Wednesday, November 24, 2010

the giving of thanks.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving tomorrow, I thought I share a few things that I am thankful for that happened in the last year.

This year, I am thankful for...
  • the ability to travel, even on a tight budget. This past year I have taken two trips to NYC and spent a whole week in Puerto Rico.
  • old friends - the ones who never let you down and are always there for you, no matter how long it's been since you've seen each other or spoken on the phone.
  • dinners with Dianna, Leah and Todd. (Sorry, Dan and Dom - sometimes you're not at home. And Todd cooks for us.)
  • getting put on salary at work, and for getting benefits, and a fancy new title - even though I still basically do the same work, I'd rather be a Manager than an Assistant. I'll take it!
  • my buddy Kristen being the toughest and bravest girl ever, and for her making a safe and successful transition into the next stage of her life in New York City.
  • new friends - the ones who you meet and find out you have more in common with than you ever thought possible.
  • my very first apartment that is all my own. Even though it still looks like I just moved in.
  • my pretty fingernails and finally kicking a 27 year habit.
  • Todd. He's more helpful to and supportive of me on a day-to-day basis than I think he realizes. I'm very lucky to love and be loved by such a wonderful person.
  • (almost) weekly family dinners with the Chicago chapter of the Wutzler Family.
  • our newest addition, and the leader of our family's next generation, Elise Ava. She has proven to be the toughest little girl I've ever seen. This year, I am most thankful for her.
And that's just a sampler platter. If you want the whole feast, I can provide it for you on request.

Happy Thanksgiving one and all!

Friday, November 19, 2010

and again.

I told you I geek out whenever I see things with my initials! Too bad I won't be able to shell out $94 for this vintage wicker wine jug. Lucky for me, pictures are free! (And worth a thousand words, FYI.)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

a letter to the man.

Dear Santa,

I need a new purse. Like a good purse. Like a really good purse. Enough of this dilly dallying with sub-par bags that only meet some of my requirements because A) they're cheap, B) they're trendy... and cheap, or C) did I say cheap? I need a purse to which I can make a full commitment. I'm not the kind of girl who needs a different bag for every outfit. I'm a creature of habit. I have one pair of sunglasses. I carry one bag. I mean, I am usually wearing a version of the same thing every day. Dark wash skinny jeans? Check. Top-siders, All-Stars, or Cowboy boots? Check. T-shirt and cardigan? Check. Scarf of varying sizes and weights? Check. The Perfect Bag? *sigh*

This is where you come in, Santa. Here are my criteria:
  • leather. Leather, leather, leather.
  • brass hardware. None of that shiny nickel crap.
  • structured bottom and sides. I usually have papers of some sort in my purse (catalogs, pay stubs, love letters, etc.) and floppy bags = big mess o' crap.
  • medium sized. Big enough to hold said "big mess 'o crap", but not so big that it encourages additional extraneous crap. The perfect travel size.
  • one strap, or the option of one strap. Double straps = one slidey-down strap. I hate that slidey-down strap.
  • zip-top. A must when you live in a city, and when traveling. Zips keep wandering hands from grabbing your valuables. They also prevent huge spills of your big mess o' crap all over your back seat when you toss your purse willy-nilly into your back seat.
  • good sized top opening. Big enough so you can see everything without having to dig around in the dark abyss.
  • no huge brandings. A small horse drawn carriage, or printed buckle here or there is okay. I just don't want someone else's initials all over my stuff.
  • if there is a longer shoulder strap, it should be detachable. Okay, now I'm just getting picky...
  • one or two exterior pockets are a plus. For easy access to keys and/or phone. But not too many... then it just looks bulky.

So there you go. For your convenience, I have done a little pre-holiday scouting. Here are two options I'm drooling over.

The Kristin Pleated Satchel from Coach. Either in Emerald or Coral. (They call it "Tearose"... The teal is sold out. But, oh the teal!) Obviously green is my fav color (obviously), but it may be more condusive to all four seasons. The coral is a bit spring/summer.

OMG, the kate spade Darien Gloss "Joyce". In Oyster. Yum x1000. I'm pretty sure I almost bought this exact bag at the outlet. And it's ON SALE! Hurry Santa!!

