Sunday, August 26, 2012

When it rains...

Wowza, life has gotten crazy all of a sudden! We had a fantastic trip to Colorado and South Dakota, and got back late last Monday. Then we went full force into a busy week, and Joe and I both managed to catch a pretty rough cold! Add into that working Tuesday to Saturday, Joe's 30th birthday on Thursday, getting my resume in order and beginning the process of applying for a new job at work... Yeah, it's been a bit crazy around here. I have fun pictures and stories to share from vacation and Joe's birthday, but they will just have to wait.

Sunday was all about catching up- cleaning, laundry, groceries- typical Sunday to dos. Finally now I can decompress, and mentally prepare for an even busier week coming up. This lovely fig and goat cheese dessert will help with that process. It's on a bed of basil, with balsamic vinegar drizzled on top, and is pretty much the perfect late summer treat. I hope your Sunday is ending on an equally blissful note!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cycling in the City

Yes, mom, I always wear a helmet!

More and more, we've been enjoying riding our bikes around where we live. Bikes are fun to ride, good for the environment, and build a workout right into your day. They're also quite easy to park, and can be faster than driving if traffic is an issue. The cooler weather this weekend was perfect for biking, and we took advantage by riding all over town!

Saturday night we met up with my friend Megan, who I will credit with being one of the first people to get me interested in biking. My first big ride was with her, going down to Green City Market and Navy Pier when we had a work event last summer. We were going to see a movie at the Music Box, and it only made sense for us to ride there! The ride was quick and light on car traffic, and I felt very safe will all three of us having lights on our bikes. It was so easy to ride there, and not having to deal with parking the car was a highlight for me! And in case you're curious, the French movie Unforgivable was really obnoxiously French and pretty stupid. But the company was lovely, so no complaints from me!

Then, on Sunday, we decided it was time to check out a gem of a bike and coffee shop that opened about six months ago in Lakeview. Heritage Bicycles and General Store is as charming as it sounds. It has a warm and stylish interior-- a bit of country feeling, nestled in on Lincoln Avenue. I'd heard great things from friends who had visited the shop, and also saw multiple stylish bloggers were hanging out there while visiting Chicago.

They build custom bikes from scratch, and the owner was working on one while we waited for our drinks. He was so friendly and welcoming, and showed us some of the finer points of crafting the bikes. The baristas were very friendly, too, and Joe's cold brewed iced coffee was almost as perfect as my drip down hot coffee. The space had a great communal table, plus a couple smaller ones in the windows. They have a huge patio outside, too, plus another feature that the city put in out front...

This is the only sorta crappy iphone shot I took, but Heritage Bicycles is lucky enough to have a parklet out front! It's a new concept in Chicago, apparently modeled after cities like San Fransisco. They basically take over a few parking spots (2 or 3, I'd guess), and make a charming little oasis in the busy city. This parklet had beautiful planters, and fun green tables for people to hang out at. We brought our coffee out to enjoy, but also saw people eating take out, reading books, and working on a laptop. It is not actually associated with Heritage, from what I could tell, but it just adds to the appeal of the place!

 We stopped at the perfect neighborhood bookstore on the way home, to grab a gift for a friend. Joe and I agreed that we had to head home and take care of the usual Sunday stuff, but would have loved to have spent a few more hours just playing around town on our new favorite mode of transportation. Anyone else feel me on the cycling love?

He's not so sure about me taking pictures over my
shoulder while stopped at a red light :)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

In the Right Place

Even after five years of living in Chicago, Joe and I still marvel about what a good choice it was to move here. We didn't fit in Kansas City at all. We wanted to wait a few years to have kids, we were interested in living in an urban setting, and we felt such a connection to this crazy city that we had visited during Spring Break of our senior year of college. We had a few really great friends in Kansas City, but not the sort of community we were really looking for. We feel so lucky to not only be living in Chicago, but to own a condo in Lincoln Square, the perfect neighborhood for the two of us.

Saturday I had to work until 4:00, but the second I got off work, I knew I needed to spend the rest of the afternoon outside. It was a perfect late summer day-- sunny and warm, but none of that oppressive heat we were feeling for the last few weeks. The was prime picnic weather, so we packed up our dinner and headed to the park!

A healthy and flavorful vegan dinner

Happy Camper

Contraband at the park!
Gumball Head, from 3 Floyds, if anyone's keeping score.

Dill Green Beans and Seitan from Super Natural Everyday

Using the iphone to add some tunes to this party

We were too late for the performance, but people were still lingering from
the afternoon's Shakespeare in the Park show. I want to go next time!
Dinner and beers in the park wasn't perfect enough, though. We added in some frisbee playing, and a little stroll up Lincoln Avenue on our way home.  The evening was perfect enough that I almost forgot that I'd worked all day. It's a great feeling, too, knowing we're in the right place.

Now let's just hope we get to join the stroller-pushing ranks soon, because that's the only thing missing from this equation. Lincoln Square is full of families with young children, and I can't wait to be one of those families!  What do you love the most about where you live?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tour de Fat: Celebrating Bicycle Culture

So there was one more festival recently, but I decided my last post was as long as is socially acceptable. So here's a post dedicated solely to a very enjoyable bike-centric festival: Tour De Fat. This festival, which happens every summer, is a touring celebration of bike culture coordinate by New Belgium Brewery. It starts with a kooky bike parade, and evolves into a festival celebrating bikes, beer, and building up our community.  Joe and I have been challenging each other to ride more and drive less, and this festival was a great way to get excited about all the benefits of biking around town. We saw so many friends at the event, and enjoyed volunteering with West Town Bikes to support the work they're doing in the community.

The bicycle parade!

We volunteered with West Town Bikes, serving beer to the thirsty masses.
I gotta admit, you feel pretty popular working at the beer booth!

Pretty amazing tamales from Tamale Spaceship.

There were all sorts of crazy bikes that people could try to ride. Very entertaining!

The little tires made people peddle super fast. It was hilarious to watch.

At the end of the day, they gave away a bike to a guy who was committing to
sell his car and rely on a bike for his transportation. It's admirable, but I'm not sure
I could handle the challenge of a car-free year!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Summer Highlights: Part 2 {The Festivals!}

I can't believe it's already August! This was the last weekend the city pools were open, and within a few weeks kids will be heading back to school. I'll be ready for fall when it arrives, but right now I'm trying to fiercely squeeze every last drop out of another memorable Chicago summer. We've been busy with lots of festivals this summer, and since I'm a lazy blogger and constantly get behind on my posting, I figured the best thing to do would be to combine them into one lovely little post!

Pitchfork Music Festival
A yearly summer tradition, where we drink, dance, eat, and check out new
and less known bands. Then we go to sleep, and do it all again the next day. 

My favorites this weekend included
Japandroids, Dirty Projectors,
Hot Chip, and Sleigh Bells.
I think Hot Chip was my #1-- so much dancing!

I wanted to like Feist, but her set was the most boring part of the day.
Good music for hanging out around the house... not for rocking out!

The gang at the end of a hot, steamy day of music.

We grabbed a Groupon for the Bike to the Beach Bash, which featured Ra Ra Riot. Joe and I rode to the beach and took advantage of the bike valet. It was actually pretty freezing at the beach that night, but it was a good show regardless of the chilly temps!

Ra Ra Riot at Montrose Beach!

Relaxing at the Milwaukee Avenue Art Festival,
one of many neighborhood festivals we visited this summer.

And the grand finale... Lollapalooza! I've wanted to try out this festival for years, but the pricey tickets prevented us from going in past years. This year, we're less broke, and Joe and I agreed we'd finally spring for tickets. But we're not quite savvy enough to pull that off, because tickets sold out before we had a chance to buy any! Luckily for me, Whole Foods has a couple food tents in the backstage area, and I got the opportunity to work one of those shifts. It was so so so much fun! I worked for four hours, passed out tasty food to people in the "Artists Lounge", and was off by 2:30 and ready to enjoy the rest of the day. Not a bad deal, for sure!

The Crew wristband had it's perks...
 like access to the backstage area, with free food & drinks!

Lyndsey and I enjoying some sun and the sound of The Head and The Heart.

Grant Park is an amazing setting for a festival like this.
I loved seeing the city light up around us. 

The Black Keys topped off a fantastic day of festival going.
They were seriously rocking!

Any other bands or festivals I should be checking out? I'm always looking for new music to discover!