Late as usual, but I wanted to share a few Chicago pictures and a recap. I'll leave out the boring work stuff but will say that the trip went much better than I was expecting in that regard. We got into Chicago the day after Thanksgiving and checked into our hotel, the Marriott on Magnificent Mile, and the first thing I did was take a few pictures.
Check out that view!
I could see bits and pieces of Lake Michigan through the buildings.
Michigan Avenue on Black Friday. I could hear that crossing guard all the way up on the 27th floor - with the window closed!
John Hancock building to the left
After checking on our trade show booth, I met up with my family, who had arrived Friday afternoon, and we had dinner in the Walnut Room at Macy's on State Street (the original Marshall Field's store). My mom and her family used to make a trip to Chicago every year to eat here when she was a kid, so it was cool to experience that family tradition.
This was the view from our table of the huge, beautiful tree. The whole dinner was good but my absolute favorite part was one of the desserts we all shared - Frango Cheesecake (for those unfamiliar with Frangos, it was a chocolate mint flavor). I definitely intend to find a copycat recipe and try making it someday.
Me with my mom and sister in front of the tree (we always make fun of my mom for not smiling in pictures, so I'm glad she's at least making an attempt here!)
Saturday was a long day of setup for work, and afterward I met up with my parents and sister, plus my aunt and cousins who had come into town from Iowa for the night, at Giordano's. It was absolutely packed, and even though we put our pizza order in as we were waiting for our table, we still had to wait quite awhile after sitting down. We had the stuffed pizza, and while it was good, I'm not sure if I'd say it was my favorite ever.
Laura, me and dad at Giordano's
With Brooke (my cousin Chris's girlfriend) and my cousin Ashley
This giant gingerbread house was in the lobby of the hotel. After resting a bit, we stopped here Saturday night on our way back out to the Ghirardelli chocolate/ice cream shop (yeah, definitely went to bed stuffed that night) to take a couple pictures.
My family headed out to the train early Sunday morning, and I headed out to the first day of the trade show. Seeing as I normally sit in front of a computer at work, I'd forgotten how exhausting it is just to be on your feet all day! Despite being in an unfamiliar place and away from Shaun, I slept REALLY well that week because I was just so tired every night.
I hope this entry isn't too food-obsessed, but since I cook all the time at home, I truly enjoyed getting to go out and try some new restaurants. And I would recommend most of these places if you're visiting Chicago. Sunday night I ate at Bandera with a few of my coworkers - right across the street from the hotel. It was a nice atmosphere with live music and a good variety on the menu. I had the “Hacked Chicken Salad with Honey-Lime Vinaigrette and Peanut Sauce" and it was excellent. Monday night we ate at the RB Grille, a new, sit-down restaurant addition to the Rock Bottom Brewery. I had a burger that was just okay, but the guys really enjoyed their steaks (and beers). I loved my dessert though - a mini peanut butter cream pie for just $2.50...that made it all worth it for me!
On Tuesday night I met up with Allison, a friend from college who now lives in Chicago. We went to the Grand Lux Cafe, which is owned by the same people that own Cheesecake Factory. Given that, we wished we'd had room for dessert at the end of the meal, but we were too full. I had the Thai Chicken Pizza and it was delish. I hadn't seen Allison since last Thanksgiving so it was really nice to take a couple hours and catch up.
And on Wednesday night, my last night in town, my cousin Amy picked me up for dinner. She lives in Chicago with her new fiance, Ryan, and their Scottie puppy, Milton. Ryan was working late, so after I met Milton, Amy and I walked a few blocks from her condo over to Red Light (which, according to their website, incorporates Chinese, French, and Thai cooking styles). I had the“Mee Gha Ti” - I had no idea what to expect when I ordered it, but I ended up liking it a lot. The coconut gave it a nice sweet flavor. (All these food descriptions...I should have taken pictures, but I thought that might weird out my companions!) And of course, it was great to see Amy. We haven't lived near each other since I was in 7th grade, so I really appreciated the chance to sit and talk as grownups - even though we agreed we still feel like kids sometimes!
I tried to get some night pictures but I'm far from an expert on the manual settings...wish I could capture the view as I saw it. I couldn't stop looking out the window at the pretty lights on Michigan Avenue.
So, those were the best parts of my Chicago trip. It went quickly, but I was still anxious to get back home to Shaun and kick off my Christmas baking. Time is flying...we leave for our Minnesota Christmas on the 19th!
7 hours ago