…la boda cuernavaca…

Let’s escape to the City of Eternal Spring. La ciudad de la eterna primivera.

Let’s escape this unrelenting frigid snowy situation in Chicago for the warm air and blue skies of the Sierra de Chichinautzin mountains.

Let’s go. Let’s go on a quick three and a half hour plane ride that takes us far away from the February weather we are suffering through. It’s basically a whole different world, for more reasons than one.

Who’s in?

As we embark on our journey to Cuernavaca, we touch down at Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City. We go to pick up our checked bag. Oh wait.. where is it? I’m seeing dozens of large black suitcases on that conveyor belt but not ours. At least I have some basic toiletries and other things to keep me somewhat presentable. Worse things could happen. Worse things do happen…

After getting the runaround about our suitcase, we end up with an extra $100 dollars in our pocket and told our bag will arrive at our hotel the next day. I’ll take it.

Enter Senor Johnnie Walker, Lu’s awesome cousin. He lives in Mexico City and kindly agrees to pick us up from the airport. The drive from Mexico City to Cuernavaca (a drive that I’ve done only one other time) takes us through the bustling metropolis of Mexico and onto a curvy mountainside road that deposits us in this beautiful City of Eternal Spring. I’m sure everybody is well aware of the negative publicity Mexico gets for its crime. Having been to Mexico three times in the past two years, I have always felt far removed from any sort of violence. Although it is somewhat alarming that each policeman carries a machine gun strapped to his chest. Hashtag Yikes. Hashtag Scary.

Now we’ve only just begun our ride through the city. Mexico City has just shy of 9 million people and a surrounding urban population of 21 million. It’s dense, and it’s traffic is horrendous. Of course we leave the airport in the evening so getting stuck in that traffic is inevitable. At least I’m in good company. Remember when I mentioned that worse things do happen? This is the part where the worst happens. We’re stopped at a stoplight probably talking about something silly. Laughing. Windows cracked for a fresh evening breeze. The sun has already set. THUNK. Two men on a motorcycle accost the driver’s side, stick a gun in the window, and say in fast Spanish “Dame tu telefono! Tu telefono! Tu cartera!” Yep. That happened. We were robbed at gunpoint, and it was officially the scariest moment of my life. Johnnie handled the situation. He handed over his iPhone, which was already on display so there was no getting out of that one. He handed over some sunglasses. I sat in the backseat absolutely frozen scared. You never know how you’re going to act in these situations, and my act was inaction. If you had a snapshot of my face, I was probably holding my breath with my jaw dropped and eyes wide open. It didn’t even really occur to me to reach into my purse and handover my goods, which was quite dumb. I was too busy thinking “is this real life? Is this actually happening?” They told Johnnie to turn off the car. They told us to give them more. While I remained paralyzed, Johnnie and Lu were acting their hearts out. They were doing the universal “I don’t have anything else” sign where they pat their pockets and shrug. Johnnie told them we were visiting and didn’t have anything. Then by the grace of God, the light turned green and they sped off leaving us dumbfounded. We were all so shaken up but also very relieved that they left us alone without taking everything and most importantly without hurting us. Are you still in for our trip to Cuernavaca? I calmed my nerves with some simple math. The probability of that happening to us again had to be very low. Besides, having lived in Mexico his whole life that sort of situation has never happened to Johnnie before so it is a rare occurrence. Let’s not forget that the beans live in one of the most violent cities in America. Chicago is known for its gang-related violence and unfortunately large number of murders. It’s a sad truth that violence is everywhere but you have to keep on living. Onward, we go.

We arrive in Cuernavaca. It’s late, and we’re hungry. The answer to our hunger in Mexico is always street tacos. We love us some tacos. Two things that always taste better in Mexico are tacos and fruit. Always. We meet up with the bride-to-be (Lu’s cousin, Johnnie’s sister) and her handsome groom to bask in the taco goodness. Vacation has begun.

Let’s fast forward. Wedding day has arrived. Estefania and her mom planned one of the most stunning weddings. As expected, the weather was nothing short of perfect. There was not a cloud in the sky. Flowers blooming in a lovely garden. Pink and white were the predominant colors. Let’s let some pictures do the talking.

photo 4 copy

photo 5(2)

photo 1 copy

photo 4(1)

photo 1(3)

After the beautiful ceremony came cocktail hour. Sunshine + family + margaritas = happiness.

photo(2)

photo 2(3)

photo 1

photo 5

photo(1)

After cocktail hour came a delicious seated dinner followed by hours of dancing. You want to know a good way to make this American gal feel dumb? Throw me into a pool of beautiful Latinos salsa dancing in their gorgeous dresses with 4 inch heels on like it ain’t no thang. Um, yeah. Don’t get me wrong, I still got out there to bust my best moves but folks probably thought I had two left feet. At least my primary dancing partner (hi, big frijol) has a set of those Latin hips himself so my guess is everybody was looking at him and not me anyway. Seriously, if you don’t know then now you know. The big frijol is an amazing dancer. Swoon.

