Windy City Welcome to 2012

To conclude our holiday Midwest tour, Jeff and I rented a smoky-smelling Nissan and headed to the Windy City. Chicago – ah, Chicago! My home during 2008 (and Jeff’s home for 3-4 years), it’s where we got engaged and home to plenty of people we love: Jeff’s big bro Rob and his fab wife Amy (and her sister), several of our best couple friends, one of my close buds from high school, and millions of others united by biting cold winters and summers that make the rest of the year bearable. I love the city’s energy, its obsession with sports, and its striking contrast of beautiful sandy beaches against monster skyscrapers.

We rolled into town, and after dropping our bags at Rob and Amy’s West Loop condo (in the same building where Jeff and I lived), we immediately took advantage of the restaurant scene. Rob and Amy took us to a new, swanky but informal BYOB (another thing I love about Chicago!) called Butterfly. Perfect Thai, sushi deliciousness. The next morning, we hit XOCO, Rick Bayless’ ultra-popular new Mexican joint. Very tasty.

Love a good game!

Love a good game!

Sports fix time. Rob secured some great tickets to the Blawkhawks/Red Wings game at the United Center – strangely enough, my first-ever Red Wings game but my second Blawkhawks game. And I was introduced to quite the invention: a mac n’ cheese, Fritos hot dog. All I gotta say is wow.

But what we were really in town for was New Year’s Eve. Chicago can be a beast on NYE – bar and hotel parties cost an arm and a leg, it’s impossible to get a cab and the weather’s always frigid. So we were stoked our friends Jerry and Chrissie made dinner reservations at Carnivale – two blocks from Rob and Amy’s place – and reserved the party room at their apartment building – also two blocks from Rob and Amy’s place. Major score. Of course, the night was a blast, with party people Julie and Chepy (who also recently moved right by Rob and Amy), Neal and Amy, and Doug. We even stayed up ’til 3 a.m. – quite the accomplishment nowadays!

After a New Year’s Day lunch at Portillo’s with the gang, Jeff and I were off – back to Portland, back to see our pup Coop, and back to reality. It was quite the trip, and made me realize how lucky we are to have such amazing families and friends. Miss you all already!

P.S. Do yourself a favor and check out “Impractical Jokers” on truTV. Holy laughs.

Jeff rocking the mason jar VeeV cocktail

Jeff rocking the mason jar VeeV cocktail

Go Wings!

Go Wings!

Enjoying the Blackhawks/Red Wings game

Enjoying the Blackhawks/Red Wings game

Props to the inventor of this bad boy: mac n' cheese and Frito hot dog

Props to the inventor of this bad boy: mac n’ cheese and Frito hot dog

Unfortunately, Red Wings lost :(

Unfortunately, Red Wings lost 😦

Hello Chicago! View from Rob and Amy's balcony

Hello Chicago! View from Rob and Amy’s balcony

Our cute little "niece" Sookie (who only sleeps in Nike and Cole Haan boxes)

Our cute little “niece” Sookie (who’s particular about the boxes she sleeps in)

Here we are! Getting things started at Carnivale

Here we are! Getting things started at Carnivale

Reservation for eight at Carnivale on NYE

Reservation for eight at Carnivale on NYE

Amy, Julie and me ready to ring in the new year

Amy, Julie and me ready to ring in the new year

The guys (minus Neal): Jerry, Doug, Jeff, Rob and Chepy

The guys (minus Neal): Jerry, Doug, Jeff, Rob and Chepy

I love my sister-in-law. :) Good times.

I love my sister-in-law. 🙂 Good times.

Amy's thick, lustrous hair and Rob's hot dance moves

Amy’s thick, lustrous hair and Rob’s hot dance moves

The fabulous party-planners Chrissie and Jerry

The fabulous party-planners Chrissie and Jerry

Our crazy NYE crew at Carnivale

Our crazy NYE crew at Carnivale

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