Jazzin’ at the Shedd

A few weeks ago I was downtown and Kevin and I went to the Shedd Aquarium. During the summer, they are open each Wednesday night and have live jazz played inside and out. There’s cash bars and fireworks.

It was VERY crowded; we walked outside early and saw it was packed. We decided not to fight for a spot and just enjoy the exhibits. Plus we have a membership so can/will go back and make sure we go out on their patio!

An early on highlight was a small girl ran over and was so interested by my rollator, touching the front basket and seat handle. The mom was embarrassed but I totally didn’t mind and told her that. Actually I loved it; everything about my disability doesn’t have to be serious!

Other highlights were seeing a rockhopper penguin hop across the exhibit, spending time watching the dolphins and sitting by the Caribbean Reef listening to jazz. And we took a break by the empty otter tank; when we stood up to leave one came out, made one loop then went away.

It was such a fun night out!

SkyRise Chicago-Support Request

The owner of where I work out for years has suggested doing this challenge. This is the first year I’m physically capable, and was feeling confident that I could do this as a part of a team. Yes I would need help but I trust my trainers to keep me safe.

Well…in a world where so often I cannot do something because of my recovery, I suffered from severe knee pain in the Spring that made participating a total no. The whole ordeal was awful; I had to deal with an asshole of a doctor. I’m so glad to be past that but it was a painful and stressful thing in my life. I ended up getting a Cortisone shot.

While the doctor tried to say he saw wear and tear which maybe indicated need for surgery which I disagree with; I have 33 years of use including being overly hard on them with dancing so no shit they have wear and tear, I do need to not overdo it with biking and stepping.

I was therefore thrilled that SkyRise Chicago was offering a virtual option to participate! You can read more on my page, but I’m challenging myself to do a 2+ mile walk twice before November 7th.

Apparently while I was still in the hospital my parents toured Shirley Ryan and my mom said “oh yeah, this is Logan worthy.” I spent 6 weeks there and, even though I was in a horrid state, it really is an outstanding facility. There’s a reason Shirley Ryan is one of the top rehabilitation places in the country.

I’m so happy to FINALLY be in a position to give back to somewhere that really helped me out. It’s truly an honor to participate, and I please ask that you support me!

Thoughts on Current Chicago

During our Staycation since went to multiple museums and restaurants I was able to get a flavor of the current Chicago, both specific to Covid and just in general.

First, with regards to Covid; children wear masks which makes sense as there’s not a vaccine yet and some adults wear masks but many don’t. That’s absolutely fine if you’re comfortable; I’m not yet. But I said here I don’t put value in what the CDC says and instead want to come to my own decision based on the facts. I suspect since many places are saying per the CDC if you are vaccinated masks are optional people are simply relying on that instead of basing their choice on facts.

Now, in general. This is a wide overgeneralization.

People are rude. Everyone is extremely selfish and think they’re the most important, so basic kindness can go out the window. Now do I expect people to bend over backwards for me? Of course not. But I’m in a wheelchair at museums. Are holding doors and being aware if we can’t get through too much to ask?

Now, I’m selfish too. I love no one more than myself, Kevin and Glen included. But I always show compassion for others. It makes me extremely sad this selfish attitude is the norm.

I have two actual actions to show kindness.

One, show it through your actions. Hold doors and be self-aware. Don’t be the majority here!

Two, use this as a story you can share when appropriate and to close friends. Don’t pontificate (like I am with this post) but share that it’s been noticed as a problem in hopes that it’s passed on and more and more people start acting with more kindness.

The Driehaus Museum

Sometimes you can live in a city for years and have an amazing spot exist right under your nose. Cue: The Driehaus Museum! 

This breathtaking mansion is located just off the Magnificent Mile and really sneaks up on you. It was built in the late 19th century and originally the home of banker Samuel Mayo Nickerson. In 2003 the museum was founded by Richard H. Driehaus who commissioned a five year restoration to preserve the structure of the building and its contents. 

The museum boasts vibrant interiors with an outstanding collection of paintings, furniture and decorative pieces. 

Guided tours are offered and I would highly recommend taking one! In the interest of time I did a self-guided tour which is also possible through well marked rooms and knowledgeable docents on hand for any and all questions. 

The Drihaus features rotating exhibits on its second floor. Currently it is showing Maker and Muse, showcasing 20th century jewelry. The 250 plus piece collection includes works from a breadth of artists, most recognizable Tiffany and Co. The exhibit is running through January 3, 2016.

Not to be missed is the upcoming exhibit “Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times”. The collection will include costume pieces from the show ‘Downton Abbey’ and celebrate the sixth season of this spectacular show! 

The Driehaus Museum is located at 40 East Erie Street in Chicago. Admission starts at $20; visitors can pay $5 more for a guided tour through the home. The museum is open Tuesdays-Sundays, 10AM to 5PM and check the website for tour times.  

Owen + Alchemy

This summer I’ve been obsessed with a Chicago native brand: Owen + Alchemy

I stumbled upon the brand Owen + Alchemy through Twitter and immediately knew it was something I wanted to try. Owen + Alchemy, or O + A, specializes in cold pressed juices and plant based meals. While it has a brick and mortar location in Logan Square it has also set up a fantastic pop up location in Eataly through the end of 2015. 

I love a good healthy juice and was intrigued by the unique combinations that the brand offers up! 

O + A products come in gorgeous glass bottles with very informative labels. Each shows on the back a flavor profile, its nutritional value and the health benefits. 

I’ve visited the O + A stand in Eataly multiple times over the summer. The staff are so helpful and provide samples to assist in your selection. These are the juices I have tried so far! 

#15 combines apple, ginger, lemon and cayenne pepper. The O + A staff described it to me as apple cider with a kick, which is exactly what this tastes like! I am NOT normally a fan of spicy drinks but do not mind the dash of cayenne in this blend. Each sip is smooth from the apple then has a soft after bite from the spices. The fruity #15 is detoxifying, anti-inflammitory and supports digestion. 

#42 is a savory blend of heirloom tomato and organic Himalayan sea salt. The health benefits are rehydrating, immune support and cardiovascular support. This is like a perfectly salted summer tomato, but in a bottle. It’s a nice break from traditionally sweet juices and ties in nicely if you are consuming the juice as a meal replacement. I’ve purchased this twice and the second time around the blend was a bit more red and a little less salty. I’d guess this difference in color is tied to the time of year; the redder version was purchased later in the summer when tomato produce would be a bit more developed. The difference in salt level was not a deal breaker for me; again this may have differed due to flavor of the tomato on its own. 

#21 combines blueberry, basil, lime and sea salt. The basil is a surprising but wonderful addition to this blend! The juice is not overly sweet despite the blueberry flavor, and leaves you with a hint of basil taste after each sip. #21 is antioxidant rich, supports your immune system and is antibacterial. It’s the most stand out flavor of all the juices I have tried and my top recommendation! 

#02 is a straight up green juice and not for those who are only so-so interested in healthy juices. The #02 is a blend of greens (mine was kale, romaine, spinach), parsley, celery, cucumber, lemon and sea salt. This guy is detoxifying, alkalizing, and nutrient electrolyte rich. It’s also seriously healthy tasting. NOT a bad thing, but this is certainly a juice for when you want to flood your system with a punch of goodness!

#58 is a creamy cold brewed coffee drink with raw almond and cashew, maca, and maple syrup. What I love about this mix is that unlike sugary coffee blends, this will provide a steady energy boost without the post-drink crash. The #58 is antioxidant rich, energy building, and mood boosting. I enjoyed this over ice for a Friday afternoon treat! 

The newest juice I tried is the #25: lemon, cucumber, rosemary, raw agave and activated charcoal with alkaline water. Activated charcoal is having a bit of a moment with it’s detoxifying properties, popping up in everything from beauty  products to food. This lemonade-like blend uses the addition of charcoal to support a drink that is rehydrating, yes, detoxifying!, and nutrient electrolyte rich. I love lemonade when it’s fresh and tart, not too sweet. This drink is just the ticket for being refreshing while providing great health benefits! 

O + A is constantly tweaking it’s recipes/bringing in new seasonal favorites and retiring others. This stays true to the brand’s devotion to seasonal produce and organic local farmers. The blends I have tried vary slightly from the ingredients currently listed on the website, since what is in season dictates what is in the juice blend! 

Read all about Owen + Alchemy here, and be sure to check out their stand on the first floor of Eataly! I’m looking forward to visiting their shop in Logan Square and mustering up the courage to try one of their juice cleanses! 

Note: I purchased all of the aforementioned juices and the opinions are 100% my own : ) 

Penthouse Sweets

I was gratiously invited to the I|O Rooftop at the Godfrey Hotel earlier this week to celebrate the upcoming opening of a storefront for Penthouse Sweets

If you haven’t heard of this company they should be on your radar. Penthouse Sweets is a custom dessert studio; they work one on one with clients to create completely unique desserts tailored to your treat needs. Created by Chef Yvonne Stephens, Penthouse Sweets exudes its passion for dessert design and love of bringing its customer’s visions to reality! 

The event showcased quite the spread of sweet treats! 

What really struck me was the attention to detail that went into each piece of dessert; Penthouse Sweets truly offers up edible art! 

The signature logo sugar cookie and reverse chocolate chip cookie. This one was such a fun twist on a classic with a chocolate cookie and white chocolate chip. Both were decadent! 

The chocolate cake with raspberry mousse buttercream petit four above, and a line of verses below! From left to right: banana pudding, chocolate cherry brownie, mango coconut cheesecake and strawberry cheesecake. My favorite of the bunch was the banana pudding! 

How amazing is edible glitter?! Above a red velvet cake pop and below a pumpkin cupcake with fudge buttercream. I am a huge cake fan and each cake item was moist with a great balance between the ratio of cake to frosting. The pumpkin cake and fudge was an unexpected but delicious combination! 

And hands down the best presentation of the bunch-strawberry cake with vanilla buttercream on a mini pedestal! 

I’d highly recommend Penthouse Sweets for a truly customized and unique dessert experience. Their love of sweets and attention to detail shines through all of their treats! Visit their site linked at the beginning of the post, or their Facebook page here, to see more of their gorgeous designs.

Thank you to Penthouse Sweets and the Godfrey Hotel for a beautiful event! 

Koi (Evanston)

A few weeks ago I was invited to check out Koi, an upscale Asian restaurant and bar in Evanston. 

Evanston is a quick and easy trip north out of the city; it’s just fun to walk around and admire the gorgeous views of the lake! I met up with my friend Stephanie and we took the purple line after work, which takes about an hour. 

Koi is located just a few minutes from the el station. The vibe inside is classy but homey with warm lighting and dark features. We were promptly greeted and seated towards the front by the windows. 

Their menu focuses on bringing a modern twist to classic Japanese and Chinese dishes. There is plenty to choose from and the plates are healthy portions; ideal for sharing! 

Koi has a nice sized cocktail list. My cosmo was sweeter than what I normally prefer but refreshing nonetheless. 

Edamame is provided for the table to snack on while you peruse the menu. 

As an appetizer, Steph and I ordered the hot appetizer medley. This comes with a spring roll, crabmeat wonton, spare rib, pan-fried beef dumpling and satay beef. There also is a separate plate of specific dipping sauces for each piece. I thought everything was delicious. A lot of times Asian dishes like these are carelessly thrown together. Everything was the perfect blend of crispy and soft. I would definitely order this again. 

We split a speciality sushi roll-the dragon fire roll of shrimp tempura with salmon, white tuna, green onion and unagi sauce that is baked and served warm. Oh my! This was recommended to us, and we would not have selected in on our own. Both Steph and I agreed we’d return just for this roll! The flavors just melt in your mouth, having blended during the baking process. 

For mains, we split the basil plate, with sweet peppers and carrots mixed with a combination of chicken, beef and shrimp. I liked the fact that this plate centered around basil, as it’s a flavor I really enjoy. 

As well as the mushroom stir fry, a blend of multiple types of mushrooms, bok choy and tofu. Tofu is a tough food to master (it all comes down to the texture), but the blend of mushrooms was great. 

As previously mentioned the portions are large; it looked like we barely made a dent in our plates when we were done! The meals were tasty.

We ordered a chocolate mousse for dessert; this was stacked with dark, white and milk chocolate. It was very rich but a nice sweet end to our meal.

Overall the meal was great; the staff is knowledgable and friendly. I loved the wide variety of foods to choose from and the sharableness of the plates. I would absolutely recommend Koi for it’s appetizers and sushi; Steph and I raved about that dragon fire roll all night! 

Koi is located at 624 Davis Street in Evanston. 

Note: my meal was complimentary however the opinions in this post are my own. 

Au Cheval

I dined at burger hotspot Au Cheval last week with my crew. I have nonstop been hearing fantastic things about this West Loop restaurant, and it keeps popping up on Best Burgers in the Country lists. I just had to check it out for myself!

After an intense study of Yelp reviews I recommended we start things off with two highly praised dishes: first, General Jane’s honey-fried chicken with chili, sesame seeds and cilantro. 

The chicken was a perfect balance of crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. There was an underlying heat that built with each bite. The dish is wisely served with hot towels for post-eating cleanup! 

We also ordered the roasted marrow bones served with beef cheek marmalade and toast. This dish is pure indulgence as the rich and decadent flavors melt in your mouth. 

Both dishes were a great start to the meal and perfect for sharing amongst the table. They added some variety and let us know Au Cheval has great non-burger options.

That being said….

We moved on to the main course and oh. my. goodness. 

Two single cheeseburgers (a single actually having two patties) were shared; one with egg and one with bacon. An order of crispy fries with mornay sauce and a fried egg for the table accompanied these beauties. 

I can’t even with these burgers. To say they live up to the hype feels like a gross understatement. The flavors just meld perfectly and I already am planning when I can return for another burger…..

The fries were tasty. I was not a huge fan of the mornay sauce and the egg felt in the way; next time I’d stick with a plain order of fries. The garlic aioli served alongside though? Out of this world. 

While both variations were delicious I preferred the burger with the egg slightly more than the bacon one. Au Cheval does not ask how you’d like the burger cooked because they just know what is best. Needless to say everything we were served was consumed with glee. 

Our meal head to toe was delicious. I felt that the mixture of dishes we ordered gave us a great sampling of Au Cheval’s menu. That being said I would focus on the burger and fries on my next visit; that burger is so great everyone should make room in their stomachs for their own!

Au Cheval does not take reservations. I highly recommend knowing and owning this fact before you arrive. Give your name and number to the host and go to any of the nearby spots for drinks to wait for your table. Au Cheval will text you to let you know your table is almost ready. On a Tuesday night we checked in a bit before 6 and were seated at 6:50. The wait is absolutely worth it!

Au Cheval is located at 800 West Randolph Street in Chicago. 

Afternoon Tea at The Lobby

My lovely friends joined me this past weekend in celebrating my birthday by going for afternoon tea at The Lobby, located on the fifth floor of the Peninsula hotel. 

The Lobby is gorgeous and the picture of elegance, its huge dining room flooded with light from a floor to ceiling window overlooking Michigan Avenue. The service here is attentive and friendly, taking care to ensure any allergens are respected and to keep your tea pot filled throughout the afternoon. 

Meghan and I popped for a glass of Moet and Chandon (Monica and Chandler) champers along with our tea. 

The food was absolutely wonderful. From the Lobby website, the menu includes: 


Traditional Scone, Mandarin Orange Scone
Rum Cake – Soft Almond Cake Soaked With Rum, Vanilla Cream
Macaron Raspberry – Raspberry Macaron
Caramel Apple Choux – Cream Puff Filled With Apples And Caramel
Passion Coconut Napoleon – Coconut Cake, Passion Cream
Cassis Chestnut Roulade – Cassis Roulade With Chestnut Cream
Strawberry Tart – Sweet Basil Cream, Fresh Strawberries
Ham & Swiss – Citrus Mostarda, Mustard Blossom, Whole Wheat
Light Chicken Salad – Apples, Celery, Strawberry Aioli, Radish, White Bread 
Cucumber Sandwich – Lemon-Dill Mascarpone, Thyme Blossom, White Bread
Smoked Salmon – Caper-Citrus Cream Cheese, Salmon Caviar, Cress
Turkey & Gruyere Melt – Beet Pickled Shallots, Mustard Aioli
Your Choice Of The Peninsula Selection Of Proprietary Teas Or Blend Coffee

I was so surprised when our waiter brought out a plate of treats for my birthday!

The tea ended with individual chocolate soufflés for everyone. 

Tea at the Lobby is a great spot to celebrate a special event or simply to treat yourself. The Lobby is located within the Peninsula Hotel at 108 East Superior Street in Chicago. 

Frontera Grill

Before the holidays the girls and I visited Frontera Grill for dinner. The weather outside was frightful (sorry I couldn’t help myself!) and we were in sore need of some good food! 

Frontera Grill is a Rick Bayless restaurant and is always hopping; we made our dinner reservation well in advance to avoid waiting and to guarantee a table in the dining room versus the bar. And despite it being a Tuesday the front of the restaurant was packed with eager diners waiting for a table. 

I ordered the blood orange margarita and was thrilled that it was just the right amount of sweet. Tequila isn’t my booze of choice but I enjoyed the cocktail. 

We shared an order of guacamole, and while it was tasty I didn’t think it was outstanding. However the accompanying salsas were delicious.

My favorite dish of the night was the trio of ceviches featuring two types of tuna, shrimp and squid. Each ceviche was made with bold vegetable and fruit flavors, and everything tasted extremely fresh. I’d definitely order these again!

For our main course we shared the grilled tacos plate which comes with chicken, duck, steak and roasted vegetables. It’s a nice dish to share though I wasn’t bowled over with the flavors. If I went back I’d try one of the specialty entrees they offer. 

Frontera Grill is located at 449 North Clark Street and reservations are highly encouraged.