High Five for Friday

happy friday, peeps! hope you've all had a great week. the holiday on Monday made this week go by especially fast for me. here's a look back at some of my favorite moments:

1. Mike and i headed over to the beach on Monday to enjoy the beautiful weather and expose of fair skin to some rays. we didn't stay too long because we weren't exactly interested in getting a sun burn (even with SPF - our poor souls) but it was glorious while it lasted. i'm going to be spending a lot of time there this summer. 

2. i've been watching House of Cards on Netflix and really enjoying it. it's a bit darker than i'm used to, but i'm certainly invested in the characters and interested to see where the story goes. 

3. working from home has about a million benefits. one of the few downsides is that i don't have much social interaction on a daily basis, besides with my cats and roommate. this introverted girl has had to learn to seek out social settings and things to get my fill of human interaction. i grabbed dinner with a friend at a new restaurant in the West Loop, Green Street Smoked Meats. it was so good and such a cool spot. if you live here or visit, you should check it out!

4. i'm heading off to North Carolina with my mom on Sunday and so looking forward to it!

5. Otis and i held hands, which was basically the highlight of my week.

how has your week been? link up below and tell me about it! 
if you'd like, feel free to add the button below to your own #H54F post!
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Blogging 101: Inspiration

for other installments in this series, check out Getting Started, Next Steps, and Growing Your Readership.

one of the questions i'm most frequently asked is, 'where do you find inspiration to write your blog?'. being inspired is an essential part to writing - it provides ideas, motivation, and content. if you're not inspired, you're probably not writing. 

since i've been blogging for almost three years now, inspiration comes naturally to me (if that's possible). what i mean is that, most of the time, i have plenty of ideas swirling around in my head for what to share on the blog. i've established my voice, my areas of focus, and i know what my readers are interested in reading about. whether it's an idea for an outfit, a DIY project, or a beauty-related post, it doesn't usually take me long to decide what to write about and get to it. 

certainly, there are times when i feel completely void of ideas and am in need of some serious inspiration. in those times, my first stop is typically Pinterest. it's bursting with ideas for just about anything you'd want to write about - style, DIY, home decor, food, beauty, etc. i can typically find something that sparks an idea within the first 30 seconds of being on Pinterest

some other great sources for inspiration include other blogs that you enjoy reading, magazines, books, stores, or your interactions with people. oftentimes, i'll see an outfit in a magazine or store that i love and get an idea of how i can create something similar using items i already have. when i'm feeling especially crafty, i'll just go walk around a craft store to see what piques my interest. truth be told, i'm sometimes inspired just by getting out of my apartment and walking around. because i work from home, it's essential for me to get out of my regular environment so that i don't tire of it too quickly. this also serves as a great time to experience new things or explore new places that may spark an idea in my head. 

sometimes, i'll throw out a question on my Facebook page or Twitter to ask my readers what they'd like to see on the blog - different outfits, more personal posts, specific questions? that can usually give me some good ideas, or at least some areas of focus for future posts. if you don't quite have the following to do that yet, tap your family members, friends, or co-workers to see if they have any ideas. you never know what they could offer up! 

there have been times when i've tried all of these things and still come up blank. for a long time, i would hate when that would happen and would put a lot of pressure on myself to write something, anything for a post. almost 100% of the time, the posts that resulted weren't even worthy of being posted. i've learned to let go a bit, to allow myself the option to not have a new post every single day, monday through friday. it's taken a lot of the pressure off and i tend to enjoy those post-less days as days when i can spend time being inspired. 

inspiration is everywhere! sometimes you find it when you're not even looking for it. when an idea does hit you, be sure to write it down somewhere. there's nothing worse than having a great idea only to forget it moments later! 

have specific questions about finding inspiration or some ideas to share? leave them in the comments below or shoot me an email! 

H&M Haul

ever have one of those times where you go in a store and walk out with way more than you expected to find? that happened to me yesterday at H&M and i thought you may like to know about it. 
you know, in case you want to match ;)

here are the items i could find online, as of may 27th (some of the items i picked up may be new and not online yet):

(headband from world market)

*minor editing error with the Palm Springs tank -- forgive me!

