For the last few years, I slowly learned to fully comprehend and understand James Baldwin when he said:
“To be a negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”
For the last few years, I slowly learned to fully comprehend and understand James Baldwin when he said:
“To be a negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”
Last month we went on a jam-packed family vacation to Illinois, Tennessee, Washington D.C./Virginia, and a brief stop in Indiana. It was three weeks filled of some much needed fun and love. We spent every single dime we saved plus some, by the time we got back home, so it’s safe to say we had a great time LOL. We spent the first week in Illinois, two days in Tennessee, five days in D.C./Virginia, and the remaining five-ish days in Illinois.
We got to see my beautiful little cousin get married on October 15th to my new cousin, Justin, and as anticipated, it was an amazing time. Jordyn was the adorable flower girl who made Mommy and Daddy so proud she walked down the aisle all by herself. She was saying “uh-oh” as she stepped on the flowers while walking down the aisle LOL. Then of course we partied hard as any family should at the reception. We were all so sore the following day from all the dancing we did.
We went to Knoxville, Tennessee as a mid way stop on our drive to D.C., and stayed with our awesome friends, the Hawkins. We all used to be based in Montana together (they were lucky enough to escape ha!) and we haven’t seen each other since 2014. Our babies finally got to meet and quickly became the best of friends. They took us around town for some good ol’ sight-seeing and Tennessee culture. We also got to hang with/meet one of Kris’ friends, Matt, and his sweet boys. It was an all around great time!
Those of you who know me well know I absolutely LOVE Washington D.C. If it was in my power we would live there. I love the city and surrounding areas. One of them being Alexandria, Virginia. Kris’ Dad a.k.a Jordyn’s “Dad-Dad” met us there for the last two days which made an amazing trip even better. It was nice to go somewhere and be tourists on an actual vacation. We ate at delicious restaurants, got a tour of the Pentagon, visited the new National Museum of African American History and Culture, as well as, the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. We met famous people, visited a majority of the national memorials and monuments, and I even got to see an old college friend. We are already planning on going back for a follow-up vacation when we get the chance. It was Kris’ first time in D.C. so I’m happy he enjoyed himself!
On our way back to Chicago we stopped in Indianapolis to visit our friends the, Wilcoxs. We were able to meet their beautiful new addition to their family, Averie, as well as see her beautiful sister, Alanna, again. We were even able to see Alaiya’s memorial in the front room and visit her. (We miss you babygirl) It was a good time as always. Jordyn and Alanna had a ball playing together too. At one point Alanna had Jordyn on the ground with her arms behind her back “arresting” her. In case you can’t tell, Alanna’s Dad, Brandon, is a police officer hahaha. I wish we all lived closer to one another, but even if it was a small amount of time we spent together, it was a great time.
When we arrived back in Chicago we were all beyond TIRED. We had originally planned to hang with friends the last few days, but as it has seemed to become a tradition, Jordyn and I caught colds. (My Grandma and Mom are the real MVPs for nursing us back to health lol) We were out of commission for two of the four days. We did however win tickets to the Chicago Bulls season opener, the night before we left back for Montana, thanks to my awesome Mommy’s nomination, and my friend John’s huge heart. The Bulls won their game and we all won Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s during the game. It’s safe to say we went out with a bang! Lol.
As much fun as we all had on vacation we couldn’t WAIT to get back in our own beds and back to our “normal” every day life routine. Yesterday made an official week of us being back in Montana and I’m already anxious to leave for vacation somewhere else…ha! Thankfully, Thanksgiving is two and a half weeks away, and we’ll have family and friends in town. Followed by Christmas when we’ll have family in town again. Life is great and I can’t/won’t complain.
I dubbed the month of November: #ThankfulNovember and it’s only right I share how thankful I am for our vacation this year. I’m thankful we’re blessed enough to be in a position to take family vacations, have so many people to love/love us, and create beautiful memories together. I’m also thankful for safe travels to and from our many destinations. What is there NOT to be thankful for? Thank you, Lord!
It may be November 4th, but it’s never too late to say, “Happy November”, right? I didn’t think so. Life has been crazy and hectic since returning from our three-week vacation last week, Saturday. Somehow, no matter how much I do, I still feel like I’m twelve steps behind. I will eventually catch up and be back to my “normal” in the next week or so. My blog post this upcoming Sunday will be an awesome recap of our vacation for those of you who would like details. 🙂
I’ve decided for the month of November, at least 90% of my blog posts, will be around the theme of thankfulness. Sometimes we misunderstand the idea of thankfulness and I want to do my best to fix it within myself and those of you who love to read my posts. We tend to wait for major events to happen to be thankful instead of being thankful for the little everyday things we take for granted. I’m going to do my best to highlight what’s important and to be thankful for all of them.
To all of my Chicago family and friends, I hope those of you who were able to attend the Chicago Cubs victory parade today had an amazing time, and remember this forever. Today’s crowd of 5 million registered as the 7th largest gathering in history. Way to set the bar for everyone else, Chicago! Fly the W and Go Cubs, Go!
I hope everyone has a great weekend, a safe weekend, filled with tons of laughs and love!
Happy and blessed Sunday, everybody! I hope you all enjoyed your first Sunday of September 2016. It’s hard to believe it’s already September isn’t it? We’re officially 75% done with the year 2016. I know, I freaked out a little when I sat back and thought about it in terms of percentages too. Anyway…Read More
It’s interesting how as we get older, and major life changes such as death occur, we’re reminded how influential many people have been in our lives. Some of these people we’ve never even met before, but we can remember certain points in our lives when their presence, however they presented themselves, changed our emotions and maybe even our lives.
I say this because reading the news about Doug Banks passing away this morning truly broke my heart. Growing up in the surrounding Chicago suburbs I remember listening to the Doug Banks Radio Show daily, on v103, in middle and high school. As if his voice and laugh weren’t memorable on their own, his sense of humor and ability to connect with his audience are what made him one of the legends of radio personalities. I remember going through the typical teenage drama back in the day and feeling like his jokes and music selections were specifically picked for me and my issues at the time. I’ve also always been raised listening to and appreciating old school music. His show allowed me to hear the best old school music on a daily basis without having to search and listen to it myself.
Since reading about his passing this morning, I’ve been reading the captions and comments on the photo memories of Doug Banks, and I’ve learned that he made A LOT of people feel like the friend they never met, but always knew what to do and say to make life better. A lot of people are already missing hearing him on their after work commute.
I will pray for Doug’s family and their healing throughout the process. Thanks for the great memories, quality personality and radio, and more importantly the laughs.
R.I.P. Doug Banks.
Dearest PD Girl,
Today marks one month since you have been gone. You went on to glory exactly one year to the day after meeting Jordyn for the first time in person. I believe it’s safe to say September 3rd will always be remembered as a cherished and emotional day for many people who were so close to you. If I am being completely honest it still hasn’t quite hit me that you’re gone. I would imagine this is what people mean when they talk about a disconnection between our hearts and our minds. My heart knows you’re gone, but I don’t think my mind has caught up just yet.
In the midst of all the craziness and planning going on while we were home, believe it or not I only cried twice. You would be proud of me! LOL. The truth is, I didn’t cry as much, or become as emotional, because all I could think about was how HILARIOUS you were. I was so busy replaying memories of you doing and/or saying funny things I couldn’t do much outside of laugh. I know you saw how loved you truly were by the number of people who showed up to your memorial, and had so many beautiful and funny stories to share about you. I didn’t even realize how many of my own family members and friends you had touched over time until the beautiful condolence messages and phone calls poured in.
A month sounds like a long time, but in actuality it’s much shorter than we realize. Four weeks translates to thirty days, and reminds us how fresh everything still is, and will be for some time. But it’s okay for us to be sad sometimes. It’s okay to let out a long cry or spend a day to ourselves in deep thought, because that is what you do when you lose someone who has made a major impact on your life. However, to remember you, and the spirit of who you were, I am going to share some of my favorite P.D. Girl memories with my readers. I even have a few pictures to go with some of these memories. (I don’t wanna hear it PD Girl! I can hear you cursing me out for sharing your pictures with strangers LOL)
*These next few stories don’t have pictures to accompany them but they’re just as hilarious*
I could go on for days telling stories and reminiscing about how much you were and still are a part of my life. I had my own relationship with you and I am so thankful for that. I loved being able to talk to you about any and everything going on in my life and knowing you would give me straight to the chase, honest advice. That advice although honest, was always filled with love. When we cleaned your closet out I took this sweater of yours with me as my PD moment. It fits and looks perfect.
