Monday, October 20, 2014

weekend in the city

i really don't get to the heart of downtown chicago very often. i tell people it might as well be texas for all the hassle it can be to fight traffic from the 'burbs. but on saturday, a birthday party for this girl (so cool it had its own hashtag) enticed me, and ryan and i decided (half last-minute, half accidentally...long story, ask me sometime) to make a weekend of it in the city.

normally we're fastidious planners and this weekend was anything but fastidiously planned. we basically booked a hotel on priceline and then wandered from there. it was a ton of fun...truly perfect, and i thought i'd share some of the places & spaces we found.

first item on any perfect city weekend wishlist is a great hotel. you don't have much choice on priceline, but we didn't really care, and we ended up at the swissotel near michigan avenue and the trump and all that fancy stuff. i'd never heard of it, but it was pretty great!

it had crazy lights in the lobby...

and a spectacular view of the city from our room.

i forgot to tell you that our first stop was actually a target after dropping the kids off with my friend holly (awesome, amazing woman that she is) so that ryan could watch me agonize over whether or not to buy the half-off-in-stores-only altuzzara booties. i should also mention that siri gives terrible directions in the city, especially if you find yourself on lower wacker drive, a place i didn't know existed and never want to be again. think gotham. (true story, chicago is where they filmed batman. i totally get why now).

shortly after check-in, i got my first call from one of my children...our oldest (at age 8) was sad and missing mom. some kissy face pictures and emoji texting cheered him up.

he had never emoji-texted before. it escalated quickly. i'm not sure how alarmed i should be at the amount of bombs and guns he sent me.

we had dinner at morton's, which was very nice but felt a little stuffy, and also a little bizarre when the waitress took our picture and framed it in a happy anniversary frame. and yeah, waaaaay expensive. like, once every ten years expensive.

i was very curious to see how late i would sleep with blackout shades drawn and no kids to wake me up. i slept until 6:20 am. guess it takes a while to reset the mom clock or something. sheesh. morning light...

my darling husband got me a venti mocha and a chocolate croissant for breakfast. we had dubbed the weekend a belated getaway for our anniversary, but it's also ryan's birthday today, so we were celebrating two things. happy birthday ryan! this is a test to see if you're still reading.

i loved watching the city wake up. speaking of which, our waiter for brunch (at 12:30 pm) asked if we wanted a little more time to "wake up" before ordering. that was hilarious to me.

we left the hotel around 11, drove along lake shore drive and pulled over to watch the waves a minute. they were enormous! like ocean sized. the day was cloudy and sprinkly, but i loved how the clouds and light were soft and moody.

we then left the glittery side of town and spent the rest of the day over by wicker park. we stopped at unison, a new favorite store i found on my last trip downtown. ryan talked food with the sweet people manning the shop and i drooled over wool fall throws. we loved walking around wicker park, and ryan's biggest regret was skipping the opportunity to get one of these donuts.

we ate brunch at the carriage house. it was awesome, but i will warn you our portions were unreal small. if you're really hungry, order sides.

they served water in these great bottles, which i am sooo going to go find at hobby lobby or something for my next gathering. tons cuter than a typical pitcher. 

naturally i had to take a picture of their bathroom. confession time? i take tons of selfies in bathroom mirrors lately. i have no idea why.

after brunch, and after ryan's foodie conversation at unison, i thought i might have to just go on a food crawl for the rest of the day. but we decided to look through this post for some good shopping instead. it reminded me that salvage one has been on my bucket list for. ev. er. so we headed a couple miles away. surprisingly, street parking was quite available throughout the day, which was nice because we drove pretty much everywhere to avoid the chill and rain.

luckily, kyla had warned me the building didn't have very obvious signage, so we were prepared. a small sign on the door is all you can expect to see if you go:

most of the things in this store, like doors, windows, and hardware were pretty beat up (i guess that's why it's called architectural salvage) so they'd need some elbow grease. they had an incredible selection of giant letters and numbers, in case you're in the market for those. lots of mid-century furniture. old sinks and tubs that were virtually destroyed. the best part was really just seeing the space itself, which has become a popular chicago wedding venue. it was truly gorgeous, with treasures spanning three floors of goodness. when we came in, the guy behind the counter said to start at the top floor and work your way down. 

after all of this, we still had 4+ hours to kill before our party (dang hipster parties, starting at hours of the night that should be illegal for people our age!) so we went to a movie. seriously, there were so many moments during the weekend where i kept thinking, "what is this? where am i?" because it's so rare that we actually go to a movie or shop unencumbered by a stroller or wake up in the morning without little feet on our face. we saw kill the messenger with jeremy renner (i saw clips of it on the daily show and had really wanted to see it) and it was excellent. i think he's a great actor. attention marvel: DO the hawkeye movie.

finally, party time! the party was at the violet hour, which they say is a speakeasy. i thought that was just a gimmick until i experienced the crazy secrecy that surrounds this place. if you call, a real person doesn't answer. it's just a message with no option to leave one or reach a human. the door is completely camouflaged. i actually wouldn't have ever found it if i hadn't stalked the joint on instagram before heading over. there was a line that formed almost as soon as it opened, and i have no evidence those poor people ever got in. the whole bar was excessively dark (in a great way) and no one was standing. everyone had a seat, mainly in very high-backed groupings of cozy chairs. our hosts had booked a private event so we got to bypass the line and hang out in the back by the fireplace. it was really truly amazing, and i'd absolutely love to go back. 

this picture is actually from their instagram, because they don't allow cell phones in the place. whoa...see? crazy secrecy. all i got was a bathroom selfie. (this one's for you kyla).

and that was it! our chicago weekend. i left the glamour girl in the violet hour bathroom and we headed over to collect the kids first thing on sunday. i did really miss them. and then it was back to the suburban staples of life.

what did you guys do this weekend? 


  1. Wow! This sounds like an amazing adventure! So glad you seized the opportunity to see a slice of life that's totally unique and unknown to the rest of us commoners. And a huge thanks from "Mimi" to Holly for taking such good care of my darlings! Oh, and Happy Birthday dear Ryan. You're the best!!!

  2. Laura! I'm so glad you guys had such an awesome week! It is such a rarity to have the weekend to ourselves, isn't it? Happy birthday to Ryan (and to Kyla, of course:)

    (Love all your pictures, especially the emoji texts. My son does the same thing!)

  3. Great weekend. Great wife. Not in that order.


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