THE Sale Room

nothing like finding out your rubbed up against the bed that is always and only covered in cat hair after you've taken photos...

do you ever have one of those 'aha' moments in the dressing room? you know, the how-have-i-gone-my-entire-adult-life-without-this-piece-of-clothing thing? i had that with this dress in anthro and things got real, fast

for years i was the 'look but don't touch' (because i can't afford it if it breaks) patron in any anthropologie store. i'd always want to go in to browse, but would always leave empty-handed, save for a small home decor item or candle. it's kind of terrible, torturing yourself like that. i became a very skilled lurker, never even tricking myself into thinking i could afford that gorgeous, perfect, softest ever, most wonderful dress by not even looking at the price tag. it was too much for my anthro-loving heart to handle. 

and then, like some sort of treasure seeker, i made my way into the SALE room once. and the rest is history. anthro's sale section is one of the few sale sections that is actually worth spending your time rifling through, in my opinion. it isn't full of make-up stained, mis-tagged, horribly cut items. it's actually full of real gems that i can afford - hallelujah! i've had great success in their sale room without having to hand over my soul to the cashier when she asks, 'debit or credit?'

this perfectly could-be-casual-or-dressy-and-you-can-wear-it-in-any-season-AND-ITS-NAVY dress is one of my success stories, and it can be yours, too. 

dress | anthropologie sale (similar)
earrings | j.crew factory
wedges | jessica simpson via marshall's (similar)
belt | target
clutch | anthropologie
sunglasses | kate spade
bracelet | j.crew factory

High Five for Friday

happy friday! for some reason, it feels like a tuesday or wednesday to me...my whole week has been off! but, i'm not complaining because that means the weekend is here earlier than i was expecting it. let's have a look back at my week:

1. my roommate is heading out of town this weekend to visit her boyfriend for the holiday. while i'll miss having her around, i'm looking forward to having the place to myself for a couple days! you know, leave the dishes in the sink just a little longer, no sharing the TV, all the important things.

2. i was on a real creative kick this week and made a lot of new jewels for Elisabeth Ashlie. it's always fun to go through those really productive, creative spurts. they don't happen all the time, so i try to take advantage when they do! 

3. i've finally gotten back into the swing of exercising regularly and it feels so good. i really do notice a huge difference in my energy level and appetite. i'm looking forward to some good runs along the lake this summer. 

4. i just found out that nordrstramrack.com is a thing. i typically have a lot of luck in stores (some of you don't!), so the fact that they have an online store now is dan-ger-ous.

5. one of my favorite things about living in the city is the endless amount of things to do, anytime and any day. my friend and i decided to buy tickets to the Cubs game just a few hours before the game started earlier this week. it was a beautiful night, until we got rained out, but it made me pretty excited for summer and all of the wonderful things this city has to offer. 

6. bonus: it's Mike's and my 1.5 year anniversary. pretty sure that's not even a thing, but it feels significant to me ;)

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

if you'd like, feel free to add the button below to your own #H54F post!
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BEAUTY REVIEW | bareSkin by bareMinerals

the internet has been abuzz with talk of bareMinerals' new liquid foundation, bareSkin Pure Brightening Serum Foundation. although i'm not a regular user of bareMinerals products, my sister loves them and i've been in the store with her a few times. trying bareSkin was my first time experimenting with any bareMinerals products, and i'm thinking it may be the beginning of a beautiful love affair. 

i received a box of 5 different shades of bareSkin, along with the Perfecting Face Brush. i tried both the Bare Porcelain and Bare Shell shades and they both fared quite well with my setting powder, bronzer, and blush. using it on a regular basis, i would opt for the Bare Shell shade because it has a bit more pigment to it, which means less bronzer/blush to even out my skin tone.

when it comes to foundation, i'm a pretty simple girl. on a daily basis, i use a BB cream and a dusting of powder foundation. and that's it. i've always strayed away from liquid foundations because i don't like the feel or look of heavy makeup on me. i have quite a few freckles on my face, so i like those to show after i've put all my makeup on, which means i keep my base pretty light.

