Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Madhatter's Speakeasy

A few months ago, I was at a Volunteer Bar Night for an organization I volunteer with. Everyone was in a good mood and super friendly, especially after a few beers, and I ended up befriending a girl and letting her talk me into tickets to a ball that supports Lookingglass Theater. The next day, I was a little worried about what I had gotten myself into!

It turns out the Madhatter's Ball is actually lots of fun! I think I paid around $140 for two tickets, and it included an open bar and lots of appetizers and small bites from local restaurants. (It was enough that if you sampled all the bites, you'd be pretty full!) There was live music, a silent auction, and an "ActionBooth" area where guests posed for goofy pictures and got to keep a copy. But he best part is that it's a chance to don Prohibition Era costumes and, of course, funny hats!

Three black and white photos, keeping with the theme:

And our pictures from the ActionBooth:

This year, we didn't really know what to expect, so we conservatively went with the theme and the hats. Next year, if we go again, I'd like to go with a big group of friends and really go all out with the costumes! When else do you get the chance?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Perfect Chicago Saturday Night: The Drake Hotel & Kingston Mines

I've discovered the perfect way to spend a Saturday night with friends in Chicago: Start the night with cocktails at the Drake Hotel, and end the night dancing and drinking Coronas at the famous blues' bar, Kingston Mines. Why? The Drake is splurge-y, while Kingston Mines is dive-y, but both bars offer a unique Chicago experience. It's like getting two great nights for the price of one night at a middle-of-the-road bar.

The Drake is a historic Chicago hotel located in the Gold Coast with an iconic sign visible from the highway. It opened on New Year's Eve 1920, and has since welcomed famous guests like Frank Sinatra, Princess Diana and Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio (who supposedly carved their initials in one of the rooms!).  The bar, Coq d'Or, has a vintage speak-easy feel, with low lighting and live laid-back jazz music. It's the perfect atmosphere to relax and catch up with friends.

Instead of ordering a full meal at The Drake, which would be totally cost prohibitive, we opt for a round of classic cocktails and the Bookbinder Soup. It's a red snapper soup that is elegant and delicious and comes with a shot of sherry that you pour in yourself before eating. Yum!

Greg and I at the Drake
A Classic Manhattan

Next, we supplement our soup and cocktails with chicken fingers, greasy french fries and lots of Coronas at Kingston Mines. The bar features two different stages, and when a new performer comes on, people rush to the dance floor. It's definitely a dive, but the walls are covered in bright murals and funky neon lights, and the blues music is so catchy--you can't help but dance and play air guitar.

My favorite thing about Kingston Mines is the diverse group of people it attracts. There are students, older folks in wheel chairs, men in old-fashioned suits and dapper hats, and others in jeans and t-shirts. I even met a man who claimed to be a World War II veteran (although the veracity of that is questionable :) Everyone is welcome. It's the perfect place to dance like crazy and not worry about what anyone will think.

On the dance floor

So there you have it. Two different vibes for one great evening. Do you ever like to visit two different places in the same night? What are your favorite Chicago bars?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Coffee Table Books

Don't you love big, glossy coffee table books? This Steve McQueen book was a big hit at our last party. Both the girls and the guys were swooning over Steve McQueen. I mean how can you not?

On my birthday, we picked up Alice's Adventures in Wonderland with artwork by Yayoi Kusama on sale at Anthropologie.  Kusama's trippy dot illustrations pair perfectly with Lewis Carroll's (equally trippy) classic story. The dots and the typology are mesmerizing.

Finally, I have the biggest book on Dali, that used to be my grandmother's. It must way close to 10 pounds.

What's on your coffee table these days?

Congratulations to my best friend Andrea...

Who had her first photograph in the New York Times this Sunday!

She is such a boss. Check out more of her work here.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Law and Order Marathon

Andrew was gone this weekend, so I ate a tuna sandwich for dinner two nights out of three, and watched at least six episodes of Law and Order on Netflix. I love Law and Order. The Original. Part of the thrill is that I have seen almost every episode at least once, so I always try to remember who did it before the police can figure it out. When my father and I watch, we race to see who will remember the killer first. Bonus points if you remember before the opening theme song. Dun, dun!

I also love watching Law and Order because the show is as old as I am, and I can see the evidence of how much has changed in my lifetime. There are pay phones, beepers, file cabinets, shoulder pads, scrunchies, and computers the size of a house.

Detective Lenny Brisco using a pay phone

Assistant District Attorneys Jack McCoy and Claire Kincaid, with Claire rocking a giant scrunchy and defined shoulders.

I actually really love Sam Waterston's (Jack) and Jill Hennessy's (Claire) style on the show. Sam frequently wears a Barbour jacket, and I really love Jill's full eyebrows and simple, feminine makeup.

Also, this drawing from this hilarious blog because it's so true:

Ha :)

Friday, January 11, 2013

2012 in Review: Part Two

Not exactly life milestones, but here are some funny things from the year that never made it on the blog:

We went to a Notre Dame football game, tailgated like bosses and pretended we knew what was going on.

We visited a gorgeous vineyard in Michigan, drank wine outside, and listened to life music. Perfection.

Greg visited in October, and we made it up the Willis (Sears!) Tower. Scary!

Maggie visited for Halloween. We were gold diggers and a sugar daddy, and we made a giant AmEx card that I believe would have made Andy Warhol quite proud.

We set up our first full-sized Christmas tree. I miss it already!

Greg came back after Christmas. Highlights of this visit include getting drinks before going to the Shedd Aquarium, dressing up in penguin suits and ringing in the new year at the Sofitel. Hard to beat that.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

2012 in Review

2012 was probably one of the most action-packed years for me I...

Wrote a ninety-page senior thesis. I pulled a lot of all-nighters, ate a lot of really bad food and lived in a constant state of anxiety for about six months, and even though I still occasionally have nightmares where I am asked to add a new chapter or defend it, I am starting to gain enough distance that I can look back and see what an accomplishment it actually was.

Me in the stacks.

The beautiful spring morning I finished my thesis.

Graduated from college.

Toured churches in Montreal and Quebec with my college singing group. Visited many a hotel bar.

Hotel Saint James, Montreal

Postcard of the Chateau Frontenac, Quebec, circa 1910

Moved to Chicago.

Had the awesome privilege of being part of President Obama's grassroots campaign in Chicago. I couldn't imagine working with a more diverse and inspiring group of people. The commitment and passion of the movement was incredible, and I am proud to be a part of this moment of history.

Election Night at McCormick Center, Chicago

Started working for Barbour Chicago. As a long time fan of the brand, I am so happy to be a part of the first-ever Chicago store. I also got to model some clothes at a neighborhood fashion show, which means I can start telling people at parties that I'm a part-time model, right?

The eleven Barbour jackets in our apartment. Embarrassing?

Celebrated my first Christmas away from home, and my first Christmas with Andrew.

Christmas Eve cocktails at the Four Seasons

Here's to 2013 holding just as much excitement. If this is any indicator then we are off to a good start: