Week #29 – Robin Thicke Concert at Taste of Chicago

I couldn’t figure out how to write this post without gushing about Robin Thicke, so I decided I should just write him a note.

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Dear Robin,

One fateful morning I was walking to work when I saw a sign right in front of my office that you’d be performing at the Petrillo Music Shell at the Taste of Chicago (Butler Field). Coincidence? I think not. How could I refuse?!?

It’s important to note that I’ve been enjoying your music for quite some time now. “When I Get You Alone” is still one of my favorites, but I’m more vested than just your hits on the radio. “Complicated” is great, and “I Need Love” is so smooth. I couldn’t wait to hear these and many more at the concert!

I haven’t been to the Taste of Chicago since reversible tube tops were popular, but no crowd was too big to keep me from seeing you perform. My friends Lauren, Bridget, their significant others (God bless them) and my brother (what a guy) joined me!

Estelle was a great opening act—but who are we kidding? Everyone was waiting for you.

The weather was extra hot and the sun was high (somehow I got a tan from my sunglasses), but your smooth voice, charismatic personality, and charming smile (did you get that from Dr. Seaver?) seemed to make it ten times hotter! And let me tell you, the ladies around us were definitely feeling it too. (It seemed like some of the men were pretty jealous, but I’m sure you’re used to that…) And I heard Ashton and Mila were there! Are they your friends? Rahm was really getting down too (see the video!). They have excellent taste in music!

I love the song “Blurred Lines”, and was extremely glad that you decided to open—and close!—the show with that one. It’s the song of the summer! May I ask, what does rhyme with hug me? I’d love further clarification on that one. 😉

But before you get misled about my feelings for you, I have to confess: I’m married. And, obviously, so are you. (Your son is adorable, too!) So for now, let’s just agree that you’ll keep making beautiful music, and I’ll keep listening.

Thank you for the wonderful concert at the Taste. I was glad to be back after so many years! Be sure to let me know when you’re in Chicago next.

With love and admiration,

Second City Gal

Taste of Chicago
Grant Park
The Loop

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Week #15 – Balena

I had pretty high expectations for Balena, which has been named one of the top 10 new restaurants IN THE COUNTRY. I met up with my friends Lauren, Bridget, and Tara there for a night that was sure to bring lots of delicious food, tasty drinks, and even better conversation.

When you walk into Balena, it’s a large restaurant with tall ceilings (used to be Landmark), but somehow they’ve managed to make it feel cozy. The dim lighting, the warm neutral tones, the luxurious seating—can your interior designer come to my apartment?

I had a really rough day at work that day (we’re getting into our busy season, so my apologies if my posts feel few and far between!), so I was ready for a glass of Prosecco stat. I sat down and within minutes I had water at my table setting and my drink was ordered. I have to note that our waiter was not only good looking (a cross between the lead singer of the All American Rejects and Cillian Murphy), but he gave great recommendations and service. Definitely starting off on the right foot.

The menu at Balena is best for sharing, which I am a fan of. I was one of those kids who didn’t like my food to touch, and I ate everything in a specific order (OCD, anyone?). It’s so nice to share with people who push you a little outside your comfort zone.

We started with the Herbed Focaccia, Ricotta, Cracked Black Pepper, and Olive Oil. The focaccia was delicious (dind’t try the fresh ricotta), and I loved the presentation. We followed that with Spicy Lamb & Pork Sausage, White Beans, and Pickled Red Onion. Now, I had to slice the sausage immediately because I didn’t care for the presentation, but it was perfectly paired with the white beans. And I’m not really one for frisee salad, but this lettuce was insanely flavorful. Then came the Brussels Sprout, Pancetta, Pecorino, and Red Onion Pizza, which was surprisingly light and fresh. Their pizzas are big, so we each had two pieces. Next came the Orecchiette, Kale, Lemon, Bread Crumbs, and Chili Pasta, which tasted to me like the richest, most decadent pasta on the planet. I could have eaten bowls full of this. Our order from the Grill/Oven/Rotisserie portion of the menu was Roast Porchetta, Creamy Polenta, and Parsley Red Onion Salad. By this time, we were all hitting our limits because we knew we wanted dessert, but it was divine. The ends of the meat were crisp and full of flavor, and the creamy polenta melted in my mouth.

Lastly, we shared the Affogato, Vanilla Gelato, Espresso, and Cinnamon Sugar Donuts (these donuts are heavenly), and the Vanilla Gelato, Chocolate Chip Cookie, Malt Chocolate Sauce, and “Toasted Milk” (I didn’t try this one, but the girls said it was amazing).

Whether you need a night out with your girls, or want to take your special someone out for a romantic date night for two, Balena is the place to go. Need to take Nate here!

Balena Chicago
1633 N. Halsted Street
Lincoln Park

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Week #10 – Anthropologie Lincoln Park

So, I’ve been to Anthropologie before—it’s one of my favorite stores! HOWEVER, I’ve never been to one of their store openings before…

When Bridget invited Lauren and me to the opening of Anthro’s new store in Lincoln Park, we couldn’t resist. The shopping trifecta was back in action! (See Lincoln Antique Mall and Architectural Artifacts postings for our past shopping trips.)

As we walked in, women stood by the door with clipboards to check our names off of a list (exclusive!). We then made our way to the cocktails; the signature drink of the party was a Moscow Mule (one of my favorite drinks) served in a Mason jar. I must admit that I’m a huge fan of serving drinks in jars; we used them as water glasses at our barn wedding (which means I now have 160 Mason jars in my storage unit and my mother-in-law’s home). They also passed appetizers, and had tasty little cupcakes from More Cupcakes, and a delicious spread of cheeses, roasted nuts, jams, crackers, and fruit near the cocktails.

We walked around the new store, ogling the gorgeous spring clothing line (Bridge purchased a denim top and Laur bought a cute dress for her husband’s graduation from his master’s program). And I couldn’t get enough of the uber-creative, inspiring displays. (Kudos to their design team!) Good tunes played in the background as we chatted throughout the evening.

I have to admit, the funniest part of the night was seeing all the boyfriends and husbands cramped on the chairs and sofas, looking like they were about to die of boredom. Ladies: If you want to get some serious shopping done, leave your man at home. You’ll be doing yourself—not to mention your significant other—a huge favor.

I’d like to end this post by stating: if I could outfit my entire home—and myself—in Anthropologie merchandise, I would. Their luxurious bedding, delicate glassware, statement jewelry, stand-out dresses, impressive book collection—do I need to go on? Actually, have you ever smelled their candles? Yum.

Next time you’re shopping for groceries at Whole Foods, picking up home goods from Crate & Barrel, or grabbing a bite at Uncle Julio’s (which we did after the store opening!), be sure to stop by and check out the latest Anthro location.

Anthropologie
1548 N. Fremont Street
Lincoln Park

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