Hey, Chicago, What Do Ya Say?

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In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last week, the Chicago Cubs have won the World Series for the first time in 108 years. Read that again. One Hundred and Eight Years.

Being from Chicago, I’ve found myself in past years, along with many others, falling into a similar slump as the Cubs notoriously have. Thoughts of “Will this ever happen?” and “Are we cursed forever?” crept into my mind post-season after post-season and it seemed that every time we would get a glimpse of hope, it would get squashed ten times over.

But not this season.

Something was different from day one this season. With every Kris Bryant home run and every Baez/Rizzo double play, we got one step closer to completing the century-old dream. And we knew it.

Fast forward to October, every baseball fanatics favorite month. A month that Cubs fans aren’t too familiar with associating with happy feelings. Last year, we made it to the NLCS…and lost. We were so close, but it got away. But this year it all felt different, it felt better, and we felt confident.

When the moment finally came that we clinched the NLCS and made it to the World Series, I didn’t react like I thought I would. I didn’t scream and jump up and down. I didn’t cry. I sat there and stared at the television screen. I watched Dexter Fowler and Willson Contreras jumping into a group of the other players and Kris Bryant hoist his teammates above his head. It was in that moment that I realized the Chicago Cubs, my Chicago Cubs, were going to win the World Series.

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My next emotion was being overcome with sadness. I went from an ultimate high to rock bottom. I realized that the moment that I’ve been waiting for, that my dad, grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins and so many other people have been waiting for was coming, and I was going to be 2,036 miles away from the corner of Clark and Addison. I was able to watch every post-season game with other Cubs fans. Even when we played the Dodgers, we would find Chicago bars in LA to watch the game at; to celebrate every win and mourn every loss with fans who had the same goal in mind: Fly the W. But it wasn’t the same.

My dad and I immediately called each other and began looking up flights and game tickets, calling everyone we knew. Nothing was coming together. Flight times didn’t work, game tickets were starting at $3,000 for Standing Room Only. It wasn’t going to happen. We were going to have to watch from what might as well have been the other side of the universe. And we were devastated.

Then we realized something, as much as we wanted to be in the Friendly Confines that weekend, it didn’t matter where we watched it. It was still happening. He and my mom were going to be in LA for the first few games and we would be able to watch them together. “Cubs in 4!” we thought. We’d be able to watch the Cubs win the World Series together. In LA. But together.
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When we lost the first game, I don’t really think anyone flinched. We made every excuse. It was an away game. It was the first game. We didn’t have enough of a break between the NLCS and now. We’ll be fine.

We came back and crushed the second game and a fire was ignited. Every Cubs fan knew it was happening. Our confidence was peaking and we were getting ready to witness history. And then games 3 and 4 happened. It was like watching a horror film, but it was real life. There was no waking up from that bad dream, there was a Cleveland 3-1 lead and we were horrified.

If you are a Cubs fan and you say that you didn’t freak out that night, you are a liar. Prayers were said and stats were pulled…how many times have we won 3 games in a row? How many teams have come back from being down 3-1 in any series, let alone the World Series? We woke up Sunday morning with a “must-win attitude” and we ran with it. Watching that game was the most dramatic hours of my twenty-three years. Every error felt like a dagger and every great hit and out that we got was like winning the lottery. That roller coaster feeling was back. But we won game 5. Two more to go.

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Game 6 came and I was sick as a dog, but there was a 0% chance that I was going to miss that game. Another must-win for the Boys in Blue and I am on the edge of my seat. We crushed the first inning and from that point on, my worries eased and I knew that this series was going to Game Seven. My parents changed their flights and stayed in LA and we made plans to watch the moment we’ve all been waiting for together.

When I woke up on Wednesday morning, there was something in the LA air. It traveled those same 2,036 miles that I did. I could feel it. We all could feel it. History was going to be made. I peeled myself out of bed and we met at a bar down the street. The six of us crammed in a small booth in a bar in Brentwood in front of three TVs all showing the pre-game warm ups. We got ready for what would easily be one of the best nights of our lives.

“Game Seven” are arguably the two greatest words to any sports fan. But add in the fact that it’s the World Series and it’s the Chicago Cubs, the feelings were amplified tenfold. Every out against us or bad play resulted in the entire strip of bars booing and swearing. Every run resulted in an uproar of screams and cheering. I realized in that bar that even though I thought I should have been in Chicago watching this, LA was going to be a great alternative.

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The game went on for 4 hours and 28 minutes, including a rain delay. We had a three-run lead going into the eighth inning and the Indians tied it. No one scored in the ninth and we went into extra innings. At this point, no one was okay. In the crowded bar, people were pacing, cursing, praying and sweating. We wanted this so badly and in the next 15 minutes, it could be taken away from us for the 109th time in a row.

The tenth inning began and the Cubs scored two runs. Now all we had to do was get three outs and we would be the World Series Champions. Three. Outs. That’s it. It was the longest minutes of my life. Davis scored one run for the Indians with that we only had a one-run lead. With two outs, Martinez hit the ball straight to third and before he could even throw it, Bryant’s face lit up. A gentle toss to first and a catch from Rizzo sealed the deal. The Chicago Cubs won the first World Series since 1908 and broke every curse the city was under.

