I am still searching for the perfect weekend bag. However, I find a really great one every now and then but they tend to be out of my humble price range. Example: the awesome Balmorhea Bag I found from the Texas Rover Company.

About the Balmorhea Bag from the Texas Rover Company: “Available in both the Weekender for short trips and the Traveler for longer journeys, the Balmorhea Bag is handcrafted to create the perfect duffle encompassing both style and durability. The bag is made of full-grain leather rugged enough to withstand exposure to the elements and ready for everywhere.”

This may be the perfect gift for someone (ahem) whose best friend may have just celebrated a milestone birthday. I am just saying.

Find the Balmorhea Bag from the Texas Rover Company here.

See all the great products from the Texas Rover Company here.


I may be here in Chicago enjoying the sights and sounds of summer in this great city, but my heart is back in New Hampshire as one of my favorite annual events gets underway today – the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Annual Craftsmen’s Fair.

About the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Annual Craftsmen’s Fair:

“The premier event of the year is the Annual Craftsmen’s Fair. It always starts the first Saturday in August and runs for nine days. Held at the Mount Sunapee Resort in Newbury, the beautiful Dartmouth/Sunapee region of New Hampshire, the Fair is a wonderful opportunity to meet more than 350 craftspeople, learn more about craft through demonstrations and workshops, and treat yourself to a work of fine craft or get an early start on your holiday shopping.”

The League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Annual Craftsmen’s Fair runs daily August 5-13 at the Mount Sunapee Resort, 1398 Route 103, in picturesque Newbury, NH USA.

Learn more about the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen here.

OK, so I mentioned that I am in Chicago for a few days. Well, part of my plan is to have at least one meal a day at a local place that at least has a charcuterie board on the menu. Yesterday I arrived in town in the morning and was able to stop by the wonderful Eataly for lunch and dined on a nice chef’s choice platter of fine Italian cured meats and cheeses, with a nice side salad. It was yummy.

Next on my list are…

FF: West Loop Salumi

About West Loop Salumi:

“West Loop Salumi opened in 2013 as Illinois’ first USDA salumeria. Salumiere Greg Laketek trained in Italy under the famous Massimo Spigaroli only to keep to his Itallian roots and the salumi traditions. West Loop Salumi dedicates itself to the West Loop neighborhood, where it resides in Chicago. Using old world Italian meat curing traditions and recipes gives West Loop Salumi a unique niche to the American salumi and charcuterie industry. We pride our selves on the quality of our ingredients, casings, procedures, and especially the quality of our meat.”

West Loop Salumi is located at 1111 W. Randolph St. in the great city of Chicago, IL USA.

FF: Steadfast

About Steadfast:

“Steadfast brings an innovative, upscale, chef-driven restaurant concept from The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group to the Chicago Loop at The Kimpton Gray Hotel. Located in the heart of Chicago’s Financial District and steps away from Chicago’s Theater District, critics rave that Steadfast is elevating the Loop’s dining scene.  Clients and Coworkers alike will love the bustling lunches and happy hour or appreciate a quality dinner at Steadfast.”

Steadfast is located at 120 West Monroe Street in the Windy City – Chicago, IL USA.

I am off to Chicago for an extra-long weekend to enjoy the sights and sounds of the great city in all its full midsummer glory. Watch for special reports on my adventures.

I love love love the Animal Mask Note Cards I found from the fine folks at Fredericks and Mae. These cards are great – you get to send someone a card that is also a functional treat they can enjoy instead up just standing it up on the mantle for a few days. I am thinking about getting these to save for my Halloween cards this year.

About the Animal Mask Note Cards from Fredericks and Mae: “These notecards transform into animal masks: Zebra, Polar Bear, Baboon, Koi Fish, Panther and Bird of Paradise.  12 Notecards and Envelopes – 6 animals 2 of each. A mask is an object normally worn on the face, typically for protection, disguise, performance or entertainment for both ceremonial and practical purposes.  The oldest masks that have been discovered are 9,000 years old, but the earliest known anthropomorphic artwork is circa 30,000–40,000 years old.  They are usually worn on the face, although they may also be positioned for effect elsewhere on the wearer’s body, so in parts of Australia giant totem masks cover the body, whilst Inuit women use finger masks during storytelling and dancing.” 

Find the Animal Mask Note Cards from Fredericks and Mae here.

See all the great products available from Fredericks and Mae here.

Some people have all the luck. I would love to take some time off and travel the length of Scotland and back researching and learning about whisky. Well, that is just what author Rachel McCormack got to do and then tell us all about it in her wonderful book Chasing the Dram – Finding the Spirit of Whisky.

About Chasing the Dram – Finding the Spirit of Whisky by Rachel McCormack: “Whisky is Scotland’s national drink and has been for over five hundred years, since then becoming a global phenomenon. It is a drink that is a profound and important part of Scottish life and culture but, unlike other countries and their national libations, it has hardly been used in food. Rachel McCormack is going to change that with this book. Limiting whisky to a drink, she believes, is similar to the traditional Presbyterian attitude to sex; it should only be done with the lights off and in the missionary position. Rachel believes that there is an entire Karma Sutra of whisky use out there and she has put it in this book. Interspersing an engaging mix of anecdotes, history and information on distillers and recipes, this book will appeal to everyone from the cooking whisky connoisseur, to the novice whisky learner looking for some guidance on what to eat and cook. Rachel travels the length and breadth of Scotland, discovering a myriad of unique and interesting people and facts about this remarkable drink, with interviews with the key people who create it around the country, as she visits the famous distilleries of her country, as well as the more home-grown variety.”

Part travelogue, part history book, Ms. McCormack provides us with a compelling collection of information about the fine spirit which just adds to its already indelible lure.

Chasing the Dram – Finding the Spirit of Whisky by Rachel McCormack is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers.


After a slow start and dealing with a pesky possum, my container garden is settling in nicely in the long warm days of midsummer. I am particularly thrilled with the production of my Japanese eggplants (below) – which I feared were all lost do to the aforementioned marsupial’s chomping. Meanwhile, I also have lots of baby tomatoes coming in, as well as cucumbers and a nice variety of peppers.

…at long last it is August, and the dog days of summer are upon us, which once again provides me with an excuse to post pictures of these special guys:


Life is way too short to settle for boring old marshmallows when you want to perk up your s’mores or add something special to your hot cocoa. That is where the fine folks as Smash Mallows come in with their fantastic line of specialty flavored marshmallows – ranging from Root Beer Float to Lemon Poppy Seed. But for the real pick-me-up try the expresso-infused Mocha Chip Smash Mallow.

About Mocha Chip Smash Mallows:

“Mmmmm. Can you smell that? Dark, rich espresso beans, roasted to perfection, then infused into each creamy puff. It’s a flavor smash up. A shot of sweet chocolate and a jolt of yum that’s sure to perk you up.”

Learn more and see all the Mash Mallow flavors here.



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