Monday, November 30, 2015

Our Halloween & my birthday! {2015}

Halloween? But Alex, we all just celebrated Thanksgiving. I know, I know, and if I were you I'd skip right over this post as well since I have a strict rule about keeping holidays during their respective time frames (like Christmas in July? How dare you. Keep Christmas in December where it belongs), but since I never got around to recapping our Halloween I wanted to document it here.

So, this week shall be named the Week of Recaps since I also want to recap my birthday as well as Thanksgiving. 

Getting into the recap...

This year for Halloween Sammy and I went back and forth on whether or not we would stay home or go out with friends. Since I wanted to stay home from the get go I was thrilled when some of the plans our friends had fell through "which forced us to stay home" ;) 

I mentioned on the blog that I wanted to make a couple festive food items so I headed over to Pinterest, which is my obsession, and got a few ideas. 

I did nachos (half with steak for Sammy and half without for me) complete with sour cream spider web and fake spider. I also made mini cheeseburgers for Sammy and cheese pizza rolls for me since we're all about that high caloric life.

For dessert I did mini caramel apples which were a pain in ass and barely turned out (I had to make a caramel dipping sauce for them since the caramel wouldn't stick to the actual apple). I also made Halloween funfetti brownies since Sammy loves funfetti and brownies and I love anything with a holiday touch. He ate them despite them being rock hard. Bless his heart. And then those stupid ass cookies the sell at every store for every holiday which he also loves. I ate none of this. Except one disappointing apple.

This was our little set up. I grabbed the festive napkins and straws from the $1 section at Target. God. Bless. It. and we watched The Nightmare Before Christmas because I had never seen it (still not a fan) and Willy Wonka because it's a classic (a HUGE fan). I also made a sparkling apple cider sangria which was so delicious. 

I also made "Harvest Trail Mix" which was supposed to have Bugles in it but I couldn't find them at Target so I replaced them with goldfish because goldfish are bomb. 


Since I still wanted to be somewhat festive I grabbed these onesies at Target and this Marvel family went DC for Halloween this year. Felt like a traitor but whatever. I felt more festive passing out candy to the five kids that stopped by my house (like what happened to all the children? We never get any trick-or-treaters anymore). Also, I was so comfortable all night. Onesies are great. 

My brother happened to be wearing a Joker onesie he was going to wear when he went out with his friends when Sammy came over so I made them take a picture together since their costumes actually matched.

And we spent the night eating, watching movies, and cuddling with this little man as we do many nights. 

For dessert I made oreo hot chocolate (with the orange Halloween oreos of course) because clearly I have a death wish.


And at some point during the evening I got these photos of my cousin's child as a giraffe and I was rendered catatonic as a result of the cuteness. Look at this face. I can't. 

So, the next day was my birthday! I started out by going to breakfast with my parents and my brother (my sister was out of town) and my aunt actually met us as well which was so nice.

One of Sammy's little league playoff games ended up falling on my birthday, so when I got home from breakfast I headed over to the field to watch the game (where they won, of course) and got to see friends and some of Sammy's family.

Sammy's brother and SIL came with their new puppy Lucy! She's so cute & I was so glad I captured this family picture of them. 

After the game I went home to change and then Sammy picked me up to spend a little time together alone. We got smoothies and walked around the outdoor mall where I got some Sephora goodies and where we were meeting the rest of my family to see a movie later. 


Got a Christmas sneak peak at Crate & Barrel (my favorite store ever) and my little Sephora haul there. I got two new Sephora facial masks and have tried one already and loved it. They're only $5 a piece which is ridiculously cheap at Sephora. I also got the Origins Miracle Plus Moisturizer. I'm such a lover of Origins and after trying a sample of that product I knew I needed it as part of my skin care regimen. I also grabbed the Clinique "Take Off the Day" makeup remover which I love and the Becca liquid highlight in the travel size area near the register which is where my credit card goes to die. I also got two NARS lip crayons as my birthday perk. 

Going to the movies is one of my very favorite things to do so I knew that would be a fun way to spend part of the day. We saw The Intern and I liked it a lot! I like Nancy Meyers a lot so I knew I'd like it. 

After the movie we all came back to my house and had dinner at home. I asked for pasta (HUGE shock) and told my family they could make whatever else they wanted because I would only be eating things made of carbs on my birthday. 

My mother turns it outttt every year with the princess decor for my dinner ;)


My gift from Sammy also included some princesses ;) He got me several fall candles cause the boy knows where it's at. Two more Disney movies for my collection, a Cinderella charm for my Pandora bracelet (it's a heart and one side are small little blue stone sparkles and the other side says "a dream is a wish your heart makes"), and three tickets to Disney on ice because we had promised my cousin we'd take her youngest to go see it and also so we wouldn't look like weirdo adults alone at a children's event like we did during the Marvel show but also because she's the greatest kid ever and I can't wait.

I also got some great books as pictured above and now have about 78 books I'm currently "reading". 

We sat around the table and had dinner, pumpkin pie for dessert (my fav!), and I opened some gifts before the night came to an end. It felt like a relaxing day even though I got to do a lot and see a lot of people which was so nice. My birthday is always a huge reminder of how seriously blessed I am. 

That weekend was such a nice couple of days and ones I want to remember so I'm grateful I have this space to document little details. Like love, and family, and pumpkin pie. 


Thursday, November 26, 2015

What's Up, Wednesday!

Linking up with Shay today!

What I'm eating this week: Straight killing my goal of eating mashed potatoes every day this week. I've packed them every day for lunch. Other than that I'm trying to stop my sudden urge to eat everything around me which I've been doing lately with a vengeance. It's bad people. Last night I ate potato chips and cottage cheese basically at the same time. Like stop, Alex. 

What I'm reminiscing about: In light of recent unfortunate events I've been reminiscing about my time in Paris this past June and how absolutely lovely it was. Praying for the people there as well as the people all over the world in Kenya, Syria, and anywhere else currently affected by the hatred of others. 

Looking out our bedroom window in Paris.
What I'm loving: All this free time I now have. I don't even know what to do with myself. I put my pajamas on at 5:30 last night after I worked out… 

What I've been up to: A lot relaxing since break has started, blogging and reading, and getting very excited for my favorite two holidays coming up. 

Our table settings by Grandma this year :)

What I'm dreading: Getting back into a regular workout schedule. I've been off the wagon for a while now and it's tough getting back on. Taebo kicked my ass last night. 

What I'm working on: Since I'm officially on break from school (#blessed) I'm currently focused on projects at work, while personally I'm working on getting into a better blogging schedule!

This is in the very optimistic hope that my desk ever looks this beautiful.
What I'm excited about: All the holiday magic!

What I'm watching/reading: I have so many shows to catch up on while I'm on break and have the time to do it. On the top of the list are The Mindy Project, Scandal, and the last season of Parks and Recreation. 

I'm currently reading about 72 books meaning I have them sitting in piles around my nightstand and bed and have read about a page of each. It's bad. Hoping to pick up Love May Fail by Matthew Quick (he wrote Silver Linings Playbook) and add it to the pile. It sounds awesome.

What I'm listening to: The Tracy Chapman Pandora station until midnight tomorrow night when Christmas music officially begins and will.not.stop. for the next month. Eeee! I can't wait!

What I'm wearing: Lots of turtlenecks, leggings, and boots. & I wore this cape today:

What I'm doing this weekend: A lot of eating.

What I'm looking forward to next month: I think it goes without saying what I'm looking forward to next month...

What else is new: Can I mention Christmas again? The Christmas season will be new tomorrow at midnight! ;)

Had to, obviously.
My favorite Christmas tradition: Ah, I have such a hard time choosing just one. I love picking out our Christmas trees, decorating the house, buying gifts with Sammy for the children we choose from the Angel Tree, our annual Christmas trip, making our annual gingerbread house, wrapping gifts while watching Home Alone, going to Dinkel's Bakery downtown with my Dad. There's so many! I just love Christmas so much.

Some photos from previous Christmases...

My Mom's tree and my Dad's tree. Could they be more different? (Is it a wonder why they're divorced? ;) )
Also, my father insists on getting the tree that most closely resembles the Charlie Brown tree. 

Us out shopping for our sweet angels.

With our gingerbread house one year.

Dinkel's Bakery!

Wrapping does my heart good. 


& that's what's up this Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A very thankful heart...

This is seriously my favorite time of year. The excitement is building and all the impending magic of the season is filling the air. I can't believe we're so close to Thanksgiving! I know all of us say that, and it always feels like it's snuck up on us, but it's definitely true for me this year. I can't wait!

This year has truly been a year of gratitude for me. Being aware of all my blessings has been something I've worked really hard on in the last two years and this year I've been trying to be even more aware of it. Having an awareness of your blessings can have the biggest impact on your mood and outlook on life (in my humble opinion). I am constantly reminded just how blessed I am and it's one of the most important exercises in my life. 

