Photography Travel Theme: Multiples

This week’s travel theme at Where’s My Backpack? is multiples. When I first decided to link up with Ailsa, I was at a loss as to what to actually feature among my photos. But, as with any conceptual theme (and a lust for travel), inspiration will take you beyond where you thought you could go.

Here’s a few local shots for your traveling enjoyment. After all, Chicago is a travel destination for some people — just not me. 🙂

Let’s start with multiple tree branches taken on New Year’s Day at Dawes Park in Evanston, Illinois. Dawes Park is just south of Northwestern University along Lake Michigan and is a local treasure. I loved the way the afternoon sun hit the branches of the trees and the amazing blue of the sky on a very cold day.

Following along the path in Dawes Park, we discovered the rocks piled up to form a breakwater. The sun on the snow with the contrast of the rock was breathtaking.

On a lighter note, my travels took me to my nail salon yesterday, and I couldn’t resist taking this photo of another kind of multiples. I gave the photo a little “boost” of color, and there you have it. A smile for your day…

  Happy weekend and happy photography!

Be sure to stop by Ailsa’s blog at Where’s My Backpack? and check out some photographs by other posters!

 

25 Days of Holiday Recipes: Rosemary Roasted Pork Loin

Doesn’t it sound like a fun job to work in a spices store?

I have recently been able to experience the world of Penzeys Spices — a place where cooking is kindness, and that kindness can change the world. Really. That’s what their job application page says and that’s been my experience when shopping at two different locations in the Chicagoland area. I am impressed and want everyone to consider shopping either in person or online at Penzeys — it’s a beautiful place to spend a holiday afternoon.

Although I stocked up at the store on whole nutmeg and sweet curry powder, I already had a lot of spices in my cupboard. I went through them and threw away a lot of old spices. I also moved them into glass jars rather than plastic. Penzey’s also sells glass reusable spice jars in several sizes which is good for the environment as well as not leeching plastics poisons into the spices. I also put some spices into small canning jars and yard-sale glass spice jars. I labeled them using my trusty Brother P-touch labeler and I was pretty darn happy. My alphabetized spice cabinet is looking sharp.

When I realized that I had a big rosemary bush on the patio that was not going to live through the winter, I started looking for recipes to use up some of that luscious rosemary goodness. I discovered that Penzeys’ web site has recipes linked up to the order pages for the different spices. I was in business with a recipe for Rosemary Roasted Pork Loin.

Rosemary Roasted Pork Loin

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 60 minutes

Yield: 6 Servings

Serving Size: 4 oz.

Calories per serving: 170

Fat per serving: 6g

Rosemary Roasted Pork Loin

Ingredients

Instructions

Heat oven to 450°. Rinse the roast and pat dry. In a small bowl, mix together the GARLIC, THYME, ROSEMARY, lemon juice, lemon zest, 1 TB. of the olive oil, salt and PEPPER.

Rub the seasoning all over pork loin.

Note: We bought a small 2 1/2 # center cut roast and cut it into two pieces. I put the second piece into a plastic bag and put half the marinade on the roast; we'll have this another meal since there's only two of us now in our empty nest.

Spread the remaining olive oil evenly over the bottom of a roasting pan. Place the pork in the pan. Roast at 450° for 30 minutes; lower the temperature to 350° and continue roasting for 30 minutes or until the internal temperature is 155°. Remove the pork to a cutting board; cover with foil and let stand 15 minutes or until the temperature reaches 160°. Slice and serve.

For gravy, save 2 cups of the water you cooked the potatoes in (assuming you're using the gravy for mashed potatoes; if not, 2 cups of water is fine). Remove the roast from the pan and drain off all but 2 TB. fat (if there is any). Place the pan on the stove top, pour in the potato water and let sit a few minutes. Scrape up browned bits from pan. Pour juice through a strainer into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and reduce liquid by 1/3. Reduce heat to medium low, taste and add salt to taste. Thicken with 1-2 tsp. ARROWROOT or cornstarch dissolved in 1 TB. water.

Notes

Cook time is variable from 60 - 75 minutes; use a meat thermometer.

