Winter is a season of recovery and preparation.-Paul Theroux

Christmas wasn’t as magical as it usually feels. I was still lucky enough to see many people I love over the holidays and for that I am grateful. December was incredibly busy and January is looking like things will calm down soon which is great. Winter SHOULD be a season of recovery and preparation–I don’t think I could have found a more appropriate quote to describe my feelings about the season. It’s all the best time of year for soup and awesome rich foods, which I love.

During December, I spent time with family and friends pretty much the entire month. Matt and I won tickets in the lottery to see Christmas at DePaul which was so great! Shout out to Laura for killin’ it on the oboe:

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I was able to bake with mom, Sarah, and Lauren. It was Lauren’s first time making Potica! Not our recipe, but gives you an idea. The picture on the right is my mom instructing Lauren on kneading:

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My mom is AWESOME and was able to score tickets to Hamilton in Chicago. Mom, Tammy, Sarah, Matt, and I went to Christkindlmarket to enjoy some spiced warm wine then looked at the Macy’s Christmas window display before the performance. This show was so great. It’s really an introduction to a shift in musical theater. I am sooo lucky to have been able to see it so early. I didn’t realize how weird it is that I’ve always been able to do that growing up (Lion King, Wicked, Book of Mormon). #blessed.

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We went to Matt’s family Christmas Celebration and played 7-11 after the show. It was such a nice day! So glad to have been able to see everyone. I made Santa hat cheesecake bites (SO GOOD), but forgot a photo. The collage below includes a bunch of things from the Christmas season. Starting at the top left: Dan’s Candies (truffles & dark chocolate dandies/turtles), Nola playing with Emma at Zarobsky Family Christmas, A Festivus Pole at Empirical Brewery’s taproom, Snickers by the tree, Rob trying on an “old man mask” that he “won” in 7-11, The STOP-IT Team (minus Rachel) at our bowling work Christmas party, my mom’s tree, s’mores cookies (baked for my team’s Christmas party at my apartment), and the gift I received from my Reddit Secret Santa (yes, I’ve had a good experience two years in a row being matched with a stranger on the internet and exchanging gifts with them and others)(my Reddit Secret Santa got me a “travel kit” with which to visit Eastern Europe–ADORABLE).

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Here are some more photos from the season. Again, starting at the top left: Matt decorating the tree, Southwestern Pinwheels (for a Christmas get together at Andi’s), my gift for my Reddit Secret Santa, Christmas cards (best part of the season), my cozy ass apartment all decorated, Cranberry & Rosemary White Christmas Sangria (for our annual get together at Alec’s),  gifts wrapped and ready to go, a small cute “holiday survival kit” from the neighbors (truffles and chamomile tea to relax during the hectic season), and my Department 56 village.

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Instead of the zoo this year, my family took a trip to the Morton Arboretum Illumination (Light Display). It was fantastic!

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We spent Christmas Eve at Kim and Kerry’s house and my family came (Mom, Sarah, and Buddy). I made a Christmas Tree of garlic knots which was super tasty (Kim served homemade pizzas, so I went with the theme). Christmas is so fun with little ones around! Somehow, I didn’t get a picture of Kenzie, but here’s a few of the rest of our awesome nieces. We also tried to watch It’s a Wonderful Life, but fell asleep almost immediately after turning it on this year:

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Christmas Day was alright, mom got the stomach flu (which I then came down with the next day–what a nice break -.-). It was just a day of hanging out and eating, but we saw the family and went over to Uncle Joe’s to bring his gifts.

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I took a few really nice walks when I was on vacation (after the puking was over):

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Sara and Rob were in town for New Year’s Eve! I missed them so much! I’m looking forward to when they’re closer. Kindred spirits, you know? Sabrina hosted and we knew quite a few people at the party (special shout out to Annette and Nick!), so that was nice. She had all of the details planned out and it was so sweet! Matt and Rob started eating meatballs directly from the crock pot by the end of the night (top right).

