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That’s how the song goes, right?
Well, it’s the way it’s goes for me today.

February.

So excited to see you, old friend.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen you…maybe a year perhaps?

February is really a month of love here. Not just for the big love day, but hubs and I celebrate our wedding anniversary in this month. 

28 years this year.
Yeah. I know, right?

So of course I needed to make some ‘love’ly stamps for y’all.

Say hello to XO.

stamps-xo

Some really fun options here! I especially love how you can use the ampersand design with the Maxwell stamps!

xo-sample

 

And if you mask away the petal and stamp one separately, look how cute the Love Me. Loves Me Not. works with the flower.

xo-sample2

 

If you’ve been following me on social media, you’ll have seen these couple of sneaks. Looove using it with my Minc with the digital stamps. I’m addicted! And like I mentioned above, it goes great with alphabet stamp sets too!

bees knees card web

love stamp block web

Used with Lincoln Outline here.

Just so much fun to be had in this cute little bundle.

Aaaaand, you can save 10% today and tomorrow only!

  • Dolly - February 1, 2016 - 8:41 am

    it is awesome to see some of my favortie cutting files are now in stamp form!! TFS!!ReplyCancel

  • Candy - February 1, 2016 - 2:08 pm

    40th Anniversary 2/21/16. Holy crap!
    Congrats to you!
    Love & AlohaReplyCancel

  • Barbara - February 2, 2016 - 6:02 pm

    Hearts are always my favorite of anything!! I may have to order these!!ReplyCancel

Love is in the air. The love of sunshine. The love of slightly warmer temps. The love of a spark of color. The love of love.

The big love day will soon be here and I thought it would be fun to make Valentine’s Day version of the Jingle All The Way.

love heart frame web

A quick little somethin’-somethin’ to make with just a frame, some shiny gold vinyl, and a few wooden hearts…and a little paper and sequins too, of course.

Here’s the main pieces of what I used. Click on the image to take you the website. Frame from Michaels, Hearts from Amazon, and the variegated paper is Teresa Collins. (I bought my paper from Scrapbook.com.)

love heart frame frame     love heart frame wooden hearts      love heart frame tc paper

Additionally I used gold sequins and wooden arrows from Studio Calico and clear sequins from Teresa Collins. There are hearts that come with the SC wooden arrows that I contemplated using, but they were too small for an 8×10 ‘canvas’. They’d be great in a 5×7 frame though. The shiny gold foil I get from SignWarehouse.com HERE. It doesn’t ‘look’ shiny smooth in their photo, but it is. And then, of course, the All You Need Is Love phrase from Seasonably Said.

Unlike the Jingle All The Way, which requires a deep-set frame, this project needed some depth, but not the same depth needed to house bells. It was only housing thin wooden pieces.

Because I bought the frame before getting the hearts, I decided on a double matted frame from Michaels, which still ended up working great, because I just kept the mats and removed the foam tape between the two sections. But you could probably get away with a single matted frame…I think. :)

I used my Silhouette to cut my title from the gold vinyl. Before cutting, I did widen the image just a little to take up a little more of the frame width-wise. If you have a Cricut or another digital craft cutter, you can still use the Seasonably Said kit as long as you can use SVG, DXF or PNG files for cutting.

If you don’t have a cutter, you can print it in black onto a transparency–either at home if you have the supplies or take the PNG image to a copy center and have them do it for you. Even more awesome? If you happen to have a Minc, use that toner-created image (laserjet or copy center) with some gold foil and run it though your Minc. If you don’t know what a Minc is, be sure to check out this post HERE. Also, THIS post shows you an example of where I printed it on a transparency.

I’m addicted to the Minc. It’s true. I totally admit it and completely fine with it.

Once my image was cut, I weeded away the excess vinyl, laid down my transfer tape, picked up the image, and placed it on the outside of the glass. (For a vinyl how-to, check out THIS post.)

love heart frame 1

 

Next, I poured in a few arrows + hearts (there are a lot in the bag), added some sequins and arranged them how I would like for them to be. I’d seen some other plain wood hearts that you’d paint, but I wanted ones with that burnished edge because it just added that ‘oomph’ to the hearts. The plain ones were too boring for me. :) It might be even cool to paint a random heart or two a white-washed white or pale pink.

Although not shown in this photo, I added adhesive to the back of two sequins and placed them upside down next to the all so that when I laid my paper down, they stuck to the paper.

And oddly enough, those clear sequins are danged staticky! They kind of float in the frame without any adhesive assistance. I also made sure that all my sequins were turned upside down, so that they reflect more light. You know, shiny side up and all when looking at it on display.

love heart frame 2

 

Once I got them arranged as I liked, I trimmed the variegated paper to 8×10–cutting more off the fairest side and leaving more dark pink on top. I laid in the paper and the two mat pieces (with the foam tape that came between them removed).

love heart frame 3

 

I added the back and voila! Piece of cake! I just loved the pale pop of pink color combined with the earthy burnished-edge wood and shiny gold and sequins all surrounded in a lovely white frame.

It’s happy.

It’s love-ly. :)

  • Sally - January 29, 2016 - 7:40 am

    Absolutely beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Julie C - January 29, 2016 - 8:10 am

    Love this!ReplyCancel

  • rhonda - January 29, 2016 - 2:10 pm

    OH my heck! so stinking cute!!!! Love love love it!ReplyCancel

This morning I stumbled across a video about taking photos with your smart phone–and in this case, an iPhone 6S/6S Plus. (I will neither confirm nor deny that I was avoiding work.)

We are taking so many more photos than ever before, which I think is amazing! And what I found fascinating is that with all the bells+whistles of the latest+greatest in cameras, you can still tell a most amazing story with the one you most likely already have in your hand….your smart phone. It’s quiet. It’s discreet. People are used to seeing smart phones out. And it’s pretty much always with you.

But when you pull out the ‘fancy’ camera (aka, dSLR), it’s more noticeable, maybe even clunkier. You kind of feel more on-the-spot if you’re taking photos on the streets. For example, I was taking photos on the streets of New Orleans with my Canon 7D. I liked the look down this sidewalk, but then within a second of preparing my shot, this man walked out of the coffee shop.

click.

no street life web2

It’s one of my all-time favorite photos I’ve ever taken. I had loved all the nuances of the location–the bikes, the pipes. the sign, the ornate railing above the sign, the glare of the freshly washed-off sidewalk. I even wanted people in it, but didn’t necessarily want to be obvious about it. But when this man came out in his light-colored clothing, it just popped. It completed the shot. A serendipitous moment that I wasn’t expecting. Those are the best, right?

Lucky for me it all happened in an instant. But had he been walking down the sidewalk towards me, I would have felt very funny ‘focusing in’ on him and would probably have waited for him to walk by. Had he been walking down the street and I had my iPhone out…it wouldn’t have bothered me.

But how many times have you been in cramped quarters with your ‘fancy’ camera? Unless you have a wide angle on it, there’s no way in h-e-double hockey sticks that you’re gonna get the shot. As was the case with this shot.

Processed with VSCOcam with c3 preset

 

There was literally about three feet between the wall and the glass counter. Enough space for people ordering and for people waiting to order. And even with my iPhone, it was still hard to get the shot. Now, even if I’d have had a wide angle lens on my big mama camera, I still would have felt odd taking the shot and still wouldn’t have used it. But subtlety abounds with a smart phone, right?

It may not be the sharpest– it’s low-lit and she’s in motion so she’s a little blurry–but doesn’t that add to the energy of the photo?

So I guess what I’m saying is, there is purpose for all your ‘tools’. I still love a dSLR, but I also love the subtlety of my iPhone.  But when all is said and done, the best camera you have is the one you have with you. And nine times out of ten these days, it’s your smart phone. It’s pretty much always with you. And you can take amazing photos with it! It’s an amazing story-telling tool.

I think the best representation of this is done in the video I watched. Here it is for your viewing pleasure. The photos he took were awesome…and, I’m sure, edited….but still. A very fascinating look at a professional photographer’s opinion on using an iPhone. And if you’re interested in another one from the same two guys, check out THIS  one.

 

  • Julie - January 29, 2016 - 7:40 am

    Whoa that close up of the candidate was amazing. So crisp….
    Interesting video
    JulieReplyCancel

  • Sue FitzGerald - January 31, 2016 - 4:53 am

    I’m waiting for the moment case and wide angle to come back into stock, so excited about the prospects. Love the idea of a dslr like trigger on my phone, plus they look so cool, lol. A little pricey but hey, the memories are priceless :-) http://momentlens.co/shop/ReplyCancel

Remember yesterday how I said that my brain was swirling with Valentine adaptations for cards in the Hello There class (that’s on sale until Thursday).

Yup.

this happened.

bees knees cardelope web2

 

Using the soon-to-be-released bee stamp image with my Minc. A lovely combination, if I do say so myself!

One note. I might Minc it before doing your Silhouette Print+Cut. I did it after and so the cut affected the toner on the bee. In the end I’d prefer a nice smooth gold, but in the essence of conserving my precious gold ;), I opted not to redo it.

hmmmm…..now what else can I make?

  • Vonda - January 26, 2016 - 12:30 pm

    Is the Hello There class Silhouette only? I have an Explore Cricut and I am interested in it. I have used the mincReplyCancel

    • Kerri - January 27, 2016 - 5:38 am

      Yes, it’s for Silhouette only. Sorry. :)ReplyCancel

  • Melanie A. - January 27, 2016 - 10:09 am

    sooo I’m assuming you used a digital stamp here and printed normal to use your mink?…not a regular stamp and ink pad ink?ReplyCancel

    • Kerri - January 27, 2016 - 12:04 pm

      Yep. Digital stamp. Printed on my laser printer and minc’d away. :)ReplyCancel

The other day I was perusing some photos and came across photos from the Hello There Silhouette class from a couple years ago. My mind started swimming with ideas for Valentine’s Day! What you learn in the class can be adapted for any occasion, any color scheme, any…whatever.

Take a look at these two renditions. The aqua is one Nichol made, the orange is the version from the class.

hello-there-sale-side-by-side2
This pinked-edge paper bag Print+Cut is one of my very favorite designs we make in the class. The possibilities are endless!

And in case you wanted a bigger peek at the projects? Check these out.

hello-there-sale2
Yes, you learn how to make it all! In fact, there are ten projects total! And FYI, that ‘cardelope’ (zip away) is my other favorite in the class. ;)

And then let’s not forget all the beautiful freebies, right?

hello_there_freebies

 

Now, through Thursday, you can save 25% off this glorious class and learn to make 10 cards with envelopes.

Check out all the details HERE. It’s a great time to learn!

beauty-shot-hello-there

 

  • Monique van Duren - January 25, 2016 - 2:42 pm

    Love this class. Such fun projects you get to make and so versatile!ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl :) - January 25, 2016 - 6:19 pm

    Have had this on my wishlist for a while now. Thank you Kerri!ReplyCancel

Sometimes it’s just time for something new. And when that happens, it must be acted upon. For several years now I’ve put my subway art in a wrought-iron chalkboard. I’ve loved it all this time. But when I recently put in the Valentine’s Day art, I gandered at it a spell and decided I needed something fresh. It wasn’t so much the subway art as it was the chalkboard it was in. I’ve had a lot of wrought-iron in my home, particularly since we remodeled in 2008, and I decided I wanted to give my home a little face lift.

This would be the result.

subway display final2 web
I still loved the idea of  ‘subway art’, but wanted a more modern retro look. Yeah, it’s a thing. I loved the idea of simple text. It also looks lovely complemented with the All You Need Is Love handwritten phrase from Seasonably Said (cut in gold vinyl, placed on a transparency, and into to a clear frame).

Of course, when making the art in the subject of looooove, I couldn’t help but think of silly love songs. Sooooo, I made a rendition of that as well. :)

retro-art-love

Also includes cut files so you can play in programs like Silhouette Studio.


I kind of kept with that whole ‘retro’ theme there with the songs, if you couldn’t tell. ;) I’m feeling the urge to put that in my Midori Travelers Notebook.

I loved the idea of using a long and lean frame, but they aren’t as easy to come by. And by that, I mean, you have to be able to copy or print the image on a large format paper or cardstock to fit the frame, so you need to be particular about the frame. Since I wanted to play with it in a size I could end up running through my HP LaserJet Pro 1102w printer and my Minc, I purchased THIS FRAME from Target. (They also had some good frames at Michaels…just an inch too big for me.)

frame for print

(The frame I bought has updated packaging, including one photo spot in yellow and one in blue.)

The inside of the frame measures about 7.5 x 15″. I purchased some 13×19″  Hammermill paper and 80 lb cardstock from my local copy store. Trimmed it to 8.5″ and had plans to utilize that 19″…or at least the 15″. Unfortunately, even with creating a custom printer size, I still couldn’t get it to recognize the 19″–a limitation of the printer, I’m supposing. As a workaround, I’d already created my document using the frame specs, sized my art as I liked, but then used a Legal size printer paper (8.5×14″) for my media size. I adjusted the art down so that the bottom most line was at the bottom border.

print screen shot

 

After I printed it, I used the mat (or paper, if that’s what’s there) as a guideline to draw lines with a pencil where it needed to be trimmed away.

mat and print
Now, if you were wanting a big print, the best thing to do would be to take the image on a jump drive to a copy center rather than try to do this at home. They could probably even trim it to size for you. I just wanted the ability to shiny it up, so I opted for this setup.

So yeah. There ya go. Or maybe, there I go…refreshed decor.

aaahhhhhhh…..

  • Melanie A. - January 22, 2016 - 12:48 pm

    Ha, I kind of like it in the three sections tooReplyCancel

  • 3kidmama - January 23, 2016 - 9:59 pm

    What a fun decor item – would also make a fabulous wedding type gift I think too!ReplyCancel

Alright, I know that the title of Laura’s page has nothing to do with the weather, but man, that’s exactly the feeling I’ve been having with this January gloomy weather and short days! Okay, maybe it’d be more appropriate to say day after day, but man, this girl needs some sunshine!

Every time the sun comes out I’m so motivated to get stuff done. But it doesn’t last long before we’re all socked in again and it’s just a heavy feeling. You just don’t want to do anything. And this girl’s got lots to do!

Must. Have. Sun.

Okay, pity party’s over.
Let’s take a look at Laura’s lovely page today!

LauraVegas_WeekAfterWeekLauraVegas_WeekAfterWeek_detail5LauraVegas_WeekAfterWeek_detail1

[ DesignsToday (after) / Life Additions: Weeklies (week) / Half Pints #1 (photo template) ]

Love the way she mixed her title words from different kits! Great look! And man, I gotta give this girl some props because it takes a special person to do daycare…and to teach. Taking care of more children than just your own? I had my hands full with my own three, I can’t imagine taking on more. The destruction and crying alone… :) I think I said it before that Laura was my hero…and I mean it.


Here’s what Laura has to say:

I’ve accumulated so many photos of my daycare kiddos, and thought it was about time to do another layout about what a typical work week for me looks like. Quite honestly, a typical work week for me looks almost exactly like any other work week I’ve had over the last fourteen years of doing daycare. Just different faces, as kids come and go. I picked out a few photos that show a bit of the crazy moments of my days (kids making huge messes, huge amounts of kids, and lunchtime), and a few photos that show a bit of the calm moments of my days (sitting on the floor with little ones in my lap, and rocking babies to sleep), and combined them into one of Kerri’s collage templates from her Half Pints #1 kit.

For my title, I loved the chunkier “week” found in the Life Additions: Weeklies kit, and cut it twice from my aqua patterned paper. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I love a title combining a chunkier font with a cursive font. The “after”, found in Kerri’s Today kit, was perfect for adding in between my two “weeks”. I also cut each of the three words from black cardstock, which I layered behind my patterned paper words, slightly offsetting the two for a little dimension.

I left plenty of room to add my journaling, as I had a lot to say on this layout. I could have gone on and on about what makes up a normal work week for me, but I think I touched on the most important ones. I love doing layouts like this from time to time, as so much of the facts remain the same, and yet there’s always bound to be a few new tidbits that stand out more at different times in life.

chicago-theater


(Grab your favorite beverage and sit a spell. This is gonna be a long post. :) )

I’ve been to Chicago several times in my life. Most of it was for CHA (craft trade show), once with with Lisa Bearnson when she was on Oprah, and once was for a scrapbook retreat in Michigan (2 hours from Chicago) in 2000 with girls from the Provo Craft design team…which included Stacy Julian and Kristina Nicolai-White (2Peas). Pretty much before everything was really big in the scrapbooking industry.

Every time I go I have such an adventure! Great times.

It’s a city that just becomes a part of your soul. I can’t put my finger on it.

But I love Chicago.

Then last summer me and my little family were sitting around talking in the front room, like we often do. Chatting about this, that and everything. Many of our conversations include places we want to see. This should never be allowed when there’s an airline sale going on when your family has the wanderlust gene (it’s a thing). Before we knew it, kids were volunteering to pay for their $200 plane tickets (way good deal) and we had our trip in motion for Chicago.

This spontaneous trip was all planned for the week before Kass and I were to head to NYC, mind you. Only a three day break for us between trips. The reason for the timing on both trips? Hitting  ball games with the Cubs (v. St. Louis) and the Yankees (v. Red Sox). And when purchasing tickets, Dan insisted on the bleachers and with the exception of the annoying guys behind us, we felt like we were just about down on the field. Much more fun…if you’re ever wondering about where to sit.

At any rate, after our family trip, Chicago was no longer my kind of town, it was our kind of town. I believe the consensus was that it was the most favorite trip for everyone. The food, the visualness, the everything.

It’s funny. When the kids would talk to their friends about going to Chicago, they’d ask ‘What are you doing there? What are you going for? Why would you want to just go to Chicago? And then they’d ask if  we were rich. Uh. Not even. We just watch for good deals and make the most of it. That being said, we stayed at the Springhill Marriott Suites and it was the most I’d ever paid for a hotel. Pretty much standard rates for staying in the city, so it wasn’t the hotel per se.

But it was worth every penny.

We’d talked about staying out by the airport and taking the ‘L’ into the city for like half the cost, but that really wasn’t what should be done in a place like Chicago. You need to be able to leave the hotel and enjoy the city on a spontaneous moment’s notice.

You have to remember that I live in a house of photographers, myself included. Taking advantage of early mornings and late nights…and sometimes in rain. And who doesn’t love food and art? There was no way staying anywhere but the city would work.

And we loved the hotel. It was about a block from the river and a couple blocks over from Michigan Avenue.

So if you’ve been dying to see Chicago and have been wondering what to do and see, here’s our little take about what we did and loved. And one other note, I opted not to take my Canon 7D and lug it around for most of our outings. That thing just gets heavy. So most of my photos have been taken with my iPhone 5 and pretty much edited with Pic Tap Go. It was kind of liberating. I know I probably didn’t get ‘the best’ shots, but I can always steal from my kids. ;) I did take out 7D one morning to shoot with Zach though.

So here we go. Got your favorite beverage? Maybe a little snack? I thought that rather than a day-by-day account, I’d break it up into places we saw, places we ate, and things we did.


Places We Saw

chicago-Nighthawks-by-Edward-Hopper

The Art Institute of Chicago
Hello. Art history people in the house. And history people. Even if you’re not, it really is a fascinating place to see. And I got to see one of my most favorite paintings ever. I fell in love with this diner scene (Night Hawks) as a kid playing the game Masterpiece. It’s been a favorite ever since. And I love when they made a commercial from it not too long ago.

 

chicago-bean

‘The Bean’
This truly is quite the marvel. The sculpture is really called Cloud Gate. It was on our walk between breakfast and the Art Institute and a fascinating piece of art to look at. Definitely something to see.

 

chicago-cubs

Cubs Game at Wrigley Field
This has been one of Dan’s bucket list items he’s wanted to do forever, having played baseball growing up and into college and all. He was even in a Roy Hobbs league, when he reached thirty. Seeing the Cubs play was such a treat. We just wish there wouldn’t have been very drunk and very loud hecklers right behind us in the bleachers. Although, they did have a couple funny lines to the Cardinals left field player, like ‘Piscotty! That’s not a name, that’s an ice cream flavor!’, and ‘Piscotty! Your name has too many ‘t’s!’ But for the most part they were loud, obnoxious, and rude. Sucked the fun out of it a little.

But how fun to see the Cubs play…especially in a year when they almost made it to the World Series! Finally! I really think this is a must-do for anyone. And yes, sit in the bleachers. It’s so much more fun! And it’s cheaper too. And don’t forget your Chicago dogs.

 

chicago-navy-pier

Navy Pier
While I’ve been here several times and enjoyed it immensely, it didn’t quite have the spark when being there with the fam. I don’t know if it’s because it was super busy there that night or what. But we did enjoy seeing the sunset and listening to a little latin music for something that was going on at the end of the Pier. It was very low-key for us. We took the free trolley down to the Pier too, so if you’re in the downtown area, look for that route and catch it.

 

chicago-water-tower

Michigan Avenue
Of course heading down the iconic Michigan Avenue is a must, especially if you want to shop. Stopping at the Water Tower to take a little look too. We didn’t take advantage of any shopping opportunities, but just took a walk to see what it was all about. I’d been there previously, but they hadn’t. And it was really neat to see at sunset as it turned the tall buildings pink.


Places We Ate

chicago-wildberry

Wildberry Pancakes
A couple KB peeps recommended this place for breakfast and I just want to say THANK YOU! It was delicious! Hasbrowns+bacon cooked toasty perfection. Amazing pancakes+waffles. The boys enjoyed their different flavorful skillets. A definite must if you’re going to Chicago. We also enjoyed sitting outside. We walked there from our hotel, ate, and then walked through the park and over to the Art Museum.

 

chicago-firecakes

Firecakes Donuts
This cute little spot was just around the corner from our hotel. Lots of donuts and donut ice cream sandwiches. We had the ice cream donuts and they were good. Would have loved to try the other donuts. But it was 10:oo or so at night. Not many donuts left. But the shop was soooo cute! What we really enjoyed was sitting outside in their little table seating area, talking and people watching. It got really interesting when some ‘hang out on the street’ man with a bit of character stopped to talk to us. There was something about Santa and that he was going to show Jordan a present.  We were all a little relieved when it wasn’t what we thought he might do. ;)

 

chicago-henrys

Henry’s
We ate here on our very first night with the help of Kassidy (this time) and Yelp. It’s more of a bar than a restaurant…make that hipster bar. We’re talking couches and Saved By The Bell playing on the tvs. It was about 5:00 or so when we went–happy hour–and needless to say, I think our waitress was quite disappointed when the five of us didn’t order any drinks. But by the end, we’d won her over with our assortment of food orders. So much so that she even brought us an extra dish of cheese fries because she knew how much we loved them. Great service!

All I can say is wow on the food! They had the best cheese fries and sliders we’ve ever had! Zach was in love with the poutine. It’s fairly inexpensive and we all kept trying (ordering) the various sliders. Amazing, amazing bar food! Check out their menu HERE.

It really was one of our favorite places we ate. Perhaps a little dark inside for my tastes, but would go back in a heartbeat.

One thing we noticed and loved was how many restaurants had their storefronts completely open. So while there wasn’t much sidewalk for eating outside, you could sit at the front of the restaurant and ‘be outside’. What a great idea.


chicago-chinatown

Joy Yee
Another favorite has to be Joy Yee. We decided to have lunch in Chinatown after we’d got off our water taxi. We kind of just followed the crowd and boy, were we glad we did! The food was absolutely amazing! I think their menu was one of the biggest menus I’ve ever seen! It took forever to decide what to eat. I’d assumed the portion we were looking at was family style, like many Asian restaurants, but everyone ordered their own thing anyway. (Communication with the waiter wasn’t the best.)  Suffice it to say, we shared a little and then we still took food home. Lots and lots of food! And yes, I ordered fried rice for myself. It’s really all I wanted because it sounded so good. Not only that, I shared it with others and others shared with me. Great choice, by the way. Seriously, the best fried rice I’ve ever had…and I love me some fried rice. Very light. Delicious.

And a little side trip there would be to the candy store. Gotta just check that out. So many fun candies–and weird things in there.

 

chicago-giordanos-bruschetta

Giordano’s
Everyone told us we needed to hit this place. I think Dan and Zach had even seen it on the Travel channel or something too. It was a toss-up between here and Lou Malnati’s…and we ended up here. We had to have some Chicago deep dish pizza. And while it was good…it was very, very rich. I think I would have been happy with a regular veggie pizza or something. But…when in Chicago and all. However, this bruschetta stole the show for me. I’m a huge bruschetta fan and this was delightful!

 

chicago-pasta-bowl

The Pasta Bowl
This was one of those spontaneous pleasant surprises. And how cool is this mural in the restaurant??? We’d gone to the craft fair in the Wicker Park area (see Things We Did) and were looking for some place to eat. We’d seen a couple places near the ‘L’, but the wait was long or you needed cash for the tacos…and we didn’t have cash on us because we’d spent it at the craft fair. ;) So Jordan Yelp’d away and found this Pasta Bowl place not too far away. They had a lunch special that was wonderful–several choices for a great price–and the food was yum! We’d been to Eataly the night before and while it was good, we didn’t feel as impressed as we thought we would by the looks of it all…and by the price of it all. But we definitely enjoyed gelato there a couple nights!

The Pasta Bowl was just good local food and we loved it!

I wish we would have hit Stan’s Donuts though. I really wanted to try one. And it was right there by the ‘L’ too…as shown in the mural there.

 

chicago-portillos

Portillos
This was Zach’s recommendation. He’d seen it on Anthony Bourdain and really wanted to go. And a fine choice it was too! Great ambiance and great Italian beef sandwiches! Definitely get it with the cheese, peppers and onions. Oh man. Just thinking about it makes me want to go back. Heck…who am I kidding…all of this makes me want to go back. This post is killing me! ;)

 

Things To Do

chicago-river-walk-night

Walk Along The River
Our first night there we walked along the river. It’s lovely. There are restaurants, lots of graduated steps for sitting and just enjoying the view. I think when I read up on it, the longer walk along the river was something fairly new. Great idea though. I loved the views of the city, especially the Wrigley Building. It’s one of my most favorite buildings ever.

 

chicago-boat-family

Water Taxi Ride
This was one of our favorite things we did at the suggestion of one of the KB peeps. I’d always wanted to do the architecture boat tours but never had been able to squeak one in on a trip. After talking with the concierge at our hotel (our concierges were amazing, by the way), we found that the cost of the tours were $30-something a piece. Like I said, we’re not rich (ha ha), so I asked him about water taxis so we could just stroll up the river. He happened to have four water taxi passes that he just gave us, which was wonderful! (We tipped him, of course.) All we needed to do was purchase one more all-day pass, which I think was $7 for that day.

I really recommend this if you’re on a budget. The day was beautiful and while we may not have had the history, it was still a wonderful sight. And it wasn’t so ‘touristy’ either. Very calm. Not very many people, if any. We loved it. We took this up to Chinatown and ate at Joy Yee (Places We Ate). And with the water taxi, the pass is good all day, so do something during the day and then do a little tour in the evening.

And I promise…we didn’t plan the ‘blue’ wardrobe.’ ;)

 

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Raising of a Bridge
I’m not exactly sure when this occurs, but they happened to be raising them that weekend to get the sailboats up the river. Being a bridge fanatic, I loved that we spontaneously got to be there when this happened. The man running the bridge told us we couldn’t go across until it started to raise (ha ha).

 

 

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Early Morning or Night Time Walk
Like I said, this is a photographic family. Part of the reason two-thirds of us wanted to go to Chicago so badly was to take pictures. There’s a different energy walking around at these times than just walking around the day like a typical tourist. Kass and Zach went out early one morning and Zach and I went out another morning. All three of us went out one night and it was drizzling. Still. Great photo opportunities–like this one that Zach took of a man just standing in the street with an umbrella. And the one I took of the ‘L’ with my phone (wasn’t gonna haul my 7D out in the rain).

But the morning that Zach and I went out, this moment just caught my eye.

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I found seeing the glimpse of sunrise between the buildings to be a wonderful moment. That amidst these tall buildings that reach up to the sky, you could see through to the lake area and still catch a peek at the sun rising in the east. Loved the moment.

What was also awesome about getting up early to shoot was the fact that it was a Sunday, which meant we had a lot of the streets to ourselves. That was fantastic! Nothing like standing out in the middle of the street to get shots like this.

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park and water tower web

Question. Do you locals hate the ‘L’ running through your city like this? To us visitors, it’s amazing! We loved the character that it adds to your fabulous city.

And this was actually really cool. I wonder which way the wind blows here in The Windy City?

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City Events: Renegade Craft Fair
While we were there, the Renegade Craft Fair happened to be taking place. Knowing that it would have crafts, arts, jewelry and small businesses from places all over, we decided it would be something worth going to…and it was. Well, for four of us, anyway. ;) Dan wasn’t too much into the browsing, but we all took advantage of some great little finds. It takes place in Wicker Park on Division Street, so it was a good excuse to go out beyond the main city and see something else. It really was a pretty little area.

Here’s a few things I picked up. (And because I know I’ll be asked, the scissors are from Oh Hello Friend.)

chicago-craft-fair-finds

 

 

Tips+Tricks

Use Yelp
This was pretty much Jordan’s responsibility while we were there. She would look things up for us when we were looking for a good place to eat when we didn’t have an idea already in mind or we were some place ‘else’.

Get two of everything if you can.
I collect any and all paper materials I can get my hands on, including business cards, flyers, tickets, stubs…you name it. And if I can collect two, one for my travel journal and then one for when I actually put an album together…all the better.

Be willing to be spontaneous.
Part of the fun+adventure of a trip is just going with the flow. Like finding a great place to eat by chance.

Don’t be afraid to talk with people.
Some of the best moments are when you engage with other tourists or the locals. Both can share great places they’ve done too. In fact, when talking with our concierge, we told him about the place Henry’s, which was just around the corner. He’d never even known it was right there or how good it was! He was recommending it to other people after that.

Check the city website for events going on while you’re there.
This is such a great piece of advice because you know in advance what’s going on and if you’d like to attend, as was the case for us and the Renegade Fair. I think we were all so happy to have gone and that it was going on while we happened to be there.

Take pictures of food+menus.
I don’t say this from a hipster point of view, I say this from a ‘if I don’t, then I’ll forget’ point of view. I love having visual record of what and where we ate. It may not always be ‘Instagram-worthy’, but at least I’ll know and remember a whole lot better.

Plan Days of Walking or Sitting
I think this is something you should really keep in mind. I tried to plan the events that we were doing so that if we walked a lot one day, then the next day we wouldn’t spend as much time on our feet. Riding trains or water taxis contributes to that sit-down time. I think that being mindful of it this time around made–as well as the activities we chose to do working with that theory–made the trip even better.

+ + + + + + +

I took over 1000 photos on this trip. I could go on and on. But, I digress. There are things that we would like to have done, but there’s only so much time. Alas, it gives us more to do when we go again. ;) Hopefully what I’ve shared will help you on your next trip to Chicago or entice you to go there. It’s a visual and tasteful delight…and definitely worth it!

chicago city street web

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  • Rebecca S. - January 18, 2016 - 6:57 am

    You captured some beautiful photos of my hometown. I miss living there. So glad you had a nice trip. Thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Lynette - January 18, 2016 - 7:01 am

    Great pictures!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Whitney - January 18, 2016 - 7:27 am

    Great post and pics! I live in the Chicago suburbs and go into the city quite often, but seeing your post really makes me want to stay at a hotel and do it up like your family did. As for the L, my niece lives in the Bucktown neighborhood (next to Wicker Park) and has said that the L is a part of life in the city and they use it frequently to get around. I’m 42 and have yet to ride it. Thanks for posting your beautiful take on Chicago!ReplyCancel

  • Melanie A. - January 18, 2016 - 8:28 am

    Love Chicago, though I haven’t been able to just explore. Last time I went was to the Christkindlmarket in December. Wicked windy but so much fun! Giordano’s is definitely rich, but a must for me. There is so much packed into each piece! (I am a northern girl so I tend to only like New York style so this was way out for me the first time I tried it lol) I got a new camera for Christmas so you definitely have me thinking another trip is in order. Maybe by myself so I can just wander and explore at leisure!
    Thanks for sharingReplyCancel

  • Michelle Bradtke - January 18, 2016 - 9:54 am

    I loved this post – because I am from Chicago – have never lived anywhere else. I live in the ‘burbs, but my daughter lives in Old Town, just off Michigan Ave north of the Water Tower. So I am in “the city” all the time, and love it. And yes, I love the “El” as most people do, but one reason my daughter chose to live where she does is that the El stop is directly across from her apartment and is UNDERGROUND in that part of the city. So she has the convenience with no noise. Neither her nor her boyfriend have a car – they take the El or walk everywhere.
    And thanks for the tip on Henry’s – never heard of it, but it looks interesting!ReplyCancel

  • Monique van Duren - January 18, 2016 - 12:19 pm

    Wow, what beautiful photos. Looks like a really wonderful trip to Chicago. Chicago is on my wish list, I hope I can get to visit the city one day. Thanks for all your tips and ideas.

