On Thursday and Friday, my company was hosting a New Media Academic Summit at Northwestern and I was lucky enough to be chosen to live blog the two-day event. So while my fingers felt like they would fall off by Friday afternoon, one of the coolest parts of the entire Summit was being able to hold one of the official Beijing 2008 Olympic torches. One of the panelists ran with the torch and brought it in to show everyone and to take pictures. Below is me in full Olympic glory.
Once I was done living out my gold-medal dream, it was time to run home and prepare for Chicago Bloggerfest 2008 (unofficial title for this weekend's activities). It was also Pride weekend here so you can imagine in the Boystown/Lakeview neighborhood - where the first Bloggerfest event was being held - what the scene was like. And the blog-errific weekend didn't end on Friday night, we carried it through the entire weekend.
Below is a full summary of all the fun we had. Seriously, the woman and men I met and hung out with this weekend are awesome and hilarious. Love them all.
Friday - Blogger's gone wild
Friday night, just about any Chicago bloggers (who were available) within driving, train and walking distance gathered at Sheffields for a night of beer and beergarden fun. It was a "who's who" of blogging: Deutlich, Maxie, Joy, Jenn, Jamie, Angela, Renee, Rachel, Kayleigh, Dan Mega, Princess Pointful, Peter, Angie, Veronica (Rachel's sister) and of course, yours truly. We literally took over a corner of Sheffields' beergarden but without name tags, getting the group together was a little challenging. No biggie.
At the bar, Deutlich and Maxie recounted their trip from Virginia to Ohio to Chicago, which I give them a ton of credit for. I would not have been awake later than 10 p.m. after leaving my home at 4 a.m. that morning. But the rain held off and it was an awesome time of blog stories and laughter. These ladies (and guys) totally crack me up. Everyone had plenty to talk about and got along really well. It was awesome to meet so many people I already "know" from their blogs and find out even more things we have in common. And of course we consumed copious amounts of beer and shots (fortunately I excused myself from that). And Jenn even gave me an awesome card, full of drawings and everything! *Kisses*
Unfortunately, Sheffields' beergarden closes at midnight so we were kicked to the street and we ended up at Clarkes on Belmont (yes that's confusing) for drunk food. Renee was awesome and gave me a ride home and even though it was nearly 2 a.m., I didn't want to go to sleep! Hell no! It was time to download the Swell Season concert online that I went to a week ago and listen to the new Coldplay song I'm obsessed with. Finally, I forced myself to go to bed so I could get ready for Saturday's Cupcake Crawl goodness.
Saturday - Cupcakes and beyond
Since I don't drink beer all that often, I woke up Saturday with a killer headache, but that would not keep me from my cupcakes. Deutlich, Maxie, Jenn, Jamie, Angela and I met up again in Lincoln Park to embark on the first-annual bloggy cupcake crawl and we took our love for cupcakes and open minds to two places: Sweet Mandy B's and Swirlz.
Our first stop was Sweet Mandy B's, which was cute and adorable on the outside and smelled like bakery heaven on the inside. My cupcake was lovely as was my M&M cookie but seating was scarce and presentation was pretty simple. And for noon on a Saturday, the shop was hoppin' with people picking up cakes and sheets of cupcakes left and right. It was a great place but a little difficult to move around in.
Swirlz in Lakeview was our second stop and I have to admit, I was blown away by not only the selection and presentation of the cupcakes but also the service. It was like Nordstroms service but to the next level. Pam, who was the manager on duty Saturday, was just above and beyond nice to us, patient while we made our decisions and nice enough to let me take some pictures inside. She even gave us an additional cupcake to try because their vanilla flavor is known to be so good - and her recommendation was right-on.
My red velvet cupcake was just incredible (and gorgeous) and Pam gave us free cupcakes cards for our next visit. I'll be back there in a red-hot second. Pam even gave us a gluten-free cupcake to try and compare with the traditional ones.
In case you don't know, gluten-free products contain no wheat and seeing that I work in food & nutrition brands, I have heard about gluten-free products as a growing trend. I'm pleased to say that the gluten-free cupcake tasted no different than a traditional cupcake - I would not have even known the difference - and Pam told us that Swirlz works with nutritionists at the University of Chicago in developing their gluten-free products, which surprised me, but I think that is pretty cool. I very highly recommend checking this place out. And Swirlz's tag line is, "cupcakes make you happy" and they are so right.
(Lovely lady bloggers enjoying the nice weather and cupcakes!)
(So many wonderful choices)
(Cupcakes galore! - my red velvet one is right above this)
So once the cupcake crawl was over and we were all sugared-up, we moved on to downtown and the Taste of Chicago! Of course it was packed and hotter than h*ll on the pavement, but it was a good time. We walked around Buckingham Fountain and the Taste, where Jamie and I opted to try the fried cheese ravioli, which was incredible, and Jenn, Jamie and I opted to go with traditional hot dogs, Chicago and regular style. Can't mess with that. Both food choices were very good :)
(Maxie, Jenn and Angela at Buckingham Fountain)
And for some entertainment, I'll share a soundbite that Jamie, Jenn and I overheard while maneuvering through the horrible Taste crowd:
Unnamed Girl: So I didn't even know there was a state called Illinois. I thought the state was called Chicago, I mean it is the biggest city here.
I sh*t you not someone said that and we heard it. And yes, English is her first language. Gotta love the Taste, you see a little bit of everyone there, even a guy with a live snack (and not a small one) wrapped around him. That almost beast the iguana on the El.
Millennium Park was up next, where Angela and Deutlich convinced us to lay down on the ground in front of the Bean to take a picture of the group. The ground was hot and dirty but I think the picture turned out awesome so it was worth it :)
By now we're hot, sweaty and "pink" from the sun (yours truly included) so Jenn came up with the brilliant idea to rest out feet in the Park's "foot bath," which was like heaven. The cool water felt awesome on my feet and we all tossed in a penny with a non-boy-related wish. So after a luxurious foot bath rest, we were ready to break up for a bit before a full night of fun began.
I met up with the group again at Giordano's for a lovely Chicago-style pizza, which hit the spot, and conversation that had me in stitches. Seriously, these ladies and Dan cracked me up and while we didn't solve world problems, there was more than enough laughter to go around. Unfortunately, Friday night and our Saturday-day activities left everyone a bit tired so our post-dinner plans changed and we hit the Union bar for a drink and then broke up to head home. Of course, Dan, Angela and I hung out for a while longer chatting at Belmont and enjoyed the view of drag queens parading around in the rain and talking over the incessant sound of car horns.
My only bad idea of the night was walking home at 2 a.m. in the rain with sketchy and lots of people out. Bad idea. Nothing happened but there were a few times I was a bit creeped out.
So a big thanks to Maxie and Deutlich for making the trek out here to visit everyone. It was so cool to meet you and hang out with everyone. I miss you guys already! I had so much fun with everyone this weekend. Now I have to find something fun to do next Friday and Saturday nights! And more pictures are rolling in so I'll keep posting them, including some with me actually in them, as they come in.
Oh yeah, I'm going back to Wisconsin this weekend for the 4th of July so if anyone is in the southeastern Wisconsin area then, let me know and we can do a mini-meet up. As you can see, when bloggers get together, fun is always had.