{Inspire Me} 100 Things I Love

I wanted to write a post that helped boost my mood in the middle of these dark winter months. One of my resolutions for 2017 is to be more grateful for what we have and it was nice to see that once I started writing this list I couldn't stop! Big or small, these are just 100 simple things that I love right now. This will probably change in a few months to next year and I can't wait to go back to see what does change!

 

  1. Alex: the hunk of a man I've been dating for 5 1/2 years and get to call my husband next September. We are each other's best friends and can't seem to get enough of each other. Both equally stubborn but also show the other how much we love each other in our own ways. Thank you for being you, my adventure pal.
  2. My family: I am who I am today because of them. I'm musically inclined and get my good looks *wink* from my Mom, get my drive and creativity from my Dad, and can hang with the guys and talk hockey thanks to my brother, Evan.
  3. My friends: I feel so lucky to still be friends with my core group from high school, even with us living in different parts of the country. We get together and nothing has changed. Attending each other's weddings has been too fun. I'm also lucky to have found such wonderful friends since then that have been so fun, supportive, and clearly life-long friendships.
  4. Gym membership/personal trainer: Anytime Fitness is a great gym for me. I treat myself and spend money each month to make sure I keep my body in check and have someone to keep me accountable. Previously I have never, EVER been happy with the way my body looks and I'm finally getting there...it feels good! Also seeing my body do things it couldn't a few years ago deserves a major pat on the back.
  5. iPhone: the evolution of the iPhone blows my mind. I don't even have the latest model, but the camera on these smartphones is unbelievable. Also the fact that the white/gold color combo was created makes me super happy.
  6. Apple: I had iPhone separate from here because it's my everyday device that I use. But I also love Apple in general. The products it creates (like my MacbookPro and iPad that I adore), the gorgeous stores, what they stand for, etc. Working for the company, even though it was retail, was a great job to have...bonus points to the company because I met a ton of current friends there and my fiance!
  7. Coffee. Shout out to my favorite local coffee companies: Colectivo, Anodyne, Stone Creek, Kickapoo. Still have yet to check out Hawthorne and more!
  8. Tea: I enjoy my cup of coffee in the morning, and then tea the rest of the day. I've especially learned to love tea as a natural way to treat some of my health issues.
  9. Camera: I love my Canon 60D to pieces and need to start using it more. Also constantly day dreaming about bigger and better lenses for it. Someday...
  10. Wauwatosa: Alex and I currently live here and have fallen in love with the community feel of it. Definitely a top contender for us once we start house hunting.
  11. CreativeMornings: if you're a creative person (which you ARE because we are ALL creative in our own way!), you should check out CreativeMornings Milwaukee. I volunteer and run the social media for our local chapter and love everything CreativeMornings is about. Not to mention my team is fabulous and inspiring.
  12. Coworkers: such a great support system from all walks of life. Thankful to be surrounded by so many kind humans.
  13. My engagement ring
  14. Madewell + Loft
  15. Plants: #CRAZYPLANTLADY. For real though, I love plants so much. They fill our home and my office and I'm constantly wanting more!
  16. Hockey: I grew up in a hockey household with my brother and Dad playing it. I love going to hockey games and wish I would've tried playing when I was younger.
  17. Cats (& dogs..eventually): grew up with always having 2 cats. I will love to own a cat again, but I think when Alex and I are able we would like to get a dog even though I've never owned one. Preferably a wolf dog.
  18. Iceland
  19. London: studied abroad here in college and I love the culture and history of this gorgeous city!
  20. Traveling (need to do more of it!)
  21. Nike tennis shoes
  22. Planners (currently using one by May Designs)
  23. Movies
  24. Milwaukee
  25. Minocqua + my cottage
  26. My Subaru XV Crosstrek (AWD FTW)
  27. Gold jewelry
  28. Bourbon
  29. Craft beer: we love trying new breweries and love that more are opening up locally in Milwaukee!
  30. Flower bouquets
  31. Birthdays: my mom actually told me this a couple weeks ago. She remembers me always getting so excited for everyone's birthday. I love celebrating and making someone's day extra special.
  32. Good quality speakers at home: we have a nice set up that Alex got a few years ago by Peachtree, but he got me a Sonos speaker for our bedroom and I love it!
  33. Movie soundtracks
  34. The Eagles: favorite band ever!
  35. Almond milk
  36. Brunch
  37. Holidays: similar to birthdays, I love celebrations. Christmas is my top favorite, followed very closely by the Fourth of July.
  38. Antique stores
  39. Ray Ban sunglasses
  40. Monthly subscriptions: Ginger Mail, LOLA (LADIES: this is my absolute fav), Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Prime
  41. Apple TV: makes not having cable way easier.
  42. Trader Joe's
  43. Taco Tuesday/Thursday at Bel Air Cantina
  44. Essential Oil Diffuser
  45. Watches: dreaming of getting an Apple Watch someday, but currently love watches by Daniel Wellington!
  46. Coffee in bed on Sunday mornings
  47. Donuts at Cranky Al's or Holey Moley
  48. Our garden in the summer: Alex and I have rented a plot at a community garden during the summer the last couple years and we love it. We grow our own veggies and flowers and it feels good being able to garden. I can't wait to have our own garden when we buy a house someday.
  49. Lake Michigan
  50. Green Bay Packers #GOPACKGO
  51. Amazon Echo Dot + Apple HomeKit/Hue Lights: being able to control our lights with our phones or voices makes us feel cool for living in the future. 
  52. Eucalyptus: love buying bunches of it to have in vases. Smells so good!
  53. Letterpress
  54. Skiing (both snow and water)
  55. Bonfires
  56. Fishing
  57. My keyboard: I've played piano for just over 20 years now (OMG.), and having a nice keyboard in our apartment allows me to keep that talent going.
  58. Coffee grinder + Chemex
  59. Oversized sweaters
  60. Our new hypoallergenic down comforter
  61. Good quality skin products: Glossier, Herbivore Botanicals
  62. Twinkle/string lights
  63. Copper kitchen products: slowly adding more to our collection. Currently have a sauce pan, measuring cups, and bar tools that are copper. I can't seem to stop dreaming about the copper Kitchenaid Stand Mixer...
  64. My gratitude journal for 2017: this was one of my resolutions for 2017. I write a few things every night before I go to bed that I'm grateful for that day. I will sometimes write things that got me down to get it off my chest. Just makes me feel good and reminds me to pay attention to the little things in life.
  65. Wine: sauvignon blanc or dry rose in the summer; cabernet/merlot/chianti/red blends in winter.
  66. Instagram: favorite app on my phone. So much photo inspiration! I treat my feed as a photo journal and love it.
  67. Food Network: we don't have cable but every single time we stay in a hotel or I'm at my parents that channel is constnatly on.
  68. Grilling
  69. Pinterest: mood boards and recipes FTW.
  70. Our Iceland map in a custom frame made by me and my dad: makes me smile everytime I look at it above our bed.
  71. Candles
  72. My glasses
  73. Airbnb
  74. S'mores
  75. Inspirational quotes
  76. Trees
  77. Hiking (want to do more of it!)
  78. Corvettes: grew up with my Dad having '71 Stingray and some newer models. Still has the '71 and I love to drive it whenever I can.
  79. Minnetonka moccasins
  80. Farmers markets
  81. Waffles/pancakes/french toast
  82. Pesto
  83. Glorioso's: we love Italian food and this is the best place to get what you need in Milwaukee!
  84. Fall
  85. Printed photographs: our photos are all on our phones or computers now. I like a couple times of year to get my favorites printed off to keep.
  86. Coffee shops
  87. Aquariums: for the longest time I wanted to be a marine biologist, until I realized Biology wasn't my best subject. I still nerd out though and can spend forever inside an aquarium.
  88. Dark chocolate
  89. Cheesy love notes
  90. Braided hair
  91. Day dreaming of owning a home...hopefully sometime soon?
  92. Patagonia fleece
  93. Books: I love owning books that I read. From fictional books to cookbooks, I have a lot and would love to have a small library in a home someday.
  94. Rustic yet modern/scandinavian style: we're still figuring out our decorating style since we live in a tiny apartment right now, but I think that's the style we can agree on for when we get a home someday.
  95. Herbs: every summer I have a potted herb garden on our balcony. I love using fresh herbs in cooking and even want to incorporate them into our wedding decor.
  96. Typography + illustrations
  97. MasterChef
  98. Natural light
  99. Our wedding venue: The Farm at Dover!
  100. Wedding planning anticipation: September 8th, 2018 can't come soon enough. Even though we're anxious to get started, I'm glad we have the time to actually enjoy the process. We have the rest of our lives to be married, so we're glad to take our time for our big day.

