HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY INCREDIBLE AWESOME BEAUTIFUL SISTER!

sisters

Despite our seven-year age difference, we’re still learning about each other and with each passing day the gap feels smaller and smaller.

And I’m absolutely ecstatic…

sisters

…to become an aunt!!!!

sisters

January 1st can’t come soon enough…

Happy birthday sis, thanks for always being there for me. We’re lucky to have each other, and soon we’ll have another tiny sidekick joining our sisterhood. My niece will surely be the coolest chick around, she’ll be my sister’s daughter after all!

♥ Irina

I’m certainly not the only one who gets the birthday blues. In all honesty much of my depression with aging is purely vain. It’s not exactly something I’m proud of but I can’t help feel this way after seeing my body slowly change with each passing year. And don’t even get me started on seeing old photos of myself! But enough morbid thoughts. I ultimately enjoy celebrating the wonderful day with those who mean most to me.

This time around most of my close friends were either unavailable or out of town. Luckily, I prefer smaller more intimate gatherings and had no problem agreeing to a simple stress-free day with my mom and sister in the city. We strolled down Michigan Ave. and eventually settled on a light lunch at NoMI, a deliciously upscale restaurant in the heart of downtown Chicago.

NoMI

Champagne was an obvious necessity…

NoMI

NoMI

And oysters, the perfect companion to the bubbly.

NoMI oysters

I typically prefer plump east coast oysters but my goodness the briny west coast ones rocked my world!

NoMI oysters

As soon as we placed the rest of the order, the waiter brought out the most incredible warm pretzel bread with whipped butter. It was crispy on the outside and pillowy soft on the inside. A dream come true!

NoMI pretzel bread

We chomped and chatted while waiting for the rest of the dishes to come. And then came the glorious cheese board, fully decked with a variety of cow’s and goat’s milk cheeses and accompanying homemade jams.

NoMI cheese board

Yes, it tasted as phenomenal as it looked!

The rest of our order was finally brought out, which was a filling spread of baked whitefish over pureed squash and a light avocado salad.

noMI fish

NoMI salad

We also couldn’t resist a side order of crispy fries with ketchup and mayo.

NoMI fries

The grand finale was a surprise dessert that appeared to come straight from heaven.

NoMI chocolate dessert

Upon carefully cracking open the perfectly spherical chocolate shell, we uncovered a rich tiramisu mousse sitting atop of caramel and coffee crumbles.

NoMI chocolate dessert

The dessert was also accompanied by two of the most delicious cookies I’ve ever tasted (not pictured because we ate them immediately). I was one happy and stuffed 26 year old!

sisters

The three of us happily waddled back to our car and called it a day. I’m so glad I got to celebrate my birthday with (most of) my family! Unfortunately, my dad wasn’t able to join us in the city so we decided to end the day with a second mini celebration in nature.

running

Since my MRI came back clean (!!!) that very morning, I decided to test out my foot with a short 3-mile run at sunset. My foot didn’t feel at 100% but the run itself was wonderful after a full week of no activity.

And so I *think* I finally accepted my new age. Twenty six will still continue to frighten me but I have an inexplicably strong feeling that this will be life-changing year. Sometimes acceptance in life is the only thing we can do to move on and maintain our happiness.

Cheers to my mid/late twenties!

♥ Irina

Today is my 26th birthday. While I usually let this day pass by without acknowledgment, I can’t help but feel the need to mark it’s presence today.

birthday

I’m not going to melt your brain with my pointless rambles on the fast passing of life and my thoughts on aging. In short, both terrify me to no end and I’m still unable to make peace with either uncontrollable occurrence. But today I refuse to focus on the morbid aspect of birthdays (at least from my perspective) and celebrate the life my mother and father have given me.

I’m proud of the progress I made these past 26 years. I’m impressed with my determination and strong will towards getting what I want out of life. I enjoy seeing the woman I’m becoming. And I like that I can admit all this now with confidence. More importantly, I would be nothing without the incredible people in my life, both family and friends. Thank you everyone, without you I would not be me.

So bring it on, life, I’m more than ready for you!

♥ Irina

August. It’s here. August has always felt like a transitional period in my life. Part of it has to do with the obvious fact that I add an extra year to my age on the 5th of this month (yikes). But the final days of July are always treated like a farewell to summer despite the fall equinox not happening until September.

summer

School has always started near the end of August for me and the coming of September, while being a more appropriate academic transition, feels much more natural than August’s abruptness. August 1st always without fail slaps me awake from a daze. It’s when I suddenly find myself gasping at how quickly the year flew by and start panicking about the future.

summer

Ahh the future…such a soft spot for me right now. Like most twenty-something young ladies, I feel confused about where life is taking me. I’m enjoying the ride but thoughts about “what next” cause significant anxiety. I alluded to some future plans that are currently brewing in my life but those won’t come into fruition until at least spring of next year. I’ve come to peace with the unknown and uncertain many many months ago.

summer

I’m not sure where I’m going with this post so consider it a brain dump of sorts. As you read this I’m likely out and about Grant Park for Lollapalooza, which serves as the perfect way to welcome in August. I’m taking the majority of next week off from work and plan to do some relaxing soul-searching at home. Shopping might be involved. I turn 26 on Tuesday and hope to confront all panic & fears head-on immediately.

Cheers to a beautiful 2014 thus far and an even more glorious rest of the year!

What months are “transition months” for you?

♥ Irina