365 Days


31,622,400 seconds. 527,040 minutes. 8784 hours. 365 of the most amazing days of my life.


In just a few short hours, you will turn one. You, my darling daughter, have changed my world. I was so impatient for you to be born, maybe I already knew what was in store for me. When your daddy announced, “It’s a girl!” through his tears of joy, my heart exploded. I held you close to my chest for the first time and was overcome with emotion. Pure joy. A greater love than I can even try to explain. An overwhelming sense of responsibility to be YOUR mother, for you need and deserve the best. HAPPINESS.


Driving you home from the hospital, the first few days at home as new parents, struggling and running into problems trying to get you to effectively nurse… we were sleep-deprived and filled with doubt about everything. Hormones, a quick trip back to the ER for me due to preeclampsia related high blood pressure, healing from childbirth. It was all new and sometimes scary, but none of that mattered because we had YOU. Since the moment of your birth, you have continued to make me better and make me grow.



Feeding. Snuggling. Holding you. Bath time. Getting just a handful of hours of sleep per day. Worrying about everything you did. Going (more often than I will ever admit to Dad) to check if you were breathing. Staring endlessly at your perfection. Your first smile. Your first laugh- which happened just when I needed it, on the night before I went back to work. The first time you rolled over. The first time you were really sick and had a high fever- I would have done anything to take that feeling away from you, and it was so hard to watch you suffer. When you were able to sit up by yourself. When you started to crawl. Your first word, which was “Mama”… my heart just kept exploding and growing. We celebrated these little milestones with such enthusiasm and sincerity, because you ARE everything to us.


You are so special. Your smile is quick to light up your gorgeous face, and you charm every single person you meet. You are smart, so so smart. You are caring and kind, I can already see these traits shining brightly within you… the way you snuggle up to someone you love, your desire to wave to everyone and make their day, how you share things even at this young age, when you shake with excitement and come as fast as you can move your body to me for a hug and kiss when I get home from work. You impress me beyond comprehension with your beautiful soul, and I can’t wait to watch you continue to grow into the person I can already see.


Eleanor Grace, simply put- you are my world. I never would have guessed how much being your mother would change me, how I would cry my eyes out the night before my baby girl turns 1 year old, how I would become totally transformed as a woman, a wife, a person and (most importantly) a new mom. You are the greatest gift. And I will love you forever.




Last Week As AJB

Omg I can’t believe I’m getting married in one week! I’ve had so many super fun wedding related events this past month… It’s so overwhelming to have everything be about you! I have some truly amazing women in my life that have made me feel so special🙂

Ok, let’s start with the bridal shower! My mom, sister and MOH threw me an incredible shower- it was seriously so perfect!

The food was delish! Lemon basil orzo boats, almond chicken salad sandwiches, some freakishly amazing salad, fruit and donut kabobs, chocolate dipped cream cookies… It was all so good! And everything was decorated perfectly, of course. They all worked so hard on everything, and it really showed!

There was also a mimosa bar, because it’s not a good bridal shower without some champs!😉 the names of the drink combos were so cute! And I’m gonna use that drink dispenser for the wedding, it’s so great!

And a bridal shower is truly about the wonderful women that have come to support your upcoming marriage and “shower” you with love and gifts… So, photo montage!

Side note about my outfit… It’s another Rent The Runway success! Both the dress and earrings were RTR finds, and I broke in my fabulous wedding shoes so I could get more use out of those beauties! The dress was awesome, it was a shimmery off-white that was perfect for a shower! And the earrings were only $5 to rent, can’t beat that!

Love my fam!

Me and my god-mama🙂

Stroika gals…Polish power!

Me and my bestie!

My fantastic friend (and photographer!) got us a canvas of one of our favorite engagement pics!

So I really received so many amazing gifts… It was truly overwhelming, I’m so blessed!! And I can’t wait to have lots of dinner parties and to bake a bunch of treats, I’m totally set! I also got the crown jewel for any baker’s kitchen- an AQUA KITCHEN AID! 

