Okay, I’m sure you’re sick of hearing about my deck at this point..but I’m so so so happy it’s DONE. Yes, the timing is not ideal, but fingers crossed we get a few more months of solid weather. We had friends in town last weekend, and it was so nice to all lounge around and lay out in the sun (because the only sun I got this summer was in Greece). Much much needed chill time! PS – I’ve always dreamed of having one of these egg chairs in my outdoor space and I FINALLY got one last week. It’s overkill but kind of amazing.
Since we’re basically living on our deck every Saturday afternoon until the end of summer (at least that is our goal), I want to make sure the time we spend up there is stress free. After a few tweaks here and there, I’ve come up with a list of necessities for the ultimate deck experience.
First and foremost, you have to have the sunscreen readily available! I’ve been a skincare fanatic lately, and I refuse to sit out in the sun without applying sunscreen first…and I force it upon my guests as well! My favorite sunscreens are Neutrogena’s Beach Defense and Piz Buin (Leo introduced me to this one – it’s huge in Europe). Piz Buin’s After Sun lotion is also great!
You know those shades you get for free at random events? I always save them & stock them away in our den in case someone forgets/breaks/loses their pair. Sitting outside with no sunglasses on is borderline torture, and it’s not good to squint (it causes wrinkles!). That said, having a few extra pairs of cheap-y shades handy quickly solves this problem.
Luckily, we have a mini fridge in our den, which makes it so easy to store cold beverages near the deck! Since I’m always trying to watch my sugar intake, Spindrift sparkling water is my new favorite to have around the house – Spindrift is America’s first and only sparkling water made with real, squeezed fruit! It’s essentially like having spa water…but ready for your enjoyment in a cute little can. I mean, what’s not to like? Spindrift = sparkling water + real fruit. Yup, that’s it. My go-to flavor right now is grapefruit (there are so many to choose from), it’s so refreshing and perfect to sip on a hot day. It also pairs really nicely with a fresh piece of fruit! Here’s where you can find Spindrift near you.
Luckily, when we moved in there were already speakers connected to our deck. Being able to jam out to your fav tunes while laying out is priceless – all we do is connect our phone to our stereo system and voila…the jam sesh is on. Leo has his own mixes that he puts together, so we often listen to those (you can find his more recent ones here and here). If I’m out there alone, I’ll play my 90s hits playlist..am I aging myself?!
We hit a big milestone since my last post – our remodeling work in the house is officially complete! We spent the last few weekends finishing up our deck. Yes, we made the decision to replace planks & re-stain our deck ourselves (with the help of a few very generous friends!). Are we crazy? Potentially. If we weren’t crazy before the project, we definitely lost our sanity throughout the process. Let’s just say there were late weeknights spent painting planks using our phones as lights…#homeownerprobs.
The thing I’m most excited about is that now we have time to focus on the more fulfilling home projects (because, let’s be real, the projects never end). I’m talking selecting art, rugs, pillows & throws, indoor plants…just pure decorating. The best part of it all! The first place we’re starting? Finding the perfect coffee table. It’s LONG overdue.
As with many of our other furniture purchases, I didn’t realize all of the intricacies involved with finding the right coffee table. There are definitely guidelines to keep in mind as you shop around – so I wanted to share a few that we are considering in our hunt for our coffee table match! We haven’t found the winner yet, but I’ll be sure to let you know which one we pick. Below are four things we’re considering when shopping for our coffee table – I’ve also linked to a few tables I’m loving currently. Which one do you like the best?
The worst part of going on vacation is always the aftermath…coming back to reality. I tend to reflect on all of the beautiful places I visited, and am saddened that I don’t have the flexibility to spend more time seeing other parts of the world. To my surprise, coming home from this last trip I found the transition to be slightly less difficult.
I thought about why my vacation blues didn’t linger as long as usual. It could just be that I’m getting older and am becoming more of a homebody, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think that I’m finally in a place where I’m able to recreate the things I love about vacation at home (outside of exploring the world, of course). It’s more about that excitement and ability to decompress. I’m excited about our new home and spending time enjoying it. I’m excited about summer in Chicago and exploring new restaurants, bars, and summer events. I’m excited about hosting friends and sharing our home & city with them. I’ve learned to plan better (aka learning to say “no”) so I’m not overcommitting – definitely a source of stress for me in the past. Bottom line is, I don’t feel like I’m only happy on vacation, which is a good thing!
I realized I didn’t do a mindfulness post in June, so it was hard to pick just five articles this month! So many good reads out there! Below are a few links across the web that have inspired and motivated me the last couple of months –
Those mornings you spend staring hopelessly at your closet, feeling like you have NOTHING to wear…we’ve all been there. A closet full of clothes with nothing to wear – how do you get around this? Considering most of us are on a budget, buying a whole new wardrobe is just not an option. I used to face this conundrum often, until I recently revamped my closet. It took me a weekend to do, but now I wake up excited to wear what I have and I no longer have the urge to buy more (which is rarity for me!). Don’t get me wrong, I have still been getting little things here and there, but more accessories than anything. Have I convinced you that you need to do this yet?!
Now, put some time aside and prepare to fall in love with your wardrobe all over again. The steps I followed are fairly simple, they just take time and energy. Grab a glass of rosé, put on a good playlist and GO!
We’ve finally wrapped up construction in the house! YAY! It’s SOOOO nice to not have contractors in and out constantly…and after hours and hours of cleaning, I’ve managed to get out the dust. We’re starting to feel settled, which is an unfamiliar yet very welcomed feeling. There’s so much open space now that we don’t have boxes, equipment, paint and other random stuff laying around. I can’t handle clutter – I was losing my mind towards the end there! Anyway, I’m ready to move on from this stage to more fun, exciting things like home accessories.
Our next project is furnishing our deck. One recent discovery (& a warning for those of you who are as clueless as I was) – outdoor furniture is EXPENSIVE. Like, way more than you’d want to pay for furniture that is going to be sitting outside taking on the elements. Another thing I’ve never spent too much time dwelling on is outdoor lighting. I always thought it was just…THERE. Yeah, not the case. We realized we needed more lighting ASAP after having our first BBQ a few weeks back – we all had our iPhone lights on to avoid face planting down the steps and/or dropping the delicious food/cocktails we had just carefully crafted.
I was going through old photos at my mom’s this weekend, and I think it’s safe to say that it’s officially one of my favorite pastimes. My dad’s a photographer, so we have boxes & boxes of photographs…from my parents engagement photos, baptisms, family vacations, birthday parties to simple moments like my brother playing on our swing set. I love seeing photos of us as kids, but I particularly love seeing photos my parents & grandparents. It’s such a strange thing to see pics of my parents when they were my age – I wonder what they were thinking, what challenges they were facing, what dreams they were aspiring towards. Life is a crazy thing.
Father’s Day tends to be a more emotional holiday for me. I’ve always been close with my mom, but my dad and I have had our ups and downs over the years. Maybe it’s because we’re weirdly alike, or that we’re both stubborn and refuse to see things from the other’s perspective. Either way, we’ve always had a different type of relationship, and I don’t get to see him as often as I’d like for various reasons. I also lost my grandfather a couple of years ago – the first time I ever lost a family member that close. I feel very lucky to have grown up with a grandfather, as I know many people aren’t able to experience that, and I have some guilt about not appreciating the time I had with him as much as I could have.
With all that said, I try to make the most out of every Father’s Day and spend some quality time with Dad. I’ve realized the importance of telling loved ones how much I care and spending time with them because you just never know how much time you have.
On a lighter note – quality time is the best gift you can give, but an actual gift is a always a nice little bonus. I put together a quick list of the Father’s Day gifts that are top of mind, and will put a smile on Dad’s face (no guarantees, but I think you’ll get something out of him!).
No, I am not a professional chef…but I that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be one. I mean, that’d be a nice little bonus right? Hi, I work in advertising, I have a life & style blog..AND oh yeah, I am a professional chef.
I always wondered how restaurants manage to cook steak perfectly EVERY TIME. It has to be chaos in those kitchens (my kitchen is chaos cooking for two – I still can’t get stuff to cook properly!), how do they keep track of how much time each steak requires?! Well, I hate to break it to you, but most restaurants don’t keep track. They have this magical device called the sous vide.
There are different variations of sous vides – ones used by large restaurants vary from those made for us wannabe chefs. I purchased a home-friendly sous vide, the Joule by ChefSteps, to see what all this hype was about (& because I wanted to make progress against my #chefgoals). The device came with a hefty price tag at $199, but curiosity inspired me to pull the trigger.
I’m back!!! I feel like I’ve been gone forever. I took a little hiatus as I was in San Francisco last week. I extended what was meant to be a work trip and crashed with my cousin (who lives there) for the weekend. We lucked out with beautiful weather, so I spent a lot of time walking around, exploring new neighborhoods, eating tasty food. It was really nice to take some time to unplug – much needed. Now I’m refreshed and ready to get back in the swing of things!
I know I sound like a broken record, but seriously…the house has been our lives as of late. We’re finally wrapping up the renovations (will have a new room to share in the coming weeks!) and are starting to focus more on furniture & decor. The most stressful furniture purchases were the couches…and luckily, we ordered these first knowing we’d need them the most. Couches are BIG purchases, and given so much shopping is now done online, it’s makes it even more stressful! It’s scary to pull the trigger on something you haven’t seen in real life.
We, naturally, did a ton of research before deciding on which couches to get. My definition of “affordable” in this case is couches under $2K – if you’re looking to spend under $1K, Ikea is your best friend (we actually purchased this Ikea couch in light grey for the office – it’s great!). Urban Outfitters is another go-to if you’re looking to buy a couch on the real cheap! We got this Urban Outfitters couch for our den upstairs (you can see it here). For the living room, we wanted something nicer, knowing we would be using it the most & would have it forever – or however long couches last nowadays (better be a long time given the investment!). I wanted to share with you where we were shopping & what we ended up with – aka all of the below places are vetted!
I’ve adjusted my diet the last few weeks, mainly to get a hold of my sugar problem, but also to lose a couple of pounds I put on over the holidays in preparation for summer! One of they key adjustments I made was cutting out all sugar, aside from fruit, and also eating foods that have a low glycemic index (i.e. foods that have minimal impact on your blood sugar – better for your metabolism & ultimately your health). The no sugar thing has been SO tough…that can literally be a blog post all on it’s own! Good news is, it gets better after the first week.
The other major change I made was the types of grains I’m eating. I am still eating grains – for one thing, I can’t live without SOME carbs in my diet, but I also strongly believe in the notion of moderation. I don’t think cutting anything completely out of your diet (outside of sweets & bad fats) is a good thing. However, I’ve been focusing on eating more sprouted grains. I know, you have questions…keep reading!
Life has been a whirlwind lately (when is it not?!). The last week Leo was out of town, so I had plenty of alone time to reconnect with myself and get my life in order. That means lots of gym time, attempting to cook (as I’m trying to eat better – I’ll share more on that later this week!) – hanging with friends and curling up in bed at 9pm on a Friday to watch Harry Potter…yes, that actually happened. I will say there were many cocktails had the night before that resulted in this Harry Potter marathon. It was just what I needed.
Outside of the usual craziness, I’ve been experiencing something lately that I think comes with the late twenties…re-evaluating friendships. I’ve recently talked about how many of my friends are in different life stages, which is to be expected at age 29. However, one thing I did not expect was for some friendships to fizzle out. It’s a weird phenomenon – I realized that there were select people in my life that simply weren’t being good friends. I’m still not sure if these people recently changed, or if I’m just realizing something that’s been there all along. Either way, it’s been a challenging but enlightening experience. As I closed doors, new ones opened. The moment I made it a priority to branch out & meet new people, I did, and in the most hilarious ways (i.e. Lyft line- ha!). It’s been a long time since I’ve opened myself up to someone new. I struggled with it at first, but I found I’m learning more about myself throughout this process in addition to learning more about what I value & expect out of a friendship. It’s funny how life works sometimes.