Thursday, November 29, 2012

With a Little Help from My Friends: All-time Favorite Christmas Album

i know this is all a matter of preference, but i would have to say that by this point, it's pretty legit to start blasting the Christmas music. whether or not you have been listening to the holiday tunes since November 1st or are waiting till the calender flips to December 1st, i think this week's edition of With A Little Help From My Friends, will be an extra special treat as we talk about our all time favorite albums! 

What is your favorite Christmas album of all-time and why?

to be honest, i had the hardest time nailing down one all time favorite Christmas album (and i'm the one who came up with the dang question!) - but i have to say that Michael Buble's Christmas album will be a  personal favorite for a very long time. his soulful voice and choice of Christmas songs will certainly make this CD a classic in my book! 

kelly ann of The Flowerchild Dwelling 

While you'll definitely see me dancing around during the holidays to Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, The Beach Boys, and the best of all: NSync (you know their Christmas album rocks your world every year) - I connect with Sufjan's Songs For Christmas on a deeper level. It's a magical, heartfelt, unconventional, and meaningful album that will either have you toe tappin' (I Saw Three ShipsGet Behind Me Santa!) or pausing during the holiday rush for some moments of peace and reflection. (Sister WinterAmazing Grace) Not to mention, Sufjan's beautiful cover of Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing (my favorite hymn) will give you goosebumps and tug at your heartstrings.

tiffany of Dancing Branflake.

I'm a total Beatles girl and I love The Beatles tribute band, Fab Four. Fab Four came out with a Christmas album that will knock your socks off. Way off. Cue nonstop dance party!!!

sandy of Sandyalamode.

I love Mariah Carey's Merry Christmas album, with "All I Want For Christmas Is You" as my absolute fave Christmas song!  Since this album came out almost over a decade ago, I feel like I've grown up with it so when I hear it on the radio, I get a little bit of a nostalgic feeling.  Mariah's voice is just so amazing and as cheesy as it might sound, this album just warms my heart (well all Christmas music does really)!

chelsea of Tea Talk.

 My favorite Christmas CD of all time would have to be Holidays Rule! This Christmas album was actually just recently released, but I love the musicians featured in it (including The Shins, Paul McCartney, and Fun). The whole album has a really great cozy and cheerful feel to it, and I know it's going to be a favorite for years to come.

kristine of A Colorful Reality.

Justin Bieber's Christmas album, Under the Mistletoe is still a favorite from last year! Makes me want to walk hand in hand with my husband in a quaint town while it's snowing...with a white chocolate peppermint mocha in my other hand!


i personally loved reading through this list. there were definitely a few of my own classic faves in this list, but then some brand new ones that i plan to download this weekend to jam to during this season! and i'm always on the lookout for new Christmas tunes to add to my playlist, so...

what about you, friend? what is YOUR all-time favorite Christmas album(s)?

*and if you are interested in previous editions to this series, click here and here.*

much love.
{happy friday, friend.}

calling all December Much Love, illy sponsors (with discounted rate!).

want to get extra exposure for your blog or buisness during the Christmas season?
think that you and i would be a fabulous a team as Santa and his elves?

and because i'm feeling like Santa these days, how about a discounted rate for Much Love, illy sponsorship - $5 off of the small ads and $10 off of the large ads (and this includes 3 month packages!)?! woohoo! shoot me an email at muchloveilly at gmail dot com for more information!

much love.
{happy thursday, friend.}

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

traditionally speaking.

i am not the most traditional girl you will ever meet. i love checking out the newest trends,  and i am all about thinking outside of the box, sometimes pushing the envelope a little further than necessary. but when it comes to christmas and the traditions my family has set from as far back as i can remember start to make their appearances during the holiday season, you can forget about the latest trends, boxes or the pushing of envelopes.

once the thanksgiving turkeys and pumpkins have been put away, you can expect our family to start pulling out the christmas decorations from the attic and playing the Christmas music around the house or on the car radio. the christmas tree with its ornaments (the ones where mom had each of us girls pick out one ornament to represent the year - and the funniest, cutest, and weirdest stories come from each of them, i promise you!)  and it's blinking lights, red and green dining room table cloth, the ceramic manager scene set with baby Jesus in hiding until Christmas morning, the nutcracker soldiers, and all of the other festive decor immediately graces our living room. and no one can forget dad and mom's labor over the bright, white lights that are lovingly wrapped around nearly every single tree trunk and bush of our front yard. and to say that we wait a day or two after thanksgiving to put up the Christmas decorations would be nothing short of a family offense.

and come Christmas eve and Christmas day, when the entire family is together, we have our own string of traditions that carry as far back as to when i was a little girl. we share many of the same traditions that you share - driving around town to look at the Christmas lights, sharing a Christmas dinner together, Christmas church service, reading the Christmas story before opening presents - and some not like yours - camping out in the living room with our mattresses and sleeping bags, watching the Home Alone movies only on Christmas day (the dvds get locked away for the next 364 days after that), and opening presents at midnight.

so today i sat in our living room, admiring the tree and drinking my mug of hot chocolate, i felt so happy and even more so grateful - grateful for traditions that we can return to every single year as a family.  i believe that traditions we share with those we love brings us back to a place that is constant and unchanging. even though the world around us is always on the move for the latest and greatest, there are a few things in this world that we can hold on to and if we have the chance to hold on to them (like traditions), we should hold on to them tightly and never let them go.

what about you, friend? what traditions have you held on to with your family or friends? or maybe a new tradition you might be kick-starting this year?

much love.
{happy wednesday, friend.}

Monday, November 26, 2012

sponsor love + giveaway with Vintage Urban Renewal.

meet vintage urban renewal.

We sell boho, chic vintage clothing, shoes and accessories. we use live models and really try to 
blend "boho" tough with a little "chic" sweet to show you new ways to combine vintage eras and 
styles. We love what we do and are blessed  to do it every day in the rural, Pacific Northwest.

the variety of vintage goodness in this shop is mesmerizing! i am absolutely smitten by the denim vest they sent me (in above photo), and the packaging it came in was absolutely darling - like opening up a gift for myself! if you have a soft spot for vintage but don't wanna have to do the hunting yourself, Vintage Urban Renewal does the hunting for you, showcasing only the very best! 


my friends from Vintage Urban Renewal are giving one of you lucky readers the chance to win a whopping $50 Vintage Urban Renewal gift certificate! talk about a stellar giveaway - just in time to get yourself or someone special something for the holiday shopping season! 

{how to enter:}

Visit the Vintage Urban Renewal  and comment on what you would spend the shop credit on if you win! 

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

- Favorite the Vintage Urban Renewal shop via Etsy (1 entry)
- be a public GFC follower of this blog (1 entry)
- Like the Vintage Urban Renewal Facebook page (1 entry)
- follow @muchloveilly and @vintageurban via Twitter (1 entry)
- tweet, blog or facebook about this giveaway and include the link (1 entry)

feel free to copy/paste the following tweet:
crossing my fingers to win the @vintageurban $50 gift certificate giveaway over @muchloveilly's bloggity-blog!

Giveaway is open to ALL Much Love, illy readers until December 3rd.
Winner will be announced on December 4th.

much love.
{happy tuesday, friend.}

Sunday, November 25, 2012

when a wise man's words ring oh so true.

 poncho: Belk / pants: borrowed from my sister / mint tank: Forever 21 / boots (last season): c/o Blowfish Shoes / necklace: c/o Maya Brenner / lipstick (moxie): c/o Radiant Cosmetics / nails (passion fruit): Orly

this is one of my most favorite times of the year - when the holiday season kicks off with a bang and it's all still fresh and exciting (stress? what stress?!). when you start watching Christmas movies and listen to Christmas music twenty-four seven. when it's just completely wrong not to top your coffee with whip cream and red and green sprinkles. when over-sized sweaters and leggings are essential so that you have that elasticity for those extra wonderfully, sinfully delicious amount of extra sugary calories. when you sneak around the house, dodging family members, pretending that the pouch under your shirt is the third slice of pumpkin pie you ate and not their Christmas present. when weekends are filled with holiday travels, musicals, and parties. when sitting in the living room with the only lights coming from the Christmas tree is totally blissful - and don't forget to squint your eyes nearly shut (not all the way) so that the stars come out to play. when the words of one wise man by the name of Andy Williams ring oh so true, it's (truly) the most wonderful time of the year! 

much love.
{happy monday, friend.}

p.s don't forget! it's the last day to take advantage of all of the amazing coupon codes in the Much Love, illy Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2012 Shopping Guide! click HERE or on the bright red boots on the top of the  left hand side of the screen. 

AND if you are Bara (#49), you just won the Dawnelle Sarlo giveaway! shoot me an email at muchloveilly at gmail dot com with your scarf of choice and your mailing address so we can get your prize to you ASAP! congrats to Bara and thank you, Dawnelle for a fabulous giveaway! 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

it's not just my belly that's full today.

feeling grateful for so many things today - for my incredible Lord Jesus, for all of this thanksgiving food in my belly right now, for my beautiful family, for my loving and amazing fiance, for girlfriends, for this blog + biz, for coffee, for my Frontlines small group girls, for laughter, for good health, for cupcakes, and i really could go on and on. it's not only my belly that is feeling full right now - but my heart literally could burst in gratefulness to God and His faithfulness to me in this past year. my life is far from perfect, but i have witnessed God's work in my life in more ways than one in the past year - so i cannot deny His goodness in my life. and for that, i am so grateful!

"I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds." Psalm 9:1

much love.
{happy thanksgiving, friend!}

Monday, November 19, 2012

Much Love, illy Black Friday + Cyber Monday 2012 Shopping Guide!

don't wanna leave your thanksgiving meal early to make it the earliest of black friday specials?
or to have to work your early morning rising skills at the crack of dawn?

then you don't have to! here is your one-stop guide of the best of your favorite online shops have to offer for Black Friday, Turkey Weekend and Cyber Monday sales and coupon codes! my fabulous sponsors and i partnered to post these earlier enough so you can map out your shopping weekend from the comfort of your bed in PJs or while you start watching Christmas movies on your couch - while you might still be recovering from all that turkey and pumpkin pie! 


Friday, November 23 through Saturday, November 24th // coupon code: BLACKOUT for 20% off of your entire order! 
Monday, November 26th // code: CYBER for 25% off of your entire order!   

midnight PST, Friday, November 23rd through midnight, PST Saturday, November 24th // coupon code: HOLIDAY for 20% off of your entire order! 
Monday, November 26th // coupon code: GUIDE25 for 15% off of your entire order! 

*orders over $75 receive a free zippered pouch!*

use coupon code MUCHLOVE at checkout for a FREE Pressed Powder with any purchase exclusively to ALL Much Love, illy readers! code valid thru November 26th.

Friday, November 23 thru Monday, November 26 // use coupon code BLACKCYBER for 20% off of your entire order! 

now through November 25th, 12am EST // use coupon code WINTER15 for 15% off of your entire order! 

*orders over $30 will receive a free gift when you enter coupon code FREE GIFT in the notes to seller box at checkout! expires November 25th, 12am EST. 

rules + regulations:  if using a coupon code with this promotion then items in cart must total $30 or more AFTER a coupon code is applied and BEFORE shipping fees. If not using a coupon code with this promotion then items in cart must total $30 or more BEFORE shipping fees.

just dawnelle.

Friday-Sunday // use coupon code BLACKFRIDAYLOVE for 15% off of your entire order!
Monday // use coupon code CYBERMONDAYLOVE for 20% off of your entire order!

Le Mode Accessories.

Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday // use coupon code THANKFUL for 20% off of your entire order (valid only to US residents)!

Thanksgiving thru Friday, November 23th // use coupon code BLACKFRIDAY35 for 35% off of your entire order!
Saturday, November 24th + Sunday, November 25th // use coupon code TURKEYWKEND20 for 20% off of your entire order! also all orders over $30 receive a FREE pair of rose earrings!
Cyber Monday // use coupon code CYBERMONDAY for 25% off of your entire order! 


what did i tell ya, good people? only the best of the best! thank you to my fabulous sponsors for making this such an amazing guide! and if you are like me, i'm eyeing more than a couple of these shops to kick start my Christmas shopping for those special people in my lives. how about you?! 

i'd love it if you could spread the word of this Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping guide! feel free to copy/paste the following tweet:
check out the @muchloveilly Black Friday + Cyber Monday 2012 Shopping Guide to kick start your Christmas shopping here!

and for easy access to this guide all weekend long, at the tippy-top of the left hand side of this page, you'll find the bright hunter red boots button to lead you back to this post! 

much love.
{happy shopping, friend.}

Sunday, November 18, 2012


 blazer: Forever 21 / scarf: Charming Charlies / dress (last season): c/o Stiched and Adorned / tights: c/o We Love Colors / wedged booties (India) : c/o Blowfish Shoes

dear pumpkin pie, turkey, stuffing, and all that thanksgiving goodness. i cannot wait for you to get into my belly this thursday. 

dear edward, bella, renessme, jacob, entire cullen clan, charlie (should i go on and on?). you all made me tear up, gasp, scream, and made my heart hurt a little bit a lot. and in trying to convince myself that twilight is not over for forever, i re-read some of twilight before bed last night. best.idea.ever.

dear christmas movies. cannot wait to get the movie marathons going full on the day after thanksgiving. we are talking all the home alone movies, the holiday, the grinch, a christmas story, jingle all the way, elf,  and oh, so many more! 

dear last friday night. the mani/pedi night with the high school girls from my small group and church youth group turned out to be a total blast. i'm still loving and rocking my zebra striped grass green finger nail, thanks to sarah (most talented 8th grade nail artist i know - she is legit!). 

dear niece or nephew inside of my sister's belly. thanks for staying still enough for the doctor to take the first picture of you - eeeek! 

dear target christmas lady. i have not yet seen one Target commercial featuring you. you better not have gone into retirement without us knowing. you are my black friday hero. do not let me down.

much love.
{happy monday, friend.}

Thursday, November 15, 2012

with a little help from my friends: Team Edward or Team Jacob?

I introduced this mini series last week, where I will introduce a variety of topics or questions, some serious and some-not from a variety of friends and readers. I loved reading everyone's thankful lists, and you can check out that post HERE. I always love hearing from different people from different backgrounds with different tastes, and I think that is what makes blog world so unique! I am also hoping that by featuring some of these bloggers, you will discover new blogs and make new friends! Enjoy!


if you know me or have followed this blog for some time now, know that i am a die hard twihard. (so if you cannot stand this series or a bunch of twihards fangirling, then now might be the time you might want to make your exit. don't say i didn't warn you. *wink*) so with the release of Breaking Dawn: Part 2 tonight at 10PM (yes, seems like everything is getting earlier and earlier releases these days - i mean, did you hear that Black Friday is getting pushed back to 8PM in some stores this year? craziness!), i thought it would be fun to hear from some fellow twihards and their answers to the question we have been asked since the release of the books: 

are you Team Edward or Team Jacob?

Team Edward all the way - since day one of reading the books! Edward's love for Bella was always sacrificial and selfless. I am also a sucker (no pun intended) for a complete gentleman - his "old fashioned ways" would have totally swept me off of my feet!

I am MOST DEFINITELY TEAM EDWARD. I love him and Bella together, and I think he worked really hard to keep her safe and happy. The chemistry between them is insane, and I can't imagine her with anyone else! Jacob just doesn't do it for me!

natalia of Ma Nouvelle Mode

TEAM EDWARD!!!!!! Although I'm not sure I could ever date him, he's sexy and strong, and caring and sexy. The whole mysterious vampire thing works too. I just like how he's cool, calm, & collected. Did I mention he's sexy? :)

krysten of Why Girls Are Weird.

 Team Edward! What can I say, I like my men a little old-fashioned. Plus, he's been around so decades so he has to know what women want, right? Win win!

julie ann of Julie Ann Art.

I'm on Team Edward! And not just because he is played by the ever-so-dreamy Robert Pattinson (don't even get me started on KStew). I'm on Team Edward because of the passion he and Bella have. While yes, Bella loves Jacob too, I think a relationship needs that undeniable, "can't live without each other" desire.


okay, so there is an obvious verdict here: TEAM EDWARD across the boards! 
and such a fun batch of twihards we had here today, don't you think?! love these ladies!

now you're turn:

are you Team Edward or Team Jacob?
or if not a Twilight fan (congrats to you to make it this far through the post! you've impressed me!), what team are you rooting for? (this blog is friendly to all sorts of teams - Hunger Games, TV shows, sports teams, etc - so lemme hear you scream out your team!)

much love.
{happy friday, friend.}

p.s. are you Gina (#36) of Acute Designs 'cause you just won the WINNER'S CHOICE Blowfish Shoes giveaway! shoot me an email at muchloveilly at gmail dot com to claim your prize - and be sure to include your shoe choice, color/style, size and your mailing address so that we can get these babies off to you ASAP! congrats to Gina and thank you, Blowfish Shoes, for a stellar giveaway! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


 denim jacket: urban outfitters / tee, skirt, leggings: Forever21 / scarf: c/o Snowdrift Designs / rainboots: Hunter Boots 

wearing: this combination of clothing pieces again and again. skirt or short over leggings, denim jacket, Hunter boots, and a big scarf or cowl. we've had some gloomy days lately (and more of them to come this week, according to the good ole weather app), so i've remixed this outfit several times actually. (and if you look close enough, you can see the i voted sticker from last week.) i honestly don't know how i survived rainy days walking the streets of Chicago without these wellies (totally said with a British accent just now - dare you to read that word without saying it inn a British accent. see? what did i tell ya?)

reading: The Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick. i started this book last week and thought i'd be done reading it by now since i flew through all of the other books, two days each. it's not a terrible book but i just didn't get sucked into it like the others. i still recommend the Hush, Hush series to anyone who has a soft spot for teen fiction. i also have The Writing Life by Annie Dillard on my Kindle - nabbed it for $1.99 (still on sale, it looks like!) - and have heard nothing but good things about it. 

planning: my sister's (Kristine) baby shower - and the fact that Pinterest finally has secret boards makes it so much easier to gather ideas without the whole world (or my sister!) knowing what surprises i have up my sleeve. i have never planned a baby shower for anyone ever (attended quite a few of them) so i am super excited about this - especially since it's for my very own niece or nephew! 

looking forward to: seeing Breaking Dawn, Part 2 - aaaah! i cannot believe that this is it. i felt the same way when the Harry Potter movies ended, and now i have to go through that all over again. (and to all those critics, yes it is possible to be a Harry Potter and a Twilight fan.) 

listening to: One Directions' new album, Take Me Home. those British boys can saaaaaang, and i know that this new album will be on repeat many times in the coming days. i also cannot stop listening to Ellie Goulding, Taylor Swift, and Ed Sheeran - so much good music out there lately! 

realizing: that this whole post has a very teeny-bopper vibe to it. i probably should have been a teenager these days - or maybe i'm just young at heart. *and she runs off to listen to her British boys in her bright red British wellies.*

currently posts inspired by Danielle of Sometimes Sweet, who comes up with the best currently lists in the whole freaking world. if you create your own currently posts, be sure to leave me the link - i'd love to see! 

much love.
{happy wednesday, friend.}

p.s.  are you Sarah (#31) 'cause you just won The Wiegand's giveaway! shoot me an email at muchloveilly at gmail dot com to claim your prize - and be sure to let me know if you prefer the Large ad space or Casey's beautiful artwork. if you prefer the artwork, please include your mailing address. congrats to Sarah and thank you, Casey, for a fabulous giveaway! 

Monday, November 12, 2012

sponsor love + giveaway with Just Dawnelle.

meet Dawnelle of Just Dawnelle.

why hello. my name is Dawnelle. i am considered many things, mother and wife are at the top of the list. but you must not forget lover of sharpies, chief nose wiper, avid obsessor of texture and fabric, bohemian lover, interior designer, laundress, and the best book reader ever. i write about my sweet family and my life... what i think, feel, love, believe, do and obsess over.

{dawnelle is rocking some Much Love, illy swag, the goldenrod poppy garland shop favorite!}

and not only is Dawnelle the inspiring blogger behind Just Dawnelle - she always runs an adorable etsy shop stocked up with uh-mazing, colorful scarves like this one and that one, two of my favorites! she also has a variety of beautiful leather wrap beaded bracelets and funky, guitar pick earrings to choose from! so fun, right?! 


absolutely gorgeous, right?! i can't stop staring at the polka dot one! well, get excited, people 'cause Dawnelle is giving away ANY scarf in her shop, total winner's choice! (um, can i just raise my hand and say i wish i was a reader 'cause i want one?!) stretch out those fingers and start typing away!

{how to enter:}

be a public GFC follower of Just Dawnelle!
(mandatory entry)

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

- visit Just Dawnelle's etsy shop and tell me which scarf you would pick if you win!
- be a public GFC follower of this blog ( 1 entry) 
- heart Just Dawnelle's etsy shop (1 entry)
- Like Just Dawnelle's Facebook page (1 entry)
- follow @muchloveilly and @dawnellesarlo via Twitter (1 entry)
- tweet, blog or facebook about this giveaway and include its link (1 entry)

feel free to copy/paste the following tweet:
crossing my fingers to win any gorgeous scarf from @DawnelleSarlo's shop on @muchloveilly's bloggity-blog!

{don't wanna wait?}
get your Christmas shopping done early! 
use coupon code ILLYLOVE for 15% off of your entire Just Dawnelle shop order!

Giveaway is open to ALL Much Love, illy readers thru Tuesday, November 20th.
Winner will be announced on Wednesday, November 21st.

much love.
{happy monday, friend.}

Veteran's Day snapshots + a thank you to our veterans.

{pictures from our family's day at the Veteran's Day Parade downtown - we are so proud of our dad!} 

 growing up as a navy brat, i have always had a soft spot in my heart for the US armed forces. i grew up knowing that they were not just men and women who marched around all day in sharp looking uniforms,  learning how to shoot guns; rather, they were men and women who laid their lives down on the line every single day for the love of our great country. our country's freedom came at a cost, and we must recognize that it continues to come at a cost. it's not for free. so be sure to thank the Veterans (those who are currently served and our serving) who you may know and let them know that you appreciate their sacrifice.

so many, many thanks to my dad (who served 26 years in the US Navy - go navy!) and to all the men and the women who have served and are currently serving! we love you! 

much love.
{happy veteran's day, friend.}