4xForth: Heather Acton of Helio Interactive Inc. by Clare Johnson

It's 4xForth Friday and today we featuring Heather Acton, Founder of Helio Interactive Inc. Heather started Helio in 2012 to service her growing freelance client base with a full service digital agency focused on building brilliant web experiences. She has been a member of the Forth community since the early days, attending her first event with us in Autumn 2013, and we're delighted to introduce her to our new members on today's 4xForth series.

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4xForth: Forth Intern Katie Kenney by Clare Johnson

4xForth-Chicago-Katie-Kenney It's 4xForth Friday and today we're highlighting our second newest intern at Forth Chicago, Katie Kenney! Katie is a recent graduate from the University of Notre Dame and a business + systems integration senior analyst at Accenture. Her amazing spirit has already brought new and exciting energy to the team and we're absolutely delighted to have her! 

Today Katie chats about places she frequents in Chicago, where she'd like to travel, favorite apps, and the women who inspire her. Read all about her favorite picks below.

Places I'll go someday:

1) El Camino de Santiago: This one's at the top of the bucket list. I love the idea of walking across Spain and meeting people from all over the world along the way. 2) Sante Fe, NM: this is a pretty recent addition. My job allows me to travel frequently on the weekends so I'm going to take advantage and cross New Mexico off the "States to Visit" list. The goal is to visit all 50 states...and I kind of just want an excuse to listen to Santa Fe by Beirut on repeat. 3) Camp Wandawega: I heard about this place earlier this year and it sounds like the perfect weekend escape. No cellphones, TV or even heat...just some good friends, old-school camp activities, a fire and some s'mores (of course). 4) A Frank Lloyd Wright House: I've recently become pretty interested in architecture and design and found out you can rent out some of his homes in the Midwest for the weekend (!) and at a decent price (!!). 5) Dublin, Ireland: This city has my heart. I have to live here again at some point in my life..putting that out there right now so that the universe can start to work its magic.

Places I frequent in Chicago: 

1) The Bagelers Coffeehouse: This place opening up down the street from me was a godsend. I like to do work here on Fridays and I'm officially a regular. 2) Homeslice: My go-to. Their patio is my favorite and I especially love the converted airstream trailer, Chicago lights and their reminder to "Be Awesome" (go & you'll see what I'm talking about). Cool vibe, lots of good pizza combos and the best place to take advantage of the shampoo effect on the weekend. 3) Protein Bar - The baja salad = muy bueno. I basically love every single thing on the menu here. 4) Hard Pressed - With limited time in Chicago on the weekends (I travel to Minneapolis for work Monday-Thursday every week), I'm all for efficiency - HP does 30-minute strength training workouts so I'm in and out.

Four women I'd invite to dinner: 

1) Ethel Kennedy: I watched a documentary about her, RFK and their family (called 'Ethel' I highly recommend!) She's hilarious, strong, spunky and doesn't take life too seriously. Plus, has lived through some pretty amazing moments in history. 2) Brene Brown: Her book, Daring Greatly, is on my nightstand and I love everything she has to say about vulnerability. 3) Arianna Huffington: she's a badass business lady who just rocks at life in general. Loved her book, Thrive. 4) Rachel Brathen: She has such a great outlook on life and pursuing what makes you happy.

Life Hacks & Apps I love:

1) Postmates: On-demand delivery service for pretty much anything you need (food, dry cleaning, toothpaste) Breeding laziness? Genius? Both. Cause sometimes you're craving Chipotle guacamole, but don't want to pause The Newsroom. 2) Podcasts: so I'm pretty late to the game on this one but it's my new life changer! I'm at the airport twice a week so to change it up from my Spotify playlists every once in awhile I've started listening to podcasts. My favorite right now is Ira Glass's This American Life. 3) Venmo: pay your friend back for the cab or that dinner in the same amount of time it takes you to send a text. I haven't used cash or the ATM in...I can't even remember the last time. 4) Headspace: This is a meditation app that's aiming to make mindfulness mainstream. Ten minutes in the morning clears my head and is a great way to start the day.

Four things I'm looking forward to this fall/winter:  

1) The Royals winning the World Series! 2) The Newsroom premiere (I'm a huge West Wing fan, so this has been one of the best things that's happened since, well, 2006... Aaron Sorkin never fails me). 3) Yoga+ event at Anthropologie next month with the Pavela sisters. 4) Thanksgiving: food, family, football... doesn't get much better! #goirish

Thanks for sharing, Katie! Your energy and enthusiasm has already inspired me and I sincerely cannot wait to work side-by-side with you during our time with Forth Chicago. I think we should plan our next intern meeting with a side of The Newsroom or This American Life (as they are also favorites of mine!) and as for the upcoming Yoga+ event, I'll see you there, sister!

