Monday, December 31, 2012

It's snowing again today. The big, fluffy kind of snowflakes perfect for getting stuck on tongues. I'm off work yet again, so I've had a lot of time to think about my 2012 resolutions and what I want to make a priority in 2013. I've also had far too much time to think about what I'm wearing tonight.

A quick look at my 2012 resolutions shows I did mediocre at best this year.
1. Learn Spanish: #fail.
2. Work out three times a week: got much better at this after joining Woodside in June.
3. Go to church: I went, but certainly not every week.
4. Eat more veggies: this got better with joining Woodside, although I still indulge in cheeseburgers and fries enough to stay happy and sane.
5. Read 12 books: the final count, assuming I finish Life of Pi today, will be 6 complete books and 4 halves. Dangit.

But I must say this year was a wonderful one, full of travel, friends, an amazing football season, and life-changing experiences. So this year, on top of keeping up with #2-5 from above, I have set the following resolutions, which are more about life enhancements than restrictions.

In 2013 I will....

1. Reserve more moments for quiet mindedness. This could be prayer, reading, or meditation, but time with a screen in front of my face does not count.
2. Participate in more dance parties.
3. Take a cooking class.
4. See more live music. This past year I saw some great shows (Foster the People, Jason Mraz, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Old Crow Medicine Show) but there's always room for improvement.
5. Distance myself from negative people.
6. Save money for a DSLR camera, buy one, take a class or two, and use it.

Happy New Year's Eve! I hope you have a wonderful night with lots of champagne and sparkles.

images // 1, 2

another post about states

Thursday, December 27, 2012

This time, the subject isn't traveling to/from a state. 
It's about an amazing necklace I found while dilly dallying on Instagram yesterday.

via @jennykin

Even if you've never stepped foot in either of these states, you probably know that Kansas City is a border city: half in Kansas, half in Missouri. Most anyone who has lived in or visited Kansas City has ties to both sides. While most of the publicity is over on the Missouri side, the Kansas side has a lot to offer as well.

I spent most of my formative years on the Kansas side in a suburb called Overland Park. I now live on the Plaza, in  Missouri. I am constantly crossing State Line to visit Blue Eyes, go to work, see my parents, work out, and eat the best bbq in the country. While there's plenty to do in Kansas, when someone visits KC, you can bet the majority of their time will be spent sightseeing, eating, and drinking on the Missouri side.

That's why I love this necklace. It embraces the two distinct states that together make up my home.

bucket list: visit all 50 states: wisconsin

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hello! I hope you all had a relaxing and blessed holiday.
I'm back after a 14 hour car ride home that started early yesterday morning. Mom said it best when, after a few hours of road tripping, she muttered "This has got to be one of the weirdest Christmases we've had yet."
We spent all but one hour, from 8:30am to 10:30pm, in her SUV on Christmas day.

Instead of turkey, homemade cookies, and mashed potatoes & gravy (my absolute favorite), we ate gas station food and Hardee's. That sounds a bit depressing, but it wasn't so bad. The family was together, I got about 4 hours of sleep, knitted half a scarf, and ate a ton of sunflower seeds (second favorite).

We had made it safely to our final destination and back: Wisconsin. 
My aunt & uncle, their three boys, and grandma relocated to Fort Atkinson over a year ago for my uncle's job. It's about 30 minutes from Madison, and if the roads weren't so icy and the weather wasn't so cold, we might have taken a day trip to the state's second largest city and home of their beloved Badgers. As it was, the state was covered in a beautiful white blanket of snow (!), so we stayed in the house playing games, opening gifts, and eating a delicious feast on Christmas Eve. This also means that I didn't get many any quality photos of the state. It was serene, calm, and cold. I saw wild turkeys for the first time, and went outside long enough to visit my uncle's office building.

I wanted to take so many more pictures of the beautiful white scenery while we drove through the state, but the car windows were too dirty to get a decent shot. So there you have it - I've been to Wisconsin!
Check that bad boy off the list and add a star to the new 50 states (and DC) map.

Next in line to get crossed off the bucket list: Arizona in January!

a day for firsts

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Good Christmas Eve eve morning!
I'm currently waking up in a Marriott in Chicago after seeing Book of Mormon.

