Weekend Update: QT on the Homefront

Another weekend down. Another week to face.

FINALLY,  we had some beautiful weather in Chicago this weekend! And there's more to come. I've never heard anything better. This is the last weekend the hubs and I had together before we embark on a very busy summer. And by very busy, I mean that we have something going on every weekend in May,  3 out of 4 weekends in June, every weekend in July and every weekend in August. #TrueStory.

So what did we do this weekend? A whole lotta nothing—except hang out with other, anyway. Mostly at neighborhood bars and beer gardens. Which was fine by me.

Friday night, we wen down the street for some drinks and dinner at a nearby bar. We spent half the time with Bryan talking me off a ledge and the other half we spent being annoyed at the kids who played "Call Me Maybe" no less than 6 times during the 2 hours we were there.

Fried green beans; fries + chicken wrap; first Sweet Tea Vodka drink of 
the year; Bryan being annoyed by small children in the bar.

Saturday, we woke to blue skies and warm temperatures. I spent a couple of hours doing some spring cleaning around the house and in our closets before heading out for a run. Determined to take advantage of the nice weather, Bryan and I walked down to one of our favorite neighborhoods to mosey around and get some beers. Once we got hungry, we headed over to a little dive that we'd been hearing about and spent several hours drinking beers, eating Sloppy Joes and listening to Etta James. It was wonderful.

Bryan at the jukebox; SO MUCH DOG HAIR; playing around with hair styles; getting run for a run outside!

Sunday, I spent a lot of the day working. We went for another workout + a nice walk outside, and around 4:30pm, decided we needed to further take advantage of the weekend weather, so it was off to our favorite watering hole for drinks in the beer garden. After a quick stop at the grocery store, we finally watched Les Miserables. We had to start it around 6:30pm, otherwise, I never would have made it. (I swear, I could stay up all night watching TV, but the second a movie comes on, I'm out.) I thought it was pretty good, though VERY. LONG. I did get a little bored throughout, but had freelance stuff to keep me busy, so it was all good. I'm not in the "amazing" camp that everyone else seems to be though...don't kill me.

That's about it guys! Bryan is gone all this week for work, so it'll just be me and Addy, continuing our spring cleaning, finding an outfit for our Derby party this weekend, and most likely, drinking wine and watching TV with a few workouts for good measure.

Hope ya'll had a beautiful weekend, too!

Mingle 240

Read More

Remember When? 90s TV Edition


For some reason yesterday, I got to thinking about “the good old days.” And by that, I mean the 90s. Specifically, 90s television. 

In honor of Throwback Thursday, I thought I’d go through some of my favorite TV shows from the best decade ever.  

TGIF

Ya’ll know what I’m talking about. TGIF, the 2-hour block of TV on ABC that came with several different shows over the years, in various lineups. The most memorable for me were Full House, Family Matters, Just the Ten of Us, Dinosaurs, Step by Step, Boy Meets World, Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, and of course, Sister, Sister. (Is it sad that I’d be able to sing the theme song to at least 5 of those?) 

I looked forward to Friday nights as much then as I do now, and it’s because my evenings revolved around watching TV. The only difference is that now I do it with wine.

TNBC

Otherwise known as Teen NBC, this was another programming block of TV, except this time it was on Saturday mornings.  California Dreams, anyone? I was never a cartoon kid, but apparently if Peter Engel created it, I watched—and loved—it. 

Nickelodeon 

I don’t even know where to start with this one. So many shows, including but not limited to: Hey Dude, Salute Your Shorts, Are You Afraid of the Dark, Doug, Hey Arnold!, Wild & Crazy Kids, GUTS, You Can’t Do That on Television...

To say NOTHING of Dennis the Menace, The Patty Duke Show, The Wonder Years, The Brady Bunch and the Donna Reed Show.


