Five Bridesmaids Dresses They WILL Wear Again

When MJ dropped to one knee and proposed to me on September 29th, 2012, my first thought was, “YES! He is the man of my dreams! YES! YES! YES!” Mysecond thought was, “My bridesmaids will freaking like their dresses!!”Five Bridesmaids Dresses They WILL Wear Again

Well, maybe not my second thought… but it was a big priority for me. Over the years I had been a bridesmaid nine times. After my friends walked down the aisle, I donated most of the dresses, not because I didn’t love what I was wearing, but because I don’t attend galas or fancy functions often enough to justify keeping several long gowns in my closet. I wish I had a fancy life, but alas, I rock leggings more than any other item of clothing.

When the day finally came to decide on bridesmaids dresses, I didn’t want to give over total creative control to my friends, but I did decide that I would let my bridesmaids pick from four different colors (pink, coral, eggplant, blush) and six different short styles. On the big day, I loved how the dresses really complimented my entire wedding design. I also think that the dresses are totally wearable to other semi formal functions. That was the idea anyway. If they picked something they couldn’t wear again, that’s on them haha. Anyway, my designer of choice was Jenny Yoo. She is pricey but the quality is amazing and they have tons of color and fabric options. I did put towards some $$ on each dress for my bridesmaids because I wanted to offset the cost for them.  Just because you’re getting married doesn’t mean your friends need to go broke.

Wasn't my bridesman super dapper with all of the ladies?

Wasn’t my bridesman super dapper with all of the ladies?

Anyway, I wanted to show you brides-to-be that there are dresses out there that your bridesmaids will love and cherish for years to come. While your big day IS all about you, your loved ones are also there with you and if they are feeling comfy and confident, they will be way better attendants. I promise 🙂

Five Bridesmaids Dresses They WILL Wear Again

  1. Jenny Yoo –Brooklyn $250 in soft tulle comes in TWENTY colors
  2. BHLDN — Fleur dress $250 comes in 7 colors
  3. David’s Bridal— Short Tank Lace Dress with V Neckline $149 comes in 31 Colors
  4. BHLDN— Ainsley dress is on sale now for $80 – comes in 5 colors
  5. J. Crew — Louisa Shift Dress in slub silk $250 (on sale for $198) and right now comes in 4 colors

We Got a Puppy!! + New Puppy Tips

My friends know that my first “adult” pet, my yorkie named Effie, suddenly passed away in September of last year. It came out of nowhere and hit us hard. We were just starting to settle into our new home with our three dogs and BAM….we were a two dog family in the blink of an eye.

The next few months were a roller coaster of emotions. Obviously I was incredibly depressed for the first month or so. After that, I was able to talk about her without crying, but I ached for her every day. During that time I thought, “YES! I need another dog NOW!” I scoured the local shelters for a doggie that would be okay for my terrible pet dander allergies and came up fruitless. I did find one dog that I loved and could have made a part of my family in a heart beat, but he was already 10 years old and I just knew that I couldn’t handle the devastation of losing a pet again any time soon. Anyway, long story short, I decided at the end of June that I really was ready for another pup and contacted the breeder where we got our Winnie and as luck would have it, she had a new litter of goldendoodle puppies that would be ready at the end of July. We put down a deposit and FINALLY got to pick up our puppy this past weekend.

Before I go any further, MJ and I support the local Chicago no-kill shelters and if I didn’t have terrible dog allergies and another anxious dog at home already, I would adopt in a second. We looked for almost a year before throwing in the towel. The breeder we picked is responsible and we did a lot of research to determine that. If you choose to purchase instead of adopting, please make sure your breeder is a responsible one. Go see where the puppies are housed and meet the mom if you can. You have to do what is right for your family but there is no doubt about it, adopting is the more responsible thing to do. I follow and donate to TRIO Animal Foundations and PAWS. You should too 🙂

Okay, now on to the cuteness! Gus is his name and he is 8 weeks old and 10 lbs of adorable. We are thinking he will be bigger than expected. We were told that he would probably be under 40lbs but our vet thinks we are looking at a 45-50lb pup. That’s okay. I’m excited!

