Hello! I'm Natalie, a Chicagoan on the hunt for everyday adventures. Yes to bike rides, live music, hammocking, cooking, city walks & terrariums. My sister & I run a yoga and events series called Yoga+ Chicago - join us, won't you?
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The Chicago Botanic Garden is a dreamy place. I checked multiple items off my bucket list today: the 20 mile bike ride up there from the city, followed by a picnic and exploring the grounds for 3 hours. It was more beautiful and expansive than I could have ever imagined. With 26 gardens in total, the Japanese garden was one of our favorites. I also loved this gorgeous entryway. We stopped by Homer’s Ice Cream in Winnetka on the ride back downtown; a well-deserved treat after a few hours in the saddle. I’m so lucky to have experienced this perfect day with my partner in adventures. This is what I call making the most out of a day off work! (at Chicago Botanic Garden)
Given an afternoon off, 9 times out of 10 you can find me hammocking on the boulevard. Today’s agenda calls for finishing up a good read for book club, accompanied by a cold bottle of @virtuecider to make the heat more bearable. (at Logan Boulevard)
Exactly 1 year ago today, May 15, 2013, Parson’s opened for business in Logan Square. The opening had been hyped up by Eater, Chicago Magazine and more (plus I’m a sucker for good fried chicken), so naturally I was eager to try it.
My attempt to rally friends to dine with me that night was unsuccessful, so I stubbornly decided to check it out on my own instead of wait for their company a few days later (I was too worried the wait would be crazy once the good word got out).
I hit up a yoga class in Bucktown after work, then mounted my bike for a short ride north west. I put my name in with the host (quoting an hour wait, as the restaurant is teeny-tiny), ordered a beer, and busted out my kindle to read in the interim on one of the patio tables outdoors. The host called my name and while I expected to be ushered to a bar seat, instead I was placed in a communal table - but not one of those long and skinny communal tables, it’s basically a square where you can’t help but interact with those sitting next to you. And so that’s exactly what I did.
I made friends with the couple sitting across from me. And this fun group of three guys and a gal also at our table that were uber-inclusive, inviting me to order family style with them so I could sample the whole menu. We ate, drank, laughed and shared stories. Two of the guys were in a band and had a show at the Metro the next night which they invited me to. I went to the show the following evening and they said I was the first stranger they had met who followed through on their word for showing up. How could I have not? They were a pretty awesome crowd.
Since then there have been so many wonderful things. A day trip to Three Oaks, Michigan. So many concerts. Hammocking sessions. A girls weekend in Galena. Late night dance parties. Communal bbqs, more than I can count. Ice cream dates at Margie’s. Beach days. An education in important movies (I won’t dive into the number of classic I somehow missed during my childhood). Birthday celebrations. New pets! Woodshop Club. A New Year’s Eve home-cooked dinner. Intellectual book club conversations. Museum Visits. Trying new restaurants and bars around Chicago. Attending free parties and fun events. The best Halloween ever (impressive, considering that’s my least favorite holiday). A visit to the apple orchard and baking through the night for our first entry into Bang Bang’s Amateur Apple Pie Competition. And so.much.more.
The best way I can describe these friends is to say that I feel like I have finally found my people. They are loving and inclusive and easy going. They are up for spontaneous adventures and are always down for exploring. The group keeps on growing and there’s always room for more. They are the kind of people you want to keep around for a long time.
This weekend I’m moving into a house with three of these friends in Logan Square and I am beyond excited for all the fun we’ll have. It’s amazing what can happen in 1 year.
So, Parson’s: I say thank you for facilitating the start of some wonderful friendships a year ago today.
Friday evening was one for the record books - My sister Andrea invited me to be her date for experiencing the new Chinese: Modern menu at NEXT. And dare I say it, I enjoyed the best meal of my life that night. The menu was whimsical, the flavors were insane, and I couldn’t have asked for better company. I’m so grateful for that opportunity to teach my palette about amazing food and to have experienced what the creative minds in the kitchen delivered for this menu. Check out this teaser video the NEXT team just released for Chinese: Modern. The menu runs through the end of August, so if you have the interest and chance to experience it for yourself, I highly encourage you to jump on the opportunity.
My friend Kim and I have been busy gearing up for our Italy adventure - just 6 weeks away! Mainly we’ve just been solidifying our itinerary - booking hotels and figuring out the details on how we’ll get from one city to another. In the coming weeks well spend some more time researching what we want to do in each city while we’re there. But out of all the accommodations we’ve booked so far, I’m most excited about our stay at the Hotel La Tosca while in Capri. Travel + Leisure picked it as one of the best affordable island hotels and it looks utterly charming. Italy count down is in full force!
Photos courtesy of Hotel La Tosca
I’m way into the retro look of bullet planters this season. I think one of the taller stand planters would be the perfect addition to our back porch to give it a little ‘green’ face lift this spring.
I love both of these images from The Mora House in Palm Springs. What a beautiful space!