Flowers are my church, I’ve decided. Don’t mistake me, I like non-flowering plants a lot, but flowers? Their beauty inspires.
A week ago I mentioned to one of my Chicago friends that the camellia trees in the backyard of my old house in Jackson, Mississippi, should be blooming by now. Yesterday I found these beauties at Garfield Park Conservatory.
Pretty is as pretty does.
Not often that I pay $17 for a Reuben, but I gladly forked over a twenty and change because… Manny’s. Legendarily known for their corned beef (I’m sure the turkey pastrami is also great), Manny’s serves up all sorts of sandwiches, salads, soups, and sides.
It is a true cafeteria experience. Grab a tray and your spot in line.
And then let’s dissect this sandwich. Corned beef piled high on rye bread with sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. (Thousand Island dressing is available on the side.)
Many side options but I decided to kick it old school with a perfectly fried latke.
Chicago’s Lincoln Park Conservatory is a gem of a visit. Poinsettias in varying shades of pink.
Giant Swiss Cheese Plants.
A fruit-heavy papaya tree.
And an assortment of model trains (and more poinsettias).
In Chicago’s North Center neighborhood you’ll find a little bit of Sverige (Sweden). The Sweden Shop on W. Foster is one of my favorite go-tos for gifts and Swedish candies.
Swedes are pretty serious about fika, as evidenced by this wall of colorful mugs.
You can also score different Scandinavian fabrics if sewing is your thing. God Jul (merry Christmas) to all.
Chicago is like an English muffin. Lots of interesting nooks and crannies, and Chinatown has many. Tucked off Wentworth Street is Ping Tom Memorial Park. Wander down a concrete path and you’ll find yourself near the 18th Street bridge.
Not much to look at unless you walk under it.
The views are grand.
One of my favorite Chicago haunts is the Garfield Park Conservatory on Central Park just north of Lake Street. It has an Aroid House, which is a large room containing all sorts of aroids, spiky plants belonging to the Araceae family.
Plant size and form vary considerably.
Bunny Ears Cactus. Notice the tiny white clusters of glochids.
Golden Barrel Cactus.
And Queen Victoria Agave.
Admire with ease, but handle with caution.
I love upstart independent coffee roasters, so couldn’t help but be intrigued by this Western Ave. storefront in Ukrainian Village.
And this roaster has quite the origin story. Jesse Diaz served coffee at Star Lounge in 2007. Two months into his employment, the owners shared that they wanted to sell. So Jesse got a $2,000 loan from a childhood friend, and Dark Matter Coffee was born. The coffee is great, and the blends are quirky, edgy fun.
There is Unicorn Blood.
The Bourbons of Dr. Funkenstein. (Seriously, this artwork!)
And for Guns N’ Roses fans, Warm November Rain.
The staff at the mothership location could not be nicer, BTW.