#25 Attend Taste of Chicago

IMG_4411The next item to be crossed off my Chicago Bucket List was attending the annual Taste of Chicago event. If you’re unfamiliar, this Chicago staple is an outdoor 5-day food fair that takes place in Grant Park and is the largest festival in Chicago. Admission is free, you just purchase food and drink tickets to be used at the over 60 restaurant booths set-up throughout the park. It’s a massive affair with attendance in 2015 hitting 1.4 million people throughout the duration of the event.

As a new resident to Chicago, I knew I had to attend. I went on Saturday around noon and by 2:30pm I was stuffed. I went there with the game plan to try menu items that were unique. For the most part I stayed true to this goal, but I did have to try fried chicken from a booth claiming to be the best in Chicago. I was not disappointed.  Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken was the perfect combo of crunchy and savory. 

Delicious fried chicken aside, the best thing I had at the Taste, by far, was the KimCheesey Fries from Yum Dum. Something you should know about me, I love spicy foods, cheese and fries. So this was the trifecta of deliciousness in my book and I would highly recommend it.

Taste of Chicago 2016IMG_4416

Check it out! Another item off the list. What will I cross off next?




#13: Watch a SOX Game

On my last post I made my Chicago bucket list. Now, I’m working to check items off that list! First up, watching the SOX play at US Cellular Field.

I got really lucky with this one, I had family visiting from Toronto who wanted to go to a baseball game and lucky would have it, the SOX were actually playing the Toronto Blue Jays that very weekend!

It was a beautiful day for baseball, with a ton of homeruns! In the end, the Blue Jays prevailed with a 10-8 win. Here are a few photos from the game!

Sox 1

sox 2

Well, that’s one down and 26 to go!


My Chicago Bucketlist

I’ve been notably absent this year and you may be wondering why. I moved! I started the year knowing I wanted to make some changes and finding a new job in a new city was one of the bigger ones. I moved to Chicago about two months ago and now that I’m settling in I thought a great idea would be to bring you guys along for the ride!

My future bil also made a move like mine, and a few months later he met my sister and now they are planning their wedding! He suggested I make this bucketlist to help me get acquainted with the city and to fend off any homesickness. So without further ado, here are places I’d like to see and things I’d like to do while living here!

  1. Visit the Art Institute of Chicago
  2. Try a Chicago-style dog on a turkey hot dog
  3. Watch a space show at the Adler Planetarium
  4. Ride the Chicago-Eye at Navy Pier
  5. Visit the Shedd Aquarium
  6. Walk through Lincoln Park Zoo
  7. Take a picture at the top of the Willis Tower in the SkyDeck
  8. See a concert/festival in Millennium Park
  9. Visit the Field Museum of Natural History
  10. Watch the Cubs play at Wrigley Field
  11. Take in a show at the Chicago Theatre
  12. See a concert/festival at Grant Park
  13. Watch the White Sox play at US Cellular Field
  14. Experience a live event at the Chicago Cultural Center
  15. Take a picture at 360 Chicago aka John Hancock Center
  16. Go to a Bulls vs Magic game at the United Center
  17. Visit the art gallery inside the Chicago Water Tower
  18. Watch the Bears play at Soldier Field
  19. Eat/drink on the Chicago RiverWalk
  20. See a live performance at the Oriental Theatre
  21. Stroll through the Lincoln Park Conservatory
  22. Sail on a sailboat
  23. Swim in Lake Michigan
  24. Explore Chinatown
  25. Attend Taste of Chicago
  26. Go to one of the many music festivals
  27. Shop at the German Christmas markets

Who’s with me? Anyone from Chicago with good recommendations for things I should add?



5 Realistic New Year’s Resolutions for 2016

Every January 1st we sit down and make a list of all the things we want to achieve in the new year. Maybe you’re one of the few people that actually accomplishes them, or most likely you’re one of the masses that may start on the right path and then promptly give up or forget about your resolutions a month or two in. We’re all guilty of this.

We set unrealistic resolutions and goals for ourselves every single year. All this does is set us up for failure and make us feel bad about ourselves. So why not stop? Why not set realistic goals that still push you to be better but aren’t completely outrageous? Without further ado, here are my 5 resolutions for 2016…

To Be Healthier

I’m not saying I’m going to become a fitness guru or anything, I just want to live healthier than I have this past year. Whether that means maintaining a regular gym schedule or reducing sugar intake, I just want to end 2016 knowing that I’m healthier than I was in 2015.

To Save More $$$

I love to shop, I’ll be the first to admit it. In 2016, I want to shop less and save more this year. I want to continue making regular contributions to my savings but include a regular monthly contribution to my Roth IRA in the new year. If by some miracle I can up the amount I send to savings monthly – that would be awesome.

To Donate to Causes I Believe In

There are so many wonderful organizations out there working to do great things across the world and I want to get more involved. In 2016, instead of being a “social activist” aka just tweeting or Facebooking about a cause, I actually want to contribute to it monthly, both monetarily and with my time. I don’t know about you, but I feel amazing after volunteering – I’m not sure why I don’t do it more. So in the new year, my resolution is to volunteer at least once every 2 months and donate at least $20 a month to a cause I believe in. If you think about it, almost all of us can do $20 a month – it’s only $5 a week. That works out to about one less cup of Starbucks a week and you’ve got your donation money!

To Travel & Explore

If you follow this blog, you know that I love to travel and part of that love lies in exploring a new place. I live for trying and doing new things, life is all about the experiences in my eyes and in 2016 I want to keep that going. It’s something I like about my life that I never want to lose. Even if with my new financial goals I can’t afford to go somewhere new and exotic next year, I want to at least explore the city I live in and hopefully find some hidden gems.

To Be Happier

This could come from a lot of things. For example, if I accomplish the other 4 items on this list that would definitely make me happy. But mostly, I want to follow my heart in 2016 and stop being scared of what could go wrong. People always say when they look back on their life, the things they regret the most are the the things they didn’t do…. I don’t want to live with that kind of regret. I want to find the courage to go after my dreams and stop being afraid to fall. So what if I fall? Who hasn’t? I’ll just get back up like everyone else.

So there you have it, those are my resolutions for 2016. Really, they are baby steps towards living the life I want and hopefully it will become a lifestyle for me. For you too. What’s your one, major goal for the new year?

Happy New Year!!


Modernista’s Holiday Gift Guide Under $25

Modernista's Holiday Gift Guide Under $25

It’s that time of year again! I love the holidays and all that comes with it – the chilly weather, sweaters, boots, scarves, hot chocolate, holiday parties, twinkling lights, spending time with family and friends, and of course, gifts. The one thing I can do without? Bills.

To avoid going broke and ruining my holiday spirit, I create a holiday gift budget. That way I go shopping knowing exactly what I’m looking to spend per person. The amounts vary of course, for example I’m willing to spend quite a bit more on my Mom than on a co-worker – no matter how great they may be.

That being said, I think I’ve made it pretty clear on this blog how much I love a good deal, and for that I head to stores like TJ Maxx, Ross, and Target. I’ve found a gift for each of the people on this list for under $25 at one of these stores and remember, it’s the thought that counts. Your gift doesn’t have to be pricey – just thoughtful and from the heart. Think about the person and what they could really use in their day-to-day lives and how much, or little, you spend will be irrelevant. That’s my trick and I want to share it with you.

Modernista's Holiday Gift Guide Under $25 for Mom

To: Mom

For my mom I hit up TJ Maxx. She is a yoga lover but isn’t big on buying herself clothes, especially gym shirts. I headed straight to their workout section and got her two workout tops for $9.99 each and a thick padded yoga mat for $12.99. Again, it’s my mom so I was willing and able to spend a little more on her but, had that not been the case, I could have easily done the mat and just one workout top to stay within budget.

My grand total for my mom: $33.

Modernista's Holiday Gift Guide Under $25 for Sister

To: Sister

My sister made it very clear she wanted the Adele CD and since Target is the only place where you can currently get her CD with the 3 bonus tracks, that’s where I went for her gift. She made it pretty easy on me with this one, but I can guarantee that each of you has 1 person in their lives that would love to get this CD! Also, have you checked out the front shopping areas in Target? They are always filled with fun and sometimes very useful stuff, usually for $5 and under. In that section I found some really cute brightly colored headphones for $5 to go with the cd and boom, I was done!

Total for my sister: $21

Modernista's Holiday Gift Guide Under $25 for Best Friend

To: Best Friend

My best friend is terrible at buying herself bags, shoes, and accessories. Something I excel at, luckily for her. Between Ross and TJ Maxx I was able to find a trendy, yet classic, crossbody bag with a good amount of pockets and room – perfect for her on-the-go lifestyle as a working mom.

Total for my bestie: $20

Modernista's Holiday Gift Guide Under $25 for Coworker/Boss

To: Co-Worker/Boss

Everyone in my department loves coffee and tea so I considered myself very lucky when I was at TJ Maxx and found an array of cute coffee mug gift sets complete with a bag of ground coffee, and a “tower of tea” gift set. I grabbed one of each for the people in my office and didn’t think twice about it.

Grand total for each: $5.99

Modernista's Holiday Gift Guide Under $25 for Dog/Pet

To: Dog

If you’re a dog parent like me, you know your gift giving isn’t complete without getting something for your dog-baby. In my experience, I’ve found a better variety of dog toys at much more reasonable prices at Ross and TJ Maxx. My pup is quite the chewer so I grabbed a few of the more durable toys and headed out!

Dog toys ranged: $3.99-$7.99 each

As you can see, I got presents that the people on my list either wanted or could actually use. I determined this by paying attention! I know, what a crazy concept. Putting in the effort to know what people would get use out of and truly enjoy is what is going to make your gift great, not how much you spent on it.

Good luck with your holiday shopping and in case I don’t squeeze another blog in beforehand, have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday!

3 Great Gifts for the Host/Hostess

Tis the season for holiday parties, get togethers, brunches, dinners, grabbing drinks with that friend in from out of town, etc. Just thinking about all the activities filling my December is making me overwhelmed! I’m not even hosting any of these things, and I’m panicking. Can you imagine what the host/hostess of that next holiday function is going through?

It’s good manners and proper etiquette to bring a gift for the host of the party you’re attending as thank you for the invite and hosting the event.The key is to give something useful to either the person or the party that won’t cause more work or time away from the party for the host. With that in mind, here are my top three gifts for the host/hostess in your life!

Wine, Alcohol, or Festive BeverageWine

A bottle of wine, alcohol or some other seasonal beverage (i.e. eggnog, hot chocolate, etc.) is a tried and true gift for any party host. Not only does it require zero work on their part, they can put it to use for the party if needed.

Something Edible DESSERT

The important thing to remember is that you don’t want to cause any additional work for the host with your gift. If you are going to bring something to eat, make sure it’s presentable and ready to be served. Unless it’s something like a box of chocolates that the host might want to save for themselves, no judging here!

Items for Immediate Use gift

Are you sensing the theme here? Make your host’s life easier with your gift. Visiting that friend that just got new furniture? Get creative and find a fun/pretty/interesting pack of coasters to help them ward off drink rings. Going to a party thrown by a wine lover? Get them a cool pack of wine glass tags or a coffee table book about wine & cheese pairings. You get the idea!

When in doubt, put yourself in their shoes and think about what gift you would like to receive. No need to blow the budget and get crazy, you can easily do something from one of these categories for under $20. Now you’re all set to be the favorite guest everywhere you go – happy partying and be safe!


Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

Modernista on a Budget's Thanksgiving Dessert Recipe for Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

Modernista Pumpkin Gingerbread TrifleWith Thanksgiving right around the corner, I know many of you are working on those menus and looking up recipes for an item to bring over to family or friend’s house. Today I want to share my recipe for a delicious Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle! It’s perfectly in season and for those that don’t like the taste of pumpkin, this is a great option. I know you’re probably thinking, it’s in the title – don’t be crazy! I promise you the pumpkin flavor is so subtle. Plus, this recipe is so easy and budget friendly! Here’s what you’re going to need…..


