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Category: Out & About

Lollapalooza 2017 Dining Guide

For some people, music festivals are all about the music. But since the day-long nature of festivals require — at least for me and everyone I know — eating at some point, those of us who give AF what we put in our bodies face a challenge second only to scheduling conflicts about which of the 34 food stalls to grace with our presence.

But since catching all your favorite acts are key, I’ve taken some of the guesswork off your plate so that you can spend more time at the stages and less wandering the food court, staring at everyone’s plates as they leave the stalls. (Please, I know I’m not the only one who does that.)

If I’m being honest, I’m pretty disappointed with the Chow Town line-up, which is pretty anemic and nearly all the vendors have disappointed me at some point in time. A lot of my fave vendors of Lolla past won’t be attending this year, including Momofuku (though, honestly, they’ve been disappointing lately anyway). Plus, I just can’t stand Graham Elliot or his restaurants. But, Lolla has never claimed to have a Michelin star and there are still plenty of absolutely delicious and terribly unhealthy options, as well as some pretty good options for those of us who are tryna keep our summer bods going, don’t eat meat, or can’t/don’t eat a certain grain protein.

My Top Picks

Cheesie’s (Chow Town North) Grilled cheeses are pretty hard to mess up and easy to prepare quickly, meaning you’re more likely to get a freshly made ‘wich. Cheesie’s is famous among stoners and frat boys throughout Chicago for their mac n’ cheese grilled cheese, i.e., mac n’ cheese is the cheese in the sandwich.

Kuma’s Corner (Chow Town North) This Chicago staple is returning to the Lolla scene after 5 years. They have a reputation to uphold, so I’m going to assume they’ll do a good job, even if they aren’t able to make their ginormous metal-themed burgers with all the toppings.

Lifeway Kefir (Chow Town North) Refreshing, tangy, and totally acceptable as dinner during Lolla, Lifeway has yet to disappoint. You can load it up with fruit and it’s easy to walk with, so you can take it with you as you run from Bud Light to Samsung.

Goddess & The Grocer (Chow Town North) These guys are catering champs, so you don’t have to worry about them struggling to bring their restaurants to the small tent. I find Goddess to always be fresh, though perhaps a bit on the small side.

Windsor Ice Cream Shoppe (Chow Town South) One of the best deals in Chow Town. These GIANT ice cream scoops mean you’ll get more than one lick in before it melts all over your carefully curated festival wear.

Pork & Mindy’s (Chow Town South) In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve still never tried Pork & Mindy’s. However, I do know they’ve had some practice with big crowds and food stall life with Lolla 2016 and Taste of Chicago, which means they probably have worked out some kinks that will make them a solid option. Besides, nothing says summer like pulled pork, and I’d place them above Robinson’s on that front.

Sausage Haus (Chow Town North) Again, untested by yours truly. But since it is run by an events catering company, I put some faith in them to be experts at scaling up. Let me know if they don’t toast the pretzel buns though, cause I’ll quickly axe them from this list.

Godiva Summer Treats Truck (Across from Pepsi Stage) No idea what this is, but it sounds *sweet*

Chipotle (Across from Pepsi Stage) This is also new, and I also have no idea what this really means. If it’s truly Chipotle, this could be a great option! I’ll scope on Thursday and report back!

 

For those looking for healthy options or with dietary restrictions, I’ve just put categorical lists below, with my faves underlined:

Healthy Options

The Goddess & the Grocer (Chow Town North)
Kamehachi (Chow Town North)
Lifeway Kefir (Chow Town North)

In years past, there’s also been a farmers market that has fresh fruit and other healthy options. I don’t see it on the map, but I’ll update if it is indeed there on Thursday!

 

Vegetarian/Vegan Options

BJ’s Market & Bakery (vegetarian, Chow Town North)
Broken English (vegetarian, Chow Town South)
Cheesie’s (vegetarian, Chow Town North)
Chubby Wieners (vegetarian, Chow Town South)
Connie’s Pizza (vegetarian, Chow Town South)
Country BBQ (vegetarian, Chow Town South)
Dark Matter (vegan, Chow Town North)
Dia De Los Tamales (vegan, Chow Town North)
Edzo’s Burger Shop (vegan, Chow Town South)
Harold’s Chicken (vegetarian, Chow Town South)
Harris Ice (vegetarian, Chow Town South)
Kamehachi (vegan, Chow Town North)
Kilwins (vegan, Chow Town North)
Leghorn Chicken (vegan, Chow Town South)
Lou Malnati’s Pizza (vegetarian, Chow Town North)
Mad Social (vegetarian, Chow Town North)
MBurger (vegetarian, Chow Town North)
Rainbow Cone (vegetarian, Chow Town South)
Pizano’s (vegetarian, Chow Town North)
Sausage Haus (vegan, Chow Town North)
Tallboy Taco (vegan, Chow Town North)
Goddess and the Grocer (vegetarian, Chow Town North)
Lifeway Kefir Shop (vegetarian, Chow Town North)
Smoke Daddy (vegan, Chow Town North)
Windsor Ice Cream Shop (vegetarian, Chow Town South)
Wow Bao (vegetarian, Chow Town South)

 

Gluten-Free Options

BJ’s Market & Bakery (Chow Town North)
Connie’s Pizza (Chow Town South)
Kamehachi (Chow Town North)
Kilwins (Chow Town North)
Leghorn Chicken (Chow Town South)
Lifeway Kefir Shop (Chow Town North)
Smoke Daddy (Chow Town North)
Dark Matter (Chow Town North)
Dia De Los Tamales (Chow Town North)
Edzo’s Burger Shop (Chow Town South)
Pork & Mindy’s (Chow Town South)
Rainbow Cone (Chow Town South)
Tallboy Taco (Chow Town North)
Tank Noodle (Chow Town North)
Sausage Haus (Chow Town North)

 

Sweets & Treats

Harris Ice (Chow Town South)
Kilwins (Chow Town North)
Rainbow Cone (Chow Town South)
Lifeway Kefir Shop (Chow Town North)
Windsor Ice Cream (Chow Town South)
Godiva Summer Treats Truck (Across from Pepsi Stage)
Again, no idea what this entails, but Imma find out!!

 

Beverages

Da Beers Garden, which should be chillin’ across the street from Pepsi Stage, is likely to have solid craft beer options as well as some foods that are vaguely German, like pretzels and sausage — at least in prior years this has been the case.

Cupcake Vineyards can be found in the “wine lounge” west of Kidzapalooza, since nothing says “wine, please!” like kids, amirite???

If for whatever reason you find yourself craving coffee, Dark Matter is the way to go. I’m not even sure if there are other options for coffee around the festival, but regardless, Dark Matter is my #1 coffee in the city.

Also note that this year you can pre-order your beer through the Lolla App and skip the lines!!!!!!!!! I know, right?! I almost hesitated sharing this lest it increase wait times. But then I decided to go VIP so 😎. Enjoy, plebs.

 

Vendors I’ll Be Skipping

    • Graham Elliot and his overpriced and progressively smaller lobster corndog.
    • Leghorn Chicken, which was super disappointing at Mamby
    • Rainbow Cone, an unpopular opinion, maybe, but I think the layering of chocolate, strawberry, something yellow with maraschino cherries, mint chocolate chip, and orange sherbet is just disgusting.
    • Connie’s Pizza, Lou Malnati’s, Bacino’s and Pizano’s seem like a good idea — just grab and go. But I’ve found that pizza at festivals is usually soggy and never hot enough. If you must, I’d vote for Lou’s, since it’s classic Chicago, and Pizano, since it’s thin crust and therefore less likely to be a soggy mess. But, again, haven’t had pizza here since Lolla 2013, so I’ll have to scope the scene.
    • Tank Noodle, while beloved, tends to drop the noodle with their festival versions. The noodles tend to just be clumpy and oily (Sorry, Tank Noodle, I know this does not necessarily reflect on your restaurant!)
    • Broken English and Tallboy because they serve tacos, and festival tacos always come on nasty tortillas that are a shame to abuelas everywhere. They’re also usually a rip off.

 

General Rules of Thumb

  • If a vendor has a food truck, chances are they’ll be better at this food stall thing since they’re used to making things quickly in a small kitchen. There may even be a food truck lot on the south end of Grant Park.
  • Eat at weird times to avoid the lines.

For a guide to the festival as well as my 2017 guide discussing what’s new this year and who I’m seeing, head to TotalBadNass.com.

 

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#GivingTuesday2016

A little while back, I wrote a post about the frivolity of this blog given the fact that so many people in the world are facing such great adversity that they will never be able to ponder things like “who makes the best donut in Chicago?” This #GivingTuesday, I am supporting organizations that are helping improve lives so that more people can have the time and security to enjoy life’s pleasures. See below for a list of all the organizations I’m giving to this Tuesday and how you can help support them as well. And, remember, time can be given, too.

