Raves and Faves 27

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My daughters and I went on a wedding dress safari in Chicago last week, and UPS is delivering the lacy trophy in the next few days. The process couldn’t have been more pleasant at BHLDN‘s shop on East Walton Street. Last born and I settled on a velvet settee in a large fitting room, sipping from petite cans of Sofia blanc de blancs through rosy straws as we watched a parade of wedding dresses go by. First born is the bride-to-be, and while I helpfully rated at least three of the dresses she tried on as my absolute, best-ever top pick, the gown she ultimately chose was obviously The One from the get-go. Kind of like the guy she’s marrying in December.

BHLDN is a division of Anthropologie, the clothing and household goods company with a bohemian flair. Both retailers feature unique, artistic displays and store decor. Gilded angel wings, formerly props from an old London theater, were suspended from the ceiling of the Chicago shop, and I was enchanted.

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Chrissy Teigen’s Instagram feed. Normally, I wouldn’t pay much attention to what a super model eats and drinks (goodbye butter, sugar, flour, nuts, and alcohol), but this young woman is different. She loves good food, and she makes food that looks incredibly delicious. My breakfast today was copied from a photo she posted on Instagram yesterday, and the recipe was simply a list of ingredients in the comments: two fried eggs, avocado mashed with chili flakes, tomatoes, and prosciutto, all piled on a slice of whole grain toast. Gosh, was it ever tasty.

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My breakfast today: delicious.

Chrissy’s Instagram feed is about a mix of things, so along with shots of what she’s cooking, you get some Hollywood glamour, a view of the jet-set life she leads with her husband John Legend, photos of her beloved dogs, and lots of sheer goofiness. Be warned: sometimes her language is coarse and her photos racy, but the majority of what she posts you could share with your mother. In fact, Chrissy’s mother is in a lot of them. Chrissy’s coming out with a cookbook soon, and I can’t wait to add it to my collection.

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Rooftop gardens. This oasis is planted atop one of the buildings of Loyola University Chicago’s downtown campus.  I so wanted to walk that path.

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New music on my iPod is both young (“Welcome to Cam Country,” by Cam, released in March 2015) and old (“Q’s Jook Joint,” by Quincy Jones, released in November 1995).

Cam is singer/songwriter Cameron Ochs of Nashville, by way of California. She’s been contributing songs to the albums of other artists for a while but now is enjoying the first crest of personal fame. This debut EP is a fantastic start.

To learn the names of the artists who contributed to “Q’s Jook Joint,” you gotta Google it, because the album notes on iTunes only mention Jones. You don’t need help recognizing the distinctive voices of some, like Stevie Wonder, but you might need a hint or two to identify others who haven’t been on Top 40 radio stations in a while, like Brandy, Chaka Khan, and Patti Austin. Bono’s there, too, as is Shaquille O’Neal (?) and Barry White. (When White takes the mic, go ahead and send the kids out of the room, because the double entendres pile up.) But overall, this is wonderful music. Oh, my goodness, the sax solos on the third cut: so good.

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The Lay/N/Go makeup bag by Cosmo. Undo the drawstring top and the bag opens flat, displaying all your compacts, brushes, and pencils on a clean and dry fabric base. Pull the strings tight, and everything is contained within a small pouch. It’s wonderfully efficient and machine-washable, priced at about $27.00 on Amazon.com. I’ve used mine for years. (The company makes a similar bag for kids’ toys, too!)

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Crown Fountain at Millennium Park in Chicago. Watching kids frolic in the water was as entertaining as seeing the faces smile, blink, and metamorphose on the 50-foot glass block towers that bookend a shallow, black granite reflecting pool. This is public art at its best. That giant silver bean (“Cloud Gate”) is no slouch, either.

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Chaste Trees (Vitex agnus-castus)I planted one in a big pot on the backyard deck this summer. Its purply-blue flowers are a magnet for butterflies and hummingbirds, it’s easy to grow, and it’s well-suited to summer heat. Neighborhood hummers had it staked out the instant the first bloom appeared. Click here to read an overview of this great plant choice by Steve Bender of Southern Living magazine.

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Gin and tonics – my current obsession, no doubt because of the excellent ones made by the bartender at The Pizzeria at Terry’s Finer Foods in Little Rock. I love the nuanced flavors of cucumbers and rose petals in Hendrick’s gin, but I won’t make my next G&T with the tonic water in the photo above. Too bitter!

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I’m not on any health food kick (see above entry), but I really like this sandwich combination: sliced cucumbers on whipped tofu or cream cheese spread on pumpernickel bread. The color combination is as appealing as the taste. Come to think of it, maybe I’m on a cucumber kick.

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I’m on nobody’s payroll. Everything on this list is wonderful on its own merits and was either free to anyone (viewing the public art in Chicago) or paid for by me at regular retail prices, except for my daughter’s beautiful wedding dress. She bought it herself. 

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