Interactive Show at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago Created a Scent From Your Thoughts


“Will you blindfold me?,” I asked the tall guy standing next to me.

He took the blindfold and looped it around my face, securing it at the back of my head.

“Is this too tight?,” he checked in with me.

I extended my arms to the left of me to grab for the wall. I could feel him anticipating my fall, but it was easier to stand blindfolded then I thought.

I felt alone. But, I wasn’t. In a crowded room of around 100 people, we all waited to hear the bell strike three times before we could remove our black cloth blindfolds and orange ear plugs.


There was pop art, there was surrealism, and there were blindfolds for a special night at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (220 E. Chicago Ave.).

Magician, Jeanette Andrews’ free experimental illusions performance and interactive set, Thresholds on January 26, 2016 from 6:00-7:00 pm, wowed crowds. Using a combination of research in philosophy, psychology, and art, Andrews drew in the crowd with her personality, but kept them there with her mind, and most importantly—by blowing their minds.

Museum goers received a one-time demonstration on the stage and in their hands.

Andrews’ presentation helped the audience to see their senses in a new light and have a little fun with magic.

Dressed in a short-sleeved black top, everything about her felt genuine, and yet surreal.

Below is the kit we each received during the interactive, perceptual illusion presentation.

Creating a Scent From Fiji Water + Your Thoughts:

The most exciting part of the Thresholds presentation was when she brought an audience member to the stage and during the demonstration, the audience member could smell the scent that she was thinking.

What was scarier, was that the audience smelled it, too.

Using just Fiji water and a spray container, she prepared the fragrance. Everyone wrote down a scent—their favorite or a particularly pungent smell—on an index card and passed them to the stage.

Andrews flipped through the cards and gave kudos to the “sawdust” and “Doritos” scent.

The audience member on stage drew a card that read “lemonade”. Andrews sprayed the bottle, and the volunteer gasped. It smelled like lemons.

We didn’t chant “lemonade” or meditate on it. It was an instantaneous motion of drawing a card and spraying a bottle.

Can we really re-create a smell through our minds? All of us—at the same time?

Andrews went around the crowd and sprayed it and it did, it smelled not slightly, but strongly of lemons.

Towards the end of the night, the old lady behind me whispered to her husband, “I think I need a drink.”

Andrews wasn’t done drawing in the crowd with her charismatic personality. She used cards and blindfolds to create further shock-and-awe.

For a taste of the Thresholds show, add Windy City Cosmo (Username: Rationalization) on Snapchat. Hurry, like magic, it will disappear by 7:30 pm tonight!


Art Museum Exhibits:

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago has some incredible and vibrant art exhibits. One of the most eye-catching art exhibit is the pop art collection on the top floor that includes Campbell Soup, Andy Warhol works of Jackie O., and  sexism in advertising. Museum goers can be part of the art by sitting in the pop art lounge with a big red lip couch and other pop art inspired furnishings made from Herman Miller, a Midwest furniture manufacturer.


Oh, and did you see everyone on social media going to the Oval Office? There was one installment in the “Kathryn Andrews Runs for President” exhibit, where you walked around a cylinder and could take a selfie in the Oval Office.



Dec 19, 2015Mar 27, 2016



Dec 19, 2015Mar 27, 2016

A black and white image of a laughing clown appears on a panel of red, white, and blue vertical stripes inside a gray frame. Inside the frame, above the image, a cubbyhole is filled with holiday lights and campaign buttons in red, white, and blue sections that mirror the stripes below.


Nov 21, 2015May 8, 2016


Nov 21, 2015Jun 5, 2016


Sep 1, 2015Jul 10,2016


Sep 19, 2015Mar 6,2016

An illustration of a black column with a letter form covered in patterns spelling "Hi" protruding from the top



Aug 25, 2015Jan 31,2016


Free Chicago Art Museum Day:

Every Tuesday night is a free night for Illinois residents at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago located directly behind Michigan Ave’s shopping mall, Water Tower Place. Plus, the museum is open for extended hours, until 8:00 pm on Tuesday nights.

For more information about upcoming shows by Jeanette Andrews, visit her website.


Chicago Women Help You Give a Homemade Holiday Gift

Put down that generic Christmas mug.

The movers and makers are here to create a beautiful and personal touch to your holiday hostess presents and gift exchanges.


