2018 gift guide: Chicago lover

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2018 gift guide chicago gift ideas

It’s that time of year again! Holidays always seem to be the time of year where we feel totally stumped by the people we want to gift. Either they have everything, or they don’t “need” anything. Sometimes it’s a really nice gesture to take a deep look at the recipient’s personality and connect that to any gifts you want to give them. It’s a good tip to keep in mind year-round!

For travel lovers, it might be nice to help them pay homage to their favorite place. Since I love Chicago, that’s the theme of today, but many of these gifts are available for other cities and states as well. Let’s take a look!

Chicago Bears travel scarf: I have one of these Waypoint Goods travel scarves and I absolutely love it. I hear the Bears aren’t really something to be proud of, but there are plenty of other colors to choose from too! This cozy infinity scarf features a pocket big enough for your phone, cash, and earbuds. Carrying a purse has become such a burden, so I’ve pared down my everyday carry items to fit in this pocket, and I love it.

Chicago Skyline print: Local printers and artists at Foursided have my heart. This skyline print is my favorite, but there are tons of other options if you prefer a map motif, something more mid-century inspired, or want to pay tribute to the long-suffering Cubs.

CTA Stop Magnets: If you’re like me and live in everyday thankfulness for the vast CTA system, Transit Tees has the gifts for you! Tell your friends what line or stop is your favorite – Transit Tees makes magnets and pins for almost all of them. I got the boyfriend a Yellow line magnet as a housewarming present for the new house, so this is a great shop to keep in mind year-round!

Chicago Homesick Candle: Homesick Candles have been around for awhile, but I still totally love them. The Chicago scent hearkens Fannie May chocolates and the breezes from Lake Michigan. The Illinois version of the candle carries more floral scents.

Chicago Flashback: This book from the Tribune staff would be a great gift for a history buff. It not only showcases photos of our beautiful architecture, but also tells the stories of the builders and other notable Chicago residents.

Chicago Skyline Lego Set: Somehow, the older I get, the more I regress into enjoying Legos. I’ve always been freeform and abstract with mine, but this Chicago skyline set is really cool. My grandpa worked on the Sears Tower when it was being built, so it would be a fun homage to that. (And no, I will never call it the Willis Tower.)

Chicago-opoly: This fun Chicago-themed Monopoly-style board game would be a hit for me. I love attending and hosting game nights, and Monopoly is best suited for a long weekend because as everyone knows, it’s a marathon game! This is a great gift idea for someone you don’t know well, because the odds of them not liking fun is… well, pretty low.

Chicago-etched Whiskey Glass: I love these types of whiskey glasses. They’re well-made and the etched Chicago map makes it feel a little fancy.

How is holiday shopping for you? Do you find it difficult, or are you like me, finishing before Thanksgiving even hits?

November 19, 2018
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october 2018 book club

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october book club

What a crazy month October was. My boyfriend and I are moving in together, so the majority of the free time was spent packing up and cleaning his apartment, then unpacking and settling into the new apartment. Moving is exhausting and it’s not over yet, because I’m not moving my things until December. Phew! That left little time for reading, and to be honest, my attention span for reading was getting a bit short anyway. I did manage to get through a few titles this month, though!

My boyfriend got me a Kindle last fall, and turns out that has been the key to unlocking voracious reading. Dani and I also created our own reading challenge this year to increase our reading: 51 categories to prompt us to pick up books we wouldn’t typically read (or books that have languished in TBR-land for too long.) Here’s what I read this month, including what you should pick up and what you should let lay!

Like reading on your computer or mobile device? Check out Scribd – thousands of eBooks, audiobooks, magazines and more on your device!

Devil in the White City: Incredibly, it took me until now to pick up this book. I was expecting it to be about H.H. Holmes and his murders, but instead I was pleasantly surprised to find it to be more of a study of Chicago and the World’s Fair. Living in Chicago, I found it more interesting than ever, and it made me appreciate architecture in this beautiful city even more. Even if you aren’t an avid true crime aficionado, I recommend this book (but definitely read the print version, because the audiobook narrator felt s l o w.)

The Evidence of the Affair: This short story by Taylor Jenkins Reid, told in exchanged letters, was a nice dramatic read. Like many of her books, it doesn’t end up where you think it will, either. It’s free for Amazon Prime members, and a nice way to whet your appetite before Daisy Jones and the Six next spring!

Wondering how I read so much? My libraries use Libby – see if your library has a partnership, and check out the mobile app!

Everything Everything: I think I’ve had Dani’s copy of this book on my shelf for over a year and never gotten around to it. One night, I was in desperate need of some comfort food, and nothing else I was in the middle of felt good, so I picked this up. I read it in one sitting and absolutely loved it. Another book that left me flabbergasted at the ending, I just didn’t see the twist coming at all. Great reading for a cozy night in when you need to disengage from your brain for awhile.

Interpreter of Maladies: This is a book my boyfriend suggested to fill a challenge prompt last winter, and it took a long time to get around to it. It’s amazing – and easy to see why it’s a Pulitzer winner. Though I really enjoyed it, it did feel like it took a lot of effort to get through. Despite that, I absolutely recommend it – the worlds Lahiri creates are rich, vibrant, and each story’s ending feels organic and real.

What about you? Did you read anything spooky this month?

October 31, 2018
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september 2018 book club

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Like last month, September was a slower month of reading. I didn’t read as many books, but I think the page length evened out as I read some longer books this month. It also featured a re-read, which maybe shouldn’t even count! As the year starts to end, I’m assessing the holes in the reading challenge I still need to fill, while also keeping up with my library requests which are coming in fast and furious now.

My boyfriend got me a Kindle last fall, and turns out that has been the key to unlocking voracious reading. Dani and I also created our own reading challenge this year to increase our reading: 51 categories to prompt us to pick up books we wouldn’t typically read (or books that have languished in TBR-land for too long.) Here’s what I read this month, including what you should pick up and what you should let lay!

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry: Neil deGrasse Tyson is such a gift. He narrates the audiobook (which I listened to in one sitting on the way to and wandering around Riot Fest) and presents these huge concepts in really relatable, digestable bites. It’s also short enough that anyone could read (or listen to) really quickly, so it’s definitely worth picking up!

Broad Band: The Untold Story of Women Who Made the InternetThis book was amazing. I can’t say enough how highly I recommend it. I’ve heard Grace Hopper’s name, but I never knew she was essentially responsible for modern programming. I didn’t know that “computers” were actually a job at first, all computations done manually, and usually by women. I had never heard of the ENIAC 6, or about so many other things in this book, and so many women who kind of blazed a path and a place for women on the internet, in computer science, and technology.

Like reading on your computer or mobile device? Check out Scribd – thousands of eBooks, audiobooks, magazines and more on your device!

Night Moves: Hoooo boy, did I have feelings about this book. I really wanted to like it. I wanted to let go of some of my recent opinions about Jessica Hopper. Some backstory: I was a really big fan of hers in college, and basically up until last year. And then during a run of shows I attended by my favorite band, she wrote some not-so-nice tweets about girls in the front row of those shows (saying she wanted to write a “fanzine” about us, and insinuating we were victims of the patriarchy and brought to these shows by men rather than attending on our own volition.) So I really wanted to put all that aside and go back to liking her and her writing again… but I just couldn’t. That band is featured in this book (really the only one that is name dropped at all, which feels out of place) including incorrect facts about what band member plays what instrument. We get it, you know the band. No one is impressed. Ugh. There was also a real absence of women, and I get that it’s supposed to be a journal based around that time in her life and that maybe she only had one friend of a friend who was a girl, but it felt lacking to me. Maybe someone else would like it, but it didn’t work for me.

I do agree with her on one thing, though – Chicago truly is the city that doesn’t give a shit.

The Year of Less: I put off reading this for a long time. It’s written by Cait Flanders, a PF blogger I used to follow religiously (she was formerly Blonde on a Budget, then later rebranded to her own name once she was no longer writing anonymously.) This is another book I was skeptical of, and I’lll totally cop to why – I was jealous of her. I’ve been jealous of a long time. Her blog was wildly successful, she was able to become a super successful freelance writer, and she’s a minimalism dream. So I didn’t want to read the book because I didn’t want my nose to feel “rubbed” in it. I listened to the audiobook on Hoopla (Cait narrates it) and ended up loving it. She likens consumerism to other kinds of addictions, talks about skeptical family members, and even the emotional connection to stuff and things. I really enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to my own six-month non-essential shopping ban starting next year.

@dessa is as always funny, smart, charming, inspiring, and a lot of other superlatives, idk. #MyOwnDevices is such a good book, go get it and read it and post about it and buy it for everyone you know so she can write me another one.
and also so she can buy me a bobby pin to replace the one I let her borrow in LA.

My Own Devices: This is a re-read, and I normally wouldn’t include that here, but this book came out recently so I wanted to hype it again. Dessa’s creative non-fiction book of essays is well-written, touching, and thought-provoking. She strings one story thread throughout the book – through different essays and sections, the story of her long-term relationship and how she finally used science to get over him. She gave a talk here a few weeks ago and I got to ask her some questions. If you’re anywhere near the book tour, I definitely recommend going – Dessa is super intelligent and I felt so inspired throughout. (And if you check out the next Chicago event, you’ll see me there!)

The Book of Essie: This YA book has been getting a lot of buzz and was a Book of the Month club pick, so I was pretty excited about it. The family in it seems to be based loosely on the Duggars, and it’s a story about their baby girl who gets pregnant and appears to not have a say in the choice that’s made for it. It’s an interesting perspective, and I liked how the manipulation in it wasn’t necessarily negative.

Wondering how I read so much? My libraries use Libby – see if your library has a partnership, and check out the mobile app!

Bitch Planet Vol. 1: Evan suggested this to me months ago, but I just got around to it. I’ve never read comics before (except the Archie comics when I was younger) so it was a little hard for me to adjust to. It took awhile to get into the flow of not only reading it, but piecing out how the story started. I did really love it though, and definitely recommend!

An American Marriage: I read this to fill our prompt for “An Oprah book club pick” and because there’s just been so much buzz about it being the book of the year. I found it to be… just okay. The story itself is of course infuriating – a black man accused by a white woman, then prosecuted without evidence – but I found one of the main narrators so unlikeable for the start that I almost quit reading. I powered through and I did like the ending, but it was a challenge to get there since I disliked one of them so much.

What else should I read next?

October 1, 2018
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august 2018 book club

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august book club

August was a bit of a slow reading month for me. I thought I would get more in – my mom’s surgery was this month, which meant some time hanging out and “relaxing” in the hospital, and I was also spending some quality solo time while I was back up north. It didn’t work out quite that way, which is okay – some of the library books came and went without even being cracked open. Whoops.

My boyfriend got me a Kindle last fall, and turns out that has been the key to unlocking voracious reading. Dani and I also created our own reading challenge this year to increase our reading: 51 categories to prompt us to pick up books we wouldn’t typically read (or books that have languished in TBR-land for too long.) Here’s what I read this month, including what you should pick up and what you should let lay!

Tangerine: I have some mixed feelings about this book, in the same way I had mixed feelings about The Wife Between Us. Maybe these types of psychological mysteries aren’t for me. I did like it, but I got more and more frustrated at the gaslighting of the main character (which she’d been victim to for years) and there were a few holes in the story, but overall, I’d recommend it. Especially if you’re okay with the “hero” not having the happiest ending.

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: Is it weird to say that I really enjoyed this book? Is it weirder to say that I read the bulk of it in the hospital during my mom’s surgery? The author writes gently, includes cute illustrations, and talks about her own reconciliation with her advancing age. It really helped me get focused on my own purge and wardrobe clean, and I definitely recommend this.

Like reading on your computer or mobile device? Check out Scribd – thousands of eBooks, audiobooks, magazines and more on your device!

Fury: True Tales of a Good Girl Gone Ballistic: I love Koren’s first novel Smashed because it resonates so much with me and the way I drank in college… and for a bit after. This book was… fine. I didn’t relate to this one the way I did Smashed, nor did I expect to, but she did raise some points that resonated: fury and anger, both my own and of others, has always been portrayed as “bad” to me. I did really enjoy how this story was essentially a catalog of a broken relationship – told under the influence of anger. It’s a nice study of who and what can cause extreme emotions in us and others.

As I Lay Dying: This took me a long time to get through, and to be honest – I didn’t get it. I found it hard to get into the dialect, and then ended up missing out on a lot of the humor. It’s one of Evan’s favorite books, though, so I read it on his recommendation for our reading challenge “A Classic” prompt. I’m glad I read it, but it wasn’t for me.

Sisterhood of the Squared Circle: Spoiler alert, I’m really into wrestling. I don’t actually have a lot of backstory about how it originated beyond the carnivals, and even less about the history of women’s wrestling in particular. This book explores the history, some of the more problematic figures and how they essentially controlled entire generations of female wrestlers, and mostly stays away from the condescending language around the ~evolution~ of women’s wrestling… mostly. I enjoyed it, and if you like wrestling, it’s a good, engaging read.

Wondering how I read so much? My libraries use Libby – see if your library has a partnership, and check out the mobile app!

The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer: I loved this book. I’m late on the Twin Peaks train and though we haven’t finished season two yet, I knew this book came out between seasons so it was safe to read. I thought it was really well written from Laura’s perspective – you see and understand the things that happened that made her become who she became, and get even more backstory on her relationship with the town’s other residents. (Spoiler alert – there’s another main character that she slept with that’s never addressed in the show.) If you like Twin Peaks and haven’t read this yet, I highly, highly recommend!

What were you reading this month?

August 31, 2018
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7 companies hiring remote employees this month: August 2018

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Customer Service Representative at Tumblebooks: Tumblebooks is a new app to me, but I’m super excited about it. Similar to Hoopla or Libby, they provide children’s and middle grade books to libraries for lending on mobile devices. I popped it on my iPad the other day and set it up with my library card, and there’s a really deep variety of books there. They’re looking for a CSR to field support inquiries by email and phone and help set up new member accounts. This would be an amazing entry to a growing company for anyone who loves books!

Taco Unicorn at HeyTaco!: HeyTaco is a Slack integration for teams to build each other up and motivate them, which I think is such a great idea. Especially in remote companies, often teams might not know what great work other parts of the company are up to. HeyTaco helps recognize company-wide, so the whole team can heap kudos (aka “tacos”) on each other. Since it’s a growing company, they’re looking for someone in customer service to set their own job description. This could be a great part-time remote job for establishing your niche.

Looking for an empowering community of women in technology? Check out Tech Ladies for networking opportunities, exclusive job openings, and fun local events!

Senior Event Operations Coordinator at InVision: InVision is a graphic design app, and they’re expanding their event services team. This person will serve as a concierge for event attendees as well as the rest of the traveling marketing staff. InVision is a fully distributed company, but being on a traveling marketing team is one of the best ways to interface often with fellow staff members!

Social Media Engagement Coordinator at MeetEdgar: MeetEdgar is one of the dream remote companies to work for – they offer a housekeeping reimbursement to their teams! This part-time role is ideal for someone looking to transition to remote work, or even for a college student. You’ll be creating and sharing social content, and sticking to a collaborative content calendar!

Community Manager at Thinkful: Thinkful is a pretty cool new-ish company in the education sector. The Community Manager will help the marketing team raise brand awareness, organize free coding classes and events, and schedule and coordinate staff. Benefits include free tuition for Thinkful, so if you’re in marketing or event operations and looking to pivot to more hands-on code, this is an awesome opportunity.

Associate Product Manager at USA Today/Gannett: If you’re a technical writer, this job sounds awesome (and sounds especially exciting to me.) You’ll be user testing, writing a high volume of content, working with and finding brand partners, and consistently review and evaluate performance. This would be a great starter remote job for a blogger – it involves a lot of things we do anyway, and if you add those things to your resume, it can help you get ins with positions like this.

Freelance Writer at LitCharts: This would be a great side gig for an English or lit major. If you know classic literature really well and want to help others understand it better, check out this opportunity for LitChats. It’s flexible, so you can write as much or as little as you want, on their approval!

If you work remotely, do you tend to work from home, from a coffee shop or co-working space, or do you travel often?

August 22, 2018
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