About 6-7 weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to do something crazy & incredible at the same time. Seriously. I was asked to travel abroad to Switzerland for work. I was like "What? Wait, where am I going again?" Had to ask a few times so it registered, haha.

When I was asked to go, I had a day or so to sit on it but I accepted within 10 minutes. Didn't really think about it that much. I had nothing major going on. What I mean by that is that I had no commitments, no travel booked, and was planning on enjoying the summer here in Chicago. 

I never been to Europe. I never been to Switzerland. I was ambitious about doing more work. This opportunity just landed in front of my face out nowhere and I'm glad it did. Once in a lifetime thing for sure.

I came in thinking I was ready and I was totally wrong. Thankfully there was someone constantly by my side and I'm really happy about her being there. Her name is Maria and she's...


Just kidding, haha. She's honestly really super sweet.

I didn't really know her prior to the trip but those 4 weeks, we really got to know each other, how we worked, etc. She's a very "Type A" person and I'm a mixture of "A/B" but more B driven. It was a good balance of both worlds and on certain scenarios, we would help each other out. I would always come at a different angle on anything and everything. It just worked out. But for real though, damn I learned a lot from her. 

On the flipside of things, she had to deal with my wild personality, haha. Whenever we had long days, I would always tell her my shitty jokes and just say or send her the most random things at any given time. She probably hates me for sure, haha.

Anyways, we got to travel to so many places like Geneva, Bern, Zurich, Kandersteg, Interlaken, and more. Every weekend was booked with travel and train rides. 

Would I do it again? Hell yeah, I would. By far the most challenging learning experience and best thing that happened to me this year.

Here are some highlights of the trip and misc thoughts:

  1. The "Coop" closes at 7pm almost everyday and it was crazy difficult to go grocery shopping. 
  2. Trains (SSB) are hella better than Amtrak. Costs more and way more efficient.
  3. Sunday Funday exists. Retail stores and restaurants are opened so everyone is out and about enjoying themselves.
  4. Everything is ridiculously expensive. The prices for food, clothes, etc were insane.
  5. Hiked "Harder Kulm" (1,321m) in skinny jeans and converses. Definitely a dumb idea but I had intentions of taking the cable car up but nope, did it under 2hr's when they said it usually takes 2.5hr. TAKE THAT INTERLAKEN.

  6. Beer is so much lighter. No wonder why Europeans can drink more. I still prefer American IPA's though, the best.

  7. Maria and I would get a new chocolate bar and then get dinner together everyday after work. Pizza was our default go-to if there wasn't anything interesting to eat. 

  8. Out of all the places we visited, Montreaux was my favorite. The whole vibe, people, food, and lake front style of living was amazing.

  9. Finding bars that was to our aesthetic was extremely hard. We did find one near my apt called "Scandale" and it felt like home/Chicago. Thank god.

  10. Maria, if you're reading this. Your gift is coming in the mail right now. Thank you for everything and dealing with my nonsense. 

All of the photo's I took are posted on the Travel section and you can view them here: Switzerland

TRAVEL | New Orleans, LA

I started a new chapter in my life recently and I'm pretty happy about what's going on lately. Solo traveled (sort of) to New Orleans, LA for the first time and experienced that side of the south. Long story short, I had so much fun and I ate & drank a lot.

Here are some highlights of the trip and misc thoughts:

  1. New Orleans "open drinking policy" blew my mind away. It's completely normal to take your drink from the bar and walk down the street.
  2. Some of the best full bodied southern food I've ever eaten. 
  3. Ended up going to a Friendsgiving with 40 other random strangers having the best time together.
  4. Pass the Pigs is probably the best time killer/group game to do virtually anywhere. Going to start bringing it everywhere I go
  5. Weather was gorgeous when I was there (70F~) but got lit up by mosquito's. That was not fun. 
  6. Took more video footage than photo's (see video above!)
  7. The jazz was more dancey and poppier which I like a lot.
  8. Ate and drank more than I should've but that's pretty normal down there, right?
  9. Happy to catch up with an old childhood friend, hang out with her fiance, and making other new friends.
  10. Chambong'ed too many rounds of champagne and bought friends their first porron to self pour wine into your mouth (they never done it before).

