Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Florida packing list

what's going in my bag for a summer trip to Florida

As I mentioned last week, I'm heading to Florida on Thursday to help my mom settle in at the new house (and to get some much-needed sun time on the beach — obvs). My mom and sister and I are driving down with the rest of their belongings (and two little dogs!) and my sister and I will be flying back. Since the car will be jam packed with home stuff, luggage, two dogs and three humans, packing light is definitely a necessity. I thought I'd share a few of the things I'll be bringing with me in case any of you are looking for packing inspiration for your next vacay!

Transitional pieces are going to be the name of the game for this trip. This gray dress is so cute and casual, and easily doubles as a day dress or a swimsuit coverup. I'll be packing several similar dresses that can transition easy from day to night, especially lightweight ones to survive the heat.

Obviously, this trip is going to be a bittersweet one — I'm already dreading the drive to the airport — but right now I'm just looking at this as my first vacation in far too long, an amazing beach getaway, and some excellent girl time. Hope you're all having a great week, babes!

P.S. statement earrings, dress fever and an easy spring outfit

Friday, May 27, 2016

wandering the web: have a great long weekend!

Celebrity lookalikes, cat pickup lines and black ice cream — yep, you read that right.

Happy Friday, loves! Hope you've all had a great week, and cheers to a long weekend! Got anything fun planned? I will be soaking up the sun on my dad's pontoon and having a grill-out with the fam on Monday. And after that I'll just be counting down the days (and hours, and minutes) till I head down to Florida and the beach! While I plan to thoroughly enjoy this three-day weekend, my newsletter will be going out Tuesday instead of Monday (you can sign up for it here) and I'll be back with regular posting next week! I hope you all have a wonderful long weekend! 

1. I want to go to Boston just to see these. (Atlas Obscura via Cup of Jo)

2. Blackberry gin slush...yes please. (The Speckled Palate)

3. Not sure I can get behind this type of ice cream. (ASOS)

4. Five things healthy sleepers don't do. (Huffington Post) 

5. Whoa. This is trippy. (Buzzfeed)

6. Four ways to find yourself in a new city. (The Everygirl)

7. Nordstrom's half-yearly sale is happening now, and I'm crushing on this top. (Nordstrom)

8. If cat's had pickup lines. (Pinterest)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

cucumber watermelon spritzer

A refreshing cocktail perfect for summer nights

With warm weather comes patio season, and with patio season comes cocktails. Because, honestly, is there anything better than a summer night spent sipping cocktails whilst a light breeze tosses your hair? (Answer: Nope!)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

when moms move away

Life update: What happens when your mom and best friend moves away.

If you've been following my newsletter (which you should be), you're probably ready for me to explain my cryptic comments on "big changes" and happening in my life... Well, here's the first one: My mom is moving to Florida! No, I'm not the lucky one trading snowstorms for beaches, but this is a big change for me because I've never actually lived more than an hour away from my mom. On top of that, she's been my best friend since day one.

For those reasons, it's taken me a while to write this post — she found out back in March (her husband got an incredible job opportunity near Orlando). I've gone through so many different ways of talking about this on my blog. Do I dedicate a full post to it, or mention it casually on a weekly roundup? Do I share only my excitement for her big move, or do I dive into all the emotions it brings? Finally, I decided to open up and share it all. (Mostly because you were all so great when I expressed my vulnerability with you here.)

Friday, May 20, 2016

wandering the web: have a great weekend

DIY watercolor mugs, invisible Instagram stories and mirror therapy.

Happy Friday babes! How's your week been? I feel like it just started, and yet we're already to the weekend! Definitely not complaining though ;) Tonight I'll be doing some much-needed cleaning around my apartment, and then tomorrow I'm having a girls day with my mom and sis. We'll be going through the Des Moines Farmers Market and getting pedicures and I. can. not. wait! I hope you all have a great weekend, and here are some fun links from the week...

