36 hours in New Haven, CT

One of my favorite things about the next couple years in Mike's and my life is the opportunity to really explore the Northeast. Neither of us had imagined living outside of Washington, D.C., let alone this part of the country, so I'm hoping to take advantage of our time here and travel the area! I've been to Boston before with my sister, but would love to go back and experience it again with him. I'm dying to spend some time in Vermont and would love to explore parts of Maine, as well. On top of us living in this area, one of my best friends is spending the next year living in New Haven, CT! I went to hang out with her last weekend and it was my first time in CT. It was a quick trip, but we packed it in and followed many of your suggestions for what to do and where to eat! 

I left at about 9:45am on Friday morning and made it to New Haven at 4pm. I got caught up in a bit of traffic crossing the GW Bridge in New York and it was slow going after that, but the drive was so easy and otherwise pretty scenic. My favorite part was coming up to NYC and being able to see so much of the skyline from the highway - it reminded me of Chicago and made me nostalgic for our old home!

She showed me around the city a bit and we explored Yale's campus. The campus is so beautiful! It was cool to be walking through a small city and then, on the next block, find yourself on a beautiful campus. We got dinner at Pepe's Pizza that night. So many of you recommended it, so I knew I couldn't very well spend time there and not go to Pepe's. Listen, it was good pizza. But those of you that told me that it's the "best pizza in the world" have clearly forgotten that I'm from Chicago, home of the actual best pizza in the world 😉 But really, I'd totally go back there again - it was delish! 

We woke up Saturday morning and made the short drive over to The Pantry for brunch. There was a short line outside, but it was the perfect fall day, so we didn't mind having to wait. I ordered the California Benedict and will most certainly be craving it for weeks to come. The only thing I regret is not ordering a chocolate chip pancake, so I guess I'll have to go back. 

What I Wore:

After brunch, we made our way over to Stony Creek Brewery, which is right on the water! It was such a nice day, so we were able to sit outside and enjoy the warmth of the sun and the endless amounts of people watching. The only thing I would've done differently was plan ahead to bring some snacks - I was jealous of everyone that was picnicking!

On our way back, we drove through East Rock Park to see the view of the entire city. I'd love to hike around there, but we weren't prepared, so we drove it instead. It offers a beautiful view of the city and the water and you can even spot Long Island on a clear day. 

Later that evening, we went and enjoyed some cocktails at Elm City Social, which was a cool place. Being that it was "Halloween", there was ample amounts of people watching and costume guessing to be done.

And just like that, it was time for me to get back on the road and drive home! It was a quick trip but so fun to explore a new area.

Coffee Conversations

Hello Lovely Travel Mug

Good morning and happy Friday! I'm taking my coffee to go this morning, as I hit the road to drive to Connecticut for the weekend! I'm visiting my best friend in New Haven - I can't wait to see her and to explore a new (to me) area!

Speaking of road trips, I asked for your podcast recommendations on Instagram Stories yesterday and you did not disappoint. So many good options came through, but I downloaded the first few episodes or: Dirty John, Generation Why, and Someone Knows Something. If you're curious, I shared a list of all of the recommended ones on my IG stories - so head there to check them out! 

I'm looking forward to getting to wear some of my favorite fall finds this weekend, since it should be fairly chilly in CT. I packed this favorite moto jacket, this poncho, two of these long sleeves, and this fall bag

I gave myself a fresh Fall manicure with this perfect red last night. I don't usually do red, but this one is too good to pass up. Not too red, not too burgundy. 

For some strange reason, one of the things I'm most excited about in a future home is the potential to have a pantry that looks like this. It's just so perfectly organized and beautiful!

I picked this beach wave spray up the other day and really like it, so far! I just spray a small amount on my waves after I've curled them and it makes them perfectly piece-y and textured. 

Hope you have a great weekend! 

Bookshelf Transformation

As promised in this post about my closet, today I'm showing you how I took a $60 bookshelf from Ikea and used it to completely transform the feel and function of my closet! 

You may remember that this bookshelf originally lived inside my studio for Elisabeth Ashlie. While it served its purpose well in there for a couple months, once I brought on a new assistant to help me, we had to rethink the setup of the studio a bit. The bookshelf needed a new home and I knew I had to get a little creative with where we were going to utilize it. We've used up pretty much all of the space in this townhouse, so there's not just an open wall for a giant bookshelf to be put on. 

