Courage in a Cupcake

DSC_1020Another new restaurant!

The Courageous Bakery and Cafe. Yes, the name has a meaning.  About seven years ago, a young women was diagnosed with cancer and a benefit was held to help her with medical bills. Her sister baked 250 cupcakes for the benefit and everyone liked them. That was the beginning – first of a cupcake food truck and now also two brick and mortar restaurants.

But they don’t just have cupcakes – they also serve breakfasts and lunches. Friend Kris and I stopped in for lunch. Both of us had quiche and both of us thought it was great. I had a salad with mine and Kris had roasted potatoes which she said were good.

And of added interest – the owners were featured on Cupcake Wars – so when we decided to get a cupcake – a got the pink velvet, a runner up on the TV show. The cupcake was made with cocoa and cream cheese and while heavy (which normally I wouldn’t like), this was moist and delicious.

So just a fun stop on the lunches of life.

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So many choices!

 

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And my personal Cupcake Wars cupcake!

Graue Mill

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What do you do when the week has been hot and humid and suddenly you have a beautiful, breezy day before you?

You put aside the deadlines that are ticking and get in the car and head out for an adventure.

I had read about Graue Mill, but had not seen it and wasn’t sure what it was all about (other than a mill). Not super close, but not miles away, I went to discover a new place. (After all, I had done well with the Lizzadro Museum and the American Writers Museum – what could go wrong?)

The Graue Mill and Museum is in a park in Oak Brook. The mill is the only working water grist mill in the United States, in Illinois or maybe it’s one of only two in Illinois. Wait, the only working grist mill in the Chicago area. (Sorry, that’s what I’ve read in different places – so not sure what’s what  not being super up on working mills.)- However, their brochure does say that they are  listed on the Illinois HIstoric Mechanical Engineering Landmarks, the only gristmill so designated on a national or local level.  So I do know that.

The mill was opened in 1852 by Frederik Graue, using water from nearby Salt Creek. One of the draws of the museum is that you can see the milling process in the process of milling … however, I did not see that. I’m sure it’s because I was there on a weekday and not that many people were around.. I did get an explanation of how it works. And I could’ve bought a bag of cornmeal or flour, but wasn’t sure I’d use it right away, so I didn’t. But it’s kind of great that you can.

The tour starts on the third floor where a lady explained the making-yarn-from-wool process which was very detailed and very interesting. I’ve seen demonstrations like this many times before, but she’s been doing it since 1992 (or something) and knew a lot of unique, informative details that I hadn’t heard before.

On the second floor, another lady showed me the loom which again, I’ve seen before, but the detail was interesting.

The basement of the building was an Underground Railroad stop.  Hideaways would stay at the mill until it was safe, then they would leave by boat down the creek – a tributary on the Des Plaines River – and eventually make it to the Great Lakes and cross to safety in Canada.

Visting the mill costs a few dollars. The grounds are pretty and contain a bridge to get across the creek and to the other side of the road to Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center. For somewhere to go on a beautiful afternoon – I would recommend it.

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The mill on a couldn’t-be-more-beautiful summer morning.

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Carding the wool

 

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The loom.
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Me – showing how they “ironed” ruffles into material.

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A very cool alphabet game.

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American Writer’s Museum

I heard about the American Writer’s Museum. Then I heard about it again and again. Then I saw it was voted one of the best 10 new museums in the WORLD! (The museum opened May of 2017.)

I made plans to go with a friend, but meanwhile the 16-year-old and I decided to see what it was all about.  She’s been reading a lot of classics lately and is somewhat interested in journalism (but not sure).  And we were looking for a 16th birthday trip – so we decided to check it out … and I plan to go back with my friend.

The museum is right on Michigan Avenue, and isn’t hard to find, but you kind of have to be looking for it. It’s located on the second floor of a several-story building and takes up just that one floor.

You get off the elevator and a friendly receptionist is there for you to pay the entrance fee. ($12.00  and $8.00 for students).

The entryway ceiling looks like this – (which might be a way to store the books in my house :))

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All the displays are interactive.

We started with a wall full of photographs that were taken by Art Shay – a photographer who took thousands of pictures – many of them of authors. On the opposite side of Shay’s exhibit were more photos – except these were covered in plexiglass which allowed visitors to write captions under the pictures. Mallory and I both had fun doing this.IMG_0079.jpg

 

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Mallory gets creative.

The next room had a timeline of authors – one side was more informational, but still with interactive displays. Opposite were descriptions of books. When you opened the display, there would be something inside which depicted the book or a song, or a video, etc.

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Timeline of American writing, starting back with Jefferson, Abigail Adams, Ben Franklin, etc.

 

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Another picture of the timeline.
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A display of Willa Cather’s characters – my dad always said she was the writer to read if I wanted to read great writing.

On the wall of doors – here’s a couple examples.

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The Gift of the Magi.

The video is behind the door of Fahrenheit 45l.

Then there was the wall of quotes from American literature —-

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Another fun exhibit was the favorite book interactive board – you chose your five favorite books by American authors. Meanwhile, the list on top scrolled through which ones were the favorites – changing by the minute as people voted. Next time I go, I’ll put in different books – that was difficult to do at a moment’s notice, but fun …

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And then Mallory and I got stuck … having so much fun. They have a table of old typewriters … ancient up to a computer (including an IBM selectric). You typed the beginning of a story and then the next person wrote the next part, etc.  Such a creative idea and interesting. They are planning on publishing some of the best stories. We went back several times to read what was happening to “our” stories.

