30 Before 30: Update

First and foremost, HAPPY FRIDAY!

Second, if you're stopping by from Helene in Between, WELCOME! And thanks for stopping by. I hope you'll stay awhile. Sidenote: Helene's got a GIF of Anna Kendrick on her blog today. I've had about 10 people tell me I look like her recently. Not the worst person to look like, I suppose!

Being that today is June 28 and my 30th birthday is exactly 3 months from today, I thought it would be a good time to update you on where I'm at with my 30 before 30 list. (I'm actually a little scared to do this, but here goes nothin'.)

1. Complete a Tough Mudder  (Check it out!)
2. Lose 5 pounds (I've lost 2!)
3. Read 50 books (I need to count, but I think I've met this. Book blog coming soon!)
4. Start writing my own book (Nope. Damnit.)
5. Reach 250 blog followers (Nope. Maybe today. Follow people!)
6. Get a promotion (Find out next week!)
7. Pay off all debt except mortgage (YES! We did this in May, thanks to a settlement I received from breaking my nose in a cab accident. Eased the pain a bit.)
8. Pay for someone's meal anonymously (No day like today!)
9. Travel to 5 new places 
(I completed this goal in Europe, but plan for several more trips before September!)
10. Eat something I'd never normally order
(Also achieved in Europe when I tried duck & veal liver. As in, the livers of both.)
11. Host a party (Check! I hosted a Blind Winetasting this spring!)
12. Be featured on Taylor's The Browse Blog (Still waiting...)
13. Redesign the blog (Currently in progress!! SO EXCITED!)
14. Be nominated for a Rock Star award at my company (Nope.)
15. Drink beer in Belgium (See here!)
16. Go to Green Bay Packer's game (Dad & family are taking me for my bday, so this will have a big ol' CHECK by it!)
17. Visit Ashley in California (Planning for the fall!)
18. Throw an amazing bachelorette party for my bestie! (HAPPENING NEXT WEEK! CHECK!)
19. Go to 3 concerts (On the docket this month: Pearl Jam, Justin Timberlake/JayZ, Lollapolooza. CHECK!)
20. Cook 3-4 times per week (Eh, I'm getting there...)
21. Get a massage (CHECK! Done on our lovely anniversary trip!)
22. Paint something (Crap I never wrote this post.)
23. Make 2 new friends (Wamp wamp)
24. Drink wine in wine country (Does it count that I've done this before?)
25. Meet at least 2 bloggers in person
26. Don't drink Diet Coke for a month 
(CHECK! Thanks, Lent!)
27. Disconnect from all social media for a weekend (Can't...do it)
28. Send one card to someone at least once/month, just because (Sure have!)
29. Buy new living room furniture (this remind me I wanted to do this...)
30. Babies! (Technically, I want this to happen after 30...so no, no babies.)

So looks like I'm about halfway done...not too bad!

What do you guys think of my list?

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11 Hilarious Bachelorette Tweets

What to write about when you are keeping secrets from your best friend, and have spent every moment of this entire week working on stuff for her bachelorette party, but you can't blog about it because she reads your blog? (You do, don't you B?)

The Bachelorette.

It is Throwback Thursday, after all, and Monday is about as far back as I can remember. I know I said I wasn't going to do a recap but, desperate times... I'm cheating though, because I'm going to use everyone else's funnies to do it.

Here, I've aggregated some of my favorite tweets from past contestants, famous writers, fashionistas and losers from around the world (like me) who tune in every Monday to watch Desiree "fall in love" with a group of equally macho, nerdy and preppy little boys—many who I still think like girls. ENJOY!

Sidenote: These were publishing in normal Twitter format but that disappeared and I spent too much time finding them to go back and do it again. So deal with it.
That does it for this episode. I'll force myself to do a recap next week, even though on Monday I'll be busy spraytanning and packing for my trip!

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Weekend Recap + Never Ever

Happy Tuesday!

A few things before I get to today's post: I had a great weekend! Friday, we stopped by Bell's Brewery on our way to our friends' wedding and tasted some good beers. Side note: We stayed in a creepy hotel on Friday night that had a hot tub in the bedroom. Addy was clearly not having it.

Saturday was our good friends, Paul & Megan's wedding. Everything was simple, beautiful and relaxed, and we got to catch up with a group of friends we don't often see. It's always nice to see a bride and groom who are having a blast and just enjoying every moment!

Now onto today's post....linking up with a few lovelies for a quick game of...

Never Ever Ever...

have I been so excited for a bachelorette party! A week from today we're heading to a surprise location to shower my bestie with love!

have I wanted to blab a secret! I don't keep things from my best friend, and knowing all of the fun things we have planned for her, I just want to tell her! She's gonna die.

have I felt like as big of a loser as I did last night. While the rest of Chicago erupted in excitement over the Chicago Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup, I worked on bachelorette party crafts and watched The Bachelorette. (Logical thinking, no?) I was mainly pouting because it was a fast day and I couldn't drink.

have I been so anxious for a blog facelift! I've finally started the process of doing a little revamping around here...stay tuned!

have I been so bored by the Bachelorette. There is not enough material to write anything funny. Guys have way less drama. I will say, Chris is my new front runner, with Brooks as her number 2 guy. Thoughts?

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Friday Letters

Dear Friday, thanks for showing up on time and with consistency every week. You'll always be something I look forward to.

Dear 5-2 diet, unless I start some results soon, I quit you. Starving myself two days a week is just not worth it.

Dear back fat, I have a backless bridesmaid dress to get into soon, so can ya hit the road already?

Dear Kanye & Kim, seriously? Kimye would have been a better name than North. If you want to call her "Nori," just name her Nori.

Dear unofficial "do something cool every day" week, you've been pretty delightful. We saw a movie, went to trivia, visited Miller Coors headquarters (coolest offices ever! They have a pub that serves free beer all day, every day!) and I got to see my besties. Wins all around.

Dear Paul & Megan, thank you for getting married tomorrow. I love a good wedding and you're kicking off the season!

Dear spontaneous trip Bryan and I decided to take for the night, I'm excited to hit the road with my husband and pup, visit some breweries and a new place!

Dear July 4 weekend, GET HERE ALREADY! I am pumped for 4 days of fun with my girls to celebrate Britt's bachelorette!

On that note, I am out for a fun weekend in Indiana! Stay Classy, Chicago.

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ThrowBack Thursday: 16 Icons from the 90s

WARNING: If you were a child of the 90s, this post is about to blow your mind.

I honestly have no idea what I was searching for on Pinterest when I came across a random board called, "Childhood Memories." I bookmarked it, thinking it'd make great blog material one day. That day has come. I found a link-up with a few lovely ladies to honor Throwback Thursday, and if this ain't a throwback, I don't know what is.

First, I need to share something unrelated, but I thought of it when I read Jennifer's throwback post. My friends and I used to keep notebooks in junior high that'd we'd pass between periods. You know, to make it seem like we were paying attention in class. (Come to think of it, how do teachers always know when someone is writing a note to her best friend and not just writing down every word teach is saying? Teachers: Weigh in.)

Anyway, in said notebooks, we kept a running list of our ever-changing top five. (I still have one and you can find it here.) Typically, these are always the cutest boy in your grade or the most popular. For awhile, however, the number one man on mine and Brittany's top five was...wait for it:


That's right: Jesus. I mean, who does that? Don't get me wrong—I'm not saying Jesus isn't cool or even attractive, but I think that even the most religious of people would NOT put freakin' JESUS on her top five. Anyway. Moving on to other childhood memories.

Anyone else feeling nostalgic looking at these?

