If We Were Having Coffee...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

I'll be honest, I wish this post idea had been my own stroke of genius, but I actually found it on one of my favorite bloggers, The True Life of KMK, who found it on The Rachael Way. And then I found it on my girl Liz's blog, This, That, & The Other Thing (I know, we have the same site design because we're twins, it's cool).

Suffice it to say, this is not original. However, I loved it enough to sacrifice my desire to be the "first" and instead I will be one of many. No idea is ever truly original anyway, right?

If we were having coffee, you would know that I like you enough to sit down and give you some of my time. And I would know that I am important enough to get some of yours. Time is precious.

We would probably be at a cool coffee shop in Chicago, the latest one that I found through Facebook, Instagram or word-of-mouth. I would order a dark roast with soy - or a cappuccino if I'm feeling risky, undoubtedly a couple of croissants and we would sit in a cozy corner.

I would ask you what is new in your life and we would chat about our daily craziness. If I've known you for a while, we might even reminisce on the "good ole days," and whatever that means.

If we were having coffee, you would hear about everything I'm doing right now. From my online classes to my summer adventures to my plans for Paris in the fall. Perhaps you'd even hear about my future (since I think about it 50% of the time) and how I'm pretty keen on the Peace Corps or teaching English abroad. Then we would talk about travel. I would pick your brain on all the countries you've visited/known and all the languages you speak.

I'd tell you that I'm nervous to go abroad again, because it changes everything about my life, but that I'm excited to travel, meet new people and see old friends. You would joke around about coming to visit and I would tell you seriously that my door is always open. 

We would get refills and continue talking about our dreams.

I would give you the latest spiel on my major, which has transformed into International Studies with a double minor in Journalism & French. You would ask me what I want to do with that and I would explain what the Foreign Service is. You would tell me about your job and your major. I would gush about my job at DePaul and how I love my co-workers.

You would ask me about my family and I would say everything is swell. I might show you a picture of my cat. I would tell you about my brother returning from deployment and how I get to see him at his wedding in December. You would tell me about your family and I would probably be jealous of how big/tight-knit you all are. Then we might talk about what we want in a family someday. And then I would tell you the latest type of dog I'm obsessed with, even though it's been a French bulldog for a while and I don't think that will change.

The coffee would get cold and the crumbs from our croissants would sit like confetti on the table. 

If we were having coffee, I would be so incredibly happy to have the chance to sit down with you, face-to-face and take a break from our tech-y lives. I would make plans with you to do it again in the near future, or maybe to go somewhere else like lunch, a market, shopping, whatever our hearts desire. Then we would stand up, hug and go our separate ways (but not without a to-go cup).

Like this post? Feel free to steal the idea (again) and link back! 


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What You Need To Know...Taking Online Classes

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sometimes summer adventure is calling and you don't want to be tied down to a schedule. Sometimes winters are harsh and sparing a few hours out in the cold is highly appealing. Whatever the reasoning, online classes have made their way into the daily college student life.

I know I said I would quit with the whole constantly being busy thing, but it turns out I just can't. Life at 60MPH is how I work best, sue me. So I signed myself up (on the last day, of course) for online classes through my university. The benefit? Getting some necessary credits out of the way and keeping my brain active. The downside? A couple less hours out in the sun.

It just makes sense.

But it's not so easy to split your time between getting work done for the classes, social life, errands and still having time for yourself. I've pulled together a few important pieces of advice over the past two years of taking the occasional online class so the next time you hit the "register" button, you won't have a moment of panic on how to tackle the course.

  1. Pencil in the syllabus. It sounds funny, but making notes in your planner with due dates or personal deadlines for projects, discussion posts and other homework is really important. If it's not written, you'll likely forget it and when you're busy soaking up the sun or curling up with Netflix, you might overlook an important deadline that will end up destroying your grade. 
  2. Give yourself a break. Staring at a screen for hours can make you go insane. Give yourself breaks along the way. Spend an hour plugging away at an assignment, then an hour outside, running an errand or cleaning. It seems like a no-brainer, but it's very easy to get sucked into the online world. If there are books for the class, I try to get them in paperback instead of on my Nook/Kindle/computer so my eyes aren't being terribly worn out.
  3. Keep a normal schedule. It's a beautiful thing to have a deadline at the end of the week as the only set time for the class, but beware of waiting until the last minute. If you keep yourself on a schedule that mimics a normal class (a couple hours every day or every other day), it will help you get the most out of the course without missing other activities. 
  4. Make friends (or at least be friendly). A lot of people think that online classes don't require interaction with other students. On the contrary, they actually make it mandatory for you to post and reply in discussion groups or just on each others' work, which in some cases is more interactive than the 400+ student, in-person lecture. You're also all in this together, so it's a good way to make friends, exchange e-mails and add each other on LinkedIn. You can broaden your network and meet people of different places/backgrounds/ages - you never know who you'll meet that might be an awesome resource later on!
  5. Don't be shy. Ask questions, post replies, e-mail fellow classmates, e-mail the professor; this is still like any other class and you want to get your money's worth out of these credits. If you're unclear on something, ask. Professors of online courses are usually even more willing to go above and beyond to explain something, and they respond really quickly. 
  6. Make sure you're interested. Be wary of choosing a class that isn't very interesting to you, because it will make it that much tougher to do the work. Try your best to choose classes that pertain to your major or electives that align with your interests. The last thing you want is to be stuck with a bunch of work that you don't want to do when you're all on your own to do it!

Have you taken online classes? What piece of advice would you give from your experience?


Foodie Review: Blue Door Farm Stand

Saturday, June 21, 2014

On my very last day in Lincoln Park for a while, I finally got to see what all the hype surrounding this new, farm fresh, locally-sourced restaurant was about. And it lived up to every exclamation point, hashtag and Instagram post (including my own).

If you haven't heard about Blue Door Farm Stand, it's a soup, salad and sandwich shop on Armitage, with a selection of twists on popular desserts, cute home decor and, my personal favorite, cold pressed juices! The place is like Narnia if you enjoy fresh, good food, happy people and a cozy atmosphere. I probably could have stayed in there for hours - future study spot..?

The mixture of wood and patterned tile brought me back to my days (okay, day) on the farm. The soft hues of eggshell white and robin's egg blue completes the space - even the bathroom, which is always a tell-tale sign of how well a place is maintained. Now if only they could import the fresh, open air and rustling leaves of the countryside! At least city girls now have a place to go to get their fix of wide open spaces before returning to cosmopolitan life.

The food, as pictured, was served in printed chinaware or on a cutting board (which might be my favorite serving obsession) complete with mason jar-esque accessories and lined linen napkins. Everything was delicious - I felt like I had been eating tuna salad the wrong way my entire life after one bite of their French tuna salad sandwich. And my "Hello, Sunshine" juice with carrots, apple and ginger was the absolute perfect complement, albeit a little pricey at $9 a bottle. But after hearing about their process of cold press juicing, I can understand the upcharge.

So grab your wallet and keys, favorite lunching companion and head over to the BDFS on Armitage. If I could, I would pinky promise you that it will be worth every penny!

Have you tried BDFS? Are you a fan of pressed juices? What are your favorite farm-fresh and/or juicing recipes?


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That Time I Went To The Randolph Street Market

Friday, June 20, 2014

Is there anything better than going to a market in the summer?
I don't think so.

A little while back, I had the chance to go to the Randolph Street Market in the Near West side of Chicago and I still can't stop thinking about all the stuff they had. From vintage antiques to homemade, flavored marshmallows (SO GOOD), I was in market heaven...

I almost bought five of these posters..so cute!

The whole atmosphere just felt so laid back, unique and perfect - if you're in Chicago any weekend this summer, I would highly recommend going. Oh! And the food there is to-die for, I had empanadas and still haven't stopped craving them since.

Now that I'm back in Southeastern Michigan, I can't wait to start finding new farmers' markets and antique sales in these wide open spaces; it's definitely going to be my new summer thing!

Have you been to the Randolph Street Market? What do you like or not like about the open air-style exchange? Any recommendations for markets in Michigan?


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