Category Archives: chicago

playlist: winter blues 2016

Count on Chicago to still be dealing with snow and frigid temperatures in the early days of March. As I sit here, writing and working and waiting for spring, here are the songs that are still currently making up my playlist:


[image via]

Michigan – The Milk Carton Kids
The Devil’s Tears – Angus & Julia Stone
First Floor People – Barcelona
The Mute (Acoustic) – Radical Face
Everything Starts Where It Ends – Lovedrug
Re: Stacks (Bon Iver Cover) – Oscar Isaac
Lost at Sea – Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s
Big Black Car – Gregory Alan Isakov
Meadows – Wild Child
Wait – M83

I’m hoping to make a concentrated effort to share something before leaving for Italy at the end of the month. I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be turn 30 this year and what I’d like to do before then. This might be the weekend to do it, considering that there are at least two more days of snowy weather headed our way.


currently, september edition


Oh hey, it’s September! The month started out great; Alex and I did some housesitting in the ‘burbs over the long holiday. The Renegade Craft Fair was last weekend and I finally got to take Alex to Xoco, which is still super tasty. I’m also convinced they have some of the best horchata that I’ve ever had there. And this weekend is Riot Fest! It’s basically been nonstop around here.

Listening to: I am beyond excited for Copeland’s new album! Their newest song, Ordinary, is so good and is the exact sort of music I listen to in the fall; soft, sweet, and soothing. They’re one of my favorite bands and recently reunited. I’ve only seen them once live and it was actually during their farewell tour; I was so bummed at the thought of never hearing new music from them again.

Thinking about: Oh I dunno… the fact that I got ENGAGED TWO WEEKS AGO? It’s pretty crazy. Alex caught me completely and totally by surprise; I never realized that he had been out and about with his parents looking for jewelers to custom make my ring. I came home before Labor Day weekend complaining about a tooth ache and my lack of motivation for going to the gym that evening. He responded by asking him to marry him. I’m sure he’s looking forward to dealing with my whining for the rest of EVER now.

Looking forward to: Thanksgiving! Ok, it’s a couple of months away, but my parents are coming into town for the first time in years to meet Alex’s family and spend the holiday here with us. I’m so excited to take them around Chicago. So far, I think I’ll take them to Eataly (which my dad is super excited about), the Christkindlmarket, and possibly ice skating downtown.

Reading: About to crack into Mockingjay again to refresh my memory before watching the final Hunger Games movie. After that, I should probably make a list of books to either buy myself or ask for this Christmas.

Watching: Brooklyn Nine Nine and Bojack Horseman. Alex and I have rewatched the first season of B99 because it’s so freaking hilarious. I can’t wait for the new season to start (along with the return of all shows I watch). Bojack Horseman is a strange but weirdly funny show from Netflix that stars Will Arnett as a washed up sitcom star who is also (you guessed it!) a horse. It somehow works, so I recommend you check it out.

Making me happy: New sweaters and boots. Abuelita chocolate creamer (which I never knew I needed until now because it’s AMAZING). The return of pumpkin beers.

Fall is basically around the corner, if not already here. The temperature has dipped significantly in the last couple of days, so I may as well embrace it, right?

making the most of summer


Man, it really feels like summer is flying by. My birthday (this Friday!) really snuck up on me. Didn’t I just get back from Austin?

This summer so far has been a series of highs and lows; lots of great food and drinks, sunny weather, and adventures. But I’ve also had two good friends move away (to LA and Denver, respectively) and work has had me stressed out lately. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love summers in Chicago. Like everyone else, I’m trying to make the most of the warm weather here while it lasts. Most of my weekends have been jam-packed with things to see and do, but a lot of it hasn’t really ended up on my blog or other social media channels. There’s a reason for this though and that’s because I’m trying to make a honest effort to enjoy the moment instead of being busy trying to capture it.

I can still remember my favorite summer to date: the summer of 2007. It was the summer before my senior year of college and when I turned 21. I lived in an apartment with four friends and no air-conditioning while juggling three jobs (working at my university’s summer newspaper, interning at a magazine, and working at a local cafe). It was also the first summer I spent in Chicago and it still feels like it’s been the best one so far. When we all weren’t working, my group of friends and I ran around the city in our free time, taking everything in. This was the summer they filmed The Dark Knight in Chicago, so I felt like we were always on the lookout for the Batmobile. On late nights when we couldn’t sleep, we’d drive down Lake Shore Drive and through the empty downtown streets.

While I have great memories of that summer and lots of pictures from it, we didn’t have smartphones back then. I wasn’t compelled to constantly check in on Foursquare, or check Twitter and Facebook, or perfectly style photos for Instagram. These are bad habits a lot of us have and because of them, we can miss out on a lot.

This past weekend, I had brunch with my boyfriend and friends at the Trenchermen and then headed to Wicker Park Fest. We topped off the afternoon with a pitcher of sangria at Black Bull Tapas. Not only was it fun and relaxing, it was also a phone-free day. I left my phone in my bag and instead paid attention to the people I was with and what was going on around me. While I didn’t capture any moments throughout the day, I realized I didn’t always need to. And imagine my surprise when I finally did look at my phone and my battery was only at 90%; if you’re like me, you’re used to see your battery at around 50% (or lower) by the early evening.


There’s nothing wrong with stopping to take a photo while doing something fun or memorable. The photos I’ve included in this post were from my friend Matt’s last night in Chicago; we bought drinks and snacks and hung out on his rooftop for hours. I knew it was an event I quickly want to capture (and ok, post to Instagram) before focusing on my friends.

So yes, take some photos. But after you do, put your phone away (or hell, even turn it off) and be in the moment. Enjoy what you’re experiencing instead of trying to get as many likes as possible. Summer, while fleeting, becomes much more memorable that way.

How’s your summer so far?

currently, june edition


[photo courtesy of death to photo stock]

It’s crazy to think that it’s been four years now since I moved back to Chicago. So much has happened in such a short span of time. I never would have guessed I would have ended up where I am now in life, which is a good thing. Anyway, it’s been a minute or two since my last post, so here’s what I’ve been up to lately:

Listening to: I’m really into “This is Gospel” by Panic! At the Disco right now. I haven’t listened to a lot of their music lately, but I used to be a big fan when they first started out. I remember meeting Brendon Urie when they opened for Fall Out Boy and he was so sweet (and baby-faced, even though we’re the same age). I’ve had this song on repeat lately, so it’s definitely going to end up on my summer mix.

Thinking about: New workouts to try out. I’ve been trying to fit in a workout, either at home or at the gym, at least four times a week. After a very long hiatus, I’ve finally gotten back into running. Fun fact: I used to be a runner and wanted to be on the track team in high school, but I didn’t pass my physical because the nurse thought I had a heart murmur (I didn’t). So I ended up being a theater geek and marching band nerd instead. In addition to running, I’m still trying to find longer workout videos that incorporate more weight training or yoga.

Looking forward to: GOING ON VACATION. I’ve been talking about this for MONTHS, but now it’s actually happening in one week. Ahh, so excited to get away and drink all the beer and eat all the food! I’ve been finalizing our plans for while we’re in Austin, including see the Mountain Goats at the Mohawk and seeing the new X-Men movie at the Alamo Drafthouse.

Reading: I finally finished Loteria but have yet to start Tell the Wolves I’m Home. I’ve been so lazy about reading lately; I hope I can change that this summer. Maybe I should join a book club?

Watching: GAME OF THRONES. I am beyond excited/nervous for the season finale this weekend. Oberyn Martell was one of my faves and his last episode was so brutal to watch (I literally screamed for the entire last three minutes). I really don’t know how they’ll outdo it, but I’m sure they’ll keep me on the edge of my seat the whole time.

Making me happy: Finally having some warm weather to enjoy. If anyone needs me, you can find me at Fountainhead’s rooftop on any given weekend.

chicago neighborhoods: andersonville

It’s been a while since I’ve written about Andersonville. Actually, according to my blog, it’s been almost two years. Now that I live closer to this ‘hood, I’m hoping to make visits to this area a regular thing.

Alex and I spent a chunk of Saturday afternoon in Andersonville, beginning with lunch at Jerry’s. This is their 2nd location; the original is in Wicker Park. It’s a great place for a burger and some beer.

andersonville2andersonville1 Other great restaurants in the area: Hamburger Mary’s for yet more burgers and craft beer, Acre for casual, rustic American food, and if you’re vegetarian like me, Reza’s is great for veggie-friendly Middle Eastern food. If you’re in the area for brunch, you can’t beat the Bongo Room.

Afterwards, we walked over to one of my favorite local shops: the Andersonville Galleria. It’s a collection of handmade goods from local merchants; it has everything from art to clothing to food. It’s three stories tall and it’s highly unlikely you’ll walk out of there empty-handed, so don’t say I didn’t warn you. I can never resist picking up a bag of salted bourbon caramels and Alex picked up some homemade soap (that smells damn manly).


I can never go to Andersonville without stopping at Hopleaf for a pint, so we ended up at the bar for a quick drink before heading out for more shopping. Hopleaf is easily one of the best beer bars in the city and has a reputation for keeping great beers and ciders on tap and in stock. I’ve never been disappointed there.

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The best thing about Andersonville is all the vintage shops to check out. We ended up at Brimfield, one of my favorites. It’s an eclectic mix of stuff, mostly Americana (think old liquor bottles, wool blankets, and taxidermy). It looks like everything in there came from old cabins and homes around the Midwest and I sorta love it.

