Monday, December 26, 2011

spoiled rotten

i was totally spoiled rotten this christmas! i'm so lucky and grateful for all of the generous family and loved ones in my life. i got a boat load of wonderful gifts but here is just a snippet of the goodies i received this holiday:

membership to the art institute of chicago from rob

new luggage for me and rob from my parents

an absurd amount of stamps from mrs. jensen for all of our save the dates & invites for the wedding

new sheets & a bed skirt that we needed desperately all from mrs. jensen

my favorite decadent lotion from amy & tom & luke

beautiful leather gloves from my cousin kate

delicious cookies & a custom cd from cody & lynn

an awesomely soft leopard print robe from my aunt anne

a new dustbuster to replace our busted one from my cousin carrie

lots of christmas story holiday decor from my brother

and a lot lot more!! seriously, spoiled rotten!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2011 Recap

2011 has been a pretty bad ass year. It's been full of excitement and change and I have a feeling 2012 will be pretty bad ass too!

Probably the most exciting part of 2011 was getting engaged! Rob popped the question in the most perfect/over the top way and I'm so happy to move forward in our lives together. Planning the wedding has been a piece of cake so far and I'm excited to see how it all comes together just 290 days from now.

The second most exciting part of 2011 was moving in with Rob. This was a big, big step for us after 9 years of dating. We basically lived together already but we made it officially by moving into a nice walk up in Roscoe Village. We are absolutely in love with our neighborhood. We're enjoying the plentiful street parking available, the neighborhood pubs on our street and I've really enjoyed building our home together. I love cooking dinner together and even cleaning together - weird I know. Picking out our first Christmas tree together was especially special :)

The third most exciting part of 2011 was completing grad school! I've been in school since winter '09 and I was so ready to be done. I've really enjoyed many of my classes and met some very nice people but it was time to get it over with so I took 2 classes in the spring, 1 in the summer and 2 in the fall and took my comprehensive exams in early November. It was very overwhelming and stressful but I did it! I passed my exams with distinction and I will graduate with high honors. Rob is taking me on an overnight in Michigan to celebrate in early January!

There were plenty of other exciting and special moments of 2011 - Snowmaggedon, saw some cool concerts like Cake, Weezer & lots of bluegrass, tried the flying trapeze thanks to Groupon, had a trip to the ER due to a fish hook stuck in my scalp, my friends threw me a 1 year till wed surprise pottery painting party, Rob's little bro got engaged, my buds Ryan & Megan welcomed baby #2 - the darling Emi into the world and my "sister in law" announced that she is expecting baby #2! I took several trips including Grand Rapids for Beer Fest, Miami with the girls, Michigan for my birthday, Connecticut for women's hoops, Hunky Dory, San Fran, New Orleans, New York for work, and most recently Nashville.

It was a pretty damn good year! I'm so grateful for this exciting, busy & fun year I had and for everyone I got to share it with!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Nashville Trip!

My friend Darcy and I flew down to Nashville a couple of weekends ago to visit our friend Molly who moved there this summer. I had only been to Nashville once before to visit Rob's aunt Fran and I absolutely loved it so I was eager to get back. We had such a good time and I'm so glad that we got to get a glimpse of Molly's new life down south. Darc and I arrived early in the morning on Friday and trekked to Mol's apartment and rested for a bit before going downtown to explore since Darcy had never been before. We walked by the river, went to Hatch Show Print, got some bbq at Jack's and grabbed drinks at Tootsie's before leaving to meet Molly and her coworkers for happy hour. All of her friends are so great and I'm so glad she's met so many wonderful people so quickly! We had a few drinks at one place before heading to a brewery close by for some 'za and beers. We quickly got into reminiscing and telling funny stories - I haven't laughed that hard in ages. The next day we had big plans. We met Rob's aunt Fran in Franklin for brunch at Puckett's. It was soooo yummie! I got a fried green tomato blt and it was delic. Afterwards we walked around the adorable town and shopped a bit before parting ways. I was so glad the girls got to meet Fran! Next we went to Arrington Vineyards which was absolutely gorgeous. We soaked in the views while we waited to do a wine tasting. We got to try 4 wines and they were all really good. After that we drove to the Belle Meade Plantation and took a tour and did another wine tasting. After that we went to one of Molly's favorite restaurants, City House. It was a very cool vibe and such delicious food! Everything we had was outstanding and I hope we can go back on our next visit. After dinner we went to a bar in a hood I hadn't been to before. We caught up some more before heading back to Mol's apartment for pjs and wine. We got a good nights sleep and got up to go to Molly's other favorite restaurant, Monell's. It was by far my favorite part of the weekend. They have you sit family style with other groups and they just keep bringing you amazing comfort food. I enjoyed roast beef, ham, corn bread, fried chicken, mac & cheese, mashed potatoes and I don't even remember what else. We were so stuffed afterwards and I loved every minute of it! After that we went to tour the Ryman Auditorium which neither Mol or Darc had been to. It was fun to be back and check out all of the cool concert posters this time. I hope I can see a show there some time! After that we drove Darc to the airport and then Mol drove me to meet Fran. I got to spend the rest of my time with Fran in her new townhome that is so great! Her daughter and grandson came by for a visit and it was so nice to see them again. Taylor is such a smartie and so cute and it was nice to catch up with Myah. Fran and I got to share lots of stories and catch up one on one which doesn't usually get to happen. I'm so glad that we had this special time together!

Overall, it was a wonderful weekend and I really didn't want to go home at all!! I can't wait to go back!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

my to do list

now that i'm done with school and have loads more free time, i'm creating a stock pile of things i want to do!

1. Get back in the groove of trying restaurants I haven't been to yet - Ruxbin, Telegraph, Cantina Laredo, Volo, Lillie Q's, and Smoque just to name a few.

2. Get back in shape! Before the last push in grad school, I was hitting the gym 3-5 times a week. I'm slowly getting back into that groove and already took 2 spin classes and a cardio reshape class this week!

3. Read for fun! I've been so happy to read for pleasure rather than for studying. I am wrapping up a pretty bad chick lit book and have another one waiting and then my brother insisted I read Hunger Games. I'm open to other suggestions though!

4. Invest more time in friends I don't see very often and make more frequent trips to the suburbs to see friends and family there.

5. Volunteer more! Before school got really overwhelming I used to volunteer at other places in addition to weekly bingo. I especially liked re shelving books at the Disney Magnet School Library with Chicago Cares and soon I'll be ready for another foster kitten!

6. Do arts and crafts again. I was a pretty avid scrapbooker before school got started and I always cherish the end result so I hope to start those again soon. I also miss drawing so I'm picking up some charcoal this weekend.

7. Cook! I've been having fun trying recipes or making some tried and true dishes now that I have more time. It's so nice to have proper meals :)

8. Have more quality time with my fiance - I have put a ton of date nights on our calendar and we have a little getaway coming up in January. Can't wait!

9. Relax. I have a tendency to overbook myself but I'm going to try to keep some time clear for myself to relax and rest so that I don't get burned out.

10. Wedding plan!!! Now that I have more time, I can invest a lot more time into planning our wedding that is now about 300 days away!

This is a short list - there are so many more things I want to do and places to visit. The best part is, there's no timeline - this new freedom is the rest of my life! No more school ever again! Yay!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Last Monday I found out that I passed my Comprehensive Exams for Grad School with Distinction! I haven't been that excited since Rob & I got engaged! I was squealing and jumping around and just absolutely giddy! I really didn't expect to pass with distinction - that was the cherry on top for sure. I'm officially done with grad school - it's a great feeling. I've been enjoying grad school free life by cooking more often, exercising more regularly and relaxing. I feel human again :)

Can't wait to get that diploma to hang in my office!

Monday, November 21, 2011

thankful for...

i have a lot of things to be thankful for this year!

* the basics: job, place to live, food to eat, health
* a wonderful fiance & less than a year till we wed
* a supportive and special family
* (future) in-laws i actually love
* precious little ones in my life - nephew Luke who is soon to be a big bro, "nieces" Bella & Emi
* an unbelievable group of friends that keep me on my toes and keep me laughing
* my senior friends at bingo
* to be done with grad school!
* to have free time again
* the glorious fall we've had in Chicago

very grateful. very lucky.

