Play Hard: Chicago

It’s no surprise that Chicago is my home away from home and I absolutely love experiencing new things the city has to offer. My friends know I’m the gal to go to for recommendations in the city and I thought I’d bring my list of favorites to life by sharing it with all of you!

Drinks and Eats:

Three Dots and a Dash – MY FAVORITE BAR EVER. It’s grown wildly popular for it’s underground (yes, you heard me, underground!) tiki theme and imported rums in the last few years so you’ll need to make a reservation but I promise it’s worth it.

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Pops for Champagne – We all know I love my champagne and pops definitely delivers the best selection of champs and cheese boards!

Raised Bar – I actually did an entire review of Raised Bar last year so I’ll link it here and let that post do the talking.

The Up Room at The Robey – I was lucky enough to collab with The Robey earlier this year and had the best experience at The Up Room! The views were incredible and the drinks were all hand crafted.

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Cindy’s Rooftop – Another place with a great view and trendy drinks!

LondonHouse Rooftop – Hellllooooo perfect view of the Chicago River! This rooftop terrace is one of the prettiest in Chicago to grab a drink and admire the beauty of Chi Town.

Cubby Bear – A typical bar located in Wrigleyville but perfect for a pre-Cubs game drink!

Quartino – Honestly, one of my favorite Italian restaurants ever. I love pasta and I love pasta even more if it’s fresh/homemade. Let’s not forget about their Lemoncello Martini!

Public House Chicago – One of my favorite stops in River North for not only a great brunch but for their boozy cake shakes!

Giordano’s Pizza – Don’t come for me, this is my FAV deep dish ‘za in Chicago and always will be.

Rosebud – A cute restaurant with some Italian flare in River North.

Beatrix – With a couple of locations in Chi, this is one of the best places for a girl’s Sunday Funday brunch! (my girl gang and I went to the one in the west loop!)

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The Q – I’m not a huge fan of BBQ but The Q always serves up some delicious southern ‘Q.

Hub 51 – A great, American classic restaurant where you can devour a burger and fries or a few cocktails!

Portillos – I hate hotdogs so I can’t personally vouch for this but everyone says Portillos is THE place to get a legit Chicago dog. The cheese fries are delish too!

Noyane – SUSHI and a view!

Velvet Taco – Theeee place to taco ’bout! Everyone loves Velvet Taco and if you go, you’ll see why!

Big Star Taco – Margs? Check. Family style tacos? Check. Multiple Salsa Options? Check.

STK – I literally loveeeeee STK. I recently visited the Las Vegas location and the food is literally always amazing. Slightly pricey but totally worth it!

Tavern on Rush – A chic, trendy place to grab lunch or dinner. Great for groups too!

Steak 48 – Another super good place to get a steak cooked to absolute perfection.

Goddess and the Grocer – Absolutely obsessed with G&G. Super fresh ingredients and so great for a tasty lunch.

Hampton Social – The best frosé in the game and the cutest vine wall ever! (also great for brunch)

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Summer House Santa Monica – Beachy vibes and great food.

Where to Stay? 

I’m partial to River North because that’s just where I like to hang out so most of my favorites are in that area! 

Acme Hotel Company – If you follow me on Instagram you already know I love this place with my whole heart. The vibes, the location, the staff, the cleanliness … everything is amazing! Can’t say I love it enough!

The Gwen – A cute, swanky hotel in close proximity to Michigan Ave and the River front.

The Dana – Adorable hotel complete with spa! Who could want more?

Moxy Chicago Downtown – a NEW hotel to Chicago. Similar vibes to that of Acme but located a little south of River North in the loop!

Where to Play?

Cubs Game – I’m a Cubs fan and have been since basically birth! So, I’m partial to a Cubs game but the White Sox fans know how to party too. Either way, you really can’t go wrong … but … Wrigleyville has my heart.

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The Bean – A Chicago classic attraction. Pro Tip: Go early before all the tourists get there … oops probably shouldn’t give away my secret 😉

Navy Pier – It’s always a good time at Navy Pier! River cruises, Chicago eye, the conservatory … all the best things in one place!

Lincoln Park Zoo – What better way to spend an afternoon?

Social 25 – A club in River North with an upstairs and downstairs. In my prime, I may or may not have danced on a table of two in the basement of this place.


