Friday, December 19, 2014

Happy Thoughts:Part 2

Recently I posted 3 good things that happened to me everyday for a month after reading this article I enjoyed looking at the little things in life that made a big impact on my mood and happiness. I am going to do it again, but this time for things that I'm grateful for until I leave for winter break.

1. Volunteering with delightful kiddos and their moms. 2. Brief craft time with Lydia. 3. Dinner at the table with Rob.
1. Lee telling me he loved me at Bingo. 2. Time to catch up with Rob before bed. 3. Leftover mini cupcakes.
1. Fleece lined leggings. 2. The soup I made for lunches this week. 3. Mini cupcakes that were surprisingly delicious.
1. The homeless man that said "Hell yes! Thank you so much!" when I offered him one of the giant Potbelly's sugar cookies I purchased at my Chicago Cares Fundraiser. 2. The stranger that said God Bless you for helping after I gave a woman a dollar. 3. Getting home in time to watch Top Chef and craft.
1-3. BFF time at Wine night at Ryann's.
1. Not being horribly freezing today. 2. Our office's Thanksgiving potluck was really nice and I'm stuffed full of all sorts of carbs. 3. Getting new books at the library. 4. Fun comedy show at quality time with Caitlin.
1. A great ass kicking workout at PSF. 2. Lazy time with Rob. 3. Quality time with Mary.
1. A clean apartment. 2. Time to make healthy soup for lunches. 3. Craft time with Laura. 4. A healthy dinner. 5. Flowers from my husband.
1. Cozy sweatpants. 2. My bingo guys. 3. Quiet time.
1. Peaceful protests in Chicago. 2. Sunshine. 3. Amazing meal with Darcy and Frank at BoHo.
1. A day off. 2. Connie time. 3. Stef time. 4. The most amazing card from my "cousin" Grace. She's too cute!
1. Thankful for food and love on Thanksgiving! 2. Serving some really, really sweet seniors. 3. Enjoying fam time at my cousin's first Thanksgiving.
1. Burning off a small portion of the calories consumed at spin with Mary. 2. A very lazy day. 3. Spending time with Cody and seeing his band perform.
1. Getting most of my Christmas shopping done in one sitting. 2. Spring like weather. 3. Getting festive at the Christkindl market with the girls.
1. Making a couple little kids smile by making them paper crowns at Lurie's Children's Hospital. 2. Quiet time with Rob tearing it up on our puzzle. 3. Time for coffee and reading on my own.
1. Taking a new route to work and shortening my commute. 2. My gray cape to keep me cozy and comfy in my office. 3. Time to skype with the Liebls.
1. My husband getting up early to make me coffee. 2. It being sunny enough to need to wear sunglasses. 3. Free tix to a Bulls game thanks to my husband.
1. Sunshine. 2. Cheering for the women's bball team over lunch. 3. Getting make a healthy dinner and watch Top Chef.
1. Having my Grandmother's wedding band that reminds me of her when I wear it. 2. My supportive husband being there when I need him. 3. Supportive friends coming to my work event.
1. A book to read while waiting. 2. Cozy pjs for my sick day. 3. A night in with my husband.
1. Dunkin Donuts Coffee. 2. Laughter with my gals. 3. 10 hours of sleep.
1. Seeing Connie smile and tell me that she likes me a lot while coloring at a Christmas event together. 2. Getting back to the gym for a good workout and feeling strong. 3. Quality time with Lydia and movie theater popcorn.
1. Rain boots. 2. My dad. 3. Christmas lights on our block.
1. Dunkin Donuts Coffee. 2. Getting in the holiday spirit with Rob decorating our tree! 3. Access and funds for food and grocery runs whenever I want.
1. The bearable weather we've had the last couple weeks. 2. Getting everyone's Christmas gifts delivered. 3. Another amazing card from my Grandma's cousin.
1. Finding the perfect parking spot. 2. New episode of Serial today. 3. Cookie Exchange and lots of laughter at Nicole's.
1. TGIF. 2. Getting in the spirit at Christmas at DePaul with Shalva and Mary. 3. Having way too much fun out with them afterwards.

1. Free time. 2. Enjoying game night with my family. 3. Plotting and planning Christmas gifts with mom. I love gift giving!
1. A good sweat ses at Powersculpt. 2. Celebrating Grandpa's 92nd birthday with the Jensens while Rob played acoustic brunch. It was a very special way to celebrate. 3. Visiting Brookfield Zoo with Stef, Jeff and Taylor. It's one of my favorite places to visit and it was awesome to get to go with them. We saw a ton of animals too.
1. I got to have lunch with some of my Vincentian Heritage Tour trip colleagues. 2. Time to catch up on Homeland. 3. A warm bed and cozy apartment.
1. Dunkin coffee. 2. Vanessa & Tobi time! They came all the way up to the city to have lunch with me. I'm one lucky gal. 3. My husband letting me watching trashy Bravo tv shows.
12/17/14 1. My coworker brought us decadent coffee cake. Win! 2-3 Time with Ness, Tobi, Darc, Frank & Vicki and Rob.
1. Dunkin coffee. 2. A little sunshine poking through the clouds. 3. Alone time to cook and finish wrapping Christmas gifts. Felt good!
1. I'm always grateful for the security Rob and I have in life - our own apartment, food in the fridge, heat and money to pay the bills, a car, savings in the bank and each other. Feeling extra grateful for that today. 2. So grateful for to work somewhere that closes for the holidays and that Rob's office closes too. Can't wait to enjoy our break together and with our families and friends. 3. I get to celebrate Stef's birthday tonight and see lots of buds. Can't wait!

I loved looking back on this list to see the bright spots and little things that add up to make me incredibly grateful and happy. I'm so lucky to have a great group of loved ones and different opportunities around the city to enjoy. Feeling blessed and grateful heading into Christmastime! Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Quotes & Mantras

I'm still obsessed with quotes on Pinterest and select one for my Gchat status each week and one for my Weekly to do list. I love making quote books, sending the pins to friends and reading them to get through my day. Here are my favorites at the moment:

"Start each day with a grateful heart"
"The day will go the way the corners of your mouth turn."
"Talk about your blessings more than you talk about your burdens."
"Give thanks with a grateful heart." 1 Thessalonians 5:8
"If you can't feed one hundred people then just feed one." Mother Teresa
"Peace begins when the hungry are fed." Dorothy Day
"There is nothing like staying home for real comfort." Jane Austen
"When words are both true and kind they can change the world." Buddha
"When I'm worried and cannot sleep I count blessings instead of sheep." Bing Crosby
"Don't let yesterday use too much of today." Will Rogers
"We can't help everyone but everyone can help someone" Ronald Reagan
"Be the change you wish to see in the world." Ghandi
"Be with those who help your being." Rumi

2014 Recap

2014 has had it's ups and downs but I like where it's ended up! Here are some highlights.

