about these designs has me a little weak in the knees, especially the clever use of horseshoes in the wedding photos.  Oh and the stationary.  Man, I love the stationary.

And horse things in general really appeal to me, cowboy boots, hats and really great dresses to match - it's all great.  Especially when you're having fun while wearing it - how cute is this little girl?!

And these women really know how to rock the hat, don't you think?  Do you sport the cowboy look ever?  All of my bridesmaids wore cowboy boots to our wedding and I loved it.

* Images
One, Two, Three,  Four
One, Two
One, Two, Three  


It's another day with summery today's post is focused another thing that I love about summer - outdoor party lights!  I love going to garden areas that have twinkly lights strewn about...and I can't wait to string up tons of festive lights in our own yard/garden.

Hope the weather is nice where you are!

Images via here, herehere, here, here, here, here and here  

* This is the post that Blogger deleted during the bloggercompletebreakdown.  Just thought it might brighten up your Monday afternoon/evening - get it? Har har.

Weekend Recap

Another good weekend for the books, my friends.  Aside from the devastating Bulls loss last night (grr), everything went well - including our home inspection!  This house is ours and I couldn't be more thrilled about it!  The house inspection is indeed a weird process, but the inspector was nice and friendly and we shared some laughs in the down time.  I saw parts of the house I wish I had never seen (the creepy attic, the creepy dungeonesque area under the stairs (seriously, those kinds of areas in houses look like you might find some old bones in there).  But at least I saw them and do know for a fact that there are no skeletal remains, ha ha.  Okay, anyway.  Enough of that.  The house is in great shape, only a few minor things need to be fixed before we move in and we keep realizing that our yard is getting bigger every time we visit.  Aside from all that, the weekend was nice - filled with friends and family and warmth!  Some highlights include ::

  • Listening to Bossypants  to and from Louisville - Tina Fey is freaking awesome and therefore the time flew by
  • Beers + hot tub after a 5-hour drive, oh yes
  • Home inspection
  • Family cook out on a beautiful day
  • Laughing at 6 p.m. when "the rapture" didn't come to fruition
  • Arriving in town just in time for dinner + games with friends
  • Laying on the boulevard with my sweetums, reading books and yelling at ants trying to crawl on me (yes, we were wearing sunscreen)
  • Drinking John Daly's all afternoon while the threat of storms lingered
  • Shrugging off a Bulls loss with a game of cards and drinks with our friend Jacob

How were yours?  I hope the weather was good for you and you weren't impacted in any way by the newest round of severe storms.  My heart goes out to those in Joplin.

Friday's Fancies

Today's Friday's Fancies is a colorful one - meaning that I'm in the summer-time mood and want to embrace it for all it's worth.  We're leaving next Wednesday for a brief beach vacation and I couldn't be more excited for it.  I would love to wear this outfit one evening after spending the day swimming in the ocean and basking in the sun with a cocktail in hand.  I've been swooning over this Marc by Marc Jacobs dress ever since I saw it in an ad in Marie Claire (or was it Lucky? or both?).  It's gorgeous and vibrant and exactly what I wish I could twirl in on warm summer days and nights....

Do you like to link-up to {av}'s Friday's Fancies? I love putting outfits together and I love the idea of being able to throw whatever I feel like in the mix regardless of price.  It's an easy way for me to fantasize about fashion I guess!

Thursday Randoms

The other day, I received the sweetest surprise in the mail - my very own "Meagan Badger" stamp from Primele!  I had won a give away from Sami's blog A Glimpse of Glamour way back to receive this stamp, but things kind of got lost in the shuffle.  But much to my surprise, it arrived in the mail wrapped up in the most beautiful tissue paper with the most beautiful little thank you card - I was/am smitten.  Thanks again, Sami & Primele!  Be sure to check out their website as they have many amazing things up.

