I am in you Chicago

Let’s see… How shall I begin?

Oh yes. Chicago! I am in you!

I’m in Chicago because Bobby’s work sent him here for a couple weeks and I thought, ‘Hey, why don’t I go to Chicago for a few days? It’s not like I’m in the middle of moving, remodeling a house, and stressing about math finals.’ Except that I am in the middle of moving, remodeling a house and stressing about math finals. But that’s another post. Today’s post is about Chicago and what I did today because I am pissed at myself for not blogging my Boston trip in detail (or at all, but hopefully I’ll get to it soon.)

Anywhozle…

Chicago. Well, Schaumburg, Illinois to be exact, which is just a small part of Chicago Land. The hotel we are staying in is SpringHill Suites and I love it. It really isn’t anything fancy but it feels homey and comfy. The decor is very mod and that’s something I love. Pictures are coming soon.

Since Bobby was still working today, I was on my own. I woke up at 9:30 central (which is 7:30 PST so in reality I was up quite early) and got myself together for the free breakfast they offered downstairs. Of course breakfast was over so I decided to forgo the most important meal of the day and go shopping.

Incidentally, our hotel is near Woodfield Mall which is the second largest mall in North America, I hopped in a cab and headed there. It was enormous! I mean, I knew it was big but I didn’t know it’d be THAT big. (that’s what she said, giggity). There were many stores that we have back home but a few I’d never been to. Z Gallerie is one of the coolest furniture stores I’ve ever been in. I loved it. I’ve been to Anthropologie’s website a few times and was extremely excited to finally get to browse in person. Unfortunately since I’m flying home I had to limit my purchases which ended up being some super cute shoes from Charming Charlie, a puzzle game from a store called Marbles that sold all kinds of brain games, a Harry Potter version of the board game Clue from a game and hobby shop, and a non-Chicago “souvenir” for a friend.

One rule I try to make for myself when I travel is to never eat at an establishment I can easily visit at home. I’m usually quite good at sticking to this rule but the mall didn’t have a lot of dining options despite the fact that it’s so damn big. I ended up at Ruby Tuesday and had turkey burger sliders. I know it’s a huge chain but in my defense, I’ve never eaten there and we don’t have them back home.

After shopping my day was at a bit of a stand still. I headed back to the hotel until Bobby got off work. The entire time I was reading and watching TV I was internally driving myself crazy thinking of everything I should be doing at home.

Bobby got back just after 5 and we headed out to dinner. We went to Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant. The place was really cool. They make all their own wine and barrels of it line the walls. I had a glass of Moscato and it was probably the best Moscato I’ve had (which may not mean anything since I’ve only had a few).

Dinner starts off with bread and butter at the table, but not just any bread. This was PRETZEL bread and it was fracking amazing. I made Bobby a promise to try out a few pretzel bread recopies.

We ordered chicken pot stickers as a starter and they were awesome. Pot stickers are usually hit or miss for me but these were the best I’ve had which is saying something.

On to the entrees. Bobby ordered pretzel crusted pork tenderloin and it was great. I’ve never had pork that Was so moist and flavorful. I ordered a delicious Chicken Saltimbocca and I enjoyed it but as usual Bobby won the ordering award because his was way better.

We shared a Creme Brûlée and it was good. I’ve only ever had it twice so I am no expert but it tasted good.

Weirdly enough, the highlight of the day was our visit to Ikea. I have never been to an Ikea before, I have been missing out! The Ikea here in Schaumburg, IL happens to be the largest in North America. Three stories of awesome! Bobby and I have dubbed Ikea our new favorite store and we will quickly be making a trip to Sacramento which holds the nearest Ikea to home.

Tomorrow we head to downtown Chicago.

It’s a brand new year

It’s that time again, the time to set goals and make resolutions.

I guess not everyone realizes what the difference between a goal and a resolution is. A goal is a specific thing that you’d like to accomplish, like losing so many pounds or cleaning your garage.  A resolution is something that you resolve to do every day. IE: eating healthier, being more compassionate, etc…

Lifehacker recently posted that “The key is to know which changes in your life should be attainable goals and which should be permanent resolutions.”  I think that when you begin a new year it is very important to be specific in your goals and resolutions.

This is one of the first years that I am excited about setting goals and making resolutions.

This past year was crazy for me in both good and bad ways.  I guess the only “bad” thing that happened was my grandpa passing away.  This hit me pretty hard.  We’d been expecting it for years but no one actually thought he’d ever really die.  As terrible as this loss was to my family and I, my grandpa passing away has impacted my life in so many positive ways.  Don’t get me wrong, I would certainly rather have my grandpa in my life but that would be selfish.  He was in so much pain during his last few years.  I think the only reason he held on so long was because of us.  He knew how hard my mom and I would take it when he passed away.  He expected us to fall apart.  I’m glad to say that I think we handled the loss of him well.  He’d be proud at how responsible and level headed we all were (most of the time).

