Monthly Archives: May 2008

Lady Baltimore Cake Provides Unexpected Reminder of My Own Heritage

I’ve been in Baltimore on business for the past couple of days and an unexpected experience yesterday has me thinking about our family stories and heritage that at times we lose track of in this busy world.

I was at Phillips Seafood at the Harbor for some dinner last night.  After a few crab cakes, crab legs, crab puffs, and crab in puff pastry, I found my way to the dessert table and noticed something I had not seen in quite a while… A Lady Baltimore Cake.

I, of course, had to have a piece and upon my first bite it was like traveling in a time machine back to my childhood.  Then yet another realization hit me.  My Great Aunt used to make what we simply called a “white cake” from scratch during the holidays of my childhood.  My Great Aunt passed away many years ago and, as a result, so did the delicious white cakes she made.

Over the years, having seen the passing of my parents as well, my siblings and I have done our best to preserve the family recipes so that we could carry important traditions forward.  One birthday, my sister surprised with copy of my Great Aunt’s famous “white cake” recipe which I had cherished so much as a child.  As it turns out, the “white cake” is actually a Lady Baltimore Cake.  The significance does not end in connecting my trip to Baltimore with this beloved cake.  The true significance came when I suddenly connected this traditional cake to the fact my grandfather’s side of the family, my mom’s dad, had entered the country many many years ago in Baltimore.  I found myself sitting before a harbor that represents my own family’s legacy and I finally saw the connection between this cake and my family’s story.  It reminds how we lose sight of the many generations which lived, dreamed, lost, sacrficed and succeeded before us and are the very reason we can count ourselves lucky to occupy our unique space in this world.  SM

Just a reminder about the upcoming June 28th “Portraits of Naperville” exhibit: 

“Portraits of Downtown” Naperville Photography Exhibit to be Featured at Art and Frame Naperville 


A Day in the Life of the World of Naperville

If it were up to me, I’d post an illustrative and thought-provoking piece each and every day here on the World of Naperville blog.  Yet, as so often happens in life, something inevitably happens on the way to that place.  Of the 31% of Napervillians who are blessed to be able to work in Naperville, I fall into the 69% who hit the road every morning.

When I say “hit the road”, I’m cruising down 75th Street to I-355 to I-290 to I-90 to Arlington Heights Road to Dempster starting at 5:30 AM each workday morning.  Upon rolling through the front doors of my office the daily race is on.  As an Executive Officer of a national association, I’m blessed to have a terrific team of people to work with which makes each day both rewarding and interesting.  Though I’m at work and far away from both my home community or coming anywhere near this blog, Naperville is constantly in my thoughts.  My walls are filled with a number of my favorite black-and-white Naperville photos. 

At the end of the day, I hit the road for yet another long journey home which always takes more time than in the morning.  I’d like to pause for a moment to personally thank the Illinois Department of Transportation for constantly keeping me on my toes with the endless construction zones, not to speak of all the interesting forms of concrete to look at… mangled concrete, chips of concrete, concrete barriers, concrete columns, concrete dust and trucks which produce concrete so the concrete can begin its life cycle all over again. 

Building upon commuting expertise, I would share one tip to anyone contemplating the car commuting life or merely trying to cope.  My advice is you may think there is a short cut, some quick way to dart down a back road away from the stagnant line of carbon monoxide producing human transport pods to move ahead of the mess only to emerge on an unobstructed straigh-away to your front door.  I’ve tried them all and I don’t believe there is any alternative route which saves any significant time because there is always a nice line idling cars waiting for you around the corner.

Another thought on traffic, I always find the endless traffic reports on the radio quite amusing.  First, not only has it taken me a long time to have any idea what it is the person is saying, I honestly think the person delivering the traffic report has no idea what they are saying.  Even more, I refer to as the radio traffic report simply and affectionately as “Coming Attractions”… because, again, you may know you are about to arrive into a mess, but alternative routes are futile.  Besides, I don’t really need a radio traffic report because all I have to do is point my eyes toward the skies in search of hovering traffic helicopters sitting in the sky feeding video documenting all the poor souls trapped down on the narrow asphault parking lot below full of idling vehicles.

Another tip to my fellow commuters, I implore you to arrive at the realization that if you’ve seen one person pulled over by a state trooper, you’ve seen them all.  It’s always the same flashing lights and the same slightly nauseated expression on the violator’s face.  Therefore, there is no need to slow down.

I finally arrive home and before having  a chance to take a deep breath, I enter the family home to make the rapid transition into daddy jungle gym.  My favorite part of the day is to see my boys faces even if they are clamouring to make up for the many lost hours I was away at work. 

Dinner comes up quickly, a small portion of my attention is focusing on what I’m consuming with the balance applied toward trying to hear more about my boy’s days while convincing them they do in fact like what is on their plate and that they have eaten it many times…  and to please sit down in your seat, feet under the table and that yes, the table is in fact not an oversized plate.  To parents around the world, the Shark sweepers are perhaps the greatest invention of modern time.

Dinner ends, dishes to the kitchen a few minutes to play with the boys or take in an impromptu jam session in the studio before it’s time for them to head upstairs and herd them through the bedtime ritual.  It’s papa bear and lambie for my little guy capped off with signature “tuckles” and then in to my seven year-old’s room for some final philosophical conversation before lights out. 

Alas, I drag myself downstairs for the final hours of the evening to attempt to conjure the energy to set free the motivation I have to engage in creative activities, such as writing blog postings.  Of course, that is balanced with some quality time with my wife. 

As you may have deduced from my “Portraits of Naperville” project as well as other creative pursuits, I’m not the type of person waiting for retirement to unlock my passions in life.  It makes for a long hard day to focus on all the things I love about life and I’m often sleep deprived, but I do as much as I can to cover as much ground as possible… which includes my devotion to Naperville and this blog.

Thus, should a few days pass between postings, please accept my apologies and keep checking back.

Well, it’s 10:30 PM again, Grey’s Anatomy has sufficiently captured the attention of my wife and it’s time to start heading toward bed… another day full of possibilities is on the way.  SM     


“Portraits of Downtown” Naperville Photography Exhibit to be Featured at Art and Frame Naperville

It’s been an interesting year for my artistic pursuits, especially in the photography realm.  First, the Naperville Corporate Center commissioned an installation of my black & white Downtown Naperville photographs for their 1240 Diehl Road building and now I have been approached by Art & Frame Naperville ( about featuring a full-fledged exhibit at their location on 702 West 5th Avenue (behind Naperville North High School).

My exhibit, entitled “Portraits of Downtown”, will open on Saturday evening, June 28th with a special reception from 5:00 – 8:00 PM.  I would like to personally invite each of you to join me and my family at this event to see a special collection of Downtown Naperville photograpy prints as well as an electronic presentation of my extended portfolio.

Both framed and unframed exhibited prints will be available for purchase.  In addition, you will be able to order special-sized prints and framing from my entire collection if you wish.  In a show of support to the Naperville Arts Community, 10% of all sales on June 28th will be donated to the Naperville Art League .  Again, the exhibit opens on Saturday evening, June 28th from 5:00 – 8:00 PM at Art and Frame Naperville, 702 West 5th Avenue just behind Naperville North High School. 

I look forward to meeting you for this celebration of our community on June 28th.  SM     


The Naperville Millenium Carillon – Downtown Naperville Photograph of the Week

Despite the Fall-like conditions outside today, I want to announce that signs of spring have sprung as Naperville’s own Millenium Carillon re-opened for seasonal tours today.  As a result, I thought I would post one of my photogaphs of the Carillon which provides an up-close look at the structure rising towards the sky.

If you haven’t taken a tour or the Carillon or dropped by the visitors center, I encourage you to do so. 

If you like this photograph, mark your calenders for an evening of Downtown Naperville photography on Saturday, June 28th at the Art & Frame Naperville.  This exhibit will provide you an opportunity to not only purchase photographs from my collection but also support downtown naperville causes.  Stay tuned for more information.  SM

World of Naperville Reaches 25,000 visit mark

As we all begin to awaken from our winter hibernation and begin to reconnect with our neighbors and community with summer days on the way, I’d like to pause for a moment to commemorate a milestone for the World of Naperville blog in reaching the 25,000 visit mark.

Much has happened over the past year within our community and I am in hopes with the renewal of summer on the way that we can begin to heal some of the ugly wounds Naperville has endured over a long cold and snowy winter. Between new high schools, divisive City Council feuds and a battered housing market, I’m starting to feel our community is a bit like the stretch of Aurora Ave. between Eagle Street and River Road… full of potholes. We are bigger than these isolated problems.

As I usher in the 25,000 visit, I look around our community and see that it is time to come back together with the excitement, passion and enthusiasm we have for our hometown.

We have a stretch of our beloved Riverwalk being enhanced, the Naper Main Town Center addition to downtown is underway, new restaurants are opening, the Water Street project is on the way, Centennial Beach will soon reopen with new amenities, the Carillon will be ready for visitors once again so lets all wake up and get out there to reconnect with neighbors and embrace our community. It’s time to once again show the world why Naperville is one of the best places to live in the country.

By the way, stay tuned for more information and mark your calendars for Saturday, June 28th as Art and Frame of Naperville and I will be presenting an evening of downtown Naperville photography with a portion of proceeds going to local Naperville causes. More information to follow.SM.