High Five for Friday

happy friday, ladies! hope you've all had a great week - mine has gone by incredibly fast because i spent the first half of it in the suburbs with my family. which, by the way, happens to take up most of my list of the five best moments from my week:

1. my sister + nephew were in town for a few days and it was so good to spend time with them. he's just the cutest. she's pretty cute, too ;)

2. now that the Olympics are over, all of my favorite shows are back on TV! it's kind of sad how happy this makes me. Chicago Fire, The Blacklist, SCANDAL, and Chicago PD were all caught up on last night during a legendary TV-catch-up-couch-session. lemme tell you, it was nice

3. out of nowhere, i had an overwhelmingly strong craving for powdered sugar donuts shortly before falling asleep a couple nights ago. i have no idea what triggered it, but i knew that i needed donuts and i needed them soon. because i'm the master of self-restraint and not indulging myself, i bought a box of them the next morning. and they were better than i remember #thisiswhyicantdiet

4. i will have my bare feet in the warm sand of a Florida beach in just 2.5 weeks. OH MY GOSH. 

5. while Kate was in town, we had a lot of time to hang out as a family and do things that we don't normally do, like play board games. my dad is notoriously anti-game in our family, but he was more than willing to play with us one evening. it was a christmas miracle. in case you wondered, Scrabble is way more fun when played while eating a caramel apple.

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

Scenes from Home

table: Ikea | cake stand: Pier 1 | vase: Ikea | candle: Target | flowers: Michael's
jewelry storage: mostly Anthroplogie | glass boxes: Marshall's

i recently did a little re-organizing and revamping in my room while doing some Spring cleaning, mostly of my jewelry collection. i discovered two things: i have a really impressive collection of cat jewelry (see on Instagram) and i prefer to have my jewels 'displayed', as opposed to thrown in boxes or put away. so, there's that. 

i've also realized that if/when i get married and live with a man, it's going to be a real adjustment. for many reasons, but mostly because i can't just decorate for myself...i'll have to, like, consider what he wants. sounds terrible. just kidding...sort of ;)

Blush + White

to show my lack of respect for winter and the fact that it's still hanging around these parts, i'm breaking the rules and wearing white. take that, 17 degrees and 20 mph winds. but seriously, i can't tell you how tired i am of wearing my winter wardrobe. my mom and i are headed to Florida in just a few weeks so my mind is fully on spring/summer clothes. an easy way to start the transition into spring (assuming the weather cooperates) is to pair wintry items with spring items. white pants? spring. blush-colored poncho? winter meets spring. put them together and it's a match made in heaven.

i'm fairly confident that this poncho will be used many a time this spring. i can already picture it with cutoff shorts and wedges or part of a similar look like this one.

LAmade is graciously giving one lucky winner a $200 shop credit to spend on any of their fabulous products! if i won, i'd probably choose this, this, and/or this.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

poncho | c/o LAmade
pants | Target
flats | DSW (similar)
belt | Target
necklace | c/o Vestique (similar)
watch | Kate Spade

Hair History

since i was about 12 years old, i've been coloring, highlighting, and experimenting with my hair. my sister used me as a 'test dummy' throughout cosmetology school, so i've tried quite a few things with my locks. i've always trusted her to do something that will look good and that i'll like, so i haven't really been hesitant when she's suggested things to me, like adding red (which is my current hair!).

i was near-platinum blonde for many, many years. i tried brunette once or twice in high school and college and i just didn't feel it suited me well, so i'd always go back to blonde. now i can't imagine myself with anything but my natural brunette color...funny how preferences change, isn't it? 

so, here's my hair history over the course of about 3 years:

pretty different, eh? i really loved my hair ombré. in fact, i've already decided that i'll probably do something like that for spring/summer to change it up a bit. the thing i love about my hair now is that it's so low maintenance. the top 3/4 is my natural color, so it's pretty darn easy to maintain. i sure don't miss having to get highlights every 6-8 weeks. 

funny story: my ID photo is of me with very blonde hair like, the first few photos, about shoulder length with bangs (insert surprised emoji here). before i hand it over to anyone to check it, i make sure to preface it with 'i promise that's me, i've just changed my hair a bit'. most people don't care, but there are the few that do triple-takes and even a couple that don't believe me. i should probably get a new photo taken, but that means i'd have to go to the DMV, which isn't exactly at the top of my list of things i want to do on a Saturday.

note: photos may not be in perfect chronological order.  

