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?

Elias is THREE!

Today my not so little boy turns three. He's told me a few times these last few days that he's a "big boy".

He gets all the heart eye emojis from me. I love this little boy so much that sometimes I think my heart might burst. He still asks me to hold his hand as he falls asleep, and I never turn him down. He loves to cuddle with me and give me big hugs. He also says, "Mom, I love you." as soon as he realizes he's about to get disciplined. (Yup...he knows how to pull my heart strings.)

My sweet, fearless, and goofy boy keeps us laughing all day. He loves playing with his cars and lining them up to race. He likes learning about science (especially dinosaurs and water life), and his favorite thing to do with Elena is build a world out of legos complete with airplanes and cars and a huge castle. His birthday request was to have a hammerhead, yellow birthday party, two of his favorite things. So I did my best to make it happen, and he loved it. 

First family vacation: Mexico

The Metts Mexico vacation was a success. We partied, swam, and got lots of sun. 

The kids were pretty amazing at the airport considering that it took over 3 hours for us to get from our car to the gate because Midway is cray-cray. They even had a great time on the plane without any screaming or tears. Yay! We got into Mexico at 11pm and poor Elias ended up falling asleep right before we touched down, he just couldn't keep his eyes open long enough to enjoy stepping into Mexico. Haha.

The next morning we got to sleep in, and hung out in Guadalajara for the day. There's this beautiful park that we always visit filled with lots of trees, fountains, and lakes. It's just a nice place to walk and explore. 

That afternoon we had a family get-together. The kids got to meet their cousins for the first time and I enjoyed hanging out with my cousins in person, not just virtually. They rented a bounce house which was a life saver with so many kids. Two of my cousins were pregnant at the same time I was pregnant with Elena and we had our kids a month apart, so it was fun to see them hanging out together.  

Here's a picture of all my cousins' I said, there were a lot of kids. Haha. 

The next day we drove 4 hours to Puerto Vallarta. Doesn't it look like paradise? I had the same breakfast everyday. Yogurt, granola, fresh fruit, Mexican pastries, and coffee. It was delicious! 

Elena got her first manicure while my mom and I got pedicures. She was SO excited. I usually don't let her paint her nails because she bites them, but she wanted this so badly that she stopped biting for the week! Now that's will power.

The hotel was all inclusive so we enjoyed breakfast and dinner at the hotel. 

The kids LOVED playing in the pool. And they played for hours and hours, jumping in over and over again. I had gotten the kids into swimming lessons for the last 6 months, which definitely paid off. Elena was like a fish and swam by herself, and Elias was fearless and would jump in without hesitation. 

They also liked the beach and searching for seashells...but they ended up only finding rocks. Haha. 

After a few days we drove back to Guadalajara and visited this popular market place where I picked up some souvenirs for Elena's classmates. Oh and Starbucks has taken over in Mexico. There are a LOT more locations since the last time I visited. 

We woke up at 3:30am on Saturday to make our early morning flight. Once again, the kids were great. As we were heading to the car at Midway, Elias asked "Are we in Mexico yet?" Haha. I guessed he missed the memo.

It was a great vacation that forced me to unplug. (The internet was awful and when I went to the business center at the hotel in Puerto Vallarta, it felt like they were using dial up.) But it was good for me to just focus on family time. Poor Michael got sick from food poisoning which was a bummer, and Elias got sick the day before we left, but overall it was great. 

We can't wait to go back in a few years. I can't stress enough how important it is to plan that time away to recharge and allow your creativity to be refueled. 

I was on periscope this past Monday talking about the importance of vacations so if you'd like to see the replay click the video below!

Monthly Mocha- Heritage Bicycles

I'm so bummed to be a few days late with my monthly mocha post. I guess I vacationed too hard...and didn't have good internet...that's the real reason. Haha. We had an awesome time in Mexico, (blog post coming soon) but I did miss my good coffee. 

I'm so excited I got to visit Heritage Bicycles in Lakeview last month. I'd heard only great things about this place, and when Gail from Gail Reich Photography suggested this place I was all for it. 

We met up for coffee after a long day. I was hungry, so I got a breakfast sandwich and a mocha. The sandwich was so good! Very fresh. And the mocha was great, although it kind of reminded me of a peppermint mocha. It was really good and not too sweet. 

I didn't realize this place is actually a bicycle shop. In the back there's a place to bring your bike for repair and you can also buy parts for your bike. It's got a very hipster vibe inside. 

They have an outdoor patio, and plenty of street parking. The coffee shop was pretty full when we got there, but I was still able to find a place to park right in front and didn't have to wait long for a table to open up. 

I'll be back for sure. Michael has come here a few times to work and has recommended it to me, so I'm glad I finally got to visit.   

The year of giveaways - March

This month's giveaway is a good one! (Not that the other's aren't...the student in me is just really excited about it). If you're following me on Periscope I'll be talking about this giveaway live at 3pm today! If you're not following me, what are you waiting for, go and follow me! @karina_mettsphoto

Here's a sneak peek. 


Here are the rules to win:

1. Follow me on Instagram @karina_mettsphoto and like the photo where the giveaway is featured.

2. Follow me on Periscope: @karina_mettsphoto.

3. Comment on the giveaway post with your Periscope name so I know you're following. 

Giveaway ends on Friday at 5pm where I'll be announcing the winner LIVE! 

A flower garden tea party

I've finally recovered from the whirlwind celebration for Elena's birthday last weekend. She is so excited to be FIVE. 

When I was thinking of what to do for her birthday party I mentioned that perhaps we could do a flower birthday or a tea party, or something else she liked, trying to see which one would get a bigger reaction. But I should've known that pretty much any idea is exciting to her. Her eyes lit up and she said YES! That sounds great! I asked which one? "Both!" she said. And that was the start of her flower garden tea party.

I wanted to create a memorable experience for her and her friends. At each setting they got some goodies: a ring, some hair clips, candy, and their own tea cup.


I then asked my good friend Lovely from May Floral if she would come and teach the girls how to make bouquets. She was amazing and brought a whole flower bar for the girls to play with. Elena was so excited about this part because she loves flowers.

Then I served some fruit tea for the girls and had fruits, veggies, and heart shaped sandwiches for them...but the good part was the cake. 

I ended up making over one hundred mini flower cupcakes...because you really can't have too many. 

Elena had such a great time with her friends! I'm also grateful for my friends that came out to celebrate with us and make bouquets. 

And since one party isn't enough, I threw another party in the evening with my family. We had beautiful flowers to decorate the table and Elena liked showing off her creations. 

I had forgotten to take pictures with her friends against the flower wall, (which took all week to make). But I didn't let my family leave without a group shot. ;-)

I'm so happy Elena enjoyed her day. We are just wrapping up writing thank you notes, and then I guess I'm off to plan Elias' party. He wants a yellow hammerhead shark birthday party. (Once again I offered too many options so we're doing them all.)

*a special thanks to Liz from Coachhouse Pictures for going thrifting for all the little tea sets!


Monthly Mocha - Three Arts Club Cafe

Feb 29th! This week I've been enjoying tea upon tea in preparation for Elena's flower garden tea party, but I didn't leave my love of mocha go. This month I'm excited to write about the new Three Arts Club Cafe found in Restoration Hardware in the Gold Coast.

There has been a lot of hype around the beauty of Restoration Hardware, but it took me a while to actually visit...and then I didn't want to leave. I've had several work dates and meetings here and I'm pretty sure I won't stop anytime soon. There aren't that many convenient cafes in the Gold Coast to meet clients or other vendors, but RH provides such a relaxing and peaceful atmosphere to work or chat. 

Their coffee is from Metropolis and their pastries are from the Donut Vault. Double win! They have nice couches along the restaurant where we can sit and chat. There are also long tables that are convenient for working. The first time I came I had a work day with Liz from Coachhouse Pictures and we ran into two fellow photographers, Jennifer & Jaclyn and we all worked together. Of course we also walked around to look at all the pretty mock rooms for inspiration. I've also run into Rebecca a fellow photographer as I was getting ready to go. (See it's a pretty hopping place among creatives)

I've hung out with Alyssa from CoChic Styling a few times here for coffee and a nice glass of wine. 

They have complimentary valet parking which is amazing. The music is audible but not too loud and pretty mellow so it's not distracting from having conversations or working. I have a few more meetings coming up next month here and I'm really excited to be going back.

Michael is a little jealous because I always rave about this place but have yet to come here with him. One day day.