I love my mom.
A few months ago we got a Living Social voucher for a facial and massage at The Spa on Oak in Gold Coast. When we went we had a really good experience (warning: rooms are TINY) and they were having a special for five hours of services + a cranberry facial for $150! So my mom being the best mom ever bought it and I have had a massage almost every week leading up to the Bar exam. We also scheduled two massages for Sunday so that I could have a “Mommy Therapy Day” before the Bar Exam. I needed it.
I had a massage with Daniel (who was great!) my favorites at Spa on Oak are Andre (I very openly love him) and Logan as well. Andre’s Hot Stone will cure any ailments you may ever have. Ever. I have had a lot of massages in my life (my Aunt is a masseuse – I am not spoiled – well actually, I guess that makes me spoiled) – and Andre is Top 5 for sure!!!
She came in on the train from Michigan… (is that a song title??) and we met at Trader Joe’s (which I suspect may have been her other main reason for coming down) and stocked up on some groceries! We then set out on a Boot Adventure (more on that later). We stopped by Nordstrom Rack – where we didn’t find any boots – but we DID find two delicious pairs of ballet flats. (Sparkles and Purple – two of my favorite things!)
We then went to one of my favorite places in the world THE CHEESECAKE FACTORY! Okay judgment done? Did you know that they have a Skinny menu now? And by “skinny” I mean under 600 calories. Anyway after munching on delicious noms we headed over to Water Tower where my Boot Adventure concluded! YES. We skedaddled over to the Spa (it is right off of Michigan Ave.) and began our relaxation. My only complaint about Spa on Oak – is that my massage ended like ten minutes early! I understand that they have to get the room ready for the next person – but my massage ended up only being about 40 minutes because I didn’t get into the room until 3:10. Regardless, Daniel was wonderful and my mom had a good massage too! After our massage we took a cab (luxury) to Union Station where I let her leave. Barely.
She left me with a bag of goodies including Butterscotch Rice Krispies and Applets!! I will try and make both of these in the future – but for now I’m giving you the recipe for the Krispies via another site. She also left me with the biggest container of Dunkin’ Donuts ground coffee you have EVER SEEN as well as lots of hugs and motivation and love – which is what I need more than anything right now. I then went home and well, I did work. Because the Bar Exam is never-ending (Just kidding! 5 days! Heart attack!)
Sometimes the only thing you need in life is 5 hours off – and I got that with my Mom!! To all of the Bar Examiners out there (or just busy people in general) remember that the most important thing is to take care of yourself!
P.S. That picture is of my grandma (Nancy), my mom, and me… yes, we all look alike, and we also make the exact same facial expressions. When Charlie first met Nancy he said it was like meeting an 80-some version of me. If that’s what I’m like when I’m a grandma – I am a-okay!
ONE WEEK UNTIL THE BAR EXAM. Insert heart attack/panic attack/anxiety/stress-baking/ohemgoodness. My posts are going to DRAMATICALLY decline over the next week – think of it as a super mysterious hiatus – in actuality I will not be showering nor practicing any other sort of personal hygiene and will most likely be completely out of my mind. Against – mysterious hiatus.
I LOVE stationery. I love stationery and I love paper products. So naturally, I love Rifle Paper Co. Here are some of my favorites… (It’s a condensed Tuesday Crush – did I mention in one week I’m taking the biggest exam of my life?)
As the Bar draws nearer and nearer I find myself caring less and less how I am presenting myself to the outside world. The only opinion that currently matters to me is the Illinois Bar Examiners. And I highly doubt they care what shoes I am wearing. (Actually, they do… “Please do not wear footwear that makes loud or distracting noise when you walk.”) Anyway, I have always been complimented on my way to dress up comfortable. One time in college a girl from my sorority ran into me wearing sweatpants and she found it necessary to call three of our mutual friends to tell them. They all followed up within ten minutes to make sure I was feeling okay. Actually, I wasn’t – but the point is – I like to present myself!!! But I also like to be really comfortable. So here we are… “How to dress comfortably… (without looking like a hobo).”
- Zella Leggings – These leggings will legitimately blow your mind. I have had my current pair for three years and I can still bend over and not show the world my purple bunders. (We have all seen it happen – leggings weaken ladies, in case you didn’t know, I’m sure everyone around you does.) These are expensive – but worth EVERY penny.
- Party Cardy – So this one is from J.Crew and ridiculously expensive (but it’s caaaashmere). Just go to Gap (like I did) and get a cardigan that you can wash. (But be weary of violent-button-ripping-laundry-machines).
- Nice T-Shirt - This t-shirt is what $75? Do yourself a favor and go to the Gap and pick up 6 shirts for this. Seriously. All of the T’s in my closet are Gap… I should actually be somewhat embarrassed the ratio of Gap/non-Gap clothing in my closet. But they seem to always have the best selection – and I love their V-Necks!
- Sperry Top-Siders - I am forever in love with these shoes. First of all – warning to the Sperry-first-timers - these babies might make you bleed at first, but the pain is worth it. Because eventually they mold to your feet like a good pair of Birkenstocks – without the Hippie vibe. I have been a little disappointed with their lack of solid colors – they seem to mixing prints a lot – but these golds are amazing!
- Monogrammed Earrings - I LOVE LOVE LOVE these – right now I have plain silver monogrammed earrings – but after the Bar I might just have to treat myself to these. You should definitely check out this website btw, a TON of cute things – and very very reasonable prices!
- Lilly Pulitzer Murfee Scarf - I think the most important thing to making comfy look awesome is wearing something that catches the eye – and by that I do not mean sweatpants with holes! I have a Murfee scarf (as well as about 12 pashminas) and I love that I can just throw them on with anything and it gives my outfit the nicest touch of color. Plus, it’s Lilly, you really cannot go wrong.
8 Days til the Bar!!!
So as I have already said… I LOVE a bargain… So last night I headed over to Gap to get a black cardigan. Somehow my black cardy got stuck under the washer and the button was violently ripped out. It was sad, of course. What is more sad is that I pretty much wear a cardigan every day – and suddenly I found myself black cardigan-less. TRAVESTY.
I headed into Gap knowing I was also going to be checking out their Real Straight jeans – they are THE BEST! Plus, secretly, I wanted to try on the Legging Jeans. See I have been a HUGE anti-pajama jean advocate ever since I saw those original commercials. But Meg swears by them and I wanted to try them on… well other than the fact that I’m pretty sure I tore my ACL trying to get them on – I kind of loved them. But the term “Pajama Jeans” was hovering over my head and alas I could not bring myself to purchase them. However, they DID have these fantastic Real Straight jeans in black. I had to get two sizes bigger than regular jeans… (weird)… but they were SO COMFORTABLE – almost pajama jean comfortable. I was hoping they were on sale, but they were not. I couldn’t bring myself to pay $70 for them considering I actually do not have a salary.
I could, however, convince myself for the need of that adorable striped tunic, so I got it, the wide-leg pants (but in a houndstooth), and the cardigan I originally went in for.
Then I came home to check online to see if there was some sort of coupon code I could get the jeans with and I realized that both the jeans AND tunic were massively on sale – What the What?! So I ordered them (free shipping) and am going to return the tunic to save some money! What I think is strange is that the ladies looked up both of these things to see if they had a certain size – and neither mentioned them being on sale online – I am over that though because they were SUPER sweet and helped me a lot.
So lesson learned, that is why we have iPhones people!
Really. This snack is absolute perfection. One of the very few things I have tasted on this earth that might be deemed worthy of God’s snack bowl. For some reason I have been craving cinnamon like crazy the past few weeks. I think it started at a Super Bowl Party we went to.
They had cinnamon popcorn – it was delicious! But really buttery – now I’m no butter-hater, but I’m also not a Paula Deen. Save for my chocolate chip cookies I usually try to skim back on the butter a bit, if for nothing more than the false belief that what I’m eating is somewhat healthy.
So after going through two bags of Stacy’s Cinnamon Pita Chips and trying to stifle my craving with Cinnamon Sugar Toast (throwback!) I decided to Pinterest some Cinnamon Popcorn. I still don’t really know how I feel about Pinterest. I love the fact that I can stalk other people’s weddings and look up nice quotes, but sometimes I feel like it is just the same stuff over and over again – however, tonight Pinterest delivered. Beautifully. I found a recipe here - and modified it a bit… I visit Garrett’s enough that I know how to make sugar coated popcorn. So I used some tricks I siphoned off of them.
Amanda’s Cinnamon Popcorn
- 2/3 c unpopped popcorn (or 8-10 cups popped)
- 1/2 c butter
- 1/4 c + 1 T white sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 – 2 T cinnamon sugar
- Heat oven to 300 degrees.
