weekend happenings

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

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?

NASM update, metta success, and college-town cavorting

It’s been awhile since we’ve talked, hasn’t it?

I was on a serious roll the past few months, but I have to be honest: the next two months I’m going to be just a bit less consistent. I’m in the home stretch of NASM studying and really need to focus on that. It’s tough to work, blog, and study, not to mention be committed to fitness and having a semblance of a social life while doing those three things. Writing is my outlet, though, so I’ll still be around. But that NASM textbook is my new #1 priority until the second week of January.

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The metta movement on Friday was a HUGE success! Dave DID run the full 100 miles and raised more than his $25,000 goal – last time I checked he was at $28,950! That means even MORE kids are going to have that life-altering surgery. I’m not going to lie–the whole experience moved me. We surprised Dave by holding up photos of the kids he was running for and he broke down in tears every time. Needless to say we all broke down as well. I had a moment later in the weekend where I realized just how crazy it is that $250, something I would spend on clothes, shoes or food in a few weeks, can completely transform a child’s life. It is the difference between living as a leper and living in a world of possibility. I thought about those 100 kids that Dave’s feat is going to help. That’s 100 people who will now be able to thrive in society – they may go to college and discover the cure for cancer or become a global diplomat and solve world hunger. It’s just a mind-blowing thought and extremely, extremely humbling.

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I spent the remainder of my weekend in Ann Arbor on a road trip with my girlfriends from college. Martina (think hipster-architect and probably the actual inventor of Pinterest) is going to the University of Michigan for grad school (Go Blue!) so we drove up to spend the weekend with her. We ate bagels and pizza like it was going out of style, laughed constantly, and danced until the early hours of the morning, losing complete track of time.

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See this is what I hate about not blogging for a few days – I start to remember a million random things I want to share with you all and there’s just no ebb and flow to the post anymore. Maybe I should rename my blog to “I Had A Big Lunch – Now Read My Word Vomit.” But anyway, did I tell you that I tried barre finally? I’ll share my review of the studio another day but it totally kicked my butt in a way that my butt has never been kicked. It wasn’t a “holy crap look how much I’m sweating” -type workout. More of a “holy crap how long can I hold my leg up like this before getting a debilitating charlie horse” and “holy crap there are a lot of mirrors in this room so I should probably actually hold a firm core for the first time in the history of a group fitness class.” Stellar.

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Just another new fitness routine to add to the mix. Can we add another day to the week so I can fit in all the workouts I want to do every week? That would be perfect.

So tell me…

Questions:

  • When was the last time you stayed in a college town? Did you have a blast or feel like an old prune in a sea of young, prime grapes?
  • What’s your opinion on barre workouts?
  • What was something funny, embarrassing or crazy about your weekend? Did you finally go for it and spend $15 on that jar of nut butter or spend six consecutive hours watching cat videos on YouTube?

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).

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?

keep calm and run like simba

Hey all!

I hope you had a kickass weekend.  Mine was….busy to say the least, but I like it that way! I ate great food and even got to run outside, so I can’t complain.  The fact that it was warm enough to get outside and pound the pavement got me way too excited for spring, a pretty premature feeling here in Chicagoland according to the weatherman.

But hey, I’ll take what I can get. The only downside was I couldn’t find a headband for the life of me so I looked like Simba by mile four.

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One of the most important things I did this weekend was sign up for the Shamrock Shuffle downtown this upcoming Sunday! I was going back and forth about actually running this…call it fear, call it laziness, call it tight-wallet syndrome but I just couldn’t commit. Well I finally bit the bullet yesterday and registered. I’ll be running with my friend Jordan, and with a new playlist and visions of our post-race brunch, I’m confident that I’m going to kick butt.  Here’s to hoping it hits 40 degrees!

In terms of food I’ve been trying to incorporate more veggies and pure sources of protein into my diet in preparation of summer, and I’ve definitely been making some progress! Like we talked about last week, it’s hard to crave veggies in cold weather (unless they’re covered in cheese, of course) but I’ve done a decent job. Not to mention I’m still balancing those healthy choices with things like cheesy chicken quesadillas the size of my head and chocolate. It’s a work in progress.

I have a crazy amount of work to do over the next few days so I’ll be back on Wednesday! But until then, here are a few pictures of my weekend happenings. Have a great Monday! Can you believe it’s almost April? Good lord.

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shrimp, jicama, avocado, black beans, queso fresco, corn, peppers, tomatoes and onions

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Protein Box from Starbucks

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Pounded chicken with a panko/red pepper flake/garlic crust, baked at 400 for 45 minutes. Served with “hot pasta” aka pasta, finger hot peppers, parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic and salt. Also the smallest glass of wine you’ll ever see

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Homemade bran muffins

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This was the best thing I saw all weekend. I don’t understand if there’s a cake in there or if m&ms just spill out, but either way, sign me up

Questions:

  • What was the best thing you did this weekend?
  • What’s your favorite part of spring that you’re looking forward to?

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ghirardelli, girls night out, and friendsgiving

I stayed at work pretty late Friday night which meant I left for the city Saturday morning.  First things first, when I got off the train I beelined to my favorite deli for a bagel sandwich.  Recycled photo but I always get the same thing:

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Everything bagel with a fried egg and cheddar cheese. If you had told me a year ago I would be absolutely head over heels in love with everything bagels, I would have laughed in your face. But they’re so great–especially the onion/garlic breath you get.

Storms ruined our plans to go ice skating and do some sightseeing, so we ended up having a movie day instead. Zman, Spencer and I all watched Hunger Games–perfect timing since the sequel is coming out this weekend!

Afterwards we braved the cold and headed to one of my favorite spots in Chicago.

ImageI went in wanting a simple hot chocolate and this is what happened

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Why is it that the holiday season brings out the sugar monster in all of us?!  Zman and I split a classic hot chocolate as well as their Ocean Beach Sundae, aka a hot fudge sundae with salted caramel sauce.

That night I had a GNO (girls night out), complete with Ke$ha radio and black/white ensembles (thank you, winter).

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Sunday morning started with a healthy breakfast thanks to a sugar-overdose the previous day.

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Two pieces of toast with crunchy peanut butter and a grapefruit. This held me over until the best part of the weekend:

Friendsgiving!

I know this isn’t a novel idea and many other groups of friends do this, but I love that the people I’m friends with celebrate Thanksgiving as a group. Growing up Thanksgiving was always only about family, and while family is incredibly important, I love that as we get older we start to think of our friends as family too. Also, when are multiple Thanksgiving dinners ever a problem?

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I left stuffed to the absolute brim with sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, apple cider sangria, mac and cheese, and stuffing. It was the most beautiful set-up too…straight out of Martha Stewart Living. Thanks, Kenna, for hosting!

It’s already happening that the weekends are full of holiday activities, and I love it! I can’t wait for the weekends to come: the tree lighting in my hometown, going to see the Macy’s Christmas display on State Street, and ice skating in Millennium Park.

I hope you all had a fun weekend and that your Mondays are off to a great start!

Question:

  • Do you start doing holiday activities before Thanksgiving?

 

 

Weekend Happenings: Illini edition!

I had a great time this weekend! So much so that the thought of whipping out the computer to blog just seemed irreverent 🙂

So here I am, another Monday is here, and the one thing getting me through it is reminiscing about my fun Saturday.

It all started bright and early with the official opening celebration of my local bootcamp!

I woke up earlier than normal because it was beautiful fall weather and I wanted to bike there.

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Biking in Fall weather is amazing. It was sunny but crisp and I biked the three miles or so through town and to bootcamp.

ImageIt was my first partner workout! I was paired with a middle aged woman and she was just the sweetest! That’s what I love about Crossfit-like workouts…anyone with any skill level can work together and as long as you know your limits and how to modify the workout, it doesn’t matter.  I love working with people and motivating them to kick their own butt! It was a fun class full of running and rowing.  The ring rows were the toughest for me because my upper body strength is definitely lacking.

After I biked home I walked into the house to a great surprise: whole wheat french toast!

ImageI grabbed two slices, drowned them in maple syrup, and served them alongside two eggs.  If I don’t eat some protein with breakfast I’ll be hungry ten minutes later so eggs were definitely necessary.  It was such a nice change-up from my normal breakfasts!

The plan for the day was to get to the Illini game at Soldier Field so I caught a train downtown and met up Zman at Navy Pier for a little pre-game date 🙂

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We ate outside on the patio of Bubba Gump Shrimp. It was the perfect way to enjoy the beautiful weather.

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If you’re even at Navy Pier I highly recommend Bubba Gump. It was fairly inexpensive and pretty delicious, but the highlight of the meal was our waiter.  He asked us trivia about the movie Forrest Gump throughout our meal which made it a really lighthearted and interactive experience. I was so impressed because Zman knew EVERY answer! He’s a real movie buff, apparently. Who knew 🙂

We started out with a popcorn shrimp appetizer (mostly because Zman was ready to eat his arm if he didn’t get food asap). I was so happy because he usually refuses to touch any kind of seafood but today hunger overruled!

ImageZman is also a sucker for fruity drinks so when he saw the waiter walk by with some of the famous Bubba Gump cocktails he knew we had to try one.

ImageI tried some and that thing is dangerous! So sweet that you wouldn’t even realize what you’re drinking 😉

For my entree I ordered a berry and shrimp salad, which came out beautifully.

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After our mini-date, we walked from Navy Pier to Soldier Field (another 3 miles!) and found our seats for the game.

ImageThe best thing about Soldier Field is that there isn’t a bad seat in the house. It’s a relatively small stadium, so even from the 400-level we could see every play.

It was a good game! We definitely have low expectations for our football team haha so the fact that we kept up and made it a good game was great for the fans.  I didn’t even mind the loss because I ran into one of my oldest and dearest friends from high school, Frank! I love it when that happens.

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Once the game was over we walked with masses the Museum of Science and Industry, where most people were drunkenly stumbling onto buses and into cabs.  Luckily, Zman is a fan of walking so we decided another three mile walk would be better than waiting for that mess.

I love Chicago. Have I made that clear yet?

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After getting back to the apartment and watching The League while we recuperated, we had some friends over and decided to go to Wrigleyville for a bit.  Even though we didn’t spend a lot of time at the bars, it’s always good to get out to that area. The people watching, ESPECIALLY after midnight, is hilarious! No pictures from the bars but I obviously did document the most important part of the night:

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No night out is complete without a 2am pizza run!

It was a blast of a day! It felt a little like we were back in college, which I’ll never say no to 😉

Question: what’s your favorite late-night food after you’ve gone out?