Sunday, September 27, 2015

Fall, Autumn, Harvest

Sunday, September 27, 2015
My friend (and travel companion - we went to Paris together!) came to visit me in Chicago! I wanted to go apple picking once the air turned crisp, and I knew Abby would love to go too. We drove west, past the suburbs and past the farms. We went to Kuiper's Family Farm where they do apple picking in September, a pumpkin patch in October, and you can cut down your own Christmas tree in winter! The land was beautiful, surrounded by green hills and tons of trees. I cannot wait to see these leaves turn orange.
The farm told us what was in season that weekend, and they take you on a tractor ride through the orchard to the rows of ripe apples.  
We were given bags the size of 1/4 of a peck. Of course, we piled the apples high so that we could bring home as many as we could carry!
They also had apple cider donuts! Although the farm had many activities for children, they also thought about the adults. There was a bar for tasting the hard cider that they make on property! Unfortunately, the weekend that we went must have been a popular one because they were sold out. In the future, I can't wait to try some.
Definitely spent some time taste-testing the apples that were in season. The fujis and the cortlands were delicious this time of year! I hope to make an apple tart of some sort. I've already made apple crumble from a recipe that S's mom shared with me. Served with some vanilla gelato or greek yogurt, yum! Do you have any particular apple recipes that you love?
Abby is always dressed for the occasion! (Remember how chic she looked in Paris, all the time?) When Abby said that she was wearing plaid, I had to as well. 

I'm really thrilled to be in the north/mid-west for fall. One of the reasons I fell in love with blogging was the love of fall that many bloggers have. Not only that, but when I lived in Florida I was able to read northern or mid-western bloggers and follow their fall activities while I was still chasing mosquitoes away. Living in Florida for over a decade, the only times I would visit family in the north were during winter holidays or summer vacations. I haven't had a proper fall in years. Thinking back, the last true fall I can remember is being in elementary school in New York. My brother and I would walk to school, and the leaves were always big maple-shaped, bright orange, and really crisp like the air. Leaves fall in Florida, but they never crisp up, just like the wind barely chills the air there. Because fall feels like it was another lifetime ago, I'm really excited to add to the little glimpses of fall memories that I have.

I think the reason I appreciate fall so much is because it comes and goes so quickly. Even when I was younger, I remember the leaves turning orange one week, and then they were crunching on the ground the next week. Even though we'll soon have to break in our new winter coats and find our wool socks, it will be new traditions of my old favorite things that I grew up with. Our landlord told us about the antiquing district of Chicago where I can't wait to uncover some treasures. And Mordechai's Aunt Beth (his pet-sitter in Orlando) is from Wisconsin and I'm already dreaming up the drive through the cheese-trail and cabin vacations. Hello fall! Remember me?

Friday, September 18, 2015

From Winter Park to Wicker Park

Friday, September 18, 2015
Hello! Welcome to our home. We're really getting settled in, we're even accepting visitors! I'll need to start a public calendar for our friends to see when they can visit, some of our friends already booked, and I need to keep their dates straight. Anyway, let me show you my boat* apartment!