I’m always updating my list of favorites in Chicago so don’t hesitate to ask me for more recommendations and if I didn’t cover something you wish I would have in this post, let me know!

xx, Kaitlyn

 

Passion for Influence

A while back I made an Instagram Story (if you don’t follow me on IG, I post stories about my dog and food mostly – it’s quality stuff!) about taking a break from blogging. I wasn’t creating content I loved and I simply didn’t feel inspired to write about things I was truly passionate about. Sure, I can produce content weekly, even daily if I wanted to, but that’s not why I’m here in my little corner of the internet. I’m here because I have a passion for creating. So, long story short, I opted not to produce content just for the sake of having a blog post go live and I hope my followers can appreciate that because when I do post they know they’re getting the maximum.

Sooo frequently I’m asked “how do I become an influencer!?” or “how do I get free product?!” or “how do I start making money on Instagram!?” … and I’m always taken back before I answer. You see, you can’t go into this industry of blogging and being an influencer with the mindset that you’ll be able to quit your job immediately and bask in the glory of “free product” in exchange for a post. If that’s what your intention is, I’ll tell you right now, you probably won’t be happy. Being an influencer takes work, real work, and you’re not always compensated for your time. It’s not as simple as standing next to a cool wall with a cute outfit and taking photos. It’s creating content even when you’re not in front of a camera, planning your blog posts, and most importantly, constantly having your “business” in mind. Being that my background is in Public Relations and Marketing, specifically as it relates to social media, I have a really good grasp on the influencer market and on the ever changing world of Instagram, my platform of choice. Instagram is like an actual game of risk because it takes planning and determination to grow yourself organically. I could go on forever about Instagram but I’ll save that for another blog post. I’m continuously researching how to better myself and how to combat Instagram’s algorithm so that I’m able to share my successes and my failures with not only my Instagram friends but companies and brands. Now, remember what the title of this blog post is? Passion for Influence. That’s something raw and real. Each day, as I’m plotting my attack on IG (heehee), I remind myself why I’m doing what I do. Each time I have a fluctuation in engagement or my follower count isn’t at a constant incline, I remind myself why I continue to do what I do. Here’s the short answer, I have a passion for influencing others. I believe strongly that the power of influence can impact the lives of many and that’s why I’m here. Most of the time, I’m sharing products I love or collaborating with companies that I love to give you guys the best reviews and testimonials. However, I’m also sharing when I fall short. I’m hoping that by not only sharing the good but the bad too, that I’m able to positively impact someone. It’s not always about the number of followers you have or your engagement score, it’s about having fun with your content and being transparent to your followers!

Usually, when I tell people the long version of that story, they either decide that becoming an influencer isn’t as easy as they originally thought it would be and they move on with their life or they take the challenge head on to begin growing their brand. I’m not an expert and I have a long way to go to be where I want to be. There will always be influencers who are better than I am and do way more than I ever could, but I know that at the end of the day I’m giving this path I’ve chosen my all to strive for my ultimate goal of spreading my passion to create content and positively influence others to the masses. Happy Monday!

 

xx, Kaitlyn 

Realistic Resolutions for the New Year

New Years resolutions can be hard to keep, especially if they’re major life changes or something you have to work hard to maintain. Aside from the fact that it takes a minimum of 21 days to break a habit, such as going to the gym instead of binge watching Netflix, the added pressure of reaching your goal can be daunting which makes it harder to focus on the desired results. I’ve compiled a list of my favorite yet simple ways to ensure you’ll have a fabulous year in 2018!

Drink more water. This sounds like an easy task but even if you’re just sitting around the house, your body requires roughly 64 ounces of water each day! How funny is it that we can drink several glasses of champagne in one sitting but the thought of drinking our daily required amount of water feels hard! I love water and always have so for those of you who find it difficult to drink enough, I suggest investing in a fun water bottle like a S’well or a bottle that encourages you to want to drink more water. Also, take note of how many ounces are in the bottle of your choice and make a mental note of how many bottles of water you need to drink to hit your goal. It won’t seem as horrific as drinking eight, 8 oz glasses of water each day.

Stretch more. How silly does that sound? “My New Years Resolution is to stretch more” … but I’m serious! Take some extra time in the morning, literally 2 additional minutes, to stretch your body. Wake your body up the natural way instead of running for the  nespresso machine in your kitchen. Now, I’m not saying to stop drinking your favorite lattes but you will notice a difference in your energy level first thing in the morning simply from stretching your body.

Sign up for a new workout class. Workout classes are 100% different than casually going to the gym because with a workout class you’re held accountable to be there or you’ll be fined. I don’t know about you but I’m not about paying money for something I didn’t do. So, sign up for a spin class or a TRX class or even just a beginners yoga class. Do something you wouldn’t normally do! You’ll probably really enjoy the challenge.

