Musings of a Museum Fanatic: September 2017

9.19.2017

$200 Million by the numbers

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The digital rewards Swagbucks just hit a major milestone – they have given their members over $200 million in cash and free gift cards since 2008! I use Swagbucks all the time to get free gift cards doing stuff I already do online, like shopping, answering surveys, watching videos, discovering great deals, and searching the web. To demonstrate how big a number 200 million really is, here are some fun facts:



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!

9.18.2017

Russell's BBQ

When you think about some of your favorite places I can guarantee that some of them are on your list because you've been going their your entire life. That's where Russell's BBQ comes into my world!


Opening their doors in 1930 this Elmwood Park staple has now been feeding FOUR generations of Giles family members. My Dad used to go Russell's with his parents, family and friends growing. Naturally we went there as often as we could growing up or would grab it to heat up at home. It was so lovely when their Rolling Meadows location was around, I will say early on in our relationship that was a perk of going up to Kevin's parent's! Now we've been bring Lane to Russell's for several years and Elowen had her first trip in August. 


We love Russell's not only because it holds such wonderful memories but also because the food is ridiculous good!!! They do have some options for the vegetarians in your life but really the main show are the BBQ sandwiches. The king of the BBQ sandwiches is the pork. I'm sure the other ones are fantastic as well but I won't lie in the 32 years I've been going to Russell's I've never had any other kind. 



With the pork sandwich they roast it in the broth then add a little bit of the BBQ sauce. The best way is to add more at the table then do a little dunk in your puddle. The fries are wonderful with the BBQ sauce too. It's a bit zippy but not in a spicy way just in a BBQ sauce kind of way. You can actually find the BBQ sauce in some grocery stores around the Chicagoland area. I'm not sure about out of the area. 

When you're looking for that iconic Chicago place you can't go wrong with 87 years of amazing BBQ pork, I mean come on if me and Jeff Mauro say it's excellent you know it's true! 


9.15.2017

Best Oktoberfests in Chicago



When September 1 rolls around the blue and white check banners start to make their appearance all over the Chicagoland area. That means it's Oktoberfest time!! There are plenty of celebrations to be had around the Chicago area but these are my recommendations because let's be honest not all Oktoberfests are created equal!


The Berghoff Restaurant Oktoberfest
17 West Adams St. Chicago, IL

The Berghoff boasts the grand daddy of Chicago Oktoberfests, having hosted their almost month long celebration for 33 years. This year there is a special lunch and dinner menu along with multiple nights of music.


St. Alphonsus Oktoberfest
St. Alphonsus Church - corner of Lincoln, Wellington and Southport

This three day festival is one of my favorite places to celebrate Oktoberfest. St. Alphonsus' is perfect for the entire family. There are tons of different bands and Kinderfest for the kinder.


Schnitzel Platz
729 North Avenue, Glendale Heights, IL

A yummy looking extensive Oktoberfest menu is what you can find at the west suburban restaurant. They work with the Glendale Heights Oktoberfest but if you're looking to stay inside now that it's getting cooler out Schnitzel Platz is perfect.


Glendale Heights Oktoberfest
101 E Fullerton Ave, Glendale Heights, IL

In it's 6th year this 10 day celebration will definitely pack a punch. There is great food and music every day. One perk of this festival is that you can splurge on a VIP box, with perks like meal vouchers, your own table, real china and so much more it's definitely worth it to upgrade your Oktoberfest.

Edelweiss Restaurant
7650 W Irving Park Rd Norridge, IL

Edelweiss is a northwest Chicago German staple. Their Oktoberfest menu is one of the best I've seen. I think the Edelweiss Platter is the way to go with a little bit of everything that delicious German food.


Oktoberfest at Naper Settlement
523 S. Webster St. Naperville, IL

If you're looking for a great family Oktoberfest in the burbs Naper Settlement has you covered. There is all sorts of music from the traditional polka bands to my close friends 'Stache.


Oktoberfest Beer, Brats and Boats cruise by Shoreline Sightseeing

This is one Oktoberfest that I hadn't heard about before! Who knew you could take Oktoberfest on to Lake Michigan. You get to enjoy a traditional German dinner, live music and dancing plus you get to take home your souvenir stein.


Hofbrauhaus Chicago
5500 Park Place Rosemont, IL

Hofbrauhaus makes it their business to give you as authentic an experience as you can get outside of Munich. There parades and keg tappings every weekend, daily Oktoberfest food specials, special beer and music you'll definitely want to visit the Hofbrauhaus several times this Oktoberfest!

9.13.2017

Mini Dessert Hamburgers























At last Gamma Phi Beta meeting of the year this past May I decided to go with a super fun dish to bring. As per usual it was a potluck but theme the hostess went with was BBQ. It ended up being a really rainy BBQ but still a great time. I volunteered to bring a dessert and I wanted it to be fun along with sticking to the theme. Took me a little while but I remembered a fun Mini Dessert Burger recipe my mom had taught me years ago. I've seen it other places since then with some variations on the ingredients but here is the way we make it in our house!

Mini Dessert Hamburgers

Ingredients:
Nilla wafers
Mini York Peppermint Patties, unwrapped
White frosting
Food dye
Karo syrup
Sesame seeds

Directions:
1. Dye the frosting green, yellow and red. Put the frosting into snack baggies and put the baggies into the fridge while you prep the rest of your ingredients. Make a bag with white too.



2. Lay out your wafers and peppermint patties. Put a little dollop of white on the bottom nilla wafars then place patty.





3. Go crazy with the red, yellow and green frosting on top of the patty. These are the condiments so make each burger unique!


4. Add a little dollop of frosting in the center of the peppermint patty if needed (If you went a little nuts with the condiments you might not need it) to secure the top wafer.

5. Spread a little bit of the syrup on the top with the back of a spoon and sprinkle sesame seeds.




6. Share with friends and enjoy! They'll be so impressed with how cute this Mini Dessert Hamburgers are.


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!

9.11.2017

30 Things That Happened in 1997



1997 was 20 year ago. Let that sink in for a minute. It's hard to imagine that so much that happened that year was 20 years ago already. I've already shared why I think 1997 was the best year in music but the rest of the year was pretty awesome too. So here are 30 things that happened in 1997. What do you remember the most from that year?




Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule from UK rule

Madeleine Albright becomes the first female Secretary of State for the first time in United States history

Chris Farley dies from a drug overdose

Men in Black


Tara Lipinski, 14, becomes the youngest women's world figure skating champion.

The Lion King Musical on Broadway debuts

Spacecraft Pathfinder Lands On Mars

Princess Diana is killed in a car crash in Paris August 31st

Titanic



Mother Teresa dies in Calcutta

Dennis Rodman kicks sideline cameraman in the groin & is suspended for 11 games

Ellen DeGeneres announced she was gay

South Park

Mike Tyson Bites Evander Holyfield's ear during a match



A jury finds OJ Simpson guilty

In May 1997 the rest of the world finally gets it's hands on the Japanese Tamagotchi

Tyra Banks is the first black model to have a solo Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover.

Pokemon is first released



My Best Friend's Wedding

"Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" is published

Scientists reveal the first successful cloning of a sheep named Dolly in Scotland

Notorious B.I.G. Shot killed in drive by shooting


The Teletubbies and that weird baby in the sun make their debut

Matthew Broderick & Sarah Jessica Parker tie the knot

We said goodbye to Joe the Camel

Chloƫ Grace Moretz is born


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!

9.09.2017

$200,000,000 Swago PLUS Spin & Win


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The digital rewards site Swagbucks is nearing $200,000,000 in cash and gift cards given back to it members. Since 2008, they've rewarded members for things we all do online, like shopping, watching videos, discovering deals, answering surveys, and searching the web.

$200,000,000 is a huge number, and to celebrate they're holding a "Swago" promotion starting Monday, September 11th at 9am PDT!

Swago is just like bingo, but in this case you're filling out squares as you earn points on their site for doing things you already do online. If you're thinking of trying Swagbucks, this is a great chance to learn all about how the site works and earn bonus points while doing it. Here are a few tips:

  • Each square on your Swago Board will contain an action item to complete. They can be anything from getting a search win, completing a survey, or just visiting one of our popular stores!
     
  • Once you complete the action item in a particular square the square will change color signifying the action item is complete.
     
  • You have until 12pm PT/3pm ET on Tuesday, September 19th to mark off as many squares as possible so use your time wisely.
     
  • Be mindful of the patterns and their corresponding bonuses located on the right of your Swago Board. The patterns will vary in difficulty and bonus value. Once you’ve achieved a pattern, the corresponding “Submit” button will light up. You can have multiple patterns available for submission, however, you can only submit ONE pattern so choose wisely.
  • Each activity you successfully complete on your Swago Board will give you anywhere from 1-20 spins on the Spin & Win Wheel. PLUS, when you submit your board for a bonus you'll get additional spins. The number of spins will depend on the pattern you complete. The wheel has all sorts of great prizes that you can win, and each spin is a winner!

The Spin & Win Wheel will not be available to use until 9AM PT/12PM ET on Tuesday, September 19th and will end at 9AM PT/12PM ET on Thursday, September 21st.

Fill up your board and then submit your pattern to get even more points - if you can fill in the whole board, you get a 500 SB bonus! That's enough for a $5 gift card in their Rewards Store to the retailer of your choice.

Click here right now and click "Join" to get started! If you don't already have a Swagbucks account, you'll be able to quickly sign up; PLUS, if 300 SB before the first of next month, you'll get a bonus 300 SB!


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!

9.08.2017

7 Hidden Gem Chicago Area Museums

When people visit the Chicago area and think about museums they're always thinking about the big guys. Don't get me wrong you know I love me some Field Museum, Chicago History Museum and all the other large museums. If you just focus on those though you'll be missing some amazing hidden gem Chicago area museums. Here is my top 7 list but there are so many other great hidden gems check them all out.

Elmhurst History Museum
With the update to their By All Accounts: A History of Elmhurst exhibit a couple of years ago this museum is now wowing people even more. The Chicago Tribune even shared the new interactive tabletop map that's part of their "40 Local Museum Treasures Worth Your Time" article. I definitely agree with the Tribune on this one. 

Money Museum
I just shared this fun museum a couple of weeks ago so check out that post for more! It's just an awesome right in front of your nose and you wouldn't even know it museum.

Arlington Heights Historical Museum
This multi building museum site is located in the northwestern suburb of Arlington Heights. It's well worth the visit! For the architecture buffs the Banta House is a must visit. This Arts & Crafts style house was the first architect built home in Arlington Heights. The stained glass in the house is breathtaking. Spend the day visiting the Arlington Heights Historical Museum and stay to visit the lovely downtown for dinner and show. 

National Hellenic Museum
While you're in the West Loop enjoying the amazing food scene make a point to stop at this gem. A few years ago the National Hellenic Museum moved a couple of blocks south to a gorgeous new building. In this new space they were able to have a larger space for their Greek Story in America exhibit and a larger changing gallery space to share more stories of Greek immigrants and Greek heritage. You're going to wish you were Greek after visiting this gem!

Naper Settlement
Even though it's one of the largest museums in the Chicago suburbs I still feel that since it's so far west in Naperville it gets overlooked. This open air museum immerses you into the history of Naperville. You're able to meet costumed interpreters who share stories and information from the beginning of the city to present day featured in the Brushstrokes of the Past exhibit. This is a museum on the move too with so many amazing updates and changes coming in the next few years it will definitely be one to visit again and again. 



Museum of Broadcast Communications
When I went visit the Museum of Broadcast Communications with Becky a couple of years ago I knew we would enjoy it but I didn't realize quite how much fun we would have! Another museum that had been able to move to a larger space in the past couple of years they've really outdone themselves with the exhibits. They were fun and informative all at the same time. 

Village of Bartlett Museums
Some people might say I'm extremely partial to the Village of Bartlett Museums since my good friend is the director. I took my Mom, Bethany, Lane & Elowen there a couple of weeks ago. Lane, an almost three year old, spent over and hour at the Barlett Depot Museum and has told Bethany multiple times that he wants to go back to the museum since then! I think if a museum can do that with a 2 year old it's definitely a must visit!! Just a two minute walk from the active Bartlett Metra stop the Village of Bartlett Museums are so worth the trip. 

Have you been to any of these Chicago gems? Which one would you visit?

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!

9.06.2017

Three for all

I cam across this post from Emily over at Emily Kay and I had to do one myself. It's such a fun idea to tell things about yourself in threes! She has a couple things I wouldn't have thought to share and enjoyed seeing. It gives you a little more look than just giving one answer. I hope to see your answers to some of these questions and be sure to check out Emily's threes!

Favorite foods 
Ice cream
Tacos
Grandma's mac & cheese casserole

Things I'd never give up 
Ice cream
Pinterest
My phone

Favorite cocktails 
Vodka Sprite with a splash of grenadine
Mimosa
Anything fruity

Favorite movies 
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
Star Wars
Sleeping Beauty

Simple pleasures in life 
Changing into comfy clothes after work
When my nephew is excited to see me and runs up to hug me
Hugs from my husband

Always in my car 
Phone charger
My 2000s style CD holder
Sunglasses

Always with me 
My phone
A mini notepad
Fitbit

Things I regret not doing
Not just getting a place with Jackie & making it work
Not figuring out what I wanted to do with my career and just going at it full force sooner
Not going abroad for an entire semester

Most recent places I've traveled
Porter, IN
London
Lake Geneva, WI

Most often used makeup products 
Foundation
Primer
Eye shadow chubby stick

Things that make me cry 
My dad
Sad internet videos
Sappy Christmas movies

Things that make me smile or laugh 
Silly animal videos
My nephew & niece
My friends

Travel wish list inside the US 
San Francisco
Charleston
Hawaii

Travel wish list outside the US 
African safari
Australia
Germany

Blessings in my life 
My family
My friends
That I am well loved


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!

9.01.2017

Views from the L


This is going to sound really weird but one of my favorite things to do when I have some time is to ride the L a little bit. I know right? When you've got sometimes crazy people on the CTA I know most people don't like to linger. They're missing out though on some amazing views! I've been trying to take photos of these great moments but it can be difficult when you're flying by on the train. Here are some of my favorites from this year so far.  

Most of these are from the Brown Line and the one time I rode the Blue line to Jefferson Park just for the fun of it. 


I'm not sure that the above photo even needs an introduction! It's Wrigley Field! The below photo is of Graceland Cemetery. When you're on the Red Line you zip along the east side of this serene landscape.




One of my favorite parts of the Brown Line is that you cross the above the river, unlike the Red Line which is a subway at this point. It definitely lends itself for beautiful photos of the river and the skyscrapers of the Loop.





When I pass by this part of the Loop I always think of Stephanie! It's not as crazy as the people of the CTA but I always love seeing weird, quirky things like someone's feet on the next train over. 





The sconces above are on the Harold Washington Library. I tried getting some good photos from the platform at this station but wasn't having a ton of luck because of the beams and such. Got this photo heading down the stairs to the street. Catching graffiti is another thing I really enjoy. There is all sorts of crazy things written and drawn all over the city. It's really difficult to get good photos unless you know it's coming up since it can go by so quickly!




The above photo was taken just before Christmas! I know right? It doesn't look like you would think Christmas in Chicago should. I met Stephanie at the Christkindlmarket for a quick lunch and bought two chocolate covered rice krispy treats to take home for Kevin and I. Well after deciding to ride the Blue line getting photos for this post I stopped at the Addison stop to head back and decided that Kevin's treat wasn't making it home. No worries we went to the Naperville location the next weekend and I made sure he got one there. 


There is just something so magical about seeing Chicago from the L. You're not so high up that you're not still a part of the hustle but you get closer to the details of the architecture and humanity that you can't see from the street. Chicago is just so beautiful from this level.