Category Archives: Chicago

Chicago Day 8: Public Art

I’m linked up today and for the rest of the month in the 31 Days Challenge at The Nester. By clicking the tab at the top of the page, you can easily access all of the 31 Days in Chicago posts. If you’ve got a story to tell about your experiences in Chicago, I welcome guest posts. Join the fun by emailing me, or if you’re not ready to write, go to The Nester’s web site to follow some other stories this month.

Chicago is well-known for its public art.

You have probably all seen Cloud Gate, our “bean” in Grant Park.

You probably have also wondered about our Picasso.

You may have even seen the Batcolumn.

But have you seen Carpet by Ellen Harvey (2007), a mosaic of hand-cut marble? I used to ride the CTA from this station, but I’ve never seen this amazing piece of art work.

If you’re a visitor to town or a staycationer, an exploration of the Chicago Public Art Program website might be in order. We are surrounded by art and it enriches our daily lives in sweet home, Chicago.

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Chicago Day 6: Got Culture?

I’m linked up today and for the rest of the month in the 31 Days Challenge at The Nester. By clicking the tab at the top of the page, you can easily access all of the 31 Days in Chicago posts. If you’ve got a story to tell about your experiences in Chicago, I welcome guest posts. Join the fun by emailing me, or if you’re not ready to write, go to The Nester’s web site to follow some other stories this month.

There’s a lot going on in Chicago this month; we’re celebrating Illinois Arts and Humanities Month.

Looking for something different to do? Are you a local or a visitor? Either way, these offerings are just a sampling of what’s available in Chicago’s diverse cultural community. After all, we are the home of at least thirty colleges and universities, including world-renowned Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Unnatural Spaces: A Performance and Conversation

Sunday, October 14 – 7:00 PM – Hairpin Arts Center (2800 North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago)

Pink Slime. Bullets. Parking meters. Lead poisoning. Exes. Asbestos. Trash and trash talking. Poetry meets the stage in Unnatural Spaces- a fast-paced, often-funny look at the environmental choices we all make to eat, look beautiful, get around, stay on budget, and make it through the day. Join us for this one-night only free performance of Unnatural Spaces followed by a post-show conversation on environmental justice with Anne Evens of the Center for Neighborhood Technology, Martin Macias Jr. of Radio Arte and Chicago Fair Trade, and others. Limited seats available. Make your reservation now.

Art, Culture, and Struggle: Exploring Possibility and Imagination

Thursday, October 25 – 7:00 PM – Jane Addams Hull-House Museum (800 South Halsted Street, Chicago)

Join artists Josh MacPhee and Ivan Arenas for a conversation exploring the connections (and disjunctures) between art, culture, and struggle. MacPhee, a Brooklyn-based street artist, designer and activist, will present a slideshow based on the content of the newly released “Signal: A Journal of International Political Graphics.” Arenas, a Mexican-American scholar whose work focuses on the relationship between urban spaces and political subjects, will share insights from his work as an artist and scholar in Oaxaca, Mexico. Together we will explore the complex ways that art and cultural production affects our communities and our struggles for equality and justice.

Thanks to my friend Michele for participating in the “guest post” program; you can read her interesting account of traveling in Ireland here. Michele is a professor at Northeastern Illinois University and also does career counseling for students at the College of Lake County.

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Chicago Day 5: We Are Activists

I’m linked up today and for the rest of the month in the 31 Days Challenge at The Nester. By clicking the tab at the top of the page, you can easily access all of the 31 Days in Chicago posts. If you’ve got a story to tell about your experiences in Chicago, I welcome guest posts. Join the fun by emailing me, or if you’re not ready to write, go to The Nester’s web site to follow some other stories this month.

Whether or not we always agree with each other, in Chicago we care and we show it by our actions.

Obviously, these photos are just a small representation of the thriving community that is Chicagoland. I love living here.

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Chicago Day 4: Our Skyline Rocks!

I’m linked up today and for the rest of the month in the 31 Days Challenge at The Nester. By clicking the tab at the top of the page, you can easily access all of the 31 Days in Chicago posts. If you’ve got a story to tell about your experiences in Chicago, I welcome guest posts. Join the fun by emailing me, or if you’re not ready to write, go to The Nester’s web site to follow some other stories this month.

What is the first image that comes to mind when you think about Chicago?

Our beautiful skyline, right? You already saw it from the lakefront on my Day 2  post. This photo is taken from our stunning Grant Park (but more about our fabulous parks another day).

