America · Living Abroad · Michigan · Travelling

Five Impressions from Ann Arbor, Michigan

1.) It should really be renamed UMICHville.

The University of Michigan has basically taken over the whole town- from the sprawling university buildings to the prevalence of student housing. Often you pass a large house only to notice the Greek letters labeling it to be a sorority or fraternity house. This is before we even get to sports!

Pretty sculptures on campus

Mirrored buildings- maybe it makes the city look bigger…

Guess the animal…

2.) Sports are a BIG thing here. Ann Arbor has one of the biggest stadiums in the world, and it’s simply a university! The sports complex is massive and the billboards rival those at most professional arenas.

3.) If you want to fit in, make sure you wear some Michigan stash. It’s basically a local uniform!

They even have it in different languages…

They even do ‘Wolverine’ coats for children…

4.) There are a lot of breweries and bars, but they are mostly full or table service – finding a drink is harder than you think.

5.) They like coloured houses. All colours, any colours – ranting from tasteful to terrifying. College colors spread to house decoration as well.

Overall, a highly enjoyable weekend.

America · Diary · Illinois · Illinois · Living Abroad · Travelling

It is so loud here.

The downside of living in a city? Traffic.

You’d think that living 35 floors up you would become immune to it – especially having spent most of my life living next to a busy road. However it’s constant in the evenings – ambulances, police and fire vehicles, wind (despite the real reason for the ‘Windy City’ getting its name I can testify that it is definitely windy!). Add to that the defending sound of the L and you can barely hear yourself think. 

Also car horns. Why do drivers think that hooting really loudly and repeatedly will sort things? Does that ever work? (Asking as a mom driver here).

Today we went in search of some more tranquil areas and ended up in the prairie district in the south of the city. It was very green and tree-lined – reminding me a lot of D.C., particularly Takoma. I would like to go back to D.C. at some point soon but until then this was a nice reminder!

We then headed down to Chinatown and went to get a quick snack – possibly choosing the least Chinese items in the shop…

Custard tart (Max)

Cream bun (me)

Back at home, we have chocolate chips, blueberries and maple syrup. It’s finally time for American pancakes! 

America · Desserts · Doughnuts · Illinois · Illinois · Living Abroad · Travelling

The Best Doughnuts in Chicago

So here it is. What you’ve all been waiting for!

The definitive listings of Chicago doughnuts, in reverse order!

8. Donut Delight

Sorry guys – there has to be a last place. We ordered a pineapple old fashioned and couldn’t taste pineapple… 

7. Glazed and Infused

Similar to Donut Delight, there was just not enough flavor. We ordered a Nutella Old Fashioned and it was rather stodgy and though fine, it’s not somewhere I’d run back to.

6. Mariano’s 

The supermarket doughnut ranks higher than several other shops for two reasons – price and amount of bacon ( see image below). 

That is a bacon maple donut.

Also these doughnuts are $0.70. Bargain!

5. Scafuri’s Bakery

This is your childhood in a doughnut- it’s soft, tasty and includes sprinkles. All round, a very successful baked good.

4. Beaver’s Donuts

Doughnut holes covered in caramel sauce, chocolate sauce and crushed nuts. Out of the top four these were the softest, possibly most greasiest of the top ones, but still very tasty and good value at $3 for 4 holes (5 in our case!)

3. Doughnut Vault

These rightly earn third place due to three things:

  1. Cuteness of shop
  2. Size of donut
  3. Actual fruit flavor (note the blueberry old fashioned which was the best fruit donut of the lot!

How cute is this? It is tiny inside as well – there is about room for 4 people!

2. Stan’s Donuts

Stan’s almost made it to the No. 1 spot and still does an amazing donut – the chocolate orange old fashioned and the Boston creme donut being of particular note. It also has a full display of Kitchenaids and makes milkshakes with a donut on top. 

And now we come to the top spot… 

1. Do-rite Donuts

We weren’t sure about the top spot – Stan’s was still pretty unbeatable and whilst we agreed that Do-Rite was close, it wasn’t an outright winner.

Until this.

The best donut in Chicago.

Do-Rite’s carrot cake donut. Amazing. 

Why is it so amazing you ask? I give you three reasons:

  1. No raisins – the worst part of carrot cake
  2. Great taste and amazing cream cheese frosting
  3. Softest texture of any donut 

Oh, and coffee is only a dollar. Can’t beat it. 

If carrot cake isn’t your thing, there is also apple fritters:

and chocolate Valhrona donuts

The carrot cake has to be number 1 though!

I’m sorry for the lack of posts – I will try to get back to more consistent posting soon!


A Collection of Pictures

This is less a post and more a lot of pictures taken in the last few weeks along with annotations. 

Many of them are cake-based. I don’t apologize for this but we are joining the gym tomorrow…

A rather impressive school building on the way to Pilsen (the Mexican district which we went to today). 

Pilsen is famous for its murals which are scattered everywhere 

$3.50 dollar tacos!

Happy Max with his Mexican chicken torta!

Cannoli from Scarfuri’s – handmade in front of us!

The Bean at night (many more to come!)

I still don’t understand this installation -apparently it takes pictures of random people and uploads their faces? It’s just creepy!

Nutella old-fashioned from Glazed and Infused – Stan’s is still better!

Bibimbap – finally!

Random Alice in Wonderland mural on Milwaukee Avenue

I love Warm Belly Bakery cookies so much, especially when they are half price!

Note to self – there is a reason why Turkey Burgers have never really caught on…

Heading back from West Loop

Evenings in West Loop

Very weird murals in West Loop!

Enjoy! Hopefully some more next week!


Cubs win! (Spoiler Alert)

So on Wednesday we went to our first sports game – we are now paid up and hoodie-d up Chicago Cubs fans! (Despite technically being the wrong side of the river – traditionally the south supports the White Sox, but I just can’t cope with that spelling… urgh!) Last time we were in Chicago, the Cubs made the final for the World Series and the atmosphere around Wrigley Field was electric (and the rest of Chicago that night to be honest!) This time though we were excited to be able to actually get inside the stadium…

Getting off the train at Belmont we walked through Wrigleyville, finding very colourful houses and a very accurate sign of the times…

I originally thought the sign at the top said Trader Joe’s and thought I had found the most colorful supermarket ever!

Then we finally got into the stadium,  initially thinking it was very quiet! We had a great view, right at the top and close to the batter – even came very close to catching some stray balls at times! The evening sky was also beautiful- I took far too many pictures trying to capture it! 

Anyway, the game started after the longest ever note from the man singing the National Anthem! Men also started walking around with beer at this point – some shouting out ‘Goose Island!’, ‘Insert brand of beer here!’, which another guy just yelled ‘Beer’ and shook cans at everyone! There were also wandering hot dog men and a line Ben and Jerry’s seller who much to my disgust gave up early! 

What can I tell you about the match?

  1. It’s basically rounders for guys
  2. The New York Mets were the opposing team
  3. The scoreboard looks like they stole it from the Oval.

Also, my favorite player for the Cubs is Ben Zobrist simply because he has a silly name and he wears glasses to play baseball…

Baseball is a long game. The first three innings were rather dull – no scoring, but then it got interesting when Kris Bryant started to score home runs! You understand why he’s the only player I’ve heard of at that point! We made it to the 7th inning – longer than we have ever stayed at a match before, and all to hear the 7th inning stretch – the traditional sing-along to ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’

Next time we’ll have to learn the words… 

Overall, I can’t say that I know anything about baseball, but the experience of a game is so much fun. The food was expensive, but tasty – from the Hawaiian Sandwich to Max’s Italian beef sandwich (or more accurately- handful of meat and bread!). Now for hockey!