#tbt I’m on a Boat (on Lake Michigan)!

Now that it’s officially fall, this #tbt post (a new concept I’m trying because I’m behind on posting) seems completely necessary.

Seeing as boating on Lake Michigan has been on my to-do list for awhile, you could imagine my excitement when, late in the summer, we chartered a yacht for my bestie Tara’s bachelorette party.

I can’t recommend this enough! Here are my five tips for enjoying your time on the water:

1. Take lots of photos, including selfies. For some Chicagoans, getting on the water is a common thing (lucky devils), but for the rest of us, this opportunity is once in a lifetime–so document it. Must-take photos include (but are not limited to): group photos, skyline photos, photos with the captain, posh/diva photos, and sunset photos.

2. Skip short skirts/dresses and heels. I learned this the hard way. It’s windy, and there’s a ladder to the upper deck. Need I say more?

3. Don’t go below deck unless you have to. This is especially for my seasick friends. As long as I had fresh air, I was in good condition.

4. Be a tourist. You get such a great tour of the city on Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. Take advantage and pay attention to your surroundings. Repeat tip #1.

5. Have a good time! Being on a boat is an awesome experience. Be silly, be funny, live it up!

I’m so grateful to Tara and her sister for organizing this! Tara is getting married this weekend, and I couldn’t be more excited. I realized over the weekend that we’ve been friends for 20 years, which is just crazy and brings me a lot of joy. I am so happy for her and her husband-to-be. Wishing you both a lifetime of love and happiness! Xo

IMG_9968.JPG

IMG_9970.JPG

IMG_9969.JPG

IMG_9971.JPG

IMG_9974.JPG

IMG_9976.JPG

IMG_9972.JPG

IMG_9975.JPG

IMG_0361.JPG

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

IMG_3348 IMG_3342 IMG_3341 IMG_3296 IMG_3298 IMG_3300 IMG_3304 IMG_3305 IMG_3307 IMG_3312 IMG_3313 IMG_3316 IMG_3320