October 2014 Recap

Oh, hello December! I’ve been meaning to get around to the recap posts for awhile (since I know those are the ones you really like to read Grandma 😉 ), but I was really motivated to post some book reviews and recipes the past few weeks so I went with that instead. But never fear, the recaps are back!



I read 5 books in October, and they were all pretty good reads. I loved The Shadow of the Wind, and I also thought In Cold Blood and The Sun Also Rises were great as well. As of October 31, I have logged 48 books for the year!

Books read:

1. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

2. The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot

3. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

4. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

5. Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway


Recipes Posted:

1. Chili’s Chicken Enchilada Soup


I did pretty good in the fitness department in October. Obviously 64 isn’t as many miles as I might have liked, but it’s the best I’d done in several months!



Although we didn’t win the World Series (we came SO close), I still had a really great time watching the Royals! My parents happened to be visiting in early October, so I even got to take in a few games with them. I also gave myself a baseball inspired manicure!


This is not a great picture, but as you can see the lettering came out really nice. I also attempted to free-hand a baseball, but it didn’t turn out as well. It wasn’t my biggest nail-art fail, but it’s not really blog worthy. I’ll have to make another attempt during the next baseball season!


Fun things I did in October:

1) Attended a Northwestern Football game



Honestly, it was one of the more miserable football experiences I’ve had–it was cold, rainy, and windy. Yuck. It was all worth it in the end though because the cats pulled out a surprise win against Wisconsin!!!!


2) Celebrated Elizabeth’s birthday


Love this picture!

3) Attended Beth’s Wedding

K and I also traveled to Philadelphia in October to attend the wedding of our friends Beth and Andy. Neither of us had ever been to Philadelphia before (and honestly we spent almost no time in the city itself) but we thought the city was really pretty (from the train window) and that the public transportation was great.

The day of the wedding was a little chilly and rainy, but that didn’t stop these two from making the most of their big day. They had a beautiful ceremony and were greeted by a fountain of bubbles on the way out of the church.


Of course many of the bubble-blowers were scientists, and we were all really fascinated with how the bubbles clustered and didn’t pop on this bush…

10257720_10100559352569771_3416277451945756644_oThe reception was so nice and very well planned. We really enjoyed all the delicious food! 🙂


Thanks for inviting us to your wedding Andy and Beth. We wish you many happy years together!



Hope you have a great weekend!


Thursday Thoughts (on a Friday) 39.0: September Recap

Well hello there! I’ve been working on this post for two weeks and it’s finally finished! Life is busy folks, but life is good. 🙂

Also, I’d like to take a moment here just to say: THE ROYALS ARE GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOO!!!!!!! It’s been a long, long time coming and obviously I’m REALLY excited about it. Now, back to regularly scheduled programming…



After flying through 7 books in August, I read a much more modest 3 in September. Luckily, they were all good ones!

Books read:

1. A Little Bit Wicked by Kristen Chenoweth and Joni Rodgers

2. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

3. The Smart Way to Your Ph.D. by Dora Farkas


September…not my best month in the physical fitness department. Between group meetings, fellowship reports, traveling, and the gym being closed for part of the month it was difficult to find the time to fit a good workout in. Regardless, I did better than August. Boom.


As I mentioned last month, I have revised my 2014 fitness goal from completing 1000 miles of cardio to beating the total from last year (872 miles). As of the end of September, I have completed 553 miles. Only 320 to go….


I went to a lovely wedding in September (more on that below) and of course that gave me the perfect excuse to give myself a manicure! I splurged and bought myself this nice mint polish to match my dress.



Fun things I did in September:

1) Enjoyed a nice dinner at the Smylie Brothers Brewing Co. with K


2) Attended my cousin’s wedding in beautiful Steamboat Springs, CO

In late September, K and I traveled to the beautiful state of Colorado for my cousin Morgan’s wedding. We flew into Denver and were picked up by my parents at the airport (thanks guys!). Then, we began the beautiful and windy 2-3 hour-ish drive through the mountains. It was SO BEAUTIFUL and we made it in time to see the aspen trees begin to change color:


One thing that surprised me about the drive was how much the altitude affected me. I’d always kind of cynically assumed people were exaggerating when they complained of headaches, shortness of breath etc. Boy was I wrong–I had quite a headache for the first day. It went away eventually, but never again will I make light of the whole “altitude sickness” thing.


What a view!

After arriving at our hotel and checking in, we met up with my grandma and my aunt for dinner.

