BEST BAGS FOR WORK

Dress like a boss and impress your coworkers.

Tote bag

I have a pretty long commute to work every day, so I usually have to tote a lot of things with me for the journey. Because of this, I appreciate a good bag and understand it’s a crucial part of any work day.  It has to be functional since it holds so many important pieces (wallet, makeup, laptop, work materials, etc) but that doesn’t mean it has to be clunky or boring.  If you’re like me, you desire something that’s equal parts fashionable and functional.  Here are some great options:

Leather backpack– Luckily, backpacks are trendy right now so the options are plentiful.  Backpacks are great because they can hold so much, while leaving your hands free.  There’s a reason we all used them in school! A leather backpack is a great option because it can be used for so many things outside of a commute- like music festivals! I bought a similar option for a trip to Montana.

Messenger bag– Another bag borrowed from the school days. It has the capacity to hold your laptop and can be worn across the body to balance the weight.

Leather (or faux leather) tote bag– When I first started commuting, I lugged my laptop back and forth each day in a pricey leather tote bag.  Within no time, the straps were starting to fall apart from the weight of the computer.  Trying to avoid completely destroying a good bag, I bought this version from Target.  It was large enough to hold all my supplies, durable, cute and under $40.  I chose the black/red version since it went with so much of my work wardrobe, but it’s available in so many cute colors.  I should mention that over a year later, my tote is still going strong!

Herschel backpack– It seems like it’s become universally acceptable for anyone and everyone to wear a Herschel backpack to work, and for good reason.  They are functional and durable, with padded straps and multiple compartments, but they’re also cute and come in a variety of colors and prints.  You can choose from multiple types and sizes to best suit your work needs. These are also great for traveling!

Image c/o

FIVE WORKOUTS FOR BUSY GIRLS

Motivation to get you through hump day!

Short Workouts

No time to work out? That’s an excuse most of us have reached for from time to time.  And while sometimes it’s the truth, sometimes it’s also what we tell ourselves to avoid going to the gym when we just don’t feel like it.

If you’re crunched for time or just don’t feel like committing to a long class, there are plenty of other options to get those calories burning quickly.  Try one of these workouts, which are all under an hour, to get your endorphins AND some extra downtime.

At home:

  1. Ten Minute Workouts
  2. 15 Minute Belly Workout
  3. Circuit Workout

Fitness Classes:

  1. 45 Minute Spin Class (via Soul Cycle)
  2. 55 Minute Barre Class (via Pure Barre)
  3. 30 Minute Stretch Class both heated and unheated (via The Barre Code)

Photo c/o

 

 

Day at the Museum

Inspiration for the new week!

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I have a confession: I love museums.  It brings out the inner history and pop culture nerd in me.  Chicago boasts an impressive museum campus; the Shedd Aquarium, the Adler Planetarium, and the Field Museum, they all reside next to each other in addition to other attractions throughout the city.

On a Saturday a few weeks back, I finally made it to the Field Museum, which focuses on natural history. Although I had to layer up my outerwear due to the unseasonable cold, I went for an “Indiana Jones” themed outfit for the occasion, sporting a hat and cross body bag.  I’m not sure how well my outfit would have served Indy, but it was perfect for an afternoon admiring dinosaur bones!

My favorite part were the rows of ancient shark teeth!

 

Fashion note: I’m wearing a hat by Anthropologie, Madewell top, Gap jeans and a vintage Dooney and Bourke bag.

WEEKLY WRAP UP/WEEKEND COUNTDOWN

What got me through the week and what I’m looking forward to this weekend!

 

This week was about wrapping up a lot of projects and crossing off some important things from my to-do list.  There wasn’t much time for anything else, but I’m thankful for some of the mid-week guilty pleasures that helped the days go by fast.  I’m looking forward to embracing the athleisure trend this weekend while I finish the rest of my tasks in sweatpants, and hopefully squeeze in some time movie watching.  Enjoy your weekend!

  1. The “Real Housewives” are a highlight of my week, sad as that might be.  Almost anything on Bravo is, but especially the housewives.  It’s a weeknight favorite for me!
  2. A hectic week calls for a sweet treat.  I wrapped my work week with a stop at my favorite bakery.  You can use their recipe to recreate it at home!
  3. Fancy sweatpants is a look I can definitely embrace for some errands and a movie marathon.
  4. This was my favorite movie of Oscar season and it’s also based on a novel, which I plan to start this weekend.  Watch it or read the novel on which it was based.  