Perhaps one of my favorite shows from Nickelodeon was Today’s Special. I can so clearly remember coming home from my morning of kindergarten. My mom would fix me SpaghettiOs and Fruit Cocktail, and I’d watch Today’s Special, a show set in a department store after hours when mannequins came to life, the janitor was a puppet and the store manager, it seems, had no problem with either of these things. Apparently, neither did I.

Friday night drama TV

During the later part of the 90s, I used to watch my mom’s “shows” with her after TGIF. I got surprisingly into them for a 10-year-old, but now that I’m nearing 30, I feel like I would appreciate them even more than I did then. For example, as a young child, why would plot lines like cows giving birth to human babies, or dead people showing up in people’s freezers make sense to me? Those particular storylines came from Picket Fences. Tom Skerritt, Lauren Holly and Kathy Baker anyone? Other Friday night favorites included Sisters. Loved that show.

After school TV

When I was older, I’d come home, fix a snack, and snuggle in to watch the Cosby Show, Saved by the Bell, Blossom.

It goes without saying that Friends, 90210, Party of Five, Home Improvement, and Fresh Prince were also staples of my childood.

See what I mean? The good old days. It’s a wonder I didn’t turn into a television set, as my mom used to tease. Oh, mom. 

What shows did you love?

Read More

Random Wednesday Revelations

Happy Wednesday, lovelies!

I'm feeling a little down today. I'm having anxiety about several things—work, money, and life in general. I was looking for a word to describe it and Taylor hit it on the head: I feel lost.

I feel unhappy in some parts of my life, but am not sure exactly. I'm craving change. I'm craving accomplishment. I'm craving success. I want more, personally and professionally, but don't know what I need to do to take the next steps, or even what the next steps are.

So, what else to make myself feel better than to look to Pinterest for some inspirational quotes, binge eat  Starbursts and Special K chips, and drink a bottle of wine?

Anyone see a theme with these??


via 





Tomorrow is a new day. Hope you guys are feeling better than me!


Read More

Hey, Monday!

It's Monday morning, and while I'm normally pissed off each and every time this happens (aka every week), this morning isn't so bad. Why, you ask?

For one, the sun is shining. For two, it's semi-warm. For three, I had a great weekend. For four, after last week, there is no way that this week will not be better than last. Perspective, folks.

I actually spent another weekend in Iowa, and for good reason. First, I didn't have to drive or take the bus, as I was able to hitch a ride with my bestie. Two, if I didn't go home this past weekend, I wouldn't get to see Sloanie my family until mid-June. And three, although it may seem contradictory, there wasn't anyone home.

Let me explain. As you know from previous posts, going home tends to be somewhat overwhelming at times, with so many different groups to visit. This past weekend, no one else was around. While I always love to see all of my friends and sisters in the area, it was a nice change of pace to just spend some quality time with my parents. Plus, I didn't have to share Sloan with anyone.

Friday night, I was met with a running and squealing Sloan yelling, "Chi Chi!" (She can't say Rachel, but the "che" is is easy for her. I love it.) Dad and Denise kept her up past her bedtime just for me! We played for a couple of hours and then my bestie & her fiancé came over to have drinks and dinner with us.
Sloanie and me on Friday night. 

Saturday morning, I woke up early to play with Sloan for a few hours. Enjoyed a nice Bloody Mary with Dad and Denise, and then I embarked on a fun-filled day with my girlfriends. We had a fantastic lunch, followed by some shopping, followed by some registering for Britt. We capped the afternoon with some much-deserved margaritas with more girlfriends, plus Britt's sister and mom. I spent the rest of the day/night playing with Sloan outside, eating a delicious steak dinner with Dad & Denise, and then having some wine and girl talk with my mom, and Britt and her mom. 
Saturday in a nutshell.

Sunday, Sloan and I had some coffee and did a little morning reading. While she napped, I had brunch w/my mom and mother-in-law, and then I spent a few hours hanging out with my sister and her husband since they got home from Vegas. And just like that, it was time to hit the road. 

It was just a really nice, relaxing weekend and I'm happy I made it home. How 'bout ya'll? What did you do?'