1. In the summer, I just crave fresh foods. This chicken mango lettuce wrap would make the best meal. (PopSugar)

2. "Really seeing oneself, and really seeing other people, are probably the hardest things any of us will ever do." (Refinery29)

3. Watercolor mugs would be a fun weekend project. (I Spy DIY)

4. Would you decorate with patterned wallpaper? I kind of love it. (Apartment Therapy)

5. I keep hearing great things about this workout program. Have any of you tried it? (Kayla Itsines)

6. Just ordered these palm print workout tights and I'm SO excited to get them! (Fabletics)

7. Invisible Instagram stories are inspiring and so creative. (Bustle)

8. Is it summer yet? (Pinterest)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

what's your love language?

figuring out the best way to make your relationship flourish

A while ago my sister shared this love language quiz with me, and I was a little intrigued (read: surprised) at my results. By now we all know that love has so many different interpretations, and different aspects of a relationship are more meaningful than others. Some people feel more intimate when they have deep, honest conversations with their partner while others feel more intimate when they're, you know, intimate.

The 5 Love Languages was written by Dr. Gary Chapman, who specializes in marriage and relationships. He's written numerous relationship books, speaks at marriage conferences, and has been married to his wife for more than four decades. He's also developed this quiz to help people identify their own primary love language(s).

I've taken the quiz twice a few months apart and gotten pretty much the same results both times. My highest-scoring category is quality time, but all of my answers put my results within two points except for receiving gifts, which only scored two — you're welcome, Adam ;) I said I was surprised at my results, not because I scored highest in quality time but because my second-highest score was in words of affirmation. In the past, I haven't often thought of myself as a person who needed encouragement or reassurance.

Adam took the quiz too, and I think it was a happy coincidence that his highest-scoring language was also quality time. Which makes sense, because we've always enjoyed being together, even if it's just doing separate things in the same room. And I think we realized just how much that time means to us when Adam was working in New York for three months earlier this year and we didn't get that for so long.

Unlike mine, Adam's scores were very divided between the two highest and the three lowest. His lowest score was words of affirmation, which kind of shocked me! We've always had a very verbal relationship in that we often say we love each other, praise accomplishments and encourage each other. Adam said he wasn't surprised at all and in fact, his answers were almost exactly what he would have expected them to be. When we talked about our results, Adam put it simply: "We just love spending time together."

I think it's such an interesting concept, and it turned into a great conversation about how we both express our feelings. Have any of you taken the love language quiz before? Were you surprised by your results or did they meet your expectations? I'd love to hear...

P.S. how to keep the sparks alive, the choice to have children and how to fight successfully

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

baublebar sale picks

my top picks in baublebar's sitewide sale!

I like to consider myself something of a professional shopper, and part of earning that title is about finding the best deals and bargains around. Baublebar is one of my go-to stops for finding trendy and quality jewelry because their styles are always on point. You might remember a few guest appearances Baublebar made in my last wish list. But let's be honest, it makes an appearance on just about every one of my wish lists ;)

This week they're having a killer sale on the entire site, offering up to 30% off. So if you're in the market for a some new jewels — or maybe the rest of your closet is just begging for some new accessories ;) — now is the time to check it out. I hope you're all having a great week — mine has been flying by, and I'm definitely not complaining!

P.S. my favorite statement earrings, dress fever and white leather

Friday, May 13, 2016

wandering the web: have a beautiful weekend

A perfect summer salad, body fat as the new religion, and a chickpea cocktail? Umm...

Happy Friday babes! I am so ready for the weekend; my sleep schedule has been a last priority this week, and it's definitely taking a toll...I'm ready to make up for it in the next few days! Do any of you have fun plans for the weekend? Adam and I are probably going to see Captain America: Civil War at some point, and I'm so excited! I've been waiting for it ever since I saw the first preview. Have you seen it yet?

I hope you all have a beautiful, fun, relaxing weekend, and here are some links I liked this week...

1. Rainbow smoothie anyone? (FitSugar)

2. Majorly crushing on these shoes. (Express)

3. This avocado caprese chicken salad sounds perfect for summer cookouts. (Joyful Healthy Eats)

4. You go girl. (Refinery29)

5. And, how body fat has become the new religion. (Buzzfeed)

6. Guys, I don't know what's wrong with me, but I'm starting to like pink.... (Nordstrom)

7. I really love Brooke and Meggan's #WhatWeWore series. (Somewhere, Lately)

8. Would you care for a chickpea-goo cocktail? (Huffington Post)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

wish list: statement earrings

Brighten up your summer look with these statement earrings

It seems like every year I get caught up in one accessory and go all out with it, and this year statement earrings are stealing my heart. I love how much flare they can add to even the simplest outfits. Adding a small pop of bright color to a neutral ensemble can be just enough to transform it into something fun and fresh. I've been lusting over bright, bold earrings for weeks now (you may have seen these and these on my Instagram!) and I just added these yellow beauties from H&M to my collection — for only $10!

Keeping today's post short and sweet because I may have stayed up too late catching up on Dancing With The Stars and playing with my mom's dogs ;) The weather has been rainy and humid most of the week, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it'll stay sunny for the whole day today! Hope you all have a good one!

P.S. dress fever and my spring wish list

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

book review: 'Looking for Alaska'

The overwhelming mediocrity of Looking for Alaska.

I purchased Looking for Alaska for two reasons: One, I loved The Fault in Our Stars and really enjoyed Paper Towns (both by John Green); and two, it was on sale.

Note to self: Never fall for the book on sale. The problem I had with this one is that I don't have anything good or bad to say about it. It was totally, wholeheartedly mediocre. It brought out no emotions in me whatsoever. (Unless you count the annoyance I felt at the need to finish one book before I start another one, because I really wanted to start a new one.)

Here's the thing. John Green is a talented writer — there's no denying that. He's got a great style and impressive abilities to tell a story and get inside the mind of adolescents. He really knows what it's like to live and breathe teenage hormones, and it impresses me how in-tune he is even as an adult. But Looking for Alaska landed somewhere on the same plane as Me, Earl and the Dying Girl, albeit with more interesting and relatable characters.

This one is about Miles (aka Pudge), a high school junior who leaves his school in Florida to attend boarding school in Alabama, looking for the "Great Perhaps" in life. Pudge has a penchant for learning famous people's last words (an interesting quirk that I actually did enjoy). Up until this point, Pudge has led a normal, unexciting life that he's ready to trade for something he hopes will be better. When he gets to the new school, he meets the Colonel (another nickname) and Alaska (a real name), both of whom introduce Pudge to some much-desired drama.

Alaska is the sort of enigmatic character Pudge has been seeking, someone who has really experienced life and doesn't care to play by the rules set by someone else. She's a mystery, and he inevitably falls for her. Of course, some mysteries can't be solved, but that doesn't stop Pudge and the Colonel when Alaska presents her final mystery.

It wasn't that I couldn't relate to the characters and what they were going through, because I have been in similar situations to what Green wrote about. I just thought it moved a little slowly, and some of the events didn't seem quite as big as they were meant to be. Final thoughts: Looking for Alaska is not a bad book. If you're looking for good writing and well thought-out characters, this one is for you. If you're looking for a more gripping story, try this one.

Have you read Looking for Alaska? What are your thoughts? Am I the only one who thought it was overwhelmingly average? I'd love to hear your opinions... 

P.S. reviews of Paper Towns and Me, Earl and the Dying Girl

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

lipstick review vol. 5

The best nude lipsticks and pastel shades for spring beauty looks

Hey hey hey friends! How was everyone's weekend? I hope everyone who celebrated Mother's Day had a good one! My sister and I spent the day with our mom, going to church, eating brunch and going to see the new "Mother's Day" movie. It's always nice to spend a casual day together to hang out and have fun, especially now that everyone has grown up and gotten so much busier.

It's been a while since I've done one of my traditional lipstick reviews, so today I'm sharing two of my favorite nude shades and a couple pastels that are perfect for spring!

1. Nudestix Whisper — As I've mentioned before, this lip pencil quickly made its way onto my favorite nude lip list. It has a matte finish and a lighter tone that's great for a neutral, unassuming beauty look. It coats well and stays put with minimal need for touchups throughout the day — a major plus in my book. This is my favorite nude to wear when I choose heavier eye makeup or an outfit with a lot of color, but I also love it when I'm wearing white for an extra-clean, didn't-try-to-hard look.

2. MAC Pink Nouveau — I bought this light pink shade last year after seeing Caitlin wearing it in so many of her posts. It looked like such a fun, flattering color for summer! I wasn't quite as smitten with it once I tried it out for myself, thought, as the formula turned out to be a little sticky and chunky (gross). It's the only MAC lipstick I've ever had that issue with, so I think it may just be a defect in this one. The color is pretty, and it does seem to flatter most skin tones. I shy away from it sometimes because it sometimes feels too "Barbie pink" for me, but I still love the way it looks in pictures.

3. Laura Mercier Milky Way — This was one of the unexpected frontrunners from the nude lip collection I bought at Sephora a few months ago. It's a bit of a darker color with brown undertones that give it a '90s feel, and I actually love that about it! It goes on slick and glossy, but takes a couple coats to really bring out the color. I typically reapply it fairly often throughout the night for that reason, but it always feels smooth and not sticky.

4. Revlon Berry Haute — I bought this tube a couple summers ago when orchid lips were just starting to become more popular, and every time I wore it I felt it was a little too light and made my lips look dead... haha, not a great look! Purple lipsticks can be a hard shade to pull off in my opinion, because they don't tend to fit all skin tones like some of the reds and pinks. But I gave this one a try again this spring and I actually really loved it! It looks a bit lighter in person than in the photo, but I really do think it's darker than it was when I bought it...if that's possible! It's a great soft color for spring that's not too bold or in your face.

Which ones are your favorites? What are your best spring lip colors? I'd love to know!

P.S. all my other lipstick reviews

Thursday, May 5, 2016

dining des moines: +39 italian

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Anyone have any big plans for the (drinking) holiday? I'm thinking margaritas and chips and salsa are a must tonight ;) In other food news, I had the chance to check out the newest Italian restaurant in Des Moines last weekend and couldn't wait to share my thoughts with all of you. This location is the second for +39 Italian Market, which started in Ames (shoutout to my college town!) a few years ago. The owners are from Italy and both restaurants have separate wine rooms with hundreds of bottles on the walls (swoon!).

Walking in, the restaurant is small but beautiful. It's clean and white with small black tables and simple decor. I loved everything about the look and design, but the acoustics were terrible. We had reservations at 8 p.m. on Friday. The place was packed, and the buzz of conversation was almost overwhelming, and we had to yell just to hear across the booth — major bummer for such a chic space.

We also had mixed reviews of the food. The menu is small and everything sounds delicious, but when we started asking our waitress questions, we found out all but one of the pasta dishes was made with store-bought pasta and the fish was frozen, not fresh. I decided to take a chance on one of the pastas anyway, and we were all further disappointed when it arrived. The menu's description of the pastas listed food items as if they were included in the dishes, but it turned out they were listing the ingredients in the actual sauces — as in my pesto pasta came without the expected pine nuts (the best part!)

The gourmet pizzas were the redeeming factor, though. We tried one with prosciutto, apples and brie cheese, and it was amazing. Perfectly cooked, and the flavors came out perfectly without being overwhelming. The best part? Dessert. The homemade tiramisu is to. die. for. Seriously, I've been craving it ever since!

Final thoughts: we were a bit disappointed that the "authentic" Italian restaurant didn't make its own pasta and use all fresh ingredients. The pastas seemed like a dish anyone could make at home, but for a much higher price tag. If you're going to check it out (which I do recommend!), order a pizza, save room for dessert, and definitely explore the wine list!

Have you been to +39 restaurant yet? Will you? I'd love to know...

P.S. Eatery A, RoCA and the Scenic Route Bakery

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Instagram Roundup No. 15

TGI... oh wait, it's only Wednesday. Bummer. But! Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo, and we all know what that means: MARGARITAS. Count me in! This topic happens to coincide perfectly with my first photo, which is a delicious taco from a new place called Taco Hangover that opened in West Des Moines a couple months ago. Tasty tacos, amazing salsa and they just opened a new patio this week.

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