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Y'all know how much I love birthdays. Especially when those birthdays are my own. I'm thoroughly of the mindset that you have a good two week window (one before and one after the actual day), give or take a few days, in which everything you do can be "for your birthday." You can justify splurging on extra drinks, new dresses, nice meals, all because "it's my birthday," or, "it's almost my birthday,' or, "it was just my birthday." True story. So, since I won't be home on my actual birthday this Saturday (don't feel too bad for me — I'm celebrating...

When a friend reads the description of the art show she's going to and it includes "all your favorite animals will be represented" and "you enter through the Chinese restaurant," you go. No question. When it's already 9pm and you haven't eaten dinner, you still wait in line to get into Big Star before waiting inside to finally get a table. And then you drink too many whiskey drinks and then you eat too many pork belly and fish tacos. But it doesn't matter when it's all so delicious. No question....

Other travelers kept telling me that when I came home from my 'round the world trip I "wouldn't relate to my friends anymore." In response I would just laugh at them and say, "I think I'm going to relate to them more...

When Jeremy suggested a James Bond-themed cocktail party for New Year's Eve I was a little skeptical. For one, it was at Orange, which is a brunch place that isn't usually open past early afternoon. For two, it was a benefit for some Tibetan medical program and I was a little afraid that we'd be surrounded by Buddhists or something or, as Jeremy later said, feel like we were crashing someone's office party. For three, it was a little pricey (for an unemployed girl like me, that is). But, it did include an open bar. And, if there is one...

A few years ago my family stopped celebrating Christmas on Christmas. It was a logical decision. Our family is pretty small and we all live close, in Chicago and the suburbs, so we can see each other at any time. And my oldest sister is married and has a whole other side to her family. Since there really is no use to do the same thing two days in a row, she hosts a party on Christmas Eve, and then we're all free to do as we please on Christmas. Every year growing up Christmas was the same. On Christmas Eve...

Over ten years ago I inherited a guitar from my sister when she replaced it with a new model for herself. Every so often I'd take it out of it's black case and haphazardly strum, making up songs, taking out joy or aggression in the strings. But, mostly, it's sat collecting dust in my closet because I really had no idea how to play....

One of my goals in life is to spend the holidays in Europe. I would love to don my winter best and wander the lights and markets of some German Christmas market. Some day. Some day. Until then, I suppose, the Christkindlmarket in Chicago will have to suffice...

Gnocchi are little magical puffs of Italian goodness. True story. I mean, why would anyone in their right mind ever choose regular old pasta, which is just basically flour when they could have pasta made with potato? Or cheese? Quite possibly two of the most amazing things ever invented? Am I right? I can't tell you the first time I ever ate gnocchi, but I can tell you I eat it often. I ate it at least twice while admiring the canals of Venice(I tried to confirm this by going through my photos, but can you believe that on my first trip to...