Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Finally... Some Motivation!

This past weekend we worked at the Georgia state high school cheerleading competition.  Oh. My. Gosh.  These girls were so talented!

Insanely flexible!

Let me preface a smidge.  I told my parents at age 4 that I wanted to be a cheerleader when I grew up.  Then in elementary school when I wanted to cheer for a peewee football team, my parents said no. *Tear*  Now, I can't hate them too much since I did, at some point, do the following in elementary school: ballet, tap, gymnastics, poms, flags, baton, softball, swim team, piano, cello, youth group and of course, soccer.  (I played soccer for 10 years, including high school).  Anyway, the closest I ever came to cheerleading was the junior high dance team and-- much, much later-- a month on the cheer & stunt team at Purdue.  Suffice it to say I've loved cheerleading for a couple decades =)

Back to 2011.  Emm and I both whine nonstop about our bodies, since our usual schedule makes it difficult to workout regularly, and impossible to eat anywhere besides restaurants for every meal.  No, seriously-- I've only been home for about 40 hours in the last 3+ months (and sadly, a lot of hotels don't have fridges) so all of our meals are bought at restaurants.

Naturally, with all these insanely athletic (and flexible- yikes!) girls between 14 and 18, Emm and I spent the weekend green with envy. I know, I know... Exodus 20:17 says not to covet but that is probably the Commandment that I struggle with most.

Tan and thin-- but strong!

Anyway, after spending the weekend around all these thin, flexible, tan girls, Emm and I used our jealousy to motivate ourselves.  We've worked out three days in a row and even found a tanning salon near our hotel.  It's time for a change!  We're staying on the 5th floor of our hotel so we've also been taking the stairs every time we come and go, and we've been doing our best to eat lower-carb and lower-fat.

I guess sometimes, a little jealousy can go a long way!

Have a great night =)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Yankee Girl Meets the South: Upcoming Schedule

Some of these dates are set in stone and some are just rough estimates at this point, but here's where we'll be going in the next month.

10/19 - 10/25 :: Little Rock, Arkansas

10/25 - 10/30 :: Columbus, Georgia

10/30 - 11/2 :: Atlanta, Georgia

11/2 - 11/4 :: Greenville, South Carolina

11/4 - 11/6 :: Carrollton, Georgia

11/16 - 11/18 :: Birmingham, Alabama

11/21 - 11/23 :: Tulsa, Oklahoma

11/23 - 11/27 :: Little Rock, Arkansas

If you have any suggestions for how to make Thanksgiving fun when you're in a hotel in a faraway city with two coworkers, I'd love to hear them!

Have a great weekend =)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fantastic Fall D.I.Y.

This is something I just saw on fellow Midwestern girl Kristin's blog, Iowa Girl Eats.

If I weren't traveling right now, this would be my project for the day.  As it is, I'm planning to make this with candy cane sticks when I come home in December (I'll post on it later, when I actually make it).  I think it would look cute year-round if I change out the raffia/twine with different colored ribbons during spring/summer and put seasonal-specific blooms in it!

Here's her finished product:

LOVE this vase!

Check it out here: http://iowagirleats.com/2011/10/15/no-cost-diy-decor/

Thanks for the wonderful DIY idea =)

Yankee Girl Meets the South: Halfway Through!

Ok so it's been over two months since I last posted, and a lot has happened!  I'm more than halfway through my time on the road-- 85 days in and 61 days left-- and here's where we've been so far:

Texas - Midland, Houston, and Denton/Dallas
New Mexico - just over the border, to say we'd been there
Louisiana - just stopped in Monroe for a couple nights
Mississippi - driven through several times, stopped on the road for food
Alabama - Huntsville, Birmingham, Albertville/Guntersville
Georgia - Atlanta/Fayetteville/Buckhead
Tennessee - Memphis and Chattanooga
South Carolina - Greenville and Elgin
Arkansas - Hope, Fayetteville, soon to be in Little Rock
Kentucky - Louisville
Indiana - West Lafayette
Illinois - Chicago/Naperville
Wisconsin - Green Bay (for the Packers-Saints season opener)
Oklahoma - OKC and Tulsa
North Carolina - Nantahala River area

That's a lot of hotels!  We're racking up points everywhere we go; I just wish I could use points towards my rent once I'm back in Chicago lol.

On Thursday we worked an event around Tulsa, a Native American (or American Indian, depending on the individual) business summit.  It was indoors and we only had about 1/6 of our event site set up but we met some cool people so it was pretty fun.  I've never spent time around Native American areas-- which is a lot of what Oklahoma seems to be, Trail of Tears and all-- but it was fascinating to meet some Cherokees and learn a little about what their life is like.  Afterwards we made the drive to Oklahoma City so we could get Friday off.

Once we got to OKC I made a Target run.  Since we'll be here for a few days and then in Little Rock for a few days I decided to go ahead and buy some food.  I already love the Special K cereals and bars, and I really really need to shed some weight, so I figured I'd give the Special K Challenge a try.  I haven't been able to workout in about a month since I had a bad sinus infection and cough that put me out of commission for over two weeks.  Ugh.  I'm so glad to be done with that!

I'm going to do everything I can to at least squeeze in a 30 minute workout every day, and do a full hour or more if I have the time.  It's just really challenging to workout and eat well when every day and every week bring such different days!

On Friday I drove "up" to Tulsa for the morning to check out Oral Roberts University, where Boyfie went to school for a year.  It was really small (especially to a Big 10 grad) but had a very pretty campus!  The architecture was totally 60s and reminiscent of Epcot at DisneyWorld, including a unique prayer tower and some beautiful gardens.

Yesterday we worked one of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure events in the Bricktown area of OKC.  Real HouseMom's mother, my Grammy, is a breast cancer survivor who's been in remission for over 10 years so I'm all for the cause.  I woke up at 3:30 am so we could leave the hotel at 4:30 am and arrive onsite by 5:00 am.  It was a really great event!  There was pink everywhere and the energy was incredible.  The only problem, besides it being dark for the first few hours, was how chilly it was.  I thought I'd be ok with jeans, boat shoes and my zip-up jacket, but even I was shivering.  Our onsite contact bought boxes and boxes of granola bars for us to hand out to the racers, and everyone was very grateful to us for them.  Next weekend we're working another Race for the Cure in Little Rock and I'm excited for it!  I'm a little nervous about how late we'll be working Friday night and how early we'll have to wake up Saturday for the event... Might be time for an all-nighter...

Thankfully today and tomorrow are our days off, so I'm relaxing and catching up on emails, blogging, etc.  I'm going to be moving into an apartment near Wrigley Field in January (yay!) so I might hop on Pinterest and start putting together my future Big Girl Bedroom... Who am I kidding, that's probably gonna be my whole day!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend =)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Time to Travel!

About a week and a half ago I got a call from MW, the marketing company I was interning with through May.  They asked if I would be interested in helping out with another team, doing the same work I had done in Indianapolis and Detroit in late May/early June.  Of course I jumped at the opportunity, and on Thursday I flew to Dallas-Fort Worth to meet the team!

After a few days in Midland, TX it was time to head to Houston.  On the way (it was about a 10 hour drive) I got another call from MW-- and they asked if I wanted to stay on for the rest of the tour!!  Which means I now have a job for the rest of the year!  I love the other two members of my team, Emm and Jay, so I'm thrilled to be spending the next 4 1/2 months touring the south with them =)

I'm going to start a separate blog so friends and family can follow my travels.  I'll post a link to it in the menu so you can check up on me too!

Have a great Tuesday =)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

I love event planning, so when I found out our next door neighbors finally sold their house and would be moving at the end of the month, I knew we had to throw them a going away party.

Here are the invitations I made:

I just typed up the invites in MS Word, printed them out two per page and cut them in half.  Then I took an old atlas, tore out a bunch of pages, cut them in half and glue-sticked the invite to a map.  Super easy, kind of time-consuming (though I was gluing them while watching a movie so that may have been why) but I got TONS of compliments on them from my neighbors!

[Side note: we've lived in this house for almost 20 years, so my neighbors have seriously watched me grow up-- my first bike, learning to drive, graduating from high school and college, etc]

I wanted to make a special dessert, too-- part of my "I'm 24 and need to learn how to bake or else my future kids are screwed" summer mentality-- and after browsing around some of my favorite baking blogs, I found a recipe for Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes.  It was actually a guest post on Carrie Sellman's cake blog, Half Baked.

These are the treats as created by cupcake contributor Lauren of Crave.Indulge.Satisfy:

I loved her idea for making cupcake jars but I'm taking baby steps with my baking... for now =)

And these are how mine turned out:

I'm sure a professional photo shoot like Lauren's wouldn't hurt too, instead of just a cell phone pic, but you get the idea!  What I just can't figure out, though, is how she got her cupcake wrappers to stay so yellow-- mine ended up going from a bright primary yellow to cake-color invisible yellow.  How do you maintain the color???

Now, I cheated a little on the cupcakes... Instead of making the cake from scratch (the idea of which still terrifies me as a total newbie baker), I did pick up a box of Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Lemon Supreme Cake mix.  But I made the strawberry buttercream frosting totally from scratch!  I ended up having to play around a little bit with the proportions of powdered sugar, strawberry puree and lemon zest but overall they weren't too difficult!

And they were a hit at the party =)  Everybody loved them and said they can't wait for my cupcakes at our next party!

Things I learned while making these cupcakes:
  • How to use a food processor
  • How to puree something
  • How to use a stand mixer
  • The best way to load an icing bag is to fold over the top so you have a cuff, then place it in a glass or jar (with the cuff folded over the top edges of the glass/jar) so you can use both hands!
  • Always use an apron!  Unless you're baking in an old sorority t-shirt and Soffe shorts...
  • Flexible spatulas are a necessity
  • Strawberry juice/puree will stain things (spatulas, icing bags, etc.)
  • If you don't have a zester, a small handheld cheese grater works just fine
 Here's what I used for this baking project:
In the future I'd love to try these again from scratch and maybe try a raspberry or blueberry twist instead of strawberry!  The possibilities are endess....

Have a great Sunday =)


Monday, July 18, 2011

Results: Harry Potter Cookies & More

Dear self,
In the future, buy supplies and mix/bake cookies the night before.  Then begin decorating right after breakfast so you don't run out of time and end up with the cookies below.
Love, me

Yep, I didn't quite get as much done as I'd hoped.  I didn't realize I'd have to go to Michael's for cake decorating products; I'm 24 and have never really done this so I figured I could pick up everything I needed at Target.


After making shopping lists of everything I'd need for the cookies and researching online to find out where I could buy it, I decided to start at Target and then make a trip to Michael's, if needed.

Let's just say Target doesn't carry specific decorating tips, squeeze bottles, specific shades of food coloring, etc.  They do, however, carry the break-n-bake cookie dough, so I popped the cookies in the oven when I got home from Target (4 mins away) and asked Real HouseMom to take them out of the oven when the timer went off.  Meanwhile I raced to Michael's (12 mins away), which ended up being a mecca for those who are craft-oriented (or pretending to be).

Long story short, once I got home I made royal icing, mixed the food coloring into it and outlined the cookies.  It took about 4-5, um, unique cookies before I finally got the hang of it!  .....sort of.

The outlined cookies (stop judging)

While the piped outlines dried, I added water to the royal icing and put it in the squeeze bottle so I could flood the cookies.  It was working well!  Until my friend K showed up so we could go to dinner.... About 8 cookies after she arrived, I ran out of watered-down royal icing, so I decided we'd go to dinner, let the flooded cookies set and then I could finish when we got home.

The filled-in cookies (and the ones that were left after I ran out of flooded icing)

Welllllll we got home from dinner (Buffalo Wild Wings boneless Thursday!) and only had a few hours to go, so I made the executive decision to forgo finishing the cookies in favor of watching Deathly Hallows: part 1 and painting our nails in Gryffindor colors.  For about $1 each from Target (duh), I got "scarlet" (New York Color in #228 Chelsea) and "gold" (Sinful Colors in #955 Pull Over).

My first experiment with polka dot nails could've been better... but probably could've been worse

About 10:30, we decided to head to the theater to get seats and oh my goodness was it packed!!  The theater near my house (across the street from my Target, actually) is a 30-screen jumbo theater-- and Deathly Hallows: part 2 was playing on 17 screens.  No joke, over half of the entire place was total HP mania!

The movie was really good (the book was better, duh!) and the people at the movie were a little over-the-top (aka I wanted to throw some of the chanting, screaming not-yet-lost-my-baby-fat tweens & teens down the stairs) but overall we had a great time!

And for the future, I now know that seriously decorated cookies need some advance preparation...

Again, here's what helped me make these cookies:
Another future note-to-self: when halving measurements, write down what the new measurements will be.  I ended up halving the powdered sugar but not the water and couldn't figure out why, after 20 mins of mixing, I still didn't have stiff peaks.  Figured it out pretty quickly after that.

Have a great Monday =)


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Learning to.... Bake & Decorate Cookies

Growing up, Real HouseMom would usually have some kind of baked good around the house as an after-dinner treat.  The most common desserts were brownies-- Duncan Hines, I believe-- or chocolate chip cookies from scratch.  Real HouseMom is definitely more than competent in the kitchen, baking and cooking (sometimes at the same time!) with the greatest of ease.  The problem with this was that she and I weren't the only people around.  The two of us could stretch a batch of brownies to last a week-- but with Soccer Dad and Little Bro in the house, it was a different story.  Between the two of them, at least half the pan of brownies/cookies/cake/whatever would be devoured that day.  And the remaining half would be gone by the following night.  With those two in the house, homemade desserts never last 48 hours.
The most common treat at our house, always frosted =)

Because of this, Real HouseMom never went through the trouble of decorating anything.  Cookies and cakes always go so fast that any sugary artwork would go completely unnoticed-- so I never learned how to decorate any sweets, beyond the occasional "Happy Birthday" that looks like it was written by a six-year-old.

Now that I'm 24, I've decided it's time to learn to be a pastry artist.  Not professionally or full-time or anything crazy like that!  Just for the occasional party, holiday or birthday.  And I'm going to start by making a batch of Harry Potter cookies for the midnight launch of 'Deathly Hallows: Part 2' (which, of course, I'm going to see at midnight).

The cookies I will be attempting later this week!  [details below]

Here's the story: our next door neighbors just sold their house and will be moving in the next few weeks, so Real HouseMom and I decided we're going to throw a going-away-slash-block-party in our cul-de-sac.  Me being the overly ambitious planner I am, I decided we're going to have some great decorations and some fabulous desserts.

