Best of 2013

it's hard to believe that another year has come and gone. so many wonderful things happened in my life this year, so i thought i'd share some of the highlights with you.

+ the long distance part of mike's and my relationship finally ended. thank goodness for that.
this photo was taken just before he surprised me for graduation. it's one of my favorites.

+ i moved to Chicago.

+ mike and i celebrated one year of being together.

+ i participated in my first sprint triathlon (with my mom!).

+ i made many a good memory with my sister.

+ sam and i got to meet one of our favorite (former) Duke players.

+ i became an aunt!

+ my mom and i had the privilege of throwing my sister's baby shower.

+ i enjoyed many a signature dinner (fries and a milkshake) from Cook-Out

+ i re-branded my blog to what it is now

+ i started offering virtual styling services!

although it's not an inclusive list of all the wonderful things that happened this year, it's a pretty darn good start.

i've been totally blown away by God's grace, provision, and blessings in my life. i'm not anywhere i thought i would be, but i love that about life.

lastly, i want to say thank you to you, my readers. you guys are wonderful. you make blogging so much fun and i wouldn't be able to do what i love without you. here's to another fabulous year together.

NYE Style

don't ask me how, but tomorrow is New Year's Eve. if you're like me, you still have no idea what you're doing to celebrate the end of 2013 (i'm just gonna go ahead and blame Mike for that one). if you end up RSVP'ing late to that party you were invited to or getting together with friends at the last minute, here's a couple ideas for some outfits you can throw together:

NYE Options

i'm a firm believer in wearing gold and sequins on NYE. there are few other occasions that truly call for them, so i like to take advantage. if you're not so much into the sequin route, go for an edgier look with faux leather leggings and a fun top. if you're feeling extra girly or want an excuse to wear that new leather skirt, add a feminine lace top and bold statement necklace for a glam look.

if i'm being honest, i wish i had three separate parties to attend just so i could recreate these looks with items in my closet. alas, i will most likely end up on the couch in my sweats watching the countdown on TV with the boys, Mike included :)

what's your NYE style? 



by the way, it feels real good to be back to blogging after my weeklong break for Christmas. i missed you guys. and thanks for being patient - i needed some time to recharge and it worked!

High Five for Friday

Happy Friday after Christmas! Is it just me, or are the first few days following Christmas a little weird? Decorations get torn down, family travels back to their homes, and the newness of gifts wears off and they become part of your life. 

Geez, sorry. I'm not usually this much of a downer. 

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday and enjoyed it as much as I did! My favorite part was probably taking a break from all things work and relaxing.

My favorite things that happened this week revolve around Christmas. 

1. Mike and I had our first flight together! I was weirdly looking forward to it. 
2. I've had some good QT with my nephew. That little dude is so darn cute. 
3. I discovered that Mike is a bowling master. We neede something to do yesterday, so the family headed out to bowl and Mike warned me that he was pretty terrible. Turns out, he was lying. The man can bowl. 
4. The weather here in NC has been a much-welcomed break from that darn Midwestern winter. 
5. I received wonderful and generous gifts from my family that I'm really excited to use and have. Some of them are things that I've been coveting for awhile and now I have them!

You can find plenty of photos of my week on Instagram

How has your week been? Link up below and tell me about it!

1.Whitney @ Polka-Dotty Place2.Merry Christmas

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Christmas Break

if i'm being totally honest with you guys, one of the very few things i miss about being in school was the holiday breaks i would get. who doesn't love the chance to just take a few weeks off of your normal routine to do something different (or nothing at all)?

i was fortunate enough to not have to work over my Christmas breaks, so i would enjoy time at home with my family and relaxing. i was lamenting over the fact that those days are gone when i decided that i'm going to take my own Christmas break this year. although it won't be for nearly as long, it will still be nice to not have to even think about anything work-related.

mike and i are headed down to Raleigh tomorrow morning to spend a few days with my family down there. we're both looking forward to a little "getaway" and i cannot wait to hold my nephew again. i'm weirdly excited about our first time flying together. it was either that or a 14 hour road trip on Christmas Eve, which wasn't exactly our first choice.