{Iceland} The Proposal!

It has been eight months since the most special day in Iceland (and I'm just getting around to blogging about it). Eight months since my adventure pal got down on one knee on a black sand beach and asked me to marry him. I look back at the pictures and wish to go back to that day over and over again because there was so much happiness and excitement.

Here is our engagement story.

The first half of our trip was spent exploring Reykjavik and the last half we rented a car to have day trips around the country. On those days, we explored and hiked waterfalls and mountains. It was the end of the second day we had the car when he asked me. There is a lighthouse and beach at the tip of the peninsula in Reykjavik that we were wanting to check out. It had been a long day and I wanted to go back to our Airbnb to get ready for our dinner reservations. He kept wanting to walk down the beach and I couldn't figure out why! Then as we were walking along the beach, he stopped me to give me a hug and told me how lucky he felt to be on this trip with me.

He looked into my eyes and said “Jess, will you marry me?” Not expecting it, I beamed and said “what??” He got down on his knee, dug through his backpack, pulled out the ring of my dreams, and asked me to spend the rest of our lives together. We were both emotionally happy as I nodded YES!

We went back to our Airbnb to get ready for dinner at Fiskmarkadurinn (Fish Market), which turns out Alex had planned the dinner to be our celebratory engagement dinner! This was the best meal we had in Iceland. I drank Manhattans, we had sushi for an appetizer, and I had Icelandic cod and he had Mountain Sheep for dinner. Absolutely amazing!

The following morning, I woke up the happiest I could be. We had reservations to visit the Blue Lagoon! With our tickets we got a free drink, so I got an icy glass of celebratory Prosecco while we swam and relaxed with our algae face masks in the steamy blue water.

The rest of the trip (which I still plan on blogging about) was a dream. We explored more of the country and it took our breath away. And like any newly engaged girl, I couldn't stop staring at my ring and taking pictures of it any place I could!

We are so excited to get married but in the meantime are very much enjoying the planning process and just being engaged. I'm so thankful for such an amazing trip and a man to share these adventures with!

~Jessica

{Inspire Me} 2017 Resolutions

Hey, 2017! You came quickly and you are definitely welcomed. There are many things about 2017 that I'm looking forward to, including to finally really start wedding planning. Since our wedding isn't until September 2018, the planning process has been slow so far and I'm getting excited and anxious to dig into it.

I don't normally make myself resolutions for the new year, but this year I decided to do it. I'm discovering more and more what I enjoy and what makes my body feel good/healthy. Some of my resolutions are small, but they all make a difference to me.

(1) Write in a gratitude journal. Daily. Since we're almost a month and a half into the new year already, I've had a chance to start doing this every night. I truly enjoy doing this because it makes me realize all the tiny things in my day that I may take for granted. It makes me reflect on friendships that mean a lot to me, notice the little things Alex does for me, and makes me strive to do my best in my career and for myself. Just simply writing a few things I'm grateful for that day does so much and it only takes a few minutes before I go to bed.

(2) Read more. This has always been a problem with me ever since I was a kid...I've never been a big reader. Last year I read quite a few books compared to the normal amount I read and I loved it. Reading before I fall asleep or while on my lunch break or while sitting outside at my cottage...wherever I can, I want to be reading instead of mindlessly scrolling through my phone. My first read of the year is this one.

(3) Drink more water. Yet another thing I'm bad at...hydrating myself. I'm becoming more active (another resolution) and if I'm not hydrated then I won't work out as well as I hope and won't feel as healthy.

(4) Active routine. I have a desk job that has me sitting from 8am-4:30pm most of the day. I'm starting to do exercise classes a few times a week on my lunch break and doing yoga with a friend. I've had a gym membership and a trainer for a couple years now so I'm going to push myself to be more committed to going. Yes, getting married is a great excuse to get into perfect shape but my goal is to turn this into a lifestyle, not a temporary dream. If I can do something active at least once a day that would be ideal.

(5) Consume less sugar and eat real [unprocessed] foods. Last April I did the Whole30. Long story short I probably wouldn't do it again, but it did make me realize how much sugar is in everything. I have an insane sweet tooth to begin with as well. Cutting back on sugar will help with my energy levels, my skin health, and so much more.

(6) Love more. From Alex to my family to my friends to complete strangers. With upcoming wedding planning I'm sure there will be some stressful moments, but I never want to forget how much we love each other. My family and friends mean the world to me and they have no idea how much I value them. And strangers deserve your kindness...you don't know what they're going through in their life. Always give someone a smile.

(7) Wake up earlier. This one is going to be hard for me since I'm very difficult to get up in the morning. I'm not saying I'm going to be waking up at 6am on the weekends now, but I need to be better at creating an internal clock for myself. I wake up to an alarm at 6:30am during the week but then on the weekends sleep until I wake up (usually around 8:30-9am). Those different times throw off that clock and I think might be making me more tired during the week.

(8) Save money and spend less. Simple changes are already being made between Alex and I when it comes to money. We're going out less, choosing to buy our groceries at more affordable grocery stores (like Trader Joe's instead of Whole Foods...whoops), and not splurging on unnecessary items for our apartment. If he and I want to buy a home anytime soon, we have got to be saving now.

(9) Travel more. To be honest I don't think we'll be going anywhere huge in 2017 like we did in 2016 (Iceland). We want to save money to go somewhere amazing for our honeymoon in 2018. I would still love to go on smaller weekend trips though...go camping, explore more of Door County in the summer, go hiking, try to get up to my cottage more, etc.

(10) Live more minimally. Right at the beginning of the year we watched the Minimalism documentary on Netflix. Now that is a bit extreme for us, but it made me realize (conveniently right after Christmas when we got new gifts) that we have so much stuff! Living more minimally will also help us save money. Already in the last month and a half I've said no to purchasing new items for our apartment or new clothing for myself. Once the weather warms up, we plan on sorting through our storage locker to purge a lot of unused items. This will also make it easier for us when we eventually move.

Here's to 2017 and I can't wait to see the results of these resolutions at the end of the year. What are your resolutions?

~Jessica

{Iceland} Streets of Reykjavik

It has taken me way too long to start blogging about our amazing trip to Iceland in June! I've been struggling with how to put such an amazing adventure into words. I would let the pictures do the talking, but honestly sometimes they don't even do it justice.

The first question Alex and I always get when we tell people about our trip to Iceland was...WHY Iceland? Iceland isn't exactly your typical country to travel to until recent. In our vacation searches, Iceland would pop up as a suggestion and it would constantly be in my face on my Instagram feed. We looked more into it and after some thought decided to just go for it and we booked our flights in January to go on a 10-day trip at the beginning of June!

I took well over 800 photos on this trip...obviously I won't be posting all of them but this trip will be broken up into a few different posts. We spent the first half of our trip exploring Reykjavik and the second half renting a car to take day trips in the country. We also stayed in an adorable little Airbnb near the city center the entire time.

Front door of our Airbnb

Front door of our Airbnb

Living room in our Airbnb

Living room in our Airbnb

Our days that were spent exploring Reykjavik started out with us making breakfast and coffee in our little Airbnb kitchen before a day full of walking. Reykjavik is very walkable and has lots of shops, cafes, bars, and stunning views along the way. Even though there are a lot of good restaurants, cafes, and shops, we made the majority of our meals at our apartment. Iceland is expensive! We went out for breakfast once and a very basic eggs/bacon/toast meal with coffee for two was around $50.

This was our $50 brunch...one thing is for sure, Iceland doesn't skimp out on the bacon! And to be fair it was a delicious brunch.

This was our $50 brunch...one thing is for sure, Iceland doesn't skimp out on the bacon! And to be fair it was a delicious brunch.

I'm getting ahead of myself though. Besides the understandable high cost for everything (they import most things), there aren't really any complaints about that country. The people are so kind and the entire country is gorgeous. There were many surprises about Iceland we didn't realize ahead of time:

  1. How walkable Reykjavik is--we walked all over that city the first half of our trip!
  2. The smell of sulfur everywhere (I mean I know it's an island with hundreds of active volcanoes, but I didn't realize how strong it would be. I look back at photos and can still smell it. Also nothing like an early morning eggy-smelling shower too!)
  3. How you would be driving through an area that looked like you just landed on the moon or Mars and a few minutes later would come over a hill to see a beautiful green pasture full of horses or a massive lake/fjord. The variety of landscapes is breathtaking.
  4. The prices like I mentioned....we were expecting it to be expensive but some things really shocked us (like how taxed and governed alcohol sales are!)
  5. How unbelievably friendly the locals are.
  6. The difference in climates! Now I know why so many people wear layers...they have to be ready for rain or shine and warm and cold temps all in one day.
  7. How CLEAN the city and country is. Even with the increase in tourism, they are on top of keeping the city in tip top shape.
  8. Cats roam the streets of Reykjavik! Definitely wasn't aware of this at all and the cat lover in me was pleasantly surprised.

Reykjavik is a unique, cozy city and I loved the days we had to explore it. At the bottom of this post I listed all the stores, cafes, bars, and restaurants we visited. We both hope to visit again in the future to enjoy more of this city!

Hallgrimskirkja

Hallgrimskirkja

Harpa

Harpa

Inside Harpa

Inside Harpa

Sun Voyager

Sun Voyager

Best hotdog I've ever had. Seriously.

Best hotdog I've ever had. Seriously.

Stofan Kaffihus

Stofan Kaffihus

One of the many cats that roam Reykjavik's streets

One of the many cats that roam Reykjavik's streets

Shelf love at Reykjavik Roasters

Shelf love at Reykjavik Roasters

Cozy corner with a record player at Reykjavik Roasters

Cozy corner with a record player at Reykjavik Roasters

One of the most stylish restaurants I've ever had a beer in...Rok

One of the most stylish restaurants I've ever had a beer in...Rok

Beers on the glass balcony at Rok overlooking Hallgrimskirkja.

Beers on the glass balcony at Rok overlooking Hallgrimskirkja.

So many cute, plant-filled entryways

So many cute, plant-filled entryways

Ah Scandinavia, forever satisfying my inner plant lady...all the window sills lined with plants.

Ah Scandinavia, forever satisfying my inner plant lady...all the window sills lined with plants.

Noodle lunch

Noodle lunch

One of the best cinnamon rolls we've ever had at Braud & Co. We also wanted to try Sandholt, but they were unfortunately closed during our trip for remodeling.

One of the best cinnamon rolls we've ever had at Braud & Co. We also wanted to try Sandholt, but they were unfortunately closed during our trip for remodeling.

If you're curious about suggestions for places to eat or shop, here is a brief list of places we visited.

Cafes:

Stofan Cafe
Reykjavik Roasters
Mokka

Restaurants/Bars/Bakeries:

Baejarins Beztu Pylsur (hotdog stand)
Braud & Co
Noodle Station
Lebowski Bar
Dillon Whiskey Bar
Rok
Fiskmarkadurinn (a splurge, we wanted to have one fantastic dinner out and it was the best seafood dinner I've ever had!)

Stores:

Geysir
Farmers Market
Kormaks & Skjaldar
Assorted tourist stores

As I mentioned this is only one part of the many Iceland posts. I will be posting about our road trip adventures around the country soon. Miss you everyday, Iceland!

~Jessica

 

{Inspire Me} Personal Branding Seriously Works

I've had this website for just around a year now. I started it because I was lacking inspiration and creativity in my job at the time and needed a serious creative outlet if I didn't want to go crazy. I wished to make a name for myself and what I do; nothing extreme or anything but have a little side hustle that would hopefully take me somewhere.

I am writing a year later now to say that it worked. I put myself out there in this city and opportunities came forward. I got a new full time job as a content specialist. I got some freelance gigs. I became a team member of Creative Mornings Milwaukee. I can 100% guarantee that I would not be involved in these opportunities if I didn't suddenly decide to make this website to showcase my portfolio and thoughts, upgrade my social media accounts to be [slightly] more professional, and get involved in local events.

I became more serious in networking, and when I did I came across Creative Mornings. I attended a few morning talks and was so inspired that when they announced they're looking for a social media manager I immediately stepped forward. The amount of passion and talent that team has is exhilarating and to this day I feel inspired after every time we meet.

I never gave up when it came to a full time job. I applied to countless places for over a year, sometimes without any answer in return. I cannot explain enough why it is so crucial to hustle and make things happen for yourself...because you deserve it.

I guess you could say I'm an advocate for personal branding, I've even written about it for my job here and here. You need to establish yourself and your work. What makes you different than all the other people who also love what you do? Creating a simple website and blog is enough. By doing so you're creating digital content that shows off what you do and potential employers love to see that! When I got hired at my job, I was complimented for this website and my freelance work as a content curator. This is PROOF that I wouldn't be where I am now without doing what I did and why it's important to brand yourself.

So that thought that's nagging you in the back of your head that could potentially make things better in the long run? Do it. Have a dream job that you're too scared to pursue? Make it happen. You won't regret it.

Things can only look up from here!

~Jessica