Think Local

Think Local

Today I’m departing from our summer trip re-cap (I’ll pick back up with Wisconsin Dells next week) to give you all a little challenge.  I need it too – so I’ll be joining right in! Without any current trips planned, I need to find a way to still enjoy a “vacation” lifestyle.  Living near a decent sized city (Indianapolis) there are many things to do, but I tend to ignore what’s in my own backyard – the small suburb town I live in.  Don’t we all?  Even those of us who live in a vacation destination often take it for granted. So this week, I challenge you to take a day, afternoon or even an evening to do something locally.  Pick something that you’ve always said you need to check out, or a new restaurant to try, or a tourist attraction that you overlook since it’s always available. I spent all of 15 minutes this morning researching to try to find something fun and came up with so much!  A paint your own pottery place, shopping on our downtown square, TWO new restaurants that I haven’t tried yet, floating down the river, archery and/or a ropes course at our newest park, a winery I never knew existed and the 4-H fair.  Definitely, plenty I could do.  The fair will for sure happen as both my kids exhibit lots of projects, and in fact, I’ll do a full post next week on how to enjoy your county or state fair.  Now I just need to put together a fun outing with something else I’ve found … Check back next week...
Chicago Visit – Day 3

Chicago Visit – Day 3

Our last day in Chicago – we did a lot this trip but didn’t even touch everything we would have liked to have done.  Next time, right? We started the day by walking from our hotel to Millenium Park – it was about 15 minutes, so an easy little stroll.  It was going to be a hot day, so there were already lots of people enjoying the Crown Fountain. Just a few feet later we checked out the Bean.  We took dozens of pictures and had fun walking all around it, but my favorite was this one looking up into it from underneath: We walked across the bridge into the Maggie Daley Park next.  This is a fairly new addition to the city and a great place to hang out for a few hours or afternoon.  There is a huge climbing wall surrounded by what is called the Skating Ribbon.  We had planned to rent roller blades and skate around it, but the ribbon was closed for a summer camp – next time!  In the winter, they turn the ribbon into a place to ice skate – I think that would be fun.  The park also has a mini-golf course, play garden and several open fields perfect for kicking a ball around.  It’s a great addition to the city. As my daughter loves all things Italian, next we walked over to Eataly for lunch and shopping.  If you love Italian food, this is a fun place to check out.  We enjoyed checking out all the varieties of pasta, sauces, cheeses, oils, etc.  We purchased a few types of pasta...
Chicago Visit – Day 2

Chicago Visit – Day 2

The second day of our Chicago trip started early for me.  Everyone was sleeping so I slipped out to the Starbucks across the street to get a little work done.  It was relaxing and fun to people watch in a different city. Once we got going, we hopped onto the Big Bus and took it over to Navy Pier.  We had just enough time to enjoy a smoothie and green juice before walking over to the Shakespeare Theater to see the opening performance of Peter Pan.  What a treat!  The theater itself is beautiful and worth a visit – there isn’t a bad seat in the house.  The show was well done and so enjoyable.  If you’d like to hear more about it – I did a separate post HERE. After the show, we walked around the Pier and enjoyed the beautiful views.  Since it was lunchtime we decided to eat right there in the Food Court.  There was definitely something for everyone, so it was quick and easy.  We also indulged in a little sample of Garrett’s Popcorn courtesy of our Big Bus Tour – yum! Since time was getting short, we called an Uber and had the driver take us to the Adler Planetarium.  If you have any interest in space (my son is currently all about astronomy), then this is a must-see.  There was a lot of information, multiple exhibits, and some fun interactive areas.  We spent quite a bit of time making a hovercraft and testing to see if it would work – I love these type of hands-on projects. Hard to believe but by...
Spy-Themed Restaurant?  SAFEHOUSE!

Spy-Themed Restaurant? SAFEHOUSE!

On our last night in Chicago, we were treated to a wonderful experience at a restaurant called The SafeHouse.  This is the second location for this spy-themed restaurant (the first being in Milwaukee) but I could definitely see it growing.  In fact, during dinner, we mentioned several times that this would be a huge hit in the Orlando area. Your first challenge is finding the restaurant.  There is an address, but there isn’t a big splashy entrance like you’ll find at most restaurants.  In fact, the only clues are a small plaque and a few signs – on a busy street like this one in Chicago, you have to look carefully or you’ll miss it! Open the door to find a simple reception room.  The receptionist asks who you are there to see.  If you know the password, you’ll be let right in.  Don’t worry if you don’t know the password though – you’ll just have to do something to gain access and prove you aren’t a double-agent.  If your kids are with you, ham it up – they’ll love it. The restaurant is really amazing.  Once seated, you’ll be greeted by your special agent and asked to make your own special agent nametags – which you are now known as … Our agent – Agent Mardi Gras was as fun as her name implies and she didn’t let us off the hook at all.  We had a variety of fun challenges throughout the meal that we had to complete.  Being a competitive family, we relished the chance to try to beat each other to the answers, solve the...
Try Something New – Live Shows

Try Something New – Live Shows

The lights flash, everyone around us begins to quiet down.  All eyes are on the stage.  The orchestra fires up.  The show is about to begin. How I love live theatre! Unlike a movie, live theatre feels more like an “event”.  Something special.  It takes a lot of people and tons of talent to put on a live show.  We are lucky to live in a world where talented people can entertain us while doing something they love.  Here are my favorite tips for adding live theatre to your life: Find a performance that interests you.  If you live near any decent sized city, college or university, I guarantee there are many options available year round.  Google “your city live theatre” and see what you find.  Take a look at the upcoming shows and give something a try – you never know if you’ll enjoy it until you go – and even if you were to hate the show, it might make for a good story later.  Live in a small town?  How about adding an evening of theatre to your next vacation plans?  That will make for a fun vacation memory! Create a plan.  Decide how much you enjoy live theatre (after trying out a show or two) and put the necessary amount into your budget.  Sometimes buying tickets ahead of time can save you money.  Or, it might be less expensive to purchase season tickets.  I like doing that because then I KNOW I’ll go – it gives me 5 or 6 guaranteed fun nights out for the year. Can’t afford it?  There are options.  Volunteering is...
No Vacation In Sight?

No Vacation In Sight?

Summer is in full swing, and many of us have exciting vacations planned.  But what if you don’t?  Or you just got back from your vacation and don’t have another one in the works?   What to do when you need that “I’m on vacation” feeling? I say fake it. Nope, you probably can’t just take off and go somewhere (if you can, I’m envious!), but you CAN change your mindset – at least for a few hours. Take a look around town (or Yelp) for a fun, local restaurant that has outdoor seating.  A water view is ideal, but at least find something with good people watching.  If you are lucky enough to score someplace with live music that’s a real bonus.  Another fun option would be a local winery or brewery that offers appetizers or charcuterie. Order yourself a fancy cocktail or glass of wine and a few appetizers – preferably something fancy.  Now, pretend you are off on an amazing vacation.  Don’t think about what you “should” be doing the rest of the night – tonight is all about vacation time and vacations don’t have to-do lists.  After dinner, stroll leisurely through a nearby town or neighborhood.  Have fun conversations about where you’d like to go, what you’d like to see in the next year. Is it a real vacation?  Not even close, but it’s amazing how a little break in the ordinary and experiencing the types of things you’d do on a vacation can help you feel a little more carefree and relaxed.   Just like a good vacation. What do you do when you don’t have...

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