From top left:

1. Jellies! I lived in these during summer.
2. Playing Oregon Trail on an OLD SCHOOL computer. I did this every day after school.         
3. SHARK BITES! Best fruit snacks ever.    
4. Amelia Bedelia. I read this out loud to my "classroom" frequently.
5. Dream Phone. We played ever.single.sleepover.
6. Candy Lipstick. Delicious and practical.
7. Giant parachute. It was the only thing I looked forward to in gym glass.
8. McDonald's Cookies. What happened to these, and those cool toys that were hamburgers+transformers?
9. Welch's Jelly Jars. Pretty sure we only bought the jelly so we could have the glass!
10. Mickey's Parade Ice Pops. I'm sure they tasted the same as most popsicles but I remember them being so much better.
11. Brach's Pick-A-Mix. Remember this at the grocery store? My favorite was these red, round hard candies that had gum in them. I called them "Gumdingers."
12. MASH. You will marry Brad, have 3 kids, and live in a shack in Paris.
13. Goody Barrettes. We've come such a long way since the evolution of the sock bun.
14. AOL + Computer Discs. Our kids will never know the lengths we went to be connected or "save."
15. Hi-C Boppin' Berry. Was like crack. I would give up wine for that. Well, that's probably a lie.
16. Lite Brite. A choking hazard, but a beautiful one. 

I mean, I could do this all day, but I have to go back to work.

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The Unexpected: Marriage Advice

I sat down to pen a little marriage advice tonight. As I mentioned, Bryan and I just celebrated our two year wedding anniversary, and since my friend Mary hosts a wedding link-up, it was perfect. But where to start?

Then I found another link-up (love these things) that allows me to put some context around my marriage advice. Today's topic: What have you learned from the unexpected and how have you grown as a couple?

I'll preface everything that comes after this with the fact that my husband and I dated for 11 years before we got married. Suffice it to say, we didn't get home after the honeymoon and realize that one of us has OCD cleanliness or the other of us never puts his clothes away. We've known these things couples often learn in the first year of marriage for a while. That said, there is always something to learn, both about each other and about our relationship.

Everyone says that your first year of marriage is the hardest. We did not feel the same way. Again, maybe this had something to do our many years together before taking "the plunge" but I think we'd both agree that our hardest years together came somewhere around years 7-9.

So, what have I learned from the unexpected? Learn not to expect much. Don't take that the wrong way. I'm not saying I don't expect anything from my husband—of course I do. And he consistently meets and exceeds those expectations. But you have to have realistic expectations of and for each other and your relationship, otherwise you'll find yourself let down and resenting the other person for it.

It goes without saying that most of life, and thus, marriage, is unexpected. There's a reason for the saying "expect the unexpected." We went through a really rough period last year when Bryan's dad became very ill and was in the hospital for about 5 months. It was horrible and scary and just awful, and was a reality check that we're going to have to deal with some hard shit in the coming years. Watching Bryan's mom keep vigil over her husband was heart-wrenching, but she showed me the definition of love. Bryan and I found strength in each other and we walked away as a tighter unit.

What else have I learned?

My husband doesn't care about dinner. All I've ever wanted is to be that wife whose husband asks, "what's for dinner?" when he gets home from work. And then I set a perfectly cooked meal in front of him and we eat at the table and talk about our days. Instead, I've ended up with a husband who eats frozen buffalo chicken strips for dinner every night on the couch while I eat my home-cooked meal that could feed four people..also on the couch. Don't get me wrong—Bryan eats my cooking. But I've learned that if I want him to eat my cooking, I cannot make him wait. He gets home from the gym and my man is HUNGRY. I've made it clear that when there are children involved, we WILL be eating dinner at the table every night and he WILL eat my cooking. On this we agree.

Routines are good—to have and to break. We all know how easy it is to fall into a routine. Most days, Bryan and I head to work at the same time, go to the gym when we get home, cook our respective dinners (see above), and retreat to watch TV, oftentimes separately. Not because we don't want to hang out but because we have different shows. It takes serious effort to change things up, but you have to. When you don't, it's too easy to let spending entire evenings apart become the status quo, or to let falling asleep without a kiss goodnight become the norm. Marriage is work, people, and part of that means shaking things up. Have date night for goodness sakes!

