Memorial Day Salad Recipe

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It’s here! The unofficial start of summer. School is over, the sun is out and Monday is Memorial Day! What are you up to? We are heading out to the lake on Saturday and then driving to Cincinnati on Sunday for a wedding. Yes, 2 weird things in that sentence: 1) Driving. We never drive, we fly everywhere! 2) a wedding on Memorial day weekend.

 Nevertheless, I think it will be a fun road trip for KN and I! I will need to bring lotsa snacks and a new book which my mom hooked me up with. It’s called Before I go to sleep, she said she couldn’t put it down.

memorial day recipe

If you’re going to fire up the grill for a bbq this weekend then you need a healthy side item to balance out the protein and offset the ice cream sundae for dessert.  The solution is this salad. Not only is it incredibly healthy, it’s also festive and makes your plate look pretty, and like all of my recipes, it’s easy-peasy. 

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Look how pretty!!

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Don’t forget to grab a few flags and a few cute holiday accessories. I bought these plates and flags picks at Hobby Lobby. I understand that Memorial Day isn’t necessarily a big decorating holiday but a little red, white and blue will help set the mood. Not to mention that we do need to take time out of our busy schedule to think about what Memorial Day actually is.

From the Washington Post: Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. 

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red, white and blue salad

Serves 4
Perfect salad for Memorial Day, Fourth of July or any summer day!


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For the salad
  1. 1 cup sliced strawberries
  2. 1 cup blueberries
  3. 1 bag of spinach or mixed greens
  4. 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  5. 1/2 cup feta
For the dressing
  1. 1/4 cup white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar
  2. 1/4 cup sugar
  3. 1/2 cup olive oil
  4. 1 TBS poppy seeds
  5. salt to taste
  6. 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  7. 1 TBS grated onion
  8. 2 tsp mayo
Instructions
  1. Mix all salad ingredients together.
  2. To make dressing, first whisk the sugar and vinegar together then whisk in the rest of the ingredients. Slowly add the olive oil last.
  3. Toss with the salad or save the dressing in the fridge until ready to use.
Notes
  1. To make the almonds even tastier, put them in a sauce pan with 2 TBS sugar and heat until the sugar starts to melt on to the almonds. Don't burn them!
  2. If you're short on time, you can buy poppyseed dressing in the refrigerated section by the produce.
Adapted from The Kitchn
Adapted from The Kitchn
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Premium Outlet Shopping!

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bcbg outfit

I walked into the BCBG outlet store at the Chicago Premium Outlets and I thought my eyes were deceiving  me! The sign said: everything 50% off. I’m not even kidding. I love BCBG but it can be pricey! But at the outlet store, with extra 50 off, I’m totally in, probably too aggressively in.

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(that’s my jacket in the window!)                                                                                                  

Chicago Premium Outlets invited a few mom bloggers to come and shop for something for ourselves in honor of Mother’s Day. Needless to say, I was very successful! I bought this jacket, top and jeans at BCBG, I was in there for so long trying everything on that I didn’t even make it to another store before it was time for lunch. 

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My fitting room…..

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bcbg outfit

I’ve already worn this 3 times because the jacket is the perfect piece for these spring days when it’s still a little cool and it’s also perfect when in San Diego where you need a jacket at night. Last time we were there I wore it 2 nights in a row (not because I didn’t have a suitcase full of clothes)!

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Save up to 50% with Cartwheel at Target.com!

Tip toe through the tulips

 

navy pink long dresses

This dress is a head turner! When I walked past it I did a double take. I love long dresses because they are so comfortable and much easier to wear than a short dress! {No standing up- pulling down-adjusting needed}. I also wore wedges because they are comfortable to walk in and the dress is long so I needed some height. I’m telling you this type of dress is the way to go if you are headed to an all day or all night wedding affair. This style comes in many different color combinations which I highlighted below. It would make a great bridesmaid dress too!

long dresses for a wedding

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While we were walking through the park looking at the names of the tulips, I came across a variety named Kees Nelis. I was so excited because my son is named Kees (which is a dutch name pronounced Case). This variety of  tulips are known for their tall strong stems, which is just perfect since my Kees is 6’4″ ! 

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eliza j long dresses
The lilacs were in bloom and it smelled heavenly!

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long dresses navy

Shop my look here: Dress (on sale!) | Purse (in black)(similar gold) | Shoes (similar) | Lipstick

Location: Lilac Park in Downers Grove during lilac season! Delightful!