Mingle 240
Read More

5 Traits of 20something Women

Happy Hump Day! And for those of you stopping by from Nadine, welcome! I'm happy you're here, and I do hope you'll stay awhile.

I've been a little somber this week, and for good reason. But today I wanted to lighten things up.

A few weeks ago I found this amazing article on Buzzfeed that made me laugh for days. FOR DAYS, YA'LL. It was called "What It's Like To Be A Twentysomething, As Told By “Mean Girls,” “Bridesmaids,” And “Girls.” Genius, right?

It inspired me to do a little 20-something soul searching.


As a 20-something woman approaching 30, I've paused to reflect and draw some conclusions on being in our 20s that I think we can all agree on:

1. Being in your 20s is hard. The first glimpse of a hard-knock life ahead comes around 12. You're awkward looking, sprouting boobs and having your first period. Then, you're a teenager, suffering though high school. You could absolutely die because Ben didn't ask you to the dance, or that you didn't get invited to Suzy's party, or because you didn't start in the volleyball game. Before you know it, it's time for college, and life gets a little more real, but not too much. You stress about tests (that you'll soon realize don't matter), you drink every day of the week, you fall in love and get your heart broken — for real this time — you graduate, and then, and only then, does shit get real. Welcome to your 20s.
Exhibit A: Too cool for school.

2. 20somethings overexaggerate. Who, you?! Yes, you (and me). In our 20s, we're SOOO fat—which means we've gained a couple pounds. We're SOOO poor—which—wait, no, actually, we really are poor. We LOVE being single (nope). We're SOOO hungover, we're NEVER drinking again (until tomorrow night). You get the picture.

Exhibit B: Never drinking again.

3. 20somethings worry too much. About everything, really, but mostly about our bodies. We're constantly comparing ourselves to others. We focus on the fact that our thighs touch when they didn't before, or that we constantly have to hike up our jeans over our love handles. We master the "arm on hip" pose to make our arms look thinner. These are just a few of the things we obsess over about our bodies, and I can tell you from experience: it doesn't get easier. I think about my weight at least 10 times per day, no joke. I guess the moral is that we're all thinking it, but I don't know why, or how to stop.

Exhibit C: Arms out, collarbones in, ladies!

4. Relationships, dating and being single all suck in your 20s. I entered my 20s in a relationship. And now that I'm on my way out of my 20s, I am married to the same man I was in a relationship with when I entered this decade. But those years in between, I dated and I was single. Both sucked. Keep on keepin' on. You'll find your prince, I promise.

Exhibit D: The only time dating & relationships didn't suck.

These are just a few things we can surmise from this period of our lives, but I will say this: I've loved my 20s. Every anxiety-driven, unreasonably stressed out, overexaggerated, heartbroken, poor, fat, melodramatic moment of them. I'd go so far to say that my 20s, especially this back half, has been the time of my life.

Tell me about life in your 20s. Can you relate to any of this?

Linking up with Shanna for Random Wednesday.

Read More

Look for the Helpers

Much like when the Newtown tragedy occurred, I find myself unable to stay within my "regularly scheduled programming." Writing about anything else doesn't feel right.

Like I said yesterday, part of what I love about blogging and writing is that it's my best form of expression. It's an outlet. But it's hard to find words sometimes, especially when something like that happens.

Back in 2007, I ran my first half-marathon—the Country Music Marathon in Nashville. I ran with Team in Training, which is a fundraising program for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. You raise money for cancer research, they fund your marathon expenses. Overall, I raised $3,360.

Post-race.

I'm not a "runner" by any stretch of the word. I'll go for 3-mile runs on the treadmill or by the lake on a nice day, but that's about the extent. But for six months before the half-marathon, I ran nearly every day, for as few as 20 minutes, or as long as 2 hours. I got up every Saturday morning to train with my team along the lake, in 0-degree temperatures at 6 a.m. My longest run before the race was 12 miles.

