Birthdays and Best Friends

If you were at all worried I wouldn't survive my 30th birthday, fear not: I am alive. I survived any and all birthday celebrations, spent all of yesterday recovering AND made it on time to my first day of work at my new job today!

As ya'll know, my weekend was jam packed with birthday fun and friends. All of my very best friends in the world traveled near and far to be able to kick off our year of 30th birthday celebrations. (Yes, I have the pleasure of being the oldest in our group.) We don't all get to be together very often, but when we do, as my husband can attest, we just chat and laugh, and pretty much don't pay attention to anyone else :). It's the best, and I'm so grateful they were all here to go above and beyond to make my weekend special. 

My best girls!

On Friday, after getting the rest of my stupid cavities filled, I met my girlfriends Annie and Ashley for happy hour. Both of these gals were visiting from Nashville and Santa Monica, and I was so excited to kick off the weekend with them. My other best friends arrived from Iowa City later that evening, and we all enjoyed dinner at a delicious BYOB sushi place, complete with a cupcake the size of my head, before heading to the late night show at Second City.

The group at dinner!

YUM!

 Wall of famous hands at Second City.

If you ever come to Chicago, do yourself a solid and go see a show at Second City. They're consistently hilarious and this weekend's show didn't disappoint. After laughing our asses off for about 2 hours, we had a nightcap at a bar across the street. And then, because it was "only 1:30 in the morning," we decided we weren't ready for the party to end, so we bought a case of beer and came back to my house, drank unnecessary amounts of beer and pizza until wee hours of the morning (we were trying to make it to 4am when I officially turned 30), which resulted in massive hangovers for most, if not all of us, on Saturday.

I love this photo of us. Perfectly captures "us!"

Sleeping off the hangovers.

But, a hangover can't keep me down, especially on my birthday, so we kicked off my 30th birthday with brunch and Bloody Mary's at a nearby watering hole. After that, we had friends over to watch the Iowa football game, except none of us girls watched it. Instead we sat outside chatting and enjoying a beautiful day (see note above about what happens when we get together).

Mmmmmmmmm.

My friend Kate went above and beyond, per usual, with personalized cupcakes, signs, a champagne glass and decorations for the party. My girlfriends gave me INSANELY generous gifts, include a ton of gorgeous Mary Kay makeup, perfume, a Hobo clutch and a Coach purse. To say nothing of the GORGEOUS sapphire and diamond ring that my husband bought for my 30-year-old right hand. Am I lucky or what?


Love love love.

Finally, it was time to head to my favorite wine bar for a small gathering of friends. When I walked in, I saw my mom's best friend, and low and behold, my mom and aunt Betsy turned around and SURPRISE! I was truly shocked, and because I've never been surprised like that, I immediately started crying. You see, none of my family was there because we are all going to Green Bay this weekend for a family celebration. Plus, my mom hadn't called me all day, and I missed them. But seeing her and my aunt was truly one of the most memorable moments of my weekend, and I'll never forget it.



The party was perfect, and I can't thank my husband enough for making it happen. It was all of my favorite people together in one room and I just couldn't have had a better time.

Love of my life!



Although I always make fun of the fact that I don't have a lot of friends in Chicago, I found myself re-examining those claims this weekend. As I looked around my party on Saturday night, I was surrounded with friends I've had from all times of my life, from elementary school to junior high and high school to college and those friends I've made in my career and post-college. I felt really humbled and extremely lucky to have so many wonderful people in one room, and for the same reason, which was to celebrate me. To say I felt loved would be an understatement. So if you were there on Saturday, or sent me a happy birthday message or text message or phone call, please know how much I appreciated it.

Love all of these people!

That about sums it up, guys. Truly, it was one of the best birthdays I've had in a long time, and I am so excited for all of the things to come in these years!


Sami's Shenanigans
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I'm 30 Tomorrow!

Good morning pretties! I have some time before my next dental appointment (aargh) and thought that since tomorrow is MY BIRTHDAY, I'd do one last update on my 30 before 30 list.

Unfortunately, I know I didn't make all of these, but I'm OK with what I did get done!After all, I did just create this list in March. I'll add the remaining items to my 40 before 40 list and I'll have a whole decade to knock 'em down!

I'm actually really looking forward to tomorrow, and I've said before, I'm OK with turning 30. It can only get better, right? I feel like the 20s were all about chasing: money, a career, ambitions, love. And now, in my 30s, it will be about ENJOYING all of the things I've achieved in my 20s. BRING IT ON!

Without further adieu, here's where I landed on my list:

1. Complete a Tough Mudder  (Check it out!)
2. Lose 5 pounds (Wamp wamp.)
3. Read 50 books (Book blog coming soon!)
4. Start writing my own book (Nope. Damnit.)5. Reach 250 blog followers (I'm at 343 between Blogger and Bloglovin'!)
6. Get a promotion (I was promoted in July! And then I got a new job. :( )
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 (I love how it turned out!)
14. Be nominated for a Rock Star award at my company (I was! My co-worker Ana nominated me.)
15. Drink beer in Belgium (See here!)
16. Go to Green Bay Packer's game (Dad & family are taking me for my bday next weekend!)
17. Visit Ashley in California (We went in August! Read about it!)
18. Throw an amazing bachelorette party for my bestie(Get the recap!)
19. Go to 3 concert(some of the best!)
20. Cook 3-4 times per week (I think I averaged this)
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 (My new co-workers!!)
24. Drink wine in wine country (We drank some in Malibu during our visit!)
25. Meet at least 2 bloggers in person (Dang!!)
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 (Can't wait to show you next week!)
30. Babies! (Technically, I want this to happen after 30...so no, no babies.)

Only 6 missing...not bad!!

I probably won't have time to update the blog this weekend. All of my friends are in town to help me celebrate and we will be busy! Tonight we are off to dinner and Second City, tomorrow is football watching and my birthday party, Sunday, who knows. It'll be quite the recap :).
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Mouths

Has anyone ever kept their mouth open for 3 hrs without swallowing? No, not for THAT, you dirty birds.

Well, ladies and gents, I have. And at the ripe age of 29.95, I learned a valuable lesson yesterday.

Go to the dentist. And floss.

I went for the first time yesterday in 3 years. Yes, I know how gross that is. Long story short, insurance had something to do with it. Anyway, I went so that's what matters, right?

Side note: the dentist is the only doctor who compels you to lie out of fear. You don't find your regular doc diagnosing you with strep and then blaming you for it, do you? Of course not. But don't floss every day, so you lie and tell the dentist you do, but then you get 5 cavities and THEY KNOW and they tell you they know. 

Yep. I had FIVE, count 'me, FIVE cavities, which could have all been avoided by a) going to the dentist and b) flossing more often.

As a result, my exam took 1.5 hours and then another hour to fill two cavities. AND  the left side of my face was numb for 6 hrs after!

Exhibit A:

You're welcome.

Back on Friday I go for more fillings, and believe you me, I'll be back in 6 months for a check up!
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Weekend Update: Birthday Week!

Am I the most unreliable blogger you've ever met, or what? All I do is make false promises to tell you about this or that, talk to you tomorrow, etc. And yet, the past couple of months all I've been really good at is blogging once a week. :(

I can't promise it will get better, but I can promise that I'll try. Things are finally calmed down; last week was my last at work, and I have this week - BIRTHDAY WEEK! - off to get some things done around the house, make some appointments, and do some birthday pampering. Then at the end of the week, all of my besties are coming into town to help celebrate ME!

Day one of staycation was great! I woke early, but not too early, and spent the morning cleaning out closets and sorting clothes to take to consignment shops. Then I hit up the gym and Target, and spent the evening taking said clothes to consignment shops. I had SIX bags of stuff, you guys, and I got a whopping $5.77 for one sweater. Tomorrow, I'll try a few other places around town, otherwise, or to Goodwill we go.

Per usual, I'm a week behind on weekend updates, so I'll save Ms. Sloan's birthday celebration for another post this week, since I'm short on time (even at 10pm). Instead, I'll give you this weekend's update, since it pretty much involved one thing: heavy drinking.

The weekend kicked off on Friday when I had a goodbye happy hour with my co-workers. We went to our favorite watering hole across the street, and colleagues, current and former, showed up to see me off. It was wonderful! We capped the night with burgers and more unnecessary beer before finally going home at midnight. (No pictures to share, wamp wamp).

