down the rabbit hole

an old friend pam, who i met through my friend carol, when we were – maybe 8-9 years old, hosted a first birthday party for her sweet babe leighton! the theme was alice in wonderland and it was so darn cute and cuuuuuute!

pam went all out. there were fun, festive themed decorations everywhere! an easel greeted us on the walkway. there were decorations on the front door, in the hallway, she made a photo booth, a tea party table…i felt like pam was my long lost sister in the party throwing/hosting department! i loved all the details! it was all so cute and perfect!

olive disappeared as soon as we walked inside. she spied the playroom and was gone forever. i chatted with pam’s bestie becky for a bit and made my rounds saying hello to people i knew. i was able to chat with pam’s mom, carol, for awhile, which was really nice because i don’t get to see her very much! i nibbled on some food, checked up on olive, and mingled a bit with some guests.

i convinced olive to sit down for some fruit and pbj, in which she obliged. she was having so much fun with the other kids! i love that she can mold into the new environments and feel comfortable befriending new people. she tends to play a lot by herself {which is ok} but i love that she can entertain herself and be fine or blend into a group.

after we sang happy birthday to leighton, we snapped some pics in the photo booth, and then later, pam opened up the presents given to leighton. olive was sooooo excited to help! i had to tell her a few times to back down and not prematurely open up gifts that were not hers! hahaha!

olive was very sad to leave. she was having so much fun! it fills my heart with joy that my girl was having a good time! i was a bit sad to pull her away but we needed to get home to the hubs and ellie.

thanks pam and ryan for throwing a wonderful, beautiful birthday party for leighton! it was perfectly done and you two are the best hosts!

via tandeminlove.com[sweet pam!]

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[tea party coming right up!]

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[presents galore]

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[croissant sandwiches]

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[how cute is this cake?]

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[she was like, no crown please]

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[there is goes!]

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[pam, leighton, and ryan]

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[my sweet girl!

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[pam surrounded by kids so excited to open presents]

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[me and pampers]

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xoxo

serena and lily

we were invited to an event at a chicago shop called serena and lily {i am obsessed with everything they sell!}! it was to meet the author of the children’s book, a raven’s nest by raven roxanne.

we arrived a bit past ten, at the store, and we were warmly welcomed by the staff, greeting everyone at the entrance. they kindly took our coats and invited us upstairs, where the event was happening. once we hit the landing, we were enveloped by the gorgeous decor, a beautiful brunch spread, and the author made her way over to us to say hello!

i was in photo heaven! the lighting in the space was amazingly perfect and the aesthetics was beachy, coastal cool. the author, roxanne, was just about to sit down and read to the children. i ushered olive and ellie into the room and they nabbed a space close by. after the book reading, the children were encouraged to create their own nests…inspired by the book’s storyline.

the girls nibbled on some treats and sipped on sweet beverages, while i waited patiently for the author to sign her book! once we were done at the event, we traipsed our way over to a yummy restaurant called the blue door {the last time i was there, it was at the old location on armitage and now it’s on halsted}! ohhhhhh, it’s such a good place. again, the decor was inviting and cool and the food and drinks are even better! there was a teeny tiny wait, but the girls entertained themselves. or more so, ellie was rebellious and olive was trying to calm her down. sigh…pretty much how it goes everyday!

after brunch, we walked along armitage and peeked into a few shops! while we were at papersource, ellie completely fell in love with a dog there! the great pyrenees belonged to a couple, who was shopping there too. as soon as ellie saw the dog, she could not let go! like at alllllll! she was in love! it was soooooo darn cute to see her so enamored with this beautiful white dog! i told hc, we found the dog we will get! hahaha!

it was such a perfect morning! we had the best time in the city and the girls were sooooo darn good! let’s admit it, when no one is screaming, crying, fussy, loony, and upset, it always makes for a better time! they had a wonderful time at the event and we all enjoyed our fun, smooth, no bumps in the road outing.

{check out all the fun pics below!!!!}

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[the delicious spread]

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[the girls or girl intently listening. olive was so into it but ellie was side eyeing all the other kids]

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[doesn’t she look so sweet and innocent?]

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[raven roxanne reading her book to the kiddos]

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[she spotted me and wanted up…when she wants me to pick her up, she says, “hugs”. melt!]

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[oh she’s soooooo saucy and sweet. just look at that mug!]

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[drawing their own nests]

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[color choices]

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[raven checking on everyone’s drawing]

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[ellie’s nest]

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[olive’s nest]

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[dream bedrooms set and beautiful girl]

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[can i please have this swing in our house?!]

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[olive wanted to show off her picture!]

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[with the artist and author, roxanne]

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[my sweet girls]

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[the beautiful little book]

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[so dreamy]

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[after the book signing, we ate brunch at the blue door!]

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[this cuuuuute face right here was being very naughty at this moment but oh, that sweet face melts me!]

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[i scolded her and she ran over to the stairs to hide]

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[squishing her face into the railing]

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[pouting]

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[she loves her big sister]

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[more coloring!]

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[the hubs…don’t mind his beard]

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[kale and brussel salad]

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[we’re at papersource lincoln park]

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xoxo

papa’s birthday ’19

we traveled up north to meet rich’s dad and famille to celebrate his birthday!

he picked a place called beelow’s. this would be the second time i’ve eaten there and the second year in a row we’ve gone there to celebrate dick’s birthday there. i, unfortunately, have had two subpar experiences with their food! now, everyone else loves this restaurant and has had a great experience with their food! the service is typically fantastic, which makes all the difference but i think i’m cursed to have not so great encounters with my main dishes!

when we went last year, i ordered the scallops. i looooooove scallops! when my entree arrived, it tasted like it was doused in salt! oh it was tooo salty! i ate one scallop and didn’t finish the rest. i could not eat it or the greens it was sitting on. my whole entree was lost. i was so disappointed! then this year, i decided against sea food and went for a tasty burger. i ordered the fried onion and blue cheese burger with truffle fries! i was excited to eat! i dug into my burger and it was very good! i loved the fries as well. as i was eating my burger, i noticed a piece of black hair on it. i was like, what? how did my hair get in there?? i was wearing a ponytail and i thought it was odd, since my hair really doesn’t fall out in that style. i went to grab the hair off my burger and it was ENTWINED in the meat. ohmergawd. barf. i just about died.

i immediately stopped eating my food. i couldn’t believe it!!!!! i was disappointed and i was once again, hungry! hc looooved his meal, which was great ’cause he didn’t have the best experience last year either. so, at least this time around, one of us had a good meal!

our evening was super chill and as usual, always wonderful when you get to spend it with family! despite my meal{s], it was so good to hang out with the fam. the girls always love seeing their sister, grace, and they absolutely love seeing their papa and gramma! auntie missy is always killing it with the selfie game…she’s queen of selfies and olive and ellie love taking them with her!

it doesn’t matter where or what we do to celebrate papa’s birthday, we just love being with him and gramma! happy birthday sweet papa!

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[isn’t she so sweet?]

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[she’s so silly and sassy]

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[selfie! no filter, no editing, sometimes i look young and other pics i look old AF]

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[the birthday papa and his granddaughter]

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[rich and jane]

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[missy, brian, rich, and jane]

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[daniel, grace, and aunt wendy]

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[gramma and olive]

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xoxo

brunchin’ in the ‘burbs

i was super excited for our date with kt. like suuuuuuper excited. remember when you had all the time in the world to meet your girlfriends for brunch/lunch/dinner {before kids}?? it was always so easy to get together on a whim, meet up, chat for hours, and do it again in no time flash.

well, long gone are those days! oh life! i, maybe, see kt a few times a year. like, whaaaaaaa? #truth. so, us finally getting a date on the calendar was a miracle and i couldn’t wait to catch up!

i picked olive up from school and we headed over to our meeting spot {we arrived sooooo early…i wasn’t sure how long it would take us to get there, so we were extra on time!}. we found a table right by the window, over in the bakery area, and made ourselves comfortable. kt wasn’t too far behind but the girls were just fine, entertaining themselves and admiring all the delicious and pretty looking desserts in the cases.

the one thing that completely fascinated me was that ellie was utterly enamored with kt! ellie is usually afraid of everyone. like seriously…everyone. sometimes her own grandparents, that she sees every day, bother her. hahaha! when kt walked through that door, ellie wanted to be her bff! i was floored. this cray girl doesn’t like anyone she doesn’t know and she grinned ear to ear when kt sat down at the table and immediately started chatting with her! wtf.