Nutritional Information: Servings 10; Serving Size 4 oz. (103); Calories 170; Calories from fat 60; Total fat 6g; Cholesterol 70mg; Sodium 115mg; Carbohydrate 1g; Dietary Fiber 0g; Sugars 0g; Protein 25g.

http://gotmyreservations.com/2012/12/02/25-days-of-holiday-recipes-rosemary-roasted-pork-loin/

Back to your travel dreams — Penzeys is a great place to take the relatives or to pick up a house gift. They have stores in twenty-seven states. The next time I have friends visiting the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park or shopping at the Pleasant Prairie Premium Outlets in Kenosha, Wisconsin, I’m going to include a stop at Penzeys on our itineray.

Recipe courtesy of Penzeys Spices; links are to Penzeys and Oh, Olive for the garlic olive oil. I featured Oh, Olive here in a previous post.

Chicago Day 8: Public Art

I’m linked up today and for the rest of the month in the 31 Days Challenge at The Nester. By clicking the tab at the top of the page, you can easily access all of the 31 Days in Chicago posts. If you’ve got a story to tell about your experiences in Chicago, I welcome guest posts. Join the fun by emailing me, or if you’re not ready to write, go to The Nester’s web site to follow some other stories this month.

Chicago is well-known for its public art.

You have probably all seen Cloud Gate, our “bean” in Grant Park.

You probably have also wondered about our Picasso.

You may have even seen the Batcolumn.

But have you seen Carpet by Ellen Harvey (2007), a mosaic of hand-cut marble? I used to ride the CTA from this station, but I’ve never seen this amazing piece of art work.

If you’re a visitor to town or a staycationer, an exploration of the Chicago Public Art Program website might be in order. We are surrounded by art and it enriches our daily lives in sweet home, Chicago.

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Chicago Day 6: Got Culture?

I’m linked up today and for the rest of the month in the 31 Days Challenge at The Nester. By clicking the tab at the top of the page, you can easily access all of the 31 Days in Chicago posts. If you’ve got a story to tell about your experiences in Chicago, I welcome guest posts. Join the fun by emailing me, or if you’re not ready to write, go to The Nester’s web site to follow some other stories this month.

There’s a lot going on in Chicago this month; we’re celebrating Illinois Arts and Humanities Month.

Looking for something different to do? Are you a local or a visitor? Either way, these offerings are just a sampling of what’s available in Chicago’s diverse cultural community. After all, we are the home of at least thirty colleges and universities, including world-renowned Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Unnatural Spaces: A Performance and Conversation

Sunday, October 14 – 7:00 PM – Hairpin Arts Center (2800 North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago)

Pink Slime. Bullets. Parking meters. Lead poisoning. Exes. Asbestos. Trash and trash talking. Poetry meets the stage in Unnatural Spaces- a fast-paced, often-funny look at the environmental choices we all make to eat, look beautiful, get around, stay on budget, and make it through the day. Join us for this one-night only free performance of Unnatural Spaces followed by a post-show conversation on environmental justice with Anne Evens of the Center for Neighborhood Technology, Martin Macias Jr. of Radio Arte and Chicago Fair Trade, and others. Limited seats available. Make your reservation now.

Art, Culture, and Struggle: Exploring Possibility and Imagination

Thursday, October 25 – 7:00 PM – Jane Addams Hull-House Museum (800 South Halsted Street, Chicago)

Join artists Josh MacPhee and Ivan Arenas for a conversation exploring the connections (and disjunctures) between art, culture, and struggle. MacPhee, a Brooklyn-based street artist, designer and activist, will present a slideshow based on the content of the newly released “Signal: A Journal of International Political Graphics.” Arenas, a Mexican-American scholar whose work focuses on the relationship between urban spaces and political subjects, will share insights from his work as an artist and scholar in Oaxaca, Mexico. Together we will explore the complex ways that art and cultural production affects our communities and our struggles for equality and justice.

Thanks to my friend Michele for participating in the “guest post” program; you can read her interesting account of traveling in Ireland here. Michele is a professor at Northeastern Illinois University and also does career counseling for students at the College of Lake County.

