Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Weekend Recap: San Diego Bachelorette Party

This past weekend, I travelled to San Diego to celebrate one of my oldest friend's bachelorette party. I met Caitlin when I was eight years old in our grade 3 class. I had just moved from Toronto to Southern California and she quickly became my closest friend. We had sleepovers, our own fake family with intense storylines (we had a wild imagination), and danced in the same jazz class. Fast forward seventeen years and she's getting ready to marry the love of her life. 

To celebrate her bachelorette party, twelve of us headed to San Diego for a fun weekend. We rented a beach house, enjoyed the sunshine, and stayed up way too late. What exactly did we do? Check it out below.

The Decorations:
The maid-of-honor (one of our other childhood best friends) went all out with the decorations! There was a photo wall with LOVE balloons, a Rally for Talley sign, giant engagement ring balloons, and hashtag signs. It was a bachelorette party after all, so there were some naughty decorations, too. We had penis confetti, straws, whistles, and balloons. We also had personalized glasses waiting for us when we arrived.

Friday Evening:
We got dressed up and went to Bang Bang, a sushi restaurant in the Gaslamp Quarter. The atmosphere was so cool! They had giant lanterns hanging from the ceiling, punch bowls, and a Ryan Gosling decorated bathroom stall. From there we went to The Shout House, a dueling piano bar that pulled Caitlin up on stage to celebrate.

When we woke up, we had a beautiful brunch complete with a mimosa bar. Once we were finished eating, we headed to Green Flash, a local brewing company. I'm not a beer person at all, but I ordered their Passion Fruit Kicker and loved it! When we returned to the house, we headed down to the beach and watched the sunset while we ate cheese and crackers with tasty drinks. For dinner, we ordered in Mexican food from. Before going out to downtown Pacific Beach, played Bridal Jeopardy, had jello shots and played Shot Roulette (I, sadly, was stuck with one of the tequila shots). We went downtown to PB Shore Club where we stayed until 1:30. Before heading to bed, we blasted old 90s music and sang and danced around the kitchen. Can't wait to see those on the GoPro! ;)

Sunday was spent cleaning up the beach house and driving back to Orange County. I then spent the evening with Shannon (the final member of our childhood foursome) and her family before flying back to Chicago.

I had so much fun spending the weekend with my girlfriends celebrating one of my best friends. Cannot wait for her wedding in July!!!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The True Meaning of Easter

This weekend, I spent time reflecting on Easter through three key verses: Isaiah 53:5, Matthew 28:6a, and Romans 8:11. One of the items on my April To Do List is to remember the true meaning of Easter. I wanted a tangible way to do this, so I chose to study and reflect on the Word. To me, these verses represent the power of Easter and what it symbolizes for us as believers.

Isaiah 53:5 "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed."

My Reflection: This verse documents what Christ did for us and what it cost him. He was beaten and persecuted for the sins that we committed. He was utterly perfect, but in those moments before his death, he felt the complete imperfect reality of man. The last part of this verse is what really stands out to me - "By his wounds we are healed." I can't fathom that kind of love. He was willing to bleed, hurt, and ultimately die so that we could be healed. That's true, selfless, overwhelming love.

Matthew 28:6a "He is not here; he has risen, just as he said."

My Reflection: Matthew 28:6 celebrates the true reason for Easter - He has risen. This is what God-power is. Jesus was beaten and hung from a cross, yet He came back whole to fulfill his promise. By rising, God showed the power and healing of His Spirit. In Matthew 17:23 and Luke 9:22, Jesus predicts his resurrection. This was the final act in saving the world. By rising on the third day, He has saved us. How incredible is the Spirit!?

Romans 8:11 "And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you."

My Reflection: This verse explains what the resurrection means for us. The Spirit that was so strong it rose Jesus from the dead has been given to us. As believers, we are granted the Holy Spirit. It's a strong force that, through faith, lives in us. If the Spirit was so strong it resurrected Christ, imagine what it can do for us in this new life!


By reflecting on these verses, I was able to remember why I celebrate Easter. Although the Easter egg hunt and visit from the "Easter Bunny" is something I love doing with my family, it's not why I celebrate. I celebrate because God sent his only Son to live out a perfect life here on Earth, only to die for the Earth that persecuted Him. The love that God and the Son has for you and me is seen on the cross. Through the resurrection, we are forever saved.

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend, and that you, too, spent time thanking the Lord for His sacrifice.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Gift Guide: Easter Basket

Confession: the Easter Bunny still comes to my house. My parents go all out when it comes to Easter. They hide chocolate eggs all around a room in our house and send us on a scavenger hunt. The first thing we do is hunt for all of the eggs - there's always one that my mom finds a couple of days later that we missed. Next, the hunt begins. My parents wrap gifts for both my sister and I, but in different colors. If we find the other person's color, we just pretend we didn't. And of course, there's also a basket to find. I love that even thought I'm 25 and my sister's 23, we still do this. It's so fun and I look forward to it every year!

In honor of our family tradition, I'm sharing how to make your very own Easter basket.

What You'll Need:
Cute Easter basket
Easter-inspired notepad
Puzzle book
Fun pens
Arts and crafts item
Easter-inspired washi tape
Glittery eggs (learn how here)
Cute bag
Chocolate eggs

Best of all - the whole basket cost less than $15! If you shop the dollar section at Target and hit up the Dollar Tree, it's so easy to find cute goodies!

What are some of your favorite Easter traditions?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Recipe: Havarti + Apple Grilled Cheese

Happy National Grilled Cheese Day! Inspired by this wonderful holiday, I'm sharing one of my favorite recipes: Havarti and Apple Grilled Cheese. I'm a very picky eater, so this isn't something I'd usually eat, but I love it. My sister used to make it for me all the time back in college and now I love making it as a quick and easy dinner. Enjoy this refreshing take on grilled cheese!

What You'll Need:
Sourdough bread.
Granny Smith apple.
Havarti cheese.

How to Make It:
1. Spread small amount of butter on outside of sourdough pieces.
2. Place havarti cheese on one slice of bread.
3. Slice apples really thin - this works really well with a mandolin (that's what my sister uses). I don't know how to use a mandolin, so I just used a knife.
4. Place apple slices on cheese.
5. Drizzle honey on top of apple slices.
6. Place bread on top.
7. Place sandwich in pan and grill until golden brown.

What are some of your favorite takes on grilled cheese?