Chicago Diaries,  Chicago Neighborhoods,  Life,  Travel Diaries

Chicago Diaries: Rogers Park

You know how there are some truths that have just always been true?

I’ve always been more of a cat person. 
I have never been a morning person.
Judge Judy is always right about everything.

You know, things that are said or pointed out that you just realize you’ve always known to be true? Facts. No fake news ™.

One of the universal truths of my life has been that I would live in Chicago.

It’s been my dream since I was probably about 10 years old, coming into the biiiiiiig city on the South Shore Line train with my family, walking to the museums, and holding my breath as I looked up with big eyes at even bigger buildings that made my stomach fill with butterflies.

I was touching this city with fingers that were too young and I knew that I belonged here but I just had to wait. 

Have you ever realized a dream, but knew that it was too soon? If you have, then you know that realizing you have to wait for it creates a weird sort of ache. A tightness of excitement and anxiety in your chest.
The best and worst kind of feeling. 

After college, Kyle moved to Chicago to set up roots for us and I flew off to graduate school in Rochester, New York.
For two years, I knew I had a home waiting for me in Chicago.
A home I’ve wanted for over a decade.
Needless to say, twenty minutes after my graduation ceremony from Eastman, we had an empty studio apartment, a truck bed full to the brim with my belongings, and our cat in the backseat and we were on the highway headed to Chicago.
I’m not joking. 

Rogers Park has been my neighborhood for the past year. I love this place. Even when I just say the words “Rogers Park”, I smile.  Rogers Park is nestled on the Northside of Chicago.

If you’ve been to Chicago, you’ve probably been in the Loop or the Magnificent Mile, which is closer to the Southside of the city.
I’m about a 40 minute train ride away from that glorious chaos.

Which some people don’t realize! Not everyone in Chicago lives in the high rise apartments that line the Chicago River.
Chicago’s best parts are the neighborhoods.
My neighborhood is home to hidden bars, diverse communities, quiet Lake Michigan beaches, a college, mom and pop markets, and cute lil’ lunch spots.

I am so proud of our home.
For the past year we’ve slowly pieced together the rooms and Kyle is so very good about honing in my kitsch and making things feel “adult”. 
I’m obsessed with the little details we have hidden throughout our home.

Books, Lochness monster soup ladles, and Chicago dogs. 

Our dining room has become my favorite room in the house.
It gets filled with gorgeous sunlight in the morning and we have coffee with the cats in the morning at this little Ikea table. 

Our little plant babies bring a little green into the space. 

And of course, my favorite thing lives in the dining room. I always love when people come over to our place for the first time and see the piano and react with a kind of incredulous “You have a piano?!?!”. 

Yes. We have a grand piano in our dining room. It was my grandfather’s and it was given to me last year. Because I need it for my work! As an opera singer and musician in general I need this big ol’ gal to help me learn my music. I love having it in our home. Every time people are over they gravitate to the piano and that brings me a whole lot of joy. I grew up with this piano, playing it at my grandparent’s house and to see it have this second life makes me so giddy. 

In our kitchen, we have another great conversation piece. Kole, Kyle’s brother made us (read: me) this mug wall for Christmas and it is AMAZING. We finally have a space to hang all of our (read: my) ridiculous novelty mugs. It’s so great. Functional and super pretty. And for only $70 you can buy your very own mug wall.   
Like, I don’t think y’all will find a piece this well made, this beautiful, and this cool for cheaper than that. 

and of course y’all know I love our bar cart…..

But I think the thing I love the most about our home is that we have a little space to have people over, to throw parties, and to host things. We live right above two of our good friends from college and we trade off watching each other’s pets when we’re on vacation (unfortunately birds and cats do not mix well so they can’t be friends haha) and sometimes we even make brunch together and play mario party. We have fun. 

We live about a 10 minute walk away from Loyola University’s campus and man oh man is it pretty with it’s art deco architecture and pretty pretty landscaping. 

And yes we jumped right on the bandwagon when the Loyola Basketball team made it to the Final Four this year. 

Since we live so close to campus, we have been hashtag blessed with some great little cafés and coffee places. 
Two of my favorite places to snag a quick breakfast are Archie’s Café and SmackDab.

Archie’s is the tiniest and weirdest cafe that opened up this year right outside the train stop we use. They sell coffee, donuts, and they’re apparently branching out to do dinners and waffles and stuff! I’m not really sure how to describe this little place, but it feels like all of your best friends decided to open up a cafe. Like they’ve just created a space for the people they love (everyone in the neighborhood) to meet up and hang out. They always have a funny sandwich board sign and they’ve even built a patio outside! They’re bringing a little bit of life and joy to a side of Rogers Park that needs it. 

SmackDab makes the bestttt little donuts and the holy grail of breakfast sandwiches. Seriously. If you want to have a spiritual awakening, buy one of their breakfast sandwiches. Every Sunday, they set up a little pop-up shop at the Rogers Park Social, which is the bar my boss’s own. 

And speaking of Sundays, every Sunday from June-October our neighborhood has the best Farmer’s market! It’s full of artisan cheeses, apples, peaches, fresh baked goods, and bundles of fresh flowers and herbs. And so many dogs. It’s literally heaven. 

On our way to the Farmer’s market, we pass by my work. I think my job is one of the best aspects of living in Rogers Park. I work for the Provisions stores, which are essentially modern general stores. Except with lots of wine, beer, and spirits (a majority of which are locally made stuff!). There are two stores that I bounce between each week, one here in Rogers Park and one in Uptown. The one here in Rogers Park is two doors down from our bar, the Rogers Park Social. The Social is this almost hidden little gem that is bursting with mid-century designed pieces, amazing craft cocktails (the best margarita omg), and a whole lot of love. The team that runs the bar and the stores have become our chosen family members. They love me and Kyle so much. And they show it! They even let us hold a fundraiser for our theatre company we’re a part of. 

I really love working at the stores. Wine, beer, and spirits have sort of become a new hobby and passion of mine. I love learning the stories behind the bottles and all of the little details of a quality spirit. I love helping people find things to pair with their dinner, or what they need to make some specific drink. I just love sharing what I love and it’s real cool to be able to share that with customers all the time.  I’m rounding up on my one year anniversary of working at the stores too and don’t fret, I’m working on a blog post of all of my favorite things we carry to share with y’all too!

Plus, right across the street (basically) from where I work is where Kyle and I will be getting married next year! Ah! 

And down the street from the Mayne Stage is the cutest little flower shop. 

Another 10 minutes towards the Lake and you’ll find North Sheridan that’s full of lots of things to do on a lazy Saturday afternoon. We have a vintage and cheap!! Movie theatre called The 400, a burger place called Bop ‘n Grill that has dope burgers and fries and a magical concoction of a Philly Cheesesteak egg roll (and Bop’n Grill has been blessed by Guy Fieri), and the Armadillo’s Pillow which is this witchy, Harry Potter-esque bookstore with floor to ceiling used books. 

Everywhere I look, this neighborhood is constantly sending me signs of joy. 

I just love Rogers Park so much. 
And all of this wasn’t even ALL of the things you can do here! 
There’s locally owned markets with diverse cuisine, there’s the coffee shop called Ellipsis where I’ve had coffee dates and rekindled friendships, there’s a literal Marshmallow cafe (haven’t been yet, but going before the summer is over) and even a small brewery. 
Rogers Park is full of so much vibrancy.

It’s so full of life and I’ve never felt more at home. 

Love you, Rogers Park!

Light & Love & Sister Jean,


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