Saturday, I was surprisingly productive given Friday's activities. I did a couple of errands, walked through "Taco Fest," (hence the mariachi band below) and worked out, before heading out to my friend Kirsten's birthday party. The plan was to go to her pre-party but not on the party trolley, yet I found myself on said trolley and having a blast! I found it necessary to hobble half a mile in my heels to get some pizza before passing out about 5 minutes after I walked in the door.

Me and the birthday girl




And that brings me to Sunday, which was spent marathon watching SCANDAL. Do you guys watch it? I've heard for many months that I'd love it, so I got myself a free Netflix trial and there was no Sunday better spent. It was even better because I knew I didn't have to come to work today.

Addy was my partner on Sunday.

So there you have it, another weekend in the books. Since I'm not working this week - BIRTHDAY WEEK - I hope to have some blogging time, but I've learned not to make promises I can't keep.

HAPPY MONDAY, YA'LL!

Mingle 240
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A Bittersweet Announcement

Hi friends, Happy Monday! I'm going to save my weekend update for tomorrow, because I have been taunting you for weeks that I have an announcement, and it's time to tell you!

Today marked a bittersweet moment for me: I started my last week at my current job. That's right: I GOT A NEW JOB! Starting on September 30, I'll be working at Wirtz Beverage, which is a leading beer, wine and liquor distributor. I'm joining the team as a digital content specialist, where I'll be creating content strategies for well-known alcohol brands to market their products through digital, social and experiential marketing. One of the greatest things about this position is that Wirtz just created this digital team this summer. I'm one of six specialists, and we all support different states that we distribute in and in different portfolios. It's an opportunity to build something from the ground up, and to pave the way to a long-term company strategy and vision that hasn't ever existed. I can't wait!

I am, however, really sad to leave my current job. I know how weird that sounds. I mean, I was job searching, so I can't be that sad, right? Surprisingly, wrong. I've been at my current company for about 3.5 years. It's a great, growing company, in an industry that is on the up and up (content marketing). It's creative, it's a fun work environment...I can wear jeans every day. :) All of these things played a factor in my decision, but mostly, it comes down to the people. 

I work with some of the best and smartest people, and I know how lucky I am to say that. They're a group that I've come to call my friends over the years, and saying goodbye will be hard. I take comfort in knowing that because of those friendships, it's OK to say goodbye to these people as co-workers. Plus, I'm joining my former work wife at Wirtz, and that definitely helps the transition! Really though, over the years, I've gotten to do a ton at Imagination. I've written cover stories for magazines, traveled the world, learned new skills, earned awards and worked with well-known brands like Aveda, Walgreens and General Mills. It's because of this experience that I was able to land this great new job, so for that I'm grateful.

So that's my announcement! This week, I'll be finishing up my transitions at Imagination and then I'll have next week—BIRTHDAY WEEK!—off to tie up some loose ends. I am so looking forward to it.

I'll be back tomorrow with my weekend update from my niece's second birthday!


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Weekend Update: September So Far

So far this summer, I'm doing a gang-bang job of updating this beast a whopping 1-2 times per week. Sorry 'bout that.

PS: Has anyone every heard the phrase "gang-bang job"? I don't know where it came from, but it flew off my fingers in a way that frightened me, mostly because it involved the words "gang bang." I think I meant to say "bang-up job." Oh well. It stays. You're welcome.

So, here's a couple of weekend updates for you in one. This past weekend, we were finally at home in Chicago with no plans as far as 72 hours could see. I can summarize it in about three sentences, because I only took one picture all weekend. Friday night, we went out for a celebratory drinks and dinner at a new restaurant in Chicago (I'll tell you what we're celebrating tomorrow). Saturday morning, we watched Iowa football for a few hours, then came home, napped, and had our friends over for drinks before we went to Germanfest. (See picture below.) And Sunday, we did a whole lotta nothing. (At least nothing worth telling you about.)


This guy was passed out and didn't move for about 45 minutes. 

So, that brings me to LAST weekend, which was Labor Day. Our good friends, Andy & Shannon, were gracious enough to invite us to Shannon's family's lake home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. It's only about 80 miles north of Chicago, so it's a nice weekend getaway. We ran into some terrible weather on the way up, causing a 1.5 hour trip to take close to 4 hours. But the weekend was worth the drive.