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Mallory types her story.

After that were several interactive boards to create stories (think a touch screen of refrigerator magnets) and a touch screen of Mad Libs.

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Just thought this quote was funny.

We spent about two hours there, and decided that we both wanted to come back.

I definitely say this is a must for all my writer and reader friends.

 

A Hidden Gem (Make that Gems)

Being a curious person, I like seeing things I haven’t seen before and learning about things I didn’t know before.

Like lapidary.

Whenever I looked up things to do in the area the Lizzadro Lapidary Museum always popped up. I didn’t pay much attention. I wasn’t sure what it was and didn’t take the time to figure it out because something else would catch my eye.

But this weekend I read more about and it sounded interesting. I also read the reviews – mostly written by visitors who were five-star impressed.

First of all, who knew Elmhurst has become such a unique town with courtyards and restaurants and shops?

Second – if you don’t know, lapidary is creating art from stones, gems and minerals … or the person who does so.

Third – Mr. Lizzadro became interested in stones/gems/minerals as a young man. Part of that interest was generated in the Keewenaw Peninsula – (A place I know well because of camp. We have spent many hours roaming the small lakeside towns.) That’s where Mary Lizzadro was from and so the family spent a lot of time there. The Keweenaw juts out into Lake Superior and beautiful rocks wash up on the beaches. The peninsula is also known for its copper mines. Mr. Lizzadro got an entry level job with Meade Electric (a company still in existence) and rose to chairman of the board. In the process, he did well monetarily and began buying works of lapidary art. His collection eventually became the museum (opened in 1962) and it is still run by the family.

Fourth – this place has incredible art. I can’t even imagine how some of these pieces were done. The intricacy is mind-boggling.

We also had a fun chat with the friendly security guard.

I want to go back again with my good camera (not just my phone).

If you’re looking for something to do on a summer afternoon, I would suggest Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art. BUT! Warning – if you put the museum on your next summer’s to-do list – they are moving to Oak Brook and the move will take two or three months and  the museum will be closed. (Can you imagine moving hundreds of mega-valuable, ancient pieces of fragile stone/gems?) So go now while the going’s good or take the time to check out if they’re in transition before making the drive.

I will post pictures according to type.

The Dioramas

The figures in the dioramas were carved in Idar-Oberstein, Germany. The backgrounds were painted right in Elmhurst in the 70s, 80s and 90s. The figures were displayed in scenes to specifically entertain the children who visit. (Many school classes come on field trips.)

Here are a few of the dioramas:IMG_0022.jpg

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The Mosaics

I was amazed – these were made between 1780 and 1850. They look like paintings but are actually thousands of pieces of glass precisely cut to fit together to form a picture.

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IMG_0040One of my favorites –

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Then we have the butterfly out of petrified wood.

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Henry the IV out of ivoryIMG_0030.jpg

The Puzzle Ball – 24 separate spheres carved inside what was once a solid piece of ivory.

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You can’t get much smaller than this – think slightly bigger than an egg.

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And the star of the show – the Lizzadro Castle – created in 1984 for the grandson of the founder. From their website – a descriptions: On a large slab of Brazilian agate, the 18K gold castle rises from specimens of amethyst, malachite, azurite, and vanadium. Faceted diamonds sparkle in the windows, giving the appearance of an occupied residence, ready to welcome weary travelers. (I did not get a good picture because of all the reflection.)IMG_0042.jpg

Go. Spend an afternoon. Learn some fascinating facts about lapidary.

New Restaurant. Nu-Crepes.

I like crepes.

I have a crepe maker in which I’ve made many crepes … and had people at our house indulge too (sundae crepes – yay!)

I have been to several crepe restaurants. Some good. Some not so good. (Right, Cindy Vesperman? I think I still have the taste of the Santa Barbara crepe stuck in my mouth!)

Today I tried a new crepe restaurant with the catchy name of  Nu-Crepes. The place had several reviews. Most of them 4 or 5 star. Seemed promising. A few of the reviewers did say it was difficult to find.

And it was. Sort of. The GPS told us we were there, but we didn’t see it anywhere. So we parked and walked and the GPS still told us we were there and we didn’t see it.

Then we noticed a passageway that reminded me of a Scottish close that looked promising (and rather pretty)!

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Several signs said Nu-Crepes and pointed down, but it wasn’t until we got to the end that we actually saw a door we could enter.

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And once we got inside – we did go down … to the basement/lower level.

You order the crepes at a counter and get a buzzer (think Panera). The lady taking the orders was friendly and helpful when I asked what was good.

We waited about seven minutes and got our crepes. I ordered the Cali – avocado, mozzarella, turkey, ham, bacon, spinach.  My dish came with apple slaw – apples, lime cilantro, celery, arugula.

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Delicious. Crepe was too large to eat in one sitting so I brought half home.

As we were getting ready to leave, one of the line cooks looked up, said a friendly good-bye and invited us to come again.

I would recommend this place. I would also go again if I were in the area.

Fun experience.