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Entries in scene (5)


Randolph Street Market - Tastemakers Choice for CHARITY

UPDATE: Here are the five pieces that I chose.

I love antiques (seriously, I regularly dream about old silver found in dusty rooms...anyone want to analyze that?) but I do not like antique shopping. I'm less about the hunt and more about the finished product, which is why I DO like going to the Randolph Street Market. It's absolutely huge, with hundreds of vendors displaying high-quality wares from a wide range of eras. No tramping around in countless tiny shops necessary.

This weekend is the 4th annual Editors and Designers Choice for Charity, and I'm delighted to participate again. Early on Saturday morning I'll tour the market, choose five of my favorite items, and designate them with a blue ribbon. For every "blue ribbon" item that's purchased, the Randolph Street Market makes a donation to charity. I've again chosen the Junior League of Chicago as my charity, and many other wonderful organizations will benefit, as well. Won't you join us for a little bit of shopping this weekend?




This past week was one of my favorite of the year — the National Restaurant Association, the International Wine, Spirits and Beer, and the Sweets and Snacks shows all rolled into town! (It's been known as Food/Booze/Candy Week. Hang on to your diet!)

Since I am currently heavy with child, I didn't attend the Spirits show. Not because I don't think that a pregnant woman shouldn't have a glass of wine every now and then, but because I just didn't want to deal with the quizzical stares I'd inevitably receive. It's one thing to order a malbec while sitting down at a restaurant — quite another to be eyeing vodka displays with my belly outtothere.

That's ok! The Restaurant and Sweets & Snacks shows more than made up for it! Here are some of my favorite finds from the week:

Sweets & Snacks Show

@NibMor vegan, non-GMO, and gluten free drinking choco and chocolate bars. Great texture and flavor. The drinking chocolate is great iced...not too sweet!


@popgourmet Rogue Blue Cheese Popcorn. Good bite of blue cheese, no chalky finish. Non-GMO.


@purechocolatelv gorgeous and delicious truffles. Smooth texture with fruit and spice flavors that pop. Bonus points for the friendly Latvian dudes working their booth.


@eatwhatever mints. Genius 2-step process: A gel cap for your tummy, then a mint for your mouth. Vegan, gluten and sugar free.


National Restaurant Association Show

Tasty kale snacks by @bradsrawfoods


@funleys Peanut Butter Stix in the Mud. All-natural and so delicious.


@hailmerrysnacks Miracle Tart. Vegan, Gluten free, and VERY rich, thanks to coconut oil.


@joialife sodas. Lime/Hibiscus/Clove was my favorite. Good depth of flavor, not overly sweet.


{scene} Garfield Park Conservatory: A Hidden Gem

Winter in Chicago is a long and dreary business. One thing that always saves my sanity is visiting the conservatories. Here, my eyes are filled with lush green and growing things, exotic fragrances fill the air and it’s warm and humid.

One of my favorites is the Garfield Park Conservatory tucked away on the city’s West Side. Designed by Jens Jensen, the conservatory opened in 1907. Jensen wanted to create naturalistic landscapes under glass, which gives Garfield Park a very organic feel to the spaces.

When I walk into the Palm House, my heart lifts at the sight of the huge trees brushing against the ceiling. The hyper-oxygenated air fills my lungs and I can hardly wait to find some tropical flower blooming around the next corner. 


I like to visit the Dr. Seuss-like pony tail palms in the Desert House and see the changing blossoms in the Show House. The Aroid House is filled with giant foliage and is graced by the Persian Pool filled with yellow Chihuly glass lilypads.

My favorite place, though, is the Fern Room. Here is prehistoric Illinois nestled in rocky valleys and musical waterfalls. Tree ferns and cycads stretch elegant fronds above your head. A lagoon filled with goldfish and koi reflects the saturated green of ferns, mosses, and vines. I can get lost here within moments.

Garfield Park gives me a chance to imagine new possibilities, refine ideas, and get inspiration. "We believe that plants change the way you see the world and all life on earth depends upon plants," commented Mary Eysenbach, Director of Conservatories for the Chicago Park District. "Here at the conservatory, we hope visitors take away a new way of seeing the world."

Beyond the indoor spaces, there are acres of outdoor gardens including the Monet Garden, City Garden, and Demonstration Garden. Here there are beds brimming with flowers, grasses and evergreens. Lily ponds greet you and children can explore natural areas.

Unfortunately, on June 30 2011 tragedy struck in the form a of a hailstorm that shattered 85% of the glass in the Fern Room, Show House and ten propagation greenhouses. Other rooms and halls were also damaged. The glass has been temporarily replaced with plastic panes and beginning this May, full restoration will begin.  This is a massive undertaking to replace not only the glass, but upgrade the infrastructure. There is still a need for donations and several ways you can be involved. Bryan Northup has created “Catching Hail”, beautiful fused glass pieces using the roof fragments. One Pane at a Time is the official donation campaign.

Perhaps the most fun, though, is the annual Fleurotica benefit, a runway fashion show of clothing created from plants and flowers. Held on March 23, this is a wonderful event for party-lovers.

I urge you to visit Garfield Park Conservatory and check it out for yourself. They even rent both the indoor and outdoor spaces. The neighborhood is in the midst of gentrification, so there is security present.  You can find out more about Jens Jensen and his vision at a unique exhibit at the Sterling Morton Library at The Morton Arboretum which runs through the end of the year.


Gardening by Heather Prince

Part of the Second City Soiree Contributor Series. Heather is on Twitter @FearlessGarden. Read her full bio here.



Earlier this week, the corner of State and Walton in the Gold Coast was abuzz with brides to be and lovers of lovely things when BHLDN ("Beholden") opened the doors for a preview party of their second brick-and-mortar store.

The gorgeous 3,600 square foot shop resembles a 19th century European townhouse with 15-foot ceilings, grand windows and a spiral staircase.


BHLDN partnered with Martha Stewart Weddings to host the party, with Editorial Director Darcy Miller Nussbaum in attendance!


Over 300 guests ooh'd and ahh'd over the gorgeous items.


The aforementioned staircase...


...with this lovely gown near the top. Look at the detailing!


While the first floor is for bridesmaids and occasion dresses, the second floor holds wedding gowns, accessories, and day-of decor. Angel wings adorn the coffered ceiling of the main accessory room.

And those blue walls! Stunning.


BHLDN is part of the Anthrologie/Urban Outfitters family. While there are touches of influence from both (the vintage style of Anthro and the whimsy of UO) its style is uniquely BHLDN.

These luxe shrugs definitely caught my eye. They work for the bride or for black tie.


As the evening went on, Truffleberry Market provided sustenance, along with some clever ideas for passed hors d'oeuvre displays. Below, a hat box filled with rice gives tuna cones a boost, while paper pinwheels adorn a tray of truffle pinwheels.

And yes, the sea salt peanut butter chocolate cups were as delicious as they sound.


You might be wondering if there's anything at BHLDN for the gents. Why of course! Look, they get a whole bookcase all to themselves!  :)


In the decor room I briefly chatted with Darcy Miller (pic to come!) while trying not to dart my eyes around at all the gorgeous things. Don't you just love that delicate confetti in the first picture?


In the lingerie room (yes, there's a lingerie room) I found these vases which pull double-duty as charming table markers.


Also in the lingerie room, paper artist Ruth Monsell was busy making silhouettes. I got mine done just in time...when I was finished, I looked up to see that the line had grown to huge proportions! BHLDN was certainly the place to be that night.


Back in the accessory room, I found some fabulous shoes and vintage rings...


...and lots of fascinators. The royal wedding really gave state-side milliners a boost, I think.


BHLDN's visual merchandisers deserve a round of applause. It's very easy to look at the items, thanks to museum cases such as this one.

But what about wedding dresses? Isn't this a bridal store?


Behold, the wedding gown room!


Some of my favorites are below. I'm seeing shades of Pippa in the first one.

BHLDN is at 8 East Walton in Chicago and is definitely worth a visit...even if you're not a bride!


{scene} Sneak peak: "First Look for Charity" gala menu

The Chicago Auto Show's First Look for Charity is one of the city's most prominent galas, donating more than 31 million dollars to local charities since its inception. Held right on the auto show floor, attendees in black-tie get an exclusive "sneak peek" of the Chicago Auto Show, before doors open to the public.

Last week I tooled around town on a menu tour for this spectacular fundraiser, sampling bites from Savor (the new caterer at McCormick Place), Fogo de Chao, Wildfire, David Burke's PRIMEHOUSE. They're among the many restaurants donating their time and talent to First Look. Each establishment will serve 5,000 pieces at 45 food stations, totalling 90 different food items. See the full menu here, and drool over the photos below.

Tickets are $250 each, with a whopping 90% going directly to eighteen local charities. Sounds like a win-win...I'll see you there! (Oh, and don't wear painful shoes. There's quite a bit of walking to do.)

First Look For Charity
February 9, 2012
McCormick Place
Black-tie attire
Buy tickets here

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