EVENT: Bacon, Sports & Beer Celebration @BaconSportsBeer @BaconSports (11-23-13)

UPDATE: This event happened!  Watch my #socialvideo recap below!

If you like bacon, sports, beer, and fun then this celebration is for you! With a ticket to the Bacon, Sports & Beer Celebration brought to you by Bacon Sports, you get unlimited tastings of bacon inspired creations from some of Chicago’s top restaurants, a healthy dose of craft beer tastings, plus all the fun and activities you can handle.

WHAT:   Bacon, Sports & Beer Celebration

WHEN: Saturday, November 23, 2013 from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM

WHERE: Union Station Great Hall, 500 West Jackson Boulevard

TICKET COST: General Admission – $100 (2pm – 6 pm)

VIP Ticket – $200 (1pm – 6pm) Use promo code “havefun” to avail of 40% off!


There will be Nerf games, multiple pop-a-shot hoops, a bumpin’ DJ, action photo booth to take crazy photos, a putting green, TV’s with games on, sports trivia, and various interactive games from some of Chicago’s top companies.

Make sure to wear your favorite or most random jersey or sports attire as we’ll be handing out awards to the people who go hardest in the paint.  

You’ll be sure to leave this Celebration fully satisfied by the hat trick of awesomeness so get your tickets now!

 Bacon, Sports, and Beer Celebration 2


Like Bacon, Sports & Beer Celebration on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Baconsportsbeer

Like Bacon Sports on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/baconsports

Tweet Bacon, Sports & Beer Celebration at @baconsportsbeer

Tweet Bacon Sports at @BaconSports

Tweet me at @JenTravelsLife

EVENT: The 2nd Annual Mariachi & Tequila Festival 2013 (11-16-13) @JenTravelsLife @Uber_Chi

Check out my video from the event and details below.

 I’m from Texas.  I love mariachis.  Y tequila.

Myhabanero.com has is at it again with the 2nd Annual Mariachi & Tequila Festival.  This fun and cultural event showcases Mexico’s first loves: Mariachi & Tequila! This incredible pair fused together creates an unforgettable night with proven success last year. Back by popular demand, this event is gets mas mejor!

WHAT:  2nd Annual Mariachi & Tequila Festival 2013

WHEN: Saturday, November 16, 2013 at 6 pm

WHERE: Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 East Congress Parkway, Chicago

To purchase tickets, click here.

Auditorium Theatre Chicago

Over 20 Tequilas, will be showcasing their products and providing free samples, while enjoying the wonderful sounds of live Mariachi music, Latin folkloric dancing, Charro rodeo-style rope tricks, and not to mention, delicious authentic Mexican cuisine.

Mariachi and Tequila

For the first time, Rafael Jorge Negrete, Diana Elisa Negrete, Gabriel Solis, María Elena Leal, and Arturo Peniche all performing on stage in Chicago; this is a must see performance.

Mariachi and Tequila 2

Tickets can be purchased at the Auditorium Theatre box office, www.ticketmaster.com/mariachitequila, or via phone at 800-982-2787.

Here’s more!

Enjoy a FREE UBER ride to or from Mariachi & Tequila Festival! Use the code MYHABANERO to receive $25 off your first UBERx or Black Car Ride! Request a pickup through Uber’s iPhone or Android app.


Like Mariachi & Tequila Festival 2013 on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events
Like MyHabanero on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/myhabanero

Like Uber on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/uber
Tweet MyHabanero at @Myhabanero
Tweet me at @JenTravelsLife

Tweet Uber at @Uber_Chi

Petergof Nightclub’s Alien Invasion 2013 #Event #Venue #Holiday

The Friday after Halloween may seem like a hard night to get folks to dress up, but not if you are Petergof Nightclub in Northbrook, IL.  Connected through my friends at Paradigm Next (thanks Yana and Alex), Alien Invasion 2013 was to be my first time visiting this venue.

petergof alien invasion 2013

Petergof is a restaurant, a banquet hall, an event space and a nightclub all rolled into one great space with a big, free parking lot.  Cocktails were moderately priced at $7-$9.  The space is beautiful, well-maintained and the staff was friendly (which is HUGE for me).

