cornflake dreams.


summer favorites.

hello there -- I hope you're having a wonderful summer! I've been busy with the boss lady (Vi) at the library, park, and bike rides on the weekend. We've had playdates with friends and visits from grandparents, uncles, and cousins. I am loving every minute of it -- but miss this space!! So I thought I'd share a few things that I am loving lately:
beauty picks- My hairbrush that I've owned for over ten years broke a few weeks ago, and I considered splurging on this iconic brush -- but then I found a much cheaper alternative. The Sephora gloss dual boar paddle brush has a ton of great reviews and I love the mix of nylon pins and boar bristles. So far every time I use it my hair feels really shiny -- beauty experts recommend brushing your hair daily with a boar bristle brush to release natural oils.

I finally threw away my old eyelash curler and upgraded to the Shiseido eyelash curler (also here) and it is sooo good. I think curling your lashes makes a huge difference and it's the one beauty tool that I'd never want to give up. This curler is easy to use, it doesn't pinch and my lashes stay curled for hours.

I'm kind of obsessed with Smith & Cult Nail Polish -- they are a formulated without the five main toxic ingredients found in most traditional nail polishes (read more about that here). I'm slowly trying to replace all of my old nail polish (which I'm pretty sure are expired anyways) for safer alternatives. I have (and love) these red and pink polishes: Kundalini HustlePsycho Candy, and Pillow Pie
read and watch- I take Violet to the library at least twice a week, so I finally picked up a few books to read myself. Attachments by Rainbow Row was a really sweet, quick read about an unlikely office romance. Modern Lovers by Emma Straub is about a small group of friends and former college bandmates who reflect on growing up and getting older. Straub is also the author of The Vacationers my favorite book last summer. And if you are even a little bit a feminist and/or raising a daughter consider reading Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein -- it was a pretty eye opening look at the princess culture and little girls. also watch: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - I'm not sure why it took me so long to get onboard with this show, but it's HILARIOUS. H liked it too and it didn't take us long to finish the first season.  

baby favorites- Vi has been wearing her Salt Water Sandals all summer. These leather sandals are sturdy enough for her to run around outside and in the playground. They can also be worn in water, so they are perfect for summer splash pads.  (I also like this style). I'm so happy we started riding bikes again on the weekends (YAH!!) and we love the iBert bike seat for Violet. She tolerates her helmet and seems to like to go for a ride around our neighborhood -- especially if we stop at a park for her to play. 
Nordstrom picks - The #nsale picks are probably flooding your inbox, but I love online shopping just as much as the next blogger so here are my favorites: 

I need to stock up on more sweaters for Fall and Winter -- I like this this basic one (paired with a plaid blanket scarf), this cozy cardigan, and this soft cashmere sweater (under $100). These slippers are going on my Christmas wish list. I already have this tee in a few colors but I'm tempted to buy a few more (I like this one too!). These suede booties are perfect for Fall. And I really like the simplicity and the price tag of this bag. I really should buy a new warm winter coat -- but I wish I could get by with something lighter (this one reminds me of the cocoon coat at j crew).

As for workout gear -- everyone has great things to say about these leggings. This pullover has a cute scoop back (more colors here), and I like the color of these sneakers.

There are a few good beauty items on sale too -- including my favorite eyeliner and an eye shadow set with pretty bronze colors. 

What are you loving this summer?


birthday wish list.

Ok I know I said I was going to take a blogging break, but when your husband asks you what you want for your birthday you make an exception and do a little wish list post :)
I'll be honest it was kind of hard for me to come up with a list of things I wanted for my birthday this year. These days I find myself more focused on Violet and things I want to do for her -- I guess that's being a mom right?!  But I guess there are a few things that I've had my eye on lately... 

I recently purchased a new record player, so I really need a place for it -- I'd love another 2x2 for our living room. I also think this silver mirror tray would be perfect for our dresser in our master bedroom. And I've been searching for the perfect summer tan crossbody bag forever -- this one is really cute. These books are on my summer reading list: when breath becomes air modern lovers - we should all be feminists - the girls. And I'd love some of my favorite beauty products that I rarely buy for myself: smith & cult diary of a beauty junkie nail polish set - shiseido eyelash curlerand whish shaving cream. Of course no birthday is complete without cake, and I'm already craving chocolate cake from Portillo's!



summer break + link love.

Hello there! The weeks have flown by since we moved back to Illinois, and we've been keeping busy with family and friends. It's been so much fun taking Violet to the library, and the park, and she loved visiting the DuPage and Chicago Children's Museums, Blackberry Farm, and Brookfield Zoo. I almost forgot how wonderful summers in the Midwest are, and my baby won't be little forever -- so I want to soak up every minute I can with Violet. She is such a curious toddler and I love taking her to new places. And I don't want to spend that time worrying about blogging, so I've decided to take a little break for summer. I might pop in here and there, but for now I'm going to focus on enjoying summer with my baby boss and the warm weather while it lasts!
Here are a number of links and things that I've been loving lately:
Feel good travel destinations 
- I wish we visited Asheville, NC when we lived in South Carolina - it looks so beautiful!
- I'll be checking out this list for kid friendly activities in Chicago
- I love the concept behind Naja - a luxury line of lingerie that empowers female employees, contributes to charities, and is eco-friendly. The line offers nude underwear for all skin tones and beautiful bras (I want this bralette!) AND if all of that wasn't enough Gina Rodriguez is a co-founder! 
- I just started reading this book and this one is next on my list
- Beautiful wanderlust instagram accounts to follow
- Vi really loves this book and this play house
mmmmm best new burgers
- I bought this adorable two-piece romper set for a friend. hello #babyfever !!


natural beauty products hits and misses.

Ever since I became a mom I've become more conscious about the things that we eat as a family -- more produce and less processed foods. And I've decided to make major changes in my beauty routine after I read this on Beautycounter's website:

"The United States has not passed a major federal law to regulate the safety of ingredients used in personal care products since 1938. The European Union has spent the past two decades banning or restricting more than 1,300 ingredients, the US has only banned 11 to date."  

Crazy right?! So I drank the kool-aid and I tried a number of natural beauty products in the past few months, and some were great and the others were total flops. But before you read my review here's are 10 ingredients and chemicals that I am trying to avoid: Parabens, Synthetic colors, Fragrance, Phthalates, Triclosan, Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), Formaldehyde, Toluene. See more about these toxic ingredients HERE.


Beautycounter - Their mission is "to get safer products into the hands of everyone."  Beautycounter has a full line of skin care, makeup, bath and body, and baby/kids products. I purchased the Body Collection and I loved two of the products in the set (see below for the second part of my review). The hydrate everyday body lotion is a bestseller and it's one of my favorite body lotions. It has a great light citrus scent, and it works well to moisturize my skin without being greasy. I also like the everyday body wash which has the same natural citrus mimosa scent. It lathers well and it's hydrating.
Tata Harper - This is my favorite natural beauty line, with 100% natural and organic ingredients. I purchased the Tata Harper Skincare Daily Essentials Set so I could try a number of products at a reasonable price. So far I love the Regenerating CleanserRejuvenating Serum, and Reparative Moisturizer. I wash my face with the Cleaner, and then apply the Serum and Moisturizer afterwards. Everything smells great, and my skin looks bright and feels really clean and moisturized.
Whish Shave CreamThis line is all natural, paraben free, sulfate free, TEA & DEA free, and petrochemical free. I first tried Whish products two years ago for a review post and they are still one of my favorite brands for shaving cream. I never get razor burn or irritation when I use this line, and it comes in a ton of great scents (almond and pomegranate are my favorite).

Tom's of Maine Long Lasting Deodorant in apricot - This was the third natural deodorant I tried (see below for the other two). I was ready to give up, and I was very reluctant to try Tom's because I read a really bad review about it on Cup of Jo. But I loved this deodorant! It's the only one that kept me smelling pleasant all day long and kept my armpits dry. I also love that it was the cheapest option I tried -- under $5!


Beautycounter Clean Everyday Shampoo and Conditioner - I was NOT a fan of Beautycounter's hair products. As a busy mom I don't wash my hair everyday, but when I used these products I had to or else my hair would get very greasy and gross... which has never happened to me the day after a shower! Thankfully Beautycounter has a great return policy and I was able to return the products I didn't like.

PiperWai Natural Deodorant- You have to apply this deodorant on with your fingers, which I didn't think would be a big deal. But trying to get ready in the morning with a one-year old running around my bedroom throwing out everything out of drawers I quickly realized the convenience of a roll on deodorant is not something I want to give up. Using your fingers to apply the product also made it difficult to know if your whole armpit area was covered. Application aside, the product also didn't work for me -- after a few hours it felt like it wore off and my armpits didn't feel dry. 

L'OrĂ©al EverPure Repair & Defend Shampoo + Conditioner - I received these products free from Influenster. They are sulfate and paraben free which I totally appreciate -- but they had a really weird smell and I couldn't get past that. Plus they didn't leave my hair feeling very soft.

LaVanila Deodorant - I was soo excited to try this deodorant because it received a ton of rave reviews, and I liked the packaging. I tried it out for two weeks to give my body time to adjust to a new product. The deodorant worked to control body odor, but my pits always felt wet which wasn't very pleasant. In the end it wasn't worth the $14 price tag.

What natural products are you loving lately? 

p.s. I have a review post for Honest products that I loved and didn't love.


lilac season.

It's lilac season in the midwest! Lilacs are my favorite flowers and I really missed them when we lived in Charleston. Our current house has two large lilac bushes in the yard, and they smell amazing! Our bushes have light purple flowers, but I love seeing a variety of purple and white lilacs when I walk around the neighborhood. Here are a few lilac inspired shopping picks:
I would love to have a lilac painting for our bedroom so I could have flowers in the house year-round. I love this crossbody bag -- the color is so light and feminine. This a-line floral dress would be perfect for a summer wedding or party. H occasionally wears pastels, so I think he could totally pull off a lilac diagonal striped tie. Vi won't tolerate headbands anymore (so sad), but her hair is getting long so I'd like to try hair clips. I'm also loving this ballerina inspired swimsuit, bear hoodie, and ruffle shorts -- all in pretty shades of purple. Anthropologie and Candlefish in Charleston sells Lulie Wallace tin candles and the lilac scent is an obvious favorite. Jcrew has some fun lilac pieces for my closet: 3" chino shortscece suede ballet flats, and st. james slouchy lilac and navy stripe shirt (because you can never have too many stripes!) And finally the 'English Lavender' and 'Fancy' butter london nail polishes would be a great mani/pedi combo for summer.

Are you a lilac fan?

p.s. from the archives: a lilac post from 2011!


life + loving lately.

hello from Illinois!! We moved back last week and we're settling into our new home. We spent a solid week unpacking and if I'm honest there are still a few I'm struggling to put away (mostly frames!) But we are LOVING being back in Illinois. We've seen a lot of family already (my parents, my two brothers and their families, my grandparents, my uncle and his family, H's dad, and one of my best friends and her son!). Violet has had the best time playing with her cousins. Our neighborhood is really family friendly with a park and library within walking distance. And I finally got a new car (!!) and IKEA is less than 20 minutes away (trouble). We already bought a new dresser for our bedroom and some bookshelves for the living room. They are perfect! Here are a few other things that I'm loving lately: 
pineapple candle - The ceramic pineapple is adorable and available in white, pink and yellow. The candle inside smells great too! After the candle is gone I want to reuse the container to store jewelry. 

nashville is my latest tv addiction. yes, I know I really need to start reading more books. any suggestions?!

gingham bikini top + bottom - I already have a navy bikini bottom, so I'm tempted to buy a new bikini top for summer. I love this gingham print!

mini saddle bag - I'm still in diaper bag everyday territory but I would like a small crossbody bag for the occasional date nights and lunches with my girls.

and for baby: 
heart sunnies - Violet always plays with my sunglasses so I'd love to get her a pair of her own -- and how can you resist those heart frames?! 

lemon flutter swimsuit - I love the lemon print on this suit! It would look adorable on Vi.

cloud pillow - #IKEAdoesitagain and the perfect addition to Violet's nursery!



Charleston, SC favorites.

I found myself looking through my Charleston photos the other night, and I got really sentimental. I feel incredibly lucky that we got to live in such a beautiful city. Downtown Charleston is full of so much charm and history. And some of my favorite memories are of walking around downtown with H when I was pregnant -- and later with Violet getting lost looking at old houses and gardens. I can't wait to come back and visit with Violet so I can show her the city where she was born, and visit all of my favorite spots.
I would encourage anyone who wants to visit a walkable, friendly, and beautiful city to visit Charleston, South Carolina. Below are my favorite things to do and places to eat - Enjoy :)

My favorite things to do downtown:
WALK! It's the best way to really explore downtown and get a good look at all of the historic homes and beautiful gardens. Don't miss all the pretty homes along Rainbow Row!

White Point Garden (the Battery) — This landmark park has a great view of the Charleston Harbor and some of most impressive mansions in the city. There are monuments, statues, and war relics all over the park including canons from the Civil War. I love the white gazebo in the center of the park -- it would be the perfect place for a small wedding or family photos.

City Market — This is a pretty touristy spot, but it's worth visiting at least once. The four-block market is full of local artisans and vendors, and it's a good place to grab a souvenir or a sweet treat.

Waterfront Park — This is my favorite park and where you'll find the famous pineapple fountain and swings (!!) overlooking the water.

Shop on King Street — You'll find lots of major retail shops on this street: Louis Vuitton, Kate Spade, JCrew, Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, West Elm... and also some great local stores: Candlefish (the best place to shop for candles and gifts!), Sugar Snap Pea, and Pink Chicken (both cute places to find gifts and clothes for children), Candy Shop Vintage (beautiful jewelry!). Bonus: If you visit on the second Sunday of the month don't miss Second Sunday (1-5PM), the city shuts down car traffic on King Street to allow shoppers to walk on the street without cars and there are usually street musicians and food vendors.

Charleston Farmer's Market — Charleston has an impressive Farmer's Market on Saturdays 8-2PM (April - late November) at Marion Square (King + Calhoun Street). You can shop for produce, flowers, arts and crafts and there are lots of great breakfast and lunch vendors.

Visit a Plantation — Charleston has a number of historic plantations within driving distance of downtown. My favorites are Middleton Place, Magnolia Plantation and gardens and Boone Hall.

Walk (or bike!) the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge — The famous white bridge is a great way to get a little exercise while you take in views of the water and the downtown peninsula.

Visit the beach! Sullivan's Island Beach and Folly Beach are two of my favorites. There is a long pier at Folly Beach which is perfect for fishing or people watching. Sullivan's Island is less touristy, so it has less of a "beach town" feel, but it has beautiful beach homes nearby. 

Favorite places to eat downtown:

Bull Street Gourmet And Market — This is H's favorite lunch spot! They also have a breakfast/brunch menu. My parents love the almond french toast and I always order the "Mozz" sandwich (marinated tomatoes, vine-ripe tomato, walnut pesto, balsamic reduction, ciabatta roll).

Callie's Hot Little Biscuit — I'm pretty obsessed with this TINY spot. It’s on upper King street and they have really good fiery, spicy pimento cheese biscuits and cinnamon biscuits. Prepare to wait in a long line during peak hours. 

Caviar & Bananas — This neighborhood gourmet market and cafe is located on the College of Charleston campus (there's another location in the City Market). They have the BEST avocado toast and a really good caprese panini. 

Cupcake Down South — I've loved this cupcake shop for years. They have a ton of sweet flavors -- my favorites are Lemon Blu and Southern Red Velvet.

Poogan's Porch — This cute little restaurant on Queen Street is inside an old house. It is a great brunch spot with delicious cinnamon french toast (and free biscuits -- yah!) It's also a nice place for a smancy dinner.

Queen Street Grocery — This is my favorite sandwich shop and probably our most visited restaurant while we lived in Charleston -- it's a great spot for a casual lunch. I always order the Happy Houdini sandwich (ham, avocado, goat cheese + red onions on ciabatta bread). 

Verde — If you're in the mood for a salad, this is a fast, casual spot where you can make your own. There are a ton of toppings and something for everyone. It's right on King street, making it the perfect spot to stop for a quick lunch. 

and the surrounding areas: 

The Americano (Mount Pleasant) — This restaurant has a fun 1960's Miami decor and the best Cuban sandwich and steak tacos I've ever had. It looks like a fun place for drinks too! 

Crust Woodfire Pizza (James Island) — This pizza place is in a strip mall next to a great independent movie theater, so it's a great date night spot. But back to the pizza -- it's really good and they use super fresh and unique ingredients. 

Poe’s Tavern (Sullivan's Island) — This is my favorite burger place, and we visited a LOT when I was pregnant! The restaurant is in an old house decorated with tons of Edgar Allan Poe stuff. It's a fun spot to visit after or before a day at the beach (which is only two blocks away).

White Duck Taco (James Island) — A restaurant with JUST tacos is such a fun concept and they offer lots of interesting options on their menu like Banh Mi Tofu, Duck with Mole, Thai Peanut Chicken and my favorite Lamb Gyro.

If you ever decide to visit Charleston and you have any questions about the city please don't hesitate to email me!