1 Year

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Anniversary Langham

This last year has practically zoomed by. We spent our honeymoon in Italy, took more weekend trips than we ever have, we both changed jobs, and all of the life things that happen in between absolutely happened in between…and somehow, June 21st was here again and we have been married for a year. Wow.

We celebrated our wedding reception at The Langham Chicago so we returned this past weekend to enjoy a place that has so many happy memories for us. The morning of our wedding, we went swimming, just the two of us and it sounds silly but doing a few laps in that gorgeous pool after our couples massage on Saturday just reminded me of the sheer togetherness, the team-ness of being married. It’s you and me, me and you and my goodness do I love being with that man.

Also wonderful- we received the nicest well wishes from friends and family celebrating our anniversary. Being our first, I didn’t know people did that and it was so…kind. So so so kind. A friend sent a bottle of champagne to the hotel, my parents sent chocolate covered strawberries,and I brought the cards we were sent to open in our room at the hotel. It was a beautiful reminder that the people who supported and celebrated us a year ago still do and still are.

Oh and it rained on Saturday night! During the cocktail hour of our reception, the sky opened up and it poured poured poured. I remember looking at the Wrigley Building and the river through the hard downpour and then back at all of our friends and family clutching glasses of bubbly, thinking that this was the only place on the planet I wanted to be. This year, we had just opened the bottle of prosecco and were biting into the strawberries when we looked out the window to see a similar scene. Watching lightening hit the rods atop the Sear Tower, I felt the same way- this was the only place on the planet I wanted to be.

I also felt that way when this insane spread was rolled into our room for breakfast- the Langham is a complete dream.

langham breakfast

So here’s to another year of the celebrations, the rain and always know that regardless, there is nowhere on the planet I would rather be.

love | nothing matters more.

Blackhawks Fans, Officially.

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We Want the Cup Blackhawks

There’s a first time for everything: a few weeks ago, my husband and I went to a bar to watch the Blackhawks game.

Not earth-shatter news, I know, but somehow, something we had never done.

And it was a blast. Any sporting activity that people are super into is fun and we absolutely got caught up in the excitement of the game, throwing our arms over our heads instinctively when the Hawks would score, engaging in “omg I can’t believe that happened” banter with the people next to us in the seats we managed to score at the bar. Halfway in to this endeavor wearing non-team clothing, my husband asks me how, out of alllllll the hats we own, we don’t have a single piece of Blackhawks gear. Cue the grabbing of the iPhones- new hats had been shipped before the game was over.

We have lived in Chicago for over 6 years. The Blackhawks have won the Stanley Cup twice during that time period. I remember in 2012, we had just gotten engaged and we watched the Cup go around our River North neighborhood from our balcony while talking about wedding planning. Shocking but for some reason, it wasn’t enough to consider ourselves fans.

But now, we are the proud owners of hats. We watched a game in a bar. And I walked to see this mural in the West Loop today.

I’m gonna call it- we are officially Blackhawks fans.

If anything, we are Chicago fans and I consider that the same thing.

Some Blackhawks inspired links:
Cool article about this mural at the Palace Grill- it was done in 12 hours!
“That’s not how we roll in Chicago.” File this under ‘things you already know’, Vince Vaughn is the freaking man.

Summer Rain

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Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Spotted through the window of The Ronsley at their opening party a few weeks back, The Hancock Tower in the fog. I got caught in the rain after I left and I remember thinking “a Spring rain, this will likely be the last one of these” and I kind of enjoyed it because look at this view. Fast forward to tonight and the torrential downpour on my head as I sprinted from the el to home. But again, it’s hard not to enjoy it a little bit. After all, we have a pretty great city to get rained on in.

On Speaking Up.

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Lyndsey was the “best friend I never met” until we shared a random cup of coffee in a random diner because of a random flight cancellation that landed her, quite literally, in Chicago and cemented her as the real deal, real talk, speed dial necessary presence in my life. We both recently went through big changes professionally and as we are approaching the end of that intense season, she said to me “We really did shove each other into the fire, didn’t we?”.

Yes, yes we did. And thank God for people who won’t let you tolerate things in your life that have the potential to harm your soul, to dim your light, to change your voice. I am so grateful for my tribe, for my people who shoved me into the fire the last few months and the years and years before that.

Below is an excerpt from a blog post Lyndsey wrote yesterday after speaking up in a training for her new job. We all know that moment- biting our tongues, knowing that what we are hearing is searing a hole on our insides and weighing whether or not it’s “worth it” to speak up.

I am not quiet for all of the women who are.

Women close to me, who’s secrets scare them into thinking no one could ever love them. Who’s true desire would mean, life could fall apart, not believing that falling apart is the one way to truly build again.

I am not quiet for all the women who have given me their full hearts, and the journal entries, both literally, and in confessions when I hold their hand, things they’ve never told anyone…cause what if someone knew.

And my question back is.

What if someone knew.

I say it right back to them. Do you see the difference? Say it to yourself again, like this.

 

What if someone knew?

 

My life, has become worth living, because people now know. And they love me in spite of, because of, and without condition.

I am not quiet, for her, and her, and the generations before me that were. Who did stay quiet, not because they did not have a truth to tell, but because the world is no place for the truth. So lets leave it alone, shall we. Lets say that we are fine. Lets never ever share over candles, and standing in kitchens, and driving with the windows down…what we truly desire.

Speak up. Please.

 

You can read the entire post here. And then speak up. Tonight, tomorrow, forever. Because it is worth it. Always and always.

Thank you, Lyndsey for your words and your truth and your difficulty staying quiet about the things you believe in the most.

 

A Sandwich Tour

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JP Graziano Veggie Sub

Let’s talk about sandwiches.

I don’t know if it’s been the cold weather lately or the kale bender I’ve been rocking the last month (kale salad! kale as pasta! kale burgers!) but all I want right now is sandwiches. Delicious things in between crusty, fluffy bread. Straight and to the point. So that’s what I have done, Friday through Sunday. Sandwich city.

And lucky for us, Chicago has never ending options of almost anything. Here is my roundup of sandwich glory:

JP Graziano (West Loop): Let me count the ways I love this Italian grocery. 1- this place is the real deal. JP Graziano’s isn’t trying to be authentic, it is authentic- it’s been in business for over 75 years, specializing in high-end Italian meats and cheeses and still feels like the old school Chicago operation the founder who emigrated from Sicily dreamed up. 2- the sandwiches are made to order, with each ingredient being sliced seconds after you make your decision so fresh is an understatement. The veggie sub with roasted eggplant nearly changed my life and the dudes sitting behind me on the cute little outside patio were losing their minds over the Mr. G (provolone, prosciutto, salami & soppresata). A thousand thumbs up.

The Butcher’s Tap (Lakeview): This space was originally a butcher’s shop so it’s return to locally sourced, fresh from the farm, non-processed deli meats and cheeses makes sense. You can build your own or choose from their specialty sandwiches…and let me tell you, my husband and I have done the legwork, none of them are bad. Simple, good food…and the 80 beers on tap aren’t bad either.

Dinkel’s (Lakeview): To complete my weekend trifecta, I headed to Dinkel’s for a breakfast sammie. This is the only place possibly in the world where I don’t mind waiting in line. Everyone is so friendly and happy to be loading up on donuts/cakes/cookies and they play music that reminds me of what it must have been like when Dinkel’s opened in 1922 so it’s generally a really pleasant time. The hidden gem in this place is their cafe; egg sandwiches, lunch sandwiches, all on Dinkel’s wide variety of amazing bread, made-to-order in a little back kitchen. I went for the veggie baker’s sunrise (white cheddar, avocado, spinach, egg and pesto on six grain bread). Now I can safely say I love everything about this place.

Honorable mentions:

If there was more time or more stomach space this weekend, I also would have paid homage to Xoco for a torta, Panes for the Turkey Turkey (my goodness, that tomato bread) and The Corned Beef Factory to get my husband, well, corned beef and some honey drizzled donuts puff for me…

 

{Ed. note: working late in the office tonight, Jimmy John’s was procured. Because sometimes, you just need a sandwich. Fast.}

Summer in Chicago

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Chicago Summer

Rain storms that punctuate warm, sunny days can only mean one thing: It’s summer in Chicago! This time of year always sneaks up on me because 1) I never think it’s going to actually happen and 2) making plans for the summer sort of feels irrelevant. It’s summer! In Chicago! Do whatever you want, whenever you want, it’s all going to be great!

However, summer in Chicago does mean there are a lot of great events going on. If you want to have a few things on deck, here are a few happenings coming up that I think are worth putting in your calendar:
June 2- September 29th Tuesdays on the Terrace: free jazz concert on the Museum of Contemporary Art’s terrace and sculpture garden every Tuesday from 5:30-8pm.
June 13 Brew to be WildA craft beer festival in the Lincoln Park Zoo
June 23-September 1 Millennium Park Summer Film Series: There is nothing I love more than a warm summer night underneath Priztker Pavilion. There are a long list of films being shown (don’t forget to BYOB and pack some snacks!) but I’m so excited for for the July 28th showing of Almost Famouslove that movie.
4th of July Chicago Cubs: The Cubs are home against Marlins at 6:20pm- perfect for an afternoon cookout following by singing the National Anthem at the top of your lungs within the Friendly Confines.
July 10-12 Windy City Smokeout: barbecue and county music downtown. Done, done and done.
July 16 Green City Market Chef’s BBQ: Some of the best chefs in Chicago take to the park for an evening of BBQ. I love how chefs in Chicago are like celebrities- they deserve it.

Notes from New Job

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new job

New job also means a new commute. I worked from home when I wasn’t travelling so my commute for the last few years has either been to the airport or…to my kitchen. In stretch pants. All day. Those days are over and between really liking the work I am doing, enjoying being in the space our office is in and the people being even better, I even like my commute.

Some observations from my first 2 weeks:

  • The el in the morning smells like showers. The el in the evening smells like germs and robbery.
  • The text messages I received in mass the first few days inquiring what I was wearing have subsided; I don’t think it was as much genuine interest in my fashion choices and more “does she own pants that zip and how will she handle makeup every day”. Show’s over folks, nothing to see here- I got this.
  • I made eye contact with a fellow el rider the other day and almost got beat up. Not really but I think there’s a rule: eyes down on your phone, keep to yourself before 9am.
  • I am the only person in my office that came to the first day with desk accessories. Where are they going to put their pens? What inspirational notepad or decorative recyclable water bottle is going to give them joy during the day?
  • God bless women who commute in heels. I am not up for that yet. Swapping out my TOMS around the corner from the office is my jam.
  • Working with really smart, really generous people will teach you a lot. I am so grateful to be learning so much.

On deck for next week: learning how to arrive at work looking like I didn’t just come from a wind tunnel and procuring comfortable shoes.

Home.

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Chicago River Spring

The last 6 weeks. 6 states. Work trips, trips to see family, to see friends. In between flights, cabs, hikes, glasses of wine, babies held, meals made, long talks, hard talks, good walks, it all happened in these 6 weeks.

I quit my job.

I started a new job.

It was simultaneously one of those really special times and a really fucking hard one. And I knew it, I knew that everything was so important and good and challenging. I wasn’t here, I wasn’t there both geographically and mentally but it was coming, it was happening gradually with each second that passed. I was energized and tired all the time and got a really huge zit on the side of my head.

Really weird, actually, those 6 weeks.

Growth is like that.

What I know for sure: I was wildly aware of how much I needed my people during this time and holy cow. We don’t get through this life without our people and this wonderful web of mine that spans the country, well, grateful doesn’t begin to describe what it felt like to have that support on the other end of the line, at the pick-up terminal, always ready for a long walk, a long talk, a long drive.

So many decisions had to be made and this tribe of people right along side me made me feel so heard. Supported. Cheered on.

In conclusion: my people, 6 weeks, long, short, everything, grateful.

And now, home.

This new job is a game-changer. New goals, a new season…let’s get back into this, shall we?

 

5 Questions With…Shauna Niequist

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Shauna-Niequist

I met Shauna Niequist entirely by complete happenstance in 2007 at a local bookstore in Grand Rapids, MI. Her first book Cold Tangerines had just come out and I spotted it leaving the bookstore after a particularly bad law school studying day. This bright orange book about celebrating the every day seemed like something I should buy and as I paid, the clerk told me that Shauna was actually doing a reading…in 5 minutes. So I sat in the back as Shauna shared what inspired Cold Tangerines while her friends and family cheered her on and I was near tears the entire time. Never have I felt such a “Me too!” feeling than when I listened to Shauna that night and over the years as I have read her books, the overwhelming feeling of connection and relatability she conveys in her writing instantly makes you feel…heard. Welcomed. Home.

In this world of picture perfect Instagram feeds and messages of “how-tos” that insinuate that you are the only person on the planet who doesn’t have it together, Shauna has created a space through her storytelling that leaves room for the shiny celebratory moments in life to co-exist with the days you are in your pajamas past noon. That a life walking in faith is worth it and possible. That a amazing dinner parties can consist of elaborate recipes or chinese takeout…and that good champagne should be popped on any night of the week because celebration, big or small, matters.

Long story short: I adore Shauna.

Without further adieu, 5 Questions With…Shauna Niequist.

1. What is your favorite thing about where you live? We are, quite literally, surrounded by family. My brother lives on our street, and all four of our kids’ grandparents are within 15 minutes. Aunts, uncles, cousins—all part of our daily life, around our table, shooting baskets in our driveway. I’m so very very thankful to live in a place where we have deep roots and relationships.
2. Here’s $50- what are you going to do with it? Straight to Whole Foods, or any gourmet grocery. Champagne or prosecco, cheese, jam, blackberries, crusty bread, maybe a bouquet of flowers—peonies or ranunculus. I don’t buy expensive jewelry or whatever, but I love to buy food!
3. What is your favorite holiday and why? Memorial Day, because it’s the beginning of summer, my favorite season. I’m crazy about flip-flops, ponytails, boat rides, ice cream for dinner, sandy feet, pink noses, strawberries, tomato sandwiches.
4. What is the best trip or vacation you have ever been on? My all-time favorite city is Paris, and the last time we were there, on the last night of our trip, Aaron and I sat on the banks of the Seine for hours, across from Notre Dame, watching people and holding hands, watching the light fade on Pont Neuf, and it’s one of my most precious memories.
5. What would you do if you knew you could not fail? Write a novel. I probably will anyway, even though I have no idea how, because the older I get, the less afraid I am of failure. :)

The Violet Hour

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The Violet Hour

After 6 years of living in Chicago, we finally made it to The Violet Hour. Curtained salons, complete darkness except candlelight, gorgeous cocktails, no cell phones allowed so complete attention on each other…a violet hour (or two) was exactly what last night called for and I am still practically swooning over the non-contrived romance of it all today.