Hello friends! Long time no talk!
I am so excited to be back on here writing to you all. Wow. How long has it been since I have last written on here? A month? Two months? Who knows. Feels like it has been a year.
Anywho, I thought I would pop back on here and catch you all up on what I have been up to for the past two or so months AND do a quick little recap/reflection on the past year. 2019 was full of ups and downs for me, so there will be a bit to cover!
Last Days in Portland
As you guys may remember in my previous posts, I recently moved from Portland, Oregon back to Illinois! I grew up (mostly) in Illinois but it has been quite some time since I have lived in the Midwest. This girl has been a West Coast gal for the past 6 or so years… so let’s just say adjusting to sub 50 degree weather has been quite the adjustment for me 😉
Anywho, the move went pretty well. We had the whole apartment fiasco (if you missed this, feel free to catch up here) but got to spend two weeks living with Ian’s parents before making the ~2,000 mile drive to Illinois.
Spending two weeks with Ian’s family was so incredibly nice. We got to spend quality time with his family and enjoy lots of home cooked meals 🙂 I was so happy that we were able to spend our Thanksgiving (kind of) with them before leaving. Since we actually headed out on Thanksgiving, we celebrated the Sunday beforehand with Ian’s entire family.
Driving to Illinois went smoothly. No car issues. No accidents.
We started off our morning with one final trip to Dutch Bros. It’s really a bummer that Illinois does not have a Dutch Bros.. but it’s probably best for my wallet and waistline 😉
The weather during our drive was not the best.. but it was pretty. Ian snapped the photo above somewhere in Eastern Oregon.
After 8 or so hours of driving our first day we decided to stop in Boise for dinner. Unfortunately EVERY restaurant was closed.. since it was Thanksgiving… so we drove around for 20 or so minutes looking for food. Even McDonald’s was closed. Thankfully, Shari’s was not.
Knowing that I had a lot of fast food meals ahead of me, I opted for their grilled chicken and rice. To my surprise, it was actually really good!!
Seeing that I had to be at work that following week, Ian and I travelled cross-country on a mission. We only stopped for food, gas, bathroom breaks, and to sleep. After 3 days of driving, we made it to Illinois. All of us were pooped.
Once we arrived to our house, we were immediately greeted by my family and then ushered into my uncle’s car to head out to Buffalo Wild Wings. I was so happy to see my family but also absolutely exhausted from just driving across the country.
The rest of our weekend was just a whirlwind and honestly.. I don’t really remember what we did. My family stuck around until Sunday or so and Ian and I were left to begin unpacking our boxes that next Monday. I decided to take the day off from work to focus on settling in.
The rest of the week I spent most my days catching up on work… and interviewing. I had a really cool opportunity arise and I could not resist going for it. Was the timing great? Not at all… but I am so happy I pushed myself to get out there and chase my goals.
Ian’s first day in his new position was to start that following Monday, so we spent our Saturday (exactly one week from arriving in Illinois) trying out Ian’s new train route & checking out the Christkindlmarket.
While I have always loved visiting the Christkindlmarket downtown.. I forgot how insanely crowded it gets there during the weekend. It was insane. We could barely even move. So, protip for those of you looking to go to Chicago’s Christkindlmarket in the future: go during the weekdays OR go to Wrigleyville’s Christkindlmarket instead.
Seeing how disappointed we both were with our experience at the Christkindlmarket at Daley Plaza, we decided to try again and this time head over to Wrigleyville’s Christkindlmarket which ended up being an awesome experience. There are so many less people at the Christkindlmarket there! I don’t know about you guys, but I am not a fan of big crowds.
We also got to meet up with one of my coworkers and her husband and had an absolute blast with them there. We all enjoyed hot chocolates at the Christkindlmarket and then headed over to Happy Camper for some grub.
I had been dying to try out Happy Camper for a while now, so I was absolutely blown away by how festive it was inside once we had walked in. I probably would have taken 80,000 photos.. but I didn’t feel like looking like a huge dork in front of my coworker 😂
For those of you living in or visiting Chicago and are looking for a fun place to grab pizza, I would highly recommend giving Happy Camper a try! Their restaurants are usually decked out in crazy decorations and the atmosphere is very lively. Now, if you are looking for a quiet place for dinner… this may not be the right place for you.
The Holidays 🎄
Between work, interviews, unpacking, and meeting up with family.. the past month has been absolutely insane. I am actually shocked that Ian and I found time to put a tree up this year!
Unfortunately… seeing how busy I have been lately… the tree has not been on my mind much. SO I have not been very good at remembering to water it… so let’s just say that you would not want to see what it looks like right now… I will probably be taking it down this weekend 😬But hey, at least it looked good for the holidays!
And as if life was not already crazy enough for me this past month, I caved in and went on a quick trip to Florida with my mom and sister. It was fun escaping the cold for 2.5 days… but it was also kind of exhausting.
