Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Chicago Vegan Weekend and Quick Trip to the Lou

Catching up on the events of the past month or two...I briefly mentioned that I spent a couple of weekends traveling, but I wanted to go ahead and write about them, too. My brother-in-law Andy had been planning a way to make Cary's birthday special. He wanted to surprise her with a vegan weekend in Chicago. He knew he's not the best vegetarian restaurant partner...luckily, he knew the perfect person for the job. (Actually people, but our other sister Tracy bailed on us. And thankfully, my momma and dad were able to keep the kids so that I could go.)

So anyway, I drove up to St. Louis without her knowledge. I called Andy when I arrived at midnight, and he took their dog outside. I went back in with them, and I ran into the bedroom where Cary was sitting on the bed. She screamed and may or may not have said something not very nice. Apparently, though, it's scary when an unidentifiable person wearing a baseball cap jumps on your bed. Hopefully, she was excited after the initial fright.

By the time we left the next day, it was lunchtime so we stopped at Sweet Art Bakery in STL on our way out. (I'm going to try to just use pictures that Cary didn't include when she blogged about our trip.) We love Sweet Art; I think it's fairly new, really cute, and right up our alley. They have great sandwiches, etc...

and, of course, yummy desserts.
We stayed at Hotel Felix, which is where we stayed during our last Chicago trip. We like it a lot.
One of the reasons we like it so much: Whole Foods is about a block away. I kind of wish I lived in those condos/apartments on the right.
We also like Hotel Felix because it's in walking distance to one of our favorite restaurants, Karyn's Cooked. (There is a Karyn's Raw, which I love, also.) We got the fried zucchini/cauliflower/broccoli basket, (And pizza and stuffed eggplant and pie...yeah, I never learn. I always order too much food on the first night. We learned our lesson, though, and I think we did pretty well the rest of the weekend.) but for the record I never eat breaded, fried foods - only once or twice a year when we make homemade doughnuts and certain things on vacation. This is my post of all the food I ate on my last Chicago trip.

We walked back to the room and ordered New Moon to watch. In bed with our pie. Really, it was the life.
The next day we met our friends, Sarah and Chris, at Delicious Cafe. This was a new, random place we wanted to try. I liked it and would definitely go there again. I ordered a grilled cashew cheese sandwich with un-bacon. I only picked at the chips; I would have preferred different chips or fruit or something else on the side instead.
But more important than that, it was great to spend time with Sarah and Chris. Sarah is one of my oldest friends (when I say oldest, I mean longest-enduring). She was one of my first friends when I moved to a new school in the 3rd grade. We wrote tons of letters to each other throughout college, and she was in my wedding. She's one of my favorite people in the entire world, and luckily, she married someone I like a lot, too!

Cary and I shopped that afternoon in the Bucktown/Wicker Park area. Some of my favorite stores in this area are Mojo Spa, Una Mae's, Buffalo Exchange, and my new favorite place is Rudy's Roundup. I wanted to buy almost everything in that store. We also got a snack at Veggie Bite, another major draw to the area.Later that night, we got to try out another new restaurant, Karyn's on Green (another in the Karyn's repertoire of wonderful dining). It was upscale and modern. We took this picture to show Andy that Cary was indeed catching the Duke game, which happened to be on at the bar behind us.
I finally gave in and ordered a caesar salad, which is what I always want to order at restaurants. I just love them. But I eat them at home all of the time so it seems silly to order them, too. This one tasted different (but great!), though, and included different things like dehydrated olives and herb croutons. I was also a fan of how it was served on a long plate.
On the way back to our car, we got completely lost. We walked two blocks this way, three blocks this way, back to where we started to get our bearings - we tried street after street in every direction. I think Cary was starting to get a little panicked. I wasn't too worried, but it was clear I had no idea what we were going to do if we couldn't find our car. (Call a cab and have him drive us around until we found it?) And it was getting late, and it was rather desolate. I was starting to become convinced my car had been stolen because it made no sense that we couldn't find it. Fortunately, Cary had her iPhone out, leading the way, which helped a little. This is the picture of us finally finding the car.

The next day, we ate breakfast at Whole Foods and made a quick swing over to the Ikea in Schaumburg. It was my first Ikea trip, and I was enthralled. I didn't buy much (a little toy for the boys and a cool "junior chair" for Sis), but my mental wish list was adding up.

My audiobooks purchased off iTunes helped me with my late 6 hour drive home from St. Louis. Thank you, Emily Giffin. I was sleeep-yy.

And then the next weekend the kids and I went back to:
My sister and her family live downtown in a cool loft, which I am very jealous of. We stayed at a hotel down the street from her building.

We spent the first part of the day at the zoo before we had to hurry back to get ready for Winnie's party. The kids are posing near one of my favorite exhibits, the penguins and puffins. I love puffins. There is this poem I have had memorized since I was a little girl. It was in the Poems and Rhymes volume of our Childcraft set, and I remember my mom sitting on my toddler bed, helping me learn it. It's a cute poem; you should read it. (There is a children's book of it, too, which we now have.)

Winnie was literally attached to Tornado the whole day. She only wanted him. It was ridiculously cute. He kept his eye on her and looked out for her. Ryan, we could totally have another child because Tornado could just carry him/her around for us. Just think about it.

my little matching cuties

and my shaggy-headed cuties...

Cary put together a successful 2nd birthday party for Winnie complete with beautiful decorations, cute snacks, a loftful of guests, and vegan cupcakes from Sweet Art to top it all off.


Cary said...

What a beautiful sister you have that you always seem to have a great time with!

SnoopyGirl said...

That caesar salad looks delish! Sounds like a fun trip. You were right up in my neck of the woods. My hubby works in Lincoln Park and we live in the burbs.