Check out the attached video to see all the fun including a costume contest, gregarious DJs, girls dancing in bikinis, the mesmerizing saxophone player and more information about Petergof in general.

You can also keep up with Petergof Nightclub on Facebook for the latest event information and lots of pictures from the event.

petergof nightclub jenchicago

PS: Know someone looking for #SocialVideo?  Email me here.

EVENT: Get ready for the 2013 @ChicagoToyNGame Fair! (11-23-13) #Toys #Games #Chicago


Get ready! The 2013 Chicago Toy & Game Fair is the destination to discover “what’s hot for the holidays” and try out toys and games before you shop for Black Friday Specials. You are certain to find some great additions to your family collection of toys and games here. The fair showcases the best Toys & Games from around the globe. Build towers, play in tournaments, meet characters from Star Wars to Moshi Monsters and more more more!

WHAT:  2013 Chicago Toy & Game Fair

WHEN: Saturday and Sunday, November 23 & 24, 2013

Saturday, 10 am – 6pm

Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm

WHERE: Navy Pier, 2nd Floor Festival Hall A

PARKING: Far East Lot at end of Navy Pier

TICKET COST: Adult – $10, Child aged 3 to 13 – $5, Kids below 3 – FREE

Click here for ticket info and a $2 off coupon: http://chitagfair.com/tickets-and-hours

Chicago Toy and Game Fair


All Day: ChiTAG invites you to relax and recharge at the ChiTAG Charging Station! Booth number and details will be provided when you arrive on Saturday morning and media badges are required to enter.

Here are some Fair highlights for Saturday, November 23rd:

10:00AM – 2:00PM: Check out the Young Inventor Challenge (YIC) exhibits and delight in the fun and creative toy and game inventions from some of our youngest inventive minds.  Cast your votes for the “Best in Show” and the “People’s Choice” awards and see who goes home a winner.

ChiTag Young Inventors

10:00AM – 5:00PM: Perfect your Yo-Yo skills with a dynamic performance competition featuring hands-on tips for all skill levels. The immensely entertaining and official Illinois State Yo-Yo Contest is open to all ages and will crown the longest standing yo-yo participant the title of champion.

12:00PM – 1:00PM: Meet and eat with your favorites from Star Wars 501st Legion: Vader’s First! You’re also invited to try your hand at a Stars Wars-themed rendition of the award-winning card game based on “War” for the chance to win a medal. (Registration required: http://www.chitagfair.com/events/501st.ht; Cost: $30 per child, $36 per adult; tournament only open to children ages 6 to 14.)


3:00PM: Help make history with the Girl Scouts of America by playing the Top Trumps Moshi Monsters deck in hopes of setting the Guinness World Record for the “Most People Playing a Card Game at the Same Time in the Same City.” (Registration required for Girl Scouts: http://register.girlscoutsgcnwi.org/)


For more information, visit the website: www.chitagfair.com

Like Chicago Toy & Game Fair on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChicagoToyAndGameFair
Tweet Chicago Toy & Game Fair at @ChicagoToyNGame
Tweet me at @JenTravelsLife

@DriehausMuseum brings out the Gastby in me… @JenTravelsLife #Travel #Chicago #Cars

@driehausmuseum @jentravelslife #travelvideo


You never know what you will see on a sunny afternoon in Chicago, and when I saw these vintage cars, I had to know more.

I had passed the Driehaus Museum numerous times without ever really knowing what the building was… After a quick chat with a docent, I look forward to returning for a tour.

Got questions?  Tweet them at: @DriehausMuseum


@DriehausMuseum @JenTravelsLIfe



Things To Do In Chicago If You Are Frank Sinatra


He immortalized the song “My Kind Of Town” and it was… his kind of town.  So much so that it often feels like Frank Sinatra is still hanging around Chicago.  As if he always just left but could pop up back up almost anywhere.  From the faded framed pictures in bars and restaurants to the urban legends and hearsay of walking tours, here is your guide to enjoying Chicago, Sinatra-style.


Well, if you are Frank, you always want to be asked to sing.  But, because you are not Frank, your best bet for belting out your rendition of Chicago, Chicago is at karaoke.  Blue Frog Bar & Grill downtown is affectionately known for it’s raucous but friendly crowd.  Expect a wait on busy nights or reserve your own private karaoke room at Lincoln Karaoke.

If you’d rather perform at an outdoor venue, why not sing Sinatra’s Love and Marriage at Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park?  The fountain was in the opening credits of the 90′s sitcom “Married with Children” while Sinatra’s Love and Marriage was its theme song.


It was well known that Sinatra only wanted to hang at a bar that had Jack Daniels and a piano.  “This is a gentlemen’s drink.”, he’d say.  He could be so easy to please… at times.  The Joynt in River North is where I met Stan Wozniak, who had been Frank Sinatra’s road manager for 9 years, when Frank was older and Stan was… em, younger.  This is one of my absolute favorite spots in Chicago, not only because I get to see my friends, but because they have LIVE music every night of the week.  And I’m a sucker for live music and a dance floor. The Joynt attracts a professional, down-to-earth crowd of locals and travelers- Frank woulda liked it. If you are craving to hear some Sinatra-type crooning call to see which nights “Dakota” sings.  He sang for Ol’ Blue Eyes as a child star and got Sinatra’s blessing, “You got it, Kid.”  [Watch my video of The Joynt here!]

With all this music and drinking a celebratory Rat Pack toast seems apropos, but what to say?  The toast below is worth memorizing from “The Voice” himself via The Way You Wear Your Hat by Bill Zehme

“I wish you an abundance of health and goodness and sweet things and sweet dreams, no nightmares, and I wish you lemonade in the shade in July and all that other jazz, and huggin’ and kissin’ and peace forever in your time, and for your children, and their children, and their children and God bless us all!  Cheers!  Salud! Cent’anni!”


Depending on your budget, you can buy lots of gifts for you and friends just like Francis would have.  If you, like Frank, don’t concern yourself with little things like money, you can surprise your best friends (like Sammy Davis Jr.) with a Cartier watch from Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile.

Not quite there yet?  Spend time looking for the perfect orange (Frank’s favorite color) handkerchief to tuck in your suit pocket.  Hermes in Gold Coast is known for their exquisite scarfs and accessories while boutiques like Mr. & Mrs. Digz carries both new and vintage designer options.

Another fun option is soap shopping.  Yep.  Never one to like copious amounts of cologne or perfume, Blue Eyes simply enjoyed the smell of soap.  Yardley’s English Lavender to be specific.  Sniff away and find your favorite soap flavor at Sabon in Gold Coast or Merz Apothecary in Lincoln Square.


Hey.  You’re Frank Sinatra.  You’re Italian.  You love food.  You specifically love Italian food made by Joey and Armando at La Scarola near Grand and Halstead.  One step inside and you “get it”.  [Watch my video review of La Scarola here!]

In a rush?  Want something more casual?  How about some barbecue ribs?  Twin Anchors in Lincoln Park has been serving up some of the best for decades now.

And of course, like any man’s man, this gentleman enjoys a prime cut of beef, grilled to perfection at one of Chicago’s famed steakhouses.  Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse has a Sinatra-esque ambiance in Gold Coast and Mastro’s Chicago bar has long been my “go-to” spot when I want to get dressed up, and meet interesting people.


Not only did he break hearts, he broke legs.  Even at 5’7″ tall, Frank was never one to back down from a fight.  ”When a guy bothers me, I belt him” he’d say.  Whoa.  Brush up on your jab and duck at a boxing gym like LA Boxing in Wrigleyville and go out feeling like you have Security, but you don’t need Security.

