A Weekend In Chicago with the Girls

I’m just getting back from a girls weekend. I was able to spend several days with some of my best friends. We have been friends for 20+ years and we try to go on trips together about once every year or other year. This year, we planned a trip to Chicago – just us. No kids, husbands, pets, etc.

What does a girls weekend entail when you’re 30-something and have 2 kids? Well, it was pretty perfect. It included:

Some drinks.

Some delicious dining. Including deep dish pizza (of course!), breakfast sandwiches, homemade bagels and lox and birthday treats.

Some relaxing by the hotel rooftop pool.

Some exercise. We did one run along the lake, and one gym day with circuit training. We also took a rainy walk along the 606.

Some site seeing.

I even was able to sneak in a short visit with my friend Cuoghi who moved from CLE to Chicago last year. I was so happy to get in a quick visit with her! We enjoyed some cupcakes in the park.

I’m feeling so lucky and grateful to have such amazing friends. Despite many miles keeping us apart and many life changes over the past 20+ years of our friendship, we are still able to pick up right where we left off every time.

Some questions for you:

  • Do you have friends that you’ve kept in touch with for many years?
  • Where should we go on our next trip?

Girls Weekend in New Orleans

Last weekend I was lucky enough to spend some time with some of my best friends in the entire world – Jane, Melgar and Alisa. The four of us became friends in junior high, which means we’ve been friends now for 17+ years. It boggles my mind that I’ve known them for so long.

Friends for 17 years! This was approximately 12 years ago ...

Friends for 17 years! This was approximately 12 years ago …

The four of us haven’t been together since Melgar’s wedding 2 years ago, and it was SO GREAT to be together in such a fun city. We stayed together in a cute hotel in the French Quarter and had no set itinerary for our time there – just to have fun, eat good food, and celebrate our friendship.

Some highlights from our weekend included:

Eating tons of beignets at Café Du Monde. I may have gone there three times during our trip.

cafe dumond2

cafe dumond

Checking out the Garden District and stalking doing an informal walking tour of the beautiful homes.

this house had a corn fence!

this house had a corn fence!

Going out on Bourbon Street and Frenchmen Street (yay for no open container laws!)

Out on Frenchmen Street

Out on Frenchmen Street

Bourbon Street before it gets crazy later

Bourbon Street before it gets crazy later

Hearing the famous Preservation Hall Jazz Band at the Preservation Hall

I didn’t take this video, but it gives you a good sense of what we saw and how amazing they are:

Going for a run with Alisa and catching part of the humongous Halloween parade

sweatie selfie!

Going out to eat and getting some Creole food at the Gumbo Shop… and non-Creole food at Shaya

gumbo shop jane alisa gumbo shop shaya with jane

Just walking around and exploring the old streets and interesting scenery. Honestly, we could’ve done NOTHING and I would’ve been happy – I love these girls so much.

fountain

cute hotel

What a great trip! It was so wonderful to see my friends and as always, we were able to pick up and start again without missing a beat. I’m so lucky to have these ladies in my life!

Some questions for you:

  • Do you still stay in touch with any of your high school or junior high friends?
  • Have you ever been to New Orleans? What did you think?
  • Where should the four of us go on our next trip?

Linking up today for a weekend update/marvelous monday recap with with Katie and Erin!

A Weekend With Friends in the CLE

Do you have a group of friends or a friend that you don’t see too often (perhaps because you live far apart) but each time you meet up it’s like things have never changed and you can pick up right where you left off? That’s my Jane and Melgar. We’ve been friends since 7th grade and even though we went to different colleges and now live in different cities, we stay in touch and see each other once a year.

Look what I found in my old yearbook! Five high school best friends before junior year prom. LOOK AT THOSE DRESSES.

Look what I found in my old yearbook! Five high school best friends before junior year prom. LOOK AT THOSE DRESSES.

This year, even with Melgar’s wedding, we managed to get together in my current home – Cleveland! It had been 5 or 6 years since they had been in town and it’s crazy to think about how much life has changed since then – not only how much Cleveland has changed but how much we have changed. New jobs, marriage, new significant others, new cities, grad school – seriously, so much has changed.

Obligatory picture of Jane and Melgar and I the last time they were in CLE - posing at Edgewater

Obligatory picture of Jane and Melgar and I the last time they were in CLE – posing at Edgewater. We don’t look that different do we?

Anyway, we had a GREAT weekend, if I do say so myself. We enjoyed time at some downtown bars (from Moriarty’s to Lincoln Tap House to Society Lounge) and restaurants (Greenhouse Tavern, Phuel and Taza), in Ohio City (West Side Market and Town Hall), and even Tremont (Press Wine Bar and Treehouse). Oh yeah, we also went for a run, got to watch some World Cup AND went to the beach. I’d say it was a successful weekend!

