Monthly Mocha: Back of the Yards Coffeehouse

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This is my new favorite coffee house. It's located in Back of the Yards which is where my father has one of his businesses. I worked right in the area for many years and I'm so excited that there's a great coffee shop with really good coffee in this area. 

The space is very urban modern with the walls painted my favorite blue. There's a really nice patio space which is perfect for the summer and fall. It's located right across the street from a school, so it gets busy after school gets out. They have a small parking lot in the back, but there's also street parking a few blocks away. 

The owners get their beans from a farmer in Mexico, and keep their family picture in the front of their store. They're passionate about offering a great coffee to a neighborhood that wouldn't normally see a shop like this. 

This is a great place to meet up with a friend. I especially enjoyed my hang out with fellow photographer Veronica Amador I also like to take the kids here in the morning for a cup of coffee and some lesson time. It's a few minutes from my father's shop, so it's nice to stop by after. :-D

I think we need more business owners who really care about their community and are going the extra mile to bring them quality products. 

Anyone want to visit this place? Let me know and we can make a coffee date. 

Avalos Family

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We have been friends with this family since before we had kids. From our first hang out we became fast friends, and I'm so glad our kids are now growing up together. 

I've photographed their first born several times, so he's a pro in front of the camera. Their second son took a while to warm up to me with my camera, but I managed to get a few smiles from him by the end of our session. 

Debbie and Leo are who I look to when I think of #relationshipgoals

Monthly Mocha: The Coffee Studio

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Whoa! I can't believe I missed a month of coffee post! I completely skipped over August!  And now we're in PSL season (I don't actually drink those...GASP...I know..I'm the worst...not really).

I actually visited this cafe in August, just haven't gotten around to posting about it. I ventured all the way up to Andersonville to visit some new Chicago friends at The Coffee Studio. I hung out with Tyler & Eric both amazing entrepreneurs. Tyler is an instagram strategist, and Eric is a fashion stylist with his own product line

The Coffee Studio is a perfect workplace environment. They have nice breakfast and lunch options along with a full array of pastries. They not only serve amazing coffee and tea options but they also serve craft beer and wine. CRAFT BEER. AND. WINE. Their hours, 6:30am-9pm, are perfect for the work from home folks (this is making me want to move to Andersonville). Parking is easy to find, making this a nice place to meet with fellow business owners or clients. One more perk is their outdoor patio. 

I'll definitely be back to this amazing cafe the next time I'm on the North Side. Who else is near The Coffee Studio and wants to plan a date with me?

The Healy Family

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I love the idea of extended family sessions. Capturing memories is so important and you'll never regret having the photos to look back on. 

This Michigan family session was one of the best times. Capturing the dynamics and love between a close family is amazing. 

And those two little boys are just the cutest brothers! #2brobros

The Parker Family

I had the privilege of working with Tiffany on a wedding a few years ago and she was amazing to work with. I was thrilled when she asked me to take her family photos this year. After being friends and following each other on social media, I was excited to meet her family in real life. And they're just as cute and lovely in person as they are in pictures. 

Monthly Mocha: Portage Grounds

I've been meaning to share this monthly mocha for a while now. We visited Portage Grounds in the spring (I know...it's been a while). I've wantedto visit this cafe for about 3 years. (Yup...that's a long time). 

I have a friend who has worked there, but have never found the right time to visit since it's more north than I usually travel. Well, it finally happened, and I'm so glad that he was working!!! 

Portage Grounds is straight north from us in Portage Park, northwest of Logan Square. It's a cute little cafe with cozy seating next to a fire place. It's very work-friendly and has a shared printer. There's also a little conference room in the back. 

The coffee is great! Their beans are from Passion House Coffee Roasters, and the mocha my friend Gabe made me was on point. We had a great time hanging out with him and his wife. 

Parking was easy to find and free. This cafe has such a relaxed vibe and would be great to meet clients, or friends to co-work. I give this one two thumbs up!

Monthly Mocha: C.C. Ferns

A work date... at C.C.Ferns... with Liz from Coach House Pictures!!!??? How could I say no??? I've heard about this cafe in Humboldt Park a while ago, and even visited a few times but I hadn't really gotten to enjoy the space until recently.

Liz and I worked here last week and it was really enjoyable. The service was great, my mocha was amazing, and the music was perfect for a work environment. 

It's pretty small and cozy, but seating wasn't hard to find. I felt like I was working in someone's home. Free street parking was easy to find across the street. Most of the patrons were working on their laptops or having quiet chats with others. I'd say this is a perfect cafe to bring a book, some work, or meet with a friend. 

Thanks Liz for choosing a great place! 

I mean how pretty does this mocha art look!!!

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

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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.