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Chicago Day 5: We Are Activists

I’m linked up today and for the rest of the month in the 31 Days Challenge at The Nester. By clicking the tab at the top of the page, you can easily access all of the 31 Days in Chicago posts. If you’ve got a story to tell about your experiences in Chicago, I welcome guest posts. Join the fun by emailing me, or if you’re not ready to write, go to The Nester’s web site to follow some other stories this month.

Whether or not we always agree with each other, in Chicago we care and we show it by our actions.

Obviously, these photos are just a small representation of the thriving community that is Chicagoland. I love living here.

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Chicago Day 4: Our Skyline Rocks!

I’m linked up today and for the rest of the month in the 31 Days Challenge at The Nester. By clicking the tab at the top of the page, you can easily access all of the 31 Days in Chicago posts. If you’ve got a story to tell about your experiences in Chicago, I welcome guest posts. Join the fun by emailing me, or if you’re not ready to write, go to The Nester’s web site to follow some other stories this month.

What is the first image that comes to mind when you think about Chicago?

Our beautiful skyline, right? You already saw it from the lakefront on my Day 2  post. This photo is taken from our stunning Grant Park (but more about our fabulous parks another day).

Even when it’s raining and with the rain comes the inevitable traffic slowdown, that skyline is still a beautiful sight.

When we’re coming west from points east, the minute we know that skyline’s up ahead, the energy in the car changes. It’s a buzz every time.

We’re back in the game.

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Chicago Day 3: Bike Trails

I’m linked up today and for the rest of the month in the 31 Days Challenge at The Nester. By clicking the tab at the top of the page, you can easily access all of the 31 Days in Chicago posts. If you’ve got a story to tell about your experiences in Chicago, I welcome guest posts. Join the fun by emailing me, or if you’re not ready to write, go to The Nester’s web site to follow some other stories this month.

Chicagoland runs amok with bike trails and bicyclists.

We even have a Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council which promotes the use of bicycles for short trips and also works to encourage safety for bicyclists.

The Bike 2015 Plan is the City of Chicago’s vision to make bicycling an integral part of daily life in Chicago. The plan recommends projects, programs and policies for the next ten years to encourage use of this practical, non-polluting and affordable mode of transportation.

Chicago’s commitment to bicycling can be both a good and a bad thing.

I drove downtown from my suburban home last week and could scarcely drive safely on Milwaukee Avenue in the Wicker Park neighborhood among all of the bicyclists. This video shows an underpass that I travel through almost every time I am in the city. Frightening, isn’t it? (If you click into the video when it opens you can also see the commentary about the dangerous intersection.)

On the other hand, Chicago’s bike trails are safe (most of the time) and give the cyclist an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery that one can find on Chicago’s lakefront and in forest preserves all around the area. There are also many bike trails that were converted from abandoned railroad right-of-ways.

We biked the Des Plaines River Trail a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed the late afternoon warmth from the sun as the forest preserve began to cool down. I got myself all kitted out with my bike shorts on under my stretchy pants and my new breathable helmet. Then I HAD to bring my camera bag, water, and purse things, so my basket was probably as heavy as my Trex bike! Still, it wasn’t very crowded and we had a wonderful bike ride.

But then I kept stopping to take photos. Music Man left me in his dust and went on to another part of the bike path while I reveled in the fun scenery.

The Chicagoland Bike Maps website shows the plethora of bike trips available around the Chicago area. No matter where you’re staying, there’s a bike path within easy reach, so bring your bikes to Chicago. Remember that it is a city and you will need to protect your valuable investment. Bike Chicago also rents bicycles (and does Segway tours as well as bike tours) and has four locations along the lakefront.

Biking in Chicago — it’s a good thing. 🙂

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Chicago Day 2: Boat Trips

I’m linked up today and for the rest of the month in the 31 Days Challenge at The Nester. By clicking the tab at the top of the page, you can easily access all of the 31 Days in Chicago posts. If you’ve got a story to tell about your experiences in Chicago, I welcome guest posts. Join the fun by emailing me, or if you’re not ready to write, go to The Nester’s web site to follow some other stories this month.

Despite its Midwest location, Chicago has several boat tour options that can jump start a vacation — or a staycation. We have a fabulous skyline when seen from Lake Michigan, and the architectural tours that go up the Chicago River are equally fun.

