Local day out – Werk Force Brewing Co.

If you know me at all, you probably know that I rarely drink (I am also one of the biggest lightweights you will ever meet, but that’s a story for another time). But, Werk Force Brewing Co. in Plainfield, IL is a super hip, laid-back spot to grab a few unique brews that won’t break the bank, so when the opportunity to check out their new taproom presented itself, I took advantage.

Their menu is ever-changing with new varieties available as they come about. My boyfriend and I were sucked in from their Facebook post about a s’mores-infused brew (how could we not be?). So, we went in to try it and ended up staying for almost three hours.

The s’mores stout was called “Stupid Sticky Fingers” and it was every bit as magical as it sounds. Unfortunately, I think this one is now all tapped out.

As for the others, they are all worth a try with different seasonal flavors popping up throughout the year. It’s only $2.50 for a 5 oz. taster which allows you to figure out which ones you really enjoy before grabbing a full glass (or if you’re like us, just continue to buy the tasters so you can try a bunch of different ones).

The taproom is a mix of rustic and modern, with a few colorful pops to make the space bright and unique.

They host a bunch of different food truck events every week. So, make it a date with food and drinks.

Overall, the staff is super kind and helpful if you have any questions. You will probably run into at least one dog when you visit (bonus points). The beer is so delicious, perfectly chilled and there is definitely something for everyone (even that one friend who just HATES IPA). Definitely a local gem and worth checking out.


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Local Day Out – Suburban Chicago Garden Boutique

It is HOT in the Chicago suburbs today. I’m talking 89 degrees (but my phone says it feels like 90 degrees and I agree), not a cloud in the sky kind of hot. So, what does a normal girl do? Heads to a new outdoor garden boutique in the smoldering heat.

It’s Memorial Day weekend and since the weather is so nice people are already out and about. I drove to Downtown Aurora and found my way to the most adorable garden boutique called Branch Gardens. It’s brand new, just opened May 1st and was basically a garden lover’s dream (me).

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This space was revamped from it’s original glory. Downtown Aurora has some incredible historic buildings and architecture. It is the last stop on the BNSF railway, which takes you from Aurora to Chicago with intermediate stops. So, if you’re looking to get away from the city for a day, it’s easy to hop on and check out the new shops in downtown Aurora.

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The shop was filled with adorable planters, plants, homemade soaps and little home decor items. The space itself gave me a Joanna-Gaines-started-a-garden-shop vibe, but in the absolute best way (I am a huge fan of everything Joanna does).

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This place was honestly so worth checking out. I think Aurora has great potential to thrive as it once did and these shops coming in certainly gives it a head start in the right direction.

The owners are super great and will help you with anything you need. They both have a passion for horticulture and make it a wonderful experience for every visitor.

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It was a great kick-off to my Memorial Day weekend, now off to see what else I can find.

What are your favorite local places?


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Merrell Women’s Moab Hiking Boots Review

Small disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. Just sharing what has worked for me.

I first started hiking on trails about 5 years ago and in the beginning I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I usually just wore my trusty pair of worn out gym shoes, which didn’t hold up well to the elements, but got the job done.

It wasn’t until I started planning my trip to Acadia National Park in late 2015 when I realized that some real hiking boots might come in handy. I found myself online completely confused and steered in a million different directions and in REI asking a billion questions.

I have extremely narrow feet, so finding a boot that would fit me comfortably and not slip off the whole time or require me to wear more than one pair of socks was the goal.

I eventually found the Merrell Women’s Moab hiking boots after months of looking. I have had these boots since early 2016 and used them quite a few times (complete with two big trips to Maine and Washington State) since then. They have held up incredibly well and I seriously can’t recommend them enough if you are looking for a good starter hiking boot.

Merrell Moab Women's Hiking Boots

They are waterproof, super comfortable and durable. I have only had blisters once while wearing them and that was after a 3,000 foot ascent and descent, otherwise no problems!

I know some people prefer trail runners vs. big traditional hiking boots. It is all really your preference. I suggest trying them on and seeing what works for you.

Here is a link if you wanted to check them out for yourself (they are much cheaper now than when I bought them… I believe I paid around $140 after tax): boots

I figured while I’m on the subject of footwear recommendations, I would also recommend my absolute favorite hiking socks. I can’t rave about these bad boys enough, I love them so much I wear them even for everyday use cause they are just so comfortable.

They’re by a brand called Darn Tough. All the products are made in Vermont and guaranteed for LIFE. But, so far, after having them over a year, it doesn’t look like they’re going to get ruined any time soon. These things are truly…darn tough.

Darn Tough hiking socks

This combination of boots and socks has kept my feet happy and healthy on the trails. I never go on a trip without them.

I hope that this has helped those of you looking for a pair of reliable hiking boots and socks.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you all in my next post,

Emily


 

I recently created an Instagram page for Eloquently Emily where I post about all my travels and little things I’m doing/see where I live. If you want to follow it, click here!

Brewing kombucha at home: growing my SCOBY

After years of obsession with the fermented tea drink we all know and love, Kombucha, I have started to brew my own batch at home. So far, my experience has been very positive and I decided I would share my process for those of you interested in trying it out yourself. Kombucha costs anywhere from $3.00-$6.00 in stores, so brewing at home is a fantastic money saving option, plus you control exactly what goes into it.

I will do a few separate posts as I do this process. This one will cover how to grow a SCOBY, the next will talk all about the first fermentation process and then I will talk about bottling for the second and final fermentation.

If you want more information on what Kombucha is and a little bit about it, check out my previous post.

The first step is to either grow a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), purchase one online or get one from someone. I am a member of a fantastic Facebook group of kombucha home brewers which is really where I learned everything I know. They are incredibly knowledgeable on brewing, what to look out for and even give some amazing flavor suggestions.

If you are wanting to get started with brewing, I highly suggest you become a member of the group. It’s also a great place to see if someone near you has a SCOBY to spare (and they grow like crazy, so there’s a good chance someone has some they want to get rid of).

I chose to grow my SCOBY at home for two reasons. A. It’s extremely easy and B. I knew exactly where it came from. I ended up growing it in an IKEA jar that my boyfriend had laying around from his cold brew coffee brewing and it worked great.

Here is how I grew my SCOBY:

Ingredients:

2 Cups of Water

4 Organic Green Tea Bags (you can use black or white tea instead)

1/2 Cup of White Sugar (some people use organic, that’s fine, I just used regular ol’ sugar)

1 Bottle of GT’s Original Kombucha

Recipe:

  1. Make sure your jar is clean, wash with warm soapy water, rinse very well. Then, do a second rinse with mostly water and about two tablespoons of vinegar to make sure it’s clean. Again, rinse well. Let dry completely.

  2. Bring two cups of filtered water to a boil, once it reaches the boil turn off the heat. Then, you will want to toss in your tea bags and let it steep for 15 minutes.

  3. When the 15 minutes is up, dissolve your sugar into the tea. If it isn’t completely dissolving, turn on the heat for just a few seconds while stirring until all the sugar is gone.

  4. Let the sweetened tea cool completely to room temperature. This will take a few hours.

  5. Once tea is cooled, pour in one bottle of GT’s Original Kombucha in your jar, followed by your room temperature sweetened tea mixture. Stir it up with a clean spoon.

  6. Cover with part of an old, clean t-shirt and secure around the top of the jar with a rubber band.

  7. Let the jar sit at room temperature, preferably in a dark spot like a pantry or closet for two weeks, undisturbed. You will start to see your SCOBY grow slowly over the two weeks.

  8. Once your SCOBY is grown, you can start your first fermentation.

 

*Note that room temperature, amounts/types of tea used, sugar content and more can mean a different brewing experience for everyone. You will learn what works well for you as you go.

Here are some pictures of the progress I had over the two weeks:

It’s very exciting to see how your SCOBY forms slowly each day! I hope you all give this a try, let me know in the comments if you have any questions or other methods that have worked for you.

-Emily


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Amtrak Train Travel Wishlist From Chicago

I had the interesting experience of traveling via Amtrak to Seattle from Chicago on the Empire Builder last June, and since then I can’t stop thinking about where else it could take me.

I have to be honest, when I finished my total roundtrip Amtrak journey I had a major love/hate relationship with train travel. After all, in two weeks I had spent 96 hours on the train. Do anything for 96 hours (in 48 hour straight intervals) and you may start to question your choices too.

But, now, several months later, I am looking back and appreciating that train trip for the views, interesting people we got to meet and talk to and the land we covered in just a few short days. We got to see parts of America that is rarely accessed and watch the sunsets and sunrises over some of the most beautiful places.

So, lately I’ve been thinking where else the train could take me. Besides the terrible discomfort of sleeping in the coach seats for two nights, I really enjoyed myself and think I could easily do it again (my boyfriend probably would not).

If you want to see some tips and tricks I have for riding the Empire Builder, check out this older post of mine. 

Here are some trips I would love to take via Amtrak:

  1. Chicago to Denver – California Zephyr

    Roundtrip Coach Price for Two in June 2018: $488 ($244 each).

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This trip takes 18 hours and 40 minutes from Chicago, IL to Denver, CO. Most of the trip takes you through Iowa and Nebraska, so I am not sure exactly how exciting it would be, but it’s definitely one I would love to try since the travel time is drastically shorter than that to Seattle.

It would be great to do this Amtrak trip as a multi-stop where you can get off and hop back on to head toward Utah, Nevada and finally California. But, if you’re looking for a shorter trip, Denver would probably be the ideal spot to stop.

If you want to find some great places to eat while visiting Denver, check out this list by Eater. Honestly, it’s all about the food and the views.

Cute Airbnb’s I would love in Denver:

The City Experience  

Modern Feel

Bungalow

2. Chicago to Boston – Lake Shore Limited

Roundtrip Coach Price for Two in June 2018: $364 ($182 each)

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This trip takes 21 hours and 48 minutes sweeping you past the Great Lakes, New York State and Massachusetts until the final destination in Boston. I followed a similar route when traveling to Maine and when you get into New York state the views are beautiful.

I would love to do this trip to check out Boston and all of its amazing history and culture. Plus, I mean, those accents.. who can resist them?

Yet another list by Eater to give you some of the best places to eat in Boston.

Cute Airbnb’s I would love in Boston:

Bright in Boston

Bohemian Bricks

Clean, Sleek, Modern

3. Chicago to Austin, TX – Texas Eagle

Roundtrip Coach Price for Two in June 2018: $448 ($224 each)

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This trip will take you 28 hours and 21 minutes. Not a short one, but it’s basically a straight trip down south, so you will get to experience the change in scenery as you go. This is a route that will take you all the way into Los Angeles, if you want to torture yourself through two days of travel, but otherwise is a great option to hit all the big Texas cities.

Austin is a city known for it’s food, so be sure to check out a lot of it if you decide to travel there. Here is, you guessed it, another article by Eater of Austin’s best spots to eat.

Cute Airbnb’s I would love in Austin:

Quirky Airstream Home

Tiny Home Dream

Modern Living Guesthouse


These are just a few trips I would love to take from Chicago using the Amtrak. I realize that this method of travel is not for everyone, but I think it’s something to try out at least once.

Where would you like the train to take you? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading,

Emily


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Bedroom Decor Plans + Inspiration

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My bedroom has been my greatest creative inspiration and space for the last few years. It went from being a pastel purple teenage disaster littered with emo band posters to my rose gold glowing sanctuary.

My bedroom doubles as my office right now, which means that I spend a lot of time in there. So, anywhere that I am spending a lot of time I want to be nice, inspirational and visually appealing.

My color scheme is very millennial approved. Everything works around my touches of copper, pink and white.

While I do love my space right now, I am always thinking and looking for ways to improve it even more. I have done a post on my room in the past (which you can check out here), and not too much has changed, but this post is more about where I hope to go with my future decorating.

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Hanging small terrarium from Amazon.

I have worked on adding some more greenery to my space (definitely want much, much more soon). I tried having succulents in the past, but unfortunately didn’t care for them properly (or maybe overwatered) and they died. I now am the proud plant mother to 5 air plants and a trusty *bamboo* (I’ve heard the IKEA bamboo sticks aren’t really bamboo). I would love to try a bigger potted plant next.

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I love this terrarium that was gifted to me during Christmas.

I got very obsessed with making yarn wall hangings once I followed a DIY and kind of ran with it and made it my own a few years ago now. I have since made several for gifts and I think they are just adorable in any space. I have been huge on texture lately and these provide just that. They do get quite dusty though! So be sure to give them a good shake outside now and then.

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Obsessed with this embroidery hoop by @earthologie (find her on Instagram)
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One of my DIY wall yarn hangings with a circle wire hoop.

One of my favorite new decor editions this year has been my rug that I found at a vintage shop locally. Just everything about it: the color, the texture, the handmade quality and the shaggy little ends. Obsessed. I’m not usually huge on carpet-on-carpet looks, but since this is the space I’m currently confined to I really wanted to still incorporate it.

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And of course my trusty IKEA lamps have kept my room loyal to the rose-coppery look. These were such a great addition to my room. I have one on either side of the room and when they’re lit up with the Edison bulbs they illuminate a beautiful golden, copper glow that reflects beautifully off the pink accent wall.

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Now for my inspiration for future room decoration plans:

First thing I’d love to change is my bed frame because it’s old, bulky and just doesn’t match. I found this one on West Elm and I am so in love with the simplistic, wire frame:

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My bedroom currently doesn’t have a mirror which is something that I desperately need to change. This one from Anthropologie, although expensive, has given me some serious inspiration:

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And just how cute is this little pink stool from Wayfair? I would love for this to be in reading corner.

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Much more inspiration to come. I am always looking for things to renovate and improve my space! What are your favorite places to shop for unique and cute pieces? Let me know in the comments.

As always,

Thank you so much for reading!

Emily


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My 24th Year

Last Wednesday I celebrated my 24th birthday which is still really crazy to me, not because I’m afraid to get older, but because I feel like I just turned 21. Either way, it’s here and honestly I’m excited for this year.

I was lucky enough to have a great dinner and celebration thanks to my amazing boyfriend Tom.

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I’m going to commit to regularly posting on my blog and taking it more seriously because it is a passion project that I really do care about. I started this blog in Spring 2015 and now I have 72 published posts, almost 400 followers and I have had the chance to connect with and get to know some of you, which has been such a great experience for me.

There are some incredibly personal moments that have happened in my life over the last few years that I hope to share with you soon, because I really believe it can help someone else out there.

I can’t say how grateful I am to have this community and outlet… so thank you. I look forward to posting every single time because of your support and kind comments.

I am pretty active on Instagram, so follow me there! I try to keep up on my Instagram Stories pretty much daily.

Please let me know what you guys would like to see more of in future posts by commenting one or a few numbers below:

  1. Travel Posts
  2. Health/Recipes
  3. DIY
  4. Mental Health/Self-Care

 

UNTIL NEXT TIME,

Emily