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


The entire ceiling looks like this!  


Ceiling over the Altar


Curved walls behind the Altar


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



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


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??






Tabernacle behind Altar






Organ … again a million pipes


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!



Culture? Or Food?

That is the question!!  Today we decided that we should take full advantage of the culture in the city.  I’m not sure how many total museums are in the downtown area of the city but I’ve been to … The Field, The Art Institute, The Museum of Science and Industry, The Photography Museum, The Military Museum, The Driehaus Museum, The Chicago History Museum and a couple more that I can’t remember right now!  So, with two young, bright, sponge-brained kids, this is the place to be!

Andrew:  I’d really like to see the Art Institute.

Nina:  (Speaking about a thousand words per minute) Ok, it’s so beautiful, you’re gonna love it, there are so many things to see in there, the sculptures on the bottom floor, the Italian marble, they have a wonderful lounge, don’t miss the gardens, and oh, the Stock Exchange Room is fabulous!!

Alrighty then, let’s go!  img_2176There are so many different galleries and exhibits at the Art Institute that every time I go, I try to see something new.  But if you’re only there for a day (or less), the museum offers you a self-guided “Important Pieces to See in an Hour” tour which I’ve tried on many occasions to see in an hour and I’ve never been able to do it.  Mostly because it says, “Ok, go to Number 1.”  You’re walking there and on the way you see … Ooooohhhh ahhhhh, it’s so beautiful and then you continue walking and you see … OMG, that was fabulous, and then you finally get to where you’re supposed to be and it’s stunning … absolutely stunning.  And look … look at the rest of the pieces in this room!  Yeah, it’s pretty much impossible.  You get way too distracted and when the hour mark arrives, you’ve seen 2 of the “most important” and 15 of the other “fabulous” and it’s just not gonna happen.  But, we try our best every time!

img_2134It’s always fun to watch other people enjoy the paintings as much as I do.  The sculptures, the statues, and the history surrounding them is one of my favorite parts of the Institute.  Andrew did his best to see the “Important Pieces” – he was on a quest!

Here’s a marble piece of the Pieta, but with a different look because it’s actually carved on a flat surface, except for the bench at the bottom and the dimensional parts that are “coming out” from the flatness of the marble tile.


I love this piece because of the way the angels are attending to Jesus and Mary.  It’s not a large piece.  If I remember correctly, it is only about 12 x 18 inches.  It’s so life-like when you are looking at Mary’s robe and the cloth surrounding Jesus, it’s as if you could touch it and feel the fabric.  The detailing is just exquisite to me.  For me, it’s quite moving.

Then, right next to this piece, is a painting of the same piece.  Take a look …


Again, the detail is amazing and it makes you feel as if, like the marble piece above, it’s a multi-dimensional piece that you could actually touch and feel the cloth, the angels’ wings, and even the weeping women in the background.  Isn’t it fabulous?  This is why it takes me an hour to see one piece!!  Once I’m there, it’s so hard to leave.

Ok, Ok, I know we’ve got a lot more to see …

img_2173We make our way to the outside gardens to sit a bit before we continue on our day.  This garden is right outside the Art Institute on Michigan Avenue … smack in the middle of a gazillion tourists.  But, when you enter the gates, it is instantly quiet and cool and very peaceful.  I really enjoy taking a break from my walks in this little sanctuary.

While we were gone, our 4th boy of the week arrives.  He had an early flight that morning, so when we got back to the apartment, you can see that he was busy checking his text messages.  img_2186

That’s Compa Mike … always working … even when his eyes are closed!!  Haha!!

Mike was here last summer so he had a few of his favorite places that he wanted to hit right away.  First stop … Devil Dawgs for the best Chicago style hot dog around!  Landon is right on his toes because Landon became a Chicago style dog lover last summer too!

img_2182This is what you call, “dragging it through the garden” because of the stuff (veggies) that they put inside the bun.  Some crazy neon green sweet relish, onions, sport peppers, tomato slices, dill pickle spear, mustard and finally a generous sprinkle of celery salt.  Who knew all this junk would make a meal people would enjoy?


As you can see, they thoroughly enjoyed their “snack.”  And when I say “snack,” I mean a regular sized lunch for anybody else, but for them … a snack!  Growing boys!

