Monday, January 13, 2014

Insta-Sprinkles

Hey there, friends!  Happy New Year!  (And while we're at it, I should probably also wish you a happy Christmas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and every other holiday I've missed over the past few months!)  I thought I'd pop in to catch up and say hi to this little space on the Internet.  I haven't quite felt inspired or motivated to blog over the past few months, which I imagine was related to pure exhaustion following my postdoc and licensing exam.  But now that I've had some time to rest and rejuvinate, I think I'm going to be paying a visit to this little space much more often :)

Here's a peek at what I've been up to lately!

Oct 27 20131*Matt and I had so much fun getting a homemade pasta lesson from our dear friends, Max and Christie!  Max is Italian and Christie's kitchen skills rival Julia Child's, so we felt quite lucky with our little lesson!
*My new favorite smoothie, courtesy of  Deliciously Ella.  (Find the recipe here, and don't blame me when you're addicted!)

Thanksgiving 2013 2*Pattern mixing for a presentation at my old postdoc site.  It was fun to be back as the professional this time!
*I can't get enough of my Tutu Tumbler.  It's cuteness pumps me up every time I see it! 

Oct 27 2013*We headed to San Antonio several weeks ago for a wedding, and we enjoyed some good old fashioned Texas sightseeing while we were there.
*As you've probably noticed, (especially if you follow me on Instagram), I finally took the hair plunge and chopped off twelve inches!  I'm so glad I did; it's been a fun and much needed change.

Oct 1 20131*I'm a sucker for flatbread pizzas, especially when they're shared with a girlfriend over a bottle of wine.
*A weekend visit from my dear friend Jacque + a random Heisman event outside of the Tribune Tower makes for a photo op too fun to pass up. 

Oct 6 2013*My blogging absence meant passing over sharing my favorite fall tradition...apple picking!
*An added bonus this year was having Matt's parents in town from Arizona for the annual tradition. 

Oct 1 2013*This sequin top might be one of my favorite things in my closet.  It practically guarantees a good day.
*Tendron + lime at Embeya.  This cocktail is in my top three favorite cocktails in Chicago.  It's so so good. 

Norma and Jerry s Wedding1*Posing with my dear friend Norma at her rehearsal dinner.  My cheeks hurt at the end of the weekend from smiling so much.  Spending time with our old grad school friends was soul-nourishingly good!
*24 hours later...the newly married couple!  Sidenote: Norma was a stunning bride!

Norma and Jerry s Wedding*Mandatory hotel selfie :)
*Grateful that we were able to soak up some much needed sun in Arizona over Thanksgiving. 

Norma and Jerry s Wedding 2*A weekend trip to Dallas meant that I was able to spend some quality time with my parents and their new sweet dog, Annie.
*Naturally, fried pickles were included in this quality time :) 

Christmas 2013*Prosciutto and arugula pizza + drinks at Bar Toma.
*Michigan Avenue shopping and photo posing is required at least once a holiday season in Chicago. 

Christmas 20132*Dinner at Isla Pilipina with two of my oldest and dearest friends.
*Bright and bold pants are my cure for Chicago's dreary and cold winters.  These purple cords are a favorite.

Christmas 20131*This year, we hosted my family in Chicago for Christmas, and we enjoyed a night at our favorite Greektown spot.
*After six months in our new house, we finally found a good local burger spot.  The pretzel bun sealed the deal for me :) 

So there's a little peek into what's been happening around here lately.  What's new with you?  Leave me a comment, I'd love to hear!  I'm looking forward to coming back to this loved little space.  Have a fabulous week!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Remember Me?

Pinkflower{image via}

Well hello there, blog friends.  Its been three months since I've blogged, which if officially the longest I have been away from my special little place on the internet.  I've gotten messages from several readers asking if I'm alive, and I'm happy to report that yes, I am alive.  And even better, I'm doing well!  Things have been crazy busy these past three months, and free time (aka time to write on Smart and Sassy with Sprinkles) became a thing of the past.  But I'm officially back, hooray!  And to kick things off,  here is a quick run down on what's been happening with me lately.

I studied my ass off for my licensing exam.  Because you know, six years of grad school, a Ph.D, and a postdoc aren't enough to prove I'm competent in what I do.  This exam is notoriously hellish, having nearly everyone in our field in a tizzy.  I started studying in February, lost focus during all the house-buying craziness, then hit the books again hard for two months starting in July.  Every spare minute was devoted to study binders, flashcards, practice tests, and audio guides.  Studying for this text was literally life consuming for these two months.  It was hell.  Thankfully...

I passed my licensing exam!  Hell yes, woo hoo, praise the Lord!  I felt awful after taking the exam, certain I had failed.  I cried the whole drive home from the testing center and then proceeded to flail around at home for thirty minutes, whining about how awful I did and how I couldn't bear to take the test again, etc.  Matt tried to calm me down, reassuring me I had done fine.  Two anxiety filled weeks later, I got the call that I passed.  Relief, tears, pride, gratitude, and joy ensued.  Followed by lots of champagne (and some teasing from Matt about my post-test freak out).  So grateful to have finally hopped that last hurdle!

We've continued to work on the house like mad people.  Over this past month especially, it has truly started to feel like home.  We love our little house.  It's not perfect and there is still so much to do, but it is ours, and that feels oh so good.

My little brother has come and gone after living with us this summer as he completed an intership in Chicago.  Having him here was so fun, and both Matt and I agreed that our house felt oddly empty after he left.  I miss that little guy like crazy, but am so thankful for the memories we got to make this summer.  I also love that even after he has come and gone, we continue to call our second guest room "Ryan's room." :)

I ended my postdoc and started a new job.  The transition has truly been bittersweet.  After years of working in a university setting, I decided to take a risk and try something different.  My new job is going well so far, but it was certainly hard to say goodbye to my coworkers and the incredible students I was privileged to work with.  I think of them often and feel so grateful for such an incredible year.

And because life isn't all serious, I feel the need to include a few frivolous updates as well...

I got a new gold + glittery iPhone case.  It brings me more happiness than is probably normal for a $12 piece of plastic.

We bought an Xbox + Kinect, and sometimes I stay up till midnight playing Dance Central by myself.  Completely normal, right?

I booked two trips to Texas within the next three weeks.  Dallas next weekend and San Antonio two weeks after that.  It's been too long since I've breathed Texas air.

I have discovered Trader Joe's pumpkin Greek yogurt.  My life is forever changed.

I have clearly guzzled the Instagram koolaid.  Come find me there.

One of my coworkers and friends sent me a gorgeous plant the first day of my new job (thanks Marisa!), and I have managed to keep it alive for two months now.  New record in our house.

We joined a gym, and I discovered Zumba.  What took me so long?  I'm smitten.

So there you have it.  The semi-short story of what's new (and not so new) with me.  I'm excited to be back in my little corner of the internet, connecting and sharing more everyday moments with each of you.

Have a fabulous Monday!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Weekend Trip to Ohio

Several weeks ago, my brother and I took a little road trip to Ohio to see our grandparents.  It just so happened that our parents were visiting from Texas at the same time, so it was perfect timing.  And to top it off, our extended family ended up having a big get-together the same weekend, so it was a weekend full of much needed family time!

Jun 19 20131It's not possible to make a five hour roadtrip without stopping at Cracker Barrel.  It's just roadtrip etiquette, right?

IMG 2085Our extended family has a farm just outside of Columbus, and I can remember every visit I made there as a child.  I'm always amazed at how different it feels than where I grew up and where I live now, and yet, it's oddly comforting and peaceful.

Jun 19 20132Pretty blue skies and my hipster grandma rocking Ryan's RayBans :)

Jun 19 20133Outside of laughing and telling fun stories with family, the hit of my cousin's crawfish boil was certainly the "grown up gummy bears."  Yes please!

IMG 2110Love this kid.

Jun 19 20134Nothing says summer like a crisp, white dress and a plate full of desserts!

IMG 2113After a fabulous weekend together, all we have to show for it is an elevator selfie :)  Better than nothing though, right?

Family time is such a treat, and I am continually grateful for the awesome people in my life.  We are looking forward to several visits from family and friends over the next few weeks, and hopefully, we can get better pictures than an elevator selfie :)  Hope you're having a fabulous week!

Monday, July 15, 2013

4th of July and My "Summer is Here" Realization

Wait a minute; is it seriously mid-July already?  Where the heck has summer gone?  I have a sneaking suspicion that because most of May and June were completely taken over by all things "new house," I kind of lost track of time.  But now that the calendar has jolted me back to reality, we are working to infuse as much summer fun into our weeks as possible.  And that was certainly true on the Fourth of July, as I was determined to make the most of the patriotic holiday!  Here are a few snaps from our holiday...

