“Project Onward’s” Tree

“The mission of Project Onward is to support the creative growth of visual artists with mental and developmental disabilities.  Project Onward provides studio space, art supplies, and professional guidance to emerging artists in a communal workshop environment…”

Excerpt from “Mission” on pamphlet

"Project Onward" Tree, studio at Chicago Cultural Center

I left Preston-Bradley Hall after one of the Wednesday free concerts and I didn’t get far down the hallway; my eye was drawn to this tree.  Decorated with hand-painted ornaments, it was such an artistic sight!  I’m going back Friday to pick up a couple of ornaments I’d put aside and I’ll post more photos then.

In the meantime, check out Project Onward . If you want unique hand-painted gifts, I say, these qualify!

It’s a great program!

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A Week of Chicago Eats

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

FAVORITE Chicago pizza, Giordano’s ~

Stuffed!

Admittedly, there are a LOT of excellent pizzerias in Chicago but I find Giordano’s crazy-good, convenient, and consistent.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Hope your Thanksgiving was grand.  Everything was excellent, but homemade cheesecake took the cake!

Chocolate-Raspberry-Cheesecake

Chocolate-Raspberry-Cheesecake

Friday – November 27, 20009

One of my favorite cafes, Atwood:

Black Friday Bloody Mary

More about Atwood later!

A late-day warm up: Vosge’s Haut Chocolat in the North Bridge Mall on Michigan Avenue.

All Kinds of Chocolate Bar

“Haut chocolat” makes wonderful “hot chocolate.”  I tried the “Bianca” white chocolate  with lavender and lemon myrtle.”  Ohhhhhh…I don’t have taste-buds sufficiently civilized to describe such savvy sweets!  All I give you is one word, “more!”  You can also purchase it to make it at home.

Oooh, but they have a “how to taste Chocolate guide” on-line!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I baked!

These are yummy white-chocolate-walnut-cranberry cookies.  More about this later…

Sunday, November 29, 2009 – A day of rest!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Great little treat at Bin 36!

Holidays, uncorked!

I snuck in here for a glass of wine to celebrate my NaNoWriMo win (I gave myself three “bys” and this is number 2, I had a glass on Thanksgiving Day).  I knew to skip the garlic hummus but I did try the Gougeres.  They were good but surprisingly somewhat “spicy” and my new friend agreed.  Sitting at the bar, I shared them with a visitor from San Diego and she shared her Salmon Salad with me.  You can’t beat meeting a stranger at the bar and sharing good conversation and appetizers!  (The Salmon Salad was excellent!)  The bartender couldn’t explain the spiciness of the Gougeres, he offered, “pepper?” Now as I re-read the on-line menu, they are termed, “Warm Gourgeres” ~ I thought it’d referred to temperature (hot, warm, cold) but perhaps it is meant as is “spicy” warmth?

Surprise Plate of Salmon Salad!

Surprise Smoked Salmon Shared With Me

The wine I’d chosen was the 2006 Tempranillo, Codice, from Caltayud, Spain, described as: “Sexy, supple texture, medium-bodied, with a fleshy red plum leather and mineral profile” but I didn’t find it as sexy as its description.  (Could my “wine taste buds” be out-of-shape!?)

I will go back to Bin 36 – it was a fun and lively atmosphere (especially for a Monday night) and their domestic cheese list is impressive ~ looking forward to some tasting!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

foodlife !!

At foodlife, Water Tower Place

foodlife is so convenient and reasonably priced, really (especially for Mag Mile eats.  You can also grab a glass of wine from $2.95, but no, I didn’t!)  The food selection is vast (Italian, Sushi, Soup Bar…I usually enjoy the Stir-Fry though!) The shrimp they add is very fresh-tasting, cooked to order!

eat foodlife

BTW – right now, they have $100 gift certificates, with a special “bonus” $25 gift that may be used at many “Lettuce Entertain You” restaurants, nationwide.  (The gift can only be used 1/1/10 – 4/14/10)  They’re available at the back of foodlife in Mity Nice Grill, (which I’ve heard from an “insider” has some of the city’s best French Onion soup – have you had it?)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Gage

Excellent Lunch

And yes, wine I did!  The most I’ve ever paid for a glass of wine is $15, until I yesterday, $16 very-buttery-worthwhile chardonnay.  (This wine was my third “by” –  and last – until after January 17th, 2010, so I wanted to go out strong!) The scallops : “perfect.”  Perfect portion, perfectly prepared, seasoned ~ wonderful taste and texture!  (This lunch was worth every penny – scallops $15 – however the alcohol, in general, seemed a bit steep.)

I bought their $100 gift certificate and received the additional $25.00 bonus (1/1/10 – 3/31/10).  The Gage will be a usual destination.  I enjoyed the cozy atmosphere of the bar, while looking out at Michigan Avenue passers-by.  (Steps from Millenium Park.)  It was the perfect stop for me between the Chicago Cultural Center and The Art Institute.  The servers were pleasant and helpful, the manager personally checked on diners.  Thank you!

(I was curious how others received “The Gage” so I checked it out on TripAdvisor too.  If you aren’t in the mood for “very loud,” save it for another day.  I had a late lunch, about 1:15, and it was fine!)