 

photos credits in order: (photo #1 , photo #3 , photo #4 )

Baked Oatmeal

Recipes for the curious cook!

baked oatmeal

I used to never consider myself an oatmeal person, Something about the consistency was always a bit off putting to me.  But when you’re employed as a cereal merchant, you’re kind of obliged to try everything, oatmeal included.

This recipe features the best fruit/oatmeal combination, using multiple types of berries and bananas.  It will fill your kitchen with amazing aromas while baking and works just as well as a healthy dessert as it does for breakfast.  I added chocolate chips for a decadent spin and I’d highly recommend doing the same!

 

Go ahead and give it a try tonight!

RAISE THE BARRE

MOTIVATION TO GET YOU THROUGH HUMP DAY!

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Ballet is something I practiced for many years throughout my childhood and young adult life. I stopped practicing around the time I was preparing for college, not wanting to commit to a practice after years of after school activities.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I struggled for awhile as an adult with developing a regular fitness routine, but eventually I found exercises I could regularly embrace (I wrote about one here- link to post).  Barre was no exception.

The barre craze had been happening for a few years before I joined in.  I heard about the classes, but since I was pretty committed to a yoga/running only routine, I didn’t pursue it.  Eventually my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to give it a try…and I’m so glad I did.

Maybe my dance background made it easier to adapt to the environment, but that doesn’t mean the exercise itself was any easier.  If you like to work multiple areas of the body in one class- arms, abs, glutes, thighs- then this is for you.  If you like to break a sweat while building long, lean muscles, then give this a try.  If you’re like me and will only do planks if you’re forced to, take a barre class! I promise you, I’m not a natural at strength training fitness.  I hate push-ups, I don’t regularly lift weights, and I do not do enough crunches on my own to make a difference.   But in barre class, I do! And I can actually manage to get through a set while making progress each week.  In the time that I’ve been consistently taking barre classes (a year and a half) I have absolutely seen progress in my ability AND my body.  Not to mention the long, lean muscles it builds helps my progress in other forms of exercise, like running.  

These classes are innovative and challenging and they go by so fast.  Most classes are less than an hour, yet you worked so many muscles.  Each class is different, using different props or techniques, yet you focus on the same muscles so you can break through plateaus and create new muscle memory.  

Another thing I love about barre is the community that surrounds it.  I regularly practice at one studio in Chicago that has a wonderful fitness community.  They have multiple locations and yet, it never feels like a corporate production.  They offer special events and challenges and often partner with other stores in the community to do fun (and sometimes free) activities.  I’ve visited many other studios throughout the country that are the same way.  These barre studios tend to be focused on women, and as a result have built strong relationships with their members.  

Give it a try and get to a barre near you!

Pure Barre

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The Barre Code

The Dailey Method

 

Don’t see a place close to you? Check out this for help. (also source for above image)

Out and about in Chinatown

Inspiration for the new week!

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The best thing about living in a big city are the endless options of things to do- music festivals and concerts, new restaurants, breweries, museums, and the list goes on and on.  Yet sometimes, despite the numerous options, it’s easy to miss some of the adventures that are right in front of you.

I’m a creature of habit, so I have a tendency to stick to a certain schedule and fit little spontaneous moments in where I can, which works well for me but it can also lead to a rut if I’m not careful.  Recently a friend suggested a group trip to Chinatown for Dim Sum.  I’ve been living in Chicago for almost two years and hadn’t yet experienced Chinatown here, so it was the perfect opportunity to shake things up.  Despite the crazy weather (sun/wind/snow), we had a great time eating way too many dumplings and doing some interesting window shopping.  For an afternoon of eating I wanted to keep it comfy so I opted for an easy flannel and my new favorite patchwork jeans (which were getting tight by the end of the meal!).

Our adventure inspired me to get curious and explore some other neighborhoods in my city, but I’ll definitely be back to Chinatown too!

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A Dim Sum feast!

Fashion Note: I’m wearing Old Navy flannel, Gap jeans, Banana Republic parka, and J Crew boots. Similar items here: parka, flannel.