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Good morning everyone!

Well I stayed true to my word yesterday and had probably the laziest Saturday I’ve had in recent memory. I actually started to feel like a giant bum so I made myself get out of the house to go grocery shopping and also made a stop at Best Buy (Season 1 & 2 of Weeds on sale!). The highlight of my day though, is when my parents came over to bring me a Puff Pillow from the Farmer’s Market! YESSSS!!

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You can read all about these babies in past posts here and here.  They are pretty much the greatest things on earth!

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Flaky pastry topped with rock sugar and filled with sweet Bavarian cream. Oh my!

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I seriously vegged the rest of the day. To be fair, the heat index was 104, so nobody was doing a whole lot of anything around here. Ben and I watched Finding Nemo on tv (best movie ever!!) and went to bed at 10. Super!

Now, today is vastly different than yesterday. I got up early, swept the front porch, weeded a part of my garden, moved and fed my tomato plants and had breakfast. All before 9!

Here’s said breakfast: Blueberry Cheesecake Fat-Free Yogurt, Cantaloupe & a WildBlueberry PURE Bar.

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Who doesn’t like cheesecake in the morning?

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The last of my juicy cantaloupe 😦 No worries, I got a melon of a different variety to tide me over for this coming week!

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And a delectable, chewy PURE Bar.

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Those are giant blueberry hunks…’nuff said.

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So the plan for the rest of the day is to drive down to Iowa City (about 2 hours away) to surprise Ben’s Mom for her birthday! She’s up there moving Ben’s little brother back to college, so we’re going to surprise her there since we weren’t able to celebrate her birthday when it actually happened on Friday. Kind of a long and complicated story, but the jist of it is – we’re road tripping today!

I love going to Iowa City – it’s the home of the University of Iowa and the Iowa Hawkeyes, GO HAWKS! I love being in college towns and especially walking through college campuses. It brings back so many wonderful memories of my days spent in college. Ahhh, things were so simple back then, weren’t they?? Actually, let’s be real, exams and papers were a huge pain in the A and I’m really glad I don’t have to do them anymore. BUT, there’s no denying that college as a whole, was the best time of my life!

Magazines are packed:

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We’re off!

~~~~~

What college did you go to/are currently going to?

I went to the University of Northern Iowa – GO PANTHERS!

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Our final day in Las Vegas started as any good, last vacation day should – at the pool! Complete with $10 pina coladas, of course. They were delicious though 😀 Oh, can I just talk about the heat in Vegas for a second? It’s so hot that it literally feels like you are sitting inside an oven. That’s the only way to describe it, because normal temperatures don’t get that hot! I think we saw 110 degrees while we were out there! The pool (and the pinas) were the perfect remedy though 🙂

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After sufficiently baking ourselves to a light crisp, we headed out for more exploring. Past the forum shops at Caesar’s Palace, once again 🙂 

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And into The Mirage Hotel & Casino for lunch at BLT Burger – the best burger joint on the planet!

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Really cool decor at this place…

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We started the meal off with…A TWINKIE MILKSHAKE. Let me repeat that. A TWINKIE MILKSHAKE!!!!! This was quite possibly, the tastiest thing I have ever eaten on the planet… It was vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce blended with Twinkies. O…M…G… Ben and I split this, took our first sip and just kind of stared at each other in amazement…it was so delicious!!!! The texture of the milkshakes was the thickest I’ve ever had from the blended up twinkies inside. Seriously to die for – but seriously a once a year treat if I ever saw one! One of our friends got the Mocha Mudslide milkshake, which he cashed in about three minutes…it was incredible!

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Ben and I also split the BLT Burger & Thin Fries. The restaurant cooks their burgers for 4 minutes a side so the outside is grilled to perfection and the inside is rare and juicy – perfect!

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After another hefty lunch we headed back out to the streets to walk it off and cruised over to the Paris Hotel & Casino. Look Ma, the Arch de Triumph! 😀

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For dinner on our final night we headed out to the New York New York Hotel and Casino for dinner. All my friends had been there before and they wanted to make sure I got a chance to see it – I’m so glad I did because it was AWESOME! Just like walking through the streets of New York inside!

Starting our walk to NY NY:

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Isn’t that awesome? The hotel totally looks like the skyline of NYC!

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Once inside, we decided on a fabulous Asian cafe to eat at – Chin Chin.

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I started out the night with my favorite Asian inspired beverage, a Tsing Tao.

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Aaaaaaan don’t worry – we requested no glasses with our beers, so they brought us paper bags to drink them out of instead…because we’re classy like that!

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For dinner I ordered the Beef Chow Fun. This was a savory wide-noodle dish that did not disappoint – I LOVE wide noodles! Chin Chin was a win win!

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Group shot on our last night in Vegas!!!

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Dinner concluded with some more casino tours including the Monte Carlo,

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More of the Paris Hotel & Casino,

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And ended with a quintessential Vegas show…the fountain show at the Bellagio Hotel. How Oceans 11 of us 🙂

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Overall, I couldn’t have been happier with our time spent in Vegas. This town is truly what you make it. If you’re looking to have the most insane bachelor or bachelorette party of your life – don’t worry, you’ll get it! But if you’re also looking for a nice time with your friends, getting as crazy or semi-crazy as you want, Vegas has that option too. We had a fabulous time exploring the incredible unique and intricately built hotels, throwing our dollar bills away in the penny slots and most importantly, spending time with all of our best friends. Vegas: I WILL be back!!!

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Day 2 in Las Vegas started with some flamingo watching at The Flamingo 🙂 Ben and I got up early to explore our hotel and stumbled upon a whole lagoon type area filled with flamingos, exotic birds, ducks, turtles and fish…it was practically a zoo!

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Photo op 🙂

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While continuing our hotel exploration, I stopped to get a breakfast bar at one of the many gift shops. I saw this baby and snatched it right up. Ummm Vanilla Yogurt bar with 11g of protein? Sign me up!

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This was crunchy, sweet and creamy, so delish. Plus, I was stuffed – yes, stuffed – for a really long time! I had never even heard of these bars before, but they are awesome! 

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After that we headed to the pool to wait for the rest of the crew to get up and at ‘em. Ben and I are early vacation risers…well I should say, I’m an early vacation riser and being the excellent husband that he is, Ben now is too 🙂

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After sunning ourselves for the duration of the morning, we headed to Margaritaville, which was attached to our hotel, for lunch. Honestly, a lot of times places like this are kind of just “meh” but our meals here were SO good!

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Mmmm, I got a giant plate of nachos 🙂 When in Rome…

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These were homemade tortilla chips, piled high with chili, 3 kinds of cheese, tomatoes, guacamole, sour cream and HEAPS of jalapenos! They tasted just as good as the look and I shared with the whole table 🙂

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This is Matt. I told Matt I’d give him $2 to eat a GIANT glob of sour cream. He almost did but decided at the last minute that it probably wasn’t in his best interests. I agreed.

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Our lunchtime view of Caesar’s Palace (I’m obsessed!)

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We felt like a good long walk was in order after lunch, so we strolled down to The Venetian hotel after we were done eating. The Venetian is famous for having an Italy inspired canal running through the middle of the hotel, that you can take gondola rides on!

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For dinner on Day 2, we headed to a hole in the wall…literally. Self-proclaimed “Hole in the Wall” Battista’s Italian Restaurant” is where we dined!

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This place is SO awesome – the menus are on the wall and each meal comes with soup or salad, REAL garlic bread studded with roasted garlic cloves, an after dinner cappuccino (the best cappuccino I’ve ever had – don’t worry I have the recipe!!!!) and FREE white and red house wine!

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Ben and I split the Seafood Fettuccini. This was fresh fettuccini, giant scallops, tender mahi-mahi and mouth-watering shrimp. All in a homemade red sauce – to die for!

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Oh – Battista’s resident accordian player. FABULOUS!

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After dinner we all hopped in a limo and headed down to Old Vegas. Think Freemont Street, Golden Nugget, Binion’s and 4 Queens. Old Vegas definitely doesn’t have the glamorous feeling that the Bellagio, etc. has, but is perfectly “authentic” – I just loved it!

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We have a winner! It wasn’t me though…

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The boys played many rounds of craps and black jack in Old Vegas 🙂

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Don’t worry – I got it on some of that Black Jack action too!

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The street that a lot of the old vegas casinos are on – Freemont Street – is covered by an overhead canopy type covering that they play light shows on. Aren’t these cool??

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Pose!

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Ben got artsy and took these – he’s a great photographer!

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Day 2 in Vegas was so much fun and just like Day 1, we did SO much in just one day!! I miss it already… Day 3 re-cap coming soon! 😀

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Hey everybody – I’m back!!

Las Vegas was AMAZING – I am so glad I can finally say I’ve been there! The city was a lot different than I thought it would be – definitely a lot less “seedy” than what I was expecting. In fact, I’m going to go ahead and say it, Vegas was beautiful!! It’s all in what you do and where you go, in my opinion 🙂 Ok, trip re-cap, starting with Day 1!

Me and my girlfriend in the airport waiting to take off. Don’t worry – we made matching shirts for all the couples going on the trip!

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RATS! Delayed by a fuel spill…our Vegas luck had run out before we even got there! It didn’t end up being as terrible as we thought though, and we were only delayed by about an hour. Soon enough, were were off!

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After a quick 2.5 hour flight, we arrived in Vegas and met up with the third couple going on our trip. They had flown in from Chicago, so we met them at our hotel: The Flamingo. All pink, all the time 🙂

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We got up to our rooms, got cleaned up and were ready to unleash ourselves on the town 😀

The ladies:

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And the fellas:

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If you’ve never been to Vegas, know that literally everywhere you turn, there are slot machines. Like, everywhere you turn. So, I didn’t fight it – I hit the penny slots in the lobby of our hotel on our way out!

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After losing a couple bucks (:()we hit the streets.

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One of the couples we went with goes to Vegas once a year and the first place they always hit after they drop their bags off at the hotel is La Salsa Cantina for some bomb-diggity chips, salsa, burritos & margaritas! We happily continued the tradition 🙂

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These margaritas were as long as my body, actually… No worries – I split mine with a friend – nobody needs an entire yards worth of margarita in their body!

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After dinner we hit up Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino. Ummm – this is seriously one of the coolest places I have ever been to in my life! I wish I had taken more pictures of the inside, but trust me, if you go to Vegas you must hit PH up simply to see how fabulous it is. While the boys played some table games, the girls hit up some more penny slots. Because we’re high rollers like that.