New Puppy Tips

New Puppy Tips

1. When we got Winnie a few years ago we introduced her to 100 people before she was 12 weeks old. They say doing this makes your dog easy going and sociable. I totally agree. Winnie is delightful, though excitable. She loves people and other than barking at dogs on the television, she is quiet and loveable. We have had Gus for 6 days now and he has already met over 30 people and 15 dogs. Yes, I am counting. Our morkie, Stewart, is very anxious and leash reactive. We have spent thousands on individual training with him just so that we will be able to take him on walks again. It’s worth every penny to see him grow and have success, however, if he had been properly socialized from the start, this likely wouldn’t have been an issue. That’s a longer story though.

New Puppy Tips

2. Spend the first couple of days pampering your doggie with love and affection. This is not a time for training. It’s a time for love. If you have other dogs in the home, try to make sure that you give them attention too, but you want your puppy to bond with you, not your other dogs. We also make sure not to criticize our older dogs for getting upset at Gus’ puppy misbehaviors (nipping at their ears, biting their tails) because that’s how puppies learn what other dogs will and won’t tolerate. It is better that he learn from our dogs in a safe and non aggressive way than learn from a random dog on the street that may teach his lesson in an aggressive way that could scar Gus for life.

New Puppy Tips

3. After pampering your dog with love for a day or two, make sure they enroll in a puppy class. I’ve had 6 dogs before Gus and I still enrolled him in a puppy class because we forget what to do because our adult dogs already know the commands we need them to know. Puppy class will help your dog meet new people, meet new dogs, and engage in socially appropriate puppy play in a supervised way. Puppy play is so important to making sure your puppy becomes a confident and happy adult dog. In puppy class you expect your dog to learn how to sit, stay, walk nicely on a leash, and lay down. In previous classes we learned some other cool tricks like “army crawl” but MJ and I cared more about our dog coming when we called their name, so the fun tricks were quickly lost. The foundation is there though 🙂

New Puppy Tips

4. Crate train your pup! Really! All of our doggies are crate trained and LOVE their crates. Well, Stewart, our anxious morkie has a love/hate thing going with his crate, but the important thing is that he goes to his crate on his own when he wants alone time. I’m not an expert, so seek the advice of Cesar Milan or something, but I will tell you that crate training has made potty training a breeze with all of our pups. With Gus, we let him play for a couple of hours and then we put him in his crate for a nap. He loves it and only cries when he really needs to go potty. The crate should only be big enough for your dog to stand up and turn around. Any more space than that and your dog may go to the restroom in their crate.

Anyone planning on getting a puppy soon??? The difference between two dogs and three dogs is zero… life is the same, however, life with a puppy is a whole different ball game. I love it though! Send me pictures of your doggies and creep on my instagram MaryS257 for tons of doggie love. xo

 

 

Party Planning 101: Set Up

I LOVE to host parties. Sure, it can be stressful at times, but I truly enjoy the set up and planning process. I take a lot of pride in the parties that I throw at my house and feel that I usually get really great feedback from my guests. Many of my guests will ask me questions about recipes I may have cooked or how I set up the food buffet to look so nice. Sometimes I find myself thinking, well, it’s easy, but as I sit and reflect, I’ve realized that I have acquired several pieces that have made the planning part easier and easier. Today I want to talk about some items that I use for almost every party I throw and why I think they make hosting a breeze.

With the exception of Go America Day, our yearly 4th of July party, I hardly ever pick a “theme” for my events. If it’s a baby shower I’m hosting, I’ll pick a color palette and do that, but you’d have to work hard to convince me to host a cowboy themed shower. The reason is that it complicates things. I prefer classic parties and find that “themes” can cheapen even the nicest event. Also, if you stick with a color palette then all of your neutral platters/bowls/appetizer plates will be just fine for whatever event you have planned. It is with this in mind that I share my first tip. When buying platters etc, be sure to pick a neutral color that works for your home. For me, it is white but I can totally see why some homes may choose black or brown items instead. Sure, I have some other bowls or platters that aren’t stark white but they are all neutral — white, silver, beige, wood. In doing this, I never have to think about if everything will look good together, it will, always!

I’ve noticed that people in my age group 25-35, really undervalue serveware. When my husband and I hosted our first event together he didn’t understand why I wanted everything to match, he just wanted to throw chip bags on the table and call it a day. After the event was over, he would not stop praising how great everything looked and how impressed everyone was.. He knows now that because I have acquired serveware that is complimentary that I have an easy time making my spreads beautiful. When you look at the food area at one of my parties, your eye isn’t distracted by different colors and patterns, you can instead focus on the food. I have spent YEARS building on my collection so by all means do not feel like you need to run out and buy all white everything, but do keep in mind your color palette when purchasing your next piece and consider donating items that don’t fit in with your vision. Have a red floral platter but everything else is yellow pineapples? Toss the red one.

Use REAL whenever possible. What do I mean? I mean use real silverware, real plates, real glasses. It just looks SO nice and people feel really special when they go to a party and don’t have to hold a solo cup. Obviously you need to know your guests…. for Go America Day I still use glass platters and bowls but plastic cups because it’s a booze fest. However, for most other events, I put out wine glasses and silverware just like I would for a dinner party. When you’re hosting an event, remember that you want your guests to feel special….hardly ever do solo cups make a girl feel like a lady.

As for decor, for most parties I don’t do anything special. I have some different colored runners and vases with faux flowers that I put out based on the seasons and then I light a ton of candles. I hosted an engagement party years ago and for it I purchased these beautiful tea light holders (see below) that I will place on my dining table and around my food spread. I love these ones because they come in different heights which is visually appealing. Someday I hope to get a variety of bud vases to create the same thing. Different heights = pleasing to the eyeballs.

With all of that said, here are some of the items that I use time and time again when I’m hosting events. My style changes so I do add things and take things out over time, but right now, these are really working for me and making my party planning so easy! The night before your party, pull out all of your “go to” items and then set up will be a breeze the next day.

Elsa Glass Tea Light Holders from Crate & Barrel

Party planning 101

 

Faux Flowers

I buy my faux flowers on jossandmain.com and actually own the ones in this photo. They look real, last a lifetime, and provide a really beautiful centerpiece for my dining table. Mine sit out year round unless I have a special fall centerpiece or something and I get compliments on it every time I host a party. Real flowers are amazing too, but they don’t last forever like these do.

Party Planning 101

Glass Appetizer Plates from Crate & Barrel

I have two sets of these (they come in sets of 12) and have used them for years! I love that I don’t have to use paper plates. These are appetizer plates so keep that in mind if you’re wanting to host a dinner with these, they are likely too small.

Party Planning 101

Nambe Yaro Salad Bowl with Servers

I did say that most of what I own is white, but I do put pops of wood grain and silver in there as well. Keeps things interesting. We got this as a wedding gift and I love it! It’s heavy duty and beautiful.

Party planning 101

 

The Cellar Whiteware 4 section Condiment Dish

I’ve seen this stuff on almost every wedding registry I’ve ever looked at, but hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! This condiment dish is big enough to hold more than just ketchup or dressing, so be bold and experiment! I like to put this guy out when I am serving DIY topping items for things like chili or tacos. We have tons of this brands stuff and love everything I’ve purchased.

Party planning 101

Travel Packing Saviors

Hi all! Woooo! It has been a BIT! Sorry. Whomp whomp!

As I mentioned in my last lil’ post, MJ and I went to Europe!!! We were gone for 8 days and in that time frame, we went to London, Munich, and Edinburgh. It was a jam packed trip but worth every minute and every cent spent. Planning this trip took over a year. We used credit card miles to book flights and hotels and then spent a lot of time researching the places we wanted to go or any tours that we wanted to go on. Since I am a pro at over packing, I also spent a lot of time researching how to NOT over pack for once in my life. Proud to say, I succeeded! My suitcase was under 50 lbs the entire trip!!! WOO HOO! Are you an avid over packer like me? Then here are some of the tips I learned while trying sooooo hard not to over pack for my travel to three cities with three different climates.

First

Okie dokie, so the first travel savior was my PurseN Diva travel case. Go to my instagram to see a photo of mine or click the link, either way, this thing is amazing! I packed ALL of my skin care, shower stuff, AND makeup in this bag and had room to spare. The case measures 12” L x 4.5” W x 9.5”H and has several waterproof containers inside to hold and organize all of your beauty needs. The containers can all be removed from the case which was a nice touch AND they were clear on the top so you could always see what was inside each one. If you’re interested, I can make a video showing you how I used mine on this trip. This bag also made it SO easy when we got to new hotels to keep myself organized. I just plopped the whole case in the bathroom and I was all set for our stay. I love the different patterns the company offers (they rotate frequently) and I love that they are waterproof. Highly highly recommend!

Travel Packing Saviors DIVA-LEOPARD_filled_grande (1) DIVA-LEOPARD-TOP-JUN13-LOWRES_1_grande

 

Second

For my birthday I asked for Spaceak packing bags. I have never seen these in stores, but came across them on the interwebs and again, I am obsessed. I have the blue spacepak for clothes and I easily fit 4 pairs of pants, 15 shirts, 2 sweaters, and 2 scarves inside it. The idea behind these guys is that they compress all of the air out of the bag when you zip it up, making it easier to fit more clothes in a smaller space. Another awesome little bonus is that the bag has two sides, one for clean clothes and one for dirty clothes. When I got back from our trip, I just pulled out all of the clothes from the dirty side, making laundry a breeze. On the website they say that you can easily pack two weeks worth of clothes in the bag and I think in general, they are right. I pre-planned my outfits (see this post), and wore sweaters and leggings/jeans more than once, but yes, I packed about two weeks worth of clothing in just one 16in X 11.25in X 4.25in bag! The compression also helps your clothes stay wrinkle free.

I own the blue clothes bag, the green shoes bag (I was able to fit 3 pairs of shoes in mine), and the orange toiletries bag (MJ used this one). I hope to someday get my hands on the lingerie bag. Of course they have super cute striped patterns now that I want but they are the exact same as the standard pak’s so I will have to talk myself out of that frivolous purchase. :::sigh:::

You can order yours on flight001.com

Travel Saviors

Third

I bought myself a cute backpack before we left and it made airport travel easy and hands free. I got a Herschel Supply Co. grey backpack from Nordstrom for less than $50 and used that every day that we were traveling via plane and also on some of our tours. I had enough room to keep an extra set of clothes, umbrella, and a little bag for my passport, money, etc. I loved being able to have use of both of my hands and didn’t feel the back pain from carrying around a heavy purse the whole trip. Totally worth it!

Travel Saviors

What do you do to make packing for long travel a breeze? Any tips for me????

Capsule Wardrobes

I’m obsessed with the weirdest thing ever.

We leave for London/Munich/Edinburgh one week from today and I’m in a packing panic….as always. In my quest to learn how to pack effectively, I have stumbled across something called “Capsule Wardrobes”. Have you heard of them? I. Am. Obsessed! Anyone who knows me, knows that I hoard clothes. I forget what I have in my closet because I’m constantly buying new stuff. It’s a horrible habit and I still always feel like I have nothing to wear. Feel me? With me? Did we just become best friends? In my minimal research on capsule wardrobes, I have learned that there are a variety of rules on how to do it, but most of the ones I have seen follow the same general principles that something called Project333. You can click that name to get to the page with the rules, but I will summarize here.

1. Every three months (spring, summer, fall, winter) you re-invent your wardrobe to include ONLY 33 pieces. On the website linked above they include shoes and accessories in that 33 pieces, but some of the bloggers I will link below made up their own rules and did not include shoes or jewelry and some did not include coats, like winter coats, but blazers and jackets were a part of the 33 items. Each of the items on your list should work well with the other items. Many bloggers will pick a neutral palette and then ONE pop of color. For example, they will chose mostly black/grey items and then blue as their pop of color. Or pink.. you get it.

2. Wedding rings, workout clothes, and underwear do not factor into the 33 items but they make it clear that workout stuff can only be worn to work out. AHHH!

3. Once you have chosen your 33 items, you box up the REST OF YOUR CLOSET and put it out of sight.

4. You may place an additional 3 items to the side in case you determine that something you picked just won’t work with the rest of your items. You can use the three items set aside only if you swap out items from your original 33 pieces.

5. Why??? It’s about using what you’ve got! It’s a minimalist approach to clothes and I’m kind of loving it. The “Project” is all about donating clothing you don’t use and shopping only for high quality pieces that you can wear for years and years. In doing so, you’ll need and consume less.

6. Budget. Many of the bloggers I have been reading don’t talk about money. One did and she said she gives herself a budget per season and ONLY shops every 3 months. She said she has saved so much money because she is no longer spending $30 here, $40 there but instead she has developed a really keen eye for what sort of items will fit into her current wardrobe. This part is something I totally need to work on. Letting go of the crap and loud patterns and instead investing in quality pieces that go with everything!

Okay, so that’s the gist of it. What I love about the whole idea is that this 33 piece thing really forces you to think about how to wear your clothing items in multiple ways. I am HORRIBLE at this. I buy a fun shirt and then I will only wear it with the same skinny jeans. I am so not creative.  I have TRIED but ugh… the struggle is real. Right after our wedding I had a stylist come over and make outfits out of what I already owned. She also helped me go through every item in my closet and decide whether it was worth it or not. I donated 12 garbage bags of clothing and STILL had a full closet. We then reorganized my whole closet based on function. It was an awesome experience. Afterwards, she took pictures of the outfits she had come up with and then emailed them to me in a little “digital closet” book. She labeled each outfit with occasions which was also super helpful. You can see some of the outfits below. Anyway, it was with this stylist experience in mind that I started researching packing for my Europe trip and thus how I stumbled upon capsule wardrobes.

Spring/Summer Going Out Outfit

Spring/Summer Going Out Outfit

Spring/Summer Wedding Shower/Brunch Outfit

Spring/Summer Wedding Shower/Brunch Outfit

Last night I dug out a bunch of stuff from my closet and started to put outfits together and snap photos of them for my vacation. In the next few days, I am going to lay out EVERY OUTFIT for my trip and take pictures of them so I can quickly reference when I’m dressing for the day. Do I think I am going to adopt this capsule wardrobe every season? Probably not, however, I think I can totally adopt this mentality when it comes to packing. What this means? Lighter suitcases and less stress!! WOO HOO! I also think this would be a great way to come up with every day outfits for a season. So maybe I will, at the start of every season, pick out the 33 items and then make up a ton of outfits, photograph them, and then use those outfits as my daily inspiration when I’m feeling like “I just can’t even….”

Interested in learning more? These blogs have been really fun to read. I am so excited to go some more digging and get inspiration to play with my clothes. I hope this makes getting dressed way more fun and less messy than it currently is for me haha.

un-fancy.com

This chick, Caroline, is taking a break from blogging right now but this does not mean you can’t look at old posts and get awesome ideas on how to style your current wardrobe. HERE is her spring capsule. If you look at her newer posts, you will be able to see how she has styled different outfits. Very fun and clean blog. She also has a wardrobe planner that you can print out to help you plan your season’s capsule.

un-fancy.com has great inspiration for capsule styling

un-fancy.com has great inspiration for capsule styling

thelovelylauralife.com

Laura creates really fun capsules that really resonate with me. I really love the pops of red in her “all seasons” capsule. You can see that here. I feel like I need everything in her wardrobe but need to take a breath to realize that this is NOT about shopping more. Okay, back to reality. She is a mom so I think many of her outfits would be perfect for my mommy friends out there.

thelovelylauralife.com

thelovelylauralife.com

into-mind.com

This blog gives a lot of great tips/tricks on how to get started with this minimalist approach to fashion. THIS post covers spring and I think it’s a great starter post for us beginners. There are tons of printables like shopping lists or worksheets to help you detox your wardrobe. Very cool site.

anneinresidence.com

This mini capsule is providing me with some great packing inspiration for our trip to Europe. I am going to be using packing cubes so I am hoping that I can be as effective in using my space as this post shows. Wish me luck!

anneinresidence.com

anneinresidence.com

PhotosbyJaana on instagram

She shows you how she has styled her capsule wardrobe. She created 55 outfits with 40 pieces for her spring wardrobe. That’s insane! As you can see below, she only wore her “coke” shirt once so there were totally more outfit options than she presented. Ever have one of those “I’m doing it wrong” moments??? I’m having one right now! Inspiration station!!! You can also creep on her blog, thismomsgonnasnap.com

thismomsgonnasnap

thismomsgonnasnap

Is this something you think you could get on board with? I am feeling so inspired! I really want to learn how to style my clothes better but I’m usually too overwhelmed with options and then too lazy to add accessories. Anyone with me on this crazy boat???

xo