Summer Concert Trends | The Thread Affect

{Sarah, me and Kim getting ready for Buzz Beach Ball, 2012.}

I recently wrote a blog about summer concert trends for The Thread Affect, and today it went live.

The Thread Affect is a lifestyle blog by Megan, a 20-something who lives in Chicago. Much like me, she loves to write about food, travel, fashion and entertainment.

Go check it out! Right now! Hurry!

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I’m Always The Hostess: Brunch-Themed Bridal Shower

This past weekend I had the opportunity to throw a bridal shower in honor of my younger cousin, April. And as someone who loves any chance to throw a good party, I started pinning ideas right away.

The Decorations

For ambiance, pastels like light pinks and pale blues took center stage: I crafted a homemade flag banner with leftover cardstock from my scrapbook collection and filled my home with peonies, zinnias and rose of Sharon from the Lawrence farmer’s market and my very own garden.

 

The Food

I wanted to keep everything simple, so I put together a menu that featured all brunch-themed foods. Here is what I included on my brunch-themed menu:

+ Quiche Lorraine (Thanks for the delicious sausage quiches, mom! They were yummy!)
+ Crustless Zucchini & Basil Quiche
+ Maple Bacon
+ Biscuits with jam (Shortcake recipe courtesy Rustic Fruit Desserts.)
+ Donut and fruit skewers (This adorable idea is courtesy Val So Cal.)
+ French Toast Cupcakes






The Drinks

I also put together a mimosa bar. This is the best idea ever, in my opinion. I want one ready for me at all times throughout the day. To create a mimosa bar, simply buy two kinds of juice (I chose orange juice and cranberry-raspberry juice), pour them into decorative pitchers, flank them on either side of a bottle of champagne, and top the bar off with fruit garnishes. This was my favorite thing about the party (aside from the donut and fruit skewers). It was there for the party to make their own mimosa as strong (or as weak) as they like. And the kids loved sneaking away with some of the orange slices.

The Fun & Games

For entertainment I put together a couple of games for the party to delight in: One little game called “The Groom Says,” which is essentially a fill-in-the-blank game that includes statements made by the groom, and another game thta involved toilet paper. This one produced lots of laughs and was definitely the favorite of the afternoon. We adorned the bride-to-be and another one of our cousins in toilet paper in an attempt to turn the toilet paper into a beautiful wedding dress. As you can tell, we failed. :)

Then of course, we ate, opened presents, and celebrated April’s happiness.

 

So that’s a wrap everyone! Everyone seemed to have a great time, and I had a fabulous time planning the whole thing. I can’t wait to throw another party sometime soon. And here’s my advice to anyone throwing a bridal shower: Keep the menu simple and don’t get lost in all the endless food options. Pick a few key dishes and let them really shine. Also, enlist the help of someone special. My husband kept me sane by helping me clean the house and my mom helped out in every possible way. Thanks you guys!

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

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My Health: 3 Soda Alternatives

I have a confession. I love Diet Coke. It is a delicious lunchtime refreshment. But it is also the bane of my existence. Everywhere you look, a new study is being published about how bad soda is for you. It has been linked to obesity, elevated blood pressure, kidney disease and certain types of cancer. And just because I favor diet sodas doesn’t mean I’m safe from the risks. Diet soda contains aspartame, and according to WebMD, one liter of an aspartame-sweetened beverage can produce about 56 milligrams of methanol. Ew. Just … ew.

So, I’ve been trying to cut back, limiting myself to one a week. And it’s for the best really, because as Diet Coke and I have spent some time apart, I’ve been able to get acquainted with a few delicious soda alternatives. None of my picks are soda alternatives in that they’re carbonated, but in that they are delicious and much better for me.

1. Green Tea Rejuvenation by Yogi

This drink has been helping me start nearly every morning off right. I like to drink it iced, as hot tea always seems to scald my tongue. This specific green tea is blended with lemongrass and spearmint. And unlike soda, it is antioxidant-rich and has the potential to fight cancer and heart disease, not cause it. Score!

2. Pomegranate juice by POM Wonderful

A somewhat recent study suggests that an acid contained in pomegranate seed oil may actually help decrease belly fat. While I’m not sure if I’ve noticed any difference in that area of my body since I started drinking it, I figure it couldn’t hurt! I never drink too much of this super-rich drink in one sitting—a tumbler-size glass is usually enough for me—because unlike other pomegranate juices I’ve tried, this is pure pomegranate juice. It is made without preservatives and cheap filler juices.

