happy, summer

Summer Shenanigans!

I cannot believe summer is half over! Seriously it’s not even 2 weeks away from August. Where in the hell does time go? All I know it didn’t go to doing my laundry. Because you know I am wearing every back of the closet shirt and bottom drawer underwear I can find. So after this post and some dancing around to Fleetwood Mac with Dante, I will tackle the many piles of laundry all over the house and watch some Criminal Minds while Joey works for a few hours.

So what has my NoShoPo summer been like?
  • Last weekend I went to the Taste of Chicago accidentally. How you ask? We decided to take a jeep drive and head down Lake Shore Drive and then go to the Michael Jordan exhibit and then the Field Museum closes and Carly and James and JoeyWaffles and myself started walking down by the lake and end up there and Carly had never been. I was already having a pretty basic day, having been to Starbucks twice, spending some time in my new planner, and listening to some Taylor Swift so it’s no surprise to anyone that a tantrum be thrown at the gelato stand of course.
  • I spent 11 days in paradise at the Grand Palladium Royal Yucatan Suites in Cancun with my Aunt Susan. It was an amazing trip and the resort was fantastic. Seriously it was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. We had so much fun and I posted a zillion Instagram pics where YES YOU CAN SEE AN INCH OF MY BUTT CRACK. Considering how much cleavage I showed, why this extra inch was such a topic makes me laugh but whateves. Finding bottoms that cover my whole butt is like trying to find a clean and organized Forever 21 store, GOOD LUCK! I posted a bunch of photos to my fb so check them out here!
  • Besides getting me into the wonders of essential oils, Kristen has introduced me to so many things and the newest is The Happy Planner! I have turned into one of those ladies who hangs out in the scrapbook section of Michaels and drinks wine on Saturday night with her pets while decorating her planner. Also of course while blogging and having trashy tv on in the background. I have been fairly stressed at work and when I don’t have control or structure, I tend to get anxious and it sucks. Being able to stay organized and check things off my lists really helps and pretty things always make me smile so this planner is a lifesaver! More on this amazing planner later this week!
  • I have been emailing back and forth for months with a local rescue group about a puppy mill rescue I fell in love with and this week it looks like she’s coming home with us! There is obviously a huge story about this and I’ll be sharing it once her little tail is wiggling as she’s snuggled on my lap with Dante and Bella close by! Pteri and Winston too, as the whole gang always likes to be together. In preparation, BarkPost shared a great Amazon Prime day deal and bought the Oxford Soft Pop Up Play tent. I also might invest in a puppy sling. MAYBE I’LL HAVE A PUPPY SHOWER. DO NOT JUDGE ME!
  • I pretty much live in my Express jeans and shorts because they are so damn comfy but I am already dreaming about fall boots, aghhhhhhhhh.
  • I am starting BeachBody/Shakeology Monday and cannot wait! I need to get back on my health grind and I think this is going to work great because it’s really portioned and what I should be eating with my lapband.
What have you been up to this summer? What should I not be missing out on?
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christmas, family, happy, holiday, holidays, home, italian, joeywaffles, kansas city, love, taylor swift, xmas

Wednesday is the new Monday

Christmas 2014

So my holiday 4 day weekend was busy and fun and went by too fast! Don’t they all though? I spent it shopping, Christmas tree decorating, removing bathroom floor tile, playing Tetris Attack with JoeyWaffles, and just enjoying time at home, I missed posting my Monday Must Haves but since it’s my blog, this week it’s going to be on Wednesday. Bear with me the next few weeks because life is crazy around the holidays. I have to finish shopping, find shoes for my company holiday party, clean the house, make Christmas cookies, get end of the year stuff done at work and so on and so on. Blogging is such a great outlet to relax, be inspired, and reflect. I love my cozy office so maybe I’ll end up writing more.

Now on to the Must Have’s!

