Watch if You Dare, But Do Not Judge…

Basically 48 hours of the Unforgettable weekend we had – wrapped up into 4 1/2 minutes. Impressive Mandy. In order to catch the one-liner quotes you may have to watch it more than 3 times, that’s not saying you have to though πŸ˜‰ So like I said watch if you dare, but promise not to judge. Just a few good friends who haven’t seen each other in awhile, celebrating the right way in Chicago. Enjoy πŸ™‚

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Unforgettable

This past weekend some of my closest girl friends came down to Chicago for a visit, and to celebrate Kate’s birthday. Hands down, one of the best weekends of my life. I knew I was lucky when I lived at State with 10 girls, but I can definitely say I’m one of the luckiest girls alive to have such a close knit group of girls that love each other for each of our unique and individual traits. Kate: you’re my beautiful bestie and always will be, I can’t even begin to fathom my life without you, it’s hard enough living 200 miles apart – best part about you, you never judge (me) and you embrace my quirky embarrassing self πŸ˜‰ Kelly: your giggle gets me every time, you’re a joy to be around and always seem to lighten the mood. Anddd you danced this weekend, you know Kellis is having a good time when she actually busts out a move. Lauren: Wouldn’t have wanted to spend 6 days with anyone else but you! So glad I could house you here, you’re WILD. End of story, and your spontaneity allowed you toΒ  hit it off with Danny Devito πŸ˜‰ jealous. Ashmac: I could totally quote you on a few things here, but I’ll keep it private to protect your classyness – damn hangovers will get you hah. Please move to this city, so I have a little bit of EL with me. Amanda: I love you, I could end it right there… you throw out some amazing one-liners from God knows where and you definitely added the Zing to our weekend. We definitely defined Jack-O-Lanterns on Friday night πŸ˜‰ Can’t wait to see how our video with Wayne comes together. If it’s not to raunchy maybe it’ll have a special place on my blog πŸ™‚ Lynsey: to my bestie in Chicago, what would I do without you? Literally. (I can’t imagine my life without McFaddens). I’m so glad to have rekindled an amazing friendship with a beautiful, bright and loving person. I miss you girls already, and if it was my choice we’d all be living under the same roof. It’s sad to think I’ll never live with 11 people again, but yet it’s nice to know I’ll always have amazing visitors to look forward to πŸ˜‰

Our planned trip to the Cubs game turned into more of a bar crawl.

Take Me Back.

Numerous memories that we all walked away with this weekend, wish we could rewind and do it all again, in precisely the exact same way πŸ˜‰

We finally met a Kevin, and we even met a Wayne. We danced until our feet were blistered and sore. Swamp ass was brought up far too much (especially in the Jersey accent). Future plans for our Advertising agency were discussed. Mr Saxobeat was never overplayed. Slumber parties were at their finest here, especially considering that each one of us had a “cuddle buddy” ha. I think everyone experienced my case of crazy legs – Kate you know you like them, and you miss spooning with me, don’t you lie. Authentic Mexican Food may or may not have been the worst decision Sunday, besides the lovin’ we threw on Taylor Lautner. 48 videos taken on the flip-cam already has me nervous to see the published results from Mandy…

By far the weekend’s theme song – Mr. Saxobeat.

Winnie The Pooh

I’ve been seeing the Winnie the Pooh trailer for the past few months and couldn’t wait to go see it in theaters when it finally came out. I think the song (Somewhere Only We Know by Keane) they chose to go with it does adds even more sentimental value to Pooh than there already is.

There’s something about the little bear and his friends that takes me right back to my childhood. My mom even teared up while watching the trailer, and said the same thing, it takes her back to when I was just a little girl. I went to go see this with a couple girlfriends while I was back home for the weekend, and adored it, although I wish it would have been longer than just an hour 😦 And I’m not sure if it’s just me or what, but I never remember Winnie the Pooh being a show I laughed at, but I can promise you us 6 girls laughed at nearly every line in this movie. Especially the words that come out of Pooh’s mouth, so much personality and character that comes from the tubby little bear. Loved it! And might I add, I think some of the best quotes come from Winnie the Pooh.

My Best Friend is a Survivor

Just a quick post but for those of you who don’t know today was National Cancer Survivors’ Day, and I had an amazing opportunity to take part in the 18th Annual Cancer Survivors’ Celebration and Walk here in Chicago, with my best friend and survivor, Mandolynn and her family. It turned out to be a beautiful morning, the rain subsided and the sun quickly shined down on all the beautiful survivors that were out there today. We sported some adorable custom made shirts and walked the 4 miles as a team, and more importantly as a family! πŸ™‚

A Very Small Part of Mandolynn’s Support Group

At the end of the walk, an extremely inspirational woman stepped up to give a brief speech on her battle with cancer. It didn’t take long before she had myself as well as 4,000 others in tears just hearing about her struggles and the frustration she had endured over the past 8 months. Jenna Benn, a 29 year old amazing survivor of a rare Grey Zone Lymphoma cancer gained numerous followers with a blog Kill It In the Butt taking her family, friends and other survivors through her journey with cancer. In the end she quoted her path as “Twisting to Fight Cancer.” So today the one thing she asked of us was to join her on the dance floor and Do the Twist. It was literally the most touching 5 minutes of the day, standing in a field surrounded by some of the strongest people in the world, all cancer survivors ranging in ages from 2 to 80 – dancing and twisting with happiness. I myself was dancing in pure joy that my best friend was now 100% happy, healthy and cured.

Aunt Minny and Rylee

After the dance ended, survivors gathered to take one large group picture, and following that moment is when the family members really expressed their love. Watching mothers embrace their children and spouses holding on to one another the way that they did – just thankful that they came out strong and healthy – was another tipping point for me where I couldn’t even begin to try and hold back some tears. Today was truly a beautiful day, and in many more ways than one.

I love you Mandolynn, you are beautiful, amazing, inspirational, strong and the best big sister I could ever ask for!

Two More Worthy Causes…

(Read prior post titled: “Blessed” for this one to make more sense) I just recently came across two more foundations/organizations that I’m passionate about and that really hit home for me in which I would like to donate to. First one is something my mom actually informed me of. This will be her second year riding in the Wish-A-Mile 300 Bicycle Tour taking place at the end of July (visit the website to see more about the history of this specific WAM ride. It’s a three day trek across Michigan where my mom along with the rest of her team will ride 300 miles to grant wishes for the Make A Wish Foundation. All riders must raise a minimum of $900 to compete in the ride, while my mom’s own personal goal is to hit $2,300. In the words of my mother, “I am hoping you will help me – by giving up a few lunches out this week, a few lattes or a new pair of shoes just to help a family in need – so that this wish of their deserving son or daughter’s may be granted.” I know this is something extremely important to her and because of that I find it a wonderful organization to donate to!

My mom’s little hero from last year, said Christopher was truly an inspiration to her.

Secondly, this coming Sunday morning I’ll be walking beside my best friend, Mandolynn Ostertag at the 18th Annual Cancer Survivors’ Celebration & Walk along Chicago’s beautiful Lakefront. The four-mile walk is said to draw nearly 4,000 participants who will come together to support and donate to a research fund conducted by the actual doctors who saved my best friend’s life. It’s for obvious reasons alone why this donation will be one of the most important ones I can make. I remember it like it was just yesterday, she was texting me while I was on a late serving shift at Bdubs. I knew she had been in and out of doctors for the past 6 months with “mono-like symptoms,” but still had no clear diagnosis. After recently undergoing surgery to remove a swollen lymph node in her neck, I knew the news had the potential to be devastating, but attempted to remain positive. I called her as soon as I was out and that was when she told me that they had found cancer in her lymph gland after the surgery at Northwestern here in Chicago. So that’s when it all started – February 9, 2010 Mandolynn was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. At that point I don’t think either one of us knew exactly what the next few months were going to have in store. I remember her dreading the thought of going through chemo, the thought of losing her hair at 23 is not something any girl in their 20’s should ever have to think about. It was so unfortunate during this hard time in her life I happened to be on my way out to LA for an internship for the summer. So although the summer flew by for me – it seemed to be the exact opposite for Mandolynn and her family back home. By the time I arrived home in August, she had finished her 6th month of chemo and was considered to be in remission shortly after. At the time she chose not to know what stage of cancer she had when they did the initial scans, but come to find out she was actually in Stage 4 (cancerous cells in her lymph nodes, spleen, lungs and bones) with no signs of any symptoms, which is why it took nearly a year to diagnose her with the Hodgkins Lymphoma. Considering there is no Stage 5 with this type of cancer, knowing she fought back from Stage 4 only goes to show the true strength and positive thoughts she had going through the process. I commend this girl immensely, she is one of the strongest woman I know. Not only did she get herself through this “icky” 6 months, but she was the sisterly strength and support that I’ve needed for the past 8 years since I’ve lost my dad. She’s been by my side through thick and thin and because of that I know she’ll continue to be there for me as will I whenever one of us is in need. Love you forever and always Mandolynn! Looking forward to seeing you this weekend! πŸ™‚

Down visiting Northwestern for a check-up. Learning to rock the new dark brown, krimpin’, short hair πŸ˜‰ You do it well!

Mandolynn visits me at MSU for the first time – why did it take us so long to organize that trip?

Living with a Pastry Chef

I’ve made it two weeks without gaining any weight. I’d say that’s an accomplishment, especially after all my friends from back home continually asked me if I knew what I was getting myself into moving in with Erica – an exceptional baker of the tastiest treats you will ever eat. Since we’ve been here she’s baked 8 different desserts – all of which are absolutely incredible. I honestly think the only way that I’m able to refrain from gaining weight is because of the fact that I’m not a big dessert lover :/ Erica is in disbelief every time she hands me a freshly baked cookie and I’m only able to eat half of it. Same goes with her raspberry lemonade bars, which were unreal don’t get me wrong, but it literally took me two days on four different occasions to actually finish the 3″x 3″ bar. If anything I’m usually the one who gives the dough a taste and lick the bowl clean – for some reason I like cookies prior to when they’re cooked, much better that way. For those of you that are interested make sure to check out her own baking blog: Little Shortcake. Figured I’d post a few pictures of the desserts from her blog so you can get a taste for yourself of what I’ve been staring at in my fridge for the past two weeks.

Reese’s PB Brownie Cupcakes: Erica had these waiting for me upon my arrival in Chicago πŸ™‚

Strawberry Lemonade Bars: best taste of summer you’ll ever experience

Banana Pupcakes were the perfect snack for Erica and I and even little Linus too!

Brownie Chunk Chocolate Chip Cookies taste best after 10 seconds in the microwave. oh my god.

Margarita Popsicles: much more easier and tastier way to get a little taste of tequila

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bread: Erica ate this loaf on her own πŸ˜‰ (I’m not a huge fan of chocolate… crazy I know)

Cubcakes: most amazing vanilla filled cupcake you will ever taste – perfect for our Cubby pride πŸ™‚

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies: possibly the best cookie dough I’ve ever tasted πŸ˜‰

Last but not least, the one thing I’ve helped contribute to! Our “Garden Cake” full of sunflowers, butterflies, roses and a watermelon patch. Like I said if any of these look appealing to you, which I’m sure they all do, you can grab the recipes from Erica’s adorable blog Little Shortcake!