What a Weekend!

The last time we went to Chicago was the first time we returned since we had moved away. That was in the middle of January immediately following a blizzard. We left, cursing the city and relieved we had relocated to have Marlo in a more docile environment. This time, we had a change of heart. Jeff drove me up to Chicago for a long weekend to celebrate my birthday. We stayed with my lovely sister Sara (thanks again for sleeping on your couch for 3 nights), and enjoyed the city in a more gentle climate. After this trip, when we left, we did so with a heavy heart. We really do miss you Chicago.

Here are a few highlights from the fun-filled weekend.

Our friends Mike and Andrea drove in Saturday night to have a delicious Mexican dinner (also my first Margarita since before I was pregnant) with us at Lalo’s (mmmmmm). We let Marlo and their drop dead gorgeous little girl, Mira, get acquainted for a while at my sister’s apartment before we went to dinner. We’re not into blind dates. As you can see, Marlo was a little obsessed with Mira. Mira couldn’t understand why she was so excited. I love how around :30, Mira strokes Marlo’s face as if she were saying “Calm my child.” It all worked out. By the end of the night they were kissing – on the lips. We told them to save it for college.

The big “birthday” night was Sunday. Jeff got us tickets to watch a live recording of NPR’s This American Life. The show was hilarious. I was a little drunk (see the bottle of wine below), so everything was a little extra funny! Aunt Sara babysat so Jeff and I could have a nice dinner before the show. The restaurant was my choice, and since the show was at the Chicago Theater in the Loop, I seized the opportunity to eat at a restaurant downtown. We showed up at Bandera on Michigan Ave. for a nice dinner. I love this restaurant. The hotel I worked at was right around the corner so my coworkers and I would go there frequently for lunch or after work cocktails. Let me rave about it here for a moment. The place is perfection. If you’re going to Chicago and staying downtown. Go there. It’s easily overlooked because it’s on the second floor above Citibank, but do yourself a favor and don’t miss it. The atmosphere is swanky yet casual. Classy yet cool. You could go all dolled up for the opera or in jeans after a long day of shopping. The food is incredible. They have a variety of foods on the menu, but what they’re most known for is rotisserie chicken which you see cooking up right in front of you when you first walk in. However, perhaps what’s most memorable about Bandera is the service. I’ve probably eaten here a dozen times and have consistently been blown away by the service (minus one time when the waitress never remembered to bring my sister a straw). The wait staff is always kind, prompt, and knowledgeable.

This romantic evening brought to you by: Jeff Anderson, my husband – he’s taken, back off.

A close up of the chips and queso they managed to make into an elegant appetizer and the Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir that was super delicious.

Behold the Hacked Chicken Salad. The most perfect salad ever concocted. The first time I ordered this was the day we found out we were having a girl. This salad is possibly, above all, the reason I go to Bandera, and folks, I’m NOT a salad person. I would post the picture of what Jeff ordered, Bangers and Mash, but it looked kind of vulgar and this is a family show, right? Anyway, he always gets it and its always good!

This past weekend may very well be our final farewell to the city we spent years together in. My sister lost her job last week and will be moving away next month, first to live with us (yea!!) transiently before her final move to Brooklyn. I’m excited for her new chapter in life, but we will miss the free room in our old city. I guess we’ll have to start visiting the Big Apple!

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