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 37.0: June Recap

Is it Mid-July already? Sounds like the perfect time to recap the things that happened in my life during the month of June! Or something like that…

It’s getting harder and harder to stick to any sort of regular posting schedule. Lately I have been successful at getting one post a week out, and that’s good enough for right now. Life as a graduate student is very busy, and as I enter the homestretch (or rather the pre-homestretch) I only expect it to get more crazy. But I enjoy blogging so I’ll keep at it, even if it’s at a slower pace then I would like.



I read 6 books in June and am very satisfied with that number! In fact, I’m doing so well this year that I will probably exceed my yearly goal of reading 35 books in a month of so. What I REALLY need to work on is actually reviewing books.

Books read:

1. My Antonia by Willa Cather

2. Divergent by Veronica Roth

3. Insurgent by Veronica Roth

4. The Longest Road by Philip Caputo

5. Allegiant by Veronica Roth

6. World War Z by Max Brooks


Remember in my May recap I said “any miles are better than no miles?” Let’s pretend I said that for the first time this month.


49 miles isn’t too shabby really. Especially when you consider I was a) traveling for the first week of the month, b) hosting my sister for the some of the second week of the month, and c) “down-for-the-count” due to my allergies for the last week of the month. When I look at it that way, I’m actually surprised I got as many in as I did!


Fun things I did in June:

*Note: I did A LOT of fun things in June. However, I did not take take a lot of pictures (other than the Canada trip). Alas.

1) Traveled to beautiful British Columbia, CA:

K and I traveled to Kelowna, BC for both vacation and the opportunity for me to meet his extended family. After a tense trip in (thanks a lot thunderstorms!), we were greeted at the airport by K’s grandparents. They hosted us the whole week we were there and we are so grateful for the wonderful hospitality.

We spent most of the first day relaxing…and with this wonderful view of the Okanagan valley how could we not?!


The next day cousin Cathy arrived, and a group of us decided to tour a few (of the many) wineries in the area. Our first stop was Mission Hill Winery. We stopped here first because all of K’s relatives told us we had to visit this winery for the view and the architecture. It definitely lived up to all the hype!




We also took a guided tour of the winery, which included a trip down to the barrel cellar.



After Mission Hill, we also stopped at Quail’s Gate winery for some tastings (sorry no pictures from this one).

The next day, we took a day trip up to the Mica Dam. The drive up to the dam was so beautiful, and we had good time stopping along the road for pictures and short side trips. The first stop on our journey was a visit to The Last Spike, which is the location where the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway was placed in 1885.



Since the actual spike isn’t marked (and according to Wikipedia isn’t actually there anymore 😦 ) I don’t have a picture of it.

Our next stop was in the beautiful town of Revelstoke for lunch. It is a very cute town, and we had a nice time walking around and checking out all the shops.



After leaving Revelstoke, we did the rest of the drive up to the Mica dam. The journey up to the dam is one of the most beautiful and most isolated trips I’ve ever taken. When I’ve done other “scenic” drives, it seems as though everyone else has the same idea and there is lots of traffic. Not the case with this drive. As you can see in the pictures below you could stand out in the middle of the road and take pictures without fearing you would be mowed over by traffic.


The road up to the dam winds along the Columbia river. As if the mountains weren’t pretty enough on their own, the addition of the river lead to some fabulous views.



Eventually we made it to the Dam. What a view!


On the way home, we stopped in Revelstoke again for dinner. If you are ever in the area and are in the mood for a restaurant that features both German and Indian cuisine (I know, I never thought I’d see those two paired together either) then you should check out the restaurant we ate at: Paramjit’s Kitchen.

The next day, more extended family arrived in town. So, we spent the next few days catching up (or getting to know them in my case):


I spent most of my time losing at card games


The whole gang

On our last night in Canada, we took a trip down to the waterfront in downtown Kelowna. As is evident by now, the whole region is very scenic (mountains! water!), and the city of Kelowna has definitely made the most of this in their downtown waterfront. It features a nice walking path, beautiful flower gardens, and some interesting sculpture art. We arrived just before sunset, and enjoyed a nice, leisurely walk.




