Open Up Your Eyes


And the time has come to realize,
And see the plan you’ve been designed for.
So face the fear of all unknown,
And see the heart inside,
So open up your eyes.
So open up your eyes.
– From Jeremy Camp’s song Open Up Your Eyes

Photos from one of my favorite cities, Toledo, Spain.

August 8th, 2012|General, Travel|Comments Off on Open Up Your Eyes

Louis Sullivan

City Target, Louis Sullivan building (formerly Carson Pirie Scott)

Louis Sullivan, an American architect, is considered by many as the creator of the modern skyscraper. I’m a fan of his work, particularly the Sullivan Center (formerly the Carson Pirie Scott building), which features an elaborate and whimsical cast-iron entrance.

Recently, Target opened one of its first City Target locations in Chicago’s remodeled Sullivan Center, preserving both the design aesthetic while maintaining the Target experience guests love. My trip to Chicago ended one day before the opening, so I look forward to checking it out on my next visit. And full disclosure: Besides the fact I work at Target, today’s photo is from the vault (2010) but seemed especially fitting today.


August 1st, 2012|Travel|Comments Off on Louis Sullivan

Bahá’í House of Worship

Baha'i Temple, Wilmette

The Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette, Ill. is one of only seven Baha’i temples in the world. Its quiet serenity reflects the spiritual truths of 5 million people who practice the Baha’i Faith: the oneness of God, the oneness of humanity and the oneness of religion. Founded in Persia (now Iran), Bahá’ís believe that throughout history God has revealed Himself and His teaching to humanity through a series of divine messengers including: Abraham, Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Christ and Muhammad.

Today, there are more than 155,00 Bahá’ís in the U.S., with the largest populations in California, Georgia, Illinois, South Carolina and Texas. The temple in Wilmette is circular in shape, has nine sides and is encircled by gardens and fountains. The single dome symbolizes the unity of all people and religions under God.

Whatever your religious beliefs, this temple’s intricate architecture is, quite simply, stunning. If your travels take you to Chicago, I highly encourage you to visit the Baha’i House of Worship. It’s a worthy retreat, and its beauty will assuredly take your breath away.

Baha'i Temple, WilmetteBaha'i Temple, Chicago

Baha'i Temple, Chicago
“The towers are intertwined with all the religious symbols of the past, demonstrating to each beholder of any religion: welcome to this Temple exemplifying universal brotherhood.” – Louis Bourgeois, architect of the temple.
Baha'i Temple

Baha'i Temple
Baha'i Temple

July 30th, 2012|Photography, Travel|Comments Off on Bahá’í House of Worship

Ziach Polish Foods

Ziach Foods

Twin Cities Metro magazine recently highlighted a host of local haunts in its Hole in the Wall guide, which is how I ended up at Ziach Polish Foods in Northeast Minneapolis. It clearly lived up to its name because everyone in the store was speaking Polish, except me. Nearly all the groceries were labeled in Polish with very few English translations. It was like I’d transported to a European neighborhood market.

Somehow I missed the Polish experience when I lived in Chicagoland, aside from pączkis and Pulaski Day, a Polish holiday observed by Illinois public schools. I love that even in Minneapolis, I’m still discovering pockets of culture and new experiences that awaken my senses.

I have an insatiable curiosity and appetite for ethnic foods. From the shelves, I picked up and turned over each dry good, canned and jarred vegetables and fruits, and of course, the candy, cookies and chocolate. I eyed the extensive pierogi options in the freezer and limited myself to three flavors. My last stop was the deli case where I bought Polish ham and kielbasa, carefully selected and wrapped in butcher paper. Quite frankly, it’s the first time I’ve bought kielbasa that wasn’t Hillshire and I’m really excited. (Thankfully, the family running this store also speaks English!)

If you listen, keep your eyes open and make time, you’ll gradually identify the nuances of what makes a city great.

June 28th, 2012|Food & Drink, Travel|Comments Off on Ziach Polish Foods

Sled Dog

Cuya, sled dog from Denali National Park

Meet Cuya, a sled dog from Denali National Park.

(Yes, I took this photo last August, but I needed a breather and besides, this photo is way more interesting than anything I did today.)

May 30th, 2012|Nature, Photography, Travel|1 Comment

Jewelers Row

Jeweler's Row

I went to morning Mass at my former church Ascension in Oak Park and took the Blue Line downtown for brunch with Lisa in Streeterville. Today was one of those rare Chicago days when the weather is perfect–sunny skies, slight breeze, warm but not hot temps–and the city wasn’t yet flooded with tourists. I walked through Millennium Park to soak it all in and almost wished that my commute home was a train ride to Elmhurst vs. 333 miles away.

Millennium Park gardens
Buckingham Fountain (in background), Chicago

Ascension Church, Oak ParkAscension Church, Oak Park, Ill.

Aqua, Chicago
Aqua Tower, Chicago

Crown Fountain, Millennium Park



May 16th, 2012|Travel|Comments Off on Jewelers Row


Barn hay loft

I’m fascinated with old-fashioned barns that speckle rural America. The architecture, the history, a reflection of the past. I have many memories of our family barn, from playing with my sister, brother and friends (at the top of the list) to daily chores and cleaning (at the bottom of the list). Memories such as witnessing the amazing birth of lambs, puppies and foals; bottle feeding newborn lambs whose mothers wouldn’t let them nurse; luring back escaped horses with buckets of oats; finding small nooks for games of hide-and-seek with friends; the daily hunt to find where the hen Peaches laid her egg; sitting on a 10-gallon bucket after school to talk with your sheep in hopes to tame them in time for the 4-H fair; and the early morning wake-up call from Mr. Roo.

Over the past 30 years, the core frame of our family barn and the hayloft have stayed the same, while the rest has adapted to changing livestock needs and hobbies. This barn is well maintained. Others are not so fortunate.

One by one, many historic barns are vanishing. Today, wood framed barns are often replaced by more cost effective metal buildings or pole barns. And with fewer working farms, many barns sit idly on the prairie, and each timber, weathered by time, deteriorates or sags until the building falls in upon itself.

During your summer treks,
take note of these barns,
some big and some small.
And reflect on the history,
of ones that stand tall.

April 9th, 2012|Nature, Travel|Comments Off on Hayloft

Green Giant

Jolly Green Giant

“The Valley of the Jolly Green Giant” refers to the Minnesota River Valley around Le Sueur. Though 60 miles further south, a statue of the Jolly Green Giant was created in Blue Earth in 1978. I’ve been through Blue Earth many, many times, but thanks to my project, it was the first time I checked out the giant. The 55-foot tall, fiberglass statue welcomes visitors from I-90 in a town where Green Giant corn and peas are still canned every summer.

April 8th, 2012|Travel|Comments Off on Green Giant


Haight & Ashbury

Once the center of the 1960s hippie movement, the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco still maintains its bohemian ambiance. While Bohemian is part of my heritage, visiting this area confirmed that I am not at all bohemian (with a lowercase b). Nonetheless, the ‘varietal character’ of the locals and tourists in this neighborhood is something to behold. The side streets are also lined with a colorful array of beautifully remodeled Victorian homes.

Victorian houses - San Francisco

April 1st, 2012|Travel|Comments Off on Haight-Ashbury

Golden Gate

Golden Gate Bridge

Nothing identifies San Francisco and is more recognizable than the Golden Gate Bridge. So, I was thrilled on this trip that the towers were not covered in fog. Each tower, by the way, has approx. 600,000 rivets.

San Francisco Skyline

Point Reyes

April 1st, 2012|Nature, Travel|Comments Off on Golden Gate