- I made the popcorn in my handy dandy Whirley Pop, courtesy of Charlie’s parents. (A little bit of olive oil with the 2/3 c kernels)
- After the popcorn was done I split it up into two bowls.
- Melt butter, sugar, and cinnamon in the microwave until the sugar is dissolved.
- Add vanilla.
- Pour 1/4 of the mixture over one bowl and a 1/4 of the mixture over the other bowl.
- “Toss” the popcorn. Move the bowl in a motion so that the kernels fly around (not TOO much flying) and they get nice and coated!
- Pour remaining mixture evenly over both. Repeat “toss.”
- Lay popcorn onto an aluminum foil wrapped baking pan (I had to use two).
- Sprinkle popcorn with cinnamon sugar.
- Bake for 5 minutes – remove from oven (BE CAREFUL IT IS HOT – IT WAS JUST IN THE OVEN), use the tin foil to pour popcorn back into mixing bowl and repeat tossing action. Spread back onto aluminum foil and baking sheet. (Do for the other one).
- Bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven…
…And then try not to eat all of it in one sitting. Because you will. Like I did…
I know this seems really involved – but I think that tossing it made the difference between it being soggy buttered popcorn tasting into crispy almost Garrett-crispy popcorn!
My posts may (hopefully) be slowing down as I lead up to the Bar, but one thing is for sure – the stress baking will NOT!
I had SUCH a perfect Valentine’s Day. It was exactly what my bombarded-brain needed, some R&R.
(1) I got the CUTEST card for Charlie. I am always talking about being a “Smitten Kitten” and then when I was in Papyrus I found this! Side note I love Papyrus, they always have a card for EVERYONE I am looking for.
(2) OH EM GOODNESS, Lisa was right, this wine is amazing!!! It just gets me more excited for our trip to California and all of the delish wine-tastings we have in store!
(3) Speaking of California… my Dad warned Charlie when we first started dating to not ever try and outdo my mother or me in presents – because we will always win. Well, I can’t always say that this has been the case (i.e. last V-Day I didn’t get him anything and he got me diamond earrings – woops!), but I definitely LOVE giving gifts. So I cheated a bit this year and gave him two – one for Valentine’s Day (7) and one for being so supportive of me the past couple months (3). I know I have not been the easiest person in the world but he’s been so patient and supportive. So anyway, we are driving the Pacific Coast Highway after the Bar, and I am SO excited. I was searching for some kind of “experience” to give him in San Francisco, our last stop. I am a bargain HUNTER, capital H-U-N-T-E-R. I was thinking of getting a gift certificate to Gary Danko of La Folie, but then THIS came on Living Social! It is a Sailing Tour of San Francisco – PERFECTION. Charlie is a sailor, and I like Sperrys – so this is basically the most perfect gift of all time. (Okay now I’m just bragging).
(4) I got this wrapping paper for Christmas because it was hilarious – and when I was trying to find wrapping paper for Charlie’s other gift I came across this and thought – dual purposes?? (Earmuffs Mom! Earmuffs Dad!!)
(5) Like I said – perfect night in. This included a Fireside Pizza from Homemade Pizza. I even let them put all the ingredients on the whole pizza so Charlie and I could have a “pizza experience” together. (Usually I like just cheese).
(6) Eek! My favorite part! There are very few things I like more than nice leather – one of those things is monograms!!!! So Charlie COMBINED them and gave me a grown-up present!!! A leather portfolio for all of my important lawyer-meetings. In all honesty it has kind of given me a kick-in-the-butt with this Bar stuff. Sometimes I forget that I went to law school because I actually wanted to practice law. This reminded me of all of the opportunities that will be available to me after I pass the Bar.
(7) Charlie’s other gift!!! I figured he needed a new pair of Sperrys for our sailing adventure! Funny story – I know his shoe size but he tried to fool me! He just got a pair of boots from Sperry and ordered a half-size up to fit Nancy-Socks in them as well. So when I asked him to double check he told me the wrong size. Luckily, I keep an impeccable record… well Zappos does… and I double checked and exchanged them for the right size.
(8) To cap off the perfect night – our favorite show – Frasier! Did I not mention we’re retired? Just kidding. This show is a GEM, and it is still funny. I remember watching this show with my parents and not getting it - at all. Now I (pretty much) get it.
I hope all of your Valentine’s Days were MAGICAL and fulfilling.
Chances are if something is REALLY COOL and I am telling you about it – I most likely learned about it from someone else. In this case Meg posted about C. Wonder a few days ago and since reading her blog is a ton more interesting than “Conflict of Laws” I decided to check it out…
OH EM GOODNESS. The cutest. All of it. I want it. Specifically that dress.
Each Tuesday I will try to do a “Crush” of some sort – it won’t necessarily be a brand, but could also be a blog… song… anything! And if you have anything that you think is crush-worthy – please share!
In other news – it is Valentine’s Day! Because I am just beyond stressed – Charlie and I are celebrating at home with a “Homemade Pizza” and a bottle of wine from Napa that my dear friend Lisa gave us. I can’t believe that in FOURTEEN DAYS I will be done with the first day of the Bar exam and a couple days after that will be on the way to the Adventure of a Lifetime!!! (More on that later!!!) I think a sign that you’re growing up is that you get more excited to GIVE than RECEIVE (even though it is still really fun to get gifts!) I cannot WAIT to give Charlie his present tonight – and I will let you all know how it goes tomorrow!
For now, Happy Valentine’s Day!
… and I am a stress baker.
I am not talking about your usual here and there, oh lets make brownies… I am talking straight on… in the past week I have made four different type of baked goods and I don’t plan on stopping soon.
The Bar exam is literally eating away at my soul, and so the only way I feel human again is to make tasty treats and feed the people I love. And myself.
Another thing about me… I love S’Mores… in any form. Trader Joe’s has these little S’More bits that I will eat an entire box of without blinking. The combination to me is just genius. So today I was hardcore craving S’More cupcakes, but there was simply no time to get chocolate cake mix… but I happened to have some Ghirardelli brownie mix…
S’More Brownies (Amanda’s Version)
- 8 T unsalted butter, melted
- 2 c graham cracker crumbs
- 2 T + 1 t granulated sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 Box Ghirardelli brownie mix (1/3 c veggie oil, 1/4 c water, 1 egg)
- “Enough” mini marshmallows
- (Steps 1 & 2 taken from above linked blog) Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line 8×8-inch pan with foil so it hangs over the edges a bit. Spray with nonstick spray. (You can use 9×9-inch pan, but baking time might need slight decrease and your end result will be a thinner brownie).
- Prepare crust: In a medium bowl, mix butter with crumbs, sugar and salt. Press crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan. Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Mix up brownie mix (so much faster).
- Pour into baked crust, bake according to box directions.
- After brownies are done sprinkle “enough” (to cover) mini marshmallows. Sprinkle with any extra graham cracker frosting. Broil for 3-6 minutes depending on oven.
- Try not to eat right away because it will BURN YOUR MOUTH OFF. Seriously, learn from my mistake
- Remove aluminum foil from pan and cut brownies (I waited a bit first).
These babies are EXACTLY what the doctor ordered – SO yummy and delicious. I hope you have reasons to make these other than stress-baking, but if not… these are the perfect cure!
Again – this Bar stuff is literally the biggest time-sucker I have ever experienced in my life. So when Charlie suggested we go out to dinner to celebrate my Law School graduation I gleefully accepted, and scheduled it for about a month after I actually graduated. I am really trying to limit my social outings – because there is always studying to do. (This is being drafted while I’m eating lunch.)
Anyway we settled on Jack’s on Halsted, which is AMAZING by the way. Charlie had some man-steak and I had the pork with maple mashed sweet potatoes. Yes you read that right, and yes I have a picture…It was so stinkin’ delicious!!!
They also had these cute little napkin man-shirts. I took an adorable picture of Charlie, but I think he would be highly unamused if I put it on here. Anyway… FASHION.
I LOVE dressing up, really, I do. And I guess I have a very 50′s prep style – I love high-waisted almost anything, especially skirts. So tonight I decided red would be my focal color (the color of passion right?). Anyway I sported my red-deal coat as well as an Ann Taylor skirt that I couldn’t find online – but it was polka dotted!
The ballet flats are my FAVORITE – they are from Born, and I have had them for what seems like forever. I feel like I always get a new pair of black ballet flats that stretch out/get a hole in them/lose them while crossing the street and then I find these in the back of my closet. Super trusty and durable. The bangle is from Kate Spade, (Charlie’s Christmas Present :-)), and I have had that Pandora since high school I think. The Skagen watch I have again, had forever. Last but not least those beautiful diamond studs? Totally fake, got them off of Groupon Goods. They’re actually Swarovski Zirconia, and they look just like the real thing!!!