So yeah, I am hitting the road and headed back to Chicago for a long weekend. You are probably thinking, “hey, weren’t you just there a few ago?” Yes I was, and it was great, but there is still more to see and do and Chicago in the summer is a very special place indeed. Coming up on this trip is a Cubs game at Wrigley, the Michigan Avenue Artfest, taking in a few shows including the national tour of my all time favorite, Les Miserables, and the fun Chinatown Summer Fair – and much more. Stay tuned!

FF: The Whale Mason Jar Solar Light from Brika

Nothing says summer by the sea more than a little whale motif. Living here, smack dab in the middle of the country (on the Kansas prairie just across the river from the great city of KCMO) you don’t see many whales, but I can still have the look out on my lanai with fun accents like the Whale Mason Jar Solar Light I found from the fine folks at Brika.

About the Whale Mason Jar Solar Light from Brika:

“Whimsical little scene in a glass mason jar. A solar-powered LED in the lid turns on automatically in the dark to magically light up the inside of the jar. A fun decoration or nightlight for the shelf!”

Find the Whale Mason Jar Solar Light from Brika here.

FF: The Metal and Enamel Whale Dip Cup from Mud Pie

Every summer party needs dips, the more the better as far as I am concerned. But you can take your dip up a few notches by serving it in the Metal and Enamel Whale Dip Cup I found from the fine folks at Mud Pie.

About the Metal and Enamel Whale Dip Cup from Mud Pie:

“When I dip, you dip, we dip.. This cast aluminum whale shaped dip cup features debossed facial features and glossy white enamel dipped interior and makes for a fun party dish!”

Find the Metal and Enamel Whale Dip Cup from Mud Pie here.

Visit Mud Pie online here.

You may not think you are going to love the combination of honey and chili peppers, but I assure you, you will, once you try some of Mike’s Hot Honey. Mike’s Hot Honey is “a sweet-heat combo of honey infused with chili peppers that adds the perfect kick to your favorite foods” and pairs well with cold meats or alone on a cracker.

About Mike’s Hot Honey:

“Mike’s Hot Honey started with a passion for creating and sharing the perfect fusion of two of nature’s most unique and wonderful flavors: honey and chili peppers. In 2004, our founder Mike Kurtz made the first batch of his signature hot honey to share with friends and family. It was an immediate hit: a unique combo of sweetness and heat that adds the perfect kick to just about any food or drink. Mike started drizzling hot honey on pizzas at the pizzeria where he worked, and it wasn’t long before customers asked him if they could buy bottles to take home. Mike found himself staying up all night making hot honey just to keep up with requests. In 2010, Mike took the entrepreneurial leap and set up shop in New York City: he sourced honey from domestic beekeepers to help support sustainable agriculture, and he worked tirelessly to pack, label, and ship every bottle of hot honey by hand.”

Learn more and visit Mike’s Hot Honey online here.

I love flipping though travel guides for places I want to travel to, places I’ve been, and places I may never get to. I have seen all kinds of travel guides, but I have never come across a collection as classy as the Wallpaper City Guide Collection from the fine folks at Phaidon. Each Wallpaper City Guide, from the world’s greatest cities (my collection includes some of my favorites: Buenos Aires, Chicago, London) features things you would expect and see in other guides, but surprises are found on just about every page.

About the Wallpaper City Guide Collection from Phaidon:

“Your passport to global style, Wallpaper City Guides present an insider’s checklist of all you need to know about the world’s most intoxicating cities. Under slick Pantone covers, these pocket-sized travel bibles unearth the hippest nightlife, the buzziest hotels, the coolest retail, the most influential art galleries and cultural spaces, the best in local design and the contemporary architecture that defines a city. Perfectly sized for travel, discreet and easy to use, so you don’t feel like a tourist, these books are ideal for either extended breaks or business trips. They are rigorously researched, and curated by an extensive network of experts, from in-house editors to in-the-know local correspondents. The series now covers more than 100 dynamic destinations.”

Learn more about the Wallpaper City Guide Collection from Phaidon here.

See all the amazing books available from Phaidon here.

OK, here is one of the cooler things I have found in a while, the Tiger Hand-Embellished Pin and Card from Idlewild Co. It is cool because it is a tiger and I love tigers. But it extra cool because the tiger is a pin affixed to a card – so you can mail an awesome gift to someone special.

About the Tiger Hand-Embellished Pin and Card from Idlewild Co.:

“Our handmade pins are meticulously hand embroidered over Idlewild Co. printed fabric and embellished with glass beads, and iridescent miniature sequins. Each piece is pinned to a gold foil letter pressed cotton card. The most beautiful wearable, mailable gift!”

Find the Tiger Hand-Embellished Pin and Card from Idlewild Co. here.

See all the cool trinkets from Idlewild Co. here.

I read somewhere once that the best way to ensure your garden grows well is to ignore it. Basically saying that if you spend too much time pruning and fussing over your plants it may impede their growth. Well, I certainly ignored my garden recently when I left for vacation with no plans to have it cared for or watered while I was away. I was hoping for a couple of summer thunder showers to keep things watered as to not feel too guilty. It worked. I returned home to find a thriving garden with lots of green and some good growth – including a bunch of tomatoes, peppers, and green beans, with plenty of squash and eggplant blossoms. As a bonus, my fig tree is still going strong with a bunch of budding fruit. I can’t wait for the summer’s bounty.

Here are a few shots I took of the garden – click the thumbnail to enlarge:

I mentioned yesterday that I took a day trip from Boston to Salem, MA on the ferry, and it was great fun. One of our last stops before hitting the return ferry, was Jean Louis Pasta Shop. This shop is one of those places you see and you have to stop into. The shop is small, but has all the great things you need to make a stellar meal – starting with the pasta.

About Jean Louis Pasta Shop in Salem, MA:

“Offering unique creations prepared by the hands of two food-obsessed individuals. We offer over 35 flavors of dried pasta, an ever-changing array of ravioli, and a diverse selection of gluten-free and organic pastas, olive oils and wine infused sauces.”

Lynda bought some chocolate pasta which is perfect for a special dessert – think ice cream instead of tomato sauce topped with fresh berries.

Jean Louis Pasta Shop is located at 84 Derby St. in the historic city of Salem, Massachusetts.

While on my vacation to the Boston area, my friend Lynda and I hopped on the Boston to Salem ferry for a day trip to that historic city and it was great. In fact, I will be making several posts about all the great stuff we found there.

First up, is the gallery of artist Paul Nathan, whose whimsical comic art style was a fun and refreshing find.

Paul Nathan’s gallery is located at 159 Derby Street in the great historic city of Salem, Massachusetts.

I lived in Boston for much of my adult life, having moved there for college. I love the city and spent a lot of time exploring every part of it. This week I was excited to come back to Boston as part of my early summer vacation and it was like coming home. The great thing about a historic city like Boston is that much of it stays the same and is still there no matter how long you are away or how much it grows. However, Boston is also a vibrant 21st Century metropolis and there is always something new and exciting to check out. So it was great to see the city I love and see how it is changing. It also brought to mind a great book I have paged through a million times, Boston Then and Now by Patrick Kennedy.

About Boston Then and Now by Patrick Kennedy:

“With photos that span 150 years, Boston Then and Now shows how the largest city in New England has adapted to change as it has grown. Many of the key places in the Revolutionary struggle are featured in the book, including Boston Harbor, Paul Revere’s house and Dorchester Heights, from where George Washington threatened the British garrison.The book shows how the Big Dig has transformed the city, which despite the march of the 21st century has managed to preserve a large part of its remarkable history.Sites include: Boston Light, USS Constitution, Bunker Hill Monument, Old North Church, Charles Street Jail, Scollay Square, Union Oyster House, Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall, Dock Square, Old State House, Massachusetts State House, Boston Common, Old South Meeting House, Long Wharf, South Station, Liberty Tree Site, Copley Square, Boston Public Library, Museum of Fine Arts, Fenway Park, Kenmore Square and Cyclorama.”

Boston Then and Now makes you appreciate the past while embracing the present of this great city – and it offers me the opportunity to get my Boston fix any time while I am homesick out here on the Kansas prairie (just across the river from the great city of Kansas City, MO.

Boston Then and Now by Patrick Kennedy is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers everywhere.

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