The Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Doors

Old doors fascinate me. Even though I admire those thick beveled glass doors, they don’t hold a lot of character compared to a massive church door or the old wooden doors of old homes or buildings.

Old doors aside from witnesses to the past, are strong and more interesting. What they are made of and how they look like gives us a glimpse of what were then available and silent personification of the artists who labored over them. Each door from the past era customized according to the requirements and specifications of the owners tells us a lot of stories.

Whether they were to protect the objects or people behind them or simply for aesthetics each was just as different from the other. Am glad that there are still many that has withstood the test of times, otherwise we would be left with mass produced doors which are plain and boring looking.

To join the photo challenge, go here.

Posted in California, Churches, Midwest, Photo Challenge | Tagged | 4 Comments

Randolph Tavern



June 18th was Lynn’s birthday and to celebrate we decided to go to lunch today being the last day of work prior to the 4-day July 4th weekend. Work was slower and we were hoping we could stretch our 30-minute lunch hour.

DSC_0233Since it is a celebration I wanted to try some place new and special. The restaurant she had in mind was booked solid until past 1:00 pm so we decided to go to the Randolph Tavern. It is only a couple of blocks away from our office and I think this was the first for both of us there.  It caters mostly to the business crowd at lunch and theatre-goers at dinner.

Right across the street is the Cadillac Theatre and a block is The Goodman.  At the corner of Randolph and Wells, the “L” tracks is right outside the building.

DSC_0235It was a busy place. There were photos of celebrities and vintage prints everywhere. I like the touch of well-upholstered sofas in strategic locations – it adds a homey touch and color.  There were several high tables and bar chairs, no booths which I am not fond of.



We were seated right away and our wait staff was attentive even though the place was packed. Lynn decided on ahi tuna burger while I had a Thai salad.

DSC_0238If I have to rate it with five being excellent, it would be a three. My salad was on the dry side and they used chopped cabbage so it was like eating a dry coleslaw and the peanut dressing was a tad bitter. Burnt peanut maybe? There’s a place we used to go where I could get a Thai salad at a fraction of the cost and better. For me the place was a disappointment.

DSC_0236Lynn wasn’t too excited about her sandwich either. It is a shame that I picked the place.

And it wasn’t really cheap. It is rated $$$$.  Lynn deserved a better lunch.


Maybe we should have gone when we could order beer so that the food would be secondary but we didn’t. It wasn’t a bad place but there are better places around.









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Taste of Brasil

DSC_0213Should I say I love Brazilian food, even though I’ve only experienced their grilled meat in the local churrascharias? I am a meat person but I’d take seafood, fish and vegetables first if they are there. I am an adventurous eater, not limiting myself to one ethnic favorites.

Last Friday, when my friend and I couldn’t agree on what to have for dinner, we decided we should try a Brazilian restaurant in the next town. She said it has gotten rave review from our Mexican neighbor and I guess that qualifies her to judge whether one is really good when it comes to Latin food. I looked at the online reviews though and it looked promising.

It is a small restaurant but not exactly a hole-in-the-wall. It probably has about 10 small tables that could seat a pair or four people each. There was only one couple dining when we got there although it seemed to fill up with neighborhood customers when we were just about to leave.



I don’t know much about Brazilian food but their menu consists mostly of meat and some vegetable sides. I ordered a picanha which is a Brazilian stew with caramelized onions and mozzarella. Viv ordered a carne loca, variation of the picanha. She let me taste it and it was almost like my sandwich except with the addition of grilled red pepper. In short, it wasn’t that loca.
Carne Loca

Carne Loca

Both packed a lot of flavor and they gave generous servings. It comes with a choice of sweet potato or potato fries.

Their dinner menu borders on being pricey though but I have no idea how big are the servings. We ordered sandwiches, dinner comes with rice and beans.

DSC_0208Since their menu is quite limited, I still don’t know much about Brazilian dishes. But this place is really worth coming back to again and again and am curious how they cook cassava because that is very common in our food culture too. Also I would like to try their bread and appetizers like empanada.

DSC_0206They also have an in-store where they sell their own hot sauce, cakes for desserts, candies, bottled sweets made out of tropical fruits and other Brazilian food items.
Taste of Brasil
906 S. Oak Park Ave.
Oak Park, IL

They have a website but I think it is suspended at the moment.

