Bachelorette Party Reflections

Sometimes the fresh ingredients make the salad.

So Fresh and So Clean, Clean

Sometimes it’s the dressing that makes all the difference in the world.

Kraft Light Asian Toasted Sesame

Today’s salad was fresh and tasty, and while the veggies were perfectly crisp, the dressing stole the show.

Ryan and I both adore Kraft Asian Toasted Sesame salad dressing and have to turn a blind eye to the inclusion of high fructose corn syrup in the ingredient list because it really is that good.

My salad today included:

The Goods

All Together

I often find that when I eat salads, I enjoy certain bites more than others. Typically the bites with the good stuff like feta cheese or somethin’ with a little extra flavor reign supreme.

Well, the good thing about using this salad dressing on my salad today is that I enjoyed every bite equally because this dressing is so dang good. My friend Caitlin brought this dressing to a girls’ night potluck dinner a couple of years ago and I’ve been a sucker for it ever since.

Bachelorette Party Reflections

Now that both of my amazing bachelorette parties are behind me, I wanted to type up a little post about my post-party thoughts.

I felt so, so loved and blessed during both wonderful parties and have received some emails from readers asking me to detail what I loved the most, as it seems many of you guys are planning parties of your own!

While I absolutely loved everything my friends did for me, here are some of the stand-outs that I think would make nearly any bride-to-be happy:

  • Planning: I was absolutely floored by all the planning and preparation my friends put into both of my bachelorette parties. They all took the time to plan out the weekends’ activities so we were never left awkwardly wondering, “Okay, what now?”

Ready to Hit the Town!

  • Decorations: I didn’t anticipate any decorations, but arriving at a party completely decorated in bachelorette party-wear made me feel special and like my friends were genuinely excited to celebrate my upcoming wedding. I also appreciated how my friends stuck to a pink theme rather than a phallic theme. 🙂

Pretty Glasses

Gorgeous Table Spread

Decorations!

  • Homemade Touch: Both groups of friends put a lot of time into creating crafty goodies for the festivities. I received homemade itineraries, a scrapbook, cards, decorated drink glasses, pins, customized tank tops and more. The time and effort my friends put into making these things themselves meant the world.

Homemade Scrapbook

  • Get Into It: I felt like every single one of my friends really wanted to party it up and have a great time. Everyone was all about sportin’ fun accessories like jumbo-sized rings, pins declaring that they were bridesmaids, etc. Their energy was contagious and we had a great time wherever we went.

Woop, Woop!

My Girl Likes to Party All the Time!

Dance Party

Let's Get Crazy!!!

  • Thoughtfulness: The thoughtfulness of my friends was truly astounding. They planned activities, meals and nights out that they knew I would enjoy. We went to bars rather than clubs, ate sushi and homemade meals prepared by their families and played games to get the party started… all things I absolutely love.

Sushi Night

  • Unique Games: Though games might not be fore everyone, I had the best time playing bachelorette-themed games. The Q&A/Jello shot game was so entertaining and the paper ring dare game was a riot!

Of course none of these things are necessary for a wonderful bachelorette party, but I must say that I felt like I had two of the best bachelorette parties in the entire world thanks to the time, effort and love of my friends.

They made me feel so special and I cannot thank them enough for two of the best weekends of my life!

Question of the Afternoon

  • What is one thing you think is an important component of a good bachelorette party?

Ridin’ in Style

Things definitely got a little crazy last night in the Windy City!

After sufficiently stuffing our bellies during the progressive dinner that had us eating from 1 to 7 p.m., we drove to my friend Kristen’s apartment in downtown Chicago to kick off the nighttime activities.

We walked into an apartment that was fully decked out in bachelorette party decor.

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My sister made decorative wine glasses and pins for everyone which looked adorable!

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After poppin’ open a couple of bottles of champagne, we started the lingerie party and I opened frilly lil’ numbers from all of my friends.

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Then it was time for games!

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Before leaving for Chicago, my sister asked Ryan a series of questions and I had to guess his answers!

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For every one I got wrong, I had to take a Jello shot. For every one I got right, I had to give out a Jello shot to the person of my choice.

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At first I avoided the yellow Jello shots, thinking they were lemon. When I learned that they were pineapple… well, that was a whole ‘nother story! 😀

I actually did pretty well guessing Ryan’s answers, but was stumped a few times as well.

It was such a fun game!

After enjoying a few more drinks and gettin’ a little silly, it was time to hit the town!

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Little did I know that our transportation to the downtown bars would be so swanky…

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My mom and sister made arrangements for our group to ride around in a limo for the night! Safety in style. 😉

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We made stops at two different bars, the first of which was filled with people who were bustin’ moves on the dance floor. We weren’t about to let a good opportunity for some dancin’ pass us by…

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Our next stop took us to a bar called John Barleycorn.

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Apparently I attack my friends to show them how much I love them. 😉

At John Barleycorn, more dancing ensued, though I’m pretty sure this particular bar wasn’t really a dancin’ kinda bar. Well, it was a dancin’ kina place last night fo sho!

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My camera’s battery died about halfway through our time at John Barleycorn, so the rest of the evening went undocumented and failed to capture our late night pig out on big pieces of pizza, including a pizza topped with macaroni and cheese!

We got to bed around 4:30 a.m. with bellies full of pizza and leftover cupcakes from the progressive dinner.

This morning we woke up and hung out at my friend Leah’s apartment for a bit before my sister and I had to head to the airport to catch our flight back to Orlando.

It was sad to leave all my girlfriends behind, but I’m so excited to see them in two months for the big day. (Michaela, Carrie, Leah, Kristen and Leslie, thank you all for making this weekend unbelievable. I felt so loved and grateful for such a great group of girlfriends. Love you all!)

Our flight to Orlando was quite turbulent, but that didn’t stop both of us from sleeping for the majority of our time in the air. We were pretty exhausted!

Once back on the ground, Ryan picked us up and took us back to our apartment where the three of us enjoyed made homemade pizza, using the 15-minute pizza crust recipe we love.

Now we’re relaxin’ on the couch before hopefully getting into bed a little early. I don’t want to fall asleep at my desk at work tomorrow!

G’night all. 😀

Scavenger Hunt + Progressive Dinner

What a whirlwind of a weekend!

I cannot believe how fast this weekend flew by, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because time with my best friends from grade school always seems to pass too quickly.

Let’s take it back to the beginning of the bachelorette party weekend festivities, shall we?

Scavenger Hunt

Saturday morning started with a quick breakfast of Honey Nut Cheerios with milk and a sliced nectarine (x3… I can put down amazing amounts of cereal).

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Post breakfast, my friends surprised me with a wonderful scrapbook that doubled as a clue book for a scavenger hunt around my childhood hometown of Palatine.

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The clues were absolutely adorable and the pictures in the scrapbook were really entertaining and highly humiliating, as many were from our awkward years in junior high and high school. I laughed a lot as I flipped through the book that was filled with amazing memories.

Each clue took our group to a different location, including my best friends’ houses, Birchwood Pool where I worked as a lifeguard during the summers, and our elementary, junior high and high schools.

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My house growing up:

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The basketball hoop that my dad made:

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Outside Birchwood Pool:

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At our elementary school:

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Outside our high school:

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These girls made my childhood and high school years wonderful.

We called ourselves “The Mighty Five” and have seen each other through many ups and downs, heartbreaks and successes, and though we went to different colleges, we remained close and connected. There’s something so wonderfully comfortable and amazing about friends who know absolutely everything about you and your family. I’m so happy these girls will be standing up with me on the day Ryan and I exchange vows. 😀

Progressive Dinner

After driving all around Palatine, my girlfriends and I headed back to my friend Kristen’s house for the first stop of a progressive dinner that took us to all of my friends’ houses.

Kristen and her dad prepared a delicious spread of appetizers including crab dip, tortilla chips and queso, grapes, cheese, Pringles and mini Twix bars. 

(We missed you, Mrs. Bauer!)

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While chatting it up and munching on the goodies, we sipped on wine and relaxed a bit.

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Check out this amazingly cute painted bachelorette party-themed wine glass I received to enjoy my wine!

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We tried our best to pace ourselves so we had room to enjoy the selection of salads at our next stop on our progressive dinner at my friend Michaela’s house.

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The chopped salad featured in the picture above was fantastic. It was filled with veggies, pasta, bacon and cheese. So tasty!

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I loved chatting with Michaela’s family and absolutely fell in love with their new puppy, a goldendoodle named Riley.

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How cute is she? She looked like a little stuffed Build-a-Bear and was so cuddly.

Once we were done eating our salads and catching up with Michaela’s family, we headed to my friend Leah’s house for one of my all-time favorite dinners I used to enjoy at their house in Palatine when we were growing up…

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Portillo’s Italian beef sandwiches! These things are unreal. Chicago-style Italian beef is where it’s at!

Leah’s parents also served us pasta and chicken Parmesan which I enjoyed as well.

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As a special treat, Leah’s mom made me a fresh batch of her homemade granola which I dug into immediately!

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This stuff is fantastic. I ate several handfuls on the spot and foresee it disappearing all too fast.

After hugging Leah’s family goodbye, we were off to our final destination of the progressive dinner, my friend Carrie’s house for dessert!

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Aren’t these cupcakes gorgeous?

Please note that the bottom row of cupcakes are red velvet. Any guesses which flavor I chose?

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Carrie’s mom also made all of us special drinks garnished with cherries that made us feel oh-so-fancy!

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All of the indulgent and unbelievably delicious food and drinks put me in a bit of a food coma! Luckily I was able to sit back and digest a bit during our drive into downtown Chicago where we kicked off our nighttime shenanigans.

Stay tuned for pictures and a post on our lingerie and cocktail party and bar-hopping adventures in a bit!

Ryan’s Guest Post

I couldn’t sign off this post without mentioning Ryan’s wonderful guest post on my blog that he secretly posted without me knowing yesterday. I must admit when I talked to him and he told me he published a surprise post on my blog, I got a little nervous! What on earth was he going to say!?

When he told me he did a mock question and answer post, I just about died laughing. I give him all the credit in the world for creating such an entertaining and thoughtful post and wanted to thank those of you who commented and made his day with your positive remarks. Thank you! 😀

Back to Childhood

One thing that’s great about being an early riser and waking up before everyone else?

Ample time to blog! 😀

I am blogging from the comfy couch of one of my very best friends from elementary school. How surreal!

And We’re Off!

After work yesterday, my sister drove to Orlando to meet up with me and head to the airport to fly to Chicago for the weekend for Part Two of my bacherlorette party!

We said a sad goodbye to Ryan and Sadie before heading to our gate. We were able to sit next to each other (in the second-to-last row on the plane) and spend the entire flight gabbing away and entertaining ourselves with random activities.

First, we attempted to make origami chairs by following instructions we found in the Southwest Airlines magazines.

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No such luck. We even got the guy sitting next to us and a girl across the aisle into it, but none of us could figure it out. It’s harder than it looks, trust me!

We didn’t let that get us down though and took our paper-folding talents onto a task we knew we could accomplish.

Remember these?

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We used to make these little “fortune tellers” all the time in grade school!

Apparently flying to our childhood home of Chicago makes us want to relive our childhood!

Palatine

Once we arrived in the Windy City, my wonderful friend Leah picked us up at the airport and drove us to my friend Kristen’s house in Palatine, a northwest suburb of Chicago where we all grew up.

We were greeted by yummy food, drinks and an adorable bachelorette party weekend itinerary!

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As you can see, we have a busy and fun weekend ahead of us!

A scavenger hunt + a progressive dinner + a night out in Chicago! Woop, woop!

After two of my other best friends, Carrie and Michaela, joined us at Kristen’s house, we spent the night catching up, reminiscing, talking and laughing about the bazillions of crazy memories we have together. I’ve been friends with all of these girls since elementary school, so just being in their presence makes me so unbelievably happy.

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Kristen’s dad made all of us the most delicious mud slides to drink which tasted like alcoholic milkshakes and were delicious! Along with mah drink, I enjoyed lots of snacks, including multiple chocolate chip cookies and excessive amounts of Pringles.

It really did feel like childhood again! 😀

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Now I think I hear some people stirring! I’m off to get ready for a fun day of exploring my childhood hometown, eating and drinking lots of food and partying it up with some of my favorite people in the entire world!

Catcha later!

(Side note: Ryan called me this morning saying he felt like quite the celebrity when he was walking Sadie this morning and one of you amazing  readers ran by him saying “I know you! I read your girlfriend’s blog!” I love you guys. Thanks for making Ryan feel awfully special. 😉 )

Puppy Chow Ruins Appetites

I wasn’t actually hungry around lunchtime due to the Foodie Friday goodie that one of my coworkers brought into the office today…

Puppy chow!!!

Puppy Chow

This stuff is unbelievably addicting. I probably ate a whole solo cup (aka the token beer cups from college) full of it throughout the morning.

Even though my tummy wasn’t grumbling for lunch, I still ate what I packed because I figured my body needed some nutrients after ingesting all the sugar, chocolate and peanut butter from the puppy chow.

I made myself a salad topped with homemade tuna salad that contained tuna, light Miracle whip, mustard, celery and sweet relish.

Deconstructed Tuna Salad

The tuna salad topped a bed of baby greens, served with red pepper slices.

Tuna Salad Topped Salad

Lunch

A lil’ more nutritious than puppy chow, no? 😉

Bachelorette Party Round Two!

Some of you may remember a while back I mentioned that I was going to have a two-part bachelorette party.

My first bachelorette party weekend occurred at the beginning of the month.

I had a great time with my friends from college in Chicago singing and dancing at a dueling piano bar, attending a drag show and running a half marathon in matching pink tank tops. It was a crazy and super-fun time!

Bachelorette Party: Take One!

Tonight I’m heading back to Chicago for Round Two of bachelorette fun… This time with my high school gang and my sister!

Once again, I am completely in the dark with what the weekend will entail, but I know that as long as I’m with my best friends and sister it’ll be a blast!

See ya from the Windy City!