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


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 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 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?!


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!


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. ;-)

Monthly Mocha - Elaine's Coffee Call

I've had Elaine's Coffee Call on my radar since last year. However, I didn't realize it was inside the Lincoln Hotel. When Liz from Coach House Pictures, my coffee pal, suggested it this month, I was jazzed. 

I didn't know what to expect and it wasn't what I expected. The decor is eery and cool at the same time. It looks like the wall paper has been ripped right off in parts so you could see the boards underneath. The tables and chairs are very 70s, with a touch of modern. 

I got my usual mocha, which was delicious. Just a tad sweet, but good none-the-less.  

There was easy parking on the street. It's small, but it wasn't too crowded, and you could sit in the hotel lobby if you wanted a quieter space. They closed early, at 5pm, so this would be a nice place to meet clients or friends earlier in the day. 

Take a look at the pictures. Can't you imagine this cafe in a black and white old movie?

Until next month! And if you'd like to have a coffee date with me, just send me an e-mail or comment below. :-D

The year of giveaways - May

This year is filling with new adventures. Michael is settled into his new job. Our weddings so far this year have been Ah-Mazing, and we're just starting to get into wedding season. I'm enrolling Elena in a new homeschooling program, and Elias is going to be starting preschool. I'm in the process of launching a new business, and I've started a new Phone Photography tips weekly newsletter. 

SO MANY THINGS!!! But it's all great!

Despite our growing business and shift in family lifestyles, it's so important for me to be present and celebrate our memories. I take a lot of photos on my phone. A lot. It's so easy for those memories to just be left floating around in the cloud. Which is why this month I'm talking about printing your memories. 

I have a wall in our house that always has recent prints of our life. I love walking past it every day, and hearing the kids randomly stop and look at the photos, remembering what was going on at the time the photograph was taken. 

I'm giving away a $25 gift card to Parabo Press so you can get your photos off your phone and into real life. All you have to do to be entered is sign up to receive our weekly phone photography tips! If you've already signed up, you're already entered. Easy.

You'll also get to see the new opt-in I created this week: 6 ways to communicate with your photos. The winner will be announced on Friday in the e-mail that goes out. SO be sure to sign up before Friday at 9am.

Can't wait to see who wins!

Elena's Ballet recital

Elena has been dancing ballet for half her life now. I remember going to her first combination dance class and thinking that maybe I'd made a mistake starting her so early. After a year, I knew I needed to put her in a more serious ballet company where she would get a better foundation. 

This weekend I was so proud of her and am completely secure in knowing I made the right decision. 

She's been dancing with Ballet 5:8 for over a year now. She only has one recital a year at this age and it's a full ballet story. While her class has a little part, (about a two-minute sequence) I'm so happy she's learning to be part of a bigger picture. Next season she gets to move up to the next level which she's so excited about.

I'm not able to see her classes, but I've seen her form and discipline improve so much from last year's recital. 

I didn't take any pictures with our professional camera this year. Michael was away on a business trip, so I wanted to make sure I was fully present with her during the weekend. 

She gets so excited when I put hairspray in her hair and make-up on. She's such a girl. 

I saw a this cool wall, and wanted to take a picture...but she doesn't always cooperate...especially when it's chilly outside. Lol

I took one picture during the performance to send to Michael. At the end of the show, she was pretty disappointed she didn't get to bow as her class went on stage, so after the show I took her aside so she could bow. She's serious about her bows. 

This is seriously my favorite time of the season. We both get so excited about it...and I can't wait for next year!

Monthly Mocha - Beatrix

This month's monthly mocha is a little different than my usual cafe posts. I visited Beatirx a few months ago because the coffee shop where I had planned to meet up with Mae from Ruth's Chris Steak House, was really full, so we just walked a few blocks to Beatrix. 

I really like this spot because it's right in River North and easy to get to if I have couples wanting to meet up after work and there's always plenty of seating. The feel is very laid back, but upscale. When you walk in, there's a restaurant that has really good food and wine. I actually met up with one of my couples here for a meeting and we talked about their plans over drinks. They also have a coffee bar section with some nice pastries.

I spent a few hours working at the restaurant this month and then moved over to the attached hotel lobby to listen to a webinar. Those bubble chairs were pretty comfy. 

The times I've been here, I've been able to find parking pretty easily. This is a super nice place to get coffee or drinks, so who's coming with me next time?