so, all this to say that it's going to be a tad quiet around here the next couple days.

i hope everyone has a very merry Christmas and wonderful few days - either with your family, friends, or whomever you will be spending time with.

in totally separate news, the fact that i was able to wear this outfit on december 22nd and not freeze my tush off is a miracle.

outfit details:
jeans: Madewell
sweatshirt: H&M
vest: American Eagle (so old, just about ancient)
scarf: Prima Donna
purse: Kate Spade
hat: J.Crew Factory
shoes: Converse 


High Five for Friday

happy friday, peeps! i, for one, am very glad that it's friday. i get to see mike today! it's only been like a week and a half, but it always feels like we've been apart for so long whenever i travel. so, i'm thankful that we'll get to hang out tonight.

here's a few of my favorite things from this past week:

1. you guys, I KNOW that i'm being that annoying aunt that always and only talks about her nephew and i'm sorry. it's still so new and he's just so darn cute that i can't resist. i've known the guy for like a week and i miss him. it's weird. i'm so, so glad i get to see him in a few days!
this is what happened to the camera roll on my phone within the first 3 days of his life. it terrifies me for the future.

2. mike and i finally made plans for Christmas - we'll both be with my family in NC for a few days. i'm so glad he'll be coming with and hanging with all of us.

3. this 40-ish degree weather is sending me into all kinds of happy places. my goodness, it's nice to not have to wear my winter boots and down jacket for once.

4. i decided a couple weeks ago that i'm going to take off a few days for Christmas and i'm so looking forward to the break. i'll be posting a couple times next week, but will have them all scheduled and set to go before i leave for NC so that i don't even have to think about my blog while i'm with my family. happy holla-days to me!

5. my makeshift Christmas tree goes pretty perfectly with my new tassel garland from Studio Mucci. so much so that i may be leaving that tree in that corner as a year-round thing. we'll see.
how has your week been? link up below and tell me about it!

Holiday Visa Card Giveaway!

'tis the season, am i right? as i've gotten older, i've started to appreciate more and more the act of giving instead of receiving. don't get me wrong, i love getting a gift as much as the next girl. however, i really enjoy giving to people, too! so, how does $250 sound?

i'm teaming up with these wonderful ladies to give one lucky, lucky winner a little Holiday bonus.

 photo giveaway_zps39a12331.gif

Let's Talk Moisturizer

one of my favorite things to do during my morning and evening routines is to wash my face. i have pretty sensitive skin, so i choose cleansers that are gentle and hydrating, but also leave me feeling clean and refreshed. during the winter months, the most important step for me is to moisturize my skin, especially after giving it a good scrub. i have a morning moisturizer that i use before applying my makeup, but haven't found a good one to put on before bed. i was recently introduced to Clean & Clear's Morning Burst Hydrating Gel Moisturizer by Beauty Box 5 and i'm hooked.

it keeps my skin hydrated all through the night and leaves it feeling extra soft in the morning. the fact that it's a gel moisturizer means that it goes on very light and isn't greasy. i have mostly "normal" skin, but it definitely gets a bit oily by the end of the day. what's great about this moisturizer is that it doesn't add any extra oil because it's water-based. oh and it smells amazing. like cucumbers and mango and a beach vacation. and possibly best of all, you don't have to break the bank to get it. you can just pick it up next time you're at Target, since we all know you'll end up walking out of there with more than you intended to anyway.

i had first received a small sample in my December box from BB5 and loved it, so i knew it would be a good one for me to use. if you're in the market, definitely give it a try.

for those of you that don't know what Beauty Box 5 is, it's a monthly subscription box that delivers 5 cosmetic samples to your doorstep. i've been receiving boxes for several months now and have been introduced to so many new brands - it's always fun to see what will be included in my box. you can sign up for BB5 here!

Winter Emerald

scarves are in abundance in my closet these days. they kind of need to be because of the whipping wind and cold temperatures, but also because they add a nice touch to an outfit and can add color to an otherwise neutral look.

this infinity scarf from Sparks & Whimsy is a new favorite. the emerald color is a new one for me, but i really like the pop that it adds. what i really like about it is that it can be looped twice or thrice (is that a word? and was it used correctly?), so it's versatile.


it's very well-made and keeps my little neck warm, which is key.  you'll definitely be seeing this baby around these parts more often.

Christmas Giraffes

it's hard to believe that one week from today will be the day after Christmas. it seems only fitting that i finally get my Christmas tree up, right? my decor has been pretty sad this year. i'm going to blame that on the fact that my latest move from NC to Chicago made me realize that i want to hoard as little as possible at my apartment, which means that holiday decor resides entirely at my parents' home. i did find this fab tree at Home Goods with my mom a couple months ago and had to have it. i mean had to have it. it was originally a brownish black, but my mom spray painted it gold for me. i added some simple Ikea candles (for $.79 a pop, no less) and lights and wahlah!
speaking of Christmas trees and things of that nature, how out of this world adorable is this handmade ornament from Samantha of Emariecreations. there's a newborn baby (hint, hint: my nephew) that may or may not be receiving this as his first Christmas ornament from his aunt.

it's just beyond.

small side note: i've started using that fairly obnoxious phrase and have no idea where i picked it up from. i say that it's obnoxious because it's not even an entire sentence. it's missing the last word, like cute or adorable or pretty or obnoxious. see what i'm saying? 

check out Emariecreations on Etsy and Facebook!

New Adventures

I'm so excited to finally share with you guys what my new job is! As of about 2 weeks now, I'm the Creative Associate at Branch Design in Chicago. Branch Design is a boutique interiors firm. As far as job responsibilities go, I'll be doing a bit of everything, which is exciting for me. I love variety and new challenges, so I think it will be a great fit!

I came across the job posting online and knew I should apply for it. Honestly, I figured my chances of being offered a position or internship were pretty slim because I don't have any formal training or education in all (or any!) things interior design. I do, however, have my mom's creativity and "eye", so I just went for it and applied. I met with Caroline a couple days later for an interview and we hit it off right away. Not long after, she offered me a position and I excitedly accepted!

The timing of it couldn't have been better. I had been interested in getting into the interiors/design field, but wasn't sure how or where to start. So to say that this was perfect timing is a bit of an understatement. I'm so looking forward to learning and being challenged in new ways.

Here's to new adventures!

Oh! You can check out my first blog post here! And you can like us on Facebook to stay in the know on all things design.

I'm an aunt!

I'm back to the frigid temperatures in Chicago after a wonderful long weekend in Raleigh. If you're new to these parts, I was in Raleigh for the birth of my nephew. Our family is incredibly grateful to God for a smooth and "boring" birth and first few days of his life.
this was our first meeting!

I'm already so attached to him and I've known him for 5 days. I'm new to Aunthood, so I really didn't know what to expect when I first met him. I knew I would love him and think that he was cute and precious and adorable, but I didn't expect to be so overwhelmed with love for him. It's one of those things where everything he does is worthy of a picture or telling someone else about, even if he's done it a hundred times already. I'm so thankful that I was able to be there when he was born because I had the chance for some good one-on-one time, which mostly consisted of him sleeping and me staring at him. At some point in his life, he will not approve of that but, for now, he seems pretty okay with the whole situation.

There's nothing like a newborn baby to remind you of how great God is. Not only for His provision and blessings, but also for His creativity and downright amazing design. To think that He knit David together inside of Kate's womb (Psalm 139:13) just blows my mind. If nothing else, David (and all newborns) can remind us of how incredible God is.

Needless to say, I'm anxiously awaiting the next time I get to hold him. Lucky for me, that's one week from today.

A plum scarf a day

keeps the freezing cold away! (see what i did there?)

you guys know by now that i'm a sucker for scarves. living in Chicago basically requires that. it's bitter cold at home (i'm soaking up every last second of 40's and 50's in Raleigh today before heading home tomorrow), so i'm almost always wearing a scarf. Maddy of Earthquake State made this beautiful Zoe scarf in plum and it quickly was put on heavy rotation in my scarf collection.
the plum color is perfect for me, since i typically wear a pretty neutral color palette. it goes with pretty much everything i own. it's warm enough to protect my neck from the below-zero wind chills, but doesn't suffocate me, which i appreciate ;)
Maddy is incredibly talented. i mean, just look at all fabulous things she makes! i'm kind of dying for one of these hats and this headband.

Maddy is generously offering all Lauren Elizabeth readers 15% off your purchase (now through  January 1st) using code LELOVE15.

check out her blog, too! and Facebook and twitter

Giveaway / LaMaLu Boutique

today's giveaway comes from LaMaLu Boutique. they're stocked with affordable and adorable women's clothing and accessories. some of my favorites are this cardigan and these earrings. beautiful, right?

remember this outfit from earlier this week?
my top is from LaMaLu, so that should give you a sense of how cute their stuff is. one lucky winner will get a $25 shop credit!

use the giveaway tool below to enter!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

High Five for Friday

today is the most special Friday of my life, to date. today is the day that my first (and therefore favorite) nephew is being born. it's hard to describe in words just how excited i am to finally see what he looks like and catch some first glimpses of his personality. depending on when you're reading this, i may be anxiously awaiting his arrival or i may already have fallen in love with him - it's tough to say!

so, in honor of him, i'm just gonna go ahead and say that he gets ALL five spots on my High Five for Friday list. because let's be honest, he deserves them.

follow me on instagram, as i'm sure i'll be sharing a stupid amount of pictures over the next few days.

have your own High Five for Friday post? link up below!

Winter Pink

although my tendency is to wear mostly black or grey in the winter months, i've been fighting those chromophobe demons a bit by adding some color here and there. or some pattern. or sometimes both, which is always a huge accomplishment.

what's also a huge accomplishment is the fact that i actually like the color pink these days. for years and years, i had a strange aversion to it. i don't know if it was too girly or abrasive (hot pink, mostly), but i avoided it like the plague. then i realized that there is such a thing as a soft and pretty pink and my whole world of color preferences changed.

there's nothing like a pretty pink blouse and polka dot skirt (with a bow detail, no less) to fulfill all of my incredibly feminine outfit dreams in one fell swoop. and that, my friends, is what it means to be efficient.


thanks to LaMaLu for this fab blouse. be sure to check them out on Facebook and Pinterest, too!

outfit details:
top: ℅ LaMaLu Boutique
skirt: Loft
booties: Nine West via Marshall's
jacket: Marc New York via Nordstrom Rack
earrings: ℅ Pradman Jewels 

Q+A, Part 6


questions that we're answered in this video:
(1:02) what blog interface do you use?
(1:48) what camera do you use? do you use a tripod?
(2:45) what are your thoughts on the new sneaker wedges?
(4:08) can your tell use about what cat litter you use, where you keep it, etc.?
(5:45) how can you tell the difference between Milo & Otis?
someone informed me that freckles on orange cats are normal - so now i know ;)
(7:48) how do you meet new friends being "new" in town?
(10:05) what does an average day look like for you?
i recorded this video last week, so i'll actually be out of town starting tomorrow!
(13:58) why do you only see your boyfriend on the weekends?

leave a comment or email me if you've gotchyoself a question!

Scallops & Snow (& a giveaway!)

as i shared with you guys yesterday, it's been cold and snowy in Chicago. i've realized that i'm okay with the cold weather, as long as it's cold for a reason - like because it's snowing. other than that, i have no use for those freezing cold days with nothing but windblown hair and frozen tears to show for it.

with snowy weather, i've had to get creative with how i layer and keep warm but still stylish. scarves are a super easy way to do that, obviously. i like a lighter weight scarf for some of my dressier looks, but a big ole' chunky scarf when i know i'll be outdoors for an extended amount of time.

another great thing about layering is that you can still wear your cute blouses and tops in the cold by simply pairing them with a blazer or sweater. i'm wearing this adorable scalloped top under my blazer. what i love about this one is that you can still see the unique scallop detail under the blazer.

so, moral of the story is to layer like a champ. trial and error is your best friend. see what looks right and what's comfortable, but make sure that you don't retire all of those blouses and tops for the winter months. they can still be worn!