Susie makes homemade soap. Photo: Amanda Elliott

For this holiday season, a local chapter of a creative group for women, SheSays Chicago, hosted an open marketplace at the Comedy Bar above Gino’s East River North (500 North LaSalle Street). Lead Organizer, Jen Lemerand, along with  Elisha-Rio Apilado, Suzanne Cohen, Erin Coleman, Julie Goldsberry and Beckie O’Connor, reached out to SheSays Chicago members and friends to round-up freelancers and women business owners for this open market.

It was an opportunity for women makers and creators in Chicago to show off their Pinterest-worthy homemade totes, soaps, jewelry and more.

I want to introduce you to a few of my favorite creators from the event, who can help you with your holiday shopping!

For your friends with kids (or your kids):

Are you traveling to Chicago with kids or are you looking for activities after the holiday feast this weekend?


Chicago Tiny Travels Tote Bags. Photo: Amanda Elliott

Creator, Brittany Campbellwas standing at The Louvre in Paris and noticed that kids weren’t enjoying their experience.

“It would be awesome to have something on their level that told them how awesome of a place that they are,” Campbell told me.

She decided to create something on a kid’s level for them to appreciate the tourist attractions beautiful places and iconic buildings in various cities including Paris, London, and Chicago.

Her Chicago Tiny Travel Guidebooks offer an interactive fun experience with passport stickers for kids traveling to museums, parks, and landmarks in Chicago. You can shop here for children guide books, pins, and a messenger bag.

Campbell is very creative and also has an Etsy shop, where she sells homemade pillows made from t-shirts sourced from thrift stores and her very closet.

The story starts with a problem, as all things do. Campbell wanted to make gifts for kids she babysat. She came up with the idea from Disney t-shirts in her closet, which she turned into homemade pillows for them.

They are soft—so soft. Who knew snuggling with your clothes could be a thing?

Shop at Free People without the Price Tag:

We all want a new look for a new year or for a holiday party.

Hope Nardini, Hazel Vintage Co. owner, found a way to give you that look for less.

Elbow patch cardigan


Elbow patch cardigan by hazel vintage co-featuring bronze makeup

“I usually charge about 50 percent of what they charge,” said Nardini, who shops from the same showroom in LA as popular women’s clothing stores, like Free People and Akira.

What’s even better is that her clothes are made of cotton or cotton blend so you can handwash or machine wash them. (See my pile of dry clean only items on that chair in the corner).

Honestly, I interviewed Hope and then talked to others at the event who were telling me about tartan scarves, which are multi-use blanket scarves, that they purchased. Every winter I say that I want a thousand blankets to be wrapped around me. So, I went back to the Hazel Vintage Co. and went shopping. And seriously, I’m just one of the many, like Chicago fashion blogger, Lauren Nelson, who can’t get enough of them.

Shop Hazel Vintage Co. looks on Polyvore and Pinterest, where she receives a lot of site traffic, or the Hazel Vintage Co. website.

As a bonus, four of her friends modeled the clothes for Hazel Vintage Co. in Lincoln Park and the Lincoln Park Conservatory for a true Chicago feel.

Give The Gift of Clean:

Susie Jendro loves soap. That’s how she introduced herself the first time I met her at a SheSays Chicago event this past spring.


Swoon Soap at SheSays Chicago event. Photo: Amanda Elliott

As an entrepreneur, I know you are supposed to be passionate about your product, but I haven’t met anyone as passionate about soap as Jendro, who started her research in the library.

Her brand is Swoon Soap. You can shop Bird & Baby, an unscented soap, which ironically smelled really good to me. This soap is made with goat meal, goat’s milk, honey, and yoghurt. I have yet to try it, but I did buy it at the event.
She has a few other varieties including 100 percent coconut oil soap and Lord of the Ring’s soap.

“I enthusiastically celebrate the entire works of Tolkien,” Jendor writes on her website,  “and have found much inspiration in the vivid descriptions of his various characters and landscapes.”

For the Cubs Fan:


Creative, Lacey Schmitt with a Cubs mural. Photo: Amanda Elliott

Lacey Schmitt has an Etsy shop for her artwork. She adds a Chicago-centric theme with murals made from Cubs paraphernalia including  these Cubs earrings made from Chicago Cubs baseball tickets.

Schmitt has various other jewelry made from recycled items for your eco-friendly friends.

Chicago Women Vendors:

Unfortunately, if you are like me, creating pretty things, is not as easy as it looks on Instagram and Pinterest.

I let the experts use their talents to give that added personal touch to hosts and friends this holiday season. And you can, too.

Here’s a list of Chicago vendors, who participated in the SheSays Chicago event.

Help the environment; help yourselves. And, best of all, help women entrepreneurs in your city, Chicago.

