Happy Sunday! It’s December and I’m all at once very stressed and very excited. I’m pumped for holiday celebrations (secret Santas, white elephants, and the like), for my birthday (the 21st), Christmas, New Year’s, and just RELAXING. But at the same time, I know that leading up to the relaxing will be a couple of very difficult weeks of juggling school, clubs, blog, life and trying to stay a sane, healthy, friendly, happy individual. Eek. Anyone else on this boat? Or on this sleigh, should I say? It is December after all.
For now, I'm going to take a chill pill and tell you about a little trip I took with my family a week ago to the not-so-little city of Chicago. This was our second trip in just under a month. I guess we just loved it so much we couldn’t wait to be back? Or maybe it was just Thanksgiving Break and we didn’t want to cook so we decided to get outta town. I’m leaning towards the latter.
This second trip started out a little funky. I hopped into the car all excited with downloaded episodes of Stranger Things cued up on the iPad. Then I realized, oh right, I get motion sickness. But I also love Stranger Things. But… I get motion sickness. So the ride consisted of watching warily until I got nauseous, then suddenly ripping my headphones out to close my eyes and lean against the window until it passed.
It was in this woozy state that I learned that my parents had ordered and were picking up a platter of hors d'oeuvres and 40 canneles from this woman who did catering out of her house. I was confused but hungry and pleased. You guys, those canneles were heaven. Custardy on the inside, crispy caramel-y on the outside. I’d totally make them if they didn’t take 3 DAYS OF PREPPING, um haha no thanks I’ll just eat them.
So then we found our hotel, the Hyatt Regency Chicago, which we somehow got for very cheap because my parents are expert deal finders. It was nice, not as cute as the hotel we stayed in last time, but clean and comfortable and what more can you expect?
We were all kinda dead so we just sat/lay there for a while. Guess what I did. (if you guessed Stranger Things you win). We finally decided to get up off our butts and explore the city we’d driven 3 hours to and paid good money to stay in. So off we went. We checked out Millenium Park, where we took pictures pretending to be supporting the Bean’s entire weight with our little arms.
We searched for a restaurant that was open on Thanksgiving evening, which proved to be harder than we’d thought it be. We finally stumbled upon Su Casa, an adorable, cheerful, colorful little Mexican restaurant with a plaque inside that reads “How beautiful it is to do nothing, and after doing nothing, to rest.” I had chalupas, chips and guac, and shared two desserts. It would have been three had they not run out of Tres Leches cake (undeniably the best dessert of them all).
When we got back to the hotel we figured out how to connect to the TV using Bluetooth and blasted Macklemore’s “Willy Wonka”. That was fun.
The next morning we got ourselves to a Protein Bar for breakfast, although we were so late they weren’t even serving breakfast anymore. I got a Kale Caesar salad, which didn’t thrill me, so note to self to not order that again. Normally I LOVE Protein Bar though. Their smoothies are A+.
We went back to Millenium Park to check out the crazy long lines for ice skating. The sun was shining so brightly that people who fell on the ice got their pants soaked. It definitely didn’t feel like the end of November. We also saw the big Christmas tree, studded with what seemed like thousands of tiny lights. I think it looks even better in the daytime.
We then wanted to become people of culture so we walked to the Chicago Cultural Center for a crash course. I left feeling even more confused about what culture is or what defines art. But I took some pretty photos. I also got a free artsy poster, so that was a plus.
The Christkindl market was just as cozy and bright as last year, and just as expensive. That and the huge lines were why we left without buying anything. We went straight to the place that had been pulling us like a magnet ever since we’d arrived. We finally succumbed to the draw of the Nutella crepes at Eataly. I learned that strawberries and Nutella are a match made in heaven and that even the biggest crepes go down far too quickly.
I swear this trip was mainly alternating between walking and eating, but it’s a wonderful way to get to know a city. After we got finished with our next round of walking, we ate at the Elephant & Castle Pub and Restaurant where I had a sudden craving for chicken pot pie and thoroughly enjoyed it. Dessert was this incredible bread pudding that actually blew my mind. Try iiiit.
The next morning we actually made it to Protein Bar on time, and I had the peanut butter and acai protein plus oatmeal. Those people know how to make some GOOD oatmeal. They use a blend of steel-cut oats and quinoa and cook it just right. Because how frustrating (and way too common) are mushy oats? Blegh. This stuff was hearty, filling, sweet, and delicious.
We drove out to IKEA for some shopping. Remarkably, all I got was a pretty roll of red and white twine for this year’s Christmas presents. I felt so frugal. Good job me. We also had some excellent meatballs at the cafe.
And after that, it was time for the long drive home. Tired, but happy.
I think that describes me for the past month. Tired, but happy.
How about you? How are you feeling as the crazy, wonderful month of December rolls in?
Have an amazing week x