Photos by: Nicole Regan

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Dress Season

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Last week KN had a meeting in San Diego, which is always great news for me! Yay! I’m going!! And I am taking this dress since it’s too cold to wear dresses here! The problem? From the looks of things on the news, who would voluntarily go to any airport?

I was worried but thankfully we were not effected by the airport horror.  We are TSA pre-check which is supposed to be helpful but we didn’t even see anything they are showing on the news. For our flight home on Friday, I was in a panic that we needed to get to the airport in SD super early, like hello! they are saying a minimum 3 hours! KN is like, no we’ll be fine. We literally left the hotel, went through security, stopped for snacks and were at the gate in 30 minutes. Not kidding. Again, he was right…. Bottom line, we were lucky ducks.

 

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{We took these pictures in Seaport Village behind the Manchester Grand Hyatt}

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Since we go to San Diego all of the time, we try to stay at different hotels each time and try new restaurants too. This time we stayed at the Manchester Grand Hyatt which is gigantic and has everything you need so you actually wouldn’t even need to ever leave! {Unfortunately, we didn’t make it up to the 40th floor bar which is supposed to have the best views in SD.} 

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Speaking of views, we met friends for dinner in Cardiff by the Sea {which I’d never heard of} at the Pacific Coast grill. This dining spot is right on the beach: surfers, sun, sand, the whole deal. 

The next night we had dinner on Coronado at Stake Chophouse with Kyle (KN’s son who lives in SD) and his girlfriend Jessie. Just love Coronado. It’s this little Americana happy place that is also an island, in California…….It’s like a movie set. 

These are the reasons I get pumped up when KN has to work in San Diego!!

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Shop my look here: Dress  also, long sleeve version dress | Shoes | Sunglasses | Lipstick | Belt (similar)

flowers & stripes & ice cream

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Every single time I see someone pulling off a smashing stripe/floral combo, I get mad. Why can’t I do that? I can’t ever seem to make it look coordinated, instead it looks like I just blindly grabbed 2 things out of the closet and put them on. Usually, I end up just going with a safe solid top but I don’t want to be safe all-of-the-time for crying out loud.

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oberweiss ice cream

When I came across these floral pants, that are just lovely, I knew this was my chance to try the stripe top. I tried on a few options, big stripes, only a few stripes, and a solid top…..of course. Then boom, I put on the small stripes and headed straight outta the changing room to the register. 

 

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This gigantic ice cream cone is from Oberweiss. When we went in the store, my friend Nicole and I are trying to explain to a suburban, teenage boy that we need the ice cream to match my outfit because we are going to take blogger pictures-lol. Surprisingly, he jumped on board with his suggestions: pistachio, vanilla, mint chocolate chip…I’m sure he didn’t get that question the rest of the day. He was very helpful and was generous {obviously} with the scoop of orange sherbet because we needed it to show out the top of the waffle cone! Nicole and I shared it after our photo sesh and couldn’t even eat it all.

Shop my outfit: Top | Pants | Sweater | Shoes | Lipstick

Pictures by Nicole Regan

The Dress Reserve

 

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Have you ever needed a formal dress and hated spending money on it, knowing you would never wear it again? That’s what Natalie Gottlieb thought! Her dress rental business is called The Dress Reserve and she has plenty of fancy dresses to choose from.

I met up with Natalie, of The Dress Reserve, on a Saturday at her unsuspecting, neighbrohood location in Evanston so I could have a look at her fancy frock inventory {and if I would’ve had more time, I probably could have stayed and played dress up all day! } Her business idea was generated from when her girlfriends wanted to borrow her dresses. She is a true dress wearing girl, and when her friends needed a dress they always came to her. She kept that in mind when she was out shopping and started collecting dresses. This hobby turned into a business. Now she has racks of dresses, mostly special occasion formal dresses, in all colors, shapes and sizes. 

the dress reserve
Racks of beautiful, bright shiny sparkly dresses.
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A vintage Halston dress!

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Pamella Roland chiffon dress
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A Misguided jumpsuit

My first fun question for Natalie: has anyone not returned a dress? If you can believe it, her very first customer did not return the dress! She was patient and contacted the customer and the customer agreed to just pay for the dress. Fortunately, that was the only time that has happened. She says small tears or broken zippers happen and are easy to repair and are included in the rental price, or there may be a small extra charge. She wants you to be able to enjoy yourself and not worry about being a “statue” in the dress!

As you would suspect, her busiest season is wedding season. Her customers are busy ladies that don’t have the time or interest in shopping {what?!} for a dress that they will probably only wear once. 

She buys the dresses from dress liquidators, vintage dresses from resale shops and also any good sale. There is a wide variety of colors and styles! If there is a style you like but not the size you need, she will even special order it if need be.

The starting rental is around $40 up going to $200. She determines the rental price based on 10-25% of the retail price. You can keep the dress up to a week, or longer for a extra charge.

Since her business is not a typical retail store, the best way is to connect by email, which is; Nat4fashion@gmail.com or schedule an appointment through the link on her Facebook page and Instagram. From there you can make an appointment with her or she can have you fill out a form online so she can determine what you are looking for.  If you really are not into the shopping process and want to spend the least amount of time finding a dress, Natalie will send you a “look book” based on what your size, color, event and specs are. She can bring you the dresses to try on at your office or home or you can come by her place.

To see more, follow Natalie on Instagram @dress_reserve and on Facebook @ The Dress Reserve !

I took these 2 more casual dresses home with me to get some pictures outside of her place. How fun are these dresses?!

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the dress reserve
A summer pool party Mara Hoffman dress.

Flamingo Top, Red Pants & What I Do With My Clothes

navy trench anthropology

I went to visit my sister and her littles in Indiana yesterday. Even though she only lives an hour away we still don’t see each other enough. She’s in the stage of life revolving around a nap schedule, so I usually go there even though she would rather come here, but not to see me, she wants to come here to go shopping, since the shopping scene is weak in northwest Indiana. 

She is having a garage sale next week so I brought along some things for her to sell, at her very first garage sale. This is part of how I keep my closet organized by the way. Almost every time I go to her house I bring a few things along that I think she would like. I walk in “do you want this?”, she’s like “YES!” and bam we are both happy. (I’m not sure how many of my things are actually going to make it to the garage sale…)

Anthropologie outfit

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Anthropology flamingo shirt

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anthropologie trench

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SHOP MY LOOK HERE: Top | Pants | Coat | Shoes (similiar) | Purse (similar)

What else do I do with my clothes when I clean out the closet?

  1. My sister gets first dibs.
  2. If my mom or my sister have a garage sale, it goes there.
  3. Plato’s Closet or Clothes Mentor resale stores.
  4. Donate it to New to You Upscale Retail.

It’s not necessarily in that order every time. I really like to keep my closet organized in the sense that if I don’t wear something then it must go. Obviously I shop often, so if stuff is coming in then stuff must be going out, regularly. I can’t wait until it’s overwhelming and there’s no room left. If it’s manageable then I can motivate myself to do it, if the project is too big then I will keep avoiding it! 

My recommendation: If you have the room, keep a shopping bag on the floor in your closet. When you come across something that you know you aren’t going to wear or that doesn’t fit, fold it up and put it in the bag, or if you buy something new, don’t go to Target and buy more hangers, take something old off of a hanger and get rid of it!  Then when you have an extra minute between Starbucks and school pick up, dash into a resale store and see if they’re interested. If so, the cash might just pay for your coffee stop!

(pictures by my friend Nicole Regan)

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Monday Must Have: You Can Stand Under My Umbrella,ella,ella,eh,eh

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Kate Spade Umbrella

When the weather system has you stuck in days of clouds and rain and cold, it is hard to be motivated to think of something besides rain gear and coats. I don’t want to whine, but I’m going to. My sister texted me this week because she needed to whine too. She said “Remind me next year to buy approximately 5 winter coats because I cannot stand this one anymore after 7 months of wearing it”. Right? I have had this thought at least 1 million times this week. I am sick of being cold. I am sick of black coats. 

By the time you read this I am praying that the sun will be out and you won’t be thinking about umbrellas, however, you know spring is the rainy season and you will be pulling out that sort of bent and broken, totes, black umbrella again or are you using the freebie convention umbrella? 

chicago blogger rain check umbrella

So in order to be prepared to be fashionable, in the rain, get yourself one of these umbrellas and toss the freebie. I mean, when I started shopping these gems I was feeling a bit morose that I have not seized the fashion statement umbrella! How have I missed an entire category? ( Not that I’ll  be shelling out $225 clams for the Burberry, no matter how cute it is). 

 

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Beverly Hills Hotel Umbrella

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Lulu Guiness Umbrella

 

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Clear umbrella

Chicago blogger umbrella

Burberry Umbrella

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Flamingo Umbrella

 

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Sky Umbrella

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Hunter Umbrella

 

umbrella

Senz Umbrella

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CTA Umbrella

 

Here is proof that I have missed the fashion umbrella category, I apologize for my transgression.

Tell me which umbrella to get!

 

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This is high fashion right here, it says something about financial services…

 

Recipe: Chopped Salad with Couscous

salad with couscous

Chopped Salad with Couscous

Serves 4
Lots of goodies in this delicious salad!


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Ingredients
  1. 1 bag of spinach/arugula
  2. 1 cup of chopped tomatoes
  3. 2 ears sweet corn
  4. 1/2 c asiago cheese grated
  5. 1/2 c currants, raisins, dried cranberries or chopped, dried dates
  6. 1/2 c roasted pepitas
  7. 1 c pearl couscous
Buttermilk Dressing
  1. 1 garlic clove smashed
  2. 3TBS sour cream
  3. 1 TBS white wine vinegar
  4. 1/4 c buttermilk
  5. 3 TBS grated asiago
  6. salt/pepper
Instructions
  1. chop the tomato and mix with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar to season
  2. cut the corn off of the cob
  3. cook the couscous according to the package, rinse in cold water
  4. roast the pepitas in a sauce pan over medium heat till toasted (it goes quick, don't walk away!)
  5. Combine all ingredients.
  6. Whisk dressing ingredients together.
  7. Toss the salad with the dressing and enjoy!
Notes
  1. If you like a lot of dressing, you may want to double this! You can make the couscous in advance and keep it in the fridge. If you add grilled chicken or (even easier) rotisserie chicken, then you have a meal!
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chicago bloggerI always bring the “salad”. When we have family dinners, somewhere along the line about 15 years ago, I became the salad girl. My sister in law usually makes the dessert, my brother makes deviled eggs, my sister makes some sort of vegetable or strawberry pretzel “salad” (which is a dessert that you eat with your meal but call it a salad). Do you know what I’m talking about? The pretzel crust with strawberry jello and some white stuff, I have never made it so that is the obvious reason why I don’t know the ingredients but it’s delish. My other sister in law loves to cook and she makes a cheese dip that makes you weep. (oh lightbulb moment….I need to get that recipe on here stat.) chicago blogger recipeThe “bringing a salad to family dinner” kinda stuck and I just became the salad girl in general. I love salads that are chock full of goodies! Then I became some sort of dressing snob when I decided that the stuff that is on the shelf at the grocery store is almost poisonous. So when you make the salad dressing, to go with the salad, it is SO MUCH BETTER tasting and SO MUCH BETTER for you. Now don’t be fooled into thinking that I think I am some sort of cook or that I like cooking or that I enjoy making anything that has more than 4 ingredients. Unless of course, if 6 of the 10 ingredients are sugar than I can usually dig deep and figure it out.lettuce salad recipe with couscous

Shop acacia salad bowls and salad servers here:

See's Candies, Inc.

Embroidered top

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embroidered top chicago bloggerSpring has finally sprung! This makes life so much easier for us bloggers! We can go outside and take pictures whenever we want and not freeze our bunions off.  My girlfriend Nicole (Cedar & Rush) took these lovely photos for me. No, don’t worry, I have not ousted KN, but sometimes girls just like to have fun!

Here I am wearing embroidery again! I can’t seem to get away from this trend right now. So that’s a sign ladies, are you reading it?  As  Tesla says: do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the signs?… I think this embroidery business has a sweet look (do you remember those little girl dresses with the smocking on the front with the embroidered flowers over it?) yet of course a bit boho paired with denim. 

This is the time,  if you know how to embroider, that you should start  embroidering clothes and lighten up on those hoop wall hangings with inspirational sayings that say cheesy things like “be like a flower and bloom”!

free people embroidered top

 

Free People embroidered top

 

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dolce vita shoes

 

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Shop here my friends:

top | jeans  (sale)| shoes  (sale)| sunnies (sale)| purse (similar) | lipgloss 

(my purse is from Target circa ’14)

 


 

 

 

 

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