My Chicago Adventures: Lincoln Square/Ravenswood

I love Lincoln Square! But seriously, the neighborhood of Lincoln Square seems to have a lot going for it. As per usual, my copy of the “Open House Chicago” sites was my guide to exploring the neighborhood, and I’ve made repeat visits back to the DANK-Haus German American Cultural Center. The museum there is free and worth a visit to learn about the German legacy in Chicago. After having just read the book Death in the Haymarket, and the Haymarket Affair and labor struggles in late nineteenth century Chicago, it was strange to see this poster below; the poster called for workers to meet and discuss recent events and labor strikes. Little did they know the firestorm that would start that night (


Inside the DANK Museum at the cultural center; historic political leaflets in English and German.

It’s true that Germans made up one of the largest portions of the immigrant population in Chicago, when they started arriving in the city in the nineteenth century. Imagine then that they arrive in Chicago, set up their trades to be bakers and beer brewers etc., and some teetotaling mayor decides it is illegal to drink on Sundays, their only day off of work! That Joseph Medill… Anyway, I liked the German cultural center so much that I came back for an art exhibit, German cinema night, and now I’m volunteering for their booth at the street festival “Maifest” at the end of the month. This is all in line with my next big adventure, which has yet to be announced. Something to do with German language and culture, that’s all I’ll say for now!

Below are a few more pictures of the place, complete with a view of Lincoln Square from the rooftop terrace of the building.


The club room inside the DANK Haus is full of character!!


International art exhibition and the opening event at the DANK Haus.

Dank Haus Panorama

View over Lincoln Square from the rooftop terrace.

And… I leave you with a few more favorites from the area:

A very German and international type of place :)

A very German and international type of place 🙂

The exterior of the old Krause Music Store on Lincoln Avenue.

The exterior of the old Krause Music Store on Lincoln Avenue.

Architectural Artifacts is a warehouse full of... architectural artifacts for sale.

Architectural Artifacts is a warehouse full of… architectural artifacts for sale.


Rosehill Cemetery, North Side Chicago

I am a fan of cemeteries. This may be strange to some but cemeteries can be peaceful, beautiful, and historic all at the same time. Rosehill Cemetery is supposedly Chicago’s largest cemetery, with many Civil War soldiers, and well-known Chicagoans buried here. I visited on a snowy weekend in February, so I suppose it’s about time I posted these pictures; I’m including just a few of my favorites.


The cemetery entrance was designed by architect William W. Boyington, best remembered for his design of the Chicago Water Tower.


A Civil War monument near the East side entrance, with names and battlesites running around the bottom. A flag is draped over the carving of a cannon.


And more Civil War soldiers. According to another blog, this is the Monument of Battery B. Dates of death were mostly around 1862.


The obelisk monument for Mayor “Long John” Wentworth; he was an Illinois politician, and Mayor of Chicago during the Civil War. According to the monument, he had four children with his wife, all of which died in infancy. 

Below are some links to further info about the cemetery:

Triton Troupers Circus 2015

This year counted as my 5-year anniversary with the Triton Troupers Circus. Granted, that year when I was in England I didn’t get to participate, but I cheered them on from afar. This year I was happy to walk in the Elmhurst St. Patrick’s Day parade to advertise for the circus, and to participate in 6 different acts for show week. The shows were dedicated to the group’s founder, Jeff Austin and his wife who died this past year; the 44th year and still going strong!


And a double trapeze video!

My Chicago Adventures: Pilsen

My second neighborhood to visit was Pilsen. Now, I’m not claiming that I’ve thoroughly explored these neighborhoods; not even close! I just like getting out on a Saturday, with a short list of things to see. I get the feeling there is a lot in Pilsen that I still haven’t seen or don’t know about. My visit centered around the National Museum of Mexican Art, and a few points of interest from the “Open House Chicago” list.

A mural in the Pilsen neighborhood

A mural in the Pilsen neighborhood

Hector Duarte's studio and the Gulliver in Wonderland Mural

Hector Duarte’s studio and the Gulliver in Wonderland Mural (apparently represents the stuggling Mexican immigrant as Gulliver). 

The National Museum of Mexican Art is an interesting place, not too big but nice enough. I was sad that I’d missed the Day of the Dead exhibit. The current exhibit, “Nuestras Historias: Stories of Mexican Identity from the Permanent Collection” was neat, highlighting periods of strong nationalism vs. loss of culture, and place specific identities, like Mexicans in Chicago and the Midwest. Cool.

At the National Museum of Mexican Art

At the National Museum of Mexican Art

Make tacos, not war.

My Chicago Adventures: Edgewater/Andersonville

Since moving to Chicago I’ve started a few habits: there’s the independent coffee shops on Fridays, visiting a different museum most weekends, and walking around new neighborhoods. And does Chicago have the neighborhoods! I usually plan out my walks to include some historic spots, and interesting places, and take pictures along the way.

My first neighborhood visit to share is Edgewater and Andersonville. Edgewater is long on history and has many buildings and “apartment hotels” dating from the 1920’s. The most striking and recognizable is the pink stucco Edgewater Beach Apartments, once a celebrated hotel and celebrity hotspot. Of course, once the completion of Lakeshore Drive cut off easy access to the lakefront, the hotel became a little less popular. Today the place gives off a feeling of tarnished glamour. I visited the Edgewater Historical Society for an hour to learn a bit more about the Edgewater Beach Hotel, and about the development of the neighborhood.

Edgewater Beach Apartments

Edgewater Beach Apartments

Edgewater Historical Society

Edgewater Historical Society

A walk around the neighborhood also finds many historic homes and churches; the Lakewood-Balmoral Historic District is worth a look, but none of my pictures could really capture the cute and quaint single family homes around here. To end the day, I actually ended up in the historically Swedish neighborhood of Andersonville, walking along busy Clark St. That’s where you’ll find the Swedish-American Museum, which I have yet to visit! More neighborhoods coming in the future.

The frozen Chicago lakefront in January

The frozen Chicago lakefront in January

My Christmas Letter

Around this time of year it’s customary to send out a Christmas card and letter to your friends and family; I can’t manage to mail out Christmas cards this year, so I’m opting for the digital version. Not as personal but I hope it does the job!

And every year is another adventure. Early in the year, I made the decision (which seemed momentous at the time) to not return for the season at the travel agency, but to give the “museum thing” one more solid effort. I thought, ‘I’ll give it another year, and if it doesn’t pan out, then I give up!’ Since then I’ve volunteered at the Glen Ellyn Historical Society, worked with the Curator of the Elmhurst Art Museum, attended the American Alliance of Museums conference in Seattle, started working in the gift shop of the Art Institute of Chicago, and even presented a short session at the Illinois Association of Museums conference in Rockford. Wow! I wonder what 2015 will bring.

This year has also had it’s ups and downs. Dad’s near heart attack and subsequent quadruple bypass surgery made the summer seem to fly by. The first few weeks were full of hospital visits, and then came the long road to recovery. My part time work schedule was well suited to helping out. And while we never want to repeat those months, it made us count our blessings and remember to pray.

There have also been exciting and happy moments this year, of course! I participated in the Triton Troupers Circus again, performing in silks, web, and double stunts, and having a record number of people come see the show (my parents brought their whole bible study group!). I took a contortion class too, and learned many new things. And travel is always a part of my life; in October I went on vacation to Germany with Brian and Jessica. While I wished the trip were longer, we had fun seeing friends and visiting new places, and enjoying the beer and sausage!

All in all, 2014 has been a rather difficult but rewarding year. I learned a lot, and stretched myself in ways I didn’t think possible. I paid off my student loan, and traded it for rent. The biggest change has been working downtown, and moving into an apartment in Chicago. It all sounds very adult, but don’t worry: I still eat loads of macaroni and cheese.

Anyways, have a very Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and may God shower blessings on you.


Fall Fun and Germany in October

Gosh, I didn’t realize it had been quite that long since I blogged. How did that happen again??

Long story short: I went on vacation, I got a new job, I moved, I went on vacation again, I presented at a conference, I got a promotion, and then I looked at my blog. That’s a lot of stuff happening.

My vacation was with my Mom to Brown County, Indiana and a stop in Indianapolis too. Since Dad was finally returning to work in August, after several months of medical leave, Mom and I went on our own vacation. It was one of those reading, hiking, eating, and shopping kind of vacations.

Imagine this view on a warm sunny day in the State Park!

Imagine this view on a warm sunny day in the State Park!

Upon returning from vacation, I started my new job as Sales Assistant at the Art Institute of Chicago, which essentially means I work in the museum gift shop. It’s a nice place to work, and was made even more exciting when it was announced they’d been voted Tripadvisor’s #1 museum in the world for 2014.  They hosted a fancy breakfast for staff to celebrate, and took a group picture on the Grand Staircase:

It's hard to get so many people in one photo....

It’s hard to get so many people in one photo….

My next vacation had been planned for a while: Germany! I traveled with my brother and sister in law, and we visited loads of places including Berlin, Erfurt, Nuremberg and Rothenburg. There was still more to see, so Brian and Jessica continued their trip, while I had to return home for work. Poor me!

Sharing a meal on an outdoor patio in Nuremberg.

Sharing a meal on an outdoor patio in Nuremberg.

Brian and Jessica at the Brandenburg Gate in the center of Berlin.

Brian and Jessica at the Brandenburg Gate in the center of Berlin.

The amazing German food at the Augustiner Brau in Erfurt.

The amazing German food at the Augustiner Brau in Erfurt.

The week after my vacation, I was set to present at the Illinois Association of Museums Conference in Rockford, IL. I presented to a small group on the topic of Leadership, mentoring, and the next generation of museum professionals. It went as smoothly as can be expected, and the rest of the conference was informative and even entertaining. There are a few museums I want to go back and visit in Rockford, like Midway Village…


Lastly, I’ve moved out of my parent’s house and into an apartment in Chicago, mainly to lessen my commute to work. It’s all going pretty well, so I can’t complain. We shall see what adventures come next.