Two years in Chi-town

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As I was walking home from yoga class the other day, all bundled up in my winter gear, I was thinking that only a Chicagoan would think nothing of trekking to the gym in a snowstorm.  And I guess that’s a sign that it’s official. Perfect timing, since I just hit two years in Chi-town!

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My first year in the Midwest was pretty great; after all, moving anywhere new is novel and exciting. But my second year in Chicago has been even better! It really started to feel like home as opposed to a temporary assignment. I’m now used to the infamous winters, I no longer need Google Maps to get everywhere, and I know where all the local hotspots are. Most importantly, I know that 312 beer is pronounced three-one-two, not three-twelve ;)

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With the transition phase out of the way, I was really able to focus on my career. The biggest change came over the summer when I landed the best job ever! The last 8 months have really been a dream-come-true. In addition to using my skillset in a unique and creative way, I really like the people I work with, and truly enjoy what I do. I honestly don’t think that I’ve ever felt this way before. Given that we spend the majority of our days at work, this has been life-changing for me. The new position also affords me great work -life balance, and after all, we work to have a life!

And speaking of having a life, what a year it’s been. From loads of travel, to being a bridesmaid in my best friend’s wedding,  attending my first NFL and NHL games, donating 12 inches of my hair, and even making a cameo on the Jimmy Fallon show…EW!

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I continue to make the most of city life with an amazing group of friends who become more like family every day.  I’ve also had a ton of visitors, which makes living far away from the east coast so much easier.

VisitorsI’ve always been a social creature and being around friends and family makes me happy, so I’m thankful to have so many fun people to hang with!  It kind of surprises me that there’s always something new and exciting to do around here.  In fact, every time I walk through my neighborhood I stumble across another restaurant or bar to add to my list of places to check out.

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When my girl-friends aren’t dragging me out to late-night turtle races or trolley tours around the city, they drag me out to run! I wasn’t much of a runner when I first moved to Chicago, but I made it my goal to run a 5K. Well, I’m proud to say that I actually completed THREE official 5K races in the last year! It feels really good to achieve something I once thought impossible. I may not be the fastest person around, nor do I have any desire to run a marathon, but I realized I have more willpower and drive than I thought. Even if it sometimes takes a deadline and a little bit of fear to get myself in motion!

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But let’s get down to it. As you know from this blog, my passion is travel, and I got to do quite a bit of it last year! When you live far away, you end up missing people, so I’m thankful that I was able to fly all over the US to spend time with my friends and family.

FamilyandFriendsWhile I didn’t hit my goal of traveling to at least one new country last year, I made up for it by visiting 13 states, 5 of them (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana) new to me!  This summer I embarked on an epic road trip with a friend, during which time we visited/hiked/conquered 5 National Parks. As much as I’m a city gal, I experienced a new found love for the great outdoors!

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So that’s the wrap-up of my second year in the Windy City. What’s next? Well, for starters, this is going to big year for travel, which I’m beyond excited about. I have 4 weddings on the books, in addition to a family vacation, and a few business trips. Other than that, who’s to say? I guess a little bit of mystery and the unknown is what makes it fun! Here’s to year 3!

Down in Dallas

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This past weekend, I escaped the bitter cold of Illinois and headed down to Texas. While I’ve been to San Antonio and Austin, this was my first trip to Dallas. I was in town to visit two of my favorite people, Manjula and Fahad, both of whom I met while I lived in NYC, and both of whom happened to end up in Dallas.  While I didn’t do much in the way of sightseeing, I had a blast catching up with friends… which is really what it’s all about!

Welcome cocktails at M’s.

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Black, grey, and white… former New Yorkers through and through!

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The Rustic; quintessentially Texan.

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Off the beaten path…

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So excited to see this girl!

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God bless ‘merica, y’all.IMG_4866

New friends…

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and old friends!

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Definitely rustic.

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Selfie!

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Brunch… outdoors! Amazing food and drinks at Delfrisco’s Grille.

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F’s balcony is the perfect spot for afternoon cocktails. The view!

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Strolling around Uptown. Requisite “stay awake” coffee stop.

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Cowboy Cool.

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Dinner at Velvet Taco, home of the fusion Chicken Tikka & Paneer Tacos. Perfection!

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Singing and dancing our hearts out at Dram. Definitely hit my 10,000 steps that night!

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Morning after brunch at Breadwinners. So necessary after 4 hrs of sleep!

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I had a blast in Dallas! Thanks to all for a fun weekend!

Cruisin’ the Carolinas

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Remember that time I had a blog? Yeah… it’s been a while, but what can I say; the holidays are just full of so many fun events that I spent my time being out and about rather than at a laptop. And so here it is, the tail end of December and I’m about to fill you in on my Thanksgiving trip to the Carolinas!

This year, my family and I decided to convene at my sister’s place in South Carolina. She’s a busy medical resident and her schedule didn’t allow her to travel over the Thanksgiving holiday. My best friend lives close by in North Carolina, so I decided to visit with her as well. I figured the warm weather wouldn’t hurt either!

I flew from Chicago to Charlotte, NC, and Candace, her husband, and son (my Godson, Colton!) picked me up for dinner. Look who we ran into! My friends Evelyn and Chris from Chicago, who recently relocated to the area. It was pretty awesome to be able to catch up with them, and also introduce friends from different chapters of my life.

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Back at the house, Colton and I had lots of silly time before bedtime. Oh, and he said he wore this shirt just for me – I love this kid!

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The next day was lots of fun too. First, breakfast at a super cute southern diner.IMG_3740

This kid loves BACON!

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Then it was time to come home and play. Man, 4 year olds can really wear you out!

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First we rode bikes up and down the driveway (taking a break to attend to some very important paperwork, as you can see). Then it was time for swings! “You have to pump your legs to swing higher!”

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After all of that activity, it was time for a snack… cupcakes it is! The photo below is my favorite of the post. Because Colton wanted ALL THE SPRINKLES! A kid after my own heart.

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“Look, I did it!”

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Colton’s masterpiece… or as Candace called it, “The diabetes special!” heheIMG_3777

Here is my (relatively tame) version!IMG_3781

After such a fun day, it was soon time to head over the border to South Carolona. Road trip!

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Upon arriving into town, we went out to dinner with my sis. There is some surprisingly good/authentic Thai food in the rural south!

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The rest of my time in SC was very laid back and relaxing. Dr.Sister worked several long shifts at the hospital, so my parents and I kept things pretty low key. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them this casual before in my life! I honestly had no idea that my dad even owned a sweatshirt, no lie.

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You’d think with everyone else on their laptops, I would have gotten some blogging done, but I was too busy spending some quality time with my sister’s cat, Sir Pounce de Leon. Thankfully, we are on a first name basis and he lets me call him Pounce!

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We had a great Thanksgiving meal too, with my mom, sister, and I whipping up some great dishes. Food-wise, it was probably one of the very best Thanksgivings. But people-wise, we definitely missed being with our big, extended family up north! Still, it was nice to spend some quality time with my immediate family, and do things like go for long walks, explore the area, and have movie nights.  Before I knew it, it was time to head back to Chicago! This time I flew out of the exceedingly charming Greenville airport.

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I had a lovely time in the Carolinas. I definitely plan to go back when it’s warmer so I can take advantage of the hiking and lake activities!

Lost in translation

My coworker shared this video with me and I could not stop laughing. When traveling to a country where you don’t speak the language, you may or may not want to try Catherine Tate’s method of communication!