i was really impressed with how easy it was to apply the bareSkin foundation. like i said, i'm not a liquid foundation girl so i was a bit intimidated by making sure it all blended in and covered my whole face. the silky consistency of the foundation made it easy to cover everything and blend well with my hairline and neck. once i let it sit for a second, i finished it with a powder foundation that i had, some bronzer, and blush. i've heard that it sets up really well with the bareMinerals mineral powder, so going forward, i would want to use that instead of my existing foundation. 

truthfully, i really loved how it looked on my face. it gave me an airbrushed look that i can't achieve with my current combination of foundation + BB cream, so i love that about it. what's also great is that i found that i needed much less concealer after bareSkin was applied. typically, i need to have concealer under my eyes, around my nose and a blemish or two around my mouth and chin. with bareSkin, i only added a bit of concealer under my eyes to brighten them up a bit. 

another thing i love about it is that because it provides such a flawless, finished look, it doesn't require that you add much more makeup. the only other thing i added was a swipe of mascara and a neutral lip color and i felt 'done' enough for the day. 

an issue that i seemed to have with it was it's staying power. the first day i wore it was spent running errands and being out in the heat. each time i took my sunglasses off, i had to wipe makeup from the bridge (where they sit on my nose) and rub my nose to make sure my makeup was blended in. by time i returned home, i needed a fresh coat of powder foundation to remove some shine and fill in some spots where makeup had rubbed off. because of the heavier feel, i probably wouldn't wear it on a day that i knew i'd be spending lots of time outside and/or possibly sweating. 

completely bare face
bareSkin foundation on the left, my own bare skin on the right
bareSkin foundation + powder + bronzer + blush
>> great coverage
>> super hydrating
>> silky soft skin
>> sun protection with the SPF 20
>> easy to blend and color match with your skin

>> i could 'feel' the foundation on my face all day
>> not good for sweating

would i use it again? definitely, but with a finishing powder instead of my powder foundation. my skin looked flawless (even though it's not) and softer than usual. i'm excited to continue experimenting with it and see if i can't perfect my methods to make it work for me through the summer. if not, i think it's a great option for the winter when my skin gets very dry and i need some extra hydration and coverage. 

if you're in the market for a new foundation, or have wanted to try bareSkin, i definitely recommend  you do. it's probably best suited for those of us with dry or normal skin because of how hydrating it is, but it may work on all skin types depending on what you set it with! i highly recommend using the  Perfecting Face Brush -- it makes a world of a difference with the foundation. 

have you tried bareSkin by bareMinerals? what are your thoughts?

this post is sponsored by bareMinerals. all opinions are my own. 

DIY Washi Tape Storage

if you're anything like me, no matter how many pouches, drawers, tupperware containers you have, it's just never enough for your endless amount of crap useful things. my roommate and i share a bathroom, but we each have our own sink (which is a lifesaver) and storage space. i, however, have beauty products, hair ties, makeup brushes, q-tips, nail polish, and anything else you can imagine sprawled pretty much everywhere. let's just say i take full advantage of the counter space that belongs to me and i decided it needed a bit more organization. 

one thing i'm really big on when it comes to styling my apartment is having pretty and functional storage. the only things in my underbed storage boxes are shoes (currently out of season) and random electronic things, otherwise everything is strategically placed throughout my room and bathroom as 'decor'. 

when i came across this idea on Pinterest, i knew it would be perfect for my countertop to store some things that were otherwise taking up valuable space in my bathroom drawers. it's a super easy and cheap project that has made a world of a difference for me. 

all you need to get started are some containers and washi tape. i found all of these glass items at Michael's Craft Store, along with the tape (i also picked up a variety of metallic tape that isn't pictured here).

i legitimately can't even give you directions because there aren't any besides washing and drying your glass containers and applying the tape. if you're super precise, you can use a rubber band of piece of string to ensure your lines are perfectly straight. if you're cool to wing it a bit, just freehand it. i did mine freehand and was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to do. if you totally screw a line up, just peel the tape off and start again. 

print by Rifle Paper Co. | frame from Michael's

i had a few other glass containers that were holding other objects that i decided to do as well. 

like i said, this couldn't be easier. it's the perfect way to add a little color or pattern to an otherwise plain jar or bowl. i've had mine done for well over 2 weeks and there's no sign of peeling. if you wanted to ensure that the tape stay on for a long time, you could dot a bit of glue where the ends meet. 

**i'm not sure of the original source for this idea. i saw several pins on Pinterest and just went ahead and did it myself. if you know the source, please let me know!**

Feminine Florals | Giveaway

let me introduce you guys to the new love in my life: spring florals. they're everywhere and they're beautiful. i can't seem to get enough. i wouldn't consider my style especially girly or feminine, so i like experimenting with florals to access that side. another win? Mike said this was one of his favorite outfits, as of late. he also said he prefers me in dresses/skirts and heels...neither of which i wear very often, so i'm considering it a personal mission this season to wear them more often. with additions like this dress to my closet, it won't be difficult to opt for them.

i'm also picturing this dress with my new favorite jean jacket and flat sandals or a boyfriend cardigan and converse for a more relaxed look.

the lovely ladies over at LaMaLu Boutique sent me this dress to enjoy for this spring and summer and enjoy it, i will! the feminine cut, soft colors, and flowy material make it the perfect summer dress. dressed up or more casual, this one is super versatile. enter below for a chance to win a $25 shop credit! 

use code LAURENE15 for 15% off your order! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
dress | c/o LaMaLu Boutique
sweater | Loft (similar)
heels | Old Navy (similar)
purse | Dooney & Bourke (similar)
sunnies | Kate Spade
necklace | J.Crew Factory

Let's Talk Tattoos

it may surprise some of you to find out that i have, not just one, but a few tattoos. you maybe have spotted the one on my wrist in videos or photos, but you probably haven't seen the one on my ribs...ya know, because i'm usually fully clothed ;) 

my tattoos are incredibly meaningful to me. there was much thought and consideration put into each individual one and all three of them together. almost 6 years later, i still don't regret catching the 'tattoo fever' - which is very real and very strong. i had assumed that i would be a 'one and done' girl when it came to getting inked, but with each day that i loved my tattoo more, i opened myself up to the idea of adding to my tiny collection. at three, i feel pretty content with what i'm working with. although i'm always open to adding more, it would have to be something that is meaningful and well thought out.

here's the story of my first:

i got my first tattoo when i was just two months into being 18 years old. i've always had a bit of a rebellious side to me, but nothing too wild. i've had my nose pierced (twice), a handful of ear piercings, and was always open to trying new styles of clothes. the first tattoo, though, was my first major change. i mean, it's permanent, so that's natural. i had known for about 6 months that i wanted to get it and finally worked up enough gumption to do it. i was nervous about the pain and the permanence, but not about what i was having inked on me.

for those that have wondered, tattoos aren't painful. in my opinion, they're more annoying than anything. it certainly doesn't feel good to have a needle pricked into your skin, but i never felt an overwhelming sense of pain, just a desire for that horrible buzzing to stop. i've been told i have a relatively high pain tolerance, so others may totally disagree, but i've always advised people interested in getting a tattoo to not change their mind because of the pain they may experience. deepening on the location of the tattoo, some will be worse than others, but it's nothing unbearable or deal-breaking.

my first tattoo is located on the inside of my left arm, about 2" below my wrist. i wanted it high enough on my arm that it could be covered by a long-sleeve or jewelry (thinking of future employment). according to tradition in some countries, the vein in your ring finger leads to your heart, so i wanted this tattoo to be on top of that vein for the symbolism of it. agape is the Greek word for selfless, unconditional, sacrificial love. the kind of love that God has for humankind. i wanted it near my hand to represent how God created everything, including me. so this tattoo is my representation of God.

