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Fun

For the last two Decembers that I haven’t lived in New York, I’ve taken a trip back to visit. Both times with the help of my fabulous friend, Bonnie, I’ve been able to surprise and shock my girlfriends at our monthly girls’ dinner. Once a month, since we’re all so busy, one of the girls (it rotates) hosts and chooses a theme and everyone brings a dish to share. This way everyone gets to see and spend time with everyone. In December it’s usually some sort of holiday theme and there is always a gift exchange. It has become a thing for me to knit something and this year was no different.

20140107-222202.jpg As this picture may give away, there’s a lot of laughing, a lot of drinking, and a lot of truly amazing girl bonding time. I have looked forward to this trip for the last two Decembers and will continue to for as long as we keep up these dinners. I’m not sure I’ll be able to surprise the girls again (I thought two was pushing it), but that’s ok. Time with them is all I need. Although, this year the hubs also surprised two of the girls’ husbands and then they all showed up to girls’ dinner where they all surprised everyone. It was pretty awesome. Surprising people makes me happy.

So here is the cowl I whipped up on the flight to New York. It was super easy and really quick because the yarn is so chunky. I didn’t use a pattern – I just knitted a row, then did a row of yarn overs, then knitted a row, then did a row of yarn overs, etc. Super easy and so very warm. And it thrills me that my hand made gifts are always one of the first things to be stolen 3 times. (That’s the max and the person who gets it the third time gets to keep it.)

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See how chunky and warm it looks on! I’m sure it has come in nice and handy this winter. I’ve been meaning to make another for me, I just haven’t yet gotten around to it. I’ll do it eventually.

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I can’t wait for my trip again next December. And spending time with my girls. It’s the best. They’re the best.

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Happy Anniversary (a day late) to the guy who knows what I’m thinking before I’m thinking it. To the guy who makes me dinner when I work late and then does all the dishes too. To the guy who cleans the shower/bathtub because he knows it’s the one thing I really hate to clean. Happy anniversary to the guy who keeps me warm when I first climb into our cold bed and the guy who takes my picture every day. Happy anniversary to the guy who drives me to and from places so I don’t have to take a cab.

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It has been an amazing two years with so many experiences. We’ve traveled to new places, tried new things, made new friends, and grown even closer. I can’t wait to see what the next 2 years hold for us an then the next two and the next two and the next two and the next two…

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Happy Anniversary!

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You can find more pictures of the wedding in our Style Me Pretty post here.

I was recently invited to a private dinner event at Little Goat here in Chicago and I must say, I am entirely obsessed with their private rooftop space.

Here’s the table all set and ready for us.
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I love the glassware on the right. It matches my dishes and I wanted to steal a set of 8 or 10.
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They had some fun goat pictures on the wall next to our table and the painting on the floor *gasp* I am obsessed.
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We had a great family style meal. I honestly have no idea what we ate because I didn’t order anything and I didn’t ask a lot of questions. I mostly just ate what was put in front of me. Great character trait, I know.
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We had our own little personalized welcome sign and if you look closely at that same picture, you might notice that the wall behind the door is very lightly painted like the floor in the dining room. I love the subtle detail! All the character of the space was just amazing from the mixed and matched, rustic silverware to the wall of pots…and that AMAZING chef’s kitchen.
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I couldn’t get enough. I didn’t want to leave. Here were are two weeks later and I’m still telling people I want to live there. I hope I have the chance to go back and drool some more another time.

Last year, after moving to Chicago and settling in, I remember looking into 5Ks the hubs and I could run. Well, he would run them, I would whine and struggle and pant and wheeze through them (and maybe walk for a minute). I found the Hot Chocolate 5K, which is one of the largest 5Ks in Chicago. It was sold out last year when we tried to sign up, so I was really looking forward to signing up this year.

The hubs and I met up with a friend the morning of the race (she snuck up from her holding area a ways behind us) and we all ran together. Here are some shots of the crowd, the start and a before picture of the three of us.

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I struggled through the first two miles with them and walked for a minute during the third mile. I have no endurance and I hadn’t run a single time since the Run10Feed10 10K I ran (half of) in October. We ran through some of the Loop and ended in Grant Park, close to where we started. The trees were SO pretty the weekend of the 5K and I snapped this picture below (you can see the lake way in the background) along with some after shots of us ready to eat all the yummy goodness you get after the run.
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You got chocolate fondue, a banana, a Rice Krispie Treat, a marshmallow, a brownie (which I couldn’t eat – too much chocolate), and some prezels. We also got hot chocolate, obviously, but it wasn’t the best I’ve had and I stuck with my fondue…and the fondue of those who were with me…
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This is a panoramic I took of the whole finisher’s area including the downtown skyline. Wasn’t it a pretty day?!?
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Here we are all together after! The two who ran the whole way and me! I had a great time, but next year if I do it again, I can’t do it with absolutely no running leading up to it. I need to be able to run the entire 5K…it’s not that far.
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Earlier this summer, a couple of our friends from New York came out to visit and stayed with us. For brunch on Sunday, we went to a restaurant we hadn’t been to before called Eleven City Diner. It has such a great atmosphere! It reminded me of the Jewish diners we used to go to for brunch in New York. Of course, we sat down and the hubs immediately ordered a coffee and matzah ball soup. He seemed happy to have found a good place to get matzah ball soup here in Chicago.

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This view is looking down onto the first floor from where we were sitting. I loved the bar and how grand the room was! Like I said, it had a great atmosphere and it reminded me a lot of NY (but more spacious!).

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Right near the entrance, there was a little candy shop with all the candy I loved as a kid. It was so fun and colorful. I would definitely go back here again!

The hubs’ birthday is in April. In fact, it was the day after the Mad Men season premier earlier this year. Because of the timing and our love of Mad Men, he wanted his birthday party to have a Mad Men theme. We had a ton of fun setting up this party for our friends and family.

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We laid out a spread of “old fashioned” food including Ruffles and French Onion dip.

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Deviled eggs and shrimp cocktail.

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A cheese ball and crackers.

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Rice Krispie treats and brownies.

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We also picked up bubble gum cigars and fake cigarettes.

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And candy cigarettes. These were my favorite when I was a kid!

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On the island in our kitchen, I cleared everything away and laid out butcher paper. We decided on four popular drinks from the 60s, laid out all their ingredients and wrote out the recipes. This way, one person didn’t have to play bar tender all night and everyone could learn how to make their favorite drinks.

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I tried to capture bits of the tiki influence from the 60s from these drink umbrellas to grass shirts hung along the railing on our balcony with hibiscus flowers to give the balcony a fun little vibe. Unfortunately, I don’t think I got any pictures of that part.

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People had recipes for a Manhattan, an Old Fashioned, a Tom Collins and a Martini at their disposal. I really enjoyed our bar and how everything was laid out. I especially loved having the recipes scrolled across the counter top!

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We wanted a place for everyone to be able to go to take pictures all night, so we put our camera on the tripod and set it up with lights in the corner to use our brick wall as a backdrop. So much fun! And, of course, we had Mad Men playing (silently because we were playing music) on the TV all night. We had to see where all this inspiration came from, right?!

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Finally, we ended the night off sitting around the livingroom playing a game together, much like a family in the 60s might have. However, they probably would NOT have played this game. If you haven’t played Cards Against Humanity, it’s like a perverse, offensive version of Apples to Apples. We love it, but it is not to be played with people you don’t know well and it is not to be played with your parents!

We loved throwing this Mad Men party and I can’t wait for the next one. This bar idea will definitely be making an appearance in the future. What parties have you thrown lately? What was your favorite detail?

If you have a pretty good memory, you might remember that I posted about a plate I made back in March. I enjoyed it so much that I bought a second Groupon and went to make a second, complimentary plate.

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Looks good before it’s dry, right?

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I think I like this second plate more than I like the first! Right now they’re both on display in my kitchen and they compliment each other nicely! I’m very much considering doing this a third time. Maybe I’ll make a while set.