High Five for Friday

happy friday! i hope everyone (that celebrated) had a wonderful thanksgiving yesterday! we enjoyed a delicious dinner at home with some extended family and i ate just a little too much, seeing as i woke up still feeling full this morning! 

here's a look back at some of my favorite things from this past week:

1. Mike and i celebrated our 2 year anniversary over the weekend! we had a relaxing day, starting with a delicious breakfast and professional massages (mike had been talking about wanting one for months, so i figured we should treat ourselves!). we went to The Signature Lounge for some drinks before dinner and, unfortunately, it was probably the most overcast night possible, so we couldn't see a thing. it was cool to go up there, since neither of us had been before, but we're definitely heading back sometime when it's a clear evening! 

2. my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew are in town for a few days and it's so nice to have them here with us! David is as cute as ever and we're all enjoying some quality time together.

3. thanksgiving was wonderful yesterday! the food was delicious, we shared plenty of laughs at the table, and we had the prettiest snowfall during the day. not to mention, i got to spend it with these two cuties:

4. i had last friday evening all to myself at our apartment and enjoyed every second of it. one roommate was traveling, while the other was at a friend's, so i was left with the place to myself for a few hours. by the end of the night, i was ready for some human interaction, but you better believe i enjoyed the solitude for a few hours! 

5. yesterday marked the first day of my several-day vacation! i'm looking forward to spending time with family at home and taking a little break from work! 

psssst! Elisabeth Ashlie is having a black friday sale! you can shop here and here

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

Stocking Stuffers (Under $20!)

just a few ideas for you own wish list or for a little something for your best friend, colleague, or sister-in-law...
1 | Metallic playing cards, Anthropologie 
2 | Simple square studs, Elisabeth Ashlie
3 | Faux fur eye mask, West Elm
4 | Marbled moonscape polish set, Julep
5 | Chevron glittens, J.Crew Factory
6 | Talk Is Chic notebook, Kate Spade
7 | Leather cardholder, J.Crew Factory
8 | Balm Stain, Revlon
9 | Saijo Persimmon candle, Voluspa

RECIPE | Cheesy Lavosh with Spinach + Artichoke Dip

one of my family's favorite appetizers is the spinach dip with cheesy lavosh from Houlihan's. when my roommate made a batch of spinach and artichoke dip the other week, i couldn't help but crave those flavorful lavosh crackers to dip into it. i promptly ran to the store and bought some ingredients to whip them up. they're super easy to make (only 4 ingredients!) and so delicious with spinach dip. this is a great appetizer to serve at a party or to eat by yourself for dinner, which i may have done. twice. 

Cheesy Lavosh
- Valley Lavosh Baking Co. 15" cracker rounds
(buy a case here or find where to buy here)
- chopped roma or grape tomatoes
- chopped cilantro
- shredded pepper jack cheese

1. set oven to broil
2. sprinkle lavosh round with cheese, tomatoes, and cilantro (see photos below)
3. slide lavosh onto top rack in oven, just under broiler
4. keeping a careful eye, let cheese bubble under broiler and remove from oven
5. cut cracker into triangles using a pizza cutter and serve with spinach dip

you can add more or less of the ingredients to the cracker. i love cilantro, so i like to add a lot, obviously. 
Spinach + Artichoke Dip
- one bag of frozen, cut leaf spinach
- 8 oz. mayo
- 8 oz. sour cream
- 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 8 oz bag of shredded mozzarella
- 2-3 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1 can of artichoke hearts (can be left out if you're not a fan)

1. thaw and squeeze excess water from spinach using colander
2. in bowl, mix sour cream, mayo, parmesan cheese, pressed garlic, and artichoke hearts
3. add spinach to bowl and mix
4. add mozzarella cheese, stir well, and microwave for 8-10 minutes
5. stir and serve warm
you'll thank me later for this little bit of heaven. 

High Five for Friday

happy friday! it's hard to believe that we're just under a week away from Thanksgiving, so basically it's 2015. speaking of Thanksgiving, i had a dream last night that my mom forgot to make stuffing and my grandma's rolls for dinner and i was horrified. so, i guess i have Thanksgiving dinner on the brain, weird as that may be! 

here's a look back at some of my favorite things from this past week:

1. this week marks the release of The Holiday Collection for Elisabeth Ashlie! the holiday season is usually the busiest for me, so it's been a little crazy but really fun to see what people are ordering for their loved ones.  

2. i found out this week that Newsies on Broadway is coming to Chicago next month and promptly got tickets for the show! mike and i are going with my parents on a little date day in late December and i'm counting down the days! 

3. while most of my Christmas decor is still in storage at my mom and dad's, i picked up a couple things to start sprucing up the place. i'm planning to add the tree and other decor after next week, but i just couldn't resist! 

4. i met some friends for dinner earlier in the week at Chicago q, a barbecue place in the city that i've been wanting to try for awhile. the Southern decor and delicious food shot it up to the top of my list of favorite meals i've had since living here. if you're visiting or live in the area, you have to check it out! 

5. mike and i will be celebrating our 2 year anniversary this weekend, so i made some plans earlier in the week to help celebrate. we decided to split up the day, i'm taking the morning/early afternoon and mike is taking the evening to plan something. while i'm keeping the plans under wraps, i'm looking forward to celebrating the past two years together! 

that's all! hope you all have a great last weekend before the holiday! 

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

Three Plaids, Three Ways

one of my favorite things to wear in the cooler months is a plaid button-up shirt. i've got a nice little collection in my closet that's been built up over the last couple years that i always find myself going back to. they're great for layering and adding some pattern to an outfit without feeling overdone. with the holidays just around the corner, i'm planning on incorporating my plaids into my wardrobe for holiday celebrations and family gatherings.

here's a few ideas of how to wear your favorite plaid or flannel:
> layered under a sweater or tunic for a laid-back but put-together look
 > use your favorite plaid scarf as a shawl, finished with a belt 
 > dress down a wool skirt and statement necklace with a tied up flannel shirt
while our family holiday gatherings tend to lean on the casual side, i still like to take the opportunity to tap into some of my dresses and skirts, while still remaining comfortable. these three outfits fit the bill! 
first look
plaid | J.Crew Factory (similar)
sweater tunic | H&M
pants | Madewell (old)
necklaces | Elisabeth Ashlie (here and here)

second look
dress | Target (similar)
scarf | ZARA
belt | Target
wedges | Banana Republic Outlet
necklaces | Elisabeth Ashlie (here and here)

third look
flannel | H&M
booties | Target 
watch | c/o Daniel Wellington
(get 15% off your order with code 'laurenelizabethblog')

Holiday Gift Guide | For the Home

it's hard to believe that it's already time for holiday shopping! Mike and i were in the loop over the weekend and the place was crawling with tourists and chicago natives bundled in their hats and scarves, arms full of shopping bags. so, it's time for gift ideas!
1 | Checked throw, H&M 
this looks like the perfect blanket to curl up with on a cold night, sipping hot chocolate and watching a good movie

2 | Black + metallic food canister set, Target
who says kitchen storage can't be pretty? these are perfect for things like flour, cupcake papers, cinnamon sticks, or other kitchen things.

3 | Long marble plate, H&M
i love the look of these marble plates. this long one could be used to hold perfume bottles, sunglasses, or even to serve up a holiday treat

4 | Mini marble plate, H&M
this smaller plate would be perfect for holding jewelry or your favorite nail polishes

5 | Hexagonal wine rack, World Market
function meets style, for the wine lover in your life. 

6 | Well Hello There doormat, West Elm
who doesn't want to be greeted like that?!

7 | Polka dot ceramic bowl, H&M
this bowl is great for jewelry storage, holding hair accessories, or serving up sweets. the LOL detail on the inside adds a fun quirk, too! 

8 | Capri Blue jar candle, Anthropologie 
by far, my favorite candle scent ever. plus, it comes in a beautiful jar that can double as holiday decor.

9 | Gilded pretzel bottle opener, Anthropologie
the perfect addition to a bar cart/drink station and works great as a stocking stuffer.

10 | Red + White Wine Glasses, Crate + Barrel
also known as the Olivia Pope wine glasses. i've had my eye on these since the first time is saw them on Scandal. they're on my list this year! 

Saturday Style | 02

...because weekends mean wearing sweats, eating too much snicker pie, and staying snuggled in bed watching Homeland with your favorite guy and two fur balls. but if you just have to leave your apartment, you can throw on some ripped jeans, a blanket sweater, and tassel booties and feel like a functioning human being for a minute. until you slip back into sweats, that is. 

sweater | H&M
jeans | ZARA (similar, similar)
jacket | Old Navy
booties | DV by Dolce Vita
bag | Vince Camuto via Nordstrom Rack (similar)
layered necklace | Elisabeth Ashlie

High Five for Friday

happy friday! hope you've had a great week! i'm definitely ready for the weekend. but first, let's take a look back at some of my favorite moments from this past week:

1. as you may remember, my roommates and i had a housewarming party last weekend and it was a success! we had a lot of fun and enjoyed sharing our space with some of our favorite people. 
me, ariel, and sam
2. i've finally been placed into a long-term small group with the church that i'm attending here in Chicago and our first meeting was this week! it was exciting and a little nerve-wracking (i'm always anxious to meet new people), but i'm happy to say that i think it's going to be a great fit and i'm excited to finally be a part of one again. 

3. you guys, i am IN the holiday spirit. i don't know exactly when it happened, but i am so ready for christmas music, decorating the apartment, and gift shopping. who's with me?

4. as i was coming home from small group the other night, i was waiting for the bus outside when snow flurries started to fall. i was pretty much the only human outside of a building or vehicle, so for a quick second, it was incredibly peaceful. it can be difficult to find quiet moments like that living in the city, but they're really cool when they do happen. i just took a second to look around that the beauty of Chicago and appreciate the stage in life that i'm in that allows me to live here and enjoy it.

5. as crazy as it might make me, i was actually excited to bust out my winter outerwear for the first time this week. i always get excited with a change in the seasons, so it's been fun to change things up a bit and rediscover old items that i can wear again. although this excitement over cold weather probably won't last for long, i'll try to enjoy it while i have it.

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

RECIPE | Arugula + Pesto Chicken Salad with Provolone Crostini

one of my favorite things to eat for lunch is a simple and delicious salad. it's easy to put together, filling, and refreshes me for an afternoon of work. i go through phases of the type of salads that i make, usually rotating between this one, a chicken caesar salad, and caprese salad. what i love about this one is the richness of the flavors and how darn good they taste together. 
 the ingredients to make one lunch-sized salad are as follows:
- a heaping handful of arugula (or other green)
- 1 roma tomato, chopped
- 1/2 cup shredded pesto chicken
(to make the shredded pesto chicken, bake boneless skinless chicken breasts in a 400º oven for 10-12 minutes, or until cooked through. if you have a mixer, you can place the breasts into your mixer and start slowly to shred. if not, shredding with two forks works just as well! once the chicken is all shredded, toss with your desired amount of pesto - either store-bought or homemade)

for the dressing:
- 1 Tablespoon of olive oil
- 1/2 Tablespoon of fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- pinch of sea salt

for the crostini:
- a couple slices of the demi loaf
- about a tablespoon of olive oil
- a few pinches of sea salt
to make the dressing, i combine the ingredients into a tiny tupperware container that i use to shake the dressing well, to incorporate the oil and lemon juice together. i love the bite of the lemon juice added with the smoothness of the oil. you can play around with the proportions to satisfy your preferences.
the crostini is what puts this salad over the top, at least for this bread-lover. to make it, i cut a few slices of the demi loaf, about 1/2 thick. 
i brush olive oil on both sides of the slices and sprinkle with sea salt. 
with the oven set to broil, i line a baking sheet with foil and pop the slices of bread in, just under the broiler. i let the bread toast* on one side, and then flip over to toast on the other. when both sides are toasted, i lay a piece of thin-sliced provolone cheese on the top and let it broil until bubbly and totally melted. remove from oven and let cool

*keep a careful eye on the bread, as it can toast very quickly.

while the crostini is cooling, assemble your salad. i lay down a heaping handful of arugula in a bowl and pour the simple dressing over top. i then add the chopped roma tomatoes and about 1/2 cup of the chicken. if you want an extra crunch in your salad, you can chop up the crostini and mix it in with you salad. 

that's it! simple, easy, and super tasty. 

Saturday Style | 01

a late night on friday (thanks to a successful housewarming party!) left me pretty much wiped out on saturday. when staying up past 2 am basically ruins you for the entire weekend, you start to feel pretty old. hey, i like my sleep. what can i say?

the party went off pretty much without a hitch! all three of us (my roommates and i) each had a moment during the day on friday of, 'oh man, what if nobody shows up and were left with all this food and drinks?!' you know, normal party hosting self-doubt thoughts. the snacks were out, apartment was sparkling clean, and we were all in our party outfits hanging out in the kitchen when the start time for the party arrived and went, without a peep from guests. obviously, we anticipated that people wouldn't show up until 30-45 minutes after the start time, since that seems to be normal when you're given a, 'come anytime after ___' time. but still, with every minute that passed, we grew a little more and more anxious for guests to arrive. finally, at about 8:35, we heard a knock at the door and our first attendees were here! they seemed to pretty much flow in after that, and before long, we had a full house!

all of the snacks were consumed, much of the drinks were drunk, and we made it through without any major spills or catastrophes. the last guests left at about 2:30, at which time the three of us all promptly ran walked like zombies to our beds. when i woke up (laaaate) the next morning, we did the cleaning and spent much of the day lounging, switching between the couch and my bed. it was pretty fantastic.

there were many weekends when i would feel guilty about not working or doing anything productive, but i've learned to really enjoy my weekends and take a break from work. since i've made that change, i've come to enjoy my weekends so much more and actually take time to rest, staying in my bed for hours.

when i did finally get the energy up to leave the apartment, i went with my classic (mostly) black outfit with a couple extra accessories to keep warm.

weekends were made for messy buns and comfortable layers, no? also, lipstick can go a long way in making me feel human. that's all.

p.s. for you High Five for Friday-er's: sorry about last friday! the day got away with me from prepping for the party and a couple other things, so i wasn't able to get a post up in time. you better believe the link-up with be back this week, though!

sweater | H&M
jacket | Cusp (available here or similar)
leggings | J.Crew Factory (pssst! they're 30% off!)
scarf | similar
bag | Vince Camuto (similar)
lip color | Revlon Color Stay Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Smitten

That One Scarf

so, this scarf. this scarf is one that i worked pretty hard for. let's back up: one of my roommate's introduced me to ZARA shortly after i moved to Chicago. she'd been shopping there for a couple years (i think), but i'd never checked out their store or been online, so i wasn't sure what to think. i popped in the store one day and was smitten. although a lot of their clothes are on the dressier side of things, they also have a lot of great staples, like jeans, comfortable tops, and the greatest scarves in all the land. my first purchase when i lived in Chicago was a pink scarf from ZARA, which should have been a sign of what was to come. 

i wore the life out of that scarf last fall and winter. so, i added another 2 during their big sale they had a couple months ago. i thought i was set. 3 perfect scarves for the fall and winter months - one color, one neutral, one patterned. that's it. i'm done. 

