Friday, September 28, 2012

Have a Splendid Weekend!

Apple Orchard

It's supposed to be another beautiful autumn weekend. Steve and I will be up in Spring Grove, Illinois tomorrow so I'm hoping to make a stop at one of the many amazing orchards in the area (or at least see some changing leaves!).

Also this weekend ...
• apple cider doughnuts are always a treat at orchards, why not create the seasonal special at home with your freshly picked apples using this recipe? Yum!

• Bloomingdales friends & family sale is going on now through Monday (that's 20% almost everything in the store!). Steve and I have been frequenting the Chicago home store to pick up some items from our wedding registry. Oh, and I couldn't resist these coated, leather-look jeans

• this weekend is the last chance to shop the Randolph Street Market for antiques and home decor.

• for more home goods, head to West Town's third-annual Design Harvest. When you're not perusing vintage decor and furniture at this street festival, take a hayride or sample food from area restaurants (and wash it down with a seasonal Harvest Pumpkin Ale) while taking in the live music.

• while the weather is still nice, enjoy lunch or coffee alfresco. Of course, my fave is the patio at Piccolo Sogno (and they have heat lamps for the cool evenings), or don a cozy sweater, snag a cafe table outside and snack on French macarons and espresso at the Chicago French Market.

photo from Pinterest

Biker Babe

Beth Nelson

Beth Nelson

Beth Nelson

Chicago Style

The goods:
• shirt from Gap

• jacket and skirt from Zara
• shoes by Steve Madden
• bangles from Coach and Valentina Winnetka

Like I mentioned the other day, I'm totally digging leather for the fall/winter season. I spotted this shrunken faux leather jacket at Zara a few weeks ago and fell in love with the biker silhouette and gold stud detailing. I sported it yesterday to add some serious edge to a ladylike pencil skirt and heels.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Basil Pesto Sauce

pesto recipe

To kickoff the autumn season last weekend, I harvested our gigantic basil plant and tried my hand at some homemade pesto sauce. I didn't know how easy making this tasty condiment was, just a few common ingredients, a whirl in the blender, and voila!

• 3 cups fresh basil leaves
• 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 1/2 cup virgin olive oil
• 1/3 cup pine nuts (or walnuts)
• 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
• salt and pepper to taste

pesto recipe

recipe (makes 1 cup)
- blend basil and pine nuts (I used a handheld blender and it worked great, though I imagine a food processor would make extra smooth sauce).
- blend in garlic
- slowly add olive oil in constant stream while blending, then add grated cheese and blend.
- add pinch of salt and pepper to taste

I served with pasta and diced grilled chicken, sprinkled with a few more pine nuts. We've also been using the pesto on panini sandwiches, with everything from turkey to steak to tomatoes and mozzarella. Enjoy!

pesto recipe

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wooly Mammoth

Beth Nelson

Beth Nelson

Beth Nelson

Chicago Style

Chicago Style

The goods:
• sweater from rummage sale

• skirt from BCBG outlet
• wedges by Nine West
• bangles and bracelets from Forever21 and IGWT
• vintage Casio watch

There is something so comforting about the first big cozy sweater of the season (and evidently when I say big, I mean ginormously oversized). I found this wooly number at a rummage sale in Winnetka – what had originally sold for over $30 at Gap, I scored for $2.

In addition to scouring fall sales for fantastic finds like this, still affordable (though not quite $2-cheap) are this southwestern print oversize cardigan and this chunky cable knit sweater in an awesome bright orange hue.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Faux Fall

Beth Nelson

Beth Nelson

Beth Nelson

Chicago Style

Chicago Style

The goods:
• dress from Mikkat Market

• vest and wedges from Forever21
• wrap watch by La Mer
• bangle and long necklace from Forever21
• souvenir pearl pendant from Tahiti
• vintage clutch and earrings

Rarely do autumn Chicago days peak in the mid 70s, allowing me to wear skirts and sleeveless fall pieces without the added bulk of warm layers. One of my favorite cool weather trends is leather, but finding the more affordable faux leather pieces that doesn't look, well, faux, always proves quite a challenge. I spotted this vest at Forever21 last year and couldn't pass up the edgy look and $27 price tag. This year I'm on the hunt for faux leather pants – good ones, I've decided, are very rare and often as expensive as the real thing. So far, I'm liking the looks of these and these.