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That moment was the definition of sheer bliss. I jumped on the booth and screamed. Everyone was hugging, cheering, crying…sobbing. After what seemed like ten straight hours of this, I stopped to look around. To remember this moment. To see the people I was with, where I was. And look up at that screen and see my Lovable Losers spraying champagne all over each other and holding the title of World Series Champions.

To end this documentation of the last weeks of my life, I just want to say thank you, Chicago. For raising me. For making me believe in superstitions, but even more in my team. For letting me leave, but still be completely tied to you. For giving me something so earth-shattering, that it made men, women and children around the world scream louder and cry harder than they ever have. For letting me listen to every doubter for years ask me how I could be a Cubs fan and respond with confidence that one day we would be the World Series Champions…and for making that happen. Thank you.

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Spring Must-Haves

Happy April, Friends! I couldn’t be happier that spring is finally here and the weather is getting warmer (kind of). I love being outside and being able to actually feel my extremities, so winter isn’t exactly the best season for me. Yet, I live in Chicago. Go figure. *rolls eyes*

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With the sun starting to shine on a (semi) regular basis, we’re all starting to show a bit more skin and if you’re anything like me, these last few weeks brought a huge shock and how neglected my skin was. When it’s cold out and we’re all bundled up, it’s easy to not notice, but everyone wants beautiful, glowing skin…especially when it’s time to show it off! I took it upon my-blogging-self to try quite a few new products to let you all know exactly which ones would be best to prep your skin for spring and summer!

Small disclaimer here, I have a bias towards Lush products so all if the ones below are from their inventory. First of all, and most importantly, they do not test any products on animals. Ever. Period. Second, all of their products are 100% natural. They mix oils and fruit/veggie butters with fragrances to make the best products. Almost all of the products are also vegan, so there will be no fillers or other chemicals to make you “feel” like you’re getting a better product. A great example of a filler would be in hair conditioner. Fillers in conditioner give you that slimy feeling of “moisturized” hair. However, ultimately, that filler dries your hair out more and a lot of times leads to dryness, breakage and frizz.

Below is a list of products that I have used regularly for the last month & my review of them. Enjoy!

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Angels on Bare Skin//Facial and Body Cleanser

Angels on Bare Skin is my morning facial cleanser. It comes in a clump, for lack of a better word, and you break a little piece off and rub it on your face. The little piece will break down, but will not have suds like normal soap. It has ground pistachios in it that act as a natural exfoliator, which is my favorite part because it is not as harsh as sugar or salt-based exfoliators. This makes a great cleanser for daily morning use because it gets the oils off your face that build up overnight. Angels on Bare Skin can also be used as a body cleanser. I don’t, but if you have an acne-prone chest or back, this is a great option for those areas as well because it is so soothing. My only complaint with this one is it is a bit difficult to actually use. When you break off a piece of it and mix it with water on your face sometimes it sticks together instead of breaking apart like it should or it falls in the sink instead of sticking on your face. Neither of those problems is terrible, and honestly, the outcome of using Angels on Bare Skin is worth the little bit of trouble it might give you.

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Vanishing Cream//Facial Moisturizer

Vanishing Cream is absolutely heaven-sent. I use this as my daily face lotion right after washing my face in the morning with Angels on Bare Skin. To use, first, spray any toner all over your face (I use Lush’s Breath of Fresh Air) and immediately rub a small amount of Vanishing Cream in with the toner and then continue with make-up routine as usual. Even after one use, you will notice that it evens our your skin tone and gives you glowing skin that lasts all day. This has quickly but surely become a staple of my daily routine.

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9 to 5//Cleansing Lotion

This one seems a bit strange when I tell you about it, I know, but hear me out. 9 to 5 is an amazing cleanser for right before bed and before whatever creams you sleep with at night (before your coconut oil sleep mask, mom). To use this, take off any make-up with remover, then rub 9 to 5 on your dry face and wipe it off with a cotton pad or ball. That’s it. No water, no scrubbing, no soap. When I first saw this, I didn’t believe it. I didn’t think there was possibly any way that you could not wash your face after having make up on all day and working or working out, anything, but then I tried it. My skin has never been more clear or brighter and I wake up in the morning just as clean as the day before, so it has to be doing something right!

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Oatifix//Face Mask

Meet your face’s new best friend. Oatifix is everyone’s dream face mask and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to find it. First of all, the blend of vanilla, almonds, bananas and oats makes this mask smell like cookies. Not like sugary, funfetti crap. It smells like homemade, real cookies and I can’t get enough of it. It is a smaller mask (Lush has two sizes), but you only need small amount and you really only need to use it once a week, maybe even every other week if you want. I used to use Lush’s Mask of Magnamity. I didn’t hate it by any means, but I really wasn’t seeing much work from it. It would definitely clean my face, but that was really it. This mask gives you the best glow and the cleanest feeling (smelling) skin. The only trick with this one is not actually eating it…it’s not actually cookie dough…

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Ocean Salt//Face and Body Scrub

Literally the ocean in a little tub! I cannot rave about this one enough. I use Ocean Salt every other day in the shower before shaving. The actual “scrub” in this is sea salt, which makes it a bit harsher on the skin than Angels on Bare Skin because it is a scrub not a cleanser, so I would not recommend using this on a daily basis. My skin is still a bit dry from the winter so I’m sticking with every other day for now, but I’m hoping to get down to twice a week. I will say that Ocean Salt is the first scrub I have ever felt comfortable using on my face, though. It doesn’t leave you red from being too harsh or take off like an entire layer of skin, just the dead stuff causing your skin to look a little dull. The organic lime juice brightens, the avocado butter softens and the vodka (yes, you read that right. cheers!) tightens. It’s a light blue color and has a layer of sea salt on the top, so it really does look like and smell like the ocean! I really have nothing bad to say about Ocean Salt at all. I will definitely be buying this for a long time to come.

 

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The Olive Branch//Shower Gel

I know it seems silly to have a shower gel that you love because they all really do the same thing, but The Olive Branch is really something special. The olive oil in this shower gel moisturizes your skin on a level that a normal shower gel simply can’t. It does so without leaving you feeling too oily, while also leaving you feeling so clean and smelling absolutely amazing. It honestly doesn’t get any better than that in a shower gel!

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Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner//Skin Conditioner

Okay, this is the only one I have some mixed feelings about. Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner is exactly like a hair conditioner, but for your body. You rub it all over in the shower after washing with The Olive Branch and then rinse off. It is meant to replace your after-shower lotion. I think the best way to break this down is a list of pros and cons.

Pros: It does work. If you really rub it in and rinse it off, you really don’t need a lotion post-shower. If you have ever tried to put leggings on after putting lotion on after the shower, you know that this is a real blessing. It also smells great…like a rose garden, but not like an old lady’s perfume. You smell great afterwards, really.

Cons: It is really oily. Not like straight up oil that you’re going to look like a Greek god when you get out, don’t get carried away. I’m talking like the water will bead-off your skin afterwards and then it makes the shower floor all slippery and kind of gross when it dries (I have to wipe down the shower floor like every other shower now). When you towel off after, you pat dry, don’t rub, otherwise all those oils are going to go into the towel. However, once you go through all this, it does look great. Only other con, I usually shower at night before bed. By the time I wake up in the morning, my skin kind of lost all of the oils and butters from Ro’s in my sheets and I’m kind of in need of some lotion. I have used it in the morning, though, and my skin stays really soft all day, so that might just be timing.

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H’Suan Wen Hua//Hair Treatment

When I bought H’Suan Wen Hua, the girl that sold it to me said, “You don’t have to know how to say it, you just have to use it.” She could not have been more right. I still have no idea how to pronounce it, so if I tried to read this blog post out loud, you would all laugh, but I use it once every two weeks and my hair has never felt healthier. The cinnamon smell is a bit strong, but once you wash it all out, it’s not bad. It has so many vitamins and minerals in it, your hair literally just soaks it in. Apply H’Suan to your dry hair 20 minutes before your shower and then rinse out and shampoo/condition as normal and be amazed. I also love that it helps your scalp. Sometimes we don’t realize that our scalp needs love, too! Considering it’s where our hair grows from, how can we expect to have beautiful hair if we neglect our scalp?! Duh. I think everyone should do a hair treatment at least once a month, if not twice, and this one really takes the cake.

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Rehab//Shampoo

This shampoo makes me want to find the creator of Lush and just hug them…for like minimally two to three minutes. A long, tight, bear hug. Anyone who is trying to grow their hair out, or just make their hair healthier, without compromising their everyday volume and shine, this one is for you! Rehab has a minty scent (which goes great with the H’Suan hair mask!) and has seaweed in it to, again, help your scalp. I used to use Lush’s shampoo bars. Like I said about their Mask of Magnamity, I didn’t hate their shampoo bars at all. They’re very convenient and their Seanik one is really great for volume and shine as well, however rubbing a bar in my hair every day was making my hair a bit knotty and the bars weren’t lasting me as long as I would have liked, so I decided to give this a try and I am SO happy I did. My hair has never been healthier!

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Veganese//Hair Conditioner

“Next to every great man shampoo, is a great woman conditioner.” That’s how the quote goes, right? In all seriousness, Veganese is really something. As I mentioned in my intro, this conditioner is filler-free and completely vegan, so you will not have that slimy “moisturized” feeling that you do with other conditioners, but that doesn’t take away the moisture by any means. As a lot of you know, I used to have extensions, even though my hair was pretty long to start out with, it was more for the volume. I had every kind. Clip-in, tape-in, you name it, I had them and it took a toll on my hair for sure. About a year and a half ago, I cut my hair to about my collarbone because my hair was just so damaged and I’ve been on a journey ever since to get my hair back to it’s healthy state and this conditioner has been my #1 fan in doing so. It’s not a heavy conditioner at all, so I can get out of the shower, comb through it and let it air dry without feeling like my hair is oily, stiff or sticky (yes, I’ve had conditioners feel all three of those ways. gross.). I can’t speak highly enough of Veganese (and Rehab) because it goes beyond cosmetic appearance, it really makes your hair healthier.