Much to my surprise, it was the exact right width to fit at the end of my closet. I removed a wire hanging rack from the wall (which was there when we moved in) and dragged 70 pound bookshelf all the way into my closet. I could've waited until Mike got home to assist in that part, but that would mean having patience once I've made a decor decision, which I have none of. The bottom half serves as the perfect shoe storage for all of my most-worn shoes, while the top half is a mini vanity. I added one extra shelf to the bookcase, so that I could set it up how I wanted it. 

Adding the bookshelf totally transformed the look and feel of my closet! It feels much more open and functional. I like having a simpler solution to my shoe storage and not having a random bookshelf being stored in our garage for no reason. 

Inside My Closet

Hey, welcome to my closet! Come on in and take a look around.

One of the things that totally sold me on our townhouse were the his and hers closets in the master. Mike and I could definitely share a closet (he owns approximately 14 pieces of clothing), but the prospect of having a walk-in closet that was all my own was too good to pass up. There are other things about the home that made it a good fit, too 😉

The closet came stocked with those wire shelves, which I really appreciate coming from Chicago rental apartments with usually sub-par closet situations. I knew I wanted to eliminate under-bed storage in our new room, so just about everything made it into this closet or our dresser. 

If you follow me on Instagram, then you know that I've since updated the closet a bit (I added a bookshelf), which I'm going to show you here tomorrow! But, in case you live with a similar closet like this and want ideas for how to organize, I wanted to show you how I lived with it for about 2 months before changing it up.  

Aside from camis and lounge shirts/basic tees, which I fold up and store in this hanging organizer, I hang all of my tops. I like to be able to see what I have and to keep things free of wrinkles, so these fabric hangers come in handy! I never have issues with shoulders getting stretched out of shape or items falling off. 

My favorite feature in this closet is the space to have a little bench by the window. Also, a window in the closet is kind of awesome. I do have the blinds closed most of the time, with a semi-opaque curtain pulled to protect my clothes from any sun damage. However, even with those two things, I typically get enough natural light that I don't have to use the overhead light - I mostly dislike overhead lights. I found this bench at Home Goods and love having it in there. Admittedly, it gets a little overrun with clothes sometimes, but I try to keep it clear to hold things that need to be washed, hung back up, or for new items coming in. Adding this marble tray and this candle just give it a bit of a more homey feel, which I'm very into.

These shoe boxes are great for out of season shoe storage! I stash all my heels and fancy shoes in them so that they're not taking up space under our bed or on the floor of my closet.

My other favorite thing is my nail polish and lipstick organizers. This nail polish organizer fits all of my polish colors, which makes seeing what I have available super convenient.  I love these lipstick holders for the shades that I want accessible. The "countertop" on this shoe organizer works really well to store things like these holders. 

I hung this old initial hook that I have from Anthropologie so that I could store and display my absolute favorite travel bag/weekender

My most-worn shoes are within reach and sight at all times with the use of this hanging organizer and this shoe rack

Wallets, zip pouches, and travel bags all get stored in this wire basket on the floor, next to this 3-drawer organizer. In this organizer, I have all of my extra beauty products, hair products, hair tools, and other things that I don't need to keep in our bathroom.

When I was first unpacking and organizing my closet, I tried to think through the items, products, and shoes that I reach for most often. Those were the things that laid the groundwork for how I wanted to lay the room out and organize it. Because I'm extra special, I hung all of my clothes by color, which is white, grey and black 😂 I took out all of the "fancy" clothes that I don't normally wear and put them elsewhere. All I see when I look at my hanging clothes are the things that I do and will wear on a normal day. That makes finding what I'm looking for a lot easier, and there isn't an overwhelming amount of clothes staring back at me when I walk inside in the morning. 

As mentioned above, I've changed it up a little bit since we moved in, so I'll share that update tomorrow! 


Things I Own in Multiples

A few weeks ago, I shared on Instagram stories that a lot of my weekly-wear items in my closet are in multiples. I'm the kind of shopper where, when I find something good, I want it in all the neutral colors. They're mostly closet basics (think tees and cardigans), since I live in basics. I figure if I like something enough to buy it in more than one color, then it's worth sharing, right? 

I bought this sleeveless body con dress in grey last year and loved it so much that I picked up black this year. It's really great for layering - throw a cardigan or moto jacket over it for an effortless, stylish outfit. 

You can see it styled here.

These cardigans are a fall/winter staple, if you ask me. They're just oversized enough, not too hot, and so comfortable. 

You can see them styled here and here.

I love this style of thermal wrap, which is made obvious by the three that I own. They're fitted in the arms, but still relaxed with the drape-front and hood. 

You can see them styled here and here.

Finding a well-fitting, high quality tee is basically my life's mission. It's hard to do, so when I do, I buy it in multiple colors. I've been known to have 5+ colors of the same style of tee in my life. Don't judge. These tees are great because they're a relaxed fit without being baggy. Plus, I love the pocket!

