corn mazeJames Bond, the legendary spy, has now been immortalized in a legendary way. An extraordinarily detailed corn maze was created on a farm in Illinois to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the iconic agent’s first film Dr. No. The maze features the five actors who have portrayed 007 over the years: Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Sean Connery, Daniel Craig and Piece Brosnan. The corn maze is located on Richardson Adventure Farm in Spring Grove. Every year the Illinois farm creates a masterful corn maze, and in 2022 they decided to celebrate James Bond.  

The maze was shaken, not stirred, as it was created to also feature a Bond girl, a Monaco casino and an Aston Martin car driven by 007. The corn maze is distinguished as the world’s largest corn maze, it stretches 10 miles and spans over a 28-acre area. Those who came to visit the maze needed all the skills of a great spy to work their way through it, as the maze is actually created out of 4 smaller mazes, each one having its own dedicated in and out path. The maze was created using state of the art design and planting technology. Last year the Richardson Farm depicted the famous band “The Beatles” in their corn. Every year Illinoisans wait in anticipation to see what the farmers will create next, and hopes are high for another spectacular maze in 2023. 

The corn maze was open September through October of this year, and the amazing design of James Bond through the decades drew a lot of media attention to the Illinois farm. As fall season comes to a close and the holiday season is upon us, the Richardson Farm is switching gears from corn to pine. The Richardson Christmas Tree Farm will be opening the day after thanksgiving, and those who enjoyed the spy-level maze can now enjoy getting a tree with their families for the holidays.

Those who wish to visit the farm can visit their website here.          

aldi marriageWhat better way to end a fairytale romance, than with a grocery store wedding? A white dress, “I do’s” and fresh produce were all present at the wedding between Michael Hurd and Jessica Bojanowski. The couple won a contest to have their wedding at an Aldi grocery store, and on Nov. 9, 2022 they exchanged vows between the aisles at the supermarket’s model location in Batavia. The couple won the ‘Happily Ever Aldi’ contest, where winners would receive a free-of-charge wedding, including hair and makeup for the ceremony and a professional photographer.

The couple noted their love of Aldi, saying how their busy work schedules leave little time for romance, so their weekly Sunday morning Aldi grocery trips became a tradition where they always made time to spend together. Jessica and Michael won out of 500 other couples who applied to get married at an Aldi. They were the first couple ever to get married at one of their locations.

The wedding was officiated by one of the grocery store employees. After the ceremony, guests headed to the beer and wine section for the reception. Cocktail hour consisted of Aldi classics like chicken sliders, jumbo coconut shrimp and a charcuterie board that spanned an entire checkout lane. The wedding cake was a three-tiered carrot cake with a wedding cake topper featuring a shopping cart and fondant colors matching the Aldi logo.

In addition to winning the wedding ceremony, the couple also won free groceries for a year and a wedding registry including small kitchen appliances, bedding, towels and home goods. Aldi helped provide essentials for the couple starting out. Aldi is a purveyor of fresh produce, deli meet, milk, bread and love.

landmarks awardsWhen thinking of visiting Chicago, the first thing that comes to mind might be the Sears Tower, the Bean or the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier. These are all famous landmarks of the city. Landmarks are a staple of towns and cities, and are the most recognizable aspects of a town that can draw in tourists or fill residents with pride. Landmarks in any town deserve to be recognized and preserved, which is exactly what the Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards accomplish. Multiple locations in Illinois have been chosen for the 2022 Awards.

This year was the 29th annual anniversary of the awards program, which celebrates preservation efforts in Illinois. The winners are chosen by a jury of preservation professionals across all of Illinois, who select locations based off of the positive impact on their community, the way it inspires others to save places, and the degree to which it aligns with Landmarks Illinois’ mission. Landmarks Illinois was established in 1971 and is the state’s leading voice for historic preservation. They help communities all over the state save the important places in their lives through a wide range of programs, such as the Preservation Awards.

This year awards such as the Award for Advocacy, the Award for Restoration and the Award for Rehabilitation were given out, among others. The Award for Advocacy was bestowed upon Hotel Belleville in Belleville. The 91-year-old former hotel has been rehabilitated into an affordable housing development called “Lofts on the Square.” The Award for Restoration was given to the Chicago Cultural Center Grand Army of the Republic Rooms. This building is Chicago’s main public library, and has undergone $15 million in restoration to preserve its original features. The Award for Rehabilitation was granted to Crown Brew Coffee Co. in Marion. The coffee shop opened in October 2020 in a 120-year-old building. The coffee shop was rehabilitated by its owners, and was the first business to open in a city-led downtown revitalization effort, proving what is possible when local governments and business owners come together for their town’s economic development.            

To see the full list of 2022 recipients of the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards you can visit here.

Mineral Display Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary ArtYou wouldn’t know it from driving through suburban Oak Brook, but the village is home to the only museum in America dedicated to lapidary art – the art of cutting and polishing precious stones.

The Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art is home to some of the world’s most unique and historic collections of mosaics, jewelry, stone carvings, fossils, dioramas and gemstones. As a Smithsonian affiliate, the Lizzadro Museum has hosted exclusive exhibits from the Smithsonian Institute’s collections. The partnership also facilitates collaboration on educational initiatives and research.

Founded in 1962 by Joseph F. Lizzadro, Sr., an avid lapidary hobbyist and collector, the museum has been building on to his original collection for 60 years. In 2019, the Lizzadro received a donation of several historic pieces from the Oakland County Museum in California – among them, a five-foot-tall jade pagoda that took 10 years to complete and was on display at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933. Interestingly, the Museum’s move from Elmhurst to Oak Brook in 2019 enabled them to put the jade statue, titled Altar of the Green Jade Pagoda, on display for the first time. Also included in the collection is a nephrite jade imperial altar set from the Ming Dynasty and the Imperial Screen, a cinnabar screen encrusted with jade, amber, ivory, coral and gemstones that was gifted to Emperor Qianlong in 1791 during a visit to Southern China.

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vampire teethDo you sparkle in the sunlight? Do you crave blood? Is your arch nemesis named Van Helsing? Whether you identify with Edward Cullen from Twilight or Dracula himself, Chicago is welcoming to all of vampire kind. Lawn Love ranked Chicago as 2022’s second best city for vampires. Cities were ranked for having large populations with diversity in blood types, vampire friendly dwellings, nightlife options, vampire tours, and lack of sunshine. While vampires are welcome, Chicago residents and tourists should beware of the city’s hospitality to them.

Spooky season is upon us as vampires get to run wild in all of the haunted and mysterious places of the city. Potential victims who find themselves in Chicago’s Alley of Death, location of the Iroquois Theatre fire, might find their names whispered by the ghosts of those burned in warning, right before a vampire can strike. Tourists to the city at this time should look out for the Vampire population, carry garlic and holy water as the ghosts and ghouls come out to play. Tourists wanting to avoid the onset of vampires should also avoid the Congress Plaza hotel, known as one of the most haunted hotels in Chicago history.

Halloween is approaching, the one night of the year all monsters are celebrated, but vampires are welcome in Chicago year round. Residents be wary, not all may resemble Twilight.