Week #41 – One Strange Bird & Innjoy

Jill and Erin, my friends (and co-workers!), and I bought Groupons months ago for One Strange Bird, where they have tons of art classes available. After the lace plate classes Jill and I did earlier this year, I’ve been eager to find more new ways to be creative.

The store has many different class offerings, from painting to drawing to stationary making and fabric printing. But we wanted to take it one step further. Enter: jewelry making.

After some delicioso tacos and chips and guacamole at Big Star, we walked over with our chocolate and wine (did I mention the classes are BYOB?!?). One Strange Bird has a super cute storefront with a little shop when you walk in, and they had fresh white canvases set up on easels for a painting class that night. In the back of the store was another studio where our jewelry class was held.

Now, one might think that making earrings and necklaces is easy, but I beg to differ. Our teacher was awesome, and taught us two wire techniques to create wire earrings and necklaces.

If you’re Jill, you pick up on accessory making with ease. Erin’s designs were unique, and she listened and took the time to get them just right. I, on the other hand, was a hot mess.

First of all, I thought it would be fun to do chandelier earrings. Why not, right? I struggled a bit, but with Jill and the instructor’s help, I made assisted in making a pretty hot set of earrings. Because they took me almost the entire class to make, Jill kindly helped me made a long necklace so I would leave with what we were supposed to make. Ha!

The moral of this adventure is: Don’t bite off more than you can chew. I’d love to try another class at One Strange Bird, but I think I’m going to leave my accessory making to the experts.

After the class, Erin, Nate, and I headed over to Innjoy, a fun local bar, for a few drinks outside. I think it was College Night because we got free tequila shots, a Coors bottle, and a free t-shirt. I’m not sure if this made me feel young again or really old! But it was a fun way to end a great evening.

One Strange Bird
2124 West Division
Wicker Park

Innjoy
2051 West Division
Wicker Park

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Week #35 – Water Taxi & Lao Sze Chuan

Nǐ hǎo from Chinatown!

Honestly, this one goes down as one of my favorite things I’ve done for the blog so far! I’ve had a water taxi ride and visiting Chinatown on my to do list since the beginning of the blog, and I couldn’t have picked a better group to check these activities off the list.

Bridget, Trey, Lauren, Bill, Gina, Erin, and I all met at the Madison Street water taxi station around noon to take the water taxi down to Chinatown. For $5 (each way), we could take in the beautiful sights of the city…on a water taxi!

We boarded the boat and walked toward the front to get the best view. I was worried about the boat being a little rocky, but rest assured, these taxis are smooth sailing. We caught up as we headed south on the river, posed for photos (see below!), and enjoyed the hot summer day.

Quickly we arrived at the Chinatown stop, where we were greeted by a huge Chinese structure (which we posed by on our way back to the loop). We walked through the winding residential streets until we arrived at the heart of Chinatown, where there’s a square, and lots of shops and restaurants.

Not only is Lauren the coordinator (and mom) of the group, she and Bill lived in Singapore for two years and traveled extensively around Asia, so I gave her the task of choosing our lunch spot. Lao Sze Chuan was her choice, and I couldn’t have been happier. Recognized by the Michelin Bib Gourmand, Lao Sze Chuan is one of the highest rated Chinese restaurants in Chicago!

Natalie and Pat met us there, and we started off our meal with a spicy cabbage appetizer (brought to every table, like bread) and green tea. We ordered Tsingtao beer, per Lauren and Bill’s suggestion, and it was refreshing on that warm day. For appetizers, we snacked on crab rangoon and pot stickers, and for the main courses, we had a little bit of everything: sesame chicken, sauteed green beans, shrimp with broccoli, fish, crispy spicy chicken, mongolian beef, spinach, orange chicken, and I know I’m missing more. The best thing about going to Chinatown with a bigger group is that we were able to sample so many different flavors. And what meal isn’t complete without dessert, a.k.a. a fortune cookie! Now, I don’t know about you, but I am superstitious and won’t read my fortune until I’ve completely eaten my cookie. My fortune was: Time is the wisest counselor…in bed. Don’t you add “in bed” to your fortunes? Once you start, you won’t stop, I promise. 😉

After our delicious meal (I will definitely return!!!), we wandered around Chinatown, looking in the shops and getting lost in the summer heat. When we returned to the square, we took pictures by the different Chinese zodiac signs: Erin, Gina, Pat, Natalie, and I are dogs; Bridget and Lauren are pigs; Trey is a monkey; and Bill is a horse. (In no other context is that sentence appropriate!)

From there, the majority of us headed to the water taxi to return home. Seriously, before this hot summer weather goes away, take a water taxi ride down to Chinatown for a bite at Lao Sze Chuan. It’s like a really inexpensive architecture tour with a good meal in between. I promise, you won’t be disappointed. I know I wasn’t!

Chicago Water Taxi

Lao Sze Chuan
2172 S. Archer
Chinatown

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Week #34 – Chicago Diner

As long as I’ve been working with my vegan gal Erica, she’s raved about the Chicago Diner. Our summer intern Anna also eats mostly vegan, so we figured what better time to visit the diner? Erin, who is a foodie, joined in too.

Upon entering the diner, it was a lot smaller and cozier than I imagined. We sat in a booth and figured out what we would order. A whole menu without any restrictions equals pure joy…and so many options!

We decided on buffalo wings (I’ve never had real ones!), most of us got the rueben (mine with waffle fries, of course), and two shakes to split: peanut butter cookie dough and vanilla chai.

The buffalo wings were awesome. I really enjoyed the sauce! The rueben was good, but I should have ordered it with less toppings. I could barely eat a half! And then, the most amazing part of the meal: the milkshakes. I don’t know if you can tell from the photo below, but I was in heaven. I could even eat the whip cream…which really tastes like whip cream. Light and airy…melts in your mouth!

Friends, no matter whether you choose to or not, can or cannot have dairy, treat yourself to these shakes. I promise, you’ll thank me later.

Warning: I needed to walk this meal off I was so full, so I ended up walking 2.5 miles of the way back to the West Loop! Good food and a little exercise and fresh air? Kind of a win win, don’t you think?

Chicago Diner
3411 N. Halsted
Lakeview

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