Friday, February 28, 2014

Here Comes the Sun

Though it’s probably going to snow all weekend and then turn to ice by Monday, it has been sunnier than usual this week. I truly cannot remember the last time it was sunny three days in one week; it was probably October. To make the sun’s appearance even better, Ravinia released their summer 2014 schedule yesterday and I couldn’t be more excited. To me, Ravinia is the pinnacle of summer activities--hello romantic picnics and wonderful music! Dan and I are going to try and go once a week this summer.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I’ll be finishing up several small projects for the Paytington & Co. launch on Monday and trying my best to maintain a respectable-level of tipsy during the WCBC Oscars Party. Cheers! 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Winter Blues

Dress: Langford Market // Shoes: Jessica Simpson // Necklace: Anthropologie (similar here) // Earrings: Vintage 

I’ve been in the market for a new maxi dress for some time now and found just the one I was waiting for last week at Langford Market on Diversey. I loved the simplicity of the dress and the flattering neckline made it a done deal. Paired with one of my favorite Anthropologie necklaces and red pumps for a pop of color, I decided it’d be the perfect outfit for the WCBC Oscars party this coming Sunday. Even though it’s styled for winter, I have no doubt it’ll be perfect with coral accessories on a chilly, spring evening.  Here’s hoping for spring weather sooner rather than later!

P.S. We are becoming Paytington and Co. on Monday!  

//Photography by Megan//

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How To: Clean Your Wooden Cutting Board

One of my favorite DIY secrets is for cleaning wooden cutting boards and other kitchen tools with a grainy surface. To clean, pour one line of course salt and one line of baking soda across the wooden surface. With a semi-juiced lemon, scrub the wooden board moderately hard, mixing the salt and baking soda with the lemon juice. Once the wooden board is thoroughly covered in the lemon/salt/baking soda mixture, let it rest for at least five minutes before gently rinsing with water and thinly coating with polishing oil. Not only does your cutting board smell better, it is disinfected and ready to use again! This quick and easy DIY project makes me feel better about cutting vegetables the day after we make chicken stir-fry J

P.S. We are becoming Paytington and Co. on Monday!  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What's in a Name?

On Monday, Living’s as Easy as 312 will become Paytington & Co.- a Luxuriously, Ordinary Lifestyle Blog! It’s been 9 months since I started blogging and after discovering how much I loved this creative outlet, I knew I wanted to refine my site and make it an all-encompassing lifestyle resource.

So where did the new name come from? As some of my avid readers know, I have a miniature dachshund named Payton and a boyfriend with a knack for irritating me, out of love (most of the time). To further my irritation, Dan gives Payton a new nickname every afternoon; while some are endearing, others are just plain stupid. A few months ago, one of those nicknames was Paytington, because she was being too much of a princess to go by Payton that day; according to Dan, she needed something a bit more regal. From there, Paytington has been embraced by my family as her pet name, for when she is being especially sweet, and it’s stuck around here as one of our rotating favorites.

To me, Paytington and Company is truly fitting; I am living life surrounded by those I love, including little Paytington, and of course all attention is always awarded to our regal dog, as it should be. In the weeks to come, I will be introducing several new series posts and striving to produce quality, daily content to better the lives of my readers. Look for a brand new layout, updated pages and exciting new content starting Monday! 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Modern Carrie Bradshaw

Modern Carrie Bradshaw
Carrie's Look: Shirt, Skirt, Shoes, Bag, Earrings, Necklace

I got a bit carried away yesterday afternoon; it started with me putting together one outfit and it ended 45 minutes later with a total of 10 outfits and about a hundred items on my summer wish-list. I also saw a startling statistic scroll across my TV this past weekend; the last episode of Sex and the City aired ten years ago! With Paris: Part Deux in mind, I created a Carrie Bradshaw-inspired look that I would love to own; the gorgeous skirt I found makes me want to look like Carrie every day and after I was so successful with my Carrie look, I decided to make outfits for the other SATC girls. If I were to go to a happy hour, or on a vacation, with Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha, what would they wear? Better yet, what would they wear that I would wear, too? Here is what I came up with. Which girl’s look would you be most likely to wear? 

Modern Charlotte
Charlotte's Look: Blazer, Dress, Shoes, Clutch, Earrings, Necklace 

Modern Miranda
Miranda's Look: Top, Jeans, Shoes, Tote, Earrings

Modern Samantha
Samantha's Look: Swim Suit, Hat, Sunglasses, Shoes

Friday, February 21, 2014


I think I speak for everyone in the Midwest when I say, “YAYYYYY it was FINALLY above freezing this week!” Wednesday brought about temps in the mid-forties and I truly thought it was summertime. This weekend I will be working hard on finalizing several portions of the NEW site, Paytington & Co., and hopefully squeezing in a trip to Bistrot Zinc for my favorite sandwich. Have a great weekend! 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Taco Joint

Yesterday evening I had the pleasure of attending the Windy City Blogger Collective’s shopping event with Langford Market, but before I got there, I made a much needed stop at Taco Joint’s flagship location. Without knowing my cab would lead me astray by 2.0 miles, I planned on grabbing a drink and a snack once I got to the event, however, once I realized my cabbie had no hope of driving me to my desired location, I got out of the cab and immediately spotted Taco Joint. Praise heaven…seriously, I needed a taco.

Dan and I discovered Taco Joint about two years ago; it was right when we were beginning our search for the perfect apartment. I was still in college and whenever I made a trip home, we would make a pilgrimage to Lincoln Park to continue looking at all the of the homes only 40-year olds could obtain (sorry, but not really). After spending three hours both in the car and on foot I started to get hangry (hungry + angry = hangry). Furiously looking through yelp, we found a Mexican restaurant with outstanding ratings and decided to pull over so I’d stop screaming at random cars and pedestrians. At first, we thought we had the wrong address because the entrance to Taco Joint two years ago was not quite as nice and hospitable as it is now. Upon entering, I fell in love with the décor, the ambiance and the food; to this day, I don’t think I’ve found a better taco in Chicago.

So, without saying too much more about my long and happy love affair with Taco Joint, I was SO happy to see it after my cab ride from hell; luckily, I arrived at 5 p.m. on a Wednesday and had no problem taking a seat at the bar. Without hesitation I ordered a Zocalo Margarita, an Al Pastor taco and an Estilo Baja taco (all pictured). As per usual, everything from the bar and the kitchen was impeccable; I’ve never had anything but fabulous experiences at Taco Joint. Every time I go, I vow I will try something new, but I end up getting the same thing--though slightly larger portions as I typically don’t go to professional functions afterwards. After a wonderful conversation with the general manager, I am determined to host a function at either beloved Taco Joint location—possibly for my re-launch party? Yesssss.

Thank you for the fabulous fare and I can’t wait to come enjoy your food again; honestly, I could come every day and never get sick of the Al Pastor taco. To both visitors and natives, Taco Joint is a must visit in my book.

{The Zocalo Margarita: El Jimador Tequila Blanco, triple sec, lime salt rim}

{Al Pastor Taco: Grilled chicken breast, pineapple pico, tangy tomatillo salsa}

{Estilo Baja Taco: Beer battered tilapia, creamy-arbol cabbage slaw}

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wine of the Week: 7 Deadly Zins

{Probably the coolest wine photo ever taken; I'd re-create it, but I don't want to clean up the mess}

Let’s be honest, I know you were all just counting the days until I posted about wine again. With the recent health kick, redesign updates and all the traveling, I’ve been a bit pre-occupied, but fear not; my love of wine is still ever-present! After reading Kit’s review of Grifone Sangiovese, I went to Trader Joe’s, bought a bottle and confirmed that it was delicious and completely worthy of adding to my list of inexpensive, go-to wines. Kit was also kind enough to introduce me to Alison, of, who invited me to participate in this fabulous series. I needed another excuse to drink wine like I need a hole in my head, but I was thrilled to have one (an excuse)!

While I was in college, my mom introduced me to Michael David Winery’s 7 Deadly Zins, a medium-bodied Zinfandel with hints of raspberry jam and spice. I feel like Zinfandel’s are typically too sweet for me, often tasting like liquid jelly, but this blend is absolutely delicious. Awarded 88 points by Robert Parker in late 2013, this wine is aging well and goes with just about anything. I’ve always been a fan of drinking what you like no matter what you are eating, but traditionally, Zinfandels shine with substantial pastas and red meats; we chose to make a chimmichurri marinated flank steak--recipe coming soon-- to pair with the bottle! The herbs and garlic in the chimmichurri paired SO well with the spices in the wine. I've been able to find this wine in several locations, but I typically pick it up at Mariano's for $16.00. 

Do you have any go-to wines? I'd love to hear! Dan and I are always up for trying something new, especially when it's wine-related. If you enjoyed this #WineoftheWeek post, check out Alison's pick here! I'm linking up with SassyMomsintheCity for #WineoftheWeek. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Career Move

{image via}

The moment I decided to start actively pursuing my career, I became a much happier person. Granted, along the way, I have faced a GREAT deal of personal and professional disappointment, but I am stronger for it and more prepared for life having faced said disappointment. It’s been almost a year since I left my traditional day job and I have to say it’s been one of the best years of my life. I learned so much about how I want to live, how I want to work, and there have been a lot of lessons on what not to do in the future, too.

One of the biggest adjustments in starting over and turning a new leaf was what to do with my time. If you flip your life from one traditional job to another traditional 9-5 job, this next paragraph doesn’t so much apply to you; however, I decided to abandon the traditional 8-5 job for a schedule of my own. The first couple of weeks, my butt made a nice, relaxing indent on my couch, but then it got scary. After 16 years of full-time school and another year of waking up and spending a full day at an office with a bracketed 3 hour commute, I had NO idea how to use free time. None. After I finished a bit of research at my alma mater and studied for the dental admissions test, I had that “oh shit, now what” moment. My whole life has been one giant planner and now, I had NOTHING. The worst thing I could have done was continue to sit on the couch, or apply for another job that made me cranky and miserable. I think I speak for everyone who knows me well when I say, “I am a cold-hearted bitch when I am stressed out and nothing you say or do will pull me from my funk unless I want to be pulled from my funk.” I didn’t want to be that person anymore.

When I started this blog, it was a temporary distraction; I never thought I’d write for more than a month and I NEVER thought I would meet some of my current friends via writing about mustard in my fridge (that actually happened). The doors blogging has opened for me are doors I didn’t expect to exist and I have to say, above everything else, the tight-knit community has made it so much easier for me to take personal and professional disappointment, ex: deferring my dental school applications another year. When I found out about the transcript error I don’t think I spoke for at least five hours and I am quite sure there is no way I could ever replicate my horrified expression. Instead of talk to anyone, I threw myself into writing a post and working on my site redesign, knowing full well I would be calmer and more rational when I reasoned through “the next step.” Once I did, I realized I had all of the work completed and the sense to make sure I physically watch someone submit my transcript next time.

So, what now? Well, in addition to resubmitting my application and definitely gaining acceptance by December 1st, 2014, I am embarking on several amazing business partnerships. My site will be re-launching Monday, March 3rd, 2014 with several new features and weekly segments (there have been a few Easter eggs hidden in social media about new content). We, at Cinq Chicago, are planning the next event, details coming soon, and I am also relieving some pent up stress by processing my Spinning re-certification + training a couple of people each week (super great timing: hello Mexican beach body)! Busy, yes; happy, definitely. I’m hoping to carry my scheduling, work/life balance and peppy, can-do attitude (cheesy, check.) over into my private practice life down the road; I don’t ever want to be the cold-hearted bitch again. I don’t want to be miserable getting up in the morning and I don’t want to dread my job. There are elements of stress in anything and I could find one million things about my current situation to complain about if I wanted to (and sometimes I do), but after all the stress, I’m done beating myself up.

So much can happen in a year’s time. One year from now, I’ll be granted admission into my top choice school, one of my best friends will be married and another one will be almost there, I’ll have been on a Mexican vacation, and who knows, maybe my new site will open even more opportunities for me; if not, it’s the best journal I’ve ever kept. I feel as though there is so much pressure to immediately develop a successful career and sometimes (read: most of the time) I feel like that should be me. I should already have all my shit together and I should already be an oral surgeon. Um, hello, that’s impossible I’m 23, but it’s how I feel. On a rare day when I have above average self-esteem, I look at who I was five years ago and who I am today. It’s such a staggering difference and even though I’m not aware of day-to-day changes, they are happening. Five years from now, I’ll probably have my general dental practitioners license and what a difference that will be. I am writing this now to remind myself I am young and I don’t need to have it all figured out, but I’m also writing this for others who feel this way. It doesn’t matter how old you are, disappointment is awful and any career move is scary. Starting over at 50 is just as scary as beginning at 23, if not more, but it’s do-able. I believe, more now than ever before, everything happens for a reason—career moves or otherwise. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

9 Statement Necklaces to Liven Up Your Winter Wardrobe

After hearing it will be 40 degrees this coming week, I found a bit of spring in my step; a longing to try a bit harder and look a bit more polished will hopefully bring the better weather, or at least bring me a better mood. While I know I can't completely ditch the sweaters yet, stepping outside without my North Face parka will be a welcome change. Here are 9 statement necklaces to help bridge the gap between your over-used, winter sweater collection and spring-appropriate blouses.  

Friday, February 14, 2014

Romantic French 75

After Cinq Chicago’s Speakeasy event, I fell in love with the French 75 cocktail. Now, if I can’t have a straight glass of wine, I undoubtedly ask the bartender for a French 75 next. To make things a bit more fun this afternoon, I decided to create a Romantic French 75 I could enjoy with one of my girlfriends before a late lunch. If there is any left, you can have some too, Dan J. To make this cocktail romantic, I used a sparkling rosé instead of a traditional bottle of sparkling wine, giving the cocktail its perfect shade of pink. Recipe makes about 8 cocktails

1 bottle sparkling rosé
Juice of 2 lemons
8 oz. good gin
Sanding sugar--for rim of glass
(Recipe makes about 8 cocktails)


Friday Five

{Sabrina 1954}

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you have a wonderful day filled with love. Whether you are celebrating with a romantic dinner, flowers, a girls’ night out or simply relaxing alone, make sure to share this day with loved ones and do something special for yourself. This afternoon, I will be sharing a last minute Valentine’s Day cocktail, but because it’s 9am, here are five of my favorite romantic movies. 

{ Bridget Jones's Diary 2001 image via }

{ Crazy, Stupid, Love 2011 }

{ Pride and Prejudice 2005 }

{ You've Got Mail 1998 }

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ghiradelli Chocolate Chip Cookies

We all need a little something sweet on Valentine’s Day. Given my love for chocolate, I decided to splurge and make a double batch of chocolate chip cookies using my favorite chocolate chips, Ghiradelli’s semi-sweet morsels. When I was little and in charge of babysitting my sister, we would often make chocolate chip cookies and eat half the dough, get full/sick, and leave the rest of the dough in the fridge for my mom. Oops, sorry. I still haven’t lost the urge to eat the cookie dough and I doubt I ever will, but I did manage to get about 6 dozen cookies despite my constant sampling during the baking process. I followed the cookie recipe on the back of the Ghiradelli chocolate chips, but added a touch more vanilla and a couple drops of almond extract to give it an extra, savory punch. My hope was to save them for Valentine’s Day, but they are almost gone, leaving me with no choice but to make another delicious, chocolate dessert by Friday. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The League

Let’s be honest here, I’m tired and I’m cold. I had several posts in mind for today, but those are going to have to hold off because I’m tired and cold and frankly not in the mood to make them look acceptable. Today, I am sharing a second TV workout because, let’s face it, that’s what I will be doing today. This one is geared towards both men and women, fun fact: it’s become one of my new favorite shows. So, grab a beer, click the post, print the post out, do THE LEAGUE workout. I understand the beer (or glass of wine) is counter-intuitive, but just go with it because you are tired and cold, too. Girls, if you are in the mood to be really girly, do the FRIENDS workout instead. I, however, will be watching The League and laughing about Mr. McGibblets all afternoon. Cheers!

P.S. Readers, I was serious when I said I’d give you a bottle of wine if you guessed the name of my new site. Whoever comes closest wins. Wine isn't your thing? Ok, you win an Arrogant Bastard Ale. 

Warm up with jumping jacks from the beginning scene through the League intro/logo

Every time Andre wears a hat                                                         10 push-ups
Every time Andre is made fun of                                                           10 squats
Every time Kevin has to Yobogoya                                                20 high knees
Every time you see Mr. McGibblets                                                    10 burpees
Every time Taco has a business plan/new hobby                      30 second plank
Every time Taco is with a girl                                            20 mountain climbers
Every time they are at Gibson’s                                                    10 jump squats
Every time Ruxin talks about his hot wife                                            10 lunges
Every time Shiva is mentioned                                                        30 ice skaters
Every time Rafi does something crazy                     20 tricep dips using counch
Every time Jenny gets competitive                                               10 sumo squats
Every time there is a college flashback                                     10 jumping jacks
Every time you see an NFL player guest star                                  10 push-ups

Monday, February 10, 2014

Bee My Valentine

I haven’t given out Valentine’s Day cards since elementary school, but this year I decided to use my giant box of ribbon and puffy paint from college to create small, youthful Valentines while I watched the Olympics. I am always a huge fan of hand-written stationery, whatever the season, but with the cold weather and my renewed craftiness, ribbon and glue gun temptation trumped classic cards this time. There is something so refreshing about a cheesy card; maybe it’s the memories it brings back about saving your favorite Disney valentines for your third grade crushes or the impending sugar high after you ate your weight in candy hearts, but it feels like a seemingly silly card has substantially boosted my mood this afternoon. I’d love to know, what are you doing for your loved ones on Valentine’s Day? P.S. All entries for the wine giveaway must be made in the comments section here. 

Note: I've printed the small cards and glued Burt's Bees Chapstick to each; you could also attach the card to a jar of artisanal honey! Honestly, the cheesier, the better. 

P.S. All entries for the wine giveaway must be made in the comments section here

Friday, February 7, 2014

Finally: FRIENDS Workout and Site Redesign Updates

 Happy Friday! I hope you have all had a fabulous week and have stayed out of the cold weather. I must say, coming home to below-zero weather after spending a weekend where it was a marvelous 60 degrees is quite heart-wrenching. Every time I go outside I am secretly hoping I’ll be pleasantly surprised, no such luck so far. As I divulged earlier this week, this month will be dedicated to getting out of the winter slump and into the spring/summer state of mind (and body); I’m pleased to report I tried my first spaghetti squash last night and it was infinitely better than I thought it would be, though it’s still not pasta.

In college, I became a FRIENDS junkie; I came home with all ten seasons and have watched each episode at least a dozen times. Excessive? Definitely. Since the weather doesn’t allow us to enjoy being outside, I am wasting away in front of the television most weekends and I absolutely participate in binge-watching; I’m not ashamed. However, because I’ve vowed to become more active this month, I created my own version of the FRIENDS workout game. Since it is almost impossible to just watch one episode (I mean, let’s be honest, I watch 4 or 5), I am going to aim to do this workout 1/5 episodes. For those of you that try the FRIENDS workout, let me know how it goes!

Because I promised to share a few redesign updates, here they are: this site will be undergoing a major, major redesign launching March 3rd. Though the current blog title will remain under my copyright, it will appear as a segment to make way for my site’s new name. The layout, logo, color scheme and overall aesthetic will be undergoing changes, too. To build anticipation and make it a fun turn around, I will be gifting a bottle of wine to the reader who comes closest to guessing my site’s new name. All guesses must be left in the comment section. A winner will be chosen Friday, February 28th and announced Monday, March 3rd with the redesign. Those of you with insight, you can’t play. Sorry J

Thursday, February 6, 2014


This past weekend, two of my best girlfriends met me in Nashville for a nice, long-awaited getaway. Funnily enough, I was randomly seated next to one of them on my flight from Chicago to Nashville; I hadn’t seen her in two years and it was such a wonderful surprise. Luckily, we all arrived in Nashville around the same time and were able to share a taxi to the hotel, which was so beautiful. We stayed at the Hermitage Hotel, conveniently located near shopping, honky tonks and several restaurants. Naturally, the first thing we did was eat at Puckett’s: so amazing; traditional southern food mixed with three hungry girls resulted in no talking for at least five minutes while we shoveled, yes shoveled, in the BBQ.

Over the course of two days, we managed to do our fair share of sight-seeing. Some of the highlights included: The Stage, Etch (ginger grits were the favorite), The Impeccable Pig, Fire FinchLucchese and two memorable stops at Nashville Cowboy. After eating Southern-style for 5-6 straight meals, we decided to have sushi for dinner our last night; it was well received after literally eating grits and burgers for 36 hours straight, no lie. I wish the weekend hadn’t gone by so quickly, but I know it won’t be long before I see either of them again. Love you both!