Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great fourth of the July. This is up a little late so I will keep it short. Over the weekend, Derek and I traveled to Chicago to visit family to celebrate the birth of our nation. Each year my cousins through a big 4th bash. We party all day, play games and watch fireworks. It is a guaranteed good time. We drove down on Thursday after work so we would all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday the rest of my family was working their way into town so Derek and I went into the city to hit up some of our old spots. We started with our absolute favorite pizza place Michael's

Now most people will say Giordano's, or Gino's as the best pizza in Chicago. Most local Chicagoans will say Lou Malnati's (another chain) but I assure you they would all be wrong. Michael's is a small sports bar type pizza place. It has more TVs than pizza in it most days unless a game is on. The deep dish is perfect, thick, but not dry and does not fall apart. It is located in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, where we used to live, and it was our favorite spot in the whole city. We always brought our friends and family and even our Chicago family was surprised at how good the pizza was. We make a point to go back there whenever we can. Oddly enough, a couple of the guys work there remembered us. Guess we were there a lot ;) After pizza we tried to head downtown, but it was so crowded we grabbed a quick beer and then headed back, but not before stopping by my old school and snapping a few pics of the skyline.

Loyola Watertower Campus

On Saturday it was the big party. We got to sleep in a little bit, which was awesome and we woke up to our fabulous "view" at our hotel.

Nice, huh? At least we were not planning on being there all day. We headed over to my cousins house for the day. Granted Chicago is not that far from us realistically, but we rarely get to see this side of the family. Some our pretty spread out too. We have one in New York City, another in Memphis and some more a couple hours south of Chicago. This party is the one time in a year at least 90% of the clan is present. I am really close with my cousin from New York and it is her parent's house so I was pretty stoked to see her too. At night some of the male cousins put on a fireworks show worth of a town festival. They get pretty excited about it and each year they out due themselves. They have it down to a science now with constructed tubes and on tables. The neighbors try to compete, but they got nothin' on them. Each year I think more of their neighbors try and the whole area was covered in smoke. They did a fantastic job again so here are a few highlights.

I am not gonna lie, we were up pretty late on Saturday so Sunday was a rough morning. The original intent of the day was to go to the beach, which I was happy about but no such luck. I spent most of the morning in bed watching whatever movie was on and did not get moving until after noon. When we eventually got moving the family decided to go watch their cousin sing at a local bar. He does an amazing impression of Frank Sinatra and just in general is a fantastic singer. He sang at a neat outdoor bar right on the lake in a local town called Cedar Lake. I was told it was the closet thing they had to a Stillwater type area. I forget how lucky we are to have so many lakes and access to water in Minnesota and how cool a place like this must be. The outdoor section was all sand and picnic tables and literally right on the water. I could have walked right into the water it was so close. We had a great time and it was a gorgeous night. I have some pretty funny videos of my family dancing, but I won't post those on here for their sake.

We left on Monday and I am not ready to be home. Back to the grind tomorrow and hopeful it will be an easy day. Until my next trip: Fiji!

On the big holiday I wanted to be festive, but not obnoxious. Everything I wore were items I already had in my closet. Lucky for me I have a thing for navy stripes and I already fell in love with these red shorts. It was a great look for the day because not only was it super cute but it was comfy and light. It was pretty warm that day and these items breathed well. I topped it off with a few pieces of light jewelry for a bit of delicate grace on an otherwise overzealous day. Oh and p.s. Derek had to take these in our hotel room and he got a real kick out of playing paparazzi so these are the best shots I could find. Most were either blurry, me talking or blurry of me talking. Le sigh.

Top| J. Crew factory  similar
Shorts| J. Crew Factory
Shoes| Target
Jewelry| Primp Boutique
Watch| Marc Jacobs

How was your holiday? Anyone find anything more festive to wear?