After the snack, we take a nice walk around the block to see the park and then head back to the apartment.  We’re waiting for Eddie to get home because tonight we’re going to a BBQ … a “Bub City BBQ” that is!

This place is known for their meats but tonight they are also known for their “Whiskey Flights.”  Compa and Eddie had a few little tastes of the stuff.


They give you enough to wet your whistle and if you’re a wimp like me, a good sniff of it will do!  The boys (the BIG BOYS that is) loved this opportunity to taste and will be back here again for another “tasting” … Of the whiskey that is!

The pre-dinner drinks added to their healthy appetite … just a bit, I’d say!!


I don’t know if I can remember all we ate, but here’s a smidgen of it … a rack of ribs Louisiana Style, hot wings, a “country nacho” plate, brisket, tater tots, fried okra, and a bunch of other tasty little goodies!

img_2194img_2192img_2196I just love the tater tots in ranch dressing, smokey brisket, and their “sweet tea” to wash it all down!  This is another fun place to eat, listen to good country music, and apparently, have a flight of whiskey with some delicious food!


After our amazing BBQ dinner, we had to top that off with an equally amazing dessert … but not from Bub City … no we had to walk off some of that dinner first before we indulged in …

FIRECAKES!!  It’s just a little ol’ donut place in Chicago that gets crazy reviews for delicious donuts!  The boys just couldn’t pass it up!




Decisions, decisions, decisions!!  Well, they finally got what they wanted and as you can see, with pretty big smiles on their faces!

As we continued our walk home, we stopped to watch a night river tour boat pass us by as they enjoyed a beautiful night on the river.  We, with our full bellies and sweet tooth satisfied, also enjoyed the evening with the brilliant lights and cool summer breeze. It really was pretty darn perfect.


I can’t believe it’s been a week and my boys have to leave … but we’ve had a blast!  Wanna have a great time on a summer get-away-exploration-do everything vacation?  I suggest grabbing a couple of young men who are by far the perfect gentlemen and exceptional travel partners to make your trip even better!  I am not sure who had more fun this week … me or the boys.  Eddie and I are blessed to have Landon as our Godson and Andrew as part of our “posse”!  I’m the luckiest Nina there is!img_2216“Bye Boys.”

“Bye Nina.”

You know I’m crying my eyes out now!

Ok, talk to you tomorrow.



Time to Go …

Well it was the last day with our “tornado” so we took the day by horns and set out to find some new places!  Eddie really wanted to go back to the “Marketplace” so we found a free trolley to hop on and go go go!

The French Market

The French Market

The shopping there is so unique and there are tons of different options of things to eat, to buy, to sample, to try and so … we did!  We got some organic apples, some cheese, some ice cream … you name it, we tasted it!  But, we couldn’t get too full … because we were on our way to “Green Street Meats” … another fabulous restaurant with an outdoor space that was really cool.  We needed to get lunch because Choochie’s plane left in the afternoon and, of course, her dad wanted to make sure she had enough food to last her til she got home!

Meats is a barbeque joint in the same neighborhood as the tea place.  So the “Near West Side” neighborhood.  That whole little neighborhood is really cool.  It is where the original meat packer warehouses were so there are a lot of butchers and delis and bakery shops that are original to their family roots from the early 1900’s.

Well we stood in line and placed our order and then, waiting patiently amid the most amazing smells, we drooled.  And watched and “ooohhed” and “ahhhhhed” as other people got their meals delivered to them.  That was agony … and then … ours!!  OMG it looked delicious, smelled delicious and tasted delicious.  Fresh, hot, barbequed meats … WOW!

Chu September 2015 (8)

Frito Pie with smoked brisket, rib tips, mac and cheese, and pulled pork sandwich.

Smoked salmon ... one of my favorite meals!

Smoked salmon … one of my favorite meals!

And here’s another thing about these Chicagoans and their food … they serve tons of it!!  Everything is just piled on and you could literally share one meal with about 4 people!  We are learning to do that but when everyone wants to taste something different … well you know what happens then!

In any event, we had yet another fabulous meal (that should keep Choochie full for the whole next day!) and a great afternoon of exploring.  We took the train back to our apartment to get her loaded up for her flight home.  When the time came for her to go, we walked her around the corner to the “Orange Line” and sent her on her way.

Gosh, I hate it when you guys leave!!  Ok, talk to you tomorrow!!