I think I’m going to start just listing the things that I am thankful for from this year, that might make this seem less jumpy.

  • Thanks to my wonderful grandparents I now have the opportunity to go to school full time without having to work.  I am in awe of the people who can work a full time job and attend school at the same time, unfortunately, I am not one of those people.  Thanks to the financial support of my grandparents and the moral support of my family and fiancé, I am able to focus on completing my education. Now if only I was the perfect student 😉
  • My grandparents wanted to make sure that my mother, my sister, and I would be taken care of.  I can’t tell you how shocked I was to see how prepared they were.  I think that we had the easiest time ever closing my grandpa’s estate because he was so prepared.  I am so appreciative of that, I can’t even tell you.
  • 2011 was the year that Bobby and I were able to officially and completely crawl out of that deep abyss known as debt.  Thank God!
  • As bad as it sounds, I have to say I appreciate the fact that Bobby and I got to spoil ourselves a bit this year.  New bed, couch, dining room table, among other things that we probably shouldn’t have bought.  I am proud of the home that we have made together though, I finally feel like a grownup.  I think we have officially gotten rid of most of our hand-me-down furniture.  Nothing is wrong with hand-me-downs but it is an amazing feeling when you are able to purchase brand new things on your own for the first time.
  • I lost 67 pounds in 2011! Woot!  Everyone knows that my weight has been a huge struggle for me and this was the year that I was finally able to begin getting myself under control.  Hopefully 2012 holds many more pounds lost!
  • Travel travel travel!  I’ve never gotten to travel much in my life but this year was awesome!  In the summer my mom, sister, and I took a road trip down the California coast and saw some amazing things.  (It’s all somewhere in this blog if you’re curious) In late August Bobby and I got to visit Seattle, WA for the second time.  It was amazing! I’m finally starting to understand that city! Hopefully 2012 will bring another trip to Seattle and I already know it’s bringing a trip to Boston, MA!
  • I think this was a great year for me when it comes to hobbies.  I really found my grove with my earring design.  I haven’t done much in the last few months but as soon as we move (hopefully soon) I plan to get back in it!
  • This has been an interesting year in friendship.  I’ve reconnected with a few old friends (Amanda and Andrea) and I’ve grown closer to others (Brandy).  A friend also returned from a long stint in the Navy (Jeni).  My goal for this year is to have more people over and see some friends who I rarely see more (like Jeni, dammit!  We never see eachtoher, you may as well still be in Italy!)
  • One of the last awesome things to happen in the year (and probably the awesomest) is that Bobby and I are ENGAGED! Heck yes!  Six years in and I finally got him! J  He proposed on December 23rd at approximately 6:30pm.  It was very romantic!  He took me to the park where we shared our first kiss and in the exact same spot that he smooched he got down on one knee and popped the question.  We are extremely happy! Wedding date is currently planned to be June 29, 2013.

I’m almost positive I’ve forgotten things that I wanted to share but I can always blog again.  This post originally had intentions of discussing my goals and resolutions for 2012 but ended up just being a reflection of 2011.  I’m okay with that.  I have a lot I want to blog this year and hopefully, like I say every year, I’ll take advantage of this little spot on the internet and blog away.

Emo Girl

It’s hard to say how I’ve been feeling lately.  There are so many emotions running through me.  Sadness, excitement, fear, happiness, worry…you name it and I think I’ve felt it in the last month.

The house in Grass Valley has sold.  It is sad to think of someone else living in it.  My grandparents bought it while it was still being built so they are the only people who have ever resided in it  It’s also exciting because my mom gets to buy a new house and Bobby and I get to move.  I’m not really looking forward to moving, nor do I want to live in house in Sun Valley, but I am excited about the prospect of being able to paint and do whatever we want to the place.  I’ve already started planning what colors I want to paint everything.  I need to start shopping for ceiling fans for the offices and accessories for the living room.

As of today my surgery is a week away.  I am excited and scared.  That’s all I really have to say about that.

I’m trying to make myself into a more positive person.  I’ve started a “Book of Inspiring Things” I which I just add anything that makes me smile.  I’ve added quotes, photos, and magazine cut outs thus far.  I am also using it to be a bit creative.  I pulled out some water colors and crayons the other day which is a bit silly sounding but was actually quite relaxing.

I’ve decided to change my major once again. Bobby has been suggesting Graphic Design to me for a long time and I didn’t think it’d be good for me.  I’ve thought about it a lot more lately and realize how right Bobby really is.  I thought I really wanted to do web design but I realized that I enjoyed making the graphics and whatnot more than the coding.  I hated coding.  Not to mention this stupid CIT class I am taking is making me see how difficult it really would be for me.  I looked over the classes I would need to take and I am actually getting excited!  My mom of course is worried I’ll never find a real job with it but I think I’d be miserable if I continue to pursue Information Technology.  The only reason I am even going to school is so that I can eventually get a job that I won’t hate.

What’s in a Name?

My name is Amber Nichole.  My mom named me Amber because she thought it was unique and original; little did she know so did everyone else who had a baby girl in 1985.  My mom made the mistake of letting my dad choose my middle name.  I love my middle name but the story behind it is slightly blue.  He chose it from a “Men’s Magazine” if-you-know-what-I-mean.  He said he “picked the prettiest girl” in the magazine.  Thankfully I wasn’t a boy because my mom said my dad would have gotten to name me and his chosen name for a son would have been Thunder Dude. I really lucked out on that one.

I like my name.  Over the years I have met several Ambers born around the same time as I was, and several of them had the same middle name as well which always surprises me.  Sometimes I don’t feel like an Amber but I couldn’t tell you what name would fit me better.  The name Amber means sky in Hindi, is a golden color, and the name for fossilized tree sap.  I’ve known all these things for many years and they all kind of bore me.  I always wanted a cool name that meant something like “Goddess of the world” or “Fiery beauty”.  Since the name Amber never really felt special or original to me I have worked hard to be unique in my own way.  I’m not the most distinctive Amber I know, but I’m me and I think that my name has a lot to do with that.  In my experience meeting many different Ambers over the years, a good majority of them are bitchy.  Since I don’t want to be singled out as a bitch myself, I have also made an effort not to be like them,  most of the time successfully.

*written for my EPY class*

26 Life Lessons You Should Learn Before 26

I’m not 26 yet but I saw something online called about 26 life lessons you should learn before you are 26 and I thought that it was really good. I decided that I would share the things that I think everyone should know by 26.  Some of them are things that I myself haven’t quite mastered but I know they are important and I’m working on them.

  1. Being an adult can be fun when you act like a child.  (At appropriate times!)
  2. Love has nothing to do with looks, but everything to do with time, trust, and interest.
  3. Laughing, crying, joy and anger… all are a vital.  And you can’t avoid them.
  4. The greatest truths in life are discovered when you least expect it.
  5. Greed and selfishness will bury even the luckiest people eventually.
  6. Bad things do happen to good people.
  7. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in.
  8. Uncertainty is caused by a lack of knowledge, hesitation is the product of fear, and both are good.
  9. Time heals all wounds… regardless of how you feel right now.
  10. Most of the time what you are looking for is right in front of you.
  11. Your health is your life.  Something you need to realize before its too late.
  12. Chance is a gift, so act on chance when given the opportunity.
  13. Kindness and hard work will take you further than intelligence.
  14. People deserve a second chance, but not a third. I’ve learned this the hard way many times.
  15. Marry your best friend.  I certainly plan to.
  16. Take lots of pictures, no matter how inconvenient it seems.  Someday you’ll be really glad you did.
  17. Money makes life easier only when the money is yours free and clear.  Credit may solve the immediate issue but you’ll regret it later.
  18. Carelessness and laziness is the root of failure.
  19. Your actions now create memories you will reminisce and talk about in your elder years. Make them count!
  20. Stepping outside of your comfort zone will put things into perspective from an angle you can’t grasp now.  This one is especially hard for me but I’m working on it.
  21. Motivation comes in short bursts.  Act while it’s hot or it’ll never happen.
  22. Purposely ignoring the obvious is like walking backwards toward the enemy.
  23. Taking ownership of failure builds the foundation for success.
  24. First impressions are completely worthless 50% of the time.
  25. Personal glory lasts forever.
  26. If you never act, you will never know for sure.

Homeward Bound

Our final day of vacation was mostly traveling.  We started the day early as usual around 7am and packed up and headed out.  The first stop was to a grocery store to get some sourdough bread everyone knows that fresh sourdough that has been made near the ocean is the best every.  After the store we went to a Black Bear Diner for breakfast.  We have a Black Bear in Reno and it’s always been good, the one in Monterey was just as good.  When breakfast was over we hit the road.

My mom wanted to stop in Vacaville to check out the outlet stores that they have.  We stopped in at the Lancome store, Crocs store, Claires, and the Jelly Belly Outlet.  I don’t think the prices were really that outlet-like but it was fun to shop a bit.  At the Jelly Belly Factory we we’re like kinds in a candy store (haha) because they had so much Jelly Belly merchandise.  I’m not a huge jelly bean fan but it was fun to buy gifts for our friends and it was just a fun store.

Lunch on the drive home was In N Out and there’s really nothing you can complain about there.  After lunch we drove on towards Rocklin, CA.  We stopped in Rocklin because we wanted to give my mom’s Uncle Lenny and Aunt Patti the souvenir we bought them.  We didn’t stay very long but it was good to see Uncle Lenny.

More driving…

We stopped in Grass Valley at my grandpas house because my mom left here electric cigarette charger there.  We ran in an grabbed a few things and got back on the road.  We usually drive highway 20 home from my grandpas house and while we were on it we got stuck in a downpour of rain, the first bad weather on the trip.

We finally hit Reno around 6:30pm and stopped and grabbed some dinner and brought it back to my house. We ate, we relaxed, and them mom and Alicia went home and our vacation was over.

This trip was so much fun.  I’m very glad we did it. There was a lot of driving and a lot of picture taking.  We made the unanimous decision that we have to travel more.

I don’t think I’ve taken enough pictures

Our morning started out rough. We were all exhausted from our busy week and my bad ankle was swelling for all our walking around. We weren’t able to make it to Hearst Castle so we decided to get an early start to Monterey. Before leaving we had breakfast at the hotel, nothing fancy, eggs and bacon for mom and I and French toast for Alicia.  We showered and packed and were on the road by 9:30am.

Highway 1 is the road that goes along the Pacific Ocean all the way up the coast. I guess it’s pretty rare for Highway 1 to be completely open but we were lucky today as the only closure in our way had opened up this past week.  We didn’t have to be in Monterey until 4pm so we made a few stops along the way. We had read at the hotel that Elephant Seals come to San Simian beaches often but according to the calendar the hotel had they were gone till July. Even though we knew this we stopped at the spot to take some scenic pictures and we lucked out with a bunch of Elephant Seals hanging out during their molting. I took a ton of pictures of them. Actually, I took a ton of pictures of everything today.

As we drove up Hwy 1 it was easy to see why it closed to often. It is a very winding road and their are mountains on one side and ocean on the other. We could see the spots where landslides have occurred and there was a lot of construction work being done on it. Some of it seemed to be for repairs from previous slides and some for prevention.  We made several stops along Hwy 1 and I took all these great pictures.

When we pulled into Big Sur everything was beautiful! No ocean view but lots of greenery. We decided to fill up on gas and stopped at a “Mini Chevron”. This place was adorable and frightening at the same time…

Super cute right?

The price of cuteness is about $5 a gallon

But Big Sur sure is pretty

By the time we reached Monterey is was about 12:30pm, we called the hotel to see if we could get an early check in to drop off our things and luckily our room was ready. There was nothing fancy about the room, it was nice but not outstanding. The view from the room however, A-freaking-mazing!

Wow.

So we drooled over the view for a bit and then decided it was time for lunch. We went to Fisherman’s Wharf and looked around a bit. The Wharf was pretty cool. All kinds of things to do. We stopped at a shop and bought some souvenirs. I found a restaurant online called “The Fisherman’s Grotto” that claimed to have the best clam chowder in the world so we decided to try it.
The clam chowder was pretty damn good and so was the bread basket they give to every table. People have told me that sourdough bread is better by the coast and I didn’t think anything of it until tonight but wow- it’s pretty amazing. We also has some roasted garlic to put on bread and since I’m a huge garlic fan that was great. I ordered a cold crab sandwich that consisted of a huge pile of fresh crab meat on sourdough bread with just a little mayo. It was awesome! The best crab I’ve ever had! It was so fresh tasting. My mom ordered lobster which was way bigger than anything you could get at home for the same price. Alicia had a burger that looked pretty good too.

Fisherman’s Wharf

Shops at the Wharf

 After our big lunch we made our way back to the car and decided to take the “17 Mile Drive”.  17 Mile Drive is basically a stretch of toll road that goes on for 17 miles. When you go in the gate you get a map that tells you about points of interest on the drive. It’s pretty nice because each of the points is pointed out with signs. I took a ton of pictures as usual!

The drive took a little over an hour then we headed back to our hotel. We basically stared at the gorgeous  sunset and relaxed with some pizza from the hotel.


We plan on going to the Monterey Bay Aquarium tomorrow morning and then to head in the direction of home. Mom wants to stop at the Vacaville outlet stores and then maybe stay in Grass Valley for the night before heading home. I’ll let you know!
Now, I am going to bed to the sound of the waves crashing outside my window. Goodnight!