WIAW: yep, ANOTHER birthday

If it seems like I’ve said the word “birthday” a lot lately, you’re not crazy. I have a four person family, and our birthdays are all within 40 days of each other (and Christmas). It’s like a birthday bonanza. Let’s just say the wrapping paper comes out once a year and then *sayonara* until next December.WIAW

Yesterday was my beautiful mom’s birthday, so my WIAW is birthday/I’m-home-so-I’m-going-to-raid-my-parents’-fridge-themed. Glorious.

I started the day at Sweat on State for Tabata Tuesday. We did eight 20-second rounds of each exercise which included sprints, kettlebell deadlifts, mountain climbers on a medicine ball, push-ups, weighted lunges, and sit-ups. We had a staff meeting at the store just down the street so a few of us got our sweat on bright and early at 7am, thanks to some great coaching by Erin.

After the staff meeting I was a ravenous monster on my way to the train, so I stopped at my favorite bagel shop for breakfast. I wish I wasn’t so repetitive but yeah, I got another egg sandwich. This one is truly my favorite in the city, though. The Big Z — because nothing is yummier than an everything bagel stuffed with eggs, veggies, and melty cheddar. Get at me!

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I got home around noon and spent the afternoon working on Community Development for the store. I’ve basically pressed “Snooze” on my responsibilities and initiative on that front after the crazy holiday season, but it’s time to get back to business. I’m excited to see the cool fitness leaders we’ll be getting in the store for demonstrations this upcoming year. While I worked I snacked on “lunch”, or two homemade bran muffins and a sliced banana. Raisins always belong in muffins. Always.

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See that blank calendar? I have to fill it with community events in our store. As you can see it’s going swimmingly.

The real highlight of the day was dinner. We went to a little Italian restaurant in my hometown that my parents are in love with, and now I see why. Like most dining gems, this place was unassuming at best, hidden between a liquor store and a tattoo parlor in a strip mall. Yeah. But THE FOOD. Never have I ever had vodka sauce so decadent and flavorful.

Chianti + Bruschetta

Chianti + Bruschetta

Rigatoni a la Vodka. I added grilled chicken and spinach. And yes, I ate the whole thing.

Rigatoni a la Vodka. I added grilled chicken and spinach. And yes, I ate the whole thing.

The fam :)

The fam + a UFO in the background

We got home and did cake and cards, a ritual that was made even more fun thanks to some Chianti-inspired laughs. unnamed (23)Happy Birthday Maja! Thank you for being the quarterback of our family 🙂 At the end of the day I know I can always count on you for anything. Thank you for being so supportive and kind to me this past year when I was going through tough times. You rallied me through it all! You made our childhood feel like a Disney movie, always playing songs and letting us dance around the house all day, using our imaginations and just being goofy kids. We’re all so lucky to have you.

unnamed (29)Questions:

  • Are your family members’ birthdays close together or far apart?
  • What do you order at Italian restaurants? I used to be an eggplant parmesan fanatic!


Today the #1 man in my life turns the big 6-1.

You have always been my number one fan.

You never missed a basketball game — no matter how far away it was you were always in the stands cheering for me. Even when we traveled to a tiny, middle school gym in Kentucky, you were there.

You always looked for lemonade at my parent-teacher conferences growing up, and I always did everything I could to make sure you got some. And the one time you didn’t, I was crushed. I had let my dad down. I cried in the hallway and you thought I was the goofiest kid around. But letting you down has always been one of my biggest fears in life.

I always wanted to impress you growing up by eating all those weird types of meat that you had at restaurants. I’ve tried duck, veal, bologna and turtle soup because of you. Nothing I’d eat now, but I loved being brave and trying crazy things because my dad was eating them. I loved being just like you.

You share my love of late-night Diners, Drive Ins and Dives and Seinfeld Episodes.

You always make me popcorn when I ask – no questions asked, no matter the day or time.

You passed on your road rage to me. Not the best trait, but hey, they can’t all be good.

You almost had a heart attack moving me into my sorority house in college — but it quickly went away with a glass of chocolate milk. Further proving that you’re a child at heart.

You read this blog. You compliment my writing and tell me how proud you are of me regularly. How lucky can a girl get?

You have a voicemail from me saved on your phone from 2012. Who does that? You collect memories.

You take care of our house. You clean, you repair, you get up early and stay up late, and never, EVER ask for a thank-you.

And most importantly, you have ALWAYS trusted me to make my own decisions. You’ve never once told me what to do, or hovered over me, insinuating what you think I should do. Your trust in my character is unparalleled.

People say they have the “World’s Best Dad.”

I know I do.

Happy Birthday, Dad! I love you so much!


picture this: weekend

First things first: listen to this song during your next workout. I played it on repeat for hours during my workouts this weekend and my commute to/from the city. It’s so joyful, catchy, upbeat, and motivating. Obsessed is too casual a word for what I feel for this song.

Well it was a busy weekend full of work, great food, and workouts. So not much different from a typical weekend, but worth a share. Sometimes the best way to share is through nothing but pictures, so without further ado….my weekend.  Happy Monday!


I just started including bosu balls into my workouts…. it adds a whole other dimension to workouts


Friday I worked 13 hours aka it was a Venti kind of day


It’s just a wee bit cold in Chicago…


Saw this Samoa cupcake on Instagram, immediately left work to get one from Crumbs


A little improvisation when I couldn’t find any weights…


Catch-up time with these girls 🙂


Greek yogurt fro-yo…actually pretty great!

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageOkay I lied I have a few words for the end of this post…Happy birthday, Maja! You’re a wonderful mom, the best in the world, and you always look out for me and want what’s best. Thanks for always supporting me and being the passionate, beautiful person you are. I love you so much….have a fabulous day full of cake and dancing!


birthday weekend in the south pole

Warning: this post is full of not-so-healthy choices.

Fried foods? Check.

Sugary fish bowl drinks? Check.

Limited activity besides Just Dance and walking from bar to bar? Check.

But it’s all okay because it was my birthday weekend!


That’s right. I’m officially the big 2-3, the year of Michael Jordan, the “there isn’t a Taylor Swift song about it yet” age.  It doesn’t feel much different. At the same time, however, I feel like 2014 is going to bring big things for me so I bet 23 is going to be a great year.  22 was all about transitioning: graduating college, moving back home, finding an internship, maintaining a job, and now moving on to a new opportunity in the city and living here part time. I’m now going to be interning at a new public relations company and I couldn’t be happier.  I start tomorrow (thanks to the freezing temps that I’ll get to later) and I’ll be living with Zman 4 days a week at his apartment in the city. The other 3 days/nights I’ll be back in the suburbs working at the restaurant. It’s a bizarre schedule but I’m so excited to be back on the daily grind! I’m one of those weirdos who thrives on structure, schedules and planners, so I know this change is going to bring me nothing but happiness.

Back to the important stuff: the birthday!

I took the train to the city in the morning and met up Zman for a bday lunch.  We decided that instead of getting entrees we would just have a day of “apps and zerts”.

Classic Parks and Rec.

We headed to Public House in the River North neighborhood downtown and picked four larger than life appetizers to enjoy.Image

The ones that made the cut were fried pickles, cheese curds, a homemade pretzel with cheese, and sea salt/parsley french fries. Good lawd. Halfway through the apps we were floating on cloud 9, but by the end I was googling wheelbarrow rentals to get me out of there. They were all so good! My only complaint is that I didn’t ask for a bottle of ketchup. The fries were served with a few delicious sauces (creamy parmesan, sweet bbq, etc.) but nothing compares to the classic fries and ketchup.

As most food lovers know, even when you’re stomach is full, you still have room in your “dessert stomach.” This was the case for me after lunch so we headed over to Glazed and Infused for one of my favorite treats: their vanilla bean glazed donut.


It looks pale in comparison to some of the other selections they have, but I always usually sample something a little more dangerous and then stick with my vanilla bean. It’s just too good!

We spent the rest of the afternoon at “The Wolf of Wall Street” which I LOVED. It was over 3 hours but well worth it.  The rest of the night was spent drinking sugary concoctions, playing Just Dance, and bar hopping with friends. It was the perfect birthday.


I also can’t forget the incredible birthday cake that my mom made for my brother and me–flourless chocolate! It took her so much time and effort but it was insaaaanely good (especially with a hot cup of coffee).


Cake for breakfast is ALWAYS acceptable on your birthday.

The rest of the weekend was low key because a) Friday was just too much and b) temps have dipped down into (wait for it) THE NEGATIVES. Yep, that’s right, it’s -18 right now in Chicago, but with wind chills 40 BELOW. I heard this morning that it’s colder here than in the South Pole. Say what?

Since it was still my birthday weekend, we made the boys cook for us.  Spencer used to work at Noodles and Company so he put his skills to use.



It turned out great! The only thing I’d change next time is to add spinach, but the grocery store was out of a lot of stuff (I’m not kidding when I say it’s a snowpocalypse here).

Here are a few other eats from the weekend before I sign out and snuggle under some blankets for a night of BCS football or The Bachelor (depending on which side of my brain wins the battle).


Scrambled eggs and Kodiak cakes


Shrimp diablo tacos from On the Border (they look better than they tasted but the rice, beans, and limitless chips and salsa more than made up for it)


Scrambled eggs with bell peppers, onions, and cheddar cheese. Veggie sausage on the side.


Cocoa Krispies make the best late-night snack


Vegan chili and a jalapeno corn muffin

I’ll be back tomorrow with a more fitness-inspired post. Those have been scarce lately because my workouts have been so monotonous, but I promise I’ll try to shake it up this week!


  • Do you like celebrating your birthday?
  • If you could be eating anything in the world right now, what would you eat?
  • What’s the coldest weather you’ve ever experienced?

Megan’s birthday in the city!

Saturday was full of birthday shenanigans (the best kind of shenanigans, of course).

Before I went downtown to spend the day with Megan, I hit up my regular 8am spin class and came home to these beauties.

ImageCherry walnut pancakes a la Dad. We have so many sweet cherries from the farmer’s market so my dad decided to whip these up for breakfast.  I ate pancakes on the back porch with my parents and it all made for a beautiful morning.

After some typical Chicago traffic I was in the Lakeview neighborhood and ready to enjoy the day. The weather was perfect, breezy and mid 80s, so Megan and I decided to walk to a coffee shop nearby that I’d heard of.

ImageThe Coffee and Tea Exchange has been open in the East Lakeview neighborhood since 1975.  They offer tons of freshly roasted coffee from all over the world, all on display in barrels that you are encouraged to observe and smell. They offer every kind of Torani syrup known to man and have daily specials including “Rose latte” along with plenty of other creative concoctions.


After a lonnnnnnnnng decision-making process, I chose salted caramel syrup (next time I’m coming for you, french toast!) I had a salted caramel iced coffee with soy milk. It tasted like a dessert!

Megan picked the rose latte, which I took a curious sip of, and it tasted exactly what you’d think a rose would taste like. It was not overpowering like I’ve found other rose-flavored desserts to be.


We took our coffee to go and walked the streets of East Lakeview. Megan and Christina just moved to the neighborhood so it’s been fun to explore with them.  Our walk took us to Wrigley Field, and of course I had to snap a pic.


We grabbed some rental bikes near the lakefront afterwards and took the path from Lincoln Park all the way to Museum Campus, passing Navy Pier and North Avenue beach along the way.

ImageThe birthday girl!


Contrary to this picture, the path was packed! It took us an hour to go less than five miles and we spent most of the time dodging runners and walkers, but regardless it was still a beautiful trip along Lake Michigan.  The lakefront path is my favorite place in Chicago (although I suppose it’s not really a “place”, but I don’t know if you could find a more beautiful and scenic route in any other city).

When we got back to their apartment I gave Megan her presents.


Blue Moon, cookie cake, and flowers.  Such grown-up gifts. I remember when a birthday present meant a Jesse McCartney card and a new t-shirt from Aeropostale.

We were absolutely exhausted from all the walking and biking so we knew we could only order one thing for dinner:


Lou Malnati’s while watch Tosh.0.  You could be having the worst day in the world and Tosh.0 will have you rolling on the floor laughing. I loveeeeee that show.

Between the deep dish pizza, cookie cake, and beer, it was a really healthy night 😉

Later we went out for a few hours to celebrate.  Even though we couldn’t stop talking about how crazy it is that this year we’re all turning 23 (Megan and I have been best friends since we were 14), we agreed that we’re looking forward to the years to come, when hopefully we get things a little more “figured out” 🙂

I love these girls like sisters and while our birthday celebration was nothing like turning 21 (haha), it was a nice night out with friends.



ImageClearly I’ve been spending too much time in the sun.


Happy Birthday, Megan! I love you!


  • How long have you known your best friend?
  • What was your favorite birthday (year)?