[repost] 26 Things You Need to Do in Chicago This Fall

Hi all! It has been a l-o-o-o-ong time since the last post on this blog. So sorry! The family has been changing up a LOT lately (selling our suburban house, for example) so things have been nuts. But I’ll make sure to start posting more often (say, once a week) from now on.

I found this article on thoughtcatalog.com today and felt it was great to share, so I hope you find some inspiration for the season! I didn’t realize till the very end that this actually is a double-repost! Whoa . . . it originally appeared on WBEZ, written by blogger Leah Pickett. Little did she know it would then go on to morph into how it appears now!

Summer may have its charms, but let’s be real. When it comes to the three Ws (weather, wardrobe and whimsy), fall is the best season by far.

The sopping humidity of summer suddenly turns crisp and purposeful, ushering in a new academic year and bursts of gorgeous, coppery color in the trees. Chicagoans also become more fashionable, as we trade in our often unflattering shorts and sandals for a more polished look of jeans, scarves, layered cardigans and boots. We indulge in pumpkin lattes, host more game nights, watch the leaves fall and celebrate three of the year’s best holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving and Buy Nothing Day.

Back in June, I made a list of things to do in a Chicago summer; but now, an even better season has arrived.

In no particular order, here’s 26 adventures to have this fall:

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1. Chicago Music Summit, Sept. 20

This first-ever conference, presented by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), will give Chicagoans the opportunity to learn more about our city’s thriving music scene and connect with industry professionals at the local and national levels. More than 20 panels on a variety of topics will feature 100+ speakers, including representatives from Sony Music Entertainment, Pitchfork and Live Nation.

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2. Try a new restaurant.

New hotspots opening this season: Chop Shop and the 1st Ward (a Bucktown restaurant, bar, music venue and butcher shop combined into one) debuts in mid-September, A10 (a European venture from Matthias Merges of Yusho and Billy Sunday) arrives in October and Eataly (Mario Batali’s megaspace of eight restaurants, a microbrewery and a culinary school) opens its doors in mid-November. [As a quick aside — if you haven’t been to our eatery quite yet, please do stop by! I didn’t feel it was right to pretend as though other restaurants don’t exist, but the beauty of cuisine is that there are so many different kinds!]

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3. Drive out to the drive-in.

Before the weather gets too cold, bundle up with some blankets, popcorn and good company at the old-timey Cascade Drive-In in West Chicago.

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4. Expo Chicago, Sept. 19-22

The International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art — a celebrated arts and culture fest offering tours, artist discussions, special exhibitions and site-specific projects—will take place over a three-day weekend at Navy Pier, with a “Vernissage” opening night benefit on Thursday. The event will feature 125 galleries representing 17 countries and 36 cities, including London, Zurich, San Francisco, Berlin, New York City, Madrid, and Chicago.

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5. Volunteer at 826 CHi.

Help tutor a Chicago student at 826 Chi, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting learners ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills. Back-to-school volunteers can choose to help students with their homework after-school, in schools, through events and outreach, on field trips or in conjunction with workshops at 826 and The Boring Store.

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6. Hit up a Subject to Change event.

Subject to Change, an LGBTQ-friendly collective that aims to create “no shame” when it comes to the music they enjoy and the people they care about, holds monthly events at Township to raise funds and awareness for a variety of different community organizations. Past events have included benefits for the Chicago Women’s Health Center, Chicago Books to Women in Prison and Vida SIDA. Keep your calendar open every first Tuesday this fall for more!

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7. Design Harvest Festival Sept. 28-29

Chicago’s annual street festival celebrating home design will feature a myriad of local vendors and antique collectors, as well as family hay rides, pumpkin painting to raise money for a local elementary school, square dancing, cold beer, delicious food and live music programming from The Hideout.

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8. Hang out in a new bar.

Coming soon: Dusek’s/Punch House in Pilsen’s historic Thalia Hall (mid-September), Analogue on Milwaukee Ave. (mid-October), and River North comfort food bar Tippling Hall (late October).

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9. Chicago International Film Festival, Oct. 10-24

Now in its 49th year, CIFF continues its tradition of bringing exciting new films from more than 55 different countries to Chicago’s main stage. This fall, the lineup includes the much-buzzed documentary “Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me,” the Israeli horror film “Big Bad Wolves” and the 2013 Cannes’ Palme d’Or winner “Blue Is The Warmest Color.”

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10. Hubbard Street: Fall Series, Oct. 10-13

The incredible Hubbard Street dancers have a hot ticket for Chicago audiences this year: a diverse and exciting program from choreographers Robyn Mineko Williams, Ohad Naharin, Mats Ek and Alejandro Cerrudo that will feature nods to Michael Jackson, the Paris Opera and “Flashdance.”

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11. Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Oct. 13

If you’re not running that day, bring a sign and cheer on your friends! The marathon has Two Waves that start at 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., respectively, so bring that double-shot pumpkin spice latte with you to the start line.

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12. See a new theatre show.

The must-sees: Joan Allen returns to the Steppenwolf stage for the first time since 1991 in the American premiere of The Wheel, The Goodman Theatre’s fall season opens in September with Pullman Porter Blues, and the Tony-Award winning musical Once arrives at The Oriental for a limited run in October.

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13. Vintage Garage, Sept. 15 and Oct. 20

Uptown’s Vintage Garage, the only monthly flea market in Chicago, presents the best vintage and antique dealers under one roof every third Sunday from April to October. Don’t miss your chance to attend the last two shows of the season: “Vintage Art” on Sept. 15 and “Record Ramp” with the Chicago Independent Radio Project (CHIRP) on Oct. 20.

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14. Chicago Ideas Week, Oct. 14-20

This annual hub of creativity, connection and inspiration kicks off Year 4 with a wide assortment of events, master classes, labs and special presentations. An impressive array of speakers includes Buzz Aldrin, Cat Cora, Dan Savage, Elizabeth Smart, Malcolm Gladwell and Terry McMillan.

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15. Search for the best cider.

’Tis that time of year. For the hard cider fans: Sprout, SmallBar, The Grafton Pub, and Kuma’s Corner all have excellent selections.

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16. Third Coast Percussion, Oct. 20

Since its formation in 2005, Third Coast Percussion ensemble has performed hundreds of concerts across the country. This year, TCP will be opening their Chicago concert season with a Frequency Series of “Infinitesimal Machinery” at Constellation on Oct. 20.

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17. Go on a Zombie Safari Hayride.

Make the trek to Tinley Park for an October weekend of fun, tractors and zombies in the cornfields! Yes, this is really a thing.

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18. Play flag football.

Chicago Bears games are fun and all, but how about tossing the old pigskin in your own backyard? Organize a game of flag or touch football in your neighborhood park, then treat the winning team to beers.

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19. Shop local.

When scouring the streets for the best fall fashion, don’t forget your local boutiques and online vendors. A few of my favorites: Wolfbait & B-girls, Sofia, Penelope’s and Sara Tea Shop. [Note: Quick shameless plug! You may or may not know that I have my own home-based business of handcrafted, made-in-USA high-fashion jewelry, too. Visit my FB page or blog for more info ;)]

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20. Laugh out loud at Pop Goes Alicia Live!

Every first Tuesday at The Hideout until November, join host Alicia Swiz and a rotating panel of local writers, comedians and activists discussing the latest in pop culture and buzzworthy current events.

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21. Step back in time to the 1893 Fair.

Head to the Field Musuem on Oct. 26 for the Women’s Board Gala in celebration of a sure-to-be stunning new exhibition: “Opening the Vaults: Wonders of 1893′s World Fair.”

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22. Check out a new band.

The gargantuan music fests of summer have come and gone (until we meet again, Walmart on the Lake), but never fear. Time Out Chicago has an excellent list of rising acts to fall in love with this fall: from Jenny Hyval at the Empty Bottle to Water Liars at Schubas to Lucius at Lincoln Hall.

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23. Rubber Fest, Nov. 8-9

Mr. Interntional Rubber (MIR) is a rubber-fetish event that includes cocktail parties, a rubber/leather market and awards at the Center on Halsted. Go get your kink on, if you feel so inclined.

Isn't this just a superb shot? Just saying.

Isn’t this just a superb shot? Just saying.

24. Beer Hoptacular, Nov. 8-9

If rubber is not your thing, attend Chicago’s Fourth Annual Beer Hoptacular at Lacuna Artist Loft Studios in Pilsen instead. Make sure to stick around for the best Hoptacular beer of the year (2012 winner: 5 Lizard from Bedford, Illinois)

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25. Find the best pie.

During the autumnal months, a seasonal slice of delectable pumpkin or hot apple pie really hits the spot. Take refuge at Bang Bang Pie Shop, Hoosier Mama Company or First Slice Pie Cafe to satisfy your every craving.

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26. Christmas Tree Lighting at Daley Plaza, Nov. 27

Watch Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the tree donor flip the switch at Chicago’s 100th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, accompanied by live music and performances at Daley Plaza. And say, “Goodbye fall, I hardly knew ye.”

What would you add to this list?

 

 

stephanie’s shanghai affair, part two

Follow-up to previous post: My sister, Stephanie (whom I call Moose, but never mind), recently returned from an eight-day trip to Shanghai. Since she has her own (fashion) blog at The Naked Canvas, I’ve asked for her permission to repost her Shanghai posts onto our Mei Shung blog. For more images, please visit the original post.

Can you imagine going on holiday to London and not making a trip to see Big Ben? What about Paris sans Eiffel Tower? Sounds like madness, right? Well, you can’t visit Shanghai without stopping by the Bund. Sure, it screams tourist attraction, but you can’t help but gawk in awe and wonder when you stand before the majestic skyline, especially at night.

As a native Chicagoan, I naturally hold the Sears Tower (not the Willis Tower) very near and dear to my heart, but I have to admit that the Shanghai World Financial Center (see that bottle cap-looking building on the right?) puts the Sears Tower to shame. [Pamela’s note: *GASP* It so does NOT!] But enough about the Bund, I don’t want Chicago finding out I had a weeklong affair with Shanghai, hehe O:)

This was my first full day in China, so I wanted to keep my outfit comfortable and casual. I styled my look around my new two-toned trench (as seen on Devon Rachel), which was the perfect lightweight coat for sightseeing. For footwear, I couldn’t be more pleased these Cole Haan boots. These were the only “walking shoes” I brought with me on my trip, and they definitely served me well. I splurged a bit on these leather  and suede babies, but they are honestly the most comfortable and durable boots I’ve ever owned. Kudos, Cole Haan!

More to come from Shanghai! 🙂

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(guest post) a sister’s say on labor day

As promised, here is the article my sister Moose (“Stephanie”) wrote on our Labor Day in Chinatown for her fashion blog, which you can access at The Naked Canvas.

Labor Day is a holiday that is typically associated with barbecues, the beach, shopping, and just downright relaxing.  So where did I go to celebrate this ’murican day off?  Chinatown, of course 😛 I joined my family on a trip to this Chicago neighborhood to do a bit of shopping (both grocery and window), strolling, and to escape the humidity with a nice, refreshing bubble tea.

I spent a lot of time in Chinatown as a child, tagging along with my mom to buy bits and bobs from the grocery stores, stocking up on my favorite gummy candies and baked goodies, getting haircuts, grabbing bites to eat, attending festivals, etc.  As I got older, I made fewer and fewer trips to this neighborhood, so this was a quaint, nostalgic trip back.

My usual go-to oufit for hot, sticky days tends to revolve around tank tops and high-waisted shorts with minimal accessories (In this case, “minimal” means a huge gold elephant grazing my declate . . .) I wear this particular tank top way too often.  So often that I’m surprised it hasn’t unraveled into one long strand of thread by now.  I’ve worn this same tank and short combination in a previous post (here) during my trip to Minneapolis, but I styled it with different accessories.

Hopefully the summer heat will fizzle in the month to come, and we can embrace the fall weather (and fashion!).  How did you spend your Labor Day?

labor day shenanigans, our style

From Hello Kitty’s Facebook page —

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Hope everyone had a terrific Labor Day! Just wanted to share what my family did yesterday on our day off — as many of you know, Mondays are our family’s only day off — speaking of which . . . my sister found this the other day on Facebook from one of her old server friends at (gasp!) another restaurant: Image

(No idea why it is a picture of a picture, but never mind.)

I digress. Anyway, my boyfriend Anthony had been asking my mom to teach him how to prepare live fish (i.e., fresh-picked while still alive) for ages, so we finally figured that Labor Day would be the perfect opportunity for her to take him “fishing” at Chinatown (her preferred spot for live fish) and teach him her kitchen skillz at home. (We have a townhouse in the city near the restaurant, but since the ’rents spend most of their time there at Mei Shung, the kitchen at the townhouse isn’t fully equipped for cooking.)

To our surprise, my sister opted to join us for the outing, which she is currently writing for on her own blog, The Naked Canvas. (I will re-post her article on Thursday.)

When we got to Chinatown, we of course got distracted by shiny things — gift shops, kitchen wares, and wound up shopping around for a good hour or so before we even managed to pick out our fish.

ImageMoose and I started a mini-collection of kitty mugs and cups. Not too sure of the significance of cats in Chinese culture, but they’re fairly prevalent — turns out, though, that that golden cat with the moving arm? The one you see in tons of Chinese restaurants? It’s actually Japanese, called the Maneki-neko. I found this photo on Google images —

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. . . which is why we don’t have one in our restaurant!

But I do have to confess one guilty pleasure: Hello Kitty! She’s Japanese, too, but too cute for us to ignore. More on this later.

For some reason, the first two supermarkets that carry live fish were out of the fish my mom prefers (big-mouth bass), but third time was the charm — managed to get hold of two medium-sized fishies, at my request, because I love live fish so much I can have an entire one on my own.

At home, Anthony promptly put on my black Cucina Italiana apron (I know, it’s blasphemous — but the only food I know how to make is Italian from all my time in the country ;)) and vigorously took notes of my mom’s instruction.

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The result? DELICIOUSNESS. If you’re curious, this is one of the savory delights off our upcoming Super Secret Authentic Taiwanese menu that you can order. My mom will most likely not be the one personally cooking it for you, but I assure you it is just as tasty. (And, by the way, you can order it even before we release the Super Secret Menu! Just make sure you give her ample time to go buy your fish.)

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Moose also randomly asked her to teach her how to make miso soup, so my kitchen-goddess mom also decided to whip up some spicy sushi (maki).

. . . So this is extremely clear, Mei Shung is NOT an Asian fusion restaurant — it is strictly Mandarin and Taiwanese cuisine. This means no Pad Thai, no sushi, no sake.

But I can’t say the same for what goes on under our roof. 😉

A glimpse of the feast that ensued:

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And just for fun, since we love to give things away, and since we apparently have such an affinity for Japanese fare —

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This Hello Kitty coffee tumbler (double-porcelain walled) is up for grabs! One lucky winner of our newest contest will win this eco-friendly alternative to to-go cups, detailed here:

Hello New Dish Contest

Come in to Mei Shung in the month of September (or get delivery), order something you have never tried before off our menu (perhaps off our upcoming Super Secret Authentic Taiwanese menu!), and write us a short review covering:

-what you ordered & what was in it

-comparison to what you normally order

-how you liked it

We have TONS of stuff to choose from, even if you’re not adventurous enough to try something you can’t pronounce. 😉

Entries will be posted to our Facebook page as well as the blog for a voting contest — the review with the most “likes” will win the Hello Kitty tumbler! (While you’re at it, be sure to “like” the page, too, for our ongoing Facebook Likes Us contest.)

Contest ends Sunday, 30 September at 11.59pm. (This gives you about two hours after we close!)

I’ve been diligently working to convince my parents to go green with the restaurant, but alas, old habits die hard (especially for old-school immigrants from Taiwan). So . . . instead, I can ensure giveaways will be environmentally friendly, when possible.

Good luck!

Stay tuned for my sister’s guest post on Thursday!

officially summer in the chi

I’m not sure how slow I am on the uptake for this, since I’m based in the suburbs, but driving in to the city today I noticed with utter delight that Buckingham Fountain is on for the season! Memorial Day traditionally marks the start of summer, and it may have come and gone, but you know the gorgeous sunny days are here for good when Buckingham’s shooting in all her glory.

Beautiful, isn’t she?