Along our walk we came upon a sculpture for Lake Okanagan’s very own sea monster: Ogopogo.


Nessie’s got nothing on you, Ogopogo!

Sadly, we didn’t have any sightings of the actual Ogopogo. But as everyone knows, sea monsters are notoriously fickle.

Overall, we had a great trip. Thanks for being an awesome travel partner K!


2) Had a visit from my favorite (and only) sister:

Right after I got back from Canada, I had a visit from my sister, Jen. We had a nice (but too short) visit. On her last full day in Chicago, we met up with Tanya to take the River North Food Tour. The tour features five tastings at local eateries, and short walking tour.

We began the tour at the historic Merchandise Mart, and then walked to Doughnut Vault for our first tasting.




I can honestly say this is one of the best doughnuts I’ve ever had. I’d definitely recommend checking this place out if you are ever in the Chicago-land area. However, they are cash only and are only open until they sell out. Get there early!

The next two stops on the tour were Lou Malnati’s pizza (a Chicago-area staple), and Rick Bayless’s Xoco. Lou Malnati’s was delicious as always, and I LOVED the tasting we had at Xoco. Admittedly I had never heard of Rick Bayless before moving to Chicago, but I’ve been a fan of his food (or specifically Tortas Frontera…the only one I’ve been to) since my first torta.

After Xoco, we walked to Carson’s for some Ribs:


While I will always probably be partial to Kansas City barbeque, I must say these were pretty darn good! Plus, we got to wear these super snazzy bibs:


Aren’t those bibs attractive? 😉

The final stop on the tour was Fabcakes. I don’t have a picture, but I also loved the cookies we had there. Overall, we had a great time on the food tour and definately did not go home hungry!

Thanks for coming to visit me J! We don’t get to see each other as often as I’d like, so it was awesome to spend a few days with you!


Whew! This was a long post–congratulations if you made it all the way here! Hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday Thoughts 36.0: May Recap

Yes, you read that title right. I’m recapping my May happenings today because it’s my blog and I can do what I want!

Many apologies for the unintended month(ish) break from blogging. It’s been CRAZY and I don’t imagine that things are going to slow down anytime soon. I do think things *should* be slightly less busy from here on out, so I hope I can get back to blogging semi-regularly.



I read 7 books in May. I can’t believe it–I haven’t read this many in a month in quite some time!  It’s especially surprising considering how busy I was! However, in looking at this list I realized I picked shorter books (~300 pages) after tackling Middlemarch, so maybe it isn’t THAT surprising.

Books read:

1. Amped by Daniel H. Wilson

2. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

3. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life From Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

4. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

5. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

6. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield

7. Cut to the Bone by Jefferson Bass


Overall May was not too shabby in the fitness department. I didn’t break 100 miles, but I upped my number from April so I’m going to consider that a win. I may not make 1000 miles this year, but I’m of the mind that any miles are better than no miles!



Recipes posted:

Slow Cooker Mediterranean Beef Stew


Fun things I did in May:

1) Attended Wine Riot! (for the fourth time):


2) Attended a Rugby fundraiser for my awesome friend Linda:


3) Celebrated my birthday at Andersonville Brewing:


Two Sarah’s and me!



Thanks so much to everyone who came out! I had a really great birthday!

 4) Went to Dillo Day (the spring outdoor musical festival) and saw OK Go:


It was a warm day, and after OK Go I was really thirsty. The organizers of the event bragged about the “free water” they were offering, but the “free water” was out by the time we got to the festival. So, we stopped in the Beer Garden (which ironically also had the water we so desperately wanted):



Well now that I’ve recapped May, I’ll probably be back next week to recap June. 🙂 I hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday Thoughts (on a Friday) 35.0: April Recap

O.k. 2014, you need to slow down already!!! Has it really been a month since I last posted???? It’s so hard for me to believe it’s really been that long but I guess it has. April was REALLY crazy with work, beginning to TA a class again, and a short trip to San Fransisco. Overall, it was a good month, but a very, very busy month.



Yesterday was my two year blogoversary!!!! I wanted to do a special post like I did last year, but yesterday was just too crazy (and I was too wiped by the end of the day) so it didn’t get done. Regardless, here are some stats:

Total number of posts: 124 (50 posts in year 2)

Total number of site views: 6,496 (3,259 views in year 2)

Total number of comments: 595 (307 comments in year 2)

All in all I’d say year 2 was pretty great! I wasn’t able to spend as much time blogging in year 2, which is reflected in the reduced number of posts from year 1 (74 posts). However, I am glad I’ve stuck with it, even when it’s hard to get in more than one post a month. I’m going to keep at it for year 3, and hopefully I’ll be able to increase the posting frequency!

I also want to take this time to thank all of you for reading and following my blog for the past two years. I really appreciate all the support and comments, especially lately since I’ve been such a flaky blogger! I’m really very grateful that you take time out of your busy life to read my blog.


I read 3 books in March. I’m pretty happy with this considering how busy April was (and how long Dangerous Women was).

Books read:

1. The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

2. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

3. Dangerous Women edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner R. Dozois

Bookish side note: I would usually post a link to the Goodreads entry for each book, but since the website is down (and I don’t want to wait until it comes back up to publish this) I’m using Amazon links instead. This is a good reminder of why I keep a separate offline spreadsheet of books that I’ve read. If the website/app I was using to keep track of my books goes down or out of business, I’d lose the list forever! 😦 It’s kind of a pain to do both, but ultimately is worth it in the end.


Welllllll I didn’t hit the 105 miles I said I needed to last month, but I did improve in April so I think I’ll consider this a victory. My busy schedule and vacation did not make it easy to get miles in, so I think the fact that I managed 84 is pretty miraculous actually. Hopefully I can continue the trend and get even more miles in May!



Fun things I did in April (or at least the things I have pictures for):

1) Celebrated my good friend Kayla’s birthday:


2) Settled another bet in the continuing “Heather and Sauza bet on trival things” series. For those of you keeping score at home, the tally is currently 1-1:


3) Went on a short vacation to San Fransisco (K had to go to SF for a conference and I just tagged along):

For dinner the first night we went to First Crush. The food, wine, and service were excellent! Added bonus: it was SUPER close to our hotel, which was really nice for these weary travelers:



The next day we walked from our hotel to Pier 33 for the Alcatraz Island tour. We stopped and got sandwiches on the way, which took longer than expected. Then, we had a nice walk to the Pier until we realized we had 10 minutes to catch the ferry and a long way left to walk. We made it (but there was some running involved) and were the last people to board the ferry. Luckily, we had a bit of time on the ferry to catch our breath before the tour started:


Breezy, but very nice views of the skyline!





I honestly didn’t know much about the island or its history before I took the tour, but I quickly found it very interesting. The cost of the ticket also comes with an audio tour which was REALLY well done. It was narrated by both former inmates and prison guards.


Don’t put me in solitary!

I definitely recommend taking the tour if you are in the area and have the time. In addition to being a really interesting historical site, you also get to see great views of the city!

After making our escape from Alcatraz, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner at La Folie. Again we plotted out the journey from the hotel to the restaurant and decided to walk. Google maps told us it was only 1.5 miles away, no big deal right? Wrong. The walking directions in Google maps don’t give any information on the topography of the route (you should really get on that Google), and these two silly Midwesterners blithely set out for an easy late afternoon walk that quickly turned into a full fledged hike. So. Many. Hills. Seriously, if I lived in San Fransisco I would be in much better shape just from those dang hills. ANYWAY, by the time we arrived at the restaurant we were frazzled and a bit winded. Not exactly the first appearance I’d like to make at a restaurant of that caliber, but that’s life I guess. Regardless, we still clean up pretty good:


The meal was fabulous, probably one of the best I’ve ever eaten. I was so busy enjoying the food that I forgot to take pictures. I did remember for the dessert course though:


Baked Alaska!

Overall, great food, great atmosphere, and great service!

The rest of the trip was much more relaxing, which was wonderful. I don’t have any pictures, but trust me it was nice. We checked out Chinatown with one of K’s best friends, had great sushi and Indian food, and met up with a labmate for a burger. It was a great trip, and a much needed break from the daily grind.


Wine Riot is tomorrow, so I know it will be a great weekend! I hope you have a great weekend too!

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!

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