Now let’s talk more about how gorgeous the people were. Mexicans sure do look pretty. The ladies, and I’m talking both the bridal party and guests included, were dressed in beautiful, bright colors with hair and make-up to the nines. It was an exceptionally good looking wedding.

One of the cool things about the wedding was that the food kept on coming. After dinner, we indulged in esquites. Followed by chilaquiles, pozole, and of course there were some tacos shortly after midnight to round out the party. It was an awesome celebration in honor of the lovely couple who appeared so happy and so in love. The whole event was heartwarming and magical. Who doesn’t love love?

Now I’m back in the windy city. It’s calm before yet another winter storm moves in tonight.  Make today a good day. xo, lw.

PS: how beautiful is our abuelita?

photo 2photo(1)photo 1(2)

the beanstalk lives

Did you think I fell off the face of the earth or something? I’m not going to lie,  I even thought myself that perhaps the beanstalk had seen its final days. I mean I love my little space of the internet… The little beanstalk space where I can ramble on about basically nothing… But there are times when my creative juices run dry and this time that dry spell lasted for months. Yes, I was still reading my favorite blogs daily but I was feeling uninspired when it came to my own writing.

Last week I found some inspiration in an odd place. I came across a fabulous photography series called “Follow Me To…”. Murad Osmann, a Russian photographer/videographer travels the world with his gorgeous Russian girlfriend, and they snap pictures at iconic and exotic locations across the globe. Each picture is of the lady’s backside with her arm extended behind, tugging Osman forward. These pictures are just so darn cute. Osmann captures these tender moments beautifully. You can find the pictures on his Instagram account, here. I’m anxiously awaiting the next post, which will come from the French Alps (there was a lil foreshadow on the muse’s instagram). These pics make me want to live, love, travel and be present. They also reminded me one of the purposes of my blog; to record my journey. While my journey may not be as international as theirs, I do some fun things every now & then. I also do a lot of boring things. Oh well.

Take the inspiration I got from those pictures, throw on a hefty dose of resolution (the new year variety) and here we are. I’m back.

There is way too much that has happened since my last post to do a thorough update but I’d like to hit a few highlights.

Thanksgiving in Boston with one of our favorite couples.

photo 2-2

An anniversary weekend at a bed & breakfast in Wisconsin.

photo 1-1

A new apartment and some new furniture.

photo 3

Christmas and New Years in Chicago with both my family and Lu’s family. (Unfortunately I didn’t take pics of my fam. What?)

photo 2-1

photo-127

My Chicago bestie moved back from NYC!

photo 1

And here there was a lowlight over the past couple of months: the Polar Vortex. Chicago set a record low of -16 with a windchill in the -30s.
That happened.

I hope this post finds all of you happy and enjoying these days. 2014 is a good year for you to choose happiness and to make yourself better.
Life is too short to do otherwise. Adios for now…

xo,lw

it’s that time of year.

….It’s that time of year. Yep, you know what I’m talking about. It’s soup time. It’s suppose to be in the mid-60s in Chicagoland today so I figured some homemade tomato soup just makes sense. Vitamin A, anyone?

I found THIS TOMATO SOUP RECIPE last year from the ever entertaining and delicious How Sweet It Is blog, and I’ve made it multiple times. Amaaazing. Comfort food at its finest. Maybe it’s the cheese (mascarpone and havarti) that makes this soup extra delectable. Maybe it’s the blend of spices. Maybe not. This is one of those soups that is definitely worth the extra time invested — it ain’t no Campbell’s tomato soup. I dare you make it.

photo-86

One of my favorite kitchen tools is my garlic press. Love it. Do you have one yet?

photo-94

I’m a little sad that summer days may be behind us (read: I’m actually super excited for fall but I feel like I should mourn the loss of summer like everybody else is doing). Let’s take a look at some highlights from the last couple months of my summer.

First up: Family wedding in Guadalajara. Lu’s beautiful cousin was married in August. It was lovely to see Lu’s momma’s home city and spend time with the family. It was a gorgeous wedding. We also got to spend an afternoon in Tlaquepaque., which is an adorable artsy town next to Guadalajara. We brought home a few fun souvenirs including his & hers leather jackets. Let’s chalk that one up as the most random purchase I may have ever made. Maybe I’ll whip out that leather jacket this weekend now that fall is in the air.

photo-108

561574_10151797184884424_302834962_n

photo-113

photo-111

photo-112

photo-110

Next up: Grilling with Papa T. The man can make a mean scallop. And that sweet corn took me back to my childhood in Iowa enjoying sweet corn by the bushel each summer. So delicious. We spent a few evenings eating good food with good company. And a pretty good view, if I do say so myself.

photo-95

Next up: Big brother-in-law and his lady friend came to visit us in Chicago for a fun long weekend. Events included celebrating his birthday, eating at Girl and the Goat (my new favorite restaurant in Chicago. It DEFINITELY lives up to the hype. I didn’t expect to be so impressed with the food. While the price tag was steep, it wasn’t outrageous. I’ll be going back in about four months aka the amount of time it takes to get a reservation there), wandering the city, watching football and playing lots of candy crush saga.

1185382_10100380167148828_1527421737_n

1236697_10100380165182768_324112003_n

photo-99

photo-100

And finally: Babysitting our niece, Sophie. She had us wrapped around her little paw while her parents were away. We love that kitty. Except she did have some feisty moments where she would attack us and chase our toes. It was all in good fun.

photo-114

There has also been a whole lot of watching Breaking Bad this summer. And fresh summer eats. Check out these grilled chicken/shrimp kabobs. I smoked out our whole apartment making these bad boys. That was interesting.

photo-115

As these days of summer are winding down and we begin the spiral into shorter days and colder temps, I want to leave you all with the following thought. I hope you all are doing well. xo, lw

tumblr_magfloFCSF1rgj6lto1_400

 

independence day

Alright, I realize the 4th of July was so last week but bear with me because I’m going to post about it anyway. HBD, America!! I had the day off work and was able to celebrate the good times with a couple hundred of my closest friends at North Ave beach. =) The big frijol and I hit the lakefront for a few hours with my little bro and Kelly. The weather was decent enough for me to get a killer sunburn that is just now healing… this nurse made a bad decision going sans sunscreen. Seriously, what was I thinking?! I honestly never do that. And I never will again.

After the beach, we came back to casa de bean for some steaks and drinks. Matt and Kelly even brought along their sweet little Sophie kitten for the evening. She is so darn cute. It was a true American day complete with country music and fireworks over Navy Pier. Thank you to those who gave us freedom and those who continue to protect our freedom in this great country of ours. I hope y’all had a lovely 4th, too.

IMG_0594

photo-83

IMG_0599

photo-84

photo-85

Until next year, fourth of July. Cheers to America! xo, lw

PS: Did you spot the American flag reflection in Lu’s sunglasses? Pretty cool, huh?

congrats, grad.

Many congratulations and felicidades to my hub, the big frijol!!

He graduated with an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business this past weekend and he did it with high honors. His dedication to the program was inspiring. Lu worked so hard day in and day out. He not only worked hard on his course work, but he also held several internships, began his own start-up with peers and was involved in multiple clubs on campus. What’s even more impressive? He did it all with a smile and a good attitude. Ok you’re right, I’m quite possibly his number one fan. But all bias aside, I can honestly say not once did I hear Lu complain about his work or displace stress on others. He just went on his merry way and got stuff done. I couldn’t be more proud of him. Congrats, Lu!

Lu’s mother, father and brother traveled to Chicago to celebrate his graduation. His cousin and grandma also came from Mexico to join in the festivities. Since my immediate family all lives in Chicago, they were around to party with us as well. We had a grand old time.

Let’s take a look at some pictures from my iPhone. One day, I hope to get a real camera. Like a Nikon (hint, hint).

Before all the hoopla, Lu and I went to dinner, just the two of us, at The Pump Room to celebrate. Cheers to the graduate.

photo-74

Once folks started arriving, we got our tourist on. We walked around the city – stopped at the bean and Water Tower Place. Lu went into Lego Land because once a boy, always a boy. We took a tour of the Chicago by bus. We ate deep dish pizza. We enjoyed this city.

photo-62

photo-79

photo-65

photo-73

photo-67The graduation ceremony itself was probably the least boring graduation ceremony I’ve been to. They had two very good speakers, Eugene Fama and JB Pritzker. I was engaged the whole time. And the 800-some name reading went by remarkably quickly, too. I got a little bit sad when it was all over… (cue nostalgia)

photo-76

photo-77

photo-77

photo-71

photo-72

photo-65

After the ceremony, we went to a tasty dinner at Bistrot Margot a cute French restaurant in Old Town. Then the youngsters went out on the town until t-h-r-e-e-a-m… I am not conditioned for that kind of partying. But it was fun. I ran into my bestie, Meg.

