Sunday, September 15, 2013

Monograms, monograms, and more monograms.

I figured that posting about the things I love would be a great way to dive back into the blogging world- and I sure love monograms! As of lately, I've been buying more than my fair share of monogrammed items, and have found some stand out favorites for sure!

Busy Bees Gifts Etsy // Facebook
Excuse the iffy quality of the photo, but these koozies are GREAT. I ordered a few for myself, as well as for some friends that I knew would appreciate their monograms on a koozie. I loved ordering from Busy Bees because the owner communicated with me throughout the process and my items came in the blink of an eye! She is always posting new items and photos on her Facebook page, which is way too tempting!

Cuttin' Crazy Etsy // Facebook
My polka dot cell phone cover looked way too lonely without a monogram on the back... Cuttin' Crazy had an Etsy deal on 2" monograms and I really couldn't say no. Once again, I was thrilled with how quickly the decal got to me, and I've recommended these to friends multiple times already. Each decal comes with really great step-by-step directions, great for the decal amateur!

For Pete's Sake Pottery Facebook // Etsy
I'd been searching all over the internet for a wooden monogram that I could paint, and was so thrilled when I fell across For Pete's Sake Pottery on Twitter, and then again on Etsy. This 10" monogram was gorgeous before I even painted it- really great quality! As the name suggests, this is mostly a pottery business, and the owner does a beautiful job painting custom ceramic items. 

What are some of your favorite places to get a monogrammed item? I have been dying for a monogrammed baseball hat, but right before I order one, I remember how goofy I look in hats (I've had this realization 5+ times). 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Alpha Delta Pi <>

Happy Founder's Day to one of the things in my life that has meant the most and shaped me into who I am today- Alpha Delta Pi. I can't even imagine creating something that would affect women 162 years in the future, and pave the way for women's organizations everywhere, but I am so proud to be a part of the sisterhood that did. It's hard to fathom the great strides our six founders had made in 1851- all before women were allowed to vote.

Alpha Delta Pi has shaped me into the leader I am today, and is 100% of the reason that I had such a wonderful experience in my four years at Illinois State. The bonds of sisterhood were something I had not experienced as an only child, yet I graduated college having known the love and sisterhood of Alpha Delta Pi. 

It's not four years, it's for life. First, finest, forever.

<> <3

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Cookies, Cookies, Cookies!

Things that I don't understand have always fixated me... now, I don't mean physics or philosophy or anything else like that. In this case, I mean iced cookies. I tried to bake Brendan some cookies in December and the icing was an absolute nightmare. Somehow half of the batch was thick like clay, and the other half was more runny than water.

I'm not a novice baker by any means (ahem- I WORK at a bakery for goodness sake), but something about cookies and decorating them is just so beyond me. I paint, and I can paint pretty well if I do say so myself, so maybe I need to give cookie decorating a try one of these days.

Here are some absolutely AMAZING cookie makers I've found poking around Pinterest, Instagram, and various blogs. Enjoy!

When I came across these on Facebook, my jaw dropped. I can't even comprehend the complexity and cuteness of these cookies. If anyone wants to send me these exact cookies (dGa is my monogram) for my birthday next year, I would be MORE than happy to receive them ;)

TBE is doing a really great thing during the month of May- taking part in a virtual bake sale to raise funds for No Kid Hungry, a program encouraging Americans to help end child hunger. There are many baking bloggers around the country participating, so do a little poking around and find someone local if you want to save on shipping. Regardless, the money is going to a great cause and you get some yummy treats in return.

How cute are these London-themed cookies? After watching the Olympics from London this past summer, I dying for a return trip back "across the pond" but I think these cookies would suffice for a little while! I love the little details on the telephone booth, and the Union Jack looks like it's blowing in the wind.

One Preppy Cookie is also a fun blog to follow, a combination of adorable cookie creations and various lifestyle posts and home projects. Her site says she is currently booked through the calendar year with cookie orders, so naturally I want what I can't have even more!!

A while ago, I found these amazing anchor cookies on Pinterest and it was love at first sight. I love love love all things nautical and anchors, and these cookies are simply amazing. Sweet Goosie Girl has really perfected the scalloped cookie with amazing designs in the center. A set of 12 is $36, and can be individually wrapped to be as favors. I'm already sending this link to Brendan in hopes he wants to get me "just because" cookies!

I hope this post left everyone feeling inspired to start trying some fun baking, or giving you a new business to buy some delicious treats from! 

