ice cream

Memorial Day 2014: Girls Weekend in Lake Geneva

Good morning guys! Anyone else crazy confused about what day it is? I’m sure most people have gotten over the novelty of the holiday weekend but man it was so good that I just can’t move past it! How could I complain, though, about a fast-moving week? I’m basically in the express lane to the weekend!

It’s rainy and humid here in Chicago on this foggy morning but it seems like summer is finally here to stay. I’m going to take what I can get and not mention how sad I am that we skipped spring, one of my favorite seasons growing up. Considering it was snowing in the suburbs just weeks ago, however, I should really count my blessings that June seems to be right on schedule.

Okay enough with the chit-chat. I have to tell you about my trip!

First things first, if you’re in the Midwest and need an escape, look no further than the beautiful Lake Geneva. I’m not sure if it was the weather, the quaint little shops, our animated hotel Concierge named Chad, or the excitement of all being together, but my friends and I had an absolutely incredible trip.

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I woke up early Saturday morning to get a quick run in before my friend Jordan picked me up for the trip. Sidenote: I love the suburb where I’m from. I always make fun of the suburbs of Chicago and how happy I am that I now live in the city, but there’s something so comforting about being able to go home. It’s safe, slow, and has beautiful running routes.

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I could just keep running for days…

Anyway, after a quick run to Trader Joe’s to pick up beach snacks we were on our way! I was particularly excited because it was the perfect excuse to use my new picnic basket. There’s a smidgen of 50s housewife in my blood so this made me way too happy.

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Snacks included Trader Joe’s greek yogurt kale and spinach dip (it really is as amazing as it sounds) alongside carrots, chopped celery, and whole wheat pita crackers. Oh and homemade “sangria” – white wine, Fresca, and frozen berries. Don’t knock it til you try it!

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Best news of the weekend: I didn’t burn! Besides a little redness on my chest I didn’t leave Lake Geneva a hobbling lobster like I usually do. Point, Lauren.

Because I know you’re curious, we definitely ate our way through the city. Between the best ice cream in the country from Kilwin’s (toasted coconut with chocolate shavings) to the slow roasted, pulled chicken sandwich from a lakeside joint called Popeye’s, it’s safe to say I left Lake Geneva stuffed and satisfied. Oh and did I mention they have the cutest Starbucks I’ve ever seen? It was adorable!

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I was almost too embarrassed to put the following picture up, but, CRAB CAKES and garlic dressing. Does it get any better than that?

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Oh and just so you don’t think I went to Lake Geneva alone… 🙂

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I can’t tell you how great it was to have a girls weekend with my friends. It’s been a year since we graduated and even though it seems like our lives are going in all different directions, we’ve done a pretty good job of staying friends. These girls mean the world to me and I’m so lucky that we all lived on the same dorm floor freshman year. I remember leaving for my first year of school and my mom telling me how important it would be to make girlfriends in college. I always had a few girlfriends but mostly guy friends in high school thanks to having a serious boyfriend at the time. I didn’t know if I would make new friends, let alone a group like this. But it happened and now I have friends for life thanks to these lovely women. I really can’t express enough how great it is to have a loving, supportive group of friends like this and it was wonderful to take a three day vacation with them. Oh and did I mention we got friendship bracelets? 23 going on 12 🙂

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Questions:

  • I know I’m late to the party but tell me about your weekend!
  • Are you still close with your friends from college?

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Date Night!

Tonight I experienced a whole new neighborhood in the city of Chicago: Wicker Park!

I’ve never been to that neighborhood before so I didn’t know what to expect but thankfully I was blown away by how cool it was.  I might be biased, but Chicago is the best. It has everything!

Before I had date night which, as you may have guessed, did not include healthy eating (I stopped my detox diet last night with a wedding reception…hey 6 days is pretty darn good!) so I made sure to get in a good workout beforehand.

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30 minutes on the stairmaster alternating speeds back and forth every 2 minutes

20 minutes on the elliptical

20 minute upper body workout (3 types of curls, overhead tricep extensions, shoulder raises)

Then I was off to explore the city!

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Wicker Park is a Chicago neighborhood northwest of the Loop.  It was full of young people, (mostly hipsters, let’s be real), outdoor patio bars, eccentric shops, narrow houses, and hidden gardens. I. Loved. It.

The thing about Chicago is that these “neighborhoods” are all connected by the CTA, an above-ground subway system, so you can just jet from one to the next in no time.  Each one has its own flair so every time you get off at a stop you are immersed in a whole new corner of the city.

I have wanted to try Piece Pizza for almost seven years now after a coworker in high school mentioned its deliciousness.  Being that I was 16, barely licensed to drive, and too scared to be out of the suburbs past dark, I never made the trek. But today seemed like the perfect opportunity!

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It was about a half an hour wait, which I was surprised at considering it was a Sunday night at 8pm! Even though I was starving, I knew that a wait like that meant the food had to be something special, so the boy and I took a walk around the neighborhood.  It was a gorgeous summer night in Chicago–those have been few and far between–so it was the perfect way to pass the time.

When we finally got seated, it took just a few minutes of perusing the menu to figure out what we wanted. Piece is cool because you have a few “base” options (red sauce with mozzarella, white, or bbq sauce) and then you can build your pie from there.  They had everything from basil to clams and even mashed potatoes.  After asking the waiter what his favorite pizza was (I always get the opinion of the server at restaurants), we made our choice.  Large red pizza, half spinach/onion/green pepper, half spinach/bacon.

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Ummmm hello, gorgeous.  I think I’m officially the worst kind of sinner–I think I liked this pizza more than deep dish (pause as all of Chicagoland gasps in horror). It was just so flavorful and chewy but crispy at the same time and the toppings were the perfect amount and the cheese was just right and …. I mean come on.  Look at that thing. That pizza definitely excuses that horrible run on sentence that just happened.  Basically, Piece Pizza is my new place.

Finally, I knew I wanted to go all out.  I’ve been hearing whispers about an ice cream place in Wicker Park that uses LIQUID NITROGEN to individually create your ice cream. Being in the area and not going to that delicious laboratory would have been an atrocity to foodies everywhere, so we stopped by.  It was really cool!

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At first I wasn’t sold on my ice cream because it melted so so fast once it hit my tongue, but I started to realize with each bite that it was some of the most flavorful ice cream I had ever had. I had a mix of butter pecan and caramel with pecans folded into it, and it was truly one of the most delicious butter pecans I have ever had.  It was definitely different, but in a great way.  Wayyyy overpriced, but it had to be tried!

Such an amazing Sunday night!  Have a great week, everyone!