The spirit of the season is out there I

The season of sparkle and magic is once again here. Tis the season of gift giving to be sure.

I would like to share some ideas to help you find a unique, special gift for the special people in your life. I always find unique gifts for my close friends. To me, it’s more than just a gift: I am sending warm wishes to them.

Also, the following gifts are not only good for the holidays, but great for the whole year.

Your Home State is Calling

Do you have a special connection with your home state, as well as where you currently live? I have a strong connection with my home state – Florida, with tons of wonderful memories there. I now live in Chicago and love it there, too.

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What states are special to you?

The distance from Jacksonville, Florida to Chicago is 863 miles by air and 1,061 miles by road. But real friendship is not affected due to distance and time. I know because this is part of my story. I met one of my close friends in Jacksonville many years ago, when I lived there. This person has always helped me a lot and still does today. I now live in Chicago, but we still have close contact. We live in different cities but still share moments together: happy or funny, sad or upset. My friend always encourages, helps and supports me, and sees that I am growing. I know that while time rolls on, authentic friends remain with me, and true friendships grows stronger over time.

Words of thanks for this special friendship are not enough, so I helped to create this piece of art as a gift specifically designed by me. I chose the two states connecting me – Florida and Illinois – and told the artist the specific cities – Jacksonville and Chicago – and how I want to link those two cities. I chose the white shadowbox wood frame, then the store staff framed this for me, and I gave this to my Jacksonville friend.

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From Florida to Illinois, time and distance prove real friendship. 

This framed design tells our story of friendship, and even better, shows the love we both have of Florida. We are Floridians, we love Florida, and we have lots wonderful memories there.

If you are like me and feel a special bond with two states, you can create a similar map to tell your story. Trust me, this “States in Love” piece makes for the perfect gift – and it’s great for yourself, too!

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Let the “States in love” pieces tell your story.

 

The store creating this art – called FourSided – is one of my favorite stores in Chicago. It is a local small business and you can find special and unique gifts there. Other than this “states in love” puzzle piece, they have a lot of unique cards, posters and prints, framing and fun ideas. Good for your home decoration, too. The store also has cute decorations, a lot of balloons floating, and other ideas to show happiness.

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 Up, up, and away…..

Stop here and discover Foursided, a must stop for your holiday/occasion needs.

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Address: 2939 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60657

A Floridian experiences her first blizzard

“Snow? What? Wow, it is too COLD!

I am thankful that I live in Florida!”

It is a Floridian’s first reaction if the temperature falls below 50 degrees and you hear of snow. As you know, I am a Floridian but now living in Chicago. The magic thing is that I never thought about how I would survive in the cold winter here. But I have survived. Living with the long winter in Chicago was a tough challenge for me at first, but fortunately I adjusted to it fast. Looking back, making the decision to move here to start a new adventure was so brave!

thumbnail_IMG_0171Today, I would like to share a Floridian’s perspective of snow based on my first blizzard in Chicago.

It is rare for me to see snow. I had never seen snow until I moved to Chicago. The blizzard is a new experience. I knew there would be a blizzard Sunday night to Monday morning, I was truly excited. I immediately texted my close friends in Florida and told them “Tonight we’ll have a blizzard in Chicago, the first blizzard in my life with forecast of 13 inches.” My many Floridan friends replied: “Wow, that is cold!” So now you know a Floridian’s first reaction when hearing of so much snow! Ha!

The night of the blizzard, I woke up many times to see look outside the window. I didn’t want to miss any part of my first blizzard. Monday morning, I woke up, went to the balcony and felt the blizzard in person, listening to the sound of heavy wind and snow. I saw white anywhere. Wow! I was very excited and recorded this great experience via video, taking many great snow photos, then shared them with my friends in Florida. I was proud to tell them: It is my first blizzard!

thumbnail_IMG_0172Although my first blizzard was not as big as what I expected – we did not get 13 inches – I still enjoyed seeing the snow and feel lucky to witness the first blizzard history in life.

You might be a Chicagoan or come from other cold areas, so you are used to seeing snow or experiencing a blizzard. Maybe you hate snow and laugh at me. As a Floridian, I always think it is a wonderful experience in the crazy snow world. I love to walk on the soft snow, leaving my footprints. I think the snow looks like white marshmallows. We never see such marshmallows on trees and chairs in Florida. So this is a fortunate experience.  

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I still consider myself a traditional Floridian, not a Chicagoan, but I enjoy writing stories in this unique new town, too. It is really cold for us. We are not used to wearing gloves, hats, scarves and heavy coats all the time. I like to wear sandals to go to beach, listen to the sound of the ocean, walk into the sand and water, feel  the sunshine. I think Florida beaches are amazing.

Now it is time for me to visit my sweet home – Florida. The sunshine, ocean, beach, blue sky and warm temperature are calling me. But most importantly, my “best family members” are calling. My next adventure will be at home… I can’t wait! It will be a fantastic story about a Floridian back home again. Stay Tuned!

Ice Cream is Never Too Cold in a Winter Wonderland

A cold treat in cold weather?

Yes, the combination has a way of shaking things up and inspiring the soul. Ice cream and hot chocolate are my necessities in a winter wonderland. Most people love to eat ice cream in summer, but I am obsessed with ice cream, so I think eating it in the cold of winter is a great idea. To start, ice cream in winter won’t melt. What other reasons can you think of to enjoy ice cream in winter? And what flavors? I would love to hear them.

For now, let me show you some sweet flavors I’ve discovered.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams: simple is the BEST

I am a super fan of this special place, especially its wildberry lavender flavor – and an extra scoop in a waffle cone is the BEST. After my first couple of bites, I fell in love with this flavor. It is very soft and creamy with a faint aroma, and it melts in my mouth. It is SO GOOD ! It is very different from traditional ice cream, so eating Jeni’s ice creams – and the waffle cones — always provides a wonderful new experience.

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Jeni’s Ice Cream. Address: 1505 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Each flavor here is great on its own, but better when you combine flavors. Sometimes I will combine strawberry buttermilk, frose sorbet and supermoon…..But I almost always must have wildberry lavender, either on its own or combined with another flavor. Then I go outside, feel the frozen temperature and enjoy the ice cream. If it is snowing, it is an even cooler adventure and has brought back childhood memories.

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You can’t buy me love, but you can buy me wildberry lavender scoop in a waffle cone

Mini Mott: Taiyaki is swimming its way into my heart  

Taiyaki is a Japanese street treat, a fish-shaped cake (see photo). It is a dessert lover’s favorite type of fish. You don’t need to go Japan to find it. You can find a Taiyaki cone in the Windy City now, though I’ve found it only in one place: Mini Mott.

I recommend BELGIAN CHOCOLATE topped with nutty crushed black sesame seeds, creating earthy flavors that will melt in your mouth. It is great swirled into a seasonal flavor or on its own. I can’t say NO to it.

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Address:3057 W Logan Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647

Winter is a great time to try it because the ice cream won’t melt like it does in summer. By the way, where is summer? No worries. You will enjoy Taiyaki in winter even better. This ice cream will swim its way into your heart.  

Fancy Churro ice cream in Winter: Bodega

Wow, this churro combines different ice cream flavors with different toppings. It is large, fancy and delicious. One option is churro soft serve ice cream with fruity pebbles, sprinkles and gummy bears. It is like a unicorn feast for your eyes. Now they have an apple pie a la mode churro cone, a nice switch.(Address:355 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654)

Fancy Churro ice cream lights up the cold winter and gives you a little fire. Don’t be afraid of the cold and then feel like you missed out. Let the churro cones warm you. 

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I am awakened in winter due to this fancy churro ice cream.

So you can’t wait to try these special sweet treats already? Any time of the year is perfect for ice cream, but eating it in cold weather is a special treat. It won’t melt and drip everywhere, and it’s a great reminder of the simple but wonderful things in life. Don’t let the cold weather stop you from eating ice cream. Now it’s the time to try it – GO GO GO!  

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Begin your Windy City book adventure here

We all have busy lives. We are blinded by a lot of complicated things, such as work, stress, commitments, and the constant interruption of technology. Sometimes we need to escape the noise, get off our feet, find a place to sit down and collect our thoughts, especially in a large city. What is one great option to help you relax? Sometimes, it is reading. Immersing yourself in the journey of a book can give you a fresh perspective and renewed energy to face the world.

