loving lately.

happy monday! i had a great time this weekend at my friend's wedding -- there was a lot of dancing, drinks, mini-cupcakes and CHEESE. i really love milwaukee! here's a few other things i am loving lately (and my shopping list!): 
LOVING: my tinley road stripped ponte fit and flare dress $69 (i can't wait to pair this with boots and a comfy cardigan this fall). 
-in the land of leather (florence) i somehow managed to come home with a coated canvas louise wallet. #treatyoself ah well, i love it. (especially the two separate credit card storage and snap closure (i'm not a huge fan of zipper wallets bc they take so long to open).
-breaking bad. we binge-watched six episodes on friday night to catch up in time for the finale. i was SO nervous during the entire episode but i am really happy with how they wrapped everything up. 
and i can't get enough of my new go-to "healthy-ish" snacks: dried cherry craisins, cinnamon graham crackers and deep-chocolate chocolate vitatops.

on my SHOPPING LIST: a cozy plaid infinity scarf, classic pieces: a navy peacoat and a rose gold and black cooper watch.

what are you loving lately?!


ps: congratulations to Jamie H, you are the winner of the Minted $100 giveaway!

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minted $100 giveaway and holiday card preview!

fall starts later this week, which means the holiday season will be here before we know it! to celebrate i am collaborating with minted for a $100 gift card giveaway (which give you plenty of time to design custom holiday cards). i'd like to send out minted holiday cards this year and i've narrowed down a few of my favorite designs below. but i need your help, which design is your favorite?! 
which minted card is your favorite?!

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cinque terre: the five lands.

Cinque Terre was postcard pretty. I still can't get over how colorful the five italian villages were. It's a unique place to visit and must see, especially if you want to take a break from the fast pace of larger Italian cities. 

The villages are filled with 3 and 4-story rainbow colored buildings, perched on top of rocky mountains with bright blue ocean swirling below... it was like a dream. We stayed in Vernazza, one of the smaller villages with a tiny "downtown" filled with shops, restaurants and a rocky beach with sun-tanning tourists. There is a train that connects each village together (I recommend taking the train if you don't want to hike between the villages). If you are staying in vernazza, keep in mind that the train goes right downtown (we made the mistake of staying in a hotel right by the station and we had a hard time falling asleep with the train barreling through the mountainside!) 

The next time we visit Cinque Terre, I want to stay in one of the larger villages -- Monterosso al Mare is right by the beach (no tricky steps to walk down) and the beach is lined with gorgeous stripped umbrellas and comfy lounge chairs. I'd also remember to pack things like a bathing suit and light sun dresses :) (I was so concerned about wearing appropriate clothes in italian churches I completely forgot that we were going to visit a beach town!! #fail). If you plan to hike on the trails in the mountains that connect the villages bring proper shoes. sandals won't cut it. AND most importantly, don't forget to get some fresh, hot focaccia bread with a side of salty pesto and RELAX :)
all photos c/o: my husband :) 
Have you visited Cinque Terre?!


roma - part one.

We started our Italian adventure in Rome. 

I've wanted to visit the eternal city ever since i watched Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday with my grandma when I was younger. I have always associated Rome with winding streets, speedy vespas, the Trevi fountain, gelato and the grand Colosseum.  rome did not disappoint -  it was everything I imagined and more! 

On the first two days in the city we visited a lot of major sites: the spanish steps, trevi fountain, pantheon, forum romanum, arch of constantine, monument to vittorio emanuele II and a number of churches. We returned at the end of our trip to visit vatican city and the villa borghese gardens. I couldn't get over how CLEAN and walkable everything was for such a large city. The people were friendly and we didn't have any trouble finding good food (more on that later!) If you visit Italy, you should absolutely make Rome apart of your trip!

all photos were taken by my husband :)

Trip tip: if you are visiting the colosseum pre-order your tickets online, you can print them at home and skip the CRAZY amusement park lines :) 
Have you visited Rome? What were your favorite spots?


international packing tips.

Before I get into Italy recap posts, I thought it would make sense to start from the beginning - packing! I've rounded up all of my travel essentials for an international trip: 

-Start with a great carry-on bag with room for storage. I love my Lo & Son's OMG bag - it has a lot of pockets and zippers to keep valuable safe. I store all of my important papers, jewelry and snacks in this when we travel (in case something happens to my luggage).

