House of Blues

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House of Blues

For living in a city that has large amounts of tourism, I don’t find myself dismissing anything as being “for tourists” very often.

Case in point: I love the architecture tour; it is chock full of information every Chicagoan should know and when don’t you want to be on a boat on the river? The Bean: I will be the first taking selfies in this gem of reflection plunked in the middle of our fair city. Also in this category? The House of Blues.

Originally started in Boston by James Belushi, Aerosmith and Dan Akroyd (among others), this concert venue downtown has become a staple for music in Chicago. It was the first place I saw a concert with my now-husband (a Journey cover band, obviously) and I went back last night with girlfriends to see Super Diamond, a Neil Diamond cover band (despite my experiences, House of Blues hosts non-cover band bands too…allegedly). After some sushi and cocktails at Sunda, we headed to the HOB, got wrist-banded up and danced along to songs we knew and songs we didn’t. Tucked in Marina City, the venue is small enough to be personal but big enough to make you feel like you’re really at a legit concert. Super Diamond was great; the lead singer summed it up when he said “We love Neil Diamond and we want YOU to love Neil Diamond”. While I am not a Neil connoisseur by any means, live music and a dance party surround by people who know every word, well, that is a recipe for a good night.

They also serve alcohol. Helpful.

All of those things combined means that the House of Blues delivered last night and I would have been remiss to have overlooked it in lieu of an underground, out of the way music venue the cool kids are going to these days. Because real talk, “Sweet Caroline” always feels so, so good when you belt it out at the top of your lungs and that likely removes me from the cool kids music club anyways.

Fine.by.me.

Super Diamond

 

Chatbooks

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I really love Instagram. I love taking photos, I love posting little stories along with them, I love seeing photos popping up on my feed of what others are sharing and getting to see what matters to people through these images. When I scroll through what I have posted, it feels like a photo diary where I get to remember snippets of moments. And I have it with me all the time because it’s on my phone.

But remember back in the day (omg, the early 2000s!) when you would actually print out photos and –gasp– put them in an album? And you could flip through them with your hands and show other people? Yeah. There’s something to that too.

So, Chatbooks. It’s this app that takes your Instagram feed and turns it into little 60 page books. You can choose if you want your captions to show up or locations but that’s pretty much all the work involved. Name your series of Chatbooks, pay the $6 per book, and poof, you have sweet little photo albums that just show up at your door.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetMine arrived yesterday and I love them! The photo quality is actually really good (something I didn’t count on being only 6 bucks each) and it is so cool to have these photos I love in my hands. I think they will be cool to set on the coffee table for people to thumb through and to just have around. It just shows such a fun moment-in-time look at the last few years.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetIf you want to try it out, you can get your first book free with this promo code: GY94C7UW

{This is not a sponsored post, I just really like these little books!}

Berry Chia Pudding

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Berry Chia Pudding

 

Let’s talk about chia. They’re seeds, kinda slimy and you once slathered them on a terra cotta little statue of a cat or Bart Simpson to make a chia pet. I get it. They’re weird.

They are also really good for you. Healthy omega-3 fats, fiber, calcium, protein, manganese, all sorts of things to make you feel super virtuous. I have been adding chia seeds to my oatmeal for a few years now and inspired by this chia parfait that looked great, I decided to see what else I could do with these little guys.

Chia Pudding: 2 cups cashew milk*, 1/2 cup chia seeds, 2 tablespoon unsweetened coconut shreds, 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Combine in bowl and stir vigorously. Cover and store in refrigerator for an hour.

Berry Topping: 1 cup strawberries, 1 cup frozen blueberries, 1 banana, 1/2 cup cashew milk*. Combine in a blender (I don’t have one so I used a bowl and a submersion blender).

*almond milk would work well too.

Chia Pudding

Chia Berry Pudding

The finished product: delicious and creamy, not at all reminiscent of a chia pet. With how easy it was to pull together, it would make a great staple to have on hand for when a healthy snack is needed mid-day. Easy, healthy and delicious: nothing could sum up my mid-week food needs more.

 

Snow. Again.

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Owen + Alchemy 58

I think that snow yesterday nearly pushed everyone over the edge. I walked out of a meeting to find two more inches, on top of the 4 that had fallen overnight, on my car and nearly cried. A week ago it was 73 degrees and I was walking outside in a t-shirt; now I was back in my winter coat using a snow scraper. Yuck.

I absolutely play favorites when it comes to juice bars and Owen + Alchemy is it. Their product is so diverse and unique, their packaging is great (I reuse the glass bottles all the time) and their people know more about whole ingredients and the health benefits than anyone I have ever met. Little juice doctors, I say!

So to fight my anger about the snow storm, I drove to Logan Square to pick out a few juices to get me through the week. On deck this morning: #58. Organic coffee, raw almond and cashew, maca, vanilla bean and maple syrup. The combination of these gorgeous bottles being so good for me and such a treat really hits the spot on what I need to make it through this chilly week. Because every day can’t be a butter cake day (see previous post).

Stay warm out there, friends!

Bribing and Butter Cake

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Mastro's Butter Cake

2 of our best friends were in Chicago this weekend. They are the kind of friends where time spent together just begs for more time together; like I told them when we were saying goodbye, the worst thing about hanging out with them is that it doesn’t happen every day. Friends that are family are so special and we don’t take it for granted.

As with everyone we are wild about, any visit to Chicago turns into a campaign to get aforementioned awesome person to move here. For these two, that meant a great lunch while watching the NCAA tournament, a few afternoon craft brews and arcade games, eating off of each other’s plates of pasta for dinner and, to really pull at my friend’s dessert loving heart-strings, the butter cake at Mastro’s. Because if you are going to pack up your two babies and move across the country for anything, it would absolutely be for butter cake and fresh whipped cream, right?

While I do wish everyone we love would move to Chicago, it is kind of cool…we get to watch our favorite people live their lives in places they love and between Boston, DC, LA, Nashville, etc., we don’t have a shortage of cool places to visit and other desserts to dig in to.

But really…I did my best with that butter cake.

Link Love

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spring flowers

Not only is today the first day of Spring but it’s also a solar eclipse and a super moon. Pretty cool.

I made this Brussels Sprout Salad last week and it was so good that it might end up on my table again this weekend. Added bonus: the hot mustard is amazing and you have tons left over.

Today at Mariano’s, I learned that it is the Festival of St. Joseph, the patron saint of family, and in celebration Zeppole is made. One filled with cannoli is in my fridge as we speak.

To balance my zeppole, I have all of the ingredients to whip up this Chia Pudding Parfait.

These 31 quotes from children’s books made me smile- so many lovely memories wrapped up in those words.

The Chicago Beer Festival is tomorrow at Union Station.

Also of interest- wine and an Citizen Cope acoustic session. Tonight until Tuesday at City Winery.

Happy Weekend, friends!

A Whole Life

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Last December, I ran into an acquaintance whom I like very much. We were exchanging pleasantries and I asked how she was. Instead of issuing a standard “I’m fine” response, she shared with me some challenges going on in her life. I was taking in her candor when she said “But I asked for a whole life and this is it: a whole life.”

A whole life. Not a good life or an easy life or a perfect life, a whole life.

I really haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

Our interaction easily could have gone “I’m great! You’re great! Great! We’re great!” as so many run-ins like that do, which is perfectly fine. But the opportunity she gave me to consider that regardless of whether the things in our lives are going good, bad or ugly, it’s a part of a whole life and with that, there’s gratitude stopped me in my tracks that day and every day since.

A whole life. Yes. Yes.

I just wanted to share that story in case you are in a season that is ebbing and flowing between what you want or what you like with other things that might be perceived as, well, undesirable. It’s a whole life and not only is that okay, it’s pretty amazing.

Thank you, Callie.

(image via)

St. Patrick’s Day Weekend 2015

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3 years ago, it was 75 degrees on the day Chicago celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. In between then, I remember a year where we refused to go outside when freezing rain was slamming against our windows and last year, sprinting into Pequod’s in a little snow storm.

This year’s forecast of 50 degrees and sunny means being out and about will be pleasant. Here’s a list of happenings around town if you haven’t locked down your plans yet.


 If you want to keep it healthy or just stretch your legs before a few green-themed cocktails, the St. Paddy’s Day 5k & 8k kicks off at 9:30am in Lincoln Park.

Travelle at The Langham is offering up prime viewing for the dye-ing of the river for $30 and Chef Tim Graham is whipping up Eggs Benedict with Guiness.

Also on the river, Bridge Water Tavern has a $10 buffet brunch to enjoy alongside the great view.

Howell’s and Hood is steps away from the river and in addition to having Irish beer on tap and authentic Irish food on deck (what is colcannon?!), I would imagine that if the weather is decent that the party will spill out onto their awesome patio on Pioneer Court.

The new Virgin Hotel in the Loop is turning their street front cafe into a beer garden. Along with Chicago brews, homemade pastries and Bowtruss coffee (my favorite), St. Patrick’s Day revelry as the El rushes by feels very Chicago to me.

Smoke Daddy in Wicker Park has unreal bbq…and this is the only week during the year that they serve their Reuben. Not to be missed.

And no St. Patrick’s Day would be complete without the Shannon Rovers. This Irish pipe band will be all over the city, with stops at Quartino and Gibson’s, along with many others. Check out their full schedule here.

Are you a holiday purist and would never celebrate on a day that isn’t the actual day? Little Goat is having a Beer Dinner on March 17th, the real St. Patrick’s Day.