Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday The 13th

Happy Friday the 13th!  I wouldn't say that I am superstitious but I certainly am more cautious on Friday the 13th. 

Did you know that there is an actual word used to describe being afraid of Friday the 13th?  Paraskevidekatriaphobia, I swear it's true, I couldn't make it up if I tried. 

Did you also know that in 2012 we have 3 Friday the 13th's?

In honor of Friday the 13th we are going to deviate from the normal topics and talk about something near and dear to my heart, CHICAGO!

Growing up in the suburbs I always had dreams of moving to the city when I got older.  After several years of living in the suburbs after college I was ready to take the leap and moved to the city.  Ironically I move into a building and lived on the 13th floor for my first year downtown. 

I find it interesting that many buildings now don't have a 13th floor, if you have 20 floors and you skip naming one of the floors 13, doesn't that make the 14th floor the 13th floor anyway? 

If I had the choice of two apartments, one on the 13th floor and one on a different floor I would have probably chosen the other floor, but either way, my year of living on the 13th floor turned out to be awesome and reaffirmed my love of the city.

So today, on Friday the 13th I am going to share with you (in no particular order) my 13 reasons why I love living in Chicago, especially in the summer:

1.) The Chicago Cubs. 

This is no surprise, I love them and try to make it to the Friendly Confines as often as I can.  Interestingly the year that I went to the most Cubs games (32) was when I lived out in the suburb of St. Charles.  Each game required a 75 minute train ride, a 15 minute walk and a 20 minute L ride each way, now that is dedication!  I also had a lot more vacation time at that point which helped. 

2.) Millennium Park Concerts. 

 If you have never been to a concert at Millennium Park you need to go immediately, I am not kidding, stop reading and go now.  Millennium Park offers FREE concerts just about every day of the week and runs the full gamut of musical styles.  I can't think of a better way to spend a warm summer night then under the stars with a picnic (wine is a must) at Millennium Park.  IF I had ranked my favorite summer activities this would probably be #1, yes, even more than the Cubs, there is just something so magical and enchanting about it.

3.) Long Days. 

With so much to do in Chicago I am ever grateful for long lazy summer days.  You know the ones where you get home from work and realise that you have 4+ hours of sunlight left to do whatever your heart desires?  Love that!

4.) Movies in The Park. 

Similar to Millennium Park Concerts, Movies in the Park are a more relaxed version with a similar set up.  The Chicago Park District has movies all summer long on the lawns of parks around Chicago and range in topics from kids movies, to classics to newer films.

5.) Ravinia 

In all of the years of living in and around Chicago I had never been to Ravinia until this summer.  It had always been on my list of things to try and now after experiencing it it has moved to my list of "summer musts".  Located in Highland Park and easily accessible by both car and Metra, Ravinia offers concerts and shows all summer long.  Similar to MP Concerts and Movies in the Park you can bring a picnic dinner complete with adult beverages of your choice to enjoy on the lawn before the show and at intermissions.  A few weekends ago I saw Jake Shimabukuro and he was awesome!  You might remember him from is performance in Central Park thanks to YouTube.  We had seen him perform live once while on vacation many years back and now he is well-known, kudos to Jake and his ability to rock "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on a ukulele!! 

6.) Oak Street Beach

What a gorgeous beach and conveniently located just a few blocks from me!  Great for Saturdays, not so great for workdays when I would much rather be at the beach. 

With so many things to offer, Oak Street Beach is a must for the summer.  Although the water tends to be mighty cold for most of the season it can be easily over come after a few cocktails at the Beachstro. 

In addition to relaxing on the beach and wasting the day away covered in some sort of coconut smelling sunscreen while sipping frosty beverages Oak Street has a lot of activity around it.  Volleyball, biking, boating and swimming just to name a few. 

7.) Entertaining on My Balcony

While I do enjoying dining out I would much rather be at home cooking.  To avoid being a hermit, I love to invite friends over to my place instead of going out to eat, it allows me to cook and socialize at the same time.  The summer months are especially fun because we can eat alfresco!  There is just something about a few pitchers of sangria, some Marley or Dylan playing in the background, a delicious meal and good friends that make everything right in the world.  It also doesn't hurt when this takes place around sunset time, another thing I love about my west facing balcony :)

8.) Farmer's Markets

In addition to supporting local agriculture farmer's markets offer an abundance of fresh produce at reasonable prices and a good opportunity to get out and enjoy the day.  I visit my local farmers market as often as I can, not only does it supply me with fruits, vegetables and flowers for my table but I also buy plants and vegetables for my balcony garden each season.

9.) Sitting Outside

When I do dine out or meet friends for drinks the question of "would you like to sit inside or out" is aways a silly one to me!  We spend 7-8 months of the year cooped up inside, when the weather is nice it isn't even a question as to where to sit.  Whether it is at Starbucks, a rooftop bar or the restaurant down the street outdoor seating is a must.

10.) Outdoor Exercise

I am not going to lie, I don't really find exercise fun, it is more of something that I have to do to stay healthy and be able to indulge in treats.  There are a few exceptions to the rule such as when exercise involves being outside.  Did you know that Millennium Park offers exercise classes every Saturday morning for FREE?  It is quite a surreal experience, hundreds of people on the great lawn working out in unison.  It doesn't matter if you don't know what you are doing (speaking from experience!) it is just a fun and a good way to get moving.  I have also recently re-discovered biking along the lake, beautiful scenery, fresh air and physical fitness.  Many gyms that have an outdoor area also offer special classes during the summer.  My gym offers sunrise yoga, spin class and doga (yoga with your dog) on their roof, see above.

11.) Festivals 

If you are in Chicago anytime between May and September chances are that there is a festival going on.  From art to music to ethnic cuisine festivals are abundant and sure to please any palate.  My favorites?  Greekfest, Andersonville Midsommarfest, Rock Around the Block and Summer on Southport. 

12.) Visiting Friends and Family


Summer in the city means lots of friend and family visits and time to explore my wonderful city!  I will never get tired of being a tourist in my own town.  Want to visit the John Hancock building?  Yes please!  Chicago Style pizza for dinner?  Of course!  A visit to the Art Institute?  I will be there!  One of my favorite books is "Not for Tourist Guide to Chicago".  It breaks the city down by all of it's neighborhoods.  When I am looking for something to do I love to pick an area that I have never been to before and go explore.

Ethel M. Chocolate
  Speaking of family and friends visiting, I am so exciting because TODAY my grandparents are in town!!  Included on today's agenda is Cirque Shanghai Year of The Dragon, an archicetural boat tour and navy pier!  Want to know an interesting fact about the Colonel?  He was born on Friday the 13th!

13.) Ice Cream

Ice cream is delicious all year round but there is something that makes it even better during warm summer months!  Whether it's ice cream from the man in the truck, gelato from the park or a three scoops of creamy decadence from the store down the street ice cream in the summer is super. 

Now you combine walking to get ice cream with any of the things I have mentioned above and you have yourself a great idea!

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