Saturday, December 31, 2011

Farewell 2011

Another year has come and gone.  Another 365 days full of memories.  Let's take a look back on the glorious 2011.

For the first time in my life, I welcomed the New Year in another state.  I had a week left of my original program at Disney World and would soon be starting an extension.  I rang in the new year at a small gathering with some friends from life guarding.  We watched the countdown and I even had my first New Years kiss with my then-boyfriend Brett.  The following week, I was saying goodbye to many new friends as they returned to all corners of the county and the world.  I moved from one apartment complex to another and got 4 new roommates.  I continued my Resort of the Week project that I had started in the last days of December.  It was so awesome going around to all the resorts and seeing new things, since the parks had kind of gotten stale by then.  I worked a little at All-Star again, but I also got to do new things at my home region, like work in the aqua play area, which allowed for more guest interaction.

In February, I worked through the first week and a half and then finally got to go home and visit my family in Colorado.  I had seen them since the end of July (except for Rachel and Sam coming to visit on separate occasions).  Brett flew to Colorado with me too on our first ever trip together.  We celebrated Valentine's Day the next day--my first with a boyfriend--and our three month anniversary later that week.  He flew home the next day and I stayed a little longer, spending time with my family and some of my friends.  When I went back to Florida, I realized my heart belonged in Colorado and I needed to self-terminate my internship two months early and move back home.  It was a tough decision, but the right one.  Brett and I spent my last days in Florida together, doing some things I hadn't done--like going to the beach.  On the last day of the month, I departed for a cross-country roadtrip.  Solo.  I drove all the way to Baton Rouge, Louisiana that day and stayed with my aunt and uncle.

I was at my aunt and uncle's house for the first week in March.  I got to see both of my cousins (and Nicole's daughter for the first time) and even do some real Louisiana stuff, like eat alligator.  At the end of the week, I drove to Dallas to meet my mom.  We drove the rest of the way back to Colorado together.  It was a fun day that got me hooked on audiobooks.  In my first weeks home, I looked for a job and went to the library almost every weekend.  I started baking with my sister Cady a lot more and even went to my first-ever Nuggets game.  By St. Patrick's Day, I had started a job at a local day care center where my sister Rachel already worked.  I was hired as the assistant teacher in the room for babies that are 6 months to 1 year.  It didn't take long for me to fall in love with those babies.  Near the end of the month, I got my first litter of foster kittens for the year--and since July 2010.  Arthur, Ariadne, and Mal quickly made themselves at home and we quickly fell in love.

In April, I got to see snow for the first time in about a year.  I was so excited, because it was a far cry from those 100 degree days at Disney World.  I went to my second-ever spring football game at CU a few weekends into the month and got to see a future NFL star (Nick Solder) and a current NFL star (Mason Crosby).  It felt so good to be back at Folsom Field and definitely started a countdown to regular season kick-off.  Our Inception kittens only spent a month with us, as they all got fixed and went onto the adoption floor only a month after we took them in.  Near the end of the month, I went on vacation back to Disney World, something I had been looking forward to since I had left.  I spent 10 days with Brett, doing Disney World parks and even going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for the first time.  I got to see a few other friends while I was down there and go to another Orlando Magic game.  I even finished my Resort of the Week project.  I also rose early the morning of the Royal Wedding to watch history being made.  It was awesome, and probably something my future daughter will ask me about in years to come.  (And I think it's the first month in forever that I haven't seen a movie in the theater!)

I got back to Colorado at the beginning of May and went straight back to work.  One thing I can say of those kids is they made me miss work very much while I was on vacation.  And I don't think I've ever missed work before!  Early in the month, my little sister and I went to see one of my favorite authors, Sarah Dessen, kick off her book tour in Boulder.  I finally have an autographed book!  Two, actually.  When the Rockies celebrated their firefighter appreciation night, my whole family (literally) went down to Coors Field for a chilly game.  But we won!  And luckily, it wasn't my only game of the year.  My mom and I went to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo for the first time, and it was amazing!  Next, we got two new kittens who we named after Prince Harry and Pippa Middleton.  A few days later, they called asking if we would take more.  No problem!  Most of the rest of the month was filled with babies at work and kittens at home.  Heaven.