"interrupt worry with gratitude" 

That's one of my favorite quotes ever. Like everrrrruh. I just love it. It's gotten me out of some tough times when all I wanted to do was wallow in self pity and anxiety. I'm very grateful for coming across it. 

I'm so excited to link-up with everyone in The Blogging Elite today to talk about all of our blessings (especially with Thanksgiving right around the corner)! So many good vibes are about to happen right now. 

Some of my blessings are serious, some are silly, and less important, but I'm thankful for all of them, big and small.

// I'm grateful, first and foremost, for my family. They're consistently putting up with my shit, always loving me, and always making me question how on earth I got so blessed to call them mine. & for my sweet pup Benny who makes every day all the more joyful. 

// for my guy. For making me laugh, for always quoting Home Alone with me, and for showing me how cool Liam Neeson is. I love our little family the two of us have created. I am forever blessed for all that he does. Mostly for the Liam Neeson thing.

// for my friends. The old ones, the new ones (like Donna!), the ones I talk to every day, and the ones I may only see a few times a year. Thanks for always being there to listen and to get Chipotle. 

// for God who always welcomes me with open arms.

// for my job. I'm so grateful to have been accepted by such a wonderful company where I'm surrounded by such creativity I'm amazed by on a daily basis. 

// for being in graduate school. Having the ability to learn every single day is a blessing many unfairly go without and I never take it for granted. 

// for books and the wonderful worlds they provide.

// for an able body that is healthy and has the ability to grow and heal itself and learn and observe. Thankful for my health

// for the health of all my loved ones. That comes before my own health.

// for food. For the ability to enjoy it and the resources to access it easily. Specifically pasta, good bread, and ALL THE CARBS, Doritos, cream cheese, meat alternative products (ew shut up I know), fruit that's in season, tortilla chips and queso dip, Trader Joe's cheese tamales, Kraft Mac & Cheese, Coca Cola in a glass bottle, stuffing, all the potatoes ever, so basically all the food in the world.

// for Trader Joe's because it's the greatest place ever.

// and for Target because that's literally the greatest place ever. 

// for the bed I sleep in at night and the home I can always come back to.

// for all the people who are constantly listening to me ramble on, and on, and on. I am grateful for your unmeasured patience. 

// for the ability to share my words, freely, with the world.

// for all the blogs I read and am obsessed with. They've, maybe weirdly, gotten me through some difficult days. Speaking specifically to Cupcakes & Cashmere, Cup of Jo, Little Baby Garvin, Love Taza, A Liz Adventures, Carolina Charm, and Tea Time with Tess

// for turtle necks, for any pants with elastic waists, for jeans that don't cut off my circulation (holler new jeans I found at Old Navy holler), a great pair of heels, and all the scarves. 

// for the ability to travel and see the world and for coming back to the greatest country on earth, for even with it's flaws it is my home. And for the women and men who eat holiday meals alone, and spend their days missing their families, in order to protect the freedoms this country stands for. I am grateful for you all more than you know. 

// for Disney, Julie Andrews, Sarah Jessica Parker, Julia Roberts, Nora Ephron, Ernest Hemingway, Audrey Hepburn, Diane Keaton, Monet, Barack and Hilary, Mindy Kaling, Gene Kelly, David Foster Wallace, Fitzgerald, Anne Lamott and all the artists who have inspired me with their words and talent. 

// for music that makes my heart sing and my body move (even if it results in me thoroughly embarrassing myself..) 

// for Frank Sinatra's birth.

// for a cold glass of Lambrusco red wine or Hofbräuhaus Pale Lager.

// for all the holiday memories I have made and will make this year. 

// for my gorgeous city of Chicago. For Wrigley Field, The Cubs, and the nachos.

// for the magic of going to the movies. Also, movie theatre popcorn. The most magical of all. 

// for a good vampy lipstick, a killer cheekbone highlight, and big ol' lashes. 

// for The Golden Girls or Sex and the City every night before bed.

// for good hair days.

// for all the women before me who fought for the equality we all deserve. I will strive to continue the fight you began. Eternally grateful for you bad bitches. 

// for children and for dreams.


This list could go on and on and that's what's so amazing about life. We have so many blessings we could easily fill up pages writing them all down. It's so lovely to stand back and look at all the things that make life so enjoyable. 

I can't wait to read everyone else's lists! I hope everyone has a warm Thanksgiving and weekend filled with many, many blessings. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

day in the life: [work + grad student edition]

I love (like LOVE) reading "Day in My Life" posts, or watching them on YouTube, so I wanted to document this weirdo, crazy schedule I have as a full-time graduate student and part-time editorial assistant. I know I'm only going to have this schedule for a short time in my life, so even though it's kind of nutty I want to remember it. 

Excuse the time stamped snapchat photos but I figured it would be a good way of getting a glimpse of what I'm doing at certain points in the day. This specific day is a day when I go to work and go to school. On the two days I'm off during the week they mostly consist of sleeping in, working on homework all day, doing laundry, clean up, and meal prep which is kind of boring compared to my other days, which feel like a whirlwind. 

Below is typically how my days go...

6:40 am: Wake up, get ready, last minute organization like packing my bag or snacks for the day if I didn't do it the night before.
7:15 am: Leave the house.
8:00 am: When I try to get to work. I spend my mornings getting caught up on emails, checking spreadsheets, working on various projects, reading acquisitions, or going to AM meetings. 

Our department is waiting to expand into a new space our company is taking over, so in the meantime I don't have a conventional desk. I'm so excited to decorate my own space once we move over there in February! This was a day when I brought breakfast to work which was organic oatmeal and a cut up banana. I almost always have coffee or tea throughout the morning at my desk. I try not to snack on the other goodies people always bring into work but it never works. I really love snacks. 

12:30 pm: I usually have lunch around this time with two coworkers I really like a lot. I'm so glad they invited me to eat with them on my first day as an official employee here (when I was an intern I sat at a different part of the office so I typically ate at my desk alone). We try to sit outside when it's nice out but lately we've been in the cafeteria since it's gettin' chillier outside! 
1:15 pm: Back at my desk. I'm typically working on larger projects for the rest of the day.
3:30 pm: I pack up my bag, leave work, and walk over to to the train station right behind our office.
3:51 pm: I get on the Metra train.
4:25 pm: I usually get downtown around this time and then I'll walk to my next train. If I need to run an errand, or grab a coffee, I'll do that before I get on the "L". 

This is my view from the platform waiting for the "L". I just love this city. 

5:00 pm: Get on campus (usually a little after 5). How I spend my time before my class depends on the day. Sometimes I'll meet my girlfriend on campus and catch up and have dinner with her, but other times I'll sit outside my classroom and eat a dinner I've packed and spend time on my computer or prepping for class discussion.
6:00 pm: Class starts. This quarter I took ENG 407: Language and Style, ENG 432: Restoration and 18th Century Drama, and ENG 490: Magazine Writing. 
9:00 pm: I get out of class around 9 and hang around campus doing homework until I can leave for my train.
9:40 pm: Leave for the "L".
10:05 pm: Get downtown and walk to Metra train.
10:15: Get on Metra train for the 10:30 departure.
11:15: Get off train.
11:45: Finally get home! Even though it's late, and I have to get up the next morning before 7am, I try to spend a little time winding down at home and then take a shower, lay out outfit for next day, pack lunch (if I feel like it otherwise I buy at work), and then finally get to sleep!

Sometimes when I get to campus in the evening I don't have time or feel like eating dinner so when I get home, even at midnight, I'l eat something. This night I had apples and peanut butter and a Trader Joe's reduced guilt mac & cheese frozen dinner. It's a terrible time to eat but if I'm hungry I'm not the kind of person that's not going to eat just 'cause of the time haha. This is a perfect example of why I can't wait for break because I'll be able to get back into better eating habits. 

And if after seeing that picture of my mac & cheese dinner anyone thought of the movie scene below WE ARE NOW BEST FRIENDS.

So, that's what my week looks like! It's hectic and kind of crazy, but I try to remember how blessed I am to have a job, and the ability to go to school, so I try not to complain too much ;)

Now that I'm on break (starting today!!) my schedule will consist of work, binge watching shows, obsessing over the holidays (like crazy woman obsessing like let's make shopping lists and get our Christmas tree tomorrow and leave it up till March and lets make stuffing everyday for lunch and lets have Home Alone on constant loop on the tv and only Christmas music from now on and everything peppermint amen), and getting to spend much more time with my family and friends. 

Ahh, bliss. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Five on Friday

It has been one of those weeks. There's been a lot of stress, worry, and sadness about my own (selfish) stuff and for the world. I haven't even been able to go on social media much this week, especially Facebook, where it seems my feed has been commandeered by political and religious posts of all sorts. It's been overwhelming, and frustrating, but mostly sad. 

Praying for our world and our people much harder this week. After all, we are all one together, as not much separates us from one another. 

Hoping to lighten the mood a little with this Five on Friday round up list…

One // A Superbowl Win!

Sammy's little league won their Superbowl last weekend! It was such a fun game to watch and the kids were so excited to have won. The coaches were a little excited as well ;)


Yay sports! Yay girlfriends who put up with them! ;)

Two // Home Alone Recap

I've mentioned it several times here on the blog, so #sorrynotsorry for the repetition, but anyone who knows me knows how much I love Home Alone, so when it was announced they were bringing it to the theaters for its anniversary this year I bought tickets immediately. Not only is it my favorite Christmas movie, but it's also on the list of my top five favorite movies of all time. Seriously. I love it that much. 


It was only playing on a Sunday night so Sammy and I had an unusual Sunday date night which ended up being so nice. We should do them more often. *mental note*

We had a quick dinner at Pei Wei, did a little impromptu Christmas shopping in the stores around the theatre, and then met friends for the movie! Ironically, we had seen Home Alone in theaters last year when we took our annual Christmas trip, and they happened to be playing it for free in their local movie theatre, but seeing it on the big screen never gets old, so we were thrilled to see it again. Thank God Sammy loves the movie almost as much as I do otherwise I would be insufferable (like more than usual). Also, I wore my sweatshirt that says "Merry Christmas Ya Filthy Animal" on it. I also have it in a long sleeve shirt. Told ya. Obsessed. 

Three // Jen & Alex Day

Jen is my closest friend from undergrad. I talk to her almost every day and she quite literally saved my life. Okay, that's a little dramatic, but also not entirely far off. I met Jen during the first year I decided to start commuting to school (as opposed to living on campus). I was going through a tough time feeling like I wasn't living the "college life" by living at home, missing out on a lot because all the friends I had made my first year had gotten apartments and seemed to have it all figured out, and honestly, commuting is kind of an isolating experience. I've grown to love it now because I appreciate the alone time to sit and put my headphones in and just chill for that part of my hectic day, but before I got used to it I was decently lonely. 

We had taken a writing workshop together, and every time she walked into class I used to get slightly annoyed because she always looked so put together, and I always looked like I gave zero shits, but we talked one day after class and the rest is history. She made coming to school so much more enjoyable for me. I always have someone to vent to about the writing process, school, and everything else in life. She's one of those friends that once you met them you wonder how you did life without them. And that's the romantic history of Jen & Alex ;) I know that was long, but she means a lot to me, and I don't tell her enough, so Jen, if you're reading this… thanks for everything, Knope. 

Anyyyyway, we have a tradition on the last day of classes that we see each other where we go to the sandwich shop on campus that makes a sandwich called "The Pilgrim", which has turkey, stuffing, mayo, and cranberries on it (one of the only times I eat meat during the year), and it's incredible. Then we walk twenty minutes to the Bath & Body Works and buy over priced candles, and then stop at Starbucks before class to get some kind of festive, also over priced drink (although Jen gets a discount which she lets me use soooo also why she's great ;) ). 

It's one of my favorite days during the holidays and one I hope we can continue even when we're not in school anymore as long as she stays in Chicago. You hear that Jen? STAY IN CHICAGO. 

Alright, enough obsessing about Jen.

Four // Finals

As if I haven't mentioned it enough finals week is this week. Luckily I have most of this list completed and am coming up to the tail end of it all. Last night, as I was complaining like a brat, I tried to do what I've trained myself to do when I start to worry or get anxious, which is to "interrupt worry with gratitude", so while I was complaining about my research paper I have to finish I reminded myself that this is probably the last academic paper I will ever write. Like ever. Which was kind of a bittersweet moment for me. I feel like that's super nerdy. Like really nerdy. But I was sufficiently less stressed after realizing that and had new motivation for getting it done. I keep saying that once I'm done forever in June I will definitely miss school, so I'm trying to hold on to some of this as long as I can. 

Five // Friendsgiving

Tonight, we're having a Friendsgiving at Chelsie's house and I'm very excited to sit back and eat, with a glass of wine, and chat with some of my favorite people. I'm in charge of bringing the mashed potatoes, which I'm stupidly pumped about, as well as pumpkin pie dip as a dessert. I'm also bringing cranberries even if I'm the only one who eats them because bitches love cranberries.

 I am seriously so blessed and I love moments like these to relish in all of those blessings. 


This weekend is going to be packed, packed, packed with stuff. All good stuff though, so I'm looking forward to it all. 

I hope your weekend is packed with all good things and blessings. 

*linking up with the lovely April!