A Weekend in Chicago. Where to stay, what to eat, what to see.

advice, chicago, Dinner, eats, food, guide, Lifestyle, travel

Hi friends,

This past weekend we went to Chicago- and had an absolute blast! Here is a recap of our getaway, and roundup of some of our favorite eats and things to do in the Windy City.

A cozy wine-themed bachelorette party.

advice, Lifestyle, wedding

Y’ALL.

It has been a hott M.I.N.U.T.E. since I have written anything (…I feel like I start out every post like this lately…). But you know what? Sometimes that’s perfectly OK.

Let me tell ya’ why….

No joke, – my life for the past year has been a freaking fairy tale. I thoroughly enjoyed the process of planning a wedding, celebrating (*a lot*) along the way, and ultimately marrying my dude. Lucky– does not even begin to cover it. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t holding my breath- waiting for a shoe to drop. I realize, this euphoric state will not last forever. Undoubtedly- there will be extreme lows ahead…BUT the magic of this year-and-a-half engagement will be something I treasure forever. The memories of this joyous time will warm my heart- even in the darkest of times.

A major thanks to anyone reading this, who helped to make us feel loved and special during this time (even by sending us positive thoughts)- you are so appreciated. Seriously. Hat’s off. Cue the applause. 

In turn, the reason why I have not been writing- is because I have just been LIVING

Living in the moment- happily

Something I suggest everyone tries. 

Life ebbs and flows. And even if you are going through a ‘dull state’ or a ‘rough patch’ right now,…there is still time to stop and smell the roses.

Guys, there are always roses to be smelled… even if they seem poo-covered sometimes. For example, if you’re reading this right now, you woke up today, amiright??

BOOM, thasssa rose hun. 

(Smell it, boo-thang…& yes I am talking to YOU.)

I know I am dramatic, and seriously- eye roll away (permission granted). However, I have found that by taking a second, and focusing on ‘living’…rather than just ‘existing’…anyone’s situation can be improved. If that means taking a social media hiatus, or bingeing a Netflix show for a day (to forget about the world)- that’s totally cool. Focus on you for a minute and see how much it helps. 

Wisdom. There ya go- my transcendent moment. Take or leave it man, – I am not offended. 

WHEW.

You made it this far! Good news. …the deep stuff is over, now we can move on to the fluffy fun stuff.

As the wedding is now done, – and I float back down to earth- attempting to return to normalcy (not very gracefully, I should add)- I am able to tend to the things, which I have willingly neglected.

LIKE…catching up on the old blog-ski. 😉 So, here we are.

For my first post ‘back’ in awhile- I wanted to share my bachelorette party festivities with you!

Now,… a ‘stereotypical’ bachelorette party involves phallic imagery, and extreme quantities of alcohol consumed. Not that there is anything wrong with that, BUT it is not my vibe (I’ve somehow become a 28 year-old-grandma, btw). Since this party was lovingly planned by my younger & sassier little sister…I was a BIT worried by what she had planned… Visions of unwanted lap dances, and unsolicited phone numbers danced in my head…. 

But, boy was I wrong… it was better than I could even dream.

You’ll see.

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She planned something that was so ‘Katie’ (as she said). She absolutely put herself aside and organized something that she knew I would love, even though she would have wanted to do something more risque…  

Best sister award!

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We began the evening with a winery tour and tasting at a local place that I frequent often…probably too often… 😉 She knows me SO well…. the girls and I had a blast. Also, our tour guide was unexpectedly hilarious. We were rolling by the end of the tour. Good hire, Cedar Creek Winery.

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Bonus attendee: My dad or ‘Our Captain’ was sweet enough to rent a bus and drive us around- he was a hit.  

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We then headed home for drinks, appetizers, macaroni and cheese, sandwiches, and salads catered-in from my favorite spot. Such a win. My sister (knowing my love for anything cozy and comforting) had monogrammed sweatshirts made for us and had set up the prettiest decor! 

We ate, drank, and lounged- in style 😉 Absolute perfection.

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My mom’s contribution (besides opening her entire home to us 😉 ) were these gorgeous handmade makeup bags! She is an extremely talented seamstress- with an even bigger heart. Everyone loved them! Such a sweet touch.

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Oh & (NBD) she also ETCHED everyone’s initial onto a wine glass. I need to start calling her Martha from now on. She is #momgoals for real. If you’re jealous- I get it, my mom is the best.

