Halloween Favorites

Friends, friends, friends. I love holidays. Seriously. Love holidays. And today happens to be one of my favorite holidays. Adrian loves Halloween and it's really rubbed off on me in the past couple years. He loves the decorations and the candy and the costumes. I get excited about Halloween just seeing him so excited.

In past years, we've hosted Halloween parties and decorated the apartment and generally reveled in Halloween glory. This year however we were a bit late on the decorations and we completely failed to pull together a Halloween party. Instead, we'll be hosting a little Halloween movie get together, complete with Halloween goodies. I love putting together some of my holiday favorites for childhood nostalgia's sake.
This year's goodies include:
1) Kit Kat bars, for obvious reasons
2) Tootsie pops! Love the raspberry ones. Hate the brown ones. Bt-dub, did anyone ever actually get a free pop for having a wrapper with that Native American guy shooting an arrow? Me neither.
3) Halloween slap bracelets, discovered at Target!
4) I am an absolute sucker for good branding/typography. I loooooove the labels on these Bath and Body Works lotions.
5) Hand santizer, a necessity for trick-or-treaters
6) Halloween tattoos because why not?

What are your Halloween favorites? I'm dying to discover some new favorites.
Happy Halloween, friends!

Coffee and a Clean Agenda


Vacation was fantastic, friends. It was quiet and lowkey and I had time to think. I love time to think. When I was on vacation this summer, I had high hopes for this blog and my then-blossoming creativity. Sigh. I failed to factor in how absolutely taxing a full-time job is. But this little vacation has revived me and I'm ready to get back to where we were: enjoying life.

With all that said, I wanted to introduce a new series I will be starting next week and continuing through the month of November. 

I'll be sharing ideas on cultivating your home, your personal style, and your life. Be sure to check back in on Wednesdays for this series!

I also wanted to take some time this morning to say thank you so much for your feedback on last week's post on collaboration! I've got some great ideas in the works for December and January and I can't wait to work with you all! If you're interested in collaborating, please send me an email at emily{at}ohhellolove{dot}com.

If you wouldn't mind, I've come up with a super quick survey that I would loooooove for you all to complete. It's just eight questions about blog reading and what keeps you browsing when you find a new blog. I'll be using the results to create blog designs that will best serve the blogger. I appreciate you taking the time to help out with this survey! 


Finally, if this following bit of news doesn't make your Monday morning, I'm not sure anything will: Adrian is on Pinterest. And he's been trying bunches of recipes he's found on there. Tell me then, does this guy need his own blog or what? Love him.

Enjoy your Monday, friends!

Post-Comparison: Collaboration.


Hi all! I am currently on vacation and loving having the opportunity to do some long overdue work on the blog as well as catching up with all of you! While I love my job, it is wonderful to have breaks every now and then to remember that I am someone outside of work.

On Monday, I wrote about the blogger comparison plague. I wrote on wanting to move farther from comparison and towards collaboration. For awhile now, I have been thinking about swapping buttons and the whole idea of sponsorship. I started swapping ads a few months back and was pleasantly overwhelmed with the response. It has given me the opportunity to find some new blogs as well as to share some of my favorites with all of you. I accepted ad swaps as they came along and it quickly became overwhelming to keep up with each one since they each had different time frames.

All that being said, I will be letting the current ads run the remainder of their days. Beginning in December, I will have five ad swap spaces available. I am hoping to work closely with those bloggers, inviting whomever of them is interested to guest post as part of a series. That way I will be able to share with all of you some of my favorite bloggers as well as introducing some new perspectives to this blog. The goal will feature other bloggers are part of my normal content rather than just doing blogger introductions.

In addition to ad swaps, I am hoping to work with one blogger each month on a collaboration. This could mean working on a project together, an interview, a series, a topic we both blog about, or something completely different. I'm open to ideas and seeing where this all leads. My ultimate hope is to get to know all of you and to work together to create something new.

If you are interested in either an ad swap space or in a collaboration, please please e-mail me at emily{at}ohhellolove{dot}com.  I'm excited about the possibilities and I hope you all are as well!

Comparison.

{photo courtesy of the wonderfully talented Bethany of Rinse. Repeat. Quotation added by me}

This past week, my coworkers and I participated in a training focused on the gifts and talents we each offer to our workplace. At one point during the workshop, the facilitator discussed comparisons. She talked about how once we begin comparing ourselves to others, we lose. This stuck with me and a week later, I'm still mulling over this idea.

Through social media and blogging, we showcase our talents, our gifts. I hate to cook and am quite possibly the worst cook ever. Adrian says it's because I can't make decisions quickly enough. I say it's because we can't both be cooks. Regardless, unless Adrian guest posts, you will not see recipes for the best dinner ever on this here blog because it is just not where my talent lies. You will, however, find stories and photos and parties and blog designs because that is what I like to do and what I believe I have a gift in.

When I first considered offering blog designs to other bloggers, I passed through a serious bout of self-doubt. I thought "Who am I to offer designs when there are so many other designers more knowledgeable and more talented than me?" It wasn't until I did my sister's design and started receiving requests to do others that I finally began to see that people actually want my designs. And the more I've created, the more I've seen that I offer a truly unique approach. My designs are colorful, clean and classic. While I am able to adapt a bit to accommodate a particular want, people come to me because they see something in my style that they appreciate or connect with.

I think this is also why blogging has become so popular. I follow many, many blogs because each blog is so very unique. Each offers something that I just cannot find elsewhere. Because each person is an incredibly unique combination of talents, interests, passions, upbringing, culture and life circumstance.

When we try to compare ourselves to others or we try to emulate another blogger, we always lose. As an individual and as a community. Because when you offer the community a replica of someone else, we all lose out on the opportunity to know and appreciate you as you were meant to be.

And this is also why we must stop comparing ourselves to each other. There will always be someone who is more fashionable than me and someone who can paint things I've never imagined and someone who can photograph that perfect autumn walk in the woods better than me (I'm looking at you Bethany!). But if I dwell on their talents and fail to cultivate or share my own, we are all lesser for it.


I was so excited when Bethany agreed to allow me to use her photo as the basis for the quotation at the beginning of this post. I had been searching endlessly through my own photos and hadn't been able to come up with the perfect photo. On Friday I came across this photo in Bethany's instagram feed and e-mailed her right away. She said yes, quickly e-mailed me the photo and then boarded a plane and I started working on the quotation. 


I've been thinking about this for a while now and this experience and this post has confirmed that I want to move more towards collaboration. Rather than comparing myself and competing, I want to work together. You bring your talents and passions and I'll bring mine and together we can create something new that neither of us could have done as beautifully without the other.

On Wednesday, I'll share how I'll be moving forward from here. In the meantime, share with me your thoughts?

A Mainer with an Umbrella.

It's been rainy in Chicago lately. And I, for one, am loving it.

In my adult English classes, where the majority of students are from Mexico, we often explain the importance of letting their children go out in the winters and enjoy the snow. Students then stare at me for a moment in utter disbelief, until someone inevitably says, "But they'll get sick." I reassure them that generations and generations of children have played in snow and made it out alive. And I remind them that, with the proper attire, their children too will survive.

Which brings me back to the rain. For most of my life, I firmly believed that umbrellas were for wusses. I attribute this flawed thinking to my normally rational father, Paul. Paul loves him some nasty weather. He has been known to sport shorts year-round, simply pulling up his wool socks a bit higher when the temperatures nose dive. Also, please note, Paul lives in Maine. So shorts year-round is no easy feat. 

Ever the model, Paul shows off his best asset: his shapely calves.


In fact, Paul loves shorts so much that he actually had tuxedo shorts created for my sister's wedding. When it came time for his speech at the reception, he stripped off his pants, revealing his beloved shorts underneath. He then proceeded to switch from his dress shoes to his trusty old hiking boots. The man loves shorts and boots. 


So now, you see why I once equated umbrellas with wusses, right? As they say, a Mainer with an umbrella is hardly a Mainer at all. 