Thanks in advance for at least considering it. I promise to take care of it and be totally devoted to my one true bag. You're the best. (I can't believe I didn't pick a brown one either!)


here kitty, kitty.

I just came across this image for J.Crew weddings...

Oh jeeze. I'm dying. Add to cart.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

nerd alert.

This adorable stocking on the Lands End website has my initials on it! (And my sister's, and my mom's...) That means I get to keep it, right?

I admit it - I get really excited when I'm browsing catalogs or websites and see something with my name on it... or the name of someone that I know... first name, last name, initials... whatever. It all fills me with glee. And in this case, Christmas cheer!

Thus concludes my nerdiness for the day. (Well, that's probably not true...)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

matte or patent.

Ah, yes. The age-old question...

I picked up my bridesmaid dress last night, and now I'm on the quest for shoes! Kate requested that we wear black shoes in the style of our choice. Do I already own several pairs of black shoes? Yes. Am I going to let that stop me from looking for a cute new pair? Definitely no.

So I was perusing some options online, and here's what I've been looking for:
For the dress that we're wearing (emerald green, floor-length chiffon, sweetheart neckline, strapless) I decided to go for something sleek and classic. But still fun. Along my search, again and again I found myself wondering "These are so cute, but should I get them in matte or patent?"

I love a good pair of black patent leather high heels. There's something about them; when you put them on, you automatically feel sexy. But are they always appropriate? I feel like patent leather high heels have a history... a "stigma", if you will. Like a red dress. Or fishnets. Combo the three together, and you've got yourself the classic "bad girl" ensemble. But worn separately, they could add just the right amount of "edge" to any look. Right? I think so too... (P.S. I would totally rock the red dress/patent leather heels look, if I had the chance... Maybe minus the fishnets, though.)

But I digress... bridesmaid shoes! Black, sleek, classic, fun. Versatile, re-wearable. I found these on endless first, but went over to Zappos, because they had my size in stock.

Love the cutouts on the sides. I have another pair of pumps from Guess, and was surprised by how comfortable they are. (Although the ones that I own don't have a 1" platform and a 4 1/2" heel...)

So? What do you think? Matte or Patent?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

little black dress. (or gray. or red!)

As I may have mentioned several times before, my beary vest friend Kate is getting married in December. Being the over-enthusiastic bridesmaid that I am (I love weddings! I've even dabbled with the idea of wedding planning as a future career... anybody know anybody who needs an assistant??), I'm already looking for the perfect dress to wear for the rehearsal, rehearsal dinner and welcome cocktails the night before The Big Day. I don't often get dressed up in the winter months (here in Chicago, we usually hibernate between November and April), although I love the look of a pretty dress with tights, a wool coat and cute scarf.

I am in need of a little black dress for just these types of occasions, but apparently my tastes gravitate more towards the little gray dress, a la this number from J.Crew (where else?)?

If I wanted something closer to black, it also comes in a darker charcoal color. But me and heather gray are like peas in a pod. And with a flashy belt or necklace, and dark gray tights... and oh! Gray shoes! Sign me up.

Of course, as anyone who has ever had a wedding, been in a wedding, or attended a wedding could tell you, they are quite a shock to the old pocketbook. And though my love for J. Crew knows no bounds, my bank account certainly does. So I scouted out these less expensive, but equally lovely options from LOFT:

And a red dress to honor the Christmas wedding? DUH! Love it. (It also comes in black, should I choose to go the more demure route.)

The bridesmaid dresses come in this week (fingers crossed), and we're about 5 weeks out from The Big Day. Let the frenzy begin!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

it's the most wonderful time of the year.

That's right. I'm one of those people. The people who love the Christmas season so much that they start listening to holiday music on November 1st.

And this season is extra special because my family is celebrating here in Chicago this year! We're gathering at a hotel downtown, and I want to make sure that it still feels warm and filled with the holiday spirit. So I'm scouting out ideas for simple (Read: inexpensive) decorations to make/gather/bring to deck our rented halls. Here are a few ideas from Martha that started my imagination gears turning.

