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A Very Chicago Weekend

23 Jul

I feel so fortunate for incredible weather this weekend! Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were gorgeous and I made the most of them all!

Friday night I grabbed drinks with my roommate and it turned into a late-night bar crawl. Saturday I woke up, ran around the city and enjoyed the sunshine then headed home to the suburbs for some QT with my fam, neighbors, and girlfriends. Kayla and I went on a bike ride around Busse Woods with two guys that I probably haven’t seen since 2005, so that was interesting. Of course with Facebook it feels like I’ve seen them every year since, so it was pretty normal.

After that Jamie, Lili, and Loredana joined us and the seven of us tried to play Risk (the 1975 version). We couldn’t figure out how to play and lost interest pretty quickly, but then one of the guys ran to his apartment to grab a game he plays with his family: Telestrations. It’s basically the game of telephone but with drawings. It sounds like it’d be pretty tame but it is actually unbelievably fun. There were seven of us adults playing (his game only supported six players, so one person had to be the timer) and we were crying from laughing so hard. If you buy the game I suggest making sure you play with as many people as possible!

I stayed at Kayla’s until about 12:30 and then ran back to my parents’ to drop my bike off and head back to the city.
Sunday morning I woke up at 9:30 and headed over to church before our scheduled beach day could begin. Jamie and Kayla came over and we loaded up my new bike cargo cart (the girls used Divvy) and we found a spot on North Ave. beach. I didn’t get to use my paddle board at the beach because it was just too crowded but it is one of my goals by the end of the summer.

Bike Cargo Trailer

After the beach we cleaned up and made our way to Jonquil Park (right by my place) to watch Ghostbusters. While we waited for the movie to start we ordered Lou Malnati’s, played Telestrations (this is when we learned the more people, the better) and hung out. It surprisingly got chilly by the end of the night but I love Movies in the Park no matter what.

Movies in the Park

In my opinion it was the perfect weekend!


Skiing in Wisconsin

9 Jan

I think the first time I went skiing was in fifth grade with girl scouts. We all bundled up and slipped down the bunny hills at Villa Olivia in suburban Chicago. Then, we nearly lost the skin off our hands getting pulled up the tug-rope thing they hike they use to hike you up and send you back down. After that I don’t think I touched another set of skis until 2009 when my class did a project in Boise, Idaho, and my small group tried to get some video footage of some Special Olympics skiers. My teammates convinced me I’d be fine and I most definitely wasn’t. I ended up walking down the ski hill.  The next day we went back to the Boise ski area and I took my time on the easiest hills and really made progress. Since then I decided I was going to love skiing.

Since I returned from college in Miami I’ve been going skiing in Wisconsin every winter. Unfortunately


Jamie, Kayla, Me

(or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) we haven’t had big snow (except the Snowpocolypse of 2011) so most of my skiing has been on the artificial mist they spray onto the hills.

This past weekend my friends and I went to our favorite slopes at Alpine Valley in Wisconsin. It’s not far from Lake Geneva, another popular vacation destination for us Chicagoans. I bought new snow pants from Athleta, a new Columbia lime green jacket, and wore my new Etsy crocheted/braided headband over my cover-all face mask thing to dress it up, of course. That damn headband kept falling off every time I took off my ski goggles but someone always handed it back to me.

We got on the slopes around 10:30 am and surprisingly it wasn’t too crowded. Everyone was ready for a break around 1:00 and when we were done warming up the crowds had arrived. It was pretty crowded during the afternoon runs so we finished up around 5:00 pm. On the final run of the day I found a secret little wooded area and sped down it only to incur my first and only wipe out of the day. I couldn’t find the exit!

After that run we all met up by the fireplace and took this cute little photo. And then guess what happened? I lost my headband! I didn’t notice til I got to the car, so I threw my stuff in the back and went back to search. By then the sun had started to set and I was hopeless. I asked lost and found but no one had turned it in yet.

And that’s how I lost my brand new headband.