Moving on to the next event… My bach! My fabulous MOH organized the best weekend ever. We went up to Tomah, WI and rented a cabin on a lake, er, a pond that was called a lake, lol. It was so much fun, I have the best friends and it was so great to spend a whole weekend with them. This is how Andi and I pack for 2 nights away…ha!

Here’s the Haven @ Birch Lake Pond!

(View from our beach!)

How cute is all this deco?!?

Seriously, Andi knocked it outta the park!! All of our meals were catered by her super sweet MIL, so we had delish gourmet meals all weekend and didn’t have to worry about cooking! Thanks Paulette! 

Friday night we had some wine (just a bit, see below) and snacks and chatted a ton and they threw a lingerie night for me! No pics of that though… Ok, just this one…

Ignore my super scary eyes!! Just modeling one of the sexier pieces of lingerie I got… Supersize undies plastered with pics of mine and Kristine’s former boss… LOLOLOLOL! I was dyyyyyyying. 

But for real. They spoiled me!😉

Saturday morning started with a series of spa treatments a la Maren and mimosas! We did facials and paraffin dips, so obviously we were ready for a day of soaking up rays🙂

We have a hard time doing anything super seriously….

Relaxing facial steam, hey Kristine?! LOL

I love this pic!!! It’s so beach babe retro, with the awesome folding lawn chairs🙂

Sam made us awesome bach Koozies… We love Koozies!

We drank fresh margs and listened to music while enjoying the awesome Indian summer sun. We also ventured out to the old “Limp & Moist” (inside joke!), which we used as a floating sun dock versus an actual water trampoline. Sharky was our method of transportation, ha!

One of my BFFs, Mel, flew in from AZ just for this weekend….love her!

My twin! We’ve had so many fun adventures together, promise we’ll still have them as old married ladies!! 

I’ll say it again… I love my friends!!! So much fun🙂

Cheers to our “first annual” girls trip! 

Last wedding related event-the chili and cookie party! We got together at my parents house to whip up the drunken pumpkin chili we’re serving and some of the cookies for the s’mores bar at the wedding! 

I have the best parents in the world!

Yum, this chili is so good!! It makes your kitchen smell like fall, and has a very unique flavor. Here’s the recipe if you want to try it (which I highly suggest you do!):

Drunken Pumpkin Chili

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

1 pound 93% lean ground beef
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup pumpkin ale
15-ounce container pure pumpkin puree
15-ounce container diced tomatoes
2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeds removed and minced
15-ounce container black beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Add the ground beef to a dutch oven or large stock pot and adjust heat to medium-high. Break up the meat using a wooden spoon, and immediately add the minced garlic, diced onion, diced carrots, and diced bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 7 minutes, or until the meat is nicely browned and the veggies are softened. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the bay leaf, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, allspice, and tomato paste, and stir to combine. Add the pumpkin ale and stir to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Allow the pumpkin ale to cook and reduce for about 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin purée and diced tomato. Season with salt and pepper. Add the minced chipotle peppers, and stir to combine. Partially cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and allow the chili to cook for about 45 minutes. Add the black beans, stir, and allow the chili to cook another 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.


Modeling our apron pockets, haha!


So basically, a HUGE thank you to all of the unbelievably amazing people in my life…. Because of you all, I am going into our wedding weekend feeling so loved and cared for!!! I hope you all know how much I appreciate you all🙂 XOXO

This weekend is To Do List go-time… Today, we picked our wedding bands/dropped off my e-ring for rhodium plating and cleaning, picked up an order of supplies from Dollar Tree (seriously, you gotta check out the catering and party planning section of the website, it’s amaze), picked up 4 cases of pumpkin beer, all the rest of the booze, and got a few last minute gifts. Tomorrow is vow writing (nothing like waiting till the last minute!), finishing wrapping, honeymoon packing, making the vanilla almond iced tea and a few more errands! I should probs go to sleep now :) 



Wedding Fever

I’ll give you one guess as to why I haven’t blogged in 83 years…. Yep, you’re right, W.E.D.D.I.N.G  

Dang, these things are a lot of work! Im still loving the projects and creative aspect of planning (what’s up, Pinterest!), but the boring necessary details of timelines, coordinating vendors, etc are for the birds. Thank goodness my family is being amazing and helping me out with a ton of that!

 Ok, ok, planning isn’t all that bad when you get to do things like meet your photographer/great friend for brunch and your MOH welcomingly joins in, too!

This was a delicious St. Germaine elderflower liqueur mimosa…. Super refreshing, and something I definitely want to recreate at home! And definitely made wedding planning a little more fun😉

I’m so lucky to have one of my good friends be my wedding photographer, it makes me feel way more comfortable and confident that she always is on exactly the same page as me… And we have “excuses” to meet up! 

Pause (or paws, get it?!) for a Gryffie break, because he’s laying on the couch next to me after sleeping at his grandparents last night and he’s just so cute. 

Isn’t he charming, with that giant drool bubble?!

It looks like all he ever does is sleep….. Ha! But it’s when he’s most photogenic :) 

I had a trial run of my hair done, and I love love love it! I’m the most spoiled bride in the world, because it’s turning out that all of my friends are either super crafty, really talented, work in the wedding industry or a combination of all 3. My awesome gal pal Maren is doing my hair, and even though she is an EP like me by trade, daaaaaaang can that girl do amazing hair! 

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

See?! It’s perfect and she threw that together in like 20 minutes! Girl’s got SKILL. We still need get together to work on my “fascinator” (yep, that’s a real thing! apparently that’s what my headpiece is called, LOL) and that’s a project I’m really excited about! I’ll be sure to post about it, because if we can pull it off it will be a major DIY/money-saving wedding hack. Let’s hope it doesn’t end up as a Pinterest-fail!

After the hair trial, we had dinner with the framily at the Stodolk-quez’s and it was a fantastic time as always. The boys entertained themselves with PS4 while the women-folk talked beauty, which they seemed to be ok with….

And Mars cooked a great dinner for us, and here she is looking cute, like always:

Speaking of weddings-and I always am, these days-, John was a groomsman for his friend Ryan (who is also standing up in our wedding!) this weekend. We had the rehearsal on Friday, and they had an outdoor afternoon ceremony yesterday. Ryan’s new wife, Sara, was one of my amazing clients in iDo FIT and she looked seriously fantastic… Not to toot my own horn, because honestly she did all the work, but I love helping my girls feel great on their wedding day! I didn’t get any pics of her, but trust, she was gorgeous! 

*insert wolf whistle* These boys look great! Aren’t we lucky gals! 

I wore FLATS to this wedding! That’s never happened! Haha, it was outside and during the rehearsal I learned the hard way that stilettos didn’t go too well with the grass, so I did something unheard of and left the spikes at home😉

I’ve been working on a ton of wedding projects but since a lot of them are gifts, I can’t post them yet! My favorite project that I finished recently is the sign that will go above our bar (which my dad and brother are building)…. Wait, you have to see what they got so far with the bar-build:


Ok, back to the sign. I’m geekin about this, I’m so happy with how my idea turned out! And I’m proud to say this was my mind’s creation, not an idea I stole from Pinterest! We needed a way to display our drink choices by the bar, so I made this sign…

I used a piece of foam board, then just freestyled the writing and used a drill bit to punch holes for the string lights.  I used a bit size just smaller than the light bulb, so it fits nice and snugly but I used glue to hold a few more securely in place.  We are using frames for a bunch of other deco so I snuck one on here, too.  The blank space is for the pumpkin beer but I not sure which brand we’ll be having yet (not that it matters, I love me some pumpkin beer!).  I keep turning the lights on and looking at it because I like it so much! I know, I’m a nerd…

Planning on having a nice relaxing night with the fiancé and catching up on some rest after this weekend! 

