Wednesday, January 22, 2014

spontaneity paid off

Brian got a last-minute unexpected day off today and we deliberated getting
a few things done around the house, or taking a few hours to have a fun,
relaxing afternoon. No brainer! We had lunch at Al's Cafe, a restaurant in a 1892
building that was once a millinery, offices, an appliance store, and a radio repair
business. When we walked in, the hostess led us upstairs, as the downstairs
 area was already packed. We were amazed that we had the whole floor to
 ourselves and that the space was so charming and beautiful.


While we were waiting for the waiter to bring our drinks, we walked around,
admiring the vintage books and decor...




Swooning over these windows, curtains, and chandelier...


 After a delicious lunch of homemade soup and sandwiches, we walked to
Elgin Books ~ an independent, used bookstore. I could've spent hours in 
this store. There was this light-filled room with some tables right next to the
little coffee bar (which, to me, if there could actually be a bonus to a used
bookstore, it's that they have good coffee, too)...


A long hallway with stacks of books...


 and nooks and crannies filled with even more books! I am definitely going
back when I have more time.




 I had brought in a couple of bags of books for book credit ~ and while the owner
didn't give a lot of credit for the books, we still came home with four new-to-us
books for "free". While walking back to our car, we saw these two hand-painted
murals on the sides of buildings and I thought they were really cool. Couldn't
tell you the meaning or stories behind these murals though. I'll have to do a Google
search and see if I can find anything.



So glad he had the day off and that we were spontaneous. 
Win-win.


Have you done anything offhand lately, for which you were grateful for
afterwards?

 

21 comments:

  1. Sounds ( and looks ) like the perfect day....oh my that restaurant is beautiful!

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    1. It was indeed a "perfect" few hours. Beat staying inside the house!

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  2. I love this post! How wonderful to have an unexpected day together and you picked some of my favorite ways to spend the time. I'm so glad you had a nice day.

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  3. Good Morning Melanie, you know we have not and I think it is in our best interest to get out of the house and have a little adventure. Thank you for the inspiration. It is so easy to get house bound this time of year, especially when your an old retired gal like me. Steve comes home from work tired and I just like to stay warm, so it is easy to become winter couch potatoes. Your day off together looked wonderful, a bit of fresh air, good food and adventure. Thanks for sharing.
    Your blogging sister, Connie :) P.S. I'm having another Give-A-Way, come put your hat in the hat :)

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    1. I think you and Steve need to get out - maybe on the weekend when he's off work - and do something fun, even if it's just for a few hours! I knew about your giveaway - I entered a couple of days ago. :-)

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  4. Yes, last week my husband and I drove to a store about an hour from us that I only go to twice a year at most. We ate at a small delicious pub and then went to the store. I walked in to find the entire store on sale, including a cabinet that I had longed for but refused to pay over $300 for. The cabinet was on sale for $150. SOLD!!! Had I not decided to go for that drive, I would have missed out on a great deal.

    Your day looks like it was perfect.

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    1. Wow, now that's an awesome day out! See, it paid off!

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  5. Hi Melanie;
    What a lovely post today! Love the restaurant and book store! Wish I lived closer to you - you have such wonderful places to go. But than I think of the weather there, and I have second thoughts LOL. Glad you had such a fun day! Love and Hugs, Nana

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    1. The Chicago area does indeed have a ton of wonderful restaurants, shops, museums, parks, etc. - but the weather is pretty darn brutal. We get a lot of extreme weather. Where do you live?

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  6. hi
    I love this post! i intrased tha reading books ]

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  7. Oh how I miss the days of spontaneity!!!!! I just started driving after nearly a year of not, so it should be coming soon. You see Mr. Charmer can NOT deal with spontaneity, it drives him crazy, you have to have a plan a day before an NO changing! But he is great in every other way, oh my, the burdens we have to carry, but once I'm driving again, here comes spontaneity!!!!

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    1. I saw from your blog post today, that you finally got to get out and go thrifting! I was so glad to hear that news.

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  8. I grew up in Elgin and have been to Al's so many times. I once lived on Bluff City Blvd where the famous Burns Drug Store sat on the corner. They served the thickest, richest chocolate malts. When Burns closed Al Berg "bought" the recipe for the malts and they are now served in Al's Cafe.It wasn't a lunch for me without one of these malts. We used to get a Burn's malt and a bag of Leitner's hamburgers (they were 20 cents apiece) and go to the park and eat lunch. Nice to hear about Al's...I have often wondered, with all the changes in Elgin, if they were still there.

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    1. What a small world! I saw online that Al's has the best malts, but I didn't have one. I can't eat ice cream or anything cold like a milkshake in the winter...same concept with eating hot soup in the summer! I will definitely try a malt at Al's if I go back this summer.

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  9. Melanie, That sounds like the best kind of day. Thanks for sharing those wonderful pictures. I am happy that you shared your adventure with us. ( I am kind of envious.)

    Debbi

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    1. Aw, Debbi, don't be envious - create your own kind of wonderful adventure!

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  10. What a delightful afternoon!! Often those spontaneous times are the best!
    Mary Alice

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    1. I agree! I'm more apt to be the planning ahead type, but I do like to break out of my little box once in awhile.

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  11. Oh, Melanie, today I am vicariously living a wonderful day of spontaneity via your amazing outings to these two beautiful and inspiring venues! Your photos of Al's Cafe, your sunny table by the window, with a view of the street and city below, the rich patina of the grand fireplace and the overall aesthetic of the cafe is so inviting, not to mention the tasty fare! And then, what a treat to walk over to Elgin Books, to browse through all the once loved reads of others, while enjoying a hot drink, again in the cheery light, so different from the usual musty, grungy and dark second hand bookstores that are out there. Like you, I could spend hours in this cozy haven, surrounded by previously loved treasures and a quiet ambiance.

    Thanks so much for sharing these two local haunts of yours. I am intrigued and definitely hope to visit similar surroundings when I visit Toronto this March, even though this is planned and NOT spontaneous!

    Poppy

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