Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Went (almost) a month without blogging ... Again

Okay guys, May has been crazy! I know I say this every time I go a while without blogging, but this month it's especially true. I found out pretty last minute that I'm going to have to find a new roommate, a new apartment or move home, so I've been stressing and scrambling with trying to figure out what I'm going to do July 1 when my lease runs out, though all signs are pointing toward shacking up with mom and dad for a few months. It's not all bad, though! I'll have more money each month to put toward my students loans or start my 401K!

Not only has my personal life been a tad stressful, but work has been cray cray, too! It was slow for a minute, but that's not the case anymore, and I love it!! The days fly, our team is working so well together and we are working on some awesome projects. Work has been so rewarding lately for so many reasons. One of which is feeling like I'm kicking butt at my job. Few things are better than that.

I've also been away from home every evening since May 15. I've been to Disney, Kansas City and my parents' house since then. Tonight is my first night home and alone in a while, so it's time for a blog post! I know you've all been dying to know what I've been up to since May 2.

The first part of the month was all about trying out a few new restaurants and beers. Matt and I had VIP tickets to STL Microfest a few weekends ago, and it was a blast. Matt was totally in his element, we both got to try a few too many beer samples, and it was a perfect way to enjoy one of the first nice weekends of the year.

We checked out brunch at Gamlin Whiskey house the next morning. It's definitely my new favorite brunch place in St. Louis. The coffee was to die for (is there anything better than restaurant coffee?), and my omelet was fantastic. They also, according to Matt, have great chicken and waffles.

And then, the craziness ensued. Two weeks later we were off to Orlando for my first trip to Disney since 1999! My feet might have hurt worse than after my two half marathons at the end of every day, but it was such a fun trip, and I can't wait to go back. We certainly made the most of our time. We rode all the fun rides (Rockin' Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios is by far my favorite), we ate like kings, traveled (and drank) around the world and even had a little bit of pool time.

And two days after we got back to a very cold St. Louis, it was off to Kansas City for a long weekend of baseball games! Matt and I checked out some great new restaurants (Go to Beer Kitchen as soon as you can!), slept great Sunday night, did a little shopping and checked out a new brewery. The reason we went to KC for the weekend was to catch a few Cardinals/ KC Royals games. The I-70 series is a tradition every year and a great excuse for Cardinals fans to make a weekend trip out of a good baseball game or two. We had tickets for the Saturday and Sunday games. We had awesome seats for both games, but unfortunately we only got to see one full game. It was rainy and cloudy all weekend, but the hardest of the hard rain fell Saturday right as the Cardinals were getting ready for the sixth inning. They called the game, so Matt and I spent the rest of our evening in the Westport area of Kansas City. Westport is a few streets full of local bars and restaurants. It was a great night until the torrential rain started all over again (RIP white chucks).

Well, now you're caught completely up on my escapades since my last post. Work is still busy, my summer is filling up fast, and I'm still not totally sure what I'm doing when my lease is up, but summer bucket list item #1 is definitely blog more regularly again!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Summer temps are here!

 Yesterday, on probably the nicest day of 2015 so far, I was in bed all day battling some sort of flu/cold/annoying illness. All I wanted to do this weekend was spend every second outside soaking up the sun and warm weather, but all I could do was daydream about the sunburn I would get and the fun I would have. Of course, any part of a good day dream is figuring out what you would wear, right? I am so excited to bust out my denim shorts and white shirts and fun sandals. Tonight Matt and I are going to a craft beer festival, and I would love to wear this outfit for that — and every other occasion I have coming up this summer.

Friday, May 1, 2015

What's in my makeup bag

I have a confession to make.

Yesterday was the first time I'd ever bought anything from Sephora. But I really don't think it will be the last.

I've always been 100-percent committed to my drugstore cosmetics, and I've always been relatively satisfied with my Almays and Covergirls. But lately I've been really frustrated with my perpetually dry skin. It seemed like every product I tried made me skin flaky and wore off after just a few hours. Finally, like any other girl, I consulted my besties for suggestions on what makeup I should be getting. They all suggested stopping by Sephora, telling one of the employees what I was looking for and just splurging on a really good foundation. As usual, they were right.

