Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas in Chicago Recap

I had intended to do a day by day recap of my family's visit to Chicago, but after going through all 9 million pictures, I realized that just isn't going to happen.  Because I picked out all of my favorite pictures, and well, they totaled 63.  And since I love you all so much, I decided to spare you the play by play, and instead just post a few of my most favorite pictures from their trip.  And by "a few most favorite" I mean 30.  Ha.

DSCN4112.JPGThey're here, they're here!  So happy to finally have my whole family in Chicago!

DSCN4115.JPGMe, Ry, and Chicago.

DSCN4121.JPGSunday, we stopped by the Christkindlmarket, a big German Market that sets up shop in Daley Plaza.  Several Chicago friends had recommended the market, but with my parents having gone to a real German Christmas market in Germany, I was apprehensive.  But it was delightful!  Lots of the vendors fly over from Germany and bring some incredible treasures with them.  My surprise, the food, particularly these potato pancakes :)

DSCN4124.JPGOh how I love this guy :)
PS: Most days in Chicago, I try hard to look cute, no matter how cold it gets.  But Sunday was painfully cold, and I couldn't bear the thought of freezing all day while we showed my family the city.  So I said to heck with it and piled on my big puffy coat.  Sure I may have resembled a marshmallow, but I was a warm marshmallow :)

DSCN4122.JPGFried apples+whipped cream+powdered sugar=a very happy dad

DSCN4127.JPGMy favorite four people in the world.

DSCN4140.JPGYall know I had to drag them to The Bean.  It's my favorite place in the city!

DSCN4149.JPGChristmas card worthy according to my mom.  A potential for 2011.  Except Matt looks kinda lonely over there on the right :(

DSCN4152.JPGSomeone needs to windex The Bean.  Its throwing off my photo opps.

DSCN4157.JPGMatt found a great spot at the Art Institute that has an incredible view of the city.  We went up to take a peek, and I added it to my top five Chicago spots.  The view was beautiful and oddly undisturbed.

DSCN4183.JPGWe spent most of Monday at the Museum of Science and Industry, and I couldn't get enough of the interactive butterfly exhibit.  You know, the ones where they react to where and how you move.  Don't kid yourself, I was pushing the ten year olds out of the way so I could have another turn.

DSCN4201.JPGDinner at Cafe Ba Ba Reeba, without a doubt one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago.  We bring about half of our guests here, and I have dreams about the bacon wrapped dates and spicy potatoes with tomato aioli.

DSCN4208.JPGDuring the two hours we were at dinner, it snowed quite a bit (especially in the eyes of a Texan.)  My dad was so excited he laid down at the corner for an impromptu sidewalk snow angel.  Awesome.

DSCN4222.JPGCookie decorating at our place.

DSCN4230.JPGMatt and his headless snowman.  Poor guy, didn't stand a chance :)

DSCN4232.JPGMe and my OCD cookie.  I arranged each sprinkle with a toothpick.  Lol, crazy much? :)

IMG_1664.JPGHow did I get so lucky to be his big sister?

DSCN4235.JPGThe Christmas tree at Macy's on State street.  Really really beautiful (though I think the tree at the Museum of Science and Industry outdid it.)

DSCN4243.JPGA kid in a candy store :)  My dad is a total popcorn lover, so Garrett's was heaven for him.

IMG_1670.JPGYou can't come to Chicago and not have deep dish pizza.  Our favorite is Lou Malnati's.

DSCN4239.JPGThere's no better way to warm up than with a red cup from Starbucks.  (Remember in my Christmas Happy Lately list when I mentioned the caramel brulee latte?  Heaven in a cup I tell you.)

DSCN4260.JPGHanging out in our new Christmas Eve pajamas.  (Every year on Christmas Eve, we get to open one present.  It just "happens" to be new pjs each year.)  This year I asked my mom for more loungewear type pjs, and I got a super cute lounge set from Express.  Black with a little bit of leopard, just my style.  Thanks Mom!

DSCN4273.JPGRyan opening his present from Matt and I.  He really wanted new shoes from Nordstrom, so we got him a gift card.  But I can't just give a plain old gift card, so I wrote a poem to accompany it.  A sample from this year's poem: "You get to choose the size, color, and shape...just don't be acting crazy like Professor Severus Snape."  Just call me Jay-Z junior, bahaha.

IMG_1695.JPGMatt's gift to me, a major blog upgrade!  More on that in the months to come.  (Thanks, honey!)

DSCN4285.JPGWhat better way to celebrate a white Christmas than sledding!  Hooray!

