Happy New Year, Friends! I hope you had a wonderful night. We celebrated at our neighbors’ house like we do every year, and it was low-key, easy and lovely. :)
Today, though, I wanted to share some highlights from 2018, because it was a great year. Warning: This is a LONG post. 😉 But I loved looking back on everything; it was a nice reminder of how blessed our little family is… and how much love is in our lives. And, of course, how lucky we are to have you. Thank you for following along with us! We’re unbelievably grateful for your friendship, guidance, kindness and support.
So without further ado, here’s the “Best of 2018.” ☺️
I got the most wear out of this outfit last winter. SUCH a winner. The pieces remain staples in my wardrobe, and they definitely hold up. I can’t believe that the bow sweater is still in stock! Wish I had it in all the colors. ;)
Mitch and I struggled through last winter here in Chicago. It was a horribly cold and long one, and it was also our first with a toddler. SO TOUGH. Our house is really small, and we got cabin fever almost immediately… so we invested a ton of time into researching fun family-friendly winter activities. These are our favorites! (If you’re planning on visiting the city this winter with your kids, this is a great reference!)
This is everything else we did in order to survive. Re-reading it is scaring me, haha. I can’t believe we have five more months of this. 🙈 But we always make it through!
I know that most people jump into the new year full of motivation and lofty goals, but I wasn’t in a great place last year. We were four months into full-time entrepreneurship, and while I was sure we’d made the right decision, I was overwhelmed and frustrated by how long it was taking to fix the giant mess I’d created in years past when I was strapped for time. We had to essentially start from scratch and set up functioning systems and procedures: all that fun, behind-the-scenes stuff that no one sees but you. (Everything from file storage and accounting to site maintenance and record keeping. Boo.)
One year later, I’m insanely proud of our “cleanup job.” It took so long, but my business runs so much more smoothly now, and a ton of stress has been removed from my shoulders because of that. :) SO. WORTH. IT.
Anyway, this blog post came about from that journey, and was really just my way of saying, “I want to give up but I also don’t want to give up, and someone help me through this funk!”
Here are some other winter pieces that have been with me for years. I couldn’t live without ’em! I also loved taking these photos; they were taken during a little play session with Noodle during snowstorm.
Okay, wait. THIS might be my most-worn outfit of the winter, sans the pumps, which I only wore when I was Ubering from place to place. ;) Good god; that sweater. Wore it at least three times per week!
I’ve slowly started returning to and relying on preppy basics. These are some faves the should be in every preppy girl’s wardrobe. :)
I haven’t done in for the past few weeks due to holiday insanity, but I really stuck to my Recent Finds shopping series. I love writing it every week; it’s so much fun to “shop” and share!
Mitch wrote this Valentine’s Day post for Emma and me and it was the cutest.
We took a trip to Naples, Florida with my parents and I loved every minute of it. Because of this experience, Mitch and I decided that as long as we live in Chicago, we’re going to rearrange funds and budget for a warm-weather trip during the winter every couple of months. I couldn’t believe what a huge impact it had on our dispositions! Sun and warmth are so good for the soul…
We fully dedicated ourselves to finishing our home renovation with Kira, one of our best friends and undoubtedly Chicago’s most talented designer. Our last four projects were the kitchen, the guest bathroom, the baby gate in the living room, and the guest room/office. (Scroll down to see ’em all, except the guest room/office, which I STILL haven’t photographed, haha. (Coming soon?) We can’t thank Kira enough!
Here it is. Like, WHAT? I couldn’t believe the transformation!
I screamed when Facebook invited us out to Seattle to meet with them. Definitely a pinch-me moment of my blogging career! My page is my most successful social media outlet, and has proven to be the most helpful in growing my blog over the years. It was truly an honor to have Facebook recognize it, and it was so fun to chat with the team about we can make it even more successful in the future.
One of my favorite outfit posts of the year! J.Crew Factory outfitted the Larkins for Easter, and I absolutely loved our outfits. MITCH’S SEERSUCKER SUIT? Stop it right now.
I clearly love shopping for my little girl. ;) These photos–all taken in Florida–melt my heart! She sadly has grown out of all her suits, so I have to buy her new ones for this year’s trip. (Will share details on that with you soon!) But definitely looking forward to it. If you’ve seen any cute ones, please let me know!
Mitch and I LOVE going back to New York, but things add up quickly. It’s only gotten more expensive since we left! We’re really good at doing inexpensive or even free stuff while there, though, so as to not break the bank. One of our favorite activities is getting coffee instead of tea at the Plaza!
Oh my gosh. This was INSANE, guys. I still can’t believe it happened, and I was unbelievably honored to have been invited. We stayed on a private yacht and cruised around the Abacos Islands for a week with VV and you won’t believe everything we did!
This was a cute series that I need to bring back!
This was crazy, and the best part of the Abacos trip. My sister-in-law, Kim, is obsessed with pigs, so I really think my family should one day take this trip! The pigs were adorable and so friendly… and I love that the Abacos takes super good care of them. They’re happy pigs, for sure!
I came really close to saying no to the Abacos trip. Here’s why, but also why I’m SO glad I said yes. <3
We went to my parents’ house in Ocean City for Easter, and Mitch snapped these photos of us on the beach one afternoon. It got me so excited for summer!
I finally took some time to finish styling our bookshelves, and I love how they turned out. Styling bookshelves, I learned, is so much more difficult than it looks. These are my tips for doing so!
This is probably my favorite coffee shop in Chicago. It’s a bike shop, too, and it’s SO PRETTY. The lighting is gorgeous, too, which makes the photographer in me super happy.
Without a doubt, our favorite restaurant in the city. You have to go. It makes you feel like it’s summer even when it’s -10 degrees out!
As much as I complain, Chicago sure is beautiful in the snow, and we do have a lot of fun playing in it. These are some of my favorite snowy pics!
Guys, I am GOING. TO. THE. DERBY. NEXT. YEAR.
I decided to opt out last year and just celebrate in Chicago, but May 2020 is our year, haha. Shaheen and Trevor now live in Louisville, so it’s happening!
This was a surreal (much-needed) experience. That sky!
I’m slowly learning what makes me feel good and confident, and this outfit does just that. I wore it for a date day/night with Mitch in Charleston. (Mitch’s parents watched Emma for a few days so we could have a little getaway!)
This was a sponsored post, but my girlfriends and I had a ton of fun with it, and I loved sitting down to write about how wonderful they all are. Such a great reminder of how lucky I am to have this support network in Chicago.
These are a few of my favorite homes in Charleston. Each one is prettier than the next!
I ordered this thing off Amazon for like $20, and no regrets, haha. I love how she struts around in it!
I finally fixed my over-processed hair, and now have soft locks. Here’s how I did it.
They don’t even look real!
This was a difficult post to write. We almost gave Noodle up, and this is why.
We spent a sunny day on Lake Michigan blowing bubbles. I live for days like this; when nothing is on the agenda and we let the wind take us–and the bubbles–where it wants to. Somehow we always end up on the water. :)
Similar to the bubble day, this will remain in my memory one of our happiest days. We spent the entirety of it in an infinity pool at the Hamilton Princess in Bermuda playing with a bucket, shovel and two plastic cups. It was perfect. And infinity pools sure are beautiful!
Taken as the sun was setting, right before our big Father’s Day dinner at the Hamilton Princess. I love outfits that require zero effort, and this is one of them!
This building is very important to me, and we brought Emma there on a trip to New York, which was an emotional experience, to say the least. ;) Here’s why.
I love the Jersey Shore because it’s super down to earth. I rarely dry my hair or wear makeup, while I don’t necessary look my best 😂, I feel my best. This is what I look like when I’m down there!
The Hamilton Princess (in Bermuda) has a family-friendly private beach. I LOVED IT. Definitely our best family vacation of all time, and I desperately want to go back this year. (Maybe in the fall?!)
We need to write more posts like this!
The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday, and I loved reading Mitch’s post about his favorite memories! The police cruisers on the beach was one of the funniest experiences of my life, haha.
We didn’t realize how dangerous our living room would be with a toddler. Here’s how we fixed the problem!
We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
J.Crew is obviously my favorite place to shop, and I LOVE a good monogram. ;) Here’s the best stuff to slap your initials on!
I loved it so much that I bought in in navy, too. I hope it comes back in different prints this year! It’s super flattering and comfy, as it’s actually a t-shirt dress. (Just looks a lot fancier!)
Take me back to this day. It was perfect.
We did this shoot for Vineyard Vines, and the photos crack me up.
SHEESH. What a tough month… and it definitely had us considering what the next step should be for our family.
This random, super friendly budding photographer from South Africa offered to take family pics for us on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, and we took him up on it!
CAN YOU EVEN?
My answer is yes, but what’s yours?
Spoiler: he ended up selling it and everyone got over it immediately, haha.
You know a lot about the three of us, but have you met my extended family?! They’re pretty awesome. (Also, Danny with the dog. I’m dying.)
Emma started PeeWee this past September, which is half-day preschool-like program. We do a collaboration with J.Crew Factory every quarter, and these are our fall outfits, inspired by “back to school.” :)
I try hard to keep non-blogger friends off the blog in an effort to respect their privacy, but because of this, I often feel like I’m living a double life. ;) Our non-blogger friends are SUCH an important and significant part of our lives, and this is a little peek into that!
It’s a weird, relatively new field… and this is what I’ve taken away from my five years in it.
It’s a cute one, and it involves my father-in-law!
Mitch worked tirelessly to create this video, and it’s one of my most treasured possessions now. It goes by so quickly!
I met an insanely talented photographer/artist. Click through to see some of her work, and the “Kelly in the City” American Girl dolls! (Life made, haha.)
My most personal blog post to date. Sadly, my family lost two close friends to suicide this year, and the world lost Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. I published this in an effort to spread awareness about mental illness and to provide hope to those who are suffering.
SO many good ones! This is my friend Danielle’s place. :) Too funny that I’d unknowingly followed her on Pinterest years before I met her, now she’s one of my best friends! Her style is swoon-worthy.
I was really nervous about publishing this because it includes so much personal information, but I’m so glad I did. It’s absurd how confusing the process is. It doesn’t have to be, though. Here’s how our very normal family is pulling it off.
This article had such an impact on me, and changed how I think about and approach parenting in today’s world.
I finally rounded up the ONLY products I use. It’s so nice to have a medicine cabinet that contains only the essentials, instead of an overflowing one. I swear by this simple beauty routine!
THE LAST PROJECT. I love how just after we finished it, we decided that we needed more space. 😂 Isn’t that how home renovations usually go, though? ;)
I used to be such a big reader, but I struggle to find time for it once I became a mother and was balancing parenting, work and a household. I recommitted myself this year and it’s made me a happier person. Sure, I usually only read for 15 minutes at a time, but it feels so lovely to be doing something for myself. I need to publish another post about what I’ve read recently!
The 20th anniversary of this book made me think about it.
Jess and I shot a project for Barbour’s fall line, and it was SO HARD, haha. It was super hot, and we had to wear multiple cold-weather outfits, and I kept blacking out. (Never fully fainting; only coming close.) We think I may have been pregnant during this and just didn’t know it… because I almost never get overheated! But yeah. This was tough, and we found out we were pregnant shortly thereafter! ;)
Mitch did a little fall feature with Emma for Nordstrom, and it took three minutes to shoot because the two of them were having the BEST time together. Afterward, we grabbed dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant in LP.
Little updates! I’m in love with our new rug.
I took these photos when we were out visiting my family on Nantucket. Never going to happen, but I’d love to own little cottage on ACK one day!
We celebrated VV’s 20th anniversary with the team out on Martha’s Vineyard and had such a great time. We couldn’t believe how well planned the trip was; it was the experience of a lifetime for our little family!
Because you can’t keep all of it.
We’re Cubs fans, but I love that Chicago residents really support all the city’s sports teams. When the Sox invited Noodle to visit the stadium for a day, we were like, “UM, YES.” I can’t wait to do it again! (Also, the pics are hilarious.)
Another staple that needs to be in your closet.
This was the greatest thing to have ever happened to my Instagram account. 😂 This post, originally created by Mitch, was shared by a bunch of big magazines and accounts this year, and my account finally grew a little! All hail the gingham pumpkins. I then made buffalo plaid pumpkins for winter and totes forgot to post them to IG. Fail, hahaha.
Emma fell in love with jumping in leaves this past fall, and it resulted in unbelievable cuteness.
We went pumpkin-picking, like every other American family does in October! ;)
I ordered these costumes months in advance for the first time ever, and I love how they turned out! Mitch, you’re a good sport.
Oh my gosh. Love this outfit but all I can remember is suffering from major morning sickness during this NYC trip. Like, puking into bushes and eventually gave up and went back to the hotel and ate bagels in bed. Ugh, haha.
You need these leggings, shoes, sweater and topcoat.
Room by room, here’s everything we own!
Stop paying lots of money for ponte pants and leggings. These are the best on the market and they’re amazingly affordable!
It’s nothing amazing, but it was homey and lovely.
Straight out of a Town & Country Magazine. 😂
This post took me forever to write! But I’m proud of it. Here are all my tricks for getting awesome shots of your family–even the tiniest members who can’t sit still.
Another post that took forever, but I’m so glad I wrote it! Here’s my guide to Lincoln Park. Next up are comprehensive city guides of Chicago and NYC.
This is the first weekend when I started to see improvement on the morning sickness front! Felt amazing to be out and about and feeling like myself again. I also highly recommend visiting Lake Geneva. We had such a blast!
My most popular post to date!
I still can’t believe that these photos are real. I suppose I peaked, and I’ll likely never create anything better than this. Better quit blogging. 😂
SO much easier than you think! And really fast. If you’ve always wanted one, here’s how you can score your dream bag for under $100.
It was snowing when the sun was out, which made for some beautiful snaps!
This is everything.
Best luggage ever! Very affordable for the quality, too.
Still can’t believe we did this! These are all iPhone photos. Incredible, right?!
They go all out for Christmas every year. Have you walked down Burling Street before?
The Swissotel invited us to stay in the Santa Suite, and it was UNREAL. Find out how young your family can visit the suite and/or stay in an elf-decorate room, too!
The cape of the year. There’s always one. ;)
Unfortunately, I neglected to take a single photo during our Christmas at the lake house because I was battling a bad cold. (The illness that just keeps going, haha.) But here’s our Christmas on the east coast. It was a great one! <3