we majorly caught up on life. we so needed this time together! we gabbed about kids, work, all the crazy things in life, love, and everything in-between. we ended up staying there for 3 hours!!! the girls were soooooo good! so well behaved and they just entertained themselves the old fashioned way. no iPads, no phones, and we didn’t even break out the toys until 45 minutes or so before we left!

kt’s husband stopped by to join us the last hour! i was hoping to see him because it had been awhile since i last saw him as well! the time we spent there just flew by! this is so cliché but time flies when you’re having fun!

we definitely needed to go because i had to put ellie down for her nap. we said our goodbyes and gave big hugs. it was so good seeing both bobby and kt! the girls loved hanging out with them and we all had such a great time!

until next time my dear and hopefully not too long in-between our next visit! love you guys!

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[i love this brute so much!!]

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[i love french macarons]

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[picture courtesy of my 5 year old!]

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[helping kt open her gift from us]

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[cheers!]

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[raspberry gelato…mmmmmm]

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[yuuuummmmyyyy, gelato]

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[she’s too cute eating her gelato]

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[my sweet girls!]

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[peril cake pops]

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[she’s so darn fun]

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[i love my girls so much!]

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[i’ll never stop saying that i set these two cuties up!]

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[hugs!]

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[my sweet girls…i love them so much!]

xoxo

ravenswood brunch

it had been awhile since i had seen andrea and her family! we finally made concrete plans on the calendar and stuck to it! the fam and i drove to ravenswood to meet up with them for brunch at local irish pub near their abode.

we arrived early {yay! it’s always a win when we do cause usually we are late. #familylife} and waited in a quiet corner of the restaurant while the girls colored away with the paper and crayons that were given to them. jamie and andrea arrived a bit later with their two nuggets in tow.

it’s always so good to see them! i was delighted when they arrived. i’m sure a lot of you understand that energy and vibe you get seeing good friends after a long gap. andrea and i have been friends for quite awhile but we don’t get together very often now that i don’t live close by. add in kids, work, life, etc…it’s too far too much time in-between visits but it always feels just as good and routine when we do meet up.

the girls played together – annabelle brought her entourage of MLP and both my girls were excited to play with them too! ellie, per usual, was attached to me and insisted on sitting on my lap almost the entire time. i can only get her to bug her dada if i trick her into it but it’s usually rare that she chooses to be in his arms over mine! hahaha!

we ate, we drank mimosas and bloody mary’s {i have no idea what beverages the men consumed but i’m sure they were tasty!}, and chatted away about life. after an hour or so, andrea and jamie needed to head out – annabelle had a birthday party to attend. we said our goodbyes and gave our warm hugs before heading out in the major snow!! oh, it was so pretty when we walked outside! the fluffy snow was falling all around and covered the ground!

i must be the only person living in chicago that absolutely loves the snow. it’s been hitting us hard core this winter and i don’t mind one bit. it’s such a joy, so pretty, and i don’t mind driving in it. i prefer to not drive in it but i don’t mind.

well, i hope it’s not too long in-between our next visit with this wonderful family! it was so good seeing you, andrea, and your beautiful family!

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[mean mugging before heading into the restaurant]

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[she’s so wild and fun]

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[working diligently on her artwork]

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[selfie]

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[andrea and sebastian]

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[sweet annabelle and olive]

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[chunker]

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xoxo

valentine’s day ’19

i was quite excited for valentine’s day! we had a fun filled day planned out and although it was the only day that was warm that week {50 degrees amongst the 20 degree other days}, we were pretty much spending the day indoors. our morning started with olive’s parent teacher conference {the teacher had such great things to say about olive!} and we cruised back home to cook a late breakfast and surprise the gals with valentine’s day gifts!

after a delicious heart shaped pancake, bacon, and hash brown meal, we just went about our day finishing up cleaning, the girls played with their new trinkets, and getting random errands done.

as the day wore on, thuy stopped by to spend the afternoon and evening with us, i started to set up the girl’s dessert table for some festive treats. we then decided it was time to start dinner, so while hc prepped the pizza dough, sauce, and cheese, olive cut out the heart shaped pepperonis! she also helped place all the pieces onto the pie before it went into the oven.

dinner was savory {the pizza was sooooooo good hc and olive!] and desserts were even sweeter! soon our day was coming to an end. it started out so great with wonderful feedback for olive at school, hc whipped up a decadent heart themed breakfast, we had fun shooting cute pics for the kiddie dessert table for two, and creating heart shaped pizzas for dinner! it was such a relaxing, slow, peaceful all day celebration. i couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend valentine’s day! it was perfection!

