Chicago: Round 2

I love Chicago. If I didn’t live in Boston, I would probably live there. I love that even though it’s a huge city, it still has that small city, Boston feel. I love that it’s clean and that there are so many fun things to do and good places to eat. This past trip was especially fun because not only did RM end up coming (my friend Lauren ended up not being able to go so RM took her place), but my best friend Jessi and her boyfriend and another couple were also there. RM had never been to Chicago so I was excited to show him around, and to also introduce him to my best friend, JP, who moved there a little over a year ago.

I’m going to try to keep my recap short and sweet, highlighting the places we ate and things we did and leave the rest to the pictures- Enjoy!

Friday

We got to Chicago around 10 and took the train to our hotel. We stayed at the W City Center, which I was excited about originally, but later regretted. It just wasn’t in the right part of the city where we ended up wanting to be the whole time, so it was a lotttt of walking each day! Next time, I’m going with my instinct and staying at the hotel my sister and I stayed at last time. Anyway! We grabbed a drink at the hotel bar before making the trek to The Purple Pig for lunch.

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My friend JP couldn’t rave enough about The Purple Pig, and it did not disappoint! Our friends went on Thursday night at 6 and it was a 2 hour wait. Around 2pm on a Friday, we scored and found seats right at the bar. Everything about the place was awesome- service, atmosphere, wines and the food! A must if you go to Chicago.

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We then went to the bean and took the necessary touristy pics!

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For dinner, we went to The Signature Room which is the restaurant at the top of the Hancock Tower. It’s the 95th floor, so the views were amazing!! The food and drinks did not disappoint, either. It was such a fun night.

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We grabbed a quick drink at Hub 51 after dinner before calling it a night.

Saturday

After my run and a long walk with RM, we showered and headed to Lou Mitchell’s for breakfast. I highly suggest this place if you’re in the area- the warm donuts to start, the home-cooked meals on menu and the soft serve taster at the end had us rolling out of the restaurant!

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The rest of the afternoon was spent at Wrigley Field, watching the Cubs get crushed by the Cardinals. I’m not a baseball fan and ended up getting bored not long into the afternoon, but it was still a really fun experience to go to a game there!

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RM and I ended up grabbing a late dinner at Park Grill Chicago in Millennium Park before going to my friend JP’s apartment. I was really craving pizza and the one I ordered did NOT disappoint! Look at this thing!

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We played Cards Against Humanity at JP’s, which is always a good time. It was SO GOOD to see him- I miss having him in Boston and working with him. womp 😦

Sunday

I got up on Sunday and went for a long walk to get breakfast and Architecture Tour tickets. The weather was finally gorgeous, so I was really happy to be outside soaking it all up! RM loves architecture and real estate so he was in heaven throughout the tour. And, they serve drinks- how much better can you get?!

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We grabbed a quick lunch at Sweetwater Tavern and Grille on our way back to the hotel.

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RM treated us to massages, which was on the agenda for Sunday afternoon. Our hotel didn’t have a spa, but luckily the JW Marriott across the street had one. It was such a relaxing afternoon! We went in the hot tub and the steam room and sauna before our separate massages. Finished off with some champagne and you’ve got a very happy Monique!

Once we showered and got ready, we headed to the grassy field area at the amphitheater in Millennium Park near the bean. We grabbed some wine (they sell it everywhere which is awesome!) and had a blast chatting with Jessi and Chuck, people watching and watching the movie that was showing. I wish I did more of this stuff in Boston.

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Dinner was at The Gage and it, again, did not disappoint! Everything we ate was awesome, including my cheese burger, which was so random but exactly what I wanted. It was the perfect day from start to finish!

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Monday

After our workouts, we headed back to Lou Mitchell’s for breakfast before shopping on the Magnificent Mile. It was a little chilly, but perfect weather for all the walking that we did!

Unfortunately, our flight home was delayed by a lot, which meant we spent a few hours at the bar and then I caught up on some blogging (before the free wifi timed out) and started a new book.

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All in all, it was an awesome trip to Chicago! The weather could’ve been better, but other than that it was perfect. Also, if you’re looking for a way to save money, do this: Buy a bottle of wine and keep it on ice in your room. It’s so much cheaper than buying glasses of wine for $14 each!

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And, it allows you to do this while getting ready 😉

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I can’t wait to go back- Chicago is a city that would never get old to me!

