Friday, January 31, 2014

Five on Friday: February Bucket List


It was hard for me write this post because what I really wanted my February bucket list to look like is this: watch Netflix, get take out, never take my pajamas off, watch Netflix, hibernate, eat more food and watch some more Netflix.  Speaking of Netflix, we watched the season 4 finale of Breaking Bad last night and OH MY GOSH.  It was wild!  Did Walt really do that??  I can't wait to start season 5.. I literally have no idea what could come next.

Anways back to my wannabe February bucket list, since I already did all of that in January probably should attempt to leave the house this month, I thought long and hard and came up with five practical things I want to do this February!  January and February are my two least favorite months of the year so once I get through them, I'm happy again.  How many days until Spring??

1) Bianca posted a picture of her and her husband at Sky Zone in Boston a while back and it looked like a fun day!   Sky Zone's are giant indoor trampoline playgrounds that are franchises.. I looked into it and we have one opening in the Chicago suburbs in Feburary!  This sounds like the perfect way to spend a Saturday or Sunday, burning off some of those cooped up feelings.


2) I really need to get a new computer after my last one died on me (RIP).  We have Costco "bucks" coming to us in February and I'm going to put them towards my new computadora.  Really though, what can't you get at Costco?!  I had my last computer (a Dell) for 6.5 really good years so I'm probably going to play it safe and go with another Dell.  How crazy is Windows 8 though?  That will definitely take some getting used to.

The computer I've been looking at

3) City Winery is a winery that opened up in Chicago this past fall and I still haven't been to check it out yet.  They have live music, a delicious looking menu and homemade wine.. how can you go wrong there?


4) I'm going to order Cards Against Humanity and host a game night!  We bought my brother CAH for Christmas and before we knew what we were getting into, decided to play with my whole family.  Awkward on so many levels!  It was hilarious though and I need the game for myself.


5) Okay, I'm sure by now everyone has heard of the new Cookie Dough Oreos.  I've been to three grocery stores this week (don't judge) and I can't find them anywhere!  I will continue my search and I WILL be trying them this February. 



What do you have planned for February?  And if you have any good Netflix shows that we should watch, let me know - because we all know that's what I'll be spending 95% of my time doing this month :)
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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thankful Thursday 1/30


Happy Thursday!  I'm back with my 3 co-hosts, Mia at Make Me Up Mia, Kristal at The Strong Family and Carly at Carly Blogs Here, for another edition of Thankful Thursdays.

Here's what you need to know if you're interested in joining us:
+ Post about anything you are thankful for
+ Link up below
+ Follow your hosts {if you would like}
+ Visit other sites and make friends!

Thursday, January 23


The sun!  It's a rarity in Chicago in January so I'm always thankful to soak up some of that Vitamin D (while hoping I'm getting a tan).

Friday, January 24


I mentioned last week that my computer was about to bite the dust... and on Friday, it did.  Definitely not thankful for that.  I was freaking out when I saw this screen because I hadn't finished backing up all of my files.  I swear it was an act of God, but I figured out a way around this screen and my computer held out long enough for me to finish saving my pictures!  Beyond thankful that I was able to get some really important stuff saved.  After that, the computer was totally dunzo.

Saturday, January 25


Thankful for a date night out with some friends.  We had dinner at Carson's which was participating in Chicago's Restaurant Week.  Sooo much food and so much fun!

Sunday, January 26


I was at work on Sunday when I got this text that made me laugh out loud.  Nick and I got new phones on Saturday and previously Nick had an Android.  Whenever I would send him emoji's, they would just show up as blank boxes on his phone and it would drive him crazy.  I was so happy when he decided to switch to an iPhone on Saturday - this was his first emoji text he sent me!

Monday, January 27


January 27th was our six month anniversary!  I definitely didn't remember that until today (fail) but I am thankful that on our anniversary, we got to have lunch together.  Can't beat Panera!

Tuesday, January 28


On this day, I got my 100th GFC follower!  I cannot believe that so many people want to read what I have to say everyday and I love you all for taking the time to always leave the sweetest comments.  I'm so thankful for each and every one of you!

Wednesday, January 29


Thankful for my Cabin socks that Nick gets me every year for Christmas.  They are the only things keeping my feet warm in these negative temps - I am wearing them 24/7!
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Monday, January 27, 2014

Meal Monday: BBQ Chicken Pizza


We love pizza at our house and this BBQ chicken pizza is seriously a winner.  We actually made it twice in one week that is how good it was!  If you've ever been to California Pizza Kitchen, you know how amazing their famous BBQ chicken pizza is - and this is almost an exact replica, taste wise.  We are lazy and used pre-made, store bought pizza dough but I bet it would be even more delicious with homemade!

Shopping List
Pizza dough - I used a Pillsbury Classic Pizza Crust
20 oz BBQ sauce
16 oz mozzarella cheese
1/3 lb shredded chicken - I used a rotisserie chicken
1/2 red onion, chopped
Cilantro, chopped, to taste (use FRESH!  It tastes so much better)

Directions
1) In a small mixing bowl, coat chicken with BBQ sauce, to taste.  I like to do this ahead of time and store in refridgerator to let the chicken soak up the flavor until I'm ready to cook.

2) Preheat oven to temperature designated by pizza dough.

3) Spread a tablespoon of olive oil over baking sheet.

4) Roll out pizza dough on baking sheet and slather BBQ sauce all over the dough.

 
5) Top with half of mozzarella cheese.

6) Top with shredded chicken, red onion and cilantro.


7) Top with remaining cheese.


8) Bake in preheated oven for amount of time designated by pizza dough, until crust is browning and toppings are bubbly.

9) Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting.


We served this with roasted butternut squash - the perfect winter side!  Enjoy!
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Friday, January 24, 2014

Five on Friday 1/24


Everytime I start a Friday post, I get the Rebecca Black song stuck in my head.  Please tell me you know which one I'm talking about.  "It's Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday!"  You're welcome! 

It's been a long week, mostly due to the fact that I think my computer is dunzo.  It seems to have gotten a virus that is slowing the whole thing down and making it impossible to do anything on it.  The computer is 6 years old so I knew it was on it's last leg but I wasn't quite ready to spend the money on a new one yet!  I've been backing all my files up like crazy this week and running virus scans like it's my job.  Nothing seems to be working, unfortunately.

+ I picked up the "holy grail" of all foundations last week - Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk - and I'm loving it!  This stuff is as good as everyone says it is.  There are a million shades and I think this is the best I've ever been color matched.  It goes on flawlessly and stays put all day.  The price tag is a little hard to swallow ($60) but it takes so long to go through a bottle of foundation that I figure it's worth it.  The things I tell myself to justify purchases...


+ We are getting new cell phones this weekend!  I am so excited.  I'm getting the iPhone 5S but Nick hasn't made up his mind yet.  I'm obsessed with my iPhone, couldn't live without it. New computer + new cell phones is going to equal an expensive weekend.  Yikes.


+ I made this Ramen Vegetable Soup that I found on Pinterest on Wednesday and holy crap, was it good.  From start to finish, this recipe took me about 35 minutes to make which I think is impressive given how delicious it was!  It's a perfect winter week night meal.  Plus, if you like sriracha like we do, you'll love this stuff.


+ I'm obsessed with this coat.  I got it for Christmas and have been wearing it nonstop since.  It's not the most practical option for our zero degree weather but I'm getting sick of being bundled up in my practically ankle length North Face!


+ The BEST smelling soap!  I've been doing so good at staying away from Bath and Body Works after I did some damage at their Semi Annual Sale in December.. and then I went to work and saw this new soap in our bathroom and it smells amazing.  And how cute are the bottles?!  I will definitely be stocking up on this scent through candles, soap, lotion - you name it!


Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!  If you need me, I'll be playing candy crush on my new cell phone, probably making another batch of ramen veggie soup and watching the Bachelor Wedding!  So excited for that!  All wearing my comfy, not so warm coat of course :)
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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thankful Thursday Link Up 1/23


Happy Thursday ladies!  I've had a bit of the winter "blahs" this week so it's been extra nice to make sure to focus on something I'm thankful for each day.  I just have to make it through February is my mantra these days.  March can sometimes bring signs of Spring and that is the BEST!

I hope you'll link up with my 3 co-hosts, Mia at Make Me Up Mia, Kristal at The Strong Family and Carly at Carly Blogs Here, and I this week!

Thursday, January 16


As I've mentioned before, Nick and I are following a 365 day bible reading plan and on this day we finished our first book and started our second!  Thankful that we are both keeping up!

Friday, January 17


Friday was a day for deep cleaning and by the end of it, I was so thankful for a clean house.. and my couch ;)

Saturday, January 18


Thankful for a night out with these girls!  Never a dull moment.

Sunday, January 19


Thankful for ginger ale but especially thankful for my husband who ran to the store at 9 am on Sunday morning to help me recover from the previous night out with friends!

Monday, January 20


Drying my hair is the most boring "chore" of my week so on Monday, I decided to bring my iHome into the bathroom - best decision ever!

Tuesday, January 21


Yay for our new mirror to fill our awkward corner!  It's still a work in progress but I'm loving the new addition.

Wednesday, January 22

http://katieelizabethchicago.blogspot.com/

I created my first ever blog button!  It's nothing fancy but I'm excited.  Very thankful for this blog and all of the new friends I've made!
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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Erin Condren Life Planner Review


My Erin Condren life planner finally arrived on January 10 after too many delays to count thanks to the polar vortex that overtook Chicago and most of the US.  I was beyond happy to see that little package - I was lost without having a planner.  I've been using one since my freshman year of college and I live my life by it.  I'm definitely the type of person that needs to have things written down in front of my face if I'm going to remember to do them!

While I typically just buy a $15 planner from Target and call it a day, after seeing a lot of Erin Condren review posts I started to become convinced that I needed one, too so here we are. After spending the last couple of weeks using it, I'm here to give my full fledged, honest review.  All opinions are my own and I purchased the planner with my own money.


PROS
+ The planner is totally customizable.  From free options that include adding your initials and own photos to the cover to options that cost a little extra, like the photo stickers, you can truly make the planner your own.

+ Includes sections such as Special Dates, Notes, Contacts and a little folder to hold your stuff in the back.



+ All planners come with fun, colorful stickers.


+ They're beautiful, simply put.  I love all of the color, quotes and full fledged girlyness.


+ The monthly calendar view is nice to use as an overview of what you have going on that month.


CONS
+ I can't get past the "vertical" design of the days.  This is my biggest problem with this planner.


+ The thing is huge.  It's really big!  I like to carry my planner with me everywhere and it's just not possible with one this size.

 Compared with my 2013 planner from Target

+ The covers are just laminated.  I can see how this might be a pro as if you spill something on it as it will wipe off easier but for $50 I would think it would have a nice hard cover.


+ The weekly goals & note section is so tiny!  How can you even write more than one word there?


At the end of the day, FOR ME, I don't think the planner is the worth the money.  Don't get me wrong, I do like it and it is a great planner but it's not really practical for me.  The vertical days are absolutely driving me crazy since I don't use my planner to necessarily organize my time (into morning, day, night), but more to keep track of things I have to do.  The tiny boxes do not leave a lot of room for this.  I've already considered switching back to a regular Target planner but I'm going to stick it out since I did pay a little over $60 after tax and shipping for this thing!

What do you think of your Erin Condren planner - or do you have a better option that you use?
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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Trip Down Memory Lane


One of the best and worst things about Nick's job is the fact that he travels.  It's awesome because he gets to see different places all over the US but also the worst because that takes him away from me.  However, now that we are married, the awesome-ness may be winning out because I can travel with him!  This June, he has a work conference in Orlando and you bet I'll be joining in on that trip.  2014 is our year of travel after all!

We've decided to spend a few days in Disney on our own before the conference starts and we started planning this weekend.  If you've been to Disney before, you know planning the trip can be half of the fun!  So far, we've decided on a hotel (Beach Club!) and have started shopping for flights.  Planning + the fact that it was MLK weekend brought me down memory lane as it was 5 years ago this past weekend that Nick and I went on our first vacation together - to Disney!

 2009 - we were such babies!

A little back story - my grandpa on my mom's side was born and raised in Orlando but moved to Michigan after he left the Marine Corps.  He met and married my grandma there and they settled in my grandma's hometown of Holland, Michigan.  My entire life they spent their winters in Florida - hopping between Orlando and Naples, FL.  We would visit them every single winter and the highlight of my childhood were all of our family vacations at Disney.  It holds a really special place in my heart and always will!

My dad had leftover park tickets that we found over Christmas break 2009 and that was when our trip was "born".  We decided to take advantage of our long MLK weekend and found dirt cheap flights out of Detroit and booked a 4 night stay at Disney's Coronado Springs.  I'm basically the Disney expert after my 20ish? trips there so I tried to plan things so perfectly for Nick and I's first vacation together.  He had only been to Disney once with a friends family so I had to make sure he fell in love with it!

 Disney's Coronado Springs

The details are a little foggy in my mind now that it was 5 years ago but I still remember how much fun we had together!  I was a junior and it was Nick's senior year at Western Michigan University.  We left Kalamazoo to head to his parents house in metro Detroit on Thursday night as our flight left DTW super early on Friday morning.  Nick's dad dropped us off at the airport and we flew Spirit (yuck) down to Orlando.  We arrived and hopped on Disney's Magical Express that took us right to our hotel - Coronado Springs!

We were exhausted as we arrived to our hotel in the early afternoon and decided to nap.  After waking, we explored the resort and got ready for dinner at Chef Mickey's.   We left our hotel and took a bus to the Magic Kingdom area.  We decided to hop on the monorail and explore the resorts on the monorail loop to kill time before dinner.  We visited two of my favorites - the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian before heading to the Contemporary for dinner.



Since we had booked the trip about 3 weeks before we left, I struggled to get dining reservations at my favorite restaurants.  At Disney, you can make dining res 6 months in advance so as you can imagine, there wasn't much left.  I was able to snag a 9 pm reservation at Chef Mickey's for our first night.  Nick loves buffets so I knew it was the perfect way to kick off the trip!  We had a lot of fun meeting the characters and eating everything we could get our hands on.



Saturday morning we slept in and then headed to the Magic Kingdom.   This was my first time to Disney in January and it was chilly!  We spent the day riding our favorite rides and enjoying time together.




Sunday morning, I made breakfast reservations because I knew Nick would love that.  We headed to the Beach Club for a breakfast buffet and then had plans to head to Epcot for the day.  There was a little stand in between the Beach and Yacht Club called the Pearl Factory where you could pick an oyster and they would open it and set the pearl inside on a necklace, ring, earrings, whatever you wanted!  We stopped by to see how it was done and then Nick insisted that I do one!  It was so sweet of him.  I got the most perfect pearl that we had set in a ring and I wore that ring every single day, until the day we got engaged.

 4 beverages for breakfast - nothing has changed :)




We headed to Epcot with my new ring and spent all day riding Test Track, checking out the countries and later that night, enjoyed the fireworks show.  It was a great day and as we were leaving that night, Nick asked if we could return to the same place for breakfast the next morning.  Of course I said yes!




Monday was MLK day and our last full day at Disney.  The weather was finally starting to turn and it was actually warm!  The pool at the Beach Club is pretty amazing so we decided to pack our swim suits with us so we could swim after breakfast (I know - totally against the pool hopping rules!).  We enjoyed our breakfast and then spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon swimming at Storm Along Bay!




After our late lunch, we decided to change and hop on a bus to the Animal Kingdom.  We were able to get in a few rides but we came too late in the day and the place was paaacked.  We only stayed a couple of hours before heading back to our hotel to get ready for the night.  Magic Kingdom had extra magic hours that night (open until like 1 or 2 am!) and we definitely wanted to take advantage of that.



We made it to the Magic Kingdom and decided to get a quick dinner of chicken nuggets and fries - one of our favorites still haha.  We rode a few rides and then watched the best show in all of Disney, Wishes.  After Wishes, the park started to clear out and we hit up all of our favorite rides - usually walking on to almost all of them!  We stayed until after midnight and the park was SO dead, it was crazy!



Tuesday morning was check out morning :(  We had a late evening flight so we checked out and left our luggage with the bell hop and headed to our pool at Coronado Springs.  It was a beautiful day and we spent a few hours playing in the pool, lots of water slide rides, and soaking up the Florida sun.  It was finally time to head to the airport on the Magical Express and we were so sad to go, even Nick.




We made it back to freezing cold Michigan uneventfully but the trip was not one to forget!  We had the best time and Nick really enjoyed himself - even more than he said he thought he would which made me happy!  I have made it back to Disney a couple times since 2009 with family and friends but we are so excited for June to go together again.

All we have planned right now is where we are going to stay - do you have any recommendations for us?!

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