I decided some cute shaped & decorated sugar cookies would be a fun treat for everybody, so I Googled "frosting cookies" to find a how-to guide.  What I found was this awesome video from Bridget of Bake at 350.  Confession: I can't get enough of her blog!  First of all, the video was super helpful to someone like me, who's completely kitchen-challenged.  Then when I went to her blog, I saw these adorable cowboy boot cookies!!

I think these are insanely precious but I just can't think of an occasion when cowboy boot cookies would be appropriate here in Chicago... I might throw a western-themed party just to make these!

Below those cute boots were three "You might also like" posts-- and one of them was for Harry Potter cookies!  [Side note: I'll do a Harry Potter post later this week, to explain why these cookies have just become the highlight of my life]  So I've decided that my first attempt at piping and decorating with royal icing is going to be this week when I do my best to make the Harry Potter cookies.  I promise I'll post pictures!

In the meantime, I'm trying to find anything related to North Carolina (where Mr. & Mrs. Next Door will be moving) so I can get cookie cutters and icing colors that pertain to the party.  Let me know if you're from the Charlotte area (or even NC in general), I'd love some ideas for the decorations and food!

Have a great Tuesday =)


Saturday, July 9, 2011

College Prep Giveaway: Jack Rogers Navajos!

In case you don't already know about it, Carly the College Prepster runs one of my favorite blogs =)

Click her logo to visit her blog!

Well, today she posted that she is giving away a pair of Jack Rogers Navjos!  Not a bad contest, if you ask me.  All you have to do is follow a couple painless steps and leave a comment, and you're entered!  View the contest here: http://www.thecollegeprepster.com/2011/07/giveaway-jack-rogers.html

I'll post again on her blog, but if I win the contest, this is the pair I want most:

The Hamptons White Navajos.  They're so cute and go with everything!  Let me know if you enter, too!

Good luck and have a great afternoon =)



Yes, it's really really really late but I just HAD to share this with you!  Tonight (well, last night), after a delightful dinner at Panera, I went to see 'Thor' with one of my girlfriends aka sorority sister and it was so good!  I apologize in advance for all the exclamation points in this post but that's how excited I still am =)

I didn't grow up reading comic books (except the occasional 'Betty & Veronica') so I have no clue which superheroes are Marvel and which are DC, or who The Avengers are, or what the story is with the X-Men.  Well, I saw 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' and 'X-Men First Class' so I guess I have a better idea of that group now.  But in general, I'm totally in the dark on the superheroes-- which, I think, is why I love the superhero movies sooo much!  And now that I'm typing this, I'm realizing just how many superhero movies I've seen over the years....
  • All the 'Batman' movies (no matter who played Bruce Wayne or which decade they came out)
  • The 'Spiderman' trilogy
  • 'Fantastic Four' & 'Rise of the Silver Surfer'
  • 'Iron Man' & 'Iron Man 2'  <--- Apparently he's in The Avengers!
I never saw 'The Incredible Hulk' with Edward Norton (who I always think of as the guy from 'Fight Club' now) or the original 'X-Men', 'X-2' or 'Last Stand' movies; nor have I seen 'Green Hornet' (does that count?) or 'Green Lantern' (mmmm Ryan Reynolds!) but now I have seen the two most recent 'X-Men' movies-- and 'Thor'-- and I'm just dying to see 'Captain America: The First Avenger' when it comes out!

Let me tell you-- 'Thor' was the most exciting movie I've seen lately.  And yes, I saw 'Transformers 3' the day it came out.  Ok so maybe they're tied....  Well since I know that was the end of the 'Transformers' saga, I'm giving the award to 'Thor' =)

Anyway, 'Thor' does a great job of combining the ubiquitous romantic story with some seriously awesome intergalactic butt-kicking.  Chris Hemsworth, who plays Thor, is obscenely ripped.  I'm talking utterly swoon-worthy muscles and a b-e-a-utiful tan.  And Natalie Portman's character is adorable but very independent and intelligent-- NP rocks in everything =)

Ok, so mini spoiler alert =)

The casting was great.  Obvi.  And they did a great job with sets and costumes, too!  But serious snaps to the writers for spot-on conversations and logical screenplay.  OMG some parts were hilarious-- we were actually laughing out loud at the witty dialogue and quirky one-liners!

But what would a superhero movie be without action!  That hammer of his (ok, get your mind out of the gutter!) was probably the coolest weapon I can remember seeing in a movie.  Really, Thor could kick some serious bad-guy booty with that thing, it was awesome!  The fight scenes on Asgard, Jotunheim and Earth required some serious special effects but it was cool to see battles throughout the movie, instead of just in one enormous climactic scene.

We LOVED the movie (duh) until the very very very end.  The credits started to roll and we were like, umm, what about ______??  (sorry, no spoilers!)  So in our incredulity, we remained glued to our seats, hoping for an additional scene during or after the credits.

HINT: if you go to see 'Thor', you will definitely want to sit through the credits.  Trust me.  Minds were blown.

That's all I'm gonna say-- and somehow a quick little post turned into a novel-- so have a great Saturday =)


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The New Jules: Day 1 =)

Today for the Bikini Challenge from Tone It Up, I combined Day 1 and Day 2 (since you're supposed to start on a Monday but today was Tuesday).  The everyday requirements include drinking half your body weight in ounces of water-- so I'm aiming for 65-70 oz-- as well as eat a lean, green, clean dinner that doesn't include heavy starches, cheeses or fried food.  In my family, we always eat dinner between 8:30pm and 9:00pm so another goal of mine is to not eat past 7pm and be in bed by 11pm.  I'm hoping this isn't too ambitious 'cause I want to succeed!

Anywho, here's how my newly fit day went!

The challenge for Day 1

For Bikini Challenge Day 1, I woke up 30 mins early and did the Body Slim DVD from YogaWorks.  It was fun!  They alternate "deep burn" poses with "cardio" poses, taking you through the most common poses at a great pace.  It was a nice combination of static poses (like Warrior II, Triangle Pose and Side Plank) and flowing poses (including three variations on Sun Salutation).  And in case you're a total yoga newbie, they have someone doing slightly modified poses.  For more information on poses, the Yoga Journal website is a great place to start =)  You can also find the DVD that I did this morning at Amazon.com!

The challenge for Day 2

Fast forward a few hours.  I spent the afternoon doing housework so Real HouseMom could come home to a clean house after a week at my grandparents' lake house, and I modified my fitness plan (see update below).  I'm addicted to Pretty Little Liars on ABC Family so I had to watch it at 7pm.  Well, dinner took a lot longer to make than anticipated so I ended up eating around 7:30, which isn't too bad for my first attempt.  Once I finished eating (and the Rosewood drama had subsided for the week), it was time to do the 2nd half of my challenge workouts for today.  I did the Day 2 Bikini Strap Workout with my 5-lb hand weights on the floor of my living room while watching TV.  They said to do 12-20 reps of each move, so I aimed for 15 since I'm not exactly in peak condition right now.  Some of the moves were a little more tiring than others but I did 3 sets of each of the moves and it felt good!

Bikini Challenge Day 1 Summary Checklist:

  • Check in with the Tone It Up girls: Almost check!  Once this post is finished, I'll link it in a tweet to them-- and you'll be able to see it in my Twitter box on the right.
  • Drink 65-70 oz water: Check!  My 24 oz blue Camelbak has the lines marked on it so it's super easy to see how much I've drank.  I drank 2 bottles already and have about 5 oz left in the third one, so that would be about 67 oz =)  I also had two glasses of sweetened (not sweet) tea...
  • Eat lean, green and clean for dinner: Mehhh kind of failed this one.  I ate with my mom and we had whole grain brown rice with a frozen Chinese stir fry.  No breads or potatoes AND a healthy portion of veggies, but the sauce was probably pretty high in sodium and added sugars =/
  • And I'm so excited to be developing these great new habits!!  Although a printable version of the challenge would be SUPER helpful *hint hint* =)

Running update: Since I live in Chicago and one of the best half marathons in the country is the Chicago Half Marathon, I asked around a little bit to see if any of my friends will be running it.  Turns out, several of my friends are signed up for it!  In case you didn't know, I'm do a lot of stuff on impulse.  A lot.  An hour after I heard back from my friends, I registered for the half marathon.  And since it's a month sooner than the one I was originally considering, I found this 10-week training program from Fitness Magazine-- which is perfect because the HM is Sunday 9/11 and that's 10 weeks away!  Since it's already after 11pm (which was when I was going to try to go to bed every night!) and creepy dark out, I'm postponing my run to first thing in the morning.  I'll let you know tomorrow how day 2 goes and I'll try to get some "before" pictures so I'll have something to compare with in a couple months!

Have a great hump day =)


I want to run a half marathon!

Last year I decided to get my butt in gear and lose some weight while training for my very first running race.  I spent the summer (which in Chicagoland is hot and humid as anything) alternating running workouts Monday-Wednesday-Friday and strength training Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday.  I managed to lose 15 pounds (yay!) but then I plateaued.

Me, in December 2009 with one of my cousins

Me, in December 2010 at our office holiday party (I'm front row, far left)

ANYWAY long story short, I ran the 5K race at the Chicago Half Marathon in September 2010 with my friend Liz.  We weren't trying to PR or win any awards, just have fun-- and let me tell you, it was SO much fun!  All my photos were on my old laptop and are now in my external hard drive, so for now here are a couple professional photos from the race (don't judge, they're hideous!)

I look super attractive....

With my friend Liz, just after we finished running
I'm sick of this workout plateau!  I've decided it's time to get my act back together and work on losing the remaining 15 lbs I'm aiming for.  I found the Tone It Up 8 week Bikini Challenge and decided I'm going to do it!  Below are the requirements; since you're supposed to start on a Monday, I'm going to do days 1 & 2 tomorrow (today? Tuesday....) and then be up to speed for Wednesday!

And to keep myself on track and focused-- aside from having to be super accountable to the @ToneItUp team-- I've found a 12 week plan to run a half marathon.  If I follow this plan from Hal Higdon, I'll be on track to run a 5K and a 10K before the half marathon in mid-October.  I'm excited and will keep you guys posted on how things go!

Wish me luck and have a great Tuesday =)


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Long-Distance Socializing

I'm 24 so I still like to go to the bars.  Not so much the wild and crazy nightclub scene, just your typical twenty-something bars, like Public House or John Barleycorn in Chicago and Features or Blackfinn in Naperville.  Since I'm not on the prowl for a guy but Boyfie lives in Indiana, most of the time I go out just with a girlfriend or two (instead of the gaggle of sorority sisters I was used to in college).

John Barleycorn in Lincoln Park

Public House in River North
Blackfinn Saloon in downtown Naperville

Features Bar & Grill in downtown Naperville

The problem I run into time and time again-- and it happened last night!-- is how to handle when the two or three of us are approached by a matching number of males.  Most of my girlfriends are single, so I don't want to.... umm... block anything but I'm also not interested in seeing these guys once we leave the bar.  I'm a really friendly and outgoing person by nature, so I can't just be rude (or bitchy!) and ignore them outright.  On the other hand, I know they feel led on if I even engage in conversation.

I'm trying to find the balance where I can make it clear that I'm not available without coming across as boring or snobbish!

Does anyone else have this problem?  If you have any suggestions, I'm all ears!

Have a fantastic Independence Day weekend =)


Friday, June 24, 2011


I like to be super busy.  I was involved with everything under the sun while in college (and high school.... and junior high...) so it's really hard for me to currently be living with my parents in the suburbs while I interview for jobs.  Instead of having a plethora of activities Sharpied (yes, it's a verb) into my color-coded planner, every day is different and depends on what Real HouseMom has in mind for the day.

I'll be honest, it's a struggle to stay focused on the job hunt when there's so much that needs work around the house, and now I'm home with RHM full-time.  Yesterday and Wednesday were spent in the basement, which is literally so scary I'm not going to post any photos.  We've lived in our house almost 20 years, and have an unfinished basement that is home to all the toys, books, games, clothes, artwork, decorations, etc. that accumulate over the decades.  So in addition to trying to clean everything and split it into four categories (keep, donate, sell, trash), we're also making plans for the ceiling, walls, floors and dividing the entirely open space into individual rooms.  Phew!

On top of that, RHM and I are planning to have the wallpaper (eww, yes, wallpaper) stripped from the dining room and guest bathroom so we can totally redo those rooms.  My big procrastination at the moment has been spending hours on the House Beautiful, Better Homes & Gardens, Southern Living and Country Living websites to get ideas for paint, decor and more.

And the weather here in Chicagoland has been cool and rainy throughout the week, so all I've wanted to do is curl up with a good book or catch all the fun summer shows on TV.  I usually just drag my MacBook down to the family room (biggest TV!) and work from there.

How do you manage to get big projects done in addition to the everyday work?

Have a great weekend =)


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Absolutely Adorable: ShopGlitzyGlam.com!

Hi, My name is Jules and I can't resist anything personalized or monogrammed.  (Hi Jules.)

Seriously, if they had rehab for people who love their name/initials on their stuff, I should be the first person to sign up.  Instead, I keep finding websites and shops that cater to my obsession.

The newest one I found is ShopGlitzyGlam, a website run by two sisters who love to blog about beauty and fashion on their self-titled blog, Elle & Blair.  [Warning: addiction may occur!]

On ShopGlitzyGlam, you can totally customize everything from makeup bags to spa items to lunch bags and more!  Of course they also have some things that aren't 100% custom, but even those give you several options to choose from- including Lilly stuff and jewelry.

And my favorite little detail about their stuff?  Most of it comes with ribbon =)

Speaking of favorite, here are the three things I want most from their shop!

I love this color combo!  It's the light pink waffle weave makeup case (perfect for throwing in your purse) with the turquoise polka dot ribbon and turquoise personalization, and as much as I love O-M-G-double-H-K-P, I'd probably still choose Jules =)

I also love these headbands.  I need headbands when I wash my face before bed, and I think the hot pink headband with a bright orange J on it would make me extra motivated to stick to my routine!

Another love of mine: wine!  Lucky for me, Boyfie's a fan, too, though I'm not sure he would want one of these-- but I certainly do!  I think sky blue and yellow would be perfect =)
So those are just a few examples of the absolutely adorable products on the ShopGlitzyGlam website.  Once I find a new job (fingers crossed!) I'll probably end up spending half my first paycheck on the stuff above!

Have a great Thursday =)


Friday, June 10, 2011


That's how many children I helped feed for a whole year.  Real Housemom and I spent a couple hours this afternoon (yesterday?) volunteering for an organization called Feed My Starving Children, or FMSC.

 We participated in what's called a Mobile Pack, where a church hosts an event to put together food bags (known as MannaPack Rice, info here) to box up and send to countries throughout Central & South America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia who are in severe need of nutritional assistance.  It was really great to be a part of something like this, a volunteer organization working to end hunger.  I loved having the chance to pack some food, and I'm thinking it would be a good use of my time to do additional volunteer work while I'm job hunting =)

When the Mobile Pack was over, Real Housemom and I had some errands to run.  See, I'm going to Indiana again (you'll learn this is a semi-regular occurrence), this time for the wedding of a friend who worked with Boyfie and me at Applebee's in college.  I've already got my dress-- Lilly, of course!-- but I was in dire need of shoes and a coordinating dress shirt & tie for Boyfie.  I found him a shirt that's just about the exact shade of green on part of my dress (it's a patchwork) and two ties to choose from, one pink and one green.  Of course the green striped tie would  not be worn with the green shirt for this, but that's neither here nor there.

After a quick dash off to the bank, Real Housemom and I raided stopped at DSW, aka Heaven.  Where I proceeded to find not only shoes for the wedding, but also shoes for basically every other occasion in my life.  Note: I hadn't bought a new pair of shoes in almost a year, so this trip was more like an annual pilgrimage.  No joke, scroll down if you don't believe me!!

Wedges from Guess
 First things first I found the shoes that were basically what I had in mind for the wedding.  The ceremony is outdoors and the reception is indoors, so I figured a wedge would be a good compromise for both events!

Sandals from Teva
I enjoy hiking, kayaking, etc. so there was no way I could pass up these Tevas.  They were on the clearance racks AND had an extra 30% off - and these things last forever so I'm looking at it as an lifestyle or hobby investment =)

Rainboots from Sperry Topsider
And le piece de resistance - my new Sperry rainboots.  Having had to walk a mile to and from work every day, my feet kept getting destroyed whenever it rained.  No joke, I'm talking horrible blisters and even some bleeding!!  These babies, however, feel more like slippers.  They're so cute and so comfy, I can't wait for the next time it rains =)

Once we left DSW, we popped into Ulta to see if I could use that presh little $3.50 off coupon they send in the mail all the time.  Well by the time we got there, we were both tired and I had just spent practically my life's savings on shoes so we didn't stay for long.  I just couldn't focus on all the makeup products, so I'll probably be going back tomorrow or Saturday.  Our last stop for the day/night was Le Target to pick up a couple last-minute groceries, which meant Real Housemom and I didn't eat dinner till about 10:00!  Which is why it's so late now.... Ok, time for bed, Boyfie's waiting for me to call and say goodnight!

Have a great Friday =)


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summer/Fall Movies: 2 down, 1 million to go!

I'll be honest, I had no real interest in seeing the newest Pirates of the Caribbean-- since I knew Orlando Bloom & Keira Knightley would be MIA-- but we got some free passes to see it, so of course we went.  I still like the first one the best but 'On Stranger Tides' is still a fun movie!  I went with two people who haven't actually watched the Pirates movies, aside from bits and pieces of the first one, so I can tell you first hand that you don't have to have seen the first three in order to understand the fourth, though it makes a huge difference when you're familiar with the characters and recognize several of the references.

The other movie I saw recently was X-Men First Class.  Now, the only X-Men movie I'd seen before this was the X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie, and I've never read the comic books, so I'm not hugely familiar with the characters.  But I thought this was awesome!  Not sure how you'll feel if you did read all the comic books or watch the cartoon growing up, so sorry I can't help you there.  However if you like the superhero genre or are into movies with a little sci fi and some action, then I can definitely recommend you go see this!  It was totally worth my $10 =)

Upcoming movies I can't wait to see: Hangover 2 (yeah, yeah), Super 8, Green Lantern, Bad Teacher, Mr. Popper's Penguins, Cars 2, Transformers 3, Horrible Bosses, HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS part 2 (definitely seeing this at midnight!!!), Captain America, The Change Up, The Help, Conan the Barbarian, The Three Musketeers, Winnie the Pooh (I've always liked them!), Immortals, Puss in Boots, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

And those are just the ones I know of!  So basically if it's coming out and it's not a scary movie, I'll probably go see it =)

Movies I still need to check out: The King's Speech, The Black Swan, Water for Elephants, Fast Five

Any other suggestions?

Have a great Thursday =)


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What I'm Lovin' Today!