Posted in Battling the bulge, Food | Tagged | Leave a comment

Historical homes in Pacific Grove, CA

My entry to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Letters and numbers.

Pacific Grove is known for their Victorian homes and is also called the last hometown. Maybe because of their small town vibe but don’t be fooled, homes are very expensive just like its neighboring towns of Monterey and Carmel.

Most of the Victorian homes are well maintained even though they are humble in size. Many have wooden signs posted at the front to show who first owned the home and when it was built. It is like a badge they display proudly.

This is going to be a quick post as our internet service has been erratic lately, sporadic at best. I have to test its presence in my iPhone first to check if it is connected and then I run to my computer for this blog entry.

Yep, very frustrating indeed especially when you can’t get any newslinks. I bet you when Pacific Grove was first incorporated people went to their community center to get the latest news.

Such is life in this century.

Posted in California, Photo Challenge, Vacation | 7 Comments

Travel Challenge: Tiny


This was dessert from our dinner last Saturday night at The Peninsula.

The description said:

Cherry Custard
Pistachio crumble, vanilla braised cherries, Kirsch foam
Pistachio ice cream

Served on a 14″ plate which made the whole thing more diminutive.

There were also a couple plates of mignardises which would have been more appropriate for the challenge. But I wasn’t thinking of that last night. I know sweets are getting smaller and smaller but I’ve never seen them so miniscule.

Lest you think we were not served enough, I would like to clarify that there was a sweet table filled with Greek pastries and cookies in regular sizes which we could freely help ourselves. Plus we were given mini-bundt cake from the hotel’s kitchen for take home.

My entry to Ailsa’s Travel Challenge for the Week: Tiny.

Posted in Battling the bulge, Chicago, Food, Wedding | Tagged , | 6 Comments

An engagement party

DSC_0186He’s now 28 and last year graduated from medical school. I met her girlfriend then during his graduation celebration and last night he faces another milestone in his life – it was his “engagement party” cum advance wedding reception for their families and friends who would not be able to attend the event in Denver. I’ve written about his graduation here last year.

Those who have been close to the family from work remembers a very shy kid. I brought him a token gift at the family celebration for his high school graduation and he just went hiding to his room after quietly thanking me. But four years later when I met him at his Dad’s 55th birthday, he’s bloomed. I have noticed a big difference in his personality. From growing in the shadow of a good looking and gregarious brother, college made him into a very confident young man which he carries beautifully up to this day.

Am glad that he’s fallen in love with someone who shares his dreams and ideals. Everyone is very happy with their match. Am sure he’ll grow a family like what his parents have given him.

To Vanna and Hercy, I wish you only the best from hereon forward.

Posted in Chicago, Family, Food, Friendships, My Core | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Mrs. Levy’s it was not

DSC_0190It was one of those weekends when my sisters were feeling lazy to cook. Marilou said we should try Manny’s, a diner in the outskirts of downtown Chicago.

Ever since Mrs. Levy’s of the Levy’s Entertain You restaurants closed their doors at Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), I’ve been missing corned beef piled high on rye. She said the reviews were good and you know me, I rely a lot on those online reviews.

Set in an industrial area west of downtown, they have a good size parking at the back, even a free valet if you want but most people park themselves.

It is a traditional diner but service is cafeteria style. Not been to a diner for a long time. There was a line when we got there and I think we got frazzled to make up our minds fast and to order only what we had in mind that we didn’t realize until we sat down that our corned beef was very plain. A pound of thinly shaved meat but part of dining is aesthetics. It came with a palm-size potato pancake which you pay for – 99 cents.

Food servers, all no-nonsense male, were fast. They have the determination of meat butchers. They carve the meat right there so you know what you’re getting is very fresh. Cashiers were very nice and helpful and you are free to find your own table.

I couldn’t complain about the size of our sandwiches – they were huge that we each ate only half of our sandwiches but I wish we ordered them under their specialty so we could have had them as complete like a reuben. The beef was tender but I still miss the finisse of being served at Mrs. Levy’s Delicatessen.

Prices are reasonable if you consider a sandwich with a pound of meat is $16 excluding drinks and sides and choices in the menu is plenty! But bear in mind it is a no frills dining.

Posted in Battling the bulge, Chicago, Family | Tagged | 2 Comments