Fall in a Nutshell

It’s time to play a little game called “Long Overdue MEGA POST.”  Who’s ready?

Here are the top ten highlights of the fall thus far (in somewhat order of occurrence):

10. Katie and Bryan’s Wedding


Towards the end of September, Patrick and I flew to Yorktown, PA to see Katie, aka my college roomie x3 (Lewis Hall, London Flat 25, & Breen-Phillips Hall), get married.  The wedding was stunning and so was the bride.


Katie and MonicaPhoto courtesy of Kristy

The best part of the weekend?  Getting to see so many of my Notre Dame friends – the likes of which I had not seen all under one roof since my wedding in ’09.


The second best part?  The candy buffet.


9.  Notre Dame Football

One big advantage of living in Chicago is that South Bend is only a mere 2 hour drive away, allowing easy access to Notre Dame football games 🙂  This year I was able to cheer on the Irish in person on two separate occasions, first at the ND vs Oklahoma game with Patrick, Bill, and Sue.


We hit up all the essential spots on campus, like the Basilica where Patrick and I got married.


Inside the stadium, Patrick and I had a perfect view of Touchdown Jesus (whose spirit was decidedly absent towards the end of the game).


And just last weekend I made a second return to campus for the ND vs Navy game, this time accompanied by Susan, Katie and Joung visiting from KC and DC, respectively (photos courtesy of Susan’s blog):

nd game


We had spectacular seats, and unlike the ND vs Oklahoma game, this one resulted in a victory (though a little too close for comfort).


For more details on the game, I recommend checking out Susan’s latest blog post.

8.  Meeting Molly Moo


During the first weekend of October, we made a quick weekend trip to Kansas City to meet our adorable new niece, Molly, for the first time and attend her Baptism.




This may spark memories of when a certain big sister/goddaughter, Claire Bear, was baptized just a couple years ago.


Much like her big sister, Molly handled it like a pro, pretty much sleeping throughout the whole ordeal.  She must get her sleeping skills from her Aunt Monica 🙂


You can read more about Molly’s special day on Susan’s post and Aunt Jenn’s post.

7.  Apple Picking


I went apple picking for the first time this fall and apparently enjoyed it as I decided to go two weekends in a row 🙂


First I headed to All Seasons Orchard in Woodstock, IL with Kelli, where highlights included apple cider doughnuts, the petting zoo, the corn maze, and plenty of apple and pear picking.

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For my second apple picking expedition, I went with Patrick and some of our KWESTie Besties – Ann, Aaron, Scotty and Lindsay- to County Line Orchard in Hobart, IN where they have a huge Blackhawks shaped corn maze that we dominated (err, they dominated it and I pretty much just followed along as they lead the way).


This place was gigantic and we may have made several trips for hot apple cider and pumpkin donuts.


With such an overwhelming number of apples taking up counter space in my kitchen, I was able to clear some space by making an apple crostata and this apple butter recipe, both of which are super simple yet delicious.  And somehow I still have apples left sitting around my house…


6. Goodbye Garden

It’s the circle of life.  After spending an amazing summer witnessing the miracle of life…


… it was time to accept the inevitable:



It took two visits, but we finally cleared everything out of our garden and left it looking much like how we found it – empty and bare.

Our community garden this summer was definitely a rewarding (though time-consuming) experience.  I think next time I will wait until I have my own yard to tackle another garden.  I did attempt to grow herbs in my apartment from some of our cuttings…

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…but sadly with the cold air and total lack of sun, I think these babies are doomed.  Back to buying herbs at the grocery store.  It was fun while it lasted!

5. Monday Late Date Night

This fall Patrick managed to return home for four weekends in order to attend a Monday night class in the city.  We decided to take advantage of this situation and knock some restaurants in the city off our bucket list, establishing a new Monday Late Date Night tradition.

Around 9pm I drove into the city to pick him up from class and from there we headed to a late dinner.  Though sleepy on my part and often jet-lagged on his, it was a convenient time to go since a lot of popular restaurants that would normally require a reservation during the weekends had no wait at all.

The restaurants we hit up were:

GT Fish & Oyster
Little Goat Diner
Longman & Eagle (double date with our friends Shindo & Haruka)

All of these places were amazing, but I’m still dreaming about the kimchi po’ boy sliders from GT Fish & Oyster…


Next year when Patrick returns for good, we plan to reinstate some version of this tradition (maybe a little earlier in the night, however).

4. Josh Groban

A few weeks ago, I dragged accompanied Patrick to our second Josh Groban concert.  It’s been a little over a year since we last saw him at Disney Concert Hall for my 28th birthday.

Though I liked the set list at the last concert a little more, he sounded just as amazing this time around and our seats were a lot better than I expected:

Can’t wait for his next concert 🙂  Still waiting to hear him sing Per Te live (pretty sure this is never going to happen..)

3. Art Institute of Chicago

You know how I love hometown tourism.. Yesterday, thanks to Kelli, I finally visited the Art Institute of Chicago.  Our visit was short, but sweet since we also had some shopping on our agenda.

My favorite exhibit by far was the Thorne Miniature collection, which are elaborate miniatures modeled after European (and American) interior designs from the 13th century to the 1930s.  Hard to believe these aren’t full scale.

miniature french boudoirSource

In addition, I loved seeing some pop culture favorites, like the American Gothic painting:


The subjects are so convincing in this portrait that I am always amused by the fact that the models were the painter’s sister and his dentist.

We also spent some time in the Modern Art Wing, the newest section of the museum.  Modern Art is fascinating to me because it really challenges what we define as “art.”  One display was just an empty room with scrap metal and wool pads strewn across the floor.

What I love about Modern Art is discovering the complex, often unsettling stories that emerge behind what we view as such simple, everyday things.  On the surface, this is literally just a pile of candy in a corner, which visitors were invited to take a piece from:


Totally bizarre and random until you realize the artist’s interpretation:


Makes one think…

2. NaNoWriMo

Last month I surprised myself and signed up for NaNoWriMo – a national writing project that occurs every November in which various people take on the challenge of writing a novel (50,000 words) in one month.  Lately it seems to be somewhat of a flailing, vain attempt on my part, but so far I’ve managed to keep my head just barely above the water with my word count goals and I still have every intention of seeing it through to the other side of November.  We’ll see what happens 🙂


1. Insanity

Not sure if this even warrants mentioning, BUT… next January I am planning to join the Insanity and try out Shaun T.’s Insanity Workout Program.  I know there is a big debate over this program vs. P90X, but I’ve chosen this one simply so I don’t have to invest in all the equipment required of P90X.

That said, I’ve been trying to up my workout regiment so I don’t force myself to go from working out a mere 6 times a month to 6 times a week (that could be an interesting transition).

So far it’s been hit or miss depending on how busy I am, but I’ve reverted to my inner 3rd grade self and started rewarding myself with stickers every time I complete a workout 30 minutes or longer.  I’ve been alternating between Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred and Boost Metabolism, with a few random XFinity workouts thrown in (more challenging than one would think).

If you are like me and still harbor a childlike affection for applying stickers to things, then I recommend using this method to keep track of your workouts.  Ultimately, when all is said and done, it’s also nice getting a birds-eye view of my progress:


This month is certainly challenging with NaNoWriMo taking up most of my time, but come January I’m hoping for the page to be filled with smileys.  Also, perhaps next year I should choose a different calendar for recording my progress.  Mmm, pork tots…


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One thought on “Fall in a Nutshell

  1. Susan says:

    Excellent mega-post! Thanks for the football and Molly Moo shout-outs. 🙂 I’m so glad I got to see you twice this fall – yay! Beautiful sunflower pic, too.

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