reading and watching

With all this chilly weather, ’tis the season for cozying up with a good book in bed or on the couch for a Netflix binge, yes??

In last few months, I’ve been lucky to check some good stuff off my lists of reads and shows. I’m always collecting recommendations and had to share my current favorites in case any of you are the same!

Have you read or seen any of these before?

{Reading}

Side note – did you know one of my goals for the year is to read 20 books? Definitely more than I’ve read in previous years. One of my favorite hobbies has always been reading though, so I’m hoping this gets my routine back in order.

Check the recent books I recommend below!

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter // What a story for dreamers! This novel spans over fifty years, as it bounces between a cast of characters with tangled lives and intertwined hopes – from 1960s Italy to present-day Hollywood. It evokes such humanity, while simultaneously showcasing the magic of foreign countries, old Hollywood, and falling in love.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn // I felt like I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Gone Girl is the suspenseful story following Amy Dunne’s sudden disappearance on her and her husband’s fifth anniversary. Twist and turns, paired with intriguing detail, keep readers on their toes as everyone tries to piece together details from different sources to determine who is guilty here.

Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life by Jenna Bush Hager & Barbara Pierce Bush // I was instantly drawn to this book for a few reasons – its family has Texas roots, I love history and am always drawn to learning about what goes on behind-the-scenes, and its focus was on sisterhood. If you have a sister, this memoir is a must-read to me. It puts into beautiful words and stories so much of that special bond. I also loved how it shows the closeness of a family, despite the challenges it faces and the opinions (including political ones!) it differed in.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple // The story focuses on a close-knit relationship between a mother, Bernadette Fox, and her daughter, Bee, in a Seattle community where they’re the odd ones out. When Bernadette disappears before a family trip, Bee strings together various correspondence and documents to track her down. This touching novel acknowledges the challenge of finding one’s place in the world and is laugh-out-loud funny (I’m not kidding, you can ask E who heard me the whole time)!

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls // This memoir is written so beautifully, with vivid detail and a voice of triumph against all odds. Walls writes about growing up with parents full of non-conventional ideals that led to an adventurous, but challenging, youth. The stories she tells of her childhood have me full of the awe and admiration of the tenacity her (and her siblings) had to survive. The memoir carries you all the way through their young adult lives, showing you that fighting for your own success, in the most challenging circumstances, can still be done with love.

reading and watching

{Watching}

Big Little Lies // If you’re a fan of brilliant women supporting each other and love feeling empowered (who doesn’t?!), than this is a must. Eric and I binged this series right before the holidays, and then I got my family hooked. BLL has shined during awards season, and with the mystery, intrigue, and all-star acting that begins in episode 1, it’s easy to see why. Anyone else want to be bffs with the female cast?

The Bachelor // Every season I tell myself no, this is so ridiculous, you must stop, and every season I get hooked anyway. Laughing through and dissecting the whole thing with E, who I’ve also got hooked, is just too much fun. I wasn’t a fan of Arie being this winter’s lead, but he’s actually impressed me so far.

The Crown // Being a lover of history and always fascinated by the behind-the-scenes stories, this Netflix show has sucked me in quickly! I love the beautiful settings and wardrobes. And even though it’s definitely dramatized throughout, I’ve read how a lot of it is quite accurate and am learning a lot about the royal family.

What is missing from my collection, friends? I want to hear your thoughts!

favorite winter dress

We have had some crazy back and forth weather in Chicago these past couple weeks. Right after the new year, the temps were frigid. This weekend, it was 50 degrees and sunny! The rest of the time, we’ve been in between it all.

This chilly weather usually means a go-to pair of black jeans for your girl, but I’ve tried to break that pattern a little more this year with a few dresses in the mix! Today, I’m sharing my favorite one – a sweater swing dress, with a subtle turtle neck from Old Navy.

favorite winter dress

Thanks Benavides Photography!

Saturday afternoon Eric and I had no plans (wahooo!), so we did a bit of shopping in Chicago’s Southport neighborhood. This dress, which happens to be the best combo of stylish and comfy, transitioned perfectly from the baby shower I attended in the morning, to our afternoon out on the town.

