Friday, July 29, 2011

...to Glory

As I mentioned before, the Bank of the West Classic is the first tournament in the U.S. Open Series. These tournaments lead up to the U.S. Open (the 4th and final Grand Slam of the year) held in Flushing Meadows, NY in late August/early September.

The city line-up goes to a plethora of U.S. marquee locations including Atlanta, Carlsbad, DC, Cincinnati, Winston-Salem, and New Haven. The men and women are separated until they reunite in New York. While Wimbledon is the most pretigious of the 4 Grand Slams, the U.S. Open is arguably the most thrilling (according to my American bias ;) ).  

I have only been once back in 2000. I remember the rush of walking into Arthur Ashe Stadium and seeing the blue colored court, the crowds of people, and the neon yellow tennis ball being striked from side to side. I remember being giddy about the players, despite my boycott on celebrities. Again, the work ethic and determination that comes with a professional athlete gives me immense respect for their on-court performance. I am anxious to see how the road to glory goes this year.

Who will be #1 at the end of it all?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Road...

The Bank of the West Classic, numero uno of the U.S. Open Series, is well under-way. We are knee deep in tickets, player appearances, autograph sessions, food deliveries, early mornings, and late nights. And while exhaustion has long set in, I am in full event mode which oddly enough I love dearly. I do in fact miss my Sony Ericsson Open days of mayhem.Yes I might be insane.

One of my favorite parts of the tournament(s) is the player appearances offsite for special events. Examples have included the Children's Museum, Ronald McDonald House, and the newest Keplers Bookstore. The interaction with the community and the players can be some of the most inspiring and touching.

There is something to be said about a professional athlete, set aside the fortune and fame, the arrogance and neediness, when you examine the raw talent, mental toughness, and extreme work ethic. The level of discipline and fierce competitive nature that comes with being a pro is something I have always longed to have but have never quite been able to master.

My favorite professional athletes give thanks for their success, remember where they came from, and give back to the community. A prime example would be Ana Ivanovic, the Serbian-born tennis player ranked 7th in the world.  Ana is an amazing player and an even better mentor. She accredits her success on and off the court to her family's love and support. At the Keplers bookstore book signing, she spoke about the pressures and fears of stardom with poise and grace.

If only all professional athletes were as fabulous as her!


Inches & Miles with Coach John Wooden

Peanut Harper, former professional player, and her sister

the Bear

Ana Ivanovic

sharing her success

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday

  • the fact that my ghetto laptop will no longer allow me to upload photos to my blog (hence the lack of the WILW graphic)



  • our fun-loving, hysterical SF tournament crew who provides hours of laughter, comical relief, and utter nonsense all day

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Kimmy Keebler's Bachelorette Bash

Last weekend, we celebrated Kimberly Kay’s bachelorette bash in Chi-city. Kim is the baby of the group, meaning that she is the youngest (and has yet to turn 28 aka one year closer to 30 like the rest of us). I’ve mentioned before that she lives a convenient hour away which has made for lots of fun in the wedding planning/venting/stressing category. Plus it has had its perks in relation to sporting events too!


She wanted to have a centrally located partayyy since we are all dispersed across the US of A. So Chicago made the most sense. Our arrivals & departures were staggered with some flying in on Thursday and others leaving on Monday, making Friday night the kick-off to the weekend.

Chi-town is known for their fantastic summer weekend street festivals. For those in Louisville, think the Catholic Parish picnics only quadruple the size. We hit up the River North festival Friday evening as it was walking distance from our accommodations, The James Hotel. After a few beers and slices of pizza, we decided to go big on night one: Hangge Uppe. Generally a late night bar with a rap scene on top and an underground 80’s dance party in the basement, this was a weekend staple when I lived in Chicago. We had drinks and danced until 1am when we retired to our beds.

Saturday we slept in a bit then headed towards Wrigley to soak up the Cubs atmosphere and sunshine. Starting with another long time staple, Vines, we enjoyed lunch and story time. Next we walked along Clark admiring our old stomping grounds until settling on the patio of Houndstooth. The 5 of us shared a few buckets of Corona Light while enjoying the ever-so-interesting people watching taking place on the sidewalk parallel to our table.

After a few buckets, we headed back downtown to get ready for the evening. Big Fesmire (Kim’s sis as we called her in college) had decorated the room in full out penis props. Literally, I have never seen so much penis confetti, penis balloons, penis figures, or my fave the penis cake courtesy of Lauren Blue. Quite impressive. We were all blushing a bit.

