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July 8, 2004
From journal Chicago - I Should Just Move There
July 27, 2004
To the left of the Park Shop under the shade of a crisp white umbrella a profusion of color literally explodes from the front of the European Flower Shop. Reminiscent of a flower vendor on a Paris thoroughfare, the gorgeous displays of fresh-cut bouquets are spread out on to the sidewalk in silvery, oversized anodized tin vases.
Each day I pass Millennium Park, the flower selections on display are more delightful than the previous day’s choices. Roses are the prime selection at this boutique. The hues may vary from day to day, but the quality is always superb. The spicy smells of the raging reds, baby powder pink & citron-scented yellow are a daily staple. Also on display for immediate purchase are giant orange Gerber daisies, miniature long-stemmed sunflowers, riotous violet-blue hydrangeas, regally tall burgundy gladiolas & delicate mauve daylilies. The arrays of blooms are unapologetically stunning & steal some of the attention from the shimmery bean above them
The shop also carries the usual suspects of potted plants as herbs, schefflera, miniature palms, aloes, & ivies in portable attractively-artsy containers. They looked healthy & were perhaps to tempt the gift-needy office workers that eat lunch in the Grill. Hmm…I can’t see these as a romantic gesture, with the receiver toting a potted dieffenbachia around the Park. I also spied a set of nearly 5-foot tall potted purple-leafed cannas & wondered who would be lugging those around. I soon discovered that they were going to be used to decorate the entry to the Mayor’s Fundraising Banquet the next day.
The friendly proprietor will be happy to wrap your purchases in your choice of a simple lime-colored tissue to a more elaborate gift-wrap with a pretty ribbon. The prices are geared to the impulse tourist purchase, as a single long-stemmed rose or tall sunflower will set you back $5.00+tax. In spite of the location-inflated price, I rather enjoy the old-world romance that the market lends to Millennium Park until it has the age to develop its own unique patina.
Store Hours : 9am to 7pm Wednesday through Sunday.
From journal MILLENNIUM PARK-CHICAGO "Make no little plans...”
October 2, 2003
This festival is one of the most unique ways to experience Japanese culture in Chicago. A wide variety of ethnic food is available to try. My favorite item is Takoyaki, which are octopus balls. The name is a bit intimidating, but it is made from chopped up octopus meat and rolled into a batter, which is very lightly fried. We also tried Takkatsu, which is like breaded and fried meat. It comes served with a tasty sauce and some shredded cabbage. More standard fare such as fried rice and a variety of noodle options are available at various booths. Also for sale are steamed edamame and cans of green tea.
Before you get to the food booths you will pass a stage set up for live music and dance performances. Bamboo flutes, drums, and traditional maiko dance are some of the performances you can expect to see. There’s also a small section of mats laid out for martial arts demonstrations such as Aikido, Ninpo and Judo.
Just past the food booths are several arts and crafts booths set up in a section called the Japan Bazaar where you can fine unique items. We saw some wonderful Japanese brush paintings, paper umbrellas, hand-made jewelry and purses for sale. A florist booth was set up selling bonsai trees and feng shui floral arrangements. We spent a significant amount of time browsing through the Japanese books at a bookstand. They offered Japanese cookbooks, origami, Japanese arts and several books on philosophy.
The highlight of the festival is of course the garden itself. The natural beauty of Osaka Garden and its traditional Japanese-style elements inspire the visitor. Entering the garden through its wooden entrance gate takes visitors away from the bustling festival and into a peaceful world of lagoons, lush trees, paths, an arched bridge and even waterfalls. Garden tours are available as part of the festival.
After walking through the garden you will find women dressed in traditional Japanese costumes and performing a traditional tea ceremony in a wooded house. Only about fifteen can partake at the ceremony at one time and we did not wait, but it is definitely on my list for next year.
A kid’s stage is set up past the Japan Bazaar. Ongoing kid’s activities include chigiri-e paper artwork, water balloon yoyo games, ramune ring toss, the chopstick challenge, 1000 paper crane making and getting their name written in Japanese. Story tellers, origami, kite making, mask making and other activities are scheduled throughout the weekend.
From journal Chicago: Annual Fall Festivals
los angeles, California
February 25, 2003
Actually the girls wanted to go to Navy Pier but the place was just too expensive for the three of us. I've been before and by the time three people do three things and have a coke each, well, it's not as bad as Disneyland but too rich for my blood -- this was a two week vacation just before Christmas and I definitely needed to keep within the budget so Navy Pier was out -- Oak Street Beach was in.
Wearing our coats and mittens we walked up and down the bike/jog paths, sang Christmas songs quite badly, stared at the water, kicked sand and took lots and lots of pictures.
You can access the beach from one of the many pathways along Michigan Avenue, for a landmark, it's north of the Drake Hotel. If you're lost, ask the doorman.
Also... across the street from where the doorman stands is a bandstand, it is also across the street from the beach. In the winter there is nothing going on and it is a great spot to let your children run off some energy while you sit and think of other things. The girls put on some sort of bad play involving lots of hollering, but other than the doorman and a few cab drivers staring at us -- we disturbed no one.
From journal Chicago on a Budget with Children
September 12, 2002
There are many great beaches in Chicago (the entire lakefront is public), but this one is definately the "hottest." Only go to this one if you
don't mind looking at some amazing bodies.
The lake front in Chicago is all public, with jogging/biking paths running the
whole way. Most of the people at this beach are very much in shape. It also has
a great view of Navy Pier.
The easiest access to Oak Street Beach is either along the paths, if you are
walking/biking, or on the Michigan Ave. bus, 151. There is a great underpass
that goes under Lake Shore Drive and connects the beach. There are also a few
restaurants only minutes away, if you need to get out of the sun.
If Oak St. Beach gets crowded or you need a change of venue, you can go north a
few blocks to other beaches along the "Outer Drive."
From journal Chicago 'Da' Right Way