So as I mentioned in my last post, I'm in Indianapolis for the week of the Indy 500 race!  My team and I are staying at the Staybridge Suites on the north side, in Carmel and it's a great place =)  My room has a fridge/freezer, microwave, dishwasher, dishes and stovetop PLUS the Staybridge has a free laundry room, pool & hot tub, mini theater, all-hours convenience "store", business room and more.  This morning, I squeezed in a workout at the 24 hour fitness center before grabbing some free breakfast in the lobby.  Seriously, this place is such a sweet deal-- as it turns out, my team tries to stay here every time they're in Indy!
The fitness center- this morning I did the treadmill & elliptical

The outside of the Staybridge
My room (mid-blog)

Anyway, my birthday is this Saturday (yay!) but I'll be in Indy working so I'm adapting things a bit.  Since I have to be at IMS (Indianapolis Motor Speedway, aka the racetrack) around 4 am on Sunday, the plan is to skip the bars and instead just have a big group Hibachi dinner with all my fellow Workers for Saturday evening.  One of my teammates and I ate at a nearby Japanese restaurant-- my first!-- for dinner last night and it was so good =)  It was called Izakaya, and we actually found it by accident when we Google mapped a Chinese restaurant that ended up being a seafood restaurant.... Weird... Sooo it turns out I'm a huge Hibachi fan and didn't know it!
My leftover Hibachi from Izakaya - tastes WAY better than it looks, I promise =)

And now on to gifts I'm hoping for!  In addition to all the VV, Lilly and Tory Burch post-it notes I left everywhere hints I dropped to my parents, I'm crazy about the adorable custom Lilly products from this Etsy site, My Pink and Green Garden.  You get to choose the Lilly print and they'll deliver your monogrammed pillow, image pillow, word pillow, memo board or lamp & shade.
I'm crazy about this memo board in the White Zin print!

These throw pillows are too cute!
I'm also begging hoping for a Kindle 3G since I'm a HUGE reader.  I always said I'd never switch to the e-book from the paper book but trying to keep pages from flipping while on the elliptical or keep corners from bending in my purse is a losing battle.  No way will I totally surrender my paperbacks but in some circumstances, I just need to get me a Kindle!  And a cute sleeve to protect it-- besides Lilly or Vera Bradley, do you have any suggestions?

Have a great Tuesday =)


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Moving On

So Friday (aka 2 days ago) was the last day of my internship.  I had been there nine months and knew it would be my last day, but I was waiting to hear back on a position with a marketing tour at our company.  I found out last week that I didn't get the job (boo!) so it's back to the job hunting drawing board.  My degree is in Public Relations & Advertising and my internship was at an experiential marketing agency so I know I have a pretty broad spectrum of job opportunities available to me, especially in Chicago!
We like to sit by the red sculptures.  Our building is in the background!

Thursday night, then, was the eve of my last day, so I went out with a few of the other interns.  We went to our agency's intermural softball game in Lincoln Park, then went to a couple bars before calling it a night.  The next day was absolutely gorgeous so we got a Groupon Now deal to Qdoba--it was $1, no joke--and ate across the street in Millennium Park.  So overall my last week was a great one =)
At Bull & Bear with two of my fellow interns

I'm currently in Lafayette, IN vising Boyfie for the weekend!  Tomorrow I drive the additional hour down to Indianapolis to meet up with the rest of my team.  For the next 7 days I'll be working for one of our clients at the Indy 500!  I've never been before but I'm super excited, even though I'll be working and not just spectating.  Anyway, enough for now, time for a movie with Boyfie!

Have a great week =)

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Welcome to my blog!  I'm glad you're here  =) A little bit more about me.... I graduated from Purdue (Boiler Up!) in December 2009 with my BA in Public Relations & Advertising and minors in French and History.  Yes, that meant I read a lot of books, wrote TONS of papers and can speak the world's prettiest language!  It was great though, I joined a sorority my freshman year and was super involved on campus all 4 years (my last semester consisted of nothing but class, my part-time job and applying/interviewing for life in the 'real world'), doing stuff like the Student Union Board, Dance Marathon, Panhellic, honors societies and more.  But I absolutely LOVE Purdue-- I could sing Hail Purdue (the fight song) around the same time I learned my ABCs-- and had a fantastic college career there!
This is the Liberal Arts fountain, and the three buildings behind it are where I spent most of my class time at Purdue

That's also where I met my fantastic boyfriend of over two years.  Boyfie and I worked together near campus and have been doing the long distance thing since I graduated a year and a half ago.  Let me tell you, for anyone who thinks distance relationships sound easy-- THEY'RE NOT!!!  Thank God for Skype, that's definitely the next best thing to being with Boyfie in person =)
Boyfie and me at Christmas

I moved home after graduating (home = Chicago suburbs) and still haven't saved up/been making enough to move out.  This of course hasn't stopped me from bookmarking every piece of furniture, organization tool, paint color and bedspread that I plan to buy to furnish my future apartment!  A few months after I moved back home, my brother decided university life wasn't for him and came home too.  Little Bro is 3 1/2 years younger than me but over half a foot taller (since I'm not even 5'5") and we usually get along pretty well.  Usually.
Anyway, since moving home I've decided to get my college butt back into shape!  I started running last summer and finished my first race, the Chicago Half Marathon 5K, in September.  I've lost 15 lbs since I started running, and now work out 5-6 days a week.  I'm still not bored though!  I've found a combo of weights, cardio and yoga that is manageable for my schedule-- and a gym that has locations 1 block from my office and 2 miles from my house.
I can't wait to share my journey through my 20s with you!  Thanks for stopping by!!
Have a great week =)