New Mexico July 2015

A few weeks ago the dude and I took a trip to visit my Grandma down in the ‘land of enchantment’ – New Mexico! I have such fond memories of New Mexico (tons and tons of summers there as a child) and it felt so good going back with a clear and sound mind to experience all the things I know as a child I took for granted. I would move down there in a heartbeat too.

It was so great to get to spend time with my Grandma – she is like her own sweatshop with the amount of quilts she produces! But, she is such an inspiring and strong woman. She beat terminal ovarian cancer and now has 15 years in remission! She has blossomed in her own community, even after the death of my grandfather 10 years ago. Plus I LOVE being able to talk to her about crafts, life, and living a happy sober life (this lady has never even been to a bar!).

Since she lives very close to Carlsbad Caverns, the dude had never been to the caves and well… that’s what you do when you visit Artesia, NM! 😉

Here’s some pictures of our cave exploration.

this crazed handsome lunatic is about to go spelunking!

the entrance – can you imagine ‘discovering’ this and thinking ‘gee i guess i’ll head on down!’ CRAZY.

cave parts.

that crazed spelunker is actually pretty handsome. 😉

i swear i was having a good time.

the whale’s teeth. creeepy.

some kind of a lochness monster in the cave made of minerals.

nature is insane.

me and this giant creepy rock skeleton finger.

amazing detail of the stalactites

green lake room

get it in gear

wow. Well I guess with labor day this weekend, the summer is officially over. I, for one, had the best summer of my life. I learned so much about myself, conquered some really big personal mind-blocks, and did a bunch of cool shit. Plus I let go entirely of the control I felt I had on my life and in doing so was surprised to find what I’d hoped and dreamed for all along.

I’m a fan of lists so I guess I’ll just do a little list of the things I experienced this wonderful wonderful summer.

1. Rode 1000 + miles on my bike – yep from memorial day to labor day. I hit the 1k. SO RAD.


2. Learned to brew my own Kombucha, make my own Kale chips, and can my own shelf stable foods.


3. Celebrated 1 year sober.

4. Joined Title Boxing.

5. Ran the majority of days during lunch – with awe inspiring views.


6. Let go of bad self-esteem and closed the door on relationships that make me feel badly.

7. Opened an Etsy Store! Weeeee!

custom cake

8. Got tattooed.



9. Did the Whole30 Challenge with Lois.

10. Embarked on a new adventure with lots of motorcycles, antiques, and laughs.

It was a damn good summer. Now that it's over I need to focus and get it in gear for a productive and great Fall. That means, tightening up the budget, dedicating myself to 3 days of boxing a week, focusing at work and hustling for a promotion hopefully, and giving GFK + the etsy store my undivided attention.

lesssss dooooo this.


Lost in Oblivion

Well June has historically been a quiet blog month for me and this one is no real exception. I guess the summer is always strange for me. Don’t get me wrong this one is great so far. I’m loving riding my bike around the city (my arm is finally okay to ride – not okay for pushups/inversions), the warmer weather is so awesome, friends are wonderful, there’s LOADS of events, and just exploring. However, summer is always full of so much change for me. I never have a summer that doesn’t almost ‘redefine’ me. Two summers ago, my grandma died – the dude left me – then I decided to move to Chicago. Last summer, the dude left me again, I got sober and changed most of the things I felt/did/experienced. This summer is the first summer that I am genuinely happy with me, my life, and my goals.

Something I’m working on personally is living in the moment. I tend to be a very goal orientated person. I find that most of my past four years has been spent saying ‘when I graduate…’ ‘when I take the GMAT’ ‘when I get a job’ ‘when when when’…. Well, it’s a fine line to look forward to something, like a vacation or a special occasion, and to live in that moment – instead of this one. I find that my expectations become insatiable when I begin to focus on something in the future. I have to say it was quite the wake up call when I did not do well on the GMAT. To go from such a structured ideology of what my plan was going to be, to actual reality was my signal to slow down. There are so many opportunities and options out there. What is it that I really want? I’m working on that now, because my ‘master plan’ has changed greatly as of two weeks ago.

This moment is special. I am in the best shape I have ever been in, in my entire life – mentally, physically, spiritually. I am so full of excitement about my hobbies and my interests, sometimes I have to just tell myself to ‘simmer down buddy’. This moment is my life. I’m so proud of my life. I’m proud of who I am and I have to constantly remind myself that although I do have goals and that everything is a process, that the journey itself is something to relish in versus endure. I’m not sure why I’m writing something so personal here, I guess I just feel I should document this for myself. This blog is living journal for me and occasionally I’ll randomly read something from years back and just marvel at all the things that have happened. It’s important to remember that this moment is special.

Anyways, I finally understand what everyone was talking about when they said ‘summer in Chicago is so amazing.’ It really is and I’m so happy I gave myself the opportunity to enjoy it.

I’ve been listening to a lot of this song lately too. Oblivion by Mastodon. “Leaving you behind was my lonesome song”

And of course as always Pallbearer.

Summertime Chi.

from Adler Planetarium on my lunch run.

It’s officially summer here in Chicago and I am loving it! What a difference from last summer. Seriously, last year, I was still pretty nervous to explore and wasn’t into ‘outdoorsy’ or many ‘non-drinking’ things so finding out how many summer hobbies I now have has been awesome.

Let’s do a few words to recap the past few weeks.

Bought a bike – became obsessed with biking – fell off bike – waiting for arm to heal (still – sigh).
Studied 3 months for GMAT – took GMAT – that was pointless to study for 3 months.
Bought 3923748 avocados – made amazing avocado dishes/sauces/spreads/smoothies – enjoyed eating it all.

bike ride to Irving Park/Lincoln Park

There that’s a verbal description of my past two weeks. I’m bummed I can’t ride because I LOVE my bike. I’m not really that disappointed about the GMAT, my scores are not ‘super competitive’ but they aren’t laughable either so… I’m gonna take some time to heal both mentally and physically before I plot my next move or bike ride.

Let’s look at pictures. I have been loving walking around downtown during lunch and I have really enjoyed discovering the lake and many other awesome running/biking trails/paths. Pretty much me and Leopold love summer Chicago!

summertime grilling – hawaiian chicken thighs and apple cider coleslaw
i made my own laundry soap with this and borax! it is great!.
just a five minute walk from my office 🙂
al pastor tacos from the taqueria down the street. NOM
oh just making up my own shawl pattern NBD.
lunch time walk
oh hai.

okay there is more but I promise I’m gonna start updating again WAY more often now that the GMAT is done and summer is here!


Summer, Summer, Summer…..

The good, the bad, and the ugly.  This seems to always describe my summer perfectly.  This summer was full of kittens, sewing, a fabulous wedding, and a parting of ways.

Although I had a busy summer – that did not include any tanning (sorry porcelain skin BriLanna) – I am really excited to get Fall underway.  Why you may ask?  Well…..  For one my sewing skills are really starting to blossom into lots of little home crafts, some gifts for friends, and ultimately a vintage Vogue coat – I’m going to start the muslin prep for that next week!  Also I’m getting to head to a knitting retreat in November!  I have been trying to figure out what I can bring to work on for such a fun event.  Plus I get to go with my mom so we will have a fun mothers-daughters knitfest.


The most exciting news is that I get to go to Thailand to visit my little sister who is currently studying abroad there.  I CANNOT wait to get over there!  It’s been a fantasy for many years to visit and now I have the wonderful opportunity to do so!

But a close second is that I will soon be volunteering with a wonderful organization here in Chicago called Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly.  They do wonderful things for seniors that have become isolated and not social.  The events and schedules look like a BLAST!  Plus I have chosen to be ‘matched’ with a senior to visit in their home.  Obviously, anyone that knows me, knows that I grew up ‘visiting’ with seniors so this will be a real treat for me.  I really miss the perspective, honesty, and love that elderly people bring to my life.  Being relatively isolated myself here in Chicago (aside from crafts/the ugly tribe/work/and hobbies) I am really looking forward to having a new social scene.

What else can I tell you about my summer?  Well I have been listening to some great (in my opinion music) Ellie Goulding (a longtime fan of hers), Birdy, Lykke Li, Lana Del Rey, and my new FAVORITE Oh Land.

Also this weekend I have planned a trip to Milwaukee for a Tattoo Exhibit, an educational how-to at the Lomography store, and of course seeing the new movie The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.

How was everyone’s summer?  I’m glad to be blogging again – sorry I haven’t EVER been consistent – that’s changing too. Details to come.

Swim Suit Season

Swim suit season…..

I find the month before official swim suit season is the most exciting – the ‘oh god – it’s here that time of year where everyone wants to be almost naked in the sun’ feeling.  Swim suits obviously bring up an entire other issue of female body degradation and cementing ideals of what society thinks women should look like in water-safe underwear.  But, swimming and wearing a swim suit is a fun season activity for me, because I love swimming and lounging around in hot weather with the option of jumping in the water and I don’t really care what society has to say about it.  Obviously, looking at me I’m not the most ‘sun-friendly’ gal. 

 I like to stay shockingly pale for several reasons: 

  1. my tattoos stay vibrant and beautiful
  2. it prevents the horrible burn scenario that takes weeks to fully heal from
  3. it’s kind of my ‘thing’ now to be so pale – porcelain doll skin as it’s been coined
  4. I really don’t want skin cancer or in 15-20 years have a dermatologist carve chunks of skin and moles out of my body… cute right? sorry for detail

However, I’m really excited for swim suit season this summer.  For one, there’s a giant lake and tons of beaches in my new home!  I’ve only gone to the beach on vacation so it will be quite a treat to be able to go whenever I want!  But, I’m more excited because I found the motherload of vintage inspired swimsuits.  Modcloth is a really ‘cute’ or ‘chick’ website (as my German mentor would say).  Most of the time their clothes are a little too retro for me.  It gets kind of out of hand quickly with the bangs and tattoos to suddenly morph into one of those Rockabilly girls (not that there’s anything wrong with that ala Seinfeld).  Anyways most of the dresses and pants are just a little too much especially because they are expensive. Okay, but back to the swimmies. 


Glorious –  Mythical of the Wild Swimsuit 


Look at this one with sleeves! 




I. WANT. IT. ALL. – now in keeping with the theme of the rest of the site these suits are Expensive (with a capital E).  But they are far more cute than the Target swimmy aisle – $20+ for just bottoms at Target … NO effing WAY. Especially because Target suits NEVER fit well and I’ve had lots of awkward moments in the past in a Target brand suit. 

Now I know the cutest ones are going to sell out soon – it’s hard to justify buying a suit that is $100+ dollars, but I think with the close access to the beach (and hopefully a pool here or there – maybe a vacation to St. Petersburg this summer) I can actually justify it.  I mean at the end of the day I’m just stimulating the American economy and that above anything supports all the patriotic holidays that occur during swim suit season, right? 

I salute you America and your love of bikinis!