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Up next was strolling through the forum shops at Caesars Palace (ummmm, coolest place I have EVER been to – can I LIVE there???) They truly made the hotel, casino and associated shops feel exactly like Rome. The detail they put into the buildings, the fountains, the columns and sculptures is unbelievable.

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We made a pit stop at a swanky cigar bar in the shops and had some of the most delicious, hand-crafted mojitos I have ever had!

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I got a Nectarine Mojito. Absolutely divine 😀

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After mojitos, we hit up this Irish casino and proceeded to play beer pong, college frat-party style, until it was time to hit the hay.

Considering that were delayed an hour because of a fuel spill and we didn’t even get to our hotel until 4:00 – we accomplished a TON our first night in Vegas! And we didn’t even stay out that late! Overall first impressions of Vegas:

  1. Nothing is exactly alike and the architecture and attention to detail in all the hotels is so fascinating
  2. Very clean considering it’s called Sin City
  3. Comparable to no other place on earth. I seriously felt like I was at an amuesment park! 

I hope you had a wonderful weekend too – stay tuned for Viva Las Vegas Days 2 & 3!

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Greetings everyone!

Wow – Chicago was epic… Ladies weekend was so much fun, as weekends spent with your best friends tend to be!!! Photo re-cap:

Driving into the city – the dark building is the Sears Tower, the tallest building in North America!

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After we reached my friend’s place, we headed to a little coffee shop/bar called the Map Room. They have beers from ALLL over the world – awesome! I stayed domestic though and got an Anchor Steam from San Francisco. Ben and I first had these when we went to San Fran in early March and fell in love with them. They are so tasty!

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Mmm delicious!

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After our thirst was quenched, we went shopping 🙂 I got a few dresses that I just loved! Then we headed back to my friend’s apartment for some apps and a light dinner. On the menu:

  • Milk and dark chocolate covered almonds
  • Gouda, pepper jack and laughing cow cheeses with sun-dried tomato Triscuits – which I’m not kidding you, are one of the best things I’ve ever eaten in my entire life!!!
  • Veggie croissant pizza

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Look at that wine bottle cover – it’s a KIMONO!! My friend got it for me for my birthday – isn’t that sweet? 🙂 Seriously – you all must realize now how much I love Japan, after literally all of my birthday presents were Japanese themed 🙂

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The pizza was made by rolling out a package of crescent rolls and baking it as one big pizza crust. After it cools, you spread it with some cream cheese mixed with a little ranch dip seasoning mix, and top with some fresh veggies. SUCH a tasty and easy appetizer that you can feel good about eating!

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Finally – SANGRIA!!! There were peaches, apples & blueberries in our drinks – so refreshing, sweet and perfect for a hot summer night 🙂

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At this point, I was ready…

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Ready for BLURT!!! You had to know I would bring it with me…guess who won?

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After a couple glasses of Sangria and shouting over BLURT!, we headed out into the warm Chicago night and had ourselves a blast 😀

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On Saturday morning we got up and did some MORE shopping! Hey – it’s a mandatory ladies weekend activity, if you ask me 🙂 First stop was the most incredible little spa boutique – Mojo Spa. If you live in Chicago you have GOT to stop here.

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They sell a ton of products that look and smell like desserts – AMAZING!

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After slathering ourselves with chocolate truffle lotion and vanilla gingerbread cream, we headed to quite possibly the most amazing brunch location I have ever been to – The Bongo Room.

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This place was INSANE. They specialize in decadent and whimsical pancake creations like Nestle Crunch Banana Pancakes and White Chocolate & Caramel Covered Pretzel Pancakes!! With so much to choose from…we had to get coffee while we mulled over our decision 🙂

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Then we decided that we HAD to get the 4 Berry & White Chocolate Cheesecake Flapjacks. Ummmm – these were GRAHM CRACKER crusted pancakes that were covered in a white chocolate cream cheese sauce and drizzled with a berry coulis. This was literally one of the best things I have ever eaten!!!

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We also got a Breakfast Burrito that combined eggs & guacamole – which turned out to be the most inspiring combination ever. Delish!

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Finally, we ordered a BLT Benedict that was light, flavorful and perfectly savory!

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Honestly – this is the best shot I could come up with because everything looked so delicious and we were so hungry…we POUNCED on these babies.

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Aaaaand we DESTROYED everything!!! I was laughing so hard taking this picture. This was one of those meals where nobody’s talking because everyone is too busy EATING! The Bongo Room was incredible – you have got to go if you’re in Chicago!