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& finally, what’s a bachelorette party without some silly pictures?

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What a lovely and memorable day. (I told you it was better than a dream)

I hope you enjoyed this post- and just remember to take time and LIVE (like really, actually, truly LIVE) your life. Find a rose to smell, they are all around us.

Also… don’t I have the best (and prettiest) friends ever?!

I think so too. 

 

katie writes sig

 

(Shout-outs: Photo cred: Natalie Knoespel Photography,Winery: Cedar Creek Winery,Food: Out n’ Out)

A Dreamy Summer Bridal Shower

beauty, eats, Lifestyle, wedding

Hi Friends,

So many showers lately- amiright?

I bet everyone reading this has been to at least one or two showers within the past few months. It’s wedding season,…baby season,…wait is that a thing!?..probz not…

…Anyway, my lovely aunt and cousins threw us the most gorgeous wedding shower. I am going to take the easy route on this post…and let the pictures do the talkin’ …enjoy!

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…Seriously….the day was a dream (I wasn’t lying, pictures = proof!!!).

Friends and family joined us from near and far. It was so humbling to be surrounded by those who love and truly support us. Every single detail was perfection. We cannot believe that our wedding is less than 100 days away!

This post leads me into a wedding mini-series that I have been working on, and will be releasing next week.  I have connected with many brides to help write this piece, and am thrilled to share it with you soon. Essentially… it navigates various ‘sticky situations’ that can occur during the wedding planning process, and how to handle them.

…wedding planning… AIN’T. EASY. Y’ALL.

Whether you are planning a wedding or not…this relatable series is sure to have you giggling,…eye rolling,…and possibly even tearing up, too. Wedding planning brings out alllll types of emotions and behaviors.

Ultimately: no matter what you do,… or how contentious you are of one’s feelings,…. someone is going to get offended by your choices.

…And *spoiler alert* THAT’S OK.

For those of you who have submitted an email sharing your ‘sticky’ wedding situation, thank you! For those of you who haven’t… please do. Your privacy is completely respected, and up to your discretion when sharing your story.

Feel free to email me directly at katiewritesblog@gmail.com if you have a sticky situation to share. Get ready for some serious tea to be spilled, my loves…

Real talk ahead…stay tuned.

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Ahoy, it’s a boy! A surprise nautical baby shower.

Baby, eats, Lifestyle

Hello Friends,

First off, I miss you guys.

With wedding planning in FULL effect…and just life in general- I have totally gone ghost on this blog. But here I am y’all! Back in action.

I wanted to write this post because it is a glimpse into my real life, behind the keyboard, and something I really enjoyed doing.

Quick backstory: My friend (and bridesmaid!) is pregnant with her second child, and this time around- it’s a BOY!! So, I thought it would be fun to completely surprise her with a baby shower!!! I chose a nautical theme….and went WILD….

Let me tell you,…it was…

so. dang. fun.

If I do say so myself, it was a total success. Great friends, good food, sweet gifts, and lots of laughs. Here are some pictures from the day….

 

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the moment of surprise…..

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Every baby shower needs a ‘mom-osa’ bar… amiright?!

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DIY nautical flags – such a sweet touch.

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She’s happy because … cake … DUH! Oh, and I mean…mayyyyybe because of the shower….I’m leaning towards the cake though….

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Classic BBQ style summer food- an all around win!

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Thunderstorms in the forecast called for an indoor shindig instead of outdoor. It was a bit squishy, but we made it work and had a blast.

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She was blown away by all of the generous and heartfelt gifts.

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Fun little ‘decorate a diaper & onesie’ station. The results were hilarious…

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Our gift and favor table. Guests left with a beachy smelling Bath and Body Works hand soap with a cute little ‘thank you’ sentiment.

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So there you have it! A nautical baby boy shower. Almost all decor was DIY and so much fun. Don’t be afraid to pinterest and actually attempt those pins from time to time!

Also, I have to give a HUGE shout-out to my mom, fiance, and aunt. Without their help the shower would not have been nearly as beautiful or delicious.

Wishing you all the best,

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My Favorite 5: January Essentials.

Lifestyle

Happy New Year, to all of you lovely humans out there!

