Chicago

CARA 20 miler, Taco Fest, and Accountability

What started on Friday night as a “Holy crap I’m burned out someone get me a glass of wine” kind of weekend turned out to be jam-packed with fun. I honestly didn’t want to leave my house after getting home Friday night. I had grand plans of seeing a cover band and causing all-around shenanigans but I ended up parked on my couch sending out depressing snapchats about the whole ordeal.

IMG_0008

Yes I took a screenshot of my own snapchat. I now know how to save it, so no need to educate me. I am technologically challenged.

IMG_0011

IMG_0016

Saturday was the usual run, eat, work, but I did have a chance to go out with some friends that night which was fun. I was NOT happy about my 5:30am wake-up call on Sunday morning but hey, sometimes you have to sacrifice sleep in order to pretend you still have a social life.

Sunday was where the real action happened.

IMG_0032

I was a lululemon representative at the 20 miler that the Chicago Area Runners Association puts on every year a few weeks before the Chicago Marathon. We all arrived at 7:00am to set up our signs, our tent and our freebies for all the runners. First of all, it was COLD. I ran to my car for five minutes at least three times that morning just to warm up. In related news it was 85 degrees in Chicago on Saturday. So, let me just tell you, if the apocalypse starts somewhere, I promise you it’s going to be in the Windy City.

IMG_0035

IMG_0038

Despite the weather, it was a beautiful day. A few of us cheered on the runners (my favorite job!) while others handed out wet towels with eucalyptus oil on them for relaxation after the run. Others were stationed at the lululemon tent, handing out flip flops, CRAZY good granola, and foam rollers to borrow. Bethany, did you come try to find me? I heard someone was asking for me so if it wasn’t you I’m worried I might have a stalker 😉

IMG_0033IMG_0037

I’m not a member of CARA because I haven’t lived in the city permanently for a long enough time that it seemed like a good idea, but let me tell you: I love that group. The energy, the love of running, the people…it’s overwhelming! I had so much fun watching people of all different shapes, sizes and ages cross the finish line, having just accomplished a 20 mile run – and whether it was their first or their 40th, you could tell that every runner was so proud of themselves. I was so happy to be a volunteer!

That afternoon I made my way north of the city for Lakeview Taco Fest, where I probably brushed paths with Amy without even noticing. I still can’t believe we keep missing each other!

IMG_0053

The highlight was the free wine tasting sponsored by Cupcake Wines at the beginning of the festival. I tried their prosecco (can’t go wrong) and a red velvet red, which wasn’t my favorite but my friends all agreed it’s now their new go-to red. Plus it was basically a wine truck – how much better does it get than that?

IMG_0057 IMG_0056

Korean smoked pork taco from Toons Bar & Grill

Korean smoked pork taco with Asian slaw from Toons Bar & Grill – tie for first place! Deeelish

Smoked Chicken Taco from D.S. Tequila Company - my favorite of the day. The elote corn hash, on the other hand, was underwhelming.

Smoked Chicken Taco from D.S. Tequila Company – another favorite of the day. The elote corn hash, on the other hand, was underwhelming. But it looked too beautiful to pass up!

Tacos from Crosby's Kitchen - pretty great! The toppings were creative and tasty, but the meat was dry. I've heard it's an expensive place so I'd rather spend less $ at an authentic Mexican restaurant for better meat. Rotisserie chicken taco + the Smoke Daddy pulled pork taco

Rotisserie chicken taco + Smoke Daddy pulled pork taco from Crosby’s Kitchen – pretty tasty! The toppings were creative and delicious, but the meat itself was dry. I’ve heard it’s an expensive place so I’d rather spend less money at an authentic Mexican restaurant for better meat. 

I left pretty stuffed, but in true Lauren fashion I was hungry three hours later. It just doesn’t end! I act like that’s a big burden in my life lawlz – like being a bottomless pit is some kind of cross I have to bear. I guess someone’s got to do it 😉 Oh, I also noticed after taking this picture that I’m making a fist. I’d like to think I’m just pumped about all the great tacos about to enter my belly.

IMG_0060

To end my weekend wrap-up I’m going to start posting my workouts on Monday from the past week in order to give myself some accountability. Granted, I know that life throws a wrench in your plans every once in awhile, but working out at least five out of seven days is a value I hold and it needs to once again be the rule, not the exception. I’m happy to report I kicked butt this past week!

  • Monday:4 mile run
  • Tuesday: 60 minute Flywheel Class
  • Wednesday: 4 mile run
  • Thursday: C2 Yoga at Corepower
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 4 mile run (last mile was a combination of sprint/walk)
  • Sunday: Rest

Thumbs up all around!

4861214_origQuestions:

  • What would it take for you to run 20 miles? A lifetime supply of chia seeds? A $1000 Trader Joe’s gift card? A date with Leonardo DiCaprio? Spill it.
  • Best taco you’ve ever had, and where you got it.
  • Has the weather been doing a total 180 from day-to-day where you’re from?
Advertisements

scenes from the weekend

Hi folks! I can’t wait to read about all your weekends. Mine was filled with tons of activity, sunshine, furniture shopping and, of course food. Is anyone else blown away that it’s June? March, April and May flew by but I’m hoping that June will slow its roll so we can enjoy the nice weather that we all deserve so much.

As you saw yesterday, Zain and I started out the weekend by biking to the farmers market early Saturday morning. We didn’t buy anything but it was just nice to walk around and see the options for the future. Next time I’ll be sure to go around lunch time – there were tons of awesome food options! Tacos, fancy grilled cheese, crepes…I was pretty mad I had just eaten breakfast haha. I never like to miss out on food like that.

Breakfast before the market was peanut butter and bananas on a sandwich thin + coffee

IMG_7799

 

Zain finally learned what it takes to date a blogger so he likes to take “spontaneous” pictures of our adventures.IMG_7804

I also noticed that everyone at the farmers market was in athletic gear. These are my people.IMG_7856

After the market I met up my friend Megan for a bootcamp class. It was the last class in my two week pass at Yoga Loft and I really can’t tell you how much I’m going to miss it. Once I have to stop paying all those beginning fees and additional costs of moving I’ll for sure get a 10-pass there to use over the span of a few weeks. That place kicked my butt and I loved every second of it.

IMG_7850The rest of the day was spent furniture shopping. Zain is all about the deals so we ended up biking + walking about five miles or so to a furniture outlet in the middle of nowhere. We felt like we were on a pilgrimage across the Sahara (it was 95 on Saturday) so when we saw 7-Eleven and were sure it wasn’t a mirage, we picked up some Slurpees.

IMG_7863

Saturday night I hung out on Megan’s roof watching the sunset and drinking wine, so it was basically the perfect day.

Sunday was spent church-going, grocery shopping and Blackhawks-watching. The weekend was full and fabulous – but don’t think I’d leave you without showing you all the food I ate!

For some random reason I was all about the salads this weekend:

IMG_7858

Mixed greens with hard boiled egg, tomato, blue cheese, avocado and balsamic vinaigrette.

IMG_7875

Arugula with mozzarella and baby tomatoes (dressed with the oil that the mozzarella was soaking in plus TJ’s balsamic glaze)

But don’t think I just ate salads all weekend – that would just be nonsense.

IMG_7798

Mahi mahi with herbes de provence and lemon, breadcrumb and herbes de provence-stuffed tomatoes and roasted brussel sprouts

IMG_7751

Spinach-egg white breakfast wrap from Starbucks (plus it looks like the barista was cursing me out haha)

IMG_7868

Veggie burger topped with cheddar, bbq sauce and onion straws

It was a blast of a weekend – I even started off Monday right with a 6:00am 4 mile run. Now that summer is here morning runs are going to be a lot more common. Everything is on the up and up!

IMG_7881IMG_7880

Happy Monday!

Questions:

  • What was the best thing you ate this weekend?
  • What’s your favorite homemade salad combo? I need some new inspiration!
  • Did you try anything new this weekend?

things i love friday: kiddie pools and tacos galore

Aaaaand just like that, it’s Friday again. Don’t you love short workweeks?

Even though it was a short week I still ran into a million things I loved and knew I had to share today with everyone, so without further ado, a few things I love this Friday.

Image

Farmers Markets

Well it’s officially farmers market season and I couldn’t be happier. I love strolling past the dozens of farmers’ stands and checking out the homegrown produce and unique products. From crepe stands to flower stops and some of the freshest fruits and veggies you’ll see in your life, there are few things better than throwing on a casual maxi dress, grabbing all the cash you can find in your house, and walking the sunny streets of a farmers market. I plan on going to the Green City Market in Lincoln Park tomorrow morning, so stay tuned.

Image

 

2% Greek Yogurt

Why have you all been holding out on me?? The difference between 2% and 0% greek yogurt is like night and day. It was so rich and creamy, it felt almost indulgent. I’ll never buy 0% again – ain’t nobody got time to be afraid of a little fat!