IMG_7198-1

We had such a wonderful long weekend and as with most things in life, it all went by way too quickly. Congrats to you, Lu. Now it’s on to the next journey as a guy with an MBA from the BEST business school in the world. ;-)

xo, lw

happy father’s day.

Happy Father’s Day to all you Papas out there.

And most especially, Happy Father’s Day to my wonderful Papa T. You have a kind and giving heart. Your dedication and work ethic are inspiring. I cherish the time we spend together… I am truly blessed to be your daughter. Thank you for all that you have done and all that do, dad.

photo-43

This year was an extra special Father’s Day because we had both papas in Chicago to celebrate. My papa-in-law, Esteban, is amazing. He is the life of the party, and we wouldn’t want it any other way. To celebrate the hombres in our world, my mom-in-law made an amazingly delicious Mexican dinner for the family. We got our red-meat on (this is Father’s Day. You gotta eat like a man.) and indulged in some beef tinga, guacamole, rice and chayote followed by a homemade strawberry pie for dessert. You best believe we all ate like kings.

After dinner we engaged in some friendly family competition in the form of Catch Phrase. That game is fun. Obviously, the ladies won. We ended our lovely Father’s Day with a lovely walk along the lakefront. For the first time in the history of Chicago, there was no wind on the lake. It felt so right but so wrong at the same time.

photo-52

I hope everybody got to enjoy this day with the fathers that they love just like I did. There is nothing better than family time.  Stay tuned for more frequent posts… Life has gotten in the way of my blogging the past few weeks! I have some catching up to do.

xo, lw

mother’s day. a happy day.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you mommas out there.

Most especially, my momma and my best friend. My momma who is selfless, affectionate, and always there for her children. We were so blessed to be placed in your loving arms. Thank you for all that you do. You are truly an angel. I love you!

Just about a year and a half ago, I was blessed again. I was given an incredible mother-in-law my sweet Mexican momma, Susana. She has done a wonderful job raising her two handsome sons. I am grateful to now be included in her world. Susana, Feliz dia de las madres!

Screen Shot 2013-05-12 at 5.11.32 PM

A picture of our beautiful mommas! Look at those smiles.

photo-36

My brothers, Lu, Kelly and I went over to the mom’s place for a nice brunch this morning. Pancakes. Mmmmm.

photo-37

After the brunch, I had to get my lift on. I’ve been consistently lifting weights this month and it hurts so good. I think I’m starting to enjoy lifting and I actually look forward to the workout… I think.

Today’s workout:
2 mile warm-up (8:15 min/mile)
Full body lift session for 1 hr (planning to post on my lifting regimen soon)
2 mile cool-down (8:10 min/mile)

photo-33

She’s happy to be done. That was tiring. Tomorrow is a rest day.

Lu and I are lounging at home for the rest of the day. It’s back to work for both of us tomorrow. I hope everybody has had a lovely Mother’s Day and an enjoyable weekend.
Next up: Father’s Day!

xo, lw

.. happy 92nd birthday Poppy ..

Happy 92nd Birthday to my sweet Poppy!! 92 years young (or is it 29? see the candles). I hope you have a wonderful birthday & enjoy lots of cake. You deserve all the happiness in the world.

We love you! We miss you.

IMG_8431

Party time! Birthday boy.

photo

xo, laura & lu

I’m an Aunt!

I’m officially an Aunt!!

No, it’s not what you think.

As much as we’d love a newborn in this family, I’m talking about a kitten. My little bro and his girlfriend adopted a kitty on Friday. Her name is Sophie and she is quite possibly one of the cutest things on this planet. See pictures for case & point. She’s only nine weeks old. Some argue she has the softest fur in all the land.

photo-22

Sophie has the most darling personality. She was very feisty when I met her just runnin around, playin with her toys. She’s so lightweight that she was sliding all over the wood floors. Adorable. She purrs. And purrs. And purrs. She cuddles. She kneads. She may be the most perfect niece.

photo-23Seeing this cute thing made me wish Lu and I had a pet. Kittens & puppies = happiness. Do you have a pet? If you don’t, what’s your dream pet? I would love a brindle boxer (I know we’ve talked about this) but a dog is too much work for us right now in this little apartment. Maybe some day. I hope you guys are having a fabulous weekend. I am — any weekend I’m not working is a fabulous one.

xo, lw