Weekend Links / / A Sufjangiving

Sufjan Stevens Ryman Nashville

I was playing solo for most of the week while Jordan was in Dallas for work. I occupied my time by tackling some looming blog projects and prepping for the month ahead. I also watched a lot of Jane the Virgin.

Jordan’s flight arrived just in time for him and I to cash in on one of our birthday presents: tickets to Sufjan Stevens’ concert at the Ryman Auditorium!! Sufjan holds a special place in my heart ever since I attended his concert at the Metro in fall of 2005. I went spontaneously with a friend without hearing his music (does that happen anymore with streaming services?) and fell in love. All of college I was obsessed with the album, Come on Feel the Illinoise! It’s still one of my favorite albums of all time.

Onto the Links!

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Music Monday: Christmas Edition

Sufjan Stevens Songs for Christmas

The time has come to begin baking Christmas cookies, decorate your tree, and of course listen to lots and lots of Christmas music! I was tempted to start listening before Thanksgiving, but I held off until last week. As someone who spent much of my youth in either a band (I played clarinet) or choir, I am well versed in traditional and nontraditional holiday music; the good, the bad, and the ugly songs (I’m sorry, but “I saw mommy kissing santa claus”, is just weird however you look at it).

Julie Andrews and Bing Crosby were on regular rotation in my house growing up, but more recently, I like my Christmas music on the melancholy dreamy side. I discovered that I liked my Christmas music this way basically because of Sufjan Stevens‘ Songs for Christmas. It’s a little bit weird, but equally beautiful; new songs mixed with traditional hymns and instrumental versions. Jordan and I used his arrangement of “Holy, Holy, Holy” at our wedding.

These box sets started as personal gifts Sufjan gave to friends and family each year, eventually he bound the EP’s together; stickers and posters are included 🙂 Songs for Christmas came out in 2006 and Silver & Gold was released last year. If you are looking for a few songs to begin with here are a few of my favorites: “Silent Night”, “Sister Winter”, “Only at Christmas Time”,” Star of Wonder”, “The Midnight Clear”, and “The Friendly Beasts.”

Sufjan Stevens Silver and Gold

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Wicker Parking

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I remember an evening, after the movie Wicker Park premiered staring Josh Hartnett (remember him?), when a few friends and I tried to locate the Wicker Park neighborhood in Chicago. Remember the days before Google Maps and smart phones? I’m not sure where we were at the beginning of the night, but after searching unsuccessfully, during a bitter cold evening in January or February, we wound up eating ice cream at a Cold Stone creamery (which really doesn’t make sense!).

Last week, before Jordan left for a friend’s bachelor party weekend, we spent a free afternoon in the city – a pre-celebratory birthday date. I wasn’t exactly thrilled when I first found out Jordan would be out of town for our birthday, so I wanted this day to be memorable and to do something or go somewhere new. Jordan suggested that we find an interesting restaurant and choose the neighborhood accordingly. We decided on Birchwood Kitchen (more on that later), but before dinner we explored and shopped.

We love Wicker Park. It is full of small coffee shops, record and book stores. The clothing stores are a mix of low and high-end with a splash of vintage and now that the vintage has mirrored my childhood wardrobe, I’m feeling an instant connection. I found a few fun pieces of clothing that I’m excited to work into regular rotation and an LP of Sufjan Stevens Invites You To: Come On Feel the Illinoise at Reckless Records. That album (and live concert) has always been one of my favorites; I’m instantly teleported to the end of high school.

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Ok, Birchwood Kitchen was a major win! The menu is simple with salads, sandwiches, and burgers, but fresh and delicious ingredients. They also sell coffee, lattes, and homemade bakery items. The inside of the restaurant is more typical of a coffee shop (comfortable benches and plenty of tables to have a work meeting or a coffee date with a friend), but the patio outside is the ideal place to spend a summer night! It is literally nestled into the neighborhood (you could see neighbors in their backyards). As we paid our bill at the counter, I noticed all the fresh pastries and convinced Jordan to purchase some for dessert. Jordan chose a lemon bar and I picked out banana chocolate chip bread. They were delicious!

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I just love exploring this grand city. There is so much to see and discover.