Chicago Youth Centers
Chicago, IL

Chicago Youth Centers (CYC) serves children of all ages in Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods, providing academic enrichment and access to resources students otherwise would not have so to help fill the gaps in Chicago’s present education system. For example, some of their 6 centers now feature Maker Labs, which further encourage STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) and social learning that is the cornerstone of CYC’s efforts. Donate now at chicagoyouthcenters.org/donate/. Or, if you’re interested in volunteering or joining the Auxilliary Board or a local board for one of the centers, shoot me an email at threetimesperday@gmail.com.

CYC-maker-lab-chicago-youth-centers-STEAM

Slow Food USA
Nationwide

“Let us rediscover the flavors and savors of regional cooking and banish the degrading effects of Fast Food.” This is a line from Slow Food USA’s manifesto. Slow Food supports programs such as school gardens to help cultivate the next generation of healthy eaters. Too few Americans are educated on what healthy, wholesome eating really is, and while there are of course socio-economic barriers that must also be tackled, Slow Food is working to spread the message, support farmers, and preserve food as a staple of culture. Become a member at slowfoodusa.org.

Mimi Edelman

Greater Chicago Food Depository
Chicago, IL

What do you think of when you think of the holiday season? While for many of those reading this blog imagine massive feasts surrounded by family or friends in a warm, cozy home, for so many people in Chicago not only is a large meal far from given, a meal at all may be. The Greater Chicago Food Depository, or Chicago Food Bank, is helping ensure children, families, and those in need have access to food year-round and are working to make hunger a thing of the past. Find out how to donate or get involved at www.chicagofoodbank.com. Or, if you’re not from Chicago and wish to donate to your local food pantry, find a list of pantries nationwide by visiting www.feedingamerica.com.

annual-report

Passion Works Studios
Athens, Ohio

Passion Works is a collaborative effort between disabled and non-disabled artists in a community that used to be home to a massive mental hospital that used lobotomies for treatment. Passion Works is a non-profit helping to dismantle the stigma about learning disabilities by providing a place where those with disabilities are able to create gorgeous art. Order a flower, painting, or even a wedding bouquet now at passionworks.org and get free shipping until December 31st!

Official Passion Flower

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on being skeptical of journalism: part II

This post was originally featured on my blog What the Health Now? before being transferred over to Three Times Per Day.

I have realized recently that very few people understand how to source check. Facebook has become (among other things) a cesspool for ignorant debates of ridiculously biased or misinformed articles.

I don’t wish to use this post to spew judgment, but rather want to raise awareness that there is a lot of bad journalism out there and that it is very important, whether posting an article on Facebook or using it in an academic paper, to check your sources.

Just one of the Facebook posts that inspired this entry.

It’s important to note that all journalism is biased. News sources get to choose the articles they run, which facts they convey, the language they use. However, reputable journalism is based on well-checked facts and is held to a high standard of ethics. 

PewResearch conducted the Journalism Project to help define the 9 Core Principles of Journalism:

1. Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth.
2. Its first loyalty is to its citizens.
3. Its essence is a discipline of verification.
4. Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover.
5. It must serve as an independent monitor of power.
6. It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise.
7. It must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant.
8. It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional.
9. Its practitioners must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience.

Pew Research, Principles of Journalism, accessed from http://www.journalism.org/resources/principles-of-journalism/.

Where I see most of these sensational news sources, such as The Conservative Times, fail is in 1, 3, 8, and perhaps an over-use of 9. These sources have an obligation only towards a truth which serves their political purpose. They do not wholly embrace a system of verification. In fact, their fact checking is near non-existent. These sources pass opinion off as fact on readers who don’t know any better or who don’t wish to know any better, which is their freedom of speech. As a result, misinformed or intolerant readers stick to these sources that only confirm their pre-existing beliefs. In this way, the sources contribute to an ugly cycle of an ignorant public.

NPR has an Ethics Handbook which perhaps covers the bases of journalistic accuracy in a more digestible way, that can be utilized by readers as well:

Selected Excerpts from NPR’s Accuracy Guidelines

Edit like a prosecutor.
Good editors should test, probe, and challenge reporters, always with the goal of making NPR’s stories as good (and therefore as accurate) as possible.

Take special care with news that might cause grief or damage reputations.

Guard against subjective errors.
When quoting or paraphrasing anyone  – whether in a blog post, an online story or in an on-air “actuality” – consider whether the source would agree with the interpretation, keeping in mind that sources may sometimes parse their words even though we accurately capture their meaning. An actuality from someone we interview or a speaker at an event should reflect accurately what that person was asked, was responding to or was addressing.Be able to identify the source of each fact you report.

Give preference to primary sources.
(i.e. information directly from a first-hand account, such as a witness, rather than a second-hand source who heard from someone or third-hand source who heard from someone who heard from someone…and so on.)

Don’t just spread information. Be careful and skeptical.

Be vigilant about presenting data accurately.
It’s easy to represent data inaccurately or misleadingly, especially in charts and infographics. Double-check your numbers and the way you portray them to make sure you’re imparting the proper information.

Source: NPR, Accuracy, NPR Ethics Handbook, accessed from http://ethics.npr.org/category/a1-accuracy/.

Again, no journalism is unbiased. However, some journalism is more accurate than others. When reading articles or preparing to site sources, make sure you are being a critical reader and judging the articles by the same guidelines news sources should be judging themselves. Is it fair? Are they using primary sources who are accurate cited? Are they clearly injecting opinion that is not supported by reputable facts, i.e. primary sources?

A little education can teach readers tune a critical eye for good, or bad, sources. I don’t mean to harp on NPR, but their thorough and publicly available Ethics Handbook makes it an excellent starting point for learning how to read critically. For example, they even list case studies of when they went wrong, including how they went wrong. Studying these examples can give some insight into what a reader should be looking for.

As always, the key takeaway is this: question everything. No single news source has all the information and can give you the entire story. Accurately informing oneself requires thorough investigation of multiple sources with different political viewpoints and perspectives to truly be well-informed.

Think about it. If you were to, say, get in a fight with your younger sister, would you want Mom or Dad to only ask your sister what happened? Would you even want them to only ask your young brother, who had been standing by? Or, if this hypothetical situation is lost on your because you don’t have siblings or have never fought with them because you’re part god, imagine if you were accused of a crime. Would you only want the judge or jury to listen to the plaintiff?

Be smart out there, people!

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on being skeptical of journalism: part I

This post was originally featured on my blog What the Health Now? before being transferred over to Three Times Per Day.

I get it, journalism is hard. Less and less people are subscribing to newspapers and it’s no secret that people like cheap thrills. But an article in the Chicago Tribune last week stooped low, far too low to not call them out for it.

The article was about a set of bond deals intended to earn money for the Chicago Public Schools system that ended up doing the opposite. In it, the Tribune went to town on some of the only people attempting, regardless of success, to raise money for our underfunded education system.

I’m not going to pretend that I know much about bond trading, but I know it’s kinda like playing the stock market. You win some, you lose some.

Regardless, this post is not about whether the article was worthy of publication or not. This article is about one particularly shitty approach they took to turn their reader against a public figure.

Okay, I am rambling. Time to get to the point. Here is a direct quote from the article (appropriately in Courier font) which you can read in its entirety here:

Cepeda has an MBA from the University of Chicago and spent more than 10 years as a banker before founding A.C. Advisory. She also married into one of the most influential political families on Chicago’s South Side. Her late husband, Harvard-trained lawyer Albert Maule, was a grandson of Corneal Davis, a longtime state senator known for delivering black votes for Chicago’s Democratic machine. Maule later was appointed to the city’s police board by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley.

“Five months before Maule died of cancer in 1995, he helped Cepeda start A.C. Advisory, according to a 2013 Tribune profile. The firm got its first contract with CPS months later, and Cepeda continues to advise the district and the city. A.C. Advisory received about $4.7 million in fees on CPS deals from 1996 through 2013.”

Okay, so lets dissect this a bit. They begin with the fact that Ms. Cepeda has an MBA from one of the best business schools in the world and how she spent 10 years in finance prior to starting her business. But, oh wait, don’t be fooled, they continue– “she also married into one of the most influential political families on Chicago’s South Side.” 

And if that isn’t dirty enough, they KEEP GOING. 

“Five months before [her late husband] died of cancer in 1995, he helped Cepeda start A.C. Advisory, according to a 2013 Tribune profile. The firm got its first contract with CPS months later, and Cepeda continues to advise the district and the city. A.C. Advisory received about $4.7 million in fees on CPS deals from 1996 through 2013.”

That’s right. Now, Cepeda, a Chicago Booth graduate and an accomplished banker, established her firm and got deals with CPS thanks to her husband, who was political royalty in the South Side (Chicago’s utter disregard of the South Side in all things political, financial, and otherwise important can be topic for another post).

But, since they mention it, why don’t we go and check out that 2013 Tribune profile, appropriately titled:

Adela Cepeda carved her own path to success

Yep, you read that right. The Tribune published another article last year in which they praised Cepeda for being a self-made woman. This year, they decided to instead spin her as a husband-made wife. What were you thinking, Jason Grotto and Heather Gillers? But what do you have to say for yourself, Chicago Tribune??
The evidence is much more compelling in your 2013 article. For example, what they don’t mention in the recent article is that she met her husband as an undergraduate at HARVARD. Yes, that’s right. She was accepted as a Latina female to the most competitive university in the world. Ms. Cepeda came to Chicago to be with her husband whom she met at Harvard, and who was an attorney from Connecticut but had a grandfather who was a state senator from the South Side of Chicago. Cepeda, herself, ascended to Vice President of Smith Barney.
The 2013 article reads:

“Five months before Maule died in 1995, at age 40, he helped his wife draw up papers for A.C. Advisory Inc., a firm focusing on municipal finance.”

