Recent Reads

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to read more. Even if it’s pointless celebrity autobiographies, that counts for me. Here’s what I’ve been reading lately:

Yes Please – Amy Poehler

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Following in the footsteps of Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler’s book is irreverent, honest, and hilarious. She’s friends with everyone that I wish I was friends with and tells amazing stories about them all – Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Tina Fey, Hillary Clinton! I  do wish she had given more deets about her divorce from Will Arnett, but she gave me just enough dirt to keep me reading. P.S. Is everyone aware that Amy is now dating Nick Kroll (aka the douche from Parks and Rec)?!

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Eleni – Nicholas Gage (not Cage)

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Adam and I are heading to Greece for vacay this summer so we thought we’d read a book that gave us a look into Greek history. Eleni is about the Greek civil war and a family that was torn apart because of it. I haven’t gotten too far into the book, but I’m looking forward to learning more about Greece ahead of our trip (because Adam says watching Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants doesn’t count).

Trash Mags

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If Bruce is on the cover, I’m reading it. (I think this is the formula that InTouch, People, and Us Weekly are banking on.)

Up next on my reading list are Andy Cohen’s books (I haven’t read either!) and Lena Dunham’s book. You know, the classics! :)

Like Sands Through the Hourglass

Since I haven’t posted about my life for the last few months, here’s a recap.

November

(This is my attempt at making a “snapchat-like” pic using Microsoft Paint.) One of our goals for moving out to the Chicago burbs (and spending less in rent), was to save up to buy a car. We sold our cars when we moved to Chicago 3 years ago, so we were pretty excited to have some wheels again! She’s a 2001 Lexus RX300 with a super cool CD player in the glove compartment. I like to call her Sexus Lexus (but she’s not a sexist).

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December

Every year Adam and I look forward to his company Christmas party, and this year was a blast! How can you go wrong with dressing up (me all in Forever21), dancing, and drinking?

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We spent Christmas in Pennsylvania with Adam’s parents (and of course brought Tobias!). It was a great few days filled with family games, eating delicious food, and listening to Serial.

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Only bad part of being in PA for Christmas was missing the birth of our new nephew, August Emerson, on Christmas Eve! We love him so much! And joy of all joys? He’s a redhead!! (My family loves redheads.)

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We ended 2014 and welcomed 2015 with a trip to San Francisco, Napa, and a drive along the Pacific Coast Highway. We spent the trip biking across the Golden Gate, drinking wine outside in the sunshine, and staying in an AirBnB tree house on NYE!

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January

January sucked. I was working 80 hour weeks, drinking gallons of coffee a day, and not watching any Bravo. Adam was a real trooper and amazing life partner during this time. He brought me flowers, snacks, and arranged a massage for me. He also arranged a surprise birthday party for me and 3 of our friends who have birthdays in a row! (Plus he blew up 300 balloons for the occasion!)

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February

Adam and I spent Valentine’s day pretending that it wasn’t 12 degrees outside. We had a delicious brunch (including the best breakfast margarita I’ve ever had – habanero foam?!) at an enclosed rooftop restaurant on top of the Geoffrey Hotel in Chicago. And then we spent the afternoon at a new coffee shop, sending hilarious snapchats to my sibs (at least thought they were hilar).

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Last weekend, Adam and I road-tripped to Columbus, IN for a wintery weekend with college friends (and their babies!). We had a great, relaxing time where we made cupcakes, played with the babies, talked about taxes, and binged on Undercover Boss.

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And now we’re onto March! We’re looking forward to a great March filled with House of Cards, St. Patrick’s Day festivities, and Adam turning the big 29! Also hopefully for a bit of warmer weather! Fingers crossed!

 

Brown County Baby Shower

Baby showers are usually one of my least favorite events to attend. Sniffing diapers filled with chocolate, listening to stomach-churning birth stories, and hearing moms “one-up” eachother (“oh, just wait until your kid is 5! blah blah blah”).

So when I offered to host my sister’s baby shower, it was truly an act of love. Luckily my sister isn’t one for pastel Jordan almonds and nasty baby games, so I was able to get creative and have a lot of fun planning her event, instead of having my usual baby shower anxiety.

First step of the planning process, choose a theme. My family is obsessed with a small town in southern Indiana that has cute little general stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and a state park that we grew up going horseback riding at. The town is called Nashville, but is technically in Brown County, Indiana, so for some reason we just always call it Brown County. My sister is particularly fond of Brown County, so since her shower was in October, and Brown County is absolutely radiant in the Fall, a Brown County Baby Shower was the perfect fit!

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Second step of the planning process, décor shopping. I decided to go all out and have a classic Pinterest Fall baby shower. Mason jars, chalkboards, burlap fabric as table cloths, hay bales, and lots of leaf garland. I bought flowers from a nearby grocery store to make my own Fall bouquets. The rest of my décor was purchased at Joanne Fabrics, Walmart, and God’s gift to discount shoppers – The Christmas Tree Shops.