I made a video montage of my trip. It's nothing too special. You'll notice there's more drinking footage and my face cringing after doing a few founds of Chambong's. 


The other week I went back to the west coast to visit my friends in sunny California. I normally plan places to go eat, see, and do but since I've already been here, I didn't plan anything at all. I just wanted to spend time with everyone doing absolutely whatever we wanted. No itinerary. It worked out perfectly. Everyone had their things they had to do and schedules conflicted but when all of our schedules aligned in random spurts, it was the best. I caught up with friends, made new one's, and will be coming back again. 

Here are some highlights of the trip and misc thoughts:

  1. My friend Tara is pregnant! So happy for her.
  2. I really don't like Los Angeles that much at all. After being around the nice spots - Malibu, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Ojai, etc. LA is so superficial and not my scene. 
  3. Slept behind a room hidden behind a bookshelf. It felt like a secret hidden room like you see on TV or the movies. 
  4. Never seen an orange, lime, lemon tree in my life (only in green houses) and I picked my first orange, ever. It was so good.
  5. Ojai Rancho Inn was such cool spot. Reminded me of Ace Hotel Palm Springs.
  6. Drank so much kombucha and it's really good. We specifically used it to make mimosa's and then I eventually made a beer mimosa.
  7. Watched a ton of sports which I rarely do. Lot's of football. Give me a beer or five and I'll hang around while you watch. 
  8. Ojai Valley Inn & Spa is absolutely gorgeous. From the interiors, decor, operations, food, vibe, etc was amazing. I pretty much love Ojai.
  9. Forgot how "cold" it got there at night. So used to the humidity here that night there was freezing for them. To me, I felt perfectly fine in t-shirt while they were in sweaters.
  10. I'll be traveling again soon. Creating a new Off the Record city guide, video's, and new exciting stuff to share in the future.

TRAVEL | Nashville, TN

Imogene + Willie

Pinewood Social 

Pinewood Social

Mas Taco's Por Favor 

Mas Taco's Por Favor

Hattie B's 1/2 bird hot

Imogene + Willie exterior

Barista Parlor

Two Son's shopping

Two Son's exterior

Two Sons interiors

Two Sons interior

Barista Parlor 


Barista Parlor interiors

Barista Parlor parking lot

Kristina Murray


I never really talk about personal things that much but just wanted to say thing's have been looking up lately. Thing's are just falling into place out of nowhere and I'm pretty happy about what's going on. 

Anyways, I had to change things up a bit. I went down south to Nashville, Tennessee!

Why? Well, Nashville is literally an hour away from Chicago flying (didn't even get served a beverage), food scene is small but they're all gems, drink scene is super nutty, and my friend Mixon (we used to work together many years ago) lives there. 

What enticed me to here was that my friend Mixon offered me her place to stay instead of spending money on an airbnb. I was like "hell yeah, I'll come to Nashville." Saved me a TON of money. Since I stayed at her and boyfriend's place, I didn't want to drag them around everywhere with me. I came into this trip with a loose itinerary all listed out on foursquare and had that mentality of "I (/ we) need to hit up this spot before the day ends." At the same time, they loosely planned the must go-to places a local would do on fly around my schedule. Pretty much just did things on the fly which is honestly the way it should be when traveling. 

I had a good time down there and currently planning my next trip. Maybe a few more domestic trips or get out of the country for a bit. Not sure yet. I'm pretty stoked about what's ahead of me. 

