Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Windy Holiday

Okay, so I know it's been a little too long since I've posted, but I have a reason I promise. Last month I started a new (old) job! My previous boss contacted me when she heard that she had received a research grant and offered me my old position back. I am over the moon to be working with her again, and I'm so happy to have the opportunity to be back in a position that will further my long term goals. But my oh my, did my body take a while to get used to first shift again. After 9 months of 3rd shift it was a shock to the system to be waking up at 7 am instead of going to sleep at 7 am! Now I'm finally feeling acclimated and I've got a pretty good routine down, so... I'm back!

Remember how I told you I'd spent three days after Christmas in Chicago? Well, it was lovely. Those three days were full of good food, lots of museums, and of course a whole lot of shopping! Chicago is one of my favorite cities and I always thoroughly enjoy my time there.
{I love skylines}

As soon as we arrived, we walked down to Michigan Avenue to take in some sights and do a little shopping. Zara and Topshop were right at the top of my list of places to shop, and I have to admit I was a little disappointed in the selection of in store merchandise. But it was fun to browse anyway, and I did find a few things to throw in my shopping bag. 
{All Saints Co. had the most interesting storefront on Michigan Ave}

After working up an appetite at the stores, we decided to indulge in classic Chicago style pizza at Lou Malnati's. I'd never had Chicago stuffed pizza before and I have to say: totally worth the calories. Totally. After dinner (and overloading on carbs) we were pretty wiped out, so we called it an early night.
{brushetta, mmmm}

{So filling, but SO GOOD}

Day 2 started with my favorite attraction: The Shedd Aquarium. We purchased a city pass for this trip, which I would really recommend if you're planning to do all the touristy things. It got us into everything at the aquarium without any extra charges. We took lots of pictures but here's my favorite

{Ain't he cute?!}

After the aquarium we headed straight to the Field museum and spent the rest of the afternoon looking through the exhibits there. I would have enjoyed it much more if I would have gotten to see the Chocolate exhibit... 

Following our morning of museums we drove north a bit in search of, La Boulangerie,  a bakery/creperie that supposedly had the best crepes in the city. And they were fantastic. I was in heaven for the 15 minutes it took me to devour my strawberry chantilly crepe. 

Dinner was more fantastic french food  at La Sardine, which was also out of this world good. They have a great deal on  Tuesday nights (which happened to be the night we were there); a three course prix fixe menu where you choose your three courses and you can pick anything on the menu! I had French onion soup, Poached Salmon, and Creme Brulee. Once again, stuffed and happy we passed out at around 10pm. 

We spent almost 2 more days there, but the rest of the details will have to wait for tomorrow! Enjoy your Friday friends, I hope you've got a great weekend ahead of you!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hello, 2012!

So happy to see you!

2011 was a year of ups and downs, the very exciting and the very scary. And sometimes a little mix of the two. Hey you gotta have some balance, right?

2012 seems to be starting off on the right foot and here's to hoping that it stays that way.

I managed to wrangle a whole week off of work for Christmas, and what a lovely week it was. Once I finally managed to get on a bus (I overslept for the Megabus and ended up buying a last minute greyhound ticket that actually ended up being more convenient) the start of my week was chalk full of family time. My mom and I finished up some shopping on the 22nd then I headed over to my dad's house to set up the tree with him (he always waits until I'm in town to put the tree up, it's tradition) while watching Miracle on 34th Street. The 23rd consisted of quiche, presents, and a trip to the Pabst theater in Milwaukee to see A Christmas Carol. All such wonderful things. The Pabst is one of my favorite theaters. I managed to get a photo of the stage, but an usher quickly scolded me for trying to take pictures. so I didn't manage to get many good ones of the rest of the theater.  I got to sleep in on Christmas Eve day and I pretty much stayed in my pjs for the entire day drinking Bailey's and coffee with my mom and watching HGTV.

My mom's family's Christmas is always held on Christmas day and it's always filled with lots and lots of food, games, and noise. My mother has 13 brothers and sisters, about 10 of which live in the area and bring their families to Christmas lunch. It's a lot of fun, and a lot of loud. Especially when we exchange gifts. We play gift take away which can get rowdy with a normal group of people, and my mother's family is much rowdier than a normal group of people.

I hope everyone had as charming a holiday break as I did, I feel fully restored and ready to start off a new year full of new challenges and adventures.

Coming soon: 3 days in Chicago: Lots of museums, lots of shopping, lots of FOOD.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mango for JCP

Mango for JCP

Ohmygoshyouguys! Mango has come out with a line for JCPenny! I am beyond over the moon about this. 

I first encountered Mango while studying abroad. Lunches al fresco with the girls turned into afternoons of window shopping at least once a week. Mango was the only store where my wallet practically jumped out of my purse and paid for things of it's own accord. My will power was no match. Coming back to the states, I was sad to learn Mango only existed in Chicago and New York (they've since expanded to other states, but still not a single one in MN). 

On a (one of many) gift shopping trip last week, I practically squealed with excitement when I spotted the MNG by Mango logo above the racks of party dresses. Honestly, I was a little surprised that JCP is hosting the line but my oh my, I sure wasn't disappointed in the clothes. And I was ECSTATIC to find the above brown tote and gold necklace under the tree this evening (the bf and I opened presents with his family tonight). I wonder how he knew they'd go over well? It couldn't have been my constant ooohing and ahhhing or my inability to walk away with out picking up every single item on display...could it?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Start the week right.

It's not quite time for New Year's resolutions, but I saw this quote while blog-hopping (is that a term?) and it struck a cord.

Expect the people you love to be better. It helps them to become better. But don't get upset when they fail. It helps them keep trying.--Anonymous

We're all thinking about how to show our loved ones we really care around this time of year, but the very best gift of all is support and compassion. Don't forget though, to be kind to yourself as well when you're not quite as good as you want to be. Half the fun in life is the mistakes we make. 

In a completely unrelated note: This is my breakfast today. Pumpkin blueberry cobbler. Oh my, my favorite things! Unfortunately, I don't own ramekins so I used a muffin pan instead. Mine aren't quite as pretty as the ones in the recipe photo, but they sure are tasty! 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Blogger's Block

I've hit a little wall on what to write about. I think that this is because my free time has mostly consisted of Christmas shopping. Both in real life, and on the internets. I have a love/hate relationship with gift giving. I LOVE it when I find the absolute perrrrrrrrfect gift for someone. So much so, that it's really difficult to wait until Christmas and more than once I've ended up letting people unwrap their gifts a few days before December 25th. However, that perfect gift is so rare that most holiday gift shopping causes me lots of anxiety.
I always have an idea in my head of what I'd like to get everyone on my list, but for some reason stores just don't carry exactly what's in my head. If some small detail is off, I scrap the idea and usually end up looking for something different. I then realize how silly I'm being but by that time the item I want is usually sold out in the size/style/color I was looking for and then I'm back to square one. I've been shopping for weeks and only have 2 people on my list completed. This is the reason I'm always scrambling with the last minute shoppers. I suppose it's a good thing I don't have an aversion to shopping or going to the mall, as I've been spending quite a bit of time there lately.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

It's the Holiday Season

The last three months of the year are undoubtedly my favorite.  October is full of fall, and pumpkins, and warm colors. And don't forget Halloween. November marks the start of colder weather, which always kicks my home body tendencies into high gear. Then comes Thanksgiving with the great food and family time. Then the Christmas Season. Not gonna lie, I've been known to listen to Christmas music in July. Or even watch Elf in September. December means I can openly show my Holiday Love in stead of closeting my festiveness.
Last week bf and I went on the hunt for a Christmas tree! For the past three years I've had a 3.5 foot tree that fit nicely on a table top, but this year I had my heart set on a full size tree. Target pulls through again, and we bought a 7ft slim tree absolutely perfect for the spot right in front of the window.

My favorite ornaments: the pine cones

Cozying up on the couch with a book and some hot tea in the glow of the Christmas tree is one of my favorite feelings in the world. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Close your eyes and breathe. I smell snow.

Lorelai: Wait, close your eyes and breathe. I smell snow. 
Rory: Ah, it's that time of year. 
Lorelai: Can't you smell it? 
Rory: You know, it's like dogs and high-pitched noises. I think it's something only you can smell. 
(From Gilmore Girls episode "Love and War and Snow")

Snow guys! Snow! The first real snow is a worthy holiday in my book. I love snow. I love how it makes the world look like a Christmas card. I love how it gets me into the holiday spirit (not that I need much assistance in that area). I love how it makes the trees and the road sparkle and how pretty holiday lights look under a nice healthy blanket of snow.

I celebrated the first snowfall with my aunt creating a holiday surprise for my grandparents' Christmas decorations, sipping coffee and chatting away while the snow steadily fell outside. It was lovely. The ride home took about three times as long as normal due to the roads being pretty slick but I didn't mind one bit. Driving through big fluffy snow flakes and listening to carols is one of my favorite past times.

After a nice hearty dinner ("meatloaf muffins, baked potato and corn), I've settled in with Elf and a giant mug of mint hot chocolate. Do you love the first snow, or does it just stress you out?