February Books

It's no secret that I love to read all different types of books--I chalk it up to my "never stop learning" mindset that's so much a part of me. I'm tend to be reading at least two books at a time--usually one personal development book and one fiction book. I like the contract between genres because the personal development books help me learn, while the fiction books help me to relax and unwind.

I typically keep a book in my gym bag, one in my nightstand, and one in my work bag--this way, no matter where I am, I always have something to pass the time if I find myself with a few unexpected minutes. I read while walking on the treadmill at the club, while waiting in a doctor / dentist lobby, if I arrive a few minutes early to meet a friend for a coffee date, etc. This is how I'm able to plow through a few books per month--by being intentional about making time to read verses scrolling through Instagram for the millionth time.

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In the past (almost) month, I've read so many good books and wanted to share! First up, we have The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena. This book caught my attention within the first chapter and kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end. True story, I actually read this whole book in two sittings at Barnes & Noble.

It's a story about a couple that goes next door for a dinner party while leaving their sleeping baby at home since the babysitter cancels at the last minute. The baby is abducted and as the book unfolds, more and more secrets about the couple rise to the surface. Such a good story and well-worth your time. 

The next book I read was Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst. Andy gave me this book for Christmas and I've been reading it every day while walking on the treadmill during my lunch break at work. This is a book that all women need to read--I even picked up an extra copy to sent to my bestie down in Hawaii because it is that good! The way in which Lysa writes this book makes you feel like you're old friend chatting in your living room. She's open, honest, and has a great sense of humor--I love that she makes you feel like we're all in this together. The overall theme of the book is dealing with rejection--from friends, enemies, and situations, and how we can let that become our identity, or grow from it. 

I joined a new small group back in September and I kid you not, this is the best small group I've ever been a part of! I love these girls so much--our conversations, friendships, and studies have been just what my heart has needed in this season of life. We're working through For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn, which explains how the male mind works. Talk about eye-opening! I love that the content is based on research, studies, and polls--some of the numbers blew my mind! This book has not only sparked some great conversations within our group, it has also helped me understand how Andy thinks as well. We'll be moving to the book about women, For Men Only, next month.

The last book I read this month was The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. I was really looking forward to reading this book and therefore breezed through it fairly quickly. I'll definitely say that it was one of those books where I loved it at first, then I wasn't sure, then I loved it at the end! I'm a huge fan of books that don't reveal the mystery until the very end, so this one did not disappoint on that note. I felt like the suspense kept me interested in the book but I feel like I was a little disappointed when I found out the answer to who the woman in cabin 10 really was.

What books have you read lately?
Any thrillers that you'd recommend?
I need some new ones to read on the plane next week.

Spring Shopping

Hello, and Happy Valentine's Day! Now that it's the evening after Valentine's, my mind is already on all things spring! With our upcoming spring break vacation, I've been scoping out all of the bright colors that are hitting the stores this time of year. I've created a little roundup of some of my favorite styles, colors, and items that I've got my eyes on lately! 

1. This J.Crew 3" Chino Short looks so cute and stylish for late spring and summer--I love the brilliant azalea color, but am also thinking that the baroque blue and storm grey colors would be perfect for mixing and matching all summer long!

2. For many years, the J.Crew Tippi sweater has been a staple in my wardrobe--they are lightweight, fitted, and come in a variety of colors--I'm loving this neon citron color--the perfect contrast against a golden summer tan.

3. I've been a member of Rocksbox for over a year now and it is one of my very favorite things--it's like Christmas every time I receive a new set in the mail! If you'd like to try it out, you can use my code LAURABFF708 for a FREE month! I received a Loren Hope Sarra small cuff last summer and they recently released this pretty blush color! It would be the perfect addition to a spring outfit! 

4. Leather pants! Need I say more? There have been so many girls sporting these at work and I love how they jazz up a simple sweater and leggings ensemble. I am loving this pair from Nordstrom.

5. On the topic of pants, I have a thing for ripped jeans--I love how they add a little edge to an outfit while still keeping it on the casual side. I love this light-wash jean from Nordstrom for cooler spring evenings.

6. I received an open-back pullover last year from a friend and never thought I'd like this style. Then, one day I was freezing and grabbed it from the back of my dresser drawer and was surprised by how much I enjoyed wearing it! The open back makes it easy to switch up your look since you can pair it with different colored tanks underneath. This minty-colored chakra sweatshirt from Athleta is definitely on my radar!

7. I'm thinking that 2017 is going to be the year I pull the trigger on a pull of classic Hunter boots. I'm picturing this glossy pale pink colored boots paired with skinny jeans and my military jacket on a drizzly April morning.

8. My sister and I were at the mall last weekend when we came across these front-tie shirts--at first I wasn't really crazy about them, but after coming across a few while browsing the web, I think they've grown on me! This gray one from Banana Republic actually has a slight pinstripe pattern to it--such a fun detail! 

9. Kendra Scott is one of my favorite jewelry companies; my friend Colleen actually introduced me to KS when I was visiting Hawaii last summer. I love the simple styles paired with classic gold and a pop of vibrant color. The Rayne necklaces from her collection are one of my favorite ways to dress up a plain pullover or longsleeved tee! Love this coral one for spring!

10. The majority of my sweaters come from J.Crew and Banana Republic--their lightweight, fitted sweaters are perfect for layering over a basic tank or under your favorite jacket. I think this neon violet Italian cashmere blend pullover would be so cute paired with my white jeans and denim jacket for Easter! 

11. Along with Kendra Scott's Rayne pendant necklaces, I also adore the Elle earrings since they're small enough to be lightweight yet large enough to really dress up a basic outfit. How pretty are these turquoise drop earrings?

12.  It's no secret that I have a mild obsession with Nike and may or may not currently own at least five pairs. I love these pastel pink Nikes--they'd be so cute paired with a basic white tee and a pair of light-wash distressed denim.

What are some colors / items you're looking forward to wearing as the seasons change? 
Do you have any upcoming vacations planned?

Inspiration Out & About: Mall of America

Last Friday evening, we headed to the Mall of America (MOA) to check out a new restaurant. While walking around before our dinner reservation, we came across some gorgeous design inspiration throughout the mall.

The first installation that we stumbled upon was this gorgeous paper hearts display in the Swatch store. I adore the bright, bold color palette and the paper layers that make up each individual heart. I'll definitely be saving this color palette as inspiration for my design projects.

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It's no secret that I have a passion for lettering, and this quirky lettering on the entrance window of Banana Republic caught my eye. I love the gray color and the simple lettering that mimics that of a quick jot with a marker.

After dinner, we continued to browse the mall--as we were walking along the first floor, DavidsTea caught my eye! These camel illustrations filled with bold patterns were so fun! 

As we browsed around inside of the shop, so much of their packaging caught my eye. I absolutely adore Valentine's Day, so their seasonal teas were right up my alley! Pinks, Reds, patterns, and gold foil, oh my! 

Here I am swooning over the pretty patterns on this packaging. I was completely in my element inside of this store! 

This color wheel of teas was so pretty--I am truly a marketer's dream.

I loved admiring the clean and simple illustrations on these seasonal packages of tea! I left the store that evening feeling so inspired by the gorgeous color palettes, patterns, and illustrations that made up the seasonal tea packaging at DavidsTea! 

Are you a tea fan? I'm more of a coffee person, but I do enjoy fruity-flavored teas on occasion! 

Hanging with the LTU Crew

Last week, my Life Time University (LTU) team at work headed over to Punch Bowl Social for an afternoon bowling and bonding!

PBS recently opened and after hearing my coworker's raving reviews, I was looking forward to checking it out! 

PBS definitely did not disappoint! I was impressed by the unique atmosphere right when I walked in--it had an edgy vibe to it and I loved how open and spacious it was. There are a variety of games to choose from, a full bar and menu, and even karaoke! 

Before we headed out, I checked out their website to get a feel for where we were going. I loved the lettering that they feature on their website! 

As everyone began to arrive, we got suited up with bowling shoes, drinks, and a taco bar! 

My friend, Kari, brought her A-game by wearing her snazzy bowling socks! 

On that note, can we just take a minute to realize either A. how small my feet are, or b. how big my friend Doyle's feet are. He's over a foot taller than me, so there's that! 

We spent the afternoon bowling, chatting, and just goofing around! It was so nice to get out of the office and connect with members of my team in more of a social setting. I told my sister that we should have a double date at PBS so that we can check out more of the activities they offer--the giant Scrabble game sounds right up my alley! 

Group shot right before we all split ways and headed out for the evening! What a fun way to break up the week! 

Ever been to a place like Punch Bowl Social?
Are you good at bowling?
I'm awful! 

Typical Day of Eats

What I eat is actually a question that I get fairly often from family and friends--I think part of this has to do with that fact that I work for a large health + fitness company. I promise I don't have all the answers--this is simply what works for me. I started eating healthy right after college and eventually figured out what works best for my body so that I feel my best. I've also worked with a nutrition coach before, but that's a story for another day. ;)

My friend Kari inspired me to purchase this meal prep system (I own the hot pink one) and I absolutely love it--it makes eating healthy on the go so simple! I've always been one of those people that eats six or so small meals per day rather than three large meals; I have issues with hypoglycemia, so eating every few hours keeps my energy and blood sugar balanced. 

This meal prep system comes with a bunch of these cute little containers to store your meals in--I love that they're clear--making it easy to see which meal I want to grab next. I've ordered a few add-on packs for mine so that I have containers in multiple sizes. 

I start each morning with coffee--either at home, or I swing by my neighborhood Starbucks on the way into work. At home, I use my Keurig to brew a cup of Starbucks Verona and add a splash of organic half & half. My go-to order at Starbucks is a venti iced Americano with extra ice and a splash of cream. #highmaintenance

Once I get settled in at my desk (computer on, coat off, check emails and calendar, etc.), I make a shake. I bring my mini Ninja blender and whip up a protein shake consisting of Life Time Fitness whey protein, L-glutamine, probiotic powder, unsweetened almond milk, Life Greens (Life Time's version of Dynamic Greens), peanut butter, and ice. Once in awhile I forget to bring the blade attachment for my blender, so I run across the parking lot to grab a Mocha Madness shake at the Life Cafe inside the club.

Around 10am, I break into my snack, which is usually a protein paired with a carb. Organic string cheese and a delicious orange were on tap for this day. Throughout the morning I typically drink one Camelbak full of water--I think that's around 24oz. I'm also one of those people that has to have a ton of ice in my water--I love when it's freezing cold! This is also why I sit with a blanket in my lap all day.

I usually eat lunch around noon and tend to work through lunch but I'd love to break this habit soon so that I can have a "real" break. My days are always just so busy--poor excuse, but it's the truth. My lunches at work are almost always a salad, soup, or a random mix of protein + veggies as shown above. This particular lunch was an organic chicken sausage, brussels sprouts, red + orange peppers, and coconut oil.

I also drink at least one of these LaCroix sparkling waters each day--I'm obsessed with them! Cran-Raspberry, Coconut, and Passionfruit are my favorite flavors. I also keep bars of dark chocolate in my desk drawer and have a small square almost every day following lunch.

Around 2:30pm, I'm ready for a snack. One of my favorites lately is fresh veggies, organic guacamole, and some flavored water--this peach lemonade flavor is so good and definitely curbs my sweet tooth! 

This is what I call my "car snack"--it's what I eat while driving to my next activity after work--whether it be a coffee date with a friend, the gym, running errands, etc.

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I just always need a little something between leaving work and eating dinner to avoid that awful "hangry" feeling! 

My dinners usually consist of a protein, healthy fat, something green, and a complex carb like a sweet potato. I don't eat red meat and haven't since high school so my proteins are almost always chicken, turkey, egg whites, or protein powder. Overall, I don't really "love" meat and could easily be a vegetarian without any issues.

I always have a snack in the evening before bed otherwise I wake up hungry in the night--some of my favorites are a smoothie / protein shake, homemade popcorn, small bowl of cereal, or some fruit and peanut butter.

I'm a creature of habit and generally eat the same things over and over again until I get sick of them--then I take a break and eat something else before cycling my old favorites back into my daily routine again. 

