Sunday Night Check-In: Chicago, Lush & La La Land

I spent the weekend in Chicago with my friend Nancy. It’s not a long trip from here, but it does involve tolls and a time change. I got to her place in Des Plaines early Saturday, and we stopped at a place called Tiffany’s for breakfast. We made our plan for the day which included a stop at Lush Cosmetics for some curly hair products.

I’ve been experimenting with some different products for my hair with varying success. I’m not sure why I insist on trying to fix something that’s not broken but I can’t help myself. Lush has all-natural shampoo bars that look like bars of soap so they have minimal packaging. I like that concept, so I wanted to give them a try. We parked out front of the Bucktown location, and I was amazed that in Chicago you can use your mobile phone to pay for parking instead of parking meters. Nancy pulled up the app and paid for a couple of hours, and we went in to the sweet-smelling, trendy Lush boutique.

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I told the sales clerk what I wanted, and she gave me a complete tour of their super-hydrating, unusual hair products which were made with coconut oil, beeswax and a variety of other hydrating and cleansing products. Some were in bars and others looked like cheese wheels. You could cut off as much as you like, and you paid by the pound. I decided to try one called Trichomania, got a sample of a texturing paste and bought some hand cream and lotion. She also showed us some tooth powder which is powdered toothpaste. I liked the idea so I got a sample to take home.

Buzz: Killer Espresso

We decided to get some coffee at a place called Buzz: Killer Espresso. I got a hot chocolate which was this really mildly-flavored “not too sweet” chocolatey drink in a gorgeous mug. We watched the shoppers go by on the street and then visited an art gallery and a small neighborhood specialty supermarket. After our two hours were up, we headed to the Pickwick Theater in Park Ridge to see La La Land.

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Much to our surprise this beautiful old theater was one huge theater. I don’t know how they’d ever fill it up these days. But we grabbed some buttered popcorn and found the perfect seats out of the hundred of seats that were available. The movie – a romantic comedy modern-day musical – was absolutely charming, and we both felt really uplifted after it was over. As a couple of single gals, the plot sparked some great conversation over coffee about the nature of romantic relationships and the inherent difficulty of making one work.

For an early dinner, we stopped at a restaurant that she passes by frequently in her neighborhood called Balkanika. We weren’t sure what kind of food it was, so we checked out the menu before being seated. The gentleman at the bar said it was Balkan cuisine, and since neither of us had ever had Balkan cuisine, we decided to try it. It was simply amazing! We got a sampler of dishes which included cheesy, garlicky potatoes, broccoli cooked with a creamy garlic sauce and and skewers of perfectly grilled chicken beef. It was the best comfort food I’d had in awhile.

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I know it’s too dark,  but it’s the only one we took together.

We went to bed early and read and got up for coffee and chatter this morning. We went to a Fashion Outlet mall in Rosemont, had lunch at Whole Foods and then went back to her place. I had to drive home, and I lost an hour, so I left about 2 PM. I stopped at an Oasis on the way home. On the highways in Chicago, they don’t really have rest areas because it’s so crowded and so difficult to get off on the side streets. So, they build these little centers that are clusters of fast-food restaurants, service stations and restrooms that look over the interstate. They remind me of an airport but instead of boarding a plane, you get back into your car.

The Oasis

It had been a gorgeous sunny weekend, but the minute I arrived in St. Joe, the clouds took over. I had not exercised all weekend, so I threw on some running clothes and went for a run. I followed that up with one of my strength-training workouts from my Virtual Boot Camp. This happened to be the last workout of my 12-week program! I stayed committed through the holidays and for a solid 12 weeks. I was sick one week, and there were a few weeks that I replaced the strength workouts with hiking, but I stayed committed the entire time!! Woohoo!! I am so proud of myself, and I’m ready for tank top season even though it’s freezing outside.

It was great to spend a weekend with a good friend with lots of coffee and good food and fun activities. Ashok didn’t get to come, and I can’t pick her up until tomorrow. My cats seem to be happy to have my full attention, and I’m ready to call it a night. I hope y’all have a great week. I’ll have to figure out my workout plan for this week since my boot camp is over, but I want to stay the course.

Get moving, ya’ll! It’ll make you feel better. Have a great week.

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