my third tattoo is 'walk in love' written on the outside of my left foot. the phrase is found several times in the Bible, in Ephesians 5, 1 John, and 2 John (depending on the translation used). to me, it represents what Christ did on earth and what i am called to do as someone that proclaims to be a follower of Him. i chose to have it on my foot because Christ walked on earth, as i do now. 

my second tattoo is the outline of a 'dove of peace', which is a symbol used for the Holy Spirit in the Bible. i wanted to keep this one very simple because i knew that it would be larger than the others. the outline of the dove is in black, while the branch in its mouth is colored with green. the green branch represents the promises of God (story of Noah) and the fact that the Holy Spirit is alive in me because i am a follower of Christ. i chose to get this one on my ribs because it was the closest i could get to my soul, which is where the Spirit lives in me.

altogether, the three tattoos represent the three persons of God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. all unique and different, and yet all the same. i carry them with me wherever i go and am constantly reminded of my faith and its importance whenever i see them. for a couple years, i've thought about adding a fourth (and probably final) tattoo to represent me and my relationship with the three but haven't come up with any ideas that i'm in love with yet.

truthfully, i forget about the one on my ribs and it startles me to spot it out of the corner of my eye sometimes! i haven't had a single regret about getting any of them - they're personal to me and hold much meaning, so i don't think that i ever will. except maybe when i'm like 87. but just maybe. 

do you have a tattoo (or tattoos)? do they have a story? i'd love to hear it! 

High Five for Friday

happy friday, friends! i hope you've all had a great week. mine has been pretty uneventful, but very productive so i can't complain! 

1. i met a friend after work for mani/pedi's and was reminded how nice it is to be pampered sometimes! i'm usually not into pedicures (i don't like when they mess with my toes and scrape the bottom of my feet), but they're made less awful when i'm distracted by talking and listening.

2. i mentioned in a post earlier this week that i've been in a particularly crafty mood lately, so i've been working on some fun things that i'm excited to share on the blog soon! i find myself scrolling through the DIY section of pinterest on a regular basis now to find new projects to do. 

3. with only a few months left on our lease, i've started casually looking at potential buildings to move into at the end of the summer. i'm having a lot of fun looking at options, floor plans, photos, and mentally moving all of my stuff into the beautiful apartments ;)

4. wednesday was an incredibly productive day for me, which doesn't usually happen. rarely do i get to the end of the work day and think, 'man, i got a lot done today'. wednesday was the exception and it was a good feeling! i've been re-inspired and have a lot of post ideas and things to share this spring. 

5. despite the unusually chilly temps a few days this week, SPRING IS HERE AND IT IS GLORIOUS. i love that i can have my windows open in my room and feel the fresh air, even when i'm stuck at my desk all day

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

if you'd like, feel free to add the button below to your own #H54F post!
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Beauty Box 5 | May

MASKERAIDE | hydrating facial sheet mask
i've been on a total face mask kick, so my box came just in time for my next mask. this one is an actual mask (i've only ever used the gel/cream that you rub on your skin to create a mask), so i'm curious to see how it compares to the alternative. what's cool about this mask is that it's paraben-free, vegan friendly, and 100% biodegradable. 

H2O PLUS | aqualibrium marine cleansing gel
a gentle exfoliator for my skin, this cleansing gel is made with sea salt and energizing botanicals, so it cleans and protects! perfect to throw in my travel bag for a cleanse.

BAN | total refresh cooling body cloths
i'm totally intrigued with these cloths. they're perfect to throw in your work bag or gym bag for a mid-day or post-workout refresher to wipe away some of the day's gunk on your skin. 

this perfume smells divine! a mix of mandarin, grapefruit, forsythia, and plumeria - it's the perfect combination of fruit and florals for a wonderful spring scent. i like this little testers for traveling so that i don't have to pack my full-size perfume.

CATTIVA | precisione eye liner
in all my years of wearing eyeliner, i've never owned a waterproof version. that all changed with this liner. it's the perfect size to create a thin winged eye for beach days or those days when it's so hot you'll sweat your regular eyeliner off.

i was really pleased with this month's box! every item in the box is something that i will actually use, which isn't always the case. i prefer the emphasis on skincare and general beauty products, with just one makeup product thrown in.

do you receive beauty box 5? what did you think this month?

you can sign up here

In The Details || giveaway

i'm having a serious moment with pastels this spring. i cannot get enough of those beautifully light and airy colors. in the list of things that i love style-wise, they're way up there. probably just after floral prints and just before boyfriend jeans. what's cool about pastels is that they're sort of chameleon colors. you can pair them with other pastels for a feminine and soft look, or match them up with some leather or metal details to toughen them up without going overboard. for the beautifully spring weekend we had in Chicago, i paired mine with white skinnies and animal print for an easy look with a touch of fun.

the ladies over at In Bloom Boutique sent me this top and i knew as soon as i pulled it out of the package that it was going to be a staple for me this season. not only is the color gorgeous, but the fit is perfect and the geometric details are on point. an otherwise basic top, the triangular cut-outs add just the right amount of interest to still allow for a statement necklace or bold earrings without feeling too overdone. although i tend to be a hair down kind of girl, i'm thinking it would look great with my hair up to show off the cut outs and keyhole in the back, too!

they're giving one lucky gal the chance to win a $40 shop credit! if it were me, i'd have a tough time deciding between this, this and this.

use code LEBLOG15 for 15% off your purchase! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

skinnies | Target
blazer | TJ Maxx
flats | Target
bag | Rebecca Minkoff via Nordstrom Rack
earrings | Forever 21
sunglasses | Kate Spade

DIY Catch-All Bowls

i think it's safe to say that i've been bit by the crafting bug, once again. a few years ago, i was like the crafting queen, doing a new project every week. with jewelry making filling up most of my time these days, my 'time off' is typically spent doing anything but making things with my hands. unless we're talking about making cupcakes or brownies or something like that. i'm always willing to do that. 

anyway, when i arrived at my sister's house last week, she informed me that she had a little project for us to do. i was skeptical at first, but quickly got on board when she showed it to me! after picking out paint colors, we swiftly got to work while my nephew was taking an afternoon nap.

although i'd consider myself pretty creative, i am no artist. i have decent handwriting...and that's about as far as my drawing abilities will take me. so, i kept my bowls pretty simple and freehanded it all, which is fairly obvious ;) 

before long, i think every single bowl in my apartment will be hand-painted. i love that you can create whatever design you want to fit perfectly into your decor. i'm planning to do some in the future using stencils and/or tape to create some stripes and things. i'll keep you updated on what i create! 

\\ as far as we know, this is the original source for this idea //

Weekend Wear: Denim Edition

if you knew the number of photos that look like this instead of those that actually make the cut for a post...

i feel like i fell in love all over again this weekend. we had, quite possibly, some of the best weather i've ever had. in my life. and that's saying a lot, especially considering we just survived the worst winter in the history of life, basically. 

Mike came to the city and we enjoyed the day outside. it tends to be a little bit like pulling teeth to get him up to doing something on the weekends because he's tired from a long week of school and work, but i refuse to let these perfect days go by without enjoying them as fully as possible. we hit the streets for some photo sessions and pure enjoyment, and that it was. i can't even tell you how many strange looks we received from people walking by while he was shooting my outfits. you'd think that they wouldn't even be phased by it, considering all the other things city dwellers witness on a regular basis (read: people clipping their finger nails on public transportation. more on that later.). alas, the weird looks abound. and so photos like that last one also abound because i just can't take myself seriously when i'm being watched by strangers. 

after a froyo stop and a roundabout walk back to my apartment, it was somehow already time for him to head for the train station to go back to the burbs. the weekends go by so quickly when you're enjoying them, don't they?

p.s. all photos thanks to my boyfriend. we joked that he's an up and coming blogographer. i think he kinda digs it.

p.p.s. thanks to my sister for the freshly brunette'd locks. i feel like a new woman! 

shorts | target
sandals | target
sunglasses | kate spade
bag | rebecca minkoff
earrings | c/o saressa designs
watch | kate spade
bracelet | c/o francesca's