Chicago - My Favorite Places

Chicago Theatre

As long-time readers of this blog know, before my most recent move to Maine I lived in Chicago for a little over two years. I recently had the chance to return to my old stomping grounds for a work conference, and leapt at the chance and added a couple days onto my trip to revisit my favorite places and hang out my my dear friend Kasey (who graciously let me crash at her place).

So below, some of my favorite spots (including a couple of new finds).


Loopy Yarns

Art Institute

Lurie Garden - Urbs in Horto

Seeing "Sunday on the Island of La Grande Jatte"

Hubbard Street Dancers

Dress Forms

Stuffed Pizza


(A quick explanation on this photo: on the way to pizza, Kasey & I found a lost purse. We found an ID card, but  when we called the person on it, we only got a very confused young woman in Philadelphia. So we looked a bit further into the purse and found that the ID was fake, and that the purse owner liked to return one-shoulder leopard print dresses to the store after wearing them to Ne-Yo concerts at local lounges. One classy lady.)

Cuddling Monkeys

Patagonian cavy

Lincoln Park Conservatory



Red Velvet Cupcake

Turtle Races

Katie Cakes

Katie Cakes

I ate my way across the city stopping at The Billy Goat Tavern of SNL sketch fame (get a minimum of a double cheezborger), Giordanos for stuffed pizza (like deep dish, but even better), Thai food at Yes, and two stops at A Taste of Heaven for lunch and breakfast (Katie Cakes!!!).

I took advantage of all the free entertainment the city had to offer - old favorites like Free Thursday evenings at the Art Institute, where I stumbled upon a promo performance by Hubbard Street Dance Company, and the Lincoln Park Zoo; along with new finds at like the Lurie Garden in Millenium Park and the Lincoln Park ConservatoryUrbs in Horto indeed! I did some shopping and picked up another sock's worth of yarn at Loopy Yarns, after visiting a co-worker in the South Loop. I also got to experience some turtle racing at Big Joe's bar.

Best of all, I got some valuable "just hanging out" time with Kasey, which included watching both the Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel miniseries. (Which means I now really want to watch the Avonlea series, which my mom recorded every episode of off the Disney Channel back in the day.)

All in all, Chicago was familiar and wonderful and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to return.

Still good


On a completely unrelated note, I just wanted to make mention of two things:

  • Barbara Billingsley, the original Mrs. Cleaver, passed away while I was in Rhinebeck and I just wanted to acknowledge the pop culture debt I owe to her.
  • In all the Hub-bub, my 3-year blogaversary happened (on Oct 18th), without me even realizing it. So thanks to all the readers out there who keep me motivated to keep putting my words and pictures out there. I truly appreciate you all.


From Away


For Memorial Day weekend my friend Kasey came out from Chicago for a visit - we got to do some catching up, get in some shopping, eat some seafood, and soak in the sun.

Baby Mallard

We had a picnic at Evergreen and saw baby ducks and snapping turtles.

Can't believe Mom let me get this close

Played a string of candlepin and a few bucks worth of pinball.


Caught the sunset at Prout's Neck

Sunset at Prout's Neck

Picked up lupines and local food from the farmer's market - including some tasty greens from my favorite farmers.

Lupine Lady

Hula Hooping Skills

We did some shopping for clothes in Freeport.


And some shopping for shellfish in Portland

Selecting Steamers

Caught a game at the ballpark (the first time I ever saw the Seadogs win!)

At the Ballpark

Beer at the Ballpark

Made a fabulous local feast - including  Mr. Cleaver's scallops, Kasey's lobster and clam chowdah, and my first (quite successful) attempt at crab cakes

Ready for his closeup


Local Feast

Lobster Tail

A trip to the chilly beach and a slightly warmer lighthouse.

Braving the Icy Waters

And don't worry - Mr. Cleaver didn't miss out on all the fun - he just didn't make it into all that many pictures!

