Cafe du Monde, New Orleans

The Next Big Adventure

prague, czech republic, europe, travel, adventure

{Prague, Czech Republic :: 2010}

When was the last time that you planned an adventure? I’m talking about an honest to goodness spontaneous adventure.

Well I can honestly say that 2015 was the start of a year of adventure for me. I previously mentioned on the blog how I basically decided at the last minute to join Rachel’s and her friends at her bachelorette party in Mexico. It was my first ever visit south of the border and I love it, like love it so much I’m hoping to make it back there sometime real soon. anyone want to fly out with me tomorrow? I followed that amazing trip with visits to Las Vegas, New Orleans, Tampa/Orlando, & Northern Michigan. I racked up those frequent flier miles for sure.

Now that we are 3 weeks into the new year, 2016 is shaping up to be an even better travel year than the last. Certain trips have already been planned and paid for, others are just in the initial planning stages, but I’m excited to see where in this big old world I’ll end up this year. With all of that being said, I’m sharing my 2016 travel list below.

adventure, travel, iceland

REYKJAVIK, ICELAND

Well I can officially mark this one down under the signed, sealed, delivered, I’m gone category. I’ve officially booked my vacation to Iceland for later this year and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I’ll be making my way to this hot new travel destination at the end of September in hopes of catching The Northern Lights. For such a small country, Iceland has a ton of things to do and my list of things to see just keeps getting bigger and bigger each day!

If anyone has been to Iceland, I would love your suggestions! Also, if you have an AirBnB you would like to recommend, please share the info!

Palm Springs, California, adventure

PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA

I recently went on a Pinterest pinning binge over the long weekend (follow me here!) and noticed that quite a few of the images I pinned were all places/activities located in Palm Springs. There is something about the kitschy colorful desert town that’s calling my name. Naturally I came to the conclusion that Palm Springs is a “must do” in 2016.

I’ll be celebrating my golden birthday this year (28 years old on the 28th of May) and I’m hoping to do in this beautiful dessert oasis. The goal of this trip? Eat. Sleep. Drink. Pool.

charleston, south carolina, adventures, travel

CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA 

Charleston was on my list of places to go and see in 2015, however it ended up getting replaced with a trip to New Orleans. This year will be different and I’m looking forward to a long weekend away to visit this charming southern city. My last visit to the Carolina’s was a drunken trip of Myrtle Beach in college. not my finest moment

I’m not gonna lie, I’m mostly excited about the food. Charleston has become a mecca for foodies everywhere and I’m excited to check out the best of the best cuisine.

So where will your next great adventure take place?

burgundy sweater, cupcakes and cashmere clothing, shopbop fashion, winter style

Burgundy & Black

burgundy sweater, cupcakes and cashmere, shopbop

 

One of my biggest struggles with living in Chicago is developing a winter style that keeps me warm without looking bulky. I’ll be honest, when temperatures dip down to negative numbers (I woke up to -2* weather and a iced glazed window) I just want to layer on the fleece lined leggings (most amazing gift I ever received, thanks Connie & Christine!) and a great sweatshirt.

Did you guys know that yesterday was the most depressing day of the year? I’ve been totally feeling the winter blues as of late; it’s hibernation season for me. When I do make the effort to go outside I like to stick to a specific winter approve color palette of jewel tone tops and solid black pants. Lately I’ve been gravitating toward any item in a deep emerald color. This past weekend I decided to mix it up in the color department and I was all about this cozy burgundy sweater. I tend to wear a thin layer underneath my sweaters in the winter and this sweater defiantly didn’t need it. Unfortunately it’s already sold out however I’ve got my eye on this Free People Pullover that looks just as cozy and comes in an array of colors.

If your looking for a great work to play trouser, I highly recommend these Joie Trouser pants. on sale! I own these pants in both black and a military green color and I’m constantly finding myself grabbing theses on those “I’ve got nothing to wear” days. They fit just like jeans and have a some stretch to them making them comfortable yet totally corporate office appropriate. I will say, go a size down when purchasing these. They will stretch out overtime and you’ll end up with a better fit in the long run.

So how are you keeping warm this winter season? Does anyone else feel like they needed just one more day this weekend?

flet floppy hat, cupcakes and cashmere, joie clothing, winter style burgundy sweater, cupcakes and cashmere clothing, shopbop fashion, winter style

:: Photography by Sam Kramer // Gold Coast Girl ::

ASOS Red Dress, Red Dress

Red Dress

ASOS Red Dress, Red Dress

It’s been exactly seven days into the New Year and I’ve already #failed hard in the blogging department. It look me a full 36 hours to realize this post didn’t go up yesterday because I scheduled it for January 6th, 2017. I’m convinced that I’m showing signs of early onset Alzheimer’s.

In the midst of the “New Year, New You” energy, I’ve been on a quest to get super organized and streamline my lifestyle. The only time I do this type of overhaul is when I move apartments so it’s been a while, things were starting to pile up. Last weekend I went through a major closet overhaul, major as in I’ve either donated or sold at least 65% of my wardrobe in the last 7 days. (I still have a few things listed on Poshmark if you are interested!) These types of wardrobe overhauls are always such a learning experience, so what did I learn this time? I own way to many freaking “special occasion” dresses that I’ll most likely never wear again.

I realized that over the years I have spent way too much money on “special occasion” dresses. I tend to always need to buy a new dress for each event in my life that requires a more put together look. How many times though do those dresses end up shoved in the back of your closet and rarely ever worn again? What a waste of closet space.

I’m in no means into the minimalist lifestyle, sorry I like stuff, but I’m realizing the importance of streamlining my lifestyle into simple easy to wear pieces that have versatility. Maybe this comes with age or maybe I’m just getting lazier and would prefer to sleep in than spend more than 10 minutes getting dressed in the morning, but quality over quantity is important.

For Christmas dinner with my family I purchased this cute 60’s style dress from ASOS in a bright punch of red. I specifically bought this dress for its longevity; long sleeves, because it’s colder more months out of the year than not in Chicago, a classic color, and a style that I can see myself wearing well into the future. A few accessories made this dress holiday appropriate and with a few simple style swaps, I can easily make this dress work in the office as well.

It’s out with the old and in with the new.

ASOS Red Dress, Red Dress ASOS Red Dress, Red Dress Furla Handbag

// Photography by Victoria Shapow //

FatFace UK Fair Isle Sweater

Sweater Weather with FatFace

FatFace UK Fair Isle SweaterI like to categorize the Chicago winter season into two distinct columns: holiday season & bitter cold season. I’ve officially checked off all the dates from the holiday season column and am working down the dates of the bitter cold. While we haven’t experience any negative temperature days as of yet (#chiberia anyone?), I really wish the 70 degree weather from early November would make an appearance in the near future.

So until the days of those warm 70 degree weather, I’m bundling up each day with a warm and cozy sweater. It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of UK Fashion brands (honestly, the clothing from the UK just fits me better) and FATFACE UK is making a splash here in the U.S. with their amazing line winter basics like this Faire Isle Sweater and this lace skirt. Unfortunately this sweater is already sold out (because it’s cozy AF) but I’m also eyeing this one and this one.

I’ve continued my personal trend of 2015 and included even more grey into my wardrobe. never enough grey. I loved the way this studied lunch clutch was my only pop of real color in the whole outfit.

Anyone else in love with gray as much as I am? (insert raising hand emoji here)

FatFace UK Fair Isle Sweater FatFace UK Fair Isle Sweater FatFace UK Fair Isle Sweater FatFace UK Fair Isle Sweater

:: Photography by Sam Kramer // Gold Coast Girl ::

Thank you FatFace UK for sponsoring this post. As always, opinions are my own and in no way influenced by the brands that support Caravan of Style. Thanks for your support! 

improve your mental health

7 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health in 2016

improve your mental health

Happy 2016! I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday season filled with time spent with close family & friends. This last long weekend was by far one of the most refreshing and productive weekends I’ve had in a long time. It honestly felt so good to clean, organize and restart my normal non-holiday routine. I may be totally on an island by myself here but I’m happy the holidays are officially off the books.

With a new year comes a new set of goals and resolutions. While I don’t normally participate in sharing my resolutions and/or goals, this year I have made a pact with myself to keep putting my own mental wellness above all else.

This year, put yourself first and keep your mind strong with these seven easy ways to improve your well-being and mental health.

LOCK IN YOUR SLEEP CYCLE

You’ve heard it time and again that a good night’s sleep is important for your mental health. I’ve spent more than my fair share of nights up hoping to finish just one more thing before hitting the hay and then waking up just 4 hours later to start the workday over again. This leads to a grumpy caffeine filled work day, and so the vicious cycle begins.

Well, what if you cold easily track your sleep with an app that doubles as an alarm clock? A favorite of mine (seriously, obsessed!) is The Sleep Cycle app which allows you to track your sleeping patterns as well as naturally wakes you up at the right time of your cycle. Oh did I mention it’s a free app! Here’s to a good night’s sleep.

FIND YOUR BALANCE

Work-life balance can, at times, feel like an impossible dream. Trust me when I say that I’ve had many a anxiety attacks over the years over the stress of not being able to do it all. The added stress can not only negatively affect your physical health but also your mental health.

So how have I found balance? Therapy. Therapy can feel like dirty word sometimes; society can put a negative vibe on anything related to mental health. My philosophy – if something can make your life better, why be ashamed to do it?

Meet with a counselor that specially works with those in need of help with stressors at work. Many urban areas, like Chicago, have great centers that an work within your busy schedule. For those of you in Chicago, Urban Balance has a wonderful philosophy and a great reputation.

HAPPY THOUGHTS, HAPPY SOUL

To feed a happy soul, you must have a grateful heart. Early in 2015 I decided to partake in 40 days of gratitude challenge. I can honestly say that the whole experience changed my life for the better. When you focus on the good parts of your life, even the small things, all the larger challenges in life seem just a bit less aggressive.

Pick up a beautiful notebook or journal to write down ll those things you are grateful for, big or small. Personally, I use this journal but also love this one, this one, and this one. Studies have proven that those individuals who constantly practice gratitude are some of the happiest individuals alive. The best part, it doesn’t cost you anything!

GET A MOVE ON

Did you know that your physical health is directly linked to your mental health? Of course you did! There is a reason workout gurus like to toot all the benefits of endorphins released after a great work out. That feeling is your brain doing a Beyonce happy dance. (We’ve all done this, don’t lie)

Find a workout routine that you love or even one that you can tolerate. Trust me when I say that I dread heading to SOULCYCLE every week, but I know that it’s doing my heart and head good. A daily 30-minute workout can greatly improve your mood as well as your mental health.

P.S. Why not buy yourself a new workout outfit too – on sale!  Gotta look cute at the gym!

CENTER & FOCUS

If you are anything like me, you can have six or seven thoughts running through your head at all times. I’m constantly worrying if I shut something off at home or if I remember to bring all my snacks. It’s exhausting and leads me to believe that I’ll end up with early onset Alzheimer’s. The reality is that my brain is just telling me to center and focus, on one thing at a time.

Meditation is a great way to give your mind a break from working overtime. Need a little help shutting it all off? There are a slew of great apps out there that walk you through a meditation. I personally love Headspace that walks you through a quick 20-minute meditation routine that will leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed.

DO GOOD BY HELPING OTHERS

How many times have you said the following “I really want to volunteer or do some community service this year.” Now how many times have your actually followed through on that statement. Right. I’ll be the first to raise my hand and say that I have the best intentions when it comes to community service work but with the worst track record of actually falling through. Honestly, I think the last time I volunteered was in high school and it was only to get my hours in for National Honor Society.

Volunteering for a charity is a proven way to make you feel more positive about yourself and others. Experiences have a longer lasting impression on your happiness than anything you purchase. So why make your experience one that helps others as well; it’s a win/win situation.

Many organizations around the country and looking for volunteers, some organizations only need you few short hours on the weekends. Many companies these days offer their employees a PTO day just to volunteer! (Check with your Human Resources professional, they’ll be able to provide you with all the details on if your company has this type of program in place.) VolunteerMatch is a great website that helps you find a organization/charity that needs help in your area.

FEED YOUR SOUL

I absolutely hate the word diet, it just sounds so unpleasantSo let’s replace that word with entirely and think more about mindful consumption. We all know that what we put into our bodies greatly effects our physical and mental health. It’s time to start feeding your soul with brain food.

Boost your brain power with a diet rich in healthy vitamin B12 and berries. Both have been linked to keeping you more alert and your memory strong. It’s never to early to start preventative measures – you’ve only got one brain.

This list of brain friend foods will be your new best friend. At the end of the day you can always throw it all into a blender and whip up a delicious smoothie.

What are some ways you plan to put yourself first in 2016?