3. Very Vanilla soy milk by Silk

This vanilla-flavored beverage has just as much calcium as regular milk, but it tastes like a sinfully delicious milkshake. Although I am not seeking a dairy-free alternative, or anything, I can’t help but enjoy what is essentially dessert in a glass. Plus, it contains a fair amount of essential fatty acids, proteins, fiber and antioxidants.

What about you? Are you trying to quit the soda habit? What have you replaced it with? Give me some ideas in the comments section below!

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My Summer Checklist, 2012

{At the Kanrocksas concert in 2011 with Ashley.}

Happy summer! This past Memorial Day weekend was a wonderful respite. It consisted of golf, barbeques, summer brews, the pool, mai tais and sunburns. (That last part was actually not so wonderful. Ouch!)

Now that summer has officially started, I’ve decided to make a summer checklist. Nothing too hardcore, just a couple of fun activities and accomplishments I would like to enjoy this year. Here it is:

1. Burn a mixed cd with songs that remind me of this summer.
2. Find the perfect tropical maxi dress to wear in Hawaii this July.
3. Go to an outdoor concert. (Buzz Beach Ball, here I come!)
4. Concoct a signature summer drink. (I’m thinking about something with cilantro, sparkling water and rum.)
5. Host a barbeque with all my friends.
6. Finish a DIY project (any DIY project!) from my Pinterest board Makeable.
7. Visit a local winery with the hubbie.
8. Ride my bike along a trail and/or around the KU campus.
9. Have a picnic.
10. Watch a summer blockbuster in theaters. There are so many to choose from, including The Avengers, Snow White & The Huntsman, and The Dark Knight Returns.

What’s on your summer checklist? Anything fun and fabulous you want to do this year? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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My Style: The Effortless Chambray Shirt

Everywhere I look this spring, I see chambray. Chambray, chambray, chambray. But I’m not complaining. I absolutely love this trend. It’s a casual, girl-next-door look that makes me think of Joey from Dawson’s Creek or Felicity from Felicity. (I never actually watched either of those shows, but both those characters seem like girls who would wear a lot of chambray, right?) With this new-found love of chambray I immediately set out to find the perfect chambray piece. Originally, I found this light-washed chambray shirt from JCrew and started  my regular shopping obsessions: visiting the shirt online at least three times a day and staring at it adoringly. But then I remembered that JCrew is crazy overpriced,  so I found a much more affordable—and equally adorable—lookalike from American Eagle. Once I found it online, I knew I had to get my hands on it for this spring and summer. (I’m greedy like that.)

This chambray shirt makes any look seem effortless. This past weekend, I paired it with my white shorts and beige wedges, and set off to have brunch with a girlfriend. (Who says you can’t wear white before Memorial Day! Not this girl.) But the best thing about this shirt is its versatility. I can rock out by matching it with bold green jeans, dress it up with funky leopard print kitten wedges and a feminine black skirt, or keep it relaxed with black skinny jeans. Either way, I am excited to add this timeless piece to my wardrobe.

Chambray Shirt: American Eagle
Shorts: Maurices
Belt: Target
Purse: Steve Madden
Shoes: ELLE, Kohls
Bracelet: Forever 21
Necklace: Charlotte Russe
Earrings: Premier Designs
Sunglasses: Target

What is your must-have piece for spring? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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What I’m Reading: March to April, 2012

Well, I didn’t do so well with my reading list this month. It may have had to do with the fact that we had an extra issue to ship to the printer at work this past month, and re-reading the same article over and over again, only to come home and read more just didn’t appeal to me. (Whereas watching episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and New Girl did.) So here’s what I was able to accomplish in March and April: a romance, a repeat read, a tale of magic and intrigue, and a light chick lit. Maybe you’ll find something that appeals to you below. Enjoy!

Romancing Mr. Bridgerton. This is the highly anticipated fourth installment of Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series. It features Penelope Featherington and Colin Bridgerton, two characters from books previous who stole every scene they were in together. We all knew that they would eventually fall in love, and it was really fun to see how they found their happily ever after. Plus, (SPOILER!) this book finally reveals the identity of Lady Whistledown! The only bummer is that Whistledown’s gossip column also makes its final appearance in the book. This witty rag served as a Greek chorus to the series, setting this romance series apart from the rest. It will be interesting to read the remaining novels without Whistledown’s society observations bookmarking the start of each chapter. 4 STARS

The Hunger Games. There’s really not much to say about this book. You either know what it is about or you don’t. And if you don’t, you’ve either been living under a rock or purposefully ignoring it because it didn’t sound interesting to you. This is my second time reading The Hunger Games—the first, which kept me mesmerized the entire time, was back in 2010. I decided to reread this book in anticipation of the movie (so that I could tear the movie apart in comparison to the book the way that super nerds do. Super nerds unite!). There was no change in my star rating from the first time I read it. It still kept me entranced. I was even able to pay attention to details that went unnoticed before, now knowing what would happen at the turn of the next page. 5 STARS

The Night Circus. Debut author Erin Morgenstern really wanted this book to be something special. You can tell that she means to capture forbidden love, black magic and childhood dreams brought to life. But there was something missing: a captivating story. The plot is thinly veiled: two young magicians in training are raised to compete in a battle set in a night circus. However, the “battle” comprises of the magicians creating beauty within a string of black and white tents with their special skills. And when the two young magicians fall in love they must choose between love and this boring “battle.” All the elements were there, but without a captivating story (and characters, I might add) the reader (at least this reader) is left searching. Sure, this book is filled with a lot of beautiful prose and descriptions of worlds that only Morgenstern could have dreamed up, but what is a beautiful world without an interesting story (and character) to enjoy it with? 2 1/2 STARS

Good in Bed. As a light piece of chick lit, this book hit a lot of hot button issues. Namely, weight. Cannie’s ex-b0yfriend has taken a job as a columnist for a woman’s magazine (think Cosmopolitan) and writes an article titled “Loving a Larger Woman.” Yes. Cannie is a plus-sized woman. And this book is about her journey to self-confidence after being completely embarassed by her ex-boyfriends’ published writings. She withstands a lot of pitfalls along the way, but ultimately finds happiness. However, the thing that bothered me the most about this book was the main character. Cannie is supposed to be this strong, independent woman. And I know this because we are constantly told that she is. However, all Cannie ever seemed to do was bitch and whine about her looks and past mistakes. After awhile, it really started to get on my nerves. She had moments of clarity, but they were overshadowed by her more periodic moments of self-doubt. If only the woman we were told Cannie was, was actually the woman Cannie was. 3 1/2 STARS

What are you currently reading? What should I read next? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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What I’m Craving: Tropical Maxi Dresses

This summer is looking up! The husband and I are going to satisfy our wanderlust by flying to Hawaii in July, and we are staying at the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel in Maui thanks to my wonderful sister-in-law.

Even though I’m making a list of everything I want to do (relax on the beach and go hiking are definitely making the list), I can’t help but start mentally shopping for the trip. The item at the top of my list? A tropical maxi dress. I used to have one, but it was sacrificed to the hotel gods at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. (Meaning it had “disappeared” when I called the hotel to tell them that I accidentally left it behind. Sure. It just “got up and walked away.”)

So here are some tropical maxi dresses I’m currently craving. Help me choose one for my island-bound luggage!

1. Sunset Maxi Dress by Nasty Gal, $158. This one’s pretty basic, but it sure looks comfy.

2. Island Print Maxi Dress by Forever 21, $24.80. I love the strapless cut of this dress partnered with a bright, bold print.

3. Flock Of Birds Dress by Free People, $198. I sure have expensive taste, as this is one of my favorites of the finds. I love the color and the asymmetrically placed bold print of a bird in flight.

4. Colorblock Maxi Dress by Target, $27.99. This is one of the more affordable of my finds. I love the color blocking and the lightweight feel of the fabric.

5. As A Matter Of Refract Dress by Mod Cloth, $84.99. Bold is the way to go with this rainbow-inspired gown.

6 Multicolored Dress by H&M, $24.95. H&M combines bold colors with loud patterns, and I adore it.

7. Ikat Maxi Dress by Ella Moss, $188. Again, I’m loving the bright colors and bold print. (Are you seeing a trend yet?)

8. Tegan Ombre Halter Dress by Nordstrom, $216. This is a little different from my other finds. The color is not so bright. In fact, the subtle ombre hue allows the design of the dress to make the statement.

9. Aija Maxi Dress by Anthropologie, $158. My pricey preferences continue, as this is my second favorite find. Can I get this half off, please? … Pretty please?

What about you? Any exciting plans for the summer? What are your travel fashion cravings? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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