Hi,Pepperminters! I’M BACK! Did you miss me?! 🙂
When I first started a blog back three years ago, my goal was to share my ideas about food, fitness, fashion and frugality in the amazing city of Chicago. My little sister and I came up with the name “Pepperminting” to describe that best friend phenomenon in which we knew precisely what the other one was saying/thinking, and I was off! I have made lifelong friends through this blog, experienced amazing restaurants, and collaborated with incredible companies. My experience as a Chicago blogger was a fabulous one and I was sad to see it go.
I went through a lot of life changes this past year, some of which I’ll share on the blog when I’m ready; most, I’ll keep to myself. But throughout my 30th year of life, I’ve learned SO much and truly found happiness with my family and loved ones that have helped me in rough times and celebrated in good times! I decided to move back home to Cleveland for the summer to stay with my family and it has been a wonderful two months.
But my time in Cleveland has [temporarily] come to an end and now, comes the big news….
I MOVED TO NEW YORK CITY!
The future is bright, ya’ll! I’m officially moving to New York next week and I couldn’t be more excited. The first question people ask it “what part of New York are you moving to?” Guys. I’m moving to Manhattan. Like, the REAL real New York City. The actual NYC you see in Sex and the City or Elf! Big buildings, crazy rent… THAT New York! I know, I can’t believe it either.
I got an AMAZING teaching job and a beautiful apartment a mere one block away from each other – how about that commute, eh? I’ll be living and working in a neighborhood called Kips Bay (see below). It’s a great area for someone new to the city since it’s in the heart of the ‘grid’ system and I should be able to find my way home from pretty much anywhere in Manhattan!
So, most importantly, what does this mean for Pepperminting??
I’ll be making some important and exciting changes to this new adventure with my blog! I’ll cover the following categories 2-3 times per week:
- Places to eat on a budget in New York City
- Restaurants with fun/unique ambiance and food throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn
- Delicious, healthy recipes you can make easily in an apartment or home
- Trying out new fitness trends in The Big Apple
- How to live a healthy lifestyle in creative ways without breaking the bank
- OOTDs/OOTNs while in New York City!
- Maintaining a stylish and cost-effective wardrobe in one of the most expensive and fashionable cities in the world
I will also include tips on my first year in Manhattan as a midwestern girl. How will I creatively stay fit, fashionable and fabulous on a budget? I already have some ideas in the works, so stay tuned!
Thank you for all of your support in the past, I can’t wait for you guys to see new content in the future! Join me on my journey to New York City this fall. See you there! 🙂
As you all know by now, Chicago has been home for some years and I consider it home. The traffic can drive me crazy and I’ve gained about 10 pounds eating way too much pizza, but it has such a special place in my heart and I love trying out unique experiences here!
One special way to see the city of Chicago through a new lens is on a Mercury Skyline Cruise right down the Chicago River to Lake Michigan. I went on this scenic boat tour and enjoyed it SO MUCH I wanted to share with you!
The detail I loved most about the Mercury Skyline Cruise was the amazing guide that shared his knowledge about the city, the skyline’s history, and really cool tidbits of information about the architecture, famous Chicago characters, and significant events from the city’s past that made it what it is today. You truly appreciate Chicago so much more after hearing about the amazing trials and tribulations that the people have gone through the past 200 years, all while enjoying breathtaking views of the skyline.
There’s a cash bar aboard, and if you take the 6:15 pm cruise like I did, you’ll get a great show of the magnificent sunset, especially throughout the summer season! I seriously forgot I was in Chicago for a minute.
April 29 – October 10, 2016
10:15 am, 12:15 pm, 2:15 pm, 4:15 pm, 6:15 pm
I love blogging about unique activities to try out, and how could I call myself a true Chicago chick if I didn’t work to try every amazing pizza place in the city?! Trying out new pizza places is tough for a few reasons. a) Although ironic, pizza can actually be pretty pricey in the city. Especially deep dish, which will run you on average 30 bucks. That’s a lot to “dish” out when there’s over 2200 pizza places in the Chicago area (yup, that’s true, I learned it on my tour!) b) Pizza can take 45 minutes to an hour to bake, so if you decide to try out a new place, it’s a pretty big time commitment. That’s where Chicago Pizza Tours comes into play.
Chicago Pizza Tours offers various tours de pizza all over Chicago as a cool daytime or nighttime 3-hour tour via pizzabus! So in the time span you would normally visit one pizza shop, you get to try 4-5 different slices, all while gaining some Chicago and pizza trivia from your knowledgable tour guide.
The tour costs $60, but again, offers a great value for the amount of pizza you get, coupled with a unique experience. You can even do a pizza and cocktails tour for $80, which sounds completely awesome. Who doesn’t love a beer with their slice?
The stops the tour makes differ depending on the time and day. During our tour, we visited: Pizano’s, Coalfire, Pequod’s, and Flo & Santos. Every piece was so uniquely delicious, I can’t pick a favorite. But I will say, Coalfire’s thin-crust high-temp cooked pizza was baked to absolute perfection. I can’t wait to go back!
Chicago Pizza Tours
27 N Upper Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606
Although I’d like to think I eat healthy 90% of the time, there’s always room for dessert, and Chicago is a fantastic city to help you satisfy your sweet tooth! This summer, I’ve chowed down on some of the most unique and delicious post-meal sweets and now I’m here to share them with you. If you’re visiting the city or live here long-term, save up your cheat calories and try out these tasty Chicago treats!
5) Amorino Flower Gelato
Chicago recently acquired two new Amorino gelato stores and their signature flower cone makes you feel so elegant… before you devour it in two bites because this stuff melts crazy fast! You can add an adorable and tasty macaron in the middle to class it up even more.
838 N State St, Chicago, IL 60610
4) Goddess & Grocer Rainbow Cake
My rainbow cake Instagram picture has been re-grammed a dozen times because it just looks so darn beautiful! This cake is truly a masterpiece, and you can grab a slice at any of their locations. Mmmm taste the rainbow.
Goddess and Grocer
1649 N. Damen Ave
Chicago, Illinois 60647
3) SteakBar De-Constructed Banana Split
Oh MAN was this sundae a joy to eat! It comes on an enormous platter: ice cream, banana slices, toppings, caramel sauce… you name it, you get it. Oh, and there’s a sparkler on top in case you already feel like this dessert isn’t a party.
1500 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60610
2) Firecakes Ice Cream Donut Sandwich (and vanilla glazed)
Ok, Firecakes Donuts gets two pictures because I couldn’t decide which I enjoyed more! The ice cream donut sandwich is literally a donut cut in half stuffed with vanilla ice cream and topped with fudge. Why haven’t we thought of this sooner?? The second place at Firecakes goes to their vanilla glazed donut. Oh my goodness is this thing delicious. Not too sweet, but perfect enough to wake you up in the morning! Firecakes Donuts
2453 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60614
1) Hugo’s Frog Bar Chocolate Mousse Pie
My favorite unique Chicago dessert I tried this summer was the chocolate mousse pie at Hugo’s Frog Bar in the Gold Coast. GOODNESS was this thing worth the double workout the next day, or what?! The piece was as big as my head, and it was so unbelievably delectable and chocolate-y.. I could have eaten the whole thin if I wasn’t there with some fabulous friend, I’m just sayin’.
Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House
024 N Rush St, Chicago, IL 60611
What unique desserts have you tried in the Windy City??
My sister Angelina is getting married in just a few short weeks, and it was my honor to help throw her a fabulous bridal shower to celebrate. (Check out her chic Chicago bachelorette party details here!) She’s getting married in Québec, and has loved all things French since she was a little girl, so a Parisian-themed wedding shower was a no brainer. I worked diligently with my mom and the to put together a beautiful French-inspired brunch party for 45 of Angelina’s closest friends and family.We celebrated the shower at Market Beer in Rocky River, Ohio. Jill, the party planning manager, was absolutely fantastic to work with. Every request I had, she found a way to make it happen, and the rustic yet chic outdoor/indoor option was perfect for a summer party!
In order to stay with the Parisian theme, we decorated the space with elegant Martha Stewart tissue paper flowers, pink and white tablecloths, polka dot balloons, and feminine tulle bows for an extra pretty touch. The Chanel flower vases I made were so pretty in the sun! Grab my DIY instructions here!I also found a few Eiffel Towers and my talented aunt painted beautiful French scenes on 4×6 cardstock, which I placed in double-sided IKEA frames. I also created an easy crepe paper curtain with kite string – it looked so beautiful and swayed in the breeze! My mom had a CD filled with instrumental French café music, so we played that over the loud speaker and it really set a great tone for the afternoon.
I knew I wanted a unique shower – not just your typical “come, eat, and watch the bride open presents”. So I designed some ‘stations’ around the perimeter of the space for guests to take part in during their time with us! One area featured French lessons with Esther, a lovely tutor I found on Wyzant. She taught guests a few common French phrases, and also shared memories from her experiences in Paris.
Another table was meant for writing down your favorite date night idea for the newlyweds on popsicle sticks, as well as writing ‘flowers of love’ on cut outs and attaching them to a beautiful shadow box frame my mom and dad made with props from Michael’s!
I purchased this pre-made PDF from Etsy filled with French-themed photobooth props, then printed them at Staples and glued skewers on the back. What a fun easy way to spice up people’s photos! And of course, there were tables set up for made-t0-order omelettes, pastries, and eggs benedict.My favorite station at the shower was the DIY Flower Crown workshop. I ordered $100 worth of baby’s breath, daisies, and carnations (I could have probably ordered half, FYI) from Costco, and provided flower wire, cutters, tape, and ribbon. Guests measured out how much wire they needed, then wrapped the flowers around as they like, to create beautiful crowns to wear during the party! The idea was a hit, and all the women in our lives walking around wearing gorgeous flower crowns really added to the French feel. 🙂 Look for a separate blog post next week!
Near the end of the party, we made an announcement that if you wanted the bride to open your gift, head over to her sitting area and she would happily open it. If you did not care either way, you could continue to enjoy the party or head out. I was amazed by the amount of people who didn’t feel the need to see her open her gift! I think it speaks volumes to our patterns of bridal showers. If you’re looking for a more contemporary option, and to simply enjoy opening your gifts in the comfort of your home without feeling rushed, this is definitely an option. That way, guests who want to be there when you open it have the option to, and those who don’t can feel a little more free to stay or go.
What a beautiful day it turned out to be!
I can’t believe summer is coming to an end, but it was a beautiful few months filled with beautiful summery dresses! For my last farewell of these hot Chicago months and transition to fall, I’m sharing two pieces I received from the fabulous online clothing boutique, VIPme (be on the lookout for another post next week!).
Although it has two layers for volume, this A-line dress is 100% cotton, so it breathes wonderfully even on a hot day. I can see myself wearing this to a day party, the park, or a bridal shower, and accessorize with a hat or cute clutch. VIPme has tons of adorable and unique dresses just like this; I love having pieces that I know not many other people own!If you like this adorable vintage dress, you can find it and hundreds more over at VIPme.com. Their website is really user-friendly, and they offer almost every style you can think of at an affordable price. They also offer free shipping promotions, so enter your email for special offers! Don’t forget to use promo code SIJessica99 for $5 off your first order of $50! Here are a few more vintage pieces that I’m looking forward to snagging in my next order.. 🙂
SISTER TIP: You can download the VIPme IOS app to bring even more brands into your pocket!
How are you styling your transition to fall??
I’m always up for trying new things, especially in my city of Chicago, and especially when it’s warm outside! Kayak Chicago let me try out their architectural kayaking tour down the Chicago River, and it was such a cool and unique experience for tourists and local Chicagoans alike.
We had a group of 8 and we met off North Avenue for easy access to the Chicago River. Our South African guide, Bruno, was fantastic! He had really interesting bits of information to share about Chicago history and architecture, and took some time to show us the best method for kayaking (and, more importantly, how to quickly get out of the way of boats). You could tell he was very passionate about the city of Chicago, which made us all excited to learn more about where we call home.
I’ve tried kayaking before, but only in short spurts. I gotta say, the 3-hour kayak roundtrip was pretty intense! Get a good night’s rest and eat a solid breakfast for this outdoorsy trip and you’ll be good to go. I recommend wearing loose athletic gear and bring plenty of water. A bathing suit isn’t necessary but make sure to bring a Ziploc bag to store your phone in case water splashes in from the paddle. I wore sandals and took them off for the trip and that worked perfectly.
Overall, Kayak Chicago, which offers day tours as well as sunset firework tours, was a fantastic experience and I would recommend it to anyone looking to do something unique and athletic in the city. The cost is around $70, but always check the website for specials. Hurry, you only have about a little more time to take advantage of this beautiful weather!
(312) 8-kayak-8 / (312) 852-9258
1220 W. LeMoyne ave Chicago, IL
I’m always up for a fantastic day trip, especially during the summer season when I’m off work. Scrolling through Facebook, I found an article that listed the most beautiful sights in each of the 50 states. Illinois’ most beautiful place was named the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette; about an hour outside the city down Lakeshore, and a mere 15 minutes from Evanston. So, I hopped in my car and went on an adventure!I am so glad I took the time to visit this architectural dream. The Baha’i faith, as I learned from the very informative Welcome Center, was founded in 19th century Persia, and believes in unifying the human race and society.This is the only temple of its kind in North America, and the beauty of the building and the grounds is absolutely breathtaking. It is a quiet, serene place to gather your thoughts, attend a service, or simply marvel at the detail needed to create the house of worship. You can go inside, but they ask not to take pictures.
At night, the temple is lit up beautifully, but during the day, the gardens were gorgeous and the windows let in the summer light. This temple is definitely worth the short drive from Chicago or the suburbs! I haven’t seen all of Illinois, but I can’t argue that this sight was one of the most beautiful I’ve seen while living here.Baha’i House of Worship
100 Linden Ave., At Sheridan Rd., Wilmette, IL
Summer is in full swing, and I love sharing my sunshine-filled OOTDs on my Instagram page! (follow me here!) Once in a while, I’ll wake up, workout, shower, and put something on that just makes me smile all day, and this is one of those outfits!
This summery pineapple romper is too cute for words. It has a back-tie detail and is loose and airy on these 95-degree Chicago days. Pineapples are all the rage lately, and anything I can get my hands on with this adorable lil crown-wearing fruit brings me joy!Unfortunately, the style I’m wearing is sold out, but you can get on the list at Lulu’s for a white version, which is just as cute, maybe even cuter!
What are you favorite summer looks?? Share them below!