Friday, November 27, 2015

Thankful for Years of Thanksgiving

Friday, November 27, 2015
Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We hosted for the first time and we cooked with S's brother and our friends came over and brought delicious dishes as well. 
↳My grandma's stuffed artichoke recipe. Of course, mine did not came out as good as hers.
↳My grandma's sausage bread recipe! I've made these a few times, so I've gotten good at them. When there's sausage, mozzarella, and Italian spices inside of a pizza dough, how can you go wrong?
↳We had some of our favorite cheese and prosciutto for appetizers as well. There was honey for the blue cheese, nuts for a little crunch, and taralli! My grandma always has taralli to snack on during holiday dinners, and they are little crunchy bread knots. I like the ones with fennel seeds in them because that's what she always had.
↳Our friends brought some delicious charcuterie! There was maple salami, capicola, soppressata, two kinds of pickles, and a variety of mustards, many made with beer! I could have a whole meal of meat, cheese, pickles, and whole grain mustard and be happy.
↳We had so many delicious things on the dinner menu. For starters, instead of roasting a turkey, we roasted some cornish hens, little individual servings. The rub I used was a porchetta/turkey combo that I found in the latest issue of Food and Wine magazine. I loved the rub! You can find the recipe here. We also had my family's recipes for sausage stuffing, spooned cornbread, baked mac and cheese, and spinach and rice torte. I make a goat cheese and nutmeg mashed potatoes, and our friends brought roasted fennel, and curry and squash empanadas! For dessert, I made vanilla bean biscotti dipped in chocolate with crushed pistachio on top. S made a blueberry and blackberry clafoutis, with a crumble topping for crunch - so yummy! 
↳And of course, we had our penguin wine pitcher. When we went to Buenos Aires, my dad requested that we bring him back a penguin wine pitcher. All of the parilla (meat buffet) restaurants in Argentina serve their red wine in a penguin decanter like this. Once we bought one for my dad, we started seeing them in all of the restaurants. We went back to the shop on one of the last days and had to bring one home for us too! 

Even though we this was the first Thanksgiving without family, it was still really great. Our friends that celebrated with us love food and spirits just like we do. I'm so thankful for my family and friends, for my dream job, for my city that feels so alive this time of year, for my brother in law visiting this week, for my friends that helped me host my first Thanksgiving, and for my home that keeps us close and safe. Although we weren't with our extended family like usual, this year I'm still feeling thankful for them, even if we're miles away.

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.

You may have noticed that I switched commenting systems. You can still comment as a guest if you please, but I like this new system better because if you chose to log in, the next time you comment, you'll see my reply to your previous comment. It's a lot easier than me commenting on the post and following up with an email to comments with specific questions. Also, I was able to import past comments. I hope you find it as seamless as I do!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

My Week In Objects

Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Our bookcase has been crooked since we've moved in and we finally took the time to adjust it this weekend. Also, our museum sells a book called From Prairie to Field in the gift shop, which includes photos from our collections not on display. We swapped out our butterfly illustrations with some photos from the book of the birds in our collections. The swan wrapped up actually is on display in one of our permanent exhibitions, and it's a truly moving sight.
 ↳On a rainy morning, we set out for breakfast before antiquing in Roscoe Village. Sometimes, we're just really in the mood for pancakes. It was also a great way to start our day of antiquing and running errands (like buying a snow shovel).
Roscoe Village! It's wonderful how each and every neighborhood here has it's own personality. We explored Roscoe Village, popping into each antique shop. This particular antique shop had a great selection of furniture and art deco pieces! Also, in the window there was a greyhound statue that looked a little too pudgy to be a greyhound, but it was still regal. One day I hope to have my own greyhound statue, whether on my front porch or regally by our fireplace like Santa's blog post, it's another way to bring greyhound awareness and show support!
Then we found this watch and clock shop while exploring the antique shops. Inside, there were cases of pocket watches, walls of cuckoo clocks, and large grandfather clocks as well. I've been carrying around my double-faced watch with me even though the batteries died months ago. I've popped into various shops in the past and each one told me that they couldn't fix the watch for various reasons. One couldn't get the battery compartment open, another shop told me that they couldn't replace the band because T-pins are rare, etc. So finally, at Father Time Antiques, they were able to fix everything! Now I've got my watch looking brand new. Working events without a watch has been tedious, being that I would have to carry my phone with me everywhere, on top of a clipboard and radio.
↳With this cool weather, our dog loves to be outside! We took Mort for a long walk through Ukrainian Village.  The buildings are all so unique, and many have such gorgeous woodwork. It's name really does reflect the neighborhood - many Ukrainians still live there, and there are gorgeous old churches built like the cathedrals in Eastern Europe. On one residential street, we stumbled upon a church that was under renovations. An entire brick wall was blown out, blocked by a fence. Above the fence, we looked up and could see the various stained glass windows, and a lovely chandelier. It's wonderful to have these architectural splendors in our backyard.

I first saw this my week in objects feature on Reading My Tea Leaves.
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