Sunday, August 23, 2015

Lazy Sunday

shirt (old from h&m) - shorts - shoes
It's been a long while that I've had a quiet weekend at home! Lately, I've been on a tote bag kick. I've got two of them, both red and both free. It's rare that I come upon a tote bag that isn't meant for groceries. This one I picked up during last summer's trip to Seattle. Funnily enough, we did not visit the museum. Nevertheless, it's a very hardy bag and I've been gravitating toward this one or my Live Fast tote bag when darting out of the house.

We stopped into Heritage Bicycles this weekend for a quick cup of coffee. It's one of those very popular coffee shops in Lakeview that I've been meaning to pay a visit to for a while now. Unfortunately they were out of the cold brew, which is their specialty.
How was your weekend? Hope it was a relaxing one!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Weekender Bag

Does anyone else attach a lot of sentiment to a bag? For me, usually, no. But in the case of my weekender bag, absolutely yes. There's a lot of milage in this bag, whether it's a trip to Seattle, a short trip to my Alma Mater downstate for homecoming, or back to my parents' house for a little weekend retreat. It reminds me of winter time when I'm coming back home to family, and summer time for vacations.

My weekender bag is the Lo & Sons Catalina bag. When I was searching for a bag, I had a couple criteria. Lightweight, had a zipper, large but not too large, durable fabric, non-descript. Very utilitarian. Leather was out, since it was much too heavy. I landed on this mainly due to the bottom zip compartment where I can keep dirty laundry and shoes. It's also quite squishy, since it's made of canvas, which makes it very easy to stuff in overhead compartments on the train/airplane or my closet for storage.

I've had it for about 2 years now - bought right when I entered the workforce and suddenly had income to travel a bit.  It's held up quite well and continues to look brand new.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Seattle & Rainier National Park

Back to the grind after a vacation that was too short! As I mentioned earlier, I took my family out for vacation to Seattle, where we spent most of our days eating and seeing the sights. We were very lucky to have 3 solid days of warm and sunny weather to hike and do the touristy things downtown. I love this city. I love the ocean, the mountains, and the forest around it. It's so hard to get away from the city in the Midwest. There's so much sprawl and really not much nature aside from the lake!
Lovely views of the Sound here.
 View of downtown from the Sound. Much smaller than Chicago. And less architecture to marvel at. But still nice in its own right.
 On the third day, we drove out East to Rainier National Park. The drive there was so beautiful. We drove through a lot of forest. I've never driven through an evergreen forest before. Mostly around Chicago and the outer suburbs, we have deciduous forests. 

 Very hilly! 
 Mountain road here - very winding and scary, especially if you look down the barriers and just see a 100 foot drop. 
 We hiked up what I believe is the Nisqually glacier side, in an area called Paradise. We were hoping to see the wildflowers bloom, but unfortunately they came way ahead of schedule this year, and died down too quickly! Above is a view of the smaller mountains around Rainier.
 And then finally, Mt. Rainier itself. A good view of how glaciated it is. I believe the one in the photo is the Nisqually glacier! I'd love to hike this mountain again one day - definitely further up! Unfortunately, my parents are older these days and couldn't make it as far as my brother and I - but still pretty far! I think this was the final viewpoint that we reached, before the descent.


Monday, August 17, 2015

Fall Wardrobe Planning Pt. 2

Just an update to my Fall Wardrobe Thoughts, now that I've given them some thought (ha!). It feels like the end of summer, even though I'm almost positive that there will be at least 4 weeks of this hot weather left around here.

Jean Jacket
From L to R - Acne, Levi's, and Paige. Needs to have functional pockets. Not be too cropped. A good combination of lightweight to wear in the spring and early summer, and warmth to wear in the fall. Could pair with a black dress, black jeans, normal dark wash jeans, or really anything. I find myself wishing that I had one already, especially in the Fall and Spring. 

High or mid waisted jeans that look and fit perfectly. Dark wash. 
This is an addition to the list. And it eludes me. I’ve learned my lesson that Old Navy high waisted jeans do not fit me. I can’t decide if it’s because I’ve gained some weight and that’s why? Or if the cut is just off. I’ve resigned myself to trying different brands. I tried FitCode out upon Fran’s recommendation. Might try a pair of Hudson jeans on, since my mom recently bought a pair where the denim felt pretty sturdy. I have my heart set on something high waisted for some reason. I think it looks so cool and slightly badass, especially with a jean jacket or a leather jacket.

Leather Jacket. See here.

Cognac Leather Structured Crossbody
I have a certain look in my head. I actually came upon one a couple years ago that met my criteria. A vintage Coach bag that I found in a thrift store in Champaign, back when I was in college. Looking back, it was a steal at 70 dollars, but I was a poor student back then decided against splashing out on it. Ahh, regrets. Anyway, I may search eBay for one of these... 

Clarks Desert Boots. I decided these weren't really my style. I like them on other people though, and they inspire a sense of adventure.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Gone Hiking

I'm on vacation in Washington State this week! Downtown Seattle, hiking at Rainier National Park, and eating as much seafood as I can fit. It's been such beautiful weather this week in the Pacific Northwest. Looks like it's about to end tomorrow though, as it's due to rain all day tomorrow. I'll be back in Chicago on Saturday and I can't tell you how much I miss it.

Mount Rainier is just about the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life. It's this scenery alone that makes me wish I lived here. Fortunately, it was a pretty clear day and we were able to see the mountain ranges around Rainier.

More posts soon when I get back. Hope you all are enjoying the last days of summer!

hat - backpack - shoes - shorts

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Step 1: Stop Wanting Things.

via Pinterest
So part of what I do for a living is plan email campaigns - content wise and audience wise. Audience selection is possibly the most complex thing I do. I pull back millions and millions of points of prior customer behavior and use it to try and predict who would be most receptive to buy or do something. In short - I send spam mail professionally. And I'm very good at it. Companies have boiled this down to a science. And it works.

I love a good promotional email. Of course, since I find inspiration from them, in a strategic business sense. But it hits a little too close to home, and I found that the advertising worked a little too well, too frequently.

So of course, I'm unsubscribing to all my retail promo emails. Goodbye Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Nordstrom, Aritzia, HauteLook, J.Crew, Everlane...  Yes, you too Everlane - even though I love getting your emails. I think this will be a good step toward me organically spotting wardrobe gaps, and searching on my own to fill them - instead of retailers creating gaps for me, and then filling the gap they just created.

On a very similar note - when I worked at the advertising agency, one of my accounts was McDonald's. I was constantly surrounded by everything McDonald's. I didn't eat it frequently, so I was really unfamiliar with the data I'd be working with. So I printed out their entire menu board and put it up in my cube for easy reference. I ate more McDonalds during that time period than I ever did in my entire life leading up to that point.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Leather Jackets, The One?

The first candidate in the leather jacket review came last Tuesday, and I couldn't bring myself to write about it until today since it's been boiling hot in Chicago this week (as in, high 80s low 90s, no cloud cover). I've no central air in my apartment and exactly 1 AC unit that sits in my living room, so trying on leather was the last thing I wanted to do.

But here it is today - The Ted Baker Riza jacket. I picked this up at Nordstrom during the anniversary sale. Before I could judge on the fit of the jacket, I wanted to do a bit of research on how leather jackets tend to behave over time, especially in terms of stretch. Most of my research was on the purseblog forums, where the ladies have a lot of experience with purchases on a wholly different scale of luxe. If you're in the market for an investment piece, I'd definitely recommend stopping there to read their experiences.

The first thing that I learned was that leather tends to have a bit of stretch to it. So to ensure a long-lasting fit, it seems to be okay if the jacket itself is a little tight in the body. The one area it must fit right off the bat is the shoulders. The second thing I learned is that apparently, most leather jackets are created to be worn open. If you want to reasonably zip the jacket up, while wearing a sweater underneath, you're meant to size up - depending on the cut. I live in a colder climate (9 months out of the year, I'm wearing a jacket), so this is the fit that I'm trying to find.

Now for what I think of the Ted Baker Riza jacket. The leather itself was very soft and buttery. No qualms there. The construction was solid. The seams were well sewn and I couldn't detect any variations in the leather, which suggests that it was a good quality. The shoulders fit properly. The sleeves were a little bit long, but I had noticed from my research that on the average person, they'll be long. In the model pictures, her sleeves are actually pushed up a bit.
I've had this jacket for a week now, and I've tried it on countless times, just kind of wavering between keeping it and not keeping it. I don't know about you, but I tend to get very bloated around that time of the month. So this jacket was just NOT fitting around my midsection. However, I tried it on today (no bloat), and it fits like a glove - even zipped up. I think it's a keeper!

We're a long ways away from Fall, so if I run into a different jacket that I like better, then I'll reconsider. But this seems pretty darn close to perfect. Thank god for Nordstrom's awesome return policy. I'll keep the tags on it for now, but I cannot wait until it gets chilly around here!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Pamper Day Essential - Origins Charcoal Mask

Vacation day tomorrow to spend time with my boyfriend who passed his qualifying exam today! He's officially a PhD Candidate and can continue on with his studies. Not sure what we'll be up to tomorrow. Maybe biking along the lake, spending the day in the city, going for a run because it'll be cool? It's been a while since I've taken a true vacation day, and here I am taking one tomorrow, and a whole week next week!

So obviously, tonight I'm going to treat myself to a face mask, specifically this Origins Charcoal Mask. I've been using this one since Christmas - which is when I received it as a gift. I didn't realize that charcoal was such a beauty trend. This is quite an affordable one - 3.4 oz will set you back $25 and it lasts a long while. I've actually got the smaller version of this which is $17 and 1.7 oz and like I said, I've had it for 8 months now and it's just half empty.

I do a thin layer on the face, let it work in, and then gently wipe it off with a warm, damp towel. I can't say it does anything above and beyond, but my skin feels smoother and looks healthier. This could be for a variety of reasons... the charcoal, or the physical exfoliation when I take the mask off! Regardless, I really enjoy it, and it's such a treat to have time to do a face mask.

Anyway, I'm lounging around the house this evening with some green tea and this mask! Hope you all had a great day!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Last of the Summer Wardrobe Additions

It's only at the end of the season when I start to realize that I have some serious holes in my wardrobe. Fortunately, summer here in Chicago started late, and we're just now entering the dog days of summer.

Lesson learned. Cheap sandals, although cute and cheap, will not last long. Case in point, my beloved Old Navy T-Strap sandals fell apart last weekend in the middle of a walk. I held them together with a hair tie, but they're completely done now. Meanwhile, the leather gladiator sandals I got from Aldo 6 years ago are still going strong, but looking completely tattered and almost inappropriate for work. So summer sandals are on the list of things I need to fill ASAP. I'm really liking Everlane's selection of sandals. They've got a few, but I think these LA sandals might do me well. I like a strappier sandal!

The second thing is loose fitting, drapey tank tops. I keep wishing these were in my closet, especially lately. There's something so casual, yet still dressed up about a loose fitting tank half tucked into some cropped trousers for work. Again, I'm looking at Everlane's selection of tank tops. I'm half way between a Ryan Tank and a Muscle Tank - slightly leaning toward the Muscle tank. What do you guys think?

No purchases yet, but very tempted to, especially since I'd really like new sandals to wear before my vacation starts!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Weekend Spots

It's a scorcher this weekend - today is well over 90 degrees. I'm writing this while sitting in suburban Chicago in a coffee shop called Hansa Coffee Roasters, channelling my inner Kristina from Uniformly Dressed. Very cute place that I always admired from afar, especially when I used to commute into the city from my parents house. It's rare to find these types of spots in the suburbs, where you'll typically find big box stores and large chains of coffee (i.e. Starbucks). 

Very nondescript exterior. I remember growing up that this place actually used to be a mechanic, hence the garage doors. 
They've since finished the interior and added central air to the garage, which keeps it nice and cool. I love that they've re-used the crates and turned them into tables. 
I'm sipping on a cold brew coffee. Very strong. Very good. They roast their own here. I'm no coffee connoisseur - the most coffee training I've had is when I used to be a barista in high school at Mariano's (grocery chain in Chicago). 

Friday, my coworkers and I had a going away lunch for our other coworker. We hit up Cemitas Puebla in Fulton Market. First time eating here, and it was delicious! No shots of the food unfortunately - I couldn't control myself!
Fulton Market Sign
Cemitas Puebla inside
Sugar skull stamp on the bag.
In about 9 days, I'll be in Seattle for a week on vacation! So excited and feeling thankful for the respite. I booked tickets on a whim for my family and surprised my dad with them for a very late birthday present. Hope you all had a good weekend!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Clinique Sculpting Contour Chubby Stick Review

It’s been a while since I wrote my last beauty related post, and I’ve added a few things to it, now that it’s summer time and I’ve developed a bit of a tan. 

I’ve since added the Clinique Sculpting Contour Chubby Stick to the capsule makeup bag that I use to get ready every morning, mainly since I’ve become too tan for my Laneige foundation. I chose this product for 2 reasons: speed and form factor. 

As you know, my whole makeup routine is optimized for speed (aside from my eyebrows, which take up the majority of time). So I wanted something that I could throw on, blend out, and go. And this was it! It’s a twist up crayon form factor - no sharpening needed. The color is a good match for my skin tone, which skews warmer and yellow-er. So if your undertones are pinker, this may pull a lot more orange for you. 

The consistency is creamy and really easy to blend out. If your skin is on the oily side, I’d maybe test it in the store first before you spring for the purchase. As all beauty related things, my motto is test and learn. Fortunately the Sephora here has a generous return policy.  It’s overall a welcome addition. It fits right in my makeup bag and is super easy to put on. I picked this up for around $21 at my Sephora and really recommend it!