reading: i just finished the husband's secret by liane moriarty & i LOVED it! i downloaded a sample of it on my iphone, and couldn't wait for the amazon order to come in, so i downloaded it on my phone/ipad. i usually prefer to read books in their original paper form, but when it's on my phone, i can sneak in a few chapters when i have unexpected downtime during my day. i went through this book pretty quickly, and it kept me guessing until the end. i highly recommend it!

watching: boardwalk empire!!! chester and i really liked this 4th season, and the finale last night was pretty crazy! sad at some parts, as usual, but i won't say anything else about it for those you haven't seen it yet. i'm also watching hostages, new girl, the mindy project, and scandal! i loved the last episode of scandal! so good.

listening to: various playlists on spotify, lorde's album on repeat, aaaaand some christmas music on 93.9 fm. i can't help it. it makes my road rage less severe, hahaha.

looking forward to: spending the thanksgiving holiday with my family back at my parents' house this weekend. hopefully scoring a decent amount of goose island's bourbon county stout on black friday. that's the only *outside the house* black friday shopping that i'm participating in. lots of reading. lots of crafting. :)

what have you been up to currently? i'd love to know!

current beauty loves of fall 2013

i always love when fellow bloggers post about their favorite skincare/makeup items. i'm not sure why i'm so interested in knowing what other people are using, but it's fun to discover new products and learn why they have become a favorite to someone. these are some beauty items that i'm loving right now:

1. real techniques expert face brush - i forget where i heard about this brush (surely a beauty vlogger), but i liked how it claims to create a flawless application with cream or liquid foundations. i have combination/oily skin (mostly oily), so i've always stuck to the powder foundations like bare minerals. and while i still love to use those, i have grown to love the rimmel bb cream (#4), and i really like using this brush to apply it. i am able to get a much smoother finish vs. using my fingers.

2. real techniques blush brush - after falling in love with the expert face brush, i decided to pick up this blush brush as well. it's really fluffy, and makes applying powder blushes super easy.

3. NYX studio perfect photo-loving primer - i really like smashbox's photo finish primer, but it's just a little too expensive to keep up with. this primer by NYX is really similar, and i usually pick it up when NYX products go on sale at ulta.

4. rimmel BB cream - so this BB cream claims to be a 9-1 miracle cream. i'm not really sure if i agree, and i don't find it to be mattifying, but i do love how it evens out my skin tone. i'm between light & medium, so i just mix them together before applying with the expert face brush (#1). once applied, i set it with powder to achieve more of a matte finish.

5. jordana twist & shine balm stain in "terra crave" - jordana products are very affordable, but unfortunately really hard to find in my area. i heard a lot of buzz about their new balm stains, and picked up "terra crave" when i spotted it at walgreens. it's a really beautiful color, and the stain lasts for a good while. not as long as the marker stains, but i love that these balm stains are really moisturizing.

6. rimmel stay matte pressed powder - i picked up the transparent shade and keep it in my purse for touch-ups during the day.

7 - 8. revlon colorstay lacquer lip balms in "coy" & "enticing" - these balms have been the latest craze in this style of lip color, and really hard to find. i picked up these at ulta not too long ago. the colors are gorgeous, "coy" being my favorite fall/winter lip color. at first i was a little disappointed that the color didn't last a long time on my lips, but after reading the packaging again, it didn't claim to be a balm stain, so i can't fault it for that. and they are really moisturizing.

9. blistex medicated lip balm - so this isn't a newly discovered product, but one that i repurchased with winter in full swing around here. i've always loved this balm, and keep some in my purse, at my work desk, and on my nightstand. it's perfect to apply with a stain, since those tend to be more drying than other lip products.

so that's what i've been loving in the world of beauty products! what have you been loving lately?


well i've certainly gone a looooong time without blogging… as usual, it was an unexpected break, and while i had a lot of things i wanted to share, i never made the time to post about them. so here's an abbreviated version of what's been happening around here.

my college friend laura got married on october 19th and had a halloween themed wedding!!! it was so much fun, and everyone went all out on costumes. chester and i went as a bear and goldilocks, and i borrowed his bear coat to wear at work on halloween :) it was a big hit.

we got to see the stanley cup! it made an appearance at a restaurant back in rockford, and my dad invited us girls along. unfortunately my sister couldn't make it, so chester came in her place.

