Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Purple{via we heart it}

This weekend, my family said goodbye to a very special person, my grandma.  After several months of health complications and challenges, my grandmother passed away on Saturday night.  My Grammy was a strong and intelligent woman who cared deeply about the people closest to her.  She had an unmatched ability to remember the details, celebrating the small moments with love and joy.  She will be missed beyond belief.

Friday my family will gather in Ohio to celebrate my Grammy and love on my granpa, as he mourns the loss of his longtime love.  I ask you to please keep my family in your prayers, as we remember a wonderful woman.  My grandma was a passionate lover of the color purple, so this week, I am noticing shades of purple in the most unexpected places, smiling at my most favorite memories.  I hope to be back later this week to share some of my most treasured moments with her, but until then, I encourage you to read this special tribute to a real life love story.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Brooke's Happy Lately List

It's been a while since I've done a Happy Lately List, which is so unfortanate, because Happy Lately Lists are one of my most favorite things on this blog!  This week, I am excited to share a Happy Lately List from Brooke over at Belts and Bangles!  Take it away, Brooke...

Hotchoc{via pinterest}

For those tough days and weeks when nothing seems to be going right, I like to take some advice from Julie Andrews and revisit "a few of my favorite things." Although raindrops and roses and whiskers on kittens are nice, they tend to not make me nearly as happy as my guiltiest pleasures from a new pair of shoes to a pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream. To indulge in a few things that make every day better-- and get a few ideas for getting happier on your own-- check out my top six list of things that make me happy.

1. Claire's. When my bank account is low and my style standards are high, Claire's is always there with the latest fashion accessories at an affordable price. If I feel like revamping my wardrobe without suffering from the guilt and credit card debt later, I always turn to Claire's to give my next outfit that "wow" factor that ensures several feel-good compliments throughout the day.

2. New Underwear. Boyfriend or not, wearing a new set of cute and/or sexy underwear immediately makes me feel more confident about my body and my overall appearance. In line with the previous thought, underwear also tends to be on the cheaper side of the scale as far as clothing goes. So this indulgent purchase can make me look and feel good even when I'm broke.

3. Ice Cream and/or Hot CocoaDepending on the season, nothing feels better than curling up with a pint of ice cream or a cup of hot cocoa while reading, watching movies or just relaxing at home with friends. It even makes housework and homework better, which is a major victory for someone like me who needs that little extra motivation.

4. Sweaters From J. Crew. Alas, it's only in my dreams that I'll ever be able to afford the huge collection of J. Crew sweaters I want. However, for birthdays, Christmas and any other holiday I can think of, you better believe I'm mass e-mailing links of the entire sweater collection at J.Crew to all my friends and family as a helpful little hint for making the holiday extra happy.

5. Lucky Jeans. I recently became obsessed with Lucky brand jeans and have now made their store my go-to destination for a satisfying shopping trip. The styles and colors of these jeans are always gorgeous without going too over the top the way some upper-end denim suppliers can be.

6. Scarves. Can you tell I love fashion? For my final item, I've decided to expand upon my love for scarves, which I believe can truly make an outfit. The best part about scarves is that they're versatile for several different seasons and outfits. For example, you can wear a thick colorful scarf over a dark coat in the winter or tie a pretty silk scarf around the waist of a pretty white dress in the summer time for an extra unique look.

Indulging in a little "me time" is crucial for building the motivation and feel-good attitude I need to more efficiently complete all my unappealing daily chores. These are just 10 of the things that make me happy, but you can take advantage of any small activity or special item throughout the day that fills you with delight. Feel free to adopt a few of mine and share some of your own in the comments!

A big thanks to Brooke for sharing her Happy Lately List, and remember, if you want to have you list featured on Smart and Sassy with Sprinkles, just send me an email for more information!  Have a fabulous Tuesday yall!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Starved Rock

A few weekends ago, Matt and I spent a beautiful fall Sunday at Starved Rock State Park.  The 2,630 acre park is known for it's fascinating rock formations, beautiful woods, and breathtaking views of the Illinois River.  We made the hour and a half drive from Chicago mid morning and were on the trails by noon.  We packed a simple picnic and ate our lunch on a bench overlooking with river.  It was beautiful!  It was a bit chilly when we started, but once we got moving and got our heart rates going, we warmed up.  The fall colors were vibrant and bright, reminding me of just how much I adore all that is fall.  The pictures turned out pretty delightful, so I'll let them do the talking... 

















If you live in or near the Chicago area, I'd definitely recommend a weekend trip to Starved Rock.  Their website shows gorgeous pictures of the park in both the winter and spring seasons, so I have a feeling we'll go back sometime in the near future.  But for now, I can feel winter creeping in, and I know it will only be a matter of time till these sunny weekend hikes will be a thing of the past.  I hope you all are enjoying your weekends, soaking up every last little bit of fall possible.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Now that I am finished with internship and living in Chicago full-time, weekends have taken on a new meaning for me.  Last year, Matt and I spent most weekends relaxing, soaking up time together, and doing all the normal, everyday things that we missed doing together during the week.  But now that we get to have those small, everyday moments together during the week, we have been enjoying getting out on the weekends, trying new things, and enjoying this great city that we live in.  So I thought I'd take a second to show a peek into how we've been spending our weekends lately...

