Our Christmas

Can you believe that today is the last day in 2010?

[Since I was out of town, I'm going to back track here and do a Christmas post]

After Thanksgiving, my camera hit the dust and I desperately wanted a nice, new camera for Christmas. After doing a lot of blogsearching, I found that a lot of my favorite bloggers use the Canon Rebel, so I was so happy to find a big box under the Christmas tree with my new camera inside!

Plus, I finally get to show you some pictures while NOT using an iphone! It's the gift that keeps on giving.

Christmas morning, after opening gifts with my family and making our traditional cinnamon rolls, we had my mom's side of the family over.

Christmas day is pretty casual and we spent the day eating lots of good food and playing games.
The game of the week was pictionary and it was a hit every time we played it.

We also tried to send this mini hot air balloon into the sky....and.....it......failed.

It was pretty darn funny though.


After Christmas, my family headed to Kohler (like the faucets) with our family friends

Kohler, Wisconsin is this quaint little town of perfection. It is the most perfect setting for Christmas time and we did it up right. Our first night there we took a horse drawn carriage through the town to look at all of the Christmas lights.

After the carriage ride we went to the "best restaurant in Kohler" called Trattoria Stephanos. And boy did it live up to its name. We had so much good food and wine, we literally had to be rolled back to the resort.

And after dinner, we pulled out Pictionary again and literally played until 1 in the morning.

The days were filled with spa services, books, toy stores, Scrabble, and enjoying the slower pace of life.

Now, it's back to reality. I feel refreshed and fulfilled after spending a lot of quality time with my family --- but....you can only take so much!! ;)


a year in review: winter

  • celebrated the holidays with friends and families at grown up holiday parties
  • starting to truly understand how to get around in the city
  • exploring different restaurants and meeting new people almost every weekend
  • we celebrated our first Christmas together in our apartment and started some of our own traditions
  • Joel and I had our own Christmas dinner at Fronterra in the loop and then opened each others gifts under the Christmas tree
  • Joel went to Tennessee to visit his family
  • my parents hosted Christmas eve and Christmas morning at our house
  • Right now, I'm in Kohler with my family and my God Family doing spa services, eating at great restaurants, hiking, and inevitably having a great time.
  • trying to eat better and it's been a struggle all month
  • had a visit from Joel's college roommate Reid
  • went to a comedy show
  • visited with family
  • Plan to stay home, just Joel and I, for New Years Eve and cook up a 4 course dinner. We have plans to lots of fun things all night like write letters to our future selves, have a beer tasting, and have a dessert cook off. Even though we are staying home, I am really looking forward to this.

Have a wonderful last day of 2010 and we'll talk again in 11!


a year in review: fall

  • We went to Greenville, South Carolina for Joel's friends (and now my friends too) wedding
  • We celebrated our first Halloween in our apartment and threw a 1st annual Halloween bash
  • I ran a 10k race with my cousin Amanda in 1:10hr
  • My cousin Liz got married
  • I got promoted to an Account Executive in advertising sales
  • My anxiety is almost non-existent
  • I couldn't be happier with my job decision. I love going into work every single day and love working in corporate America
  • We had Thanksgiving dinner with 40 people and at the dinner table went around saying what we are thankful for. My grandpa stood up, quoted Dean Martin, and said, "How lucky can one guy be"
  • We joined a wine club
  • Ran an 8k Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning (my 5th annual turkey trot)
  • Made dessert for Thanksgiving dinner, a trifle and pumpkin cupcakes


a year in review: summer

  • I graduated from the University of Iowa!
  • I celebrated my graduation with a party at home with everyone that I loved
  • We got a new puppy named Hayley. Same kind of dog as Comet and she made our house feel normal again
  • I moved to Chicago with my boyfriend
  • I made the decision that I was not going to be a teacher (for now)
  • My anxiety started to get a lot better
  • I took advantage of Chicago in the summer and went to street festivals, cubs games, and Lollapolooza
  • I got my first grown up job! An entry level sales position at a huge company on Michigan Avenue!
  • I started to meet a lot of new friends in the city and establish a core group of friends here
  • I said goodbye to my best friend Claire as she is spending the next year in Italy
  • I got a new car, a white Volkswagen Tiguan that I love


a year in review: Spring

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

I am still at home with my parents, and tomorrow I am off to Kohler, Wisconsin with the family for a few days at The American Club for some winter activities...please read wine and massages.

After the new year I will recap my amazing Christmas, and time in Kohler, but I wanted to first reflect on the many changes that have taken place in 2010.

2010 was a huge, huge year for me. It was a year of transition and unexpected changes and I want to summarize them here, so that I can look back, and realize how things can change in just 365 days.

I have scheduled posts for each season for the next few days and I reccomend to you that you go back and read posts from your blog a year ago, it really is eye opening.

  • I was living at home, finishing up my last semester of college, student teaching.
  • My plan was to be a 2nd grade teacher in the suburbs
  • Joel and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary in Destin, Florida
  • Joel's 1st nephew, Luke Kenneth, was born in March
  • We lost our puppy of ten years Comet
  • I was struggling with a lot of anxiety
  • A lot of the anxiety was due to student teaching. I wasn't loving what I was doing and was around a teacher who made me feel incompetent and unworthy.
  • I spent a lot of time at job fairs standing in long lines and attending job interviews to be a teacher
  • I turned 22


........and to all a good night

I'm home, with my sisters and parents, and we're ready for Christmas.

My parents are hosting both Christmas Eve and Christmas morning so things are a little hectic around here.

I hope each one of you that reads this has a safe and happy holiday with people that you love.

Farewell until after Christmas! MUAH!



I had a great weekend but there were so many great parts that I literally overdosed on the greatness.

Does that make any sense at all?

Bottom line: I'm just really exhausted.

Friday night, straight after work, Joel and I had a great dinner at that pizza spot I talked about a few posts ago. I seriously dream about their White Pizza with truffle oil and prosciutto. I seriously think it would be my last meal on earth if given the choice. After dinner we took a cab right over to meet my cousins at Zanies for a comedy show.

Saturday morning, we drove into Crystal Lake for holiday party #1 at Joel's parents. We had a great time catching up with his extended family but had to scoot out around 6 in order to make it back to the city in time for holiday party #2 at my girl Sara's.

We were a wee bit over served that night ---- I've found that I really like tequila shots, and they really don't like me back.

Sunday I woke up feeling like CRAPOLA. I didn't have anytime to recover before holiday party #3 of the weekend. It was Luke's (J's nephew) first Christmas so it was really sweet to be with him. He got lots of great Christmas books and pretty much has everyone wrapped around his fingers already. The kid is a freaking cutie.

Shields Boys

I was so tired when we got home at 10, and of course, could not fall asleep to save my life.

I pretty much went through the motions today at work and couldn't even enjoy holiday party #4 (I mean, 4 parties in 3 days is just too much for this grandma)!

I hate to be complaining about spending time with my friends and family, having fun drinking and eating and laughing, but my head is just spinning a little too fast right now. Hopefully after a good nights sleep tonight I'll be ready for round two because the agenda is pretty much packed in (with 3 more parties this week!) until the New Year.

But, to end on a good note:
Joel and I will not be spending Christmas together this year so tomorrow is our Christmas celebration. We are going ice skating at Millennium Park and having dinner at Top Chef Rick Bayless's restaurant Fronterra. We have heard SUCH good things about this place and I cannot wait to celebrate with Joely.


Thursday's Thoughts

  • What a week! I have been training from 8-5 for my new position in advertising and it has been information overload! I'm just now getting my head around it all, but I have a feeling I won't completely grasp everything until I start doing it on my own.
  • Joel and I are on a non-stop train and can't seem to get off. We haven't had a day that didn't have something going on.
  • This weekend is more of the same and I am just craving some time to chill out and relax
  • I have not exercised since Thanksgiving. Disgusting.
  • I also just spent the last 25 minutes eating like it was Thanksgiving
  • Thursday nights are my favorite because I am borderline obsessed with the Real Housewives
  • My hamper is overloaded right now and looks like it has more clothes in it than my closet. I trying to wait until I go home for Christmas (next Wednesday) so that I can use my mom's *free* washer and dryer
  • Did you hear that Mariah Carey is having twins? I'm happy for her...
  • I'm feeling really guilty about the fact that I just binged out.
  • Did you see the video about the scary shooter that came into the school board meeting in Florida and tried to kill the board of directors? I watched the whole thing with sound and have been absolutely horrified since seeing it. It is an incredibly graphic and scary video, but there are moments of heroism that truly show me that in a life or death situation, people are selfless and good. Click Here to see it, but please make sure you're not near any children. And THANK YOU GOD that no one, except the monster, were injured or killed.

I really hope you have a wonderful, wonderful Friday! TGIF(soon)



We turn to Hollywood for everything; fashion, trends, restaurants, hotels, hair stlyes, nail polish colors, etc.

They tell us what's in, and what's out. I am constantly buying magazines to see how "insert celeb here" designed her closet or where she ate last time she was in NYC. They forecast a lot of what we buy into.


One thing I do not want to go to Hollywood for is relationship advice.

What the heck is with all of these couples breaking up every other minute?

You know what, stop dating other actors and athletes. It. Clearly. Isn't. Working.

And also, while I'm on my soapbox, if the paparazzi bothers you so much, move out of L.A.!

Is marriage this disposable?

I hate to think that year after year, celebrities continue to make it seem like you can try out marriage for a little while (5 years being close to an eternity in their book), decide that you don't like, and dissolve a marriage without a second's thought.

It's sad, and I feel bad for every party involved, but with a 51% divorce rate in the United States, I think it's time that we look up to some better role models. We need people who can show us how to make relationships work because I am over hearing about "great" marriages in the limelight that can't even make it past year 3.

Moving on!


Snowy Sunday

Weekend Wrap Up

Friday: After work I went out with a group of friends to get dinner at drinks at Rockit in River North, Chicago. Little did I know that my friend Matt Damon would be having dinner at drinks at the same time.

And of course I did not see him. Just my luck!

My work friends and I ended up hanging out for the rest of the night and had a little too much fun. *see post below.

Saturday: The weather stunk! It was 35 degrees and pouring rain. I would have much perferred a little colder temps and some snow but God must have heard me complaining because he sure did serve me exactly that a good 24 hours later.

We ended up shopping on Michigan Ave to get all of our Christmas presents. I work on Michigan so I had a lot of fun acting like a tourist and enjoying all of the decorations and window displays. I had luck shopping and got almost all of my Christmas shopping done. I still have to get a grab-bag gift, but I think I can handle that at my lunch hour this week.

I'd love to show you what I found for my family, but since they may see this, I'll have to wait.

I did find a really nice decanter for Joel's parents at Crate & Barrel and I plan to gift it with a nice bottle of wine as well.

Saturday night we had a holiday party and I totally forgot to take any pictures. I didn't know many people at the party (Joel's work friends for the most part) but we ended up chatting with this really hilarious couple for most the night and the 4 of us sectioned off in the corner and spent the entire time laughing.

It was a different kind of party than we are used to at the ripe age of 22. It's hard to explain, but it just felt like an "older" party. I felt like it was a party more fitting for 30 year-olds. Which, to be fair, the host's boyfriend is 30. It actually doesn't bother me in the least since it's the party is more my scene than a packed bar.

I can get used to being dressed up, drinking champagne, and calling it a night before midnight.

Of course, we did end up going out to a bar with the couple we met at the party and stayed out drinking and eating until 3.

Sunday: It is a straight up blizzard right now in Chicago. If you need proof, turn on the Bears game. It's crazy! But don't fret! I've been holed up enjoying the views of the falling snow, wrapping presents, jamming out to Christmas tunes.

We're making a chili for tonight and plan to watch a movie and get into bed early.


I don't have to go into work tomorrow until 9 because...I was PROMOTED! So I am going to be enjoying a training schedule for the next couple weeks. Very lucky and very thankful!

I hope you had a great weekend too.

Only 13 more days until Christmas!!


Just a quicky

Hi! I hope your weekend is off to a blazing start....

Just had to share.

Went out with new work friends last night and got beyond....let's just say...."work appropriate".


Dancing...by myself?

In the windows?

Pretending to be cool?

Yeah....I'm embarrassed.

And hungover.


Holiday Parties

Here is what I'm channeling for inspiration for my upcoming Holiday parties:

They are all rocking similar looks and I hope to have a similar outfit for my first party of the holiday season this Friday