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!