giveaways, life

Back-To-School Kate Spade Prize Package – #BlogPOPEvents Giveaway

August 28, 2015

It’s day two of the four-day giveaway bonanza known as BlogPOP School Rules 2015, which is coordinated by the very talented Jenna of Momma Told Me. Myself and 10 other bloggers are all participating in this four-day, multi-giveaway event.

Today, which finishes my first full week of school, has me thinking about all the school supply lists, the boxes of tissue scattered across my desk, the freshly sharpened pencils, the colorful expo markers that the girls are quick to use. So of course, this is also a time in which I want to go out and buy my own sent of school supplies. But now that I’m an adult and don’t have restrictions and qualifications on what I need to have for each class, I get to have pretty supplies – ones that I love using.

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And since its the BlogPOP School Rules Event, that means one lucky reader is going to get a collection of Kate Spade ‘school’ supplies. This $65 collection includes the This Just In notebook, The Pencil Me In Pouch (with 2 pencils, an eraser and sharpener), and the Strike Gold Sticky Note Set.

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Want to win these pretties? Use the rafflecopter form below to enter and then hop around to the other giveaways for more chances to win some pretty awesome prizes.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


clutch, daily outfit, dress, giveaways

Envelope Clutch OOTD and a #‎BlogPOPEvents‬ Giveaway

August 27, 2015

Today is the first day of the four-day giveaway bonanza known as BlogPOP School Rules 2015, which is coordinated by the very talented Jenna of Momma Told Me. Myself and 10 other bloggers are all participating in this four-day, multi-giveaway event.


Dress: Macy’s
Shoes: DSW
Clutch: Rebecca Minkoff (via ShopBop)
Sunnies: RayBan


When I went to Atlanta for the long wedding weekend earlier this month I took along one clutch to work for all my events – the Rebecca Minkoff Leo Clutch in bright mint. When I got this little pretty purse from ShopBop I loved the color, but wasn’t sure how versatile it would be. In the end, it ended up being super functional with both my black and white polka dot dress worn for the rehearsal dinner as well as the blue patterned dress I wore at the wedding.


I love the envelop design and the zipper trim accent. And honestly, this little number fits everything needed for a night out. I threw my phone, a remote charger, my little zipper-pouch wallet, lipstick, travel Advil, and mirror compact in it without any problem whatsoever.



Want to snag this $95 Rebecca Minkoff Leo clutch for yourself? Use the rafflecopter form below to enter. Then use the linky to keep hoping from giveaway to giveaway!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

family, life, travel, vacation

Goodbye Summer 2015 – Hello New School Year

August 24, 2015

Today starts the official 2015-2016 school year for this here high school teacher. Hard to believe I’m about to launch myself into my second year of teaching. Where did the time go? Before I become completely embroiled in text books, test creation and wrangling a 20-page paper out of my Seniors, here’s a little recap of the amazingness this summer contained. (Pst… a perk of teaching is having three months off in the summer to explore, travel and set out on adventures.)


The summer started with roller skating a long Lake Michigan. I learned two really important lessons on that first trip. One: tourists pay no attention to their surroundings before jumping out in front of you. Two: I am able to make a skinned-knee wipe out look graceful and intentional. Ouch!


The beginning of June launched the summer wedding festivities. With a Meant to Bee themed bridal shower for my cousin. (Pics from the wedding are further down in this post. You don’t want to miss the gorgeous reception hall!)


I discovered this tiki-themed restaurant in Wisconsin, so close to my Grandparents cottage. Don’t know why we never stumbled on this place before but it was too fun to pass up this time around.







Then I headed off to Boston, which means trips to the beach, a day exploring the mansions of Newport, RI, hiking Mount Monadnock, eating as much icecream as possible, waking up early to see a glorious sunrise over the ocean, hiking along Cape Cod to reach a hidden lighthouse. Needless to say it was a packed three weeks of amazing adventures and so much fun!





Back in Chicago I made it to a beach volleyball game, indulged at the Taste of Chicago and made s’mores in my backyard before heading off on the next trip.




The little home stint was followed by my 18th year attended a summer leadership camp in Wisconsin. I went as a tiny little 10 year old and have pretty much gone every year since that first time. The memories and people are the most amazing part of that week, year in and year out!