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[i gave these pink pails filled with goodies to the girls for valentine’s day]

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[they were loving their surprises]

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[she’s so sweet]

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[she loved her gift!]

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[she loved the magic marker]

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[yummy heart pancakes, and bacon and hash browns, for breakfast]

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[i had so much fun setting this up for the kids!]

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[sweet vanilla cupcakes for the girls]

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[my favorite]

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[pink milk]

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[that face of should i touch the frosting or not?!]

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[mmmm, got it!]

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[delicious raspberry bars…my favorite!]

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[she was throughly enjoying the frosting]

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* *** *** *** *

H E A R T  S H A P E D  P I Z Z A

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[olive cutting heart shaped pepperoni’s]

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[she’s like POW, heart shaped pepperoni…booyahhh! hahaha!]

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[now for the toppings! we made cheese, pepperoni, bacon, and mushrooms]

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[hc hard at work! always the consummate cook]

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[it’s done!]

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[ellie checking out my sister’s phone. you’ll love the next pic!]

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[a picture with the pizza and ellie showing us a picture of the pizza! LOL]

xoxo

pink heart milkshake

in celebration of valentine’s day, i decided to make olive a fun festive milkshake!

i’ve seen on instagram, the web, etc. these really cool looking crazy extra adorned milkshakes and i wanted to attempt one myself. i was inspired by a few pictures, focused around love day. so, off to the store i went to gather all the goodies!

i bought vanilla ice cream {you can buy strawberry flavored ice cream to get the pink look – i used two drops of food coloring to achieve the desired color}, spray can whipped cream, sprinkled soft cookies, heart marshmallows, festive sugar cake decoration candies {we bought x’s and o’s}, conversation hearts, doughnuts, and heart sprinkles {or valentine’s day themed sprinkles}. oh, don’t forget a festive pink, red, or heart straw! aaaaand some powered sugar and a lollipop stick for the doughnuts…more on that in a bit.

i poured 2-3 cups of milk into a blender, added a few scoops of ice cream {it really depends on how many people you are feeding and the consistency/thickness you want your shake to be!}, two drops of red food coloring, and blended it smooth.

for the doughnuts, i make an icing out of powered sugar and water. i used several tablespoons of the sugar and a teaspoon of water. mix and add until it’s thick and paste like. i dipped the doughnut {this was olive’s favorite part} in the icing and olive sprinkled each one with the hearts!

i did prep my garnishes before i made the shake but {tip} you can also store the blender container in the freezer until you are ready to pour! i used a hobnob glass {i love the vintage look of it} and once the shake was poured, i sprayed A LOT of whipped cream {you need a lot ’cause one – it settles quickly and two – you need it to hold your flair!

once the whipped cream was sprayed, i added the cookie, threw on a couple marshmallows, strategically added in the x and o’s, conversation hearts, and placed the stick with the doughnuts into the milkshake. i stuck in the straw and voila!!! a super extra cute festive milkshake!

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[she was soooo excited!]

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[she’s too cute]

xoxo

dg brunch

we’re big fans {or at least i am} of having brunch in the city. the ‘burbs just don’t do much for me. there are several places out here in la grange, hinsdale, etc. that are aestetically pleasing and offer great entrées but the overall vibe leaves much to be desired. or is it all in my head?! haha!

most of my friends pretty much all live in the city. yes, my immediate family is in the ‘burbs and i have a few friends out here as well {in different towns} but the friends i hang out on a regular basis status live in good old chi-town.

so, we usually take turns and rotate our meeting destination. whether they come to our house or we go to their area, we usually end up going to the city because we prefer it. i feel pretty fortunate that my friends do offer the rotation split…it’s always thoughtful!

well this time around, we were going to host our friends olivia and aaron at our house. when it came down to it, hc didn’t feel like cooking because he was preparing something for the Super Bowl that evening and he didn’t want to be cooking all day. so, we decided to meet our friends in our local downtown area.

we really enjoy this place, called pierce tavern. it’s ‘new’, it opened late last year and we love the vibe, cocktails, and food! we decided it was our place to meet and overall, had a great time hanging out with these two beautiful people. the girls were so well behaved and we were all able to catch up with very little chaos that usually surrounds young children. LOL.

cheers to good local places to hang and to even better friends to hang out with!

