Tuesday, December 31, 2013

More Chicago Christmas!!

So I hope everyone enjoyed that last post.  I am so excited to get married in 2014!

The day after the proposal, I made breakfast and we hung out at home, until we met friends out for dinner.

We made phone calls to family and friends, but kept the proposal a secret from our friends whom we were visiting with that evening.

Having wine with my bff, and grabbing dinner and drinks at Piccolo Sogno made for a great evening celebrating with friends!

Celebrating with my girls!

Piccolo Sogno.  Celebrating!

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Magical Chicago Christmas!!

So the past 10 days have been a whirlwind.  Family, friends, holidays...travel..you name it!

Let us start where the journey began on December 20th!

I had a tough week at work that week, and I was so excited to go home.  My flight was delayed (par for the course), and I was just so pumped to see my baby.  I got home around 8pm, and he picked me up at O'Hare, and we headed out to our favorite Sushi restaurant.  We had our usual dinner, some wine, and just had the best conversation. 

As we walked in the door, I noticed that the house smelled amazing.  Way better than usual.  That is when I noticed this waiting for me in the kitchen!

That is right ladies.  Roses.  Not just a dozen, but 100.  The smell is intoxicating.  There was also a beautiful love letter on the table.

As I was trying to take all of this in, I was summoned into the Living Room by my guy.

He told me to take a look at his Christmas tree.

I looked at his tree, and said, "nice".  I cleary did NOT see what he wanted me to see, as I had just taken off my glasses.  I went back in the kitchen, put my glasses on, and looked again. 

I may or may not have pointed, and screamed, and the engagement ring sitting on the branch at the top!  I was stunned, and crying tears of joy as my boyfriend put the ring on my hand, and asked me to marry him. 

Perfect proposal.  Just us.  In our house, with our pup (only 1 of em, the other stayed in FL), in our city.

I couldn't be happier.  Stay tuned for more posts from my trip!!

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Well folks, I am back from the Windy City, and it was a whirl wind of a vacation!

I have many posts to put up, but I have to unpack, organize, and relax first. 

Stay tuned for some great stories and pictures!

Holiday Work Party!

I had my holiday work party this past Friday, and it was a great time!  I wore this dress from Rent the Runway.  Due to wearing uniforms 5-7 days of the week, I don't have a great need to buy a lot of dresses.  So..I rent instead!

We had our party at the Omni hotel, and the food was great.  It was a nice time mingling with Sailors and their families, dancing the night away!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Holidays & Stress

I know that this time of year can be stressful.  I worked over 95 hours this week!  Sad Face. 

Trying to keep up with the holidays, the committments, etc, can be stressful.  Here are a few tips on how to not "over do it". 

1. Do not over extend yourself.  Do not offer to buy gifts for those you simply cannot buy for.  I buy for my bf, his parents, and my nieces and nephews.  Plus, we cap the gift amount.  That way there aren't crazy expectations.  I also bought a gift for my bff.  She just had a baby boy, and I had to get a gift for her.  Babies.  Drive me nuts:)  In a good way!

2.  Refer to Number 1.  Do not sign up for more than you can do.  Whether it is the 5th cookie exchange, or the 10th holiday party, you must limit yourself as well.  I have 1 holiday party for work, and then I am getting together with friends in Chicago.  Family on Christmas day.  That is it.  And I am ok with it.  3 events.  Simple.

3.  Make lists, and check them twice.  Like Santa.  Seriously.  I have an ongoing list of gifts, so I make sure that when I mail them all off next week, I didn't forget one that I was "hiding", etc. 

4.  Don't get that last minute "holy crap I had to buy it bc it was on sale" item.  I live "in" a mall. I seriously see the prices, and I know a good deal from a crappy one.  Thank goodness.  Because I was severely disappointed in Black Friday shopping.  First time, and last time I do that.  Nothing was really "I have to buy it now!" 

5.  Keep a schedule.  Plan to ship out gifts, mail out cards, bake those cookies, etc. 

6.  Plan out your outfits.  I did 30 for 30.  Again.  I did not buy a dress for our holiday party,  but rented one from Rent the Runway again.  I hope I love it as much as the last dress! 