IMG_1704.JPGPlease ignore the lady on her iPhone, and note the guy on the green disc with his arms outstretched.  Yep, that's my dad, always a big kid at heart :)

DSCN4286.JPGA guy who loves me, supports me, and makes me laugh.  I couldn't ask for a better Christmas gift.

DSCN4292.JPGWeeeeee, there I go!  (I hadn't intended to pull a spin move, but the one leg out did me in.)

DSCN4290.jpgMy "little" brother and me.  Ha.

DSCN4299.JPGOur last group photo before we turned home to lounge in our sweats and enter a food coma.  (Matt did all the cooking and oh was it yummy)  Having my family in Chicago was such a treat, and I couldn't have imagined a more delightful, wonderful Christmas!  I am SO grateful that my family braved the cold and came to visit.  Going home is always wonderful, but there's something special about having the people you love come to you!

New Years is tomorrow, so I guess this is officially my last post of 2010.  Hard to believe this year is already over; it has seriously flown by!  Have a fabulous New Year's Eve, however you choose to spend it, and please please be safe.  Happy 2011 yall!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Happy Lately List

cookies.jpg{we heart it}

Hello dear friends!  Did you have a happy Christmas?  I sure hope so!  My time with my family was incredible, and I'm still sad its over.  I have about 3,000 pictures to edit from our time together, but until then, I thought I'd post a Happy Lately List, holiday style!  Without further ado, here's whats made me happy lately...

Having my family in Chicago for the holidays.
Playing holiday hostess for the first time.
Laughing with my little brother till my stomach hurts.
Caramel brulee lattes.  Worth all the 9543 calories.
Lazy breakfasts with the family.
Watching Home Alone and knowing every single word, song, and sound effect.
Silent Night accapella.  It never fails to bring tears to my eyes.
Sledding on Christmas day amongst the ten year olds.
Christmas cookie decorating.
My new music collection, courtesy of my little bro who works hard to keep his sister hip and up to date.
Hearing Matt and Ryan laugh together.
Surprise carolers.
Working retail during the holidays.
Thoughtful gifts.
The message at our Christmas Eve service.  God is my Everlasting Father who loves me without fail, without waver, and without question.  Pretty powerful.
Our little Christmas tree.  Small yet mighty.
Snuggling extra close to Matt when the covers don't seem to cut it.
Homemade hot chocolate.
Having a white Christmas for the first time since I was a little girl.

Hope everyone has a happy Monday, hopefully I'll be back later tonight with pictures from the past week!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Family Time

_MG_3180.jpg{photo by Rachel Robinson}

Hey there, happy Saturday!  I just wanted to pop in and let you know that I will be gone from blogging for the next week, because today, after I get off work, I am headed to the airport to pick up my family!  Eeeek!  They are hopping on a plane this afternoon and heading to Chicago to spend Christmas with Matt and me.  I am SO EXCITED I can barely stand it!  I'm looking forward to a week of tour guiding, sightseeing, Christmas traditions, and lots and lots of family time.  There is no better gift this year than being with my family.  Have a fabulous week and a very merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Back with a Quick Recap

Hey there, happy Friday!  I just wanted to post a few pictures from our Utah trip.  Since the second half of the trip was pretty interview focused, most of the pictures are from earlier in the trip.

DSCN4050.JPGSaturday night, we arrived in Salt Lake City and had dinner at Eva, a Mediterranean restaurant downtown.  I heard about Eva from Becky at The Vintage Mixer (a friend of a friend) and I am so grateful she shared this spot.  It was lovely, quaint, and had delicious food!

DSCN4054.JPGChampagne, grand marier, and chambord...yes please!

DSCN4057.JPGWhen it came time for dessert, Matt was prepared to pass.  Thankfully, I have no issues eating dessert alone.  I ordered the bread pudding, and suddenly I wasn't eating my dessert alone anymore :)  I'm usually a chocolate brownie fudge cake sundae overload person when it comes to desserts, but our sweet server suggested the bread pudding, so I trusted her and went with it.  (She had in fact led us down the right path with Eva's famous sauteed brussel sprouts.)  I am so glad I listened to her, because this was one of the BEST desserts I've ever had!  So so so yummy!

DSCN4058.JPGOut of town date nights are always so fun :)

DSCN4060.JPGSunday afternoon before interview stuff took over our brains, we took advantage of the quiet and walked around campus.  The campus was pretty but how can it not be pretty with a full view of snow covered mountains!  PS: Can you tell Matt loves when I make him pose for pictures?  Lol, thankfully we're married and he can't get rid of me :)

DSCN4063.JPGTo me, no campus will ever be more beautiful than OU's, but I'll admit, you can't find views like this in Norman, Oklahoma.

DSCN4066.JPGThe temperature was close to perfect in Utah.  Definitely winter, but not freeze-your-face-off-windy-winter like Chicago.

DSCN4078.JPGOur fun kind of ended Sunday evening, as Monday and Tuesday were consumed with interviews and anxiety.  The search committee for Matt's job wined and dined him all the nights we were there, but sadly, I only got to join him for dinner on Sunday.  But Tuesday, after Matt raved about the restaurant they went to on Monday, I decided to take matters into my own hands.  I grabbed my coat and went to dinner on my own.  Yes, you read that right, I dined alone.  Good gnocchi and creme brulee are that important to me.  Sure I got a few stares (not sure if it was the alone part of the wine part lol) but it was worth it.  The creme brulee was out of this world and a yummy note on which to end our Utah trip.  Wednesday morning, we headed back to Salt Lake to catch an early flight back to Chicago.  And though it was crazy cold when we got back, I was so happy to be home.  Within five minutes of being home, Matt and I were snuggled in our living room with a crackling fire, Top Chef, and Asian takeout.  Oh how I love coming home after a few days away!

In terms of interviews, things went pretty well.  Matt felt good about his two day interview, and left saying "I did as much as I could.  If they don't like me, its not cause I didn't do my best."  Well said honey.  My interview went ok.  I can't really get an accurate read on my interview because I am ridiculously hard on myself when it comes to interviews (and a lot of other things.)  Its not my favorite trait, but its a part of me no less.  I spent all of Monday and Tuesday picking apart every single answer and statement I'd made, before finally realizing God has a great plan, so I need to quit freaking out and let Him do his thing.  Matt should hear back from the search committee sometime in the next few weeks, but I won't hear anything till mid-February due to the internship matching process.  So until then, we wait.  And with waiting, comes a giant lesson in patience :)

No matter what happens, I am grateful for the experience.  Matt and I are growing as individuals and as a couple, which is both exciting and challenging.  And thankfully, we have some incredibly supportive people around us to cheer us on.  And that includes all of you who left sweet words of encouragement and well wishes.  I can't thank you enough for reading this little blog and supporting me in ways you don't even realize!  Have a very happy weekend!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dear Utah


Dear Utah,

I owe you an apology.  I wrongly stereotyped you, and I am sorry.  I really hate it when people assume that because I am blonde and a sorority girl, I have no brain.  Yet, as much as I hate the losers who stereotype me, I did so to you.  Shame shame on me.

You are so beautiful, I had no idea.  I heard "Utah" and thought boring, blah, and major snoozefest.  But clearly I was mistaken.  Because your snowy mountains were gorgeous.  With each turn and each look, I was captivated by those beautiful mountains.  It was like something out of a picture book, I couldn't get enough.

I'm also sorry for assuming I'd be sipping on sprite and cherry coke all weekend.  Wrong again.  I enjoyed several yummy wines and a delicious champagne cocktail.  In Utah.  Who knew?

I also saw some very stylish students walking around campus.  Many of whom I could take a style lesson from.  Minus one fashion point for me.

You also have three of my must have guilty pleasures: Chick-fil-a, Sonic, and Starbucks.  It doesn't take much to make me happy.  Large cherry vanilla coke at happy hour here I come.

And Utah, while I'm not yet sure if we'll actually end up together (talk to the search committee about that one) I thought I should let you know now that you are delightful in so many ways.  And I misjudged.  Shame on me.

Thanks for proving me wrong and  reminding me not to judge a state by its stereotypes (or a girl by her hair color.)

PS: I'll post a full recap of our trip when we're back in Chicago.  Thank you all so much for your prayers, well wishes, and kind words.  Your encouragement means so much to me!

PSS: I took this picture while Matt and I were walking around campus.  Isn't the view beautiful?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Going West

suitcase.png{we heart it}

My suitcaise is packed, my laptop is charged, and I am ready to go!  Matt and I are leaving in the morning and heading to...UTAH!  (Wah wah wah...)  I know you thought I was going to say Hawaii, Italy, or some other fabulous getaway destination, but no no, its just Utah.  Remember last week, when I mentioned that Matt had a big job interview?  Well the time has come and we are headed west, yeehaw!  (Ok, I have no idea why I just typed "yeehaw."  The whole "headed west" reference took me back to the third grade wagon trail unit.  You know the unit where you panned for fake gold and decorated covered wagons.  No, no one?  I'm the only weirdo who did that?)  And if you're curious, yes, this means we could potentially move to Utah, but at this point its just an interview, so its all still very up in the air.)  Matt's interviews are all day Monday and Tuesday and mine is Monday afternoon with a follow up on Tuesday morning, so if you believe in prayers, happy thoughts, or good vibes and have a few to spare, please send them our way early next week.  I'll probably check in a few times on the trip, cause yall know I can't stay away from you.  Let's just hope my covered wagon gets wireless :)

Have a happy weekend!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Happy Lately List

Today's Happy Lately List is from one of my dear friends, Kristin.  She and I met in high school while working at a restaurant and became instant friends.  We roomed together our first year at OU, pledged Kappa together, and stood with one another on our wedding days.  She is one of the most wonderful people I know and has a heart bigger than you could ever imagine.  She doesn't have a blog (yet), so imagine my surprise last week when I saw an email from her with a Happy Lately List.  Reading it made me smile and miss the days of our Emperor's New Groove slumber parties, Classics trips, and catch up phone dates.  I hope you enjoy Kristin's list as much as I do!

sunset.jpg{we heart it}

Kristin's Happy Lately List
An unexpected sweet text
The smell of winter on an evening walk
A dog that comforts
A great haircut
Guitar by the campfire
Matte foundation
A book that inspires
Being tickled
Amaretto anything
A run at sunset
Friends that call at just the right time
Remembering who I am
God’s words of truth spoken so timely
The huge smile on my niece’s sweet face

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Our Christmas Mantel

I just wanted to pop in for a bit this morning/afternoon to show you a quick peek at Matt and I's Christmas mantle.  (I say "Matt and I" because we both pay rent here, not because we both put love and care into creating this Christmas mantle.  Matt laid on the couch while I worked lol.)  This is one of the many times I wish I had a fancy pants camera to capture all the fun details, but alas, all I have is my little point and shoot camera.  I coyly asked Matt when we could upgrade to a nice camera, and he answered "when we have kids."  And because I enjoy sleeping through the night, not having spit up on me, and talking about adult things, I will happily enjoy my point and shoot for several more years :)  On to our Christmas mantel...

DSCN4022.JPGThis year, when I pulled our our Christmas decorations, I made myself one promise.  I was going to make do with what we already had.  No running out to the store, no swearing I needed that "perfect" ribbon.  Whatever we had is whatever I was going to use.  That mentality seemed to push me to try a few options I may not have initially considered, and I'm so happy I stuck to my promise.  Last month I showed you our fall mantel, and you may see a few similarities.  The colors are different and there is certainly more sparkle, but it has a lot of the same "bones" as our fall mantel.  Big mirror and wreath combo, filled glass canisters, candles, and a word frame.  With no garage and little storage, I keep the same basics, but revamp the details.

DSCN4024.JPGI filled three different glass canisters/vases with a mix of silver and red ornaments.  A mix of big and small, glittered and shiny helped keep it from being too matchy matchy.  I picked up the little silver bead wreaths after Christmas with my mom last year for 75% off.  The garland was something I wasn't quite sure how it would work when I started it, but it ended up looking a little bit crazy, a little bit fun, which is always a good combo in my book.  (I mean, isn't that what we all love about Anthropologie?  A mix of crazy and fun that seems to look effortless.)  The small glitter ornaments came from Target's dollar bin, and I strung them up with some ribbon I snagged at the end of the season last year.

DSCN4028.JPGI love having a word mixed in with my decorations.  Matt wanted to use wrapping paper in the frame (ok, I don't give him enough credit, he does care a little bit) which we tried for a few days.  But then I got my way and switched it up for a word.  "Believe" is so fitting for Christmas, and I love the glittered Santa hanging close by.  (I picked up several twin Santas from the dollar bin at Target to use as finishing touches on presents, but when I hung him here on a whim, I loved it!)  The garland came from the bottom of our Christmas tree, which had to be cut down to fit into our tiny apartment.  I asked the guys at the tree place to tie up the scraps and though there weren't a lot left over, it was just the right amount for our little mantel.

DSCN4029.JPGI saw a feather wreath last year in a magazine and have been wanting one ever since.  I found the styrofoam wreath form at a garage sale for 10 cents and the feather boa for 25 cents.  (Big spender I tell you.)  I wrapped it around the form, secured it with a few straight pins, and voila, fun feather wreath.  I added a few silver ornaments from our tree as well as some of the butterfly clips that we use on our tree.  PS: After I wrapped the wreath and tied it to the mirror, Matt made a face.  You know, a scrunched up, what the heck is that face.  "What?" I asked.  His reply?  "That looks like Big Bird's butt."  To which I maturely said, "Your face looks like Big Bird's butt!"  Total maturity around here people :)

DSCN4025.JPGSo there you have it, our Christmas mantel!  I love the way it turned out, and for free no less.  PS: If you've decorated for the holidays and posted about it, leave me a link in the comments so I can come check it out!  Have a great Wednesday yall!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Weekend Recap: Snow and a Big Sooner Win

This weekend, after an oh so lovely fall, winter finally hit here in Chicago! Though most lifelong Chicagoans were grumbling all week about the anticipated season change, I was kind of excited. (This probably speaks to my naivety and the fact that I have no idea just how awful midwest winters can be.)  Regardless, Chicago said goodbye to fall and hello to this...