Dressed Up

i have a confession to make: i'm kind of a dress hoarder. i have more dresses in my closet than i know what to do with, and yet i continue to add to my collection. truthfully, i'm not much of a dress-wearer. i tend to feel overdressed, unless i'm attending an event where a dress is necessary. however, this little number changes that. the bold print and cut make it one of those all-purpose dresses. i can see it easily dressed up (like i've styled it here) or more casual with a pair of wedges and a messy braid. 

once the weather is warmer, i'll be more likely to choose from my dresses for daily outfits. ya know, when i'm actually able to have my legs exposed to the air without the possibility of suffering from frostbite or at least severe discomfort. for now, i'll just look at this one with googly eyes.

check out JUNIEblake for a great collection of modest and stylish dresses (and other items!)

dress | c/o JUNIEblake
necklace + earrings | Stella & Dot c/o Ashley
belt + tights | Target
heels | Nine West via Marshall's

High Five for Friday

you guys, i'm thrilled to see Friday. it's been a terribly long week, considering i spent most of it on the couch with a pretty nasty cold. i'm happy to report that i'm finally on the mend! 

although this week hasn't been the most adventurous or productive for me, here's five of my favorite things that happened:

1. my friend Sam, mom and i enjoyed a sleepover at the lake house on Sunday night. we had an interesting time getting back to the city on Monday, seeing as the sky decided to drop about 8" of snow in a matter of hours (oh and ridiculous winds so you couldn't see anything). what is normally an hour and a half trip took closer to six, so that was...interesting. 

2. although i haven't felt well this week, it was pretty nice to have some time to fully relax and recharge.

3. lots of time spent on the couch means lots of snuggles from Otis. and even a few from Milo, the master of the just-out-of-reach positioning on the couch.

4. the past few days that have been in the 40's have been wonderful. i really forgot what it was like to walk out of my apartment and not freeze instantly. i'm so ready for Spring, and i have a feeling many of you are, as well!

5. i did a little online shopping while i was laid up on the couch. with this warmer weather, i'm totally in Spring shopping mode and Forever 21 had just the items i was looking for.
clockwise from left: braided bracelet, link bracelet, crystal posts (similar), drop earringsaqua drop earrings, yellow drop earrings
how has your week been? link up below and tell me about it! 

Beauty Box 5 - February

my February box from Beauty Box 5 arrived just in time! truthfully, i've received that travel pack of antibacterial wipes a few times and usually have one in my purse with me. i just ran out of my last pack and was needing some more when i opened my box to find some. thanks for reading my mind, Beauty Box 5, my hands really appreciate it. 

i received a couple samples for John Frieda Luxurios Volume shampoo + conditioner, which i'm excited to try. i've been using Pureology's Pure Volume for several months now (and don't have many complaints), but i'm always open to new products and like to switch it up every once in awhile. this one just may be a winner! 

for the first time ever, i officially own nail sprinkles. have you guys heard of these before? they're tiny pearls that you can use on your nails to jazz up your manicure. i'm not sure how realistic they are and how long-lasting they'll be, but they could be fun for a girl's night or something. i also really love the shade of pink polish that i received in my box. 

lastly, i received a tube of mascara that i'll probably hand off to my sister. as many of you know, i'm fiercely loyal to CoverGirl's Professional Super Thick Lash so i'm not really in the market for a new one. i suppose i'll try it just to see if it compares to what i'm used to! 

do you receive Beauty Box 5 in the mail? you can sign up here

Spring Whites + Brights

i caught a cold on my flight back to Chicago last week and this thing is no joke. i'm talking swollen glands, feeling like i'm swallowing knives, sneezing constantly, and a tissue graveyard around my apartment. i haven't been sick all winter, so maybe the germs are just combining it all into one for me. 