Well, in my time of living in Chicago and taking public transportation, I have come to realize two things:
1) Umbrellas keep you dry. And dry = happy.
2) Umbrellas are adorable. (See exhibit A, below)


Unfortunately for Paul, the "shorts no matter what" legacy ends with him. I now live by the adage, "There is no inappropriate weather, just inappropriate attire."

Though truth be told, if I had my father's calves, we might be having a very different conversation.

Enjoy the rain and have a most lovely weekend.

Blog Design: Life in a Southern Town

Hey all. I can't wait to share with you all this most recent of blog redesigns. I've been taking it easy lately with blog designing because my full-time job has been kind of wild. But when Jamie got in touch with me and tossed an idea and a color palette my way, I knew I just had to do this one. She and I are both so excited about how it turned out! She was absolutely wonderful to work with, giving me a few colors and ideas and then letting me go wherever my creative little heart desired.



This little design was so exciting for me because I am learning new things every day and it is so satisfying when the images on the screen finally match perfectly the images in my head. I am in love with the incorporation of the background (per Jamie's idea!) and the bright, clean design. 

If you've got a spare second today, jump on over to Jamie's blog and say hi. She is absolutely the sweetest!

And of course, for more information about my customly clean and colorful designs, be sure to check out my "Blog Design" page! And if you've been considering it for awhile, no time like the present. I'll be on vacation from my full-time job next week, which means I'm free to work with you! 

Happy Wednesday all!

Loving Lately: Happy Chic.

Friends, it's Monday and I don't even care because I am so excited for this post. All weekend long, I've been sharing this news with friends and Adrian and somehow they just aren't as excited as I am. So I knew I had to bring it to the blogging world so that you all could join me in my overly excited state.
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Jonathan Adler is my absolute favoritest designer ever. I love his bold use of color and pattern and this general "Happy Chic" philosophy. I love his Midcentury Modern influences and the notion that "colors can't clash". If I had endless amounts of money, I would furnish my home in only Jonathan Adler creations. If you're not totally sold on Jonathan Adler by the picture above, read his manifesto. I love it.
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This is where the exciting news comes in.

Jonathan Adler will be working with JCPenney on an affordable line to be sold in a shop in JCPenney stores, starting in Spring of 2013.

Did you see that? An affordable line.

I die.

So I've gone ahead and circled some of my favorite rugs from the current Jonathan Adler line in hopes that he'll catch this and reissue them for much, much cheaper. Realistic? Mayhaps not. But a girl can dream.
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Also, there's a good chance this may turn into a case of "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie" where I acquire a new rug and then have to buy a new couch to match my new rug and then I buy a new lamp to match my new couch to match my new rug. And then I move into a new apartment. Not that I know this from experience...
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So then, consider this my official request for JCPenney gift cards for Christmas. And New Year's. And Valentine's Day. And whatever other excuses you need to buy me gifts.

Thoughts, friends? Please tell me you're equally excited.


Driving in New England.


Today while my students were working on an assignment, I caught myself starring out the window at a tree. The leaves had all turned orange in the most perfect way and I imagined all the photos I would take when the day was over. Then, inevitably, I had to rush out of there to get to another program on time soooooo aforementioned dreamy photos never happened.

But the photo above? That one did happen. It happened this past weekend. As I mentioned last week, we went corn mazing with some friends for my pal Jenny's birthday. It was fall and it was crisp and it was wonderful. I even managed to get us to a checkpoint, sans map.

Though I am content with the dropping temperatures and the prevalence of pumpkin everything here in Chicago, I'd like to share my list of Reasons I Wish I Still Lived in Maine, Especially in the Fall:

1) Trees. As I said before, I spent a portion of my class starring out the window at a tree. Blogger truth: I was indeed intrigued by the color of leaves but I was also intrigued by it's very existence. I live in a city. This makes me miss Maine and it's over abundance of trees.

2) Long drives. Sigh. I love drives through Maine. Few drivers + fall foliage = I am determined to become a leaf peeper next time I'm in Maine in the fall. I pledge to become the very people I once despised.

3) Leaf piles raked by my parents for me to jump in! There are two problems with Chicago. One being that there aren't enough leaves for a solid enough pile to break my fall without breaking my legs/arms and two being that my parents aren't here to rake. And more blogger truth: I don't do manual labor. But I am not above paying someone to rake for me.

4) Fresh apple cider. I grew up down the street from two orchards. Two. Orchards. Two! My mom used to take us to watch our local orchardman making cider. Apparently Chicago is short on both orchards and ochardmen and cider is available at Target. #NotTheSame

So friends, what are your favorite parts of fall and where do you wish you were spending the season? And more importantly, who's making a donation to the "Send Emily to Maine at the End of October" fund?? Anyone? Bueller? Sigh.

A good night's sleep.

Friends, last week was a tough one. I think I cried more last week than I have in the past six months. I worked a fifteen hour day and then a twelve hour day. While I held it together at work, home was another story. Financial woes and a small tragedy that struck a friend left me shaken. I let my fears and doubts overrun me and by the end of the week, I was a little shell of myself.

Thankfully, a good night's sleep can cure most anything and Saturday morning greeted me with renewed resolve.

While I would like to distance myself as much as possible from the happenings of last week, I do hold a bit of gratitude. At my work, we often talk to students about the importance of resiliency. Of the ability to face life's battles and to continue moving forward, no matter what. To never give up. As I face some of my own battles, I am constantly reminded of how little resiliency I previously possessed. These tough moments are shaping me into the kind of girl I always hoped I'd be. A girl who, while knowing life's darker side, still believes in the goodness of each person and of the world as a whole. Cynicism is an easy escape and one I'm often tempted into, but I hope that when the end of my life does inevitably come that I will be remembered as one who kept on and believed, despite it all.

And so I'm putting on my brave face. And I'm choosing to believe that if I work hard enough and love more and continue moving forward that eventually, eventually something good will come my way. In the meantime, I am building my patience, my resilience, my perseverance. All traits which I have always admired but rarely possessed.  

And if for some reason that good fortune doesn't ever find me, at least I can rest in the knowledge that I never let darkness overcome me and that I became exactly who I wanted to be.


Thursday is almost as good as Friday.

Hey all! It's Thursday which is almost as good as Friday, so yay! We made it! There were points in this week that I thought it'd never end. But it is. And this weekend? Oh, this weekend is going to be good! We're heading out with friends to go apple picking and corn mazing. Then Sunday, Adrian's got the day off. I cannot wait. And of course, I'll have apple picking pictures for you next week!

I just wanted to take a quick minute to say hello and welcome to anyone hopping over here from the wonderful beauty & the feast. I'm so glad to have you come by.


I found this little gem from back in the day, but it's a fairly accurate representation of me in that it displays me and the love of my life: Dunkin'. I'm a New England girl. Up in the Northeast, Dunkin flows like water.

So while you're here, check out this post and get to know that other love of my life, Adrian. He's my husband and that's the story of how we met.

These posts are from my Summer Entertaining Series. They're filled with lots of tips and recipes for easy entertaining.

And then there's these more recent posts about love and understanding: part one and part two. They sparked some great discussion so be sure to check out the comments section.

Lastly, I do a bit of blog designing. Mostly colorful, clean and classic designs. So check out my little portfolio to see what I've been up to lately!

Have a lovely Thursday, friends! And please, leave your blog address in the comments so I can come check you out? Thanks!


Octobers.


I really want to blog. All the time, really. But life has been a bit wild lately. I worked 15 hours straight on Monday. Then I came home, had nightmares about the project I was working on and then woke up and went back to work. As you can see, this leaves little time for blogging. Or writing. Or snapping photos. Or writing comments and e-mails. Or connecting with you all. 

But it is October. So there's that. The month of picking apples and Halloween and hot cider and crunching leaves and wearing boots. 

Happy October, loves. Know that I will be back soon.
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