Let’s Explore! The Happy Garage

I still don’t know what to do when I grow up but I do know what I love… finding and exploring unique places in Chicago!

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Back in the spring, my friend Diana sent me a picture of this garage with all this happy heart art work on it. She was even kind enough to provide me with the exact location of the garage. So I give her all the credit for finding this treasure!

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We were at this garage last week to take some pictures but as it turned out, I had my camera set to the wrong shutter speed…and most of the pictures turned out blurry. This is just a lesson for me to learn more about using my DSLR in manual mode. I’ll add it to one of my goals for 2017.

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So we came back here today to re-take some pictures. But earlier in the day, I dropped my 50mm lens down the stairs. I think I broke it forever (insert crying emoji) because the lens wouldn’t focus properly. And Luke was not in a mood to take any pictures today. All this must be a sign, right?

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I was ready to give up on taking anymore pictures of this garage when a couple walked over and said they have named it “The Happy Garage” and that there’s an Instagram page for it. Then I realized that I shouldn’t be upset that I didn’t get the right pictures because this garage is about happiness. It was like an “a-ha moment” or another sign…just be happy with what you got!


Then I remembered how happy we were being here last week as Luke and I got our dance moves on in front of here. That should have been enough.

The moral of the story: I was able to find this location (thanks to Diana), we had fun as a family taking pictures of it, and now I have some pictures to share. Achieving happiness can be pretty simple.

ABOUT THIS LOCATION

The art work is by Chris Uphues. The garage is located in the Ravenswood neighborhood at the corner of Ravenswood and Winona. Happy hunting!

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Let’s Travel! A Photo Diary of Five Days in Paris

Five days in Paris will never be enough time to see everything. I don’t even think five months would be enough either…which is why “Paris is always a good idea” because there are so many more reasons to come back and explore.

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Paris will always have my heart. This was my fifth trip to Paris but our first as a family, which made it so much more special. It’s been over four months since we were  in Paris and I’m finally getting the chance to post pictures.  We still talk about the trip to Luke (the good, the bad and the sometimes ugly). But it’s always the funny stories that we talk about the most. With this trip and our pictures from it, I really hope Paris will have Luke’s heart as well. I especially hope that he will enjoy this photo diary one day.

TOOK A DAY TRIP TO DISNEYLAND PARIS

The first thing we did was go to Disneyland Paris. I’ve written a post all about it and added some tips –  Let’s Travel! A Day at Disneyland Paris.

SAW PARIS ON A BOAT – A SEINE RIVER CRUISE

Luke loves being on a boat. So we had to add a Seine River boat cruise to our itinerary. Most of the boat cruises are located near the Eiffel Tower and last for about 45 mins to an hour.  We couldn’t pick a better day to take the cruise as it was a beautiful spring day with clear skies. It was the perfect day to see Paris from the river and to imagine what it would be like living there. I’m not sure if Luke cared that much about the architecture as much as being on the boat and watching the water as it moved up and down the Seine.

HAD A PICNIC AT PARC DU CHAMP-DE-MARS

I truly think one of the best ways to enjoy the views of the Eiffel Tower is to have a picnic or just sit and relax at Parc du Champ-de-Mars.  We had a little picnic here shortly before going on the river cruise. Our picnic spread was not the standard Parisian picnic by any measure…mainly just a few baguettes, fruit, and juice. Luke was more interested in chasing the pigeons than enjoying the view but it was fun watching him run around the park with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

 

 

EXPLORED THE PRINTEMPS DEPARTMENT STORE

It rained three out of the five days we were in Paris so we had to find things to do inside. Of course if I had my way, I would spend it shopping. But my two other travel companions are not big shoppers. We did spend an afternoon inside and outside the Printemps on Haussman on a rainy afternoon (and I didn’t do any shopping). First we stumbled upon the Brasserie Printemps on the 6th floor. We walked in and were blown away with the beauty of the dome. We sat for coffee and drinks….and I got to take tons of pictures.

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I had always seen pictures of Paris from a terrace. And thanks to my Instagram friend, Benedicte, who told me that the terrace is located at Printemps (and it’s open to the public). So on the rainy afternoon, we ventured up to the terrace, hoping the rain would stop but it didn’t. We got a great view of Paris (one of my favorites now) and made the most of our time. Luke even got enjoy ice cream and snacks at the terrace’s shop.

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STROLLED AROUND JARDIN DES TUILERIES

Since Luke loves to run around, we strolled through the Tuileries Garden quite often. It gave him the space to run without car traffic and we even got to enjoy sitting on those mint green chairs and watched Parisian life go by.

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PLAYED AT PALAIS ROYAL

The one place I wanted to take Luke to was the Palais Royal and it truly did not disappoint. When Luke saw all the columns, all he wanted to do was run around them and then asked to stand on one and yell to the Parisians that he had a “wedgie.” (He’ll love this story when he’s 18) Before going to the Palais Royal, be sure to stop by the train stop. I think the crown on the metro station is one of prettiest metro station entrances.

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ATTENDED SUNDAY MASS

Since we were in Paris on a Sunday, I made it point to attend Sunday mass at Église de la Sainte-Trinité, a Catholic church near our hotel. Although we couldn’t understand the mass in French, we were able to under the procession of the Catholic mass and felt like we were locals for the hour we were there.

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SHOPPED AT CHANEL AND SEZANE

When in Paris, shop at Chanel, right? Well, Chanel was my top destination…to finally get a pair of ballet flats and take a picture of Luke in front of 33 Rue Cambon. The doormen were great sports because they opened the door for him while I was taking a picture of him.

We also got a chance to stop by the brick and mortar store, Sezane. I’ve discovered the brand about two years ago and have admired their products. Unfortunately, I didn’t get anything because I was so overwhelmed with all the cool stuff in the store.

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EXPLORED THE 9th ARRONDISSEMENT

This was our first time staying in the 9th Arrondissement and we were pleasantly surprised by the quaintness of the neighborhood. It is a quiet neighborhood (except the shopping area) but so much to explore, especially all the passages, which were fun to walk around on a rainy day. I think we will be staying in this neighborhood the next time we’re back.

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HAD A FAMILY PORTRAIT SESSION AT THE EIFFEL TOWER

I’ve always wanted to have a family portrait in front of the Eiffel Tower. So booked a session with Katie Donnelly Photography when I planned our trip. We had our portraits taken on the last full day before we left Paris. Unfortunately, it rained like cats and dogs that morning and we were only able to get a few of us (in the rain). We met Katie at Carette and waited for the rain to stop but it never did. So we decided to go out and take pictures any way. Looking back, the adventures of that morning makes for some good memories. And hey, I got a portrait of us in front of the Eiffel Tower!!

052316_tran_leyla_009WHERE WE ATE

Charlie and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary while in Paris and enjoyed dinner at the restaurant in Hotel Amour (another recommendation from Benedicte). I think we were the only non locals there, which was what we wanted…and it was quite romantic because Luke slept in his stroller throughout the dinner.

The following night, we celebrated Charlie’s birthday at Frog Revolution, a French craft beer brewery. It was Charlie’s choice….

On our last night in Paris, I got to meet another friend I met from Instagram, Jane from La Cuisine Paris, who runs cooking classes in Paris. We met up Jane at Verjus for drinks. Then we had dinner at Ellsworth, which was wonderful!

Since our hotel was near a Monop store, we actually grabbed some sandwiches and wine (and juice/milk) and had dinner in our hotel room one night.

WHERE WE STAYED

I found Hotel 34B through my search on Tripadvisor and I’m so glad I did. It is located in the 9th arrondissement, where we’ve never stayed before. Since this post is long already, I’ve decided to dedicate a whole new post for this hotel. Stay tuned…

Reenacting The Wild Life Movie Poster

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Stuffed animals are not only soft and cuddly, but they also offer some imaginative play. When I showed Luke one of the movie posters (see below) for the movie The Wild Life , he wanted to reenact it with is stuffed animals. But I think Luke looks like a happier Robinson Crusoe, don’t you think? Our little reenactment turned out to be total play time with the stuffed animals. I think they are his best audience, too! Haha! I’m sure his imagination will soar after watching the movie.

I’ve teamed up with makers of The Wild Life Movie to giveaway two movie passes as well as a prize back from the film (the prize pack will include t-shirts, coloring books and a pass for two to see the film in theaters). The winner will be announced on September 9th. Good luck!

Click Here to Enter for the Giveaway

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