DSCN3998.JPGSNOW!  And with snow comes hot chocolate, fires, snowmen, scarves, boots, mittens, and more.  Woo hoo for winter!  I know I'll only be singing this tune for a few weeks before I join those grumbly natives, complaining about the snow, sludge, and constant darkness of the city.  But for now, this Texas girl is living it up and loving the season change!

DSCN3995.JPGI had to work Saturday afternoon, but I couldn't leave without a picture or two :)

DSCN3996.jpgCoat: Zara
Scarf: Ann Taylor
Gloves: Nordstrom
Boots: North Face

These boots are my new snow boots.  They kind of remind me of that song "apple bottom jeans, boots with the fur, (with the fur).  Before visiting Chicago last January, I thought snow boots were a little excessive.  I just assumed all boots kept out snow, and if you were smart you just avoided big piles of now.  Lol, after that visit I learned better, and realized that snow boots are a major necessity living here.  So when I started my snow boot hunt, I really wanted to find snow boots that we're big, black, clunky and ugly.  And these did just the trick.  I made sure to ask the sales associate 945 times, "So I can traipse through the snow and sleet in these and my feet will stay warm and dry, right?"  They indulged me and nodded "yes" all 945 times.  And this weekend, I tested out their honesty and found out they work delightfully as promised.

DSCN3997.JPGDriving to work I couldn't help but snap a few pictures of the winter wonderland.  (Note: Though I do it occasionally when the coast is clear, I do not endorse picture taking while driving.  So Dad, please don't send me a driving safety email after you read this post.)

DSCN4000.JPGAnd in the spirit of OOTD pics, I ditched the coat for a few minutes after work for a few outfit pictures.

DSCN4002.JPGSilk top: vintage
Skirt: Zara
Necklace: vintage
Ring: vintage
Earrings: Matt's wedding day gift
Tights: Hue
Shoes: Anne Klein

DSCN3990.JPGI snagged this top on a thrifting adventure with my mom on my last visit home.  I took a bit of a chance on it, and I'm so glad I did.  It had shoulder pads that were terribly huge, but once I cut them out, I liked the fit so much better.

DSCN4003.JPGSaturday night we met some friends to watch OU battle Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship.  The OU Club of Chicago hosted a watch party at Joe's and it was SO fun!  There is nothing better than watching Sooner football with a room packed full of OU fans.

DSCN4004.JPGI got a wonderful surprise when I saw sweet Shelly, one of my sorority sisters at the watch party.  Have you even seen someone across the room and thought "Omg, that's so-and-so" and then thought "wait, that can't be them, they don't even live in this city."  But the more you look, the more you swear its so-and-so.  Lol, I totally had that experience when I saw Shelly last night. When I realized it was her and I wasn't crazy, I just about died.  So so great to see her and share a Kappa hug :)

DSCN4007.JPGRemember when I said there's nothing better than watching Sooner football with a room packed full of OU fans?  I lied.  There is one thing better.  Watching the Sooners WIN with a room packed full of OU fans!  It was a close game, but we eeked out a win, 23-20.  Boomer Sooner!

DSCN4009.JPGThere's only ONE Oklahoma!  Such a fun night and SO happy OU got the win!

Today was a total lazy day.  I slept till almost 11 (amazing) and then spent the "morning" perusing blogs with hot chocolate in hand and Pandora Christmas in the background.  Then I found out Matt's Christmas present was going to take 33 days to ship (aka not in time for Christmas.)  So I was forced to join the hoards of shoppers who were out shopping for their perfect gifts.  But the trip wasn't all bad, I picked up a few things for myself and nibbled on an Aunt Annie's pretzel.  Ok, I lie, I didn't nibble, I devoured.  Those things are so good they should be illegal.  Well, not illegal, because then I'd forced to break the law, but you know what I mean.  They should come with a warning that says "Don't eat this if you want to look civilized or like you have any self control at all."  Damn you Aunt Annie's.

So that's my weekend in a nutshell; how was yours?  Do tell, I'd love to hear!