Strange things start in a WiFi-Free Zone

Who says you must go far for adventure? Are you looking for an unusual twist to your daily life? Allow me to share one of my secret spots in the Windy City: Kibbitznest Books, Brews & Blarney (Address: 2212 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago IL 60614). It’s a great change of pace when you want a little quiet time to escape the noise and bustle of the city.

Can you imagine being surrounded by books and without a phone or laptop, and without WiFi? Most people think they’ll die without some form of technology at their fingertips. I am not an obsessive book lover, but I do enjoy settling here at times, and this place has become  my secret spot when I want to experience peace and a little alone time. It feels strange to spend time in a WiFi-free zone. It encourages people to stop using their electric devices and instead focus on face-to-face communication. Today, it is hard to imagine life without WiFi and technology. But Kibbitznest is just such a place, a room full of books, newspapers, games, mini typewriters and music – a place to enjoy a simpler life. I read books at the Nest, and I actually use a real typewriter to compose little letters.

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Time stops for me here.

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The décor here is full of wooden bookshelves surrounding modern sofas and seating areas, with vintage style accent pieces such as world globes, old signs and bar stools. It is a wonderful spot to sit, unplug your phone and simply read in peace, sipping hot tea. Here, I find balance between a busy life and inner peace.

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Today, we hold so many conversations through texting, email or social media, but how long has it been since you had a deep conversation with someone face to face? This is a perfect place to invite them to join you in putting down your phones and laptops, and spend some time playing games, listening to music, laughing and talking. Even better, this place regularly hosts live music and book discussions, great opportunities to hang out, listen to talented people, share opinions and immerse yourself in things that feel real.

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It is not only a fantastic place to escape a busy life, but also to escape the chilly winter in the Windy City. This place reminds me that the best human communication in life is face to face, with lovers, family and friends.

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Enjoy game time with someone, laugh freely.

Books, books and more books, please! Take a break, enjoy a WiFi-free book adventure. You’ll find a little magic in your heart.

Get on board the Matcha Train

I love and enjoy coffee, but sometimes I want to change my routine. In these cases, I reach for matcha.

What is Matcha? Wikipedia defines matcha as a “finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea leaves. It is special in two aspects of farming and processing: the green tea plants are shade-grown for about three weeks before harvest and the stems and veins are removed in processing.

Matcha is easy on the eyes, calms and relaxes the mind, but also boosts metabolism and detoxifies, and it is nutritious. Now, take a matcha train with me: explore and try something new and green.

You can’t go wrong with anything at Easthill Tea Co.

Tea is sexy, but I think matcha is sexier. My favorite place to drink matcha in the windy city is the Easthill Tea Co. The reason is simple: their lavender matcha latte is made with macadamia milk, which is like mixing a little heaven into your drink. When you sip it, you will feel it smooth and creamy, not bitter. Most importantly, it is not super sweet, but rather gently sweet and soft. The sweetness ratio is perfect. A good matcha drink will make your mouth feel soft and clean, with just the right amount of sweetness. The choice of milk is very important, and I don’t know that alternative milks work nearly as well. I like the macadamia milk the best because it moderates the drink, and provides a slight nutty taste, making the matcha drink softer. And I love the look of the powered green tea.

Can you imagine a lavender and matcha combo? It is unusual, but this combination stands out. Try it! Hot or iced, it’s good!

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Also, don’t miss their cute animal matcha donuts. They bring back memories of my childhood. Now I am grown, they transport me to new places and adventures. It is a simple happiness. It makes my heart and stomach happy.

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Which animal do you like? Pick your favorite!
Address: 1816 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago IL 60647

“A big green apple” does nothing but makes your gray mood disappear

If you live in Chicago, I bet you know Sawada Coffee (Matcha). As I mentioned in my previous post (“Rise and Grind”), they have an excellent military and black camo latte. But you simply should not miss their green tea latte. I like to ask them to make a big heart in it, which look like a green apple. It fuels my gray day. Drinking sweet green tea latte in winter is not the worst thing. A note: this green tea latte is made with regular milk, and it tastes sweeter than others.

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Address: 112 N Green St, Chicago IL 60607

 

Almond milk matcha makes my heart sing: Pierrot Gourmet

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Here, I usually ask them to use almond milk in my matcha. When you sip it, you can feel and smell a strong almond flavor, tender and rich in your mouth. It fills you with warmth on a chilly day and warms my hands. Matcha macaron is a perfect match also. 

More matcha, please!

I have a thing for ice cream. I have a thing for soft serve. And I have a thing for matcha. So I had to have a Matcha soft-serve ice cream at Mitsuwa Marketplace in suburban Arlington Heights. The fresh texture melts my heart and cools me down in the summer. Not many places in the city have soft serve, but I heard there will be a new matcha soft-serve ice cream store coming soon to Wicker Park. I can’t wait to try it.

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Matcha cha cha our way, matcha latte, matcha ice cream, matcha macaron, matcha cake …… Hey! It is time to take a matcha train to start your day!

I left my heart in Pueblo

People and community give a place its vitality and special character. This is certainly true of New Mexico. It is not only the home of scenic beauty and creatures, but also the home to many Native Americans, and this area rightfully celebrates their rich cultures and history. When I am in New Mexico, my heart lies within the adobe houses made by the indigenous people. I enjoy exploring the way Native Americans have lived there, finding many lessons from adobe houses and cultures. It makes me want to explore these cultures further. I will try to explain why this land calls to me. 

Bandelier climbed its way into my heart.  

I take a trip to Bandelier National Monument. My curious mind takes me here to explore the ancestral Pueblo dwellings, to feel the way they were constructed and used. I notice many unique holes in the mountains. I wonder if these holes are entrances to homes of indigenous people? Yes! It adds a sense of mystery to this beautiful landscape.

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Hanging out in cliff dwellings is a beautiful thing. 

I am very excited to see ladders in the mountains, ladders that take me not only up, but back into history. It is an impressive adventure for me to climb 4 wooden ladders to the alcove house, 140 feet above the canyon floor. It is raining heavily and quite chilly, my hands are cold and almost numb, but I make the climb. The cold weather and great height do not scare me. When I reach the cave, I now see first-hand how Pueblo people lived and experienced their life so long ago. It is an amazing history lesson, hike and climb. I realize that for me this is the true New Mexico.

Climb the Bandelier, not so the ancient Pueblo people can see you, but so you can see them.       

Don’t miss: Let your feet wander!  

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Would you climb this ladder I did – in the rain and cold?

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Taos Pueblo: deep in my heart.  

“Each time I leave here it is like a death and each time that I return it is a birth”—Georgia O’ Keeffe 

I can’t agree more, it says what is in my heart.  

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This is not the place of my birth, but I feel a deep sense of connection and belonging. 

Ancient pueblos were constructed by the Native American tribe of Pueblo people, one of the world’s longest continuously inhabited communities. It is a special place for me, not only the adobe-style homes that I love, but also because I can see and imagine an ancient life that seems fantastic to me. 

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Taos Pueblo, New Mexico tells a good story. 

I am lucky to see snow at the adobe homes, snow that stays on the ladders and the roofs of the adobe houses, some with blue-colored doors, making this place more beautiful. I don’t why, but when I see glimpses into daily life here, the dogs roaming the area, the few remaining people still living here, shoveling snow and praying in church, my heart feels very warm. I know it is home for them, a simple and blessed life.

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My heart lives here.  

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Some views never get old: San Geronimo Church.  

Much time has passed since these homes were constructed. They are over 1,000 years old. All that time, these dwellings and this community have been given love and care to stand the test of time. Love makes a house a home. it is true. Yes, it is an old and small town, but it is full of love. Can you feel it? If not, go there and experience it yourself. This love inspires me to bring some of their handmade crafts back to my own home. 

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I’m trying to figure out how to get back to Taos ASAP. I miss it already.

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Bring home handmade pottery celebrating this native heritage. 

Don’t’ miss: Spend time on listening to the native people share their story. And try the fresh food made onsite.   

Fall in a desert diamond: Santa Fe 

What are your thoughts when diverse arts and a rich culture meet adobe architecture? It really gives Santa Fe its charm, a place in a league of its own. I stop shooting photos as a tourist and begin shooting what I feel, not just what I see. I feel this place’s vibrant colors, vitality and magic. The street artists share an artistic spirit, and it calls to me.

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Santa Fe is in a league of its own.  

