Tuesday, November 18, 2014

France 2014

Rob is such a bad ass at his job, he reached his sales quota and got us a free trip to Paris for the Pitchfork Paris Festival at the end of October. I am so lucky!

Day 1.
We had an easy flight there and slept a ton. We made it to our hotel which was conveniently located directly across the street from the festival. We couldn't check into our room so we journeyed out on a little walk. We went to Parc des Buttes-Chautmont first that was very close to our hotel. It's huge with ponds, a water fall, lots of green space and walking paths. They have a great lookout point too. We really enjoyed walking around there even though we were in a total daze. Then we went to another lookout point Rob had heard of that is just above a little winery. It was in this very quiet nook of the city and very pretty. Then we made our way to find lunch and we came across this adorable cafe that was just perfect. We got some coffees and "club" paninis with salad that were soooo good. They had ham, cream cheese and sprouts. Loved them. Then we walked through the cemetery where all the famous folks are buried. We were basically zombies at this point but we checked it out and of course swung by Jim Morrison's grave too. Then we finally made our way back to the hotel to shower and rest. We got dinner nearby at a little crepe shop that was so great! We had galletes with bacon, walnuts, honey and goats cheese and then shared a nutella crepe. The owner was SO nice! Then we stopped by the preparty show for awhile before crashing.

Day 2
The next day we went to Angelina a famous/touristy macaroon and tea room where we got espresso, macaroons and chocolate croissants to go and ate them in the beautiful Tuileries Garden. We enjoyed the sun and the flowers before swinging by the outside of the Louvre for photos, checking out the Royal Palais garden that was pretty blah. Then we made our way to the Pompidou which was filled with interesting art. We had a fun time looking at the contemporary exhibit even though we were still feeling very jetlagged/hazy. We found a cafe to get lunch afterwards nearby. I had a cheese pizza bread thing and a raspberry tart and Rob had a ham and cheese sandwich and lemon pastry. We rested up at the hotel after that and went to the festival for the first night. We got to see the War on Drugs and James Blake and connect with Rob's colleagues. We had dinner at the fest - I think we had chicken curry with couscous and lots of cheese. Rob went to the after party show for awhile and I totally crashed and fell asleep early.

Day 3
The next day we tried to go to the catacombs for Halloween but there was a HUGE wait so we got pastries and coffee and walked to a different area. We breezed through an outdoor market and then found the St. Vincent de Paul Chapel that I had visited when I went on the DePaul Heritage Tour. St. Vincent's wax effigy with his remains underneath are there. It's a very, very strange but very cool thing and I'm glad that I got to see it again. Afterwards we visited a few stores and went shopping at Bon Marche's Grand Epicure and got sandwiches and salads for a lunch picnic. Bon Marche's Grand Epicure is basically like Chicago's Eataly. We found a good spot in the Luxembourg Garden - my favorite spot - and set up our lunch picnic. It was absolutely gorgeous out so it was nice to relax, soak up the sun and enjoy some yummie sandwiches and snacks. There was a totalllllly weird couple next to us though. The guy was tongue bathing his girlfriend's foot. I've never seen anything like it and it was really gross. But we still loved our time at the garden! Then we rested up at the hotel before hitting up the fest. We had dinner there. Rob had an interesting pork dish with broccoli and rice and I had broccoli and rice and more cheese. We got to connect with Nessa & Tobi that night!!! They got there in time for my favorite, St. Vincent! She killed it as usual. It was so fun to see Ness & Tobi and show them the music festival - it was their first one ever! We hung out for the headliner, Belle & Sebastian - people loved them.

Day 4
The next day we walked over to Nessa & Tobi's hotel and then made our way to the Marais neighborhood for brunch. Ness took us back to a place she had really liked on a previous visit. It was super cool inside and the servers were incredibly nice to translate the menus for us. We all had different types of quiche that were really cool and then shared some of their famous cakes include a mile high meringue. Then we shopped around the area for awhile before taking a rest in Les Vosges Parc. It was a beautiful day and I love relaxing in parks! We popped in to a photography exhibit that was free and had some interesting, some out there and some beautiful pieces. Then we went for falafel which is very popular in the area. I loved my falafel pita and the giant serving of fries we had. Then we went back to our hotels to relax before the fest. Rob and I went over a little early to see some bands and then Ness & Tobi made it in time to see Tuneyards who were incredible! It was the best set for me all weekend. So fun and so good! Later on we got food - I had a veg burger that had a lot of curry and interesting veggies in it and Tobi had a hotdog and Ness and Rob shared fries. We watched some more bands, looked through the craft market and sang Happy Birthday to Ness at midnight! It was a great night. Rob and I stuck around and hung out with the staff.

Day 5
The next day Ness & Tobi came over to our hotel and Ness opened her presents and then we went to a really nice patisserie for a delicious chocolate croissant and coffees that turned out to be hot cocoa womp womp. We walked through an artist market and relaxed in the Luxembourg Garden even though it was chillier. We walked through a food market and we got some cheese, bread and veggies for the rest of our trip. Then we went to a crepe place for Nessa's bday lunch! We all had decadent crepes and were stuffed afterwards. We went back towards the hotel and found a grocery store to get the rest of our groceries for the trip. We went back to our hotel until it was time for them to leave for the airport and us for the Pitchfork staff dinner. We had such a good time with Ness and Tob even though we had quite the cloud of jetlag over us. I love our time abroad together and to get extra quality time with my best bud. The Pitchfork staff dinner was really tasty at the hotel they used to stay at. Then we went to a hip club where some of the staff were djing. We had a good last night with the staff!

Day 6
The next day we got up early to pick up our rental car for our getaway. We got some subpar pastries and coffee and Rob drove the whole 4 hours to the Auvergne region. We were both really tired but enjoyed the scenery. The Volca Lodge hotel was really easy to find and truly set in the most gorgeous place. The owner is SO nice and welcoming and spoke English with us. Our little eco lodge was so cozy, so cute and so perfect. We were so excited to spend a couple of days there. We dropped our things and made a quick lunch of tomato and cheese sandwiches and then we went straight to the Puy de Dome - the dormant volcano with a tram that takes you to the top for the views of all the other dormant volcanoes and trails. It was SO windy and so chilly but we were awestruck by the beauty up there. We've never seen anything like it! We had a great time taking pics and soaking it all in. Afterwards we returned to the hotel for dinner. It was the best meal we had the entire trip. So good! Rob had a salad with fresh goat cheese from the owner's farm, a pork filet mignon with potatoes, a cheese course and a little berry tart. I did the tasting menu and got a big board with amazing cheese, salad, the most amazing cheesey potatoes, ham and sausage. We shared a bottle of local wine and I also had a berry tart. Everything was so great!

Day 7
We slept in the next day and Rob made me breakfast in bed with fruit and nutella - so nice :) It was raining steadily ALL day so we just relaxed, read, watched tv and really rested. Rob got in the hot tub for awhile even though it was raining. I made us more tomato and cheese sandwiches for lunch and then we drove into town to the thermal baths. These baths weren't nearly as nice and luxurious as the ones we visited in Italy but they were still really relaxing and fun. We liked the whirlpool outside and the super hot one inside. Afterwards we struggled to find a good spot for dinner but stumbled across a burger joint that looked cute. We went in and the owner was SO nice and spoke English and he told us it was their take on fast food but that it was all local ingredients. Rob had a pork burger that he loved and frites that were really tasty. I got a salad with fried cheese on it that totally hit the spot! We returned to the eco lodge and got another good night's sleep.

Day 8
The next day we returned to Paris and checked into our new hotel which was in a bustling part of the city. We caved and got Starbucks and walked through a little secret church garden before walking to Notre Dame to see the sunset and walking through to warm up and light a candle. Then we shopped around this cute little area and grabbed a drink at a strange bar. Then we walked to the steak frites place that I had visited last time I was in Paris but a different location. It was super crowded but I was able to get us a seat pretty fast. They only serve steak frites and just ask you how you want it prepared. It comes with the most delicious sauce. I haven't had steak in a long time but I couldn't pass it up! It was super good and Rob loved it and that made me happy. It was a great way to end our trip! I feel so, so lucky to have had the opportunity to go on this trip. I'm pretty spoiled!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


I like to think that I try to keep a grateful attitude throughout the entire year, but I try extra hard during November and around Thanksgiving. I have so much to be thankful for everyday and I feel so lucky to have the life that I do. Here's my November gratitude list.

This month I am grateful for...
A beautiful, cozy apartment/roof over my head
A fridge full of food, access and funds to purchase food and never going hungry
A closet full of clothes, access and funds to get more clothes when I need them and everything I need to stay warm during the winter
My job that helps me pay the bills, but also expose me to many amazing opportunities, resources and people.
A car that makes getting around much easier and being able to afford gas
My handsome, patient, kind, loving, supportive, talented, comforting, generous husband. He's my everything.
My supportive and loving family that loves me unconditionally and supports me in everything that I do. Plus they're pretty fun to be around too.
My in-laws that are incredibly supportive and kind-hearted. I'm so lucky to be part of their fam.
My health. Despite having a cold right now, I'm so grateful to lead a generally healthy life and have access to healthcare when I need it. I'm grateful for the ability to exercise, walk where I need to go, see and hear the world around me
A giant group of amazing girlfriends. I find so much comfort from my girls when I need it, inspiration to be a better person/employee/sister/daughter/wife/friend, lots of laughter and shared values, interests and understandings. So lucky. So much love.
My seniors at bingo. They make me smile, tell me they love me and treat me like family. LOVE.
My Best Buddy, Connie. She is one in a million and I'm so grateful that I got paired up with my funny, slightly devious, crafty buddy. LOVE.
The ability and means to travel around the world
My education and access to more if I want it.
The city of Chicago. Sometimes it lets me down with it's terrible weather, crime, CTA crappiness, it is still home and a place I'm proud to call home filled with so many beautiful nooks and crannies, world class museums and restaurants, fun things to do and nearly all of my favorite people. CHILOVE.
Never being lonely and always surrounded by love and support.
Alone time.
Coffee and Coke Zero.
Easy internet access, easy texting, easy ways to communicate with friends and family.
Memories with loved ones to last a lifetime.
To never have faced any major hardships and to lead a very blessed and comfortable life.