I went to Nashville by myself. I quickly met a group of people that I hung out with pre-race. There was an easiness about meeting these people, who were there for the same reason as me.

Crossing the finish line.

Come Race Day, I rose at the crack of dawn, found my new friends and we made our way to the course. After the guns went off, I found my pace easily, falling in step with a group. We ran together, stopped for water, huffed, puffed and made visits to the medic tent. Along the way, thousands of people lined the course. People set up in their front lawns, some hosting brunch & mimosas for friends, others handing out bananas or sips of water. They were yelling and cheering for everyone—even me. Each hill I faced, I could hear someone on the sideline telling me I was almost there, and that I was doing great. It kept me going, it really did.


All runners before the race.

It was amazing. To have so many people there, each for their own purpose, but all for the same end goal: to complete this amazing race. The camaraderie and enthusiasm can only be understood by anyone else who's ever been involved in such an event. It was a similar feeling when I completed the Tough Mudder.


To be able to recall those feelings so vividly makes me all the more sad about yesterday's events. To think that those people were doing something as simple as running—something they maybe loved, or maybe they loathed. Maybe they were doing it in honor of someone or something. Maybe they were doing it for their child, who couldn't run it themselves. Or maybe it was just because they qualified. That they had friends, husbands, wives, parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, and children there to cheer them on...and that someone could take away such a simple joy in life in a senseless act is beyond me.

We shouldn't be scared to run marathons, go to a movie, or send our children to school. But we are. The good thing that we've seen out of all of these terrorist acts is exactly that: Good. Somewhere, out of the darkness and fear, shock and confusion, people rise up to help each other. I saw this passed around a lot yesterday and I love it:


And now, I'm going to run.




Read More

100 Posts & Counting: What Blogging Means to Me

Happy Monday, friends! Sorry for my absence last week, but I was putting in crazy hours with work and by the time I got home, the energy left in my body was just enough sink into my couch with a glass of wine and zone out watching Real Housewives crap.

I don't even really have a weekend update for you, because we didn't do much, and what we did do, I didn't photograph. Our weekend in a nutshell: Happy hour on Friday, gym + dinner + a going away party on Saturday night, and gym + dinner & beers on a patio on Sunday night to enjoy warm weather — FINALLY.

Signing in this morning, I noticed something exciting—this is my 100th blog post! {round of applause!} In celebration, I'm going to list 100 things I've learned about blogging.

APRIL FOOLS.

No, I won't bore you with that, but instead I thought I'd share a little bit about what blogging means to me.

All my life, I've loved writing and creating. Growing up, I always had journals. I wrote two books when I was in elementary school (hard cover, thank you very much). I was always creating, whether it was a drawing or a friendship bracelet. I was in the highest spelling and reading levels, I read books for entertainment (such as the entire Baby-Sitters Club series, all of the Fear Street books by R.L Stine, the Ramona books AND Wayside School, thank you very much again.) In other words, I was a nerd. I was never the kid who didn't know what she wanted to be when she grew up—I was going to be a writer.

As planned, I went to school and got a degree in Journalism. I've been working successfully for the past 7 years in "the biz." Somewhere along the way, I discovered blogging.

I'll never get sick of seeing my name in print!

I started, and stopped, stopped and started again, and didn't let anyone know that I was writing online. I'm not sure why. I think deep down, I knew my platform was not something to be proud of, so I didn't want anyone to know about it. Finally, last summer, I had an epiphany, which was that I had to stop making excuses. You see, I do love my day job, but if I have anything to say about it, someday I will be a novelist, who freelances on the side. I will stay at home with the kids and be able to write in the beautiful office of my Chicago home.

So for me, blogging has been a starting place for all of that to come to fruition. And here's why I love it:

Blogs are an outlet and a platform. This blog is a place for me to be my quirky, drunk, sassy, slightly OCD, sometimes too-anxious self. This elicits comments (and sometimes concern) from people out there, but just getting feelings, thoughts and stories put down and out there is something I love. Other people use their blogs for bigger causes, and I love that, too. We all have a voice—it's just up to us how we use it and where.

I want to remember. I have a horrible memory. Part of this is because I drink too much, and the other part is just genetic. So I write things down to remember. I capture life through photos and storytelling on this platform, so that one day, I can pull out my dusty journals or bring up this URL and show people what's happened in my life. Will they care? Probably not, but I do, and that's what matters.

Blogging makes me vulnerable. Any blogger or writer will tell you that putting your words and opinions out there for everyone to judge is scary. It's not all unicorns and rainbows. In fact, I once had someone tell me that I deserved to be "hanged, drawn and quartered" —all because I said that "To Whom It May Concern" was the kiss of death when applying for a new job. This is a post for another day. :)

In any case, bad days, sad stories and real life happen. I have opinions, many of which you probably don't share. But that's OK. Knowing that I'm putting myself out there makes me more aware of myself, and my thoughts, and I think that's a good thing.

Writing is my best self-expression. There's a reason people tell you that when you're upset with someone, to write them a letter, then come back to it and decide later if you want to send it. I feel that I'm expressing myself most clearly and being my most honest self when I'm writing it down.

Blogging makes me feel accepted. The men and women in this community are amazing. They want to see and help you succeed, they relate to you and your stories, and they share in the experience of everything. I know I'm small beans compared to many of the blogs out there, but I'll get there. In the meantime, everyone else out there has been nothing short of amazing in helping me do that.

I've still got a long way to go before I "make it" in the blogging world, or as a professional writer. But I'm proud of what I've done so far. I feel like I'm always improving. I need to stop thinking too much, and trying too hard to be one thing or another, instead of just being myself and writing from the heart.

People will find me. People will follow me. People will comment. Someday I'll advertise on the blog. Someday (soon) I'll do another redesign. It'll all come together in time. I've got faith, and hopefully ya'll do, too.

Thank you so much for being part of the journey so far. CHEERS to 100 posts! And here's to 100 more.


Linking up with LeeAnn and Meg today.
Read More

Currently I'm...

This has been a week, my friends. And it's only Wednesday. That being said, I honestly can't think right now, so I this post is the best I've got in me for 10pm on Wednesday night of the week from hell.

Drinking: Red wine. Typically I only like to drink red wine in the winter, and since it's technically Spring, this is out of character. Oh wait, I live in Chicago and it's still maf&*^ing WINTER. 37 degrees to be exact.
someecards.com - It's so cold I can barely stand the four minutes I'm outdoors every day.

Wearing: My sweaty workout clothes from earlier, with the addition of a sweatshirt. Hey, I worked out. That's as good as we're getting tonight.

someecards.com - I'm going to the gym so I can tell you I'm going to the gym.

Embarrassed about: The fact that I nearly lit my friend's wishing tree on fire at her wedding on Saturday. She posted this picture on Facebook yesterday with the comment, "They were tags, not fuses." Oops.


Stressing about: Work. I have client presentations tomorrow, Friday AND Monday. Yaaay.

Laughing at: My face. Yesterday morning, I burned my face with my 410 degree curling iron. Then I subsequently burned my palm and my fingers, so that was cool. #Sarcasm.


Wishing I was: Sleeping. I was up until 2am last night. But, my dedication is to the 5 of you reading this, so, you're welcome. :)

Eating: Candy and Girl Scout Cookies. I have such a sweet tooth. I'd be so much skinnier if I didn't like sugar so much. DAMNIT.

Thankful for: My husband. Always my husband. He brings me balance, and without him, I'd probably be institutionalized.


Excited about: Our anniversary trip to Savannah and Hilton Head next month. Can't. come. soon. enough.

Reading: Dark Places, by Gillian Flynn. It's the latest from the author of Gone Girl, which is basically the best book ever. Read it. now.

Ok, kids, that's all my brain can put forth right now. Gotta practice my presentation and get ready for the days ahead!

What's up with you guys this week?

