A Photo Field Trip to the Baha'i Temple

Looking for another architectural gem in the Chicago area? You really, really need to visit the Bahá'í Temple in Wilmette, Illinois.

Bahai House of Worship

Architect Jean-Baptiste Louis Bourgeois' gleaming white structure is pretty striking and makes quite an impact as you approach. I saw pictures before arriving but they didn't quite prepare me for just how stunning the building is in person. I gasped (and then felt like kind of a dork).

Bahai House of Worship

The domed structure is clad in white Portland concrete with quartz crystal aggregate that seems to make it shimmer in the sunlight. The day I visited the sky kept changing from bright, bright blue to grey and moody. It made for an interesting smorgasbord of views. After spending some time wandering and photographing it, I can attest that this building "works" no matter how it's lit.

Bahai House of Worship

Its intricate ornamentation has early Egyptian, Persian, Byzantine, Greek, Renaissance and Gothic influences. Can you say eclectic? But surprisingly the mixture blends nicely. As a reflection of the Bahá'í's inclusive faith, the Christian cross, the Jewish Star of David, the Islamic Crescent as well as Hindu and Buddhist religious symbols can be found on its facade.

Bahai Detail Bahai Dome

The building itself has nine sides and the Bahá'í symbol, the nine-sided star, plays a prominent role in the ornamentation as well. It sits on meticulously manicured gardens and the entire space seems to ooze serenity and peace.

Bahai Gardens

Completed in 1953 after delays caused by the Depression and World War II, the temple is listed both on the United States register of Historic Places and has been named one of the seven wonders of Illinois.

Bahá'í House of Worship

My visit was intentionally timed so that I could experience a worship service in the 1200 seat auditorium. The Bahá'í have no clergy, so the thirty minute devotions included a cappella music and scripture readings by members of the congregation.

The Bahá'í Temple (100 Linden Ave, Wilmette) is open to the public daily from 6 a.m. - 10 p.m. and there is no admission charged. Except for brief prayer services held at 9:15 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. the auditorium is a quiet place for prayer and meditation. It's a short walk from the last stop on the purple line and there is both street parking and a small surface lot available if you decide to drive.


Take Me Out to... Wrigley Field

There's a reason Chicago's Wrigley Field is one of the Seven Wonders of Illinois. It's a baseball lover's paradise. So, I guess I'm wondering why it's taken us so long to include it in our stadium tour?

Wrigley Field

After completely missing it during our first summer in Chicago, this year we made sure to make it a priority. I'm not quite sure how we got so lucky, but we saw three games at Wrigley in one week!

As lifelong baseball fans, we were pretty giddy to get inside such a historic park - and maybe boo the Cubs.

Wrigley Field Scoreboard

Wrigley is one of just two major league ball parks that still has a manual scoreboard. It's pretty epic. But as awesome as it looks, I've got to be honest with you. I had a little bit of trouble, at first, getting used to it. In no time though I started to really like it. It was nice not being bombarded with commercials, replays and more commercials. I found myself much more into the game!

{I really need to learn Photoshop so I can remove shadows. Sorry, sweetie}

I'm sure you're aware that there's a lot of drama regarding new video scoreboards and all the renovations bound to be made by next year. I have to admit, I really liked the low tech feel of Wrigley. Well, until it was time to leave. Then I got a little creeped out trying to exit those teeny corridors with 40,000 fans. It was a kinda close for comfort. But we survived and it certainly won't keep me from going back again.

Wrigley Field

The first of our three games was against the Angels. Albert Pujols and his boys stomped the Cubs. All the home runs gave me a chance to witness a Wrigley tradition. The fans throw opponent home run balls back onto the field. It's pretty funny. I've said it before, Chicago baseball fans are unmerciful. It's great to watch.

Wrigley Field - Golden Hour

Our second and third games were part of a Cubs/Cardinals series. They were horrifying. The Cardinals were trounced. It was embarrassing. That's all I have to say about that.

Despite the losses, our visits to Wrigley were pretty fantastic. It definitely lives up to the hype and I'm glad I got to experience it before it gets renovated.

How Wrigley Measures Up:
Hot Dog: We obviously got Chicago dogs - except they didn't have the pickle spears! WHAT?!?

Nachos: We opted for plain chips and cheese and put most of our effort into The Northside Twist and mini cubs helmets full of soft serve ice cream.

Most Obvious Sponsor Presence: Toyota and Budweiser

Unique to Wrigley: What is most unique to Wrigley is soon going to change. Its lack of a jumbo screen is refreshing and charming. Spectators are given the opportunity to actually watch the game on the field! It was really, really nice not to feel inundated with ads.

So what do you think about the anticipated renovations to Wrigley? 
Welcome addition or blasphemy?


Mmm mmm Monday: The Purple Pig

Our first meal at The Purple Pig included every part of the pig one could feasibly imagine eating - and maybe a few you couldn't. We indulged in pig's ears, roasted bone marrow, pork loin and pig's tail. Nearly every bite was magnificent and definitely worth every minute we had to wait to get a table in the intimate restaurant on Chicago's Magnificent Mile.

Afterward, we faced the typical Chicago dilemma. Do we go back to a restaurant we know we loved or try one of the 500 bajillion other restaurants on our "must try" list?

The Purple Pig - Chicago

Last week we decided The Purple Pig was too good to NOT go back.

The Purple Pig - Chicago

We stopped in for lunch and this time we opted for some lighter fare...

The Purple Pig - Chicago

Well, not EVERYTHING was light.

The Purple Pig - Chicago

Just like our first visit, each dish was surprisingly tasty. From the salt cured greek yogurt with rhubarb marmalade and pistachios to the shaved asparagus and arugula salad with crispy bread crumbs we had a magnificent meal.

In the middle of a fork tender bite of pork shoulder, I may have blurted out, "This is my favorite place to eat in Chicago." I understand now that I might have been under a spell conjured by that magical, magical pig. But I think another trip to The Purple Pig (500 N Michigan Ave, Near North Side) in the near future is necessary to confirm or deny the truth of the statement.

Have you ever eaten a crazy part of a pig? If so, what was it?


3 Reasons You Won't See Me in a Bikini Anytime Soon

It might be time for a cleanse.

Last week I had several delicious and incredibly gluttonous culinary experiences that left me feeling both satisfied and bloated.

I try to live life with few regrets and I would never claim to regret ANY of these tasty choices. However, our choices have consequences. And after last week's indulgences, let's just say, a bikini is probably not in my future.

1. The Two-Bagger Sandwich from Lucky's Sandwich Company:

Two-Bagger at Lucky's Wrigleyville

This is the half of the sandwich I didn't eat!

The Two-Bagger is a combination of corned beef and pastrami served with tomatoes, fries and a heaping helping of perfectly sour vinaigrette coleslaw between two pieces of white bread. It was monstrous and it was fantastic. I didn't even consider digging into the second half. BUT for those braver than I, Lucky's has a challenge that was featured on Man Vs. Food. To complete the challenge you must eat three sandwiches like this in an hour! WHAT?!?

2. Harold's Fried Chicken and French Fries

Harold's Chicken Shack

Our meal was served from behind bullet proof glass.

You have to have respect for a restaurant that sticks two pieces of white bread at the bottom of the boat to sop up the grease and sauce. Harold's is an institution for a reason. That was some good fried chicken.

3. The Northside Twist

Northside Twist

Please understand, this pretzel box covered my lap.

It was enormous. Served with cheese, mustard and cinnamon icing, the Northside twist at Wrigley Field kept a smile on my face even while the Cardinals were getting their butts kicked. Even with three of us sharing, we only made it through 2/3 of this beast. But thinking of that cinnamon icing is making me wish I had the rest to devour right now.

What gluttonous adventures have you taken lately?


Roofdeck - Check!

Guess what? Guess what? Guess what?

Roof deck with a view: Check

image courtesy of Michael Kuntz Photography 

Dinner: Check

Chicken Sliders & Deviled Eggs at Estate Ultra Bar

Unexpected Bonus: Gür Sweets Croughnuts (aka Cronuts)

Gür Croughnuts

Super special unexpected bonus: Another Photo Booth Adventure

Photo Booth Madness

Last week I was fortunate enough to be Jenn's +1 at Eventbrite's BriteBRO party at Estate Ultra Bar. Not only did I get to have a fantastic lady date at a venue that I might never have discovered, but I also got to cross another item off my summer to do list.

Estate is kind of off the beaten path. But its beautiful roof deck offered spectacular views and a great place to have a drink and a chat. We lucked into a beautiful night and I had a really great time. Thank you, Alexa!

Though the cronuts were good, I'm not sure they lived up to all the hype. That being said, I'm not quite ready to make my final verdict. Since they're a fried treat, I think I'd like to try one fresh from the fryer. I have a feeling that will make all the difference.

Oh and this...

 image courtesy of Michael Kuntz Photography

I managed to talk the event photographer into taking a duck face deuces pic of me. Jealous?

Do you have a summer to do list? 
How are you doing crossing items off?


Caught: Divergent Filming on the Streets of Chicago

{the following paragraph should be read in your best "fan girl" voice}

OMG you guys! I totally had a "Catbird" sighting. Ahhhhhhhh! I was even able to snap a quick pic of the Abnegation village before security made me put my phone away. I. Was. Dying. Now I'm completely psyched for the movie and considering re-reading the book for like the 20th time.

Divergent Movie - Abnegation Set

Translation: The film adaptation of Veronica Roth's novel Divergent is being shot in and around Chicago this summer. In an attempt to keep things under wraps during filming, Divergent has been given the code name "Catbird" by the studio. But they aren't fooling anybody. Thanks to a heads up from a generous friend {Thank you, Cait} I found out about a set being constructed near her building and was able to stalk it like a 13 year old girl.

Divergent Movie - Abnegation Set

If you haven't read the first two books (what is your major malfunction?) these nondescript houses are probably incredibly uninteresting to look at. But, if you're a closet fan girl, like me, you'll recognize them as clearly Abnegation. Divergent is set in a dystopian Chicago where the population has been divided into five factions. Abnegation is the faction in which the main character Tris was raised.

It turns out she's a South Loop girl.

Shailene Woodley as Tris photo source: EW, image credit: Jaap Buitendijk

I intend to keep my eye out for more filming as the summer continues, but I'm pretty excited to have crossed another item off the Summer To Do list.

Divergent is scheduled to open on March 21, 2014. 
(for those keeping track that is a day before my birthday... happy birthday to me)

Have you ever stumbled on (or purposefully sought out) a movie shooting on location?


Soggy Saturday Night

Every Wednesday and Saturday night throughout the summer there are fireworks over Chicago's Navy Pier. Even though we're able to see them from our couch, a field trip to watch them up close and in person felt like an obvious summer to do to add to my list.

Glowing Chicago

On Saturday night we had a date night on the Pier.

Fried Dough + Gelato before the rain started...

The night started out promising. The company was fantastic. We found dessert - fried dough covered in sugar and topped with gelato, whipped cream, peanuts and incentive to exercise. We got there early and settled on the perfect bench to patiently wait for the show.

It was a beautiful night to be on the pier. Temps were cool enough to need a jacket. There were lots of people and boats to watch plus a beautiful skyline to ogle. Well, until around 10:10 PM when the rain started coming down.

Incidentally, the fireworks start at 10:15 PM.

Navy Pier Fireworkds
A Disappointing Night for Fireworks Pictures... blah

We decided to try to stick it out. After all, what's a little rain?

Navy Pier Abstract

Wellllllllll, it turns out looking UP at fireworks isn't super easy when rain is falling DOWN.

After about 10 minutes we ran for the hills and ended the night a bit soggier than we planned. But we've decided this item on our summer to do list should be marked "to be continued."

Speaking of Fireworks - Where are you watching them for this week's holiday?


Mmm Mmm Monday: Siena Tavern

It turns out the fresh gnocchi with truffle cream at Siena Tavern is just as decadent as you might have heard. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of a lady date at cheflebrity Fabio Viviani's Chicago restaurant. Turns out Noreen's company wasn't all I enjoyed that afternoon.

Siena Tavern - Truffled Cream Gnoochi
That's the equally decadent Orecchiette with Lamb and Saffron Cream in the background

The restaurant itself is gorgeous. The combination of rich wood, plenty of leather and a spattering of metal accents give the space a distinctly masculine feel. But the neutral color scheme, moss/succulent covered accent wall and warm lighting keep it from feeling like an old boy's club.

Our server (the perfect man-candy for a lady date) was attentive and friendly. But sadly the pacing of our courses was a bit uneven. Our entrees were delivered before we were half finished with our salads and then we waited for a bit for our dessert. Since the restaurant wasn't very full, that was kind of disappointing.

Siena Tavern - Chicago Siena Tavern - Chicago

But what about the food?

I'm still dreaming about that gnocchi. It was rich and oh so right. A big thank you to Noreen for suggesting I order it. I was undecided initially because the menu is enormous and kind of awkwardly laid out on a single sheet of paper. Thankfully it is jam packed with enticing options. I started the meal off with a kale Caesar salad that was good but the bread pictured below was beyond outstanding.

But the gnocchi's main competition for the title of "star of the day" was the lemon, olive oil and sea salt gelato. It was seriously good. We ordered several different gelato flavors (we indulged big time) but this one was head and shoulders above the rest. Though the salted caramel was delicious, the lemon was silky and luscious.

Siena Tavern

If I have one complaint it is that our tab was a bit higher than I might have liked. Of course, we did have 3 courses and I left with a happy, full tummy... I just always feel weird about paying a lot of money for Italian food. I have no explanation for that, except that it's a mental block. All in all the afternoon was a bit uneven but the high points of our afternoon at Siena Tavern (51 W. Kinzie, Near Nth Side) far outweigh any tiny missteps.

Am I the only one who struggles to pay premium prices for Italian food?