Visit the wonderful art galleries and historic buildings with vast numbers of shops full of handmade art. Discover so many different giant paintings, antiques, potteries, jewelry and vintage art from around the world, much of which you will not find anywhere else in the world. I am in an artistic ocean.

 

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A lot of galleries showcase local art.  

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Art spirits are around me. I am forever exploring.

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Local artisans sell their handicrafts under this portico in the square.  

 

I would happily move here to nearly any corner of this city. Santa Fe is like a diamond: it sparkles in the desert as an incredible charm.  

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Santa Fe shows off my new favorite color.  

Don’t miss: Stop taking photos long enough to immerse yourself and absorb this artistic environment. If you can, visit Santa Fe at Christmas. The luminarias light the whole city and it is magical.

Nothing is better than the experiences found through travel. It exposes your body, mind and spirit to new places and allows you to discover new beauty in so many ways. This is true of New Mexico: the home to amazing landscapes, natural forces, beautiful creatures, fantastic art and many Native Americans.

This place calls to my body and my spirit. It truly is the Land of Enchantment!

The Land of Enchantment: it won’t disappoint you.

New Mexico calls itself the Land of Enchantment. This motto intrigued me the first time I read it. I was very curious and deeply wanted to explore this mysterious place.

My thoughts of this land before visiting: Desert, Cactus, Dry, Camel Color, Wild, Murals, Almost Mexico, Chile Ristras. But why is it the Land of Enchantment? I would not know until I visited and explored. So I did! Now, follow me, and find the answer with me in this adventure.

The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it…

Most people are not familiar with New Mexico, but you might know of White Sands National Monument. I knew this place would be beautiful. Many people select it for their wedding photos. Until I actually saw it for myself, I had never experienced anything like it.

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White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

All glittering white sands are around me, it is better than a white winter wonderland. I climb to the top of the gypsum sand dunes and look quite far, but cannot see anyone, just the white sands, mountains and sky. I run fast on the white sands with different slopes, I feel alive, my brain empty of thought. The sand and its stillness surround me, and my whole soul feels free.

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thumbnail_IMG_9727I’ve fallen in love with the sunsets here. Can you imagine a soft sunset color, with unique plants and mountains, along with the white sands, all on the same horizon? I am immersed in it, feel the charm of nature, smell the wind, listen to the heartbeat of nature here, wait to see the sunset, take a deep breath, and appreciate this very moment. I close my eyes, and I am now part of the white sands.

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Don’t miss: Sunset Tour at White Sands—Chase the sunset through the golden hour and enjoy the precious moment.

The moment when nature becomes home.

I never imagined that nature can become home, till I met you: Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks.

I am a natural and outdoor lover, and this hike was a profound experience to me. I hiked through the tent rocks, it reminds me of Antelope and Bryce Canyon (Utah). It was a bit harder to hike due to the inclines. I turn, looking up, and see the best perspective: unique rock structures and natural skylights. When I hike to the top, I can see the variation in height of white cone-shaped rocks, and I feel the wonder of nature. The breathtaking New Mexico landscapes and these natural, white tent-like structure look like homes to me, seemingly waiting for someone to move in to live. They have stolen my heart.

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There is no place like this: a natural white colored home 

 

Life is like an echo. I shout loudly, and I hear my sound repeat back to me clearly. When I am at the top of a climb, I feel as much as I see. Now I know why New Mexico is the Land of Enchantment: mysterious natural wonders in nature, combined with a rich cultural history in the surrounding area. It creates a special feeling inside me. It makes me think: my ideal wedding place will be in the white mountains, maybe here.

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The amazing New Mexico landscape is home to mysterious things in nature.

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Don’t’ forget to look up when you hike, the skylight is real, and you don’t need any filter.

Don’t miss: Say YES to the harder hike. New Mexico Rocks!

It is just a visit place for you, but for bats it is home: Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

The first sentence of an introductory video at this park touches my heart. I think that it makes sense that aliens or space creatures might have visited New Mexico, as some people believe, because it probably looks and feels a lot like home on an alien world.

Now journey with me more than 750 feet underground. It will be a cool adventure, and this place makes me feel incredibly small again. I follow the cave explorer Jim White’s footsteps. I walk into the darkness and wander through the Earth’s enormous, cold, damp, spiky belly, exploring the marvels in the cavern. I cannot believe my eyes: this place does not look real. I see a variety of spectacular cave formations. The water reflects the surreal formations like a mirror, the inverted image like a strange but beautiful wonderland.

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Pictures never do justice

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The Land of Enchantment’s underworld

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Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

The most exciting moment for me is to see thousands of bats flying out of a cave, off into the night sky. It is a wonderful experience. My eyes follow them in flight, and I can almost feel their speed. The creatures are marvelous, small and cute, with powerful navigation and flying skills. l think myself similar to the bats: small but not weak, and like bats, I love to fly about and experience adventures in the dark. Their amazing flight blew my mind!

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 Sitting at the mouth of the cavern to watch the bats fly.

Don’t miss: Bat flights program (late May through October); King’s Palace Tour. If you haven’t been there, you need to visit. Trust me!

The magical sights of New Mexico touch my soul and speak to my heart. Now I know: this home of so many stunning and splendid sights and creatures is truly the Land of Enchantment. 

Rise & Grind

With each new day comes new possibilities – and new cups of coffee.

I am a coffee lover. I like the latte art, I cannot lie. I like to visit a cozy coffee shop to smell the coffee beans, listen to the sound of beans grinding, watch people come to buy coffee and then go again, take a coffee photo, and enjoy a cup of coffee before starting my next adventure.

One of my favorite parts of the windy city is to explore all the coffee shops and try new cups of coffee, no matter the weather outside. Now, embark on a coffee journey with me. Take your time to sip the coffee, finding new possibilities and memories in life.

Time stops when I am with you: Heritage Bicycle General Store

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Lavender Latte (Signature Latte)

I can’t recommend this place enough. It is definitely my favorite coffee shop in Chicago. Usually, if I don’t have any ideas of where to go or explore, or I don’t have a special activity on a Sunday morning, I will go there to grab a cup. Two American flags hanging on the door caught my eyes the first time I stopped here. You can find bicycles everywhere in the store, with white color decor and mirrors. I usually order a cup of lavender latte, or a cup of vanilla latte, then I’ll sit on the corner with the bicycle decor and little plants, and enjoy my time.

Because it is a bicycle maintenance store, you can listen to the sound of wheels rolling. It reminds me of sitting on the back of my father’s bicycle when he would take me to school and pick me up. My words for Bikes + Coffee = Happiness. 

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Address: 2959 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago IL 60657

 

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Two cool heritage outposts: 1325 W Wilson Ave, Chicago IL 60640; 1020 W Lawrence Ave, Chicago IL 60640

 

Addicted to Caffeine and Matcha: Sawada Coffee

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Military Latte

This is my second favorite coffee place in town, especially its military latte and black camo latte, as I’m addicted. When you first sip, you can feel the green tea flavor, then the espresso flavor follows. You can take a photo of the pretty art within the cup, so focused on it that you miss the special flavor at first, but then it steals your heart. It makes you want to come back again.

I must say, the black camo latte won’t leave you disappointed. I like the dot on the brown latte color because it sparks my imagination. The best part are the accent lights strung high against the dark exposed beams below the ceiling of the coffee shop. It creates a relaxing mood during our busy life. 

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Address: 112 N Green St, Chicago IL 60607

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Green Tea Latte@Sawada Match: Address:4908, 226 W Kinzie St. Chicago, IL 60654

C.C. Ferns  brings alive the beauty and magic of old school vintage. Choose a cup of Cortado, sit amidst the dark and vintage decor, choose an old couch, read a book, or even do a little work there.

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All you need is coffee, please pick-me-up : Bodega

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Address: 355 N Clark St, Chicago IL 60654

If you are like me, you enjoy the cute messages and images within coffee. This must be the place. I usually have a cup of cappuccino there. The nice coffee images help to express your words to others, maybe even your special secrets.  Don’t forget to try their churros, along with a cup of cute coffee.

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Address:@Bombobar: 832 W Randolph, Chicago IL 60607

Where will your coffee adventures take you next? Here are some other options, each featuring unique special coffee to try. 

My Latte Just Went Viral: Big Shoulders Coffee

I usually come here to grab marshmallow latte on a rainy or snowy day, as just a cute marshmallow makes me feel warm and happy. Also, there’s a big Chicago map on the wall, so you can see all the street names, and maybe it inspires you to explore a new place.

thumbnail_IMG_8230Sip on galaxy: Limitless Coffee & Tea

The coffee here is too pretty to drink. If you want a photo to stand out on your Instagram, come here. Have a cup of charcoal latte, with beautiful mixed colors. Can  you imagine sipping on a star-filled galaxy? Try it.

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Address:  217 N Green St, Chicago IL 60607

Mornings are for coffee and contemplation: Werewolf Coffee Bar

Who says you can’t drink pink? Here, you can find the sweetbeet latte, topped with edible glitter (rose petals are optional). It will give you heart eyes for sure.The pretty coffee is served from a refurbished coffee truck. Cozy up with a caffeine kick to get you through the day.

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 Address: 1765 N Elston Ave, Chicago IL 60642

What a Turkish Delight: Oromo Café

Sometimes you should try coffees from different countries. Have you ever tried Turkish coffee? For a new flavor, visit Oromo Café at Lincoln Square. What do you think about getting a cup of Turkish coffee and a pistachio & rose Turkish delight? You might just love this new coffee. (Address: 4703 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago IL 60625)

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Romantic with Lavender (Purple): First Sip Café at Uptown

They have endless options for tea and coffee flavoring here. It won’t disappoint you. But I fall in love with Manila Fog when I ordered the first time, all the lavender (purple) color. It tastes so good, too. What’s your favorite color? Maybe your favorite color will be on your next coffee? 

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Address: 1057 W Argyle St, Chicago, IL 60640

Unique, exciting sporting experience: Dropshot Coffee & Snack Bar

Are you a tennis super fan? Do you want to find a tennis tournament? Are you chasing unique theme coffee shops? Take a photo here and post to Instagram, and you’ll get an audience. This is a tennis-themed location, and it’s fun to see all the cool tennis items here, even for a non tennis fan. You will have a unique classic American sports experience. 

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Address: 312 W Chestnut St, Chicago, IL 60622

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The coffee shops I mentioned above are just small part of what’s available in the windy city, but there are many more. I hope this journey of coffee gives you a guide for the coffee lover in you. Now I’m off to visit an Italian coffee: Caffe Umbria… Hmmm, can’t wait to try it.

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Which a cup of coffee fit your personal style? Take an adventure with a cup of coffee, give your body some fuel and some inspiration to your work and life, so many more new possibilities to come.

Cheers to coffee filled days!

It’s the little moments that make life BIG

Chicago: City of Murals

Often, it’s the little moments that make life BIG – so open your eyes.

As you know, I am a Floridian. I came from the Sunshine State, then moved to Chicago to start a new adventure. People often are asked about their most interesting places to enjoy in their spare time. Some people say Chicago’s winter is too crazy, Yes, you are right, especially for a traditional Floridian. Still, the city has some great places I will share with you, to make you feel warm when you are in Chicago, especially in crazy winter time.

I am a model and photographer, too. I think a photo is beautiful not only because of a beautiful background and person in the photo, but also because of the spirit of the image.

A great example of this are the murals of a city. Sometimes they can help you to create a special photo and express the spirit to your audience. Chicago is famous for art. I am not a professional for art, but I think I am a professional for street art/murals. I have eyes for finding some interesting and beautiful places. I would like to share some of my favorite murals/street art to you. Chicago has many great murals, just a small part of the city, but they tell a truth. I am always happy to stop and take photos of them, again and again, then leave that place. I have a special feeling for them.   

Wicker Park (Buck Town) is my favorite neighborhood in Chicago, and most of my favorite murals are there. Journey with me there now to check out these wonderful images of art.

LIFE MINIATURE

It is like us in miniature. Grab your camera, take the train and walk around different neighborhoods to record different and interesting stories around us. It is my regular life, maybe your life, too.

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Address: 1651 W North Ave, Chicago IL 60622

HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS

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 Address: 90 Miles Cuban Café. 2540 W Armitage Ave, Chicago IL 60647

As a Floridian in Chicago, I enjoy writing lots of interesting stories about my new town. I always feel that Florida is not too far from me. We still connect each other and feel very close. Can you imagine when you find a familiar thing from your home in your current city? It is exciting and fantastic, and it brings back a lot wonderful memories. It helps to feel very close to your sweet home. 