Read More

Weekend Update: Drag Queens & Surprise Weddings

I’m always sad at the weekend’s end, but this weekend was a different type of sadness.

My BFF Ashley came to visit from California. You might remember her from this post I wrote in her honor when she moved back in October. It’d been 6 whole months since we’d seen each other – the longest period of time we’ve been apart in our 10 years of friendship. Needless to say, we were both more than excited to reunite!

She got in late Thursday night, and I was bouncing off the walls with excitement. I was literally standing by the window watching for her cab to pull up and Bryan told me to calm down and that Santa never comes to those who watch for him.

Friday, I had to do a little something called work, while she went to her old office and hung out with her old co-workers and boss. We rejoined for Happy Hour with Sara at a new(ish) wine bar downtown, where we enjoyed a flight of bubbly and a cheese plate before heading to dinner.


For dinner, it was girls night out and we went to a delicious Indian restaurant. I was an “Indian Virgin,” and my first experience was wonderful! Everything from the appetizers to the entrees to the naan was amazing, and I’d definitely go back. While dinner was delicious, it was also smelly, so instead of hitting the town as planned, we went back to my house instead, where we changed clothes and had wine and giggled until wee hours of the morning.

Saturday was one of the first beautiful days we’ve had here in Chicago in a long time, so we walked up to Lincoln Square to have lunch and do a little shopping. We were in the market for a new dress for the wedding we were going to that night, but unfortunately, it was no dice. No big deal though, we just had fun walking around and looking in all the cute shops that are in that hood. Before we knew it, we had to head home to get ready for the wedding that night.


It wasn’t just any wedding, though. It was a SURPRISE wedding. Awesome, right? It was our friend, Sarah’s fiancĂ©, Josh, sent an email to about 130 friends and family saying he was going to throw a surprise engagement party for Sarah. He instructed everyone to get there around 6pm, dressed in cocktail attire, saying the surprise would happen at 6:30pm. The only people who were in on it was their families, the one person they each had standing up, and out of town guests, like Ashley (and me, obviously).

When we arrived at 6pm, the room was abuzz with guests, and around 6:30pm, their friend got on the mic saying that things were delayed a little bit. He babbled for a little bit before concluding his speech with, “oh yeah, and this is isn’t really an engagement party…it’s a wedding.”


People.went.nuts. Everyone’s mouths dropped, people were squealing with excitement, and a number of people made comments about how they were “underdressed.” (Then you shoulda followed note about the cocktail attire, amiright?!) We were all told to head back to the outdoor part of the venue, which we saw was decorated perfectly for their ceremony with lanterns, chairs and candles. Shortly after, the ceremony began with a tearful groom (so sweet!) walking down the aisle to cheers, followed by Sarah, dressed to the nines as a beautiful bride, with her Dad.


The rest of the evening was traditional. The ceremony was followed by appetizers and cocktails, dinner and of course, dancing. The whole evening was perfect and it was so wonderful to have been included in the festitivities. I may or may not have lit the Wishing Tree on fire. (It really wasn’t my fault.)

The dreaded Sunday was finally upon us. Ash & I both woke up sulking, because we knew that sooner or later, she’d have to go to the airport and head home. Sigh. We made the most of our Sunday though, starting with a nice long walk to brunch before we joined our friend Dana for her birthday.
Dana was also celebrating her birthday with brunch, but not just any brunch – a Drag Show brunch. This bar in the city is considered a “gay bar,” and they have a fantastic brunch deal on Sundays ($25 for food, unlimited mimosas and a cinnamon roll!), which is accompanied by a singing drag queen. It was very entertaining to say the least, and yes, I stuck a dollar bill in her boobs. First time for everything.


Needless to say, I had a fantastic weekend with Ash. We caught up on everything and spend literally every waking moment together. She might be the only person I’d never get sick of. I rounded out my evening by chatting with Sloan on FaceTime, and that automatically made me feel better.


How was your weekend?

Mingle 240
Read More