Simple Southern Style is offering one lucky winner the chance to win this adorable animal print scarf. it will instantly add a "pop" to your outfit! use the giveaway tool below to enter!

outfit details:
jeans: Hot Mama
blazer: LC Lauren Conrad (Kohl's)
scarf: Prima Donna
boots: Target
earrings: Kate Spade Factory Store
lipstick: Covergirl Blast Flipstick in Cheeky

a Rafflecopter giveaway

lesson learned

i learned a valuable lesson yesterday. well, two.

first lesson: don't leave style post photos down to the last possible day because it will snow. and it will be rather chilly. and you will not want to be outside taking those photos that you left to the last possible day.

second lesson: being a style blogger in a state or region that experiences true winter is going to be difficult.

i dragged my roommate out of the comforts of our cozy apartment yesterday to take some photos for some upcoming posts. it snowed all morning and the forecast said it would continue to snow all day, so we braved it and just went for it. after a little searching for the perfect spot, i did some awkward posing (in front of the window to a busy restaurant, no less) and we got the shots i needed, as well as some that could be used as blackmail.

well, guess what? i decided you should probably see them just so you can appreciate what it's like to have a photo shoot in the middle of a snowstorm. enjoy!
thought: oh man, TRY to look happy even though you're freezin' your little buns off.
dead giveaway: hands.

thought: WHEW! that wind makes things rather chilly.
dead giveaway: mouth.

thought: I'M WITHOUT A JACKET IN THE SNOW.
dead giveaway: hands. both of them. 

this was as a 40-ish year old man told me, "you look beautiful, babe. just stunning!"
thought: ahhhhh things are getting awkward.
dead giveaway: facial expression. and hands.

thought: alright, i'm just going to let this happen.
dead giveaway: closed eyes. a sure sign of succumbing to nature. 
so there ya go. real gems. my sister's favorite will probably be the third one, mostly because of the hand on the right. what is going on there?!

needless to say, i think i learned my lesson. or at least, i hope i did.

by the way, full details on these outfits are coming to you later this week - so hold on for those!

High Five for Friday

We Three Cats of Orient Are

We three cats of Orient are
Terrified to get in the car.
Why go out for celebrating?
We'll stay right where we are. Oooh-

Chorus
Home is heaven. Home is good.
Home is where we get our food.
Why go out for Christmas parties?
Frankly we're not in the mood.

We're not happy with a trip yet. 
Seems they always end at the vet.
These excursions are diversions
We'd just as soon forget. Oooh-

repeat Chorus

We three cats are Siamese,
Himalayan, and Tonkinese.
Bring us gifts of meat with gravy
And mild kinds of cheese. Oooh-

repeat Chorus

my roommate gave me the book Catmas Carols for my birthday and it's hilarious. if you have any cat lovers in your life that you need a gift for, buy them this book.

back to business as usual...happy friday! hope you've all had a wonderful week and get to have a restful weekend. i've somehow managed to make my birthday last an entire week by stretching out the festivities, so i'm looking forward to celebrate with friends tonight. 

here's how my week went:
1. my family has a tradition of making Danish Ebleskiver for breakfast on holidays or times when we're all together, so Thanksgiving was no exception. it's my grandma's recipe, so i always think of her whenever we have them. 
2. my birthday was great! i'm planning a full recap next week, in which i will talk about the best meal of my life. 

3. i recently found a new place for lunch and MAN it's good. it's nearby, so it's perfect to run in quick when i'm hungry and want a break from working. i love finding new things like that.
4. i started my new job this week and am so, so excited about it. we're still finalizing the details, but as soon as everything is ready, i'll share all the details with you guys! 

5. Otis photobombed my bed in the funniest way earlier this week. like, dude, what's with the one leg action?! 
how has your week been? link up below and tell me about it!