Tag Archives: polar vortex

How to dress for a polar vortex

I was going to start off this post by talking about our trip to Untitled on Friday for the kick-off to restaurant week, but then that silly Polar Vortex showed up again, ruining everyone’s dreams for an early spring and overall dexterity.

wind chill chicago, polar vortex, nbc chicago

So I’ll get to the food in a bit, as I understand it is key to your winter survival in places like Antarctica, Russia and this year, Chicago. According to this graphic, I’m going to get frost bite if I walk outside for more than 12 minutes as wind chills are at -25 on this bright and sunny Monday in Chicago. And while schools are closed, the majority of Chicago seems to think this is nothing compared to our -45 day a few weeks back.

I hope you don’t, but if you are forced to venture out in weather like this, don’t just throw on a puffy vest and hope for the best. It’s taken me years of Chicago living to perfect my winter outerwear, but I think I’ve finally got things covered. Literally. Cover yourself completely. I recommend only leaving enough space so that you see enough to not get hit by a bus, train or another bundled commuter. But that’s it.

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  1. The North Face® Metropolis Parka
  2. The North Face Cable Knit Hat 
  3. ChapStick
  4. Cowl Infinity Scarf. Similar here.
  5. Lululemon Frisky Brisk Run Gloves
  6. Ugg Boots-Tall
  7. SmartWool Socks 

Here’s the fun part. Put it all on over your dress or casual clothes and try not to feel like this kid:

Who am I kidding. You will totally feel like the kid from A Christmas Story.


But at least you will be warm. Or comfortable. OK. You won’t be frostbitten.

Before the Polar Vortex hit, Matt and I decided to hit up Untitled on Friday for restaurant week. We had both been previously, but only for drinks so we wanted to explore the menu a little more. Plus, they often have live music and burlesque shows on the weekends so we figured it was a good excuse to go out ahead of several weeks of work travel. If you aren’t familiar with the restaurant week concept, restaurants offer a prix fixe menu for a set price. In our case, three courses for $44 per person. Little did we know that there were three courses within each course. Most of which involved some form of bourbon, bacon, maple and for some, all three together.

untitled restaurant week menu, chicago restaurant week, caviar deviled eggs, maple bourbon cornbread, shrimp and grits

Needless to say we were stuffed. If you haven’t been, check out Untitled for a drink and some small bites. Stay for the show.

Speaking of restaurants, my mom should seriously consider opening one. I know everyone is always like “my mom’s cooking is the best blah blah blah,” but I’m not messing around when I say this lady can cook. We were welcomed home Saturday evening to the smells of homemade spaghetti sauce and meatballs. She swears it’s simple, but as soon as I get her recipe I’ll share it with you guys and you can be the judge.

We made a short trip home on Saturday just in time to see a gorgeous winter sunset and to drop off Finn for a brief vacation at my parents.

winter sunset, midwest skies, Illinois sunset, colors of winter, winter sky

The other day, Finn was all like oh mom, you look like you could use a vacation.

greater swiss mountain dog, finn, swissy, puppies

Why don’t you take a couple days off and I’ll go hang with Nana and Papoo? I hear there’s another polar vortex coming so you know none of my friends will be in the dog park to play with me. And I really like the luxury of peeing just steps from their door in that thing they call a backyard. Pretty please? They let me eat crumbs off the floor!

greater swiss mountain dog, finn, swissy, puppies

This picture has no context except to show you that my puppy now insists on sitting like a human during car rides. He’s so tall he has to duck his head to see out the window now. Pretty sure he’d be something like the 90th percentile for height if he were a toddler.

So Finn is on vacation and as soon as this Polar Vortex stops being such a jerk I will be too. If you’re inside, stay there. If you’re dealing with a stubborn city like I am, be careful, be safe and book a trip somewhere warm, STAT!

Have a great week!

Tips for surviving a polar vortex

By now you may have heard of a little storm system wreaking havoc on the “lower 48” early this week, blessing us with a frigid blast of cold temperatures more suitable for Old St. Nick than young Chicagoans.

I know living in Chicago for several years now should prepare us for weather like this and for the most part it has. In 2011, we made it through “snowpacolypse,” only short one-half of a side mirror thanks to a friendly visit from a snow plow one fateful morning.

We’re used to lots of wind and cold temps. Heck, even 6 straight days of snow didn’t stop us from getting out of the house to play.

But when Finn and I walked out of the house this morning, the mountain dog himself immediately turned and looked at me like ‘seriously lady?’ I guess it’s safe to assume a windchill of -35 is both of our tipping points.

chicago polar vortex snowstorm, greater swiss mountain dog, cold weather

It’s a polar vortex, they say. Exposed skin can freeze in less than 10 minutes, they say.

frozen windows, polar vortex, chicago, greater swiss moutain dog

Apparently so can the inside of your condo.

Forced to stay inside, we did all the things we never have enough time for like reorganizing sports bras into categories based on their elasticity ratio for running, ellipticalling and yoga-ing.

gym, greater swiss mountain dog, meal planning

Other polar vortex activities included

  • Snuggling on the couch
  • Daily vacuuming
  • Meal planning, grocery shopping and lunching at Whole Foods all afternoon
  • Laundry
  • Fighting the crowds at the gym
  • and baking

heath_bar_cookiesI think I’ve shared this recipe for Heath Bar Cookies on the blog before, but some recipes just deserve another go. Funny story about these cookies. Several years ago my mom put together my favorite recipes of hers into a cookbook which she gifted to me. Partially, I’m sure because I kept calling her over and over again for many of them. Included in the book is a recipe called ‘Julie’s heath bar cookies.’ A little different from most of my cookie recipes as I typically bake with butter, but delicious nonetheless. Imagine my surprise when I praised my Aunt Julie for the recipe at a family function one year, only to find out the recipe did not come from her but a former co-worker of my mother’s with the same name.

And so I have renamed these cookies ‘Not to be confused with Aunt Julie’s Heath Bar Cookies.’

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Heath Bar Cookies

  • 3 sticks margarine (I use 1 1/2 stick Crisco)
  • 1 1/2 C Sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 C flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C heath bar bits (6 crushed heath bars)

Preheat oven to 350 (recipe says 325 but I haven’t had much luck at that temp)

In a stand mixer, blend crisco and sugar together until creamy. Add vanilla.

In a large bowl, whisk salt into flour.

Here’s where it gets crazy. Mix dry ingredients into wet. Add toffee bits.

Roll into quarter-sized balls and place on baking mat. Flatten with fork. Bake for 15 minutes.

The trick to these is to let them cool completely before touching them. They are fragile cookies but very tasty.

heath bar toffee cookies, baking, recipes

Rumor has it we’re back to work tomorrow. As for now, I’ve got a hearty beef and stout stew with some kale mashed potatoes on the stove just perfect for a cold winter night.

Stay warm. Stay safe. Stay inside!