Sweet Home Chicago

Just a disclaimer: you may come across a few articles about Chicago in the next month or so. I recently found out that I was going to relocate to the East Coast at the end of July.

This means that I will be leaving the city that has been my home for the past six and a half years. Looking back, I realize that it’s been a long time! While I am happy to move on to new adventures, there are definitely many things I will miss about this amazing city.

So this first article will  mention some of the things that make Chicago my home.

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  • Walking/jogging by the lake

In my time here, I have moved a few times within the city, but I always made sure to stay within walking distance to Lake Michigan. It is one of the Great Lakes, so it resembles a sea because you cannot see the other side.  Though it does not have a salty breeze. I love being near the water; it is one of the few things that relax me. I don’t really care for lake beaches, but it is in Chicago that I really started jogging on a regular basis.  While I am no marathon runner, I go at least once a week on the lake path and it has become essential to my well-being. I should also add that the view of the skyline from the lakefront is pretty amazing.

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  • The yearly traditions

I love that Chicago has all four seasons, although the Spring often blends into the others. Each one of them brings yearly events that I love to attend. Two in particular are my favorites:

– The Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Open House, which happens every year in October. For a weekend, many public and private buildings are made available to the public. Chicago’s architecture is amazing and I love exploring places that are closed to the public most of the time. It is like a weekend adventure into the unknown without leaving your own city and the list of participating locations change every year.

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– The ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo. Chicago has a free zoo in the heart of the city and every Christmas, in collaboration with ComEd, they deck out the entire space with colorful light displays. It is like walking into a magical wonderland and I have not missed it since December 2012!

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  • The food scene

Chicago has an amazing restaurant scene. For a place famous for its hot dogs, pizza and Italian beef, the food scene is actually very diverse! There are a lot of up and coming restaurants with a wide variety of cuisines, and my boyfriend and I love exploring new hot spots, whether they are gastronomic institutions, or neighborhood gems. As a tribute to our neighborhood, and because I intend to make a more expansive article on restaurants later, I will only mention the unassuming places we typically walk to and leave out the acclaimed culinary temples you will find on a guide. Our favorite for Thai is Andy’s Thai Kitchen. For a local burger we got to DryHop or Kuma’s too.  For sushi – and the competition is fierce around here – we love Sushi Mon, and my favorite, everyday/healthy option is Vegetarian Express. This place is literally a hole in the wall; as a matter of fact I don’t think I ever ate inside it, but their food makes for awesome take out!

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  • The neighborhoods

Chicago has a multitude of neighborhoods. When I first arrived, I was surprised of how serious people are about the neighborhood they are from. They all have a different vibe and different trends. The funny part is as I spent time in the city, I too became attached to my neighborhood! Chicago is so spread out that people end up spending a lot of time in their respective neighborhoods because it helps make living here more personal.

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Here are some of my favorites: Lakeview (you should hit up Boystown at least once!) for the bar life and fun times. Lincoln Park and Old Town are a bit more yuppy, but they are my favorite areas to live. I love the old brownstones! Wicker Park, aka hipster central, is super popular for vintage shops, bars and entertainment. River North is the hip, urban neighborhood with a booming night life and the West Loop developed a top notch foodie scene. Make sure to spend some quality time with its Randolph street restaurants. Because I am lazy, I do not often venture there, but these neighborhoods are also worth exploring: Pilsen, with its vibrant murals and rich Mexican influence is a good one. Hyde Park, home of the renowned University of Chicago and Barack Obama, is also definitely worth the trip! Just a tip though, rely on a car or take the Metra (the commuter rail system) as they can be hard to reach with the CTA.

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After writing this, I realize I have so much more to write about Chicago, so bear with me through the summer!

 

Yummy healthy and easy dessert

I think this dessert is the easiest one you’ve ever seen. It was not planned at all, I was just preparing my lunch with an idea of making a fruit salad for dessert, but I realized that I didn’t have enough fruits. Instead, I created this: fruits on top, some cereals and a yogurt.

It only takes 5 minutes. Trust me, everyone will love it!

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Take a transparent glass or a jar, it doesn’t matter. Something you find great and here we go!

For two people you need: 1 yogurt, 2kiwis, 1 peach, and a bit of cereals.

  • Start by putting a yogurt on the bottom of your glass (I used a fat free strawberry yoghourt)
  • Then add some cereals of your choice, or even some oatmeal.
  • After cutting the peach and the kiwis in little pieces, add the kiwis pieces first and then the peach.
  • If you like you can add something on top to decorate your dessert. As to me, some chocolate chips is just a great choice! 

And here you go! It’s simple!

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I haven’t  found a name for this yet… any idea? You are free to leave your version in comments just below 

 

Going to Cannes is a great idea!

I wanted to congratulate my boyfriend for his promotion and celebrate his birthday, so I surprised him with a two-day stay in Cannes including spa, mojitos, beach time… all the things he and I love.

There are many incredible places in the world and Cannes is one of them. Here are some reasons why I enjoyed it so much, and why it’s a perfect destination for a weekend with your significant other.

  • The incredible views

In Cannes you’ve got many rooftops and terraces overlooking the sea. Most of the time they are hotel bars or restaurants. We were staying at the Radisson Blu Hotel, and it offers two great view points: the first one was a bar restaurant with a panoramic view on the beaches and the port.

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The second one was the rooftop pool and Jacuzzi that we enjoyed a lot in the afternoon. It was not as high up as the bar/restaurant but it was my favorite part of this hotel.

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  • The window shopping

We took a walk on La Croisette, the famous promenade overlooking the beach, and gazed at the luxury shops windows. I loved the atmosphere of this place, with the sunshine, the palm trees and the palaces surrounding this beautiful avenue. I also enjoyed looking at the Chanel’s, Dior’s and Yves Saint Laurent’s new collections with dreamy eyes. I fell in love again with the Michael Kors shop, which is a bit more affordable, and I am now coveting this pair of sunglasses.

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  • The private beaches

While on vacation, I particularly appreciate having lunch or dinner at the beach. Cannes is full of really nice private beaches that make you feel like you are on a paradise island.

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We went to a few beaches, my favorite was the Cristal Beach on the West side of the port. I loved the menu and the decor with the banana trees. We rented lounging chairs for the afternoon. It is so enjoyable to take a nap lulled by the sound of the sea.

  • No need for a car

When we arrived, we parked the car and did not move it until we left. It’s a real pleasure not being stuck in traffic or having to look for a parking spot for 20 minutes while on vacation. Cannes is a small city where you can get to almost everything by foot.

  • Being there in the low season

Going to the French Riviera in May has its advantages. We were there at the perfect time, ten days before the Cannes film festival. In May, the weather is great most of the time.  The temperature allows you to enjoy the pool or lie on your towel and get a tan. Because the tourists have not yet arrived, there is always an available lounging chair on the first row at the beach, or available tables at restaurants, and the sidewalks are not yet crowded. We are used to planning and booking everything in advance, so it was quite relaxing to choose our activities at the last minute without having to worry that it may be overbooked.
To end this article, here is a little Vlog.

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My Spring Cleanse

Growing up in France in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, I felt a lot of pressure to conform to this ideal of skinny, petite look, which is often the French cliché. As a teen, I was into fad diets and new tips in order to stay in shape. The truth is, I was not a very athletic teenager and I only started exercising regularly well into college. When I moved to Chicago, I was worried about gaining weight because I would regularly gain weight when visiting the US and then lose it after going home. With this permanent move, I needed to find a better balance.

At first, it was difficult. Then, about four years ago, I decided to do a one month of cleanse in the spring. That meant not drinking alcohol for a month and eating “clean” ( meaning no processed foods and no white carbs), and vegetarian. I wasn’t sure about not eating meat for a month, as I was a self-professed carnivore, but I stuck with it. I also started working out regularly between two and four times per week. The results really blew me away. Not only did I lose a significant amount of weight, but I also felt better. To top it off, there were no crazy cravings after the first week. After that, I kept eating better and working out regularly. I also really cut down my meat intake, even though I am not fully vegetarian.

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An example of a clean Brunch: Poached eggs with salmon, avocado and Feta; sautéed mushrooms, spinach with coconut oil and fruit.

 

I am proud to say that I have consistently remained thinner and more toned than at any time in my life. Still, in the summer and during the holidays, I sometimes fall off the health wagon and splurge. For this reason, I have maintained the habit of a clean month in the spring and fall.  They help serve as a reset button to tune me back into good habits rather than a strict weight loss program. These past two years, I tweaked my cleanse a bit to reflect its new purpose.

For example, I do not watch calories as closely anymore and I am more concerned about making sure that I get enough energy, and feel good. This means that I eat more healthy fats (avocado, olive and coconut oil, nuts and nut butters). I also eat more high protein carbs like quinoa and soba noodles. It does not impact how much weight I lose during that time, but I feel more energized and healthier.

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I also focus more on other factors such as sleep. Going to bed early is sometimes a challenge, but I found that trying to stick to a schedule improves my ability to get more out of my sleeping hours. Additionally, I tried to switch up and develop my workout routine to help me fall asleep easier.

 

While I learned to enjoy my cleanse months, occasionally I feel that my social life takes a bit of a toll because I tend to be more selective in the social events I attend. Being the only non drinker at a party is not always fun. Yet it also frees my time to try new things, such as classes at the gym – I had been too shy to try until  now – or more involvement in this blog! I also make sure to include some activities I enjoy that do not involve eating or drinking, for example a visit to the museum or a movie, or going on long walks with my boyfriend.

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Diversey Harbor and the Chicago Skyline, on one of my favorite walks by Lake Michigan

I like to live a fast-paced life.  I also realize that taking care of myself and having a healthy lifestyle is a daily, and yearlong endeavor. I sincerely believe that these two months a year help set a good pace by helping me regain mindfulness and balance.

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