First off, I wanted to apologize for my brief absence on the blog. I took some much needed time off and am feeling refreshed and ready for another kick ass year. Cheers, and thank you for the sweet messages that were sent during my break!

Diving in, I thought I would start off the new year with some of my favorite products right now. A few of these items were Christmas gifts, some were simply amazing items I stumbled upon …and had to share. I should also note, everything being featured ranges in price and variety. Enjoy!

 

ugg

 

leggings

skin

 

coat

shave

I hope you enjoyed checking out some of my favorite things! Please comment and fill me in on your January must-have’s.

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Relationships Are Made in the Kitchen: 30 Day Vegetarian/Vegan Meal Prep Challenge! Free Download.

eats

Hey friends!

     My fiance and I decided that we wanted to write a book…on meal prepping! For those of you who follow me on Instagram or Snapchat, you have probably seen our cooking videos.  We meal prep every Sunday afternoon for 5 days worth of food. This is our special time to crack open a good bottle of wine, rock out to some music, and enjoy each other. We now look forward to Sunday’s (I used to dread them),  love to grocery shop, and prepare the food.  I mean, anytime I can make a ‘chore’ more enjoyable…I am alllllllll in. #lifehack

So how does meal prepping build relationships you ask?

Here are our notable effects when we meal prep:

We both feel a sense of relaxation during the day, knowing that we don’t have to worry about meals. The thought of having to run to the grocery store after work, or whip something up upon arriving home is an extra stressor which is completely eliminated by meal prepping.  Coming home to great meals and being properly nourished during the day, results in mental composure. It is much easier to take on life with a full belly! At the end of the day, we are able to focus on each other, rather than a sink full of dirty dishes or an upset stomach from delivery pizza.

Here is a look at what happens when we do not meal prep:

Basically…“if you have no plan, you are planning to fail”…

HANGER. It’s real. It sucks. It wares on relationships. When we don’t meal prep we feel chaotic, and every night seems to be a scramble. Before we began planning meals, we would ravenously get home…barely even greeting one other. Blinded by hunger while bickering at each other, one would angrily order takeout and end the night feeling bloated, annoyed, and not ready to take on the next day.  This was a draining cycle and as our pants got tighter, and wallets and patience ran thin, we realized a change was needed. 

As an avid pinterester, I began to watch meal prepping videos online and even purchased a few books of my own. Starting slow, we began to prep meals together on Sunday afternoons. This quickly became much more than just cooking. It became our special time that we spend together every Sunday, which slingshots us into a great week. In life, there are not many things we can control. However, food is one of them. So, by choosing to control this small aspect of our life, it makes other tasks seem a bit easier.

Soooooo why is it a vegetarian/vegan challenge?

          Although there are numerous reasons to go veg, ours is simple: we feel physically and mentally nourished completely through this way of eating.  We have tried many different diets together. Ketogenic, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, SAD (standard American diet) to name a few. Doing this gave us a real perspective on which type of eating makes us feel best. Most of us shop around before making a big life decision, right? We did the same…except, we ‘shopped’ around for a way of eating! This may sound silly, but we honestly wanted to try all different ‘diets’ before deciding to stick to one.  On a vegetarian/vegan diet, we feel full without the bloat, alert, and mentally clear. One thing we noticed right away, was our ability to wake up in the morning and head to work without that ‘ugh I am so tired’ feeling. We also noticed our moods and outlook on life, in general, improved. We dare you to try it too!

If you are interested in meal prepping, getting your spouse involved in cooking, would like more information, or simply want a few awesome recipes…. please download our eBook for a week of free vegetarian/vegan cooking!  Cheers!

Free Download

Vegetarian Challenge

If you enjoyed this week of eating, we will be releasing a full month of recipes at the end of December gearing up for a healthy January, be sure to check back!

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katie writes sig

Our Engagement Session!

wedding

Hi Friends,

I am going to keep the text for this post short and sweet. I’ll let the pictures do the talkin’.  We had our engagement session in Fells Point, Maryland. It was incredible how well they captured our love for each other.  We cannot wait to be married next fall. Enjoy!

 

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Thank you for scrolling through!

GIVEAWAY!!!!The dreamiest, creamiest, non-dairy yogurt you ever did taste. 

eats

Hi all,

I’ve got a giveaway going on my Instagram right now and wanted to let everyone here know too!! For the longest time, I searched and searched for a delicious vegan yogurt. I tried many; almond, coconut, soy….and none were hittin’ the spot.  

After numerous failed attempts, I stumbled upon Forager Cashewgurt…..

Y’all ….. my…..mind. was. blown

It truly is creamy and delicious! My favorite flavor is the classic vanilla topped with blueberries, Bee Free honey, and cinnamon. However, Foragers vanilla isn’t your run o’ the mill basic vanilla. It’s so legit you can see flecks of real  vanilla bean in the yogurt!!! Try it for yourself. Click below and enter !! 

Good luck, my loves!!! 

Egg free, Pescatarian, Keto Diet? It’s possible.

eats

Hi all,

Today we’re diving into some real talk, about food. Mainly, finding success on the Ketogenic diet with major allergy restrictions. A bit daunting, right?

As my wedding day swiftly approaches, I am highly motivated to get my bridal bum in shape. I’ve had about 10 extra lbs of love hangin’ around, and I am ready for them to be gone. My original goal was to be more svelte by summer, butttttttt that didn’t quite happen. So now I’m backtracking.

After some research, I was intrigued by the Ketogenic diet. Everyone’s doing it, and it seems to work. I am always eager to try something that has brought success to others. The Keto diet fit the bill, there was just one hitch….. (cue the horror music)……..

DUNN…….DUNNN……..DUNNNN……..

FOOD ALLERGIES. I have a few, which makes following diets, to a Tee, nearly impossible. Keto being no different. My main intolerances are eggs, peanuts, and chicken. I choose to avoid all poultry, pork, and red meats too.

The Ketogenic diet is a way of eating that involves the consumption of high protein/fat, and very low carbohydrates. Therefore, typical Keto meal plans include numerous recipes featuring meat and eggs. Here are some simple ways to make the Keto diet more manageable, for those with food allergies.

1. Use egg replacements. I love eggs and when I found out I was allergic to them I was devastated. My favorite swap is the VeganEgg by follow your heart. Honestly, when using the VeganEgg to make an omelet or frittata, I don’t even miss the real thing. This product works well for baking too. It is especially great for low carb pancakes and muffins. I love it. My favorite way to prepare the VeganEgg is with some colby jack cheese, any veggies I have in the house, a little cayenne, topped with some sour cream and salsa. Tasty and Keto approved. Below you will see two of my fave breakfasts with recipes linked.

eggs

Side note: This is what the VeganEgg looks like. Click on the picture if you’re interested in visiting their website.  My local grocer keeps these in the refrigerated ‘vegetarian’ section. They do not actually need to be refrigerated though, so you might find them in an aisle.

Did I mention how much I love, loveeee these pancakes? They totally crush my doughy-carby-sweet cravings (and they’re even good for you!!) Top them with some sugar free syrup, and you’ve got a party. YUM.

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Here is the perfect frittata recipe. I just throw in whatever veggies I can find and it turns out flawlessly every time.

the mostdeliciousand healthysnacks to eat

2. Swap out peanuts for almonds. This tip is so easy to do, and many of you might already.  Almond butter is beyond luscious and I could eat it by the spoonful. I like to make my own, but if I don’t have time, this Barney AB is the bomb. (I order it right on Amazon)

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3. Exchange meats for seafood.  Substitution has been my savior when it comes to Keto. There are already tons of Keto seafood recipes, but if you’re trying to follow a specific meal plan (like on an app) this helps to stick to it. Since I am so new to Keto, I just downloaded meal plans online so that I didn’t have to do any guess work. Here is a Ketogenic chicken stir-fry recipe that I followed, just swapping out the chicken for shrimp. Viola! Allergy friendly.

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4. Utilize meat substitutes, SOME are Keto friendly. I love a Boca patty or Morningstar farms breakfast ‘sausage’, here and there. It’s not something I crave everyday, but it is nice to have options. I was never a huge meat eater to begin with, but seeing tons of beautiful Keto pictures online gives me meat cravings every once in awhile!

These are my favorite Boca burgers. I like to top them with cheese, avocado, pickles, mayo, and sugar free ketchup.

51XFdKUqmTLI enjoy these breakfast patties with a side of avocado or vegan eggs. I like to drizzle a bit of Walden Farms sugar- free syrup over them too.

c6699cf6-6e19-4d66-890a-3d078a37edab_1.8342f0df9130e2c95eaa03b4b63591a2Like I said, I am pretty new to this way of eating. I simply wanted to share a few things that have helped me so far. After only a month of Keto, I have definitely noticed some changes in my body. YEY!  This is the first diet that does not feel like a diet at all. Also my mood has remained positive, because protein/fat is satiating. So there you have it! I hope you find these tips and tricks helpful for following a modified Keto diet. Please let me know what your favorite Pescatarian Keto recipes are!

katie writes sig

I tried it: eyebrow microblading. Everything you need to know.

beauty

be real

As promised, I’maaa be open with you guys. That being said, I wanted to share my most recent beauty endeavor: microbladed eyebrows.

I need to note, this is not a paid ad, nor I am trying to sell you anything. I simply needed my readers to know about a service that has made my life  so. much. easier.

First of all, for those of you who may not know what the heck microblading is, you’re not alone. Microblading is a form of semi-permanent tattoo which lasts for about one year. It involves the use of tiny needles (instead of a tattoo gun) that make up a small blade. This helps deposit pigment under the skin, creating natural hair-like strokes.

Woah. Scary sounding, right?! Seriously though, I am an enormous baby and have zero pain tolerance. If I can do it, you can too. And spoiler alert: it wasn’t even that bad.

 Why microbladed brows, you ask? Short answer… I was sick and tired of drawing them on like a cartoon character every morning. When it comes to beauty, my goal is to be as lazy as possible. Being able to roll out of bed in the morning, with my browz’ on fleek, was a huge #win. This girl has reallllllly light eyebrows. I’m talking practically nonexistent compared to the dark hair on my head (thank you hair dye). I was desperate for anything that would make my daily makeup routine easier and faster. And ohhhh did it ever.

I’ll walk you through the entire Microblading process from start to finish. I am hopeful that this post will ease the nerves of someone out there, in the blogosphere, who is on the fence about microblading.

At around 9am on a hot June morning, I arrived at my appointment and was kindly greeted by the staff. After a brief wait, I was escorted into a small spa room with a lovely reclining chair. Think… boujee pedicure recliner… meets dentist chair. It was glorious, they even had a cozy blanket and tea waiting for me! A friendly woman named Leila was my microblading esthetician for the process.

The first part of my appointment started with an analysis of my face, and what brow shape/color would look the most natural on me. I loved how precise and timely she was while doing this. Semi-Permanent makeup ON YOUR FACE  is a semi-terrifying thought. However, my nerves were totally eased after this part and I was confident they would look perfect. Below you will see my barely-there, shapeless brows before anything had been done to them. Yikes.

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Leila worked intently to create the perfect eyebrow shape for me. She used a combo of marker, and pencils to customize the right look. She even used a protractor looking thing to make sure the angles were correct (OK, okkkkkk, I guess you do use math in real life). The white goop is numbing cream, this stuff was fantastic. After applying the gel, I relaxed for about a half hour while it did it’s thang.

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Once sufficiently numbed, she took out the tattoo tool (it looked like an exacto knife) and went to work. For those of you who have a tattoo, it did feel a bit like that. It was not painful, just an irritating repetitive scratching sensation. Without the numbing gel it probably would have been uncomfortable. She passed over each brow twice with the tool, and then coated them with a gel pigment. Here is a picture of my brows soaking in the color. She waited about 20 minutes before wiping the dye off. This step just ensures that the skin completely absorbs the color.

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Here are my brows after wiping off the pigmented gel. The purple marker dots remained on my skin, but washed off after a few days. You can see my eyebrows look super natural and healthy. I was amazed! I had to return about a month later for one last application. We did the entire process over again. It did go much faster the second time because there was no need to re-draw and measure.

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Drumroll……

 Here are my final results. I couldn’t be happier.

Microblading is something I wish I would have done years ago. My advice? DO IT. You’ll thank me. I will continue to go back every year, until I die, to have them retouched (no lie). I am amazed at how much time I had wasted trying to get that perfect Kardashian-esque brow. Although I haven’t quite reached that level of brow-glory, I’ll take what I can get.

 

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Thank you for checking this post out! Please don’t hesitate to ask questions, I am always happy to respond.

I had my brows done at the following spa. Mention this post for a discount.

http://allurestudiosalon.com/

katie writes sig