Lifestyle

Father’s Day Gift Ideas: 2017

Father’s Day Gift Ideas: 2017

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!).

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Is Sous Vide Cooking Worth it?

Is Sous Vide Cooking Worth it?

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.

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Where to Shop Affordable Modern Couches

Where to Shop Affordable Modern Couches

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!

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Why Sprouted Grains Are Healthier

Why Sprouted Grains Are Healthier

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!

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Monday Mindfulness

Monday Mindfulness

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.

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Our Modern Minimalist Bathroom

Our Modern Minimalist Bathroom

My life has been so consumed with home renovations – between picking out paint colors & tile, to dealing with various stuff that comes with owning a house (roof leaks, broken porch lights – it never ends!!). That said, it makes me all the more excited to share when we actually FINISH something! This time around, it’s our master bath…potentially my favorite makeover thus far.

Our master bath is the room that got the biggest facelift in our house. Previously, it was small, crammed, dark, and even worse…had a single vanity! That wasn’t going to fly. We wanted to open it up and make it a brighter space – this involved some serious construction like moving the door, knocking down storage areas that were embedded in the ceiling, building a completely new shower. The things that come up while your remodeling you can sometimes NEVER expect. Lots of improvising and flexibility is needed…along with the million decisions you have to make (which is what makes it all so stressful). Regardless, it’s so worth it in the end. You quickly forget about those late nights you spent debating between paint colors (the winner was Calm by Benjamin Moore)!

Now…let’s start with a quick snapshot of the before & after, so you know what kind of changes I’m talking!

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Eyebrow Threading in Chicago: Where to Go

Eyebrow Threading in Chicago: Where to Go

Since I can remember, my brows have been out of control. There was a point where I had an eyebrow…that’s right, eyebrow singular. Let’s just say ages 11-14 were my rough years. The photos I have from this period are frightening…to put things into perspective, my eyebrows were the least of my worries. I didn’t know how to manage my curly hair, I had a mustache (this was pre-waxing days), there was a lot going on.

I didn’t attempt cleaning up my eyebrows until 7th grade, and it was LONG overdue. They still were insanely thick, but at least I split them into two caterpillars vs. one. Baby steps. By freshman year of high school, I had discovered the miracle of eyebrow threading. I don’t know why I didn’t consider waxing initially, perhaps because waxing would not have done the job? I can’t recall, but either way, threading was the best discovery I ever made. In fact, I still do it to this day.

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An Affordable Modern Barn Door

An Affordable Modern Barn Door

From the moment we moved into our house back in November, we knew that we needed to get some sort of door for our guest bedroom. Even though there’s a flight of stairs separating the bedroom from the main floor, we wanted people to at least feel like they have SOME privacy when they stay with us. At the entrance of the stairway, we have a massive opening that’s much larger than the standard doorway. That said, getting a normal door was out the window. Leo then had the brilliant idea of putting a barn door there – we had enough space on the right side to allow for a sliding door. It was the perfect solution!

We fell in love with the modern doors at Rustica, but couldn’t get ourselves to pull the trigger on a $2K+ door (we needed a custom size and that drastically increased the price). The other option was getting one at Home Depot or Lowe’s, but they didn’t have that modern look we were hoping for or the color palette we had in mind. Both Leo and I wanted a rustic look but with a modern edge, otherwise it wouldn’t mesh with the rest of the house. This one we found on Etsy couldn’t be more perfect, and they nailed the color too! We wanted a grey distressed color that would make our floor & walls pop (& goes really well with our sputnik light). You can shop the hardware & barn door we bought here – custom made barn door, Etsy | barn door hardware, Home Depot.

PS – remember the dresser in our hallway from my DIY post? It’s looking even better now with the hallway additions!

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My Spring Bucket List

My Spring Bucket List

It’s so refreshing to be out and about the last few weeks. I’m officially out of hibernation! I even left the house without a jacket on a couple of days last week. I find it so liberating to not have to match a jacket with my outfit (#firstworldproblems)! Bottom line is, I love spring because it means warmer weather is on the way. Here in Chicago, it’s the time of year when you actually start seeing other humans that live in the city. Where were these people all winter? Likely hiding under blankets on their sofas like everyone else.

I like to put together a “bucket list” for each season (except I realized that I didn’t do one for winter, probably because the last thing I want to do is leave my house when it’s 15 degrees out – haha). Here’s what I have on my list this spring!

PS – this pic is from summer 2 years ago – I forgot how short my hair was!

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Monday Mindfulness

Monday Mindfulness

I can’t believe it’s already April! I’ve been in good spirits the last few days because we had a weekend of beautiful weather here, after two weeks of nonstop rain. It’s amazing how much weather can impact your mood and outlook. The gloomy days were really getting to me, and I found myself being negative and just not motivated. I knew it was happening, and I felt like I couldn’t get myself out of that funk. I’m glad I got a taste of warmer weather…I’m starting to feel like myself again!

The last month or two, I’ve tried to become more mindful of my emotions, and what triggers both negative & positive emotions for me. I know for a fact that the weather was one thing that was bringing me down. Knowing this was happening, I tried to do more of what makes me happy. Working out, cooking, spending time friends & family. I realized that something as small as hearing an old song that brought me back to a happy place could change my day. I know it sounds trivial, but it’s so true!

I’m also trying to focus on giving off positive vibes and surrounding myself with those who do the same. I realized how important it is be around people that make me happy. Now that I’m older & wiser, it’s much easier for me to identify unhealthy relationships in my life. I’m consciously spending more time around those who make me a better person, and also (for the first time in a long time) letting new people in. Here are a few articles around the web that inspired me the last month –

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