Those who know me know this wine hue is my favorite fall/winter tone. Not only is it the color of my dress, it’s also on my nails at the moment.

While unfortunately, it seems like this exact color is sold out online at the moment, I’ll tell ya a little secret: I loved this swing dress so much, I actually picked it up in two tones – a gray as well! After all, it’s perfect for work too.

(And, if like me, your obsessed with things the color of vino – this cardi also caught my eye.)

favorite winter dress

favorite winter dress

favorite winter dress

Dress | Coat (similar) | Bracelet | Tote

I wore this maroon beauty with tights (fleece-lined, a must!), black booties, and a dainty bracelet by Kendra Scott. Did you know during your birthday month you get 50% a piece of your choice at Kendra??

I’ve blogged that coat before – I think it might be one of my favorite purchases ever. It sadly always sells out quickly in the fall, but I’ve linked to a similar one here. This tote is an accessories staple!

Where do you find some of your favorite winter pieces??

Hope you had a lovely weekend, friends! Here’s to making it a great week.

Days By Day

2018 goals

Well, we’re three weeks in, so let me be one of the last to say Happy New Year, friends!

This is my first post in 2018, so while the time for new year’s shenanigans may have past, we’re rolling with it for today.

I always love January. For one, it’s my birthday month and I feel like loving your birthday month is kind of a given. Aside from that, once New Year’s Day comes, it truly feels like a clean breath of fresh air. We’re all going, going, going with the holidays, that when January finally arrives, it’s like whew! we needed this.

It’s a time for dreaming and goal-setting. A time for self-reflection and motivation. A time for cozying up on the couch to hide from the cold with a good book or movie. And one of my favorite parts, a time for planning new travels.

Two weekends ago, we celebrated my birthday in a Michigan cabin full of friends for the third year – it definitely brings feelings of gratitude and excitement for what’s ahead.

2018 goals

So while it’s no secret around here I’m a big dreamer and lover of adventure, I often times don’t do a good enough job for myself at explicitly writing out all those things I’m after. (Did you know you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goals by writing them down?)

And in 2018, I want to ensure I’m really spending times doing the things I love, and that I’m growing and learning throughout the months.

With that, I figured a post spilling out my 2018 goals and dreams couldn’t be more fitting! Here are some things I’m striving for this year

  • Being intentional & mindful. With each moment, am I doing whatever it is with with real attention and purpose? Am I loving others well and truthfully? Am I pursuing my goals and dreams full force, and not letting fear stop me? I want these questions at the forefront this year. I want to consciously be present and live with deliberate passion.

2018 goals

  • Give abundantly. This year, I want to serve more: in my city, in my church, etc. I want to find organizations that allow me to impact those things big on my heart – women, young girls, animals (you guys know I’m pup obsessed).

 

  • Travel to my bucket list of American cities. E & I think a big international trip is in store for us come 2019, so this year we want to save up and plan trips to the U.S. cities on our list – including Portland, Seattle, Boston, Miami, Scottsdale, & Nashville. Any and all recos are welcomed!

2018 goals

  • Read 20 books. I have always loved to read, but when life has gotten busy, this hobby of mine has slowed down all too much. I no longer want that to be an excuse and have big ambitions for the year. I just finished my first pick – The Glass Castle.

 

  • Spend time in the Word. The other day, I read something a girlfriend sent me that focused on how I planned to grow spiritually in 2018. It helped me realize how important, or more important, it is to set spiritual goals (just as we set physical, financial goals, etc.) since it feeds into everything else I do! This year, I want to sit in God’s word regularly.

2018 goals

  • Making moves with my passions: writing & event planning. Two things I have always loved, but have fallen even more in love with in the past few years as I’ve built my blog, planned our wedding, and helped others with theirs. I can always feel myself grow antsy when I’m away from the blog for awhile and time fills up with the day-to-day, but I want to brush out any fear of success and be intentional with time towards these passions.

 

  • Figuring out our next move. E & I have talked forever about living abroad. While we aren’t packing up and leaving Chicago tomorrow by any means, we know within a year or so, we should figure things out so we can really set a plan in motion.

Here’s to making 2018 a year of growing, learning, and investing in what we care about most! What is one of your goals for the year?

Excited to cheer each other on.

men's wooden watch

Hi there, friends! It’s been pretty quiet around here, but if you follow along on Insta, you may have seen why…Eric and I have been hard at work these last couple months on his photography website!

It definitely took some trial and error, but it has been so rewarding. I love that we’ve got a fresh space to showcase his beautiful work.

Now, that whole journey could be another post, but today I’m talking about E for a whole other reason – holiday gifting with JORD! After all his hard work this fall, I knew I wanted to treat him to a special surprise this season.

You might remember from earlier this year that I’m already a fan of JORD’s wooden watches. Unique accessories that are both practical and stylish?? Yes, please. So when they reached out to fill me in on some new styles, Christmas came early for E.

men's wooden watch

men's wooden watch

This sweet husband of mine definitely loves a good watch. He’s been gifted a couple over the years, but nothing quite like this cool timepiece from JORD’s newest collection, the Hyde series.

Each JORD watch is made from 100% natural, hand-finished woods. E’s watch in particular is minimalism at its best, featuring a striking black face, metal tipped hands, and a walnut wood band.

 

men's wooden watch

men's wooden watch

Aside from their sophisticated look, I love how these pieces can easily be dressed up or down. Eric can pair it with casual weekend outfits as we explore Christmastime in the city, but also dress it up for the holiday parties and family outings to come later this month!

Landing on this watch was no easy task, there was a whole special selection of men’s wood watches at JORD to choose from. They also have a killer collection of elegant woman’s watches too. With the variety of finishes and colors, there’s honestly something for everyone.

You can check out the one I had to have for myself here!

men's wooden watch

 

Eric’s Watch | Men’s Watches | Women’s Watches

Thinking one of these unique timepieces might make the perfect gift for a special someone this season?

Or that it might be time to #treatyoself to some stylish new arm candy??

Then you’re in luck – I’m so excited to have partnered with JORD to provide you a limited time 25% off code for your holiday shopping! Simply fill out this form and your offer instantly goes to your inbox.

{Get your exclusive 25% off code!}

Psst! Friendly reminder: Your code will expire on December 19, 2017.

Which watch is your favorite?? Tell me in the comments below!

Wishing you a happy December and lots of luck with your holiday shopping checklist!

guide to new york city

Last month, Eric and I visited The Big Apple to spend time with friends and explore the city for his first visit! While I had been multiple times, it was exciting to see everything through fresh eyes with E.

It’s no secret that we have a constant case of the travel bug (ex: Jamaica, San Francisco, London, Madison), so visiting some of my NYC favorites while finding new ones together was lots of fun.

Below is the guide to New York City I pulled together in hopes that it comes handy if you’ve got a trip in your future!

Times Square (Night + Day) // This famous spot is a spectacle at any time of day, but I honestly prefer it at night! We got in late and ended up walking through Times Square around 11:30 pm, when it was a little less busy than evening primetime right before and after broadway shows. Seeing all the lights and different people gathered to Oooo and Aww is truly something else!

guide to new york city

To that point though, it’s worth seeing during the day too! Since it gets so crowded and tourist heavy, I’ve never stayed for too long at once. If you’ve gone, when’s  your favorite time to see it?

PIZZA // You know how they say dolla make me holla? Well that’s true here. I was told anytime I see a sign for dollar pizza, do it – and I’ll tell you the same thing. I actually prefer NYC style pizza (large, hand tossed thin-crust) to Chicago deep dish (shhhh, don’t tell!). There’s various spots for it all around Manhattan, especially around the Times Square area.

guide to new york city

E and I straight up walked to two $1.00 locations for dinner one night. We’re so fancy, I know. Keep in mind, quality varies of course, and for even just a few bucks you can get a slice with more toppings.

All I’m saying is tasty pizza for cheap? SOLD.

Empire State Building // Probably my favorite touristy thing on my guide to New York City! Nothing beats these views from the middle of Manhattan, giving you a breathtaking sights on all sides. In addition to the views, the history throughout the tour is fun to learn about – especially for engineers like E!

guide to new york city

Dress (blog post) | Jacket

guide to new york city

guide to new york city

I’d recommend buying your tickets before hand and going earlier in the morning. Eric and I showed up around 9:00 am on a Friday with no major waits.

