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Thursday, November 3, 2016

City of Chicago to hold Victory Parade and Rally on Friday

For the first time in 108 years, the Chicago Cubs are the World Series Champions and the city is preparing for an epic party to be held less than 36 hours after the Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians in a  10-inning, game 7 battle at Progressive Field.

The team buses are scheduled to leave Wrigley Field around 10 a.m. on Friday for a downtown parade and noon rally at Lower Hutchinson Field in Grant Park. The parade is expected to travel from Addison and Sheffield to Pine Grove and likely downtown via Lake Shore drive. The parade downtown is expected to begin at Michigan Avenue at Oak, then south to Ohio Street before moving to Grant Park for the rally. The event is open to the public.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Edwards Place in Springfield, IL

For those who love history, Springfield, Illinois should be at the top of your Midwest travel list. Besides the very obvious reasons of there being a current and former state capitol as well as so many attractions related to Abraham Lincoln, there are several historic homes in the city that give a glimpse into life in Springfield's early days.

The "courting couch." Photo provided by Springfield Art Assn.
On a recent visit to Springfield, I was able to visit some of those historic homes, including Edwards Place, which is the oldest home in the city that has remained in the same location. Built in 1833, the home was occupied by Benjamin and Helen Edwards and was a social hub of the area. Benjamin Edwards was the youngest son of Governor Ninian Edwards. The Edwards hosted parties and political events, including a rally for Stephen A. Douglas, which wouldn't seem all that unusual for a prominent family in early Springfield. However, the sister of Edwards' brothers' wife happened to be Mary Todd Lincoln.

Within the home are priceless pieces with ties to Lincoln, including the "courting couch" where Abe Lincoln and Mary Todd sat during their courtship in the home of Benjamin Edward's brother and the square grand piano that was used to play music at the wedding of the Lincolns.

The home underwent renovations to expand it in 1857 and cutouts on several walls show where the original brick is underneath. The renovations included the addition of the front porch that you see on the home today. In some spots, the original wallpaper is visible and you're able to view it in comparison to amazingly identical reproductions.

The sitting room at Edwards place. Photo courtesy of Springfield Art Association.
Throughout the home, the formality and prestige is conveyed, with some original furnishings displayed along with other period pieces in the parlor and private living spaces. As we visited, the house was being prepared for a fun murder mystery dinner (a first time event)
so it didn't appear exactly as it would a normal tour, but we were able to get a good look at what is covered on a routine tour, which lasts about 45-minutes.

The home ceased being occupied by the Edwards' family following the death of their daughter in 1909. It later became home to the Springfield Art Association in 1913 and became a gallery and space for meeting and education.

In 2015, the first floor was restored to appear as it would have when the Edwards called the structure their home with plans to continue with restoration of the second floor in the near future.

The home is open for public tours on Tuesday through Friday at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. and on Saturday at 12, 1 and 2 p.m. or by social appointment. Admission is $5 for adults and kids age 10 and under are free. For more information, visit EdwardsPlace.org

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

UNLOCKaLOCK Escape Room opens Friday

I've been hearing a lot of buzz in recent months about Escape Room destinations. They may be a little hard to wrap your head around if you have never been to one. These businesses, which have popped up in several spots in Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana offer a fun activity for groups where they are locked in a room and have to work together to solve clues to get out of the room before their time expires.

One is set to open this Friday and my husband and I were among the first people to get to try to successfully escape from a room last weekend as the owners were doing a preview and some test runs.

UnlockaLock in Lansing offers two themed rooms - the Pirate Room and the Throne Room. I was in the first group to do the Throne Room. Besides my husband and I, there was another couple and their two young adult daughters. The other male in our group and my husband hit it off and their humor made the challenge that much more fun. Groups can go up to 8 in a room. It's neat that in working together, everyone contributes something that leads you to finding clues.

We got off to a slow start, but once we found the first clue, we were doing well and I think we were just short of solving our mystery when our one-hour countdown ended. With it being my first time doing an Escape Room, I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but it was a lot of fun and we all really got into it once we found our first clue and got rolling. I'd love to try it again.

I can see it being a great outing for co-workers or for a scout troop or birthday party or just for a family night or date night out. In looking at the online calendar, it looks like you'll be able to book for Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday and some Wednesdays. Take a peek at the website for a list of FAQ and additional information. If you book online by 8/31, you can get 10% off by using the discount code "CARSHOW." All escape sessions must be booked in advance online at www.unlockalockescaperoom.com.. If you're looking for something different for a night out or enjoy activities that require a bit of thought, it's something you need to try at least once...but chances are once you try it, you'll be hooked and want to give it another try.

UNLOCKaLOCK Escape Room
18241 West Street
Lansing, IL 60438
708-704-3853
unlockalockescaperoom.com

White Sox U.S. Cellular Field to get new name

Even though I'm a big Cubs fan, announcement of a name change of the White Sox home field is big news. In my mind and many others in the Chicago area, it will always be Comiskey Park. In 1990, the old Comiskey Park was used for its last White Sox season and a new ballpark was built beside it. The new park, which opened in 1991, was knows as Comiskey Park until it was renamed U.S. Cellular Field (a.k.a. "The Cell") in 1993. It was announced today that the ball park will get a new name starting November 1st.

Even being a die-hard Cubs fan, Comiskey Park/U.S. Cellular Field have created pleasant memories. My first Sox games were at Old Comiskey and I've attended several games at the new park, which has some great family friendly features and promotions. If you ever have a chance to attend a patio party at The Cell, it's a blast. Your group enjoys a buffet and beer and you have a chance to pregame onsite before the game.

Here's the details announced in a press release today:


Guaranteed Rate Field debuts on November 1
Chicago-based national mortgage lender Guaranteed Rate and the White Sox have signed a 13-year naming rights agreement for the team's home ballpark, which will be named Guaranteed Rate Field beginning November 1, 2016.

"We are pleased to find, in Guaranteed Rate, a new naming rights partner founded in Chicago by Chicagoans, which shares our commitment to the city and to our fans," said Jerry Reinsdorf, chairman of the White Sox.

The White Sox and Guaranteed Rate also have agreed on sponsorship elements associated with White Sox baseball, including various branding, promotional and hospitality benefits, along with joint marketing opportunities. Guaranteed Rate becomes the official mortgage and title company of the White Sox.

"We are incredibly excited and honored to be part of the White Sox family," said Victor Ciardelli, president & CEO of Guaranteed Rate. "We look forward to many great years of White Sox baseball at Guaranteed Rate Field."

Saturday, July 2, 2016

HarborPark: Kenosha, WI

During the summer months, there are a lot of fun events that happen at HarborPark in Kenosha, including the recent Border Wars Beer Fest and the annual Taste of Wisconsin, which we have attended several times. And even when there's not something going on, it's a lovely place for a stroll with beautiful views.

Just steps away from the park are the Kenosha Public Museum and the Civil War Museum as well as the tracks for the electric streetcar system. Anytime we are near the Kenosha lakefront, my kids love to hop on and take a ride. We also love all the free and easily accessible beachfront that you can spend time at. There's a lot to love about Kenosha and the lakefront is at the top of the list. For more info on events at HarborPark and within Kenosha, go to VisitKenosha.com



Friday, July 1, 2016

Caboose Lake: Remington, IN


On several trips over the years to Indiana Beach we'd pass Caboose Lake Campground in Remington, IN and it looked like a fun place for the kids. So, as we planned our most recent visit to Monticello to visit the amusement park, we decided to make it into a little getaway. We spent a full day at Indiana Beach and then a full day at the campground where there's a lot to do.

I had been wanting to do camping with the kids for a while. We'd stayed at a lot of campgrounds, but always in RVs or cabins, not actually "roughin' it." And we had a sizable tent that hadn't been used other than for backyard campouts and a once a year cub scout camp.

So, we set-up our tent and slept under the stars that night. I'm glad we experienced it, but I learned that I am no longer into roughin' it. I hadn't done that since I was a teenager. It was muggy. My inflatable mattress deflated in the middle of the night. Bugs were buzzing. My kids snored and kicked. The neighbors in the camper beside us were up late and then up early and really loud. Luckily, they have both rental RVs and cabins, so on our next visit, we will have to take advantage of that.

The boys enjoyed fishing with their dad, playing on the playground, making s'mores, swimming and playing on the beach and just strolling around the campground and eating ice cream. For a one-price wristband you have unlimited use of the Summer Beach Family Fun Zone during the times they are open. It includes a big inflatable water slide, bumper boats and a Water Wars water balloon game. Different fun activities are scheduled on weekends, such as horse shoe tournaments, train rides and corn hole tournaments. The kids took advantage of all of the above.

Caboose Lake provided a nice time for all of us and a chance to enjoy time as a family without electronics and screens. I'd recommend it as a place for a weekend family getaway if you're in Northern IL, Northern IN or Southwest, MI as is not too far and t'd it's a great stop to pair up with a visit to Indiana Beach. For more information, follow Caboose Lake Campground on Facebook or check out the website at cabooselake.com.






Sunday, June 19, 2016

Locavore Farm offers Dine-on-the-Land Dinners

Summer is a lovely season for dining, whether it's on a trendy downtown rooftop or al fresco on a patio or enjoying a picnic at a scenic park. But, for the ultimate in outdoor dining, you need to pay a visit to Locavore Farms in Grant Park, Illinois.

There's so much to love about this place, including the backstory. A busy professional suburban couple, Chris and Rachael Jones, tired of their hectic life and grabbing easy, but not so healthy food made a conscious decision not only to make a move with their two children to live a quieter more rural lifestyle, but to grow their own food and focus on sharing that bounty with others while also bringing in other local farmers with a similar philosophy of wanting to provide good food for people and providing an opportunity for them to slow down and really appreciate where it comes from.

They open up their farm, which has just begun season two, several times a year for visitors to come enjoy life on their small family farm. The events include a tour, five-course dinner, craft beers and cocktails, hay rides, a fire-pit to relax by. Beautifully decorated with chic country touches, like painted mason jars filled with wildflowers, benches and seats adorned with colorful quilts and throw pillows, lighted jars hanging from trees that give a lovely glow as the sun sets, you almost feel like you've stepped onto the site of a photo shoot for a magazine. Everything looks perfect.

The food is always a spectacular feast of what's in season, with five courses prepared using fresh ingredients from their own garden and from local farms by creative chefs. For dinner, guests gather at a custom made table that seats 100. Tickets go quickly for these events, so don't wait. There are three remaining dine-on-the-land dinners scheduled this year (August's is already sold out) and there will be an Oktoberfest celebration there on October 8.

It's truly a lovely experience of arriving in late afternoon as the sun shines and the blue sky as a backdrop as frogs croak in the pond, stems of emerging crops blow in the wind and a perfectly situated hay bale sits covered in a floral quilt. Then listening to live music on a blanket as the sun sets caps off the diner perfectly.