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Hello Genki Friends!  Today is a thrilling day for me since I finally get to pick Genki Husband back up from the Airport from his business trip.  He was gone for about three days and it was possibly the longest three days ever!  I know, I know, we’re forever in love but I’m not ashamed – this man is a keeper for sure!  So I got to my work this morning on the computer and then headed off to my parents house to pick up their exchange student and my mother.  They both wanted a free trip to Chicago so I was happy to have them come along for the trip. It’s about 3-4 hours from my current location so it’s not a bad drive (normally I sing and dance as I drive the entire route) but it’s always nice to have others along for the ride.  Unfortunately with them along, I had to reframe from taking photos for their privacy.  I did enlightened them and teach them of the ways of Ikea and Mitsuwa (a Japanese store chain).  They had the time of their lives (or so they said).  It was a really nice day out and I got to bring Genki Husband back home with me, so it was a win-win situation.

Still working through our Big Apple Bagel stash from last week. Today I had the chance to test out the Garlic Bagel (vegan). Oh my was it ever good! I’m a garlic lover though so if you are unlike me, you might not appreciate it as much. Garlic Lovers though, unite and enjoy!

Vegan Lunch: Mock Eggless Salad on top of a bed of mixed organic greens. So delicious and healthy! Mmmm I wanted to make this eggless salad so it could marinate overnight and be ready the next day when Genki Husband was back and we were all tired.

After lunch I had to start the trip and was laughing when I found our car’s latest ‘accessory’. It was a sunny, warm day so my mother-in-law’s cat was keeping cool under our car. She looked at me as if “how could you ever wake me”.

Finally we got on the road and I drove the two girls through Chicago Metro. Here’s Chicago from just off the Skyway Toll Bridge.

Mitsuwa Japanese Store in Arlington Heights, Illinois. This entire section was Hello Kitty! My dream land. I had problems holding myself back from purchasing it all! It was sooo hard! I just had to remember that we were moving and had to fit everything from here on out in our Prius. ha-ha

Cell Phone Lot at Chicago O’hare Airport. There is a large departure/arrival board that updates continuously. Very easy to do pickups from this parking lot that is free.

Cheesecake Factory – who knew they had vegan options and the waitstaff actually knows what ‘vegan’ means. This is a great option if you are eating out with others that are not vegan. You will have to modify your meals though.

Cheesecake Factory does have Vegan options – you have to omit a few things such as cheese but it is no problem. This was the veggie burger which is “A Delicious “Burger” Made with Brown Rice, Farro, Couscous, Mushrooms, Black Beans and Onion. Served on a Toasted Bun with Melted Fontina Cheese, Lettuce, Tomato, Pickles and Mayo” So obviously you have to omit the cheese & mayo. Make sure to mention you are vegan so that the sauces aren’t brought out.  This is what I ordered.  Genki Husband ordered a small dish since he had just eaten a sandwich he picked up at Baker’s in California (vegetarian burger made vegan).

Cheesecake Factory does have Vegan options- make sure you tell them you are vegan so the appetizers and entrees are made without cheese (mostly everything comes with cheese).  These are the Portabella Mushroom Avocado and Zucchini Fries.  This is on the Small Plates and Snacks option listed as ‘ A Unique combination of Portabella mushrooms, avocado slices and fresh zucchini, breaded and fried.”  It does come with two dipping sauces however neither are vegan.  Be sure if you order this to mention you are vegan because the breading does come with cheese on top.  These were pretty good but a little strange.