EXPO CHICAGO: The Massive Maze of Art

EXPO CHICAGO

I’ve been traveling a TON this summer. In fact, this past weekend was one of the first times I’ve had to relax and enjoy life at home. Not wanting to miss an opportunity to play a tourist in my own backyard, I popped over to Navy Pier to check out EXPO CHICAGO, a massive display of contemporary and modern artwork from more than 140 galleries around the globe.

I’d originally planned to go with a friend, and at first, I was disappointed when I learned that she wouldn’t be able to attend. So I went by myself instead, and ended up being pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed my solo journey.

EXPO CHICAGO

It gave me time to browse through the collections at my own pace, and get lost in my own thoughts. Much like the woman in this piece found in a curated “Wind” gallery, I found myself pedaling through a cycle of reflections, interrupted by striking creations and pops of color.

EXPO CHICAGO

I read on one of the signs in the entryway that the exposition architect actually designed the art hall space to feel like a maze. There were little alleys and nooks that you had to turn into to find more treasures on display. And you had to back out of those turns to explore other galleries. There were also a few central hallways and a diagonal pathway that you could follow to see select highlights if you didn’t want to meander through all of the exhibits.

I saw some pieces that used common objects, re-imagined. Mark Wagner created this currency collage using dollar bills. (It had me feeling all Wu-Tang Clan. Did someone say dolla dolla bear, y’all?)

EXPO CHICAGO EXPO CHICAGO

This bronze and iron sculpture created by Manolo Valdés reminded me of the days I adorned a giant hat and wig for a ballet production of The Nutcracker. (They were both gorgeous headpieces, but oh, so heavy!)

EXPO CHICAGO

This glass sculpture, assembled by artist Dustin Yellin, was created using layers of collage, glass and acrylic. It’s amazing to see the details up close, and the layers when looked at from the side.

EXPO CHICAGOEXPO CHICAGO

What was the last piece of art that you saw that stopped and made you think? Or see the world in a new way? I’m on my way to a work-related art event later this week. (Recap to come on that project soon!)

Vintage Bachelorette Bash

One of my best friends Marissa just got married a few weeks ago in Chicago, and I had the honor of being her one and only bridesmaid! And yes, I do intend to post a recap piece about her BIG day, but I need to rewind back in time a bit first to share deets about her vintage, pinup-themed bachelorette bash.

First up, the invite. There were a few more details listed than what’s below, but you get the idea. ;) (It’s important to mention that the bride loves cherries and the color red.) Note: Dress up was HIGHLY encouraged. There were no points awarded for authenticity, but major cool points awarded for having fun and embracing the theme in whatever way you felt was most appropriate.

Vintage Bachelorette

Next, it was party planning time. I spent weeks scouring sites like Etsy and the shelves of Home Goods for fun favors and finds. With plans to host the group at my place for cupcakes, cocktails and girly games, I purchased vintage fans and banners, slumber party rubber duckies and flower candy rings from Oriental Trading. The mini tea set I found at Home Goods transformed into “tea shot cups” — classy, I know. (There were shot-sized “rings” as well. Hey, a girl’s gotta have her bevvies and bling!) I also whipped up a batch of strawberry lemonade cupcakes – the box variety – and had plenty of pastel-colored, old school candy faves.

vintage bachelorette vintage bachelorette

In addition to the “tea shot cups,” and duckies, guests got to take home plastic mason jar glasses, extra candy (and candy rings) and some super cute head scarfs from LoveAdellaide. Etsy shop owner Jacquelyn even created a custom order for me that I designed with Marissa in mind. :) I felt like such a VIP when I saw my name included on the listing. I also ordered a custom set of photo booth props – mustaches, lips and glasses – from the PhotoBoothGirls. I was able to ask for specific colors, frames and shapes and delivery was super fast.

vintage bachelorette

With all things set, we learned that the bride-to-be had contracted food poisoning on the eve of the bash! But she was determined not to miss out on the bachelorette festivities, so we packed up our favors and treats and brought the pre-party fun to her apartment.