at the beginning of november, we visited our friends denny and krystina in orange county for a super quick weekend trip. it went by way too fast, as it always does, but it was really fun. i'm kicking myself for not taking more photos, but sometimes it happens.

and lastly, the kelly family, along with our handsome dates, attended a family friend's wedding on november 9th.

sorry for being absent from this blog for so long! there have been posts i've wanted to draft up, so hopefully i can get a few up in the next week or so. thanks for stopping by!

trip to the zoo

last sunday, chester and i joined our friends for a trip to brookfield zoo. i can't even remember the last time i was at the zoo, and we had a perfect fall day for it. 

my favorites were probably the snow panthers, a mother and her little one, pictured above. ^

hope you all have a great weekend! my friend from college is getting married tomorrow, and get this.... it's a halloween themed wedding! be sure to follow me on instagram for some great photos.

lucy rose at schuba's tavern

lucy rose played an amazing show at schuba's tavern last night! chester and i were right up in front by the stage, and it was such an incredible experience. we were even lucky enough to chat with her a bit afterwards :D she is super sweet, and i cannot wait to see her again.

one of my favorite songs off her latest album is "gamble". she originally wasn't going to play it (i could actually see the set list and was bummed when it wasn't on there), but a girl in the crowd pleaded with lucy to play it, and she did! she sang it by herself, and was a little emotional towards the end, but it was so incredibly beautiful. if you haven't heard it yet, be sure to watch this version below.

hope you all are having a good week! it's almost friday :)


hello! i just wanted to share some photos of what i've been up to lately. pretty much a lot of beer events...

goose island's urban block party. way more organized (and fun) than their 25th anniversary party. many tasty BCS's were consumed.

goose island's oktoberfest. unfortunately i didn't take many photos at the event, but it was really fun! got to try some rare barrel aged stouts and i really liked bourbon county brand barley wine.

the whole family enjoying the new glarus oktoberfest in WI. the new glarus brewery has to be one of my favorites. there's a huge garden area where you can walk around, sample beer, and eat some awesome pizza. and the festival in downtown new glarus was pretty cool! we got some great souvenir glasses (pictured above). it was really nice for chester & i to spend the weekend with my parents, my sister and her boyfriend.

although the guys weren't super excited to stop anywhere on the way back to chicago, sarah and i thought it was necessary to swing by edwards apple orchard. sarah and i have been going to edwards every fall since we can remember, and it's always a good time. the place gets packed every single weekend, but we were able to swing by the store for some apples and the famous apple cider donuts (!!!), and get a few photos in pretty quick before they closed.

october is looking to be pretty busy, although we currently don't have any beer events to attend.... waaahhh. lol. but i'm super excited for all of the fall things! and halloween! damn, i just love halloween. haha.

hope you all are having a great week so far!


enjoying the last beach day // our company canoe trip (video here) // belgian fest 2013 // flights at pig minds

soo, it's been quite a while since i was back here. sorry about that! i've kept pretty busy, enjoying the last bit of summer here before fulling embracing the fall. who am i kidding, i was ready for fall about a month ago, haha. i was so glad to finally enjoy a day at the beach this summer (right before labor day), and we had some awesomely hot weather for our annual c22 canoe trip. chester and i have been enjoying our beers on the weekends, and stopped by pig minds back home while visiting my parents last weekend. it's been a fun month or so! and here's what i've been up to more recently.

reading: i finally finished the spectacular now! although i wasn't blown away by the ending, i did like the book a lot. i'm curious to see how it translated to the movie screen. i have a few books to choose from to start reading now, but i'm always looking for suggestions if anyone has any!

watching: um, boardwalk empire! i am so excited that it's back! and i really liked this last season of the newsroom. i hope it comes back for a 3rd season. i'm glad that the mindy project and new girl are back as well. looks like there will be a lot of new shows premiering this fall, and i'll probably watch about 90% of them. haha.

listening to: i'm diggin the new september mixtape from Did YHTN. i've also created a fall playlist on spotify, if you'd like to check that out.

looking forward to: all of the things! chester and i are going to goose island's block party tomorrow. i'm really excited about trying some of the BCS's on tap. we're going to goose island again next friday for their oktoberfest, then we'll join my family up in wisconsin for the new glarus oktoberfest next saturday. stout season is going to start soon, so i'm sure chester and i will be going to a lot of beer events. we're seeing lucy rose at schubas on the 2nd. her album just became available in the U.S. this week. be sure to check it out if you haven't yet. we also just scored tickets to see william fitzsimmons at schubas in november! i cannot wait!

loving: trader joe's multiseed soy sauce rice cakes. yup. soy sauce! they are pretty tasty. i also found some roasted & salted marcona almonds at trader joe's that taste EXACTLY like the ones we ate in italy! whenever you ordered a drink they always brought you a bowl of chips or nuts, and those almonds are the best! i'm also loving the cooler weather we've been getting here. i need to start crocheting! aaaaand after 2 more payments, my honda fit is officially mine. just in time for christmas shopping. it's really perfect timing.

i hope you all have a great weekend! xoxo

california vacation

a couple weekends ago chester and i spent 4 lovely days in southern california - orange county & los angeles to be exact. our friends denny & krystina moved out to orange county in april of 2012, and we were really excited for them to show us around their "new" area. my good friend tim moved out to LA in july of 2012, and it was nice seeing his new 'hood too.

we checked out the thousand step beach in laguna, an awesome brewey (called the bruery) in the OC, the hollywood walk of fame in & the griffith observatory in LA (where we met up with another good friend Dan), and the elliott smith wall in silverlake. the wall had recently been touched up, and it was really cool to see.

we had such a fabulous time, and we are already planning our next trip out there! hopefully we can escape the midwest winter for a few days next year. :)

1,000 step beach in laguna // hollywood walk of fame // legit moscow mule // at the beach // at the griffith observatory

view from griffith observatory // driving in LA // krystina & i // chester & i with denny & tim

hot tubbing // elliot smith wall in silverlake // photo booth at the bruery tasting room


watching: the third season of the killing ended a few weeks ago, and i think i liked that season the best out of all three. i'm really loving this season of the newsroom too! the whole genoa storyline is fascinating to watch unfold. and i love how i like don so much after he and maggie split. after browsing hulu's suggestion on series i should watch, i started watching durham county. i'm liking it a lot so far, and i've noticed quite a few actor overlaps with the killing. there are only 3 seasons of the show, so i'll probably finish that up in time for boardwalk empire!!!! i cannot wait! chester and i have also been watching deadwood. he and his dad watched the series when it aired on hbo, so it came highly recommended. i'm diggin' it so far.

reading: so i ordered even more books since last posting a currently post, and i haven't finished anything yet, haha. i blame amazon now accepting my credit card points directly. i've started "island of lost girls", and while it's interesting, it's not as gripping as i was hoping it would be right off the bat. but i'm not giving up just yet. i'm also reading "the spectacular now" and i really like it so far. i'm hoping to finish it soon and see the movie before it's out of the theaters.

listening to: chester sent me this video of the staves's crypt session, and i was blown away. so i've been listening to them a lot, along with rosie june & folly and the hunter (first band that spotify suggested and i actually clicked on, haha). chester and i have tickets to see lucy rose in october, and i cannot wait to hear her sing this!

thinking about: just how incredible this summer has been. chester and i have been lucky enough to take a couple long weekend trips, and had some really fun times with our friends. plus, this summer was kicked off with the trip of a lifetime with my family. i've been so lucky to have had the time and resources to make this summer one for the books.

looking forward to: going to the beach with friends this weekend, hopefully getting one last pool day in before it closes, goose island's belgian fest & of course the renegade craft fair!

hope you all are having a great week! until next time...

mumford & sons for the win

i've mentioned on here before that i'm a pretty big mumford & sons fan. their latest album is fantastic, and i've really liked the music videos that they have released along with it. this is probably my favorite though, and you'll know exactly why when you see it. absolutely brilliant.

lake cora getaway

last week, chester and i joined a handful of our friends in michigan to celebrate our friend jorie's 27th birthday. we stayed in an incredible lake house for 3 nights, and spent most of our days on lake cora. it was only about 2 hours away from home, but it was the perfect getaway. i really hope we'll be able to make it back there before the summer is over. below are a few photos from the week, brought to you by my iphone (with my handy lifeproof case) and the fabulous vsco cam app:


ahhh, summertime :)

watching: i've been at a bit of a loss since game of thrones ended, but i have gotten back into the latest season of the killing. it's pretty good so far, although last night's episode had me less excited about the season. eh, we'll see what happens. i do love detective holder... he's so hot! i'm super pumped for the newsroom to come back next sunday! i love love love that show.

