Monday, August 29, 2011

Our Not so Teeny Zucchini

People. We have a situation on our hands. The zucchini have officially taken over the garden. As in we don't check the garden for two days and we find 5 zucchini. And these aren't little guys by any means. The largest one is 19 inches long and 14 inches around! Seriously!?!? Where do these things hide??

As you can see, this particular zucchini has a superiority complex and has decided to take over the kitchen as well. It's larger than a bottle of wine, not to mention a pitcher, coffee maker, roll of paper towels, and a bottle of beer.

The other 4 zucchini were given to neighbors since we already had about 8 zucchini in the refrigerator.

To avoid zucchini burnout, we're going to attempt freezing zucchini slices for stir fry or pasta and grated zucchini for bread and muffins in the future. Plus, freezing is a great way to stretch out bumper crops and farmer's market impulse buys.

For freezing slices: Wash the zucchini, slice, blanch (cook in boiling water for 3 minutes), drop in an ice water bath to stop the cooking, drain it, and bag it.

For freezing grated zucchini: I read that unblanched grated zucchini freezes really well. Just grate it and pop it into a freezer bag. You can also steam blanch grated zucchini for 1-2 minutes before chilling, draining, and bagging.

To use: Let the bag or container of frozen zucchini thaw in the refrigerator or defrost in the microwave. It will be slightly mushy when thawed, so use it in soups, cooking, or baking. It won't be pleasant to eat raw with hummus.

As for what will happen with this particular beauty? Only time will tell.

Until then, I'll leave you with another zucchini recipe:

Chilled Creamy Zucchini Soup
Adapted from the September 2011 issue of Runner's World and

Olive oil
2 shallots, minced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 pounds of unpeeled zucchini, cut into chunks (2 medium zucchini)
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock
Handful of sage leaves (about 1 cup, loosely packed), sliced thinly

Saute the shallots in olive oil over low heat for about five minutes, or until translucent, in a stock pot.

Add the ground ginger, zucchini chunks, chicken stock, and sage leaves.

Bring to a low boil, then simmer, covered for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and puree.
You can either use an immersion blender or conventional blender. If you use a conventional blender, let the soup cool for a little bit. When you puree in the blender, take the small lid cap off (not the whole lid). Cover the small opening with a kitchen towel and hold the lid down tight. Work in small batches if necessary.
Cool the soup in the refrigerator. Serve chilled.

You can garnish the soup with salt and pepper, sour cream, crackers, paprika, additional herbs, or any combination of the above.

You can also serve the soup hot once the weather cools down.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Wedding Rehearsal Chic

Banana Republic dress, Jess LC earrings, Tiffany bean bracelet,
Ann Taylor pumps, Tory Burch lizard clutch

Yay for Friday! This week's post is extra fun since the Friday's Fancies theme is weddings! And you know we've had quite the summer of weddings. Invited to 5: attended 2 so far, said "no" to 1, and have 2 more on the calendar. So why not dream up another outfit? 

Since John or I have been asked to stand up in several of the weddings, I put together an outfit for the rehearsal dinner. Refined, but not too dressy. The bride will definitely be the center of attention. This week I went with a statement dress and kept the accessories neutral. Plus, these accessories can transition into fall.

While I'm thinking about rehearsal dinners, I want to share ideas for presents for the wedding party. As I said in my Christmas gift guide, gift giving is all about knowing the giftee. Think outside of the jewelry box. Will she ever wear the necklace that matches the required dress and required shoes again? Perhaps, but maybe not. If you give jewelry, pick something unique for each of your girls.

For the Ladies

John's sister gave each of her bridesmaids a monogrammed tiny text bowl from Paloma's Nest. I keep the jewelry I wear on a regular basis in mine.

If you're crafty and have the time, why not create something personal? My super crafty friend Liz (she's the Betty Crocker to my Martha Stewart) made each of us tote bags, monogrammed wine glasses, and other goodies.

anyone catch the Alanis Morissette reference?

If you don't have the time, there's always Etsy. I had Etsy seller SnappyShop sew custom aprons for my ladies.

For the Guys

Don't forget the groomsmen! John has received colorful argyle socks to wear with his suit or tux (in addition to other things). He loves argyle and wears dress socks everyday to work.

Wallets or money clips are also excellent options.

