Every month my husband and I like to have what we call 'An Adventure'. It's kinda like a date night, but ours is only once a month, and includes some type of travel whether it is a day trip or a weekend. For the month of February we hiked in the snow and ice in Perrot State Park
. Hiking in the winter was a brand new experience for us and we enjoyed it very much. For the month of March, we knew we were going to the Chicago area to visit our daughter and see one of her performances, so we decided to make that this month's adventure. I had so many activities planned: a visit to the zoo, perhaps Navy Pier, shopping, and most importantly, taking lots and lots of fashion photos with all the great scenery Wheaton has to offer. I planned my outfits for two days. I knew it was going to be cold, even possibly some snow, but by now I had already grown accustomed to warmer spring temperatures, and my mind couldn't comprehend that 30 and 40 degrees was winter coat weather. So even though I left my shorts and sundresses at home, I still packed peek-a-boo sandals and spring coats when what I really needed was snow boots and a parka! I spent the majority of the four days FREEZING and I took absolutely no fashion photos whatsoever, because the only time I stepped outside was to walk as quickly as possible from my car to my destination. And I not only did not take fashion photos, but we also didn't do much of anything, because no one wanted to go outside unless absolutely necessary.
Our drive down to Chicago was actually quite pleasurable because the temperatures were still mild. We left at 8:00 a.m. but didn't get there till almost 4:00 p.m. because we took our time. We stopped in Madison to do some shopping, then we enjoyed a delicious burger and fries at Fuddruckers in Janesville. We love that restaurant, but we don't have any in our area, so when we see one on our travels, we like to stop and eat there. By now Ashley was texting me wondering if we were ever going to arrive, so with only one more quick stop at Hobby Lobby (we don't have those in my town either), we finally made it to Wheaton. We had some nice conversation with dinner, and then we went to see the new movie 'Insurgent'. I was very disappointed in it. I thought the movie 'Divergent' was so good, and 'Insurgent' paled in comparison. But then Ashley said that's because it's a movie based on a series of books and it's the middle of the series with no beginning or end. So I will have to wait until movie #3 to be excited again.
The next day was Sunday, the day of Ashley's performance, so we really didn't have anything else planned. We went to church in the morning, but we walked there. It's only a few blocks away, but I was absolutely freezing because I only had a trench coat and peek-a-boo sandals. When we walked into the church I felt a rush of warm air and I breathed a sigh relief. HEAT, oh, that feels so good. We sat down, and I was nice and warm, so I took off my coat. A few minutes later I felt a cold breeze. Odd, I was so toasty warm just a few minutes ago. But it continued, and it got worse. I put my jacket back on. Still cold. I then looked above me. There are no fans or vents that I can see. I look around me. No one else seems bothered by the cold breeze. I then leaned over and asked my husband 'Do you feel an icy cold breeze or is it just me?'. He said he felt it too. Then it dawned on me. They turned the air conditioner on! NO!!!!!!!!!!!! I was so cold I wanted to get up and leave. But I couldn't. We were in the middle section of the pew and I didn't want to disturb anyone getting out. But how much longer could I take this? My teeth were chattering, I was shivering. I couldn't concentrate for the life of me on whatever the preacher was saying because all I wanted was to sit in front of a toasty fire with a blankie and a cup of hot coffee. So I endured, and I suffered, all the way to the end. As soon as it was over, I ran out of there as fast as the little old people in front of me would move, and headed straight for the coffee pot. Ah, a hot beverage, warming both my hands and my soul! I savored every sip until my husband announced he wanted to start walking back. I said 'But I'm not done with my coffee!' He said 'Take it with you'. So we began our trek back in the arctic wilderness of the town of Wheaton, but we had to walk really slow or my coffee spilled. My son-in-law Jason offered me one of his gloves so that my hand wouldn't freeze as I held my coffee and I could put my other hand in my pocket. But I was shivering so much that the coffee spilled all over the glove, and I probably lost half of it on the sidewalk. UGH! But we finally made it back to Jason's and Ashley's apartment alive, so there was no need to send out the search party looking for my frozen body. Once there we had a nice lunch, and headed for Ashley's concert.
For those of you who may not know me well or are a new follower, my daughter Ashley is a very gifted singer who has a Master's Degree in Voice. Although she sings many different types of music, she was trained as a classical singer. She won a young artist's competition several months ago, and in addition to a monetary award she was the featured soloist in a concert. If you'd like to hear her sing, she has an aria on YouTube HERE.
She also has a Facebook page HERE
where she will posting more songs and where she will be appearing next.
The concert was wonderful, as always, and we were able to snap some photos afterwards but because of the dim lighting, they didn't turn out too well. This is me and my gorgeous, talented daughter.
Ashley with her husband and our beloved son-in-law, Jason.
We went straight back to Ashley's and Jason's apartment afterwards and had dinner and watched the Christian movie 'God's Not Dead' on DVD. And that was the end of Day Two.
The next morning, we woke up to a foot of snow on the ground. Gag! Puke! Oh, no! We had planned an entire day of shopping and hoped to take some really cool fashion photos. Now we wondered if it was even safe to go out since it was a slushy mix of snow, ice, and rain. But I had a dream. And that was to visit the brick and mortar store of ZARA! I've seen their clothes on-line for years, but I really, really wanted to see their clothes in person. They don't have any stores anywhere near where I live. Now was my only opportunity! So I asked Ashley if she felt comfortable driving because I would feel really bad if we got in a car accident and ruined her car. She assured me she drives in all types of weather and felt confident enough to drive in this slushy mess, so we did. After spending fifteen minutes defrosting, and scraping snow and ice off the car, we finally were able to leave the driveway. The roads ended up being just fine, everything was melted by now. We stopped at Hobby Lobby first so I could get some material to finish a quilt I've been working on all winter. I was ready to leave after an hour, but Ashley was enthralled by the massive quantities of home decor in the place and getting her to leave was no easy task. I kept repeating, 'But I HAVE TO get to ZARA!' over and over again. Several hours and only $50.00 poorer later (from both of us), we finally left.
The above picture is the parking lot of Hobby Lobby. So sad. I really thought we were done seeing this stuff for another year. Mother Nature fooled me again.
The nearest Zara was located in an outdoor mall. Outdoors. Snow, cold, yeah, that sounds like a great idea. Although I wore the warmest clothes and shoes I had, I still was not dressed properly for the weather. I was worried that my cute black suede booties were going to get ruined by all the snow and slush, and my little spring blush jacket did nothing to keep me warm. And to make it worse, the mall was HUGE and so confusing. It wasn't a strip mall. It had four anchor stores and was surrounded by above ground parking structures, so it was difficult to figure out which parking structure to park in that was near the store you wanted to visit. You couldn't see the stores from the outside. Once you park your car, you cross a bridge which leads you into an outdoor mall. It's so weird, I can't even explain it. I'm sure it's a beautiful, wonderful place to shop during the warmer months, but it's a very miserable place to shop in colder months. Because it is so huge, you have to walk outside quite a ways to get to a specific store. Either that, or keep ducking in and out of stores to warm up. The first store we walked into to warm up was New York & Co. And we ended up staying there for hours. Ashley found a clearance rack and ended up taking half of it with her to the fitting room to try on. Although I found lots of interesting things, I didn't want to buy anything until I visited Zara, but I couldn't figure out for the life of me where it was. The mall map made absolutely no sense to either of us and I even asked several different store associates and they had no idea where it was either. So I decided to leave Ashley at New York & Co and I walked over to Nordstrom's to use the bathroom. Ah, another great store we don't have in my neck of the woods. But, there was no time to look as I had to find Zara first. On the way back to New York & Co I saw an H & M: yet another store we don't have in Wisconsin. I ducked in really quick to check it out but didn't see anything I was interested in. Then I saw an Ann Taylor and a Loft (two more stores I don't have in Wisconsin), but there was no time to even check those out because I had to check on Ashley back in New York & Co. She WAS STILL IN THE DRESSING ROOM! OK, now I'm getting irritated. I not only have not found the Zara store, and I'm freezing, but now I'm getting hungry and head achy as well because it's way past lunch time. I pull up google maps on my IPhone as Ashley is STILL in the dressing room, and I google walking directions to Zara. It's a 12 minute walk away! A 12 MINUTE WALK IN THE FREEZING COLD! That fact alone shows you how HUGE this mall is. But, I see an Annie's Pretzel Shop on my google map that I didn't see on my previous solo walk. It's only a 3 minute walk away! FOOD! I leave Ashley in the dressing room again, and begin my hike for nourishment. How can there possibly be a pretzel shop in an outdoor mall I wonder. Doesn't the food and employees get cold? When I find the shop, I find my answer. The shop is enclosed, but you can't eat inside. You walk in just to order and pick up your food, and then, you guessed it, back outside to eat it in frigid temperatures. Oh well, at least I am warm for three minutes. I have no idea what the pretzel tasted like, I think I inhaled it. I was just trying to get back to New York & Co before me or my pretzel froze, where I found Ashley, STILL in the dressing room. By now, my irritation was turning into total frustration. The day was almost over, we had to be back at the apartment to meet the boys for dinner in just a couple of hours and I still haven't been to Zara. I told her, I am not leaving Chicago until I get to see a Zara store so unless you want me living with you and sleeping on your sofa every night, you better make a decision of what you want to buy right now. I helped her decide on a pretty gold skirt and a unique green sleeveless top, and finally, we left New York & Co. We decided to just walk back to our car and drive over to the other side of the mall and park at the Macy's anchor store rather than walk 12 minutes in the frigid cold. When I stepped outside the car, which was surrounded by huge puddles of melted water and slush, my pretty suede ankle booties got soaked. Oh, what will these shoes look like when this day is over I wonder. I sure wish I had my tall winter boots with me on this trip. We then walked through Macy's and out the other end, and then I saw it, ZARA! It was like finding the promised land! I made it! I was here at last!
If your a lover of fashion, walking into a Zara store is a treat for the eyes. I don't think there was anything in that store I didn't like. Every item is so unique and has details that one does not find anywhere else. There were tee shirts that felt like micro fleece and didn't have hems. Unique skirts that looked vintage, but had a modern flair. Fun blazers, wide pants, and all the cute hats the famous fashion blogger's wear. I was in heaven. I looked at, touched, examined, and drooled over every single item. Perfection. Absolute perfection. But even though I found Zara affordable (as far as affordable as trendy, nicer fashion can be), because I am unemployed, I can't spend money like I use to and had to restrain myself. Ashley found a cute knit skirt on a clearance rack for only $7.99 for me, and I also found a black cardigan for $25.00 in a style that I have been looking for FOREVER. But that was all I bought. I was good. I knew before going that I probably wasn't going to buy anything there, but I just wanted to see a Zara store. Of course, even though it was cold and we hadn't taken any fashion photos all weekend, we had to take my picture outside the Zara store with my new Zara possessions. The smile on my face says it all!
By now we both tired and starving, so we headed back home after a brief stop at Starbucks for a Hot Chai Tea Latte to warm me up. We had another nice dinner, some conversation, and concluded the evening watch "The Maze Runner" on DVD.
The next morning after a great breakfast we said our goodbyes and headed back to Wisconsin. It was a much nicer and warmer day and I took this photo to send to Ashley showing we had no snow in Wisconsin.
And the next morning I woke up to this:
Yes, Mother Nature is such a cruel tease.
I hope you enjoyed my long, humorous, FREEZING March adventure.
Have a great day! Amy