In case you missed my other Chicago recaps, here they are:

Boston>Dallas>Chicago
Chicago: Part1 {Shopping and Bar Hopping}
Chicago: Part 2 {The Bean, Navy Pier, Boat Tour, Brewery}
Chicago: Part 3 {Brunching, Architecture Tour, Homemade Dinner}

Questions for you: What’s your favorite part about Chicago (if you’ve been)? Do you ever have wine picnics? What’s the most recent ravel nightmare you’ve experienced?

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Catching up {Workouts and Life}

As I read other healthy living blogs, I’m happy to see that I’m not the only one feeling like there just isn’t enough time in the day or week to accomplish everything on my to-do list. Sometimes blogging just has to take a back seat, and even though I sometimes feel guilty about it or stressed to get posts written, realizing it’s OK to take a break is so refreshing. Sarah wrote a post earlier this week that hit me hard. It was as if I was writing it myself! I’m finding myself in a recent job change, increasing love for fitness and teaching and no longer just being on my own. Being in a serious relationship and moving to that “we” thing is awesome, but it’s also a big change for someone who hasn’t had that in a longggg time. My normal blogging time and teaching time and “Monique” time is just not the same as it used to be and I wouldn’t change that for the world. As we grow up, our priorities change, right? It’s such an exciting time, but sometimes it can be a little stressful! Sarah’s post was a great reminder to not let myself get stressed out over these types of changes, but to embrace them and live life. Blogging will always be here, but random nights with the bf or friends of family won’t- it’s more important to DO those things, rather than sit at home, writing a post because it’ll “screw up my schedule” if I don’t.

And, with that, let’s catch up on some stuff!

Workouts- Last week

Last week was my last week teaching my Thursday night double, which was totally bittersweet! On top of that, RM and I headed to Chicago with some friends so my weekend workouts were a bit different than usual. Overall, though, it was a great week of workouts. We did SO MUCH WALKING when in Chicago. Our hotel was about a mile from all the action (just in the wrong part of the city), so getting to and from anywhere was at least a 2 mile walk.

    • Monday- After work, I ran 3.5 miles and then did the workout listed at the bottom of this workout post. I kinda died a little…

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    • Tuesday- I went to a BodyPump during work since I had a hair appointment after work. What is it about BodyPump that gets me every time?!
    • Wednesday- I ran 3.5 miles on the treadmill before teaching (and doing most of) UXF Burn. I’m not sure what we did to get so dirty?

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    • Thursday- Last double:( In SHRED, we did 3 rounds of stations and then we did some across the floor cardio and partner ab stuff. We had a big group and everyone seemed to enjoy it! Kickboxing had it’s biggest crowd to date and we worked super hard!

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    • Friday- Nothing. We had an early flight so there was definitely no morning workout for me! We did do some walking, though.
    • Saturday- I got up and ran 4 miles, although I think my mapmyrun GPS wasn’t working because it was saying I was running all sub 8 minute miles… highly doubt that! After, I did some core work at the gym and then RM wanted to go for a walk so we went on about a 45 minute loop- we were walking so fast!

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    • Sunday- We had all intentions of going to the gym at the spa before our massages, but a late lunch got in the way of that. I did walk for about an hour in the morning while getting breakfast and Architecture tour tickets.

Catching Up- Life

The past couple of weeks have been so busy!! I feel like I’m on auto-pilot going from one thing to the next. Anyone else feel this way? I have a full recap of Chicago coming soon, but besides that, here are some things going on:

  • My garden is growing so much! Over the past couple of weeks I have picked kale and green beans, and both taste so fresh!

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  • I recently started reading The One and Only by Emily Griffin for a book club that my college friends and I started. It’s really just an excuse to get together to drink wine, but we decided to throw a book in the mix, too!

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  • I had to buy new Tom’s when walking around in Chicago and I’m actually happy about it because I’ve been meaning to buy a new pair for a while now. Love this blue!

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  • I’m heading to the Cape this weekend with RM and his brother, sister-in-law and their 1 year old son. I think the weather is supposed to be crappy… why can’t it be nice when I have time to go to the beach?!
  • My parents are coming next weekend for my mom’s birthday- any good meal suggestions?

Questions for you: When’s the last time you skipped workout for sleep? Have you had any garden-fresh veggies this summer? Do you read Emily Griffin books? Are you in a book club?

