Travel Tuesday: Chicago

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

I can’t believe it’s already been five weeks since we were in Chicago! You might remember that we were in the area for our friends’ wedding. Actually, the wedding was in Copper Harbor, Michigan, but we decided to make a vacation out of the trip since we were already paying for the flights. So we spent the first few days in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in wedding mode and then drove south to Green Bay and then onto Chicago. I don’t have enough pictures of those places for a full travel post, so I’m skipping to the Chicago part of the trip today. 

OK, so let’s talk Chicago! We stayed two nights at the Inn of Chicago on the Magnificent Mile (booked on Priceline). The hotel was fine (the room was pretty small), but the location was perfect. It was walking distance to pretty much everything. We started by walking to Millennium Park and taking our picture in front of The Bean (Cloud Gate).

It was hot, humid and crowded. I’d be lying if I said that we weren’t completely overwhelmed, but we carried on and just walked around the city until dinnertime. Of course we had to try deep dish pizza! Luckily there was a Lou Malnati’s not far from our hotel and we were early enough that we got a table right away. We decided to order the Malnati Chicago Classic plus an appetizer while we waited for our pizza to cook. Anyway, the pizza was really good, but I still prefer thin crust. Although, it’s probably not fair to compare the two because they really are two different dishes.

After dinner we went on an Architectural Boat Tour down the Chicago River (8 p.m. tour with Chicago Line Cruises). I booked it through a Groupon I’d purchased and it was one of the highlights of our trip. It was a great way to see the city and some areas we wouldn’t have made it to during the rest of our trip. Our guide was interesting and we learned a lot about the city and its buildings.

It ended up being the best time of the day to go on the tour because it was still light out when we left, but it was dark by the time we returned so we got to see everything in the daylight and at night. I definitely recommend taking a river tour if you are in Chicago. Also, check Groupon because we saved $25 with our deal!

The next day we started our morning at the top of Hancock Tower. It was a great way to see the whole city. There’s Navy Pier and some of the buildings downtown. 

Afterwards we met one of my friends and her friend for lunch at Portillo’s. The food was decent, but the company was fantastic! I went to high school with Casey, but she moved to Florida for college and now lives in Chicago, so I’ve only seen her a few times since high school, which is a total bummer. We haven’t seen each other in years, but we picked up right where we left off. She’s one of my best friends and I can’t describe how happy I was to see her!

After lunch we all went to the Lincoln Park Zoo. It’s free (which is awesome) and is a great way to spend a couple hours.

After the zoo, Casey drove us by Wrigley Field and then we headed to Navy Pier. Casey and I went on the Ferris wheel (everyone was else was too chicken) and then we all played a round of mini-golf. It’s definitely a touristy spot, but it surprisingly wasn’t that crowded and was a fun way to spend the evening.

We had dinner at the Billy Goat Tavern and hung out on the pier until the fireworks started (free fireworks show every Wednesday and Saturday during the summer). I didn’t get any pictures of the fireworks, but I did get this sunset snap while we were mini-golfing.

After fireworks we said goodbye to Casey and prepared to leave Chicago the following morning. Chicago was fun and hopefully I’ll go back soon to see Casey and visit one of the many places we didn’t have time for this trip. The Art Institute of Chicago and a tour of Wrigley Field are on my list for next time! What else is a must-see?

The Friday Five

Friday, August 14, 2015

One – Ain’t Nobody Got Thyme for That

Last week my friend Michelle made this for me for my kitchen. Isn’t it cute! I sent her the quote (a pun based on this video) and she designed the pattern herself. I love how it turned out and I can’t wait to hang it!

Two – The Vampire Diaries

I’ve been binge watching The Vampire Diaries on Netflix for the past few weeks and now I’m seriously obsessed. I think I finished the first 4 seasons in three weeks. Needless to say, I’ve accomplished nothing outside of work lately. I’m halfway through Season 5 right now. Netflix doesn’t have Season 6 yet and it looks like it’s not going to be released on DVD until September, so I don’t know what I’m going to do once I finish these last few episodes…

Anyway, I started watching the show after reading the first five books and I like the show SOOOO much better than the books. I have the next book in the series, but I don’t think I’m going to bother reading it. All of the characters are way better on the show, especially Caroline. She’s a terrible person in the books, but is one my favorites on the show. Also, Elena’s brother Jeremy isn’t even in the books. So, if you’ve been thinking about reading/watching, skip the books and just watch the show. And no, you aren’t too old to watch a show about teenage vampires ;)

Three – Zumba

About a month ago I joined LA Fitness so I could start taking Zumba classes and hopefully drop a few pounds. The closest location has classes right after work on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I can head straight there instead of going home first and getting distracted. I’ve been going twice a week for the past couple weeks and it’s been working out perfectly.

Surprisingly, I actually love the class and look forward to working out. I want to start adding a third day to my routine, but I’ll either have to go to a different location if I want to go straight from work or go at a different time/on the weekend. I haven’t decided what I want to do yet, but I love it and I’m so happy that I decided to try it out.

Four – Nike Revolution 2

Of course I couldn’t start a new workout without buying new workout shoes! I bought these Nike Revolution 2 running shoes at Big 5 Sporting Goods. They were on sale for $45 and worth every penny. They are so much nicer than my old, heavy Nike shoes. Plus they have fun neon pink laces!

Five –Yellow Brick Home

Did you see the adoption center makeover that Yellow Brick Home just finished? They created such a fun, happy place for One Tail at a Time Dog Rescue. Seriously, how cute is that dog wallpaper! The whole place looks fantastic and it’s for such a great cause. Hopefully a lot of dogs will be able to pass through here on the way to their forever home! 

Gone Palm

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

It’s hotter than Hades in Phoenix right now, so outdoor projects are on hold until fall…unless I can pay someone to do them for me. This is one of those projects.

Anyway…a few weeks ago I got a notice from my HOA telling me to trim the dead fronds from the palm tree in my front yard. The past couple years I’ve lucked out and I’ve caught tree trimmers going door to door, so I didn’t have to bother calling anyone. No such luck this year. I probably wasn’t home when they came by, which is total bummer because I hate calling people for estimates.

I ended up calling a couple different tree trimming companies, but only heard back from one (as usual). I asked for a quote to trim the tree and out of curiosity, a quote to completely remove the tree. It ended up being only a couple hundred dollars more for them to remove the tree and grind down the stump, so I decided to cut down the tree. It was too tall to add anything to the landscape and it’s not like it provided any shade for the house, plus now I won’t have to pay to have it trimmed every year.

The guys showed up a few days later and cut it down. I wish I had progress pictures because it’s pretty interesting to watch a guy hanging from a giant palm tree with a chainsaw. It made me a little nervous, but I’m sure he’s done that hundreds of time. Once it was mostly cut down, they grinded the stump down and cleaned everything up. I’m so glad I decided to cut it down because the yard looks SO much better without it.

You can’t even tell there was ever a palm tree there! They did such a great job! The yard looks so much more open and bigger now. It was definitely worth the money.

I’m curious what the HOA is going to say, but technically I did remove the dead fronds as requested…

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