You can see them styled here.

Another style of tee that I love is this one. They work well to dress up a little bit with booties and a moto jacket. 

You can see it styled here

I basically live in puffer vests in the fall and winter. I love that they keep your core warm but don't get you overheated (like if you're wearing a thick cardigan). These are great because they're thin enough to wear as a permanent part of your outfit. It doesn't feel like you're wearing outerwear inside your home, so you can actually build an outfit around them. 

See them styled here and here

Speaking of moto jackets, this suede and this faux leather are so good! My favorite way to wear these is paired with distressed denim and one of those tees above. 

You can see them styled here and here.

More than ever, I'm reaching for leggings when I get dressed in the morning. I love to be comfortable  but still feel put together (aka not in pajamas) while I'm working, so leggings are the perfect compromise. Black is a classic, of course, but I love these grey ones for something a little different.

See them styled here and here.

After leggings, my next great love is a good pair of sneakers 😉 Since a lot of my outfits are athleisure, I find myself reaching for sneakers when I'm heading out the door. Finding a comfortable, well-fitting, and rightly-colored sneaker can be tough, but not with these babies in pink and angora.

See them styled here.

A good pair of sneakers that also work really well for working out is another staple in my closet. These are super lightweight and breathable, but provide good support and are just simple enough. The grey go with everything, while I like the pink for a little pop with an all-black workout look.

You can see them styled here.

Confession time: this isn't even all of the multiples I own 🙈 
They are, however, the most-worn items in my closet, so that's gotta count for something! 
For style inspiration, be sure to follow me on Instagram.


Coffee Conversations

It's been one of those weeks where even Milo could use a little coffee 😴
But Friday is here and Friday is always a good day!

Our Cat Mom mug has been restocked at Elisabeth Ashlie! Along with this beauty

Did you see the new curated boxes, too? Cozy and Warm Box, The Newlyweds Box, The Big Day Box (so perfect for brides on their wedding day!), and The Housewarming Box

Our holiday collection is launching on NOVEMBER 1. I cannot wait to share all the things!

Speaking of sharing, I need to share this recipe with you, if you don't already know it. This Quinoa Enchilada Bake is so. good. Like, so good. It reheats like an absolute champ, too, so it's a great option for lunches! I add a pound of ground turkey (cooked on the stove and then mixed in with the rest of it) and as much fresh sweet corn as I can possibly toss in (we love sweet corn), but otherwise follow the recipe to a T. Try it!

Planning on wearing these sneakers all weekend long. So comfortable! 

The LOFT sale is still happening, so get this poncho STAT. And then get this perfect (and incredibly priced) long sleeve tee to wear under it (30% off with code ENJOY). You are welcome

I shared on Instagram stories yesterday that I'm already having to rethink some things in my studio. I've recently hired another assistant to help with shipping, inventory, etc., and we're finding that we need to rework the layout to make it function well for both of us! So, a trip to Ikea is in my very near future. Like, probably today because I don't like to wait on those things. With the changes, it means that I will be doing something like this in my closet (but not that fancy) with the extra bookshelf that won't be used in the studio anymore. 

Have a great weekend!

The Velvet Trend

With every new season, comes trendy new styles. On most occasions, I don't adopt them - I'm pretty basic with what I like and what I feel good in. Bell sleeves? No thanks. Jeans with embroidery details? Nah. Occasionally, though, I'll see "the new cool thing" around enough that I convince myself to try it out. Such is the case with velvet. It. Is. Everywhere. And much to my surprise, I'm actually really liking it. I've only gone so far as to wear it on a small cross body, but I am not opposed to trying it on a piece of clothing. Especially for holiday parties and events in the next couple months, velvet is the perfect trend. 


Our Wedding Photo Wall

I've always loved the look and feel of a gallery wall in a home. There's something warm and inviting about it. I'm not usually a photo person. In fact, in my last apartment, I had exactly one photo as decor -- the photo of Mike and me the day we got engaged. I knew that I'd want to put some of our wedding photos up in our new home, so I decided on a large, symmetrical gallery wall in our bedroom. I'm so, so happy with how it turned out! I received quite a few questions while sharing the process on Instagram, so I thought I'd share how I did it and answer the most frequently asked questions.

