I checked out a few great places to eat while in Chicago for an extra-long weekend – here a couple of my favorites new finds.

FF: The Purple Pig

My first stop while waiting for my traveling companions to arrive in town by train, was The Purple Pig. I had seen stories and reviews of this place and had it on top of my list to try – heck, you have to love a place that has a whole list of cheeses and cured meats to choose from – and I was not disappointed.

About The Purple Pig:

“Since opening in 2009, under the leadership of Jimmy Bannos Jr., The Purple Pig has received numerous accolades, including being named one of 2010’s ‘10 Best New Restaurants in America’ by Bon Appétitmagazine; and a Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand recipient since 2011. Dubbed the ‘Prince of Pork’ by Dana Cowin (former Food and Wine Editor-in-Chief); Jimmy Jr. brings his love for Mediterranean food to the Windy City in fun, inventive ways – at this rustic sharable plate restaurant, conveniently located on the Magnificent Mile. Located at 500 North Michigan Avenue, the restaurant offers cheese, swine and wine, among other standout dishes, showcasing the flavors of Italy, Greece and Spain.”

I have been to Chicago many times since this place opened and I was sad that I had not found it until now – but I will be back. I went for a casual lunch, which was nice, but I plan to do a more formal dinner on a future trip.

Try the hummus – served with a soft-boiled egg and house-made pita – the perfect companion to a cheese and meat platter.

The Purple Pig is located at 500 North Michigan Avenue – the heart of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile.

FF: Il Porcellino

Once my traveling companions arrived and we enjoyed a cruise on the Chicago River, we settled in for a nice dinner at Il Porcellino. This was the perfect place to relax and enjoy each other’s company on the first night of our long Chicago weekend. The setting is fresh and lively with great décor and stunning lighting. And oh yeah, the food – Italian favorites with a modern twist – was great too.

About Il Porcellino:

“Il Porcellino, located in the heart of River North in downtown Chicago, is a neighborhood restaurant offering classic Italian-American comfort food in a casual setting. Our seasonal menu focuses on housemade pastas, vegetable antipasti and daily specials, all crafted with ingredients sourced from quality artisans, purveyors and local farmers. The fun and approachable wine program encourages sharing with selections from southern and central Italy.”

Il Porcellino is located at 59 W. Hubbard St. in the great city of Chicago, IL USA.

I guess I am homesick, as I can’t stop looking for pictures of my favorite spot (the scene of Mount Chocorua across the Lake from Tamworth, NH) like these vintage postcards.

Every time I visit Chicago I am inspired to take tons of pictures, some of which have actually turned out pretty cool. However, I am not alone, the city has inspired millions of photographers over the years, including some of the best ever. Now, in Chicago: Classic Photographs, we are treated to some great images by great photographers beautifully curated by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams.

About Chicago: Classic Photographs edited by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams: “The city has produced some of the most important photographers of our time — Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, Art Shay — but has never before possessed a book packed with their most timeless work. This is the finest collection of its kind — 100 stunning images by the city’s most revered photographers that show the enduring and endearing aspects of Chicago and its landscape from the Loop to the city’s vast array of neighborhoods. Richard Cahan and Michael Williams, the foremost picture editors of the city, curate the book. Here they have chosen photos going back more than a century to show a city that is both well-known and surprising. This is a book for people who love Chicago and for visitors who want something special to remember her by. It is filled with classic photographs that defy time — timeless pictures of a changing city.”

What struck me most when flipping through this book is the timeless quality of the great city – which is ever changing, yet always classic.

Chicago: Classic Photographs edited by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams is available from Amazon and other fine book sellers.



I love this panoramic shot I took looking over AT&T Plaza and Cloud Gate sculpture (affectionately referred to as “the Bean”) in Chicago’s Millennium Park.

My seasonal garden may be in full swing, but that doesn’t mean I can’t fit in a few herbs plants inside the house, especially if they are as cool as the Mason Jar Herb Gardens I found from the fine folks at Humble Elephant.

About the Mason Jar Herb Gardens from Humble Elephant:

“Grow fresh herbs indoor year round with a Mason Jar Herb Garden kit. Each Mason jar herb garden kit comes with everything you need to grow your own indoor herb garden; Mason jar, drainage rocks, PittMoss®, and organic non-GMO seeds. Mason jar herb gardens are great to grow inside or outside. Start to grow your basil in a Mason jar and transplant to another pot later, or leave in a Mason jar for easy access to fresh herbs on your kitchen window sill as you cook. The clear glass of the Mason jar allows you to eliminates the guess work of watering and allows you to see how moist the soil is.”

Find the Mason Jar Herb Gardens from Humble Elephant here.

See all the great products from Humble Elephant here.


…watch for all my great Chicago finds coming soon!

FF: The Awesomesauce Card from Smarty Pants Paper Company

I love quirky greeting cards from fun little paper companies – like the Awesomesauce Card I found from the fine folks at Smarty Pants Paper Company.

About the Awesomesauce Card from Smarty Pants Paper Company:

“The most awesome of sauces. Risograph printed with soy-based inks. A2 antique white note card with recycled kraft envelope. Inside is blank. Packaged in a clear cellophane sleeve.”

See all cool cards and other related products from Smarty Pants Paper Company here.


FF: The Greeting Card Collection from Amy Heitman

Meanwhile, the fine folks over at Amy Heitman make a great line of greeting cards.

I like Amy Heitman’s The Fairest of them All card:

“Beautiful warm white cover paper. Blank interior. Includes coordinating envelope and plastic sleeve. Made in USA.”

Check out the Greeting Card Collection from Amy Heitman here.


I am totally in love with this wool Fox Pillow I found from the fine folks at Three Bad Seeds. This little guy would look great my brown leather couch.

About the Fox Pillow from Three Bad Seeds:

“Our goods are crafted from quality woolen fabrics handpicked at US mills — much of it comes from nearby Pendleton® Woolen Mills. We also incorporate vintage wool sweaters and blankets. We cut every detail by hand in our Pacific Northwest studio. Each piece is machine sewn for durability and many feature hand embroidered accents.”

Find the Fox Pillow from Three Bad Seeds here.

See all the great products from Three Bad Seeds here.

So I have a ukulele, and a mandolin and I don’t play either. I mess around with them every now and then watching YouTube training videos. But I am a book guys, so I picked up How to Play Ukulele – A Complete Guide for Beginners by Dan Scanlan and I should be playing like a pro in no time.

About How to Play Ukulele by Dan Scanlan:

“Learn to play the ukulele with this beginner’s guide that features information about basic techniques, tools, and music knowledge. What do George Clooney, Zooey Deschanel, Ryan Gosling and James Franco all have in common? Answer: they all play the ukulele and now, with this easy step-by-step guide, you can too! With just this book and your ukulele in hand, you’ll learn basic music skills, how to care for your instrument, and how to play some simple tunes. Whether you’re looking to impress your friends with spontaneous singalongs, or just want to strum solo, How to Play Ukulele is the perfect entryway to the wonderful world of ukulele.”

How to Play Ukulele by Dan Scanlan is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers everywhere.

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