Happy holiday shopping!


BeBuddha Jewelry at SheSays Chicago event. Photo: Amanda Elliott

For more information about SheSays Chicago, please visit the SheSays website or read a past recap of SheSays Chicago events.


Explore Chicago Neighborhoods: Chinatown

There are so many neighborhoods to explore. While every city seems to have a Chinatown, Chicago’s south side neighborhood is worth a day trip. Chinatown is nice to explore because all of the main attractions are pretty close to each other and it is easily accessible from the CTA Redline. Though the neighborhood is odd-shaped, you can easily navigate north and south on S. Wentworth Ave. and east to west on Cermak Ave.

First Stop: Chinatown Square: Zodiac & Chinese Food

To start you Chinatown adventure, get off at the Cermak-Chinatown Redline station and head north on S. Wentworth Ave. to S. Archer Ave. Here you will easily find the iconic Chinatown Square, a multi-level retail and restaurant space as well as meeting area and event space. The Chinatown Square was constructed in 1993 and includes the famous hand-made mural, which focuses on Chinese immigration to the United States. It’s also fun to check out your zodiac sign and take a picture next to your sign’s statue.

While you are there, grab lunch at one of the authentic restaurants on the strip. I would recommend MingHin Cuisine (2168 S Archer Ave) for fried rice or Lao Beijing (2138 S. Archer Ave.), which is a great spot to order different dishes and share a family styled meal.

Lunch in Chinatown at MingHin Cuisine Photo: Amanda Elliott

Lunch in Chinatown at MingHin Cuisine Photo: Amanda Elliott

On my last trip to Chinatown, we went to The Phoenix (2131 S. Archer Ave.), which is across the street from Chinatown Square. There, we enjoyed a traditional Dim Sum meal. Dim Sum, according to The Phoenix restaurant means “dot-hearts,” small treats that touch the heart. There is a special Dim Sum menu. In a group, you write in a tally for each dish and the owner suggested that we order 3-4 dishes each, which we quickly learned was a lot of food.

Popular plates ordered included: mochi, ribs, chicken feet, pig intestines, and egg rolls. The mochi was different than the cold, ice-cream filled dessert I had tasted before. This one was soft, and dough-like with dark chocolate-colored, paste-like filling. It was an enigma to us. We ordered four plates of ribs (I was on a college tour). The ribs were petite, with a fingernail portion of meat per bone, but they were tender, and we had two plates for leftovers. Some were brave enough to try the chicken feet, which, as you can imagine, were bony. The only real part you could consume was the skin. It wasn’t bad, but I wouldn’t eat it again. After two cups of tea and two hours later, we were ready to continue our tour.

Chicken Feet during Dim Sum Photo: Amanda Elliott

Chicken Feet during Dim Sum Photo: Amanda Elliott

A group of 14 enjoyed Dim Sum at Phoenix Restaurant Photo: Amanda Elliott

A group of 14 enjoyed Dim Sum at Phoenix Restaurant Photo: Amanda Elliott

Second Stop: Nine Dragon Wall

After lunch, head south to the Nine Dragon Wall (158 W. Cermak Road). You passed it on your way in, but Chinese food was calling. So, walk back. It’s across the street from the giant Chinese Gate currently calling your name. The wall serves as a welcome sign to Chinatown. There is a map with all of the highlights next to it. The wall itself, was completed in 2003 and is a replica of a wall in Beijing. The Nine Dragon Wall has nine large dragons and 500 smaller dragons. In Chinese culture, the number nine has magical powers and dragons are a sacred animal. This monument adds feng shui to Chinatown according to the Chinese American Museum, as it brings positive energy to the negative energy of the ramp from 1-55.

Third Stop: Chinatown Gate

Cross S. Wentworth Ave. and you will arrive at the Chinatown Gate. This gate marks the beginning of Chinatown’s Mag Mile. Chinatown Gate was designed by Peter Fung, and it was also inspired by a Beijing wall. At the top of the gate are four Chinese words, which are translated into “the world belongs to the commonwealth”.

Fourth Stop: Pui Tak Center

On your right, immediately walking past the Chinatown Gate, stop and look up. You will see My Little Ponies and Hello Kitty on the street level, but when you look up, you will see the Pui Tak Center (2216 S. Wentworth Ave.). This center was built in the 1920s. Take a minute to take in the building’s details include terra-cotta walls and pagodas. Pagoda is an architectural style that originates in Southeast Asia. It is an iconic embellishment to Chinese architecture, easily spotted by a multi-tiered tower. Most buildings with pagodas have a religious affiliation, especially Buddhism. The building serves as faith-based social service agency by the Chinese Christian Union Church that serves over 3,000 individuals each year. Classes include immigration services, Christian school, computer skills, and Adult ESL tutoring.