And then finally it was off to Atlanta for a family wedding and a couple extra days spent floating on Lake Lanier with the most amazing cousins a girl could ask for. Moments like these prove to me over and over again how lucky I am to have the extended family I do. It was a five-days of laughs and just being together. The grandparents did something right because we all love spending time together, and are happy to do it without the aid of the TV or technology. It was a people-centered time and it was amazing.

What were the highlights of your summer?

lessons, life, review

Most Needed and Most Forgotten College Essentials

August 18, 2015

Between packing up to spend 8 different semesters in college, and 5 different major moves all in the last 10 years I’ve become an expert at packing. Be it little weekend trips, long extended stays, cross-country moves or college living, I have the must-packs down pat. And from countless emergency trips to the local Wal-Mart to pick up the things I forgot to pack, I’ve got a list of ‘the most needed and most often forgotten’ items.


As my brother, who just moved into his first dorm this weekend, can attest a number of these things are too easy to forget and accidentally leave behind. (Ahem, your toothbrush Joe!)

The Most Needed and Most Forgotten College Essentials:

Disposable razors – after years of trying different ones I now only use Schick Quattro. Best shave; especially when you are in a rush and can’t spend much time concentrating on perfection. After all those morning minutes are precious and sleep is sometimes so much more important. (Don’t miss this BOGO coupon.)


Toothbrush – do your roommate, classmates, teachers and TAs a favor and brush those pearly whites.

Shower flip-flops – do not step foot in those showers without them. I repeat, do not!!

Headphones – whether they are needed to concentrate on your studies or drown out your roommate’s incessant snoring, you don’t want to leave these behind.

Reusable water bottle – you need to stay hydrated running from class to class. And you might as well do something good for the environment too. Investing in a great reusable water bottle is a win-win.

Loofah – not sure why, but I always forget this when I travel and when I move. I’ve left loofahs behind in all sorts of places. Good thing they are inexpensive and easy to find elsewhere.


The best part? All of these items can be found at your local Wal-Mart store.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Schick®. The opinions and text are all mine.


blue, daily outfit, fashionista events, giveaways

Color Confidence in Transitional Tunics

August 17, 2015
This is a Fashionista Event Opportunity, and is hosted by Still Blonde after all these YEARS and Modly Chic.#MMColorConfidence

While it might be hard to believe, fall is just around the corner. And while the weather here in Chicago is still perfectly warm, and some days down right HOT, it is only a matter of time before we need to begin transitioning our wardrobes from the hot-weather items to the cool-weather ones.

summer-fall-tunic-transition-mmcolorconfidence1To me, a tunic is the perfect transition piece from summer to fall. A flowing tunic, especially one in an amazing color like this one in cobalt, can easily last in your outfit rotation for the next several months. With a little thought, and some funny stares from my neighbors, I put together 4 outfits that can help transition from the warm days to the cool ones.


Tunic: c/o Monroe and Main
Shorts: Old Navy
Shoes: RocketDog
Sunnies: RayBan


Now, while the weather is still warm it’s easy to throw this top on with a pair of shorts. Add your favorite sandals or simple flats and you can be out the door in no time. I’m a huge fan of cobalt paired with black, but it could also be worn with shorts in all sorts of colors and patterns – denim, white, coral, teal, tan, etc…


Tunic: c/o Monroe and Main
Denim: Current/Elliot via ShopBop
Shoes: Bakers (back in the day)


Then, as the temperatures begin to drop a little it’s easy to pair this tunic with a pair of comfy boyfriend jeans. Of course, I always add heels to this pair of pants so that I avoid looking like a total slob. Then again, the tunic also helps create structure.


Tunic: c/o Monroe and Mai
Maxi skirt: Target
Sunnies: c/o Nectar (review to come soon!)


Need a little something more? Pair the tunic with a maxi skirt. Since maxi skirts and tunics tend to be a little shapeless, be sure to tuck in all or part of the tunic in order to create a little visual trickery of a waistline. Personally, I love this bold confident color paired with a great black and white pattern. (Okay, really I’m just a sucker for cobalt in all its forms.)


Tunic: c/o Monroe and Main
Skirt: Kohls
Vest: Kohls
Shoes: Diane von Furstenberg



And then when the weather really turns, the tunic becomes a great layering piece. It can be tucked into a pencil skirt and topped off with a jacket or vest. Add tights (which I couldn’t even fake with the 90* weather we’ve been having) or tall boots to give more warmth when the leaves begin to fall and the temperatures take a dive.

Through all the transition times, for me at least, it is all about keeping color a constant. I used to be a black, gray, navy, only girl in the fall and winter months. But so often that is boring. The rich colors of fall – cobalt, merlot, red, orange and aubergine – can be the perfect addition if you are looking to put away the vibrant summer colors but not rely only on base colors. This Placket Tunic from Monroe and Main doesn’t just come in the great cobalt color I snagged, but also in sapphire, wine and black! (One in each please!)


Do you want to feel confident about color this fall? The Fashionistas have teamed up again with Monroe and Main to host an amazing Color Confidence Giveaway! 25 lucky winners will receive a Fall Color Bundle with a scarf, earrings, bracelet, & bag valued over $125. To enter use the Rafflecopter form below and then jump around on the linky to see how other bloggers will be wearing color confidently this fall. (Psst… a number of other bloggers also styled the cobalt tunic, so you can get even more transitional outfit inspiration from those lovely ladies!)
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Still Blonde after all these Years, Modly Chic, and Fashionista Events bloggers are not responsible if prize is not delivered.  We will make every attempt to help you claim your prize.
fitness, health, review, running

Perfect Wireless Headphones for Working Out

August 4, 2015

One of my biggest frustrations while running is the dang headphone cord. It’s always flopping around and blowing in the wind and getting tangled on my fingers and dragging the earbuds out of my ears, and just causing irritation. For years I have just dealt with it – trying a number of different options for keeping the wires under control. I’ve strung the cord up through the inside of my shirt, tucked in the strap of my sports bra, wrapped it around my phone, held it clutched in my fist, let it flow free, flung it over my back, etc, etc, etc… Oh and don’t even get me started with trying to jump rope or lift weights with the cord dangling there!


Finally, I decided enough was enough and I needed to invest in a pair of wireless headphones for the gym and all my marathon-training runs. Years ago I got the chance to review a Plantronics ear-piece set as a journalism perk. It was one of the best little phone-interview tools I ever came across. So when I was in the market for a wireless headset I decided to start the search at Plantronics, which brought me to the Backbeat Fit Bluetooth Headphones. These are seriously the perfect wireless headphones for working out.

I took them out on a five-mile run yesterday and can already tell you I am sold! I’m never wearing normal headphones again while working out!


What’s so great about the Plantronics Backbeat Fit Headphones? Here’s a list…

  • It is lightweight! It doesn’t even feel like you have anything on.
  • It is easy to put on and take off.
  • It effortlessly syncs to your phone.
  • You can start, stop, increase the volume, power on and off, answer or reject a call all from the couple buttons on the headphone set.
  • It has an 8-hour continuous play battery life. That’s one serious run!!
  • It comes with an arm band to easily store your phone while working out.
  • It has a 30-foot range so for treadmils, elipticals and weights you don’t have to strap your phone to your arm. Jut set it by your water bottle.
  • The volume is loud enough to drown out the sounds around you but won’t go loud enough to blast your eardrums – I might have tried and it kept telling me ‘Max Volume.’


food, home, how-to, recipe

A Simple Summer Cocktail

August 1, 2015


For me, summertime is all about spending time outdoors with family and friends. Backyard barbecues, picnics in the park, beer gardens, playing bags or CanJam in the yard…. all of this and more is the epitome of summer relaxation. But what is a little backyard party or picnic without a refreshing drink or two? And who doesn’t love a simple summer cocktail?


My family likes experimenting with different drink combinations but this summer we are keeping it simple with few ingredients and a lot of refreshing taste. With so many girls in the family, many are big fans of the super sweet fruity drinks. So, we came up with the Caribbean Cran (as I’m calling it.)


The recipe is so simple it is fool proof. You take a classic tumbler and fill it with ice. Next add two fingers worth of Malibu Caribbean Rum (or three if you like strong drinks). Top it off with Canada Dry’s Cranberry Ginger Ale. Add a couple cherries and ta-da. Simple. Straightforward. Refreshing.