Quite a few people lately have tried these with me and loved them just as much! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out and let me know! If you have any products that you love, leave a note in the comments section. Happy (almost) Friday and Happy Spring!

Al

I Think Valentine’s Day is the Best Holiday Ever…

Call me crazy, but Valentine’s Day is my absolute favorite day of the year. It’s a day that we can take just a little extra time to let the important people in our lives know just how much we love them. Plus everything is pink so I’m like on cloud nine. It doesn’t have to be about what we buy or do for them, but the meaning behind it and the words we say.

There is a cliché around the holiday revolving around flowers and cards, possibly a romantic dinner. I got to thinking, in the crazy world we live in today, there has to be a more creative way to go about this. Here are some ideas I came up with!

Flowers: The Bouqs Co.

I am absolutely in love with this company. Their flowers are so beautiful — Bouqs Co. cuts them the day you order and deliver them straight from the farm they are grown on. They deliver two to four days after being cut versus around a week and a half to two weeks at most other flower delivery services. When you get them, they are beautifully colorful and last for so long!

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The farm that the flowers come from practices sustainable, eco-friendly farming and they only cut what they sell, which means no flowers go to waste. Love that.

Bouqs Co. has experts on hand to help you pick the right flower bouquet and all the prices you see online are final (tax, shipping, handling, etc. included). There are 3 pricing options with each bouquet (small, medium, large) and price increases consistently with size. They offer next day delivery, a daily special and Valentine’s Day bouquets.

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They also have an optional concierge service, which allows you to save up to 25% per bouquet and never forget a special occasion. The concierge service reminds you before any special date, allows you to send weekly just because flowers or have regular blooms sent weekly, bi-weekly or monthly to your (or your significant other’s) door! They also have an app to make life even easier, as if they weren’t already perfect enough.

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As far as discounts, this place has quite a few. If you create an account with them, you will receive 10% off your first order. If you download and use the app, you get 20% off your first order. Their daily special bouquets are 15% off every day and their Valentine’s Day bouquets can be delivered as early as almost a week before! If you invite friends to use Bouq, you will get a free bouquet and occasionally they have buy one, get one free deals. Flowers for everyone!

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Cards: Shop Betches

I’ve worked with Betches in the past and I think they are just hilarious. The Betches are known for being sarcastic and “saying the thoughts in your head that you’re too afraid to say”…their Valentine’s Day cards are no exception.

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If you’re looking for a sweet, sentimental card for your valentine, you might want to try Papyrus cards. However, if you both keep up with what’s trending, these will be perfect a major key.

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Above are photos of their cards for this year and I seriously cannot stop laughing. They’re perfect and I want all of them. *hint, hint*

Date Night: Date Box

This is one of my favorite ideas in the world. Everyone’s lives get a little hectic and at one point or another, I think we’ve all said, “Where did this week go?!” The Date Box created a way to remind us to take time to nurture our relationships and not fall into the same daily routine of Netflix and (probably no) chill.

The Date Box delivers a box to your door with something new inside once a month. Some nights can be artsy, some have wine or food, some games. Some are at home; some are at a dance studio or a cooking class…the possibilities are really endless.

There are three options for subscriptions along with a $5 shipping fee (per month):

  • 1 month plan: $34.95 for a recurring monthly plan
  • 3 month plan: $31.45 for a recurring 3-month plan (paid in full at time of first purchase)
  • 6 month plan: $27.96 for a recurring 6-month plan (paid in full at time of first purchase)

*Date Box was generous enough to send Daniel and me a sample box. We will be anxiously awaiting its arrival and reviewing it in the next week. I will update this post after we fall in love with our Date Box!

Meal Box: PeachDish

I’m sure many of you have heard of meal delivery services, but this is one I’m really into. Their classically trained chefs develop Southern-infused and seasonally inspired recipes for dishes you might order at your favorite restaurant, but are surprisingly quick and easy to prepare at home. They source the freshest ingredients, pre-measure everything for you, pack it in a special insulated box and ship it to your doorstep. There is literally no excuse not to do this!

Kate Blohm, PeachDish

Kate Blohm, PeachDish

Every week, PeachDish offers four different seasonally inspired meals. Two are vegetarian, and two are animal protein-based. Each meal is packaged in increments of two servings, for $12.50 per serving. You can opt in and out of weekly deliveries as you need to — you’re in control of your delivery schedule. There are no membership fees, and you pay only when you receive a delivery!

Kate Blohm, PeachDish

Kate Blohm, PeachDish

Peach Dish is doing a special Valentine’s Day meal delivery for you to cook for your valentine, or cook together! They have three options, all starting with a cheese plate and ending with a bourbon brownie trifle. The first entreé includes a beef tenderloin with mashed potatoes and arugula salad with cider vinaigrette. The second option is a lobster risotto and ends with the bourbon brownie trifle and also includes 4 chocolate truffles. The last choice includes a ribeye with mashed potatoes and arugula salad with cider vinaigrette as the entrée and ends with the bourbon brownie trifle and 6 chocolate truffles. Find all the Valentine’s Day meal kits here.

Kate Blohm, PeachDish

Kate Blohm, PeachDish

Prices vary on the Valentine’s Day meal kits from $89-$109, but if you order before Sunday, February 7th at 11:59 EST, you can use my promo code for 10% off your first purchase: PDLOVE

Meal Box: Green Blender

This second meal box is for my healthy, green eaters. I, personally, only do smoothies when I’m cleansing (admittedly, not often…sorry, mom) and I’m not usually too happy about it. But these look so good, I’m going to have to stick with them for a while!

Chocolate Covered Pomegranate

Chocolate Covered Pomegranate

Each week, you’ll get 5 new smoothie recipes and all the pre-portioned ingredients you’ll need to make 10 smoothies. The recipes are hand crafted by leading nutritionists to ensure that they are packed with flavor and nutrients and they focus on working with organic and local farms to create a uniquely balanced menu.

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Fine Apple

Green Blender believes that you are what you drink. The smoothies are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins and fiber and their benefits are endless: clearer skin, heightened mental clarity, increased energy, and weight loss. Plus, their nutrients are known to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. You’re welcome, body!

Pepper Passion

Pepper Passion

Each recipe yields enough for two 12-ounce smoothie servings, so you both can have a very green Valentine’s Day! There are three different subscription options, all including delivery.

  • Fresh Start: $49/box, which includes a week-to-week subscription
  • Monthly Challenge: $44/box, which includes a 4-box subscription
  • Healthy Habit: $39/box, which includes a 12-box subscription

For an extra 20% off use my code KRISTINR : )

*Green Blender was generous enough to send me a sample box. I will be anxiously awaiting its arrival and reviewing it in the next week. I will update this post after I fall in love with our smoothies!

I hope these inspired you all to do something special for your valentines next week, and any other day, too! As every other year, I am so excited to celebrate. This year I will, of course, be with Daniel, but my parents will also be in Chicago to celebrate my mom’s birthday! I can’t wait to see how you all celebrate my favorite day. Feel free to post other great options in the comments below : )

*Disclaimer: I received some product before creating this post, however all opinions are my own. I did not receive payment for this post. All photo credit is to the company website from which the photos are filed under, unless specified.

You & the Moon & Neptune Got It Right

Everyone has been encouraging me to write a post about “living with a boy” lately. This whole thing makes me laugh. First of all, the fact that living with a boy is “post-worthy” is hilarious. Second, I had no idea what to talk about. It would be completely one-sided and awkward. But…

A few weeks ago, a reporter from a national magazine reached out (I can’t say which yet!) after hearing our story of how Daniel and I met. It is pretty hilarious. For those of you who don’t know, Daniel is from Southern California and I am from Chicago. We met at Whatever, USA, a town created by Bud Light for one weekend and contest winners get to go on the trip. Daniel won by auditioning and I won through a job I had in college. One of the events at Whatever, USA was Beer School, where you learn how Bud Light is made (and drink more beer). You can go any time, on the hour, on Friday or Saturday, and we happened to go to the same one. He saw me walk in with my roommate asked the hostess to seat us together…the rest is history. We spent the next 24 hours running around the island with impromptu concerts and watching the Blackhawks until it was time to head back to reality. Something inside both of us wouldn’t let this be the last time we saw each other, so not too long after, I was flying out to San Diego for a month to see where this could go.

Not long after getting home from California and Daniel visiting Chicago (for the first time in his life, I might add), he left the country for 7 weeks to travel in Asia. Between the distance and the difference in time zones, it was extremely tough, but we managed through, and the week after he got home from Asia, he moved in with me (and our puppy!) in Chicago.

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The questions below were from the reporter and Dan and I answered accordingly. The answers, of course, made me cry and I figured what better way to update everyone how “living with a boy” is going than from both of our own words.

Why did you two decide to start your life together in Chicago rather than both of you going to Southern California?
A: We decided on Chicago because I had a year lease signed here already and Dan was planning on looking for places in LA when he got back from his trip. But the more we talked while he was gone, the more we wanted to start a life together right away, so we decided on him coming here until my lease was up and then we would decide if we wanted to stay in Chicago or head back west.

D: Apart from her having the lease signed, I was also very interested in experiencing a new city. I had just spent nearly two months traveling around Asia, and going back home to San Diego seemed a bit too routine. When we had spent time together before, we couldn’t get enough of each other. When I was gone, these feelings only increased. As crazy as it was, moving to Chicago seemed like the natural next.

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Can you name two-three things that changed when you moved in together?
A: For us, since we met it was very fast-paced. We met at Whatever, USA and shortly after, I went to visit him and a few other friends in California and ended up essentially living with him for a month while I was there anyways. Immediately following our month together, he left for seven weeks for Asia and we dove right into 12-hour time differences and a major lack of wifi, so three things that I really noticed that changed when he got back were:
   – Our communication. I felt like it was so much easier to be able to talk in person, whether it was just deciding on dinner or where we were spending Thanksgiving. In today’s world, it’s so easy to hide behind texting, so us being able to sit down and talk was so nice.
   – Our comfortability. This was the biggest one for me. We have always been comfortable around each other, from day one. That’s how I knew it was different between us. But this was even more than that. I could be goofy or cry or I do this weird little snort when I laugh (ugh) but he loved everything about me and that has really become clear since we’ve been living together.
   – “Little things.” I think with Daniel traveling and I was starting a new job and helping my parents move, we kind of took what we could get with talking or Facetiming. There wasn’t much room for anything else. But once we moved in together, little things became so important for us. Like compromising on plans or when I come home and the apartment is cleaned, or he’ll make breakfast while I sleep in or get flowers from the place down the street. Stuff like that really started to mean something because we had so many days where we couldn’t do stuff like that for each other.

D: I couldn’t agree more with the things that she’s said, my answers add to that just a bit.
   – Our appreciation for each other. Living with each other allows us to show this so much more than being apart. Having someone around that is available and willing to help out with chores or errands is such a nice luxury. It makes me happy when I can do something to make her life easier, and I know she feels the same way. As we continue this journey, I know that I’ll have my biggest fan by my side.
   – Having a third body in the apartment. When we were together before my travels, it was just us. When I moved to Chicago, I wasn’t just moving in with her. We have an adorable little puppy to take care of as well. He’s only seven months old, so he’s quite the handful, but he’s my little buddy and I love taking care of him. It’s a little crazy to go from being apart, to moving in together, to essentially having a little family, but it’s all been nothing but great so far.

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Can you name two-three things you learned about each other?
A:
   – He’s so thoughtful. We were skeletons one day of Halloween and I did his face make up before mine. Naturally, it looked terrible (I’m not a makeup person!). He kept saying “Do you want me to keep it? I’ll keep it! It’s okay, it’s your first time!” It was so sweet. But I didn’t make him keep it. I re-did it…and we were late…haha!
   – He’s so smart. Every time we’re watching tv or walking around the city, anything, he will “quiz” me on different things about the world. Whether it’s watching rugby and he asks me “what country is that city in” (I never know) or something about politics, he always knows. I chalk it up to him traveling so much, but maybe he’s just played a lot of trivia crack? Who knows.
   – He has the best support system. I come from a pretty big Italian family, so I know support. No matter what it is, they’re there for me…and now us. But his family is the same. They are so sweet and I have gained some great people in my life just from knowing him and his family and friends. I’m just the luckiest.

D:
She is hilarious. I pride myself on being a jokester and making her laugh until she snorts (sorry), but she’s really funny as well. Every once in a while we’ll lie in bed and watch funny videos online until we’re in tears. We couldn’t be more on the same page when it comes to humor which is an amazing asset to me. We still laugh at some of the jokes she first made with me, and she’s kept them coming since. I even snorted once, and that’s saying something…
   – I’ve learned all about her life. The first night we met, we stayed up until six in the morning sharing stories about our past, and learning about one another. In the months that followed it continued, but now living together, it has escalated to a new level. I now know all about the special combination of events, people, and environment that makes her who she is. I’ve met the friends I’ve heard stories about, I’ve seen the house she grew up in, and I’ve spend time with the family that raised her. It’s done nothing but advance my feelings about how special of a girl I found. 

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What surprised you most about moving in together?
A: Mine is easy. What surprised me the most was how much my day-to-day life improved by him being there. If I had a bad day at work or I was crabby or anything, coming home to him made absolutely anything better. He’s always there to make me laugh. On the good days, he’s the first one I want to run home and tell everything to and he gets just as excited about the things that happen in my world as I am. My days are brighter simply because he’s a part of them.

D: I couldn’t agree more with her – just how exciting every day is, and how much I love having her around. I work from home and I literally cannot wait for her to get back from every day. It’s a pretty regular occurrence that I text her at 5:01 asking if she’s left the office yet, and maybe I’ve taken after the puppy, but we sit together each night counting down the minutes until we hear the keys in the front door.

As many of you have been following me on my journey on my blog, you know how much this means to me. To have someone who shows me what pure happiness is and makes every single day magical is something I’ve wanted for so long and I feel so lucky and blessed to have finally found that.

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Love you, b! Here’s to the last six crazy months and to many, many more.

xo,
“Your” Al

“When I grew up she showed me how to go downtown…”

It has been exactly one week on my own in Chicago…
and I am not planning on coming off Cloud Nine any time soon.

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I honestly surprised myself with how quickly I adjusted. The move itself could not have gone any smoother and while, me being me, there were a few anxiety filled moments of clothes all over the closet floor or the shower curtain not fitting exactly right, but anyway, I made it and I’m here. And I’m happy.

Every Wednesday, somewhere around 9:00pm, if I look directly out my bedroom window and just to the right of the clock on the Wrigley Building, I can see the entire Navy Pier fireworks show. As a little girl, I have extremely vivid memories of watching that same show and simply falling in love with Chicago. When I chose my building I had no idea I would be able to see the fireworks, but for me, it is so incredibly symbolic to have that view.

As I grew up, I came to the city almost every weekend over the summer and every year on my birthday. I would stare at the brownstones, the two flats and the towering apartment buildings and dream of the day I would be able to live in the city…in my city. That day came for me on July 21, 2015.

I had done the all too familiar drive eastbound down I-90 more times than I could count, but that morning was different. The butterflies were different. The air was different. The skyline was different. It was my home now and I was infused with a sense of pride that is unparalleled.

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The one “downer” I will say is the struggle of leaving my childhood home behind. Where most people move out and go back to visit every now and then, I do not have that luxury. The week that I moved out, my home went on the market and that broke my heart. I will forever cherish the memories, happy and sad, made in that house. The way I see it, it is just a closed chapter. This is all a part of the new life we are all starting and it’s part of the story.

When I wake up in the morning and I look around me, the Trump Tower, the Wrigley Building, the Tribune Building, the Sears Tower (do not “Willis Tower” me.), Lake Michigan, I realize how many people have been here before me and will be here after me. I am a part of this city’s history, its present and its future. My actions today will be part of Chicago forever. Chills.

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I’m sure I’ll be blogging plenty more of my adventures in Chicago. The people I meet, the things I do, the places I go…they will all be a page in my book. This is only week one. I am ecstatic of what’s to come and to share it with the people I love. Speaking of, special shoutout to my parents, my family and my friends for the outpouring of love, support, messages, phone calls and visits. You’ve made these days unforgettable and truly make me look forward to every one from here on out. I love you all!

Al

Paradise City: Whatever, USA

The weekend that I’ve been looking forward to for what seems like forever now is over and I could absolutely not be more grateful for the last forty-eight hours. It sounds so cliche, but Whatever, USA was exactly what I needed right now.

A year ago, I might not a have gone on a trip like this, but this year with my freedom gained over the last year with my parents leaving, my graduation, my getting ready to move out, I experienced this weekend to the absolute fullest and I completely fell in love with it.

IMG_8145Of course the events were incredible…artists like T-Pain, Diplo and Snoop Dogg performing, going to beer school and walking the pier to decorate cotton candy, dying our hair crazy colors, going to a Roaring 20s themed party and of course drinking enough Bud Light to keep our buzz going for three days straight. But what was truly the best part of this weekend was the people. Everyone was in the same mindset of wanting to live it up and have the absolute time of our lives and this created some of the best memories I’ve ever had.

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Someone told me “you can’t buy happiness, but who doesn’t smile on a jet ski?” While, true, we did not jet ski this weekend, we did just about everything else and he was absolutely right. It’s not the monetary valued things in life, it’s the walks at noon, the music at 7pm, the talks at 3 am and the laughter at 6 am and waking up smiling with the same people and doing it all over again the next day. You never know when life is going to hand you a few people that could possibly change your life forever, so look out for them.

I feel so incredibly lucky to have gone on this trip and I cannot express my thanks enough to Bud Light for making it all happen. Here’s to staying #UpForWhatever and to making more memories across the country in the future.

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#UpForWhatever

My girl, Brittany, had an amazing post about being #UpForWhatever for the last 100 days of college and I just totally love this idea! She and I along with sixteen other lucky twenty-one year olds had the amazing experience of visiting Dallas this past week to train at The Marketing Arm for our new #UpForWhatever ambassador roles with Bud Light.

This experience was one that I will never forget. Traveling for work, receiving my first company credit card, being trained for a job…all of these experiences have really made me realize that I’m growing up and it’s time to really take control of my life. We are graduating in 100 days and we have those days to decide how we are going to live our lives.

The #UpForWhatever slogan began last year around the Superbowl and became the new catchphrase for Bud Light’s campaign. The idea behind it is to have spontaneous, random acts of fun. Anything goes. What better phrase to use for your last days in college!?

I am taking the pledge to be #UpForWhatever. I am going to take opportunities as they come to me and live each day to its highest potential. Some days, that might mean doing some crazy fun things. Other days, that might just be hanging out with my friends and possibly catching up on some sleep. No matter what kind of day it is, I will not miss out on what life has to throw at me because I am busy or because I have to catch up on The Bachelor. I will be #UpForWhatever for the next 100 days and could not be any more excited about it!

None But Ourselves Can Free Our Mind

The sixth of February holds a special meaning for me each year and today is no different. The birthday of the legend that is Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley is this day and it strikes a chord with me unlike any other. Marley was a Catholic and later converted to becoming a Rasta, so he had a very unique set of beliefs. I truly believe, however, that we can learn an immense amount from his words and what better day than today to acknowledge them?

Marley recorded four songs with the Wailers originally, one of which was Judge Not. The title alone is something our world needs today. The lyrics proclaim, “I know that I’m not perfect and that I don’t claim to be. So before you point your fingers, be sure your hands are clean.” Another song that follows this mentality is So Much Trouble In The World. So many people compare their lives to other people: celebrities, friends, enemies, colleagues. A common way of making us feel better about our lives is to put other people’s down or claim what they are doing is not up to par. If we would take a look at our own lives, I know that we would see that they are not perfect either. Everyone makes mistakes. No one life is exactly what they want it to be. Focus on yourself and your own life before jumping into judging someone else’s.

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I Shot the Sheriff seemed mistakenly innocent, yet there was huge meaning behind it. Marley originally wanted the lyrics to be “I shot the police…,” however he later stated that “the government would have made a fuss so I said ‘I shot the sheriff’ instead… but it’s the same idea: justice.” Marley lived in a time with racial prejudice and injustice. He became a verbal leader through his music for equality and peace and this song was just one more way of him proving that. Today’s world, while improved in some senses, is still incredibly prejudice among select groups of people whether it be based on race, ethnicity, religion or even gender orientation. Marley also released Get Up, Stand Up to encourage people to fight for their rights. He saw the injustice in the world and wanted to shed light onto it and that it just what he did. Using his words to demand peace proved to be a better solution than any fighting could have.

When his album Exodus was released, a song entitled Three Little Birds was a major hit. This song has continuously made its way into people’s hearts and souls since its release. The lyrics are simple but powerful, plus the music of this song is joyful and happy. This song personally hits home for me. Each of our lives have had and will have trials. There are days where we feel that going on is simply unbearable. Losing someone we love or making major life decisions are examples of days where we feel we cannot manage. These lyrics speak to people in every facet of their troubles. “Don’t worry about a thing cause every little thing is gonna be alright.” No matter what you are going through, fate will bring you to exactly where you need to be and everything will work out just as planned.

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The last song that I feel is extremely worth noting is my personal favorite. Redemption Song has spoken the purest words and made the biggest impact on our world out of any song, in my opinion. Marley took the things he saw around him that were hurting people or causing pain and strung this song together based on a speech given by Marcus Garvey on Pan-Africanism.  This movement sought to uplift the people of African descent. At a time with such hate in the world, this song made an incredible impact. When Marley wrote this song, he was already deep into his diagnosis with cancer and dealing with the thoughts of death that clearly appear through the lyrics in this song. Redemption Song has been called “the most influential recording in Jamaican music history.” The lyrics state to “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds.” This line is my favorite of any song. We become fixated on becoming the perfect person and through this we obtain a “mental slavery,” which only we can break.

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The legacy that Bob Marley left in this world is one that will never be forgotten. His words still hold true meaning and his life remains one that people everywhere respect and admire. Rest in Peace, Bob Marley, and Happy 70th Birthday…we know the Sun is Shining.

Thankful

I’ve been trying to think of a way to get back into blogging. Honestly, I just miss it. But finding something to write about, especially as a comeback post, isn’t always easy. Then I realized that writing why I am thankful would not only be appropriate for today, but also remind me to be extra grateful for those things…so here it is!

1. I am thankful for my health. I am thankful to be here after having some bumps in my “health road.” I am thankful for the way I was born and for the doctors that have ensured my safety in any situation since then.

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2. I am thankful for my family. My best friends in the world. My support system. I am so thankful for you. My parents, you have given me the world and shown me how to be the best person I can be. Even if you are far away now, I still feel your love. I am so thankful for my cousins, my papa and grandparents. I am thankful for my surrogate mom. I am thankful for my mom’s family for never making me feel like I didn’t belong. I am thankful for my guardian angels that have gone before me. I am thankful for my puppy, Khoya, and my friends who have become more like family.

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3. I am thankful for music. I am so in love with so many songs and the feelings that just one song can give you. I am so thankful to be able to hear the beautiful sounds created in our world. So many times in my life have had music in the center of them, whether it’s a concert, music playing while I’m getting ready with my friends or on while I’m driving in the car with Matt or sending a song to the people I love when it reminds me of them. These times make me especially grateful today.

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4. I am thankful for seasons. I hate the cold, as most people know, but the cold brings back my favorite season, spring. The cold reminds me how lovely the warmer months are. The warm months are ones of rebirth and change. Every year something new comes and reminds us how lucky we are to be alive. This makes me so grateful.

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Even just writing these things makes me smile. Seeing how many little things and people there are that make my world better every day and for those, I am truly thankful.

– Al

…Please Don’t Take My Sunshine Away.

Another year gone and I still mean every word…

Two Minds, One Spirit

Whenever I hear this, I think of you. (This was the song that she sent me last night that I talked about on my status. I’m still in shock. I am so lucky.)

And I have absolutely no way to describe the feeling that I have right now knowing that you’ve been gone for three years. Three. Years. When I say it like that, it doesn’t seem too long. I mean, hell, college has gone by quicker than I can even fathom. But when I look back on how much has happened in three years, it’s an eternity. How much I’ve had to go through in my life without you being here with me. You would be so proud of all your babies here. I have to say, you raised the greatest three girls in the whole world. Auntie Gina is the most caring and genuine person I think I’ve…

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