Sunday, November 22, 2015

First Snow Day!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Ever since I was old enough to drive, I've loved events. I remember going to see bands with my friends, I remember getting together with them at coffee shops or bookstores, and I remember being fascinated by offbeat events like Diner en Blanc pop-up picnic and Royal de Luxe street theater (which is rumored to be coming to Chicago in summer of 2016!). I think I've always been drawn to events because they bring people together, much like my other loves: learning foreign languages, food and wine, and even writing and photographing (which can connect people when they are not together). Of course, holidays are like that as well.

I love this time of year because it brings families and friends together. Just this week, we've been to an elegant fundraising event for Greyhound Alliance. It was a cocktail reception that took place in The Walnut Room, a restaurant inside of Macy's in downtown Chicago. The building used to be a department store called Marshall Field's (he is the one that donated to funds to build The Field Museum's current building - cheers!). It was a lovely setting. I had just come from work and although I was running late, when my Uber dropped me off outside of the building, there was a stark chill in the area and yet, I had to stop to admire the Macy's trumpets on the side of the building. For a brief moment, I felt like I was in Manhattan, which feels like home. I shook off my nostalgia and when I entered the restaurant, in the middle of the room was a Christmas tree, already decorated, raising up multiple stories. After the event, our new friends invited along to dinner in downtown Chicago. It was a meal of shared plates and great food (I'm talking goat cheese, grilled octopus, smoked  salmon, and even morcilla).

A few days later, we met up with the Greyhound Alliance for a play date! They use a space in the suburbs and a bunch  of greyhounds come. We've been once before, and this time, it was snowing! Many of the dogs stayed inside for most of the morning, but there were definitely a few romps in the snow.

Edited to add: It occurred to me that some of you may not know why they are all muzzled. When greyhounds race, though they aren't vicious, they could get excited and give a playful nip at their neighbor. For most dogs this is fine, but with greyhounds, they have really thin skin, and at 45 miles per hour, a tooth against skin could open up a huge gash. So during these play dates, to be safe, they request that all greyhounds were their muzzles.

After that, we took Mort to get a bath. We normally wash him in our bath tub, but two other greyhound groups, 4 Greyhounds and Leaving Tracks, were benefiting from the proceeds that day at a nearby dog store. After a cold play in the snow, he got a nice warm scrub, all clean for our Thanksgiving visitors. When he's all wrapped up in a blanket, I call him "Abuella Mort" because he's as sweet as an old Spanish grandma.

We knew Mort would be extra sleepy from his play date and a warm bath, so we played a movie on TV for him, and went outside to catch the rest of the snowfall. There's this diner about a 10 minutes walk away. It's right under the train station and it has booths next to the windows that overlook the bustling streets. S and I always said that it would be the perfect place for brunch on a rainy or snowy day. I put on my new snow boots from the Orlando outlet mall and we made the trek. It was so peaceful hearing the intermittent hum of the train above, seeing the snow fall outside, and enjoying the glistening lights from the wreaths and other holiday decorations.

On our way home from the diner, we walked through Wicker Park. S started the bottom of a snowman. Maybe someone finished him after we left.

Now, we're enjoying the snow on the ground and prepping for Thanksgiving ahead.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Weekend Recap: Donuts, Museums, Chicago Hot Dogs, and Water Taxi

Tuesday, November 17, 2015
We started the weekend with a walk to the train station, and just under our elevated train is a donut shop. We stopped in and grabbed two donuts, a lemon pistachio old fashioned, and a lemon curd. The lemon curd was delicious! Sometimes, filled donuts can be too sweet, but this was an incredible balance of sweet dough and the lemon filling was the perfect amount of tart.
↳From there we took the train downtown, and hopped off on State Street where the Thanksgiving Day parade will be (you can see the turkeys on the lamp posts). We saw some shops were already decorating for the holidays, and there were even some wreaths on the street signs. I can tell, this city is going to be gorgeous, even in below-zero degree weather.
↳We took a bus to Museum Campus and being that I get a discount at the hot dog stand, we stopped and S had his first Chicago style hot dog since moving here. I've been to the hot dog stand during my lunch break before and must say, I love the poppy seed bun. As you can see, the wind off the lake is having an effect on my hair. The wind is so intense this close to Lake Michigan!
↳We visited the Shedd Aquarium! Immediately upon walking up the stairs, all of the architectural details are ocean-themed! The lamps had lazy octopus' on top. The chandeliers had illustrations of various sea creatures illuminated by bulbs behind them. Love the squid and the sea horse!
↳There was a huge, circular Caribbean reef tank and a staff member was inside feeding the creatures. Pretty great job, yeah?
↳I loved seeing the beluga whales. They were just swimming freely in their tank. Some staff came over and fed them, rubbed their bellies, and the whales even played with a ball and other floating toys in the tank. They had the personalities of dogs!
↳One of the perks of working at a museum (besides complimentary admission to other city museums and discounts on Museum Campus food like hot dogs and Lake Michigan beach tacos) is a complimentary water taxi ride from Museum Campus to Navy Pier! The water taxi is run by Shoreline, and they also do an architecture river boat tour, which is one of the "touristy" things I did when I was visiting for my job interview. It was an amazing way to see the city and learn about the history! We caught one of the last water taxi rides of the season before they close up shop for the winter. And even though the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel is already torn down (in anticipation of a new one), the lighthouse on the lake and the sun setting behind the city skyline were great things to see.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Our Fair City: A Day Downtown

Friday, November 13, 2015
↳The view from the 96th floor of the Hancock building. You can pay to go to the 95th floor and look out from the observatory, which is a tilting glass window. Or, you can go to the lounge on the 96th floor and have a cocktail with your view.
↳It's obvious which we chose.
↳The clocks of the Marshall Field building, which is now a Macy's. I cannot wait to see this all decorated for the holidays. I'm a sucker for department store decorations. Mostly because growing up in New York, it's those decorations that help make me feel the holiday cheer. In Florida we don't get cold, we don't get fireplaces, and the department stores don't decorate like they do in New York.
↳The Architecture Biennial is going on in Chicago. Not only is the Cultural Center hosting an exhibition, but there are public architecture sculptures throughout the city.
↳Admission to the Cultural Center is free, so after breakfast with my dad when he was visiting, we popped in.
↳This display was a collection of abstract sculptures on a very small scale. If you look closely, you can see little white figures. It's meant to convey that the sculpture could be a huge installation for the community to enjoy in public spaces. There were other pieces made of staples, fibers, and other abstract form that would truly be incredible on a large scale.
↳The Cultural Center used to be the public library, and a lot of the building's architectural charm still exists, including a Tiffany glass dome in the reading room.
↳There was an exhibition inside of a small dark room composed of boxes, lights, and spider webs. It was pretty gorgeous and captivating.

In the past, I've done these "Our Fair City" posts for Orlando, Florida. Now that we live in Chicago, the tag will stay the same, it's just the setting that changes. The tag is a way for me to look back on the time that we explored our city.

My dad visited recently and we brought him to some Chicago institutions including:
  • •Big Star for tacos, micheladas, and mezcal margaritas in Wicker Park
  • •Small Cheval for the best cheeseburgers ever (I don't say this loosely) also in Wicker Park
  • •Garret's Popcorn for the caramel and cheese popcorn mix in The Loop
  • •Wasabi for ramen in Logan Square
  • •Wasabi is BYOB, so we took that opportunity to bring along some Chicago beer staples like Goose Island's 312 wheat and Off Color's Troublesome gose.
  • •Carriage House for southern comfort food (the best fried chicken on brioche) in Wicker Park 
  • •An Architecture Boat Tour downtown on the river
  • •And of course, he visited The Field Museum twice
We had breakfast together near his hotel before his flight, and since we were downtown, S and I decided to explore. We popped into the Chicago Cultural Center which is known for it's free admission and tours. We tagged along on the Architecture Biennial tour and then walked around downtown a little while the weather is still perfect.

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