Weekend Recap: Blends Do Chicago

Oh boy. Let’s talk about this past weekend. It was epic. I flew out to Chicago to meet up with Katie, Caroline, and Becky for a highly anticipated girls’ weekend.

You’re about to get my weekend recap in one post so I hope you’re ready for it!

Katie and I flew out from Minneapolis and into Chicago around noon on Friday. We booked it over to meet Caroline as she exited her flight and we all went crazy when we reunited. The four of us haven’t been together since September at the Healthy Living Summit six months ago! But what’s great about our friendship and our relationship is that no matter how long we have been apart, we catch up right where we left off.

Becky lives in Chicago and was a fantastic host! We anxiously awaited her arrival at the airport. We repeated the whole greeting shenanigans and our faces were plastered with smiles the whole drive back to our hotel. Reunited and it feels so gooood!

You better believe there was a ridiculous amount of good food consumption that happened this weekend. It started in our hotel room. Katie broke out the Chex Mix and it tasted better than ever. I was SO hungry!

Next we walked to an Italian marketplace called Eataly. They sell every conceivable italian product I could think of (olive oil, pasta, chocolates, balsamic vinegar, etc.) but also have restaurants throughout, as well as sections dedicated solely to nutella and gelato. This brought me back to my honeymoon in Italy! We ate gelato everyday on our honeymoon!

We settled on the vegetarian restaurant and quickly devoured the complimentary bread. Oh yea, this weekend was not gluten-free.

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I ordered the vegetable soup. I wanted something light since it was 2:00 pm and our dinner reservations were at 7:30. I didn’t want to get so full that I couldn’t eat dinner plus I wanted to save room for dessert back at the hotel!

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Before heading back to the hotel, Caroline and I strolled down the street to a quiet cafe to catch up. I love love love these girls and made sure to express my feelings the entire weekend. I am lovey dovey and you guys know that.

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Back to the hotel room we went to relax for a few hours before dinner. Enter: Becky’s sinful brownies. Six pounds of brownie madness. That is 1.5 lbs per person if I did my math correctly. Good thing we didn’t eat the entire pan over the weekend. But seriously, these things were insane. I preferred not to know what was in them but she shared the recipe so I had to find out. I still enjoyed them just the same!

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Friday night was our romantic dinner at Nellcote to celebrate Caroline’s birthday. 🙂 Seriously the ambiance in this place was amazing. It was elegant with dim lighting, chandeliers, and candle light. So cozy and romantic!

After eating our weight in brownies, none of us were too hungry, so we decided to split a bunch of menu items. We split a margarita pizza, roasted brussels sprouts, creamy mashed potatoes, and potato gnocchi with lamb.

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The food, the conversation, the ambiance….everything was perfect. We retired to our hotel room where we were calling it a day at 10:30 pm. Flying wears a girl out!

The next morning we all got a workout in before heading out on the town. It was time to do some shopping. Becky took us to Shop900 which is off of Michigan Avenue but not nearly as crazy busy as the magnificent mile shops.

But first a pit stop or two.

Coffee…

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Duh. We had to see the bean!

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And take group selfies. #nerdsreunited

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Then it was time to shop. We hit up Banana Republic, Lululemon, J. Crew, and Nordstrom Rack.

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All of the shopping surely worked up our appetites. We waited an hour for a table at Giordano’s and it was so completely worth it! Authentic deep dish Chicago style pizza. Yes that is what we wanted and that is exactly what we got.

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After lunch we continued walking (we walked a lot on Saturday), shopped a bit more, and finally made it back to our hotel.

Katie helped me apply my first set of Jamberry nails!

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The first time applying them was pretty lengthy but I think that with practice I could make the process go much faster. How cute are they, right?! Katie is a jamberry nail distributor so if you’re interested in ordering any adorable wraps for yourself, send her an email!

We got prettied up and made a stop at Becky’s before going out to dinner. I swear it seems like all we did was eat this weekend but there was a lot of walking and relaxing involved too!

Before dinner I got to meet Becky’s sweet pup Mitchell. He’s famous over on her blog so I felt honored!

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Next up. Dinner at Mercadito, a fabulous Mexican restaurant.

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Again, none of us were feeling super hungry so we went with an order of guacamole and salsa and an order of the chicken tacos to share. Some of the best chicken tacos I have EVER had! The combination of flavors involved were so pleasing to the ol’ taste buds. Once again my tummy was happy.

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Unfortunately my energy level was failing. I called it a night after that—I slept terribly the night before and don’t do well on little sleep as you are all well aware. I went back to the hotel room, got cozy and hit the hay.

This brings us to Sunday. We woke ourselves up bright and early (again not enough sleep—theme of the weekend) and made our way to the Little Goat for breakfast. What’s great about traveling with foodie bloggers is you know you’re going to have a good meal since Becky picked all of them out.

My body still felt stuffed from all of the food consumed over the last 48 hours, so I decided to go on the lighter side. I split a cinnamon roll, split an order of bacon, and ordered myself a fruit parfait.

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Everything was delicious.

The weekend seriously was as amazing as it sounds. I miss these girls already. We’re already discussing our next meeting place!

 

Our Villa in Turks and Caicos and My First Video

Well after a full day of being home from vacation, I am feeling pretty settled. All of the laundry is done, clothes are all put away, the fridge is restocked, and the house is semi-organized. It feels good.

For some reason my appetite was totally off yesterday (Dana said the same thing too, actually). We didn’t have any groceries in the house when I woke up, so for breakfast I just scooped myself a big ol’ healthy scoop of peanut butter. It was more than what I wanted which was nothing, but I had an appointment to go to and errands to run, so I needed fuel.

When lunch time rolled around, I still wasn’t hungry, but munched on some carrots while I whipped up a huge smoothie. In the blender I threw strawberries, blueberries, bananas, kale, kefir, aloe vera juice , and a touch of water to help it all whirl.

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It was tasty and very filling, but I wasn’t in it like I usually am. I just ate it t nourish myself.

What I was craving was some comfy veggie soup, so I dug through the freezer and found my last bag of garden tomatoes and my last bag of bone broth and got to work.

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In a large soup pot I sautéed onions, celery, carrots, and garlic in some coconut oil. Then I added savory spices, dried parsley, a bay leaf, salt, and pepper, followed by the thawed tomatoes and bone broth. Last I added in a bunch of chopped rutabaga (what I feel is the forgotten vegetable). I covered the pot and let it simmer for a good hour. At the end of the cooking time, I added in frozen peas and frozen green beans.

This soup was very similar to this veggie soup recipe I made a short while back.

It turned out fantastic! I had a bowl for dinner while watching the THREE hour finale of the Bachelor. Lucky for me living in central time, it was on from 7-10 pm so I didn’t have to stay up as late as you eastern timers. I was very shocked at his decision and admit I got pretty choked up over both the break-up and the proposal. They seem very happy together. Let’s just hope they stay together!

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Moose was super pumped that mom and dad were home from Turks. He spent most of the day catching up on sleep and totally veggin’ out.

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When I see him after being away for some time, I am always blown away at just how big he is!

That was my little spurt of normal life; now back to recapping the Turks and Caicos vacation…today I want to show you where we stayed!

Our Villa in the Turks and Caicos

Upon arrival to the airport in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, we had to take a taxi to catch a ferry to get to North Caicos where our villa was. Unfortunately we missed the ferry by 10 minute and the next one wasn’t leaving for another two hours. So, we changed into our swimsuits and shorts and hung out at the pier while we waited.

I was so antsy and anxious to see our place and just relax, so inevitably the waiting time went by real slllooooowwww. But, alas the ferry arrived and we were transported to our island!

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Upon arrival, we were greeted by another taxi driver, Mac, who brought us to our resort.

The resort we stayed at was JODO resort at Sandy Point on North Caicos, and I have nothing but incredible things to say about this place.

We were greeted by Mark, who manages the resort. He walked us through the villa and gave us some info, suggestions for things to do, and answered some of our questions. We were also greeted with a bottle of wine and a CD full of island music to get us feeling the island life.

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We unpacked, showered, and hit the hay early. We woke up nice and early the next day and were showered with sunshine! And so began our vacation!

The JODO resort has two homes; one is the main house and one is a guest house. We stayed in the guest house which was more than enough space for the two of us.

The front porch:

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The living room:

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I loved all of the vaulted ceilings.

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One of the bedrooms…(this bedroom had AC which was super nice for sleeping)

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Washer and dryer in the bathroom…

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The kitchen…which was fully stocked with everything you could ever need. We were so happy we were able to do all of our cooking (except a couple of meals) while we stayed there.

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The front entry way and steps that lead up to the second bedroom…

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The second bedroom which overlooks the ocean and opens up to a walk-out balcony…

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Here is the main villa…They are still in the process of finishing it up but it will soon be available to rent. This would be an awesome place to bring a bunch of friends.

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We sat in the front of the main house most evenings and watched many beautiful sunsets!

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They provided plenty of toys…stand up paddle boards (photos to come soon), kayaks, snorkel gear, water floaties, beach chairs, boogie board, an electric car, etc etc etc! Everything was so well thought out.

sup and kayak

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We pretty much had the entire beach to ourselves which is something I have never experienced. I felt like we were VIP!

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The people of JODO were so accommodating and we felt so at home in our gorgeous villa. Everyone on the island was super friendly and welcoming. Our villa and the people over-exceeded my expectations. It was hard to say good-bye.

This is a very new place; we were only the third group to stay in the guest house. The main house should be open in a year or so. I really want to spread the word on this place because it is seriously so wonderful. They thought of everything!

We put together a little video of the villa to give you a better look. This is my very first video so please be kind! Enjoy!