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!

 

Gala Ready!

Every year my workplace organizes one gala evening called the “Soirée,” which is our biggest fundraiser of the year. This event gives me the opportunity  to find the perfect gown, because let’s face it, I do not often have the chance to go all out and dress like a princess! Since it just took place this past Saturday, I would like to describe what I wore and give you tips on how to get ready for a formal event.

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A few years ago, I discovered this amazing website that was a game changer for me. It is called Rent the Runway.  You can rent a designer gown for 4 or 8 days at a fraction of the purchase price. They ship your dress in two sizes to make sure it fits you, and if it does not, the customer service is incredible. Once, they overnighted a dress to my home after mine got stolen on my porch after being delivered. If something happens to the model you order, they will send you something similar instead. That means you always have options. So far, I used them four times and I never had to wear a dress that didn’t fit or that I did not like. Some of my friends don’t like spending money on a dress you don’t get to keep, but I don’t mind because I would never wear this type of gown twice anyways. I also can’t afford to drop a thousand dollars on a dress for one evening per year.

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Last year, Rent the Runway opened a store in Chicago. I wanted to go and try dresses in person for this year’s Soirée, but I got sick with the flu. Since I had to stay in bed for five days, I decided to order online again. I went for a golden dress which is not typical for me, as I usually wear black or red.

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The issue with wearing this type of color in April in Chicago, is that there is little sunlight and I could not tan. To remedy that, I use MicroMist® Airbrush Sunless Tan by Neutrogena every day for the 5 days preceding the Gala, so that my skin looks naturally sun kissed.

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My nails were next. I waited to receive my dress to determine which color I was going to select. I opted for neutral. Two days before the Soirée, I went to my favorite nail place to get a no-chip manicure, a pedicure, and I threw in a brow wax as well. You want to make sure that you do the wax at least a couple days before an event, in case your skin gets irritated. I have very sensitive skin that immediately gets red and a little puffy after waxing. You have to give your skin time to recover.

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On the day of the Gala, I took the entire afternoon to get ready starting with my hair and make-up. The dress reminded me a bit of Belle’s in Beauty and the Beast, so I decided to channel her and went for a half updo with curls. For make-up, I used my Kat Von D Shade + Light contour palette  for contouring, which is perfect for amateurs like me, and selected neutral colors with a hint of gold for my eyes. I used the Urban Decay Naked Eyeshadow Palette.

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The downside of this dress was the ample cleavage, so I used Hollywood Fashion Tape to keep everything in place. The last thing I wanted was to have a Janet Jackson moment at a work event! In the end, my hard work was rewarded. I received tons of compliments and had so much fun dancing through the night!

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