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. I savored every bit of this espresso drink. 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.

all the pretty houses

The weather has been pretty hit or miss the past couple weeks, but when it hits (i.e., is warm and sunny), I love to explore. Oak Park has pretty houses in abundance. And three distinct historic districts to boot.

Here are some cool finds:

This Victorian in the Frank Lloyd Wright Historic District has enviable porch space. Perfect for hanging Kimberly Queen ferns, IMO.

Odd and interesting: This driveway arch with the little sunroom above.

And then this home, well, all of it is spectacular.

bright colors are my jam

Bright colors are my jam, if I’m being honest. In a world of grey, beige, and greige, why seek any of those when you can surround yourself with vivid hues? I stopped at Cupcakes for Courage on Lake Street yesterday to pick up some baked items for a friend and was taken with the bakery’s bright green walls.

Oak Park Illinois Cupcakes for Courage

Oak Park Illinois Cupcakes for Courage

The baked goods are also decent and worth checking out. Cupcakes for Courage donates a portion of the proceeds to fund medical research for non-Hodgkins T-cell Lymphoma. To learn about this bakery’s mission, visit here.

village (of oak park) people and places

On Monday, I made the 12-hour hike from Jackson, Mississippi, to Oak Park, Illinois. I loved the drive through north Mississippi. So many trees. So green. The rest of the drive was kind of a slog, but I made it (with one dog and cat in tow) to Oak Park by about 6 p.m. The apartment/flat is cuter/bigger than I remember. (Always a good combo.) Noodled around the Village the last two days, and here’s what I found.

The Village people (I guess I’m one of them now) are very nice. They sound a lot like me, which is equal parts odd and comforting.

As for places, the Village has some neat ones to explore. The Oak Park Conservatory has the most fantastic Ponderosa Lemon tree. For real.

Oak Park Illinois Oak Park Conservatory Ponderosa lemon tree

The public library is a campus. I could easily get lost in there for hours, I’m sure.

Oak Park Illinois Oak Park Public Library

And then there are many murals, which I quite love.

Oak Park Illinois Murals

Oak Park Illinois Murals

Spring seems weeks away–very few flowers or much green right now. So for the time being I plan on enjoying cheer and color in places where I find it.

mom’s uncle jimmy was a world-famous trick roper

This may surprise you, given my strong ties to and affinity for big city (Chicago) living. My roots are solidly Midwestern, and one of my relatives (Jimmy Kaaro of Lewiston) was inducted posthumously into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2011. Jimmy was a famed circus performer and trick roper in his day. My Aunt Nan shared this photo with me, which I love.

Jimmy Kaaro

Jimmy was adopted by my grandmother’s Aunt Ellen and her husband in Lewiston, Montana in 1917. When Jimmy was in the ninth grade, he quit school to break horses for $2.50 a head. When he was 16, he rode his first bucking horse at a rodeo. I mean, my goodness. I understand that he performed in circuses, rodeos, fairs, and even the Johnny Carson Tonight Show. My Aunt Nan has fond memories of her Uncle Jimmy. He would spin his rope and lasso her and her siblings at family get togethers in Lewiston.

Jimmy continued to perform as a trick roper well into his 60s. Exactly one day after retiring from the Montana State Labor Department, he performed at the Sheriff & Peace Officers Association Convention in Hamilton, Montana, where he accidentally fell off his horse and later died from his injuries.

To learn about Jimmy, head on over here. Here’s to a great life lived.