IMG 2268Our day started off bright and early at a nearby hot air balloon festival.  The 4:30 am wake up call was a bit rough, but it was totally worth it to see all the balloons in their early morning glory.

IMG 2229Matt and I have been wanting to go this festival ever since we moved to Chicago three years ago, but something has always come up.  But this year, with the help of the previously mentioned calendar jolt, we made it happen.  And I'm so glad we did!

IMG 2267Even Ryan managed to get up for the occasion!  PS: have I mentioned how much I love my little brother living with us this summer?

IMG 2231Later that afternoon, after serious naps and a some light work around the house, we hosted friends for a cookout.  It was our first time to invite friends to our new home, and it was so incredibly fun.  There was a moment Matt and I were buzzing in and out of the kitchen and laughing with our friends on the patio when I thought, "This is what we've always dreamed of."  Having a home of our own, hosting dear friends, and celebrating life's special moments.  It was pretty surreal and a major moment of gratitude.

IMG 2249After a big meal on the grill and more than a few bottles of Prosecco (thanks Max and Christie!), we headed to the backyard for smores.  One of our favorite discoveries after moving in and getting situated in our house, was that we have a pretty awesome firepit/chiminea set up.  We use it at least a few times a week, and July 4th was a no-brainer.

So there you have it; our official "oh my gosh, summer is here" moment!  Is time flying by for anyone else, and if so, what are you doing to celebrate summer to its fullest?  

PS: I know I've promised "official" house pictures by the end of the month, but for those that are interested, you can definitely see some sneak peaks on Instagram.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Birthday Celebrations for Ryan

Last week we celebrated my little brother's 21st birthday.  It's absolutely crazy to me that my baby brother is all grown up, as it seems like yesterday that I was peering into his hospitable incubator in my pink puff paint, "I'm a big sister" shirt.  He'll probably never be a "real" grown-up in my eyes, but given that it was his 21st, we definitely had to celebrate.  And since he is living in Chicago this summer, it only felt right to spend the day patio hopping, enjoying the beautiful weather, and sipping some yummy grown-up beverages.

Jul 1 20131. Rocking his chambray and looking like a little grownup.  Where did time go?
2. Our first stop of the afternoon was Big Star.  Big Star has been a Chicago favorite for a long time, but I've never had the patience to face the wait.  But on a Monday afternoon, we gave it a go, and I am so glad we did.  Patio perfection!

IMG 22053. Happy birthday, little Ryan!

Jul 9 20134. For dinner, we continued the patio trend at Parson's Chicken and Fish, a new spot in Logan Square by the team behind Chicago's popular Longman & Eagle.
5. I heard about this spot from a coworker, and I'm so grateful.  Their chicken is out of this world delicious, along with their oysters and hush puppies.  And don't even get me started on their Texas Toast!

Jul 1 201316. Like any good Chicago patio, Parson's has an extensive cocktail list.  The shining star?  Definitely their Negroni slushies!
7. Ryan topped off the night with a whiskey + pickle shot, on the house.  Cheers to the birthday boy! 

Having Ryan in Chicago this summer has been so fun, and being able to share his big day with him was such a treat.  And for all my Chicago readers, if you haven't been to Parson's, definitely give it a try.  Between the chicken and slushies, you won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Sweet Toby

DSCN2410

Yesterday, my family said goodbye to our sweet and precious Toby.  He was in the hospital for most of last week, before his little body became too tired and gave out.  Thankfully, he was able to spend his last few days at home, lounging on his favorite pillows and getting plenty of snuggles from my parents.  I feel so grateful for the joy and love that Toby brought into our family and for the way he loved us unconditionally.  Its been incredibly painful to say goodbye, particularly from so far away, but I'm so grateful for my sweet parents who have wrapped him in love and done every thing possible for him in his last days.  Toby was such an important part of our family, and he is already missed beyond belief.

Little toby

Sweet Toby, you were such a delightful and loving companion, and from the moment I first held you in the palm of my hand (you were so tiny!), I knew we would take good care of each other.  Thank you for loving me unconditionally and for being the best couch snuggler a girl could ask for.  I know you're in a better place, chasing critters, barking to no end, and eating all the "people food" you can handle. You are missed, loved, and forever treasured.  Goodbye, little guy.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Insta-Sprinkles

Apr 11 20133*Lunch at one of our favorite lunch spots.
*Green tunic + natural curls = a typical weekend outfit. 