I will miss being able to give you forehead kisses when I see you or listen for one of your many hilarious comments about any and everything, but I’m at peace because I know you’re at peace. You are in a place where there is no more pain and suffering, but tons of love and happiness. Thanks for being an amazing extended Grandma, and beautiful person to know. You have blessed my life by being in it and for that and many other things I want to say, thank you. We all love and miss you more than words could ever express. At the end of it all I just want you to know you will always be and I will always love my PD Girl <3
When we went back home this summer for our daughter’s first birthday, I knew I needed to get some memorable pictures. So far all of our beautiful professional family pictures have been taken in Montana, but I wanted to have some done in Illinois since it’s where my husband and I are from. Well, I took it one step further and decided if we’re going to have pictures done in Illinois, the only way to do them correctly is with the greatest city in the world’s skyline behind us. We chose to have the pictures taken at North Ave Beach and the pictures are PERFECT!
If you live in the surrounding Chicagoland area, and are looking to have photos taken, I highly recommend Moonhouse Productions. Gretchen is the photography at Moonhouse who took our wedding photos in 2013 in addition to our summer family photos. She is truly amazing at what she does.
Here are my favorite shots from our summer 2015 family photos:
I hope you all enjoy the rest of your summer with your family and friends as much as I have 🙂
As I’m sure most of you have noticed, I disappeared from the blogging world within the last month. No need to worry, I took a break to enjoy some much-needed vacation time back home in Illinois with my family and friends. I promise I will try not to take such a long break again, because I’m sure you all missed me as much as I missed you, right? Right!
We decided to take the train home because driving 20+ hours in a car with an almost one year old was asking for trouble, just as taking two, two-hour flights was out of the question. The train takes a LONG 27 hours to get from Montana to Chicago, but it was seriously PERFECT. Jordyn was able to walk around, make friends with the passengers and gaze out of the window in amazement of everything passing by us. As a new Mom of a newly walking/mobile baby, I highly recommend this way of travel if it’s an option for you. My husband and I are very happy we made this decision.
We mainly went back home to celebrate Miss Jordyn’s 1st birthday with family and friends. On her actual 1st birthday, June 18th, 2015, we took her first trip to Medieval Times with family and extended family. The show was great, (although our knight kept losing) the food was yummy, and our waiter was awesome. Jordyn even received a rose directly from our knight during the show. It was adorable, and he was such a gentleman for giving it to her considering all of the other people in there screaming for the rose themselves. We took this awesome picture before we were seated, and Jordyn’s Godfather, Jesiah, bought us the keep sake picture to bring home with us. I’m in the process of finding the perfect frame for it to hang it up in the house. It sums up our family perfectly! LOL.
We were also lucky enough to have been home when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup Championship game at the United Center, which means, we got to go to the Blackhawks parade! My husband, my sisters and I all went together and it was such a great time. There are few things more electrifying than getting to celebrate a huge win like theirs with your favorite city (the best city) in the entire world. When the buses finally got to our section, I’m sure we all went temporarily deaf from the intense level of screaming we were surrounded by and engaged in. Being downtown Chicago for the parade even brought on some college nostalgia for myself. I spent so much of my college career walking those same downtown city blocks and riding those CTA trains and buses with loved ones. It made me that much more proud to not have just graduated from a college in a city as amazing as Chicago, but more thankful for even the tiniest of memories such as those in this awesome life of mine.
Jordyn’s birthday party was a huge success. It’s always wonderful to see so many faces you usually only get to see once a year or less. She received more blessings, love, and presents we could have ever imagined. When I tell you this is one extremely LOVED little girl, I mean it. Her party took place in one of the popular forest preserves on the north-side, and the weather held up perfectly during the actual hours of the party. It wasn’t too hot, and it didn’t rain until an hour after the party was over. The food was great, the company was even better, and the love from everyone was the best. My Aunt Gloria (who makes the absolute best cakes in the world – just ask the birthday party guests) made Jordyn’s Sesame Street themed cake and it was beyond perfect.
The day after Jordyn’s birthday party was not only Father’s Day/My husband’s first Father’s Day, but the 14th annual Ricky Byrdsong Race in Evanston, IL. This was the first year since Kris and I have been together that he was in town and able to attend. It has been a tradition in my family since my best friend’s (Kelley) Dad was killed back in 1999 to participate, support, and volunteer at the race. It only gets better each year. The YWCA Evanston/North Shore does a fantastic job each year with everything from the great t-shirt designs to the perfect entertainment. The race starts at 7:30 a.m. on the dot. Considering we all had a late night hanging out downtown Chicago at Dave and Busters the night before, the initial 6 a.m. alarm was a little rough, but everyone had a great time as we always do. I told them they’d enjoy themselves once we made it out there and they did! Kris, Jesiah, Andye, Jordyn, and I even walked the 5K. A.K.A. we walked and Jordyn slept the entire stroller ride.
We decided to do a few new activities while we were home this time around as well. We went to Xtreme Trampoline with my sisters and cousin one evening. We paid for two hours of jumping time because it seemed to be a reasonable amount of time and the pricing wasn’t too bad. However, we jumped for 45 minutes before we were all laid out on the side of the trampolines trying to catch our breath and regain energy to jump again LOL. If you’re ever looking for a great leg and cardio workout, find your nearest indoor trampoline place and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
Kris and I even had a date night that was finally out of the box of dinner and/or a movie. Kris has wanted to do indoor skydiving for quite some time, and we so happened to pass the iFly Chicago – Rosemont complex on several occasions driving back and forth to/from my Mom’s house to/from Kris’ Mom’s house. A family friend also recommended it while we were home so we decided to try it out. Kris was surprised when I told him I wanted to do it as well, because when I say I am the least risk taking-est person you will ever meet…I’m NOT exaggerating. I don’t even ride roller-coasters because they scare the crap out of me to give a little perspective on how big of a chicken I am, or as I like to say, I just appreciate my feet touching the ground. Well, let me tell you, I had SO much fun and would recommend for everyone to give it a try at least once!
My second favorite part of going home is the endless options for unbelievably delicious FOOD! I miss having so many of these food places around me 24/7. I’m pretty sure I cried about it at least twice while I was pregnant last year and unable to eat the food I was craving. Whatever – don’t judge me. Anyway, I have way too many food places to name to even begin to give you a glimpse of how much I eat when I am home. However, I do have very specific places I absolutely MUST get while I am home: Giordanos, (it makes me sad how many people will never have great quality pizza in their lifetime) Claires Korner, (because Jamaican food – DUH) Buffalo Joes, (single order and cheddar chips are no where near as good anywhere else) Portillos (Italian beef dipped with hot and sweet peppers, a cheese fry, and strawberry shake – you’re welcome). The other chain food honorable mentions are: Chipotle, Dunkin Donuts, and Potbelly. I was way too excited to devour my food when I received it from any of these locations, but here goes a glimpse for you.
In all the fun and amazing things we did while we were home, my favorite part of going home is always being able to see and spend time with my family. From BBQs at Uncle Tony’s house, playing UNO in my Mom’s dining room, to having brunch after church, these are the memories I will hold onto more than others. I want Jordyn and her future siblings to grow up knowing and loving our family and extended family as much as I do. As I’ve stated in previous blog posts, I come from a very large family. Not only are we large, but we’re a close family as well. Which makes it that much harder to live so far away from them. When I say family, I mean my closest friends as well. Most of my friends have become my family in the last few years and I couldn’t be more thankful to be surrounded by so many awesome people I’m related to by blood and by choice. Many people go through life without either of those options and here I am with more than I can keep up with. I often tell people, I know without a doubt there is a God, because it is not by chance I am living this life. It is not by chance my little family has so many people we can turn to and support us in our times of need. It is not by chance when a new milestone takes place in my life or theirs, we become that much closer to one another. And it wasn’t by chance I was born into the world’s most beautiful, greatest, loving, supportive, strong-willed, and FUN family!
As always you were good to us Illinois. We’ll be back for a brief round two in mid September. Have a happy and blessed Sunday lovely people!
Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone! I am having an all Mexican food themed appetizer, dinner, and dessert meal this evening. Our neighbors will join us, in addition to, bringing some Mexican themed beverages and side dishes. In the spirit of today I figured I would share what I am making for dinner, tonight, as well as one of my favorite Mexican dishes to make and eat. That dish would have to be, Verde Enchiladas. To be more specific, the “verde enchiladas con pollo” from La Unica, on the north-side of Chicago. The first time I went to La Unica, was for my friend, Brittany’s birthday, I believe sophomore year of college. It was a surprise when we arrived at the location, I knew it was a grocery store, but had no clue there was a restaurant in the back. A restaurant that serves multiple Hispanic culture types of food. And you know the food is legit when the entire menu is in Spanish too.
Unfortunately, living in Montana means in order to get my authentic Mexican food fix, I had to figure out how to make it myself. I’ve searched for months to find a decent verde enchilada recipe, and thankfully taking a little piece of each recipe, in addition to adding my own ingredients, I have come up with a recipe that is pretty close to La Unica’s. To make this recipe you will need:
1 lbs tomatillos
2-3 chicken breasts
12 corn tortillas
1/2 white onion split into 1/4ths
1/2 block queso fresco shredded
1 tsp garlic (2 cloves)
1/2 jalapeno pepper
3/4 cup corn oil (1 Tbsp per tortilla)
2 Tbsp grapeseed oil (or oil of your choice)
Seasonings for chicken
Mexican creme (to drizzle on top of finished meal)
In a bowl, clean your chicken with vinegar, rinse and drain all liquid. You will now season your chicken with your desired seasonings. I don’t measure my seasonings for the most part, but if I had to estimate how much of each to use, I would say use at least one teaspoon of each seasoning on your chicken breasts. I highly recommend using Adobo as one of your seasonings.
Now, you will heat your 2 Tbsps of grapeseed oil, in a pan over medium high heat, and brown your chicken breasts on both sides until both sides are golden brown. Once both sides have been browned, turn the heat down to medium-low heat and let the chicken breasts cook on the lower heat for about 20 minutes.
While your chicken is cooking, peel the husks off of your tomatillos and clean them in a bowl with warm water and vinegar until all of the stickiness from the husks has been cleaned off. Fill a medium sized pot a little over half way full with water, add your teaspoon of garlic to the water, and bring to a boil. Once the water is bubbling up to begin to boil, add your tomatillos to the water and let them boil until they are a pale green color. I usually let them cook for about 10-15 minutes.
Once the tomatillos are finished cooking add them to a blender along with half of your white onion, jalapeno pepper, and cilantro. Blend all of these ingredients together until they are smooth like a verde sauce. If you want your sauce to be a little thinner, add some of the water from the pot you boiled your tomatillos in to the blender. Add salt and/or pepper to taste. I prefer to use sea salt for my verde sauce.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Your chicken should be done cooking by now. Take the chicken breasts out of the pan and put them on a large plate. Since they are still hot, take two forks or a fork and a knife, and shred the chicken on the plate until all chicken breast pieces have been shredded. Sit your shredded chicken to the side and let it cool off a little bit. While you are waiting for the chicken to cool off, in a separate pan on medium high heat, put a tablespoon of the corn oil in the pan, and let it heat up. Once the oil is hot, you are going to quickly put your tortilla in the oil on both sides for about 10-15 seconds. You want to be sure you aren’t cooking them until they are hard, because you won’t be able to roll the tortillas up without them breaking them if you do.
After you have done this for all 12 tortillas, stack them on a plate and set to the side next to your chicken. You will not shred your queso fresco, and cut your remaining white onion into pieces. Place both items in separate bowls and place next to your shredded chicken and shredded queso freso.
Get a 9×9 baking dish and wipe the inside of it with corn oil using a paper towel to help prevent any unnecessary sticking. Take a tortilla, place the desired amount of shredded chicken inside, roll it tightly, and lay the enchilada in the baking dish with the open end of the tortilla face down. Repeat and do the same for all of the tortillas. If your 9×9 baking dish is like mine, you will need to cut your last enchilada in half and place the two pieces in the corner of the baking dish.
Now that all of your enchiladas are rolled and placed in the baking dish, pour your verde sauce over them. I like my enchiladas with plenty of sauce so I use all of the sauce prepared. If you don’t like yours as “saucy” I would gradually add the verde sauce until you have the desired amount covering your enchiladas. Put your enchilada dish in the oven for 10 minutes. Once the 10 minutes are over, take the dish out of the oven and add your shredded cheese on top of the enchiladas. Place the dish back in the over for 5 more minutes, or until all of the cheese has been melted. When the dish is done take it out of the oven, sprinkle your chopped up onions on top of the dish, and enjoy! 🙂
I don’t know if I have mentioned it before, but I have realized how much I appreciate and love jazz music within the last few years. One of my absolute favorite artists of the jazz genre is Billie Holiday a.k.a. Lady Day, herself. She had such a smooth and sultry singing voice, and I only wish I could have been around to see her perform live. Not to mention she was absolutely beautiful. It’s amazing how someone with such a rough past was able to bring such beauty to others using her voice. There is an awesome, and historically known, jazz lounge in Chicago one of my roommates and I discovered in college called, the Green Mill. Many well-known jazz artists have performed at this lounge, and as I’m sure you have guessed, Lady Day was definitely one of them. As if this lounge couldn’t be more amazing, I found out Billie had performed there on multiple occasions and it’s been my favorite ever since. 🙂
Billie Holiday would have turned 100 years old, last week, on April 7th, and social media celebrated her with the hash-tag #BillieAt100. I added this particular song as my contribution to the hashtag remembering such an amazing songstress. This is my favorite Billie Holiday song and would like to share it with those of you who may have never heard it before, or would like to take another listen.