Monday, October 20, 2014

Fifty Shades of Fall

This is a special time of year because Fall is very brief in Chicago so we must take advantage of it's perks while we can. It has been 60's and sunny during the day, dropping to fireplace worthy temperatures at night, making for perfect days.. days where a sweater dress and booties feel just right, the leaves are the colors of candy corn and lighting a seasonal candle to read by on the couch feels absolutely necessary on a Friday night. 

I love this marled sweater dress from Target -- it works with bare legs for a casual fall look but will also be fun to pair with tights, booties and a top knot come cooler months and the holidays.

Dress: Target // Booties: Forever 21 (similar) // Bag: Aldo // Sunnies: Old Navy // Necklace: LOFT // Watch: T+J Designs

What do you enjoy most about the season?

Friday, October 17, 2014

My Sheinside Wish List

With the holidays around the corner, I am always looking for online stores where I can get a lot of bang for my buck. Between outfits for myself and gifts for others, Sheinside has you covered. Their price points are outstanding and you can really get a lot of items with out breaking the bank. 

Don't forget to check out their jewelry selection, you're sure to find everything you are looking for and for a really great price to boot! 

Here are a few items I am currently lusting over: 

I feel like I'd wear or love to get/give any of these above items this fall/winter/holiday season. 

Do you see any items you like above? Do you ever shop at Sheinside?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Every Pound Saves a Hound

"There is only one thing more enjoyable than a fresh-brewed cup of coffee in the morning, and that is to see a dog's wagging tail when you roll out of bed"...

Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co, a company who strives to support the hard-working rescue organizations in your community, summed it up perfectly. When we adopted Fitz from Wagging Hearts six months ago, I suddenly had a reason to enjoy mornings, rather than avoid them. Ever since I started drinking coffee (note: I'm an iced girl, even in the winter), I look forward to our A.M. routine which starts with the fireplace and some brew and ends with my four-legged pal snoring beside me on the couch.

At Grounds & Hounds, every pound saves a hound which means while you're enjoying their delicious (and cleverly titled) flavors, you're also giving shelter pups the second-chance they deserve. My husband and I have always shared a love for dogs so once we got married, it was only a matter of time. One year later, we started scouring Adopt a Pet and fell in love with ALL of the rescue pups but there was one special litter prompted us to email the foster home and end our weekend getaway early to see them. 

Fitz and his brothers and sisters were born in Tennessee and were residing in a high kill shelter until Wagging Hearts stepped in to find him a home..."These Boxer-lab puppies can't wait to find their forever home" the site read and we are so lucky to share ours with him...I often wonder, "who rescued who?" ;) 

I have a Keurig so I used my Krups grinder (just $20!) to ground the Alpha Male mix...

You just need a reusable k-cup for the grounds...

Add a little skim milk, and I'm in puppy love.

From pup to toddler, our rescue pup is growing beautifully and has turned into a best friend...

Can't forget about Dad...he loves waking up to Fitz kisses, even the sloppiest of them all. 

Do you have a furry family member? How do you spend your mornings together?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Going to Great Lengths

I remember the day I went to my hair dresser and told her I wanted to dye my hair black - I brought in an "inspirational" photo of Ashlee Simpson circa 'Pieces of Me.' My hair girl pretty much had the same response my Mom did when I told her the idea: Hell no. Thank God that phase was short-lived and I moved on... Once I remembered that whole "I'm Irish with pale skin and freckles" thing, jet black hair seemed a little out of the question. 

11 years later and I still have not touched these locks - no dye, high lights or cuts that would make me cry (like a few of those dance up-do's back in the day). I love my natural color, especially after sun time in the summer, and I'm afraid I would never get it back. 

But like most, I do get the itch to mix things up now and then so I was excited when I heard Lisa's contact for extensions was coming back in town. I have always been a fan of long flowing hair (Blake Lively is my ultimate #WCW) and since I had recently chopped my hair after my wedding, I figured this was a great way to get a new (non-permanent) look.

Sweater: BISTM (Lisa's closet) (similar) // T-shirt: Victoria's Secret // Jeans: Old Navy // Bag: Just Fab
Shoes: Just Fab (similar) // Necklace: Rachel Roy // Sunglasses: Old Navy

What do you think of extensions? How do you keep your look fresh?

P.S. Speaking of keeping things fresh, do the same for your wardrobe with this exclusive Shopbop sale for friends + family:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oktoberfest at Harvest

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Recently, we were invited to the Harvest restaurant at Pheasant Run Resort & Spa to experience their Oktoberfest beer menu, offered every Thursday. We were lucky enough to enjoy Executive Chef Tiffany's gourmet cuisine in a warm and inviting atmosphere where the menu includes the finest grade of aged beef, exceptional seafood, extraordinary game selections and seasonal dishes inspired by fresh ingredients available in local markets.

Explore the dinner menu with us through photos and tasting notes:

First Course
Diver Sea Scallop: Bacon Wrapped Diver Scallop with an Apricot Glaze

Stella Artois LagerFull flavored lager with a hoppy aroma and hint of fruit followed by a crisp, mild bitter lemon finish      

Notes: I have always been timid about scallops due to the texture but Lisa persuaded me to step outside my box and give them a try and I'm very glad I did. I should have figured that anything wrapped in bacon with an apricot glaze should not be questioned...the scallops were light, airy and a perfect lead in to the rest of the courses. 

Second Course
Pheasant Run Wedge Salad: Crisp Iceberg Lettuce with Applewood Smoked Bacon, Heirloom Tomatoes Marinated with Herb Vinaigrette and Buttermilk Bleu Cheese Dressing

ChiTown Pier Pale AleA fragrant bouquet of hops with a mild fruity flavor and a crisp clean finish that is the hall mark of pale ale’s 

Notes: Who knew a wedge salad could be so tasty? Often thought of as the "leftover lettuce," a wedge isn't typically as desirable as say, an organic spinach salad but this one was different. The bacon and tomatoes together were a savory + sweet combination but the bleu cheese dressing made the meal...absolutely loved the flavors here.

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Third Course
Wild Mushroom Crusted Filet Mignon: Grilled Black Angus Tenderloin of Beef with Spinach Risotto, Oven Roasted Asparagus and Fresh Herb Demi Glaze

Pheasant Run Ringneck Red Lager: A rich, deep amber color with soft hop and fruit flavors followed by a lingering clean finish. This beer is made by Leinenkugel specifically for Pheasant Run and is not available anywhere else

Notes: Everything worked here - the combination of the spinach risotto and asparagus worked so well with the filet and not to mention, was beautiful in presentation. The steak was cooked to perfection...we both prefer our meat cooked medium rare and Chef Tiffany did not miss a beat.

This beer was by far our favorite of the night. We both immediately "mmm'd" after trying it and discussed how we needed to make a stop at Binny's so we could bring it home to our husbands. Too bad it's exclusive to the restaurant, but I guess that just means we'll have to come back even sooner ;)

Fourth Course
Kilauea Chocolate Molten Lava Cake: Fresh House Made Dark Chocolate Cake Filled with Warm, Decadent Chocolate Magma Topped with Crème Anglaise

Guinness StoutAromas of roasted malt give way to caramel and cocoa flavors that make this the perfect partner for chocolate

Notes: If loving this cake is wrong, we don't want to be right. The cake was delicious on its own but add warm chocolate magma topping and dessert has officially won. The pairing with the Guinness was fantastic and totally unpredictable. We had both experienced Guinness in similar settings years ago (traveling overseas) but never tried it in combination with sweets so that was refreshing and a satisfying way to end a fantastic evening.

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The Oktoberfest Special runs every Thursday through October. Here's what you need to know to make a reservation:

Executive Chef Tiffany Tooker
Four-Course Beer Pairing Menu
$35 per person, excluding tax and gratuity
Dining Room Hours: 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Address: 4051 E. Main Street, St. Charles, IL
Reservations: (630) 584-6300

Monday, October 13, 2014

Everyday City Chic

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Kaitlyn and I recently headed to the city to meet up with my friend and hair genius, Suzie. This was the day we got our extensions put in, so I decided to keep the look super simple yet chic as I planned to just wear a tank as I had mine put in.

I paired this amazing blazer with a scarf, tank top, jeans, and a great bag. Toss on some round frame sunnies and an ankle boot and it was perfect for everyday city wear.
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Blazer: Piperlime (swap w/ Kaitlyn) // Jeans: Gap // Scarf & Tank: Target // Bag, Ring, & Shoes: c/o Just Fab // Sunnies: Express 

 I just love the mustard and blue paired with the leopard print. I think the play off each other quite nicely, no?

What do you think of this outfit? What do you wear for a casual afternoon downtown? 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Hair Affair

I don't think it would be silly to say that every girl has fantasized at one time or another about having long, luxurious, Disney princess style, Victoria's Secret-esque hair. Those long waves that look perfectly un-perfect and so voluminous that you ask yourself if its real - but we must realize, if it looks too good to be real, it probably isn't...and that's why there's people like Suzie who can take us from normal hair today to princess hair tomorrow with a magic touch.  

Lisa got extensions done by Suzie last year and loved the experience so much that we decided to embark on a hair affair together this time around. I had long hair most of my life (until recently when I went for the long bob) but only with extensions am I able to achieve the curls and thick braids that Pinterest dreams are made of. 

Here are a few photos of the process:

Lisa's before & after:

My before & after:

Considering extensions? Here are a few of our thoughts:

  • Long hair instantly
  • Once styled, they are less maintenance, as you can just touch up your style for 3-4 days at a time without having to go through the whole process (washing, drying, curling, etc). 
  • A non-permanent way to change up your look
  • Good for your real hair - less heat gives your strands time to breathe/grow 

-Extensions are very heavy when wet! It is best to air dry them instead of blow dry because a) it's a time saver and b) too much heat isn't healthy for the hear (or your real hair for that matter) This means night washing is usually best - we typically divide our hair into two braids, leaving them to wave overnight.

-You must brush (soft bristle is best) carefully so you don't get "dreads" in the back at the scalp - just put one hand on your tracks while you brush lightly so they don't get pulled on

-It takes a few days to get used to them, especially sleeping on them, but after a few days, they become less noticeable and you get used to your "hair routine"

-Use Moroccan oil on ends of curls almost daily  

Have you ever tried extensions? Would you consider it?