Tag Archives: Chicago

Mindful Monday: April Goals

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I still haven’t finished the book. It sits on my dining table, my bedside table, and the couch and every once in a while, I pick it up and read a chapter or two. But it’s not because it’s a slow read, it’s because I’m savoring it. There are very few books that make me feel the way this one does. It calms me but motivates me. It reminds me that my life is about making me happy and nothing else. I know it sounds selfish but a lot of making myself happy means helping other people be happy too. 🙂 I’m talking about the Happiness Project. It’s amazing. Read more about it in my Healthful, Happy, and Loving Project post.

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So, as promised, I will continue my efforts by revising and adding to my March Goals.

First, My Commandments. I read a list of these every morning. It reminds me what to focus on when I start to lose my footing.

  • Just because it’s fun for someone else, doesn’t mean it’s fun for me.
  • Me is the perfect person for me to be. (< I realized that I don’t actually have a lot of trouble with this one)
  • It’s NOT “doing nothing,” it IS “active relaxation.”
  • Life is play, not an endless stream of work.
  • A true smile and laugh can change a whole conversation.
  • Want what I already have.
  • I don’t have to be good at everything
  • When I’m sad, stop thinking of the future. Just smile and make that moment happier.
  • Be happy when I succeed.

Second, a review of March Goals.

  • Take a 5-minute walk down the block, every morning between shower and work. SLOWLY. (This was amazingly effective. It slowed me down after rushing around all morning like a headless chicken. It helped me be more productive and relaxed during the work day.)
  • When I’m sad, stop thinking of the future. Just smile and try to make that moment happier. 
    (I actually didn’t have too many unhappy moments in 2 weeks but I anticipate that they will happen. So I’m adding it to the commandments.)
  • Choose a day of the week to talk to each parent and sibling. Like I do with Gran. (Did this!)
  • Read this list every day. (Great reminder and totally necessary for this project)
  • Remember to be happy when I succeed. (Something I DEFINITELY need to work on. This is added to the Commandments.)

And finally! My April Goals:

  • Continue the daily, 10-minute walks.
  • Create a folder for design inspiration. I read lots of design magazines and websites. Visiting the Frank Lloyd Wright designs in Chicago this weekend made me realize how much pent-up design energy I have. I want to have a folder on my computer for digital archives and a physical folder for magazine and newspaper articles. I’m hoping this will help me start sketching again too.
  • Learn to cook with the Vitamix: juice, smoothies, soup, and ice cream. I got my tax return so I’m going to buy it today. YAY!!
  • Finish the two health books I’ve been page through for the last 2 months.
  • Eat at least one raw meal per day.
  • Have at least one entirely vegetarian day per week.
  • Read this list every day.

I’ll keep you updated with part of this that are working and parts that aren’t. Did anyone else read this book and love it?

Ashley Life Update:
Mike and I spent this weekend in Oak Park, a suburb just outside Chicago. We were celebrating our 1-year anniversary and seeing a few sites that we hadn’t got to yet. We don’t know where we’ll be moving in June so we want to see as much of Chicago as possible. We stayed at an eccentric yet absolutely lovely Bed and Breakfast. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about opening my own Healthy B&B. To the extent that I’ve designed most of the rooms in my head and know the general rules that I’d like to operate under (ie. huge, comfy beds and soft towels, simple healthy meals, and a gym for sure). Now I just have to figure out where the money will come from. Hah.

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Mike took the NRA intro to guns class I got him for Christmas well I slept off the lingering and oh-so-annoying flu. Then he met me at FLW’s Robie House in Hyde Park. That night was spent out on the town. We don’t like to party much but when we have a free night and a city full of entertainment, we take advantage. Mike treated me to a very chic, very delicious dinner at an underground jazz/prohibition bar and then we went dancing uptown.

Sunday (Easter!) was spent touring the FLW house and studio around the corner from our B&B and visited Trader Joes (man I miss that place!) before the 3 hour drive back to Peoria. We sort of just ignored easter. Much to my chagrin, without any kids or parents around, there wasn’t any good excuse for an Easter egg hunt.

I hope you all had relaxing and family filled holidays! Love and hugs – Ash

 

Marvelous Monday: Hot Dogs, Museum, and a Luxury Hotel

Living in a relatively small city immediately after graduation was (and still is) a big shock to me. It’s not because of the different types of people and it’s not even because I’m far from home, it’s the lack of variation! I realized it when I was walking around Chicago this weekend. No one stares at me because I have short hair and am wearing a gorgeous red coat. I know this sounds hyperbolic but I’m totally serious. I’ve found myself toning down my level of “urban” and it wasn’t until this weekend that I fully realized it.

Needless to say, it was wonderfully liberating to be in Chicago again this weekend. I met my best friend in the entire world, Sarah. She flew from North Carolina to meet me and, of course, it was epic. Somehow, when we get together, we manage to find the most incredible deals on some really swanky experiences. So instead of writing it all down, I’ll show you some photos!

*Credit to Sarah for most of the photos. Pick them out by spotting the good ones.*

Day One:

858717_10100863993292329_723608124_o^ This restaurant is called the Pump Room (in the Public Hotel). Before we got here, Sarah found a voucher for a gourmet meal on GiltCity.com. Mixology cocktails, tuna tartare, apple and brie toast,  lobster ravioli, and a caramel corn salted sundae. We ate until midnight and then collapsed in our hotel room.

Day Two:

We obviously had to see The Bean (cloudgate). This is by far my favorite monument in any city that I’ve seen. It is really a gorgeous shape and it brings together every view of the inside of the city. Also, it’s REALLY fun to take pictures with it.

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We both felt like absorbing a little culture (and keeping out of the freezing weather outside) so we checked out the Art Institute. The building was very beautiful and the exhibits were right up our alley (they even had one of Studio Gang Architects).

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Then we ditched the cultural stuff and headed about 15 minutes outside the city to Hot Dougs. This place serves the most unbelievable hot dog I’ve ever seen. We checked out the reviews online and decided on the following: Duck dog with foie gras and truffle aoili, rabbit dog with ricotta cheese and raspberry preserves, 2 normal dogs with all the toppings, and cheese fries.

We had to wait outside in 20°F for ONE HOUR to even get inside this place. It was packed. But once we did order, it was pretty affordable and the dogs were to die for. The only time Sarah and I are ever quiet is when we are hungry and when we are mowing down food like this.

IMG_1022 ^ We even got to meat (haha) Doug himself!

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That night we stayed in and enjoyed our most luxurious hotel room and some deep dish pizza.

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This hotel room needs some further explanation. As I mentioned, Sarah and I find the most amazing bargains. I found this hotel room at Swisshotel (they are usually upwards of $200) for $110 a night on Bookit.com. It was SO worth the effort. This place was so nice that we WANTED to stay in and enjoy it. I took photos of the tiny details so you would understand.

IMG_1030 ^ Bedside table: light switches for the whole room, an alarm clock AND ipod player, and outlets on the lamp. Perfection.

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^ A CLEAN tub and a shower. Also, please note the phone next to the toilet. If you’re wondering, of course I used it.

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^ When the maids came in, they straightened up our shoes and toiletries and the room was sparkling.

IMG_1031^ There was a Keurig coffee maker with free K-cups. And wine glasses and bottle openers. These people knew we were coming.

We spent Sunday chatting and doing some shopping (aka bargain hunting) before Sarah had to fly out. It was MUCH too short of a stay but absolutely wonderful all the same. There’s nothing like the company of your best girlfriend 🙂

Sunday Seriously Fun Day!

Whew! What a weekend! Mike and I just finished unpacking from an action filled, awesomely adventurous weekend in Chicago. We did a little bit more of celebrating my birthday and a lot more of exploring Illinois. I can officially say that, as an architecture nerd (aka Archie), foodie, and culture lover, I LOVE Chicago. It’s like a perfect cross between Boston (my most favorite city) and NYC (my least favorite). So many gorgeous parks and mindblowing architecture. I just love it.

Because of the fact that I workout and eat right pretty much every day of the week, when I go on vacation, I’m on vacation. I learned this from my Momma and it works out pretty well. You get to enjoy the leisure of sleeping in and eating whatever strikes your fancy for a few days AND it’s a fantastic reminder of why I live the way I do. I now feel like a donkey’s rear end. An ass’s ass you might say. I am incredibly lethargic, having stomach cramps and bloating, and sore everywhere from a lack of stretching and muscle strengthening.

On that note, here is a photo montage of our weekend in the Windy City.

Question: For those of you following via email, can you see these photos in your message?

^ View of the skyline from the ferris wheel on Navy Pier.

^ Had to hit up Trader Joe’s to stock up on the cheap almond butter and other treats.

^ Mike and I at the Bean (aka Cloud Gate) in Millenium Park. Definitely my favorite area of the city.

^ We went to the Grand Lux Cafe for my birthday lunch. SO GOOD. Thanks Mom and Dad!

^Let’s start with a pineapple basil mojito and fresh calamari with zucchini and onion.

^ Kobe Meatballs with Cheesy Polenta.

^ Happy Belated Birthday to me!

^ Lava cake. When I broke it open the chocolate sauce poured out. I almost hyperventilated with glee.

^ Aw. He’s my best friend and my love. 🙂

^ Gorgeous drive home. Go sustainable energy!!

It was a fantastic weekend with my wonderful boyfriend. Thanks to my Mom and Dad for giving us a chance to live like we have money. I’m such a happy camper.

Maybe my smiles tonight will radiate all over the world and rub off on you guys 🙂

I’m in Chicago!

Mike and I are away for the weekend in Chicago. It’s my first time here and, for an architecture graduate like me, it’s really exciting. Right now we’re at a Cubs v Cardinals game at Wrigley.

I’m breaking all the rules today and drinking beer AND ball park pretzels AND even a bite of hot dog! Sometimes you just need these “vacation” days to enjoy all that a city has to offer.

Anyway, I hope everyone is having a wonderful day. Longer blog later tomorrow!

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^ He is SO unphotogenic! Haha. I love him for it.

Don’t forget to smile!