When I was younger, we had a lot of Christmas traditions that I sadly no longer do but really loved. We always drove out to the boonies to a tree farm to pick and cut our own tree. We would get dessert at the same local spot and then get to play video games at this crazy arcade. I always spent my $5 on the crane/claw machines and had to wait patiently for my brother to go through his which took forever. We would read from the bible, ever year a different gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John) and light the advent wreathe. We also took the ubiquitous holiday family photo in front of the tree, although the year we had the chicken Betsy and the dogs was rather memorable.
So while I no longer have those traditions, there are still a bunch that are going strong and are what Christmas means to me. I have added a few others the older I get so read and enjoy!

Christmas Crime Scene Tape: When we were little and always wanted to peek at the tree, my Dad came up with the idea that the Elves would block off the tree and if we crossed it, we wouldn’t get the gifts. That wasn’t really the point, it was really how funny the signs were and still are to this day. There is usually a theme and now with FB my Dad has all year to collect photos and embarrass us. The youngest person gets to cut the tape, or ribbon if we can’t find any. Then we race to the stockings and Christmas can begin!
The Santa Claus: This is my favorite Christmas movie, I actually love all three in the series. They are funny and silly and sweet and I love Tim Allen. When JoeyWaffles and I were first hanging out and it was Christmas and I mentioned how much I loved them, he downloaded all three and watched the first one with me one night all cuddled up. The fact that I had mentioned it in passing and he remembered and surprised me was one of the million reasons I fell in love with him. There is nothing better then watching this while cuddling with him and all the animals, the soft lights of the Christmas tree, and a soft blanket on us. This is probably our first Christmas tradition so I really cherish it.
MiMi’s Peanut Butter Balls and Grandma Fern’s Brownies: When my great Grandmothers were alive, they each made a signature amazing desert and my Aunt has kept the tradition alive. Mimi’s PB balls are the best frozen and there is s special gold tin they have to come in. They are the perfect size and go so fast. You have to make sure to hide some so they don’t run out! Grandma Fern’s brownies are probably my favorite desert ever and I look forward to these all year. Paleo be damned, these are worth a few days at the gym.
Traveling: Christmas has always been huge in my family, much like many people. I have so much family that it had to be precisely scheduled when I was younger. My older brother and I celebrated Christmas Eve morning with my two Dads, then headed over to my Mom to open gifts with her and my stepdad and then we headed over to my Italian grandparents to celebrate with cousins, aunts, uncles, and more. We would go home around 11 or 12, sleep for a few hours and then drive to the airport, get on an early morning flight to Kansas City, MO for my paternal grandparents, aunt, and other family. We did this until one day in my mid 20’s I had enough of the missing or delayed flights and being stuck in airports and now we go to Missouri the weekend before Christmas.  Plus without going to Kansas City, I would miss out on the one meal a year my Grandma cooks, a delicious roast with mushrooms and bacon, patrician potatoes, Rhodes rolls, green beans and corn casserole.  
Pop Christmas Albums/All Christmas music: Mariah. N’Sync. BSB, 98 degrees, Hanson. I love em all and need my fix of their holiday albums. Taylor Swift and Josh Groban too. Plus 93.9FM in Chicago plays all holiday music from November ’til Christmas and I don’t change my radio. You can’t leave out Bing, Frank, and all the originals. Favorite Christmas song? “Baby it’s cold outside”
Italian Christmas Eve: My Mom’s family is Catholic so we don’t eat meat on Christmas Eve and instead have pasta, homemade cheese pizza, and seafood. Food is a big part of our culture, the making, eating, the family recipes, the warmth it is to be in a kitchen. Some years we’ve had eel, calamari salad, mussels, and more. The stuffed artichokes my Aunt Laurie makes are out of this world and what’s being Italian without some wine?We eat my Aunt Diane’s special chocolate chip cookies. Our Christmas’s are loud, full of laughter, smiles, the most wonderful smells coming out of the kitchen, and of love. It’s cheesy but I’ve always been so proud to be Italian and of my heritage and of the strong people who came before me.
What are your favorite holiday traditions? What is your favorite holiday movie or song?
Check out Kristen’s post on balance and the traditions she and her husband keep!
Bella and Dante in their holiday wear
DIY, garage sales, happy, home improvement, ikea, joeywaffles, laundry, pinterest, renovations, thrifty

You can’t turn a home into a housewife…wait, what?

Okay so you might not be able to turn a home into a housewife but you can make a house into a home and the process is more fun then the end results.
A little back story about myself. Growing up in Highland Park, I had no clue how to pick a Chicago neighborhood when it came time to move out. I wasn’t sure what would be affordable and fun but also fit my laid back style. Honestly, the only reason I lucked out with my great apartment in West Rogers Park was because my Dad owned the building. A 3rd floor walk up in a 1920’s building, arched doorways and built in book shelves, I fell in love.
Sure, I was in walking distance of the best Indian restaurants but parking was terrible. Whether it was sitting in JoeyWaffles car on a sunny afternoon in the summer, watching the local drug dealer in a wheel chair sell his weed who we couldn’t believe we were a)seeing this and b)wow he’s tough, the chair doesn’t even have handles or having to fight with a local curmudgeon about walking his dog on a leash, there was never a dull moment. So when I made the big move to live with JoeyWaffles in Evanston, I said good-bye to sketchy side streets and hello to North Shore yuppies. 
Don’t get me wrong, Evanston isn’t exactly traditional North Shore but it’s apparently where the cools kids who want a mix of urban restaurants with suburban parking are flocking to, That’s as best as I can reckon anyways. Plus with Northwestern, tons of places are open late and these kids aren’t troublemakers because they’re too busy studying or watching their football team. While it’s kind of cool to be living in a city getting a huge amount of buzz, owning a house just means higher property taxes, very NOT fun.
The funnest part of being a first time home dweller (Joey’s the owner) is the decorating. One of the most recent projects we undertook was changing the front bonus room area from a sort of man cave/junk room to a man cave/home office. All I wanted was a corner to have a little office area and with some O.P.I. paint from Clark+Kensington, an IKEA desk and some garage sale finds, I have a wonderful office space. You can see the before and after below. 

So far besides the office, we have: painted the front hallway from a bright red to a yellow and grey and added some molding; bought the  Series 6 LoveSac sofas which the pets can’t get enough of; bought, sanded, and stained the IKEA Stenstorp kitchen island; renovated our heated back porch to become a laundry room and bought a new LG steam washer/dryer set; painted our pantry, and are in the process of renovating our bathroom and turning the second bedroom into a video game display room. 
I love being able to do whatever we want in our home and making it our own. With a lot of my friends settling down, buying their own places, or looking for different places to rent, it would have been great for them to have what New York has, Compass. I love that their site makes is so user friendly and idiot proof. You can click sales, rental, or agent, pretty self explanatory. 
You can also favorite places, request a status, make an appointment, and such. My favorite feature is by far the Neighborhood Guide which lets’ you assess each neighborhood and see where you fit in socially. places to go, and pictures. I would love to see them do a Chicago site and see where my friends fit in. I also think that really getting to explore more areas, getting out of a comfort zone and seeing what your city has to offer is a great thing. 
I’m looking forward to getting our bathroom done over Thanksgiving and posting pictures. What current home renovations/DIY projects are you doing? What have you done to make your home your own?
benefit, benefit makeup, cosmetics, deals, fashion, happy, holidays, joey waffles, monday, monday must have's, must have's, wish list, xmas

Monday Must Have-5 weekends til Christmas!

Since it’s only 5 weekends away, I thought it would be fun to post my Christmas Wish List. My Dad still asks my brother and I for them so I have to start thinking about what I want. My brothers hasn’t changed much from when we were kids, the newest video game system and this year’s was no different, the Playstation 4. My list is definitely more practical than when I was little but I also buy myself the fun stuff now instead of relying on my parents. So here we go!

Monday Must Have’s Christmas Edition

North Face Winter Jacket-BlackWhen I was heaver I had the typical North Face that everyone has but I had to buy it in a Men’s XL which was pretty mortifying even though no one could tell. I always felt bad knowing that, so when I lost the weight and the jacket was huge on me, it was a huge victory. I’ve had a nice coat for the last two years but it’s time for a change. Something classy, something warm and functional with the Polar Vortex that’s sure to happen again. This coat looks great on everyone and I am totally copying my friend Carly, who has this and looks amazing in it.
Benefit Cosmetics Gift Card or productsBesides the advent calendar I’ve previously mentioned, I pretty much want anything else that’s from Benefit. I love their products: Big Easy, Hello Flawless, Gimme Brow, Brow Zings, They’re Real, and on and on and on. Benefit is my favorite make up brand and I am almost out a lot of my products so it’s gonna be a great time to fill up. The products last a long time without getting gross so it’s a great for the wallet as well!
Erin Condren Life Planner with this photoI’ve ordered a planner before and I love it. It’s fun to use and I love that you can make it personal. Picking a photo from my instagram, I get to enjoy keeping track of all my shit with stickers and color coded pens. I love being organized and this is a great and useful way to keep myself together. A little pricey but if you still like hand writing things and not using your phone or a tablet, this is a great way to go. 
Hunter Boot Welly SocksFirst off, if you don’t own Hunters and you live anywhere with snow or heavy rains, stop reading and run to Nordstrom’s and grab a pair. They are AMAZING. Your feet will absolutely not get dry but I will warn, even with Wellies, your toes can get cold. I has a glossy black pair and grey cable knit socks and want a few more for outfit choices. If you want to wear hunters with leggings to work, these really class them up and are comfy. Long term for $140, these are a great investment.
This or this funny notepad from PapyrusAnother great way to stay organized and they’re pretty funny. These are going to be great for work and they make me laugh out loud.
Lifefactory 16 oz Classic Cap bottle (pink)Because I’m trying to stay away from bottled water and the big bad BPA’s and because it’s super cute. It’s never bad to stay hydrated and be fashionable at the same time.

Fleece Lined Leggings from WalgreensLast year I wanted a pair of fleece lined leggings but wasn’t sure what direction to go or where to start. One day I was in line at Walgreen’s and saw 2 pairs for $10 and took a chance. I have never looked back. This is a STEAL. These pants are one sized fit all, comfy, the perfect thickness, and they look great. They havent’ ripped or gotten nubby ad they keep my really really insulated and warm. Grab a pair!

This weekend I had the new Starbucks cranberry bliss bar and it was so delicious. JoeyWaffles and I had dinner at Sushi Station, I did some laundry and visited a psychic. I wore adorable leg warmers and meal prepped for the week. Most importantly I got to catch up with a dear friend Kristen. I had a wonderful time seeing her, meeting Bacci her adorable Chi mix and learning about Essential Oils. It was a great party and I looked forward to seeing more of her! I also got to play a lot of Tetris Attack with JoeyWaffles and hang out with the pups and relax. All I need now is a fireplace
What are you asking for this Christmas? Hannukah? Anything special you really want? Or are you excited to buy gifts and enjoy the gift of giving?
angry orchard, books, fall, friendship, halloween, happy, joeywaffles, monday, monday must have's, noshopo, velma, winter

Monday Must Have’s- Fall into Comfort…and the beginnings of Winter

Fall means thermal shirts ($9 on sale right now at Old Navy) and the leaves changing from green to reds and golds and it means dressing up for Halloween. It means rainy Friday nights cuddling with the pups watching Christmas movies (it was November pretty much so that’s totally allowed) and it means the transition to Winter. So just like sinking into a hot bubble bath, this weeks Monday Must Have’s bring comfort and relaxation to my life.

Work BFF– Everyone needs a work bff to laugh with, get water with, throw tantrums at, jump out at you and make you scream (okay maybe not this one), and have general debauchery and shenanigans. I have an amazing work bff and now we get to go through the whole30 together. While I already have a really amazing workplace, having my bff there makes everything better and means one of us is always ready and willing to go shopping on lunch or switch off Starbucks runs. Reading this article in the Huffington Post, there are a lot of great reasons having a work friend is actually highly beneficial to the office, so, really it’s your duty to find someone to have slop buckets with and eat at spider table. Don’t ask, just go find the Meredith Grey to your Christina Yang.