Some fabulous photos from the weekend (in no order):

Watching the soccer game at Moriarty's

Watching the soccer game at Moriarty’s

Then fancy cocktails at Society

Then fancy cocktails at Society

Easy run in the morning around downtown

Easy run in the morning around downtown

Catching some rays (and ice cream) on the beach

Catching some rays (and ice cream) on the beach

Walking to the West Side Market and brunch

Walking to the West Side Market and brunch (side note – a runner stopped mid-run and asked if we wanted our photo taken! How nice is that?)

Hanging out at the mini flea market in Ohio City

Hanging out at the mini flea market in Ohio City

brunch at Phuel

brunch at Phuel (pancake not pictured). Also realized I didn’t get a photo of our amazing meals at Greenhouse, Taza OR Town Hall!

patio drinks in Tremont

patio drinks in Tremont

Feeling American watching the World Cup drinking a Bud Light and eating a buffalo chicken salad

AND after they left, I drowned my sorrows in soccer. I felt pretty American watching the World Cup drinking a Bud Light and eating a buffalo chicken salad.

It was a great weekend and I can’t wait until I see these girls again soon. We always have such a great time catching up, relaxing and exploring whatever city we’re in. Where should we meet up next?

Some questions for you (answer in the comments if you can):

How was your weekend?

Did you watch the World Cup?

What’s your idea of “American” food? Beer, soda, wings, buffalo chicken and burgers!

Do you like fancy drinks? What’s your favorite cocktail?

Where is your favorite city to have a girl’s weekend? We need suggestions!

What’s your favorite brunch order? I’m typically a savory bruncher – eggs, sausage, bacon … etc. I got chili for brunch on Saturday and granola on Sunday. 

That Weekend One of your Best Friends Gets MARRIED

I had a FABULOUS weekend and I am just so excited to share it with you. That’s right – as you probably could tell by the headline (do you read headlines?) – one of my best friends in the whole world got MARRIED this weekend.

blast from the past! Some memories of me and Melgar

blast from the past! Some memories of me and Melgar

Let me tell you a little bit about Melgar. Melgar and I have been friends since 7th grade. Have I told you this before? During locker day, that day when all the soon-to-be seventh graders come to the junior high to try out their lockers and their class schedule, Melgar and I discovered we had lockers next to one another. AND that we had the same first name. Which is why I always called her Melgar – not Melissa. So it only made sense that two short seventh graders, with the same first name and in the same hall, and lockers next to one another, would become friends. Friends we became – and despite going to different colleges, and living oh so far apart, thanks to Skypes, Google Hangouts, and phone calls, we have remained friends to this day. And that’s why I feel so blessed and honored to have been part of her special day – and in my first wedding!

melgar getting ready

beautiful bride getting ready

jane and melissa fruity drinks

post-ceremony cocktail hour at the gorgeous Franklin Plaza

B and me with the newlyweds!

It was a beautiful wedding, a beautiful (and cold) day, and a wonderful weekend – seeing my family (my parents live about 20 minutes away from where the ceremony and reception took place so I stayed with them all weekend!), catching up with old friends (seeing Alisa, who flew in from Finland and Andy who lives in Florida), spending the day getting ready with two of my very best friends Jane and Melgar, and dancing the night away with B.

Celebrating with my favorite ladies after the wedding

Celebrating with my favorite ladies after the wedding

B and me- all dressed up!

B and me- all dressed up!

Hope you had just as glorious a weekend! What did you do?

Some questions:

Have you been in any weddings? What’s your favorite part? I loved all the pre-big day activities! Spending the day with some of my very best friends who I don’t see very often and just getting to to be with Melgar on her special day was so wonderful.

Did you stay on your running schedule this weekend? Whoops. Nope! I was due for a 14 miler on Saturday and 7 miles on Friday. With the wedding and the weather (and any other excuses I can come up with), I only was able to get in 18.8 miles – over the 4 days. BUT I did put in a run each day, so I don’t feel too bad (including 6 miles the day of the wedding and 4 miles early the morning after on very uhh tired feet). 

What are you looking forward to this week? It may sound boring, but sleeping in my own bed! Last week I was traveling for work 3 days and then back in NY for the wedding – and I haven’t slept in my own bed since Sunday. 

Thumbprint Cookies with Jam

Let the countdown begin – Christmas Eve will be here in just a week! If you’re looking for a great cookie to add to your holiday cookie collection, look no further – here is a keeper.

