"Back From Vacation"

Hi, everyone. Remember that time I disappeared for a good three and a half months with no warning, and no out-of-office letting you know when I'd be back (gasp!)?

Yeah, I'm sorry about that. The summer filled up fast, and sadly blogging fell by the wayside.

  • The exciting news is I've spent lots of time thinking about how to make Thirty Somewhere bigger and better, and I have new tricks up my sleeve for the coming months.
  • The bad news is I missed spending the past few months with you, hearing what you've been up to and sharing stories of my own. Let's try to make up for that, right now. What's new? Here's my rundown:

We celebrated America, in one of America's greatest cities, with cocktails, one of America's greatest pastimes. 

Spending Chicago's sticky-sweet Fourth of July evening at  Drumbar , next to the all-American, all-lit-up red, white and blue  John Hancock Center . 

Spending Chicago's sticky-sweet Fourth of July evening at Drumbar, next to the all-American, all-lit-up red, white and blue John Hancock Center

I certainly miss this (slight) tan.

I certainly miss this (slight) tan.

We wet our German whistles celebrating Oktoberfest... with lots and lots of Chicago-brewed beer.

Spending my birthday weekend enjoying an epic  boy band medley at  Revolution Brewery's Oktoberfest . 

Spending my birthday weekend enjoying an epic  boy band medley at Revolution Brewery's Oktoberfest

Seriously, check out  Revolution's Oktoberfest  if you happen to be in Chicago that weekend next year. We had eight tickets to refill those giant beer glasses over just a three-hour period, plus food, plus fantastic entertainment -- both musically, and from our fellow exubert attendees. It's a good time.

Seriously, check out Revolution's Oktoberfest if you happen to be in Chicago that weekend next year. We had eight tickets to refill those giant beer glasses over just a three-hour period, plus food, plus fantastic entertainment -- both musically, and from our fellow exubert attendees. It's a good time.

We commemorated our #BasicBia love for Starbucks, pre-#RedCup "fiasco," with pretty on-point Halloween costumes.

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A former colleague makes the most fantastic cookies. Every time they're around, the resounding review is, "OMG. This cookie doesn't just look good; it tastes AMAZING." I can vouch, after eating at least a third myself. Check out her creations, and put in your orders, at  For Sweet's Sake .

A former colleague makes the most fantastic cookies. Every time they're around, the resounding review is, "OMG. This cookie doesn't just look good; it tastes AMAZING." I can vouch, after eating at least a third myself. Check out her creations, and put in your orders, at For Sweet's Sake.

And now that we look back, if it seems like we've been nesting here in Chicago, you're on the right track...

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We're nesting in the NEW HOME we finally locked down last August!

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A GIGANTIC thanks to the BEST REALTOR in Chicago,  Gwen Stark ! Not only did she help us find our dream home, but she kicked off our closing celebration with the cutest champagne toast possible. FIND HER if you're looking to buy!

A GIGANTIC thanks to the BEST REALTOR in Chicago, Gwen Stark! Not only did she help us find our dream home, but she kicked off our closing celebration with the cutest champagne toast possible. FIND HER if you're looking to buy!

We have a ways to go, but we're slowly making this place our home. I'm excited to finally have wall space for all the vacation art we've bought over the years!

We have a ways to go, but we're slowly making this place our home. I'm excited to finally have wall space for all the vacation art we've bought over the years!

Honestly, for those of you who were part of our condo purchase roller coaster, you probably understand why we didn't have much time to travel, or to blog -- or to do anything really, beyond pushing to seal that deal.

We're so glad we're finally settled in our very first home, picking out paint colors, scoping out new furniture and hosting our best friends for any excuse to throw a party. While we've been checking out West Elm more than the West Indies lately, we're finally ready to scratch that insatiable travel itch again. 

And that means you can expect a lot more fun and exciting updates on Thirty Somewhere! Plus, I'll be pulling in travel tips from fellow wanderlusters who've logged a lot more miles than me. Get ready for lots of fun ahead. Buckle up for the ride!

From the Archives: Hawaii, Circa 2002

Later this month, we're heading to Hawaii for a friend's wedding. We're going to split our time between Oahu and Maui -- very similar to a childhood trip I took years ago.

Chris has been to Oahu, but never to Maui -- and I can't wait for him to see it! It's certainly more laid-back than Honolulu, although there's still a lively buzz and plenty to explore.

Here are some of the things I'm most excited for this time around! Any must-see's I should add to the list? Please share!

Flowers, everywhere.

From the moment you land, you can just tell it's a lush tropical paradise. I've never seen such vibrant flowers and greenery. As Chicago anxiously awaits our springtime blooms, I can't wait to be surrounded by palm trees and exotic plants.

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Beachfront living.

There's nothing better than having the ocean at your doorstep, and Maui's string of resorts take it to the next level. While we'll probably spend most of our time exploring the island, I'm already looking forward to kicking back with an evening mai tai and watching the sun set over Kaanapali Beach.

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Diverse natural scenery.

Waterfalls, volcanoes, mountains -- Hawaii's got it all, and plenty more. I'm looking forward to revisiting Haleakala, and the Iao Needle, once we get to Maui. There are also so many hidden waterfalls and outposts on the Road to Hana. So much to explore!

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The Aloha spirit.

From luaus to Kukui beads, the best part of a Hawaiian getaway is the relaxation it affords. This time around, I want to soak up as much of the local culture as possible -- and I have a feeling we'll never want to leave.

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NOLA, Here We Come!

In just a few weeks, Chris and I will be a Sazerac deep into our first visit to New Orleans. The southern city has been on my bucket list for quite some time -- and due to rave reviews from our jazz-loving friends, I'm more excited to see it than ever. 

Source:  Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

Our plan is to eat and drink our way through NOLA's celebrated restaurant culture, and then spend our evenings hunting down the best live music the city has to offer.

Excited to check out the newly renovated  Brennan's , where " breakfast revelry is taken as seriously as a decadent dinner."  Source:  Facebook

Excited to check out the newly renovated Brennan's, where "breakfast revelry is taken as seriously as a decadent dinner." Source: Facebook

We have some ideas on what to do, but (against my nature) I'm planning to let things come as they may in the Big Easy -- sourcing out tips from locals we meet, along with letting one of Chris's childhood friends turned New Orleans restaurateur play concierge. 

That said, we all know I'll break down and pull together some plans between now and the trip -- so do you have any insider tips to share? Must-see neighborhoods, unique boutiques, archetypal streets to explore? I'd love to spend a day following your off-the-beaten-path recommendations so I can report back once we return.