Here are some highlights of the trip and misc thoughts:

  1. Nashville is a very small city with a lot of character. East Nashville is definitely up my alley in scene - restaurants, drinking, shops, cafe's, etc.
  2. Totally avoided Broadway entirely during my trip. It's just a nutty drinking party scene that reminded me of Wrigleyville but with bachelorette parties galore and more drunk people. I have to be in the mood to be in this kind of scene and drinking pace (which is rare). 
  3. It was HOT & HUMID. Ridiculously humid. Just constantly sweating...standing, doing nothing, even while under the shade. I don't get it. 
  4. Coffee shops in Nashville are hella cool. They're bigger, more open space, less cluttered than what I typically see here in Chicago. People are there to meet, drink coffee, converse, and then leave. No laptop squatter's. 
  5. Hattie B's Nashville Hot Chicken is seriously AMAZING. All of the ab workouts I've been working on for the past 6 months disappeared in like 15 minutes. It was hot but not making me sweaty hot like other local's said. I look at fired chicken on a whole new level now. 
  6. Mixon has this adorable kitty named Roswell who I cuddled with whenever I got a chance. Everytime I see her coming out to the living room or sun bathe on her spot, I would just pick her up and hold onto her for awhile. Not sure if the kitty hates me but I don't care, I love her. 
  7. Introduced "Mr Robot" (USA) and "Stranger Things" (Netflix) TV series to Mixon and her boyfriend. Hope they keep up with it because they're really good shows.
  8. Learned there's a huge difference from "bro country" and "real country". I don't listen to country at all but got exposed to it my entire trip. Even went to a show to see country music. Got to admit, it's pretty cool.
  9. Drank everything local and brewed in Nashville. Definitely drank a ton of IPA's and whiskey. 
  10. Nashville is a city I would definitely visit again. You can do a lot in a couple days. The vibe is relaxing during the day and a night it's entirely a different city. 


Over Memorial Day I traveled to Pacific Northwest of Portland, OR. I never been there, so I got on a plane and left for a long weekend getaway for some solo travel. During my time there, I got to experience such fine foods from so many amazing restaurants, drank some incredible coffee and beer, hiked and saw what the Gorge was all about, and see what Portland was all about.

As a solo traveler, I've been diving into the unknown and getting out of my comfort zone. It's been hella daunting and exhilarating at the same time. I've been holding tight to my personal inspiration/motto to travel -  

"One new domestic, one new international"

every year and I got to go to some sweet places I've never been to. It then dawned on me that I could be doing something good about this than just sharing photos that I took.

My side project is to use my photography to make city/insider guides to the places I visit. Since every destination is always new, it naturally forces me to research and gather notes mentally and physically what to expect. On top of that, I love to eat, drink, explore the unknown, mingle with strangers, go on random excursions, make new friends, and everything else. It just made sense for me to develop my own take of city guides. Not just lists and short one liners, I'm talking about the places I've been too, why I went there, and what I thought about it, etc. Then listing out recommendations to other places in that domain (food, coffee, drink, etc). 

I had trouble thinking about the name for it but it popped in my head while I was out at an event zoning out. 

Off the Record

Off the Record: (insert city name) series would deliver more of my raw unfiltered voice of every domain - food, drink, coffee, touristy, pub trans, and misc things that stood out. Like talking in chat apps or on email, going off the record means things are said 100% undocumented. Well, I'm going to keep it documented. This could stand out from other guides because, when a reader (like you) know's nothing about that destination, this will put them you on the driver seat soaking in the authenticity of the city of how I absorbed it along with the photos I took because I've literally been there, done all of that.

Just a fun thing I wanted to do complementing my photography. This is my first guide of the series and I hope you guys enjoy it.

Click above on the photo for the guide or here.

TRAVEL | San Francisco

One new international, one new domestic. My travel for 2015 is done.

Every year from now, I will be going to a new city/place within the states and then one internationally by myself. As for 2016, haven't even thought about where to go yet since I always travel at the end of the year at the weirdest times. So far it's worked in my favor since it's always off season travel. 

Anyways, solo travel is the best. What I mean is that there's nothing holding you back from doing what you want to do. You can absolutely do whatever you want at your own speed and be selfish in the best way possible because there's there's no one else with you holding you back. Every trip I got lost, I spent too much money, ate more food than usual, met random strangers who are now my friends, and then coming back home with memories of the good and bad times of it all.

San Francisco was my new domestic and for the days I was there, I had such a good time. Even though I didn't get to do my major culinary experience, I ran around with my good friend Alyse who I met many years ago back at school. The funny thing is that when we met up again, we connected so seamlessly. It felt really good to be around her in a city I had  minimal knowledge about. I basically ran around with her every night getting lost and enjoying ourselves at bars, dinners with friends. This honestly explains why I didn't take so many photos. Simply just enjoying the time out with her and everyone else. Thank you Alyse (+ James).

Here are some thoughts and highlights of the trip:

  1. San Fran is one hell of a pretty city. It's filled with beautiful people and they're all SO NICE, almost too nice. It's just stupid expensive on all areas from food, drink, and LIVING.
  2. My list was filled with trendy bars and restaurants. They all didn't open till 4:30/5/or 6PM! Alyse told me everyone likes to be outside on the west coast (which makes sense) and that's why things don't open earlier. 
  3. Zeitgeist was the best beer garden in the city. The guys looked like they were from 'Sons of Anarchy' but they were so nice to me giving me free beer and talking about whatever life story they wanted with the other bar people.
  4. Hot Toddy's were abundant when I was roaming my culinary list. It was kind of chilly but it was warm for me. Mmm Hot Toddy's.
  5. The most I spent on a brunch by myself was $72 including tip. Was it worth it? Yes. Does my wallet hate me? HELL YES. Thank you Foreign Cinema
  6. I swear, everyone uses Uber more than Lyft in SF. I'm a Lyft fan to be honest but everyone took those methods of transportation everywhere.
  7. Met up with my old coworker Tina and her husband at Brass Tacks - also met the bartender and a few others around me before I headed off to Oakland. This is one of those spots that is cozy enough which a cool social vibe. 
  8. SantaCon happened the same weekend I was there and it was a complete shit show. 
  9. My friend Tracy was there the same weekend I was there doing a photo shoot and it was good to meet up with her. I met her back in June when I went to Los Angeles/Malibu/Ventura/Santa Barbara.
  10. Alyse made my SF weekend perfect. From the east coast, now living in the west coast. I'm glad she hasn't changed a single bit. Thank you for everything and I'll be coming back soon. 


  1. BRUNCH: Foreign Cinema
  2. BRUNCH (runner up): Bar Tartine
  3. DINNER: The Progress
  4. DINNER (running up): Tacolicious
  5. BAR: Zeigeist 
  6. BAR (runner up): Brass Tacks
  7. CAFÉ: Ritual Coffee Roasters
  8. CAFÉ (runner up): Four Barrel Coffee

TRAVEL | Montréal

I want to write so much about my trip but I hope the pictures can show you everything (at least a good chunk of it) that I've done in Montréal. Ever since I got back, everyone has been asking "why did you choose Montréal?" like as if I was crazy. Honestly, it was a risk deciding my vacation on "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe" but between Portland, Oregon OR Austin, Texas OR Montréal, Québec I'm so glad it landed on the city I wanted to go to the most. Life is precious, do things you never think you would be doing and it could be the best thing you've done.

Now that I'm back on the grind of things, looking back at my trip I really had such a good time. I came in knowing absolutely zero people and came home with a lot of new friends from various industries and personalities. I loved the city so much I've decided I'll be coming back next year.

Here some thoughts and highlights of the trip:

  1. Every day was a new adventure. No one with me. By myself. Being super selfish about everything in the the most enjoyable way possible doing absolutely whatever I wanted.
  2. I barely did any touristy things but had an extensive list of nitty gritty things locals would do. Some locals saw my list and were amazed by how much I've done in 5 days which some haven't even done in a years time. 
  3. Montréal people are just as nice as Chicagoans. All friendly and welcoming. So attractive too.
  4. Food and drinks are way more exotic, fresh, and so unique compared to Chicago. The cuisine all over was so different. Didn't even see a single burger or fries anywhere. It's safe to say in Chicago we've mastered the gastropub cuisine and I'm in love with more fresh foods and seafood.
  5. My Airbnb host was so great, they came up to say hello and see how my trip was and even put me on a guest list to a DJ to see during my stay. Would definitely stay there again. 
  6. (imo) Fashion is way ahead of Chicago. More personal preference but every woman I've met and saw had an unique sense of style. Just a different look & feel of what I'm used to. All were simple and comfortable. 
  7. Kept a log of thoughts in my notepad to recall my entire vacation like food I ate, drinks I've drank, and names of people I've met. This struck some bar conversations which lead me to these side adventures. No idea what was ahead of me and just taking it as it came.
  8. Transportation is just as efficient as Chicago but I won't lie, they one up metro and bus times at much more of a consistent rate. Something always came within minutes. All the time.
  9. Met so many people, exchanged business cards and contacts, and some nights just spontaneously went on another side adventure within my own adventure. It always ended up with a lot of eating/drinking and waking up with a terrible bloated belly and a massive hangover.
  10. Montréal is absolutely a beautiful city inside and out. Canada is our neighbor and it's a mere 2 hours flight from Chicago. It's the closest European look & feel you'll get within the states.


Thank you all (everyone in Montréal) for making my first solo trip a good memorable one. 

TRAVEL | Montréal (preview)

Last Thursday I went to Montréal for the first time, ever. This was my first solo trip out of the country knowing absolutely no one, barely anything about the city, and what the hell I was doing. I did have one thing in mind and it was to take everything as it came and go along with it. That single piece of advice to myself lead me into the wildest adventures.

I rarely did anything touristy but really dove deep into the rich food & drink scene and culture of the people here. Over my time in the city, I've met some of the most interesting, welcoming, and genuine people at restaurants/bars I happened to be at. From there, every local lead me to another local spot.

I'm still in the process of picking/choosing my edited photos. Once I'm done, I'll work a gallery to share with you all.


Last of the three-part series of my West Coast | California trip.

On the last full day of my trip out west coast, we all jumped on a train and took off to Santa Barbara. It's a beautiful place and it was my second favorite spot of the entire trip. We spent the entire day roaming the town and did as much as could before our last train left. Looking back on it now - we climbed trees, aimlessly wandered into random shops, played with birds, flights of beer at the public market, and walked the entire main street of Santa Barbara. Even though we left in the evening, the remaining time we had at home was spent recuperating before the last night together. I needed a vacation like this and had so much fun. I'm very thankful for Tara and all of the new friends I've made. I will come back there again soon. Here are my top 10...

  1. Tara is afraid of birds (parrots specifically?) and the photo above was the first time she broke her fear and gave him a kiss. I mean, look at him, he's so happy.
  2. Forgot my camera battery at home and we had to rush back. We thought we missed the train but we pulled some insane "Indian Jones" like last minute moves to get on!
  3. We avoided paying for our train fares on our way to Santa Barbara saying our Amtrak phone apps aren't working. Pretty solid win.
  4. Learned so much about crystals from Tracy. Didn't know there was so much behind it all and you should all check out her stuff - it's amazing. Echoz Crystals.
  5. I took a nap on Tara and Ali's porch when we got back from Santa Barbara. God that was glorious.
  6. I think I took over 2,000 photos for the entire trip - went a bit crazy but so WORTH.
  7. We failed horribly trying to avoid paying for our train fares back leaving Santa Barbara. The dude from Amtrak was on the hunt for us when we tried changing trains. 
  8. Tracy took my credit card away from me since I kept paying for their drinks, haha.
  9. I said it before but you all should buy Our Kandles made by Tara & Ali. 100% soy wax and it smells amazing.
  10. I'm very thankful for Tara & Ali for being very so accommodating my stay there. Giving me your bed and then you doubled up with Ali, ice cream, food, drinks, and everything else.


On my Day 2 of the west coast, it started off with a massive hangover from a long night out before. We were all binge coffee drinking, dosing ourselves with ibuprofen, and going wild with the idea of brunch coming. Tracy, a friend of Tara and Ali's met up with us for brunch at Cafe Nouveau and the food was incredible - totally hit the spot. We pitched the idea of going to Venice and Santa Monica for the day and right then and there, Tracy called her dentist and moved later to soak in the entire day and night. Venice was such a weird cool diverse crowd and Santa Monica was lively and fun as I remembered of the first night I was on the west coast. I had such a good time out with these beautiful ladies on this day. Here's my top 10 of Day 2...

  1. From left to right - Tara, Tracy, Ali, Lainey
  2. Gus (the dog) farts smell like a million farts just blew in your face. He's such a good happy lil bulldog during brunch. 
  3. Venice is by far the most diverse crowd I ever seen in my life. From homeless, women aimlessly wandering around in thongs, longboarders zig zagging through the crowd, amazing artists, street performers, beautiful people roaming, etc. It was weirdly relaxing just walking down the streets people watching. 
  4. Did an impromptu photoshoot with Tara and Ali of Our Kandles. A dedicated post to them and their company will be coming later!
  5. Tara took me to Los Feliz (up and coming hip neighborhood outside LA) to see my friend Gabriel and Kaitlyn. They were among my first friends I met in Chicago and now live in LA. Thank you Tara for being the chauffeur and Tracy for tagging along. It was so sweet.
  6. Forgot where I placed my sunglasses and freaked out for a sec because I couldn't remember where I put them. Then I saw them on top of her car. Huge relief since we drove everywhere that morning too.
  7. We had Sugarfish sushi for dinner in Santa Monica and it was AMAZING. If you ever get a chance to try it, I highly recommend. I would go again in a heartbeat!
  8. Tracy (black leather coat) moved her dentist appointment just to hang out with me and all of us.
  9. Chavito Bar and Lounge really reminded me of Wicker Park or Logan Square. This is where I met Gabriel and Kaitlyn.
  10. All of my friends tell me to move to the west coast because we were having so much fun.


Before I type away on this post, I just wanted to make it aware that this is my first of a three-part series of my time out in the west coast. There will be a lot of similar photo's of the same individuals, people, landscapes, food, scene, etc. I want you to soak in the experience how I saw it. Hope you like it. Enjoy!

For the first time ever in my life, I traveled to the beautiful west coast of California to visit my lovely and gorgeous friend Tara. I packed my bags, my camera, got on a plane, and jet-setted myself to an area of constant sun and beaches. Really needed a change of pace from the aggressive city lifestyle and slow things down a bit. Life is precious, you know? Anyways, you're probably wondering about who is this girl I posted a bazillion photos of, "so who's Tara anyways?" Obviously she's in the photos above BUT she's also a wonderful, fantastic, light hearted, and adventurous woman that I kinda-sorta knew / randomly met at Delilah's (one of my go-to spots in Chicago) during her cross country road trip! I won't write much but will list top 10 things all in random order of Day 1...

  1. El Matador Beach is truly beautiful (look at my photos above!). We spent the entire evening walking down the beach, see couples do engagement photo's. climbing rocks, and even running under them before the wave hit the shoreline. This was on my #1 thing to do on my "to-do list."
  2. Driving down the Pacific Coast Highway to pick up Tara from work to get lunch and all while blasted song's like this and or this. Had the worst time finding her gas tank button to refill the tank!
  3. I didn't bring any shorts and thought it was a MAJOR FAIL but I saw everyone else wear jeans, so I got used to it. Sorta MAJOR WIN(?!)
  4. Sat on their porch drinking coffee watching the sun rise. This sounds odd but I miss having a porch/patio. Basically hung out there A LOT.
  5. Their house smelled AMAZING. You guys should really get a Our Kandles. I'm getting TWO.
  6. I had to get a nail clipper and hair spray at RiteAid because the nails were getting annoying and constant sun makes my hair droop like whoa. Yeah, they laughed at me for this, haha.
  7. When it was night, I was used to the "cold weather." Coming from Chicago, it was GLORIOUS.
  8. Went to get coffee downtown at Marie Shannon's and the girls behind the counter looked like post-American Apparel employee's who's happy prancing days are over hating their job now and just serving amazing delicious coffee and bacon empanadas. Oh, they were so good. 
  9. Going back home together, we blasted/sang songs like this and or this. Not ashamed, I know the lyrics to the first song.
  10. Bought the first meal/drinks at The Misfit even though I was on vacation, Tara wasn't so happy about this. Oops! Nice boy, ya know?