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Third step of the planning process, menu planning. Fall conveniently has a lot of classic flavors, so I incorporated those into the menu – apple pie, pumpkin pie, apple cider donuts, and chili. I also had some classic Fall flavors in the drinks that I made. I bought large mason jar drink dispensers and had two alcoholic punches and one non-alcoholic punch. I bought a case of red and white wine from Trader Joe’s to make my punches (red – Mulled Wine Sangria, white – Autumn Punch). And my non-alcoholic punch was just store-bought apple cider with lots of fresh apple and orange slices, cranberries, and cinnamon sticks. Yum!

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Fourth step of the planning process, details. Large details are just as important as the small details, and small details should be just as deliberate. I wrapped my gold plastic silverware in Kate Spade paper napkins and tied them up with a burlap bow. Time consuming, yes? But how annoying is it to have  a handful of silverware when you’re trying to get food from the buffet. Another important detail was the games. I wanted to make sure we played games that were focused on my sister, her husband, and their baby. We played a game where we learned about my sister and her husband as babies and then a game where we guessed what their baby would be like when he grows up. No dirty diapers here! I also spent a lot of time on the favors (caramel apple kits), which were a small detail, but added to the Fall vibes. Finally, you can never go wrong with pumpkin-scented candles, bathroom soaps, and coffee creamer.

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Even if I did end up drinking a few too many mason jars of Autumn Punch, the baby shower went off without a hitch, and it was a great day to celebrate my sister and have a festive Fall day with family and friends.

 

Christmas Gifts for the Hillary in Your Life

Gone are the days of my youth where Christmas mornings were filled with Tiger Beat posters, American Girl dolls, and Doodle Bears. Now, my Christmas list is filled with orthopedic shoes for “professional women.” Woof. But I can deal with it. I guess it’s proof that I’m on my way to becoming the woman I’ve always wanted to be: Hilary. :)

Now that I’ve accepted the fact that a One Direction watch won’t be on my Christmas list, I did some research for things that would be more appropriate for a 27-year-old. I decided to focus on my needs as a business traveler and come up a few items that would make packing, flying, and hoteling much easier. Here’s what I’m wishing for.

Shoes

As a meeting planner, I spend hours and hours running around hotels and convention centers. Despite my long-standing fashion mantra of “fashion over function,” I’ve decided to cave and add some orthopedic shoes to my wish list. Ugh, it’s seriously depressing. But high heels and unsupported flats are just as depressing for my feet. I did a ton of research, and found some acceptable options to go with my black pantsuits. Truth is they’re still gawd awful.

Dansko Nastacia Black Croc

Dansko Olivia Black Cobblestone

Tech Items

When thinking about the tech items that I’m wishing for, I thought about my biggest pet peeves. First, sitting next to a snoring adult or chatty kid on an airplane. Solution? Noise-cancelling earbuds. Second, having a messy carry-on purse filled with power cords. Solution? Tech cord organizer. Third, phone runs out of battery. Solution? Power bank.

Noise Cancelling Headphones

 

Tech Cord Organizer

OP/TECH USA Accessory Pack - 11-Inch

Power Bank

Lady Problems

No, not those kinds of problems, but the organizational problems that every woman faces when she travels. I’ve found that Lori Grenier (of QVC and Shark Tank fame) knows what a lady needs to stay organized on the go. Here are a few of my fave Lori items.

Weekender Bag with Snap-In Toiletry Case

Weekender Bag with Snap-In Toiletry Case by Lori Greiner

Purse Organizer

Ready Set Go 2-Piece Bag Organizer with Light by Lori Greiner

Travel Perfume Spray Bottle – fill with your own perfume

Travalo Refillable Travel Perfume Rollerball Set by Lori Greiner

 

Hopefully my research will help you find Christmas presents for those on your gift-buying list! Sometimes practical gifts are the most unexpected, but appreciated gifts. Check back for some more Christmas gift ideas!

 

 

Kourtney Kardashian’s Parisian Honeymoon

Picking out new clothes is hard.

It’s a very frustrating and usually fruitless process. If you’re looking to buy more than 2 new items, it’s hard to ensure that everything goes together and matches what’s already in your closet.

A few ways that I’ve managed to find success in shopping is to shop online, shop at one store, shop only a few times a year, and think of myself as buying a collection of clothes. You know, like the type of collection that all the fabu designers are presenting in New York this week at fashion week. Everything looks different, but has an underlying theme.

So, after hours spent on Forever21.com this weekend, I purchased my 2014 Fall/Winter collection and have titled the theme of my collection: Kourtney Kardashian’s Parisian Honeymoon.

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While she may be “the boring one,” Kourtney is the least skanky (clothing-wise) and best dressed (sensibility-wise) Kdash sister. She loves Paris and loves Lord Disick and if all my wishes come true, they will elope to and honeymoon in Paris this Fall. And when she does so, she’ll wear these Forever 21 duds (you know, if she were “one of us” and shopped at F21).

Classic Cape Blazer

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Woven Surplice Jumpsuit

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Turtleneck Dolman Top

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Windowpane Pleated Skirt

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Sheer Printed Surplice Top

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Striped Knit Top

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Lily Print Blouse

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Queen Graphic Tee

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Knotted Loose-Knit Headwrap

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Oversized Square Sunglasses

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Classic Square Readers

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Quilted Knit Sweatshirt

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Hopefully you can see my Kdash Parisian vision! The skirt, the Queen tshirt, and the headwrap will look funky and romantic. The jumpsuit, the sweatshirt, and the readers will look effortless and chic. The cape blazer, the striped shirt, and the big sunglasses will look Kdash airport glam. I’m also looking forward to pairing these new items with other pieces currently in my closet  (leather jacket, black booties, chunky gold necklaces).

But the real test will just be if everything fits! Oh the joys of online shopping! And oh the joys of Forever 21’s terrible return policy :)

Weekend Recap

It was a hot, humid, and stormy weekend here in the Midwest, so Adam and I did our best to stay indoors. Of course, having spent the winter in downtown Chicago, we promised ourselves that we wouldn’t stay indoors this summer, but that’s not exactly easy to do with 90% humidity. Here’s what we did to beat the heat.

Movies

Friday night we cracked open some cheap Trader Joe’s wine and watched Somm, a documentary on the Master Sommelier exam.  The documentary follows four Master Sommelier hopefuls as they prep for the epic test that spans three days. We learned some wine description gems that we hope to now use. Like, fresh cut garden hose, wet wool, and newly opened can of tennis balls. Oh and I also learned that all the sommeliers say that Sauvignon Blanc, my favorite white wine, smells like cat pee.

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Then on Saturday afternoon, we caught an afternoon viewing of The One Hundred Foot Journey. While we were definitely the youngest moviegoers in attendance, we’re always up for a good Dame Helen Mirren flick. Set in a Beauty and the Beast-style French village, the movie follows an Indian family that opens a restaurant across the street from Le Mirren’s fancy pants French restaurant. Delicious (looking) food, festive music, and unexpected romance made for a great Saturday movie.

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Books

It’s been awhile (maybe never actually) since I read a book in one sitting, but on Saturday (after going to the movie) I sat down and read through Love Wins by Rob Bell. Yes, this is the controversial book by Rob Bell regarding the reality of hell. I’d definitely recommend it because I personally believe that you should always expose yourself to new and thought-provoking ideas.

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Vacation Planning

With a busy September of business travel ahead of me, Adam and I wanted to plan a last-minute Labor Day trip to spend some extra time together. After hitting the library to pick up Midwest travel books, and researching a million bed and breakfasts, we finally settled on heading up to Traverse City, MI and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. We’re looking forward to nights spent at a country bed and breakfast with our days spent touring wineries and taking snapchats.

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This is what we looked like at Cold Stone (with our travel books from the library) planning our trip.

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All in all, a great summer weekend spent indoors for the most part. Learning about new subjects, reading about new perspectives, and planning new adventures.

God Bless the Gilmore Girls

Seven years after the Gilmore Girls’ finale, there are still new articles published everyday about the show! Like this Gawker article about recasting (err not exactly) the cast for a movie, these episode recaps in Entertainment Weekly, and of course the ever-expanding bevvy of Buzzfeed articles. This TV show resonates with so many people, but why? Here’s why for me.

The Characters

The characters in Stars Hollow and Hartford challenge me. I’m challenged to be more academic like Rory, independent like Lorelai, caring like Sookie, vulnerable like Luke, rebellious like Lane, poised like Emily, outgoing like Kirk, organized like Michelle, controlled like Paris. Each character embodies a humanitarian characteristic that we’re all grasping for. To be relevant. To be loved. To be a part of something.

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The Setting

Stars Hollow is what dreams are made of. A small town where you know the pizza delivery man, where you have a funeral for your cat’s neighbor, where you have town hall meetings. Society is so devoid of genuine relational interaction, that it’s special when we see people (or TV characters) engaging in true community. It’s not about the gazebo, or white church, or beauty product boutique. It’s about the people.

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The Script

Gilmore Girls scripts are 1.5 times the size of a normal TV script because they are jam packed with literary/historical/pop culture references. The writer and creator of Gilmore Girls, Amy Sherman Palladino, said that she didn’t write Gilmore Girls for dumb people. She wanted Gilmore Girls to be smart, and clever, and thought-provoking. She wanted us to engage with the characters and their books and their thoughts.

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P.S. If you’re like me, and have seen every Gilmore Girls episode 10-20 times (I really don’t think I’m exaggerating), then I’d recommend that you check out Virtual Gilmore Girls where a team of fans has written out episodes for season 8-10. These people are geniuses and you won’t be disappointed!

P.P.S. Enjoy this slightly homoerotic picture of Jess and Dean that I stumbled upon during my blog research :)

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