monday

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?
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Halloween 2020

In a surprising twist of events, Halloween 2020 ended up happening six years early.

Apparently if you have an open day and a whole lot of friends whose plans are cancelled last minute, you can throw an adorable ALMOST Pinterest-esque Halloween party. No, there weren’t donuts hanging from trees or apple bobbing, but there was Catch Phrase, spiked cider and squash so I’d say it was a success.

I started off the day in pure pumpkin bliss: pumpkin pancakes (my favorite Kodiak cakes + pure canned pumpkin + spices) and coffee filled to the brim with Bailey’s pumpkin spice creamer.

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Once I heard that people were going to come over after all, I got to the prep. We ended up with quite the feast, thanks to some easy recipes and family brainstorming.

The final spread:

  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Tortilla chips and homemade guacamole
  • Grapes
  • Clementine Jack-o-Lanterns
  • Greek yogurt Spinach dip and pita crisps
  • Candy corn and peanuts
  • Spiked cider
  • Dirt cups (vanilla pudding + orange food coloring and crumbled oreos)
  • Delicata squash roasted with coconut oil, stevia and cinnamon

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We spent the night listening to the monster mash, handing out candy to a dozen characters from Frozen, playing Catch Phrase, and watching “Zodiac.” It was everything I imagined my Halloween 2020 party to be and more.

And just when I thought the weekend couldn’t get any better, I totally kicked butt in the breakfast department on Saturday. I was running early for work so I decided to take myself on a little date to my favorite bagel shop downtown, NYC Bagel Deli. This place rocks my world. I had an everything bagel with two eggs, cheddar cheese, tomatoes and green peppers.

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Please let there be bagel sandwiches in heaven.

Questions:

  • How did you spend your Halloween?
  • What’s your favorite Halloween candy?
  • Have you ever played board games at a party? What’s your favorite?

weekend in rhymes + workout accountability

Having a schedule like mine is super weird. Not sure if I’ve mentioned that before (sarcasm).

Sundays used to feel odd – like the “end” of something. Now it’s just another day, and knowing that this morning is a Monday ain’t no thang. That being said, the one thing I do appreciate about the weekends is I get to spend a lot more time with loved ones (because, sadly, most everyone else has a normal life and they use the weekends to do activities. how rude).

Lot’s happened this weekend. so let’s be obnoxious and rhyme about it.

There was spinning, painting, applesauce-making and Red-Robin-shaking (those bottomless fries, yo):

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There was running at sunset down Lake Shore Drive (with donuts on donuts for my running to thrive):

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There were babies in costumes I creeped on online, and Hawks game raffles where I won a prize:

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Popcorn and sweet potatoes, surprise surprise. You fools dominate my taste buds, despite all other tries:

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Okay end rhymes. My “Sunday night glass of wine” brain thought that was a good idea five minutes ago but now it’s clear I’m running out of juice (both figuratively and literally).

Finally, a few funnies to start your week:

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Just kidding that wasn’t last – I have to keep making sure that I’m holding myself accountable for my workouts. I did pretty well this past week!

Workout Accountability 10/20-10/26

  • Monday: 4 mile run
  • Tuesday: Body by Jake full-body video (free on Hulu!)
  • Wednesday: Yoga Sculpt
  • Thursday: Flywheel
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: 5.25 mile run

HECK YES!

Questions:

  • What was your favorite workout this week?
  • Do weekends seem like a big deal to you or do you have a wacko schedule too?
  • Ever been to Red Robin? What’s your favorite thing there? (bottomless fries are a given).

Jim Halpert + delicata squash

I’m ashamed of myself for missing yesterday. Mostly because it was this man’s birthday:

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Hello, giggles. We miss you on primetime TV. I’ll be watching It’s Complicated and Something Borrowed in honor of how good he makes 35 look.

And since it’s been awhile since I’ve shared my eats with you, I figured now’s as good a time as ever. I ate by myself at Portillo’s last night and it was liberating. I got to scroll through Instagram and people-watch without any of that pesky conversation to worry about. Other than that it’s been plenty of home-cooked meals, new snacks from TJ’s, and a few outings. A great balance.

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Starbucks still gets a huge % of my paycheck

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Annie’s Organic Mac n Cheese with edamame mixed in

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Lemonade-coconut water — not my favorite but the company dropped samples off at the store and nothing tastes better than free

Delicata squash!!

Delicata squash!!

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$7 taco platter!!! So freaking delicious. Thanks, Theory. I didn’t know you had it in you.

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Oh and $7 margaritas in the city ain’t bad either

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My new nut obsession – must be salted or what’s the point?

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Always a great option for a quick mini-meal from Starbucks

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Fish rice and veggies – ketchup is a veggie right?

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Tuna sandwich + pumpkin cranberry crackers and Laughing Cow

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Portillo’s chopped salad – it just never gets old

Clearly my head wasn’t in the food-photography game this past week. When writer’s block strikes, you get whatever photos I have of my food that I can pass off for an excuse for a post. Bear with me 🙂

Questions:

  • Do you ever eat alone in restaurants?
  • What was the best thing you ate this weekend?

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?

newsflash: I’m not 21 anymore

I haven’t talked to you all since Wednesday and I still feel like I don’t have anything to say. I’m kind of tired of the “sound” of my own voice, if you catch my drift. I do have two recipes to share with you this week so get excited for that!

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The past few days can be summed up in one word: beer.

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You know what that means. It’s Sunday night and I feel like I’m typing with a preggers belly. All i can say is: thank god for fall layering. Those vests and cardigans really came in handy after day three of being slightly buzzed by Sam Adams Oktoberfest. Woof.

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It wasn’t my most shining moment as a proponent of health/fitness. And yeah, I had fun, and no, I don’t regret it. But it never fails that after weekends like this I find myself sitting on the couch Sunday night feeling like a lump on a log and wondering why I couldn’t get it together all weekend.

Thursday night I met up with old friends from my favorite PR internship last year for happy hour at Randolph Tavern in the Loop. We’ve only been able to make it happen every few months but every time we remember why we’re still friends – we’re a freakin’ hilarious foursome. We split a bunch of pork nachos and tacos. So maybe it wasn’t just the beer’s fault (whoops). The restaurant was pretty phenomenal considering we picked it at the last minute.

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Friday night was my five-year high school reunion! First of all, is that normal? I showed up to the bar and basically saw the same people I went to high school with except some of the guys actually had facial hair instead of hopeless shadows creeping all over their faces. And even though I will say, without shame, that I was pretty pumped for the reunion, it totally exceeded my expectations. I had a BALL.

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I’ve also been wearing the crap out of those booties I shared with you a few weeks ago. If you want a pair, head to Nordstrom NOW. Best purchase I’ve made in years. I was comfortable in them for hours and they only slightly made me resemble a WNBA player.

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Saturday was a little rough after reunion night (read: more beer) but I managed to get through work and meet Megan up at a local Oktoberfest celebration. My favorite part was a jousting “arena” that everyone from toddlers to sixty-year-old men was taking part in. I have to say, whenever I go to celebrations like this I kind of wish I had more culture in my life. Minus my quick stint visiting Prague, I haven’t done much to celebratte my Czech roots throughout my life. You Germans and Irish know how to party!

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We left Oktoberfest to get some real food at the Mystic Celt and ended up with an incredible view. The only thing better than sitting on a patio in the summer is sitting in the restaurant during Indian Summer when they have the front walls down so you’re basically outside while still sitting indoors. It made for some nice views of the street.

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So all in all, I ate and drank and didn’t do NEARLY enough activity to balance it all out. But I have a plan for this upcoming week to get more in control of myself when all I want to do is eat drink sleep repeat. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, fitness-loving Lauren wakes up Monday morning wanting to punch herself in the face. And we all know that when you make a plan and have high hopes for yourself, nothing can possibly go wrong or get in your way. Right? ………………….Right?

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No, Lauren, it isn’t fair, but you’re also not 21 anymore. Proper nutrition, water and sleep are a wee bit more important than back in your heyday.

So that’s that. How was your weekend?

CARA 20 miler, Taco Fest, and Accountability

What started on Friday night as a “Holy crap I’m burned out someone get me a glass of wine” kind of weekend turned out to be jam-packed with fun. I honestly didn’t want to leave my house after getting home Friday night. I had grand plans of seeing a cover band and causing all-around shenanigans but I ended up parked on my couch sending out depressing snapchats about the whole ordeal.

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Yes I took a screenshot of my own snapchat. I now know how to save it, so no need to educate me. I am technologically challenged.

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Saturday was the usual run, eat, work, but I did have a chance to go out with some friends that night which was fun. I was NOT happy about my 5:30am wake-up call on Sunday morning but hey, sometimes you have to sacrifice sleep in order to pretend you still have a social life.

Sunday was where the real action happened.

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I was a lululemon representative at the 20 miler that the Chicago Area Runners Association puts on every year a few weeks before the Chicago Marathon. We all arrived at 7:00am to set up our signs, our tent and our freebies for all the runners. First of all, it was COLD. I ran to my car for five minutes at least three times that morning just to warm up. In related news it was 85 degrees in Chicago on Saturday. So, let me just tell you, if the apocalypse starts somewhere, I promise you it’s going to be in the Windy City.

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Despite the weather, it was a beautiful day. A few of us cheered on the runners (my favorite job!) while others handed out wet towels with eucalyptus oil on them for relaxation after the run. Others were stationed at the lululemon tent, handing out flip flops, CRAZY good granola, and foam rollers to borrow. Bethany, did you come try to find me? I heard someone was asking for me so if it wasn’t you I’m worried I might have a stalker 😉

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I’m not a member of CARA because I haven’t lived in the city permanently for a long enough time that it seemed like a good idea, but let me tell you: I love that group. The energy, the love of running, the people…it’s overwhelming! I had so much fun watching people of all different shapes, sizes and ages cross the finish line, having just accomplished a 20 mile run – and whether it was their first or their 40th, you could tell that every runner was so proud of themselves. I was so happy to be a volunteer!

That afternoon I made my way north of the city for Lakeview Taco Fest, where I probably brushed paths with Amy without even noticing. I still can’t believe we keep missing each other!

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The highlight was the free wine tasting sponsored by Cupcake Wines at the beginning of the festival. I tried their prosecco (can’t go wrong) and a red velvet red, which wasn’t my favorite but my friends all agreed it’s now their new go-to red. Plus it was basically a wine truck – how much better does it get than that?

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Korean smoked pork taco from Toons Bar & Grill

Korean smoked pork taco with Asian slaw from Toons Bar & Grill – tie for first place! Deeelish

Smoked Chicken Taco from D.S. Tequila Company - my favorite of the day. The elote corn hash, on the other hand, was underwhelming.

Smoked Chicken Taco from D.S. Tequila Company – another favorite of the day. The elote corn hash, on the other hand, was underwhelming. But it looked too beautiful to pass up!

Tacos from Crosby's Kitchen - pretty great! The toppings were creative and tasty, but the meat was dry. I've heard it's an expensive place so I'd rather spend less $ at an authentic Mexican restaurant for better meat. Rotisserie chicken taco + the Smoke Daddy pulled pork taco

Rotisserie chicken taco + Smoke Daddy pulled pork taco from Crosby’s Kitchen – pretty tasty! The toppings were creative and delicious, but the meat itself was dry. I’ve heard it’s an expensive place so I’d rather spend less money at an authentic Mexican restaurant for better meat. 

I left pretty stuffed, but in true Lauren fashion I was hungry three hours later. It just doesn’t end! I act like that’s a big burden in my life lawlz – like being a bottomless pit is some kind of cross I have to bear. I guess someone’s got to do it 😉 Oh, I also noticed after taking this picture that I’m making a fist. I’d like to think I’m just pumped about all the great tacos about to enter my belly.

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To end my weekend wrap-up I’m going to start posting my workouts on Monday from the past week in order to give myself some accountability. Granted, I know that life throws a wrench in your plans every once in awhile, but working out at least five out of seven days is a value I hold and it needs to once again be the rule, not the exception. I’m happy to report I kicked butt this past week!

  • Monday:4 mile run
  • Tuesday: 60 minute Flywheel Class
  • Wednesday: 4 mile run
  • Thursday: C2 Yoga at Corepower
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 4 mile run (last mile was a combination of sprint/walk)
  • Sunday: Rest

Thumbs up all around!

4861214_origQuestions:

  • What would it take for you to run 20 miles? A lifetime supply of chia seeds? A $1000 Trader Joe’s gift card? A date with Leonardo DiCaprio? Spill it.
  • Best taco you’ve ever had, and where you got it.
  • Has the weather been doing a total 180 from day-to-day where you’re from?