Social Summer

Hi folks! Summer is just over a third over with *gasp*. Back to school items were even out at some stores (I intentionally tried to ignore this). I’ve decided to try out some collages for this blog post since quite a bit has happened and there are so many cute photos.

The past two months have involved lots of family time and lots of friend time, making for super social times. I spent quite a bit of time celebrating my awesome cousin, Lauren. My family is super close and we love to celebrate! Lauren graduated high school at the end of May. Luckily, I was able to come down and celebrate with her (and get tickets) on this super special day. I threw in a picture of her from prom too, because she looked so gorgeous!

My mom, sister, Uncle Mark, Uncle Buddy, and I threw her graduation party at my mom’s house in mid-June, so we certainly haven’t stopped celebrating :). We definitely missed her mom, my Aunt Nancy, but could feel her presence during each celebratory occasion:

Lauren Grad Collage

For her graduation gift, I made her a quilt out of t-shirts and dance costumes which is pictured below. I was nervous because of the different types of fabrics, but it turned out super cute, as you can see in the photo in the collage.  My sister got her the book, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Seuss and had everyone in our family write little notes of encouragement, which was a  thoughtful, great idea.

Gift Collage

I was also able to come down and watch her kill it at her last senior dance recital. La Danse Academie (my alma mater) put on a particularly spectacular performance this year. It was great to see Lauren go out with a bang and for my mom to celebrate her last time being the technical director of recitals. It’s the end of an era! The crew of LDA thanked my mom on stage which was also really cool to see.

Lauren Recital Collage

Speaking of family, Sarah, Mom, and I went to the White Sox game in the beginning of May to celebrate Sarah’s birthday and Mother’s day:

Mother's Day Sox Game 5.7.16

It was still freezing at that time (hard to remember when it’s 90 degrees out as I type this). In June, Matt and I also came down to Joliet for St. Joseph Park‘s Homecoming Fair. Neither of us are religious, but it’s always nice to spend time in a community of folks you’re comfortable with. St. Joe’s is where I went to grade school and it has a community of Slovenian American’s who still celebrate their heritage. It’s a feeling of comradery. We always help my mom run her pull tab booth the “Vegas Booth” at the fair. This year we roped Matt into selling them too:

Homecoming Fair 6.26.16.9

We had a nice time listening to polka and eating smokies (a smoked garlic-pork sausage, these are delicious and I’ve not heard of people eating them outside of eastern European cultures. Our favorite place to buy them in Joliet is Smolich’s. Sorry, they don’t have their own website so Yelp will have to do for a description of their baller smoked sausages). In addition to spending time with my family, Matt and I were also able to spend some time with his family so far this summer. We spent Memorial Day at his oldest brother’s house (Kerry).  One of the pictures below is of a drawing his oldest niece, Jill, drew of Steven Universe. Serious talent in that young lady. I can’t wait to see it develop even more as she gets older:

Memorial Day Collage

We also spent Father’s Day with Matt’s family at his other brother’s house (Mark).Always great to see them and Shannon’s family too-they’re a group of good people. I made a Greek 7 Layer Dip that was also a hit. We were able to spend a bit more time with Matt’s newest niece, Emma, too. All of the kids in this family are super cute. Here is a picture of Nola and Kenzie playing in the sand:

Father's Day 6.2016.5

Such cute little ones! So happy to get to see them and be involved in their lives. Seeing family was fun, but so was seeing friends! In May, I was able to spend a bit more time with Monica, Jim, Kaelie, and Maggie. It’s always good seeing old friends, chatting, and bonding. Sometimes it’s the people that have known you the longest that are the best to be around. I’m talking about you, Maggie:

Maggie 5.2016

I went to another Sox game, this time with Emily, Kaelie, and Emily’s work friends. I was also able to help Emily with her mom’s 50th birthday surprise party. See below for a photo of my sister, mom, and I utilizing the photo booth. The party was a good time and her mom was certainly surprised. Always good to see these ladies:

Emily Collage

I found a cat in the hallway last month. Outside of my third floor apartment. So weird, but it was the most hilarious way that I have woken Matt up in a long time:

Masi 6.2016

Turns out, her name was Masi and she just escaped from a neighbor’s apartment downstairs. Matt and I also played rec league softball this summer, which was super fun too. We made some friends, played some sports, and tied for first (in the bottom bracket–we didn’t win all season but killed it in the playoffs).

