Chicago

Weekend happenings: hello, Spring!

There was a lot of sweating, a lot of pavement-pounding, a lot of celebrating this weekend.

It all started Thursday night with an event at one of my favorite studios, Sweat Chicago. They threw a St. Patrick’s Day workout/happy hour called “Sweat, Sliders and Brews.” The workout started at 7:45 and was followed immediately by food and drinks from Hopsmith Tavern (another place I’ve been keen on ever since I learned they have a giant Twister board in their upstairs bar). I’ve been to a handful of workout/happy hour combo events since I moved to the city, but nothing kicked my butt more than Thursday night’s workout.

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What was supposed to be a quick 45 minute workout turned into a hellish three-workout partner combo: A 15-minute AMRAP, an 8-minute AMRAP, and a partner chipper workout. Oh, and the warmup was a burpee contest (which I supposedly “won” but I must have counted wrong because I got 31 in two minutes and I swear to god I’ve never done more than 15 in a minute but hooookay). Needless to say it was a doozy. The chipper was fun because we got to choose how we broke up the exercises, so a lot of teamwork and communication was happening the whole time. We were matched with a partner we didn’t know, and while in typical ice breaker activities this is one of my biggest pet peeves, ever since I’ve become more comfortable in the fitness community in Chicago I think it was a great idea. I was paired with a really nice girl who had never been to Sweat before so I was happy to make her feel more comfortable and have fun with the workout.

After we finally finished, it was time to attack the food. My favorite part about fitness junkies? We know how to EAT. No rabbit food here.

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Buffalo chicken sliders, mini chili dogs, sliders, cobb salad chicken wraps, hummus, ranch, and veggies. Plus a post-sweat drink (beer never tasted so good!)

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We came. We sweat. We conquered.

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Other events the past few days included date night with my one and only (aka my best friend and the only man who will let me dress him up for a lululemon photo shoot and then make him buy me tacos).

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I did my duty and exposed yet another friend to the beauty that is Velvet Taco. Spencer is obsessed now too and we have a standing lunch date next Saturday. It’s kind of a big deal.

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I’m eating my way through their menu, so I tried two new tacos: the Annatto Shredded Pork (avocado crema, house shred, grilled pineapple, pickled onion, queso fresco, and cilantro) and the Rotisserie Chicken (white queso, roasted corn pico, cilantro, and smoked poblano salsa).

Since I plan on trying everything on the menu (except beef options) AND it’s officially March Madness season, I’m thinking I should start a Taco Bracket for this place. Right now the Tikka Chicken and the Rotisserie Chicken would be leading the pack, but I’ll be sure to go back and do further research.

Of course the weekend wouldn’t be complete without some St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans. It was a bright and sunny day spent outside with friends. And although I almost ate a piece of pizza off the ground (that is not even remotely close to an exaggeration), I was one of the behaved ones. Check out that police blotter!

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The rest of the week I was busy chipping away at my #100milemarch challenge (which is going really well, by the way!) Daylight Savings + weather in the mid 50s all week made for perfect running temps. I ran almost every day last week and even though my legs felt like tree trunks through some of those miles, I didn’t regret a single run. I love my city when it starts to come alive this time of year.

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Bridge pic – can you tell it’s rush hour?

I even managed to snap a quick video of the beach just after the sunrise on my long run Saturday morning

Spring is in the air and you can feel it. It’s the perfect time to tackle those fitness goals you’ve been putting off since January, and definitely a great time to get creative in the kitchen. I know this is the time of year when my creative juices start flowing!

Questions:

  • Who wants to come visit me? I’m in the mood to host 🙂 If you visited, what’s the ONE thing you’d want to do in Chicago?
  • St. Patty’s Day — did you celebrate?
  • Outdoor running — is your town ready, or are you still buried by winter
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Weekend Writer’s Block — Adventures in Chiberia

**Disclaimer: massive amounts of writer’s block going on over here. Please excuse what can only be described as a random explosion of my thoughts**

Don’t you hate days when you want to write, but you just can’t come up with the right words? I guess we’ll just have to do what anyone would do in an awkward situation: talk about the weather.

I have never seen such a drastic change in weather conditions.

24 hours ago I was casually running along the Lake Shore path in crops and a vest. And today? This is what we woke up to:

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Over a foot of snow. And the one thing I learned about living in the neighborhoods now instead of directly downtown? No one shovels anything. The sidewalks were a disaster. But let’s backtrack…

Friday night I went bowling with my college friends. I always go into bowling thinking I’m really good and then I’m lucky if I break 100. It’s that lefty curse, I’ll tell ya.