-Comfy shoes. seriously. Walking around a city is the BEST way to discover new areas. So don't pack heels and sandals without support if you plan on walking all day, every day. I alternated my croc sexi flip sandals and kandee ballet flats. They are great for traveling because they are lightweight, easy to clean and they don't take up too much room in your suitcase (save the space for souvenirs!)

Bring tennis shoes if you're visiting Cinque Terre and you plan on hiking on the trails that connect the villages. I made the mistake of wearing sandals and it was NOT fun.

-Cardigans or a scarf. Bring them along even in the hot summer months so you can be sure to be respectful to other cultures and religions. Cover your shoulders in churches and cover your hair with a scarf in mosques.

-A slim, lightweight, cross-body bag. Leave your big bag behind and pack something that is lightweight and easy to clean. I love my Ellington Mia crossbody purse (similar), it has enough room to hold a water bottle (or two) and a small umbrella. It also has a LOT of zippers and pockets- including an inside pocket (perfect for your passport and cash) and an outside pocket (for Euro coins or maps). The bag is made out of nylon twill fabric which is easy to clean with water (great for coffee spills).

-Neutrogena makeup remover cleansing towelettes. This is the easiest way to cut down on extra bottles of moisturizer, face wash and makeup remover.

-Gatorade or Propel drink mix packets. These are a lifesaver if you're walking in the sun all day or drinking at night. I like to have one before i go to bed and i feel great the next morning.

-International power adapter. You can find really affordable ones online, pack two just in case one breaks. You'll want to be able to charge your phone (instagram pics!) and camera battery.

-Plastic grocery bags. I bring a few every time we travel - use one or two to store dirty clothes, save another for groceries (European grocery stores charge you for plastic bags) and it's also helpful to carry one or two in your purse if there is a chance of rain and you want to protect your paparazzi camera. h doesn't like to carry around the camera bag (he claims it looks like a man purse).

-Blister band-aids. These things are the BEST, they are waterproof and usually last a few days.

-Luggage or bag lock. If you are traveling by train, lock up your stuff!

-Hand sanitizer! This comes in handy on dirty trains or after an outdoor picnic in the park.

What are your packing essentials? 
Is there anything you ALWAYS pack on an international trip?

pssst: Check out more travel tip posts: traveling on a budget part 1 and part 2


guest post: little miss holls.

HI! I'm Holly from Little Miss Holls & in honor of Jillian traveling over to Italy, I'm going to talk about that very place that she is going to, right here on her blog today :) Italy is basically my ultimate dream vacation. Dining al fresco at an adorable Italian restaurant, eating freshly made pasta, sipping a glass of red wine, listening to the romantic Italian language being spoken all around you... sounds kind of perfect to me! It sounds so perfect in fact, that we went ahead and planned our own Italian dream vacation since we were thinking about it :)

My husband & I are planning on traveling to Italy for our 1-year wedding anniversary. If you don't already know, we just got married (like 2.5 months ago) & we've already planned the majority of trip next year (excited much?). Check out where we plan on going below...

This is probably the place that I can't wait to visit the most! I can't wait to hike between the towns, swim along the Italian coastline & take in all the gorgeous & colorful hillside views.

We're skipping Rome & doing Florence instead. A) because of time & B) I think I'd rather explore a smaller city & see everything I want to see than a larger city & only see a portion of it. Plus, when I came across this castle I just knew we had to go here & taste some delicious Chianti wines.

So many people have told me to make Venice a MUST on our trip, largely because it's just so unique compared to the rest of the country. And I think it's absolutely crazy that there are no cars in Venice! The thought of not having my car in my everyday life makes me panic - but I can't wait to see what it's like to wander all around town, up & down canals without vehicles getting the the way.

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I can't wait for Jillian to go visit everything wonderful in Italy & then come back & tell us all about it! Have the best time & let us know all the places you recommend, so I can add them to my list!

image 1 | image 2 | image 3

xo, holly of little miss holls


guest post: the short and sweet of it.

Hello there! I'm Kirby, and I write the lifestyle blog Short & Sweet with Alexa Evans. I'm honored to be guest posting while Jillian's in Italy. Since I'll be in Italy in a few weeks for my honeymoon, I thought I'd share some packing inspiration for a day in Venice.

I took this photo during a visit to Venice in college. I can't wait to go back with my fiancĂ©, who will be my husband by then!
Image / Clutch / Dress / Sandals

This dress is perfect for strolling the Venetian streets all day before grabbing drinks and dinner. I love the idea of pairing the red dress with a mint clutch for an unexpected combination.

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