I went in, the employee knew exactly what to suggest and my skin looked and felt amazing after we sampled a few foundations. So now, I am the proud owner of Urban Decay's Naked Skin Foundation. While I don't think I'll be splurging on all department store products, I can really tell a difference a good foundation that's right for my skin can make. Urban Decay's foundation is lightweight, offers enough coverage to get rid of imperfections but is light enough that my freckles still show through.

When I'm determined to do something I do it all out, so I clicked around on the Beauty Department (a great resource for everyday makeup ideas as well as special-occasion hair and makeup) and learned how to better utilize the makeup I already have as well as some other key products I was missing.

I stuck to a few products to pick up, and together with my new foundation and my old standbys, I think I have a great new makeup routine that can be toned down for work or kicked up a notch for a night out.

I got a Bobbi Brown eye and lip palette for Christmas, and I'm obsessed! I mix a few of the shades for my everyday eyeshadow and in some darker, more shimmery shades for nighttime. The eyeshadow goes on so evenly and stays put all day.

I got this NYX cream blush yesterday at Target and it has converted me to a full-on cream blush user. It goes on a lot lighter and makes my skin look less flaky and dry. I think it's a great alternative to powder blush for us dry-skinned girls.

When I was testing out foundations yesterday, the Sephora employee suggested using a brush to apply it so it goes on lighter and more evenly. I couldn't part with $32 for a single makeup brush, so I opted for this Sonia Kashuk set for $23. I can definitely tell my foundation is more even and the brow and blush brushes are also much better than what I was using. This set is a great deal if you're looking for a bunch of new brushes.

I also got a sample of this Smashbox primer yesterday. It's done a good job of keeping the foundation in place and keeping flakes at bay. When my sample runs out, I think I'll be looking for a more affordable version, but I would definitely recommend adding primer to your makeup routine if you're struggling with dry skin.

Some of my other favorite products include Almay eyeliner. I've been using this eyeliner for years and I love it. It goes on easily and stays on throughout the day. I've started using Maybelline Pumped Up Colossal Mascara recently. It adds amazing volume to my lashes, and the price is perfect. And the most important part of my beauty routine- my moisturizer! I don't leave home without applying a thick coat every morning. Nothing it quite as refreshing as starting the day with smooth, soft skin.

I will always be a makeup bargain hunter because I've always had really good luck with drugstore products. The price is right and I think a lot of them are very high quality. But I definitely learned yesterday that there is value in splurging on a high-end product every once in a while if there's a feature or product you really struggle with. Plus, working with an expert can be helpful if you're a little clueless like I was.

What are the makeup products you can't live without? Any bargains I should try?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Weekend in Nashville

After three days away from home and a late Monday night at a Cardinals game, I finally have a second to tell you about my trip to Nashville! This weekend was my second trip to the city in the past six months. It's quickly becoming my new favorite place to visit. It's a quick drive from St. Louis, and there is always so much going on. Downtown and Broadway are a blast, but what I love most about Nashville are all of the diverse neighborhoods with unique restaurants, bars and shops. It was a fun, busy weekend and I can't wait to go back!

My mom and I were on our own Friday morning and afternoon, which obviously meant we were going shopping. First, we wanted to get breakfast at Pancake Pantry, which is super well known, but someone (me) was getting hangry, so we ditched the lonnnnng line and headed across the street to a little cafe for breakfast. Pancake Pantry is in a neighborhood called Hillsboro Village, which is super close to Vanderbilt and Belmont University.

Because of its proximity to tons of college students, the neighborhood was full of unique stores and hip restaurants.

It had a nice, small-town feel but it was still trendy and fun. I'd love to have more time to explore the area and try some of the restaurants. 