Besides, it’s not like you don’t know people.  You know a guy if things get… er… sticky.  This is, after all, Chicago.  Oh, and speaking of The Family- don’t forget about Johnny Boy’s Graduation this weekend.  Capeesh?  Ok, ok… maybe they won’t be real mobsters, but the actors of this interactive dinner theater, will have you laughing so hard you won’t care.  [Watch my video for Johnny Boy's Graduation here!]

When you and/or Frank get enough carousing and are ready to return to alter boy roots,  Holy Name Cathedral is a beautiful Catholic church Near North Side. Mr. Sinatra played hard and prayed hard.


He’s been known to give the advice of slipping your Mary Janes (shoes) in between couch cushions for one final buff, but I couldn’t find a venue in Chicago that wants to promote cushion shoe buffing, so you are on your own finding a willing couch.

Fortunately, you don’t need shoes at all, at the pool. Sinatra would say that his idea of a vacation is to put the watch in a drawer and sit by the pool for a few days.  Not a bad idea, Frank.  East Bank Club in downtown Chicago is known for both its indoor and outdoor pools and sells guest passes for visitor access.  However, you may not need to pay extra for a guest pass elswhere, if you choose to sleep at a swanky hotel, the way Sinatra did.

Though very often out all night, Frank still appreciated the value and customer service of a fine hotel.  Though many of the originals have been replaced or upgraded, Public ChicagoMillennium Knickerbocker Hotel ChicagoThe Drake and Palmer House all claim Ol’ Blue Eyes as a valued guest.

So.  He sleeps after all.

Do you use Foursquare?  Check out the list I made: Things Frank Sinatra Would Do In Chicago

Wanna print this article out?

Special thanks to Stan Wozniak and Bill Zehme for instilling a love and appreciation in me for Frank Sinatra.

Chicago Film Critics Awards Honoring Jane Lynch & Paul Sorvino

Though my life is most certainly not all glitz and glamour… sometimes it is.  Check out the event coverage video hosted by “moi” and produced by Jumpmasters.  The #CFCA show award winners can be found on the Chicago Sun Times blog.  It was a FABULOUS night, and I look forward to next year.

What I think is lasting or “evergreen” (as we say in the biz) about this video, therefore worthy of watching again and again- are the numerous comments and insights about Chicago from celebrities and party-goers alike.  It makes me proud to live here every time I watch it.

When it’s cold in February and there’s no sun in sight… we still love this city.   !Viva Chicago!

I’m Mark DeCarlo’s New Biggest Fan #CFCA

mark decarlo, jen knoedlBeing a part of the Chicago Film Critics Awards was so many things… fascinating, exciting, stressful, hilarious, rewarding and above all… inspiring.  Not only was I overly-impressed with the ability of an all-volunteer crew to pull off such an event- I was, as I often am, inspired by the people I interviewed on the Red Carpet at Muvico in Rosemont.

One of the most fun and empowering conversations I had over the weekend was with Mark DeCarlo.  Sure, we talked about his segment on Windy City Live, his book and his upcoming honeymoon travel show… but impressive as all that is, wasn’t the most inspiring part.

It was his authenticity… his personality.  You get the feeling he doesn’t take himself too seriously.  I’m all about “keeping it real” and Mark is one of those people who is the same fun personality both on and off stage.  He hosted the entire awards show and then had us laughing for hours at the after party.

I learned a lot from our conversation about travel, show-biz and the unending hustle of being your own boss.  There were no huge revelations.  It’s hard work and that’s that.

It was energizing to talk with someone who is doing what I want to do; doing it well and still a sheer delight to be around when a camera is nowhere to be found.  I found myself thinking that I wanted to be like him, which is a pretty big compliment in my book.

While our Red Carpet interview from #CFCA is being edited (shout out to Perillo Auto Group and Intercontinental Chicago O’Hare for sponsoring the event) you can watch him close out the show with Jane Lynch in the attached video.  See?  Way fun.