My 2nd Stitch Fix Review {Hint: I loved it!}

As I mentioned in my review of my first Stitch Fix, I just wasn’t that impressed. First, I couldn’t receive one for over a month, second, once I did schedule one it got cancelled and third I just wasn’t that crazy about what was in the fix. I went into my personal account, updated my style likes and dislikes and was hopeful when pressing the confirmation button for my next fix. And… I’m very happy to say that I LOVED my 2nd fix! Besides the earrings, upon first look I wanted to keep everything!

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On top of that, the personalized note from my stylist, Alison, was SO sweet and, well, personal.

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Look at these colors!

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I just couldn’t wait to try them on… especially the white skinnies, which, as Allison said, were the PERFECT skinnies. Here’s a recap of my items:

Level 99 Shauna Skinny Jeans- $118

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Sadly, I wasn’t able to keep them because they were a bit over my price limit, especially for it being the middle of summer already. Also, I know they’re supposed to fit tight, but they were a little too thin for me to wear that tight. However, if they were half the cost I would’ve snatched them up in a heartbeat! Lucky for me, I scored a pair of awesome white skinny pants (for a much cheaper price) at Banana Republic while in Chicago.

Market & Spruce Colibri Paisley Print Sleeveless Top- $44

I loved this shirt from the moment I laid eyes on it. The pattern, color, style, and ultimately fit made this a sure keeper for me. I love that it can be worn with skinny jeans (looked fantastic with the ones they sent me!) for a casual look or tucked in and worn to work with a sweater. I thought the price was very reasonable too.

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Skies are Blue Anabell Lattice Detail Sleeveless Blouse- $54

Again, I loved the color and design of this shirt, as well as the loose, flowy fit. I especially liked the way the cut at the top was close to the neck, thus exposing more shoulder- such an attractive way to show off the shoulder! I definitely plan on wearing this to work, too, as the color will really pop with a black suit.

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Tart Kaiya Solid Belted Dress- $98

I loved this dress, but sadly it was just too big at the top and made me look like I was swimming in it. It would’ve looked so cute with a pair of brown wedges or boots. I even really loved the belt and planned on buying that, but realized I couldn’t since it came with the dress.

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Bay to Baubles Roxanne Pave Chandelier Earrings- $32

Although these are pretty earrings, they aren’t really my style and I didn’t feel like they really went with the other items in my fix.

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As you can see, it was really hard picking what I was going to keep and what I was going to send back- that’s the problem with getting a good fix! I think what I picked was the most practical as they can both be worn at work and for play.

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I haven’t scheduled my next fix yet as I like to wait until I have a special occasion to do it for… or maybe a time where it’s been a while since I’ve shopped. It would be too expensive of a habit if I scheduled them monthly!

If you’re on the fence about doing your first fix, I highly suggest it!

Questions for you: White skinnies- yay or nay? Do you have a tough time finding clothes that’s “just right”? Are you a big jewelry person?

This Week: Workouts, Announcements & Things I’m Looking Forward To (CHICAGO!)

Good morning and happy Monday, friends! It feels weird not having started my day teaching my 6am Muscle Work class. I have to say, although it’s not necessarily fun getting up and to the gym that early, especially on a Monday morning, it sure makes for a much better day knowing my workout is done and over with and I can spend my evening relaxing, blog writing and cooking!

I’ve got lots going on this week, but think the most important thing to talk about first is a BIG (at least for me) change I made recently. It wasn’t an easy decision and although I wanted some consistency in my day to day, especially after my other big change, I felt like it was the right thing for me to do right now. It was something I needed to do, even though it was a really hard decision to make. You ask what that is?

I have decided to give up my teaching my Thursday night double.

I know- it kind of came out of nowhere after my one (err 5) too many little mental breakdowns I’ve had over the past couple of months. I just realized that something had to give, and although I didn’t want it to be my classes and teaching schedule, I realized that, ultimately, that was giving me the most stress and wearing me down the most. By the time Thursday afternoons came around and I realized I was going to have to gear up to teach my double after work, sheer dread came over me. And, it’s not like this happened once and a while. It started to be a weekly thing. I didn’t feel this way before any other class, so I can only attribute it to how much energy it takes for me to teach and DO a double, generally after an intense workout on Wednesday night, too.

Granted, by the time I finished my second cool down of the night and I knew it was time to go home I was fine, but I realized that I shouldn’t go into a workout or teaching a class dreading it. I- and my members- deserve more than that, so I decided that I needed to give up those classes to help free some time up in my schedule and hopefully allow some extra room for me to, dare I say it? RELAX. I can’t be entirely sure that will happen, but I will say it will be nice to be able to do things on Thursday nights, especially during the summer.

I’ve got some other things brewing on the back burner with regards to some new teaching opportunities, but for now, I’m just going to enjoy having 2+ hours back to my Thursdays. My last class is THIS week and I’m dreading it already. I’m going to miss my members so much! I’ve grown the 5:30 SHRED class from 3 or 4 people to generally 16-20 people and I’ve grown my kickboxing class to an average of 16 people (and before me there was no kickboxing class, so I had to build that all on my own). These members come to my classes week after week, ready for any of the crazy (and, I mean that- I throw some weird stuff at them) things I think up and throw into the mix. We’ve grown to know each other as more than just the person standing next to you in class, so it’s going to be weird to not see them as much anymore. One of the members said he felt like I was dumping them, and it broke my heart a little! Luckily, I’ve decided to keep my Wednesday night UXF Burn class at that gym so at least I’ll still see most of them… they’re just going to have to get used to only 1 dose of me, not 3.

So, with that said. I’m hoping this change will help bring a better balance to my life. I’ve been juggling teaching an average of 5 classes a week, working 40 hours, commuting, writing this little blog, spending a lot of time with RM and friends and going away on the weekends that if I didn’t cut back somewhere, I was going to break. I’m sad to end this chapter but excited to have more time for my own workouts (maybe even start to consistently lift heavier) and try out other classes in the area.

OK, enough heavy talk… let’s get to the workouts!

Last Week’s Workouts

  • Monday- I taught my 6am Muscle Work class, which did include cardio, and then did 15 minutes on the stair stepper again.
  • Tuesday- The heat and humidity were killer on Tuesday night so I ended up cutting my run at 3 miles and then doing a butt kicking bootcamp-style workout finisher. I’ll post it on Wednesday for you!
  • Wednesday- I ran 3.5 miles on the treadmill before teaching (and doing most of) my SHRED class. It was a big class, likely because of the rainy weather, but I’ll take it! I even had a coworker come and there were 4 guys in the class!
  • Thursday- I taught SHRED and then Kickboxing… lots of members in both- we had fun!
  • Friday- Nothing. I went for a 15 minute walk during lunch but otherwise rested.
  • Saturday– After 2 weeks away from my Saturday kickboxing class at the Oak Square YMCA, I was back! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: that class is the best start of my weekend! We worked so hard and I love seeing the members push themselves each time I’m there.
  • Sunday- I got up and did 20 minutes of yoga and then 15 minutes of core and glute work at RM’s apartment before we went for a 45 min power walk. We went for another stroll after our afternoon meal at his moms, too.

This Week’s Workouts

  • Monday- Not sure! I’d love to get in a workout during the day, but it may be an after work thing.
  • Tuesday- I have a hair appointment after work so I’ll either try to get to a muscle class during the day or do something before work.
  • Wednesday- Teaching UXF Burn and probably running beforehand.
  • Thursday- Teaching my LAST Thursday double *tears*. Dana requested stations during SHRED, so I may do that and some partner work at the end. Kickboxing requests? Maybe the booty burner?
  • Friday- I am going to Chicago for a long weekend and we have an early flight so my guess is that I won’t get up for a workout, especially after a Thursday night double!
  • Saturday-Monday- I’m not sure. Like I said, I’ll be in Chicago so I’m sure I’ll be doing lots of walking, but knowing me I’ll be getting some other workouts in as well 🙂

Things I’m Looking Forward To

So many things this week! My 2nd Stitch Fix is coming in today, so hopefully they gave me good stuff for Chicago. I’m also getting my hair cut, which is long overdue. Lastly, I’m going to Chicago for the weekend. A longggg time ago my friend Jessi asked if anyone wanted to go (she was going with her boyfriend and his friends) so my friend Lauren and I jumped at it and booked our stuff. Sadly, Lauren ended up not being able to go so I asked RM and he was game since it’s a city he’s never been to. I can’t wait to go back and do more exploring and hang out with my friend JP again! We are also having dinner at the top of the Sears tower and going to a Cubs game- I am SO excited!!

Questions for you: What was the best workout you had last week? Boston friends- do you have suggestions for any new workouts in the city to try since I’m going to have more free time? Any suggestions on what to do while in Chicago during the summer? I was there in November (Boston>Dallas>Chicago, Chicago: Part1 {Shopping and Bar Hopping}, Chicago: Part 2 {The Bean, Navy Pier, Boat Tour, Brewery}, Chicago: Part 3 {Brunching, Architecture Tour, Homemade Dinner}), but I feel like there’s still a lot of stuff that I didn’t get to do!

Chicago: Part 3 {Brunching, Architecture Tour, Homemade Dinner}

Hi there! After this post, my Chicago recap is finally done 🙂 In case you missed the other posts, you can find them here, here, and here.

Sunday morning, I woke up feeling mostly better, but my stomach was still a little off. We hung out in the hotel for a bit and I blogged and we watched some tv. Around 11ish, we ventured out into what looked to be another beautiful day in the city! Seriously, I cannot believe how lucky we got with the weather. It could have been miserably cold/snowy, which we were not prepared for at all!

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We met up with JP for brunch at Eggy’s, but not before going to the grocery store to pick up a bottle of Prosecco since Eggy’s was BYOB. How fun is that?! Dining out would be so much more affordable if you could bring your own booze. Boston, get on that, will ya?!

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Apparently cheese curds are big in Chicago (I didn’t even know what they were until Danielle and JP explained the to me), so we go an order of the fried cheese curds to start. I was pleasantly surprised by how good they were!

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I got the green eggs and ham, which was one of their signature dishes. Sadly, it looked better than it tasted. It wasn’t bad, there was just too much stuff going on… too many flavors.

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We walked around for a bit after brunch to digest and then jumped on an afternoon Architecture Tour. Whenever I go to a new city, I always try to go on as many tours as possible because I think it’s the best way to see the city and get a good overview of all the important pieces of information and dates. JP took this photo of my sister and I as we waited for the tour to start. Whoops. Not very good company!

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Our tour guide was fantastic and I learned so much about Chicago! As I mentioned in my last Chicago recap, Chicago completely burned down and was rebuilt in the 1900’s, so a lot of the buildings are relatively “new” and really interesting to look at since so many famous architectures came to Chicago to show their talents. I didn’t take many photo’s on the tour because it was SO COLD. Seriously… We were freezing because it was mostly in the shade and on the water. Brrr. I did get this one of the Sears (now, Willis) Tower, which is the tallest building in Chicago (right? I think it is…) since they count the tall things at the top in the measurement.

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I didn’t take this photo on the tour, but we did see them and talk about them, so I’ll post it now.

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Danielle and I immediately noticed these buildings when we arrived in Chicago. They were so cool looking, and when we found out that they consider themselves mini “cities”, we thought they were even cooler. Apparently they have everything in the building that a city would have, so basically if you lived in one, you’d never have to leave. A little weird, right?

After the tour, we warmed up by walking around the mall on Michigan Ave and then got a drink in the lobby of our hotel. Danielle and I went to JP’s to make dinner on Sunday night since we were tired of eating out and were craving healthy food. Ok, and, we wanted to shop at the amazing grocery store across from JP’s apartment building. It was like a mix between Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s… but better! It was two levels and had the best deli/hot bar section I’ve ever seen. I died and went to grocery store lover’s heaven!

We went simple for dinner and I just made a veggie and chicken dish, served over a fancy fettuccine with a nice, big salad on the side!

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Yum. It was so good! Danielle and I were in bed by 10pm on Sunday night and it was wonderful. Between traveling for work and then going right to Chicago to travel for fun, we were both exhausted!!! I think I fell asleep before my head hit the pillow 🙂

Monday morning we both got up and went to the gym and then hit the road for the airport.

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I traveled in comfy clothes, which I never do, because I had to sub a class on Monday night and was worried we might be delayed and I wouldn’t have time to change. Lucky for us, everything was on time (shocking for the Chicago airport) and I got home and to the gym with plenty of time to spare!

All in all, both trips were a blast. I might be going back to Chicago with a group of friends over the summer and I’m already looking forward to that possibility because I seriously loved Chicago. If I didn’t live in Boston but had to live in a city, I would choose Chicago. There was just something about it that I loved and I could see myself living there!

Thanks for following along through my recaps of the trip!

Questions for you: Have you done the architecture tour? If you had to pick a city to live in other than where you currently live, where would it be? Do you know of any BYOB restaurants in Boston?