Chicago is a city I love visiting again and again. My best friend Elle has been living here since college, and I have managed to visit her many times since then. Over the years, we have explored by foot, train, bike & car, eaten at a ridiculous amount of cool restaurants, and created memories throughout the neighborhoods. As a city with four very distinct seasons, Chicago’s offerings vary throughout the year. And, while I appreciate all four of them, there is something particularly lovely about a summer weekend in the Windy City.
The past few days have been a whirlwind of cycling by the lake (use Divvy!), thrift shopping in Logan Square, and making our own face masks at Scratch Goods. As usual, we have also consumed lots of local food & drink. (Standouts: coffee at Fairgrounds Cafe & Floriole Cafe & Bakery; tapas at Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!; dinner at Bad Hunter; tacos from Rubi’s at the New Maxwell Street Market). In other words, it has been the ultimate girls’ summer weekend, and we are already planning our stops for my next visit – in the fall! My Chicago vlog will be up on Saturday and an updated Chicago City Guide in the next couple of weeks; so, for now, here is what else I am loving this week:
Each month I put together a Spotify playlist of all the tunes I am currently jamming out to (you can find it on the blog homepage!). Generally, they tend to be a mix of new releases, rediscovered favorites, and new-to-me finds. My August playlist starts with “Better” by The Suffers, a Houston-band that plays what they deem “Gulf Coast Soul.” Their sound is a mixture of vintage R&B and classic rock & roll with some reggae, country, and hip-hop thrown in for good measure. For me, it was love at first listen, and it only grew deeper the further down the listening hole I went. They are playing at AFROPUNK Festival in Brooklyn in a couple of weeks along with some of my other faves like Santigold, Toro y Moi, Leon Bridges, and Lianne La Havas – all of whom make music perfect for your end-of-summer soundtrack!
Thanks to Libby (an app that allows you to rent e-books & audiobooks from your local library), this year, I have been reading a more diverse array of books than ever before. Over the past couple of months, I have read some real stand-outs (including Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney, and An American Marriage by Tayari Jones). But, the one I have found myself recommending the most is We Cast A Shadow – the debut novel of Maurice Carols Ruffin. Set in a Southern US city plagued by fenced-in ghettos and police violence, the book tells the struggle of a father whose obsessed with protecting his biracial son from the awful world outside – which means turning him white through an expensive clinical treatment. Despite the horrifying subject matter (surviving racism in America), the writing had me both laughing out loud and feeling torn about my feelings for each character. The first chapter is one of the best openers I have read in recent memory, but the whole book is a fantastic read!
For a couple of months, I have been eyeing up the vintage t-shirt offerings from Parks Project. The e-commerce store sells (for lack-of-a-better-descriptor) national park-themed merchandise, the sales of which help to fund projects in our parks. As their mission states, “We have a passion for the outdoors and believe it’s our responsibility to promote, protect, and preserve public lands.” Merch that helps the planet? Yes, please! From hats & beanies to home goods, drinkware to prints, you are guaranteed to find a little something to shop from their stylish yet functional offerings. While there are plenty of pieces in their regular collection that I love, it is their current collaboration with National Geographic that is on my mind. Specifically, the Project Vintage Magazine Cover Tee, which I can imagine pairing with my straight-leg jeans again and again…drool.
I spend a lot of time on Youtube (I like to convince myself that it is “research” for my channel), which means that I certainly have my firm favorites. But – as is true for most platforms – I am always looking for new people, voices, and perspectives to follow. Enter: Alexa Chung’s YT channel. I mean, is there nothing that she can’t do?! While her videos are super high-quality (not something I tend to like for YT), her demeanor is so witty and charming that you can’t help but keep watching. I guess I had forgotten how cool she is – a total natural! I loved getting an inside look at the design process for her Met Gala dress, as well as this quirky Munich travel guide. However, I think her make-up videos are everything that Youtube has ever needed. Her “Business Look” is filled with feminist encouragement, while her “Golden Makeup Tutorial” is actually achievable yet still lovely. Also, her skin is unbelievably perfect before applying any makeup. So, there is that.
While I am not generally a betting woman, I feel pretty confident putting money on the fact that “Morning Pages” will be on my overall-favorite-things-of-2019 list. For the past seven months, almost every morning, I have sat with my journal and an ever-rotating style of pen (still haven’t found my pen soul-mate) and written three pages of free-flowing nonsense. Julia Cameron created this journaling practice and featured it in her bestselling book The Artist’s Way. (She also wrote The Miracle of Morning Pages which goes into greater detail about the practice and which I highly suggest spending a couple of hours reading before starting.) Anyway, the point is to write three pages – no more, no less – of whatever comes into your head. No judging what comes out, no worrying about how smart you do or don’t sound. You just write and allow yourself to release all the muddle from your brain so that you can move on with your day. I could talk for hours about the benefits I have found from this daily practice (shall I write a blog post?), and I urge you also to give it a try.
Let me know what you have been loving this week in the comments below!