Another option is an [insert something good] of the month club. John received a 6 month membership to a microbrew of the month club. There are memberships for wine, steak, cigars, desserts, coffee, cheese, and more.

Or what about tickets for his favorite sports team?

John's input: personalized sneakers. You can create custom shoes, clothing, and equipment on the NIKEiD website

What are some of your memorable wedding attendant gifts?

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Around the House

Hellllo! It's time for a mid-week post, which is tends to be something financial-related, but I don't have it in me. I told you about some great wine at a great price on Monday. That counts, right?

Anyways, all I can think about is this. John's excited since it looks like argyle. I'm excited since it flows with the yellow in the kitchen.

7 yards of fabric for curtains for our back/TV room! It's Premier Prints Annie in corn yellow/kelp linen. Here's a picture of the room from when we toured the house. Its current condition isn't much better since it's in dire need of grown-up furniture and an effective floor plan. Let's just say we're kicking it college style with a papasan and camping chair.

We might paint the walls in Behr Chocolate Froth, matched to an Ace Hardware paint, but haven't made the executive decision yet. The walls are currently a nice off-white/beige.

I'm also thinking about this:

don't mind the cell phone picture

Finding the perfect antique leather club chair with nailhead trim for the front room. Preferrably in a whiskey-hued leather. Oh, and for well under $1,000, unless of course I win the lottery. Then I'll take two. I think it would bring a nice mix of masculine style and warmth to the room.

Then again, I'm also on the hunt for a beat up chair to be refinished and reupholstered. Maybe a barrel chair with caning. I even found how-to instructions on Oh Brooke. Young House Love just ran a two post how-to for a Craigslist rocking's meant to be. It could go in either the front room or the back/TV room. Or maybe I can find a pair o' chairs. I hear chairs get lonely.

Chairs from Oh Brooke

Making a gallery wall for the front room is also on the list. Not even sure where to start with that one. Which wall? Which artwork? How do I position everything?

And don't even get me started on the bedroom. We have curtains, which is a big improvement, but need to figure out a wall color and artwork.

Phew! All of these to-do's are making my head spin! Obviously nothing is overly important. And we have a few more pennies to save before tackling everything.
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Monday, August 22, 2011

Weekend Update and 90+ Cellars

Hi, friends! Did you have a good weekend? I continued my Friday night baking streak with a lemon meringue pie. The second season of MasterChef just wrapped up and one of the pressure tests/elimination challenges was baking a lemon meringue pie. Feeling inspired, and since John asked so nicely, I baked the pie for him. I made the crust, lemon curd, and meringue all from scratch. They were pretty darn tasty, if I do say so myself.

Though somebody, who will not be named, managed to taste the pie before me. I finish baking around 10:15pm on Friday and it was too hot to eat right then. I let it cool overnight and hoped we could try the pie together in the morning. Well.....that unnamed somebody woke up in the middle of the night and decided to take a little nibble (see the bottom left picture). In his defense, I did bake the pie specifically for him.

In other news, we made a nice discovery at the local wine/beer/liquor store. The store was having wine tastings for Syrah/Shiraz/Sirah, as well as 90+ Cellars. By happy accident, we focused more of our efforts on the 90+ Cellars wines. Our favorites being the Riesling, French Fusion, and Shiraz. 

90+ Cellars is a unique concept and the first that I've heard of. 90+ Cellars is a virtual winery and doesn't own any vineyards. From the 90+ Cellars website, "We are taking advantage of the current economic conditions by purchasing high quality and highly rated finished wines direct from wineries at a discount and then passing the savings on to you. The wines we purchase must have a pedigree of 90 or higher ratings, best buy or gold medal accolades from a respected wine authority or publication."

These wineries either have a surplus of grapes or are having trouble selling their wines. In order to cut their losses and continue to sell, the wineries agree to sell their wine to 90+ Cellars at a discount. The wineries will also bottle and label the wine for 90+. In return, 90+ Cellars gives those wineries complete anonymity and passes the savings on to us.

I'm not a wine expert, so knowing I'm getting a high quality bottle of wine at a great price is very appealing. The prices at the store ranged from $9.99 to $13.99 (sale prices of $8.99 to $12.59). According to the distributor, these bottles would normally run in the $20's, possibly higher, depending on the Lot. As a point of reference, we usually buy wine that's well under $10 from Trader Joe's.

As you can tell from the pictures, a bottle of Shiraz (Lot 37) came home with us. It's out of McLaren Vale in Australia. The description reads, "Inky in color with seductive aromas of spicy dark fruit and perfumed plums. The wine is full-bodied, round, and juicy with subtle trails of vanilla in the finish. You'll love this wine with savory short ribs, hearty stews, or a juicy cheeseburger off the grill."

I definitely picked up on the spiciness and juiciness. As suggested by the label, we enjoyed the wine with grilled cheeseburgers, corn on the cob, and grilled zucchini. It was the perfect paring for the perfect summer night. And was definitely better than our usual culprits from TJ's.

If 90+ Cellars sounds like a good idea to you, check here to see if their wine is available near you. Chicago readers, it looks like they're available at Binny's. I know we'll probably be picking up a few more bottles in the future.

Full disclosure: I'm not being compensated by 90+ Cellars for this post. The opinions are my own. I just wanted to share a great product with you.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Zucchini Bread, Cake, or Muffins

Anthropologie apron, green apple KitchenAid mixer, Marimekko oven mitt,
Crate and Barrel travel dessert plates, Baked Explorations cookbook

It's Friday! If this Friday is anything like my last three Fridays, I'll probably be baking. Which is perfect because this week's Friday's Fancies theme is "back to school." More like "bake" to school since I'd love to go to pastry school :)

My most recent baking adventures included zucchini bread and muffins! It's that time of summer when we pick multiple zucchinis a day. We picked four on Monday night. When I baked last Friday, we had five zucchinis (two extra large, two medium, and one small) in our "inventory."

We've been using zucchini slices to dip in ranch dressing and hummus. We've also added it to pizza, grilled it on the charcoal Weber, and stuffed it with quinoa. A few have been given to neighbors, friends, and family members. It was about time that I made zucchini snack cake/bread/muffins.

I decided to use one of the medium zucchinis for baking. Little did I know that one zucchini would lead to 4 cups of shredded zucchini. By the way, shredding is super easy if you use the shredding blade on a food processor.

These four cups managed to find their way into a double batch of zucchini bread. That translated into two loaves of bread and 17 muffins.

Good thing my Mom told me the muffins and bread freeze well! They also make excellent graduation presents for unsuspecting cousins :)

Zucchini Snack Cake, Bread, or Muffins
Recipe from Mom, who got it from Aunt Carol, who probably got it from The Plain Dealer

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt, oil, vanilla, and eggs. Beat at medium until well mixed.

Stir in zucchini, raisins, and nuts.

Pour into greased 9x13 in. pan.

Bake at 350* for 50 minutes until toothpick/tester comes out clean.

Muffins: Grease muffin tins or use muffin liners. Fill muffin pan 2/3 of the way. Bake for about 20 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

Bread: Grease bread pan. Divide recipe between two bread pans. Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour 5 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

You can also substitute chocolate chips for the nuts or raisins.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lessons in Chic-onomics: Car Maintenance

Well, I have my car back from the shop. Good news: the car works and I haven't seen any warning lights since Friday. Bad news: it cost a little more than expected. As in $2185....eek! Good enough news: the repairs cost less than a new car engine.

So what the heck cost $2185? As a refresher, I have a 2003 VW Passat with a 1.8T engine and approximately 108,000 miles. I knew I needed a new timing belt and fluid flush, which were going to cost about $1,000. They also needed to clean the oil pick-up and replace the front flex pipe since there was an exhaust leak. There were some other issues with the timing and misfiring of some of the cylinders in the engine, but that was covered by a recall.

On the bright side, a remembered a few tips from my car repair post. Walking into the shop, I anticipated quite a few repairs. I knew it was going to be expensive. Before I even left to pick up a rental car that would be paid for by the dealership, I asked if I could get a discount. They offered me 10% off right there. Nice!

Once the dealership called with their estimate, I had a minor heart attack. They said the repairs would cost about $2,600 plus tax! And things would take longer than one day. I knew there would be the 10% discount, so that brought me down to $2,340 plus tax. The dealership usually only pays for a rental car for one day because repairs are generally completed the same day. Since we knew the repairs wouldn't be completed until Saturday, they agreed to cover an additional day of the car rental.

At this point, $2,340 still seemed a bit high. I called John and he suggested that I call a second car repair shop to ask if the estimate was reasonable and if they could perform the repairs for less. The second shop said the prices were about the going rate, but they could probably do it for $100 or $200 less. So I called the VW dealership back and basically asked them to match the price. They agreed to knock the repairs down to $2,100 plus tax. Woo hoo!

Lessons learned:
  • Stay up to date on scheduled maintenance.
  • Remember to negotiate the price or get a second estimate.
    • I saved about 20% by making an extra phone call and asking twice for a lower price.
  • Sign up for discounts from the dealership or repair shop.
  • Keep current with part recall notices. These repairs will be free of charge.
  • Follow service requirements for your car.
    • My car requires synthetic oil, but I may have skimped and used regular oil a few times. This probably led to the clogged oil pick-up.
  • Have an emergency fund!
    • We've spent quite a bit on our cars this year between repairs and insurance deductibles. Both of our cars have been hit while parked on and off the street. You never know what other people will do while driving.


Going forward, I'm going to be sure to follow these car maintenance guidelines. Especially before making long drives. I'm looking at you, St. Louis:
  • Follow the regular maintenance schedule, this includes oil changes at the required times (generally three months or 3,000 miles check your owner's manual).
    • Edit: Stephanie left a great comment. "Just a little tip, 3,000 miles is pretty old school for an oil change. When I worked at Chrysler I learned quite a bit of ins and outs of cars and most cars are built to go 10,000 miles in between oil changes now- the dealerships and auto repair places just don't tell you that because they want your $$. :) *Disclaimer- She is not an auto mechanic. :)"
    • Upon review of my owner's manual, my car can go 5,000 miles between oil changes.
  • Check tires for wear or damage and correct tire pressure.
  • Check the level of windshield washer fluid and add as necessary. This is especially important in the winter.
  • Check the car's interior and exterior lighting system for correct functioning.
    • You might be able to replace the light yourself. Refer to your owner's manual or search for videos on YouTube.
  • Check the engine oil level. The oil level should be between the two hash marks on the dip stick. I just learned how to do this in May 2011....ooops.
  • Wash and vaccuum the car regularly. Especially in the winter when the road salt can eat at your paint finish.
  • Change the air filter every twelve months or 10,000 to 12,000 miles. If you live in a dusty area, change it sooner.

Side note: Since the car is 8 years old we also considered whether it was even worth it to repair the car. If we wanted to sell the car, the repairs would have to be made in order to make the car drivable. Kelley Blue Book valued the car between $3,200 and $4,800. Then we would buy a "new" used car. Since we wouldn't be losing money by repairing and selling down the line, we decided to repair and drive the car a little longer. We'll reevaluate this decision if the car needs another major repair.

Do you have any other car maintenance tips?
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Monday, August 15, 2011

The Bathroom is Finished (for Now)

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? The car is fixed, but it cost a pretty penny. On the plus side, I found curtain fabric for our back/family/TV room and had a late night baking extravaganza on Friday. I'll share more about all of this later this week or next week.

In the meantime, how about a reveal of the second bathroom? We put the finishing touches on it over the weekend. Here's a refresher of the bathroom before I went to work.

And here's the mini-inspiration board I created.

Here's how it looks all prettied up!

As planned, I hacked a Home Depot roller blind using these instructions from Design*Sponge. It was super easy. Just be sure to cut and sew straight lines and that the fabric is level with the roller. It would probably also help if I centered the pattern with the roller, but I'm OK with it not being perfect.

Instead of the West Elm striped shower curtain, I found a single gray curtain panel from Target. Stripes ended up being a little too much with the curtain fabric and the gray panel was less expensive. Win! You can't tell from the picture, but the curtain has a pebbled texture that adds a little more interest to the room.

Artwork was really inexpensive because the picture frame and matting were already on hand. John's Dad graciously printed my photograph of The Alhambra.

The biggest purchase was the West Elm zig zag bath mat at a whopping $31. You can also see that the curtain panel is a little too long. Maybe I'll hem it once I make the curtain panels for the back room. And I had to share my silver sparkle TOMS.

Here's the cost breakdown:

Bath mat from West Elm: $31
Curtain panel from Target: $27
Shower curtain liner from Target ($4, cut in half): $2
Tension curtain rod from Home Goods a while back: $5
Roller blind and universal window bracket from Home Depot: $10
Waverly Modern Essentials fabric in Solar Flare (Onyx/Lilac) from Joann's (on sale for $10/yard): $5
Picture frame and matting (already had): free
Printed Spain picture (thanks, Chuck!): free
Vase and wine glass for flowers (already had): free

Total: $80

Not too shabby! We might still tweak the bathroom by painting the walls or changing the mirror, but I'm happy with it for now. 