Thumbprint Cookies with Raspberry Jam are a staple in my household and one of the cookies we have nearly every year during the holidays. When my friend Melgar, who typically joins us for dessert during the holidays (but sadly won’t be there this year), asked me to share the recipe, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t already posted it here! So here you go – enjoy!

Thumbprint Cookies with Jam - i crashed the web

Thumbprint Cookies with Jam

Here’s what you need:

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • about 1/4 c jam of your choice – I love raspberry!

Here’s what you do:

  1. Cream butter with sugar in large bowl of electric mixer until fluffy.
  2. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla, stopping machine as necessary to scrape down sides of bowl.
  3. Add flour and continue beating just until mixed through; do not overbeat or cookies will be tough.
  4. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes for firmer cookies that will not spread very much.
  5. Shape dough into 2 tbs. size balls* and flatten with your palms. Transfer to cookie sheet.
  6. Smooth and round cookies using knife (or your finger) dipped in cool water. To make a simple filled cookie, press thumb into formed cookie to make an indentation. Fill with jam.
  7. Transfer to greased baking sheets.
  8. Position rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake cookies one sheet at a time until edges are brown and centers are just firm to touch, about 8-10 minutes. Cool on racks.

Makes about 2 dozen or so cookies.

Thumbprint Cookies w Jam - i crashed the web

*Feeling crafty and have extra time? Feel free to roll out dough and cut into cute, festive shapes instead of shaping dough into balls, before putting thumbprint onto dough.

Plus, as always, some questions for you:

  • Have you made these before? What do you do that’s different?
  • What’s your favorite type of jam?
  • What’s your favorite holiday cookie?  I love these! And Buckeyes, do they count? 

And here are two more of my favorite holiday cookies:

Super Easy Peasy Tuxedo Cookies - i crashed the web

Cherry Almond Chocolate Kiss Cookies - i crashed the web

 

Weekend Update: Boston Bachelorette

This weekend was a desperately needed girls and family weekend. From a girls night with my sisters-in-law to a quick stop in Albany to see my parents to a trip to Boston for one of my best friend’s bachelorette parties … it was nonstop but amazing.

It started early for me when last week my sister-in-law Katie was home for the week so Jenni, Mary, Katie and I decided to meet up for a drink after work. We tried out a place I hadn’t been to – the Fairmount – whose cozy tables and fireplace were the perfect setting as it started snowing (yes, snowing!) on the east side at night.

Spiced Cider

Spiced Cider

The next day I was off to spend the weekend in my old stomping grounds- Boston! I was luck enough to fit in a quick stop in Albany to see my parents and enjoy Albany Restaurant Week with them … and of course a photoshoot with my dog … before driving out to Boston with Melgar’s matron of honor.

My dog really is too cute. Isn’t she? Sometimes she blinks when her photos are taken, too!

Isn't she adorable?

Isn’t she adorable?

Dinner with my parents included TWO desserts. So lucky to have parents that enjoy food and desserts as much as I do!

dessert #2 at dinner - berry rhubarb pie!

Dessert #1 at dinner – berry rhubarb pie!

Dessert #1 at dinner - tiramisu

Dessert #2 at dinner – tiramisu

A little about Melgar and me. Melgar and I met during Junior High Locker Day – the day before the first day of school when all new 7th graders come in, try out their lockers, walk through their schedules, etc. We share the same first name, and her step-dad noticed it and introduced us. The rest is history! We were friends from junior high to high school and even through college, both going to (different) schools in Boston. Though we live quite far apart right now (she just moved all the way to California!) we’re still in touch through visits (I just saw her on my West Coast Trip), occasional Google Hangouts, phone calls and more. Melgar is actually my first good friend to get married and the first wedding that I’m in (besides my own). Thus this was actually my first bachelorette party (besides my own) and I was super excited to see her, my other best friend Jane (also from junior high) and go out in my old city of Boston.

Me, Melgar and Jane back in the day

Me, Melgar and Jane back in the day

The weekend included:

A few runs – including one in our hotel in Boston (yes, I was that girl who woke up early before the festivities to run … at least Fresh Prince of Bel Air was on!). Both were on treadmills which is SO not like me – could my love-hate treadmill relationship be on the love end right now?

Both of these runs were done on a treadmill ... not sure what's gotten into me!

Both of these runs were done on a treadmill … not sure what’s gotten into me!

Takeout from one of my old favorite eateries – Brown Sugar Thai:

Brown Sugar!

Brown Sugar!

Brunch downtown at Masa. Their fiesta brunch is pretty awesome and included Huevos Rancheros ON TOP OF A QUESADILLA.

Huevos Rancheros at Masa

Huevos Rancheros at Masa

Jenny, me and Allie

Jenny, me and Allie

Walking around Boston with the ladies and tea at the Four Seasons. Oh, and getting to hang out with some of Boston’s finest 🙂

boston public garden

Boston Public Garden

Busted! Melgar in a cop car.

Busted! Melgar in a cop car.

Oh and of course getting dressed up and going out and dancing our hearts away at one of our old college bars.

Jane and me, ready to go out!

Jane and me, ready to go out!

Sunday it was back to Albany for a great home-cooked meal (my parents know me too well – quinoa, salmon, broccoli, salad and leftover homemade pizza was on the menu) before flying back to CLE Monday morning.

salmon, quinoa salad, pizza, broccoli, salad

salmon, quinoa salad, pizza, broccoli, salad

It was a lovely weekend and I hope Melgar had a great time and felt all the love that can only be felt when surrounded by your favorite girl friends. I cannot wait to celebrate again with her when she gets married in just a few months!

The gorgeous bride-to-be

The gorgeous bride-to-be

Some questions for you:

  1. Do you still keep in touch with your old college friends? High school? Junior high? Yes there are a few lovely ladies that I keep in touch with and see every so often!
  2. Have you been to a bachelorette party? Been in a wedding? What’s the best part? TBD – these are all firsts for me!
  3. Ever been to Boston? Favorite part of the city? Least favorite? I lived there for 4ish years and loved it! I love how walkable everything is. And how manageable the T is. I also love the history! My least favorite part of the city is definitely their sports teams. Growing up in NY i pretty much hate the Red Sox, Patriots, etc. 

San Francisco! (Part Two)

After spending a pretty full day exploring San Francisco, we still had a few more items on our to-do list – including meeting up with one of my best friends, Melgar! Melgar lives just south of downtown and was going to take the train in so that we could spend some time sightseeing with her, and then we would stay with her in her new apartment in Mountain View (she just moved to Cali from the East Coast a few months ago when her fiancé got a job at Apple).  Melgar and I have been friends for 16 years, which is truly weird to think of – AND I’m going to be in her wedding in a few months!!! Anyway, I digress. Our last day in the Bay Area included:

Exploring the Castro

Harvey Milk's Camera Shop

Harvey Milk’s Camera Shop

20130910_115521

20130910_113625

Trying to watch a sailing race in America’s Cup

IMG_20130910_143402

Enjoying some awesome fish tacos (and an unlimited salsa bar!!) in the Mission

Nom nom shrimp tacos!

Nom nom shrimp tacos!

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

LOOK AT ALL THE SALSA!

LOOK AT ALL THE SALSA!

Spending the night at Melgar’s – we enjoyed a home-cooked meal (her fiancé is not only amazing because he works at Apple, but he apparently also is a great cook!)

Sorry, Jon, but Instagram doesn't do this meal justice. IT WAS AMAZING.

Sorry, Jon, but Instagram doesn’t do this meal justice. IT WAS AMAZING.

And then dessert at my new favorite place Cream! Why is it so awesome?, because it combines my two favorite desserts – ice cream AND fresh baked cookies!

IMG_20130910_213711

I enjoyed some awesome peanut butter ice cream, in between a chocolate chip cookie AND a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie. OH MY GOODNESS. It is a strong competitor to fro yo for my favorite.

Melgar and me before Cream! (I told you, no sweaty running pics!)

Melgar and me before Cream! (I told you, no sweaty running pics!)

No sweaty pics, but we also got to go on a short run with Melgar before we left for LA. Which was fun  – Melgar likes to sprint so she definitely pushed us on our 3 miler around Mountain View!

After a quick trip, we were on our way down the coast – to L.A.!

Some questions –

  • Have you ever been to San Fran? The Bay Area? What do you like about it? Not like about it? The weather is typically just so-so – as was said on an old episode of 30 Rock “Aww poor baby. Can’t hack it in the big city, gonna move to the Bay Area now and pretend that that was your dream the whole time? Have fun always carrying a light sweater.”  We lucked out – again – and had gorgeous warm weather most of the time in San Fran. The locals were commenting how it was seasonably warm, which I enjoyed, very much!
  • What’s your favorite dessert? Ice cream, cookies and candy. I love baking cake/cupcakes, but would prefer to eat cookies!
  • Do you have friends that live on opposite coasts? Yes. Sadly, it seems that quite a few of my friends moved out west after college (in Boston). But it makes for some great people to visit and vacations to plan!

More vacation recaps from our West Coast Adventure can be found here: