Category Archives: Life/Style

Wedding Inspiration

Wedding planning is so much fun! Thought I, two weeks ago. That was before I found out the one venue I’ve had in mind forever is basically fully booked 16 months out – and here I thought I was really good at planning ahead! 

We I started planning two days after we got engaged when I got stuck at O’Hare Airport without a computer. Naturally, I purchased a giant textbook of advertisements (aka The Knot magazine) and it tided me over until we finally boarded four hours later. I read it twice and bookmarked a few pages – then proceeded to snap smartphone pics and immediately pin them to private boards – because without Pinterest how does one plan?!

Thus far, Pinterest has been the biggest source of inspiration. Are we surprised?! Thank goodness for unlimited secret pin boards, they debuted at the absolute perfect time!

Find my initial inspiration board below:  M&M Wedding
Clearly I don’t know which colors or flowers I want yet…

Wedding-Inspiration-Board As you can see – I’m attracted to traditional, vintage, & chic, with an appreciation for those little special touches.

Any tips on flowers, decor, dos & don’ts..And your reviews of all things J.Crew bridal / bridesmaid would be great appreciated. Thanks!



A Weekend in Chicago

Last weekend I went to Chicago to visit my boyfriend. (Did I mention he’s living there now? How come no one warned me that long distance relationships are so difficult?) Since it snowed on Saturday and I had a sinus infection all weekend, we decided to pare down any ambitious endeavors. Despite this, we still managed to do a lot of exploring.

Chicago is full of fun activities in the summer (boat rides at Navy Pier, Taste of Chicago food festival, concerts in Millennium Park, frolicking around Buckingham fountainthe list goes on!) But when faced with a cold and snowy weekend, we had to come up with some alternatives.

Here are my suggestions for a Winter Weekend in Chicago:

Because brunch is always a good idea. We were in the burbs, so we chose Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe – which was absolutely delicious, but we did have to wait over an hour to be seated.
Wildberry-Pancakes-And-Cafe-Chicago Wildberry-Pancakes-And-Cafe-Chicago

Chances are you’ll ultimately get hungry – again! I’d highly recommend Eataly (especially during “off hours”). We had lunch at 4:00pm and it was crowded, but I sense it’d be all the more crowded during lunch or dinner time on the weekend!

Our spread: Eataly-Chicago-Lunch

Everything there looks amaze tho. Mozzarella Bar. Cannoli. Carving Station. Carpaccio. If it’s Italian and delicious – Eataly’s got it.

If you’re feeling less fancy, Portillo’s is always a good idea! If you are feeling fancy and confident that you can actually get a table – head to RPM Italian – A modern Italian restaurant by Bill and Giuliana Rancic... and some other people. You might actually see them there and get starstuck. This is known to happen. I’m still working on getting a reservation for next time, but this is promising:


Depending on the occasion, Pops for Champagne or Starbucks on State (Winebucks / Starbucks Evenings) would be a great stop. This Starbucks literally has wine and beer on the menu. Not to mention small plates including Mac and Cheese:

Depending on the length of your stay, I would also recommend the museums and/or catching a Blue Man Group show.

Shopping on Michigan Ave (the Magnificent Mile!)
Burberry Store Michigan Ave Chicago
*We didn’t actually go to Burberry. I just love the architecture and design of this storefront…

A trip to Chicago is not complete without some shopping. Given the cold and snow, we made only a few select stops. Can you guess where?

Ding Ding Ding!
I was hoping the new J.Crew at the 900 North Michigan Shops would be open, but alas, still under construction. I was full of questions – When will it open? Will this store have Men and Women? Crewcuts? J.Crew Baby? Be larger than the current storeMatt seemed to know all of these answers. I was astonished!

Then he pointed to the writing on the wall:

How did I miss that?!