In June, Cady and I continued our three months of baking adventures, baking things from the cook books I got in Disney World.  Yum!  A few weeks in, we had to send Harry and Pippa back to go onto the adoption floor.  Although Harry hadn't yet been fixed, he was definitely ready to find a permanent home.  My friend Julie and I went to another Rockies game with our friends Austin and Colin, who we started hanging out with again during the summer.  (We know each other from Snowbound 2010.)  On the last Friday of the month, my mom, Rachel, and I volunteered at an amazing event at our church.  Shine was a prom-like party for people in the community with disabilities.  Rachel and I worked games while our mom served snacks.  We both got to see people from high school, which was hands-down the best part.  Although I worked fewer hours than normal in June, and even contemplating finding a new job, I stuck with it and couldn't have been happier.  It really goes to show how quickly you can bond with kids!  I love those babies.

July got off to a slow start.  The Fourth of July was about as exciting as it usually is, which for me isn't very.  I don't know why, but I'm just not a fan of that holiday.  At work we said goodbye to another baby, and got a brand new one, and one moved up from the other room.  Cady and I planned an elaborate feast in order to celebrate the second half of the final Harry Potter film.  It was so much fun to make all of the Hogwarts Express treats and a traditional British dinner.  The feast went off without a hitch and tasted delicious.  The next weekend, we celebrated Rachel's 24th birthday at a hip new restaurant in Denver, Root Down, and then went to the final Harry Potter movie.   At the end of the month, I had to say goodbye to Bea and Lucy, which was really difficult.  They were probably my favorite kittens, dare I say it.  I started babysitting a lot more at the end of the month as well.  And on the last weekend of the month, I went with my Dad's family up to Grand Lake for two days of fun.  We used to go to Grand Lake as an extended family (20 people) every other year, so it brought back a lot of memories.  It was so much fun!

The beginning of August brought my biggest birthday yet: 21.  I had a pretty low-key birthday, going out drinking with some close friends and family, but nothing too crazy.  The next day, we went to my new favorite breakfast place, Snooze in Denver, and a Rockies game.  I also said goodbye to Bea and Lucy, but got a new pair, Shane and Sean right away.  We only had those two for two weeks, and boy were they a handful.  I also got my wisdom teeth pulled in mid-August.  It was kind of a weird experience, and I can definitely notice the lack of teeth in my mouth, but I'm glad the pain has gone away.  I caught up on my Oscars project while I was down from Friday to Tuesday.  I also got a custom blog design in August!  That was big news for my blog.  After my mouth healed and I was relying on pain killers anymore, I got a new pair of kittens: Twig and Leif.  They were pretty young and pretty tiny, but so cute.  They just needed some work with people.  In less exciting news, I also housesat for the first time.  That was definitely an interesting experience, and I would totally do it again!

September brought the start of my favorite time of the year: college football season.  Last fall, I only went to one college football game, and that was Florida-LSU, so I didn't even get to see my Buffs play once!  Unfortunately, their season opener in Hawaii was rather like the rest of the month (and season)...disappointing.  But, through the month of September I got to go back to Folsom Field for a devastating overtime loss to Cal and watch the Buffs get their first win at the new Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver.  Both days were quite fun!  My babysitting side job took off in the month of September.  There wasn't a single weekend that I didn't babysit once, if not twice.  It was nice on the wallet, but a little trying on my social life.  The country remembered the horrible attacks in New York City on the tenth anniversary of September 11th, and it finally resonated with me.  I picked up my old shopping habits once again, which had been on temporary hiatus for about a year, and spent more money in September than July and August combined!  But I did get some great stuff.  I also found out that Leif and Twig had ringworm, but ultimately we decided to take them back and go through their treatment with them.  I also really picked up running in the month of September.  I started running 3-4 times a week and really enjoyed it, surprisingly enough.  I even bought new running shoes at the end of the month.  And on the final day of the month, I jetted off across the country to New York City, once again.