...and then i saw this checked scarf everywhere on the internet (and you may have, too!) and wanted it, in a bad, bad way. what i love about their scarves is that they're big, so they're perfect for bundling, but they're (mostly) made out of lightweight material so i don't feel like i'm suffocating or hurting my neck. so, when i finally discovered that this scarf was from ZARA, i was convinced. i checked the website everyday for about a week, since it was sold out when i finally decided to pull the trigger (doesn't that always happen?!) and then finally got that glorious email notifying me that it was back in stock. i quickly went to my desktop and completed my purchase. 

i love the checked pattern, the colors that just scream fall and winter, and the bulkiness of it. this thing is going to be a savior for the next several months, i can already tell.

and my roommate, you know the one that introduced me to ZARA, already tried to steal it from me once. i'm thinking of installing some sort of tracking device on the thing to keep tabs at all times. 

in separate news, Mike was thrilled to be back to his photographing duties this weekend. 

sweater | Madewell
pants | Calvin Klein (old)
scarf | ZARA
bag | Vince Camuto via Nordstrom Rack
bracelets | Elisabeth Ashlie
feather necklace | Elisabeth Ashlie

TUTORIAL | Flat Iron Curls

with a new haircut comes the fun of figuring out new ways to style! my favorite way to curl my shorter locks is with my flat iron. it's super easy once you get the hang of it and can create a more relaxed look than curling with a traditional curling iron.  

here's a step-by-step of how i do it:

1. start by prepping your hair with some hairspray (or other heat spray, if you use it). my hair is freshly washed and blow-dried upside down using Aquage Uplifting Foam. i like to just do a light spray of hairspray all around to give my hair a little extra hold while i'm curling.
2. section off your hair. i prefer to do 4 sections. the first is from the nape of my neck to the tops of  my ears. 
3. start with a section about 1.5-2 inches wide. i've found that smaller sections work much better with this method. clamp the flat iron onto the top of the section, at the root of your hair. (you may want to practice this a couple times before your iron is turned on) 
4. before moving the iron down your hair, twist 180º. (see the change in the direction of my hand).
5. slowly, start guiding the iron down your hair, pulling out and away from your scalp. continue down the section of hair. it takes me about 3-4 seconds to get through the section.
6. pulling the flat iron all the way through the ends of your hair, you should be left with a nice wave curl. if it's too curly, go back through with the flat iron pulling straight to soften it a bit. if it's not curled enough, repeat the curling method a bit slower.
7. continue around your head, until the entire section is curled. i do this bottom section in 4 sections. check your curls with a hand mirror. if the back looks weird at all or you missed a piece, go back through.
8. continue the same method on the next section. i like to go from about my temples and leave the top half of my hair in a clip.
here's a view of what that second section looks like when it's finished:
9. continuing on, i keep the top section of my hair in a clip while finishing the bulk of my hair.

10. i do the final section, the top of my hair, a bit softer in the curl. i pull the flat iron through a little bit faster than i do on the lower portion of my hair to give it the softness i want.
post-curling, pre-finishing:
11. before doing any finishing, i like to rake my fingers through the curls once they're totally curled. at this time, i go back through and fix any curls that didn't curl quite right.
12. now for the finishing! i use TRESemmé Fresh Start Dry Shampoo on my hair just about every time i style it. it just adds a little extra 'grit' that helps my finish it the way i like. i spray a little on both sides and near my crown.
13. work the dry shampoo into your scalp.
14. now for the fun part: teasing! (or ratting, back combing, bump-it-ing...whatever you like to call it!). my sister has a great tutorial for this. i rake through the mess with my fingers to smooth it out a bit.
15. i like to finish my ends with Bumble & bumble Thickening Dryspun Finish to add some texture to the ends of the curls.  
and you're done! here's the finished product:

once you get the hang of curling using a flat iron, it's an easy way to style your hair and works great on next-day hair, too!

(for those that are curious, my color formula is Redken Shades EQ 5G and 6RB with a little balayage highlight)