Friday, December 27, 2013

paging Cher

Assemble the penis straws, people. Last night I unpacked from Christmas in Minnesota only to pack it all up again. Next stop, Chicago, for a bridal shower/bachelorette and New Year’s Eve festivities. The wardrobe editing is well underway, of course, in order to ensure suitcase space efficiency without neglecting backup options. Such is a girl’s life. I normally arrive in the Windy City with an overstuffed tote breaking my arm (and obviously annoyance at the expensive Illinois tolls). What I need is a chic backpack to prevent the embarrassing busting-bag episode – it’ll carry more than most purses and distribute the weight of a hefty weekender. Reminiscent of high school, backpacks have an up-for-anything attitude and innocent cuteness, while rich materials and fine details demand grown-up respect. You get extra room for night-out jewelry, touch-up cosmetics, gifts for the bride-to-be – all with the hands-free convenience needed when bouncing from the suburbs to the city (and everywhere in between). Follow me on instagram for a peek inside Saturday night’s shenanigans. Karaoke included.   

 one. // two. // three. // four.
images via pinterest

Thursday, December 26, 2013

trading up

Hello beauties! I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas. Mine was full of fresh snow, Scrabble, oyster stew, peaceful pews, lights on trees and lights in hearts. I spent the entire 25th in pajamas, so getting back to real life today hurts a little. If you’re feeling the same, soften the blow with a buffalo check shirt. After five years of near-incessant wear, I finally had to toss my chambray button down. Instead of replacing it with the same style, I traded up for check – just as soft and versatile, but fresh and new. Pattern makes it inherently more interesting, while straight lines and basic black & white keep it simple, so it plays with everything. Add small leopard accents (belt, shoes, scarf or cuff) to look unplanned and on point on low-effort days like today. Good style doesn't have to be SO loud. And honestly, I can't handle max volume just yet. You can find me this AM at Fox Nails before hitting I-90 home to Madison. Best wishes for a smooth ride into a post-Christmas routine where there are real clothes, responsibilities – and ideally a mani/pedi. 


Monday, December 23, 2013

haim starter kit

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. My mom and I spent the weekend shopping, cooking and going a little crazy in preparation for her holiday open house. I take credit for the Bloody Mary shrimp and tortellini skewers, and give credit for this morning’s headache to the champagne punch. Hopefully you’re cozied up with family by now, with perhaps the relief of one Christmas party under your belt, but if driving over the river and through the woods today like my little sister, do yourself (and your travel stress) a solid and download these three songs: The Wire, Don’t Save Me, Forever – all by Haim. I know it’s supposed to be an uninterrupted stream of Jingle Bells at this stage in the game, but who can listen to the holly jolly station non-stop? I would miss this badass band of sisters too much. Like the mushroom crostini served last night, I just can’t get enough. Safe travels to all and SEE YOU TONIGHT, Alex! We’ve got the wine and snacks ready. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

the eleventh hour

Good news! All gifts are on hand and ready to slide under the tree (not sure what I was thinking buying this crazy kiddie wrapping paper – my mom and her color-coordinated tree will not be pleased – but in the bright light of a Target aisle I was tricked into thinking it cheap and charming). Last year I wasn’t so prepared: one gift failed to arrive in the mail before I had to hit the road. I found it at the mall – and Christmas was saved – but pushing and shoving through Apache is not in the game plan this year, thank God. If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of needing to venture out, here’s what to wear. Neon pink to keep spirits bright when what you want is sold out. Get-through-it-all Hunters for traction on both icy sidewalks and slick store floors – realize you might have to run. A slim vest that’s warm but lightweight ‘cause who wants to sweat circles around Nordstrom? A baseball hat to keep it incognito and just get the job done. All that’s missing is the present. So get going! Come five o’clock I’ll be burning rubber back to the homeland. Looking forward to a night of Redwood Room pizza and Miracle on 34th Street to fire up the holiday festivities. See ya in a week Wisconsin!  

vest // Gap v-neck sweater (old) // scarf (Budapest via study abroad!) // leggings // Hunter boots

