designer, gifts, holiday

Gift Guide: For the Fashionista in Your Life

November 24, 2015

If you have a fashionista you need to buy for this holiday season, or perhaps a couple, or maybe even someone you would like to become a little more fashionista-ish, this is the moment! Shopbop is having another mega sale. And let me tell you, as someone who has shopped this site for 5+ years, this does not happen very often.

The sale, which started today at 7am runs only a few short days. You need to get all your ordering done by 11:59pm on November 30th. Yes, this runs through Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but let me humbly suggest you jump on this bandwagon early, because a lot of the awesome (especially sale items) will be gone after the first day or two.

Use the code GOBIG15 to get 15% off your order of $250+, 20% off orders of $500+, and 25% off orders of $1000. (Check out the full details and any exceptions to the sale here.)  The more you buy the more you save. And with the AMAZING return policy you might as well take advantage of the sale to purchase and then return what doesn’t work.

Pretty much anything sold on the site would score you mega points with the fashionista in your life, but here are some of my  picks this time around….

Bag It Up.

You can’t go wrong with a designer purse. I don’t know any women who would turn her nose up at a gorgeous bag, or two, or three. Fall-style colors are in at the moment, so consider a purse in merlot or hunter green color. The size ranges from small little over-the-shoulder numbers that fit the essentials, and big over-sized totes that allow a fashionista to carry anything and everything they might need for the day, or week, really.

Wrapped and Ready.
Why not wrap a wrap, or scarf, for that matter? With the cold weather upon us and the days just getting darker and colder, it’s the perfect time to think about gifting a chic layer. The blanket-style scarves are everywhere, especially if they have plaid on at least one side. (That’s my current obsession now.) Plus scarves with fringe are all over too. Not sure about the coloring? No worries. Go with a basic color – black, white, gray, navy, cream. She’s bound to have something (aka a number of things) that can be paired with a basic.

Chic and Techy.

Any fashionista is bound to have, or want, a cute iPhone case, a decorative computer bag, a trendy phone charger, and all sorts of other technology pieces that are also chic and fashion-forward. Take a look at what she already has and purchase according to the colors and items she seems to gravitate towards.

Discounted Designer.

One of the things that I LOVE about ShopBop is that you can browse through the sale and super sale of high-end designer items. This means that your favorite fashionista can be gifted some seriously amazing designer items, but at a discount for your wallet. Win-win! Hurry, the designer items on sale go fast. And by fast I literally mean they fly off the imaginary online shopping shelf.

gifts, holiday, home, product review

Gift Guide: For the Bartender Wannabe

November 24, 2015


Over the years I’ve tried a number of subscription boxes but none of them have been as cool as Shaker & Spoon! This monthly subscription gives you nearly everything you’ll need to make bar-worthy cocktails from the comfort and ease of your kitchen. This is the perfect gift for the bartender wannabe, craft cocktail enthusiast, or really anyone who likes their alcohol with a little flare.



Each box includes all the additions you’ll need, think bitters, syrups, lemons, limes, grapefruit peels, mint, etc… The box also includes perfectly clear instructions on how to make each of that month’s three-featured drinks, as well as a glossary of terms in case muddled has you, well, muddled. The box contains enough ingredients to make four of each drink, giving you 12 cocktails per box, and more importantly the knowledge and know-how to make more in the future.


What do you need beyond the contents of the box? 

  • The alcohol of the month. This time around it was amber run that all three drinks used.
  • Ice. Obviously that doesn’t come stowed away in the box.
  • Glasses. Break out your collection, because each drink is meant to be served in a different kind of glass. Don’t have the kind of glass the recipe calls for? No worries. Make due with what you have.
  • Various bar equipment. For instance: A shaker, a measured shot glass to get the ounces correct, a muddler, strainer, etc…

When the box arrives in the mail be sure to refrigerate immediately since there are perishable items (think limes) in there. The arrival of the box gives you the perfect excuse to have some friends over and play bartender for the night.


