28 June 2008

Olympic glory & a blog-errific weekend

By: Jessica B.

That’s right, I held the torch and I didn’t have to run.

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.


  1. I received my first home loans when I was 25 and it supported me very much. But, I require the short term loan once more time.

  2. Vanessa says:

    You sound like you have an awesome company to work for! I wish I could have made it up for the cupcake crawl. I missed out on so much fun!

  3. Veronica says:

    OK, on behalf of myself and Rachel, I second the motion for nametags.

    also…cupcakes!?!? Rachel held out on me! I didn’t know there were going to be CUPCAKES!

  4. Maxie says:

    amazing WEEKEND! I’m sad that I’m back in wv :-( You will have to come visit here! or at least somewhere near here because who really wants to come to the boonies. LOL

  5. Confused says:

    Wow, sounds like a superb weekend! Wish I were a Chicago blogger!

    I can’t believe you have whole cupcake shops! Switzerland doesn’t do cupcakes at all :-(

    Maybe I should find myself a job in Chicago :-)

  6. closetoyou says:

    Cute picture!

  7. Kayleigh says:

    YAYYYY!!!!!! I was waiting for the Olympic Torch pic to come out. This post was simply ador (short for adorable). Loves it, and I wish I could have been there for more fun and sugary goodness. Dammit!!! Next time?

  8. EP says:

    Sounds like your weekend was incredible! I’m uber-jealous that y’all got to do the meet up thing with SO many people, and I MUST make the next one. Also, those cupcakes look divine!

  9. Lauren says:

    I can’t believe you held the torch! That’s awesome!

    Also those cupcakes? They look DELICIOUS!

  10. redstaplernation says:

    Oh God. Red velvet cupcake. I almost spit out my Hot Pocket just now, it suddenly seemed so inferior.

    You must show me where to find said cupcake. I’ll be in the theater district, wherever the hell that is. Is it close to cupcakes?

  11. deutlich says:

    Uhm. Best time evar.

    You are RIDICULOUSLY fantastic and I thank you for being such a huge part of the weekend.

    I’m (finally) home!!

  12. Joy @ Big Time Fancy says:

    Next time we have a gigantic meetup like that, I vote for nametags.

  13. Angela says:

    I’m glad you all had fun! I CAN’T believe an American woman thought that Chicago was a STATE! What a dimwit.

  14. Marianne says:

    Ah, wow, this is so nice – I’m so jealous, it sounds perfect, right down to the amazing red velvet cupakes. Paris is lagging behind on that one, sometimes a croissan just won’t do – gap in the market?!
    So great you all got on so well, love bloggers meet ups.

  15. Dan Mega says:

    Anonymous is right.

    I mean, anyone that met me this weekend can tell you that I’m very hefty.

    /end sarcasm

  16. lifeintheleftlane says:

    Sounds like you had an awesome weekend! Yummy cupcakes, holding the torch and meeting cool blogging people are great ways to spend a weekend!

  17. megkathleen says:

    I’m so jealous! I wish I could have been there – it sounds like it was a lot of fun.

    Oh, and Mr. Anonymous is a bag of dicks.

  18. surviving myself says:

    And if Anon wants to discuss his/her opinion in person, I’d be happy to oblige.

  19. surviving myself says:

    It couldn’t have been a “who’s who” without me.



  20. Rachel says:

    I know this will probably stroke your small, sad ego Mr. Anynomous, but you really are a douche. You have so little going on in your life that you stalk our bud and now you go after people that you don’t even know, people that have never done anything to you. Have you noticed that our lovely lady never responds to you? That’s because 1) she has enough friends that stick up for her and 2) she really doesn’t care about you. Why don’t you get over whatever happened in your little life and move on. Or you could keep living in your mom’s dark basement waiting for another post just so that you can get what you think is pleasure in your sad existence.

  21. Anonymous says:

    No disrespect, but just an observation. Why do bloggers tend to be larger in size? Are there no athletic bloggers out there?

  22. Jamie Lovely says:

    Let’s get more ravoli and cupcakes please?

  23. Renee says:

    Name tags next time. Best idea EVAR.

  24. jenniferalaine says:

    Sounds like a blast! And for the record, Clark’s on Belmont is the BEST drunk food ever. I want another cupcake crawl when I’m back home in Chicago in July! They look sogoooood.

  25. thegoodnamesaretaken says:

    I am so jealous of how much fun you guys had! It sounds like a great time!

    When I’m in Chicago for Lollapalooza, I’m totally dragging my friend out for some cupcakes :)

  26. Alexa says:

    so are you jealous that i am sitting on my deck with maxie and deutlich RIGHT NOW drinking a glorious bottle of wine?!?

    i know, you miss then already don’t you.

    and to let you know, they are speaking VERY highly of you which makes me all sorts of jealous that i didn’t get to meet you : (

  27. Erin says:

    I am completely jealous of your awesome blogger meet-ups this weekend! How fun.

    And holding the Olympic torch? WAY cool.

  28. Jenn says:

    This was a fantastic weekend and I’m so glad you were there for all of it! We need to do this more often :)

  29. Tipp says:

    1. very cool about the torch
    2. so very jealous of your awesome blogger friendly weekend
    3. was watching you on twitter to make sure you got home. I was worried. The reply function was out so I didn’t bother. What is up with that?

  30. tiedtogetherwithasmile says:

    I’m so jealous that I didn’t get to meet everyone, it sounds like so much fun!

    I would totally take you up on the offer for coffee next weekend, but I just made plans to go to Chicago. I’m not going to lie, I’m slightly annoyed with the ironic-ness of the situation. Next time you are in the area we should absolutely meet up though!!

  31. distractedspunk says:

    Oh. And I have not forgotten the white chocolate pistachio cupcake. Yum!

    (And yeah. You had an awesome weekend.)

  32. distractedspunk says:

    Swirlz! I’ve been going crazy trying to remember the name of that place; I stayed in a hostel not far from there the first time I went to Chicago and we had cupcakes there our last morning. It was quite awesome.

    Also. They sound like so much fun! I’m glad you had such a good time!

  33. sandy says:

    Ah, that sounds like so much fun! I seriously want to go to the next one -let it be soon?

  34. thatShortChick says:

    cupcake glory, great blogger company, devouring some deep dish, having a “moment” with the olympic torch, AND a parade of drag queens?

    jealous. i totally am.

  35. Mandy says:

    How much fun does your weekend sound? I am jealous that you all got to meet up and have a great time! Sounds like an awesome time.

  36. ~Angela~ says:

    Haha. That thing about Chicago being a state is still cracking me up.

    I’m so glad we did all that this weekend. Let’s do it again. For real. Every day. You’re all about everyday adventures, right? ;)

  37. Rachel says:

    There has to be another get together planned! I vow to drive next time so I can stick around longer!