chicago

Who Doesn’t Love a Fresh Start?

Happy January 2nd everyone! A January 2nd post is way less cliche than a January 1st, New Year’s post, right? Probably not so much, but we are going with it anyway.

I have always loved the start to a new year. Who doesn’t love a fresh start? Sure, it isn’t like all of your problems dissipated into thin air once the ball dropped, but there is something about the calendar starting over that makes people think that things can be new again.

I am one who is extremely susceptible to the romanticism that is the new year and a fresh start, but there is something about 2015 that has me especially excited. I had a great 2014, but I have big hopes and plans for this year, and am feeling refreshed and ready to get back to the things I love; particularly running and writing, and possibly even tackle a few new passions and challenges.

For starters, my poor blog needs to stop being ignored, and I need to be more diligent about following all of the amazing people I have connected with through WordPress. You all inspire me so much whether it be with your running, writing, or creativity. Just exposing myself to all of this more will help fuel my writing again.

As far as my running goes, I am already signed up for two half marathons this spring. The Illinois Half Marathon on April 25th, and the Indianapolis Mini Marathon on May 2nd. This should set me up for a fall marathon (fingers crossed) come the fall. I might even add the Chicago Triathlon in August to my list.

How about you guys? What are your goals and hopes for the new year?

I have plenty of personal and professional goals as well, but I am still hashing those out. I think there is always room to be a better person , and I am sure 2015 will award me plenty of opportunities for growth.

Happy New Year everyone. Let’s have an amazing 2015.

Cheers!

P.S. A little MSU, Big Ten Cheer for everyone out there. Probably the best football game I have ever seen in my life!

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Shutterfly Coupon for The Gallery Wall Project

To say that Groupon has some what fueled our social lives since moving to Chicago would be an understatement. We have gone golfing, enjoyed an amazing prohibition tour through the city (which deserves it’s own post) dined out, and decorated our new place.

Imagine my glee when I discovered that Groupon now does coupons! I was so excited to see there was an offer from Shutterfly because I have wanted to develop some of my own photography to use on a gallery wall I am (pitifully) attempting to put together.

With a 45% off coupon, I was able to upload my photo to Shutterfly, edit it as needed, and five days later, I got my orange package in the mail with my fabulous canvas.

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So, we continue to piece together this “gallery” wall:

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It is a fun work in progress that can easily be shifted, but for right now, I kind of like the unconventional-ness of it 🙂

Hope everyone is well, and I will have more next week. I am off to Long Beach to stay on the historic Queen Mary for a night!

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Cottage Week 2014

I once again must ask your forgiveness for my absence. Life has been busy! We have finally relocated to the Windy City, and I couldn’t be happier. I have been waiting do to an update until I got my new computer (after 8 years), so here we are, finally! But alas, you will have to wait just a bit longer for the Chicago adventure update.

I am spending my annual week at my cottage and have finally gotten around to doing something that has been 16 years on the “to-do” list. I just purchased a gravestone for my mother’s plot up here. She is “buried” (and I mean her ashes) at a plot in the Presque Isle Township Cemetery, but she has never had a gravestone. Each year I go to visit, I sit by a tree that is near to her plot (not remembering which location exactly is hers). Last year I discovered that her tree had been removed. As if I hadn’t felt ridiculous enough talking to a tree, now I get to just sit there and talk to grass; a generalized guess of where I think is the right spot.

Today, I finally walked into the local memorial store (I wanted to call it something fun like the Engraved Granite Boutique) and picked out a stone for her. It was a little daunting trying to pick something like that out, but I went with simple, basic info, and paid the nice man. In 30 days, Mom will finally have a stone and I (and my brother) will have a place to visit.

It is strange, but it feels like another piece of the puzzle to becoming “me” and taking charge of my life. Sort of “if you want something done, you have to do it yourself”. It just all fits back into my theory of it being your life and you can’t be afraid to take the reins and make things happen.

It is a little victory, but big or small, they all count.

If I am not back before, have a happy 4th of July! Sending you all love and well wishes of independence!