Practice daily self affirmation. Tell yourself each day through writing or by speaking that you deserve to have a great day! Tell yourself that you’re a boss ass b*tch and remind yourself that you deserve that raise. Tell yourself that you’re going to do a great job today. At the end of the day, reflect on what happened. Did you meet your goals? Did you lose hope in your words of affirmation? If so, what can you do better tomorrow? Live your best life!

Try something new at least one time each month. So, this was a resolution I came up with for myself a few years ago. At the time, I had never been on an airplane, I had never been out of the country, etc … and I was itching for new experiences. During the year I flew across the country to visit one of my best friends, I went to Canada for the first time (my friendly neighbor to the east), and at the end of the year I had at least 12 new things I did that year. It was absolutely incredible to reflect on the memories I made, the laughs I shared, and the challenges I had. Each month set a goal to do or try something new to you and when you accomplish it, write it down either in your notes on your phone or physically on paper. Even if you didn’t like what you tried, you still pushed yourself to do something new!

Meatless Day. Pick a day of the week and go meatless. I’m not here to preach to you about veganism or vegetarianism but I am here to say that I really monitor my animal product consumption for my own health reasons. I’ll still eat a cheeseburger and love every second of if but I’ll always have multiple days per week where I go completely meatless. If you’re skeptical, feel free to reach out! I have a ton of self-created vegetarian recipes that I’d love to share with you. Who knows, you might actually prefer the vegetarian option to the option made with meat. Plus, this can be your “something new” to try for the month!

I hope you celebrate the New Year and have the most amazing time with friends or family. If you’re watching the ball drop in your jammies on the couch or if you’re decked out in sequins at a VIP party popping champagne at midnight, I wish you the best start to 2018!

xx, Kaitlyn

Gift Guide #3: For The Person Who Has Everything

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Case App – With so many of the same, types of phone cases and laptop skins on the market, it’s often hard to find one that you haven’t seen 100 times before. If you’re shopping for someone who “has everything” chances are they probably have the latest and trendiest tech accessories. Well, Case App allows you to design and create your very own, customized phone cases and laptop skins! This means you complete and total creative freedom to really give that special person on your list exactly what they’re looking for. Use my code ” KAITLYN20 ” for 20% off until December 22nd!

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Amazon Prime subscription – With everything accessible at the touch of your finger tips, Amazon Prime has quickly become one of the most useful services to purchase. What better way to say, “Happy Holidays” than with a year of free Prime! The best thing about Amazon Prime is that having access to Prime doesn’t just mean fast shipping and awesome discounts. It also means having access to Amazon Movies and other fun Amazon features that are sure to bring delight for months to come!

Monthly Subscription Box – I am all about monthly subscriptions and I love giving them as gifts! I think it’s so fun to open a little present each month that gets delivered right to my door. Some of my favorite monthly subscription boxes include UnderClub Co, Hum Nutrition, and Sephora Play!. Let me dive a little deeper into each box and give you the low down on why I love them all.

1. UnderClub is a luxury underwear subscription service for women. They pride themselves on delivering the best products to women to help them start their day off feeling their absolute best. I love the high quality items I’ve received and I love how simple it is to try new products because they’re delivered to me each month. I highly recommend giving this subscription service a try! You can sign up for 3, 6, and 12 month services on their website! Grab your UnderClub gift here

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2. Hum Nutrition is a monthly vitamin subscription service that, in my opinion, trumps all the rest. I have been obsessed with Hum Nutrition for years and I absolutely love getting new products in the mail each month. The sign up process is super easy and literally as simple as 1, 2, 3 …! After signing up for a subscription, you’re paired with a nutritionist that helps guide you through your journey to better health. You can customize your monthly box each month which makes giving this subscription as a gift to someone who has everything, the best possible!

3. Play! by Sephora It’s no secret that I’m a long time Sephora lover. I’ve tried allll of the other makeup subscription boxes and, while I like them, none of them have ever compared to the value I find in my Play! by Sephora box. What I love most in comparison to other monthly makeup subscriptions in the same price range is that with Play! by Sephora you’re promised 6 of their best selling or hottest trending products. One of those products will be a perfume sample and the other five will be something that you’ll actually use instead of throwing in your sample drawer and forgetting about it. For only $10 per month, I think this is a steal!

The best thing about giving a subscription of monthly boxes to someone that has everything is that they’re getting something new each month.

S’well Bottles – I am obsessed with S’well bottles and I have amassed quite a collection … good for me but not good for my cupboards and to be quite honest, lack of storage space. Anyway, with so many different designs and sizes of S’well bottles, there’s sure to be something for everyone. The best thing about S’well bottles is that they encourages you to drink more water and who doesn’t want that? They’re perfect to take on an airplane, to a workout class, to the office, or even just to keep in your car to refill at your connivence.

