Thursday Thoughts (on a Friday) 19.0: Birthday Recap Edition

Hello friends! Last week I turned the big 2-7 and this weekend my family is coming to visit me. All four of us will be staying in my one bedroom apartment…it’s definitely going to be cozy! But before the weekend festivities begin, I should recount what’s been going on in my life the past week. The majority of this post will be a massive photo dump from my birthday…but I’ll try to throw in some other non-birthday things as well.



Work  updates:

1) The manuscript for the “short project” has been submitted to my advisor! It’s a co-first-author paper for me, so I’m pretty excited about it. Hopefully he gets back to us with edits soon!

2) The editor comments from a book chapter I recently wrote also came back last week. Amazingly there were only four comments, and the editor had very positive things to say about the manuscript…so that made me feel pretty good. It’s my first first-author manuscript so I’ll be glad to see it finally published.

3) Work has just generally been very busy, which is a good thing I guess. My work trip to D.C. is coming up and I really hope I can finish everything that I need to in time.


Nail Art:


Base/Top Coat: Sally Hansen Flawless

Nail Polish: Sally Hansen Blue on Black


For my birthday dinner my friends and I went to Thai Sookdee in Evanston. I had a delicious dinner and a great time socializing with friends…such a great time that I forgot to take any pictures. Blogger fail 😦

After dinner we ventured to World of Beer for more socializing. This time I DID remember to take some pictures…lots of pictures…Prepare yourself for a massive photo dump:


Love these ladies!


I managed to get a pic with Pete (who is leaving for the summer) and Dana before they left!


Me and the men of office 1021. I love this pic but it’s blurry…


Maria and I (with someone trying to photo bomb us)


Me and my two best friends from Wine Riot


These guys…believe it or not this is the best of three


Ran into Yujin from my group


Me, Sarah (who is successfully preventing a photobomb), and Kayla


Me, Maria, Kayla, and Sarah

Sarah even brought me a piece of birthday cake to the bar. I felt so special!!!




Thanks again Sarah! I really appreciated it!


Guess who came into town on Wednesday????


That’s right this girl! I had a great time wandering around campus yesterday showing her off. We also braved the cold and the wind to take a quick  walk along the lake:


My parents got in to town this afternoon and it’s sure to be a great weekend!


Well that’s it for now. I hope everyone has a great and safe memorial day weekend!


This Weekend, I… 3.0

What a whirlwind of a week! I spent Tuesday-Saturday morning in Kansas, and returned to Chicago Saturday afternoon. The plan was for me to come home to visit my hometown dentist after getting “sticker shock” from the Chicago dentist I saw earlier in the year (more on that another day). Fortunately my appointment fell during the week of my mother’s birthday, which meant I was able to fix my teeth AND hang out with my mom on her birthday (for the first time in many years). I had a really great trip (even the dentist office wasn’t so bad), and I’m really glad I got to spend time with my mom on her birthday!


This weekend, I got a manicure with my mom for her birthday


I decided that this year I wanted to do something with my mom for her birthday since I was actually in town. So, we went and got manicures together on her birthday. Scheduling the manicure was a bit tricky because we were planning to go to Kansas City that evening, and Mom had already expressed that she didn’t want to get there too late. Since I wanted the manicure to be a surprise the day of her birthday, Dad told mom he would paint the living room while Mom and I had lunch. Luckily, she really wanted the living room painted, so she readily agreed (even though it would mean we would get to KC a bit late). Thanks for taking one for the team Dad!

Mom and I had a great afternoon together, and as you can see the manicures came out great!

This weekend, I helped celebrate my mom’s birthday with a dinner at Buca di Beppo


This is a really awful picture of me but is the only good one of the rest of the group. You’re welcome guys.

 After we checked into the hotel in Kansas City, we headed to Buca di Beppo for dinner. It’s one of my family’s favorite places to eat Italian food, although we don’t get to go there often since the closest location is in Kansas City. My uncle Joe was even able to join us for dinner! The dinner was delicious (I ate wayyyy too much) and it was really nice catching up with Joe!

This weekend, I visited the Power and Light District with my parents for Mom’s birthday


After dinner, my parents and I headed to the Power and Light district to watch some basketball. I haven’t spent anytime in downtown Kansas City for YEARS and I was amazed at how much it has changed!!! We were able to walk (safety) from the hotel to the bar district, and I was so impressed with how the city has revitalized this area! Our first (and only stop) was at Johnny’s Tavern. I can’t say the service was particularly great nor I was I thrilled about having to pay $8 for my boulevard beer (geez I thought I had left the Chicago prices behind me!!!!), but there were plenty of televisions around to catch all the action!

During a lull in one of the games, I reminded my parents that not only was this mom’s birthday but it was also the anniversary of the night they met (the 34th anniversary of that night to be exact). They met on my mom’s 18th birthday at a bar which was hosting ladies’ night (classy Dad), and 34 years later they are still together. Awww aren’t they so cute??? 🙂

This weekend, I enjoyed a relaxing morning in Kansas City


Friday morning we had a nice, relaxing breakfast at the hotel. Afterwards, we hung out in the hotel room for a bit. I read the newspaper, and we enjoyed this really great view of downtown Kansas City!


I hope everyone had a great weekend! Linking up with Sarah!


Happy Birthday Jen!

Hello everyone! Today is my awesome sister’s 25th birthday. Welcome to the quarter-century club J!


Dearest Jenny–

The first 18 months of my life were great. There were bunnies…


And there was cake…

And I wore my sunglasses upside down.

Future fashion queen in the making y’all

Yup–life was pretty sweet. And then you came along…

Ah ignorance is bliss…I clearly have no idea how much my life is about to change…

I can’t remember what those first few years with you were really like. Photographic evidence tells me it went a little something like this:

This basically sums up our relationship

Oh you can just feel the sisterly love there (well the sisterly love on your end). Clearly, I grew to enjoy having you around. I mean who else was I going to teach important life skills to?

I bet that knowledge of how to operate a plastic yellow telephone has come in handy in your adult life

You were my first  buddy. A built-in best friend. Looking back at old pictures it seems we did nearly everything together, such as riding around in our really sweet Power Wheels jeep…

Best Christmas present ever!!!!!!!!!


You know your commitment to the bike decorating contest is serious when even the helmet is all done up


Man we look thrilled


“Everlasting love”–Carl Carlton…J you’d better be blaring this song while reading the rest of this blog post

Dancing (you’re going to hate me for this one, but it’s my favorite)

All she gotta do is just gimme that wink…

Yes, we were nearly inseparable. And as is often the case with sisters who were as close as we were, this included committing crimes against fashion together. Case in point:

I’m not even sure where to start with this one J. Your hair? The Space Jam sweatshirt? Me wearing overalls? So many choices so little time…

Bike shorts

Socks with dress shoes

And last but not least…FANNY PACKS!!!!!!! Oh me, oh my….

The great fashion faux pas of 1998

Yikes. Perhaps that was a trip down memory lane that shouldn’t have been taken…Anyway…we always (er mostly) cleaned up well for Christmas:

Woo! Christmas Sweater!!!!!!!!!!!

Our first (and last) real Christmas tree.

I’m not sure why we thought this was a great pose

This was the Christmas where we were recovering from that terrible stomach flu…thanks alot Mom!!!!

Yes J, we have had so many great times together. You are also one of the smartest, funniest people I know, and you have always had so much personality:


“You can’t MAKE me smile”–J, 1995

“MONSTERS of the gridiron!…”

…”Duck and cover!”

You and everyone reading this is really lucky that I choose to post this one. There are no less than 3 others in this set where i can see straight up your nose.

And last but not least. My absolute favorite.

Wait for it….

Wait for it…

Wait for it…


For those of you who don’t have the pleasure of knowing J personally, this is her classic “I am SO not impressed with you right now” face….

Did he REALLY just say “Walmarts!?!?”

You’re one of my best friends J, and the best sister a girl could ever ask for.

I’m confident we’ll still be this close when we are 80. Like I said last night, we’ll be those old ladies on the cruise ship. You bring the fanny packs, and I’ll bring the bike shorts.

Love you always,


Happy Birthday Daddy!

Uh oh….someone turned another year older today!!!! Happy Birthday Daddy!

I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to you, the man who gave me my love of coffee:

Pikes Peak, 2007.


Christmas Eve 2010


I’m sure this hard-hitting work won the blue ribbon


Pearl Harbor, 2010

the appreciation of a good party

Love that sweater-vest Jen

And of course the ability to be a free-thinker

Be careful what you wish for!

I hope you have a great birthday! I love you always!

Weekend Update: Birthday Celebrations and Delicious Foods

After skipping last week in lieu of Mother’s Day, it’s time for another Weekend Update!



Friday night was my “official” birthday celebration (I had another great one on Wednesday as well!), and I had many wonderful friends come to help me celebrate. We began the evening at my favorite Mexican restaurant in town, That Little Mexican Cafe. The table shared 3 bowls of guacamole (and lets be honest I think we could have handled more) which was made fresh for us at the table. I also enjoyed a Mexican martini (margarita with no ice, served in a martini glass), and two extremely delicious tamales. Afterwards, I was very full but we ventured to Nevins to continue the celebrating.

At Nevins, we enjoyed the $3 Goose Island products and I played a game of darts.

I’m a very serious darts player

I’m pretty sure I hit a bull’s eye…or not..

Overall I had a very great night and I really appreciate all of my awesome friends who helped me celebrate. Thank you guys so much!


Saturday was a very busy day. First, I signed a lease on my cool new apartment. Afterwards, I ventured to a Virag Jewelers to get my watch battery replaced. I have been without a functioning watch for over FOUR weeks. Those that know me well will recognize that this is an EXTREMELY long time for me to be without a functioning watch. I mean,I am that girl who (embarrassingly) wore a watch to her first prom (doh!):

Watch…not a pretty, sparkly bracelet

I think my mom even questioned me on that particular choice. Oh well you live and learn.

Anyway, it took me a while to locate a watch repair business near me, but this establishment came highly recommended on Yelp. I walked in had a new watch battery in about 15 minutes. They charged me $10, and guaranteed the battery for a year. Score!


By Saturday evening I was craving some comfort food, so I decided to make chicken and noodles and mashed potatoes. It was DELICIOUS. I also paired the meal with a glass of Lambrusco (thanks Mom), and the movie Date Night. It was the perfect way to begin my evening.

After the movie was over, my friend Elizabeth and I decided to get milkshakes at Kafein. I had a peanut butter and chocolate milkshake and it was fantastic. Since it was a nice evening, Elizabeth and I sat outside on the patio. Although the patio is kind of small and the space is somewhat awkward (think fenced-in hallway), it was a still a really great way to enjoy our milkshakes.


Sunday morning, I made myself some delicious chocolate chip pancakes. Combined with coffee and a magazine, it was a great way to spend a lazy Sunday  morning.


That’s all for now, have a great week everyone!

Thursday Thoughts 3.0

Hey everyone! It’s Thursday so I’m linking up with Sarah!



This week has been very busy, yet it feels like I have not accomplished anything. I am frankly baffled as to how it got to be Thursday. Oh well, that just means I’m one day closer to the weekend!


Yesterday, I turned 26. It was a really great day. The weather was beautiful, and I had many birthday messages from friends and family. I even had a birthday cake, thanks to my good friend Elizabeth! Believe it or not, the cake was finished in about and hour and a half. After work, I met up with some friends at Nevins and shared a few drinks. We ended the celebrating (relatively) early because we wanted to be wide awake for the much anticipated keynote lecture in the morning (see thought #3). The celebration will continue this weekend with dinner at one of my favorite restaurants!


This morning I had the opportunity to hear Professor John Cahn’s keynote lecture at our department’s Hilliard Symposium. We studied some of his work in our phase transformation course (especially the famous Cahn-Hilliard equation), and it was pretty cool to hear this living legend in materials science speak!


I am happy to report that I was finally able to exercise 3 times in one week! This is the FIRST time since breaking my foot last year (on June 26, 2011…a date which I will not forget anytime soon) that I was able to physically accomplish this. Previously, when I attempted to rest just one day between workouts my foot and ankle would swell. It was such a good feeling to FINALLY get in 3 workouts in one week.


It’s springtime and you know what that means…allergies!!!  Or at least it does for me this year. I had seasonal allergies when I was younger but thought I had outgrown them into adulthood. However, they have returned with a vengeance this year. In looking at the pollen counts, I discovered that the grass count was high which would explain my symptoms. It will shock my mother to hear that I’m actually considering  buying some allergy medicine…or maybe I’ll just wait until the grass count goes down 😉


That’s all for now. Hope everyone is having a great Thursday!

Thursday Thoughts 2.0

Hey everyone! It’s Thursday so I’m linking up with Sarah!



Monday night I went to Wrigley Field to see the Chicago Cubs take on the Atlanta Braves. Since I am not really a fan of either team, I decided to view it as a trip to Wrigley Field and plan to document the experience for you all next week. Shockingly enough (no offense Cubs fans) the Cubs won! After the game, I FINALLY was able to make a stop at El Burrito Mexicano off of the Addison El stop. It was cheap, delicious, and we got to see an awkward argument between two of the restaurant patrons. By the time we finished our burritos the line for the train had also died down. Late night burritos are always a great idea.


Tuesday night I had my first Leinekugel’s Summer Shandy of the year. It was just delicious as I remember, and it made summer seem just that much closer. I’m looking forward to summer!


It’s been a tough couple of weeks research wise, and at times it has seemed as though I’m jinxed. The simplest lab tasks I have done successfully many many times before have suddenly become herculean challenges. Most troubling is that I can’t get a device to work to save my life. Other annoyances are abound,  such as the time when I had a glass slide (which was supporting a sample) break in half as I carefully eased it out of a tube furnace AND THEN discovered some of the sample was covered in a brown muck. These are just some of the many frustrating things that have happened lately. The only bright side to all of this is that it surely can’t get much worse. Or at least I hope it can’t…


I survived the biology homework! Thanks to everyone for your online and offline support!


I’m turning 26 next week. That seems pretty hard to fathom.


That’s all for now. Hope everyone is having a great Thursday!