The Year of Me

The Year of Me

Not only have I decided that I need to work on myself personally, financially, and health wise, but I also need to work on myself professionally. Over the past two years I have spent a lot of time applying to over 200 jobs that I could definitely excel at if given the opportunity. I decided that in 2017 I would stop moping around, but I would actually take action. I have signed up for three classes through Udemy: 1) The Complete Web Developer Course 2.0; 2) Microsoft Excel- Excel from Beginner to Advanced; 3) SPSS Statistics Foundation Course: From Scratch to Advanced. I picked these three courses out because I wanted to learn something new, but important or I wanted to strengthen skills I already have. Now I know some of you are wondering, why is a Macro Social Worker learning technical skills? The answer is, well a lot of macro social work jobs I applied to or read wanted some technical skill I didn’t possess, so I’ve decided to change that and I’m going to learn new things.

I also decided to attend a program through Social Brand School to learn more about Instagram, and how to monetize it. My main goals for this are to figure out how to use Instagram to draw readers to my blog, and how I can use Instagram with a non-profit I do some work for.

Some other online resources I’ve looked at to learn new skills are Skillcrush, General Assembly, and Google Analytics. I decided not to do these courses, because I don’t have enough time to dedicate to them; however, I’m still interested in completing them in the future. Once I finish my four classes, I promise to tell you about my experiences with online learning platforms and what I think of them. Happy learning everyone!

2017 Goals

2017 Goals

Well I realize that this is a few days late posting this- sorry! 2017 has been hectic, and we’re only eight days in! I thought I would share some goals I have for 2017, so that way I’m held accountable (we all know accountability is important when trying to achieve something).

  • One of my 2016 goals was to exercise more, and while I tried to accomplish that goal, it was a bit unachievable starting in March. In March, I started noticing that I had a pain in my right foot, and while I thought it was nothing it turned out that when I went to the doctor in May I had a stress fracture. So, from May-July I was basically immobile because I wanted my foot to heal correctly the first time, and not to fracture or break. Once I could move again and my foot didn’t hurt, I tried going back to yoga, but that only irritated it with all the different positions. Then I went back to spinning, which was better, but not great (still would get pain, but the instructors were really understanding and encouraging). In October, I found Orangetheory fitness and realized that I was super out of shape, and I ended up getting a membership there so I could get a full body workout twice a week. My goal for 2017 is to get better at cardio. Cardio has never been something I’ve been good at, so I decided to set a high goal that I really have to work hard to achieve. I’m already working on it, because earlier this week I got five splat points when I typically only get one or two. I’m also still using my Fitbit as a way to hold me accountable.
  • On my 25th birthday, I decided that I am going to attempt to travel to all 50 states before I turn 30. I know that this is a big goal, but I think that with careful planning it is completely achievable. I only need 13 more states, including two that I have trips planned for (Hawaii and Nashville, TN).
  • My next goal is to work on budgeting and saving money. I need to learn how to set and stick to a budget. I am currently still using Mint to help me budget, and then I found that using the Digit App is a great way to save. It takes small increments of money out of my account, and keeps it in a Digit account. This is a better system for me, because I don’t see the money in my actual savings account and want to spend it.
  • My final goal for 2017 is to be more politically active. Since the election did not go the way I had hoped, I think it is important to stand up for what I believe in and to work with amazing organizations that are going to fight for the rights of so many vulnerable populations.

I’m going to work hard at accomplishing my goals for the year, and I really want to know what all of you are trying to achieve in 2017. Let’s work on our goals for 2017 together, and I hope the year is off to a great start!

P.S. I am also going to work on blogging more consistently and to catch up on posts that I didn’t get to in 2016. 🙂

Let’s Talk About Goats

Let’s Talk About Goats

2016 was a big year for the City of Chicago and goats. The Cubs FINALLY WON THE WORLD SERIES, breaking the curse of the Billy Goat, and it was the year I discovered Girl and the Goat and Little Goat.

Girl and the Goat

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During my time home, I went to Girl and the Goat with my BFF and her BF, and it was probably my favorite foodie adventure with her. When we initially sat down, it was 10:15pm, and we were just eating dinner. Seriously who eats dinner at that hour- my parents thought we were crazy, but the craze about this restaurant was worth the late dinner time. I immediately noticed the vibe of the restaurant, modern but comfortable, and I knew I was going to like it. Our waiter was probably the most helpful waiter I’ve ever had, he thoroughly walked us through the menu and marked his favorite dishes under each category. This made the experience for two newbies much more pleasant and less overwhelming.

We ended up ordering the Sautéed Green Beans, Roasted Cauliflower, Escargot Ravioli, Pig Face, Goat Belly, and Caramel Corn and Malt Balls and the Dark Matter Pot De Crème for dessert. All the food was AMAZING! Every bite is designed to please each taste bud, and balance each type of flavor (sweet, salty, bitter, etc.). I have never enjoyed each bite of a meal like this before, so it was worth it to wait until 10:15pm to eat. For the amount of food, we ordered and one drink per person, the bill was quite reasonable- which surprised us! Since I loved this experience so much, I made it my goal to go to Little Goat when I came home for the Holidays in December.

Little Goat

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Flash-forward a few weeks, and I’m back in Chicago, and ready for my next exciting dinning adventure. This time my friend and I went to Little Goat, which has more of a rustic diner feel. We arrived a bit early, and went to the bar on the other side of the restaurant to wait. I got the Moscow Goat and my friend got a Pinot Noir. The menu at Little Goat is even more overwhelming/expansive since they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I knew that we had to get the Tempura Mashed Potatoes, but really had no idea for how to tackle the menu. We decided to each find an entrée and then we found some sides that we were intrigued by and just selected three. We ordered the Bi Bim Bop Breakfast Bowl, Bull’s Eye French Toast, Tempura Mashed Potatoes, Goat Chili Cheese Fries, and the Hot Crab Dip.

Everything at Little Goat felt more like eating creatively made and presented comfort food. It was delicious and we definitely over ordered for two people. I would say my two favorite items at Little Goat were the Bull’s Eye French Toast and the Goat Chili Cheese Fries. I loved the combination of flavors in the Bull’s Eye French Toast- sweet, salty, and savory all in one bite. As for the Goat Chili Cheese Fries- I a) had never had goat on fries before b) loved how all the flavors just made one amazing bite. Little Goat is also affordable- just make sure you don’t over order 🙂

If you’re going to be traveling or live in Chicago- I highly suggest that you make reservations at one or both restaurants. If you want to go to Girl and the Goat at a normal time, then you definitely need to book it months in advance. Both restaurants have amazing food, and I suggest that you pick one based off either your desire to try something completely different or if you want more unique comfort food. Happy Eating!

Unique Gift Ideas

Unique Gift Ideas

Since it’s the Holiday Season, and people are trying to finish up their last-minute holiday shopping, I thought I would share some of my favorite items to give as gifts.

For the Person Who Love Art…

 

One of my favorite stores in Chicago is Ignite. It is a glass blowing center, and they have a store that sells ornaments, bowls, vases, bottle stoppers, and much more. Everything is handmade at the facility, and looks beautiful! Some of my favorite ornaments are the candy canes and the icicles.

If you’re the type of person who would rather give the gift of a memory, then a tangible item, then Ignite also offers different glass blowing classes!

 

For the Person Who Loves Personalized or Patterned Items…

I love to design and personalize gifts, but my talent for making homemade gifts is non existent. I like to create personalized gifts for people on May Designs. They sell super cute notebooks, calendars, stationary, desk accessories, and so much more for a great price! I’m a huge fan of the notebooks, and when you first go to their website they give you 15% off your first order for entering your email address. Now who doesn’t love cute and affordable gifts?!

