Loving Lately...

posted on: Wednesday, February 26, 2014

{a little inspiration via Instagram}

real simple spring cover
{enjoying the latest spring issue of Real Simple}

neon nike shoes
{hello, neon! loving my new Nikes}

berry smoothie with straw
{currently hooked on homemade berry smoothies}

sugar paper journal
{packing a few favorites for vacation, like this journal, fragrance & earrings}

Well friends, I'm off to Colorado! Words can't describe how excited I am for a little getaway to enjoy the mountains, a bit of fresh air and adventure. Posts around here will be a little less frequent for the next week, but feel free to follow along here. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week!


Springtime Heels

posted on: Tuesday, February 25, 2014

With springtime right around the corner, who else is excited for the return of lighter footwear? (I sure am!) From bright colors and luxe textures to the modern ankle-strap pump, these spring shoe trends are easily wearable. The heels shown above would pair beautifully with a midi-skirt, or your favorite pair of jeans. Which pair of heels do you like best?

Monday Moodboard

posted on: Monday, February 24, 2014

pastel image inspiration
Sharing a few images I'm inspired by lately... all things pastel, pretty and easy-breezy!

(Images: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4)


posted on: Saturday, February 22, 2014

coffee table book
Happy Saturday, all! I'm looking forward to a relaxing weekend with a little morning reading, packing for my upcoming trip, and enjoying brunch tomorrow with friends. What are you up to this weekend? Here are a few links that caught my eye this past week. I hope you have a great weekend ahead!

• A simple DIY guide for how to build an inspiration pinboard.
• Beautiful photos of an outdoor wedding in Valencia, Spain.
• A thoughtful perspective on dealing with feelings of jealousy.
• This short video from The New York Times + Bill Cunningham on NYFW style.
• Today, February 22, is National Margarita Day. Who knew? Celebrate with this perfect margarita recipe from Victoria.
• My calendar is marked for Chicago's Nordstrom Beauty Event. Is anyone else planning to attend? (Check your local store for events near you!)


Getaway to Vail

posted on: Thursday, February 20, 2014

Next week, I'll be traveling to Vail with my boyfriend to visit his parents and enjoy a week in Colorado. I'm so excited! We have lots of fun outings planned, including skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, live music, and a cozy spa retreat. With winter seeming to drag on a little longer (and more intensely) this year, I can't wait for the chance to take a break from the city, jump on a plane, and explore the outdoors. In the mean time, I'm packing lots of warm sweaters, outerwear, and my camera. I'm hoping I can capture a few moments as beautiful as these. :) 

Do you have any upcoming trips you're looking forward to, or places on your travel wishlist? I'd love to hear!


Julie Vos Jewelry

posted on: Wednesday, February 19, 2014

julie vos jewelry
Are you familiar with jewelry designer, Julie Vos? Her designs are beautiful, incorporating luxe gold tones and elegant semi-precious stones. I love the versatility of Julie's pieces — they can appear timelessly classic, jet-set exotic, or slightly edgy, depending on what you pair them with. Her collection has been described as "wearable luxury," being priced in a range that makes her pieces easy to collect. I think the Bali necklace and bracelet are my favorites. Which pieces do you like most?

Items from top left to bottom:

Marc Jacobs Beauty Giveaway

posted on: Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Today I'm excited to announce my first-ever giveaway! As a fun way to thank you for reading, commenting, and all your wonderful support, I'm giving away this Marc Jacobs Style Eye-Con palette. It's a super luxe and travel-friendly palette featuring seven gorgeous eyeshadow shades. From shimmer, sheen, to matte, the seven colors complement each other while blending together effortlessly. The shadow is great for a swipe of sheer color, or building it to enhance a more dramatic look.

To enter, all you have to do is follow the widget instructions below. You have until Monday, March 3 to enter. Good luck! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


posted on: Monday, February 17, 2014

tulips and coffee
Happy Monday, all - make it a great week!


10 Tips for Extending the Life of Flowers

posted on: Friday, February 14, 2014

With springtime right around the corner, fresh flowers bring new life and energy to any space. And if you're like me, I love having fresh flowers at home as much as possible. So, in order to keep them looking beautiful (and keep my budget in check!), I've taken to these tips for extending the life of fresh cut flowers:

Tip #1: Try to purchase the freshest flowers you can, by looking for signs of freshness and avoiding aged blooms. Select flowers with healthy-looking leaves — they should appear fresh, firm, and green.

Tip #2: If you have a ways to travel before putting your flowers into a vase, be sure they are packaged with individual water containers, or at the very least, wrap the stems in damp paper towels.

Tip #3: Remove any wilted petals or leaves, and remove any greenery from the bottom of the stems that will be submerged in the water — doing so will help keep the water in your vase clean and clear.

Tip #4: Cut off 1-2″ of the stems at 45 degree angle, under cool running water. It’s also a good idea to trim stems each day or so to help the flowers take in adequate nutrients.

Tip #5: Always use a clean vase that has been washed in hot, soapy water and rinsed well. This will help remove any bacteria that can harm your flowers.

Tip #6: Flowers may take in more water than you might think, so replenish the water frequently. Keep changing the water entirely every 2-3 days.

Tip #7: Keep your flowers fed and happy! The commercial flower food packets you find in the store will do, or you can make a handmade recipe at home using natural ingredients.

Tip #8: In addition to the food, try adding a tiny amount of bleach to the water, which will help keep the water clean and clear and prevent harmful bacteria. But be careful to not use too much!

Tip #9: Channel your inner florist and "mist" the flowers daily. While flowers draw water from their stems, almost all flowers benefit from a daily mist of water. Use a small spray bottle to gently mist.

Tip #10: Lastly, cut flowers will keep fresh longer if kept at cooler temperatures. Try to move them to a cooler spot at night, and keep them away from direct spotlight and warmer spots in your home.

Do you have any additional tips of your own? I'd love to hear!

Images via SMP 

Around the Kitchen for Valentine's Day

posted on: Thursday, February 13, 2014

Today I'm excited to share a few snapshots around my kitchen, namely for a little ode to Valentine's Day. As you can see, I love keeping touches of red in the kitchen, like my favorite Sur la Table towels and accessories. Having a few nice items in the kitchen makes cooking and baking a little more fun, doesn't it? Wanting to bake something simple and sweet, I made this Chocolate Layered Cake with Raspberries. The recipe is ridiculously easy, which is perfect if you're crunched for time – …like when Valentine's Day is tomorrow (!).

• Nonstick spray
• 1 package (18.25 oz) devil’s food cake mix
• 1 package (3.9 oz) instant chocolate pudding
• 4 eggs
• 1 cup sour cream
• ½ cup warm water
• ½ cup vegetable oil

• ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
• 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped

Directions: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly mist two 9" circular pans with nonstick spray and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, sour cream, warm water, and oil. Blend for 2-3 minutes. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans, and bake in oven 40 to 50 minutes. (Note: I increased the batch to create three layers). Remove the pans to a wire rack and cool for 20 minutes. Then, invert the cakes onto a rack to cool completely before frosting.

For the ganache: Place the chopped chocolate in a large mixing bowl. Heat the cream in a heavy bottomed sauce pan, stirring frequently, until it comes to a low boil. Immediately remove the boiling cream from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then stir to combine. Let stand at room temperature until it is thick enough to work with. Frost the cake layer by layer, using the entire batch of ganache. Top the cake with sifted powdered sugar and fresh raspberries. Serve and enjoy! xo

Are you planning to bake anything special for Valentine's Day? I'd love to hear!

bright and beautiful by Laura Platt Chicago Fashion Blog. All rights reserved. © Blog Milk