7.  Keep calm, and go to the spa.  For reals.

8.  Enjoy yourself, and remember the reason for the season.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Dinner Party How To

I love hosting guests for any occasion/meal.  I usually host brunch or dinner for anywhere from one other person to a crowd of 20.  Here are a few tips that I try to stick to, to make sure that I have repeat customers!

-Know your guests.  Know their allergies, loves, likes, etc.  I have a few friends with allergies, so I cater meals to their health concerns.  Making pasta for someone who has a gluten allergy can make the evening a nightmare, so I try to get gluten free ingredients, or just make a meal with protein! 
-Invite your guests early so you can get RSVPS, shop, etc.  I try to stick to Saturday/Sunday, as weekdays can be busy with work.  Plus if there are kids/babysitters in the mix, folks need to plan ahead.  Invite via phone, email, or written invite in the mail.
-Creating the menu.  I always stick to a theme.  For a Sunday evening meal, I might make a pot roast, and for a Sunday brunch, I may have an array of items to choose from buffet style.  Either way, I inform my guests of what I am making.  This way if they want to bring a dish or a dessert, they know what to pick up! 
-The day before the party, get the house ready for your guests. Clean, clean, clean.  Ensure all flatware is ready to go for your event!
-Prepare as much of the meal as possible in the morning. In between food preparation, you can focus on decorating the house, setting out flowers and making sure the dining area is clean and ready.  Set a tablescape.  Don't light candles, as the smell may mix with the food.  Light them after the food is done and people are done eating.  This way, your food smell will be the highlight!
-Start setting out appetizers and drinks just before guests begin to arrive. Turn on music to create background noise during the mingling portion of your party!
-Dessert.  I always have dessert that goes with the meal, whether it is a healthy option, or just plain indulgent.

Some recent meals I have made:

Sunday Dinner
Friday Dinner
  • Baked Ziti
  • Salad
  • French Bead/EVOO/Spices (I use Delalo Spices for dipping)
  • Gelato
Sunday Brunch

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Holiday Cheer

I was fortunate enough to have the weekend off from a busy time at work.  I got home Wednesday, and just relaxed at home with my pup.

Thursday, I spent my Thanksgiving with Bella, as most of my friends are out at sea.  Not what I had in mind, but due to my work, I just couldn't get back to Chicago.  Just makes me realize how grateful I am for my family, friends, etc. 

Friday, I got my nails done, and some shopping accomplished.  I am not a "black Friday" shopper by any means.  We don't give gifts in my family, unless they are for the kiddos.  I have finished shopping for the littles, and I am very happy.  I love my nieces and nephews more than anything.  Spoiling them twice a year is my favorite thing to do! 

Saturday, I got Bella  a spa day, and my friends came over for dinner/sleep over.  My dear friend just got back from deployment, so I figured a home cooked meal and catch up time was just what we needed.  It is amazing that despite the fact that we haven't seen each other since May 2012, we caught up without skipping a beat. 

Sunday, we went out for Brunch, and it was amazing!  We went to Mimi's Café, and it was so great.  I can't wait to take Mike to get some delicious food next time he is in town.  After brunch, I went to see "White Christmas" with another dear friend.  I had never seen the movie, but it got me in the Christmas mood.  I really want to see it again, and soon!

Tablescape.  Love my new holiday décor.  I don't have much, but it is a start!

Friday, November 29, 2013

I heart Weekends!

I had the weekend off, and Friday I spent the day at the spa after work.

Saturday was amazing.  I cleaned the house, did laundry from the week at sea, and then got a haircut.  I have needed one for a while, and I was glad I went.  I did it, I donated my hair again.  I got 12 inches cut off, and I think it looks great!  After the hair cut, I wandered around the mall, and then watched a free concert.  Who knew Macklemore and Ryan Lewis were performing in the parking lot outside my balcony?!?  Awesome.  I hung out with my neighbors and Bella, and we enjoyed the 45 minute set. After the concert, I took Bella to a day at the Dog Park put on by Chase Bank, Petco, and my apartment building.  She played with the pups and got tuckered out!  I then relaxed at home, made some great dinner, and read some magazines.

