Moisturizing Tip

I read a little skincare trick the other day...

Glamour suggests a new take to applying moisturizer: Instead of rubbing it into your skin, pump into palms and gently press your moisturizer into your skin to avoid pulling and tugging - over time, rubbing can cause damage and wrinkles.

I've been trying the press method for a few days, and while my skin doesn't feel any different, I can't help but think about how hard rubbing must be on skin!


Adding Color in a Rental Apartment

After being cold for months, we are itching for spring & all its bright colors and newness.  Bringing in color into your home is such a fun way to spruce up - but for those of us who live in rental residences (our hands go up), something lower-commitment than a fresh coat of hued paint is the way to go.  Try these ideas for some inspiration.

Take a trip to the flea market for the perfect accent piece to paint in a bright, refreshing color, like this unique turquoise end table.  

If you crave a more impactful wall, try removable wallpaper or decals.  This cute polka dot design is a DIY panel project.

Art is always a great go-to, but what about accumulating antique frames and painting them in a similar color palate to make a bigger statement?  Hang to form a gallery wall, or lean against the wall on a ledge or piece of furniture.

A bright, graphic shower curtain can be elevated and sophisticatedly refreshing - like this one in a clean, white bathroom.

If you have white or beige walls, you aren't doomed to boredom - invest in a patterned headboard to make a focal statement in your bedroom.  Don't be afraid to commit to a color that inspires you, like this springy coral. 

Will you bring in more color this spring?  


Get Snappy

A bit of what I've been up to lately - 1. dinner with the girls, 2. making mascapone, tomato, and balsamic pizza with a friend, 3. Valentine's day dinner made by my love, 4. local concert fun with B, 5. a very special girl's first birthday party, and 6. hot chocolate in Chicago.

I spent the weekend hanging out with S & the family.  We had the best time, but now I have Vacation Hangover (which is never fun).  What are you up to this week? 


friday musings

Do you have fun plans for this weekend? The weather is chilling back down in Chicago, but that's okay.  Our family will be together playing hard in the city, which will definitely make up for it!

Need some ideas of how to pass the time this weekend? Try a few of these!

Tell someone you love how you feel.

Try a new restaurant.

Get crafty.

Learn to make a new cocktail and serve it to your friends.

Get to that interior decorating project that has been on your to-do list forever.

Listen to some old school tunes.

Skip the gym.

Now go make yourself that drink :)


Last Minute Valentine's Day DIY

Happy Valentine's Day! Do you have fun plans for the day, whether it is dinner with your sweetheart, a night in with your very best Valentine (yourself!), wine and Titanic, or a crazy night on the town with your most fun single friends? 

In case you are looking for some special ways to show your loved ones how much they mean to you this Valentine's day, here are some Merrimint favorites.  We love these DIY, quick, and super sweet ideas to spread the love.

1.  On a deck of cards, use a sharpie to write a reason why you love your Valentine on each card.
2.  Cut out construction paper hearts and write reasons your Valentine is special on each.  Sprinkle them through your house, car, etc.
3.  Cut out figures, words, or pictures that remind you of your Valentine from magazines and newspapers, and attach them to a poster to put on the door, fridge, prominent wall, etc. for a fun and lighthearted way to show them you are constantly reminded of how great they are.
4.  Heart shaped pancakes :) 
5.  Write fun love notes on a million post-its, and post them in unexpected places (cupboards, inside the car, on the toothpaste...).
6.  Compile a package of low-cost and frivolous heart-themed items: ice molds, heart-shaped measuring cups, romantic phrase linens, chocolate, anything you can find at the dollar store (or the $1 section at Target!).  Pack it in a box full of pink/red tissue and give it- or send it!- to your Valentine.
7.  Create an original crossword puzzle with reasons your Valentine is special.
8.  Wrap red or pink yarn all over your house, starting where your Valentine will find it and ending with a special treat (see #6).
9.  Of course, a punny card will always do the trick.

We hope you enjoy your day and dedicate it to telling those you love that they are wonderful to have in your life.  We are so happy you are here to celebrate with us- will YOU be our Valentine?


Valentine's Playlist

You know we love our playlists... here's one that's getting me into a romantic mood for Valentine's Day.  What are you listening to lately? 


Negroni, Merrimint Style

One of my New Year's Resolutions this year was to learn to make a few key cocktails that I can whip up when people come over.  My goal was to learn a few solid before dinner drinks, or aperitivo in Italian.  These drinks tend to be on the bitter side and not very alcoholic to rev the appetite and prepare your taste for the flavors of dinner.

I decided to make a twist on the classic Negroni to serve for my first aperitivo gatherings in my new apartment.  Here's how...

What you need: Gin, Campari, Sweet Vermouth, orange peel, and sparkling wine (optional)

Pour equal parts of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth into a short old fashioned glass.  I used 1 ounce of each, which yielded the perfect sized cocktail for before dinner.  Stir to combine.

Peel a strip of orange rind, twist over the drink to release aromatic oils.  I like to rub the peel around the rim of the glass as well to make the orange flavor really stand out (don't forget to wash your orange well before peeling it though!).  Add ice, and stir until well combined.

If you like, you can top off the drink with a few ounces of prosecco or sparkling wine- I love how this adds nuanced flavors and a bit of sparkle to the drink!  You can also use Aperol instead of Campari to take the bitterness down a notch, and make it a touch more sweet.

This drink would be the perfect way to start a Valentine's Day dinner with your significant other, family, friends, or even by yourself :) Just add a few heart shaped ice cubes to bring the loveliness of this drink over-the-top!


What was the #1 Song when you were born?

Happy Monday!  In the spirit of the Grammys (and to bring a little fun to your week) - do you know the top song on the day you were born?  Mine was "Black Velvet" - which is one of my favorites to sing along with in the car!  Put in your birthday here to find out!  What's yours? 


Project Apartment: S's Apartment Tour!

Finally! It's only a few months late, but now that I feel settled and (mostly) decorated, I'm ready to share my living space with all of you- and I'm so excited about it.
I just finished this gallery wall yesterday! I love how it incorporates a lot of textures and shapes.  I'm planning on using that white canvas for an art project... It will be shared here of course! 
Do you remember this rug?
I was so lucky to have family in the area who helped me collect items to furnish my new place.  This gorgeous armoire is such a wonderful statement piece in my living area! I don't have a TV right now, so instead I filled it with some books, journals, DVDs, etc. to keep the entertainment concept in place.  And set up two colorful posters to brighten up the dark space. 
I filled the cubbies of this coffee table with tons of books, since I don't have any bookshelves.  It is mostly full of cookbooks, but you can see there are some nerdy academic books in there too.  A healthy mix!  I love how they fill the cubbies almost perfectly, and look almost a little purposefully chaotic with some books stacked vertically while others are horizontal.
A small ledge that was meant for photo display has now become a great inspiration area above my desk.  The votive candles are great for extra ambiance when entertaining.
The hanging candle holders add a nice soft glow when I'm reading or catching up on Hulu.  I like to fill them with beeswax candles from The Foundry for a nice, natural scent.

So there it is! Welcome to my home. I hope you find it as warm and appealing as I do.  Wishing you all a magnificent weekend!


Chicago Restaurant Week

To my fellow Chicagoans- did you know it's Restaurant Week!?
For those of you who don't know, Restaurant Week is a citywide celebration of the culinary expertise and artistic vision of restaurants throughout Chicago.  Over 240 restaurants participate, choosing a prix fixe menu priced at a fixed $22 for lunch of $33/$44 (depending on the restaurant) for dinner.

Last night I was lucky enough to try out Boka, a one michelin star restaurant in Lincoln Park with a fresh perspective on modern cuisine.  The dishes were amazing, atmosphere flawless, and service a totally pleasure.  They even brought us complementary cocktails, since we expressed interest in their bar program!

Take a look at the Boka Restaurant Week Menu...

You had better believe we got that mac and cheese.  There are no words.

If you are in the area, look out for restaurant week specials all over the city! It's an amazing opportunity to try out restaurants while they are in their best form.

*All photos from the Boka website


How To Avoid The Gym

I don't go to the gym.  That's right.  I said it.

It's cold.  And dark.  And snowing.  Why would anyone want to trek to the gym?  Besides, gym memberships add up fast.  Personally, I would rather spend my $50 (or $60... or more...) on projects for the apartment, or a nice dinner out.

I have developed a stash of exercise ideas to keep up my fitness without having to rely on the gym.  Some of these workouts have made a huge impact on my motivation to stay fit during the winter.  I have to say, my strength and flexibility are improving every day! Here are some ways to work out without going to the gym.

1. Run or Walk
I know, it's freezing out, and daylight is minimal.  I avoid going out on the coldest of days, but when it is manageable, I like to bundle up and hit the road for some fresh air and a few miles.  If I can't handle the thought of running in the cold, I put on some extra layers, grab my iPod, and walk around my neighborhood to get some exercise while taking care of my errands.
2. Nike Training Club iPhone App
I can't say enough about this app! My best friend introduced me to it, and I can't thank her enough.  You can choose your type of workout (strength, cardio, core, flexibility), your fitness level, and a workout that fits your time availability.  The app guides you through the workout, complete with motivational phrases occasionally.  I love it! I do at least 3-4 of these workouts each week.  Did I mention it's FREE!? Seriously.  Get this now.

3. Yoga Podcasts
Did you know you can download free yoga podcasts from iTunes? Once they are downloaded, simply play the podcast from your computer, iPod, or phone and follow along on your yoga mat.  My favorite are Dave Farmar's podcasts.  I subscribe so that I automatically get any new episodes.  The podcasts are entertaining and fun, and definitely give you the yoga workout you have been craving.

4. New Student/Member Perks
If you do want to quit being a hermit and venture out into public, most health clubs have new member perks or trial periods.  This goes for yoga and pilates studios too! Plus, you get the chance to try several new studios or health clubs and "shop around" in case you do want to invest in a membership.

5. Lululemon Classes
Did you know most Lululemon stores offer free yoga classes and health groups? My neighborhood store offers 1-2 classes each week, and hosts a running club.  It's a great way to enjoy your community without any cost, and can turn into a great social opportunity too.  Give them a try!


Say It Right: Valentine's Day Cards

I am not a huge Valentine's Day celebration fanatic.  I don't expect flowers or being showered with poetry.  To me, the day serves as a nice small reminder to tell those who are close to you how you feel. I love celebrating the day quietly, making dinner with my significant other and making phone calls to my friends and family.

I have begun a bit of a tradition, though, to remind my beau how I feel and how special he is.  I love giving fun, light hearted cards.  I have used cards from Etsy, and made some by hand too.  The key: a great pun, funny image, or nod to an inside joke, just making sure to keep the card from being too serious.  This keeps the vibe happy and light while giving the right message.

Here are a few cards from Etsy that are perfect for your Valentine:
(Did you know that "media anaranja" in Spanish means "other half"? Isn't this sweet?)

Find them here: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5