We shared a champagne toast to Kim & Jerrad then showered Kim with special lingerie for the honeymoon! As she opened her gifts, she also had to play the “how well do Jerrad & I know each other” game. JL had asked Jerrad questions prior to the weekend (similar to the game played at my bridal shower back in May). She wrote the questions on one side of a sheet of paper and the answers on the other. Perhaps it was the champagne or the penis d├ęcor, but Miss Kim got flustered with the questions often resulting in JL telling her to drink.

Eventually we ventured out to my old ‘hood, Southport & Addison, to cap off the night with several adult beverages. This is where discovered that we are not college students and do need naps indeed. My how things have changed in the last decade!

Sunday, we dragged our feet resulting in a late, late brunch…and by brunch I mean late lunch. I was able to catch up with some old pals, Bennie & Varner, as we watched the World Cup final as the USA women’s soccer team fell short in a shoot-out against Japan. I really enjoyed seeing them after several years and reminiscing about our Chicago summer back in 2008.

All in all, a fabulous weekend; one that reminded me of why I love summertime in Chicago and what amazing friends I have in my life.



Cheers to Kim!

Houndstooth Saloon

penis balloon...lovely

These two are always up to no good...

More penis stuff...


The Bride-to-be

The Married One ;)

Sibling love
bestest friends

Monday, July 25, 2011

Music Mondays

Tournament time folks...say a prayer that Sunday comes quick ;)





Saturday, July 23, 2011

Heart of the Matter

Tessa and Valerie lived completely different lives. Aside from being women and mothers, the two had virtually nothing else in common. Until life happened. And within a blink of an eye, both lives were forever changed.


Tessa, mom to two rowdy toddlers, thought she had it all in her marriage, children, and housewife status. A rare down-to-earth suburban professor turned housekeeper and errand runner. One who never thought her handsome, successful husband would dare do the unthinkable.

Valeria, a single mother, had a bitter attitude towards men, relationships, and almost all things in life. Her one wild decision was sleeping with Lion which ended rather unfavorably in her opinion, aside from the fact that it led to her son Charlie. She had all but given up on love and romance until the accident.

I won’t spoil the whole story for you, but I will share a bit of insight into how life happens and changes what we believe. And it only takes a moment. It is easy as an outsider to stand and judge as others go through life circumstances and situations, remarking on how if we were in her shoes or his shoes how we would handle ourselves differently. However, the truth is that we have no idea how we would react if our life was suddenly affected by disease, infidelity, loss of a loved one, or the other tragic events that make the world go round. We can point fingers, place blame, or pretend as if we would let it go all day; yet in the end, we never really know until we are faced with the challenge at hand.

Emily Griffin wrote another brilliant novel filled with poise and charisma as she navigates her words right into the heart of the reader and then subtley forces them to examine their soul.

For a sneak peek into chapter one, click here.

Next up Baby Proof!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday




  • sleepless nights NOT!
1:34am...awesome

  • vibrant, out-of-the-box toe nail polish
Mermaid's Tears

  • cubed ice chunks from Courtside
obsession

  • my 2 week vacation work stay in sunny Palo Alto that starts today

Happy 2nd Birthday Bishop!

Loving my little nephew and the fact that he is 2 years old today!!!!


my first time holding him

precious

Mama Comley holding him for the first time days before she passed away

Mama Collins holding him at Mama Comley's funeral...the irony of this amazes me still

gearing up for his 1st birthday party

my fave picture of him to-date

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Call Me Coach

...or as Ryan says C squared.

That's right folks! I am the new Head Coach for the Girls Varsity Tennis team at the San Francisco University High School. I will be cheering for the Red Devils and doting red & white (purely on a tennis level as I would never turn my back on the CATS ;) ).

When I stop to think about it, in a 5 day stretch my life has made a minor adjustment that I believe will have a significant impact on me. As a person who has immense faith and willfully believes in the saying "all things happen for a reason", the opportunity to coach is a prime example of why I feel that way. I was forwarded the assistant position from a co-worker nonchalantly. I emailed my resume over to the AD that evening. The next morning I received a call asking to be interviewed, and what I learned on the call was that they actually needed a head coach. I came in for an in-person interview Monday the 11th and met with the team captains on Thursday the 14th. Around 5pm Thursday, I accepted the position.

I am beyond ecstatic to be coaching. There has never been a challenge that I did not rise to meet, and I honestly cannot wait for the season to start. The school is one of the top in the country academically and athletically. The AD and Assistant AD have been nothing but a pleasure to interact with as well as incredibly supportive thus far. The two team captains that I engaged in conversation were not only polite, respectful, intellectual, and energetic, but they were also competitive and earnest to win the Northern Section.

I am looking forward to August when the season starts and to taking over Northern California one match at a time!

For a peak into how exceptional the women of this school are in athletics and character, click here.

