Lattes in the library

I love books, but I hate the library. Maybe it’s because it’s too quiet for me, or because I can’t eat in there, or because it’s simply too depressing that I’m there when it’s 83 degrees outside. I’m obviously a total nerd, but for some reason I haven’t ever been able to vibe with the lib.

Lately though, I’ve been under a ton of stress with grad school being grad school, and sometimes I just can’t get anything done unless I’m in a Place Where You’re Supposed To Get Things Done. So I got my butt over to Ellis Library, a beautiful but crowded library on campus that I typically avoid like the plague.

PLOT TWIST: To my utter shock and relief, the library has an awesome coffee shop in it.

I mean, I kind of always knew it was there, but never actually thought it was a thing. And I remembered Rule #1 of Caffeinated Californian: You never know where your next source of inspiration (caffeine) will be. Repeating for emphasis:

Rule #1 of Caffeinated Californian: You never know where your next source of inspiration (caffeine) will be.

That said, you should definitely try your local library if you haven’t already, because you never know what hidden gem you’ll find. At my library, it’s called Bookmark Cafe, and it’s the most perfect new study spot I have ever discovered.

I stumbled upon it by getting lost in the stacks, and then seeing a sign for pumpkin spice lattes. They really knew how to get me.

Game-changer.

Is their PSL better than the Starbucks PSL? That will be a later post for colder weather. This time I went with an iced latte, because again, 83 degrees outside.

The menu isn’t bad, though, and I’m not sure who is in charge of a student-staffed coffee place in the basement of a school library, but props to them.

Okay, here we go with the usual list.

Perks of perking up at the library:

  • You are in the mindset of being the kind of person that actually goes to the library, and you can trick yourself into possibly getting work done
  • It’s open late, so you have an excuse to get your coffee fix at a ridiculous hour, and then when you’re pulling a caffeine-induced all-nighter you can still be productive
  • Peer pressure from the people having marathon study sessions around you. It’s like being at the gym
  • Once you’re there, it’s easier to stay there and finish what you started (again, the library shares some odd similarities with going to the gym)
  • It’s the one place you can eat food at the library! Game-changer!
  • You feel slightly less basic than if you’d gotten Starbucks
  • You can count this as a cultural activity since there may be artwork on the walls
  • Reliable wifi is always a plus for me and my spotty service at home
  • You might actually be happy to be at the library for once!

Will I be a library regular now? Who knows. At least they make a decent latte, and that’s all it takes to make me happy where I am!

XO,

CC

Goddess and the Baker: A bolt from the blue

What to do on a Saturday when you have to be productive? Go to a fancy coffee shop and pretend you’re being productive. Honestly, good coffee makes me feel like slightly less bummed to be working on a weekend (it makes me feel slightly less bummed to be working on a weekday too, but whatever).

Living in the Loop in downtown Chicago this summer has been a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because I’m right smack in the middle of amazing bars and restaurants. A curse, because I’m right smack in the middle of amazing bars and restaurants without the budget to go to said bars and restaurants. I make it work, though, and a really damn good coffee is one way to get the experience.

The Goddess and the Baker had been on my to-do list for a while. I’d been eyeing it every day on my commute to and from work, and I decided today was the day to see what the hype was all about.

It’s actually a recent spinoff from the Goddess and the Grocer, a famous cafe in the Chicago area. The founder, Debra, creates incredibly cool menus, and she even caters backstage for big music names (Fleetwood Mac, Aerosmith, and Jay-Z are among her clientele). If it’s good enough for Jay-Z, it’s good enough for me.

For starters, inside it has this gorgeously Snapchattable neon sign that gives the ultimate pro tip:

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People were actually walking in, Snapchatting the sign, then walking out without even bothering to get a coffee. I mean, lame. At least listen to the sign and caffeinate while you’re there.

When I first walked in, I was surprised at how huge the menu actually was. The name “Goddess and the Baker” should’ve been a hint, but still– they do not joke around with the baked goods. Their case features macarons, rainbow cake, salted caramel tarts, and plenty of other things that I did not know existed. I felt very inexperienced in this area, and moved on from the bakery case to the coffee.

Beyond the bakery, they have a coffee menu with a range of Goddess specialties, including both hot and iced coffee. Given my weakness for iced coffee, I had to try their cold brew on Nitro tap– the Goddess Sweet Cream Cold Brew, which is nothing like the sweet cream cold brew at Starbucks (sorry Starbucks).

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They call it “shockingly good coffee” for a reason. It was like literally getting zapped. I almost want to come back at 6 a.m. on a weekday just to get zapped in the morning so I can zoom into work at 8 and have everything already done.

Plus the atmosphere is clearly better than a cube:

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Not a bad way to spend a Saturday, even while working. I might’ve even enjoyed myself. And that’s what good coffee is all about.

XO,

CC

Beer & Takeout Pairings

After a less-than-great morning, I decided to do something out of character and spend an entire day in bed watching Netflix.

I realize this is completely normal behavior for half the human race, but for me it usually makes me anxious and feels like I’ve lost a whole day. Nevertheless, when I decide to do something, I don’t do it halfway. Seven hours went to the entire first season of GLOW, which turned out to be fabulous (I’m into the 80’s), and another four went to re-watching the best episodes of Mad Men.

After a day of bingeing on both TV and takeout, I realized the day wasn’t completely lost– I’ve discovered a special talent for selecting takeout and beer that go well with each other and with unhealthy doses of television.

Panda Express + Sapporo

At first I wrote Budweiser, but that just seemed un-American considering it’s paired with Chinese takeout. Sapporo is the Japanese Budweiser anyways. Seems as close as I can get.

Pizza + Fat Tire

Disclaimer: Of all the suggested beer/takeout pairings, this is the only one that has made me eventually puke. I’m sure the pizza played a larger role than the Fat Tire. In any case, proceed with caution.

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Chipotle + Corona

You can at least try to feel like you’re eating Mexican food if you drink a Mexican beer with it. Bonus: Chipotle sells beer now.

Taco Bell + Modelo

Continuing on the theme of pairing Mexican(ish) takeout with Mexican beers, Corona is an excellent complement to your Chalupa. Truly fine dining here. I sincerely congratulate you if you’re actually eating Taco Bell with Corona.

Jimmy Johns + Natty Light

I can only assume that you’re eating Jimmy Johns because it’s 2 a.m., in which case you’re likely drinking the can of Natty Light you found in your purse.

Portillo’s + 312

Because pairing a Chicago hot dog with a Chicago beer is the only real option here.

Panera + Bud Light

If you’re going to attempt to eat healthy, you might as well do the same with your beer.

In-N-Out + Stone IPA

As a former southern Californian, I have it on good authority that In-N-Out goes well with any beer out there. However, if I must choose, it would have to be Stone, since a West Coast burger deserves a West Coast beer.

McDonald’s + Budweiser

Ah, there we go: the ultimate American meal.

If you need more wisdom on having a drink with your food, this article offers plenty of valuable insight.

In the meantime, stay tuned for my next post on beer and donut pairings!

XO,

CC

Ballin’ on a budget: 10 actual fun things to do under $10

Part of working as an intern or entry-level employee is the less-than-ideal pay. We’ll all got to start somewhere, and most of us start on a limited budget. This is even trickier when you’re a 22-year-old surrounded by people with limitless energy and seemingly limitless bank accounts. It’s hard to be budget-conscious when everyone else wants drinks after work every day, dinners out every night, and plenty of shopping trips and coffee runs in between.

This summer, I’ve felt especially strapped for cash, as I complete an internship while living in downtown Chicago. As anyone will tell you, cities are expensive, and going out in Chicago for just one meal can mean $20-30 gone. 


The city is pretty but not cheap.

So my friends and I started getting creative with our weekend activities. Here’s 10:

1. Rent bikes


Chicago has an amazing bike rental system called Divvy bikes, and I know other cities have similar systems. Basically you pay ten bucks for a code, which you use to unlock a bike from any Divvy bike rack (there are Divvy racks everywhere). The code is good for 24 hours, which means you can bike around as much as you want- as long as you don’t have one bike out for more than 30 minutes at a time. If you’re active and you want to see your city in new ways, this one’s for you.

2. Visit Chinatown or Little Italy


On the other hand, if you mainly want cheap food and fun gift shops, Chinatown is for you. Little Italy is another great spot for great food amd a mini cultural adventure. The last time I went to Chinatown, I pigged out on dim sum, duck, and Chinese donuts. 

Caffeinated tip: Be sure to grab a cup of bubble tea while you’re there. It’s not coffee, but it’s the most fun you’ll ever have drinking tea.

3. Have a pizza picnic.


No matter where you go, you can always bring pizza with you. Order a box of ‘za, find a park/beach around you, and have a lovely date night outside with the love of your life: deep-dish sausage and pepperoni.

4. Ice cream in a new neighborhood 


Literally get on a train and go somewhere you haven’t been yet (I chose Wicker Park in Chicago), then make it your mission to locate THE best ice cream place (I chose Jeni’s). Alternative: The best taco place. Equally acceptable and potentially dangerous if they offer tequila shots.

5. Cheap (or free!) outdoor concert


Another benefit to cities: Concerts. I’m not talking music festivals, I’m talking those outdoor shindigs with families and lawn chairs. They’re actually fun. Bring beer and blankets, and you’ve got yourself a pretty decent happy hour.

I’ve seen Weezer and Passion Pit both for $20, and plenty of other shows for absolutely zilch. Check your fairgrounds and sports arenas– one time I stumbled on the Grateful Dead playing at Wrigley field.

6. Take a day trip to a brewery and take advantage of the free tour.

The MillerCoors tour in Milwaukee? Free. The three beers I got at the end? Priceless.

Even if you don’t drink beer, brewery tours are fun and you feel like you’ve learned something without being in a museum. The beer does not hurt either, though…

7. Shop the sale section of Forever 21.


Truly takes you forever. But it’s worth it when you find a killer romper for $2.99. And you’ve gotten the experience of a shopping trip without actually spending a fortune on two tops.

Alternatively, visit Goodwill or another thrift shop. There’s good stuff there for the taking if you’re willing to put in the time and effort. 

8. Go to a museum on a free day (or show a student ID if you can)


Most museums offer free days for residents and student discounts (even the Louvre). Check their websites and call around, then mark the calendar!
9. Rally the troops for bar trivia night.


Usually free, with great food and drink specials. If your friends are cool enough to not worry about looking cool, you’ll have a blast inventing an absurd team name and arguing over the answers to obscure 80’s song titles.

10. Stay in and have a Harry Potter marathon.
Arguably the best option of the ten. 

Im the end, even though they’re expensive, cities make up for it with all the free events and locations. You just have to know where to look!

XO,

CC

Stan’s Donuts: Go for the donuts, stay for the booths

It was a beautiful 77 degrees out in Chicago today, making it super worth the walk to try the famed Stan’s Donuts.

And it was, as predicted, super worth it.

Stan’s Donuts started in California, and it’s now a Chicago staple. I’m a sucker for sprinkles, but Stan’s has a ton of different flavors, from Coconut Cake to Lemon Pistachio.

Of course, I couldn’t just get a donut. I am Caffeinated Californian, after all.

With some incredibly muddy Converse.

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But the best part of Stan’s? Not the donuts, or even the coffee.

The BOOTHS.

The outside is pretty cool, too.

But I just wanted to stay in my booth forever.

I may be loyal to Dunkin’s 99 cent coffees after 2 p.m., but I won’t be in Chicago forever, and I need to get all the Stan’s I can. If you’re lucky enough to be in the Chicago area, you won’t want to miss it– if not for the donuts, or even the coffee, go for the booths.

You just might never want to leave.

XO,

A