"the more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate."
this is my 150th post and i'm happy to report that i still feel as though i am truly the luckiest girl in the world. there are so many reasons i feel lucky and grateful to live the life that i do but it's mostly because of the special relationships i have with everyone in my life.
i have my wonderful loving family with my awesome parents and thoughtful brother. i also lucked out and i am part of my bf's amazing family as well. i love them like my own family! on top of that i feel like i'm part of all of my friend's families - all of my high school friends have great parents that welcome me with open arms into their homes and i love spending time with all of them! i feel so lucky to be part of so many families.
i have a job that i enjoy and i get to work with people that i enjoy, that challenge me, acknowledge my successes and support me and my efforts.
i volunteer with interesting and interested senior citizens. they share some very fascinating and sometimes wacky stories with me and they are always excited to hear about my life. when i walk in to play bingo on mondays and i'm greeted with a smile and a big "well, hello jennifer" from my favorite buddy lee i can't help but smile back.
and my friends. what would i do without all of my friends? when i sit back and think - i'm shocked at how big my friend circle has expanded. i am so grateful to still be thick as thieves with my high school gals and so glad that many of them are now close with my college gals. all of them are always there to listen, plan fun activities, try new things, take little trips, share secrets, keep secrets, laugh till it hurts, support me, party hard and just be really good friends. i always have fun with all of my girls and i can't wait to continue to have the times of our lives together.
and lastly my true love! we're almost at 8.5 years together!!! i couldn't be happier with where we're at. we've grown up together and taken our own path to get to where we are today. i love that we do everything our way and that we figure everything out together. i love that when we're together it feels like home no matter where we are. i love that we still laugh together and that we're always trying new things and that even if we're sitting on the couch just laying low it still brings us both happiness. i am so grateful for rob's patience, kindness, support and of course his love!
i realize that it's already almost a new weekend but i still want to report about my nice weekend in minnesota. rob and i carpooled with his dad, little bro and his gf to the twin cities for their cousin's wedding. we didn't get in until late on friday but we had the whole day saturday to do fun stuff. we got to grab brunch with one of our hunky dory friends that lives in the area which was so fun! after we ate we made a trip to the como zoo. the fall colors there were so much more vibrant than they are here in illinois - as you can see in the photo above! i was really enjoying being outside in the unusually hot weather and beautiful scenery. the zoo kind of reminds me of the lincoln park zoo since it's free and some exhibits are a bit odd. like the tiger in a grassy knoll with a baby pool or the huge habitat for 2 little foxes. regardless, it was really fun to see so many animals and spend time outside. our friend amanda had to head to a wedding a bit early so we said our goodbyes and then checked out the conservatory which was fairly uneventful so we went off to find mini golf nearby. i haven't played in so long and i had forgotten how fun it is! we had a good time and then headed back to the hotel for quick naps before the wedding. the wedding took place in a public park overlooking the mississippi river and beautiful trees. their cousin katelyn already married her husband bledi in albania this summer and they also did a courthouse wedding recently. this was more of a family celebration and party so his aunt patty and cousin kim led the ceremony. they did a very good job in honor of katelyn's grandma who was unable to be there. it was beautiful and very special. the reception was at a restaurant called brassa. the restaurant has a very cool vibe with windows that slide open like garage doors and really cool lights and different sized tables. they also had their wedding video from their albanian reception playing which was fun to see. the food was unbelievable! we had pulled pork, roasted chicken, cheesy grits, cornbread and all sorts of other stuff. we really loved it! i had a great time catching up with rob's family members at this special occasion. i feel so blessed to have more than one family to be part of. i'm so glad that we could make it! the twin cities sort of remind me of milwaukee. there seems to be a lot to do, it's got more nature than chicago and it still has a smaller city feel. i'd go back! here are a few of my favorite pics!
so i had another food filled extravaganza last week and i have a lot to report! it started on monday at the crossing's soft opening (www.crossingtavern.com). the crossing tavern is part of the four corners tavern group. my good friend, shalva works at brownstone so she got invited to the crossing's soft opening and invited me and my other friend, tara. the bar itself is really nice and spacious with tons of tvs. we sat down and were informed we could order whatever we wanted for free and our beers would be half off. we were in heaven. we got cheesy garlic bread which is made on their pizza crust - so tasty. then shalva ordered their signature meat covered pizza, i got a turkey ranch burger and tara got their korean tacos. the turkey burger was definitely my fave - i loved the seasoning and the sweet potato fries i got with it. the pizza was our least favorite and the tacos were just fine. we ended the night with a chocolate skillet cookie. it was ridiculously good and we ate every last bite. overall it was a great night with good bar food and even better girl talk.
the next night we had a high school girls dinner at longman and eagle (longmanandeagle.com). the servers were very helpful - they helped us figure out which drinks we'd like best and told us what they honestly thought about each menu item. we started with meatballs with creamy polenta, parsley pesto and fontina cheese fondu and a soft pretzel with welsh rarebit. the meatballs were divine - a tad too pesto-y for some but overall amazing. the pretzel was fine but the dipping sauce was fab! then i ordered the pork belly which came with hazelnut spaetzle, red cabbage and apple fennel conserve. MIND BLOWING. seriously probably the best thing i've eaten all year. the pork belly was crispy and the red cabbage complimented it perfectly, adding a little eastern euro flair. the hazlenut spaetzle was equally ridiculous and made the plate more modern and unique and the apple fennel conserve was a perfect sweet touch. we all tried bites off each other's plates and there wasn't anything i didn't like. it was a great meal. sometimes i wonder if the company makes the food taste even better :) i love these girls dearly and we always have amazing meals together.
on friday rob and i joined vanessa and tobi, their friend and nessa's sis val and her bf at chizakaya, the new japanese small plates place in lakeview that everyone is raving about. to be honest, i don't really remember what we ate but here's what i do remember - puffed pig ears (just like pork rinds), black endamame with sea salt, a taste of bone marrow, beef cheek, pork meatballs, beef sirlon with lime wasabi, a noodle dish with veggies - so yummie, fried corn fritter and a variety of other things. some stuff i loved, other stuff not so much. it was interesting and i'd try it again! i liked the vibe of the restaurant.
saturday morning i went to brunch at ann sathers with ness and part of her family, who i love! it was nice to spend the extra time with her before she left and eat the giant cinnamon rolls of course. later that night rob and i joined my family at pequods for my brother's birthday. he loved the pizza there, who doesnt!? it was just as good as i remembered and i was happy to give him a nice birthday.
i ended the weekend off with dinner at revolution brewing for my friend molly's birthday. i wasn't feeling so hot but i wouldn't miss the celebration for anything! we all shared bacon fat popcorn with crispy sage and shaved Parmesan. soooo good. then i got a mustard herb chicken sandwich with fontina cheese, arugula and roasted garlic. it was super flavorful and very tasty. i really liked it! then we ended with a red velvet cake made by her roomie that was super good!
by the end of a full week of dining out, i was in a definite food coma. i also had caught the flu along the way :( i'm still recovering but i'm pretty much better now and i'm looking forward to enjoying food again!