Musings of a Museum Fanatic: May 2016


University Club of Chicago

Two weeks ago I got the privilege of visiting one of Chicago's oldest private social clubs, The University Club of Chicago. Founded in 1887 by a group of university graduates who wanted a place where they could get together, enjoy intellectual pursuits and promote literature and the arts. This led to the need for a university degree to be the core requirement for membership, which continues to be the core requirement today.

I started off my visit with a wonderful lunch in the Front Grill, which is just one of several meal options at the University Club. With top chef, Mark Baker, at the helm everything on the menu which includes comfort foods, seasonal offerings and an express lunch for those who want to sit down to a nice meal without keeping an eye on their watch. I decided to have the express lunch.  It was really the homemade soup that finished off that decision! The chocolate gelato with the sugar cookie baked in the in house bakery was the cherry on a lovely meal.

After lunch we started on the tour, which lets be honest was my absolute favorite and the part I had been looking forward to in the two weeks before my visit. The groundbreaking on the 76 E. Monroe building started in 1907 and the building was completed in 1909. Designed by Martin Roche of Holabird & Roche, known for their groundbreaking Chicago School skyscrapers and projects such as Soldier Field, the University Club of Chicago was a groundbreaking project in it's own right being on of the first, if not the first, Gothic skyscrapers built. 

The piece de resistance of the building, in my opinion, is Cathedral Hall. Modeled after Crosby Hall in London this awe-inspiring room boasts so many artistic attributes with the crown jewels being the stained glass windows. Designed by Frederic Clay Bartlett, a member of the University Club and trustee of the Art Institute, the windows showcase a zodiac sign as well as a general theme for each window, including topics like music, American colleges, the arts, etc. Throughout the years there have been coats of arms donated in representation of various universities. These works of art were created by the last living member of the Heraldic Wood Carvers in Germany and were then authenticated by The College of Heraldry in London.

 Photo provided by University Club of Chicago

Like many skyscrapers built during this time there are an insane amount of beautiful details and you pair that with the University Club of Chicago's art collection and it's a jaw dropping sight. 

Membership in the University Club of Chicago includes so many benefits. The two that stand out as my favorite are the wonderful dining venues at a fantastic price (where can you get a multiple course lunch for under $20 in the Loop?) and the 12,000 plus library. There are so many societies that you can be a part of it's hard not to find one that would interest you, from the Beer Society to the Writing Society.

Interested in more athletic pursuits? The squash program is nationally ranked and the University Club hosts both professional and amateur events throughout the year. In addition to more organized athletics there are group exercise facilities, cardio machines and weight machines. Plus who could turn away discounted massages.

Like many private clubs there are guest rooms that members can take advantage of. With it's perfect Loop location this is the perk that is for someone who is working late and lives in the burbs, wants a fantastic stay-cation weekend by all the best Chicago has to offer or just wants something new for the night. I got a chance to peek into the room and loved all the details I saw! The blueprint canvases of the building were fantastic.

Membership is open to anyone and everyone with the main requirements for membership are degree from an accredited college or university and a nomination and two supporting letters from an existing member.. There are two different types of memberships, Non-Resident and Resident, which depending on your mileage from the club will change the fee you pay. For more information on the levels and how it would be specifically for you contact membership@ucco.comThe University Club of Chicago hosts monthly events open to prospective members with their next one coming up next week on June 6. if you are interested and want to learn more about membership contact them at

Getting a behind the scenes look at this Chicago institution was wonderful and I'm glad I had the opportunity!


“Share A Coke And A Song" Lyric Canvas

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

​It's always fun to get inspiration from different places for DIY projects and gifts for friends and family. Since I love music it wasn't very hard to get inspired to #ExpressUrSelfie by the “Share A Coke And A Song" lyrics that are featured on Diet Coke® (plus there is an amazing Share a Coke sweepstakes right now!) and other Coca-Cola™ products. 

It wasn't hard to figure out who I'd be sharing a song with either. With my college best friend's birthday in the not to distant future I knew I needed something that showed our love of music and our song. Yes my best friend and I have a song. Don't you have one with your best friend? At some point during our college career "More Than a Feeling" became our song and we love to sing it with each other out of tune of course) and it makes me think of my best friend every time I hear it.

Kevin and I made sure to stop and take some time during our latest grocery trip to Jewel and pick out some very inspiring bottles! I think I spent like 10 minutes picking out the bottles with the best lyrics. Jewel had a ton of stock to choose from, we even were checking out the coolers at the end Gotta make sure I have great inspiration right? I was super excited to find a bottle that had "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" on it. While "More than a feeling" is our #1 song, 80's classics like "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" are a close second for 80's junkies like us.

I thought with those two phrases would be perfect to make two little mini lyric canvases. After a not so subtle attempt at figuring out what colors Becky would like for something on her wall I was off to the craft store to get some spray paint & canvases!

The tools needed for this project are pretty easy this time around.

Mini canvases
Spray paint
Paint tools for how you want to write out your lyrics (I used a paint pen & paint brush and craft paint)
Drop cloth
Diet Coke with “Share A Coke And A Song" lyrics for inspiration

First off head outside to use the spray paint. Be sure to use your drop cloth!! I did a test spray since I haven't used spray paint in forever, I would highly suggest it. Spray! I wanted to make sure there were different looks to the paint on each of the canvases so I did not spray too heavily.

Kevin got a great action shot of me spraying the purple canvas. Again try to make them different and unique. You and your best friend are unique, the lyrics are unique so why should each piece of canvas art look the same?

Break time! Besides needing to be outdoors for the spray paint it was a beautiful day to enjoy the balcony with a cold Diet Coke while the spray paint dried. I had some time to test the new Shazam app too, which helps you identify songs and get lyrics, I have an android but it is available on Apple products as well. I definitely put the app through the ringer, I did trick it one time with a remix of a 90's song but it was a remix. If you snap a shot of the Share a Song lyrics on your Diet Coke bottle it takes you to a video where you can make your own mini music video. Let's just say I had way too much fun with that part!

For the next part you can bring it back in to the kitchen table.

I'm not very good freehand so I gave myself a little guide for the orange canvas, where I went with the paint pen. For the purple canvas I freehanded with the small paint brush. Not gonna lie next time I'll figure out a stencil and go that route haha. My handwriting leaves something to be desired but I know Becky will love it because she knows my handwriting and what the lyrics represent.

I had such a ball making these super easy. If you're a big fan of gallery walls doing something like this will add distinct pops of color among your photos. My plan is to do a few more for my best friend and make a little lyrics gallery.

Who would you make a “Share A Coke And A Song" lyric canvas for?

Enter to win the Share a Coke Sweepstakes at for a chance to win tickets to the American Music Awards and more.


Tortilla Crusted Fish

I love to cook, I know as if that wasn't obvious! As I was saying, I love to cook but one area of cooking I don't tend to enter into is creating my own recipes. Sure I'll cook stuff from scratch, like throwing some great rubs on meat and such  but I don't know if I've ever really just thought of an idea and then cooked it. 

Last week I had an epiphany moment on how to use some of the three boxes of hard shell tortillas I had some how acquired ... tortilla crusted fish!! 

Tortilla Crusted Fish

Hard Taco Shells (I used a box and a half of Old El Paso)
Flour & Egg for binding
Fish (we had blue gill but any white fish would work, or this will be great with chicken)
Oil, for frying
Seasoning of your choice

1. Crunched up shells in a plastic baggie. 

2. Then crush them with a Meat Tenderizer or a pan.

3. Add the spices of you choosing to the shells. I would recommend something like Pampered Chef's Tex Mex Rub.

4. Set up your breading stations. Then bread the fish (or chicken) with flour, egg then lastly the shell crumbs.

5. Fry in oil until the fish is cooked. Then set aside on a paper towel covered plate to sop up the extra oil.

6. Enjoy!!


Mother's Day at Meson Sabika

Sunday I got to celebrate Mother's Day with my side of the family while Kevin was up in Wisconsin putting the piers in at their cottage with his dad. Usually my family doesn't go for brunch on the holidays but this year we decided to go a little different and had brunch (can you call it brunch when it's at 2?) at Meson Sabika. Meson is a Spanish restaurant just outside of downtown Naperville with some amazing tapas. Located inside the Willoway Manor, built in 1847, Meson Sabika was the perfect place to celebrate my Mom and sister in law.  

The spread was fantastic. With bowls and bowls of fresh fruit, cold and hot tapas off the regular menu along with a carving station. I was brave and even tried the caviar topped cucumbers (pictured above on the left) and made sure to get some favorites like their famous garlic potato salad (above). I chickened out when it came to trying out the octopus on the toast. It looked good but I just couldn't this time!

As per usual when we're out to dinner with my family it was dinner and show thanks to my nephew. My brother and I waited while Bethany and my Mom went through the buffet first and you could tell Lane was getting hungry. He was not just eyeing everyone else's plates that walked by he would follow them with his entire head. Needless to say I was highly amusing by that!

Just like the rest of the meal dessert was fantastic. I very much enjoyed the profiterole and the ice cream topped off the meal with a nice cool ending. We've decided that we really need to make brunch at Meson Sabika a regular thing.

It was such a nice Mother's Day with my family! Now we're ready to celebrate with Kevin's family this coming weekend!