i've spent plenty of time on the couch the last 24 hours, which has naturally led me to do some online browsing (and some purchasing, let's be real). i did venture out for a bit yesterday, to get some cold medicine and more tissues, and was pleasantly surprised by the 40ish degree weather. in fact, i was a bit overdressed and had to remove a layer or two while at Target. the warmth inspired me to get ready for Spring, even though i'm sure there's plenty more Winter weather that's planning to come to Chicago. i mean, why stop now, ya know? 

i'm finding that i'm really into whites/creams and neons, oddly enough. i actually really dig how they look together, so maybe that's how. and that doesn't apply solely to clothes and accessories, i'm leaning towards all things white and airy for home decor, too.

one | two | three | four | five | six | seven | eight | nine

i've got the shopping bug in a bad, bad way. i also have some other bug, but i'm hoping that one will leave me alone soon. i'll just be over here chugging tea and inhaling Vitamin C.
 hopefully back to regular blog-programming tomorrow. 

Blogging 101: Getting Started

i've received quite a few questions regarding general blogging tips and information about starting a blog, so i want to share my experience with you and what has worked for me. topics like how to get started, growing your readership, monetizing your blog, and utilizing social media will be addressed, but i'm also happy to answer any of your questions that you may have. chances are, if you have a question, someone else probably wants to know the answer, as well.

i don't consider myself an expert on blogging, by any means. in fact, i know that i still have plenty to learn and am always looking for ways to improve my blog. however, i've curated this online resource over the past two and a half years, and have seen great success (much more than i ever expected!) and found so much joy in blogging and sharing my life with my readers. with that being said, please just take my tips and information as suggestions and ideas, not as the only way to do things in blogland. every person is different and every blog is different. what works for me may not work for you, and vice versa. so, with that, let's chat a bit about initial things to consider when starting a blog.

why do you want to start a blog? 
whenever someone tells me they want to start a blog, i ask 'why'? i'm curious as to the reason behind it because that can help to determine whether or not it will be successful*. if someone tells me they want a new way to make money, i may tell them to reconsider (that's something i'll come back to later on when we talk about monetizing your blog). motivations like wanting to share your skills and passions with readers and satisfying the need for a creative outlet are good places to start!

*success in blogging means different things to different people. for me, it means gaining a loyal readership and creating a space that people want to spend some time on a regular basis. success does not necessarily mean that you make money from your blog. of course, that's a nice perk, but it certainly doesn't measure how much hard work and love you put into your blog.

do you have a direction or an area of focus? 
whether it be beauty, food, fashion, interiors, DIY, health, lifestyle, or some other category, do you have an idea of what you'll want to write about? this isn't required, but it can certainly make the first couple months a bit easier. when i first started my blog, it was just a space for me to share whatever was on my mind or what i thought other people would like to read about. although it generally focused on style and home decor, i didn't pinhole myself into a category because i wasn't sure which category i would want to be in. nowadays, i categorize my blog as a 'style and beauty' blog because those are my most talked about categories. (i should probably add 'cat blog' in there, too!) however, i still share the occasional recipe or interior design post. because i have that categorization, it makes brainstorming post ideas a bit easier. when my blog was considered a 'lifestyle' blog, i found that i had some more difficulty deciding what exactly to share and what people would be interested in reading. this won't be the case for everyone. some people need the freedom of a more general category like 'lifestyle' in order to fully express their creativity.

this can change! just like in my experience, your blog will naturally evolve and change as you grow and it grows. you may find that your readers really respond to your personal posts about your family or the recipes that you share, so you may decide to shift your focus to the more popular categories and away from those that don't seem to attract as much attention. if you see yourself possibly being one of these people, the next question is going to be crucial for you!