Mar 10 20134*I walk through Union Station each and every morning, and I truly think the Great Hall is one of the most magnificent spaces in Chicago.
*Whole wheat waffles, bananas, and walnuts...my favorite Saturday breakfast. 

Mar 10 20131*Korean barbeque with my one of my dearest friends, Christie.
*Hard to believe that twenty years after our first year at summer camp together, we are still loving girls night sleepovers! 

Apr 11 20134*A Friday office lunch at Butterfly.
*Thrifted denim Gap dress + a thrifted necklace from my mom.

Dec 13 20124*An awesome quote from this incredible book.
*A fun Saturday braid at the salon to avoid having to blow dry my hair.

I hope you're having a fabulous week.  This week is a lighter one for me, and I'm grateful to enjoy a few days off with friends and family!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Find me on Bloglovin

Being the lifelong procrastinator that I am, it makes sense that I waited six hours before Google Readers retires to switch over to Bloglovin.  Nonetheless, you can find me here!

And in case you missed my previous post, I'm also now on Instagram.  Find me @allisonsprinkles.

Two technology updates in one week...sheesh, this might be a record for me :)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

I'm on Instagram!

Screen shot 2013 06 27 at 11 32 55 PM

After years of having a private Instagram account (as in I didn't tell a soul my username and only used the app for the filters), I have finally gotten my Instagram act together!  You can find me @allisonsprinkles.  I would love it if you would pop over and say hello!  Also, if you have any favorite Instagram accounts for me to follow (think: stylish peeps, pretty food, cute animals, insane celebs) please leave them in the comments below :)

Happy weekend yall!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Home Sweet Home

IMG 2001

This post could more accurately be titled home "what were we thinking, this is so stressful, house renovations have taken over our lives, but we are thrilled" sweet home.  But then again, that just doesn't have the same ring to it :)

We closed on our house less than two months ago, moving in just under a month ago.  Since the day we closed, it has been a mad dash to get the house ready.  We have done a ton of renovations, and when I stop to think about it, it's really quite impressive.  Matt has certainly carried the weight of the reno, and though there have been some bumps along the way, I'm pretty impressed with all he has been able to do.

When Matt and I started dreaming about buying a house, we never really wanted a brand new, move in ready house.  We really wanted something that we could put our stamp on and make our own.  And while there have been times during the past two months when I've cursed that philosophy, I think this path will allow Matt and me to create something really special together.  And to give you a peek into just how much we've done in the past two months, here's a list of some of the things we've done...

*Painted every single room in the house.  We went with various shades of grey; it's really light and airy!
*Had the hardwoods professionally refinished.  They are beautiful, and were definitely the hidden gem of this house!
*Completed gutted the kitchen.
*Installed new honey, shaker-style cabinets that we got for a steal at our local ReStore.
*Had the plumbing completely replaced all throughout the house.  Who knew copper could be so beautiful?
*Had quartz countertops installed.  Sometimes I just stand in the kitchen and stare at them.  I love them.
*Replaced the kitchen subfloor and laid porcelain tile.  It looks like cararra marble!
*Replaced the bathroom subfloor and laid porcelain tile.
*Replaced the bathroom vanity.
*Replaced the toilet.  Just what I wanted to spent my money on lol.
*Replaced the front door and painted it a pretty bright blue.
*Took down some awful wall to wall green curtains and put up light and airy floor length curtains.
*Got all new stainless steel appliances.
*Cleaned out the garage and created a cool workspace for Matt.
*Took down an awful 70s wallpaper mural in the hallway.  We're going to replace it with a gallery wall!
*Scrubbed all the tobacco and tar off of the sunporch, as the previous homeowners clearly loved to chain smoke and barbeque on their patio.  Matt claimed that this was the worst project of them all!
*Installed an oversized copper pendant light fixture in the dining room.
*Painted the pantry door with chalkboard paint.  I can't wait to start scribbling!
*Majorly renovated the old (and falling down) DIY sunporch that the previous owners thought was a good idea.  Matt's dad came in town to help with this one, and boy did the two of them do a good job!
*Cleaned up the forest that was the backyard.  Overgrown does not even begin to describe its previous state.
 
As I reread this list, I have to admit, I'm pretty impressed with our work!  Renovating a home, while working full time, studying for my licensure exam, and applying for jobs probably wasn't the best idea, but nonetheless, we've survived.  There is certainly a ton more to do, but it feels so good to go to bed and wake up every morning in our very own house.  It's not perfect, but its ours, and for that, I'm so grateful.