Softball League 6.2016

We ate quite a bit of awesome food–from our own kitchen and from other places. TL is Thug Kitchen‘s Cobb Salad with roasted chickpeas and smoky onions (THE BEST). TR is Blueberry Lemon Zest Pancakes (recipe by Trisha Yearwood). BL is pasta primavera (no actual recipe) with homemade pasta (Matt bought a pasta maker and it’s awesome). And BR is the avocado biscuit from Bang Bang Biscuits and Pie that just opened up it’s second location three blocks away (dangerous):

Food Collage

Matt and I took a week of vacation before Matt starts his new job as a practicing attorney (woo hoo!). We drove to Enid, Oklahoma to visit Sara and Rob at the air force base (Rob is amazingly training to be a pilot and Sara is amazingly furthering her career as a rape crisis counselor). It was really cool to be able to explore a state that we would have never randomly picked out to visit. We went on an accidental 8 mile hike (meant to do 3 miles, but missed a turn somewhere along the way) at Roman Nose State Park:

Vacation Enid, OK 7.2016.10

Seriously gorgeous views along the way! We rewarded ourselves with some of the best fried chicken I have ever had. Eischen‘s is known for being the oldest bar in OK and for having this amazing chicken. Between the four of us, we ate 2 whole chickens and an order of fried okra in 15 minutes flat. I’ve also included a picture BR of the huge smokers from Slap’s BBQ in Kansas City, KS that we stopped at for BBQ on the way in. That was some GREAT food!

Chicken Collage

We spent the third of July at one of Rob’s air force friend’s house and the fourth at their house. We watched fireworks (with live orchestra music), ate a ton, had some drinks, laughed a lot, and had a generally good-for-the-soul kind of trip:

Fourth of July Collage.jpg

On the way back home, we decided it would be a good idea to split the drive and stop in St. Louis, MO for a few days. This city was too great! I would consider moving there at some point. We stayed with our friend from college-times, Mike, who was an awesome host. He showed us around the neighborhoods and took us on a crawl to his favorite breweries.Throughout the day, we were able to have drinks at Urban Chestnut (my favorite I think!), Schlafly‘s Brewery, and 4 Hands Brewing. We also had some even more amazing BBQ at Pappy’s.

St Louis Beers Collage

The night we arrived in St. Louis, we found out another college friend, Hattie, was in town visiting her parents who recently moved there. We had some dinner with her at Square One and tried out International Tap House and Taste afterwards. It was so good to see and catch up with her while checking out some of the night life in St. Louis. The next day, Mike took us around to see some of the coolest places in St. Louis, like Forest Park, a huge amount of green space in the middle of the city right near all of the museums. We went and saw the arch and also got to go to a Cardinal’s game. They lost against the Pirates, but it was super neat to see their stadium and the area surrounding it.

St. Louis Friends Collage

Now we’re back in Chicago. I figured I should try to work off some of what I ate in the past week and went back to my first beach yoga class of the season at Montrose Beach. The person who taught the class today is also co-founder of a really cool community yoga initiative, Yoga Gardens, that exists to make yoga (and all the energy and peace that comes with it!) to impoverished neighborhoods in Chicago. It was the best class I’ve taken in a long time and I’m feeling centered after spending so much time upside down this morning. I’m excited for what the rest of the summer has to bring!

Namaste,

Amanda

Beach Yoga 7.2016.3

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