do you have a name picked out? 
in my opinion, one of the most important aspects of starting a blog is choosing a good name. picking something that is catchy, memorable, and that you can grow with is typically a good start. when i first started, my blog was known as From My Grey Desk Blog (ahhh the good ole days). like i mentioned before, i didn't really have a direction when i started, so i wanted a general name that people could remember. i chose FMGD because i liked that it added a personal touch, like i was interacting directly with my readers from my grey desk to their computer screen. after awhile, i wasn't a big fan of the name anymore. it was longer than i wanted and i didn't like that it started with the word 'from'. (it made it more difficult for people to refer to me because they'd try to say 'Lauren from From My Grey Desk…double from's are not my jam). i decided to change the name about a year ago and i knew i wanted something more personal. you can't get much more personal than your name, so i went with that. alas, Lauren Elizabeth was born. (well, she was born twice…once as a human in December 1989 and once as a blog in the later winter of 2013).

if you don't have a name yet, do you have a topic or area of focus for your blog? if so, maybe pick a name that alludes to that, like The Beauty Department or Gal Meets Glam. no area of focus? think up a name that is creative and one that you can grow with. although it's important to choose a name, you can always change it. although it's not the most recommended route, it can be done. i did it after 2 years into blogging and everything worked out just fine. it may not be the best branding strategy, but if it leads to a more cohesive blog, social presence, and a happier you, then i say go for it! once you have a name or a couple options, ask your friends and family what they think. see how they react and what their opinion is if you're not 100% sure about it.

have you checked username and URL availability? 
once you've decided on a name, check Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, or whatever social media platforms you intend to use to see if a username is available using your blog name. because there are quite a few Lauren Elizabeth's in this world, i had to get a bit creative with my usernames and URL by adding 'the' to the front of my name. so, my URL is thelaurenelizabeth.com and all usernames are the_laureneliza or the_laurenelizabeth. it's not my first choice, but it works! if you find those usernames are available, i suggest reserving them so you don't lose them! once i knew the new name for my blog and my new usernames, i changed everything within 24 hours to make sure they would all still be available.

i've been told on multiple occasions to not search URL and username availabilities too much. apparently there are 'bots' that will reserve them if you don't do it quickly enough. i didn't have this happen to me so i cannot confirm that, but i took those words of caution and didn't risk it. although you don't have to, i highly suggest buying a personal domain name for your URL. i believe it's $10 a year (or somewhere around there) and it's 100% worth it. not only does it create a shorter and more direct URL (no .blogspot.com or .wordpress.com), but it also looks cleaner on business cards, websites, etc.

have a specific question or want me to address a certain topic? leave a comment or shoot me an email!

iPad wallpaper | Aubrey Kinch
notepad | Rifle Paper Co
candle | TJ Maxx

High Five for Friday

happy friday + happy valentine's day! hope your day is full of love and stuff. i returned home from Raleigh last evening after a good visit with my sister and nephew. i was looking forward to a little getaway with warmer weather down south. however, with my awful luck, i was there during one of the worst snowstorms they've had in about 10 years. so, there's that. 

here's a look back at my favorite moments from this week:

1. Tuna (aka my nephew) and I had some good bonding time together. it's so fun to see him more alert and interactive than when i was with him last. he sure is a cutie!

2. my mom and two cousins are coming to hang out with me in the city for the night! i'm excited to host them and to do some fun things together tonight and tomorrow.

3. while in NC, Kate and I popped over to Vestique to do some shopping. they graciously gifted us with some items and i'll be sharing here soon! 

4. it was warmer in Chicago when i landed yesterday than it was when i left Raleigh. truly, stepping out of the airport was a small glimmer of hope that winter is on it's way out...then again, i'm not holding my breath.

5. while with my sister, she gave me a much-needed trim and color refresh. we were feeling a little adventurous, so we decided to redden me up right nice. (she used Shades EQ Rocket Fire and Cherry Cola,  equal parts...beyond that, i don't know anything). i really love experimenting with my hair and am incredibly grateful to have a sister/stylist who is just as willing.

