So this happened …
It was a pretty amazing and inspiring day.
We will overcomb! 🙂
You may or may not have heard about a little phenomenon that is going on here in the city of Chicago.
That’s right. Chicago’s Jewel-Osco is the place for all your fine wine. 😉
Which you may or may not need (to celebrate and/or nurse wounds) when cheering on (or mourning) the other phenomenon going on here in Chicago.
I’ll give you a hint: It rhymes with spaceball. And shrubs.
Now, here in Chicago we have a spaceball team that shall not be named with a long and storied history …
a long, storied history filled with goats and curses.
And not just any curse. A decades-long curse worthy of Lord Voldemort.
I wonder if Expelligoatis could be the counter-curse?
Or, more likely, talent. You know, in the non-Harry Potter real world in which we live.
Though, honestly, I wouldn’t know about talent on the baseball field. I’m not exactly a fan. While I love a day out at Wrigley Field, the idea of sitting down in front of the television to watch a nine inning game is a giant yawn in my book. Especially when so many On Demand episode of Sex & The City are waiting to be watched. 😉
But my husband? Big fan. Huge fan. Lover of all baseball games. Though the team that shall not be named holds a special place in his baseball-loving-heart.
So I’ve heard from the sidelines his cheers and claps. Always a good sign the game was going well.
I’m observant that way. 😉
And then when the shrubs spaceball team seemed to pull ahead in the standings, I made an even more concerted effort to not pay attention.
I didn’t want to hear about the games. Their record. Who they were playing.
You get it, right? I had formed my very own weird superstitions. Like somehow my paying attention so late in the game would alter the outcome …
totally forgetting about that talent thing.
But sports are filled with odd superstitions, aren’t they. Both on the parts of the players and the fans.
Even the non-fans, like me, get in on the act.
So, not to jinx the outcome of the next series of games coming up this weekend, I’ll just end with a Go Shrubs Go! 🙂
Chicagoans are fiercely loyal.
It’s a lesson I learned long before I moved here. You only need to turn on – or tune in to – the local news to find evidence of this loyalty. Just wait for “The Chicago Connection.” It’s when an actor or athlete or chef or some notable figure has won a major award, or achieved a major accomplishment, and our local newscasters will find “The Chicago Connection” to said athlete or chef or actor or notable figure …
perhaps they were born in the city or state. Lived here for a period of time. Once played for one of our teams. Worked at a restaurant downtown. Studied or taught at one of our universities. Or are married to a native Chicagoan.
No matter how close or far-reaching, the local news will inevitably uncover “The Chicago Connection.”
Now I may jest about our local news, but I get it. After 22+ of calling Chicago home … and creating two homegrown Chicagoans of my own … I get it. I get the deep pride we collectively feel for this city. The love. The fierce loyalty. Evidenced by how I bristle when I hear someone criticize Chicago. Especially when that criticism comes from someone who has never lived here.
You could say I drank the Chicago Kool-Aid. And you know what? It tasted great! 🙂
So when COUNTRY Financial asked if I’d like to attend their pre-Chicago Gourmet opening day event at The Park Grill Plaza in Millennium Park, naturally I jumped at the chance. What card-carrying-fiercely-loyal-Chicagoan could say no to spending a sunny Saturday in Chicago’s beautiful Millennium Park in the heart of downtown?
Especially when food from Chicago’s most celebrated chefs is thrown into the mix … 🙂
And when Chef Kevin Hickey (chef/partner of Bottlefork and The Duck Inn) and Cara De Orio (host of the locally produced Check Please! show) were talking about the loyalty of Chicagoans when it comes to the local restaurant industry, I was nodding my head along in agreement.
Like how Chicago is a great incubator city for chefs to experiment with new foods and techniques.
For the most part, Chicagoans aren’t always chasing what’s “new” when it comes to restaurants or cuisine. We’re not always demanding the latest and greatest where we can see and be seen …
dining is not a ‘seen” in Chicago. It’s a scene.
In fact, for the most part, we’re a bunch of modern-day Norms. We like when the staff knows our name. Or if not our name, our drink order. 🙂
So if the chef at one of our favorite haunts wants to experiment a with the menu, we’re game. It won’t make or break our experience. Because we’ll be back again next weekend.
We’re that loyal.
Chef Hickey and Cara De Orio also discussed how so many Chicago restaurateurs are sourcing their food locally, and have been doing so for years. And not because they’re trying to tap into the growing, buzzworthy farm-to-table trend. They do it because it makes sense.
Cue the Chicagoan loyalty gene.