In the meantime though, I will bare my legs (and what's left of my equally-rare tan) for as long as I can before I have to cover each and every inch of skin.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cashmere and Lipstick

Beth Nelson

Beth Nelson

Beth Nelson

Chicago Style

The goods:
• silk tank from Old Navy

• men's cashmere sweater by Tony Mellio
• jeans and rhinestone earrings from Forever21
• men's watch
• thin rhinestone bangle from Valentina Winnetka
• sandals from Nine West
• vintage Louis Vuitton bag
• Coach silver tassel keychain

Another perfect day where a warm cashmere sweater (plus a little help from the sun) is enough for the cool walk to work. This well-loved cardigan keeps me comfortable on the couch paired with soft leggings, or here with some serious chandelier earrings and polished heels for work. My finishing touch with a casual outfit like this is lipstick. I recently discovered Nars velvet matte lip pencils, which go on flawlessly and seem to last forever (I applied only once on my wedding day!). My fave shade is Sex Machine (I sorta left that part out when telling people what lipstick I had on that day), a pinky mauve color, natural but a touch more bold than my go-to lip balm . A little cozy cashmere mixed with the sexy feeling of wearing lipstick makes for a great start to the week!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Have a Fantastic Fall Weekeend!

Fall Sweater

It's been an adjustment this week getting back to work, having to layer on more than just a sarong, and my body still things it's 5 hours earlier than the clock reads ... so needless to say I plan on getting some rest this weekend (and finally unpacking my suitcase, oops!).

The weather these past few days have really gotten me in the mood for fall, which officially starts tomorrow! I would love to make this recipe for baked Honeycrisp apples - my faves! Even better, I'd love to pick my own (but go asap, since I called the orchard last year the first weekend of Oct to see if they had any left and the woman actually laughed at me).

And like every autumn, I am super excited for the clothes ... cozy sweaters, knit caps, cute shoes that don't have to battle snow just yet. Just a few things I definitely have my eye on ... this adorable trimmed cape perfect for weekend errands. This amazing embellished leather tote that would add some edge to every outfit. And the sweater pictured above is a perfect, cozy basic (that I would totally wear to death).

Have a wonderful weekend!

photo from Emerson Fry

Stripes and Sandals

Beth Nelson

Beth Nelson

Beth Nelson

Chicago Style

Beth Nelson

The goods:
• sequin striped sweater by Tabitha

• black blouse from Necessary Clothing NYC
• pants and sandals from Forever21
• men's watch
• thin rhinestone bangle from Valentina Winnetka
• gifted chain bracelet
• vintage deco rhinestone bangle from Vintage Underground

You know that perfectly mild transition from summer to fall? Yeah, me neither (Chicago isn't exactly known for abiding by seasonal norms). But this week has seen those perfect temps where you can don a cozy sweater but still throw on a cute pair of sandals, or layer over your still-appropriate summer dresses with light jackets and scarves. Until fall really hits (and by fall, I of course mean a wintry punch in the face), I'll savor the light-layering weather.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

From Hot to Not

Beth Nelson

Beth Nelson

Chicago Style

Beth Nelson

The goods:
• silk dress from Aritzia

• leather hooded jacket from Old Navy
• sandals from Forever21
• vintage Coach bag
• vintage Casio watch
• thin rhinestone bangle from Valentina Winnetka
• pearl pendant and blue topaz ring are honeymoon souvenirs

Oh boy ... coming back from two weeks in French Polynesia is one serious challenge! (though I don't expect much sympathy over it). Steve and I have barley scraped the surface on our wedding and honeymoon photos, but once I do, I will gladly share some snaps (any excuse to relive those events!)

I'll tell ya, after wearing little more than a bikini and pareo (what the Tahitians call a sarong), putting on actual clothing has been an adjustment. I will admit though, I'm a little excited to see these mild Autumn temps ... I even told Steve on the flight home (after realizing it was already mid-September) how excited I am for fall attire. Perfect time to mix lighter layers, like this silky dress, with more substantial pieces like this leather hoodie.

But just to be clear, I'd choose the hot Tahitian sun and a bathing suit in any day.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Blast From the Past: Great Gatsby Style

On a lazy Sunday I caught the 1974 version of The Great Gatsby with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. I hadn't seen in it years and had forgotten how amazing all of the costumes are! Daisy Buchanan dripping in jewels, her embellished dresses, and hair adornments ... all accessorized with a glass of bubbly. A remake is supposed to open this year (with Leo as Gatsby!) and I can't wait to see the ensembles they come up with.

Below are some fashionable highlights from the film ... 

Daisy BuchananGatsby style
Gatsby fashion

... and here, some gilded goods inspired by those fabulous flappers.

Great inspired goods, clockwise from top right:
• sequin turban, $36.36 – available on ASOS

• rhinestone fringe necklace, $8.80 – available at Forever21, and tassel necklace, $7.80 – also Forever21
• embellished shift dress, $89.99 – available on ASOS
• metallic lace headband, $50 – available on
• "1920's" drop-waist dress, $98.17 – available on ASOS
• vintage straw cloche hat, $150 – available on Etsy
• tassel sling back sandals, $120 – available on BHLDN
• flower and plume hair clip, $60 – available on BHLDN

Monday, September 17, 2012

Blast From the Past: Spiced Pumpkin Bread

pumpkin bread

I love the holiday season for so many reasons ... one of my favorites is baking delicious, festive treats for friends and loved ones. I've been making this tasty recipe for spiced pumpkin bread for years now ... it's really easy and always a big hit! Wrap it up in foil and a cute wrap like this and it makes great gifts for holiday parties!

click through for the recipe

Friday, September 14, 2012

Blast From the Past: Water For Elephants Style

I read Sarah Gruen's book, Water for Elephants, last year and loved reading about the incredible costumes the female lead, Marlena, would wear during her circus performances. I just watched the movie, and I know the book is usually better, but the outfits Reese Witherspoon wears as Marlena are above and beyond what I even imagined! (especially her "off-duty" attire). Her looks were so inspiring, with the rich colors and delicate, flowing fabrics, complete with lovely embellishments and accessories. Get the looks (for a steal) below.

Marlena's casual look

Inspired goods, from top right:
• vintage striped scarf, $15 - available here
• khaki belted pants, $22 - available here
• silver stacking bangles, $4.80 - available here
• Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Évasion, $32 - available here

• brown top, $6 - available here

Marlena's dressy look 
Inspired goods, from top right:
• leather belted bag, $100 - available here

• white wool beret, $7.99 - available here
• white button skirt, $59.99 - available here
• striped peplum top, $39.99 - available here
• vintage YSL belt, $68 - available here
• vintage Chanel earrings, $150 - available here

 Marlena's formal look 

Inspired goods, from top right:
• beige tunic dress, $398 - available here

• vintage rhinestone bow belt, $25 - available here
• white satin gown, $199 - available here
• Chanel Rouge Allure in Excessive, $32 - available here
• vintage rhinestone necklace, $49 - available here

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Blast From the Past: Mane Attraction

Chicago style

Beth Nelson style

Chicago style

Beth Nelson style

The goods:
• my boyfriend's black sweater

• gray jeans from Citizens of Humanity
• gray socks from Lori's Shoes
• brown boots by Frye
• knotted chain necklace from Forever21

I'm often asked how I do my hair (though I would say the "what the?!" hair days outweigh the good). Ever since picking up my first issue of Allure at age 13, I've loved hair products, tools and easy ways to achieve new looks. But instead of trying to explain a couple methods I use, I'll leave it to two lovely ladies to have already said it best ...

The wonderful Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere gives a great tutorial on achieving beachy waves with a curling iron, and lovely Cara from A Fashion Love Affair offers one using a flat iron. Thanks to their photos and well-worded descriptions, just a couple practice rounds is all it takes to get a great mane.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Blast From the Past: Les Macarons Ladurée

I can't seem to go a week without day dreaming of Paris, but this week I was able to make one french dream a reality ... I took a stab at french macarons! I fell in love with these delicate confections years ago and died happy when I got the chance to enjoy Ladurée macarons in Paris last year, THE best in my opinion. I came back and died again when Ladurée: The Sweet Recipes was released in English  ... you mean I can make my own? All for me?! C'est manifique!

The hard cover book is amazing in and of itself, presented in one of their signature boxes and wrapped in tissue paper. The gilded pages house all of the recipes that make Ladurée the sweet paradise that it is.

Ladurée macaron

Ladurée macaron

Ladurée macaron

Ladurée macaron

read on to see the recipe and my finished macarons!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Blast From the Past: Dollybird Design

Dollybird is an amazing, Chicago-based jewelry line. Each exquisite piece uses one of a kind gemstones and rustic materials, set in sterling silver, resulting in these wearable works of art. Below are some of my favorite pieces – including my most coveted "temple ring" – available on the Dollybird Etsy shop. I don't have my own masterpiece, yet, but I did find this little gem to tide me over.

Dollybird design
Gold Miner's Ring

Dollybird Design
Preserved Cob Web Necklace

Dollybird design
Hinterland Necklace

Dollybird design
Maritime Pendant

Dollybird design
Drusy Chrysocolla Ring

Dollybird design
Sea Creature Necklace

Dollybird design
Temple Ring

See more designs from Dollybird here!