Independence is key and opposites really do attract. My husband and I are the definition of "opposites attract," and it's vital to our success as a couple. One area where we don't differ so much is in our independence. While spending time together is what we love the most, there are weekends or weeknights where Bryan has a "guys night" and I do the same (with my girls, of course). When he travels for work, he'll be the first to admit that he doesn't mind sleeping in a king bed alone, rather than squeezed next to me and the dog in a measly Queen. On these same nights, my happy place is watching my shows on the DVR without the unsolicited color commentary Bryan so readily provides, especially during The Bachelorette or Real Housewives. But when the day comes that he's coming home, I get excited butterflies in my stomach each and every time. All this to say: It's OK to not spend every waking moment together. In fact, I believe it makes you appreciate and want the other person more.

Obviously there are so many things I have not said, but this is getting long and my fingers are tired. I'll leave you with this:

I know I'm not the perfect wife. But damnit, I try. I can still be selfish, but I can also be selfless. I can be mean when we fight, but I always apologize when I should. I love my husband more than anything and all I want to do is be a good wife and partner for him. So I try to learn from him and learn from my mistakes and do better the next time.

Anyone else have any good marriage advice or lessons learned?
Chits and Giggles
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Weekend Update: Brides, Rides and ... Dad

Happy Monday evening!

I've gotta say, I had Friday and Monday off, I had a wonderful weekend at home and I feel like this could be the week I make my blog comeback. By comeback, I mean, I'll actually post stuff worth reading. Here's hoping.

I took Friday off so I could leave in the morning and get home in time for Jessica and I to take Sloan to Burlington. Burlington is a town on the Mississippi where my parents grew up, and every year they have Steamboat Days, which is a weeklong music festival with carnival rides, etc. We thought it'd be fun to take Sloan down to meet my aunt and uncle (visiting from Maryland), and to give her her first "fair" experience. Plus, both of my parents were down there for the weekend.

In the car. She's supposed to be napping.

After dinner and drinks with everyone, we walked down to the rides. I wanted to take Sloanie on this helicopter ride, in which the cars went up and down and around. I marched up, handed the carnie 4 tickets and was greeted with grim expression.

"You're too big," he said.
"Excuse me?" I replied, aghast.
"You can't go, you won't fit."

Well I never.

After debating with Jessica on if Sloan should go by herself, we agreed that she should try it and the carnie agreed to stop the ride if she went crazy. We strapped her in and off she went. She loved it. She was all smiles and giggles, even going so far as to put her hands in the air. Think "raise the roof." We were so proud of her and couldn't get her off the rides for as long as she stayed awake. Awesome night.

Sloan in all her ride glory! She loved that huge slide.

Quick pic with my aunt Janet + Zombie Sloan

Saturday kicked off bridal celebrations for the beautiful bride Brittany! We all gathered on Saturday morning for a wedding invitation party complete with mimosas, breakfast casserole and french toast casserole. Mmm mmm.
Bridal shower awesomeness + the beautiful bride!

We spent the afternoon getting ready the evening bridal shower, hosted by Britt's aunt. She went all out, with an amazing spread of appetizers, and a seated dinner complete with centerpieces and name cards. Brittany had an awesome time, as did I. Britt's been waiting for this time for so long and I'm just so excited that it's all happening. Two months from today in fact!

Britt is the beautiful one in all the pics. On the left is our entire bridal party, minus two! Love my friends.

Sunday was a lot of great family time. I spent some time with my in-laws and then we all piled in the car and headed to Dad & Denise's house for a late afternoon BBQ. It was all about enjoying each other and celebrating my awesome dad, and Klint - another awesome dad. I might be bias. All in all, a lovely way to cap off the weekend.

Sloanie is just so cute. Her phrase du jour is "no way." Try keeping a straight face watching an almost two-year-old pound the floor, shaking her pigtails and saying "no way no way no way" in the cutest voice ever. That's what I thought.

I just adore that kid. Every time I was in her line of sight, she'd say "hi Chi Chi." And when I wasn't in her line of sight, she was yelling for me. In the morning, she came knocking on the door bright and early. I put her down to sleep and for naps, and she took advantage of me every time. By that, I mean, she preyed on my weakness, which is the inability to let Sloan cry. As a result, I spent lots of time rocking her or standing over her crib so she wouldn't freak out, until she went to sleep. I didn't mind.

To top things off, I hate coming home to a dirty house, and thanks to my lovely husband, I came home today to a clean home. We even got out of our Monday routine of TV and went to see a movie! We declared this an unofficial "do something cool every night week," so we're off to a good start.

That's all I got. I didn't watch The Bachelorette tonight, but I will tomorrow and I'll report back immediately. Don't spoil it for me.

Mingle 240

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Random Thursday Rant

You guys. I cannot get it together for the life of me.

These past two weeks have been nonstop work, and the couple hours of free time I did have, I just did not want to sit down and blog. I'm sorry.

Many of you may or may not know, I'm a writer by trade. I work for a content marketing agency in Chicago and spend my days doing content writing and strategy for a few large consumer brands, writing blogs and storylines, editing other people's writing, and a whole lot of other stuff. So sue me if when I get home at the end of a long day, I don't want to sit at my computer and write more.

Anyway, just wanted to write a quick explanation for being so MIA. Tomorrow I'm headed home for the weekend to celebrate Father's Day and my beautiful best friend, Brittany, as we are having her first bridal shower! Let the celebrations begin!

I'll be back next week with what I hope to be a normal week: Weekend Updates, Bachelorette Recaps, and more fun stuff.

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Wedding Wednesday: Happy Anniversary

Happy Wednesday!
Chits and Giggles

I mentioned last week that Bryan and I celebrated our two-year wedding anniversary last Tuesday. We celebrated with a trip to Savannah and Hilton Head, and it was wonderful.

Last year, we went to Santa Barbara, which was also fabulous. When we were there, we found ourself clinking a lot of glasses — aka, drinking a lot and toasting. So we started toasting each other. We'd take turns and there were no requirements, other than the toast had to be about each other, or our marriage. I know it sounds cheesy. But it was super romantic and I loved it.

You all know how it is - you say I love you every day, but you don't often say the little things you appreciate about one another. We did the same thing this year and it was a really great way to reconnect and tell each other what we love and look forward to in life.

In any case, in honor of our wedding anniversary, I wanted to share something very special: Our wedding highlights! One of our biggest investments in our wedding was the videographer and when you see this video, you'll see why. For us, we knew the day was going to be such a whirlwind of activity and we wanted something to be able to watch year after year and relive it all. The video I'm sharing with you is just the highlights - our full video is even more amazing.

I hope you enjoy it! (P.S. I recommend watching it fullscreen to get the full effect!)


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The Bachelorette: Where Everything is Terrible

I'm excited that I've gotten requests asking if I'm going to write posts on the Bachelorette. The answer is OF COURSE, but it comes with a disclaimer: You see, women are so easy to make fun of. And judge. So, I'm not sure if this season will bring as many moments of which to make fun, but let's find out together, shall we?

Not much happened on the premiere last week. No one did anything SUPER weird (except for the guy who wore the knight gear). I felt sad for the doctor who tried to dance with Des. There are some lookers, there are others who I think may still be questioning their sexuality. But the majority seem to spend a lot of time in the gym, in front of the mirror and shopping for tight v-necks.

So, let's get started.

Brooks. I didn't like him in the first episode, but from the 15 minutes we saw of him tonight, I think he seems genuine and sweet! I could do without his hair, but beggars can't be choosers. Everything about this date was OK for me...except maybe when Des "decides to be spontaneous" and they should just take off in the wedding dress and tux and head for the hills! Oh, please. Does ABC think we're all new here?

Then Andy Grammar showed up. (Side note: I've actually seen Andy Grammar in concert. He's cute.) God I hate these stupid "private" concerts. Also, I'd be concerned if my date just let me relocate road closure signs. Anyway, I tuned out when they both starting singing completely off key. And then I threw up a little bit when they starting holding each other's hands and twirling around like to little kids playing ring around the rosie. He gets the rose and we get the feeling he'll be around for awhile.

 The twirling. Taken on my phone, sorry for the quality. 

The group date. Oh. My. God. Juan Pablo in chains? Hilarious. That dude is also H-O-T. I'll admit that it was funny that they had the guys making fun of previous contestants on the Bachelorette. But holy hell, these dudes are BAD at rapping, and not in a good way. And what the hell is SouljaBoy doing on this show? His career must've really hit rock bottom. In any case, everything about this was so uncomfortable and awkward.

Let's just skip to the part where some dude named Brandon is wearing underwear and says, "I have to jiggle my junk in her vicinity." What. The. Eff. And then they're blocking out parts of his ass because his said junk is apparently hanging out? Yuck. All in all, I've never seen a group of meatheads so off rhythm in my life.

Thanks for the visual, guy.

We don't need to say anything about Des' "rap." If you insist on watching this train wreck, go for it.

The rest of the date is boring. Ben is apparently the male version of Tierra, Mikey the Meathead doesn't like it, and Brandon gives me weird vibes. Probably because he was just shaking his penis at Desiree and now he's basically crying. Moving on.

Bryden gets the second one-on-one. I remember I liked him from the first episode. Any Army veteran is good people in mind. The date was pretty boring though, up until that very awkward end when he kept saying how "fun" and "awesome" everything was, so, Des sluts it up by basically begging him to kiss her. He gets the rose. The end.

One other thing: is a tragedy required to be on this show? We've got near-fatal car accidents, drug-addict mothers, absent fathers...and diabetes, guys. Not to say diabetes isn't a terrible disease to live with, but I think we can all agree that we were expecting Michael's mom to tell him that his dad was in a terrible accident—not that his sugar counts were high.

My initial final four picks? Harder to predict than the girls, but here's what I'm thinking right now:

1. Brooks
2. Ben
3. Brandon
5. Bryden

For real though, why does everyone's name start with a 'B'? What were your thoughts? Who do we like?

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The Fast Diet

I'm not posting a weekend update today because, quite frankly, I didn't do anything worthy of writing about. Last week I was MIA too, and I'm not happy this is becoming a habit. Things have just been hectic as of late, with traveling, work and general laziness when I do have some downtime.

Here's to a better week—and one that's starting with a new nutrition plan! As one of my 30 before 30 goals, I need to lose 5 lbs. This coincides perfectly with the fact that I also need to shed some lbs before my best friend's wedding in August.

My husband, the health nut that he is, actually proposed this "diet" to me. It's called "The Fast Diet," and is otherwise known as the 5-2 diet.

Here's the gist: For five days a week, you eat normally. The other two days, you "fast," cutting your calorie intake to about a 1/4 of what you'd normally eat, so about 500 calories if you're a woman and 600 calories if you're a dude. You can pick any two days of the week and they don't have to be consecutive. Sounds easy enough, yeah?

And apparently, it works. That is, if you don't overeat on your "normal" eating days or decide that you want all 500 calories on a "fast" day to be a burrito from Taco Bell. Most women lose about 1 lb/week, and men see more. Thought process being that unlike other diets, there is no boredom and there aren't really any restrictions. Sure, on the fast day you eat less than you'd like, but you can still eat.

For example, today I've had a scrambled egg for breakfast, a spinach salad with turkey and veggies for lunch, and grapes for a snack. For dinner, I'll have a chicken breast and some more veggies. I'll also consume about 100 oz of water today.

So, we'll see how it goes! I'll keep ya posted on my progress and post any yummy recipes I come across. Would love to hear your thoughts on this plan?

I hope to be back tomorrow with a Bachelorette recap :)

Mingle 240

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