What are some of your favorite snacks?
What do you typically pack for lunch each day?

Creating a Life Vision

Oh, hey! I figured I'd clear the dust off my blog and put my writing hat back on. Blogging is something that I LOVED a few years ago since it served as a creative outlet. I've made a list of post ideas and they'll be popping up in the near future so be sure to come along for the ride! Today I'll be talking about my love for creating a life vision! 

My life mentor is big on vision boards--you know, the kind where there are tons of images clipped out of magazines and glued to a poster board? In fact, she creates one every year to serve as inspiration for her upcoming year. It's also important to note that she does every. single. thing. on that board in that year. Jayme is definitely one of the most goal-oriented and inspiring people that I've ever met--and the best part is that she sits three desks away from me at work so we get to chat on the regular.

After seeing Jayme's boards, I was feeling inspired to create one of my own. However, rather than creating one for the year, I chose to create a life vision board. One evening, I sat on my kitchen island (because that's totally normal, right?), blasted some of my favorite music, and got to work. I started out by collecting all of my images to a Pinterest board, and then later creating a simple template in InDesign to drop my images in. Since then, I've printed mine and have it hanging both at my desk and framed in the hallway of our home. Glancing at it each and every day brings a smile to my face as a reminder of where I'm headed in life.

Going left to right on my vision board shown above, below are the meanings behind the images if you're interested! 

1. Live a creative life—incorporate my love for illustration into my life, draw more, hang my art on the walls of my home

2. Rid my life of anything that doesn’t fit my vision—follow the no-clutter mindset and embrace minimalism so that I can focus on the things that truly bring me joy.

3. Discover my personal style—I'll do a separate post on this because I feel like I've finally defined my style over the last six months. 
4. Welcome a golden retriever into our family

5. Invest time into journaling / reading / reflection / to ensure I'm in alignment with creating my best life
6. Incorporate psychology into my daily routine—whether it be as a life coach, getting my PhD, etc.
7. Learn to play the piano

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8. Live a healthy and fit life / be my best self
9. Learn calligraphy
10. Visit Australia
11. Live a life that I love
12. Be more open to “just go”—take advantage of opportunities, do things that are out of my comfort zone, etc.

13. Have strong and healthy friendships—ones where I feel safe, heard, and valued
14. Own a home that we love—a place that we love to come home to
15. Be brave with my life

16. Prioritize my mental health through mindfulness + meditation

17. Learn to be okay with being alone, schedule down time, enjoy my own company
18. Live by the beach

19. Say “no" more often so that I can say “yes" to things that bring me joy
20. Live an authentic + intentional life / be free
21. Have a family
22. Write my autobiography
23. Learn to truly love myself and restore the relationship with my body—live a life that reflects this

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24. Continually strengthen our marriage and be intentional about maintaining this important relationship

Have you ever created a vision board? 
What are three things you'd like to accomplish either this year or in your lifetime?

Chalkboard Frame

This past weekend, I decided that I was going to make my DIY chalkboard frame project happen! After hitting the gym early on Saturday morning, I met up with a friend to check out some local antique shops and the good old GW for a large frame that I could transform into my very own chalkboard. We ended up finding the perfect sized frame and although I'm not usually a DIY / crafty person, I was excited to take a stab at transforming a crazy-looking 90's framed print into a chalkboard to hang behind my bar cart.

Later that evening, my friend and I sat in my bathroom and chatted while I covered everything with chalkboard paint. It took a couple of coats to cover the existing art, but in the end, I was impressed with how smoothly the paint transformed a piece of glass into a usable chalkboard surface. In addition to the large frame, I also painted a smaller frame to hang in my entryway.

After the chalkboard section was completely dry, I began painting the trim a bright white to help it "pop." The chalkboard portion needs to sit for three days before I can begin covering it with my handlettering, and the trim needs a second coat of white, but overall, I am so pleased with how this turned out! I'm looking forward to having an outlet to showcase my lettering and chalk doodles! 

Valentines for Coworkers

A few coworkers and I recently started a group where we meet a couple times per month to chat about creativity, work on personal projects, and collaborate on ideas. After our kick-off meeting, I was feeling inspired to get back into my illustration groove of creating look-alike characters. I whipped up these little Valentines for the members of our group, along with a couple extra people that I'd had the pleasure of getting to know at my new job. 

Chalkboard Lettering

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My friend, Jenny, recently transformed her coffee table to have a chalkboard top on it. Whenever we hang out at her condo, I find so much joy in doodling all over the top of it while we sit and chat. Last weekend, she hosted a "Galentine's" party which consisted of us lifting at Life Time, then coming back to her place for chocolate cake. It's all about balance, right? 

Love You Forever Custom Baby Print

Last week I wrapped up a custom handlettering project that I've been itching to share! This pretty print features a phrase from the well-known children's book and is perfectly fitting for a nursery.

So Long, Appendix!

Last weekend, I unexpectedly had an appendectomy due to acute appendicitis. The whole thing was kind of a blur since it happened so quickly, but the good news is that I'm on the mend! 

To be honest, I always thought getting your appendix out would be much more dramatic than my experience was. I had some cramping the week prior and brushed it off as no big deal. That Wednesday, I lifted weights (leg day) and noticed that my hip felt funny the next day. I also felt a little nauseous that evening but assumed I just had an upset stomach from something I ate. I figured I had pulled a hip flexor since the majority of the pain was coming from the front of my right hip--especially when I moved my leg or twisted my abdomen. I googled "appendicitis" just for kicks but was reassured that it wasn't the case when I read the symptoms of "flu like characteristics and sharp, debilitating pain."

As the night went on, I tossed and turned as the pain in my right side became more severe. The next morning, I went to the chiropractor to have her check it out since they're used to all of my sore muscles from lifting weights. My chiropractor expressed concern about it being my appendix and recommended that I go straight to urgent care to get it checked. Upon arriving to urgent care, they immediately brought me back to a room and did an ultrasound and then a CT scan. After waiting for what felt like forever, the doctor came into the room and told me that I had early-onset appendicitis and that they would be doing a direct transfer to the local hospital so that I could be prepped for surgery.

Once I arrived at the hospital around 3:30pm, they immediately brought me to my own room, gave me an IV with antibiotics (in case my appendix burst), and some fluids since I was dehydrated and hadn't eaten anything yet that day. They continued to monitor me before sending me off to surgery around 9pm. The surgery took about one hour from start to finish and once it was complete, they kept me in the recovery room for awhile to make sure everything was okay before moving me back to my room to rest. I remember that my throat hurt from the breathing tube and I was so thirsty--I swear, apple juice has never tasted so good in my life! I was really tired after the procedure and slept fairly well despite being in the hospital. My care team woke me up pretty much every hour to check my vitals and the incisions but thankfully I had no problem falling back asleep each time.

The next morning, I ate breakfast and lunch at the hospital before they discharged me--they wanted to make sure my digestive system was back in order before letting me go. Nothing really sounded good so I choked down some bland foods like toast and applesauce before heading home. The recovery has been a lot easier than I imagined--I took it easy last week to let my body rest and allow my incisions to heal. My appendectomy was done laparoscopically, so I just have three small incisions in the center of my lower abdomen. My appetite is still a little wonky and I feel exhausted anytime I get up and walk around, but I'm slowly starting to feel like myself again and am thankful that everything went well! 

Makeup Essentials

I have to admit, I'm a bit of a product junkie. I love trying out new makeup products, colors, and techniques. In my spare time, I enjoy watching tutorials on YouTube for new ideas on how to apply some of my favorite products.

My everyday face routine is pretty simple; below are the products that I use (and love!) on the regular:

1. Pur Minerals Correcting Primer - This primer goes on super smooth and keeps my foundation in place all day without feeling greasy or dewy. Check it out here.

2. Pur Minerals 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Makeup in Golden Medium - After using liquid foundations all my life, I recently switched over to a powdered foundation now that my skin is clearer and requires less coverage. Check it out here.

3. Sonia Kashuk Ultra Luxe Lip Gloss in Fairest Flush - The perfect lip gloss for an everyday look--it's nice and light while adding just the right amount of color. Check it out here.

4. Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion in Original - My eyeshadow never used to last past lunchtime until I switched to this eyeshadow primer. This creamy base helps keep my eyeshadow looking fresh all day long. Check it out here.

5. Anastasia Dipbrow Pomade in Taupe - This is easily my favorite product--a smooth pomade that you apply using a small angled brush and a spoolie to even out and fill in your brows for a more defined look. Check it out here.

6. IT Cosmetics No-Tug® Waterproof Gel Eyeliner in Black - A friend of mine recently recommended this liner to me and I love how it glides on evenly and lasts all day without needing any touch-ups. Check it out here.

7. Urban Decay Perversion Mascara in Blackest Black - Great for getting that long, thick lash look! Check it out here.

8. Urban Decay Naked2 Palette - With its rich, pigmented colors, this is hands-down my favorite brand of eyeshadow. The variety of colors allows you to play around with different looks and create the perfect combination for any occasion from everyday to a fancy evening look. Check it out here.

9. Essie Nail Lacquer in Sand Tropez - I always seem to have my nails painted and this classy neutral is perfect for an everyday look. I love using this color as a base coat as well! Check it out here.

What is your #1 must-have cosmetic item that you use on a regular basis?

Be Here

"Stress is caused by being here
but wanting to be there."
-Eckhart Tolle

I found this quote the other day while browsing on Pinterest--there was just something about it that really resonated with me. Too often, I find myself caught up in the planning, controlling, and analyzing rather than just being present in the moment.

I crafted this simple handlettering project as a reminder of how wonderful it truly is when we finally let go of the to-do lists and running in circles to just simply let ourselves be here, right now--enjoying the moment for what it is.

Cozy Faves for Chilly Days

If you live in an area that involves frigid temps and snowy days, you know how important it is to have the right gear. Over the past few years, our Minnesota winters have been even more brutal than usual (is that even possible?)--I remember last year there was one day in January where the high was -19*--so cold that it literally hurts to be out in the elements for more than a mere second.

Although our temps haven't been that brutally cold yet this winter, we have had a few chilly days that make you want to stay inside curled up underneath a blanket. For the days that I do venture out, I always make sure I'm all bundled up to stay as warm as possible. Some of my favorite winter items include:

1. Nike Pro Hyperwarm Tights. I purchased these a couple years ago right before we went on an anniversary trip up north. Not only are they flattering and comfortable, they're also a great base layer since they have a fleece lining on the inside. They're perfect for lounging around in on a cold day or for layering up before heading outside. Last winter, I accidentally tossed these into my gym bag instead of my regular tights and let's just say that was one sweaty workout--definitely not recommended for indoor training. Check them out here.

2. The North Face Guardian Gloves. Last year I invested in a warmer pair of gloves but they ended up not making the cut on those horribly cold days. This year I purchased the heavy duty waterproof and windproof gloves to keep my hands toasty warm--no more chilly fingers while trying to fill my vehicle with gas! Check them out here

3. Archer Farms Sea Salt Caramel Hot Cocoa. We stocked up on a variety of k-cups in preparation for hosing both family Christmases this year and this ended up being everyone's favorite. Since then, we've purchased multiple boxes of this delicious hot chocolate that has a salty-sweet flavor thanks to the sea salt and caramel/toffee flavors. It's the perfect little treat to enjoy on a winter evening or to fill your travel tumbler with to enjoy during your snowy commute. Check it out here.

4. The North Face Fuzzy Earflap Beanie. This hat is a definite must for me on days when the windchill is terribly cold--it keeps my head and ears toasty warm. Bonus, I can still put my hood up while sporting this cute purple hat. Check it out here.

5. Sorel Joan of Arctic Boots. These are my favorite boots, ever. Waterproof, comfortable, and cute--what more could you want? They keep my toes warm and dry no matter what the conditions are like outside. Perfect for commuting on blizzardy days. Check them out here.

Hello!

This is my brand new blog!

I've strayed away for quite some time but this little space of mine has always been in the back of my mind as I've gone about my life. I miss the creative outlet of recapping bits and pieces of my day-to-day life and my work and am planning on popping in every now and then with random tidbits and projects.

Enjoy!