But, we awoke on Saturday to partly cloudy skies and a perfect temperature to enjoy the day. We spent the whole weekend in the infinity pool or on the lake...or in the infinity hot tub, and most of the time, with a drink in hand. We went on a boat ride to see all of the AMAZING homes on the lake (owned by the likes of the Wrigley family and Tito's Vodka creator). We spent some time in the cutest downtown area you've ever seen, went to have drinks on the lake on our last night.

All in all, a relaxing, wonderful weekend spent with friends. Enjoy the photos!
 The house, pool, lake and dock! 

 Playing horse in the pool.

Little hot tub, little beer, little bloody mary.

Texas Hold 'Em. Winning!

that's me on the bottom right...going toward shore.

Infinity pooling it. 

Drinks at Sunset on our last night before the storm rolled in.
Enough said.

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Wedding Wednesday: Recap!

I figured since I got behind on my weekend updates, the perfect time to update you on the fabulous wedding we went to about a week ago would be today....Wedding Wednesday!

I attempted a DIY for the rehearsal dinner. Turned out OK!

On August 23, we watched two of our best friends say "I do" at the beautiful Café Brauer at the Lincoln Park Zoo. I'll interject here and tell you that when we were looking at Chicago-based venues, this was the one we wanted. It's absolutely beautiful, and Kate and Matt chose the perfect décor to complement the venue.


The ceremony was outdoors, with a lovely view of the skyline and the park within the zoo as a backdrop. The space was adorned with branches, flowers and twinkle lights, which was perfect for the 6pm start time.


Bryan stood up in the wedding; and and the men wore gray suits with green ties, while the ladies were classy in gray dresses with green flowers.


Kate and Matt chose not to see each other before the ceremony, so the minute they saw each other at the ceremony was a special one. Matt was definitely emotional and Kate just looked radiant, calm and happy as she walked toward the groom. She was STUNNING! A truly classic bride.


After the short, but sweet, ceremony, we enjoyed a lovely outdoor cocktail hour while the wedding party took photos. Bridal party entrances, speeches, dances, cake cutting all followed in a staggered manner throughout dinner that I loved. The food was fantastic, the wine was delicious, the music was classic...all in all a lovely dinner reception.


And then came the dancing, and OH did we dance. The DJ was unreal. He played the best music I think I've ever heard at a wedding, and we didn't leave the dance floor all night! My girlfriend Sara and I agreed that this was one of the best weddings we'd ever been to.


Congratulations to Kate & Matt! Enjoy the photos :)

Little Bit of Class Little Bit of Sass
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Happy September! AKA Best Month Ever

OMG, HI!



That's the sound of me, exhaling the deepest breath you can imagine. The summer is finally over. Normally I wouldn't rejoice, but this year, I am. After 9 weeks of nonstop activity—traveling, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, weddings, visitors, trips home—I can finally stop. Briefly, anyway.

AND it's September, which means it's my birthday month! In just 25 days, I will enter the next decade of my life, and I plan to embrace it with open arms.

September is the best month, not only because it's my birthday, but because football season starts, fall weather starts to kick in, and so does fall fashion (BOOTS!)

This fall, we have a few things on our agenda. My 30th birthday party, for one. The first weekend in October, my entire family is headed to Green Bay, Wisconsin to attend my first Packers game! Another wedding in November. AND we just booked a trip to Europe—again!

People keep asking why we are going back to Europe (we just went last winter), and I don't really understand the question. Why wouldn't we go? We love traveling, we can afford to do so (thanks to the husband being a frequent traveler for work, the majority of our trips are paid for on points/miles), we don't have kids at this point, we can get the time off work...the list goes on. As we see it, now is the time to take advantage of situations like this. We won't be childless forever (hopefully), so why not do it while we can? As I said a few months ago...YOLO.

So, back to Europe we go, this time over Thanksgiving, and this time to Spain and Portugal. I can't wait. I lived in Santiago de Compostela for 5 months during college and it was the best 5 months of my life. So this time around, I'll be visiting some new places with Bryan that we've never been, and I'll show him some of my favorite cities. As all of our trips tend to be, mostly because we're together, I'm sure it will be fabulous!

Tomorrow, I'll update you on our dear friends' wedding from a couple of weeks ago, and later this week, I'll share some fantastic photos from our Labor Day weekend in Lake Geneva, WI.

I hope you all had a FANTASTIC weekend and first day back at work.

XOXO
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