Scenes from Santa Monica

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Beaches for miles and cotton candy-colored sunsets… west coast vibes! The first trip of 2016 took me to sunny Santa Monica, California. The last time I was in this region was back in 2011 (pre blog!) when my best friend Denise and I took a road trip through Cali, and visited our friends Jason and Lauren, who lived in Long Beach at the time. Throwback!

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On that trip, Santa Monica was a mere drive-by on our way back from downtown LA, but this time I got to soak it all in. Although the weather wasn’t warm enough for swimsuits and flip flops, it was the perfect escape from chilly Chicago. The change of scenery even inspired me to wake up early one morning and go for an exploratory run (5 miles, y’all!). Here’s what I saw:

Good morning!
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Footprints in the sand
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The Ivy… check out those floralsimage

Can I keep him?image

Good coffee is a must! Demitasse is the place you’ll want to go.image

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Palm trees for daysimage

Lotto mania… what would you spend it on? image

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#VanderpumpRulesimage

I wasn’t kidding about the coffee…image

Surfs upimage

(Liz) Lemonimage

New Year’s Dietimage

Cozyimage

Till next time, Santa Monica!image

 

 

 

The best winter boots for the city girl

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Winter is in full swing this week, with temperatures in Chicago dipping into the negative digits, and a blizzard heading towards the East Coast. Appropriate gear is a must to make it through these cold days, particularly if you are a commuter and city-dweller as I am, or if you’re traveling to a cold climate. For those of us who spend a significant amount of times walking outdoors, a solid pair of winter boots is key. But which ones are the best?

The last pair of winter boots I owned were the Columbia Bugaboot, purchased several years ago when I lived in New York. While sturdy and durable, they were incredibly heavy. As in, it was uncomfortable to walk more than a few blocks in them. Because of that, I rarely ended up wearing them, which was a total waste (However, they’d be perfect for shoveling the driveway in, for example, or for a quick walk to and from your car).

Through that experience, I knew that the best winter boot for me would be one that was lightweight, in addition to being warm and waterproof. So, last winter, I ordered several different types and brands of boots in an attempt to find the best ones. My living room was literally covered in boxes and tissue paper; I did all the legwork so you don’t have to!

Going in, I thought the Sorel Joan of Arctic would be the winner; they’re a brand known for their winter gear, and they’re so stylish (love that tuft of fur at the top!). However, at nearly 2 lbs per shoe, I knew instantly upon trying them on that they were too heavy, and wouldn’t be practical for walking in.

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The winner of my trial was the Columbia Minx Omni-Heat. Somewhat less trendy than the Sorels, but more sleek and modern in design, this boot won because it is incredibly lightweight – 13 oz each to be exact. This makes such a huge difference for walking long distances, especially while trudging through the snow. Additionally, they are indeed waterproof and warm. This is now the second winter season I’ve used them, and I can vouch for the quality and durability of the materials as well. I highly recommend them!

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But what about a warm winter boot for non-snow occasions? This is something I first thought about after moving to Chicago. There were many winter days without any snow, but when the sidewalk was so cold that I could feel it through my shoes. To that end, I was also looking for a boot to keep my feet toasty, but that was still comfortable and fashionable. I settled on the Ugg Mini Bailey Bow Boot.  There are tons of styles and colors to choose from, but I thought the mini size worked well for my (short) height, and that the bows added a cute style element. I was a little tempted to get the red-violet, but ended up with the classic chestnut. Now, I’ll be honest; for the longest time, I never thought I’d wear Uggs myself (anyone remember the early 2000s trend of girls wearing uggs bare-legged with mini skirts?!). But I’ve had mine for about a month now, and I see what the hype is about. They are super warm but breathable, and very comfortable to walk in. In fact, this weekend I walked about a mile in them in one stretch, in 3F/-16C weather, and my feet felt great (unlike my face, which was practically frozen!).

 

So there you have it! Kavi360’s picks for the best winter boots! Have you tried these brands? Do you have other recommendations?

 

The Holiday Recap

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Hope you’re all having a lovely holiday! These last two weeks of the year always make me a feel like a kid again; I relish the chance to relax and recharge, and not having to be on any sort of schedule!

This December was a whirlwind. It always is, but this year more than others. There were several holiday parties and dinners, and chances to dress up. I somehow didn’t take very many photos though (I guess that’s bound to happen when you have a glass of champagne in your hands!).

 

For the first time ever, I actually decorated my own place with some holiday flair. I love how fun and festive everything looks!

I also had a last minute business trip… to Miami! More on that to come. But it was fun to see how they decorate for the holidays in the city where the heat is on!

I had a one day turnaround back in Chicago, and then I headed east to spend 11 days back home! It was a little hectic to tie up loose ends (and do the unpack-laundry-repack shuffle), but it was worth it to have so much time with family and friends. There was much celebrating, some Star Wars in IMAX 3D, a few minutes spent allowing Geese cross the road (country life!), LOTS of cookies, and a little bit of running!

And now, it’s time to gear up for New Year’s Eve! This year, we decided to skip the big (read: crowded) ticketed parties downtown, and opted to ring in the new year over a late dinner. But there will still be sequins… lots of them!

Hope you have a wonderful night, however you decided to celebrate! Wishing you all a healthy and happy new year!

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Thankful, Grateful, Blessed

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Oh boy. One minute you’re posting about spring in New York, and the next thing you know it’s fall in Chicago. But I finally have a new post for you, and at least it’s only been a few months (ok, seven) and not four years like Adele (Hello. It’s me).  Like she famously said in a recent interview, “I’m sorry it took so long, but you know, life happened.”

And life did happen. Lots of really great things. A few challenging things. But mostly the usual things like work and commuting and maintaining my reputation as a Chicago socialite. There were several times where I’d think about writing, and then I wouldn’t know where to start because I’d already missed so many amazing things that I intended to share. But as is usually case, the best way to get back into the swing of things is to just do it. And with it being Thanksgiving week, I’ve had a huge case of all the feelings. So now’s as good a time as any.

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This Thanksgiving was unique because it’s the first I’ve ever spent at my own place, on my own. While I’ve spent several holidays traveling overseas, it felt decidedly weird to be stateside and not be with my family, whom I’m extremely close to. But sometimes when you’re a grown-up, you have to make grown-up decisions, and attend to grown-up things, which is how I ended up here in Chicago for the week. To be honest, it was totally fine and rather uneventful, but a nice breather as well.

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There was work, various tasks, work, errands, blah blah blah. Also re-organizing my entire closet and sleeping in (#RealLife). Maria and I killed it at the gym, which I’m super proud of. We tried a ton of new-to-us classes with names like Buff Yoga and Body Pump, in addition to the usual suspects like Hip Hop and Hot Vinyasa. I even got a few runs in, and I’m proud to say that I’ve been improving my time and endurance. For a girl who basically has the opposite of a runner’s body, I really can’t believe how far I’ve come in the last two years!

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First up was the November get-together of the Metra Supper Club. We planned to go out as we usually do, but made a last minute switch to hang out at my place. Such a great decision,  not only because it was a blast, but also because the conversation with this gang inevitably takes a turn for the, um, risque and scandalous.  Great food and great company. French pastries and macarons to boot!

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Next up, the Friendsgiving dinner hosted by  Tamara and Tom. Of course we all made way too much food (and proceeded to eat way too much food) but that’s half the fun. Followed up by fun times playing a crazy game requiring one to pick up a successively shorter paper bag off the floor with your mouth, with only your feet touching the ground. Some people take post-dinner walks, our gang participates in a variety of yoga moves and contortions because we are occasionally known to be weird and competitive. Also, we learned how to use a selfie stick!

Actual Thanksgiving was pretty fun too. A full day of gymming, lunch downtown, the movies (Hunger Games!), and watching the Bears-Packers game with Maria and Sara. We ended the night with nachos, which I hear is a U.P. (that’s the Upper Peninsula of Michigan) tradition, ha!

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Mmmm…congealed cheese product. Pretty sure it was organic.

It was really nice to have them to spend the day with!

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And last, but not least, I had a lot of time to think about things. I realize that sounds totally cliche and like I’m about to invoke Oprah or something. But it’s hard not to feel a sense of gratitude during this season. With every passing year, I get a little more clarity as to what really matters in life. I feel thankful, grateful, and blessed for all of the lessons that the universe has given me this year, even if some of them were tough to get through; the amazing opportunities and experiences that I’ve had; and most importantly the incredible people that grace my life.  I have always felt so lucky to have so many wonderful friends and such an amazing family. I couldn’t ask for more.

So what’s next?  I do hope to get back into blogging. I miss writing. I miss sharing things. I have some exciting things coming up, but I also had a bunch of interesting events over the last few months that I’d love to tell you about. Check back and I’ll fill you in, friends!

 

 

 

A New York Minute

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Although I consider Chicago my new home, New York will always have a piece of my heart. I was reminded of just how much I love NYC when I was in town last weekend – for a whirlwind 30 hours! It was a short trip due to a time crunch, and while I was disappointed knowing that I wouldn’t get to see everyone on my list, it was also kind of nice to have a smaller “list of things to do.” I promise I will be back again soon, friends!

First up was a long overdue reunion with my friend MaryAnn. After years of working together in the lab, I really miss talking with her every day! We lucked out with the most beautiful, sunny, and warm day, which is the perfect weather for walking around Manhattan. We walked up and down the UWS, stopping for brunch at The Smith, and hung out in Central Park while people watching.

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After a quick shower and wardrobe change, it was time for the main event and the reason I was in town in the first place – my dear friend Bharat and his fiancé Jahnavi’s engagement party! We were very generously hosted at The Empire Hotel, home to one of my favorite rooftop venues (Gossip Girl fans will know it as Chuck Bass’ hotel!). The party itself was at the fabulous Mandarin Oriental.

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It was so wonderful catching up with so many old friends and meeting some new ones too! Everything was spectacular, and as expected, we all danced the night away! And continued into the wee hours of the night (morning?).

After a few hours of sleep it was time for Sunday Funday! My good friend Dominika drove into the city to hang out with me, and reminisce about our glory days! Stop number one was the quintessential NYC boozy brunch at Essex. Each entree is served with three cocktails (!), so you know it’s  gonna be a good day after that!

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Upon exiting, we were somewhat surprised to find ourselves in front of LaCaverna, a bar we used to frequent when we were much younger (before I even lived in the city!). Funny how it looks so different in the light of day! As we walked through the Lower East Side it was really like a trip down memory lane.

imageWe spent the rest of the afternoon shopping in Soho, where we both picked up a few things. Despite the same chain stores being all over America and the prevalence of online shopping, there’s just something special about shopping in NYC. Perhaps it has something to do with the whole no tax on clothing thing!

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It was about this time that we got a little punchy, and so a Starbucks run was in order. Fitting, since it was Dominika who got me hooked on coffee years ago – all those Mocha Frappuccinos!

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It was the most fun 30 hours I could have asked for; my next NYC visit will be much longer!

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