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[me and olivia]

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[the best things for little kids – crayons and paper]

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[i’ll miss those chubby cheeks when they’re gone]

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[ellie’s incredible 2 moves on dada]

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[my go to drink on sunday’s]

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[my loves]

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[apparently aaron is the star focus of this pic. hahaha!]

xoxo

birthday snowstorm

hbd to my sister thuy!

my sister kim planned a birthday dinner for thuy but an incoming snowstorm {an expected 8 inches of snow in some areas} derailed our plans for the city and we also ended up switching days too. the snowstorm was suppose to start on friday evening and go super strong throughout the night and into saturday morning, so we changed our dinner plans to friday evening instead. we diverted our eatery of choice to a local restaurant called cadence.

our reservations were later that evening but the snow didn’t start until 10-11pm; the weather folks predicted the snow to start around 3pm, then 6pm, then 9pm…hahaha! so, we were in a good place from a driving perspective.

i’ve never been to this restaurant and the decor was pretty cool – a modern woodsy feel and the our server was super friendly and prompt. we ordered drinks right away and perused the menu on suggestions to help guide us on what we were going to order. we got a bunch of yummy shared appetizers and i ordered the salmon which was soooooo good! i throughly enjoyed everything we ate!

what was so fun too, was that throughout our dinner, random employees at the restaurant would come up to thuy and wish her a happy birthday! that was so cute and nice! what a great way to make someone who’s celebrating an occasion feel special! they even brought out a polaroid camera and snapped a group picture of us and printed a few copies for the gals! i loved that!

i had brought a cake with a topper and sparkler candles to surprise thuy! i told our waitress that if she couldn’t light the sparklers, i brought regular candles instead. after our entrees, she brought out the cake with the sparkler candles lit!! it was so fun to see and experience!

the snow started to come down furiously and the ground and cars were becoming blanketed in white. we wrapped up our delicious dinner and headed on our merry way in the beautiful snowstorm.

it was a fun, warm, wonderful evening celebrating thuy! cheers to many more wonderful birthday celebrations sis!

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[a fun night for me and hc]

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[this was really, really good]

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[birthday shots courtesy of the restaurant]

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[birthday girl]

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[happy 21st birthday!]

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[a signed card from the staff and polaroid pic!]

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xoxo

valentine’s day books

a few of you asked about our collection of valentine’s day books, so here they are! everything is linked and easy to shop for!

reading is an essential part of our day. i’ll read to olive randomly during the day but we are consistent every night. olive always picks out a book for me to read before bedtime. we first practice letters, words, spelling and such on the cover before i open up the book to read the story.

i believe in teaching and olive learning all day, everyday. i think reinforcing any type of teaching and learning is critical for any parent to do with their kids. it helps them become better at processing problems and propels them to be a bit ahead of the game!

i love decorating for each holiday and creating memories and excitement with my girls. olive becomes so joyful when she sees all the decor and lights up in our house! i think it makes their childhood a little bit extra special, well, at least i hope so!

so here are all the books we currently have. to shop, just click on the book title and it will take you directly to the site to buy! i am addicted to always adding to our slew of literature. books are pretty. books are fun. books are for everyone! {uhhhh i just make that cheesy rhyme up…my apologies!} aaaaaaaand if you have and love a book that we don’t have, i would love for you to leave a comment on what it is! i love adding to our stack!

happy shopping my friends!

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[plant a kiss]

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[olivia and the perfect valentine]

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[love is a tutu]

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[words and your heart]

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[when an elephant falls in love]

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[love]

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[love is]

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[love is a truck]

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[olive my love]

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[pink umbrella]

xoxo