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A Tree for 3, December, 2009

Bin 36 Holiday Tree, Uncorked

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Bloomie’s Christmas in Bloom

Michigan Avenue

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Hmm, Wonder Who

Hmm, wonder who the party-crashers were who got this:

Chicago's Tribune Tower

Chicago's Tribune Tower

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Magic T.P. & The Great Tree

It’s time again for the “Great Tree” in “The Walnut Room” at the former Marshall Field’s on State Street.

It’s thirty years ago that a princess with a sparkling tiara in her wavy, golden hair sits in front of the tree.  You wait in line forever to answer her question: “what’s your wish?” You whisper it and she tells you “close your eyes.”  She sprinkles magic fairy dust above your head.  Like a feather brushing your cheek, a light stroke of her wand calls you back.  You look up at her, then waaaay up at the tree, knowing your wish will come true. You smile hard before filing to the right, ready to indulge in Christmas desserts.


The Great Tree, 2009

It’s six years ago, on Christmas Eve in Phoenix, that I’m missing Chicago and reminiscing about childhood traditions as my husband and are I driving to our new home that’s under construction.

We stop for gas en route and I’m just a bit emotional.  Between the new home, new life , the holidays…I get myself all choked up.  My husand fills the tank, pops into the gas station and comes out with the usual Mountain Dew.  But when he gets back into the car,  he turns to me and says: “make a wish.”

“Haha,” I say.

But he insists and instructs me, “and close your eyes.”  So, I do.  I make a wish and close my eyes.  A moment later, something brushes against my face.  I open my eyes to huge white flakes falling down around me, his hand still sprinkling over my head.  I adjust my expression into “what’s this?” and a grinch-heart answer comes my way: ”It’s shredded toilet paper,” he announces, kind of chuckling, “they’re all out of regular fairy dust but the guy inside swears it works just the same.”  Then, he hands me a package of Hostess Snoballs.

He was giving me a hard time of course, but also, he did get me back to that tree.  (I could see the love inside that grinch-heart!)  I think I was protecting my over-sentimental heart by being, at first, reluctant to make a wish.  But then, I did it.  I like thinking that there is still that kid who believes in magic (even if just a little bit) in me, in all of us.

So I say: “Bring on the ‘magic toilet paper fairy dust.’  Hey, whatever it takes.  I’d rather believe and be disappointed, because not believing is disappointment in itself.”

Happy Holidays!  Shred the Charmin and make a wish!



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90 Chicago Minutes

One of my favorite places to begin a day of shopping on State Street is at Atwood Cafe.  (Yes, a restaurant,  because all great shopping trips begin with great eating!)

The Atwood Cafe

The Atwood Cafe

The Atwood is in the Hotel Burnham on the southwest corner of State and Washington.  It was five ’til noon when we popped in looking for a table for two.  “An hour-and-a-half wait,” we were told.  A city “hour-and-a-half” goes by much faster than any other that I know, so we signed up, and off we went to work up our appetites further.  We think about popping into Macy’s but it’s such a fine day, we decided head east, to Millenium Park.

Walking toward Millenium Park

Pritzker's Pavilion ahead in Millenium Park

The Cloud Gate Sculpture, also known as "The Bean"

Very cool little trees with only red berries left

"The Bean"

Trees, Millenium Park

Day after Thanksgiving, Millenium Park

Not sure what my iPhone camera did to this one but I kind of like it:

The Wait to Skate

The Wait to Skate

Here’s a more “normal” view:

After Millenium Park we were getting a bit chilled so we popped into the first building across Michigan Avenue: The Chicago Cultural Center. (Originally was the first central Public Library in Chicago, founded in 1897.)

I could shower you with photos from the inside of this building.  It not only has incredible architecture, art exhibits, a cafe and cozy reading nooks,  but it’s also so festively decorated!

Here are just a few from my favorite room, Preston Bradley Hall.

Entering

The room houses the largest Tiffany Dome and it’s truly staggering.  When photographing it, you feel though you’ve stepped into a life-size kaleidoscope.

Kaleidoscope Effect of Tiffany Dome

Kaleidoscope Effect of the Dome

According to the website:

Approximately 38 feet in diameter, the Tiffany dome spans more than 1,000 square feet. It contains approximately 30,000 pieces of glass in 243 sections within an ornate cast iron frame.

 

Tiffany Dome

I overheard a fellow-Chicagoan giving a tour to his family “there’s concerts in here every Wednesday at noon.”  I didn’t know that but I know where I’ll be next Wednesday at noon.  (Also concerts on Mondays.)

The ballroom sized room is decorated elaborately from floor to ceiling in quotes, inscriptions, and mosaic plaques with great thinkers’ name, for instance, Shakespeare:

(Although I took a better-centered shot, I hadn’t used the flash & it’s dull looking without it.  I think you can see the essence of the detail better.  This is a room definitely worth a visit!)

I recommend at least half-day to a whole day to really enjoy Millenium Park & the Chicago Cultural Center, but this was a wonderful preview and we definitely did pass the hour-and-a-half quickly.

I like to be flexible when out and about: here we’d come out to eat and shop and we’ll get to that…but what a wonderful time we had building up to it!

PS: The website has a helpful “My Trip Planner” in case you a planning a trip to Chicago!

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