Recipe | Summer Spinach Salad

i'm a big salad eater. most weeks, i prep ingredients for a salad for lunch or dinner everyday. sometimes it's caesar or a chopped salad, but lately it's been this summer spinach salad. i took a recipe from my mom of a salad that she's been making for years that i really like and tweaked it just a tiny bit. what makes it so good, though, is the homemade dressing. it's a very simplified french dressing that is so tasty. the crunch of the shaved brussel sprouts with the flavor of the bacon is just too good.

salad ingredients
handful of spinach
1/2-1 cup of shaved brussel sprouts
1/4 cup diced cherry tomatoes
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1/4 cup crumbled bacon

dressing ingredients
1 cup canola oil
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs worcestershire sauce
1/4-1/2 cup chopped onion (optional)

combine all dressing ingredients in bowl or tupperware container. stir or shake well, until all ingredients are combined. best served chilled. 

for the brussel sprouts, i just hand chopped them with one of my big knives to the size that i wanted. you could also buy the pre-shaved sprouts at the grocery store to save some time! i cooked enough bacon and hard-boiled eggs to make several salads so that i could just through them together as i wanted them. toss all the salad ingredients into a bowl together. add the dressing and give it a good stir. salt and pepper to taste. 

it's super easy and super yummy for a quick lunch or dinner. it's also great for a larger group of people, just beware that the spinach will wilt if you dress it too soon before eating! 


Travel Diary | Palmetto Bluff, SC

my family had the best time over Memorial Day Weekend in Palmetto Bluff, SC. my sister and brother-in-law were married at PB six years ago, so we've known about the area for awhile but have never stayed there for vacation, so it was fun to try a new place and explore everything it had to offer.  it's a remote little village on the May River with the most beautiful scenery. there are massive trees with Spanish moss, an expansive view of the river, and that Southern charm that you can only find in that area. 

while staying there, we rode bikes, played several games of bocce ball, kayaked, swam, and enjoyed going porchin', which was probably our favorite thing because it involved drinking complimentary lemonade and sweet tea, eating cookies, and sitting in a screened in porch on the river. how can you possibly not go porchin' everyday? when in the South...

Mike and i rode a tandem bike all around the village to look at the beautiful homes and explore a bit. by the way, tandem biking is where it's at, especially for the passenger in the back. it's all the fun of biking without the mess of steering so you can actually take in the scenery. we also kayaked in a two-seater because apparently we can't do anything alone. actually, i was just nervous because i've never kayaked before and there were some alligators, albeit small, in the lagoon we were in so i wasn't about to be left for dead on my own. 

no matter what we did, there was this air of peacefulness around that was so pleasant. if i wasn't already convinced that i would love to live in the South again one day, this sealed the deal for me. and if i can't actually live there, i will settle for a home that looks like it belongs.

we spent less than 24 hours in Charleston our last night as we had an early flight the next morning and didn't want to make the 2 hour drive from Palmetto. it was so fun to be back! Mike and i took my parents to one of the spots we went for lunch, a couple of the historical sites we visited, and walked around the city. 
my brother-in-law rented this cute little number for the weekend, so Mike and i took advantage of it for a few drives. i'm now convinced that any warm weather vacation will not be complete without a pint-sized convertible to cruise around in.

just a few shots of the village from our last day. isn't it so quaint and charming? 

Sweater Weather

if i had to pick a favorite type of weather, it would be sweater weather, for sure. if a cozy knit sweater, denim shorts, and some simple accessories could be worn everyday, i'd be perfectly content with that. know what i would also be perfectly content with? not having a big "catch up on all things LIFE" upon returning home from traveling. that was yesterday for me. my brain didn't quite make the switch from vacation to work mode overnight, so it was a bit of a struggle. it's like i needed a vacation from my vacation to get me back into the swing of my routine. 

speaking of routine, why is it so darn hard to get back into a routine once you've gotten out of it? i had a real nice thing goin' with early mornings and getting to the gym almost every day before i left and now the thought of either of those things puts me to sleep. i guess it's sort of like ripping off a bandaid. the first couple days may hurt, but then i'll feel back to normal and back into my routine. it's just a matter of not hitting the snooze three times (which i did this morning) and slipping on those gym shoes. i may just keep the bandaid on a couple days longer...

sweater | H&M
shorts | Levi's
sandals | Target
bag | J.Crew
necklace | Elisabeth Ashlie
rings | Sole Society
bracelets | Elisabeth Ashlie

Southern Greetings!

HELLO from South Carolina! 

my mom, sister, nephews, and i have been here for a few days and have been enjoying each and every one! we've made a couple trips to the beach, plenty of walks over to the pool, and eaten more food than a person needs for an entire month. this is our first vacation with my nephews, so i wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but it's been more fun than i even thought it could be! one of my favorite things is to watch David discover new things and explore everything. he's in that sweet spot where he's independent enough that he'll walk off on his own to look at something but come running back over to be picked up. so, basically, he's an aunt's dream. 

it's been great being with Luke, too, especially since he seems to enjoy spending time in my arms. he's my own personal space heater - the boy produces more heat than a fire. and he's had plenty of smiles to share, which is always so nice to see! i've also mastered putting him in the ergo all by myself, so i'd say i've made some great strides this week in aunthood. 

mike is due to arrive with my dad today, so i'm anxious for that to happen! we're all looking forward to a weekend together enjoying the weather and beautiful surroundings! here's to hoping that i don't miss my knees next time i'm applying my SPF 50 #ouch

Wedding Season

with wedding season in full swing, wedding outfit searching is also in full swing. i feel like in summer, more than any other season, there's a wider range of casual to fancy. whether you're attending a low-key ceremony or something that requires a bit more glam, the options are endless. for dressier occasions, i usually go for more muted colors, dramatic jewelry, and classic footwear. for something on the more casual end, i love mixing bright colors with prints, adding fun jewelry, and touching on some current trends, like that ice blue woven clutch. it's perfect for summer and comes in my current favorite color to boot. 

here's a few of my favorite options for summer weddings: 
blue linen dress: LOFT || crystal ring set: Sole Society || nail color: otherwise engaged by OPI || blush lace skirt: H&M || striped blouse: H&M || pearl + tassel necklace: BaubleBar || navy tank dress: Banana Republic || lip color: Clinique Chubby Stick in woppin watermelon || nude wedges: J.Crew Factory || crystal cluster bracelet: Sole Society || floral pumps: Sam Edelman via Zappo's || woven clutch: H&M || white stud earrings: Kate Spade || scalloped top: TopShop || neutral wedges: Target || scalloped skirt: LOFT || dotted blouse: H&M || flared skirt: J.Crew Factory || tassel statement earrings: Elisabeth Ashlie || textured cotton dress: J.Crew Factory

Saturday Style | 17

another weekend in the books, another monday morning. i don't have the usual monday morning hatred that some people do, but i could certainly go for another weekend morning. this morning morning, in particular, is a good once since i'm sitting on the couch with my chatty nephew thinking he's communicating with me but really saying things," ducka" and "whasaa". i consider this my new standard for how'd i like to start the week.

a quick rewind to the weekend: mike and i celebrated him finishing up his PTA program on friday night with dinner at one of my favorite local spots. i'm incredibly proud and so excited to see what's next for him! saturday was beautiful, so we headed to the Signature Lounge for drinks on the 96th floor. the view of the city and surrounding suburbs is unbeatable from up there, so we soaked that in as long as we could. we ended the day with some pizza and a little relaxing back at my apartment before he headed back to the burbs. yesterday, i packed a bag and headed to the airport to fly down to my sister's. this morning, we're getting all packed in the car to drive down to South Carolina for a little girls + 2 boys trip. i'm so looking forward to spending this time with all of them! 

my favorite go-to summer night outfit is something like this: my favorite jean shorts + a printed blouse + some fun accessories. i like getting a bit more dressed up while still remaining comfortable and casual just enough to do anything. 
top: H&M | shorts: J.Crew Factory | wedges: Franco Sarto via DSW | lip: Bite Lush Lip Tint | rope chain necklace: Forever 21 | art deco statement necklace: Forever 21 | geo clutch: H&M | hairstyle: The Small Things Blog | nail: OPI, A Grape Fit! 

Make Every Day A Vacation Day

Summer is just around the corner, which means that my craving for a warm weather vacation just went from mild to must-be-satisfied. While I would love to be able to hop on a plane and jet off to somewhere sunny and tropical for weeks at a time, everyday responsibilities win out. But that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of opportunities to turn any day into a vacay with a few simple steps.

1. Put on your most tropical/beachy/vacation-inspired outfit. For me, that means wearing color, light knits, and sandals. 
2. Pick an activity, whether indoor or outdoor, that allows you to hit the 'pause' button on everyday things and relax for a bit. 
3. Enjoy sips and snacks that can mentally transport you to your favorite tropical spot.

