winter in chicago.

the husband + I are on our back to “reality” home today. after spending the holidays with family in chicago. it really is beautiful this time of year. amidst the holiday plans, we found a bit of time to sneak away + explore.

there was a lunch at howells & hood. wandering briefly down state street. hot cocoas around an outdoor, high-in-the-sky ice rink at the peninsula. appetizers + a brew at butch mcguire’s. martinis + live music at the drake hotel. and a dinner at lou malnatis. not to mention, the weather was far from typical chicago in december. it was nearly 50°. making the exploring that much more enjoyable. although a bit of snow would’ve really added some holiday cheer to these cityscape photos, you won’t hear me complain.

winter in chicago c/o LLinaBC.com

winter in chicago c/o LLinaBC.com

winter in chicago c/o LLinaBC.com

winter in chicago c/o LLinaBC.com

winter in chicago c/o LLinaBC.com

winter in chicago c/o LLinaBC.com

winter in chicago c/o LLinaBC.com

winter in chicago c/o LLinaBC.com

winter in chicago c/o LLinaBC.com

winter in chicago c/o LLinaBC.com

winter in chicago c/o LLinaBC.com

winter in chicago c/o LLinaBC.com

winter in chicago c/o LLinaBC.com

winter in chicago c/o LLinaBC.com

winter in chicago c/o LLinaBC.com

winter in chicago c/o LLinaBC.com

winter in chicago c/o LLinaBC.com

now it’s time to begin the preparation for 2015. it is only two days away. and I am one that really enjoys the hype of a new year. it may be ridiculous, but I love the idea of a fresh start. the chance to turn a new leaf. and besides your birthday, the only other time is a new year. so I clean, donate + organize my life. I reflect on the past year and write down what I want more of + less of in the new year. meaning now that we’re home from our holiday trip, I have a lot to do!

what are you doing to prepare for the new year? what do you want more of + less of in 2015?

I’ll share mine soon!

the eve of christmas.

the car has been loaded down, with our luggage + presents. we just need to make a quick stop at starbucks for our road trip beverages super large iced coffees. obviously. #addicted. #CantRoadTripWithoutCaffeine.

our road trip essentials ..

pretzels + holiday M&M’s, a cozy blanket, granola bars, coconut water, fruit vines bites, and napkins. better to be safe than sorry.

holiday road trip treats c/o LLinaBC.com

holiday road trip treats c/o LLinaBC.com

we’ll be spending the holidays in chicago.

there is no way to satisfy both family holidays when our parents live 6 hours apart. so this year, we will spending christmas with [J]’s family in the city. last year, we had a party for two on christmas.

on the menu for this evening is [J]’s mom’s most amazing seafood chowder. it is truly out of this world. don’t you just love holiday traditions? I do. especially since I married into a really good one.

need last-minute ideas for your gathering?

try these festive place cards made from gold ornaments purchased at the dollar store. to satisfy the beer drinks in your group, these picks are holiday appropriate. and do not forget the eggnog!! if you’re looking for a spiked version ..try these two scrumptious additions.

merry christmas eve!

don’t forget to bed early. santa won’t come if he knows you’re awake.

the destination to our wedding.

[J] + I always knew that we would someday plan our wedding afar. we had envisioned an intimate ceremony on a breathtaking beach. that was the easy part. when we got engaged, we had no idea where to begin. after many intense nights of google searching, we stumbled upon destinationweddings.com. I felt at home there. I was able to search many destinations, a ton of resorts, and get an idea of what a wedding there would look like. we knew we wanted an all-inclusive resort, with many restaurants & activities, family friendly, and somewhat easy to get to from the united states. we went back + forth between the dominican republic + jamaica. but finally settled on punta cana, dominican republic. all because we fell in love with the hard rock hotel & casino.

there are twelve restaurants. everything from hibachi, brick oven-style pizza, a brazilian steakhouse, and so much more. not to mention, every pool has a food menu. and room service is included. six bars + nightclubs.

of course they have an amazing coffee shop, that [J] + I made a habit to stop by daily. and a gelato shop that will make you drool.

the pools are amazing. but the best ones, have swim-up bars. and the ocean is the craziest shades of blue.

but truly, we felt at home. you start seeing familiar faces. the bartenders know your drink order. the waitstaff asks “how are you doing today? like they’ve known you forever. the service is incredible.

I could live there.

[the wedding department at the hard rock punta cana blew my expectations out of the water. I cried saying goodbye + thank you to our coordinator, erika, that I knew for a total of seven days. I felt people bending over backward to ensure we had our dream wedding. and we did, plus so much more].

the destination to our wedding c/o LLinaBC.com

the destination to our wedding c/o LLinaBC.com

the destination to our wedding c/o LLinaBC.com

the destination to our wedding c/o LLinaBC.com

the destination to our wedding c/o LLinaBC.com

the destination to our wedding c/o LLinaBC.com

the destination to our wedding c/o LLinaBC.com

the guys who delivered our lunch + champagne to us girls while we were getting ready.

the destination to our wedding c/o LLinaBC.com

the destination to our wedding c/o LLinaBC.com

the destination to our wedding c/o LLinaBC.com

the destination to our wedding c/o LLinaBC.com

take me back ..

what’s your dream wedding look like?

any questions on planning a destination wedding, how [J] + I planned ours, or anything really ..I’m more than happy to answer. or help.

happy friday.