Thursday, May 16, 2013


Today marks the official three year anniversary for Jacob and I.

We started dating in February of 2010, but made it official on May 16.

A few days before, Jacob asked me if I'd like to go on a mini trip to Chicago. Our first trip and full alone time? Yes, please. I don't remember entirely what we did or where we ate. What I do remember is it being chilly--we both only brought fleece zip-up sweatshirts when we should've had something warmer! We walked to Navy Pier and rode the ferris wheel. The sun was casting a gorgeous glow and we peaked at the city below. We walked along the beach and I stuck my bare foot in the water. Jacob thought I was slightly insane. We flirted the entire time, and it was such a nice feeling to be actively liked. We stayed at a Hilton Garden Inn and as the sun was setting, we found a random grocery store downtown and got a bottle of champagne to bring back to the room. As the night turned to late night/early morning, Jacob officially asked me to be his girlfriend. I said yes.

Ferris wheel photo, circa 2010.
On the beach. I was laughing because my hair kept blowing around. He snuck this photo in.

Fast forward three years. We now live in the city where we officially began. Jacob had the day off and was productive setting some things up for our upcoming move. (entry and photos coming soon!) I worked all day. We met downtown on the city streets and walked to Navy Pier. The sun was shining and it was nearly 80 degrees - much warmer than years before. We walked the length of the pier and rode the ferris wheel once again. We walked around downtown before heading to Brazzaz, a Brazilian steakhouse that is exactly like Texas de Brazil. We enjoyed glasses of wine and feasted on just about everything imaginable. We walked to the very nearby train station and hoped on a train to take us home. We strolled home and broke out some Molly's cupcakes that I grabbed the day before. It was lovely. 

Ferris wheel, circa yesterday.

This is a good one to compare to three years ago. We might have baby faces, but at least we look a little older!


I really love that guy.

Jacob has pretty much worked nights all week, so we haven't had time together. We have a reservation for a wine bar and restaurant in a neighborhood we have yet to explore. We also have a bottle of the same brand of champagne we got from the random grocery store waiting in our fridge for this weekend. 

I love being silly and nostalgic. Those are the moments life is made of!

tutorial: polka dot nails

This was definitely a "Pintrest" discovery, but why haven't I thought of this before?

I painted my nails a gorgeous shade by L'Oreal and decided to rock my ring finger in a sparkly gold. I left it this way for a few days, but wanted to tie the entire look together. I could have painted the tip, but I wanted something fresh. 

Welcome polka dot nails with the aid of a bobby pin. 

I painted all my nails and let them dry completely. All I had to do to make these fun polka dots was dip one tip of the bobby pin into the nail polish brush. Don't add too much polish, otherwise you'll have dots that are slightly gloppy and uneven. I usually got 2 polka dots each time, one a bit bigger and bolder and the other a bit smaller. I love the balance. 

What a fun statement to make! Have you ever used a technique to paint your nails that you wouldn't expect to use?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

stenciled decorative boxes

In just over 3 weeks, I will be moving into a new apartment -- one that I can reinvent and decorate completely differently. That is my favorite feeling!

I've been jotting down ideas and studying a few pictures of the space to try to imagine what I want. I am rooting for a tiny craft corner that I can decorate with bold colors and can spotlight all my travels. It all started with a lamp base. And then a lamp shade. Which sparked colors and a tiny project.

I wanted to create some decorative boxes that could display things I've picked up on my travels. I can imagine them on the wall or stacked up on top of one another, like above.

I found plain wooden boxes in the Dollar Spot section of Target for $3 a piece. I bought them and proceeded to let them sit for awhile until my idea sparked. I wanted to use a beautiful, medium earthy green with bursts of teal.

I painted the base of the boxes green. I decided I wanted to do something different, and decided to give stenciling a try, which I haven't really done before. Now that I have, I'm trying to figure out what else I can stencil. :) 

The process of stenciling is really easy. I used a bit of double sided tape to gently adhere the stencil to the dried box. I decided to stencil the sides of 2 of the boxes and then created a full stencil on the back of one of them. 

Using an appropriate flat brush, I dabbed the brush into the paint. I used a blank piece of paper to get any excess off, as I didn't want gloopy or uneven paint coverage. And then, I "patted." I did a pounce technique and gently filled the color in. 

After putting the teal in place, I went over certain sections with a bit of golf paint, which enhanced and slightly darkened the color. 


I love the way these turned out, and I must admit, I'm pretty proud that I didn't make any huge mistakes or messes using the stencil. Stencil and Ashley for the win!

Now only to decide how to use them...

Eiffel Tower from Paris while I studied abroad. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

baked mediterranean chicken

I occasionally get an odd craving and then try to figure out how to incorporate it into my night's meal. Today's craving? Tomoatoes and feta cheese. After some brainstorming and riffling through the fridge, baked mediterranean chicken was born.

This recipe has minimal ingredients and minimal effort, but you'd never be able to tell that from the way it tastes. For an 80 degree day, it couldn't have tasted more light and healthy. 

Here's the super easy recipe:

Baked Mediterranean Chicken

What You Need:
-Lawry's Mediterranean Herb & White Wine Marinade
-Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
-Olive Oil
-Feta Cheese

I forgot that I had this marinade sitting in my fridge. Sometimes coupons overpower your mind and you forget what you actually bought. This will a last minute addition but absolutely necessary for the flavors.

Lawry's Mediteranean Herb & White marinade will elevate this dish for you. Grab your chicken breasts and coat them in this marinade in a baking dish for 30 minutes.

So flavorful! And you see only one breast here but I was eating solo for the evening.

After 30 minutes of marinating, place chicken in your 375 degree F oven. Bake for 25 minutes, then pull out of the oven. 

Dice tomato into small, bite-size pieces. Toss with a bit of olive oil. 

Place tomatoes directly on top of your chicken breasts. Then add crumbled feta cheese and a little bit of dried basil. Place back in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes longer. 

Carefully plate and serve immediately. 

The chicken was perfectly moist and the marinade really boosted the flavor. It added depth from the herbs and created a nice coating to the chicken. The tomato/feta cheese combination was just what I wanted. Popping the dish back in the oven for only 10 minutes allowed the topping to be warm but not mushy.

Flavorful. Easy. Light. Perfect for a quick dinner while the weather begins to warm.