This favor tree was one of the first to catch my eye, if for no other reason than it's simplicity. Since everyone (else) is traveling this year, we won't be exchanging gifts. But as soon as I saw this tree I envisioned cookies hanging from ribbons in lieu of the gift boxes! Last year was my first adventure into from-scratch cookie baking and it went pretty well. I'm really excited to re-work the recipe this year, and would love to be able to share my efforts with my family and create a make-shift Christmas tree at the same time.

Martha never ceases to amaze. This cotton ball tree is simple, cute and easy. I definitely had grandiose dreams of bringing my 5 foot Christmas tree to the hotel to decorate, but decided that may be a bit much for our first go-round. I'm definitely tucking this idea away for the future though.

These mini felt stockings are the perfect travel size. I had been thinking stockings would be a great way to add a cheerful sense of family, especially if some members are unable to make it. (We'd still have stockings for them of course.) I don't know if I'm up to crafting 20 stockings, but there's a dollar store down the street that just started stocking their holiday goodies.

How adorable is this baby sock advent calendar? I'm dying over here. And what a great way to get your kids socks for Christmas without the usual "Greaaat... Just what I wanted..." response! Though, with 25 days on an advent calendar, I would hope that the treat in the 25th sock would be the 26th sock to complete the pair. Perhaps an adaptation of this will appear for our family holiday this year. And perhaps everyone's matching sock will appear on Christmas morning!

The gears are turning folks! Happy Holiday Season!

images via martha

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

the big city of brotherly beantown apple love

What? Almost two weeks and no post! I know all of my one reader is going bonkers. But I am back to share some visual delights from my recent trip to NYC.

A couple weekends ago, Todd, Dominic, and I all went to New York to visit ALL OF OUR FRIENDS. It seems that there has been (in Dom's words) a mass exodus these last few months to Brooklyn in particular. Okay, so really just like 4 of our favorite ladies. Plus my long-time favorite lady - but comparatively speaking, she's an old-timer, having lived in Manhattan for 3+ years already. (Sheesh! I can't believe it's been that long.)

The trip was wonderful, but admittedly stressful. It's hard to get to see everyone when you're only in town for a few days. We were all over the place - Brooklyn, Soho, Midtown, Downtown, China Town, Central Park, Staten Island, Upper East Side. In just about 72 hours. I did get the jeans I wanted at Uniqlo (two pairs), but that was not even close to my favorite part of the weekend.

This was:

That's my long-time love, Shelby (we've known each other since 1st grade? 3rd grade?) hangin' on my main man, Todd. They're, like, bffs. And that makes me more happy than all the candy at Dylan's Candy Bar. And that's a lot of candy.

Also highlighting my whole weekend was this sassy lady, pictured center:

That is my buddy-love Kristen, flanked by two of our bests, Dominic and Erica. Kristen and I used to live together, until she deserted me and my two cattens to live in a box in Brooklyn. No big deal. (Her sass can also be seen pictured here.) I am very excited that she is loving her NY life, but I do miss her face around the house. That's for sure.

We had a hilariously random trip. Here are my top five moments/events:

1. Eating the biggest pulled pork sandwich ever at South Houston in SoHo, to which Kristen said "I'm so glad you ordered that." Apparently messy foods are my trademark.
2. Shake Shack. Seriously. Best thing ever. Especially on a beautiful night, sitting with some of your favorite people, eating, drinking, and laughing. Lots and lots of laughing.
3. Sunny Sunday stroll through Central Park, and sitting for a while by the Reservoir.
4. Seeing Promises, Promises on Friday with Todd and Shelby - even though Todd hated it. He knew he would hate it, but he knew I really wanted to see Sean Hayes, Kristen Chenoweth, and Molly Shannon. Way to take one for the team Bub. :)
5. Staten Island Ferry. Totally random. But ended up being the best time of day for it. Staten bound trip was still daylight. Manhattan bound trip was right at dusk, so we got to see sky change and the lights of the city turn on. (See below for photographic evidence.) I love any activity that makes you stop and enjoy your surroundings and the people you are with.