Oct 6 2012*Friday outfit: thrifted blazer, Ann Taylor skinny black pants, Dillards tank, Ann Taylor necklace and bracelet, Nordstrom watch, David Yurman ring.
*Date night dessert at Magnolia Bakery on State Street.  The German chocolate cupcake was insanely amazing!

Oct 6 20121*After two and a half years of living in Chicago, we finally saw a show at the Chicago Theater.
*For all your podcast nerds out there, we went to a live Radiolab show and absolutely loved it.  I initially went for Matt, as he loves Radiolab, (I'm more of a This American Life kind of girl), but in the end, we both really enjoyed it!

Oct 6 20122*The lobby of the Chicago Theater has the most gorgeous chandeliers!  However, the lobby was just a teaser for the gorgeousness that was going on inside the theater.  Simply breathtaking, and probably the most beautiful theater I've ever been to.

Oct 6 20123*We've also been enjoying some beautiful fall weather as of late, which means we've done our best to get outside and enjoy it.  On this sunny Saturday, we headed to a nearby forest preserve to hit the trail and get moving.

Sep 24 20127*A few weekends ago, we went to a local arts festival and had fun wandering through all the booths, admiring all the beautiful work.  We played a lot of the "if we were millionaires..." game :)
*Date night at our favorite sushi spot. 

Sep 24 20128*Since living in Chicago, I have learned that if you're wanting to get out and do something, but you aren't wanting to spend a lot of cash, just grab a blanket, a book, and a yummy picnic and head out to somewhere green.  Suddenly, the ordinary becomes much more special, and all for the fabulous price of nothing :)
*We had a special little friend with us a few weekends ago.  (Look closely, you'll see him!)  Clearly this chipmunk is used to people and had no problem chilling near our blanket, especially after Matt tossed him a few pita chip crumbles.

Sep 24 20129*A few weeks ago, some longtime family friends were in Chicago, and we met them for drinks at Rockit.  I grew up with these three guys around my house, as they are really close with my siblings, so it was really wonderful to see them again.  I hadn't seen one of them since I was twelve, so it was pretty surreal to swap stories about the olden days.

Sep 24 201210*A few Christmases ago, my parents gifted Matt a gift card to Rick Bayless' Chicago restaurants, and though we used some of it at Frontera last year, we still had a ton left.  And since we weren't in the mood to deal with the three month waiting list that is Topolobampo, we thought we'd give Rick's casual restaurant, XOCO, a try.
*I was ehhh not so impresseed with my torta, but oh my goodness, when they brought out the dessert, I was in heaven.  Those churros were the among the top ten things I've ever eaten.  Served with chocolate and homemade Mexican vanilla softserve, they were over the top good.  (For proof, note my crazy face in this picture.)  And since we still have a ton of money left on the gift card, I've calculated that we can afford about 40 more orders of churros.  You think I'm joking...

So there is a little peek into how we've been spending our weekends lately.  What have yall been up to?  Leave a link or comment below so I can come visit!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

It Matters


I love this quote for so many reasons.  It puts into words something I've been thinking about a lot lately.  Big things are hard, big things take time.  Good things require effort, good things need care.  As I think about my future, there are so many things I dream about.  Big things, big dreams.  But almost instantly, I feel scared away by the amount of risk, effort, and work it might take.  I think about all the ways I might fail, I think about all the time and tears it might take.  I start to think about saying, "Nevermind."  But then I remind myself that if its big, if its important, and if its something few people do, then it's going to take time and hard work.  It's going to require risk and pushing through my fears.  Because, the good things, the important things, the meaningful things, well, they matter.  And things that matter don't come easy.

So today I challenge us.  To work hard, to take risks, to push through our fears.  Because our hopes and our dreams may be big and scary, but they matter.  And when things matter, we've got to go for them with all we've got.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Apple Picking

Last weekend, Matt and I headed out for my most favorite Midwest activity, apple picking!  Since moving to Chicago, I have looked forward to this activity every year.  Because of the frost late last spring, apple orchards were low on supply this fall, so we headed out a little earlier than usual just to make certain we could partake in our favorite fall tradition.  We've tried two different orchards in our time here, and our favorite is by far Jonamac Orchard in Malta, Illinois.  About an hour and a half outside of Chicago, it's a beautiful drive and an easy daytrip.







9231134Sweater: Rachel by Rachel Roy Leggings: Gap Scarf: thrifted Socks: Target Boots: Clarks Sunnies: Nordstrom 


9231163And of course, we finished the day with a delicious and fresh apple cinnamon donut.  I'm certain heaven will have will have an unlimited supply of those little lovelies; they're so yummy.  We heard the orchard expected to run out of pick-your-own apples later in that afternoon, so if you're planning to go apple picking this fall, make sure you call ahead to ensure you get a good supply.  Is anyone else excited to go apple picking?

And of course, a few Instagrams from the afternoon at the orchard...

Sep 24 20124

Sep 24 20125

Sep 24 20126

PS: You can view other apple orchard outings here and here.

Monday, October 8, 2012


At last, I am finally posting the rest of the pictures from my brother and my roadtrip.  Given that these are almost two months ago, I'm convinced I'm trying to hold on to summer and the freedom of my month-long vacation :)

Aug 13 201221. Balcony view at The Peabody for the March of the Ducks.
2. Early morning cruising made bearable with Starbucks, good tunes, and lots of laughs. 

Aug 13 201233. Macarons at Sucre.
4. Lattes are always better when made with love. 

Aug 13 201245. Sibling jazz on Frenchmen's Street (love the classy ATM sign in the background lol.)
6. Live jazz at The Spotted Cat, one of our favorites of the trip.

Aug 13 201257. Cafe Du Monde, oh how I wish you were closer to Chicago.
8. Happy Allison. 

Aug 13 201269. Enjoying blue sky, open roads, and sibling bonding time.
10. The Pringles duck beak never gets old. 

Aug 13 2012711. Shorty after crossing into Texas, we stopped for some of our favorite Texas staples, fried chicken, crinkle cut fries, and Texas toast.  Yeehaw!
12. Last stop of the roadtrip?  Picking up my graduation gown.  An awesome end to an awesome trip!

It was so great to be able to spend so much time with my little brother.  He is turning into such a little grown up, and it was so fun to share this experience together.  I'm thinkng roadtrips are going to be a mandatory summer activity!  PS: you can see our other roadtrip posts here and here.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Great Gift Idea

With Christmas right around the corner, I wanted to share a great gift idea, courtsey of my mom.  (PS: I realize many of you will reread that last sentence and wonder if I have lost my mind.  I assure you, I have not, though I am one of those Christmas crazies who begins to prepare for the holiday season months in advance.  Naturally, this includes getting my gift list in order well before December 1st.)

As much as I love gifting pretty things and goodies, I really love giving people the gift of experience.  Research shows that people often forget the things in life, but they remember the experiences.  And because I really want my gifts to be memorable, I try to think of ways I can help my loved ones experience something special.  This gift motto is in no way my own, in fact, I grew up with the idea thanks to my mom, one of the ultimate gift givers.  She has always made even the tiniest of moments special with her thoughtful and creative gift giving.  She has long gifted our family experiences, and this past spring, she gifted Matt and I with a great experience.  She asked us to choose any museum or attraction in the Chicagoland area to which we would like a membership, and the membership was on her.

We love this gift for several reasons.  One, it allows us to experience our beloved city more intimately.  Two, it allows Matt and I to experience something together.  And three, it is a gift that keeps on giving, all year around.  Our first year here in Chicago, we chose the Shedd Aquarium, and this year, we chose the Brookfield Zoo.  This zoo has been a great choice for us, because when we find ourselves with a free Saturday or Sunday with not much to do, we hop in the car and head on over.  The parking and admission is all covered thanks to my parent's gift, and we are able to enjoy an afternoon without worrying about our wallets.  This also means that we are able to wander as we please, not feeling pressured to "see it all" or cram in a full day.

So for those loved ones on your list, think about giving the gift of experience.  Whether its for an upcoming holiday or birthday, a cross country move, or a special achievement, think of celebrating with a gift that keeps on giving all year long.  It might be a museum membership, a park season pass, tickets to a show, or a gift certificate to a special restaurant.  The possibilities to create an experience are endless, as are the memories.

And in celebration of this idea, here is a recent trip Matt and I took to the zoo, courtesy of my parents and their gift of experience...

Sep 24 2012We got up early on the first cool day of the season and were so lucky to see so many of the animals up and active.  The cats are almost always snoozing, but the zookeeper said because of the cool weather, the animals were unusually alert and active.  We spent almost an hour with the big cats; they were amazing!

IMG 0929Well hey there guys :)

Sep 24 20121We got an up close and personal view of this big guy, and just after I snapped this picture, he and I had a ten second stare down!  It was one of the coolest moments I've ever had at a zoo, and Matt and I talked about it the rest of the afternoon.  Super cool, especially for a zoo nerd like me :)

Sep 24 20122We timed our visit just right and were able to see several "zookeeper chats," which often involve feedings and tricks.  The polar bear chat was particularly awesome, as we got to witness all sorts of cool tricks, including a splash-making dive for an oversized piece of meat.  (You can see him getting ready in the shot on the right.)

IMG 0934Who knew polar bears were so huge?!

Sep 24 20123The day was really fun and a great reminder of just how special the gift of experience.  So I'm curious, have you ever been given the gift of experience?  Who on your list would love the gift of experience?