The next morning we took a short drive to Fish Creek Falls with my parents and my grandma. The drive up to the park was beautiful, and the entry fee is only $5 per car. There were several hiking trails, including a very nice and very mild 1/4 mile gravel trail up to the waterfall. We were mostly there to see the famous waterfall, which inspired in the original Coors Beer can, but the views along the way were well worth the $5 entry fee.




The falls!

That evening, after enjoying some family time at the rehearsal dinner, some of the family took advantage of one of our hotel’s fire pits. We had snacks and some drinks–it was a very nice time!


The wedding ceremony was held the next afternoon. The weather was beautiful for nearly the entire day, but an hour before the ceremony was to begin storm clouds moved in. Normally this wouldn’t be cause for alarm, but since the wedding was to be held outdoors on a golf course (with really beautiful views of the mountains) we were all hoping the weather would hold out. Regardless of these fears, the ceremony began. My grandma arrived in style on a golf cart (not pictured here) and was escorted down the aisle by my cousin Josh.


 One of my favorite things about the ceremony was the couple’s use of their dog as a “ring dog.” So cute! I loved it!!!!


Finally it was time for the beautiful bride to walk down the aisle. She smiled the whole time and looked so happy!


The ceremony was lovely and the rain held off until just after the ceremony concluded. I’m so happy they got to have the ceremony they wanted without any nasty weather interfering.


The happy couple!


After the ceremony, we headed to the reception for some great food and good times with family.


Thanks for sharing your special day with us Morgan and Jeff. It was great!


Hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday Thoughts (on a Friday) 38.0: July-August Recap

As promised way back in July, life continues to only get more busy. However, I do still enjoy this hobby, so I’ll continue to post things as I get little pockets of time.



I have officially surpassed my reading goal for the year! After falling short of last year’s goal of reading 52 books I only pledged to read 35 books in 2014. Apparently this wasn’t ambitious enough because I’ve already read 42 books this year! I’m honestly very surprised I’ve been able to read that many books considering how busy I’ve been. But then again, what better way to unwind after a long day then to kick back with a good book?

Books read:


1. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

2. The Giver by Lois Lowry

3. Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss


1. Intuition by Allegra Goodman

2. True Believers by Kurt Andersen

3. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

4. A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin

5. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

6. A PhD Is Not Enough! by Peter J. Feibelman

7. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson


I’ve come to accept that I’m not going to make 1000 miles this year.


It’s o.k. because really any physical fitness that I’m able to squeeze in is better than none at all! My goal now is to try to beat last years total–872 miles. Currently I’m at 535 miles for 2014…so I’ve got my work cut out for me! I’ve also started incorporating toning/resistance training back into my workout routine–also a positive step!


It’s been awhile since I’ve had any interesting nail art to share with y’all. That’s not to say I haven’t been painting my nails, I just haven’t had as much time to experiment lately. But have no fear, I have a great manicure to share with you today…from July:


‘Scuse the imperfections. I took this right after I finished…

Every fourth of July I tell myself I’m going to do an awesome flag manicure, and this year I actually did it! It was a lot of work, but it was worth it.


Fun things I did in July:

*Note: I did many fun things in July. Apparently I was having so much fun that I forgot to take very many pictures. Blogger fail.

1) Enjoyed a nice dinner at the Davis Street Fish Market with K


Fun things I did in August:

1) Attended my 10 year high school reunion

Insert obligatory “I can’t believe it’s been that long” comment here. But really, it’s still hard to believe it’s been 10 years. It feels like I just graduated from high school yesterday, and yet also like it was five lifetimes ago. Anyway, I went home for the reunion and had a pretty good time. First we had a tour of the high school which has changed pretty drastically since I left it 10 years ago. They have a new gym and weight room, new band, choir, orchestra, and drama rooms, a coffee shop (?!), and a bank (?!). The auditorium even has a balcony now!


We also attended the get-together in the evening:


The ladies


Ladies + Gents


I swear I haven’t gotten any taller guys

Overall, I’m glad I went back and got to see the school and some good friends!

2) Grabbed drinks with friends at Rogers Park Social


Hello bright lights!

3) Had a nice visit from K while I was in Washington D. C. on a research trip




That’s all for now! Until next month then…Just Kidding! I hope…

Hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday Thoughts (on a Friday) 34.0: March Recap

Oh my–can it truly be April already??? March absolutely flew by! Admittedly the days seemed pretty long (I’m busier than ever at work) but the weeks seemed to be over before they even really started. Oh well. As usual, I wanted to take a few minutes to recap the the previous month. Although it was very busy, it was also full of some really good moments and a very relaxing (and much needed) trip home.



I read 5 books in March. I’m very happy with my reading progress so far this year–I’ve read 14 books already!

Books read:

1. Little Bee by Chris Cleave

2. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity by Katherine Boo

3. Stella Bain by Anita Shreve

4. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

5. Middlemarch by George Eliot

Books Reviewed:

1. Enemies: A History of the FBI by Tim Weiner

2. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe


After a very slow start, I’ve started to make progress toward my fitness goals for 2014. I’m still far behind where I’d like to be, but 74 miles is a big improvement over 43. To meet my 1000 mile goal for 2014, I need to hit about 105 miles a month from here on out. Admittedly, that’s a little bit daunting but it’s way too early to throw in the towel. Obviously I CAN put in over 100 miles in a month since I did it in April 2013. If I did it once that means I can do it 8 more times, right? RIGHT!?!? Even if I never meet this pie-in-the-sky goal of 100o miles, it’s still kind of fun trying to get there.



March Nail Art:


Base/Top Coat: Sally Hansen Clear’d for Takeoff

Nail Polish: Revlon Cherries in the Snow

Glitter Polish: Revlon Sparkling


Recipes Posted:

Easy Brown Bread


Fun things I did in March:

1) Hung out with other Ski Trip Orphans (we don’t do snow things):


2) Finally settled a bet over the outcome of the 2013 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (go Cats!):


First Snap I’ve ever saved…Worth it!

3) Celebrated St. Patrick’s Day


The best selfie I’ve ever taken

I had to have one green beer:


4) Took a very much needed, but very short, trip home

I had dinner with my good friend Erin. We’ve been friends for 20-some years now!


We took a day trip to Abilene to visit the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. Of course before visiting the museum we had to stop at the Brookville Hotel for some delicious fried chicken:


Trust me it’s as good as it looks:


After lunch, we headed over to the Museum. The first stop on the tour was visiting President Eisenhower’s boyhood home:


Then, we headed to the library to watch a movie on the President’s life. Finally, we made it to the museum with only an hour left before closing. I got lost in the temporary exhibit (I’m one of those people who likes to read everything at a museum) and never even made it to the actual Eisenhower portion of the museum. Whoops–guess I’ll have to catch it next time!

5) Enjoyed a delicious dinner and good wine at Bin 36


Wine flights–what a great idea!

The lighting in the restaurant wasn’t ideal for pictures. The waiter took several pictures of us but none of them came out well. Regardless, I’m going to post this one anyway for posterity’s sake:


Don’t worry–even though we have demon eyes we still enjoyed ourselves!


Hope you had a good week and have a great weekend!

Thursday Thoughts (on a Friday) 33.0: February Recap

Why hello there! Yes, I am indeed still alive, but the last few weeks have been a disaster (work-wise). Things are sort of returning to a normal-crazy instead of the crazy-crazy I’ve been dealing with so I should be posting more regularly again. But only time will tell if this actually happens. Anyway…I know we are already well into March, but I still want to re-cap my February (and besides it’s my blog and I can do whatever I want 😛 ).



First of all, this:


In addition to all the work-crazy, I slipped on some ice and messed up my wrist and hand. Luckily, nothing was broken and it is “merely” a bone-bruise. I have merely in quotes there because it hurt WAY worse than any other bruise I’ve ever had. Needless to say it really halted progress toward any personal or professional goals for a few weeks which was super frustrating. I’m out of the brace now and on the mend, and overall am VERY grateful that nothing was broken (this time).


I read three books in February…not my best month but certainly not the worst. I started reading Middlemarch in the middle of the month (which I’m loving by the way), so that has slowed my reading progress considerably.

Books read:

1.  Maya’s Notebook by Isabel Allende

2.  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

3.  The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein

Books Reviewed:

1. Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman


As I hinted at above, the wrist injury significantly slowed progress toward my fitness goals, especially since it happened on February 3 (I think I had like a whole 3 miles for the month before that happened). However, as I started to heal I really made a real effort to get to the gym. So, although 43 miles is far from ideal I am still satisfied with this number. Here’s to hoping I hit much higher numbers in March!



February Nail Art:


Base/Top Coat: Sally Hansen Flawless

Nail Polish: Revlon Cherries in the Snow

Glitter Polish: Revlon Sparkling


Recipes Posted:

Beef Stew in the Slow Cooker

Cajun Chicken and Rice


Fun things I did in February:

1) Good times with friends at a karaoke bar


2) Awesome dinner at Devon Seafood and then concert at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra


Mmmm scallops!


3) Celebrated a lovely friend’s birthday (with a really bad picture of me)



Hope you had a good week and have a great weekend!

Thursday Thoughts 32.0: January Recap

Happy Thursday everyone! Can you believe we are already at the end of another month? Neither can I! I liked doing these monthly recap posts last year, and I think I will keep doing them this year. So, here is my January in review:



January was a good month in reading for me–I read six books!

Books read:

1.  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

2.  Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

3.  The Call of the Wild by Jack London

4. The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte

5. White Fang by Jack London

6. The Pact by Jodi Picoult

Books Reviewed:

1. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling

2. The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind

3. Frozen in Time by Mitchell Zuckoff


At the end of last year when it became clear I was not going to make the 1000 mile cardio goal I had set for myself, I decided to try again in 2014. So how am I doing so far?


….Not that great apparently. In my defense it was really (really) cold in January, and because of that I worked from home a lot (and thus had less access to the gym). I also caught a cold in the middle of the month…excuses, excuses I know. On the bright side, 41 miles is not the lowest number I’ve recorded in a month or even the second lowest (o.k. by one mile…but WHO’S COUNTING!?!?!) so that’s something! January is a little early to throw in the towel, but I will have to step it up the next few months.

In other fitness related news, I also set myself a goal of completing three strength/resistance training sessions a week this year. I decided to implement this change to my fitness regime because I kept reading all these articles about how muscle burns more calories than fat and speeds up your metabolism, plus I know I’m pretty weak. I’m happy to report that so far this goal is going really well. Although I have yet to actually fit in three strength sessions in a week, I haven’t yet missed a week. I’m also stepping out of my comfort zone and participating in group exercise classes at my gym (just core fitness and the like…I’m still scared of body pump). Thus far, I’m enjoying this addition to my workouts!


January Nail Art:


Base/Top Coat: Sally Hansen Flawless

Nail polish: Sally Hansen Midnight in NY, Essie Good as Gold, Essie Silver Bullions


Base/Top Coat: Sally Hansen Flawless

Nail polish: CoverGirl Outlast Vio-Last

Accent Nail: Sally Hansen Hi Ho Silver


Recipes Posted:

Healthier Chicken Piccata

Cinnamon Apple Muffins

Peanut Butter Cookies


Fun things I did in January:

1) Finally met my sister’s BFF Tanya


2) Played a game Battlestar Galactica (in which the humans lost very badly)


3) Endured The Polar Vortex/General Cold (o.k. this one wasn’t fun, but was noteworthy)


Photo Credit: Dana

4) Fun night with friends at Schubas


I didn’t even know they served Schlitz on tap, let alone in these fancy flutes…


Hope you had a good week and have a great weekend!

Thursday Thoughts 31.0

Happy 2014 everyone! I’m so excited to be getting in a Thursday Thoughts post on a Thursday without it being a monthly recap post. Now if only I can actually stick to this schedule every week in 2014…Ha! It probably won’t happen but a girl can always dream right? 😉



Can I take a minute of your time and talk about how awful the weather has been? I’m sure you are sick of hearing about it, but I wanted to share some images my friend Dana took (since she is way braver than me) of Chicago-land (i.e. “Chiberia”) during the so-called “polar vortex.”  They do an excellent job of showcasing the extremely harsh, but strangely beautiful conditions we have been dealing with:


Photo Credit: Dana


Photo Credit: Dana

The past week has been without a doubt the coldest weather I have experienced in my life, and I wouldn’t mind at all if I never did again. The good news is we might hit near 40 F this weekend–it’ll practically feel like summer weather!


After having a wonderful and relaxing break over the holidays, I’ve been trying to get back in the swing of things at work. I have set some ambitious goals for myself this year, namely getting a manuscript completed soon, and I’m trying to stick to my daily “to-do” list to get things done. Hopefully I can keep at it, and 2014 will be a productive year for me.


New Years Nail Art:


Base/Top Coat: Sally Hansen Flawless

Nail polish: Sally Hansen Midnight in NY, Essie Good as Gold, Essie Silver Bullions


Last weekend, before the terrible cold moved in, I finally got to meet my sister’s BFF Tanya


I had heard so much about her, and it was awesome to finally meet her. We had a great time talking and ate delicious guacamole and tacos at Mercadito.


On Sunday we played our first game of Battlestar Galactica. It was a very (very) unlucky game for the humans (of which I was one).


So many cylon ships attacking us!!!!

Needless to say, we (the humans) didn’t win but I still had a great time.


Hope the new year is treating you right!

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