Musings of a Museum Fanatic: August 2017

8.30.2017

Quotes You Should Be Living By

There is no map for life. As much as I would like a map, it doesn't even have to be the full map. I'll take that little bit that shows up when you Google something before you go to the full blown Google Maps page. Since unfortunately none of us have this elusive life map we're left to figure it out. I really like collecting collecting sayings and some of my favorites are ones that I should be living by. I like to think of them like little chunks of the life map.

What is your favorite quote or mantra that you live by?


"I know for sure what we dwell on is who we become."
~ Oprah

"Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows."


All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Don't fear death, fear the un-lived life”
~ Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting

"If you're going through hell, keep going."
~ Winston Churchill


"The fool didn't know it was possible, so he did it."

"Whether you think you can, or you think you can't — either way you're right."
~  Henry Ford

Don't live the same year 75 times and call it a life
~ Robin Sharma


I’d rather look back at my life and say “I can’t believe I did that” instead of saying “I wish I did that"

It's time to remember what it feels like to be alive.
~ Northlane


Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

8.28.2017

Brunch at Mia Francesca

***I was invited to this brunch as part of Windy City Blogger Collective but all opinions are my own


Most of my friends are very into brunch these days, lets be honest aren't most people? Really brunch has become the new "it" meal. As part of the Windy City Blogger Collective I was able to join a group of other Chicago area bloggers for brunch at Mia Francesca Lakeview. 



The Francesca group of restaurants has a number of different locations in and around Chicago. I've been to the Arlington Heights location for a Gamma Phi event but other than that it was my first time. Since the brunch at Mia Francesca Lakeview is newer I was excited to try it out.


One of the staples of a good brunch is the drink menus. Mia Francesca has a top notch selection of mimosas and bloody marys on their menu all for $5! If you want to go with a carafe that's only $20. Perfect set up for you and a couple of friends. They don't just use the cheap stuff either this the good stuff.



The menu is perfect for everyone. There is a fabulous range of breakfast dishes along with some not so breakfast dishes. For me this is perfect, I operate under the mantra of once it hits 10:30 it's lunch time. For my meal I went for the Linguine Ubriaco. It was fantastic. Delicious shrimp, broccoli and linguine and a light but decadent vodka tomato cream sauce. In true blogger fashion we were all getting photos of each other's meals as well!




I got a chance to meet Ashley from Hasty Book List and Dannie from Stile.Foto.Cibo. It was fantastic talking with both of them since we're all in similar type of work. Naturally we all had quite a lot to chat about! Ashley let me get a photo of her meal, which was the Capicolla Spinach Benedict. She said it was fantastic and the eggs just oozed so deliciously. Next time I think I'd opt to try the ravioli they looked wonderful.



We even got a surprise! Glazed and Infused is owned by the same company and they sent over a small create your own doughnut hole bar for us. Needless to say everyone went a little bonkers! Who wouldn't for doughnut holes with tons of toppings. We also found out that when you host your event at any of the restaurants you can get Glazed & Infused doughnuts brought in since they're all in the same restaurant family. How great is that!?

It was a lovely brunch filled with lovely company, drinks and food. I can't wait to join Mia Francesca again for brunch!



Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition 
to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic
on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, 
you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

8.23.2017

9 Quick Weekend Getaways



While it's awesome to go on huge, fancy, expensive vacations sometimes it's nice to take a smaller trip. You don't have to travel as far. Since you're driving the costs can been kept lower. There are so many perks to the local vacation or stay-cation. Being in the Chicago area and the upper Midwest there are so many wonderful options that are just a couple of hours away. I'll be focusing on trips that are two hours or less from downtown Chicago.

Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva is a wonderful resort area with so many different options for all seasons and all budgets. We really enjoyed our December long weekend in Lake Geneva even though the weather kept us inside. Many a Chicagoan heads to Lake Geneva for a long or short weekend getaway.

Milwaukee WI
The other city on the lake to our north, this city if full of fun and great times. There are awesome museums, breweries and great restaurants. When we went several years ago for the Zelda Symphony concert we were able to hoof it all around downtown without even taking our car out of the garage. Milwaukee gives you a lot of the same things you love about Chicago but in a smaller more manageable city for those who aren't really city people.

Madison, WI
This one city that I plan on exploring more this upcoming summer. With Kevin's parent's cottage only being 15 minutes from downtown Madison we really haven't taken advantage of all the city has to offer. Over Memorial Day weekend 2016 we took an afternoon to walk around the beautiful Wisconsin state building and enjoy a drink at a local place we wandered into. With the Wisconsin Historical Museum and several others right downtown I know those are on my list for this summer. The University of Wisconsin is right downtown and there are always some sort of

South Bend, IN
I'm partial to South Bend these days since my best friend has been living there. It's got a college town and small city vibe all rolled into one. We've enjoyed hanging out in the very nice downtown area, killer brunch at a fantastic historic mansion and for those beer fanatics it's the home of Evil Czech brewing.

The Indiana Dunes
This one brings me back to college. With The Dunes being just down the road from Valpo we went there several times while in school. They are a perfect vacation for the outdoorsy type. You could even do this as a day trip from Chicago since it's only an hour.

Oak Park, IL
This is the closest weekend getaway you could have without actually staying in the city. There is so much to see in Oak Park it's ridiculous. For me it's all about the architecture when I think of Oak park. With Frank Lloyd Wright all over the place you know you're going to be seeing some amazing buildings for sure. Be sure to check out the newly restored Unity Temple.

Starved Rock
A favorite of my friends Starved Rock is an easy day trip but stay at one of the lovely hotels right in the area or even in the park at the Starved Rock Lodge to make it a full weekend. There is all sorts to do and see. Top of my list would be the Fall Colors trolley tour from the Starved Rock Lodge. I can only imagine how beautiful the colors are!

St. Joseph & Benton Harbor, MI
This area has become the Napa of the Midwest with many a vineyard and winery. A quick wine weekend getaway to this area is the perfect way to unwind. These two great towns right on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan are ideal for relaxing and enjoying yourself. If you're visiting in the summer this area is also known for berries so be sure to find a great pick it yourself place.

Naperville, IL 
Since I grew up pretty much in Naperville it seems a bit odd to recommend it as a weekend get away! With the new Hotel Indigo that's now open in downtown Naperville right on the riverwalk it makes a great downtown area a perfect weekend getaway. I've always loved just wandering up and down the riverwalk. There are tons of great shops and restaurants to check out. Be sure to stop by Naper Settlement, it's a must on my list!

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

8.21.2017

Money Museum


I have been wanting to visit the Money Museum for years! I tried last year when I had a day off but failed to realize that the museum was closed due to it being a federal holiday duh! The Money Museum was definitely worth the wait though. This museum is free so besides being closed on federal holidays there should be nothing stopping. 




I actually first realized there was a museum when I would walk by on my way to catch the bus to the Field Museum. I'm sure thousands of people walk right by this fantastic museum a day and don't even realize it's there. When you look into the windows off Jackson the museum actually looks somewhat small but when I finally went in it was anything but! The space was really quite large and there were so many great hands on exhibits. 


I loved how interactives there are in the Money Museum. Money and finances can be such an adult topic but they really make it fun and engaging. Plus the bribe of free (shredded) money totally helps right?



Two of my favorite parts of the museum was the huge amount of change in the floor (above) and the million dollars (below). I love that it really put it into context how much that actually is!




In addition to getting you to think about money and how it is today there are some wonderful artifacts such as early American currency, notes from the Civil War and other early bank notes. If you're not able to make it to Chicago to see it there is a wonderful virtual exhibit on their website. 



The Money Museum is definitely one I would recommend people add to their list, it's well worth a visit and you can't beat the entrance price!

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

8.18.2017

50 Free Things to do in Chicago

Living in and visiting Chicago can get pretty expensive at times. What can we say there is just some awesome stuff in our city! It doesn't always have to be expensive though there are plenty of fun free things to do around Chicago.

With the museums I've listed here they're all free museums all the time but for smaller museums it's always lovely to make a donation if you're able to.

For the rest of the list head over to Stephanie's blog!



Spring

Visit another country without a passport
There are 77 neighborhoods in Chicago and too many to count suburbs in the greater Chicago area. Each of them has their own story and personality. You can take a trip to another country just by visiting neighborhoods like the very Swedish Andersonville or Greektown in the West Loop. While you'll have to pull out the pocketbook to get a delicious meal there are so many sights to see in these neighborhoods that don't cost a dime. 

Meet up with a Chicago Greeter
You can sign up before you come to visit Chicago to take a 2-4 hour tour with a volunteer guide for free! Not only will they take you for free you can customize the tour to what neighborhood you'd like to check out plus if you need someone who speaks another language they can hook you up too.

Stroll through the Gold Coast
The Chicago architecture scene is top notch, we've got beautiful buildings ranging from skyscrapers to bungalow houses. For a lovely stroll to take in the mansion scene there is no better place than the Gold Coast. I always see something new when I check out the beautiful Gold Coast mansions

Lake Path by Adler Planetarium
This is by far my favorite spot for amazing views of the Loop and the Lake. A must stop on any list. Who knows you might even see someone getting proposed to in this favorite romantic pathway.  

Cloud Gate aka The Bean & Millennium Park 
Visiting the Bean is definitely your stereotypical thing to do when you come to Chicago but there is a reason for that! It's free and you get a great Chicago photograph. It's fun to visit the Bean any time of year. You can great photos of a snow covered Loop in the winter.

Window Shopping & People Watching Along Michigan Avenue
Since there are always tons of people along Michigan Avenue and stores with beautiful window displays this is always a fun one. It's really two freebies on one street!

Green City Market
With four different locations, including an indoor market, Green City Market is a perfect visit any time of year. My favorite is seeing all of the fresh produce once spring starts. Take in the sites, smells and sounds of this bustling market.


Fall

Open House Chicago
Held every October this fun weekend event allows visitors to check out different architectural treasures located throughout the Chicagoland area. Some of these buildings are open to the public on a regular basis but some are not so this is a fun experience that you can rub into your friends faces until they check it out next year.

Open Archives Chicago
Building on the same concept as Open House Chicago, the Chicago Area Archivists group has started organizing an Open Archives Chicago event. This year they're putting a twist on it and it seems they're spreading it out throughout the month. I'm hoping this means I can go see twice as many this year!

Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
Scheduled for November 18th this year this 25 year running annual festival really kicks of the holiday season.

Take a tour
This one might seem a bit odd because usually you have to pay for tours but these days it's so easy to find free audio and self guided tours online all over the place. Here are two that I found that look good, Metrowalkz and Free Tours by Foot.

Check out the Public Art
You don't have to pay a ton to get some amazing art in Chicago. Throughout the years the city has made it a point to increase the amount of public art around the city. You'll even find it all along the L line. It's everywhere!

Harold Washington Library
Being the flagship Chicago Public Library location you know this South Loop location is going to be spectacular. From the beautiful architecture outside to the massive collections on the inside the Harold Washington has got it going on. My favorite is to take the elevator all the way up to the Winter Garden on the top floor, where there is a gorgeous reading space and exhibits, then take the escalators down so you can see everything.


Winter

Garfield Park Conservatory
Located on the west side of the city, this is a must visit. Free to the public year round it's the perfect stop when it's cold outside. You can warm up and enjoy the gorgeous gardens.

Chicago Cultural Center
Something is always happening at the Cultural Center. Whether it's a new exhibit or some sort of program. It's always free too. If nothing else stop in to see the amazing architecture of the building and enjoy the beauty of the world's largest Tiffany dome.

The Pedway System
The Pedway is actually something that not many Chicagoans even know about. It's the perfect way to get out of the cold in the winter and avoid the crowds in the Loop. Take yourself on your own below group Loop tour without even getting cold!

Chapel in the Sky
A somewhat unknown Chicago gem, this First United Methodist Church chapel that is 23 floors up into the sky is breathtaking. Tours are offered daily at 2pm as well as on Sunday after the worship service.

Money Museum
When you think of museums in the Loop the Money Museum is not one that comes to anyone's mind, in fact I bet thousands of people walk by it every day without even realizing it's even at the corner of Jackson & LaSalle. Free to the public but be sure to have your ID since you'll be entering a Federal Building. Be sure to get your bag of $100 when you leave ... shredded that is!


Summer

Chicago's Lakefront Trail
During the summer one of a Chicagoan's favorite things is to enjoy the Lakefront Trail. This 18 mile long trail takes you from the very north side of the city to the south, almost to Indiana! So grab your bike, blades or walking shoes and enjoy the gorgeous views along this popular route.

Chicago Summer Dance
This is one Chicago summer staple I've been dying to try. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the summer they break out a 4,900 square foot dance floor in Grant Park for everyone to samba, cha-cha or waltz the night away. Best park is for those of us who might be a little rusty they give you a quick lesson before the open dancing starts!

Grant Park Music Festival

The Grant Park Music seasons goes from June through August. For really good seats you'll have to fork over some money but you'll still be able to enjoy the music if you visit the park. Really there are tons of great free music festivals in Chicago to check out. 

Maggie Daley Park

This new addition to Grant Park is an amazing addition. With a climbing wall, play garden, mini golf and tennis courts just to name a couple of things you can enjoy there is something for everyone in the family of every age and for every season. 

Chicago Air and Water Show
I might get some flack from Chicago people since this one can been a bit of a pain but it's definitely worth checking out at least once in your life! Taking place every August at North Avenue Beach you see amazing aerial performed by the likes of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and other such amazing groups.  

The Oriental Institute
Most people who visit Chicago tend to stay in the Loop and miss out on such south side gems like The Oriental Institute. Located on the University of Chicago campus this museum focuses on Near Eastern civilizations, you won't see some of these artifacts unless you travel to the Middle East. One of my favorites and I'm not just saying it because I was an intern there, it's an amazing museum!

North Park Nature Center
This park has gone through several hands throughout it's time but being Chicago’s Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium (1915-1970) was definitely it's most infamous. In the 1970s after a bit of a battle the buildings and grounds were converted into the lovely park you see today. 


Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

8.14.2017

Chicken Pot Pie Chowder

I always love watching Food Network and all the cooking videos that are done on YouTube. For a while now I've been wanting to make some to share with you guys here and with my Pampered Chef customers. 

When we lived in the old condo there was just no way to do that the kitchen was just too tiny and my back would have been to you the entire time! So I thought I'd give it a go since in our new kitchen I could focus on what was being cooked on the stove. 

Video recipes are definitely a work in progress but I'm pretty proud of how this first one came out, both the video and the recipe!! Kevin and I loved this one and will definitely be making it again. We've already made three recipes from the cookbook and we're hooked it's a good one. 

You'll be able to find the recipe in the new Season's Best Cookbook when it is released September 1. Let me know if you'd like a new season's catalog let me know I'd be more than happy to send one your way. Hope you enjoy cooking with me : ) 


Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

8.11.2017

Printable Birthday & Anniversary Cards


One of the bigger 101 list tasks that I had to tackle was getting all of my birthday and anniversary cards ready for a single year. I started looking in 2016 for the perfect cards. I didn't want anything that didn't sound like me, I was looking for something funny with a little bit of sass. It was insane how hard it was to find something that was all those things and cost effective!

After a while it occurred to me that I had really gained some mad Photoshop skills and could probably design something myself. So I did just that! What I came up with is me in a homemade card. Funny with some sass and a clean look to it. Friends and family have been loving them! I'm so glad I went this route.


You'll see below there is a download link for a set of each type of card and one that has one of each. Download them, print them out on card stock and slice them in half. Since I'm not the most skilled at cutting things straight, even with really nice cutters I made a nice little cheat line on there for all of us not so skilled craft cutters out there. 

I hope you enjoy my first foray into homemade cards!












Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

8.09.2017

5 Ways to Get Out of a Blogging Slump



As you can see it's been a little slow around here lately. Besides being pretty the past week and half I hit a slump. I didn't like any of the topics on my list to write about, nothing seemed right or wowed me, I wasn't feeling inspired to share anything, it's been your typical blogging slump. I know we all go through them everyone once and a while right!? If you answered no to this question see me later, I either don't believe you or I need that secret formula!

It can be hard to get out of that slump but I've got a few tips on how to get yourself back out. I've been working all of these myself lately.

Go to Your Safe Place
Topics not seeming like you anymore? You're not feeling anything that you've got lined up? Go back to the topics you know and love, those topics that you can always just bust out in 20 minutes. These are always good to use when you hit that slump. That can inspire you again or at least carry you until you're able to get back on the horse again.

Find New Inspiration
Now for the total opposite of the first one. Maybe those old standby topics aren't doing it for you. Take some time and see if there is anything new out there that floats your boat. So you're a food blogger, maybe you followed someone new on Instagram who is doing some amazing things with fresh fruit. Take that new found passion for what their doing and use it as inspiration for your own delicious fruit recipes.

Refocus
Are you feeling guilty that you're focusing more on other topics that don't match with what you say you blog about? Maybe that's causing your slump. If that's the case it might be time to take a good look at what your blog focus is and refocus. This can be a good method especially when you have large life changes that affect what you blog about, like having kids or being diagnosed with an illness.

Push Through
Sometimes we just need to pull ourselves up by out boot strings and push our way though it! Say to yourself I'm not going to just sit here in this slump and mean it! That's my current plan of attack for my slump. I'm not going to take it!

Take a Break
This is a tough one to handle. You might just need an actual break. There is so much going on in life that you're too busy living life to write about it or maybe you're focus has changed so much that you need a break to figure out what you really want to do. There is no shame in taking a break when you're overwhelmed and something needs to give.



Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!