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Chicago, IL

Renaissance Girl is a Chicago lifestyle blog for every twenty-something and millenial, which focuses on fashion, beauty, food, career, travel and events

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Life + Home

5 Brand-New Gift Ideas for Mother's Day

Laura

The Ronin Phone Case has highly-polished alloy crowns and wood side rails, to the genuine leather wrapped back- exemplifies the desire to create a case that rises above all others.

OYOBox organizes frames stylishly in the same attentive manner that jewelry has long been stored. More functional than tossing frames in a box or drawer and better than keeping your sunglass cases in ever nook and cranny, OYOBox makes housing an entire collection effortless.

Lavender soy candle from archipelago botanicals is a hand-poured candle with bergamot, lavender, orange, lemon and eucalyptus oils. Its 70% soy wax base allows it to burn longer and cleaner, for 90 hours to be exact.

Oxygenetix is a breathable moisturizer and foundation that not only conceals, but also treats a wide variety of skin problems. It safely covers dry skin, acne scars, rosacea and other skin conditions, leaving your skin healthy and beautiful!

Active Edge provides technology to fight inflammation & pain, improve sleep & help the body perform at a more optimal level. Use it for every day wear, as a workout shirt, or for sleeping.

Pantone Colors of the Year: Rose Quartz & Serenity

Laura

Rose Quartz and Serenity Blue were chosen as this year's coveted Pantone Colors of the Year. Last year I featured an outfit incorporating the most important color of the year, marsala, so this year I wanted to provide some interior design ideas. 

Let go of your stress by utilizing Rose Quartz, which brings the energy rays of determination, commitment and caring while aiding in the effort to reflect and meditate. The color is a healing hue that brings a sense of faith and hope all in the vicinity of your home. Serenity provides us with a naturally connected sense of space with a calming effect, bringing a feeling of respite even in moments of distress. 

Rose Quartz & Serenity Color Ideas for Interiors

  1. Geometric shapes on the wall using these paint colors is a great way for a conversation piece, minimalist interest, and the #colorchic soft POP you're looking for.
  2. Why do you need to stick to just paint on the walls? For another maximum wow factor, why not paint a piece of furniture in one of these tones. In an all neutral room, the impact of an all pink or blue piece of furniture can really stand out and make a statement.
  3. For your styling toppers, find some old books around the house or from a flea market/thrift store and paint them in these tones.  An all monochromatic palette of books on top of a surface can really add interest to a space and even look like something you'd see in a gallery.
  4. Want another simple DIY? Black & White photography is also a huge trend right now in design, especially in #colorchic rooms.Take one of these tones and paint a frame. Then put your favorite B&W image in it for a really #chic contrast of minimalist and modern. Even a print of florals or plant life would look great with these tones!

9 Valentines Day Gifts for Him

Laura

For the man on the go

For the gentleman

For the city boy

For the nature lover

  • Serenity acres soap has 16 organic and unisex products with goat's milk, olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil and no preservatives, alcohol or chemicals

For the chill lounger

  • Jason Scott makes the coziest casual wear for guys that definitely holds its value

For the one who's always hungry

5 Valentines Day Gifts for Her

Laura

For the trendsetter

  • You can braid a Hadry head wrap and even tie it in a chic chignon and instantly elevate any outfit

For the socialite

  • WKND Sparkling Wine is a great brand of California bubbly to have on hand, plus WKND smells like citrus, white peach & grapefruit

For the siren

  • Anabel Arto, a European label that launched in the US this year, has a collection of bombshell bras, corsets and night gowns

For the working woman

  • The grace laptop sleeve fits 13 and 15-inch Macbooks with an envelope closure and a front zippered pocket for small essentials

For the beauty queen

  • The Green Beauty Rules delves into tips on 200+ affordable and chemically-safe products from Paige Padgett, makeup artist to Jillian Michaels

Makeover Your Office

Laura

We spend so much time at work, so why not make our desks pretty and functional? These are some of the cutest products I've used to spruce up my work space.

Banish Family Drama with Jennifer Grace's Tips

Laura

Stress can be high because of maintaining work/life balance, family traditions and self-care, especially during the holidays. But according to Executive Transformational coach Jennifer Grace, there are very powerful communication tools to utilize in order to stay sane during the next few months.

When it comes to balancing work and life this holiday season, Jennifer says it’s okay to be human. Give yourself permission to let your life be unbalanced for a little while. As she explained, “If you stood on just one foot, you would only be able to balance for a little while."

Overwhelmed is just a thought.
— Jennifer Grace

And when it comes down to being on the same page as your family members, Grace explains, "In order to enjoy holiday family traditions and eliminate family feuds, realize that problems come down to communication. Try to stay positive around family members and keep the energy up." She notes that compassion is key, and voice mirroring is a really powerful communication tool when a disagreement is brewing. 

We tend to interrupt each other when upset, which escalates conflict. If you are upset, mirror everything your family member is saying after they say it. “What I heard you say was,” is also a key phrase to make the other party feel validated. She notes, “Communication problems can come from when you don't feel like you're being heard or understood,” so the first step is making them feel understood.

Accordingly, if you feel overwhelmed and stuck, just take a five minute break. Walk outside to hear nature sounds, listen to music, journal your thoughts or use lavender aromatherapy to come back centered and balanced. Focus on what you are seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting to ground yourself.

Additionally, meditation and exercise are smart ways to practice self-care throughout holiday chaos. Exercise produces serotonin, which is a mood stabilizer. So go for a good run or yoga session if the stress is increasing. "It's a way to cultivate an unshakable happiness and center yourself in the eye of the storm."

Above all, Grace wants to leave this thought with anyone struggling during the holidays, or even in general, “Overwhelmed is just a thought.” It’s all about perspective, so think about what you have to do and how you will achieve your goals. Put a post-it up saying “Overwhelmed is just a thought,” and you’ll be on your way to clarity and inner peace.

How to Find Your Dream Apartment

Laura

Looking for an apartment varies in every region, but it's nothing short of an Olympic sport in Chicago. So I wanted to share my tips that are the result of years of curating the perfect place; hopefully they can save you some time and hassle! Plus, some of my lust-worthy dream apartment features are below from some very stylish blogs.

  1. Stay away from a "garden unit", it's a nice way of saying "basement"
  2. Set your budget early for monthly rent, utilities, furniture, food and transportation
  3. When in doubt, keep the three P's in mind
    1. Price (rent, utilities, deposit, fees)
    2. Proximity to work (close to transportation, commute time)
    3. Profile of neighborhood (restaurants, nightlife, crime rating)
  4. Don't wait a second if you get a "this is the one" feeling; lock it down or someone else will! 
  5. Make a list of what you're willing to sacrifice and what you must have in a place (you may need to compromise)
  6. Hang in there, because it's all worth it in the end to be at your home-sweet-home!

A Private Summer Plane Ride Over Michigan Beaches

Laura

Ever since I can remember, I've traveled to Michigan on the Fourth of July. As far as the Midwest goes, the beaches, lakes and camping in Michigan are unparalleled. I've sailed, wakeboarded, skimboarded and cruised on the water, camped in plenty of state parks and built many a sand castle on the pretty beaches throughout Michigan.

But there's something I've never done that I randomly got the opportunity to do this weekend-fly. Or at least be a passenger on a flight; I don't have my pilot's license :). I soared above Harbor Springs and looked at the happy boaters and beachers below.

There was something ethereal about being so far away, yet close enough to observe the complicated, unpredictable and dynamic human experience in simple shapes and colors. Everything looked so tranquil and perfect. It was one of the most peaceful things I've ever seen. Although I was pretty nervous about flying in a single-engine, four-person Cessna, I'm so glad I did. So my advice to you in whatever you're doing: go for it. Because a change in perspective is everything.

Currently Craving

Laura

Like any other girl, I love to shop. And looking through Bloglovin', Twitter & Tumblr only makes me add more pretty little things to my it-list. From lipstick to home decor, I have my sights set on these must-haves.

I feel like everyone has a Herschel backpack because they're cute and are good for your back/shoulders. Bobbi Brown Beach smells like the perfect summer scent, and Flopz are textured massaging flip flops for a relaxing walk. And this Mac lipstick in Brave is the prettiest shade that beauty gurus won't stop talking about. For an edgy twist on pearls, this Sterling Forever pick is gorgeous. Last but not least, this sassy mug and sweater do all the talking. What are you lusting after?

5 Gems for a Commuter Survival Kit

Laura

As a commuter, these small things have helped me maintain my sanity throughout the stress of commuting. If you're in need of some TLC while traveling, it's really the little things that help!

Never miss a text or email again with this elegant gilded phone charger.

It's a dirty world out there, and this little ray of sunshine can protect you against sickness and give you a sweet scent boost.

Even if you're a Starbucks aficionado, it's good to save up and bring your own coffee or tea in a pretty little tumbler.

Loud conversations, bad music, traffic, machinery; you name it, these popular noise-cancelling earbuds block it out so you can hear your own thoughts.

If you're feeling tired, stressed or just bored, aromatherapy can help immensely. Dab a couple of drops of lavender oil on your wrists for a lovely mood boost. I hope these tips make a difference in your daily commute!

Weekend Link Love

Laura

So it's safe to say I do a lot of reading. Like whenever I have down time, you can bet money that I'll be on Twitter and Buzzfeed or reading books on my iPad. So naturally, this weekend I came across some gems that I wanted to share.

I get inspired by anything and everything, so this list has topics from food to music to the latest workout trends. I hope you can find these links useful for the week ahead!

Back in Black

Laura

So I recently met up with a fellow Windy City Blogger. Jennifer is a photographer, so she took the liberty of getting a few shots of me as we warmed up at Bowtruss Coffee Roasters and headed over to TwoSided Cards/Art Gifts Vintage in Lakeview.

It was absolutely freezing and snowing sideways the whole time, but Jennifer was such a great sport! Talk about braving the elements.

Bachelor's Grove in the Chicago Suburbs

Laura

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.
— L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

This quote perfectly sums up how I feel about experiencing the seasons in the Midwest. So now that I'm not looking at mountain ranges, endless fields of cacti and rows of palm trees, I can truly appreciate the beauty of October skies, vast forests and crisp air. And when I see something that really catches my eye, I have to grab my camera and start clicking away. Accordingly, these photos were taken to showcase a spooky fall vibe.

The black tree silhouettes I captured in my backyard were inspired by my love for fall imagery. Additionally, I recently visited Bachelors Grove, one of the most haunted places in America. I wanted to see this powerful and memorable location that's packed with history. I wasn't expecting any paranormal activity since I went on a beautiful sunny day. And it wasn't until I was showing my sister my pictures (hours after my trip) that we both noticed a blue anomaly in the center of the last picture.

Wanderlust

Laura

As I look back on my traveling adventures and plan some new ones for the future, NYC, London and Paris are at the top of my list to see next. To keep track of all the places in my mind, I have a cool world map hanging above my desk with white pushpins on cities where I have been, and red pushpins where I want to go. As I look at the red pushpins, I remember that one of the coolest trips I've experienced so far was in Italy. I stayed in Rome and traveled to Pompeii and Florence; Florence was evidently my favorite, as they had amazing designer stores. I definitely want to go back to Milan someday so I can check out their fashion as well.


Dose of Inspiration

Laura

I recently was given a wonderful perspective on how to nurture relationships in my life. To be with someone, you both need to think of yourselves as two trees growing next to each other. Both trees need equal space so they can both grow in each other's company. They need equal space because one can be overshadowed and wither away if it's too close to the other. I was so inspired by this idiom that I wanted to whip up a design to encompass this idea, so here is my newest design (in my favorite color of course)!

I believe that the term Renaissance Girl is really another way to say well-rounded, so confidence to pursue my passions of fashion, beauty, food and travel is vital. I hope you like my little creation!