Have a good weekend everyone! I am off to Soldier Field (where the Chicago Bears play) for the American Beer Classic- whoo!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

My Online Shopping Obsession Continues...

As a rule of thumb lately, if I can do it from my iPad, I love it. Online shopping hasn't always been my thing, but lately I've found so many amazing sites with accessories, clothing and shoes that I'm lusting over that it makes it so fun and so worth it.

These are some of my favorite sites for cheap basics, trendy items, and accessories!

Accessory Boutique is on Facebook and features really great auction-style jewelry sales on Thursday evenings. Pictures get posted with price and quantity, and shoppers can comment their emails and an invoice is emailed! The earrings below are right up my alley and are currently on sale for $15 with free shipping. I was lucky enough to win the pink make-up bag below in a giveaway last month.. I love it for travelling, especially since I'm always headed somewhere, it seems.

UrbanOG has been my go-to since freshman year for cheap shoes and accessories to wear to sorority events. The only place I found the right color pink shoes for my formal dress (and trust me, I searched everywhere) was on UrbanOG. Currently I'm in love with these shoes ($31.91) and this dress ($27.20), I'm trying my best to spend less money on clothing, but all bets are off! 

My obsession with GroopDealz started earlier this year when the lovely Mary Beth Goodwin shared a link to a GroopDealz flash sale with me on Twitter. It's been love ever since, and it's great getting emails in the morning with the weekly deals. This week I'm a big fan of the Pave Crystal bracelet ($10.99) Summer Finley Necklace ($11.99). I have been really into gray and yellow lately, and this would be such a cute look with chambray and white jeans!

Sassy Steals and GroopDealz are tied for first on my list of favorite emails to receive each day! I usually eat my breakfast while scrolling through the flash sales on these two sites. This week I'm loving the Teardrop Bubble Statement Necklace ($11.99). Everyone seems to have the same bubble necklace these days (I'm guilty, see like two posts below.. eek), which is fine because they're adorable, but this one is really unique!  And since summer is right around the corner, the Personalized Beach Tote ($15.99) is perfect for bringing drinks to the beach or pool!

I didn't escape this post unscathed.. can you guess what item(s) I bought? 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Snail Mail Love

Nothing beats getting mail! The majority of mail addressed to me lately is either student loan payments or my university's alumni association asking for donations... so needless to say it always brightens my day when I see something addressed to me that's not asking me for money. Here's some favorites of mine as seen around the internet. If you see one and are feeling the overwhelming urge to send it to me, please feel free ;)

How cute is this Pick A Card, Any Card Get Well Soon card? Fun colors and patterns can sometimes be the best medicine. My mom made this card, so I'm slightly biased! ($2.50 for one card)
Of course this post wouldn't be complete without featuring some of the adorable Lilly Pulizter note cards on Lifeguard Press. I just got a multi-occasion set of Lilly cards from Von Maur and had to resist the urge to send each and everyone one at once. So cute! ($30 for 10 note cards)

Jonathan Adler is one of my new favorite designers- after seeing his things on Lifeguard Press and then again recently in JC Penney I've been obsessed. They're the perfect balance of preppy and geometric, and I definitely need some more Adler in my life! ($18 for 6 cards)

Any other great brands that I need to know about? :)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Greek Easter

Sunday was Orthodox Easter, which meant that my family got to celebrate a second time (perks of being half Greek, I suppose)! Just photos tonight, next post will be featuring greeting cards and all of the joys of snail mail!

It wasn't quite warm enough for shorts, but is IS May already so who cares!
Cardigan: Forever 21 from a while back
Shirt: NY & Company Outlet, but they were previewing their spring items so it may still be in stores!
Shorts: Loft from last spring
Jewelry: Sassy Steals, Etsy, Style & Co.

Mommy and I before leaving

My sweet little cousin, Elijah who likes to think he's Spiderman. We played the whole time and I learned that I definitely don't know how to play with toy cars!

Hope everyone had a fun weekend!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Glass Slipper Project

Yesterday I had such an incredible volunteering experience that I just had to share it with the Internet! After hearing about the Glass Slipper Project from Brendan's mom last spring, I was ready to volunteer a whole year in advance! GSP collects donated prom dresses, shoes, accessories and more to provide to Chicago high school seniors who could not otherwise afford to buy a dress to attend prom. The program is completely run by volunteers and is donation-based, which was even more motivation for me to clean out my closet and give some new life to all of the dresses I've accumulated over the years.

Girls show up as early as 5:30 on Saturday morning to line up for their "appointments" to get dressed for a gown. Each girl is matched with a volunteer Personal Shopper who leads them around to each station. A vacant Chicago Public School is turned into a boutique for four weekends in the spring and houses over 4,800 dresses, accessories and more. Each room is dedicated to a dress size, and the dresses are grouped by color as well. After selecting a dress, there are two enormous rooms of shoes to choose from, as well as many rooms of jewelry, purses, and brand new makeup generously donated by Chicagoland businesses. 

I was sent with two HUGE boxes of brand new shoes that Brendan's Aunt Leah generously purchased from H&M and shipped to the Project for the last weekend. It was love at first sight for the volunteers and the shoppers, and I was so excited when the first girl I dressed selected a pair of shoes Leah had sent!

Overall, this was an incredibly humbling experience, and I left feeling so happy that I had gotten to help girls choose something to wear on a night they'll hopefully remember forever! I leave you all with this gem, circa 2008 Grant High School Senior Prom

Saturday, May 4, 2013

8 Pieces I'm Dying to Have

Clothes and potential outfits occupy probably 75% of my thoughts at any given time.. Shoes account for a majority of the rest, and then about 5% is motor skills and thinking. But really, I'm only half kidding! ;)
These are some items from designers and brands that I've been reaaaaaally really into lately- my 8 Must Haves, if you will. I hope that by writing this post, they'll magically find their way to my closet!

1. Maybooks Custom Monogrammed Planner (from $20)- Maybooks is a control freak's dream company. There are more patterns, monogram shapes, and styles of planners than even the most organized person could ever have a use for. They're such a fun brand to follow on Instagram as well because they always repost photos that customers upload!
2. Kate Spade Seaport Watch ($150)- I have an obsession with watches, and lately I've been itching to expand my already large collection. I love the gold accents with the bright pink, perfect for summer.
3. Tiffany & Co. Key Necklace ($250)- For the past five years I have been fixated on all things keys, especially ones that are made by Tiffany's. I also accept keys made by BMW and Audi, as long as the keys open actual vehicles.
4. Lilly Pulitzer Alpha Delta Pi Bangle ($48)- The ADPi Lilly print is absolutely perfect. Really, enough said there. I wear my fair share of blue and white as it is, so I definitely need this bangle in my life even more.
5. Sperry for J. Crew Seersucker Top-Siders ($98)- I almost had a heart attack in J.Crew the first time I saw these. Seersucker season is back and I couldn't be happier about it. I work in a bakery, so closed toe shoes are a must, and Sperry's are oh-so perfect.
6. Mary Beth Goodwin Design iPhone 4 case ($53)- I LOVE Mary Beth Goodwin and her designs. I stumbled across her Facebook page last summer and have been so ridiculously happy that I did since then. She has since expanded her line significantly and is doing such amazing things. Be sure to follow her on Instagram, she's always posting awesome stuff and sale information! She is also a New York Giants fan, so obviously I am an even bigger fan of hers for that alone! ;)
7. Lilly Pulitzer Delia Dress in Let's Cha Cha ($168)- It was love at first sight with this pattern, and I officially want everything in this pattern. Seriously.
8. Kiel James Patrick Barnstable Bag ($148)- Kiel James Patrick and Sarah Vickers are literally the cutest couple I have ever seen (via the Internet, of course... wish we were real life friends, especially Sarah because we could totally share closets! I digress...) and their brand is amazing. Handcrafted, American made products are something that everyone could use a lot more of. I love supporting local businesses, as well as companies who make their things in the United States, and KJP is a fine example of that. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Cooking Skills Academy: Gourmet Latin

Last night, my mom and I got to attend a cooking class taught by a chef who had experience everywhere from Disney, the Ritz Carlton, to Chicago hot-spot Wildfire. We went to Cooking Skills Academy in Itasca, IL to attend the Gourmet Latin class. This was my first cooking class and I definitely want to look into taking more! Have you ever taken a class before?

We were greeted with a seriously cool space, tucked into the back of a kitchen and bathroom design showroom. Two people shared a table with their own knives, cutting boards, and a shared stove, as well as ingredients. My mom made the perfect partner, especially because we both love garlic and hate cilantro. Our class lasted an hour and a half, and we ate for about a half an hour afterwards, getting to talk to our chef and the owner of the Academy.

Our chef, Manny, taught us how to correctly chop tomatoes, onions, jalapenos and a quick way to pull the leaves off of cilantro. Everyone combined the small amount of tomatoes that they roasted and together the class made a massive amount of salsa that was blended up at the front with the chef. I'm not the best a cutting things, so this was beneficial to have nice knives and learn from an actual chef!

We got a demo on how tortilla chips are made- which is basically just tortillas cut up and fried in oil. Mystery debunked! Manny whipped up some Spanish rice and we moved on to dice more of our veggies to make pico de gallo and guacamole. I gladly would have just eaten spoonfuls of the two, but we were also cooking skirt steaks to serve with the rice, yum! Manny taught us how a nice restaurant might plate the items we cooked tonight, as seen below. 

Overall, this was seriously such a fun experience. This class was perfect for beginners, but my mom and I both learned a lot, even though we both love to cook. Cooking Skills Academy has a killer class list and is expanding to do outdoor grilling classes, as well as mobile kitchens to head to corporations and businesses. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

eat this much

I dabble in using MyFitnessPal to monitor the foods I'm eating and the exercise I'm doing, but sometimes I struggle with allotting myself food over the course of the day. There have been many times when I have a bigger than usual lunch and find that I'm left with only 300 calories for dinner, and as luck may have it, it's pasta night. eliminates a lot of these issues in a seriously easy way. Tell the generator how many calories you want to eat and in how many meals and it comes up with a simple, straightforward answer. In this case I put 1500 calories in 3 meals (jokes!) and was given the image below.
You can save a meal so that it comes up again next time it generates, or banish a meal that has yucky things in it. There's a special feature that generates by diet (Atkins/Keto, Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian), and you can also specify how much preparation you want to go into each meal. 

This site is pretty bare bones, but extremely useful and gave me some really great inspiration as to what I should be eating. I figure 1500 calories was a decent amount plus 200 give or take calories to put towards things that the site doesn't have programmed in (aka I work at a bakery so cupcakes and other yummies). You can also add recipes of things you cook and have them shuffled into the mix. 

Overall this was really cool, and definitely worth checking out!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

selling things on etsy, or: how i ended up making a bunch of crafts for myself

I love love love hand painting wooden letters, boards, and frames with various prints and patterns. I have branched out to canvases, and even small jewelry boxes, all of which I sell on Etsy... but something is still not clicking.
I've tried sponsoring my items, I promote the heck out of stuff to my 200+ fans on Facebook, and I have even done a few giveaways on various other blogs. Etsy seems to have blown up lately, and handcrafted items are a dime a dozen. People seem to pick and choose items based on price rather than quality, and I'm coming to find that in order to sell items, I would have to not even pay myself for the time spent.

I enjoy painting so much that I find myself making things even when I don't have orders (this seems to be a decent amount of the time), and I am starting to run out of wall space. I have crafted for my friends' birthdays that are months away to photograph them as prototypes, and I have also taken to giving random gifts to people for the same reasons.

Something is still not working. So much so that I wonder why I bother posting things onto my Facebook brand page if the only people who like my photos and posts are my mom, my boyfriend's mom, and my college roommate. I mean, they practically have to ;)

Has anyone had a great Etsy epiphany that I might be missing? I sometimes feel like there's some sort of magical thing that I need to figure out and everything will finally click.

I'd love the hear what you think, if anyone is reading this! :)

Nashville trip!

After a few weeks of planning, Brendan and I will officially be leaving for our vacation to Nashville next Wednesday! I'm taking two days off work at the end of Brendan's spring break and we are driving down from Chicago, which is surprisingly not too long of a trip. I usually obsessively plan everything out, but Nashville seems like such a go with the flow city that I can't help but take a laid back approach to the vacation. Here are some places we have in mind to visit:

Whiskey and Tennessee seem to go hand in hand, so how could we not? There is a cute historical village in town and a lot of free things to do, which we're all about! The funny thing about this distillery is that you can't buy anything when you're finished with your tasting and tour, because it is in a dry county. Brendan and I both appreciate a decent whiskey, so we're really looking forward to this part of the trip!

The Parthenon, Nashville
This just seems to funny to pass up! I have been to the actual Parthenon in Athens, but being half Greek, I feel it is my obligation to visit this replica and see the homage paid to my ancestors. There's apparently an art museum inside and a large park system around the building as well. Fingers are crossed that it's nice enough weather to enjoy the outdoors while we're there.

Opryland Hotel
My mom stayed here for a convention and told ten-year old Denise how cool it was and I have been fixated for the last twelve years. There's a river indoors, a giant atrium, and a ton of things to do inside this beautiful hotel. Sadly, our budget does not permit us to sleep here, but we are going to do a special dinner at one of the restaurants on the property on Friday night. 

Jack's BBQ & Broadway Street
I've heard from a few people that this is THE place to go in Nashville, in fact I've been told that we'll probably end up going there multiple times. I am more than okay with this, and I absolutely cannot wait for some delicious BBQ! My attempt at healthy eating habits are going by the wayside on this trip, in case that wasn't obvious. As for going out, I've heard Broadway Street is the place to be as well. Can't wait!

I feel like a visit to Nashville isn't complete without a visit here either! Really excited for all there will be to see here, as well as to learn more about my favorite genre!

I'm thinking a trip to Belle Meade or the Hermitage if we have time, and maybe a visit to the Vanderbilt campus. Of course we're also excited to swim at the hotel pool, and I can't wait to shop! Any other suggestions and places we must see? 

Monday, March 4, 2013

arms & abs

Holy soreness!

As part of my recent attempts to get stronger and leaner, I'm trying to isolate muscle groups into separate workout days. Instead of trying to pile my upper body workouts into one day (and a lot of sore days after), I split up back and shoulders into one day, and arms and chest into another.

It was so bright and sunny today that I was especially motivated to tone my arms (and the fleshy part where my arms meet my torso that every girl seems to hate) for when the time comes to break out the sleeveless dresses! Give this workout a try next time you want to work arms and let me know what you think!

Any of these exercises can be recreated with just dumbbells if you prefer, instead of a Boku ball just do push ups on the floor; instead of a yoga ball use a bench or the floor to lay on. I do tricep pull downs on a Matrix universal structure, but you can do them with just weights and gravity as well. 

I finished up by combining the Lower Abs Trifecta and Upper Abs Trifecta from and was DYING at the end. Definitely a good one to work into my arms and chest days in the future

*I'm not a doctor or a personal trainer, so please do not try any of these exercises if you are not comfortable with them, experienced, or in the condition to do so. Be safe! :)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

apothecary jars and bathroom plans

Lately I've been pin pin pinning away lots of creative DIYs for around the house, but haven't had much time or inspiration of my own to get to creating. Yesterday morning I woke up at 7am for no apparent reason, and immediately started behaving like an over-caffeinated Martha Stewart. I've been wanting to redo my beach-themed bathroom into something slightly more subdued (right now there is actual sand on the walls and fishing net draped over the shower). I want to take a more minimalist approach, especially in terms of the clutter that is on the counter. By the time I'm finished with the redo I plan to streamline my makeup collection, install PVC pipes under the sink to store my hot tools, as well as paint the walls.

Making these apothecary-style jars was ridiculously easy, and even cheaper to do. I went to Dollar Tree and snagged three glass candlesticks from their housewares section ($3 total). They're the same height, but the different size jars give the look some variety which I really like. Check out the rest of their glasswares to see if they have lidded jars- in my case they didn't so I went to Hobby Lobby. HL had a glass sale, so I paid about $2 each for the jars and there was a lot of variety.

Head over to the model building section, and pick up E6000 bonding agent, which is pretty much an all-purpose type of glue. THIS STUFF IS STRONG! This is really important because my jars will be in a bathroom, where it gets pretty warm and steamy from the shower, and I would hate for them to start coming apart. Fix the candlestick to the bottom of the jar, and turn right side up so they can dry.

I made these in less time than it took me to walk from my car to the front door of the store, and I think they will be a nice start to staying organized in my bathroom.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

follow through: 1, denise: 0

I've always been one to have a million brilliant ideas running through my head at any given time. Sadly, the follow through and commitment to all one million ideas is slightly exhausting, and sometimes I get frustrated and give up easily. Case in point: the previous Post Greek Grad blog that I started over on WordPress. I had the best intentions and then gave up because, let's face it, WordPress was a nightmare.

Blogger seems to be waaaay more user friendly and I was able to get everything looking how I wanted tonight in less time than it took me to spend a ton of money yesterday at the mall! In the meantime while I prepare more content and photo heavy posts,  enjoy a photo of my recent crafting endeavors! A monogrammed jewelry tray, currently being sold on my Etsy page!

xoxox Denise