City Livin’

In the last few months I have made the move to Chicago. Like anything else, it has pros and cons. A few of the obvious ones include:
Pros: being closer to work & public transportation
Cons: expensive & public transportation
So far the city has been treating me nicely (although I have yet to figure out what I will be doing with my car) and I am saying goodbye to my Chicago Ridge apartment this month!

I forgot how hectic moving can be. I went through everything I had while packing (clothes included – yikes!) and came up with so much garbage. It feels good to eliminate a lot of what I didn’t need to make room for some of the stuff I actually do need. There isn’t much left to do – just have to repaint the walls, patch up some holes, and take down my kitchen table! The people of Southwest Movers in Oak Lawn were extremely helpful with my move! The men were so nice, fast, and gentle with my furniture. If you’re in the city or suburb area in need of movers, I highly recommend them! Also, if you’re still wondering, my Doctor Who puzzle is still not completed :(. Luckily Michael claims to be good at puzzles ;).

Michael and I have been busy between trips to Memphis,

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cotton picked off the side of the road

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the wall outside Elvis’ house

20131017-114145.jpg20131017-114116.jpg[a HUGE thanks to Melanie and Henry for letting us stay with you, all the delicious food, and taking us out on your boat!!]

attending our first Blackhawks game,

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he surprised me with THIRD row tickets 🙂

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and enjoying fall-like activities!

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J: 9, M: 2

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Michael is a great cook! Between the two of us we’ve made mini tacos, homemade pizza (with homemade pizza sauce), and an apple pie just in the last week and a half. I love cooking again but I’m glad he’s much better at it than I am (I don’t mind dish duty if he cooks :D).

Mini Tacos:
This is a recipe I found off Pinterest and was great to snack on during football games. You’ll need: a muffin tin, won ton wraps, ground beef/turkey meat, taco seasoning, and any taco toppings you enjoy.

Line your muffin tin with won ton wraps placed in the bottom. I used a mini-muffin tin, but either will work. Cook your ground beef/turkey meat in a skillet and add the taco seasoning according to package. Fill each won ton wrap with taco seasons ground meat, top with cheese, and bake for 8 minutes at 350. Top with your other favorite toppings and enjoy!

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PS, THIS IS HAPPENING IN ONE MONTH AND THREE DAYS.

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Posted in Dinner, Food, Life, Lunch, Pinterest Inspired, Quick Meals, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

3 Cities, 5 Days, & My First Haboob

The word “haboob” probably caught your attention so let’s play a game. Who out there knows what a haboob is, without the help of Google? Is it:

A) an exotic name for a dust storm
B) the name of a drink
C) the “sighting” of a UFO

Have your guess? Read on, my friends.

Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix. Ready, set, go.

Just kidding, let’s rewind to how this adventure began.

Back in late May/early June Sarah, Carolyn, and I were sitting around my apartment joking about booking a vacation to Vegas. Fast forward to a few months later when it was no longer a joke and we had booked a hotel/made travel plans.

Sarah and I were planning to fly standby directly to Vegas but the night before it didn’t look like we would have gotten on. Begin panic mode. I looked at every possible flight combination and we decided it would be safest to fly into LAX. From there we would make our way to Vegas via…….?!? Bus? Car? Can we make any of those arrangements hours before our flight left?! Why have I not packed?! Begin mega-panic mode.

After a (large) glass of wine and talking to the nicest lady at a car rental place, we had our transportation method. We would be renting a car and driving from LA to Vegas. Since Carolyn wasn’t meeting us in Vegas until later that night anyway, we decided to spend the morning checking out California. This is when I fell in love.

California is BEAUTIFUL. Why have I never been there before?! We wanted to eat breakfast on the beach so we grabbed some Jamba Juice and bagels (where we got two free for our road trip just from being from Chicago) and made our way down to Manhattan Beach. This was, by far, the most relaxing morning I have had in a long time. It was so nice to just sit and watch the water. For those two hours (…that was how much we prepaid for parking) we had no where to be. That’s a place I need to visit again soon.

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Side note: the drive from LA to Las Vegas is so pretty. Just be prepared to lose all your radio stations.

