Palm Springs Vacation

Hello, friends! For a long time, I thought about posting on this blog and then I thought about how if I didn't have a few weeks' worth of content, then I ought not to start back up. And then I went on a vacation and wanted to share the photos and I thought, why, isn't that why I started a blog in the first place?

So here I am! I'm sharing here. Maybe frequently. Maybe infrequently. I'm not sure but I miss this space and I want to start filling it, however fast or slow that may be.

On to the vacation. 

Adrian and I have been together for over seven years now. Seven years! And a couple weeks ago, we finally went on our first real vacation together. As in a vacation that doesn't involve returning to one of our hometowns but does involve exploring some new place. Together! It was exciting and surreal and wonderful and now we have a major case of the travel bug. 

Sigh. I loved this trip. Loved it. We decided on Palm Springs because I have been moderately obsessed for quite a while now. I love midcentury modern architecture and the pull of the Palm Springs lifestyle is strong. Poolside lounging. Neighborhood exploring. Vintage shopping. Yes, yes, and yes. 

One of my favorite parts of vacationing is planning. It absolutely thrills me to research for hours on end, finding restaurants and shops and all the spots to explore. So about two minutes after booking our flights, I started my Palm Springs vacation board on Pinterest. (Check it out here!). It was super exciting to see in real life so many of the places I had pinned!

Before I get too much into the trip details, I want to share the hotel we stayed in the first night. 

Hello, Avalon Hotel.

I never do sponsored content on this blog so please know that everything I say about this hotel is my honest opinion.

I loved this hotel. From the bright yellow chairs to the fabulous cabanas to the best brunch on our balcony. The property is lovely, with three pools (two of which are adults-only!). Each time we swam, we had the whole pool to ourselves. And bonus, the pools are open 24-hours. 

The room we stayed in, a pool view king studio, was decently sized and had a balcony overlooking the main pool. The room was decorated in black, white, and yellow. I loved the bold, graphic design. I will say, though, the one downside to this hotel was the bathroom in the room. It was in desperate need of updating. Aside from that, the room was quite comfortable.

Can we talk about brunch? We ordered room service and ate our brunch on the balcony and it was perfect. I love iced coffee, but I especially love iced coffee overlooking a fabulous pool.

We spent some time exploring the grounds a bit. On Saturday morning, the grounds crew was setting up for a wedding. Sigh. Oh how I would love to renew my vows there. One day, maybe.

Needless to say, I adored this hotel. Quiet, calm, great food, and fabulous pools. It was the perfect place to relax and recharge in between outings and explorations of Palm Springs.

Keep an eye out for part two of my vacation recap, including photos of amazing homes in Palm Springs!

A Parks & Recreation Inspired Galentine's Day Brunch

Earlier this month, I posted the invitations for a Galentines Day Brunch and I am finally back to share photos from the actual brunch! I absolutely love how this party came together, but more than that, it was such a good chance to get my girlfriends together and celebrate them. Making friends as adults can be difficult and I am so fortunate to have found wonderfully supportive, intelligent, and hilarious friends here in Chicago. Okay, enough feels. On to the party!

I decided on a black, white, pink, gold and emerald green color scheme. I love the bold look of the stripes and I always love bright colors. I had just bought these fabulous gold polka dot plates (on clearance at Marshall's!) and I was dying to put them to good use. I found the pink tablecloth and the black napkins at Smarty Had A Party. Both the green ribbon and the black and white stripe ribbon came from Michael's.

So the main inspiration for this was, of course, Parks and Recreation. We absolutely love the show! Amy Poehler is hilarious and brilliant and I just love how how Leslie Knope appreciates and celebrates her friends. So I wanted to incorporate Leslie's love of brunch, crafting gifts, and her famous compliments.

Each seat had a balloon tied to it. We wrote one of Leslie's compliments on the balloon with a chalk marker. (Tip: you may have to write it once, let it dry and then go over it a second time.)

Each guest received a small box containing a DIY sharpie mug with one of Leslie's compliments. I found the instructions for the mugs here. (Fun find: Find out which Leslie Knope compliment you are.) Each guest opened their box while we sat around the table. It was hilarious reading each one out loud.

 Once again, Whole Foods came through with some fabulous flowers. The man working in the flower department was super helpful and together we came up with putting these hydrangeas with tulips. I love picking up flowers from there.

I picked up these fabulous plates a while back on clearance at Marshall's.  I had to go to a bunch of different stores to find enough but I have no regrets. They are adorable and I love them.

We also put together a photo booth. One of our friends will be moving at the end of May and I thought this would be a great chance to get some photos of all of us before she moves. (We'll miss you, Al!) So two of my girlfriends and I spent an evening making these tissue paper flowers for the photobooth backdrop. I found the tutorial here.

For the photobooth, I asked everyone to come in a black or white shirt. As they walked into the brunch, we invited each guest to choose a flower headband. When I first thought of these, I wasn't entirely sure how they'd come out, but between myself and two of my girlfriends, we made nine amazing headbands. We've also decided life would be better if we wore these daily.

Sometime soon I will write up a whole post just on the faux flower headbands because they were seriously fabulous.

Such a fun day celebrating some of my favorite ladies! Thanks so much to each of you for being awesome!

Parks and Recreation Inspired Galentine's Day Brunch Invitation

Parks and Recreation Inspired Galentine's Day Brunch Invitation- Black, White, Gold, Pink Modern

I am so excited for this party. So. So. Excited. So excited, in fact, that I am posting this invitation well before the actual party.

Two of my friends asked a few weeks ago if I'd want to help them plan a Galentine's Day brunch. If you haven't heard of Galentine's Day, click on over to this clip from Parks & Recreation. Then you might as well watch the whole episode (Season 2, Episode 16).

For the invitation, I wanted to make it bold, bright and modern with touches of Leslie Knope throughout. One of my favorite things about Parks and Recreation is how committed Leslie is to her friends and how she encourages them. Sometimes her compliments sound a bit odd, but they are always heartfelt. So we used a few of our favorites:
"You beautiful, rule-breaking moth!"
"You poetic and noble landmermaid!"
and "You beautiful tropical fish!" 
From there, we added the important information (I've erased the location from the photographed invite above) and made some final decisions on the design. Once the invites were set, I got started on the envelopes. I sent them through my printer and printed each invitee's name and address. The liners were cut on my cricut but they were created using some wrapping paper I had left over from Christmas, which you may remember from this post. I glued in the liners after I printed the addresses so that the envelopes wouldn't be too thick to pass through the printer.

We are currently in pre-Galentine's Day planning mode. In the spirit of Leslie Knope, we've done some crafting and gift-making. We've also discovered the soundtrack to our brunch, the "Celebrating Ladies with Leslie Knope" station on Songza. 

I feel so lucky to have made some true friends here in Chicago and I am super excited to celebrate them. I will post more details of the brunch in a few weeks!

Maine Photography: Baby Petra (revisited)

A few weeks back while I was home over Christmas break, I got a chance to catch up with Baby Petra and her wonderful parents. I had first met her over the summer just weeks after she was born. I loved seeing her again and marveling at how much she had grown and changed in the short months between our visits!

While I don't intend to make photography anything more than a hobby, I absolutely love being able to gift people these photos to remind them of this time in their lives. I love looking back through photos and remembering how life was then and I love to be able to provide that for others.  I wrote about this idea a few posts back so I won't bother to rewrite it, but suffice it to say, I do love photos.

This family is adorable. They are so laid back and just enjoy each other so much. Honestly, that photo of them in front of the tree may be the most perfect family Christmas photo ever. Baby Petra's smile in that photo just kills me. She is the sweetest little lady.

Thank you so much to Emily for inviting me to come take photos of her beautiful family!

Special and loved and worthy of a bow.

I love giving gifts. I love spending time thinking and researching and listening and making little notes about what I might give you. All through the year, I'm making these mental notes. When I hear you say, "I need a kitchen scale," I file it away and then I go research. And on Christmas morning, I love to see your face as you open that gift that I knew you wanted. 

I like to make people feel special. I'm not always the best at telling people how much I value them so I do it by finding them something that makes them feel good or that shows them that I know them well and that I'm paying attention. 

Because I fly home for Christmas, I almost always end up wrapping my gifts on Christmas eve. Checked bags cannot contain wrapped gifts so I wrap them upon arrival. This year, I went home a few days earlier. I decided the outsides of my gifts would be just as lovely as the contents. So I learned to tie a bow and bought some decent wrapping paper.

Adrian was a nay-sayer. He thought it wouldn't be worth it because who cares about the outside. "It will be worth," I said. "Here, watch this youtube video and help me figure out how to tie a decent bow." Adrian says I can be a bit bossy at times, but he almost always goes along with my ideas.

Oh, but it was so worth it. My grandmother was impressed. My sister complained about how much tape I used, but I know secretly she loved the bow. She even tied a few bows on the gifts she bought.

From here on out, I vow to (almost) always wrap my gifts with bows because I want you to feel special and loved and worthy of a bow because you are.

2015 Free Printable Bachelor Bracket

Hi all! I've been gone for a while but you had to know I'd be back with a printable bachelor bracket!

So let's jump right into this. Here is your free printable bachelor bracket for January 2015 with Chris Soules! The producers are obviously trying to make this difficult for me, so I should warn you that flexibility might be key this season. There's a good chance that the numbers for each column could be off. Buuuuuut, I don't want to google it and spoil the season for myself since I like to play along. So we're just gonna roll with it.

I've filled in the first column for you since my friends and I like to fill out our bracket before the second episode. It's just too hard to make your picks before you've even seen the contestants on the show.

You can download your printable Bachelor bracket here!

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