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Wedding Update + Moodboard!

Wedding Dress Shopping!

Things have been pretty darn crazy over here lately between wrapping up some freelance projects, starting new ones, and DUN DUN DUN—planning Aaron’s and my wedding! :D

We’ve had our venues in the books for a while now (Pabst Brewery for ceremony and Hinterland Gastropub + Brewery for reception—yay beer!), we booked our amazing photographer Athena Pelton, and one week ago from today I found and purchased my wedding dress!

Last Tuesday, my mom and wonderful Maid of Honor (who drove all the way down here from the Madison area for the day! Isn’t she the sweetest?!) headed into downtown Chicago on a quest to find a dress—the dress. I had expected this process to end up a wild a goose chase. It usually seems like every time I go to the store for one thing specifically, like a new pair of jeans, I can never find that one thing and end up leaving with something else (oh hey, cute sweater). However, I’m happy to report that my wedding dress shopping experience was NOTHING like that. To be honest, this was by far one of the easier decisions I’ve made about the wedding so far! I am so excited about the dress I picked and incredibly grateful that everything went as smoothly as it did!

Since I can’t share any photos of the dress, the photo above showing a little look into the beautiful BHLDN boutique is all you get…for now ;) After finding THE dress, we headed out for a celebratory lunch at the amazing Doc B’s for some delicious food and sparkling drinks :)

Finding the dress left me feeling excited and productive, and I used that momentum to finish the final touches on our wedding’s moodboard/style board!

Kristy + Aaron 2016 Wedding Moodboard

Aaron and I are both so pleased with how it turned out, and we hope our guests will love the experience we’re designing for them! With our ceremony and reception taking place at two very beer-centric locations in Milwaukee, we want to make sure that some of the natural/neutral tones come through in both the decor and the overall tone of the event (think hardwood, branches, rich dark stouts, and pops of gold/golden yellow). Pair that with my love of hot pink and balance it out with a bit of navy, and you’ve got the perfect mashup up (in our humble opinions).

We’re both pretty laid back people with a love of beer and a good time with close friends, so we hope our wedding can capture that. I can’t wait to start using this guide to crank out some exciting print design assets for the wedding! Hello wedding save the dates, invitations, menus, and signage galore! :)

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Dodge County Farmer’s Market + Madison Brewery Adventures

Dodge County Farmers Market • Madison, WI

This summer has been such a whirlwind, and between all of my fun design projects and planning a wedding, things have been a bit crazy! The time is really flying, and while I absolutely love fall, I’m trying to enjoy every last minute of summer that remains. Luckily Aaron and I had some much needed down time this weekend and escaped to the North for a mini getaway.

I busted out my camera for the first time ages to snag a few photos (since I’ve admittedly been neglecting it for some time now). I often forget how much fun it can be to just put life on pause for a moment and simply capture once around me. Perhaps I’ll get back to shooting more photos in the near future :)

Dodge County Farmers Market • Madison, WI

Anyway, Aaron spent the weekend in Madison, Wisconsin (along with a few other destinations) with our dear friends Emily and Kevin who just the most wonderful hosts. On Saturday, we headed to the Dodge County Farmer’s Market—a favorite activity of mine that I’ve missed dearly since moving to Illinois. Sure, we have farmer’s markets here, but there’s nothing quite like this one! If you’re fortunate enough to live in the midwest (or you just happen to be passing through), but sure to carve out some time to check it out—you won’t be disappointed!

Dodge County Farmers Market • Madison, WI

There’s just nothing quite like the smell of fresh produce and flowers, the quiet buzz of the people, and the warm summer vibes on Madison’s square during the farmer’s market. We took our time exploring each booth and oogling over all of the delicious food and beautiful flowers. We collectively bought tons of goodies like sweet corn, hot peppers, donut peaches from Door County, and Stella’s spicy cheesy bread amongst other treats.

