Gone to the Dogs

On past trips to Chicago, we’ve seen a few “K-9s for Cops” art installations around the city…this time, we saw a few more in a place we had never previously been!

I love finding cool public art installations!

The Markel Family Returns to Chicagoland–Day Two

The second day of our trip was the one I was most looking forward to, because after three long years, we were finally going to go back to Chicago! The weather forecast wasn’t promising, but in the end, although it was quite cool, the rain lifted, and that was good enough for us. We got to leave from a new-to-us Metra station (Palatine), so we saw a bunch of different suburbs on our way downtown.

The sights that greeted us were just like I remembered:

It was so good to be back!

Bunny took some time to feed some pigeons:

And one even photobombed her!

Mostly, we just walked around and took it all in. It was so much fun to see all of our favorite places (and some new ones), and we even stopped to listen to a street musician (who was very talented!) for a bit. The only thing we didn’t get to do that I would have liked was see Buckingham Fountain and Lake Michigan, but it was very windy, and that was in the opposite direction of the other stuff we had planned, so I settled on seeing a sliver of my lake from a distance.

We walked up the Magnificent Mile to Water Tower Place, something new for us. We stopped in to see the big American Girl store and the Lego Store (two of our favorite places):

We also spent some time in Jane Byrn Park by the historic Water Tower:

After that, we made our way to the Plaza of the Americas so we could visit the “Wings of Mexico” art installation, which is “a symbol of the immigrant journey and celebrates Chicago as a sanctuary city.” Moose didn’t care to have his picture taken, but us gals couldn’t resist!

No visit to Chicago would be complete without a stop at the former Marshall Field’s on State Street to buy a box of Frango Mints!

And then we made our way back to the train and said goodbye to my favorite city. The last time I said goodbye, I assumed I’d be back “soon.” Three years later, and without Turkey joining us because he was working Combo Breaker the whole day, I finally made it back. I really hated to leave, and I’ll never take it for granted again.

Back at the hotel, Combo Breaker had begun, so we spent some time on the floor, taking in all those sights, too.

We also enjoyed playing some of the arcade games they had set up, including Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and Donkey Kong.

We couldn’t resist another walk outside, where the evening light was perfect. Also, we enjoyed watching muskrats swim in the hotel ponds…who knew?!?

We also found time for one more evening swim…it wasn’t quite the same as swimming under the stars at Pheasant Run’s outdoor pool, but it was still fun!

One last look before bed:

Up next…a full day of Combo Breaker!

Chickadee Thursday

Last week, we finally made it back to Chicago! Chickadee was excited to ride the train in the city again:

We visited the big American Girl store at Water Tower Place:

She got a picture with the statue of “Mr. Chicago,” Irv Kupcinet:

And she had fun playing Pac-Man at Combo Breaker:

It was so much fun to travel up north again!

Sartorial Saturday–National Dress

Today I’m taking a look at something completely different!

I have always loved national dress, from Norway’s bunad to the sari of South Asia. And I have long lamented the fact the the US really doesn’t have ethnic dress, unless you count jeans (which I don’t). But my ethnic heritage (Austrian and German) does have a traditional garment for women in the form of the dirndl, something I have long wanted to add to my wardrobe, and Ryan bought me a purple and floral one for an early Christmas present!

This beautiful dirndl is from Rare Dirndl, a small business located in Chicago (where else?!?). It consists of a purple dress and a gorgeous floral print apron, and I’m wearing it with a Rare Dirndl puff sleeve, lace-trim blouse. Also, the best clothing designers know that women want pockets in their dresses, and Rare Dirndl is no exception!

The details on the dress are amazing (look at the pleated trim around the neckline and the piping down the front!), and the workmanship is outstanding (check out how well the hooks on the front are sewn on, and with such a beautiful color of thread, too…it almost looks like they’re set with gemstones!). The print of the apron is fantastic, too…it has a metallic sheen, and the colors are so vibrant…and the strings are actually long enough to fit me properly, which was a huge concern of mine. It is seriously the most well-made and best fitting dress I have ever had (and I have a lot of dresses!).

To accessorize, I added a purple fedora and a petticoat with a lace edge meant to be seen:

I added a leather Edelweiss clip to my hat (also from Rare Dirndl), and then moved it to my hair, just for fun. It can also be worn as a brooch…I love a versatile accessory!

Here’s a look at the whole outfit sans hat:

Rare Dirndl also offers some lovely jewelry, and many of the pieces feature Edelweiss, a flower often associated with Austria. The scalloped necklace is so delicate and beautiful, and I love the pop of color of the wrap bracelet! (I added one of my Lake Michigan HOMES bracelets in a coordinating color, since I’m celebrating my heritage.)

I’m ready to twirl my way through the Alps!

This is my first dirndl, but it won’t be last…I’m already waiting for my second Rare Dirndl dress to arrive! Erika was such a huge help in answering all of my questions and making sure I got the dirndl of my dreams, so I’m really excited to support her small business again! It’s really not a jump for me to go from retro dressing to ethnic dressing, because they both include a nod to the past in a new, modern way, so I feel comfortable wearing this outfit not just to German events (I can’t wait to style it for Belleville’s Christkindlmarkt in a few weeks), and it’s definitely not a costume item to me. I’m looking forward to sharing more photos of my national dress(es) as I style them in different ways throughout the seasons!

Tasty Tuesday–Chicago-Style Hot Dogs

If you’ve never had a Chicago-style hot dog, you’re really missing out!

What makes a Chicago dog so special? It’s an all-beef hot dog topped with mustard, white onions, a pickle spear, sliced tomatoes, sport peppers, neon relish, and celery salt (in other words, you “drag it through the garden”), and served on a poppy seed bun (which are hard to find around here, so I had to settle for plain old hot dog buns this time). The most important step? Never, ever put ketchup on your hot dog! I’m not a huge fan of regular hot dogs, but there’s something really fantastic about the flavors of the Chicago dog…I’m very thankful I can usually find most of the ingredients locally!

Home for the Holidays

I have to admit, as much as I love this time of year, I’ve kind of been dreading the holidays. Most of what we would normally do (or I had planned special for Turkey’s and Bunny’s senior year of high school), has either been cancelled or just isn’t doable in the midst of a global pandemic. Thanks COVID-19. But there are some new and different things that we’re doing to make some unique memories this year, and one of them arrived yesterday.

Like so many other things, the Christkindlmarket in Chicago has been cancelled. Now, we weren’t planning on going to Chicago this year at Christmastime, but knowing it (and Belleville’s Christmas market), had been cancelled bummed me out. So when I heard that they were going to offer some special boxes for a “Home for the Holidays” celebration, I thought I should check it out.

I chose to get the “A Few of Our Favorite Things” box. The main attraction, in my opinion, was two Christkindlmarket mugs (and a packet of glühwein spices), but there were other goodies in the box including a candle that smells just like Christmas and a bonus box of European chocolates.

Now, this won’t replace our favorite Christmas activities, and it represents something we hadn’t even had on the schedule for this year. But I feel good about supporting one of my favorite Chicago Christmas attractions, and it’s something fun that will make a special memory in a very strange year!

Quote of the Day

They were talking about ribs in this episode of M*A*S*H, but this pretty much describes how I feel about Portillo’s!

“I’d walk to Chicago on my knees in the snow for a takeout order.” Joseph Stern as Master Sgt. Tarola in M*A*S*H