Monday, January 16, 2012

A Not So Windy Day, A Train Ride, and A Museum

Hello Readers!

Yesterday my mom and I drove to Bloomington and took the Amtrack to Chicago for a fun day in the city. I've taken the Amtrack once before, to go from Penn Station in NYC to Baltimore in a blizzard, but this was my first time on the Amtrak to Chicago. On the way up I read a wonderful book by Lauren Winner, Mudhouse Sabbath. It was the perfect length for the trip, and the perfect size! It fit neatly at the bottom of my purse, making it a great book to accompany me on a journey such as this.

Mudhouse Sabbath: a fast read that I'm sure to revisit!

Our first destination in the city was lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe on Michigan Avenue- one of my favorite places to dine in the city. We were seated promptly, but our server was inattentive and rude. He never refilled our drinks (water and diet coke) but strangely offered to refill my hot chocolate, which I'm quite certain is not a free-refill beverage. He also forgot to bring out the bread until after the salad arrived, and then offered the bread as if it was a special favor, because our sandwiches were taking so long. Wrong.

The only redeeming part of lunch, aside from spending time with my mom!

Overall, lunch was barely mediocre. My hot chocolate was delicious, but my chicken salad sandwich was drowning in mayo- gross. When I chose that restaurant for lunch, I hoped for an experience as positive as my experiences with the restaurant in the past.

After lunch my mom and I returned a few things at Anthropologie and Bloomingdales on Michigan Avenue. After walking out of Bloomingdales my mom remarked that we didn't buy any clothing on our trip! What? Yes. We didn't find anything that struck our fancy. And we were fine with that. So were our wallets.
Lilac Headband: J.Crew, White Scarf: Target,  Greyish Brown Izzy Coat: Tahari,  Jeans: Martin+Osa, Boots: Anne Klein, Photo: Anthropologie Fitting Room

We caught a taxi in front of The Drake hotel, thanks to two friendly employees at the cab stand flagged down a taxi for us that took us the the Chicago History Museum to see a wonderful exhibit featuring gowns and dresses created by the late American couture designer Charles James.

I must confess I was unfamiliar with James until a few weeks ago but I am amazed by his art and fascinated by his story. He was a troubled genius who approached fashion design and construction in perplexing and original ways. Below are a few examples of his work that were featured at the museum (found via google because photos were not permitted in the exhibit):
The Clover: silk satin and silk taffeta ,c.1950
The Swan: silk chiffon, silk and nylon tulle, c. 1954
The Swan is amazing!
La Sirene: silk crepe, satin-backed lining, c. 1941
The Day Dress: another version of this dress was worn by Angelina Jolie in The Tourist: wool crepe, c. 1951
A reproduced, dissected interactive reconstruction of James' "Evening Dress." You can touch, feel, and see James' "Z-cut" draping- a technique developed by James (according to the exhibit)
The exhibit is on display until April 16th- you should go! After being wowed by Charles James' creations my mom and I walked through the museum. We learned about the Great Chicago Fire, locomotives, suffrage, civil rights, and so much more. We even learned why Chicago is called Chicago (*hint* it has something to do with wild leeks).

Hanging out with the suffragettes
You know, just paddleboating in Lincoln Park...
Swan Love!
Let's go to the beach! 
Creative Ironwork
School & Society by John Dewey!
John Dewey. Chicago School. Cool stuff- look it up!

After finishing our visit to the museum, my mom and I walked around a bit in search of a Diet Coke, hailed a cab, and went back to Union Station to wait for our train. The ride back was fun. My mom and I visited the train's cafe, chatted, and went back to our seats where we chatted and mostly relaxed except for the few minutes that a fellow passenger blasted their mp3 player for all to hear. Two and a half hours after our departure we arrived safely back in Bloomington and an hour later we arrived safely in our driveway.

What a fun day!

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