Sunday, I watched the Breakfast Club, got ready for the week, and then got a visit from one of my BFFs from Chicago!  We walked around the neighborhood, and had dinner at Seasons 52, where it was nice to catch up!

I truly miss Chicago, and am trying to embrace Jax as much as possible. 


Bella listening to the music!

Meghan and Megan

Me! New haircut.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Spa Day!

Friday I returned from some time at sea, and I was just plain sore and tired.  My first stop was to the spa.  Normally, I would have gone home, gone grocery shopping, etc..but I just couldn't.

I stopped at Natural Body Spa in Jax.  It was such a great experience.  I have gone here a few times for different services, but on Friday, I did the whole shebang.  I got a facial, and a deep tissue massage, and it was worth every penny.  I used Naturopathica pumpkin purifying enzyme peel.  It was amazing. 

If you have a rough week, and need some pampering and are in the Jax area, stop here.  I can't wait to go back!!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


So I have bought many things on Etsy lately, as I am absolutely terrible at decorating.  Well..I have actually gotten much better at this decorating thing. 

Especially for the holidays. 

Here are three items I have bought recently.

Give Thanks Blocks

Autumn Pillow

South Side Irish Pillow

What have you bought on etsy lately?

I can't wait to purchase some Christmas gifts for my family on here soon!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Conscious Box

I bought a Groupon recently for Conscious Box.  I have loved receiving these boxes once a month, and the goodies that are inside.  I try the trial samples, and then make a list of what I like, and what I don't like.  I can buy most of the items at Whole Foods or other health food stores, as most of the items are organic, etc.

Some of my favorite items are:
Life Tree Dish Soap
Good Boy Organics snacks.  They are gluten free, and delicious!
Crum Creek healthy foods
Applied Nutrition Liquid Collagen  I tried the strawberry and kiwi...so good!
KPax energy.  I have never taken anything for energy that has worked as well as these supplements!

I will continue to update this post as I try more amazing samples!

What are some of your favorite healthy/organic items?

Friday, November 15, 2013


Has been busy.  After such a wonderful weekend at home, it was tough trying to "catch" up.  Just get stuff done.  At home, at work, etc. 

Work has been busy, but fulfilling.  It is weird to say that, because many people can't.  It was a good week.  A week that I need to remember when other weeks get me down.  I have received many compliments this week.  Probably some that I didn't deserve...but it isn't often in this line of work when you get good feedback.

On the weeks when the "man" gets me down, I just read this excerpt from Theodore Roosevelt my former CO sent me after a tough time on deployment. 

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Butternut Squash Ravioli

I picked up some Butternut Squash Ravioli at Target the other day.  Best random purchase ever. 

I made the recipe on the box, and was full...of fall deliciousness.  If you want a ten minute dinner..this is for you!

Yes.  10 minutes.  Did you get that part?  I can't wait to buy some more!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Weekend in the Windy City

I was able to spend this weekend with family and friends in the Windy City.  I was able to relax with my boyfriend, and just see some of my favorite places and people.

We had lunch in the neighborhood, dinner with my middle brother (who may or may not have won a huge race this weekend), made breakfast for my guy...had date night at our usual steak place, drinks up north with friends..fish fry with the next door neighbors for the Bears game...

I haven't had a good, relaxing weekend like this in a long time.  I wish I had seen more people, but next time my dears!

Gold Sperry Loafers.  Love

Half a slice of pumpkin pie @ Wildfire

Celtic Crown

Bear Down

Free Popcorn bc I am a vet.  Awesome treat at O'Hare!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Holiday Shopping: Buy American

I have started a tradition that I try to stick to each holiday season, and that is buying only American Made products.  Sometimes it seems tough, but I have succeeded at finding some real treasures.

You can see my previous posts on the subject here and here.

Some items and sites I am looking at this year are:
Forged - website owned and operated by Navy Seals.  Amazing quality, and great patriotic wear!
Bronners - holiday gifts and décor.
Smithsonian Store - I bought some games from here for my family a few years ago!
Etsy - I have bought an incredible amount of décor and gifts from here the past year. 