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After brunch, we walked around the city to burn a few cals, shopped a little more AND WENT TO TRADER JOES & WHOLE FOODS!!! I was a giddy 4 year old child…these two places are like Disney Land for me!

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Look at this Whole Foods! It was seriously the size of a shopping mall – are you friggin’ kidding me…

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View of the city from the top of Whole Foods!

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After spending a substantial amount of time at these two places, my friends finally tore me away so we could go get ready for our night. Which started with…Cocktails at the Signature Lounge in the Hancock Building!

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A well kept secret (well, not now) is that the best views of the city of Chicago can be found in the women’s restroom at the Signature Lounge of the Hancock building. Well – it’s TRUE! Look at this!

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Navy Pier!

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Absolutely incredible. It was so funny – every women in the bathroom whipped out their camera before they left, to take the same pics!

After cocktails we headed to dinner at Angels & Mariachis – an awesome Mexican Restaurant in Wicker Park!

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My friend and I split the taco salad which was so light and had a TON of fresh tomato, corn and black bean relish. Sweet!

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After dinner we headed over to another friends place to do some pullups:

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Then went out and had ourselves a fantastic night!

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Wow – that was a long recap – we did so much in just two days! Thanks to my friends for hosting a great memory and fun filled weekend. I think girlfriends are such an important thing in a woman’s life and I’m lucky to have the best of them!!!

Signing off for the evening – talk to you all tomorrow!

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Good morning everyone! You’re almost to the weekend – it’s just a day away, no frets 🙂

Soooooo – my bags are packed…because I’m heading to Chicago! Yesiree it’s girls weekend and I, for one, could not be more excited 🙂 I haven’t been back since Snuggie-gate and two of my  friends have gotten new apartments in the city since then. Can’t wait to check them out and spend some quality time with the ladies!!

Since I’m heading to Chi-town – I thought maybe I’d give you a few fun facts about the city 🙂 Did you know (images from Google):

1. Chicago is home to three of the world’s tallest buildings, including the 1450-foot Sears Tower.

2. The first Ferris wheel made its debut in Chicago at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Today, Navy Pier is home to a 15-story Ferris wheel, modeled after the original one.

3. Founded in 1868, the Lincoln Park Zoo is the oldest free public zoo in the country and is open 365 days a year!

4. Chicago-style pizza is a deep-dish pizza style also referred to as "stuffed" pizza. True Chicago-style pizza features a buttery crust which stands up to 3 inches tall at the edges, slightly higher than the generous amounts of cheese and chunky tomato sauce, acting almost as a large bowl. Edited to note that this.stuff.is.incredible.!!!!! Whenever Ben and I go to Chicago, we buy one to bring back and snack on for the next couple of days. Is that gross?!

5. Cloud Gate, a public sculpture by British artist Anish Kapoor, is the centerpiece of the AT&T Plaza in Millennium Park within the Loop community area of Chicago. Constructed between 2004 and 2006, the sculpture is nicknamed The Bean because of its legume-like shape and is made up of 168 stainless steel plates welded together.

6. For over 40 years, the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers turn the Chicago River green for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade celebration.

These are just a FEW of the things that make Chicago such a unique and amazing city. I just love that Bean, by the way. A lot of people get their engagement photos done there…that would have been really cool, eh? Also – a couple years ago I was in Chicago for St. Patrick’s Day and MISSED the green river!!! I don’t know WHAT I was doing…but I will definitely have to make a return visit in the coming years to make sure I check that out!!

In preparation for my travels, I had a small breakfast today. I wasn’t all that hungry to begin with (I know, weird) and I don’t like to travel on a full stomach anyways. So, I had a simple Fruit Bowl.

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I sliced up my apple variety of choice – a Braeburn apple.

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and snagged the last of the best cantaloupe ever!

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This is a perfect traveling breakfast. It’s light, refreshing and it will also keep me hydrated. A lot of foods are actually good at keep hydration levels up – which is the key to comfortable traveling, in my opinion. Vegetables including:

  • lettuce
  • spinach
  • corn

have very high liquid contents. Fruits including:

  • watermelon
  • strawberries
  • oranges

are among the juiciest type of fruits. Obviously these foods shouldn’t replace drinking water – but hey, every little bit helps!

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Ok, I’m ready freddie – here’s to safe travels and a great weekend!

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What’s your preferred pizza type? Chicago deep dish? Thin New York style? Simple hand-tossed?

I don’t discriminate when it comes to pizza…I’ll eat it all!

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