Monday, November 18, 2013

Anniversary: Weekend Staycation in Chicago

November 7th marked our 3 year anniversary!  Crazy how fast the time has flown.   At some point, I'll re-cap our wedding and honeymoon on here because I want to capture it as it's obviously a pretty special time in our lives.

Its been such a wild ride!  So much has happened.  During the planning process of our wedding, I started noticing things weren't right with my health.  It would take the following spring for me to finally get diagnosed with Hashimoto's and the related Gluten Intolerance after many Dr's appointments and online internet sleuthing (thank you Dr. Google!).    It has unfortunately, made up a bigger part of our married lives than I would want.   I jokingly refer to it as the "other person" in our marriage.  Its, Tom, Me & Hashi.   And lemmee tell ya, that Hashi sure is a bitch.

This is where picking a great guy to marry, comes in ;)  I am incredibly lucky to have such an amazing guy to call my husband.  I refrain from posting a sappy open letter to my husband, because those things are for him to hear anyways, and he deserves to hear how wonderful he is person.

Despite this one major negative, so many great things have happened. I've watched Tom really grow into his career and make me super proud, I've grown into mine, we've enjoyed nesting in our first home, taken the best vacation of our lives (but certainly not the last!), explored and discovered amazing finds in a city we adore, enjoyed weekend getaways, grown closer to family and friends....I could go on.

As we enjoyed our anniversary weekend, I mentioned to Tom that as happy as I was when we were new to the city and making friends, and  as great as it was to be young (er) with less responsibility, I am really happy where we are today.   I wouldn't go back.  We have so many wonderful things in store for the next year.  A lot of changes are underway and I'm super excited about them.

Now on to the weekend re-cap!

Shortly after our wedding, I accepted a position as a college recruiter which meant Falls were no longer our own.   Because of this, we have gotten pretty creative planning quality time together around this time of year. Last year, the date coincided with a California Trip so we planned a quick trip to Sonoma which was incredible.  This year, as I happened to be in town, we decided it might be fun to cash in a few hotel points and take a "stay-cation".

After sleeping in, and going to the gym, we packed up the car and headed downtown.  We took advantage of early check-in at the W Hotel (where they upgraded us to a Lake view room - score!), dropped our stuff off and headed to M Burger to fuel our afternoon of power-walking and shopping along Michigan Ave.   I was excited to see that they had a pumpkin milkshake featured so we got a small to share and were amazed by the fact that we were actually sitting outside during November!   We only drank a small amount of it, but it was yummy.  I tried their turkey burger which they wrapped in lettuce for me and Tom stuck with the double cheeseburger.  I really wished they had one near my office, because I'd eat there every day.

(photos from Google)

Even though we live in the city-limits, we don't spend a lot of time going downtown to shop.  It's easier (and truthfully, much less infuriating) to just hop in the car and go to Old Orchard. However, there is something about the city in the Fall.   It was great to people-watch, enjoy hot-chocolate, and look at things way outside our budget (I'm looking at you All Saints). I can't wait to enjoy another day on the Mag Mile when the Christmas lights come out!

When we were shopped out, we headed back to the hotel to get ready.   Tom was a genius and brought a bottle of Brut Rose Champagne, so we enjoyed a glass or two while getting ready.   Then we decided to check out the Whiskey Bar upstairs.  We weren't impressed - the layout was odd although the view was gorgeous.  I also didn't spy many whiskey cocktails which was strange.  We kept it simple and stuck to Woodford Reserve on the rocks (splash of soda water for me) and then headed out to dinner.

We chose Vera which is a Spanish wine bar in the West Loop which we have wanted to try for some time. It was perfect and we are definitely planning on coming back.  The interior was cozy and the Rose they suggested to go with our small plates was both tasty and easy on the wallet.    We started with a charterurie plate which was HUGE.    It was also a bit puzzling.  There were 3 cheeses to chose from, and 3 meats, but for $2 more you could get the "chef's selection" which was essentially...3 cheeses and 3 meats.  I asked the server if there were meats and cheese that were "off menu" and she said "nope, they essentially give you everything listed. I know, it's weird."  So we did the frugal thing and built our own :)    We had to get bacon wrapped dates because you know...bacon. We also shared a rabbit paella, chicken thigh dish, and grilled octopus.   We spied a tripe stew that looked amazing but we were too stuffed to order.  Next time.

We thought since we were in the area we could also try to get into one of our favorite cocktail bars, Aviary. However, the wait was insane and we are old, so we headed back to the hotel.

We both slept in and ordered breakfast in bed. WOW.  Room service is expensive.  I do love that the W actually has a Gluten Free section in their room service menu - it makes it so much easier!    I got berries and because I didn't see yogurt listed, order the creme brulee (it essentially egg and yogurt right?!).   Tom's leg was hurting from his run the day before so he watched the Bears while I checked out the hotel gym. I wish I would have taken a pic, because it was a seriously great view.  The treadmill overlooks the lake just like our room.

Once I was showered and we got ready, we headed to our massages at Bliss.  We each got the "Blissage  75" which is 75 minutes of heaven.  It included a paraffin wax foot massage, scalp massage and your run of the mill Swedish massage.  You could then take advantage of their aromatherapy steam showers which I was excited to try.  After that, it was time to check out of the hotel.

Luckily, we still had one more thing to look forward to:  we were finally going to try Little Goat, the new-ish restaurant from Stephanie Izzard  of Top Chef and The Girl and the Goat fame.  It was sooooooo good. It is essentially an upscale dinner with all sorts of comfort food.  The interior is awesome eclectic and retro.   I got a goat burger with a ceasar salad, Tom tried the goat chilli and the burger, and we split the smoked fries.  We also ordered the "choco taco" for dessert.   While everything I listed (beside the goat part) seems pretty normal, it was all done with a twist.  For instance, the choc taco was her interpretation of a childhood treat. It included sour cream ice cream and matzo dough fried and dipped in chocolate,    I also appreciated that they had a gluten free menu.

(Photos from google)

It was such a great weekend and I'm sad it's over.  Thankfully we have a couple of upcoming trips to look forward to before the year ends.  We are going to enjoy Thanksgiving in Panama City with family, then we are headed to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail  in December.

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