So what did this month’s box contain? 

  • The Rum Buck, which is made with hibiscus syrup, lime juice, ginger beer, and fresh kaffir lime leaves. This one was a girly favorite, especially given the pink color.
  • The Rum Smash, which consists of Angostura bitters, lemon, and cinnamon syrup. I added a cinnamon stick as a garnish and have to admit this was my favorite of the three.
  • The Rum Old Fashioned, which is a strong drink made of Angostura bitters, orange bitters, and our black pepper–ginger syrup.
The Rum Buck

The Rum Buck


The Rum Smash

The Rum Smash


The Rum Old Fashioned

The Rum Old Fashioned

A little preview of what’s to come… 

  • January – Winter Bourbon Box, which will include a Inca Berry Sour.
  • February – Pink Gin box, which will help kick off the month of love with the Juliet & Romeo.
  • March – Tequila Box, which includes the Old Oaxaca.

Sidenote for my Chicagoans… All of this month’s recipes were curated and created by Chicago local Michael McAvena, who is currently the beverage director at Pub Royale.


Want to order a Shaker & Spoon alcohol subscription box of your own? Have the friend this would be perfect for? You’re in luck. Use the code MODLYCHIC15 to get 15% off your purchase. Not a bad deal right before the holidays. One month retails for $40. Three months for $110, before the discount.


holiday, home, recipe

Thanksgiving Meal Inspiration

November 23, 2015


I’m in the process of finalizing the menu for Thanksgiving. Sure, there will be turkey, but there are so many other things that go into pulling off the perfect Thanksgiving feast. Geez, even the turkey alone can be prepared in so many different ways. So here are some of the recipes I’m toying with for this holiday. Basically it’s everything but the turkey and stuffing. Have fun with these Thanksgiving meal ideas.


Main Meal:


What is your go-to recipe for Thanksgiving? Anything I’m missing?

To get inspired for the cooking season, check out this Mode video, which chronicles 100 years of Dining. Some of these plates make me cringe, but then again I am certainly a modern eater – give me kale and quinoa. HA

bag, gifts, holiday, product review

Gift Guide: Leather Purse via Shoemakers

November 23, 2015
This is a sponsored post. I was provided with an item in order to share my honest opinion about the product and company. All thoughts are obviously my own.

I’m a little bit of a purse gal. Okay, maybe I have more than a passing interest in beautiful purses and great bags. One thing that I notice now is my love for bags has taken a turn toward the stunningly crafted and beautifully designed. I used to be okay with the inexpensive bags you could grab at any major retailer for less than you would pay for a t-shirt, but now I like quality. And with that quality I need something unique and stylish.


The San Antonio Shoemakers (SAS) is known for its footwear that is both comfortable and well-crafted. Back in 1976 the co-founders, Terry Armstrong and Lew Hayden, aimed to combat the trend of diminishing quality and cheap foreign manufacturing. They wanted to create a new standard in footwear. Fast forward a number of years and the company still handcrafts most of its shoes in Texas to exacting standards with the very best materials available. Oh, but that’s not all the company does. It also makes purses, using the same exacting standards and quality products.



Isn’t this purse lovely? It’s a SAS purse called the Jackie. The bag, which comes in a handful of colors including brown, black, gold and purple, is made from Italian leather. The hardware on this pretty is imported from Italy, while the purse is designed and constructed here in the states.

Personally, I love the floral detailing on the bag. It takes a very simple basic design and gives it that little extra something to make it stand out above the other available options on the market today.


