Category Archives: Chicago Restaurants

Weekend Wrap-Up: Call Me Bob Ross

Hey guys!!! How have you been?! I feel like it’s been SO long since I’ve posted even though it was less than a week ago. So, as promised in my Insta-story, I wanted to explain why I was basically MIA all week.

And it’s kinda personal.

It was honestly one of those weeks where everything was kinda going wrong. Things at work were starting to get to me personally, our sweet little apartment went on the market, and I literally had no energy to work on my blog last weekend.

None.

Zero.

Zip.

I feel like I hit a crossroads in my life this week. I know it sounds really dramatic but I’m kind of downplaying the personal drama that went down in the matter of like 3 days.

And here’s the thing. I feel like I’ve hit a little wall with blogging – like I’ve kind of lost my energy for it. But I want to explain why.

So I’m going to give you guys a little anecdote here.

When I was little, my dad and brother used to take me to the driving range. And I would walk right up to the tee and swing as hard as I could and the ball would go flying and I’d be super proud, right? Sure, it was only a few yards or whatever but it was still exciting to me. So I’d swing a couple more times, hit the ball, blah blah blah. And then my dad & brother would offer me suggestions so I could hit it even further.

(Hang with me, I promise this is going somewhere).

They’d tell me to change my grip.

Or bend my knees a little more.

Or put my hands this way or that way.

And then by the time I took in all the advice and tried to swing the club the way I was told, I wouldn’t hit one ball. I’d whiff every one. And then I would forget how I swung in the beginning and I would get all frustrated and want to quit.

THIS HAS BEEN MY LIFE WITH BLOGGING.

I think I’ve been doing way too much of what I feel like I “should” be doing versus what just feels right to me. I read so much blogging “advice” and all it does is stress me out about GROWTH and MONETIZATION and NICHES and it’s kind of making me lose the desire.

Sure, maybe I won’t have 150,000 followers on Insta by doing things my way, but I’m happy with my 1,500. Maybe I won’t hit the ball out of the freakin’ driving range, but I’ll hit it. I don’t want to get frustrated and want to throw in the towel.

I enjoy blogging but I still want this to be a hobby. Would I love to do this full time? Ummm, DUH. But at the same time I know in order to make this a business I need to treat it like a business and basically ask people to buy crap so I can get paid for it. And that’s just not my style. Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s amazing that people have made this into a career and I love supporting other bloggers and buying products that they link and promote.

Buuuuuut I just can’t do it. It’s not me.

So I’ve just been kind of stumped on my content because I feel like I need to always promote stuff for people to buy when really I just want to talk about life and food because they’re my fave subjects.

Basically going forward I just want to get back to swinging the club MY way. I don’t want to act like I’m some savvy businesswoman that I’m NOT. And if that means I stop growing or people stop following then so be it but I have a sneaky little feeling you guys are sick of that type of blogger too.

So. With that being said.

My weekend started with something that was the PERFECT ending to a hectic/emotionally stressful week: WINE & PAINTING (hence the title of this post, Call Me Bob Ross. Dang. Maybe it should have been Bob Rosé?!)

Anyway.

IS THERE A BETTER COMBO?!?

I partnered up with Bottle & Bottega and they were nice enough to let Ben & I come try out their class. And like I said, it couldn’t have come at a better time because it was so laid back and therapeutic and it really just allowed me to decompress and have FUN.

Ben & I went to their BFF & date night class at their Lakeview location – which is perfect because it’s super close to mi casa and also conveniently located next to Left Coast (!!).

So we aproned up, got a little wine buzz on during their happy hour (which is perfect because it allows you to mingle & meet some new friends), and got started painting!

The best thing about Bottle & Bottega is that even though they’re guiding you through a painting, you can really make it whatever you want. Ben & I branched out and got pretty “creative” I guess you could say, but you could just as easily follow the instructors and actually pick up a few tips!

what it was “supposed” to look like…
versus our final paintings… HA!!

The class lasted about 3 hours total from the happy hour till we were done but it seriously felt like it flew by because we were having such a fun time! There’s a little music playing, everyone’s chatting and sipping wine, it’s such a nice ambiance in there.

LOL

It was actually so relaxing that Ben & I basically went home and passed out at 11. But you guys – it really was a perfect date night or girls night idea and I highly recommend going!! OH AND – this coming Tuesday, the 24th, the Lakeview location is hosting a Paint Your Pet event where you bring in a picture of your pet and they will help guide you through painting it!

I thought it was pretty cool and honestly I already want to go back so I can create a Taffy masterpiece.

But anyway.

Saturday morning here in Chicago the weather was freakin’ AMAZING. After I cleaned my apartment (does anyone else do this EVERY Saturday like your life depends on it?!) Ben & I went to brunch at Barcocina (another neighborhood fave) and I got the pork belly tacos.

Def not Whole 30, but if you saw my Insta-story, it was just one of those weekends that I just had to take a moment out of the Whole 30 / Paleo mindset. Lol.

YES I’M AN EMOTIONAL EATER OK.

After the tacos, I met my besties Jordan & Maggie for a little lakeside walk. We literally walked for MILES and it was so beautiful I seriously didn’t want to stop.

But eventually we stopped for more FOOD because DUH.

And I got a cheeseless pizza at Happy Camper which, let’s be honest, doesn’t exactly sound appetizing but it was freakin’ good. (I can’t eat dairy if you’re wondering why I would EVER go cheeseless).

The rest of the night was spent on the couch with my girls, with a million blankets, two bottles of wine, and two movies. I watched Bad Moms for probably the 100th time in 2 weeks and we watched Room with Brie Larsen which is SO GOOD but also kind of depressing.

Sunday we slept, ate more, and watched the PATS win!!! WOOOOO!!!!

(Yes I’m a closet Patriots fan, I get it from Ben).

So there ya have it. A weekend for the books.

I really wish I could rewind to Saturday.

But tell me… what did you do this weekend? Did you have nice weather where you were, too? Try any new date spots? Eat any cheeseless pizza?!? Tell me everything!!! I will be back soon. Until then! Xo.

-TWB

Weekend Wrap-Up: Shoes, Celebs, & Popcorn Mishaps

Hi loves! How is everyone today?! I am literally FREEZING right now. And if you don’t live in Chicago – just so you’re aware so you can feel sorry for us – we’re having a major cold front move through this week meaning we have temps as low as -3 degrees and a chance of snow every day. BRRRR!!!

Honestly I don’t really mind it until Christmas, because it’s kind of cute like awww Christmas lights and candy canes and snow and Santa yay!

And then it’s like the jig is up, cold, one of us is leaving so either you need to go away or I’m moving to California.

But anyway.

Back to the point of the post.

THIS WEEKEND was amazing, restful, and somehow felt SO long?

Friday night we went to the movies and saw Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in 3D (after a couple of margaritas at Mezcalina, obviously – their Fuego Manzana cocktail is to. die. for.) and you guys… the movie was SO GOOD. I’m not even kidding. I mean, first of all, I have to disclose that I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, so I’m into this kind of stuff, but Ben hasn’t seen all the HP movies and still loved it. It honestly doesn’t have anything to do with Harry Potter it’s just a freakin’ good movie. And the effects are really cool, so I would recommend seeing it in 3D.

Sidenote: You guys know how much I LOVE popcorn and so I went to the popcorn counter, ordered it MID-MOVIE (this is a big deal, I mean – that’s EFFORT) and went to the butter stand and literally put SO much faux butter sauce all over it that once I got back to my seat my hands were covered in faux butter slime and it was all I could smell and it really grossed me out and I didn’t eat it. HOW DISAPPOINTING IS THAT. Lol.

Saturday morning we woke up and I dragged brought Ben to try True Foods Kitchen in River North. I have been DYING to try this place – everyone who has been loves it. We ordered the cauliflower starter (DELISH), turkey sausage minestrone soup (one of the best soups I’ve ever had, hands down), and I had the teriyaki quinoa which was delicious and SUPER filling.

So that’s all fine and dandy, I recommend you guys try it, it’s delicious and fresh and blah blah blah. BUT. At one point I caught a glimpse of the table right behind us and thought to myself hmm that guy looks familiar. But for some odd reason, every person in the River North True Foods Kitchen kind of resembles a fitness model, celebrity, or other type of beautiful person, especially on Saturday morning. So anyway, the whole time we were sitting there, Ben & I were watching this tour bus try to back out from behind a hotel, holding up traffic, people were stopping and staring, all that. It was like watching TV, seriously. And we saw this gaggle of tweenies standing outside of the bus, so we’re kind of musing as to who could be inside.

The table behind us gets up and walks out, the bus finally makes it out, I’m not thinking anything of all this.

And then our waiter comes up and casually says – You guys know that was Shawn Mendes sitting behind you?

UMM WHAT?!?!?!

So  yeah, Shawn Mendes and I basically had brunch together.

(I know, I know, I didn’t even recognize him on my own lol)

But still pretty cool.

I’m still just picturing myself in the background of some tween’s Instagram of Shawn with quinoa all over my face and bad posture.

UGH.

Anyway.

So when I went to New York I had this realization that all of my shoes are wildly uncomfortable, and I legit didn’t have any shoes to just wear around when I have to walk a lot. Which prompted me to actually get correctly FITTED for shoes. We stopped at the New Balance store in Lincoln Park (the one off Clark St!) and I finally got fitted for some good shoes.

They basically had me stand on the shoe fitter (you know – the metal one that I literally haven’t stepped foot on since 4th grade, for some unknown reason) and got sized. Then, I stood on this machine that actually read the pressure points on my foot – which basically showed all of my pressure is in my heels. They also said I have a really low arch and flat foot, so I needed a little arch support to keep that bad boy lifted.

Then. You guys. This is a big deal….

They got me on the treadmill. Lol.

Not for long, obviously, I was absolutely unprepared in some stiff jeans.

But then they took a video of my walk on the iPad and actually saw how my feet hit. And it literally looked like my ankles were turning with every step. So no freakin’ wonder my feet hurt so dang bad in NYC!

They gave me a couple of columns of shoes that would support my feet, so I picked the New Balance 990’s because the chances of me using them for actual exercise are a tad slim, so I wanted a casual shoe I could wear with my stiff jeans. Lol.

But it was super easy, super quick, and everyone there was super helpful. They even helped me pick an insole that keeps my feet from turning. Honestly, it feels like a pushup bra in my shoe. HA!

I even wore them out of the store. Literally can’t remember the last time I did that.

YOU GUYS: Use code #NewBalanceChi10 at checkout for $10 off any New Balance order! Expires 12/31. I linked some of my favorite New Balance styles at the bottom of this post! ALSO – there’s a GIVEAWAY happening. You can win a $50 gift card & a free pair of shoes! So be sure to enter here!

OH – and I found the coolest freakin’ wall! It’s at the intersection of Clark & Arlington. It’s super cute, so if you’re a blogger or just love to find cool walls to take pics, this one is a new fave!

Saturday night, we binge watched Fargo (Season 1 – SO good!) until about 9, and then we went to Diversey River Bowl for some glow bowling with some friends. I wore my UGGs and got called out. lol. I’M A FRAUD!!!! But actually it was just super snowy and I didn’t want to lose my new Sorels, ok!?!

Sunday we literally hibernated ALL. DAY.

We ate Chipotle, napped, watched a lot of football and Fixer Upper, and then at night we BLASTED some Christmas music, lit some Christmas candles, ordered Thai food and decorated for Christmas (with a little help from Taffy!)

Overall it was SUCH a perfect weekend.

So tell me… What did you do this weekend? Anything fun?! Do you have any ideas for stuff to do during cold & snowy weekend days?! Tell me everything! I’ll be back in a couple of days with a GIVEAWAY for you guys!!!! It’s so good and I can’t WAIT! Xo.

-TWB

P.S. A portion of this post was sponsored by New Balance Chicago, but I promise all opinions are my own! I swear I really needed some sneaks! Lol. Xo.

Coffee Talk: Date Night

Hi friends! How is everyone doing today!? Somehow I woke myself up at 5:35 without an alarm (psycho) so obviously I immediately put on some coffee but somehow I’m feeling strangely energized? Maybe the supermoon has receded back in the sky. I swear that thing had me up all night & acting crazy.

Oh and by the way – PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT – if you personally know me or read my blog a lot you probably know that I am absolutely obsessed with pajamas (like, to an unhealthy extent) and right now Old Navy has the BEST pjs a girl could ask for. Currently wearing, duh. They are long-sleeve waffle-knit thermal shirts and long leggings with such cute prints. OMG. Please do yourself a favor and treat yourself to some holiday jammies (you can find the tops here and leggings here).

You won’t regret it, promise.

Anyway.

Do you guys have your coffee yet?! I’m already blabbing on and on and I’ve had, like, a sip. Let’s all just pause for a nice warm GULP of the good stuff.

There we go.

Are you new to coffee talks?! If so, welcome!! We meet every Thursday (on this blog, not in real life sadly, but we pretend) and we just talk about whatever is going on right now – we’ve talked about perfectionism, blogging tips, my fave quote ever, where we’d live if we could live anywhere, what we would do if we could do anything – and so many more!

Today I’m circling back to a requested topic that came up when we turned the tables a few weeks ago: DATE NIGHT.

So I’ve mentioned on here before that I’m a huge fan of Date Night. I’m an avid listener of The Skinny Confidential Podcast (you can find it on iTunes!) and my fave blogger Lauryn and her fiancé (now husband) Michael always make time for a Date Night.

Earlier this summer, Ben and I both were extremely busy. He had just switched jobs and was adapting to commuting and working in the Loop after working from home for a couple of years. I was blogging every day, attending wedding festivities every weekend, and traveling for work and to see friends. And we basically got into this really bad habit where on our nights “off” from all of our activities, we would come home, eat, and be literal ZOMBIES on the couch. We would stare at our phones, barely speak, and we were like two ships passing in the night.

It’s crazy sometimes how much time passes if you don’t intentionally spend time together, even when you live together. I remember at one point I thought to myself, it had been at least a month since we had gone on a real date. You know – makeup on, dressed nice, maybe a spritz of perfume – instead of sweatpants & tacos.

(SIDENOTE: There is nothing wrong with sweatpants & tacos. We’ve probably done that for a date night. I’ll explain.)

Ok. So you know the backstory now. And after hearing about Date Night on the podcast, I decided we had to try. And Ben was a willing participant because the idea behind Date Night was that each week, we would switch off who planned it.

Fun, right?!

So since then, we’ve committed one day a week to it!  We usually pick Wednesday or Thursday so we have something to look forward to during the week, but some weeks we bump it up if we have other plans.

Overall, we’ve kept it pretty simple. The idea behind Date Night is just the INTENTIONAL part. Even if it’s sweatpants & tacos, we make sure to be present during the “date.” We put our phones away, we sit at the dinner table, or we put on a fun movie and we make sure to talk and pay attention to each other and be present in the moment.

Oh, and we like to surprise each other with the plans. The planner usually tells the other person where to be and what time to be there and the rest is a mystery. It makes it more fun!

Some of our faves?

Dinner & bowling. Ben LOVES bowling but I’m absolutely AWFUL so one night for date night I surprised him with a dinner at Earl’s followed by a trip to King’s Lanes in Chicago. You guys…. my score was less than 20. NO JOKE.

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Homemade Pinterest recipe & an action flick. We made a skinny shrimp pasta recipe from Pinterest (you know I’m obsessed with Pinterest right now), drank some wine, and watched Deadpool and it was seriously one of our most fun nights!

Beer flights & Cajun food. Ok so this was last night *super fresh* but Ben researched Cajun food in Chicago (one of our faves!) and we went to the South Loop for Moxee’s and ate tons of etoufee and had some beer flights from Madhouse Brewing. (And then I dragged him unwillingly to Old Navy but we both found a ton of good stuff!)

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Popcorn (Quinn is my fave right now!!) & Hocus Pocus. Obvi a holiday theme.

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Chipotle & a Target trip. Seriously, though, some of the best nights are the most simple!

Our favorite takeout from Balena on the patio. I added a little music, wine, and string lights to amp up the ambiance.

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ALLL the tacos from Velvet Taco & walking around downtown. 

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Wine, tapas, and walking around Whole Foods. Seriously, we keep it pretty simple 90% of the time.

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SUSHI & Netflix. This was definitely a Ben date night created for me. I secretly LOVE sushi. And Netflix.

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It’s usually dinner-and-a-movie classic stuff, but we’ve seriously had so much fun making it a special night each week!

Ok… so now it’s time to tell me… do you have date nights with your significant other? Or any other traditions to share? If you do have date nights – what are some of the things you do together? Are you a classic dinner-and-a-movie type or do you like to do more adventurous things?

TELL ME EVERYTHING!

Seriously.

Right now.

Comment, tweet (I have another follower I think I’m up to 4), write me a letter, I don’t care! I just want to know your thoughts. SERIOUSLY. Let’s finish our chat!

I’ll be back soon with a fun new post and hopefully some fun new PICS because I’m dragging my fellow-blogger-BFF JIGGY to take some this weekend. Woo! See you then! Xo.

-TWB

Country Weekend Getaway

You guys. I just had the best weekend – well – ever.

I realize you’re probably aware of this if you follow me on Instagram because even Ben was judging my numerous posts per day. I was breaking all the Insta-rules.

But anyway.

Ben & I just celebrated our four year anniversary. FOUR YEARS. The day we started dating was election day and it was the day Obama was re-elected to office. How crazy is that?! It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long at all.

We always celebrate by doing something fun – our 1st anniversary we went to the Shedd Aquarium and then decided we were in the mood for fish (kinda messed up) and went out to dinner for seafood. Our 2nd anniversary we spent way too much money at Chicago Cut (but it was totally worth every penny – SO delicious). Last year we went to Chicago Botanic Garden and Piccolo Sogno.

This year, though, we decided to spend our moolah on an experience instead of just a nice dinner.

And I’m SO glad we did.

After doing a little research we found the CUTEST Airbnb just outside of Milwaukee in the Wisconsin countryside. This was our first Airbnb experience and it really couldn’t have been any better. The loft was SO cute and it felt like home as soon as we got there.

Friday night we ate some wings at Wingin’ It in downtown Helenville. Woke up to the most beautiful sunrise Saturday morning and walked around the property while we had coffee. Drove to Oconomowoc (say that 5 times fast) for more coffee at Whelan’s and burgers at Crafty Cow. Napped. Then re-filled our bellies with pasta from Mangiami in downtown Fort Atkinson and ended our night with s’mores, stargazing, a bonfire, and obviously a little more wine.

All in all it couldn’t have been more perfect. And if you’re ever looking for a weekend getaway from Chicago, this is SUCH a nice weekend retreat that’s only 90-miles away.

So tell me… how do you typically spend your anniversary? Have you ever tried Airbnb? Have you ever been to Helenville?! Tell me everything! I will be back soon with a fun new post. I hope you enjoy the pics! Xo.

(P.S. I can’t take off this red beanie – I’m literally obsessed! …if you couldn’t tell. Hehe.)

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Weekend Wrap-Up

Hi friends! How was your weekend?! You know how they say “A Sunday well spent brings a week of content?” Hmmm. Yeahhhh. That wasn’t my weekend. Because I basically didn’t do anything productive, hence the one day late Weekend Wrap-Up! I’m not kidding, I had every intention to post this on Monday, but I woke up and my house was SO messy and gross and I just had this overwhelming urge to clean. At 6 AM.

Then after work I had to cook dinner, run a billion errands, and meal prep. FUN STUFF.

I totally remembered why I’m always a granny on Sundays.

Anyway.

This weekend actually turned out to be so much fun! Here’s what we were up to…

Started the weekend off with a little wine tasting at the cutest little wine shop by our apartment, Craft. I love this place because they carry so many unique & tasty wines but most are under $20. And they do free tastings on Fridays. HELLO!?

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How to kidnap me 101.
How to kidnap me 101.

Tasted some tapas at a new tapas place down the street called Spanish Square. This place is SO good. And they actually have a smaller menu which I kind of love, because usually when I go to tapas I’m so overwhelmed by the menu. Every one we tried was amazing.

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Brunched with the girls at LOKaL in Wicker Park. I was super weird and ordered steak & eggs minus the eggs (lol) but it was actually really delicious. And they offer unlimited mimosas for just $12!

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Sipped a couple of cocktails (aka I drank red wine at a bar) and watched UK beat Alabama for a full 5 minutes at Bottled Blonde. I left at 9 PM like a grandma and laid in bed and watched Bridget Jones’ Diary. Hehe. (You can find my super comfy boyfriend jeans ever here)

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Drove up to Wisconsin for some APPLE PICKING at Apple Holler! This was definitely the highlight of the weekend because it ended up being so freakin’ fun. We went super early (like, got there at 10 AM) so it wasn’t too crowded (hate crowds) and the orchards were pretty much wide open. I ate SO many apples, omg. It’s just $20 to go out into the fields and pick anything you want (and taste test!).

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A lot of people asked me if I liked this orchard or County Line orchard better, and I liked this one better just because the orchards weren’t as picked over and there are so many more types of apples. Plus, I know this is petty, but at Apple Holler you pay $20 at the entry and you can pick as many as you want. At County Line you pay per pound, which is fine, but the lines to pay are SO LONG, so you’re standing there holding 10 pounds of apples, sweating, with 8 kids knocking into you.

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I was also asked a couple of times about my sweater and it’s from H&M – I linked it here. It’s SO comfy and long enough that you can wear it with leggings. I’m also obsessed with this one, I think it would be SO cute for apple picking!!

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Oh and also I wore my favorite outdoor boots and a beanie because it gets really muddy and really chilly up there!

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Finished the weekend with a totally non-30 approved plate of Udon at Tanuki. You guys – our favorite restaurant in the city, Namo Thai, closed down. We’re SO upset. This was always our Sunday tradition. So if you have any suggestions for AMAZING Thai food, we’re now taking suggestions so we can find a replacement. (WAHHHH!!!!)

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So tell me… What did you do this weekend? Anything fun? Do you plan on apple picking this year? Do you have any favorite Thai spots in the city to share?! (PLZ!) Tell me everything! I have new posts lined up for EVERY day the rest of this week! So get excited. I’ll see you tomorrow with the easiest Whole 30 recipe basically EVER. Xo.

-TWB