A hero’s infinity journey

Are you willing to take the journey? Are you open to new possibilities? Are you willing to open your imagination? I believe each of our individual journeys differ from one another. Sometimes, we need to step away the routine, explore possibilities in new ways we might not have explored before. Maybe we can call ourselves a hero, someone who is curious, ambitious, brave, open-minded and creative.  

Welcome to the hero’s journey.

“The Hero’s Journey” is here – wndr museum

You might know the Japanese, multi-disciplinary artist Yayoi Kusama and her incredible creations, like her mind-melting infinity mirrored rooms, Kusama Pumpkin at Naoshima, spotted pumpkins and Godzilla-sized floral creation.

Kusama said “I have been taking steps toward the future every day through making many paintings and sculptures with my deep emotion that is hidden in my life.” Her creations are always full of repetitive symbols that symbolize different organisms. I think this is her way to communicate between two different worlds where she finds herself.

Her remarkable INFINITY MIRROR ROOM – LET’S SURVIVE FOREVER, 2017 is exhibited in Chicago. Here, try to forget yourself and immerse in the environment. The room surrounds the viewer in mirrors and reflective balls, making you aware of multiple versions of you, challenging you to find the balance between imagination and reality – and allowing you to find peace in your heart for this moment, as all things remain still, and the entire environment comprises only you.

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Forget yourself and immerse yourself; you feel you are infinity.  

The other room I like is the Waterlight Graffiti room. Here, I can draw and write what I want, like a canvas. As in life, I put my commitment on it, and witness the light and darkness. When I step into light, a shadow forms either behind or before me. Although the words on it will disappear soon, I witness the movement and the change, the light and the darkness. While you cannot hold back the inevitable you can still be brave and face it.

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What is your commitment in life? Go for it. 

Do you like a transformation? For me, I transformed from small to big in an “Ames Room.” This experience reflects my life journey: growth that is fun and adventurous. Perhaps we are adults on the outside but just children at heart. We have the ability to move through life without fear, facing everyday challenges. Perhaps this is worthy of being called a hero….

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The transformation from small to big, like the child to adult, without fear.

 

We are better through the imagination, become a child again here—Flyboy

I always notice murals in this city, especially the flyboy murals. The local artist Hebru Brantley said, “I create the flyboy character out of a need to have heroes of color, whether black, Asian, or White, European.” Of course, a hero can exist regardless of race, color, gender or nationality.

The Nevermore Park opened recently, a 6,000 square foot immersive art experience that transports you into an exciting alternate reality filled with new sights and sounds. 

In this exhibit, I took the train cross time, with images and items such as old televisions and computers, along with light bulbs suspended above me, with sounds all around me, taking me back to my past and then rushing me toward the future.

 

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Welcome aboard to the childhood train… Where is your next stop?

 

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In my childhood, these televisions, computers and radios were very popular. The items reminded me of years ago when I was much younger.

Across the exhibit, I found familiar sounds, signs and figures that conjure childhood and feelings of childlike wonder. I became a child again. Flyboy connected me with a previous period of my life.

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This was a cool exhibit, giving me the power to feel bravery as I emerge as an adult.

Open the door to meet our hidden heroes.

This oversized yellow door is always one of my favorite places to visit. You will feel so little in front of this giant door. People always play with that beloved “Big Monster.” Although we cannot go back in time, we can image a childhood and all of its possibilities.

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The imagination of childhood always gave me a new direction and adventure.

My fellow heroes, we are grown up, adults now, facing many challenges in life. I hope we still feel brave, creative and curious as our life journey moves us forward in new chapters. I believe your journey is a comprehensive set of experiences that can be creative with inspiration hidden around each corner – and each of us can embrace imagination, be curious and brave and open to an incredible world of possibilities.

 

Experience a Real Prison Break

Do you remember the TV show “Prison Break”?

Do you remember the comedy “The Blue Brothers”?

In both productions, there was one important location – a prison. When I was young, I really liked the TV show “Prison Break.” I hadn’t thought about it for many years. Then, I had a chance to tour this actual prison, and I couldn’t wait to explore this popular screen location.

In the TV show “Prison Break,” the facility was called Fox River State Penitentiary. The real prison name is the Joliet Correctional Center, now simply known as the “Old Joliet Prison“. It was designed by Chicago’s earliest architect, W.W. Boyington, who also designed the Chicago Water Tower. I find that the architecture of these two facilities share common characteristics.

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Can you find the similarity between Chicago Water Tower and Old Joliet Prison?

When I got inside the prison fence, there was an interesting scene: the door and windows were badly broken, with many holes, a far cry from its time as a working prison. I imagine that this site experienced a lot of ups and downs.

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All the doors and windows were broken. The prison looks like a ruin.
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At this ruin, I can get a strong sense of a prisoner’s life.  

I saw a dark light through another old iron gate, a glimpse into a prisoner’s life. They were completed imprisoned inside these dark and cheerless rooms. Also, dark light makes me feel like the prisoners experienced tough times here.

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Through these old iron gate, I can sense the prisoners’ dark sense of gloom to live in such a cheerless place.

The most impressive thing is that once I pass through the dark and cold areas, there is a large grassy area. I can feel that for the prisoners who lived here, the grassland was likely their happiest place. They perhaps could feel at least a small sense of relief from their dreary world, even see the sky. In those precious moments, the prisoners could escape their daily life and maybe feel a sense of freedom.

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Most of the prison is depressing, but pass through a door and wall, and you arrive at this grassy area, perhaps the prisoners’ favorite place.

The prison held a hospital, but it is blocked off with fences with locks on the windows. Inside, a few pieces of medical equipment remain. I can almost see the prisoners experiencing bad breaks and even death here. (Maybe this abandoned hospital could be a haunted house for Halloween.)

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The prison hospital was established in 1895. It held death instead of life for some prisoners.

Another remarkable fact: the tour guide told us that when the prison opened, two prisoners shared a double bed in the tiny room where they lived. Here, I saw a shocking scene: the prisoner’s room was guarded by a heavy iron gate. All the walls and ceiling were dilapidated.

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Can you image that prisoners lived in this tiny place? So sad.
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All the ceilings and walls were broken. Visiting the facility allowed me to understand the reality of this harsh and brutal place. It was shocking. 

Spending time in the prison shows that this was a cruel and painful place. People were imprisoned here for many years. I can feel the despair even now, and how excited a prisoner must have been to get outside for any exercise.

In the TV show “Prison Break,” the brilliant structural engineer Michael Scofield rescued his innocent brother Lincoln and formulated an escape plan, one of many stories told within the prison. When I visited the facility, I can feel that living in prison is a painful and oppressive place. The prisoners must have longed for freedom, saddened by being separated from their families, with many people dying here.   

There are other interesting places to explore in Joliet, other than the prison. I also visited the Joliet Area Historical Museum to learn about the area’s diverse history. An exhibition in the gallery showed information about the prison, with actual visuals from the prison showing its history. (On a happier note: The Blues Brothers sat outside the museum). 

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Don’t forget to take a awesome photo with The Blue Brothers!

Despite the unpleasant feel of the location, this was an exciting place to visit. I walked and toured a real prison where several movies were filmed, and I saw a glimpse of those prisoners’ stories through a broken door and window. I witnessed scenes that seemed to be from another world.

Thank you for experiencing this prison “break” with me! 

 

 

 

Seek out those creative places

Dear Adventurers,

Long time no see! Are you ready for your next adventure? Don’t forget that we are the adventurers who blaze a trail so others can follow.

You might know that love to spend time in nature, with the trees and mountains around me. The company of nature reminds me of our place in the world. But I also love to look at the design and interior of cities and buildings. I enjoy seeing all new places because they give me an opportunity to see the world through new eyes. Sometimes, the great outdoors is much closer than you think. Just step out the door!

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The sounds, the smells, the brisk air and all the things that cannot be bought.

I would like to recommend you visit these cool places when you come to Chicago, fellow adventurers.

Give us those blue skies: The Robey

Are you ready for the summer sunset? Let’s check out the Robey Chicago. You might know it is my secret spot. I love to stay there to see the city skyline on its rooftop, touch the blue skies and witness the transition of four seasons.

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 Couldn’t get enough of this view.

Although it cannot compare to other luxury places in this city, when I stay here I truly forget the long Chicago winter. Here, you can explore the neighborhood and feel closer to this city, seeing another side of it.  Stop by and you will have this feeling: It is home away from home. 

I like beautiful places in walking distance of my home: The Hoxton, Chicago

It has been said: 

“The details are not the details, they make the design.” 

I cannot agree more. 

The Hoxton just came to Chicago a few months ago, but it caught my heart already. You will find an innovative and sophisticated visual experience that showcases the creative reach of Chicago’s art community here.

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Who says you cannot find a jungle in the city? Stay at the Hoxton to get your city break. Don’t forget to see the rooftop.

The dreamiest interior: The Langham Chicago

A cute pink taxi welcomes you outside this hotel, ready to start your experience “Langham style”. Summer is a wedding season; do you think this could be the location of your dream wedding? It is not only a romantic place for a wedding reception, but it also is a gorgeous place to stay and enjoy. The hotel has so many wonderful details throughout, including some magical installations and clever design features. You can enjoy timeless elegance, marvelous city views and the finest flavors here.

 

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The magical installation makes a fairytale come true.

The afternoon tea here is the best tea ever. I can really enjoy a fulfilling afternoon here, drink my cup of tea, hang out with friends and share creative thoughts. Please put an afternoon tea here on your list of things to do in Chicago.

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Sometimes, we need a little luxury in our life.

I am fan of the outdoors, but I also love to explore great building and interior design. So step out the door and tour these stunning spaces surrounding you.

It is time to turn toward adventure. 

 

The spirit of the season is out there III

Bonjour Holidays, Bonjour P.O.S.H 

At some point in your life, you want something that feels authentic—something that speaks to you. So I always find the special thing to tell a story. If your recipients are from Europe, or French, or love European style, this is definitely a place for you.

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Address: 613 N State St, Chicago, IL 60654

P.O.S.H  is a local small business in town. In the holiday season, you should not miss its gorgeous window display. This charming dress captures the magic of the holiday spirit.

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The owner sells a lot vintage and authentic items from European flea markets, and has some unique items from their travels. Here, you don’t need to go far to find special gifts, including vintage hotel silver, tabletop, dinnerware, French tea, tea towels, antiques, paintings. You also can find items related to Chicago, such as a vintage Chicago postcard.

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Lots of vintage collections here, a lot to look at, a lot to love.

P.O.S.H is a perfect combination of European and Chicago styles, a small store that delivers a unique and warm message. 

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You can feel the magical things from Europe and Chicago.

You can not only find unique items here, but also many items that stir memories, like the corners of grandma’s kitchen, where I found cute kitchen items. I can smell her famous sugar cookies fresh from the oven.

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Grandma’s kitchen. Do miss her famous cooking?

I see many French items here, like the Eiffel Tower and French books for kids. It reminds me to think of my JAX mom. It is a magical place that connects the special memories between her and me.

Have you heard of this saying: “The fragrance of adventure and poetry endlessly pervades each cup of tea”? In the French tradition, Mariage Frères has elevated tea to an art. If you have tried it, you understand the passion and reverence that tea aficionados have for these exquisite teas. If not, try it. I selected the Mariage Frères -Esprit de Noel Tea as a gift for my JAX Mom. She is French, and over time we grow closer every year, like a real mom and daughter. It is magical to be reunited, and we have a wonderful time enjoying this special tea together, laughing and sharing precious moments.

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No matter where we roam, there is no a place like home. I feel a strong connection with my family members in my home in the U.S.A.

 

More suggestions for special gifts:  

  1. L.A. Burdick Chocolate
  2. Anthropologie
  3. Gather home + lifestyle

I hope you enjoy Stephy’s holiday gift guideline, and I hope you find the perfect gifts for everyone on your list. Wishing you all a dreamy holiday!

 

The spirit of the season is out there II

Embark on a new scent journey: LE LABO

We believe that there are too many bottles of perfume and not enough soulful fragrances.

A scent can conjure up a flood of memories. This is why I love finding unique fragrances. If you know me well, you know how obsessed I am with fragrances. I would love to share my favorite brand: LE LABO. It is a niche perfume, simple but expressing a unique scent and character normally found in a luxury brand.

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The scents bring a flood of memories.

You might love the store décor, with old school fixtures and distressed tile walls making Le Labo’s products really stand out in the store’s sample section.

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This place, so aesthetically pleasing.

This store has great natural light for photos – and a great place for holiday shopping.

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Address:1618 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647; 47 E Oak St, Chicago, IL 60611

All of this store’s fragrances are hand-blended. Choose your scent, and they will blend the perfume, label and carefully pack it, all by hand. I love the careful process. I also love the scent itself.

Give the scent time to show itself: immediately after you spray, you might not particularly like the scent, but wait about half an hour, when the real scent appears. It will surprise you – and it is addicting. The fragrance is a private experience unique to each person. You just have to try it for yourself.

IMG_0481Although it is simple, the chic aesthetic and penchant for masculine notes make this a favorite to wear by both men and women alike. Fun note: the perfume names are simple and come from combining a main part of the perfume with how many materials are in it. For example, one perfume is called Rose 31/Bergamote 22.

Le Labo creates exclusive scents for some cities and sell it only there: Baie Rose 26(Chicago); Gaiac10(Tokyo); Vanille 44(Paris); Tubereuse40(New York). What cool city in the world do you want to smell like?

IMG_0484This time, I chose the “discovery set”for my friend who loves to wear perfume. This works great as a gift because each fragrance is private and personal. Because I am not certain which scent my friend would enjoy most, the “discovery set” is perfect because it has 16 classic scents. I also selected the Chicago exclusive Baie Rose 26. When he/she receives it, they can take their time to explore the range of LE LABO fragrances.

It is not only a gift but also a brand new and cool scent experience. Enjoy!

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How about the discovery set? A nice gift. Treat yourself or someone.

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

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.

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…..