Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire 2016

Good morning!

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted. I’ve been very busy working on interviews with makers for the Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire at Carl Schurz School, a topic very close to my heart. So while I have adventures to tell you in the near future, here are the blog posts that I have recently done on their website:

  1. Chicago Children’s Museum:
  2. Schurz Food Lab:           
  3. The Little Bits Workshop:
  4. Adler Planetarium Teen STEM Programs:
  5. Schurz Pre-Engineering Classes:

I’ll have several more to share with you all next week as we get closer to the Faire on May 7th. You should all come. Check out the website:

That’s all for now!

Meet the Maker: The Little Bits Workshop — Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire

Want to make a tiny room using upcycled items in your house and garden? Join Liita Forsyth from The Little Bits Workshop to learn how to make your very own tiny room! The Little Bits Workshop is a DIY makerspace in River Forest where kids of all ages can learn how to sew, knit, make […]

via Meet the Maker: The Little Bits Workshop — Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire

NYC Spring 2016: Part 3

That Saturday was SWAN day! It was the 9th International Support Women Artists Day! We decided to spend it by going to a guided tour of the exhibition of Vigée le Brun at the Metropolitan Museum. Vigée le Brun was a famous female painter who was known for her intimate paintings of Marie Antoinette and other notables of the day. She’s quite an impressive painter who was one of four women in the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture. However, initially her marriage to an art dealer made her ineligible but the king intervened and asked that she be admitted. Yeah, cause she was that beloved of the court. She eventually have to go into exile during the Revolution but she made use of the time traveling all over Europe. Read more about her here:

We spent the next hour wandering around the museum, letting us take in this magnificent place. We actually ended up in the American wing and saw my new old favorite “Madame X” by John Singer Sargent. We also stumbled upon the original ballroom from Gadsby’s Tavern in Alexandria, VA. We had visited the house while we were there last summer and I remembered that they said the original room where George Washington danced was at the Met. And we found it. It is well-kept up with examples of period furniture. It was neat to see the real thing but it was weird that it was here in the Met and not in Virginia where the building is. But then again, the staircase from the Chicago Board of Trade is also at the Met…


Gadsby’s Tavern

We finished up our trip at the Temple of Dendur, my favorite room there. I know I’ve mentioned it before; I can’t go to the Met without stopping by. It just still astonishes me every time I see it. Someday I’ll make it to Egypt to see the pyramids. For now, this will do. (Also, it doesn’t help that one of my favorite bands from college played a concert in that room last summer!).


Temple of Dendur

We hopped in a cab to head to broadway for a matinee. We had a short period of time before the show. But then we found the most wonderful kind of place: $1 pizza. It’s a very plain utilitarian place but they have cheap pizza. You could get pepperoni for $2, which I opted for. My husband had 2 slices of cheese and a coke for $2-$3. It was perfect for our needs.

The show we saw was Disaster! It was a musical parodying disaster movies. It was fun at times but not a great new addition to Broadway. The first half was a bit slow since it had to establish all the different characters, aligning with different disaster tropes. The music was all disco that came up at predictable and unpredictable times. It’s not my favorite era of music, I have to say. There was also a borderline racist joke in there involving an afro, which did not sit terribly well with me.

The second half got better as everything started to go wrong. The random deaths from ridiculous occurrences really worked for me. It got silly and outlandish, which is what I wanted. So not the best musical but definitely had its moments. Plus it’s not Mr. Foote’s Other Leg. Ugh!

Afterwards, we decided to head to the NY Public Library, the main branch. I realized that I don’t think I’d ever been in there before! Craziness! It’s absolutely stunning. Sadly, the main room (i.e. the room from Ghostbusters) was closed for remodeling but other rooms were well worth a visit. The periodicals room was gorgeous with all the wood paneling. The map room was filled with book after book of maps!


Periodical Room

Upstairs, there was an exhibition about Women in Printmaking, which was so cool. They had works by Marie de Medici and Queen Victoria! Apparently the Queen took it up as a pastime! So cool! There was also a Gutenberg Bible in a case in the middle of the floor. Because. Unfortunately, the Winnie the Pooh was not on display yet but it should be back later this Spring. There’s a great story about the Winnie the Pooh. England asked for it back and the response was “You’ll get it back when you return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.” Touche!


Gutenberg Bible

That evening, we had wonderful tapas and seafood at a Spanish restaurant in the Village. I need to spend more time there, if only for all the food options! (Someday the Peanut Butter place will be mine to try!).

That’s all for now!

NYC Spring 2016: Part 2

The next day started with a trip to the Union Square Green Market. It’s a favorite of my parents and we always try to go when the weather is nice. It was a little brisk and early in the season so they weren’t many vendors out. But there were waves of beautiful fragrant flowers. Goodness, winter makes me miss nature so much! We had breakfast nearby at the Coffee Shop where I had delicious omelette. I love the entry walls to the place are covered in crushed up chinaware. Very cute.

