An American Adventure – Chicago Edition

Last month, I went over to my parents’ house and slept over so we could wake up early the next morning and drive really far west. A friend of the family – someone I have known since I was four or five years old – was getting married1 in Chicago.

I have been to Chicago before, but it was winter and while the snow made everything that much more beautiful, it was far too cold to really enjoy just how beautiful the city is. We arrived at almost 1am on Friday morning, and left at 8am on Sunday morning. There was a rehearsal and dinner held on the Friday, and the wedding itself on the Saturday – it was a busy weekend.

I had insisted on driving through Cleveland for our mid-way stop. I didn’t want to drive through Michigan, so I scoured the routes to try to find something fun to check out. What’s more fun than checking out a craft brewery while you’re on a road trip?! The Great Lakes Brewery was in the heart of “downtown” Cleveland. We walked around a bit to stretch our legs, before going into the brewery for a linner-like snack. The food was okay, but the beer was delicious.

Rye Oh Rye Can’t We Win

Sausage and Perogies anyone?


I went with a dark rye IPA called, “Rye oh rye can’t we win,” ’twas delicious. I only got a half-pint as it would be my turn to drive once we got back on the road. I bought a growler to take home to Toronto with me, and a six pack of a few of their other brews.

The Air BnB we stayed in was a little disappointing for a family of clean freaks, but it didn’t stop us from enjoying our stay. Besides, the location was so convenient and lovely that the fact that we had to sweep under the bed a little bit and avoid the window sills really wasn’t all that much of an inconvenience. I do wish we had been able to use the jacuzzi in the bathroom, but we were only really in the apartment to sleep, shower and get ready all three days that we stayed.

There was so much to love about our trip to Chicago; everything we did was a lot of fun: The Chicago Riverwalk, The Lake Michigan Sightseeing Cruise, Walking to and through Millennium Park, Going for coffee and breakfast (Jackalope Coffee & Tea, Ain`t She Sweet Cafe and Robust Coffee Lounge), going shopping , and of course the rehearsal and dinner, the beautiful wedding ceremony and dining and dancing at the wedding reception.

Aren’t they cute walking down the aisle?
These balloons at the rehearsal dinner made their way to the wedding reception too

The beautiful couple’s first dance
The gorgeous Chicago waterfront
Windswept on the boat tour

I thought it would be hard being in Chicago after the changes I’ve made in my life recently, but it was surprisingly easy and carefree. Life, actually, has been wonderfully carefree2 in general. I still feel some pain, but it is so much more manageable than it was. I think I might even have gotten a glimpse of the end of the tunnel – I say might because I am trying to focus on the here and now.

On the way back, we drove through Michigan; specifically, we stopped in on the Great Lakes Crossing Outlet Mall. We scored some pretty sweet deals, but we also had a longer stop-over than we did on the way to Chicago… not a big deal at the time, but it meant that we didn’t get back to Toronto until 1am again. Getting up for work the next day was a little tough, but it was all worth it. I hope this is the first of many road trips I get to take with my parents, and hopefully we’ll be able to take my brother and our beloved dog with us on the next trip.

Enjoy the first half of the photos from our trip. More to come later this week.

  1. finally – it’s a long story[]
  2. maybe not completely but there has certainly been a vast improvement[]

Two weeks of silence [on the blog]

I had something written up, but I decided against posting it. I’ve made a lot of changes in the last couple of weeks. I also had to make an incredibly difficult and painful decision two weekends ago. It was a decision I never thought I’d be able to go through with, let alone something that I would need to do. All my friends tell me that I’m doing the right thing. Based on the hole in my heart, I simply have to take their word for it right now.

On a related note, I’ve been dying to get out of this city1 – at the very least for the winter – but it looks like I’ll be staying put after all. I received word that an important project I’ve been waiting to hear about has decided to take me on; while I was under the impression that I would want to defer their acceptance it turns out that it’s too important [to me] to do that.

In a way, I’m glad. I’m glad that I’m capable of managing the things I need to manage2 enough to be an adult, and keep my commitments. Then again, there is that part of me that was so ready to soar with wonder, curiosity and awe at all the new things that traveling to foreign places can inspire.

I’ll just have to settle for continuing with mini-adventures with good friends, and hopefully a few with my family too.

In the mean time, enjoy some photos3 of my Montreal trip last month 🙂

image image
Satay Brothers | Atwater Market

Dinner á la Reggy

Tequila+Watermelon cocktail aprés le diner
And played this awesome game (I can’t remember what it’s called though)

Thoroughly Enjoyed their Food Truck Festival called #FirstFridays

Man-made beach with a view of my favourite bridge, what more could you ask for?
  1. Toronto[]
  2. hiiiiii emotions[]
  3. and video[]

Life between Adventures

I’ve been lucky enough to go on many adventures this summer. Cottaging, camping, Montréal, Tubing at the Elora Gorge… and a few more still to come1. I’ve also been lucky though to have had some mini-adventures right here in the city.

Like hanging out with SweetGIF at the CBC Music Festival.

It was one of the first of those hot, hot Toronto summer days but we kept our cool and showed those CBC festival goers just how exciting and fun SweetGIF can be.

Or hanging with some of the loveliest of my friends on my balcony, whether it be rainy and cold, scorching hot or just right2.

Red Sangria from Sangria Hangs Part 1
Jo in the background, with some White Sangria from Sangria Hangs Part 2
Forgot to take photos of the Sangria, but this was the spread at Sangria Hangs Part 3

I won’t be able to host one of these this month, but I’m so grateful I was able to host one every month for the last 3 months. I started hosting them because I needed to surround myself with wonderful people who I knew had my back, people I knew who loved me despite all my flaws, and maybe some of them even love me because of them. I am so grateful to have such wonderful people in my life.

Don’t you know… girls just want to have fun

And then there was this night out with the girls. We got dolled up. We ordered wine, orgasmic appetizers, drool-worthy meals and were treated to a large assortment of delectable desserts by the staff at Boehmer as we celebrated the last few weeks of our darling friend’s unmarried life.

He’ll always be my prom king

And then there was that night we went to Notable Prom. The event itself wasn’t spectacular but it certainly was fun getting out with one of my best friends, and reliving our prom night even if only by regaling stories we remembered.

Live music in the city: Alyson Menamara and her band rockin’ the house
Riding out to Etobicoke means I get to ride through, under and all around this beautiful bridge
And then there was the day we3 went skinny dipping at the Scarborough Bluffs – sorry, skinny dipping not pictured
  1. Chicago and Cleveland being the next big one[]
  2. under a blanket fort[]
  3. not the same person as any of the above[]

Please take me back there

We left a wee bit later than I wanted to, but we were still on the highway by 9:30am. There were a total of seven of us who went up to the cottage this week; we took two cars up and arrived at the cottage about 30 minutes apart. It took me a full day to fully unwind this time around1, and even then I wasn’t fully myself.

First day, and the water was just right

I tried my best to be present with everyone, but the gnawing feeling in the back of my mind and heart were incessant. More and more it’s becoming extremely evident that the only option I have is the one option I really wish I didn’t want to have to take. But this isn’t about all that. This is about how lucky I felt to have been able to spend three and a half days with people who I don’t feel deserving to know so intimately. I can only hope that I never made anyone feel uncomfortable simply by going through what I’m going through. I swear, I tried my best.

It isn’t that I don’t think I am worthy in the sense that I am worthless, no, it is merely that I know how many amazing people there are in the world and I know how lucky I am that they chose me to include in their lives2.

This old firehall was a good landmark for my morning runs

There was a fascinating dynamic present, and it made for a great mix of deep connection and light-hearted fun. There was a lot of sexual innuendo, dad jokes and puns, mixed in with talk about Myers-Briggs test results and philosophical topics about love and connection. They are wonderful because they choose to live authentic lives, they open their hearts to everyone, careful not to let anyone in who doesn’t truly deserve it. I could really learn a lot from these people.

I love how much simpler life is at the cottage: waking up unassisted by alarms, going for a morning run breathing in nothing but fresh air, stretching with a gorgeous view of the lake, trees and wildlife in the distance, enjoying a morning coffee with the same view, swim-showering in the lake, sun-drying beside the same awesome people I mentioned above, lunching, going for boat rides, visiting the look-out tower, swimming in Oxtongue Ragged Falls, playing cards against humanity with some of the dirtiest3 minds, vicky-cures4, roaring fires, star gazing, and the best part of all – celebrating the birth of a woman who inspires me to be the best version of myself.

I spent quite a bit of time working on purging unnecessary items from my home this past weekend. Less time than I would have liked, but it still felt good. It has been a slow process – purging the unnecessary from my life – because I’m so sentimental, and because I have a hard time giving up things5. I just need to keep the end goal in mind, and all this time in-between, and the feeling that continues to gnaw at me will be something I will learn to harness so I can become the ultimate version of me6.

I digress.

The wiew from the look-out tower will take your breath away

I just want to send out a thank you to those I spent the week with at the cottage. You may not have known it at the time, but you helped this lost soul feel like she belongs even if only for a few days. I am forever grateful for your generosity.

Goofballs at the falls
The sunset on our last night was like a warm hug goodbye from Mother Nature herself
  1. compared to the last time I went away – to go camping anyway[]
  2. I’m even more aware of how lucky I am because there is someone I chose to keep in my life right now who takes me for granted – and while I wish it was as easy to do as it is to say, I know I should cut them out…but like I said, easier said than done[]
  3. aka the best[]
  4. special manicures by the birthday girl herself[]
  5. and giving up on people[]
  6. not that I’m admitting to being an X-Men but I’m not saying I’m not[]