Home Sweet Home

The fall travel season is over! I’ve loved getting to travel all over the US, meeting students in all corners of the country, but am SO looking forward to getting back into the routine of home.

To recap the last few weeks of my travel schedule…I took off for Houston on Halloween day and spent the weekend interviewing prospective students. I didn’t see much of Houston other than the inside of an interview suite at the JW Marriott, but I did fall in love with a place called Central Market. It’s an AMAZING store resembling a mix between Whole Foods, Metropolitan Market and Costco- basically it’s utter perfection!

The weekend after Houston I jetted off to the freezing cold Midwest to experience my first snow of the season and interview prospective students from the Chicago area. I also took advantage of my work trip to fit in some quality family time with Jamie and David in Chicago and my Herlache family up in Wisconsin. On Friday I met up with Jamie at my hotel and then we met David and his friend at Headquarters Beercade for some drinks and catching up. I hadn’t seen David in more than 8 years so it was really nice to reconnect.

Saturday and Sunday brought LONG days of interviews, but also delicious food. Jamie treated me to her favorite Chinese takeout on Saturday and we spent the evening gorging on dumplings and cold noodles while enjoying Tangled and Ratatouille from the comfort of her living room. I also got intimate with her sweet pup, Hermione, who was relentless in her pursuit of cuddles. Sunday she treated again with the most delicious homemade posole, and tacos. My mouth is watering thinking about that meal now…I contributed to the spread with some treats from Eataly (the most awesome Italian market right across the street from my hotel). We were in culinary heaven.  Post meal we enjoyed the Bears crushing defeat at the hands of the Packers. Nothing like watching your favorite team tromp your least favorite team in the bad guys own city.

Monday morning we hit the road and made our way to Wisconsin where my Grandma had homemade mac ‘n cheese and cornbread waiting:) We had lunch with my grandparents and uncle John and the rest of the family came by for pizza and conversation that evening. It was great to catch up and indulge in some of my grandma’s famous cooking as well as those tasty Wisconsin beers you can only get in-state. The next morning Jamie left early to get back for some meetings and I spent the day hanging out with my grandparents looking at old slides of their years in Europe and picking up some Packer gear. I had to head back to the airport and LA that afternoon. It was much too short a trip, but I’m so glad I got those 2 days to see family and recharge my batteries a little bit after 46 consecutive days of work (yes I counted!).

Traveling to Chicago was a great opportunity to fit in some family time and my trip to Portland was a great opportunity to spend some much needed quality time with one of my oldest friends, Jessie. She picked me up at the airport Friday evening and we got to catch up over dinner and drinks at some of her favorite spots around Portland. I met some of her fantastic friends and we said goodbye with plans to meet up again on Sunday evening for dinner.

I started all three of my days in Portland with Blue Star Donuts and Stumptown Coffee. I was seriously obsessed with the donuts at Blue Star. I was in Portland for 3 days and I ended up trying 7 kinds of donuts! They were all amazing, but the Blackberry Compote with Peanut Butter Dusting was melt in your mouth delicious and I’ve never had a better Maple Bacon. I was (am) so into Blue Star I even started following them on Instagram. Which I don’t recommend unless you’re a sucker for pain– looking at those donuts everyday and knowing I can’t put them in my mouth is incredibly painful.

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Besides amazing donuts Portland has a massive foodie scene. All weekend I ate so well (and so much!).  Saturday was filled with interviews, but I finally made it to the famous food carts for lunch, opting for a grilled cheese from Grilled Cheese Grill. After work concluded for the day I was able to spend a few of my evening hours at the famous Powells before returning to Tasty N Alder for a delicious dinner of cheese, scallops and local beer.

Sunday brought more interviews and more delicious food. Blue Star obviously kicked off my morning. Some colleagues and I had pork sandwiches at Lardo for lunch and then Jessie and Katy took me to another of their local spots, Old Salt Marketplace, for dinner. It was an indulgent weekend to say the least. Portland is the only place I got to visit twice on my travels this fall and it was the perfect repeat offender. It’s a beautiful, walkable town with a funky vibe and incredible food. Hopefully I can figure out a way to get in on my spring travel schedule as well;)

After all the travel I was so thankful to have some time at home. Unfortunately my first weekend in CA since September was also the weekend Dave planned a trip up to the Bay to hang out with Nick and Nathan (who was in town for a conference). Dave had a great time reminiscing about college and exploring more of SF with his friends. I’m pretty sure they did a lot of beer drinking and then on Saturday he and Nate drove into Marin to hike, hit the beach and eat oysters. It was a quick trip, but he had a great time hanging out with his old friends.

While Dave was up in the Bay I had plenty to keep me busy. Friday night I met up with Kristie in Culver City for dinner and drinks. We had so much fun chatting and was happy that we were able to fit in some time during her super quick trip to LA. Saturday I had breakfast with my family and then dropped Maddie and some friends off at the Rose Bowl for pre-game festivities before the the USC v. UCLA game. That night my ladies came over for girl time and nachos. It’s always a challenge coordinating a time everyone can make it, but I love when we make it happen. Katie, Kathleen, Kathy, Rob- we must do it again soon!!

Sunday brought the big open house on campus and also the start to a wonderfully short work week leading into my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving!! On Tuesday after work I drove down to Dana Point to meet my family at the beach house we’d rented right on the beautiful California coast. And I mean right on. We spent every day lounging in the backyard overlooking the Pacific and every night falling asleep to the sound of crashing waves. We had all the traditional favorites for the big holiday and some family came down Friday to hang out at our swanky abode. It was relaxing, rejuvenating and fun. The weather was perfect and I couldn’t have imagined a better way to spend the long weekend.

This past weekend wrapped up the final segment of fall travel. I was up in Oakland to interview students from the Bay. It was the busiest weekend of the year, but also fun because a whole crew of USC staff were up to manage the volume. We met a lot of great students and indulged at some of the great local restaurants. Friday we splurged on small plates at The Grand Tavern and Saturday we had a tasty meal at the deceptively swanky Honor Kitchen. And it’s my last work trip till April! When I got back spent the evening decorating our tree and really getting into the festive holiday spirit. We’ll be spending Christmas with my family and then flying cross country to Maine to ring in the new year. Par the course it’s going to be a busy but fun-filled month! Merry Christmas everyone!!