Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Montreal Memories

At the end of May Rob and I visited Montreal for a short getaway. Our friend, Dan visits frequently and he gave us tons of tips on places to visit and where to eat which was so helpful. The day we arrived we checked into our B&B which has the strangest owners I have ever encountered and then we walked to get poutine and grilled cheese for lunch at Patati Patata and it was so good! Then we walked to Mount Royal Park to walk along some of the paths and then we laid in the sun. We went back to the b&b to relax before going to Schwartz's Hebrew Deli for smoked meat, frites and cole slaw. Rob accidentally dropped his black cherry soda, the traditional drink there, because his hands were so greasy from the meat! The servers were all big jokesters and super fun. Then we got homemade ice cream across the street before calling it a night. The next day we suffered through an awkward breakfast with the terrible owners before walking to the old section of the city. We went to the DHC which is a free art gallery and we saw the craziest art exhibit I've ever seen. There were mannequins dressed in KKK outfits and lots of offbeat McDonald's references like Ronald on the cross. It was free and help Rob's attention which was good. Then we walked to the waterfront and laid in the grass for hours before hunting down a lunch spot. Lots of places were closed since it was Sunday and we ended up eating a brunch spot that was very good. After that we visited the Notre Dame Basilica that was very pretty. On our walk back we found musical swings that played music while you swung. It was part of a city wide art exhibit. We rested before dinner at Au Pied Cochon a foodie spot our friend recommended. Basically meat upon meat upon meat. We ordered way too much and shared a huge plate of ham. I felt pretty awful afterwards but it was good. We loved walking on that little street too. The next day we took the metro to the botanic garden which is by the Olympic Park. Rob did a great job navigating us around and making sure we were going the right way. We went to the insectarium which was really unique and fun. They had this crazy ant farm and lots of displays of colorful beetles. We rested by the water garden with different fountains before going to the Japanese Garden that had a really nice bonsai garden and zen garden with a small pond and waterfall. Then we found another pond to walk around and an area to sit with really pretty flowers nearby. We walked through a garden with gardens in styles from around the world before coming across the Chinese garden that we thought was really impressive with a pretty building and waterfall. We also walked through the greenhouse that is similar to our conservatory in Chicago. We took the train back to the city and got lunch at SoupeSoupe - grilled cheese and tomato and bean soup for me and a disappointing hot dog and lentil and tomato soup for Rob. Then we walked to La Fontaine Park to relax by the pond. We got ice cream in St. Louis Square and relaxed at the b&b until dinner at L Bistro Express. We shared a green salad and I had chicken in the most delicious mustard sauce and Rob had pork and veal ravioli with mushrooms and we shared an apple and blueberry crumble. Rob also loved the tiny pickles and spicy mustard they had on every table. On Tuesday we walked to a little cafe called the Little Spoon where we each got really good coffees. We hung out there for a while and then we went to the Modern Art Museum. They had a cool abstract exhibit and some weird video/audio exhibit that we walked out after about 5 minutes. Then we walked really far to Patati Patata for poutine again. After that we went back to the B&B to rest. Shortly after we got back it started pouring so we rested for awhile then took the bus to mile end where Rob realized he had forgotten his wallet and he had all of our money in it. We went to Fairmont Bagels to try their famous bagels that were fine but not amazing. Then I went to Cafe Olimpico while Rob went back to the B&B to get his wallet. We Meet Hogan's friend for a beer at a nearby brewery before we got dinner at a woodfire pizza place that was good but bad service. On our last day we walked to get coffee at the tiny Le Distributrice and then walked to a nearby park to drink it. Then we went back to La Petite Cuilere for lunch and it was so good. Rob had a butternut squash soup and grilled cheese and I had grilled cheese and a cucumber salad. The sandwiches were so good. I'm so glad we got to have lunch there. We spent the last few hours in our favorite square before it was time to go. It was a great trip! Very leisurely, very relaxing and lots of quality time with my man. I'm so glad we got to go!

Friday, June 27, 2014

30

Next week I will turn 30. I still think I am as much fun as 2 fifteen year olds, but I have changed SO much over the last decade, something I think most 30 year olds would say. Here are some of the things I would have never envisioned doing when I was 20 or even think I would do when I was 30.

Listen to NPR in the car all the time

Stay in on a weekend night and not feel bad about it

Workout on the weekends

Maintain a Flexitarian diet or even know what that meant

Have a Costco membership

Wake up before 9 on the weekend without an alarm

Not live paycheck to paycheck

Drink coffee daily and like it

Be pretty introverted

Be able to say no to people fairly easily and be less of a people pleaser

Like wine as much as I do/accidentally get drunk on wine very frequently

I am so much more confident and comfortable with myself. I feel ok doing what I want and don't try to please others as much as I did in my early 20s. I have so many wonderful friends that fill my life with fun, happiness and gratitude. I have the most amazing husband who takes very good care of me and is the perfect partner for me - who makes me laugh and smile everyday and continues to surprise me with his sweetness and talent even after 12 years together. I have the most supportive and loving family. I consider myself lucky everyday for all of the blessings in my life! I'm excited to see what memories and challenges this year brings.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Chicago Food Scene

In the past I've been really eager to try the best new restaurants in Chicago. When we started saving for the wedding and focusing on getting in shape, I became more interested in cooking at home and eating well. Lately I've been getting excited about restaurants to try again and it's mostly because I've been seeing new trends in places around the city including using local ingredients, organic and natural ingredients, vegetarian options galore and places that benefit the community. Here are some places I'm excited to try. Sandwich Me In

This place uses local ingredients and is TRASH FREE! They go through great lengths to produce no trash. Pretty impressive! http://sandwichmeinchicago.com/

Inspiration Kitchens

One of our favorite places to go that gives job training to at risk members of the community. Oh and the food is DELIC! http://www.inspirationkitchens.org/

Milt's BBQ for the Perplexed

Rob and I have been dying to try this kosher BBQ spot in our old hood. 100% of their profits go to charity. AWESOME! http://www.miltsbbq.com/our-story/

Mista Pizza

Rob and I only had it once or twice but it's a great, super crisp pizza with organic ingredients. We need to go back! http://www.mistapizza.com/

LYFE Kitchen

I've been eager to try this new casual dining spot in River North that uses sustainable ingredients and has lots of organic and vegetarian options. They also include calories and sodium for each item on the menu. http://www.lyfekitchen.com/

Blue Door Farm Stand

I'm pumped to try this for lunch tomorrow. They only use ingredients that are in season and I believe local. Can't wait! http://www.bluedoorfarmstand.com/

Blue Sky Bakery

Similar to Inspiration, they provide job training for at risk teens. I'm excited to try this place for my friend Leah's shower soon! http://blue-sky-bakery.org/

Monday, April 21, 2014

West Coast Trip

I planned an Alumni Reception in San Francisco this March and had the opportunity to fly out to staff it and extend my visit to enjoy the west coast and have Rob join me! The event took place at the Omni which was beautiful! The event went very smoothly and it was a relief when it was over because it had not been easy to plan. Rob arrived later that night and in the morning we drove to Monterey for a little getaway. It was the most gorgeous day! We checked into our hotel and walked around in the sun before grabbing a hearty and delicious lunch at a vegan Mexican restaurant. It was so, so good! It's awesome to find spots that make it easy for me to eat healthy when we're traveling! After lunch we walked along the water and went to the Coast Guard Pier to see all the sunbathing and super noisy sea lions! It was UNBELIEVABLE! There were just so many of them. I had no idea how loud and aggressive they would be. It was so fun to watch them. We also saw a sea otter swimming and that made my whole trip! We walked further down the coast and found where all the seals sunbathed. They're much nicer. After our walk we got Giardellis - so good - and then took short naps. Then we went to an early dinner at this foodie hotspot in this incredible old mansion in the historic part of town. It was the most interesting restaurant I think I've ever seen! We enjoyed cheddar bacon biscuits for an appetizer and I think I had some sort of chicken. No clue on Rob's dish. We just really enjoyed our fancy little date! Then we went back to the hotel, turned on the fireplace and watched March Madness. Heaven! The next day it was expected to rain so we visited the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. We got there right when it opened and went all the way to the corner before the crowd could meet us. We saw Jellyfish, sharks, tuna, sea otters, penguins and so much more. We also spent some time on their patios looking through the telescopes. It didn't really rain much at all. We loved our time there but got burnt out quickly by the crowds. We grabbed sandwiches at this awesome deli, Compagno's Deli, that Ame and Tom recommended. It was SO good and so filling! Then we drove to Foster City to start our fun with the Liebls! It was so fun seeing the kiddos and spending quality time with Amy and Tom! We got In & Out for dinner that night which is always good! The next day we enjoyed playing outside and even a little babysitting. The kids are such a riot and we love seeing them! We were sad to head back to Chicago after such a fun visit! We can't wait to see them at Hunky Dory this summer! This was the getaway I had been needing after a rough winter. I came back feeling refreshed and relaxed!