I spent sometime wandering around the Strand bookstore, one of my favorites in NYC. Not only does it have a fantastic collection of books, it always has an amazing literary/nerdy selection of socks. There I said it.

Afterwards, we decided to walk up from Union Square to Macy’s. We briefly stopped into Rizzoli, a fancy bookstore, on the way. There used to be Rizzoli in Chicago but the chain contracted. Now it’s got a lovely bookstore near 26th street but it’s high end with lots of beautiful books. We continued our walk, watching as the neighborhood changed over and over. There were fancy boutique shops, then costume jewelry shops, and then to giant stores like Macy’s. The Flower Show was going on, which is one of my favorite retail events each year. While I prefer Chicago’s Macy’s Flower show, the one at Macy’s flagship was nice. The windows were fine but the interior is exciting. Throughout the first floor, there are flower displays that are out of this world. The theme this year was America so there were displays for the Midwest, the Pacific, NYC, and more. One display had mannequins modeling hats that I wanted to steal. Alas! There were some very patriotic flower displays as well. Good times.


Macy’s. I want the hats.



I continued my walk back to the hotel in midtown. I had a special mission to go to a coffee/chocolate shop on Park Avenue called 2bean. It was one of the few shops carrying a new spectacular chocolate bar called Marou, which was written about in the NYTimesThe bars are colored coded due to the color of the beans! They had just gotten a shipment the day before (I called) and were already out of two or three bar types by the time I got there. I was getting a birthday present for my best friend. The shop reminded me a lot of Hannah’s Bretzel because it is covered in different kinds of fancy candy bars. But it has even more than Hannah’s Bretzel. So cool.

I then walked up to Momofuku for my favorite truffle balls. There was a fairly healthy line but the balls are totally worth it. I got three packs of “Birthday Cake,” “Dulce de Leche,” and “Mint Chocolate.” I didn’t love the “Dulce de Leche” ones but they are still good.

Then I ran off to meet my husband who had just arrived in NYC. We decided to walk through Central Park to the Museum of Natural History and have tea at Alice’s, an Alice in Wonderland themed tea shop. I’ve been in Alice’s before but I had never stayed. It’s near the museum. We got there just in time as we were the top of a long line to get seats. The place was charming but not overwhelming in Alice in Wonderland mania. That was a bit of a disappointment. There were murals (especially in the bathroom) that made me very pleased. There were doors to the kitchen with keyhole windows in them, which was cool. But it could have upped the theme. We decided to keep it simple with tea and scones. (High tea seems to be too much for me these days). We had the Alice tea and I had the pumpkin scone. Both were delicious. So that was nice. It’s a tad pricey for tea and scones but it was nice to do once.



I was excited about taking my husband to the museum since he had never been before. The last time I went was in graduate school when I was visiting my best friend who worked at school nearby. I had spent the entire time in the Ancient Americas’ rooms. When we got there, there was a line. Thankfully, it moved quickly so we were in the ticket line inside within about 10 minutes. Once in, we wandered accidentally into the Carl Akeley Hall, which was amazing. I had read a biography about him. He’s basically the man that made taxidermy into what we think of today. Many of the dioramas and specimens at the Field are his work. (The two elephants in the entryway were shot by him and his wife. She shot the larger of the two). So the hall at the NYC museum was wonderful. There was a herd of elephants in the middle (Possibly all shot by him though). Around the first floor were beautiful scenes of animals in the wild. Magnificent.

Then we made a beeline for the dinosaurs, both of our favorites. There was a dinosaur, titanosaur, that was so big that it couldn’t be kept in a single room. It kinda looks like a giant brontosaurus. Very neat. They had a good collection of dinosaurs including many triceratops skulls.


We imagined this dino was a lot like my husband

We also wandered into the Ancient Americas to say hello to old friends. They have a giant Olmec head, which most would recognize as Olmec from Legends of the Hidden Temple. Of course, the people who made the head are actually the Olmecs…but anyway, it was nice to check out their collection. It’s smaller than the Field but I love checking out the pottery and stone carvings.


Possibly Moche pottery

Before we left, we did check out the famous blue whale, which freaked me out as a kid. It’s still kinda insane. The museum has moved away whatever used to be beneath it and now you can lie down and stare up at it.

On our way back to the hotel, we strolled through Central Park. It was a really wonderful walk as nature was beginning to wake up. Budding trees, tiny daffodils pushing their heads up through the dirt. There were plenty of rocks to climb (though I never seem to wear the right kind of shoe for that kind of thing). We even shared a pretzel while walking through the Poet’s Corner. So classic NYC movie, I feel. But fun to do, nonetheless.

That night, we ate Italian food in a nearby restaurant named Teodora, that had food from Reggio Emilia. It feels like they took someone’s home and converted it into a restaurant. I had a wonderful plate of gnocchi, my favorite. Afterwards, we met a friend in Union Square for a drink. The place kinda had a speakeasy feel since there weren’t any signs. Inside, it was richly furnished with deep wood and low lighting. The cocktails were wonderful; I had champagne with raspberries, which made me happy. My husband got a wonderful drink of prosecco, sorbet and a third ingredient that I have forgotten. Very tasty. It was a lovely place to end the day.

That’s all for now!


Meet the Maker: Schurz Food Lab — Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire

Two words: Space Tomatoes. That’s one of many projects that the Schurz Food Lab will be showcasing at the Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire. The program is led by the multi-talented Jaime Guerrero, Schurz food science lab founder and administrator, who wants to change minds and hearts about urban agriculture. Guerrero explains that the mission […]

via Meet the Maker: Schurz Food Lab — Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire

Meet the Makers: Chicago Children’s Museum — Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire

Want to learn how to use a power drill and make an amazing cool sculpture? Join Chicago Children’s Museum at the Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire. The Chicago Children’s Museum is “a place where families and caregivers with infants and children are encouraged to create, explore, and discover together through play.”(1) One great place for […]

via Meet the Makers: Chicago Children’s Museum — Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire

NYC Spring 2016

Now that I’ve finished talking about our trip to France and England, I’m going to spend the next couple of weeks talking about my recent trip to NYC for Easter.  NYC is one of those thrilling places that I love to visit. I’m glad I live in Chicago but NYC is always fun.

Our first day there, we decided to go to the Frick Museum. Since it was a relatively nice and sunny day, we walked from our hotel to the museum next to CEntral Park on 5th avenue. Spring was already making its mark in NYC. We think that Chicago might be two weeks behind NYC. The magnolia trees were wearing their full glory while tiny daffodils were popping from the soil. We passed the petting zoo so we saw all the goats sheep and the one llama.


The Frick

The Frick was wonderful as always. For those of you unfamiliar with it, the house and collection were Henry Clay Frick, an American industrialist and art patron. The collection houses several Vermeers, Hans Holbein, and much more. The paintings are displayed throughout the house, mostly how Mr. Frick had it in his lifetime. So you have the wonderful combination of astonishing art with beautiful furnishing. I did learn that one of the most iconic rooms, the Garden Court, was actually an addition after his death. Mr. Frick had always planned for the house to become a museum and stipulated it in his will. The area that the court is located was actually a road that connected 71st and 72nd street. When he died, they converted the coach house and other buildings to make space for visitors. The Garden Court is truly a gem in the building. I think Mr. Frick would have approved of it.


Garden Court

There was a Van Dyck exhibition going on, which was interesting. Initially, we thought it was just the exhibit in the basement where we saw lots of his drawings. I find drawings moderately interesting. Later, we discovered there was a wonderful room filled with his paintings, which was superb. They did have a few drawings there so you can compare the drawing with the final painting.

My favorite room is the Living Hall with its deep brown and green tones. Framing the fireplace is Holbein’s painting of Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell on the other side. Above the fireplace, there is El Greco’s St. Jerome. Other works include Chinese ceramics and wooden furniture. It’s really a masterful room.

After our time at the museum, we decided to find some lunch at EAT on Madison. It’s a bakery/restaurant. We shared a chopped liver sandwich that was really quite good. For dessert, we had a really wonderful warm pecan pie.

We were only a few blocks away from the Met Breuer, which had opened a week previously. The Met decided to buy the building where the Whitney used to be housed and apparently will use it as a contemporary exhibition space. The building is a classic example of the awful Brutalist style that was popular several decades ago. Ugh.

The major exhibition, however, was rather fascinating. THe theme was “unfinished” works of art. It started with the middle ages and Renaissance. Very neat to see paintings where only a part of it was painted while the rest are drawing lines. There was a particularly haunting painting of a beautifully dressed woman without a face. They also had this Van Gogh painting that took me a moment to figure out how it was unfinished (how do you tell?). The sky was only a few blue brush strokes with the canvas peaking through. The painting was one of the last he did at the end of his life. Presumably, he would have finished if he hadn’t committed suicide.


“Unfinished” at the Met Breuer

The second floor of the exhibition was a more contemporary and creative look at the theme. There were rooms dedicated to ideas similar to “Unfinished” like infinity or decay. It was moderately successful. I did scoff at a Pollock (how do you know it’s done?) but it made sense that there was a Pollock in an exhibition like this. I think this part of the exhibition was less successful than the first floor. They had a one woman show of Nasreen Mohamedi, an abstract artist. It was moderately interesting. I liked one or two of her early work but the rest didn’t do it for me. Alas.

The next stop was Soho/Bowery. There’s an artisanal market that I like going to in the Village called “Market NYC” but it’s only Friday through Sunday. Since it was Thursday, there was an alternative space in Soho that we went to check out. It’s a lot smaller but there were interesting artisans vending their crafts. Leather bags with eyes, animal head rings, mustache and beard wax. It was fun. We then took a lovely stroll through the area. I loved all the street art. We found a hole in the wall place that had bite sized cupcakes for a $1. I tried the cotton candy cupcake (less than two bites) that was quite lovely! Eventually, we ended up in Union Square for sushi, which was lovely.



Art in the Bowery/Soho


More Art

It was a fine way to end our first day!