Musings of a Museum Fanatic: March 2016


Chicago Stay-Cation Weekend

At the beginning of March one of my best friends, Becky, mentioned that she had a long weekend coming up. We had been trying to figure out a little road trip weekend but had decided with our budget we should do a nicer stay-cation weekend, going anywhere would take all of our money just with a flight and hotel. Whereas if we stayed in Chicago we could actually make a crazy fun weekend of it.

When I realized the dates she was talking about would coincide with the St. Patrick's celebrations around the city I knew it was meant to be! So I worked on booking us a good priced hotel and figuring out what we were going to do that weekend and we were off. I found a great deal at the Hampton Inn & Suites Chicago-Downtown, which is smack-dab in the River North neighborhood, which made it the perfect location for everything we wanted to do for the weekend.

Saturday morning I was up bright and early to catch the 6:20 train, Kevin was up as well since he was amazing and dropped me off. I wanted to make sure I got in to the city with enough time to drop off my bag and high tail it to the river to see the dying of the Chicago River green for St. Patrick's Day. I definitely made it and had a front row seat, glad I could check it off my 101 list.

Once Becky got in, after a little bit of issues with the South Shore train line we were off to the West Loop to work on one of my restaurants off that 101 list item, Au Cheval. I had done my research and knew that the wait time could be up to an hour but I figured with all the festivities we might get lucky. I was wrong! Still had to wait but with the nice weather we strolled for a while.

After both of us ordering the cheeseburger with fried egg and bacon we both understood why this burger keeps getting ranked number one all over the place. We should all be proud that I actually finally ate a runny egg yolk too! To be totally honest I could have done with just the runny yolk and without the rest of the egg on the sandwich. In addition to the burgers we split the green salad off their brunch menu and were perfectly satisfied.

Since we were totally full we headed back towards the hotel to figure out our next move. Since there was 6 hours in between then and our evening plans we though we would take in a movie. What did we agree on? Yup a Disney movie! Zootopia it was and we really enjoyed it.

Kevin's old band 'Stache decided to be oh so accommodating and play literally a block from our hotel from 6-9pm that night. Which the two of us decided was perfect since we're old and go to bed at like 10pm now ha.

Sunday was more taking it easy! We walked around the Loop and Michigan Avenue hit up some stores.

Our Sunday afternoon we decided to pamper ourselves and get massages at Mario Tricoci. When I called to make the appointment and mentioned it was a best friend weekend the scheduler booked us in the couple's room. Which seems a little silly but was kinda fun! I had been to other Mario Tricoci salon's but the spa at this location was amazing. We had robes we got to wear, we were able to use the steam room (not for me!) and the quiet room. It was a great experience.

Later that night we had dinner at Gaylord Fine Indian Cuisine. That location was just as good as the Schaumburg location so we left very happy and full. Then followed it up with chilling at the hotel and taking advantage of the pool & hot tub.

Monday started off with a leisurely start and we met up with my friend Jackie for one of our favorite Japanese places, OYSY Sushi, for lunch. As per usual it was delicious. Then Becky and I hot footed it to the Art Institute to check out the Van Gogh Bedrooms Exhibit. Check out my post on that with photos, that was a fantastic exhibit! I was able to check off my 101 List a visit to the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM too!

We topped off the weekend with the most adult thing I can think of doing ... high tea at the Drake!

It was an awesome weekend with one of my best friends!


The Van Gogh Bedrooms

2016 has been the year of blockbuster exhibits at Chicago museums, first there was the Greeks at the Field Museum and now at the Art Institute the Van Gogh Bedrooms! Becky and I made a point to go see the exhibit during our stay-cation trip earlier this month. Being near museums that are able to bring in art and artifacts that might never be seen anywhere but their original museums is amazing.

Going in to the exhibit I knew there was a recreation of the bedroom and all three of the paintings but for some reason I was under the impression that was it to the exhibit. Clearly I was wrong on that aspect! I love how much of his story and the history behind the Bedroom paintings was shared, for me I love to hear those stories behind the art it make the art itself mean so much more.

Even though we went on a Monday it was still pretty packed and I wish I would have been able to get a closer look at certain parts of the exhibit. Maybe since Becky is a member of the Art Institute now we'll get a chance to visit the exhibit again before leaves May 10. Now for the fun part ... photos of the exhibit!


Chicago St. Patrick's Day River Dyeing

St. Patrick's Day is a big deal in Chicago and one of the most iconic parts of the celebrations is the dying of the Chicago river green. Since it always brings in the big crowds I've always stayed away but when I made my new 101 list I thought I should be a good Chicagoian an experience it first hand. When Becky suggested we have our stay-cation the weekend of March 12th I knew I had to make sure I got downtown with enough time to see the river dyeing in person.

Over fifty years ago the tradition of dyeing the river green arose by accident when plumbers used fluorescein dye to trace sources of illegal pollution discharges and the dyeing of the river is still sponsored by the local plumbers union today. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has since outlawed the use of fluorescein for this purpose, since it was shown to be harmful to the river. The committee now uses a closely guarded secret formula vegetable dye that only lasts for so long.


Hoop Balls

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GreatTasteTourney #CollectiveBias

When March finally rolls around after the long winter I am so ready for the Big Tournament it's not even funny. Since Kevin and I decided to take it easy this weekend after my being sick and watch from home I thought I'd basketball-ify one of our favorite desserts ... Poop Balls into Hoop Balls!

It worked out perfectly since we decided last minute before we headed to Jewel for our weekly grocery shopping. We decided to pick up some other stuff to make the evening more enjoyable as well, including Coca-Cola Zero™. Jewel decided to rock, as per usual, and both the Coke Zero and the OREOS needed for the Hoop Balls were on sale for great prices yahoo!

Hoop Balls

1 package cream cheese, softened
16 oz White chocolate, white almond bark or candy melts
Food dye
Semi sweet chocolate chips or dark almond bark (enough for basketball lines)

1. Start by crushing up the OREOS in a food processor until they're fine.

2. Add softened cream cheese to crushed cookies and mix until combined.

3. Make mixture into about 1 inch balls and put onto lined cookie sheet. Put cookie sheet into fridge for about 15 minutes until balls are firm.

4. While you wait for balls to harden enjoy the 6 leftover OREOS and a refreshing Coke Zero! 

5. Melt the white chocolate or almond bark and add dye to make it orange. Even with the amount of dye I used it didn't turn as vivid of an orange color, more of a light peach, as I had hoped but next time I know you need more!

Also make sure not to heat it too much, I melted it just a little too much and it started to seize a bit so it didn't end with as nice a ball shape because of this.

6. Dip the OREO balls into the melted chocolate with a fork and shake off excess.

7. Melt the chocolate and then put into a plastic baggie. Cut off a little bit of the corner to use as a decorator.

8. Make lines to look like a basketball.

I was going to take a really cute photo of Kevin with the Hoop Ball but as per usual he was just ready to eat and that's what I got ha.

VOILA! You've got your Hoop Balls, perfect for your at home night for the Big Tournament or if you need something to bring to a party along with some refreshing Coke Zero to share with everyone. For even more refreshing Coke Zero fun Visit for a chance to win NCAA prizes.

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