French

a day at the beach

It was a perfect 75 degrees in downtown Chicago today, complete with a beaming sun and comforting breeze. It was definitely a beach day.

I made plans to meet up with some friends at Oak Street Beach for the afternoon, so I knew I had to get a workout in beforehand.  On a day when you’re rocking a bikini you definitely have to have the confidence and endorphins in your body that only come from a good workout. 

Crazy enough, I’m still sore from Monday’s bootcamp workout, so I took it pretty easy and didn’t work the muscles that were still sore.

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I spy with my little eye….one of the only people working out in the gym!  I went on the elliptical for 45 minutes, alternating resistance every 5-10 minutes to keep it challenging.

Followed by the best and greatest ab workout of the past 30 years:

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Oh 8 minute abs, you’ll never go out of style.

I got showered and ready to go, but of course didn’t miss breakfast.

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1 cup Kashi GoLean Crunch, 1 banana, 1.5 cups almond milk

I had to walk from my boyfriend’s apartment to the beach where my friends were.  I say “had to” like it was a tough walk, but really it looked something like this:

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Tough view, I know.

Well, besides getting burned (I’ll never learn) and being surrounded by a camp full of 11 year olds with iPhones (crazy), it was a gorgeous day at the beach.

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After about 3 hours Megan and I got antsy, so we decided to leave and take a walk down Michigan Avenue.  Since Megan just moved back she hasn’t explored Chicago in awhile and it’s just so nice to stroll down the main streets, taking in the shops, sights, and everyday happenings of the city.

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Hint: walk in, get free sample, walk out. Day=made

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One of the most interesting things happening this weekend in Chicago is the Windy City Rubber Duck Derby. It’s an event where people can “adopt” a rubber duck and watch as it is placed in the Chicago River and competes against other quacks in a floating race to the finish line.  The event benefits the Special Olympics, and I think it’s just one of the coolest ideas. Plus all the banners around town to “Adopt a Duck!” were too cute.

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We grabbed a late lunch before I had to catch the train home.

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I had a Nicoise Salad! It totally reminded me of my time studying abroad in Paris.  It was made up of tuna with capers, green beans, hard-boiled eggs, a few small roasted potatoes, tomatoes, and butter lettuce dressed with a Dijon vinaigrette.  Baguette on the side, of course 🙂  This was so refreshing and filling at the same time (and worth it, even though it was a very expensive middle-of-the-day meal).

I had just a few minutes to spare before I had to head to Union Station to catch the train home, but Megan and I knew we wanted to take a picture at The Bean for fun on such a sunny day.  The Bean, aka Cloud Gate (but you’ll never hear a Chicagoan call it that), is essentially a sculpture that sits in the middle of one of the biggest parks in Chicago (Millennium Park).  It won a design competition about a decade ago, and while some people said it wasn’t possible to construct and wouldn’t be popular anyway, it has become a Chicago sensation.

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I mean, come on! It’s just so unique.  There’s nothing in the world quite like seeing a reflection of yourself.

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Oh, and did I mention it’s Tourist Central? It’s always jam-packed with people trying to Instagram their reflection or come up with the coolest new pose to do in front of it with their friends. We just had to sneak a quick, cute picture in.  And I’m glad we did! It was the perfect ending to a long, fun day.

The train ride was longgggggggggg (and I almost got away without paying but my Honest Abe ways got the best of me).  It was made better by this (surprisingly) delicious iced coffee from Corner Bakery.

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Caffeine is appropriate no matter the hour.

I hope you all felt the sunshine in your cities today too! It finally feels like summer 🙂

 

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Jazzin’ at the Shedd

Even though yesterday was one of the *hottest* and *most humid* days I’ve experienced in awhile, it was incredible.  Who knew hump day could be so much fun??

I slept in nice and late Wednesday and got up for a quick 5 mile run before catching the train downtown.

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It was time for another date night! This past week Z and I have been able to squeeze in 2 date nights which is pretty remarkable considering how much we both work (him during the day, me at night).  We had plans to go to the Shedd Aquarium downtown!

It kept sporadically raining on my walk from Union Station to where we were meeting on Michigan Avenue, so we decided to take meet at a Walgreens and take refuge in there until the rain stopped.  While beating the heat in the frozen food aisle, we used trusty ol’ Yelp to find somewhere to eat dinner before heading to the aquarium.  Fortunately, there was a hidden French cafe just around the corner!

For those of you who don’t know me, I live and breaaathe all things French.  I was a French language minor in college and studied abroad in Paris for a semester, and have traveled two other times to the lovely country.  Aside from the beautiful language and culture, I *adore* French food.  So seeing the words “Patisserie and Cafe” pop up on Yelp got me super excited!

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Oh my gosh it was perfect.

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The cafe was full of dark espresso, sparkling wines, gooey macarons and classic french sandwiches on crusty baguettes. I think I died and went to heaven.

I ordered an old standby: croque monsieur! It’s basically a ham and cheese sandwich on steroids. To round of the meal, my (daily) guilty pleasure while I was studying in Paris: a chocolate macaron!

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Om nom nom. We ate those sandwiches so fast and even Z (the plainest eater on the planet) loved it: he even said it was better than Subway. Life’s little victories.

After dinner we took a walk through Millennium Park to get to the aquarium.

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After taking a few much-needed breaks (85% humidity will do that to you), we were finally at the Shedd Aquarium!

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Every Wednesday throughout the summer, the Shedd Aquarium puts on an event called “Jazzin’ at the Shedd”.  You get access to the whole aquarium after hours, and then get to head outside for cocktails, live jazz music, and spectacular views of the city as the sun slowly goes down. If you live in Chicago or are planning a visit, it’s something I definitely recommend.  It can get crowded and it’s not free, but it’s such a wonderful thing to experience.

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The event ended with fireworks coming off of Navy Pier. It doesn’t get more “summer” than that.

All in all, a spectacular night. There’s nothing like summer in Chicago!