gwendolyn faith is not a crayon.

Hello, I’m Gwen.

I work in advertising. I play in the kitchen.

I’m part tweenager. (Look at my iTunes playlist.)

I’m part Grandma. (Look at my oversize cardi collection.)

I’m part Romy or Michelle. (Look at the height of my hair.)

As a Christian, I'm learning how to glorify God in the everyday. To live into the status quo, like Jesus' own Manchurian candidate, and seep grace through its cracks.

I wish my life were a musical, but other than that, I’m pretty content.

(No surprise I also like to Yelp.)

The Casual Vacancy
The Explicit Gospel
Gone Girl
The Chaperone
Cutting for Stone

Gwen Daniels's favorite books »

Posts tagged "chicago"

A big brunch with two plates of chilaquiles at Tiztal Cafe to celebrate a Sara Jane’s birthday.

A long walk to window-shop in Andersonville.

A cookout at Foster Beach to say goodbye to a friend on the move.

A field trip to YMCA Camp Duncan with the Littles, who were in adorable awe of the woods.

A day trip with a 3:00 wake-up call to a partner agency’s office in NYC.

An afternoon of field research.

A dinner at Parson’s Chicken and Fish with the small group girls in honor of Sara Jane.

A batch of the Barefoot Contessa’s coconut cupcakes with a rich white cake that’s one for the books.

A full day’s meeting with the clients in town.

A hearty helping of schnitzel + more at the Radler with the whole team.

A lot, a lot, of work in between.

Somehow my parents left Chicago without a single photograph together during our perfect whirlwind visit last week! During their four-day weekend in the city, Dad, Mom and I visited the Magritte exhibit at the Art Institute, took the Chicago Architectural Foundation’s boat tour, and saw Sandra Oh in the Victory Gardens Theater’s production of Death and the Maiden. (Yes, we stayed for the discussion led by a staff member after the show.) We ate hotdogs and chopped salads at Portillo’s in River North and risotto and churros at Dusek’s in Pilsen. And when we weren’t playing tourist, we walked around the neighborhood, took care of chores around the apartment and watched some HGTV. On Saturday morning, Dad even made his biscuits, better than almost anything else in the world. I wish we could share the Windy City all the time!

We have templates that we superimpose on Chicago and places like it. These templates distort the ways violence comes to bear on individual lives, obscure the patterns that come with that violence, and shape the ways we think about ameliorating it. These are each human-scale tragedies worthy of human-scale consideration. To really understand what happened in Chicago last weekend, we have to be able both to see those shootings as mass shootings, and to see the lives they shatter.
Gene Demby in the powerful NPR Code Switch blog post What We Talk About When We Talk About Violence in Chicago


Fireworks over Navy Pier.

Beautiful! Can we please extend the holiday weekend?! I didn’t get enough afternoons at the beach or lunch and dinner dates with my girlfriends.


Oh summer storms. #chicago #hideyokids #lightening #eek

As if we’d let Rebba move to Knoxville for her public defense fellowship without a celebratory send-off! Sara Jane, Sarina, Hannah and I planned a Before-the-Bar Crawl for Rebba and all her friends around the Six Corners of Wicker Park. Although we didn’t crawl as much as we planned, Chop Shop and Revel Room made perfect spots for a night out—especially since Revel Room has added a dance floor with lots of ’90s pop and rap!

{PS: I found a new favorite kale salad—yes, again—in Chop Shop’s Wilted Kale Salad with shaved cremini mushrooms, Parmesan and balsamic vinaigrette, almost fluffy in texture and topped with a jiggling soft-boiled egg.}

Sara Jane, Sarina, Erin and I danced swiped the night away at Interfaith House’s 20th Anniversary Gala, selling raffle tickets and taking donations with PayPal readers that attached to our iPhones. An independent secular organization founded in 1994 by religious leaders from many walks of faith, Interfaith House provides residential care for homeless men and women in medical recovery.

Thanks, Chicago, for the gorgeous weekend weather! I celebrated 80° with a trip to the farmer’s market, brunches with some sweet girlfriends, drinks at the J. Parker on the rooftop of the Hotel Lincoln and dinner on the rooftop of the Sharps’ condo. After only a day or two, I’d take another weekend right about now.

Since moving to Chicago, I’ve gotten to know several incredible non-profit organizations through friends who contribute in wonderful ways. I’m especially excited about Interfaith House, where my friend Christine works in development. Founded by religious leaders from many walks of faith, Interfaith House provides residential care for homeless men and women in medical recovery.

As their 20th anniversary approaches, the Interfaith House team released a 90-second video that celebrates the life-changing work at the House. Have a watch to see for yourself!


Dinner at Yoshu in Logan Square. Crispy chicken skin, grilled oyster, squid salad, gobo root, striploin with shishito, grilled mochi.

On Saturday I celebrated my birthday at Yusho with some of my favorite friends! I’ve been craving Yusho since my last birthday, when we couldn’t get a table. (My mouth started watering with the Trib’s review: “If one thinks of Japanese foods as exercises in subtlety, Yusho will be a rude—make that exhilarating—awakening,” food critic Phil Vettel wrote. “Merges’ dishes have all the subtlety of a jackhammer. These are big, powerful, in-your-face flavors, and your culinary journey … is apt to be a wild ride indeed.”)

Luckily, we made up for lost time at my birthday dinner! Between the eight of us, we tried:

Chicken Skin with Japanese mustard and garlic
Twice-Fried Chicken with kanzuri, matcha and lime
Duck Leg with Umeboshi, a Japense BBQ sauce
Pickles of cucumber, carrot and lotus root
Endive with watermelon radish, soy nuts and cured egg
Pork Belly with Okonomiyaki, a Japanese pancake
Beef Tongue with horseradish, potatoes and ginger
Blood Sausage Steam Buns with red pepper and cauliflower
Eggplant Steam Buns with peanuts and broccoli raab
A few specials that weren’t on the menu

Thank goodness for friends who are adventurous eaters, right?! And even beyond our menu selections, I was reminded I’ve found a group of girlfriends who are thoughtful, fun and dedicated to our community and our world. Xo!