Wheaton Grand Theater

I have fond memories of seeing movies at the old Wheaton Theater when I was a child. These days, it looks a lot different, mainly because it’s currently sitting vacant, but I was happy to see that the old sign is still hanging above the marquee.

The Little Popcorn Store

Have you ever wondered where you might find what is possibly the narrowest store in the Chicagoland area?

It’s at 111 1/4 (that’s how small it is…it has 1/4 in its address!) Front Street in downtown Wheaton. The Little Popcorn Store has been at that location since 1935 when E. Claire Brown put a roof over an alleyway of his new store location, which, at 256 square feet, was over 150 square feet larger than the original store location a few doors down!

It is no joke to say that this store is narrow…and always busy! You have to go into it with the mindset that you’re going to get real cozy with the other customers, and that’s part of the charm!

Be sure to look up, and get a nice view of the ceiling, which I’m assuming dates back to the 60s based on the color scheme:

And then put your mind to choosing some candy…if you can. There are so many different varieties that it can be hard to make a choice, but it’s not really practical to buy one of everything. For the most part, each piece is 10 cents, so either way, you’re not going to break the bank!

The Fab Five and I tried to have some discretion when we went two weeks ago…I think we did ok! (I personally had to get Pop Rocks…the Little Popcorn Store is the first place I ever tried them many moons ago!)

I have fond memories of walking to the Little Popcorn Store after school, before volleyball or basketball games when I was in grade school, and I’m so glad it’s still there, because I really want the Fab Five to have the experience, too!

Markel Family Winter Weekend Getaway–Day Three

Did I mention why we were in Chicagoland in the first place? Ryan was working at/playing in the Frosty Faustings fighting game tournament. We couldn’t get free spectator passes like we have in the past at Combo Breaker, so we didn’t get to see much of the event, but we did peek in on Saturday morning:

We had more plans for Saturday, starting with a visit to Wheaton College’s campus to see the Perry mastodon and the Billy Graham Center Museum, which included a walk through “heaven:”

We also enjoyed a lunch featuring some of Chicago’s best foods at Flip’s in Glen Ellyn:

It occurred to me last year that I had been remiss in not taking the Fab Five to the Popcorn Store in downtown Wheaton, so we visited what is probably Chicagoland’s narrowest store, and picked out about $10 worth of candy to share:

Then we went back to the hotel for a little more cable TV, and a nice picture of the Fab Five:

We went to church at St. John Wheaton for the third time, but this was the first time we were there in the evening:

After church, we enjoyed a German dinner at Schnitzel Platz:

Once we were back at the hotel, we stayed awake watching Worst Cooks in America for as long as we could since it was our last night in the hotel!

Tasty Tuesday–Muldoon’s

We just got back from a long weekend in Chicagoland. One of the things I really wanted to do while we were there (if there was time), was eat at Muldoon’s in Wheaton. I’m very happy we found time!

When I was a little girl, this building housed the Wheaton Restaurant, a place where we occasionally went for breakfast after church, because church was just a few blocks away. We were sad when the Wheaton Restaurant closed, but it reopened as Cafe Wheaton, a place we frequented often for dinner when I was in high school/college. It retained the charm of the original restaurant, with an all-new menu (including one of my all-time favorite dishes, Chicken Thomas), and Wheaton history spread throughout the restaurant. There was the story of Wheaton on the menu, a photo gallery of former mayors, autographs from famous Wheaton residents, and photos from throughout Wheaton’s history everywhere you looked. I was even sadder when I heard Cafe Wheaton had closed, but intrigued when I heard it was reopening again as an Irish pub, with yet another new menu, but with the photographic history of Wheaton still on the walls. Ever since I heard about Muldoon’s, I wanted to see it for myself, and I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed. Even though the menu is completely new, there was much of the restaurant that was familiar, starting with the glass fleurs-de-lis in the entrance!

The menus, like the cloth napkins on the tables, felt fancy, but a look inside let you know that you were really in an Irish pub:

We started with an order of “Harp Strings,” which are onion strings with honey mustard sauce. They were delicious…I think I could have eaten the whole order myself! For our meal, I ordered the Dagda’s Harp burger (which had the delicious Harp Strings on it!), with a side of homemade chips. I also enjoyed a drink called the “Dublin Donkey,” which is a twist on the more famous “American Mule.” Ryan had the pretzel bacon melt and Turkey ordered his favorite kind of burger (not pictured), one with a fried egg and bacon on it. Bunny tried something completely different, and had a black and bleu salad. The rest of the children ordered off of the children’s menu, and they enjoyed their dinners, too. Everything was delicious! Turkey said his burger was the second best one he’s ever had (of course, the Seamus burger is number one), and Ryan and I agreed with him…our burgers were excellent. The homemade chips were just as good as the ones Seamus serves, too. And Bunny’s salad was amazing…I think everyone but Turkey and Moose tried it and enjoyed it. The menu was quite extensive beyond these options, including classic pub fare like shepherd’s pie and fish & chips, many kinds of mac-n-cheese, American favorites like meatloaf and chicken, and even taco platters!

I’m so glad we decided to give Muldoon’s a try. I have to admit, I was a little nervous going in, partly because I knew it wouldn’t be Cafe Wheaton, and partly because I knew that there was no way it could be as awesome as Seamus. While it wasn’t quite as good as Seamus (nothing ever will be!), it’s definitely a close second, and even though it’s not Cafe Wheaton, it was still familiar, and brought a flood of memories back. It was a great dinner out on vacation!

Seven Dwarfs

Another thing I really wanted to see when we were in Wheaton was the sign at Seven Dwarfs restaurant. I love a good retro sign, and this one definitely fits the bill!

So happy to see that this hasn’t changed…it was just like I remembered it!

Cantigny Park

We often seem to unintentionally stumble into very appropriate activities around Memorial Day each year, and our visit to Cantigny Park (the former estate of Chicago Tribune owner and publisher Colonel Robert R. McCormick, which he named after the first American battle of WWI fought near Cantigny, France), the Saturday before Memorial Day was no exception.

We started outside, where the children enjoyed climbing on the collection of tanks, and I enjoyed the serene setting:

We then toured the First Division Museum. It has changed a lot since I was last there (and is scheduled for even more improvements later this year), and I couldn’t believe how much there was to see, and how much we all learned!

Cantigny is also known for its beautiful gardens:

I found the final resting place of Colonel McCormick and his first wife to be very interesting. It was modeled after an exedra, an ancient Greek meeting place which functioned much like modern-day newspapers, as people gathered there to share the news. Such a fitting twist on an old concept for the one-time editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune!


And of course, the McCormick mansion is a highlight of any visit to Cantigny. The children loved being able to recognize a setting from one of my favorite movies, A League of Their Own. We didn’t have time to tour the inside, but even a walk around the exterior is amazing!


I’ve visited Cantigny many times in my life, and I was very glad to see that all of my favorite things were just the same as they have always been!

Old DuPage County Courthouse

When we were planning our trip to the Chicago area, one of the buildings I knew I needed to see again was the old DuPage County Courthouse building in Wheaton. When I was a child, it was a well-known, easily recognizable fixture near downtown Wheaton, and yet I never managed to take a picture of it!



Its courthouse years are long gone, but it has been repurposed as a residential building. I love that the Romanesque facade hasn’t changed, though, and it’s still the building I remembered!

Markel Family Weekend Getaway–Day Four

On day four of our weekend getaway, we started the day with church at St. John Wheaton. This is the church where I was baptized, confirmed, and married, but I had yet to see their new building. It was beautiful!



After church, we went back to the hotel to watch the end of Ryan’s Tekken Ball tournament, where he finished fifth. Not bad for his first tournament! And, because I’m me, I had to wear a Pinup Girl Jenny skirt while I was there!

We had time for one last swim in the pool, and another walk around Pheasant Run to again admire how beautiful it was. I’d love to go back someday…it was a great place to stay!


We went to dinner at Portillo’s, where, even though I enjoy a good Chicago-style hot dog, I had the Italian beef, and it was just as good as I remembered. We then went back to the hotel to enjoy a little more cable TV (including HGTV this time), while Ryan finished up at Combo Breaker.


Markel Family Weekend Getaway–Day Three

Day three of our weekend getaway started with an early morning swim in the hotel pool. The children and I then visited Cantigny Park with their grandparents. They were thrilled to discover that they were not only allowed but encouraged to climb on the collection of tanks!


After they climbed on every last tank, we toured the First Division Museum, a very appropriate activity for Memorial Day weekend. It’s changed a lot since I was last there over a decade ago, and I think we all learned a lot!

We then walked around the grounds, admiring the gardens and especially the mansion. The children recognized where they filmed part of A League of Their Own, and were very excited to walk in the same spot. We made sure to cool off in the fountains before we left, too!



When we got back to the hotel, we got to watch Ryan play in the Tekken Ball tournament, where he advanced to the final eight…it was very exciting, even if I didn’t really understand the game. We also briefly got to see Ryan in clipboard mode, which I found very amusing!