The way that our bedroom is laid out, we have a "hallway entrance". So, you cross the threshold into the room and immediately have the bathroom on the left. There's about a 1.5 foot wall and then the door to Mike's closet. On the right is about a 9 foot wall, which was the perfect spot for our photos. I'm a chronic re-arranger and re-decorator, so I didn't want to do this gallery wall on a wall that could potentially be used a different way in the future. I didn't want to pigeon-hole myself with our bedroom layout by making an entire wall unusable, so our "hallway wall" was the best option! It creates a really cool statement as soon as you step into our room and gives a great purpose to that otherwise empty space. 

I like the drama of a floor to ceiling gallery wall with large photos. It creates a bold statement without being too overwhelming, like if you had 25 smaller photos or something. I used these frames from IKEA and printed the photos through Costco. I'm really happy with the quality of the prints. The photos were printed in 16x20 size in their lustre finish.

As I anticipated from the start, the hardest part was measuring out the wall and determining the right spacing. My gallery wall is symmetrical, so spacing was essential. If you do a wall like this, you don't have to be precise with measuring. 

Here's a little guide for all the measurements that I collected before I started marking up the wall. 
Here comes the difficult and maybe confusing part:

Measurements you need to get:

total wall width

total wall height
(if not filling the entire wall, gather the width and height of the space you want the gallery)

frame width

frame height

vertical space between the top of the top frame and the ceiling AND between the bottom of the bottom frame and the baseboard 

horizontal spacing between the left side of the frame and the start of the wall AND the right side of the frame and the end of the wall

vertical spacing between the frames you will hang

horizontal spacing between the frames you will hang

To start, gather your total wall measurements. For example, let's say the wall is 100 inches wide and 80 inches tall. Then I'll take the frame, let's say it's 16 inches wide and 20 inches tall. 

To determine how many of those frames will fit, I'll do some simple math:
100 inches wide/16 inches wide = 6.25 -- I can fit up to six frames across the wall
80 inches tall/20 inches tall = 4 -- I can fit up to three frames up the wall (to leave space between frames)

So, I've decided to do 5 frames across and 3 frames up. Now to figure out the spacing between the wall and the frame and between the frames, I'll do some more calculations.

16 inches wide x 5 frames = 80 inches of space covered (of the 100 inches of wall width)
I  have 20 inches leftover of width for spacing. There will be SIX areas of spacing - from the left end of the wall to the first frame, between all 5 frames, and from the right end of the last frame to the end of the wall. Take your 20 inches of leftover width and divide by 6 to get 3.333 inches of spacing. If you want a more precise number, you can choose to do the outside spacing (from end of wall to frame) in a larger number, say 4 inches. So, you'll have 4 inches on the far left and 4 inches on the far right, which is 8 inches. Then you only have 12 inches of spacing for between the five frames, which means each frame will be spaced out 3 inches apart. (Determining the spacing will be totally up to how simple you want the process to be)

(are you completely lost yet?)

Do that same sort of thing to determine vertical spacing.

Once you know the spacing for everything, you start measuring! I made a little diagram on a piece of paper to keep all the numbers straight. It was a simple as taking a ruler and a pencil and measuring out where the frames should start and end. I lightly traced all four sides of the frames onto a piece of foam board,which I then cut out with an exacto knife. Now I had a perfect replica of the size of the frame, which I could hold on the wall to trace. When all the frames were traced out, I could fully envision what the finished wall would look like. Once I had all the traces (which you could also do with tape or something else), it was time to measure out where the nails go.

I used nails mostly because I find them to be way, way easier than anything else. 3M Command strips are the bane of my existence - they never hold up and always leave a gross stickiness on the wall after. This is just my opinion and experience. I would much rather put 16 nail holes in a wall than deal with those things. If you prefer the strips, go for it! 

The frames that I used had a built in "nail rest" centered on the back, so it was as simple as measuring out where that nail rest was located and marking on the wall inside the drawn frame. Do that 15 more times and then you're done 😂😅

A ruler (or better yet, a yardstick!), tape measure, pencil and good eraser, level, good nails and a hammer will be your friend during this process! 

How did you decide what pictures went where?
Before ordering the photos for print, I created a mock-up in Photoshop of the wall. I went through and selected a variety of photos from our collection - Mike and me, bridal party, family, and details. I wanted a healthy mix of all of them! Once I selected my favorites, I put them into the Photoshop mockup to lay them out. I started in the top right corner and filled in from there. I made sure to space out the different types - I would skip a space or two before doing another details photo, for example. You could also print low quality versions of the photos on standard printer paper to do a layout like this on the floor (or the wall!). It's good to do a trial run to make sure you've selected the photos you like and have the arrangement you want. A lot of finding the balance in where you hang what photos will come down to you visually seeing it done. With a symmetrical gallery wall like this, it's really easy to swap a couple photos into different positions on the wall because they all fit.

I see that some of the photos are behind your bedroom door when it's open. Why did you do that?
I wanted to do a full wall! It would've looked funny to stop the gallery at the door when it's open and we shut the door often enough that it's not an issue. The doorstopper in the baseboard stops the door from hitting the frames just behind it, as well. Again, it's all a matter of personal preference!

Did you have any rhyme or reason to the photos you chose?
I just went through and chose some of my favorite, which was hard to do! I didn't want too many "portrait" style - I like the more lifestyle, emotional ones from our day. There was no issue with color balancing or making sure they all flowed together because of the colors that we had going on that day -- any photo that I chose from our wedding album would've fit seamlessly into the wall, which made it really easy to choose! I chose all vertical photos, so that there wasn't any weird cropping or sizing issues.

Who took these photos?
Our incredible wedding photographer, Jordan Maunder

Is the glass in the frames plexi glass or glass?
It's plastic!

How did you hang on the wall to prevent shifting?
I haven't had issues with them moving much yet, but you could do one of those Command velcro strips on the bottom to keep them in place! Since you can't ever get straight on with our wall, you can't see if anything is slightly crooked, which is what I like about it! 

Reason to use large format pictures with no matting versus matting?
This is totally a personal preference. I wanted to make as big of an impact as I could on the wall, so I printed photos the size of the frames and didn't use the included matting.

Will you print more pictures moving forward? Would you start to mix and match the photos in the wall?
I'm not sure! I will likely keep them all the same (unless I want to swap some out for different wedding photos, at some point) since they all flow so well together. If I wanted to change it up, I would probably change the whole wall!

Total cost of the project?
I believe it was somewhere in the $300 range. The frames themselves were $200 something (I bought 20 of them and used the other four elsewhere in our home) and the printing was under $200. The price, of course, is completely adjustable depending on what you do!

Why did you do it in your bedroom and not a more highly-trafficked area in your home?
There's a few reasons why I chose our bedroom. First, I like to keep a fairly "minimal" home. I use the word minimal lightly here, since I still have a good amount of "stuff" and decor everywhere. But, I don't like to hang things just to hang things or to have decor on every single wall. I think there needs to be a healthy balance between blank space and filled space in a room. Our bedroom was definitely more empty than it was full, so I knew I wanted to add something else in there. That wall and my idea for a floor to ceiling gallery fit perfectly!

As far as not putting it in our living space, we didn't have the room! I'm hoping to share our main living area here in the next week or two, so you'll see what I mean. I already have a "gallery" of sorts made up of mirrors and frames, so adding a photo gallery wall would be too much, even if we did have the wall space for it.

Did you edit the photos at all or crop them to fit?
I didn't do a single thing to them! They're professional photos from our wedding, so I didn't need to adjust anything. I chose all vertical shots, so that cropping didn't come into play.

If I did something like this, would I have to have the frames all in the same orientation? 
You can do whatever you want! I don't really believe in following the "rules" with things like that. If you like the look of mixed frames on a symmetrical gallery wall, go for it! For this wall and this purpose, I knew I wanted all the same frames. Since I have large prints of so many photos, I wanted to keep everything else really simple.

Why did you go to the floor with the wall? 
As mentioned in the post, I like the drama of a full-wall gallery. It's all a personal preference thing - you do it how you like it and how it will work well in your home!

Did you consider doing black and white photos?
I didn't. The color scheme from our wedding fits perfectly into our decor style in our master bedroom, so there was no issues there. If you like the idea of a large gallery wall like this but have photos will all different colors, black and white would be a more subdued way to do it!

Have more questions? Leave a comment!

Three Nail Colors for Fall

It's very rare to find me without nail polish on. Not only do I love the look of it, but I actually enjoy the process of applying it. At my peak, I can do it up to 3 times a week! While I'll occasionally venture for a royal blue or a electric purple, I'm most often in some sort of neutral color (surprising, I know). And, as with nearly everything else in my life, I tend to go for the same colors over and over again.

There are three different colors that I'm loving for Fall right now -- near black, a warm mauve-purple, and a creamy neutral. I most often rotate through the near black and cream neutral, but like to have a color in the rotation to change things up a bit.

My favorite near black colors are OPI Lincoln Park After Dark (shown above) and Essie Gel Couture Hang Up The Heels. For mauve-purple colors, I like Essie Gel Couture in Touch Up (shown below) and OPI Lucky Lucky Lavender. My arsenal of neutrals is pretty expansive, but my repeat offenders are OPI Don't Bossa Nova Me Around (shown above) and Taupe-less Beach.