In the monthly Dolan Geiman newsletter that I received today, I fell in love immediately these amazing wooden pennants! I love these two in particular because well...I'm a Chicagoan right now who is soon moving to Kentucky, duh :)  But the other pennants he has created are pretty rad as well - class of 2011, Happily Hitched, It's a Boy - so many awesome things and he's adding more soon!  I love the reason behind them, too ::

"I have always loved vintage felt pennants, the ones that tell of travels to Mexico or to the local carnival or proclaim a love for the old ballgame, but I have often longed for new versions of these old standards. I started this collection to pay homage to what I consider the greatest souvenir and to give it a new life in a new medium. These thin oak pennants are tactile and gift ready, with three holes for easy hanging, and I will be introducing new themes, cities, and special occasions as the months progress." 

Last, my friend Jenni introduced me to this amazing website this morning - Carrot + Coriander.  I am completely intrigued!  The artist behind it all is a former Chicago Public Schools art teacher who moved to Sedona to create awesome stuff.  Pretty cool, right? I cant' get enough of the incredible clutches, made from found and hand-dyed fabric.  You can see Arizona's influence throughout her work - be sure to check out the rest!  Thanks again, Jen!

Australian Fashion Week

I'm loving these two snaps from Australian Fashion Week via Free People.  There is something about the first image that I find so extraordinary.  The braids, the shoulder art - I just want to copy it all!  And what's not to love about the second shot - her minty manicure, bright blue ring and orange dress paired with the neutral clutch is absolutely perfect!

Australian Fashion Week really gets overshadowed - if it weren't for following Free People on Facebook, or reading blogs like Audrey's, I probably wouldn't have even realized it was going on.  Sad, right?  Because there's so much good stuff happening there!

Guest Postin' Today

Good morning, readers!  Today I have an exciting guest post up on Johanna's lovely blog, 101 things i love...

Come check it out and enjoy your visit to her corner of the internet - there's a lot of exciting stuff to see.  She is a brand new mommy to Olivia, who arrived a little early to their surprise - but thanks to wonderful doctors and nurses they're all doing fine.  So stop over, congratulate her on her new family and say hello!

Coral Crush

coral crush

There's not much to be said about this board - other than the fact that I am crushing hard on the color coral.  I have been for awhile now.  It's just that the color itself is so pretty used in everything.  From makeup to hats to dresses - it's the perfect warm weather shade!  What color are you crushing on right now?

1.   Barneys New York Polka Dot Umbrella - $140
2.   Roberta Chiarella Coral Social Stretch Bracelet - $68
3.   Tiffany Savoy Clutch - $995
4.   Stila Cosmetics Long Wear Liquid Lip Color in Coral - $22
5.   Clo Dulce Demi-Underwire Bra - $46
6.   Crepe Pencil Skirt Adam - $78
7.   Joes Jeans Coral Tux Tee - $135
8.   Paloma Barcelo Natalia Suede Espadrille Wedges - $270
9.   Roberta Chiarella Coral Brava Earrings - $48
10. Sonia by Sonia Rykiel Silk crepe de chine pants - $390
11. Ray-Ban Original Wayfarer - $139
12. Tod's Cutout Ballerina Flat - $525
13. Juicy Couture Stripe Floppy Paper Straw Hat - $78

House Preview

First off, thank you all so much for your sweet congratulatory comments on our good news!  I'm excited to share a little preview with you about our new home.

The house itself is an old one but with a sturdy foundation and has had the necessary maintenance and upgrades.  We're going down on Saturday for the inspection and our fingers are crossed that all goes well.  The fact that it's an old home means it has lots of character - which is something both of us required.  When I first saw the listing, I fell in love with the doors, porch and fireplace and knew it was a real possibility.

We saw the house one Saturday morning, where we actually met our agent for the first time.  We were scheduled to see several other houses that day and would see many more in the weeks to come.  We liked the house a lot, but weren't sure about the location (it's kind of far from where we were originally looking) and wanted to check out what else the city had to offer us.  So we looked, and we looked and then looked some more.  We liked some other houses, thought about them for a couple of weeks and then returned to look at them again.

