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Chi-Town days 4-7

31 Jul

If you haven’t read about the first part of our Chicago vacation, then start here.

Tuesday morning we grabbed a quick breakfast and walked back to the River to board Chicago’s First Lady for an hour long cruise down the Chicago River where we learned all about the city’s history in terms of architecture and their amazing skyscrapers. This was one of our favorite touristy things of the trip. It was super informative, gave us a plethora of pictures, and besides the extreme heat it was a great day to be on a boat!

An Instagram of the Wrigley Building

Trump Tower

Willis Tower

Merchandise Mart

Marina City

One of my favorite skyline shots

After the tour we decided to try out some of Chicago’s famous deep dish pizza from Giodorano’s. As promised, it was delicious but not my favorite in Chicago. I was saving the best for last so Calvin could always remember the deliciousness.

The rest of the day was spent back at the hotel’s pool in an attempt to cool our sunburns from the morning’s river cruise. And for dinner we went to a local Irish bar called Kerryman’s where Calvin enjoyed a gigantic smoked salmon sandwich {seriously, there were two pieces of salmon on it!} and I had a delicious mac-n-cheese concoction {macaroni, gouda, grilled chicken, and potato chips on top}. It was also wine night so we got a bottle of 91pt Malbec for super cheap only to realize Chicago restaurants don’t re-cork the bottles for you. So you better believe we sat there and finished the whole thing so it wouldn’t go to waste.

Believe it or not, we decided that we could manage some dessert before we called it a night, so we headed down the street to Grand Lux Café {thanks for the recommendation Olivia!} and stuffed our already full bellies with cheesecake and cupcakes. We were those stereotypical Americans who let their stomachs control their minds on this day. But I’m only slightly ashamed.

Wednesday morning we slept in and spent the day wandering around more of the city and doing a little more shopping. We found Nordstrom Rack and were much more willing to pay their prices than those at Nordstrom we saw on Monday, so Calvin and I both got a few things. I also found my way into Anthropologie and got a little lost in all its two floors of prettiness. I tend to only shop the sale room at Anthropologie, which in Memphis is a tiny little nook at the back of the store. But in Chicago it’s pretty much half of the downstairs floor, so there was a lot more to choose from!

Oh, and their Anthropologie had this across the street.

So much cooler than Memphis. :)

When Calvin said he’d had enough, we went back to the room and ate some lunch and just relaxed. That night was the Cubs game, so we had to rest up to get ready for Wrigley!

We rode the L-train to Wrigleyville and went to a souvenir shop before the game to get Calvin a shirt. Hooray for that accomplishment! While we waited to get into Beyond the Ivy, we walked around and took lots of pictures. It was so fun showing Calvin Wrigley Field and all the famous Cubs stuff.

Finally it was time to go to our rooftop seats where we spent the rest of the evening enjoying our cool location and the endless supply of burgers, hotdogs, beer, and wine. The game got off to a rocky start and I was nervous for a little while, but the Cubs pulled out a win {5-1 against Miami} at the top of the 8th when they called it due to a rain delay.

Thankfully, we were able to go inside and stay dry until it died down enough to walk down the street to meet a friend who lived nearby. And then we rode the L-train back to our hotel and marveled at the novelty of practical and efficient public transportation. Seriously, Memphis needs that too. You think if I brought my list to the Mayor, he’d listen? So far that’s: Trader Joes, Crate and Barrel, a bigger Anthropologie, and better public transportation. Surely at least one of those things would be a better fit for the Pyramid instead of Bass Pro, right?

Thursday was our last day so we slept in, ate brunch at Grand Lux Café {we saw too many delicious things on the menu to just stick to one visit for dessert},

Exhibit A

and spent the rest of the day at Navy Pier. We had fun playing putt-putt and riding the Ferris Wheel, but it’s definitely just a touristy attraction. Everyone needs to say they’ve seen it, but it’s definitely not a place you want to spend a lot of time.

And for dinner we met our friend, Cody again and headed to Gino’s East for what we think is the best deep dish pizza in Chicago. Calvin was impressed, and for my pizza-loving guy, I was glad we could make that happen.

We ended our amazing trip with drinks on the rooftop bar across from our hotel: Rock Bottom Grill {and yes, Starkville friends—it may have the same name as our beloved Cotton District bar, but Chicago’s has Starkville’s beat}. I mean they brew their own beer and have a rooftop in the center of downtown Chicago. You can’t really compete with that.

And just like that, it was time to head home. Cities are so fun and Chicago is one of my favorites, but it’s always nice to come home. And no matter how much I complain about it or wish it had some of the great things other cities do, Memphis will always be home.

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Chi-Town days 1-3

28 Jul

Warning: long post, in multiple parts, with lots of pictures ahead. It’s detailed, but that’s the way I like my vacation recaps. And this is my blog/housing for all our fun memories, so I get to do that if I want to. Don’t say you weren’t warned! :)

Calvin and I just got back from a wonderful week spent in one of my favorite places in the US: Chicago!

I have always had an unexplainable love for this city and Calvin had never been. I also love the Cubs and have always wanted to go to Wrigley Field with my basketball-loving husband. So one of my Christmas presents from him was tickets to a game! Thus, our Chicago summer vacation was born.

He originally got tickets to see a game during our anniversary week back in May, but since we kinda made a super big purchase that month {a house!}, we decided to push the trip back to later in the summer. Thankfully, this wasn’t an issue with the tickets because the other cool thing he did was research all the rooftop venues that line the streets behind the outfield of Wrigley, and got our tickets from Beyond the Ivy. They are much easier to work than Ticketmaster, and they give you all-you-can-eat food and drinks, so it worked out perfectly.

We drove to Chicago on Saturday and made it there without any major incidents. At one point it did start pouring rain and we were a little nervous that we might need to pull over to wait it out, but it ended up being a short, summer thunderstorm and we drove out of it pretty quickly.

Once we got to the city and Calvin experienced driving in all their traffic, we were really ready to be at our hotel and park our car for the week.

We got checked in and parked, and then decided where we wanted to go eat. We ended up choosing Bucca di Beppo because I had been there before and it was a block from our hotel and we wanted something easy. They serve everything family style there so we split a huge meatball and a bowl of pasta and got sufficiently stuffed. After dinner we walked around the block for a bit, but then headed back to the hotel to call it a night.

Sunday morning we woke up and had breakfast at Orange. We found this, and most of the restaurants we ate at, on Yelp and it did not disappoint! It was a charming little place that made their own juices {you could even create your own} and they served orange coffee. I will admit I was a little hesitant about it, but it was actually pretty good if you can get used to a slightly acidic coffee! And the food was just as good as the drinks. Calvin had a decadent breakfast sandwich with fried eggs, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and a zesty pesto and I had cinnamon roll pancakes. And yes, they were as good as that sounds.

After we ate breakfast we moved our car from the hotel’s garage to one slightly cheaper {read, still really expensive} and walked from there to the Field Museum.

We spent the majority of the day here wandering around the exhibits and staying out of the heat. I don’t remember ever visiting the Field Museum before, and Calvin could spend an entire day in almost any museum, so we had fun exploring it together. Sue the dinosaur and the Tsavo lions were a big hit, and Calvin loved the Egyptian mummy exhibit. We definitely recommend carving out some time to spend here if you’re ever in Chicago!

We ended up skipping lunch since we ate such a big breakfast, so we had an early dinner at a local place called Flo & Santos where we ate sum yummy bruschutta and shared a thin crust pizza. I know, I know, Chicago is known for their deep-dish pizza. But don’t worry; we definitely had plenty of that later in the week!

We rode the L-train back to the area where our hotel was and enjoyed exploring Millennium Park and walking along the Chicago River before calling it a night.

I may be slightly obsessed with the Bean, aka the Cloud Gate!

But only slightly.

Awesome amphitheater

And some fun finds on our walk back…

The next day we had a light breakfast with some stuff we bought at Trader Joe’s {why doesn’t Memphis have one of those?!} and wandered around Nordstrom for a bit before we met a co-worker of mine for lunch. We ate at Yolk where we once again were blown away by the portions and couldn’t clean our plates before we were too stuffed to move. Are you sensing a theme yet? We vacation around our bellies and hop from restaurant to restaurant. There are no diets on a Morris vacation!

After we left Yolk we walked over to the John Hancock building and made a trip to the Observation Deck. We spent some time wandering around and admiring the city from every direction before heading up a few more stories to the Signature Room Lounge. My dad and I did this when we were in Chicago together a couple of years ago, and it is a really fun experience. Basically you’re overpaying for a cocktail to enjoy a bird’s eye view of Chicago while you sit and sip your drink 96 stories in the air. It’s a fun experience and you can save a few bucks by skipping the Observation Deck and going straight to the Signature Room since it’s basically the same view.

When we left the John Hancock building we decided to walk back down Michigan Avenue and check out some of the shops since many were closed the day before. Luckily, my husband is a pretty good shopper and let me spend over an hour in their four-story Crate and Barrel! {Memphis needs one of those too, though it’s probably much better for my wallet that we don’t have one}. And from there he even took me to buy shoes. Seriously, I am a lucky girl.

We were near the River when we finished shopping and were looking for a casual, inexpensive place to grab a quick bite and a drink while we ate and watched the boats drive by. So I asked the girl checking us out for recommendations. She gave me two: one was a really expensive, fancy steakhouse {looked fun and delicious, but not what we were going for} and the other was a pretty chilled out looking place with a really unusual name—Dick’s Last Resort. So we went there. And then later decided that the girl must not have liked me very much even though I did buy something, because who recommends a place where waiters are purposely rude to you to anyone they like? But after sitting down at our table on the patio, we discovered that’s exactly what this place was. It was pretty much a Chili’s in terms of quality of food plus the added perk of having your waiter insult you and act like they’re annoyed by you, for fun. Maybe that’s a cool thing if you’re with a big group of friends and looking for some laughs, but for a couple on vacation looking for a cool spot to eat along the River, it was not.

Needless to say, we quickly ate our food, finished our drinks, and left. We had been planning to try out a local basement wine bar Calvin had read about, so we made our way there and hoped it would redeem our weird dinner experience.

And it did! DiSotto Enoteca is likely a local favorite on the weekends, but it’s in the basement of another restaurant, so typical tourists wouldn’t just stumble upon it. But that’s what Calvin is good at. Give him a few minutes with Google and he’ll find a cool place that the guidebooks would never tell you about! And because they never attract drop-ins from people passing on the sidewalk, we ended up being the only ones there. A little awkward for me at first, but Calvin was loving the fact that we had the place and the waitress to ourselves.

We ordered several different tastings of red wines throughout the night, enjoyed some delicious appetizers and cheese, and had a great time hanging out together. There was a slight mishap involving the rickety table, Calvin’s glass of red wine, and my white shorts but we didn’t let it spoil our fun. And thanks to Pinterest my shorts are perfectly white again! :)

Days 4-7 coming soon!

An Alabama Weekend

19 Feb

At the end of January, Calvin and I packed up the car and headed to Alabama to spend the weekend at a cabin with some friends. Rebekah and John live in a small town between Tuscaloosa and Starkville and had some family friends open up their cabin on the Tom Bigby River to us for the weekend. Our good friends Haley and Will made the drive from Jackson, MS too!

We are so blessed to have these sweet couples as friends and were very grateful for the time to get away for the weekend and hang out. Rebekah, Haley, and I were all marketing majors and became good friends through our classes and RUF our senior year at MSU. And thankfully our husbands get along great, so when we get together we always have so much fun.

We spent our time relaxing, cooking good food, playing games, and enjoying the view.

Reunited and it feels so good! :)

The lovely cabin and our very dirty vehicles from the trek through the mud the night before.

Mille and her pretty brown eyes

Eli and Mille looking very ferocious

Pretty Haley

It was so good to spend the weekend together!

Going for a walk

Eli after he tried to go for a swim

My handsome guy

We had such a great time catching up with these sweet friends and can’t wait to plan another weekend reunion soon!

Nashville + New Years

15 Jan

I mentioned in our Christmas post that my aunt, uncle and cousins moved to Nashville {well Franklin, really} in December, so of course we had to pay them a visit over the holidays! Oh, and it didn’t hurt that our Bulldogs were playing in the Music City Bowl on December 30th, either. Family + football. What else could you need?

Penny joined us on our road trip to Music City and had lots of fun playing with my cousins. It took them a little while to warm up to her, but once they did there was more fetching, chasing, and playing going around than she could handle!

On Thursday Calvin and I had lunch in downtown Franklin and enjoyed exploring the cute city. It was pretty crowded though since a lot of people were still off work for the holidays and fellow Bulldogs were steadily making their way into Nashville. Sadly, the camera was back at my aunt’s charging so there are no pictures from our little outing. But we definitely want to go back and explore more soon.

Thursday night we drove into Nashville to meet up with friends who were in town for the game. Carl graciously invited us to his apartment and then took us to a fun pool hall where I may or may not have been the reason Calvin and I won any of our games! :) It’s always fun to learn new things about your spouse, and what I learned that night was that pool is not his strong suit. He beats me at practically everything else, so don’t feel too bad for him.

Friday we enjoyed the morning playing with my cousins and left for the game later that afternoon. After encountering standstill traffic just minutes into our commute from Franklin into Nashville due to a bad accident, we worried we weren’t going to make it in time. But thankfully, after sitting in park for about 20 minutes, we were able to arrive without any other problems in plenty of time. We picked up friends from their hotel and made our way into downtown.

We spent time hanging out having a few drinks on Broadway {which had quickly become a sea of maroon; hail State} before walking over to LP Field.

We made our way up the ramp to the top section of the stadium, only to discover our tickets were for the opposite side. Someone seriously needs to do a better job of labeling the sections at the base of the ramps, or at least print the east/west gate on your tickets! Davis Wade doesn’t connect in the upper sections either, but I think they do a much better job of getting you to the right spot than LP Field. Luckily, the game wasn’t sold out, so we just found some empty seats and claimed them as our own. But unfortunately, this was a few rows in front of some very loud, annoying, and drunk Wake Forest fans who were not being very kind. Most the time I don’t have a problem with obnoxious fans because I know it’s just all part of the fun and games, but these guys were just too much. At least they’re intoxication was making their arguments very illogical. I mean what ACC team really wonders why they couldn’t play a real SEC team in a bowl game like Alabama or LSU? Hmm, I don’t know, could it be that they were preparing to play each other in the BCS National Championship?! Really, Wake Forest, really?

LP Field also didn’t do a very good job covering up the Titans logo in the end zones or making the MSU side very maroon. Another thing that just wouldn’t fly at Davis Wade, not with Bart Prather around. :)

Although, there were several times I must admit I wasn’t sure what happened to our big, bad SEC-selves. If it wasn’t for our defense, we would’ve lost the game and I can only imagine what kind of fights might’ve broken out around us. Mississippi State was definitely the favored team going into the game, but if we would have lost I’m sure the estimated 9,000 Wake Forest fans would have quickly run the 23,000 MSU fans out of Nashville. Thankfully, we hung on and pulled out a win. Whew.

After the game we went back to Carl’s apartment and celebrated with our friends. And Saturday morning we headed out to make it back to Memphis in time for a New Year’s Eve wedding!

Yes, I realize one is supposed to wear panty hose with their skirts and dresses in the winter, but it was 60 degrees on December 31st! I was celebrating!

After the wedding we went home to prepare to take ourselves back in time to celebrate the new year like it was 1959. Our friends Mary and Josh threw a Mad Men party at their house to help ring in the New Year, and they did a fantastic job!

Oh you know, just some antique phones, clocks, and cigar boxes next to a Macbook.Our lovely hostsMy classy bff with her martiniWho would guess they were born in the 90s?We even had a bartender sporting a tuxedo!Clearly, he enjoyed being served in such a high fashion.Lovely LockwoodsCalvin, I don’t think Don Draper would make such a face.I’m sad it’s so dark! We still would’ve been great friends, even in the 60s.

And at the stroke of midnight, suddenly it was 2012. Break out the dancing!

I’m sure the 1960s would not approve of such things, but hey, it’s 2012!

We had such a fun night hanging out with so many great friends being classy and goofy all at the same time. Happy New Year!

Meet Me in St. Louie

8 Sep

Anyone else a Meet Me in St. Louis fan? Calvin finds my ability to break into song from most any popular musical a bit strange, but who doesn’t love a good ole’ classical musical?

Anyways…

We went to St. Louis for Labor Day weekend with my parents, sister, and her friend, Shelby. My family loves baseball and they especially love them some St. Louis Cardinals. I somehow missed that trend and have been a loyal Cubs fan for as long as I can remember. And Calvin much prefers basketball and football over baseball, but thankfully my parents didn’t let let either of those things stop them from inviting us!

We arrived late Friday night and discovered our hotel was the host of American Idol auditions that weekend. This led to some of the best people-watching I’ve had in a long time. Some of the wardrobe choices were just out of control! On Saturday, Calvin and I got up and ran on the treadmill. We wanted to run outside around downtown St. Louis, but since we needed to run 5+ miles and weren’t very familiar with the area, we decided against it. While wandering around that morning though, we did manage to witness a beautiful sunrise. {Along with observing more American Idol contestants and their fascinating clothing choices. I kept trying to snap a few pictures, but there was no good opportunity to not be obvious. But trust me, there were some good ones.}

After our run we met my family at Union Station and ate breakfast while they shopped. {Union Station was an old train station, but now it’s a mall.}

And from there we wandered around downtown until we made our way back to the hotel and ate lunch at one of St. Louis’ famous pizza joints, Imo’s. And then it was time for the game. We had great seats behind home plate along the first baseline and enjoyed watching the Cardinals win against the Cincinnati Reds. {As you can see from some of the pictures, I wore a neutral shirt to this game. The Cubs were playing at the same time, but unfortunately they lost.–I promise these details are important.}

Afterwards we walked over to the park at the base of the Arch and took some pictures. It had rained off and on at the game, so the sky was a bit overcast, but it was still fun.

We spent the rest of the evening at Big Muddy Blues Festival enjoying good music, food, and drink.

This was called a Hurricane and it was so refreshing after a long day. The alcohol was just an added bonus. :)

On Sunday morning we visited the Arch and rode to the top. It wasn’t any of our first times, but it was still fun!

Yeah, so the iPhone 4 flash isn’t always that awesome… but notice the Cubs shirt!

My family made their way to the game after our trip back to the bottom, but since Calvin and I weren’t too concerned with getting there early/on-time, we walked through the museum inside the Arch and ate lunch at St. Louis Bread Company {aka, Panera}. Sunday was much cooler than Saturday and we were thankful for the awesome weather. But I was a little chilly walking to the stadium so I kept my jacket on. I promise I wasn’t trying to hide what I was wearing though! {Did you notice my Cubs shirt in the pictures? The guy checking my ticket at the stadium entrance sure did, even with my jacket on!} And I feel like this is an appropriate time to say that the Cardinals lost their game Sunday and the Cubs won! See, my game day apparel was important :)

Sunday night we drove to Calvin’s cousin and his wife’s house to hang out with them. They took us to a Scottish restaurant for dinner where we tried things like Bangers and Mash and Pub Burgers. The whole place felt very authentic, and we even had a Scottish waitress! We had a lot of fun catching up with his cousins and stayed up way past our bedtime because we were enjoying ourselves so much.

Before we left on Monday, we had breakfast at a local place they recommended called Rooster. The wait was insanely long, but it was very, very worth it. I had an apple crepe with cinnamon sugar and a side of the best bacon I’ve ever eaten. And Calvin had a St. Louis original dish called the Slinger–basically eggs, breakfast potatoes, sausage, cheese, and gravy on top of thick toast. Which some people might call a heart attack waiting to happen, but he said it was really good.

We finished our trip by wandering around the CityGarden in downtown St. Louis and taking lots of goofy pictures.

To summarize? Our Labor Day weekend was full of sightseeing, good food, lots of family time, baseball, and more yummy food…a success in my book! Was your Labor Day weekend labor free?

Beach Bachelorette

6 Jul

Happy Wednesday! I’m back from a long weekend at the beach plus an extra day off work and I’m feeling refreshed. I hope your Fourth of July celebrations were fun and relaxing as well!

The trip was a lot of fun and included jamming in a minivan while stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the way to the beach, riding in a shuttle bus taxi complete with party lights, helping the bride complete her “bachelorette to do list,” and lots of relaxing on the beach.

Posing outside the taxi

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Celebrating Summer

1 Jul

So it’s now July, the seventh month of the year, and I’m a little confused how that happened. Why is it that time passes so much faster the older you get?

This summer has been a busy one so far, but Calvin and I are so grateful for the vacation we were able to take, the extra time with family and friends, and weekends spent by the pool. Even though our summers are no longer marked by sleeping late, no class, family vacations, and no schedule, we are still finding refreshment in this time of the year. There’s just something about summer that makes you happier, isn’t there?

And this weekend is no different. The Fourth of July is always filled with so many summery things, like cookouts, swimming, fireworks, and fellowship with those we love. However, this weekend may be the most exciting Fourth of July celebration I’ve had in awhile. Continue reading