Fifth Stop: Chinese American Museum

The final stop of the tour is two blocks south and to the right on 23rd street. It will feel like you are walking down a neighborhood street, but alas, you will see two lions, smaller, but in some ways similar to the lions outside of the Art Institute. You have arrived at the Chinese American Museum (238 W 23rd St.). Like most museums, it has a permanent collection as well as special exhibits. It serves as an important piece of Chinese culture and information about Chinese immigration not only for Chicago, but for the entire Midwest. The museum also offers special Chinese classes such as Chinese cooking. Just three years after opening, the Chinese American Museum was closed in 2008 due to a fire and reopened in the fall of 2011. Admission is a suggested donation of $5.

I hope you enjoy your day in Chicago’s Chinatown. If you have the chance, stop by the river front or attend one of the many events and celebrations. My favorite is the dragon boat racing in the summer.


Chicagoans Gather at Lake Michigan to Watch the Supermoon Lunar Eclipse 2015

On Sunday, September 27, 2015 Chicagoans gathered at Lake Michigan near Foster Beach to watch the Supermoon LSupermoon Lunar Eclipse at the Lake Michigan Photo: Amanda Elliottunar Eclipse from 8:00 pm until 10:00 pm CST. The crowd grew around 9:00 pm, when the clouds started to part like the Red Sea. The eclipse started around 8:07 pm, allowing for the crowd to catch the ending of the lunar eclipse, with a sliver of the moon disappearing quickly. The moon became smaller and smaller and then hid behind a new patch of clouds.

When the moon reappeared, it transformed into a burnt orange color.

The Supermoon Lunar Eclipse was special because it was the first time since 1982 that the moon experienced an eclipse and a supermoon at the same time. This two-fold event is expected to reoccur in 2033.

The Marshall Space Flight Center offered special viewings of the moon at various locations in America including the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.

In the words of Vincent Van Gogh:

“I know nothing with any certainty. But the sight of the stars makes me dream.”


Obsurca Day Chicago Events: Discover the Wonders of the World in Your World

Start discovering the wonders in your world on Saturday, May 30, 2015 for Obscura Day. Obscura Day is one day of events in 25 countries and 39 states to ignite curious minds throughout the world. It is part of a larger project, Atlas Obscura, an initiative that believes there are things and places yet to be discovered.

If you are in Chicago, or surrounding suburbs, see the list of activities including letter writing, art, exploring springs and gardens.

Register Now through Eventbrite to reserve your spot. There are limited tickets available to these free Chicago events.


The Grounds of Graceland Cemetery

Chicago, Illinois

Stroll amongst the dead and the artwork that commemorates their passing.

Walking in the Footsteps of Leopold and Loeb

Chicago, Illinois

Join us as we revisit what was called “The Crime of the Century”.

Explore the Busy Beaver Button Company

Chicago, Illinois

Busy Beaver is the button maker to the world. Now you can see just how they do it.

Fishes of the Field Museum

Chicago, Illinois

Join us for an exclusive tour of the Field Museum’s Piscine Collection.

The Art of Letter Writing

Chicago, Illinois

Enjoy exclusive access to the Letter Writers Alliance Club House in celebration of Obscura Day.

The International Museum of Surgical Science

Chicago, Illinois

Join us for a special tour of this unique museum and the mansion that houses it.


Underwater Wonders of Mermet Springs

Belknap, Illinois

Visit this unexpected diver’s paradise without getting wet!

Behind the Scenes at the Blue Waters Supercomputer

Champaign, Illinois

Join us for exclusive access to one of the world’s most powerful computing centers.

Catching a Flick at Route 66’s Last Drive-In

Litchfield, Illinois

Since 1950, the summer skies of Litchfield have been filled with Hollywood.

Caravanning Illinois’ Route 66

Route 66, Illinois

Join us as we explore the first 300 miles of the mother road.

Exploring Chicago’s Baha’i Temple

Wilmette, Illinois

The Baha’i faith welcomes everyone to find peace in their beautiful temple and gardens.

For more information about Chicago events or to find MORE obscura day events, visit Atlas Obscura.


Event Location: Everywhere

Event Host: Atlas Obscura

Event Date and Time: Saturday, May 30, 2015

Discovered Through: David Plotz on Slate’s Political Gabfest

Bonus: Discover something new

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.