4th of July Surprise

July 14, 2015
HANNAH SHELBY: 4th of July Surprise

The 4th of July is always one of the most fun holidays of the year, but this year it was one of the best weekends of my life.

For the last 3 years, we’ve spent the holiday weekend at Joe’s family lake house. This year we decided to do the same, only to my surprise, we made the trip in that pretty little white number below! After a relaxing Friday, Saturday the 4th was no different: the day was spent sunbathing on the dock with ice cold drinks and good music, followed by an afternoon grilling a proper Independence Day feast. Together with family and friends, we finished our last bites and headed back down to the dock for fireworks. The sun was just beginning to set, and to kick things off, we all agreed sparklers were the best way to get things started. Each of us had one in hand, jumping and dancing around the dock. And then, to my complete surprise, I looked over to see Joe down on one knee with what he referred to as “a special sparkler just for you” :) After some tears, lots of pictures, and one very important YES!, we celebrated with Champagne and of course fireworks. It was the perfect weekend and one I’ll never forget. But best of all, I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life adventuring through it all with my best friend.

HANNAH SHELBY: 4th of July Surprise

HANNAH SHELBY: 4th of July Surprise

HANNAH SHELBY: 4th of July Surprise

HANNAH SHELBY: 4th of July Surprise

HANNAH SHELBY: 4th of July Surprise

HANNAH SHELBY: 4th of July Surprise

HANNAH SHELBY: 4th of July Surprise


Mother’s Day Gift Guide

May 2, 2015
mother and daughter

HANNAH SHELBY: Mothers Day Gift Guide


1. Matching Jewelry

Over the last 10 years, my mother and I have picked a few pieces of matching jewelry, and it has become one of our favorite traditions. We don’t live in the same state, but everyday I look down at our special ring knowing she is doing the same, and it brings an immense amount of comfort. We recently ordered some rings from the jewelers at Bario Neal in Philadelphia. They make lovely handcrafted pieces with reclaimed precious metals, Fairmined gold, ethically sourced stones, and low-impact, environmentally conscious practices. Bario Neal

2. Eames Hang-It-All

If your mother is one who appreciates midcentury design, this classic piece from Charles and Ray Eames will not only look great in her home, but help keep her things organized and tidy. The Hang-it-all comes available in the classic multi-color, as well as two newer options—solid black and solid white. Design Within Reach

3. Fancy Candles

The candles from Le Labo are made with 100% soy wax and blended with essential oils for a luxury experience at home. She can curl up with her favorite book, and a glass of wine, and relax like she deserves. Le Labo Santal 26

4. House Plant

Plants are more popular than ever, and this is a gift that keeps on giving. Every time she looks at the plant, she will be reminded of just how much you care for her—even if she has no green thumb at all. This “snake plant” or “mother in law’s tongue” is well known for being nearly impossible to kill, requiring little water or sunlight. Available at Home Depot.

5. Pretty Stationary

Perfect for the mom who loves to write notes the old fashioned way. This glamorous stationary set by Rifle Paper Company can be used for many occasions—to say thank you, happy birthday, or just to say hello. Rifle Paper Company Assorted Crown Card Set

6. Marble Baking Slab

It never fails—every time you come to visit, your mother has a fresh baked pie, gooey chocolate chip cookies, or piping hot cinnamon rolls ready when you arrive. This marble pastry board is a sophisticated addition to her kitchen and doubles as a beautiful serving tray for parties and holidays. French Kitchen Pastry Slab

7. Sparkling Wine

You’re mother’s love deserves to be celebrated! Pop a bottle of bubbly together and reminisce on all the good times you’ve shared and all the reasons you love her so. Bonus, this bottle from Sofia Coppla comes pre wrapped with pink cellophane and the bottle is pretty enough to used as a vase after. Sofia Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine

8. Cookies delivered right to her door

If you’ve ever devoured a cookie from Milk Bar in New York, you know this gift needs little explanation. Sold by the half dozen, all the classic Milk Bar flavors are available for delivery straight to her door—including Blueberry and Cream, Cornflake, Compost, and Confetti. Milk Bar

9. Essential Cookbook

There are some cookbooks you go back to over and over, and this is one of them. Full of recipes for everyday, including brunch ideas, family dinners, and everything in between. Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten

10. Outdoor Dinnerware

These plastic dishes are perfect for all the outdoor parties and dinners on the porch your mother is bound to enjoy this summer. This 1964 award winning design by Massimo Vignelli is made to stack straight on top of one another for easy and compact storage. Heller Dinnerware Set


Tulum | Travel Guide Part 2: Where to Eat and Shop

April 16, 2015
HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

Before arriving in Tulum, I had pretty high expectations of the food. But honestly, I didn’t fully realize just how good the food scene would be. After 9 days, we still had restaurants we failed to make it to, and several we wished we could eat at again. If you’re like me and one of your favorite things about travel is trying new and unique dishes, and soaking in the atmosphere of a well put together restaurant/bar, Tulum is for you. And beyond the food, the same goes for the many great shops that line the beach road and pueblo. All that and one of the most beautiful beaches imaginable? Tulum truly is a magical place and one we’ll never forget. We can’t wait to return again and again!


HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuideHartwood

Hartwood really is as good as its reputation. We tried three days in a row to get a reservation and were finally successful when we arrived at 2pm on a Saturday as the first people to stand in line. The hostess arrives at 3pm, but the restaurant is pretty small, so only the first 20 people or so will get reservations—which are available between 7pm-9:30pm. Once you give the host your name and preferred time, you can be on your way and come back at your designated time. As soon as we were seated, we ordered two jalepeno margaritas to start, followed by the tomato salad, coronado fish, and the agave ribs. Then finished with more drinks, and two scoops of gelato: one coconut and one corn. The fish was melt-in-your-mouth delicious and the ribs were some of the best I’ve ever had—smokey and sticky sweet. The drinks were perfectly crafted, the ambiance indescribable—oh, and Jake Gyllenhaal sat at the table next to us. So that didn’t hurt our overall experience either :) (Located at km 7.6)

Continue Reading…


Tulum | Travel Guide Part 1: The Basics

April 15, 2015
HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide

I first learned of Tulum two years ago while writing a piece on up-and-coming travel destinations for my work. Since then, I’ve dreamed of walking the white sandy beach, eating and drinking an endless supply of ceviche and mojitos, and falling asleep to the crashing sound of waves. But Tulum is so much more—and when you’re there, it feels as though you’ve stumbled upon something truly unique. On our third day, we gave a ride up the beach road to a nice couple visiting from Buenos Aires. Later that night, we struck up conversation with a Canadian woman and her incredibly intelligent 13 year old daughter. We stayed in a hotel run by an Italian family, and ate at a critically acclaimed restaurant run by chefs from New York. We also devoured some of the best al pastor tacos we’ve ever had at a local family owned restaurant in the pueblo, toured mayan ruins, and swam in an ancient centote. Tulum is a place all its own—like a castaway dream, a bohemian beach paradise bringing together people from all over the world. I left feeling not only relaxed and refreshed, but inspired—by the people we met, the food we ate, and the artistry and attention to detail of each and every thing that makes up this magical place.

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuideWhen to Go

Tulum is of course a great winter getaway destination. For weather info and tips on when to go click here. Personally, I prioritize good weather over crowds and price points when choosing an ideal visit time. February and March to me are the perfect combination of low rainfall and warm temps. We were fortunate to have no rain and almost entirely sunny skies. And other than the ruins being busy, visiting in March did not feel overcrowded at all.

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel GuideRenting a Car

Don’t be fooled—renting a car in Mexico may appear to be super inexpensive, but that $30 booking you made for an entire week will quickly turn to $350 once you pick up the car and add the various insurance and liability fees. Still, prices aren’t unreasonable in US terms, just be prepared for a much higher total than what you initial booked. Driving from Cancun to Tulum is very easy. The airport is right off of highway 307, which runs down the coast, past Playa del Carmen, and straight to Tulum pueblo.

HANNAH SHELBY: Tulum Travel Guide


Bug Spray Wipes

Tulum is located in the jungle, so there is no shortage of bugs. The breeze keeps the bugs away from the water, but with many of the restaurants located on the jungle side of the road, you’ll want to make sure and have a good form of bug repellent. We brought only carry-on bags, so bug spray wipes were not only convenient but very practical. They are easy to keep in your purse if you find yourself in an extra buggy location (although honestly, most places were very good about keeping the bugs at bay with citronella candles). We brought these deet free wipes by Bugband and a bottle of Ben’s 30% DEET spray for ankles and behind the knees only, and came home with very minimal bug bites.

Sunscreen, Sunscreen, Sunscreen

Make sure you have plenty of sunscreen! With the proximity to the equator and the reflection off the white sand, the sun in Tulum is incredibly intense. We went through two full sized bottles in one week. We also brought a really great SPF 30 Oil Free Face StickSPF 30 Lip Balm, and Cool Down After Sun Hydrating Lotion from Sun Bum. Reapply often and don’t forget your ears, feet and hands. Nothing is worse than getting burned the first day of a beach vacation and spending the rest of the time in pain in the shade.

Cleansing Towelettes

Between all the sunscreen, bug repellant, and salt water, we found it very nice to have some cleansing towelettes to wipe off after a day at the beach or a night out in the jungle. They are also great for washing your face quickly and easily. We brought these Acure Organic’s Argan Oil Towelettes.


Luckily we had no rain on our trip, but being the tropical climate it is, rain is definitely a possibility. And with many of the restaurants being primarily outdoors, it’s never a bad idea to be prepared.


The jungle road is very dark at night. There are several areas less populated with hotels and restaurants, and these areas in particular are very dangerous to walk along at night without either a flashlight or head lamp to let oncoming traffic know you’re there.

Charcoal pills

After a little stomach issue during our trip to Europe last year, our friends from Austria gave me a few activated charcoal pills and miraculously in only a few hours, I felt almost back to normal. Since then, we swore never to go on another trip without these.

Lightweight Beach Towels

Oversized, fast drying, and light enough to pack in a carry-on, these turkish towels from Hammamas are a perfect addition to any beach vacation. Their compactness made them easy to carry around with us everywhere we went, and as an added bonus, they doubled as an excellent bike seat cushion.

Portable Bluetooth Speaker

We packed this Jawbone Mini Jambox for its great sounds and small size. No cord or wifi needed, just a bluetooth connection and a nice, relaxing playlist.


Many restaurant take only cash. Often they will take both Mexican pesos and American dollars, but the peso is the preferred form of currency. There are several ATMs along the beach road, as well as in town at various convenience stores and banks. The exchange rate fluctuates daily—while we were there, $3000 pesos was the equivalent of about $200 dollars. Continue Reading…


Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

February 7, 2015

Still trying to think of that perfect Valentine’s Day gift idea? If you’re looking for something thoughtful to make the day extra special for someone you love (without breaking the bank), here are a few fun ideas…

52 Things I Love About You52 Things You Love About Him

I made this deck of cards for Joe two years ago when he was traveling for work almost every other week. They are the perfect size to pack in a suitcase and a fun reminder of all the reasons you love them so. Mine are made with classic Bicycle Playing Cards. Or if you’re looking for something more unique, this site has a huge selection of card options.

Build a Fort

Build a Fort Filled With All His Favorite Things and Spend The Day Relaxing

What could be better than a pile of pillows, blankets, and all his favorite things? Build a fort just like in the carefree days of your childhood and fill it with his favorite snack food, candles and wine. Then kick back and watch movies, listen to music, read books, or whatever it is you both love to do together, and let the outside world fade away.

Pinhole Press Photo BookA Book Filled With All Your Favorite Memories

If you’re anything like us, you have more photos than you know what to do with. But photos are always more fun when you have a good way to view them. Pinhole Press has a beautiful collection of photo books that make for a perfect walk down memory lane. Every time he flips through the book, he will be reminded of the fun you have together and the love you have for one another. Shop this exact photo book here.

Barrel aged SrirachaSet His Heart on Fire

Does he like it hot? Keep things spicy with a unique take on his favorite condiment. Sosu’s version of this classic sauce is aged in whiskey barrels for a fruity, spicy, and smoky flavor. Sriracha and whiskey in one? Dynamite. And for bonus points, order his favorite pizza or wings as a second surprise so he can get to tasting his new sauce right away. Sosu’s Barrel Aged Sriracha, $30 for 2 bottles.

Heart Shaped DonutsMake Him Breakfast in Bed

A tried and true romantic gesture that never gets old. Sneak away before he wakes up and return to bed with a tray full of his favorite breakfast foods. I’m drooling over this recipe for Red Velvet Cheesecake Pancakes and this recipe for heart shaped bacon. And what you do after breakfast in bed? Well that is totally up to you :) (Image Credit)

Something Pretty

Something For You And Him

This gift needs little explanation. Something pretty for you in turn is something pretty for him. Sounds like a win-win to me :) I love this site which has a beautiful selection lingerie and loungewear.


all of me loves all of youWrite Him Love Notes and Hide Them In Places He Will Find Throughout The Day

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Write him cute love notes and hide them in places to surprise him throughout the entire day: stick one on the dashboard of his car, in his briefcase, tucked inside his laptop, stash one in his lunch, etc. He will feel the love all day long.


No matter what you do on Valentine’s Day or who you spend it with, I hope you have a love filled day. And remember, there is no shame in writing yourself a love note or buying yourself a big ole box of chocolates :)

P.S. Speaking of love, our good friends Adam and Lauren just got engaged! Check out their fun Chicago engagement photos here.



Tulum Packing Inspiration

January 25, 2015
acacia swimwear

One of my favorite things about travel is the excitement leading up to the trip. Researching where to go and what to eat, scouring Pinterest for images that get you even more excited than you already are, and imagining what you would pack if you had an endless budget for vacation wears. So in the spirit of the latter, here are some wishlist items inspired by our upcoming trip to Tulum.

Tulum Packing Guide

1. This off the shoulder top from Stone Cold Fox has the perfect easy-breezy feel for a nice dinner out after a day lazing at the beach.

2. A vacation staple, this all black version of the classic Panama Hat from J. Crew is a unique and fun alternative.

3. A patterned clutch adds a festive punch to any vacation wardrobe. Shop similar here.

4. These Lennon inspired Ray-ban’s are the perfect accessory for Tulum’s boho beach vibe.

5. This sunscreen and after sun lotion from Sun Bum – because protection is a must, and good packaging is a bonus :)

6. I love simple and delicate jewelry, and especially when traveling. This Jennifer Zeuner Petra Lariat necklace still makes a statement and takes up almost no space in your carry-on.

7. Dreaming of tossing my beach towel, sunscreen, and favorite book in this patterned tote from Antique Batik.

8. Pretty details and you’ll blend right in with the sand in this crocheted bikini from Acacia Swimwear.

9. You can never go wrong with a flowy white lace top and easy cutoff shorts. Beaudry Blouse by Wilfred.

10. The feminine details in this playsuit from Zimmermann are stunning and make for a perfect after the beach cocktails look.

11. These Birkenstock Arizona Sandals are super easy to slip on and off in the sand.



Winter Getaway: Tulum

January 22, 2015


Tulum Ruins

Coqui Coqui Tulum

Gitano Tulum


Hartwood Tulum

Hotel Rosa del Viento

Tulum Mexico

 Images: 12 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13

Chicago winters are cold and dark. And it doesn’t take long for the travel bug to come back with a vengeance. So we decided to use some of the points we accumulated during our trip to Europe last summer, and planned a winter getaway to one of our bucket list destinations: Tulum, Mexico! We’re headed to the Yucatan Peninsula mid March for a week of relaxation, sun, and abundent fish tacos—and I can hardly wait. Have you been? Where do you recommend we go? Here are a few places on our must-visit list so far:

To Eat:


Posada Margherita

Casa Jaguar

El Tabano!


Casa Banana

Flor de Michoacan

Encanto Cantina

To Relax:

Coqui Coqui

To See:

Tulum Ruins

Coba Ruins


Do you have a go-to or bucket list Winter Getaway destination?


New Year Resolutions

January 11, 2015

Do you make New Year Resolutions? I’m not super serious about them, but I do think it can be a fun way to start out the year. And once the year is over, it’s nice to look back and see which of them you accomplished and which still need more work. So in the spirit of the the New Year, here are some of my resolutions for 2015:ReadMore_DuoRead More Books.

Reading more books was also on my resolution list last year. And while I may not have read quite as many books as I was hoping, I did get through a big one on my list—Donna Tart’s The Goldfinch. 775 pages and well worth the read. This year I’m hoping to knock out at least four, beginning with All The Light We Cannot See. Others on my list: How to be Parisian Wherever You AreWild, and Gone Girl. (And please, any suggestions are welcomed!)

Spend more time with people who make you happySpend Time With People Who Make You Happy.

It may be cliche, but life is short. And the older I get, the more I realize there are just some people who contribute positivity to your life and others who don’t. And that’s okay. But in this busy world we live in, time is so precious. So why spend it with people who don’t support and love you for who you are. Recently I came across a quote that read “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” Amen.

RunMore_DuoRun Darling, Run.

My freshman year of college, for no particular reason, I started running. And before I knew it, I was running almost every day. This continued up until moving to Chicago 4 years ago. Once I moved, my routine changed and so did my exercises. Over the last few months I’ve gotten back into it more, and it’s definitely something I want to continue. Chicago winters don’t make it easy, but with a little layering and determination, anything is possible.

TakeAClass_DuoTake a Class.

Ever since I was little, I’ve always loved art and making things with my hands. Art classes in school were always my favorite, and lately I’ve been longing for that quiet time in the studio creating. So in the spirit of trying something completely new, I’ll be enrolling in the Beginning Metalsmithing class at Lillstreet Art Center in April to learn how to make jewelry! And who knows, maybe it will become one of my new favorite hobbies.

Wine_DuoLearn about wine.

No matter what your age, its so important to continue to learn and expand your mind. Joe and I are big wine drinkers, and especially with all the restaurants in Chicago, I’ve always wanted to really know what I’m ordering and why. For Christmas, my brother gave me Kevin Zraly’s book Windows On the World: a complete wine course. And if I have to sample many, many types of wine while learning, I suppose I can handle that. I’ll keep you updated :)

Worry LessWorry Less.

I fully admit it, I am a worrier. Much of this comes from being a bit of a perfectionist and wanting to have control over situations that can’t always be controlled. But lately, I’ve been trying my best to worry less. When a situation which may or may not even happen in the future starts to put a knot in my stomach, I take a deep breathe and remind myself theres no point in worrying until there’s actually a reason to worry. Sounds pretty simple, but it’s not always easy. However, worrying about maybe needing to worry? That’s just silly.


What are your resolutions this year? Here’s to making 2015 one of the best years yet!


Winter Beauty Essentials

January 4, 2015
5 Winter Beauty Essentials

Sure, a warm drink on a cold day does just the trick, and that freshly fallen white snow is so lovely, but dry irritated skin? No thank you. Winter is not easy on the body. Between the cold dry weather and the heater running 24/7, it can be difficult to keep your skin looking healthy and hydrated. Here are some beauty products I’m using right now to help fight the winter blues.

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Holiday Decorating Inspiration

December 10, 2014


How are you decorating for the holidays this year? We live in a small apartment so putting up a big tree really isn’t an option for us. I’m loving these simple evergreen accents, and if we had a big home, I love the idea of hanging garland in the doorways! I’m always a fan of clean design and love the Scandinavian palette of black, white, and wood. The pop of green looks lovely in a mostly white interior, wouldn’t you agree?

Continue Reading…