Follow Katie on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and here, at Forth Chicago!


4xForth: Karen Valentine of Roam & Home by Clare Johnson

Karen Valentine Each Friday we're highlighting one of the lovely women in our community by learning about her favorite Chicago places and restaurants, hearing what she's excited about for the upcoming season, and gaining some incredible travel recommendations.

It’s 4 x Forth Friday and today we’re talking to Karen Valentine of Roam & Home. Karen is a native Australian, food and travel curator, amazing writer and wicked-fun dinner party guest. Need a recommendation for where to travel and what to do? Talk to this amazing woman! She will never steer you wrong. 

TRAVEL AFAR - Places I'll go someday I get anxious without a plane ticket booked to go somewhere. I’m a Nomad with a fixed address [mortgage] so I am always equipped with a valid passport and list of places that I am ready to visit or revisit at a moments notice. The next spots include (in no specific order): 1) Japan:  it has been on the list the longest. I want to visit during the spring to see the Cherry Blossoms and eat my way from top to bottom of this country. I just love the clean crisp flavors Japan brings to the table.

2) Northern & Western Australia: Shhh, don’t tell other Australian’s but when it comes to Australia - I have never been to the Northern Territory or Western Australia - next visit home I gotta get there, not just to say I have been to all the States & Territories but because they look so freakin’ amazing!

3) Greece: a summer destination to eat fresh seafood straight from the boat and admire all that white architecture melting into the blue sea - just pick an island and plant ourselves.

4) Africa: My first trip there had my heart captured. It truly is the soul of the earth. Botswana will always have me, but I want to see the great migration in Kenya and check out Tanzania.

TRAVEL IN THE BACKYARD - Favorite places to visit outside the city/day trips from Chicago Chicago is surrounded by so many amazing places to visit that I could go on forever here. Off the cuff - these places come to mind: 1) Galena: great in the fall - the colors are amazing! Go for the historic buildings, and the charming laid back country life. When there, take the little trolley for a historic tour. Who knew that little wire handle on the paint can was invented here!

2) Milwaukee: Pack the dog and head to the Iron Horse Hotel for the night - we take our pampered mutt everywhere we can. Arrive in the afternoon so you can hit up the Milwaukee Art museum, maybe do a Miller Brewery Tour [we do this with lots of out-of-towners]. Then have dinner Ardent - it’s on my current to eat list. In the AM before you head home - stop for brunch at Trocadero’s, and take a walk along Brady Street before heading home.

3) Anywhere along Lake Michigan in the Summer: Rent a dog friendly home right on the beach for a week and forget that the world exists. Unplug [you will likely be forced to this - most places we have stayed have spotty signals]. Again, something we do with out-of-towners. The Aussies always marvel that such a HUGE body of water has no salt in it. It’s an incredible part of the world. Lots of great farm fresh produce to be found and little ma & pa stores to support.

4) House on the RockHilarious! Fascinating and well, hard to explain - but just go experience this massive collection of stuff - another crowd pleaser. Throw in Cave of the Mounds (30 minutes away) while you are there. Heck, stay at the kitsch themed Don Q Inn in Dodgeville or if you want some luxury accommodation and great restaurants, do an overnight in Madison, WI and you have a fun road trip.

FOOD - Best Bites in Chicago

1) I love street food and quick on the go eats, and I compile these lists for Chicago over at Chowzter.

2) Bahn Mi Hot Dog at Franks’n’Dawgs. I am not sad like the rest of Chicago that Hot Doug’s is now closed. I always preferred this place for their made in house ‘dawgs’ and accoutrements along with their gourmet sourced buns. Add in a little heat and some pickled veggies - you have me.

3) Fried Chicken and I have a few faves - Parson’s for sitting outside with a frozen negroni and bringing the dog along + Honey Butter Fried Chicken for their - well - honey butter and the magic spiced goodness that is sprinkled on top. The sides are delicious, too!

FOOD & TRAVEL- Things I am looking forward to this Fall / Winter Autumn is my fave season, the boots, the scarves, the coats, the woolen everything. I even look forward to seeing those first snow falls of the season, and then I get over and I focus on more food & travel. This season I am looking forward to: 1) A trip to London & Lisbon over Thanksgiving: I love London and all it’s glorious misery in the winter time. There is something about that city that feeds my soul. And then Lisbon - OMG - dying to visit! Inspired by too many Instagram travels there - I have got to see it’s insane beauty for myself.

2) Mexico in February: No one can sanely survive a Chicago winter without a ticket booked before the first snow. This trip will be back to Tulum - that beach is amongst the best in the world for sure. Oh - my heart just warmed up thinking about it.

3) Soups: Glorious thick creamy soups - like roasted butternut squash. I love making them. Shove everything in a pot - brown & sauté, shove in some stock - shove in a blend - done - dinner is ready - just add crusty bread with loads of butter.

4) Holiday Parties: When you work from home and you are in your PJ’s with layers of blankets / ponchos & woolie socks - it’s nice to have an excuse to get out of the house. You get scrubbed up - pop on a pair of heels, wear some sparkles, and share some laughs with lots of champagne toasts.

Thanks for sharing, Karen! I'm sure most of us wish we could join you on your many upcoming adventures (myself included!); they sound wonderful! Whether over seas or just up in Wisconsin, your ideas for fun and exploration are truly inspiring. We'll be keeping an eye out for posts about your London and Lisbon adventures next month!
Follow Karen on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Blog.


4xForth: Brenda Bergen by Natalie Pavela


Each Friday we’re highlighting one of the lovely women in our community by learning about her favorite Chicago places and restaurants, hearing what websites she’s all jazzed about, and gaining some inspiration from destinations she’s dreaming of traveling to next.

It’s 4 x Forth Friday and today we’re talking to Brenda Bergen, the creative force behind Wink Design Atelier! She's also the lady behind Get Fueled, an interview series with inspiring people about their creative process. 

Places I frequent in Chicago:

1. Bluebird Restaurant: It has a great vibe, awesome wine list and cocktails, nice bartenders, yummy mussels and frites. And the best part? It’s my closest neighborhood bar. 2. Belmont Harbor: the lake is one of the best things about Chicago, and we’ll have a sailboat docked there if it ever gets warm enough! 3. Millenium Park: I grew up near Ravinia, so I’ve been spoiled with great outdoor concerts my whole life. But Millenium Park has kicked it up a notch. I love sitting on the grass, eating a picnic, looking up at Chicago’s architecture, all while listening to music on a warm summer evening. Divine! 4. My own neighborhood: I spend the most amount of my time in Bucktown, my own neighborhood, because it really has everything I need within walking distance. There’s Olivia’s Market for last minute groceries, The Daily Method or Core Power Yoga for working out, my son’s school, Stitch for great gifts, Steven Alan for clothes, City Soles for shoe shopping, Double Door for concerts, the farmer's market for fresh veggies, Buzz: Killer Espresso for coffee, Trencherman for burgers and cocktails, Bluebird (see above), and soon the Bloomingdale Trail for biking and walking.

Places I'll go someday:

Travel is a priority in our family. We will give up living in a larger home in order to travel more. I’m very lucky, I’ve been to some incredible places that I would love to return to. I also have a long list of places I’ve never been, so here are some that I’m hoping to go to sooner rather than later.

1. Istanbul, Turkey: I’m just so intrigued by the opposing forces of ancient and modern. The architecture, the history, the food, the markets. This place is high on my list. 2. Cartagena, Colombia: I think it’s going to be the next hot spot. I want to go before it gets too touristy. 3. Querétaro, Mexico: One of my closest friends recently opened a restaurant there. I’m dying to visit her and eat there. Queretaro is an old colonial city with gorgeous architecture and a rich history. Plus, it’s less than an hour from San Miguel de Allende, which is also on my list. 4. Mentawai Island, Indonesia: My husband likes surfing, I like yoga, and our son finds fun things to do anywhere. All 3 of us love Indonesia. There are numerous private islands near Bali that we would love to explore, and this is one of them.

Best Bites in Chicago:

1. Fish Tacos: GT Fish & Oyster and Antique Taco could arm wrestle over this one. 2. Salted Caramel Gelato: Black Dog Gelato on Damen 3. Polenta & Pork Ragu: Davanti Enoteca on Taylor Street 4. Pig Face: Girl & the Goat. Don’t be scared, go for it, it’ll blow you away. I have celiac disease and therefore I have no choice but to eat gluten free. The folks at Girl & the Goat do the best job of dealing with it. It feels as if Stephanie Izzard is personally taking care of me. She actually knows what each person in her restaurant is eating - crazy!

Sites I lurve:

1. Jenna Park writes what I’m thinking and feeling, it’s absolutely uncanny. Recently, I reached out to her to invite her to be featured on my blog and now we are penpals. It’s so cool. 2. Reading this makes me feel hip. Everyone on it is so beautiful. Plus they have some great recipes and adorable guys on Mondays. 3. Vineet Kaur's Tumblr: One of the best curated sites out there. 4. I check this site out religiously whenever I’m about to go on a trip. I always love her suggestions, they are right up my alley.

Thank you for sharing Brenda. I think we're kindred spirits when it comes to dining, exploring Chicago spots, and neighborhood appreciation.

Follow along with Brenda and Wink Design on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest!