off to san francisco..

Hello, my readers! I’m off on an exciting trip to San Francisco and Napa with my wonderful friends, Shannon & Kristina. Unfortunately, posting might be a little less frequent and of minimal content this week, but I hope to have some great things to share when I get back! These are two of the greatest places I’ve ever been and I’m so happy to be heading back.

Here’s a fun little rundown of the start to our adventure:

The trip started off a little shaky with a 6 am wake-up call, a ridiculous trip through airport security (which resulted in me running to my catch flight), a broken plane, and therefore a 4 hour delay. Yikes! I was anxious to get to San Francisco, but we really had nothing planned for the day, so it wasn’t a huge inconvenience.

As we were getting our seat re-assignments, it was pretty obvious that the ticketing agents were at the end of their mental capacity. The woman tried her best to seat us together and we offered her a friendly “good luck” for the rest of the day. To our surprise, a few minutes later we hear, “Passengers O’Connell & Waters to the ticketing agent”. My first thought was, “Please! No more delays!” I skeptically walked up to the agent to find that she not only got us two seats together, but they were in first class!

So, I am currently reclining in my seat, drinking a bloody mary, working on posts, and watching No Reservations with my best friend right next to me. I’m loving life and I’m happy to think that my simple little “good luck” might have restored some sanity to our amazing ticketing agent.

So readers, let that be a lesson that sometimes kind words and actions don’t go unnoticed!


the great trench debate

I'm facing a dilemma. I really like the look of tan trench coats -- they're so clean looking and put together -- but I feel like everyone and their mother is wearing them these days. It is as if there is some new unspoken rule that tan trench coats are the unofficial uniform for twenty-something-year-old women living in Chicago. My morning and afternoon commute on the El gives me flashbacks to my 13 years of Catholic schooling and the plaid-skirted clones I occupied the classrooms with.

I'm in the market for a new Spring coat, but I'm having doubts that a traditional trench coat is the way to go. Here's a look at some nice, Spring trench-like options that might set you apart from these trench coat mafia's that are taking over...
Chicago gets it's fair share of April showers, so a waterproof raincoat with a hood would be perfect! (via Cup Of Jo : Penelope)

This light grey trench offers an alternative to the tan option, but still feels very Spring-ish to me. Too bad they don't have my size! (via Mod Cloth)
Way out of my price range, but I love this soft pink color and the belt with the little pouch attached. (via ShopBop)

Another one that I can't afford, but there's no way you'd get lost in the crowd wearing this bright and beautiful trench from Anna Sui. (via Net-A-Porter)
I wish I was a 14-year-old or under girl, because this linen trench coat from Chloe is amazing. I can even get past the tan color! Kids get all the good stuff... (via Little Fashion Gallery)

If I decide to go the traditional route, I'd choose this trench from Anthropologie.

The ruffle detailing adds a little something extra! (via Anthro)

By the way, that's not an exaggeration about the "everyone and their mother" comment. Middle-aged women seem to be absolutely thrilled to be digging out their trench coats from the 70's and 80's.

(top photo from ...Love Maegan)


life lessons from anthony bourdain

I was lucky enough to see culinary badass, Anthony Bourdain, speak at the Chicago Theater this past Saturday. He's a hilariously entertaining man and I really had a great time listening to his stories. If you're not familiar with Anthony Bourdain, he's the host of the Travel Channel's No Reservations. He basically gets paid to travel around the world and dine and drink with locals. Oh, and he's well aware of the fact that he has the best job in the world.

During the show, Bourdain offered some great advice that really resonated with me, so I thought I'd be kind and share a few...
  • It's your duty as a parent to tell your children that Ronald McDonald has cooties and that eating at McDonald's will give them cooties.
  • Never get drunk with a photographer.
  • If you're given the opportunity to travel to a different country, for God's sake, be appreciative.
  • If someone opens their home to you, you better eat whatever they serve you.
  • Sometimes you're going to have to eat disgusting things. In those instances, alcohol helps a lot.
  • If you want to convert a vegetarian, your best bet is bacon. Bacon is the gateway protein.
  • Badasses don't give a shit about anything. Once you are a parent, you can no longer be a badass. You start to care a whole lot.
  • Don't dress like a tourist.
  • In Russia, you can expect 2 shots of vodka at breakfast, 5 at lunch, and 17 with dinner.
  • "After 17 shots of vodka you will vomit. It's just a matter of when and where."
  • If you're looking for the best street food, go to Singapore.
  • If you're over 30 years old, you're too old for culinary school. Sorry.
  • There's a lot of freaks out there.
  • Do yourself a favor and get lost in a foreign country. 
  • "Even if everything goes horribly wrong, it's going to be great."


obligatory earth day post

I have to (embarrassingly) admit, I'm not the most environmentally friendly person out there. I don't think I'm leaving behind a tremendously huge carbon footprint, but there are certainly things that I could do to make this world a little bit nicer.

Fortunately for the environment, acting eco-friendly also eradicates one of my biggest pet peeves -- plastic bags. As you've probably figured out by now, I'm a big shopper and I hate bringing home obnoxious plastic bags. In honor of the 40th Earth Day, I've stepped up my "green" game and purchased two of these great eco-friendly bags from Flip & Tumble.
I got the hot pink and eggplant colors for $9 each. Since when did I become so girly?
The best part? They roll up into these tiny balls, so you can throw them into your purse when you're not using them. That way, they're always with you!

Problem solved and I'm doing something great for the Earth.Win and win!

P.S. Carry-A-Bag also has some super cute options!


girl crush

I kind of want to be this chick.

She looks effortlessly put together (notice the barefeet), and it looks like she throws great parties. A disco ball and sparkly Zebra pinata -- what more could you need?

via Coco + Kelley



Lucky magazine recently featured a Spring '10 accessories report based around clear accessories. I've gotta say, Im not quite buying this trend. Something about this just screams "I'm cheap!" I mean, come on -- a clear purse? That's just ridiculous. Clear shoes? I though those were only reserved for strippers? I could maybe see the jewelry working in select situations, but I think the lucite should just be left for the home.
 via CB2
Source unknown. Can anyone help?

I really love the look of lucite furniture, and it can be a great option for smaller spaces, like my studio. Lucite furniture serves its practical purposes, but it doesn't create the bulkiness of solid furniture. Lucite coffee tables are also great if you don't want to cover up a beautiful living room rug.

I've debated getting a few lucite items for my apartment, but there's still a part of me that fears this trend might die in the near future. Decisions, decisions...


california dreaming

Coachella Music Festival kicked things off today in Palm Springs, California. I'm quite jealous that I'm not there right now. The line-up is amazing and I'd really love to see this awesome giant origami-style crane installation in person. Maybe next year...
Read more about the crane here.


perfect song for a perfect day

Chicago is 77 degrees and perfect right now. This new song, "Dance Yrself Clean" by LCD Soundsystem is so perfect for this type of weather!

The new album, This Is Happening, comes out May 18th in the U.S., but you can listen to the full album on the band's website.

i is for...


 (all items from Forever 21. Is that good or pathetic?)

 Clearly I have no problem incorporating this lovely pattern into my wardrobe, so I think it's time I made the shift into my home! Here are a couple of ikat items that I'm totally loving right now...

 I absolutely love these placemats and napkins from Anthropologie. I'm pretty sure these are going to making their way to the top of my "Must Have" list. I love the placemats, because they have these awesome topography map designs on the back.
 I'd consider decorating a room in warm colors if only so that I had an excuse to get this beautiful rug from Anthropologie. It's so bright and cheery. Maybe on a screened in patio?
Urban Outfitters (left) and West Elm (right) have these great accent chairs in fun colors. 

If ikat furniture is too big of a commitment, check out Fabricadabra for a huge selection of ikat pillows. I really love the the neutral pillow on the left, but the bright choices could be fun too!
Recently, I've been loving the idea of dark blue bedding. I never even considered dark blue ikat bedding!  Perfect.

Check out this awesome ikat roundup from Design*Sponge or search on Etsy for more great ikat items and inspiration!


a little bit of good goes a long way

"Liam is a happy, bright, charming five year old. He also happens to have a rare neuromuscular disorder called Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2.

We are currently raising money to provide Liam with a fully accessible bathroom at our house this Summer.

Please help by donating funds to Liam's Trust or by passing the word along - via email, your blog, Twitter. Every bit - small or large- will make a difference. Thank YOU"

I'll be honest, I don't usually do the best job of donating to worthy causes, but Liam is just the sweetest little boy I've ever seen. (I think the nose-picking photo won me over!) If you have the means to do so, I think it would be wonderful to help provide Liam with a more comfortable living situation. If you can donate money, please spread the word to help out this amazing little boy and his awesomely supportive family! 

Learn more here.

(Thanks to Joslyn at Simple Lovely for passing the word on to me!)

essential apps

I'm all about making my life as efficient and organized as possible. Luckily, we live in an age where technology makes pretty much anything possible. There are thousands and thousands of new apps and tools that can simplify one's daily life. If you're like me and you read tons of blogs, keep in touch with friends via chat and social networking sites, and love to share photos and music with friends and family, then you might want to check out these apps that have become essential to my daily life:


So I tend to think that I'm a lot more popular than I really am. I used to be obsessed with checking my email, Twitter and Facebook in anticipation of a million new emails and post directed towards me. Unfortunately, my hopes were often shattered and I wasted a lot of my precious time.

When I started my new job last September I was introduced to the wonderful world of Digsby. Digsby is essentially a monster buddy list that keeps track of your AIM account, G-Chat and Facebook chat all in one place. Additionally, you can also sync to your email, Twitter and Facebook accounts to get push notifications when you have new emails or activities directed towards you on social media sites. This way, instead of having to go to these individual sites to see if anyone has been in contact with you, Digsby brings the conversation directly to you. Digsby also offers easy access to live Twitter and Facebook feeds.

Digsby has really simplified my desktop space, as well as saved me the time from checking various sites so often. If you spend a lot of time chatting with friends and family online or if you find yourself becoming addicted to social media sites, this is definitely a must-have tool.

Unfortunately, Digsby isn't quite available for Macs just yet. Annoying, I know. You can sign up here to learn when it becomes available though.


Okay, if you don't know about Dropbox, then you probably won't believe what I'm about to say. Dropbox sounds way too good to be true, but it is. I promise!

With Dropbox, you download the app; set up folders with friends or family; drag and drop files (music, movie, photo, etc.) from your computer into the folder; your friends and family grab those files from the folder and save them to their computer. Easy peasy, and it works both ways; friends and family came add files for you as well. That may or may not have made much sense, but you can take the Dropbox tour for more clarification.

I'm a huge music fiend, so I've mostly used Dropbox to share new music with friends. Let me tell you, my music library has grown rapidly with this little tool. There is a limit on how much data can be saved in one folder, but it's pretty generous. Dropbox is just wonderful. I highly recommend it if you find that you're sharing a lot of files with others.


I've turned into the type of couch potato that spends any free moments browsing the web. The amount of hours that I spend each week browsing online shops and blogs is absurd and it's only gotten worse over the years. In my defense, I've learned about some really fascinating things from this obsession. My one dilemma was that I always forgot where exactly I saw these interesting things. That's where Evernote came into play.

There are many different ways to use Evernote, but with Evernote, I've been able to set up folders based around themes like fashion, decorating, cooking, etc. In these folders, I store photos and links to things around the Internet that have caught my eye. That way, when I want to write a new blog post based off of something I've seen online or send a fantastic link to a friend, I know exactly where to look.

You have to be a pretty organized person to begin with if you want to get the most out of Evernote, but this tool really has become my digital filing cabinet. Plus, I no longer need to use of space on my desktop and I can access my folder anytime with my iPhone app.


the secret life of street art

A couple of years ago I discovered the wonderfully talented and extremely mysterious street graffiti artist, Banksy. Banksy is known for his satirical graffiti on topics ranging from politics, to ethics, to culture. His work is really quite amazing and I was absolutely thrilled to learn that a new film was coming out based on the secret world of street art, with an emphasis on Banksy. Take a look at the clip below:

Exit Through the Gift Shop makes its debut in Chicago at the Century Cinema on April 23 and I'm really quite intrigued to learn about the background of this very private art form.

Below are a few of Banksy's amazing works of graffiti:

If you want to see more street art check out the amazing art from The Wooster Collective, Mark Jenkins, and My Love For You Is A Stampede Of Horses.