Sunday, May 29, 2016

Spring in the City

Sunday, May 29, 2016









Oh spring! I know I wax poetic about fall every time the leaves turn orange, but be still my heart - spring! The earth welcomes spring in the most dramatic way. With it's green stalks breaking ground, reaching for the sky, and slowly, tight flower buds spread open, soaking up the sun.

I've never admired tulips before Chicago. I always thought they were a bit of a lazy flower because they never stand up straight in a vase. I worked an event once where the centerpieces were tulips, and it took a lot of coaxing from the florist to get those tulips to perk up. They almost need the support of other flowers to hold them upright. Because of this, you could never see the sides of their bulbs, only the insides. They completely lose their charm this way.

Only now that I've been in Chicago for spring for the first time, do I truly appreciate tulips. I love their long green stalks, all legs, with a bright bulb at the top, eagerly opening to the warm weather, all clustered together. I also love how they last for weeks. I've seen some blooms on other flowers come and go within a matter of days. The hydrangea bush down the block wilted on the first humid day. The peonies are taking weeks to open. But these tulips? They welcomed our visitors in April, and were still around to welcome our most recent visitor in May. 

I have a few stressful events that I'm working on lately. I'm looking forward to the end of June, when things quiet down a bit. I'm also looking forward to July, when my parents visit. I'm trying not to think of June bitterly, with how busy it is becoming. I'm trying to focus on the moments in between the big events. The street festivals are beginning, all of the restaurants have their outdoor seating setup, and my skin is gaining a hint of color after a few days in the sun after a pale winter.
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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Our Fair City: The Driehaus Museum

Thursday, May 26, 2016















One of the few TV shows that I watch is Downton Abbey. I'm sad that the series is over, but I'm looking forward to re-watching episodes from the earlier seasons. Especially since I recently visited the Driehaus Museum and it's temporary exhibit featuring costumes from the show.

The Driehaus Museum is an old mansion with historic rooms such as a drawing room (for withdrawing) and a reception room (to receive guests).  The home was built in 1883 and was heavily inspired by the art nouveau era. The house these days includes a collection of art from the Driehaus family, as well as a skylight Tiffany window, and other glass works by Tiffany.

There are multiple levels, and the rooms are on the perimeter of the center hallways. On the main floor, next to the grand piano, an mp3 player let out some period pieces to set the mood. Of course, many of the attendees were women who also adore Downton Abbey, and we overheard some say that they love visiting old mansions-turned-museums. S was a good sport and explored the museum with me.

We listened to the audio tour, which talked about the different fabrics used on the costumes, and why certain styles were chosen for different characters. Some of the fabrics were even vintage and true to the time period, just re-imagined for the show. I love listening about how Sybil's style was very different from Mary's, and how even Edith's fashion became more structured when she started working.

We had a really lovely weekend of walking around the city in the perfect weather, enjoying the tulips and other flowers in bloom, and showing S's mom our city. We went shopping for some new clothes recently on Mag Mile, and found nothing that we loved. When S's mom was visiting, we took her into some vintage stores and we both had really good luck finding clothes! Also, you cannot beat an $8 top that was once probably over $20. I haven't been to vintage shops for clothes in a long time, but now I feel like I've been missing out! I see more shopping days to come at all of the second-hand clothing stores near us.
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Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Week's End

Sunday, May 22, 2016


 











This was our weekend just after I received my new camera in the mail. I purchased a used Canon 5D Mark II and splurged on the lens, a Sigma 35mm f/1.4. Thank you to Heather for the suggestion! I've wanted to upgrade to a nicer DSLR for a long time. However, taking photos for my blog is a hobby, not my career, so I never felt confident in spending too much money on camera equipment. 

This fall, we have the trip of a lifetime, our dream trip to Japan. Another friend did let me know that the Canon 5D Mark II is an extremely heavy camera - and she was so right. Because of that, she said it's not great for travel, but I think Japan will be worth it. 

All weekend I played with my new camera, solely on Manual mode and shooting in Raw, just like all the professionals suggest. I think  I'm getting the hang of adjusting the ISO and shutter speed, but the aperture is the one thing I like to keep as wide-open as possible, because I love the depth of field that this lens produces.

Alright, enough about cameras. That weekend we went to a pub with a friend in their new neighborhood, we visited the Driehaus Museum to see the Downton Abbey costumes, went searching for treasures in the Ravenswood Manor neighborhood garage sale, and ended it with dinner with friends I've been missing dearly lately.

Another weekend has passed. S's mom visited us and we went to the touristy places like The Bean, and our favorite places like Cindy's rooftop. Every weekend is like a little vacation in Chicago. Whether we want to explore every inch, or if we want to relax at home, we have so many options. 
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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Our Fair City: Wrigley Field

Thursday, May 19, 2016





Working at the museum, many event vendors are appreciative of the relationship that we have exclusively with them. To show their appreciation, they do things like give us tickets to Chicago Bulls games in fall, and Chicago Cubs games in spring! 

Our seats were so close to the field that we could see the dust settling on third base. I'm not really into sports, but it was fun to have a beer at a sports bar around the corner from the stadium, and it was really fun to sing during the seventh-inning stretch. It made me very nostalgic. I think the last time I sang [or even heard!] Take Me Out to the Ballgame was when I was in elementary school.

For spring, it was such a cold night! Thankfully, a coworker brought fleece blankets for us to keep cozy. We drank beers and of course, we had Chicago hot dogs. Everyone was decked out in their Cubs hats and jackets. I know that the Cubs don't have the best record of wins, but they won that night!

Since the game, Chicago has warmed up a bit. The sun is out most days, and even after it rains, there's a cool breeze that makes my skin crave the warmth of the sun. We've been sleeping with the windows open, the faint city noise becoming our white noise. I think Mort is loving this weather too. Our walks are long enough where he gets tired and takes a nice, long nap afterward. Spring has always been my favorite, even in Florida where we hardly got a spring (it's so hot there it went straight to summer). In both Florida and Chicago, all of a sudden, the birds return from their travels south. I hear them in the trees these days and since all of the leaves are back everything is green - it's gorgeous! Every day I want to go outside and explore Chicago!
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Monday, May 16, 2016

Our Travels: Holland, Michigan

Monday, May 16, 2016

We celebrated the weekend of our anniversary with a day-trip! We downloaded hours of The Black Tapes podcast (a spooky, paranormal podcast) and drove to Holland, Michigan for the tulip festival. The town was so adorable, like Stars Hollow - straight out of the Gilmore Girls. The town square was set up with vendors selling their wares. There were tulips all over the town, just like the original Holland is known for.




The town is rich in it's Dutch history. There were young girls wearing traditional cultural dresses,  including clog shoes. At the local diner, they all had their clogs off and lined up at the foot of the booth while they ate their meal, resting their feet from the day. 



There were so many more foreigners than I expected. My expectation was that it's a small midwestern festival showcasing the city's Dutch history, and celebrating the arrival of tulips, signifying spring! However, on our trek to the windmill, there were so many different languages being spoken around us. Who knew that this small midwestern town would draw visitors from around the world. 




There was this gorgeous, loud, and intricate organ that was still in operation. An old man changed out the tunes, and it rolled the notes like an automaton. It was mesmerizing to watch. It was used back in the early years of this festival, in which it would have led the parade, on a float, echoing music across the avenues. 




At the windmill, we witnessed a war re-enactment. It's incredible to think that this is how people used to fight wars, slowly marching toward each other, slowly reloading their rifles with gun powder. 





It was gorgeous weather that day in Michigan. We left Chicago behind, in a cloud of misty rain. Ahead were blue skies, a bright sun, and a cool breeze. The colorful tulips were all in bloom, and each one was different than the next. 
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