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Saturday was “date day” with my mom to round out her birthday week. We spent the afternoon baking cookies and went to our favorite suburban sandwich shop for the best tuna melt in the continental US. This will always be “our spot.”

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I got back to the city around 5pm, but since it was almost spring-like on Saturday and I knew a blizzard was coming, I threw on my running shoes the second I walked into my apartment, turned right around, and knocked out a beautiful 6 miler along the lake.

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I really went for it, outfit-wise: camo running pants, purple shoes, black vest, orange top. Ridiculous.

Saturday night was spent celebrating Spencer’s birthday. I’m so lucky to have that guy in my life. We’ve been friends since we met on the first day of high school and it really is awesome that we’ve managed to stay close ever since. We went to Headquarters in Lincoln Park, a bar completely dedicated to arcade games, so it was a fun night filled with singing Blink182 in cabs and playing pinball.unnamed (25)

Aaaaand then the Great Blizzard of 2015 hit. Okay, New York, you’ve got nothing on us. It started snowing last night around 8pm and hasn’t stopped since. We were able to catch a cab to our Superbowl shindig but ended up having to walk home afterwards…a not so pleasant experience. It took us an hour to go one mile, most of it spent walking in the street because at least those were semi-plowed. Luckily we were able to laugh about it so we stopped a lot to take silly photos and eat the leftover cookies I brought to the party.

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Oh, and just because it wouldn’t be Superbowl Weekend without some commercial-talk, here is my favorite ad of the night. I lose it every time the polar bear pops up.

Thank goodness there were still some funny ads  — too many of them made me want to either a) call my dad and tell him I love him or b) never have kids because apparently he or she might get into the chemicals under the sink. I’m all for the emotional but I’m not looking to cry when I’m elbows-deep in some buffalo chicken dip.

Sometimes weekends are a blur, and this was the case the past two days. But one thing I do know is I laughed non-stop. As I’m writing this up my cheeks hurt from all the laughter and smiling the past two days have brought me. I got to do all the things I love: run, eat buffalo chicken dip, watch football AND Katy Perry, celebrate a friend’s birthday, spend time with my family, and bake. Perfect.

And just because this is the funniest thing I’ve seen in awhile:

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Questions:

  • When you have writer’s block, what do you do? Write, or skip a day?
  • Favorite kind of cookie? I made monster cookies for the Superbowl: m&ms, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, oatmeal and rice krispies! They were killer.
  • Best thing you ate at your Superbowl Party? BUFFALO CHICKEN DIP

balancing the weekend: jumping jacks and jello shots

I don’t even know where to begin describing the shenanigans that went down this weekend.

Friday night we celebrated my Dad’s birthday with our annual trip to a German restaurant. We eat German food once a year because it’s my Dad’s favorite — that shows how much we love him because I don’t think anyone in the world besides Germans love German food. I was lucky because my mom brought me a piece of his German chocolate cake that they had the night before — sensing a theme here?

1476089_1007196122640516_3360148816688752952_nWe went to Mirabell and it ended up being FANTASTIC. I never love German food but this was actually delicious! They took their time with the dishes but it was worth it — everything came out piping hot and flavorful.

unnamedI had salmon with garlic-cream sauce and fried potatoes with a salad to start. My brother got the famous Wiener Schnitzel and we all sampled some potato pancakes — everything was great. Plus I got to eat cake in bed later that night and I’m not sure what’s better than eating cake in bed…

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Saturday was when most of the shenanigans ensued. It was Chicago’s annual “12 Bars of Christmas” Event, otherwise known as TBOX. We started the day at 7am with coffee/Bailey’s, mimosas, egg sandwiches and cinnamon rolls.

IMG_2043 IMG_2040 IMG_2046IMG_2049 IMG_2051Oh and did I mention the jello shot tower? Yeah, there was a jello shot tower.

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Needless to say it was a fun morning.

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Now, in the name of balance let’s talk weekly workouts.

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: 4 mile run
  • Wednesday: Sweat on State (400m warmup run + main workout shared below)
  • Thursday: Kick-ass spin class at Flywheel
  • Friday: 60 minute Sculpt class at CorePower Yoga
  • Saturday: Jello shots burn calories right?
  • Sunday: Rest

Even though I only worked out four days last week, I feel like I pushed myself 100% for those four workouts so I don’t feel like I skimped on the sweat at all. Plus I’m finally starting to notice a significant difference in my upper body strength which is so exciting! I love that I now measure my success on what I can accomplish with my body, not on how it looks or how “skinny” I can get.

A workout that centers on running - my kinda day!

A workout that centers on running – my kinda day!

