Our second day of our trip to Chicagoland was the one that is always the most exciting to me, because it was the day we took the train from Palatine into the city!
When we arrived downtown, we started walking east toward Millennium Park. Of course Bunny had to feed the pigeons along the way!
We visited the Bean:
There may have been less people in our selfie than in previous years, but they’ve all gotten so big, you still couldn’t see much behind us!
We walked down to the lakefront:
And Buckingham Fountain:
I never tire of visiting Chicago and noticing new things and seeing old favorites!
We dropped Bunny off at the Art Institute so she could see the new Van Gogh exhibit…here’s a look at a few of the pictures she took there:
Then we walked along the Chicago Riverwalk for the first time, where I got a great look at my “corn on the cob” buildings:
After we had taken in the sights there, we headed back up Michigan Avenue toward the Wrigley Building and the Plaza of the Americas, where I was surprised to find that the “Wings of Mexico” art installation we saw last year was still on display:
We stopped at Ghirardelli and shared a frozen hot chocolate:
After we collected Bunny, we headed to Marshall Field’s (sorry…Macy’s), where I was happy to see some references to the old store:
Saying goodbye to the city is never easy!
After we got, we moved some of our stuff into the third hotel room we had for the weekend, and then checked out some of the action at Combo Breaker, but we reserved Saturday for really participating…say tuned!
I don’t know how much actual wisdom I’ve shared with my children, but I have realized that there are five things I tell them regularly, and that’s probably as close to passing on wisdom as I get!
“It’s nice to be nice.”–This is probably my most-repeated phrase, and I think it’s also the most useful. I hope I’ve taught my children to be kind to others, even when others aren’t kind to them. And I hope they never decide to finish the saying à la Frank Burns in M*A*S*H…”to the nice.”
“Ganache covers a multitude of sins.”–I came up with this saying once when a bundt cake I baked (probably our favorite Guinness cake) stuck to the pan, resulting in a less than attractive-looking cake. Luckily for me, the recipe includes a ganache that is poured over the top, and I realized that once I did that, you couldn’t tell that there had been any problem with the cake at all!
“Measure garlic with your heart.”–If ganache covering a multitude of sins is my number piece of baking wisdom, then this is my best cooking advice. A recipe can call for a certain amount of garlic, but in my experience, it’s almost never enough, and even if it is, your cloves may be a different size than used by the recipe’s author. This is one of those things where you just have to trust your instincts and measure from the heart.
“Lake Michigan is an inland sea.”–I am very protective of my favorite Great Lake, and I really hate when people act like it’s “just” a lake. When you look at its size and the way it behaves, it is hardly a simple lake, but actually a large inland sea, and should be respected as such.
“Look up.”–My final piece of advice is usually given regarding architecture, although it applies to lots of other things as well. There are so many amazing details, especially on historic buildings, that are higher than eye level, and if you don’t look up and really pay attention, you won’t ever notice them. Looking down or even straight ahead can cause you to miss out on some really great things, so take the time to look up and really see the world!
On Thursday, we chased one last wild hair of mine for the summer, and drove up to Chicago for the day. We had a few goals, starting with visiting Buckingham Fountain, which we didn’t get to do in May…it was just as grand as I remembered it!
The place we really wanted to spend time at, though, was Navy Pier, the last really big thing on my list of Chicago things to share with the Fab Five. We walked all the way around it, and we couldn’t have asked for a nicer day to do it…it was in the 70s with a beautiful lake breeze!
Seeing the anchor from the USS Chicago is kind of amazing…you just don’t realize the scale of the size of one until you see it for yourself!
The views from the Pier are amazing!
I also finally got to reunite some of my Homes Bracelets with the place they represent…Lake Michigan!
There was no way we could do all of the things, so I picked one big attraction…the Centennial Wheel. It is very similar in size to the Ferris wheel in St. Louis, but the views of the skyline and Lake Michigan are a lot more impressive than anything we have here in the Lou!
We stopped for Rainbow Cones after our ride. I really prefer the original Beverly location, because it has so much character, but the scenery made the five flavors taste even better!
We walked over to Polk Bros. Park just across the street:
We also shared a burger from the Billy Goat Tavern, just so we could say we had one:
And then we walked back through the mall and to the end of the Pier again:
I will never tire of the view!
The other big reason for our trip north was so that Bunny and I could visit the Rare Dirndl design studio, located in the Lincoln Square neighborhood, which is a really cool place! We toured the studio, did some shopping, and most importantly of all, got to meet and talk to the designer, Erika Neumayer!
On the way home, we stopped at Portillo’s, as is our tradition:
I’m not going to lie…it was a lot of time to spend in the car in one day (although we certainly had days that were longer on our vacation!), but it was worth it to get to see Chicago one more time before the end of the summer!
I’ve shared a little bit about HOMES bracelets and what they mean to me, especially during a time when I can’t travel to see my favorite Great Lake…now it’s time to appreciate how beautiful they are, and what a wonderful addition they make to my accessories collection!
I started with three bracelets (Petoskey, Sunstone, and Peacock), each with a center bead created from earth from the shores of Lake Michigan. They were a birthday gift from Ryan, and I quickly added two more blues (Torch Lake Blue and the June exclusive Robin Egg). I love wearing some or all five bracelets together.
I have paid attention to new releases on their website since then (the August exclusive, Blush, is gorgeous!), but I managed to have some restraint until I saw their new birthstone collection. The bead colors are stunning, and since they were having a buy two, get one free sale, I was able to get the three I think are the prettiest…Tourmaline, Ruby in Zoisite, and Amethyst.
The quality of these bracelets is excellent, and I appreciate that they’re available in four different sizes, from 6 to 7.5 inches in circumference. I love pairing them with different outfits…sometimes with my Splendette Duchess Bangles, and sometimes on their own.
There are so many more beautiful options available…I plan on keeping on eye on the monthly exclusives, and someday, I might even get birthstone bracelets for each of my children. I’d also really love to get a “Leland Blue” with its beautiful blue center bead, too, because that style is particularly unique and special!
When I was a kid growing up in the Chicago suburbs, not too terribly far from Lake Michigan, I always screwed up the acronym that was supposed to help you remember the Great Lakes. You know…HOMES? Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior. For some reason, my brain always thought the acronym was HOUSE, and I could never figure out which Great Lake started with “U”, completely overlooking the fact that my acronym ignored the Great Lake most local to me!
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about that a lot over the last week, since Ryan gave me these cool bracelets, each of which have a center bead composed of earth from the shores of Lake Michigan, for my birthday.
Now that I’m an adult, I don’t have any trouble remembering the names of the Great Lakes, and I love that I now have a way to carry a bit of my favorite lake with me, even during a time when I can’t travel to see it!
It’s that time of year! Time for another Markel family Memorial Day weekend getaway to Chicagoland for Combo Breaker! So I’m back with another road-trip wrap-up…but there’s just one problem. Like everything else lately, Combo Breaker was canceled, and our trip along with it. So this year, we’ll be taking a virtual trip up north, and looking at all of the plans I had made. Yes, I know this may seem pathetic or depressing to some, but I figure a virtual trip is better than no trip at all, and this will help me remember all of the things I had planned to do once we finally do get away!
So, I’m assuming we would have been up dark and early on the day we left for Chicago. I’m kind of fudging the dates we would have been gone…Ryan, and probably Turkey with him, would have left earlier in the week for set-up, and I don’t know for sure when the rest of us would have joined them, or how long we would have stayed, because Moose’s junior high graduation was supposed to fall somewhere in this time. Since they never got around to scheduling his actual ceremony, (although his virtual graduation is today!), I figured I’d just pick a reasonable amount of time for our trip starting today.
Anyway, when I drive, I like to leave super early, so that’s what we would have done. We should have arrived in the Chicago area after the bulk of rush hour passed, and we would have breezed right through the toll plazas, because we finally bought an I-PASS in January just to make this drive easier…no waiting in the cash only lanes this time!
Instead of heading to Pheasant Run Resort, which sadly closed in February, (this trip was never going to feel quite right, I guess), we would have gone to the Schaumburg Renaissance Marriott, the new location for Combo Breaker. We were really excited about checking out that hotel…from the pictures on the website, it looks pretty fancy! Hopefully we’ll get a chance to see it next year…
After lugging all of our stuff to our room (hopefully on an upper floor), and meeting up with the rest of our family, I had one big plan for the day…we were going to head even farther north for an architecture tour at SC Johnson & Son in Racine, WI. I was also really excited about doing this…it had been a possibility back in January, but the winter weather got in the way. Not only would we have gotten to enjoy mid-century modern design, (and make lots of Fibber McGee and Molly references!), but also admire Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture, which is fantastic. I’m really hoping we get around to taking that tour someday!
Maybe we would have stopped by Lake Michigan in Wisconsin before heading back to Schaumburg…that would have depended on how tired we all were after our long day. I love looking out on the lake, though, so I think we probably would have made it happen.
Once we had gotten back to the hotel and had dinner, (most likely our road trip special of summer sausage and string cheese, with a side of fruit leather), we would have hit the pool, which is always one of our favorite parts of a road trip. Did I mention how nice the hotel, including the pool area, looks? And then I’m sure we would have enjoyed some cable TV before lights out.
Up next…what should have been our big day in Chicago!
The final day of our weekend getaway was fairly low-key. We started with a trip to the Jewel to (finally) buy an I-Pass to make driving on the Chicagoland tollways a bit easier…and then proceeded not to need it at all on the way home. Oh well…at least it will be ready when we go back up in May!
We had planned to walk around the Chicago Botanic Garden on the way home, but wind chills in the single digits made that a less than appealing prospect. So instead, we stopped by the Chicago Baháʼí Temple to marvel at its architecture:
We also drove through the city, just so we could see the skyscrapers:
Of course we had to stop for a moment so I could walk along Lake Michigan. Have you ever walked on frozen sand before? It’s a weird sensation!
And, as always, we stopped for lunch at Portillo’s, where I had my favorite, the Italian beef (dipped, of course!):
So that ends another road-trip wrap-up. It was a pretty short trip compared to what we’re used to, and we didn’t get to do everything I had planned, but it was still a fun getaway!
Monday morning of our Michigan trip began with another walk along Frankenmuth’s Main Street while we waited for some of the shops to open. It is such a beautiful place!
We stopped at the Frankenmuth Cheese Haus, where we picked up a few things to try at home. It’s an amazing store!
We also visited beautiful, historic St. Lorenz:
The main event of the day, however, was stopping at Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland, A store I have wanted to shop at for years! And of course I had just the right outfit to wear:
There are many photo opportunities throughout the store, and I took advantage of several of them:
Some people say Disney is the happiest place on earth, but I think Bronner’s is. It’s always Christmas there!
We also visited their Silent Night Chapel, a reproduction of Oberndorf’s monument which stands on the site of the former St. Nicholas Church, where “Silent Night” was first sung.
All too soon, our time in Frankenmuth drew to a close, and we had to say “Auf Wiedersehen.”
Our fun for the day wasn’t over yet, though. We stopped for lunch at Big Boy!
And stopped to see beautiful Lake Michigan from its eastern shore:
And then, for the second time in less than a week, we got to eat at Portillo’s!
It was quite late by the time we reached home, but we got to cheer the St. Louis Blues to victory along the way, which helped the time pass. Look for more details about our visit to Frankenmuth in the coming days!
We were worried we would wake up to more snow on the final day of our trip up north, but instead, we were greeted by the sun for the first time since our arrival! The views from the windows in our hotel room were excellent!
It was sunny, but quite cold and windy, so we loaded up the van as quickly as possible, and then headed into Chicago to visit the Field Museum. The retreating winter storm over Lake Michigan was still apparent from the museum’s windows:
One of the main reasons for our trip to the museum was visiting Chicago’s most famous resident, Sue, the T. rex. We were not disappointed!
Because I’m me, I had to brave the cold and wind to get a look at the city skyline before we left:
As we often do, we stopped for a late lunch at Portillo’s in Bloomington on the way home.
The rest of the drive was…interesting. We ran into some unexpected snow on the way home, and the last hour of our trip was slow-going and messy. But we got home at a decent time, and the clouds even cleared out for us to see the lunar eclipse later that night! It was a fun getaway, and we’re already planning our next trip to the Chicago area!
It’s time for a look back at my top five favorite photos from 2018! They can be organized into two categories…pictures from our trips to Chicago, and pictures from the Missouri Botanical Garden.
First, a picture of the Chicago skyline from outside the Adler Planetarium in January:
And a picture of Lake Michigan from Glencoe Beach:
We were back in Chicago in May, and I loved the poppies at the Chicago Botanic Garden:
We visited Chinese Culture Days at the Missouri Botanical Garden for the first time, and the dragon was a huge hit!
Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden is always one of favorite events:
My children will accuse me of “cheating,” but I’m adding two bonus photos anyway…not necessarily because they’re great pictures, but because they have such great memories attached to them. First, this picture from our trip to Florida of Bunny at Diagon Alley, which is pretty much the happiest I’ve ever seen her:
And the picture I took of Chickadee the day we went pumpkin picking, and she got “baby porcupines” stuck to her boots. Two months later, and the memory still makes me giggle!
I’m already looking forward to the pictures I will take in 2019…I can’t wait to see what special memories I capture!