Such Sweet Sorrow

My beloved Grandpa Hubert died this week and I’m devastated. The last few days have been filled with tears, memories, and grief, knowing that I’ll live the rest of my life without him. There are a handful of people that have known me my entire life, and I think any time you lose one of them, it hurts that much more. It’s crushing. I want to write this post as a tribute to him but also as catharsis for my broken heart, even if no one reads it but me.

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Grandpa Hubert was 97 years old when he died early Thursday morning and was set to turn 98 on January 5. Through my tears I keep sobbing to Adam, “He’s just like Joan. He wasn’t done yet.” Of course referring to the late great Joan Rivers (being compared to Joan in our household is quite the honor). Except for the last few months, he’s been in great health most of his life. I attribute his resiliency to having been born during the height of the Spanish Influenza Outbreak. During 1918 and 1919, one third of the entire earth’s population was infected with the disease in what has now been called The Mother of all Pandemics. One article I found said “woe to them that are with child” during the outbreak because of how catastrophic the disease was for pregnant women and their babies.But Grandpa Hubert and his mom were strong and spared during this terrible time in history. And Grandpa went on to live a long, prosperous life. (Picture below – Grandpa with his parents and siblings. He’s the one of the far right who looks exactly like my dad.)

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My Grandpa was a living history book. Not only because he was alive during critical moments in history, but because he could actually remember everything that he experienced! He was a child during the Great Depression. He could tell you how much he weighed and how tall he was in each grade. He knew exactly how much he spent on his wedding (the cost of my grandmother’s wedding dress, the cost of the pastor, the cost of the tickets for the movie they saw on their honeymoon and the chili dinner they ate that night). He was the first married man in his small Indiana town drafted for World War II. He knew his bunk # on the ship he was on when he crossed the Atlantic for the war. The fact that he could remember everything is what made him so special! He remembered his whole life and every time you talked with him, he had new details to share. Some people are bored talking to their grandparents, but this was never the case with him! And this is one of the biggest reasons why he leaves a hole in the hearts of those that love him. He was our gateway to the past and he grounded our family in history and tradition. (Picture below – my grandparents. These are my favorite pictures of them. So happy and in love. I also love the pictures because my grandpa looks exactly like my brothers and my sister and I look very similar to my grandma!)

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Grandpa Hubert had one of most unique and defined personalities of anyone I’ve ever met. For those that didn’t know him, here are a few things that may help you understand what I mean.

  1. He would set the table for breakfast before he went to bed and pour dry cereal in the bowls to speed up the process in the morning.
  2. He created his own color-coding system for organizing his artificial Christmas tree in order to speed up the process of setting it up.
  3. He ironed money so that it was crisp when he gave it to you as a gift.
  4. He used a ruler to sign his name so that it was straight.
  5. He kept a spreadsheet of how many trick or treaters he got each year to ensure that he had enough candy for the next year.
  6. He numbered the plastic eggs for Easter egg hunts to ensure that we found them all.

I mean, come on, you don’t know anyone else who has ever done these things! I like to think that my sense of organization came from him, then again we are both capricorns with our birthdays 2 days apart. I love having even a semblance of a similar personality to him. Makes me feel closer to him and like I’ll always have a part of him in my heart. I don’t really subscribe to astrological signs, but I definitely think that this capricorn description hits the nail on the head for both Grandpa and I.

When it comes to professionalism and traditional values, Capricorn is the first. Capricorn is practical and is considered to be the most serious sign of the zodiac, who possess an independence that enables significant progress both on the personal level and in business.

As an Earth sign, for a Capricorn there is nothing more important in life than family. Capricorn is a master of self-control and has the potential to be a great leader or manager as long as it is in the sphere of business.

Capricorn-born practical and responsible, so they know how to save money for the future.They are masters when they need to prove that they are right. People born under the Capricorn sign sometimes can be really stubborn. They strive to get to the top only with their experience.

 Responsible. That’s a great word to describe Grandpa. This man was the picture of aging gracefully and responsibly. He decided when it was time to move from his home to a retirement home. He decided when it was time to stop driving. He even planned his own funeral 20 years ago and wrote his own obituary! He had such a healthy sense of his own mortality and I admire that so much about him. (Picture below – Grandpa in World War II.)

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As my Grandpa’s health started to decline this summer, Adam and I drove from Chicago to Indiana more often to visit him. I wanted to be with him. Hug him. Kiss him. Have him hold onto the crook of my arm tight like he always did when we would hug. I knew the end was coming and I so desperately wanted to slow down time and spend any moment I could with him. He was progressively worse each visit we had and my last visit 2 weeks ago was almost unbearably sad. He could hardly talk and for the first time in my whole life his strong, powerful mind was gone. It was heart wrenching and I had to step in the bathroom so he wouldn’t see me cry. But while I was in there I heard him ask my dad if Sarah and Adam were there. I wiped my tears and swallowed the lump in my throat and went by his bedside and held his hand with Adam standing next to me. “I’m here, Grandpa. Adam and I are here.” I couldn’t say much more without choking up because I knew it would likely be my last time with him on Earth and my heart ached. I am so thankful for the visits these last few months and will never forget the final memories I had with him.

I’ll never know anyone like him for the rest of my life and my heart will always be stronger because of him but also a little more tender from losing him.

img_6103(Our last picture together. He gave me those Mardi Gras beads he’s wearing and I think I’ll hang onto them for awhile.)

Recent Beauty Buys

I’m always adding to my beauty wardrobe because you can never have too many beauty products. While the majority of my products are Josie Maran, I’m always branching out to find my new favorite brands. Here are a few of my recent purchases (both Josie and not).

Argan Lip Sting Plumping Butter

This  combines my two beauty loves – Josie Maran and Kylie J – the benefits of argan oil with the results of plumper lips. Here’s how Josie describes it – “The subtle sting and proprietary immediate and long-term lip-plumping complex visibly enhance lips and increases circulation for a voluptuous, juicy pout.” While my lips haven’t grown to the size of Kylie’s, there’s a small plump but an even softer pout that results from Josie’s latest argan creation.

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Nest Frangrances – Midnight Fleur

Ever since my Michael Kors fragrance was discontinued (wah wah), I’ve been on the hunt for a new scent. I first experienced the brand of Nest fragrances when I was in San Antonio for work and the bathroom products were all from Nest. They smelled amazing so I looked up their website and chose the fragrance Midnight Fleur. Here’s how it’s described  on their website – exotic woods, patchouli and black amber are blended with sensual notes of night-blooming jasmine and vanilla orchid. YUM! Plus their packaging is gorg.

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Pearl Essence Coconut Water Face Mist

This face mist is a great way to set your makeup and also make it look dewy (I hate the “I just put on makeup” look). It’s very refreshing and hydrating (coconut water is nature’s Gatorade!) and I love spritzing it on throughout the day for a little pick-me-up.

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I have a few more new beauty items coming in the mail so I’ll report on them next!

Packing Light for Italy

Adam and I got home from Italy this week and we’re still jet lagged (waking up at 6am, going to bed at 8am). We had a whirlwind of a trip and traveled all over Italy – from Milan, to Lake Como, to Venice, to Rome. We did a boat tour in Lake Como, a bar crawl in Venice, and a cooking class in Rome. All of these activities meant a lot of different outfits🙂

For our last few trips, Adam and I have been bringing one carry-on suitcase and one backpack. This allows us to be more flexible with our flights (in case we need to change flights) and is also just easier when lugging ourselves on and off planes, trains, and boats. While this makes packing a challenge for someone like me who loves clothes, it’s also become a personal challenge that I’m always trying to perfect. Here are a few ways that I made the most of my limited luggage in Italy.

Hats

I filled my luggage with 3 different hats to switch up my look throughout the week. Let’s face it, a major part of going on vacation is taking pictures and they’re mostly from the shoulders up, so I try to think of ways to switch up my outfits so I’ll have different looks each day. The beret is from Zara, the brown hat is from Forever 21 (not currently sold online), and the black hat I bought at a small boutique in Baltimore last year.

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Scarves

Another great way to add lots of options to your outfits (but take up zero room in your luggage) is to pack a few scarves. I picked up a handful of scarves from Zara and Forever 21 and wore them around my neck and around my head to be oh so Italiano.

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Shoes

I brought one pair of shoes. Yep, one. While they didn’t prove to be the best footwear for the 6-10 miles of walking we did each day… they were cute! I bought them from an online boutique that one of my former co-workers started, Alice & Wonder – check it out!

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Backpack

Since I was initially in Italy for work, I knew that I’d have my work laptop with me for the vacation-portion of our trip, too. I have a behemoth of a work laptop so I needed to find a cute backpack that could fit the laptop, but also serve as my purse for the trip. I tracked down this backpack at my local TJ Maxx and it served me well on the trip! I added a scarf from Forever 21 to make it a little more Euro.

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We had a fabulous time in Italy and I had a lot of fun planning my outfits (and wearing them). I’m already looking forward to our next trip and the packing challenges that arise🙂

 

City Budget

It’s no secret that Adam and I love traveling. It’s also not a secret that traveling is expensive. And while Adam and I are very lucky to have good jobs, it’s still a stretch sometimes to pay for these trips. But as we say – we work so we can travel. Here are a few ways that we say money in other areas of our lives so we can put more cash in the travel fund.

Groceries

Adam and I have recently become much better about cooking at home and bringing our lunch to work (or having lunch options for me at home). I’ve written about Emeals on my blog before, but we’re currently getting the Paleo recipes (not practicing full-on Paleo eating, I just find this to be the most healthy option that Emeals offers).

On a typical week, I’ll visit 3 different grocery stores – Stanley’s Fruit Market, Aldi, and Trader Joe’s. For those of you in the Chicago-area, you KNOW Stanley’s Fruit Market. For those of you who don’t, it’s a small store that’s almost exclusively produce and the prices are insane. Like a case of 12 packs of blueberries for 99 cents. It’s crazy. I try to stick to their organic selection as much as possible which is still hella cheap. Then I drive on over to Aldi and take advantage of their large organic selection, too. This is not the Aldi of yesteryear (and I know cause I’ve been shopping there since I was a kid with my mom). They have organic produce, milk, meat, snacks, pasta, cereal – you name it. Finally I go to Trader Joe’s for the items Aldi doesn’t have – namely their delish cold brew coffee.

Gym

Luckily Adam and I live in an apartment building with a free gym, so that’s automatically a cost that we don’t have to incur monthly (I mean, I guess we’re paying for it in our rent). I have been dying to get a personal trainer, but they’re crazy pricey, so instead I found a workout app called Skyfit that’s essentially a personal trainer on the cheap ($9.99/month). You can choose from lots of different workouts (elliptical/treadmill/cycling/strength training/yoga) or even just an “outdoor running” workout if you don’t have access to a gym. They play the music (my faves have been the boy band and Miley Cyrus-themed workouts) and an actual personal trainer talks to you and tells you when to sprint, cool down, etc. It’s actually very motivating and I’ve never sweat more at the gym!

Books

That’s a picture of our actual library – jealous?! I’ve loved going to the library since I was a kid, and now that I live in a major city, I’ve hit the jackpot of libraries. Usually once a week during lunch, I’ll walk the mile or so it takes to get to the Harold Washington Library and peruse their miles of bookshelves. With Adam and I both in book clubs, getting books at the library is a major cost saver. We also get travel books, cookbooks, and the latest best-sellers. And as Adam can attest to, my interests change so rapidly (he calls them my “flavors of the week”) that it’s best to get free books at the library about my latest interest (like composting), than spending the bucks at amazon.

Dollar Store

Get thee to a Dollar Tree – that’s my advice to you. There are certain things that you should never buy at a dollar store (we can all use our best judgement for that) but then there are some crazy awesome deals you should definitely be taking advantage of! Here are a few of my fave things to get for one dolla – craft supplies, trash bags, tupperware, storage bins, party supplies, gift wrapping supplies, light bulbs, first aid supplies, socks, cleaning supplies. Seriously, the options are endless. And don’t be tricked into going to a dollar store where stuff costs more than $1 – Dollar Tree is where it’s at.

Well, those are the items that Adam and I save on so that we can travel! Nothing too crazy but it definitely saves us money in the end! We’re getting ready for our big trip to Italy in October, so I’ll definitely be looking for more ways to save!

 

 

5 Years in Chicago

Today is the 5 year anniversary of Adam and I moving to Chicago! Sometimes when I feel like time is passing too quickly, I try to think back to everything I’ve experienced in a set period of time and I realize just how many memories I created in that time period. Adam and I were 25 and 24 when we moved to Chicago. Now we’re 30 and 29, older than the contestants on the Bachelor and the athletes at the Olympics! I took some time to sort through our pictures and remember the good times of the last 5 years in the city and I’ve highlighted a few below!

Family Time

One of the best parts of the last 5 years has been that we’ve gotten to spend more time with our families than we thought we would!  When we first moved here, Adam’s brother and his wife lived in a nearby suburb, then they lived in Istanbul for 4 years, and now they moved back with their 2 daughters! My sister and her family lived in a nearby suburb for 2 years (and we moved out there for 1 of those years). And my little brother went to college the last 4 years at Northwestern (just north of Chicago). Thanks to O’Hare being a major airport, my older brother and his family traveled through Chicago many times on their way to and from India. And our parents have been able to make the trip many times. Here are some pics of these great memories in and out of Chicago.

Adam and his brother after running the Shamrock Shuffle (8k)

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Easter with my family

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Adam and his brothers-in-law at Book of Mormon

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Hosting my sister’s baby shower

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Adam’s parents visiting for his 30th birthday

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And all of our visits with our nieces and nephews!

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Traveling

Adam was most excited to move to Chicago so that we could live near O’Hare. In fact, the first Friday night that we lived in Chicago, we took the train out to O’Hare just because Adam wanted to. Five years later, we’ve made our fair share of train rides out to O’Hare! Here’s the list of places we’ve traveled to since living in Chicago:

International – Turkey (Istanbul and Ephesus), Austria (Vienna and Salzburg), Czech Republic (Prague), Greece (Athens and Santorini), Germany (Berlin), Japan (Tokyo, Nagano, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Hakone), China (Shanghai)

Domestic – Hawaii, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Napa, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Yosemite, Austin, Los Angeles, New York City, Washington DC, Marco Island, Orlando, Traverse City, Door County Wisconsin, Atlanta

My Work Trips – Paris, Dusseldorf, Berlin, Boston, Orlando, Los Angeles, San Antonio, Washington DC, New York City, Dallas, Tampa, Raleigh, Charleston, San Diego, Atlanta

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from our trips.

At an outdoor movie theater in Athens

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Sunrise tour of Monument Valley

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Paris business trip

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New Year’s Eve in a San Francisco tree house

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Friends

Living in Chicago has allowed us to make new friends, strengthen old friendships, and also host many new and old friends here in Chicago. Here are some of our happy memories with our friends throughout the past 5 years!

Running the Hot Chocolate 5k

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Summers together

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Winters together

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Roadtrips

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Weddings

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College reunions

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Well, there are our five years in Chicago in a nutshell and the people and places we’ve spent those years with. We may or may not be in Chicago for the long haul, but we’ve had a lot of great memories so far and I’m sure we have a lot more ahead of us! And if you haven’t visited us yet, come on by!

Skincare Routine

Even though I love makeup, I am usually sporting a fresh face now that I work from home (actually one of the major benefits of working from home!).  The people I see the most during the day, my doorman and my nail guy, are quite taken aback when they see me with makeup on and actually comment on it. My doorman once said “Sarah, is that you? Do you have makeup on? AND your nails done?” Not fair… I ALWAYS have my nails done. Rude. JK, he’s a nice guy.

Here’s that fresh face my doorman and nail guy so often see – I’m SO Alicia Keys.

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I decided a few years ago that it was time to take my skincare seriously, and not skimp. Yes, I love me some Walgreens products, but since my face will be my face for the rest of my life (unless I get attacked by a chimp I guess), I put some extra dollars toward my skincare and makeup budget. You’ll notice almost all of my products are Josie Maran – organic, natural products mostly derived from argan nuts in Morocco.

Here’s a look at all the products and devices I use each day.

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In-Shower Routine

Clarisonic Mia

Josie Maran Cleansing Oil

Josie Maran Powder Exfoliator.

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I was late to jump on the Clarisonic bandwagon. I’ve only had mine for about 6 months, and it’s everything it says it will be (cleaner and softer skin). I use my Josie Maran Cleansing Oil with the Clarisonic and then use the exfoliating powder after (just applying with my hands). I exfoliate my lips too so I can have a softer surface for my Kylie J lipkits!

I read not to use your Clarisonic in the shower cause it will get moldy, but I take mine out after the shower and rinse the scrub head with rubbing alcohol. Haven’t had any issues!

After Shower Part 1

NuFACE Toning Device

NuFACE Gel Primer

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This is an interesting little gadget that the masterminds at QVC sold me on. Yes, I watch QVC and I’m not ashamed. One of my biggest complaints about my face is that it’s kinda droopy. Yes, diet and exercise can also help, but I wanted something that targeted my face more specifically. It’s essentially a device that sends little wavelengths into your face muscles and tightens them. Here are before and after pictures from when I first started using it (after picture is after 2 weeks of use). PS why are these pics so mug-shotty?

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See how my face looks a little less droopy in the cheek and chin department in the second picture?

