Experiencing Chicago

Guest Blogger Kendra Thornton

This is part of a series of travel articles composed by myself and Kendra Thornton of Thornton Public Relations

Chi Boat TourTo me, Chicago is the best place to be. I have lived in this town my entire life, but I speak from experience. I have traveled around the world most of my life. I have visited Hong Kong, New York City, Jamaica and many other places. However, Chicago is the city that offers so much. The fact of the matter is that there are many sites to visit.

When in Chicago, one of the best sites to see is the Michigan Avenue Bridge. This bridge, which crosses over the Chicago River, gives visitors and residents a unique look at the city and various skyscrapers. Although some historic bridges are plain, the Michigan Avenue Bridge features a number of memorable sculptures that have lasted the test of time. This bridge has hosted numerous engagement and wedding photos.

Another fantastic site, which is not nearly as old as the Michigan Avenue Bridge, is Millennium Park. This site was originally a place for waste, but former mayor Richard Daley and the city council came together and created a park to be enjoyed by citizens and guests. Located in the downtown district, people can enjoy a break from busy activities. The landscaping is done perfectly, and there are many places to explore. Furthermore, there are activities and programs for people of all ages.

Finding a place to stay in Chicago is nearly as important as deciding what to do and where to go. The options for hotels are nearly limitless, and there are plenty of places around the city to stay. One could stay in downtown Chicago, and see all the lights and the action. Or, one may prefer a historic hotel, like one that Al Capone once frequented.Chicago Beach

When I travel around the United States, I like to visit diners. A favorite one in Chicago is Glenn’s Diner. This restaurant, which is off of West Montrose, has many great dishes that are served daily. One of the reasons that I love Glenn’s Diner is that is serves breakfast throughout the entire day. This enables me to come when I want to, and I do not have to worry about whether I will be able to have breakfast or not. Besides breakfast, Glenn’s Diner has some delicious seafood and food combinations that may come across as unique. Still, all of the food is delicious. In fact, Glenn’s Diner is known for serving a nice variety of cereals.

Stop by for a night or a week, and be amazed at the great opportunities and adventures that are awaiting all who visit. Do not miss out on an amazing experience.

Washington DC: Neighborhoods to Check Out Beyond the National Mall

This is part of a series of travel articles composed by myself and Kendra Thornton of Thornton Public Relations

sherinthecity059I moved to Washington D.C. seven years ago from Charleston, South Carolina, in need of a life change.  When an opportunity dropped in my lap to work for a national organization, I said yes, because after years of living in Charleston, I was ready to leave the small city for a more cosmopolitan life, and the truth is, something always fascinated me about our nation’s capital.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Charleston, it’s my hometown, but I’ve come to calling D.C. now home.   When many people think about D.C. the first things that come to mind are the museums on the National Mall, the memorials, the capital and of course, the White House. But, what makes D.C. so unique are the neighborhoods beyond the Mall within the city and outside of it.

14th Street/ U Street Corridor

In a city, where most people tend to wear formal black and gray business suits, you may be surprised that there is a hipness and coolness to our city. In my opinion, it has some of the same characteristics of New York City’s meat packing district. A mix of boutiques, restaurants, bars and art galleries, this area tends to draw more locals then tourists.    Some of my favorite places include:

  • Cork Restaurant and Wine Bar: There is something cozy about this restaurant.  Maybe it’s the brick walls combined with the low lights, but the ambiance paired with the restaurant’s exquisite wine list and menu makes it the perfect place for a girls’ night out or a fun date night!
  • Estadios:  One of two popular Spanish tapas places on the street, this is a fun place to hang out. The menu features an array of Spanish inspired dishes. My favorite dish—the grilled octopus paired with potato caper salad.
  • Pearl Dive Oyster Palace: This is another popular place for locals. You’ll find Hill staffers enjoying happy hour here. It’s got a casual vibe compared to other places in the district.
  • Barcelona Restaurant and Wine Bar: a new restaurant to enter the scene,  is another Spanish restaurant just a few blocks away from Estadios. My top favorites—the Spinach-Chickpea Cazuela and the Wild Mushroom & Leek Risotto are delicious!

DuPont Circle

DuPont Circle is another favorite neighborhood. You can spend an afternoon meandering through the neighborhood, taking in the architecture, stopping in the shops or enjoying a meal or drinks somewhere.  If you’re in the neighborhood, you may want to:

  • Spend a couple of hours at the Phillips Collection: The museum is a privately owned museum featuring a variety of art collections.  The famous Renoir painting, “Luncheon at the Boating Party,” has its own special place in the museum. The Phillips also features traveling exhibits of some of the world’s most renowned artists like Van Gogh and Degas.
  • Take a docent led tour of the Anderson House. One of the city’s most exquisite mansions, the mansion served as the winter residence of Larz Anderson, an American diplomat, and his wife, Isabel, an author and benefactress.  The home was the setting for many diplomatic affairs, performances and galas. During the docent-led tour, you will be transported back the area.
  • Enjoy drinks at Circa after a day of meandering.  Perfectly located in the heart of DuPont Circle, you can enjoy a drink and some appetizers after a day of wandering. Another great place is Kramers Books & Afterwords Café.

Old Town Alexandria

If you’re looking to spend an afternoon outside the city, a fun area to check out is Old Town Alexandria. Located off the George Washington sherinthecity110Parkway or off the Metro, Old Town Alexandra offers something for anyone in the family to enjoy.  In addition to strolling through some of the local shops, you can:

  • Enjoy ice cream on a warm summer day or a nice cup of coffee at the harbor that overlooks the Potomac River.
  • Check out the Torpedo Factory.  The building features exhibits and galleries of local artists’ work.
  • Sip some wine and enjoy some appetizers at Grape & Bean. The local wine bar also hosts some fabulous events.  They’re not your typical wine events at all!
  • Take in some music at the Piano Bar at the Morrison House especially if you’re a fan of Sinatra and Dean Martin. You’ll definitely dig this place.

Whether you live in the DC Metro area or are a tourist, try to check out places beyond the mall. DC is filled with some pretty neat neighborhoods.  They may surprise you and you’ll come to a realization that DC isn’t just a political city filled only with men and women in suits.

My Summer in DC

By: Guest Blogger Sapna Bakshi

Over the last three weeks I have been spending time with my fabulous aunt in what  I think is the most exciting city in the country, Washington DC. I had so much fun going to all the museums,trying new foods, spending time with my aunt and  my aunt’s dog, Nikki , and also being in an office environment. After this trip to  DC, I have decided to make it a tradition to come every summer.

Going to the museums in DC combined two of my favorite subjects, art and history.   The Sackler Freer Aunt and I at White HouseGallery and The Phillips Collections have  unique pieces of art that really caught my eye, being an avid painter myself. My favorites were the impressionists’ works,    there soft lines and everyday concepts give the illusion that you’re actually in the painting. Ford’s Theatre and the Museum of American History were also really interesting and lots of fun to visit. I loved seeing the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the Star Spangled Banner and also the museum underneath Ford’s Theatre.

Mac and CheeseOne of favorites parts of DC would have to be the food, there are so many different types of food and cuisines to explore. One of my favorite restaurants was Le Pain Quotidien.  I had a Tartine( open face sandwich) with prosciutto, mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes and basil oil. I really loved the combination of the prosciutto and the mozzarella ,it was so good. Another one of my favorite restaurants was Zantinya. I’m not a huge fan of brussel sprouts, but the brussel sprouts at Zantinya were incredible. My all time favorite restaurant  had to be Cheesetique, their Mac and Cheese is to die for.

Now my favorite part about coming to DC would have to be spending time with my aunt and her dog, Nikki. I had so Nikkimuch roaming around DC and Arlington with them. Coming home and seeing Nikki makes your day so much brighter and better. We have become like sisters; she is such a delight to have around and I will miss her so much. My aunt is the best; she is so much fun to hang out with. She is like my best friend, we watch movies together, make food together, play with Nikki, shop, and pretty much everything else you would do with your closest friend.

Getting to intern at my aunt’s office was such a fun experience. I have learned so much about being in a work environment and web development. At first, I was overwhelmed by all the new information, but after my first week I was very comfortable in my aunt’s office.I was editing blogs,researching articles, working with analytics and so much more. I worked on my grammar, computer skills and communication. I will definitely be taking these skills and using them in school.

In DCI feel very proud of myself after this trip, I have learned so much and done so much. I’ve experienced different cultures, different people and different places. If I had to describe this trip in one word I would say thankful. Without my family I would not have been able to have such a wonderful experience, and without my new friends I would not have been able to learn so much.

How France Reminded Me “It’s Ok to Feel Fabulous”

DSCN0537Imagine, sitting in the main square of small French village in the South of France drinking local wine, indulging in local cuisine with Edith Piaf performing in the background.

Well, that was me a couple of months of ago.Whenever I’d dreamed about my first trip to France (yes, it’s hard to believe), I always thought about eating local fare and taking in the culture while sipping a local wine. And, voila, here I was, experiencing what I’d been dreaming about for months.

Provence Couldn’t Have Come at a Better Time

My trip came at the right time in my life. It’d been a very long time since I’d done DSCN0553anything for myself-very long time.   Having just been dumped, and tired of celebrating everyone else’s major milestones while I was still single at 36, I decided to do something about it. I booked a trip to France with my favorite aunt. And, let me say I am so glad that I did because Provence welcomed me with open arms and made me feel fabulous. The timing couldn’t have been better.

How France Made Me Feel Fabulous

Eating breakfast every morning under the warm sun away from the daily grind and stress, I reconnected with myself. I felt happy and it DSCN0545wasn’t because of someone or something, it was because of me.  So, what did France teach me within 24 hours of arriving?

  • Spend an extra few minutes on yourself, you’ll feel fabulous.  Whether it’s adding a string of pearls or a scarf to add a bit of color around your neck, take an extra minute to add that special touch. It’ll make you feel wonderful.
  • Sit down and take in the scene. When traveling somewhere new, many of us want to rush to the next place on our itinerary. But,  look at the people around you, they are not running around instead they are sitting somewhere soaking in the culture. Remember, you are on vacation.
  • Take something back with you that you’ll incorporate into your life.  When I returned back to DC, I brought back not one but several things with me that I incorporate into my life now–I wake up early each morning and take about 20 minutes to enjoy it. It includes a short walk with Nikki, reading the paper and sipping a cup of coffee. It has changed my life. Sometimes it’s the little things that you do that lead you through life. Don’t you agree?

And finally, you don’t need an excuse to enjoy a glass of wine BUT sip it don’t gulp it down … just like life.

Have you been to Provence? How would you describe your experience? And what lessons did you bring back with you?

Friday Night’s Epiphany

sherinthecity110It’s been awhile since I have blogged. My plan was to blog about my fabulous trip to the South of France, but that all changed Friday night. It was beautiful in DC, and on a rare occasion, I went out. I and every other single woman their 30s, hoping to spark a conversation with an eligible bachelor. Yes, I did say ME and EVERY other single woman living in Arlington.

But, that’s not what made the night an “episode of Sex and the City (yes,I am going back to one of my favorite shows). It was what my friend Gita said and what came after. We were walking down Clarendon Boulevard surrounded by a bunch of people in their 20s. Feeling somewhat discouraged that we didn’t engage in conversation with at least one interesting person, we made our way to grab a quick bite to eat, we heard in Hindi “There is so much crime here (or something a long those lines). Passing us, were two Indian men much much shorter than us (people tend to call those of us born here ABCD. We call these guys FOBs) Gita and I looked at each other as if someone had just punched us in the stomach. “Oh my god,” Gita said, “Is that all that’s left?Is this a sign?”

I really hope that’s not all that’s left. I am trying to date. I have gone on date after date after date. My friends and family say I am too picky. But, I am not. I just want to meet a nice guy who enjoys culture,  travel and has good manners, and maybe resembles George Clooney or John Hamm (I am kidding!).

No, let’s be serious here for a second. I have a lot of single, fabulous friends. We are all  attractive, have great careers, lovely homes, and wonderful circle of friends. But, when it comes to finding Mr. Right, only a few of us have found them. Is it because our expectations are so high? Is it that we are set in our ways and may come across intimidating? Is it we are just TOO independent?

I don’t know the answer, but I do know this, being single is fine, but having someone around would be nice. Just saying!








Being Single is NOT the Same as Being Alone

“I’m an introvert… I love being by myself, love being outdoors, love taking a long walk with my dogs and looking at the trees, flowers, the sky.” — Audrey Hepburn

sherrie_nikki061I am 36 and I am single, but I am definitely not alone. I have an amazing family,  a wonderful group of friends and Nikki, my eight year old Finnish Spitz mix.

When I leave for work each morning,  she says goodbye to me at the door and when I return home she is there to greet me.

Nikki has been with me for nearly a decade. The minute our eyes met eight years ago in a local animal shelter, I knew it was love! As Anne of Green Gables would say, we were two “kindred spirits.”

When Nikki had surgery a few years ago to remove a tumor on her leg, I was scared. The word “cancer”  rocked our world. But, I remember, Nikki looking at me and in her own way, told me she was going to be ok, and she was right.nikki017

Those who have dogs understand where I am coming from. Nikki has been with me through some of the most difficult times of my life and she has also been there to celebrate the best times. Whether it’s spending a weekend afternoon the dog park, lounging at home or enjoying a road trip together, every moment we spent is precious.

I may be single, but like I said, I am definitely not alone.

Am I the Indian Carrie Bradshaw?

“Maybe some women aren’t meant to be tamed. Maybe they just need to run free until they find someone just as wild to run with them. -Carrie Bradshaw”

sherinthecity099I know it sounds funny, but sometimes I wonder, “Am I the Indian Carrie Bradshaw?” A few weeks ago, I posted it on Facebook and the responses were hysterical.

The truth is, I think many of us relate to her or one of the characters from Sex and the City. I remember watching the show when it first came out more than a decade ago ( has it been that long)? I was in my 20s and I believed Carrie and I so related. I whined about my daily dilemmas,  yearned for the attention from my then “love of my life.” and yes, drank cosmopolitans because it was “trendy.”

But, let’s be honest, I relate more to Carrie Bradshaw now then I ever did in my 20s.

  • I’ve got the best girlfriends in the world. I am not bragging–I seriously do. A woman cannot go through life without her friends. I sure can’t live without mine!
  • I still have my dating dilemmas. But, I have a group of girlfriends who make me laugh about them, vent to, etc. I mean seriously, the last guy I went out with may not have ditched me on a “post it,” but did on a text. And, guess what, my girlfriends made me laugh about it instead of  sulk!
  • I moved away from cosmopolitans and moved on to scotch and on occasion dirty martinis. Let’s not forget a good glass of Pinot Noir either. Like Carrie, my style, my thinking, my philosophy is changing with age.
  • I don’t mind being single anymore. I finally came to a point that I am “ok” with being single.  Yes, it will be nice to find a companion, but if I go on one more BAD date, I think I will just die (not literally, but can’t do it anymore). So, when it is meant happen, it will.  In the meantime, I will embrace my independence.sherinthecity009
  • I love being a city girl.I love going to fabulous parties, attending the performing arts, meandering though the city, hanging out with friends and brunch (it’s one of my favorite meals).

We all are our own unique individuals, but sometimes, we relate to the characters that we come across through books, movies and TV.

Who do you relate to?