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.

1527125_877585281314_622636660_n

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.)

img_6099

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!)

img_6101

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.)

img_6091

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.)

Advertisements

Weekend Recap

Adam and I pretended like it was Spring this weekend. Even though it was in the 30s, we were out and about in the city refusing to wear heavy coats or hats and gloves. We were cold, but give me a break!

On Saturday we had my fam over for lunch. My parents were in town visiting my nephew so we had everyone over. I made crockpot turkey/jalepeno chili (yum!) and we ate lots of chips and guac. We also spent a good amount of time staring at baby August.

After lunch, Adam and I headed into the city to start apartment shopping, yay! Our apartment lease is up in July, so we’re getting a head start on the rental market. We looked at a few places this weekend and learned a few things:

1.) Our last apartment in the city was the bomb-dot-com location-wise, price-wise, and size-wise and now we’re sad (link to pics of our old place)

2.) We’ve GOT to live in the city near tall buildings, Starbucks, and Lake Michigan (we looked at some places in the neighborhoods, and we just miss the hustle of the city!)

3.) Paying to park our car in the city is going to suck.

After apartment shopping, Adam and I went on a progressive dinner with some of his co-workers. We hit Reza’s for apps, Troquet for dinner, and Nacional 27 for dessert (followed by some karaoke at Blue Frog!). A perfect reminder of the delicious food that awaits us in the city when we move back!

On Sunday we did a little more apartment shopping and then went indoor rock climbing with our friends at Brooklyn Boulders. While it was super fun, it was also very difficult for me and my Katy Perry-length fake nails – not very easy to grab onto the rocks. After rock climbing, we went to Little Goat (Top Chef restaurant) and stuffed our faces with a bunch of delicious comfort food (nachos, biscuits and gravy, mac and cheese, and tempura mashed potatoes were a few items we ordered!).

Here are some rock climbing pics of me and Adam!

IMG_3679

IMG_3680

Weekend Recap

This weekend we tried to get outside as much as possible because it was gorgeous! Saturday we woke up bright and early for our St. Patty’s day festivities. Chicago was alive and excited to celebrate the day in the sunny weather! Here are some pics from Patty’s day.

I wore a mint-green tank from Target, boyfriend jeans, and a nude jacket and booties.

IMG_3645

Here’s the whole gang! So much fun to hang out with good friends.

FullSizeRender (1)

Then on Sunday, Adam and I ventured out of the city to Starved Rock State Park to hike(ish) and just get some fresh air. While the scenery wasn’t exactly beautiful (no greenery), it was still nice to do something different this weekend.

Here’s Adam modeling with the river dam at the state park (remember, not exactly beautiful).

IMG_3652

After our outdoor adventure, we really tried to embrace the spring weather and we went out to dinner and sat on the patio! It was a little chilly, but thankfully we sat next to a fire and had blankets. Sangria and tacos? Yes, please!

IMG_3654

Oh, and how could I forget spending time with our little nephew August! Ugh, he’s so cute it hurts!!

IMG_9068

IMG_9073

Brown County Baby Shower

Baby showers are usually one of my least favorite events to attend. Sniffing diapers filled with chocolate, listening to stomach-churning birth stories, and hearing moms “one-up” eachother (“oh, just wait until your kid is 5! blah blah blah”).

So when I offered to host my sister’s baby shower, it was truly an act of love. Luckily my sister isn’t one for pastel Jordan almonds and nasty baby games, so I was able to get creative and have a lot of fun planning her event, instead of having my usual baby shower anxiety.

First step of the planning process, choose a theme. My family is obsessed with a small town in southern Indiana that has cute little general stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and a state park that we grew up going horseback riding at. The town is called Nashville, but is technically in Brown County, Indiana, so for some reason we just always call it Brown County. My sister is particularly fond of Brown County, so since her shower was in October, and Brown County is absolutely radiant in the Fall, a Brown County Baby Shower was the perfect fit!

IMG_3025

IMG_3041

IMG_3037

IMG_3054

Second step of the planning process, décor shopping. I decided to go all out and have a classic Pinterest Fall baby shower. Mason jars, chalkboards, burlap fabric as table cloths, hay bales, and lots of leaf garland. I bought flowers from a nearby grocery store to make my own Fall bouquets. The rest of my décor was purchased at Joanne Fabrics, Walmart, and God’s gift to discount shoppers – The Christmas Tree Shops.

IMG_3027

IMG_3045

IMG_3035

Third step of the planning process, menu planning. Fall conveniently has a lot of classic flavors, so I incorporated those into the menu – apple pie, pumpkin pie, apple cider donuts, and chili. I also had some classic Fall flavors in the drinks that I made. I bought large mason jar drink dispensers and had two alcoholic punches and one non-alcoholic punch. I bought a case of red and white wine from Trader Joe’s to make my punches (red – Mulled Wine Sangria, white – Autumn Punch). And my non-alcoholic punch was just store-bought apple cider with lots of fresh apple and orange slices, cranberries, and cinnamon sticks. Yum!

IMG_3029

IMG_3030

IMG_3028

Fourth step of the planning process, details. Large details are just as important as the small details, and small details should be just as deliberate. I wrapped my gold plastic silverware in Kate Spade paper napkins and tied them up with a burlap bow. Time consuming, yes? But how annoying is it to have  a handful of silverware when you’re trying to get food from the buffet. Another important detail was the games. I wanted to make sure we played games that were focused on my sister, her husband, and their baby. We played a game where we learned about my sister and her husband as babies and then a game where we guessed what their baby would be like when he grows up. No dirty diapers here! I also spent a lot of time on the favors (caramel apple kits), which were a small detail, but added to the Fall vibes. Finally, you can never go wrong with pumpkin-scented candles, bathroom soaps, and coffee creamer.

IMG_3033

IMG_3034

IMG_3031

IMG_3032

Even if I did end up drinking a few too many mason jars of Autumn Punch, the baby shower went off without a hitch, and it was a great day to celebrate my sister and have a festive Fall day with family and friends.

 

Christmas Gifts for the Hillary in Your Life

Gone are the days of my youth where Christmas mornings were filled with Tiger Beat posters, American Girl dolls, and Doodle Bears. Now, my Christmas list is filled with orthopedic shoes for “professional women.” Woof. But I can deal with it. I guess it’s proof that I’m on my way to becoming the woman I’ve always wanted to be: Hilary. 🙂

Now that I’ve accepted the fact that a One Direction watch won’t be on my Christmas list, I did some research for things that would be more appropriate for a 27-year-old. I decided to focus on my needs as a business traveler and come up a few items that would make packing, flying, and hoteling much easier. Here’s what I’m wishing for.

Shoes

As a meeting planner, I spend hours and hours running around hotels and convention centers. Despite my long-standing fashion mantra of “fashion over function,” I’ve decided to cave and add some orthopedic shoes to my wish list. Ugh, it’s seriously depressing. But high heels and unsupported flats are just as depressing for my feet. I did a ton of research, and found some acceptable options to go with my black pantsuits. Truth is they’re still gawd awful.

Dansko Nastacia Black Croc

Dansko Olivia Black Cobblestone

Tech Items

When thinking about the tech items that I’m wishing for, I thought about my biggest pet peeves. First, sitting next to a snoring adult or chatty kid on an airplane. Solution? Noise-cancelling earbuds. Second, having a messy carry-on purse filled with power cords. Solution? Tech cord organizer. Third, phone runs out of battery. Solution? Power bank.

Noise Cancelling Headphones

 

Tech Cord Organizer

OP/TECH USA Accessory Pack - 11-Inch

Power Bank

Lady Problems

No, not those kinds of problems, but the organizational problems that every woman faces when she travels. I’ve found that Lori Grenier (of QVC and Shark Tank fame) knows what a lady needs to stay organized on the go. Here are a few of my fave Lori items.

Weekender Bag with Snap-In Toiletry Case

Weekender Bag with Snap-In Toiletry Case by Lori Greiner

Purse Organizer

Ready Set Go 2-Piece Bag Organizer with Light by Lori Greiner

Travel Perfume Spray Bottle – fill with your own perfume

Travalo Refillable Travel Perfume Rollerball Set by Lori Greiner

 

Hopefully my research will help you find Christmas presents for those on your gift-buying list! Sometimes practical gifts are the most unexpected, but appreciated gifts. Check back for some more Christmas gift ideas!

 

 

Kourtney Kardashian’s Parisian Honeymoon

Picking out new clothes is hard.

It’s a very frustrating and usually fruitless process. If you’re looking to buy more than 2 new items, it’s hard to ensure that everything goes together and matches what’s already in your closet.

A few ways that I’ve managed to find success in shopping is to shop online, shop at one store, shop only a few times a year, and think of myself as buying a collection of clothes. You know, like the type of collection that all the fabu designers are presenting in New York this week at fashion week. Everything looks different, but has an underlying theme.

So, after hours spent on Forever21.com this weekend, I purchased my 2014 Fall/Winter collection and have titled the theme of my collection: Kourtney Kardashian’s Parisian Honeymoon.

imagesGR3PCXUI

While she may be “the boring one,” Kourtney is the least skanky (clothing-wise) and best dressed (sensibility-wise) Kdash sister. She loves Paris and loves Lord Disick and if all my wishes come true, they will elope to and honeymoon in Paris this Fall. And when she does so, she’ll wear these Forever 21 duds (you know, if she were “one of us” and shopped at F21).

Classic Cape Blazer

untitled

Woven Surplice Jumpsuit

00083629-02

 

Turtleneck Dolman Top

00105284-07

 

Windowpane Pleated Skirt

00129971-02

 

Sheer Printed Surplice Top

00083928-02

 

Striped Knit Top

55878305-03

 

Lily Print Blouse

00102578-03

Queen Graphic Tee

00102732-01

Knotted Loose-Knit Headwrap

55879475-02

 

Oversized Square Sunglasses

00107943-02

 

Classic Square Readers

00085672-01

 

Quilted Knit Sweatshirt

00119949-03

 

Hopefully you can see my Kdash Parisian vision! The skirt, the Queen tshirt, and the headwrap will look funky and romantic. The jumpsuit, the sweatshirt, and the readers will look effortless and chic. The cape blazer, the striped shirt, and the big sunglasses will look Kdash airport glam. I’m also looking forward to pairing these new items with other pieces currently in my closet  (leather jacket, black booties, chunky gold necklaces).

But the real test will just be if everything fits! Oh the joys of online shopping! And oh the joys of Forever 21’s terrible return policy 🙂

Weekend Recap

It was a hot, humid, and stormy weekend here in the Midwest, so Adam and I did our best to stay indoors. Of course, having spent the winter in downtown Chicago, we promised ourselves that we wouldn’t stay indoors this summer, but that’s not exactly easy to do with 90% humidity. Here’s what we did to beat the heat.

Movies

Friday night we cracked open some cheap Trader Joe’s wine and watched Somm, a documentary on the Master Sommelier exam.  The documentary follows four Master Sommelier hopefuls as they prep for the epic test that spans three days. We learned some wine description gems that we hope to now use. Like, fresh cut garden hose, wet wool, and newly opened can of tennis balls. Oh and I also learned that all the sommeliers say that Sauvignon Blanc, my favorite white wine, smells like cat pee.

image

Then on Saturday afternoon, we caught an afternoon viewing of The One Hundred Foot Journey. While we were definitely the youngest moviegoers in attendance, we’re always up for a good Dame Helen Mirren flick. Set in a Beauty and the Beast-style French village, the movie follows an Indian family that opens a restaurant across the street from Le Mirren’s fancy pants French restaurant. Delicious (looking) food, festive music, and unexpected romance made for a great Saturday movie.

image-2

Books

It’s been awhile (maybe never actually) since I read a book in one sitting, but on Saturday (after going to the movie) I sat down and read through Love Wins by Rob Bell. Yes, this is the controversial book by Rob Bell regarding the reality of hell. I’d definitely recommend it because I personally believe that you should always expose yourself to new and thought-provoking ideas.

photo 2

Vacation Planning

With a busy September of business travel ahead of me, Adam and I wanted to plan a last-minute Labor Day trip to spend some extra time together. After hitting the library to pick up Midwest travel books, and researching a million bed and breakfasts, we finally settled on heading up to Traverse City, MI and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. We’re looking forward to nights spent at a country bed and breakfast with our days spent touring wineries and taking snapchats.

photo 1

This is what we looked like at Cold Stone (with our travel books from the library) planning our trip.

photo 4

photo 3

All in all, a great summer weekend spent indoors for the most part. Learning about new subjects, reading about new perspectives, and planning new adventures.