Gift Guide: Let's Get Cozy

Happy Weekend! Is your home in full holiday swing? The snow here has made it feel so much more like the season. But, I really prefer staying inside and enjoying the view from the fire with a hot cup of coffee. You too? Here are some ways to keep you or your loved ones cozy, which is my favorite during these colder months. 

1. Love this classic sleep shirt in a chic stripe. 
2. A cashmere scarf that could not feel more luxurious. 
3. The sweetest slippers
4. A comfy pair of sneaks for that quick coffee run. 
5. How cute are these polka dot jams
6. Shearling Birks make the best slippers. 
7. Apple TV to entertain everyone in your house all day. (love those snuggly days)
8. Fingerless long gloves to feel extra cool and sport with your favorite leather jacket. 
9. A hilarious book you will not want to put down. Seriously, loved it. 
10. And a grandpa cardigan, because you know that is really want you want to wear all day at home. 

Other gift guides: 

I hope you have the best weekend and get to do something festive! I hope I will see many of you at Holly Ball


Gift Guide: On the Go

Little luxuries while you are on the move can make a trip so much better. Especially when you are reminded of the lovely person who gifted it to you. Whether for work or play, here are some gift ideas for the girl that is always hopping on a plane. 

1. A super soft cape to keep warm on a flight. I want this for every day! 
2. A travel kit that includes everything you need and TSA approved. 
3. The prettiest jewelry case with smart design inside to keep her baubles safe and organized. 
4. A gorgeous agenda so she always remembers important meetings and your birthday. 
5. Fancy, sparkly earbuds so she can binge watch on the plane in style. 
6. A face mist that smells amazing and makes her skin glow. Every French girl swears by it. 
7. A weekender bag that will fit everything and still fit in the overhead (also comes in an overnight size, this backpack would be cool too)
8. Rosé gummies to snack on with her wine. 
9. A bluetooth speaker for her hotel room and to listen to tunes poolside. (this one is also great)

Other Gift Guides: 



Gift Guide: Beauty

Trying a new product or stocking up on a favorite is always a winner under the tree. And frankly I always love to check out new products around the holidays. A little santa gift to myself to indulge a bit. Here are some options that anyone would love. 

1. A luxurious and fun cosmetic case that will make her smile. 
2. Apparently this powder is what keeps Elle McPherson looking the same as she did in her 20s. Sold. At that price it better, but I am intrigued. 
3. Enough hair ties to last all year round and then some. 
4. A silk pillow case to combat wrinkles and add some luxury to her bed. 
5. A pretty sleep mask. I swear by mine. 
6. A 4 pack of the best balm out there in tints and flavors. Dying to try the coconut! 
7. These two products have been written up to death lately. Apparently they can help you sleep better and fall asleep faster. Great for that stressed friend of yours. 
8. The best stocking stuffer ever. Literally makes your feet the softest you have ever experienced. 
9. The classic She Uemera eyelash curler that will never not make someones day. 

Also check out the "I Need A New..." guide as well. 



Gift Guide: I Need a New...

Something that will dazzle us under the tree is great. But let's get real, we all own a few things that have seen better days. And though getting something practical (boring) sounds awful, you know that you will be so much happier that you got it. Plus, there are some incredibly elevated options for some of those every day wares that really should probably be tossed. 

1. Every time I have packed recently, I have wished I had ordered this high tech, super practical, and efficient luggage by Away. Especially this carry on size. 
2. There is nothing better than a cozy robe. This cable knit one would be an upgrade, right? (this one is also insanely soft, and here is a shorter version)
3. Toothbrushes get so gross, so I am loving the idea of this electric version that sends you replacements on schedule. 
4. Sheets get used every single day. Time for an upgrade. Brooklinen is such a great price for the quality. (everything on sale right now, too)
5. This is a serious investment. But if you are blowing your hair out on the reg, this Dyson hairdryer is the ultimate. (I want one just for the quick dry time!)
6. A new phone case that holds a couple cards. So simple, but kind of a game changer. This striped version is cute too. 
7. A new set of dinner plates to make you smile more at dinner time. Love the monogram. This blue banded set is sweet too. 

8. My Mom gave us this cordless vacuum a few years ago. It might be the most loved gift ever. Honestly, it could change your life if you have kids or pets. 
9. Bluetooth headphones that will let you listen to that podcast you love without the cord swinging back and forth during your work out. Yep, you know what I am talking about. 
10. A new cashmere hat to look cool and stay warm all winter. On sale and comes in a ton of colors. 
11. I gifted a Nespresso to Matt one year, but it actually was more life changing to me. ha I have contemplated packing this on every trip we go on. Like a psycho.  

Wouldn't these all make you so happy? 



Making Spirits Bright

There is little that someone of any age can get excited about, but twinkling lights and the anticipation of sweet family time with all the trimmings has got to be one of them. I am not a huge fan of too much decor, but I love a festive touch around the house. There are so many ways to get into the spirit without having it look like actual elves live in your house. From changing out a throw pillow, to hanging a wreath, to some fun tableware to break out for guests, the options are endless. 

1. A modern take on an amaryllis vase. (great gift)
2. A plaid pillow cover is an easy switch out with a big impact. 
3. I like how they show this stocking holder on the mantel with garland. 
4. This lighted sign would be so fun in the kitchen or above the bar for a party. 
5. A cute way to display all of those beautiful cards you get. 
6. These green tumblers would be a fun pop on a table.  
7. A sweet candy stripe needlepoint stocking.
8. LOVE this wreath holder. Would put our family name. (would make an awesome gift!)
9. Would love to put silly faced pics of everyone in these stocking holders

10. These fancy LED burst lights are so pretty or I swear by this remote controlled option too. 
11. Those rose gold ball garland is perfection. 
12. Obsessed with this modern take on a classic candle holder. A few of these down a table would be so pretty. 
13. The prettiest advent calendar I ever did see. 
14. Lighted faux boxwood garland you can use year after year. (no mess!)
15. Good looking faux pine trees are so sweet in a corner or no a mantel. 
16. Love a fur moment on the mantel. 
17. Pretty gold leaves that would be perfect on a mantel. 
18. A Monogram tablecloth that also comes in blue/green. 
19. & 20. Would love to put these lighted branches in a pretty ceramic vase
21. I am a sucker for a pom pom. This cosy throw would be fun on your sofa. Also comes in red. 
22. Change out your fruit bowl for something festive. 



Five Fall Looks

Crazy week, right? It is finally over and now we can move on to more important things, like cozy nights by the fire and maybe a crisp walk outside to get some fresh air. I have been spending a good deal of time distracting myself from the madness by checking out the sunny side of the internet. aka Pretty Retail Sites. ha 

So here are some looks I put together for us. A little something for every occasion to make our spirits bright (yep, went there). 

For that first Holiday party 
Plaid Sweater by Madewell / Pretty Lace pants by J. Crew / Obsessed with these Gucci loafers (also come in pink & here is a similar pair

For a brunch date with your man
LOVE this entire look so much
Modern wool trench coat from J. Crew (comes in many colors) / velvet skinnies by Madewell / sweetest bow sweater from J. Crew (bought in gray and love it) / scalloped booties by Chloe

For Dinner with Friends
Investment coat in crazy sale (still pricey, but beautiful!) / A silk shirt you can tuck in by Everlane/ A comfy, flattering sweater skirt by Madewell / Over the knee boots that do not break the bank by Dolce Vita

For Running Errands 
Sweatpants you can wear out of the house by Madewell / Wear your favorite sweater or long sleeve tee under this great shearling vest / And kicks to get you through the day by New Balance  

For the school run or to grab coffee
A comfy sweater coat from Madewell for inside and out / A long tunic sweater by J. Crew / the updated Uggs that look so much chicer / And the best leggings ever

Happy Weekend my friends. 


A Very Vintage Christmas

This year I have the privilege of co-chairing the sixth annual Holly Ball benefiting Barrington Children's Charities with my sensational friend, Christie Shoemacher.  It is an evening of cocktails, dinner, and dancing that brings together the community to raise funds for area children in need. It is beyond a joy to be involved, to attend, and to support a charity that provides grants to some truly great initiatives. If you are in the Chicago area, it would be so great to have you there. And even more fun to see you all dressed up! This year's theme is "It's a Wonderful Life. Let's Share it with Others!" It is a black tie event with vintage holiday elegance. 

Fun, right?! Who doesn't want to feel like Jackie O for a night and have a dashing date? 
Here are some looks I put together if you need ideas. Just add gloves...

Dress / Clutch (similar here) / Earrings / Shoes (or these)

Clutch / Necklace (or this) / Shoes (also these)

If you need any personal help, email me! erin.vondra@gmail.com


Surprise Shopbop Sale

Shopbop decided to make our week better with a three day sale. Thousands of items are up to 40% off. You can find all of them here. I searched through and picked out a few favorites. 

Makes for a happy Monday. 


Every Boot You Ever Need

I know, I know. A boot round up in the Fall is hardly news to anyone. But since I was shopping around for myself, I decided I should just pull all the great pairs from all our favorite stores and share. Boots basically make my outfits in the cold months with a uniform of sweaters/oversized blouses with leggings/skinny jeans (ps: just bought these and I am obsessed. Stretchy and comfy). Having options for every outfit and mood throughout the long, cold months can really brighten your day. 

I have to be honest. All I already want to put on is my good ole Uggs. Which are not great, but let's get serious, feel like you are wearing slippers all day and keep your toes so warm. There are some other cute options to keep us from Ugg-liness. ha

1. An update on the original Ugg that I can get behind. 
2. Slip on fuzzy Sorels with a hint of pink (other colors available)
3 An update on last years favorite wedge that slip uneasily. 
4. When the snow comes and you have no other options for the piles in your driveway, you have to go with these Sorels
5. Seriously digging these Moncler hiking boots. Going to try to find some lower price options for us. Also in black 
6. These Uggs are actually kind of cute for running around town. 

Low bootie options

1. These are such a pretty color and slip easily on. 
2. As are this darker pair
3. A classic black chelsea boot that will last forever. 

And when you want some height to your bootie

1. These are so simple and stunning. 
2. The classic Rag & Bone are an investment, but worth it. 
3. Oh, hey there gorgeous
4. Sensible, yes. And a little rugged. Digging these lace ups. (also comes in brown and black)

A midi length boot can be great with tights and leggings

1. These look cozy and could work day to night from Kate Spade
2. LOVE a cinch and a tassel from Louise et Cie
3. Pointy toe and high, these are killer. 
4. I actually do not know if I love these, but it is a nice version of the wedge from Ugg. (also in black)

Everyone needs a classic knee high boot
1. These classic riding boots also come in brown and wide calf (yep, I need that) 
2. The dressy suede and almost wedge heel sold me on these black boots
3. Oh, another tassel. And I love the block heel. Louise et Cie (also in brown)
4. A little height for a classic rider from Kate Spade
5. This style of boot with the stretchy back and side zipper are always a good idea

And if you want to go over the knee (you totally can, trust me)

1. Date night in the winter just got better with these
2. These are an investment, but one worth making if you have great gams
3. Love the wedge and the shape  of these Vince Camuto
4. These have such a great 70s vibe to them
5. The classic 50/50 by Stuart Weitzman



How To Be Beautiful

In the age of sharing, we are luckily/unluckily exposed to a lot of quotes/stories on social media. There are the ones that we wish we could take in and let drape over us for the rest of our lives. Then there are the ones you might even snicker at because it really tops out the cheese factor. I tend to be a snickerer. Not because I could not use the inspiration, but the connection of the words and my life seems far off. And let's get real, you can only read so many quotes on insta before you scroll right past all of them. Then I met Glennon, and she made me a quote lover, who knew? 

I was introduced to Glennon Doyle Melton, or Momastry as you may know her, a few years ago by friends in my book club. I will use the word "book club" loosely as Glennon's book, Carry On, Warrior is really the only book we have all successfully read and discussed. 

And it is with good reason. Because it was actually inspiring. It had a lot of clear and powerful messages, and I could actually remember most of it. And if you know me that is a feat because I am pretty sure my short term memory is that of a ninety year old. There is some God in there, but not in an overwhelming way that could totally turn off a non-church going gal. So if you are looking for something uplifting, but written by a frank and funny woman who has been through a lot and seen the other side, read it. 

Then her second book came out. Which truthfully was not even close to the first for me, but still had a great message. There was one moment in the book that struck me more than any other. One that I hope to remember in this ninety year old brain of mine and hope to god that I can transfer its message to my kids. It was about how to be beautiful. 

I know. That word. Ugh. 

Today there is so much fakeness, insta filtered madness, and photoshopped insanity that the word beautiful has been twisted up into a place that feels gross and fleeting. So while reading Love Warrior, I stumbled upon the section where Glennon is talking to her young daughters about the word sexy, then out of nowhere teaches us how to be beautiful. I will let her do the talking....

Excerpt from Love Warrior

"My girls are quietly listening, I study their faces as they study mine. Amma tilts her head and says, "Oh. I thought sexy meant pretty."

"hmm, nope. Pretty is another thing that can be sold. What and who is pretty is also something those people in boardrooms decide. It's always changing. So if what you want to be is pretty, you'll have to keep changing yourself constantly-and eventually you won't know who you are. What I want to be, girls, is beautiful. Beautiful means 'full of beauty.' Beautiful is not about how you look on the outside. Beautiful is about what you're made of. Beautiful people spend time discovering what their idea of beauty is on this earth. They know themselves well enough to know what they love, and they love themselves enough to fill up with a little of their particular kind of beauty each day.'

"Like when I dance!" Amma says, spinning and twirling around me. 

"Yes. Like when you dance. Many of the things you see me do each day, I do to be beautiful. It's why I take time out to spend with good friends. It's why I read and look at art and always have music I love playing in the house. It's why I light candles in every room. It's why I watch you climb our banyon trees in the front yard. It's why I roll around on the floor with the dogs and why I'm always smelling the tops of your heads. It's why I drag you to watch the sunset each week. I'm just filling up with beauty, because I want to be beautiful. You girls are beauty to me, too. When you smile at me, I can feel myself filling."

"You two will meet plenty of people who are pretty but haven't yet learned how to be beautiful. They will have the right look for the times, but they will not glow. Beautiful women glow. When you are with a beautiful woman you might not notice her hair or skin or body or clothes, because you'll be distracted by the way she makes you feel."

Isn't that just the simplest, sweetest, and truthful way to describe beauty? With a daughter of my own I am more conscious of the value we put on appearances, so this concept of filling yourself up with beauty is so lovely. I hope that I can explain it to Mary one day. And the "smelling the tops of your heads" line slays me, because I do that probably forty times a day to my kids. And I do think it fills me up in a way. 

So this weekend let's be beautiful. Let's fill up and share that glow. I will be smelling heads and clinking glasses with friends and listening to Fleetwood Mac. What about you? 



Current Favorites

How is Fall going, friends? Sinking into spiced everything and a possible scarf well? We have been on a bit of a whirlwind which has not let me enjoy the season as much I would like, but I plan on making the best of it while it lasts. An extra afternoon coffee spiked with cinnamon and getting cozy with the kids before bed are helping me remember it is Fall. Here are some other things that are helping make my days brighter...

1. Love these Sorel boots I just got. They also come in blue, coral, and brown and gray
2. I use quite a few of the Glossier products, but this new cover up they make is by far my favorite right now. Melts into your skin, perfect for under eyes and hides redness around the nose. 
3. I have become an almond milk snob and I am not even lactose intolerant. I just LOVE this toasted coconut almond milk so much in my dirty chai in the morning. I wake up early to make it instead of going to Starbucks. 
4. My kids have had these magnetic drawing lap pads for years, but all the sudden they are the shining stars of the toy collection. Keeps them busy! 
5. If you have not discovered the Wet Brush yet for yourself and any possible little heads in your house, get one. A light touch gets even the nastiest tangles out.
6. I have not been buying too many new skin products lately since my revelation, but I have been insistently using this Honest Beauty Magic Balm. Obviously it is great on lips, but it is also great on cuticles, eye lids (for a bit of shine), and any dry patches. Plus, it is pretty. 
7. Almost done reading this tear jerker. Can't wait to see the movie. 
8. In the mood to make this smokey, healthy but hearty, Turkey Sausage and Lentil Soup this week. 
9. Every Fall I end up going back for another pair of these flats. The perfect shape and it comes in such great colors. 



Game Day Queso

No one needs an excuse to eat a big pot of melty cheese with salty chips, but watching all this football and baseball seems to be a great one. The last time I made it in the pic below, it was under the shade of a tree surrounded by my college girlfriends, which was heaven.  Now it is time to cozy up to Fall and break out the leggings, so this might be on heavy rotation each weekend. This is a combo of a few recipes I have made over the years. The best part is it is easy and you can make it to your taste. Happy dipping. 

The Best Queso Dip
Imperfect Polish 2016
serves about 4-6 people at snack time

1 tablespoon oil, I like olive oil, but vegetable is fine
1/2 an onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, deseeded and chopped finely (leave some seeds if you like heat)
12 oz American Cheese (go to the deli counter), shredded 
4 oz Pepper Jack Cheese, shredded (use regular Monterey Jack you do not like spicy)
3/4 cup milk
Bunch of cilantro, chopped (leave out if you do not like it)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place a metal dish, like a cast iron casserole or pan, in the oven to heat up. 

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and jalapeño and sauce until onions are slightly browned. Reduce heat to Medium Low/Low and add in the cheeses and stir until melted. Add in about 1/2 of the milk and whisk. You can add more milk if it is too thick a little bit of at a time and keep whisking. Continue until you like the consistency of it. 

Take off the heat and pour the queso into the heated dish. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then add the cilantro if using. If you want to make it spicier, add in some of your favorite hot sauce. 



Not So Basic Basics for Fall

Though the temperatures say differently, Fall is here. With sweaters pilled and shirts with spots (honestly, why does everything have a stain on it?!), an update of last year's basics that were worn to their death is in need. I pulled a bunch of pieces for a friend while doing a closet refresh and loved all of these. The perfect additions that you can wear every day, week, and month until it is time to break out the shorts and flips again. 

1. I love the soft feel of this Blue Corduroy Blazer, the color is so great, but it also comes in neutrals. 
2. This really is the perfect shirt by Cloth & Stone. It also comes in a pretty coral. 
3.  A perfect Pointy Toe Flat, that is not too pointy. 
4. I live in this dress at home. Sweatshirt dress
6. A little edge to go with your morning coffee. Faux Leather knit cardigan
7. This Nars Velvet Matt Lipstick Pencil in Dragon Girl is such a go to. A foolproof red that looks great on everyone. And you can layer it for just a stain or full blown vamp. 
8. These Rails plaid shirts are so soft, machine washable, and a great update to the flannel. 
9. The updated skin pant from J. Crew everyone is raving about. 
10. A cozy Shawl Open Collar Cardigan that comes in a few colors. 
11. A Stripe sweater dress that can be worn day or night. 
12. A little investment in a J.Crew T-Shirt Cashmere Sweater will go a long way. 

I also love these Tights and these Leggings. Staples for under dresses, tunics, and long sweaters all winter long. 

Happy Weekend friends! 



Greek Night

I have made Greek inspired food a lot, but usually in the grilled chicken and hummus variety. I wanted to make something that had the flavors of gyro, but something everyone would like. Meatballs being the crowd favorite in the house, it seemed like the easiest choice. This is such a yummy dinner and all the components can be combined however each person would like to eat them. Perfect for company or the many different palettes in your house.             


Gyro Meatballs with Greek Salad, Tzatiki, Hummus, and Pita
Imperfect Polish 2016
serves 6

Store Bought: Pita (get the good, fluffy ones), hummus (or make your own if you have a few minutes), olives from the olive bar (I like the herby, spicy, marinated ones, but get what you like)

For the Meatballs: 
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon onion powder (you 
2 cloves of garlic, minced
salt & pepper
2 eggs
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I like panko, but use what you want)
2 lbs ground lamb (sub beef, chicken, or turkey too)

For the Tzatiki: 
2 cups Greek Yogurt (I like full fat for this, but you do you)
juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1/2 a cucumber, seeds scooped out, grated (use a box grater)
salt and pepper

For the Salad: 
2 hearts of romaine, chopped (about 8 cups)
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, diced 
1/2 of a cucumber, diced
handful of peppercinis, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, pressed or finely minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil

1. Prepare the meatballs: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place foil on two sheet pans and spray with cooking spray. Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs, except the meat in a large bowl. Stir and combine well, then add the meat. Using a fork, lightly combine until mixture is well distributed. Using a measuring spoon (I like 1/2 tablespoon for small ones, tablespoon for larger ones), scoop out the mixture and roll into balls. Place on the baking sheet, repeat with rest of mixture. (Note: This takes some time and can be done in advance, just refrigerate and bake off later.) Bake for 20 minutes. 

2. Make the Tzatiki: While the meatballs cook, combine all ingredients for tzatiki in a small bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning of salt and pepper. Refrigerate. 

3. Make the Salad: While the meatballs cook, place the romaine, tomatoes, onion, cucumber, and peppercinis in a large salad bowl. In a separate small bowl or measuring cup, combine the vinegar, mustard, garlic, and oregano. Whisk together and seasons with some salt and pepper. While whisking, slowly stream in the oil. Start with 1/4 cup and taste. If too strong, add more oil to taste. Refrigerate both bowls. 

4. To Serve: Toss the salad with enough dressing to taste. Then place all the components in the middle of the table and let everyone make their own plates. The more casual and rustic the better. 


PS: I also made saganaki. Flaming cheese. If you have been to a Greek restaurant and heard someone yell Opa! and flames were around them. That was it. So delicious, and easy to make at home. Skip the brandy or ouzo part and just do lemon juice, much less dangerous. ha



Coconut Flour Snickerdoodles

While at the market picking up my usual bag of full-gluten-no-fiber-just-like-your-grandma's-flour I saw a pretty little bag of organic coconut flour. And while I had zero idea what I would do with it, I figured coconuts are delicious so flour from it has got to be good for something. So I got both bags and sort of forgot about it until I found it hiding in the back of the pantry looking sad, since my reg flour was still very much in the spotlight around here. The kids were sick at home and I needed to get them doing something besides watch tv, so baking with coconut flour was happening. I found this recipe on Goop and had all but one of the ingredients, but it being so healthful all my expectations were pretty low. My other forays into "healthy" baking have not been great. But I have to say, these are AMAZING. Seriously, make them and be wowed and pat yourself on the back with alternative flour greatness. Nothing can replace real flour and butter, but these are a great second place.  

Coconut Flour Snickerdoodles
Makes 14 small cookies

1/2 cup almond butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon flaky salt (use any though if you do not have)
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup coconut sugar (I used regular sugar)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

2. To make the dough, stir together the almond butter, maple syrup, and vanilla extract until smooth. Add the egg and mix to combine. Add the salt, coconut flour, and baking powder and mix well.
3. Combine the coconut sugar and ground cinnamon in a shallow bowl. Roll the dough into 14 equal balls, then coat each cookie in the cinnamon sugar mixture and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
4. Press the cookies down slightly, then pop in the oven and bake for 12 minutes.
5. Cool to room temperature before eating.
Enjoy! xo Erin 


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