After Hillsboro, it was time to head downtown to the Rock n Roll expo to pick up our race packets. For a Friday afternoon, the expo was super hectic. There were people and lines everywhere! It was far bigger than either of the St. Louis race expos I've been to, and it was cool to see some of the local vendors I'm not used to seeing at home. And, of course, there were lots of free giveways! I'm now the proud owner of three new re-usable totebags, some snap pea crisps and some running nutrition supplements! 

The forecast for Saturday called for rain, so my mom and I got new moisture-wicking hats as a precaution and a way to fend off the bad weather. Is anyone else of the notion that if you have your umbrella/rain coat/dry-fit hat it most certainly won't rain? 

After the Expo, we headed down the street to Broadway to find some lunch, a few drinks and of course live music. We chose Rippy's across from the Bridgestone Arena, and it was awesome! First and foremost, the barbecue and the barbecue sauce were outstanding and the restaurant offered a long list of unique cocktails. 

 Perhaps my favorite thing about Broadway is that any bar you visit will have live music from 10 a.m. until at least 2 a.m. the next morning. I really don't think I've seen a bad band in the two times I've been to Nashville. There is so much talent in the city. I couldn't get over how packed the bar was at lunch on a Friday and how much fun everyone was having already. 

After lunch, my mom and I went back to the condo for an outfit change (duh) and met up with my dad and Matt. The boys hadn't eaten all day so it was time for another meal (most vacations I go on center around food). Dinner was Burger Republic in the Gulch. It was SO GOOD. All four of us ordered the same burger (the best in Tennessee, according to Zagat). It was appropriately titled The Tennessee and had bacon, onion, smoked ketchup and Jack Daniels Honey Glaze. I would definitely recommend checking it out. They also have tater tot fondue and boozy milkshakes. How can you resist? 

  After dinner, we hopped on over to midtown for a few drinks and live music. As usual, Midtown was a great way to end the night and get in some quality people watching. 

After a night in Midtown, my 4:30 a.m. wake-up call (proceeded by the fire alarm going off at 3:30 a.m.) came a little too early. It was off to the races! The only advantage of getting up that early was the spectacular view of the city on the way to the race. 

Although it was weird being a half marathon course and not feeling totally stressed and nervous, it was kind of cool to watch everyone finish their race, especially the winners. I cannot imagine sustaining that fast of a pace for 13 or even 26 miles.

My favorite part of watching the race was learning how running brings out the best in people. Whether it's guiding a blind runner, helping someone who is struggling or running for an important cause, you really witness some incredible acts of kindness on the course.

And of course I used a 5K as an excuse to have a beer and bloody mary at 8 a.m. 

After lunch and a nap and another outfit change, it was back downtown to enjoy a surprisingly sunny and warm afternoon. See, I told you it wouldn't rain because we bought those hats! You're welcome, runners. 

First up was Acme Feed & Seed on Broadway. I was a little bummed by this place at first because it was so crowded, but once I had a drink in my hand, I really started to enjoy it. It's gorgeous on the inside, has a great patio and is the place to be on a sunny Saturday, so the people watching was fantastic, especially since it's bachelorette/bachelor party season (though, I think those are always in season in Nashville). Matt, my parents and I had a great time enjoying the sun on the roof. 

After Acme, we headed to the 12 South neighborhood for dinner at Edley's. My mom and I had bbq nachos, and they were fabulous. In typical Nashville fashion, the place was charming, the atmosphere fun and the food delicious. After dinner, we headed back to Broadway and closed out a short night listening to more live music. 


Sunday, as is usually the case on weekend vacations, was a little sad because we had to leave/ sit in the car all afternoon/ go to work tomorrow, but we drowned our sorrows in coffee and biscuits at The Southern. Sunday brunch at The Southern is easily my favorite meal of both Nashville trips. The menu is unique, the staff is wonderful, the restaurant is beautiful and the food is amazing. I would drive four hours both ways just for brunch. It fills up quick though, so I would definitely hit up OpenTable to make a reservation.