Smart WomenSome books just stay with you and this has been one of my favorites since I first picked it up. Set in Boulder, CO in the 1980’s, it deals with growing older, friendships, relationships, and has a great protagonist in Margo Sampson. Judy Blume is an honest, funny, smart woman herself and her writing never disappoints. If you want a reflective, fun, and comfortable story, this is the book. A great read, especially if you loved her other novels, Summer Sisters and Forever. Plus, sometimes I just want something real without there being something crazy or depressing or someone getting terminally ill.

Angry Orchard Hard Cider-This has been around for a while but as I say good-bye to it for the next thirty days, I encourage everyone to try it or keep drinking it. There are so many ciders out there and it can be overwhelming but this one is tops. Delicious and crisp and never disappointing, Crisp Apple is my favorite and Green Apple a close second. JoeyWaffles loves the Cinful Apple and I do have to say, it’s pretty tasty. I love it in all seasons but I do have a particular fondness for it during the fall. Great with some homemade chili, salmon, ribs, okay pretty much anything, it just always hits the spot without feeling like it’s alcohol. To be honest, I don’t even care about the alcohol as much as the great flavor and crispness.

I dressed up as Velma from Scooby Doo for Halloween at work and it turned out great. Last year I was Kim Khardashian and while it was fun, it wasn’t great for working in. By EOD I was wearing some Bearpaw boots with my little black dress, not very chic. So this year fun + function won out. 
   
Skirt- $2.72 from Ann Taylor Loft via Goodwill
Sweater- $3.99 from the Limited via Goodwill
Kneeesocks- JoeyWaffles bought for $5 from Ebay
Glasses- Borrowed from my friend Marta from her old Garth/Wayne’s World costume
Wig- $14 from Spirit Halloween
Shoes- $19 from DSW
Magnifying Glass- $1.99 from Party City
Total=$46.70 

I am keeping the shoes since they were so comfy and on sale from $69.95. Everything I can sell or reuse (minus the glasses). Considering the Velma costume from Party City is ill fitting and $29.99 for a low quality product and doesn’t include shoes or socks, I consider it a steal. Jinxies!
What did you dress up for this Halloween?
What are some of your must have’s this week?

banana bread, benefit, benefit makeup, cosmetics, criminal minds, food, happy, joey, joey waffles, life, life lessons, love, monday, monday must have's, must have's, recipes, taylor swift, thrifty

Monday Must Haves!

Monday Must Have’s is something that a lot of people participate in and I decided that NoShoPo will be no different. So enjoy the first of (hopefully) many North Shore Poor Monday Must Have’s. It will be a mix of things you can buy, watch, experience, things I just like, etc.

The Worlds Best Banana Bread Recipe I had some overripe bananas and decided it was time to make some delicious banana bread. I added dark chocolate chips,  a teaspoon of cinnamon, and some brown sugar on top and it was AMAZING. JoeyWaffles has something to eat with his morning coffee and I found the only banana bread recipe I’ll ever need. Easy to make and the house smelled glorious. See my instagram for a scrumptious picture.

Benefit Cosmetics Advent Calendar I already emailed this to JoeyWaffles as a pre-holiday gift. He get’s stumped on gift giving, even though he gets me things all year, so usually we make lists for each other. This way we communicate what we want and it’s still a surprise because we give a bigger list then we are going to get. This is top of my list because I love all things Benefit and these would be get things to travel with and keep in my purse.

Criminal Minds Marathons Because sometimes they can’t all be about Law & Order: SVU, as much as you want them to be. Not just because you miss all the Elliot episodes no matter how good Danny Pinto can be but because Criminal Minds is amazing and thanks to ION you have just figured it out. I am pretty much obsessed with this show about the BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit) and love the character relationships. Starting at season one, while watching season 10 and it isn’t even weird. If you aren’t watching this, you should be.

This weekend I made the above mentioned banana bread and some inside out carrot cake muffins (the frosting was on the inside) so my beautiful Kitchen Aid mixer got lots of love. We resurrected the Keurig for some Saturday morning coffee and breakfast at home. I cuddled with Bella and Dante, went shopping with a good friend, hung out with my Grandma at the nursing home and enjoyed a great Jeep ride Sunday. Went thrifting and grabbed 3 sweater and some books for under $18. Found two fun dresses at Forever XXI…this one is really cute and was on sale for $12.
Living well doesn’t have to mean living large. It’s the simple pleasure that bring the most happiness to my heart. A warm cup of coffee while curled up with JoeyWaffles and a warm blanket. Driving on a gorgeous fall day with the Jeep top down and a great song on the radio. 
Love the life you live. Live the life you love.
bob marley


Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go buy and listen to Taylor Swift new album “1989“.
In the meantime, what are your Must have’s this week?

crafts, DIY, fall, goals, happy, joey waffles, life, noshopo, thrifty, weekend

Falling Into the Season

I love fall. I loves pumpkin spiced lattes, boots, the crisp weather, saying the word ‘crisp’, well…you get the picture. Thanks to the interwebs freaking me out about PSL giving me cancer(yeah google that shit, kinda scary) I have been drinking cinnamon dolce lattes with soy and whip (I like no dairy usually but whipped cream cannot be ignored). Fall in Chicago is pretty breathtaking and I am hoping we can actually commit to a season because we had no spring and a weird not summer summer.

Friday night I made a mixture of the Pioneer Woman’s chili with some help from Jamie Deen. So delicious. I added coco powder, cinnamon, a Sam Adams Oktoberfest beer, and a jalapeno. Made some Bob’s Red Mill gluten free cornbread muffin mix and an Angry Orchard cider and life was real good. 
Saturday was a huge score at the garage sales. Joey Waffles and I had to have hit up at least 15, some duds, some pretty amazing. Also went to my first estate sale, not so great but won’t stop my from trying again in the future. We supported C.A.R.E in Evanston by going to their rummage sale first and I got a new litter box, car seat booster thing for Dante and a picture frame. By the end of the day, I had 2 more frames, a mini muffin top pan, a sewing machine, and a vintage tray with flowers on it. Oh, and a corkboard.
Thanks to pinterest, I found inspiration for my office and used thisthis, and especially this to help me DIY my new frames. With some metallic spray paint from Home Depot and some fabric from JoAnn fabrics, I now have a beautiful corkboard, a frame to use over a dry erase calendar and another I am not sure exactly what to do but it’ll look pretty. Grabbed some extra fabric to make curtains to hide Joey’s random junk on the bookshelves and a matching seat cushion for my chair. Pictures soon of the rest but here’s the corkboard:

I spent Saturday night at the rehab clinic/home my Grandma is currently staying at and had a great time with her. We talk and laugh and play scratch off lotto and watched the new Lifetime Movie Deliverance Creek which was a departure for Nicholas Sparks but I absolutely loved it. I hope they make it into a mini series because I love a show with a strong female lead and a great plot.

Sunday JoeyWaffles and I went to Kauffmans for bagels, Starbucks, and then Home Depot. We are so yuppies in our 30’s but whatever whatever I do what I want. We bought mistake paint at $9/gallon for our bathroom and the new laundry room, which will apparently be a bright lilac. Then CarlitaRosita and I went on a lady date to JoAnn fabrics, Sears Outlet, and the grocery store. Who knew Sears even had an outlet and what great sales they had? Not me! I snagged a cute ress (olive green with light pink hearts) and a fall skirt along with a pair of gloves with the thumbholes cut out for $7.92. Who says you can’t be a baller on a budget? NoShoPo for life #noshame.

We also cooked steak, steak fajitas, chorizo burgers, chicken kabobs, salmon, chicken thighs, chicken leg quarters, and then I baked these yummy carrot cake muffins (sans the cream cheese). I love that we can cook for the week, be healthy, spend time with each other, and save money. It’s all abut balance and I am loving what we’ve got.

This week’s goals are:

  • Completing the laundry room by Saturday for the washer/dryer delivery. 
  • We have to put the new vessel sink and vanity in the bathroom and lay down the new tile. 
  • Sewing my curtains/making the sea cushion/finishing touches on my office
  • Sign up and study for the GRE
  • Work out 4 times
Happy Monday!