Reminiscing on 2019

I’ve spent the last 8 days at home relaxing and it’s given me a lot of time to look back on the last 12 months of my life. 2019 holds one of the happiest days of my life (our 10/24 engagement!), but even aside from the engagement bliss, I’ve loved everything about this year. 

In 2019 I’ve felt more balanced with life and work than I ever have before ~ and I believe that has SO MUCH to do with your overall happiness. I ended 2018 and started 2019 with a pretty big reality check that I couldn’t keep living life at 100 mph. Long story short (but if you want the long story, read about it here) I realized that no amount of success or achievement can truly make you happy. A healthy balance is the key (like most things in life), but the hard part is finding that balance. 

That reality check set me up for one of the best years I’ve ever had. This year I learned there’s no point in working your butt off if you’re aren’t able to take a step back from it all and enjoy the life you’ve made for yourself every once in a while. Life will pass you by pretty quickly if you don’t take the time to admire it as often as possible. 

I did some reflecting on the last year and read through everything I wrote about on my blog this year. I NEVER go back and read old blog posts, so this was a fun trip down memory. I rounded up some of my most read and most important posts from the year (in my opinion) and wanted to share them here.

1. I moved to New York towards the end of 2018, and then official moved out of my Chicago apartment in the middle of 2019. I loved every minute of making this little nest in the clouds feel like a home:

2. Then, spent the rest of the year organized every inch of it:

3. I started eating much healthier:

4. I really slowed down & took a step back. I started going to bed earlier and stopped working like a crazy person until 1 AM:

5. I focused on my mental health:

6. And my faith:

7. Fell in love with NYC. Really experienced NYC & marked 1 year any:

8. Traveled to Italy for the first time & took an awesome trip to Turks & Caicos with my work wife:

9. I got engaged to the love of my life! 

I’m so thankful for each experience, person, and lesson this year brought me. I’ve loved reading every message you guys have sent my way, even if I can’t respond to every single one. I love your feedback and sharing these moments with you. And even though a lot of us have never met, you all feel like close friends 🙂 

I spent a lot of time with my family and made a point to get on the phone with long distance friends as often as I could. Con and I cooked a lot at home this year which I personally thing created so much more balance (and saved money!). I had the chance to partner with so many of the brands I love and help share their mission with the world. Sometimes life is bitter and sometimes it’s sweet, but this one was a sweet one for sure. I can’t wait to spend 2020 planning our wedding day and officially becoming a wife in September. Life is good!

A few other most-read posts from 2019:

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The Custom Gift Your Man Will Love

A couple weeks ago I flew Alicia to New York to do our engagement pictures. Even though she and I have done hundreds of photoshoots together, we both admitted we were a little nervous for these 😅 These photos mark the start of the rest of me & Conner’s life together and I know they’re something we’ll hold on to forever! After some outfit planning, location scouting, and a few mimosas ~ Con, Leash, and I headed out to shoot around the city.

I wanted to do a mix of both casual and formal shots, but definitely knew I wanted a round with Con in a tux because well… 😍

The timing couldn’t have been more ideal when BALANI Custom Clothiers reached out about working together to make Conner a custom tux. He was fitted for this midnight blue tux just in time for our shoots. Balani was founded in Chicago, where they began by serving a small group of dedicated clients. 14 cities and 56 years later, they’ve successfully established themselves as one of the top tailors in the world. Con’s has always had a great eye for style and is super particular about finding pieces that are well suited for his height and build, so I knew he’d love this custom experience.

We met with Brandon, Balani’s NYC custom clothier, to design the details. Conner knew he wanted a midnight blue colored tux with black details, but wasn’t sure about style or fabric options. Brandon guided us through the entire process ~ helping to select the interior, exterior, and every little personalized detail. It was so fun picking out the fabric colors together. BALANI customized the inside of the jacket with Conner A. Hempel and even monogrammed his initials onto the cuffs of his custom-made shirts.

The BALANI team began designing that day, and a few weeks later we went in for a fitting to see the finished product. It fit like a glove and he looked so handsome! The midnight blue fabric we chose looked amazing against the black lapels. It’s amazing how much of a difference a custom piece makes. Not only did it look awesome, but I could tell he felt so comfortable in it.

The Details

The Tuxedo: A one-button, wool and silk blend fabric in midnight blue, with black satin peak lapels.

The Shoes: Magnanni ~ carried by BALANI

The Cufflinks: sterling silver knots by BALANI

My dress: Mac Duggal Tiered Gown

Think your boyfriend/husband would love his own custom suit? I’m partnering with BALANI to offer $250 off your first suit purchase when you book an appointment ~ just mention code: OLIVIA [offer expires 1/30/2020].

Thank you to Balani Custom Clothiers for partnering with me on this post!

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NYE Party Dresses

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New Years Eve has always been one of my favorite holidays to dress up for. There are only so many nights a year that call for a dress code of full on glitter and glam. Which isn’t to say I won’t show up to a random Tuesday night dinner in a sequin mini, but it’s nice to know that for at least one night I’m not the only one going full on #extra 😂If you’re anything like me, it’s usually not until after the Christmas presents have been opened that the thought of a NYE outfit crosses my mind. This year I’m trying to save myself from the last minute panic by getting a head start on my New Years look now. Bloomingdale’s is always one of my go-tos when I’m looking for the perfect dress or outfit for a big night out. I love that I can find everything from a fun cocktail dress to a formal gown in the same place. Below I’ve linked some of my favorite finds for whatever your New Years Eve plans include. I’m wearing a gorgeous Aidan Mattox gown in navy would be perfect for a formal New Years Eve wedding or gala, I think it’s so classy! Here are some of my other favorite formal options:

If you’re going for more of the party route, a fun cocktail dress or jumpsuit are great options. Here are some of my favorite party-ready looks:

Thank you to Bloomingdales for partnering with me on this post! 

Another bonus to shopping early is getting to take advantage of the Christmas sales 🙌🏼From now until the 24th Bloomingdales is having their Holiday sale, which gets you 15% off of  your purchase, (all customers, no matter how you pay). Loyallists take 20% off a $300+ purchase (Loyallists only with spend threshold), and 25% off a $300+ spend when was using a Bloomingdale’s Credit Card (BCC with spend threshold). 

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