Wedding Update, No.5

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We are officially one day away from being able to say, "We're getting married next month!" 

That is wild.

The past six months or so of planning have absolutely flown by. We're definitely in the final stretch now! Nearly everything is set and ready to go. We have all of our vendors finalized, so all we really have left are the small details of the day - signage and small areas to think about decor. We get to do a final walkthrough in June, so I'm looking forward to having our major vendors all together to talk through all the details of the day.

My first bridal shower is this weekend, so the pre-wedding festivities are officially beginning. Between two bridal showers and my bachelorette trip, June is very much going to make everything feel real and imminent. 

My wedding band is being made, as I write. We have some family stones from Mike's family, so they're being made into a band that will go with my engagement ring. Mike still has to pick his ring, which he's having a harder time with than I expected. Although, it's totally understandable considering he's never worn a ring before! 

My first dress fitting was yesterday, so that is also in process! I have gifts for my bridesmaids ready to go and I even have my day-of nail polish color picked out ;)

The last major thing that is left to figure out is my hair and makeup for the day. This is one of those times where being sisters with this girl really comes in handy. I have some ideas, but also want to see what she has up her sleeve. 

As we get closer to the wedding day, I get more and more excited to see it all come together! 

Saturday Style

Welcome back from the long weekend!

I worked a good portion of the weekend, but that was in preparation for having a very short week. I'm heading out to the suburbs on Thursday, when my sister and nephews come to town. Mike and I both worked Sunday and Monday, but had such a pleasant day off on Saturday. We ran some errands, had lunch by the lake, walked through the zoo (one of our favorite things to do on a nice day) and spent the evening catching up on one of our shows that we watch together. It was wonderful to be out enjoying the warm weather. More pleasant than that, though, was having an entire day being just us. Wedding planning/preparation has been overwhelming at times, so it was nice to just be able to relax together. 


Coffee Conversations

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Happy Friday-before-a-long-weekend, also known as, "the best kind"! Truth be told, I'll likely be working over the weekend, but it's still nice to be in the mindset of getting an extra day off next week! 

Speaking of the weekend, SALES. So many sales happening. I'm not going to share them here can find them yourself. But, I will give you a little inside scoop and tell you to check Elisabeth Ashlie in the morning...we may be running a Memorial Day promotion. Maybe. But before then, you need this new Farmer's Market Tote. Fun fact: that's my handwriting!

I realized yesterday that I haven't done a Wedding Update yet this month, so that's coming next week, like on Tuesday since that's almost the last day of the month. 

I've been on the hunt for the perfect pair of distressed denim shorts. I had three requirements: not too short, not too distressed, not diaper-like. I FOUND THEM. These shorts are the perfect length (you can adjust the cuff to whatever length you want!), the perfect amount of distressed, and fit like actual jeans. I believe I bought my regular jeans size, if that helps. 

Ok gotta go to work to make this workday as short as possible! 

Have a great (long) weekend!

Loungin' Around

If I had to pick just one category of clothing to wear for the rest of my life, it would be loungewear. Some of you might think, "yeah, duh. WE ALL WOULD." But, this means that you would have to show up to a wedding in leggings. You so sure about your decision now? I am. I would take being the really weirdly dressed person at a really fancy event for the 364 other days of the year that I'm not at a fancy event.

6 out of 7 days, I'm in at least one of the items seen above. More than likely, my outfit is entirely made of said items. I just can't quit the comfortable, relaxed feel. What I really love is that all the tops are easy to dress up a bit. Throw on your favorite ripped jeans or add some booties and you're a little less lounge-y, but still cozy.

Elisabeth Ashlie Hairties

Sunday Skincare

Sunday has become my official "skincare" day. I use my regular skin care products during the week, but like to do some extra things for my skin and hair about once a week, as well. Since Sunday evening is usually spent relaxing at home, I like to spend a little extra time pampering myself. Plus, I love setting my skin and hair up for success for the week! 

One of my absolute favorite things to do is a mask. I do one at least once a week, depending on what my skin is doing. I switch between Origins Clear Improvement Charcoal Mask (my absolute favorite!) and Origins Original Skin Retexturing Mask (a new discovery!). I'll choose the mask depending on what my skin is doing. If my skin is having a few breakouts or just feels extra oily, I'll use the charcoal mask to clear that all out. If I've been wearing a lot of makeup that week and feel a little grimy, I'll go for the retexturing mask to get some exfoliating. I like to use the Maskimizer spray to get the most out of those products, although it's not necessary. 

After my mask, I'll typically do some kind of lip treatment. I've been enjoying using this sugar scrub lately. It helps get some of the dead skin off, while not being to harsh or drying our my lips. I'll follow with my favorite lip balm. Tip: after a day of wearing a bold lipstick, I'll do the scrub to remove any remnants of color that may have stuck around!