Post edit: My Mom also reminded me that we need a shower rack to hold soap, shampoo, etc. for guests. I also remembered that we need additional towel hooks. We have a towel bar for the hand towel, but nothing for bath towels. I'll be sure to get those by the next time we have overnight guests.

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Painting the Town Red

Loft ruffle top, Zara red pants, Kate Spade earrings, Kate Spade pumps,
J. Crew leopard belt, Jess LC clutch

I'm not really going to be painting any towns since this is the first weekend in a while that I'm not travelling. Which means I don't have any one specific outfit to plan. Therefore, I'm keeping with the Friday's Fancies theme for the week of RED and created an outfit just for fun. And how much fun are those red pants? They're $60 at Zara and I could totally see myself working them into my summer and fall weekend rotation. Or even just getting a leopard belt to add a little dose of "RARR" to my wardrobe.

I took the car to the dealership this morning, so we'll see what they have to say. I already know they're going to replace the timing belt since the car is over 100,000 miles. Hopefully they don't find any other surprises and my negligence doesn't bite me in the butt.

Other than that, I'm going fabric shopping with Jess and we have a graduation party for one of John's cousins.

Have a great weekend! Do you have any plans? Or is it just a chill weekend?

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Four Years Ago

Four years ago, John asked me to marry him. Would you mind indulging me in a walk down memory lane? I didn't have a wedding blog, so I'd like to document our engagement story here.

I was out of town with work for the month of August 2007, coming home on the weekends. While home for a weekend, we planned on going out for sushi at The Drunken Fish. Afterwards, we were going to a party at a friend's apartment. We finished dinner early, so we decided to take a walk around Saint Louis University's campus. The campus is between the restaurant and the friend's place, so it made logistical sense.

SLU has all sorts of fountains and statues on campus. Earlier in the week a friend told me there were some new statues by the business school of a bull and bear, similar to the one near Wall Street. John and I had been to NYC for spring break, so we thought about stopping by and seeing them.

As we walked past the clocktower, close to Cupples House, and towards the business school, we pass the pond. On the stony ledge near the water, I see candles, champagne, and roses. We walk closer to the spot, and I realize it's for us. We stop by all of the candles and John gets down on one knee. He tells me, "I love you" and all sorts of other wonderful things.

John asks me to marry him and I say, "YES!" He shows me the ring and it's beautiful.

Afterwards we proceeded to call our family and friends to share the good news. And of course we started planning the wedding within the following week.

If you were wondering, there weren't any statues and we didn't go to a party. John's friend set up the candles and display while we were at dinner. And as an excellent planner, John had timeline broken down by the minute for dinner and our trip to campus. He even had some stall tactics if dinner finished early or the set-up took longer than expected. John had also worked for campus safety while a student at SLU and cleared the whole proposal with his old boss.

I love you, John! Thank you for asking me to be your wife.
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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Lessons in Chic-onomics: Car Repair

Hi, there! How was your weekend? Did any of you try my easy summer hair tutorial? If so, I'd love to hear or see how it turned out. This weekend was the winery bachelorette party. It was super fun and we enjoyed some excellent wine. I think my favorite was the raspberry sparkling wine from Chandler Hill Vineyards, which is appropriate since I baked raspberry champagne cupcakes for the occasion.

The guests went home with winery-themed favors which included cheese, a cheese spreader, almonds, chocolate, a wine opener, and a bottle stopper.

Unfortunately, the fun ended during my drive back to Chicago. What should take 4.5 or maybe 5 hours took 7! So is the love/hate relationship with my car.

I love my car for the excellent gas mileage and safety. It's fun to drive and it gets me where I need to go. On the other hand, it's a little expensive. It takes premium gas. And being 8 years old with about 108,000 miles, it's starting to require more expensive repairs.

It's latest tricks include the oil pressure light (while telling me to stop the car), a check engine light that will turn on and off at will, and a broken side mirror (I tried to have it replaced, but the shop couldn't locate a replacement). The most recent addition is a grinding noise when I accelerate and push the RPM's past a certain point.

I haven't been very diligent with car maintenance because I don't drive the car as much in Chicago as I did in St. Louis. Plus, with moving to and around Chicago, I haven't been able to find a good car repair shop. And herein lies my problem, I don't trust car repair shops.

When I walk into the shop, they see it as an open invitation to max out my credit card with seemingly unnecessary repairs. What should just be a wheel alignment turns into a new set of tires and tie rods. Ugh!

Since I haven't had the best experience with a dealership or any other shop, I've been doing the bare minimum with the national chains. It may have come back to bite me now.

I've done a little research on finding a good auto repair shop and wanted to share some tips:
  • Ask for recommendations from family, friends, or neighbors. Especially ones with similar cars, lifestyles, and income levels. A normal tune up for one person might not be appropriate for your car.
    • Also ask whether the estimates were accurate, the repair was done right the first time, the job was done on time, and if the shop is clean and presentable. You will also want to know if the staff and technicians are friendly, polite, and helpful.
    • You can look at Yelp, but the reviews tend to be extreme. Some people rave while others rant. Can you tell what's the baseline service experience?
  • Find a mechanic with certifications, licenses, or memberships in associations with qualifications. Some include ASE [National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence] or AAA [American Automobile Association]. Others include NAPA Autocare, Parts Plus, TechNet, ATEA (Automotive Technology and Energy Association), ASP (Automotive Service Professionals), and ICAR (Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair). Is the shop certified by your car manufacturer?
  • Check your local Better Business Bureau for recent complaints and whether the shop is accredited.
  • Does the shop have the latest equipment to diagnose and fix the problem?
Once you decide on a shop, the fun really begins:
  • Use the owner's manual to learn about your car and any warning lights before taking your car into the shop. The owner's manual will also list different service requirements based on the mileage on the car. [I'm guilty of ignoring this....sorry Dad.] It's better to say you need the 50,000 mile service (including the specific services) instead of a general tune up.
  • Get a detailed parts and labor estimate before proceeding with service. You want to know what they plan on doing before starting to work on your car.
  • Once you get the estimate, ask plenty of questions. If the price estimate is much higher than expected, ask if all of the services and repairs are totally necessary. Ask to see the parts and explain the problem and procedures. 
  • If the job still seems too expensive and the car is drivable, get a second opinion.
I plan on taking my car to the local VW dealership this week. I'm hoping for a good experience, but will definitely keep these items in mind with my guard up.

Do you have any good car repair experiences? Any horror stories out there? How did you find a reputable car repair shop? Has anybody had experience with a VW dealership in Chicago?
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Friday, August 5, 2011

Easy Summer Hair

Loft striped shirt, Gap jeans, Jess LC Ainslie earrings and necklace, J.Crew leopard flats
Also known as the "lazy girl's braid." More about that later.

I managed to blast my writer's block yesterday after a walk around the Loop and a trip into Loft. They're starting to bring out some of their fall items and I love this striped shirt. It also comes in navy or gray stripes. In addition, I want to share a few pieces from Jess LC's new Ainslie collection! I saw the pieces in person a few weeks ago and they're so pretty! A bit delicate and can be dressed up or down. I decided to dress them down.

In addition to the dressed-down clothes, I'm going to show you some easy dressed-down hair...with a twist. Some girls seem to have the "hair and makeup" gene. Their hair is always perfectly placed and their makeup is never smudged. I, on the other hand, inherited the "cooking and baking" gene, which is OK by me.

Over the weekend, I realized that my bangs had grown out of control and I didn't want to pin them up again. So I started experimenting. I tried to braid my hair, but that was less than successful. Then I started to twist my hair. It worked!

Here's a short tutorial for my "lazy girl's braid." This is perfect for when your bangs have grown out or you want to spice up day-old hair. My hair was easiest to twist when it was wet. If you're twisting dry hair, I would use some product to give the hair a little extra hold. I used Aveda's Phomollient styling foam for some light hold.

Part your hair to one side and grab a one or two inch section of hair next to the part.

Start twisting the hair along the hairline, picking up small sections of hair as you go. I twisted towards the back of my head.

Keep going! Make sure you smile for the camera :) 

Keep twisting until you make it to the back of your head. I stopped at the center. You could stop earlier depending on how you want to finish.

I finished things off with a messy ponytail.

There you have it! An easy summer look that keeps your bangs off of your forehead and still looks chic.

Have a fantastic weekend!

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