Love this and want one of your own? There are hundreds of retailers around the country who sell SAS products. But you can also enter for a chance to win a Jackie of your own during the upcoming BlogPOP Holiday Wishes giveaway, December 3-7.


product review, review

Gift Guide: Stylish Glasses for the Four-Eyed in Your Life

November 20, 2015


I don’t wear glasses, but my mom and several of my close friends do. Since glasses are the fashion accessory that they ALWAYS have to wear, it makes sense to have ones that are stylish and modern. I still remember the HUGE pair of red-rimmed glasses one of my best friends wore for years in middle school and the start of high school. We rejoiced the day she got ones that were more stylish and flattering. Let’s be honest, if I had to wear glasses, I would probably have several different pairs that I could switch up when the event or day called for a little change.



But, I know glasses aren’t usually cheap. Owning several pairs, or one fashionable option doesn’t always seem possible. But there is a site to help with that. Firmoo has dozens and dozens of stylish AND affordable frames. These glasses, which I got as sunnies since I don’t need the real thing, are just one example of the adorable styles the company offers. Most frames cost between $19 and $39, which is completely affordable.



Need prescription sunglasses or just want regular ones? Firmoo also has that covered. You can order almost any available style as sunglasses instead of regular glasses.



I’ve reviewed Firmoo glasses before… here and here. Looking back on those posts I apparently have a little on-going love for two-toned sunglasses, and this pair is no different.

Want a pair of Firmoo glasses of your own? Stay tuned until the start of December for the BlogPOP Events giveaway.


boots, daily outfit, scarf, skirt, sweater

The Fall of Oversized Sweater Outfits

November 19, 2015


Sweater: Free People
Skirt: Ralph Lauren
Scarf: Nordstrom Rack
Booties: ModCloth (from last season, but similar to these new booties)


I don’t know what it is about this Fall, but I for me it is the year of oversized sweaters. For the last couple years, I might have one or two of these pretties in my closet, but I’ve shied away from having more than that since they are by very definition shapeless and often pretty unflattering. But, this year, perhaps it is my desire to be comfortable. Perhaps it is the fact that life is dragging me along by the fingernails lately, which has greatly diminished my time at the gym. Perhaps it is because most mornings lately I don’t feel like I have the mental space to come up with a cute really pulled-together outfit. But whatever the reasons, I’m seeing an influx of these comfy oversized sweaters in my closet and therefore an increase in my oversized sweater outfits.



But come one, this sweater is too adorable not to wear often! It’s a winter white, which goes well with so many different colors – black, brown, dark- and light-wash denim. For now it is warm enough to just wear it as is, but when the weather turns colder, I’ll easily be able to layer this sweater over a fitted long-sleeved t-shirt for extra warmth while still being utterly comfortable.



And yes, I’m having a large plaid scarf moment, just like everyone else is this season. Sorry, not sorry.


giveaways, holiday, tourism, travel

Warm Up With Hyatt this Winter

November 18, 2015
This is a Fashionista Event and a promotional item was provided to me. Hosts for this event are Still Blonde after all these Years and yours truly. #InAHyattWorld

Can I tell you something… in another life, aka when I lived in New York and later when I became a full-time freelance writer, I spent the majority of my time as a business writer. More specifically, I wrote about commercial real estate. Now, there are a lot of angles and aspects to commercial real estate, and no, I won’t bore you with all the details, but one of my favorite topics to cover was the hotel market. And if I could cover new construction, even better!

As a perk of the job, I traveled a lot. I had the chance to go to San Fransisco, Seattle, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, St. Louis, Chicago and Indianapolis. I got to write about a lot of hotels, and, of course, I got the chance to stay in a number of different hotels too. Oh, the adventure!

For me, one of the biggest things to any story, and really any hotel stay, are the extras. The added amenities, little perks that make your stay that much sweeter.

Hyatt Place Chicago-South (image from

Hyatt Place Chicago-South (image from

Take the Hyatt Place, for example. This hotel chain, which is found in nearly every major US market and was recognized as the highest in guest satisfaction by the J.D. Power 2015 North American Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study, has standard Wi-Fi throughout the rooms and common areas, a 24-hour gym, a coffee to cocktail bar (which personally I would be all over!), as well as free morning kitchen skillet. Pretty sweet, right?!

