To Halloween or Not To Halloween

to those that like this holiday, Happy Halloween! to those that don't really care about it, Happy Thursday!

i'll be honest, i fall into that second category. i liked Halloween up until the point that it became socially unacceptable for me to go up to strangers' homes and ask for candy. for free. "he said, it's fo free!" (all you Bridesmaids lovers probably appreciated that, didn't you?) anywho, all hallow's eve ain't really my thang no mo', so i won't be doing anything to celebrate. and even if i was, i'd probably get pretty annoyed with the crowds everywhere tonight, so yeah. however, if i was dressing up, you guys know that i would be a cat. i'm considering just dressing up as one to hang around my apartment tonight...because that's pretty much my idea of fun these days.

there is a rather significant part of me that wishes i lived in a place where tiny children dressed up as ridiculous things would be knocking on my door and begging for candy. but then again, i'd rather not spend $15 on a bag of candy that i'll be passing out for free.

outfit details
grey tank: Cotton On
flannel: Old Navy (similar)
leather jacket: Kenneth Cole Outlet
leggings: Hot Mama
boots: Target
scarf: World Market (similar)
purse: Kate Spade 

Giveaway // Delezhen

remember this blog post, where i showed off my beautiful new gemstone ring from Delezhen? no lie, i have worn the ring every day since i received it in the mail. it's gorgeous, delicate, and goes with everything. i tend to feel naked if i'm not wearing a ring (or rings), so this one has quickly become my go-to. it instantly glams up an outfit, which i love.
well, guess WHAT! one lucky winner will get their very own Pink Chalcedony ring. yep, you read that right. as if their jewelry isn't gorgeous enough, they have another fabulous etsy shop, Delezhen Charmed, which is filled with more gorgeous and delicate jewels that i'm swooning over. oh, you too? glad i'm not alone!

be sure to follow all the beauty on facebook, twitter, instagram, and pinterest. enter the giveaway below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Layered Up

i'm a big fan of layering clothes. until about a year ago, i used to wear a cami under every single thing i wore. it was a second skin to me and felt so weird to just throw on a tee.

i'm not really sure how it changed, but i stopped wearing one every day. however, that's not to say that i don't layer things anymore. i'm still the queen in that department. i like the way layers look and feel.

now that i'm living in the city, layers are an essential component to my fall wardrobe. long sleeves, sweatshirts, vests and scarves are my friends. i layered up nice and good for a chilly Saturday at Lincoln Park Zoo with my boyfriend. we wanted to grab a quick lunch at Jam 'n Honey, but there was a bit of a wait and we were pretty starving, so we walked a block over to Homeslice and enjoyed some pizza. (which, by the way, they have real good thin crust pizza). we headed to the zoo, with very clear goals of which animals were necessary to see. for Mike, it was the monkeys. for me, the cats. surprise, surprise.

i want to take a second and thank the good people of Lincoln Park Zoo for allowing it to be free. there's not much that's better than a fun afternoon activity that you can do for free. am i right?
this outfit now has a special place in my heart because it's the one i was wearing when i made eye contact with a giant gorilla. pretty sure he looked straight into the depths of my soul. unfortunately for me, i'm not sure if he liked what he saw because, after our deep connection, he swiftly made his way to the other side of his habitat. or maybe that was because the keeper was offering him lettuce on that side. it could go either way.

outfit details
hoodie: H&M (old)
vest: American Eagle (similar)
scarf: Hot Mama (similar)
purse: Jessica Simpson (similar)
jeans: Target (similar)
boots: Target (similar)

The Sister Effect

i was at my sister's over the weekend when she filmed her October FAQ video, so i decided to join in the fun. this was the result. note: this is entirely unscripted and gives you a pretty accurate view of what our time together is like.

we're conspiring ways to do a monthly video, if you happened to enjoy this, you're in luck (hopefully!). there may be more of this nonsense coming your way in the future.

happy monday!