This portion I will explain in pictures with a few notes.

20130921-193232.jpg20130921-193244.jpg20130921-193306.jpg20130921-193351.jpg– DJ Pauly D was playing at Haze Night Club the Saturday night we were there. He was so late to come on and none of us really liked the club so we left. Sorry, Pauly! Maybe next time.

– We loved, loved, loved Marquee night club that was located on top of the Cosmopolitan.

20130921-193319.jpg– White sangria for lunch is a killer way to get rid of the previous night’s hangover.

20130921-193332.jpg– The “find my iPhone” app actually works. (Thanks, Michael)

Moving on.

Lisa and Carolyn both live in Phoenix so after our trip to Vegas Sarah and I planned on spending a few days in AZ. Perfect week to go because we got to spend Carolyn’s birthday with her! After arriving at the airport we learn our flight is delayed. By 6 hours. If you’re wondering what the best way to entertain yourself in an airport is (aside from alcohol), I highly recommend trying to walk backwards on the moving walkways.

8 hours later, we made it to Phoenix. Even though it was well after 11p when we got to Carolyn’s, we decided to hit up the hot tub. It was the perfect way to unwind after a long day in the airport. The following day was spent relaxing and trying to recover from the weekend. We went out to eat at a pita restaurant and I fell. in. LOVE. with hummus. Seriously, I came home and bought a container for myself almost immediately after getting home. On the ride back to Carolyn’s apartment our phones alerted us of a dust storm warning for our area. Lucky us! We experienced our first haboob! Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of it, but it was a pretty cool to see! How many of you guessed what a haboob was?!

The next day Sarah and I caught some sun while Carolyn was teaching but eventually our vacation had to end. Michael surprised me at the airport with flowers (such a sweetheart) and we made our way back downtown to fajitas and margaritas. Perfect way to end our adventure but I cannot wait for the next!!

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Tis the Season

Tis the season for pumpkin spiced lattes, sweatpants, and our favorite fall tv shows to premiere. Since I am already 12 pumpkin spiced lattes deep this fall and wear sweatpants year round, let’s talk about season premieres. I never really watch shows when they air so I am pretty clueless to what-comes-on-when during premiere week. I created a list based on the day of the week they air for anyone who doesn’t really pay attention like me. And before you ask, yes I follow all of the shows listed below.

All times are in Central because I live in Chicago and anything else would confuse me on my own blog.

MONDAY 9/23:Castle, 9p, ABC.

TUESDAY 9/24:
NCIS, 7p, CBS
NCIS LA, 8p, CBS
New Girl, 8p, FOX (started last week)
Chicago Fire, 9p, NBC

WEDNESDAY 9/25:
Law & Order SVU, 8p, NBC
CSI, 9p, CBS
Nashville, 9p, ABC

THURSDAY 9/26:
Greys Anatomy, 8p, ABC
Glee, 8p, FOX
Scandal, 9p, ABC
Parenthood, 9p, NBC

FRIDAY 9/27:
Hawaii 5-0, 8p, CBS

SUNDAY 9/29:
Revenge, 8p, ABC

I clearly didn’t list everything returning on TV next week (ain’t nobody got time for that) but there’s a good start if you watch anything good on television.

PS – Here’s a preview of the Vegas/Phoenix post I will eventually write!

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24 Hours in Tokyo

This post is way overdue. Good day to post it since it was just announced Tokyo will host the 2020 summer Olympics. Let’s pretend I planned it this way because I did(n’t).

Michael and I had a few days off together back in August and decided to travel. We spent some time looking at flights and finally decided on Tokyo. Between the flight time and time difference we figured we would have 24 hours to spend in the city. Challenge accepted. Ready, set, go.

First things first. It is extremely hard to book a hotel from across the world. Neither of us have been to Japan before so we had to start from scratch. We had no idea what area to stay in, how the transportation systems worked, etc. Yikes – we decided to skip that step. Thought process: let’s figure out what we want to see/do and choose a hotel close to there.

So, now what did we want to do? Good question! 24 hours is not a lot of time to see a city. Let’s ask our good friend, Google. Bad idea – There. Is. So. Much. Insert overwhelmed smiley face icon.

Best part of working in the airline industry is that there is always someone who has been to where you are going. I had gotten a lot of helpful advice before we left but if there was one thing you need to know it is this: the train system is confusing (more on that later). With that being said, we decided to book a morning tour that would take us to a few sites around the city. We figured this was a good way to see a large amount of the city and not spend half the day lost on the train. Bullet dodged.

Morning set – we were doing the Tokyo Morning tour that ran from 9a-12:30p. Flight left at 4:30p so that gave us plenty of time to find our way to the airport (via train – gave ourselves a lot of travel time here) & grab some lunch. So what should we do when we got into Tokyo the evening before? Eh – we’ll just play that by ear.

By booking the morning tour our hotel issue sort of solved itself. The touring company listed hotels they would pick you up from. We went through the list and found the most reasonably priced room and boom – booked. We weren’t really picky when looking at rooms because all we really needed was a place to put our stuff, sleep, and catch a quick shower in the morning. Ginza Capital Hotel Annex provided just that (nice hotel – I definitely recommend it).

Soo..all set, right? Here’s how our 24 hours went down.

Our flight left Chicago at 1p on Sunday. We obviously celebrated the start of our trip with beer and chips/salsa at Chilis. After an hour delay on the plane (medical emergency) we eventually got in the air. And we’re off!

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Having just gotten off work hours before our flight left, Michael & I slept most of the way. 13 hour flight? No big deal.

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So – we made it into Narita. It’s about 5p on Monday. Now what? Convert $$$. SUGGESTION: If you’re traveling to a different country, compare the exchange right at your airport to the current exchange rate in the country you’re visiting. We chose to do it in Japan because it was a better deal. We also decided to catch a bus to Tokyo instead of figuring out the train system. We had just spent 13 hours on a plane so what was another hour on a bus, right?

We ended up talking to some people on the bus and they helped us catch a cab from Tokyo station to our hotel. Wherever those people are – we thank you. Hotel found.

Side note: the cabs in Japan are much nicer than in Chicago. The driver wore a uniform with white gloves and the car was decked out in lace. Take notes, Chicago. Maybe that’s why you didn’t get the Olympics.

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Dinner time. We decided to just walk the streets and find something while exploring. There are vending machines E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E.

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We ended up at an Italian style restaurant where the waiter brought out cans of food to help translate the menu. First thing we ordered? WINE.

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We walked around a bit after dinner but decided to call it an early night. Our hotel had a vending machine full of Japanese beer so we got a couple to try and headed back to the room.

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If you have ever been on a cruise I would like you to think of the bathrooms on board in each room. That’s just about how big ours was. Needless to say it served it’s purpose and we were on our way to the tour. We were picked up and taken to the Hamamatsucho Bus Terminal.

First stop? Tokyo Tower. We were taken to the main observatory for a panoramic view of the city. Buildings everywhere. Pretty neat to see, though. There are so many people living in the city so all of the buildings are highrises, including housing.

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Imperial Palace Plaza: the official residence of the Emperor & Empress of Japan. Very cool to see the different levels of security taken.

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My favorite stop was the Sensoji Temple and Nakamise Shopping Street. The Sensoji temple is Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple and surrounding the area is a well-known shopping street. Did you know Buddhist temples are only an odd number of levels high?! Nakamise holds so many different kinds of souvenir shops. I got my first pair of chop sticks straight from Japan & I’m so glad Michael taught me how to use them during one of our first (of many) Chinese dinners :).

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On our way to Tokyo station we drove through Ueno and saw different parts of the city. Even though we had a full morning of sightseeing there is SO much more to check out. Next time we will need just a little bit more than 24 hours 🙂

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We bought two tickets on the N’EX from Tokyo Station to NRT (Narita Airport). Um – talk about expensive! We definitely should have researched that a bit more but it got us from point A to B. Sigh. The train was scheduled to leave not long after we bought our tickets so we had to find the platform fast. Let’s just say I’m glad we avoided the train system as long as we could. It was a super nice train, though!

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Our 24 hours eventually had to end, but it was quite the experience! I would love to learn a bit of Japanese and go back (especially now that they are hosting the Olympics)!

Until we meet again, Tokyo.

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Happenings

Life is busy. Am I right or amiright?

If you’re wondering what I did in June, let me sum it up for you in 1 word: WORK. Seriously, that’s all I did. I even double checked my calendar to make sure I wasn’t missing anything cool. Nope. As my friend Liz said (many years ago while still working at the Union), “All I do is work, work, work, no matta’ what”. It still holds true. So there’s that.

July? Different story. Let’s recap!

For the first time in I-don’t-know-how-long, I actually had the 4th off. Whoopie! A chunk (did I spell that right? Looks weird..) of my family and myself spent the day at 6 flags and it was fantastic. Batman was going backwards and um, it was terrifying. I actually thought to myself “why am I doing this?” but at that point was already on the ride. #NAMTAB (get it?)

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I actually got to spend time in the sun over the holiday weekend! My body was begging me for some vitamin D so I finally had to give in. Who am I trying to kid here? I jumped at the opportunity. Lezbehonest. I didn’t see any part of the sun in June so I had to go tanning. THIS IS A TRUE STORY. On that note, JWOWW’s White Wedding Bronzer is fantastic. Moving on.

I went to my first rooftop Cub’s game. Bucket list? Check! Definitely worth the money..all you can eat food AND beer? Sold.

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I just got back to work after having the past 10 days off. I even took my work e-mail off my phone. I felt so disconnected and it was amazing. Michael and I saw Jason Aldean at Wrigley Field the first weekend I was off. Love me some Aldean. I spent the first few days relaxing because that’s what vacation is all about, right? A bigger portion of the family went up to the Kalahari in Wisconsin Dells during the middle of my vacation week. Who knew how funny my family was?

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Note: they have a new-ish ride that reminded me of The Hunger Games. You get enclosed in a tube and stand with your back against the wall. A timer counts down from 3 and the floor drops out from under you. Yes, this is real life. And really scary. I screamed the entire way down. You don’t free fall, but go down a really, really steep slide that gives you a huge wedgie. Sorry but it’s true.

This past Saturday I spent the night celebrating Laura at her bachelorette party. Definitely a night I will always remember. I had so much fun that these pictures don’t do any justice at all.

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Sunday was Michael’s birthday and we celebrated with some of this family. Before heading into the city for that I celebrated Molly’s baptism with the family. Glad to see all the people from the bachelorette party made it to the church the next day…myself included.

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& on Monday, I went back to work. Balls.

Reading page is updated for those of you following my quest in reading 100 books this year!

Last but not least: Brushetta Chicken (you can thank me later).

Need: chicken, basil, italian dressing, tomatoes, mozzarella.

I put the chicken in the bag with a little bit of italian dressing and basil. I let it sit for about an hour because apparently it helps marinate it (and that’s what the directions said to do).

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In the mean time, I cut up the mozzarella and tomatoes and threw them in a bowl with more basil. Try not to eat all this while waiting for the chicken. It’s hard, trust me.

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Cook chicken. Add brushetta-type concoction on top. Eat and thank me later. 🙂

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Oh yeah, I got my high score in Dice with Buddies. Sorry Allen!

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Mani Monday

Annnnd we’re back with another Mani Monday!

A while ago my friend Sarah showed me the coolest trick. It is SUCH a big help I have been using it ever since. It really gives you the “salon manicure” looked and it’s really easy to do (with some practice)!

I used to spent at least an hour painting my nails to get them to look nice. No paint on the skin, a perfectly round section near my cuticle, etc. Well, I’ve been doing it all wrong. Here’s how I paint my nails now:

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Then I take this awesome little paint brush (from Michaels Craft Store – $3) and dip it in acetone. It’s really important to find a brush that has the angled tip. It is a lot easier to use (speaking from experience here).

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I usually wipe off any access and just clean up my nail. Once in a while it will take a few tries to get the polish off but it leaves the nail looking very clean! Don’t get frustrated if using the paint brush doesn’t come naturally at first. Just like anything like, practice makes perfect!

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Regeneration

This post is entirely dedicated to Doctor Who. Sorry I’m not sorry at all. Should be pretty entertaining for those of you who have no idea what I obsess over & really depressing for those of you who obsess just like me.

WELL, the BBC dropped a huge bomb on us whovians last night regarding this upcoming season. Let me back up in case there are people here reading this that have never watched the show. Doctor Who is a sci-fi that airs on the BBC network. The Doctor time travels and generally always has a companion. Well, the Doctor regenerations and doesn’t keep the same physical identity (so different actors come in and play the roll, if you didn’t catch on to that). Fast forward to yesterday when it was announced Matt Smith is stepping down from the role this Christmas. CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!

That means he will be in the 50th anniversary episode (yes, 50!) and 32 days later they will air his last. episode. ever. UGH.

Now, I understand this is apart of Doctor Who and it’s definitely not the first regeneration I’ve gone through. But I just started watching the show last year so I never knew when the other regenerations were coming. Trust me, I was quite the ball of tears and an emotional mess when David Tennant regenerated but I now will be in mourning for the next 6 months. Matt Smith was the 11th Doctor..WHO WILL BE 12?! That’s the million dollar question.

So here’s a bunch of stuff regarding Doctor Who that you may or may not understand. My heart is broken and that’s all you need to know. Deal with it.

“900 years of time and space and I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important.”

“I am, and always will be, the optimist. The hoper of far-flung hopes, and the dreamer of improbable dreams”

Books! The best weapons in the world.”

“Some people live more in twenty year than others do in eighty. It’s not the time that matters, it’s the person.”

“When you’re a kid, they tell you it’s all… grow up. Get a job. Get married. Get a house. Have a kid, and that’s it. But the truth is the world is so much stranger than that. It’s so much darker. And so much madder. And so much better.”

“Sad really, isn’t it? People spend all their time making nice things, and other people come along and break them.”

“I know that one man can change the course of history. Right idea in the right place at the right time, that’s all it takes. I’ve got to believe it’s possible.”

“Anybody remotely interesting is mad in some way.”

“Go forward in all your beliefs and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine.”

“He’s like fire and ice an rage. He’s the night and the storm in the heart of the sun. He’s ancient and forever. He burns at the center of time and he can see the turn of the universe. And..he’s wonderful.”

You know, it seems to me that there is so much more to the world than the average eye is allowed to see. I believe that if you look hard, there are more wonders than you could have dreamed of.”

“Time traveling is like visiting Paris. You can’t just read the guidebook, you’ve got to throw yourself in. Eat the food, use the wrong verbs, get charged double and end up kissing complete strangers. Or is that just me?”

“I’m not running away. But this is one corner, of one country, on one continent, on one planet that’s a corner of a galaxy, that’s a corner of a universe that is forever growing and shrinking and creating and destroying and never staying the same, for a single millisecond. And there is so, so much to see because it goes so fast. I’m not running away from things, I’m running to them before they flare and fade forever.”

“We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?”

“You gave me hope and then you took it away. That’s enough to make anyone dangerous.”

“There are fixed points throughout time where things must stay exactly the way they are. This is not one of them, this is an opportunity. Whatever happens here will create its own timeline, its own reality, a temporal tipping point. The future revolves around you, here, now, so go do good!”

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How I feel.

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Sadz.

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How awesome is Matt Smith? (Get it, get it?)

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Suuuriously.

And here’s a poem my cousin Sheridan wrote for a school assignment:

“Everywhere and anywhere in time and space. He has seen it all. Lived it all. Time after time he changes faces, but never minds. He doesn’t call himself a hero, although many do. He travels in a blue police box. Many may say its bigger on the inside, except one. One said it was smaller on the outside. Clara Oswin Oswald. The impossible girl. Died twice yet remembers nothing. A brave young girl traveling the stars with a mad man with a box. She’s a mystery and every mystery needs to be solved. He’s the man that’s going to solve it. A man of many aliases: the raggedy doctors, a man man with a box, a savior, a destroyer, a lonely man, a brokenhearted man, Alien boy, clever boy, the on coming storm and John Smith. He is called many things besides his name. His title: The Doctor. The number one questioned asked: Doctor Who?”

And now I’m going to order myself some Doctor Who leggings.

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