After skin and lips comes hair! I've been admittedly pretty bad about caring for my hair. I heat-style 3-4 times a week and don't ever let my hair air dry. Shout out to the girls who have horrible air-dried hair - I'm one of them! My sister has been hounding me for years to use a hair mask or leave-in conditioner, so I've finally introduced it into my routine. I was always hesitant to use a leave-in or deep conditioner because I assumed it would weigh down my hair and make it hard to style, thus creating a bad hair day and who wants a bad hair day?! I'm happy to report that my assumption was wrong, at least about these two products!

I've been using the Kristin Ess Reconstructive Moisture Mask 2-3 times a week and I can tell that my ends are more moisturized and smooth after using. If I'm really in need of some moisture and TLC, I'll use the Overnight Perfector by Living Proof.

I typically give myself an at-home manicure on Sundays too, so I might add some cuticle cream or heavy hand lotion to the mix!


Coffee Conversations

Good Morning! Milo woke me up at a ripe 6:22am this morning with his incessant purring, so...yeah. I don't even need to sent an alarm on my phone because of him. That fact is sometimes appreciated but mostly irritating, if I'm being honest.

It's been a busy week for me with more errands than usual, so I'm looking forward to having a typical "day at my desk" today. Time is literally flying by - I just saw it out the window. With only about 6 weeks left of work, I'm feeling like I have a million things to do, plan, prep, and finish. It's overwhelming at times, but I know I need to just sit and make a plan for the next few weeks and it will all be a-okay. 

Speaking of errands, I popped into Madewell yesterday and picked up these ultra-comfortable jeans. They're so stretchy and without a single tear or destructed mark, which I was in the market for. All of my other jeans have holes in the knees, so I needed a pair that were whole ;) 

I'm seriously considering pre-ordering this agenda for 2018. 

I've recently gotten back into listening to podcasts and am really enjoying the recent episodes from This American Life

I've been wearing these ear jackets a lot lately!

Hope you have a great weekend!

How I Edit My Instagram Photos

I've received a number of questions about how I edit my photos for Instagram, so I thought a little step-by-step would be a fun way to show my method! I almost exclusively use the A Color Story App, which you can download here

First things first, I take about 20-30 photos. Kidding, sort of. If I'm taking photos of an outfit, I'll take a pile of them with slight changes in my expression and pose and rifle through to find the one I like

Once I've landed on the best one, I turn my brightness all the way up on my phone to see what kind of lighting I'm working with. My light source is a decent sized window to the right of me when taking photos, but the weather can really impact how much I need to edit the brightness. If the original is bright enough to work with, I open it in A Color Story to edit. 

My first editing step is to play with the brightness. I like light and bright photos, but I don't like when they're too light that they get grainy or discolored. I toggle with the brightness a bit until I find one that looks good - sometimes that's just a little to the right, other times it's nearly all the way to the right. 

When brightness is set, I go into contrast to add in a little bit of the definition and...contrast...that was lost when adjusting the brightness. I don't tend towards high-contrast photos, so just a few ticks on the scale will do the trick! Next up is adjusting the temperature. The walls on my rental apartment are an obnoxious yellow that I loathe with many parts of myself. Yellow walls paired with my warm-toned rug make for a strong yellow tint, at times. I'll adjust the temperature to add in some blues, if I'm feeling like I have a lemon filter on the photo. 

Those are the typical adjustments I make to the original - brightness, contrast and temperature. Every once in awhile, on a particularly sunny day, I'll lower the exposure just a hair, but that's not often. 

Next, I move onto the filter

I don't like overly-filtered photos. My fiancé and I couldn't disagree more on this. Let's just say he loves sepia. I bought the "Flashes of Delight" filter pack by Glitter Guide and love it. So many good filters! I almost exclusively use Carrie or Cassidy on my Instagram photos. Carrie has more blue tones, Cassidy is more yellow, so I'll choose based on the existing temperature of the photo. (I.e. if my photo is already erring towards blues, I'll go with Cassidy.) When you first select the filter, it's at 100%, which is usually a bit aggressive. You can see the difference that just one filter makes:

I tone the filter way down, rarely going past the halfway mark on the scale. I find the spot that looks right and set it in place! Once the filter is on, it's ready to be shared

You can see just how much of a difference it makes to take a couple steps to adjust some of the elements of a photo. All in all, the whole process might take me a total of 2 minutes. I've got my methods down pretty solid and know exactly how I like to edit, so it's a rather quick process. Plus, there's nothing better, in the social media world, than a well-edited, cohesive looking feed, if you ask me. It's worth taking that extra 2 minutes to make a photo look just how I'd like it to look! 

Office Inspiration

One of the things that I'm most excited about with our upcoming move to Northern Virginia is getting to set up a new office! I'm lucky enough now to have a designated room in my current apartment that serves mostly as an office, but I cannot wait to have a room that is strictly my office, i.e. doesn't hold anything else. When I say that I'm busting out of the seams of the current room, I'm not exaggerating. With the way the room is laid out with windows, a weird closet, a radiator, and french doors, there's not enough wall space for tall storage, so things are just kind of everywhere. It drives me a little bit nuts, but I know I only have another month and a half or so of working out of it, so I can just push through!

Here are my thoughts on how I'd like to set up the new space:

I'm really excited to get a proper desk. For the last two years, I've been using an old Ikea dining table as a desk. It works well and I love the desktop space it gives me, but it's pretty beat up. I just recently realized that I would love to have a 2-person desk, like you see above. One side will be just for my computer, the other will serve as my workspace for making jewelry and packaging up orders. With all of that stuff happening on just one surface right now, you can imagine how chaotic it can get! I've had an Ikea system as a desk before, so I'm looking forward to (hopefully) having one again!

One thing I'm definitely buying is that white tulip table to use as a work table. My roommate has a kitchen table that is currently stored in our office, which is perfect for my assistant when she comes to work at my place. I'll need some surface for someone to work on, as well as a place for me to take photos, so that table will be just what I need!

I'm also hoping to store my big, full-sized mirror that I take most of my outfit photos for Instagram in the office! I'd love to have a prettier place to take daily photos that doesn't have the bed in the background ;) While my job is primarily Elisabeth Ashlie, I'd like to create a little corner that helps keep me organized for Lauren Loves.

Other than those big things,  I already have a few shelving units that will just be moved right in and utilized completely. I need more actual storage versus just pretty storage, so I'm sure I'll be raiding the boxes and baskets section of Ikea and The Container Store to have a proper place for everything. I'll add in some greenery and small decorative objects, but want to keep it mostly simple and clean. One thing I'd really love to have is a wooden (or other material) cut-out sign that says, "Elisabeth Ashlie" for the wall. I'm sure that's something I could find on Etsy, but if you know anyone personally or have purchased something similar from someone, will you let me know?

I've already got my list going for what I'll need/want to buy, so I can't wait to actually get in there and make it happen!

Desk | Tulip Table | Wall Mirror | Stool | Shelving Units

Coffee Conversations

This photo is, in no way, an accurate description of how I drank my coffee this morning...because mine was had in the 5 o'clock hour on the way to the airport for a 7am flight. Speaking of, I could use another cup or two. Alas, the early morning wake up was for a good cause because I'm officially on vacation for the next three days. And let me tell you, planning to have a little getaway two months out from our wedding was actually the best idea I've had in awhile. I could use a couple days without work, without wedding stuff, just relaxing and soaking up this time before everything gets just a little wild for a few months. I also can't remember the last time that just me, my mom and sister went away somewhere together, so I'm looking froward to making some memories! 

In other news, Mike is on his "bachelor weekend" in San Diego with some of his buddies! Sometimes I feel like he was more excited for this trip than he is for our own wedding, but it's cool, I get it. The man loves his friends. (Not to say that I don't also love my friends, but we are very different socially.)  

On to the other stuff: I'm getting really into In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware and it. is. good. If you're looking for a good read, I'd recommend it! If you need other book suggestions, read the comments on this photo

If you are fair-skinned like me and could use a little sun-kissed-ness before baring your arms and legs in the warm weather, I've been using this gradual tan lotion and really like it! It's natural looking and easy to apply. 

These joggers/house pants/leggings/cozies should be purchased by you and everyone you know. THEY'RE SO SOFT. You are welcome, by the way. 

We're making progress on our townhouse/condo hunt in Virginia! We're planning to go in early July to see some places, in person, but have been sent over quite a few listings to see what's available and I have a good feeling! We will just be renting since we don't know the area, don't know how often Mike will actually need to be at school, don't know if we will be staying after he finishes his program, etc etc etc. I'm looking forward to having more space to live in and to not have to walk up multiple flights of stairs with groceries ;) 

Mike and I are planning to shop for wedding bands next week! We have some family stones that we're hoping to use in my band, so I'm anxious to see what our jeweler can come up with for us. I'm hoping to share another Wedding Update soon! 

Hope you have a great weekend! 

Craving a Beach Getaway

Do you ever have those times in life where you think, "man, I really need a vacation."

Yes, yes I do. That would be everyday of my life.

Ahh, yes. Of course. I can't think of a single person that I know that would turn down a vacation. Although, I do know people who would prefer to stay home versus traveling. I would maybe put myself in that category because I'm such a homebody, but I do really enjoy a nice getaway and exploring new places. I like vacation, but I'm always anxious to get back home and back to my routine. I'm one of those.

However, at this very point in time, I would not say no to a little sunshine, relaxation, and maybe a little kiss from the sun to my skin (read: my skin is so fair). What happens to work out well is that I'm actually headed for South Carolina this weekend with my mom and sister for a little girl's weekend - the last one just the 3 of us before I get married! So, my craving for warmth and sunshine is not totally benign - it's greatly heightened due to the fact that I will have it in about 3 days. Hallelujah!


Instagram, Lately

Hello! Welcome to the updated Lauren Loves :) 

With all the changes that have been going on around here, I wanted a more traditional blog look and feel, so that's where we're at. Plus, I can easily link to all the things up in the main menu, so you can have an easier time finding whatever you may be looking for. 

That aside, I thought I'd do an Instagram roundup, since I haven't done one in awhile. These are all of my most-worn, most-liked looks on Instagram, lately. And yes, you do see this cardigan three times in three different colors. I couldn't resist. And also, got them all on sale, so that's cool. Clearly, I wear one every single day, so I'd consider them a good investment.

 Cardigan | Top | Jeans | Flats | Purse (exact color sold out, similar option) | Nail Color
Top | Purse | Watch | Flats

We're still in cool Spring weather in Chicago, so I haven't yet been able to pull out any of my dresses or sleeveless tops from under my bed - I'm anxiously awaiting that day! Until then, you'll find me in some combination of a cozy but pulled together outfit. 

Coffee Conversations

Happy Friday and Cinco de Mayo! Now that is a dynamic duo right there. I'm looking forward to enjoy some margaritas and Mexican food later! 

This week went by pretty quickly for me and has been quite busy with work, so I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of that 5:00pm mark when I can shut it all down for a couple days. Speaking of shutting things down, I announced my Summer Break plans for Elisabeth Ashlie this week - did you see? It's going to be pretty strange to take such a long, pre-planned break, but I truly can't imagine the alternative. I'm thankful to be in a position where I can take time off of work for everything that is going to be going on this summer! 

I've rediscovered my love for tee shirts, guys. I've always been a jeans and a tee shirt girl, but was having the hardest time finding good tees in recent months. These just arrived on my doorstep this week and I love them! I ordered three colors, but will likely only keep the black and grey. The taupe color basically matched my skin, so it wasn't good for me. BUT the others are classics that will get a ton of use in the coming months. 

Elisabeth Ashlie made it on the Crate and Barrel Blog! We did a private registry event last month at their Oakbrook location and you can see us included in the recap post here

My mom, sister, and I are headed to South Carolina at the end of next week for a little girl's trip before all the wedding festivities really get rolling. I'm so looking forward to a little getaway and some warm weather! 

This is the cutest keychain I've ever seen.

I feel like I need this for our Europe trip!

Okay, gotta go dream about tacos for the rest of the day. Have a great weekend! 

Gifts for Mom

Mother's Day is coming up quickly, so I thought I'd share some easy and good gift ideas for the mom(s) in your life! Whether she's a working mom and needs a new watch or a stay-at-home mom and could seriously use some new bubble bath to relax. I love that there's a day set aside to show mom's our appreciation for all that they do - both for our own and for those that we know.

If you're not the gift-giving type in that way, consider making her breakfast, offering to do a task or two around the house, or planning a fun day date for the two of you. I'll be with my mom and sister on Mother's Day, so I'm planning on going through this list and picking out one or two things to gift each of them that day!

Don't forget to shop Elisabeth Ashlie's Mother's Day Picks!

Elisabeth Ashlie Sugared Fruits Candle | Kate Spade "mom" Keychain | Elisabeth Ashlie Personalized Family Necklace

Saturday Style

It was a classic Spring weekend in Chicago - rainy and cold. It rained non-stop from Friday night through this morning, so it ended up being pretty low-key...full of take-out and movies. I was looking at my calendar last night and realized that I have exactly one weekend left that doesn't have a single obligation scheduled between now and August. ONE. The good news is nearly every weekend is full of fun and exciting things, but this is not how I usually like to live my life. I can already feel myself crashing in August!

It's hard to believe that we're already this far along in the year, but this marks the beginning of the real stuff - trips, showers, fittings, final meetings - for the Wedding season, so I've been anxiously awaiting May's arrival! Also, seriously anxiously awaiting warmer temps and some sunshine. Until then, I've got my rainy day outfit on point, which is all that really matters 😉