To see what the school is all about, click here.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Music Mondays

Reliving Kimmie's Chi-town bachelorette party...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lasagna Cupcakes

I found this recipe in one of my many People mags and decided to save it for the perfect occassion. I figured Tarrah's surprise baby shower was as good a time as any (mainly because it was a small, intimate group which allowed for small batch to be plenty ;) ). I set about getting all of the ingredients at the grocery the weekend prior. I had things set out and ready to rock for the Thursday early evening event. To triple check, I scanned the recipe Wednesday night around 11:15pm when I was about to hop in bed.

What I found to my horror was this (step #4 I loathe you):

4. Fold the 2 overhanging pieces over the top of each cupcake. Use sauce to seal edges. Sprinkle with each cheese and a dab of sauce. Cover with plastic wrap; chill for at least 2 hours.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!! I don't have 2 hours to chill anything on Thursday is what my little voice cried as I circled our tiny kitchen cursing to myself. So what is a girl to do? Stay up until 1:30am prepping the damn things. **Note to all, I will not be defeated by any recipe especially Rachel Bilson's fave smoked mac-n-cheese lasagna cupcakes!


Let me also add that these things are messy. I had so diligently cleaned my house and managed to keep it sparkling (despite living with a male) for nearly 3 days...that is of course until these little cupcakes came along. Oil all over the kitchen counters; lasagna stuck in various pans and strainers; cheese sprinkled on the carpet; sauce dripping on the oven. I even went so far as to turn the cupcakes into wraps when I ran out of muffin pan space.
 
Low and behold, they turned out to be magnificent. Take that L.A.'s Yummy Cupcakes! I will divide and conquer; err I didn't really divide anything except perhaps my sanity, but I did conquer nonetheless.

cupcakes

rolls

 
Ingredients: Makes 12 cupcakes
  • 15-16 pieces (1-lb. box) lasagna, cooked until tender and drained
  • Olive oil
  • 3cps grated Parmesan
  • 3 cups grated smoked mozzarella

  • 3 cups grated sharp cheddar white sauce (see recipe below)
Sauce:

Melt 4 tbsp. butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 3 tbsp. flour and stir for 2 minutes. Slowly add 2 cups hot milk, stirring constantly. Add a pinch of salt and cook over low heat, stirring until thickened, about 10 minutes.



Directions:

1. Trim 12 lasagna pieces into 6×2-in. strips and place on lightly oiled sheet pan. Cut remaining pieces into 3 equal sections and place on sheet pan.


2. Brush a 12-cup cupcake tin with olive oil. Lay 2 6-in. lasagna strips in the bottom of each mold to form an X. (Strips will hang over.)

3. Sprinkle 1 tbsp. of each cheese over pasta, packing down well. Top with 1 tbsp. of sauce. Place 1 smaller lasagna piece on top. Repeat for each.

4. Fold the 2 overhanging pieces over the top of each cupcake. Use sauce to seal edges. Sprinkle with each cheese and a dab of sauce. Cover with plastic wrap; chill for at least 2 hours.

5. Preheat oven to 325. Bake cupcakes 25 to 30 minutes. Let cupcakes rest 10 minutes before serving.


For the article, click here.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Just Dance + Go On a Date

Tuesday nights we have been going to our begginner group dance lesson. Its the basic two-step waltz and three-step fox trot...or is it the other way around? Anywho, we are getting in quite a rhythm of dance date night on Tuesdays. So much of a rhythm that I am marking the lessons on my calendar; a huge commitment MUST to do if it makes the calendar FYI.

This week we decided to go full speed ahead and turn Tuesday into a real date night. We dipped out of work early to grab a drink with Aunt Ellen & Uncle Ken who happened to have a little free time while out here for a conference. We met them at Rouge et Blanc (basically when I find something I love, I love it to death ;) ). We loved catching up with them and reliving stories from our Alaskan cruise as well as getting excited for upcoming family festivities!

Feeling a flush of buzz from our late afternoon cocktail, we split ways to run separate errands before reconveining at Local. I've been several times for happy hour & dinner with friends, but Ryan was a newbie. I used this as one of his weekly surprises to stay aligned with this month's theme: gourmet delights. We each enjoyed another cocktail, wine and beer respectively and indugled in the divine happy hour menu. Ryan opted for the Local pizza, a local favorite, that appeases the appetite with a generous portion at the happy hour price. I chose the baked mac n' cheese with its rich, gooey cream. A must try if you live in the city or come to visit us ;)

wine & beer

Local pizza

mac n cheese heaven


Full and blushed, we headed to dance class where we moved to Norah (Jones) and Frank (Sinatra). We learned a few advanced moves including a circling waltz and an elegant, graceful turn. Before we knew it, Ryan & I were choreographing our own little dance. Who knew my amazing talents could rub off on him so easily?!

teach me how to doogie


Cheers to dancing & dating as we move closer to marriage!

P.S. Please note my UGGs that were worn on Tuesday evening...yes we are in July. Get with it San Francisco; its the freaking summer!


these are not supposed to appear until December

Friday, July 15, 2011

Showering Baby Girl Pollaro

Baby Girl Pollaro!


To really challenge myself, I have added a plethora of events to plan because clearly planning a wedding is not time consuming enough. I am obviously laughing out loud because a) this wedding is all consuming my life at the present, and b) my mental state should be checked with the amount of events I have taken on especially in light of my job's ever-building responsibilities with tournament time next week. **Dear Ashley Lowes, perhaps this article would have been helpful pre-party plannings!!

Anyhow, Rhea, Emily, & I decided to throw a little surprise baby shower for Tarrah, Joe, and their baby girl. BGP (baby girl Pollaro) is set to be born in October, but we wanted to enjoy a fun, stress-free event prior to our whirlwind tennis tournament coming up.

I offered to host the guests at our condo and we opted for a bath theme. Check out the adorable pink mommy whale & baby whale invitation here.


mom-to-be

and her sash

decor shot

baby girl confetti

a taste of the food

yummy cupcakes



Guests enjoyed appetizers of fresh fruit salad, turkey wraps, lasagna cupcakes (you will hear about these nightmare delightful treats later this weekend), cheese & crackers, and chips & guacamole. Topped off with cupcakes for dessert. Plus toasts with the Barefoot wine collection that we have established over the last few months.

Noah's Ark balloon

all things pink

baby bath stuff


We played a few games and opened gifts too. The most exciting part was the look on Tarrah's face as she realized what was going on. I love throwing events and I love surprises so I am marking this one down as a grande success!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Friendship Makes the World Go 'Round

Relationships have always been a huge part of my life. I cherish the closeness that our family has even when we contemplate strangling one another. We love each other despite our differences or annoying characteristics. I also find comfort in the special friendships that I have formed with my 5 best friends as well as a few other key people.

Roomie, also know as Timmy or Loka$h or that Duke fan, has been one of my closest friends since 2005. We met at UM when I was in grad school and the old man (he turns 34 today!) was finishing undergrad after taking a few years off. I sparked a conversation with him purely based on my disgust with his JJ Reddick jersey that he sported to Dr. Mullane's summer leadership & ethics class. To spite him, I did my presentation on Rick Pitino's 1992 Kentucky team. That was enough to get us giggling and talking smack non-stop to one another which quickly led to a strong friendship. A friendship that we have continued through visits, jokes, basketball & football games, cocktails, laughs, texts, and phone calls for the past 6 years.

kickball champ forever

C-A-N-E-S CANES!


Em, aka Emily or Ryan's cousin, and I met in May of 2010. Er technically we met back in college as she briefly rushed ADPi and then decided to forego sorority life. I was immediately in awe of her beauty, many talents & God-given gifts (think Carrie Underwood mixed with Aretha Franklin voice), and her amazing faith. Throughout the past year, we have been come fast friends. We text and talk regularly. We giggle constantly with our sarcastic banter. But most importantly, we get each other. We have been through some similar life situations and experiences, making it wonderful to have someone who can relate to the feelings I am feeling/have felt. My only regret is that we didn't meet sooner ;)

gorgeous


like 3 peas in a pod


Rin, formerly known as Erin, Rinzers, or Remsen, was one of my first friends when I moved to San Diego. We met via mutual acquaintences and instantly became obsessed with one another. We are 100% silly around one another the majority of the time. But we have our serious heart-to-heart moments and can always count on the other to give us an uplifting boost when needed. She even volunteered to loan me her dvd of PS I Love You when I was feeling down and went so far as to watch it and hysterically sob with me so I didn't have to do it alone. That is a true friend. She also pseudo receives the MVP award for furthest traveler to our wedding since she is coming from Costa Rica...where she has been residing since 2009. She will be one of our scripture readers for the ceremony, and Ryan & I feel super blessed to have her as part of our special day!

lover. love her.

we may or may not dance like absolute fools together


Feeling so appreciative of all that the Lord has given me especially these wonderful friends!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday


  • the love and commitment that Grandma & Grandpa Lee share even after 60 years of marriage

    helping to ease the void of my grandparents, Grandma & Grandpa Lee

  • Taylor including me in her babysitting nightmares adventures with Bishop
valeting Bishop's cars

  • Chi-town bound in t-minus 1 1/2days to celebrate Kimmie Keebler's bachelorette party
soon-to-be Mrs. Bullock