Sassy’s Book Club: Top Favorite Books of 2019

Sassy’s Book Club: Top Favorite Books of 2019

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I read 30 books total this year, which did not hit my ultimate goal of 35 books total (damn!), but was up 5 books from last year so that’s a big improvement. Progress – I’ll take it! Last year, I didn’t do a book recap of my faves from 2018. Not sure why, but let’s just chalk it up to sheer laziness. However, here is a recap of all my favorite books from 2016-2017 if you’re looking for more inspiration.

And below are some of my fave reads from 2019. Not all of these books were written this year FYI. I just read them this year. And fun fact – all the authors are female which feels very fitting. I also linked them all on my Amazon shopping list if you want to buy them!

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray

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The brilliance of this book is hard to describe. It covers so many issues in such an eloquent way that it just astounded me. The book centers around the 3 sisters in the Butler family – Althea, Violet, and Lillian – and each chapter is told from each of their perspectives. Althea and her husband have just been put in jail, and Violet and Lillian are dealing with the aftermath including their two daughters. Incarceration, eating disorders, overachievement as fulfillment, social acceptance are just some of the themes this book deals with. All the sisters are so vastly different too you truly feel like you enter a new world with each chapter. This wins for my book of the year and in my opinion, is a must-read.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

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Let me start with saying this is going to be made into a show for Hulu in 2020, so if you are someone who likes to read the book FIRST do so stat. This book is about two teens growing up in the 2010s, Connell and Marianne, who have literally nothing in common but have been brought together outside of their normal school setting because Connell’s mother is Marianne’s housekeeper. What happens next is a story that will feel very familiar and frustrating to any millennials. I know it brought out those feelings for me.

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane 

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At its core, this book is a love story. You follow Kate and Peter from birth. They grow up as neighbors – both children of NYC cops – and they strike up a quick friendship that is tested over and over again throughout the 40-year arc we follow them on. It’s an explosive arc and tackles the common topic of what forgiveness looks like for different people. A lot of this book felt comfortable to me since it deals with Irish Catholics (a topic I know a good bit about), but the explosive moment that shapes both these families’ lives is massive and leads to such great drama and questions for all parties involved. Highly recommend.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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At first, I had a hard time reading this book since it is written like a manuscript of a documentary. Keeping track of who is who was a little rough since this is about a rock band of 7 people so there are lots of characters. This book is set in the 1970s during the height of rock and roll and about a socialite, Daisy Jones, who joins a rock band and they hit peak fame. Now, a team of documentarians is doing a biopic on the band in the present time. It’s interesting to hear different perspectives and questions whose view is true or not. This is a quick read and well done.

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

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It took a little bit for me to get into this book, but once I did I couldn’t put it down. This book is set in Chicago (the author went to Northwestern), so I personally loved knowing street names and the bars and restaurants she mentioned. But, that’s not that important to the storyline. The book itself is set in during the AIDS epidemic and follows two stories – one of Yale, a gay man watching his friends suffer and pass away as the disease ravages Boystown, and Fiona, the sister of Yale’s best friend who has just passed away. Fiona’s story is told 30 years in the future and it is almost hard to follow why this story is important to the one in the past, but it is. It’s like unraveling a mystery of how these stories connect, and the end result is fantastic. FYI this was optioned by Amy Poehler and is also being made into a TV show.

A Sassy Guide to Delafield, WI

A Sassy Guide to Delafield, WI

If you’ve ever wanted to live in a Hallmark film, well I have the perfect town for you to visit. Delafield, Wisconsin is located in the Lake Country of Wisconsin (which they won’t let you forget – there are lots of items you can buy that proclaim you are a Real Housewife of Lake Country!) and only a two and a half-hour drive from downtown Chicago. It’s almost equally between Milwaukee and Madison give or take 10 minutes so it’s a great getaway for most cities in Wisconsin too!

My friends and I love doing little weekends away with each other so we decided to explore Lake Country and the small town of Delafield for a short autumn weekend in November. We left on Friday night and got to the hotel a little after 10pm since we stopped for dinner outside of Milwaukee.

So remember when I said this town is basically a Hallmark film set? Well, that’s true. It’s super quaint, cute, homey and all decorated for the season. However, that’s where the comparisons end. Most Hallmark-Esque towns might not be very modern. I, for one, automatically think of old-timey bed and breakfasts, outdated diners, and antiquated buildings, but Delafield is modern and has a lot of updated amenities. One of those being the hotel we stayed at The Delafield Hotel.

The Delafield Hotel is a luxury hotel with a great blend of cozy and modern features. The lobby has a masculine lodge feel, but still feels bright and welcoming. The rooms are roomy, cozy, but still have modern touches like Kohler rain showers (I DIE!) and fun artwork. The hotel also houses its own restaurant – I.d.– and is next door to a massive fitness center, be Fitness, that the hotel guests are allowed to use during their stay. We were actually blown away by the hospitality here (everyone is SO nice) as well as the space being so fresh and modern. This hotel could easily be in the heart of Chicago.

On our first night, we opted to stay in and just watch TV (lots of channels btw including On Demand!) and woke up early the next day to go to brunch at Belfre Kitchen. They call themselves a neighborhood gathering spot and we’d have to agree – we went back twice for brunch and then some appetizers before dinner and were impressed with both. Their space is airy, modern, and built-in a former church. It has a very cool vibe and the menu is very unique. For instance, we each got one of their mimosa flights which came with different juices and the choices were things like rhubarb, prickly pear, and pomegranate in addition to typical juices like orange and peach.

After brunch, we did some shopping around town. Our favorite store being Element Style. It had all the cute, cozy items you need for the season. Each of us bought something here like gloves and sweaters. Some other places we’d recommend to stop in: Next Door, Bliss Boutique and the cute antique store next to Angelina’s restaurant.

That evening, we went to I.d. for dinner and again were blown away. The caliber of food they had was high and reminded me of some of the best restaurants I’ve been to in Milwaukee and Chicago. Our favorite dishes were Nashville Hot Chicken Wedge, Beet Gnocchi in a sheep cheese fondue, and the Chorizo Verde Meatballs. I can’t say that anything was not good though! You could literally order anything on this menu and be impressed – like you can’t go wrong with amazing truffle fries!

If you’re looking for nightlife, this town isn’t really it. Sorry, Delafield! But I think they know that. Our hotel had an amazing bar that had live music and we could have easily stayed there for more drinks, but we decided to go to the other bar in town Revere’s for a more relaxed vibe. They have a game room in the basement too with darts, pool, and Golden Tee. They also have Photo Hunt (nude version only please – if you know what I mean please leave a comment below!). We stayed way too long. Most people had already left, but that’s our MO. Like I said before, everyone in this town is beyond nice and we made friends with the bartenders and were having a grand ole time. Pro Tip: this town is like New Orleans so you can drink on the street. We are large fan of roadies so this was one of our fave things about Delafield!

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The next morning, we woke up and hung out in our insanely comfortable beds while recapping our evening and then drove home but not before we stopped to get some Spotted Cow to take home with us. If you know, then you know.

Jim’s Guide to a Perfect Chicago Christmas

Jim’s Guide to a Perfect Chicago Christmas

Last December, I wrote a Chicago holiday activity guide of all the things I love to do around Christmas and this year to spice things up, I invited my dad – who you guys know as Jim – to write give his own top list of things to do for the season. So below is a list of all the things you should do with your own Dapper Dad (or mom or friend or uncle or whomever!) when the time allows:

1. Ice Skating at Maggie Daley Park followed by drinks at Offshore at Navy Pier. 

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This ice skating rink is particularly fun because like the city of Chicago explains it “it’s a multi-sensory experience”. It goes in a circle but has tiny hills and sharper turns so it’s more of a ride than going in one pace around an ice rink for an hour. Not too far away is Navy Pier’s newest bar Offshore. It is the nation’s largest rooftop bar and it has a roof so it’s got the views without the cold weather. I have also heard that they have dressed it up for the holidays!

2. Caroling at the Bean followed by drinks at Cindy’s at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel. 

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Every Friday from now until Christmas, there is Christmas caroling at the at Cloud Gate aka The Bean. Local choirs lead the singing and everyone gets a songbook at the event. The Bean is conveniently located across the street from Chicago Athletic Association Hotel which houses Cindy’s – another awesome rooftop that has great views, outdoor fires, and inside seating.

3. Drive around to see the Christmas lights of Sauganash.

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The neighborhood of Sauganash in Chicago is known for its holiday decorations. Take a drive around the neighborhood and end your night at Fondue Stube for some traditional melted cheese and bread. My parents had one of their first dates here!

4. Chicago Symphony Orchestra for a holiday concert. 

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The CSO does holiday concerts all month long, but the most fun ones (in my opinion!) are the themed ones. The Harry Potter concert was Thanksgiving weekend, but the Home Alone one is coming up soon!

5. A Loyola Ramblers game.

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Not sure how this one snuck in here, but I am guessing Jim wants us to all go to a game with him now that he is a fair-weather fan lol.  In all fairness, he is an alum and this is where he met my mom so we will let it stay on the list.

November ’19 Outfit Round-Up

November ’19 Outfit Round-Up

Shopping via links is hard. Trust me, I am also a human who likes to buy from people she is influenced by on the Internet. So in attempts to make it easier to shop my outfits, I am instituting a new monthly blog post where I do a round-up of all my outfits from the month so you can easily shop them from your browser. So in no particular order, here we go!

For reference, I am usually a size 16/18 in dresses, 20 in pants, and almost exclusively a 1X in anything Anthropologie.

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what is art?

{ jacket: Jessica London faux fur jacket, booties: Comfortview Henley booties, dress: old Forever 21, but linking a similar dress from Torrid}

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i want a hot dog real bad

{top: Anthropologie Mallory ruffled blouse, headband: Anthropologie Lauren knotted headband, black jeggings: Sanctuary classic leggings, shoes: Target platform wedges}

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comfy cozies

{top: Chic Soul slouchy tunic, leggings: Universal Standard core leggings, slippers: Lands’ End shearling slippers}

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eshakti

{headband: Anthropologie Lauren knotted headband, dress: Eshakti ruffle floral cotton dress, shoes: Target booties}

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fabletics

{entire work out outfit: Fabletics}

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glam casual

{hat: red beanie,  jacket: Jessica London 3-in-1 puffer, top: Jessica London metallic shirt, black jeggings: Sanctuary classic leggings, booties: Comfortview Henley booties}

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holiday look

{barrettes: Quarters & Caviar pearl & geometric barrettes, sweater: Jessica London faux fur-trim sweater, boots: Ivana Wide-Calf Boot by Comfortview}

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my winter in FL look

{headband: Ann Taylor velvet knotted headband, dress: Anthropologie ruffled tunic dress by Rossi}

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car not included

{top: confetti chenille sweater, skirt: GibsonLook pink pleated skirt, shoes: velvet flats – these are old and from the Gap, but I found some cute ones from DSW that are similar}

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swingin’ into the holidays

{headband: Anthropologie Lauren knotted headband, jumpsuit: Eshakti stripe matte jumpsuit}

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bye fall

{top: Amazon Relipop loose sweater, pants: Old Navy pixie pants in leopard, shoes: Target platform wedges}

How to Throw an Effortless Friendsgiving with HoneyBaked

How to Throw an Effortless Friendsgiving with HoneyBaked

I am someone who loves entertaining. Got that from my momma (and my papa!). The worst part of entertaining to me is the prep for it. Some parts are exciting – like decor and table settings and a theme! – but prepping food for me has always been my least favorite part of hosting an event since it takes time away from hanging out with my own party guests!

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This past weekend, I hosted a Friendsgiving with my friend Terri at her condo since she has an amazing dining room table, but it turned out to be pretty effortless so let me take you through what made it pretty easy for us and how you too can throw an effortless Friendsgiving for you and your friends.

  1. Outsource. 

Some years when my parents were hosting a LOT of people for a holiday dinner they would cater part of the dinner. They loved making the main course, but buying sides from a catering company helped cut down the level of effort they had to make and in the process, they got to enjoy their own party a lot more. This year I wanted to host a Friendsgiving but I didn’t want to have to miss half the party because I was in the kitchen cooking which was why when The Honey Baked Ham Company wanted to partner I was thrilled! I knew they had fully cooked entrees that were easy to heat up and serve, but I didn’t know about the many entrees they have as well that also heat and serve ready. In fact, they have 10 different sides that you can pick from!

We got the Honey Baked Turkey Breast, which serves 6-8, as well as six different sides for such a reasonable price. Not only did it cut our cooking time in half (maybe more!), but it saved us money too.

If you’d like to replicate this meal, I have a special code for you to get savings on a Honey Baked Turkey Breast.

 

 

2. Plan a smart menu. 

When we planned out our menu, we tried to pick as many of The Honey Baked Ham items that had the same oven temperature and baking times so that we could serve a hot meal! When you live in a small space this is a key way to menu plan! Luckily, a lot of the HoneyBaked sides could go into the oven together.

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3. Set your table the night before. 

I do this even when I’m just having a few people over for cocktails and apps. Get out all the bowls, serving dishes, glasses, and decor the night before and set it all up without the food out. That way you only need to focus on getting ready before your guests get there. If you’re anything like me you are waiting until the very last minute to get in the shower!

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4. Pinterest is your BFF. 

When putting together table decor, I always turn to Pinterest to inspire me. Since I was hosting the party with someone else, I created a decor board and then shared with her to see which ones she liked the best and then we pulled different ideas from each of the ones we both liked to create our table! Pro tip: shop NOW for your Thanksgiving tabletop decor. Everything is on MAJOR sale since Halloween is over and people are very much in Christmas mode. We got most of the things on our table from Michael’s and Pier 1 for almost 80% off.

We had the best time at our Friendsgiving celebration because of the time we saved with HoneyBaked. We truly put in the minimal effort for such an amazing time and delicious food. I highly recommend turning to The Honey Baked Ham Company for your Friendsgiving needs. They really hit the spot for us!

This post is sponsored by The Honey Baked Ham Company. Views and opinions are my own.