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?


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


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!

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.

how to help after harvey

My heart has been heavy this past week. Watching family, friends, the rest of the Houston community, and neighboring areas suffer from Chicago has been difficult.

My heart has also swelled with Texas pride as I’ve watched people and organizations across the state stand strong and rush to help each other. Seeing the country rally together to provide support and relief has also been a sweet note of hope.

Those who know me know as much as I love traveling, home is always near and dear to my heart. Granted, there are of course some things about Texas that need changing, but I’ve learned that’s the case with most places. The love for my home state will never fade. It’s home.

As we’ve watched the devestation Hurricane Harvey has brought unfold in the media, we are feeling especially far. Eric and I, along with our fellow Houstonians up north, have been hurting for our communities and looking for opportunities to help.

How to Help After Harvey

That being said, I’ve rounded up a list of goods that give back 100% of their proceeds to Harvey relief efforts, as well as organizations that you can donate to and help after Harvey.

Goods That Give Back

how to help after harvey

Texas Forever shirt from Magnolia Market

how to help after harvey

Don’t Mess with Texas candle (and this Howdy Y’all one) from The Burlap Bag

how to help after harvey

Texas Print Art (digital download) from Polish and Plume

how to help after harvey

Texas Isaiah 43:2 tee (or this Texas Strong one) from Sweet Southern Love

how to help after harvey

Texas Strong Pet Bandana from Asher & Gray (Note: 50% of proceeds donated)

Organizations Doing Good

NPR put together this awesome, comprehensive list of organizations you can contribute to. I’ve pulled out a handful below I was interested in when researching, and have linked directly to the Harvey efforts on their site.

General Relief: GlobalGiving, JJ Watt’s Houston Flood Relief Fund

General Relief/Donating Blood: The Red Cross

Food: Feeding Texas, Houston Food Bank

Animals: SPCA of TexasAustin Pets Alive!

Lastly, thank you to all who have reached out regarding my family in the area. They are safe and dry in our pocket of town. We are beyond thankful and ready to serve.

how to help after harvey


The sun came out this week, and the rain has stopped for now. While the road to recovery may be long, for this sweet reminder of God’s presence and hope, I am thankful.

“When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you…” – Isaiah 43:2

Squeeze your loved ones, friends!

xo dayna


Texas Wildflower title image sourced here.

summertime in Chicago

Happy June, friends! AKA HAPPY SUMMER CHICAGO. Is there a more appropriate photo to represent this feeling than a movie in the park + rosé?

Well, fingers crossed, this beautiful mid-70 degree weather is here to stay.

I’m not gonna lie, y’all. May was tough, and that’s why I’ve been MIA these last few weeks. Eric and I had to go home unexpectedly for a series of unfortunate events, ranging from surgery to the loss of loved ones – the hardest being my family’s ten year old sweet pup, Gordo, to cancer.

If you’ve lost a pet before, than I know you know how it feels. There are just no words. They are true family members that grow up along side us.

summertime in Chicago

All that being said, the quality time with our families was so, so good and the break from everything else was much needed.

Now that we’re feeling recharged, it’s back to groovin’ and we are ready for summertime in Chicago! The people are out and about, ready to break out of their winter hibernation. It’s a pretty magical feeling – one that makes this city so special.

To celebrate this sweet new season around the corner, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite signs that it’s finally here in The Windy City.

{Paleteria Carts on the Beach} // Bring your cash folks! There’s nothing I love more on a warm Chicago day than hitting up the paleteria vendors on the beach. The authentic Mexican ice cream treats you can find are unbeatable and so delicious – my favorite are the cookies and cream popsicles!

summertime in Chicago

Spoiler alert: These treats can ruin exercise intentions, because sometimes you can’t help but stop for one. Oh, maybe that’s just me?

{Street Festivals} // To me, this is a quintessential sign of summertime in Chicago – street fests on street fests each week. Everyone has been locked up for 8 months, so now every weekend you can find multiple festivals happening across the city.

summertime in chicago

From the best hot dog round up to traditional German celebrations, there’s always something to explore! The best parts? Festivals are often free and come with awesome live music.

Side note: Tuesday movies in the park might not technically count as festivals, but they’re in this same category of awesomeness for us!

{Beaches & Balls} // This one’s pretty straightforward – the warmer it gets, the more packed the beaches get. Our favorite way to spend a Saturday includes tunes, snacks, and back-to-back sand volleyball games.

summertime in Chicago

It’s a strange concept to be laying out on the sand and turning around to a skyline, but it sure is pretty! (Also, confirming this is actual footage from a ChiTown beach.)

{Legs} // Until this month, I literally don’t think I had shown my legs outside since October? Well, except when I desperately ran to the drug store next to us for a dessert craving.

You know when those dresses, shorts, and skirts start showing up all over town, it’s a good sign. And sometimes, you just have to wear them and freeze a little because mind > matter.

summertime in Chicago

{Happy Pups} // It’s a sad sight to see all the cold doggies outside freezing their little bootys off with the rest of us during the winter because they have no choice – they gotta do their business!

That being said, you an tell it’s a good day when all the dogs are out with big smiles instead of pet sweaters. Running in the park, wind in their hair – Chicago summer pups are really living their best lives.

summertime in Chicago

Honoring Gordo with a photo from him soaking up the sun on Fourth of July a few years back. I know he would’ve freakin’ loved summertime in this city.

Now, I’m hoping I totally didn’t just jinx us with all this talk! What are the key signs of summer where you live??

Days By Day

five years

Happy Monday, friends! No start of the week blues over here today, because it’s a special milestone for Eric and I. We’re celebrating five years together and we’re pretty excited about it.

This past Saturday also marked six months of marriage, so I guess you could say the past few days have been full of all the extra giddy feels.

E and I are by no means relationship experts, but after reflecting on these five years, we couldn’t help but think back on all that we’ve learned. The more we got to chatting, the more I realized there were a solid five lessons we were most passionate about when it came to our relationship.

five years

Since I’m always one for learning and growing, it was important to me to take time to reflect and share these nuggets E and I hold strong to.

So here they are folks, our five lessons for five years!


{Celebrate the little stuff.}

I know some people might be chuckling at the thought of us making a big deal out of six months of marriage, but hey, that’s exciting to us! Half-way through our first year?! Time flies and we’re loving every minute of it.

My whole point here is even if it might be a smaller milestone, or a less significant event, always find reasons to celebrate! An anniversary (no matter how long), pretending to be adults with your very own phone plan, heck, even having enough willpower to only eat out once during the work week…if it’s a big deal to you, then it’s worth calling out.

five years

Our go-to is usually the donut shop at our corner, picking up a bottle of wine for dinner at home, or a good ol’ mini dance party. The point is take a second to cheer about the little stuff – it keeps life fun and exciting!

{Having different opinions is a good thing.}

E and I don’t agree on everything. We have different view points on a lot of things and I think that’s healthy. It brings fresh perspectives to our conversations and challenges us to learn from each other. It also encourages a healthy dose of respect.

I think being generally aligned in core beliefs is always a good thing, but thinking differently helps us grow and stay open minded.

five years

{Work towards your goals together and encourage each other.}

This goes for individual goals and mutual ones. I’m passionate about writing and blogging. Eric has really dived into his love for photography this year. We both get really excited in cheering each other on as we pursue these hobbies – and we keep each other accountable in not giving up.

This could look like us both heading to a coffee shop in the evening to knock out some posts or editing, giving one another honest feedback, or just reminding each other that we are kicking butt and making progress when we feel discouraged.

five years

All this applies to our mutual goals too. E and I want to move abroad in a few years. We would love to have our own business one day and/or be able to work from wherever our adventures might take us. We know these things take time and will challenge us, but how cool that we can work towards them as a team??

{You should always be “dating.”}

Even though we’re married, we still consider ourselves to be dating.

Dating, to me, means always striving to learn more about each other – after all, we’re still changing and growing with age. It means it’s important to carve out time for just us, without distractions or stresses. It means we genuinely love spending time together, and making each other feel noticed and cherished.

five years

Whether it’s planning special date nights that are more than just a dinner out, surprising each other with new adventures, or sharing sweet compliments – keeping the dating mindset alive is something we strive to do.

{Make each other the priority.}

This one’s pretty straight forward. Aside from our relationship with God, E and I’s number one priority is the other person. No matter what. Period.

As husband and wife, we’re committed to taking care of each other. We know if our relationship isn’t solid, than the other things around us will suffer. We make the choice daily to love the other unconditionally and invest in our relationship. In turn, we can love others well and focus on our other priorities together.

five years


I’m currently sitting across from E, dressed in a red plaid button up and a backwards Cubs hat, and thinking about how freakin’ awesome (and handsome) he is. Thankful for this human and the fact that I’m the lucky lady who gets to spend forever with him.

Have your own relationship lessons to share?? I’d love to hear ’em! As I said, always learning and growing – that’s my jam.

Days By Day