Monday, January 2, 2017

A lovely day at the skating rink and the cutest Kate Spade earmuffs

Happy New Year, everyone! I'm planning to post more recaps and goals later on this week, but I just couldn't hold back with sharing the photos we captured on our last trip to the skating rink AND the adorable earmuffs that I wore that day.

One of the gifts my mom brought me for Christmas was these Kate Spade earmuffs, scarf, and gloves. The scarf and gloves are darling (seriously, the gloves have a little rhinestone ring on one of the fingers), but the earmuffs truly take the cake.

It is no secret that I love hairbows, but sometimes it just isn't appropriate to wear a bow in your hair at all times. These earmuffs are the perfect way for me to incorporate a bow into any winter look!

Sometimes, winter fashion can feel a little blah. That's why I think it is important to incorporate some winter wear pieces that keep you warm AND make you feel like a million bucks!

PS - You can find a very similar Kate Spade style here or the exact style here.

Chris has become quite the little photographer. He stops me as we are skating and goes, "Let's get some close up shots of the earmuffs for the blog!" I just about died. I mean talk about swoon! Ladies - do not settle for a man that doesn't support your blog!

I've talked on Instagram before about how much I love the Chicago skating rinks. They are the perfect winter activity, and if you bring your own skates - it is free! We can walk, Uber, or take the train to any of the rinks around the city and pop right on. Ice skating, wherever you are, is such a fun and endearing winter date.

Do you have any winter wear that makes you feel fabulous? Tell me about it in the comments!

Friday, December 30, 2016

The stories we all talked about in 2016

How does one even begin to describe 2016. The world definitely got shaken up a little, or a lot. Lets take some time to take a walk down (recent) memory lane and recap the events and themes that gripped 2016. Shall we?

Before we begin, I always add that these are the events that stood out to me. I'm an American who consumes primarily American news. I'm sure there are stories you'd add or even remove if this were your list. Let's talk about those in the comments below! Until then, please reflect with me on the biggest stories of 2016. 

My 2016 in a nutshell - Parts 3 and 4

I already covered parts 1 and 2 on the blog. Parts 3 and 4 feel so recent. The second half of 2016 flew! I started my 2nd year of teaching (score)! And boy, everything feels so much easier this time around. I enjoyed the best teacher summer anyone could ask for by taking a road trip across the country and spending tons of time at the lake (score)! Finally, Chris and I spent our first Christmas together with our own tree and everything (score)!

Below is a month by month break down, illustrated by Instagram.


July was my first full month off of school, but it didn't slow down any. We moved from Hyde Park to Streeterville and took a massive road trip across the country.

We started July at our buddy's lake house. What a perfect place to spend 4th of July!

A photo posted by Heather Otto (@xoheatherotto) on

Long story short, we embarked on an impromptu road trip after 4th of July weekend. That road trip took us from Chicago to Posey Lake to Ohio to DC to Philadelphia to Hershey to Pittsburg to Ann Arbor back to Chicago. To top it off, we had just moved into our apartment before we left and came home to an unpacked apartment. Phew!

A photo posted by Heather Otto (@xoheatherotto) on

A photo posted by Heather Otto (@xoheatherotto) on

A photo posted by Heather Otto (@xoheatherotto) on


August was the most summery summer I could have asked for. I loved almost every minute of this month.

I went to Lollapalooza. It was awesome.

A photo posted by Heather Otto (@xoheatherotto) on

We spent a ton of time at the beach. Our new apartment is only a 15 minute walk away from one of the most gorgeous coasts on Lake Michigan. And no trip to the beach is complete without a paleta.

A photo posted by Heather Otto (@xoheatherotto) on

We got a little obsessed with the Chicago summer concert and movie series. The Chicago Parks District plays movies and hosts concerts at Millennium Park all summer long. We made it a tradition to stop at the grocery store to grab tapas and wine before settling in on our blanket.

Lastly, we got the opportunity to go out on Lake Michigan with a friend on his boat. It was extraordinary.

A photo posted by Heather Otto (@xoheatherotto) on


School started back up again which pretty much took over my life. We start the year with a trip called "Freshman Strong Start" where we take all 180 freshman camping for 3 days. It is as exhausting as it sounds and essentially takes me the entire month to recover. Teaching my new self contained classes was totally nerve wracking and kept me busy from before sun rise until my eyes shut at night.

To commemorate the last weekend of our summers, the girls and I rented a pontoon boat to take out on the Chicago river. We decided to be nice and let the boys come along. :)

A photo posted by Heather Otto (@xoheatherotto) on


By October, I was starting to get the hang of my new classes. We took a trip back to Ohio State for my 2nd Homecoming as an alumni. Bringing my best friend to my alma mater was such a treat.

Chris really hit it off with my best friends here. Clearly, it makes me prettyyy happy.

A photo posted by Heather Otto (@xoheatherotto) on


The Cubs win the World Series! I spent Thanksgiving with Chris's extended family for the first time instead of spending it with my own family. It felt surprisingly natural and was a really awesome weekend.


Thank December really went by quickly because I spent the time counting down the days until Christmas break. Chris and I got our own tree and decorated it together. Both of our parents came here for Christmas which was a little stressful but great. We went ice skating and did all the Christmas activities we could think of.

A photo posted by Heather Otto (@xoheatherotto) on

A photo posted by Heather Otto (@xoheatherotto) on

And here we are, ready to start 2017. Stay tuned for 2016 in numbers as well as goals for 2017! What was your favorite memory of 2016? Did you share it on Instagram? Tell me your favorite memory below and pick an Instagram to illustrate it in the comments below.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

My 2016 in a nutshell - Parts 1 and 2

What a year! 2016 has been a whirlwind to say the least. Though 2016 wasn't so kind to us politically and culturally, it is still important to reflect on your own personal accomplishments, landmarks, and growth throughout the year. So what happened in the winter and spring of 2016? Well, I finished my first year of teaching (score)! Chris moved to Chicago, and we moved in together (score)! My friendships here blossomed (score)!

Below is a month by month breakdown for the first 6 months of 2016.


I started off the year in the best way possible - with a trip to Disney World! I had never been, and Chris surprised me with a trip for Christmas. Disney World was just as magical (if not more magical) than everyone said it would be. Now, I can't stop thinking about when I can return!

A photo posted by Heather Otto (@xoheatherotto) on

A photo posted by Heather Otto (@xoheatherotto) on

A photo posted by Heather Otto (@xoheatherotto) on


I've never been one to put pressure on Valentine's Day, but Chris really made this one special. I love picnics, but February in the Midwest isn't a great time for a picnic. Chris arranged to have a gorgeous little picnic in the Franklin Park Conservatory so that I could enjoy an "outdoor" picnic in the winter. Swoon!

I also got really into boutique fitness studios in February of 2016. Classpass essentially changed my life, and now I can't go a week without hitting up a fitness class.

A photo posted by Heather Otto (@xoheatherotto) on


To me, March is one of the toughest months. It is right before teacher spring break and right after the high of the holidays. Plus, it is still frigid in the Midwest! The best thing about this month is that I had tons of friends visiting me and my friendships here in the city really blossomed.

A photo posted by Heather Otto (@xoheatherotto) on


Spring is here! But... Chicago spring doesn't always feel like spring. I'm finally getting antsy for my first year of teaching to wrap up, but there are still 3 months to go. This month was a true hodge podge of all sorts of things.

We spent a little bit too much time at this country bar...

A photo posted by Heather Otto (@xoheatherotto) on

I made a cooler! This puppy was the product of my blood, sweat, and tears. Yes, all 3 of those things were truly involved.

Finally, teacher spring break arrived! I spent an entire week in Columbus and attended Chris's last fraternity date function.

A photo posted by Heather Otto (@xoheatherotto) on


The weather in Chicago finally got nice! We got pretty into bike rides... Of course we never got tired halfway, docked the bites, got a drink, then got an Uber home. No, of course we never would do that. And by never,  I mean frequently. We frequently did that.

A photo posted by Heather Otto (@xoheatherotto) on

Chris moved to Chicago! Shortly after, he suggested we take "a quick 30 minute ride." Well, that ride wasn't a quick 30 minute ride at all. It ended up being 20 miles. I was sure that I was going to die.

A photo posted by Heather Otto (@xoheatherotto) on

The expiration date on our LDR (long distance relationship) was even sweeter than I imagined. We also started apartment searching for our first place together! We took this picture the day that we took a walk through of the place that we finally got to call our own.

A photo posted by Heather Otto (@xoheatherotto) on


And just like that, I made it through my first year of teaching. Teaching is the craziest whirlwind - deeply personal, totally exhausting, utterly rewarding. Teacher summers are so deserved, and my best friend and I wanted to start ours with a bang! We said bye bye to the kiddos on the last day, left the building with our suitcases, and boarded a plan to Vegas!

A photo posted by Heather Otto (@xoheatherotto) on

What was your favorite month of 2016? Share your personal biggest accomplishment or favorite memory below!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The 5 brands that you should be supporting RIGHT NOW

As I grow older, I find it more important to truly put my money where my mouth (or heart) is and support brands that align with my values. Let's be honest, I love "supporting brands" AKA "shopping," so having the opportunity to purchase something that I truly want and engage with a brand that I support is one of my favorite things. Just the other day, I literally said to Chris - "I love them. I'll give them money any day!" By carefully selecting the brands that we support, we truly can have a measurable impact on the world around us.

So what are the brands that I support? Below are my top 5.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Favorite lines from Walt Disney World Park Attractions

Walt Disney World is truly something else. The way that attractions, people, and environment can actually bring you into a fairy tale is awe inspiring. I've only been the parks once, but after visiting, I've done research into the backstories of the rides and other "Disneyisms" that exist in the park world. Part of what makes the attractions so magical is the immersive nature of the experience - from the story, the music, to the dialogue or script. Something that has stood out to me as of late is the script. What a job it must be to craft the words that hundreds of thousands of people will hear over time at the parks!

Here are some of my favorite lines from the attractions:

Monday, November 14, 2016

Monday updates + a cute new jacket

Happy Monday, everyone! 

I have to be honest, today was a rough day. I went to bed WAY too late and hardly got any sleep. Plus, there were several stressful incidents at our school today. The good news? I made it. Life is sort of uninteresting in that way. No matter how your day goes - the ending is the same. It ends. To me, that is so comforting. Your bad day won't go on forever. Just keep your chin up and some light will come. 

Now that I have that off my chest, I can focus on the good stuff. I booked it out of school early and made it home before traffic! AND I got to put on this new, adorable coat as I left the building. I stopped by Nordstrom Rack over the weekend and found this lone coat sitting on a hanger. I searched the store to compare sizes, but only found this one. I decided it was meant to be! Chris is a reluctant photographer, but he almost always obliges. We were grilling vegetables on our apartment sundeck which is my favorite spot to grab a few quick pics. 

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