Wednesday, February 29, 2012

i really don't mean to freak anyone out. not really.

one of my mom's best friends and i went on a cupcake adventure to Crave, a cupcake bakery that opened up downtown more than a few months ago. and upon entering this beautiful bright pink building, i felt like i was transported back to my Chicago days of cupcake bakeries on every corner and cupcakes of every flavor.

i think i might have freaked out the girl working that day. Miss Sue and i were over the top with excitement. who gets this excited over cupcakes? *points to self* um, this girl. this girl gets overly excited. 

and i ended up buying a half dozen - for me, dad and my sister, of course. not entirely all for me. *wink* i came home with an oreo (for me!), maple bacon (up for grabs!), red velvet (for me!), peanut butter (for me!), banana pudding (for daddy!), and coconut (for ashley!). oh, my goodness - i indulged in the PB (so good!) and the Red Velvet one today (heavenly! to die for!). i cannot wait to try the Oreo one next. i'll see if i can wait it out till tomorrow...

i'm thinking that i might have to venture on another Crave cupcake adventure very, very soon. anyone care to join? 
i'll try not to freak you (or anyone else) out with my cupcake giddiness. 

i said i'd try. not making any promises.

much love.
{happy thursday, friend.}

p.s. two sweet giveaways happening HERE and oh, yes HERE.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

caaa-razy awesome february group GIVEAWAY.

little things make me giddy.
cupcakes. lipstick. Starbucks. a new book.
but even bigger things make me go caaaa-raaazy.
like this sweet line-up of giveaways from my incredible February sponsors
i have a feeling that you, my friend, might just go caaaa-raaazy yourself.

meet Simply Audrey Boutique
and find them via shop / facebook / blog / twitter
giving away $30 store credit!

exclusive discount - FREE SHIPPING on all domestic orders with coupon code MUCHLOVEILLY

meet Sandy of Sandyalamode
and find her via blog / twitter / bloglovin'
giving away 3 months of standard sponsorship ($50 value)!

meet Tricia of Mama Marchand's Nest/Mama's Nest Designs.
and find her via blog / shop / twitter / facebook 
giving away $20 shop credit and Large Ad space ($30 total value)!

exclusive discount - use coupon code ILLY20 for 20% off of your entire order

meet Kristen of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
and find her via blog / twitter
giving away $50 Customized blog layout!
(check out her portfolio HERE!)

meet Laura of Along for the Ride
and find her via blog / shop / twitter / facebook
giving away $30 shop credit

exclusive discount - use coupon code LOVEILLY20 for 20% off your entire order

meet Holly of HollyDolly
and find her via shop / blog / twitter
giving away HollyDolly's Polka Dot Detachable Collar and a Colorful Mini Bow Necklace (valued at $32)! 

meet Kenye of Glow Kouture
and find her via blog / shop / facebook / twitter
giving away a Dots in Persimmon Wallet Clutch and 1 month of Large Ad Space for April 2012!

meet Dannielle of Red Rag Designs
and find her via blog / shop / facebook
giving away a set of 3 crochet flower clips ($20 value) and 3 months of Large Ad space ($25 value)

exclusive discount - use coupon code DEAL 10 for 10% off of your entire order


everything just about makes you swoon, doesn't it?
one more thing to make you swoon, friends:
one very lucky Much Love, illy reader gets the chance to be WINNER TAKE ALL!
say whaaaat?! yup, all of it, peeps. 

{how to enter:}

be a GFC follower of this blog!
(mandatory entry - that's it!)

{really, really wanna win?}
additional entries - keep in separate comments to count as individual entries

- follow, like, or heart any of the listed links and lemme know for which sponsor
- tweet, blog, or facebook about the giveaway and lemme know you did

feel free to copy/paste the following tweet:
i love me some shopping, blogging and handmade so i entered the caaa-raaazy Feb GIVEAWAY over @muchloveilly!

Giveaway is open to ALL Much Love, illy readers thru March 6th.
Winner will be announced on March 7th. 

much love.
{happy wednesday, friend.}

Monday, February 27, 2012

wild hearts can't be broken.

 dress: c/o Simply Audrey / neon chain necklace: c/o Le Mode Accessories / black tights: c/o We Love Colors / Vance booties: c/o Blowfish Shoes / lipstick: Revlon Lip butter Candy Apple

horses will always make me think of that Disney movie - anyone else remember it? 
where the country girl meets the caaa-uuute horse trainer and his dad - and she ends up going blind but still tries to manage life and the horse diving stunt? i remember when we were little, my sister and i pretended to mount imaginary horses in my dad's study - blind-folded. awesome. good thing, we never hit our heads on his bookshelf or desk. 

we'd probably have more than broken hearts to deal with.

much love.
{happy tuesday, friend.}

p.s. are you Rach (#67) of Modest Musings? 'cause you just won the Jessica N Designs giveaway - woohoo! shoot me an email at muchloveilly at gmail dot com to claim your prize! congrats to Rach and thank YOU, Jessica N Designs!

sponsor love + giveaway with Rags to Stitches.

meet Alissa of Rags to Stitches. 

Hi friends! My name is Alissa and I have a little blog and shop called Rags to Stitches. I'm so excited to be hanging out with Illene and her amazing friends today. I'm a wife of one, momma of two and I'm totally passionate about my family. I love to sing in the shower, blast my music in my car and I'm a totally coffee addict. My blog is about life, love, fashion and family. I love to blog about what's on my heart and hope to one day leave behind a legacy for my children so they can look back on all the wonderful things we did while they were growing up. Can you tell I'm totally not a scrapbooker? hehe I also have a little shop where I create cuddly and cozy cases for your favorite electronics. 

In fact, I have a BRAND NEW iPad Snuggie design launching on March 19th. I'm beyond excited and totally in love with it. It's fabulous I promise, ask Illene, she's seen the sneak peek. I hope you'll sign up for my newsletter because you'll get a sneak peek before it launches on March 19th along with a special discount. So fun, right?! I know! So don't forget to sign up.


if you are not already following Alissa and her adorable blog and shop, make that happen STAT. you will fall in love with her beautiful family, her weekly coffee dates, and her cute creations (loving the laptop snuggie in the above photo - don't you?!) . i'm also in love with the snuggie designs and the new ones coming up in March! and today one of YOU Much Love, illy readers get a chance to snag $25 Rags to Stitches shop credit!

{how to enter:}

subscribe to the Rags to Stitches newsletter
(mandatory entry)

{really, really wanna win?}
additional entries - keep in separate comments to count as individual entries

follow the Rags to Stitches blog through Hello Cotton!
visit the Rags to Stitches Shop and comment on what you would spend the shop credit on if you win! (1 entry)
- be a public GFC follower of this blog (1 entry)
- follow @Ragstostitches and @muchloveilly via Twitter (1 entry)
- blog, tweet or facebook about this giveaway and include the link in your comment (1 entry)

feel free to copy/paste the following tweet:
i heart @RagstoStitches so i entered her sweet giveaway over @muchloveilly's bloggity-blog!

{don't wanna wait?}
use coupon code MUCHLOVEILLY for 15% off of your entire Rags to Stitches order! 

Giveaway is open to US Much Love, illy readers thru March 5th.
Winner will be announced on March 6th.

much love.
{happy monday, friend.}

Saturday, February 25, 2012

dear shamrock shake.

 top: UO / jeans: Belk / sunglasses: Forever 21 / necklace: c/o My Remedy Design
tote bag: c/o Fabric and Handle / boots: c/o Blowfish Shoes / lipstick (daphne) : c/o Radiant Cosmetics 

thank you for finally making an appearance for me at Mickey Dee's.
as much as i love you, i was getting really tired of trying to stalk track you down.
but i know miscommunication is a part of any relationship so i'm glad we got that figured out right away. and after an afternoon of packaging orders and running errands, you were the perfect way to top it all off.
the taste of you on my lips was - sigh - heavenly.

i love you. again. your stalker lover, ilene.

much love.
[happy weekend, friend.]

p.s. just a couple days left to enter the sweet giveaway happening HERE! 

Thursday, February 23, 2012


maybe there are days that i wish Mickey Dee's would deliver - especially if they could deliver shamrock shakes all year round.
maybe i do love having more creamer than coffee in my cup of Joe's.
maybe i get really, really, really reaked out over having to deal with insurance and internet companies over the phone.
maybe i wish that i could rap - like Nikki Minaj (as strange and Lady Gaga-wannabe that she is, that woman has talent).
maybe i still get giddy whenever i receive an etsy transaction email notification.
maybe i loved Kristen Bell's sloth video so much is because i can relate to crying on every level of emotional, happy or sad.
maybe i have a growing obsession over pink lipstick (and just last year, i thought i'd never be able to wear red lipstick).
maybe i would audition for American Idol just so that i could meet Ryan Seacrest - or The Voice, for Adam Levine.
maybe i wish our little town would finally open up a frozen yogurt place.
maybe i've thought about trying a juice fast but as soon as the Girl Scot cookies nab my attention, i know that i would fail. miserably.

but only maybe.
much love.
{happy friday, friend.}

p.s. a darling giveaway you don't wanna miss!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


cardi, asymmetrical skirt, belt : forever 21 / floral top: urban outfitters / tights: tjmaxx / hanakai wedges: c/o Blowfish Shoes / earrings: c/o Le Mode Accessories /lipstick (reef): c/o Radiant Cosmetics 

so last week while ryan and i were together, we had an argument. 
okay, not really. it was more of a discussion over when was our actual first date. 

- Ryan's point of view: first date is the first time you ever take a girl out - even if it's on a whim.
- my point of view: first date is when you ask the girl out, set a date, and take her out.

here's the story (i'll share the longer version one day. promise): Ryan and I met at a college in Chicago - he was a graduate student, I was an employee. So we randomly ran into each other but we never really crossed paths. There were a couple of occasions where he had to stop by my office to ask campus-related questions (every time he did, I always got so giddy - but with my job, I knew how to hide my emotions and be professional) or I would run into him in the Commons area where students and employees ate. 

One Saturday afternoon, I was taking a walk around downtown Chicago (something I miss about the city) and ran into him at a Starbucks where he was studying. We chatted for a couple of minutes and then he asked if I had already grabbed lunch. I had not (and I'm sure even if I had, I would have said no so that this hot graduate student could ask me out). He gathered his books and asked me where I'd like to go for lunch. Of course, this whole time I was just trying to act cool but inside my heart was racing a million miles an hour. And for those of you that know me will not be surprised when I suggested Chipotle (hehe - snort). We made it to Chipotle and of course, he bought me lunch (I remember not feeling hungry at all -as much as I'm obsessed with those beautiful, chunky burrito bowls). About a half hour later, my phone starts ringing. I pick it up and notice that I've missed several phone calls from my roommate. Oh, crap. I was supposed to meet her and another friend for a Target run um, a half hour ago. In my excitement and fluster, I totally forgot and excused myself from my lunch date. I felt really bad (and I still feel bad to this day) how I had to apologize and leave Ryan hanging at Chipotle alone. I remember running back to my apartment, slapping myself on my forehead. Stupid. Stupid. This guy will never ask me out ever again.

so you can see why I do not want to remember this as date #1.
my brain refuses to allow it 'cause i always think of this situation as date #1.

A few days later, back on campus in my office, Ryan stops by the office to "say hi." Once again, my little heart stops beating and offer him a seat. We chat for a bit (my boss was super cool and let me have friends drop by - and it was late afternoon, so most of the busyness had cooled down). I do remember how good he looked that day. He wore a suit because he had just finished a presentation in class. I also remember how crappy I looked and felt. It was a bad allergy day and all I could think about with him sitting in front of me is how red my nose must have looked. (Later on, I asked him about my nose and laughed, saying how he doesn't even remember me looking like that. Trust me. I did.) 

He then asked me what I was doing that weekend and asked if he could me out to dinner. Inside I was thinking heck, yes!, my inner self screaming and jumping for joy - but I ended up saying (fighting to be cool), "Um, I might be babysitting so I might need to have to get back to you about dinner?" (Babysitting?! Yes, I did have a babysitting job on the side - but why did I say that of all things?! Oh, yes because this girl gets really uncool when hot guys ask her out.) 

Long story short, I give him my number, he calls me up and we go out that Friday night. I was a nervous wreck (called my bff and said what the heck is wrong with me? i've gone out on dates before. I think I already knew deep down there was something different about this guy - a good different.)  We end up having the best first date ever. He took me to The Melting Pot where we ate and talked from 6pm to 1am. We really didn't even realize the time go by so quickly! He actually was about to take me out to a nearby Starbucks but when we stood up the waiters started clapping their hands and applauded us for having the longest date ever. We were shocked when we looked at our watches! He ended up not going to Starbucks because they were already closed - but he did ask me out to date #2. 

so yes, that in my opinion was date #1.

so for those that made it to the end of the novel of a post (i applaud you!) what do YOU think should be considered date #1?
either way, we laugh over both dates because they both bring back funny and good memories.
and we ended up together at the end of the story and that's all that really matters.

much love.
[happy wednesday, friend.]

p.s. be sure to enter the Jessica N Designs giveaway happening HERE

Monday, February 20, 2012

mah heart is full.

 heart sweatshirt, red heart ring: forever 21 / boyfriend jeans: GAP
natalia flats: c/o Blowfish Shoes / nailpolish: Loreal cafe prive / feather clip: Rayna Jaye

so roll your eyes if you wish, but this girl is still on a cloud after having spent a mini vacation in GA with the fiance and his sweet family. days were filled with just being together. i loved every single second i spent with that man. we ran errands together, i was happy. we inhaled combo plates at Panda Express and watched movies, i was happy. we also got the chance to spend time with Ryan's family and do another mini photo shoot with his adorable niece (i'll have to share her precious photos super soon! she has gotten so big and beautiful!).

and continue to roll those eyes and laugh at us if you wish, but we also have this mad addiction to Nickelodeon and Disney channel shows. when we lived in Chicago, i used to go over to  Ryan's apartment and we'd cook dinner together while watching an i-Carly or a Wizards of Waverly episode. so during my visit, Ryan tivo-ed some i-Carly so we could sneak in an episode or two a day. 

hey, now. no judging. 
but like i said, i'm on a cloud and mah heart is full. 
so judge if you wish. i'm one happy gal.

much love.
{happy tuesday, friend.}

p.s. are you Lulu of Olesia Flegka (#206) 'cause you just won the amazing Shopkempt giveaway! shoot me an email at muchloveilly at gmail dot com to claim your prize! congrats to Lulu and thank YOU to the incredible people of Shopkempt! 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

CLOSED - sponsor love + giveaway with Jessica N Designs.

meet jessica of Jessica N Designs.

"Hello! I'm Jessica, creator of jessicandesigns. I am a Wife, Mommy of 3, Romantic, Dreamer. I am Lover of Jesus, my family, vintage, country music, coffee, books, lip gloss, designing & movie nights with my Hubby. On my blog, I love to share my designs, my love of pretty things, my love for the handmade community & all the inspiration I gather. I give new life to vintage silverware & create unique & meaningful hand stamped jewelry in my shop! I would love to have you stop by & say Hi!"


i get a kick out of just about anything personalized - and her coffee spoons in her shop HERE, you have to check out! they are the cutest with the most adorable of sayings. and i love anything with hearts and hearts most certainly make their appearances in everything in her shop! looking for anything for weddings, gardens, the special ladies in your life, then look no further - this is IT, folks! 

and so i am totally wishing that i was you to get the sweet chance at Jessica N Designs' generous giveaway of a $30 shop credit & Large Ad Space on the Jessica N Designs blog! talk about a spicy deal - gotta love it!

{how to enter:}

visit the Jessica N Designs shop and comment below on what you would spend the shop credit on if you win!

{really, really wanna win?}
additional entries - keep in separate comments to count as individual entries

- be a public GFC blog follower of this blog (1 entry)
- be a public GFC follow of the Jessica N Designs blog (1 entry)
- follow Jessica N Designs via Facebook (1 entry)
- follow @Jessicandesigns and @muchloveilly via Twitter (1 entry)
- blog, tweet, OR facebook about this giveaway and include the link in your comment (1 entry)

feel free to copy/paste the following tweet:
i love giving vintage new life, so i wanna win the @JessicaNDesigns giveaway over @muchloveilly's blog!

{don't wanna wait?}
use coupon code MUCHLOVE for 15% off of your entire Jessica N Designs order!

Giveaway is open to ALL Much Love, illy readers* thru February 27th.
Winner will be announced on February 28th.
*as requested by sponsor, an international winner will be asked to pay $5 to cover for shipping/handling.

much love.
{happy monday, friend.}

dear bloggity-blog.

crazy to think that it's been two years since this first post.
but here we are - moving forward to year #2! 
*squeal* and *happy dance action*
you are my fave and can't wait to see what this next year brings us!

p.s. lil' blog, we're gonna have a blogiversary party real soon. 
doesn't mean momma doesn't love you 'cause she sure freakin' does.

but for now, celebrate birthday #2 with this shop coupon code BLOGBDAY20 
for 20% off of your entire Much Love, illy shop order! 

much love.
{happy 2nd blogiversary, lil' blog.}

Saturday, February 18, 2012


being with my fiance for four whole days.
three stories of H+M goodness.
cobalt blue pants that Ryan thinks are hawt.
jumping pictures.
salted caramel hot chocolate.
mint green nailpolish.
snail mail letters and packages.
girl scout cookies.
Glad You Came by The Wanted.
art journaling.

what's on your happiness list?

much love.
[happy weekend, friend.]

p.s. just a couple more days to enter this suh-weet giveaway!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

and then there was light, valentine red tights, chipotle, and frozen yogurt.

Ryan knows me well. we've celebrated 5 Valentine's Days together so he knows what floats my little boat. and what he had planned for us this year totally floated my boat. he surprised me with tickets to Dialogue in the Dark, where you basically experience life well, in the dark. i'm not going to give too much away - in case there are some locals who want to experience this for themselves - but seriously, as weird as it was, it made me think about what someone without his/her sight experiences every single day. so during that hour of darkness, you really had to rely on all of your other senses to make it through each of the various scenarios - whether it was finding a tree in a park (you could actually feel the grass and the mulch) or finding the change in your pocket to purchase a drink at a cafe. so wild, right?! 

the rest of the day, we enjoyed walking around Atlantic Station (where Dialogue was at) - even popped into an H+M (we don't have one in SC - boo - and it's one of my fave places to shop). after that, we headed home and i changed into one of my favorite black dresses and rocked out in some red tights and we made our way to my all time favorite places to go to when i'm in Atlanta with Ryan (next to Panda Express, of course), Chipotle! seriously, this place is heaven to me and i would pick it over any fancy-smanchy restaurant. again, we don't have one in SC, so i savor it every time i can get my taste buds on a burrito bowl. it also brings back a lot of good Chicago memories for me and Ryan. 

and last but not least, we split a big cup of delish frozen mango and classic tart yogurt, topped with a TON of fruit (including these cool, weird strawberry poppers), and headed home to watch the most romantic movie in the world. wait for it...wait for it...Breaking Dawn, part I. just me, Ryan, and oh, dear Edward. 

on a serious note, i was just happy to be with Ryan.
we could have read phone books out loud for Valentine's Day and i would've been the happiest girl in the world 'cause i was with him.

best Valentine's Day ever.
but i think i say that every year.
i must have a pretty darn good Valentine then.

much love.
{happy thursday, friend.}

p.s. are you Cat Song (#87) 'cause you just won the Stitched + Adorned giveaway! shoot me an email at muchloveilly at gmail dot com to claim your prize. congrats to Cat and thank YOU, Stitched + Adorned for a fantastic giveaway!