How to Spend a Long Weekend in Chicago - Part 2

18 December 2019


Following on from my first post about our long weekend in Chicago, I thought I better get 'part two' up pretty sharpish! If you missed part one, you can read it here.


Sunday

On Sunday we were still up bright and early {thanks to the Zara delivery man who called me all the way from the UK at 4am US time 😅} but after Saturday night, we opted for a slow morning and made our way across town to the highly recommended Little Goat Diner. We'd booked a table and if you're planning a visit, I highly recommend you do - it was packed, and for a good reason. The food was divine...we started with a Cinnabon as big as my head {God bless America!} and even as someone who hates cinnamon, I loved it. Followed up by a spanish omelette for me with a side of hash browns big enough to feed a small village, french toast with fried chicken and an asian breakfast bowl for my friends. We all thoroughly enjoyed our food and would have definitely gone back had we found it earlier in the trip 🤤. We also stopped by their Photo Booth on the way out which I think is such a cute idea, I love printed photos and definitely don't take enough of them!


After we were suitably stuffed, we headed back to the Loop to start our Chicago Crime and Gangster Tour. I'm not normally one for organised 'tourist' tours, preferring to just wander around when and where I want to, but this is one of the tours I fully recommend you take part in. If you're at all interested in crime, 20s/30s gangster culture or just love a murder documentary..then this one's for you. We booked our tickets through Get Your Guide for around £30, and it was well worth the money. Our guide was funny, engaging and full of information...and I even managed to get myself pushed into a mobsters secret underground safe {blurry photographic evidence below!} 🙃. 




After we'd all finished gushing about how great the crime tour was, we headed to London House for a glass of wine with a view. The inside of London House is lovely, but the magic lies in the terrace outside, with an unbeatable view of the river. Again, I'd imagine is better on a summer's evening when it's not freezing and misty, but it still had its charm on a foggy December afternoon. Definitely not a spot to miss if you're a fan of a drink with a view! They also pride themselves on being a great place to propose if you're planning to pop the question in the windy city! 



After London House, we took a short wander down to the Chicago Theatre to get that classic tourist shot once the sun had gone down and you could really see the lights in all of their glory, before heading back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. Sunday night meant it was finally time for us to go our for some traditional Chicago Deep Dish Pizza and we were so excited. We'd spent the entire trip asking every Chicago native that we bumped into where we should go for pizza and got a different answer pretty much every time...the two that kept coming up were Lou Minati's and Giordano's, and in the end Lou Malnati's won out 🍕. We went for their classic cheese and sausage deep dish pizza and it did not disappoint {we shared a medium between 3 of us and it was plenty of food!}. I never got time {or the room in my stomach} to get down to Giordano's but I'm told if you want a more cheesy pizza then it's the place to go, and if you want a more saucy pizza then Lou Malnati's is for you! 



After pizza we headed to the Library at the Gilt Bar, a hidden speakeasy, for French and Dirty Martinis to finish the night. We were still quite tired and jet lagged so didn't stay long but the bar had a really cool atmosphere and a vintage Photo Booth where you can get your photo taken {for free} and stick the spare strip of photos on the wall with the date you were there - a very cool idea, and it was really fun to see everyones photos up on the wall! 

Monday

Monday was our final day in the city, and lucky for us our flight was late in the evening so we had the whole day left to enjoy the city. For brunch, we headed to 3 Arts Club Cafe which is a beautiful 'outside on the inside' themed cafe in a Restoration Hardware {worth going just to have a look around the shop - it's stunning!}. I had a truffle grilled cheese which, although isn't your typical brunch food, was incredible. 


After brunch we walked down to the 'Magnificent Mile' for some shopping...aka, spending all of my money in Sephora and took a little lunchtime visit to the worlds biggest Starbucks. It has 5 floors, a bar and a roof terrace! I wouldn't say you *need* to see this, but if you find yourself walking past and there's no queue then why not pop inside...if you actually want a coffee, there's a regular Starbucks across the road with no queue 😅. 


After we were thoroughly shopped out, we headed to Barrio for a mexican dinner before our flight. If you like mexican food, then I can't recommend Barrio enough, and they also do an excellent margarita {on happy hour if you head there early!}. We started off with these epic nachos and then I went for the Mahi Mahi tacos which were one of the specials that day, I'd definitely recommend them if you see them on the menu again!

As you can probably tell by all of the gushing, Chicago was amazing - somewhere I'd recommend anyone to visit. The city has so much history, but is also awash with modern bars, restaurants {with some of the best food I've ever eaten}, the loveliest people and plenty to do! I'll definitely be visiting again one day - although maybe in the summer where thermals and 3 pairs of socks aren't such a necessity! 

xo Becky 

How to Spend a Long Weekend in Chicago - Part 1


Chicago, chicago...what a town! I wasn't going to bother writing anything about our time in Chicago as I wanted to just enjoy a lovely pre-Christmas break without the stress of having to sit down and write about it as soon as I got back. However, it's one of my favourite American cities so I felt like I just had to share with you what we did and where we ate & drank in-case you're planning a little trip yourself {hint: you definitely should be}. 



Friday

We arrived in Chicago on Friday around lunchtime and as we weren't allowed to check into our hotel until 3pm, we headed out for a little walk to stretch our legs after the 9 hour flight, and get our bearings. We didn't want to plan any of our 'big' activities on Friday just incase our flight was delayed, or we got stuck in line at the airport {you can never be too careful - sometimes US immigration queues can take hours} so we thought we'd head down to the river and do the river walk. The river walk is essentially just a path by the river that they city has designed for pedestrians and cyclists/runners/etc to enjoy the city and it's definitely something that would probably be enjoyed more in the spring and summer when it's not -4°, but it's still definitely worth doing as you really get to take in just how big the city's skyline is - I don't think I've ever seen sky scrapers like it outside of New York. 



After we'd walked up an appetite we headed to Goddess & The Baker, which quickly became our favourite spot. I had the Southwest Salad and let me tell you, it was one of the best salads I've ever eaten. We also shared a gigantic piece of carrot cake to satisfy our sweet tooth. We then headed back to our hotel in the Loop for a little disco nap before heading out to Kingston Mines, a live music venue. Unfortunately we were a little too tired and jet lagged to fully enjoy this but the food was good if you like traditional American fried food!

Saturday

Saturday was our first full day in the city and the one we'd planned in most of our activities. We were still very jet lagged so we took advantage of being up early and headed down to Millennium Park to visit the iconic 'bean', or Cloudgate as it's officially known. It's definitely something worth visiting early, we were there by 8.30am and there was only a handful of others around so it was great for snapping a few photos...but when we walked past at lunch time the crowds were huge! There's no way you'd be able to get an actual picture of the bean without 300 other people also in the shot. 


After we'd finished at the bean and it started to get a little busier, we headed back to Goddess & The Baker for breakfast, as we'd spied someone having the breakfast burrito the day before and couldn't get the thought of it out of our heads {we're definitely very food motivated 😅}. I had a glitter latte which, while looking amazingly sparkly, actually tasted incredible too, and a breakfast burrito which was most definitely worth the wait. 




After breakfast we headed to the Willis Tower for our Sky Deck & The Ledge Experience, which we purchased on Get Your Guide. We did have to queue to get up to the Sy Deck but the view was amazing at the top...all of the giant sky scrapers look tiny and you realise just how high you've travelled up. The only disappointment was that you only get 60 seconds on 'the ledge' which are the glass boxes which you can stand on and look down at the city {in the picture above}, which isn't a lot when there's three of you who want a photo. Had we of been told this when we purchased the tickets we might have reconsidered the £18 it cost us to get up to the viewing platform, but nevertheless it was a cool experience.





After the Sky Deck, we headed out to a more relaxed 'viewing platform'...Cindy's Rooftop Bar 😅. With a great view of the bean and the whole of Millennium Park, its a great spot for a mid-afternoon cocktail. Then we turned our thoughts to eating...again. We headed out to the West Loop, a cool new area full of exciting restaurants and bars, and went to the Allis at Soho House. Much like all Soho Houses, the Allis was decorated so well and the foot was great, although the brunch menu was a little small. Definitely worth going if you want somewhere 'instagrammable'. 



After lunch, we headed back to the main Loop area and down to the river to hop on the Architecture Tour Boat. Again, this is probably something thats a lot more enjoyable in the summer when it's not freezing, as we did have to sit out in the cold on the water for a good 75 mins 😰. However, I will say that it was definitely worth risking mild frostbite for...we learnt so much about the city and it's buildings, and how the city was built up from scratch following the big Chicago Fire, why it's called the windy city, why it's called the second city, how the city changed the flow of the river, and all about the prohibition era. If you're interested in architecture and history at all, then I'd definitely recommend it. 



After our architecture tour, we headed back to the hotel to defrost and get ready for our night out. For dinner, we made reservations at Siena Tavern and I'm so glad we did - the food and the atmosphere were both incredible. If you're planning on visiting, definitely make a reservation as the entire restaurant and bar were packed, and have either the truffle and sage gnocchi or the brick chicken. After dinner, we headed to a friend's flat for drinks with a view, and what a view it was 😍. If you're looking for a similar view of the city at night {and I definitely recommend you do}, you can head over to the bar on the 95th floor of the John Hancock tower for a similar view! 




I quickly realised when I started typing this post that it would be quite a long one, and keen to not miss out any of the details, I thought it would be best to split the post into two parts...so look out for Part 2 coming shortly! 


xo Becky 

Skating at Somerset House

18 November 2019

 

Outfit - Top: M&S {here, cheaper version here}, Skirt: Reiss {on sale here}

Every year me and my friends organize a festive day of ice skating in London at some point in November, it gets us in the mood for the holiday season and really marks the start of the countdown to Christmas in my mind. This year was no different, however we did switch up the location, so I wanted to fill you all in on our experience. 



For the past few years, we've gone to the skating rink outside the Natural History Museum {you can read about that here} and whilst it's beautiful, this year we fancied a change so we headed over to Skate at Somerset House. Our tickets cost us £17 each for one skating session, which may sound quite pricey {isn't everything in London?!} but all of the major ice skating rinks in London are priced pretty much the same - there's only about 50p difference between them all. You can purchase extras with your ticket such as a Fornum & Mason lunch, but we decided to skip this as we were already spending enough on the tickets themselves. 


The rink is located right as you walk into the grounds of Somerset House, directly beneath the big 'Skate' sign and infront of the Fortnum & Mason tree, which is decorated in massive gold baubles and Fornums hampers - so cute! 

Before you get your skates, you have to check your bag which is something they don't have at the Natural History Museum and is so useful if your entire group is skating...no trying to balance and hold a bag at the same time! However they do let you take your phones in with you for photos, so fear not! The skate session lasted 45 mins which was plenty of time for us, and any longer we would have struggled to keep going as the ice had gotten too gritty to continue skating. It did get busier towards the end of our session though, so I'd say if you want the rink more to yourself, get there at the beginning of the session and book an early slot. 


We went in the middle of the day on a Saturday so of course it was busy, but you can also go throughout the week to beat the crowds, or you can go at night for Skate Lates where they have DJ's, bars and a little more entertainment...that's next on my list! 

xo Becky 

Autumn Fashion Picks

28 October 2019


Autumn is one of my favourite times of the year {apart from the build up to Christmas, of course!}...I love those cold crisp days where the sun is still shining and the colours have turned that lovely colour of golden. But what I really love is Autumn fashion...cosy knits, the hunt for the perfect coat and all of the faux fur and boots! Today I wanted to round up some of my favourites for the season, including some of the bit's I've been purchasing - happy shopping! x

Knitwear

Coats

Boots




A Night at the Ned, London

18 September 2019


Following my little staycation at The Artist's Residence in London, I told myself I really must do it again...so I did! Last week I was fortunate enough to stay in The Ned in London for a night which was just too dreamy not to share. 

The Ned is one of my favourite places to go for dinner and drinks anyway, so to get to stay the night was just the ultimate dream come true. As it's a private members club {and I don't have a membership} I often don't get to see most of the hotel including it's amazing roof bar and vault bar, however, if you're staying in one of the larger rooms you get access to these areas which I was just so excited about.


Three Days in Toronto

24 July 2019


As I sit writing this blog post we're currently in the middle of a heatwave here in the UK...I've set up shop in a shady spot in my garden with an ice lolly so for now I'm loving this weather {not so much when trying to sleep or commute!}. All of the heat got me reminiscing on my recent travels and I realised that I'd never shared most of my trip, only the few days we spent in Nashville which you can read about here.


How To Spend 2 Days in Nashville

3 July 2019


If you follow me on Instagram {if you don't - it's @beckyderby} then you'll have seen that I recently took a little trip to Nashville, or music city as it's affectionately known. As a big lover of country music, Nashville has been on my bucket list for quite some time and it did not disappoint. It's such a cool city, and unlike anywhere else I've ever visited, and it's also a city I'd definitely visit again - so not a one hit wonder.


Simple Chocolate Chunk Cookies

27 May 2019


There's nothing better than taking a break with a cup of tea and a warm, gooey cookie, and that's exactly what I've been spending my bank holiday doing...It's been a little while since I've been baking, and even longer since I've shared a recipe on here, so today I thought I'd jump back online {and into the kitchen} to share my super simple chocolate chunk cookie recipe. Without further ado...


A Night at the Artists Residence, London

16 May 2019



It's not often that I find myself staying in hotels in London, seeing as it's my home city and there never seems much point when I could just hop on the tube home...but I recently had the pleasure of staying at The Artists Residence in Pimlico and let me tell you, it was the dream little staycation.


Brilliant Blossoms with Jo Malone

29 March 2019


If you follow me on Instagram, then I'm sure you've seen that earlier this week I attended the launch of the newest Jo Malone collection, Brilliant Blossoms. Being invited to this event was a dream come true for me, so I wanted to document the day on this blog before I forget any of the details! And of course, I took so many photos of their stunning installations that I just had to share them!


My Spring Skincare Routine

22 March 2019


Ahh spring, the season of new beginnings...otherwise known as my yearly excuse to chuck out half of my clothes, completely redecorate and of course, switch up my skincare for the new season now we're finally out of the depths of winter.


Where Have I Been?

17 March 2019


As always with this blog, Ive been terrible at keeping to a regular posting schedule...which is completely okay, I never want to put pressure on myself to post and turn this into something that I never wanted it to be - a second job. However, I wanted to give you all a little update on where I've been and what I've been up to as it's rather exciting! 

For the past few months now I've been working to develop my very own scented candle brand - Nest Candle Co. It's been something I've wanted to do for years but my other time commitments {university, moving to a new city, new jobs} have always left me putting it to the back of my mind, but this year I wanted to stop putting things off and jump in head first. 


It's been quite a long process testing scents, working out which wax would work the best and burn the cleanest, working on packaging, branding, shipping, etc but we're SO close to being able to launch now {we're hoping for mid-April!} that I wanted to share a few snaps of what I've created and some of the scents we've picked. 


So without further ado, here are the scents which will form the core collection and our Summer collection...

The core collection

Vanille - A french vanilla scent which smells just like sweet vanilla ice cream. 
Fireside - A smokey, woody scent reminiscent of a crackling wood fire on a cold evening. 
Bouquet - A true floral scent with layers of peony and rose. 
Sleepy - Lavender and Camomile to send you off into the land of nod. 
Fairydust - A powdered floral scent perfect for those with a feminine aesthetic. 


The summer collection

Soleil - A warm tropical scent with hints of coconut and citrus fruit. 
Maison de Plage - Blue agava flower blended with notes of cacao and grapefruit. 

I will be posting updates when I next have them with where you can buy the candles and when we will be launching, but I hope you're all equally as excited as I am for this little project of mine! 

xo Becky 


Beating the January Blues at Emilia's Crafted Pasta

5 February 2019


A few weekends ago now, I was invited along to Emilias Crafted Pasta in St Katherine's Dock to try out their menu for myself. I wasn't really intending on writing a blog post on my visit, but the food was so incredible that I just had to share, as I'd hate for you to miss out! 

Located just by Tower Hill {so perfect for a touristy stroll to walk off your dinner!}, Emilias Crafted Pasta has a waterfront view over the docks, which I imagine is so pretty in summer...not so much on a dreary January afternoon! 

The restaurant is small and cosy, and all of the food is handmade in the restaurant, giving it that cosy 'homely' feel. As we were testing the menu, we decided to really test the menu {and the size of our stomachs}, going for a few sharing plates to start, mains, and of course...pudding!

For starters, we shared some cured meats, burrata and a rocket salad with lemon and parmesan and I can confirm it was all divine. After we finished our starters we were raving about the food for a good ten minutes before we'd even thought about how good our mains were about to be. Needless to say, the mains didn't disappoint and it was one of the best carbonara's I've eaten in London so far {and I've had my fair share!}.

Thinking we couldn't fit much more in, we decided to share a pudding and went for a brownie and ice cream. The brownie was gooey in the middle and lovely and crisp on the outside - just as a brownie should be. In fact, it was so good that we were all cursing ourselves for choosing to share.


I was blown over by just how good the food was at Emilia's Crafted Pasta. The small cosy vibes were perfect for our Sunday get-together and we all left promising to return, which isn't always the case with restaurants that we've heard of through Instagram. If you find yourself in Tower Hill {or near their new location in Aldgate}, definitely pop in for a bite to eat and a glass of wine - you won't regret it!

xo Becky 

*post contains gifted items

A Small Charlotte Tilbury Haul

26 January 2019


Can you believe that up until now, I've never tried Charlotte Tilbury Makeup?! I've been makeup obsessed for years, and you really can't miss her pretty palettes and lipsticks scattered all over Instagram...but up until recently, there wasn't anything that really caught my eye, that was different enough to something I already owned which would justify the price. Enter the Pillow Talk palette...Eyeshadow palettes are my weakness, so when I saw that this palette was back in stock online, I couldn't resist popping it into my basket {along with a few other spur of the moment purchases!}

Weekly Roundup #2

25 January 2019


Well, well well...So far my 'weekly roundup' series has lasted a grand total of one week - honestly I can't say I'm surprised 😂. However, I'm back and trying again, so lets see how long it lasts this time.


Skinny Raspberry & Dark Chocolate Muffins

7 January 2019


When I posted my Skinny Banana Nut Muffins recipe last week, I had so many lovely comments and messages on Instagram from people saying that they couldn't wait to try them, that today I thought it was about time I got back into the kitchen and shared another of my favourite skinny muffin recipes. Today's creation was these skinny raspberry and dark chocolate muffins - fruity, sweet and perfect with a cup of tea in the afternoon! 

This recipe will make 8 large muffins {there's no skimping on portion size in this house!}, and each muffin will be 2 SmartPoints if you're following the Weight Watchers plan like I am. However, because the fruit is quite chunky in these muffins, they won't last as long as the banana nut muffins - so be sure to share them with your friends and family, or eat them quickly yourself!


Ingredients

50g Coconut Flour 
25g Porridge Oats 
1 teaspoon Baking Powder 
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract 
5 eggs {separated} 
5 tablespoons Silverspoon Granulated Sweetener 
40g Dark Chocolate Chips 
½ packet raspberries {based on a medium size packet, but this can be adapted to how fruity you want the muffins to be!}



How to make: 

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, and line a muffin tray with 8 cases. 
2. Sift your flour and baking powder into a bowl. 
3. Mix in your oats, vanilla extract, sweetener and egg yolks. 
4. Whisk your egg whites until they are stiff {you should be able to turn the bowl upside down!} 
5. Gently fold the egg whites into the mixture, one spoonful at a time. 
6. Fold in the raspberries and chocolate chips. 
7. Spoon into baking cases and pop into the oven for 25 mins. 
8. Once they're out of the oven, leave them to cool and enjoy! 



I hope you liked this recipe, and if you'd like to see me share more of my baking {or general cooking} recipes on this blog, then I'd love to hear from you in the comments below! I'd also love to know which sweet treats you'd like to see a healthy version of...I'm always looking for inspiration for my next bake! 

xo Becky 

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