(and thanks to Kasey for the great time and the use some of your photos - you're welcome back anytime)

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Introducing: Winterberry

Winterberry Gloves & Beret Set

I hope no one minds seeing a very woolly pattern with winter in the name in the midst of spring (at least in this hemisphere), but I'm so excited to finally get this pattern out in the world that I couldn't wait for more appropriate weather.

Winterberry Gloves & Beret Set

This hat and glove set is one of those "necessity is the mother of creation" projects. In back in late 2008(!), my dear friend Kasey requested some knitted elbow-length gloves to go with a 3/4 sleeve coat she had purchased. I was happy to oblige and even though I'd only made a pair of Nordic mittens and no gloves at all, I decided that I needed to design the gloves myself.

Frozen Winterberries

At the time I was heavily inspired by the winter berries that were adding splashes of color to the otherwise gray trees in my neighborhood and having just finished Stephanie Japel's Forecast Cardigan I was well acquainted with bobbles - all of which led up to these gloves:

Winterberry Gloves

The structure didn't change all that much from these originals, with the exception of the thumb, which was improved in the final version.  The red gloves were knit in Ultra Alpaca, which was soft and lovely, but was lacking in the stitch definition I thought the cable panel needed and the sturdiness which gloves require.

Winterberry Gloves & Beret Set

For the final version, then I chose to knit with Peace Fleece Worsted in Antarctica White, which I found to be a very flattering shade.

Winterberry Gloves & Beret Set

With both the Peace Fleece and the Ultra Alpaca, the gloves used a skein and just a teeny bit of a second skein - usually just to finish the fingers on the second hand, so I decide to work up a beret with a complimentary cable pattern. Aside from the cable, the beret is a simple knit, but is just the right size for pulling down over the ears for true warmth.

Winterberry Gloves & Beret Set

The patterns requires some cabling without a cable needle, which is fully explained in the pattern notes and the gloves utilize a 8-row cable repeat, with row counts at the end of each section to keep on track.  The gloves are fitted from elbow to wrist and the hat ribbing is knit on smaller needles to remain cozy for a multitude of head sizes.

Winterberry Gloves & Beret Set

If you're interested in making a your own Winterberry set, you can purchase the pattern in PDF form for $7.00 USD  via my Ravelry store or the PayPal link below:

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Catching Up

So it was about 18°F outside yesterday and today. In general its been cold and yucky outside and I have limited daylight time to take photos due to my 9-5.  This is my excuse as to why I haven't posted about 5 finished knitting projects  - no chance to take decent pictures. That and two of them were Christmas presents and I didn't want to spoil the surprise on the off-chance their recipents checked the blog. Well, the photos aren't super great and I'm still missing the sweater I finished in early November, but here's a quick roundup of some knitting I've done this winter.


I call this my "Fisherman's Wife Beret." It's a fairly simple lace beret and I wear it all the time. I'm working on writing the pattern on it, which I'l let ya'll know about when I finish it.



These were my first go at toe-up. The pattern is Elfine's Socks and I found it to be very well written and I particularly liked the way the heel was done. I used the magic cast on from knitty for the toe - but I need to find a good cast off as I had to use a mechanical pencil to get the top loose enough! The yarn is Jojoland Melody Superwash - the color is great, but the yarn itself I wouldn't use again.

 Big-Headed Bunny

This one was for my mom for Christmas. It's a bunny variation of my own pattern.

Winterberry Gloves

And this is the piece de resistance of my Christmas knitting, the "Winterberry Gloves," for my friend Kasey. I designed them from scratch having never knitted a glove before and they turned out really well. I'm making myself a pair with a few tweaks and am writing up the pattern for this one as well, which I hope to get out in February.

Winter in Maine is good for knitting, what can I say?