The main event of the night was a burlesque show at Kiss Kiss Cabaret, but to get her ready for her night out, we treated Marissa to hair and makeup at Strange Beauty Show. (Cue the headscarfs! And the bottle of ginger ale to calm her upset stomach!)

vintage bachelorette

Dinner was at Antique Taco, a cute taqueria “parlor” with tacos, horchata milkshakes and chili cheese curds on the menu and vintage antiques and re-sale items served up as decor. A few of us shared tacos while Marissa sipped on an agua fresca and nibbled on a few corn tortillas we were given on the house. The fish tacos were my favorite, hands down. The tempura batter was light and crispy and the Sriracha tartar sauce and smoked cabbage slaw gave each bite the right amount of smokey, tangy flavor.

vintage bachelorette

vintage bachelorette

At Kiss Kiss Cabaret, the producer let us take a quick group photo on the main stage. (Cue the photo booth props!) Then the house lights went down and we were treated to a show that included a Spanish-inspired dance opener, a juggling magician, a duo who reenacted the “Nobody puts Baby in the corner” routine from Dirty Dancing, (complete with extra twirls, whirls and tumbles in the air,) and a saucy monologue followed by an “I’ll do what I want” act from Audrey Tawdry as the closing number. Audrey was our favorite performer of the evening. She had this “my way or the highway” daredevil aggressiveness in her performance delivery that was empowering to watch.

vintage bachelorette

The group closed the night at a neighborhood bar down the street. I was so SO glad that Marissa made it out – like a champ! – and that we all got to celebrate her in style. And yes, that “Bachelorette Sash” above was assembled using a ginormous gift wrap bow, glitter glue love, a tablecloth and a sharpie. The sash I’d originally ordered never made it in the mail!! So naturally, we improvised. (Stay tuned for a wedding recap soon!)

Chocolate Chip Butterscotch Coffee Cookies

Chocolate Butterscotch Coffee Cookies

Last month, I attended the kick-off soiree for this year’s Chicago Food Film Festival. If you’ve never heard of the event, it’s exactly what it sounds like: you get to watch films about food…and then sample the featured foods! NOMS city. (They even inserted napkins in our programs!)

Food Film Fest

To preserve the authenticity of the dishes and the tasting experience, the event organizers flew in ingredients (and in some cases, the chefs, too!) from the places profiled in the food flicks. The biggest draw at the party was by far the Ramen Burger. YES. You heard me right. A delicious patty enclosed in a ramen “bun.” Dreamed up by ramen connoisseur Keizo Shimamoto, this noodle nosh caused quite the craze this year, right up there with the cronut. (Like the cronut, the lines to try the Ramen Burger in New York can be quite long; Shimamoto once even swapped a customer a burger for a cronut!) 

Food Film Fest

Ramen Burger team, assemble! Chef Shimamoto and crew built their creations in front of our drooling eyes. Want to learn more about this burger bliss? Check out the trailer for the Ramen Burger film: http://vimeo.com/75558527

Food Film Fest

Burger aside, one of the surprise showstoppers for me was the Compost Cookie from David Chang’s Momofuku Milk Bar. It’s called a Compost Cookie because it crams in a TON of ingredients, including (but not limited to) potato chips, oatmeal, chocolate chips, pretzels and ground coffee. The coffee grounds really gave the cookies a mighty fine finish. They flew Compost Cookie samples in straight from NYC that morning! We even got to take a few pieces home in our goodie bags to enjoy for breakfast the next morning. :)

Food Film Fest

Inspired by this everything cookie, I knew I had to try to make a simplified version: Chocolate Chip Butterscotch Coffee Cookies.

The Makings: (Yields about 3 1/2-4 dozen cookies)

Chocolate Butterscotch Coffee Cookies

  • Flour – 2 1/4 cups
  • Baking soda – 1 teaspoon
  • Salt – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Ground coffee – 2 teaspoons
  • Butter or margarine – 1 cup (2 sticks)
  • Sugar – 3/4 cup
  • Brown sugar – 3/4 cup
  • Vanilla extract – 2 teaspoons
  • Eggs – 2
  • Chocolate Chips – 2/3 cup
  • Butterscotch Chips – 2/3 cup
  • White Chocolate Chips – 2/3 cup

The Sweetness:

Chocolate Butterscotch Coffee Cookies

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, baking soda, salt and coffee grounds together in medium bowl.

Chocolate Butterscotch Coffee Cookies

2. In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar and brown sugar until creamy. Slowly mix in eggs and vanilla extract. Gradually add dry mixture into large bowl until incorporated.

Chocolate Butterscotch Coffee Cookies

Chocolate Butterscotch Coffee Cookies

3. Stir in chocolate chips, white chocolate chips and butterscotch chips. Use tablespoon to drop dough onto lightly greased cookie sheet. (Use extra chocolate and butterscotch chips to position on top of cookie dough drops.) Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes.

Next time around, I’d add in more coffee grounds, as the butterscotch dominated the flavor profile of these cookies, but overall I liked that you got a slightly different blend of flavors with every bite. Serve them up as a snack with a glass of milk or mug of coffee. (Hey, there’s coffee in ’em, so go ahead and take a couple for breakfast. ;)

More Sweetness:

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins  Apple Pie Cookies  Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies