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three-day long weekend itinerary for Chicago

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Chicago is the greatest place in the world, and I’m not the only person who thinks so!

There’s something to do 24 hours a day here, which makes it the perfect city for a three-day weekend vacation. You’ll get a lot of bang for your buck with its easy accessibility (two airports, an Amtrak and Greyhound station, and plenty of city-wide public transportation to get you where you want to go), things to do in any weather or season, and relatively central location.

Day One

Spending your first evening downtown is great, because you can knock out a lot of city “must do”‘s in one location. Grant Park, Chicago’s front lawn, is home to the Bean, Buckingham Fountain, and many other public artworks. Take a selfie at the cloud, grab a Divvy bike and admire Lake Michigan from the Lakefront Trail, and in the winter months, skate on the ice rink!

Rainy day? Stay dry and see the city anyway on one of the many bus tours! From crime and mobster history to architecture and Chicago lore, there’s no lack of ways to

For dinner, start your Chicago food tour off right at Pequod’s Pizza, which I think is the best deep dish in the city! They also have thin crust and many non-pizza options as well.

Afterward, hop on a Divvy Bike to burn off some of that carb-y energy and head over to the Riverwalk, where you can take your pick of a post-dinner treat while walking the trail. It’s also near the Magnificent Mile so you can scratch that shopping itch at souvenir shops, Water Tower Place, or other major retailers like Apple, Louis Vuitton, and more. (Like a Nutella Cafe. You’re welcome.)

Day Two

On Saturday morning, grab a coffee from Fairgrounds or Goddess and the Baker and stop by the free Chicago Cultural Center. With rotating exhibits and stunning architecture, it’s a popular spot for new visitors and locals alike.

Then, head over to Old Town and grab a table at The Whale or Farmhouse, depending on your party’s tastes. Stick around the neighborhood to hit another one of the city’s most “can’t miss” institutions, the Lincoln Park Zoo! They’re open 365 days a year and is always free of charge. (Concessions are surprisingly affordable, too.) Visit Alexander Camelton, check out some presentations by zookeepers and volunteers (I especially love learning about the polar bears and sea lions) and walk around another one of the city’s amazing parks. If your zoo day is rained out, the Chicago History Museum sits at the south end of the park.

Hop on the Blue Line to the Damen stop to spend the rest of the afternoon in trendy Wicker Park and Bucktown. Grab a tasty treat from Stan’s Donuts, stop in to bookstores VolumesMyopic, and Quimby’s (all independent, all great for their own reasons,) and pop into Corbett vs. Dempsey, a free art and culture museum in the Dusty Groove building. Wicker Park is also a great spot to grab an Italian Beef, a classic meal – Jay’s Beef is easy to get to.

Rainy day? Try out an escape room – we have them all over the city. If you don’t like solving puzzles, try a more traditional arcade, like Headquarters Beercade or Emporium. My favorite is Ignite, a video game lounge in Skokie and Avondale – I could play Rock Band for hours and hours (and have on more than one occasion!)

For dinner, since you’re already in Wicker Park, make a beeline for Small Cheval. The little sister restaurant of Au Cheval, it’s more affordable and more relaxed, but still serves one of the city’s best burgers. Their shakes and fries aren’t anything to shake a stick at, either!

The Second City has been home to more successful comedians than you can count. They have several stages and several shows every night, so do yourself a favor and stop by to see the next big things.

Afterward, hop over to Humboldt Park and my favorite bar in the city for a nightcap – The California Clipper is a dimly lit former 1930’s movie theater with a speakeasy feel. Opening at 8, it can often be empty for the first few hours, which always makes me feel like I have some kind of secret gem in the city. That doesn’t last long, though – once the music starts and 10pm approaches, you’re lucky to grab a spot to stand, and the party keeps going until 3am. Grab a Pago Pago with old-fashioned shaved ice… so good.

Day Three

Spend a low-key Sunday morning in the Andersonville neighborhood. Foursided, Woolly Mammoth, and Women and Children First are just a few of the funky specialty shops you’ll find here. When your feet are tired, your arm is weighed down by reusable shopping bags (Chicago has a bag tax, which will add up after a long weekend!), and your wallet is feeling light, grab one of the best brunches of your life at Big Jones.

On your way out of town, head south to Pilsen. This up-and-coming neighborhood is growing fast – in the span of a year there have been so many new businesses, restaurants, and events popping up that there’s always something new to do!

Grab dinner at the award-winning Dusek’s in the historic Thalia Hall building, or head downstairs to one of my favorite spots in the city, Punch House. With a cool 70’s vibe, boozy punch on tap, low lighting, board games and cozy booths, it’s a great spot to unwind and end your time in the city!

None of these activities sound like your speed? Don’t worry – the city of Chicago’s got your back. Request a Chicago Greeter to show you around and get a personalized offbeat experience!

August 30, 2019
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packing in one bag for a mixed transit trip

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Last weekend, Evan and I headed out on a quick two-night trip to the northeast. We were flying in to Newark, Lyfting to Jersey City, using the PATH train to head into NYC, then taking a bus from New York City to Boston the next day, and flying home from Logan. (I’m exhausted just recounting all that!) Originally, I was packing into my small (but roomy) packable tote, but since I knew we’d be walking around a lot and trekking through Boston on foot, I wanted something easier to manage, since my tote doesn’t have a shoulder strap or anything.

We bought a packable backpack last summer that we’ve gotten a lot of use from, so I decided to pick up one of my own without spending a ton of money on it. VenturePal’s Large Hiking backpack fit the bill at just under $13. Initially I thought I’d just throw it into my tote and deal with switching things over once we got to Jersey, but I ended up doing the opposite – packing into the backpack and throwing the packed tote in, just in case. The forecast for the weekend was shifty – rain expected, of course – so I packed in a way that I thought would be optimistic, just in case things were sunny instead.

On the plane, I wore jeans, a t-shirt, and a lightweight C9 track jacket. I really wanted to wear my favorite Crocs sandals, but since the weather forecast showed rain, I stuck with my trusty Sperrys.

What I Packed

Clothes

  • Two pairs of socks (I packed these “just in case,” and didn’t use them since it didn’t rain)
  • Four pairs underwear (extra underwear is something I’m always going to tote.)
  • Two sports bras
  • One pair sleep shorts (I wouldn’t have brought sleep stuff, but we stayed with a friend in Boston and I think everyone appreciated that I wore clothes to bed)
  • One sleep tank top
  • One pair Uniqlo drape pants
  • One pair Uniqlo Relaco shorts
  • One t-shirt
  • One Uniqlo sleeveless tank
  • One black popover shirt

Toiletries

  • Toothbrushes/toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Single face wipes to remove makeup (I didn’t use these. The first night in the hotel I used a washcloth and the second night I passed out with makeup on. Whoops.)
  • Body wipes
  • Dry shampoo
  • Meds for both of us
  • A couple random ziploc bags
  • Two lipsticks
  • Mascara
  • Foundation
  • Sponge
  • Contour
  • Welly first aid kit (I’m a sucker for branding and Welly is great at it, but I don’t recommend the band-aids. I used a fabric one while we were on the trip and it started fraying within an hour.)

Comfort and Entertainment

What Did We Buy There?

  • Dramamine (I had some at home but didn’t pack it. I would probably have been fine, but wanted to ensure a nap on the bus, so I grabbed some from Target on the way)
  • Evan forgot hair stuff, so he picked up a small hair pomade thingy

The organization of the bag was perfect – I don’t like a lot of pockets, and this one only has three, including the main space. Even though 50 liters is more space than I really need, I was glad for it because I could easily throw in the few purchases I made on the trip (another set of Uniqlo drape pants and Relaco shorts, and two shirts from the shows.)

I will say that this bag doesn’t look super touristy so if security is one of your concerns, I think this bag would fit the bill quite well. It would also be a fine daypack, too, if you wanted to offload some things where you were staying and set out for the day. It’s definitely durable, but not waterproof, and it probably wouldn’t be my primary bag choice for a week+ trip. But for a weekend where I specifically wanted to feel well-organized and mobile, it was really great, and I’m so glad I’m learning how to pack less!

Are you a minimalist traveler, or a “just in case” packer? What must-haves do you always pack?

May 20, 2019
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favorite amazon buys

Posted in Shopping by

My birthday is this weekend! Yay! Sipping champagne in a hot bathtub, playing video games, reading a book, and watching boyfriend play a show are how I’ll be spending it. Those are a few of my favorite things, so today I thought I’d share a few more. These are some of the products I’ve found that I can’t imagine living without anymore – they make my life so much easier!

Platypus Water Bottle: This is my absolute favorite Amazon buy ever, and definitely one of my favorite products from anywhere. I try to drink a lot of water, but when I’m out and about, I would never bring a water bottle with me because they’re heavy and take up a lot of space in your bag. Viola, a collapsible water bag! I love this one because it has a double latch closure and it’s never leaked on me, and also has a built-in carabiner clip. I get asked about it all the time because it’s such a handy thing to throw in a bag without taking up any space. (This Contigo water bottle is still my favorite one at home, though!)

tea stand

Tea Bag Organizer: I had seen these advertised a lot and thought they were super gimmicky, but after too many visits to DavidsTEA, it was clear I needed to do something with my boxed teas. When it was on a lightning deal, I finally went ahead and nabbed it – and, as advertised, got SO MUCH space in my cabinet back. If you’re an avid tea bag drinker dealing with piles and piles of boxes in your cabinets, I can’t recommend this enough.

SET: I love games – board games, card games, and even recently video games. SET is a longtime favorite card game of mine. You look for “sets” of three cards that either have everything in common, or nothing in common. It’s a good brain teaser, and I like it because you can play it with someone or solo.

Coat Hook: We have three of these in our house now, and they’re exactly what I was looking for when I found them last year. It was surprisingly hard to find single hooks that were affordable! This hook is $1.88 and we hang additional coats on them in our coat closet, and I mounted one in my office to hang my blanket (forever cold) and work bag.

Boot Socks: A few years ago I ordered these on a lightning deal to give someone else, and ended up claiming a pair for myself. They’re soft, thick, so warm, and really cute. If I had any more space in my sock drawer, I’d order another set so I’d never run out between laundry.

Top Knot-Friendly Beanie: I’m not sure if this is a sign that I Have Given Up, but 99 days out of 100, my hair is just in a messy top knot on my head. That always resulted in me looking pretty silly during the winter, with my beanie half-off my head. I had a similar one from lululemon a few years ago, but the ghosts in my old apartment made off with it somehow, so I was pumped to find this one on Amazon for a super reasonable price!

Drawer Organizer: JosephJoseph has the best kitchen stuff – multi-functional, space saving, and fun. We had a weirdly narrow drawer in our kitchen, and I picked this organizer up after seeing it on Apartment Therapy for the 40th time. It’s a nice use of space that would otherwise have been junked.

Travel Infinity Scarf: This simple, classic infinity scarf would have been perfect when I was traveling non-stop. It features one inconspicuous pocket, big enough for a passport, some cash, and even my iPhone 8 (though that does weigh it down significantly.) I’ve taken to not carrying a purse with me much anymore, so this is a great help in freeing up my hands!

Foldable Duffel Bag: THIS BAG IS AAAAAMAAAAZING! It doesn’t look like much, but holy cow, it can hold a lot of stuff. I’ve used it on two week+ trips, and I don’t find myself struggling to edit or make room for things that don’t fit. It folds up into itself, so it makes a nice extra to throw in a bag on a trip you might shop on, and it’s so lightweight it doesn’t add any extra bulk. It’s become my favorite travel bag.

book club book reviews

Picture Ledge: In my old bedroom, I only had one nightstand, so on nights that my boyfriend would stay over, I wouldn’t have a surface to put my phone or a book on. Enter: the picture ledge. It’s a narrow width so it didn’t jut out (no headbanging in the middle of the night) but large enough to hold my phone, a book, and some other essentials like chapstick or lotion. I even stuck some fairy lights under it to serve as a reading lamp, and mounted a mason jar lid so I’d have a place to “put down” a glass of water!

What are some of your favorite products to make life easier? Have you tried any of these before?

January 17, 2019
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2018 gift guide: Chicago lover

Posted in Shopping, Travel by

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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7 companies hiring work-from-home employees this month: may 2018

Posted in Career by

Memorial Day weekend is here! That long weekend-free stretch from January to the end of May is a struggle for me every year – by this point I’m definitely feeling the burnout, and I’m grateful for the refresh. If you’re looking to make a change in your career, you could use this extra time off and the vibes you’ll have after relaxing for a few days to work out your resume, write some awesome cover letters, and apply to some awesome new jobs! Fully distributed companies and teams continue to grow, and even traditional companies are seeing the benefits and offering more work-from-home positions. Here are a few to look into this month!

Part-Time Sales Representative at Museum Hack: I’ve been really interested in Museum Hack for awhile – they offer “renegade” museum tours in cities across America, and their non-tour guide positions are all remote. If you’re looking for something part-time to supplement an existing job, or want to test the work-from-home waters, this position could be a great way to put your customer service skills to use!

Customer Success Manager at monday.com: When dapulse rebranded last year, they chose monday.com as their new company name, and I can’t help but wonder how much that domain name cost. They’re growing exponentially now, and looking for an MST/PST Customer Success Manager to cover their off-hours. The company is based in Tel Aviv, so this would essentially be an overnight coverage position. If you’ve got lots of experience in customer support, this autonomous position with a cool productivity SaaS could be for you!

Virtual Administrative Assistant at Modern Tribe: Virtual assisting has been a great side hustle choice for years, and if you want to transition into making it your full-time gig, Modern Tribe might be looking for you. They’re a digital marketing company that has worked on a ton of really creative projects (Tuniversity is my favorite) and they’re growing their Operations team.

Travel Guide for WOW Air: Talk about a dream job. WOW Air is looking for someone to travel to each of the cities they service and write travel guides for the city. One of my life goals is to be published in an airline magazine, but I would never have thought about an option like this!

Tech Ladies is one of my favorite networking groups, and they have a really great job board as well! Join now to get access to networking events, webinars, and excellent job postings.

Recruiter at Invision: Invision is a collaborative design app, and it’s used by a lot of leading companies. They’re looking for an HR recruiter to hire more engineers for their platform – this is a great opportunity for anyone with a background in SaaS HR and working with developers and engineers.

Analysts Relations Manager at Gitlab: Gitlab is one of my favorite tech companies. They’re inclusive, diverse, and best of all, they’re very transparent about their hiring process. The Analyst Relations Manager will facilitate relationships with Gitlab influencers, research trends and manage outreach programs. Many bloggers participate in influencer programs, so this could be a way to apply the skills we’ve learned from blogging!

Communications Administrative Assistant at 350.org: Passionate about climate change and the environmental crisis it’s causing? 350.org is a non-profit working toward awareness and research of this growing problem. If you’re looking to transition into communications, this is a great way to get your feet wet while using your customer service and organizational skills!

Are you looking for a new, remote job for the summer?

May 25, 2018
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