Chicago Film Critics Awards honoring Jane Lynch – Feb 9

Heads up on a great event, Chicago!  Join me on the Red Carpet at the 24th Annual Chicago Film Critics Awards on February 9, 2013.  Honorees and presenters include Jane Lynch of Glee, Mark DeCarlo, Joe Piscopo, Nadine Velasquez, Robert Teitel and George Tillman.

Use the discount code “JENCHICAGO” for $25 of your ticket.

Chicago Film Critics Awards




Video Review: The Christmas Schooner at Mercury Theatre

“What’s a Schooner”, I asked myself as I read the title of the press release.  Oh.  It’s a big boat.  And this is the story of how the first Christmas trees made it to Chicago.

But the show is more than that.  It’s about family and unconditional love and helping your fellow man.  It’s about sharing our blessings and not keeping them.  The Christmas Schooner was a delightful, moving and heart-warming holiday show that I recommend for the whole family.  Watch my video review above and let me know what you think.

For more information, find excerpts from the press release below:

“A grand family tradition!” The Chicago Tribune

 Directed by L. Walter Stearns, with Musical Direction by Eugene Dizon and Choreography by Brenda Didier



Chicago’s Holiday Musical Commemorates 100 Years Since the Fateful Voyage 

Chicago, IL- THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER returns to the Mercury Theater (3745 N. Southport, Chicago), from November 23 through December 30, 2012.  The whole family will enjoy this heart-warming story of the first Christmas tree ship and the family who risked their lives to fill Chicago with the Christmas spirit. This critically acclaimed production features a powerful, moving story, an exquisite score of original music and traditional holiday favorites, and a company of 25 actors and musicians.  This year’s production commemorates the 100-year anniversary of the historic voyage of the Christmas Tree Ship.

 The shipwreck of the Rouse Simmons, known as ‘The Christmas Tree Ship’, served as inspiration for THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER.  Her captain and crew risked the notoriously violent winter lake to bring Christmas trees from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to Chicago’s German immigrants. Each year, Captain Herman Schuenemann would sell trees right off of the ship at the Clark Street Docks, and was known to give free trees to the needy. On November 23rd 1912, the ship was swept up in a terrible storm. It was not until 59 years later that she was discovered, lying in 170 feet of water. Today the Rouse Simmons and her cargo of 5,500 well stacked trees remain preserved in the cold, fresh waters of Lake Michigan and her legend has grown to mythical proportions. The Blaine Nickelodeon – the silent film theater that now houses the Mercury – opened that very same year.

THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER has entertained audiences in hundreds of productions including a twelve year run at Chicago’s Bailiwick Repertory Theatre. Last year the Mercury revived the tradition with a full orchestra and an all-star cast, garnering a “Best Production” nomination for the 2012 Jeff Awards. The Chicago Tribune calls this show “a grand family tradition” and “a sacred part of a Chicago Christmas”. The Chicago Sun-Times raved, “an inheritance to be treasured”, “pleases in every way”, “highly recommended”. A timely and uplifting tale of love and loss, THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER reminds us of tradition, and our responsibility to celebrate the living while honoring our heritage.

THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER is written by Chicago favorites John Reeger (book) and Julie Shannon (music and lyrics) and stars returning cast members Karl Hamilton as “Peter Stossel”, Jeff Award winner Cory Goodrich as “Alma Stossel,” and Jeff Award winner Jim Sherman as “Gustav Stossel.”. The production is once again helmed by the Jeff-award winning team of L. Walter Stearns (director), Eugene Dizon (musical director) and Brenda Didier (choreographer).  The scenic design is by Jacqueline and Richard Penrod, with costume design by Carol Blanchard and lighting design by Jason Epperson.

Performances are from November 23 to December 30, 2012.  The schedule is: Wednesdays at 2pm and 7:30pm, Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30pm, Saturdays at 2pm and 7:30pm and Sundays at 1pm.  Tickets range from $29 to $59. Groups of 10 or more receive discounts of up to 50%.  For tickets and information contact the Mercury Theater at 773-325-1700 or www.mercurytheaterchicago.com.


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