pretty is as pretty does

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.

the reuben sandwich from manny’s cafeteria and delicatessen

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.

the sweden shop in north center

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.

The Sweden Shop Chicago Illinois North Center neighborhood

Swedes are pretty serious about fika, as evidenced by this wall of colorful mugs.

The Sweden Shop Chicago Illinois North Center neighborhood Fika

You can also score different Scandinavian fabrics if sewing is your thing. God Jul (merry Christmas) to all.

The Sweden Shop Chicago Illinois North Center neighborhood

handle with caution

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.

Yellow Tower.

Aeonium.

Golden Barrel Cactus.

And Queen Victoria Agave.

Admire with ease, but handle with caution.

dark matter coffee

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.