Oh, and remember last week when I mentioned going to Kendra Scott during the trip? Obviously I couldn't let Matt drive away without visiting the store and picking up my first of her pieces. I can't wait until the St. Louis location opens. The staff was so friendly and the store was inviting and obviously full of gorgeous stuff. It was hard to pick out just one thing.

Are you going on any trips soon? What did I miss this trip that I should definitely check out next time I'm in Nashville?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Weekend wonderful


 Happy Friday, y'all! I'm spending my weekend in Nashville with Matt and my parents and about 40 of mine and my mom's closest running friends for the Country Music Marathon & Half Marathon. Don't worry, I'm not running a second half this month, just a 5K and cheering on our friends whose training is coming to a close this weekend.

Today my mom and I are shopping and hitting up the race expo before the boys get down later tonight. Look for a full recap next week. Hope your weekend is fabulous!

I've been a huge fan of Sarah and her fiance Kiel James Patrick for a long time. They're perfectly preppy and their Instagrams are what dreams are made of. I've loved watching their brand grow and following along with their adventures. Getting a peek inside her office was such a treat this week. Serious design inspo. 

Kendra's Nashville store just opened a few weeks ago, and I can't wait to check it out. I've had my eye on lots of her pieces for a while. Maybe this is the weekend I'll pull the trigger on this, this or this.

Not gonna lie, I was one of the girls refreshing her computer like crazy and checking Twitter to find out when the collection went live Sunday around midnight. I was one of the lucky ones who was able to get her hands on a shift, and I'm anxiously awaiting its arrival! Almost equally as awesome as the collection itself was the fallout and freak-out from dedicated Lilly lovers. Yes, it's unfortunate the collection sold out in minutes, but the tweets about it are pure gold. 

New restaurant I tried this week: Blues City Deli
Extensive menu. Yummy food. The sweetest staff. 

Place I want to try: Ices
They make the ice cream from scratch in front of you. Sign me up!

Any big plans this weekend? How about any suggestions on things to do in Nashville?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

DIY wooden monogram

Just as I'm sure most of the bloggers you follow are, I'm obsessed with monograms. Monogrammed phone cases, monogrammed coffee mugs, monogrammed vests the list goes on. My aunt got me wooden laser-cut monogram for my birthday, and nine months later, I finally finished it and hung it up Sunday. Painting it and getting the ribbon to stay was a lot more involved than I thought. If you've got a monogram you've been meaning to paint, or you've always wanted one, here's the process I used to prep, paint and post mine.

What you'll need:
- wooden monogram
-Sand paper
-Wet rag
-Push Pins
-Spray primer
-Acrylic paint
-Foam brushes
-Thumb tacks
-Optional: furry friend to supervise 

It's easy to want to skip this step because it's a little tedious, but sanding is probably one of the more important steps with a project like this. You'll want to lightly sand the entire surface of the monogram to get rid of any imperfections and stray pieces of wood. A nice, smooth surface will make for a nicer finished product and will help the primer and paint go on easier. After you sand, take a wet rag to the wood to remove any remaining dust.

 Place a few push pins on the back of your monogram so it doesn't stick to any towels or blankets you've laid down once paint and primer is applied. The push pins will also make it easier to paint the sides and small corners. 

 To help your paint go on easier, apply a coat or two of spray primer to your sanded monogram. Make sure to do this in an open, well-ventilated area. I took my work table to the middle of my yard as to not make a mess in the garage. Once your primer has dried (about an hour later), lightly sand one more time to get rid of any rough edges.

This step is fairly self-explanatory. You'll probably need to apply two coats, and make sure you let each coat dry before applying a fresh one. 

 Adding ribbon
There are probably a few ways you can do this, such as looping the ribbon through the top of your monogram, but the shape of my letters didn't really allow for this, so we had to improvise. I'm happy how the ribbon turned out. I think it's a little cleaner than just looping the ribbon through the middle. Fold a long piece of ribbon in half and place each side on the back of the monogram at the height you'd like to it hang. You'll need about four thumb tacks to secure your ribbon. You'll want to lightly hammer down one on each side to keep the ribbon in place. Then you'll gather some of the ribbon to make sure it's hidden behind the monogram and hammer another push pin on each side to keep your gathering in place.

Once you're happy with your ribbon placement, cut off any extra, tie a bow at the fold at the top, nail the back of the bow to your wall, and voila! 

Have you DIY-ed a painted monogram? What are your tips? Any suggestions for DIY projects I should try?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Getting to know you ...

Last week, I discovered Annie Reeves and her blog, which is a gorgeous and fun homage to Charleston, style, food and more. I love her writing style and her photos. She posted these questions a while back, so I thought I'd take a stab at answering the same questions.  *Some questions were omitted because I just could not come up with an answer*

Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?  
Do they have to be alive? No? Okay, cool. I would choose my grandmother. She passed away when I was a baby, but based on how all her friends and family talk about her, I know she was an amazing, strong woman. I think we would be close. I've always wondered. 

For what in your life do you feel most grateful? 

My relationship with my parents. I'm an only child, so I've always spent a lot of time with them. They're my best friends. We share lots of laughs, we goof around, have good talks, enjoy trying new things together. But they're also my parents. I am so confident that they have my back no matter what and that they will always want what's best for me. I'm not afraid to admit that they're always right, and I feel like that says a lot.

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be? 

To be the most outgoing person in the room. I've always admired people who can charm the pants off of anyone they meet. That's not me. I try. I'm nice and pleasant, but not charming. 

If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?

Do my kids turn out okay? (I don't have any now, but I'm fairly confident I will someday)

What do you value most in a friendship? 

Someone who allows me to be absolutely be myself 100 percent of the time. Someone I can laugh with.

What is your most treasured memory? 

College. Every single day. All four years. Every tear. Every hard class. Every awkward moment. College made me who I am today. And it was just so so fun to become her. 
How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
Today I went to Target with my mom, we went antiquing, and then watched The Sound of Music in theaters, and it was just the best day. We're running buddies, shopping buddies, and she is the first person I call for advice or when something weird/funny/exciting/scary/stressful happens. So yea, I feel pretty amazing about our relationship.  

If you were going to become a close friend with someone, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
I get stressed out easily. I'll probably think you're mad at me at least once.  

What would constitute a “perfect” day for you? 
It would start with bottomless coffee and bloody marys at brunch with my girlfriends. We would laugh and gossip and create hilarious scenarios in our heads and then we'd take a drive with the windows down because of course it's sunny and warm on your perfect day. Then I'd take a nap in an immaculately clean room (I really value some good, quality alone time and clean rooms). After my nap, I'd meet up with Matt and we'd go to a brewery or try a new restaurant or go to a baseball game. Anything where we're together, trying new things or sharing something we love. And I'd see my parents at some point too. And probably play with puppies.  Oh, and we'd be in Paris. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I bought a desk and now I'm suddenly going to become productive, right?

A while back, I mentioned that I wanted to get a desk for my room in hopes that it would make me productive and organized and make my room look even more fab than before. It's only been 48 hours since me and Matt (mostly Matt) put the desk together, so I can really only speak on the third goal, but I'll keep you posted on that whole productivity/organization thing. In order for the desk to fit, I had to move a few things around, and I'm very pleased with how my room has come together. In the past week I've also added a few frames to my gallery wall and finished a monogram project I've been working on since the fall — I know, I know. I have so many ideas and things I want to accomplish, but it's the execution that always gets me.

I scoured the Internet for a small and affordable desk, and ended up picking out this one from Target.  It's ten percent off right now with code GRAD. The magazine holder and candle were impulse buys while I was picking up my desk because who goes to Target and only comes out with what they came in for?

The two photos on the right are my new addition. Those, the bench and porcelain Basset Hound are all from Home Goods, aka heaven on earth.

Look out for a tutorial on the painting and hanging a wood monogram later this week.