- I took some vacas this year. In January I went to Milwaukee to celebrate Mary's 30th with the gals. Rob and I visited the Carnes in Merrill, WI in March which was super fun. Also in March Rob and I went to San Francisco/Monterey which was just delightful and fun times with the Liebls. We went to Montreal in May and had the best time. Tons of great food and park naps. We went to Hunky Dory in July with the Jensens which was lovely as usual! Rob and I made several trips to SW Michigan including one to visit the Horaths at their beautiful home and a weekend in Union Pier for our anniversary that was filled with fun outdoor activities and relaxation. Lastly we made the big trip to France for Pitchfork Paris and got to hang with Ness & Tob and also visit the Auvergne region. Truly a great year of travel!

- We celebrated Ness & Tobi's Chicago wedding and Leah & Matt's wedding over the summer and Jenni & Aaron's in the fall. Love love.

- Lots of friends are pregnant so 2015 will bring lots of babies! We were asked to be the God Parents for baby boy Shaklee and we just can't wait to meet him! Stef and Jeff are expecting baby number 2 and so are Jamie and Kyle.

- I volunteered a lot. I see Connie 2x a month and we did all sorts of fun stuff this year. My favorites were the Holiday Party hosted by the park district that Connie loved! She got to pet reindeer and do lots of crafts. I also loved the fall Chicago Park District event we went to where the staff were So nice and helped us get a great pumpkin for her to decorate. Rob and I did our favorite Breakthrough Urban Ministries project a few times, New Life for Old Bags, Sunlight of the Spirit food pantry, Cardz for Kidz projects, served Thanksgiving lunch to seniors and bingo every week. I also did a lot of the DePaul alumni volunteer projects which have been really special.

- I worked out a lot. I got really into Powersculpt Fitness this year and it's been challenging and time consuming but I see the results and am proud of the work I've put into it.

- I paid off my student loans!

- Saw lots of bluegrass and folk shows. Rob and I saw Ralph Stanley, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, Noam Pilkeny 2x and one time with my favorite Aiofe O'Donovan, and seeing Rob's new band The Wandering Boys a few times!

- We put an offer on a lake house! This was huge and an awesome learning experience. We ended up walking away and are still on the prowl for our perfect house.

- We moved in July! We love love love our new place. So much happier in our new home.

- Had a lot of fun with my girlfriends doing different things like summer festivals, our new monthly wine night, an electric boat ride, volunteering, seeing different shows, comedy/plays/concerts and lots of trips to the movies. I always laugh most when we're together and I'm so grateful for my buds.

- Spent a lot of time with family doing fam bbqs and dinners and playing silly games.

- Did tons of fun dates with Rob that usually involved pizza, ice cream, basketball games or Michigan. The best was the ghost tour we did though. So ridiculous.

- I did a lot for myself this year. Making sure I had enough alone time, saying no to things I didn't want to do or wasn't up for and doing my best to spend time doing the things that make me happy - volunteering, spending times with loved ones, getting enough down time, making meals at home and working out. I continue to work on investing time into the relationships that matter most to me, trying not to sweat the relationships that might not be as strong as they used to and communicating how much those VIP loved ones mean to me. This is a work in progress! I'm excited to have some time off from work over the holidays and see what 2015 has to offer.

Monday, December 15, 2014

'Tis the Season

This holiday season has been great! I feel like we've been doing a ton to get in the spirit. It all started with Thanksgiving. I got to enjoy a Friendsgiving at Ryann's new apartment, have a Thanksgiving lunch and craft session with Connie, volunteer on Thanksgiving morning with Rob and Chicago Cares at a Senior Residence and celebrate with my family at my cousin Kate's in the city. The Christmas season lasts a little longer so we get to celebrate even more! I've been super on top of Christmas shopping and even wrapping. The best part of the season has been doing fun activities with loved ones. I got to take Connie to an amazing Chicago Park District Holiday event where they had crafts, press on tats, Santa, electric trains, ornament decorating, reindeer and cocoa. We loved it! Rob and I bought our tree and decorated our apartment and sent out some festive holiday cards. I exchanged gifts and went out for a movie with Lydia. Nicole hosted our annual cookie exchange at her beautiful condo. Mary, Shalva and I went to Christmas at DePaul. Mom hosted us for our holiday ham & cheese toasties and game night. Rob and I went with Stef, Jeff and Taylor to Brookfield Zoo's Holiday Magic on a fairly warm night. We still have Rob's holiday party, I have Mary's holiday party, I have holiday bingo with my seniors, Lincoln Park Zoo Lights with Tara, Christmas Eve workouts at PSF before spending the holidays with my fam, New Year's Eve date with my man, Hangover brunch with my DePaul girls and a late holiday dinner with my fam and Aunt Joan. We're so lucky to get to spend the holidays with family and friends. I'm so grateful that my holiday is full of cheer, love and generosity.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

France 2014

Rob is such a bad ass at his job, he reached his sales quota and got us a free trip to Paris for the Pitchfork Paris Festival at the end of October. I am so lucky!

Day 1.
We had an easy flight there and slept a ton. We made it to our hotel which was conveniently located directly across the street from the festival. We couldn't check into our room so we journeyed out on a little walk. We went to Parc des Buttes-Chautmont first that was very close to our hotel. It's huge with ponds, a water fall, lots of green space and walking paths. They have a great lookout point too. We really enjoyed walking around there even though we were in a total daze. Then we went to another lookout point Rob had heard of that is just above a little winery. It was in this very quiet nook of the city and very pretty. Then we made our way to find lunch and we came across this adorable cafe that was just perfect. We got some coffees and "club" paninis with salad that were soooo good. They had ham, cream cheese and sprouts. Loved them. Then we walked through the cemetery where all the famous folks are buried. We were basically zombies at this point but we checked it out and of course swung by Jim Morrison's grave too. Then we finally made our way back to the hotel to shower and rest. We got dinner nearby at a little crepe shop that was so great! We had galletes with bacon, walnuts, honey and goats cheese and then shared a nutella crepe. The owner was SO nice! Then we stopped by the preparty show for awhile before crashing.

Day 2
The next day we went to Angelina a famous/touristy macaroon and tea room where we got espresso, macaroons and chocolate croissants to go and ate them in the beautiful Tuileries Garden. We enjoyed the sun and the flowers before swinging by the outside of the Louvre for photos, checking out the Royal Palais garden that was pretty blah. Then we made our way to the Pompidou which was filled with interesting art. We had a fun time looking at the contemporary exhibit even though we were still feeling very jetlagged/hazy. We found a cafe to get lunch afterwards nearby. I had a cheese pizza bread thing and a raspberry tart and Rob had a ham and cheese sandwich and lemon pastry. We rested up at the hotel after that and went to the festival for the first night. We got to see the War on Drugs and James Blake and connect with Rob's colleagues. We had dinner at the fest - I think we had chicken curry with couscous and lots of cheese. Rob went to the after party show for awhile and I totally crashed and fell asleep early.

Day 3
The next day we tried to go to the catacombs for Halloween but there was a HUGE wait so we got pastries and coffee and walked to a different area. We breezed through an outdoor market and then found the St. Vincent de Paul Chapel that I had visited when I went on the DePaul Heritage Tour. St. Vincent's wax effigy with his remains underneath are there. It's a very, very strange but very cool thing and I'm glad that I got to see it again. Afterwards we visited a few stores and went shopping at Bon Marche's Grand Epicure and got sandwiches and salads for a lunch picnic. Bon Marche's Grand Epicure is basically like Chicago's Eataly. We found a good spot in the Luxembourg Garden - my favorite spot - and set up our lunch picnic. It was absolutely gorgeous out so it was nice to relax, soak up the sun and enjoy some yummie sandwiches and snacks. There was a totalllllly weird couple next to us though. The guy was tongue bathing his girlfriend's foot. I've never seen anything like it and it was really gross. But we still loved our time at the garden! Then we rested up at the hotel before hitting up the fest. We had dinner there. Rob had an interesting pork dish with broccoli and rice and I had broccoli and rice and more cheese. We got to connect with Nessa & Tobi that night!!! They got there in time for my favorite, St. Vincent! She killed it as usual. It was so fun to see Ness & Tobi and show them the music festival - it was their first one ever! We hung out for the headliner, Belle & Sebastian - people loved them.

Day 4
The next day we walked over to Nessa & Tobi's hotel and then made our way to the Marais neighborhood for brunch. Ness took us back to a place she had really liked on a previous visit. It was super cool inside and the servers were incredibly nice to translate the menus for us. We all had different types of quiche that were really cool and then shared some of their famous cakes include a mile high meringue. Then we shopped around the area for awhile before taking a rest in Les Vosges Parc. It was a beautiful day and I love relaxing in parks! We popped in to a photography exhibit that was free and had some interesting, some out there and some beautiful pieces. Then we went for falafel which is very popular in the area. I loved my falafel pita and the giant serving of fries we had. Then we went back to our hotels to relax before the fest. Rob and I went over a little early to see some bands and then Ness & Tobi made it in time to see Tuneyards who were incredible! It was the best set for me all weekend. So fun and so good! Later on we got food - I had a veg burger that had a lot of curry and interesting veggies in it and Tobi had a hotdog and Ness and Rob shared fries. We watched some more bands, looked through the craft market and sang Happy Birthday to Ness at midnight! It was a great night. Rob and I stuck around and hung out with the staff.

Day 5
The next day Ness & Tobi came over to our hotel and Ness opened her presents and then we went to a really nice patisserie for a delicious chocolate croissant and coffees that turned out to be hot cocoa womp womp. We walked through an artist market and relaxed in the Luxembourg Garden even though it was chillier. We walked through a food market and we got some cheese, bread and veggies for the rest of our trip. Then we went to a crepe place for Nessa's bday lunch! We all had decadent crepes and were stuffed afterwards. We went back towards the hotel and found a grocery store to get the rest of our groceries for the trip. We went back to our hotel until it was time for them to leave for the airport and us for the Pitchfork staff dinner. We had such a good time with Ness and Tob even though we had quite the cloud of jetlag over us. I love our time abroad together and to get extra quality time with my best bud. The Pitchfork staff dinner was really tasty at the hotel they used to stay at. Then we went to a hip club where some of the staff were djing. We had a good last night with the staff!

Day 6
The next day we got up early to pick up our rental car for our getaway. We got some subpar pastries and coffee and Rob drove the whole 4 hours to the Auvergne region. We were both really tired but enjoyed the scenery. The Volca Lodge hotel was really easy to find and truly set in the most gorgeous place. The owner is SO nice and welcoming and spoke English with us. Our little eco lodge was so cozy, so cute and so perfect. We were so excited to spend a couple of days there. We dropped our things and made a quick lunch of tomato and cheese sandwiches and then we went straight to the Puy de Dome - the dormant volcano with a tram that takes you to the top for the views of all the other dormant volcanoes and trails. It was SO windy and so chilly but we were awestruck by the beauty up there. We've never seen anything like it! We had a great time taking pics and soaking it all in. Afterwards we returned to the hotel for dinner. It was the best meal we had the entire trip. So good! Rob had a salad with fresh goat cheese from the owner's farm, a pork filet mignon with potatoes, a cheese course and a little berry tart. I did the tasting menu and got a big board with amazing cheese, salad, the most amazing cheesey potatoes, ham and sausage. We shared a bottle of local wine and I also had a berry tart. Everything was so great!

Day 7
We slept in the next day and Rob made me breakfast in bed with fruit and nutella - so nice :) It was raining steadily ALL day so we just relaxed, read, watched tv and really rested. Rob got in the hot tub for awhile even though it was raining. I made us more tomato and cheese sandwiches for lunch and then we drove into town to the thermal baths. These baths weren't nearly as nice and luxurious as the ones we visited in Italy but they were still really relaxing and fun. We liked the whirlpool outside and the super hot one inside. Afterwards we struggled to find a good spot for dinner but stumbled across a burger joint that looked cute. We went in and the owner was SO nice and spoke English and he told us it was their take on fast food but that it was all local ingredients. Rob had a pork burger that he loved and frites that were really tasty. I got a salad with fried cheese on it that totally hit the spot! We returned to the eco lodge and got another good night's sleep.

Day 8
The next day we returned to Paris and checked into our new hotel which was in a bustling part of the city. We caved and got Starbucks and walked through a little secret church garden before walking to Notre Dame to see the sunset and walking through to warm up and light a candle. Then we shopped around this cute little area and grabbed a drink at a strange bar. Then we walked to the steak frites place that I had visited last time I was in Paris but a different location. It was super crowded but I was able to get us a seat pretty fast. They only serve steak frites and just ask you how you want it prepared. It comes with the most delicious sauce. I haven't had steak in a long time but I couldn't pass it up! It was super good and Rob loved it and that made me happy. It was a great way to end our trip! I feel so, so lucky to have had the opportunity to go on this trip. I'm pretty spoiled!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


I like to think that I try to keep a grateful attitude throughout the entire year, but I try extra hard during November and around Thanksgiving. I have so much to be thankful for everyday and I feel so lucky to have the life that I do. Here's my November gratitude list.

This month I am grateful for...
A beautiful, cozy apartment/roof over my head
A fridge full of food, access and funds to purchase food and never going hungry
A closet full of clothes, access and funds to get more clothes when I need them and everything I need to stay warm during the winter
My job that helps me pay the bills, but also expose me to many amazing opportunities, resources and people.
A car that makes getting around much easier and being able to afford gas
My handsome, patient, kind, loving, supportive, talented, comforting, generous husband. He's my everything.
My supportive and loving family that loves me unconditionally and supports me in everything that I do. Plus they're pretty fun to be around too.
My in-laws that are incredibly supportive and kind-hearted. I'm so lucky to be part of their fam.
My health. Despite having a cold right now, I'm so grateful to lead a generally healthy life and have access to healthcare when I need it. I'm grateful for the ability to exercise, walk where I need to go, see and hear the world around me
A giant group of amazing girlfriends. I find so much comfort from my girls when I need it, inspiration to be a better person/employee/sister/daughter/wife/friend, lots of laughter and shared values, interests and understandings. So lucky. So much love.
My seniors at bingo. They make me smile, tell me they love me and treat me like family. LOVE.
My Best Buddy, Connie. She is one in a million and I'm so grateful that I got paired up with my funny, slightly devious, crafty buddy. LOVE.
The ability and means to travel around the world
My education and access to more if I want it.
The city of Chicago. Sometimes it lets me down with it's terrible weather, crime, CTA crappiness, it is still home and a place I'm proud to call home filled with so many beautiful nooks and crannies, world class museums and restaurants, fun things to do and nearly all of my favorite people. CHILOVE.
Never being lonely and always surrounded by love and support.
Alone time.
Coffee and Coke Zero.
Easy internet access, easy texting, easy ways to communicate with friends and family.
Memories with loved ones to last a lifetime.
To never have faced any major hardships and to lead a very blessed and comfortable life.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Happy Thoughts

I came across this article about happy thoughts that a friend posted on Facebook and decided to do one of the things it suggested - to write down 3 good things that happened everyday and to consider why those good things went well. I'm going to try it out on 9/15 and record them here for 4 weeks.


1. My husband made me coffee to go in the morning because he is so nice. 2. I called Connie on her birthday and we said I love you! 3. All my bingo boys won and I even won which never happens. I love when they win.


1. I got an unbelievable note in response to a note I had sent from my Grandmother's cousin. Filled with adorableness. I love old people. 2. I got to have a lunch picnic and read chick lit. I'm glad I stepped out of the office to enjoy some sunlight and quiet time away from my desk 3. I got a free dinner at my board meeting. Grateful that they fed us. The meeting went well too. It's finally getting on track.


1. A train came right as I walked up to the platform and I got a seat! 2. There was a giant sale at Banana Republic and I got to use my bday gift cards and stock up on new items. 3. I had a good day at work. Great annual review and awesome alumni event. yay!


1. It's beautiful weather today - mid 60s. 2. My husband made coffee for me again this morning because I'm spoiled. 3. I received another wonderful card in response to one I sent from a family friend.


1. The sun is up and it's Friday. I got to sit outside and soak up the sun for a few moments after a meeting. YES! 2. we booked our January trip to San Francisco and Tahoe for Rob's 30th. YES! 3. We had a lovely date night at a restaurant we frequent in our hood. YES!


1. We got to spend tons of quality time with our families and friends. Lots of love and lots of hugs. 2. I picked up my gorgeous Munich/Merano photo album. Turned out so nicely and I'm so happy with it. It's been on the back burner for ever and it's great to have something that important to me done 3. The girls made me laugh a lot on Saturday night. Needed it.


1. Connie time at the arcade. She never fails to make me smile. 2. Healthy dinner and happy/feel-good movie night. 3. Ass kicking workout that I needed.


1. I didn't wake up feeling exhausted for once - on a Monday especially. yay! 2. I heard the most amazing Motown acapella group at the Lake Red Line Stop. They even had dance moves! It was impossible not to smile. 3. I put myself to bed early and read a lot of my chick lit book.


1. Our alumni chaplain, Father Bill came by for a visit and he's just so cheery! 2. My friend Jamie and her daughter Allie came to visit and spend the night. 3. I got to check out some spots around the hood that I hadn't yet.


1. I had to take a sick day which I hate but I got a lot of sleep which I needed. 2. I also got to finish my book and have some quiet time. 3. I ended up keeping my afternoon meetings and I got to duck into the Cultural Center in between them to view some cool art.


1. My friend Ryann is doing a damn good job cheering me up on this difficult week with videos and pics of cute animals! 2. I splurged and ordered Jimmy John's for lunch and it made me unreasonably happy. 3. Shalva hosted us for Rosh Hashanah on our monthly wine night and it was a beautiful meal and I was surrounded by my best friends. So grateful.


1. I took the time to attend the St. Vincent de Paul Feast Day Prayer Breakfast. I love participating in activities like this for Vinnie refreshers. 2. I forced Rob to go square dancing with me at Old Town School of Folk. It was pretty amusing. 3. I emailed and reached out to a ton of family members and loved getting the responses.


1. I got to sleep in and wake up without an alarm. 2. We spent the day in Michigan and it was the best day I've had in awhile. Petting zoo, swinging on the bluff, farmers market, our favorite pizza, apple picking. Seriously great. 3. We enjoyed a healthy dinner on our porch and I crafted cards for my best buds the rest of the night.


1. I ended up getting to join my friend Tara at Chicago Gourmet downtown last minute. Soaking up the sun and stuffing face. 2. We celebrated my brother's birthday and enjoyed playing a new game. It was good family time. 3. I don't remember why we were laughing so much but right before bed Rob and I were laughing and joking and I went to bed smiling.


1. PICNIC LUNCH in 78 degree weather. HELL YES. 2. a check in email from my friend Ryann was incredibly comforting. She's the best. 3. John was SO cute when he won at bingo tonight I teared up. 4. I read my chick lit book quietly on the couch for an hour. It was glorious. Yes this day had 4 good things.


1. This just wasn't a great day but Rob did make me coffee. 2. I got to see a handful of my nicest volunteers and event. 3. I made nachos when I got home and they ruled.


1. My brother's birthday! Had a nice quick chat with him and my dad. 2. We hosted two nice events. The attendees were very grateful and happy to participate which is always nice. 3. I took the time to have a lunch picnic, soak up the sun and read my book.


1. A bunch of the cards I made hit mailboxes and everyone's responses are making me happy. 2. I got to have dinner with my best friend at one of my favorite places. 3. Rob made me my lunch so that I could go to sleep early after a long, tough day.


1. My best friends are so supportive and kind during this hard time. 2. Dunkin Donuts coffee. Yes. 3. We got to celebrate our friends Jenni & Aaron's rehearsal dinner.


1. We enjoyed brunch at my cousin Kate's before departing for the wedding. It was so nice to spend time together. 2. When I'm at weddings I'm always reminded of how much I love Rob and how lucky I am to have him as my husband. He's the best date and the best husband. 3. We got to send off our friends with hugs and love as they start their new life in DC.


1. My mom helped me at my pumpkin patch event and it was a sunny, beautiful day. She was the best helper. 2. I had a killer, killer workout. Felt great! 3. Great Connie time painting pumpkins. I especially loved when she told me how sometimes she likes a mess.


1. Our anniversary! We got so many well wishes from friends and family. It truly warmed my heart. 2. We celebrated with a decadent meal at BOKA. Delic! 3. I finally got to share the anniversary plans with Rob for our weekend getaway to Michigan. We're both so excited.


1. We had my uncle's funeral mass. It was pretty awesome to meet all the people he touched throughout his life. We got to see a side of him that I would have never known. 2. I got to share my favorite photos of Bill with his wife, Joan. It made me really happy to see her enjoy them. 3. I made it to a hard fitness class at the end of the night and felt so much better after the difficult day.


1. We had my uncle's burial. It was a bright and sunny day and I think he was shining his light down on us to make the day a little easier. 2. I got to hear the story of how Bill and Joan met and I loved it. They were set up and met at a mutual friend's wedding. After the wedding they took a walk around the block and made plans for another date. The rest is history. 3. I got to do kickbox with my friend Mary. I didn't realize how much I needed to see a friend until I saw her smiling face!


1. I started a craft for my mom and it's making me really happy to collect everything for it. 2. I caught a glimpse of fireworks after an event at Navy Pier. They're usually on Wednesdays so it was definitely a surprise. 3. I got to see my brother in law's super fun band play and also spend time with my best friend, Ry and her super fan boyfriend.


1. We departed for our Michigan getaway after work! 2. When we arrived we got to visit Greenbush Brewery and have fantastic food and beers. 3. We spent true quality time together with no stresses or distractions.


1. We had a delicious breakfast at the b&b and we were happy to sit by ourselves - we always hate chit chatting with other guests. 2. We tried kayaking, biking and hiking. It was really fun to be so active and it was a gorgeous day. 3. We took 2 naps!


1. Another gorgeous day and delicious breakfast at the b&b. 2. We discovered this cool park that had a boardwalk by a marsh and then a canopy walkway overlooking the Galien River. We enjoyed hiking around. 3. Enjoyed 2 of our favorite, way too suspenseful Sunday night shows - The Walking Dead and Homeland - before going to bed early. 4. I got a fantastic email from Rob's aunt in response to one I had recently sent. Put a big smile on my face.


1. There was no traffic because it's Columbus Day! 2. I wore the necklace Lee gave me to bingo and it made him so happy. 3. I put myself to bed at 10 p.m. and it was glorious.


1. I took a lot of time to work on Paris planning. It feels good to have a better sense of what we're doing while we're there. 2. I chatted with Connie before a super hard spin class. She is so hilarious. She always puts a huge smile on my face. 3. My oldest, dearest friend and her family came over to share that pizza and ask us the most amazing question! If we'd be the Godparents for their next baby! We are so honored and thrilled! I love Meg, Ry, Bella & Emi so much and I can't wait to meet baby #3! Bella saying "I love you" on the way out the door made my heart burst. Emi saying "Mommy I'm having fun." at the dinner table was equally heart bursting. 4. I received very thoughtful sympathy cards from my best friend Tara and family friends the Holmans. Everyone has been so kind!


This is the last day of my challenge! 1. my colleague brought in munster donuts. YUM! 2. I had a crazy hard workout with Mary. Felt great though! 3. Rob and I made a superb dinner of rice, tomatoes, chickpeas, spinach, parmesan and roasted delicata squash. So good.

These little things don't seem that groundbreaking but they are the little things that make my day. I think taking the time to think about the nice or happy moments in my day really make me more serene, grateful and happy. Sometimes it was hard to pick out something specific that made me happy or that was good that day, especially during some difficult times with the loss of my uncle. However, picking out these little bright spots and then going back and reading them definitely made me smile. It's funny to see the trends - coffee clearly has a big impact on my happy moments, spending time away from my desk or enjoying outside during the work day, my best friends, Connie & my bingo boys, quality time with Rob and my fam, early bed times all seem to make me quite happy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Anniversary Trip to Union Pier, MI

My gift to Rob was a weekend getaway to Union Pier, MI and it was so fun! We stayed at the Goldberry Woods B&B and arrived on Friday night. We loved our room that had a beautiful handcrafted wood bed frame and a fireplace. It shared a hallway with one other room and it was set far away from the kitchen so it was pretty quiet. We went right to Greenbush Brewing in Sawyer for dinner and drinks and were met with a long wait. Luckily they have this cool annex across the street where you can get beers on tap and meats & cheeses so we enjoyed that while we waited for our table. We both liked our beers but my first one was a tad strong for me so I made Rob finish it. Rob got a turkey & bacon melt and I got a succatash that was super tasty. We also got pretzels and cheese as Bo & Ry instructed us after their visit. They were right, super tasty! Rob has been wanting to go there for ages so I'm glad we finally got to enjoy it! The next day after a very yummie breakfast of quiche, oatmeal, melon and pumpkin spice muffins we set out to kayak on the Galien River. The B&B has free kayaks and canoes available but their section of the river is covered in downed trees so we weren't able to kayak for long. I didn't like dripping water on my pants over and over again anyway. It was fun and very scenic while it lasted though. Then we went on a short walk on their river path before grabbing bikes to cruise around the neighborhood. We started out by biking through a neighborhood to a nearby beach entry. It was SO pretty! I hadn't planned on visiting a beach but I'm so glad we did. Then we biked around a bit more before taking a quick rest. We were starved when we woke up and drove to New Buffalo to go to The Stray Dog. It's a super popular place that we've never tried so we decided it was a good time to go. Well so did everyone else in town! Another really long wait! Rob was happy with his pumpkin beer while we waited and then our food came out super fast. It was just ok. We're glad we tried it and can cross it off our list. I think we came back to the b&b and rested even more before dinner at Tosi's in Stevensville. Tosi's is a classic, fine-dining Italian spot that I've only eaten at once. My parents used to go on date night when we stayed at the Chalets in Stevensville. We arrived to our 3rd long wait! We just had to laugh. Everyone in town had the same ideas we did this weekend. When we finally sat down we got delicious bread with fresh shaved parm and delicious olive oil. Rob was good and ordered off their "lighter side" menu and got a penne and soup. I got ravioli and salad. We somehow found room to split dessert - a chocolate pecan pie. SO GOOD! When we got back we wrote in our memory book and watched some scary movies on tv. The next day we enjoyed another tasty breakfast of yogurt parfait, local sausage and butternut pancakes. Everything was very good. Afterwards we packed up our stuff and then did the 2 small hiking paths on the property we hadn't checked out yet. After we checked out we went to the Galien River Park where they have a boardwalk by the marsh and river and a canopy walkway that's 300ft in the air! It was so pretty and had great views and photo ops. Then we went to the farmers market nearby and got some produce for the week and then went to the chili cookoff. Overall it was a super relaxing and fun filled weekend in our favorite area of Michigan!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Summer 2014

Everyone in Chicago feels like that we didn't get a real summer because it wasn't very hot. I LOVED it! It was just up my alley with mild temps. Even though the calendar says it's not officially fall yet, it definitely feels like it so I'm ready to recap my summer!

* We moved into an apartment we LOVE! YAY! Finally.

* We celebrated 2 weddings this summer! First we attended Matt & Leah's wedding which was a blast! Later in the summer we had Nessa & Tobi's Chicago wedding celebration which was just perfect. So happy to celebrate these amazing couples!

* We went to Montreal at the beginning of June which was a blast and super relaxing. We went to Hunky Dory for the annual family trip in July and loved every second. We also had a few day trips up to Michigan to enjoy our favorite beach in St. Joe's and visit our usual haunts like Redamak's and try some new ones like Silver Beach Pizza. Even checked out potential lakehouses!

* I went to a lot of fests like any good Chicagoan will do in the summer. I started out at my favorite one, Maifest with my bud Ry. I also went to Ribfest with Tara, Taste of Greek Town with Caitlin, Pitchfork with Rob & Friends, the Hideout Block Party with Rob, Riot Fest with Rob, German American Fest with Rob, Ryann & Bo, Retro on Roscoe with Tara & Friends, and super briefly visited East Lakeview Arts Festival.

* I played Veggie Bingo with Darc and Rob AND won!

* I hit up one Cubs game with Rob and we just ate and ate and the Cubbies actually won!

* I spent time with the fam for numerous bbqs and pizza nights. Lots of talk of playing bags and bocce and then never doing it.

* Rob and I did a ghost tour and it was hilarious.

* I turned THIRTY! and celebrated with all of my most favorite people at Bang Bang Pie Shop. I also got to party with my folks and see Gillian Welch with Rob.

* I had a lot of fun with my DePaul bffs - on an electric boat ride, bowling for Tara's bday, picnicking for Nicole's bday, went to a cool story-telling event, saw a great play at Steppenwolf with Tara, enjoyed a day off on Nicole's amazing rooftop, saw Lydia perform in the Fly Honey Show, yoga-ed on Cait's rooftop, volunteered with Shalva at Sunlight of the Spirit Food Pantry and with Tara at Breakthrough Urban Ministries and hosted several of them at our new apartment for dinners.

* I saw 3 movies in the park this year! I did Moonrise Kingdom with Shalva, Gravity with Shalva and Tara and The Goonies with Rob. So fun!

* I volunteered a lot! I had a ton of fun with my Best Buddy, Connie! We had a picnic together, we visited a nature center and a couple preserves, we enjoyed a DePaul alumni party at her house and we ate lots of ice cream. I volunteered at Bingo ofcourse, at the Sunlight of the Spirit and St. Mary's and the Greater Chicago Food Depository with DePaul alumni, with Tara at Breakthrough and a few times with Rob and helped at Disney Magnet School's Library with Chicago Cares.

It was a great summer but I'm pumped for Fall!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


My Best Buddy Connie is truly hilarious. Even when she isn't trying, she makes me smile and laugh. She fills my heart with happiness and I'm so, so grateful to have her in my life. She has had many memorable one-liners since I started spending time with her about a year and a half ago. Some of my favorites are below.

* When she sang "Rob is the most handsome man I know"

* When she sang "Go shorty, it's your birthday"

* When she said "Now that's what I call nature" when we were walking in a park

* When I asked if she was sad that summer was ending and she said, "I'm not worried about it."

* When she shouted at Rob "Don't fall in" on his way to the bathroom in Bakers Square

* When she said "I'm wearing my spanx, that's why I feel so stuffed."

* When she burped after a big lunch and said "I feel 100% better."

* When Rob asked her what she has learned after 50 years and she said "Not to sass others"

* And my personal favorite, when she stated that "Without Rob, you'd be nothing."

I love her so much. Not only is she funny and goofy, she's creative and artistic, she's a little sneaky, has a hearty appetite and she does whatever she wants. I'm so lucky to have a Best Buddy like Connie!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Things I love right now

* Quotes on Pinterest. I'm officially obsessed. They make me happy when I'm sad or stressed and I've been posting a new one as my gchat status to set a tone for the week. I also have been making quote books and framed quotes for gifts lately. Loving it!

* Coloring. Yes, that's right; I'm 30 years old and like to color. Atleast they make coloring books for grownups!

* Coffee. Still can't believe how quickly I became addicted. I'm loving Cafe Au Laits and Cappuccinos in particular.

* My Summer Pass at PSF. I am so glad I bought a summer pass at my fitness studio. I've been going a ton and loving it. It's been great to really push myself and to be this strong!

* This weather. It hasn't been that hot lately and I feel so grateful for it! I know most people are griping that it has been too cool but I am one happy camper!

* My Best Buddies Fleece. Not much to say about this, just really love it.

* Our front porch. What a wonderful treat it is to have a covered porch. I'm loving sharing meals and beers with friends and Rob out there!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Montreal Memories

At the end of May Rob and I visited Montreal for a short getaway. Our friend, Dan visits frequently and he gave us tons of tips on places to visit and where to eat which was so helpful. The day we arrived we checked into our B&B which has the strangest owners I have ever encountered and then we walked to get poutine and grilled cheese for lunch at Patati Patata and it was so good! Then we walked to Mount Royal Park to walk along some of the paths and then we laid in the sun. We went back to the b&b to relax before going to Schwartz's Hebrew Deli for smoked meat, frites and cole slaw. Rob accidentally dropped his black cherry soda, the traditional drink there, because his hands were so greasy from the meat! The servers were all big jokesters and super fun. Then we got homemade ice cream across the street before calling it a night. The next day we suffered through an awkward breakfast with the terrible owners before walking to the old section of the city. We went to the DHC which is a free art gallery and we saw the craziest art exhibit I've ever seen. There were mannequins dressed in KKK outfits and lots of offbeat McDonald's references like Ronald on the cross. It was free and help Rob's attention which was good. Then we walked to the waterfront and laid in the grass for hours before hunting down a lunch spot. Lots of places were closed since it was Sunday and we ended up eating a brunch spot that was very good. After that we visited the Notre Dame Basilica that was very pretty. On our walk back we found musical swings that played music while you swung. It was part of a city wide art exhibit. We rested before dinner at Au Pied Cochon a foodie spot our friend recommended. Basically meat upon meat upon meat. We ordered way too much and shared a huge plate of ham. I felt pretty awful afterwards but it was good. We loved walking on that little street too. The next day we took the metro to the botanic garden which is by the Olympic Park. Rob did a great job navigating us around and making sure we were going the right way. We went to the insectarium which was really unique and fun. They had this crazy ant farm and lots of displays of colorful beetles. We rested by the water garden with different fountains before going to the Japanese Garden that had a really nice bonsai garden and zen garden with a small pond and waterfall. Then we found another pond to walk around and an area to sit with really pretty flowers nearby. We walked through a garden with gardens in styles from around the world before coming across the Chinese garden that we thought was really impressive with a pretty building and waterfall. We also walked through the greenhouse that is similar to our conservatory in Chicago. We took the train back to the city and got lunch at SoupeSoupe - grilled cheese and tomato and bean soup for me and a disappointing hot dog and lentil and tomato soup for Rob. Then we walked to La Fontaine Park to relax by the pond. We got ice cream in St. Louis Square and relaxed at the b&b until dinner at L Bistro Express. We shared a green salad and I had chicken in the most delicious mustard sauce and Rob had pork and veal ravioli with mushrooms and we shared an apple and blueberry crumble. Rob also loved the tiny pickles and spicy mustard they had on every table. On Tuesday we walked to a little cafe called the Little Spoon where we each got really good coffees. We hung out there for a while and then we went to the Modern Art Museum. They had a cool abstract exhibit and some weird video/audio exhibit that we walked out after about 5 minutes. Then we walked really far to Patati Patata for poutine again. After that we went back to the B&B to rest. Shortly after we got back it started pouring so we rested for awhile then took the bus to mile end where Rob realized he had forgotten his wallet and he had all of our money in it. We went to Fairmont Bagels to try their famous bagels that were fine but not amazing. Then I went to Cafe Olimpico while Rob went back to the B&B to get his wallet. We Meet Hogan's friend for a beer at a nearby brewery before we got dinner at a woodfire pizza place that was good but bad service. On our last day we walked to get coffee at the tiny Le Distributrice and then walked to a nearby park to drink it. Then we went back to La Petite Cuilere for lunch and it was so good. Rob had a butternut squash soup and grilled cheese and I had grilled cheese and a cucumber salad. The sandwiches were so good. I'm so glad we got to have lunch there. We spent the last few hours in our favorite square before it was time to go. It was a great trip! Very leisurely, very relaxing and lots of quality time with my man. I'm so glad we got to go!

Friday, June 27, 2014


Next week I will turn 30. I still think I am as much fun as 2 fifteen year olds, but I have changed SO much over the last decade, something I think most 30 year olds would say. Here are some of the things I would have never envisioned doing when I was 20 or even think I would do when I was 30.

Listen to NPR in the car all the time

Stay in on a weekend night and not feel bad about it

Workout on the weekends

Maintain a Flexitarian diet or even know what that meant

Have a Costco membership

Wake up before 9 on the weekend without an alarm

Not live paycheck to paycheck

Drink coffee daily and like it

Be pretty introverted

Be able to say no to people fairly easily and be less of a people pleaser

Like wine as much as I do/accidentally get drunk on wine very frequently

I am so much more confident and comfortable with myself. I feel ok doing what I want and don't try to please others as much as I did in my early 20s. I have so many wonderful friends that fill my life with fun, happiness and gratitude. I have the most amazing husband who takes very good care of me and is the perfect partner for me - who makes me laugh and smile everyday and continues to surprise me with his sweetness and talent even after 12 years together. I have the most supportive and loving family. I consider myself lucky everyday for all of the blessings in my life! I'm excited to see what memories and challenges this year brings.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Chicago Food Scene

In the past I've been really eager to try the best new restaurants in Chicago. When we started saving for the wedding and focusing on getting in shape, I became more interested in cooking at home and eating well. Lately I've been getting excited about restaurants to try again and it's mostly because I've been seeing new trends in places around the city including using local ingredients, organic and natural ingredients, vegetarian options galore and places that benefit the community. Here are some places I'm excited to try. Sandwich Me In

This place uses local ingredients and is TRASH FREE! They go through great lengths to produce no trash. Pretty impressive!

Inspiration Kitchens

One of our favorite places to go that gives job training to at risk members of the community. Oh and the food is DELIC!

Milt's BBQ for the Perplexed

Rob and I have been dying to try this kosher BBQ spot in our old hood. 100% of their profits go to charity. AWESOME!

Mista Pizza

Rob and I only had it once or twice but it's a great, super crisp pizza with organic ingredients. We need to go back!

LYFE Kitchen

I've been eager to try this new casual dining spot in River North that uses sustainable ingredients and has lots of organic and vegetarian options. They also include calories and sodium for each item on the menu.

Blue Door Farm Stand

I'm pumped to try this for lunch tomorrow. They only use ingredients that are in season and I believe local. Can't wait!

Blue Sky Bakery

Similar to Inspiration, they provide job training for at risk teens. I'm excited to try this place for my friend Leah's shower soon!

Monday, April 21, 2014

West Coast Trip

I planned an Alumni Reception in San Francisco this March and had the opportunity to fly out to staff it and extend my visit to enjoy the west coast and have Rob join me! The event took place at the Omni which was beautiful! The event went very smoothly and it was a relief when it was over because it had not been easy to plan. Rob arrived later that night and in the morning we drove to Monterey for a little getaway. It was the most gorgeous day! We checked into our hotel and walked around in the sun before grabbing a hearty and delicious lunch at a vegan Mexican restaurant. It was so, so good! It's awesome to find spots that make it easy for me to eat healthy when we're traveling! After lunch we walked along the water and went to the Coast Guard Pier to see all the sunbathing and super noisy sea lions! It was UNBELIEVABLE! There were just so many of them. I had no idea how loud and aggressive they would be. It was so fun to watch them. We also saw a sea otter swimming and that made my whole trip! We walked further down the coast and found where all the seals sunbathed. They're much nicer. After our walk we got Giardellis - so good - and then took short naps. Then we went to an early dinner at this foodie hotspot in this incredible old mansion in the historic part of town. It was the most interesting restaurant I think I've ever seen! We enjoyed cheddar bacon biscuits for an appetizer and I think I had some sort of chicken. No clue on Rob's dish. We just really enjoyed our fancy little date! Then we went back to the hotel, turned on the fireplace and watched March Madness. Heaven! The next day it was expected to rain so we visited the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. We got there right when it opened and went all the way to the corner before the crowd could meet us. We saw Jellyfish, sharks, tuna, sea otters, penguins and so much more. We also spent some time on their patios looking through the telescopes. It didn't really rain much at all. We loved our time there but got burnt out quickly by the crowds. We grabbed sandwiches at this awesome deli, Compagno's Deli, that Ame and Tom recommended. It was SO good and so filling! Then we drove to Foster City to start our fun with the Liebls! It was so fun seeing the kiddos and spending quality time with Amy and Tom! We got In & Out for dinner that night which is always good! The next day we enjoyed playing outside and even a little babysitting. The kids are such a riot and we love seeing them! We were sad to head back to Chicago after such a fun visit! We can't wait to see them at Hunky Dory this summer! This was the getaway I had been needing after a rough winter. I came back feeling refreshed and relaxed!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Horrors on Hoyne

Moving is never fun or easy. This time around it's been extra difficult and extra unfun. In late November Rob and I became very uncomfortable with our living situation at the apartment we had been living in for about 3 years when our landlord asked to borrow money from us and we learned of other unusual behavior of hers including ghost sightings. We decided it was time to get the hell out of there. So we started looking for a new place and found this cool 2 story coach house. We decided to go for it. Oh, how I wish we hadn't! It's been nothing but trouble since we signed the lease. First the heat broke and a pipe froze before we moved in which delayed our move in date. The broken heat prevented the floor sealant to work so it was like an ice skating rink. Then they fixed it by putting a terrible coat of laminate on it which looks absolutely awful. Once we finally moved in every few days there was a different problem. Mostly with the water - some days pipes would freeze and we'd have no shower and then our hot water heater broke. The landlord definitely takes care of every problem that has come up as quickly as he can but at times he's been downright mean to Rob about all the issues that have come up. Then came the squirrels. Every since we moved in we could hear squirrels scurrying around in the ceiling above the office. Once we noticed some holes in the hallway that we assumed were the squirrels making their way inside, we insisted the landlord call the pest control company. They came and set up traps and I think we've caught 8 so far including one that did in fact make it in the house. The pest company said the gutter line of the house looks like swiss cheese and he thinks there's a raccoon living in the main house in front of ours - thank god not ours! It's been traumatizing! We still love that there's an office I can use for crafting and that Rob can play his drums inside, but basically it's the apartment from hell and I can't wait to move! I'm actually scared to imagine what disasters might be next for us...but I had to document the true horrors we've experienced on Hoyne so far!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

2013 Overview

2013 was a really good year! Some highlights below:

*Lots and lots of trips! We did a lot of travel this year as usual. Rob and I went to San Francisco to spend time with the Liebls, Nashville, In. for my birthday, Hunky Dory, Greenville & Asheville for our anniversary, Germany & Italy, quickie to St. Louis for the Hawks with Cait, a few brief visits to Michigan, New York for work, and I got to go to Boston with mom. So many great memories shared and wonderful sites seen!

*Babies! We welcomed so many babes this year! My friends Jamie & Kyle had Allie, Megan and Andrew had Oliver, Steph and Jeff had Taylor and Lydia and Roger had Nina. It's been pretty awesome to see these little ones grow over the last few months and I can't wait for more memories to come!

*Weddings! We also had a few lovely wedding celebrations this year. Lovelyn & Mike's, Ness & Tobi's, Mary & Mike's and Casey and Matt's. I love love!

*Service! I got to spend lots of time with my Best Buddy, Connie this year. It's been such an amazing experience to be part of the Best Buddy program. Connie is so special in so many ways. I love her sense of humor, creativity and warm heart. My favorite day was going to the Garfield Park Conservatory with her. She loved it! I've been doing the usual Monday night Bingo projects and my love continues to grow for my boys there. I got really into Cardz for Kidz which is a non profit that collects handmade cards for kids in hospitals. It's been really fun to do and to get others involved. Rob and I tried out a few cooking projects this year including on Thanksgiving, managed a clothing drive and donated goods to different organizations throughout the year together. I just joined the Chicago Cares Auxiliary Board which I'm really excited about! Service has become such an enormous part of my life and I'm so grateful to be involved with so many different opportunities to give back.

*CSA - the CSA was short but really had a big impact on us, our cooking and our diets. I'm so glad we did it and I'm so excited to try new recipes and things I learned from doing the CSA.

*New car! We bought a new car and I am so glad we did - especially with the snowy weather! It's made life so much easier - moving, groceries, driving in the snow! Loving it! *Nature fun! Rob and I discovered our love for the great outdoors recently and we created a nature to do list. We did some hiking on my bday trip and our anniversary trip and took a cool walk through the Redwoods in the Bay area, found a cool nature preserve in Michigan and visited a local nature center in the south burbs. We have a lot more to see in years to come, but I love that we discovered this new interest together.

*Fall bucket list! Autumn is my favorite time of year and so I made a bucket list to make sure we did everything FALL before it was too late! We did so much fun stuff - it was awesome! Apple picking, pumpkin patch, haunted houses, fright fest, carved pumpkins, see a scary movie and more. It was one of the best falls ever! So glad we got to do so much stuff.

*There were many more wonderful and lovely memories this year. I can't wait to see what 2014 has in store!