Friday, November 29, 2013

Five on Friday: December Bucket List Edition


I had so much fun making my November bucket list (and actually doing everything on it!) that I knew I had to do a December one, too!  December is my very favorite month to live in Chicago.  The lights on Michigan Avenue, the giant Christmas tree at Daley Plaza, the Macy's on State Street window displays... it's all so magical.  Most of this list are traditions we've come to do every December since we moved to Chicago and a couple are new! Linking up with Lauren Elizabeth and A. Liz Adventures.

1) The Walnut Room- If you ever visit Chicago during the holidays, PLEASE eat lunch or dinner here!  It is located on the 7th floor of the Macy's on State Street and is the best place to get into the holiday spirit.  The dining room is around 100 years old and is centered by a giant Christmas tree.  My family visits us each December and we always eat dinner at the Walnut Room. 

Last years tree - pictures just can't capture the ambiance that is the Walnut Room!


2) Zoo Lights- The Lincoln Park Zoo is decked out in hundreds of thousands of lights and you can stroll around and see the animals and sip on spiced wine or cider.  Nick and I went last year for the first time and it was so much fun that we plan on bringing my family when they're visiting this year!


3) Christmas Party- I would love to host a Christmas party at my place for my friends!  Whether it is just a girls night or a get-together before the bar, I love having everyone over during the holidays.  It would be really fun to do a scarf exchange or a cookie decorating party!

4) Ice Skating at Millenium Park- I honestly can't believe I still haven't done this.  I tell Nick every single year that we are going to go ice skating at Millenium Park and it just always gets forgotten about.  To our credit, we did try to go a couple of years ago with my family but it was on a Saturday afternoon and the line to get on the rink was outrageous.  I'm thinking this would be a fun week night date to avoid the crowds!


5) CTA Holiday Train- The holiday train is a 6-car train adorned with Christmas decorations, inside and out.  I've wanted to ride this ever since I've moved to Chicago and heard about it.  I've never actually seen the train in person as it rides on a different line each day.  This year I'm going to make a point to find it and ride on it!


What's on your December bucket list?

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful


Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I truly have so much to be thankful for this year. 
My husband and marriage, my family,  my friends, my home, my health, my car, my job - just to name a few.
I hope you all have a wonderful day filled with family and friends, laughter, happiness and lots of turkey and pumpkin pie!
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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Sunshine Award


Carly over at Sunday's Grace was sweet enough to tag me in her post last week.  The Sunshine Award is a fun way to get to know more about the person behind the blog!

Here's how it works:
-11 random facts about yourself
-answer the 11 questions left for you
-leave 11 questions for the blogs you tag
  

Random facts
1) There is a chocolate factory in my neighborhood and when they are making chocolate, the entire neighborhood smells of deliciousness!  Maybe that explains my dessert cravings..

2) I never, ever eat lettuce.  I had a bad experience in Mexico when I was in high school and all I'm going to say is never again.

3) I'm 25 years old and I'm still trying to get a dog.  I've wanted a golden retriever for about.. my whole life.  My dad was allergic so that was an automatic no growing up.  I've now moved on to begging my husband :)

4) I have to sleep with a fan on every night.  It takes me like an hour to fall asleep without one!

5) I wish I was better at running.  Races always look so fun (especially Color Runs) and it's a great way to exercise.  However, every time I try it, I hate it and don't even want to run one block.

6) I'm obsessed with cereal!  I could eat it for every meal and if I had to only eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would be cereal.  I remember one of the things I was SO excited about when I moved into the dorms my freshman year, was the cereal bar in the cafeteria.  It had 10 different kinds of cereal that changed weekly.. I was in heaven.

7) My first job was scooping ice cream and I did it on and off for 7 summers.  It's still my favorite job to date!

8) I went to school at Western Michigan University and graduated in 2010 with a Bachelors degree in Business Management and Psychology.

9) The worst part of my week is blow drying my hair.  I hate it!  It takes forever and I never use the right products and it rarely turns out like I want it to and by the end, my arm is killing me.. I could go on and on!

10) I actually really love grocery shopping.  I'm a big list person and pretty organized so I enjoy sitting down and planning our meals for the week and making my grocery list.  But then I have a hard time finding the motivation to leave the house!

11) My car got broken into last year while parked on the street in Chicago.  They pretty much stole everything from inside the car EXCEPT my blank checkbook.  I still don't get that one.

Questions from Carly
1) If you could choose who would be your celebrity BFF?
Probably Emily Maynard.  I'm not sure if she's actually a "celebrity" but I fell in love with her on the Bachelor!  She's so sweet, classy and has the best style.  I would love to just sit and talk all things beauty with her.

She's adorable

2) If you could only use one makeup product what would you choose?
Hands down, mascara.  I can't live without it!  My favorite of all time is Benefit's They're Real.


3) Favorite baking recipe?
This is a really hard one for me because I bake ALL THE TIME.  Right now, I'd say it is my pumpkin brownies.  I'm obsessed with them.  I literally ate almost the whole pan myself.


4) Favorite book or movie (or both!)?
My favorite book of all time is My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult.  I think I've read it 3 times.  And no, it is NOT the same as the movie!  I thought the movie sucked and it was totally a different storyline.  As for my favorite movie, it's probably a tie between Father of the Bride or White Christmas!

5) If you could only choose one season, what would you choose?
I left this question for last because I really couldn't decide between summer and fall!  I love them so much for different reasons!  I'm probably going to have to go with summer though because my idea of a perfect day is the beach and that wouldn't really work in the fall.

6) If you could be an animal for a day what animal would you choose?
Dogs are my favorite animal but it probably wouldn't be that exciting to be a dog for a day haha.  I'm going to say some sort of bird just because it would be cool to fly.

7) Where would you go on your dream vacation?
London!  I've never been but I'm trying to plan a 2015 trip!  


8) You're having a dinner party, what five celebrities would you invite?
Oh gosh, this is hard.  I'm not really into celebrities, the only ones I really follow are people from reality TV!  I'm going to say a cast of one of the Real Housewives franchises because I would love to join one of their crazy dinner parties.

Quality entertainment

9) If you could see any concert, musical, theater performance, etc. what would you choose?
I've been dying to see a Broadway show or Cirque du Soleil so one of those.

10) Do you have a quote or motto that inspires you?
My favorite bible verse of all time is Jeremiah 29:11 - "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

11) What is your favorite blog post you've written so far?
My favorite blog posts were my Hawaiian honeymoon posts.  It was so much fun to be able to recap everything on the blog and I love that I'll be able look back at this for the rest of my life and feel like I'm re-living our trip :) 


Questions for YOU!
1) What is your favorite Christmas movie?
2) What's the best vacation you've been on?
3) If you could only have your computer or television for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
4) Where were you born?
5) What is your dream job?
6) What is the best gift you've ever received?
7) What are your goals for your blog?
8) What is a typical daily outfit for you?
9) How did you meet your significant other?
10) Are you named after anyone?
11) What is your favorite beauty product of all time?

I would love to find out a little more about these girls that have become friends since I've started blogging!  Check out their blogs, too - they are awesome!



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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Stuff the Stockings


Stockings honestly might be my favorite part of Christmas morning.  Maybe it's because we all open them at the same time so there isn't any of that "everyone is staring at me, watching my reaction to opening this gift" feeling.  Or maybe it's because my stockings are usually stuffed with some of my favorite things: chocolate, jewelry, lip glosses, etc. and (as an added fun bonus), we always get a handful of lotto tickets!  Either way, I've always really enjoyed them!  I'm linking up today with Elise at cheers y'all and sharing some of my stocking stuffer recommendations for the men and women in your life!

Women
1) Nail Polish
You can't go wrong with nail polish by OPI, Essie or Butter London.  Sephora also has some fun polish sets out this time of year.  I love this Deborah Lippmann set that comes with a little glitter bag.
2) Body Lotion
If you know me at all, you know I am obsessed with Bath & Body Works!  They make some amazing lotions.  Click here for the full collection.  My favorite this time of year?  Vanilla Bean Noel.
**Buy 3, get 3 free right NOW!

3) Candles
Speaking of Bath & Body Works, they make some of the cutest mason jar candles that are perfect for stockings!  My favorite scents for this winter are Tis the Season and Snow Day.
 
4) Lip Gloss
I almost always get a 3 pack of Carmex in my stocking.  I would buy stock in Carmex if I could!  And, I swear B&BW isn't paying me (I wish they were) but they also make one of my most favorite lip glosses!  Vanillamint Supreme 2X is heavenly.  For a bit of color, I love Ulta's Brilliant Color lip glosses.


5) Makeup case
Cute makeup cases are always nice to have to throw in your purse for the day or to pack with when going on a trip.  Orla Kiely at Target makes some super cute little bags.  I really like this red one.

6) Twistbands
Twistbands are a fun take on boring pony tail holders!  This specialty pack from Birchbox will glitz up your hair for the holidays.


7) Phone case
A new phone case is always exciting.  There are so many cute options out there but I love this Kaleidoscope pattern (and I love the price!)


8) Gloves
These are a little pricey for gloves but they look super soft, come in lots of pretty colors and they are touch screen compatible!  Win, win, win!



Men & Women
1) Books
You can't go wrong with a good book.  My favorite author is Jodi Picoult and my husbands is Brad Thor.  They both have a big collection of books that would be a hit with almost anyone.  My favorite book of all time is "My Sister's Keeper" by Picoult.
**If you've seen the movie, please read the book.  The book is about 2043983 times better.  I thought the movie sucked in comparison and it isn't even the same story line. 


2) CD's
Christmas CD's are a big hit this time of year.  A fun idea would be to make the person a CD of their favorite songs or for newlyweds, a CD of the songs played at their wedding.

3) Christmas movies
My favorites are White Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, Elf, A Christmas Story, Polar Express, Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, Four Christmases, Santa Clause and Love Actually.

The BEST Christmas movie of all time

4) Socks
My husband and I both LOVE getting thick winter socks.  We may be the only ones, who knows, but they really are the finishing touch on a comfy outfit.  He loves Costco's brand of wool socks and I absolutely am obsessed with these cabin socks by Yaktrax.



5) Gift cards
Some of our favorite places to receive gift cards to are Starbucks, Target, Amazon, AMC movie theatres and any fast food/restaurant gift cards.

Men
1) Pocket Knife
My husband is obsessed with his pocket knife.  He carries it everywhere.  Here are tons of different options.  Make the knife even cooler by getting his name/initials engraved on it.  Check out this Etsy shop for these knives.

2) Pocket Handwarmer
This is a pretty cool stocking gift for a guy that spends a lot of time in the outdoors.  It would be perfect to bring along while hunting.  They claim to create 10x more heat than a disposable warmer.  Engraving is also an option.



3) Hair Products
Guys do their hair every morning but typically don't like to spend money on quality hair products.  Spoil him a little and buy him something that he will use everyday but wouldn't spend his own money on.  My husband used ALL of my Bumble & Bumble Semisumo hair wax so I know he loved it!


4) Shaving Brush
Art of Shaving makes some amazing products.  Again, guys won't typically spend much more than a few dollars on shaving cream so treat him to one that smells AMAZING.  This sandalwood scent will have you following him around, that is how good it smells.  It's a little bit of a gift for you, too!



5) Cigars
Guys love their cigars.  It's like the male version of chocolate. You can usually buy them for $3-10 at a local cigar shop or check out the huge selection on Cigars International.



6) Baseball Hat
The options are endless with baseball hats.  My husband wears one probably 3 or 4 times a week so I know it's a safe bet he will like a new hat.  You can go with sports, teams, cities, designers, or just plain hats.  Nordstrom has a huge selection.  I think this one is pretty cool.



7) Shoe Polish
Funny story about shoe polish in my house - my husband claims that I threw away his bag full of polish while I was cleaning one day.  I absolutely know that I did not do this but everytime he cleans his shoes, he reminds me of his "big collection" of polish that he used to have before I "destroyed" it.  So now he gets shoe polish in his stocking!  Kiwi is his brand of choice.


8) Beef Jerky
I don't understand this, but guys love beef jerky.  Stop at a gas station?  Have to get beef jerky.  Go grocery shopping?  Had to try this new brand of beef jerky.  Beef jerky in the stocking = happy guy.

I had a lot of fun putting this list together! Hope it helps you come up with some fun ideas for your favorite people!
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Monday, November 25, 2013

Meal Monday: Breakfast Bake


I'm such a bad blogger!  I didn't even get a picture of the finished product of my breakfast bake so you'll have to settle for a plateful of my food :)  We had a girls night on Wednesday and I whipped this recipe up as my friends were arriving, hence the lack of pictures.  And it was just so good that I never was able to take a picture of it before it was gone!  So, at least you know this recipe is delicious. This is my second super easy, super tasty recipe to enjoy on Thanksgiving morning.  See last week's caramel apple coffee cake here.  This is an old recipe from a Gooseberry Patch cookbook!

Shopping List
1 can of crescent rolls (I used the Pillsbury seamless dough sheet - this will make your life so easy!)
1 pound of sausage
6 eggs
1/2 cup of milk
1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
Salt & Pepper

Directions
1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2) In a large saucepan, brown your sausage into crumbles.

3) While sausage is cooking, lightly grease a 13 x 9 baking dish.  Spread your dough across the bottom of the dish.


4) Whisk your eggs and milk in a separate mixing bowl.  Add salt and pepper to your liking.

5) Once your sausage is cooked, spread it over your dough in the baking dish.

6) Cover sausage and dough with the egg and milk mixture.


7) Top with shredded cheddar cheese.

8) At this point you have two options: you can bake it now (pop in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until egg is cooked) or you can stick in your refrigerator until you're ready to cook!

Simple and easy for busy times like the holidays or even a week night dinner!  Enjoy!

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Five on Friday 11/22


Happy Friday!

What do you guys think of the new blog design?! I have officially made the switch from Slice of Life to Katie Elizabeth. Read this post to find out the reasoning behind my decision. I'm so happy with how it turned out and am excited to see where the blog goes!

This week was a busy one and I am SO looking forward to the weekend!
Linking up with Casey, Lauren Elizabeth and A. Liz Adventures!

1) First things first, we're the volleyball champs!  I mentioned last week that we had started volleyball playoffs and won our first two games so we were headed to the championships.  It was a great game and we were so excited to win!  Can't wait for our next season starting in January!
 

2) Just when I think I can't love Bath & Body Works any more, they come out with these adorable candles!  I ran in quickly to pick up a gift so I didn't have too much time to check them out, but they had a whole line of Chicago candles!  So cute.  I can't find them online but for my Chicago girls, I found them at the Old Orchard mall in Skokie!


3) This weekend we are celebrating my friend Nicole's 25 birthday!  I am hosting people at my house and then we are headed out to the bars for fun night.  I made these delicious cake batter chocolate chip cookies for the party and OMG.  You all must make these.  They are amazing.  Hopefully there are some left for Saturday!


4) I had so much fun participating in the Christmas gift linkup hosted by Elise at cheers y'all.  I loved sharing my wish list and reading others!  It was funny how similar a lot of them were.  Check my Christmas gift ideas out here.


5) Speaking of Christmas... only 32 days to go!  That means it is so time for our Christmas tree and decorations to go up!  Sunday marks the official start of the Christmas season in my apartment.  I plan on putting up the tree, listening to Christmas music, drinking hot chocolate, and shopping at Target for cute things like this pillow!  It's only supposed to be a high of 24 degrees on Sunday so it looks like the weather will be cooperating.



Have a great weekend!
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Thursday, November 21, 2013

"You remind me of a giant celery stalk"


Yes, one of my friends actually told a guy that he reminded her of a giant celery stalk this past weekend.  These are the kinds of things you only hear during a girls weekend!  I headed down to "the plains" for three days of shenanigans with some of my college girlfriends. 

Thursday afternoon, my friend Shannon and I headed to Midway airport to fly to Omaha, Nebraska.  Never thought I'd be going there on "vacation"!  My friend, Alex had recently moved down to Lincoln, NE last year for work and none of us had ever been so we figured why not?!  Our flight went smoothly and we met Alex at the Omaha airport.  Alex's cat had been neutered that same day, poor Leo, so we had to pick him up at the vet before picking up our other friend, Erica, who was flying into the Lincoln airport.  We picked Leo and Erica up and headed back to Alex's apartment in downtown Lincoln.  We had dinner and were on the road again - this time to Kansas City!

After about 3 hours, we arrived at the Intercontinental Hotel in KC.  We checked in about 1 am.  Now, I was feeling terrible.  If you know anything about me, you will know that I am really allergic to cats.  Being around one for even 5 minutes makes me feel like I've been hit by a truck - my entire body feels awful.  My friends wanted to go out and get a drink but I had to stay behind sadly to shower and get all of the cat-ness off of me.

Good morning Kansas City!

The next morning, we had a BIG surprise for Alex!  Our other friend, Rachel, was on the way to our hotel and Alex had no idea.  Rachel initially couldn't take the time off to come with us but a couple of weeks before the trip, she said she could fly in for Friday morning - Saturday morning.  It was a surprise for Alex and it was so hard to keep our mouths shut!  We were all just sitting around in our hotel room when we had a knock on the door.  Erica went to answer it and in walked Rachel.  Alex's face was priceless, she was shocked!  It was so great to finally be reunited!

Surprise!!!!

We got ready and stopped at Starbucks for some breakfast.  We then headed to the jewelry store to pick up Alex's engagement ring as it had been getting re-sized.  It is beautiful!


After that quick stop, we headed back to our hotel to shop at the Kansas City plaza, a gorgeous outdoor mall.  We hit up a few stores and then decided to stop for a drink.  It was such a beautiful day that we sat outdoors on the patio.

Every building was so pretty

I had a ginger mojito, so good!



It was already after 4 pm and we were starting to get hungry.  We knew what we had to get for dinner: BBQ!  Kansas City is famous for it's BBQ so we headed to Jack Stack.  It was amaaazing!  Between the 5 of us, we shared onion rings, a slab of baby back ribs, brisket, a chicken sandwich, gingered carrots, baked beans, and creamy cheese soup and potatoes.  It was some serious comfort food!


 Rachel, me, Erica, Alex, Shannon

Afterwards, we headed back to our hotel to get ready for the night.  Our first stop was a jazz bar in downtown Kansas City.



We enjoyed a couple drinks and the music before heading out to KC's most popular nightlife destination - Power and Light.  It's hard to describe but it's an area with maybe 8 bars that are all right on top of each other.  Our first stop was the Hawaiian/tropical bar.  We danced and had a couple of drinks before heading to the more "clubby" bar.  We had been there about a half hour, when they asked us if we wanted a free table and champagne!  Umm, yes please!  We had so much fun and really enjoyed the free drinks!


Our last stop of the night was the bar we were most looking forward to - the country western bar with a mechanical bull!  This is where the night started to get messy.  Lots of rides on the bulls, a celery stalk comment and some new "friends" made for an interesting and hilarious night!  I laughed so hard my abs hurt by the time I went to bed.

 Erica and I on the bull!

The next morning was sad as we had to drop Rachel off at the airport already.  It was too short of a visit but I'm so glad she could come!  We dropped her off and made the 3 hour drive back to Lincoln, NE.


Lincoln is home to the University of Nebraska and their football team happened to be playing Michigan State University that day!  We are almost all from Michigan so of course we wanted to check out the game.  We got ready in all Alex's Nebraska Cornhuskers gear (figured we would support the home team!) and headed out to the tailgate lot.  We arrived around halftime and had the chance to meet some of the dealers that Alex works with.  We were even lucky enough to get free tickets to the game so we made it up for the last half of the game!






Unfortunately, Nebraska got their butts kicked with a final score of 41-28.  We were starving so we headed to Yia Yia's for pizza.  It was delicious!  Afterwards, we stopped at a bar called Marz that had the cheapest drinks ever!  I had a moscow mule of course :)



We made a couple other stops but called it a night around midnight.  I was dreading going back to Alex's apartment with her cat but I made it through the night, luckily!

Sunday morning was a lazy one.  We watched TV, napped, packed our stuff up and went out for lunch on our way to the airport.  It was so sad to say good-bye to each other because it's rare that we are all together!  It was such a fun weekend with my girls and I'm already looking forward to the next one, wherever it may be!
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