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.