Some from previous years are:
Alex and Ani - I love their bracelets.  Love.
Resails - Just bought a bag in Annapolis.  It is my go-to work bag.  It is perfect.

I just found this site, and I feel I will get lost on it for hours this season, searching for the perfect gift. 

Last year I bought my boyfriend a great shaving kit.  Every guy I know that has it swears by it!!

Do you have any favorite "Made in the USA" companies or sites? 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

This week...

I am trying to take one day at a time. I just need a glass of wine, a cozy blanket, and my pup.  It will be a busy week, and  I need to start with my recipes again.  Soon..I promise.  These work days have left little to the imagination in terms of cooking.  But with fall in full swing (70 degrees in Florida!), I have plenty of inspiration around me.

I can't wait for the holidays.  A chance to break from work.  See family and friends.  Enjoy the little things.  Laugh a little. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013


Ever just have those couple of weeks where literally everything seemed just "blah"?  These past few weeks have worn on me.  From work to my own health, I am just "blah".  I need good news.  A pick me up.  Something.  Because I really don't want this week to be a downer too.

Here is to hope.  New beginnings.  Love. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

Rent the Runway

Since I was gearing up to go to the wedding in Annapolis, I decided to "Rent the Runway" instead of buying a new dress.  I have so many dresses from J Crew and Banana Republic that just sit in my closet after one wear.  Some of you may ask "why?!?"  Well, being in the Navy, I don't have a lot of use for daily dress wear, but I do wear them for date night, ladies night out, and weddings. 

My good friend used www.renttherunway.com many times, and had nothing but wonderful things to say about it. 

I did it, and was nothing but impressed!  I received the box from UPS, and opened it with my SIL.  I had three dresses in a garment bag, and a box with the jewelry I rented.  It all looked amazing.  I rented the primary dress in a size 10 and size 12.  Then, I ordered another dress, just in case those two didn't work out.  I also ordered a necklace to make the outfit whole. 

I loved the way it all turned out.  The size 10 was perfect, and the necklace really went well with the dress.  If I had bought the dress and the necklace, I would have spent over $720 for something I would never wear again.  Instead, I spent $100, and no dry cleaning bill!  Oh yeah, did I forget that?  You send the dresses, other items, etc back in a UPS bag, and they do all the dirty work. 

Let's just say, I can't wait to rent the runway again!  Let me know if any of you ladies need an invite or recommendations!

Oscar Wild dinner dress with the Crystal Cluster necklace.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Trip to Annapolis...day 2!

After day 1's festivities, we were exhausted.  From travelling, walking, hanging out..so we just hung out in our room at our hotel until the wedding.  Latham and Adam had their ceremony in the chapel at the United States Naval Academy, and the reception at the Marriott.  It was such a fairytale wedding, and I was so happy to be there for their day! 

It was a bit of a reunion for our six degrees of separation Navy crew, and we had a blast!

Mike and I. 
Love this dress and necklace...stay tuned for the story behind the outfit!

Traditional Sword Arch


Mike and I on the patio at the Marriott

How did we get so many powerful women in one room?!? 4 Navy Lawyers, 1 SWO, 1 USO director, and 1 Pilates Studio owner!


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Trip to Annapolis....day 1

So after my quick trip to VA to visit family, I picked up my boyfriend at the airport, so we could spend the weekend in Annapolis, Maryland.  He had never been there before, and I have been about a dozen times for various occasions.  Football games, parties..you name it. 

When we arrived, we went on a tour of the Academy with a friend of ours, Adam..as we were in town for his wedding!  Mike loved the tour!  After the tour we ate lunch at Armadillos.  Yum!  I may or may not have assisted the economy with a serious shopping spree at Re-Sails, Lou Lou, Black Dog, and the Pink Crab.  

After my shopping binge, we had "date night" at O'Briens.  I love their food.  We had oysters Rockefeller, some crab cakes, and white wine.  We then met up with friends at the Federal House, for pre-wedding festivities.  After that, some more cocktails before bed...

