Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Fall Leaves

Photo 1 - September 24

Many thanks to all that followed along with the Fall Leaves Time Lapse Series on Facebook.  Given how cold and grey the fall has been, it seems ages ago.  Finally, I've put all the photos together.  It's nice to look back and see some color and sun. 

For those who aren't familiar, I took a photo every few days of a tree in our back yard.  I was surprised at how long the process took.  It always seems to me one leaf turns and the rest drop almost instantaneously.  It was well over a month for this tree.  The last few leaves clung beyond the last photo, until there was a rather windy storm.  It was also interesting to see the tree didn't change uniformly.  The leaves changed and fell at different rates side to side.      

Photo 2 west side - September 26

Photo 2 east side - September 26

Photo 3 - September 29

Photo 4 - October 2

Photo 5 - October 5

Photo 6 - October 8

Photo 7 - October 12

Photo 8 - October 15

Photo 9 - October 19

Photo 10 - October 22

Photo 11 - October 25

Photo 12 - October 30

Photo 13 - November 1

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mini-adventure - North Park Village Nature Center, a photo essay

North Park Village Nature Center, fall leaves, pond
I have been participating in an on-line photo mentoring group, Photo Forte, and each month there is a theme to photograph, share, and critique.  October has the relevant theme of Trees.  On a beautiful fall day I took myself to the North Park Village Nature Center, where I knew I would have abundant tree subject matter. 
The Nature Center is an idyllic setting within Chicago.  There are few places in the city where you can walk upon a trail.  The preserve isn't that big, you'll still hear traffic from the nearby roads.  But it is secluded enough to feel a respite from the urban environment.  Deer and other wildlife are abundant.     
Read about the interesting history of the property and get other details at the Park District website.  To get there, it will be easiest if you drive or bike.  You could also get there by Peterson or Pulaski bus, and walk into the preserve.  Expect to leave feeling renewed!   

North Park Village Nature Center, tree macro
North Park Village Nature Center, tree macro

North Park Village Nature Center, trees B&W

North Park Village Nature Center, log, fungi

North Park Village Nature Center, leaves

North Park Village Nature Center, fall leaves, lone tree

 North Park Village Nature Center, macro
 North Park Village Nature Center, shadows
North Park Village Nature Center, milkweed pod

North Park Village Nature Center, fall stuff

North Park Village Nature Center, fall stuff
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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Brown Butter Oatmeal Raisin Apple Cookies (no sugar added, gluten free)

Adam and I have been trying to not eat refined sugar.  Adam is doing great, he's got strong will power, and wasn't as such a sugar hound as I am.  Let's just say I'm making progress.  We still both enjoy a little nibble of something sweet after meals.  Of course fruit is a nice option, especially an apple with almond butter.  Going into fall it is nice to have a baked good.  This cookie is based on the vegan oatmeal cookie recipe going around Facebook, attributed to Perez Hilton.  

I wanted something a little more cookie-like in texture, and thus the added eggs and baking soda.  Recipe can easily be dairy free by eliminating the butter entirely, or by using coconut or another oil.  Other oils will not brown as butter does.  Use a little water if the apples stick before releasing their own moisture.  And, of course, you're welcome to use another nut, or none at all.

I'm going to work on a pumpkin version next. 

Bon appetite!


Brown Butter Oatmeal Apple Banana Cookies

1 tablespoon butter
2 small apples, small dice (not a tart apple like Granny Smith)
1 cup pecans, chopped   
½ cup raisins
2 bananas (ripe), mashed
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup almond milk
½ teaspoon baking soda
1-½ teaspoons cinnamon, divided
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ teaspoons Kosher salt, divided

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prepare two sheet pans with parchment paper or silicone mat.
  • Melt butter in skillet and cook until brown and fragrant.  Be careful not to burn!  Add apples; season with ¼ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon cinnamon.  Cook until softened but still intact, about 10 minutes.  
  • Toast pecans, set aside and cool.
  • Toast oats, set aside and cool.
  • In a bowl, combine apples, oats, pecans, and all remaining ingredients.
  • Place dough on pans using a portion scoop (#20) or two spoons.  Cookies can be rather close together, dough will not spread.  Lightly pat the tops to make a flatter cookie, and gently shape any errant bits.  
  • Bake 15-20 minutes.
  • Cool on pans 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.  Store in a sealed container.


Saturday, July 26, 2014



Midsummer air perfumed
With fat and sugar

Sticky sweet
Midway glowing, bells ringing
Win a prize,
Three tries only three tickets!
Screams from the Tilt-a-Whirl
Faster, faster
Groups of boys jostling, shuffling feet
Girls whisper
Do you think he’s cute?
Top of the Ferris wheel
Squinting in the evening sun
Holding hands
Weekend rockers onstage
Plastic cups and pitchers
Under beer garden tent
Moms in flip flops, dads in baseball caps
Whirling dervish children, fueled by cotton candy
Funnel cakes, corn dogs
Fresh lemonade
Shaken, not stirred
Sundaes with my sweetie
Long shadows biking home

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Frank Lloyd Wright's Emil Bach House

Emil Bach House, seen from the roof top deck of the bed and breakfast next door

If you've driven along Sheridan Road between the north end of Lake Shore Drive and Evanston, you've passed the Bach House.  Maybe after traveling that stretch a few times you notice a house that distinguishes itself from the neighbors and do a double take.  Could that be a Frank Lloyd Wright house?  It is!

Looking up

Like many Chicago northsiders, I have gone by this house many times, and was always curious.  Years ago, I was a volunteer tour guide at Frank Lloyd Wright's Home and Studio in Oak Park, and later at Robie House in Hyde Park.  I read in a community e-newsletter that the renovated home was having an open house in advance of the start of guided public tours by the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust.  Fortunately, I was free and could attend the event.  

View from the back of the lot, looking west toward the back of the house.
Tour group on the left is gathered near the front door.
(the door is left of center, between the group and  the small tree)

Built in 1915, Bach House is an example of Wright's late Prairie Style architecture, and is considered a transitional work.  Wright was moving from Prairie Style to a more Japanese-inspired architecture, and also shifting focus from residences to commercial properties. The Imperial Hotel in Tokyo would follow shortly after.

I won't get much into the history of the Bach House or its architectural elements, many before have written on such topics.  I will take you along on a brief tour, and share my experience.  

Bach House has many features I've seen in other Wright homes.  

A few:

  • Pathway of discovery to the front door (fun architecturally, but a nightmare for delivery people) 
  • Difficult to see inside the house despite no window coverings, but easy to see out
  • Inglenook (chimney corner, a small alcove adjacent to the fireplace)
  • Room within a room
  • Built in furniture
  • Bringing the outside in, plenty of views and sunlight
  • Juxtaposition of low ceiling and openness
  • Open floor plan - a new concept at this time
  • Strong horizontal elements
  • This being a transitional house, it also has cubic elements and a good amount of verticality

Pathway of Discovery
winding to the front door (as seen from living room)
looking south to Sheridan Road

Inglenook, open floor plan

Living Room

Dining room table

Kitchen (sympathetically updated)
As typical for Wright, the kitchen is rather small. 

Stairway to second floor and access to the roof deck

In all, it seems subsequent owners were rather kind to the house.  All the original built-in furniture was gone, however.  There were plan and clues within the house, so everything has been reproduced.  

Some built-in furniture in the bedrooms (me in the bottom left photo!)

Originally, on the second floor there were three bedrooms and a maid's quarters, which has now been turned into a sitting room and additional bathroom.  All of the bedrooms have windows on three sides, and access to the outside. 

I'd be happy to sit here.

The art glass is also all reproduction.  Again, there were plans, and one of the original windows is on display at The Art Institute of Chicago.     

Reproduction window in a bedroom, facing north along Sheridan Road

When built, the Bach House was a nice country home.  Sheridan Road was not the busy thoroughfare it is today.  Even still, once inside, it feels quiet and secluded, and the noise from the road is very minimal.  To the east, from the back of the house, there was once a clear view to Lake Michigan.  Today there is just a little sliver.  A wee bit is more view than at my house, and the beach is just one block away.  

Facing east, toward the lake  

Over the years, a few other changes happened to the property.  The back porch was enclosed as the traffic grew on Sheridan Road and other buildings went up.  A garage was added.  More recently, a sweet Japanese-influenced.... I'm actually not sure what to call it, was built at the back of the lot.  Porch or screen room doesn't seem right, it is nicer than that.  Out building?  It is an outdoor room with sliding screens.  The center part of the roof is raised to allow ventilation.  I'd really like one for my yard.  Not that there's even enough space!  

Fabulous outdoor room
Spring is slowly but steadily coming to Chicago

In addition to the seasonal public tours, the house is now available to rent for special events and even overnight and vacation stays.  There is also a lovely bed and breakfast next door, The Lang House.  

The Emil Bach House should certainly be included in any Wright buff's tour of Chicagoland.  It would be an interesting contrast in homes and neighborhoods to tour Robie House and the Bach House on the same day.  To me, Robie House is bigger and grander, more obvious on its site, and the immediate area more residential / academic (it is surrounded by University of Chicago).  As I  mentioned earlier, Bach House is on a very busy road, and it is the astute observer that notices it just getting about town.  It is more compact, and seems to keep to itself.  

I would also recommend it to anyone interested in Chicago architecture and history, the Prairie Style, or those in the area looking for neighborhood gems.  It would be a great thing to do with visitors.  Have a picnic at the beach after!  

View of back from northeast corner (now enclosed porch in foreground)

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Forty-two gratitudes

It is a few days past my forty-second birthday, but it is not too late to do my annual list.  A list of things for which I am grateful, that make me happy, or just improve my life in some way.  Some big, others small.  The list will include both important and silly.  After I finish, I'll look back on my list from last year.  The list isn't in any particular order, just as I think of things.  

1)  I am grateful for my nieces and nephews, and their unique personalities. It has been a pleasure seeing them grow and develop.  Every age has been a delight.

2)  I am grateful Adam gets along so well with my family! 

3)  And, I am grateful for the family I married into, I couldn't ask for better.

4)  I am grateful for warm cups of tea.

5)  I am grateful for photography, it makes me happy.

6)  I am grateful for ceramics, and the creative, inspiring community at ARTica Studios.  

7)  I am grateful for the time spent in Florida.  

8)  I can't imagine a life without yoga, so so so grateful for it.  

9)  A good night's rest.

10) Our comfy bed.

11) Cat snuggles.  

12) Books books BOOKS!

13) Grateful for the nice birthday Kindle, I'll finally be reading in the modern era.  

14) Although it is a time suck and has its drawbacks, I am grateful for Facebook and the vast online community it creates.  

15) I am happy the crocuses have made their appearance, the brave first flowers of spring.

16) I am grateful to have many good options available to me.  

17) I am grateful for my freedom.

18) I am grateful for the house I live in, the food in my belly, and abundant clean water.  

19) I am happy for the capacity to learn and grow.  

20) I am grateful for NEW friends!  It gets harder as we get older, so happy I am still making connections.

21) And grateful for the continuity of long time friends.  

22) Grateful for my lovely sisters and our dad.

23) Happy to spend extended, casual time with my aunt and uncle in Florida.  

24) I am very happy my little old Nissan Sentra keeps plugging along.  

25) I am very grateful for wool socks and big thick scarves that help me combat the chilly weather. 

26) Favorite restaurants, where they know just what you are going to order.  

27) I am quite pleased with my new short hair.

28) King Spa, why did it take me so long to go there?

29) Massage, ahhhhh!

30) Newly painted toe nails.

31) Ginger chews.

32) Podcasts!

33) Receiving personal letters / cards in the mail.

34) Music.

35) I am grateful for my bicycle, and time to just nose around aimlessly.  

36) I am grateful for the free time I have had this year.  

37) I am grateful I have made it to 42!

38) And I quite like the symmetry and evenness of 42.  

39) Grateful for hot baths with Epsom salt and essential oils.  

40) Grateful for the hot water bottle that keeps my feets warm in bed.  

41) Thank you, Keen, for your sturdy shoes.  

42) Love you, Amazon Prime.  

Leave a comment with something for which you are grateful! 

Check out the first list 41 gratitudes.

May you be safe from internal and external harm.
May you be physically strong, healthy, and vital.
May you have a calm clear mind and a peaceful loving heart.
May you find wisdom, wonder, joy, and love in this world
Just as it is.  


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