Chicago River Architecture Tour

The granddaddy of all the current tour operators is the Wendella Sightseeing Company. Started in 1935, Wendella’s dock at 400 N. Michigan Ave. is easily accessible for tourists as it is right by the piers of the Michigan Avenue bridge. Wendella operates a Chicago River Architecture tour, a combined Lake and River tour, and a Sunset Lake Cruise.

Shoreline Sightseeing is almost as old as Wendella (1939) and now departs from a convenient dock in the Navy Pier Gateway Park. I have also taken this cruise and their open  top deck held a lot of passengers without any impediments to the view. You don’t have to worry about which side of the boat you are on since you can see both sides from the deck, and their guides were very good.

A newer entry into the cruise tour market, Chicago Line Cruises uses a dock at 465 N. McClurg Court, about halfway between Shoreline and Wendella. As you can see from their trendy web site, they are doing a lot to entice customers to their cruises. I took both the river and lake tours recently and they were upbeat and informative.

There are also water taxis that operate from the train stations via the Chicago River, and then there’s the Seadog cruises. I’ve never done these cruises, but they look like fun for the adventurous. 🙂

For the more sedate among you, the Tall Ship Adventures ships also go out into Lake Michigan for various cruises. There are three docking locations along the lakefront including Navy Pier and at the museum campus. When I took this tour with family members, we were disappointed to find that although the sails were up, we were always motoring. Still, it’s a fun trip for children who have grown up with Pirates of the Caribbean.

Finally, for the romantics among you, dinner cruises are available on the Spirit of Chicago, the Odyssey, and Mystic Blue. All three are beautiful large yachts with full dinner service, bars, and often dancing and music while you are out on the lake. For a couple of hours, you can pretend to be rich and party like a celebrity.

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Chicago Day 1: Sepia Restaurant

I’m linked up today and for the rest of the month in the 31 Days Challenge at The Nester. By clicking the tab at the top of the page, you can easily access all of the 31 Days in Chicago posts.

If you’ve got a story to tell about your experiences in Chicago, I welcome guest posts. Join the fun by emailing me, or if you’re not ready to write, go to The Nester’s web site to follow some other stories this month.

From its hidden-away front door to its sexy bathroom, Sepia is a treat for anyone who finds it. Every detail is important to the ambiance of this West Loop restaurant carved out of an old print shop. Its cocktails are creative and delicious and its wine cellar is carefully curated to match the menu. Even the coasters (which I desperately wanted to steal but didn’t) are thematic. Sepia is a total experience.

And the food speaks for itself. The Sepia menu is seasonal and inspired.

House made charcuterie selection

Carnaroli risotto, beets, walnuts, pecorino pecato, pickled lemon

Grilled albacore tuna, squid ink couscous, berbere spice

Halibut, sweet corn, fingerling potatoes, crispy onions, curry

Selection of three domestic cheeses

Our anniversary dessert — a nutella mousse

In addition to the beautiful main dining room, Sepia also has a private room available for rent. I took a photo through the door and even empty, it was stunning.

Sometimes I wonder if celebrity executive chefs (Iron Chef) actually are a part of the day-to-day operations of a restaurant, but it seems that Andrew Zimmerman really put his heart and soul into Sepia.

P.S. I’m still struggling with the gaucheness of taking photos in elegant restaurants, and we took these photos with my iPhone. I know they’re not perfect, but they didn’t cause the other people in the restaurant to roll their eyes at us.

October 2012 Challenge

I’ll be linking up with The Nester again this year for the 31 Days Challenge — and what better travel destination to choose than my own beloved city? I’ve combed through my archives and I have lots of beautiful Chicagoland sites to share with you, as well as a whole bunch of restaurants. Some will be new to you and some may be old favorites.

If you’d like to join me as a cheerleader for the home team, I’d love some guest posts about your experiences in our fair (but sometimes windy) city. Just email me — my link is in the contact box on the right. Just send me your photos and text, and I can format the post for you.

Last year I just about killed myself with magazine-style articles about places in Europe that we visited. I’m hoping to keep this year’s posts shorter, with lots of photography. You know that I love a challenge; I think I’m ready to introduce you to my Sweet Home Chicago. See you Monday!

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