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Saturday, August 5, 2017

A Little Staycation in Chicago


I love being able to visit our wonderful city of Chicago. It’s definitely a big city to explore. I’m all about trying to take vacations near home and this summer was no exception. Our staycation this summer was a little different as we decided to leave the little ones at home. Yes, it was the first time leaving Olivia for more than one night. I’m not sure why it left me sad, because this summer I feel like I’ve needed a break from my kids. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to truly take a one-week vacation without my two girls. Any other parents suffer from separation anxiety like me? Usually it’s the child that’s upset, but not my girls. They were excited to be visiting Abuelito and Abuelita, because as we all know, grandparents let their grandchildren do whatever, and eat whatever they want. My parents are no exception.


The good thing about a staycation is the commute. We can easily drive or take public transportation into the city. We drove since we were already going to be dropping of the girls on our way. But once in the city we utilized the CTA and Uber to get around. We booked a room at the Hyatt Centric that was right off of the Mag Mile, close to shopping, restaurants and public transportation. The Hyatt had great service and a beautiful spacious room.  I loved that we had a Kuerig in our room, since I can never figure out those other hotel coffee makers, and how awesome is the hair dryer from Dry Bar? I had an awesome hair day! The floor was nice and quiet so we could have a good night’s sleep which I was desperately looking forward to since my two-year-old tends to wake me up at 5 am! 




You can’t visit the city without shopping. Nordstrom’s had their anniversary sale so I had to restrain myself (which by the way is through August 6th). Stopped by some usual spots like The Gap, Forever XXI, and the new Ulta store near the Chicago River. Definitely take a stroll along the River. They have the cutest TikiBar/Restaurant - Island Party Hut.


Getting around the city is easy on the CTA. We took the Red Line up to the Addison stop. We took in a baseball game at the friendly confines, Wrigley Field. My husband had not been there since the renovations so we went early to take everything in. Park at Wrigley is a nice size and on game days only open to ticketed guests. It was nice to sit out there and have a drink before the game. Take advantage of Wednesday’s Movies at the Park, August 9th features The Sandlot (one of my childhood favorites). For a new view of Wrigley, we also decided to take a look at the Budweiser Brickhouse Tavern. We went up to the terrace and could see the whole park and the outside of Wrigley (and the new hotel that is being built across the street). Inside Wrigley they also have lots of food options. I opted for Wicker Park's Pork & Mindy's and a had a pulled pork sandwich served on a bao bun with brown sugar-coated "Pig Candy" bacon bites. Yum! Sadly, the Cubs lost to the Sox. After the game we hit some local spots, and noticed that a whole chunk of Clark Street is getting redone. Can’t wait to see what’s coming. 


Dinner (in my opinion the most important meal of my day) was delicious. We went to Cantina Laredo in the Loop right on State Street. My carne asada was so good, but it was far too late to take a photo of a half empty plate. It was also National Tequila Day so they had a nice drink special. And they offered table side Guacamole so you know you’re getting a fresh batch. 

The next day we decided to keep it Chicago style and went to Uno Pizzeria for some deep dish. Makes your mouth water don’t it? There are so many other spots to eat at while visiting Chicago, like Eataly, Frontera Grill, RPM Italian, Ruth Chris Steakhouse, Bub City, and for a fun drink go to Three Dots and a Dash. 

Some great quick spots to visit are Millennium Park, The Art Institute, and Navy Pier. If you have a lot of time definitely take in the view at the Willis Tower (aka the Sears Tower) or Hancock building. Breathtaking to see the city from up high.   

What kinds of activities do you do on your Staycations? Any other spots we should hit while in the City of Chicago.



Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Book For a Little Girl Who Loves Tea Parties


Having a Tea Party with Ellie the Elephant
 This post may contain affiliate links for which I may be compensated

With two little girls we’ve had our share of tea parties. Tea parties are so much fun, especially for Madeline. She likes to get all dressed up for the occasion and invite all of her dolls and stuffed animals. On days when we know that Olivia isn’t going to be around I like to bring out the little ceramic tea set so it seems more grown up for her (yes poor Olivia, but no one likes broken dishes…and one has already been broken and glued back together).


So when I saw the book, The Queen is Coming to Tea by Linda Ravin Lodding,  I thought it would be a fun read for Madeline. It is an adorably illustrated book about a girl named Ellie who receives a note from the Queen “May I please come for tea? Sincerely yours, The Queen Herself”. Ellie travels the world as she makes sure to have everything she needs for the Queen’s arrival. I have been reading the book to Madeline, she’s 5 and it makes for a good bedtime book for us. It’s a fun way to follow Ellie on all of her adventures as she gets ready for the Queen’s visit. Plus I get to share about my own travel experiences with Madeline, and even make new future plans with her. (I hear Paris calling).

I think you'd love the book too! Sign up for the opportunity to win a copy and a cute ceramic tea set so you too can get ready for the Queen’s arrival. And don’t forget to try the Peach Mango White Iced Tea recipe below.

Peach Mango White Iced Tea Recipe

Ingredients:
4 Cups Water
3 White Tea Bags
1 Peach
½ Cup Chopped Frozen Mango
1 tbsp sugar plus Sugar to Taste

Instructions:
Boil the 6 cups of water; remove from heat
Steep the tea bags about 5 minutes; remove bags and allow tea to cool to room temperature
Add chopped peaches and mango to a mixing bowl and mix with sugar; let fruit soften
Place fruit in pitcher and pour cooled tea on top; add sugar to taste and stir
Chill and serve


a Rafflecopter giveaway


The Queen is Coming to Tea
Author: Linda Ravin Lodding
Illustrator: Constranze von Kitzing
February 7, 2017
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
ISBN: 9781492607571; $16.99; Hardcover


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Summer in Chicago - Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co


With summer in full swing and the girls full of energy, I've been looking for new ways for them to see Chicago. My family was invited to take a scenic ride on a Double Decker bus from Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co. I had been on one many years ago, but never took full advantage of its full offerings. You can visit one of their many kiosks, purchase your ticket, and be on your way. When your on the Chicago City Tour you'll be able to hop on and off at any of the thirteen stops. If you download the app you'll even be able to track when the next bus is on its way. That's a great thing for those who want to spend a little extra time taking in the views and taking photos. Just be sure to keep your ticket handy as you'll need it to re-board.

Tours offered:
Downtown Tour - 13 Hop-onHop-offstops throughout downtown Chicago and River North
The Wrigley Field/Lincoln ParkZooRoute
The Museum of Science &Industry/ChinatownRoute
The Night Tour
For those wanting to experience Chicago by water, Chicago Trolley also offers the Land, Lake and River Package.

The family really enjoyed being able to see the city from up high. Seeing the tall buildings and how big Lake Michigan was kept the girls in awe. We were really excited to take some photos of the skyline on our stops near the Shedd Aquarium and Buckingham Fountain. I would recommend taking the tour towards sunset, it's just a breathtaking view of the city. I loved our tour guide. He had some great little facts about all things Chicago. And just FYI, kids 4 and under ride for free! To learn more about the stops, Double Decker bus, and Trolley visit their website at www.chicagotrolley.com. Let me know if you decide to go, I'd love to hear about which stops you enjoyed.

Olivia taking in the Lake Michigan view

Chicago Skyline

Madeline and Daddy

Madeline and Daddy at Buckingham Fountain 

Land, Lake
and River Package

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

My Toddler Gave Herself a Haircut

Olivia finally wearing hair clips
Ugh, it finally happened. My toddler gave herself a haircut! I'm sure this has happened to many of us. In fact my now 5 year old also took scissors to her hair claiming she wanted to have bangs. Fortunately for that episode I caught her in time to where the only damage was centralized to the front of her hair...easy fix with what she wanted bangs. (And those scissors are now hidden and out of reach).
Picture day...luckily before the haircut
I have a bit of mom guilt. I'm a bit of a helicopter mom. I'm like a shadow trying to see what my kids are up to. But this time around I let my guard down, which thinking back now I should have known better. We were at my dad's, and well he doesn't really have a baby proof home. So my sneaky 2 year old got the better of me when we were all having lunch. Seeing as she was done she and the 5 year old went to watch some tv, right in my line of sight. I must have been caught up in conversation with dad, when Madeline calls out to me, "mom, come see what Olivia is doing". I assumed that she was trying to climb something as that is her new thing. Nope I walk into the bathroom to find a ton of hair on the ground, I didn't even know she had that much hair! She was holding the (thankfully blunt ended) scissors so proudly, "look mommy". I didn't know whether to cry or scold her. I was finally able to get her to hair hair clips and bows (she must have been rebelling against it). 
I'm going to miss those hair clips
My first thought was Madeline must have helped, I mean she cut the back of her hair! Madeline denies, denies, denies. I asked Olivia where she got the scissors and she insisted that "Madeline climbed". At this point the damage is done so pointing fingers is really well pointless. I grab Olivia and sit her down, contemplating how I'm going to fix this. I tried to trim and give her bowl cut, but I quickly realize that she had cut pretty deep. I was going to have to find some real help.
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