Saturday Morning Love

I love Saturday mornings. Even though I am a freak of nature and almost always wake up at my usual weekday time of 5:00 AM… (I’m sure a lot of my girls will attest to this, because I like to wake them up early, too, when I stay the night! Cough…Steph… Cough…Andi). Anyway, I cherish my weekends since the weekday life of a commuter isn’t the most relaxing. Exhibit A. 

This is the photo montage I made after the world’s longest freight train prevented me from crossing the tracks in time to get my actual people train. See the lucky random guy on the correct side of the tracks?! At least my work is understanding of my horrible commuting luck! And silver lining, there was a Starbucks on the side I was stuck on🙂

So Gryff and I made a double batch of cake balls (cake pops sans stick, because I’m too impatient to deal with that) for my brother’s graduation party later today and then I rocked this circuit workout in my living room:

{1 minute as many as you can bust out of the following, twice through}

Body weight squats

Push ups


Jumping jacks 

Mountain climbers

Wall sit

Triceps dips

Sumo squats

Then I made some of my favorite tea, MatéVana, and headed out to the patio with G to write and browse Pinterest! So my brother got my a tea set from Teavana for Christmas last year and I’m totally hooked in brewing loose leaf tea now! MatéVana is soooo yummy; it’s a maté tea flavored with cocoa, red rooibos, chocolate chips, almond and marigold. I’ve been drinking mine with a splash of half and half… Seriously, gotta try it! The sales lady coerced me into trying the sister tea, JavaVana Maté, which is also super and if you couldn’t guess by the name, is infused with coffee. 

Talking about my favorite tea led me to make this into a post about some of my current favorite things, so here we go!

I just picked these guys up from BHLDN, aka my favorite wedding store ever. For those of you who aren’t familiar, it’s the Anthropolgie spin-off and I love pretty much everything there! J and I are writing our own vows, so this will be a fun way to keep them after the wedding. I should probably start thinking about those…


I finally got to pick up my MOH gift! I decided to get my lovely matron of honor a “grown up friendship necklace” to, in some small way, thank her for all the help and emotional support she’s given to help me prepare for my wedding. I had our necklaces engraved with both of our pre-wedding initials, since that has been our “thing” forever! I originally gave it to her during our engagement photo session (which was a totally last minute decision) but I’m so happy I did it then, because Monica got to capture the moment for us! 

J’s band, Marwood’s Fall, had an amazing gig at the House of Blues (!) in downtown Chicago. It was a great show, and some of our friends and family made the trip down to support him. They’re the best🙂 The crowd was awesome, and MWF definitely got some new fans!

Best photo bomb EVER, good work Dave!


Ok, last favorite thing for today: my bachelorette invitation! As always, Andrea did a fabulous job and totally nailed this! It’s exactly what I was thinking for my bach…… A weekend at a cabin on a lake with my girls🙂 I have it displayed up in my room because I just get excited looking at it every morning, lol. Can’t wait to spend time with some of my favorites!! 

Ok, time to head off for a dress fitting with G Ma (how lucky am I that J’s grandma is an amazing seamstress?!) then getting ready and heading to Sconnie for some graduation shenanigans! Have a great weekend!


100 days to go… yikes!!

May was awesome…. So awesome, I didn’t even have time to blog😉

Excuses, excuses.  I know.  I feel there will be a lot of those in the upcoming months, as we are 100 days away from our wedding! That, coupled with so many fun events this summer- ok, time to play catch up (I have lots to say, as usual!)

May started off with Mel’s bachelorette party in Milwaukee, which was SO SO fun! We kicked it off with a brewery tour at Milwaukee Brewing Company (hey, when in Rome, right?!). 

We had the best tour guide! He’s also a comedian at Comedy Sportz, so it was basically a free stand-up act while we drank lots of delicious free beer… Win, win! This was my first time at Milwaukee Brewing Company, and having been on all of the other beer tours in Mil, this is a great addition to the city’s lineup. Highly recommended if you’re in the area!

After the tour, we headed over to Aloft Milwaukee to get ready for the night. I’ve stayed here before, and it was another great experience- super trendy decor, great staff and in a great location for bar-hopping😉

It was just like our good ol’ college days, of getting ready together and heading out to run around downtown! 

We hit… The majority of the downtown Milwaukee bars. Lol. It was a blast! Mel had never done a shot-ski at Old German Beer Hall so OF COURSE we had to make that happen! This is a fun Milwaukee tradition, so again, if you’re in the area, add this to your list of things to do!

Ok, on to Mel’s wedding and our trip to Arizona! We had an amazing time and I’m so happy we were able to celebrate with one of my best friends🙂 We stayed with J’s family, which was great since we typically only see them once a year AND they were incredibly gracious hosts! They had a fantastic backyard, so we hung out in the pool, catching some sunshine when we weren’t doing wedding-related things. 

See what I mean?! Thanks again, Schubert Family, for being greats hosts!!

I finally got to use my Rent The Runway membership and my first rental was bangin! 

It comes in really cute packaging (which I always appreciate, haha) and I loved everything about the whole process! I had it shipped to J’s family the night before we flew in so not having to fly with a dress was another huge perk. The customer reviews are super helpful when determining what two sizes to order, since you can find other women with your stats and see what they have to say about fit! For example, I’m usually a 0 or a 2, and in the dress I rented, I ended up being a 4. I also rented a gold clutch, and both the dress and the clutch were in great condition.  John got to hold my clutch most of the night, but I heard he got a ton of compliments on it😉

Moral of the story=Rent The Runway is great and gonna be so helpful this year with the number of events I have! Being able to choose two sizes with every rental is such a big help, so you don’t have to worry as much about the garment fitting properly. 

One of the BEST parts of the trip was getting the honor to be one of Mel’s bridesmaids…. She decided to surprise us all and ask us when we flew in! Such a fun idea, and it was so sweet of her to both give us such a fun surprise and also not require us to get anything special to wear to make it less stressful for us (that’s her, always thinking about other people!). 


She asked us all with a handwritten note and a fun gift bag of their favroite Arizona things… Popcorn, fruit infused beer, cookies…. What a unique idea! 

Time to break for a Mel-Montage… Take a look at my beautiful buddy!

Suuuuuch a beautiful bride🙂

The wedding itself was great! It was held in a very trendy studio space and they had a taco truck cater the dinner…. Tables took turns heading outside to place their order, and the food was amaze-balls! I had a mix of chicken tacos and potato/green chile tacos with a side of roasted zucchini… YUM. Great idea to have a food truck, too!

It turned out to be a great looking bridal party (if I do say so myself!) and we had a blast!

Congrats Mel & Trav, love you guys!

On to other wedding related things, J and I had our engagement photo shoot! Finally, hey?! My really good friend, Monica, is shooting our wedding and offered to a gratis e-session for us… How great is that?! 

Check out her work, at http://www.monicacaughlinphotography.com (She’s amazing, she also did the photos for my website, http://www.idofitinmydress.com!)

We went to Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve, where we got engaged, and had a lot of fun! My super fantastic MOH came along as Monica’s (and my) assistant, and we popped some champagne, listed to some tunes and got lucky enough to have great weather! 

Here is a sneak peak of some of the pics!


I. Love. This. One. 

I can’t wait to see the rest, I’m in love with these!!

Ok, I haven’t posted any of my dog yet… Shocking! Here’s one to make up for the lack of Gryffie in this post-

This is him just loving life with his head out of the sunroof, jowls flapping in the wind🙂

Ok, last thing to leave you with is a great core workout I found on Pinterest, and you can also find on my board- iDo FIT (in my dress) Core Workouts.  It’s from Kama Fitness, and includes some of my favorite exercises…. Give it a try and tell me what you think!

April is over?!

Weeeeellllllll. Apparently it’s already May. Lol, so let’s just recap some of the fun things that happened in April, shall we? I’m sitting on the couch with some Carolina Honey tea from Argo (the Starbucks of tea) and thought, “Oh hey, remember that blog I have?” And Gryff apparently wants some tea….

Ok, here we go. Highlights of April, rapid-fire. 

We went to “our barn” for dinner with the Richter’s and the Kane’s, and it was super exciting to see the barn again! The last time I was there was for Andie’s wedding, and it was cool to think that now it was for our wedding🙂 They’re working on some amazing updates to the barn this spring, which I can’t wait to see (chandeliers inside the barn?! Wooooo!). And we had a great time at dinner, as always! We’re so lucky to have fun friends…. And that our friends own a super wonderful barn! Ha!

For Easter, we headed up to my parents’ in WI for a biiiiiig family celebration… 30-some people with just immediate family!  It was great to see everyone and catch up, my aunties had lots of questions about wedding plans🙂 Which, if you haven’t gathered, I don’t mind talking about at all. And the weather was amazing, so we got to hang out outside and enjoy the sunshine. 

Hula hoop fail. 

Lol, perfect timing on this shot!

Seesters! I’m super lucky to have so many supportive women in my family, and I love the fact that we are all so close!

I love my little flower girls! 

Oh, and this guy. I love him, too. We’re nice and squinty in this pic, but that’s fine with me because it means it was at least sunny!

Ok, moving on. Annie met up with me while I was getting my hurrr did downtown, so we chatted while I was processing. 


And we weren’t done talking after the appointment so we went across the street for coffee and crêpes! The iced chai lattes there were delish… I usually make mine with the Tazo chai tea and coconut milk, and that is great for my morning commute but nothing compares to real, homemade chai!

Annie is moving….to Spain! I’m super duper excited for her, but selfishly very sad because I’ll miss her! However, this may mean I have to plan a trip to see her….😉 and by may, I mean HAVE TO. 

And finally, we had our annual Comics for a Cure CF benefit at work and my college BFFs joined me again this year! 

A group of comedians in Chicago, Comics You Should Know, puts the show on for free for us and 100% of the proceeds go to the CF Foundation. They put on a GREAT show, and everyone has a ton of fun while raising money for our kiddos! We were all apartment-across-the-hall-mates for 2 years in college, and every time we hang it it seriously feels like no time has passed and we’re all still besties. So thanks for coming out, Chris and Scotty! 

And that, is my April in a nutshell. 


I have Mel’s bridal shower and bachelorette today, and I AM SO EXCITED. I haven’t seen her in waaaayyyy too long, and I can’t wait to celebrate her upcoming wedding! Im heading up to Milwaukee for that, so I should really go pack and finish a few things… But last time, I promised a workout from my program! I give you, Treadmill Workout from Month 3.

Treadmill Workout

Warm Up 5 min
Run at Intensity 6/10 for 2 minutes
Pause, 15 push-ups, Walk briskly for 1 minute
Run at Intensity 6/10 for 3 minutes
Pause, 20 Prisoner Squats, Walk briskly for 1 minute
Run at Intensity 7/10 for 2 minutes
Pause, 25 crunches, Walk briskly for 1 minute
Run at Intensity 7/10 for 2 minutes
Pause, 15 push-ups, Walk briskly for 1 minute
Run at Intensity 8/10 for 90 seconds
Pause, 20 Prisoner Squats
Run at Intensity 8/10 for 90 seconds
Pause, 25 crunches, Walk briskly for 1 minute
Run at Intensity 5/10 for 5 minutes

Plank for 60 seconds, 3 reps, rest for 30 seconds in between


This is meant to be a sprinting workout, so PUSH IT! And be careful when you jump off the treadmill to do the exercises, lol.  

Try it, let me know what you think!!