Meeting up with my Navy gals was the highlight of the day.  I miss my girls! 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Weekend Travels

Well folks.  I went and travelled a LOT this weekend.  It will probably take a few posts, as I saw a lot of people, ate a great amount of food, and celebrated big events!

First off, I went to Leesburg, VA to visit family.  I had the best time!  We went to a place called Clyde's Farm for lunch.   It was amazing!  I don't remember the last time I had some amazing comfort food like the meal I had.  I had a pumpkin dip for a starter.  It was in a little pumpkin, with ginger snaps, apple slices, and walnuts.  Best idea ever!  I also had a fried green tomato sandwich for lunch.  Yum!  We walked around a Civil War battlefield, and grilled steaks that day as well.  I was literally only there for 24 hours, so it was a whirlwind visit.  But worth every minute to see my "mini mes", as we call my niece and nephew. 

Pumpkin Dip.  Such a cute idea!

Creepy Halloween Décor!
Gorgeous Flowers in the guest room.  I may or may not be in love with buying these vases at www.personalcreations.com!
Civil War Battlefield
Gorgeous Leaves!

I heart Fall!


Sunday, October 20, 2013


I don't normally shop at this store, but I have found that some of their recent clothes are just amazing!

I bought this shirt, and absolutely love it!  I bought the copper color, as I often wear blue or black.  Had to branch out in the color spectrum!

I also bought this cardigan.  I am in love.  I have a black one from Jcrew, and I am glad I just branched out.  I bought this one in burgundy.  The material alone makes this purchase worth it. 

I don't normally blog about fashion, either...but I had to blog about these two finds.  I need to branch out in my wardrobe.  Too bad cammies all day every day kind of puts a stop to that!

Pics of me wearing my new finds to come!!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Everyday Photography

I recently took a photography class online.  I loved it.  It made me look at the everyday just a little differently.  Appreciate it, and learn how to use my camera to capture it. 

Here are some recent pics I have taken!

1st week of class.  Atlantic Beach.

New Cork Holder.

Cool pup.

Hmm.  Reflection.

Salted Caramel Candle.  Dog comfy on the couch.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Apple Cinnamon Monkey Bread

I made some monkey bread for brunch recently.  I love apples, and I love cinnamon.  Oh yeah, and Fall.  So, yes, this recipe seemed just perfect! 

I made some changes to this one, and it turned out great!

  • Non stick cooking spray
  • 10 refrigerated reduced fat biscuits
  • 4 tsp ground flaxseeds
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1-2 thinly sliced apples
  • 3 tablespoons of chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons of packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of OJ
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a bread pan with cooking spray and set aside.  Cut biscuits in half and set aside.  Combine flaxseeds, 1 tsp of sugar, and cinnamon.  Coat biscuits in this mixture.  Layer the biscuits in the bread pan, and top with apple slices.  Repeat this process until you have used all of your biscuits!  Sprinkle remaining flaxseed/cinnamon/sugar mixture and walnuts on the layered biscuits. 

Heat brown sugar, OJ and butter in a saucepan on the stove until the mixture boils.  Pour mixture over biscuits. 

Bake 25-35 minutes, and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013


I hosted some friends over for Brunch this past Monday.  It was amazing.  I don't know what it is, but having people over for a home cooked meal, coffee, mimosas, and bloody Mary's just makes me happy!

Here is the menu:
Breakfast Casserole
Blueberry muffins
Apple Monkey Bread (used a similar recipe, to be recapped later!)
Fresh Fruit
Mimosas (I prefer Chandon champagne)
Bloody Mary's (I prefer Mrs. T's mix)
Coffee (assortment of Keurig coffees)

Some pics of the day..

I love using King Arthur Flour mixes.  They are incredible.

I think the photography class finally paid off. 

The kid at the grocery store asked me if I was going to cook with the wheat.  Nope.  It is sitting pretty on my buffet table!

I love coffee.  All kinds of coffee.

Had to buy the vodka.  Just looked cool. 


Monkey bread.  Recipe to come!