Mar 27, 2012

pride and passion tuesday / the 8th wonder of the world

Are you ready to have your mind blown!? The A&R is the 8th wonder of the world.
Walk into the shop and the plethora of goodies, the friendly staff, and the sweet sounds of Louie Armstrong will transport you out of your hectic day to a world of simple delights!
Far from the sleepy, dusty antique shop, this Place Rocks! Every corner is full with the most unsuspected treasure and that includes their shop pet Harpo, a lovely standard puddle that likes to accessorize as much as the staff.
Suzanne founded the business in 1976 beginning a lifelong love affair with vintage coolness and wacky retro. Her business partner, Jules, started out as a frequent customer of the Shop. She soon found herself compulsively organizing the chaos and building wonderfully creative displays of merchandise.
Thus began a long lasting friendship and partnership that endures to this day.
They have one of the largest selection of vintage costume jewelry in Chicago,and all neatly displayed by color, they also carry women’s vintage clothing, furs, coats, hats, purses and shoes. Suzanne and Juels treat getting dressed each day as performance art. They are often decked out in a variety of eras all at once. One day they might be inspired by the Deco Days, and the next they are Geisha Gals. Dealers and collectors agree, "Don't tell anyone about this place!" Go discover why they are such a closely held secret. You don't need a secret password to visit, just a treasure map.
All the little details, the vintage brooches neatly organized and separated by color, the music, the fun and the laughter, pride and passion, this is why the A&R ladies inspire us!

Mar 25, 2012

goodness is meant to be shared

Sunday mornings at my parents house should be jarred. The sweet smells of fresh sauce (yes we call it sauce, gravy goes on mashed potatoes) swafting in the air speaks of family, fun and laughter.
If you ask any Italian the tomato used makes the sauce. We are always searching for that perfect jar.

As a child I remember harvest time, and the whole family getting together at my aunt Teresa's house to can tomatoes for the year. My job was to put two leaves of basil in each bottle and once in a while they let me have a spin of the seed strainer. I'm not sure why, but we canned it in champagne bottles and my uncles were in charge of the corking apparatus.

  At the end of the day there was always fresh pasta and wine, loquat fruit and figs from my aunt's trees, and great memories made.

This all took place in Buenos Aires where I was born, my parents immigrated from Italy as teenagers and now we live in the states and are constantly searching for that feeling of gathering and family and what better way then sharing a meal.

I hit the tomato mother load when I picked up a bottle of Bionaturae strained tomatoes at Wholefoods. This could quiet possibly be the best thing to happen to Italians since Jersey Shore! Is it the bottle? Is it the tomato? Not sure, but it rocks! You have to try it, it's sweet and it coats your pasta like nobodies business.
This is how we make our marinara, its simple and light.

2 bottles of Bionaturae
1 medium yellow onion
1 large clove of garlic
5 leaves of FRESH basil
4 table spoons of olive oil
salt and red crushed pepper to taste

Dice onion and saute in olive oil at medium heat.
mince garlic and add once onion is translucent. Stir
for about a minute and add 2 bottles of Bionaturae,
 Be sure NOT to burn onion and garlic, if you do
start over again! Fill the bottle of Bionaturae with water  and stir in. Add  chopped basil and salt and red crushed pepper to taste.  Simmer uncovered for one hour at medium low heat. Toss with some beautiful parppadelle pasta, sprinkle some Parmesan
 and Brava! Sunday meal! Don't forget to put a few
stems in the sweet bottle to finish off your table :)

Mar 22, 2012

confessions of a florist

Please don't judge me, I'm about to bear my soul..... I steal clippings...I do, and am ashamed...sometimes.
I can't help myself, there is not a pod, a twig, or a berry safe around these parts. I once waited until a Starbucks closed to hit the gorgeous, loaded bushes, full of berries, with a beautiful shade of  black~ blue.

Tree pods, odd greenery,  grasses, you name it, I've clipped it. If  it will look amazing in someone's wedding and not available for purchase, I go for it!
It's terrible, I know! I justify this by restricting myself to common areas, parks, big chain stores, plazas and parkways; pretending all along that real people don't own these...what? I hear myself, but it doesn't register.
 I think I may need an intervention, just this morning I stole magnolia blooms in broad daylight! Thinking I may have hit my rock bottom. Am I the only one? Please, someone confess!

Now take a look at these berries! Amazing right? Does it help that I confessed to the bride?

Mar 20, 2012

happy spring

Happy Spring Everyone! This past weekend Louise and I took on the path in the woods, behind my home. It has been wet and muddy, so we had been staying away the last couple of weeks. When I opened the shop, I sold my home and moved into a condo, to feel more financially secure. It has been ten years now, the shop's continued growth made us move three times and I think we finally have enough space for a while. During these moves, the task of moving into a home seemed like an overwhelming endeavor,  so it has taken a back burner.
Restricted to a balcony that has northern exposure, I missed planting flowers and experiencing that magical feeling you get when things start budding and the punches of color that brighten your mornings. A few years back I decided to plant small things, here and there, in the back woods of my building; sort of little treasures that come back year after year just to make me happy.
Here are a few images of the fruit of our labor (Louise has been helping) and a few other sightings we had!
Enjoy the warm weather! Happy spring!

Mar 19, 2012

pride and passion tuesday/princeton

I had been to Princeton IL several times and always enjoyed the long stretch of boutique shops and antique stores,  although I had not been there in several years,  this past weekend while making a list of vintage treasures I still needed for some of this summer's weddings, I  recalled a visit from a lovely lady, here at the shop a few years back. She reminded me what a great place it was, and told me she had a shop there. Sunday I decided to load up Louise and my camera and headed out to Princeton on a milk glass expedition.
 As I turned onto the Main street my stomach dropped, sign after sign read, for sale, for rent, for lease, for crying out loud, so very sad; we kept driving (this use to be a two and a half mile stretch of stores) and up the road there it was, a little gem, brightly painted and decorated. Her shop was still there!  The building itself was built in the 1850's , it was once a hardware store . Old fashion shelving and drawers from floor to ceiling still outline the perimeter and the running ladders are still used on a daily basis, so much charm! A sweet cafe and chocolate bar in back. They have tons of unique gift items and they make gift baskets for any occasion.   I don't get it! or maybe I get it, and so many others don't! Why do people continue to shop at large chain stores, BEETZ ME  !
This charming shop and it's pride and passion inspired Louise and I!

if only

I'm a bit of a vagabond. My heart desires to discover new places, new people and their culture. If I had a magic wand this would be my constant. I remember watching Lonely Planet, while my friends watched Melrose Place. In my mind always, a list of places or particular things I like to experience around the world. Trying to slowly chip at it, while maintaining a business is difficult, but I will continue my day dreaming;  strongly believing that day dreaming is what allowed me to make reality out of hopes and desires. You should try it, it works!
This is what has been in my thoughts lately.

The Dining Pod, engineered with a rigid frame swathed in woven rattan, is not unlike a cocoon with an open panorama window. Up to four diners board the pod, and are then elevated to the lofty height by a system of safety winches. Food courses arrive courtesy of a flying waiter – harnessed to a zip line – as do beverage replenishment. You must zip line to get there too, I assume alcohol consumption is provably kept to a minimum :)

This unique experience can be found at Soneva Kiri in Thailand, part of the Six Senses chain, stay here and you’ll be flown from Bangkok directly to the resort’s private airstrip. A short boat and buggy ride later and you are in paradise. Perfect beaches. Excellent service. Top notch food.  Supremely eco-friendly—stay in the resort’s zero emissions Eco-Villa and you’ll be surrounded by locally sourced materials, use renewable energy and swim in your own private natural swimming pool that uses plants to clean the water. Now tell me this is not worth day dreaming a whole day about!
If anyone out there... reading this has been there, please share, your brain needed for picking! 

Mar 14, 2012

where you been all my life!

Once a year in the springtime,  Himalayans transport this salt, which is hand-mined from deep within the mountains, to the Nepalese valleys for trade. Yaks carry the salt along narrow sloping paths, which often are simply carved in cliffs. These most purest form of salt is fantastic! Not only does it taste delish (seriously if you don't know how to cook, this alone will make you better) but it is also beautiful to look at, affortable and so good for you; your oral health, helps with allergies, thyroid, acne, breathing, fungus, and digestion.
This one is part of my 39 things and am so glad I tried it, I must give you this *WARNING* however, if you try it, be prepared, you will never go back to regular salt. Now go on... I dare you. I get mine here.

Mar 13, 2012

pride and passion

It's the little things that catapult you to the next level, it's a show of pride that best displays your passion.  A few weeks ago I received this lil package from fellow bridal industry friend Olivia Leigh, it stood out in the pile of mail, the perfectly stitched natural cardboard envelope made me smile with anticipation. Inside business cards I had requested, nestled in a lovely cross stitched pocket and a disc with images, from a wedding we worked on together this past December, (you can see Olivia's gorgeous images here) also in its own little house wrapped with twine and hand written message. This is the sort of stuff I live for! The little things!  This along with a visit to Princeton IL (more on that on my next post) made want to start a blog series on small business / people who LOVE what they do. Every Tuesday I will introduce you to someone new, that certain someone that inspires me thru their work, achievements, pride and passion. Looking forward to making new friends . If you know someone special, anywhere around the world, please leave me a note, I love to meet them! Now go on and have a passionate day!

Mar 10, 2012

Erica and Tom

We bid good~bye to our 2011 wedding season with this amazing event flawlessly shot by Olivia Leigh Photographie. Erica our beautiful bride wins this year's award for dream bride, she was easy going and focused on what the day is really all about and that always equals to be a day of perfection. It was 12 degrees out but these smiles tell another story! Congratulations Erica and Tom!
Thank you for a fantastic end to our season!

 Photography: Olivia Leigh Photographie | Ceremony Venue: Holy Name Cathedral | Reception Venue: Terzo Piano at the Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago  | Flowers: Petal Play Design | Dress: Marisa | Hair: Julia from Stella d’Oro Salon | Makeup: The Bride | Cake: Take the Cake | DJ: Duke, Style Matters

Mar 6, 2012

Buone Annee~Paris part 3

I got my haircut  in the morning with Jenni's help; hair is her thing and I could tell she was scared for me, she watched the stylist like a hawk. We walked along the river Seine, I took pictures like a lunatic all morning, it was an easy going day of people watching at Notre Dame.
Filled with anticipation we headed home and got ready for dinner. People all over town were caring big bunches of fresh mistletoe in preparation for the festivities. It was  a night to be remembered.

That evening as we approached the restaurant we were greeted with a luminous display. Very GRAND Colbert!
After our beautiful meal we walked to the Louvre to take in the view and then start marching with thousands toward the ultimate destination.
And here she was! all dressed up in lights just for us. There are truly no words to describe this night! Only the the four of us can understand what we lived. It was a night I will never forget, there was laughter, there were tears and almost, bike rides home. Buone Annee Ami! Un moment privilegie!

Mar 3, 2012

Montmartre~Paris part 2

This was the one place on top of my list, could not wait to see it! Montmartre is talked about by Parisians the way New Yorkers talk about the village. This incredibly unique village within the metropolis hosts the Basilica of Sacre~Coure at its very peek.
 Our friends Tom and Jenni who live in France while studying french (in preparation for their missions trip to Mali Africa) joined us for our New Year's Eve celebration. It was amazing to see them after a year away; their french was magnifique, and their GPS app, even better! We took the metro to Abbesses station and stepped out into the heart of Montmartre, cobblestone streets, a vintage carousel and a Christmas market greeted us. As we walked further up, the narrow streets widen and a courtyard/park  filled with oil painters, watercolors, portrait sketchers and caricaturists appeared, it was so inspiring to be standing on the grounds where  Picasso, Vlamenck, Derain, Modigliani, Van Gogh and countless others lived and worked. I got myself a little oil to remember the day by.
We continued our way up to the basilica, where we enjoyed unbelievable views and in the midst of sweet sounds of strolling violinists, there she was... our first peek at the Eiffel Tower, looking at us through the cloudy day. I felt so alive!        
We strolled the streets taking in every little detail, the Christmas decorations, the shops and the laughter in the streets. The flower shops were so inspiring and full. We stopped for an espresso at the  cafe where Amelie worked and felt like part of the scene. Dinner for the evening was picked up at a delightful delicatessen, we stayed home that night, relaxed listen to music and made plans for our grand New Years Eve the next day!
                   An unforgettable day, filled with joy, exquisite smells and the laughter of sweet friends.