I can honestly say that today is the first day that I have felt as if I am returning to ‘normal’…whatever that may be?!! A combination of jet-lag & medication has meant that the last six days have passed in a haze…with my eyelids drooping as if my lashes were coated with a lead based mascara!
Medication? Let me explain!! I have something of a reputation for returning from my holidays with souvenirs in the form of injury or ailment. So much so that Karen had built a contingency plan into our Chicago itinerary, just in case I needed hospitalisation at any time! I felt quite confident that I was going to be OK this time, as Karen herself has been suffering with sciatica & was travelling with a veritable plethora of pain relief & muscle relaxants, so she was the one to be concerned for!
Well, I was OK until day three, when I developed a pain in the left side of my chest & shoulder, along with a soreness in my upper right gum!! So as well as Karen’s yelps & squeals of pain, Hilary had my ‘ouch’s’ to contend with too!! But neither of us allowed our infirmities to interfere with our trip!!
On our return I was lucky enough to get both a Doctor & a Dentist appointment the very next day & was diagnosed with inflammation of the cartilage on the left side of my ribcage & a mouth abscess!! £30 in prescription charges later, I was equipped with anti-inflammatory pills, extra strength Ibuprofen gel, antibiotic pills & a mouthwash to use over the next two weeks!! I had feared the chest/shoulder pain was the start of another ‘frozen’ shoulder, so am quite relieved it’s probably just a result of all that heavy luggage!!!
Anyhow…I can now begin the story of our Chicago trip!
We met up at Karen’s house at 5.30am on the Monday & her Hubby, Chris, drove us to Heathrow…very quickly I might add!! We were gutted to discover that no photography is allowed in Heathrow, so we were unable to document the very start of our trip!
I’m not a good flier, but have to say that the 7 hour+ flight was quite enjoyable…until we came in to land! We made our descent & could see the ground looming…I had braced myself for the wheels touching down…when all of a sudden we were up & airborne again! Needless to say we were all more than a little concerned!We circled O’Hare airport a couple of times, with only a brief “there’s nothing to worry about” message from the Head Stewardess & finally came in to land on another runway. There was a palpable sense of relief throughout the whole plane…Once we’d disembarked & collected our luggage, had our finger & thumb prints scanned, photo’s taken & passports checked (now that’s what you call security!) we set off into the warm, sunny Chicago afternoon to pick up our hire car!
I’m not much of a one for cars, but all I can say is it was very comfortable & had enough room for all our luggage! Karen was the designated driver, Hilary proved herself a more than capable navigator & GPS operator
& I assumed the role of back seat driver! Well…needs must!!
Our first port of call was Hobby Lobby, which was sort of on the way to where we were to stay, in Skokie. This store reminded me very much of T.K.Maxx with an extended craft section! We each picked up a few bits & bobs to take advantage of the coupon offers we’d printed off on-line before travelling.
Then it was on to offload our luggage & freshen up…we were presented on arrival with warm chocolate chip cookies….it nearly reduced me to tears! What a lovely thought & never has a cookie tasted so delicious!!! After the quickest change in memory…well, for me anyway…we headed off to ‘L.Woods’ restaurant, where we had a reservation for 7pm.
We were met by the lovely Patti…a friend of Karen & Chris, who looked so radiant she just made us look even more tired & travel weary! We enjoyed a delicious dinner of Chicken & Ribs, followed by coffee & chat until almost midnight…or 6am UK time!!
There was a quick photo call before we took our leave & bleary eyed, made our way ‘home’….
….after being awake & on the move for 27 hours, never has a bed looked so inviting!
Despite being so tired, we were all awake bright & early on Tuesday morning, to pull back the curtains & see…RAIN!! Ah well, we had come prepared with Pac-a-Macs & sensible shoes…well we are British! We set off to ‘Panera’ for breakfast.
I have listened to Karen has talking about this bakery/restaurant for so long, extolling the virtues of it’s various pastries & breads, that it had a lot to live up to….& boy! It did not disappoint!!The smell of warm bread, coffee & cinnamon hit us as soon as we were through the door…YUM! The hard part was choosing!
I finally decided on a cup of fresh strawberries, chopped into natural yoghurt & topped with honey & pecan granola…with a coffee & a ‘Bear Claw’..a sort of Danish pastry!! The Strawberry/granola pot was to become my daily standard…but I worked my way through the pastry/bun menu for the rest of the week!
All fuelled up for the day ahead, we set off into the not inconsequential rainfall, & with GPS programmed, Karen fearlessly took to the ‘wrong’ side of the road & Chicago traffic as if born to it! Our first stop was to ‘Jo-Anns’, quickly followed by ‘Archivers’. All I can say is WOW!! What a place! We spent a very pleasant time Oooohing & Aaaahing & generally hyperventilating over the vast selection of scrapping goodness on display! Our baskets soon filled & after parting company with a good slice of our spending money, we booked ourselves onto the Saturday Night ‘Scrap Mania’.
We had a lunch date with another friend of Karen’s…& we met Bernie at the California Pizza Kitchen. I opted for the ‘half size’ Chinese Chicken salad which was huge!! Heaven only knows how big the full size portion would have been! We had decided that we would eat either lunch OR dinner on any given day & this day was lunch! Mainly because we were booked onto a class that evening, down town at ‘Windy City Scrap bookers’.
And again…WOW!!! Another beautifully laid out, stocked to the hilt, scrapbook store!!
We had arrived early, thinking to spend a little time browsing before the class began.
We had been there a few minutes when the lovely Al told us that the class had been cancelled….BUT…to turn this ‘into a positive’…she would offer us 25% discount on our total spend, along with 40% off CI & CC products, as well as Buy One Get One Half Price on ALL Thickers!!!
So, I set to, filling my basket! We took our time, carefully going over every inch of the rest of the store…stopping for a drink & a snack…pointing things out to each other in case they’d been missed!
Finally we settled up with the lovely Al, another chunk of our budget spoken for, but I have to say, I cannot begin to work out how much we’d saved! Even though the GB£ isn’t as strong as it has been, scrap supplies are definitely cheaper in the US… & with all those discounts???!!!
Then Karen once again drove us ably ‘home’ through the night-time traffic from ‘down town’ to Skokie & we retired to our beds happily exhausted!!
I’ll leave it there for now…if you’ve made it this far, thanks for being interested!! I’m hoping to make the rounds of my fave blogs to catch up with you all soon…now that I’m feeling able to resume some kind of routine!!
I hope you’re all enjoying a great weekend!
Hugs & Blessings x