After recently getting back from a long weekend trip to Chicago, I wanted to share all about it with you. However, I thought I’d put together a little guide of some of my favorite things to do, so that you can see just how many incredible things you can fit into a short time in a city. Josh and I got pretty skilled at maximizing our time in a city after we visited seven cities in three weeks last March during our spring break.

This was one of my favorite trips to Chicago to date because 1) my dad gave this trip to me as a belated Christmas present, so I was well equipped with some shopping money for a fun time exploring Michigan Ave. and 2) Josh was able to join us, so I was really happy he could spend a weekend hanging out with my family.

We took the train, which is my absolute favorite way to get to Chicago. The Amtrak is a quick and easy way to travel, and the student discount is pretty great, too. Early last Friday morning, we all begrudgingly pulled ourselves out of our beds and left on an early morning train to Chicago that brought us to Chicago’s Union Station around 10:30am.

From there we took a taxi to our hotel and our weekend began! Below I’ve created an itinerary using most of the things we did this trip, along with a few of my all-time favorite things to do in Chicago, so that you can have a fun-filled, jam-packed 48 hour itinerary in Chicago! Sometimes for me, it’s really helpful to see how you can accomplish all kinds of things in such a small amount of time, so without further ado, here is my Guide to 48 Hours in Chi-town!

Friday, after a late morning arrival in Chicago

12:30pm – Arrive at the hotel on Michigan Avenue, the InterContinental Chicago. I would highly recommend staying here, since I’ve been here on three separate occasions and loved every time. It even has a Starbucks connected to the lobby.

After we checked in to the hotel and organized our things, we headed downstairs, grabbed a coffee from Starbucks and hit Michigan Ave. 

1:45pm – After perusing around some stores on Michigan Ave., it’s time to eat! Opt for the Grand Lux Cafe, which is operated by the same owners of one of my all time favorite restaurants, The Cheesecake Factory.

3:00pm – Hit the town! You’re right in the middle of Michigan Ave., so it’s time to shop! This past trip, I hit LUSH, Topshop, Free People, Nike, ZARA, and a few other places. Since I rarely get the opportunity to shop Michigan Ave., I always go a little crazy shopping when I do come here.

6:00pm – Head towards probably the cutest restaurant I’ve ever been to in my entire life, The Hampton Social, home to the famous “rose all day” sign you’ve most likely seen on Instagram before.

8:00pm – After an incredible dinner at the Hampton Social, head back to the hotel and change into some more comfortable clothes. Walk from the hotel to Lucky Strike, where the rest of the evening can be spent bowling, playing pool or ping pong, and munching on appetizers if you’re still hungry. This place has been a staple to every Chicago trip I’ve taken with my family. It’s the nicest bowling alley I’ve ever been to, and it’s always super crowded, which just adds to the fun atmosphere.

10:30pm – You’ll be pretty tuckered out after your big day, so head back to the hotel to get some sleep. You can always stream a movie in bed, but after this long of a day, I’m sure you’ll be ready to fall asleep as soon as possible.

Saturday 

8:30am – Wake up and get ready for another big day. Today is a big day for photos, so make sure you’re looking ready for a bunch of photo opps!

9:30am – Catch a taxi and head to Goddess and the Baker for breakfast. This is honestly one of my favorite coffee shops and bakeries in the entire world, and it’s a must-do if you’re looking for a fun breakfast spot downtown Chicago. Filled to the brim with the perfect mid-century modern decor, Goddess and the Baker offers food all day, but I would personally recommend the acai bowl, jasmine tea, and apple cinnamon sugar scone for breakfast. It’s a game changer!

3:00pm – Head to Millennium Park to explore! There’s so much to do there, that it will easily take you a while to see everything there is to do. From the stereotypical pictures in front of the Bean or {if you happen to visit in the wintertime like I did} ice skating in front of the Bean, there are so many fun things to do!

6:00pm – Walk back across the Michigan Avenue Bridge to the hotel, where you can have some down time and time to get ready. You’ll need a fancy outfit for what’s to come tonight.

7:30pm – Catch a cab to the Willis Tower to the swanky Metropolitan Club restaurant. I would highly recommend the chicken stuffed with goat cheese and dried cranberries. The views from this restaurant are absolutely incredible. To be able to

10:30pm – After staring at the views of the city from your table, it’s time to head back to the hotel. Make sure to get your things semi organized because you’ll need to check out in the morning!

Sunday

9:30am – After all your luggage is packed up, bring it downstairs to the luggage check so you can keep it at the hotel past the check out time!

10:30am – Walk across the street to the Corner Bakery. This is a great place to grab a quick bowl of fruit or a breakfast panini! You’re going to want to make the most of your time today, since today is the day you head home, so you don’t want to waste a lot of time on food!

11:00am – Catch a taxi to the Field Museum! You could spend as little or as much time as you want here, because you could be content visiting one exhibit, or every single one. Your ticket also includes a movie so that takes up time, too! When we went last weekend, we chose to see the movie “Mysteries of China” which was such an interesting movie in 3D! Also, there was an incredible tattoo exhibit featured where a tattoo artist was actually giving tattoos inside the museum. I could honestly visit the Field Museum every single time I come to Chicago because I learn so much every time. It’s definitely on my must-do list for anyone’s trip to Chicago.

Our train was at 5pm, so we got back to the hotel around 3pm, grabbed some coffee and our luggage, and headed to the train station. 

And with that, a fun weekend in Chicago is pretty much summed up! I wanted to highlight some of my favorite aspects of Chicago for you in case you have a trip planned there soon! Or, if you’ve already visited Chicago, what are some of your favorite things to do there? I’m always looking for more recommendations because I’m sure I’ll be heading back in the near future.

Olivia

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I have always been a “yes” person. I think it comes from two things. Mainly, I want to make everyone happy and I used to think that by telling everyone yes, I was solving this problem. Second, I genuinely have such a wide range of interests and hobbies, that it a lot of times is hard for me to say no to something, because I want to do everything. For example, I started college getting one major. I now have one major, three minors, and two certificates. A little much, huh? Well, it’s because I just wanted to take all kinds of classes that appealed to all of my interests, so I did. Because of this, I know that I will be a more marketable person upon graduation, and I have also made so many different friends from all kinds of different programs around my campus.

There are definitely a lot of pros to wanting to be involved in as many things as possible, but I also want to touch on the fact today that, it’s okay not to be so involved. I’ve realized that saying yes all the time isn’t necessarily something that works best all the time.

Last semester for example, I had three internships, a job, and was enrolled in 20 credit hours of classes. At some point, it began to feel like an addiction, this feeling of needing to say yes to everything. To being constantly busy and never having a waking moment of free time to spend wth anyone who I care about. I began to realize that while my resume was amplified, my personal time for growth was dwindling, and at times I felt like it was nonexistent. As someone who considers herself to be a creative, this kind of schedule didn’t work out so well. There was no time for me to sit back to grow and process when I don’t allow myself time to even eat at times because my schedule was so busy.

I’ve identified that this is something that I want to change for 2017. Already, I have signed up for a smaller class load, turned down one of my internships for this next semester, and built in time for myself in my schedule. Looking ahead to the next few months, I’ve already planned trips and fun activities that will give me time to get away and tap into my adventurous side.

While I still am very much someone who likes to have everything planned out, I’ve realized that I can also plan out time to just simply be excited for growth. Over this past month of being at home on winter break, I worked on making videos, creating art, listening to podcasts, and  journaling. It’s like an explosion of my creative self was what I needed to tap into my normal self again. 

I’m so ready to hit this semester running with a spirit that’s back to feeling my creative best! 

Love, 

Olivia

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So, for my first post of the New Year, I decided that I wanted to share a bit about my goals for this year.

I’m that sappy kind of person who always makes a solid resolution list every single time the New Year rolls around. Actually, most of my resolutions I stick to. A few years back, I made a “read a book a week resolution”, and that actually happened. I’ve made personal, professional, and academic resolutions in years past, and stuck to all of them. So, when 2017 rolled around, after some thought, I surprised myself and decided not to make any resolutions whatsoever.

Isn’t that a bit strange, you might think? Well, for me, yes it very much is. While very uncharacteristic, I actually am so excited about this year. I’m jumping into this year without expectations or standards. To be quite honest, I want this year to teach me whatever I’m supposed to learn, not just what I decide on the first day of the year that I need to learn. I’m letting go of the feelings of perfectionism that come alongside those resolutions that I make every year and opening up my life to a little bit more simplicity.

Now, I think goals are amazing and they are something that each and every one of us need in our lives to motivate us towards bigger and better things. This year however, I’m not going to have an overall goal though. Neither do I have a fancy “word of the year” as I’ve chosen in years past (aka “brave” circa 2015 or “spontaneous” circa 2016).

Instead, I’m taking this year one day at a time. If you’ve come to my blog today to find a post about my future resolutions, this isn’t a post all about my goals for the future. While I do most definitely have those, I also want to be clear that this year, I’m wanting to live a bit more simply, and let whatever needs to change me, change me.

I don’t know about you, but after seeing all kinds of lofty New Year’s resolutions scattered about all of my social media, it left me feeling anything but inspired. For some reason, all of these resolutions left me feeling a bit anxious and not good enough. There is so much freedom that comes with just being gentle with yourself, and letting things happen just the way they’re supposed to…

Each and every year, January 1st brings with it an opportunity to start new and fresh. That is what I’m aiming to do, but I sure as heck don’t have everything figured out. So, instead of stressing that I don’t in fact have it all together to start out the new year, I already am feeling much more relaxed due to the fact I haven’t blown my resolution yet.

All this being said, I still am a fan of resolutions and goals, this was just a much needed resolution vacation for me. While I am on this hiatus from lofty resolutions, I still value and understand their importance. It’s just not something I’ll be doing this year.

I’m so grateful for each one of you and how incredible it has been to have you all follow me on my blogging journey. I’m wishing you a wonderful 2017.

Much love,

Olivia

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If you read my last post, which was the Ethical Christmas Gift Guide, you might have seen one of my favorite necklaces of late, which is from Haiti Design Co. I also promised that my next post would give a little more details about why I love this line so much.

So when my friend Rachael was actually able to visit the brick and mortar Haiti Design Co-op located in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and start carrying some of the items in her coffee shop in St. Louis, I was so excited! If you are local and not yet finished with your Christmas shopping, this is a perfect last minute gift to add to stocking stuffers or give as gifts on their own. You can find the line being sold at Silo Coffee + Goods!

Silo is my favorite place to grab an ethically sourced coffee in St. Louis and simultaneously be inspired by all of the goods they carry in the shop! 10% of all profits from the cafe go towards lifting coffee farmers around the world out of poverty. So, it’s not a surprise that they also want to help other around the world, like the men and women who are the artisans behind Haiti Design Co.

A few of the things that Haiti Design Co. helps with {but isn’t limited to} are…financial management classes, women’s counseling, and simply consistently employing over 150 people in Haiti! Their goal of mentoring these individuals to ultimately leave them as independent entrepreneurs is so incredibly impactful.

When I lived in Guatemala, the thing I saw so much of was that there were so many incredible artisans, yet they weren’t equipped with the proper business skills to thrive. To see this model so effectively be put in action makes me so incredibly excited to be a part of it.

My hope is that in these posts about ethical fashion, you’ll be provided with sources to shop at that can make such an impact with every dollar you chose to spend. There are so many incredible companies out there supporting the ethical and sustainable way of doing things, and my desire is to equip you with as many options as possible to make your life a bit easier so all you have to do is shop! There is so much power behind each and every purchase you make. Don’t forget to stop by Silo Coffee + Goods to check out their coffee and their current selection of everything from Haiti Design Co!

Merry almost Christmas!

Olivia

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After living in Europe for about six months, I had plenty of time to discover some of the coolest coffee shops I could have ever imagined. When I came back home to the U.S. this summer, it made me all the more determined to seek out even better coffee shops here at home, since the past six months set the bar pretty high for my coffee standards! While the following list doesn’t even begin to describe my coffee shop experiences, these are a few of my favorite locations across Europe in a variety of cities and countries! If you’re looking for more ideas in different countries or cities, please feel free to comment below, because I have plenty more recommendations where these come from!
Sevilla, Spain // Torch Coffee Roasters
  • This is one of those coffee shops that I could have stayed at for hours. After getting to chat with the owners (who happen to be the sweetest sisters from Guatemala) and hear their stories, it was so incredibly powerful to understand the inspiration behind the coffee shop! Torch’s mission is all about empowering people. I also just get so excited about companies that ethically source their coffee. 100% of Torch’s coffee is sourced by farmers who are sustainable financially, environmentally, and socially. That’s something to get excited about, people! They also have a location in Raleigh, NC so you can bet that in the back of my mind, the option of a road trip there is always an idea!

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Istanbul, Turkey // Twins Coffee Roasters

  • When Josh and I got caught in a downpour walking around Istanbul while doing some exploring, we happened upon this shop. When we walked in, I instantly realized that this was one of those places that I just couldn’t get over how much I loved the vibe there. With a neon pink light with Turkish writing hanging the main concrete wall, and grunge music playing in the background, I really don’t think I’ve been in a place that’s so hip before. This was the first coffee shop I was inside during my six month stint in Europe, so this one is really memorable to me, especially I think because it was such an awe-filled experience (like most of the time I sat there thinking, wait. I am in Europe. This is really happening. Oh my gosh).
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Marrakech, Morocco // Atay Cafe Food
  • Overwhelmed by the vendors following us around the medina for hours, trying to get us to by their wares, Josh, Kelly, and I finally found refuge at Atay Cafe Food, a wonderful oasis in the middle of the medina. If you’ll be doing a lot of shopping in Marrakech’s famous Medina, this is a perfect place to grab some peace. When I say peace, you’ll only truly know what I mean if you’ve been to Marrakech. With the people yelling at you trying to sell you things, the constant overwhelming smells, and the bustling crowds, I felt such a need for peace after a while of being in that scenario. This is owned by Frenchmen and it is such a classy take on Moroccan style. There are beautiful art pieces and Moroccan style rugs hanging along the walls, and the bright accents of the pillows and decor contrasted quite chicly with the plain white walls. After enjoying some of the best food ever, we tried their coffee and were amazed with how delicious it was. I would highly recommend anything from here. Between Kelly, Josh, and I, we all tried plenty of different food and drinks and it was all 100%.

Málaga, Spain // Dulces Dreams Boutique Hostel + Café

  • If I could just live in a coffee shop, this one would be it. Fortunately, that’s very possible, since this cafe also doubles as a hostel! This place was just around the corner from our Airbnb while we were in Málaga, and I am not ashamed to say we went here every morning for breakfast during our weekend. From the delicious food to the lattes that I was literally obsessed with. Also, this place gave me some major gallery wall inspo, I mean come on how cool does this wall look? All of the art pieces were on sale and we made by locals from Málaga!
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Copenhagen, Denmark // The Coffee Collective 
  • After arriving in Denmark at about 6am, Josh and I couldn’t think about anything else when we landed in the Copenhagen airport other than coffee. We proceeded to get off the airplane and headed directly to The Coffee Collective, even before checking in to our Airbnb. The shop itself is inside of a large indoor farmer’s market, so the entire surrounding area is amazing to wander around and explore also, as you have your cup of coffee in hand. Josh and I both ordered vanilla lattes and they were incredible. The Coffee Collective baristas truly know their thing and they take what they do SO seriously. Have a conversation with one of them and their eyes will light up as they talk about their art.
Alicante, Spain // Farmer’s Cafe
  • I saved the best for last, I guess! Living in Alicante for almost six months, I was always on the lookout for a great new cafe to open. Well, about halfway into my time spent in Alicante, I noticed this storefront with a sign announcing that a cafe was going to open soon there. After attending the Grand Opening for Farmer’s Cafe, I knew this was going to be my place. You know the feeling when you step inside a place and you know you’re just going to spend a lot of time there? That was exactly how I felt after I came here for the first time. Just a few weeks later, Josh and I quickly became friends with the sweet owners, Andrea, Ruben, and Daniel. The Farmer’s, as we like to endearingly call them, became our best friends from the semester. We would spend hours at Farmer’s speaking in a weird mix of Spanish and English, since all of us can at least conversationally speak both languages. Some of my best memories of Alicante took place inside of Farmer’s, and they were all accompanied by a cappuccino!

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As you can tell, some of the best memories of coffee shops around Europe were often because of the conversations that were had or the friendships that were built there. One of my favorite aspects of coffee, all over the world, is that it can bring people together. There is such a sense of community that revolves around coffee, and that is something that I absolutely treasure. While it’s easy to plug in some headphones and enjoy your ristretto or americano in peace, there is also something quite beautiful in spending that time sipping your coffee over a great conversation. What do you think? What are some of your favorite coffee shops here in the U.S. or around the world? I am constantly growing my list of places that I need to go to, so I’m open to all the more ideas!

Much love,

Olivia

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