With my plan to take off 3 days the week of Christmas, I felt too guilty to request an additional 2 days to go on a last minute trip to Florida with my mom and sister. SO I worked while there from 6 am – 2 pm and spent my evenings exploring Downtown Disney & Epcot! Let’s just say I felt like an absolute zombie every morning getting up for work 🙃
The following week my entire family arrived in town and all of the festivities began. I wrapped up my work and dove straight into baking and cooking for Christmas. This year I went absolutely nuts with baking and baked:
- Peppermint Mocha Cookies (recipe) – Last year I made these for my company’s Christmas party and they were a huuuuuge hit, so I decided to make them again this year, this time for my family.
- Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies w/ M&Ms (recipe) – I thought it would be more fun to use M&Ms instead of chocolate chips for this recipe and it was a great decision! They turned out amazing!
- Cream Cheese Stuffed Red Velvet Cookies (recipe) – these were honestly my family’s favorite of the bunch. They were very time consuming to make but tasted absolutely incredible. Thank goodness I made 2 batches of these… because my mom ate most of them!! (love you mom)
While I would love to share a photo of all of the cookies I made (~200 or so cookies)… I did not take any pictures. I was so busy trying to quickly bake cookies to bring over to my family’s Christmas Eve part that taking photos never crossed my mind.. which is a rarity.
After baking for a majority of Christmas Eve, my family headed over to my cousin’s house for our family’s annual Christmas party. It has been two or so years since I have been to my family’s Christmas party.. so I had a lot of catching up to do. I also wanted to really be in the moment and enjoy my time with my family, so very few photos were taken. Above you can see all of the photos I took that day.
Christmas Day started off similarly to Christmas Eve. I woke up early to start cooking for the dinner we would be having at our house that night. I think I went a little overboard.. because we had leftovers that lasted us a week..
Saying Yes to the Dress!
After being asked 10,000 times by all of my cousins if I had a dress picked out, I decided that it was time to start dress shopping. That following weekend, my mom, sister, and I headed over to a bridal shop nearby to just “look” at dresses. My mom found the boutique online and to be honest… I had no intention of finding the dress there.
Oh how wrong I was though!
I tried on 6 or so dresses and each one I thought was pretty. I remember standing in each dress being like “very nice”.. but did not feel a strong attachment to any of them. I think the stylist helping me was picking up on the fact that I hadn’t yet found the dress, so she went to their backroom again to search for a few more dresses.
She walked in with 4 more dresses and began to show me each of them. One of the dresses I saw I knew right away that I wasn’t going to like it, so I kindly asked not to try it on. For those of you who do not already know this.. I hate trying clothes on. It’s just so much “effort” having to change in and out of clothing 😂
She then began to show me another dress and before I could say “no, I don’t like it” she began saying how much she loved the dress and that it was her favorite dress there. I closed my mouth and reluctantly tried on the dress. I thought it would be rude not to try it on after she just raved about how beautiful it was. It was not like any of the dresses I thought I liked. It was very different.. and for me, I thought it wasn’t my style.
Well, I put that bad baby on and well, somethings you just should not judge by their cover. Or in this case, by the way they look on a hanger. It was absolutely gorgeous on and finally I felt the feeling I had been searching for. This was the dress. The dress that I thought was ugly on a hanger.
So, I said yes to the dress and I could not be happier with what I picked out. It is such a beautiful dress and I can’t wait for you all to see it… in 9 months 😉
Goodbye 2019, Hello 2020
Before I knew it, it was New Years Eve. I was exhausted from the craziness of the past month but was excited for what was to come in 2020.
With all of the running around Ian and I have been doing, we wanted to take it easy this year for NYE. I honestly did not have the energy or desire to go out and party it up for NYE. Maybe I am getting old?
So instead of partying, Ian and I spent our NYE with my mom, grandma, Aunt Jun, & Uncle Jason. We all had a NYE dinner, hung out in our living room chatting with some coffee to keep us all awake, and then ended our night watching Hot Ones on Youtube. If you haven’t watched Hot Ones yet, you should. In the videoes, celebrities are interviewed while having to eat hot wings that progressively get hotter as the questions progress. It’s pretty entertaining.
A quick reflection on 2019
Now that 2019 is over and we are a little over a week into 2020, I thought I would write a quick recap and reflection of how my past year went. This past year was absolutely crazy, so I think I am going to stick to bullet points for both of our sake.
A quick glance at what happened in 2019:
- Ian and I ventured out to Astoria, Oregon, for our very first time and it was incredible! (read about it here)
- I sang at a karaoke bar for the first and only time in my life. Of course I went all out and just had to choose Bohemian Rhapsody as my first debut 😂I sang with my future sister-in-law and it was so much fun! No one sang along with us.. but at least we were enjoying ourselves! (read about it here)
- I visited my mom in Casper, Wyoming (post on it here)!
- Ian and I visited Portland’s Night Market for the first time and it was awesome! Their Valentine’s Day theme was so cute! (post on it here)
- Ian had a conference in Chicago for work, so I went along with him. We had a blast hanging out downtown and spending time with my aunt and uncle. (Chicago post & part two )
- I had a meeting in NYC that was scheduled last minute, so I flew straight from Chicago to NYC. I spent my entire day in a meeting but got to end the evening having dinner with coworkers & our client, grab drinks at the 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar (which was awesome by the way), and walk around Times Square with a few coworkers. It was a very quick trip but was actually a lot of fun.
- Ian and I celebrated our anniversary and we GOT ENGAGED! (Engagement post)
- One of my best friends, Maddie, came out to Portland to celebrate our engagement with us. I had so much fun showing her around town 🙂 (post on Maddie’s visit)
- We spent Easter with Ian’s family and went to a Tulip Festival. (Easter & Tulip Festival post)
- Ian and I religiously watched the Portland Trail Blazers
- I flew back out to NYC for another meeting with a client of mine. After being in NYC for a little over 24 hours, I flew back to Portland, picked my brother up from the airport that night, and finished preparing for our Engagement Party. We rented an Airbnb in Rockaway beach. (post on our: Engagement Party & NYC)
- I went to Park City, Utah, for my company’s annual conference.
- Ian and I went to the zoo with his niece, Lilly!
- We spent the 4th of July at Disneyland! It was also my first time taking more than 2 days of PTO off in around 2 or so years… so I was very excited to have a few extra days off of work AND to hangout at Disneyland. (Disneyland post)
- Ian & I went to our first Jazz Festival in Cathedral Park and it was awesome!!
- Celebrated Ian’s birthday with his family! (Ian’s Birthday post)
- Headed out to Astoria & Seaside, Oregon for a mini weekend getaway AND played in my very first Beach Volleyball Tournament. Man oh man did I get sunburned though!! (Beach Volleyball & Weekend Getaway post)
- Ian and I went to see Herbie Hancock & Kamasi Washington at the Oregon Zoo and it was an absolute blast! I will miss going to Oregon Zoo concerts! (Zoo Concert post)
- Ian and I went on our first INTERNATIONAL vacation together to Costa Rica!! It was so much fun and I wish I can go back on vacation now 😂 (day 1 post, day 2 post, day 3 post)
- Ian and I headed back to Chicago for a weekend and got to spend quality time with my family and celebrate my great aunt and uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary. (Family Reunion post)
- Ian’s grandmother passed away.
- My mom came to out to Portland and surprised us by having my brother join her. We spent our weekend together exploring Crater Lake and Bend, Oregon. I honestly fell in love with Bend. If Ian or I had family closer to Bend and there were more job opportunities.. I would probably want to move there. Oh well! (see my Bend post here)
- I baked a cake for the first time in years for Ian’s mom’s birthday! The cake turned out okay.. but we had a blast getting to celebrate with her by cheering her on at her art show & having dinner together 🙂 (Cindy’s Birthday post)
- Ian & I finally took Engagement Photos! (check them out here)
- We went to see the Oregon Ballet Theatre to listen to Ian’s Aunt play the harp! It was such an awesome experience.
- I celebrated my birthday at one of my favorite restaurants, Toro Bravo, with Ian! (My Birthday post)
- Ian found out that he would be getting promoted and transferring to Chicago – so we began planning our move to Chicago.
- Ian and I decided to go to Leavenworth, Washington to celebrate my birthday and his promotion. It was absolutely gorgeous there and I would love to go back one day. (Leavenworth post)
- I had an opportunity I was excited for fall through. It was definitely a bummer but I was still excited for the potential opportunities ahead of me.
- Cindy, Ian’s mom and my future mother-in-law, planned a surprise birthday party for me and it was the sweetest thing ever ❤
- Ian and I found out last minute that our apartment building messed up our move-out date.. so we had to scramble and get out of our apartment in record time. (Moving out post)
- We spent the last 2 weeks of our time in Oregon living with Ian’s family. It was so nice being able to spend quality time together before making the move.
- We celebrated Thanksgiving with Ian’s family and said our goodbyes.
- We moved to Illinois and drove ~2,000 miles in just under 3 days.
- We kind of unpacked…
- Ian started his new position downtown Chicago.
- I interviewed & worked
- I received an incredible job offer that I was so excited to accept. While I am a little nervous about changing companies, I am so excited to for the awesome opportunity ahead of me!
And there you have it! A very summarized version of all of the big events / life happenings from 2019. This past year was full of SO many big life changes and in retrospect, was an incredible year. It was, also, a very stressful year. There were so many awesome moments and memories I made and experienced but also a little bit of fear and uneasiness. Change is exciting.. but it is also a little scary.
Now that you made it through this lengthy post, I want to hear from you all! It has been a while since the last time we spoke 🙂 So here are my questions for you:
~ Any highlights / favorite memories you have from 2019?
~ If you could use one word to describe your year, how would you describe it?
~ What are you looking forward to in 2020?