After traveling and working long hours for the past few weeks, I have been absolutely exhausted. Today, I am beginning to feel that my energy is starting to return to me and well I have some exciting life events to share, so here I am! So with that said, I am going to start of by picking up where I left off. If you haven’t read my last post on the first half of my Chicago adventures, feel free to check it out here. Otherwise, grab yourself a cup of coffee (or tea) and let’s chat!
Chicago Pt. 2 Recap
So, picking up where I left off. Wednesday morning I woke up with a smoothie craving. I’m not sure if you guys every have those, but sometimes I just really am in the mood for a good smoothie. That being said, I decided to head out in good ol’ Chicago sleet, wind, and cold air for a nice cold refreshing smoothie. I make absolutely no sense.
Well, after 20 or so minutes of me walking up and down the Randolph Street, I finally found Balú Smoothies. I had been walking on the wrong side of the street for maybe 10 of those minutes, trying to figure out why I wasn’t seeing any signs for the shop when my google maps was saying I was there. To be fair. this smoothie shop was pretty hidden. It was located on the second floor of a 24 hour fitness and didn’t appear very impressive.. but oh man.. the smoothie I had was incredible.
My only regret? Walking outside with a cold smoothie in hand when it was sub-freezing outside. I may or may not have been able to feel my hands by the time I got back to the hotel..
Whatever, it was worth it. I highly recommend checking this place out if you are in the Chicagoland area.
After work, Ian and I decided to go out to dinner together before joining his colleagues for drinks later on that evening. We had been both on the go for the past few days, so we felt a night to enjoy a nice dinner while downtown was just what we needed.
After looking up nearby restaurants, we found Beacon Tavern and decided to give it a try – and I am glad we did! The food was absolutely incredible!
Seeing that it was happy hour, we decided to treat ourselves to a drink and appetizer. Our waiter that night suggested that we tried their fried oysters, so we gave them a try and enjoyed every bite 😉
I am a huge butternut squash fan, always have been, so when I saw that there was butternut squash in their rigatoni, I knew I just had to try it. Their rigatoni was out of this world. It had butternut squash, baby kale, dried cranberries, toasted walnuts, roasted garlic cream and it was everything I ever wanted 😂
Ian went with their fish and chips and also really liked his food. Both of our dishes were absolutely huge, so we ended up having to pack up leftovers.
After dinner, we headed back to the hotel to put our leftovers away and then headed out to meet up with Ian’s colleagues.
Thursday morning, Ian headed off to his last day of his conference and I worked remotely from the hotel. After work, we headed back to my aunt and uncle’s house and they took us out to their favorite pizzeria – Mama Milano Pizza Bar.
After trying their food, I understood why my aunt and uncle love this place so much. Their food? Out of this world. Their ambiance? Cozy and intimate – perfect for enjoying the company of those you love.
Oh and the pizza? Amazing as well.
After dinner, we headed to Jeni’s Splendid Ice cream which reminded me of the Chicago version of Salt & Straw. I was pretty stuffed from dinner, so I ordered a child scoop of their Brambleberry Crisp ice cream and wow it was good. It reminded me of a summer fruit pie but in a cup.
After dinner and ice cream, we headed to Old Town’s cutest grocery shop. Ok, ok.. maybe it hasn’t been declared the cutest.. but I thought it was 😉
We picked up a 6 pack of beer and finished our evening watching Black Sea, a movie about a crew of men trapped in a submarine looking for lost gold. All of us were on the edge of our seats!
Friday, Ian and I took the day off from work and started it off by grabbing brunch with my Uncle, who also had the day off. Ian and I wanted to explore more neighborhoods in Chicago, so my Uncle took us to Bakin’ & Eggs … and wow. It was amazing. Seeing that it was a Friday morning, we were lucky to have no wait. During the weekends this place is absolutely packed – and for good reason!
Deciding on what to order may have been the most difficult part of my day. All of the items on the menu looked AMAZING. Banana Pecan Bread French Toast? Smoked Salmon Frittata? Biscuits and Gravy? All of it. I wanted it all. However, after what felt like 2 hours of trying to make up my mind, I ended up ordering their Whole Wheat Granola Pancakes. I made a good choice friends. It was awesome. However, it was waaay more food than I anticipated. That being said, if you ever visit this wonderful brunch spot, be sure to either come starving or split with a friend!
Ian ordered their Chilaquiles with Chorizo and was also unable to finish his breakfast. So be warned!
Also, something worth trying while there – their jalapeño bacon. Just try it. You’re welcome.
After breakfast, we decided to drive around a bit as my Uncle gave us a tour of all of the different neighborhoods of Chicago. Our first stop? Lincoln Square.
Out of all the neighborhoods in Chicago, I think Lincoln Square was my favorite. Founded by German immigrants in the 1840s and is known for its family friendly atmosphere, locally owned shops, and wide array of restaurants (especially ethnic restaurants).
All of the shops we walked into while strolling down the street were absolutely gorgeous. Ian and I were obsessed with each and every shop we stopped in.
Everything about this shop, Merz Apothecary, I loved. The ceiling? Gorgeous. The Crown molding? Gorgeous. Their displays? Also gorgeous. I mean everything. As for their products, I could not get over how much they carried in this shop. I even found a few skin care products I used while living in Lille, France. I think I felt like I was back in Europe while looking around.
being dragged out walking out of Merz Apothecary, we headed to Gene’s Sausage Shop & Delicatessen.. and once again had our minds blown. Inside was fresh produce, imported European gourmet foods, bakery, beer, wine, liquor, and over 40 different types of smoked sausages..
If I lived in Lincoln Square, I would probably visit this place all the time. Sometimes to shop.. and sometimes just to look around 😉
After exploring Lincoln Square, we drove through Wrigleyville.. and of course I had to snap a pic of the iconic Wrigley Field.
We then headed to the Shedd Aquarium!
I think the last time I had been at the Shedd Aquarium was for a biology field trip I had back in high school. I might have been a sophomore or a junior.. but I don’t quite remember. It was a while ago. Ian, on the other hand, had never been to the Shedd, so I was so excited to show him around 🙂
We saw all different types of fish and whales. My favorite exhibit was the Beluga whale exhibit. I loved watching them swim around and learning more about their species. However, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for them being in captivity.
After hanging out at the Shedd for a bit, we headed back to my Uncle’s house to meet up with my Aunt for dinner.
My Aunt and Uncle raved about Night Fish Sushi and Asian Cuisine so we all headed over to enjoy dinner at the recently opened BYOB sushi spot.
Ian and I ordered their Volcano Poke and all I will say is that I ate it all 😉
During dinner, my sister kept calling me and texting me about driving up from Michigan to see us in Chicago. Ian and I were originally planning on staying over one more night at my Aunt and Uncle’s house before heading to my family’s home that next Saturday morning. However, Ash insisted on meeting us at my Aunt and Uncle’s house that Friday night and taking us back to our family’s home that evening instead. Well, to my surprise.. it wasn’t Ashley in the car.. but my MOM!
She had decided to surprise me by coming to Chicago for the weekend and meeting up with my sister in Michigan. They drove together from Michigan and my mom dropped my sister off at our house to sleep (she had been in exams all day) and then pick Ian and I up to surprise us. It was crazy!
Once we got home, my mom and sister were exhausted so Ian and I decided to go to one of my favorite restaurant / bar in Libertyville – Firken. For those of you who do not already know, I am obsessed with this place and have even included it in my Libertyville Guide.
The next morning, we all went out for breakfast at my all time favorite breakfast spots – Egg Harbor Cafe. Seeing that this is also one of my favorite spots in Libertyville, you can also see it featured in my Libertyville Guide.
I was just so happy to be with my mom & sister. The last time we were all together was this last October, so it was about time we were reunited!
After breakfast we headed over to my grandma’s house and hung out there for a while. We then headed back to Vernon Hills and had dinner at a sushi restaurant we used to frequent when I was a kid. Osaka Sushi still remains to be one of my favorite sushi spots.
My mom was extremely excited and happy to have everyone together, so she decided to order a celebratory bottle of saké. Little did we all know, it would come in this beautiful dispenser. The saké was absolutely amazing. We ordered ours hot and honestly I think that saké tastes amazing that way.
I seemed to struggle to have my picture taken.. but here ya go! 😂
The sushi here never disappoints.
While almost all of us loved the saké, Ashley did not agree as much. She doesn’t like most kinds of alcohol, so saké just wasn’t her thing. That being said, we decided to order a bottle of a Peach sparkling alcohol that they had and oh. my. gosh. it was so GOOD. I couldn’t even tell that it was an alcoholic beverage. Ash agreed!
After dinner we walked around town for a bit to digest all of the sushi we had just inhaled. We then checked out a local brewery and then headed home to get some rest before everyone needed to go back to travelling.
Sunday morning, we all woke up and headed our separate ways. Originally, I was supposed to fly home with Ian, but a week or two before leaving for Chicago I was informed that I would need to fly to NYC for a meeting. That being said, I dropped Ian off at the airport and headed to my Grandma’s house to spend the night before flying to NYC.
My Grandma and I haven’t had a day to just the two of us since I graduated from college.. almost 2 years ago. Where does time go?! So, we took advantage of the opportunity to spend quality time together and it was honestly the best. I love my Grandma 🙂
My Grandma used to go with her mother to Neiman Marcus for lunch so she wanted to take me to their cafe for lunch.
When you sit down, they immediately place a fresh popover, strawberry butter, and chicken broth in front of you. She raved about their popovers and wow, I now see why. The popovers were incredible. I would have been content just eating the popovers and drinking tea. Ahhh soo goood!
As for their food, we decided to split a salad and sandwich together – and it was perfect. Everything we ate there was great!
After eating our meal, we had fun walking around Neiman Marcus and trying on $400 sunglasses. I looked absolutely ridiculous and I LOVED it 😂We were laughing so much and honestly, I am surprised that the security guard watching us didn’t escort us out!
We then headed out to the grocery store to pick up some snacks for the Oscars and got into our pjs and watched the Oscars together. It was so much fun! We critiqued the gowns worn, agreed that there were few dresses that we liked, and crossed our fingers for Rami Malek to win any Oscar. Before we knew it, we were exhausted and decided to go to bed.. until we talked for a few more hours 😂
Monday morning, we woke up and headed back to Egg Harbor Cafe for breakfast before I would need to head off to the airport. When it came time to go, I was sad to leave. I had so much fun with my family and hanging out with my Grandma. Sometimes I wish I lived closer to my family. I love being able to explore and live in such a beautiful state.. but seeing my family a few times a year is rough.
Once at the airport, I grabbed a salad for my flight to NYC. After all of the food I had eaten in Chicago, it was time to hit the reset button and get back to eating well again.
Flying into NYC was absolutely gorgeous. I couldn’t stop staring outside of my window. When it came time to land.. the girl next to me (who had been making out with her husband the entire flight) threw up. Let’s just say the airplane smelled like vomit for a while when we were all trying to get out of the airplane. It was a lot of fun.
Once in NYC, I headed to my hotel in Manhattan, looked up takeout food nearby, and then headed out to grab dinner before hopping back onto my laptop to prep for the next morning’s meeting.
There was a ramen restaurant nearby the hotel (Ajisen Ramen), so I decided to give it a try. Had I lived in Manhattan, I probably would frequent this place for their laid back atmosphere, friendly staff, reasonably priced food, and how satisfying their ramen was. I don’t know what was in their broth but wow.
Tuesday morning, I woke up bright and early and met up with my manager from coffee and breakfast before our meeting. After looking up coffee shops near our hotel, I found this gem of a coffee shop – A Little Taste. I highly recommend checking out their Instagram. Their shop was absolutely adorable!
After a fun but tiring week in Chicago and then traveling all day to NYC, I needed all the caffeine I could get before heading to our meeting. That being said, stopping at this adorable coffee shop was just the right move.
I also ordered a quiche to go with my latte and was not disappointed. As for the latte, it seems that they used either frozen coffee or espresso as the ice cubes rather than just plain ice like you see at any other coffee shop. I thought this was brilliant!
After fueling up, we headed off to our meeting. I couldn’t help but gawk at how pretty our walk was. I need to come back to NYC, but not for work 😂
After our meeting, my team and I went to a happy hour with our client and then to 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar with a few of my coworkers. Two of my coworkers from NYC recommended it and I am happy they did! The views were incredible!
My photos turned out a tad blurry since it was dark and I was using my phone, but I am sure you guys can tell how pretty it was regardless of the blur.
After hanging out at the rooftop bar, we headed to Times Square to walk around and take everything in. It was incredible.
I definitely want to come back here one day, especially when it is warmer outside 🙂
After walking around, we headed back to our hotel to get some sleep before needing leave our hotel at 5:45 am that next morning. Once at the airport, I grabbed a green tea latte and some avocado toast and hopped on my plane. Once on the plane, I decided to watch two of the movies playing on the Delta airlines flight. I loved both movies! For those of you looking for a good movie recommendation, I highly recommend watching Oceans 8 (which is currently on HBO) and Crazy Rich Asians. Out of the two movies, I think I enjoyed Crazy Rich Asians the most. Oh my gosh it was wonderful. I had heard people raving about it back in the fall, watched their cast win Oscars, and finally managed to see it for the first time during my flight. Now I want to go to Singapore, where the film was shot! So good. I think I am going to make Ian watch it with me again 😉
Ok, ok. Now that I have caught you all up on my recent travels, I thought that I would share my most recent life updates with you all. This past Tuesday, Ian and I celebrated our anniversary and Mardi Gras by having dinner at Miss Delta, a cajun restaurant, in Portland.
To celebrate it being both our anniversary and Mardi Gras, we decided to order hurricanes. They were HUGE.. and also very tasty.
I decided to stick with a NOLA classic and ordered Jambalaya.
Ian ordered their BBQ meat sampler and it was out of this world.
The restaurant on Mardi Gras was absolutely crazy. We headed over to Miss Delta right after work and were faced with a 45 minute wait (and were encouraged to not wait in the restaurant due to limited space) and by the time we were seated the wait was 90 minutes long! It was pure craziness in there, but for good reason! Their food was insane and the atmosphere brought you right to NOLA. Outside, a Mardi Gras parade marched by while we enjoyed our hurricanes. It was awesome.
The craziest part? After dinner…. Ian proposed!
So there you have it! My newest life update! Ian and I have been extremely excited this week but this week has also been absolutely crazy for the two of us. Between answering text messages from friends, Instagram messages, and phone calls – we have been busy catching up with all of our loved ones. It has been absolutely wonderful but also very tiring – so I apologize to anyone who I have been slow to call back or respond to!
Now for getting back to the Game of Thrones episode I was watching before typing this all..
A few questions for you:
Have you ever been to NYC?
Have you watched Crazy Rich Asians? Thoughts?
Where in the world would you love to visit?