Hyatt House Houston Galleria (image from

Hyatt House Houston Galleria (image from

Or, what about the Hyatt House? This extended-stay hotel was recently named one of the 10 best hotel chains for families. This chain offers suite living options that were inspired by residential living. (for my large family, this sounds like a dream come true! We won’t talk about getting locked out of my hotel room by my sister at 2am because she wanted to go to bed!) A number of the rooms come with full-equipped kitchen, so you can save money and dine in on occasion. Sounds pretty good for that next family vacation, even if it is just to get away from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season for a few days of family R&R.

Thinking a little getaway is in order for you and the family this year? Good. You’re on the right track. Hyatt has a deal going now, letting you Warm up with Winter Savings! Get 20% off stays of 2 nights or more and 25% off stays of 3 nights or more at these Hyatt Hotel locations! Just use the code WSALEA when checking out to get these Hyatt Hotel discounts. That means you can save on a little staycation or a little fun city exploration. Whatever you’re in the mood for, there is a Hyatt Hotel where you’re headed. (Psst… offer ends at the end of November.)

Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa (image from

Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa (image from

Oh, and for the ski bunnies… Book the Snow on Sale package at and earn a Free Night Stay at participating mountain resorts in Colorado, Utah, and Nevada! Doesn’t that picture make you want to book a room right now?!

Need even more incentive to plan a trip and give Hyatt a try this season? How about an incentivizing $500 Hyatt Digital Gift Card? Use the rafflecopter below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

fitness, gifts, holiday, workout

Gift Guide for the Gym Obsessed Person in Your Life

November 17, 2015

We all have one gym-obsessed person in our lives. You know the one… she’s always trying to get you to sign up for ‘fun-runs’ that sound more like death than any fun you’re used to. She challenges you on MapMyRun but you always cringe when your distances are shorter and your times are longer. Ha. I’ve got one of these in my life. She’s awesome, but she’s a freaking Ironman (not even kidding) but she’s obsessed.


Well, even the gym-obsessed among us need great Christmas gifts. Here’s my gift guide for the fitness minded person in your life, you know the one you’re always trying to get out of the gym, while they work equally hard to get you in one.

Class Up The Step-Counter

One of my biggest pet peeves with all those sporty, step-counters is how bulky and cumbersome they are. Fine when at the gym or out on a walk, but at your formal party or cocktail hour, the colorful plastic piece around the wrist needs to go. Luckily, there are now fashionable options that will still store the essential chip to keep counting all your steps. I’m loving the Tory Burch options, which come as a simple gold or silver band, or as a wrapping leather strap.

A giftcard to REI

I think we can all admit that Black Friday has gotten hella out of hand. Some companies are taking matters into their own hands, including (and perhaps most prominently) REI, which is CLOSING it’s doors on Black Friday. The store won’t be open, instead it is encouraging people to #OptOutside. Forget the long lines and the stores sales and the annoyed sales associates. Take time to explore nature. Your gym rat, might already be part of the movement, what better way to support the company than to give a giftcard? Just don’t plan on getting it on Black Friday.

A Spotify Subscription

Of all the online music subscriptions, Spotify is by far my favorite. Listen to almost any song you want, at any time with no commercials for $10 a month. Not a bad deal. You get all the latest albums (although if you are a T. Swift fan you won’t get any of her stuff her because she’s turned up her nose to this concept) and a bunch of old classics too. You can make your own playlists, subscribe to playlists made by others, or just listen to one artists entire repertoire. And you can make it so that your playlists are available offline, meaning there is no need to worry about the pesky, hard-to-connect-to gym wireless  Pretty awesome.

Get Graphic

Yes, graphic tees are all the range pretty much everywhere, but especially when it comes to gym wear. If you’re gym rat is hitting it hard every day she is going through a lot of clothing in any one given week. Set her up with some awesome, and often hilarious gym tees and tanks to give her motivation and a laugh too. Personally, I’m loving the Chin Up tank and tee collection.