Even when it’s raining and with the rain comes the inevitable traffic slowdown, that skyline is still a beautiful sight.

When we’re coming west from points east, the minute we know that skyline’s up ahead, the energy in the car changes. It’s a buzz every time.

We’re back in the game.

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Chicago Day 3: Bike Trails

I’m linked up today and for the rest of the month in the 31 Days Challenge at The Nester. By clicking the tab at the top of the page, you can easily access all of the 31 Days in Chicago posts. If you’ve got a story to tell about your experiences in Chicago, I welcome guest posts. Join the fun by emailing me, or if you’re not ready to write, go to The Nester’s web site to follow some other stories this month.

Chicagoland runs amok with bike trails and bicyclists.

We even have a Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council which promotes the use of bicycles for short trips and also works to encourage safety for bicyclists.

The Bike 2015 Plan is the City of Chicago’s vision to make bicycling an integral part of daily life in Chicago. The plan recommends projects, programs and policies for the next ten years to encourage use of this practical, non-polluting and affordable mode of transportation.

Chicago’s commitment to bicycling can be both a good and a bad thing.

I drove downtown from my suburban home last week and could scarcely drive safely on Milwaukee Avenue in the Wicker Park neighborhood among all of the bicyclists. This video shows an underpass that I travel through almost every time I am in the city. Frightening, isn’t it? (If you click into the video when it opens you can also see the commentary about the dangerous intersection.)

On the other hand, Chicago’s bike trails are safe (most of the time) and give the cyclist an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery that one can find on Chicago’s lakefront and in forest preserves all around the area. There are also many bike trails that were converted from abandoned railroad right-of-ways.

We biked the Des Plaines River Trail a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed the late afternoon warmth from the sun as the forest preserve began to cool down. I got myself all kitted out with my bike shorts on under my stretchy pants and my new breathable helmet. Then I HAD to bring my camera bag, water, and purse things, so my basket was probably as heavy as my Trex bike! Still, it wasn’t very crowded and we had a wonderful bike ride.

But then I kept stopping to take photos. Music Man left me in his dust and went on to another part of the bike path while I reveled in the fun scenery.

The Chicagoland Bike Maps website shows the plethora of bike trips available around the Chicago area. No matter where you’re staying, there’s a bike path within easy reach, so bring your bikes to Chicago. Remember that it is a city and you will need to protect your valuable investment. Bike Chicago also rents bicycles (and does Segway tours as well as bike tours) and has four locations along the lakefront.

Biking in Chicago — it’s a good thing. :)

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Chicago Day 2: Boat Trips

I’m linked up today and for the rest of the month in the 31 Days Challenge at The Nester. By clicking the tab at the top of the page, you can easily access all of the 31 Days in Chicago posts. If you’ve got a story to tell about your experiences in Chicago, I welcome guest posts. Join the fun by emailing me, or if you’re not ready to write, go to The Nester’s web site to follow some other stories this month.

Despite its Midwest location, Chicago has several boat tour options that can jump start a vacation — or a staycation. We have a fabulous skyline when seen from Lake Michigan, and the architectural tours that go up the Chicago River are equally fun.

Chicago River Architecture Tour

The granddaddy of all the current tour operators is the Wendella Sightseeing Company. Started in 1935, Wendella’s dock at 400 N. Michigan Ave. is easily accessible for tourists as it is right by the piers of the Michigan Avenue bridge. Wendella operates a Chicago River Architecture tour, a combined Lake and River tour, and a Sunset Lake Cruise.

Shoreline Sightseeing is almost as old as Wendella (1939) and now departs from a convenient dock in the Navy Pier Gateway Park. I have also taken this cruise and their open  top deck held a lot of passengers without any impediments to the view. You don’t have to worry about which side of the boat you are on since you can see both sides from the deck, and their guides were very good.

A newer entry into the cruise tour market, Chicago Line Cruises uses a dock at 465 N. McClurg Court, about halfway between Shoreline and Wendella. As you can see from their trendy web site, they are doing a lot to entice customers to their cruises. I took both the river and lake tours recently and they were upbeat and informative.

There are also water taxis that operate from the train stations via the Chicago River, and then there’s the Seadog cruises. I’ve never done these cruises, but they look like fun for the adventurous. :)

For the more sedate among you, the Tall Ship Adventures ships also go out into Lake Michigan for various cruises. There are three docking locations along the lakefront including Navy Pier and at the museum campus. When I took this tour with family members, we were disappointed to find that although the sails were up, we were always motoring. Still, it’s a fun trip for children who have grown up with Pirates of the Caribbean.

Finally, for the romantics among you, dinner cruises are available on the Spirit of Chicago, the Odyssey, and Mystic Blue. All three are beautiful large yachts with full dinner service, bars, and often dancing and music while you are out on the lake. For a couple of hours, you can pretend to be rich and party like a celebrity.

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Chicago Day 1: Sepia Restaurant

I’m linked up today and for the rest of the month in the 31 Days Challenge at The Nester. By clicking the tab at the top of the page, you can easily access all of the 31 Days in Chicago posts.

If you’ve got a story to tell about your experiences in Chicago, I welcome guest posts. Join the fun by emailing me, or if you’re not ready to write, go to The Nester’s web site to follow some other stories this month.

From its hidden-away front door to its sexy bathroom, Sepia is a treat for anyone who finds it. Every detail is important to the ambiance of this West Loop restaurant carved out of an old print shop. Its cocktails are creative and delicious and its wine cellar is carefully curated to match the menu. Even the coasters (which I desperately wanted to steal but didn’t) are thematic. Sepia is a total experience.

And the food speaks for itself. The Sepia menu is seasonal and inspired.

House made charcuterie selection

Carnaroli risotto, beets, walnuts, pecorino pecato, pickled lemon

Grilled albacore tuna, squid ink couscous, berbere spice

Halibut, sweet corn, fingerling potatoes, crispy onions, curry

Selection of three domestic cheeses

Our anniversary dessert — a nutella mousse

In addition to the beautiful main dining room, Sepia also has a private room available for rent. I took a photo through the door and even empty, it was stunning.

Sometimes I wonder if celebrity executive chefs (Iron Chef) actually are a part of the day-to-day operations of a restaurant, but it seems that Andrew Zimmerman really put his heart and soul into Sepia.

P.S. I’m still struggling with the gaucheness of taking photos in elegant restaurants, and we took these photos with my iPhone. I know they’re not perfect, but they didn’t cause the other people in the restaurant to roll their eyes at us.

October 2012 Challenge

I’ll be linking up with The Nester again this year for the 31 Days Challenge — and what better travel destination to choose than my own beloved city? I’ve combed through my archives and I have lots of beautiful Chicagoland sites to share with you, as well as a whole bunch of restaurants. Some will be new to you and some may be old favorites.

If you’d like to join me as a cheerleader for the home team, I’d love some guest posts about your experiences in our fair (but sometimes windy) city. Just email me — my link is in the contact box on the right. Just send me your photos and text, and I can format the post for you.

Last year I just about killed myself with magazine-style articles about places in Europe that we visited. I’m hoping to keep this year’s posts shorter, with lots of photography. You know that I love a challenge; I think I’m ready to introduce you to my Sweet Home Chicago. See you Monday!

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Flower Stories: Bridal Veil Spirea

Today would have been my father’s 89th birthday — 05/11/23. He loved plants of all kinds, but he especially loved flowering bushes and perennials. Happy birthday, Daddy.

I wait somewhat impatiently every year for the bridal veil spirea to bloom. It’s not actually in my yard; the roots are in the garden of the abandoned house next door.

We had a punishing rain last weekend and lost some of the fresh glory of the blossoms, but most survived. This post makes me realize that I need to plant my own spirea on my side of the fence, because when the bulldozer comes, I’ll lose all of this beauty.

I do my best to honor Oksana’s memory and to take care of her garden; it’s time to go to the nursery again in honor of my Dad and Oksana.

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Flower Stories: First Peonies

Peonies are synonymous with Dad in my family. My dad became enamored with peonies and soon we had every variety he could find. We visited peony farms and he got them through mail order. You can imagine my happiness when our new house had mature peonies already planted — and we also brought some from our old house that have traveled from Dad’s garden through several houses with me in the Chicagoland area.

What’s not to like about peonies? They are dependable and gorgeous — the perfect companion to May’s beautiful days. We always used to expect our peonies to open just before Memorial Day, and took armloads of them to decorate the family graves at the cemeteries. This crazy early spring, while welcome, is wreaking havoc on the normal plant cycles in our area.

Remembering that I just got a new camera and have mostly used the automatic settings, I tried to take a photo of the peony in my cobalt blue vase against the outside door. This one’s not bad, but there were lots of others that were. :) I’m loving the challenge of creating a new artistic expression in my life.

I’m also loving that my husband came home from the store with a bouquet of white roses and alstroemeria, our wedding flower. Insert double smiley face here. :) :)

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