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72 Hours of Engaged Bliss and Already….

Type A Gemini twin and panic are setting in. (Side note: this will NOT be turning into a wedding blog, but you will be hearing about it on occasion.)

We are not concerning ourselves with a massive, go for broke, traditional wedding.. though those are beautiful.  We want something relaxed, laid back and all about our friends and family (not to mention we have two years to plan). I am noticing that even those have plenty of planning that goes into them and hundreds of things to think about.

Thankfully, I am surrounded by wonderful friends who have done this before and are willing to lend a hand, and I refuse to lose my sense of humor and focus on what a wedding is about in a pile of linen choices and flowers. BUT, I ask you, dear readers: To those who have been married before, what piece of advice would you go back and give your newly engaged self? 

Peace and blessings! Momma is headed out for a fabulous run tonight since training for the Chicago Marathon starts next week!

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You’re welcome

Running the Chicago Marathon in Pink!

My first marathon was the Chicago Marathon in 2011 and it made me realize 2 things.

1. I was even more in love with the city of Chicago than I had previously thought; and

2. I couldn’t wait to run another marathon.

Two and a half years later I have finally signed up for my second marathon, and I will be returning to the streets of Chicago (soon to be my new hometown) to run for one of my favorite non-profits, Bright Pink

For those readers who don’t know, I lost my mom to breast cancer almost 16 years ago and know far too many amazing women who have been affected by this disease.  This fall, I will run for them!  

Bright Pink is an amazing organization that offers education, support and is leading the charge for early detection and prevention for not only breast cancer, but ovarian cancer as well.  They really have an empowering message, and I couldn’t be more excited to run on their fund raising team.

I have 6 months to raise $1000, so please feel free to stop by my fundraising page: http://www.stayclassy.org/stephanieericson 

Have you been touched by breast cancer somehow? Share your story with me and I would love to add you or your loved one’s name to my list of reasons I am running.  

We are almost to spring, and I hope everyone is surviving the weather wherever you are!

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My mom, brother and me from back in the day (Dad got cropped for icon usage purposes… sorry, Dad ❤ !)

Some nights you just need a glass (bottle) of wine

As the snow has weighed down most of the nation, I feel like the stress of work has weighed me down.  Our generous vacation of nearly 3 weeks was wonderful to recharge and reset for the New Year, but 3 days in and I am starting to feel it already!

I love my job.  I love that I am working on 100 different projects at one time, 4 or 5 “departments” that need me at once, new ideas coming to the surface, not to mention day-to-day tasks and the unknown always popping up in my inbox and flying across my desk. But sometimes at the end of the day, you just need a glass of wine to recharge for the next day.

It has been a fabulous 2014 thus far, and I am excited to say that it will be an amazing year.  I was accepted to grad school and will be moving to Chicago to pursue my Masters this summer!

2014 is going to be the year to cross things off of my bucket list. I already have 3 ready to go. 1. Move out of Michigan 2. Move to a large city (my favorite none the less) 3. Pursue my Masters.

I love the New Year.  I love the thought of a fresh start and a clean slate.  Any day can be a clean slate, but for me, nothing gives hope like starting off the year on the right foot.

What are you all hoping to do or accomplish in the New Year?

Here are a few pics from my holiday and 2014 adventures thus far!

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A shot after the ice storm in downtown East Lansing

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Our New Year was spent celebrating the birthday of the 2 goldens in the back. It was such a great time with some of my dearest friends. (Look at the handsome ones in the middle)

We headed to Chicago for a work event and walked past our future apartment (we hope), and this could be my front door!!

We headed to Chicago for a work event and walked past our future apartment (we hope), and this could be my front door!!

My future Starbucks. How cute is that?

My future Starbucks. How cute is that?

We headed up to Winnetka/Glencoe to visit a great friend of ours. CUTEST villages I have ever seen.

We headed up to Winnetka/Glencoe to visit a great friend of ours. CUTEST villages I have ever seen.

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My handsome snow bear right after our massive snow storm.

My handsome snow bear right after our massive snow storm.

Happy New Year to all!

Possibly one of the greatest days every?

Saturday was just an amazingly awesome day.  From start to finish, one of the greatest days of my life.

I woke up to meet one of my best friends in the whole world for coffee.  I walked from my Delaware and Magnificent Mile hotel location up to the Gold Coast, past amazing churches, posh window shopping, and great people watching.  I love this part of Chicago (ok, I really love pretty much all of Chicago, but downtown there has such a great feel to it).

I can never not have a great time with my friend Liz.  She is one of those friends that you can’t help but just feel blessed to have in your life.  She is smart, accomplished, caring, compassionate, extremely funny, and just wonderful.  We talked about life, work, friends, me getting engaged sometime in the future, to which she offered some great advice, “Try on rings.  What you think you like, you may hate.”  I then got the brilliant idea to go ring shopping with her, and she replied, “Well, I think Harry Winston is across the street,” glancing at our pajama inspired outfits, “do you think they’d let us in?”.  

After leaving Liz, Paul and I decided to head out to Wicker Park for some shopping/exploring/drinking.  He loves Wicker Park, and this was my first time really spending time there.  We started off at “Small Bar”, which was just that, but had a great atmosphere, and was playing the Manchester United soccer game… what could be better!?  The bar was packed with hardcore soccer fans, our waiter was super cool, we had a few amazing beers, and just chatted.  It only took 2 beers to get me good and buzzed, and to start talking about how much I missed our cat (not that I favor my cat over my dog, but I had had a dream the night before that she died, so she was on my mind)…after about 15 minutes of that, Paul decided it was time to distract me with some shopping/wandering.

One thing I noticed about Wicker Park was that there were dogs EVERYWHERE! Might this need to be where I live when I finally move to Chicago? We walked passed a dog park (THE Wicker Park on Damen, where I continued to freak out about how many dogs there were, and of course wanted to pet them all), and then we found ourselves on Milwaukee Ave. just as it started to snow.  Now it must be noted that all day we kept commenting on how warm it was (by Mid-West standards), yet, as we approached Milwaukee Ave., it started to snow; that beautiful, fat, fluffy, romantic snow.  I was in heaven! 

As we were heading back to Division for more beverages/food, groups of people on the corner had a huge sign that said “Free Hugs”, and were just giving out hugs to strangers.  OF COURSE I HUGGED A STRANGER!  I was in a giddy mood already, and this just sent me even further into giggle fits of joy (yes, I am a child)!

We then proceeded to have more drinks at “FatPour”, then crossed the street to “Jerry’s” where we were joined by my other best friend, Julie, for more amazing beer, the best sandwich I have ever had in my life, and the coolest bartender who was serving us (also a Michigander whose parents live right around the corner from mine in Ann Arbor). I believe I gave him my business card so we could be invited to his wedding… but after splitting beers with your bartender, that just feels like that next organic step, right? 

Hours later, after dinner, we enjoyed drinks at this great bar in the Gold Coast called “The Lodge”, with Liz and her husband.  Such a cool little spot, not too big, hole in the wall type feel.  I felt like we could have literally just come in off of the slopes, but again, the company was second to none.

Then, Paul and I walked back to our hotel along Michigan Ave., sandwiched between Christmas lights to our right and Lake Michigan to our left.

I am madly in love with Chicago.  I love everything about it, but being there and getting to see my best friends who I love so dearly, and walking the streets with Paul, who I am even more madly in love with, just made this such a great day.

It doesn’t take a lot to make me happy, ex: fluffy snow falling, a hug from a stranger, or the sightings of happy puppies all over the neighborhood.  This day was just jam packed with nothing but good things, and I loved every second of it (ok, except maybe when we stopped at CVS for some liquor and I drunkenly dropped a bottle of Malibu, shattering it all over the floor and slicing my finger open while trying to pick it up… blood and booze everywhere.  BUT I was laughing, and it is something I am sure I will never forget).

Cheers, with carpet booze, to great days with fabulous people in amazing cities! 

And time spend with my favorite man 🙂