The blue pants always make an appearance at sculpt

The blue pants always make an appearance at sculpt

unnamed (7)Moral of the story? With great food/drinks comes great responsibility…to sweat! And when you make working out as much fun as I do, it all balances out. The jumping jacks AND the jello shots 😀

Questions:

  • Any fun holiday parties this past weekend?
  • Is there a type of food you aren’t fond of, like I am with German food?
  • How do you keep a balance between food/drinks and fitness?

trust the timing of your life

Yes I still exist!

….I’m just approximately 10x cooler now that I have my own apartment downtown.

Just kidding I’m approximately 10x poorer but it is so, so worth it.

The move went as smoothly as possible — minus the hiccup of forgetting all my electronics at home — I guess I was just so excited to make the move that I left my laptop, charger, iPod and phone charger on the kitchen table. Talk about scatterbrained.

But nevertheless I am officially a resident of Chicago. Living that 60657 life, yo.

IMG_1734This is the before pic of my new habitat. It has so much potential and I love it 🙂 I’ve already made it my own with race medals, travel posters. candles and a variety of French paraphernalia. The best part? The light. I know very few things in life but one thing I do know: I can’t live anywhere with limited natural light. I’m a “who needs curtains let’s let the sunshine in at 5am just because it’s magical” kinda gal and this place does just that. Have I mentioned how happy I am and how lucky I feel?

Even better than having a nice space to rest my head at night is that I’m living with two wonderful people. Megan, who you’ve seen around these parts a lot, is my best friend from high school. We’ve been friends since we were 14 and always said we’d live together — who knew it would actually happen. And Colleen – Megan’s friend from college – is a hoot and a half. The three of us have only lived together for 72 hours and we already had a night of ugly Christmas sweaters. champagne and decorating.

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I’m on cloud nine.

Trust the timing of your life

When I moved home six months ago, I couldn’t see past the pain. It was like a wall that I couldn’t get past – I just kept hitting it, clawing at it, trying to jump over it or run around it. But it’s once I finally sat down and rested against the wall for a little that it finally disappeared and I was able to see the light on the other side.

There is nothing worse than being in the midst of a storm and someone telling you “everything gets better with time.” It makes you uncontrollably, inexplicably angry. But it’s true. And unfortunately all you can do is weather the storm for as long as it takes.

Now that I’m on my own, all set up in my new place that I am paying for on my own, going to a job I love every single day, and thriving in a community of like-minded fitness junkies, I couldn’t be more full of joy.

Now I just need to figure out how I’m going to fit my high-maintenance grocery demands into my budget. Woof.

night at the museum

Sometimes I worry that eventually you’re all going to get sick of my weekend updates which end up usually like “look how much food I ate!!!!”. In this particular nightmare of mine I show off all the glorious snapshots of my meals and snacks and I come back to check the post and it’s crickets (well, besides my family commenting that I’m taking good care of myself and “looks like you’re having lots of laughs”).

So thank goooooodness I have something to else to share this time around. I had a wonderful weekend full of winter-running, body-sculpting, and museum-exploring. Classy, right?

I had my first bout of winter running which luckily I was able to make happen before the snow fell today. Yes, it’s currently snowing in the Windy City. But while it wasn’t snowing this particular day, it was in the 20s and I started out FREEZING. Thankfully, as usually happens with winter runs, I warmed up after the first mile or so, but those first ten minutes of freezing fingers is no fun at all.

unnamed (13)Yep, winter is here. Which means my bed and I are about to become even better friends.

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I was a good little runner and stretched/iced my knees and shins before hopping on a train downtown for a night at the museum. I enjoyed a little pre-museum cocktail on the train because it doesn’t get any classier than mini bottles of wine on the train.

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Thursday nights in November are free at the Art Institute of Chicago (recently rated #1 museum in the world!) and there’s a local bar nearby with 1/2 off bottles of wine so my night was basically decided for me. I mean, you don’t stumble upon deals like that very often in the city.

unnamed (12)The one time in the history of mankind that being an Illinois resident SAVED people money.

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My beautiful, beautiful city in the background. With a side of smirk. That is the face that still gets carded for R-rated movies so I’m not sure what I was trying to do here.unnamed (15)Megan learning about our favorite piece in the museum (that we saw. That place is HUGE and we’ll have to go back).
unnamed (17)unnamed (16)The folks at the Art Institute mean serious business. There were at least five security guards in every room of the place, and if you got too close to the art (ahem, my bad!) a quiet but noticeable alarm went off. I mean, if you’re going to be #1 in the world I suppose you should preserve the art. Understood.

The rest of the weekend wasn’t nearly as exciting, but I did learn a few valuable lessons that I thought I’d share:

1) Don’t sit next to the heater in hot yoga sculpt.

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So. much. sweat. I could SEE the heat blowing into the room above me. Oh, don’t forget your water bottle. Oh, and wait until everyone is out of the room before you take a mirror selfie. I wanted to turn around and say IT’S OKAY I HAVE A BLOG DON’T WORRY! I JUST HAD TO DOCUMENT THE SWEAT!

2) Don’t show up at a pizza place ten minutes before it closes because they’ll be almost out of deep dish and instead of two slices of the good stuff you’ll be forced to have one slice of thin crust. Thieves.

unnamed (19)Thin crust being smothered by its deep dish counterpart. Crushing the competition since 1943.

3) Don’t assume no one can hear what music you’re listening to. Because you’ll end up listening to this song on repeat and then realize everyone around you can hear and is actually getting pretty sick of the song. I have so many new friends on the train!

I learned some valuable lessons this weekend, scored a great deal on a classy evening, and even worked out a bit. All the best things in life! Also, lucky you, you got to see my face FOUR times in one post – I’ve definitely hit my quota for the week.

Questions:

  • How was your weekend?
  • What’s a life lesson you recently learned?

metta movement chicago: #100miles100smiles

Lately I have been incorporating more yoga into my life. Not just the physical poses but the mental and emotional dedications that it calls out of you. And while I’m still getting the hang of the physical aspect, I can’t begin to tell you how much happier I am when I take moments every day to move closer to a yoga state-of-mind.

In yoga there is a deeply rooted belief in giving without expectation. This is one of the most beautiful phrases to me and, coincidentally, one of my greatest challenges. I always, always, always give with expectation. I am loyal and am always thinking two steps ahead about how to add a little sunshine to someone’s day. I love people and so I find myself thinking about them more than the average person (or so I think). Unfortunately, in the past, this has been met with very high expectations in return. When people don’t return the, for lack of a better word, favor, I get disappointed and hurt. It has affected many of my relationships in many different ways. That being said, sometimes our greatest weaknesses can transform into our greatest strengths once we identify them, and thanks to yoga and the philosophies surrounding the practice, I have been able to face that weakness head on and work on it.

I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again: I’m extremely lucky to work for a company that not only exemplifies a healthy outlook on life but fosters this kind of personal development. And beyond individual well-being, lululemon athletica is dedicated to social health as well.

Every year lululemon provides funds to support community projects that contribute to social and environmental health. This is called the “Metta Movement”

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Metta

the idea of generating love and happiness for others

an altruistic attitude of love and friendliness as distinguished from mere amiability based on self-interest

the strong wish for the welfare and happiness of others

This year is my first year participating in our Chicago-area Metta Movement, and I couldn’t be more excited to share the details with you! (I’m looking at you, Suzy, Bethany, Amy and all my other Chicago-area bloggers!)

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This Friday (November 7th) lululemon athletica Chicago will be hosting our first ever 24-hour event to raise funds and awareness for Smile Train, an organization dedicated to providing free, safe surgery for children in developing countries with cleft lip and/or palate. David Coligado, one of our store ambassadors, was inspired after a trip to South Africa where he saw how poverty has affected how the other half live. A particularly saddening fact is that physical deformities can affect children for the rest of their lives, not only physically but socially. For example, every baby born in Uganda with a cleft is given the name Ajok which means literally, “cursed by God,” with some newborns killed or abandoned right after birth. What people don’t know, however, is that any child with a cleft can be helped with surgery that costs as little as $250 and takes as little as 45 minutes. That is life-changing for a child in a developing country, and a goal that Dave literally wants to run for.

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Through this year’s Metta Movement, we, alongside Dave, are hoping to raise $25,000 for Smile Train.  Dave is, in a word, a superstar. He will be running on a treadmill in our store window for 24 hours — with the goal of running 100+ miles.

**drops the mic**

No, he’s not a robot but he’s as close to superman as I’ve ever seen.

In order to give him the most support, love, and gratitude, we are opening the doors of our Rush/Walton location this Friday night at 8pm after our normal shopping hours are done and throwing a party all night! That’s right, as he runs into the wee hours of the night, we’ll be hosting an event unlike anything we’ve ever done before! From appetizers (by Graham Elliot) and improv, to neck massages, flash tattoos, silent auction and everything in between, the night is going to be a blast! And that’s not even the best part: we are hosting workout classes in our store ALL NIGHT. Ever wanted to try Shred415?  Head on over to lululemon on Rush/Walton at 1:15am for a free class (yupthat’srightfreeeee). Boot camp? No problem. See you at 2:15am. Hip hop yoga? 5am it is! And if you’re just a crazy person and want to jump in the lake with Dave and all of us crazy educators, we’ll be jumping in Lake Michigan at the end of the event! Because, I don’t know, I think Dave might need an ice bath after that. Just sign up!

If you’re not from Chicago you are still MORE than welcome to support Dave in any way you can – thoughts, prayers, vibes, or heck, your wallet. Whatever strikes your fancy. Just visit his site – get to know him a little better. He’s a Chicago gem.

We are crazy-excited to help Dave reach his goal so that he can travel overseas this December and personally deliver a check to the Smile Train medical team. I mean, how often do you get to be so directly involved with changing the lives of one person, let alone a hundred children?!

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Please feel free to reach out to me via email {ihadabiglunch@gmail.com} if you have any questions or want more information about this amazing event Friday night! You know you wanna go 🙂 It’s like having a slumber party, but with all the other fitness freaks of the world. Can I get an amen?

Here’s the final schedule – take a look!

unnamed (11)**This post is composed of all my own thoughts and opinions about this event – it does not come from lululemon athletica.

slurping turtle meets pumpkin patch

I’m beginning to think I have a little bit of an addictive personality.

I’m either waaaaay on “this” end of the spectrum or waaaaay on “that” end.

Case in point, my weekend. Remember two weeks ago when I could barely recollect all the beer I drank? This weekend I spent both Friday and Saturday nights watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory and eating microwave popcorn. Big things happening over here.

I did have two highlights though, which can’t be forgotten amidst the bliss that was my laid back weekend.

One, I tried a new restaurant in Chicago: Slurping Turtle!

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I’ve wanted to try this place for awhile now but to be honest I rarely crave Asian food. If I do it’s usually just a pad thai craving (a very specific pad thai craving which can only be fulfilled by a little hole-in-the-wall place in my hometown. Picky picky). But I was getting dinner with Spencer who is always up for trying new spots so we decided Slurping Turtle would be the perfect meeting spot since it’s one of “those” places you have to try once in the city.

Do you have one of those friends who you know will be in your life forever, even if you only see each other every few months? Spencer is that friend.

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First of all, I love dining with people who a) want to get a drink and b) will split an adventurous appetizer with me. Spencer and I decided to try a light Japanese beer (when in Rome, right?) and split an out-of-this world starter special. I wish I could remember the name of the sauce but basically it was crab legs covered in butter on top of some stir fried bok choy. I could have eaten a mountain of that stuff.

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The star of the show was, of course, the ramen. Sidenote: I’ve never had ramen before. I was determined when I went off to college that I would always be “that person” who never tried ramen. Pretentious much?

Well this wasn’t exactly dorm room fare: We both had the Tan Tan Men Ramen (spicy) — homemade ramen noodles, pork meatball, pork chashu, pork miso, bok choy, and bean sprouts.

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My thoughts ranged from: “Wow this is the spiciest thing I’ve had in my life” to “Thank god this isn’t a first date this is the messiest thing I’ve ever eaten” to “How in god’s name am I supposed to break up this meatball with my chopsticks?” Overall it was freaking delicious. I’m so glad I took the plunge and went pork-crazy (sometimes I can be a little weird about meat) because it was everything I’d heard about and more. The reviews were correct: Slurping Turtle has the best ramen in Chicago.

The other highlight of the weekend was a trip to a pumpkin patch with a few friends on Saturday. I, along with every other human being on the planet, apparently decided that this Saturday was THE day to go to a pumpkin patch so it was crowded (almost as crowded as my Facebook newsfeed with girls in their boots, flannel shirts and apple cider. No judgment. I am one of you).

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The nice thing about this trip was that we went to an actual farm. It was run by a family who converts their home and farm into a fall afternoon getaway for all the other suburbanites to take their kids on an October afternoon. Not only did we see lots of farm animals (including a llama and a miniature horse – Little Sebastian, anyone?) and get our pumpkin fix in, but we enjoyed a hay ride and learned all about different gourds. You learn something new everyday, I tell ya.

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So from Asian delicacy delights to fall-mania, I was perfectly happy to have spent my nights relaxing and catching up on some sleep. Okay that’s not true but I did catch up on some shows (equally important) and I didn’t poison my body with Natty Light.

“Wherever you are, be all there.”

Questions:

  • What cultural cuisine do you crave most often? I always crave Mexican food
  • Favorite Asian cuisine: Chinese, Thai, sushi, Vietnamese….go!
  • Have you been to a pumpkin patch yet this year? Are you planning on it?