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Sara got a sweet new camera and took some nice quality shots of Matt and I (thanks girl!). Of course, we screwed around for some of them but they turned out pretty darn cute:

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Great way to end the year! You know what was a great way to start the new year? With Matt brewing beer with his brother Mark and Shannon and I hanging with the girls. And of course, eating steak and lobster.

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The last fun thing I did to ride out the end of the holiday season (January 8–it’s close, the Epiphany ends the Christmas season right??) was to see The Little Mermaid at the Paramount with Sarah, Mom and Lauren. Such quality performances there!

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I hope you all had a great Christmas season and that you haven’t crashed TOO hard after the holiday season!

Amanda

 

 

“Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.” -William Cullen Bryant

Ah, the end of summer and beginning of fall! Celebrations and more celebrations have been what I’ve been up to.

Summer ended with lots of outdoor time, some in the suburbs with family, some by Lake Michigan down the street. At the beginning of summer/outdoor yoga season, I started taking pictures at each outdoor class I attended. These are the best of the bunch, but also give you an idea of the serenity that is an outdoor practice:

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Self-care is so important! It’s been really busy and stressful at work, but I’ve been making it a priority to take care of my body and mind with exercise, enough sleep, and (mostly) quality food (with a pizza thrown in here and there because that can be self-care too). Labor Day weekend, I saw outside with the family for awhile. Here is my mom, tending a fire with dead leaves while denying she’s burning them:

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Posted for the hilarity. Matt and I had Emily and Alec over for an awesome home-cooked meal. Matt made the pasta and sauce, I made the bread and mango mousse parfait (that in season fruit though). Yes, be jealous.

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What should you NOT be jealous of? Well, when we made this and I was trying to take pictures, I definitely dropped my phone into a pot of boiling water. somehow, after 5 days in rice, it ACTUALLY WORKS AGAIN. I can’t believe it. Life is good. I drew the lucky Monopoly card of prosperity instead of owing money. We spent one more day grilling on the lake before it started getting too dark too early for outdoor dinners in the park:

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I saw the Wandering Uterus Project exhibit–it is influenced by the ancient Greek idea that the uterus is a living thing that controls a woman’s emotions while wandering through out bodies to do so. This modern take uses a feminist framework to take a look at reproductive justice. Check out more info at the link above! This exhibit was at Awakenings Foundation, which is an AWESOME organization focusing on art created by survivors of sexual violence. They are a great partner to the program I work for. You should go there too! Here is a sneak peak of the exhibit:

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This was SO COOL to see in person.  Onto the celebrations! Matt, my mom, and myself were lucky enough to be invited as family friends to Nathan and Lindsay’s wedding! Emily is a very close childhood friend of mine and it was great to celebrate with her fun family:

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Clearly, Matt and I like to dance. I was also lucky enough to be able to go to both the bridal shower and bachelorette party for another awesome lady I’ve known for years, Kim Miller!

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The theme for the Bachelorette Party was 80s and purple, so I made my hair as big as I could and slapped on heavier make up than I usually wear and hit the town with the ladies! The Baton Show Lounge was fun (I love a good drag show) and dancing the night away after was also a great time. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make the wedding in Punta Cana next month, but am so happy I was able to celebrate with this old friend!

You’re probably like “oh good, that’s the last of celebrating love we will hear about in this post!” NOPE. Matt and I were also able to take a trip up to Kalamazoo at the beginning of October to celebrate friends from college getting married! Paige and Jeff! It was SUCH a nice ceremony and a really fun night with those two and a few other friends I hadn’t seen in ages:

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There, that’s it for the celebrating ;). I am so happy to have such solid friends in my life and to keep those contacts. The older I get, the more I realize how rare this is. What luck, to be able to celebrate such huge life milestones with loved ones. Speaking of loved ones, I did get to spend the day with Kim and the girls (Nola, Kenzie, and Emma) at the beginning of September:

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They are so cute! I love the bottom one with Nola trying to feed Emma water because “she seems so thirsty”. Adorable. We, of course, took our annual apple picking trip with Emily and Alec which was a lot of fun and got me in the mood for fall:

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That bottom middle picture is an apple cider donut with ice cream, whipped cream, honey, and cinnamon on top…so there’s that. We also did the political “Trump vs Clinton vs Dory” corn maze. Dory, by far, had the most votes for president:

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Such fun with good people. The last adventure was mom, Sarah and I going to see Mama Mia! at the Paramount Theater,where we are season ticket holders. Life has been so busy, it was really nice to just go see a show with my awesome family and share a meal afterwards.

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More fall adventures are to come, including a romantic getaway in Michigan this weekend. I can use the relaxation. Until next time, I will leave you with this picture of a squirrel I saw holding a cookie on a walk last weekend:

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Cheers,

Amanda

 

Rainy June

It’s the end of June! Because we have such short summers in Chicago, I tend to jam pack my free time…leading to stress, but fun.

I spent the first half of the summer playing beach volleyball at Montrose Beach through S3 Leagues. Basically, it’s a league to make friends or find single people–I joined the “simply social” part because I don’t need another lover ;). We ended up getting 4th out of 8 teams but had a good time. We’ve signed up for the next session together!

Beach Volleyball team

Outside of volleyball, I started the month going to the Purity Ring Concert at the Riviera. It was my first time seeing a show there, but I thought it was a good time.

Here is a crappy picture of the concert:

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Here is a much better shot of the group (Sara, Chris, Me, Sabrina):

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The same week was Emily’s birthday! Yay! I think that’s the latest I’ve stayed out on a week night in awhile. We were able to celebrate at Delilah’s which is one of her favorite bars in the city. What a fun night! Here we are celebrating! (Sean, Laura, Matt, Alec, Emily, me and Andy):

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The next weekend I went to “Brew to Be Wild” at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Craft beer fest at the zoo? Sign me up! However…my experience/review? HORRIBLE EVENT. The lines were wayyyyy too long–about 30 minute wait per 3oz sample. THEN it started raining. Good thing I was there with fabulous people. Here is a picture of my soaked/miserable sister and I:

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The next weekend was a MUCH better day weather wise and line wise. Matt and I went on a double day date with Sean and Molly to Whiskey, Wine, and Swine at Montrose Beach hosted by Players Sport & Social Group. It was a pig roast on the beach with samples of whiskey and wine and a serving of the pig. Lots of people complained about that event because of  the lines, but they clearly didn’t go to Brew to Be Wild the weekend before. Comparatively, this event was great! We even got pig noses:

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Which I then used to sniff the whiskey:

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This past weekend, Matt’s cousin Kris married his beautiful (now) wife, Natalie. Matt was given the privilege to read at the ceremony and he did a great job! Natalie looked gorgeous, Kris, dapper, and everything went off without a hitch (or without attendees knowing about the “hitch”). Lovely ceremony, great food, and fantastic company.

I was able to help my mom at St. Joseph Church’s Homecoming Picnic this past Sunday. Basically, we have gone to these picnics at “the park” our entire lives. The picnics benefit a different local group every week and involve lots of food, drink, and polka. It ends up being a big cultural blend of our Slovenian heritage and our American church members. For examples, folks making homemade Slivovitz and playing the button box:

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This homecoming picnic begins the 125th anniversary of the church’s founding, so you can bet it was a blast! They even had anniversary mugs:

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It was a nice day spent with my family and Matt working the Vegas Booth (pull tabs) raising money for the church. Here is Buddy, Aunt Nancy, and Mom:

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Last night I ended the month with the girls at Paint Nite. Pretty much, you get to go and paint at a bar with your friends. I had such a relaxing/awesome time! I would definitely do this again. Check out my sweet art work:

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And here is a picture of our group (Annette, Isha, me, Sara and Paige):

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Ready for mini vacations and fun in July!

Amanda