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Alex walked out with a glass decanter he is currently keeping whiskey in and I had restrain myself from grabbing a candle I definitely don’t need. Other great vintage shops in the area to check out are Roost, Scout, and White Attic.

I didn’t make it to one of my favorite places in the area, which is The Coffee Studio in the northern part of the neighborhood. I’ll definitely swing by soon, since I love buying their delicious pre-made iced coffee mix. It’s bound to be warm enough for iced coffee soon… I hope.

Once summer hits, I’m looking forward to doing more posts like this. I never get tired of visiting other neighborhoods in this city. :)

and back again.


So, I was home in Chicago for approximately two weeks before I had to get back on a plane and head to San Diego for work. To go from a winter wonderland to warm, sunny California was a bit jarring, to say the least. This was a work trip and I was indoors for the majority of each day but it was so, so nice to step outside for a few minutes and grab an iced coffee, all the way knowing it’s the middle of January.

I got home on Saturday and landed smack dab in the middle of what looked like a mild snowstorm. While I was really looking forward to being home, seeing Alex, and sleeping in my own bed, I have to say that I definitely didn’t miss the frigid temps and icy paths that have been plaguing Chicago for weeks now.

Since I have no immediate plans to travel again anytime soon, it’s time to try and get back into the swing of things. These random bursts of snow make it difficult to get to the gym regularly, but I’ve been pretty good about working out at home when I can’t brave the snow-covered streets. I also want to start working on my year-long goals, including what I’m currently calling Operation: Treat Yoself. But that’s for another post later this week. :)

How’s 2014 been going so far for you?

currently, december edition


Photo from: My dining room, haha. It’s Alex and I’s first Christmas tree together. I’ve had roommates put up trees in the past years so I never had to put in any effort. But now that it’s just me and Alex, my unabashed love for Christmas has come shining through and I dragged him to Target the day after Thanksgiving to pick up a tree and some ornaments. I would love to have a real one, but with cats around, a plastic one is a better alternative.

Is this year really on the verge of ending? It’s crazy to think about. In the time since I last posted, I celebrated Thanksgiving, finished painting our new apartment, wrapped up my Christmas shopping, visited Eataly (if you’re in Chicago, go immediately because it’s amazing in there), and dealt with the recent onslaught of snow and sub-zero temperatures.

Listening to: Christmas music, pretty much nonstop these days. I’M NOT EVEN SORRY. Oh, and if you watched Orange is the New Black, check out Danielle Brooks (Taystee) and Uzo Aduba (Crazy Eyes) do this super adorable Christmas melody together. I’m obsessed with it!

Thinking about: Heading home in a week. My annual pilgrimage to Texas is a holiday tradition at this point, but I have to say, I’ll never get to used to have a 5 am flight every year. Thankfully my cab ride is already scheduled, so all I have to do is drag myself out of bed at 4 am (ugh).

Looking forward to: Celebrating Alex’s birthday on the 19th, even though he’s not exactly excited about the big 3-1. He has requested pizza and beer, so we’ll have dinner at a local pizzeria in our neighborhood and leave it at that. I’m just glad that we’re both fans of low-key birthday celebrations; even trying together with friends at a bar can be exhausting sometimes.

Reading: No books at the moment. All I seem to read these days are blogs and any news stories that pop up in my Twitter feed. I had plenty of books on my Christmas wish list though, so here’s hoping I get some of them.

Watching: American Horror Story and Almost Human. AHS: Coven is just, to put it lightly, batshit insane. It gets so ridiculous sometimes and yet I can’t stop watching. Curse you, Ryan Murphy! Almost Human is a new series on FOX that’s actually pretty interesting; it’s like a sci-fi version of Law and Order. We don’t have cable in the apartment but FOX streams all its shows on Hulu Plus so yay!

Making me happy: Christmas decorations everywhere. Mexican hot chocolate. Seasonal beers. Warm, fuzzy blankets. Cuddling in bed while it snows. Making plans for 2014.

Are you ready for this year to end? Are you already making plans like I am?

chicago in september

I think that September has become one of my favorite months since moving back to Chicago. Summer festivals are winding down, but there’s still so much to see and do. There is literally something to do every weekend this month and I sort of love it. Here’s what I plan on checking out every weekend this month.

This weekend, Sept 8th and 9th:


I really love the Renegade Craft Fair. This is my third year straight attending (and I always blog about it), only this year it won’t be right outside my door and I’ll be going without Maura. But I’m still determined to have fun (even if I have to drag Alex along with me) and buy a few things for our new apartment (more on that later!).

The weekend of Sept. 14th and 15th:



This is actually my first year ever going to Riot Fest. I initially wanted to go to see Fall Out Boy and a few other bands but it looks like I’m only going on Saturday and they play Friday night (BOO). However, Blink 182 is the headliner for that day and my 14 year-old pop-punk loving self is secretly psyched to to see them. Throw in a few other bands I’m looking forward to checking out, including one of my favorites, Stars, and it should be an awesome time. The carnival will probably help too. :)

The weekend of Sept. 21st and 22nd:


I’m a big fan of Andersonville but have yet to check out any of the street fests in this neighborhood. So when I hear about Andersonville’s City Made Fest, I knew I had to add it to my calendar. All the participating breweries, bands, and artists will all be Chicago-based, so it’s sure to be awesome.

The weekend of Sept. 28th and 29th:


I really hope I can make it to Design Harvest this year. Alex and I went in 2011 and it’s the perfect street fest to welcome fall with. It showcases local furniture and home design, along with some awesome drinks and street food. That year we also discovered the amazingly cool Salvage One and I would love to go back. Design Harvest would be perfect in terms of furnishing our new place but at the moment it looks like we’ll be moving that weekend so I’m not sure if we can swing it.

And yes, we have found a place and are indeed moving! The place we got was one we actually lost to another couple but the current tenant contacted me last week to ask if we were still interested and we immediately jumped on the opportunity to apply. I’m just so glad we can finally stop looking. Apartment hunting is seriously stressful business. We’ll be sealing the deal this week and will also learn our move-in date. Now it’s time to get ready to decorate and furnish!

What are your plans for the month? Got something to do every weekend like me?

summer weekends: markets and beer

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I’ve been wanting to go to the Green City Market all summer long. It’s probably one of the biggest farmers’ markets in Chicago and the last time I went was actually in 2010 (!) so I was determined to stop by.

Alex and I got up relatively early (for a Saturday anyway) and ventured to Lincoln Park. And thankfully, Green City Market was totally worth the trek. Alex found a handful of peppers you can’t find in grocery stores and immediately bought them. I also bought some delicious peaches and a bag of cheese curds straight from Wisconsin. We had a light lunch in the form of veggie tamales and homemade apple mint soda. This market is always pretty busy, but there are so many vendors to check out. It was pretty much the best way to start the day.






From there, we headed back to our neighborhood to begin a long walking tour of the areas we’d like to consider living in. Our lease is up at end of September and we’re on hunt every day for a new place. But before we got started, we stopped by Half Acre’s tap room for a quick pint:


Alex had the Sky Devil Saison and I had a glass of the Summer Rules pale ale. Honestly, I can’t believe we’ve lived within walking distance of this place for so long and have yet to actually stop by the tap room or take a brewery tour. We’ll definitely have to go again before we move (they tap new kegs on Friday!) and also take part in a tour.

I have to say, I did a ridiculous amount of walking this weekend. And luckily for me, I discovered Moves right before our weekend-long walk around our favorite neighborhoods. Moves is an app that tracks how many steps you take per day, much like a pedometer, but also knows when you’ve been cycling or running. It’s a free, simple way of see how much you move per day. The app doesn’t drain your phone’s battery and keeps tracks of where you whenever you use it. So far, I’ve seen that on an average work day, I walk about 4,500 to 5,000 steps. This weekend, I walked over 14,000 steps both Saturday AND Sunday. That’s five miles! It’s really cool to see how far I walked, but I could also definitely feel it in my legs and feet.

This work week promises to be crazy busy and it’s only Tuesday. But as always, there always another warm summer weekend to look forward to. :)

i need the smell of summer, i need its noises in my ears.

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Hello from the shiny, new version of my blog! I can’t believe it’s been two months since I last posted, but since I got back from my trip to Central America, I wanted to revamp my site and also take some time off from blogging. So, I shuffled everything back over to WordPress, brushed up on my CSS skills, and asked the super awesome Liz for her help with design (and she did an amazing job!). And voila! was born.

I’m still tweaking things here and there, but I love the new look so far. And for my first official post on my new site, I thought I’d recap my summer so far:

* Drinking and dining al fresco (pictured first is a drink called ¿Por Que No? from Takito Kitchen. SO GOOD.
* Back porch hangs in the suburbs. Alex and I did house-sat for his folks during the 4th of July weekend and we took full advantage of their backyard.
* Street festivals galore! The best so far was Square Roots in our neighborhood, where local breweries came together to serve up some great craft brews.
* Pitchfork Fest on Saturday. We didn’t get tickets to Lollapalooza this year, so we hit up Pitchfork for a day to take in a day of music.
* Weekly Sunday hangs with my friends to watch True Blood. This show has gotten so ridiculous but we CAN’T stop watching!

August begins today and I feel like summer is just getting started. There’s still so much more to see and do before fall returns in October.Also, today just happens to be my birthday. I’m now 27! To celebrate, I have the day off tomorrow to treat myself to a trip to the salon and some shopping, followed by dinner at a new restaurant in Logan Square.

How is your summer so far?