Monday, February 27, 2012

Wedding Earrings

Why hello there!

Saturday, I checked another item of the wedding "to do" list.

I purchased the earrings I will be wearing with on the BIG day.

I have decided that I will be wearing earrings, a bracelet, and my rings on our wedding day - no necklace, because with the dress, I think that would be too much.

My search for the perfect earrings was all done online and with the help of my favorite, Pinterest, to save my top choices.

Here are the earrings that made the final cut.

Adriana Orsini Cushion-Cut Framed Earrings 

Nadri Faceted Crystal Drop Earrings

Lora Paolo Large Cubic Zirconia Earrings

Nadri Princess Earrings

I wanted "drop" style earrings that stood out, but weren't TOO heavy. 

Also, while I'm a serious pearl girl, I had an opportunity to try on earrings that incorporated pearls versus a straight-diamond look with my dress (at one of the bridal stores), and I decided no pearls for the earrings.  

Call me crazy, but they just didn't look right with the dress. 

So those were the ACTUAL options I was considering, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I spent some time drooling over these little gems...

David Yurman Cushion on Point Diamond Earrings 

I mean really, the picture does not do those incredible earrings justice. 

I told the sales lady, who was all to eager to pull those guys out, that I would not be spending more than the cost of my wedding dress on earrings...unless I suddenly had some seriously fancy balls to attend. 

If I was a princess, maybe we could talk ;) 

So, which pair do you think I chose??

Take some guesses, and maybe I'll tell you! :) 

I will say I am THRILLED with my choice.  

They were even more beautiful in person, and the perfect amount of bling-a-ling



Sunday, February 26, 2012

Exciting Things

Happy Sunday morning, everyone! :)

I hope you all are having a nice, relaxing weekend so far.

Some exciting things are going on over here...

1) Yesterday, I found my wedding earrings!!

I am going to do a separate post on that (coming right up) for blog-organization sake ;)

2) I am going to an Oscars viewing party tonight!

I am super excited to watch the WHOLE red carpet show this year.

I can't wait to see all the gorgeous dresses, hair, and pretty jewelry.

My friend Ashley so graciously offered to throw the little schindig - and I have been looking forward to it all week!

I'm always excited to see what my fave will be wearing...

She will be there, right?? 

3) The big one...


That's right, one year ago today, I decided to take the plunge and start this little blog-o-mine. 

SO much has happened over this past year in my life...

1) I graduated from law school. 
2) I studied for (AH!), took, and PASSED the Illinois Bar exam.
3) Justin asked me to marry him while we were on vacation in Maui :)
4) I was offered, and started, a full time position as an Associate Attorney.

So many life changes, and you have all been there with me through it! 

This blog has become something I really LOVE and look forward to doing, and I hope to continue doing it for many years to come. 

Buckle up everyone, it's gonna be a fun ride :) 

We are celebrating this morning with some baked goods...


If you guys haven't tried this one yet - go out and get the ingredients TODAY. 

I just enjoyed a piece (spread with some PB), and about two cups of coffee, so I am re-re-ready to go! 

Something to talk about: What was your favorite post this year? 

Some favorite posts by stats: 

1) I Love this Barre, where I talked about my obsession with Barre Bee Fit
2) Engagement(moon), where I told you all the story of our engagement. 
3) Pizza & Beer, my absolute favorite treadmill workout! 
4) Saying Yes to the Dress, where I walked you through my wedding dress purchase. 

As always, if there is something you'd like to see more/less of - please let me know!

Thanks for reading, everyone :) 



Friday, February 24, 2012

Fun Facts Friday + Playlist

Happy FREAKIE Friday, folks!

Weeeeeeeeeee maaaaaaaaaade it :)

I'm here to share a few fun facts with you this Friday...

1) I am getting SO excited for our wedding.

Last night, I took Justin's sisters, Dani & Tayler, to look at some bridesmaid dresses since they can't make it out when I am meeting my other bridesmaids next weekend. 

We found some GREAT options that I cannot wait to show the rest of the girls! :)

Most of the ones we loved were Bill Levkoff dresses - has anyone else ever used those or worn them in a wedding? They are gorgeous and his fabric comes in the PRETTIEST colors.

I will definitely do a whole post on the bridesmaids dress once it has been selected.

I also got to put on my dress for the girls.

The good news is: I still LOVE it.

I was a little nervous I would have somewhat of a change of heart or start second guessing my decision, but it was the same feeling all over again - I didn't want to take it off.

I told the lady at the store "I feel like a glass of champagne!," and she said "me too!"


I didn't mean I wanted one, although then it instantly sounded fabulous, I meant I actually FELT like a glass of champagne - long, fancy, classy...and...bubbly??

Ok, well maybe not bubbly, but I did feel giddy :)

2) I seriously believe in food hangovers. 

Justin & I took his sisters out for Chinese after dress shopping. 

We went to Venus, an upscale Chinese restaurant in Park Ridge (thank you, Ashley, for telling me about it!). 

It was amazing, but I seriously feel like I have a food (maybe sodium?) hangover today.

Pot stickers, crab rangoon, and curry chicken stir fry...oh em gee, so good.

Lots of water and clean eats for me this Friday (maybe).

3) My Dove promise message yesterday definitely won out over my fortune cookie fortune.

"Do something spontaneous."

I absolutely LOVE being spontaneous, but I feel like my lifestyle has not allowed for it so much lately.

I'm going to make it a goal to do something spontaneous this weekend - anyone in with me??

4) My new playlist is pretty darn good.

I'm sorry it took me so long to get it to you!

I'm gonna call this one the "spring shuffle," because even though there is snow on the ground in Chicago today, I think we are all thinking about getting moving and ready for SPRING :)

Spring Shuffle Playlist

1) This Time, Carrie Underwood
2) Bullet, Jessie James
3) Use Somebody, 2CELLOS
4) Turn Up the Music, Chris Brown
5) Free, Graffiti6
6) Part of Me, Katy Perry
7) Feels So Close (Radio Edit), Calvin Harris
8) Starships, Nicki Minaj
9) Call Me Maybe, Carley Rae Jepsen
10) T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever),
11) So Good, B.o.B.
12) Paradise, Coldplay

My favorites on the mix?

I could listen to the first song, "This Time," on repeat.  Love Carrie Underwood.

I'm also a big big fan of "So Good" and "Call Me Maybe."

Check them out!!

All of the songs are available on iTunes now - if you want the whole list or just a song or two, go here.

I'm off to work work work-ity work.

Have a wonderful Friday, guys! I hope to see you this weekend!



Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wedding Hair Prepping

Hi Everyone! :)

I did finally get my hair cut + brightened up on Saturday, and let me tell ya, it is amazing not to have to spend 20 minutes fighting with my hair in the morning just to make it look decent.

I get my hair highlighted (foil highlights - alternating between fulls and partials) every 9ish weeks at Salon Buzz in the Gold Coast.

My hair is naturally blonde.

It's just a more "dirty" blonde, so I like to brighten it up a little and add some contrast into the mix.

So, I've been getting highlights consistently since I was about 14ish years old.

My color girl IS AMAZING - her name is Caitlin and I have been going to her for over 3 years now.

I also get my hair layered when it is cut, at the same time I do the highlights, also at Salon Buzz.

My go to hair cut/style/blow dry girl used to be Amanda, who sadly moved, so now I go to Molly and she is GREAT.

Every once in a while I will pick up some products to use while styling my hair.

I try to stick to ONE product per time, because it can get VERY pricey.

I have been loving my current combo...

Keratase Nectar Thermique
Keratase Mousse Substantive

The Nectar Thermique is a heat protectant that I smooth (very minimally!) over the ends of my hair to protect from the heat of my blow dryer and straightener. 

I am also a HUGE fan of volume when it comes to my hair. 

The higher the hair, the closer to heaven! :) 

That's where the mousse comes into play - just a little on my roots and I am good to go. 

An interesting little tid bit that I wanted to share with some of my fellow brides-to-be...

When prepping your hair for the big day (we all want it to look its best!), book your appointments for cuts/colors about 6 months out, and book BACKWARDS. 

I'm going in for a little touch up in a couple of weeks so that my last appointment will fall on the Saturday before our wedding. 

I'm never a huge fan of my hair the first couple of days after it's done (too bright!), but after a week, I'm about perfect. 


Have a great day, everyone!



Saturday, February 18, 2012

Catching Up

Hi friends!

How ARE you all doing?!

I'm so sorry that I've been off the radar this week.

Last Week was both physically and mentally exhausting for me, so I decided to slow things down a little this week and I'm feeling MUCH better this morning.

Speaking of this morning, why the h-e-double-hockey-sticks did I decide to wake up at 6am?!?

Oh...that's right, because I went to bed at 9PM!


Anyway, I'm glad I listened to my body and gave it some rest, because now I'm feeling rested and ready to have the fun and relaxing weekend that I so need.

Before I get to that, let me catch you up on a couple of things.

1) Last Friday night, I had to stay later at work than anticipated, which kind of STUNK because I ended up missing a movie date with some of my wine club girls & my bridesmaid, Christina.

Major bummer for both me and Justin, since now he will most likely be forced into watching this epic chick flick :)

Well, because I am SO lucky lately, once I was able to leave work, I ended up slipping on the wet floor at the train station (it had snowed that afternoon), which hurt not only my ego, but also my ankle.

Needless to say I have been a little bit O.O.C. (out of commission) on the workout front this week.  My ankle is really not that bad, just a very minor sprain as I have self diagnosed.

I got in  2 very easy workout this weeks to keep the blood flowing, and I'm hoping to be back on top by Monday because I have a pretty sa-weet new playlist for ya'll and I'd like to give it a whirl myself.

2) After going back into work on Saturday (@ 8AM, the horror!) you better believe I was ready for some time with my handsome fiance + good food + DRINKS.

Justin took me to The Happ Inn Bar & Grill, a place one of his co-workers has been raving about.

Apparently, this spot is frequented by some of the big name sports stars who live up on the North Shore, like Derrick Rose and Brian Urlacher.

I could smell his motive from a mile away.

Unfortunately, there were no celebrity sitings, but fortunately, The Happ Inn was a hit.

Upscale, cozy atmosphere.

Great drinks.

Awesome menu.

Fantastic food.

{Hummus Platter}

{Turkey Burger + Sweet Potato Fries}

Folks, that was the best dang turkey burger I have ever had.

I have already asked Justin to take me back to this place tonight :) I'm hooked!

3) Did you hear?? Tuesday was Valentine's Day!!

Justin & I decided to keep things low key this year.

Usually we do gifts and go out to dinner, but since Vday fell in the middle of the week this year and we are on a budget (ahhhmm wedding), we kept it simple.

We set a budget of $30 for gifts, and opted to do dinner in.

My one caveat was that we were going to actually sit at our dining room table, with no tv, and candles.

I made up my spaghetti sauce + garlic bread, plus some homemade meatballs (recipe coming soon).

We relaxed and enjoyed ourselves, a much needed quiet night together during another busy week.

I spent my $30 on lots of sour candy (Justin's fav!) from the dollar bin at Target, underarmour-ish shorts, a lovey dovey card, and a new lunch box (his old one was getting a little dingy).

Justin got me beautiful flowers, TWO things of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, a cute card, wine, and these babies...

{Vosges Dominican Milk & Cherry Rooibos Bars}

I am officially OBSESSED with Vosges.  

Just can't get enough! 

Anyway, that was pretty much all of the exciting and fun news I had for you!

I am off this morning to get my hair highlighted & cut @ Salon Buzz

I checked my appointment reminders, and it has been 3 MONTHS since I've had a haircut. 

Holy ba-geeze. 

I hope you all have a wonderful Saturday! 

Something to talk about: What was your favorite thing you did this week?? 



Friday, February 10, 2012

Open Letter to Self

Dear self,

I'm sorry this week has been so stressful.

There were definitely some nights where you wanted to walk straight in the door and guzzle a bottle glass of wine...

...then eat your weight in that pan of blondies you just had to make (recipe to come!).

You really should have known that was going to happen.

Stress always makes you bake.

Dear self,

I'm so proud of you for not doing either of those things.

It was much more wise to settle for that relaxing bubble bath...

...and your favorite cup of tea.

What is it with you and the tea lately??

It's really starting to get kind of weird and granny-like.

Fo reals.

Although, we should probably talk about that pint of Ben & Jerry's that has disappeared.

Everyone knows you did it.

You should probably stop telling yourself that because it's Fro Yo, it's okay.

Or, maybe it is okay.

Maybe next time we will just strive for four sittings, instead of three.

Dear self,

You would really be a lot less stressed out if you would stop beating yourself up over the little things.

Like that junk room you just can't seem to do anything with.

It's okay if you'd rather spend your free time (ha!) playing around on Pintrest and working on your blog.

You love your blog.

You should really do more of the things that bring you joy every day.

Dear self,

It's all okay now, because today is FRIDAY.

T-G-I freaking F, people!!!!!!!!! 

We made it! :)



Thursday, February 9, 2012

Adding in Strength + Total Body Mini Circuit

Good Morning, everyone :)

Happy, happy Thursday!

I was super confused when I woke up this morning - I really thought it was Wednesday.

Hey, I'm not complaining!

So, if you've been following my workout log on the sweat seshes page, you might be noticing that I've been trying to mix things up by alternating my cardio days with a little strength training.

"Weight lifting" has never really been my cup of tea - I would definitely fall into the category of cardio queen.

However, for my body, I need to mix things up a bit to see results.

These words from Gina, the Fitnessista, have really stuck with me lately...

"Remember, you can cardio until your legs fall off, but weight training and healthy eating is going to make all the difference in the world." (Gina)


Since adding back in some more weights, I have definitely been noticing some subtle results.

1) There is a lot more definition in my arms.  Justin felt the need to tell me that when he met me, I didn't have a SINGLE muscle in my arms.  That, my friends, was part exaggeration, part truth.

But, scrawny arms be gone!

2) I just feel overall more "toned."  I don't know if I'm actually getting "smaller" (wasn't really the focus), but I do feel leaner.

I'll take it!

If you are a cardio queen and are in the mood to throw in a little iron pumping, I have a quick and easy circuit to share with you today that will get all of the good parts :)

BEBT Total Body Mini Circuit 

1) 10 to 12 sets of the "Burpee Challenge" - Burpee + Bicep Curl + Shoulder Press

I found this little gem in the most recent Shape Magazine, and it is a doozie.

Get a video how to here.

2) 20 Step Ups (10 on right + 10 on left)

Get a video how to here.

3) 20 Sumo Squat & Crunch Combo (10 on right + 10 on left)

Repeat the entire circuit 2 to 3 times, and feel the burn :) 

This is a great quality over quantity circuit.  

Repeating the set 3 times only takes me about 15 minutes.

Let me know if you give it a try! :)

If you want to do a quick cardio sesh after the circuit, give Gina's 15 minute February Schweaty Workout a try.  I loved it! 

I hope you have a fantastic day! 

I get to go watch a trial today and hopefully enjoy a little client lunch, so I'm excited! 



Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Honeymoon Fashion

Hi friends!

So nautrally, with the honeymoon booked, all I can think about is...

I'm probably not really going to go shopping for the honeymoon for a while.

I've got a lot more important things to decide, such as...

Shower dresses.

Bachelorette party attire.

Rehersal dress.

Bridal jewelry.

But, that doesn't mean I can't start looking...or picking up an item here or there on Rue La La ;)

Here's the start to my dream honeymoon wardrobe:

Maxi Dresses

Nicole Miller Stripe Jersey Maxi 

Aqua Racerback Double Slit Maxi

Little Black Dress

Basix Strapless Beaded Bottom Dress

Fun New Bikinis

Nanette Lepore Papillon Print Tease Ruffle Bikini

Victoria's Secret Black Beaded Bikini 

Victoria's Secret Royal Blue Bikini

Beach Dresses & Cover Ups

Victoria's Secret Embellished Striped Sweater

Victoria's Secret Beach Dress

Sandals & Wedges

Seychelles Arden Sandal

Colin Stuart Glitter Sandals via Victoria's Secret

Tory Burch Miller Thong Sandal

Those last sandals were obviously made for my honeymoon, since I'm becoming a "Miller" and all :) 

Something to talk about: Did you buy a "honeymoon" wardrobe? Any advice for honeymoon packing essentials? 

A little something extra...

Workout Jam of the Day: Ooh Ahh (My Life Be Like) by Grits

Grocery Item of the Day: 

La Croix Coconut Sparkling Water

Currently obsessed with this water. It is so refreshing - you have to give it a try!

Have a great day! 



Sunday, February 5, 2012

Honeymoon BOOKED

Hi friends!

Well, we checked another item off of our wedding to do list this past week, and it was a pretty darn exciting check to make.

We booked our honeymoonnnnnnnnnnn! 

Maybe it's because it is currently winter and I am in desperate need of a vacation, but I am SO pumped.

After tons of research, talking with other couples, Internet searching, and review-reading, we have decided to leave the Monday after our wedding for a 7 night vacation to ARUBA.

Why Aruba?

1) Avoiding Hurricanes

We will be honeymooning at the end of September, which just happens to be right smack dab in the middle of hurricane season.

Justin & I were first thinking about Mexico, but we later decided we really wanted a Caribbean honeymoon.

So, we started looking into places like the "ABC Islands" (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao), which are outside the Hurricane Belt and known to be the lowest risk islands during hurricane season.

I'm not saying we won't get some rain, but at least we are cutting down the risk a little.

Another possiblity we considered was Tobago.

My family vacationed a couple of times in Tobago growing up, and if you have travel patience (it's a little bit more difficult to get there) and love a quaint island feel, I would highly recommend it.

2) A new destination for the both of us. 

There is something very special about experiencing a new place for the first time with your significant other.  

This will be the first time for both of us to Aruba - so that definitely excited us. 

3) A Safe(er) Destination

Ok, ok...I know some of you just raised your eyebrows and are mouthing the words "Natalie Holloway" to right about now.

However, I will be traveling with a strong, protective new husband at my side and, lets be honest, I'm pretty certain our nights won't be extending much past midnight.

I have had many people tell me that one of the best things about Aruba is that you can really explore the island and are not scared to leave the friendly confines of your resort.

I have been to a couple of places in the Caribbean (and Mexico!) that were beautiful, but I certainly did not feel safe everywhere I went.

As a couple that likes to walk along the beach and explore a little, we're hoping Aruba will allow us to do that comfortably.

4) Beautiful Beaches

One of the things Justin & I learned about ourselves on our trip to Maui is that we are absolutely beach people.

Still have not finished that book. Fail. 

The beach bum. 

Once we saw that gorgeous beach, we didn't step foot poolside (and the Westin had a GORGEOUS pool area!) for the rest of the vacation.

Aruba is recognized for having some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, so that helped!

5) Great Restaurants

We were originally sold on doing an All Inclusive resort for our honeymoon.

We were just a little scarred by the $15 poolside hamburgers in Maui, and we want to be able to eat and drink whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted on this trip.

After putting a little bit more thought into it, I realized that one of the things I look forward to the most when I'm on vacation is venturing out local restaurants and bars.

I was excited to hear that Aruba has some incredible restaurants.

There were also some AI options on the island, but we ultimately decided not to go with an AI resort/plan.

Thankfully, we will have a mini kitchen in our room for snacks, and we will get free breakfast (make your own omelets, here I come!) for 2 each morning at our resort, which will certainly help on the food budget front.

We really loved having free breakfast in Maui.

Perfect way to start the day! 

And, you know, for drinks...there's always happy hour :)

FYI, I put out the call on Facebook for some resort suggestions, and here are the ones that came back highly recommended:

Hyatt (arguably the nicest high rise resort in Aruba, until the Ritz opens in late 2012 next door)
Occidental Grand (AI resort)
Riu Palace (AI resort)


I must say we got a super deal on our honeymoon "package."

We used Costco Travel again for booking the hotel, and even with upgrading to a suite, we were able to save $500 off the price we would have paid booking direct through the hotel.

If you are planning a vacation this year, I would highly recommend paying the $$ (I think $50 per year?) to be a Costco member.  Even if you don't shop at the store, being able to book through the travel site makes it worth it.

Also, my mom generously offered up some airline miles to help with our plane tickets.


Want some more tips on honeymoons? Check out:

22 Best Honeymoon Destinations (if it weren't for hurricane season - I have been DYING to go to Turks & Caicos!)

The Knot's Honeymoon Guide

Looking for a great deal? Check Out:

Costco Travel

Apple Vacations

Need Resort Reviews? We used Trip Advisor to make our resort decision - lots of great insights there.

Now, I will be singing "Aruba, Bahama, come on pretty mama..." on repeat for the next 7 months!

Poor Justin :)

Something to talk about: What is your dream honeymoon destination or where did you go on your honeymoon? Thoughts on all inclusives vs. not-all inclusives?