Tips for Traveling to Chicago

Destiny In ChicagoI had the pleasure of visiting the Windy City for the first time this past weekend! The city dazzled me with a lively downtown scene, deep dish pizza, hipster coffee joints, and a chance to catch up with a childhood friend. While I was packing for Chicago, I assumed the weather would be cold and packed heavy, which I was extremely thankful for. The famous Chi-town winds makes a 40 degree spring day seem like the dead of winter to this Vegas-born chick. But besides packing recommendations, I also learned a few tips & tricks I would remember for my next adventure when traveling to Chicago.

Tips for Traveling to Chicago


1. Check the Weather Forecast

If the weather forecast says 40 degrees, don’t forget to add the wind factor. I recommend bringing layers, gloves, scarves, a hat, and a variety of jackets to choose from depending on the weather for the day. Of course the weather will be different in the summer, but always pack an umbrella just in case.

The Giant Bean Chicago

2. Plan Your Transportation

When it comes to getting around town, there are so many options available to tourists including Uber, Lyft, Taxis, Trains, bicycles, and walking. Using Uber will always be my first choice, but ride fares can rack up quickly if you have a busy day ahead. The train is convenient if you use Google Maps and make sure you go up or down the stairs on the correct side of the tracks because you can’t switch sides. I highly recommend getting the 3-day CTA pass because it will end up being less expensive than a daily pass and it works for bus rides as well. Lastly, I would recommend using the Divvy bicycles for a day if you have time to cruise lakeside. The bicycles are $10 for 24 hours and offer a memorable experience that can provide transportation and enjoyment all the way from the Zoo to the Planetarium.

Divvy Bike Chicago

3. Book Show Tickets In Advance

Seeing The Second City live or a Broadway performance in Chicago will be a highlight of your trip, but don’t wait to book your tickets because shows sell out fast. I would recommend booking at least 2 weeks out so you can secure good seats at the best time that fits your schedule.

4. Save Time to Eat

Dining at all of the restaurants in Chicago was my favorite part. Make time to eat every meal at a local restaurant you can’t find back at home. From brunch at Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe to dinner at Giordano’s, the wait times are long, the places are packed, and the food is amazing. We waited on average 15-45 minutes before every meal and if you are getting deep dish pizza that adds another 25 minutes before you start the main dish.Chicago PizzaWormhole Coffee Chicago

5. Take Advantage of Free

There are quite a few activities in town that are completely free like The Lincoln Park Zoo. We also enjoyed walking around Millennium Park, Grant Park, and the hipster area surrounding Wicker Park. Take a picture at The Giant Bean, see the lions at the zoo, window shop around Wicker Park and soak up the sun and wind because all of the free activities are almost all outdoors.Destiny & Kyle Chicago

6. Get the City Pass

If you are looking to do all of the tourist things in Chicago, get the City Pass online before you go anywhere. The lines to all of the experiences are extremely long but you will save time and money buying the City Pass. Although it costs $98 you will hit every tourist hot spot in town. The best part is, it also acts as a fast pass to skip the lines which sometimes can wrap around the buildings. We waited an hour to get tickets to the Skydeck at The Willis Tower only to find out it would be another 30 minute wait to get up to the top. After that experience we decided the City Pass was the only way to do experience it all.

7. Be Safe

There were only a few times I felt unsafe in Chicago and both times were at the train stations. I would avoid the trains and buses after 9pm and avoid the south side all together. Ladies, I recommend having a cross body purse you can hide under your jacket. Don’t carry cash, you really don’t need it for anything and it’s never a good idea to give money to anyone asking because it could be a scam to get you to open up your wallet.

Altogether traveling to Chicago was a memorable experience and knowing these tips for next time will make our second vacation even better! If you have tips of your own or favorite places of your own, please share them in the comments. 

Dealing with Envy

Hidden BeachSocial media is both a blessing and a curse. Images of beautiful places, friends, family, and even celebrities fill our feeds daily. We stay connected to people through their posts, videos, quotes, and dog photos, but we can easily slip into the treacherous trap of comparison. I often find myself thinking, “I wish my hair was as pretty as her’s” or “I wish I lived in New York like he does” or ” Why can’t I be the next 25 year old millionaire like the owner of Snapchat?”.

As a Social Media Manager, I spend an unusual amount of time on social media. 8+ hours every day on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest can make you green with envy without even realizing its happening. It’s hard not to compare yourself to the celebrities on Instagram or the bloggers on Pinterest, but it is important to be conscious of how comparison is stealing your happiness.

Since I never take a break from social media, here are a few tips I’ve gathered to choose happiness and deal with envy:

Start Your Day With Gratitude

Before you pick up your cell phone in the morning, acknowledge 5 things you are thankful for in your life. I like to spend my drive to work meditating on my blessings and thanking God for the gifts he has already given me. Dealing with envy is easier if you are mindful of your blessings.

Dismiss Unhealthy Friendships

Take a moment to rid your social media channels of people who make you feel less about yourself. This may be celebrities that always look perfect (because they have a team of people to make them up and the magic of photoshop) or a friend who doesn’t add meaning to your life.

Realize You’re Green

Be conscious of thoughts that start of with, “I wish” or “Why can’t”. When you have moments where you turn green with envy, disconnect and go back to your list of what you are thankful for. Don’t forget about what you have, because I can guarantee someone is wishing they had the things you take for granted each day.

Hold On to Truth

Find a saying, mantra or quote that reminds you to refocus on truth. For me, I remind myself that my worth is not based off of my looks or achievements but instead the fact that I am loved by a God who has given me so much. Focusing on loving yourself as you are and others isn’t easy, but it’s rewarding. If you don’t have a quote or saying, you can borrow mine:
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves ” -Philippians 2:3.

At the end of the day social media isn’t the problem, envy is an emotion that can pop up anytime. Having control over your thought-life and being aware of how your feelings are affecting you is key to choosing happiness. And remember, you are not alone. Someone, somewhere is looking at your Facebook post and wishing they were as beautiful and amazing as you are!

Creative Valentine’s Day Gifts

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and it’s one of my favorite holidays. Flowers, chocolates, and kisses…how can you not adore this romantic holiday! Most guys think of Valentine’s Day as they would a chore, but I like to think of it as a way to really think outside the box and show the one you love how much you care. Here are some of my favorite creative Valentine’s Day gifts and date ideas to help you do something unique this year for your significant other.

Custom Photo Gifts

There is nothing more unique than a custom photo gift from Shutterfly, like a coffee mug or photo frame with a touch of personalization. These gifts are easy, inexpensive, and they show thought and effort went into Valentine’s Day this year.
Use code SHIP39 for free shipping over $39 per order.

Shutterfly I Love You Mug

Handwritten Love Letters or Poems

Some of my most cherished gifts are love letters or poems my husband has written for me. I keep every single hand written note he has ever left me and I have an entire file on my computer of encouraging emails, notes, etc. that I love to look back at and read. If you consider yourself a talented writer, devote some time to your love and write down your feelings on paper that can be kept forever. The poem below is one of the most amazing gifts I have ever received that my husband sent me from his study abroad in Italy, when we first started dating.

Lucky Go Lucky

So Love… Like letters held on four giant pedestals? No…. love like a million moments of pure completeness.
She is to me the loveliest of things. She is to me living flowing art. She is to me an exquisite lullaby.
Adoration like rain soaks me to the bone. Admiration like creation steals my breath.
No modern day romance cliches
No bloated self indulgences
No expectations, No speculations
She is the setting sun set to a faint and glorious hymn
She is perfectly imperfect, and horribly wrong in the most sincere ways
She is the fire, she is…. simply is
There is no shame in presentation, There are no lies in wandering eyes, There is no BOLD print for the world to read…no headlines… no proclamation of something fake
And the song plays on and you never expect it to end for each note is followed by a sweeter one, and each verse more profound, and each chorus sung a little louder
And of this im sure… There are more brilliant men, more graceful poets, and more passionate persons. But no man living or dead will ever strive harder to budge a smile
For what is man without woman?
Only a wandering shadow, only a shifting phantom
Nessuna materia la distanza lo amerò sempre…
And so the muses will tell of a man who gave his soul to complete another.
-Kyle Johnson 2009

Candlelit Quiet Time

Candlelit Quiet Time

Women love to share quality time with their significant others. This Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be showy or expensive. Instead set up a romantic candlelit or fireside area with a cozy blanket, and some of their favorite snacks like chocolates, strawberries, and popcorn. Skip the movie and actually spend time in conversation. Write down things you love about your significant other and read them aloud. So often we forget to go back to the things we enjoyed while we were just getting to know each other.

Make a Meal Together

Pasta 2If your significant other is the one that usually does all of the cooking, an easy way to spoil them is to make a homemade recipe or even better, plan a fun recipe to make together! Try things like cheese fondue, homemade pizzas, or even my easy homemade pasta recipe for a fun dinner you can cook together. Quality time is the most precious thing you can give your significant other.

No matter what the gift, if you put time, energy, and thought into the making of the gift it shows you genuinely care and didn’t just run out to Walgreens to buy whatever they had on the shelf. Sometimes the simplest things can be the most meaningful when they are hand crafted and well thought out.

Share your favorite Valentine’s Day gifts you’ve ever received in a comment below! I would love to hear what makes you feel special and things you enjoy giving.

Note: This post contains affiliate links but as always I only support products I truly love and buy myself.

Easy Homemade Pasta

There is nothing more delicious than homemade pasta. Anytime we go to an Italian restaurant with homemade pasta on the menu, I get more excited than a child in a candy store! Since my husband shares my love for carbs, he bought me a Kitchenaid Mixer Pasta Attachment for Christmas. What a smart man, buying his food-loving-wife a tool to cook. Although you may think he was buying a gift for himself, I had been saying I’ve always wanted to make homemade pasta at home plus he did his fair share kneading the dough to the perfect consistency (which is the most difficult part) and taking all the photos to document our first time making pasta from scratch. I love recipes like this because it is a great way to bond and do something together as a team that doesn’t involve the TV.

Since it was our first time making pasta we decided to go for an easy homemade pasta dough but go all out on the sauce to make one of my husbands favorite recipes, Spaghetti Carbonara. To mix things up we went with thick noodles to make our own creation: Bucatini Carbonara!

Note: For equipment, you will need a mixer, a pasta attachment, and a little muscle.

Easy Homemade Pasta Ingredients

Easy Homemade Pasta

3 1/2 cups All-Purpose Unbleached Flour
4 Large Eggs
4-6 Tablespoons Water
1/2 tsp Salt

Bucatini Carbonara

8oz chopped pancetta
1/4 cup + 1 TBL spoon extra virgin olive oil
3 large eggs
4 cloves garlic chopped
1/4 cup parsley finely chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used a Sauvignon Blanc I had in the fridge)

Pasta Directions

1. Sift flour into a mixer bowl.
2. Add in salt.
3. In a separate bowl whisk eggs together with one tablespoon water.
4. Using the hook attachment, slowly mix in the egg mixture into the flour at a slow speed.
5. Add in one tablespoon of water at a time until the pasta mixture begins to hold together but is still crumbly, about 1 minute.
6. Move pasta dough to a clean flat surface to hand knead the dough until smooth, 5 to 10 minutes. Do not add to much water, add minimally 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough is smooth but not sticky. If the dough is too sticky to go through the pasta attachment, add a little flour.
7. Shape dough into walnut sized balls and slowly feed through the pasta attachment. I put my mixer on speed 10. (Note: the pasta takes a lot out of the mixer so don’t do more than one batch at a time so your machine can rest.)

Pasta 2

You can’t have pasta without wine! This is my favorite wines I brought home from one of our favorite wineries in Napa, Castello di Amorosa. I have been waiting to bust this baby open and the night felt right to enjoy it at last. By the way, if you like food and wine and you haven’t been to Napa yet, it is a must! I opted for this delicious Dolcino while my husband enjoyed a rich red Cabernet.





Bucatini Carbonara Directions

1. Heat olive oil in large pan until hot but not smoking.
2. Add chopped pancetta and cook until crisp.
3. Add in wine and simmer until reduced by half.
4. While reducing the pancetta, boil water in a 4 quart pot with a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt.
5. Cook pasta 6-9 minutes until desired softness.
6. Reserve half cup of cooking water and drain pasta.
7. In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, cheeses, garlic, and parsley.
8. Add pasta to bowl and coat with egg mixture.
9. Poor pancetta and oil into the pasta bowl along with the reserved cooking water as needed to make a creamy consistency. Stir together until pasta is completely coated and the cheese has melted.



The finished product is so worth it. As they say, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach! I’d love to know your favorite pasta recipes if you have any of your own. Next up on my list is creating pasta from alternative flours and really pushing the limits of my new found pasta making skills. As the Italians say, “buon appetito”!


Incape You Didn’t Know

Incape you didn’t know (see what I did there?) capes are all the rage right now on the red carpet. I love idea of wearing a cape out on a Friday night. It’s like saying “I’m a super hero!” amongst all the normal people in the world who aren’t wearing capes. My super powers consist of finding amazing sales online, eating copious amounts of chocolate and pasta, and knowing whats trending on social media at any given time.

Here are some of my favorite capes on sale for the modern day superwoman on a budget just in time for Valentine’s Day

Fashionable Capes On Sale

Nasty Gal Cape Bod Mini Dress $44.00

Nasty Gal Cape Bod Mini in Red

Nasty Gal Catherine Cape Dress $61.60Nasty Gal Catherine Cape Dress

Kendra Plunging Cape Dress $47.60Kendra Plunging Cape Dress

Nasty Gal Night Fire Cape Top $17.40
Nasty Gal Night Fire Cape Top

Nasty Gal To the Sky Cape Crop Top $17.40

Nasty Gal To the Sky Cape Crop Top

So put a cape on and brave the world with a new found fashion. Comment below and let me know what you think about this, trend or fabulous?