reading: i ordered some "pool" books from amazon last week, and "into the darkest corner" almost didn't make it to the pool! i finished it in a week, which is a record for me, and it was amazing. i couldn't put it down! and it did freak me out a bit when trying to go to sleep, haha. i also received "the fault in our stars", which i've heard amazing things about, but i'm thinking that one will not come to the pool with me (don't want to be a crying mess out there, haha). my friend lent me "i've got your number" last week, and i'm looking forward to that one as well.

listening to: the new did you hear the new mixtape for june 2013. they always put out amazing monthly mixes, and this one is one of my favorites! i also can't seem to get enough of the new daft punk album, and this song! gotta love it. i have a summer playlist on spotify too, if you want to check that out.

excited about: all of our plans for the rest of the summer! a week from this wednesday, chester and i will join our friends in michigan for my friend jorie's birthday. we are staying three nights at her lake house, and i cannot wait! it's going to be a lot of fun. in august (exactly a month from today), chester and i are going to california for a long weekend :D we'll stay with some good friends that moved there last april, and i'm excited for them to show us around. we'll be able to catch up with a few other friends who have moved to the west coast, and it will be so nice to see them.

loving: my lifeproof case that i received for my birthday in may! last summer i reviewed the photojojo scuba suit for the iphone. the first case they sent me was defective, but they quickly replaced it and i enjoyed using it at the pool. BUT the reason i bought the case was for our cancun trip last september. as soon as i went to clip in the bottom piece, one of the plastic clips broke. at the very beginning of the trip! i was pissed, and wasn't interested in another replacement at that point. the customer service was stellar as always, and i received a full refund. i had heard such great things about the lifeproof case, and i have to say that it works like a charm. i bring it to the pool (the image above was taken in the pool this weekend), and i'm excited to use it up at the lake. it's definitely worth the $80, in my opinion.

so that's about it! hope you all had a great holiday weekend! 

italy vacation: venice

the last leg of our trip was spent in venice. the first day we walked around the downtown area with no real plans... just tried to soak it all in. st. mark's square is beautiful at night, with all of the classical musicians playing outside various restaurants, and even the little light up toys that soared into the sky (that guys tried to sell to tourists) added to the beauty of it all. kind of like fireflies :)

the second day we took the water taxi to the islands of murano, burano, and san michele. murano is known for their beautiful handblown glass. the rose covered doorway below was my favorite sight on the island. burano is known for their lace, and many shops had such beautiful lacework to offer. sarah wanted to stop at san michele, otherwise known as "cemetery island" before heading back to venice. the island is literally a huge cemetery. of course it sounds creepy, and i'm sure it would be at night, but during the day it was beautiful. we walked around most of the island, and stopped to read quite a few gravestones. i swear i felt a strange prick in my pinky finger when i passed one grave, and kept telling myself it was a bug (even though there was no bite mark) until we got back on the boat. haha! i mean, of course it was a bug...

taking the water bus around the islands // beautiful glass in murano // beautiful houses in burano // cemetery island

that evening was our last day/night in venice, and sadly the last night of our trip. we did a little more shopping of course (i had to buy a duffel to fit everything that i wanted to bring home), and we spent the evening in st. mark's square again. it was really bittersweet, but we tried our best to soak it all in.

the next morning we headed to the airport and geared up for our 10 hour flight back to the states. many sleeping aids were involved, and sort of worked, but at least the flight back offered pretty good movies, like one of my favorites, crazy stupid love.

so that was our fabulous italy vacation! hopefully the 4 different posts didn't seem like overkill. it definitely was too much for one post, don't you think? haha.

if you haven't checked them out yet, i uploaded a handful of photos (well, 50) to flickr. there is some overlap with those photos and the ones i share on here, but if you want to check 'em out here's the link.

it's a great time to be a chicago hockey fan!

i wanted to pop in and say how proud i am of the 2013 stanley cup champions, the chicago blackhawks! the final series was intense to say the least, and it really could have gone to either team at any time. both really wanted the cup, and played with everything they had. the boston bruins were a great match, and to be honest, i thought there would be a game 7 for the majority of last night's game. but the blackhawks rallied and clinched the cup in 17 seconds! it was really amazing to watch. congrats chicago!

italy vacation photos: tuscany

from rome we went on to cortona, tuscany. my sister studied in cortona one summer in college and absolutely LOVED it. since then my parents and i wanted to check it out for ourselves :) rome was one of my favorite cities on the trip, and cortona was my other favorite for almost opposite reasons. it's located in the country, and besides the U.S. study abroad program, there weren't many tourists around. i'm really glad sarah had spent time there previously, so we could see the best that the city had to offer.

we went to siena the day after arriving, did a little shopping, and spent the day walking around the downtown area. we stopped by the duomo di siena, and it was the coolest and most unique church that i've ever seen. i called it the "beetlejuice church", lol.

duomo di siena // downtown siena

on our way back we stopped in montepulciano. it was recommended that we buy our wine there, so we tried a few different wines and some amazing cheese at the various shops.

remember the scene in twilight: new moon when bella runs into the doorway before edward reveals himself to the masses in italy? yep, that last photo is me standing in the same doorway, haha!

our last day in tuscany was devoted to enjoying cortona. we did some more shopping, and checked out some great restaurants. the weather finally brightened up towards the end of the day, which was nice. we ventured to the area where my sister stayed while in school, and talked to a few of the students that had just finished their last final.

as soon as i got home, after watching angels and demons i watched under the tuscan sun. again, it was cool to see the various areas around cortona in the movie. we had always loved the ceramic dishes we saw in the movie, and stocked up at the local shop (pictured below). i'm happy to report that all of ceramics made it back safely, haha.

next up is the last leg of our trip, venice. be sure to check out my posts about sicily and rome if you haven't already :)

i uploaded a handful of photos (well, 50) to flickr. there will be some overlap with those photos and the ones i share on here, but if you want to check 'em out here's the link.

italy vacation photos: rome

after sicily, we spent two full days in rome. rome was definitely one of my favorite cities of the trip. it was definitely packed with tourists, but seeing all of the history was unbelievable. it's hard to really grasp the incredible feeling of walking through areas that are thousands of years old. i think it might be because the united states is kind of a young toddler compared to other countries, and the ruins in rome just blew my mind.

when we arrived at the airport, we were picked up by our tour guide alessandro. he had been recommended to us by a friend/travel agent, and he was fantastic! he drove us around to several major spots in the city, and we would have never been able to see everything that we did if we were on foot.  so that was really cool. he kept referencing the movie angel and demons, which was filmed in rome & covered a lot of big sightseeing locations around the city. i watched the movie as soon as i got home and LOVED it, mostly because i recognized all of the locations. i don't know if any of you do this, but i love watching movies filmed in places that i've been. like scenes in the dark knight around chicago, the closing fountain scene of ocean's eleven in vegas, and now i can watch angels and demons and say, "omg! i was standing right there!" please tell me some of you are like this. otherwise my nerd status just hit an all-time high.

here are some photos of what we saw that day:

alessandro kindly showing us around // roman forum // view of rome // outside the pantheon

pantheon // trevi fountain // roman church // roses

the next day was dedicated to exploring vatican city. my family is catholic, so this was a must. we woke up early and went to the vatican museum. we bought tickets ahead of time & avoided the awfully long line, which i would definitely recommend. later that afternoon we went to st. peter's square, and inside the basilica. we also decided to climb the 107 winding stairs of the cupola to view the entire city. at the very top the stairs wind around the dome, and the last set is so narrow that you have to use a hanging rope to keep your balance. that climb was crazy, but it was so worth it. and we earned our gelato for the day.

st. peter's on that stormy morning // laocoon & sons // la pieta // st. peter's basilica

view of rome from the cupola // mailing a postcard at the top // enjoying some drinks afterwards

we were pretty exhausted after that, and decided to see some things later that night. the colosseum being one of them. it was really cool to see it lit up at night, and we spent some time taking photos around the area.

my sister and i had some drinks at a local bar later that night, and the next morning we were off to tuscany. all in all, rome was incredible!

next up in the photo series, tuscany & venice :) check out my sicily post too if you haven't already.

i uploaded a handful of photos (well, 50) to flickr. there will be some overlap with those photos and the ones i share on here, but if you want to check 'em out here's the link.

italy vacation photos: sicily

hey guys, sorry this post/these posts have been a long time coming, it's been a little hard getting back into the routine of things, and blogging has definitely fallen by the wayside. but let's get it started!

a little background on why we visited sicily. maybe we still would have on our own, but a major reason we decided to spend a weekend there was because our family friends were going to be there the same weekend. louie was born in sambuca, and was looking forward to showing us around his hometown. so we flew from chicago to rome, then had a connecting flight to palermo, and drove about an hour to sambuca. we were experiencing some major jet lag, since it's 7 hours ahead of our usual chicago time, but we powered through until the evening. at that point, i think the excitement of being in a new country was helping us out a lot :)

coming from the flat land of illinois, seeing the sicilian landscape of rolling hills was breathtaking! everything was so beautiful!

it was really cool to have our own tour guides in our friends, and their entire family treated us like family, which was so nice. i don't think we would have gotten such an insider/local experience without them. we were able to see some historical sites, we had an authentic home-cooked sicilian meal, and we even had the opportunity to visit a winery while they were having a tasting & offering tours. pretty sweet.

 downtown sambuca // decorations from the festa della madonna di sambuca // ruins

wine tasting

the kelly family with our friends // louie standing outside his childhood home // louie's brother jasper making pizza at his pizza place

it was nice to be in an area of siciliy that wasn't heavily populated with tourists. it did present some language barriers, but it really wasn't bad at all. i would love to go back and spend a full week in samba and some of the neighboring towns. i feel like i can say that about all of the cities that we visited, haha.

i uploaded a handful (well, 50) of photos to flickr a week or so ago. there will be some overlap with those photos and the ones i share on here, but if you want to check 'em out here's the link.

hello hello! i'm back!

selfie in cortona, tuscany ;)

i am back from my italy vacation! actually, i've been back for almost a week, but as soon as i got back i had to fly to florida for work last week. yikes. and the following weekend (last weekend) was pretty packed, so i'm just now getting back into my routine. work is still keeping me really busy, so it might be a few days until i can get all of my photos up here on the blog, but they are all edited! i just have to lay them out and type up the post(s), haha.

i had an amazing time with my family exploring several cities in italy (sambuca, scaccia, palermo, rome, cortona, siena, montepulciano, venice, murano & burano). it was a trip of a lifetime, and i really hope i can go back someday!

hope you all have been well these past couple weeks! i will be back soon! xoxo

i'm still here!

man, so i really thought i'd be able to get in a few posts before this weekend, but that obviously didn't happen :/ work was super busy for these last few weeks, and chester & i had so many weekend plans it was almost overwhelming (but totally fun of course). we attended a handful of craft beer events around the chicago area, joined my sister and he bf in indiana for dark lord day, and celebrated my birthday last weekend (i am officially in the last year of my 20s... whoa).

dark lord day // birthday drinks at the aviary // goose island 25th anniversary block party

i had such a blast for my birthday. i am somehow always blessed with gorgeous weather, which is not anything to rely on in the midwest. chester, my family & my friends made sure the whole weekend was so fun! i'm a lucky, lucky girl :)

tomorrow my family and i leave for our 12 day italy vacation!!!! i spent the majority of last night packing & washing the last bit of clothing i wanted to bring. i'm only doing carry-on luggage, so that has presented quite the challenge, but i've figured it all out and it will definitely be easier when i'm there. i keep reminding myself that i will wash and re-wear some outfits, so that eliminated a lot of bulk off the bat. i was hoping to do a few "what i'm packing" posts before i left, but maybe it will be better to do those when i get back. i mean, i obviously don't have the time to do them now, but at least i can say what i really needed and what i really didn't need. i always love reading those posts around the web. they always help me out.

i will have limited internet access while i'm gone, so i won't be back at this blog until i get back in early june. i will take a TON of photos, and i will share them here as soon as i can! otherwise, be sure to follow me on instagram :)

i hope you all have a wonderful memorial day weekend! xoxo

current loves of spring 2013

i've purchased a handful of skincare/haircare/makeup items since my last current loves post, and wanted to share them here on the blog. below are some products i've been loving lately:

1. the "wet" brush - i first heard of this brush when i saw it reviewed by nouvea cheap a few weeks ago. basically the brush is supposed to do an amazing job of detangling your hair after a shower... hence the name. she did a great job with her review, but i still was a little skeptical of this brush. honestly, it looks like the hair brushes i've been using almost my whole life. when i found out that the wet brush was available at sally beauty, and that i had the option to return it if i didn't like it, i decided to pick it up. and i have to say, that it does an amazing job of detangling my hair after a shower. it has to be the flexible bristles, b/c that is the one main difference i noticed when comparing it to my other brushes. i've noticed that i don't need as much leave-in conditioning spray after a shower as i did before. if you have a sally beauty nearby, i would recommend picking up this brush. and if you don't like it, you can always return it :)

2. clear scalp & hair therapy for damage & color repair - i actually meant to include this on my last current loves post, but totally forgot about it :/ whoops. anyway, i heard about the new clear scalp & hair therapy from one of holly's videos. she raved about how soft her hair was after using the product, and since it was available at my target, i gave it a try. i purchased the color repair shampoo, and i really love how gentle it is on my hair. i also loved how my hair felt when i dried and styled it. i have yet to try the conditioner, but i'm planning on picking that up soon.

3. clarisonic mia 2 - so i finally bit the bullet and bought the clarisonic mia 2. and this was, by far, my biggest beauty purchase in at least a year, if not longer. this cleansing system will set you back anywhere from $120-$150 (yikes!), but almost every skin care post or youtube video i've seen says this is the secret to amazing skin. i have to say that i am liking the clarisonic so far. i only use it at night (instead of in the morning and at night), and my skin definitely feels smoother. the skin on my cheeks and nose has cleared up quite a bit, but i do still get occasional acne breakouts on my chin and in a few spots on my forehead. overall i have seen an improvement, though.

4. revlon just bitten kissable lip balm stain in honey - this is a really pretty pink, perfect for a daytime look. i was afraid that it wouldn't be as pigmented as the red shades in the line, but i was pleasantly surprised with its pigment. it's a really nice color for the approaching spring months.

5. l'oreal true match concealer crayon - i was on the lookout for a new concealer since bare minerals discontinued their powder version of "well-rested" concealer. i LOVED that concealer! i haven't found a new product that is as good as well-rested, but this l'oreal crayon comes pretty close. it's nice and thick, but very blendable. i use it under my eyes, around my nose, and on the occasional blemish. i do set it with a light powder, which helps keep everything in place.

6. NYX powder blush in rose garden - i picked this up at target on a whim, and i absolutely love it. the color is a really good match for my skin tone. when i apply it, it looks like a natural flush on my cheeks. it has the tiniest amount of shimmer to it, which i normally avoid, but it's pretty subtle.

i also wanted to include a few products that i feel "eh" about. i didn't dislike them enough to return them, but they didn't exactly meet my expectations.

1. olay fresh effects bb cream in light to medium - although it's marketed as a bb cream (which to me, i think "more coverage than a tinted moisturizer"), it also says it's a tinted moisturizer, all on the front of the tube. it definitely acts more like a tinted moisturizer than a bb cream. if you're looking for a bb cream with decent coverage, go ahead and skip on this one. i do like it for a moisturizer though, and plan on using it during the summer (under my mineral foundation) since it does have SPF 15.

2. revlon photo ready translucent finisher - i saw this reviewed in many youtube videos, so i wanted to give it a shot. i managed to snag it at ulta for 40% off too. i wanted a powder to use during the summer, so i went for the translucent version since i'm not quite sure how light or dark my skin will be. the coverage is pretty good, but for a translucent powder, it does apply as more like a fair/light powder. however, i just use less of it than i normally would, blending it with a bit of bare minerals foundation, and it looks fine for my skin tone currently. i have a feeling that it will be too light for the summer months, but right now it's working out okay.

3. maybelline color tattoo metal in barely branded - i really like the color tattoo cream shadows, especially "bad to the bronze", so i picked up a newer shade in the metal line called "barely branded". it has the same good coverage, but it's a little too light for my skin tone. i currently use it with a couple different shadows to darken it a bit. as a base, it works great, but i don't think i would wear it on its own. "bad to the bronze" is a much better color for my skin tone.

and there you have it. if you've been on the fence about any of these products, i hope this post helped you out. i hope you all have a great weekend!

xoxo, steph

thoughts on a wednesday night.

i know it's been a looooong time since i blogged (i'm not doing too good this year), but i'm going to try and get a good amount of posts in the next five weeks. i wanted to post some new makeup/haircare/skincare favorites on monday, but after hearing the devastating news about the bombing at the boston marathon, nothing else seemed important... especially sharing my favorites. my best friend summed up a lot of what i was feeling monday night. she said, "the longer i live in this world the less i understand it. i am so sad for the people in boston, and for all the victims and families of the senseless violence we've seen recently. sickening." when things like this happen, i start to lose my faith in humanity. but then i read wise words, like the following quotes, and i know that there are too many good people out there to lose hope in humanity.

i'm sure you've seen these quotes almost everywhere (i have anyway), but i did want to share them in case you didn't see them:

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world."
- Fred Rogers

"... the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago. 

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will."

- Patton Oswalt

i am incredibly grateful for every single one of my blessings. and i do take them for granted sometimes, many times, but i try to remind myself, often, of how lucky i truly am.

in about five weeks my family and i will be embarking on our 10 day italy vacation. after years of talking about it, and spending the better portion of this year planning it, it's finally happening. it still seems surreal. i cannot wait to share the photos with you all when i get back. i'm hoping to squeeze in quite a few posts before that, since a lot is happening in those 5 weeks, but bear with me if i don't quite make that goal.

i'll leave you with one more quote, one of my favorites actually, that helps me in troubling times. if you need it, hopefully it will help you too:

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

xoxo, steph


isn't chester's niece the sweetest? those cheeks just kill me :)

watching: i'm still loving the following. i'm really curious to see how the rest of the season goes. i have a few predictions regarding some main characters... i wonder if i'm right ;)

i also recently became obsessed with scandal thanks to hulu plus. leave it to shonda rhimes to have me rooting for a mistress to get her married ex-boyfriend back. every. single. episode. i just love fitz and olivia together. everyone does, right? ;)

reading: i've actually been pretty bad about picking up a book lately, but i have been reading some fabulous new-to-me blogs like a brunette duet, his little lady, i love you to the moon, & treasures and travels. be sure to check these ladies out if you haven't yet!

listening to: a lot of the lumineers. i can't believe that i just heard the dead sea only a week or so ago! i love that song so much! i also really like the tracks slow it down and stubborn love.

excited about: well, i recently bit the bullet and bought a clarisonic mia 2!  and so far so good :) my skin feels super smooth, and i'm looking forward to balancing/clearing up my skin before summer.

looking forward to: dinner with friends at the girl and the goat next week, dark lord day at the end of april (i still can't believe chester and i got tickets!!), easter with the family, girls night tomorrow, and game of thrones!!!

hope you all have a great weekend! xoxo

st. patty's weekend

hello hello! i hope everyone had a safe and happy st. patrick's day/weekend! here's how we celebrated:

stout fest 2013 at goose island (clybourn location). chester managed to get our tickets before the event sold out in mere minutes. i'm so glad that he did b/c this event was amazing! i've mentioned that i've been getting into different stouts before (here on the blog), and it was really great to taste these new-to-me flavors on tap. here is what i tried:

my favorites were definitely the bourbon county stouts, specifically the blackberry & the apple brandy. i also really enjoyed london fog and d-day. heck, i loved them all! 

are any of you on untappd? trust me, the last thing i need is to be on another social networking app, but chester got me on this one and it's pretty cool. that's where the screen grabs above came from.

i downloaded the dbl cam app last week and tried it out on saturday. it takes a photo from the rear facing camera first, then immediately after it takes a photo from the front facing camera. it's a cool idea, and some of the shots i've seen by other users are pretty cool.

after stout fest and a much needed nap, we headed out to the beer market in vernon hills for my best friend dana's 30th birthday. it ended up being the perfect bar for her party since it wasn't crowded and the people there weren't totally drunk/obnoxious like in most bars this weekend. i picked up this disposable camera at UO and we had fun trying it out. 

we ripped off the cardboard packaging on the camera so each shot would be a surprise. and most of the text lined up awesomely with the photos :)

hope you all had a great weekend!