Fashion Outlets
If you came to Chi to shop, you’re definitely going to want to head to the Fashion Outlets (Especially if you are flying out of O’Hare. Because they are literally 5 mins away from O’Hare). This mall is nice and clean and NEW! I know my way around an outlet mall (See: Black Friday: We Went Shopping) but this one is different. For one – it’s all indoors! Also, it has some higher-end designer outlets including: Burberry, Diane Von Furstenberg, Elie Tahari, Gucci, Tory Burch, Trina Turk…

Tory Burch has a limited selection of handbags and wallets, but a lot of footwear. Just don’t get your hopes too high because they might be sold out of your size! ‘Bloomingdales The Outlet Store’ is a great spot for deals on designer sunglasses. But be prepared to try on a lot of pairs, and withstand remarks from the boyfriend along the lines of “What? That’s considered high fashion? Those look ridiculous!” (Why you no like Prada Baroque? It’s ok, I don’t have the face for them anyway).

There is also a Sperry outlet and a J.Crew Factory Store. So yeah, we checked out both. But nothing was really on “sale sale” so I was like “meh.”

Bonus: This mall has above-average dining options! We enjoyed some Freshii and Froyo.
Freshii at the Fashion Outlets Chicago

Last weekend we also went to the Chicago Auto Show because the bf is obsessed with cars (See: R3dline_Photo on Instagram). Here’s my amateur attempt at car photography:

If you just tilt it, it’s artsy, right? IMG_0510_2

Get Low! Lean In!Chicago-Auto-Show-2014

The car show was open til 10pm and we closed that place down! Turns out, I actually found the event to be rather interesting! The only problem: my car lease is up in May and I can’t afford any of the beauties I saw at the showbooooo….

So, tell me, what are your favorite things to do in Chicago? Let me know in the comments below!



Current Obsession (and a Giveaway!): Francesca Joy

A few weeks ago I ventured to Manhattan with my roommate KL (yes, going from Brooklyn to Manhattan is considered venturing). I had the pleasure of meeting her good friend from college, Elise. After being seated at our table at the cutest little restaurant in the West Village we started talking about her company Francesca Joy. I was so impressed and inspired with how she started her own business, the collaborations she’s done, and her amazing designs (she hand paints all of her totes and they look perfectI can barely sign my own name some days).

Well, Elise was kind enough to answer some questions about her company and the journey of building her own brand. Oh, and we also may or may not have a giveaway that will have you dreaming of spring, traveling the world, and maybe a little bit of sailing, too!

Paris & Flowers Tote


Francesca Joy for York Design Co


Q: What motivated you to start your own business? Were you always interested in art, fashion, and design? 

A: Francesca Joy as a business started accidentally. I was working as an artist, selling work, doing gallery shows and trying to network everywhere from Miami, to London, to Chelsea, NY. When I saw the response from my audience, it was a fashion response. Like, how can you put these paintings on something for us to buy? It’s amazing to see how a single idea grows into a brand, and an identity, which is now the business. I was always interested in fashion, but I knew if I was going to make my mark in the industry, I would have to develop my own concepts and ideas, linking my canvases to fashion. This would inevitably present something new. Coming up with a new way of seeing pattern, print, and design in specified, niche markets.

Q: What are some of the struggles you’ve encountered starting your own business and how have you overcome them? 

A: For me, there were no handouts: I’ve had to work for everything, and when you don’t have money starting something, you rely on your drive and your ambition. Jimmy Paige said, “I may not believe in myself, but I believe in what I am doing.” I think that sums up a lot of the ups and downs you encounter in being self-employed and starting something. When you have no other option but to succeed, you will be surprised at how far you can come and what you can accomplish.

Q: Where do you draw inspiration for your products and company? How do you stay inspired and what do you do to keep evolving as an artist and designer? 

A: We started in Palm Beach, where I was hand-painting tote bags – and that remains an ongoing theme in the color scheme and the overall vibe. The nature, the luxury, the style – that keeps a consistent timeless approach which is important today when you are styling. We’ve sort of “done it all” in our generation with fashion, so where we discover new territory is through our personal understanding of old trends and the faces of the past.

I find inspiration through America, the colors, and pop-culture history. Music is a HUGE theme for me. Sophistication is rock and roll to me. Colors should speak to you, and express something. Whimsy and youth is lively. I don’t like safe – risk is wonderful, and that’s how I keep evolving. What I sense, and what I feel is ultimately passion that is passed on to your customers and fans. Decades like the 60s and 70s are big for me. Peter Max is explosive in his themes, colors, and tales of a time… Interior design, architecture, sites like and stores like JUST ONE EYE are killing it. So amazing, so inspiring.

Q: What is the most exciting collaboration you’ve worked on?

A: I always wanted to design the ultimate resort shoe. Back in 2012, I was able to fulfill this with the help of sandal maker, Stephen Bonanno of West Palm Beach. He was the original creator of the famed Jack Roger. I’d worn those my whole life. I remember my Mum saving my first pair – I think they were purple. So this was exciting for me. At the time, I was printing my own textiles in San Francisco, and having them shipped over to my factory in Fall River, MA. I was keeping everything in the US. Very important. So, we took my hemp-silk blend textiles, and blended them into the sandal for a fresh look at the staple sandal. I was so proud of them because they came out EXACTLY as I had envisioned. It also announced to my fans and followers that this is Francesca Joy. It’s fun and whimsy, but it’s also extremely detailed and ancient in feel and vibe, with a strong sense of history.

Francesca Joy/Stephen Bonanno Collab

The other exciting, more recent collaboration, is the Sorority collection with FASHION GREEK. It’s amazing to see the prints on college campuses and to take our signature look into Greek life.

Q: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to start their own business? 

If you have a gut instinct in you to start something, follow that instinct. Do not ignore it. Don’t listen to everyone who follows the crowd. Good for them – that’s not you. When you start to part from the crowd, and develop your own visions, that is when you know you were supposed to lead and create. There’s no sense in starting your own business if it doesn’t give back in some way – if it doesn’t inspire others to create, think, and progress. So, giving back is my big advice. Spread knowledge and passion. You will help your world in a big way.

We love Elise’s passion and are so grateful to her for sharing more about her company and inspirations! We are also excited to announce our giveaway. We have the cutest tote that will make you want to hop on a plane for a spring getaway in ParisAND (because what do The JCR Girls love more than anything nautical?!) a cuff from Francesca Joy’s collection for York Design Company. Use the Rafflecopter widgets below to enter!

A Rafflecopter giveaway
A Rafflecopter giveaway

Life Lately: 5 Things We’re Into Right Now

1. Chromecast

Google Chromecast YOU GUYS! If you don’t have one and you’re not on the waitlist, you need to get on it now.
It’s like, AppleTV but for only $35. Srsly tho. Time to get your #geekchic on.

NYFW-RewardStyle-Party Because, parties.

3. Shopping Your Own Closet
Came across this Buzzfeed article titled, “10 Ways To Hack Your Heels” and I was like “MUST try #1 #5 #7 and #10 NOW!”

4. Creating Gallery Walls
It’s a chore, but so rewarding when you get it just right. Am I right? This little one in my bedroom is ALMOST there:
Gallery Wall | The JCR Girls

5. Tuft Stuff
If you’re a regular reader I’m sure you’re already well aware that I love a good tuft. Hence, my tufted chesterfield sofa, my new tufted ottoman (thought you couldn’t double up on the tuft, think again!) and my latest pursuit…a tufted headboard!
Tufted Ottoman and Sofa | The JCR Girls

Please please please help me choose:

All of the following images are from









Tufted-Headboard Six


Found it at Wayfair - Nail Button Tufted Headboard in Navy Linen

For background – my bedding is navy and white; walls are white.




Life Lately: 5 Things

A lot has happened over the past month! Jocelyn packed up and made the move from Milwaukee to Brooklyn; Martha got a new office – moving only a mile but to a much larger, much more creative space…and we’ve both been blessed with exposed brick in our new settings, WIN!


Also, we’ve both set out on antiquing adventures (what else is new?) and had to restrain ourselves from purchasing all of our September Style Guide Faves and this Ridiculous Long List of Riding Boots.

Here’s a recap of our adventures of late:

1. J’S New to New York!

New-York-City | The JCR Girls

NYC’s the place to be!


2. We Heart Exposed Brick
Exposed-Brick-Apt-Office | The JCR Girls


3. We Heart Antiquing
The JCR Girls Go Antiquing


4. Do It YoSelf

Project #1: Leather Bow DIY
Leather Bow DIY | The JCR GirlsStep 1: Find scraps of leather (found mine at the fabric outlet)

Step 2: Follow this tutorial. If you’re like me, take a few creative liberties. (Namely, I didn’t make them into bracelets…)


Project #2: Nautical Pillows!
Nautical Fabric | The JCR Girls
Step 1: Buy Nautical FabricNautical Pillows | The JCR GirlsStep 2: Follow this Slipstitched Pillow Cover Tutorial. 



The JCR Girls | DIY Nautical Pillows
5. And then I Went House Hunting!
Dream House | The JCR Girls
Just Kidding. I Wish. This actually happened in my #DreamLife.


…More detailed decor posts to come! Don’t miss out, subscribe to our blog to stay in the loop!

New Apt Design & Decor Part Deux

Things have been slowly but surely coming together in the new place! (Did I tell you I moved into a new apt? One with 325 extra sq feet and a whole bunch of closets?!)

Although I didn’t plan to move so quickly (thanks, leaky ceiling), it really did work out for the better: nicer neighborhood, copious closets and NATURE. Still close to the city, but look at that view – still getting over the fact that’s it’s not a parking lot!
The New Apt

Even though the new place is practically perfect (well, minus the lack of crown molding, carerra marble countertops, chandeliers and hardwood floors), some aspects of furnishing it weren’t as easy as I thought they’d be….

Sofa Shopping is Stressful
Take sofa shopping – should be easy, right? Plenty of pinboards full of em. Ample online reviews from people just like me. That plus…a discerning eye that immediately blocks out 95% of sofas for not passing the “pretty” test and a bank account that’s well, not unlimited. This should leave me with a pretty direct path to the perfect new sofa, right?

Well…after sitting on couches for three weekends in a row, I finally found this nautical thing that suited my style and my budget. Unfortunately, it was on backorder, but I waited patiently until the delivery truck showed up weeks later. I was giddy.
Martha's New Couch!

Giddy up until they convinced me that there was no way it was going to fit in the elevator or up the stairs because “It’s just too tall for this apartment building.” Ummm, excuse me, what??

**PS don’t worry, I was going to recover those pillows that look like they’re covered in French graffiti

So I was back to square one. Luckily, a trip to Macy’s Furniture showroom made everything better. As it so happens, Martha is My Homegirl. I set my eyes on this Martha Stewart Chesterfield in “Saybridge Storm” (or as I like to say, “Elephant Gray,”) and I was in love. What’s better? A surprise sale boasting the best prices of the year!
Martha Stewart Chesterfield Sofa


Maybe it’s because Martha and I share a name. Or maybe it’s because I’ve always wanted a Chesterfield and this one actually fit in my building. (Side story: the guy selling me the warranty plan asked if I owned any of them “bedazzled butt jeans.” Ummmm no, J. Crew doesn’t sell those! And also, I’m not a 45-year-old divorcee.)
JCR Jeans

Too Dainty for DIY
Story number two is stressful, too. I can’t be the only one who’s been giddily pinning things to a board titled “DIY” under the notion that this will be so “cheap and quick and easy and fun!” Because in reality, DIY projects (like the ones I’ve gotten myself into recently) have been the exact opposite.

They make it look so easy, but sanding? Sanding takes strength. And that brown desk is gonna take about 18 coats of primer and paint until it turns white. Which isn’t even that big of an exaggeration. My index finger was numb from pressing on the spray paint can for so long. And it didn’t regain feeling for 3 days. The boyfriend says I’m “too dainty for DIY,” and it’s sad, but totally true. That, and I really just don’t have the patience for it.

But, despite the battle scars, here’s what I was able to accomplish:

Picked up at the Blu Dot warehouse sale for $19. Put 2x that in paint, primer, lacquer and sanding supplies into it, along with a whole bunch of elbow grease, and VOILA!

Bar Cart
Little Table

Apt DIY Projects | The JCR Girls

Red Coral Bowl Thing
DIY Projects | The JCR Girls

Apt Decor | The JCR Girls Little White Table + Red Coral Bowl Thing


The inspiration – This Pottery Barn Pillow:
Pottery Barn Throw Pillow

Thanks for listening to my whining. Now, I’m off to pour myself another glass of Merlot.



Right on Target

With my recent move and increase in square footage (see my last post for details) I’ve been carefully curating the right items to deck out the new place. Some old faves, but plenty of room for new!

Since I live in Target Town (Minneapolis) and find myself shopping there multiple times per week – sorry I need food. footwear. sportsbras. shampoo. cards. gifts and everything else… I’ve become quite familiar with their new Target Threshold line. As a regular Target shopper I see what they did there – give a new brand and identity to many of the design/decor products they’ve already been carrying, but somehow I’m still under the spell.

Take for instance: Purchasing a tension rod upon which to hang a shower curtain.

Plain white tension rod for $5.70 OR an oil rubbed bronze rod with decorative finials for $27.00?

I think you know what I chose…along with matching curtain rings, shelves, hooks and soap dispenser.

I’ve got my eye on these other bronze beauties, too:
Oil Rubbed Bronze Accessories | Target Threshold


A brilliant marketing move.

Target was perfect for outfitting my college dorm and first apt. Plenty of budget-friendly options. Target is still perfect for outfitting my “Big Girl Place” even if the items cost 3X more. I think the problem is, I can’t say no to cute. Or coral. I can’t say no to this faux coral on clearance. I mean, who can?

Look at all this cuteness I’m coveting for the new place:


Throw Pillows

Target Threshold Throw Pillows

Pretty Curtains
Target Threshold Curtains

Lamp Shades
Target Threshold Lamp Shades
Target Threshold Lamp Bases

Quirky Things
Target Threshold | Quirky Decor


What I’m Into Right Now: Design & Decor

Having just moved from a 700 sq. ft apt into a 1,000 sq. ft apt,  I’m quite delighted by the amount of closet space I now have (not that there’s that much extra closet space, but you know, when J. Crew calls…)

This also explains the reason why I haven’t been blogging for a really long time. You see, I’ve been apt hunting and packing and moving and cleaning and finally…the fun part: Designing and Decorating!

Thought I’d share some of my design inspiration and new decor ideas!
I bring you, What I’m Into Right Now:

Crane & Canopy Bedding

I especially LOVE that it’s a startup and a husband + wife duo!

Crane & Canopy Bedding

Crane & Canopy Bedding Crane & Canopy Bedding

Marble Top Tables

Room and Board | Marble Tables
Room and Board | Marble Tables
Room and Board | Marble Tables
Sometimes I wish I didn’t have such expensive taste…

But to combat this issue, I’ve been doing things like:

Getting up at the crack of dawn on Saturday mornings in an attempt to score some fancy furniture at 70% off;
Scouring Craigslist for designer finds in great condition,
Keeping my eye on estate sales in key zip codes,

And Spray Painting Things Gold.

In order to make things look EXTRA LUXE, I’ve gotten really into spray painting things gold. I think the bf is getting really sick of me saying, “But what if I painted it gold?! Then it would look totally fab…”
Although I think it’s growing on him because just tonight I caught him reading Glitter & Goat Cheese

This IKEA Hack is at the top of my list:
IKEA Hack | Gold Bookshelf
IKEA Hack Gold Bookshelf

And to Accessorize…

Apothocary Jars!

I mean, they’re just so versatile. You can keep your soap collection OR your fruit collection in them.
But seriously…look at these beautes:

Apothecary Jars
Apothocary Jars
{Hint: they are like dirt cheap at Home Goods}


Throw Pillows

Throw Pillows

and just to throw myself a curveball…I actually bought a couch that comes with throw pillows.
Probably a wise decision considering I could easily spend $250+ on throw pillows alone…
Martha's New Couch!Editor’s Note: I’ll be recovering the front two pillows that look like they have French graffiti handwriting all over them. I’ll opt for a POP of color instead. Suggestions? Tweet me!

{Nautical} Vinyl Wall Decals

I know what you’re thinking…they’re tacky and I hate them! I was totally with you until I saw these…

Nautical Anchor Wall Decals
and I knew I absolutely had to have them.

…Are you sensing a nautical theme yet? Come Sail Away

And for finishing touches…

Quirky Knobs & Hooks!
Anthro Knobs | The JCR Girlsvia Anthro

Now back to oogling Houzz, Pinterest HouseBeautiful for more inspiration…

I’m getting the itch to try a few new DIY projects, including some of these. I’ll throw them up on the blog when they’re done!

In the meantime…what are your favorite sources for design + decor ideas? Have any ideas for making your living space more like a J. Crew store? Tell us!