Tag Archives: city

the Wegner’s Windy City

Ahh…silence. We’ve been struggling through naps lately (teething? Wonder Week? All the effects from travel finally rearing their ugly head?) Who knows. In any case, we are still at 3 naps a day and every one of them has been a struggle this past week. I don’t blame her. September was a crazy month for us: Omaha to see Nick’s family, Chicago for the orthopedic conference, and California to see my family.  And oh yeah, we just returned from a spur-of-the-moment weekend trip to Southern Utah to visit Arches National Park (more on that in a future post). There were a few days of rest between every trip to recuperate but with all the constant motion and disruption to her routine, I totally get why Miss Ara’s sleeping is all over the place. She’s been a great traveler nonetheless and it’s been so fun to show her all these places and go on these adventures with her. I figure now’s the time to take advantage before she becomes mobile and traveling gets more challenging!

I love Chicago. If it weren’t the ornery wintertime weather, it would be the perfect city. We were there over five days and four nights for Nick to attend an orthopedic foot/ankle conference and we decided to tag along. Poor Nick had to be in conference most of the time, so Ara and I had most of the days to ourselves. Though our time was somewhat limited, we made the most of it by scheduling a playdate with dear friends, visiting old coworkers, and exploring old favorite haunts in the city, such as the Bean, Millenium Park and the Art Institute. This being a city that is always changing, we also made new discoveries such as Oz Park and Eataly. Here were a few highlights!

Ready for another adventure!

Ready for another adventure!

IMG_2108

Day 1:

We zipped downtown after landing at O’Hare and arrived at our hotel. Nick left for the conference and Ara and I set off to explore Eataly Chicago, an AMAZING Italian food emporium that is 63,000 sq ft chock-full of gourmet goodies and food markets. I was overwhelmed from the very beginning, there is so much to see and taste in there. If this were open while we were living in Chicago, we would be in huge trouble! Seriously, go there if you have the chance. Two words: Nutella bar. After ordering a panini and purchasing a few truffles from the pasticerria, we set off for Michigan Avenue to window shop before dinner. Dinner, of course, was deep dish Chicago-style pizza at Giordano’s!

Eataly Salumeria!

Eataly Salumeria!

 

Day 2:

Sidenote: the hotel crib looked like a jail cell so Miss Ara spent the nights in our king-size hotel bed. So there was a lot of this going on. How do people sleep when they cosleep?

Ara and I took a morning walk along the Chicago River and Wacker Drive to look at all the pretty architectural sights. Next on the agenda was Millenium Park, my absolute favorite part of the city! After all, there’s Cloudgate (the Bean) where it’s always fun to see how people interact with it (selfies selfies selfies) and Pritzker Pavilion where I have a lot of fond memories of summer concerts and picnics on the grass. For the 10th anniversary of Crown Fountain in the park, there was a Jaume Plensa exhibition called 1004 Portraits which was pretty neat to see up close. Everyone takes photos of the white portrait, but I found the three earth-toned ones compelling in their arrangement.

Chicago River

Chicago River

IMG_1938 IMG_1936 IMG_1939

At the Bean

At the Bean

Cloud Gate

Cloud Gate

1004 Portraits by Jaume Plensa

1004 Portraits by Jaume Plensa

IMG_1944

Nick was done for the day by then and so we set out on a hunt for giardiniera (a must, we love adding this to our sandwiches and can only find it in Chicago!), and dinner at our favorite wine bar, Quartino. Sitting on the bustling patio while old Italian movies played in the background brought back great memories of so many evenings spent there and it was fun to see Ara take it all in.

Quartino view

Quartino view

Day 3:

Oz Park

Oz Park

I was so excited for Sunday because we were going to have a playdate with Missy and my good girlfriends in Oz Park in the Lincoln Park neighborhood! We all first met each other in our old Chicago office and bonded quickly. We were all in our mid-twenties then and single or dating. Now everyone is married and most of us have young kids. I can’t believe how quickly the time flies. These ladies were and are my rocks, the best support group, and I never laugh so hard than when I’m with them. I really really love these women. Missy, we missed you!

IMG_1991 IMG_1992

At the end of the day, Ara and I met with Nick for drinks at the Signature Lounge in the John Hancock tower! It was where we got engaged. Ara charmed everyone in the elevators and of course, I had to take a photo from the women’s lounge (the best view in Chicago).

City View

City View

IMG_2036

Chicagohenge!

Chicagohenge!

Day 4:

A visit to the old office where nothing has changed and yet everyone there seems new. (SLI people, you know the drill) Next, a visit to P.O.S.H., my favorite home store in Chicago where it seems as if you have just stepped into a Parisian flea market. Among my purchases: a darling nesting doll set for Ara, an engraved vintage silver soup spoon (I pick one up every time we visit), and a brass ring for me.

Vintage hotel silver from P.O.S.H.

Vintage hotel silver from P.O.S.H.

Later that evening, we had a great dinner at the Little Goat in the newly trendy West Loop area with our friends, Beth and John. It’s an offshoot from the Girl and the Goat but more kid-friendly and still chic if you can call a diner chic! It has only been six years since we’ve left Chicago, but their dining scene is constantly changing and constantly good. I do miss the food here!

Day 5:

The handsome lions at the Art Institute entrance

The handsome lions at the Art Institute entrance

Our last day here so we made it count. The Art Institute was the first place I had ever visited in Chicago and there was a Magritte exhibit currently onsite. A world-class museum with a world-class exhibit, I was not going to pass this up! We got up early and set out to get in line.

Of course, that was the perfect time for a diaper blow out. Sniff, sniff. Uh oh. We braved the ticket line with poopy pants (I was NOT going to give up our space), and hiked it to the family bathroom where I discovered to my horror that the spare outfit in the bag was nowhere to be found. It was gone. GONE. Luckily, we had stopped in Zara before the museum opened, and I had bought Ara leggings, one size bigger for fall. Nick’s mom also gave Ara a cute hoodie beforehand which I had in the bag in case it got cold. Boom. Lifesavers. We didn’t look at all coordinated but at least we were clean. After a good fifteen minutes of sweating and silently cursing my diaper bag negligence, we were finally ready to see the exhibit. Only to discover that the museum is not the most handicap friendly so we were racing to find elevators to fit the stroller. We reached the exhibit a half hour later, panting (me) and slightly traumatized from the experience and started to go through the dimly lit and hushed galleries. Ara then decided she had had it by then with the carseat and so I scooped her up, balancing her on one arm while pushing the stroller with the other, and raced through the exhibit before she really started to wail. Ok, I forgot how quiet museums were. Or at least, the special exhibits- probably because people are intent on really experiencing the art that is in their midst so temporarily. Let me just say, I barely remember anything we saw but can confidently say that Magritte was one surreal Surrealist and museum experiences are not quite the same. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: traveling with an infant is a game changer. But we made it and are already looking forward to our next adventure! With spare outfits!

IMG_2096

We came...we sort of saw...

We came…we sort of saw…

 

 

“And We Danced…and had a really really really good time”

Photo by Bettina Hansen/Seattle Times

Photo by Bettina Hansen/Seattle Times

Nick and I were so lucky to get tickets through How About We for the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis concert last night, one of three sold-out shows in Seattle this week. I was hoping to get tickets a few months ago but prices through resellers were so high. When I spied them on How About We, I was thrilled! They have so many great date ideas for couples and this was perfect timing. Adult time is going to be precious before the baby comes and so this was the perfect excuse for a date night. We had so much fun! I don’t even think Nick was expecting to enjoy a rap concert as much as he did.

To say that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are having a big year is a gross understatement. As of this post, they were recently nominated for seven Grammy Awards, their song Same Love promoting gay marriage and equality has garnered worldwide attention and their music videos on You Tube have wracked up millions of views (465 million for Thrift Shop alone!)

I first heard their music during Thanksgiving 2012. Their album, The Heist, had just been released the month before. We were lazing around after the big holiday dinner at our friend’s house when someone mentioned their song, Same Love. We all piled on the couch to watch the moving music video , where we got teary, it was so beautifully done, and then laughed in hysterics soon after while watching this one. It takes a true talent to be able to convey both the meaningful and ridiculous in such unique ways.

A few days after, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis were featured on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts where they blew the roof off the tiny room, and I was officially hooked by their social message,  infectious energy and beats. It is still one of my favorite performance of theirs. Soon after, several singles from The Heist took off and the rest is history.

Originally from Seattle,  Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have a dedicated following of fans here that have been around long before they got famous. Both musicians love their city and feature it prominently in their videos. Last night, it seemed as if all of their local fans were out to support them. I couldn’t believe how diverse the audience was. Most of the fans were young but we saw children as little as 8 years old to people in their 60s and 70s. Everyone was having the best time.

photo 1

photo 5

 

photo 2

I’m no concert critic but we thought they were phenomenal live. And they still seemed very humble despite the incredible year they’ve had. At moments throughout the evening, you could tell they were taking it all in, coming back to their hometown flush with success after more than a decade of hard work. The crowd embraced them and my ears are still ringing this morning from the noise. Our baby girl was going crazy the whole night at her first hip-hop concert!

Their rendition of Same Love was as beautiful as I remember it on the radio, and everyone got to their feet with the always-rousing Can’t Hold Us (my favorite). To my delight, his encore was “And We Danced.” In those moments last night, we saw the best dance party happen at Key Arena.

photo 4

 

If you’re interested in reading more, here is a review of the concert from the Seattle Times today and a look back from 2011 that provides more of Macklemore’s (Ben Haggerty) backstory.

*This post was sponsored by HowAboutWe, a wonderful site I’d highly recommend if you’re looking for a creative and fun date idea! You can sign up for free and browse their dates in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle (and they’re expanding to new cities soon.) BONUS: Use this link to get $50 off your first date! Thank you so much, HowAboutWe!

 

Paint Nite

We hit the halfway point this week! I will not be inundating you with bump photos but since this is a big milestone and people have asked, here’s my bump at 20 weeks taken right before we left for the Sounders vs. LA Galaxy game. People think it’s small but you should see it after I eat a hot dog.

20 weeks

20 weeks

Ever since we received the news of this pregnancy, I’ve been making an effort to do things that will get me out of the house, since it sounds like free time will be pretty limited after the baby comes. In a previous post, I mentioned that I was an art history major in college. In class each day, we were taught how to analyze and examine art through composition and context and find meaning. But the weird and ironic thing is, despite my ability to view art with a critical eye, I can’t DO art. I am inspired by creative people for their ability to execute their vision and ideas and put themselves out there for the world to see, but confess that I find it very hard myself to be creative.  I have always been envious of the ones who can look and create something out of seemingly nothing.

My friend, Jen, mentioned a Paint Nite event she once attended with several girlfriends in San Francisco and how fun an evening it was. So when a Gilt City email popped up in my inbox a couple weeks ago with a local Paint Nite deal, it caught my eye. Paint Nite is hosted at bars around the country, and anyone can go, have a cocktail (or two, the more the better probably) and paint a piece under the guidance of a local artist. It’s meant to be a fun, informal environment where no one is analyzing or critiquing your work, and you are encouraged to be as creative or as by-the-book as you want to be. (Guess which kind of artist I am?)

photo 1

It was so fun! The event was held in the backroom at Von’s Spirits downtown at its new 1st Avenue location. There were tabletop easels and canvases set up around the room, with two paintbrushes and a paper plate filled with primary color paints  at each station to get us started. The teacher, Greg, showed us some basic techniques and guided the “class” through the step-by-step process on how to recreate his master painting- a landscape of a full moon over the Olympics.

photo 3

Painting in the sky, mountains, and water first

photo 2

To our surprise, it was easy enough, even though a couple of us had no painting experience. We started painting in the sky and the water, learning how to stipple and blend and dry brush to get the desired effects. When we began to fill in the foliage in the center of the painting, we were encouraged to improvise although my OCD ways didn’t allow me to go off the cuff too much from the teacher’s painting! There was a girl next to me who painted a more impressionistic view of the painting, using different paints, and her boyfriend painted a sandwich. To each his own.

Almost done...

Almost done…

Ta da!

Ta da! I know, don’t quite my day job right?

 

I highly recommend trying out a Paint Nite event in your area. It was neat to venture out of our comfort zones and try something different. Now that I am a tad more familiar with the process, I will hopefully be more comfortable coloring outside of the lines next time!

(Almost) Summertime

This is the time of year when I fall in love with our city all over again. We are having the most beautiful weather week, and even reached a record high of 82 degrees today (the last time it was that warm in May was in 1948!) It usually doesn’t get this warm this early. It’s widely known up here that summer doesn’t start until July 5th (the 4th of July is almost always cloudy/rainy) but every now and then, May pleasantly surprises us.

When the warm weather hits, without fail, Seattleites will come out of hibernation and will find any reason to stay outside and bask in the sun. The sunny days only last 3 months out of the year, can you blame us? (And who knew I’d spend so much time obsessing about the sun and good weather? I truly did take it for granted when we lived in California!)

This is the kind of stuff that gets me excited now

This is kind of a big deal.

Last Friday was the first warm weather day, and it was like a citywide holiday. Everyone left work early, including yours truly. I met up with some friends for happy hour on the patio at Maximilien’s in Pike Place Market. The area is not only for tourists! On Saturday, I met my friend Linda for the first picnic of the season at one of our favorite spots in the city: Gasworks Park.

Panorama

The park faces Lake Union and was built on the site of the old Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant. Every year, the city’s official Fourth of July celebration is here and the park is overrun with revelers.

Gasworks Park

Gasworks Park

2

My kid and me

My kid and me

Daisy fields

Daisy fields

#industrial playground

#industrial playground

8

Houseboats on Lake Union

Houseboats on Lake Union

Gasworks has the most incredible city and water views. Every time we go, I’m amazed at how beautiful Seattle can be on a sunny day. Saturday was also opening day for Seattle’s boating season, and we spent the lazy hours on the grass watching the boats, watching the fellow picnickers, and enjoying our first taste of summer. At one point, a band spontaneously showed up on a barge, running up the hill, playing music and dancing for us all before returning to the barge and setting off for their next location. Only in Seattle. Perfect day. I can’t wait for more.

Meatless Fridays

We’re in the middle of the season of Lent, which means, that as Catholics, Nick and I forgo meat on Fridays until Easter. Ever since I was a kid, I associated fish and chips with Lent, mainly because it’s an easy go-to for Friday night dinners. When we lived in Chicago, good fish and chips (this includes fresh tartar sauce) was hard to find and limited to Irish pubs. Imagine my elation when we returned to the West Coast and discovered Seattle Fish Company, a fish market that offered fresh fish and varied and affordable seafood less than a mile from our home.

Seattle Fish Company

Seattle Fish Company

When I want to try a new seafood recipe, like Thai crab salad, clam linguini, or cioppino, or if it’s summer and we simply want to find a salmon or halibut fillet to grill, I drive the small distance and peruse the counter to see what is in season and what the knowledgeable fish mongers recommend. (We also came here to find out what the fuss was about of the infamous Copper River Salmon, what everyone in the Pacific Northwest goes gaga over each May when they are in season. After tasting the buttery fish, we have to agree, it really is kind of fantastic and worth the hype.)

Inside

Inside

Goodies

Goodies

11

Assorted condiments

Assorted condiments

And wine!

And wine!

I mentioned fish and chips. Seattle Fish Company, formerly just a fish market, recently opened up a small restaurant grill in their retail space. You order your meal at the counter, just as if you were ordering a fish fillet or a pound of dungeness crab to go, and they bring the food to you. Ever since it opened last year, it has become a favorite local spot in West Seattle. Their menu offers fairly straightforward and simple dishes, such as fish and chips, chowders, grilled fish, and steamers, but everything is delicious. Tonight was a Lent Friday, and therefore a great excuse to go for a casual dinner at Seattle Fish. We ordered their cod fish and chips (they also offer halibut) and fish tacos and ate at the counter, perfect for sidewalk people-watching.

7

Counter

Counter

12

 

 

9

8
Just another typical Seattle evening!