This week was filled with lots of boring events.

Potbelly’s happened…

…twice

Sweepstakes happened

(I didn’t win)

Pumpkins happened

Pastrami happened

A clay mask happened

Desperation happened

New Girl happened

My favorite shampoo + conditioner happened

Waffles happened

Another race registration happened

And that ends my pathetic attempt at a post. Happy Friday!

What happened this week in your life?

♥ Irina

Good morning! It’s Thursday, which means it’s basically Friday which is essentially the weekend. Like that logic there?

It’s been a busy busy week for me and I haven’t had time to blog! I had all these posts lined up and planned but I never got around to actually posting them. Fail.

First, I wanted to show you ladies and gents some photos from my Six Flags trip this past Saturday. I’ve been to Six Flags dozens of times since I first started going as a child. For a long time, I “broke up” with the theme park because my body no longer got that adrenaline rush that comes with a beautiful, steep roller coaster drop. However, I couldn’t pass up a free ticket and a fairly empty park!

Luckily, the adrenaline is back! I love that free-fall feeling that comes with an endless drop.

The weather was great (a bit on the hotter side) and I was actually excited to ride the coasters of my childhood again.

My company rented out the park for the day so lines were minimal.

The friend I went with has always been afraid of roller coasters, and it was fun watching him conquer his fear.

(One of my favorite “kiddie” rides – the River Rocker)

We rode many rides including Raging Bull (one of the highest drops in the park), Superman, and The Dark Knight.

(While waiting in line for the Dark Knight, there was this crazy cool TV monitor that takes your face and puts a creepy clown mask on it!)

The Superman ride is pretty cool – you are basically put in a position where your body is horizontal to the ground with your belly down as if you are flying like a super hero.

(Superman Ultimate Flight coaster)

We also played the Whack-a-Mole game where everyone was a winner! I had my eye on the sparkly pink superman cape and couldn’t resist.

Helloooo Halloween race…I know what I’ll be wearing for it!

At one point I had to conquer my own fears of bumper cars and go-karts. I’m not sure why those two scare me, but it was pretty nerve-wrecking at first.

Bumper cars = conquered!

Go-Karts = conquered! It was my first time go-karting and I loved it! I felt the need…the need for speed.

We concluded the day with the best meal ever:

Potbelly’s Mediterranean sandwich FTW!

Overall, it was a fantastic day well spent. I just wish the park was always this empty!

Now let’s skip ahead to Tuesday evening, another special day/event thanks to work! We were having a team dinner and chose Zed451 as the celebratory location.

Dear Chicagoans, if you haven’t been there yet you must go! It’s basically a high-end fancy buffet that is similar to a Brazilian steak house where people walk around carrying skewers and plates of meat and fish. In other words, unlimited food! The décor is very nice as well.

Appetizer bars were set up around the restaurant, and offered delicious salads, cheeses, and breads.

I wasn’t hungry to begin with thanks to a massive lunch from Protein Bar, but I couldn’t resist trying all the meats: veal, steak, chicken, duck, catfish, and salmon. I’m so sorry to all the vegetarians/vegans out there who are now probably disowning me from their blog world, but I couldn’t resist! The food was high quality and delicious (no photos because my co-workers would think I’m crazy)

After stuffing my face with an uncomfortable amount of food, wine, and cocktails, our little group of 7 decided to order one of every dessert (with the exception of the fruit cup). Holy sugar heaven! I don’t have photos, but here is the partial dessert menu for your drooling pleasure (there were at least 2 more desserts that are not on this menu!):

(source)

My favorite dessert was….everything! Each dessert was homemade and beyond delicious.

Much thanks to my company for putting in the effort to make its employees happy…you succeeded!

After dinner, I took a late train and promptly crashed at 11PM when I got home. The following morning I overslept, but the extra hour was oh so worth it.

Do you like roller coasters? What about bumper cars and go-karts?

What fear(s) did you have to conquer in your life?

♥ Irina

Was I really just on vacation a few days ago? My wonderful two-week extravaganza already sadly seems to be a thing of the past as regular work life starts taking over again. I hate it, but I’m trying to hold on to those dear memories of vacation for as long as possible. It’s these memories that will get me through this tough work week. Anyway, I have to post-pone my vacation recaps until next week because the 900 photos I took don’t fit on my computer. This weekend I’ll be installing a larger hard drive that will have the capacity to easily hold these beautiful photos.

(sneak peak)

For now I’ll skip the grumbling and complaining about being back at work and hop forward to the thoughts that are getting me through each day. The main motivator? A three-day weekend thanks to Labor Day! I am ecstatic about it.

Here are some things that I plan on accomplishing this weekend:

*  Clean out my closet  this task has been on my to-do list for ages and for some reason I thought about it quite often while in Russia…it needs to be done
*  Make Trawffles  oh how I missed my lovely little chocolates with scrumptious fillings!
*  Bake  not sure what is on the menu but I suspect cookies…
*  Run run run  an 8k race is looming in the near future (September 16th) and I need to get my miles back up
*  Spend time with my sis  it was her birthday on the 25th and we weren’t able to celebrate because she was in Italy while my parents and I were flying back from Russia. A celebration/gift exchange in Evanston will be happening ASAP!
*  Get a haircut  my hair is crying from the split ends that are slowly crawling up each hair strand
*  Manicure  I spent much of my 9.5 hour flight back peeling off my no-chip mani, so it’s time for another one before my beautiful long nails get chewed off
*  Have lunch/dinner with an old friend  he’s finally back in town and I’m dying to see him…he’s an old childhood friend and we go waaaay back
*  Write vacation recap posts  these will take a while so I suspect a few dedicated hours will be needed. Installing the new hard-drive will be part of this task as well

And that’s what I have lined up for the three-day weekend. I kind of suck at accomplishing things on my to-do lists, but the promise of a third day in the weekend leaves me hopeful and determined. T-minus 32 hours until I head home!

In other news, the past two days have been uneventful as usual. Jetlag has not been too much of an issue, and for some lucky reason it’s become A LOT easier to wake up in the mornings. I just hope that lasts!

The transition back to work life has been rougher than expected. I honestly thought that the two-week break would cause me to return refreshed and in a happier mental state. But of course, a wave of sadness swept over the moment I stepped back into the building. The sadness only worsened when vacation memories floated to mind – I miss my time with the family so much! Ok enough before I start crying again.

(I brought this cute tissue pack back from Russia, how appropriate right? Just looking at it makes me want to cry but at least I have the tissues to catch my tears! What a sick cycle.)

In happier news, I brought Russian candy and a pryanik for my co-workers and they loved both!

The pryanik is only made in Tulsa, a small town 2 hours outside of Moscow and coincidentally where my aunt/uncle/cousin live.

I ate an exorbitant amount of sugar/desserts/sweets while in Russia and my body is begging for a temporary break from it. So far, the sugar addiction I thought I developed hasn’t yet prevailed. Instead, my entire body has been loving wholesome foods again!

Grapes:

Oatmeal:

(topped with organic raspberries and almond butter… YES)

Massive salads:

(Chickpea Veggie Sandwich from Potbelly’s)

A guilty-pleasure TV show has made the transition to the real world easier as well:

I die for this show but was secretly slightly disappointed with yesterday’s finale. Also, can I please have Spencer’s entire wardrobe?

My final dreamy thought is this: why can’t life just be one big vacation? Ok so maybe “vacation” is too extreme, but I do believe that if you do what you love, it will not feel like work.

A thought-provoking question for you: can fulfilling work actually not feel like work?

Any Pretty Little Liars fans out there? What did you think of the summer finale? Were you surprised?

♥ Irina

Good morning and happy Thursday! I’m back in the cornfields for the next few weeks for work but am quite excited to drive home tonight (I travel Mon-Thurs). I have tunnel vision and it’s set at 4pm.

Here’s what I’m looking forward to in the next ~34 hours (until Friday evening):

– Tonight’s 2-mile walk around the lake with my mom
– Catching up on Pretty Little Liars tonight while lounging around in my precious bed, preferably with chocolate and tea (chocolatea!)
– Sleeping in until 8am tomorrow morning. Work from home means my commute is walking down the stairs to my living room table
– Staying in pajamas all day: no running or stepping outside will occur…love it
– Finally trying out my new 55-300mm lens
– Tomorrow’s cookie baking session – I have a suspicion I’ll be making another massive batch of the Happy Trails Cookies…
– Trawffle making tomorrow! What flavor should I make? I’ll clearly be spending a lot of time in the kitchen during my work-from-home “lunch hour”
– Speaking of lunch time, I can’t wait to eat food that actually comes out of my own refrigerator

 Oh how the little things make me happy…

 The past few days have luckily gone by fairly quickly. After allowing myself to “sleep in” an extra hour on Monday (much needed after Sunday’s half marathonthank you all for the congratulations!!!), I headed out the door to make the dreaded drive to the middle of nowhere. I won’t complain about how my mood became gloomier with each passing mile, but at least a sweet snack of cherries helped ease some of the mental (and physical!) pain.

Speaking of physical pain, I am surprisingly not too sore after the half marathon. I expected to limp around for the next few days thanks to DOMS, but my leg and knee soreness was minor. In fact, I would say the DOMS I felt after my 11-miler a few weeks ago was much worse. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t limping though…my toes are destroyed (damn you, Toe Caps!) and wearing closed-toe shoes to work led to constant pain while walking. I think I’m going to lose two toenails.

As planned, I took this entire week off of running and the lack of early morning wake up calls has led to some great long sleep sessions. It’s crazy to think that so many people are continuing training for upcoming marathons. I felt borderline burnt-out by the end of my training and couldn’t imagine continuing. I guess that’s my body’s way of telling me that I should not be considering running a marathon quite yet…’yet’ being the key word.

This week’s eats have ranged from Potbelly’s:

(Mediterranean veggie sandwich on skinny whole wheat bread = OBSESSION)

To Subway salads:

(spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, pickles, olives, banana peppers, guac all topped with sprouted lentils that I brought from home)

To random cafeteria salads:

(jam-packed with veggies, quinoa, and tofu)

 Also, I’m gonna go ahead and make fun of myself for a second by confessing that I can’t park:

Every.time. I’ve been driving for 8 years…I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Don’t answer that.

One more random photo for this random blog post:

My gummy bear vitamins melted into a big blob mess in my car! Taking my daily vitamins just got a whole lot more fun.

My final thought – two days ago I realized that my freaking birthday is next Sunday! It was a total “What the eff?!?” moment – goes to show you how much I dislike celebrating my birthday.

Alright folks, as you’re reading this I am hopefully powering through the day like a champ and nearing the light at the end of the tunnel. Tomorrow is FRIDAY!

 Have you ever had a black toenail?

Birthdays – love them or hate them?

Are you a good driver / parker? Please make me feel better by saying ‘No’!

♥ Irina