Chicago Day 1 // Navy Pier, Hancock Center + Deep Dish Pizza

July 18, 2017

This past weekend I spent a few days in Chicago with one of my best friends, Sabrina. Since I'd never been to Chicago I jumped at the chance to check out the city and see all that it had to offer. For months, Sabrina and I talked over sights to see, restaurants to dine at, donuts to Instagram, and shows we considered attending. (Hamilton is in Chicago now!)

Once arriving in Chicago, our first destination was a lunch place we stumbled upon while looking for something to eat. Fat Baby Tacos was super fun and vibrant, has a hilarious name, and likely the best burrito I've ever had in my life. I didn't get a photo of it in all of it's glory, but you will be able to see FBT in the video I plan to make of my travels... as soon as I figure out how to post it :P

After lunch we checked out Glazed and Infused, a donut shop I'd seen so many great reviews for. My dream was to get the matcha-filled donut, but unfortunately they'd moved onto a new seasonal menu. I settled (happily) for this rainbow and metallic sprinkled donut. How pretty is that thing?!

Once grabbing donuts, we headed to the Navy Pier and took in the big blue sky and gorgeous views of Lake Michigan, which for some reason was a lot more expansive than I expected. Lake? More like an ocean! It was a little warm, so after making our way around the pier we grabbed a trolley and the L train back to the hotel to change for dinner.

Before deciding where to grab dinner, we decided to head up to the top of the Hancock Center for drinks and a view of the sunset. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip, as we had a 360 view of the city, but it wasn't as far above the other buildings as the Willis Tower, so it made all the details of the architecture stand out even more.

For dinner we stopped by Giordano's, which had a really fun and family-friendly atmosphere. I was really impressed that they agreed me to make me a mini deep dish pizza without cheese! Though in a perfect world I would've enjoyed Chicago deep dish, dairy and all, but for missing one of the main ingredients, it was still pretty good!

We stayed at Hotel Allegro, which is a cute boutique-style hotel with total art deco / gatsby vibes. I was so in love with every bit of decor, and their carpet had little stars on it that almost exactly matches the tattoo on my foot. I felt like the hotel was designed specifically to suit my tastes, and the beds were so comfy. Check out that wallpaper!!

Overall I had a fantastic time in Chicago and I would love to go back for a longer visit. Watch this space for updates on Day 2 and 3, and you can check out my Instagram for more on-the-go shots of my travels!
Have you been to Chicago?
What did you do there?

The Most Instagrammable Places to Visit in Washington DC (That Aren't the Monuments)

July 02, 2017

Living in the DC area has really helped me step up my Instagram game. There's so much to explore in the city, and there are gorgeous things all around just waiting to be photographed. DC has so much history, art, and culture to offer, but if you look at the DC geotag on the 'gram, you'll likely see the same five photos over and over again. The Washington Monument, The Capitol Building, The Lincoln Memorial, Georgetown Cupcakes, and The White House.

Here are a few spots that even DC locals can't help but Insta:
The Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is one of my absolute favorite places in the city. Even though it's a tourist destination, it never gets old for me. Sign up for a tour or just wander around on your own, it's definitely worth the trip.
A post shared by jess buckley (@jssbckly) on

Any one of Shaw's pop-up theme bars.
What started out a few years back as a Christmas theme at Mockingbird Hill has quickly started a city-wide trend. This year there was a cherry blossom and Mario themed bar, last Christmas was Stranger Things themed, and I assume there are even more pop-up bars to come!
A post shared by jess buckley (@jssbckly) on
A post shared by jess buckley (@jssbckly) on

The Hense Installation (now Blind Whino)
I visited the Hense mural a few years back and it has since been turned into a hub for the arts in Southwest DC. You can even get married there!

The Renwick Gallery
I visited the Renwick Gallery for the first time last year and still remain in awe of the installations that span from ceiling to floor. This smaller branch of the Smithsonian Institute is a hub for locals and artsy-inclined tourists alike, and is a much more interactive experience than the walls gilded frames of more traditional art museums.
A post shared by jess buckley (@jssbckly) on

Union Market and Lab 1270 
Union Market's heart mural was an instagram MUST when Michelle Obama showed up to paint a few of the hearts and has remained a hit ever since. Union Market in general is a super hip place to visit, with tons of DC's best eateries owning stalls to sell their food. Lab 1270 is right across the street and is like West-Elm meets local artist haven. 
A post shared by jess buckley (@jssbckly) on
A post shared by jess buckley (@jssbckly) on

The Hirschhorn Museum 
The Hirschhorn always has something new, so it's always a great place to visit when you've got a free day. Recently I visited the Yayoi Kusama exhibit and it was easily one of coolest things I've ever seen. Sadly it's moved on to the next city in the tour, but the Hirschhorn will always be filled with the some of the coolest art in the DC area.
A post shared by jess buckley (@jssbckly) on

Exploring in Georgetown 
Georgetown is great for photos! There are tons of cute rowhouses in pastel colors, bakeries and coffeeshops galore, tons of shopping, and so many great restaraunts to try out. Whether you stick to  basics like strolling down M street or venturing out past the waterfront, Georgetown and DC in general are awesome for instagrammable food and drink! You can't really go wrong anywhere you end up.
A post shared by jess buckley (@jssbckly) on

and last but not least, 
The Cherry Blossoms
You can't have spring in DC without pink blossoms absoutely everywhere. The Tidal Basin is the most popular place to visit, but there are cherry trees planted throughout the city. Come late March, early April the blossoms come out in full force, and local businesses put out fun products to celebrate. Cupcakes, lattes, donuts, cocktails! You can't escape them, but why would you want to?
A post shared by jess buckley (@jssbckly) on

What would you instagram in Washington DC?

8 Things I Got When I Gave Up Dairy

July 01, 2017

I am lactose intolerant. I wasn't always that way, but when my doctor told me I should reduce my dairy intake for the sake of my endocrine health, I cut out milk and all its creamy counterparts cold turkey. I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) in early 2015 and due to that, I was to lessen my exposure to processed foods, refuse meat with additives or antibiotics, and cut out soy and dairy wherever possible in order to aid in the balancing of my hormones. My PCOS journey has been a relatively gentle one compared to many women with the same diagnosis, but hearing stories from bloggers and YouTubers with PCOS has been a huge help when it comes to managing symptoms and feeling like there's a system of support out there.

As for going dairy-free, I've managed to live my life relatively unscathed when it comes to avoiding the stuff. Yes grilled cheeses, ice cream, mozzarella sticks, certain soups, most pasta dishes, and a ton of packaged snack favorites go out the window when you give up the ol' cow juice, but none of those things are particularly amazing for one's health (or waistline) anyway. That being said I've found some pretty good cheese alternatives out there, but I use them in extreme moderation given they hardly ever come from nature and wouldn't exactly help my (PCOS) cause anyway.

Being almost three years dairy-free, I've learned a lot. I've had some interesting experiences for sure. Listed below are some of those things.

8 things I got when I gave up dairy:

1. I got more energy.
When I cut out dairy, my energy levels were the first big change I noticed. I suddenly felt like I could take on the world. I was nowhere near as sluggish as I used to be when I finished heavy, dairy-laden meals, and I felt like my food actually energized me instead of making me feel like it was time for a nap. I couldn't deny the connection of my newfound energy with the absence of dairy. 

2. I got clear skin.
I noticed clearer, more radiant skin within my first few weeks of switching to a dairy-free lifestyle, and in the almost three years since then, I've only had a small handful of breakouts, all of which have been very minor.

3. I got lots of questions.
To avoid telling people a long, drawn out story about hormones and PCOS, I simply tell them I'm lactose intolerant, which since cutting out dairy has (unfortunately) become true, but since I don't eat the stuff, my life isn't usually interrupted by being LI. When I meet someone new, my sensitivity to dairy usually comes up within the first few times I share a meal with them (it's not something I lead with, but maybe "Hi, I'm Jess and I can't digest lactose!" would be a good introductory statement from now on lol) This news, a lot of times, comes with a barrage of questions from cheese-lovers. 

Here are a few of the most popular ones:
"So you can't have cheesefries? What about pizza?"
"What happens if you eat it?"
"So if you ate ice cream you would sh*t yourself?"
"I would die without cheese. How do you do it?"
"Come on! Try this! Not even one bite?"
and so on.

4. I got more creative.
Dairy-free cooking has been a rocky road for me. Some things really work well and others fall flat on their face. I've perfected an awesome coconut chicken curry, garlic clam pasta with a faux-cream sauce, and possibly my favorite, dairy-free s'mores pie. I've experimented with new ingredients like nutritional yeast, boiled cashews, tahini, and quite a few different vegan cheeses. It's been really fun, and a lot of the times I make things one would never guess lack lactose.

5. I got less cravings.
While sometimes I do miss a good plate of nachos, for the most part I've gotten over my dairy cravings. The idea of drinking a glass of milk grosses me out, the stretch in cheese seems unnatural to me, and watching people get huge dollops of sour cream at chipotle makes me gag a little. I assume this aversion comes from going so long without the stuff, but I don't mind. Now I mostly crave things like chips and salsa, asian cuisine (which is almost always dairy-free!) and veggies with hummus. My one big remaining craving is biscuits and gravy, but being a southern girl I doubt I'll ever shake that one.

6. I got myself in trouble.
One thing to note about reducing dairy intake is that you could very well become lactose sensitive if you take the plunge. Once it's out of your system, I imagine one would have to slowly ease themselves back into eating dairy-rich foods again. I learned this the hard way when my friend and I were presented with a gift card to Coldstone Creamery. Given that Coldstone is probably one of the richest ice cream that exists to boot, I paid dearly for that free scoop of ice cream with a full day of intense stomach cramps and vomiting. Nothing free is worth getting sick over, even if it is mint chocolate chip.

7. I got pizza all to myself.
One cool perk of not eating cheese is that you rarely have to share your food. It may sound silly, but ordering pizza is still one of my favorite treats, and I could argue that it's even better without cheese. You get all the toppings you want, it's usually less greasy overall, and unless you can finish a whole pizza yourself, there's always leftovers!

8. I got educated.
Did you know that humans are the only animals on earth that drink another animal's milk? Pretty creepy right? I learned so much when I started doing my research on the dairy industry and milk's influence on our health. Not only are dairy farms horrible for the environment, reducing dairy is a great way to improve respiratory health (especially if you have asthma) and there are a ton of other health issues that can help be prevented with a decrease in dairy consumption. Here are some dairy-free resources so you can do some research too! Plant Powered Kitchen, Draxe, Go Dairy Free.

Have you considered going dairy-free?
What would be / was the hardest thing for you to give up?

Seven Things

June 01, 2017

1. Lobster Eggs Benedict is a thing, and the person who came up with it deserves a prize. How did I never think of that before?!

2. Kitty Cotten's blog and youtube channel is something I've been admiring lately. I really enjoy her laid back, comfy yet conscious style.

3. I've wanted a gingham dress for the longest time and I may just have to get this one from Macy's. Such a cute silhouette.

4. The hype surrounding minimalism is still going strong. Here are 101 items you should get rid of right now.

5. This Blood-Orange Elderflower Gin cocktail is so pretty, and looks like the perfect happy hour treat!

6. I've recently discovered I may just be an empath. Sounds crazy, but those "symptoms" are real!

7. My bestie Sabrina and I are planning a trip to chicago in July. Here are some places you may see pop up on the 'gram.

What's on your radar lately?
users online
© writing in red lipstick.