Tag Archives: Chicago

on girlfriends…

Sitting 30 days out from our wedding day (no hives yet), I was browsing through the photos one of my girlfriends sent to me yesterday from the festivities and I realized something. People should really get married more often.

I mean when else do you get a chance to spend time with all of your girlfriends from your whole life all at in the same place and all at once? From braces to bachelor degrees, from late night food to Sunday brunch, the chance to merge groups of girlfriends together for one mega girl’s night is pretty awesome.

bachelorette party, chicago, girlfriends, wedding, spring, friends, travel, family

A chance made even better if they all get along. Think about it. Chances are you align yourself with similar types of personalities throughout the years. And let’s say, for example, the middle school and college versions of two life of the party personalities meet for the first time in Vegas and realize how much they have in common, you just facilitated perhaps the greatest (or most dangerous) girlfriend setup in history.

bachelorette party, chicago, girlfriends, wedding, spring, friends, travel, family

As my nephew would say, it’s pretty epic really. A chance to spend time with that all the females you love all at once and question why you don’t do this more often. We should really do this more often.

bachelorette party, chicago, girlfriends, wedding, spring, friends, travel, familybachelorette party, chicago, girlfriends, wedding, spring, friends, travel, familybachelorette party, chicago, girlfriends, wedding, spring, friends, travel, familybachelorette party, chicago, girlfriends, wedding, spring, friends, travel, familybachelorette party, chicago, girlfriends, wedding, spring, friends, travel, family

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.

IMG_0026.JPG

IMG_0030.JPG

IMG_0048.JPG

IMG_0028.JPG

IMG_0057.JPG

IMG_0051.JPG

IMG_0052.JPGIMG_0061.JPG

 

IMG_0050.JPG

IMG_0065.JPG

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?

chicago skyline, north avenue, summer, Chicago, city, reflection

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

1929110_619148813670_7440_n

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.

cafe creme, bucktown, wicker park, breakfast, brunch, maccarons, Chicago, dining

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.

surprise 30th birthday party, kids, toddlers, babies, Chicago

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.

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

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. 

family, surprise party, birthday, chicago, summer

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.

friends, surprise party, birthday, chicago, summer

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.

Currently I’m…

In the middle of a full-on middle school crush with The Mindy Project. It’s been about 4 years since I had sophisticated TV equipment so I’m on technology overload as of late. How did I go so long without this show in my life and why can’t all OB/GYNs be that funny?

Finding it hard to concentrate on much else besides my trip to Chicago this weekend. Don’t get me wrong Florida is sunshine and blazing hot temps and all but I can’t wait to get back to the city and catch up with my friends and celebrate their offspring. After this past winter, I feel like I’m entitled to enjoying above freezing temps with the people I suffered alongside.

wind chill chicago, polar vortex, nbc chicago

 

Wondering how my dog is more proficient in yoga poses than I am. Here I am practicing three times a week in a studio and all I have to do is pull out the vacuum for him to do a perfect downward dog. I’m going to see if my teacher will let us try out the “twisted swissy” next class.

finn, yoga, dog, swiss mountain dog, puppy,

Really starting to feel my age. According to this Health survey, my true age is only 25.6, but if you ask my joints, I’m feeling a wee bit older than that. It seems fitting though, to start a glucosamine supplement just a week before your 30th birthday, doesn’t it?

glucosamine supplement, exercise, joints

Really wishing I wouldn’t have thrown away the rest of Matt’s birthday cake last week.

birthday layer cake, ombre layer cake, white birthday cake, buttercream icing, blue ombre layer cake, birthday, holiday, baking,

Willing to grill just about anything if it means avoiding using my stove these days. Last night we did an entire meal on the grill and I’m not upset about it. Not one bit. We even swapped out a salad for grilled romaine just to keep it simple. Just kidding, we did it because I was too lazy to chop up the other ingredients.

grilled shrimp with chimichurri, parsley, cilantro pesto, marinated shrimp recipe, herb pesto,

 

Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri

  • 1 C parsley, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 C cilantro, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp ground red pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/4-1/2 C olive oil (I kept mine more acidic than oily)
  • 4 TBL fresh lemon juice
  • 2 TBL red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1-2 TBL water (if needed)

Place all ingredients except oil and water into a food processor. Add oil slowly until it reaches pesto consistency. Since we were originally planning on using this as a steak marinade, I made it lighter on the oil. Good news, it’s great on shrimp too.

Peel and devein uncooked shrimp and place on a metal skewer. Heat grill to medium. Baste chimichurri on shrimp towards the end of the cooking process.

grilled shrimp with chimichurri, parsley, cilantro pesto, marinated shrimp recipe, herb pesto, dinner, grilling, summer recipes, two ingredient margarita, shrimp tostadas

We got two uses out of this batch. The first night for shrimp and whitefish tostadas and the second for skirt steak and shrimp the next night.

grilled shrimp with chimichurri, parsley, cilantro pesto, marinated shrimp recipe, herb pesto, dinner, grilling, summer recipes, two ingredient margarita, shrimp tostadas

 

And in celebrating for Matt’s trip to Mexico we washed them down with a two-ingredient margarita I hacked up just before we sat down. Still on that lazy cooking kick if you can’t tell.

grilled shrimp with chimichurri, parsley, cilantro pesto, marinated shrimp recipe, herb pesto,

Two-ingredient Margarita

  • La Croix Lime
  • Tequila
  • Fresh Lime juice
  • Honey or agave
  • Salt

OK so I lied about the two ingredient part but in reality you can just make this with tequila and La Croix. The fresh lime juice and sweetener just helps it taste a little more traditional. The key here is using a good tequila. The stuff so good it doesn’t even taste like tequila, tequila.

I get bored talking to myself all the time. What are you currently into?

Have a great day!

Gooooaaaallll

So I’ve got some bad news.

Jurgen Klinsmann did not select me for this years World Cup team. I know it’s hard to believe considering I’m 1) female and 2) retired as of 10 or so years from traveling teams whose international experience included little more than a random exchange student, but still. Those ESPN 30 for 30 episodes were really motivating. And like several of our UNMNT guys this year, I’m part German! But I’m not bitter. I don’t blame coach K. And unlike Landon Donovan, I’m not going I go all Kanye on you guys.

kanye west imma let you finish world up, brasil, landon donovan, jurgen klinsmann

Instead, I’m slide tackling straight into these World Cup games with my vuvuzela in hand and American flag wrap dress on.

I love World Cup years for many reasons:

  • I like soccer.
  • It’s the only time soccer is treated like a legit sport in America. Everywhere else it’s a religion, yet we’re still over here like hey it’s Saturday morning and my 6-year old is in charge of treats today. Not that there’s anything wrong with youth soccer and post-game treats. In fact, I wish that whole treat thing continued on through college. My personal favorite were fruit roll-ups and those foil-topped mystery juices followed closely by kudos bars andcapri suns.

  • I find it fascinating to see the support that international soccer fans have for their teams. Let’s get serious, they are on a completely different level than us and it’s awesome. Minus those beheadings. Beheadings are not awesome.

  • The World Cup gives us a chance to learn the difference between Balotelli, Batali and Bertolli. Key distinctions we need to make in order to not sound like idiots when talking to someone about the games.
    balotelli, bertolli, mario batali, world cup, soccer, why I love the world cup
  • It’s where, in 1994, my dad went to great lengths to allow his two daughters, ages 10 and 13, to experience the highest level of soccer. I still remember the size of the tickets. The time it took to for us to trek to the top of Soldier Field and nestle ourselves between the packs of Spain and Bolivia fans, increased only slightly by my sister’s crutches as she recovered from a soccer-induced knee injury. I probably wore my Give Blood, Play Soccer shirt and black Umbro shorts. My cousins in similar soccer swag. And while I remember little of the game itself, I can still recall the non-stop chants from the opposing sides as they willed their teams to win.

Dad’s dedication didn’t stop there. He was our soccer driver, advisor, non-emergency medical provider, weather reporter and shoe conditioner. He sacrificed his favorite sport so that we could play ours, something that may have gone unnoticed during our teenage years, but is that much more appreciated now that we are adults.

So it seems fitting that when discussing an event as significant as a World Cup, that I also celebrate the person responsible for giving me that love. Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Stock up on sunblock because I’ve got a lead on 2022 tickets in Qatar!

U.S.A!

 

Very Berry French Toast

We decided to mix up our Sunday routine and go to a later mass today. I know what your thinking. Real crazy life we are living these days. Truth is, since we moved in, we’ve been going to an early mass so we could get to the beach each Sunday. Matt’s family was in town most of the week for vacation so we were able to fill our beach quota for a little while.

When we lived in Chicago, we were incredibly spoiled for brunch. My old place was just a few blocks from a delicious Greek breakfast spot called Meli where we ate nearly every week. We miss it terribly, but have been doing our best to try new spots around town to find a replacement. Since we haven’t found anything close just yet, we thought this week we’d give it a shot ourselves.

french toast with fresh berries, breakfast, brunch, french toast recipe, cooking, recipes, cinnamon raisin french toast

This recipe is silly simple. I cheat and use cinnamon raisin bread because it’s just thick enough and soaks up the liquid without getting too soggy, but your typical challah bread will work too.

Very Berry (Cinnamon Raisin) French Toast

  • 5 slices cinnamon raisin bread (pepperidge farm swirl)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • dash nutmeg

Preheat a cast iron skillet to medium. Whisk buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a shallow dish. While pan heats, soak two slices at a time in dish. Flip and soak the other sides.

french toast with fresh berries, breakfast, brunch, french toast recipe, cooking, recipes, cinnamon raisin french toast

Rinse and prepare fruit and place it in a small bowl. We used strawberries, peaches and blueberries for this batch.

Cook two slices at a time, flipping when browned. Top with fresh berries and honey or syrup.

french toast with fresh berries, breakfast, brunch, french toast recipe, cooking, recipes, cinnamon raisin french toast

Bon Appetit!

Moving Day

Hey there. Me again. Back after a brief hiatus with more photos and fewer words. I promise I’ll be back on a regular schedule once we are all moved in but until then I hope you’ll settle for a photo update of the last few days.

Friday was spent down in Champaign celebrating with family and friends before the 5th running of the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon. Technically this year marks the 6th annual race but this was the 5th year of our family running let’s just go with that.

christie clinic illinois marathon, racing, half marathon, champaign, family,

It was so nice to see my Champaign family and to squeeze the little ones before we leave. We were blessed (and cursed) with nice weather throughout the weekend as well, making for a very hot race the next day.

christie clinic illinois marathon, racing, half marathon, champaign, family,

Jake and Owen came over for the youth run on Saturday well-prepared with their under armor superhero shirts. I missed the run but highlights included Jake getting a side stitch approximately 30 seconds into a 1K distance, Owen blazing to the finish and Jake asking the volunteer why he was getting a medal if he didn’t win.

Saturday evening we celebrated our move with some of our closest Chicago friends. I feel very blessed to have had these girls (and guys) in my life over the last 6 years and will miss them so much. It’s so nice to have a bunch of people to look forward to visiting each time we come back though.

chicago going away party, haymarket pub, friends, Chicago

Approximately 4 hours of sleep later we were onto Sunday where we celebrated the upcoming arrival of the first grandchild on Matt’s side. If you can’t tell by the shower colors, it’s a girl.

girls baby shower, tassel garland, candy bar, sweets table, diaper cake, pink baby shower,

5 or so hours of sleep later it was moving day. Chicago sent us off just about the same way it treated us all winter long with gray skies and wet conditions but we made the most of it. We had a bit of a fiasco with our movers last-minute so we called in some family to help us make the trip. Once the truck was packed, Matt and his brother started the trip down and I headed to Springfield to pick up my dad and Finn.

spring weather, chicago moving day, moving truck

I’m not typically one to consider signs but I am now convinced that Bloomington hates me. You may recall I ran into a big winter storm coming through Bloomington a few months back so I guess it’s only fitting to get hit with a tornado warning on my last trip home.

So dad and I hit the road early this morning with the hope of making it to our new home in a day or so. Matt and his brother are of course already nearly there thanks to a few naps and a lot of caffeine.

Next stop, Florida.

florida_home