CHICAGO, ENTERTAINMENT, FOOD, weekend

Lazy Weekend Highlights

Happy Sunday! Here with a few highlights from my lazy weekend. I usually like to have lots planned for the weekend, but this weekend I definitely just needed to relax. Connor and I didn’t do much this weekend, but there were a few eventful moments.

On Friday night we got ramen for dinner. I am on a quest to try all of the ramen places in Chicago. We ended up at Ramen Takeya in the Fulton Market. We went around 7pm, so it was a bit crowded, but we definitely went at a good time. The wait was less than 20 minutes and our food came out fast. We got brussel sprouts for an appetizer and they were so good. They were really flakey and had a hint of lemon which I liked.

I got the vegan ramen and added an egg per usual. Connor got a shio ramen. He wasn’t a huge fan of his. I don’t think he liked the broth, but I loved mine. I didn’t love some of the toppings, but the broth was so flavorful. After ramen, we watched New Girl and ordered Insomnia cookies for a little treat. We got a few different flavors. Connor liked the red velvet best and I liked the peanut butter best.

We did nothing all day on Saturday, but did meet up with two friends for drinks and dinner. We went to Happy Camper and got pizzas to share. I shared a veggie option with Benny and Connor shared one with Zach. I think the pizzas were called Glenn and Mike, but I could be wrong about that. I also got a really yummy drink. It had gin and basil in it. I’m definitely going to recreate it at home sometime. After drinks and dinner, we went out for a little, but I still got home decently early. I love getting lots of sleep on the weekend.

A final highlight of the weekend was grocery shopping. Connor and I don’t go grocery shopping too often because we usually try to stock up each time. I went a couple weeks ago, so we were due for a grocery run. Instead of going to Aldi, we drove to Mariano’s so we could get a bunch of stuff– ingredients to make tacos, some ramen ingredients, lots of soup (I was craving soup hahah), fruit, and lots more. I am glad we went to a bigger grocery store. Aldi doesn’t have a ton of variety, so it’s nice to try different things. I did miss how easy it was to shop. At Aldi, I always get the same things and know exactly where everything is.

I am happy we were able to relax a bit this weekend, but I’m excited to do something more adventurous next weekend. What did you do this weekend? Do you like to have a lot planned on the weekend or do you prefer to rest up and relax?

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goals, HEALTH, hobbies, LIFE, running

Things I Want To Invest More In

Hello everyone! I am back with a new post. I feel like I am really starting to get the hang of my new schedule. It is so nice knowing exactly when I am going to post. I feel super happy when I keep on schedule, but love that I am also writing things I feel like writing, and not just posting to post (hopefully that made sense).

Anyway, I was thinking about the things I invest my time, money, energy, etc. in after listening to a podcast. Shout out to my constant favorite podcast, “What We Said.” The podcast definitely inspired me to consider investments I am making.

Here are 3 things I want to invest more in:

Hair Care/Products: The girls on “What We Said” interviewed a hair stylist who is super successful and great at her job. One thing they discussed at the end was hair products and what the best ones are for your hair. The overall podcast was great and inspiring, but this particular topic got me thinking about the products I use and how much I invest in my hair. I would say I invest very little in this area. I have brown hair and I like the color, so I don’t need to color it or do anything like that. I don’t really style my hair too different each day either. I usually have it in a ponytail, straight, or in a braid. I don’t like to use a lot of heat on my hair, which is good I would say. However, I should invest a bit more time into making my hair look more put together. I should also relearn how to French braid because those always look cute. Additionally, I don’t invest in the products I use. In the podcast they mentioned how most shampoos are mostly made of wax and other ingredients that weigh your hair down. I want to look into a more high end, healthy, or more natural shampoo and conditioner to take better care of my hair, and maybe give it a bit more volume. I could definitely use the volume haha.

Cooking: One of my resolutions for this year was to learn to cook. I can’t say I have made huge strides toward this goal yet, but it is something I am working on little by little. Connor and I have a few cook books, I have so many Pinterest recipes saved, and my mom compiled all of my favorite recipes for me in a little booklet. So basically, I am set when it comes to the actual instructions and meal ideas. For me, the hardest part is investing my time in cooking. I am good about getting my oatmeal ready in the morning, but that isn’t actual cooking. What I find is that I am tired or lazy after work and don’t want to take 30-40 minutes to prepare a meal. I definitely need to invest a bit more time into cooking dinner. One thing that has helped me so far is planning ahead on meals I want to make, and getting the ingredients all at once. I usually run into the issue of not having an ingredient and deciding not to make the meal. Having the ingredients on hand, or even making a substitution for the ingredient are helpful for me. So far, I have invested more time into the dinners I have cooked this week (veggie burrito bowls, ramen, etc.) and I am much more satisfied with the final product.

Fitness: I have always been pretty good about exercising and going to the gym/running. I am not always super motivated to do it, but as long as I make time, it is something I truly enjoy. I have so many exercise and health related goals, and I don’t prioritize them as much as I should. With work, keeping my apartment in order, going on adventures, my hobbies, etc., I can sort of push fitness to the back burner. One thing I have been thinking about and that I want to invest more time and money into is fitness. I have never been a big workout class person, but there are a bunch of classes that I want to try out. I think spending a little bit on classes would be a fun way to mix things up, but also give a little more motivation. I also want to join a gym closer to my apartment. It doesn’t need to be a super fancy gym, but I think having an option closer to home would be great because I don’t always want to work out at the gym in my office building. Plus, I don’t think winter is ever going to end here and I can’t say I love running on the icy sidewalks.

In order to make sure I am investing the time and resources necessary into these areas of my life, I will have small goals to work up to. Research and planning are the two first steps for all of them. Researching good shampoos/hair products for my hair, planning meals for the week & getting the ingredients, and looking into different gyms and classes are all great first steps. Investing in these areas of my life will take a little bit of time, but I know I will be happier and healthier for it.

What is something you want to invest more time, money, or energy into? Do you have any recommendations for hair products, yummy recipes (vegetarian please haha), or fun workout classes (or inexpensive gyms)?

TRAVEL

Planning Summer Trips

Summer is when my job is the busiest, but I want to continue traveling and taking weekend road trips. Since it is freezing out and always snowing, I am thinking about the various trips I want to take. Connor and I look up flights every day or every few days, so we can plan ahead.

I imagine most of our travels this summer will be close enough for us to drive and will involve outdoor activities. We have put a lot of trip ideas on hold waiting for warmer weather. I don’t think either of us want to go hiking in the snow or freezing temperatures, so we opted to wait on those trips.

Here’s a brief list of places we are going/considering for some long weekends:

1. Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan

2. The Indiana Dunes

3. Garden of the Gods State Park in Illinois

4. New York City

5. Seattle, Washington

6. South Dakota

7. Denver, Colorado

8. Isle Royale National Park in Michigan

9. Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota

10. Indianapolis, Indiana to see family of course!

Not sure which we will end of venturing to, but most are a short drive from Chicago, so hopefully those will happen! Where is one place you want to visit this summer?

FAVORITES

Current Favorites

I usually do these at the beginning or end of the month, but here we are in the middle of February with a favorites post. I got a few gifts for my birthday and Christmas that I have been loving. There are also some other random things thrown in here. I linked most of the clothing/products within the post if you want to check out any of the things I mentioned!

1. Outdoor Voices leggings: I ordered a pair of these leggings on Black Friday. They were really discounted and I heard great things about them! I got them in the color Scarlett and I love them. The red color is fun and reminds me of IU. The fabric is super comfy and I like that the waist can be adjusted so they aren’t falling down during a run. They are a bit pricey, but definitely worth it. Outdoor voices has other clothes too, and I want to get the matching workout top to the pants sometime!

2. Quip toothbrush: My dad got me this toothbrush for Christmas. I have the gold metal one. I decided shortly before Christmas that I really wanted an electric toothbrush, so I was pretty excited. I love that it times out brushing to 2 minutes, so you make sure you are brushing long enough. I also like how clean my teeth feel after using it. The toothbrushes are pretty affordable and come in many different colors!

3. Trader Joe’s Rose Face Mask: This mask came in a set of three and I have mentioned the trio in a previous post. I think I paid 6 or 7 dollars for all three masks, and this is my favorite. I love the rose scent and the way it makes my face feel so clean and hydrated. It’s very affordable, so if you are looking to try out face masks, this could be a good starter. I don’t see it online for the price I paid, but keep an eye out for it in stores!

4. Velvet SPANX leggings: I got these for my birthday back in December. I had heard a bit about SPANX leggings from influencers I follow on Instagram. They are a bit pricy, but look great with a lot of different outfits. I like that they are velvet because they can make a plain, casual outfit look more fun! I wear them with sweaters and boots mainly, but I have worn them with a sweatshirt and sneakers, too!

5. Little hoop earrings: I have been wearing my small hoop earrings for the past two months or so. I got a pack at Target last spring and I love them. I have a gold pair and a silver pair. I usually stick to silver, but prefer the gold. They make you look more put together and add a little sparkle to even the plainest outfits. I linked a similar pair here in gold.

6. Running: I have been pretty good about running lately. It has been fun and relaxing to run after work. I haven’t gone this week, mostly because it has been so cold, but I am making sure to prioritize it more. I find myself smiling on the treadmill and wanting to run longer, so I’d say it’s been going well.

7. Cottage cheese: My love for cottage cheese is back. I have been putting it on my cauliflower rice and just eating it as a side for lunch. I love putting pepper on it to add a little spice. It’s so filling and full of protein. I usually get the Friendly Farms brand at Aldi, but if you are near a Kroger, their cottage cheese is much better.

8. “Just for a Moment” by Gryffin: This is my favorite song right now. I love running to it and honestly smile walking through the city when I listen to it. You gotta love a song that gets you pumped up to workout or just generally excited about life.

9. Peet’s Coffee: Peet’s is on track to be my favorite chain coffee shop ever. I go way too often. I love that they have matcha because other coffee shops nearby don’t. They even have a golden matcha right now, which is good too. The people are nice and know my order. There is also an app to get rewards and it just feels a lot better in the actual shop than places like Dunkin’ (still love Dunkin’) or a Starbucks (not a Starbucks fan though).

What were some of your favorites right now? Any song or podcast recommendations? I am trying to listen to more music because I am always listening to podcasts.

ENTERTAINMENT, TRAVEL

Random Thoughts & Updates

Happy Valentine’s Day! This week has felt so long and I’m so tired– probably from traveling a bunch last week and trying to get things done after work. It’s weird because I really don’t have too much to say on here. I have had so many post ideas and blogs scheduled out recently, so I was shocked when there wasn’t anything specific I felt like sharing. This post will be more of a ramble of thoughts and updates on my life.

First off, I have been loving the podcasts I listen to as always! “What We Said” brings the best topics each week. I’d say there have been 2 podcasts I didn’t love, but other than that I always feel so inspired to get stuff done and make changes in my life. The others podcasts I listen to aren’t necessarily as inspiring or motivating, but I truly like listening to them chat and just share details of their week or their advice on things. Starting my day off with a podcast is so much more energizing that music.

Next topic (told you this was going to be all over the place) is Netflix. Connor and I started New Girl a little over a week ago and I’m obsessed. It’s sort of incredible how quickly I get attached to shows. It’s like every show I watch is my new favorite. I love New Girl because it’s easy to watch and so funny. I can’t decide who my favorite character is still. Nick is probably my favorite, but Schmidt is so funny. And Winston might make me laugh the most. As I said, I can’t decide (lol). It’s nice coming home from a long day and watching a few episodes.

I have mentioned starting a podcast quite a few times on here. This month and next, I want to focus on actually getting it started up. Connor and I have a mic we can use, so now we have to decide what site we want to host our podcast on. We also need to get some ideas together and decide on a name. I have a lot of ideas already, but we also need to consider how long we want the podcast to be. If you listen to podcasts, what is the ideal podcast length for you? If you have a podcast, do you have any advice?

I guess the last thing that has been on my mind lately is where I want to travel next. Weekend trips are the most ideal for my work schedule and my budget, so I have been trying to figure out where to go next. Connor and I have considered California, Colorado, Seattle, Texas, and maybe somewhere on the East Coast. I definitely want to go on a more adventurous trip because Miami was more of a “vacation” type of trip. I imagine Connor and I will keep looking up flight prices and base our decision on that! Where do you think we should travel next?

If you read this far, thank you for sticking with me through my ramble. Sometimes it is nice to get my thoughts down in blog form. Get ready for some more structured blog posts next week and follow along on my Instagram (@adventure__with__ellie) if you want to be even more updated on my adventures!

ENTERTAINMENT, FAVORITES, FOOD, TRAVEL

Must-See In Miami

Connor and I took a long weekend in Miami, Florida. We have both been to Miami a few times, so we had an idea of places we wanted to go, and places we didn’t want to go. I was super excited for the trip because of the warmth, the beach, and some places I wanted to try/see. Here are some recommendations for a trip to Miami (these are basically the highlights of our trip this past weekend).

1. The Salty Donut: I was really looking forward to this spot and it did not disappoint. We went to breakfast on Friday morning. The Salty Donut is in Wynwood, so it was a perfect first stop for our day. We got 4 different donuts, as well as 2 donut holes. We tried Strawberry Shortcake, Hazelnut Chocolate, Guava & Cheese, and Pomegranate Citrus. The donut holes were Strawberry Mimosa and I loved them. They may have been my favorite. When you visit, you definitely need to try the Strawberry Shortcake. It was incredible. I do not recommend the Hazelnut Chocolate, but that may be personal preference. They are always creating new flavors, so I’d recommend checking out Instagram to see which donuts they have before you go! Overall, an amazing shop and perfect donuts.

2. Wynwood Walls: Wynwood is definitely my favorite part of Miami, other than the beach. It’s so colorful and full of great food/drink spots. The murals are awesome. There is the main Wynwood Wall area that opens and closes each day, but there are also tons of other murals throughout. You could walk around for an hour or 2 and still miss some cool ones.

3. Miami Mojito Company: Connor and I had our share of mojitos in Miami. One of our favorite places we had them at was a little bar that only served mojitos. It is also in Wynwood and surrounded by other bars and restaurants. It had a ton of different flavors (ginger, raspberry, blackberry, mango, etc.) We got raspberry and blackberry and you could taste how fresh they were. The actual bar is adorable too. The seating definitely increased since we were there last year, so it was a great spot to hang out!

4. The Wood Tavern: This is a bar in Wynwood as well. It’s cool because there is an indoor part and an outdoor park. The drinks are typical of most bars, but there are also some signature cocktails. I didn’t have a cocktail I loved this time around, but I loved the one I got last year. It’s a great place to go with friends, to sit outside, or even dance (there is a pretty big dance floor and a DJ). The drinks aren’t too pricy either, which is another plus!

5. 1-800 Lucky: I love this place. It’s basically a food hall/club with all sorts of Asian inspired food. There is Thai food, poke, sushi, dumplings, ramen, ice cream, etc. It is also a bar and there is a DJ. I have never gotten a drink there, but I’d suspect they are pretty good since the bar area is always so crowded. The music is good and pretty loud. I have tried a few different places in there: the poke is great, the veggie dumplings are yummy, and I got the matcha/sesame ice cream over spring break last year (highly recommend).

6. Little Havana: Connor and I had a hard time finding Little Havana, but it was well worth the walk. I’m pretty sure we just got out of the Uber a bit too soon. I definitely recommend driving/Ubering to the Visitors Center. It puts you right in the heart of Little Havana. There are tons of shops, restaurants, murals, mojitos, etc. We didn’t eat while we were there because we had so many donuts, but I wish we had been hungry. The food looked amazing. We did have some mojitos though. They were so refreshing for the hot day, and they were well garnished. I think they were around 15 dollars, which is a bit pricy, but it was the best mojito I have ever had.

7. Las Olas: Connor got this recommendation from one of Anthony Bourdain’s shows. It is a Cuban restaurant in South Beach. You can either get food more cafeteria style or get something made to order. I went with rice and veggies as that was the most vegetarian option. It was super good. Connor got plantains, pork, and rice, which he liked. When we originally got there, we didn’t realize you could get food made to order, so I think he wished he had a gotten a Cuban sandwich. We also got espressos and they were really tasty. Las Olas was definitely a good choice for some authentic Cuban food and it was great for any travel budget.

8. Bacon Bitch: Connor and I saw this ranked pretty high on Yelp for breakfast/brunch. Since the menu was primarily bacon-oriented, I opted out of this one. I did however love the restaurant and all of the details that went into it. If you are vegetarian, there is one veggie option, it just wasn’t for me (I don’t love hummus). Connor ended up getting The Bacon (bacon, spinach, tomato jam, and an aioli). He really liked it and it was around 10 dollars, which isn’t bad for a trendy restaurant in South Beach.

9. DIRT: This restaurant was the kind of restaurant I would eat at every day if I lived in Miami. It’s a healthy spot with juice, breakfast bowls, toast, coffee, tea, etc. I pretty much wanted everything on the menu, but I ended up getting the Winter Breakfast Bowl (eggs, farro, broccoli, carrots, pickled onions, aioli, and salsa verde). It was so yummy and exactly what I was craving. Hopefully someday I can go back to try the toasts and the smoothie bowls!

10. Beach: I assume this is obvious, but you have to go to the beach in Miami. I personally don’t think it matters which area you go to, it is all pretty much the same. We hung out at South Beach this time around, but Mid Beach is good too! The water is such a nice blue color and it’s definitely a great place to work on your tan (or sunburn if you are me). Make sure to bring some sunscreen and some snacks in case you get hungry (we ended up leaving the beach sooner than planned because we got hungry haha).

holiday, valentines day

Last Minute Valentine’s Day Gifts

I personally love Valentine’s Day and think it’s really fun, but I know a lot of people think it’s overrated and don’t like to go too crazy with gifts. Here are some ideas for last minute/inexpensive but fun gifts!

1. Books: Everyone could use a good book. Get your significant other a book from a genre they like or a book you loved that they would like too.

2. Workout class: just like reading, working out is a fun, healthy gift. Sign up for a workout class with your bf or gf. Orange Theory, boxing, or Soul Cycle would all be fun ideas.

3. Spotify, Netflix, Audible, etc. subscription: I feel like most people have subscription services, but if they don’t, a music, audiobook, or tv subscription would be fun.

4. Phone case: There are so many inexpensive, cute phone cases at places like TJ Maxx or Marshall’s. Pick up a new case for your bf or gf.

5. Oil diffuser: I just got an oil diffuser and I love it. There are a ton on amazon, so throw a diffuser and some essential piles in your cart, and utilize your Amazon Prime account.

6. Face masks: Skin care is perfect for anyone in your life. There are options for any price range. Head over to Ulta, Target, or your favorite brand to find one for your Valentine.

7. Pajamas: I didn’t love pajamas until last year, but especially in the winter, it’s great to have a warm, cozy pair of PJs. Valentine’s Day themed pajamas would be super cute and festive.

8. Favorite Beer, wine, or cocktail ingredients: If you are over 21, getting your significant other a case of their favorite beer, a bottle of their favorite wine, or ingredients for their favorite drinks would be great. You can make/drink the cocktails together too, which is always fun!

9. Spotify playlist: This is super easy, but still thoughtful. Create a shared Spotify playlist with your bf/gfs favorite songs, songs you think they would love, and some of your favorites.

10. Framed photo: Another easy gift, but cute. Print out some of your favorite photo(s) and get a nice frame (or frames). Framed photos are great for a desk at work, a dorm room, etc.

11. Heart shaped foods of any kind: Heart shaped pizzas, donuts, bagels, etc. are all cute and delicious. I know I would be excited about any heart shaped food item. Last year I got Connor and I red, heart shaped bagels to celebrate.

What are your Valentine’s Day plans? What are you getting your significant other for Valentine’s Day? Any traditions? Also, am I the only one who thinks themed donuts are the best for Valentine’s Day (haha)?