With the city surrounded by farms (trust me, if you happen to get lost traveling to the suburbs it doesn’t take long before you find yourself surrounded by cornfields … or soy fields … or dairy farms), chefs don’t have to go far to find fresh produce and meats and cheeses. Especially when so many local farmers bring their fresh produce and proteins to one of the many Farmer’s Markets around the city each week.
I also learned that COUNTRY Financial can be counted among the fiercely loyal too.
They can’t help it, being homegrown and all.
Headquartered in Bloomington, IL (a charming town in Central Illinois that I can only imagine is surrounded by corn fields … and soy fields … and dairy farms), COUNTRY Financial was founded in 1925 with its roots firmly planted in agriculture. The cooperative was formed to help protect those in the farming and agriculture industry.
I mean, it makes perfect sense with the word “COUNTRY” (in all caps) in the company’s name. And yet it was a head-clunking moment for me. 😉
Today, COUNTRY Financial continues its support of local farmers at the forefront of the Chicago scene — who are literally feeding the farm-to-table restaurant movement — while also helping restaurants understand what it takes to be financially secure in the industry.
As an aside, my son recently changed his college major to Food Service Management, which has me thinking I may need to connect him with the folks at Country Financial.
After the presentation, we were invited into the Chicago Gourmet event, bypassing the hoards of paying patrons (who paid hefty price tag to gain entry) and into the enormous, aptly country-themed COUNTRY Financial tent …
I tried my best to capture the spirit of the COUNTRY Financial tent experience – compete with rustic touches and chalkboards – before the Chicago Gourmet gates were flung open and the hungry and thirsty hoards made their way in …
And after leaving the tent and collecting my car from the underground Millennium Park parking garage, I drove up Michigan Avenue towards Lake Shore Drive filled to the brim with an immense feeling of pride that I’m lucky enough to call Chicago home.
My loyalty runs 22+ years and counting deep. 🙂
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of COUNTRY Financial. The opinions and text are all mine.
This is a sponsor post written by me on behalf of Hills Bros. Coffee. All opinions are my own.
People say a lot of things about Chicago.
I know. I can hear them talking behind our backs.
Some are true. Some not so much.
Take Chi-Town, for instance. Ugh. I don’t care what Lido says, but no self-respecting Chicagoan calls his or her beloved city Chi-Town.
We also don’t call it the Windy City. Okay, maybe our journalists do when trying to be witty in news reports. But that’s it. When someone asks me where I’m from, I don’t respond “Oh, the windy city.”
The weather-wait-a-minute-and-it-will-change mantra does hold true. Sometimes. Especially at this time of year. But that same mantra holds true in many other cities too. Not to mention the entire state of Florida.
We also do embrace the summer months. You know, after those long brutal winters trapped indoors … blah … blah …. blah …
just like any other four-season city or town …
Only Chicago fully embraces summer. With a vengeance. And vice grip. Unlike other cities where there’s a mass exodus on summer weekends (I’m looking at you New York), Chicago is the place where everyone flocks to. And who can blame those flockers when the city is jam-packed with fun and (almost) free festivals, fairs, and lakefront activities all summer long.
Now, I’ll be honest with you all. I’ve been remiss in taking advantage of all Chicago summers have to offer. When the kids were little, it just felt like too much of a hassle to cart along strollers and diaper bags. As they got older, visiting the beach was our big “thing.” Or hitting the local playlots. So when Hills Bros. Coffee asked if I wanted to visit their mobile sampling truck at The Gold Coast Art Fair in Grant Park last weekend, I jumped at the chance in the hopes it would jump start my summer …
They were sampling their new compostable single serve pod roast blend.
And can I just add that while Chicagoans are protective of all things Chicago — taking great pride in our homegrown artists in the fields of art, theater, food and music — we’re more than happy to partake in free samples of the taste of San Francisco from Hills Bros. Coffee! Especially when the intoxicating smell from the truck just drew crowds in …
I also had a chance to explore the amazing talent of the more than 300 artists who set up booths in Grant Park in what turned out to be a beautiful weekend!
Not surprisingly, many artists featured their Chicago artwork.
The day was spectacular and the crowds were manageable …
And much of the art was colorful and fun …
And all I can say is thanks to Hills Bros. Coffee for the wake up call. Literally. Re-opening up my eyes to the wonders of Chicago in the summer …
In fact, I went back to the Gold Coast Art Fair on Sunday too — this time dragging my teen daughter with me!
For more Life in Chicago posts, click here …
Chicago Lakeview Neighborhood.
What’s a girl to do when she’s just not feeling the love for crafting? Or diy-ing? Or home decor-ing?
Which is especially tragic when she’s built this blog on the themes of crafting and diy-ing and home decor-ing.
She can slink away. Let the blog live on the perpetuity with erratic new updates. Kind of like how 2016 has been progressing. Or she can rethink the blog. Add a few more themes. Like recipe-ing …
So at the risk of turning this blog into something a bit more lifestyle-ing, I’m turning this blog into something that is definitely a bit more lifestyle-ing. I thought I’d kick off my new blog theme and layout – hit the “home” key and you’ll see the new layout – with a closer look at my life in Chicago. Starting with a look-see around my immediate Chicago Lakeview neighborhood …
The dog and I have been taking the camera with us on our daily walks. Something he’s less than thrilled about. It cuts into his sniffing time. It’s also something that takes me out of my comfort zone. Being in public with a camera makes me feel awkward. Like a fraud ….
I’m used to taking pictures inside my house. Out of the public eye. So I decided to start local. And avoid people. 🙂
Our Chicago neighborhood is called Lakeview. I’m not sure why. There are no lake views to be seen from my block. Or five or six blocks in either direction.
My little neighborhood pocket – bordered by Iriving Park Road to the north, Addison to the south, Ashland Avenue to the east and Ravenswood to the west – is a mix of wood frame, brick, and brownstones.
Play lots are scattered here and there, tucked between houses.
Dumpsters on the street are a common sight since the turn of the century (how weird to use that phrase to describe our lifetime!) when gentrification swept in. Tear downs and gut rehabs and two-flat-to-single-family conversions are never ending projects.
P.S. I’m so glad Noah is okay. 😉
Our neighborhood also includes industrial spaces (like the first picture on Ravenswood which now houses office space and a yoga studio) and lots and lots of glorious weathered brick …
Most of the apartment buildings have been converted to condos (again, gentrification).
I also have a fascination with Chicago’s alleys …
I’ll wrap up this lifestyle-ing blog post about Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood on my block (we live in the 4th house from the left).
Next time out I plan to ditch the dog (sorry Ernie) and venture into a more populated area. Well, a quasi-populated area …
For more Life in Chicago posts, click here …
I love Chicago, my adopted city.
… it’s downright Metro-sexual.
There’s no better place to be than to be in Chicago …
… we actually, eventually, do go to sleep here.You can never underrate the healing and rejuvenating power of beauty sleep.
P.S. I should probably give a partial photo credit to my son Sam. We mixed it up and both took pictures of downtown Chicago to frame and feature in his room remodel …
I’m all about the beach. The beach bag. The beach chair. The beach attire. The perfect “drive me to the beach” car – my (sadly) former white-on-white VW Cabriolet convertible that I drove back and forth on the Garden State Parkway each weekend in the summer. From 1985 to 1993. Hopping on at Exit 163 and getting off at Exit 98.
I was partying hard at the Jersey Shore long before Snookie and JWOWW were even in diapers.
And speaking of diapers, I always wore proper undergarments. Lacy? Perhaps. Full derriere coverage? Absa-stinking-lutely!
But my Jersey Shore full-derriere-coverage partying was never, ever in Seaside. Yuck. No self respecting North Jersey girl above Exit 153 would spend her summer weekends there. Our first summer rental was in Manasquan when I was just out of college. It was a mash up of 12 or 13 of us in a one bedroom garage. No. Seriously. It was a garage turned into a sad excuse of an apartment.
As my New York PR career took off (and my salary grew) I upgraded to Belmar. Then Sea Girt. And was well on my way to sporting an uber-desirable Spring Lake summer address. But then I met my husband. And moved to Chicago.
It’s decision I’ve never, ever regretted. I adore this city. I belong in this city. Chicago truly is “My Kind of Town.”
But one of the things I miss most about the East Coast is the coast. The Atlantic ocean and it’s sandy beaches and dunes.
Now granted, the beaches along Lake Michigan in Chicago are free, which is more than the Jersey Shore can claim. And it’s pretty cool to lie on a beach with a view of Chicago’s amazing skyline in the background. But the sand is hard. And the water is not always clean. And it quickly becomes crowded with double-wides (as in strollers, not trailers) and pop-up tents and umbrellas and sand toys and garbage cans overflowing. And don’t get me started on the whole restroom scene …
… or the sunbathers bathing in their underwear!
Painting a pretty picture for you here, aren’t I?
But one morning this past summer after I dropped my daughter at camp I headed to the beach with my camera in hand. To capture our Lake Michigan beach — at Foster Avenue in Chicago — before the masses moved in for the day.
Before the lifeguards were in their stands.
Or out rowing in their rowboats to let us know where the lake floor dropped off into a deep recess.
Before the seagulls were even awake. But not before this family, whose kids were itching to go jump in the lake …
… literally. 🙂