Beer Under Glass at Garfield Park Conservatory

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Beer Under Glass

Have you ever been to the Garfield Park Conservatory? One of my clients is in the craft beer industry and I was invited to join them at the kickoff to Chicago Craft Beer Week called Beer Under Glass and was blown away by how gorgeous the conservatory was. It is basically the biggest, most beautiful greenhouse I have ever seen under a canopy of glass. And while it was a gorgeous evening, after the cold chill we had last week it felt really good to be somewhere that was warm and slightly humid.

Oh and there was beer. Really, really good beer. My little sampling glass (pictured above) was filled with several craft brews during the event and favorites included Moody Tongue’s Caramelized Chocolate Churro Baltic Porter and the grilled pineapple and rhubarb infused Farmhouse Ale from Smylie Brothers– bonus points for the beer history lesson I got from Brad the head brewer which was seriously fascinating and awesome.

To recap: drinking local craft beer while surrounded by gorgeous greenery in a historic Chicago landmark. Beer Under Glass is about as solid an event as they come.

Garfield Conservatory

Smylie Bros BUG

Garfield Park Conservatory at night with moon

The 5 Stages of Starting a Business

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I left my employed-by-someone else job in November and have since started my own company. I’ve heard parenthood called “the longest shortest time” and while I have not birthed an actual child in the last 6 months, I have found that phrase fairly accurate describing bringing a company to life as well. Now that I have a roster of clients and full days, I find myself thinking “Wow! Everything came together so quickly!”. But there was that time (also known as all of February and the better part of March) where I wondered what the hell I was doing with my life and self-doubt occupied every corner of my brain.

When looking back at the decision I made to start a PR and Brand Development company and the time it took to make multiple Hamiltons, the stages to get here are pretty clear and they look a little like another 5 Stages. So I present to you…the 5 Stages of Starting a Business.

  1. Denial. No, I’m not really doing this. I can’t start a company. Starting a business is what other people do, other people who have better connections, are smarter and more successful than I am. People who are independently wealthy and probably really good at Excel. I am just taking this time to freelance until I find a stable salaried job with benefits and a 401k because I am an adult and those things matter. This isn’t really happening because no one would want what I have to offer, no one would pay real money for that. Nope, I am just in a transition time that is anything but starting a business.
  2. Anger. Why do I have to start a business? Why didn’t the companies I worked for in the past fulfill every need and goal I had? If they had their shit together, I would have stayed and made them millions of dollars and not had to go through figuring out what my next step was. Why doesn’t the business I want to start exist already? Shouldn’t someone have already done this and I could join their team? Why do I have to be the one to provide this solution for the market? Why didn’t I become a teacher/accountant/[insert other job with a (perceived) clear path] so that I knew where I was going to go with my career? This is complete crap. What is wrong with everybody, everything and what is wrong with me?!???
  3. Bargaining. Okay. So if I start my own company, I will be my own boss. I will be the sole factor in how much or little income I make. If I start my own company, I can choose who I work with and what projects I take on. I can work how I am comfortable working, create my own schedule. Not wear pants until 2pm if I don’t want to. Go for a run to work through any blocks I have (*likely while wearing pants). If I start my own company, I can create the business and life I want.
  4. Depression. This is never going to work. I am a huge failure. Worse than a failure, I am worthless and it’s comical that I ever thought I could do this. I’m not good enough to start a company. I am not worth the paper Lean In was printed on, let alone thinking I do anything a big CEO even did in their first internship. The only thing I am good for is raising my cat and that isn’t even going well. I am bad at folding laundry well and hate cleaning my shower. I have wasted so much time and money and it’s all for nothing because I am not good enough to do what I think I want to.
  5. Acceptance. I am starting my own company. I have started my own company. Every conversation, every relationship, every interaction, every success during my entire career was a brick building up to my company. My LLC is filed, I have a business credit card, and my website has been published. I have my own company. I have clients. I am giving out my business cards for MY business. I am telling people what I do, I am making connections. I am sending out emails, I am getting press, I am building strategies that are valuable. I set my own schedule, I burn the midnight oil, I have big wins, big learnings…and it’s all mine. Because I started a business.

Sad Little Bracket Busting Bears

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I think I counted my chickens before they were hatched. Or, at the very least, purchased too many Michigan State themed gummi bears to be consumed before the end of that terrible, bracket busting game on Friday.

However, I soldiered on and ate those gummi bears. Someone had to do it.

See ya next season,Spartans. 

TGIF

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Lincoln Park North Pond City View

Happy Friday from North Pond in Lincoln Park! Signs of Spring are slowly but surely popping up and for that I am grateful.

I am also grateful for March Madness and that I always pick the Ivy League teams to do better than they should. My bracket is in great shape going into today and a victory for the Spartans will make for a stellar way to kickoff the weekend.

Enjoy the day, friends!

Random Update

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Lincoln Park Colorful Row Houses

I know I came out of the blue with that post about UberEATS yesterday so I figured a little update of the most random sort was in order:

This winter has been a godsend, especially after the last 2 winters Chicago has had. Getting outside to run and walk and really do anything has been infinitely more enjoyable than any February or March I can remember.

I am OBSESSED with Siggi’s Yogurt, particularly the Vanilla-Fig flavor. Lots of Icelandic-style yogurt being consumed around here.

On the drive to Michigan for my grandmother’s memorial, my husband put on the Hamilton cast album so I would have something to do while he worked in the car. As much as I love singing, there is 1000% a reason why I don’t do it for a living and God bless that man for listening to me belt out every.single.part of that musical (except for Lafayette because rapping with a French accent is hard.)

Speaking of belting out songs, Soul Cycle had an all Broadway ride last Friday and I went and was surrounded by my people…overly enthusiastic musical geeks who knew and performed every song right alongside me. I usually don’t love Soul Cycle but singing out loud while riding a bike is hard so two thumbs up for the Broadway ride at Soul Cycle.

I started a brand development and public relations company in November and the website went up this week. I really believe that big companies, small companies, startups, you name it can craft really incredible stories that lend themselves to impactful marketing campaigns and it’s been really cool bringing that work to organizations I believe in. Check out the GardnerMediaCollective.com and don’t hesitate to shoot me a note, I would love to work together.

I have been pouring over the Frankie’s Sputino Kitchen Companion and Cooking Manual. Their Sunday sauce is simmering on our stove on most weekends and I love the laid back way they talk through recipes.

UberEATS Launches in Chicago

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UberEATS Chicago

As if Uber getting me all over town wasn’t enough, now they want to bring me food from pretty much wherever I want.

UberEATS launches today in Chicago and the new stand-alone app features 100+ of the best restaurants in Chicago and allows Chicagoans to order from their full menus 8ammidnight, 7 days per week. I tried it out last night and it was pretty great. From the moment I decided I did not, in fact, want to eat scrambled eggs to when my quinoa wrap from Lyfe Kitchen showed up was about 25 minutes and everything tasted just as great as eating there. My husband and I always hate ordering takeout because apps like Seamless only offer us places we don’t go to normally so we are left with food we only sort of want to eat sitting on our couch. I was really impressed that UberEATS offered healthy options like Lyfe Kitchen, Blue Door Farm Stand…and Homeslice. Because sometimes you don’t want to fight off DePaul students to get that glorious pizza.

The fine people at Uber were kind enough to send me a promo code for $10 off your UberEATS order- use the code JustaChiTownGirl and you’re set to jet.

{this post was not sponsored other than my promo code- I just really liked this service and think you will too.}

Weekend Pause Button

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Last weekend was one of those weekends I wish had a pause button and now that we have a few inches of snow on the ground, I really wish that there was pause button because those 60 degree days were glorious. But until the next thaw comes, I will remember the glass of wine I drank outside with this view and our trip to the Milk Room. Spending time outside in February just feels like the craziest gift, you know? If you don’t know, look out the window at that white stuff and we’ll be on the same page.

Sidebar: The Milk Room, an 8 seat cocktail bar in the Chicago Athletic Association, is one of the coolest places we have ever been too. Formerly the teeny room used to store milk in the early 1900s / booze during Prohibition, it now houses a cocktail experience…which sounds like a weird thing to say but when you’re drinking Campari from the 1970s, Bourbon from the 50s, listening the Bob Dylan on vinyl and learning about it all from the single bartender with only candles lighting the way, it’s an experience. An extravagant experience but a date that will rank the top of our list for years to come.   

Middle of the Night Musicals

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When you’re wide awake at 4am, there are worse things than West Side Story being on tv. I would rather be asleep, I think, but a trip down memory lane where gangs have dance fights and everyone is really good at snapping isn’t the worst. And here I thought only infomercials were on in the middle of the night.

So to kick off Friday, a song:

Stay cool, boy.

Winter Pep Rally

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Chicago Lakefront Skyline

The football team at my high school won 2 games over the course of my junior and senior years. I was a cheerleader so one can imagine that yelling words of encouragement that never seem to come to fruition got to be a bit of a challenge over time. But we kept cheering and every Friday, regardless of the team’s record, there was a pep rally in the gym. The team would come out, people would say more encouraging sentiments, there were high kicks and jumping around and come Friday night, everyone would gather in the football stadium to see if tonight was the night the team would be cheered to victory.

My high school football team = winter in Chicago.

I look at the 15 day forecast and think “It’s over 30 degrees, that’s great!” and then it is 30 degrees and I am…cold. And going to be cold for the foreseeable future. Last Saturday’s 60 degree temps was like the really, super nice kid on the football team who catches a pass and you reeaaallly want him to make it to the end zone… and then he gets pummeled. Nice day but our optimism for good weather was abruptly cut short by the loss of 2o degrees the following day.

I walked outside today, saw the sunshine and realized that winter needs a pep rally otherwise I am going to lose perspective that it’s the Midwest in February and this is how it’s supposed to be.

The Lincoln Park Zoo is open all year so I walked over to see what animals were out and about. The zebras were doing their thing, chasing each other around, the lions were sunbathing, and I had the nicest chat with the zookeeper for the gorillas who usually don’t go outside until it’s 45 degrees but because it was sunny and no wind, they got to get some fresh air today. They seemed happy about this development.

The construction on the lake at Fullerton is finally complete so I checked out the new walkways and the view of the skyline, which is always pretty awesome. I walked along the lake home, imaging the empty marinas filled with boats and that I might someday be in this exact spot sans big puffy winter coat.

It was a winter in Chicago pep rally. You can do it! You can warm up and not snow anymore and make it pleasant be outside! Goooooo Weather!

While this rally will likely result in another loss, i.e. no warm weather in sight, I will take in the sights and activities our awesome city has to offer while bundled up knowing that cheering for brighter days is better than just assuming they will never come.

Lincoln Park Zoo Lions

 

A Life Lived with Value

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Gi Laughing

During the almost 99 years of my grandmother’s life, she witnessed the invention of the toaster and of television, the women’s right to vote, the beginning (and end) of Prohibition, 4 wars, 17 Presidents, the Space Race, the creation of the internet, email, phones that are computers and can talk to each other and fit in your pocket. 

It’s crazy to think about the wildly fast pace in which the world has changed from 1917 to 2016 and crazier still to realize that a single person could see all of this and live a life alongside it.

My grandmother was a gracious host, believed in fresh manicures, cocktail hour from 4-5pm sharp, that education was of utmost importance, and always, always told the truth.

This past October, I told her the truth about some things going on in my life. Without missing a beat, she replied “Life is too short to work for people who don’t value you, life is too short to have anyone in your life that doesn’t value you. You value you and you must act accordingly.” The clarity and force with which she said this took me aback. She and I have been incredibly close my entire life; she has always called for my best while loving me unconditionally and this is at the core of every piece of advice she has ever given me: you must value yourself. Period.

My strong, sweet, smart grandmother exited this world a week ago and she left us with a thousand stories and memories that my family will no doubt tell for years to come but I think the biggest lesson, the best story is that of a life lived with value. She did this and the message was clear: value yourself so you can value the people and causes and work that is your life’s calling.

Because you value you and you must act accordingly.