  • 1 (14 oz) package Gingerbread Cake mix
  • 1 (5.1 oz) box cook-and-serve Vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 (15 oz)can pumpkin pie filling
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 (12 oz) container frozen whipped topping
  • ½ cup gingersnaps


Bake the gingerbread cake according to the directions on the package and let cool completely when done, then crumble. While the cake is baking, prepare the pudding and also let set aside to cool. Next, stir the pumpkin pie filling, sugar and cinnamon into the pudding.

Now comes the layering. In your trifle or punch bowl, put a packed layer of crumbled gingerbread cake, add a layer of pudding mixture, and then add a layer of whipped cream. Continue this layering process until done (should give you 2-3 layers depending on size of the container), ending with whipped cream on top. Finish by either sprinkling crushed or whole gingersnaps on the top.


Now if you want to get reallll fancy, you can make them as individual desserts by using small mason jars and adding 1-2 layers. Up to you!

This recipe cost me a total of $10 at my local Target and took me about an hour to make, factoring in the bake and cool time on the cake and pudding. I hope you and your loved ones enjoy this delicious dessert this Thanksgiving!


#1 Rule of Washing Your Face

Modernista on Skincare

I guarantee at least 80% of you aren’t doing this little known secret. When you clean your face at night – do you wash it twice?

This is something I haven’t been doing for the past 10 years that I’ve been wearing make-up. But on my recent birthday I decided I really wanted to take skincare seriously and I consulted with a professional. When she asked what I usually do, I told her – wash my face and moisturize. She asked if that’s after I clean my face of make-up, I said no – it was meant to be an all-encompassing face wash.

She was appalled. She promptly informed me that I should be washing my face twice at night; once for make-up removal, and once for actually cleaning the face.

Mind. Blown.

Now I use a gentle face wash that is classified as a make-up remover, then I wash it a second time with a facial cleanser, ending with eye cream and moisturizer. I’ve noticed a dramatic change in my skin, it seems clearer and brighter. Hallelujah and huge thanks to that aesthetician!

Now that I’ve shared this wisdom with you, I hope you share with other women in your life. Here’s to years of amazing skin!


3 Easy Ways to Take Casual Outfits into the Office

Modernista Work Attire

These days the office culture can vary greatly from job to job. You could go from a business professional environment to a startup company where everyone is in jeans and t-shirts. For me, that happened but in reverse. I went from a laid back company with a loose to non-existent dress code to a business casual workplace. Today, I want to share with you a few easy ways to take those casual outfits into a professional environment, without losing my own personal style.

  • Add a Blazer/Cardigan: This is my go-to when I can’t figure out what to wear. I’ll put on one of my casual dresses that are suitable for work (covered cleavage, appropriate length) and throw on either a matching blazer or cardigan to “dress it up”. Instantly makes me look pulled together.

Modernista Tip: Add a blazer

  • Wear Closed-Toed Kitten Heels: Sometimes all you need is a little height to make you look more polished and dressier than you might actually be. You want to be able to wear them all day while being appropriate, so sky-high heels are out. Investing in some kitten heels in staple colors like black or nude will serve you well, you can actually find these at stores like Ross, Target and TJ Maxx at a reasonable price.

Modernista Tip: Wear Kitten Heels

  • Dress Up Bottom or Top: Love a clean white tee? Maybe solid black is more your style. Tuck these into a pencil skirt or dress pant and add a blazer – ta da! Maybe your office allows jeans on Fridays, that doesn’t mean you can’t still look professional. Choose a dark wash jean and add a button up and flats, or pair it with a solid tee, blazer and flats/wedges.

Modernista Tip: Dress up casual tee

These are just 3 simple ways to get use out of those casual clothes in a professional environment, while staying modern and stylish. Something else I’ve done personally to step my office-game up is to take the time to put on makeup. I’m not talking a 30-minute routine, but enough that I look put together.

What tips do you have for the modern businesswoman?