Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Architecture: Mansueto Library

This project was under construction while we lived here in Chicago, and I hadn't had a chance to see it complete. At one point Chuck toured it under construction during Grad School, and got a few nice pictures of the underground work in progress. It's an addition by Helmut Jahn to the existing 1970 brutalist building by Skidmore, Owings and Merril (SOM). The addition includes a reading room, offices, and 50 feet of below ground book storage with an automated retrieval system. (That last link is a video that explains the system)

 Mansueto Library Printer's Block

Although I was able to get in for a visit I had to leave my Dad outside. Apparently they will only allow visitors from more than 60 miles away to come in with a day pass. (Glad I finally got my Oregon ID not too long ago.) The interior seems like an attractive study space and it was certainly packed. I couldn't help but he reminded of the Seattle Public Library, although the scale of this space is much smaller. A connecting hallway was also part of the new construction and features a nice collection of lead reproductions of printer's marks including William Morris and others, by artist and architect Edgar Miller. I tried not to keep my Dad waiting too long, but I think he was entertained by taking some pictures of the elaborate collegiate Gothic architecture on the University of Chicago campus, which even includes some great gargoyles.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Museums: Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium Light Shedd Aquarium

I think the last time I visited an aquarium was in the 90s, when the Newport Aquarium near Cincinnati was brand new. When we lived here in Chicago we visited the Field Museum frequently and the Planetarium a few times on the community days for locals, but never made it to the Shedd Aquarium. The special exhibit right now is all about Jellyfish. I was particularly interested in seeing this exhibit after seeing a few types of jellies beached on the Oregon Coast this year. 

Jellies Pink FIsh

My favorite jellyfish of the exhibit were the blue blubbers from Australia, but they were very fast moving and difficult to photography. The Shedd has a video of them in action, which gives you an idea of the great colors they come in, dark and light blue, tan, white, and brown.  Much more camera friendly were the white spotted jellyfish, pictured above.

Crown of Thorns Starfish Garden Eels

Other fascinating creatures in the permanent exhibits included the Crown of Thorns Starfish, which have been known to destroy reefs with their stomach acid. I really thought the Garden Eels were cute, but when I brought my mom over to look at them she found them creepy. I have to admit they do remind me of the "Poor Unfortunate Souls" from the Little Mermaid. Of course there were lots of types of sting ray and the large, "living fossil" fish were interesting. The Arapaima was the largest. The varied textures, particularly its face, were very unusual.

Shedd Aquarium Ceiling Shedd Aquarium Light

The aquatic theme pervades all of the detailing of the 1929 building. This includes waves and fish on the exterior, light fixtures throughout the building, and fish squares on the doors and ceiling. It's a late beaux arts style building executed by a post-Burnham Graham, Anderson, Probst & White. It's very similar to the other buildings on the museum campus, like the Field, which was designed by Daniel Burnham. The museum campus is a great place to go for some of the best views of the city, but only if you can stand to be in one of the windiest and coldest parts of town, right out on Lake Michigan. I only got a few shots, one looking north and one looking south, before I had to keep moving toward the museum to stay warm. The waves are getting very high right now, and it looks way too cold out there, but Chicago is a gorgeous city.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Belated Happy Thanksgiving!

Jill & Tim Passing Food Dinner time

Hope everyone had an excellent holiday! We spent it visiting with my Grandma, Aunt and Cousins in Ohio. My family did a great job accommodating the vegans (I'll make it plural even though I was the only one. Chuck stayed in Portland, celebrating with Lucy.) this year. Look how packed my plate was! 

Last Preparations Grandma shows off the spinach

The meal included the Hazelnut Cranberry Roast En Croute, which was really good. We picked up two bags of vegan stuffing from Whole Foods (the first year I'd seen that available) and my Mom used the mix for her recipe, throwing in celery and spices. My Aunt brought spinach and brussel sprouts, which I was happy to have. Dad made two kinds of scalloped potatoes one cheesy for the cheese fans, and a vegan recipe from the Native foods blog that used cashew cheese and fennel. There was also a parsnip and apple dish, an improvised green bean dish that turned out just right, cranberries served in one of Grandma's beautiful dishes, and sweet potatoes cooked from a recipe from Vegan Yum Yum. The meat and cheese eaters also had yeast rolls, turkey, and apple pie, but those were the only non-vegan items of the day. There were also vegan pumpkin pies just to make us extra full. Us kids all decided to have sparkling apple cider in fancy glasses too.

Hello Kitty Black Friday Thrift Store Finds

We had a lot of fun other that eating too. Watching the Macy's Day parade and the dog show (why so many breeds though...ugh) but added Lady Gaga's special to this years viewing. It was better than I was expecting and I notice Grandma clapping along and enjoying "Bad Romance." This also lead to a lot of silliness over the next few days with the family trying to recreate various dance moves. We did just a little Black Friday shopping, and I made out at the Thrift Store's half-off sale. I nabbed 7 articles of clothing and a belt for under $10. We also headed to big lots where I got lots of decent yarn for very cheap. But that was enough shopping for us, mostly we just enjoyed visiting and hanging out!

Hope everyone had as great a holiday as I did this year!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Home for the Holiday

Birds on it Glass Urns Candles

We've been hanging out at my parents' place most of today and yesterday. Thanksgiving food prep is well underway, ready for transport to my grandma's in Ohio. Here are my parents, working hard & chopping things:

Mom Chops Yams Dad chops apples
And Slick, our cat who is about 23, found a spot in the hall, at the edge of the kitchen, to watch it all from a safe distance. Or sleep, mostly, he's an old cat.

Ball of Slick

Monday, November 21, 2011

Art Institute: Thorne Miniatures & Modern Wing

English Entrance Hall, 1775 French Library, 1930s

I love the Thorne Miniature Room, in the basement of the Art Institute. It's a collection of miniature, dollhouse style, rooms from all over the world, and across time periods. I remember reading director Wes Anderson is also a fan. For the holidays they are decorated with tiny items appropriate to Christmas in each time and region:

Louisiana Bedroom & Christmas Ballgown English Drawing Room with Tree

The only room with a Christmas Tree was the English Drawing Room (on the right) while others, like the Louisiana Bedroom (on the left), had other types of accessories. This is a Christmas ballgown. There was also a New Mexican Feast, and a pair of clogs left in front of the fireplace in the French Provencial Bedroom.

Bertrand Goldberg Exhibit Modern Wing

There was also an extremely comprehensive exhibit on the works of Bertrand Goldberg in the Modern Wing. most famous for the Marina City Towers and several similar buildings here in Chicago. I wasn't able to take pictures in the exhibit, but a lot of them are available on the exhibition website, under selected works. It's was fascinating to learn of his early interest in mobileprefabricated structures, and very early use of computer modeling. It was mentioned as being used on a project completed in 1975. The exhibit even included some of his student work from his time at the Bauhaus. Lastly, there was also an exciting exhibit in the neighboring hall of photography taken of Marina City Residents in their homes; a few from that are also viewable online.

There's currently a 12 foot bronze sculpture in the main hall of the Modern Wing. It's called "Vatter Staat" by German artist Thomas Schutte. The title translates as "Father State." We also hung out a bit in the member's lounge and cafe, spent some time enjoying the recently re-installed Chagall "America Windows" and the Paperweight Collection, and quickly walked through the Alsdorf  Galleries (with Indian, Asian and Himalayan Art.) We saw a lot, but there's still tons more there to see could have spent another day there!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Eating Out: Native foods Chicago

Yesterday my parents and I ate out for lunch at the new Native Foods Cafe on Belmont. Too much very good vegan foods. We shared the nacho appetizer, which was my favorite dish. I love nacho plates. This dish had fresh guacamole and what I think must have been cashew cheese.

I also had the Chicken Run Ranch Sandwich, billed as what chickens would serve if the were in charge of the ranch. I also picked it because it was marked as a great dish for first time visitors. It was really good, just enough ranch dressing without going overboard. Sweet potato fries on the side come with a green spice sprinkled on top. It suited the potatoes so well I didn't even bother with ketchup. We were too full for deserts, but they looked great. I am sure we will sample those often when they open the location in downtown Portland next spring. (One just opened in Tigard, outside of Portland, but that's a bit far for us to go....although now that I know how good it is, it might be worth the trip.)

Our other activities yesterday included going to the DIY trunk show. Tons of great vendors, and I'll admit to checking out their booth setups for inspiration too. On the way there we saw a black squirrel! And we ended up ending our day watching Shutter Island. It was so good I think I'll make Chuck watch it with me again when I get home.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Birthday Cheesecake!

Wednesday was my second sixteenth birthday (okay, I'll just say it, I'm 32. I think it's going to be pretty good year.) Chuck made me this awesome vegan chocolate cheesecake from the book Sinfully Vegan. In the past few years I've been all about birthday cupcakes, but after some discussion we decide we were a little tired of birthday cupcakes. Though I still want cupcakes randomly all year for no good reason.

It was a very good birthday involving dinner at Portobello and some very good gifts. One was a nice new cellphone which I'm attempting to use to blog for the very first time right now...I'll have to check if this turns out all wonky.

And now I'm in Chicago hanging out with my family through the holiday! I'm hopeful this phone works out okay for blogging so I can post some pictures and updates of my visit while I'm here!

Update: Okay it turned out a bit wonky with the images, but I updated it by hoping on my parents computer for a few moments. I was just using blogger app for android, if anyone knows of a more awesome app (free preferably) for android that deals with pictures better please let me know!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Shop Update: 2012 Portland Architecture Calendar

2012 Calendar - Portland, OR Architecture 2012 Calendar - Portland, OR Architecture

It's finally done! It seemed like the calendar this year took me a lot of time, but we were very carefully and thoroughly checking to make sure everything was right. 

I'm excited about some of the new features this year. Most noticably, this year it's bound with a nice black wire binding! I'm also pleased with how the font choice this year turned out, it looks cleaner and more modern. After some discussion and consideration I've also added lines to help make the dates clear. And lastly, I'm very happy that I was able to pick out all new photos this year, so it's completely different from the 2011 calendar. Here are a few of the images that were included, and info about the designers with dates are included below each image in the calendar:

Portland Aerial tram Sky/Building Contrast
Awning First Presbyterian Church

The calendar is available in print form for $18/each (plus shipping) or you can purchase a PDF version for printing at home for $5.  I'm also seriously considering doing a giveaway of one of the calendars sometime soon here on the blog, I just need to decide on timing. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Portland Walks: Washington Park Flowers & Leaves


We took such a pretty walk in Washington Park over the weekend, and I managed to get some very nice pictures (if I do say so myself!) of flowers and autumn leaves. A walk up in Washington Park is always satisfying and we should really do it more often. 

Last Leaf Roses

Oh and the new Tom Waits Album, Bad As Me, is out and it's so good. The track that features Keith Richards is called The Last Leaf. I listened to the fresh air interview with Tom Waits this week, and I loved hearing him talk about the inspiration for the song, one last leaf that if it hangs on can maybe make it through the season. I was thinking the same thing when I saw the leaf above! 

We also strolled through the Rose Garden again, and there are still many roses in bloom. More pictures here. I wish I could remember some the names of the varieties so I could label the rosesbetter, but there are so many. I know at least one of the ones I photographed was the Julia Child hybrid.

Black and White Berries Hydrangea & Urn

And I don't know what these berries are, but they are pretty. Most of them were mostly white, but I really liked the gradient on several of the larger bundles. And another Hydrangea picture, at one time they were my favorite flower. But now I have many favorites!