Luckily, my favorite post-skiing activity is Giordano’s pizza. And pizza we had. It made me feel better.

Lake Geneva Triathlon Recap

16 Sep

Second triathlon… done!

The Lake Geneva tri was Saturday and it was awesome! Not as awesome at completing Pleasant Prarie with my friend, Jamie, but still awesome.

I had a doctor’s appointment and a dentist appointment on Friday and had the rest of the day to pack up and get to Lake Geneva to pick up my race info. I got to William’s Bay on Friday around 7:00 pm, grabbed my packet, and bought a sweet new swim bag and some anti-fog goggle spray. As it turns out, the goggle spray never made it home with me. To this moment I am still not sure where it went. That was a bummer.

I stayed at my neighbors’ lake house and we had some pizza and pineapple the night before and they helped me apply my tri tats (which still aren’t off my arms yet! HELP!). Then it was time to set my alarm for 4:30 am.

A funny thing happened at 4:30. I woke up, checked the weather, and it was 36 degrees outside. 36! It had been in the 90’s earlier this week and was a beautiful 60ish on Friday. What happened!? Luckily, they pushed the start time (6:30) back 45 minutes because they knew it was just too cold for people to be transitioning from water to bike, but unluckily we had to stand outside waiting from 5:30-8:15 when I finally went off. I’m grateful that by 8:15 the sun had come out and I had started to warm up a bit. Let’s get into the good stuff, though.

The Swim – 500 meters (1/3 mile)

The water temperature was about 72 degrees and I didn’t wear a wetsuit. At ankle-deep the water seems like bath water, so I thought I’d be fine, but as we waded a bit deeper I was regretting my choice to not wear a wetsuit. Since the swim was so short I thought I’d dominate, but I didn’t. Water got into my goggles and was driving me nuts the whole time. That was a real bummer because I could have done much better than I did.


I struggled to get my long sleeve shirt on over my wet body. Luckily I purchased some bike gloves because they had advised us to put our socks on our hands if we didn’t have any gloves – that’s how cold it was in the wooded areas we’d be riding through!

Bike (14.1 miles)

It was almost 9:00 so the weather was starting to get nicer. The course started with a huge climb uphill that I haven’t been training for. That was rough, but after that hill I was able to take on some smaller hills without any problems. The course was beautiful and scenic around Lake Delevan where my aunt has a cottage. I loved all the families on their driveways cheering us on! The only down side was that my bike computer wasn’t working so I never had a real grasp on how fast I was going, but I did set my Garmin so I had an estimate of the distance completed.

Lake Geneva Tri Bike

Lake Geneva Tri Bike


T2 is so simple for me since I’m not wearing bike shoes. I just drop my bike, throw on my shirt with my number on it and off I go!


The run was rough for me. I haven’t been training too much and it was very, very hilly. Plus, there were a ton of cars on the course! WTF?! I was pretty disappointed with my run time, but I know that’s where I need to focus next time.

Lake Geneva Tri Run

Lake Geneva Tri Run

Overall, a very fun, scenic race! So glad I did it. I was disappointed with the number of cars on the run course and the fact that at one point both lanes of run traffic (coming and going) had to share a single sidewalk (standard size) to get to and from the water station. That was poorly planned. Also, the name of the group that puts it on is called “TriRock” and our medals had a guitar which are both supposed to symbolize their use of music at the race but I really couldn’t tell you any point I heard music besides the finish line. I think they could beef that up a bit. Could have used some at the water station and along the hills on the run.

I’m grateful that my parents (and Lucy) came to see me finish, too. They got a few photos and then we headed back to our neighbors’ house to get ready for our other neighbors’ son’s wedding reception on a boat around Lake Geneva. The weather kept getting more beautiful and there were free drinks for my dehydrated body to soak in. It was a great time. We did some shopping in Downtown Lake Geneva and then I came back home and crashed!

Was anyone else at Lake Geneva for the tri? What did you think?


6 Sep

Well, I’ve been recovering from the bike that broke my heart (a second time) long enough, so it’s finally time to talk about the great float trip of 2013 (#floattrip13).

To say we got off to a rough start might be an understatement. We left my apartment at 8:45 (as planned) and immediately were pulled over by a state trooper (I like to say “ranger”) for not using a turn signal to merge lanes. The cop wasn’t too happy that we weren’t aware of the thousands of car accidents that happen on Chicago interstates due to turn signals, so this imaginary concersation may or may not have taken place:

Ranger: Do you girls watch the news

Blair: Do you watch the news, Sir? (in reference to her CNN Hero video playing all weekend)

The End. (applause)

So by the time we got a warning ticket (thank GOD!), dropped off Blair’s keys with her dad and filled our cooler with goodies, we were on our way through a very under-construction route to Wisconsin.

We arrived at the campsite about two hours after everyone else and immediately set up our tent and prepared to shuttle up to the top of the river.

Setting up the tent

Setting up the tent

We tied our tubes together (sounds weird, right?) and had two tubes just for the coolers and were off! I didn’t have my phone or camera with me so there’s no way to share the visuals of the glorious scenery, but it was pretty, and it took us abour 5 ½ hours to float down the whole river. It wouldn’t be five and a half hours of drinking without a little drama, amiright? Well we had plenty to go around and let’s just say everyone was ready to de-tube when we floated back to camp.

Much to everyone’s favor we were able to float right to the shore, leave our tubes, and walk to our campsite! Being the good float trip planner that I am, we booked our campsite early enough so we got sites one and two, the closest to the main lodge-place-thing and the bathrooms (very important).

After we changed out of our suits we grilled up some dinner, made s’mores, and sung songs. Ok, we actually didn’t sing anything. We DID all go to bed pretty early though.  Showin’ our age, I guess.

I did learn one new thing on this trip that I’d like to leave you with. It’s the term “FIB.” Does anyone know what it stands for? Apparently it’s what Wisconsinites call Illinoisians when we invade their fresh air. Effing Illinois Buttheads (use your imagination).

This FIB is OUT. I have so much more to recap, though, so expect more posts soon. Shakespeare, ukulele concert, Canes domination, etc. Speaking of Canes, you better WIN this weekend against Florida.

Pure Peach Picking

10 Aug

Last Sunday I went for my usual (ha!) 16 mile bike ride in Busse Woods at 7:30 am and showered and packed up the car to head to Berrien County, Michigan, with Kayla and Loredana. This is our third annual peach picking trip and it is going to be an age-old tradition, mark my words.

We accidentally took the scenic route (I’m so good at that) and veered towards 94 instead of 90 but it ended up working out for the best. On Saturday I had verified that our picking spot of 2011, Schaeffer’s Orchard, was open, but on Sunday we found out it wasn’t! Crazy! So we called our fall back and picking spot of 2012, Treemendous, and they were openf or business. As we were navigating towards Treemendous we stumbled across Frank’s orchard.

Peaches on the vine?

Peaches on the vine?

Frank’s had much smaller peaches to pick from, but they were only $1/pound. We wanted the big, juicy, ripe “eaters” so we still headed to Treemendous and got some sizable peaches. They were more expensive, $1.38/lb, and not eat-ready ripe, but we picked a ton and had a great time.

Third annual peach trip

Third annual peach trip

I’m a sucker for U-pick anything. In June I went strawberry picking in Wisconsin and in the fall I’ll go apple picking in northern Illinois.

Bad shadow - sorry!

Bad shadow – sorry!

After picking we tried to recreate our 2011 experience by going to Olympus diner – a hole in the wall with the BEST Corn Flake crusted French toast around. It didn’t disappoint!

What a long day! I came home, had dinner with my mom and then watched some Shark Week with the neighbors before heading back into the city for Monday morning.