On the first day in October, I woke up in New York.  I spent the day walking around the United States Military Academy at West Point and then going to the Army-Tulane football game.  It was such a fun Saturday, and fulfilled my dream of seeing that campus.  That night, we went back to the city.  It was a fun long weekend, certainly one for the books.  I did a lot of baking in October, including making a pumpkin-shaped chocolate cake.  I also ran my first ever mile, non-stop.  It was definitely one of my greater accomplishments at life.  (Even if it is pathetic that it came at 21.)  I got to see my favorite band, Anberlin, perform for the second time, this time in my home state.  It was such a blast, and as usual, they were amazing in concert.  My family also got wonderful news that my sister and her boyfriend became engaged!  I'm so excited for them!!  And finally, I started my weekly Pinterest Challenge, to help apply some of my many pins to real life.  October ended with Halloween, of course, and once again, I wasn't that excited about the holiday.  Halloween has never been my thing, but I did have fun doing some Halloween crafts with the kids at school and seeing all the little ones in costume!

Nothing notably exciting happened in the beginning of November.  I missed the first CU game of the month (against USC) due to the cold weather, but went to the final home game of the season against Arizona.  The finally got their second win of the season, and everyone in the stadium suffered through 50 MPH winds to watch.  The morning of the Arizona game, I ran my first race in years.  (I think I had only done two total in my lifetime.)  I didn't do as well as I had hoped to, but I was so proud I did it at all!  Six months ago, you wouldn't catch me dead at a race.  The following weekend, I jetted across the country to Chicago with two friends, Colin and Julie, to hang out with our friend Austin.  We had an amazing long weekend sight-seeing, eating, and just hanging out.  It was so much fun!  And the best part was, I got to bust out some of my favorite scarves, which have been out of commission for a long time.  The morning of Thanksgiving, I ran in my second race and definitely didn't do as well as I hoped to, but again, at least I did it.  Now I have a building block to start on for another race in the spring!  I spent Thanksgiving with my dad's side of the family, which I haven't done in a long time.  We had three (relatively) new faces at the table with a new husband, a new fiance, and a new girlfriend.  It's so awesome that our family is expanding!  The day after Thanksgiving, I went up to Snowmass Village in the mountains for an evening of relaxation all thanks to LivingSocial coupons.  I finished out the month working and spending time with friends, old and new.  Oh yeah, and I got glasses in November!  I could finally see this beautiful world we live in.

Being home in December was good enough for me!  I was so grateful and blessed to be able to spend time with my family during the holiday season, because I really missed that last year.  Work was a little bit slow due to the holidays, but it gave me more time to spend with family and friends and even at the gym!  I saw a record-breaking seven movies in theaters, but finished no books.  One of the most exciting things about the month was going to my first Broncos game with my friend Nathan.  They lost to the Patriots, but it was still an awesome experience.  I completed a few more goals from my list of 101, most notably making everyone's gifts for Christmas.  That was a lot of fun, and definitely something I want to try again!  It was just such a great holiday season at home.  We got a lot of snow the week before Christmas, I made a gingerbread house, and I got to spend the holidays with my family and all of our traditions.  I couldn't ask for more!  I also went to my first-ever company Christmas party!  So much fun.  As the year started to wind down, I just caught up with old friends who were back in town and spent time with my family.  I'm so excited for the new year!  I can't wait to see what 2012 brings.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Home for the Holidays

I'm so grateful to be home in Colorado this holiday season.  It snowed a lot on the 21st, so not only was I home, but I had a white Christmas for the first time in a long time!  It's been amazing.

Being a teacher has been incredible this time of year also.  A number of my kids were so generous, giving me money to Starbucks, hand cream and lotions (they must think we wash our hands a lot!), and other goodies.  It's feels so great to be remembered by those families!

Christmas festivities with the family started on Friday afternoon.  I went over to my dad's house to make the traditional sugar cookies.  Frosting them is always one of our favorite activities around the holidays.  This year, we waited until the day before Christmas Eve so they wouldn't all be gone by the time we had people over!  Sam, Cheryl, and I had a lot of fun cutting out the cookies and then frosting them.

I was able to frost a few before I had to leave.  My grandparents on my mom's side were having the family over for dinner.  We had a yummy ham with broccoli, au gratin potatoes, and bread.

Saturday was, of course, Christmas Eve.  For the first time ever, I had a tiny bit of shopping to do.  One of my gifts (that I was giving) had broke, so I needed to buy a replacement.  (You'll see tomorrow on my Pinterest was a vase.)  I headed over to Target in the afternoon and it was PACKED.  I've never had to park so far away.  Luckily the store wasn't too crowded, or else I just wasn't paying attention.  But boy was the parking lot crazy.

At 3:00, my brother, cousin, mom, Rachel, and I went to the Christmas Eve service at our church.  It was absolutely wonderful.  They always play a song to countdown the beginning of the service, but this week it was "Christmas Eve" by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  It was incredible.  I've never been to a Christmas service at this church, but my mom said that last year they only played one traditional Christmas song, so I was a little worried.  They did not disappoint.

The service started with one of the women in the worship band singing "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" a capella, later joined by one of the men.  They were standing in the aisles in the sanctuary, which was pitch-black except for the spotlight on them.  Next, they shined a spotlight on the balcony above the stage with one of the drummers.  A little boy who I've never seen perform at the church before then sang "Drummer Boy".  That was mostly what the service was about.

See, "Drummer Boy" tells the story of a boy who went to visit Baby Jesus, but had nothing to give him but his song.  So the pastor talked about praising Jesus with what you have.  You don't need to give a "Lexus-sized gift" (like in the Lexus Christmas commercial), but just make sure you honor and praise the Lord.

We sang some more Christmas songs, like "Hark the Harold Angels" and another one I'm forgetting.  The service ended with turning down the lights in the sanctuary again and lighting candles to sing Silent Night.  With probably 3500 people in the sanctuary, it looked pretty incredible!

After church, Rachel, Travis, and I went my dad's house for the usual Christmas Eve festivities.  Cheryl's (my stepmom) family usually comes over for appetizers, presents, and cookies.  We had a delicious spread (Caprese salad on toothpicks, little smokies, veggies, rolls with crab and cream cheese inside, and more).  My little cousin Riley is the only little kid in the family now at 5, so he wanted to check the Santa Tracker periodically to make sure he wasn't close to Colorado yet.  Luckily, he hadn't even traveled across the Atlantic yet!

We opened presents, taking turns from youngest to oldest.  My siblings and I (and now Travis) draw names, and this year I got Rachel.  I gave her a yellow 'R' as a three-part gift for her and Travis.  Travis got a yellow 'T' and they both got a gray 'M' for his last name, but they opened those Christmas morning.  Their wedding colors are yellow and gray, and I figured it might look cool at the reception, but definitely in their house.  I gave my dad and Cheryl, and Anna and Eric (my aunt and uncle) a candle in a vase that I made.  And Rachel, Travis, and I got Riley two books: Walter the Farting Dog and Pirates Don't Change Diapers.  He loved it.  

I got earrings, The Hunger Games trilogy, perfume (Coach Poppy), and a Khol's gift card from my dad and Cheryl.  Scott, who drew me in the sibling exchange, gave me two pairs of earrings.  Anna, Eric, and Riley gave me earrings and a scarf.  Cheryl gave Rachel, Sam, my dad, and me all a picture of us sisters at a football game this year.  It was perfect!  After presents, we busted out the cookies.  I could inhale those sugar cookies!  We headed back to our house just as Cady, Tristan, Aaron, and Dorian were leaving.

Christmas Tree #1

Eric, Anna, Rachel, & Travis

Eric & Anna with the gift I made them

Cheryl & Dad with the gift I made them

Anna with the gift Rachel made them

Santa Eric, Santa Riley, & Santa Rachel

Riley loved Walter the Farting Dog

Rachel with her 'R'

The silliest Christmas Eve tradition of them all

Rachel, Samantha, & me

Scott, Rachel, Samantha, & me

Rachel got Scott a pair of sweat pants, but since he's so tall, the waist only gets so small...he's like Jared from the Subway commercials!

