Tag Archives: Ukrainian Village

Enjoy the silence?

The hubs and I have spent the past three weeks packing, cleaning and unpacking.

*sigh*

Aside from two or three boxes, tiny piles of things I haven’t found a home for, and bare windows, we’re semi-settled into our new apartment in Logan Square. So, that explains the radio silence. In case you were worried.

Oh, the silence! I can’t believe how quiet it is in Logan Square—at least where we are, a few blocks away from the square.

Tree-lined streets can be such a drag.

The thing is, having lived at Damen and Augusta for two years, the lack of street noise, sirens, bus announcers, gas-station fights, crazy people and hip drunk kids is disorienting. It sounds weird, but the noise is partially what made our old place feel like home. It became part of the ambiance in the same way that the exposed brick or skylight did.  I didn’t notice the noise until guests pointed it out. It was just part of our own corner of the city.

So now, we live in a residential area. I know…I say that like it’s a bad thing. Most city folk would kill for more quiet and a couple trees. But aside from the faint hum of the Blue Line three blocks away and a very public custody dispute across the street, you can hear a pin drop. Which has made our presence quite known to our neighbors in the building. Yep, we received two noise complaints via the landlord within our first two days here. We’re party animals when we move. I have a theory it’s an owner vs. renter issue though. More on that later.

I’m sure I’ll really like Logan Square once we get settled and feel better acquainted with the hood. There’s a sense of community that I haven’t noticed in any other neighborhood I’ve lived in.Walking home from the train station this evening, some guys were playing guitars on their front stoop and two adorable girls riding Razor scooters stopped to say hello. Right then, I knew I was almost home.

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Filed under Chicago, city life, neighborhoods

I have a new boyfriend

Ukrainian Village has been good to me. He’s been fun, loyal and loving.  Still, I’m moving on.

We’re moving to Logan Square next month.

Ukie, don’t cry. You’re great. It’s not you, it’s me. I feel like we’ve been growing apart the past few months. And it just sort of…happened with Logan Square. He charmed me with his bigger, less-expensive apartments, hip restaurants and tree-lined boulevards. Can we still be friends?

In all seriousness, the decision to move to Logan Square happened in an act of passion. I’m a little sad to move. While there are certainly issues motivating me to pack up and go, we adore Ukrainian Village and certain features of our current apartment.

Things I’ll miss about Ukrainian Village:

Being close, yet pleasantly removed, from the action of Wicker Park

My fave wine and flower shop, A. Vision

Lovely neighborhood joints. There are too many to name, but faves include Happy Village (for its lovely outdoor patio) and Kasia’s (for its ridiculously delicious Polish delights)

Being within walking distance of a grocery store

And of course, the view from the roofdeck of my current building

I could go on forever. I haven’t even mentioned my one-bus commute, Sunrise Cafe, Jam, Black Dog Gelato, Club Foot or Chick Pea. I will miss.

Moving is annoying, but a part of the urban experience. I wouldn’t have been opposed to staying in Ukrainian Village. We just kept our options open when looking for places and the winning apartment happened in Logan Square. But it’s fun discovering new restaurants, shops and bars. I’m excited.

I’ll still hang out with Ukrainian Village. After all, I’m still on friendly terms with my old boyfriend Lakeview. We meet up every so often for dinner, a movie or coffee. Since Ukie and I are parting on amicable terms, I have a feeling that we’ll do a better job staying in touch.

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Filed under Chicago, city life, neighborhoods

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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Filed under attractions, Chicago, city life, culture, food

Pour some sugar on my doorstep

This scene greeted me at my doorstep early last week. Perhaps someone is trying to drop me a hint that I need to be more boisterous or energetic? Probably not.

Two sugar packets and a giant McDonald's soda

Umm…thanks?

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Filed under city life, neighborhoods, Weird

Oh…!

There are so many exciting things going on around me that I want to tell the internets about, but I have to wait. It’s killing me.

Right now, I will distract with something that has been on my mind. An internet version of hold music, if you will.

Let’s talk about this lil’ piece of graffiti that’s made an appearance all around West Town, Ukrainian Village and Wicker Park:

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I feel silly asking this, but does anyone know:

1) What it means?

2) Who it’s coming from?

3) Am I dense for not knowing?

4) Why it hasn’t been subject to:

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Mayor Dailey's Graffiti Busters

Please someone Nancy Drew this mystery for me.

K. Thanks.

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Filed under Chicago, city life, culture, neighborhoods, Ukrainian Village, Weird, Wicker Park

So, three nuns walk into a bar…

Or down the street….stop me if you’ve heard this one. 

Just three nuns strolling the streets of Ukrainian Village.

This greeting card-esque image stopped me dead in my tracks for some reason. Probably because I typically assume I’m surrounded by more sinners than saints.

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Filed under Chicago, city life, neighborhoods, Ukrainian Village

Pump up the Jam

I spent many of my childhood and teenage years living in a small town where it takes 15 minutes to get anywhere. My hometown has all the staples—bank, post office, hardware store, food mart, liquor store and a motorcycle bar—but if you want anything beyond what these establishments offer, it’s a short little trip.

As a result, one of the things I fell in love with about city living is being able to walk outside my front door and having everything I need within a two block radius—morning coffee, tacos at 2 am, a smooth bottle of wine, groceries on the way home or another friendly face. It’s all right here.

Then, there’s the thrill that comes when a new place opens in your neighborhood. A few weeks ago, I spied a sign above a storefront across the street that read “Jam.” Every few days, I’d walk by and try to assess the restaurant’s progress, only to find:

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I assumed Jam would be a lot like the other little tasty breakfast houses in the neighborhood, like Sunrise Cafe or Janik’s. A forwarded e-mail from Urban Daddy, which my coworker Steve Kakos aptly calls “Daily Candy for men,” explained that the owner of Jam also owns neighborhood favorite Chickpea and its head chef is a North Pond and Charlie Trotter’s alumnus. And it happened to mention that Jam would open Thursday, July 16.

I made Joe get up that morning, and in true stalker fashion, we arrived 15 minutes after Jam opened. Only to find out that it wasn’t open. The chef (or who I assumed to be the chef) seemed noticeably disappointed as he explained that they hadn’t gotten their license in time, and they’d open tomorrow instead. Joe and I went to Sunrise Cafe and still enjoyed a pleasant breakfast before work.

When Joe suggested that we go the following morning, of course I agreed. And I was delighted by the results.

Oh hi. It's tiny but pretty inside Jam. I particularly adored the grey inside the white molding and these delicate little wall fixtures.

Oh hi. Jam is tiny but pretty inside. I particularly adored the gray within the white molding and the delicate little light fixtures that made the brocade pattern dance.

If you've ever talked to me in the morning, you know coffee is a must. But this little blueberry muffin with sweet sage cream was a pleasant surprise.

If you've ever talked to me in the morning, you know coffee is a must. But this little cherry muffin with sweet sage cream was a pleasant surprise.

I don't even really like French toast. I prefer savory breakfasts. However, this malted custard French toast served with homemade jam (of course) was to die for.

I usually have lukewarm feelings toward French toast. However, I am in love with the malted custard French toast served with homemade jam (of course). And its presentation was so lovely, I was moved to photograph it with my real camera. I hope Megan Boley approves.

Joe ordered steak and eggs. The steak was perfectly pink and the grits with corn providing a bed for the poached eggs were insane.

Joe ordered steak and eggs. The steak was perfectly pink and the grits with corn that provided a bed for the poached eggs were like no grits I've ever tasted. Absolutely incredible.

After our meal, the chef came by to tell see how everything was, and I was a little embarrassed that he’d remembered us stalking the day before. He promised that everything would be a little tighter next week. Although a few things were missing from the menu that morning, it didn’t keep my belly from being happy. And it won’t deter me from coming back. I’m especially looking forward to the garden seating, midnight brunches and homemade Bloody Mary mix that are in the works (Jam is BYO).

Hit the ATM before you come though. It’s cash only, kids.

Anyone want to go to brunch? 🙂

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Filed under Chicago, city life, Damen Avenue, food, Ukrainian Village