Statue of Liberty // If you’ve only got time for a couple famous attractions, this is the other I’d recommend in addition to the Empire State! You get two for one – the Statue of Liberty + Ellis Island – with your ticket and the cruise out to the islands includes spectacular views of the NYC skyline that people pay way more for elsewhere. Lady Liberty is just so iconic, it was a classic E had to see without hesitation!

Cruise time slots book up ahead of time, so I’d recommend buying tickets a few weeks out. Tip: Time on your ticket is when you arrive to go through security, not when your cruise takes off!

guide to new york city

guide to new york city

guide to new york city

Thanks to my resident photographer + husband at Benavides Photography for most of the snaps you’ll see in this post!

The Shop at NBC Studios (Rockefeller Center) // If you are a major fan of any NBC shows (think Friends, Parks & Rec, The Office, SNL, etc.), then you have to stop at this store inside Rockefeller Center – another famous building and plaza to at least walk by in itself! The NBC store has memorabilia for every show out the wazoo. Did you guys hear E and I are the new Today show hosts?

guide to new york city

E’s Married AF shirt (I have one too, it’s our fave!)

guide to new york city

Central Park // It’s huge and it’s beautiful! Give yourself a couple hours to walk around and get lost, but don’t plan on covering the whole thing. Keep a look out for some cool rocky spots where you can get great photos of the city behind you and the Imagine Mosaic in honor of John Lennon.

guide to new york city

Top (previous post)

guide to new york city

guide to new york city

Levain Bakery // While your by Central Park, you have to stop by this little bakery and get the BEST COOKIES EVER! Seriously, the only explanation for these treats is magic. Just kidding, but maybe. Don’t let the line fool you, it went by fairly fast when we were there and the chocolate chips are waiting.

guide to new york city

Brooklyn // I highly recommend carving out time in your trip to visit Brooklyn! Just walking around you’ll find lots of unique shops and restaurants (ex: Walter’s cute brunch, Bittersweet coffee). If nothing else, you should at least walk across the bridge for some beautiful views – was and still remains one of my favorite things in the city!

guide to new york city

guide to new york city

On the Brooklyn side of the bridge, you’ll find Le Bagel Delight in Dumbo (omg delicious at these breakfast bagel, you guys) and this famous spot at Washington and Water Streets! A photographer’s (aka E’s) heaven.

guide to new york city

Laduree // This macaroon shop that originated in Paris is the real deal and has two locations in NYC. We swung by the Soho location to sample a tasty treat! You can also sit in their beautiful garden patio for some champagne. Perfect if you’ve been walking around all day and need a boost!

guide to new york city

Broadway // You can’t go to NYC for the first time (or anytime in my book) without seeing a show on Broadway! From timeless classics (Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, or Lion King) to more recent hits (Hamilton, Book of Mormon, Dear Evan Hansen), I feel like there’s something for everyone.

E and I love Broadway shows and wanted to see something new for us both. We ended up at Cats, which was veryyy interesting. The costumes and dancing were amazing, and while it’s a classic, we did both find it a little odd, so it wouldn’t be my first recommendation haha. I would, without a doubt, suggest one of those I mentioned above!

guide to new york city

Tip: If you aren’t set on one show, save money by showing up at one of TKTS booths around the city (we always go to the Times Square location) and purchasing discounted same-day theatre tickets!

Other Spots To Consider:

Grand Central Station // This is such a pretty New York spot. From details like the starry ceiling to the antique feeling departure counters, it’s worth checking out if you’ve got a thing for buildings with character.

guide to new york city

Thanks Rach for this pic! 

9/11 Memorial // This if of course a special place to honor those our country lost on this terrible day. It is beautifully done and emanates sweet feelings of hope and love.

guide to new york city

Wall St. // A famous spot to check off your business savvy person’s checklist – or if you’re all about that woman power and want a pic with the Fearless Girl.

guide to new york city

Now I want to hear from you! Been before and have other good spots I should add to my list next time? Tell me in the comments!

Days By Day

 

P.S. A special announcement related to E’s photography coming soon. 🙂 Sharing a couple black & white behind-the-scenes favorites from his NYC snaps in the meantime!

guide to new york city

guide to new york city