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

batting above average

In the spirit of the holiday season and all things go-go-go, let's talk about the just-from-the-gym slant J.Crew is pitching (the October style guide declared a "love affair with sportswear" and there are conspicuously more sneakers in the styling). The look is right in my wheelhouse: I did once own a basketball is life t-shirt (pause for embarrassment), and yet always played Posh in the neighborhood Spice Girls rollerblading shows. And yes, there were several. Videotaped. So the fun for me is getting to be two things at once – one of the guys and still a lady. Throwing on a baseball hat to punctuate a sleek outfit (think wet-look leggings, pointy-toe pumps) is the easiest way to hit this one outta the park. Just make sure it’s actually the hat you wear to pick up groceries and drop off dry cleaning – authentic in a way the rhinestone-encrusted, $300 calf hair ones are not. Maybe that's just the Minnesota in me. A little reminder before I go: Anchorman 2 hits theaters today. Bring out the scotch! Serious question: do teenagers today know the channel 4 news crew? Do they get what's going on when someone says they have many leather-bound books and their apartment smells of rich mahogany? Let's hope so. Stay classy everyone.

Sam Edelman heels (I want these MORE!) // Hue leggings (similar - check your local Macy's) // schoolboy blazer // white tee (any) // hat (support your home team!)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

corporate merger

My first workplace was business casual (no jeans allowed, sleeves required, flats seen as a little sloppy); my current office, just casual. After almost three years at the first company and subsequently adapting to my new normal, I'm a girl torn in two – a closet divided. I don’t want the professional pieces I invested in to collect dust, but do want to dress on par with my peers. Buck up buttercup – where there’s a will, there’s a way – and here, a little creative mixing is the way. Distressed jeans relax a blazer. Sneakers loosen up a sweater dress. Denim democratizes a pencil skirt. Make love, not war. In other news, it's the busiest day of the year for UPS. Anyone else need everything they ordered to arrive by Thursday night? Hoping the men in brown deliver! 



Monday, December 16, 2013

let's move and shake

I FINALLY picked up "Devil in the White City" this weekend and am passing on a little motivation from the first few pages (couldn’t we all use it on a Monday?). Burnham, an architect behind the 1893 world’s fair, was often overhead urging, “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood.” The spirit to build from stock yards something that could upstage the Eiffel Tower is inspiring to say the least. It’s easy to take for granted that what we’ve always known always was. But at some point, someone made it so, and it’s fascinating to travel back to when Chicago was just sprouting. Erecting skyscrapers isn’t in my future, but we can all live ambitiously. And what are we if we don't? I’m not one to sit tight if something doesn’t feel right, or I don’t feel full. So. Let’s all reach for the highest rung, and take in all there is to take – if not for ourselves, then for those who will read the poems, hear the lectures, eat the meals and see the monuments we create. This post goes out to Alyssa who is making just such grand plans and starting a new job in Sin City two weeks from today! Good luck lady (and get my beach chair ready)! 

Friday, December 13, 2013

zzesty gift-giving

Sending my first Christmas gifts out in the mail today! I picked everything up at ZZest, a café & market in my hometown run by a couple who live right around the corner from my parents. Jerry and LeeAnn have owned and operated several restaurants in Rochester over the years; this, the newest. The space is half gourmet pantry, half dining room, with a large open bar that offers dynamic views of the chefs at work amidst bright burners and chopping knives. In the summer, I die for the wood-fired pizza on the outdoor patio (the salty hand-pulled mozzarella is beyond); in winter, it’s seasonal mussels – and I don't leave town without a doggy bag of skordalia. Swing in next time you're in southeast Minn! Long and tasty tangent aside, wishing you a HAPPY WEEKEND full of artisan eats and holiday cheer! 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

snackin' easy and fancy

Playing host for the holidays? Most of my friends are sipping (OK, swigging) the Pinterest Kool-Aid and churning out all kinds of DIY things that would make Martha Stewart giggle with delight, but I like to keep the measuring, boiling and general monkeying to a minimum (hey, less prep, more party). Flip to my page ‘cause it doesn’t get much easier – or tastier – than Trader Joe’s Marcona Almonds. They’re softer than regular almonds and pre-seasoned with rosemary and salt – the taste you can see! They are SOGOOD and feel gourmet, which is important when entertaining – good luck getting people back over if the appetizer tray is just Triscuits. Round out the spread with candied pecans, hummus and pita, charcuterie and cheese. Even Martha's mouth will water.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