So I have some news.....
My guest post cherry has been popped.
I'm sure you wanted to know that this morning, right?
You can check it out at my friend Rachael's amazing blog, for the love of design.
She's one of my favorite bloggers, and we just so happen to be a sorority sisters from our K-State days.

Speaking of K-State, this video is a must watch for the holidays.
I'd be lying if I told you I don't tear up every time I watch it.

Now, onward ho to my first trip to Wisconsin!

Merry Christmas, everyone.


dear santa

Friday, December 21, 2012

Dear Santa,

How are you? I know this is your busy season and all, but I was hoping one of your elves could read this letter to you before you pack up the sleigh for good and start your chimney plunging in New Zealand. It's my understanding (which is very poor when it comes to geography) that New Zealand is the first place a new day starts, due to the International Date Line. So those little New Zealand kids get their presents hours before everyone else... luckies.

I was very happy to wake up today. The world didn't end this morning, so the Mayans were wrong which is great news. I should clarify that I didn't wake up "very happy". That NEVER happens, unless I wake up at 10am. But now that I've been up for a few hours and had one gingerbread latte, things are looking good.

This year, my name should be on the nice list. If that's the case, I still really want a puppy. I know, it's been on my list for the past 16 years and there's never been a puppy under the tree. Maybe it's because your elves can't make puppies in their workshop? If that's the case, I have a great solution for you. There's a nice little shelter just down the road from my place, where I'm sure it would be OK for you to make a pit stop to pick up an orphan pup before heading over to my roof. If that is not in the budget this Christmas, I figure persistence will lead to a puppy one of these years....


Other than that, I just really want a safe holiday weekend. My family of four will be touring the upper Midwest (brr) the next four days. I must say, this is not nearly as exciting to me compared to how the fam spent last Christmas. Wow, I used to have a lot of exclamation points in my posts. Yikes. Sorry about that. I will miss Blue Eyes like crazy while we're away, but I'm sure the family will figure out something to pass the time in the car quickly. If it comes down to it, I plan on singing Justin Bieber at the top of my lungs until Dad lets me drive so we can go 20 mph faster. I'm excited to add another state to the "visited" category on my bucket list while we embark on this holiday road trip: Wisconsin. I plan on eating lots of cheese and playing in the snow with my cousins while we're there. I hope they're not too old and cool for that.

I feel like you have a pretty good relationship with Jesus and God, so if you could give them a heartfelt thank you from me, that would be awesome. It's been a very good year. Even with it being a great year, I failed at all of my new year's resolutions, so I have that to work towards in 2013.

Well I think that's all from me this year. I hope you enjoy lots of cookies and milk this Christmas Eve.

Love, Monica

PS: I'm being serious about the puppy. :)

images // 1, 2, 3

change of scenery

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Kansas Citians woke up to white today.
The commute was twice as long and about four times as stressful, but I love the first snowfall of the season.

In the spirit of change, this little corner of the interwebs received a face lift this morning as well.
I'm pretty happy with the new layout so far.
It's simpler, cleaner, and I think it is more appealing to the naked eye.
I need to reformat almost all of my previous posts, so bear with me as I make tweaks to the new design.
I sure hope you like it, too. What do you guys think?
PS: if you're using Google Reader, click here to see the changes.

brown paper packages

Monday, December 17, 2012

Last week, my high school friends got together for our second annual ornament and nail polish exchange.
This year we decided to have it at one of our houses instead of at a restaurant, since we are known to linger at the dinner table far longer than any server appreciates.

There was decadent Mac n Cheese - thank you Hillary!
(Seriously, you'll want to make this recipe asap. So. Good.)
The Christmas decor would make Martha Stewart jealous.
The ornaments and nail polish colors were top notch this year.

And then there was the gift I brought, which was later dubbed the "humping Santa".

At least I could be proud of the packaging.

image courtesy of Stasia Hermes

love each other

I apologize for this post not being the most uplifting during the wonderful Christmas season. But I do believe this is way more important than any gift guide or weekend recap.

Everyone reading this knows what happened in Connecticut on the morning of December 14th.
I sat at my computer over my lunch break, getting caught up on the news and not even trying to stop the tears from dropping on to my to do list. There has been an invisible cloud hanging over my head since.

Church was difficult yesterday, but much needed. The priest's message was to love each other, and that God put us on this earth in His image. It's up to us what we do with our blessings from there.
He also gave us free will. For those asking why God would let this happen: He didn't. He gave us the freedom to do what we want, in hopes we choose compassion, love, and forgiveness.

Sending many prayers to those affected by such a heinous act of violence.

favorite stocking stuffer

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

One of my favorite parts of Christmas morning is sitting in front of the fire, emptying my stocking.
That's where all the small packages and gift cards live.

Santa started giving my favorite stocking stuffer in high school. I had no idea how much I would use it, or that it would still be such a staple in my bedroom more than eight years later.

Bath & Body Works Lavender Chamomile pillow mist

I ran out of this stuff a few nights ago, and it is taking everything in my power not to buy some to hold me over until Christmas morning. The scent is so soothing, and I'm pretty sure it has a Pavlov-dog effect on me after all these years. I smell it and am instantly relaxed and ready to head off to dream world. That's a big deal for someone who used to have problems falling asleep.

What is your favorite stocking stuffer?

Christmas spirit

Monday, December 10, 2012

I had a long post drafted last week about the Christmas spirit, and how I hadn't been feeling Christmas-y yet this season. When I went to post today, I realized none of that was true anymore.

After work on Friday, I ran to the Plaza to exchange a top at H&M. If you're not familiar with the Kansas City area, the Plaza is our city's pride and joy at Christmastime.
While the Plaza is a very nice area, it naturally attracts the less fortunate, who sit on the sidewalks asking for money. I was walking out of H&M when I saw an older lady in a wheelchair with a sign asking for donations about 15 feet in the direction opposite of my car. I started to turn towards the parking garage when I saw a well-dressed older man and his wife stop and talk with the woman in need. They had a lively chat of a minute or so before he handed her a 20 dollar bill and continued towards me. The woman in the wheelchair was glowing. Yes, I was just standing there, watching her happiness unfold.
I know this sort of thing happens often, but for some reason that was the trigger that sent me in to full-blown Christmas spirit. I walked to my car literally smiling I was so happy to have witnessed that random act of kindness.

From that point on, my cheery Christmas mood was catapulted in to overdrive with all of the fun festivities of the weekend.

sparkles and curls for a holiday party at Arrowhead stadium.
using the estate sale KitchenAid in preparation for a cookie exhange.
Homemade lasagna and wine in Waterford crystal before the ballet.
The Nutcracker at the Kauffman Performing Arts Center. (Recognize those two?)
Our view of the stage from our box seats. NBD.
It was busy. It was fun. It was really festive.
Bring on the cold and snow and holiday music. I'm ready now.

fiesta fiesta

Monday, December 3, 2012

A month ago, a bunch of friends embarked on a trip to celebrate one of our favorite couples. 
We knew there would be sand, sun, and fun.
We didn't know there would be icebergs, a glowing dance floor, and 24/7 room service.

Our first days consisted of celebrating everyone's safe arrival and scoping out all the resort had to offer.
The favorite drink of the trip had to be icebergs, which are 3/4 beer topped with frozen margarita.
So delicious; so dangerous.

Friday, November 9th was the wedding day. Salud!

The dress was stunning and perfect for Kindal. 
Blue Eyes was thrilled to hang out with George Brett during the reception.
I was thrilled to have a new luggage tag and dance to Gangnam Style all night.
The day after was spent goofing off on the beach and watching the Wildcats beat TCU.

Blue Eyes & I at our last dinner of the trip // The newlyweds!

photo courtesy of Danielle Kelley
Seriously, can you get enough of this couple? I definitely cannot. 
Thank you Kindal and Matt for sharing your special day with us. 
And thank you for choosing Mexico. 
Oh how I love destination weddings.

PS: There's a reason this post has 2 fiestas in the title: K-State is going bowling!

darling magazine

Friday, November 30, 2012

First off, happy end of Movember, friends. 
If your significant other has been raising money (or just awareness) for men's health issues by growing a mustache over the last 30 days like mine has, I'm sure you're glad to see the end of the month.

Today I wanted to share with you an amazing, relatively new magazine called Darling. My friend Victoria mentioned it on her blog earlier this month and I've been hooked ever since. (Thank you, Victoria!)

The basic idea behind the magazine is to inspire women to be the best people possible, while redefining stereotypes, providing fresh ideas, and battling common issues between women and their career/family/relationships. Actually, if you just read their mission, I have a hunch you'll feel instantly empowered.

There are eight personas within the magazine, each with their own set of articles tailored to common situations of that type of person. There's the Intellectual, Stylist, Beautician, Hostess, Dreamer, Confidant, Achiever, and Explorer.
I read them all, but find the Confidant, Explorer, and Achiever articles the most enjoyable and relevant.

So I'm curious, which Darling personality do you connect with most?

images via darling magazine

bucket list: be part of a startup

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Since the age of 9 (whether I was technically aware of it or not) I have wanted to be an entrepreneur.
Yep. You read that right. Nine. Entrepreneur.
I learned that word from my dad, who worked long hours during my childhood to keep his company thriving.

There weren't any briefcases on my Christmas list or Excel spreadsheets in my dreams.
There were many late nights sketching apparel designs and inventing clothing store names.
While my dreams of being the owner of the best Delia's knock-off store have dissipated (at nine, Delia's was the coolest), my ambition to be part of a new company has not.

I didn't start my own business, yet.
But this past month (as I vaguely mentioned here), I became a founding member of one.
There have been lots of ups, a few downs, some restless nights, and many glasses of wine consumed since I quit my old job two Fridays ago.
Perhaps the best part of this whole experience so far is creating a company culture I can be proud of, and have an influential part of.
That, and I got to write the copy for the website.

It's a crazy thing, really. Leaving something old and familiar and hoping that your professional relationships and drive are enough to launch and sustain a a brand new venture.
I don't talk much about my corporate life on the blog, and I don't plan to much after this post, but I just had to share the exciting news.
It's hard to believe I get to cross this off the bucket list. I thought for sure I'd be at least 40 before an opportunity like this came around.

Here's to hoping hard work pays off!
Now I do believe it's just about wine time...

Image credit.

make it personal

Monday, November 26, 2012

Well I am officially motivated to get stuff done after the past four days of gluttony laziness Thanksgiving festivities. Stuff like Christmas shopping, cookie baking, and holiday music Spotifying. Who's with me?

As I start to search for perfect gifts for those on my list, I can't help but compile my own Christmas wish list. It's only a natural part of the process. Or at least that's what I tell myself....
One idea I'm really in love with is small, gold, personalized jewelry.
What a perfect gift to give or get this holiday season. 

Necklace brands from top left, working clock-wise: K Kane, BaubleBar, Maya Brenner, lala Design Studio
Image credits except K-Kane necklace, image from instagram

oh so thankful

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

First off, thank YOU for taking the time to read my little posts that pop up every few days.

Today, I'm oh so thankful for....

My beautiful family & friends.

Bacon. Red wine. Mashed potatoes & gravy. Pepper jack cheese. Naked juice.

The Kindle.

Safety. Shelter. Health. Faith.

Lavender linen spray.

Getting to spend time with my grandma coming in town from Wisconsin.

The internets. 
(Seriously, what else would I do with all this creative energy?)

The Plaza lighting ceremony.

Lancome mascara. J Crew. Leather handbags. Big sunnies.

these times they are a-changin'

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Although I'm not the biggest Bob Dylan fan, the chorus of this song has been stuck in my head for some time.

My life is changing in some pretty big ways.

I'm taking a leap of faith in the career department, and I couldn't be more excited. Crossing something off the bucket list that I didn't think would be a possibility until I was in my late 30s, early 40s.

Life is GOOD.

bucket list: red hot chili peppers

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My love for the Red Hot Chili Peppers started when I bought the Californication album at age 13 before some family road trip.
I listened to it in a red Walkman with a Blink182 sticker on it.
Such a hipster.

Finally, 13 years later, I got to see Anthony Kiedis, Chad, Flea and Josh in person.
Bonus: Anthony only wore his shirt for the first two songs.
It was amazing, and I was so happy to be there. Beyond words.
Cross another wish off that bucket list!

What band/artist is at the top of your music bucket list?

i'm back and need your advice

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My view last week. 

What I'm looking for more of this week.

I'm back from an extremely fun and relaxing vacation in Tulum. The freckles are out of control I tell ya.

One of my favorite people got hitched to a wonderful guy, and I played in the ocean with Blue Eyes and many new and old friends.
A few more pictures will be up later in the week, but I wanted to ask your advice on something. 

Through this past year of blogging, I've fallen completely in love with photography. 
I am starting to recognize when pictures have been taken with a DSLR vs. iPhone vs. little Canon PowerShot, which is what I currently use for vacations. 
It's a great starter camera, but I think it's time to take the plunge in to the expensive exciting DSLR world. 
Especially after I used my friend's Rebel a few times while in Mexico. 

So here are my questions for all you photographers (amateur or not) out there: 
What's the word on the street for the best beginner DSLR camera? 
What camera do you use? 
Do you like it? 
Where is the best place to buy? 
Are the warranties a waste of money?
Can I get something great for under $800? I sure hope so.
Give me all you got.

Update: I plan on taking lessons so I don't act like this with my new camera. Seriously Sony, hilarious.

month in photos: october

Monday, November 5, 2012

October was one wild ride.

6 happy hours.
4 Wildcat wins.
2 bachelorette parties.
2 surprise birthday parties.
1 nasty cold.
1 bucket list item completed.
0 cute pictures with Blue Eyes.
countless prayers said for the victims of Sandy.

just a bunch of slobs at Liz's bachelorette party in St. Louis

be prepared to see many more pics of Tiff and I in January as we head off to Mexico for destination wedding #2.

pretty pink Kansas City sky. 

impomptu DIY project with leftover Kate Spade packaging.

number 2, baby.

my 2013 planner arrived, compliments of Letter C design.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lately I've found myself drawn to pinning pretty letterpress cards, searching Etsy for creative art prints for my current bedroom renovation, and following some wonderfully inspiring blogs. Do you know what all these have in common? 


I have always loved sending (and receiving, obvi) snail mail. And I've already talked about my affinity for paper planners. I feel like now more than ever, there are some amazing options in the paper goods department. 

So this leads me to the subject of this post: Have you heard about OliveBox yet? It's a monthly subscription service (similar to the way popular box) that is specifically tailored to paper lovers. 

Who likes paper? Meeeee. It's a tiny baby of a company that just launched September 17th, but looking at their October box, I'm thinking it's going to be around for the long run. 

olivebox october edition

*Images can be found on OliveBox website. This is not a sponsored post.

happy halloween

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!
Although this is usually a holiday I enjoy celebrating, I dropped the ball this year. No pumpkin carving decorating, no costume parties, no candy. This whole Halloween-is-on-a-Wednesday thing is for the birds.

So tonight, I'm looking forward to sitting on the couch with a glass or two of red wine and the start of my Mexico packing list.

 Instead of celebrating Halloween early this past Saturday, I crossed off another item on my bucket list.
More on that in the following days.

Did you dress up last weekend? Please share your costumes if you did, I can always use ideas for next year!


Monday, October 29, 2012

Sunrise in Cancun, Mexico

In nine short days I'll be laying out next to this beautiful water with some of my favorite people.
It's going to be a wedding celebration beyond my imagination. 
Bring on the margs, Tulum.

blog worm

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

You know, like book worm. I know you all need to add more blogs to your Google Reader, right?

About once a month I take a hard look at the blogs I am following and attempt to weed out any that I've stopped keeping up with for whatever reason. Currently I have 78 blogs/tumblr sites in my Reader subscription list. That even seems a little ridiculous to me. Granted some of the authors post less than once a week, but there are some that I love (like this and this) that post multiple times a day! Frankly, I'm just never caught up. I don't think I've had under 300 unread posts at one time in months.

And you know what? That's OK with me. Because these blogs I read are interesting, yummy, pretty, creative, funny, and good. I'm always excited to see what the authors have to share. So I hope through this little post, you find some new amazing blogs to read. And for even more blogs that I read on the reg, check out my dailies page up above!

What are your favorite blogs? 

black on black on black

Monday, October 22, 2012




Is there anything as timeless as an all-black outfit? I love fall and winter because it gives me an excuse to bust out the black on many different levels in one look. The key here is texture, so this year I'm looking for a pair of faux-leather leggings to add to my closet. I'm thinking these will do the trick, and the price is a real treat! See what I did there.... trick/treat. Oh yeah.

PS: I almost didn't even post the third picture because of the cigs (classy and cigs are not the pair these days, no?) but alas, I'm still obesssed with those four outfits.

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