I decided that we needed to look at this house again, along with one other house we had been interested in.  Before this, we had looked at one other house twice and didn't like it the second time back.  So we were skeptical.  But then we saw it again and loved it.  The location was perfect - it sits on an old country road with horses, a honey farm and a nursery.  There is a limestone quarry at the end of the road which we had been skeptical about before, but after going back we realized it was several miles down the road.  Whew!  The only downside (as of now) to this house now is that the husband can barely stand up in the basement.  But we decided that the house itself had enough square feet to make up for the fact that the basement isn't finishable.  So we spent a lot of time looking everything over, then moved on to the second house that we would look at twice.

We didn't like it.  At all.

Then we saw a few more new-to-us homes.  We didn't like those, either.

Then later that day, I received a phone call from our current landlord.  They had filed bankruptcy.  Sign? I think so.

Then I won some money at the Derby. Sign? Probably not.  Really, I just wanted to brag about that.  :)

We slept on it.  We enjoyed Mother's Day with my mother-in-law.  We drove back to Chicago.

Then we decided for sure - it was the one.  We called our agent and told him our decision.  Then we made an offer, they accepted and we drank some bubbly.  All in 24 hours time!  Now it's all I can think about!

So here it is, in all its glory ::

The picture was taken in February - which I think made it that much more appealing when we saw it in person.  The trees are HUGE and beautiful.  There is so much greenery in the area, it's really quite amazing.  It's a complete change from what we're used to here which makes us that much more excited about it all!  We're going to spend so many wonderful morning/afternoon/evening/nights on that front porch.  We're installing a porch swing ASAP.

I can't wait to snuggle up on cold winter nights in front of that fireplace (I can wait, actually).  Also, how amazing is that front door?!  Oh the decorating possibilities!  My dreams of owning a rustic old house have come true!

Last, the kitchen.  It looks so small in this photo but it's much larger in person.  Those pretty double doors are hiding the washer/dryer and the door to the left is the side entrance.  I really think that it will be amazing to cook in there, even if it isn't the huge kitchen like we hoped for.  It's still twice as big as our current one :)

There aren't too many updates we'll need to make when we move in - other than putting our touch on things.  There's a screened-in porch area in the back that we're planning to upgrade once we're settled and the huge backyard (we've got almost half an acre of land!) is a blank canvas for us to do whatever we please!

I can't wait to have your help with decorating ideas - it's going to be so much fun.

* All images via the KW listing, which I'd prefer to keep private

Weekend Recap

We're back to Monday again, aren't we.  Well that's okay I guess because it only puts us that much closer to a lot of things coming up that I'm excited about.  The weekend was good despite the weather.  We did a lot of relaxing and staying indoors.  Some highlights include ::

  • Delicious food all weekend long
  • Lots of sleep
  • Lots of staying in our pajamas until the afternoon
  • Bridesmaids the movie!  It was really funny and definitely worth using our soon-to-expire Fandango tickets.  I love going to a Saturday matinee (apparently so does the rest of the city, but that could be due to the weather) and gorging on nachos and candy.  Don't judge.
  • Euchre
  • House business - not really a highlight but the productiveness felt pretty good
  • Last but certainly not least - Da Bulls!  Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer - they all gave quite the performance over the Heat last night.  It was simply incredible to see them defeat the Heat 103-82.  Take that, LeBron.
How were your weekends? Splendid I hope!  Here's to a good week full of sunshine and (hopefully) climbing temps!

Have a celebratory weekend!

Well, friends.  I have GREAT news!  We found our house, put in an offer and they ACCEPTED!  Pending upon the inspection, we'll be moving down south in a month and a half - gasp!  We're both over the moon with excitement about the move, having a yard, three times the space as our city apartment and well...everything else that comes along with it.  I'd be lying if I said there weren't any downsides to this all.  We're heartbroken to be leaving our friends here and there are certainly a lot of things we'll miss about living in Chicago.  I guess this is growing up, right?  

What's your weekend plan? I feel out of touch considering yesterday didn't seem to exist to Blogger.  The weather here has been so incredible but it's taking a turn for the worst and is expected to be back to chilly temps for awhile.  Way to be dramatic, weather.  Who knows what we'll do this weekend but as long as it involves something fun, it'll be all good.

Whatever you get up to this weekend - hope it's swell!


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