This year’s annual holiday gift guide is HERE! Check out these 10 gift ideas for anyone on your list.
It’s officially the most wonderful time of the year!
This year, I got into the holiday spirit a little early. Usually I’m a strict nothing-Christmas-until-after-Thanksgiving person, but this year I couldn’t help myself. My roommate and I were both out of town for Thanksgiving, and it just sounded so nice to come home after a long week off to a decorated apartment. So our tree was up before Thanksgiving and I’ve already made a dent in my balsam candles. I’m even almost done with my Christmas shopping. Which, WHAT? (Last year, I was picking up last-minute gifts for my mom ON CHRISTMAS EVE. So this is huge.)
My second annual gift guide is full of my current favorites, along with a few items I’ve been lusting after.
One of the best parts about the holidays is all of the holiday parties. Three years ago, my roommates Marie and Bridgit and I hosted our first annual Secret Santa “Friendsmas” party. Rather than shopping for everyone, we figured a secret Santa would be fun and easy and the perfect excuse to get all of our girlfriends together for the holidays.
When Marie and I moved into a new apartment last year, we decided to keep the tradition going and are hosting our closest pals for the third time this year.
It’s one of my most favorite traditions of the year, and as it’s grown, we’ve definitely learned a few things along the way. So this year, I’m sharing my best tips for hosting the perfect holiday party!
Chicago restauranteur and Top Chef favorite Fabio Viviani is cooking up more than 100 fast and easy Italian recipes in his latest cookbook, Fabio’s 30-Minute Italian.
As soon as I heard Fabio Viviani was coming out with a new cookbook, I knew I had to get my hands on it. Bar Siena-worthy recipes in 30 minutes or less? Sign me up!
I had the chance to interview Fabio about his brand-new book for the latest issue of CS magazine (check out the full article here!)—he even convinced me I could make pasta from scratch (so I’m pretty sure anyone can do it).
Fabio’s 30-Minute Italian is full of tips and tricks to make authentic Italian dishes without spending hours in the kitchen. “The meals are accessible—they don’t use fancy ingredients—and if people understand how I am, they know that with literally 10 to 20 minutes and three or four steps, they can make a fantastic meal,” he says.
Fabio’s dishing on his new cookbook, favorite foodie spots in Chicago and exciting upcoming projects (hint: more wine and new restaurants coming to town!).
What to eat, where to go and things to do in Nashville. Check out my complete guide for a weekend in Nashville!
Nashville’s one of those cities that I knew I’d like before I’d ever even been. But I finally went for the first time back in October—my college friends and I (casually 17 in total) planned a weekend girl’s trip and had the BEST time exploring and eating and drinking our way through the city.
We found an amazing, massive Airbnb that somehow fit all of us, booked a pedal tavern, packed our cowboy boots and had a full-on bachelorette party weekend minus the bachelorette.
A few tips for big groups: Since there was a shortage of restaurants who could take a reservation that large, we did dinner on Friday night at The Stillery. It was perfect for a bigger group, had great food and cocktails, plus they had live music during dinner! We booked a private chef to come to the Airbnb on Saturday night to cook dinner for everyone. Highly recommend! It ended up being super affordable split between several people and there were leftovers for DAYS. It was also great because people could get ready at their own pace (key when there are three bathrooms for 17 girls) and hang out and eat before going out (plus, we saved on drinks by picking up wine and stuff for cocktails at the grocery store beforehand.)
I’ve been back to Nashville a few times since then and these are a few of my favorite places to go and things to do!
Where to Eat
Proper Bagel: Grab a vanilla bean latte and an order of avocado toast at this Instagram-worthy bagel shop near Belmont’s campus. You’ll also find bagel sandwiches, salads and plenty of vegan and gluten-free breakfast and lunch options here.
Pancake Pantry: There’s always a line, but it’s so worth the wait. The pancakes are obviously amazing (go for the sweet potato or banana bread ‘cakes), but the hashbrowns are everything. Do yourself a favor and get both.
Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint: If you’re not trying to wait in line at Hattie B’s, try Martin’s for ribs, mac & cheese and a drink in the beer garden, where you can play ping pong, darts and shuffleboard.
Do walnuts remove scratches from hardwood? How about using coconut oil to polish wood? Check out my new video series, Home Hacks with Sears Home Services!
Exciting news! I’m teaming up with Sears Home Services in a super fun new home video series where we put life hacks to the test. There’s a million life hacks floating around on the internet, but which ones actually work and are worth using? We’re finding out for you!
In the first installment, I’m testing three hacks to help clean cabinets (but these easy tricks can also be used on wood floors or to help clean up wood furniture around your house).
Check out the video below and let me know what you think! These videos were SO much fun to film and I can’t wait to share them with you!
2016 was a lot of things. And even though, like most everyone else, I was so ready for it to be over, looking back on this year a lot of pretty great things happened.
I launched the blog back in March, my sister got married on national TV, the Cubs won the World Series, I met and had the chance to interview some really cool people, and I traveled to Vegas and Nashville for the first time. As it turns out, 2016 wasn’t so bad after all—and I think 2017’s going to be even better.
But first, these are the posts that were your favorites this year, from healthy margs and lip kits to Gwyneth and the #TODAYWedding. THANK YOU all for the endless support in this new venture. I can’t wait for another great year!
New year, new me planner. These are a few of my favorite products to get organized for the New Year!
I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m just not a very organized person. My computer has 100 tabs open at all times and my desktop is a deep sea of photos and documents. (Even if it looks clean, they’re likely hidden in a separate folder, aptly named “Desktop.”)
To overcome my inherent lack of organization, I’ve become a crazy list person who writes everything down and lives and dies by a to-do list. And I’m determined to become a planner person in 2017. For real this time, unlike last year (my stint with the Passion Planner lasted less than two months).
This year, after an excessive amount of planner research, I picked up the Rifle Paper Co. Planner in Scarlett Birch. As a diehard checklist person with unfortunate handwriting, I love the weekly layout with lines and boxes to keep organized and check things off as you go. It also has sections for contacts, important dates, notes, monthly calendar views with more room to write notes, and a folder in the back with a built-in ruler to tuck away small papers. It’s the perfect size to fit in a work bag, but doesn’t feel too small to keep track of everything. It’s simple and pretty and has a quote on every weekly spread.
Here are a few of my other favorite products, from notepads and pens (the Le Pens are low-key life changing) to weekly journals and calendars, that will help organize and inspire you in 2017.
Get started on gifting with these gift ideas for friends, sisters, moms, etc. (or just for yourself!).
It’s officially that time of year! Aside from all of the great sales and deals, my favorite part of Black Friday every year is seeing everyone’s holiday gift guides. I’ve been making my holiday wish list for quite some time now, so I wanted to share my picks (both things I’ve already picked up this season and what I’ll be asking Santa for) to help make holiday shopping a little easier.
You can’t go wrong with a new winter coat or cozy scarf (the Free People scarf comes in nine colors and I’ve been wearing it nonstop), and I love this oversized sweater (get it on sale today!) and wrap choker. Beauty buys always make great gifts, too. The Beachwaver’s been on my list for a while now, and I use this Tarte palette and blush in the shade Exposed every single day. I love Tarte products because they last all day and are super wearable and cruelty-free. The water bottle and candle are great for anyone on your list and also make the perfect hostess or secret Santa gifts. And for something techy, a DSLR camera has been on my Christmas list forever, so I finally splurged this year. I’ve been absolutely LOVING this camera so far and would highly recommend it!
Relive the weekend with my Lollapalooza 2016 playlist.
One of the most fun weekends of summer in Chicago, Lollapalooza, was this weekend!
I wasn’t actually even planning on going this year, but of course when Friday rolled around I had major FOMO and decided to get a last-minute Sunday pass.
The headliners this year were Radiohead, Lana Del Ray, LCD Soundsystem, Red Hot Chile Peppers, J. Cole, Major Lazer, Disclosure and Ellie Goulding, who I saw on Sunday. There was such a good mix of old throwbacks (Third Eye Blind), cool indie girl groups (MUNA and HAIM) and dance-worthy electronic music (Flume was one of my favorites!).
Photo by Greg Noire
If you’re anything like me, you’re still listening to all of your favorites from the weekend on Spotify. I made a playlist with all of my favorite songs from the bands we saw on Sunday and have been playing it nonstop since the shows ended.
Emily Giffin on her new summer release, First Comes Love, why the Chicago stop on her book tour will be better than ever, and Something Blue movie details.
Emily Giffin’s new book is HERE!
Emily’s been one of my favorite authors since her first book, Something Borrowed, was released 10 years ago. Since then, she’s written seven more books, including the #1 New York Times bestselling hit The One & Only.
You can always count on Emily for a great beach read, and First Comes Love is no exception. I flew through it in one weekend at the pool and couldn’t wait to share it with you guys. She often writes about relationships, mostly romantic, but First Comes Love explores the relationship between two sisters, Josie and Meredith. Both sisters are at very different stages in in life as they figure out how to overcome grief, navigate complicated relationships and understand one another years after an unexpected tragedy strikes their family.
Emily will also be back in Chicago this year for her book tour! Her signings are always the BEST (in the past they’ve been at Bloomingdale’s and Saks, complete with a DJ, wine, desserts, etc.), and this year she’s taking it to the next level and hosting it at The Peninsula Chicago. You can still get tickets for the July 14 event!
Get to know more about Emily, her new book and fun upcoming projects in the works.