Dodge County Farmers Market • Madison, WI

It was so hard not to give in to my impulse to buy every carton of berries I came across. They looked so good, but I  knew we’d have to drive several hours home and would risk spoiling all those sweet, sweet berries.

Afterward, we headed to Wisconsin Brewing Company to cool down from the hot August heat with some delicious beers. There are few things better than catching up with old friends over ice cold beers. Afterward, we headed to the farm house for some good ol’ fashioned BBQ and corn on the cob. The simple pleasures in life really are the best…especially when they involved food. Food is my favorite :P

One Barrel Brewing Company • Madison, WI

Before heading home on Sunday, Aaron and I headed to One Barrel Brewing Company to sample some of their beers, shown in the photo above. Having previous read that they have a beer-drinking penguin as a mascot, I knew we had to stop (especially after Aaron’s adorable proposal). We even grabbed a growler to go with that cute little penguin on it, and I’m hoping to sneak that sucker into the wedding decor somehow (which shouldn’t be hard considering the beer-themed nature of the event—more on this later, I promise!).

What more could a girl ask for in a single weekend?

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Chicago Adventures

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This past weekend, one of my very best friends and her boyfriend came to town to visit Aaron and I for the weekend, and it was amazing! Since her boyfriend had never been to Chicago, we decided to head downtown to check out some tourist attractions. The weather was absolutely gorgeous (which can seem like a rarity in Midwest) and the skies were clear so we decided to go up to the Skydeck of the Sears/Willis Tower to experience the beautiful Chicago cityscape. I’d been up there as a kid, but I must admit, it was pretty great to revisit and check out The Ledge.

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We spent some time just walking around the loop before getting Garret’s Popcorn (the best!) and heading to Buckingham Fountain to rest our feet and enjoy said popcorn. Next we headed over to Millenium Park to show our guests the Bean and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. We snapped some great touristy shots at both locations, and I must admit, it was kind of fun to be a tourist in a city that Aaron and I are already so familiar with.

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Of course, after all the walking around, we needed some fuel so we ventured out to Smoque BBQ, and hot damn, it was delicious! Seriously. I love food of just about every variety, but this was some of the best barbecue that I’ve ever had. If you ever find yourself in the neighborhood, you need to get some and try it for yourself. 

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On Sunday we grabbed lunch at this great little greasy spoon diner just a few blocks from our apartment. It’s the kind of place with countless photos of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe and chock-full of colorful characters. Plus, the counter tops are pink and the coffee is great. What more do you need than that?

After brunch, we headed to IKEA to walk off all the food we ate and oogle over all of the beautiful rooms we wish our homes had. Once our friends hit the road, Aaron and I spent the rest of the day relaxing and smiling about the good times we had. Plus, I had some fun brushing up on my brush lettering (pun definitely intended) for this post which is always a blast.

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Life Lately & The Start of Summer

May was a whirlwind month full of fun and wedding planning (man, it still feels weird to say that). Aaron and I have been spending quite a bit of time out on patios, whether they be our own or a friend’s. It’s been great to get outside and enjoy some sunshine and all the wonderful food prepared on the grill.

Since we’ve been doing a lot of research/planning for our wedding (don’t ask us the date just yet—we’re working on it!), my brain has switched over to organization mode. I spent some time the other week organizing many of the paper samples that I snagged at HOW Design Live this year. While there is much more to be done, my office is starting to feel more like the creative hub I love rather than a warzone :)

Of course, it wouldn’t be summer without some delicious ice cream (or whatever you frozen treat of choice is). Though it’s been hard to not be a stone’s throw away from Leon’s, my absolute FAVORITE custard joint in the world, all this wedding research has brought Aaron and I to Milwaukee on a nearly weekly basis. Needless to say, Leon’s is back in my life, and I couldn’t be happier. If you’re ever in Milwaukee, do yourself a favor and get your booty over to Leon’s and treat yourself :)

PS: I think Aaron and I might have found our wedding reception venue (Finally!). We’re not quite ready to share because we’re still ironing out the details, but we’re both super excited. Things are starting to come together!

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My St. Louis Engagement!

This weekend, Aaron and I took a (seemingly spontaneous) trip down to St. Louis! I even took my own advice on what to pack for such an occasion!

The Trip

We had both been eagerly waiting for the new St. Louis Zoo penguin exhibit to open for quite some time since many of the penguins from the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago were relocated to the St. Louis Zoo. During our first year of dating (7 years ago!), Aaron “adopted” one of the penguins in my name, so we knew visiting STL was in the cards for us at some point. When I asked Aaron what he wanted for his birthday, he suggested a weekend trip to St. Louis rather than a physical present. I happily agreed and off we went!

Rooster

We stopped for breakfast at Rooster which has some really amazing food! Though I’m not one for bloody mary’s, Aaron said his was phenomenal (though it didn’t come with the shorty chaser beer that we Illinois/Wisconsin folks are accustomed too).

The Proposal

After breakfast, we headed to the zoo and wandered around a bit. After arriving at the penguin exhibit, Aaron reminded me of the fact that male penguins will give a female penguin a pebble as way of choosing her as his mate for life. If the female penguin adds the pebble to her nest, the two become life-long partners. I nodded as I snapped a few shots of the swimming penguins with my camera. Then Aaron said that he thought he saw a penguin with a pebble. I start looking around I couldn’t see anything like that. Aaron kept insisting that I keep looking , and so I do for a minute. When I turn around to announce that I still couldn’t find anything, I realized he was down on one knee and proposing! I excitedly screamed yes (so excitedly, in fact, I interrupted his sweet words by screaming yes before he could finish—typical Kristy!) and starting jumping up and down :)

Since we were out of town, we opted to only tell our parents until we were home so that we could enjoy our weekend together without any distractions. The photo below was taken shortly after he proposed so we both look overly excited and dazed.

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The Celebration

Afterwards we celebrated in the most logical way—we headed to a brewery! We’ve been visiting breweries both near and far for several years now, and it’s definitely become one of our favorite must-do’s on every one of our trips. We stopped at Urban Chestnut Brewery and were happy to discover that they not only had delicious beer but also landjaeger! My Switzerland-born-and-raised grandma owned a school house in New Glarus, Wisconsin when I was get kid, and I remember getting landjaeger from there with my family. However, I rarely see it anywhere else, so it was a wonderful surprise.

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We continued our celebration over at Schafly Brewery and picked up tickets for their brewery tour. Since we had several hours to kill, we explored a few shops in St. Louis including a really cute record store where we bought Caribou’s newest record, aptly named “Our Love”. We then headed over to Firecracker Press to check out their beautiful space and collection of incredible prints.

Firecracker Press, I love you 💕

I made my purchases (two small prints, perhaps I’ll share photos once I get them framed), and it was back to Schafly!

On our way home, we stopped at a greasy spoon diner off the highway where we relished the remaining few hours of our incredible weekend together and talked about our adventures—past, present, and future. We laughed over the thought of our former selves being best friends while dating other people. We laughed at all of the silly stages of relationships that everyone goes through and the many memories that we already share with one another. And for the first time on the trip, I cried tears of joys. Salty tears of joy splashing into my greasy hashbrowns, and it was perfect.

After finishing our meal (and grabbing some slices of pie to-go, obviously), we jumped back in the car and listened to songs from a hilarious mix CD that Aaron had given me when we first met. We spent the remainder of the ride home dancing, laughing, singing and rapping.

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Weekender Wardrobe

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It has been a whirlwind of month full of fun client projects and jam-packed weekends with bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and family get-togethers. As projects wind down and the weather warms up, I’m dreaming about a spontaneous weekend trip to…well, pretty much anywhere! Aaron seems to agree that a brief getaway is definitely order so hopefully one will be in the works soon!

In the meantime, I’ll be mentally packing all of my weekender adventure essentials. I’m not usually one for clothing/fashion posts because I am far from a fashion expert, but I’m feeling so antsy for spring I can’t even handle it. My style is definitely focused on 80% comfort, 20% sass, and this collection of pieces would all be warmly welcomed into my wardrobe.

My Essential Weekender Wardrobe includes:

  • A gingham top—Sure the gingham button-up has received some flack in the past, but it’s a springtime staple! It’s cute and comfy, and makes a perfect replacement for the buffalo check flannel I’ve been pretty much living in since October…oops!
  • Skinny jeans—Assuming you’re weekend adventure is not a pantless one, you should probably pack something to cover your booty. My weapon of choice: skinny jeans.
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  • Sunglasses—I recently bought a pair of sunglasses that look very similar to these Warby Parkers, and I’m absolutely obsessed with them. Big enough to be sassy but not so big that I look like bug :)
  • Sneakers—Sure flats and boots are cute, but when it comes to functionality when adventuring in a new place, I’ll opt for a pair of my favorite sneakers any day. Converse are a classic, but I love my Vans and Keds just as much. Picking which sneakers make the cut is honestly one of the harder decisions I make when packing.
  • The perfect striped t-shirt—Everyone needs a striped tshirt (or 100). There are so many varieties, they look great on just about everyone, and they make it look like you at least sort-of tried to pull yourself together when you got dressed in the morning (even if you didn’t!). I’m particularly loving this one with the neon trim!
  • Leather jacket—Whether you opt for the real deal or a nice faux leather jacket (depending on your values + budget), I think every woman can benefit from a sassy leather jacket. I know I couldn’t live without mine.
  • Flats—When the afternoon adventures subside, I sometimes like to swap out my sneakers for my favorite pair flats (or sandals if it’s warm enough) to class it up. While I don’t have a pair like this yet, I can’t stop drooling over these d’orsay flats…
  • Weekender bag—Unless you want to carry all of your weekend warrior gear in your arms (which seems incredibly impractical), it’s pretty important to have a durable weekend back. This one from Etsy definitely caught my eye, and it just might end up on my birthday wishlist :)

Of course there are tons of other essentials, and if you rummaged through a weekender bag of mine you’d also discover black t-shirts, bright + colorful cardigans, and hot pink or red lipstick. However, the items above are definitely some of my more cherished choices.

Have a great weekend everyone! Go out and have an adventure!

gingham top // skinny jeans // warby parker sunglasses // white chucks // striped top // leather jacket // d’orsay flats // weekender bag

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Delicious adventures in Chicago + Lake Geneva, WI!

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

My weekend summed up in a single word: DELICIOUS!

FRIDAY

On Friday, Aaron and I met up with some friends downtown for dinner and drinks. When we showed up at our friend’s apartment and were asked if we’d be interested in grabbing burgers. I, of course, was immediately sold. We grabbed an Über and headed to DMK Burger Bar in Lakeview. Now don’t let their corny website fool you—this place is great!

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Their truffle fries are incredible, and my #1 burger (made with aged cheddar, smoked Bacon, charred balsamic red onions, Rufus Teague’s BBQ sauce) was to die for. Seriously. I’m drooling right now just thinking about it. Definitely check this place out if you’re looking for a quality grass-fed burger (that is big but not so big that you have to wrestle with it just to take a bite) with killer hospitality, you’ve got to give ‘em a try!

beercade

Following dinner, we headed over to Headquarters Beercade for some more fun. There are few things I love more than arcades paired with an ice cold beer.

SATURDAY

My family and I headed up to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin this weekend to check out the US National Snow Sculpting Competition which is a tradition of sorts for us. This is definitely an event you should check out if you’re not too far away! I am always so amazed but the beautiful things that these talents artists can create out of nothing but snow!

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Be sure to take a peek at the US National Snow Sculpting Competition Facebook page for even more incredible photos of the magnificent sculptures they created!

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Afterwards, we headed to Gino’s East to warm up and enjoy some amazing deep dish pizza. I always have to laugh at the irony of traveling to Wisconsin for some of Chicago’s best deep dish (in my humble opinion), but I’m not complaining! It was amazing as per usual :)

SUNDAY

Sunday morning was spent preparing dips/snacks and making guacamole. I then proceeded to spend the rest of the afternoon reading and avoiding eating the aforementioned snacks. Man oh man was I excited to dig into those once the SuperBowl started (as you can tell,football isn’t really my thing). It was so nice to just stay inside all day while the snow consumed the world outside.

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This weekend I also discovered two LUSH products that are quickly proving to be game changers for my face! Usually my skin is pretty oily/full of spots (think back to the days of early adolescents), but between this blueberry mask and the tea tree water, my face is bouncing back to life. Hooray!

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Advice for my Future Self

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2014, you’ve been a crazy but exciting year! I packed my bags and left my wonderful Wisconsin life to return to Illinois, I’ve worked on some really fun and exciting graphic design projects, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. This year definitely threw some curve balls my way, but with every obstacle I encountered, I learned a few new tricks. I’ll even have some exciting news to share within the next month or so, so be on the lookout for that too!

At the beginning of last year, I read through the notes I made in many Field Notes/Moleskin notebooks that I had written the year prior. Then I shared some of the best advice tucked away inside their pages as a reminder to myself to follow my own advice (and the advice of those I’ve encounter along the way). That being said, I thought it might be nice to do the same this year. Here are some words of wisdom that I hope to embrace in 2015, but I think they’re well-suited for anyone looking to kick butt in 2015!

01. THE WORK WILL GET DONE IN THE TIME THAT YOU HAVE.

It’s easy to get worked up over busy schedules, tight deadlines, and bumps in the road. This is a note I made at the beginning of 2014 when I was busy juggling freelance graphic design work, a full-time in-house design job, and preparing to relocate. It was crazy, but I quickly realized that no matter how under the gun I felt, the work always got done. This sentiment is also very similar to my next piece of advice.

02. WORRYING IS NOT PREPARATION.

You may recall reading this piece of advice from Good Fucking Design Advice founder, Jason Bacher in my post about HikeCon, but it’s definitely one I can’t emphasize enough. There are points in a design project (and in life in general) where you find yourself overworked and worrying about the outcome of this project, that event, etc.. While worrying can inspire you to work harder, there comes a point where worrying actually hinders progress. When it reaches that point, you either need to establish some actionable items to make real progress or just take a break (a step-away-from-the-computer kind of break).

03. WHEN YOU HAVE AN IDEA, CHASE IT RIGHT AWAY WHILE YOU’RE STILL PASSIONATE.

When you first have an idea, your passion is at its’ prime and you’re more likely to get that idea out into the world. Don’t wait until you have it all figured out. Chase that idea, get messy, make mistakes, and make sure to do it now! This is one of the pieces of advice that really helped me this year, and I hope to continuing following well into 2015. I often have a lot of ideas for passion projects that I’d like to start working on, but more times than not, they end up in project purgatory. In 2014, I finally took my plans to start a bike zine (a project I wanted to pursue since 2013) to the next level and created Jelly Legs, and this mentality has definitely paid off!

04. “WHEN YOUR GOAL IS TO GAIN EXPERIENCE, PERSPECTIVE, AND KNOWLEDGE, FAILURE IS NO LONGER A POSSIBILITY.” - Sophia Amoruso in her book Girl Boss

I read Girl Boss on a whim without even fully understanding what it was about (see: not tuned into the fashion world…even accidentally). It was an easy and enjoyable read though much of it wasn’t too memorable. However, this quote really resonated with me, and it’s one that I try to live by (though I’m not always successful).

I’m not sure where 2015 will take me, but I’m excited to have you all along for the ride as I start another year of blogging and designing cheerful things!

Cheers!

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Homemade Sea Salted Caramels

I made so many delicious homemade caramels with sea salt this weekend 😍

This weekend I went to my parents’ house and made sea salt covered caramels with my mom, and they turned out quite amazing (if I do say so myself). Even my dad who is not much of a sweets person loved them. These caramels are so buttery they practically melt in your mouth, and I’ve found them to be especially delicious with a piping hot cup of black coffee!

These are caramels are super easy to make, but they are pretty time consuming (it took us about 1.5 hours). I definitely recommend making these with a loved one so you can take turns stirring! It’s definitely worth the wait though, and this recipe made about 70 caramels.

To make these beauties, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of butter (2 sticks)
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups light karo syrup
  • 2 (12 oz) cans evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Sea salt (to taste)

First, (very) generously butter a jelly roll pan. Make sure to really coat the sides and around the perimeter very well as that’s where they seem to get stuck most frequently.

Next, in a large heavy-bottom sauce pan combine butter, sugar, and karo syrup and stir over medium heat until boiling. This will take about 7-10 minutes depending on your stove.

Once the mixture is boiling, slowly add evaporated milk and maintain a consistent boil.

Here’s where you need to bust out your muscles (or pair up with you partner for stirring shifts)! Stir the mixture continuously until it reaches a firm ball stage. To do this, fill a bowl with ice water and drop a spoonful of the caramel liquid into the bowl. Mold the cold caramel mixture into a firm ball (it will still be slightly sticky). When the mixture is at firm ball temperature (about 240° F or 230° for a softer caramel), stir in the vanilla.

Finally, pour the mixture into your buttered jelly roll pan. Place in your refrigerator to set. If you want to add to sea salt to the top (which I highly recommend!), leave the caramels in the fridge for about 45 minutes, sprinkle sea salt (to taste) on top of the caramels and place back in the refrigerator to finish hardening.

Finish by cutting caramels into individual pieces and wrapping in wax paper like a Tootsie Roll. Make sure to sneak a few while you’re wrapping them up—you’ve earned it! :)

Recipe adapted from Tastes Better From Scratch.

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Renegade Craft Fair Chicago

RenegadeChicago

After years of vowing that I would attend Chicago’s Renegade Craft Fair and continuously failing to do so, I finally made it to their December market this Saturday! I absolutely love looking at all of the beautiful, passion-filled work that fill these events, and the inevitable joy the work evokes when you bring them into your home.

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While at Renegade, I discovered Fresh Tangerine, a Seattle-based company who seems to exclusively make jewelry I love. I am now the proud owner of those beautiful ampersand earrings along with the matching necklace. LOVE. The way to my heart is now Fresh Tangerine (though just about any type of food is still a close rival), so feel free to send some presents my way!

Earrings

As a kid, I use to take coupons out of those dispensers in the grocery store aisles LIKE IT WAS MY JOB (as I’m sure many you did too). Now as an grown-ass lady and graphic designer, I find myself doing the exact same thing with the business cards neatly laid out on crafters’ tables. I snag as many as I can and then swoon over how beautiful they are. I love this layout! What a great size! The bite on this letterpress is beautiful! I love the weight of this card! With all of the business cards I’ve acquired this way, I might as well store them in a binder alongside my ancient Pokemon cards.

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After the hustle and bustle of Saturday, I was definitely looking forward to some down time on Sunday. Aaron and I spent some time relaxing, setting up our Christmas tree, and watching Home Alone (only 1 & 2, of course). I also recently discovered the wonder of DW Home’s fraser fir wood-wick candle—it’s the perfect pine smell! Light it alongside a cinnamon candle and your home is sure to smell like the holidays in no time!

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Also shown above is one of my favorite possessions to date—a spot-on illustration of Aaron and I, courtesy of the incredible Dwellephant at last year’s Hovercraft Milwaukee (and I’m super bummed I missed this years’). If you aren’t familiar with Dwellephant, definitely go check him out. He’s a super rad guy who also happens to make some really fun illustrations :)

Stay toasty!

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