Chicago: What We Did

Since I wrote about what we ate in Chicago on Monday, I thought I should probably also tell you about what we did. We had A LOT of fun in Chicago that had nothing to do with food. Chicago is such a cool city—there are so many things to see and do, and we definitely couldn’t fit everything in on such a quick trip. We’d love to go back soon (preferably when it’s a little warmer!). Here are some of the best things we did in Chicago:

1. Exploring the Art Institute of Chicago: This was recommended to us over and over again, and I have to admit that it was pretty awesome. The art institute is HUGE and completely overwhelming, but there are some really beautiful pieces housed there. I think it is completely worth the price of admission. However, if I did it again, I would give myself more time and do some research to figure out what I wanted to see the most. You just can’t see everything (unless you’re willing to give up an entire day to do it), and I definitely preferred the more contemporary pieces. Very cool experience. FullSizeRender_3 2. Cocktails at The Signature Lounge: The Signature Lounge is on the 96th floor of the John Hancock building. You can grab a seat by the floor-to-ceiling windows and take in a beautiful view of Chicago while you sip on a fancy (and overpriced) cocktail. I loved it! You can go to one of the observation deck at the John Hancock building or Sears Tower and pay $30+, or you can do basically the same thing at The Signature Lounge for a third of the price (and it includes a drink!).  Also, definitely stop by the ladies’ room—there are some great views in there, too! I would recommend getting there a little before 5.  We got there at 4:45 and got great seats, but it got really crowded soon after we sat down. It would also be really pretty at night when the city is all lit up! FullSizeRender 3. Book of Mormon at the Bank of America Theater: We wanted to see a show while we were there, and we went to this one with our friend Aislinn and her brother. It was FANTASTIC! If you’ve never seen this musical, I highly recommend it. It is absolutely hilarious, and if you take it for what it is—a satire—then I don’t think it’s that offensive. We got the cheap seats (the kind where you have to check a box that indicates you understand you may have an obstructed view), but were able to move over to where there were some empty seats and had a great view. Definitely check out what shows are in town while you’re there, and plan a night out! FullSizeRender_1 4. Millenium Park and Wrigleyville. We spent our last day in Chicago walking around and exploring the city. We went to Millennium Park (where a lot of the really famous sculptures are located), walked along the river, and ended up in Wrigleyville to check out the Cubs stadium. On a warmer day we would have liked to do some of the other outdoor activities, like Navy Pier and the Lincoln Park zoo, but it was just too cold. FullSizeRender FullSizeRender_4 For the guys: While I was in my conference, Bryan went to a White Sox game and LOVED it (the Cubs were away that week). He has now officially declared himself a White Sox fan, and highly recommends going to a game and getting a Chicago-style hotdog while you’re there. His other favorite thing was a bar called Headquarters. It had a ton of video games that were completely free as long as you bought a drink (think old school: Ninja Turtles, Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Pinball, etc.). I’m pretty sure he could have spent an entire day there. And I’ll admit I had fun, too!

Chicago: What We Ate

Whenever we travel, my number one priority is food (Bryan is all about the local sports teams and local beers). I love to eat and I really love trying new restaurants, so I’m all about filling our itinerary with delicious food and recommendations from locals. A lot of my choices came from one of favorite writers, Shauna Niequist, as well as friends and Pinterest (of course!). We ate some really, really good food while we were there. Here are a few of my favorites:

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1. Quartino. Y’ALL. I can’t even. Our dinner at Quartino was one of the best I’ve had in a long time. Italian tapas that were to die for (not to mention one of the best desserts I’ve ever had).  My favorites were the penne alla vodka, calamari, and zeppole with dark chocolate. The pizza was also delicious. If you’re planning a trip to Chicago, make a reservation and thank me later. Seriously, I’m planning another trip just so I can have dinner there again.

2. Bistro Campagne. This was another Shauna recommendation. It’s a darling, cozy french restaurant that’s elegant without being too pricey.  It’s a little out of the way from the main action downtown, but totally worth the trip. I had the steak frites, and Bryan has the croque monsieur (both of which were delicious), but the best thing we ate was the pot-de-creme. Just fantastic.

3. Little Goat. I super loved Little Goat. The Little Goat is a diner-style restaurant that manages to feel both cozy and very special at the same time. It has a really fun atmosphere, and the smoked fries were heavenly. Trust me. Order them.

4. Pizza Capri. This our first food stop in Chicago, so we had to get deep dish pizza. This place didn’t really have an authentic Chicago pizza parlor vibe, but I thought the food was really good. I usually don’t like deep dish pizza because I’m not a huge fan of sauce, but this one was almost all cheese and toppings with a thin layer of sauce on top. Delicious. A word to the wise: a small is PLENTY for two people!

5. Shake Shack. This burger spot is a chain in big cities (and super casual), but there was a line out the door and you had to fight for a table. For good reason, too. The burgers were SO good (especially with the special Shack sauce), and the shakes were delicious, too. Bryan and I both said we weren’t that hungry, so we decided to split a burger. That was a mistake. I wanted my own, so I’m probably going to have to go back!

6. Cheesie’s. Our friend Aislinn introduced to this fun little grilled cheese shop. If you love a good grilled cheese, you will love this place. I had a grilled cheese made with homemade macaroni and cheese on Texas toast. Bryan had the Napolean, which had cheddar, blue cheese, tater tots, hot sauce, and bacon (his was better). This was the perfect end to our Chicago food tour!

Friday Links

Friday Links are a round-up of my favorite posts/videos/projects/photos from around the web.

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Happy Friday! I haven’t posted very much this week, because we have been away on a little adventure to the Windy City. I was there for a conference, and Bryan tagged along so we could enjoy some time together and do a little exploring when I wasn’t in meetings. We had SUCH a great time, and I’ll be sharing more about our time there next week. For now, this weekend is all about rest, laundry, and catching up from being away. And also enjoying the warm weather—Chicago is COLD! Have a great weekend, friends! XO

For your weekend reading pleasure…

  • This really interesting article from the NY Times about a moral bucket list, idea that there are experiences one should have on the way to the richest, fullest life possible.
  • This post from Shauna Niequist about spiritual growth and the importance of continuing to add new tools to your toolbox.
  • Some party planning tips from Emily at Cupcakes and Cashmere.

Beach Weekend

We spent the most wonderful weekend away with friends. A group of us headed to the beach on Friday—several of my best friends from college and their husbands/boyfriends.  We spent three lovely days playing games, soaking up a little sun, and just catching up on life. It was SO nice just to get away, but it was even better to be with people we love so much.

The older I get the more I realize that friendship is an investment—you get out of it what you’re willing to put in. When I met these ladies, friendship came pretty easily. If we wanted to spend time together, we walked just across campus (or more likely just across the hall).  We ate meals together, watched tv together at night, and spent every weekend together. We knew when one of us had a bad day or had a big test coming up or was dating a new guy. There were very few secrets and even fewer moments alone.

These days friendship takes a little more work.  We’re all busy with jobs and husbands and homes and other commitments, and it takes more time and energy to be a part of each other’s lives. And so when we get three whole days together it feels like the most precious thing. I love catching up with these people who are such a big part of who I am—who cried with me and laughed with me and figured out life with me. I’m leaving the weekend behind a little more sunburnt and a lot more thankful for the kind of friendship that spans years and states, for the kind that makes life just a little bit sweeter.

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Friday Links

Friday Links are a round-up of my favorite posts/videos/projects/photos from around the web.

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Happy Friday! This Friday is even better than most because we’re currently beach bound with some of our best friends. I can’t wait to have my toes in the sand, a good book in my hands, and the sound of crashing waves filling my head. We are so looking forward to a few days of doing nothing but having fun and relaxing with people we love. Here’s to a beautiful (and sunny) weekend—hope it’s a great one! XO

For your weekend reading pleasure…

  • This open letter to the abducted Chibok schoolgirls from Malala Yousafzai.
  • A list of 10 Ways to Simplify Your Life (#5 is so, so key).
  • This post about a lay leader’s thoughts on her dying church. There’s some really good stuff here. I wish we had loved Christ more and our church less. I have seen us make many decisions over the years where in spite of prayers for God’s leadership, the control people in our church rejected what many of us felt was the clear leading of God. They always claimed they were trying to save our church. It did not work. We’re gone.

*Photo Source

April Reading List

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1. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh is a novel about family, flowers, and how we communicate with one another. I honestly loved this book. It took me a while to really get into it, but once I got to know the characters I was hooked. The novel alternates back and forth between the story of a young girl in foster care and that of the woman she becomes.  It is a story of healing, hope, and reconciliation—and along the way you’ll also learn a little something about flowers.

2. The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle is a memoir about marriage—and it is HILARIOUS. Melanie’s writing is honest, witty, and laugh out loud funny. The Antelope in the Living Room is a collection of stories about marriage and learning to create a life together (while maintaining your sanity).  I do kind of feel like you might to be married to appreciate this book (or at least be in a long-term relationship), because so much of what makes it good is constantly thinking, “YES! That is SO true!” and bonding over the fact that husbands are gross and weird and completely irreplaceable. Her most recent book is a memoir about friendship, and I’m really looking forward to reading that one, too.

3. The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty. I discovered Liane Moriarty a few months ago, and I’ve already read every single one of her books (and each one is better than the last). She writes with wit, humor, and insight into human emotions and motivations.  The Hypnotist’s Love Story alternates back and forth between the story of Ellen (a hypnotist who meets and falls in love with a man named Patrick) and Sasika (Patrick’s stalker).  One of the best things about Moriarty is her talent for character development.  She allows readers to really experience the depth of a character, and you’ll find yourself experiencing moments of both deep affection and strong dislike for almost every single character.  Now I just need her to come out with something new!

Friday Links

Friday Links are a round-up of my favorite posts/videos/projects/photos from around the web.

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Hello friends! The sweet man in this picture with Bryan is his Papaw, who passed away this week.  He had been sick for a long time, but knowing that doesn’t make loss any easier. This picture is from last October when we visited his grandparents’ farm in Missouri. Since they live so far away, we don’t get to see them often, and this was my first trip to the farm. That trip was one of the richest parts of our year and such a sweet memory for us. I hope your weekend is full of love, rest, and memory-making! XO

For your weekend reading pleasure…

  • This post from Crystal Stine on uncomplicated friendship.
  • This ice cream that understands the struggles of PMS.
  • This fun photo matting project from A Beautiful Mess. I may need to have some craft time this weekend!
  • This post on creating v. criticizing.
  • What They Never Tell You about marriage from Shawn Smucker.