sneaky delightful

Murals–I love them in just about any setting. From big city boulevards to unnoticed corners of small towns, I will put it in park to admire a great mural. Especially one that incorporates bright colors. I was buzzing down Chicago Avenue in the West Town neighborhood last month and–BOOM–this.

Muralist Louise Jones aka Ouizi is responsible for this treasure titled “West Town in Bloom.” Developed in collaboration with Chicago Truborn Gallery, West Town Chamber of Commerce, and West Town Bakery and Diner, this mural has massive scale. It’s the most surprising experience to experience sunflowers that easily measure more than six feet tall. From any angle, this is a great mural. It’s sneaky delightful.

Ouizi is a Detroiter, so if you visit the Motor City, you’re in luck. Detroit is home to 40 of Ouizi’s murals, many of which are memorialized in photos here.

mario’s italian lemonade on w. taylor

Need to beat the heat and to kick it Little Italy style? Mario’s Italian Lemonade on W. Taylor is a sure prescription.

Chicago Illinois Little Italy Mario's Italian Lemonade Taylor Avenue

Founded in 1954 by Mario and Dorothy DiPaolo and still operated by the DiPaolo family today, this lemonade stand is a beloved gathering place. It serves Italian ice in an assortment of flavors. The signature lemon ice includes pieces of lemon rind and zest, which balances this drink’s sweetness. If salty snacks are your thing, Mario’s sells seeds, nuts and my favorite–pickled lupini beans, which you can eat with or without the shells. Nom.

out with the tulips, in with the spirea

Last week seemed to be the last gasp for local tulips and the honeysuckle blossoms. As the temperatures got warmer, these blooms appeared to be signaling, See ya next year and peace out. But taking their place are these bridal veil spirea (spiraea prunifolia) flowers.

Oak Park Illinois Gardening Horseradish Armoracia Rusticana Flowers

The late afternoon sun caught these flowers just so. Late spring is here, and it is magic.

the precise artistry of stained glass windows

As a full-time job searcher, I stopped buying non-essential things many months ago. But experiences? I budget for those. Hiked my way north and east to #Evanston to visit the Halim Museum of Time and Glass yesterday. More than 70 pieces of stained glass window art and 1,100+ time pieces.

Stained glass window making is a precise art, from what I gathered. Colors are accomplished with different types of glass, silver stains, acid etching, intricate cutting, and plating. For example, striated glass is sometimes plated with nodular glass.

Some window colors sparkle so brightly.

Evanston Illinois Halim Museum of Time and Glass Stained glass window

In some windows, as in this one, the artist hand carved a heavy slab of orange glass to create a jewel-adorned appearance.

Evanston Illinois Halim Museum of Time and Glass Stained glass window

And types of glass–how many can there be? Bunches. This stained glass window, Spirit of the Revolution by Frederick Lamb (1863-1928), incorporates the following glass types: opalescent, drapery, herringbone, striated, mottled, nodular, hammered, fractured, and acid-etched flash glass.

Evanston Illinois Halim Museum of Time and Glass Stained glass window Frederick Lamb

Admission for this museum is $19 and some change. Marvel and enjoy.

a perfect cup of espresso: the Franziskaner from Julius Meinl

Sometimes the smallest of experiences can transport you to across-the-world places. A cup of espresso from Julius Meinl in #Lakeview did that for me earlier today.

Chicago Illinois Lakeview Julius Meinl Franziskaner Espresso

It’s the Franziskaner–a double shot of Viennese espresso with steamed milk and a dollop of whipped cream. To visit Julius Meinl is like stepping into an Austrian cafe. All of their drinks are made to order and served on a silver tray with a spoon, complimentary caramel biscuit, and glass of ice water. Lovely taste-of-Vienna experience.

the ukrainian national museum on w. superior

#Chicago is a diverse quilt of a city. Interesting neighborhoods in all corners and in between. A Near West Side neighborhood gem is the Ukrainian Village, and a gem in this gem is the Ukrainian National Museum on W. Superior. Founded in 1952, this museum boasts a cool collection of fine and folk arts. This painting by Yuri Olishkevych draws the viewer in.

Chicago Illinois Ukrainian National Museum Yuri Olishkevych painting

On the second floor is a huge collection of pysanka (Ukrainian easter eggs). These tiny decorative eggs take, on average, four hours each to paint.

Chicago Illinois Ukrainian National Museum Pysanka Ukrainian Easter eggs

There is a room devoted to portraits of Cossack military leaders. This is Yurii Khmelytnsky, who spent a portion of his life as a monk.

Chicago Illinois Ukrainian National Museum Yurii Khmelytnsky painting

There are also instruments to admire.

Chicago Illinois Ukrainian National Museum Instrument

And then the traditional Ukrainian embroidered items–shirts, dresses, coats, collars, you name it–are boldly colored and patterned. Much to learn and appreciate here, and admission is just $5.

Chicago Illinois Ukrainian National Museum Traditional Ukrainian embroidery

Chicago Illinois Ukrainian National Museum Traditional Ukrainian embroidery

happy bees, happy life

Local bees are taking full advantage of spring flowers in Oak Park, and who could blame them? These nearby cherry blossoms are potent draws for bumblebees.

Oak Park Illinois Cherry blossom

These flowering honeysuckle shrubs also attract bees and cast the best smell. The air is perfumed with their scent. Dreamy.

Oak Park Illinois Honeysuckle

You might be wondering, what makes bees happy? An article by Melissa Caughey offers insight on what makes bees cranky. We can infer the following on what contributes to bee happiness:

  • Good weather
  • Abundant food sources
  • Freedom from predators
  • A nice queen

To read up on bee behavior, click here.