Add a Little Magic

If your gym-friendly friend spends so much time working on her fitness, she probably also all about the protein shakes, the fruit-rich smoothies, etc… The Magic Bullet makes the creation of fruit smoothies and protein shakes a hundred times easier. You can get an entire kit complete with multiple cups, so several smoothies can be made at one time, as well as a recipe book.

Go Wireless

One of the things that drives me crazy at the gym are all the wires and cords needed to connect you to your smartphone. I need music to workout to (aka to distract me) but I hate fighting with the cords. That’s why I’m wireless now (using the Plantronics Fit Backbeat Headphones), your gym friend could be too. These are easy to wear and can connect to your smartphone from a distance that doesn’t demand you keep it strapped to you. I leave my phone in my bag while lifting or in the cupholder while running and don’t have any problem connecting.

Make it a Group Project

Sure, the gym is great, but sometimes we need to get out and see other people. Sign your gym buddy up for a local running club and pay the first couple month’s, or first year’s dues to get them motivated to run with others. You can find all sorts of running clubs and other fitness-related meet-ups online, but try starting with the Road Runners Club of America.


Have other ideas for the fitness freaks in your life? Would love to hear your suggestions in the comments. Looking to become the friend who is obsessed with getting in her daily workout? Check out my post on Fitness Essentials.

daily outfit, denim, scarf, vest

Weekend Getaways

November 16, 2015


Jeans: Citizens of Humanity
Shirt: Old Navy (similar to this one)
Vest: Kohls (from last season, but here’s a similar vegan leather vest)
Scarf: Nordstrom Rack
Boots: eBay (kinda like these)


I’m a big fan of short-little weekend getaways! Whether it is spending some time with friends, escaping for some quiet time, or even staffing a leadership program, I like packing a little bag and heading away for a day or two.

Wondering how I pack for a little weekend get-away? Don’t worry, there’s a post on that: How To Pack for a Weekend Away. Although I will admit I am the type that will pack 30 minutes before I need to leave, but it takes me at least a week to unpack. I’m trying to get better at the instant unpack, but it’s a chore.



Lucky me, got to do that this weekend. I headed up north to a gorgeous house right on a cliff overlooking Lake Michigan. The weather was brisk and a few snowflakes fell on the ride up. The sun rose over Lake Michigan in a glorious manner on Saturday morning, and I was lucky enough to be awake to catch it breaching the horizon while sipping a warm cup of coffee bundled in layers of sweaters. Overall, not a bad way to spend a couple days.


Since it was a pretty chill weekend away, I went with clothing that was equally chill and comfortable. This black vegan leather vest is an easy addition to any look. And yes, I’ve fallen for the striped shirt and plaid scarf look that seems to be everywhere this fall. It’s cute, so why mess with a good thing?!

A few non-outfit related pictures from my weekend away….




animal print, boots, daily outfit, pants

Cropped Pants in the Fall

November 13, 2015


Pants: Alice + Olivia (similar to these.)
Shirt: ModCloth
Cami: NikiBiki
Booties: eBay (don’t remember the brand but similar to these pretties)
Necklace: gifted from a friend.
Watch: La Mer


I have to admit, I’m on the fence about cropped pants in the fall and winter months. Sure, they look cute with booties, but at the same time they are chilly and sometimes my feet and ankles crave socks. HA. At the same time, these cropped pants are perfect for the random autumn days in which the weather decides to reach into the high 60’s, like it did the day I wore this outfit. The air had a little chill to it, but wasn’t cold enough for all sorts of layers and whatnot.



I also love these cropped, MC Hammer-style pants but I have a hard time figuring out exactly how to wear them with the high waist and baggy hips. It’s especially challenging with my short torso. The high waist makes my torso look even more diminutive. Still I enjoy trying new pairings to find different ways to wear them.