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When I moved to Maine, I decided that I wanted to walk more and Mr. Cleaver agreed. We both love to stroll together, in Chicago, we'd jaunt up to Andersonville. Here in Portland, we've ended up in a neighborhood tailor-made for the leisurely stroll. Then houses are lovely to walk along and the other evening we saw some little brown bats in action at the far end of street, there's also Baxter Woods which is a 6/10 mile loop through deciduous and evergreen trees, and then there's Evergreen Cemetery.


Now before you start thinking that I've gone all morbid and spend all my time hanging out in cemeteries, I say fear not. It's just that cemeteries are some the best keep green-spaces ina lot of urban environments, if you don't mind weaving between headstones. I always loved the idea that in the early 1900s people used to have picnics in graveyards. I don't know why the shift occured, but there are plenty of people wandering the trails at Evergreen, so I'm not alone.


I also love the history of graveyards. Who were these people, why did this one deserve a monument, while this person hardly a stone at all?  What happened to the wife on the headstone listed below her husband with a birth, but no death date; and how horrible to lose someone at sea.

Duck Pond

As an added bonus, Evergreen has a trio of duck ponds, filled with Mallards that will eagarly take your stale bread. We also saw what might have been a cormorant. I'd really loved to get a book on the local flora and fauna so I could identify it all.



And my favorite season is knocking at the door!

In a quick round-up of other news. I had my second interview on Monday, but alas, no job there, though the interview went (I felt) very well.

We found a great dresser for $10 at a garage sale this weekend, so I am no longer living out of a suitcase, which is fnatastic for one's pysche. I've also made what seems like an endless series of trips to Target and Walmart to get all the little things, like a toaster or a vacuum.

The book club is reading Watership Down, and I raced through it. I forgot how wonderfully thrilling that book is. Next up on my reading list is Richard Russo's Empire Falls, then I plan to do a survey of New England Poets - feel free to send along any suggestions.

I'm about a third of the way done with the first sleeve on my Forecast sweater and I picked up some lovely leather buttons for it on sale at JoAnn's yesterday. I'm also about halfway through sewing a Kasia skirt out of thick navy blue linen. I'm feeling very confident about my sewing on this piece, though if anyone has a trick for making sure you iron the interfacing on the right side of the fabric I'd love to hear it! I also managed to pick up a great vintage navy blue linen dress/jacket combo at Material Objects, it's an almost exact match in color to the skirt, so I can mix it up with the jacket. I'll post pictures when I get a chance.

I'm assisting my friend Peter on a reading of the play The History Boys for Mad Horse Theatre, I'm not sure the exact date of the reading yet, but I'm excited to be involved!

Our internet is supposed to get hooked up on the 23rd, which I can't wait for, and will hopefully increase the regularity of my posting. Until then - I'm off to enjoy the fall weather!

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Things I'll Miss about Chicago

This list is in no particular order, but here are some of my favorite things about Chicago:


 Field Museum

Keo the Chimp

  • The perfectly wonderful, perfectly free Lincoln Park Zoo.
  • Shopping with Kasey and finding awesome deals.
  • The non-equity theatre scene.
  • Len & Bob's coverage of Cubs Baseball on WGN.
  • Wrigley Field. 


  • Scoring free tickets to not one, but two original plays involving talking paintings.
  • Concerts and the photo booth, not to mention eating dinner near Eisley, at Schubas.
  • Amy Freeze, the meteorologist on Channel 83. (Take that Tom Skilling!)
  • The folks at Epworth United Methodist.
  • Vogue Fabrics in Evanston and the friendly folks at Loopy Yarns.
  • Going for walks in Andersonville and buying Zanzibar Dark Chocolate Ice Cream at Sweet Occasions.
  • Barbecues on Foster Beach.
  • The doormen in our building. 
  • Being 3 blocks from two grocery stores, a deep dish pizza place, and a Blockbuster.


I'm sure I'm forgetting things, but it's a solid list. Yes, I'll miss a lot about Chicago, but don't worry too much about me. I'm going to Maine!


Check One More off the List


It was my friend Kasey's birthday this weekend, and in honor of that very special event, Kasey, her boyfriend David, Mr. Cleaver, and I all went down to Navy Pier.

As some of you may know, Mr. Cleaver and I are moving back to Maine this summer and our time in Chicago is quickly dwindling.

With this in mind, we've been constructing (a mostly mental) list of things we have to do before we leave Chicago. The list includes things like see a show at Steppenwolf (done - Dead Man's Cell Phone), visit the Shedd Aquarium (not done), see a Cubs games (done, but like to do again), eat Katie Cakes at Taste of Heaven (never too many times for this), and so on.

Ferris Wheel

One of the things that has been on my "Chicago-to-do List" ever since I moved to the city was to ride the Ferris Wheel that towers over Navy Pier. At 140 feet in diameter, and a seating capacity of 240, this baby is big - though not as big as the original Ferris Wheel that was built in Chicago for the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 - which stood 264 feet and could carry 2,160 people. (Thank you Devil in the White City)

Well Saturday was finally my day to check that one off the list and was well worth it. The view are amazing:

Chicago Skyline from Ferris Wheel

Chair Swing

Bird's eye view of Mirco Golf

Now it must be said that Mr. Cleaver is not a fan of heights. So here's me waving at Mr. Cleaver.

Waving at John

And here's Mr. Cleaver waving back:

John on the Ground

In addition to our jaunt on Mr. Ferris' wheel, our party of four ate a great lunch at Charlie's Ale House and played a rousing gold of Micro Golf.

Now I say micro and not mini because seriously, look at the size of each of these (18) holes.

Blockin' my shot

My favorite part of the game was making up random "pars" for each hole. I think five was the highest and the average was two or three. Let it be said though, that this is a speedy game, which throngs of small children on either side.

Not that you can't take time to make that perfect shot :)

In the Hunt

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Cabin Fever? Jungle Fever!

So about 3 three weeks ago after about 3 weeks of not bothering to decide. Ms. Kasey and I decided on our next two-person book club selection.

A few months ago I picked up Worlds to Explore: Classic Tales of Travel and Adventure from National Geographic on a whim while browsing at The Book Cellar on Lincoln Ave. When it comes down to finding a specific book, I often find that independent bookstores don't always carry what I need and Amazon is often best.

But when I want to find something I didn't know that I wanted (some of which have become my favorite books - like Outta My Way: An Odd Life Lived Loudly and  The Essays of E.B. White, both picked up at Books Etc. in Portland, ME), I love the independent bookstore, especially when the staff post their handwritten reviews on the shelves.

But back to topic: I was reading the National Geographic book and somewhere at the head of one of the chapters they quoted a poem by Kipling, and then I read the section of India stories (oddly enough, not the section that quoted Kipling), and then a friend of mine sent Mr. Cleaver and I a beautiful yellow bedspread from her recent travels in India, and then I rented the Darling Limited.  All told -I had India on the brain, so of course, our next book had to be The Jungle Books by Kipling.

And as I was going through the stacks in the children's library I spotted The Wind in the Willows, which neither Kasey or I had read, so we made it a double read book club.

Book Club Take 3

Both books, but particularly The Jungle Book(s), are those books, like Peter Pan, that are such a part of our cultural consciousness (largely thanks to Disney) that I sometimes forget whether I actually had ever read the book. (For the record: I've never read the orginal Peter Pan, either.) I finished The Jungle Books on the train this morning, one stop before mine (whew!), and as much as I love  "I wanna be like you" and the "Bear/Bare Necessities" Disney doesn't touch the original with a ten-foot pole.

I'm not going to say anything more, because we haven't met about the books yet, but I'm definitely looking forward to The Wind in the Willows and the Indian food we're going to eat when we do meet.

Did I mention that Kasey? We totally need to eat Indian food to discuss The Jungle Book. Does it go with The Wind in the Willows? Not so much. But I live so close to Devon Ave. and have never gone, so we need to get some Indian food.

PS - If you're thinking about picking up some Kipling a note: The Jungle Book is the Mowgli story only, The Jungle Books (with an 's', and the original printed form) is the Mowgli story interpersed with other Human/Animal interaction tales, like Rikki Tikki Tavi (not to be confused with Riki Tiki Timbo- a wonderfully fun, if terribly inaccurate folktale). Mowgli alone is good, but if you can find the other version, I would recommend it.

And speaking of folktales, since i don't have enough going on in my life right now, I picked up Just So Stories too.

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Sewing Update or The Seven-Year Itchy Wool Dress Part II

So I'm still playing post-Christmas catch-up here, but if I keep my nose to the grindstone, I figure I might get all caught up by the end of January. 

That said, here is the sewing-centric companion to last week's knitting update.

Project #1: Christmas Apron

I wasn't one of the many bloggers who made the handmade pledge because I already knew what I wanted to get my husband, and while part of it was handmade by me (record bowls) and part of it handmade by someone else (Wilco silkscreen), the rest was not and it wasn't really an idea I wanted to give up. 

Mr. Cleaver's Presents

Not entirely handmade, but certainly appreciated by the recipient. 

That said, I did do some additional hand-made gifting, namely the apron below (on left). The pattern was based on a vintage apron I had (on the right). This was pattern-making at its, uh, well it involved some paper bags, a lot of folding and some high-class technical eye-balling and guesswork. 

Apron Buddies 

Apron buddies! 

I didn't have enough material or know-how to make bias tape for the edging, so instead I did some decorative zig-zagging. All in all,  I think it turned out fairly well.  

Apron detail

Lord love the zig-zag stitch. 

And what did I get? In an awesome "Gift-of-the Magi"-but-in-a-totally-better-way turn of events, Kasey got me The Apron Book!

Apron book

That is 100% Pure Excitement there. 

 Project #2: Plaid Wool Dress

 It took seven years to get the dress made, so it's no surprise that it's taken me so long to post about the completion of this project.

I finished the dress about a week and half before Christmas and have worn it several times since then, including for my Breakfast at Tiffany's book club meeting, but every time I wore it I forgot to take a picture. Hopefully I'll remember next time and can post a photo of the dress actually on me, but for now, I leave you with this:

Completed Plaid Dress

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Doughnuts, Croissants, and Diamonds

Or my Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Nothing says class like a pair of giants lips. 

Saturday morning was the second official meeting of my two-person book club, and as regular readers might recall, the book choice for this session was Truman Capote's "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

Since Chicago just happens to have a Tiffany's, Kasey and I had no choice but to meet there for breakfast. Between the doughnuts here and the East of Eden sandwich at our first meeting, we're creating a trend here.

We haven't chosen our next book yet, but if we keep to trend it'll probably be something along the lines of Like Water for Chocolate or Inge's Picnic, anything we can build around food, really. What can I say? I like to read and I like to eat.

Breakfast at Tffany's

Particularly giants lips in feathered nests. 

"Breakfast at Tiffany's" is one of the few book-to-film adaptations that have eclipsed the original. This is not to say the the movie is better than the book, but I think I can definitely say that it is the more famous of the two. Another example could be Brokeback Mountain. While most film adaptations feel disappointing, largely because they lack the richness of the source material, I think these two examples work well because they are adapted from short stories or novellas.

With the novel, something almost always has to get cut. With the short story/novella there is room to do the entire story justice and even to expand. 

 Kasey at Tiffany's

Still, Tiffany's is a classy place. 

This is not to say all we did was compare the film and book, while we sat in the nearby Pottery Barn and discussed, but I'll admit, it was a good chunk of it. After breakfast and discussion, we did a little Holly Golightly inspired shopping, where I got an awesome White House/Black Market dress for about 15 bucks, after which we went back to my apartment and watched , yep, Breakfast at Tiffany's.

So classy

And I am a classy gal. 

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