| pineapple | flowers |

| step 1 |

  gather all ingredients and kitchenware 
     flowers (any floral arrangement will work)
     cutting board

| step 2 |

  remove the top leafy part of the pineapple. you want to extend 
  the cut to about a half inch below the start of the leaf line.

| step 3 |

  carefully remove the fruit inside of the pineapple. you can do 
  this by cutting in a circle around the edges, then make four   
  boxes using one horizontal and one vertical cut (as shown 
  below). next, carefully hold the pineapple while cutting out the 
  inside. this can easily be done by holding the knife
  diagonally. you can use a spoon to scoop out any remaining fruit.

  the fruit does not have to come out in pretty chunks. please be 
  careful when removing. because i hacked away at the inside fruit, 
  i stored it in the freezer to use in smoothies later. (recipes to 

| step 4 |

  once only the skin of the pineapple remains, place flowers 

  * you may need to cut the stems to fit, depending on pineapple   
  and flower stem size.

  * do not add water to the pineapple, it will leak through. if you 
  are planning to have these flowers sit in the pineapple vase for 
  an extended period of time, please purchase a small vase that 
  fits inside the pineapple to properly contain the water. 

  * i placed stems and leaves from my bouquet around the centerpiece   for a more tropical feel.


chi city, contrary to my debate, pronounced ‘shy-city’ is one of my favorite places to visit. [ i may be a bit biased because one of my favorite people to visit lives in this amazing city.] 

i was living in this sweater and these cut offs

| sweater: wildfox | shorts: oneteaspoon |

spur of the moment weekend trips are always best. i originally had planned to take on miami with some girlfriends. those plans ended up falling through and God had other plans for me, plans to visit chicago and catch up with my old college roomie. 

i started my day with soul cycle. if you haven’t been, it’s a dance party on a bicycle with an overly enthused instructor and i highly recommend it. despite its steep cost, you will leave grooving to the loud music that lingers in your head and feeling better about your day. 

after the dance party i went straight to the beach. the beach is easily one of my favorite places to be. the sand beneath my toes, sun shining on my skin and peaceful noises of the waves swaying back and forth… what could be better? i could have stayed in the sand soaking up vitamin d all day long. with all the rain texas has gotten in the month of may, vitamin d has been greatly missed.

after a few hours of people watching, reading magazines, having an impromptu photoshoot [this is natural when you’re with your best friend, right?], watching an 80+ yr old man jog along the beach at a 2mph pace proudly wearing a medallion and joking around and snacking on watermelon, we decided it was time make some moves. our ‘moves’ led us right back to the beach, this time on bikes. with wind blowing through my hair i cruised along the beach and soaked up every ounce of fresh air i could. during my beach ride all i could think about was how grateful i was to have friends who love to explore and be outdoors with me and how beautiful chicago is in the summer. also– how much my legs were burning after soul cycle, beach play and bike rides. ouch.

i was living in this sweater and these cut offs
| sweater: wildfox | shorts: oneteaspoon |

the rest of the day was spent wining and dining with old college friends followed by games (my favorite) and dancing the night away like old times. unfortunately the texas rain followed me to chicago the next day and it was storming. but rain or shine, we had a great time. i didn’t get a classic bean picture this go around– do go see it if you have never been. instead, i enjoyed a tasty brunch at the cutest spot named ‘summerhouse’ and a great evening watching the blackhawks win. being a texas girl, hockey isn’t my go-to sport, but on this night it was. chicago really loves their hockey and being able to cheer on their team with such an enthusiastic bunch, was a blast.

the best part about this trip was everything was carefree. some of our plans such as an alumni event at the cubs game were cancelled due to weather, but even with that there wasn’t a single worry about anything. we just went with the flow. the beach always has a way of restoring my carefree attitude and bringing me a sense of peace. i was able to set aside all life struggles, we all have them, and fully enjoy the moment and the wonderful company surrounding me. sometimes we take them for granted, but best friends are such a true blessing. 

love this beautiful goof!

later chi!

two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. but pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up

ecclesiastes 4: 9-10


| chicken | pickles | celery | salt | pepper | mayonnaise | onion |

  serving size: 3-6
  preparation time: 10 minutes
  cook time: 0 minutes

| step 1 |

  gather all ingredients and kitchenware 
     2 chicken breasts (pre-made, store bought rotisserie)
     6-8 dill pickles (mt olive kosher baby dills with sea salt*)
     3 celery stalks (fresh store or farmers market bought)
     1 tsp pepper (mccormick’s black peppercorn)
     1 tsp salt (morton’s course kosher*)
     1/4 onion (pre-chopped)
     2 tbsp mayonaise (kraft mayo with olive oil*)
     prosecco (for moral support, this is optional)
     cutting board
     food processor
     bowl, large
     mixing spoon



| step 2 |


  remove skin, drumsticks and wings from the rotisserie chicken.  
  peel all visible white meat off of the bone and place on a     
  separate plate. this does not have to look pretty, it will soon   
  go into the processor to be chopped.

  remove 3 celery stalks from bundle and wash thoroughly. place  

  measure out 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. place aside.

  peel outer coating of onion and discard. cut 1/4th of onion and   
  place aside. 


| step 3 |

  chop the food

  place torn chicken breasts into processor and press start. hold   
  chop button for 3 seconds and assess. if chicken needs to be 
  chopped more, repeat. the chicken should be chopped into very 
  small pieces without any visible chunks. depending on your food 
  processor’s speed and capabilities, be sure to not over chop.

  repeat the above process with the onion, celery and dill pickles. 
  chop each ingredient separately and in 3 second increments. pay   
  attention to the food pieces in the processor. you do not want to 
  over chop. with celery in particular, over chopping can cause a 
  build up of moisture and result in mushy celery. this can easily 
  be avoided by only chopping your food in no more than 3 second 

| step 4 |


  add salt, pepper, chopped chicken, chopped onion, chopped celery   
  and chopped pickle into large sized bowl. mix evenly.


  once mixture looks even, add 2 tbsp of mayo* and continue to mix 

| step 5 |


   pour 3-4 heaping table spoons per serving and garnish with celery 
   stalk. enjoy your easily made lazy girl’s skinny chicken salad.   


 * these ingredients can be swapped out for other name brands.
 * salt and pepper can be added to taste.
 * for a creamier chicken salad, add extra mayo. add in no more than  
   1/2 tbsp increments for best results. 
 * for additional flavor options, red onion, crushed walnuts or 
   sliced grapes can be added.


after spending a couple hours of listening to taylor swift’s new album on repeat we arrived to our final destination, amsterdam. it was already late in the evening and the new year was creeping up on us so it was straight to business. we got ready in a flash and headed to the streets. 

seriously.. the streets. that’s where the party was. amsterdam’s idea of a party is like no other. i kid you not when i say there were fireworks going off left and right. literally. you could be standing less than 2 ft away from someone and then boom. fireworks right infront of you. i saw fireworks go off under cars, in trash bins, in the canals, under bikes.. you name it. it was a madhouse. and they weren’t just fireworks that went off as the clock struck midnight. oh no, these fireworks continued to go off well into the next day. party on, amsterdam!

this happened, go frogs!

other than dodging sparkles in the sky all night, our new years celebration was a blast. we found a fun little dance spot and danced into the wee hours of the morning. quite possibly the best way to welcome a new year.

we rested a lot of the next day, but as soon as we got our energy back we were off! our first stop was visiting the rijks museum followed by the iconic ‘i amsterdam’ sign right outside. 

we lucked out and had no wait time for the museum. we walked right in. i assume the rest of amsterdam was still in recovery mode from the previous nights’ festivities. 

the rijks museum was fascinating. they have a handy tour guide app you can download right onto your phone (which they conveniently provide free wifi throughout the museum so you can do so). not to mention, the app itself is free. very little in europe is free, water being no exception. needless to say, it was a  great time getting lost in history.  

we spent the rest of the night strolling through amsterdam, watching out for bikers and enjoying the day. throughout our stroll i quickly learned that coffee shop is not the term used synonymously with starbucks and amsterdam’s laws are quite different.

next on our list was the ann frank house. this is a must visit. the line is outrageous but it is well worth it. we woke up bright and early and got in line about an hour prior to opening. it was the right move to make. had we arrived any later, we would have been waiting in line for hours on end in a line that seemed to go on forever. it’s a very emotional and moving tour. if you get the chance, do it.  words can’t do the experience any justice.

after leaving the ann frank house we grabbed a bite to eat and decompressed. we then hopped into the fearless little peugot and drove to quite possibly one of my most favorite restaurants i have ever been to. 

volendam, amsterdam is home to a quaint little fishing village. we debated even making the trip and i still thank my lucky stars we did. it was the best food, ever. ever. it was so good. i savored every bite. i ate slowly, cut my food up into small pieces, alternated with sips of water… i used every trick in the book to make that meal last as long as possible. if smit bokkum (the name of the restaurant) sold souvenir shirts, i would have bought one in each design just to commemorate how great that meal was.

with full and happy bellies, we ended our dream vacation with a castle viewing and dress up party at muiderslot. the castle was fully equipped with interactive activities such as mini arcade-style games, jousting competitions and more. it definitely put a fun spin on the castle tour.

it’s not a party until you play dress up

europe was unbelievable. in fact, during most of the trip i felt as if i were living in a fairytale. we saw so much in our short time, but there is so much left to see. i already miss it. i miss the sights and i miss the feel of getting lost in a moment and having excitement at every corner. i cannot wait to make a triumphant return and explore all that is left!

my amsterdam warning: beware of bikers. they stop for no one.

the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.

psalm 24:1-2


paris round two had a lot to live up to. the day started early with a trip to the louvre. being in a foreign place without cell service really makes a directionally challenged girl appreciate her gps. how did people get around before it? seriously, how?

after figuring out which train to get on, we got off at our stop. well, at least what we thought was our stop. trying to use an innate sense of direction (david’s, not mine. mine is nonexistent) we headed in one direction. we saw a beautiful building with exquisite architecture. we figured surely, that’s where we needed to be. wrong. this beautiful building turned out to be a school. a school that looked like the royal palace in aladdin. good choice, kids.

we did a quick turn around and dashed into the nearest starbucks to connect to wifi and figure out where we were. one more reason to love starbucks. city mugs (i collect these), coffee and free wifi. turns out, had we gone the other direction we would have been just a block away. whoops.

we had purchased a pair of museum passes that granted us access to a number of popular tourist locations which included an express entrance into the louvre. however, express entrance had a not-so-express line. turns out the museum pass is as popular as all the hot spots it grants you access to. so we waited with all of the other museum pass holders. the line was outside, but it moved quickly which was great. december weather in france is cold.

the louvre is enormous. we turned on some rick steve’s and followed a quick tour to the main attractions. some of the artwork is simply amazing. then, the hottest of the hotspots was up, the mona lisa. okay, is it a beautiful piece of artwork? yes. but you wouldn’t believe the amount of people gathered around this tiny little painting protected by a giant glass shield. it was a tourist madhouse with camera flashes going off left and right. the best part? as all of these people gathered around the tiny painting known as the mona lisa, pushing and shoving to get as close as possible, no one bothered to turn around and notice the masterpiece that took up the entire wall right behind them. which made me wonder. why the mona lisa? what makes it so special? is it the mystery or the hype? either way, i suppose checking the mona lisa off my bucket list is pretty cool.

at first we felt this
then we felt this

after our louvre adventures, we headed to the pont des arts bridge which was another surreal moment. it looked just how the movies portrayed it. david and i wrote our names on a lovelock “dbos and fizzle” along with the date “12.31.14” and found a place to secure it. shortly after, an adorable accordion player sat on the bench near us and started playing bella notte. it was a perfect moment spent wrapped up in the arms of my favorite guy. i could have lived in that moment, but it was new years eve and we had places to be. we later found out we had missed the memo to throw the keys in the seine river afterward. so, we decided to start spreading the love and throw the keys in other rivers we visit. that works too, right?

paris, france
pont des arts
dbos + fizzle

after my love scene movie moment ended, we headed to our airbnb, packed up and squeezed back into the fearless puegot. on the drive we made a quick stop in the charming little town of ghent. this place looked like a movie backdrop. it was silent, impeccably clean and beautiful. it was a short stop before making our way to amsterdam for new years eve, but we shared a wonderful sushi dinner with great company.

ghent, belgium

spread love everywhere you go. let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.

mother teresa