Mom & Dad visit Chicago

Last weekend was a weekend I had been looking forward to all year – Mom & Dad came to visit!  Here are some of the highlights from our fun long-weekend together.

Thursday Night

Our first stop was dinner at Mike’s Parent’s house, complete with Birthday Cake for dessert in honor of Mike’s recent birthday.  My favorite part of the night though was our after-dinner walk – spring was in full bloom and we counted TEN rabbits throughout the duration of our 1-mile loop.



I had to work on Friday since my team was short-staffed.  Luckily, Mom & Dad were happy to entertain themselves.  I thought they were just going to the Lincoln Park Zoo, but it turns out they also went on a secret scavenger hunt…  They searched all over the city looking for pieces (a fancy dish, a plastic deer, plants…) to make a surprise present for me:

A Terrarium!  More than just a cool houseplant, I now have an entire eco-system on my coffee table.  It should be able to go months without watering as it actually recycles it’s own water – which periodically steams up in a cloud and rains back down.


(Tip: If you don’t have crafty parents like I do, check out Alapash, a gorgeous store in Ravenswood that sells artistic, hand-made terrariums starting around $30!)

For dinner, as planned, we took my parents to try Ethiopian Food for their first time!  They loved it and we all had a lot of fun.  Their only complaint? Next time they want a fork so they don’t fill up so much on bread :-)



Saturday was an overcast, drizzly day.  The kind of day where we didn’t plan to do much, but wound up taking ourselves by surprise.  We spent the morning cooking, relaxing, and even doing Laundry (Mom insisted!).

For breakfast, Dad made up a batch of his famous oatmeal, which is different every time.  This week’s had Cranberries (which turned it hot pink), Apples, and Apricots.


For lunch, I made a pot of Happy Herbivore’s African Kale & Yam Soup with extra Kale.  This is one of my favorite soups – it is so sweet & spicy, and it went perfectly with our Ethiopian leftovers. I highly recommend this recipe!


After lunch, although it was still drizzly, we decided to take a walk around the neighborhood.  We thought it would be just a short walk, but we wound up staying out till after dinner!

We started off walking past Carl Sandburg‘s house (famous poet, plus I love his daily stretches featured in the Engine 2 Diet plan),  and the Mayor’s house (a normal-seeming house, surrounded by hidden video cameras and undercover patrol cars).


I thought I was a know-it-all tour-guide, but the next place we stopped was a surprise even to me – we spotted a nondescript storefront on Ravenswood that I’ve probably passed by dozens of times.  It wound up being such a unique, surprising, and HUGE shop that we spent most of our afternoon browsing around.

The store, Architectural Artifacts (4325 N Ravenswood), which is jam-packed with ‘lost treasures’ is also a museum of sorts, and even an event space.


There was so much to explore – this place is any artist’s, photographer’s, or home decorator’s dream.  I couldn’t think of a better place to be on a rainy day.


There were so many things to discover – all unexpected, some beautiful and some simply odd…  Here is just some of what we saw:

A Candy Shoppe Sign

           Industrial Chandelier                                     Antique Tiles                                Molds for Plastic Doll Heads


       Molds for Rubber Gloves                              Threads of Spool                                      Lab Equipment


                        Springs                                                      Wagon Wheel                                        Bingo Card Molds


After a couple hours of browsing the store, we walked a little bit more up to Earth’s Healing, where we treated my parents to their first ever Green Juice.  They seemed skeptical at first, but before I knew it, they had polished off the entire 16oz.

When we were finally back at the apartment, I was jumping up and down with excitement because Mom, Dad and Mike all agreed to watch Vegucated with me, a documentary following 3 New Yorkers that agree to go Vegan for 6 weeks.  While the majority of the movie is light-hearted, there were about 10 minutes of footage that were unforgettably heart-wrenching as the participants learned the truth about factory farming.  In one of the most powerful scenes, one of the film subjects called up a well known Organic company and asked a series of questions, proving that even the better-seeming options at the grocery store cause more harm than I ever knew.


In celebration of Mother’s Day, on Sunday we headed up to the Chicago Botanic Garden along with Mike’s Mom.  Mike and I hadn’t been there since October, and it all looked so different in the Spring!


We had lunch in the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Cafe which always impresses me with their huge number of healthy, vegetarian options.  This time, we couldn’t get enough of their French Lentil Soup, loaded with tomatoes and carrots in a vegetable broth.


They also have a fantastic Gift Shop.  My parents and I were checking out this neat Bee Condo, which is a great way to help out the struggling Honey Bee population.  Dad is thinking of making his own, and in fact the Chicago Botanic Garden’s website even has instructions for it! (Click Here for Instructions to Make your Own Bee Condo)


On Monday morning, we needed a quick, hearty breakfast before a day of hiking in the Indiana Dunes.  I made a huge batch of Overnight Chai Oatmeal, one of my favorite go-to weekend breakfasts.  Everyone loved it, though I think everyone but me decided to heat up their bowl.  (recipe tip: I make mine with Almond Milk and find that I like it best with nearly double the amount of liquid the recipe suggests).

We hiked about 6 miles at the dunes, covering a broad array of scenery including Beach, Dunes, Woods, and Marsh.  Backpacks full of PB&J, Apples, Bananas, Nuts, and Dried Fruit kept us fueled.



The only bad part of the day?  We asked a stranger passing by to take a family photo, and he dropped my 6 month old camera in the sand, which did quite a bit of damage :-(

At least we did get a good photo out of it!:

After a great weekend, Mom and Dad headed back to Florida on Tuesday morning.  

Plans are in the works though for some more important visitors this summer – my sister and 2 year old niece!

I’d Love to Hear from You!

What would you want to do if you visited Chicago?

Or if you live here, what are your favorite things to do with Visitors?