To my Saturday readers (not sure if there are any) I’m on my way now to Pleasant Prarie for my first ever triathlon! I took Monday off of work to recover, but rest assured I’ll fill in the details when I’m back!

100th Annual Gerber Garage Sale

7 Aug

After work on Thursday I packed everything I’d need for the weekend (BSB, peach picking) and headed to the suburbs to make signs for our annual garage sale! I apologize in advance for no photos…

If I sound excited, you might have misread. I was kind of worn down and not looking forward to this garage sale since a lot of what we had to sell wasn’t worth a lot of money and we’re giving up two days to sit outside and wheel and deal.

There was rain Friday morning so we got off to a grouchy rough start. Once we opened, though, we were movin’! The day flew by and I was pretty happy with the success. Our neighbors (the kids) sold some of their toys and I was pretty impressed that Danny even sold a Nintendo 64 for $35 (including one game and 2 controllers!).

I sold some clothes, crafts, and knick knacks. My mom sold her old sewing desk (since she’s currently getting her sewing room completely redone), two TVs ($2 and $3 for working TVs – can you believe it!?), and other goodies we bought with the best of intentions and never used.

The biggest ticket items of the day were two air conditioner units from my parents’ and my bedrooms that had to be removed when we got new windows installed last year. These air conditioners typically sell for over $200, depending on where you get it, and we let them walk away for a cool $20 each. I think we let ourselves get ripped off, but my father, in his infinite wisdom, “just wanted them out.”

At the end of the two day sale we made close to $400, which sounds successful to me. We’re actually planning another one in September and are hoping to have the entire block participate to attract the most customers. It’s crazy that we have more stuff to get rid of, but if you know us, it’s not that crazy! Stay tuned for the 101st garage sale in the fall!

It’s August? Jazzin through the end of July…

6 Aug

It’s been a while since my last post but trust me, I’ve been as busy as ever.

Where did I leave off? Last Monday I had ukulele class, and then on Tuesday I met with the executive board for the UM Alumni Club. Wednesday I had plans to go to Jazzin’ at the Shedd (Aquarium)  with Kayla because she bought a Groupon (2 for 1) for it. Well, Wednesday was the last day of the Groupon so it was packed with procrastinators (like ourselves) and surprisingly a lot of kids! Personally if I were a kid and I heard the word ‘jazzin’ I’d have mom and dad turn my stroller around and go the other way, but hey! A deal’s a deal, I guess.

Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium

Besides the crowd the night was fun. We saw the tropical fish (“Nemo!”), the jellies, penguins, beluga whales, and pacific white sided dolphins. I know a lot about Pacific White Sided dolphins from my days as a season pass holder at Miami Seaquarium.

beluga whales

Beluga whales at the Shedd Aquarium

We didn’t get to see the re-launched dolphin show, but for an extra $3 we were able to pet the sting rays. Thank you for fearing for my safety, but the stingers had been de-stung on these guys, so nothing to worry about!

Petting the sting rays at Shedd

Petting the sting rays at Shedd

Overall we had a fun night! We decided to take the scenic walk home and ignored the thunder and lightning we were hearing and seeing and eventually our luck ran out. We got stuck in the pouring rain and had to walk about a mile back to a cold, air conditioned el train to get home.

Soaking wet from getting stuck in the rain

Soaking wet from getting stuck in the rain

Once I got home I took a hot shower and jumped into bed because on Thursday morning my friend Jessy taught a small yoga class at work! She is training to be an instructor and we are her guinea pigs. I love doing yoga with our Michigan Avenue views.

I also calculated how much money I saved by riding my bike to work last week — $13.50 by riding three days! That’s almost a month’s worth of Netflix and Hulu subscriptions combined! If I do three days a week for a month I’ll have saved $54 and if I go through October (that’s pushing it) I’ll have saved $150 – about half way to a new bike (maybe?). I’m just a dreamer.

Stay tuned for some more awesome recaps including: the Backstreets Boys concert, peach picking, and our annual garage sale.