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For the Person Who Lives Far Away…

For the people who live out of state, I think that giving something compact and that is a favorite of yours is always nice. One of my favorite things to give people is chocolates, but not just any chocolates, I get people Frango chocolates. Most people haven’t heard of them, but they used to be made in Marshall Fields (now Macy’s). To me they remind me of home, Chicago, and are delicious. I like to write a nice long card with a box of Frango chocolates, because everyone deserves a sweet gift!

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I hope my gift ideas help ya’ll! Happy Holidays Everyone!

Chef Time #2

Chef Time #2

As someone who’s trying very hard to learn to cook, I thought I would share two of my new favorite recipes.

 Tuna Fish and Noodles

I know this recipe seems a bit bland or unusual, but for me it tastes like home. It possible is my favorite dish that my mom makes.

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Ingredients
8 oz. wide or extra wide noodles
6.5 oz. tuna fish (you can use 2 small cans or 1 large can)
Cream of Mushroom soup

Steps
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bring pot of water to boil; add noodles and stir.  Cook until done, drain & rinse with hot water.
Drain tuna and break chunks up.
Add ½-3/4 cup milk to soup.  (I usually put soup in 1 qt. pot over low heat and gradually stir in milk.)
Grease casserole dish with butter or margarine.
Layer noodles, tuna, soup (thin), & repeat, ending with soup.
Cook 1 hour.

*If you want to add peas or another veggie to the recipe, you definitely can!

 

 

Eggplant and Mozzerella

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Ingredients

Eggplant Recipes – use a rimmed cookie sheet for both
Eggplant Sorrento Style
2 medium to large eggplants (approx. 2 lbs. total), sliced about 1/4-inch thick
¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
4 ripe tomatoes, sliced approx. ¼-inch thick
1 lb. mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
24 large basil leaves

Steps
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place eggplant slices on lightly oiled baking sheets. Brush both sides with olive oil (you can use olive oil spray instead).  Bake until softened, about 10 min.  Turn & bake until almost tender throughout, about 5 min. more.  Remove from oven.  Add salt & pepper (I don’t use this). Top with 1 slice of tomato, 1 slice of mozzarella and a basil leaf. Bake until cheese melts (5 min. or so).  Serve immediately.

 

If you have an easy recipe you want me to try, please share it! Enjoy!

Travel Goals

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States I’ve been to are circled in red 🙂

In my post 2016 Goals, I mentioned that I wanted to travel more. When I turned 25 in February, I set the goal of going to all 50 states before I turn 30. Growing up we did a lot of road trips, so it wasn’t a daunting goal to me. Since then, I’ve been to Maine, Oregon, Washington, New Hampshire, Texas, and I booked a trip to Hawaii! I know that I’ve been bad and posting about my trips, and I promise that I’m going to post about my favorite things from each trip or place. If any of you have recommendations for the states that aren’t circled, please share them with me!

I LOVE Coffee!

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Cold brew Float

So I named my blog after my love of coffee, and I figured that it was time to share my new favorite coffee spot in Los Angeles. I recently discovered Demitasse in Mid-City after I went to the chiropractor one day, and I’ve been back three times in the last few weeks. Demitasse is a small chain in Los Angeles, and they coffee is amazing and super fresh. They try to have all local products, and all of the baristas are super friendly. I’ve tried the Iced Mint Cubano, Cold brew Float, and the Nitro ice coffee (their own type of cold brew). Each drink has been delicious, and made with fresh ingredients. If you’re ever in Los Angeles and you’re obsessed with coffee, then I strongly recommend that you stop by one of Demitasse’s locations!

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Nitro and Croissant

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Cause Everyone Needs a Smile

With everything going on in the world, it’s important to find things to make yourself smile. For me, this video does that. Grace is an amazing, cheerful, and talented singer. Everyone needs to see her perform this song she wrote herself!

 

I LOVE Coffee

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I named my blog But First Café, because I have a serious obsession with coffee. I love all types, flavors, and ways of making coffee. This week I saw a BuzzFeed post about the best memes related to coffee, and they are all super accurate. For everyone with a coffee addiction like mine, enjoy!