Tuesday, April 30, 2013

gift guide: mother's day

mother's day gift ideas


Can you believe Mother's Day is less than two weeks away? I've already bought my mom a present, but when I was still in need of one and searching far and wide, I came across so many things my mom would like but wouldn't actually buy for herself for one reason or the other, and I thought it would be nice to put them together for a little gift guide.

Every mom deserves a little bling. This bracelet is such an elegant statement piece without being too over the top.

For as long as I can remember, my mom has always done her nails. She's always stuck with neutral, office appropriate colors, so this red nailpolish with a lipstick to match would be a little push to live it up on the weekends.

Who doesn't need a new iPhone case? This striped case is a little nautical and fun.

This yellow case would be a compact way to hold her essential cards in a smaller purse, like this one that can be monogrammed.

These soaps are so pretty, are super moisturizing, and have a lovely scent. Bonus: they say "good mother" in French. Sitting on the matching soap holder, they'd instantly add a dose of chic to her bathroom.

Scarves are always a great accessory. This patterned scarf would be a great addition to her collection. 

Of course, the classics never get old. Flowers and a special little dessert are a great way to show your mom how much she means to you. 

Last but not least, no matter what you get her, make sure you wish your mom a Happy Mother's Day through a special card, on the phone, or, even better, in person. Tell her how much she means to you. It's the best gift!

Monday, April 29, 2013

recent purchases: j. crew

recent purchases:j. crew


I shop quite a lot at J.Crew, but I always try to exercise some restraint. They design and carry beautiful things, things that are often out of my price range, so restraint is always a good idea. I rarely buy anything full price - I often stockpile my virtual shopping cart with what catches my eye and check back every now and then to see if anything's gone on sale. Sometimes things don't make it sale and I lose out, but waiting things out is good for my bank account and my closet (less impulse buys). When J.Crew throws a great sale (no minimum, minimal exclusions), however, and it's been months of restraint on my part, I'm all in (plus it's not really full-price, right, if there's a promo?).This past weekend during J.Crew's 25% (30% off for cardmembers) sale, I indulged in pieces that I'd been eyeing but hadn't yet pulled the trigger (restraint, I tell you!). 

I think one can never have too many striped shirts (James vehemently disagrees). I bought this shirt in two colorways, the classic navy and white & the gold and white for a little dose of glitz. I also desperately needed a pair of nude shoes that could easily be dressed up or down. These wedges fit the bill. The heel gives just enough height to stay chic while being completely practical for all-day wear. I also had this purse in my cart. It can be worn on the shoulder or crossbody, and I like that it's understated and simple. I originally had my heart set on the red since I had been searching for a red bag, but the timelessness of the navy also called out to me. In the end, I bought the navy in store and ordered the red online to compare the two. I was a little skeptical of these loafers online - I wasn't sure how the bead stitching actually looked or if it was done well, and I wasn't sure how it would look on my short but wide foot. Loafers tend to be comically long on me since I have to size up half a size usually. These were snug in my regular 7 1/2 upon first trying them on, but they started to give after only a couple of minutes of me trying them on. Like the gold striped shirt, they're classic but with just the right amount of fun to keep them from being staid. And lastly, I bought this wallet after finding it in the sale section for $12.99 pre-discount. I had wanted one of these for awhile to hold some of my extra cards since it holds a lot but wouldn't take up too much room, but I never wanted to pay the regular $22.50 for it. After finding it in calf hair and for such a great price, it finally came home with me.

Now, do tell: Did you buy anything during the J.Crew sale? Which color would you pick: red or blue?

Psst! If you have been eyeing something at J.Crew, the 25% off sale continues through May 3. Use the code springbest.

Friday, April 26, 2013

this weekend

Happy Friday! It's supposed to be warm this weekend, so I'm going to bask in the sunshine for a weekend that's wonderfully almost plan-free. 

Some things to check out this weekend:

the incomparable Julianne Moore.

obsessed with these. shoe-inspired nail polish? sold.

my new-to-me favorite (food) blog.

the next time I'm feeling down and out about what I've done (or not done) with my life, I'll remember this.

I've been itching to reorganize my necklaces, and after seeing these on Cupcakes and Cashmere, I may have found a solution.