An easy and cost-effective way to celebrate a little vacation at home would be to pop over to your best girlfriend's place for some fruity drinks, DIY at home manicures and pedicures, and a little appetizer spread. I recently tried the new sparkling alcoholic spritzer from Palm Breeze and it would be perfect for this. I picked up the Pineapple Mandarin Orange flavor, which was a great blend of pineapple and orange. I'm sure the Ruby Red Citrus flavor is just as delicious. Paired with an electric pink mani and some chips and guacamole (my go-to summer snack!), I'd be all set for a little mental vacation. 

One of my favorite things to do in the city during the summer is take in a concert during The Grant Park Music Festival. It's held in the pavilion, which allows you to bring your own picnic dinner, including drinks! It's perfect for meeting friends after work and enjoying some music and snacks together. 

please note: I did not consume any alcohol in public places while working on this project. The cans shown in the photo were enjoyed inside my apartment before shooting any photos!

With the weather warming up, Mike and I have been taking walks along the harbor and lakefront on the weekends. Before too long, we'll probably be heading over to the beach for a couple hours to soak up some rays, so I'm going to need to stock my fridge with post-beach outing refreshments. I'm lucky enough to live in a city that boasts such a beautiful beach and lakefront, so that I can very easily enjoy a mini vacation whenever I choose! 
While I may not be flying off to some remote island anytime soon, I'm definitely planning on taking advantage of every opportunity the city offers to enjoy my summer and get in some good time of rest and relaxation. And that is how you #VacayEveryDay! Cheers! And, of course, please drink responsibly. 

disclosure |  this post was sponsored by Palm Breeze through their partnership with POPSUGAR. while i was compensated by POPSUGAR to write a post about Palm Breeze, all opinions are my own.

Edgy Feminine

wedding season is officially upon us, ladies. (i'd say folks, but the only man looking at this page is my boyfriend. oh, he stopped reading it a long time ago. the romance is officially dead. and i'm not bitter about it at all.) 

anyway, weddings! they're starting! Mike and i have two that we're attending this summer, one in June and another in August, so i've already started thinking about what i'm going to wear. i have that kind of luck where i can't find anything in stores for a particular event when i start looking. it's like all of the retailers i shop at get together and say, "hey, i hear she might need a dress for something. let's make the most ill-fitting, unflattering dresses and make her shop for weeks with no luck". so, i've learned to buy a good dress when i find it, whether or not i have an immediate need for it. this dress falls into that category, so i'm set for the June wedding, at least. 

as you can maybe assume, i don't get dressed up too often. if i get dressed during the week, it's almost always in workout clothes. sometimes i'll put together a 'real people' outfit if i'm running errands or going to do some work at a coffee shop, but that's maybe once a week. so yeah, not much dressing up is happening. BUT when i do find myself wanting to wear something like a dress, i like to pair it with slightly less-expected accessories. this linen dress is feminine and sweet - the soft color, the cutout detail in the back, the bow belt, the ever-present wrinkles...oh wait. (linen, by the way, is the worst. you just look at it and it wrinkles.) to offset some of the girly-ness, i picked this moto jacket, some chunky statement necklaces, and a pair of black heels to add a little edge. i love mixing and matching styles like this. it's fun to change things up! and it makes this dress real easy to wear to more than one wedding or event because it can look totally different depending on how it's styled. 

and that, my friends, is a win in my book.

dress | LOFT
jacket | Banana Republic
necklaces | Target and Stella & Dot
bag | Rebecca Minkoff (marble is out of stock, but these are other colors)
heels | old as the hills. and no, that's not a brand name ;)

Primrose Post

one of my serious shopping weaknesses is paper products. they get me every time. whether i'm browsing a specialty store or discount store, i will find my way to the paper goods section and i will consider buying at least one item. since i have an overflowing amount of notepads and notebooks, i'm on a "look but don't buy" kick, but i could. ohhh, i could buy all the paper goods. 

one thing i won't pass up? cards. i remember that my mom used to have an entire cabinet full of gifts and cards that she could go to in emergency situations. whether she was reminded of a birthday coming up, an anniversary, or something like a friend getting a new job, she always had something on hand that she could pull out of that magical cabinet and personalize for the recipient. i loved that cabinet. 

i've become the same way with cards. i have a box full of blank cards that can be used for anything. i still believe there's a lot of power in sending an actual birthday card to people, instead of just a quick birthday text or social media shout-out. putting pen to paper and wishing them a happy day or just letting them know that i'm thinking of them - it's important to me! 

when i heard about Primrose Post, i knew i would love it. as a small biz owner myself, i love the story of two friends coming together and creating something that they love. not only are the cards they create so dang beautiful, they're also limited edition, which makes them even more unique. the cards come in packs of four for different occasions:
i have quite a few bridal showers and weddings coming up this summer, so the wedding season pack is going to be used up, for sure! 
the most versatile pack is the emergency pack. it's all in the name - cards for pretty much any occasion just when you need them. birthdays, graduations, promotions, loss, just because...almost anything can be celebrated or shared with one of these cards.
the thank you pack is a pack of 4 beautiful 'thank you' cards that are the prettiest shade of coral (for now!). there's something about sending a handwritten thank you card that is intentional and meaningful. add that fact that they're beautiful, and this pack is a winner! 
okay, so you're totally convinced that you need some Primrose Post in your life, right? right. well, you're in luck! Primrose Post is giving away all three packs to THREE lucky winners! 
to enter to win all three of the packs, leave a comment here about what types of cards you'd like to see in future packs! graduation, new home - anything! word is that a 'baby' pack is coming this summer - perfect for pregnancy announcements, baby showers, and meeting the new babe!

you can also enter on Instagram and Twitter! be sure to enter by Thursday at midnight! 

Saturday Style | 16

i can hardly believe the weekend is already over and we're back to a monday morning. i remember when i was younger and older people, especially those with children, would always say, "life goes by faster every year!" and i thought they were just saying that to encourage me to appreciate my childhood when i was desperately wishing to be older. turns out, they weren't lying. i feel like hours turn to months and suddenly we're approaching the halfway mark of 2015 and i'm like, "wait, i thought it was 2014?" with some upcoming travel and things going on this month for me, May is basically over, which means that it's June, which is also basically over since my calendar is pretty full, so next week is the 4th of July and i don't have any plans yet! #toomuchcaffeine 

let's rewind to the weekend, yes? it was rainy and chilly and very fall-like. in fact, Mike and i walked to breakfast Saturday morning and both commented on how it even smelled like a fall day. uhhh, summer, you ain't gettin' off that easy, darlin'. we had a delicious breakfast at one of our favorite local spots and then walked through the farmer's market at the elementary school across the street. we picked up some delicious strawberries and my little Saturday-loving heart was completely content by noon. 

when it comes to the "ideal Saturday" activities, Mike and i couldn't be more different. to me, a great Saturday would be spent mostly how we spent the day, with some more coffee, maybe a walk along the lakefront, cooking some dinner together, and watching a movie. since i spend my weekdays in my apartment working, i'm desperate to get out of the house and do active things on the weekends. Mike is quite the opposite since he is always on the move during the workweek. he would be pretty much in heaven if he slept in, watched some TV, napped, and maybe want out to dinner. i could probably talk him into the movie with no trouble, too. our ideas of relaxation are just slightly different ;) we've learned pretty well how to compromise, though. he's good about being up for any activity to get me out of the house, so long as we end up back there at some point to just sit and not have to move. and if i'm being honest, i'm pretty okay with that, too. 

tee | J.Crew
jeans | ZARA (similar)
vest | Target
flats | J.Crew Factory
necklaces | Elisabeth Ashlie (here and here)

Spring Hues

i know what you're thinking...color and a skirt? who is this girl? it's a new me, yawl! (i like to spell phonetically. actually, i typed in ya'll and it autocorrected to that. it's like even my laptop has a midwestern accent.) anyway, yes, big things over here. color, skirts, skin - pasty as it may be - gimme all of them. 

if i'm being real honest, i walked to get coffee yesterday afternoon in jeans and a tee shirt and about halfway through, when i was on the brink of sweating, i thought, "ugh, it's too warm". and then i thought about how winter lasted 38752 months and how all i ever wanted for that time was to be able to walk outside without a jacket and not be cold and here we are and i'm already complaining. i checked myself before i completely wrecked myself, but it was a close call. it's funny how quickly things can change depending on your circumstances. 

that's been on my mind quite a bit lately. a friend of mine said, "the grass isn't always greener on the other side, it's greener where you water it". HILARIOUS SIDE NOTE: i just googled that to find the original source of the quote and it's justin bieber. JUSTIN BIEBER. this is the official death of my blogging career. i'm quoting justin freakin' bieber. and now i can hear him rap-singing it in my head and have completely lost my train of thought. 

welp, see ya. 

top | Evereve 
skirt | Banana Republic (similar)
shoes | Madden Girl via Marshall's (similar, similar)
bracelets | Elisabeth Ashlie
clutch | Anthropologie
necklace | Elisabeth Ashlie