TIME TO REFLECT

I’m a broken record and stating that this was yet again another crazy month - with a lot of travel, family, and time to reflect.

FOURTH OF JULY

We all know the 4th of July is a day of remembrance and reflection, but now that will forever have deeper meaning. As the holiday was coming up, I already made plans to fly to Dallas on the 4th to spend some time with family; however a few days prior we found out that my Uncle had a severe heart attack and had been critical in the hospital ever since. When I touched down in DFW, we received the news that my Uncle had passed away. I couldn’t have been more thankful to have been with parents during this time - it made me appreciate so much more the couple days I had with them and so grateful that I had booked this trip home.

The sister & bro-in-law drove in for dinner and we all gathered around for a teary cheers, delicious food & overly loud fireworks. Mom & dad served up these street corn nachos, burrata tomatoes, ribs, and fresh fruits.

MAKING THE MOST OF IT

The rents and I took advantage of one day in Dallas with rooftop drinks before they headed to Pella, IA to be with my aunt.

This allowed me to spend some unscheduled QT with Mikeezy - which of course included Summie snuggles and deep convos over old-fashioneds.

REFLECTING & REMEMBERING

I was fortunate to be able to head to Pella myself and spend time with my aunt, g-rents, cousins, and additional family.

It was a blessing to be able to go through boxes of memories and spend time reflecting on my Uncle Dave. I found this sweet poem as well as an old photo of my mom (who looks exactly like me as a child).

My dad and I were also asked to speak at the service - Dave read a note written by one of Uncle Dave’s sisters and I read quotes picked out by the grandkids. It was amazing to see everyone who came out to love & remember Uncle Dave throughout the days I was there.

PARENTS IN THE CITY

The parents then made their way to Chicago for an originally planned trip. It is always sad that sometimes it takes hard moments to realize how lucky we are - but this time was a great opportunity to soak in all the good times with all of the family.

My mom found these awesome events through SoFar - they are “secret gigs & intimate concerts”. You sign up for a neighborhood, then 2 days prior to the event you receive the address and you don’t know who is playing until you show up. We were all a little skeptical as we had no idea what to expect, but it was one of the most fun night that I’ve had. Our venue was an event space mansion with 3 VERY talented singers/rappers.

Of course, there was some boozing - like beers for breakfast at Chicago’s 2nd oldest tavern - (after lots of walking), wine for happy hour (in my aunt & uncle’s beautiful remodeled kitchen), and old-fashioneds for dinner at Sal’s Trattoria (because why not).

This is the SMALLEST glimpse of all the food we ate. Avocado toast at Public House, the most AMAZING cinnamon buns at Gemini (I also had a salmon platter), Greek chicken at a new neighborhood gem Avli (we also had tarama & saganaki).

My aunt & uncle never disappoint with the goods - hummus platter, caprese skewers (Trisha where you at), and a home cooked dinner…which was MUCH needed after all the eating out.

NEW KID ON THE BLOCK

The traveling continues as I head to Iowa City to move out of my old apartment and officially say goodbye to IC. We all know I am obsessed with Sam’s baby, Marquee, however he has a new kid on the block - La Vecina and OMG yall…

Needless to say - Brandee and I ordered EVERYTHING.
Queso fondido - chorizo rojo, chile toreado, ancho chile, queso mixto
Avocado Tacos - crunchy avocado, sunflower seed, walnut salsa macha, pickled jicama, cilantro, chipotle aioli, coconut cream
Aguachile de Camaron Ceviche - grapefruit, pineapple, shrimp, guajillo chile oil, crispy garlic, avocado
Pulpo Veracruz - grilled octopus, crema de aji amarillo & saffron, olive chimichurri ** THE BEST THING EVER
Rumchata Tres Leches…do I even need to explain.

The last shot showcases the insanely beautiful open space kitchen where EVERYTHING is wood fired. My only great is not being more hungry to try more things…I can not wait to go back and try more things on the menu. Way to go Sam…way to go.

HUSTLIN’ FRIES

The best holiday ever lands in July…National French Fry Day! With my job, I had two food events - one celebratory event & one food show - both full of fries & fun.

SISTER SISTER

With work taking me back to Dallas, I got yet another couple more days with the fam. This included sister walks & coffee time at Merit, insanely solid sweat sessions at Fit Social Club, falling in love with this spot Brewed & Pressed, and of course Summie snuggles.

HOME AT LAST

There was VERY minimal time in the city but I still managed to try a new coffee shop, Dark Matter, which fits my dark & twisty needs; enjoy my favorite morning sunsets; and hit up an indoor farmers market, Bellis. Not pictured - the one thing I hate about traveling is missing my Sundays & Wednesdays at Oasis, I still managed to make a few - but am so thankful for the community I’ve begun to build and the power I’ve been able to see.

IN WITH THE OLD

Although the pod took a July hiatus, I continue to cruise through the Old Testament and doodle along the way.

THE REFLECTION

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This month took a toll on me - mentally and physically, but it really caused me to reflect on so many things. How blessed I am - The fact that I am able to travel around, spend time with family and friends, and build new relationships is AMAZING. I look back on where I was a year ago this month, and I am BLOWN away. I was struggling with a relationship, a job and with myself. I have been able to reflect on how fortunate I am to have the people I have in my life, to be able to LOVE people and to SHOW them love, TRUE LOVE. It’s always cheesy to say this when bad things happen, but show people you care. Show up, pick up the phone, send the text - never regret going unsaid. Build the relationship, with your family, your friends, and most importantly with God. Be thankful that we have that opportunity every single day.

TIME TO STEP INTO AUGUST WITH NO BULL - TO WORK HARD & PLAY HARDER