Week #3 – Terra Incognito Studios

After our breakfast at Marion Street Cheese Market, Melissa, Jill, Katherine, and I headed over to Terra Incognito Studios in Oak Park. We each purchased a Groupon for a lace plate pottery class, which they hold on Friday nights and Sunday mornings.

I wanted to try my hand at pottery for awhile because I’m looking for a hobby. I’m 30 years old, and I feel like I don’t have “a thing.” I’ve crocheted, it takes me forever to read a book (I blame it on the fact that I’m a “visual person”), and I’m just an average cook.

I was struggling with my lack of hobbies when we went to my boss Amy’s house for an off-site retreat. She had so much beautiful pottery in her home…and she made it herself! I was impressed and wanted to give it a try, so when this Groupon came across my radar, I was game. I was excited to have some company too.

Back to Terra Incognito. We rushed right into class because we got there at 11 a.m. on the dot. There were about 12 of us in the class: two young girls, a father and his two daughters, some girl friends, and us. Barb was our teacher, and she had the greatest personality. So sarcastic, yet patient. She explained the entire process, and spread out dozens of lace patterns on the table. She gave us each a slab of clay, and we then rolled our lace patterns into the clay with a rolling pin. My lace pattern was delicate (don’t miss the photos below!), so Barb said she’d help me. I tend to overthink things, so having Deb’s guidance was much appreciated.

After the lace was rolled into the clay, Deb added a piece of newspaper to the bottom, and I transferred to another table to paint. I decided to go easy my first time around, and stuck with one color for my lace design: pine green. The clay will turn from gray to cream once fired, and I thought pine green and cream would look nice with my existing collections. (Oh, did I mention I’m obsessed with tabletop? I love glassware! Earthenware! Porcelain! That could be a post on it’s own…)

Once I finished painting the clay green, I pulled the lace off to reveal—ta daaaa!—a beautifully painted lace pattern on the plate. The only choice after that was to make the plate flat or “fluffy” as Barb called it, and I chose fluffy to give the plate some curved edges.

This class was the most fun I’ve had in awhile. The ability to be creative in a new medium was exciting. What’s great about art is that you can freely express yourself and never be wrong. I really like that. Everyone’s plates turned out pretty, and each one reflected its designer’s personality. Although I opted for simple this time (with an intricate pattern), I know I’ll be back to try something a little more daring next time.

I think all of us gals had a great time, and even talked about having a potluck, each bringing a dish on our new plates! Terra Incognito also allows you to bring a bottle of wine while you work on your pottery (I smell a girls’ night!), and offer a variety of classes for all age groups, private parties too! They also sell beautiful pottery in the front of the studios.

Do yourself a favor: Find something that allows you to express yourself in a way you never thought you could. You just might surprise yourself, like this pottery class did for me.

Terra Incognito Studios
246 Chicago Ave
Oak Park

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Week #3 – Marion Street Cheese Market

My sister-in-law Melissa, friends Jill and Katherine, and I purchased a Groupon months ago for a pottery class at Terra Incognito Studios in Oak Park, just west of the city. Our class was on Sunday morning at 11 a.m., and I thought it would be nice to have breakfast before class—who can concentrate on an empty stomach?

I’ve never been to Oak Park, so I wasn’t sure where to go. I did a little online research and stumbled upon Marion Street Cheese Market, which is just a 5-minute drive from the pottery studio, near the Metra stop in downtown Oak Park. The menu looked delicious, offering a little something for everyone. (I’m lactose intolerant, and Katherine is vegetarian.)

It was very easy to get to Marion Street Cheese Market from 290. The entrance to the restaurant is through the market, which was like heaven on earth for cheese lovers. It also had an excellent wine and craft beer selection, as well as candies and artisan foods. More on that later…

We were seated quickly at 9:30 am, at a table near the fireplace. We noticed a little stage in the corner near our table, which is where the restaurant hosts Jazz musicians! (Events are listed on their website.)

Along with my chamomile tea, I opted for the Classic, which comes with two farm eggs (mine were scrambled), choice of meat (ham for me), spinach (lesser of two evils, ha) or tomato, and toast (mine was rye). Melissa also ordered the Classic, while Katherine and Jill ordered different versions of the baked french toast.

Our food arrived pretty quickly, and my meal was very good. I was pleased to see equal amounts of eggs, ham, and sauteed spinach on my plate. The eggs were smooth and buttery, and it was just what I needed before the class. I have to tell you, I also peeked over at a table near us, where a woman had ordered a glass of champagne and a cheese flight. It seemed a little early for this decadent combo (no judgement!); however, this delightful-looking pairing was just one reason I want to return to Marion Street Cheese Market once my self-declared no dairy January is over.

The other reason I’ll be back is the market portion of this great establishment. I ended up purchasing a mini bottle of champagne (to celebrate the end of no dairy January, ha!) and some soft caramels (the passion fruit mango had me hooked with one bite). What I also loved about the market was its nibblers, or small samples you could buy to get a taste of many different cheeses—very excited about this idea!

I plan on returning to Marion Street Cheese Market. The bistro is perfect for date night or family breakfast, and I loved the market for its gourmet selection. (Really want to make a gift basket for someone here too!)

Don’t miss out on this neighborhood gem!

Marion Street Cheese Market
100 S. Marion Street
Oak Park

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