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

Q+A, part 10

(0:24) i've been following you and Kate for awhile now and have noticed how much you two reference each other. do you follow/read each other's blogs? what about the rest of your family, Mike?
(3:25) how do you and your boyfriend feel about people always saying you look alike?
(4:31) what are your thoughts on mixing metals?
(5:47) how do you handle the abundance of questions, especially on instagram?
(8:15) can you give any advice matching brown/cognac accessories?
(10:11) what's your favorite item to accessorize with?
(11:49) how do you pull off such loose waves? tutorial here.
(12:14) what are your career plans/hopes for the future?
(14:15) do you have a grocery budget?

have other questions? leave a comment or shoot me an email! 

zip-up | Marshall's
necklace | Elisabeth Ashlie

Ocean Blue

with winter dragging on and on and on and on and…you get the picture…i'm finding it more and more necessary to incorporate more color and spring-like fabrics into my wardrobe. if nothing else, they bring me signs of warm weather and days when i'll be able to walk outside without wearing 7 layers and my snow boots. i'm heading to florida with my mom for a little girls getaway in about a month, and this top will definitely be coming with me. i love the fabric and the fit. truthfully, i now own four of these tops from nordstrom rack. you guys know this…when i find something that fits well and that i like, i tend to buy it in just about every color. it's kind of a problem.

with my newfound be beachy waves and the cool color of the ocean, i'm just going to be pretending that i'm soaking up the sun on the beach today. join me, won't you?

top | nordstrom rack (soprano brand)
pants | calvin klein via marshall's
booties | DSW
bracelet | banana republic
watch | kate spade
earrings + necklace | stella & dot (℅ Ashley)

Giveaway // David Kind

Does shopping for eyeglasses completely overwhelm you? Do you ever wish you could have someone who knows style and fit and frames stand there with you at the eye doctor and tell you you're about to make a huge mistake? How about having someone who actually designs frames and styles people in their sleep offer you something you may never have considered, but that actually refines your face shape, enhances your unique coloring, and compliments your style instead of defining it? Recently, David Kind styled 7 bloggers (including me!) based solely on head shots we sent their stylist, in order to demonstrate how personalized this service is. But the fun thing is, they didn't do anything for us that they don't do for all of their clients. If you sign up for a free style set, simply share a photo, you too will be personally styled by a professional, and you too will be matched with frames to choose from that flatter your face and coloring and style - six frames picked just for you and shipped to your home at no cost. (Not sure what to pick after trying everything on? No problem - these folks are happy to give you a moment of their time via video chat to answer questions and suggest options - it's VIP treatment for everybody!) See what they did for us and why, then be sure to sign up to be styled yourself AND enter the giveaway below!
   photo davidkind_lauren.jpg
Lauren blogs @ Lauren Elizabeth  photo davidkind_natalie.jpg
Natalie blogs @ Take The Cannoli  photo davidkind_keight.jpg
Keight blogs @ Put Up Your Dukes  photo davidkind_kacia.jpg
Kacia blogs @ Coconut Robot  photo davidkind_carrie.jpg
Carrie sells beautiful accessories @ Caroline G Shop  photo davidkind_diana.jpg
Diana blogs @ Diana Wrote  photo davidkind_raechel.jpg
Raechel blogs @ Finding My Feet
Want to see more? Watch this amazing video they created to visually show you the process -- and the luxury of trying on your frames at home! You can read more about the process on the David Kind website as well!
And NOW - a happy and generous giveaway from our friends at David Kind! Enter below for a chance to win one of TWO Visa Gift Cards worth $250 each. (i know!)

Beach Waves Tutorial

products used in this tutorial:

Giveaway // Stella & Dot

have you guys heard of Stella & Dot jewelry? i've known about it for a few years now and have always loved their items. i tend to swoon over the daintier necklaces, but it's all beautiful so i'd be happy to add any of it to my jewelry collection.

Ashley is a Stella & Dot consultant (you can shop with her here!) and she's graciously giving one lucky reader a pair of the Nancy Stud Earrings, which you can see me wearing below:

seriously, how gorgeous are those? they're the perfect 'pop' for your ears, especially if pairing them with a statement necklace like i did (full style post coming next week!). 

want to win a pair of the Nancy Studs for yourself? use the Rafflecopter below to enter! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway