Category Archives: Girl’s Trips

Another Lovely Founders Day! Skee-wee!!!

Happy Founders Day to the Lovely Ladies of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc!

As I approach my 15th (whew, I’m old!) anniversary as and AKA, I can’t help but get excited about the awesome women in my life whom I call sorors!! We’ve been together for college homecomings, baby showers, weddings, parties, vacations, sleepovers and every life event in between. Though I have thousands of photos, here are some of my fav moments over the years…

SUCH FUN TIMES!!! 
I wouldn’t trade these ladies for the world!! ❤ 
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Susan G Komen 3-Day in Michigan

60 Miles. 3 Days. I can do that. Wait – I did that!!

I have sooooo much to talk about and as soon as I find the time I will have to share all of the amazing stories of my Komen 3 day journey through the Metro Detroit suburbs with hundreds of men and women, all in the name of fighting, stopping and providing education on breast cancer. There are waaaaay to many pics to post in a single blog, so I’m sure it will take a few posts with plenty of fun captions to tell the amazing story of the weekend that helped inspire me to do more!

Come back soon and read all about it!
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A break from real life…

This fall I had the chance, TWICE, to get away from the work world for a few days and enjoy some sun, water, warm weather and good food! I will spare you to hundreds of photos and share a few that stand out from each trip. Up first – My stepmom planned a girls’ trip to Nassau… The islands were not ready, heck, neither was I?? See below for my photo headings and pictures… 

Dinner on Night #1 was at Twin Brothers (recommended by a LOT of the locals we talked to) included conch salad (being prepared in the center photo below) along with cracked lobster (MY FAV), cracked shrimp, rice and peas, and plantains.

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We found a bar that was having a Karaoke night so my cousin and I did a world class performance of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”.

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Me hanging out with the captain of the Booze Cruise… The girls were lining up to take pictures with this guy… and  will say, he was pretty HOT!

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Our booze cruise advertised a portion of the day spent on a” “secluded island”… which was actually a small, deserted, dangerous, rocky piece of land. One of the highlights was the starfish in the pic…. I was so fascinated by it. The semi-shelter in the second pic became a prop for a few folks who decided it was a great place for some drunken, not-so-sexy photo shoots… pure comedy!

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We stayed at the world class Atlantis resort…. In the center of the pic on the left you can see an archway which contains the “Bridge Suite” also referred to as the “Michael Jackson Suite”. All yours for somewhere between $25,000-$34,000 per night (4 night minimum). We would have stayed there but it wasn’t available the week we were there Winking smile

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We had a great time!!!

For the item of the day, I saw this BCBG RUNWAY GEOMETRIC WRAP DRESS in Macy’s the other day. Its not on sale in the store (Orig. $348), but it is discounted at BCBG.com ($208.80). Its absolutely BEAUTIFUL and the flowy silk is extremely soft!!! I love the belt shown in the runway pic below, although it is sold separately.

BCBG RUNWAY GEOMETRIC WRAP DRESS

Girls Trip to Orlando

Anyone who has followed this blog knows I absolutely LOVE my girlfriends and even more I LOVE to travel with them!!! Last month 9 of my lovely line sisters and soror-friends decided to terrorize the city of Orlando like no other girls can do! We got an awesome deal from Thursday-Sunday at the Mystic Dunes Resort in Kissimmee/Celebration, FL area. For the 9 of us, we rented the Three Bedroom Lockoff with gave us a 3-bed, 3-bath, 2-kitchen space with lots of room and a great balcony. The rates were VERY affordable and when split among the group we spent nearly half of the cost we paid for admission to Universal Studios! We also rented 2 cars for the weekend which was a great idea that provided for plenty of flexibility for the group. (Although in this pic below I was sitting on the floor of the backseat because an extra person jumped in the “mall” car at the last minute and there wasn’t enough space for 6 in a Ford Focus! Long – and funny – story short, it was NOT a comfortable ride!!!)

While some of the girls ventured to Cocoa Beach (it was still a bit too chilly for me) the second car spent the WHOLE day at the outlet malls! I am OBSESSED with Orlando’s Premium and Prime outlet malls and found so many great items and great deals. I brought Rob back a couple of shirts from the Thomas PINK outlet store (priced at $59 each, versus the normal $180+) and grabbed myself a new pair of black and white Pumas to replace the ones I’ve had for about 5 years by now. I saw many other great deals and was a little upset that I didn’t snatch up the gray Chelsea skinny jeans at the Joe’s Jeans outlet store or the blue fitted blazer at Off Fifth.

All in all, we had a great time!!! There is nothing like getting away to celebrate with good friends. Check out some of our fun times:

Fresh off the plane and in an alley somewhere trying to find trouble…
It was 2AM and we were looking for something to get into
The guys at Panchero’s moved the tables so we could have a dance competition
The BEST pop in the world – The Coke in the bottle from Mexico made with SUGAR and not that high fructose stuff
Trying out the pedicab at Universal Studios
Peer Pressure – Emily trying to convince Candice to ride one of the rides
Head to head Dance Dance Revolution competition!
Posing for the camera right before Kiana KILLED me at Guitar Hero in the arcade… it was my first time playing but it was fun!
I went to the doghouse looking for Bobby but he wasn’t there so I was sad…
Cap’n Joe from Big Toho Airboat Tours – our tour guide on the alligator swamp ride. He stopped in the middle of the swamp to collect payment and he had a credit card machine in his pocket… just in case. LOL
Gator coming towards us and the front row huddling and screaming!
The family gator, we all got to take pics with him… he was pretty nice!
The trip ended with a FUN and FILLING dinner at Benihana followed by what else???? A SLEEPOVER!!! LOL!!! 
What a weekend!!!!! I can’t leave you without an item of the day, so here it is….. After a year of speculation it has been announced that the disgustingly crazy “sandwich” offered by KFC, which replaces the typical two pieces of bread with two chicken patties and keeps the rest of the goodies in the middle, will be released this month. You do have the option of grilled or fried, because we all know, two grilled patties is way better… right? This just grosses me out!! Is anyone planning to try it??? The KFC website Nutrition Guide lists the health content near the bottom of page 1 which is summed up as: 
Original Recipe Double Down – 540 calories, 32g of fat,1380mg of sodium
Grilled Double Down – 460 calories, 23g of fat,1430mg of sodium.

Girls Trip to Chicago – Budget Friendly

Even though I live here in Chicago, I’m going to write this blog as a “Trip Plan”… This should give some ideas to anyone planning a Girls Weekend in Chicago! Some of my closest girlfriends from my hometown of Detroit headed to Chicago to hang out for the 4th of July. We had a wonderful time! I did my best to expose them to restaurants and events that were Chicago-specific.
Wednesday – Chiquita arrives first and we head over to a spot that I had never heard of, called Sangria. I had a cousin in town that I had never met, so she and I went to this restaurant/bar/club to meet up with he and his friends. The DJ was pretty good, the crowd was surprisingly thick for a Wednesday night and there were plenty of nice men there (not that either of us is looking, right?). LOL! It actually sounds like a cool spot and I’m looking forward to going back for a meal!
Thursday – Chiquita decided to head over to Connie’s Pizza for lunch and then when April arrives late that evening and we head up to Wicker Park/Bucktown to one of my favorite spots (that I’ve mentioned before) – Salud Tequila Lounge. Thursday nights are $1-$2-$3 appetizer nights, so we each got a drink (the drinks there are good and strong) and a couple of appetizers for dinner. Totaled about $15 each. Not bad at all!
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Friday – We started the day at Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles. The food there is excellent! Up next?? What else – SHOPPING!!! We went up and down Michigan Ave shopping and snapping photos until Reina arrived on her journey from Detroit. We also caught a glimpse of NBA star Tayshaun Prince browsing the Bentleys at the dealership in Gold Coast (see last pic)
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We hopped the truck with Reina and headed to Cafe Iberico in River North. I have a few standard recommendations to share with you : THE WHITE SANGRIA!!!! You have to start with a glass (or pitcher) of the sangria. I also love the QUESO DE CABRA (baked goat cheese), CROQUETAS DE POLLO (Chicken and ham puffs), GAMBAS AL AJILLO (grilled garlic shrimp) and JAMON IBERICO (seared ham and manchego cheese). I absolutely love that place… food was less than $25 each.
Up next? A quick trip to change our clothing and head over to Pole Dancing Class at Flirty Girl Fitness… The “drop-in” classes are $25/person and last an hour. Sorry boys, I will only post the “before” pics 😉 I’ll just say it was TONS OF FUN!
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Afterwards, we had dinner at Carbon (pronounced like car-bone), a local spot that I like to refer to as an “upgraded Chipotle”. The concept is the same (build your own burritos or tacos) but the quality is superb. Cooked to order, freshly made salsas and sides and most importantly (and HIGHLY recommended) are the Tilapia tacos!! I eat here very regularly and bring everyone I know to this spot for some good, quick Mexican food. Food and drink about $10/person. Still awake, we dressed and went out to watch “Bobby” and his friends perform a hip hop set at a club near downtown. We were on the list and got in free. The music, aside from their hip hop set, was mostly techno and electronic. Not really any of our style so we didn’t stay very long, but still managed to have some fun! We hoped to make it over to Shrine but most of the girls were pretty tired by the time we left.
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Saturday – We skipped breakfast and decided to venture out to the Taste of Chicago. As this was my fourth trip to the Taste in one week, I already knew exactly which foods I wanted! We ran into my dad and step-mom there, but I won’t post the pics because it was raining and somebody had a shower cap on to protect their “do” from the rain! LOL!! After the Taste, we decided to get out State Street shopping fix! Filene’s Basement, Nordstrom Rack and Macy’s were key points. By then, we were ready for a snack, and despite the rain and slight coolness, I had to suggest my favorite snack spot in Chicago – Berry Chill. The frozen yogurt here is soooo good, and good for you!!! This is a pic I took a while back of the one time I ventured away from my usual. I got an original with Thin  Mints, Samoas and strawberries…. Not a good combination. My favorite combo is original yogurt with strawberries, blueberries and coconut shavings!
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Next stop? Three Peas Art Lounge in South Loop. A couple of months ago, I attended an event at Three Peas and was introduced to their signature drink – the Peach Cobbler Martini. I bragged to my girls about how good it was all weekend and finally they would get the chance to try it. One martini, turned into 3 martinis plus a few shots and some new friends! We finished the night with dinner at Bar Louie in Hyde Park and we had all crashed and fell asleep by 11PM!
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Sunday – Can’t have everyone leaving Chicago without a proper breakfast send off. We met up with my dad, step-mom and “Bobby” for brunch at Wishbone, a popular, Louisiana-style restaurant. I ordered my usual – the Shrimp and Grits. ITS SO GOOD!!!
All in all, we had a wonderful trip and I can’t wait for them to visit again!

I’m Back, with a long review on San Juan!!

Sorry about the delay in between posts. It seems its been getting worse over the year buy I’m trying to be more consistent. Just seems as if there is never enough time in the day. I’m pretty upset now that I went to Dominick’s to do some grocery shopping. I usually split the shopping between Dominick’s and Jewel-Osco, depending on what’s on sale at each. Since I didn’t have time to do my usually sales papers reviews before shopping, I just decided to get most of my stuff from Dominick’s and just pick up a rotisserie chicken from Jewel for dinner….. BIG MISTAKE. I walked in Jewel and realized that half the stuff I bought in Dominick’s was much less in Jewel due to their new price slashing!!!! Then I hear this one the news, reminding me of my big mistake. BOOOOO
All in all my No Spending Challenge ended great!! I made it all the way to the end and did a great job of tracking my spending and my thoughts. I am actually going to do it again soon because I liked the discipline and also the leftover money at the end 😉
Last week I went on a girl’s trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico and had a blast!!! It was the first time Gabbi and I had traveled together since we were kids so it was great to spend time and bond. We all woke up the last day wishing we had at least ONE MORE DAY there. Here are some details from the trip:
Lodging: El San Juan Hotel and Casino – I have to be honest and say this wasn’t our first choice for hotels. Sharifa and I had decided on Condado Plaza but after meeting a guy at a conference who used to for the tourism board of PR, and one of my TravelSisters buddies Tiggi told me about her amazing trip, we decided to follow their suggestion and go with El San Juan. TripAdvisor.com had some great reviews and some sketchy reviews (more of the recent ones being sketchy) so I was very hesitant and nervous. Most of that went out the window when I saw the lobby. The hotel was decorated nicely and had plenty of restaurants and shops on site. The location was great – very close to the airport and walking distance to plenty of restaurants serving local cuisine. We did have a problem with check-in, as the early check in was totally disregarded (which we expected based on the reviews) and the request for 2 double rooms turned into 1 double and 1 king room (which they fixed for the second night). These pics were taken in the hotel lobby…
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Food: Our concierge was ON POINT with his restaurant suggestions. The first night we walked to Mi Casita where we were introduced to “mofongos”, a mashed-plantain dish with a meat and sauce on top. Gabbi and I were hooked the first night!! The next day we hit up Metropol at the suggestion of the concierge. OMG – everything we ordered was amazing and the mojito I ordered was PERFECT. I was supposed to take pics of the food but by the time I remembered this is all that was left on our plates (mine was the second plate and I had the combination platter – so much food):
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The third night we went to Mojito’s in Old San Juan at the suggestion of the guy who worked in the hotel wine shop. Once again we hit the jackpot! I went for the shrimp mofongo and it did not disappoint, while the mojito I ordered was just ok (a bit too tart for me). That night we went to Koco in the lobby of our hotel and Gabbi and I shared the salad and pan-seared halibut with risotto. Another A+ meal! Sharifa and I shared the apple tart for dessert and that was nicely paired with a cinnamon ice cream. The 2 for 1 mojito deal made up for the tiny glasses the mojito was served in… but again, it was more on the tart side.
Activities: El Yunque Rainforest – This was probably the thing we were looking forward to most about the trip. We knew we’d have to rent a car – which turned out to be seamless with the Enterprise car rental desk being in the lobby (we made a reservation about 2 week prior). The employee was VERY helpful and did a great job of making sure we were set up for our journey. At Tiggi’s suggestion, we brought a portable GPS with us, which definitely came in handy after following the signs put us on a dead end road! (We also used it to find a McDonald’s to order some breakfast on the way!) After an interesting Spanglish conversation between myself and the guy at the information desk, he gave me his “trip plan” and we got in the car and were on our way into the forest. We drive up lots of narrow, winding, steep roads, stopping occasionally to take pictures with the roadside “objects” or to see what pics we could get from the random look out points and the tower.
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Eventually we made it to the parking for Mino Falls, which required a bit of a hike to get there. SOMEONE in the car suggested we take the hike from the second point since it was 10 minutes shorter, not knowing that it was the more challenging, steeper route!!! So here are some pics we took along the way:
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And the prize at the end of the hike: The Falls!!!!! (I must have been caught off guard in this pic – LOL)
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The next morning we woke up and went to the Edouardo de Paris spa on the hotel’s 10th Floor. THIS PLACE IS EXPENSIVE. But we knew that ahead of time and had made our reservations a month in advance. We contacted the spa to negotiate a discounted package deal and ended up getting a facial and four-hand massage at a nice discount. Yes, you read that right. FOUR-HAND MASSAGE. Don’t ask. And yes, its even better than you can imagine! Well worth it!! (I will give you this – ladies, be sure to request Carlos)
We also took a trip to Old San Juan but by the time we got there and ate it was late so most of the pics I was planning on (El Morro – the Forts) are night pics and didn’t come out well because they aren’t well lit at night. Here are a few random pics I got in Old San Juan…
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Overall, it was a great trip!!! Gabbi is already working on our next girls trip… LOL! They can be addictive! Here are two more pics – the “welcome committee” at the airport and Gabbi and I get our dance on at the BBQ place on the top floor of the hotel! (The facial expressions are hilarious – well, to me they are… maybe not to her!)
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item of the Day???? A GIRLFRIEND’S TRIP! Get your girlfriends (or sisters or cousins or even mom/daughters) together and start planning now! You can make it happen! You can google “girl’s trips” and get tons of ideas for making your own. Here are some suggestions and tips (based on girls trips I’ve taken in the past)…
pick a date. we usually send out all the dates that will NOT work and one of us (usually one of the nerdy engineers) compiles a spreadsheet highlighting dates that work for everyone. Form there we pick one and start planning. NO changing the dates!!
set a budget that works for everyone. If the trip is a year out you have more time to save. If its 4 months away you have less time. Find out what is realistic for everyone and what is included in that budget. If people are bad with saving set up a fund/account where the money is held and people can make regular payments or find a travel agent who can do this for you.
check hotel prices against the prices of rentals (homes, condos, cabins)… if you have a large group you can usually get a great deal. But be sure to ask a LOT of questions! We used a place we found on VRBO in 2007 for our girls trip to Chicago. The 8 of us rented a 2bd/2ba loft style condo near downtown Chicago. Four of the girls drove in together so we made sure we found a place that included parking. We also made sure it was close to train/bus for those flying in.
– get a general idea of the cost of activities and include this when selecting the location. For San Juan we knew we wanted a spa day and we also knew it was very expensive, but that was the only activity we paid significant money for! The rainforest was the $100 rental car for the day and a $3 donation each. Old San Juan included a $20 cab ride each way. That totals $38 each for 2 days worth of activities!!
check for flight specials (if necessary) and track using airline emails and sites like Kayak and Airfarewatchdog where you can get email alerts for your city pairs. We planned a trip from Detroit to MN when I was living there and one of these emails popped up with flights for less than $150. I called up all the girls on a conference line to let them know and they all purchased the tickets immediately saving potentially hundreds of dollars (that was typically an expensive flight).
– lastly, HAVE FUN! Check with fellow bloggers or friends to find out how their trips were, what they recommend and what they disliked. Plan a few big things and wing it on other things. Just make sure you take everyone into consideration and make it as much fun as possible!

August in Pictures… Part 2 of 2

Up next… PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO!!! April and I went for a wedding and managed to squeeze in lots of fun! Salsa lessons, outdoor adventures, shopping on the boardwalk, beach time and plenty of margaritas and free tequila shots!!!! Here are some pics of the city… the ocean was beautiful, the people were so friendly and the city was quite an experience in the way the homes were constructed on the hillsides and in the mountains – much different than what we’re used to in the US…
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The highlight of our trip was the Vallarta Adventures – Outdoor Adventure!!! This was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done in my life! Check out my Spaces video module for a video summary of what we did over our 4 hour day – canopy runs, mountain hiking, donkey rides, waterfall repels…. you name it – we did it!! I would recommend this to anyone who can handle it – its very strenuous and definitely qualifies as a work out!
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We stayed at the Dreams Resort… which was absolutely wonderful. The staff was GREAT, the all-inclusive activities (and drinks) were plentiful and the beach…. well, the pics speak for themselves…
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Now, after the vacations and holiday have passed, its time to settle into real life….. and save up for the next trip!!!
 IMG_0292 <-Me taking on the rough waves
**PS, I’m trying out this Google Chrome browser at work and at home… I was liking it just well enough until I pulled up my blog on and saw that a few things were missing… sigh… you almost had me Google!!!!!

August in Pictures… Part 1 of 2

It seemed as thought the month of August was one LONG vacation for me… September feels like torture 🙂

I took a trip to Toronto to visit my baby cousin Elle – she’s so gorgeous. Seriously, she’s the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen in my life. Its rare that newborn babies look so pretty – but you can tell, even from the “just born” pics that she is a girl, and that’s amazing to me. She’s not even 2 months old yet but its growing so noticeably fast! Check out some pics of her over her first month of life… she’s always camera ready!

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While she wasn’t very entertaining just yet, her 3 year old brother kept me entertained and educated (and tired)…

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Next up – a family reunion that included a dinner on the Princess Boat Cruise (where I ran into some of my line sisters who were celebrating a class reunion on the cruise and snapped the pic of the Detroit Renaissance Center/GM Headquarters shown below)….

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….followed by a quick trip with the girls to my brother‘s Signature Saturdays event at the exclusive restaurant Sweet Georgia Brown in Detroit. Hot venue and even hotter party….

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Nap-town wins again…

This past weekend was my line sister’s wedding. It was a beautiful event held at the downtown Hyatt in Indianapolis and quite a few of my line sisters were able to make it. Actually… beautiful is an understatement. That wedding (reception) was off the chains!!!! We had sooo much fun…. and as for the bachelorette party… what happens in Indiana, stays in Indiana!!! 🙂

   

I was all over the dance floor at the reception – amazing since I usually have to be forced to dance. I did every line dance on earth – The Electric Slide, some Chicago-style stepping, The Cha-Cha (Casper) Slide, the Cupid Shuffle, 2-Step, and even tried my hand at the Souljah Boy (which I decided to leave to the teenagers who obviously had practiced that dance for hours). I added links to the online videos for everyone to learn a new dance or two… or just laugh at other people trying to learn. For the advanced crowd, April recommends The Turbo Hustle… that one is NOT for me…. you are on your own with THAT!!!

On the literary tip, I finished the latest book from the Eric Jerome Dickey Collection – Walking with Enemies. Overall I was pleased and satisfied with this follow up to “part one” – Sleeping with Strangers. The suspense was there and the characters were well written… but I have mixed feelings about the first 1/3 of the book reading like pornography. Now I can’t wait for his next novel! I gotta say thanks again to “The Guy I’ve Been Dating” for surprising me with the book. Although the ulterior motive (getting me to summarize it for him so he could participate in literary discussions with his Eric Jerome Dickey-reading V.P. at work) was more than obvious!

Now, for what you’ve all been waiting for…. *drumroll*…. The item of the day is the “little black dress”. Not because I want it to be, for goodness sakes its still SUMMER. And that only lasts so long around here. Its just that I have yet another wedding to attend and we were asked to wear black… not that it will kill me to wear the black dress I wore to the wedding last weekend (although it might and I’d rather not die over a dress)… so I’m on the hunt for a black dress to wear to a summer wedding, where a number of young ladies will also be cloaked in the same color… I must not blend in!!!

Funny… as soon as I posted the last pic I realized…. I have a dress that looks EXACTLY like that one!!!

Last but not least, this is by far the coolest dress alive… The Pamela Dress found at the Little Black Dress Shop (Toronto) can be worn TEN different ways. Here are a few of my favorite options…

 

*voice of reason kicking in* Maybe I’ll be “budget conscious” and wear what I have… but what will I do about shoes??? Stay tuned ladies and gentleman… we have more shopping to do!

Girls Getaway 2007 – The Windy City

Whew – the girls weekend had me beat! Yeah, it was a whole week ago, but I was tired and busy at work trying to catch up… so here’s the brief recap:

In an effort to break away from the inconvenience of multiple hotel rooms, we rented a condo on State St, just south of downtown, that we scoped out on one of the rent-by-owner sites. We were a little skeptical in the beginning but as soon as we arrived, there was no doubt. The place was TIGHT!!! It was a 2BR, 2BA over 1500 s.f. all for the nightly rate of $350. For 8 young women (YES, there were 8 of us) it was PERFECT. We have decided that this is the only way to go from now on! Check out the fun…

Pics of the city…

Pics of the condo…

Places we ate… and Harpo Studios…

The girls having fun…

Michigan Ave plant fashions… and a “metal man” with his plastic friend…

 

…and although I didn’t stop by there during this trip… I had to include my favorite discount shopping spot!

 

Well, we’re facing a big thunderstorm/flash flood tonight. Not looking good at all… Kare 11 News interrupted my nightly Jay Leno viewing to show me scary video clips from some of the neighboring suburbs the storm is moving through on its way here… so I’m gonna make the item of the day an item that I wish I could get right now on IMMEDIATE delivery… cause I am going to need it in the morning! Behold the Pucci designer galoshes available at Zappos… 

…or save a few bucks and go with the infamous Thomas Pink Wellies…

…or – if you’re on a shopping diet like me – you may want to check out Target for a huge selection priced near $20.

Ok, that’s all for tonight. I’m going to cuddle with my flashlight and try and drown out the thunderous sounds of this storm passing through. Good night bloggers!!!!

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