Need other idea of great simple summer combinations? Find your perfect mix. Wondering where to get these sweet drinks? You can find them at any of your local Safeway or Albertson grocers.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of DPSG Green Bottle at Safeway/Albertsons. The opinions and text are all mine.

family, life

How To Navigate a Move and Still Feel Close to Family

July 31, 2015

At various stages in life, a move can be a wonderful thing. Heck, since college I have moved to New York, Boston, St. Louis, Milwaukee and Chicago. Whether you’re a young adult going away to college, a fresh graduate heading halfway across the country to kick off your career, or at some other stage of life—moving for love or work or simply a much needed change of scenery—relocating to a new place offers loads of excitement and promise. However, as much as a move often involves moving towards newness and opportunity, it’s also a move away from plenty that you hold dear: familiar sights and sounds, favorite restaurants, friends, and most importantly, family.


Trust me, I know it can be a bitter pill to swallow, leaving parents and siblings behind. Whether you see them every day or every week, you know you can come to them any time you want to celebrate your joys or mourn your sorrows. No longer once you’ve moved. How will you cope? How will you stay close without the frequent contact?

How To Navigate a Move and Still Feel Close to Family:

1. Let them know about the move well in advance. This one might seem obvious, but it can be easy to dread difficult conversations with our loved ones, and the longer we wait, the harder having those conversations get. Start talking about it. Air out your feelings with them, and let them air out their own feelings. This will allow you and your family to best enjoy the time together you have left before the move and begin preparing for life apart.

2. Schedule times to talk over the phone. Whether you’re moving for school, work, or any other reason, getting settled in will keep you pretty busy. And of course, your family has their own responsibilities keeping them busy as well. In those early days after your move, you might want to set up a schedule when you’ll be able to speak with your family over the phone. Having those calls on the calendar will set your mind at ease, since you’ll know that, regardless of busy schedules on both sides, you’ll have that time each week to connect with those you love.

3. Use everything technology offers. Phone calls aren’t the only way to say in touch. Texting with your family members will help you feel connected throughout the day. Post pictures of your new home and city on Instagram or Facebook for them to see and comment on. If they (mainly your parents) aren’t into social media, email photos to them regularly. Video chat when you can for a connection that more intimate than phone calls. Alternatively, going old school and writing letters to them is a nice way to stay connected while giving them something tangible they can hold onto.

4. Plan out visits. Your family will want to visit at some point. Probably sooner rather than later. Those first visits are especially important, as you’ll feel most lonely in the early going. So, plan them out before your move. If you do start feeling lonely and this gets you down, you’ll have those visits on the calendar to look forward to.

5. Get involved locally. While it’s natural to miss your family, you moved away for yourself and your life. Don’t let your feelings about your family prevent you from getting out there and making new friends. Go out with your co-workers. Join a softball team or a local club. Whatever helps you get involved and meet people, do it. It will give you something to share with your family when you talk over the phone, and it will reduce your pangs of loneliness.

6. Remember that your family misses you, too. Just as you’re lonely for your family, they’re lonely for you. Don’t call only when you need them, but remember that they need you as well. And don’t forget their special occasions. Have special treats sent to your mom for her birthday, surprise your sister with flowers for her graduation, and so on.

It can be tough moving away from your family. But it can also be a time of great excitement and adventure. So, enjoy it. If you follow our tips above, we think you’ll able to keep your family members close even if they’re thousands of miles away.

how-to, life, teacher, tips

8 Tips for Decorating Your Classroom

July 27, 2015


While your brain may still be in summer mode with the whole month of August still ahead, the new school year is just around the corner. I welcome my students back into the classroom exactly one month from today. So, that means it’s already time to start preparing before everything catches up with you at once. Whether this is your first year as a teacher or your thirtieth, you’re probably looking forward to the first day when you get to welcome your students to an exciting new year. Finding some creative ways to prepare your classroom can be a great way to get your brain in school mode. Plus, a nicely decorated classroom is a great first sight for a nervous group of new students. But if you’re like many teachers, your decorations for your classroom come out of your own pocket, so it’s important to find ways to do so on a budget.

