What it’s really like to transition from Chicago to New York

I’ve officially been in New York for four months, which may not seem like a lot to outsiders, but feels like an eternity to me in the city! I’ve been trying to experience as many things in NYC as I can in these few short months, and I have a lot of opinions about the city… a lot! Some good, mostly bad, but hey, I’m still tryin’ out here, and as most people will tell you, their transition to New York probably wasn’t a piece of cake either, but you just have to keep a good attitude and push through.

One of the most astonishing things I’ve experienced is how vastly different New York City is than Chicago. What is up with that?! Honestly, I was not expecting the transition to be so difficult. Both NYC and Chicago are big cities, with a lot of people, culture, and things to do. They should be pretty similar living styles, right?

WRONG. Big differences. Huge! If you’re thinking about moving, or have just visited the Midwest to The Big Apple, here are my thoughts on the biggest differences between the two.

I have [way] less money. Period.

There’s no way around it… New York City is expensive. Yes, I knew that coming here, but I don’t think I was truly ready for the extreme sticker shock of living in this city. Rent is more than double what I paid in Chicago for half the space, food is more expensive, airfare out of the city is sometimes comparable, but usually higher, and cocktails are minimum $15. Even my haircuts in New York City are nearly 1.5x more expensive than my Chicago styles. I have tried to adjust to the insane cost of living that Manhattan has, but I’m not sure I’ll ever see the prices here as normal. ESPECIALLY considering salaries here don’t really escalate to meet the high cost of living. Your dollar doesn’t go too far here, but yes, that’s the price you pay for living in what many consider the greatest city in the world!

I cook less and eat out more.

I truly find joy in cooking. In Chicago, I cooked almost every night and packed the leftovers for my lunch the next day at work. Not so much in New York! I am totally overwhelmed by the sheer amount of restaurants and food spots I can try out and I know I can eat out for around the same price as cooking in. There are healthy options, gluten free, vegan, you name it, New York has it. It’s a shame that I don’t use my kitchen more, but considering it’s the size of a small closet, I guess ordering in is just fine!

There’s more FOMO in New York City.

What people say is true: there is ALWAYS something to do in New York City. But with those plentiful options, comes real and intense FOMO. The Fear of Missing Out on something cool in the city pretty much ensures that fact that I’m never going to stay home.

Don’t believe the rumors… People are equally as nice.

Chicagoans are some of the nicest people I’ve ever come across, but New Yorkers are just as cordial, I swear! I’ve never been yelled at or cussed out – quite the contrary. Whenever I’m lost (which is 99% of the time), New Yorkers are quick to help me out, my neighbors are sweet, my coworkers are nice, and strangers on public transportation are equally as friendly and/or creepy as CTA riders in the midwest.

Every time I miss Chicago, NYC pulls me back in.

It’s true. I love Chicago with all my heart, and I miss living there everyday! But there’s something about New York that tends to reel you back in love with it. Besides, I’m too busy and broke to be worrying about what Chicago is up to, and let’s be clear, the weather in NYC requires about 10 less layers of clothes than my beloved Chi-Town.

There’s plenty of things I adore in Chicago, but for now, I guess I’ll keep giving New York a shot!

Have you transitioned from the Midwest to the East Coast?? What has your experience been??

“User Not Found” | Why Instagram Deleted My Account and How I Got it Back

Fair warning: I’m going to try to make this post as dramatic as possible, not that I really have to try very hard. Losing my Instagram for 3 hours was terrible and stressful and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

I love Instagram. I enjoy posting and seeing pictures, I like to read through inspiring comments at the coffee shop, I have met so many new people, and made fantastic professional connections through blogging. I put my sweat and tears into my pictures – I really view my Instagram page as a creative outlet to share my life with anyone who chooses to be a part of it, whether small or big. I take a lot of joy in creating an aesthetically pleasing profile in which others can gain inspiration from and I truly feel like my silly little Instagram page is an important part of my artistic side.


The Disappearance (dun dun DUN)

I had woken up and started my morning bed ritual of checking emails and social media, but my Instagram had logged me out for some reason. I tried to log back in, but the password didn’t work. I tried one more time, and a dreadful screen popped up: ‘Instagram User Not Found’. Not found?? I quickly discovered my page wasn’t ‘disabled’, there was no ‘glitch’, my internet connection was fine and there was nothing trending on Twitter about Instagram crashing. No, my friends, my Instagram page had simply disappeared.

After the initial shock wore off, I desperately Googled my dilemma looking for an answer. The search results on the first page were filled with horror stories: “The Day I Vanished From Instagram”, “I had 100,000 followers and Instagram deleted my account”, “I never gained back control of my deleted Instagram profile”. I confidently knew I had not been hacked. I have 2-step authentication turned on and my password would have been impossible to guess. So what then?? What had happened??

I Really Must Have Made Instagram Angry

I knew almost immediately why my account was gone. I had pissed off Instagram.

The day before, I Googled “how to get rid of Instagram ads on your feed” because I felt like it was ALL I was seeing anymore. Every 3 or 4 posts was an advertisement for something that I couldn’t care less about or a picture of someone I already followed! The first link I clicked gave the following advice:

“Every time you see an Instagram ad, click “hide it” and choose a random reason. Soon you’ll find your ads slowing down, and to this day, I couldn’t find one Instagram ad on my newsfeed if you paid me! Mission accomplished!”

So I followed that blogger’s advice. All day. For a full day. Every ad I scrolled past, I hid. Every single one. And within 24 hours, my account had been completely erased. Coincidence? I can’t prove this was the reason, but I am 100% certain in my gut that’s what it was. As my sister eloquently said: “OBVIOUSLY! You do NOT mess with Facebook/Instagram’s revenue stream.”

How I Got it Back

Finally, after sobbing to the select few in my life that I knew would understand the pain of losing my account, I decided to check Reddit. Reddit hackers are known for providing incredible information and ideas to solve technological issues, and lo and behold, I finally found a user that was able to help me.

His advice was to:

  1. Go to Instagram ON YOUR COMPUTER. Don’t use your phone.
  2. Hit “Forgot Password”
  3. Type in the email you are used to using to reset password.
  4. Try this up to 3 times if it doesn’t work.
  5. Once you get an email notification, follow the instructions to hopefully reactive your account.

It did actually take 3 times, but I finally got it back up! My pictures slowly but surely returned, and every person I have ever tagged in a photo got a notification from me (oops sorry). I never received any responses from the Instagram or Facebook help pages I desperately reached out to but I looked lovingly into my phone and promised my Instagram I would never take advantage of it again. No more complaining about ads.

All jokes aside, this experience left me completely perplexed about the power that social media channels have. Throughout the experience, I could not discover ONE way to contact Instagram support that didn’t include me waiting for a response whenever they felt like it. Facebook offered zero help as well. No phone number, no live chat, and an email address help line that felt like a losing battle. Should we not demand that these apps provide us support if we need it? How many pictures and memories would you lose if your profile shut down tomorrow? How many connections and friendships live in these social media sites?

My advice to you: back up your photos, don’t hide ads, and obviously go open your IG account now and follow me @JesiPepperminting because I’M BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER BABY.

I’m Back! And I Moved to New York City!

Hi,Pepperminters! I’M BACK! Did you miss me?! 🙂

The Past

When I first started a blog back three years ago, my goal was to share my ideas about food, fitness, fashion and frugality in the amazing city of Chicago. My little sister and I came up with the name “Pepperminting” to describe that best friend phenomenon in which we knew precisely what the other one was saying/thinking, and I was off! I have made lifelong friends through this blog, experienced amazing restaurants, and collaborated with incredible companies. My experience as a Chicago blogger was a fabulous one and I was sad to see it go.

The Present

I went through a lot of life changes this past year, some of which I’ll share on the blog when I’m ready; most, I’ll keep to myself. But throughout my 30th year of life, I’ve learned SO much and truly found happiness with my family and loved ones that have helped me in rough times and celebrated in good times! I decided to move back home to Cleveland for the summer to stay with my family and it has been a wonderful two months.

But my time in Cleveland has [temporarily] come to an end and now, comes the big news….


Brave Girls

The Future

The future is bright, ya’ll! I’m officially moving to New York next week and I couldn’t be more excited. The first question people ask it “what part of New York are you moving to?” Guys. I’m moving to Manhattan. Like, the REAL real New York City. The actual NYC you see in Sex and the City or Elf! Big buildings, crazy rent… THAT New York! I know, I can’t believe it either.

I got an AMAZING teaching job and a beautiful apartment a mere one block away from each other – how about that commute, eh? I’ll be living and working in a neighborhood called Kips Bay (see below). It’s a great area for someone new to the city since it’s in the heart of the ‘grid’ system and I should be able to find my way home from pretty much anywhere in Manhattan!

So, most importantly, what does this mean for Pepperminting??

I’ll be making some important and exciting changes to this new adventure with my blog! I’ll cover the following categories 2-3 times per week:

  • Food
    • Places to eat on a budget in New York City
    • Restaurants with fun/unique ambiance and food throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn
    • Delicious, healthy recipes you can make easily in an apartment or home
  • Fitness
    • Trying out new fitness trends in The Big Apple
    • How to live a healthy lifestyle in creative ways without breaking the bank
  • Fashion
    • OOTDs/OOTNs while in New York City!
    • Maintaining a stylish and cost-effective wardrobe in one of the most expensive and fashionable cities in the world

I will also include tips on my first year in Manhattan as a midwestern girl. How will I creatively stay fit, fashionable and fabulous on a budget? I already have some ideas in the works, so stay tuned!

Thank you for all of your support in the past, I can’t wait for you guys to see new content in the future! Join me on my journey to New York City this fall. See you there! 🙂

<3 Jesi

See Chicago through a Mercury Urban Adventure Cruise

See Chicago through a Mercury Urban Adventure Cruise

As you all know by now, Chicago has been home for some years and I consider it home. The traffic can drive me crazy and I’ve gained about 10 pounds eating way too much pizza, but it has such a special place in my heart and I love trying out unique experiences here!img_0011

One special way to see the city of Chicago through a new lens is on a Mercury Skyline Cruise right down the Chicago River to Lake Michigan. I went on this scenic boat tour and enjoyed it SO MUCH I wanted to share with you!img_0133img_0144

The detail I loved most about the Mercury Skyline Cruise was the amazing guide that shared his knowledge about the city, the skyline’s history, and really cool tidbits of information about the architecture, famous Chicago characters, and significant events from the city’s past that made it what it is today. You truly appreciate Chicago so much more after hearing about the amazing trials and tribulations that the people have gone through the past 200 years, all while enjoying breathtaking views of the skyline.img_0099

There’s a cash bar aboard, and if you take the 6:15 pm cruise like I did, you’ll get a great show of the magnificent sunset, especially throughout the summer season! I seriously forgot I was in Chicago for a minute. img_0158

Hurry and reserve your tickets today, these cruises only go through October 10th, and what a neat way to wave goodbye to summer this weekend with friends & loved ones!img_0185

Mercury Cruises
Departing Daily
April 29 – October 10, 2016
10:15 am, 12:15 pm, 2:15 pm, 4:15 pm, 6:15 pm

Things to do in Chicago: Chicago Pizza Tour – try 4 different city pizzas in one afternoon!

Things to do in Chicago: Chicago Pizza Tour – try 4 different city pizzas in one afternoon!

I love blogging about unique activities to try out, and how could I call myself a true Chicago chick if I didn’t work to try every amazing pizza place in the city?! Trying out new pizza places is tough for a few reasons. a) Although ironic, pizza can actually be pretty pricey in the city. Especially deep dish, which will run you on average 30 bucks. That’s a lot to “dish” out when there’s over 2200 pizza places in the Chicago area (yup, that’s true, I learned it on my tour!) b) Pizza can take 45 minutes to an hour to bake, so if you decide to try out a new place, it’s a pretty big time commitment. That’s where Chicago Pizza Tours comes into play.Flo & Santos

Chicago Pizza Tours offers various tours de pizza all over Chicago as a cool daytime or nighttime 3-hour tour via pizzabus!  So in the time span you would normally visit one pizza shop, you get to try 4-5 different slices, all while gaining some Chicago and pizza trivia from your knowledgable tour guide.