Giveaway // The Simply Swift Blog

today's giveaway comes from Annmarie of The Simply Swift Blog. Annmarie has a beautiful blog and is a very talented photographer.

seeing as she loves Target just about as much as i do (doesn't everyone?), she's giving one lucky winner a $25 gift card to spend on whatever her little heart desires. PLUS, the lucky rascal gets two sets of notecards, which i would be thrilled to win. i'm a compulsive paper product buyer - journals, notebooks, notecards...just about anything. i love it.
be sure to check out Annmarie's blog, facebook, bloglovin', twitter, and instagram.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

High Five for Friday

happy friday, my little shish kabobs! hope you've all had a great week. mine has gone by pretty quickly, which i'm not mad about. i have huge plans to relax and do nothing of value this weekend. exciting things happening around here, people.

let's take a look back at my favorite things from the week, shall we?

1. i loved getting to spend the weekend and beginning of the week with my sister. and i get to see her again so soon! hip hip!
2. i've recently gotten involved in a small group at a church in the city and have really enjoyed it so far! it's been awhile since i've been part of one, so i'm glad to be getting back into the swing of things and hopefully make some new friends!

3. the cats were so beyond thrilled for my return home on monday. like, beyond. they wouldn't leave my side while i unpacked and slept. also, i returned home to WINTER. straight up, 40 degrees. not okay. milo noticed the drop in temperature and really appreciates being blasted with the heat. so much so that he lays directly in the line of heat blast and soaks it all in.
4. my roommate and i are finally getting our butts into gear and finishing up the furnishing of our apartment. we've ordered a few things and are still on the hunt for some others, but it's coming together. once it is, i'll be sure to share some photos with you all (since i know you really care).

5. i grabbed dinner with a new friend earlier this week. we went to Antique Taco in Wicker Park and it was delish. if you live in the city, be sure to check it out!

how has your week been? link up below and tell me about it!

The Boyfriend Sweater

the product and post below have been sponsored by Gracie B. as part of their "Transitioning Into Fall" campaign. 
However, all opinions are my own. 

the concept we're going to talk about today is one that i've mentioned before: versatility. seeing as i don't have an endless wardrobe budget, i have to buy things that can transition well between seasons and across styles. now that Chicago is in full-blown Fall season, i'm finally able to bring out all of my sweaters. i love fall and winter for layering sweaters over my sleeveless and shortsleeve tops. the layering allows me to wear my spring/summer clothes year round, which leaves money for new items each season. which makes me a happy little shopper.

Gracie B. sent me this really cute and versatile Boyfriend Sweater to style two ways for Fall. the most versatile thing about it is that it's neutral, so i can pair it with some color and change the whole look of the sweater. for a day at my internship or dinner with friends, i'd pair the sweater with dark wash jeans, a silky top, and some comfortable flats.

for a more casual (and my go-to style) look, i paired the sweater with a graphic tee, simple necklace, and booties. this is an outfit i'd wear on the weekends or running errands.

do you have some versatile pieces in your closet that can translate well from season to season and look to look? if not, consider this sweater! Gracie B. is having a flash sale today only for this little beauty! originally $70, you can snatch it for $54.95 today only (12am 10/24-12am 10/25). get 'em while they're hot! (purchase here!)

outfit #1 details:
sweater: Gracie B.
top: Nordstrom Rack
jeans: Old Navy
flats: J.Crew Factory (similar)
necklace: Elisabeth Ashlie Jewelry

outfit #2 details:
sweater: Gracie B.
tee: Old Navy
jeans: LOFT
booties: Kohl's
necklace: gift

Wedding Wear

as i mentioned earlier this week, i attended a wedding last weekend in North Carolina. i was having the hardest time trying to figure out what to wear, until i spotted this dress at J.Crew Factory a couple weeks ago. i happen to already own some leggings with the same polka dot print, so i knew this dress was necessary to add to my wardrobe. it ended up being a bit chillier that day than expected, so i decided to pair the dress with tights and booties. 

can we also take a second to talk about this gorgeous gemstone ring from Delezhen? i've had the ring in my "favorites" section on Etsy for about 6 months and would go back to look at it every once in awhile. it's just so darn beautiful.

i've worn it every day since i received it about a week and a half ago, and don't have any plans to stop wearing it. it's delicate, beautifully made, and has quickly become a staple in my jewelry collection.

to stay up to date on all things Delezhen, you can follow them on facebook, twitter, pinterest, and instagram.

other outfit details:
dress: J.Crew Factory
belt: Hot Mama
tights: Old Navy
booties: Nine West via Marshall's
wallet: Kate Spade
earrings: Kate Spade

Back from Va-cay

it's always a little (sometimes a lot) sad to return home after spending time away. it's especially rotten when the forecast includes a chance of snow. SNOW. for the record, i did not sign up for snow before Christmas. so, pay attention, mother nature. anywho, i'm a pretty serious homebody and miss my cats terribly when i'm not home with them. i'm the kind of person that actually looks forward to returning home to a routine and to normal activities, instead of dreading it. i just got home last night from a long weekend in North Carolina with my sister. gosh, i love that state.

as you probably know, i moved from there about 2 months ago. this was my first time being back since then and i was curious to see how it would feel. i wasn't sure if i would feel like a resident again, or a tourist. unexpectedly, it was somewhere in between. it's hard for me to believe that i liked there just two short months ago, but it also felt like second nature to be driving around and going to places i used to frequent during my time there. all i know is that i like that my sister still lives there because that's a pretty perfect excuse to go bak and visit. oh, and when that baby arrives, Kate is going to have to drag me, kicking and screaming, to the airport when i have to leave after visits. actually, i'll probably have to pry her off of of me when she drops me off. it's going to get ugly, i know that much. thank God for modern technology and cheap flights, am i right?!
i enjoyed spending time with Kate, just me and her. i actually can't remember the last time her and i spent a weekend together, just the two of us. we made breakfasts and dinners, watched movies, played with the cats (who woulda guessed), and did some casual shopping, as we often do, among other things. we attended a friend's wedding on Sunday evening, which she did the hair for (it turned out beautifully!). Monday was spend turning me into a redhead (sorta) and decorating her house for Halloween.
i had pretty much only one goal for the entire weekend, which was to get my "signature dinner" from CookOut, the best fast food place. it consists of fries and a milkshake (i'm the picture of health, i know). the weekend was rapidly coming to an end and i had yet to enjoy this masterpiece and was getting a bit worried. thankfully, i have a sister who appreciates and enjoys signature dinners just about as much as i do, so we snuck one in on Sunday night, and it was everything i hoped it would be and more. just plain delicious. i'm really not one for fast food, but i am one for french fries and milkshakes.

Beauty Box 5 - September

i think my most recent Beauty Box 5 is my favorite, so far. (have i said that before?) it came filled with items that i was excited to receive and try.
1. make up remover -- i love that these are dry to start. just add water and remove makeup! they're great for travel, too!

2. fly ties -- i have quite a collection started of these ties and am happy to add some blues to the family

3. eye cream -- this stuff makes my skin feel oh so very soft. i try to keep good care of my undereyes, so this eye cream will help ward off those fine lines that are sure to come

4. lip drench -- makes my lips feel very hydrated and smells good, too!

5. shimmer powder -- this adds a nice little glow to my cheeks and eyelids for a different nighttime look!

i love getting to sample new beauty products every month. interested? sign up for your very own box here!

Giveaway // Ooh Baby Designs

today's giveaway comes from Stephanie of Ooh Baby Designs. Stephanie's shop is full of handmade infinity scarves and totes, among other things. i love her eye for pattern and color - it makes her scarves and totes really fun and unique.

some of my favorite products of hers include the houndstooth scarf, the ikat tribal vintage scarf, this chevron scarf bundle, the leopard camo and grey scarf, and the chevron and dot scarf.

Stephanie gifted me with the black and white tribal scarf and i love it! it's lightweight, so it's great if you're not into the chunky scarf thing or if you get too toasty while wearing one! it's the perfect pop to an outfit, especially if you're not feeling like wearing a necklace. i paired mine with a grey tee and jeans for a day of running errands!
want to win a chevron scarf of your choice? use the giveaway tool below to enter!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

High Five for Friday

hidey hoe, chickadees! coming to you from the great land of North Carolina, where it feels like i never even left. this week has pretty much flown by, so let's review my favorite things that happened:

1. i always love when traveling goes smoothly and is totally uneventful, which is what i experienced yesterday. the most eventful thing was arriving in NC and realizing that i was way over-dressed. the weather is nice here still.
2. i think Chicago has officially decided that it's fall, which i'm actually pretty thrilled about. my sweater collection is rapidly growing and also rapidly growing impatient as it sits in my closet

3. so, these cats. they like warm things. and they like to snuggle. put the two together and they're in heaven.
4. i'm thrilled to get more hang out time with my sister. it's been so weird to not live in the same city the past couple months, so it's great to spend some QT together.

5. i was able to spend a rainy Tuesday inside catching up on work for my blog and jewelry shop.  it was cozy and productive and actually really relaxing.
how has your week been? link up below and tell me about it!

Off Again!

i'm headed off to North Carolina this morning to spend the weekend with Kate (we just didn't get enough of each other last weekend!), Carrie, and attend a friend's wedding. i've been anxiously awaiting my return to that great state and have often wondered if it will feel like i'm going "home" after a long vacation, or if it will feel like i'm just visiting. i have a feeling it will be more like the first option, but we shall see. i'm excited to drive past my old apartment and stroll through the Target that i spent hours and many dollars at. that place was my jam. 

{image via}

You're Pretty Cool, Chicago

i can't believe it's already been about a month and a half since i moved into my apartment in Chicago. i used to wonder what my life would be like here back when i was living in North Carolina and, i gotta say, it's pretty much as i expected it would be. there haven't really been any big surprises as far as schedules and routines go, but i've definitely learned some things so far.

like, for instance, that i actually really enjoy using public transportation. apart from the sometimes strong odors and strange encounters, i love the convenience and the fact that it makes me feel like i'm really living in a city and belong here.

also, grocery shopping isn't nearly as big of a pain as i thought it would be. i'm thankful to be within 6 blocks of a variety of grocery stores, so the walk isn't bad. also, i have a bag with wheels that i bring with so i don't have to lug my groceries around the city. that cart from Ikea has really changed my life, i tell ya.

i've learned my way around pretty quickly and can actually tell which direction i'm heading (north, south, etc.) most of the time. this is a huge step, seeing as i always assumed north was straight in front of me before living here. oh, you do that too? good, i'm not alone!

it's still weird sometimes for me to say that i live in Chicago. my sister and i were talking about that this weekend -- it feels like summer went by so quickly and, before we knew it, i was leaving North Carolina. now i've already been here a month and a half, i can't believe it! sometimes it feels like everything has happened so quickly that i haven't even had time to process it.

at the most random times and in the most random places, i'll get this overwhelming, all-encompassing feeling of homesickness for North Carolina. it just washes over me and almost stops me dead in my tracks, every single time. there must be little, unnoticeable things that trigger it. i love this new experience and new chapter in my life (so far), but there are days that i long for that Carolina sun to shine on me and to be back in my apartment with my roommate or hanging out with Kate at the drop of a hat. i really had no idea just how much i loved and appreciated that place until i moved away.
i've pretty much been in denial about the fact that i will have to suffer through Chicago winters, once again. i lived in the area until i was 21 and made the brilliant decision to move South to the land of mild winters. i haven't ever experienced living in the actual Windy City during the brutal months of January, February, and March, though. darn you, sideways snow and whipping wind. you may make me regret this. i DID however purchase a long winter coat, which is basically a bodysuit -- covers from neck to ankle. that should do the job.

overall, i think you're pretty cool, Chicago. keep it up.

tee: J.Crew Factory
sweater: H&M
jeans: Target (similar)
scarf: Hot Mama
shoes: Target
bag: Kate Spade

Baby Shower

there's no relaxing for the guest of honor -- she helped with the game! 
i was honored to throw my sister's baby shower last weekend with my mom. we, along with wonderful friends and family, had a great time celebrating the little guy that's about to change our lives in a few months! we ate delicious food, enjoyed time catching up and chatting, played a shower game that was actually fun (tell me you know what i mean about bridal/baby shower games not usually being the highlight of the party -- or am i alone in that?), and watched Kate open some great gifts. it's hard for me to believe that there's going to be a tiny little person added to our family in just a couple short months!
for details on this game, google "baby shower memory game". or something like that. you'll find it, i promise.

our grandma was an incredibly talented knitswoman (bah! i just made that word up, i think). anywho, she left behind an entire drawerful of handmade baby clothes for her great-grandchildren after she passed. 

love these gals! i can't wait to hold my little nephew soon! also, he's going to be one stylish little dude.

also also, Zara has the cutest baby clothes on the planet. i bought a couple outfits for him, including this TO DIE FOR sweater.

High Five for Friday

hello, young songbirds. (i'm finding the need to address you all collectively, and creatively.) today i get to hang out with my sister and mom in the city and show them what city-life is all about. i'm pretty thrilled. there will be much eating and some shopping and probably lots of instagramming.
1. i like venturing off to new areas on my days off and discovering beautiful views like this one. i sure do love living in this city.
2. Otis. no words required.
3. i can't even tell you how nice it is to no longer be in a long distance relationship. i love this little idiot. if not for him, i wouldn't laugh nearly as much as i do on a daily basis.
4. i re-discovered the glory of cinnamon and sugar on pie crust. my goodness, it is delish.
5. i stopped into Francesca's with a friend on Wednesday, ya know, just checking out the fall collection and what not. i walked out with these 4 beauties. in my defense, they were having a sale. and we all know i can't say no to a sale. (check Francesca's website for items -- not sure if they're up there or not since they're new)

how has your week been? link up below and tell me about it!

Sister Reunion

and on this day, the tenth of October in the two-thousand and thirteenth year, i get to be reunited with this little idiot below after SEVEN weeks. which, to some, will sound like a small amount of time. however, after living within a stone's throw of each other for 2.5 years, seven weeks with no actual face time is a long time.
i'm looking forward to showing her around the city and probably eating too many cupcakes and donuts and gorging on other good foods. because, well, she's pregnant and i love those things. those are my weekend plans.

i can't wait to see her and that bump of hers!

Turkey Chili Mac

i recently discovered the goodness that is ground turkey. i'm reaaaaal weird about eating meat. (my family and close friends are currently nodding in agreement as they're reading this). i like chicken and turkey and salami, and that's about it. i'll eat a steak if it's put in front of me and i'll eat ground beef if it's slathered in marinara sauce or taco seasoning. and that's about it. ANYWHO. i found this recipe on pinterest and wanted to amend it a bit to fit my preferences.
- 1 lb. ground turkey
- box of pasta (any kind you like -- i did macaroni noodles)
- can of corn
- one red pepper, diced
- 12 oz. can of diced tomatoes
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- can of white beans
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- a bit of dry Ranch seasoning from packet (1-2 teaspoons)

- cook pasta according to box directions, drain and set aside
- brown ground turkey in iron skillet, drain and set aside
- heat oil in iron skillet (or one large enough to hold all ingredients)
- add garlic and peppers and saute for 5-7 minutes
- add turkey, tomatoes, broth, corn, beans, pasta and seasonings
- mix well and let simmer for a few minutes

this stuff is divine. it's boyfriend approved, too. enjoy!

Fall Cravings

// a cozy sweatshirt for layering on a brisk Fall day

// a bright crossbody bag to add some color to my strikingly neutral Fall wardrobe

// a pair of simple gemstone studs that i can wear daily

// a deep purple manicure that lasts longer than my craving for a milkshake (just kidding...i'm always craving a milkshake)

// a chunky knit scarf in black and white, of course

what are you craving for Fall?

BYG Hair Mask (Review)

after many, many years of highlighting and heat-styling, my poor little hair is fragile and in need of as much hydration as possible. i've become much more aware of taking good care of it, especially since i stopped highlighting it several months ago. i still heat-style about 4-5 days a week, but i condition it often and do my best to care for it.

when the ladies at Bring Your Glam got in contact with me about trying their hair mask, i couldn't resist the opportunity. i tried it a couple days ago and was pretty impressed with the results. truthfully, i'm always a bit hesitant to try a new product on my hair because i don't know how it will affect my ability to style it like normal, so i just applied the hair mask to the lower half of my hair, about mid-shaft to the ends. it's super easy to use and i think it would exhibit good results after a few uses.

1. start with damp hair. apply the BYG hair mask thoroughly -- you can concentrate it on your most-damaged areas. for me, that's my ends.
2. leave hair mask on for 20 minutes. (i just wrapped mine up and clipped it so that i could finish applying my makeup)
3. rinse hair completely and style as usual.
it's difficult to tell in the photos, but my hair definitely felt softer and styled more easily.

overall, i was happy with the results! as i mentioned before, i think i would be able to see really good results after a few uses, but my first run through was successful enough that i would do it again!

interested in trying the hair mask for yourself? you can purchase it here.

although BYG sent me their hair mask free of charge, all opinions are my own.