Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Hot Pink Valentine's Dress

I believe that expressing love for one another and spending quality time together should happen way more than once a year! Thankfully, my fiance prescribes to the same belief. So, we don't put too much pressure on Valentine's Day. In fact, our super romantic evening is going to consist of going to see Deadpool (hellooo Ryan Reynolds!) together next week. We both geek out over sci fi movies and tv shows (has anyone been watching the X-Files reboot?)! Hey-whatever brings you joy, right?

Regardless of if we have fancy Valentine's Day plans I will without a doubt be wearing hot pink! I never need an excuse to wear my favorite color, but this hot pink dress just makes me oh-so-happy! Can you believe I scored it at Nordstrom Rack a few months ago for $10?!  

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What I'm Wearing: Valentine's Day Date Night Dress
Hot Pink Dress: Nordstrom Rack (similar) | White Furry Coat: Bloomingdales (similar)
Black Tights: H&M | Black Platform Heels: Steve Madden (similar
Gold Monogram Clutch: White House Monogramming | Pink Statement Necklace: LOFT (similar)


Tomorrow on LPF I'll share a few of my favorite Valentine's Day gift ideas (for anyone who's last minute like me!). One of my absolute favorite ideas is this "Our Q&A: a 3-Year Journal for 2 People".  I got one for Kyle & I at Christmas time and literally it's become my favorite bedtime ritual to fill out that day's entry- and I feel like we're both learning a lot of things about each other. I can't wait to see how our answers evolve over the next 3 years.

What are your Valentine's Day plans?

xoxo, lauren

Monday, February 8, 2016

Blog Your Best Recap // Dana Hotel & Spa

I can't imagine a better way to start the year off inspired than attending a blogging conference. I was SO thrilled when the ladies of Windy City Bloggers reached out to me about speaking on a panel at their "Blog Your Best" conference in Chicago this past weekend. 

I made it a personal goal to do more public speaking last year (purposely because it was so out of my comfort zone) & I think I've now done nearly a dozen speaking gigs in the past year. So crazy! I'm a big believer in putting what you want "out into the universe" because you never know what will happen. Speaking at events has even become a huge passion for me!

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(just taking it all in at the Dana Hotel & Spa)

You would think after blogging nearly 9 years that it would be hard to find value or learn more at conferences but that couldn't be further from the truth. I can always learn something new and one of my favorite parts is meeting and connecting with other bloggers! I think what was so great about Blog Your Best was that it was action-oriented, conversational & transparent. All about real experiences, best practices, and resources that have worked for top bloggers.

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(The CUTEST swag bags designed by Lindzy from The Trendy Sparrow)

I wanted to share a few of my top takeaways & resources from this past weekend's Blog Your Best conference!

  • Finding your niche & "your people" is essential to making it all click. Speaking of that- thank you for reading & supporting me, friends! This is going to be one of my biggest challenges as we make our move out into the country and I enter this new phase of life as a Mrs.
  • Always provide value. I know with my schedule I can't commit to blogging 5 x per week, but during the times I do I want to provide value whether it's style inspiration, ideas for saving more money, or tips for using your new planner!
  • Learn more about photography. My photos have definitely improved since the early days of LPF (mega-cringe!), but I have so much to learn. I'd love to learn more about using my DSLR to document more of life & of course better outfit details!
  • Collaborate, Collaborate, Collaborate! Think about mutually beneficial ways to partner with other bloggers and brands. As my favorite group, Rising Tide Society says- "community over competition".
  • Always overdeliver. This is true for blogging and business. Going above and beyond and "overdelivering" what is promised is always what to shoot for! Whether it's an extra social media shoutout or even a handwritten thank you note!
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(hard at work taking notes)

As always, one of the most rewarding parts of the conference is meeting new people! I was so thankful to have the opportunity to learn from inspiring blogger biz ladies like Alaina from the Everygirl, Kelly from Kelly in the City, Blair from the Fox and She & Amanda from the She Did it Her Way Podcast. A special thanks to Kit & Erin from Windy City Bloggers for putting together such an incredible day of learning and connecting.

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(Have you ever seen a cooler hotel room?)

The conference was at the Dana Hotel and Spa in downtown Chicago and I don't think you could choose a more creative and inspiring space. The team was awesome enough to put me up in a room during the conference. My hotel room was one of the coolest spaces I've ever stayed in- in fact it felt more like a fashionable friend's cool apartment. From the rustic modern furniture and decor to the giant walk in shower, and beautiful sweeping views of the downtown cityscape.

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(Obsessed with this wood side table)

The first night I was there I stumbled upon a "Fire & Ice" party at the Dana's rooftop bar which was SO much fun. Literal ice bars, tables & chairs and tasty drinks to fit the them. I was exhausted after the conference and grabbed a delicious dinner and cocktail with new blogger friend Olivia & Kit at the Freestyle restaurant on the bottom level of the hotel. I tried the macaroni & cheese, sesame chicken tacos & a basil St. Germain champagne cocktail. I even ended up bringing back a little to my room to snack on and watch "Fixer Upper" in my pj's! Please tell me I'm not the only one who does that?!

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(A beautiful blogger brunch at The Allis in Chicago)

Before I headed back to Madison on the bus I met up with Ali, Kit & Olivia for brunch at The Allis. It's a beautiful, light & airy spot inside the impeccably designed Soho House. I love that eating with bloggers means it's totally normal and okay to wait to eat until everyone's taken a few shots for Instagram. Yes indeed, these are my people!

I'm feeling so energized and excited after a great weekend in the city. I can't wait to implement everything I've learned and keep in touch with new blogging friends!

xoxo, lauren

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Mix & Match Spring Style: Muted Pastels

 If like me, you're ready to ditch the snow boots and add a spring into your step I have just the inspiration you're looking for. These looks are perfect for wearing now- just swap out sandals for ankle boots and layer on tights or a leather jacket. I adore this palette of muted pastels paired back to minimal but statement making accessories and strappy sandals.

I've always loved pieces that can easily be mixed and matched with each other, but after minimizing my wardrobe using the "Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up",Konmari Method, that has been taken to an entirely new level. With less pieces in my wardrobe, I want them to be versatile. When I go shopping I really try to evaluate if a piece will bring me joy and something I get excited to pull out my closet (more on that here).

Mix and Match Outfit Inspiration for Spring | muted pastels, chambray & stripes


Shop the Looks: Moody Pastels, Denim & Sandals




Look 4: Chambray Sundress & Fringe Tassel Bucket Bag
Chambray Off the Shoulder Dress | Peep Toe Mules | Pale Mint Bucket Bag | Round Statement Sunglasses  | Kendra Scott Gem Earrings

I think the best part about each of these outfits is their versatility. Pair the striped tee with denim & white lace-up sandals or the pink seaglass necklace with the chambray dress. Literally, I want to rock look #1 for our Valentine's Day date.

Which spring style is your favorite?

xoxo, lauren

Saturday, January 30, 2016

La Petite Wedding: Bridesmaid Gifts

When I first got engaged, one of my initial thoughts was "how am I possibly going to be able to choose between all of my friends for bridesmaids.. no seriously.. I'm going to have like ten bridesmaids". Which let's be honest, for our little cozy & rustic chic nuptials, would be a bit overkill. After discussing it together, Kyle and I decided we'd just have our siblings be our groomsmen and bridesmaid. 

I was so nervous that my closest girlfriends would feel let down by my decision, but they were so incredibly supportive. I stressed to them that I still wanted them to be with me getting ready (mimosas & hair braiding anyone?), have special recognition (seats by the front during the ceremony). Most importantly, I wanted them to know how much I love and appreciated them. I just want them to make it up to Wisconsin to enjoy this special time with me, no bridesmaid dress necessary. 

I learned that in the South they call this tradition a "house party"- it can be a great way to include and honor a large group of friends and family without having an enormous wedding party. When I was home over the holidays I gifted my girl friends a few fun & festive bridesmaid gifts and let them know, "I can't say I do without you"!

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My Bridesmaid Gifts:
  • Gold Sequin Hangers: My friend Rachel of Glitter and Bow makes these amazing sequin hangers (in gold & silver). My girls were ooh-ing and ahh-ing over them and I seriously can't wait to take cute photos of our dresses hanging on them the morning of our wedding.
  • Macaron Lip Gloss: My girlfriends know I have an affinity for all things French these cute "macarons" are actually lip glosses (I love these mini macaron cases too).
  • Rifle Paper Co Notebooks: I love having these notebooks around & they're the perfect mini size. This particular floral print was actually the inspiration for our wedding color palette of burgundy, blush & pine.
  • Capri Blue Mini Jar Candles: These candles smell absolutely amazing. The mini size is perfect for gifting and fits the cozy chic vibe of our October wedding. 
I also wrote notes on these sweet botanical floral cards thanking them for being the best & asking them to be a part of our day!

I've also rounded up a few of my favorite ideas for bridesmaid gifts.

stylish & thoughtful bridesmaid gifts for your favorite ladies

Stylish Bridesmaid Gift Ideas:

I'm so incredibly thankful for my friends near and far. After five years of living in Wisconsin, I'm just really excited for everyone to make a trip to the Midwest and enjoy the place I've come to love so much & be with me while I marry my dream guy. I'd love to hear any of your fun ideas for a relaxing & fun wedding morning. I'm thinking coffee & mimosas, a fun playlist & pampering with my favorite ladies!

xoxo, lauren

Thursday, January 28, 2016

January Inspiration Board

January is one of my favorite months of the year. It presents a fresh start, new goals, and a different energy. Despite the snow on the ground, this month has me thinking about organization, healthy meals, and making plans- whether it be for future travel adventures, life and business goals, or new opportunities.

This month's inspiration board represents exactly that- a refreshing take on the Winter months. Dreary days energized with color and a zest for life.

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January Inspiration Board:
1. White Peach & Rose Lemonade- the perfect Valentine's Day drink or Bachelor night! | 2. Mint Green Console & Plants: I have this image saved as the perfect pop of color in an all white/neutral space. | 3. Rach Parcell's Kitchen- I'm a teensy bit in love with the farmhouse sink, marble counters & of course, colorful rug | 4. Smoothie Bowls- I have what seems like is an entire board dedicated to the tasty & beautiful smoothie bowl | 5. Denim Skirts- Kind of loving this 90's era look right now | 6.  Nail Polish Organization - I love that you can see everything on display, but it's organized neatly. | 7. "Be All There" Print - This quote is pretty much my 2016 goal | 8. Cake Batter Popcorn- This is definitely happening this weekend | 9. Turqs & Caicos: Blue ocean & blue skies are all I can think about when there's snow on the ground

Be sure to follow me on Pinterest to see everything that's inspiring me lately!

Wondering what's on my shopping wish list this month? Look no further:


One last thing- be sure to checkout the podcast my fiance & I were featured on last week- Our First Drink! We had a great conversation about wedding planning, our goals to renovate his family farmhouse & what it's like dating a blogger!

What's inspiring you this month?

xoxo, lauren

Monday, January 25, 2016

5 Ways to Work Out at Home w/ Gordmans

I'm teaming up with Gordmans to share how I stay fit & moving! In the Winter time I can feel super unmotivated to venture out into the snow and cold to hit the gym. So, I've found a few at-home workouts that I love and motivate me even more (& some are even free). 

Even if I'm working out at home, I love to wear something colorful, functional, & comfortable. These fleece lined leggings I'm wearing in both looks are my new favorite thing. They are so warm and cozy- equally as perfect for winter walks as indoor yoga sessions. The spacedye hoodie has handy thumb holes for keeping workout gear in place. The best part? Gordmans activewear is friendly on your wallet too. None of the pieces I'm wearing cost more than $20!

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As I mentioned, I've been able to find some amazing home workouts. I thought I'd share a few of my favorites. Feel free to shoot me a tweet if there's one I should check out!

5 Ways to Work Out at Home:

1.  Barre3 Online: I love taking barre classes in person- but at $10 a month, it's a bit more affordable and works with my crazy schedule to subscribe to their online workouts.

2. Take a Walk with a Friend: I like to get my fiance on board for some exercise to take a walk around the neighborhood. We spend so much time oogling all the pretty houses & talking about our days that it barely feels like exercise.

3. Tone It Up: I've always adored Karena & Katrina of Tone It Up and the inspiring community of women they've created. While  they do have a paid programs, they offer a ton of free content and videos showing you how to get a great workout from anywhere.

4. Blogilates: Cassie from Blogilates feels like a friend motivating you all the way through your workout. She even has a handy calendar to download with workouts for each day of the week to try. (My tip: schedule them into your planner to make them a priority)! 

5. Take Workout Breaks: If you work from home like me or dread leaving the house in the evening, get some extra exercise in by taking 10 minute breaks for crunches or stretching throughout the day. Watching the Bachelor? During commercials, do squats or sit-ups to stay moving!

Now, I'll share more about the workout gear I'm wearing from Gordmans!

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What I'm Wearing:
Racerback Pink Tank (similar) | Fleece Lined Leggings (similar) | Sports Bra (similar

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What I'm Wearing:
Spacedye Turquoise Hoodie (similar) | Fleece Lined Leggings (similar) | Sports Bra (similar

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I'm a true believer that cute clothes lead to more workout motivation. Let's be honest when it's cold and dreary outside, I need all of that I can get! With wedding planning underway, I want to look and feel my best more than ever. I'm excited to share some progress and stories throughout the year with you.

Thank you to Gordmans for outfitting me with the fun & functional workout gear. Want to see even more activewear inspiration? Head over to these blogs too:


xoxo, lauren



Disclosure: This Post was sponsored by Gordmans but all opinions are my own.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Hip Etsy Home Decor Finds

I always love buying handmade when I have the option. It always feels great to support the movers & makers who have the same entrepreneurial dreams I do. The Rising Tide Society has been introducing so may creative people into my life! As I've alluded to a few times on LPF, Kyle & I are in the process of getting ready to renovate his family's 100-year old farmhouse (hear more about it on our new episode of Our First Drink).
Obviously we're a little ways away from decorating our home, but I've already found a treasure trove of goodies on my wish list from Etsy. Seriously guys, they're killing the home décor game. There's so much to love if you're trying to design a cozy but hip space. I've rounded up a few of my favorite unique and seriously stylish finds below:




 
Etsy Hip Home Décor Pieces:
1. Adventure Print- Earth and Fleur | 2. Wood Makeup Organizer- lessandmore |3. "SPF" Apricot & Soy Wax Candle- Let's Put a Bird On It | 4. Macrame Wall Hanging- Le Petit Moose | 5. Kilim Style Rug - Skandihome | 6. Ceramic Planter - Wapa | 7. Porcelain Ring Bowl - Red Raven Studios | 8. Ceramic Coffee Storage- Claylicious | 9. Metallic Leather Pillow- Grida Studio | 10. Geometric Pendant Light- Deadhedron | 11. Chunky Knit Blanket- A Cozy Bit of Knits | 12. Geode Watercolor Print- Julie Song Ink


Cozy winter Vibes

Here's a peek at our struggling succulent plants & Hibiscus + Acai candle from Let's Put a Bird On It. Whenever I'm burning this bad boy it takes me right back to our Hawaiian engagement. This winter has been SO cold that we seem to have a candle burning constantly to give our place a cozy vibe. Needless to say I'm looking forward to spring time!

Do you have a favorite Etsy shop for home decor on your radar? Spill the deets please!

xoxo, lauren

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

5 Ways to Prep for an Engagement Party


When my mom mentioned she wanted to host an engagement party for Kyle & I in Florida I was immediately on board! It's always challenging to try to meet-up with friends and family for coffee dates & dinners when I'm only home a couple of times a year. I also knew I had to find the perfect dress & do some prepping to look and feel my best for our party!

I knew that an engagement party would put me and my fiancée at the center of attention, but it was a total whirlwind (in the best way). We posed for a million pictures and telling the story of "how he asked" to everyone. Thankfully, my mom had booked a blow out for me the morning of our party.  I also had been using Crest 3D Flexfit Whitestrips which came in handy since I'm pretty sure I didn't stop smiling the entire party.

I wanted to share a few of the ways that we prepped for our engagement party. Hopefully this list will come in handy for my fellow brides to be!

 Photo by: Pamm & Nick Mandalou

5 Ways to Prep for an Engagement Party:

1. Take Steps to Look & Feel your Best: Don't try to pack all of your beauty prep into the day of the party. Start teeth whitening 2 weeks early for pearly whites in all of your photos. As I mentioned, I tried out Crest 3D Flexfit Whitestrips  before our party & was impressed with the subtle but noticeable difference (plus, it's a whole lot less expensive than professional whitening.. which means more money for wedding savings)! My sister gave me a manicure & pedicure a few days prior and my mom treated me to a blowout on the morning of our party!

2. Find The Perfect Little White Dress: I had been hunting for a little white dress to wear to our party and stumbled upon the one I ended up with on super sale. It's funny but wearing a LWD actually make you feel like a bride! My mom let me wear my nana's pearls which was so special.

3. Send Invites:  We opted to send digital invites (from Paperless Post). I love being able to track RSVP's through their site, but Minted makes a gorgeous printed invitation. Both offer really stylish and customizable designs.

4. Buy Thank You Notes: We were overwhelmed by kindness from the guests at our party- such thoughtful gestures and heartfelt cards. I picked up a sweet set of cards to send thank you's!

5.  Take a Moment for Yourselves: Between the two of us, I'm much more extroverted than Kyle typically is. As amazing as it is being inundated with love and conversation with friends, I knew it was important for us to take a moment for ourselves. We had a chance to sneak away to sip champagne & share a few laughs and wonder how we got so lucky!


An hour a day of whitening for 2 weeks was a really easy step to add into my normal beauty routine. I will definitely be doing it again for our big day in October. (You can find them at any local drugstore or mass retailer)!

 A few of my engagement party must haves




I'm enjoying this engagement time more than I ever thought I would. Though the wedding planning process has had its stressful moments, so far it's just been a lot of fun. We've been trying to take time to enjoy the moment and where we are at this place in our lives. I'm excited for our future together!

 xoxo, lauren



I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

What I'm Saying Yes to This Year

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I'm working through Lara Casey's PowerSheets. It's a super-thorough workbook and thought process for goal setting and designing a more intentional year (for anyone interested, you can pre-order a 6 month set here). It's been so insightful digging into what I really want most out of life from relationships to career and everything in between.
One of my biggest reflections from 2015 was that there was not enough hours in the day.. every single day. It was glaring that I was exhausting myself chasing perfection and trying to do it all.
Sharing my thoughts on a more intentional 2016 & Lara Casey's #PowerSheets
One of the inital steps in the PowerSheets process is to identify what you're saying yes to this year- so you can make room for what's most important to you! I wanted to share a few of the things I'm saying "yes" and "no" to, and I'd love to hear your list. I'm very focused on cultivating what matters and trying not to sweat the small stuff. As Lara Casey says- little by little, progress adds up!

What will you say yes to this year to focus on the big picture?


A few of the lessons I learned while reflecting on last year were- I can't do it all, it's great to seek advice from your network but even more important to trust my gut, and there's no shame in struggle- the road to success is not always an obvious one!

I thought about the things that fire me up- love, helping people, creating, adventure, connecting, early mornings and great cups of coffee to name a few.

I thought about what I'm saying YES to (& staying accountable about it by writing about it here): more unplugged evenings, making and creating, focus and organization, cultivating new friendships in the creative community, travel, reading more books, healthy body and mind, learning new things, and living simply.

In order to say yes to what's important, these are the things I'm saying no to: time sucks (i.e. mindless scrolling on Instagram), comparison & self-consciousness, trying to do it all, prioritizing social media over date night, and worry over things out of my control.

Though we're only a couple of weeks into 2016, I already feel like I'm on the way to more purposeful year. I know with wedding and future home planning things will get a little crazy, so I'm glad I can identify what's most important to my happiness!

What are you saying yes to this year?

xoxo, lauren



Friday, January 15, 2016

Glam Winter Sequins

Something about dreary weather makes me want to pull out the sequins and pink lipstick. It's like a rebuttal against the winter blues! This sparkly sweatshirt kind of makes my day whenever I wear it.

I'm not going to lie, this week has been exhausting. As hectic as things have been, if I pause to think about it- it's also been filled with so many wonderful things. Kyle & I were interviewed for Our First Drink, I've started working on a re-brand, and I have an upcoming small business marketing workshop at Dream Bank (sign up for our free webinar here)! This year is inevitably going to have its stressful moments while we plan for a wedding & save for a house.

I feel like it's more important than ever to keep it all in perspective. Is anyone else trying to do the same? I'm pretty sure when all else fails, just add sparkle!

Glam up a winter outfit with a sequin sweatshirt
Gold sequins & faux fur vest with pink lipstick
 Style a cozy faux fur vest with a sparkly sequin sweatshirt.
A pop of hot pink accessories and sequins.
Sparkle and cozy faux fur.
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What I'm Wearing: Glam Winter Sequins & Faux Fur
Sequin Sweatshirt: Shop 6pm (similar) | Faux Fur Vest: Nordstrom Rack (similar) | Black Jeans: Paige Denim | Pink Purse: Kate Spade NY (similar) | Pink Lip Gloss: Butter London

Lately I've been loving the athleisure, sports luxe look. I've noticed especially if I'm running errands I start to gravitate towards throwing on some sporty chic New Balance sneakers with my denim or throwing on a cozy but glam sweatshirt like the one I'm wearing in today's outfit post.

What do you do to ward off the winter blues?

xoxo, lauren


P.S. As I mentioned, I'll be speaking on a panel about marketing trends for small businesses on 1/26- sign up for the free webinar here! I'm so excited to share my tips for Pinterest and Instagram!
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