Pequod's pan pizza
Pequod’s pan pizzaIMG_0080

The tour costs $60, but again, offers a great value for the amount of pizza you get, coupled with a unique experience. You can even do a pizza and cocktails tour for $80, which sounds completely awesome. Who doesn’t love a beer with their slice?

Coalfire Pizza
Coalfire white pizza
Coalfire honey salami pizza
Coalfire honey salami pizza

The stops the tour makes differ depending on the time and day. During our tour, we visited: Pizano’s, Coalfire, Pequod’s, and Flo & Santos. Every piece was so uniquely delicious, I can’t pick a favorite. But I will say, Coalfire’s thin-crust high-temp cooked pizza was baked to absolute perfection. I can’t wait to go back!

Flo & Santos Smores Pizza
Flo & Santos Smores Pizza

Chicago Pizza Tours
27 N Upper Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606

Unique Chicago Desserts to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Unique Chicago Desserts to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Although I’d like to think I eat healthy 90% of the time, there’s always room for dessert, and Chicago is a fantastic city to help you satisfy your sweet tooth! This summer, I’ve chowed down on some of the most unique and delicious post-meal sweets and now I’m here to share them with you. If you’re visiting the city or live here long-term, save up your cheat calories and try out these tasty Chicago treats!

5) Amorino Flower Gelato

Flower gelator at Amorino
Flower gelato cone at Amorino

Chicago recently acquired two new Amorino gelato stores and their signature flower cone makes you feel so elegant… before you devour it in two bites because this stuff melts crazy fast! You can add an adorable and tasty macaron in the middle to class it up even more.

Amorino Chicago
838 N State St, Chicago, IL 60610

4) Goddess & Grocer Rainbow Cake

Goddess and Grocer Rainbow Cake
Goddess and Grocer Rainbow Cake

My rainbow cake Instagram picture has been re-grammed a dozen times because it just looks so darn beautiful! This cake is truly a masterpiece, and you can grab a slice at any of their locations. Mmmm taste the rainbow.

Goddess and Grocer
1649 N. Damen Ave
Chicago, Illinois 60647

3) SteakBar De-Constructed Banana Split

SteakBar deconstructed banana split

Oh MAN was this sundae a joy to eat! It comes on an enormous platter: ice cream, banana slices, toppings, caramel sauce… you name it, you get it. Oh, and there’s a sparkler on top in case you already feel like this dessert isn’t a party.

1500 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60610

2) Firecakes Ice Cream Donut Sandwich (and vanilla glazed)

Ok, Firecakes Donuts gets two pictures because I couldn’t decide which I enjoyed more! The ice cream donut sandwich is literally a donut cut in half stuffed with vanilla ice cream and topped with fudge. Why haven’t we thought of this sooner?? The second place at Firecakes goes to their vanilla glazed donut. Oh my goodness is this thing delicious. Not too sweet, but perfect enough to wake you up in the morning!Ice cream sandwich IMG_0085Firecakes Donuts
2453 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60614

1) Hugo’s Frog Bar Chocolate Mousse Pie

Hugo's Frog Bar chocolate mousse pie
Hugo’s Frog Bar chocolate mousse pie

My favorite unique Chicago dessert I tried this summer was the chocolate mousse pie at Hugo’s Frog Bar in the Gold Coast. GOODNESS was this thing worth the double workout the next day, or what?! The piece was as big as my head, and it was so unbelievably delectable and chocolate-y.. I could have eaten the whole thin if I wasn’t there with some fabulous friend, I’m just sayin’. Hugo's Frog Bar

Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House
024 N Rush St, Chicago, IL 60611

What unique desserts have you tried in the Windy City??

A Paris-Themed Wedding Shower

A Paris-Themed Wedding Shower

My sister Angelina is getting married in just a few short weeks, and it was my honor to help throw her a fabulous bridal shower to celebrate. (Check out her chic Chicago bachelorette party details here!) She’s getting married in Québec, and has loved all things French since she was a little girl, so a Parisian-themed wedding shower was a no brainer. I worked diligently with my mom and the  to put together a beautiful French-inspired brunch party for 45 of Angelina’s closest friends and family.Paris themed wedding showerWe celebrated the shower at Market Beer in Rocky River, Ohio. Jill, the party planning manager, was absolutely fantastic to work with. Every request I had, she found a way to make it happen, and the rustic yet chic outdoor/indoor option was perfect for a summer party!


In order to stay with the Parisian theme, we decorated the space with elegant Martha Stewart tissue paper flowers, pink and white tablecloths, polka dot balloons, and feminine tulle bows for an extra pretty touch. The Chanel flower vases I made were so pretty in the sun! Grab my DIY instructions here!Chanel vaseI also found a few Eiffel Towers and my talented aunt painted beautiful French scenes on 4×6 cardstock, which I placed in double-sided IKEA frames. I also created an easy crepe paper curtain with kite string – it looked so beautiful and swayed in the breeze! My mom had a CD filled with instrumental French café music, so we played that over the loud speaker and it really set a great tone for the afternoon.

IMG_0163 IMG_0116Activities

I knew I wanted a unique shower – not just your typical “come, eat, and watch the bride open presents”. So I designed some ‘stations’ around the perimeter of the space for guests to take part in during their time with us! One area featured French lessons with Esther, a lovely tutor I found on Wyzant. She taught guests a few common French phrases, and also shared memories from her experiences in Paris.IMG_0071

Another table was meant for writing down your favorite date night idea for the newlyweds on popsicle sticks, as well as writing ‘flowers of love’ on cut outs and attaching them to a beautiful shadow box frame my mom and dad made with props from Michael’s!Write date nightIMG_0039

I purchased this pre-made PDF from Etsy filled with French-themed photobooth props, then printed them at Staples and glued skewers on the back. What a fun easy way to spice up people’s photos! And of course, there were tables set up for made-t0-order omelettes, pastries, and eggs benedict.IMG_0160My favorite station at the shower was the DIY Flower Crown workshop. I ordered $100 worth of baby’s breath, daisies, and carnations (I could have probably ordered half, FYI) from Costco, and provided flower wire, cutters, tape, and ribbon. Guests measured out how much wire they needed, then wrapped the flowers around as they like, to create beautiful crowns to wear during the party! The idea was a hit, and all the women in our lives walking around wearing gorgeous flower crowns really added to the French feel. 🙂 Look for a separate blog post next week!IMG_0073IMG_0029

Read about my experience at Flowers for Dreams’ flower crown workshop!


Near the end of the party, we made an announcement that if you wanted the bride to open your gift, head over to her sitting area and she would happily open it. If you did not care either way, you could continue to enjoy the party or head out. I was amazed by the amount of people who didn’t feel the need to see her open her gift! I think it speaks volumes to our patterns of bridal showers. If you’re looking for a more contemporary option, and to simply enjoy opening your gifts in the comfort of your home without feeling rushed, this is definitely an option. That way, guests who want to be there when you open it have the option to, and those who don’t can feel a little more free to stay or go.IMG_0010

What a beautiful day it turned out to be!

Stop & Smell the Vintage Roses | VIPme Dress Review

Stop & Smell the Vintage Roses | VIPme Dress Review

I can’t believe summer is coming to an end, but it was a beautiful few months filled with beautiful summery dresses! For my last farewell of these hot Chicago months and transition to fall, I’m sharing two pieces I received from the fabulous online clothing boutique, VIPme (be on the lookout for another post next week!).VIP ME VIP me close up

This vintage printed short sleeve midi dress is too cute for words. It comes with a matching belt that provides a beautiful hourglass shape, perfect for that vintage look I was going for.Vip Me Dress

Although it has two layers for volume, this A-line dress is 100% cotton, so it breathes wonderfully even on a hot day. I can see myself wearing this to a day party, the park, or a bridal shower, and accessorize with a hat or cute clutch. VIPme has tons of adorable and unique dresses just like this; I love having pieces that I know not many other people own!VIP MeIf you like this adorable vintage dress, you can find it and hundreds more over at VIPme.com. Their website is really user-friendly, and they offer almost every style you can think of at an affordable price. They also offer free shipping promotions, so enter your email for special offers! Don’t forget to use promo code SIJessica99 for $5 off your first order of $50! Here are a few more vintage pieces that I’m looking forward to snagging in my next order.. 🙂
VIP Me Dresses

SISTER TIP: You can download the VIPme IOS app to bring even more brands into your pocket!

How are you styling your transition to fall??

Unique outdoor experience with Kayak Chicago

Unique outdoor experience with Kayak Chicago

I’m always up for trying new things, especially in my city of Chicago, and especially when it’s warm outside! Kayak Chicago let me try out their architectural kayaking tour down the Chicago River, and it was such a cool and unique experience for tourists and local Chicagoans alike. Kayak Chicago

We had a group of 8 and we met off North Avenue for easy access to the Chicago River. Our South African guide, Bruno, was fantastic! He had really interesting bits of information to share about Chicago history and architecture, and took some time to show us the best method for kayaking (and, more importantly, how to quickly get out of the way of boats). You could tell he was very passionate about the city of Chicago, which made us all excited to learn more about where we call home.

Kayak Chicago
Kayak Chicago

I’ve tried kayaking before, but only in short spurts. I gotta say, the 3-hour kayak roundtrip was pretty intense! Get a good night’s rest and eat a solid breakfast for this outdoorsy trip and you’ll be good to go. I recommend wearing loose athletic gear and bring plenty of water. A bathing suit isn’t necessary but make sure to bring a Ziploc bag to store your phone in case water splashes in from the paddle. I wore sandals and took them off for the trip and that worked perfectly.

Chicago Merchandise Mart - it used to have its own zip code it's so large!
Chicago Merchandise Mart – it used to have its own zip code it’s so large!Kayak ChicagoThe most fun part of my afternoon with Kayak Chicago was the ability to view the city from a completely new perspective. I mean, look at these incredible pictures!!Kayak Chicago


I have a newfound appreciation for the Chicago River, as well as the incredible history that went into creating The Second City, aptly named after a famous rebuild following the great Chicago fire.Kayak ChicagoKayak Chicago

Overall, Kayak Chicago, which offers day tours as well as sunset firework tours, was a fantastic experience and I would recommend it to anyone looking to do something unique and athletic in the city. The cost is around $70, but always check the website for specials. Hurry, you only have about a little more time to take advantage of this beautiful weather!

My fantastic guide, Bruno!
My fantastic guide, Bruno!

Kayak Chicago
(312) 8-kayak-8 / (312) 852-9258
1220 W. LeMoyne ave Chicago, IL

The Most Beautiful Place in Illinois: Baha’i House of Worship (and less than an hour away from Chicago!)

The Most Beautiful Place in Illinois: Baha’i House of Worship (and less than an hour away from Chicago!)

I’m always up for a fantastic day trip, especially during the summer season when I’m off work. Scrolling through Facebook, I found an article that listed the most beautiful sights in each of the 50 states. Illinois’ most beautiful place was named the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette; about an hour outside the city down Lakeshore, and a mere 15 minutes from Evanston. So, I hopped in my car and went on an adventure!Bahai Temple of WorshipI am so glad I took the time to visit this architectural dream. The Baha’i faith, as I learned from the very informative Welcome Center, was founded in 19th century Persia, and believes in unifying the human race and society.Bahai Temple of WorshipThis is the only temple of its kind in North America, and the beauty of the building and the grounds is absolutely breathtaking. It is a quiet, serene place to gather your thoughts, attend a service, or simply marvel at the detail needed to create the house of worship. You can go inside, but they ask not to take pictures.Bahai Garden

At night, the temple is lit up beautifully, but during the day, the gardens were gorgeous and the windows let in the summer light. This temple is definitely worth the short drive from Chicago or the suburbs! I haven’t seen all of Illinois, but I can’t argue that this sight was one of the most beautiful I’ve seen while living here.Bahai Temple of WorshipBaha’i House of Worship
100 Linden Ave., At Sheridan Rd., Wilmette, IL