The Perfect Winter Lunch at Urbanbelly

We all know this winter has been unusually awful, so it’s good to find meals and recipes that make you feel warm and cozy as the snow falls and the wind blows. Enter Urbanbelly.

Nate suggested this little gem after our visit to the Chicago Auto Show last week, and it was excellent. Urbanbelly just joined our neighborhood months ago, housed in the same building as bellyQ on Randolph Street.

We walked in, and were warmly greeted by a host/waiter standing behind an order counter. He told us to take our time browsing the menu. We decide to sit and one of the restaurant’s communal tables to decide what to order.

Nate returned to the front to order. We opted for three pieces of pork and cilantro dumplings that are pork pot stickers with soy-balsamic sauce and pickled cabbage. The sauce made these pot stickers–hands down. I added more sauce that was on the table to enjoy.

Next for me was the Urbanbelly Ramen: Ramen noodles with braised pork belly, mushrooms, and egg. The pork belly melted in my mouth. The broth was flavorful with a kick. Nate had the Shrimp Udon Soup: thick Japanese noodles with shrimp, fish cakes, bok choy, and mushrooms. From the number of pepper flecks in his soup and the amount of water we drank, I’d say his had some heat!

I finished my meal by enjoying a small kettle of Jasmine tea–delicious. Nate tried it and loved it, too.

Delicious food, stellar service and close by? We will definitely be back for more. (Hopefully the temperatures warm up soon!)

1400 W. Randolph
West Loop

Urban Belly
1400 West Randolph Street
West Loop








Car Research at the Chicago Auto Show

Friends, I have never been to the Chicago Auto Show. I’m not really “turned on” by expensive, flashy cars, and I thought that’s what you did there: take pictures of yourself by expensive cars (haha, I totally did that when I went!). But I never thought of the Auto Show as a place to look at all of options of cars you could lease/buy…until now.

Nate and I leased our car right after we got married, and our lease is up in October (can’t believe it’s been almost three years!). We decided to use our day off for President’s Day wisely by going to the Auto Show to see what cars we both like.

There’s no other way to break this down, so I’m just going to say it: I like all of the bells and whistles on a car. It’s kind of like an apartment: when you have a dishwasher, washer and dryer, and garage parking, it’s hard to reverse that. For me, I love navigation (I get a bit turned around without it!), heated seats, and I’ve grown dependent on a backup camera (best invention for city dwellers). Nate is taller than six feet, too, so we need a car that has enough leg room and his head isn’t too close to the roof of the car!

There’s a lot to think about financially when you’re looking for cars, but for our research, we wanted to focus on what we were comfortable in. It’s funny, when you crunch the numbers, you may find that once you add some bells and whistles, your Ford is just as much as your Lexus.

So we arrived at McCormick Place right when the show opened, and we walked. A lot. And sat. In a lot of cars. Big and small, sedans and SUVs, Fords and BMWs. And, funny enough, Nate and I were mostly on the same page about the cars we liked.

Some of my favorite cars from the Auto Show were (in no particular order):

1. Volvo S90
2. Volvo XC70
3. Lincoln MKZ
4. Jeep Grand Cherokee
5. Cadillac SRX
6. Ford Escape
7. Subaru Outback

(The last two were a little snug, but I like them!)

There were other cars I liked, but the back seat was so small, it just didn’t make sense for us. And we didn’t sit in cars we are most familiar with (to save time). Nate also loves trucks, but I’m not sure it makes sense to have a truck as our shared car in the city. One day, Nate!

Overall, the Auto Show was a really cool experience. It’s kind of expensive (don’t eat there unless you want a $6 hot dog), but it will save us a lot of time and energy not having to go to every dealership. They also have a lot of activities, like test driving vehicles, photo booths, pinball machines, demonstrations (the Mustang one was cool. And loud!). And there were a lot of people there to enjoy it, so go early.

I’ll keep you posted what we end up with in October. Who knows, maybe we will buy our car if it works out. Only time will tell.

Chicago Auto Show
McCormick Place
2301 South Lake Shore Drive





Signature Scents at Aroma Workshop

Before I started junior high school, my sister Lauren told me I had to have a signature scent. I chose Banana Republic W. Fast forward almost 20 years (oh my gosh, that’s crazy!), and I still have one: Jo Malone Wild Bluebell.

But a desire for change and a LivingSocial deal with a looming deadline recently brought my friend Gina and I to Aroma Workshop! After brunch with the gals at Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba, we sat down at the counter of this quaint garden-level establishment ready for some fun.

In front of us were probably 50 different scents, from light to floral to bold to musky. Sierra, the nice woman who created and mixed our perfumes for us, said to choose about 5-10 scents that we liked. Gina and I were all across the board with our choices, and even had shared some favorites.

Then, Sierra created four fragrance combinations made up of three or four different scents. I’ve included my combinations below. Once we each had four options, we focused on smelling them indoors, as well as outside. (During our appointment, someone in the back was eating lunch. Now, I’m not one to deny anyone of a meal, but it did make it tricky to smell our fragrance options over the food. The staff was very apologetic about it. And it didn’t keep me from making a good perfume choice!)

And that combination is…drum roll, please…pomegranate, white tea, sky, and white lily! It’s so light and refreshing, perfect for spring. My runner-up included sage, which smelled divine, but a little heavy and wintery.

Gina’s scent features fig, rose morning, and baby, and smells light and feminine. Good choice, girl!

So, with the LivingSocial deal, we also received cute glass bottles for our signature scents. We also were asked to name our fragrances: Gina’s is Gina Jo, and mine is Mrs. King.

To sum it up, I had a wonderful time and would definitely do it again! The shop keeps your scent on file, and you can also use it to create custom lotions, oils, sheet sprays, etc. that are available at the store–or pick something entirely new. Special thanks to the staff for their expertise and making our experience one-of-a-kind.

Aroma Workshop
2050 North Halsted Street
Lincoln Park

PS-Don’t miss out on Gina’s blog: Bacon, Bubbly & Boys! So fun!