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LOVE IS IN THE AIR

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Address: @Properties at Bucktown.    1875 N Damen Ave, Chicago IL 60622

Colorful backgrounds make you feel sweet and warm, particularly in summer time. This place will change murals regularly, but always around the theme of LOVE. They just change the color. 

BE MORE CREATIVE 

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Address: LOW RES STUDIO:1821 W Hubbard St. #203, Chicago IL 60622

Are you a creative person? Are you a photographer? If so, you will like local a creative agency—LOW RES STUDIO. A lot of creative people and photographers live around there, and they share creative ideas. I like the area decor so much. A lot of cool stuff is on the walls, expressing the message of Chicago. I strongly recommend that you attend their events. Open your eyes and enjoy the creative life around us.

(Tips: Please follow their Instagram and website at http://www.lowresstudio.com to learn about their events. You will enjoy their creative events so much.)

WHERE TO NEXT?

Pizza Queen will take you to fly away. Although I am not a super fan of the pizza, I still like this cute pizza background so much. It gives me wings so I can fly and explore around the world.

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 Address: Parlor Pizza Bar West Loop      108 N Green St,  Chicago, IL 60607

Kindness is _____?

What are your words?

For me, I think kindness is to have a thankful heart, and appreciate all the little moments in your life.

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Address: Left Coast: 2878 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

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Address1813 N Milwakuee Ave, Chicago IL 60647

This is my dream neighborhood. People get together, share and help each other. I visited during heavy snow and there was a dog in the photo, and I felt very warm when I saw it.

By the way, I have explored murals all over town, including places like the loop (Chicago downtown), Pilsen, Logan Square, Lakeview and many others. Also, I like greetings from Chicago murals, flamingo mural, leaf mural, heart mural……Chicago really flourishes in art, street art, murals. What an amazing city for art!

Beautiful murals are everywhere. It does depend on your attitude in life, and if you are photographic and have eyes for beautiful things. Although some murals are in alleys, I still love to explore and discover them, and use my camera to capture them, making a great personal story.

If you want address information for more murals in Chicago, please follow my Instagram (@stephy320) or send me a message. I will provide more details to take you to discover small but very interesting things. I am a professional mural lover —NO PROBLEM!.

Now, I would like to share my favorite quote with you. It’s from one of my best friends:

Life is a journey, that it does not always have a map;

Happiness is not a destination, but a road trip.

So, please open your eyes, find out the beautiful things around you in life. It is the little moments make life big and happy. 

Happy mural hunting!

NEVER STOP EXPLORING

Stephy’s secret spot in Chicago, IL

Today I want to open my heart and share my secret spot with you. Sharing this secret spot is how I want to start my new blog.

If you are in Chicago, or if you travel to Chicago, or if you want to see or photograph this city’s breathtaking skyline, or if you simply want to explore fantastic new places in the Chicago area, then you found the right blog. I will help you to explore all of this and more. Let’s begin!

Wicker Park is my favorite neighborhood in Chicago. It is here you’ll find the Robey Hotel. Its design looks like the flatiron building in New York City – but I like the Robey hotel even better. Once inside, ask the waiter to use his/her magic key to open the elevator, then take you UP. When you get to the top (the Up Room) you will feel “WOW.” You will be able to see the beautiful skyline with 180 degree views.XVVW8035

Even better, I like to watch the people come and go, and listen to the trains pass by. I stand up to feel the full experience. I also can see many of the city’s street intersections. My favorite is the intersection of Wicker Park (Buck Town). The blue line train in Chicago is my favorite train line because it takes me to explore and discover a lot of amusing places.

I used to come to the top of the Robey Hotel by myself. I’d linger, watch the people walk, see the intersections, and listen to the train sounds. Beyond it,  it seems like I can touch the city skyline.  I love the 180 degree views, see all the neighborhoods, and think about where my next adventure might take me… and think about life. I feel that I am very close to the sky and skyline. It’s a magic feeling. So far, I’ve only taken two friends to this secret place. But now, I have opened my heart and shared my personal adventure with you.

I’ve decided to use my secret spot to start this new blog with you, and I’m writing especially for people who like to take adventures like me. If you do, follow me. I will help you to explore a lot of new things, crazy things, delicious food, fabulous places…

Your next adventure starts NOW…..