Popsocket – THE MOST UNDERRATED PRODUCT OF 2017! I am in love with my popsocket and I truly cannot imagine going back to the days before I had a popsocket on my phone. You know; the days of laying in bed, looking at your phone, and dropping it on your forehead? Or, how about, trying to take the perfect group selfie but your phone slipping out of your hand and cracking your screen as it falls onto the cement? Sound familiar? With a popsocket, you’re able to stabilize your phone and give your poor pinky a rest while texting. Not to mention, for less than $15 you can completely customize your popsocket and give one of the most practical and meaningful gift this year!

Tile – Never lose your things ever again! This little device pairs with your phone via bluetooth to help you track down anything it is attached to. If your item is within a 100-foot bluetooth radius of your phone, Tile plays a loud tune until your find it. This is literally the best gift anyone could give in my option, because I can’t even count how many times I’ve lost my keys, purse, sunglass case, etc… and have wasted hours looking for items that were right in front of me all along.

An Experience – If you think about it, the reason why someone claims to “have everything” is because they’re just craving an experience or just itching to spend some quality time with you. Ticket to a concert, or a show like cirque du soleil, or a fun night out at a food and drink tasting festival are all really incredible gifts that can be shared together making memories.

 

xx, Kaitlyn

Cider Mill SZN

Hey hey! Wow, has it been a minute since I sat down to write a blog post. One of my goals for the end of this year is to be better at managing my work life, social life, personal life, and hobbies (like blogging) so that I’m able to consistently deliver content to all of my incredible followers.

Let’s talk about this for a second, how in the world is it November already? I feel like this fall has flown by quicker than I can blink. October may be over but cider mill season doesn’t have to be. Michigan has no shortage of cider mills, that’s for sure. In fact, there are over 50 well-known cider mills across the state. Naturally, I held my own cider mill show down, just for fun, between three of the top cider mills in Michigan and compared them across three categories; overall atmosphere, cider (or cider slushies), and cinnamon sugar donuts. These categories are all important to the experience of a cider mill, in my opinion. I went to each of these cider mills on the same day, it was a beautiful autumn Saturday here in Michigan. One of those days that makes you so thankful to live in the mitten state, aside from the fact that it was 70 degrees in the middle of October (holy hot!).

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Disclaimer: I do not like donuts but will make an exception for cinnamon sugar donuts in the fall. I brought along my boyfriend, we’ll refer to him as “J”, for a second opinion on the donuts.

Blake’s Cider Mill

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Atmosphere

Blake’s Cider Mill is perfect for a day date or night out with friends. What I love most about Blake’s is the versatility the spacious grounds offer for people of all ages. If you didn’t know, Blake’s has a tasting room for their hard ciders and wines on site which is the perfect way to end (or start) a trip to a cider mill.

Cider Slushies

Perfectly frozen, fresh, sweet. I wish I could have taken the cider slush machine home with me, to be honest.

Cinnamon Sugar Donut

Crisp on the outside yet soft and dense on the inside. The cinnamon flavor was on point and paired very well with the cider slush.

Uncle John’s Cider Mill

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Atmosphere

More kid-friendly than the others and not as spacious as Blake’s but Uncle John’s also has a hard cider tasting room for their phenomenal hard ciders, my favorite is the blueberry hard cider. So delicious! I wouldn’t recommend visiting on a busy day because of the influx of families and crowds which equates to long lines.

Cider Slushies

Tart with sweet after notes. I’m a cider slush lover and wait all year long for them. I wasn’t a huge fan of the apples used to create the cider.

Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

Not a favorite, actually. These donuts were lacking cinnamon flavor and were slightly dry compared to the others. They reminded me of a powdered donut rather than a cinnamon sugar donuts.

Yate’s Cider Mill

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Atmosphere

Congested on a busy Saturday, but quaint and perfect for a close up touch with nature.

Cider

Great apple flavor with a mix of sweet and tart apples.

Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

These donuts were almost like a cake pop. They were so dense and moist all the way through, which I thought was incredible. They had great cinnamon flavor and were super fresh when we received them.


 

Overall Scoring:

Atmosphere

#1 Blake’s Cider Mill

#2 Yate’s Cider Mill

#3 Uncle John’s Cider Mill

Cider

#1 Blake’s Cider Mill

#2 Yate’s Cider Mill

#Uncle John’s Cider Mill

Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

#1 Yate’s Cider Mill

#2 Blake’s Cider Mill

#3 Uncle John’s Cider Mill

All in all, these hot spots are incredible for your cider mill needs. Be sure to check them out in person and on social media, of course! Be sure to tag me (@collectivelykaitlyn on Instagram) in your posts if you make your way to any of these fantastic cider mills.

