Category Archives: attractions

Fountain zen

This is likely the last day before we endure winter’s wrath. Snow’s-a-coming. I took this as an excuse to wear short sleeves. And walk home from work.

Maybe it was the fresh air or the whimsical soundtrack in my headphones, but I couldn’t help but notice how gorgeous the fountain in Exelon Plaza is at night.

Taken at Chase Tower at Monroe and Dearborn, Chicago.


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Photo bombed at Buckingham Fountain

If you close your eyes, you can imagine you’re lounging in an Italian piazza when sitting in front of the Buckingham Fountain.

In my opinion, it’s one of the most gorgeous landmarks in the city. And no matter what my husband tells you, it was not donated by the British Royal Family.

I took my friend Lisa who was visiting from “SF” to the fountain this weekend. We waited a good twenty minutes to see the water show. And this was it. Apparently, Buckingham Fountain only gets sassy with its lights and water at nighttime. Take note. At least that gave enough time for Lisa to get a Chicago dog that failed to come with tomatoes.

Then, this Segway tour photo bombed our pics.

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Did someone say “free?”

Last Monday, I was reminded that summer + indie music + FREE = a serious crapload of people.

It was the first really warm evening of the summer. So, the husband, some pals and I went to the Iron + Wine show in Millennium Park, along with the rest of Chicagoans age 15-45.

Although Iron + Wine was great, we spent the majority of the time drinking wine (sans iron) and people watching. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen more people in one place. It was also a goldmine for I’m glad I didn’t wear my romper.

The most enjoyable/annoying part of the evening was watching hordes of people try to sweet talk the “security guard” into letting them jump over the gate in front of us to get in.

We decided since we really came to hang outside and chitchat, next time we’d see a jazz or orchestra performance. Or maybe we wouldn’t pick the biggest free show on the warmest day of the year.

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Food worth the hype

People in Chicago freak out when a new restaurant opens. It gets hyped for months, and once the restaurant opens, the wait is epic. Especially if the project is headed up by a major chef. Point in case: Grahamwich.

While other people were waiting in line for a $10 sandwich and a homemade soda, Joe and I finally decided to try a restaurant that’s been open a while but still has everyone freaking out—Kuma’s Corner. What’s the appeal? Put simply, metal, burgers and beer, a winning combination that has people waiting up to two hours for on the weekend.

We both took the day off to celebrate Joe’s 3oth birthday (read: old day) and figured the wait would be non-existant at 1:30 on a weekday.


The wait was still an hour. What amazed me is that this place is off the beaten path in Avondale, yet busier than any restaurant in Wicker Park or Lakeview during a weekday. Luckily, hovering around the bar paid off. We only waited 20 minutes before two of the first-come-first-serve bar stools became available.

Joe looking particularly wise as he embarks on another decade

Plethora of burgers. Not for the Vegan though, so it says on the menu.

With all the choices, Joe settled on the Metallica burger, which satisfied his love for buffalo sauce, bleu cheese and bacon. I had the Neurosis, piled high on a pretzel bun with swiss, cheddar, caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, horseradish mayo, lettuce, onion and tomato. It was also seasoned and cooked perfectly. Both burgers came with crispy waffle fries (chosen over salad, duh) and ketchup mixed with chili sauce. And since it happened to be on tap, we both ordered Three Floyds Gumballhead. Sheer delight.

And the metal music? Not typically my cup of tea, but made for a fun ambience. Do yourself a favor: go to Kuma’s corner if you haven’t already. The burger is worth the hour-long wait.


Filed under attractions, Chicago, food

Checked off the list: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home and Studio

If you read the most recent post, you know: I’m on a mission to knock items off my Chicago bucket list.

One activity I’ve been excited to cross off my list is the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park. I’ve been particularly itching to visit since reading the historical fiction Loving Frank, which chronicles the life of Wright’s mistress Mamah Cheney. My coworker and pal Liz also read the book, so we made a pact to spend the afternoon in Oak Park.

I hadn’t been to Oak Park in awhile, so I’d forgotten how quaint and adorable the suburb is. Its downtown is filled with specialty shops, cute restaurants and brick streets. The village’s center has a pristine, 1950s quality to it, and you get the sense that it has only experienced subtle modern changes over the years. The houses that line the serene streets are a beautiful melange of Victorian and prairie styles. And Oak Park’s close proximity to the city makes it even more attractive. Even though I’m not ready to fashion a suburban girl, I certainly don’t hate the idea of living there one day.

12:20pm was the time listed on our tickets to the tour of Wright’s Home and Studio. Liz and I rode the Green Line for the 45-minute trip west, and I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by the continuous transformation of the landscape. We arrived with enough to time to grab coffee before our tour. As we waited for the tour to begin, I discovered that I’d failed to bring my camera. Of course. Since interior photography wasn’t permitted anyway, iPhone was happy to take on the task. Let us be your unofficial tour guide.

Exterior of Frank Lloyd Wright's house, built in 1889

We learned that FLW’s Home and Studio was not built in his signature prairie style, but in shingle style. The thing that struck me about each room is that, as the mediocre tour guide noted, function and form were one in the same. It was evident that Wright thought long and hard about how each room would be used and then designed it accordingly. Now back to the exterior.

Entrance to the studio

Sculpture imitating Wright's logo of a cross within a circle within a square

After the tour, we hit up the gift shop and then made our way out. Feeling cultured and educated on the ways of prairie-style architecture, we ventured down Forest Avenue and gawked over the several FLW houses that flank the historic street.

Like this one

And this one.

I simply adore this light fixture.

This isn't a Wright house. It's Victorian. I simply loved how the architectural styles mingle amongst each other on the same street.

The entrance to a beautiful park we stumbled upon. For some reason, this reminded me of a fairy tale.

Liz and I capped off a perfectly lovely afternoon with a visit to her twin sister Megan’s apartment to see her gorgeous wedding dress, followed by a stop to the Marion Street Cheese Market.

Architecture + Good company + French triple cream. Capriole goat cheese. Delicious Garnacha.


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Unfinished business

My pal Randall Arthur Morris posted a link on Facebook a few weeks ago that made me think.

The link was to a project called Before I Die, and it surveys people across the country (and in India) about, you guessed it, what they want to do before they die. Written on Polaroids, the respondents’ answers are honest, heartbreaking, simple, and above all, human.

It’s a topic that’s been on my mind more and more as I approach 30: What the hell do I want to accomplish in life?

However, that’s probably a blog post no one wants to read. And one I’m not yet prepared to write.

Baby steps.

One thing that is apparent is that I want to soak up all that life has to offer: experiences, people, food and culture. That got me thinking about the things left to accomplish in Chicago. That’s much more manageable than thinking through all the things I want to accomplish fore I die. And in some ways, it’s the means to the ends. I’ve lived here four and a half years, and there’s still much left to accomplish. There just doesn’t seem to be enough weekends (or money) to get everything done.

My Chicago “Bucket List”

1. Eating my way through Devon Street

I’ll admit it. I haven’t spent one minute walking down Devon Street, let alone eating in the smorgasbord of dining establishments. I can only imagine all the delicious Indian food that I’m missing out on.

2. Writing class at Second City

Since I started writing this post, I’ve actually signed up for the class! Yay! Stay tuned for details.

3. Frank Lloyd Wright’s home

Architecture. Oak Park. They’re two things that go well together. There’s a great historical fictional called Loving Frank that inspired me to learn more about Frank Lloyd Wright, his vision and creative designs. Stay tuned for more on this one as well.

4. Green Mill

It’s embarrassing that I’ve not yet been to Green Mill. I used to share a cross street with the historical jazz establishment. And furthermore, I’ve had loose plans to check it out several times. Jazz fail.

5. Little Italy

Pasta and wine are two things I love dearly. It’s inexcusable that I haven’t ventured to the Chicago neighborhood that would enable me to gorge myself on these simultaneously.

6. Pitchfork Festival

Forget Lollapalooza. I really have no desire to spend an entire sweltering weekend with sweaty, drunk crowds. However, I need to experience Pitchfork and all the amazing music that comes with it. Someone please invite me to a show or pressure me into buying tickets. At least for one day of the shows.

7. Finding out what puts Ukrainian in Ukrainian Village

So, I’ve lived in this neighborhood for nearly two years. I love it. However, because nothing necessitates a need to explore further west than my street. So, I haven’t yet learned as to how the neighborhood became so unique and interesting.  There are many delis, churches and shops yet to explore.

8. St. Patty’s Day Parade

Even if you don’t care about St. Patrick’s Day or wearing green that one day of the year (which I don’t),  bearing the crowds to watch the Chicago River turn green seems like a rite of passage.

9. Hang out in Hyde Park

I’ll be honest. I don’t know much about Hyde Park, other than the University of Chicago and President Obama’s home away from the White House are located there. All the more reasons to check out the neighborhood.

10. Touring all the music venues

I’ve seen many live shows in Chicago, but there are several yet to step foot in. Like Double Door and the Aragon.

11. Running the Chicago Marathon

I always thought that only real runners run marathons. I’ve learned the truth though, that it’s mostly real people like me who set a goal to run the marathon and make it happen. I’ll be running the Chicago Marathon to raise funds for the American Liver Foundation on 10.10.10. I might be crazy.

12. Garfield Conservatory

This is a pretty place filled with botanical treasures. End of story.

13. Lyric Opera

I’ve only been to the opera once. It was a performance put on by alma mater, Indiana University, which is actually internationally renowned for its music program. However, I feel that I should experience a professional opera performance. Perhaps Macbeth or A Midsummer Night’s Dream? Is my husband reading this?

14. Adler Planetarium

It’s not that I am dying to study the stars and planets, it’s more that it’s the only major museum in Chicago that I haven’t yet visited. Family visits may be a good excuse to give this place a shot.

I’m sure that, wherever you live, there are probably things you haven’t done in your locale.

What’s on your to-do list? Or “bucket list?”


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Fancy ladies

Recently, I was invited to partake in a little tea party celebration at The Drake for my friend Emi, who recently got engaged. Prior to this invitation, The Drake intimidated me. Most likely due to the fact that it’s located on Michigan Avenue, right next to Chanel and Louis Vuitton. I thought The Drake was reserved for only fancy ladies. Well, if so, this was my chance to be one of those fancy ladies. Sans white gloves.

Hello, gorgeous. Not pictured is the delicate little fountain running below this enormous flower arrangement

Hello, gorgeous. Not pictured is the delicate little fountain running below this enormous flower arrangement.

The blushing bride-to-be, Emi with Alexandra. Two good ole IU gals.

The blushing bride-to-be, Emi with Alexandra. Two good ole IU gals.

A whole table of fancy ladies. Did I mention I took these photos with my non-3Gs iPhone?

A whole table of fancy ladies. Did I mention I took these photos with my non-3Gs iPhone?

A delightful spread of pastries and sandwiches. Notice the lack of bothersome crusts on the sandwiches.

A delightful spread of pastries and sandwiches. Notice the lack of bothersome crusts on the sandwiches. The swan cream puff also kills me.

Wild blueberry tea, thank you very much.

Wild blueberry tea, thank you very much.

As proof that I belong in the ranks of fancy ladies, “Fancy” by Reba McIntyre came on my shuffle as I was writing this. (Please don’t ask why “Fancy” is in my iTunes library in the first place.) Now, I need someone to have a birthday or get engaged STAT so I can have an excuse to be fancy again soon.

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