Baby it’s cold outside….

Last night we came home to a really cold house! Only to discover that our furnace had stopped working during the day, at 5pm it was already in the 50’s. Thank goodness I got a queen size heated blanket on Christmas morning. Today Patrick’s figured out what part was bad and he completely replaced it – gas line and all! We officially have heat again thanks to his talents. More than anything it reminded me of how grateful I am to be able to keep our house warm. We are so lucky and often take for granted sleeping and showering in the comfort of a warm house.

Other exciting news today – it is finally snowing! It is beautiful, big, happy flakes to welcome in the New Year!

Snowy Bench

 

 

Christmas has come and gone…

What a sad moment, when you realize Christmas is over as fast as it came… I love Christmas, it is by far my favorite holiday of the year. I enjoy the entire season, everyone’s happiness, and all of the decorations. I have not blogged in forever it seems, so I will just share a few of my favorite things about Christmas 2012!

  • Real Tree – This year we opted to go to a tree farm and pick out our very own Christmas tree! What a cool experience, I felt like I was living back in the olden days. Even more fun was having the tree in our house, as it was the first time for either of us to have something other than an artificial one. We loved everything about it – the smell, the look, the feeling, everything! Cleaning up the needles wasn’t even as bad as we had hear about. It made the season better than before. We will do it again for sure!
  • Spoiling Terrance – There is nothing more fun than a child who believes with everything they have that Santa is the real deal! We took him to do so many fun things – an elf carousal ride, sit on Santa’s lap, decorating and hanging up his stocking, reading Christmas stories, and of course showering him with presents! Something so neat was his love for a snow globe, we decided we would get him one each year as something he can collect.
  • Outside Lights – I came home one Friday night to a completely decked out house. I was so excited to see the outside covered in lights! Our halls were officially decked!
  • Baking goodies – I finally mastered making some puffy chocolate chip cookies – which some of you may know – has always been a challenge for me. I also made some chocolate crinkles, oreo balls, lemon cookies, and will still be making chocolate pretzels!
  • Family – We were so lucky this year to be able to spend time with so many of our loved ones! Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were full of family, laughter, and love! We appreciate and love our families so much.
  • Decorating the Cemeteries – We picked a weekend and put live wreaths and flowers on the graves of our loved ones in Heaven. Of course this was partly sad, but at the same time, it was something special to do together and celebrate those we miss so much.
  • My Fiancé – Saving the best for last…Hands down I am the luckiest gal in the world. I don’t care how many presents I get spoiled with, what matters to me the most is being with someone I love so much. The best part of my Christmas was waking up and sharing that special morning with Patrick. Just being able to sit and drink coffee, open presents, joke, and get ready for the day together was amazing. He makes everything so much better, and I feel completely blessed. every. single. day.

I am already looking foward to the holiday season next year, but until then I will continue to relive this one! I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year!

Turkey Day Celebrations

It is no secret that I love the holiday season! As soon as it is over, I cannot wait for the next year to do it all over again. This year was a very special one as Patrick and I got to host Turkey day at our house with both families there. Everything was great and I think went more smoothly than I thought it would. We ended up preparing a dinner that was pretty darn tasty, we managed to keep the house clean through all of the prep, didn’t forget or run out of anything, and had a perfectly decorated table full of my Grandma’s china and silverware.

I was a little nervous to cook a turkey to say the least. I had never done it before, and my biggest fear was serving a turkey that had to be drown in gravy to eat. But, with advise and phone calls to friends and family I can say… I did it! I even remembered to take the innards out – which may I add – that is sick. I have an entirely new appreciation for those in my family who have cooked the turkey for years! And, even though brining was not the most fun or quick process, I think it make a huge difference. I can’t wait to cook one again! We had so much food that I think we will be eating left overs for a week or two.

It was such a great day spent with friends and family, and we ended t-day evening with a trip to Wal-Mart in search of a new TV. We didn’t end up getting one, they were already gone! But, we did score some other great deals!

Black Friday was a blast. We went around and got some nice things we had been needing/wanting and were able to complete a little Christmas shopping!

The only thing that would have made the holiday better would have been having all of our family there. I think people take for granted being able to celebrate with their entire family. Those of you who are lucky enough to have everyone should be so thankful for that. We truly missed our relitives who were out of town and couldn’t make it. And, of course our family in heaven. There is no amount of turkey or china that can replace being able to sit at the table with those you love. We thought about each of them all day!

Today, we are off, Clark Griswold style to cut down a family Christmas tree! Cant wait to share that story!

The Truth About Gluten

As many of you have noticed eating styles have changed once again! We have all been through the fads of Adkins and South Beach, Weight Watchers, Slim for Life, and The Paleio Diet. But, now, more than ever so many people are switching over to eating organic foods only and gluten free foods to be healthier! For some of us switching to Gluten free isn’t just a choice, but a must to improve our health, and eliminate the side effects of eating Wheat, Barley, and Rye.

Did you know that 1 in every 133 people is allergic to Gluten? That is a lot! That is why everyone should know the facts, know the outcomes, and know how to deal with it.

The Symptoms! Mild weakness, extreme fatigue, headaches, rashes, bone pain, aphthous stomatitis, chronic bathroom stops (put mildly), abdominal bloating, and progressive weight loss.  Not everyone has any or all of these and can still be intolerant of Gluten.

Why stop! If you do have gluten intolerance, it is critical to discontinue eating it. Why you may ask? Because if a person with the disorder continues to eat and drink items containing these ingredients they will increase their chances of gastrointestinal cancer by 40 – 100 times. There are other serious health effects that can happen, aside from just plain not feeling good!

Today eating G-Free (as I like to call it ) is much easier  than even five years ago. There are so many more resources. There are some great brands out there that make many of our favorite foods that naturally contain the G, but they make them with ingredients that make them safe to eat. Several restaurants have G-free menus, or online resources that tell you what you can eat. Never be afraid to ask me! There are even a couple of Apps you can download on your smart phone that tell you what places have G-free options. My favorite App is called ‘Find Me Gluten Free.’ I love this one because you can search near you or by category.  Finally, look up recipes online – there are so many great things out there that are naturally G-free! If you want any suggestions, feel free to ask!

Even if you don’t have an allergy to Gluten I highly recommend anyone to try eliminating as much Gluten from your diet as possible. It really isn’t great for you. Much of the research I have done comes down to be being an ingredient in a lot of foods that we shouldn’t really be eating anyway.

Below I have listed the ingredients you cannot have because they contain Gluten:

Anything listed as Wheat, Rye, or Barley

Abyssinian Hard / Wheat triticum durum)
Amp-Isostearoyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Atta Flour
Barley Grass
Barley Hordeum vulgare
Barley Malt
Beer (unless they are Ciders)
Bleached Flour
Bran
Bread Flour
Brewer’s Yeast
Brown Flour
Bulgur Nuts
Bulgur Wheat
Cereal Binding
Chilton
Club Wheat (Triticum aestivum subspecies compactum)
Common Wheat (Triticum aestivum)
Cookie Crumbs
Cookie Dough
Cookie Dough Pieces
Couscous
Criped Rice
Dinkle (Spelt)
Disodium Wheatgermamido Peg-2 Sulfosuccinate
Durum wheat (Triticum durum)
Edible Coatings
Edible Films
Edible Starch
Einkorn (Triticum monococcum)
Emmer (Triticum dicoccon)
Enriched Bleached Flour
Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour
Enriched Flour
Farina
Farina Graham
Farro
Filler
Flour (normally this is wheat)
Fu (dried wheat gluten)
Germ
Graham Flour
Granary Flour
Groats (barley, wheat)
Hard Wheat
Heeng
Hing
Hordeum Vulgare Extract
Hydrolyzed Wheat Gluten
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein Pg-Propyl Silanetriol
Hydrolyzed Wheat Starch
Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Kamut (Pasta wheat)
Kecap Manis (Soy Sauce)
Ketjap Manis (Soy Sauce)
Kluski Pasta
Maida (Indian wheat flour)
Malt
Malted Barley Flour
Malted Milk
Malt Extract
Malt Syrup
Malt Flavoring
Malt Vinegar
Macha Wheat (Triticum aestivum)
Matza
Matzah
Matzo
Matzo Semolina
Meringue
Meripro 711
Mir
Nishasta
Oriental Wheat (Triticum turanicum)
Orzo Pasta
Pasta
Pearl Barley
Persian Wheat (Triticum carthlicum)
Perungayam
Poulard Wheat (Triticum turgidum)
Polish Wheat (Triticum polonicum)
Rice Malt (if barley or Koji are used)
Roux
Rusk
Rye
Seitan
Semolina
Semolina Triticum
Shot Wheat (Triticum aestivum)
Small Spelt
Spirits (Specific Types)
Spelt (Triticum spelta)
Sprouted Wheat or Barley
Stearyldimoniumhydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Strong Flour
Suet in Packets
Tabbouleh
Tabouli
Teriyaki Sauce
Timopheevi Wheat (Triticum timopheevii)
Triticale X triticosecale
Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Flour Lipids
Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract
Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil
Udon (wheat noodles)
Unbleached Flour
Vavilovi Wheat (Triticum aestivum)
Vital Wheat Gluten
Wheat, Abyssinian Hard triticum durum
Wheat Amino Acids
Wheat Bran Extract
Wheat, Bulgur
Wheat Durum Triticum
Wheat Germ Extract
Wheat Germ Glycerides
Wheat Germ Oil
Wheat Germamidopropyldimonium Hydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Wheat Grass (can contain seeds)
Wheat Nuts
Wheat Protein
Wheat Triticum aestivum
Wheat Triticum Monococcum
Wheat (Triticum Vulgare) Bran Extract
Whole-Meal Flour
Wild Einkorn (Triticum boeotictim)
Wild Emmer (Triticum dicoccoides)

The following items may or may not contain gluten depending on where and how they are made, and it is sometimes necessary to check with the manufacturer to find out:

Artificial Color
Baking Powder
Caramel Color
Caramel Flavoring
Clarifying Agents
Coloring
Dextrins
Dextrimaltose
Dry Roasted Nuts
Emulsifiers
enzymes
Fat Replacer
Flavoring
Food Starch
Food Starch Modified
Glucose Syrup
Gravy Cubes
Ground Spices
HPP
HVP
Hydrolyzed Plant Protein
Hydrolyzed Protein
Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate
Hydroxypropylated Starch
Maltose
Miso
Mixed Tocopherols
Modified Food Starch
Modified Starch
Natural Flavoring
Natural Flavors
Natural Juices
Non-dairy Creamer
Pregelatinized Starch
Protein Hydrolysates
Seafood Analogs
Seasonings
Sirimi
Smoke Flavoring
Soba Noodles
Soy Sauce
Soy Sauce Solids
Sphingolipids
Stabilizers
Starch
Stock Cubes
Suet
Tocopherols
Vegetable Broth
Vegetable Gum
Vegetable Protein
Vegetable Starch
Vitamins
Wheat Starch

I know this is a lot! Trust me, I have been eating G-free for a couple of months and there are still times I mess things up. Some of the most common foods that contain Gluten are: breads, muffins, bagels, oatmeal, cereals, most processed foods like poptarts, cookies, cakes, anything with a coating or breading, pies. Also, soups, dressings, sauces, pastas, crackers, croutons, some chips, spices and seasonings, and much much more!

I find it easier to have a list of foods that are safe to eat as opposed to what you cannot have! Until I get one of those put together just know that most of the following are going to be safe, unless they have had something added to them! Fruits, veggies, fresh meats, rice, cheese, eggs, and wine! Some of the best things in life right!

I can’t wait to share more of my findings, but for now, this should get some of you started!

Happy G-free Life!

Our Perfect Proposal

Yes, we are engaged! Yes, we are thrilled! Yes, it was the best day of my life! Ahhhh! There, I am better now.

I’d like to start by saying that I have the most amazing and thoughtful boyfriend, oh wait – fiancé! – ever. I honestly feel like the luckiest girl in the world to be able to spend the rest of my life with someone who I love, adore, respect, and enjoy so much. I believe it is rare to find someone who is the perfect partner for you, somehow in life; I was blessed beyond words to find him. To say the least I was completely overwhelmed with joy and love, and I have this new happiness now that I don’t know how to describe. It’s incredible and I don’t really have words to explain.

Let me just tell you how this stinker proposed, ladies – prepare to be jealous, it was absolutely perfect.  As a small prologue – the whole reason why we went to Chicago in the first place was because for Patrick’s birthday I got us tickets to go to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field (one of his bucket list items), so we decided to make an entire vacation out of it. For a couple weeks prior to us leaving he had been telling me that he had a surprise planned for Friday, something we would do together that involved a parachute and ropes. All of his clues and thoughts lead me to believe we were going skydiving. Which number one, this is not something you surprise someone with! And number two, it is not something I would ever really want to do anyway. Then, he alternated his story and said we might be parasailing instead, which I would be excited to do, but it was a little cold and I didn’t plan on packing a wet suit! We were supposed to do his surprise event on Friday, but the weather was so terribly rainy that it got postponed until Sunday.

Sunday came and the entire day was amazing, we got up and went to a really nice breakfast (my favorite meal), then we spent the majority of the day at Navy Pier. We got to walk up and down and sight see, there were boats and activities going on everywhere. The art work and park on the way there were beautiful and it was just nice to be walking around together enjoying the day. We ate lunch at a really nice little spot on the Pier called City Patio. The food was delicious and we sat outside and watched the boats go by. It was only a couple of hours before our surprise adventure and I started to ask a lot of questions. After playing along for a little while, he finally ended my suspense and surprised me that we were actually going on a sailboat! Sailing has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. Patrick said since we were doing something on his bucket list, he wanted to do something that was on mine too. (Little did I know, I was dressed in the perfect attire I was actually wearing a scarf with sailboats on it!) I was so excited not only because this was something I have always wanted to do, but I was so touched that he would plan something that he knew I would love so much. I teared up a little at lunch, of course… but I couldn’t help myself… I was so excited! We grabbed a bottle of wine and some beer and headed to the sailing dock, we had a really nice Capitan named Kirk who had been sailing for about 30 years. Patrick got to sail and drive the boat while Kirk was getting everything ready to go.

The view of the city from the water was breathtaking; I was in awe of how peaceful the city looked from Lake Michigan. The color of the water was so pretty, I had such a hard time believing we were on a lake and not out in the middle of the ocean. There were huge puffy white clouds covering the bright blue sky, which I like to refer to as ‘happy clouds.’  For those of you who have not sailed, there is something about it that is so silent and surreal. You are in the middle of nowhere and the boat makes no noise and the sails move you all around. It was so awesome, and waiting 27 years was for sure worth the wait. Our ride was from 5 – 8pm so it was an evening ride. Now that sunset is around 7 at night it was the perfect time. The sky line had the purest colors of pink, blue, and purple on one side, and yellow, orange, and green on the other. Every building was perfectly outlined and the city looked as still as a postcard. As the sunset started getting closer we went to the front of the boat and were sitting and enjoying the view. As the sun was setting, Patrick mentioned that it looked so awesome that he wanted the Captain to take our picture. So he went to the back of the boat and gave him his phone. Then, he came back he told me to stand up so he could take the picture. As soon as I stood up, he dropped to one knee (well I thought he was falling off the boat), and told me that he loved me (I can’t remember anything else that came out of his mouth) and as he asked me if I would marry him as he pulled the ring out of his pocket. I was literally in shock and having a hard time processing everything that was happening. I was so overwhelmed and surprised that all I could say was “Of Course!” (which I may have said before he even asked the question J ) and then I fell to the ground. I remember him telling me not to fall off the boat, but I just couldn’t control myself. I was so surprised and happy. Once I regained composure I made sure I had said yes and then I cried again. Trust me here; they were complete tears of joy. I was so content and so thankful that a moment I had waited for my entire life had just come true.

We were in the middle of Lake Michigan surrounded by the buildings and skyline of the city at sunset, I had the most beautiful ring on my finger that Patrick picked out all by himself, and we were able to sit together and celebrate in the moment. I asked a million questions and expressed how happy I was. In my head I still could not believe everything that was happening. It was a moment I wish could have lasted forever; I tried to take everything in as much as I could so I would never forget the details. Once the ride was over I was on cloud nine, we walked back to the hotel where we called our family and told them our exciting news. All of them already knew and were awaiting our phone call, but talking to each of them and hearing how excited and supportive they were of us was so special. I felt like my family was proud, proud of me, proud of the man I had found, and proud that we are going to be together forever.

We got re-ready pretty fast as we had dinner reservations we couldn’t miss – RPM Italian. We celebrated with great food and a bottle of wine. It was a dinner I will never forget; and not just because it is a place I wanted to go. But, it was so special to be together and celebrating the biggest moment in our life so far. Everything was delicious and perfect. I am serious when I say I wish this day and night didn’t have to end.

Every girl dreams of a proposal that will knock them off their feet. Something they can be proud of and tell everyone about: something that describes the couple, their relationship, and their story. I love our story, I love how everything happened, and I have no idea how he knew (because I never told anyone before) that I always thought it would be so cool to get engaged on a boat. Mostly because I grew up on the lake as a kid and I just thought it would be so romantic and special. It was every part of that and then some; I am still so surprised that I never figured anything out. I was truly shocked and it took a while for everything to sink in. Everything about that day was perfect. But the best part is knowing that I have someone who is so remarkably incredible to share my life with. I would not trade it for anything in the world. We have traveled a long path to get to where we are, and I cannot wait to continue our journey. We are truly blessed to have the love with one another that many people dream of.

Here are some pictures from the day…

 

 

Chicago – Days 4 and 5

I am a little behind on blogging for the final two days of our vacation to Chicago! I guess you could say I have been a little pre-occupied! But, the last two days were by far the best days of our trip! The weather was finally gorgeous and we were able to spend time outside pretty much all day.

Day four was my absolute favorite day of the trip! As you all know how it ended (and I will blog separately about that) it was just an all-around beautiful day full of Chicago fun. We started the morning going to Eggsperience Café downtown – and it was fabulous! I had an omelet that had at least 12 eggs in it, and Patrick had the best looking eggs benedict that I have ever seen. After breakfast we went to Navy Pier for pretty much the entire day. We were able to walk up and down the pier – which was packed, check out spectacular views of Lake Michigan – which is almost a turquoise colored ocean, watch sailboats and ships float in the wind, and smell all of the Chicago food! The only thing I wasn’t able to accomplish was getting Patrick to ride the extremely tall Ferris wheel! We stopped to have lunch at The Patio – divine, I must say. Have you noticed a theme here – we ate the entire time! We sat outside on their patio and enjoyed a light lunch and some drinks as we watch the crowds walk by. Chicago is such a busy town, so it was nice to just sit and relax and have a calming day. During lunch I found out what I thought would be the best news I would get that day (Patrick had been teasing me for weeks that we were either going skydiving – no thank you, or parasailing – which I could handle. When I started asking tons of questions he finally told me that we were going SAILING! For those of you who don’t know sailing has always been a dream of mine! I was so excited I teared up a little – it was such a thoughtful gesture and something I have waited my entire life to do.  We went and got a bottle of wine and some beer and headed to the sail boat! The sailboat was amazing to say the least – it is the most calming and relaxing thing you will ever do. Being on Lake Michigan is the best part of Chicago by far. You are able to look onto a city that is packed with chaos and noise and it just stands still, postcard perfection. The sail boat was a three-hour trip from 5 – 8, which means we got to be on the lake for sunset. Of course the ending was amazing; I will save the details for my next blog! After the ride we went to RPM Italian – the restaurant I was most excited for! For those of you who don’t know I love Giulliana and Bill Rancic – they just opened up this restaurant a few months ago, and they were the first reservations we made for our trip. It was some of the best Italian food I ever tasted! We got a bottle of wine, a delicious bruschetta appetizer, lobster ravioli and spaghetti and meatballs, and two – that’s right – two desserts – cannoli’s and figs! It is a really modern restaurant, every detail was perfect! A great last dinner to end our trip, and I even got a re-tweet from Guilliana telling us Congrats on our Engagement! J

Day five was great, even though we had to leave. We got up early and packed our bags and headed off to eat. So many people had told us that eating at Portillo’s was a must! Wow, were they right! You walk into a building and it looks like a giant food court with endless options. There are so many choices from hot dogs and sausage to pasta, BBQ, pizza, and Italian beefs. We both got jumbo hot dogs and sausage dogs – so good! It was a fun place, quick, cheap, and the food is good. After that we took the L (much easier this go around) to see the Buckingham Fountain and The Bean. Both must see pieces of art when you are in Chicago! The fountain we would have liked to see at night while it was lit up, but we just had so much going on that during the day was the only time we could get there. I can’t even begin to describe how big it is. People gather around, it is just breathtaking – another very relaxing and calming feature of busy Chicago! After seeing our last bits of tourist hot spots we got our bags and headed towards the train to go to the airport. Trading trains with luggage should be illegal – thank God Patrick is the master at carrying bags – I have no idea how he carried two 50 pound bags and his carry-on up and down the stairs and off an off the subway – but it another reason why I love him. Ready for the chaos to begin – we literally were 30 seconds away from missing our flight. Apparently at O’Hare Airport you have to arrive a minimum of two hours before your flight leaves in order to board your plane. We went to the wrong place a couple of different times and got denied when we tried to do the self-check in because it was only 1 hour prior to our flight. We had to go to the counter to get an exception to get on our flight, where we were greeted by another ultra-friendly Chicago lady – “And why were you late for your flight today?” Lucky for her we needed to board the plane or else we would have to wait on standby until the next day, so we refrained from making any rude comments back. We had to speed through security where another rude worker was cussing and yelling about people going the wrong way.  As soon as I saw our gate and no one left in the seats I knew it was time to pull out the Home Alone moves. I started running when they were making the final call for Patrick and I to board over the intercom. Thank God we made our flight – I am sorry to the three people at the counter on standby who thought they would finally get to leave Chicago. Our bags, not so lucky, they had to wait and come on the later flight. But, we made it home safely! My Dad and Laura picked us up and we went out to dinner and then back to the Airport to get our bags!

Our trip came to an end quickly. It was such a great time, a little crazy at moments, but it had a very very happy ending and something we will remember forever.  One thing is for sure, we were happy to be home to the smiling KC faces! If anyone is going to Chicago anytime soon, let us know we can for sure make some great recommendations!

The Windy City. Day 3

Yesterday defined the slogan of ‘Windy City’ that is for sure. I have noticed a theme about Chicago – Starbucks. We have started out every day with a green and white cup in hand. I attempted to use the coffee maker in our room yesterday, but something went majorly wrong. I had my cup ready to go with creamer and I brewed coffee, which typically for me I could do with my eyes closed. Well, when I went to add the brewed coffee to my cup it all came out watery – not even a tea tint to it. I opened up the top and the coffee pouch was floating above water. I gave up, gave in, and just went and got in line at the bucks. Coffee maker 1 : Heather 0.

We had to catch the train/subway/The L – whatever you want to call it to get to Wrigley in time for the Cubs/Cardinals game that got moved to Noon. Getting a card loaded with money to be able to get on the train was an interesting experience. Chaos to say the least, there were tons of St. Louis fans trying to make it to the game as well. So when you put about 300 people underground at a ticket kiosk for a train that they don’t understand how to use, it doesn’t turn out so well. People were running all around trying to find the fastest line, people yelling, mass confusion – I don’t know how the movies makes this look so easy. We finally got our ticket and then had to go through the spinning bars like you do at Worlds of Fun. More chaos, prepare yourself. No one could get the ticket booth machine to take their ticket properly; everyone was slamming into the bars that wouldn’t let them trough. Finally, Patrick to the rescue, we got them working and were able to go stand in line to get on the train. I was so excited, it got windy and loud and the train was coming, as it stopped and the doors opened it had to already be over maximum capacity. People were on top of each other, the doors were closing and everyone was shoving in as quickly as possible. We rode this way all the way to Wrigley – a good thirty minutes probably. At this point it was fair to say – The L: 1 : Everyone using the train: 0.

Arriving in Wrigley was a surreal experience – everything you think baseball would be in a town that appreciates the sport it was. There were venders everywhere with apparel, live bands playing, ticket scalpers screaming, people snapping pictures as quickly as they could, and everyone decked out in team gear. The stadium is huge from the outside, and it is in the center of a small city (or suburb, whatever they call it here) everything surrounding it was baseball related. We got some Cubs gear and headed in. Our seats were great; we were 5 rows up from the dugout on the first base side. There was no jumbotron, hotdog races, smile and kiss cam, or 2 million dollar party deck. It was a classic stadium, not technology updated, and filled with people who truly enjoy the sport of baseball for what it is. The field was beautiful; it is definitely a location for the people of Chicago to be proud of.  The food was great, the weather was freezing, but the feel of being in Wrigley Field was awesome.

After the game we went to a bar called Beer Clark, there was a piano player who doubled as a DJ, and traveling band. When we first got there it was low key and we were able to sit and watch the KU football game, listen to music, enjoy some drinks, and people watch. They had interesting food including chicken tenders that were breaded in Captain Crunch cereal. It got a little wild as many of the locals came in. After witnessing people crashing into our table, holding a bottle of bear above their head and tilting their head back to catch as much as they could in their mouth, we decided to leave. Wrigley is a cool town and has a lot of history, but people in Chicago are not as friendly as they are in Kansas, nor are they aware of their surroundings and being respectful to other people.

We came back and took a nap and didn’t go to eat dinner until about ten or eleven at night. We went to Pizzeria Due since it was basically down the street and we were starving. The actual building is pretty cool, very old and classic look as you would expect in Chicago. Patrick had some more deep dish pizza and I got a famous Italian beef. This was one place we were not much impressed with. The food I would rate a five out of ten, I don’t know what the big uproar is about Italian Beefs, but they didn’t have any flavor and it was tons of meat. The building I would rate a seven out of ten and the crowd surrounding our table I would rate a two out of then. Another theme I have realized about Chicago is the residents are not as welcoming as home sweet home, Kansas. Dorothy had it right when she said… there is no place like home. Day four to come… can’t wait.

Chi – Town. Day 2

Another great day in the city of Chicago! Yesterday we felt like true residents of the city as we spent the majority of the day holding an umbrella and bundled up in jackets. The morning started off nice; a little chilly, but dry. We walked around the city a bit and made our way down to the Riverwalk, which was gorgeous. One side is a long path that stretches all the way to Navy Pier and the other side is lined with flowers, benches, restaurants, and shops. In the middle stretched the river all the way through and it was so pretty, I am not sure what they do to it but it is a really pretty turquoise color. I am not sure what the boats are called that haul a bunch of people up and down but we got to see those pass through as well. This would be a great place to hang out in the summer; I think more things might be open then.  As a place to go I would say it was an eight out of ten.

By this time we were starving – the Starbucks coffee and yogurt had worn off after the amount of walking we did – what better place to eat and feel like you live in Chicago – underneath Michigan Avenue! We went to a place called ‘Billy Goat Tavern,’ it was the original one, which is basically down in a basement. The location is famous for being on Saturday Night Live in the 50’s. We walked down stars and were standing at the counter, before we could even read the yellowed menu signs the lady working behind the counter basically ordered for us: “Double cheeseburger is the best.” And, with those words we just said that was fine. It is similar to an Oklahoma Joes set up where your food is ready by the time you pay. You put on your garnishes and then find a table. In the hast of people I managed to get ketchup all over my white long sleeve…thank goodness I didn’t knock all of the bottles of condiments over.  It was such a cool place, full of locals who were on their lunch break I am assuming. There was an old wooden bar that was wrapped around one side, and men cooking who looked like the opened the place years ago. The burger was really good. The original Billy Goat would get a seven out of ten for food, and a ten out of ten for atmosphere.

After we left it was past sprinkling and was raining pretty good. We stopped and bought an umbrella and no joke – this was the first time I had carried and used an umbrella in several years. I think I forgot that when you carry an umbrella you cannot fit into the same places you can without it. It was an interesting experience. We spent the rest of the day shopping up and down Michigan Avenue and enjoying all of the buildings and people watching.

Again, we were starving! We headed to Giordano’s for some famous deep dish pizza. Incredible. I don’t really know what else to say. The wait was completely worth it. We were able to pre order our pizza while we had a couple of drinks at the old bar and waited for our table. We had salads and ordered a deep dish Italian sausage and pepperoni. First, thank God we ordered a small. Second, we were amazed and I think we could eat it every day. You know pizza is good when you don’t even have to put ranch on it! It was the best pizza we had ever eaten. The perfect amount of bread, sauce, toppings, and cheese. They have nailed it. It would score a ten out of ten in every area.

Still raining, we grabbed some more coffee and took our leftovers back to the hotel. One of our friends lives in Chicago so we joined him at Pippin’s Tavern to hang out and have drinks. Another completely local place I am pretty sure. It had an old dark wooden round bar – similar to the set up on Cheer’s. The drinks, music, and company were great. We had a lot of fun, and we can definitely see why it is a city favorite.

All in all, the day was great! We really lived the Chicago resident life yesterday between the rain and hanging out at local dives. Overall successful day! Can’t wait to see what the rest will bring!

Chicago! Day 1

We just finished a crossword and are sitting here sipping Starbucks from a comfy hotel bed, life doesn’t get much better! What a fabulous day we had yesterday! We arrived in Chi -Town around 2:30 and it took forever to get our bags, so rather than trying to deal with The L we opted for a cap to get us downtown. Who knew traffic could be so heavy at 3 in the afternoon; regardless we made it and are so excited to see what the city has to offer!

After we checked into the hotel we decided to grab some food. At this point we were starving! Luckily, being in the heart of downtown there is amazing food surrounding us. We went to Gino’s East (which came highly recommended from many of you) it is literally .02 miles from our hotel. Who knew that a deep dish pizza could take over an hour to cook? We were so hungry we decided to go with the thin crust pizzas. To my surprise, they had Gluten Free crust! I was so excited, it was decent, but we are in Chicago and next time I am going for the real deal. We both got Italian sausage, as I had heard that was what they were famous for. The taste was pretty good, but I have a feeling there is better pizza out there. We also had salad and bread sticks, which were great! The best part of Gino’s was the atmosphere. I love a place where you can write on the walls, floors, tables, chairs – anything that makes a place look like it has some history! The music they were playing took me back to middle school and that was awesome – who doesn’t love a little Spice Girls to improve their day? I would rate the atmosphere an eight out of ten, and the food a six out of ten.

After eating we came back to the hotel and got ready to go to The Second City Comedy show – another highly recommended event.  http://www.secondcity.com/ We saw “We’re All in this Room Together” it was hilarious to say the least. They did a three part show which lasted close to three hours. Where can you go for three hours of entertainment for $23 a ticket? The actors were awesome and the show was about modern day technology and social media. They did hilarious skits about everything from going to your high school reunion and comparing how people act compared to their facebook profile, to coming out to your parents and then gay marriage – and no joke they pulled a guy out of the audience to be the second groom, and even news reporting about serious world issues which were cut off for breaking news about things in life that don’t really matter (like Jersey tan mom and what the Kardashian’s are doing – you all know I loved that!) and more! The final set they did was complete improv which suggestions from the audience – so funny, the actors are truly talented, I have no idea how they do what they do. I would rate this nine out of ten – yes it was that good. I highly recommend this show to anyone who comes to Chicago!

Pictures of everything to come after the trip comes to an end. It is time to get ready for another great day in the windy city!

Gluten Free Lifestyle!

As some of you may know I have been contemplating the fact that I might be allergic to Gluten. So, for the last couple of weeks I have cut it out of my diet completely. It is amazing how much better I feel, I have more energy, and I have only gotten blinding headaches when I have eaten gluten by mistake! I will be updating my blog with tricks and recipes as I try them out! This is all so new to me, so it shall be a journey! We are going to Chicago towards the end of the month and that will be my last gluten eating fest! Once we are back I am going to schedule a blood test and find out if I am officially allergic or officially crazy. What’s your verdict?