After Shower Part 2

Josie Maran Nirvana Hydrating Treatment Mist

Josie Maran Eye Serum

Josie Maran Milk Serum

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After I do my facial toning, I move on to my last step. I spritz the nirvana spray (argan oil mixed with coconut water), put the eye serum around my eyes (and around my lips too), and then put the milk serum on top of everything. If I’m headed outside, I’ll throw some Neutrogena Ultra Sheer sunscreen on top.

Weekly Deep Cleaning and Hydrating

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Mask (with apple cider vinegar)

Biore Strips

Egg Yolk Mask

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Once a week, I do a deeper dive into cleaning my pores and hydrating my skin. My first step is the Indian Healing Clay mask. This thing is no joke. It’s only like $6.99 on Amazon, but the results are amazing. You mix it with a little apple cider vinegar (kills nasty pore bacteria) and when you put it on, your face literally starts pulsating. You won’t know what I mean unless you try it, but you literally feel your pores getting cleaned out – it’s crazy! I recommend putting it on before you take a shower. It’s really hard to get off, so I find it’s easiest to get off in the shower. Also, you may want to save the mask for a lazy weekend because my face is super red for a few hours after I use it.

After I shower, I put a hot, wet washcloth on my nose for about 30 seconds (to steam my pores open) and then I put a biore strip on. I’ve had a lot of success with using biore strips after the mask. Then I rub an ice cube on my nose to close my pores up. Finally, I crack an egg open, separate the yolk from the egg white, and put the egg yolk on my face like a mask. You want to keep the egg yolk on until your face becomes really had to move. You’ll know what I mean when you get to that point. My face feels hydrated and lifted after doing an egg mask!

Well, there you have it! It’s a bit of a routine, but I love beauty products so it’s fun for me. I’m working hard to not end up like Lala Kent with a face full of botox in my 20s!

 

Weekend in Indiana

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Adam, Tobias, and I hit the road this weekend and headed to Indiana to visit my parents and grandfather. Our last few visits to Indiana have been in the winter, so it was nice to visit at the height of summer with the corn stalks high and the sunsets long. Going back this weekend was a nice reminder of the goodness of the Hoosier people (minus Mike Pence…) and the origins of my poor eating habits (pork tenderloins and elephant ears anyone?).

We started the weekend off visiting Bloomington (home of IU) where my parents grew up and I lived until I was 10. We grabbed lunch at a quintessential college-town restaurant with it’s own local brews (and the most unfortunate name – Quaff On). Here’s the pork tenderloin, truffle potato chips, and blonde brew I indulged in.

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But our main objective for going to Bloomington was to visit my 97-year-old grandfather. That’s right, 97. He’s the heart and soul of the paternal-side of my family, and we all love him so much.

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He’s a living history book! Below is a picture of him in World War II – if you know what my brothers look like – you can definitely see a resemblance!

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Here are the most adorable, candid pictures of my grandparents goofing off and loving each other (and now you can see me and my sister’s resemblance to my grandma)!

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Together we all spent hours looking at albums full of old photos like these and he still has new stories to tell (his sharp mind no doubt a result from his decades upon decades of poker strategizing). When I listen to him, I get the same feeling I got when I visited the Grand Canyon a few years ago – each individual’s time in history is short and inconsequential, but together, with family and friends and all of humanity, we are part of a grander, more meaningful existence.

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We had lots of fun catching up with Grandpa and I can’t wait to see him next!

Then on Sunday, we did as all Hoosiers do in August – go to the Indiana State Fair. I grew up going to the fair every year – one year I threw a fit until my parents bought me a cowhide purse (I won that battle), but Adam has only been a handful of times. Most notably when we were in college and went to the American Idol concert (Jordan Sparks’ year). Here’s a flashback photo of us in 2007 (yes, we made those t-shirts).

Not much has changed at the fair in the last 9 years. We ate the same delicious junk, saw the same cute cows and pigs (not cute enough to make me go vegetarian though), and engaged in the same high quality people-watching. Here are some pics from the sweltering day this past weekend.

My favorite fair treat – elephant ears!

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Adam’s favorite fair treat – slushies!

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I found a giant recipe card for my favorite pie – Sugar Cream Pie (the official Indiana state pie).

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Adam and I under the Midway sign.

We had a full Indiana weekend! It was great to remember the happy times from the 2 years that Adam and I lived there and my childhood/teenage years spent in Bloomington and the southside of Indianapolis. Now if only Hillary can win Indiana in November, I’ll be really proud to be a Hoosier🙂