b*travels :: art, architecture and food in the windy city

Chicago. It’s where I can trace my roots. Both my parents hail from the Windy City, and I was born in a nearby suburb. I grew up on regular visits there, which always included loud gatherings of relatives, and mandatory Chicago food and fare. But until this summer, I’d always visited in the winter months. My mom and I have been talking about a summer trip to the city for at least a couple years. We finally decided to make it happen.

On nearly the last day of June, we got in the car and made the seven hour drive across Wisconsin. We stayed at a hotel downtown, right on a river, with a great view of the lake and the harbor below. Wacker and Columbus was our intersection, and from there, we traveled in almost every direction, on foot, exploring the city, soaking in the sights, and thoroughly enjoying one another’s company.

There was a leisurely afternoon in the grass at Millenium Park, shopping for perfume at the Michigan Ave Macy’s, a morning run along the Lake Walk, an architecture cruise on the river, museum visits, and slow, lingering meals. Every sense was awakened and delighted. The culture, the charm and the company was really par excellence. When I think back over July, the trip to Chicago is a glimmering memory. Each detail and each moment was vibrant and lovely, and I am so happy I got to experience it with my dear mom.

b*travels :: to the land of red rocks and blue skies

Hello, friends! I’m home again after what feels like a very long absence. Home again, and trying to not trip while hitting the ground running. Vacation has a way of warping reality, doesn’t it? Two weeks felt more like a month, and I totally lost track of the date, day of the week, time and any sense of routine.

For two weeks, I went to sleep when I felt tired, and woke up without an alarm, usually in the pre-dawn hours. Mornings were unhurried. Days were spent under blue skies and a hot sun, hiking the mountains and hills of Sedona. I had long conversations with my husband, my parents, cousins, and God. I read a book that shifted my perspective in a major way (more on that later this week). I didn’t think about work. At all. I enjoyed good food, good company, and a lot of quiet. A lot of quiet. Hours upon hours on the trails, afternoons on the back deck, silent moments, all spent in quiet contemplation.

This trip was significant for me, in many ways. I felt like I was in an incubator, and all sorts of growth and change was taking place within me at an insane, accelerated rate. It seemed like the pause button was pressed, and all of life had stopped, yet sped up. There was surreal quality to my days away. God was at work, and that’s the only way I can describe it. He was reshaping my heart, giving me a new sense of who he is, and what relationship with him looks like. He was realigning my thoughts, turning my world upside down, yet right side up. He was depositing in my account truths that I desperately need to make it through each day. Putting words to all this seems daunting, impossible, and almost pointless. Yet I can’t contain it.

So, if you will indulge me, I’m going to use the next few posts to share stuff that I’ve been learning. I’ll also being posting trip photos, songs, designs and the normal b*spoke blog fodder. So stick around. I’m glad that we’re on this journey together.

b*travels :: downtown, for art, food and music

Mid-week last week, my mom and I went from the up north to downtown. From hiking in the woods to morning walks on Nicollet Mall. From a wood-fired sauna to a walk-in rain shower. From rubber boots to high heels. The contrast was a shock to the system, if not totally delightful.

We stayed at the Le Meridien Chambers hotel, which I would highly recommend to anyone visiting Minneapolis. Well-appointed and comfortable, this place is also an “art hotel”, featuring commissioned works and an in-house gallery. We had the pleasure of attending an opening reception at the gallery on Friday night, and I was blown away by the collection from Pace Prints of NYC. Top notch…truly!

As is our way, we also made sure to eat well. My mom arranged for us to go on a food tour of the Skyway through Taste Twin Cities. Our guides Kevin and Rebecca were awesome, and the food was, well, nothing short of delectable. The highlight for me was the grape and apple flatbread with bleu cheese crumbles, rosemary, and honey from Crave. Hands down, the most surprising and yummy pizza I’ve had in awhile. I also was swept off my feet by the salted caramel French macarons and gingerbread with chevre goat cheese frosting cupcake from Cocoa & Fig. Hungry yet?

One of my highlights of our getaway was a visit to the Walker Art Center where I got to experience the Graphic Design: Now in Production exhibit. This once-in-a-decade curated graphic design show blew me away. BLEW.ME.AWAY. I could have easily spent half a day immersing myself in all the goodness that was crammed into that gallery. If you are a designer in or near Minneapolis, GO. Do not hesitate! Do whatever it takes to get yourself there. It’s well worth the time. And if you go on Thursday nights, it’s free! I fully intend to make another visit.

On our last night, my mom and I went to Orchestra Hall and attended a performance of Shastakovich: Symphony No. 5. This particular concert was part of the Inside the Classics series. As stated on The Minnesota Orchestra’s blog, “Inside the Classics concerts are anything but ordinary. The evening begins with conductor Sarah Hicks and violist Sam Bergman presenting a lively exploration of the concert program, providing you with insights to enrich your listening experience. The Orchestra also performs musical examples, so you know what to listen for and why. After intermission, sit back, relax and enjoy a full performance of the featured music.”

If you have never been to the orchestra, or are not familiar with classical music, I would highly, highly recommend this experience. I loved learning more about the composer, his musical influences and the historical climate in which he wrote the symphony. The whole night was magical, and my mom and I loved every second of it!

In addition to the eating and art and music, we also shopped and napped and talked and walked and really, truly enjoyed each others company. Like my dad, my mom holds a very special place in my heart. She is a GEM, and has taught me so much. Always giving, loving, and praying for me. She knows her daughter well–including all my quirks and shortcomings–and still loves me deeply and profoundly. Being known in this way by a parent is humbling. She has taught me many life lessons, watched me grow up, cheered me on, then let me go…yet stayed close enough to offer advice and encouragement whenever I need it (and even sometimes when I don’t think I do). Love you, mom, to the moon and back!

So that was my week. Contrasting, crazy, full, fun. A good reminder to treasure the time with loved ones. All for now. Back tomorrow!

b*travels :: up north, to the hunting camp

Hello. I’m back as promised with more about my up-north hunting adventure. If you’re wondering why on earth I go hunting, let me enlighten you.

The number one reason is because three days of hunting means three days with my dad. Spending quality time with my daddy-o is huge for me. I love being in the woods with him, learning from him, and just being together. My dad is my hero, through and through, and I am always amazed at his wisdom, bravery, strength, and character. We don’t get to talk much, but these times in the deer stand together are some of my favorite moments.

The second reason I go hunting is because when I spend time in the woods, I become hyper-aware of the glory of God in creation.

The morning I took this picture, for instance, the frost on the grass and trees was just beginning to melt as the sun rose and lit the whole thing up, making a million sparkling diamonds. I can’t explain it, couldn’t photograph it for the life of me, but seeing it with my own eyes, while I breathed in the sharp, cold morning air filled me with awe, wonder, and worship for our great Creator.

I also go hunting because it’s an adventure. Getting to my dad’s hunting camp requires crossing two rivers in his amphibious track machine. Yeah. I know, right? Sitting in a deer stand sounds boring, until I tell you that we got to hear a chorus of wolves howling just a stone’s throw away on more than one occasion. At night, we take HOT saunas and then emerge steaming into the cold air under a brilliant and starry sky. We wake super early to get to the stands just as the sun is rising. These moments, and a million more like them make my blood pump, and remind me that I am ALIVE!

Then there are the birds. Okay, the birds aren’t a bona fide reason for these hunting trips, but they do add an element of fun to it all. While my dad was building the cabin this year, a family of gray jays befriended him. Now, whenever he comes to the cabin, all he has to do is whistle, and they show up. They are stockpiling food for winter now, and we lent them a hand, quite literally. Bread and scraps were given to the birds, who calmly alighted on our hands, took our offerings, then flew off to stash them. It was pretty awesome.

And that, in a nutshell, is why I go hunting each year. Back tomorrow with snippets from the second half of my week!

b*travels :: study in contrasts

Hello lovelies! I’m here today with two pictures and only a handful of words. Time off always requires recovery, so today I’m digging my way out from the pile of mail, emails, bills, etc. LOTS of etc! You know the drill.

Anyways, about my mysterious absence! I spent the first half of the week in faaar northern Minnesota with my parents, brother and hubby at my dad’s hunting camp. Three days in a deer stand with my daddy-o, delicious and cozy family dinners, saunas at night, and some AMAZING scenery made for a great time away with those I love most.

The second half of the week was spent in downtown Minneapolis with my mum. She and I have been doing mother-daughter getaways for a couple years now. Spending focused time together is like medicine for us. Life is hectic. We rarely get time to talk or really connect on a regular basis, so these weekends are much-needed. Three days of shopping, art shows, foodie adventures and a visit to the symphony made for a memorable and fun time with my dear mom.

I’ll be back the next couple days with more photos and details from each half of my week. Plus a bunch of other fun posts planned for the near future!! Stay tuned, dears.

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