Category Archives: Chicago

The year of cotton

Can you still count yourselves as newlyweds if you sit down to dinner the week of your second wedding anniversary and agree that neither of you have anything important on the schedule this week?

Oops.

The truth is year two was just about as full as year one, minus a few international soccer trips.

Let’s take a look back:

After learning of a great job opportunity back in the Midwest, we soaked in as many sunsets as we could during our last summer on the Gulf Coast.

 

Another week in the books

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2 of 2.

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We finally got around to checking a few items off our Sarasota bucket list:

Because #mangroves #sarasotabucketlist

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We celebrated a new set of newlyweds back on our old stomping grounds.

We visited NYC. Separately but it still counts.

We said goodbye to great friends in Florida.

We survived Hurricane Hermine and multiple broken down Penske trucks in our attempt to leave the State of Florida. You can read more about that adventure here.

We moved into another new house and we (ok mostly I) obsessed over our first fall season back in the Midwest:

Dear fall, You're my favorite. Sincerely, Sarah

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We loved being so close to friends and family for the holidays again:

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Ringing in the New Year with some of my favorites! We miss you @ltrapp33 @aknaumo4! #zalewskiwinterolympics

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We attended our first Blues game and tried our best not to let on that we were Blackhawks fans.

St. Louis Blues Hockey, Blues,

We formalized our lunch dates and moved them outside the training room.

We finally got back on the slopes for a fun trip to Vail for some spring skiing.

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And we kicked off summer concert season by reminding everyone that even thirty-somethings can dress down up and have a good time every once in a while.

Eric Church, St. Louis

 

To my sleeveless pearl-snap buttoned husband on our second wedding anniversary,

In the past year, we’ve gone from celebrating in separate countries and working weekends to Saturday date nights and Sunday Costco runs. We’ve traded flat sandy beaches for a hilly Midwest river town. But no matter the circumstances or the terrain, sharing this journey of life with you gets better every day.

That being said, I believe the second anniversary is cotton so I bought us some new sheets.

Sincerely,

Your lucky wife.

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Bad karma and good chocolate

Have you ever had one of those days where you knew the whole day was going to be off before you even left the house?

You know the kind. You’re just leisurely walking the dog (emphasis on the leisurely because your dog suddenly walks like a 90-year old who needs a hip replacement) when your phone jumps out of your pocket and shatters on the wet cement.

This weather has us all like…

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There’s something off in the universe, you think.

And how could you not wonder. Just a few hours prior the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. No seriously. They did. And they deserved it. Life will never be the same.

Do you ever think door frames and counter corners are out to get you?

Me neither.

Pop quiz.

Which of these items are essential for a successful post-work gym session?

A. Hair tie

B. Workout underwear

C. TWO socks

D. All of the above

Any guess what all these situations have in common? They require you to adapt. To shift. To consider wearing your glasses more often and to put out as much good karma as you can by texting your Cubs fan friends and family and telling them how happy you are for them.

Chocolate helps too. So here is a chocolate recipe I planned to post separately, but will now be forever linked to a really random few paragraphs about a string of bad luck and the team that finally broke the curse.

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Spooky Spiderweb Trifle 

  • 1 package instant chocolate pudding
  • 3 C Milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • Oreos (I used Halloween Oreos)
  • Brownies
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Cool Whip

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In a large bowl, mix cold water (or milk) into chocolate pudding mix. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Chop brownies and Oreo cookies.

Fold half of Cool Whip into pudding mix.

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Beginning with brownies, layer brownies, pudding mix, chopped Oreos in a trifle dish. Repeat until you run out of ingredients or reach the top.

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Add remaining Cool Whip to top. Drizzle chocolate syrup in a spiral. Using a toothpick, pull toothpick from center out to edge as if you are slicing a pie or a pizza.

Bonus points if you have a fake spider to add in the center. I didn’t so my spider is hiding under the whip cream and all you can see are her creepy eyes.

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Rome: It’s like Chicago but older

Today we land in Rome and I must admit this city far exceeded my expectations in the three days we explored it. I was excited for Rome because I knew Matt would be really excited for Rome. Why do you ask? In the short six years we’ve known each other, I’ve come to learn that my new husband is a bit of a history buff. Falling slightly behind any shows that involve ultimate survival and fast and loud car restorations, chances are if he’s watching television, he’s tuned to the History Channel.

So I knew Rome would live up to Matt’s expectations and for that I was pleased. And while I did really enjoy Mr. Peterson’s World History class, I must admit I went into Rome a little rusty on my ruin knowledge. Fortunately for Matt, my parents gifted us with a private tour from a family friend who lives in Rome and just so happened to have a Masters in philosophy, a PHD in theology and a rich knowledge of local gelatology. The amount of knowledge our guide, John poured into our carb-and-wine-filled brains was enough to fill a semester-long course, but it set a foundation (no Roman pun intended) that we were able to use for the rest of our trip and for that we are very grateful. If you plan on going to Rome, check out John and his wife Ashley’s web site and be sure to meet up with them. You’ll be glad you did.

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I’ll tell you a little more about the forum when we go back for a closer look on Day 2 but just imagine the above photos some 2000 years ago. And if you still can’t picture it, this may help.

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We were privileged to learn that John also served as a consultant in restorations to the local Catholic churches in the area so we got an in-depth lesson in Art History and more Catholic facts to supplement our recent marriage prep workshops.

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dome is not in fact a dome but painted. Take that Rationalists.

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John also set us up for a dinner reservation that evening, stopping by the restaurant towards the end of our tour and putting in a good word for us with the chef. A tour guide and a concierge!

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We wrapped Day one sharing a good bottle of shiraz, mussels and linguine with black truffle.

Next up, a tour of the Coliseum.

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Visiting Venice: Day 1

Today you’re off to Venice. Get excited!

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Wait. Not yet. First you have to get to Chicago. And then Toronto, dontchaknow.

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Add in a brief stop for Fruhstuck (thanks 4 years of German class) in Frankfurt and you’ve made it.

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But you’ll get there eventually. And you’ll be pleasantly surprised by both the quality (very good) and cost (free!) of the wine Air Canada will serve you on the way.

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Merci. Danke and Grazie.

You’ll attempt to follow your new husband’s directions and try to pretend the sunrise over the atlantic is actually a sunset to prepare yourself for the 7-hour time difference, but considering it’s your first time ever crossing the Atlantic, you’re just thankful to focus on the free movies instead of the potential water landing.

venice, italy, honeymoon in italy, venezia, travel, wedding, canal, bridgeYou take a bus from the airport and arrive to the island mid-morning. It’s just a short walk to the hotel and as soon as you step foot inside to be greeted by the friendly staff, it starts pouring outside. A beautiful and perfectly-timed rain shower.

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You get a caffeine fix from the staff while you wait for your room to be ready. A cappuccino for her and an espresso for him before heading out to explore in an effort to avoid complete jet lag.

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Obviously bright-eyed, you spend the afternoon exploring the narrow streets lined by canals and the cutest little boats you’ve ever seen.

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The rain lasts just long enough for you to still think it’s pretty. It’s the last sign of clouds or precipitation you’ll experience for the next 10 days.

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You make it to dinner and based on a recommendation from the concierge where the menu is in Italian and the waitress doesn’t speak English. A perfect end to a very long day and the beginning of a wonderful honeymoon.

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Weekend recap: Chicago style

Historically I’ve not been the best at weekend recaps. Especially weekends that involve all of my favorite females in one room, baby snuggles and Chicago nights. I suppose it could be because recapping a weekend means it’s over and I have to accept the finality of it all. And just like knowing when to end conversations with strangers after several shots of tequila, I tend to have a hard time letting go.

You know what doesn’t seem to be have a hard time letting go once you turn thirty?

Hangovers.

I hope you’ll forgive me if my sentence structure is off today. Earlier I blasted one of the walls of a cubicle while walking out of my office. And we’re not talking about my usual slight shoulder tap due to a clumsy streak that I’ve never seemed to grow out of, but rather a solid clavicle impact that left the metal frame ringing.

You’ll forgive me if I’m not myself today. My flight home last night was terrifyingly turbulent thanks to an apparently unavoidable line of weather. And the moment in which the pilot decided to bail on the landing about two feet above the runway was just a cherry on top. I feel like a well-shaken margarita, which isn’t very far off considering the amount of them we consumed Saturday night.

But it wasn’t a completely horrible travel day. I got expedited through security at O’hare yesterday and avoided bending over to take my shoes off, a perk I can only assume was given to me when the TSA saw the pitiful look of nausea on my face. And when I sought relief in greasy fast food in Terminal C, I was both pleased and disgusted to find a bonus order of french fries in my mighty kids meal. Pleased at the luck and disgusted because I could no longer stomach the idea of airport french fries about two minutes later.

It was thanks to an experienced pilot and a very calming ARMY sergeant seated next to me that our second landing was much more successful than the first (we actually landed that time) and that I now have a horrifying story to pass along to my future children and secure my newly developed fear of flying for another generation. I suppose I could accept the encouragement my future husband had for me when I text him what happened and he said, “Wow. Good for you. Now you’ve lived a little. Haha.”

And lived we did. Both literally and figuratively. We lived it up for all the new babies born who were finally spending a Saturday night alone with their dads, for a chance to get the gang back together and for a solid rendition of friends in low places at the best little karaoke spot in bucktown.

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Approaching 30

Do you know how hard it is to write a recap of a weekend you aren’t ready to let go of yet?

Hard.

Chicago had everything going for it this weekend. Great food, perfect weather, a music festival that keeps hundreds of thousands in Grant Park so you can enjoy the rest of the city crowd-free and a surprise birthday party with nearly all of my friends and family.

Wait, what?

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I flew back to Chicago this weekend to celebrate one of my best friends and former roommate at her baby shower.

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I was expecting to cuddle a few babies, hoping to catch up with my Chicago friends and planning on eating as much ethnic food as I could to get me through until the next visit. I love your sunshine Florida but nothing compares to Chicago for food.

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We decided on a small get-together Saturday evening to make it easy on the new parents in the group, not much changing from our parties of the past except an inverse ratio of sip cups and flip cups and a universal awareness of the potential of finger pinches and stair falls.

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I was thrilled that all of my friends made the effort to come over with their kids, especially considering bedtimes might be off and meltdowns might occur. And I was pleased yet confused to see each of them show up with a dish to share, while I the out-of-towner had nothing to contribute to the cause. If you know me well you know how much something like this troubles me.

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I was completely content and happy, enjoying a perfect summer night with some of my favorite people when my mom walked onto the deck, followed by my sister, Owen and Jake. Dad would show up a few minutes later in typical Murf fashion as I tried to quell my tears and perspiration from the shock.

I flashed back to my 15th birthday when after finishing a family dinner at home, I was told I had a present in the basement that I should go “check out.” I embarrassingly descended the stairs to be greeted by my closest Freshman guy and girlfriends who were waiting to surprise me, each adorned with a different color plastic lei. I was equal parts mortified and excited. Mortified that they had been waiting in my wood-paneled basement throughout dinner and excited to jam out to some TLC and BSB songs for the rest of the night. 

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The good news about approaching 30 is that selfless acts of kindness no longer embarrass you.

The bad news is they make you sob uncontrollably.

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A good friend is someone who lets you believe you are celebrating her all weekend and then goes and throws a surprise party for you along the way. Or someone who with her own family in town and a 4-week-old baby, coordinates cake and fruit platters to celebrate. The one who sits in traffic longer than the party probably lasted to be there. The one you’ve known since you were 10 who was in attendance for the wood-paneled basement surprise and just hours ago returned from a cross-country flight back from California with a toddler.

Note: the husbands, too. Even though I didn’t get any photos of any of them, they deserve a little credit as well. 

babies, photography, toddlers, summer, surprise party, Chicago

And a great family. A great family will detour their way through the northern part of the state and back, spend the better part of the day at LegoLand and then trek all the way into the city just to be there to celebrate with you and your friends. On Lollapalooza weekend no less.

These people and that city make it hard for a girl to recap a weekend she wishes she was still in the middle of.

Nonetheless, I’m feeling pretty good about this whole 30 thing.