On Christmas morning, we got off to a slow start.  The older the kids are, the later the festivities seem to begin.  My brother Aaron and cousin Dorian came over to open presents and to have our traditional Christmas morning breakfast.  (We have cream cheese braids, grits pie, mushroom pie, and fruit salad.)  I gave both Aaron and my mom the candle in the vase.  Travis opened the rest of their wooden monogram, and I also gave them the two cans of spray paint I used, so they could use it for their wedding decor, if needed.

My mom gave me a great book about Pauline Kael, a famous movie critic, a new jacket, and a hat.  Travis gave me a sign to hang up that says "He restores my soul" and Rachel gave me some cool handmade things, like a box made out of an orange peel and the letter H on a dictionary page.  She also gave me a pair of jeans.  And I got a bracelet, socks, and lots of chocolate in my stocking.

Christmas Tree #2

2011 Santa

And the stockings were hung by the chimney with care...

2011 Christmas cards

Travis with their 'M'

Rachel read us "The Christmas Mice" while we waited for Aaron & Dorian to arrive

While Rachel and Travis went to his family's celebration, the rest of us went over to my grandparents house were we had roast, potatoes, sweet potato casserole, rolls, Brussels sprouts, and green beans.  When we had all finished eating, we got to open Christmas crackers that Cady brought over.  They're actually from England, and apparently a popular English tradition.  All of the crackers had a paper crown, a piece of paper with a very British joke, and something else.  We all got something pretty fitting for our personalities.  My nephew got a round die, my brother Aaron (the English professor) got a pen, my mom got a picture frame, my grandpa got a small set of screw drivers, and I got a little brain teaser game, which was extra funny because my grandpa has made a few games like that and was torturing me with them all morning!  I can't remember was Dorian, grandma, Jeromy, or Cady got in their crackers, or they weren't as fitting.  But it was pretty perfect and completely on accident!  After lunch, we opened presents.  I gave Cady and Jeromy and my grandparents the same candle in a vase.  My grandparents gave me a fleece jacket.

Christmas Tree #3

Christmas cracker crowns

Cady with the gift Rachel made her

My dad picked me up in the middle of opening gifts to go to my aunt and uncle's house for the annual family gift exchange.  It was so great to see everyone, because my cousins Thomas and Brittany were home and I haven't seen them in years!  In fact, I can't remember the last time I saw them.  Everyone was there except for my uncle's family that live in Oregon, so we were missing Uncle Rob, Aunt Katie, Ben, and Will.  Also, the significant others, like Travis, my cousin Erik's girlfriend, and Brittany's boyfriend were missing.

But we had a great time.  We hung out for a while cooking, eating, and having a great time.  For dinner, we ate at an extremely long table (it would have to be to fit our whole family).  We had assigned seats, so I sat down on one end with my dad, Samantha, and my cousins Brittany and Amy.  We had a great time and great conversation.  Dinner was pretty similar to what we had on Thanksgiving, just with fewer choices.  We had turkey, green beans, sweet potatoes, corn casserole, stuffed mushrooms, probably a few other things, and Amy's husband Aaron made some delicious bread!

After dinner, we went into the living room to open gifts.  Since our family is so huge, we've always drawn a name to gift a gift to.  It used to be the ten grandchildren do one drawing and then the ten adults--when my grandparents were still alive--would do another drawing.  But with all of the kids getting older (the youngest is 14 now), we've combined the two and it's just one big free-for-all!  This year, instead of opening gifts youngest to oldest, we decided to go by birthday, meaning the month and day.  And after we opened our gift, we had to pull a block from a Jenga that was set up in the middle of the room.  That made it a lot of fun and a lot more intense!  The other new thing about this year is that gift cards were banned.  We have a $25 limit, so it eventually turned into an exchange of $25 to various stores and became very impersonal.  So this year we each made a wish list for the person that drew us.  I got Aaron, my cousin's husband, and gave him a micro plane zester.  My cousin Ben, from Oregon, drew me and gave me an apron, a scarf, and a little wallet that goes around your wrist.

Christmas Tree #4

Me & Scott (LB!)

(11 versions of this picture on my camera and all of them are like this!)
Back row: Erik, Amy, & Scott
Front row: Sam, Brittany, Rachel, Thomas, & me

Back row: Erik, Amy, Aaron, Scott
Front row: Sam, Brittany, Rachel, Thomas, & me

Sam, Brittany, & Rachel

Cheryl, Dad, Brittany, Scott, Sam, Erik, Aunt Kathy, Thomas, Aunt Ann

By the time everyone had opened their gifts, we were still going strong on the Jenga, so we continued to play in the same order.  We got through the whole year once more, but then it fell on my Aunt Ann, who has the second birthday in January.  It was so much fun though!  That's definitely a tradition that should stay around for a while.  After Jenga, we played charades, like at Thanksgiving.  It was actually pretty hard because it was on the second to highest level of difficulty, but it was still a lot of fun.  The only thing missing was Uncle Rob's family, but hopefully we'll all be together (all 19 of us) soon!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and made lots of lasting memories with loved ones!  I'm so blessed to have such big families on all three sides...and that almost all of them live so close!  Having traditions and making new traditions is what makes Christmas so special, and I think I appreciate that now more than ever.

Friday, December 23, 2011


One of my favorite things about Christmas is gingerbread.  Gingerbread houses!  Gingerbread men!  And of course gingerbread.  The soft kind you eat with whipped cream on top.  Yummy!

Earlier this week, I had some spare time, so I decided to whip up a rather easy recipe so some holiday cheer.  I got the recipe from Pinterest, but I have something else for you guys this week on my Pinterest Challenge.


  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup hot water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 inch square pan. In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the egg, and mix in the molasses. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Blend into the creamed mixture. Stir in the hot water. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan before serving. Cut into squares and serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

The recipe comes from this pin, here.  Definitely try it out!

While my gingerbread was baking, I made a gingerbread house.  I must admit, that it was from a kit.  I didn't follow the directions too well, but it turned out alright.  I haven't made a gingerbread house in years.  Last time I did (2004, maybe?), it was homemade and kind of a pain in the butt, to be honest.  But it was fun.  And it even still smelled like gingerbread!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Windy City - Day 4

Sunday was our last full day in Chicago.  We, as usual, had a lazy morning, but surprisingly we were out of the apartment and on the bus before noon!  Austin had gone into work again that morning, so Julie, Colin, and I took the bus down to the Mexican place Julie and I had discovered the night before to show Colin our green chile find and the best guacamole ever!  The original plan was to just get chips and guacamole, then head downtown for some Chicago style hot dogs, but we were all starving so we ended up just chowing down there.

It was actually the coldest day (in my opinion), but the calmest wind-wise.  It wasn't too much fun waiting for the bus, but it had to be done.  We took it down to the train and had to wait there for quite sometime.  There was a couple headed out to the Bears game that was also waiting for the train and indirectly showed us that you can stand under heat lamps to not be so chilly!  We ended up striking up a conversation with them based on their Bears attire and Colin talked to the guy for forever about fantasy football.  We got on the same car, but didn't sit next to each other.  I remember seeing them get off the train a few stops ahead of them, but then when we made the transfer, we ended up sitting right behind them in the next train!  Crazy!

We walked downtown and since it was the last day of the buy one get one deal at Starbucks, we decided to take advantage of it and hang out for a bit.  Plus Colin needed to charge his phone.  Julie was basically getting stir crazy about the lack of shopping we did in the city, so she took off down State Street to shop around.  I'm seriously not a big shopper, especially when I'm not looking for something in particular and I'm not in a standing and wandering kind of mood!  Colin and I hung out for a while so he could charge his phone, then Austin met us after he got off work.  We could have done something else, but none of us really felt like it and Starbucks was so warm, so we ended up just hanging out there for probably three hours.

We had plans to meet up with Liz and Krista again for dinner, so when Julie came back from shopping we hopped on the train to meet them at Giordano's for some world famous pizza.  Julie and I had been craving it the whole trip due to our bad experience when we were in Chicago last summer.  She had been talking it up the whole drive into Illinois, but when we finally went to one of the locations, it ended up being a major disappointment.  If I remember correctly, they could only make us personal pizzas for some reason and I think only cheese.  And they weren't that great.  But they did let us watch The Bachelorette (Ali) finale.  YAY for that.

We met the girls there and waited about 45 minutes before being seated.  Luckily, they let you put your pizza order in before you sit down so it doesn't take as long, but we still had to wait close to 20 minutes after we sat down.  Krista, Liz, and I split a pizza with pepperoni, black olives, and mushrooms.  Colin, Austin, and Julie split a pizza with just pepperoni.  It was so good.  To die for, actually.

Best pizza in Chicago


Pepperoni, Black Olives, Mushrooms

Me & Krista

After dinner, Austin went to meet up with Devin, and then Liz and Krista took the opposite train at the station.  Julie, Colin, and I just headed back to the apartment to clean up a little bit and so we could all get ready to leave Monday morning.  By that point, we were all beat and a little Chicagoed out.

It was so much fun though, and so incredible that Austin let us crash at his place for the long weekend.  It's always fun to travel with friends and Julie and I are definitely slowly conquering the country.  Next time it's either the West Coast or the Northeast, right Julie?

I had to catch a cab at 3:15 in the morning to get to Midway in time for my 6:00 flight.  That's definitely not a fun departure time, but it had to be done to a conflict that of course was rescheduled.  Unfortunately Midway only had two flights to Denver that day and they were at complete opposite times of the day.  It was strange.

It didn't take as long as expected to get to the airport, so I actually arrived thirty minutes before the front desk (and security) even opened.  Since everyone was just arriving at 4:00, I breezed through security and just hung out for about an hour and a half before my flight.  For once, I actually slept a good portion of it!  It was good to be back in Colorado and smell that mountain air, but I missed Chicago already.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Windy City - Day 3

Austin had to head downtown Saturday morning for work, so Julie, Colin, and I took advantage of the opportunity to sleep in.  After some pancakes and orange juice, we hopped on the CTA to go downtown ourselves.  We had a little mix up with transportation, so we ended up walking down State Street which was quite alright.  We were able to stop for our daily Starbucks.

While walking down the main part of the street, two guys stopped us (we don't think they saw Colin with us) to ask where we got our "cups".  "Starbucks," we replied.  They then asked us where the nearest one was, but we ended up talking to them for about ten minutes.  We were supposed to meet Liz and Krista at the State Street Library, but since we got held up by the walking and then the strangers, we missed them at the library.  However, we were able to meet up with Austin there.

The plan was to head over to Millennium Park to see the famous bean.  Julie and I had been there when we first arrived in Chicago last time we were there, but everything is just so different from summer to fall/winter, so we had to go again.

Austin, Colin, Julie, & Me

Me & Julie

Me, Julie, Austin, & Colin

Julie & Me
(Another Chicago tradition.)

 Julie & Me

 Austin & Colin

The original plan was to go back to the apartment and cook some stuff for dinner, but while we were heading to the train, Austin said "Chinatown is just two stops that way, should we go?"  So we did!  And I'm so glad.  He took us to a restaurant he had been to before, Lao Beijing, and it was amazing.  Best Chinese food ever.  We each picked an entree and just shared the four.  And we got potstickers.

Julie & Me

We were all pretty tired after that, so we went back to the apartment.  Julie and I had told Krista we would head over to her house that evening for a get together she was having with friends from college and Devin was going to hang out with Colin and Austin for the night.

Julie and I braved the CTA by ourselves (for the second time ever!) and took the bus to Krista's.  We had to take two, and there was a 17 minute wait between the two and it was very cold and very windy, so we headed inside this little Mexican place that the bus stop was in front of called Tony's Burrito Mex.  We decided to get some chips & guacamole while we were waiting and it was probably the best decision either of us have ever made.  It was hands down the best guacamole I've ever tasted!


Krista's house was a lot of fun.  Liz, Julie, and I were all in the same boat, only knowing each other.  But Krista's friends were very nice and really easy to talk to.  We had a lot of fun.  Towards the end of the night, Julie and I cabbed it back to Austin's apartment.  Our cab driver was so friendly!  He told us his whole life story, which was very interesting.