Christmas at the Desirs


We’ll be gone for Christmas, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t decorate. We’ve had most of our decorations up since Thanksgiving, but we got one of the best additions yesterday from Flowers For Dreams. You never realize how different a gorgeous bouquet of flowers can change your room until you have one in it!

So welcome to our apartment! *Make sure you read to the end of the post to learn more about Flowers For Dreams. I think they were established to be featured on DTG.

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So that’s how we’re showing our Christmas cheer. As you can tell, I placed the Holiday Bouquet around the apartment because I can’t really decide where its home should be. It’s so fragrant and I love the red. But let me tell you a little more about the company that made it. Flowers for Dreams started in 2012 and they’re based out of Chicago (duh!). The bouquet prices start at $35 (that’s everything and in some places in Chicago that includes free same day delivery) and end at $95, and they’re pretty much gorgeous at any size. All flowers are sourced locally and each bouquet gives back to charity. At the end of each month, Flowers for Dreams donates 1/4 of their profits to charities like Common Threads, Streetwise, the Special Olympics and more. They also have a monthly subscription where you can get a bouquet every month for $30, and if you’re feeling generous, they’ll forward it on to whoever you’d like. Now that’s a great Christmas present!

Here’s a closer look at the our bouquet:

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Go check out their website: https://www.flowersfordreams.com. I think you all (if you’re in Chicago) should get one for your holiday dinner tables or for someone special!

Oh, and where do you think my bouquet should live? I just can’t decide.

 

 

A Gift Guide For Everyone


I have a confession: I haven’t thought of Christmas presents this year. Since Mike and I will be out of the states, there hasn’t been any Christmas shopping or even looking at gift guides like I usually do. It’s all been about how much money can we save for our trip and what little souvenirs can we get everyone in Ireland, Brussels or Paris. But, that ends here! Instead of choosing gifts for particular types of people, I’m going for a guide for everyone. There’s some pretty awesome things out there, so I’ve chosen to only pick items from a Kickstarter (or soon to be Kickstarter) or Etsy shop. I think these are the true businesses to support this year.

I hope you enjoy! And if you pick a gift from this post, please let us know!

Prynt

Prynt phone case, $99

This is Prynt, a phone case that turns your smartphone into a polaroid. It’s not really available yet, but you could maybe give the recipient a printed “coupon” of sorts. Their prototype right now takes 50 secs to print a full picture, but they’re hoping, with new technology, it will only take 30 seconds. Pretty dope invention, if you ask me. There’s instagram and all of those apps that will print them, but this is instant gratification at its best!

Bison Wool Sock

The Ultimate American Sock, $25-$150

Even though I’m allergic to wool, I’m going to suggest this gift. It may not be sexy or creative, but this is a functional gift. And everyone needs some functional gifts for Christmas. They’re saying these babies are softer than cashmere. Who wouldn’t want their feet wrapped in cashmere?! If you do want these socks for Christmas, make sure you’re reading carefully. Only certain offerings are available for December delivery.

Drinking Jacket

The Drinking Jacket, $75+

This is pretty hilarious, but ingenious. I’m a little surprised how many functions it has while not looking tacky. I’m not a big fan of the sunglass holder, but all of the other features are great for anyone who likes to drink.

Customized City Prints

Customized City Prints By Going Brogue, $19.95+

This kind of print is great for any art wall, study, foyer, etc. It’s a great way to show where your heart is or where you’re from. I also know the Etsy Shop owner and he’s great!

Tmbr watches

Timbrwood Watch, $78.95

I know there are other affordable wooden watches out there, but I know this company has great customer service. One of my past coworkers got a watch from them and it was broken and they switched it out for a new with with no worries. They advertise most of their watches as male watches, but I think they’re pretty gender neutral. My favorite is this sandalwood watch because it’s the perfect medium wood tone.

ninja chalkboard

Chalkboard + Picture Frames by CheeseCrafty, $19-$50

Picture frames are always a good go-to present for anyone, but spice it up with one like this! Kristin does an awesome job of making kitschy frames for around the house that anyone would like.

Well that’s it! What’s your favorite item from the list?

Featured Dreamer: Emily Belden

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Age or how old you act: Age 28, Acts 57 – assuming there’s chardonnay and the opportunity to be in bed by 9:30pm.

Current city: Chicago IL

Current job: Author of Best-Selling Memoir,

Dream job: Taste tester for Ben & Jerry’s; then Chief Flavor Namer.

What else would be included in your dream life? 10 rescue pitbulls, drinking fountains that spew chocolate milkshakes, the ability to teleport to Southern California at the snap of my fingers, and Netflix.

Besides money, how can people help you reach your ultimate dream life? Read Eightysixed. Then, the first person you think of when you read the last paragraph, text them and say, “I’m putting a book in the mail for you.” Go to the post office and do just that. I believe this book does something for the soul; it contains the secret to being unapologetic and authentic, which I somehow promise leads to self-acceptance and true love.

Dream contacts you’d like to make: Giuliana Rancic, the queen (Oprah), and Ryan Gosling.

Dream meal: Pillowy ricotta gnocchi with a tangy vodka sauce, followed by a chocolate lava cake and/or tiramisu. Unlimited red wine.

Dream trip: Rosewood Mayakoba – been there twice, but only solo. Would love to bring my husband back with me. It’s paradise.

What’s the biggest dream you’ve attained so far in your life? Publishing a book; no pen name necessary.

Advice to give to other dreamers: Give it time. Do it right. Go confidently.

Ways for people to be in contact: @emilybelden on twitter and instagram – or just email me.

You can also follow Emily at  www.emilybelden.com and www.facebook.com/emilybeldenauthor! Thank you so much Emily for sharing Eightysixed with us and being a great Dreamer!

6 Things to Make Your Life Easier During the Holidays


My head is spinning just thinking about all of things I need to do before our holiday/honeymoon trip, and I’m guessing I’m not the only one. So, to get back into the swing of blogging, I enlisted Mike to help me come up with ways to make our, and your, lives easier before the holidays.

1.  Make/Buy Some Fast and Affordable Holiday Decorations:

I made this pom pom ball garland last year and it only took about 10 minutes and maybe $5. All you need is whatever pom poms you want (I got a Fall-ish package that had lots of reds and gold so I could keep it up from Thanksgiving to New Years without feeling too lazy), fishing line and a needle. Tie a knot on one end and start stringing the pom poms. I tied knots into the string along the way to make sure the pom poms stayed in place.

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Get some chalkboard paint and paint any kind of surface (below is a piece of cardboard from a cheap frame. You can change the phrase and/or design for any occasion. We have this above our crate bookcase, but also have an old trunk used as a tv stand that’s chalkboard as well.

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I also recommend going to Target or World Market and buying affordable, seasonal candles. Mike and I got a Cinnamon Candle and an Indonesian Teak Candle and our place smells just like Christmas!

2. Get into the Holiday Mood with Affordable Movies: We recently went to Target and saw great prices for Christmas movies…$5-$10!!! Whether you’re stuck working and need something cheery (like me) or just need to cuddle and be full of the Christmas spirit, movies are the best thing.

My Christmas must-sees: White Christmas, Holiday Inn, Home Alone, A Christmas Story, The Holiday & Love Actually (There’s actually more, but I don’t want to seem too Christmas crazy).

3. Download the Dry-cleaning app DRYV! I hate doing the laundry anyway, but it being the holidays, I really don’t want to do it. Why do laundry when you could be shopping, attending a holiday party, or drinking egg nog while watching movies. Well, some smart guys in Chicago made an app for that!

Chris Elipas partnered with Dan Parsons to bring Chicagoans the lovely DRYV app. Simply request a pickup, get notified when your dry cleaning is done and schedule a drop off. All you do is register for the app, scan your card in and you’re ready to go.

The service area is north to Montrose Avenue, south to 18th Street and west to Western Avenue, which means I have to get mine picked up at work, but I schedule mine from 7 AM – 8:00 AM. The guy was there at 7:02 and smiling! Smiling, people! And you can write in special requests, for example, I wanted a phone call instead of a door buzz and I got one. It’s a great service and I’m not just saying that because it’s on here.

Photo by Clayton Hauck for DRYV

Merry Christmas to you, DRYV is offering DTG Readers $10 to try out their service! Get those holiday suits and dresses dry cleaned for your corporate and family parties! Use the code: DTGHolidays 

4. Get Your Groceries Delivered : I’m a tad hesitant of this because I’m a deal finder, but it can be useful. I’ve been told Peapod is the best!

What’s your favorite?

5. Do Some Amazon/Etsy/Dreamer shopping! My family has used Amazon lists in the past for the holidays. It’s easy and guarantees a great price. But I also like to peek around Etsy as well to support small business owners. Both shops are easy to shop during your lunch break or on your commute to and from work.

Need some shop names, look at some of our past Dreamers’ shops: Artless Organix, Chaps + Rascal, my Remedy, MILC Co., Buy The Change, color me styled

6. Plan Your Meals: Plan those meals out and eat well! I know my life is a little easier because Mike is a chef, but you can cook his recipes too. Check out some of your favorite food blogs and copy down those recipes, then go to pea pod.com…or go grocery shopping.

Here’s one of my latest favorites from Mike that’s featured on theskinnyfatkid.com:

photo from Skinny Fat Kid
photo from Skinny Fat Kid

 

What are your stress-free holiday tips?

A Book A Month (November): Eightysixed: Life Lessons Learned

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I may be the worst blogger ever, but hopefully you guys are still reading out there. I’d just like to say a big “Thank You!” to Emily Belden, the author of November’s book of the month. Not only is she a fellow Chicagoan, but she also agreed to a discount for DTG readers. So pay attention, you may love this book, Eightysixed: Life Lessons Learned.

Stay tuned for her Dreamer Feature.

Pages: 3771 (according to my kindle iPhone app)

Synopsis: Follow the life of Emily as she navigates through Chicago’s single scene. It all starts with a horrible break up with a narcissist, which leads to a couple “rough” dates, then proceeds to an entrance into the Michelin Star-rated restaurant scene, and ends with a happily ever after.

Review: Overall, Eightysixed is a fun read. I may not have connected with it as much as some ladies would, but, to give you a frame of reference, I’ve been out of the dating scene for almost six years and none of mine was in Chicago. But, some of the horror stories did make me thankful of my relationship and reminded me of some college memories.

All of Emily’s stories were true, raw, funny or dramatic. Some dramatic moments were a bit too dramatic (i.e. comparing the news of her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend to 9/11), but hey, at least every reader has a chance to connect with her. It’s almost unbelievable that she experienced everything she did (For example, partying with a coke-head and her sugar daddy), but it goes to show just how crazy Chicago can be if you let yourself experience anything life throws at you.

Any out-of-towners intrigued, yet?

One of my favorite parts of this book is the inside look into the Michelin Star Restaurant scene. I know a little bit about the “chef life” because of Mike, but hearing another person’s experience in it, was fascinating. And, I’d have to say, Emily’s experience at Alinea was pretty magical (I’m jealous).

I don’t want to give up too much information because we’re all about supporting dreamers, so go, buy the book! Emily was witty, unapologetic, and inspirational to any want-to-be writer. I’m happy to have the opportunity to help support a fellow Chicagoan blogger/writer! I hope you choose to help her too!

Remember, you can get 20% off the paperback version with the code 2NPRU7QM : https://www.createspace.com/4562243

OR

Get it on Amazon, here.

27 Things to Do While 27


Another year, another list of adventures to check off the list. Last year, I wasn’t too successful with my list, but hopefully this year will be different. It definitely started off awesome with a Halloween/Jamberry Nails/Birthday Party and a surprise Birthday brunch, so if you can help me accomplish my list of to-dos for my 27th year of life, let me know!

1. Host one successful Book Club (with at least 4 other participants)

2. Finish a 5K

3. Go to the gym at least 12x per month

4. Learn how to french braid my own hair

5. Make one new quality friend

6. Start writing my book idea

7. Relaunch DTG successfully with new design

8. Pay off all credit card debt

9. Volunteer for a charity at least once

10. Visit Lauren & little Natalie in New Hampshire

11. Visit NYC without it being for a work event

12. Go camping

13. Get art for our bedroom

14. Fix boot heels

15. Invest in a quality watch

16. Be happy for 100 days (do the challenge on Instagram)

17. Learn how to properly apply makeup that lasts for a full day

18. Save at least $2700

19. Get a legit celebrity to be a Dreamer on DTG

20. Get more than 3000 views during 1 day

21. Try new food at least one time per month

22. Go to a ballet/dance show

23. Have a fancy dinner where people have to dress up

24. Fix bike so I can actually ride it

25. Surprise Mike with an adventure at least once

26. Get to my ideal pant size (hopefully #3 will help with that)

27. Make my salary goal