8 Tips for Decorating Your Classroom

  1. Start by picking out a few colors or a theme for the classroom. Choosing something in advance to keep the room cohesive is a good way to ensure your room looks great without forcing you to spend a lot on fancy supplies. Color combinations could be blue and white, or red, blue, and yellow, or green and yellow. Some themes might include Dr. Seuss, under the sea, reading, different cultures, famous landmarks or national parks, natural environments, outer space, ancient Egypt, or old-fashioned school motifs (books with belts, rulers, and apples). As you buy and collect items to use, keep your themes or colors in mind to make sure the end result is pleasing to the eye and consistent.
  2. Reuse and repurpose old supplies from last year. Got some chalkboard borders that are showing their age? Cut out the worn parts and use what’s left over to border the front of your desk, to decorate storage boxes, or to outline your calendar.
  3. Shop discount bins at a craft store or supply shop. Look for items that are not specifically targeted towards teachers to avoid the pre-school year price hike. Think about items like craft paper, patterned duct tape, scrapbook supplies, and ribbon to use as low cost decorations. Make paper pom-poms to hang from the ceiling, border your desks and cabinets with the decorative tape, and use different colored ribbons to make garlands and tassels to hang from door frames or desks.
  4. You can save a lot of money by printing out lots of nice tools and decorations at home. Design and print out name tags, keywords for the board, signs and labels for student folders and cubbies, etc. One fun idea: have each of the kids choose their own little icon on the first day of school. Provide your own printed out images or stickers of things like an apple, a star, a piano, a dog, etc. Have students choose out an icon and use this as their personal icon for the rest of the year so you can hand out binders, workbooks, and cubbies with their name and symbol. Or personalize each item with an actual picture of each student.
  5. If you want to get decorations for the wall that look a little cleaner and more professional, print out your own. You can also design your own educational tools as posters and decorations and then look into low-cost online signs that you can customize and have delivered.
  6. Get foam letters, Velcro letters, or letter decals to use around the room. Use them to spell out key concepts or to label items related to your subject. For example, if you teach Spanish, order some fun foamy stick-on letters to label the chalkboard as “pizarra” and the front of your desk as “escritorio.”
  7. Shop thrift stores, yard sales, and free giveaway events to find some unique items to use as decorations. For example, collect old dolls, actions figures, and other toys, glue them to a ribbon or piece of foamy board that you can hang over the chalkboard to act like a fun banner. Or get old books and frame the dust jackets to use as wall hangings or string them over a piece of ribbon to act like a garland. If you have a slightly higher budget, get some interesting vintage or antique toys or school items and use these as decorations. Make sure to put them up high if you don’t want them to get lost in the mix of toys and books. Fun ideas might include vintage lunch boxes, old textbooks and workbooks, vintage chalkboards, and wax apples.
  8. Find creative ways to make your storage solution part of your decoration scheme. Frame game boards and hang them up as decorations. Use sturdy cloth bags to hold the game pieces and attach these to the back of the frame so nothing gets lost. Use some of your shelving space to have some books facing forward so that their covers can act as decorations. And as your students start to produce their own art and projects, dedicate plenty of space to display these. This will liven up your classroom while encouraging your students to succeed.

If you’re the type to love decorating and DIY projects, then you’ll have no trouble making your classroom look great. But even if you’re not so skilled with scissors and glue, you can find lots of creative and low-cost ways to make your classroom feel welcoming and personalized.

daily outfit, dress

Blue and White Summer Dress

July 24, 2015
I received this Karina Dress to give my honest opinion and create a review post on it. All thoughts are my own. #frockstar


Are you getting tired of seeing me outfitted in Karina Dresses? Well, just in case you are I conned my youngest sister into modeling my latest Karina Dresses acquisition. She’s wearing a blue and white patterned Peggy dress. This is the same style as the blue, red and off-white dress I wore a couple months back. And I have to say I think this style is quickly becoming my favorite over the tried-and-true Ruby. (Stay tuned next month for a review of my latest Ruby dress!)


For the summer, I really like this simple blue and white color combination. It is simple but pretty enough to wear by itself but can also be layered with a number of different colors. The shoes options are also pretty vast, which isn’t always the case when you are dealing with patterned items. This really is the perfect blue and white summer dress.



And can we just take a moment to rave about the backdrop of these photos? I took the new Karina Dresses to camp with me and we had fun taking pictures at the abandoned barn and ‘ghost’ house on the camp grounds. So fun.


As per usual, a new Karina Dresses review means a new giveaway is starting soon! Stay tuned for the launch of the next giveaway at the start of August, and for now don’t miss the chance to enter this month’s giveaway.