    I already look forward to the album you are gonna make of it. Hope you will share it.

    I love to look at your New York City album from the Everywhere-class. Such a great example. Maybe one day I can make such a beautiful album too.

    It is hard to pick exactly the right photos to fit in the page protectors. I really struggle with that.

    Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful day!
    MoniqueReplyCancel

  • Lancene Blackmon - January 18, 2016 - 5:06 pm

    We’ve only been to Chicago once, but my husband and I just loved it and we’ll definitely be going back for a longer visit. I’m so glad your whole family could go – once the kids grow up it can be very difficult to get everybody together at the same time! We’re discovering that a fun destination encourages participation.

    Looks like you had a great time and you guys took some beautiful photos.ReplyCancel

  • Linda G. - January 18, 2016 - 6:17 pm

    love love love Chicago, its a happening town! New York is over rated IMO. There is always something going on and its a beauty of a city to walk, photograph and eat your way through the city. We live 45 minutes from Chicago and it is always better to stay downtown to really get the feel of the city. My husband use to live downtown and it was nice to just walk and explore the city. It was nice to read how much you loved visiting Chi town. It really is a fun place to visit all year round.ReplyCancel

    • Kerri - January 19, 2016 - 8:06 am

      I think my family would agree with you Linda.
      Although, I did really enjoy seeing more of the SoHo/Greenwich area this last time.
      NYC is fun and we enjoy it, but there is just something about Chicago.
      We love it!ReplyCancel

  • Heather - January 18, 2016 - 11:29 pm

    I am originally from Chicago, but have since moved. As a special treat for my husband (who LOVES Portillo’s) I order the “shop and ship.” For around $80 you can make 8 sandwiches (that includes 2-day shipping anywhere in the US) :)ReplyCancel

    • Kerri - January 19, 2016 - 8:01 am

      Well now, doesn’t that sound like an intriguing idea!
      Not bad at all!ReplyCancel

  • Peggy Salazar - January 19, 2016 - 5:35 am

    While you touted Chicago as your kind of town, you never bothered to visit the Southside, where I live. WE are often overlooked and ignored (we have a baseball team too you know – the Sox). There is much to see here if people would spend a little time off of the beaten track.ReplyCancel

  • Peggy Salazar - January 19, 2016 - 5:41 am

    I’m disappointed that you never bothered to visit the Southside, where I live. WE are often overlooked and ignored (we have a baseball team too you know – the Sox). There is much to see here if people would spend a little time off of the beaten track.ReplyCancel

    • Kerri - January 19, 2016 - 8:00 am

      I’ve actually been to a White Sox game, so I have been there before. :)
      That was one of my most favorite things we did when we went to CHA one year.
      Great time!
      We’ll just have to put that on the agenda for our next trip.
      There’s just too much to do and never enough time.
      And you should share some Southside tourist tips here. We’d LOVE to know what to do in many places there! ReplyCancel

  • Julie - January 20, 2016 - 2:12 pm

    Oh I’ll have to book mark this as my husband wants to run in the Chicago marathon. he said we would have fun there….Now that i’ve seen this, I think we would.

    Can’t wait to see your Chicago Scrapbook.
    JulieReplyCancel

  • Melissa - January 20, 2016 - 11:03 pm

    I love this post Kerri and am so glad you enjoyed your time here! Living here in the cold weather sometime makes you forget a bit how great Chicago really is. This city is amazing, especially in the summer, when there is always somewhere to go or something to see. If you ever come back, as a southsider, I definitely recommend visiting Pilsen for its wonderful street art and culture (and good food!) and Bridgeport has some great eats too. Oh and the L is such an integral part of the city, i can’t imagine it not being around, it’s an appreciates asset for sure!ReplyCancel

    • Kerri - January 21, 2016 - 5:30 am

      Wow! Just looked up Pilsen. Looks amazing! Definitely something my artsy kids would love to photograph. Thanks for sharing those recommendations. We’ll just put all that on our to-do list for next time. :)ReplyCancel

  • Kary - January 21, 2016 - 4:39 pm

    We have visited Chicago a number of times in the past few years as our son was working on a PhD at the University of Chicago. Such a fun city to visit (if you choose your seasons well–winter & midsummer, not so much!). Our son and his wife lived in both Lincoln Park and Hyde Park and got around mostly on foot & with the subway, and had many favorite restaurants and interesting places to see. I’d highly recommend Xoco’s the next time you’re there–truly amazing Mexican food. Also Purple Pig–which is right on the river. Son finally got his degree last June and moved to LA (where they are much happier–way more for an outdoorsy person to do), so I doubt I’ll go back, but I loved seeing your photos!ReplyCancel

  • Suz - January 26, 2016 - 3:57 pm

    Loved the photographs. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel