Monthly Mocha: Swada

The more I've been on my monthly mocha journey, the more I realize there are SO. MANY. amazing cafes in Chicago! And...I love each one of them!

I came across Swada by accident. I was walking through the West Loop to another cafe, but I'm so glad I got sidetracked and found this little hidden cafe. 

I love the artistic, skater vibes. (I secretly wanted to be a skater for a hot minute during my high-school days.) From what I could see is that it's a very popular work space. They share a larger area with Green Street Smoked Meats

This west loop find is close to street parking and would be great if you're looking for a hip meeting space. Their coffee is soooo good and their Doughnut Vault doughnut selection is pretty irresistible. 

Monthly Mocha: Asado 2

Yay! Dare I say it's spring...to stay??? We just came back from a great time in Mexico with the family,(blog post coming soon) and it was nice to come back to nice weather. I had my daily iced lattes in Mexico so I might have to switch to iced drinks now that the weather is so nice.

This month I'm talking about Asado in the west loop. I featured the Asado in West Town last year, but they have since closed that location and opened a location in River North. It has become Elena's favorite cafe. When we went we had the place to ourselves and were able to enjoy the little fireplace in the corner. She especially liked the comfy chairs next to it. I really like all the natural light.

I really like their pour-overs. They're just so good! I think this is Elena's pick of cafe whenever we have some time to enjoy to ourselves while Elias is in school. 

There's easy to find metered parking, and a nice sitting area that would work well for meeting clients or a friend. You'll probably find us here a lot this summer. 

And some fun Insta-stories from our visit. :-)

Elias turns FOUR - dinosaur style

My boy. It's so crazy for me to think he's not a baby anymore. He's sweet, thoughtful, and passionate. His curiosity and persistence amazes me.

I had been planning a space party for the longest time (he really loves space and has learned all about each planet...Jupiter is his favorite because duh, it's the biggest) however a few weeks ago he decided he really LOVES dinosaurs. I just couldn't resist his new found passion, so I changed it all up at the last minute. 

I tried my best to transform our living room to prehistoric time. I even drew dinosaurs free-hand, and I'm so glad he didn't judge them too much. He was so excited to see everything coming together. My sister did an amazing job with a dinosaur cake, which he claimed as his favorite dinosaur. Haha. 

We had a family party for him in the evening, and he was happy to talk about dinosaurs with everyone.

Today is his actual birthday, and he's so excited to celebrate with his class friends at school. We picked out some doughnuts to share, but I think he's more excited to pass out little "dinosaur eggs" filled with mini dinosaurs and tattoos for his friends. I remember those class birthday parties...so fun!

Happy Birthday Elias!

Monthly Mocha: Little Goat Bakery

Another awesome cafe in the books. This one surprised me, though. I had known about Little Goat Diner for a while. I even knew they had an event space, but I have no idea how I didn't realize they also have a bakery right next to the diner! I mean come on! And they also have a full bar service!

I met up with Kelley from Haviland Events here last month on one of the 80 degree days, before the endless rain came. I always enjoy my chats with her, and her cafe suggestions. I enjoyed a drip coffee and a rosemary white chocolate scone. Kelley got an iced goat milk latte. This is the only place I know of that offers goat milk as an option for a drink! 

The bakery space has a bar where you can sit and comfortably have a conversation. It might get tricky talking to more than one person, so I might not have a client meeting here, but it's a great space to chat with a friend. Their diner next door has more room as far as seating so that might be a better option.

The parking accommodations are on the street but it wasn't hard for me to find a spot a few blocks away. Oh and the music they had playing that day was on point.

This was quite a pleasant find, thanks Kelley for the suggestion!

Monthly Mocha: Currency Exchange Cafe

The Currency Exchange Cafe was a cafe that thanks to Instagram I was able to come across. Once someone recommends a cafe to me, I'm pretty much always thinking when I could go. The Currency Exchange Cafe is in Washington Park. I don't typically go to that area of the city, so I knew I'd have to be strategic about planning a trip there. 

Then we were invited by my good friend Martine from Severin Photography, to join her and her son at the Museum of Science and Industry. It was a perfect chance to visit this cafe as it's just 10 minutes from the Museum. And parking was easy to find. 

I have to admit that unless you know where it is, it's easy to pass up. We actually passed it the first time we were looking for it. But once inside it's amazing! They have a kitchen that serves breakfast and lunch. The decor has a cultural flare to it, which looks like a mix of Mexican and Southern Soul. It's very spacious, and would be great for a meeting.

I did in fact get a mocha, which was really good. And it was nice start to my morning. 

Elena turns SIX - ballerina style

This month I've been scrambling to make sure Elena's birthday was amazing. I love planning and dreaming with her about how she envisions the perfect day to be.  We can plan and plan but at the end of the day I think that as long as her friends are there, she's happy.

This year we settled on a ballerina birthday party. While her current favorite color is blue, she wanted the party to have pink and gold decor. So I got to work.

I made gold tassels hanging over doorways, and pink poms hanging over the table. The table had pink on gold, and gold on pink. It was just what she had hoped for. Those little candy filled wands came from Hand Crafted Parties and they were a hit. And because I'm an overachiever, I spent too much time stressing about making her a special sparkly pink and gold tutu. In the end it turned out just as I wanted it too, and she wore it with pride...most of the time. 

I also set up a little studio area for Sofia, a young ballerina I invited to teach Elena's friends how to do some ballet moves. She was amazing. All the kids had a great time dancing with her.

Elena was so happy all day and kept saying "I don't want this day to end." I'd say it was a success. 

A special thanks to my sister who made the perfect cake for Elena. We're still enjoying the leftovers.


We're so happy to have such a loving, curious, talented daughter. She truly tries her best at everything she does. 

She LOVES reading chapter books, and playing with dolls. Her current favorites are her Elena doll, and her new Moana doll. She excels at ballet and is advancing quickly in her violin studies. 

She is my mini-me and some of my favorite times are exploring coffee shops with her.

Thanks for following along on our birthday adventure. 

Monthly Mocha: Meddle Coffee Bar

Meddle-3.jpg

I have to give Michael the credit for this December's monthly mocha. He's always trying to find coffee shops that he thinks I'll like. (I'm kind of picky) He's been talking and raving about Meddle Coffee Bar, a new coffee shop that serves Dark Matter Coffee, on his way to work. He's stopped in a few times and can't stop talking about their lattes.

Well I finally stopped in yesterday and had a great hangout with my good friend Jen. 

I have to admit that other times Michael has recommended a coffee shop, I haven't always agreed with his taste. BUT this time he was right. This coffee shop is modern, edgy, yet comfortable. And their mochas are great! I feel like this is a great West Loop spot for an early morning coffee meeting.

Street parking wasn't hard to find. There's parking right in front of the cafe, and it's only three blocks from Union Station. I feel like if this place was on my way to work, I wouldn't be able to resist stopping in, so I give Michael lots of credit for making this a once in a while treat. 

Monthly Mocha: Goddess and the Baker

Phew. It's been a hot minute since I've written a monthly mocha post. The last few months have been the busiest of the year so I haven't had as much time to hang out in coffee shops. 

BUT I'm back. Just in time to enjoy nice, warm drinks as I watch everyone outside bundled in their winter coats, hats, scarves, and gloves. I just love the fall. 

A few weeks ago I made my way to Goddess and the Baker in the Loop on Wacker. I had a few hours between meetings so I settled in for a little bit here. I had been in and out of the location just south of there on Wabash a few times, but I wanted to get the coffee shop experience. 

This location is much less busy. At least it was on the Sunday evening I went. My usual drink of choice here is a matcha latte. This is the only place I order one of these...because they make it so tasty. 

The previous time I went to the one on Wabash I ordered a coffee which was also amazing. They brew from local roasters This is definitely my go-to coffee place when I'm in the northern loop area. 

I probably wouldn't meet a potential client here the first time because it can get pretty busy, but I wouldn't mind having a quick meet-up with a friend, especially if it isn't peak morning or lunch hours.

I love their aesthetic and consistency across many locations. I'd say it's a great choice for a coffee or a treat. 

Here are some photos from my previous visits in the location on Wabash:

Monthly Mocha - The Allis

This is definitely my new favorite West Loop coffee/tea/meeting place. I had the pleasure of meeting my friend Jen here this summer for coffee and cake, and then again this past week for afternoon tea with more good friends Lovely & Liz

Their service and food are great, but their coffee and tea are amazing. It could just be the way they serve it on really cute plates and cups, but they make the whole experience really nice. 

There's street pay-to-park parking nearby. If you're in the mood you can usually find free street parking if you don't mind walking a little bit. In the summer and fall weather, it's nice to walk a little bit.

I'd gladly bring clients or other friends here for a drink or meeting. The space is very roomy, bright, and not loud at all. I love how fresh, natural, and relaxed the space feels. Perfect for inviting creativity on a work day too. 

I seriously can't wait to come back here. Who wants to join me? Seriously. I'm ready to come back any time. 

Monthly Mocha - Cafe Streets

Alright Cafe Streets, I've been wanting to check you out for a while now...and your time in the spotlight has come. 

I have a hard time finding places I like in Wicker Park. I think it's because most coffee shops and restaurants are always crowded. Wicker Park is just so trendy. But Cafe Streets came through for me. They have a nice patio which is perfect for the nice days, but inside is also really clean and inviting. 

It's located on Division, so parking was pretty easy to find, and on Sundays parking is free. I would definitely be back with a client or a friend for a work date. There were several people working, so I'm guessing it's a really nice place to come and work for a few hours. 

They serve Metric Coffee which I hadn't tasted before. I had a pour over which was ah-mazing, but next time I'm coming back to try their mocha. They also serve teas, and Time Machine cold pressed juices. 

I think this is going to be my go-to Wicker Park place. 

Jesse, Anne, and Cece in Chicago

I love social media as much as the next person, but when I actually get to connect and meet people in real life...that's when I'm happiest. 

We photographed Jesse and Anne's wedding in Michigan almost 5 years ago. I've loved being able to see their family grow and keep in touch through social media. This week they took a trip to Chicago and asked me to take some family pictures for them, meaning I got to meet Cece, their daughter. And she is so adorable and wasn't at all shy to be in front of the camera.

We even brought our kids along, and they got to meet and hangout with their new friend after the session. 

Birthday Stitch Fix

Alright, alright...I know I said I was going to stop with Stitch Fix...but it was my birthday. Aaannnd, I was curious...and their marketing e-mails really got me. Haha. I'm a sucker for good marketing, just ask Michael. And yes, I took a marketing course in college so I know how it works...but still...it works on me. ;-)

So here we are. Just one box. For the summer. For my birthday. 

This first shirt is the Kass Crochet Detail Top, by Collective Concepts. I sooooo wanted this to fit, but it was a little too big. The sleeves went down just a bit too low, and it didn't look quite right. But isn't it cute!?

This next top, the Leela Raceback Top by Renee C was cute, but a bit too colorful for me and my skin tone. I think it's the blue that was throwing me off. And it was also too big.

I specifically asked for a maxi dress so I was really happy when I pulled our the Kaleia Maxi Dress by Renee C. It fit so nicely...except that it was too long. (Dang genetics that make me short) I would've had to wear it with some heals or wedges...that I don't have...and don't really want to buy. #flatsfordays So...I had to part with this one too. :-(

By now you're probably thinking, did she even keep anything???! And YES, yes I did. This next dress if now my favorite dress ever, and totally not something I would usually wear. (It's not black...or grey).

The Bobby Jersey Dress by London Times fit like a glove, and it so so SO comfortable. I love the sleeves, I love the fit, I even love the pattern. I wore it out last week and got quite a few compliments. Probably because people we so happy to see me in something with a fun pattern, rather than dressing like it's fall when really it's 90 degrees. Haha. What do you think?

Last by not least, a purse! A huge purse! It was time for an upgrade anyway, so I'm glad they sent one. I'm not totally invested in purses so I just wait for my sister to hand me down hers, but this time she was jealous of mine. Ha-Ha-Ha. The Benian Chain Detail Tote from Street Level came with a little wallet purse inside. A purse in a purse, how fun. 

So yes, it was a good box! I really like the dress and purse I kept. So much! If you are interested in trying stitch fix for yourself, I don't think you'll be disappointed. 

 

Monthly Mocha - Cafe Integral

July! You're my favorite month. (I'm biased because it's my birthday month.) 

A few weeks agoI got to hang out with one of my favorite photography teams K+B Photography. #girlpower It had been too long since we've hung out, so it was nice to catch up and just chill over a great coffee.

This month I checked out Cafe Integral which is found in the Freehand Hotel in River North. First of all their mochas are amazing. Not too sweet just how I like them. Secondly, they're served my drink in these oversized mugs that look like a bowl...ummmm yes please, I'll have a mocha bowl!

The cafe area is really nice, it has a big table that's great for a workspace or a meeting. The cafe also shares a lounge area with the hotel. It's a little dark, so I don't think I'd have a potential client meeting there, but it was fine for us to hang out and chat. 

I really like their vibe. The artwork and colors are really inviting. Energetic, simple, and calming.

Parking can be a bit tricky. There's street parking, but might not be the easiest to find. I parked in a garage a few blocks away that's reasonably priced with spothero.

Anyone want to come back and get a mocha with me?

Website refresher

As a business owner I feel like I've learned I'm never going to stop tweaking, and updating certain things on our website, social media, marketing visual, the list goes on. 

I mean I'm always learning, so it makes sense that I'm always trying to make things better. 

Well this weekend we filmed a little video that is now on our home page. It took much longer to get right than I thought. I was like we will be done in 15 minutes...and an hour later...I was still laughing and messing up the take. 

We even had to bring our kids along because... #parentlife and we didn't find any last minute sitters.

Anyway, here's the final take. 

And if you've got an extra 2 minutes...you can watch some bloopers.

All in all, I think our first try at filming our own video was a success. 

A HUGE thanks to Lil Epic Design for letting us use their amazing space. 

Another BIG thanks to Steph Shertz from Bushyl who has inspired me and taught me through her video course how to even do something like this myself. 

 

Monthly Mocha - Big Shoulders Coffee

Monthly Mocha time!!! Last month I had my first ever french press coffee and...I think I'm a coffee snob. I totally understood when they told me the differences between an aeropressed coffee, a drip coffee, and a french pressed coffee. They said things like undertones, oils, aromas...and I got it! 

And it was here at Big Shoulders Coffee where it all clicked. The staff was patient and wasn't annoyed when I asked what the difference was between brewing methods. 

My first time here was with Jenny Connors and I'm so glad because it was with her, because she was fine with my silly coffee questions, and was patient during my 5 minutes of trying to take the perfect picture of my first french press. 

I came back with Ashley from Ashley Nicole Events, Inc. yesterday (which is why my post is a day late). I meant to order a mocha...but I really wanted another french press.  

I'll definitely be back...for a mocha next time. I promise. :-D So if anyone is up for a hangout, this is a great place. 

I love the modern look inside, their amazing coffee choices, and their overall atmosphere. It's right off of I-94, and it's always been easy to find street parking. 

Yup, this one's a good one. 

Maya's 1st birthday

I can't believe little Maya is already a year old. I met her mama, Devika, when she was pregnant with her. I get so excited when I meet mom friends in the industry. 

She threw an amazing party and designed all of the paper goods herself. I know, she's amazing. Check out more of her amazingness over at Pink Elephant Events.

I'm so grateful I got to capture this special milestone!

And here are a few pictures from Maya's 1st birthday shoot the week before. Isn't she the cutest?!


SIDE NOTE:

It was really nice to shoot alongside Kristin from Kristen Cloyd Photography during the birthday party. Thanks for hanging with me! 

The year of giveaways - June

Summer is officially here! The 90 degree heat we've been having is a pretty obvious indicator.  I think a giveaway is in order! I tend to post a lot of my mid-afternoon coffees on Instagram, so I thought it would be nice for me to giveaway some coffee instead of letting you all just look at it. 

I know a pretty awesome husband and wife team that started their own coffee business; Good Manner Coffee.  (We actually photographed Alisha & Ray's wedding a few years ago.)

I absolutely love their mission, and of course their coffee.

We are a small coffee roaster based in Chicago. Our passion for coffee, love for people and deep appreciation for the arts is the motivation behind what we do. Coupled with the belief that everything should be done in a good manner we have set out to produce good coffee and partner with local artists who are creating good work.

You guys. It's so good. 

SO I'm giving away one 8oz bag of Organic Haitian Blue whole bean coffee. Eeeek so excited!

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

1. Follow me, @karina_mettsphoto on Instagram

2. Follow @goodmanner_ on Instagram

3. Like this photo

4. Comment with how you drink your coffee. (I drink mine with cream and sugar)

5. Tag up to 3 friends for extra entries.

Giveaway ends WEDNESDAY - June 22, 2016 at 5PM central

May the odds be ever in your favor. ;-)