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Two months later and I’m finally getting around to our New York trip! Here are the highlights from our trip.

 Our biggest highlight was definitely the picnic my friend Christine organized for us in Central Park to meet her awesome NYU friends. We spent four hours with a wonderful hodge podge of picnic food, we flew kites, threw the football and frisbee around and frolicked through the park (naturally).

Our foodie adventures will have to be shared in a separate post, but I couldn’t resist including this awesome restaurant Christine made reservations to called Beauty & Essex. It was a speak easy (apparently common in New York) so there was a pawn shop store front and a stunningly chic restaurant behind outfitted with gorgeous ornate chandeliers, champagne in the restroom (there’s nothing like relieving yourself and then taking a sip of bubbly) and a room full of open frames and vintagejewelry (pictured above).

 Forever 21 in Times Square. Had to take a photo of the shoe section because I know too many of you, like me, wish your local Forever 21 had a shoe department like this!

 Here we are after watching our first Broadway play, Mamma Mia!

  Waiting an hour and a half at the MET for the Alexander McQueen exhibit Savage Beauty. My feet were KILLING me but it was completely worth the wait. The exhibit was mind blowing and I loved watching Jon experience fashion as a artistic medium for the first time. Christine, Jon and I walked away inspired to say the least. I would highly recommend visiting McQueen’s exhibit.

 Yay! Catching up with the couple who discipled us throughout college and their little Jacob! They work for Campus Crusade and happened to be working in NYC for the summer.  Jon’s a happy boy visiting the Brooklyn Brewery.

 Love me some Ace Hotel decor!

 Lunch in China Town!

Introducing the  Chelsea Market. Exposed brick, vintage details, industrial touches and wood all mixed together in beautiful harmony? I could definitely live here.

 

The High Line! An old railroad line that’s been converted into a park. The Chelsea Market combined with the High Line make one of my favorite parts of the city, hands down. Jon and I loved the area so much we grabbed some pizza for a date and came to sit in the above photo where we could watch the traffic go by. Love.

Also on my list of most cherished moments was the pop up markets that would set up shop on the weekends in various parts of the city. It was so much fun perusing through the shops and purchasing a few pashminas as gifts for some of my friends.

More catching up! I was fortunate enough to have two friends from high school meet up with us after not seeing each other for over 8 years! Jordan, in the plaid, now works for Bette Midler (crazy right?) and Carter is a bonafied actor! So fun to reconnect after all these years.

 Nuzzling with some tolix chars at NYU. One of Christine’s many fortes is makeup. Here’s her locker at school.

 Outdoor movie at Bryant Park. It was a little too chaotic for us so we decided to grab some street food for our final evening in New York and

take one last group shot in Times Square.

A huge thanks goes to my friend Christine  (check out her portfolio site here and make up site here) who not only housed us in her Manhattan apartment, but showed us one heck of a time! We’re still recovering from the food coma we experienced there…

{I’ve been waiting since May to share this lovely illustration!}

Alright sweet friends, the summer is coming to a close and we’ve got one last trip to finish it off right. The title of the post is a true description of what’s to come as we attempt to fit 11 people in my good friend’s San Fran duplex. That and Jon mentioned I couldn’t write a SF post without mentioning our generation’s favorite TGIF show (shout out to the Olsen twins).

We’re making the trip with our college friends and we already have a Google document with everything we have scheduled from a tour of Alcatraz to a Giants game to Tartine and much more (praying my feet will survive this last trip). The doc is shared with the entire group so everyone can contribute, but that means events such as “10am Luis and Jon – Hot Yoga” will also be added to the master schedule (this is a joke if you were unsure)!

More than anything I’m looking forward to escaping this record breaking heat wave! But what’s insane is that SF is literally 40 degrees lower than Dallas. I’ll definitely be packing warmly! For the last time this season, please share with me your favorite SF hot spots!

{San Fran illustration by Marisa Midori via Where the Lovely Things Are}

I’m going to make this short and sweet and let the photos speak for themselves! While in Los Angeles, I had the incredible opportunity to attend Oh, Hello Friend’s and Cakies‘ first We Like It Pretty collaborative workshop with Jenn from I Art U. It was a photography workshop perfectly entitled, Snap It Pretty, and boy did we! The day was perfect (an outdoor event in TX is totally not a reality in July) and the decor and details were honestly as amazing as they appear. Danni and Ruby really outdid themselves this time, and it was so neat to meet them in person as well as some new friends and fellow bloggers.

I would highly, highly recommend signing up for a future We Like It Pretty workshop so whether you’re local or eager to enjoy the LA weather, I suggest you make it out to the next one!

On a final note, I could hardly resist myself when I saw Ruby’s girls were present! Having seen their photos online, I couldn’t help but want to snuggle them once I met them (I promise, I’m not a creepers. Just love kids!). Ruby’s sister, RJ, was equally snuggable, but since she’s 19 I simply gave her a hug. Thanks for letting me play with your darling girls Ruby!

This photo above pretty much summarizes what’s currently on my brain: 1) Trying to figure out how to create a personal eclectic space in our new home and 2)Los Angeles. We came back from New York on Tuesday, packed and moved to our new place and now I’m off to LA. Our summers are always crazy, but I have to confess I kinda….sort of….like it. It’s a five-day trip that I’m going to be doing on my own (Jon has work!) and I think it will be a good time with valuable lessons in independence and spontaneity. Of course I’ll be staying with my super cool brother and sis-in-law and eating at their bomb dot com restaurant, Starry Kitchen. And I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to escaping the Texas sun in exchange for the LA breeze.

What’s your fave LA hot spot?

With so many talented artists out there, I couldn’t leave this post without sharing a cool illustration of LA!

{photo from Green Is The New Black // illustration by Albie Designs}

One of my good friends recently graduated from NYU so we thought it was about time to take our first “real” trip to New York City to  celebrate her accomplishment and explore the city. Fortunately for us, we’ll be there for longer than 24 hours. I can’t wait to visit the MET, enjoy treats at the Pop Bar and Shake Shack, have a picnic with Christine, Jon and her friends at  Central Park and hopefully meet up with some old and new friends alike!

Like before, if you have a great suggestion, a favorite hang out, or restaurant you’ve been dying to try in NYC, I’d love to hear it! Your suggestions completely made our Chicago trip and I can’t wait to hear what you love most in The Big Apple! Thanks friends!

{awesome illustration by Fernado Volken Togni}

Giordano’s
Price: $ – $$
Rating: Meh…. 
Something You Should Know
: There is a 30 minute wait if you order a stuffed pizza.

A reader specifically told me to skip the deep dish pizza because she felt it was overrated, but I have such an affinity for pizza that I couldn’t resist. Sadly, I felt like the coveted deep dish pizza was uninteresting and just a lot more cheese and calories filled with each bite. Looking back, I wish I had tried at least one more pizza place, but after this experience I decided to pursue other foodie endeavors.

Just Indulge
Price: $
Rating: Pretty good!
Yummy concretes and chocolate goodies made in-house. I had the vanilla concrete mixed with caramel and added a toffee bar on top. Yum!

{We made some friends from Florida while waiting in line! Definitely a highlight!}

Hot Doug’s
Price: $
Rating: Don’t miss out!
Something You Should Know: Bring Cash and expect a wait
It’s on Anthony Bourdain’s “13 Places to Eat Before You Die ” article for a reason! I’ve never had a hot dog quite this good and I’ve never seen a hot dog joint with both good ol’ hot dog, bratwurst and sausage combinations as well as gourmet options. I love the personality of the restaurant as well. For instance there is a dog called The Salma Hayek and below its name in parenthesis it says “Formerly the Madonna, the Raquel Welch and the Ann-Margret” with the description simply saying “Mighty Hot!” Hilarious!

Kuma’s Corner
Price: $$
Rating: Pretty good
Something You Should Know: The burgers are bigger than your face, they have a great beer selection and there’s generally a long wait.

The burgers here were pretty good: a generous size, fresh toppings, nicely melted cheese. What disappointed me was the quality of their sides. Jon had their chips and I ordered their fries and they were nothing to write home about, but I understand that the star of the dish is the burger of course. Just thought it was worth mentioning! The customer service was great and considering it’s a heavy metal joint that’s open until 2am, Jon and I can’t say we were too bothered by the music selection or atmosphere.

 

Doughnut Vault 
Price: $$
Rating: My mouth is salivating at the sheer thought of having a DV donut…..
Something You Should Know:  Cash only + They open at 8:30 and close whenever they sell out so don’t dilly dally when making a trip out!

The buttermilk doughnut is $2 and the glaze donuts $3. Easily the most expensive donut you’ve ever paid for, but clearly also worth their price once biting into them. The above photos are of their chocolate glaze, vanilla glaze and pistachio donuts!  And I don’t think the photos do a good job of conveying the size of these donuts. They are huge! In addition to their  donut’s visually pleasing appearance, don’t you just love the way they’ve designed their exterior with the vintage painted menu and blue paint? I couldn’t get enough photos of it!


XOCO
Price: $$
Rating: Pretty good
Something You Should Know: A contemporary Mexican sandwich restaurant started by the renown chef, Rick Bayless.

Jon and I ordered two entrees, but the one above is the one that I think is more than worth raving about! The bread in XOCO’s sandwiches lean towards the crispier (aka kind of cuts your mouth up) side, but when dipped into this spicy flavorful soup, it’s a myriad of flavor, textures and ingredients in each bite. Top it off with their limonade (lime instead of lemon) and you’re golden! Unfortunately I can’t remember exactly what this entrée is called, but after looking at the menu it might be the Ahogada.

Julius Meinl
Price: $$
Rating: Yummy in my tummy
Something You Should Know: It’s a European based restaurant.

Their egg bakes are the bomb and I loved their bread pudding-like French toast. Yums!

Wormhole
Price: $
Rating: Pure Awesomeness
Something You Should Know: Don’t miss out on their delicious macaroons for just a $1!

Humorous, chill, and old school (did you see the NES!) would be the three adjective I’d use to describe the atmosphere of this coffee shop and absolutely delicious would express how much we loved their coffee and macaroons. The Wormhole received great ratings on Yelp and we could clearly see why. It’s located in the artsy district of Wicker Park (shout out Laura!) and it’s completely worth the trip (I shopped at some local thrift stores while Jon was sippin’ on iced coffee).

Big Star
Price: $
Rating: Rocked my world
Something You Should Know: It’s located in Wicker Park and it doesn’t have a sign that says the name of the restaurant, it just has that red and black star.

I mean, it’s clear to see that the place is just cool. It’s even better to know that the food is great too. That pork and pineapple taco, known as the Tacos Al Pastor, above was my absolute favorite. I want ten of those right now! Jon somehow managed to devour the loaded  Sonoran hot dog that had a bacon wrapped dog topped with pinto beans, lime mayo, and the essence of life. Just kidding, but seriously it was difficult even attempting to bite into the hot dog because of its size. The beer battered tilapia taco was also scrumptious!

Bon Bon Vietnamese Sandwiches (aka Banh Mi)
Price: $
Rating: Get in my belly
Something You Should Know: Cash only + Featured as one of Chicago’s top cheap eats!

Okay, down to our final eatery! It was 9:45 at night, I was hankering for one last Chicago treat and Bon Bon happened to be open and down the street from where we were staying. It was meant to be. The above photo is the pic we took when we came back the next morning to eat there one more time since Jon was too full the night before from eating the “heart attack in a hot dog” at Big Star to eat a sandwich (meaning I ate a sandwich by myself…yes, I love food that much). We only had the opportunity to try their ginger chicken and charred pork banh mi but they were both phenomenal and less than $5 each. When you’re eating out so much, it’s nice to have a break on your wallet while not compromising a tasty filling meal. Oh, and the Thai tea and surprisingly their crinkle sweet potato fries were wonderful as well. Be sure to ask for their special Sirachi mayo sauce and say hello to the owner. He’s a sweetheart!

——

Here are a few basic foodie tips Jon and I have to offer from our experience in Chicago:

TIP 1: I have recently appreciated Urban Spoon much more than Yelp because the site lists the top 10 Foodie Finds in the area that bloggers and food critics alike are discussing. This is how we discovered both the Donut Vault and Kuma’s Corner.

TIP 2: BRING CASH!  We can’t tell you how many locations were cash only!

TIP 3: Be ready to travel all around the city for good food. It can be kind of time-consuming to figure out which buses and trains you’ll take to get to a certain area, but it’s worth discovering all the different pockets of a city and trying the best local restaurants that you can’t experience at home.

——-

A HUGE thank you goes out to those of you who were kind enough to share your recommendations with me. It deeply influenced our trip and enhanced our Chicago experience! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’m still feeling full from the trip (and that was two weeks ago). Gotta love this blogging community!

We ate and then we ate some more. Day four is dedicated to the art of attempting to satisfy the insatiable appetite!

Our sweet friend Laura who is a former Chicago local influenced a good portion of our day which began with brunch at Julius Meinl.

 Then a visit to Wicker Park which Laura described as artsy and fun. She wasn’t lying!

We grabbed coffee and maroons at the highly rated Wormhole. It didn’t disappoint, the coffee and macaroons rocked our world plus the decor was uber fun!

Big Star for an early dinner. Delish!

My obsession with Tolix chairs continues….

 

Back to downtown to enjoy the concert at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion!

 Our last stop of the day was at Bon Bon Vietnamese Sandwiches. Jon was so full he couldn’t bear the thought of another meal, but I was afraid we’d miss out on a Chicago treasure if we didn’t try at least one more meal. Thankfully the stop was completely worth it and so good we stopped by the next day for brumch right before we left town!

The owner is super friendly and I loved that he is a half Japanese, half Caucasian man running a Vietnamese sandwich shop! He said that offering Japanese food was in the works.

Gosh guys, thanks for putting up with all of these personal posts! A strong motivation for starting this blog was to catalogue our adventures so Jon and I could look back on them later down the road, but I also had two readers (including myself) when I first began posting so things have changed a bit. I appreciate your patience and a food post will be coming soon!

{in order to get a picture together, I offered to hold the kind stranger’s dog}

We started our third day pretty early catching buses and trains (Chicago is all about public transportation) until we arrived at our breakfast destination: The Donut Vault. Jon and I are obsessed with donuts and were ecstatic to get our hands on these massive treats. We loved the design of this small doughnut shop and the gorgeous use of typography in their menu. More on this foodie find in the eats post to come.

  A shot in front of the Crown Fountain which is also a part of Millenium Park. It’s a little walk from “The Bean” but not too far at all. It was raining almost the entire day so we got a quick pic here before the rain continued.

Since the forecast predicted 100% chance of rain, we decided it was a perfect day to hit up The Art Institute of Chicago upon an enthusiastic recommendation from some friends at church. Their rec did not disappoint!

Here’s one of my favorite pieces in the museum. Unfortunately I don’t have more information on the artist who created this installation, but we learned that the artist placed a digital wind gauge outside that would relay the wind’s patterns to this glass display. If you have 20 seconds, I know you’ll think this installation is just as brilliant as I do. (If you have more information on the artist please feel free to let me know and I’ll update this post)

An homage to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in front of Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.

  

The architecture of the Art Institute of Chicago and its views of the city were amazing.

Talk about a SMALL WORLD, as we were leaving the Art Institute I heard a girl call my name and turned around to see two friends from Dallas! Terri, the lovely girl on the right of me now lives in Chicago but Jesse, the other lovely lady on my left still resides in D-town. It’s crazy running into familiar faces 1,000 miles away from home, but it was an absolutely delightful surprise.

Afterwards we caught lunch at Rick Bayless’s restaurant XOCO since several of your recommended the place (thank you times a million)! Again, more to be written on this contemporary Mexican joint soon.

As I mentioned earlier, it rained most of the day. Jon and I have never owned an umbrella (don’t ask me why!) so we picked up a cheap one at Walgreens, but still had to change our pants and shoes later that afternoon since we were soaked from walking. Here I am making a sad face as its pouring and we’re unsure if they’re going to cancel our evening cruise at the Navy Pier.

Thankfully it stopped raining and off we went! We signed up for the evening cruise from Navy Pier to see the city lit up at night and because of…

the fireworks show! I love fireworks (yay for July 4th!) and the Navy Pier has a display every Wednesday evening during the summer. As much fun as this cruise was, I would recommend signing up for an architecture tour during the day and then watching the fireworks show from one of the docks at the Navy Pier. We signed up for this cruise to save a little mula, but I’d love to learn more about the city’s history and architecture background next time.

Sorry about not posting about Chicago beginning yesterday the way I mentioned I would on Monday. I posted about Jon’s b-day but never got around to finishing this post. I admit, I’m a bit of a wreck this summer but I do hope you’ll be patient with me as I continue to juggle the whole summer/blogger/responsibilities thing. Organized suggestions are welcomed!

Our first day in Chicago was pretty low-key, so I decided to skip it go directly into our adventures in the city!

The downtown seemed to go on forever in Chicago. We could not believe how many skyscrapers there were! It’s easily five times larger than Dallas’ downtown and to make it even more awesome, there’s Millenium Park in the heart of the city.

MILLENIUM PARK = PURE AWESOMENESS! 

Of course no Chicago trip is completely without some fun at Cloud Gate, better known as “The Bean.” We created a heart to reflect our affection for the city. Read more info about the sculpture here!

Okay, maybe we had too much fun. We were laying down underneath “The Bean” and another tourist commented on how it appeared as if we were standing and offered to take a photo for us! I’ve never had more fun with a big mirror and it was a blast watching people entertain themselves around it.

That night we fulfilled one of Jon’s dreams to attend a Cubs game at Wrigley field! We have to admit, we made the poor decision of wearing shorts when it was windy and low 50’s. You can imagine how cold we were.

I thought  it was so neat how the stadium is located in a central part of town and is surrounded by buildings that have created private seating on their rooftops! You can find more info here if you want to beat the crowd and join in on these rooftop seats.

I love this pic of us even though we are secretly chattering from the cold winds!

I’ll be posting the next two days of our trip and then a post dedicated entirely to EATING!

Hey blog buddies! The summer has been going tremendously for us and so this week I’ll be sharing some of our latest adventures, and asking for recommendations for the trips we have coming up.

I wanted to share a few pics from our Iowa trip if you don’t mind! The above photo captures just a glimpse of the gorgeous scenery Jon and I had the privilege of enjoying for the week. Red barns within view? Yes, please! Each time we visit Iowa we use the greenery to our advantage by getting a few decent pictures.

 Here are our amazing friends Sarah and Tyson and their baby girl Olive Joy!

Seriously, this little lady is so adorable! So cute that….

Even we had to get a few photos with her! Okay, in all honesty I am basically the one out of my friends that doesn’t have a case of baby fever, but my sweet husband l-l-l-l-loveeeeess kids so you can imagine my surprise when he insisted we take some photos with Olive Joy. Can’t wait to show Olive these photos when she’s 20!

I love this photo because it captures us perfectly: a little awkward filled with lots of joy

Unfortunately the corn crops weren’t quite this tall on our trip so I took a photo from a previous Iowa visit to top off the post. What’s an Iowa vacay without the signature corn crop photo? (That’s Jon’s 9-year younger brother Jay on the left whom we adore!)

Tomorrow I’ll begin my posts on Chicago! Have a splendid Monday sweet friends!

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