Monday, November 14, 2011


i finished all 3 of my comprehensive exams and this is my last week of classes - EVER! feels so fabulous, words cannot even describe how great it feels to have my brain and free time back! i still have a couple of papers due but no more reading and no more studying. i don't even know what to do with myself! i spent most of the weekend on the couch watching tv and movies, reading wedding magazines but i also went grocery shopping a lot and filled up our pantry, fridge and freezer with all sorts of fabulous items and cooked real meals for the first time in ages. that's been the best part! rob and i even ate dinner at the dining room table last night, i don't believe that ever happened before. i can't remember the last time that i was able to lounge in front of the television for so long without a worry in my mind or guilty feeling that i should be studying. it'll be even crazier next week when i'm done with classes!

last week i was complaining to rob that grad school was a waste of time and that i couldn't believe i invested so much time and money. now that it's basically done, i don't feel so ridiculous. i finished a video project that i feel very proud of, i keep finding ways to incorporate my grad school knowledge into work and i've met some really great people. i'm so glad i'm done but i'm glad that i did it even though i complained alot along the way. my friends and family have been super supportive, but rob takes the cake! the past few years he's been nothing short of amazing. he always would make sure i had whatever i needed, cooked me dinners, listened to me read papers and offered tons of moral support. i couldn't have done it without him and i'm so grateful i had his support!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

me & my masters

it's been a long and tough journey getting my masters. i started the program in winter '09 doing one class at a time. i usually enjoyed my one class and was able to dedicate an adequate amount of time and energy to it. then in spring 2010 i decided that it was time to pick up the pace and i was ready to be done. i started taking 2 classes for the first time. not only did it hurt my bank account, it really hurt my free time, gym time and limited my availability for working events. that spring i took one great class and one awful one. i plowed through and ended up signing up for one over the summer. that was the first time i did that and i'm so glad i did. even though the professor was sort of a joke (letting us out early all the time & doing power points out of order), i learned some stuff in a condensed amount of time. this fall brought me to the end of the program - my last 2 classes and my exams. i've been enjoying both of my two classes this quarter and learning a lot but as soon as i started studying for my comprehensive exams i started to go a little batty. my brain can only hold so much information and i'm starting to lose it. my first 2 exams are this saturday and i feel ok about them. my boss is awesome and has let me take off the past 2 fridays and this friday to prepare. i'm just so ready to get them out of the way and start studying for the last one next weekend. after that i have 1 week of classes and 3 papers standing between me and my's hoping it goes by fast because i'm at the end of my rope!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Surprise Party!

My girlfriends (all pictured above) threw me a surprise 1 year till wed party a few weeks ago and it was one of the nicest surprises I've ever gotten! Tara had told me we were going to a happy hour for her work and I fully believed it. When Tara asked me to meet her across the street from the bar at her salon I didn't think anything of it and when she said she needed to pick up some pottery she painted awhile back at the paint your plate place around the corner, I also didn't think anything of it. When we walked by I looked in the window and spotted Bella, my friend Megan's daughter/our flower girl and got really confused and then saw Megan, Darcy and then I realized I was getting a little surprise! Then I saw Caitlin and Ryann too! I was so surprised! I'm really hard to surprise and they actually got me! My friends Mary, Shalva and Sarah came a bit later and the girls all painted plates or bowls for Rob and me. They all made such cool stuff and it's awesome to have such personal pieces that will forever remind me of how amazing my friends are. I had such a great time relaxing and catching up with everyone and eating the delicious cheese Mary brought for us to snack on :) I feel so lucky to be surrounded by people that celebrate things like -1 year to wed. Who's friend's do that!? After a few hectic weeks with school and work, it was exactly what I needed and I couldn't be more grateful for such a special treat! Love my gals!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

wedding stuff!

we've been doing some really fun wedding stuff lately and i can't wait to really dive in after school is over in a few weeks! over the weekend i got to take my mom dress shopping at nordstroms for her MOB dress and the first one she tried on was the one! it's this gorgeous teal dress with sleeves and a beautiful collar - it is just perfect for her! it was so fun to do a little fashion show with her and see how great she looks in formal wear. way to go mama! afterwards we went to macy's to register! i wanted my mama to come with to help me figure out what kitchen and house stuff we need because i certainly have no clue. i knew registering would be fun but i had no idea it would be THAT fun! using that gun thing is so addicting and i definitely felt like a kid in a candy shop. i can't wait to do it again with rob closer to the wedding at bed, bath & beyond. tonight rob and i did a tasting with jordan's food of distinction. it ruled! we love their vibe and their food. my favorite hors d'oeuvre was the spoon of mac & cheese with pork belly on top. TO DIE! the entree also kicked ass! we had chorizo stuffed chicken on top of cheesy grits. rob and i both loved it! i can't wait to continue working with them on all the fun details leading up to the day! we're going to see a hotel in evanston on saturday and after that i think there will be a lull in the wedding planning...but not for long!

i love being engaged! we're having so much fun :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011


lots of really exciting things going on these days!

1 day until much needed girls night out

2 days until pure michigan & apple picking

3 days until we get to see our nephew, luke and my future sisters/bros in law

10 days until hitting up my first haunted house of the fall season

2 weeks until our next tasting for the wedding

4 weeks until our close friend's welcome baby #2 into the world

6 more weeks until i wipe my hands of grad school

7 more weeks until my favorite holiday - thanksgiving!

a year to the date until we tie the knot


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

closet switch over.

last night i switched over my closet from summer to fall/winter and i found all sorts of goodies. i put away the summer dresses, skirts and tops and swapped them for long sleeve shirts, sweaters and jackets. i came across some of my favorite clothing items that i sort of forgot existed.

1. my sweet, sweet leather vest from vienna that i never ever wear because there is just never an appropriate occasion but i am so happy i own it. 2. my super awesome/not politically correct rabbit fur bolero. i'm obsessed with that sucker and wear it as much as possible in the wintery months. 3. my gorgeous gray cropped blazer from anthropologie. it's another one i never wear but another thing i admire on the hanger. 4. my crazy awesome cape sweater from banana. another thing that i rarely wear because i feel sort of ridiculous but secretly love!

after i hung up all the warmer items in my closet i tackled my little crates that i store tops that don't need to be hung. i'm not very good about folding things and everything in there was all tangled up and in a big ball. i started folding each item and was shocked at the amount of tops i own. it's really unbelievable. its even more unbelievable that i usually just wear the same things over and over again but have a crate full of things i don't even touch. i was also shocked at the absurdity of some of the items i used to wear regularly in college and just after graduation. first concern- i have way too many backless, stretchy tops. second concern - when did i ever think it might be a good idea to wear a stretchy top with silver paint splatters all over it and chains draped over the scoop back. appalling! i got lots of good giggles out of it and mentally noted some of the tops that i could still wear and now my closet and crates are ready for the new season!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cali Trip!

Last weekend I was lucky enough to escape to sunny Foster City to visit my future sister-in-law her hubby and son. I hadn't been out there since spring of '10 so I was due for a visit. I flew in late on Friday night and got to catch up with Amy and Tom since Luke was fast asleep when I got there. The next day I got to play with Luke and enjoy all his new tricks. The last time I saw him was in July and he's such a different, more grown up tot now! I ran by the canal before we headed over to Filoli, a gorgeous botanic garden they're a member of. That night we went over to Tom's parents' house for a traditional Czech dinner. We had schnitzel, boiled potatoes and a pork meatloaf. It was all to die for! She also had these local ice cream sandwiches that were killer. I was so full! The next day we went for a walk in the Redwoods, which Luke wasn't really feeling so we sort of just sat and soaked it all in. Then we got some awesome pizza and watched the Emmy's. I was skeptical about California's ability to do 'za properly but I was pleasantly surprised. My last day we went to the park and I got to meet one of Amy's friends and Luke's best bud. It was really warm and it was nice to soak in the rays before heading to the airport. I had such a great time catching up with Amy and Tom, hearing Luke call me Gen Gen and enjoying the gorgeous weather. I'm not sure when I'll be able to go next so I'm glad we got a nice quality catch up this time. Can't wait to see them in Chicago in a few short weeks! I'm sure Luke will already have many more tricks!

Friday, September 9, 2011

dress shopping & wedding update!

a couple of weeks ago i found my dress!!! after a very unsuccessful first trip, i really didn't think i was going to find what i wanted or have that "feeling" to any dress. but i was wrong! my mom and my best friend stef went with me to a boutique in plainfield called white satin bridal. i arrived early and was immediately disappointed when nearly everything was covered in sparkles, which was exactly what i didn't want. they pulled a bunch of lace dresses which is what i thought i wanted - all covered in glitz but they told me that we could order it without the sequins and beading. i liked some of them, but didn't love any. i had grabbed one off the rack myself that looked nothing like anything i had thought i wanted but i was drawn to it for some reason. and ofcourse when i tried it on, i loved it! i didn't want to take it off, it felt special and right and i even cried just a little bit. stef and i jumped around with excitement too! we tried on more dresses and even went to our other appointment but i couldn't get that dress out of my mind so i knew it was the one. my mom and i went back to the store and bought it. feels so good to have that off our check list! the dress i bought is very different from what i planned so it sort of changes the vibe we were originally planning on so we are making some adjustments here and there to make the wedding more chic than shabby and more vintage than rustic.

we still have to finalize our caterer but we are working on scheduling 2 tastings. we are also working on a florist and hotel blocks. i'm constantly brainstorming ideas for decor and how to make the night more fun for everyone. it'll start coming together soon. we have 393 days still to figure it all out :)

Sunday, August 28, 2011


my bff tara and i planned a last minute trip to new orleans the other week and i'm so glad we did! yes it was 105 degrees with the heat index but it was so worth it! our hotel had a rooftop pool to help with the heat and give us lots of time to lay back and relax. tara is my favorite activity coordinator and she definitely kept us busy! the first day after a little bit of shopping around and some pool lounging we had a fantastic dinner at NOLA. the service down there is truly shocking but the food was worth the wait. i had a filet mignon with blue cheese, yummie potatoes, pecans and bacon. YUM! the manager liked us so much he also brought us some complimentary dessert. afterwards we took a stab at bourbon street which is just as filthy and crazy as we expected. we got our palms read, mine was a joke but tara's was pretty awesome! we walked around a bit and ended in a nice, clean jazz club to hear some fantastic jazz and enjoy some drinks. the next day we walked to the french market and got beignets! changed our lives! then we walked around the french market, bought some souvenirs and then ventured off to some side streets to find a voodoo doll and we ended up getting some awesome gourmet Popsicles which we think we should bring over to chicago. they were so refreshing. we shopped around a lot longer and then spent some more time at the pool and then got ready for dinner at mike's on the ave. another restaurant with absurdly horrible service but absolutely delicious food. after our million hour long dinner we ventured back to bourbon street to meet with a friend of a friend who was part of a bachelor party. they were a very mellow bachelor party but we had a great time and got to see the true madness of bourbon street. after a late night we had to wake up the next morning to volunteer at an animal shelter event that i asked tara to do with me. it was wayyyyy out of the way but i'm so glad we went. those people don't know how to run an event and those animals needed go getters like me and tara! we snagged a ride back into the city from a nice volunteer who gave us an impromptu tour of the city. we got dropped off and went to lunch at green goddess. it was one of my favorite meals down there. the place was a total dump but the food was just absolutely fabulous. it reminded me of chicago cuisine with a southern twist. we shared 2 awesome plates and split a praline sundae with caramel and bacon. MIND BLOWN! so good. then we took the bus down to market street for some cooler shops and then came back to the hotel for a nice nap. we woke up late and decided to do a quickie dinner at the famous spot, Mother's. I got a giant poboy and tara got gumbo. then we walked through "dirty linen night" which was an art fest and made our way over to frenchman street for jazz. it was so cool! it was much less touristy and it just had one jazz club after another. we discovered poets on the street and hired them to write poems for folks back home. i had one written for rob and it was pretty freaking awesome i must say. an older gent commissioned one of the poets to write a love poem for tara and then later took it back, probably to use on some other girl later! we watched some jazz, met an interesting drunk nurse and then made our way back to the hotel for some sweet air conditioning. the last day we slept in and walked along the river and sort of broke into the aquarium. we were debating whether it was worth the admission fee and stepped inside for a brochure and ended up inside without paying. whoops! we strolled through and it actually wasn't that great so i'm glad we were criminals and didn't waste the $18. we made our way over to cafe du monde for more beignets, had to do it, and then i made tara go to the casino with me. we won nothing but it was fun! then we walked over to this hotspot deli we kept hearing about and got awesome sandwiches and mac & cheese. so delicious! then we decided to get last minute manicures before our flight. there was only one nail technician and she was brand new and sucked pretty bad so it was taking forever so we thought for sure we were going to be late to the airport but we got there with plenty of time. i rode home on a pretty empty flight and enjoyed my booked and came home feeling a little bit fatter from all the amazing food but very calm and relaxed. such a great weekend! i can't believe everything we crammed in.

tara's one of my all time favorite travel buddies and i can't wait to do another trip soon!

Monday, August 8, 2011

trying new things.

this summer has been chock full of trying new activities! i'm so glad i have such fun friends and a great fiance that are willing to try out new things with me. some activities are more extreme than others but all have been way fun.

first, i did a beer & cheese tasting with rob in the early summer. i've always done wine tasting classes and this was way more up my alley. then we did a kayaking trip down the chicago river. this was a lot harder than we expected and it rained a little to make it even more intense but we had an awesome time and i'm so glad we did it.

i would have to list wedding gown shopping under trying something new. it was definitely a new and exciting experience this summer! didn't manage to find the right dress on the first try so i get to do it all over again in a few weeks!

then i've had some fun adventures with ryann and tara this weekend. we did a byob painting class on friday. i was more interested in the byob part to be honest but we had a really good time creating our very own masterpieces! sunday was the biggest adventure i've had all summer - flying trapeze class! it's definitely the scariest thing i've done since skydiving. it was really hard work too! our muscles were shaking and sore after only a few times up there. it was really fun though even though it was so tough! my favorite part was doing a catch at the end!

can't wait to see what the next adventure will be!

Friday, August 5, 2011

hunky dory vacation!

i spent all of last week with rob's family at their family vacation spot called hunky dory in wisconsin. yes, it's actually called that! i've been going with them for 4 years now and this had to be one of the best! last year all sorts of things went wrong and this year went off without a hitch (for the most part). we had a very rainy drive on the way there but the rest of the week it was truly gorgeous weather. we had one cloudy day so we went to the movies instead of our normal routine of laying out and swimming. i got to go on morning walks a few times and even squeezed in a run. we ate like there was no tomorrow - hunky dory has the best food ever! my favorite this year was the swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes. this year was especially fun because we got to spend so much time with our nephew luke who is now 15 months and super fun! i also learned how to play backgammon and pickle ball. we played several rousing games of "celebrity" which is my favorite charades-esqe game. saw a ton of shooting stars and did lots of catching up with family and friends. i also got a pretty good tan. the only true mishap was getting a fishing lure stuck in my head and having to go to the ER to get it removed. it was fairly traumatizing but really not that big of a deal. no stiches and i could still enjoy the rest of the trip! just won't be fishing for a long time! it's been really hard being back in real life after spending the majority of the day laying out or eating. i've been so exhausted just doing normal every day things - not to mention starving because of the normal diet i'm back on rather than the good hunky dory diet. i don't have to worry about this real life thing for too long because next week me and my friend tara are heading down to new orleans!!! we booked it totally last minute and we have nothing planned except the many restaurants we want to try. i really can't wait for some quality time with tara and to experience the big easy!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

heat wave!

it's a very HOT week with temps in the mid-to high 90s here in chicago. i definitely remember 90s being pretty standard growing up but it's been awhile since we've had numerous day in the upper 90s and everyone can't stop talking about it. yes, it's a total oven outside, but we bitched about how cool our spring was and now we have nothing but heat and everyone is still bitching....including myself. mostly because our air conditioning broke last night! very sucky to wake up in 80 degrees when we're supposed to have central a/c. and this afternoon i have to spend an hour on a rooftop talking to new students with the heat index around 105. so i've joined the bitching band wagon. i'm also very concerned about pets and the elderly - this heat can be very dangerous for them! hopefully the serious heat wave will mellow out to like mid 80s and everyone, including myself will stop complaining!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

best summer ever?!

it's only early july and it's already been one of the most fun summers i can remember! it's been so fabulous because:

* we've had awesome weather! i even love the crazy storms we've been getting and the warm, sunny days and warm, cool nights.

* kicked off the summer with our engagement party and lots of good family time!

* got to enjoy a boar roast for tara's birthday! so random and so delicious!

* fostered the sweetest kitten ever.

* had our beer & cheese housewarming party and it was a blast!

* enjoyed greek cuisine on an awesome rooftop with buds.

* enjoyed a few festivals - the taste, mayfest & old town art fair.

* had the best birthday ever up in michigan with friends, fam & rob!

* i've had a mini break from school which means lots of down time/naps/couch lounging/wedding planning.

* all of my summer work events turned out to be super fun and perfect weather: arlington racetrack, volunteer outing at the zoo, & our fireworks boat cruise.

* had lots of quality time with my man. lots of great date nights like our beer & cheese tasting, seeing super 8, grabbing drinks at our neighborhood pub, getting dinner at the publican & seeing his master catch at his softball game :)

and there is still SO much more summer left! i have so many things to look forward to: quality time with my bff tomorrow, 6 flags this weekend, going away party for my bud, kayaking in the river on tuesday!, ferris buellers day off movie in the park on wednesday, pitchfork festival next weekend, belated bday happy hour after that, then it's off to hunky dory with rob's family for a week!!! seriously - best summer ever!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

birthday weekend!

i had one of the best birthdays i can remember all thanks to my wonderful friends, fiance & family! i was able to book a chalet at the "resort" my family went to in the summers while i was growing up. it's right on lake michigan with 2 beaches, a couple of pools and nice decks. first the girls came up on saturday. we made a pit stop at st. julian's for some wine tasting and to add to our stock of wine for the weekend. then we drove up to the chalet, changed immediately and went down to the beach. it was pretty hot so we all got in the water a bit and laid out for hours. later on we grilled and ate on the deck. tara surprised me with a beautiful and delicious cake from my favorite bakery, bit of swiss! i couldn't believe she remembered and went to so much trouble! i opened up more presents -everyone was much too generous, i feel very spoiled! then we took our wine and hit the beach for the sunset. we did a tiny photo shoot and enjoyed the scenery. afterwards we went back and did some late night snacks on the grill and some smores. we played games until late into the night and i was laughing so hard my face hurt. my friends are so fun :) then next morning everyone headed back to chicago and then rob came up that afternoon. we laid out and he swam and then we went to redamaks and oinks for an early dinner & dessert. we came back and enjoyed the most amazing sunset EVER and the great fireworks random guests set off on the beach. it was a great day and night! the next day my family came up. rob stayed to hang out all day before heading back to the city. he and my dad grilled some hot dogs and sausages for lunch and then we spent the rest of the day on the beach soaking up the rays. we came played a game on the deck and then dad grilled hamburgers & potatoes and mom brought up her delicious summer salad that rob loves. i opened more presents and then we went down to enjoy a subpar sunset. there were A LOT of fireworks for the 4th and it was fun to be able to watch from the deck. we played another game and then we hit the hay. a very relaxing day. the next day we went out to breakfast and went to bit of swiss to stock up on goodies before they took me home. i had all day yesterday to catch up on cleaning and organizing the apartment before coming back to work today which was great. i truly couldn't ask for a more special weekend!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

lazy week coming to a close

i have had the laziest, least busy week i've had in years and i have had mixed emotions about it. usually i hit the gym after work and then have plans of some sort afterwards - this week it was pretty much just the gym and then home. rob and i watched a lot of t.v. and played with the foster kitty a lot. i cooked myself dinner EVERY night this week - that NEVER happens. i feel more tired than normal and i was so unproductive even though i had gobs of time on my hands. on monday i took a very hard fitness class, went to bingo, cooked a nice dinner and parked it in front of the t.v., tuesday i took another fitness class, cooked a nice dinner and parked it in front of the t.v. - i was supposed to go to a movie in the park but it got rained out, yesterday i went to the chiropractor and did a bit of shopping downtown. then i cooked dinner, worked on a photo album, ordered prints, and listened to rob's online radio performance and went to bed early. tonight, i'm going to the gym and maybe going to a concert and finally tomorrow i'm definitely going out after the gym and i'm busy all weekend. as much as i enjoy having nothing on the schedule, i haven't really enjoyed it as much as i should. i think i need to be pretty busy to keep me productive and it keeps my energy level higher. having so much downtime makes me just want more downtime and i just end up doing nothing with my free time. next week i have something every single night before leaving for my long weekend in michigan and i like it! i definitely need to continue to work on finding a healthy balance between insanely busy and completely not busy. the quest continues!

Monday, June 20, 2011

busy week, lazy weekend

last week i celebrated my freedom from school by going out nearly every night. on monday we celebrated our friend's birthday at a bar in wicker park, tuesday i went to the MCA for free night and listened to music on the terrace and then i met tara for a ballet class at the joffrey. wednesday i had an event and then went out to dinner with jacki and tara at quartino's and thursday i picked up a foster kitten then grabbed a bite with ryann, nicole and nicole's friend nora at pegasus on their great rooftop. i took a personal day on friday and i hung out with the foster kitten for awhile, did some laundry, then took myself out to lunch at southport grocery, shopped around on southport and then got a pedicure. later on rob and i saw tree of life (which we hated). on saturday i had an event at the arlington racetrack and i invited my dad, pro horse racing better, for father's day. the event is always a bit difficult to juggle but always turns out very fun. there's a big food buffet and a great view of the track inside a nice room. we placed some bets and i think we came out even. we watched the last race from the track and it's so much more exciting down there! we had a great time together. later on saturday, i met mary for wine at vintage 338 - a really cute wine bar in lincoln park. we enjoyed several glasses of wine and yummie cheese. on sunday, i slept in, cleaned the apartment, went grocery shopping and then proceeded to lay around for hours and hours. lazy sundays are the best! rob and i watched my netflix movie, please give (didn't love it), made a nice healthy dinner and then went out for gelato. it was the nicest, most relaxing weekend after the busiest week ever! this week will probably be the most relaxing of the entire summer. i barely have anything planned and this weekend is pretty open as well. i'm trying to enjoy it as much as i can before life gets crazy again in mid july when school starts again.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

summer in the city

it's officially summer in the city with 90+ degree weather to prove it! i had an amazing weekend full of fun activities. i took a half day on friday so that i could run some errands and work on schoolwork before rob's family came up to see our new place and eat dinner. it was so fun to have visitors over, especially our little 1 year old nephew luke! he was enjoying running back and forth and beating on some of rob's drums. i'm so glad we got to spend time with them before they went back to california and before his little brother and his gf went on their trip to bali. later on rob and i met up with some of our friends at mayfest, the annual german festival in lincoln square. it's one of my favorites! we enjoyed some hofbrau brews and polka and then visited our friend shalva who was working at brownstones. on saturday i was productive and worked on my paper before rob took me to a beer & cheese tasting for our anniversary. we went to pastoral wine & cheese in the loop which is one of my favorite places to get a special, cheesy treat. we learned about paring craft beers with different cheeses and really loved it! so many tasty pairings! it was the most beautiful night out so we went for a walk along the river and grabbed a carriage ride, courtesy of my aunt and cousins who gave us some cash for an engagement gift specifically for a carriage ride. we got to go along lakeshore drive and enjoy the beauty of the lake. it was a really great treat and quite romantic :) on sunday my mama came up to see our apartment, grab lunch, and then check out the wedding venue. we had a great time together and i was so glad to see the venue again! i love it just as much as i did last time! unfortunately my mom's car broke down and she had to hang out a little longer than she anticipated but she eventually made it home and we still had a great day together.

now it's finals week and i'm exhausted and crabby but looking forward to it all being over by the end of the day tomorrow and having another amazing weekend!

Friday, May 27, 2011

life will be...

so much better when i'm done with grad school. i only have about 32 more classes to get through and 3 comp exam questions and then i'm done. 2 more classes next week, my finals, one class over the summer for 5 weeks, 2 in the fall, then exams. i seriously can't wait; i'm so done with it. these are the things i plan to do when i'm done:

1. be spontaneous - i can't ever do anything on the fly these days because i'm usually bogged down with assignments and reading. i can't wait to live more spontaneously!
2. relax/being lazy - i miss it.
3. reading for fun - i have a pile of books i got for christmas that have not been opened because i don't have time to read them.
4. enjoy the city - i really miss going to free days at museums, using my shedd membership, trying new restaurants, visiting the zoo, going to the green city market and all my other favorite city things.
5. cooking proper meals - i'm definitely on the grad school diet these days. i've been trying to stick with salads for class but when i'm stressed i definitely want things like chipotle and dr. pepper and pop chips.
6. have more money!!!! - even though school is "free" for me b/c i work here, i still pay student fees, have to buy books and get taxed on tuition.
7. regaining clarity and peace of mind - especially now with 2 classes, i'm very foggy all the time. i can't wait to not have to think about organizational communication anymore.
8. working out more regularly - when i'm not in school i get into a great work out routine and hit the gym atleast 4x a week and i love it. i'm lucky if i get there 2-3x a week now and it's usually for a shortened workout.
9. PLAN OUR WEDDING!!!! - i haven't really gotten to dive into wedding planning because i've been so busy with school. i can't wait to have about a full year to enjoy being engaged and plan all the fun details together!
10. being a better friend and fiancee - taking 2 classes for the first time has really been crampin my social life. i can't wait to spend more quality time with the people i love.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

life is so much better....

in the new apartment! rob and i are loving the new place so much! it's so awesome to have a full sized comfortable couch to lay on together instead of the tiny love seat we had in my old apartment. we love our huge windows on the front of the apartment that let tons of light in and showcase the huge, beautiful trees just outside our door. when it's cool enough to open windows it lets in a great breeze and you can hear the leaves shaking. it's fantastic! we love having a giant sized kitchen that allows us both to be in it at the same time without stepping all over each other. we love going grocery shopping together and cooking for each other. still can't get over having a washer & dryer too. we really love that there is not a stompy foot giant living above us anymore. and we keep talking about going out for drinks in the new hood because there are so many places to check out and i know as soon as we do, it'll make us love life in roscoe village even more!

*very happy in our new home*

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

wedding update!

rob and i have just started planning things for the wedding but it's still coming together slowly. we saw one venue a few weeks ago that we had already been to and weren't super impressed. but this weekend we went to 2 that were awesome!!! the first one was gallery 1028 on goose island. the coordinator was a PRO and we really clicked. the space is all exposed brick with a cool wood plank floor. we really loved the layout and the vibe but they have a lot of crazy extra fees we weren't into. still a possibility. we got a quote from their only caterer option yesterday and it was partially what we wanted (comfort food) and partially not. i wasn't too impressed. then we went to architectural artifacts further north. it's an antiques store with a large atrium for event event spaces. it's pretty awesome! we loved the look and feel but the staff was pretty weird....they also require security and insurance which adds up quite a bit. but the pros outweigh the cons there and we really love it. most importantly - they have a ping pong table we can use. what more could we want!? i'm going to floating world gallery on thursday and we are scheduled to go see prairie production this saturday and a new leaf on sunday. after that, we should probably have a winner but we have about 2-3 more possibilities if needed. i can't wait to have our venue set so that we can begin planning all the fun little details like decor and invites!

we're also getting our engagement pics done on sunday. it's supposed to thunderstorm and we're going to the lincoln park zoo. i do have a super cool 60's style clear bubble umbrella we can use as a prop but not if it's down pouring. fingers crossed that it's ok for the hour we're shooting! fingers crossed that we don't look completely idiotic...i have faith in the photogs we've selected though. check em out! -

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

weekend highlights!

i had an awesome weekend but it definitely went by too fast! on friday i had a great workout and grabbed some groceries before getting on the train. i accidentally got on the purple line instead of the brownline and ended up in evanston :( whoopsie. when i got there, i hopped on the redline and rob picked me up. i laughed the whole time. i'd normally get super mad but i was in a good mood and just decided to roll with the punches. we drove to half acre brewery to pick up a growler and then to great lakes pizza to get a very gourmet pie. we headed home and enjoyed our dinner and then our friends molly, hogan and his girlfriend lindsay stopped by for some beers and to check out our new place. it was the perfect relaxing night. on saturday i had to get up early to volunteer at casa central for our annual day of service. we were painting two rooms...i suck at painting. i eventually was able to move on to an organization project - much more up my alley. afterwards tara and i stopped by a charity bake sale for some delicious treats that benefited the homeless. after i got home i watched a sex and the city marathon and sort of did homework before going to see something borrowed with tara, mary and colleen. we loved it! i think chick flicks are stepping up their game. it was much better than i expected. afterwards we went to birds nest to see tara's mechanic's band play - there was a cover so we just listened from the front of the bar and grabbed some beers and wings. we hit up another bar before calling it a night. i had such a good time and definitely needed a fun night with my girlfriends! on sunday i got to spend the day with my mama downtown. we went to macy's to look at registry options and fell in love with a variety of housewares. registering will be so fun! then we grabbed a quick bite before going to the joffrey ballet. we've gone several times together and it's always such a treat. it was beautiful and we really loved it. afterwards we did some shopping and then parted ways. it was a great day! i couldn't believe it was already sunday night and time to start a new week. i'm realllly looking forward to this weekend and i can't wait for it to be friday!

enjoy the beautiful spring weather everyone :)

Friday, April 29, 2011


i might be a match! i got an email today that im a potential match for a patient and then i called and reconfirmed my commitment to donating bone marrow. i have a crazy mix of excitement and nerves all at once. now i wait.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

saying goodbye to boystown & solo living.

on saturday i will be leaving east lakeview which i have been a resident of for the past 4 years. i will also be leaving my studio apartment and moving to a big girl apartment with the fiancée. still weird to say fiancée. we're moving to roscoe village which is west of where we live now. i absolutely love the area. it's very residential and quiet but there are lots of great restaurants and bars on our street. it's easier to find parking and it's easier to get to wicker park where most of my friends live now but also easy to still get back to east lakeview where some of my other friends live. our new place is very old but very spacious. i can't believe i'll actually have a bedroom door! it's been 3 years since i last had one! and a huge kitchen and office. but best yet - washer & dryer in unit! yay! i'm really excited to officially move in with rob too. it'll be fun to build our new home together and start a new chapter. i'm not really going to miss my apartment at all but the neighborhood will definitely be missed - especially the proximity of multiple grocery stores and bus options but mostly the proximity of our favorite mexican restaurant!! i wanted to savor these last few weeks of east lakeviewness so we've been hitting up all the neighborhood gems. we went to the bagel for brunch, shopped on broadway, went to a cubs rooftop, rob ate at the best thai place in the hood and i went to crisp - an amazing chicken joint, and tomorrow we're going to that favorite mexican restaurant one more time. it's been a good ride boystown - but i'm ready for cohabitation in roscoe village! here's hoping the move goes well :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

We're Getting Married!

Rob popped the question on Sunday in the biggest and best way! Here's the wonderful story:

We decided to plan a trip to the Brookfield Zoo in April - one of my favorite places - and I invited my parents and my good friends and their daughter because they all have a membership and love it there as much as I do. Rob switched the date randomly because "they weren't having any dolphin shows that day anymore" so I became suspicious. I had always joked that the ultimate proposal would be at the Brookfield Zoo Dolphin Show - even more ultimate having a dolphin fin the ring on my finger. Clearly a joke. Somehow - he basically made that happen!!! We head off to the zoo on Sunday and my friend Meg says she's under the weather and not able to make it anymore and my Mom isn't answering her phone but I didn't think much of it because it was Palm Sunday so I thought they might still be in church. We get to the zoo and head straight to the dolphin show and Rob is calm as can be. We get inside and get a seat near the aisle and it starts - they ask for some youth volunteers and then they ask for some adult volunteers and I raised my hand because I always raise my hand. They actually picked me and Rob! We walked down by the side of the pool and they say that we're going to help with a new trick. At this point I knew it was happening but I never imagined it would happen the way it did. They put a ball in the dolphin's mouth (Shanook) and it swims over to the trainer and she pulls the ball out of it's mouth and it says "Marry Me" on it!!! She hands it to me and I turn to Rob and immediately sob when he gets down on one knee and asks me to marry him in front of the whole audience!!! We kiss and then a photographer takes our picture and we go back to our seat and I'm FREAKING OUTTTTTTTTTTTT! I could not believe he made that happen. We get to our seat and he introduces me to the lady next to him - she was in on it! He met with her last week while I was in Florida and got to see the dolphins practice - one actually messed up the trick and gave Rob a heart attack! Our parents came in right before the end of the show. They had been hiding so I wouldn't catch on. After the show ended we went by the pool and all the people from the crowd came and congratulated us and shook our hands and checked out my BEAUTIFUL ring. He had the ring custom made at the same place his brother in law had his sister's ring made. It's perfect and exactly what I wanted. It is modeled after my favorite "cocktail ring" that my uncle found ages ago and gave to me and I've loved it ever since. I couldn't believe he actually had it made for me. I can't stop staring at it! Anyway, we got more pictures after the show cleared out and got to take some with our new dolphin friend Shanook. It was wonderful! Then we got to enjoy a sunny day at the zoo with our parents. We had a mini photo shoot all over the zoo and got to see some of our favorite animals. We parted ways and Rob and I headed back to the city and relished in the excitement. I called a few of my friends in the car and then we just chatted about everything at home and got really excited. Later on he took me to the Signature Room for dinner. On the way to dinner a car honked at us and 2 girls stuck their heads out to shout that they were at the zoo with us - they were the trainers! What are the odds! The Signature Room was stunning! The most amazing views! We enjoyed some champagne, delicious entrées and an awesome dessert - they even wrote congratulations on your engagement in chocolate sauce on the plate! What a perfect end to a perfect day.

I still can't believe how he made it happen and that we're finally engaged after nearly 9 years together! We're SO excited and SO happy! I can't wait to start working on all the fun details to plan our special day. The engagement was perfect and it is a day that I'll never ever forget!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

florida trip

over the weekend my friends stef & jacki & i went to visit stef's mom in mirmar, florida for a few days. cindy was so sweet to let 3 crazy girls come invade her home and she was a great hostess! she lives in a beautiful home with a great pool and pretty view of a lake. it was lovely! we spent the first day pool side and then we went to the las olas area for dinner. we ended up at SoLita which is a place my friend recommended. it was very cool decor but utterly ridiculous. it was basically a lounge so there was lots of people groping each other in dimly lit corners, we saw LOTS of implants and it took FOREVER to get our food. i really liked my pasta and so did stef but cindy was not impressed. we got out of there as quickly as we could and picked up jacki from the airport since she had a later flight. we did some chatting pool side with a few bottles of wine until late that night. the next day cindy made us a great breakfast and then we got pedis at this great little salon and shopped around this fun outdoor mall. we hit target for some essentials and then went poolside allllll day until we hit the road for south beach for dinner and drinks. south beach is the craziest place i've ever seen! i felt like i was in a foreign country. there were so many tourists, craaaaazy outfits and restaurant hostesses harassing us to eat at their restaurants. very interesting. it was hoppin though and we parked it at a random restaurant and stared at all the very interesting people walking by. then we went to a really, really lame hotel bar rooftop with very expensive drinks. we left for an outdoor bar with a dj and a landing built over a pool and a ton of RIDICULOUS people. i sort of felt like we were on the jersey shore. it was pretty amusing. the next day stef made us homemade crepes - so delic! and then we went to fort lauderdale beach. it was about 90 degrees but under the shade of a palm tree we were enjoying the ocean breeze. we got our feet wet and then hit up hooters because we ALWAYS eat at hooters. it was very tasty and then we went home for more pool time. on our last day we laid out alllll day and we all got a little burnt but it was worth it!

literally spent most of the time laughing, eating, or telling stories. it was so fun and i'm so glad i got to have a fun getaway with my girls!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


i started to lose my voice last week and by sunday all i could get out were squeaks and whispers. i've never lost my voice like that. it didn't hurt and i didn't feel too sick but i couldn't really get any words out. it has been quite the experience. i always knew that i'm a chatty girl but i really had no idea quite how chatty i am until i couldn't use my voice anymore. i also knew people in chicago were friendly, but i didn't realize quite how many said hello, good morning, how are you, etc - until i couldn't respond to them. i spent way more time thinking about what i wanted to say before speaking and whether it was even worth mentioning. i had to prioritize my thoughts since it was so difficult to get words out. i also couldn't properly express emotions without full use of my voice - i received happy news, heard a sad story and participated in a workshop - and i couldn't express myself the way i wanted. i couldnt help but think how hard it would be to not have the ability to speak permanently. i really take the ability to speak for granted and considering my lenten goal was to be a better listener...i think god might have been trying to tell me something!

what ability would be hardest for you to lose?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

current obsessions.

there are a few things that i can't get enough of right now and i wanted to share my obsessions!

1. Almond Milk Concentrate from Loccitane
This stuff is AMAZING! It's for skin firming and smoothing and it really works! I've been using it under my eyes 2-3 times a day and I've definitely seen a difference with the fine lines. It moisturizes so well but doesn't feel too heavy or like it's clogging up my skin. I also adore the smell!

2. This American Life Radio Archive
I know most people are already familiar with the awesome Ira Glass and the great radio and tv show, This American Life but I recently discovered their archive online and have been filling my slower than average days with a couple of episodes. They truly tell some amazing stories and I definitely recommend it!

No, not edible cake - I love that too but I'm talking about the band. They recently released a new album, Showroom of Compassion and I'm VERY obsessed with the song they had on Shameless on Sunday - Long Time. Check out the link above to listen.

4. Philanthroper
Philanthroper is a groupon-esque site for giving to non profits. They ask that you give $1 each day to a new organization. I've probably already given about $30 since I joined. I think a little goes a long way and I'm really impressed with the site. Check it out and help out!

5. Babybel Cheese
Everyone knows I'm obsessed with cheese but I recently discovered the mini babybel cheeses and I LOVE THEM! I love that they're low calorie but filling. They're the perfect afternoon snack. I've tried all the different flavors - I especially like the original and cheddar. I highly recommend them!

What are you obsessed with?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

spring break is over :(

i've been on "spring break" since march 15 and it was amazing. and today it all ends, i have night class tonight and again on thursday. even though i didn't actually go anywhere for spring break, i didn't have to think about organizational communication for 2 weeks and that was the best vacation ever! i got to go to the gym a whole bunch and take really tough classes and kinda get back in shape, i got to make legitimate home-cooked dinners, i got to watch tv and movies we had downloaded ages ago and best of all i slept! i took off st. patrick's day and the following day for my spring break staycation. i think i slept for about 11 hours both days - glorious. the only outing i had was to whole foods, my favorite place. i went crazy getting all of my favorite things - annie's fruit snacks and honey wheat pretzels, fruit strips, all natural taquitos and organic chicken and blackberries and a beautiful salad from their killer salad bar and corned beef & mashed potatoes for later on at dinner. wonderful. the rest of my two days off were spent on the couch watching march madness. i went out on thursday for st. pat's with some friends and on friday rob and i drove to u of i for cody's birthday and show. we got a great dinner at the restaurant his girlfriend works at and then got to see cody play with 3 bands! it was really fun. then on saturday i got my haircut and had lunch at hooters with my friend stef. later on amy, tom & luke flew in and i got to spend some quality time with them that night and all day on sunday. it was great! then all last week i did as little as possible - i went to the gym and came home and laid around. on wednesday i grabbed dinner with my cousin at MK for chefs week. it was great to see her and the food was pretty good. on friday i went to the brew & view with some friends and saw no strings attached which was actually pretty cute! on saturday we went to the aquarium with mrs. j, amy and luke. luke loved it and it was so fun to spend the day together at one of our favorite places! he's such a good baby! that night rob and i got dinner at nacional 27 - my old boss gave me a giftcard from like 5 years ago that she found in her office so we went and went all out! i hadn't been there in a long time and the food was really delicious. on sunday night i got pizza & fro yo with some of my dab girls. and then it ended. all the carefree wonderfulness and laziness is done and im back to school for the next 11 weeks or so. im taking 2 classes for this first will be a doozie!

Monday, March 21, 2011


the boyfriend and i are finally moving in together, after about 9 years together. i've been resistant - wanting my own space, us to enjoy the years before marriage as independent 20somethings, and i wanted to wait until we were engaged. however, we definitely already live together unofficially so it's silly to delay the inevitable when we are so happy spending every day together under one roof. plus, rob's lease is up at the end of april so it really is perfect timing. we started hunting for apartments and setting up appointments for people to see my apartment because my lease is not up until august. rob did most of the work and found a bunch of places for us to see and made a craigslist post for my place. we viewed a few places but found the one when we were just walking around the area we liked and saw a sign for a nice looking place. the landlord was there and available to show us the place right then, so we did and we liked it. we ended up signing a lease on thursday last week and we're good to go! it's quite big with 1bdrm, an office, dining room, large kitchen and medium sized living room. it's seriously vintage...aka very old but it's huge, felt homey and includes all utilities except cable/internet AND HAS A WASHER/DRYER IN UNIT! dream come true! my place got rented over the weekend too so everything is falling into place. i'm really excited! not looking forward to the actual moving part - i hate packing and moving furniture and then reorganizing everything and trying to get settled in but it'll all be worth it. i'm interested to see if we'll face any challenges with this new living situation. currently we basically live in my tiny studio apartment - it's decorated how i want it, i get all the closet space, i can freak out if there is a glass left out for 2 days and so on...but soon it will be OUR place and it will decorated how WE want it and i can't freak out if he leaves a glass out for 2 days because it's his place too .... or can i? the main thing that will be an adjustment for me will be sharing food. i'm crazy about food. i don't like sharing certain things. we'll be sharing and splitting everything so we'll see how that works out :) but if that's our biggest challenge i think we'll be in pretty good shape.

Friday, March 11, 2011

irish lassy

being 50% irish means i gotta do it up for st. pat's. every year since i can remember i've worn my over sized "if irish eyes are smiling, you can bet they're up to something" shirt my aunt got me when i was about 11. this year i will kickstart the festivities with my friend darcy's birthday celebration. they're starting early tomorrow morning with a keg at their house and then cruising around the neighborhood. then i'll go to birthday celebration #2 and #3 - my rugby friends leah and nikki are celebrating with a realllly early house party and then hitting up our college fav - kelly's. i have gone to kelly's every year for st. pat's except one since i moved to chicago. they put up a big tent, the beers aren't too expensive and something ridiculous always happens. next week i think i'll do st. pat's festivities with my coworkers after work on wednesday and with my friends on thursday. i took thursday and friday off to enjoy some time to myself and sleep a lot - i'll probably venture out for a corned beef sandwich somewhere.

i definitely always favor my czech heritage so i gotta make my irish mama proud and drink a lot of green beer to show my irish pride over the weekend :) she'll be so proud.

happy st. patrick's day everyone!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

connecticut trip

my boss asked me to go to hartford to work pregame receptions for the big east women's basketball tournament and i gladly accepted. i'm a college hoops fanatic and i was excited to get out of the city for awhile. i had a quick and easy flight in, got a rental car and drove - a bit aimlessly - to my hotel. i slept so well that night, it was so nice to have peace and quiet and time to myself. the next day i met staff from athletics at the arena to decorate our room and go over everything. after that i had time to kill so i decided to go for, go on a short drive to get the burger i've been dreaming of ever since i saw it on man vs food. steamed cheeseburger with a slab of steamed cheese. unreal. i made it there in a crappy little rainstorm and just stared at the sign for a second, couldn't believe i was finally getting to try it! it was a bit crowded but i made my order - cheeseburger with my favorite toppings and cheesy home fries which are basically really thick fries, almost like potato wedges. it was sooo good and i inhaled it. total bucket list moment. after that it was time for the game, we had a huge turnout at our pregame reception and the girls won their game. i stayed for awhile to watch the notre dame/louisville game but i just really can't stand ND fans so i left to go to my hotel to work on homework. the next day i woke up and got right to work, i had a paper due the next day and still had a lot of work. after working for several hours i ventured out into sunny hartford and explored a bit. i grabbed lunch at woody's, the hotdog place featured on man vs food. all of their hotdogs are a foot long and they have all different kinds but i got one with cheese, brown mustard and chopped onion with fries. i LOVED it! quite possibly more than the burger from the day before. they grill the bun which made it buttery and crisp and the fries were perfect. junk food heaven! after that i ran some errands and then it was time for the pregame reception and game vs notre dame. our girls did pretty well, had the lead for awhile but in the end, they lost. and nothing tastes more sour than a loss to stupid notre dame. i was super bummed but almost glad they didn't go to the championship vs connecticut because uconn just KILLS everyone, they're seriously like a professional basketball's never pretty. i went home and worked on my paper for several hours and crashed. the next day i started my long day of travel and everything went smoothly and i was home in time for class and felt pretty good about my paper.

i was really glad i had the chance to go to support our women and connect with our alumni in the area but i was definitely ready to go home. hartford aint got nothing on chi town!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

pure michigan weekend!

this weekend my bud ryann and i drove to grand rapids, michigan to visit our friends jamie and kyle. they recently bought a house and got 2 pups so a visit was in order! as soon as we got up there jamie took us to an outdoor craft beer festival at a ball park. it was crazy and oh so michigan. jamie strung up some pretzel necklaces that you eat right off the string so that you keep something in your belly other than beer. we arrived and got our 13 tokens - you're supposed to turn one in with each tasting but we didn't really do that too much so it's sort of a free for all. i think we tried about 8 each?? not too sure...but we liked almost everything we got! i think my favorite part was the screaming - everyone would raise their glass and the entire tent would just kinda holler in unity. it reminded me of oktoberfest! it was pretty cold and slushy and all of our feet were quite frozen. they had fire pits that helped us warm up though. i think we made it a little over 3 hours before we had kyle come pick us up. we were giddy and slightly tipsy and made him take the top off his jeep - we had giggle fits over the snow coming in on the short ride home. then we zoned out for hours, ate some of jamie's wonderful homemade lasagna and enjoyed some fabulous desserts. kyle's friend from home came up too. the next day we went to their church which was really nice to see. they are part of the united church of christ and it's so community oriented and accepting. i really enjoyed going. after that we went to the omelet shoppe for an insanely large brunch. we were all starving so we all ordered way too much - but then ate it all. i got a spinach, swiss & onion quiche, a cup of soup and a side of hashbrowns. fantastic! we went back home with our full bellies so i could check out jamie's handmade jewelry and shop a little. she's got some really great pieces! then i interviewed her for my class while ryann snoozed. then jamie gave us a quick tour of the downtown area - we got to see several awesome pieces of art from their annual "art prize" event. my favorite was a beautiful mosaic in the JW mariott. so pretty! then we hit up Founders Brewery. it was so cool in there and they have AMAZING beer! we tried a bunch of little samples, some peanuts, cheesy beer dip and one big beer. we chatted a little while longer and then ry and i hit the road. it was a great weekend and i was thrilled to be part of jamie and kyle's michigan life!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

happy thoughts!

last week i was feeling very overwhelmed and stressed out. i still feel a bit stressed but there are too many things to be happy about to let it get me down! happy thoughts include:

it's chicago restaurant week! already had a fabulous dinner with darcy at NAHA on sunday and rob and i will be dining at chicago q this friday!

it also means that chef's week is just around the corner! made a reservation for late march at MK. CANNOT WAIT! the chef's week restaurants had me foaming at the mouth. so excited!

a good friend got engaged over the weekend and i'm so excited for her and her hubby to be! i'm so looking forward to their wedding and i'm already having a blast talking wedding with nicole. love all the fun details!

huge news - the depaul women's basketball team got bumped up to #7 because of their big win vs georgetown. so proud of the ladies! march madness will be here before you know it!

it's week 8 of the quarter which means spring break is near! i'm going to take a couple of days off to sleep, read, veg and clean my apartment before next quarter starts and i'm taking 2 classes and my life is over as i know it.

i'm going to michigan this weekend to visit a college buddy and i can't wait! she has a house i haven't seen and 2 pups i've never met! she's taking us to a craft brew festival which i'm really looking forward to! it'll be nice to get out of the city and get some quality girl time.

just updated my march calendar and it's full of wonderful things to look forward to - time off from school, a visit from the liebls, bday celebrations, concerts and dinners with friends. doesn't get much better than that!

hope everyone else has plenty of happy thoughts these days :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

valentine filled weekend.

i spent the entire weekend with my love and it was a great one. on friday we went to the counter, a build your own burger place in lincoln park. i had a groupon that was expiring soon so we decided to use it up. i went for a turkey burger, with blue cheese, lettuce, onion, scallions and hot wing sauce. it was super spicy but good! rob got a spicy burger of his own and we split cheese fries. we were stuffed but we always have room for bobtail! i also had a groupon for bobtail ice cream and it's really close to the counter so we went for it. i wanted to try something new but i go there so rarely i HAD to get my usual: cubby crunch (cookie crumbles, toffee and little candies in vanilla ice cream) with hot fudge. rob got cappuccino yogurt and white chocolate pb cup. they have games there and i made him play this really really old word game. i thought it would be fun, it was not, but we laughed a lot. afterwards we watched the fighter which was very good! on saturday we ran some errands and i had to work the women's basketball game vs marquette. my parents drove up and rob came to the game too. it was a close game and kept us on the edge of our seats. afterwards we grabbed a late dinner and drink at state, my dad's favorite. when we got home we watched somewhere. i scrapbooked rob's israel trip while we watched and wasn't too impressed with the flick. sunday we celebrated valentine's day a little early with brunch at our favorite - julius meinl. it was gorgeous out for february so the walk to southport felt great. we ordered quite the spread - i got a slice of their cheddar, potato and bacon quiche with a side of marble rye toast with their awesome blueberry jam, a peppermint hot chocolate with whipped cream and ended with traditional apple streudl. i'm full just thinking about it. rob got their famous baked eggs with sausage and some toast and a carmel apple danish and a cappuccino. then we walked down the street to the music box theatre, one of my treasured chicago spots, to see casablanca. it's my parent's favorite movie and i have never seen it all the way through! they started with a cute old man playing the organ and a funny man singing old timey love songs. it was pretty adorable, even rob sang. the movie was fantastic and it definitely put us in the valentine's day spirit. afterwards we had some downtime and i worked on my homework while rob watched tv. this morning he had beautiful roses and dark red carnations sent to my office and we're going to cook dinner together and open presents. truly one of the most memorable valentine's days to date. i'm so lucky!

happy valentine's day everyone!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

snow days

so as everyone has heard, chicago was hit with a boat load of snow this week. i was one of the non-believers and was convinced i'd still be going to work on wednesday and that it wouldn't be that bad. well on tuesday morning we got emails saying we were required to leave by 3 p.m. and that we'd be closed on wednesday and tentatively opening on thursday. depaul hasn't closed in ages for snow. so then i knew it was a big deal. i was not super thrilled because i have SO much to do at work these days and it meant i couldn't do my work out classes! but my freaking professor still decided to conduct an online discussion class that night which i still think is still total bs. so i left work around 330 and i decided i need good snow day food so when i got off the bus and was hit with icy snowflakes and insane winds, i booked it to treasure island and picked up some fancy cheese, crackers, a fro pizza and some cool beers. rob got home shortly after me and we just watched footage on the storm, watched it dump down out my window, checked out weather maps online and listened to the thundersnow. i did my dumb discussion class and then we went downstairs before bed to check out the street and it looked insane! drifts were so high and the winds and lightning were nuts. the next day neither us had to work but i worked from home the best i could but took a break with rob to scoop out his car before everything froze. it was kinda fun but a lot of work. by wednesday night i was super stir crazy so we made a walk to the mailbox just so i could move around. i also started scrapbooking rob's israel trip to keep busy. on thursday rob had to go back to work but i was stuck at home again. i did some work from home and then ventured over to campus to print my homework assignments and work out. it really wasn't that bad but i'm glad they didn't have school. it would have been so tough for commuter students to make it in while campus was still being cleaned up. after my work out i had dinner plans with two of my girlfriends. walking to my friend's apartment was like hiking a mountain. half of the sidewalks hadn't been plowed and it was still pretty windy and very cold but it was worth the trek. we had a great time celebrating my friend's new job and i was so grateful to get out of the house. on friday it was back to work and i worked my butt off trying to catch up but i'm still behind thanks to the snow days. it was definitely an epic couple of days and i'm a little bummed that i didn't take more advantage of the days off to just rest or do fun things like day drink or watch movies all day or something like everyone else did. but it's been a good weekend filled with lots and lots of sleep and fun friend time so i think it all evens out. hope everyone else survived the crazy weather!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

why january rocked!

2011 is treating me well so far. even though i'm drowning in work and school stuff, i'm still having one of the best months ever and here's why....

birthdays galore! i celebrated 1 cute little 2 year old's, 2 coworkers', 2 friends' and my man's birthday this month. i had a ton of fun celebrating all of them! i love getting big groups of people to celebrate someone's special day. we had a girlie party for bella, cookies & burgers for my 1 coworker, cupcakes for my boss, manis for mary, a shady bar bar crawl for ryann and ping pong bar night for rob. all so fun!

also had a couple of free swanky parties thanks to my girl's places of business. tara's work party was at privet where we enjoyed pink champagne and caitlin's was at a cool private space called annex where we enjoyed the photo booth and button making station.

i got to a hawks game with mary and caitlin and they won! i did my first depaul women's basketball game with my parents and rob and they also won and are now ranked #9 in the country!

i had a few really successful events for work including one at the chicago cultural center that had nearly 500 people in attendance - the biggest reception

i ate really well - bbq brisket and cheesy potatoes for rob's birthday, a visit to girl & the goat, meg's homemade goodies, junk food at meg's dinner party, lots of great junk food - sweetwater, dmk & redflame pizza, lots of cheese - some from pastoral, lots at work events and @ a wine tasting with the girls and lastly various ethnic dishes @tara's dinner party.

i saw weezer's memory tour in the vip section, saw rob's bro play some outstanding bluegrass and attempted ice skating again.

overall, it's been a great month filled with lots of quality time, lots of laughs and lots of fun. i certainly hope the rest of 2011 is just like this!

Friday, January 21, 2011

week in review

so all those things i was looking forward to over the weekend were ruined by some weird stomach bug i picked up :( on friday after the gym i just went home and laid on the couch to study and watch tlc bridal shows while my stomach ached. saturday morning i had to wake up and volunteer for 7 hours - which was fun and it went well but i almost vomited numerous times. i came home to nap and woke up even worse and tried to pull it together and go to mary's birthday dinner. i made it there but got sick at the restaurant and had to leave :( i got more sleep and have an awesome boyfriend who left a concert to bring me ginger ale and make me toast - i woke up feeling a little better the next day and pulled it together to go to the hawks game. i wasn't going to miss that!!! i still didn't feel very good but the hawks winning the game and quality time with mary and caitlin was a good temporary fix. monday i had to leave work early and skip bingo, which i HATE to do. i rested up a lot and ate a real meal of plain chicken breast and rice. big step up from the toast and soup i had been consuming for 3 days straight. i woke up the next day feeling almost back to normal and went off to class that night. i really do love my class. i'm learning so much and it really reminds me that i did make the right choice for my program. lots of potential thesis topics are arising. then on wednesday, i woke up and felt like a whole new woman! i'm still exhausted but no stomach issues anymore - knock on wood. i got to get a work out in and then go to the girl & the goat with tara for dinner. i've been DYING to try it. we ordered way too much ofcourse - we had their special bread with whipped goat cheese and a tomato spread, a goat, yogurt and cheese pizza, a chickpea fritter with goat cheese and hummus, crispy chicken breast and a chicken empanada, ham frites and sweet potato gratin with crispy onions and bleu cheese. we could have probably done without the pizza for sure but we wanted to try something with goat. my favorites were the sweet potatoes and crispy chicken breast. none of it blew my mind but everything was good - thoughtful, interesting and good flavor combos. but the best part was just spending time with tara - it had been awhile! and last night i got some quality time with my man - we went to see blue valentine which i thought was a super depressing version of 500 days of summer. i liked it though and i thought ryan gosling was phenomenal. tonight we're off to u of i to see his bro play in his bluegrass band. i'm really looking forward to it! and tomorrow is bella's 2nd birthday party. so the week had it's ups and downs but hopefully the rest of january will be fabulous!

Friday, January 14, 2011

looking forward to....

january has been pretty good to me so far with lots of birthday celebrations, a junk food dinner party, a weezer concert, a wine tasting, ice skating with mrs. j, tara's great work party and an enjoyable class. but there are so many things to look forward to for the rest of the month!

*celebration of service tomorrow
* celebrating mary's birthday tomorrow night
* hawks game on sunday
* girl & the goat with tara on wednesday
* family time on thursday night
*the day off on friday
* seeing rob's brother's bluegrass band at u of i
* bella's 2nd birthday party!
* huge alumni event in 2 weeks
* rob's 26th birthday party
* caitlin's work party
* getting to my first women's bball game of the season

and then it's february!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

transition from vaca back to the real world

monday was my first day back to work after just under 2 weeks off. i ended vacation with mixed emotions. the first half of vacation was busy and full of family time but the second half basically involved a lot of couch and tv time. i can't even really remember what i did...mostly because it was a whole lotta nothing. normally, i have a hard time relaxing and being lazy but i didn't have much trouble this time! my eyes didn't feel tired, my skin looked better and i was sleeping for about 9 hours every night. i did start to crave productivity and felt guilty for being so lazy so i was definitely ready to get back to work on monday. i am glad to have a handle on my projects, have a routine and to jump back into a regular social life. however, i'm really really really tired. i had my first class after 6 weeks of no school on tuesday. i actually loved it! i like the content, the format and the professor. i'm so glad to be back in a classroom learning relevant things that i can apply to my work and my life. BUT i'm not quite ready to be doing homework again...i have so much reading to do and i don't even know how to sit down and do it anymore. i also didn't work out over break and monday was my first work out back. it was pretty standard but yesterday i decided to take a cardio kickboxing class...i haven't seen my face turn so red since jr. high basketball. it was sooo hard and i'm sooo out of shape. i ended up in bed at 10 p.m. but still feel totally exhausted. my calendar is nice and full - just as like it. filled with work functions, fitness classes and fun social outings. i'm so excited for so many things - a wine tasting tonight, weezer concert tomorrow, ice skating on saturday and several birthday parties - it's going to be a great month! but my body hasn't adjusted back to productive yet. i'm still stuck on the desire to sit around and do nothing. there are so many things i like about my non-vacation life but i need to get back in the groove!! hopefully i snap back soon!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 recap!

2010 was quite the year! it was full of wonderful memories and special occasions. here are some of the highlights!

i took 8 vacations/trips this year! i started the year in prague with rob, milwaukee with tara and ry, daytona beach with the horaths, california to visit caitlin and the liebls, hunky dory with the jensens, france with depaul folks, minnesota for rob's cousin's wedding and galena with my best girlfriends - not to mention several trips to michigan throughout the summer/fall. i can't believe i was out of town so much! i had so many amazing experiences with wonderful people and i can't be more grateful for all of the fun travel i did this year.

i was part of two weddings this year for two of my best friends! i had the honor of standing up in both weddings. it was so special to be part of two of my oldest and best friend's special days. i had an absolute blast at each wedding and both of the brides did a wonderful job!

i also became an "auntie" - unofficially. rob's sis had a perfect baby boy, luke. its been great watching him grow up over this past year and to be able share many memories with him and amy & tom.

i tried 64 new restaurants! my new year's resolution last year was to try as many new places as i could and i surpassed my goal! here's the list of all the places i tried:

tizi melloul, prosecco, nesh, blackbird, gemini bistro, may st. cafe, floriole, red mango, izaru, eleaven, bistrot zinc, duchamp, fireplace inn, piccolo sogno, firehouse grill, dmk burger bar, lucky's, devon seafood & grill, meze, sola, park grill, harmony grill, el nuevo, primebar, the counter, shiso, big star, falafel, kith & kin, fuego, cafe twist, five guys, renaldis, rhapsody, pho&i, jam, lokal, urban burger bar, the crossing, longman and eagle, chizakaya, revolution brewing, zocalo, cookie bar, birds nest, m burger, sable, fresca at macy's, del seoul, meatloaf bakery, paciugo, more cupcakes, al's beef, sunda, julius meinl, mista, bangers and lace, lovely, crisp, dog house, walnut room, table 52, castos, xoco.

i'm pretty proud of that list! it was a mix of fast food, burger joints, foodie spots, gourmet, dessert places, cafes and bars. i had a really hard time selecting my favorites but i think these are my top fives: longman and eagle, jam, table 52, nesh and crisp. my least favorites: fuego, blackbird, prosecco and urban burger bar are definitely places i will never return. honorable mentions: piccolo sogno, zocalo, kith & kin, julius menil, xoco and fireplace inn. i plan to keep track of all the new restaurants i try again this year because it's great to look back at all the amazing food i tried and meals i enjoyed.

this year's resolution is to be more spontaneous and allow more me time. i'm looking forward to all that 2011 has to offer! happy new year friends!