I bought my medium cafe bag just in time to take my big academic conference for my field- aka Nerdapalooza '12-- In Chicago. What I wanted was a bag that would compact down in my suitcase (I carried a rolling-carry-on and large tote bag on the plane) and then do the job once I got to the conference center, so I bought a plum/wasabi bag.

This particular conference was a bit of a nightmare. We were in hotels up by the Miracle Mile and then had to take buses down to the monstrosity that is the conference center in Chicago (McCormick Place--it's so big and confusing and awful that many of my colleagues nick-named it the "Death Star.") This meant that once you left your hotel you were there for the day.

So I packed my Medium Cafe bag with this in mind. I took a picture, but had trouble sizing the file in this post, so I'll describe what was in it---an Ipad in a Timbuk2 case, my wallet, checkbook, small notebook. Some pens and pencils. Lip gloss, an Epi-Pen and a bottle of Tylenol, Tissues, hand-wipes, a hair brush, and a pair of earmuffs (yes earmuffs, a hat flattens my bangs, and I'll admit it- I'm vain.) A small green bag contained my knitting, (a sock in progress) and on one day, an umbrella. Along with all this I also stashed multiple snacks, my lipstick of the day and in the back pocket, the program book telling me where all the panels were.

The bag was solidly stuffed, (especially once the earmuffs went in) but it handled everything. It was also surprisingly light. I carried it around all day and ran around the Death-Star with no problems. I went with a friend to the Chicago Christmas parade, and despite being in a massive crowd pressed in with thousands of my closest friends, the bag did fine. It was perfect for my needs and I am so glad that I bought it. It is sturdy, and looked nice, but without screaming grad student (I'm a tenure track professor myself, but so young looking that I routinely get mistaken for one of my undergrads) and I didn't have to wrangle an unwieldy purse on my shoulder (I love expensive purses. But I find they don't work for conferences.)

So the MCB and I are now besties. It is my new go-to conference, day-hike with dog, travel and birdwatching bag. Its sturdy and handsome and can even handle having a large pair of faux-fur earmuffs stuffed in it and emerge with its dignity intact. Yay for the MCB!