*Steve Zissou reference, anyone?
This paint color is one that we've loved for years. We wanted to paint our last two apartments this color, but never had the time. I tried once, and got the color totally wrong. We were inspired by Deyrolle, our favorite shop in Paris. I knew this color looked beautiful with tons of natural light, is bright enough for when it's dark in winter, and looks lovely with antique wood finishes.
Oh hey - we have a fireplace! This was totally unexpected. When we inquired about this apartment, there were no photos. The description didn't even say "hardwood floors". All I knew was that it was in our price point, was in a good area, and had a dining room. When I asked for photos, the landlord took some from his phone and texted them to me - he was so responsive and quick! The photos weren't great, but through the previous tenant's piles of moving boxes, I could see potential, hope, luck! After showing friends the photos various times, I finally noticed it: in the corner of the picture, behind a couch, was the grainy outline of the fireplace. We felt like it was too good to be true. Of course, it is not an operating fireplace, but it's warming with it's presence either way.
As per usual... this is Mordechai's natural state of being.
One of our coffee table books is a contemporary (AKA affordable) edition of John James Audubon's The Birds of America. Ours is very beautiful with gold edges and large prints of his illustrations. I was exploring the staff-only floor of the museum and spent some time in our library. We have a reading room as well as a rare books room where the librarians will take you in and show you books while wearing white gloves. In the library, in a large glass case, sits one of the original copies of The Birds of America. It's in four volumes, has a case that the four books slip into, and there's an ornate ottoman that the case fits into. The original coffee table book. The book can no longer be on display in the museum due to damage from light. Instead, the librarians will turn it's page in the glass display case once a week. It's truly incredible and inspiring to be in the presence of important natural history. The library is available to the public by appointment if anyone is in the Chicago area. 
I feel as though this heirloom table has been waiting it's whole life to live in an 1800's home. My parents had it while we lived in our early 1900's house in Staten Island, New York, and I feel as though the soul of the table really thrives when in an older home. It never looked quite right in our 1970's apartment. This table looks really big, but that's because we put in one of the center leaves, elongating the table. If you can believe it, we still have another leaf in the closet, so this table can fit up to 12 guests. Surprisingly, this space was large enough for it! So while S thought it would look better in it's smaller size, I believe that it needs to stretch it's legs and fill in the space. 
This is the second bedroom. For the moment, it's too small to house our pull-out couch, but I'd like to some day get a day-bed for visitors to have their own room instead of having to sleep in the living room. But for now, this room works to hold their suitcases. It's purpose for the moment is Mordechai's room when he's done listening to the TV or radio and if he wants some silence, he'll go on this couch. 
The map seemed fitting for this room seeing as it's somewhat of my "Chicago room". I have my Chicago guidebooks and novels in here, as well as some Chicago-themed gifts from friends. I also have some vintage Chicago travel postcards that I want to frame and hang up.
Our tiny office (by "our" I mean "my") is the last room to come together. It still looks like this because S unpacked all of his books and office things and there's no room left for mine, so my things are still in boxes. But it's window overlooks the street and gets tons of light, so when we finally put the finishing touches on it like hanging up the thrift store ship painting and get some of my books on the shelves, then it'll be a nice little office for me to work in. I call it "my" office because I'm still working from home. I wrote previously that I was doing copy editing from home, but now I've been moved to the social media team. 
The last three places that we've lived together have had very tiny, boxed-in kitchens. I'm so happy to have space to spread out! My friend joked that who knew you could move to a bigger city and get more space? We've already been making Sunday dinners together, instead of one of us cooking for the other. There's enough room for us to tag-team! And there is no more bumping into open refrigerators or stepping on a curious Mordechai. 
There's even room in the kitchen for this little breakfast table! Since our office didn't fit our two desks like our last two homes did, we re-purposed one desk by putting it in the spacious kitchen and having a little breakfast nook. We'll also sometimes have lunch here. Considering that we put one of the two leaves in the middle of the dining room table, making it seat 8 guests at any time, it seems a little outrageous to eat a casual pasta lunch staring across taper candles. 

When our landlord asked what colors we wanted the apartment painted, we left out the kitchen because it seemed like a lot of work (considering he painted every single other room!) and I also have no idea what color I would want the kitchen to be. Ideally, if it was a perfect world, I would like to have grey walls in the kitchen and to paint the cabinets white, but that's a huge process. Maybe it's a project that we could tackle next summer, considering we plan to be here for years. Any other ideas for what colors the kitchen could be, minimal work, while also tying into the rest of the apartment? Let me know!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Weekend Recap // Labor Day

Sunday, September 13, 2015
We joined a local greyhound adoption group once we knew we were moving. We've been working with Greyhounds Only and they've been so helpful with suggesting veterinarians, dog sitters, as well as coordinating meet-ups! Another couple in the group reached out to us and we did a doggie date at the dog beach on Lake Michigan. It was Mordechai's first beach and I love visiting the lake - it's so beautiful! Growing up the last few years in Florida, we were surrounded by beaches, but Lake Michigan is a gorgeous body of water in a different way. I love being able to put my toes in the sand while seeing the grey city skyline in the clouds. Even though you can't see it, you know the other side of the lake are green forests, and it's a beautiful thought. 
I've been going to the same hairstylist in Orlando for years - she was my previous boss when I was a hairstylist and she is so talented. Not only have I trusted her with my hair for years, but she's a close friend, so every appointment was a catch-up session. I was so sad that I was losing that with the move. Luckily, I have a mutual friend in Chicago who is from Florida and is a hairstylist! So she knows the stress of moving and the emotions of missing family. I got my hair cut and colored by her this weekend, and I'm so pleased to know I have a hairstylist here that I can trust like I had in Orlando. 
A friend was visiting from Orlando this weekend and I love that our friends are already taking advantage of visiting us and visiting a new city at the same time. I love exploring the city with friends that are visiting - it feels like we are on vacation too!
We went with my friend to the Art Institute downtown. We had all been there once before, but the museum is so huge and it houses so many well-known artists that it's impossible to see them all in one trip. After hours of walking through galleries, my feet were killing me, but it was all worth it because there are really amazing pieces to be enjoyed. I adore the hall of impressionism paintings, all of the Rodin sculptures, and my favorite, American Gothic. One thing I saw this time that I had not seen previously was the hall of miniature dioramas. There were little windows that you look into with rooms setup like houses with incredible detail. The legs of the ornate furniture were so petite and detailed, all of the rest of the decor was so beautiful and true to the time period. My favorite was the diorama of a luxury carriage from the late 1800's that would take wealthy guests to the World's Fair. 

I'm so fascinated with the World's Fair here in Chicago back in 1893. I spent some time looking through the museum's archives the other day and was in love with all of the World's Fair memorabilia. It was incredible what those architects created, only 20 years after the fire! It's an amazing piece of history, and I'm surrounded by it by living here. In our archives are old World's Fair tickets that proudly declare, "Admit the Bearer." You can see them on our library's Flicker here. Another favorite from our archives is this octopus sculpture that debuted at the fair and now it's in one of our exhibits, right next to my office. Back then, people didn't have National Geographic introducing them to exotic animals. People from all over the world came to the fair, seeing some animals like that for the first times in their lives, and I get to admire it everyday. I could look through our archives for hours getting lost in the history.
We took our friend out for some delicious cocktails in Logan Square! Before indulging in some drinks, we started the night off with Chicago deep dish pizza - it was a first for S and I here! Oddly enough, our first date was at a Chicago-style deep dish pizza place back in Florida. Who knew that all these years later we would move here? As for true Chicago deep dish, it was really quite delicious. The place we went to didn't have too much cheese, but definitely enough to be gluttonous. Two slices and I was full. But, a quick walk to get some Stan's Donuts and I walked enough off for dessert.

For drinks, we started with Heavy Feather, a bar upstairs and inside of another bar. It's dim inside with 60's to 70's decor and music. Their cocktail menu has photos on it and the font that boasts the name, Heavy Feather, looks straight off of That 70's Show. The cocktails? Amazing. S got one called a Polished Nail with scotch and it smells like a leather couch on the freshly polished parquet floors of Versailles. My favorite is a Plum Gin Fizz which includes gin that is infused with plum, no artificial flavor there, and an egg white. So frothy, so refreshing.

Then we went to Scofflaw. I went there when I was in Chicago for my job interview. I went alone, sat at the bar for two hours writing in my journal about my trip. They make their own gin in-house and specialize in gin cocktails. This past year, gin has been my go-to. I ordered some cocktails like Gin + Electricity that comes with a huge, block ice cube and the drink is strong and delicious. I ordered some appetizers like goat cheese with a balsamic drizzle served with baguette toast. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. The best thing about this place besides their gin cocktails? Complimentary fresh, warm, perfect texture chocolate chip cookies at midnight. Someone with a tray of heaven comes around with tongs, handing cookies to you as the clock strikes twelve. No, it's not a fairy-tale, it's just Chicago.

Monday, September 07, 2015

300th post + my 1st post from Chicago

Monday, September 07, 2015
This city is made up of neighborhoods like The Loop where all of the L trains meet downtown, like Lakeview that is made up of greystones and gets the breeze off the lake, and Wicker Park where there's never a shortage of great restaurants, bars, and shops. I'm excited to see these trees in fall! 
Mordechai agrees, moving is exhausting.
Our first night in Chicago, we ordered pizza from Piece and opened up a bottle of Bordeaux that I brought back from Paris a few months ago. Also, we drank them in our longitude and latitude wine glasses, feeling very sentimental. 
Brunch is big here. Every Saturday and Sunday, brunch is happening. I'm personally taking the french toast tour of Chicago. I've had french toast at Lula's Cafe in Logan Square, Bite Cafe in Ukrainian Village, and Barley and Brass in Wicker Park. Each one has been delicious because, hello egg-y bread, but I think Bite Cafe is taking the lead!

I have to say, it's a little fitting that my 300th post is one of importance because it's my first official blog post from Chicago. I started writing my Orlando Favorites blog post while I was in Orlando those last few weeks, thinking about the places that I was going to miss. So here, in my little office in our new apartment, I'm writing my first post from what will be my home for a long time to come. I think I've found my roots, but it's still too early to tell. 

After moving 1,000 miles away and working out all of the logistics that come with it, I feel like I can do anything. Although it was stressful and emotional, it was so worth it once we got here. The most stressful times were the few days right before moving day. There were boxes surrounding us, everyone wanted to get together and I wanted to see everyone, and I felt like there wasn't enough time in the day to accomplish everything I needed to. The two-day drive was less stressful. I would listen to podcasts in the car the whole way, with Mort asleep in the backseat. We would stop at gas stations and grab some fast food, which is a rare treat for us. It was a little calm after the storm.

So, how is Chicago? I'm two weeks in and I'm in awe of what an incredible city this is. I love all of the restaurants and the bars that we've been to with friends. I love all of the community events taking place every week and every day. I love taking the elevated train and seeing the city, admiring the skyscrapers downtown, and walking the tree-lined streets of the neighborhoods. I drive to work and although everyone said the traffic here is horrible, it really isn't so bad. What's horrible is that on my drive home I take a road called Congress Parkway that weaves under buildings and at one point along my route, there's this old flickering traffic report sign that tallies the number of traffic deaths in Chicago, year to date. Every day I see this old sign and what I began to call "the death toll" increasing digit by digit. It's very eerie and dystopian. Apart from that, driving in the city is not all that bad. Our first experience with the shoddy Chicago interstates was with our 24-foot moving truck. After navigating that through the city, we can handle Chicago traffic. Oh and it only took me 4 days of driving to work to not get off on the wrong exit, and it only took 3 days to not get lost on my way to the HR office. Yay, small victories! 

When we arrived, our landlord was putting the finishing touches on the paint that we requested. And, they left us two bottles of wine from a nearby winery. The wines were so good (especially compared to "local" Florida wine) that I let my landlord know how nice it was. Week two, a floral vendor that I was introduced to sent me an arrangement welcoming me to Chicago. That same day, I came home to find two more bottles of wine on my stairs from my landlord. Seriously, people were not kidding about mid-westerners being nice. 

The first week, we unpacked the necessities (cough, the kitchen), and hung up a few of our favorite pieces of art, like the Pollock-inspired painting my dad and I made together. By this second week, most of our boxes are unpacked and what's left is mostly stored items like extra pillows, endless books, office stuff. Now, most of our paintings, shelves, and insects are on the walls. Once those things started going up, it started feeling very much like home. I'm finding that it's not where the roots are planted that make it home, it's the roots themselves. Our couch is the familiar softness, our radios have their familiar hum, and our paintings have their familiar glares. It's all comfort and it's all subjective. S and Mordechai are the real pieces that make a place feel like home. The first day Mort would follow us around, hoping that we wouldn't forget to take him with us when we went back "home." And within a day or two, he was back to being himself, cuddling on a couch or sneaking himself under our covers in our bed. It was a physical representation of my own comfort journey. The first day I woke up here, it took a moment to sink in where I was. The next few days, just like Mort, I figured out our routine and felt right at home. 

Lastly, Samantha won the Firmoo glasses giveaway! I wish you could all win, and I hope to have another giveaway for all of you soon. 
Hygge & Wool + BLOG DESIGN BY Labinastudio