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What’s your favorite fall activity?

xx, Kaitlyn

 

NASH-ing!

Hey hey! Before I get into the blog for today, I wanted to touch on something I think is so important. I took a little time away from my blog to focus on some self-love. I think unplugging and removing yourself from the internet is so incredibly important especially if being online all the time (social media included) is a huge part of your job and one of your favorite hobbies. It’s perfectly okay to take a step back whenever you feel the urge to because there’s only one of you and you need to take care of yourself! One of my favorite self-love books to read when I’m trying to detox from the chaos of the internet is Light is the New Black. I linked it for ya, so feel free to check it out!


Okay, on into the goods. One of the things I love most about traveling is experiencing the sense of community a new city has to offer. I adore the feeling of being surrounded by people who just absolutely enjoy the place in which they live. It’s empowering! Recently, you all know I visited Nashville and I saw these adorable NASH hats at a boutique in The Gulch. I absolutely needed one! In addition to hats, there were tees and tanks with the words NASH or VILLE on them, cute right?. These simple yet oh so chic items won me over immediately. I had to learn more about this brand and that’s when I knew I needed to know more about how this company blossomed.

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The Nash Collection was started based on the lack of non-cheesey, chic, souvenir-type apparel items in Nashville. Aside from pleasing the tourists, there was a serious need for locals to feel a sense of identity with their city. I was so lucky to have the opportunity to talk one on one with Laci, the founder of The Nash Collection. Before launching The Nash Collection, Laci was able to do some recon through a boutique called Revv in Nashville to determine just how strong the demand was and, because of that, was able to deliver the products so many customers were dying to have. Their first round of NASH hats hit the shelves at Revv in July 2016 and it’s been a booming market ever since! One of the coolest aspects about The Nash Collection is most of their items are unisex so it’s not geared towards one specific gender.

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While I’m not a local to the Nashville area, I do feel at “home” when I’m there. Is that weird? Do you ever have that feeling like you’re just supposed to be somewhere? Nashville is truly such an inviting city with so many quirks and a whole lot of spunk. Not to mention tons (literally because they’re building so many new buildings with tons of metal, haha) and tons of new developments popping up all over the city. Nashville is an emerging, growing city with thousands of individuals and families moving to the area each month. Talk about an awesome influx!

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So, maybe you’re not in Nashville and maybe you have no desire to move there. Well, have no fear because The Nash Collection has expanded beyond Nashville and has plans in the future to keep expanding their brand. The best thing about this collection is the fact that you can sport these pieces literally any time of the day. If it’s at the gym, pool side, or throwing a VILLE tank on with a cardigan to run errands – there’s something for everyone! Be sure to check them out online and see what cities they’ve already expanded to. The Nash Collection didn’t just create a brand, they created a lifestyle!

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xx, Kaitlyn

 

Rooftop Season

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Rooftop bar season is possibly my favorite time of the year, especially in Chicago. With so many unique, fun rooftops to choose from it’s often hard to pick just one! I’m here to give you in the inside scoop on one of the best I’ve been to. I classify best based on price of drinks, atmosphere, and view. Raised, one of my favorite rooftops in Chicago, is located just south of River North in The Loop district right on the river. As you can imagine, the views are absolutely killer!

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Raised has an upbeat, urban vibe complete with some of the friendliest mixologists around. One of the best things about this place is that there is an indoor section too so you can enjoy Raised all year long! Personally, I feel like this place is a hidden gem in the rooftop bar scene because, while steadily busy, it’s not overly packed like some locations are. Okay, let’s talk about the goods, the cocktail menu. Every signature cocktail on their menu creates a special euphoric experience hand-crafted for patrons to enjoy in good company. They don’t pay me to say this, I swear. My favorite is called the Jenever which is a beautiful blend of lavender, strawberries, lemon, and Bombay Sapphire – SO good!

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Next time you’re in the windy city make sure this place is on your list of go-to’s. Go get yourself a Jenever, an order of Truffle Frites (or any type of French Fries on their menu tbh), and grab a seat overlooking the Chicago skyline. Trust me, you’ll thank me later! Check out their Instagram page for more stellar views and pretty drinks (@RaisedBarChicago)!

What’s your favorite rooftop bar? 

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p.s. slightly embarrassed, slightly proud – this is me actually gawking at an order of the truffle fries I mentioned

xx, Kaitlyn