Strolling around Chinatown

Happy Chinese New Year, dear friends.

In honor of the occasion, let’s party like it’s 4710 and walk around Chicago’s Chinatown, shall we?

I’ll admit, I actually spent MLK Jr. Day wandering around Chinatown. I’m doing this wrong. It’s rather inexcusable, though, that I don’t make it there more often. It’s only a hop, skip and an El stop away.

So, welcome to Chinatown. If there’s any confusion about where you are, this gate clears it all up.

Admittedly, I’ve only eaten at two restaurants in Chinatown. Lao Sze Chuan and Lao Beijing. They’re owned by the same folks. I’m sure there are a million other delicious restaurants in the hood, but Lao Sze Chuan is so flipping amazing. I can’t force myself to go anywhere else.

The decor in Lao Sze Chuan is nothing to write home about, but the Ma Po Tofu and Mu Shu Pork are. Spicy and delicious.

Don’t forget to pick up dessert at one of the bakeries. I can’t remember from which bakery these came, but the flavors are a mix of sweet and savory. Mostly red bean.

The gift shops are fun to browse as well. I was tempted to buy a waving cat, which I just learned is called zhao cai mao (thanks, internet!). But I made out with a red dragon pouch I’m using to carry lipstick.

I just love the details everywhere.

Looks like quite a few fun events are planned for the Chinese New Year. Check them out, if you feel so inclined.

Well, hope you enjoyed the stroll. Where are your favorite places in Chinatown? I’m always down for a good reco.

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Flagship Walgreens: My dream home

Forget fancy Lincoln Park condos and grand estates in North Shore.

I want to move into the new Walgreens drugstore on State Street.

For those who haven’t heard everyone freaking out, Walgreens has opened a two-level flagship store in the former (RIP) Loehmann’s space. And it’s pretty amazing.

Seriously, if I didn’t have to earn a paycheck or see my husband, I could spend all of my waking hours here. And I pretty much could. It has everything a gal could need.

Fantastic wines on heavy rotation (literally)

Cheese heaven

Nail salon

Frozen yogurt on tap

And let’s not forget the sushi bar, espresso bar, Freestyle Coke machine, humidor, international newsstand, virtual make-up artist display and virtual bartender.

Excuse me while I start packing now…

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Fountain zen

This is likely the last day before we endure winter’s wrath. Snow’s-a-coming. I took this as an excuse to wear short sleeves. And walk home from work.

Maybe it was the fresh air or the whimsical soundtrack in my headphones, but I couldn’t help but notice how gorgeous the fountain in Exelon Plaza is at night.

Taken at Chase Tower at Monroe and Dearborn, Chicago.

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You probably think this blog is about you

Ever notice how Chicagoans are really into songs and TV shows about Chicago?

You probably won’t  admit to it, but I will. I’ve watched shows simply because they’re set in my city.

Exhibits A and B:

My Boys

This show wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad. If it was on, I’d give it a half an hour, if only for Jim Gaffigan and the chance to call out cheesy Cubs references.

via The TV Legion

The League

I first watched an episode as research for work. For real. It’s pretty hilarious in an Always Sunny-wanna-be-but-with-fantasy-sports-kinda-way. Plus, get this…it’s set in Chicago.

The list continues. Like Happy Endings, Boss, Mike and Molly and Whitney and 10 others that probably didn’t make it past Sweeps Week.

I don’t need to tell you there have been a million shows, songs, books and movies focused around the Windy City. For example, just today my ice cream making BFF Lisa sent me this song, aptly named “Chicago” by North Highlands. We’ve just hit the tip of the iceberg, my friends.

Are we so vain that we never get sick of watching and hearing about ourselves or our city?

Nah. I’d like to think there’s a thrill in catching a glimpse of a familiar skyline. And a sense of pride in seeing our city (however inaccurately) depicted.

In the same way that people in Seattle loovvvveee Fraiser and people in New York loovvvveee Sex and the City, right?

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Filed under Chicago, pop culture, random

You know you love the snow

Oh, Chicagoans! We have a love/hate relationship with snow.

We curse the constant layer of frozen white and salt’s attack on our shoes. We’re famous for using snow as an excuse for turning our apartments into winter hideouts.

But we secretly love it.

The snow is part of our identity as a city. A badge of our toughness, if you will. We’re badass enough to endure six months of winter and its six months of snow.

So, have I been surprised to hear complaints about this season’s lack of snow? Absolutely not. We feel debilitated.

For those who feel lost without wearing snow boots, here’s fix to tide you over. You’ve probably noticed, but we got a dusting this morning.

Happy 2012, everyone. The end of 2011 had me in a bit of a funk. But hopefully I’ll be seeing more of you this year.

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Santa moonlights as a CTA conductor

Chicago sure goes all out for the holidays. Point in case: the million lights up and down Michigan Avenue, trumpets and holly flanking Macy’s, and the Chriskindlmarket in full swing. And let’s not forget the CTA holiday train.

I was waiting on the train platform after work last Thursday, replaying the dreary events of the work day through my head. Then, the CTA holiday train pulled up.  Day —> turned around. I’ve only been on the CTA holiday train once in the past six  years. Happy surprise.

Lights! 

Elves!

Santa seats and holiday music!

Not pictured: Santa. Or my new BFF, Emily. The cutest little girl sat next to me on the holiday train. We made pizzas on her dad’s iPhone. We shared kitty stories. She asked me if I had babies (seriously, you too, Emily?). And then she called me her best friend. All of this occurred within the span of four stops.

So, even though I haven’t bought one Christmas present yet, I’m starting to become less of a Scrooge. I can’t get behind the mad commercialism of the season or the nonstop made-for-TV Lifetime Christmas movies. But the CTA holiday train? I can get behind it.

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Surprise shows and dance parties

One thing I love about living in this city is that your evening can often take an unexpected, yet pleasant, turn.

Like last Wednesday. Thanks to the beauty of Twitter, I heard about a Heineken secret concert  with Broken Social Scene. Which was perfect since my pal Elaine and I were headed that way to see The Rapture (the band, not the end of the world) at Metro anyway. Holla.

The show was performed next to the 7-Eleven by Wrigley. This short girl appreciated the elevated stage. I didn’t appreciate that I missed my fave, 7/4 Shoreline. I could hear it in the distance, which was a tease. What makes this show amazing is that it is apparently one of Broken Social Scene’s last shows ever. Or for now.

My inner copywriter also appreciated the billboard flanking the show.

The fun didn’t end there. The Rapture played a dance-tastic show. The sound quality at Metro was quite good, quite as expected. As Elaine pointed out, it was a show where you didn’t have to know all the songs. You could just dance.

[I wanted to post a video clip of the hot jam from the new album, “How Deep is Your Love?” But WordPress now wants me to pay to do that.]

Wooo…Yeah…Alright!

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