Image

 

Speaking of that, have you ever put mango in your greek yogurt? Life-changing, I tell you.

Tacos

It must be the warm weather but I’ve had fish tacos three times this week – can’t stop, won’t stop. I’m still on the hunt for the best fish tacos in Chicago – as of now the honor goes to Benchmark in Old Town but I have two places on my must-go list: Antique Taco and Big Star. I guess it’s my taco bucket list 🙂

Image

At-home workouts

When I move to Lincoln Park in a few weeks I plan on signing up for a gym in the area, but until then I’m still using up my Yoga Loft 2-week pass and doing home workouts. If you’re looking for a fast and effective workout that you can do in your living room blasting Kesha, look no further than the Total Body Workout by Body By Jake on Hulu. Because honestly, what’s better than free?

Image

 

@HiddenCash

Have your heard about this? A millionaire is leaving cash taped all over spots in California, from fire hydrants to park benches. He’s tweeting clues from @HiddenCash and hoping people will “pay it forward”. How heartwarming is that? I love little moments of humanity like that – everyone’s coming together and helping each other find the hidden cash, and then either taking their friends out for dinner/drinks or donating to their favorite charity. It’s such a cool idea and brings a little excitement and unity to the world! Fingers crossed he stops by the Windy City 🙂

Image

Movies and Music in the Park

I promise that one day I’ll stop talking about how great Chicago is in the summer. Today is not that day.  Starting next week the city puts on free events multiple times a week such as concerts in the park and outdoor movies. For all the time I’m planning on spending on the grass it’s probably a good idea to invest in some outdoor furniture. How about this?

Image

Is that perfect or is it perfect?

Have a great weekend! Check back tomorrow for a fresh new summer recipe!

Questions:

 

  • What are your favorite outdoor activities in the summer?
  • What’s your favorite kind of taco?
  • What are your plans this weekend?

 

Yoga Loft Chicago

One of the coolest perks of my job is we get to try out a variety fitness studios and classes in the city. Sometimes they come to the office and we do a group workout in one of the conference rooms but this past week we were lucky enough to be invited to Yoga Loft, a gorgeous, almost hidden studio in the heart of the River North neighborhood.

Image

All I knew before stepping foot in the studio was it was going to be a “sculpting” class. I assumed that since it was a sculpt class at a yoga studio it would be yoga + weights and maybe a little more movement than the usual yoga class. BOY was I wrong. But let’s rewind…

We walked into the small but well-utilized space and were immediately faced with rows of dark wooden cubbies for our belongings, a variety of weights to choose from, Dixie cups full of water and a wall of yoga mats. From the second we walked in it was a very warm and welcoming place.

IMG_7478

Next we met Tim, who was our teacher for the day. I should have realized when he said he was a personal trainer that we were NOT going to be doing yoga, but I remained blissfully ignorant to what lay ahead.

IMG_7479

All 15 of us grabbed some five pound weights, headed into the studio and sat down on mats already waiting for us. The room was hot as could be so I knew it was going to be a doozy.

Now, onto the workout. After a quick five-minute “warm up” (a term I use lightly because it was tough in and of itself) we jumped right into a 40 minute bootcamp-style workout. Now, I’ve tried just about every workout: spin, body pump, Crossfit, running, yoga, etc., but these 40 minutes were by far the toughest I’ve ever experienced.

We performed two circuits, including some of the following moves:

  • Moving pushups (moving side to side after each one)
  • Burpees + jump with knees to your chest
  • Pushup + lunge + jump lunge to the other leg
  • Planks
  • Forward and back kicks + punches
  • Mountain climbers
  • Sumo squats
  • High knees

I could keep going but you get the picture 😉

The intensity of this workout plus the heat in the room made for a hilarious picture.  All 15 of us were slipping and sliding on our mats, and I even fell a few times while trying to hold a plank. The longest break we had was 15 seconds, a well-deserved rest that only came two or three times during the workout. Needless to say, it was the quickest 40 minutes of my life. After it was done we all looked around at each other and couldn’t believe we had just been moving like the for 40 whole minutes!

IMG_7487

Now that is some good old fashioned sweat! (Plus a side of some serious forehead)

I left Yoga Loft feeling better than I have in months. They aren’t lying when they say that exercise gives you a serious high. I could have flown home on that endorphin rush!

The thing I’m most excited about is that Yoga Loft  is offering new students an incredible deal: two weeks of unlimited workouts for $35! Anyone who has gone to a small studio in a big city knows just how expensive they are, so this is a steal. Megan and I are definitely going to go back for the next two weeks and get our sweat on again – we’re addicted!

If you’re from Chicago and want to check it out with me, I’d love to go with you in the upcoming weeks! Just check out their website, see if it’s something you want to test out, and let me know! I’m always looking for new fitness partners in crime 🙂

Questions:

  • When was the last time you had an amazing workout?
  • Do you belong to a regular gym or a small studio?
  • Any ideas for how to make a little extra cash so I don’t have to sell a kidney to keep going to classes like this once my two weeks are up?

a weekend of firsts

First time trying squid ink pasta

Twas spicy. And different. Good in a unique way. Zman and I had date night at RPM Italian (owned by Giuliana and Bill Rancic) and after hearing rave reviews, I decided to try this squid ink pasta topped with crab which tasted great and made me feel fancy. I’ll definitely be back to try another dish because everything looked incredible, but I wasn’t blown away by the place – especially by the service. As a former server I know the little tricks of the trade when you’re trying to rush a table and our server was definitely rushing us. She brought out our appetizer WITH our entrees and asked if we’d like to see a dessert menu while we were still eating. Not impressed. But hey, now I can say I tried it!

Image

First time making French Toast

It took an hour, way too much butter, and I wanted to go back to bed afterwards. The effort was worth it though, especially for leftovers, because this was killer. So delicious (and this is coming from a girl who’s never loved french toast in the past).

Image

First time doing a squat-a-thon

Because it’s T-minus 2 weeks until I need to squeeze myself into a bikini and I’d rather squat til I drop than do something crazy like give up pizza.

Image

First lazy “summer” weekend in Chicago

A beautiful run, a two hour adventure walk and $5 worth of frozen yogurt.

ImageImage

ImageImage

Image

And last but certainly not least, first time signing a lease! (No, college doesn’t count)

Zman and I are officially moving in together in Lincoln Park! We came, we saw, we conquered. In other words, we toured an apartment, fell in love, and signed all within six hours. We didn’t ask nearly enough questions but it’s next door to a Starbucks so I don’t really see what could go wrong.

Image

Big things happening here! So tell me…did you have any “firsts” this weekend? If not, what was the best thing you did all weekend?

Have a great Monday!

white cheddar tequila trout (it’s not what you think)

Oooo how gross is that title? But it got you to click, right? Bwahaha my master plan is working – shock and awe will keep you all coming back for more! In all seriousness, though, isn’t it funny how you can churn out content almost daily for entire blog posts and then it’s time to come up with a title and you’re like “Uhhh….”. Oh the irony….

I promise I’ll have a recap soon of my juice cleanse attempt (emphasis on the word attempt) but I really feel like I’ve committed a major blogger sin by skipping out on “What I Ate Wednesday”. When I first started reading food blogs (Kath Eats Real Food was my gateway drug) that was my favorite part! Scrolling through photo after photo of snacks, sandwiches, skillets, and everything in between got me through the day when I was working at my first summer internship. One of the first realities I faced when I started blogging was no, you can’t just upload iPhone photos of fish and veggies every single day and call it a healthy living blog. These types of outlets require covering a vast number of topics, and food is just the tip of the iceberg. But hey, we all love a good photo dump every once in awhile, right? So in homage to my blog-obsession roots, I’m going to share some of the best things I’ve eaten in the past week or so.

Image

Lentil soup – it never sounds good but 9 out of 10 times it knocks my socks off

Image

Trader Joe’s chicken and verde salsa burritos (an incredibly easy frozen food option) alongside some tortilla chips, salsa and peas. I’m a pea freak lately!

Image

Tequila and good conversation mix very well 🙂

Image

Why has no one told me about this white cheddar mac and cheese before? I about died and went to heaven

Image

Deep dish from the Art of Pizza in Lakeview – my new favorite (the two pounds of cheese per slice helped)

Image

Overnight oats – never pretty, always delicious

Image

Easily the best sandwich I’ve had in awhile: chicken, roasted tomatoes, pesto, arugula and provolone.

Image

Food Ease hot bar inside Water Tower place: Joe’s Crab Shack Roasted Tomatoes, Herb Roasted Trout, and Roasted Potatoes. Talk about a high-class lunch!

Image

I will never turn down a Chipotle date with Zman 🙂

Let’s end the post with something I’m grateful for today: I’m grateful for the ability to read! Can you imagine never learning that basic skill? I love reading about other people’s life experiences and creative writing pieces so I’m very appreciative that I grew up in a place that values education.

Okay…now let’s hear from you!

  • What’s the best thing you’ve eaten in the past week?
  • What’s one thing you’re grateful for today?

birthday weekend in the south pole

Warning: this post is full of not-so-healthy choices.

Fried foods? Check.

Sugary fish bowl drinks? Check.

Limited activity besides Just Dance and walking from bar to bar? Check.

But it’s all okay because it was my birthday weekend!

Image

That’s right. I’m officially the big 2-3, the year of Michael Jordan, the “there isn’t a Taylor Swift song about it yet” age.  It doesn’t feel much different. At the same time, however, I feel like 2014 is going to bring big things for me so I bet 23 is going to be a great year.  22 was all about transitioning: graduating college, moving back home, finding an internship, maintaining a job, and now moving on to a new opportunity in the city and living here part time. I’m now going to be interning at a new public relations company and I couldn’t be happier.  I start tomorrow (thanks to the freezing temps that I’ll get to later) and I’ll be living with Zman 4 days a week at his apartment in the city. The other 3 days/nights I’ll be back in the suburbs working at the restaurant. It’s a bizarre schedule but I’m so excited to be back on the daily grind! I’m one of those weirdos who thrives on structure, schedules and planners, so I know this change is going to bring me nothing but happiness.

Back to the important stuff: the birthday!

I took the train to the city in the morning and met up Zman for a bday lunch.  We decided that instead of getting entrees we would just have a day of “apps and zerts”.

Classic Parks and Rec.

We headed to Public House in the River North neighborhood downtown and picked four larger than life appetizers to enjoy.Image

The ones that made the cut were fried pickles, cheese curds, a homemade pretzel with cheese, and sea salt/parsley french fries. Good lawd. Halfway through the apps we were floating on cloud 9, but by the end I was googling wheelbarrow rentals to get me out of there. They were all so good! My only complaint is that I didn’t ask for a bottle of ketchup. The fries were served with a few delicious sauces (creamy parmesan, sweet bbq, etc.) but nothing compares to the classic fries and ketchup.

As most food lovers know, even when you’re stomach is full, you still have room in your “dessert stomach.” This was the case for me after lunch so we headed over to Glazed and Infused for one of my favorite treats: their vanilla bean glazed donut.

Image

It looks pale in comparison to some of the other selections they have, but I always usually sample something a little more dangerous and then stick with my vanilla bean. It’s just too good!

We spent the rest of the afternoon at “The Wolf of Wall Street” which I LOVED. It was over 3 hours but well worth it.  The rest of the night was spent drinking sugary concoctions, playing Just Dance, and bar hopping with friends. It was the perfect birthday.

ImageImageImage

I also can’t forget the incredible birthday cake that my mom made for my brother and me–flourless chocolate! It took her so much time and effort but it was insaaaanely good (especially with a hot cup of coffee).

Image

Cake for breakfast is ALWAYS acceptable on your birthday.

The rest of the weekend was low key because a) Friday was just too much and b) temps have dipped down into (wait for it) THE NEGATIVES. Yep, that’s right, it’s -18 right now in Chicago, but with wind chills 40 BELOW. I heard this morning that it’s colder here than in the South Pole. Say what?

Since it was still my birthday weekend, we made the boys cook for us.  Spencer used to work at Noodles and Company so he put his skills to use.

Image

Image

It turned out great! The only thing I’d change next time is to add spinach, but the grocery store was out of a lot of stuff (I’m not kidding when I say it’s a snowpocalypse here).

Here are a few other eats from the weekend before I sign out and snuggle under some blankets for a night of BCS football or The Bachelor (depending on which side of my brain wins the battle).

Image

Scrambled eggs and Kodiak cakes

Image

Shrimp diablo tacos from On the Border (they look better than they tasted but the rice, beans, and limitless chips and salsa more than made up for it)

Image

Scrambled eggs with bell peppers, onions, and cheddar cheese. Veggie sausage on the side.

Image

Cocoa Krispies make the best late-night snack

Image

Vegan chili and a jalapeno corn muffin

I’ll be back tomorrow with a more fitness-inspired post. Those have been scarce lately because my workouts have been so monotonous, but I promise I’ll try to shake it up this week!

Questions:

  • Do you like celebrating your birthday?
  • If you could be eating anything in the world right now, what would you eat?
  • What’s the coldest weather you’ve ever experienced?