The recent article says:

“Five months before Maule died of cancer in 1995, he helped Cepeda start A.C. Advisory…The firm got its first contract with CPS months later, and Cepeda continues to advise the district and the city. A.C. Advisory received about $4.7 million in fees on CPS deals from 1996 through 2013.” 

You don’t have to be a comparative literature major to realize this shows a blatant lack of integrity in the 2014 article, which purposefully implies that Maule used his family’s political history to gather clients for Cepeda and that it began a precedent of an unqualified wife handling and receiving big chunks of tax payer dollars.

The good news is, Grotto is off to Harvard in the Fall, where he, like Cepeda, can study finance, economics, and accounting and can give journalism a rest. I’m still not sure what Heather’s excuse for demeaning the success of another woman is, but maybe she got that from her husband as well.

Again, I get it. Journalism is hard and journalists have to try more and more to make a story. But please be skeptical of all that you read, people. And all that you hear, too.

Over and out,

-r

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Why I Returned It All

A few weeks ago, I went cray cray banaynay on the online shopping. I’m not sure where the impulse came from, but I suddenly felt I needed a new wardrobe and there were so many deals and then all of a sudden…!

But as I sat amid boxes this weekend, I made a decision. It was all going back, and I wasn’t going to buy any more.

Enough was enough. I was tired coming home to an apartment that literally always had stuff laying around. I was tired of feeling financially out of control even though I’m not, and I was tired trying stuff on, sending it back, and keeping track of returns.

I’ve mentioned before how The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up had a big impact on me. As I discovered this weekend, clearly it was long lasting. Suddenly, I was craving clean lines and an empty table. Friday, after a report went out at work, I cleaned my entire desk, threw away all unnecessary papers (let’s be real, I was never going to look at them again anyway), and got rid of all superfluous office supplies. Immediately, my productivity improved. Like, immediately. I sent out multiple emails I had had on my to-do list, finished homework in record time, entered all of my expenses, and was out of the office by 4:30 pm.

In today’s day and age, where more women have more disposable income and at a younger age, it is so, so easy to get caught in the trap. As early as 2009, the Harvard Business Review noted that women were driving the world economy. Women, particularly young women, are the most targeted consumer group due to their spending power. As a result, we are constantly having ads pushed in our faces, constantly feeling we need the newest this and newest that and pressured to update our look constantly in order to be successful. It’s easy to get caught in a whirlwind of constantly spending.

And, of course, there is a pleasure that comes with shopping. Researchers in the UK, for example, found that over 50% of women got a “high” when shopping. Sure, I get a “high” from eating Magnolia Bakery’s chocolate banana pudding. And, if it was shoved in my face daily, I’d probably eat a whole heck of a lot more banana pudding than I ever, ever wanted to with dire consequences to my waistline and arteries. We are constantly pelted with advertisements, like those emails alerting us of seemingly constant sales and new products. Instagram and Pinterest constantly show us new things and where to get them.

So how can you “protect” yourself? Remove the bait.

Unsubscribe from every retailer email list that currently emails you. I promise you’ll still save the money even if you aren’t directly alerted of sales. In fact, stop going cray during sales and stop trying to get your cart to $150 in order to get free shipping! Those are traps! Instead, download the Honey extension for your web browser. Shop only when you need to and buy only what you love. As a result, you’ll save money and end up donating far fewer barely (or not at all) used items. ∎

What other things have you done to remove money-grabbing distractions, save money, or gain piece of mind amid the clutter? Share below!

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The Art of Keeping Cool

This content is created as part of my collaboration with Verlocal as a Verlocal ambassador. Visit Verlocal.com to find more ways to enhance your life through cool adventures and unique experiences in your city!

Nervous Texting

There comes a time, or more likely many times, when one is faced with circumstances that try his or her patience, nerves, or confidence. If you’re like me (i.e., a chronic over-thinker with a lot of emotions and/or character flaws, depending on who is talking), these events occur on a rather regular basis.

Throughout my childhood, I was a bully’s dream. I reacted to anything and everything, and vehemently. My intense reactions to stressors were nothing less than self-destructive. As a college student, I realized the error of my ways.

*FLASHBACK*

When I was in middle school, my local public library had a used book sale every afternoon. (Actually, they probably still do, but that is irrelevant because this story is set in circa-2004) Quite often, I would stop by on a regular basis and impulse buy as many $1 to $2 books as I had money for.

One such book was called The Art of Keeping Cool.

No, it wasn’t a self-help book. It was some little-known fiction novel. And I actually never read it so this piece is not about what I learned from this book. What it is about is this: The Art of Keeping Cool.

From my 20-some years of experience being part-firecracker, part-Energizer bunny, the most valuable lesson I have learned is The Art of Keeping Cool. I only became a novice in this art in the last, say, 18 months.

(Photo: David Mckee/Shutterstock)

But this skill, and lots of yoga, has been correlated to an immense increase in my own personal happiness and in that of my amazingly tolerant family and friends, who no longer have to spend hours reassuring me that so-and-so was completely out of line or that X is probably not mad at me because I said I was going to that social gathering and then I didn’t go.

I call it, Practicing Perspective (patent pending).

“What the…” you say, as you wonder why you’re taking advice from a neurotic twenty-something.

But, seriously, it works.

Practicing perspective means when you start getting riled up — frustrated, annoyed, angry, embarrassed, disappointed, worried, guilty, etc., etc., etc. — you stop and think:

“Will I care about this in a week? Month? Year?”

keep coolIf the answer is “no” to any of those questions then whatever it is is just not worth stressing over. Practicing perspective means keeping your eye on the big picture and adjusting where your emotional priorities lie accordingly.

It’s a simple method that works wonders. I imagine an incredible amount of hours a day would be more productively spent all over the world if everyone would follow this method.

So just to recap:

In the event of a stressful situation…

1.) Take a deep breath

2.) Think “Will this matter in…”

          a) One week?

          b) One month?

          c) One year?

If no, exhale, and move on.

Don’t spend any further time worrying your pretty (or handsome) little head on it.
Your time can be better spent on worrying about all the things you answered “yes” to for options a, b or c!

Now get off this blog and go enjoy your life!

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My Favorite Spot in My Home

Chair with a view

When I first moved into my apartment and was furniture hunting, I noticed a chair in the store window nearby. It was love at first sight. The chair was huge, perfect for snuggling up on, and a super soft gray fabric. For months I passed this store window, debating on the purchase. After all, I had no real need for it, but thought it would go great in my bedroom next to the floor to ceiling windows.

Big Comfy Chair

Finally, after getting my holiday bonus, I decided to commit. The chair wasn’t all that expensive (for a new chair) at around $375. However, I — being a n00b — figured they only had ONE chair and were having trouble selling it. Soooo I gave an insulting offer of $250 and the store owner basically told me thanks, but no thanks. Once the shame wore off a few months later, and I still wanted that big, comfy gray chair, I headed back in, agreed to $30 off, and one week later rolled it from the store to my apartment.

Thai Lantern

I’ve kept this corner simple so that the view can take center stage. Above it, I’ve hung a soft paper lantern my sister brought me from Myanmar. The AMAZING CatStudio Chicago pillow was a gift from my decorative pillow champion of a mother when I went to college (in Chicago, go figure). The side table is actually a refurbished, painted mango wood and metal stool. I got two of these (one for either side of the bed) at local shop that has recently closed (and whose name I can’t remember for the life of me for some reason…). The two differ in how the wood is painted, which I love, because I’ve always been a fan of asymmetry.

Painted Mango Wood Side Table

catstudio Chicago pillow

Long story short, this reading nook perfectly embodies the mentality I’ve been striving to for — surround yourself with things you love. This little reading nook was entirely built out of desire rather than need, but I’ve never regretted the purchase. And while there’s plenty of advice out there that says “don’t wait!,” “take the risk!,” this little corner serves as a reminder for me to practice patience and restraint, so I can get the peace of mind that certainty brings. Hey, maybe slow and steady does win the race after all…
Cozy Chair

Chair  – Coaster (Available in Chicago at Affordable Portables)
Chicago Pillow – catstudio

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Coffee Coffee Coffee

Today may be officially National Coffee Day, but I celebrate coffee almost every single day. My morning (and sometimes afternoon) coffee run is one of my favorite rituals, and because of that I recently sold off my coffee machine when I decided the $2.50+ I spend on a cup o’ joe each day was absolutely worth it. (I’m a big proponent of outsourcing the things that someone else does better than you, which for me includes: making butter, hanging mirrors, and brewing coffee.)

dark-matter-coffee

Osmium Coffee Bar (Dark Matter)

As far as I’m concerned, Dark Matter is the king of Chicago coffee. Basically, I love everything about them. Though admittedly not the best place to study, Dark Matter is the best place for unlimited refills, good music, and a sense of community (and also Do-Rite donuts). While Osmium is my fave location given its close proximity to my apartment, Dark Matter’s strong brand means you’ll get consistency at any of their locations.

 

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Intelligentsia (Lakeview)

I wouldn’t be doing Chicago justice if I didn’t include Intelligentsia on this list. While I’ve been unimpressed by some of their locations, their Lakeview location makes a mean (and giant) latte and has lots of space for socializing or studying. Plus, they have a place where you can tie up your pup while you run in during your morning walk.

Caffe Umbria

The smooth coffee and convenient location right off of the 22 bus make Caffe Umbria’s cute little store front a frequent haunt of mine. Grab a cup then head to work along the scenic route across the Clark Street bridge. (3X tip: Stop by Esencia in Lakeview for their signature cinnamon-infused coffee, made with Caffe Umbria beans!)

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Big Shoulders

While their marshmallow latte is to die for, what really blew me away was the immense knowledge of the baristas. I learned of two (or was it three?) completely new ways of brewing coffee the first time I went here and they note which type of coffee goes best with each method. Plus, the space is sunny and relatively quiet, making it perfect for days you gotta get some work done.

Goddess and the Baker

The Tiffany blue cups, adorable decor, always smooth coffee, and convenient locations in the Loop just off the Red and Brown lines makes Goddess one of my top spots to grab a cup of coffee on the way to work or during an afternoon coffee run. Goddess also offers tasty breakfast and lunch items in case you want to extend your stay. If you’re looking to branch out from regular drip, try the honey wildflower latte or goodie’s gringo horchata. And good luck passing up all the amazing baked goods… (3x tip: Goddess cups have a TERRIBLE habit of leaking from the lid — so ask for extra room or that your small coffee be put in a large cup.)

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Hero Coffee Bar

If anyone loves coffee as much as you do, it’s Hero Coffee. I have literally never met a barista SO enthusiastic about coffee (and not trying to be cool about it.) Catch them in the South Loop or head up to their roastery in Roscoe Village (where you can also take a tour).

Revival Food Hall

Revival’s got it all, including great coffee. What really wooed me was the latte on nitro tap, which is deliciously light and smooth and perfect for a hot day…or any day, really. Grab a little baked goodies at the stall next door (provided by Mindy Segal, owner of Mindy’s Hot Chocolate), grab one of their ridiculously comfortable chairs, and enjoy some quality people watching.

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The Wormhole

The 80’s-theme, many latte options, and plentiful space to work, read, or chat make The Wormhole one of the best in the game. If you can put away your cell phone and stay a while, The Wormhole always has newspapers and magazines scattered around the store (either they’re providing them or maybe people just leave them..?)

Colectivo (Coming soon!)

Though it’s not yet arrived to Lincoln Park, I cannot wait for Colectivo to hit Chicago later this year. The signature roaster of my favorite coffee shop on UChicago’s campus, the Wisconsin-based Colectivo’s mission and vision for community and good coffee are something I’m all about.

Have other favorites? I wanna hear them!!! I’ll try to update this post as I find new faves or remember old ones.

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3X has joined Pinterest!

You can never have too much social media…right? That’s why 3x has joined Pinterest! Check out boards featuring everything from recipes (both 3x originals and some of my favorites) to fitness to women’s AND men’s style that will be updated on the reg.

Well? What are you waiting for? Click the Pinterest icon up in the top right corner or visit www.pinterest.com/3xperday.

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What I Love This Week: Schwa (Part I)

The last few weeks of work have been hard. Back-to-back deadlines have meant I’ve had to do late nights and weekends, which means cancelling on friends, missing social events, and moving plans. This, coupled with my propensity for anxiety, has meant the past few weeks were straight up brutal.

I’ve always been an anxious person. About three years ago, a particularly blunt and honest friend told me — just a few weeks into our friendship — that I probably had an anxiety problem. In many ways, it serves me well. I have never missed an assignment, am able to get passionate about almost anything I’m working on, and learn very quickly. However, it also causes me to get nervous and snippy when, say, my brother is running late to brunch and the server won’t seat our massive party until everyone is present. (Hypothetically speaking…) It also can lead me to be short-tempered or impatient, and this behavior is what I have been specifically trying to nip in the bud. However, when things seem to be piling up, or my life feels off-balance, I can start to feel overwhelmed and deeply unhappy. This, I’m sure, tends to happen to everyone. But non-anxious people seem to be better at letting something fall by the wayside and avoid feeling crushed by the pressure to perform.

So, anyway, that gives you a bit of insight into my mental health on the third week of seemingly non-stop deadlines and late nights amid the crushing backdrop of the realization that what I currently do for work is likely not what I want to make my career. Before you sigh “Millennial,” hear me out. I love working. I imagine myself always working a lot. However, I imagine myself doing it in a profession I love so dearly, that it is not my job, but rather an extension of my life. I’m still figuring out what that profession is, and in the meantime, I love the job I have right now, which is, all things considered, an amazing gig: I’m compensated nicely, I am empowered to take on a meaningful role, I get to freely communicate with my “superiors” and benefit from their experience, advice, and leadership styles, and I have an office full of peers who are constantly making me a better person through constructive criticism or by good example. However — here comes the anxiety again — every so often I find myself lamenting my youth that feels like it is slipping away and the experiences that I am missing all for a career I don’t want. Obviously, this is terribly dramatic. But, that’s how I felt towards the beginning of last week.

Amid this crazy work schedule, PIF scheduled a surprise birthday dinner for me, and, after being pushed a week due to deadline chaos, was rescheduled for Tuesday, July 26th. Somehow, despite a report due that Friday, the stars aligned (actually, shout out to Alexis who made those stars align), and I was skipping towards the 22 bus by 6 PM, meaning I had more than 2 hours to get ready for dinner.

And when I say ready, I mean mentally and emotionally ready, because although PIF had tried to keep a secret (he never can), I knew where we were going that evening.

We were going to Schwa.

My knowledge of Schwa was that shit could very well go down. The chef, Michael Carlson, was unpredictable, prone to cancelling the night of a reservation, and that the whole staff often got drunk throughout service. (Like the enablers we are, we still planned to bring some bourbon for the kitchen.) However, up until this point PIF had had enough conversation with Carlson that made it clear cancellation was unlikely and that the restaurant was a little more predictable these days, though you still get a reservation by calling the restaurant during the week and hoping you get through. PIF never gives me enough detail when he retells interactions, but I imagine these conversations went like this:

Early July

PIF: *ring ring ring*
Carlson: Hello, Burger King, may I take your order?
PIF: Uh, I’m looking for Schwa?
Carlson: This is Burger King, do you want a burger or what?
PIF: Uh, no, uh, I’m looking for Schwa…
Carlson: Yeah, dude, this is Schwa.
PIF: Oh, *nervous laugh* great! Do you have anything in a few weeks?
Carlson: Sure, how about Tuesday July 19th?
PIF: Oooh, perfect, cause Anthony Bourdain says Tuesday are the best days to eat at restaurants.
Carlson: My restaurant is good every day.
PIF: *Laughs*

They discuss wine and he tells PIF to bring champagne, a non-oaky Pinot Noir, or a white Burgundy.

After my deadline is shifted

PIF: *ring ring ring*
Carlson: Hello?
PIF: Hi, uh, I have a reservation for July 19th, but something came up…could I move it a week?
Carlson: Your girlfriend is making you change it, isn’t she?
PIF: Yep.
Carlson: Sure, come the following Tuesday, 8:30 PM.

Afternoon of July 26th

PIF: Phone rings and he sees it’s Schwa.
PIF, thinking it’s Carlson cancelling: Hello?
Carlson: Hey, man, you still coming tonight? (Oh, the irony that I am now so flaky that the most flaky chef needs to make sure we aren’t flaking.)
PIF: Yep!
Carlson: Cool, see you then.
PIF, remembering that I told him we may need to bring wine glasses since I read they don’t carry it: Oh, also, should we bring stemware?
Carlson: Nah, man, we got you.
PIF: Okay, cool, ’cause we read online…
Carlson: Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

Though PIF and Carlson were BFFs by now, little old anxious me was having heart palpitations as I got dressed. I wanted to look cool, but not snooty. How was I going to act? I’m obviously a food geek, and this wasn’t Alinea where you have to fake it til you make it even though you can’t afford the wine pairing and you’re trying to convince them you’re still as high society as the foreign dignitaries sitting two tables over and getting a special menu. How do I exude coolness without seeming like a total douchebag, anyway? I eventually opted to just put on a comfy dress that covers any tummy bulge and flat sandals, cause nothing would be worse than tripping in heels in a tightly packed 800-something square foot restaurant.

PIF arrived at my apartment with two bottles specially picked by Melissa at WineHouse — a real champagne, of which only a few bottles are made each year, and a light Pinot Noir — as well as 750 mLs of Buffalo Trace (his fave affordable bourbon) for the chefs. And after a quick costume change on my end, we were out the door.

To be continued…

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