In case anyone was wondering, I did more in Chicago than eat more than I needed to and crash graduations

I did, I swear! Here's the proof: 

Panorama-ing like a pro.

This is one of my favorite pictures ever.  I love the mix of urban and nature.  

Finally saw the Bean! It was just as shiny and tourist-y as I had hoped. 

Bean selfie? Why not?

The sky was so blue!

We took the train from South Loop to Hyde Park and only almost got lost for like three minutes! #Win

We toured the Robie House! I've been wanting to see it for years and it was so exciting! Except there was a lot of renovation going on, so that was kind of a bummer. 

I had originally thought that this was a used bookstore, so I was a little disappointed when I found out that it wasn't. But it was still awesome for being independently owned. 

On Father's Day we walked down by the water to get to brunch just a few hours after my dad and I had just run here.  If I had a view like this at home, you would never get me to stop running!

Well, there's my proof.  I loved our long weekend in Chicago because it was so relaxed.  After finishing off a school-year where I was constantly on edge and busier than I have ever been, this was exactly what I would have I prescribed for myself if I was a doctor.

We didn't have any schedule which meant getting out of bed at 10, wandering out somewhere for food and staying out all day until we wanted to go back to the hotel.  You better believe it was awesome.

Everyone needs a weekend like that once in a while to get away from the craziness and chaos of life and forget the schedule for a while.

Have you recently taken a schedule-less trip? Looking forward to one coming soon?  Where did/are you go(ing)?


Did I Mention . . . ?

I struggled for a while on what to title this post.  There were just too many good options with the likes of:




or, even the lamest one in the book would have applied here, 


However, I chose the elusive and mysterious option that made it seem like I have my emotions totally in control right now: "Did I mention . . . ?"

You're totally wondering what I may or may not have mentioned right now, aren't you? Good, that was the goal.  

I'll just cut to the chase: I'm off to Europe soon! Like as in four days from now soon. I cannot cannot cannot wait! 

I signed up for this trip back in October of 2012, so you better believe that I am beyond ready to jet off across the world.  

My 2.5 week tour has me traveling all over Italy, Greece and a touch of Turkey. Some of the highlights include: Venice, Florence, Pisa, Rome, Pompeii, Delphi, Athens, Mykonos, Crete & Santorini.  Whew! And that's not even everything!

I've been trying to get some posts scheduled so my blog isn't completely abandoned while I'm gone, but with all the other chaos that is going on, that may or may not happen ;) Just know that when I get back I will definitely have stories and pictures that I want to share coming out of my ears. 

If you want a little more info on my trip, you can check out posts that I had written for my old blog here, here & here.

*Sidenote: Guys, do you realize that I just posted two times just today? Looking at the archives, two post weeks are a rarity around here!

**Another sidenote: Yes, I did mention Europe here . . . sneaky, sneaky. 

***Yet another sidenote: This trip will allow me to cross off my third event from my 20 before 20 bucket list! Wooo! 

So, now you know! Have you ever traveled in Italy, Greece or Turkey? Any tips or tricks? Food suggestions? What not to do? Let me know! I need all the insight that I can get!

Well, I better get to packing.  Can't forget the toothbrush. Ciao! 

{20 before 20} Drive-in Movie Recap

I've never mentioned it before, but I have a 20 before 20 bucket list!  You may have noticed it up in my tabs, or you may have not.  Either way, it's not a big star around here.  However, about two weeks ago, I remembered that I had that thing and decided to take a look at it and then I proceeded to get pretty excited.

Excited because that list contains some pretty exciting things that I cannot wait to experience.

As of last Thursday, I now have 10% of that list complete thanks to the great time that I had with a few friends, a couple cars, a big screen and lots and lots of sugar.  That's right, I checked "watch a movie at a drive-in theater" right off that list.

We arrived at the drive-in around 7:30 because we were drive-in rookies and were pretty clueless about the whole thing. This led to 2 hours of waiting for the movie to start.  However, when with friends, two hours is no big deal, am I right?

We chucked a football around, chatted, got even more addicted to 2048 (when I finally beat that game, my life will pretty much be complete), and chowed down on candy like it was our job.

Instead of staying in our cars, we were those people that brought a slew of lawn chairs, blankets and sleeping bags and set up camp right in the front row.  It was great and everyone else was totally jealous.  At least, I'm sure that they were.  I couldn't really tell in the dark . . . 

Finally, finally, the opening credits for How to Train Your Dragon 2 rolled across the screen and it was a beautiful moment.  HTTYD2 was great because Toothless was so cute and he kept reminding me of a cat.  Yes, those were literally my thoughts.

Wrapped in a blanket and snuggled up with friends, the night couldn't of gotten better.  Well, maybe it could have if some stinkin' pizza places were open. That was a bummer.

Anyways, here's to the progress on my bucket list. Cheers!

Have you ever been to a drive-in?  Did you like it?


{LINK-UP} Runners Tell All: Proudest Running Moment

Hey, hey! I'm linking up again today with Amanda and Beka for the monthly Runners Tell All.  This month, we're talking about our proudest/most favorite running moment that we've had.

For me, competing in the state final cross country meet last season was an incredible honor.  On a chilly, and extremely muddy November day, I ran my final meet of the season around & inside the Michigan International Speedway. 

Due to the torturous last close-to-a-mile where the course led us around the muddymuddymuddy inside of MIS, I didn't quite get the PR that I was looking for, although I was just a few seconds off.  However, to be involved in a race of that magnitude was beyond exciting.  My name was even on the scrolling scoreboard in the center of the field and on the back of the state finals shirt that was totally overpriced but I bought anyway.

My finish was less than glamorous as at that point I was probably moving slower I do when I move from the dinner table to the couch after Thanksgiving dinner. Butttt, overall, I had a great race.  Once I found my family at the finish (a lot harder said than done), lots of congratulations, hugs, and pictures ensued.  

I don't think I've ever been more proud to call myself a runner than I was at that time.  

The amount of squint in this picture is unreal.  

A shower couldn't come fast enough.

What's your proudest running moment? Let me know in the comments, or better yet(!) link it up! 


{Book Review} Unbroken

Summary [no spoilers!] - Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, is a true(!) story about Olympic runner and WWII vet Louie Zamperini.  After his bid in the 1936 Olympics, Zamperini was drafted into the Army Air Force and became a bombardier based in Hawaii.  In 1943, Zamperini's plane goes down in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and from that point on his life would never be the same.  (Obviously a detailed summary... #sarcasm.)

Pros - First of all, this is the first Laura Hillenbrand book that I have read and I must say that I am quite the fan of her writing style.  This story contains many, many characters and many, many backstories.  Hillenbrand avoids creating confusion by distinguishing each person distinctly so the readers can keep the story straight.  

Also, just the story line itself.  It's intense, insane and definitely eye-opening.  I learned a ton about the United States military system, WWII and human nature and instinct.  

I was engaged through the entire book (I read it in less than a week!).  I never had to take a break because the book was moving too slowly or I was bored with it.  It was more like I had to find out what was going to happen next.

Cons - At some points, the torture that Louie and the other POWs go through was so brutal that I was literally cringing and had tears in my eyes.  The language isn't always the best either.  However, this is a true story and the things that happened were real things.  Expect it to be raw and real.  Just a warning.  

Meaningful Quote - “Without dignity, identity is erased. In its absence, men are defined not by themselves, but by their captors and the circumstances in which they are forced to live.” 

Final Thoughts  - I finished Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand a few days ago, and I'm still thinking about it.  A lot.  I can't put my finger on exactly what made it stick in my mind.  The way that the story flowed together so perfectly?  Maybe.  The insane torture that the POWs went through? Likely.  The determination, strength, and courage that those men showed? Possibly. A combination of all of those things? That's what I'm thinking.

Unbroken is by far one of my favorite books that I've ever read.  I was hesitant at first to dive in as I'm not a huge war novel fan.  However, this book is more than just a gory war novel.  It has definite meaning and, speaking for myself, has been a huge inspiration.

4.9/5 stars from me!

Have you read Unbroken? What did you think?

If you haven't read it, what are you waiting for? Go read!


Chicago + Food

Chicago + Food = so many things.  An empty wallet, a full waistband, and extremely happy tastebuds just to name a few.  So thanks to nearly three days spent in the Windy City, I have plenty of waist expanding, wallet emptying, tastebud watering Chicago food stories for you.

Friday, 6/13: Lunch @ Cafecito - Getting into the city later in the afternoon meant we had lunch at 3:30.  I found a Cuban restaurant within walking distance from our hotel that had great reviews.  The reviews didn't lie; the food was fantastic! 

At Cafecito I ordered the "Exotica Salad" one of their specials for the day.  The salad had shrimp, avocado, corn, red onions, heart of palm and probably something else that I'm missing.  Topped off with a lemon vinaigrette, the flavor was totally unique and so delicious. 

Friday, 6/13: Dinner @ Giordano's - Since we had eaten lunch so late, we figured that the lines at Giordano's might be a tad shorter if we went a bit later.  We were so wrong.  After waiting about 50 minutes to be seated, we waited another hour for our pizza to come. To say that I devoured my food would be an understatement. 

We had the Chicago Style pizza which had green peppers, onions, and once again, some other stuff that I don't remember.  However, although it was good, I must say that "Chicago's best pizza" wasn't really my favorite.  Lou Malnati's takes top honors from me!

Saturday, 6/14: Brunch @ The Bongo Room - This was a late breakfast as we slept in a little bit so when we arrived at here, we found ourselves waiting nearly 45 minutes again.  Once again though, the reviews nailed it (Thanks, Yelp!). The food was so unique and delicious.  

My mom and I both ordered a dish to split with the other.  Her choice was the vegetarian croissant sandwich.  It was pretty darn great, however, the star of the show here are the potatoes.  Do you see those things? Just average breakfast potatoes, right? Wrong!  I can't even explain them but they were beyond amazing.  If you ever find yourself in Chicago around breakfast time, you know what I'm recommending!  

My choice to split was the Citrus Gingersnap Pancakes. They sounded so unique, I couldn't not order them.  OH. MY. GOSH. You guys, just look at them!  So, so, so, so good! You don't know how hard it was to take a picture before digging in.  Just . . .wow. 

Saturday, 6/14: Dinner @ Medici's - I don't have pictures of anything from this Hyde Park restaurant, but I'll leave my comments.  I ordered a summer salad and split that with my mom's California wrap.  The food was good, not great.  The smoothie that I had ordered with the rest of the drinks came after we had gotten our food by about 15 minutes and after everyone else's shakes by about 25 minutes.  They are really known for their pizza, however.  We didn't try any of that, but it looked pretty good! 

Sunday, 6/15: Brunch @ Yolk - I didn't get any pictures of the food, but I'll recommend the salmon scramble to you! Super delicious - especially if you top it with the capers that come on the side.  

After eating here, I was so full.  We walked it off by strolling down Navy Pier which was right down the street.  

And that's the end of my Chicago food stories! Just looking at all of the pictures (especially those pancakes!) make me want to hop in the car and head back.

Have you ever eaten at any of these places? What did you think? 
What are some of your favorite Chi-town restaurants? 

P.S. Check out my new signature! Yay or nay? 


Six Times That Pinterest Nailed It

Ahhh, Pinterest.  It's the #1 thing that helps me procrastinate but it's just so darn useful at the same time. Thanks to said magical world inside of the internet, I have baked delicious pumpkin bread, discovered the Color Run and found a place to order mounted stuffed animal heads (I'm still trying to figure that one out too . . .).

However, there are just some times that Pinterest absolutely nails it.  For proof, just keep scrolling (and reading of course).

I made this by myself and I'm really proud of it.

1) When Pinterest accurately describes how post-vacation life works for me.  Once I bought new deodorant because I had lost mine only to find out it was at the bottom of the suitcase that I had been in the process of unpacking for a solid month and a half.  Yep. Nailed it.  

2) When Pinterest brings back memories of the nightmarish months that led up to my middle school science fairs.  Nailed it. 

3) Just cross out tacos and insert brownies, shakes, pies, cupcakes and whatever other sugary substance comes to mind. Unless it's watermelon Oreos because those are just nasty.  Nailed it.  

4) When the pandas know what's up.  Nailed it.  

5) When Pinterest understands my vampire problems.  #WhiteGirl. Nailed it.  

6) You know that you want a card like this.  Nailed it.  

Does Pinterest nail it for you? 


P.S. find all of these on my Pinterest boards! 


Graduation Crasher

This weekend I gained a new title.  Get ready for this, it's a good one:  Graduation Crasher.  Allow me to explain.

Yesterday I got home from a great family weekend in Chicago where we did a ton of eating, walking, more eating, more walking and even more eating.  On Saturday, we figured out the Metra train system just in time to catch the next departure to Hyde Park.

For those of you who don't know, Hyde Park is home to the prestigious University of Chicago-my dream college-and I was beyond anxious to check out the gorgeous campus. However, campus was a little occupied. . .

Occupied by hundreds of graduates and their hundreds and hundreds of closest family, friends and whoever else attends graduations, that is.  But if you thought that that would stop me from taking a self guided tour, then you're wrong.

Between the collared shirts and summery dresses, my family and I, in our jeans and tank tops, stuck out like random tourists at a graduation ceremony . . . oh wait, we were.  We didn't let it bother us though, greeting the weird glances with smiles and even making use of the water station set up for the graduation attendees like we belonged.  We tried to avoid being in the way of people who obviously had better reason to be on campus than we did, but I'm sure a few lucky people will find a random family dressed in street clothes hanging out in the background of their pictures.

Even though I didn't get to see campus as I had hoped, I did get a great story out of it.  And further confirmation that Hogwarts the University of Chicago is the place I want to be.

Any party crashing stories?



May 2014 Recap

I always like to look back at my pictures that I took each month and remember all the things I filled my days with.  Since the days seem to fly by so fast, I inevitably end up thinking "that was only a month ago??" somewhere along the line.

The lineup for May includes . . . (drumroll please!)


PiƱata fun in Spanish class.

My first Tigers game of the season where the most exciting part of the 0-1 loss was someone accidentally pulling the fire alarm and freaking everyone out.

Experiencing the deliciousness of macarons for the first time at Mother's Day brunch. 

Taking artsy pictures and loving the results. 

Having the lit nerd in me freak out over all the parallels between Westside Story and Romeo and Juliet.

Getting my senior pictures taken on the gorgeous shores of Lake Michigan by an extremely talented friend. 

Andddd . . . finally saying goodbye to the AP US History notecards that were my constant companion while leading up the exam. Can't say that I miss them though. 

I can't wait for all the adventures that June brings!
What did you do this May?