People are always asking “what should we do when we visit Chicago?” Well, it’s hard to know exactly, everyone’s different. Here are some of my favorite things. This map includes local history spots, museums, landmarks and tourist attractions, things to do and see, activities, food, drinks, and of course yummy treats. The icons are all clickable and include URLs so you can visit the websites to plan out your trip based on exactly what you like and want to see.
I used to always just steam broccoli. Then one day someone suggested I roast it. Whaaaaaaat? Ok. With some olive oil and some garlic. Sounds good, right? But once I got started doing it differently, I couldn’t stop, so I also added some herbs, chili paste, and soy sauce. OMG so good.
So, how do you make it, exactly?
I use frozen broccoli, put it into a baking dish, coat it with olive oil (I like a LOT of olive oil), add one or two cloves of chopped garlic, a sprinkle of my favorite herb blend, a teaspoon of chili paste, and a tablespoon of soy sauce. I roast it in a 400 degree oven for 20- 30 minutes. I like it crispy and roasty, you can cook it shorter or longer depending on how you like it.
You may never make broccoli any other way after this!
Well, besides the fact that you’re supporting local farmers and not Big Ag when you get food there, it’s fun, the people selling are nice and helpful and friendly- and everything tastes so much better!
If you’re new to Farmer’s Markets, or are intimidated or overwhelmed, the three things you should start with are tomatoes, corn, and peaches. You will never find tastier tomatoes, corn, and peaches anywhere unless you grow them yourself. Not even Whole Foods has better ones.
That’s it, now go, you only have a few weeks left.
Even though we got rid of our travel trailer and moved to the big city, we still love to go camping when we can. We’ve had to adjust to tent camping and have learned that since we usually only go for weekends now, we don’t need a ton of stuff (even though it looks like a ton of stuff).
We are each responsible for gathering and packing about half the list, divided along ye olde sexist gender lines, though there is some overlap:
- Cooler: We gave away our cooler and got an insulated tote bag from Wal-Mart like this. It holds more than our cooler did and is a lot easier to pack.
- Ice: We usually get a 10-pound bag of ice and put it unopened into the tote bag, which helps to keep everything inside dry. I have also had good luck with reusable cooler packs like Blue Ice, or even just freezing some small bottles of water.
- Flashlight: We have a couple of small but bright flashlights from Target. Get the brightest ones you can find. We also have headlamps that make doing actual tasks, like dishes or peeing (not at the same time) in the dark much easier.
- Batteries: Always have spares!
- Lantern: We’ve tried a few different kinds, battery and propane without really liking them, so we will probably have to shell out some cash for a nicer one like this rechargeable Coleman.
- Phones: OMG, we can’t be away from our phones!
- Car charger: For our phones we can’t be away from!
- External phone charger: There are lots of these out there now, including some solar-powered ones!
- Foldable canopy, like an E-Z Up: Mike always groans at this one. It’s heavy, it’s hard to fit in the car. But we always use it and are always glad we brought it. It protects against sun and rain. We have this inexpensive one from Dicks. Or glamp it up with something like this.
- Tent: Do not buy a cheap tent! If you want to have to tear it down in the middle of a rainstorm, throw it in the dumpster and sleep in the car, then get a cheap tent. Otherwise, get a good tent with a big and generous rain fly. We have this Coleman, which is supposed to fit three people. Right. If you want room to move around, you have to get a tent that “fits” one more person than is actually going to sleep in it. I’d actually rather have a four-person tent so there’s more room to glamp out.
- Tent tarp: You don’t want to put your tent right on the ground. It needs a buffer so it stays clean and dry.
- Sleeping bags: Sleeping bags come in a variety of temperature ratings. Be sure to get one that will keep you warm! We have the “Elk Hunter” (gross name) from Rustic Ridge. I don’t like nylon sleeping bags, so even though these fabric ones are heavy, they are more comfy and super-retro (plaid!).
- Sleeping pads: Guys, your lady will win this one, so just go ahead and get the inflatable beds straight away, OK? We got these inexpensive ones from Target and they’re comfortable enough. Don’t forget to buy a battery-operated pump. The electric ones and the car ones are sometimes cheaper, but you won’t always be near electricity or your car. One day my glamping dreams will come true and I’ll have two cute vintage military cots, but till then, these beds work great.
- Tent light: Hey, it’s dark in the wilderness.
- Tent mirror: Ladies? We used to keep one with our tent, but it’s lost. I haven’t really missed it, and trust me, we don’t look great.
- Mallet, hatchet, knife, multitool, twine, other tools: You need a mallet to drive tent/canopy stakes into sometimes-hard ground; the hatchet helps with the firewood (for some reason, the bundles you buy at the store have logs that are way too big—release your inner mountain man and cut that wood down to size); knives and other tools, because sometimes, you need to cut stuff, tie things together, or bend something.
- Firewood/charcoal and shovel for fire: Are you good at charcoal grilling? If so, you may be able to cook on a campfire. Always get more wood than you think you need. At least two bundles per fire. Some people like to use premade logs like these. Don’t do this. Learn to make a fire. Be sure the campground has fire pits with grates on them!
- Camp stove: Or maybe you’re not Jim Bridger and want to just use a camp stove. I have my heart set on a cool old vintage stove, but they’re hard to find in good condition so we’re thinking of getting one of these Colemans. If you get something that requires propane, remember that, too.
- Matches and a lighter: We bring both just in case. We experimented with emergency fire makers, but we couldn’t make fire with them, so …
- Fire-starter sticks: I am pretty good at making a fire thanks to Martha Stewart, but we bring these anyway, just in case. I don’t really like to cook on a fire that was started with them, but will if we’re in a pinch.
- Newspaper: To start the fire without having to use the fire starter sticks. Journalism!
- Water holder/canteen: Ours has a strap so it’s a lot easier to carry than bottled water.
- Fishing gear: Unless you don’t fish. Then you’re wasting your time bringing a tackle box with some Woolly Buggers.
- Fishing license: Yes, you’ll need one if you’re going to fish. And some Woolly Buggers!
- Rain slicker/poncho: It will rain.
- Extra sneakers: It will rain.
- Flip flops
- Sun hat
- Extra socks: Nothing like putting a clean pair of socks on to make you feel human again. No lie. This is actual sincere truth. Putting on clean socks is heaven on a camping trip.
- Cold weather: If it’s going to be cold where you’re going, also bring long underwear, a warm hat, sweaters, and a coat.
- Toiletries: Don’t forget to bring your meds and a toothbrush. And some Chapstick.
- Cast-iron skillet: Cast-iron cookware is the best for camping. You can cook over the fire with it, and it works great if you use a camp stove. It’s pretty much indestructible.
- Cast-iron sauce pan
- Tin foil: You can wrap food in it to cook in the coals, you can line the grill with it, and you can wrap leftovers in it. You can also fold it into a hat.
- Skewers: We use the long skinny ones for cooking hots dogs and roasting marshmallows.
- Tongs: The long heavy-duty ones for BBQs work great.
- Large fork/spoon/spatula/whisk: I just use the ones from my kitchen. Whisk you say? Wellllll, sometimes I want whipped cream for desserts or hot chocolate.
- Splatter screen
- Mixing bowl
- Oven mitts: Again, the heavy duty BBQ ones are best, but the kitchen kind are OK. You can move logs from the fire, too.
- Trash bags
- Dish soap
- Paper towels
- Hand wipes
- Plates/bowls: Depending on my level of fanciness, I bring either paper, plastic, or the ones from my kitchen.
- Utensils (knives, can opener, corkscrew, silverware, etc.)
- Cutting board
- Salt and pepper
- Beer, wine, whiskey: All of this. Preferably with screw-off tops. Some suggestions: Whatever local craft beer is in the area you’re camping; Old Grand-Dad bourbon, 100-proof.
- Tea/coffee: I recently discovered coffee in tea bags, you just pour boiling water over them. It wasn’t half bad
- OR Espresso maker: It’s really just a glorified percolator, good for using on the campstove if you don’t want to use the coffee bags.
- OR plastic pour-over for hipster cred
- Milk/half and half
- Prepped meals: This will be a different post. Meanwhile, search Google for tons of ideas!
- Large gallon jugs of water: One gallon per person per day for cooking, cleaning, and drinking
- Small water bottles
- Candles: I got the battery-operated ones last time we went and they were great. They didn’t blow out and they weren’t a fire hazard. I even used them in the tent for max glamping ambience.
- Battery powered fairy string lights.
- Rain slicker/poncho
- Tennies/water shoes
- Flip flops
- Swim suit
- Extra socks
- PJs/long underwear
- Warm hat
- Tote bag
- Sunscreen/bug repellant: don’t leave this at home!
- Baby wipes
- Face wipes
- First aid kit
- Bath towels
- Blankets, quilts, picnic blankets, throw pillows- optional for inside/outside/extra comfy/glampy
- Door mat: Very important for keeping dirt out of the tent.
- Toilet paper
Yes, it looks like a lot, and it probably is. Maybe you don’t need everything on this list, but it’s a good place to start.
So, I just have to quickly tell you all about the best thing ever. As you know, I have a stupidly tiny kitchen. There’s actually a decent amount of storage but a lot of it is up high. I always have to drag a chair in to get to stuff off the top shelves which annoys me, disproportionately probably. I was looking for a real step stool for in there but they’re all so huge. The folding ones are better but I don’t have anywhere to put one of those, either. Since I hate my trash can, I was hoping someone made a combo step stool trash can. Someone does, but it’s not actually for sale. So anyway, my hopes of having a two for one item in the kitchen were dashed. UNTIL I came across this bucket from The Container Store.
I hardly ever shop there because it can be expensive for what it is. But I saw the buckets and thought they were cute and could replace some less cute storage I currently have, specifically cat food and other cat THINGS. When I saw that it was strong enough to step on, I about died. OMG I had to have it. Some of the colors are even on sale! So exciting. Now I keep the bucket on the floor filled with cat food. It can be gently slid across the floor to the kitchen, or if needed elsewhere, it has a handy handle. It’s plenty large enough and plenty strong enough to hold cat food and me! Genius!