Have a fantastic and fun weekend!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

shoe lessons

Looking at the picture above brings out two conflicting emotions in me: a good amount of embarrassment and an even bigger amount of happiness. I'm embarrassed because of the amount of sheer effort I put into finding these two pairs of shoes, but I'm so happy that I found them that the embarrassment is effectively negated. Since they're both J. Crew, I think it's appropriate to call them my long-searched-for shiny ponies (thank you, Jenna Lyons). 

The sandals were originally from Summer 2011, and I searched high and low for them long after they sold out. I did manage to find some on eBay every now and then but for ridiculous prices. Over a year into the search, I finally found them through another blogger's shop - worn once, in my size, and for almost exactly what they would have cost me had I paid retail + tax. 

The leopard pumps are more recent (this year) but like the sandals, promptly sold out. Every once in a while, a pair or two would pop up in my local store, only to have them be a half size too small or too big. Last Sunday, there was a pair in the store I was browsing through. I turned the shoe over only to find that it was again a half size too big at a size 8 1/2. Resigning myself to the fact that I should give up the search yet hoping that there was the slightest chance that the 8 1/2 would fit since they were pointy toe and narrow, I tried them on. And lo and behold, they fit. I have never been as thankful for my wide feet as I was last Sunday.

Shoe lessons learned: wide feet can sometimes be a blessing, persistence sometimes pays off, other bloggers are amazing, and pretty shoes from J. Crew sell out quickly, so buy them quicker. 

But if I had bought them the first time around, I don't know if I'd be as happy as I am now after the odyssey we've been through. 

What's your story about the pair(s) that (almost) got away?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

press play

Fun fact: I was a long-distance runner when I was younger. I stopped running extensively and competitively in high school at the advice of trainers since I had developed chronic tendonitis in both ankles, and it had gotten to the point where I was icing every day for two hours to get the swelling to go down only to watch the swelling return the next day after a practice run. Nowadays, I settle for the elliptical (easier on the ankles), but I guess that ingrained tendency to push myself has stayed because I can't ever make myself do a "light" cardio workout. For me, either I feel as though I've pushed myself working out or it's not a workout, which is why I often don't work out at all if I feel as though I won't have the time or energy to do a "hard" workout. Bad, I know, but what can I say? Runners are gluttons for punishment, but I'm working on joining the "you either ran today or didn't" camp. It's a work in progress. Aside from good running shoes (I wear ASICS), appropriate workout gear, and a water bottle, I find music to be absolutely crucial for me when I work out. I pick songs that I like and will get me pumped up. I try to arrange my playlist so that the hardest parts of my workout correspond to an intense song. 

My current playlist (cheekily called "feel the burn"):

downtown. lady antebellum || american girl. tom petty & the heartbreakers || pumped up kicks. foster the people || give a little. hanson (don't judge, you know hanson rocks)

 how will I know. whitney houston || daylight. maroon 5 || shake it out. florence & the machine

 empire state of mind. jay-z feat. alicia keys || another one bites the dust. queen || blow me (one last kiss). pink || lose yourself. eminem

cool down
all this and heaven too. florence & the machine

I change my playlist every week or so, so it doesn't get boring. I usually have a ton of Beyonce on any workout playlist I make, but I just realized that I don't have a single Beyonce song on this one. ::adding 'single ladies' to playlist right now:: ;)

What's on your playlist?

image via

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

currently eyeing

currently eyeing


I've been really into ladylike pieces recently, so it's no surprise that I've got my eye on this skirt - the shape and color are classic while the drape is such a beautiful detail. Worn with these heels and this vest, it would be a great classic look with just the right amount of edge. For summer, this shirt with a pair of cutoffs with these sandals would be fantastic, and this tote would be the cherry on top. I'd also wear this dress to death in warmer weather, along with these sunnies. I'm also easing my way into a more fit life all around - this pair would be great to replace my current running shoes that are on their last leg, and I've heard so many things about this book. For a date night out, I can totally see myself reaching for this dress - what a great color! And lastly, I know it's crazy to think about fall since spring just got here, but when I saw this bag, I mentally started an autumn wish list.

white vest || black skirt || striped dress || lace up heels || running shoes
red dress || leopard sandals || tortoise sunnies || tiger tee || striped tote || book || navy satchel

Monday, April 22, 2013

little luxuries

In the everyday hustle and bustle of things, it's easy to get lost in all the problems - the traffic is bad, the weather is lousy, you woke up with a pimple, you're having a bad hair day (or week), etc., etc. Whenever I find myself starting to get too obsessed with the negatives, I make it a point to stop, take a breath, and start dwelling on everything that is positive. I call them 'little luxuries'. They may seem like small, inconsequential things, but as with a lot of things, good things come in small packages.

one: a coffee break. whether it's homemade or grabbed from the Starbucks, caffeine almost always does the trick for me. 

two: candles. I'm a scent type of person. whenever I catch a whiff of something that smells good - cookies, my perfume on my scarf, etc. - I feel better. why not have that experience whenever you want by lighting a candle of your favorite scent? (my favorite candles are verveine and mimosa, both from diptyque.)

three: flowers. getting a great big bouquet is always nice, but I find that small bunches of whatever flower is in bloom or looks the cheeriest is just as nice.

four: lipstick. many, many crappy days have been salvaged by the purchase of a little tube of lipstick. it doesn't need to be expensive, just something that makes you feel whatever you need to feel at the moment - beautiful, happy, invincible, or elegant.

five: music. I tend to play music that matches my mood. when I'm pensive and moody, I like to put on Bach, especially Moonlight Sonata. when I'm coming up to the hardest part of my cardio workout, I turn my iPod on to my current get-through-the-worst-part anthems: either Lose Yourself  by Eminem (still a classic!) or Another One Bites the Dust by Queen (because I don't want to be 'another one'). 

six: humor. find something funny - a tv show, a meme, a joke you had with a friend at the party last week. laughter is a great medicine, maybe the best.

seven: get lost in a good book. it's literally (ha!) an escape.

eight: poached eggs. are. amazing. I swear they're one of life's most amazing gifts.

nine: perfume. I may never afford that Dolce & Gabbana leopard print anything but I can smell like the woman who would be rocking D&G leopard print everything. scent is personal; it's an attitude. let it change yours when you need it most. (oh, and an organized vanity is a little luxury, too.)

What are your little luxuries? Have a great Monday!

images via one||two||three||four||five||six||seven||eight||nine

Friday, April 19, 2013

this weekend

What I would give to be in that room right now... ;). Since a vacation is out of the question, I'll just have to make do with some coffee and a good book instead.

Some things to check out this weekend:

I'm dying to do this DIY

My inner grammar nazi cheered when I read this.

This looks sooo good. Must make asap.

Keep standing with Boston. Call your loved ones who are over there, if you have any, and if you can, donate. Every little bit helps.
I'd be remiss to not say this in light of recent events (but really, this should be something we do every day): let's all hug our loved ones a little tighter, say 'I love you' a little more often, forgive a little quicker, and be a little bit more thankful for all we're blessed with. Life can change in an instant.

Have a safe and lovely weekend.

image via

Thursday, April 18, 2013

rainy day cravings

Rain, rain, and more rain = Chicago the past two weeks. Don't get me wrong - I actually love rain. I love the way the grass smells after a light rain; I love watching rain pour down as thunder booms and lightning flashes. Rain(storms) suit me perfectly because they go so well with coffee, crumb cake, and a good read - all things I love. But when all you want is spring and green and signs of life, nonstop rain is a little depressing...especially when you can't stay in and snuggle under the covers all day. Also, rain makes me have cravings...for all things warm, cozy, and delightful (and often calorie-laden). 

I'm dreaming of these:

 .:. blueberry streusel cake .:.

.:. strawberry cream cheese croissants .:.

.:. hot chocolate .:.

 .:. a comfy bed .:.

images via one || two || three || four || five


Some recent shots on Instagram. As much as there's social media overload everywhere, there's something to be said about being able to take shots on the go to capture moments in our busy lives.

one: an afternoon chocolate fix || two: my sister's jewelry for prom || three: lunch date of red lentil soup + falafel

four: my new yellow polka dot jeans || five: awesome light fixture at diptyque  || six: pretty packaged lippies

seven: my new bag in action || eight: weekend brunch - spinach and feta quiche

For more, find me on instagram: @lovelyhes.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

brands I love: saint james x coach

saint james x coach


Stripes may be synonymous with chic French style, but they go with laid-back American luxury quite well. Two brands I happen to love get together for this oh-so-nautical collection. That maxi dress? LOVE. 

See the full collection here.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I love stripes; I love Coach...so of course I was stoked by this collaboration and wanted to share.

currently loving

currently loving


Just a rundown of all the things I'm loving right now. Loving, as in, full on obsessed.

These candles are little jars of pure luxury. I'm not thrilled with the price tags, but the scents? They're amazing

I've also worn these flats every day for the past week. They're so comfy - I think my feet have molded to them. The heel height says 'practical' but the leopard says 'fun'.  

Speaking of fun, how fabulous are these headphones? I'd be lying if I said I wasn't drawn to them because of how they look, but the sound quality was the tipping point - waaay better than my old Apple earbuds.

It may be rainy and gloomy here still, April notwithstanding, but I'm determined to go on pretending that Spring has arrived anyway...starting with my nail polish. This pink and this blue are so cheery and bright that the rain is a little less gloomy. Of course, you can't have nail polish without nail polish remover. This nail polish remover has changed how I feel about nail polish removers. Seriously, it's hands down the best I've ever tried, and I've tried quite a few. Bonus: it actually smells kind of good - less acetone, more soft powdery floral. 

If you're looking for good quality, inexpensive brushes, Sonia Kashuk is always a good bet. I recently picked up this brush at Target. I love the pattern and the way it lets me apply my face powder with a light hand. 

Lastly,  after hearing so many things about this primer, I finally caved in and bought it. OH MAN. HOLY GRAIL product. I wasn't really a face primer convert until this, and now, I'll never look back. 

What are you currently loving?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

for boston

The bombings in Boston hit all of us in some way. For me, yesterday's tragedy brought out so many overwhelming emotions, both as a former runner and as someone who loves someone who hails from and loves Boston.

I know what it's like to face a course or a road and battle the little voice inside of you that says "quit" with every painful yet exhilarating stride. It's that constant mental struggle behind the physical kinetics that makes crossing the finish line so much more than finishing. It's knowing that you've pushed yourself both physically and mentally to reach that point. The pain goes away, the miles feel inconsequential because you're basking in that sense of accomplishment. For all the runners, supporters, and bystanders at the Boston Marathon yesterday, what should have been a moment of success and achievement was cruelly transformed into a moment of unbelievable pain and suffering.

I'm a tried and true Midwesterner, but I have come to create a spot in my heart for Boston because of James. He has great pride in being from Boston and loves everything about it - its food, its culture, its people. He's waxed poetic about Patriots Day for as long as I've known him, and he made me feel envious that no one else had a Patriots Day

Every time I visit Boston now, I feel like I'm visiting an old friend. Seeing the Citgo sign, the Charles River, Celtics and Red Sox anything everywhere - they've all become as familiar to me now as seeing the clock on State Street or Wrigley Field. So seeing heartbreaking images of Copley Square yesterday - images so different from the idyllic, European-esque images that I've come to associate with those streets -  was like seeing an old friend beaten and bruised. I had no words.

James and I were fortunate to have no family injured or killed yesterday, but we do know of people who were not as fortunate, so the sadness is far-reaching. We pray with everyone who is reeling today, especially those who have lost loved ones or have loved ones who were injured and forever changed by yesterday. 

image via

Monday, April 15, 2013

back to basics

About two weeks ago when Chicago was warm and sunny, I was struck by an urgent need to swap out my cold-weather clothes for my warm-weather ones. I've come to regret that decision (as I knew I would, but I couldn't help it!) as the weather has been cold and wet since, but the clothes swap did give me the opportunity to edit and pare down my closet. After sorting the contents of my closet into keep/donate/sell/chuck piles and repositioning the items I decided to keep, I took stock of my closet and realized that every item I kept was really a variation on repeating themes in my closet - my wardrobe basics.

The basics I have:

striped shirts
slightly slouchy tees
flannel/chambray/gingham button-downs
crewneck or v-neck merino sweaters

dark skinny jeans
white skinny jeans
dark bootcut jeans
boyfriend jeans/khakis
dark trousers
A-line skirts

fit & flare

low-profile sneakers
ankle boots
single-sole pumps
strappy sandals

long scarves
delicate necklace
stud earrings
medium/large & semi-structured
small/medium crossbodies

utility jacket
denim jacket
winter coat
odds & ends
good underwear

The most-used items in my closet used fall into one of these categories. I have other items in my wardrobe, of course, that don't, but those items are far less used in my day-to-day life - i.e. statement necklaces, bangles (I hate how they sound when I do anything productive with my hands/arms), shoes with a platform, small shoulder bag, etc. I also noticed that I favor grey, black, white, dark/cobalt blue, and red when it comes to clothing, but I'm more adventurous in color when it comes to shoes, scarves, and jewelry. 
Taking stock of what I had post-edit allowed me to make note of basics I had covered and the ones I'm lacking. These are the items that I find myself wishing I had to complement the much-loved basics I already have.
The basics I'm looking to add:
white button-down
trench coat
riding boot
various belts

All four of these needed basics are part of an ongoing, never-ending quest. Because I'm short and busty, finding a flattering, semi-dressy white button-down that doesn't gape at the chest but isn't swimmingly long or huge in the waist is like finding a needle in a haystack. For similar reasons, my perfect trench coat has yet to be found. My perfect flat riding boot has also evaded me thus far because as a former long-distance runner, I have short athletic legs and muscular calves that make finding any boot with a long shaft near impossible, much less leather riding boots of good quality under $500 (which is why ankle boots have been my go-to). The belts aren't too hard to find, but I haven't taken the time to really pick out a variety of styles. In the midst of other shopping, I feel like belts are always last on the list and the first to be put off. I'm hoping to change that...and to find my elusive trifecta.

What are your basics?

image via

Friday, April 12, 2013

this weekend

Yes for Friday! I have plans for a busy weekend : a college visit with my sister, then watching her last Show Choir performance; some time with my guy; books to read; and, my taxes (drat!). I swear I hadn't meant to put them off this long, but here I am. Luckily, my taxes are pretty straight forward. Nevertheless, I'll be thinking of the image above (and the peace and calm it captures) as I plow through the forms. Good thing it's only once a year!

Some things to check out:

one. Salad in a jar is a new to me revelation, as is Cassie's blog, back to her roots. Serious LOVE.

two. An interesting read about political and marital second chances.

three. An app that has made getting back in shape and watching what I eat super easy.

four. Try out this sure-fire keeper of a recipe from DALS. It's on the menu for Monday at my house!

five. My bedroom now smells like this candle. Super pricey, but the scent is amazing. As is their Chicago store - the light fixture and overall design are just beautiful. 

Have an amazing weekend!

image via

Thursday, April 11, 2013

yellow fever

yellow fever



rain boots//sneakers//polka dot jeans


I know that Sephora + Pantone have named emerald the color of the year, but my vote goes to yellow. It's such a happy color, and as Chicago is in the middle of an incredibly wet and grey week, I need all the happy I can get. Don't get me wrong; I love grey (and its cousins, white and black) - it's the hardest working color in my wardrobe. But when winter has overstayed its welcome, yellow is the perfect spring booster. Ironically, as much as I love yellow now, I didn't always. Yellows that were too golden and sharp made me look sallow (those darn undertones!), and neon yellow, while fun in small doses, is overwhelming on a grander scale. 

But butter yellow? Soft, creamy, flowers-in-a-meadow yellow? LOVE. 

What's your color of the year?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

rain, rain...

umbrellas galore


It is pouring in Chicago today, and the one block walk I took to get from my car to my office had me so grateful that I had an anorak and an umbrella with me (I have two umbrellas, one of which resides permanently in my car for the inevitable day that starts out blindingly sunny and devolves into a full-blown tropical storm). Other people commuting to work were not as lucky to have an umbrella handy (my guy included), so in case you were in the market for a new one...here are some (fun/pretty/sartorially-approved) practical options. I've actually been looking out for a larger umbrella since the two I own are the short-handled variety... #6 is definitely up my alley (red! stripes! would keep me from getting wet!).

Which would you choose? 

one//two//three (currently sold out)
four (modcloth has tons of other options as well)//five//six

seven (comes in other colors, too)//eight//nine