pop fizz clink, repeat

Every time I light a candle and settle in for a cozy night, I hear that line from Sex & the City, “Women with candles have replaced women with cats as the new sad thing.” Interesting. But. I’m going to choose to ignore that – especially when it’s an expensive champagne scent filling the room. It's not sad. It’s fabulous (I’m looking at you, Sam Jones). This one's mix of crisp mint, pink grapefruit and French cassis is a fresh breath from the saturation of deep pines and smoky woods winter brings. There's no tacky label to take away from the clean look. And for those of us who love bubbles, it’s a way to enjoy the fizzy drink (if just a whiff) for hours on end – without any judgey side eye. Just picture a single line of the petite rosy cups dancing down the center of your holiday table or framing the mantel. Pour me some more of that!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

the universal shoe

All accessories are special (har har), but these Nine West pumps and J.Crew necklace rank highest in my heart. I bought them to boost a basic interview sheath – and have since been stumped to find anything in my closet they don’t work with (tangerine? camo? chartreuse? merlot? hot pink? gray print? checkcheckcheckcheckcheckcheck!). They're the A Team. Sonny and Cher. Bonnie and Clyde. Ben and Jerry. Shoe credit goes to the classic design in an electric cobalt/violet blend (it's purple! it's blue! it's both!). Tied back to jewelry that picks up what they put down, the neutral-alternative serves up a dish that's a little down to earth, a little out of this world (all about balance, people). Fashion credo says to shake things up with accessories, but here's a case study in the contrary: add-ons that are the anchor. The takeaway: when you find an awesome pair of shoes you love, get 'em. They'll find a way to fit into the outfits you plan (and those you don't). Here, dissect and analyze how these strut through every season -- tried and tested by yours truly. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

warm on the inside

Yesterday we got our first significant snowfall of the season in Madison. These days, the white stuff makes me dread a white-knuckled commute -- but it's still making me feel warm and fuzzy inside today thanks to a lifetime of memories like this. Only my sister would ski in a bow and strike a sassy pose with her poles. Happy Monday snow bunnies!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Menswear PSA

If you’re a man wearing a shawl collar cardigan, I’m into you. That’s a slight exaggeration, but the point is, my heart skips a beat for this nerd-meets-hipster look. Top with a baseball hat, add a Nordic print or elbow patch and it's on like white on rice. All kidding aside, it’s really attractive when a man knows how to dress and puts a little effort into it. This style, especially, because (one) it’s a little quirky which is cute. And (two) I know some guys interpret the shawl as “out there” (you know, wilder than a crewneck) and wearing it equivalent to taking a step too far into the fashion pool. Au contraire. It's confident. Aware. Mature. Don’t know the difference between a cable knit and shaker stitch? Don’t care! Find something you like and get into it. It’s fun, I promise. Here’s a helping hand: one, two, three, four.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

new favorite thing

Have you guys heard of StickyGram? Meet my new favorite thing. It creates magnets (and phone & iPad cases) from your Instagrams. I’ve been wanting to add some photos to my desperately-in-need-of-a-facelift fridge, but can’t find the effort to hunt down those neat ‘n tidy clear magnetic frames. Target? Michael’s? Dollar Tree??? StickyGram to the rescue. AND, how great is it to see the MM'mm'good, LOL, ooh-ahh things you spontaneously snapped every time you get a snack? Really great. I just ordered my first round of magnets, marking points from the past year (Merry Christmas to me!), and poof: a photographic timeline of 2013. B. Spears said it best: "Gimme gimme more, gimme more, gimme gimme more." 

Friday, December 6, 2013

sleep set reality check

Busy week at work, folks. They say peak season is passed, but it doesn’t quite feel that way. No matter, I like the hustle -- though the chaos may be catching up with me. I overslept twice this week (and yes, still made it out the door on time). Tiring schedule aside, the dark winter weather makes it nearly impossible to throw off the blankets at the first AM alarm. And when I get home at night, getting back in those comfy clothes is priority numero uno. The reality: pajamas are more than what you sleep in this time of year. And it's high time to invest in something luxurious (matching separates in a feel-good fabric) that elevates that cozy time at home – dreaming and waking hours. I’m a big fan of vintage, airy sets (bonus: current trend dictates the tops double as cocktail attire). You’ll get more wear out of something lightweight that can hang for three seasons, and adding a monogram (all the rage) really cements the luxe lounge look. Just finish with mocs and a wrap during the coldest months. Happy hibernating!