More Churches You Ask?

Oh yeah baby … and we are off early this morning!  We started off at the Bongo Room for breakfast, another favorite of mine.  Not because of their homemade Belgian waffles or their chocolate stuffed French toast … noooooo … because of their great service and friendly smiles!  Yeah, that’s it!  Ok, now we’re off to our first stop of the day …

St. Mary of the Lake parish!  OMG, this was another beautiful, active, giving parish.  We walked around the church and gardens because the front doors of the church were locked up tight.  Hmmmm … they don’t allow the faithful in during the day?  Weird!  img_2639

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img_2655We found our way to the rectory and knocked on the doors — Hey guys!  We want in!  It was answered by a sweet lady who took us into the house and introduced us to Deacon Manuel.  He then immediately stopped what he was doing,  gathered us in and said, “Come follow me!”  I swear he did!!  So we did!!  And we were so happy we did … img_2651

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img_2650He took us around the whole church and pointed out the beautiful architecture, the art work, the details and symbols of almost every piece of furniture and art in the church.  He, like Joe at St. Pat’s, was a wealth of knowledge.   He was so proud of his beautiful church but he asked us to pray for more parishioners for them.  He said that he and his wife had been parishioners there for 50 years, and that his family has celebrated every sacrament in that church over the past 50 years.  You know that this is their “second home” much like HNM is to many of us, and that they truly love it.  Deacon Manuel spent about an hour with us, showing us around, telling us stories, and even giving us one of their parish directories, because he said, it held so much history inside of it.

One of my favorite stories was this one … he said that during the early 90’s they did a major renovation to the church, restoring the artwork, cleaning every nook and cranny, and rearranging some of the seating.  He then took us over to the baptismal font that they use in the front of the church near the altar.   img_2648“Isn’t it beautiful” he says, and “does it look familiar to you”??  Well if you look closely, you can see that it’s actual pews!  They used the wood from some of their “leftover” pews to make the holder for the font!  He loved it and so did we!  How creative and again, they used their resources to tell their stories … to everyone who is baptized in that font and to everyone who looks at it and see “the pews” that were lovingly re-made into a piece of furniture that will be used over and over and over.  img_2643

img_2645We had a really special time with Deacon Manuel and promised to pray for him and his church.  Don’t you just love it when that happens?  God Moment!!!  img_2652

img_2659Peg, are you ready?  We got some souls to see!!  Off for a short walk to Graceland Cemetery, Chicago’s largest cemetery and the resting place for many of Chicago’s famous … and infamous! img_2660I should tell you that today was a 90 degree/90 percent humidity day … we hadn’t had one of these days all summer.  But today, our 7 mile walking day, it is!  So, you can imagine we’re pretty “steamed”!!  We took some time out at the cemetery talking to some of the staff in their cool, air conditioned office about some of the tours that run through the cemetery and the architecture of some of the headstones.  So, it turned out to be a great place for a “time out” … who else but Peggy and me would stop into a cemetery office for some conversation, water, and a history lesson!!  img_1201Yep, this is Marshall Field’s resting place.  I didn’t take a picture of his “plot” but he has pretty much a space the size of a small park for him and his family.  Ok, onwards we go!  Our next stop is St. Alphonsus!  And this was a beauty! img_2666 img_2668Doors of Mercy … and in we go!

We didn’t have a tour guide for this masterpiece, however, that didn’t stop us!  Apparently this church is on some “must see” church list because we weren’t the only ones in there snapping away!img_2671Oooooohhhhhhh … img_2674Awwwww … img_2675Wowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!! img_2677

img_2676And on and on …. isn’t it beautiful?  img_2677What I’m loving about these “old fashioned” churches is the details … Look at the walls on this picture.  And then look at the stained glass, and the filigree, and the angel and the pillar.  Sometimes there’s just so much that you actually can’t take it all in … it’s overwhelming, but in a good way!  img_2686Feeling protected and watched over?  Yep, we sure were!  Oh, and don’t forget … Peg’s lighting candles for you all again!! img_2679Ok, time to go!!  Peg … Peggy???  Where are you??  img_2689“Oh, I’ll just be a minute!” img_2687Ok, fine!!

On our way out, we saw this!!  img_2690A “Lending Library” for the kiddos!  Isn’t that sweet??  And as we walked out the front doors, we caught a glimpse of their cornerstone … img_2695It’s been a great morning so this afternoon we’re gonna take it easy and have some fun!  Off to the lake we go!  I wanted to show Peggy the “Museum Campus” so we walked through the park on the “lakeshore trail” to enjoy the lake that looks like an ocean. img_2697Apparently we got there just in time!  Today was the day the “Tall Ships” come into the harbor!  So we were able to see the “Parade of Tall Ships” pass right by us on their way to Navy Pier.  It was the coolest thing ever!!  img_2716There was about 14 Tall Ships parading that afternoon, including this one that is a “Viking Ship” … I know it’s hard for you to see so I think that the next time they come into Navy Pier, you should definitely come and see it for yourself!  Bucket List = Tall Ships!!

After all that water stuff, we decided to do some good old fashioned “land” stuff … like bike riding!  So off we went over to the Planetarium to grab a bike.  img_2723This was Peggy’s first time .. in a long time … that she had been on a bike.  So we decided that she should take a practice run before we head out on the trail … img_2722So she did … and there she goes!!  Oh but wait … there’s more to this story … Yes more!  Lots more … and I am not at liberty to discuss it.  If you would like to know exactly what happened, you should ask Peggy the next time you see her.  She has it all on video.  All I can say is that there will be no bike rides on this trip!  Let’s go find the water taxi!!  😉 img_2728Here we are on the water taxi and all I can say is “Thank God she still loves me.”img_2727

img_2725God actually answered my plea, as you can see by this picture … He said, “Have No Fear Lani.  Peggy Will Always Love You.  Even If You Did Almost Break Her Legs.”  Ok, that’s a little dramatic … but really, I am thankful!

We ended our beautiful day at Navy Pier, taking in the sights, sounds, and millions of tourists, who were there to see the “Tall Ships” in all their glory.  It was a great day filled with the beauty of our faith and of our outdoors.

Let’s go home and rest our legs!!

Talk to you tomorrow!

 

 

 

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Peggy Goes to Confession … 13 Times!

Hahaha!  Ok let me explain!!  But first … breakfast!!  And because we’re going to try and see 345 parishes in the next few days, we decided to start our church touring with a great breakfast at my favorite Jewish Deli – – Eleven City Diner!!  OMG, I know I’ve told you before, but their french toast (should be called “Jewish Toast”) is made with their homemade Challah bread and it is quite heavenly … right up our “churchy” stuff for today!

img_2507I also love their menu just because of the names of some of their items … makes me feel like my family is right there with me … maybe even cooking for me (Coco?? Bubbie??)!!img_2505

img_2506Yes girls, you made the menu so I’ll expect a great meal when we get home!  😉

Anyway, we got our fill of protein (yes, we did even though it doesn’t look like it!) so that we’d be ready for the day!  Next, we hop on the subway and off we go!img_2509Our first stop is to let Peggy see the cathedral.  Holy Name Cathedral is where Chicago comes to pray.  Every single time I’ve been in this cathedral, whether just for a visit or for a mass or other service, it has been packed.  It is it’s own parish and you can tell the people that call this place home just love it.  I love the ceilings and the ambo and the archways and the stations … it’s all beautiful and holds so much meaning.  Take a look … img_2517The Doors of Mercy.  The massive bronze doors weigh 1200 pounds each. The doors have the “Tree of Life” theme with intricate details that make the doors look like huge planks of wood.  And as a side note, I just love the Gothic style archway that they’re in. img_2520The ambo with the 4 Gospel writers engraved on it, along with the Holy Spirit. img_2522This is the sculpture that is over the Tabernacle … it’s a bronze and absolutely stunning.  img_2523The ceiling and the fantastic pipe organ.  First, their entire ceiling looks like this.  I often wonder who cleans this ceiling??  It always looks shiny like it was just polished all the way up to the top!!  How does this happen?  The organ?  Well, when they play it during their services, it is spectacular … Sorry, Dan!  I don’t think our HNM organ is on quite the same scale, so when you’re here, take some time to just sit and listen.  One afternoon a while back, I came in while the organist was rehearsing and I literally just sat there while he performed a concert just for me!

Lastly, because I know so many of our HNM’rs have a love for St. Faustina, here is a picture of her enshrined with her relic … img_2518Ok Peg, we gotta go!img_2521Because we’re up in the north end and close to “Mag Mile” I decide to show Peggy the famous street before we continue our journey.  My favorite stop is always the Tribune Tower because of the other types of “relics” that it holds in its walls.img_2526This “rock” is from the “Dome of St. Peter’s Cathedral” in Rome.  This might be as close as Peggy and I get to touching the ceiling in St. Peter’s!!

Next we decide to hop on the water taxi.  This is a really fun way to “get around” the city.  If you’re just going from one end of the city to another, hop on this taxi for a little change! img_2528 I never would have thought that people use a water taxi for commuting, but they do!  Eddie goes between two of his offices here in the city so sometimes he’ll hop on the water taxi to go from one office to the other.  How cool is that for a commute??  Look at these views!img_2540Roosevelt Road is right behind our apartment … if you look at the round looking building on the bottom right, our apartment building is right behind that one.  And yep, that’s the Sear’s Tower looking down on us!img_2538  img_2536This is the “Chinatown Station” for the water taxi stop.  Anybody want some dim sum?

Alright enough fooling around … back on the taxi!  We loved just riding around on that thing from “station to station” but we found our way to the French Market where they have the best cheese around!  First of all, I love the name of this little stall … “The Pastoral Artisan Cheese Shop.  Who wouldn’t buy “pastoral cheese“?  Well after a few samples and much discussions, we picked out a few cheeses … not because we tasted them and we couldn’t live without them.  Nooooo … we chose them purely for their names!!  Haha!  Check them out!! img_2542Who doesn’t love St. Malachi????  And his cheese was perfection!! img_2543In honor of our God-daughter, Marissi!!  And it was just what it promised to be … “restrained yet wonderfully complex” (just like our gal!) … and just plain delicious!!img_2544 I can’t remember why we chose this one but maybe because we both loved the Waltons???    No matter … buttery blast is right …. oh my!!img_2545And last but not least, for Jimmy & Corinnie!!  HAHAH!!!  And, of course, it tasted fabulous, along with the chardonnay and sherry!

The next morning we had a tour scheduled so we were up and attem’ bright and early!  We met Joe inside the beautiful Old St. Patrick’s for an official tour!!  He explained all the finery to us from each stained glass window, to the crossbeams holding up the ceiling, to the filigree patterns all around the “Big Guy” (that would be St. Patrick!!).  Here’s a sampling of what you’ll see when you get here!! img_2552

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The entire ceiling looks like this!  

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Ceiling over the Altar

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Curved walls behind the Altar

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Stained glass – every window looks like this! 

Joe was a great tour guide, a chock full of knowledge and a very happy parishioner.  He is devoted to his parish and loves giving tours, even to a couple of crazy church ladies from So. Cal.  That was a real delight to have our own private tour of this magnificent church!

Next stop … wherever we see steeples and bell towers, of course!!

We made our way via walking (11 minutes), then bus (23 minutes), then more walking (3 minutes) then another bus (13 minutes) … the best way to see Chicago!!  After getting off the bus, we know we’re heading to St. Stanislaus, but wait … look over there!!  It’s a steeple!  Ok, let’s go there first!!  Walk (5 more minutes) to … img_2566Holy Trinity Church!  And their Doors of Mercy! img_2568We weren’t able to get inside but we stood in the Doors of Mercy and then moved on to our original destination … img_2561St. Stanislaus!  I’ve seen this one many times from the freeway on our way to the airport.  It stands large and proud for everyone to see and is one of the many polish language parishes in the city.  In fact, I learned that Chicago has the greatest population of Polish people, outside of Poland!  Yep, that’s a fact!  img_2562They mean business here!  img_2569

img_2564We were pretty impressed that they have Adoration 24 a day??  WOW!!  So yes, we went in and spent a little time with Jesus before gawking at the physical beauty of their church.  img_2571Holy Cow, right???  Notice the floor.  There is no carpet anywhere and the pews literally just sit on the floor.  I don’t think I’ve seen a church without carpet in a long, long time! img_2573This is where they were having Adoration. Doesn’t this just look like the “Ark of the Covenant”?  It was so beautiful and you were immediately brought into the reverence of the scene.img_2580 Peggy went to light a candle for you all … Can you see that they are REAL candles she’s lighting.  Thank you Peg! img_2575

img_2577After all that oooohhing and ahhhhing Peggy needed to go to confession … img_2584This girl has lots to say ….img_2588Are you done yet???  We need to go … there are some “angels” waiting for us!

Our next stop came after a 6 minute bus ride (we coulda walked!!) and 9 minute walk to …img_2601

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img_2605Yes, we made it to St. Mary of the Angels parish and let me tell you, this is an absolutely fabulous church.  Angels are everywhere!!  You can’t tell by the pictures, but there are angels perched on every corner of the rooftop … looking down at us, praying for us, protecting us.  I loved it!!!

And then you go inside … img_2624Isn’t that a beautiful statement, a wonderful reminder for us!!img_2607Holy Water Font!!  OMG!img_2608

img_2612More prayers for you guys!  Thanks Peg!img_2628

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img_2616When you’re inside these churches and see the art work that is on the walls, you can’t help but think of it as a museum.  And it is in some ways, a museum of our faith — stories told on walls and through the architecture and through every single detail that your eyes can see.  It is really incredible to think that someone, a very long time ago, thought of us in their vision for these churches.  They didn’t build the churches for them (so to speak), but for those who were coming after them, to tell the stories that they knew they wouldn’t be able to physically tell us, but by sharing them on the walls and rooftops, and in the nooks and on the ceilings.  Thank God for those who came before us and shared their faith stories with us.  Where would we be without them??

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Ambo

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Cornice

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Tabernacle behind Altar

 

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Organ … again a million pipes

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Looking back from altar

It was a wonderful, spiritual, uplifting experience just to be in the presence of all the angels and saints and the physical beauty of this church.  I can only think … do all those who gather here each Sunday know the beauty that they’re sitting in, appreciate it, and love it like those of us just visiting?  I sure hope so!!

Ok, well we should call it a day … Peg … Peggy??  Where are you???  img_2590 Yep, I found her … in the confessional … again!!  Haha!!

Talk to you tomorrow!

 

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Going Up Anyone?

PS:  I heard from several of you that my pictures were not loading to your devices.  I have taken them all out and put them all back in to see if it will work this time.  So if you go back to the previous post (use the left pointing arrow below this post), hopefully this time you can see the pictures.  I’m crossing my fingers this is working! 

Well, after a good night’s sleep and some yummy homemade breakfast (which for Landon, means Apple Jack’s cereal, no milk!!), we’re off to mass.  We took the boys to Old St. Pat’s because it’s close by and has a beautiful environment.  Not sure what they thought about it though …

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img_2019That’s better Lan …

Now, take a look at the area above the altar.  See all the beautiful white filigree pattern?  That is all around the church and so intricate and delicate that when you get up close to it you can see that it’s absolutely stunning work.  But, do you notice anything else about their altar?  Um … Yep, that’s good ol’ St. Patrick right up there, front and center behind the altar.  Now, continue looking around … do you see Jesus?  Yep, that’s Him, over in the corner on a little cross.  That’s how they did it back in the day when a specific ethnic group built a church.  St. Patrick’s is the oldest catholic parish in the city, and it was the only parish to survive the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.  Here’s what they boast:

“Since its founding by Irish immigrants on Easter morning in 1846, Old St. Patrick’s has been interwoven in the life and history of the City of Chicago … The cornerstone was laid on May 23, 1853, and the building was dedicated on Christmas Day, 1856.”

Those Irish love their guy … woops, I mean their God!  Hehe!!  Ok boys, let’s keep going!!

On our walk back to the apartment, we pass by that BIG … TALL … building … yep, the Sear’s Tower (aka the willis tower).  The boys are up for the challenge!  They are ready to go … UP UP UP to the 104th floor to see the sights from the 4-sided glass box that hangs away from the building, over the street, 104 floors up.  Ok boys, we’ll wait right down here for you!

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Good luck and God Speed boys!

And off they go!!  After an almost 3 HOUR WAIT (apparently there are lots of line inside the building that make it look like not too many people are waiting from the outside!  What a scam!), this is what we get:

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I’m not sure what the draw is for this tourist trap, and thankfully, I’ll never find out!  But the boys had a great time and checked it off their bucket list!

After all that waiting around, it was just about time for our 5:00 dinner reservation at the hottest spot in Chicago since … oh I don’t know, 1871??  (Hehe!  Get it — Chicago Fire in 1871??!!)  A great little place that was featured on “The Food Network” with a young, new talented executive chef named Stephen Gillanders.  Stephen was chosen from one of the network’s challenge shows to head up a restaurant called “Intro” as a way to get new chefs into the business and help them to learn to run their own restaurant.  Intro generally gives the winning chef a 3-month stint at the restaurant as the executive chef in charge of … well, everything!!!  And why do we care about any of this???  Because Stephen just happens to be Andrew’s cousin!!  Yes, he is!!  How cool is that??  So, you can bet we were excited to be heading that way!  But first, we gotta get there!!  Let’s go boys!

The “22 Clark Street” bus is our way of heading up and down the Loop.  It’s also a great way to actually see what’s out there, rather than taking the “Red Line” which is the subway and you don’t see anything.  So another city experience for the boys … the “RTD” (whoa, I’m dating myself!) … or here in Chicago, the “CTA,” also known as the Chicago Transit Authority.  It is connected to all the subways and El lines and every ride costs $2.25 with a transfer adding on .25 cents!!  Now that’s what I call a public transit system!!

img_2061And I know this is a dumb question but … is anyone hungry?  You bet!!

After a 20 minute ride uptown, we arrive at “Intro” and we can tell this is going to be good.  We go inside and are greeted by the hostess.  “Do you have a reservation?”  “You bet!”  “Oh, you’re Chef Stephen’s guests!  Well right this way!”  And it gets even better from there!!

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I have no idea what anything was called “officially” from the menu, but I can tell you that we were in foodie heaven with all the delightful plates that were being brought to the table!  It was like a non-stop conveyor belt of food!  Be sure you’re not hungry when you look at these pics … you are gonna start drooling!!

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A fried rice ball with a tasty sauce … 

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Oysters on the half shell from all over!

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Me first!! 

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That went by way too fast!

Now for some more  of the plates that kept showing up  …

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I don’t even like shrimp and this was AMAZING!!

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Do you agree with me that each and every plate is a fabulous work of art?  It was almost too hard to eat because you didn’t want to ruin the beauty of their work!  Oh, but don’t you worry … we did.  We ate each and every morsel, swiping our fingers when no one was looking!  You bet we did!

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Chef Stephen does a fabulous job there, making sure that every single bite is filled with enough flavor to send you to food heaven!  But, we didn’t want to stay there too long because we knew this was coming …

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Every dessert that was on their menu ended up on our table!  Holy Cow it was fabulous!!!  As much as we wanted it to linger on … I’m pretty sure it took us about 2 whole minutes to powder these babies off!  Deliciousness at its best!!

We were so spoiled by Chef Stephen and his staff that we didn’t want to leave … “Um, can we just sleep here for a while and then you can feed us again?”

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Thanks to the generosity of the Cote Family and Chef Stephen, we had a wonderful Chicago Foodie Experience where we actually knew the Chef (well, Andrew is related to him, but now we’re best buds!  How fun is that?).  By the way, after Chef Stephen’s 3 month stint, the restaurant was so impressed with him, they asked him to stay on as their permanant Executive Chef!  Now you know this guy’s good, right??  You’re coming to Chicago?  Put this one on your “MUST EAT THERE” list!!!  You won’t regret it!

Well that was a pretty good second day, don’t you agree?  Come on boys, let’s go home!

Talk to you tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

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The Boys Are Back in Town!

Yep, we got a housefulla boys this week!!  And what a week it was!!  Who knows what you’ll end up doing or what you’ll end up talking about with two recent high school grads??  It was fabulous, let me tell you!  We were so happy that Landon, our Godson, and his buddy, Andrew, wanted to come to Chicago for their “graduation celebration trip!”  And he thought it was his gift??  What a gift it was for Eddie and I to share a week with these two amazing young men.

We all flew back to Chicago from La Verne on the 6:30 a.m. flight, so we arrived in Chicago and back at the apartment about 2:30 p.m.  Does anybody (besides me) need a nap before we start our day?  “Um No Nina, we’re good!”  So, first stop, of course, was lunch.  They arrived hungry and ready to begin their “Chicago Foodie Experience.”  So off we went …

 

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If you remember, Landon was here with us last summer with the entire Haller gang, so he had a few of his “favorites” in mind.  Lunch at Portillos was the opportunity to share with Andrew the Chicago local favorite …Italian Beef Sandwiches.  Two growing boys, they can eat a lot!

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I don’t think Lan was quite ready to leave, even though he had devoured the poor sandwich!  Stop eating now?  I don’t think so!!

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I say, “Let’s go back to the apartment and rest since you guys have been up since 4:30 a.m. California Time.”  They say, “Sure Nina, whatever you say!”  Haha!!

Here’s their idea of resting …

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A friendly game of basketball out in our “backyard” BB courts.  And once they got started, they were not going to give up their competitive game of “PIG” …

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P – I – G … I win!!!  Way to go Andrew!  I’m sure there will be a re-match at least everyday during the week.

After all that time “working out” and then a short (very short!) rest, we decided to go take Andrew to another of Landon’s favorites … Chicago Style Pizza!!  So, off we went …

As we strolled through the park, we came upon the famous, the fabulous, the fantastic … Taste of Chicago!

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You might remember last year that I indulged in a “Lobster Corn-dog” that was the best thing I have ever tasted … on a stick!!  Well I searched and searched and, unfortunately, it wasn’t to be found anywhere!  WAHHHHHH … oh well, maybe next year!

We decided to continue on our quest for pizza.  But first, we wanted to show the boys the famous “Buckingham Fountain” because during the winter, the city completely refurbished the beautiful fountain, making it even more spectacular than it was when we arrived here.  It may not look different to you, but to us, it is just sparkling and bright and beautiful!

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Close by the fountain is the lake that looks like an ocean and we had to show Andrew the enormous magnitude of this thing.  Every single time I see it, I just marvel at its size.  As a side note, Eddie & I were on a tour recently and this is what we learned about Lake Michigan with regard to the amount of ships that have sunk in the lake:

The bottom of Lake Michigan is literally a graveyard of shipwrecks. Local maritime historians say 1,200 of the 2,000 sunken vessels in Lake Michigan no longer exist because they hit shore and broke apart.

Experts add that about 360 wrecks have been found in the lake’s deeper water, but there are still many wrecks out there that remain undiscovered.

Anyway, we were  happy that Andrew was impressed by this little lake that looks like an ocean because obviously, we are!!

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After Nino answered all the boys’ questions about “The Meaning of Life” and putting our tosies in the water, we were ready for dinner!  There’s no question here … Lou Malnatis is waiting for us!!  We’ll take a EXTRA LARGE, EXTRA DEEP, EXTRA MEAT, EXTRA CHEESE, EXTRA EXTRA Pizza!  Oh yes we will!

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Well boys, that’s just about all we can cram in to our stomachs and our first “half day” since we arrived this afternoon – don’tcha think??  Hopefully with all this food in their bellies, they’ll have a good night’s sleep.  We got lots more to “cram” in this week!  “Goodnight Landon” “Goodnight Nina” … “Goodnight Andrew”  “Goodnight Nina”

Talk to you tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

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Third Time’s a Charm!

Well, I really hate it when you guys leave, but it “sorta” makes up for it when someone else is on the way!  So, before the girls left, we spent our last day cramming as many things as we could into the day.  We took the bus down to visit the Museum of Science and Industry …

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It was a crazy windy day!

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Then back up to the Art Institute …

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and finally, made a wish at the fountain inside the famous Marshall Field’s Department Store (which is really Macy’s but nobody calls it that!) …

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We’re hoping our wishes of them returning soon come true!  These two crazy girls are a bunch of fun when they’re together and there’s not a moment to miss!  They are a blessing to one another and also to us!  But alas, the time came.  We sent them off with hugs and kisses and said, “so long” to Marissi and Choochie … see you again soon!!

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But then … guess who’s back???  In the very next moment, we were able to say, “Welcome Back” to Tina!!

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Woohoo!  My exploring buddy is back!  Tina was able to make her way back to us in between work trips out here in the “Mid West”!  This is her third time to visit us, and by now, she knows the city almost as well as I do!

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On the first day, we started with Tina’s favorite morning beverage … a “cup of Joe” … or in this case, an “Affogato,” which I learned is Italian for “dessert for breakfast”!  Haha!!  Since I had no idea what she was drinking, I had to look it up!  Here’s what I found:

An affogato (Italian, “drowned”) is a coffee-based dessert. It usually takes the form of a scoop of vanilla gelato or ice cream topped with a shot of hot espresso. Some variations also include a shot of amaretto, Bicerin or other liqueur. It is considered one drink, not a combination of coffee and ice cream.

I gotta give it to her though, because this place is soooo cute!!  It’s literally on a brick stoned alley, in a brick building, in a space about 5 feet wide.  If you don’t know it’s there, you will miss it … and believe me … a lot of people know it’s there!!  For you coffee lovers out there, you’re going to want to hit up this place!

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After she filled up, we continued by taking a walk through the park to make our way “up town” … the park is in full “spring” mode, which by the way, my allergies are not at all happy about!  But, the flowers are beautiful and the buds on the trees make you remember that life is about change.

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When we reached the river, Tina and I hopped on the famous (and fun) Architectural River Tour for my “first tour” of this season!  By the time you get here, I’ll be a pro at it!

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It was such a lovely day and a perfect one to be on the river.  Yes, I know my hair is crazy, but that’s because there was a little wind on the river … and you know my hair has a mind of it’s own!!

After our tour, we needed a little protein so we headed over to our favorite little “Shake Shack” for some tasty burgers and fries!

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In the summer, those big glass “garage doors” behind us will go up and the sunshine comes in!  These Chicago stomps sure know how to make the best of their “in and out” spaces!!

Next stop?  The Fourth Presbyterian Church.  You know, that place famous for the movie, “Four Weddings and a Funeral.”  Tina wanted to check out the architecture since we had just been on the tour and we felt like experts.

Architectural Overview

Since 1914, more than 8 million people have entered under the carved stone tympanum over the Michigan Avenue entrance to Fourth Presbyterian Church.

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The “tympanum” is the arched stone carving that sits above the doors.  I didn’t know it was such a big deal or I would have taken pictures of it for you.  Apparently, I was more impressed with the inside.

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After all that exploring, we logged over 20,000 steps and met up with Eddie at a new chicken joint for dinner.

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The Roost – Carolina Kitchen” is The Place to Eat Fried Chicken!!  Let me just say that for those of us who are “Donahue’s Chicken” fans, well, this one takes the coop!!  OMG, their fried chicken is to die for!  And their biscuits, you ask???  I cannot think of a better homemade southern biscuit that I’ve ever eaten!!  I’m not sure if you can see, but Tina caught Eddie and I in the window, both snapping pictures of our food.  Frankly, I’m surprised she didn’t catch us stuffing our faces!!  Oh well, it would have been worth it!  HAHA!

It was a great way to start our visit!  But we have so much more to see!!

Ok, talk to you tomorrow!

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Our First 2016 Visitor!

Hi Guys,

I know it’s been a while but apparently nobody visits during the winter in Chicago!  What a bunch of wimps!!  Well it’s been a very different kind of winter for us, and by all standards, a very mild Chicago winter for the locals.  So we have been doing some exploring on the weekends, taking in the surrounding areas of this great Midwestern part of the country!  We have been blessed that we are able to get out and go on the weekends when the weather has agreed with our plans!  But finally, our first guest of 2016 has arrived!  Our God-daughter, Marissa, joined us for a couple of weeks to take in the city.

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It was a “weird weather” time while she was here … for a few days we were in the 60’s and hot, and then it would plummet to the 30’s, and then back up into the 50’s.  So, we all agreed she got both a Chicago Winter and a Chicago Spring in the weeks she was with us!

Marissi is our “Get Out and Go Girl” so we did a lot of exploring, and walking, and dancing, and eating!  We started the week out by just getting out into the city so she could get familiar with it.  So off we went!

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We stopped to chat with the South Lion at the Art Institute and continued north to Millennium Park.

We checked out the park where the symphony will play (remember … free evening concerts in the summer??) to see how the grass was coming along.

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Then, kept going up and over the river  to …

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… hop on the famous “Double Decker Tour Bus” so that she could get a bird’s eye view of the city.  Check out the reflection of the sky and clouds on the building behind (and above) Crate & Barrel.  Isn’t that pretty?

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After that long, hard tour, we needed some refreshment.  So we walked back down State Street (I love this street!) to the amazing “Magnolia Bakery”!!

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Marissi couldn’t quite make up her mind … hmmm … cupcake or banana pudding??  Oh well, let’s try both!  Haha!!

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We also made a quick pit stop at Ghiradelli’s just because.  I promise you we did NOT have any free samples there … well at least I think we didn’t!

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After a long day of exploring, we decided to go home and relax.  So we made a quick grocery stop and then headed home.  Marissi is a great cook, so she was ready to fill up a cart and go home and cook up a storm!

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The next morning, we were ready for our day at … The Field Museum!  You absolutely cannot miss a chance to take a picture with our “Sue” … we wouldn’t want to make her unhappy now would we??

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Now, the Field also has a brand new exhibit that I have never seen in person before, and that I have been wanting to see for years!!  The Terracotta Warriors have made their way to Chicago!  I know we’ve all seen the NatGeo documentaries on this amazing discovery in China, but to see it up close and personal is pretty fabulous!  I can’t begin to explain to you what I learned, but here’s what the Field says about it on their website:

“China’s First Emperor, Qin Shihuang, planned to spend his afterlife buried in a palatial tomb, surrounded by all his worldly treasures. To guard his mausoleum, he commissioned an army of terracotta warriors unlike anything seen before or since.”

The “palatial tomb” is over a mile long and wide, and it is literally a city full of life-sized characters … animals, plants, government workers, and warriors … in fact, everything that the Emperor thought that he would want or need in the afterlife is in his tomb.  They have discovered over 8,000 terracotta figures.  Here are some free samples for you!

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Every single face and uniform is unique.  They were hand carved, not molded in any way.  Also, they would have been painted in their original form.  Here’s what they believe they would have looked like at the time they were buried:

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It’s really hard to imagine or convey, so you will really need to see it for yourself!  When are you coming again?  If for some reason you can’t see it in Chicago, you will need to see it somewhere!  To think that someone actually built a full city complete with inhabitants, and then buried it with him, is truly incredible.  You have got to see this!!

We spent the full afternoon trying to take this all in and when we left, we took a quick stroll by the lake.  It was a little overcast, but I was able to catch an airplane in the clouds so I think it’s a cool picture!!

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Another full day so back home we went to make a pot of lentil soup … it was delicious and warm and just right after our recent discoveries! Stanley and Marissi 024The next day, we had a lot to do before we welcomed our 2nd guest of 2016!!  Choochie was due to land at noon so we had to be ready for her!  Choochie and Marissi have been best friends since they were born, so anytime they have a chance to explore together, they do!  These two girls have been backpacking all over Europe and South America in their days as “starving students who wanted to see the world.”  So get ready Chicago when they’re both in town!

The next morning, we got up early and headed out … Navy Pier was Marissi’s next destination!  It was a great time to visit the Pier because 1) there was no one there (apparently not a winter hot spot for tourists!); and 2) we found a stained glass exhibit!  At the very end of the pier, right before you walk off into the lake that looks like an ocean, there is another “exhibit” … a life-sized bronze Bob Newhart statue with his famous couch from the old t.v. series “The Bob Newhart Show.”  Bob was a native Chicagoan so they have built this in his honor.  Marissi decided to give him a dose of his own medicine!!

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On our way back to the top of the pier, we discovered a little teeny sign that said, “Stained Glass Exhibit This Way” and I said, “What?  I’ve never seen this before!”  So we followed the signs and found a little teeny room that housed some of the “Tiffany Studios” stained glass.

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We had the exhibit all to ourselves and we were able to really reflect on the beauty of the stained glass, learn about how they were created, and the significance of each glass.  This was truly a gift.  I had no idea that “Tiffany” first created glass and then in his later years, moved to jewelry.

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Here are a few more to share with you … until you come out here and see them for yourselves!!

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Obviously the quality of my “phone” shots are not really worthy of their beauty in person.  But I wanted to show you another cultural opportunity given to the people of Chicago for no cost.  I’m not sure how the City of Chicago does all these types of things, but they do … and I’m glad!

We finished just in time to take a quick red line train down to the station to meet Choochie!  And … here she comes …

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These girls are gonna have me running wild … so I’m going home to take a nap!

Talk to you tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

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Finally … Caught Up and Happy New Year!!

Well gang, believe it or not, I’m finally caught up … a little out of order sometimes, but I have officially recorded all of our visitors and visits, from June to December here in Chicago.  This experience has been amazing and Eddie and I feel blessed to be able to do this.  If you haven’t been here for a visit yet, get it on your calendar (and ours!) for 2016!  It’s a great city and there’s so much more for us to explore … hopefully with you!

We want to do a little re-cap here with some pictures that didn’t make it on a post.  We hope you enjoy our 2015 “Wrap Up” …

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We hope you enjoyed those!  We started with my flight in and then my first official day in Chicago, which happened to be the day the city was having a giant party for the Blackhawks, celebrating their Stanley Cup Championship, and ending with our Christmas weekend, taking in the new Star Wars movie on Saturday.  2016 promises lots more pictures!!

I found this prayer and wanted to share it with you for the New Year!

Yes Amen.:

May this year, 2016 (can you believe it’s 2016?!?!), bring you and yours peace, love, reconciliations if needed, and many happy memories!  We will keep you in our prayers every day until we see you face to face (either here in Chicago or home in La Verne!).

We love you!  HAPPY NEW YEAR GANG!!  

I’ll talk to you next year!  😉

 

 

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