While walking on the beach on my little summer vacation I cam across this message left by a fellow beachgoer…

Back in New Hampshire for a few days of summer R&R and I stopped by my favorite spot to see if everything was cool – and it was indeed.

A panoramic view of Mount Chocorua across its namesake lake from Tamworth, NH:

I am off on a little Independence Day vacation back in New England, but before I left the great Kansas prairie, I snapped this shot of my ever-expanding garden.

The tomatoes have really sprouted up and the crooked-necked squash are taking over as much space as the can.

While I am away it is expected to be sunny and hot every day with little or no rain – so I am hoping the soaking I gave the raised bed will help these plants survive in my absence.

Meanwhile, I can’t wait to harvest some nice ripe tomatoes and basil to make on of my famous summer pizzas.

The fine folks at Chandler 4 Corners have a great collection of Stars and Stripes Pillows perfect to decorate your home for the Fourth of July and every other day of the year.

I like Chandler 4 Corners’ Sea to Sea Flag Pillow:

“A USA flag pillow of red, white, and blue, sits on a dark green background. These colors suit any decor (of course!) and make a patriotic statement. 14″ x 20″ hand hooked pillow, made with 100% natural wool. Zippered velveteen backing with poly-fill pillow insert. Designed by Laura Megroz.”

Find the Stars and Stripes Pillows from Chandler 4 Corners here.

See all the great decorative products from Chandler 4 Corners here.

So here is the perfect item for the first week in July when you want to be on the beach or by the pool while celebrating the Fourth of July – the American Dream Towel I found from the fine folks at Dock and Bay.

About the American Dream Towel from Dock and Bay:

“The Summer collection. Make this summer one you’ll never forget. Our cabana towel with that summer twist.”

Find the American Dream Towel from Dock and Bay here.

Find all the great items to jazz up your summer from Dock and Bay here.

As much as I like hummus (and I reeeeeally like hummus) I have only made it myself a few times over the years. There really is no excuse for that as hummus is super easy to make as demonstrated by this recipe for Basic Hummus I found from the fine folks at Family Circle magazine.

About the recipe for Basic Hummus from Family Circle magazine:

“Enjoy this recipe as is (all you need is a blender or food processor), or use it as a base for beet or carrot hummus.”

Find the recipe for Basic Hummus from Family Circle magazine here.

See all the great recipes and tips for the home from Family Circle here.

Finishing up my posts from my recent trip to Chicago, I present a couple of chill places my traveling companions and I slipped into for a nightcap.

FF: The Windsor

First up is The Windsor, a little gem of a place tucked in a corner in Streeterville just a block off Michigan Ave. I first found The Windsor last year and found it to be the perfect place to meet up for a drink – or dinner – but we went for the drinks. Quiet yet active, nice setting, and great service.

About The Windsor:

“The Windsor is your neighborhood restaurant in a downtown locale, welcoming guests to sit back relax and enjoy a casual dining experience just off the hustle of the Magnificent Mile. Chef Todd Stein”s inventive romp through a classic American Bar and Grill features fresh seafood, hearty entree salads, amazing steaks, delicious chops, and mouth-watering prime rib from the rotisserie. The Windsor will bring a sense of comfort and friendly service for which the neighborhood restaurants of 4-Star Restaurant Group are known to Streeterville. Dressed up or dressed down, come in, sit back and let us take care of the rest.”

The Windsor is located at 160 East Huron in the great city that is Chicago.

FF: Bijan’s Bistro

Meanwhile, a few blocks west in the River North area you can find plenty of places to go for a drink or dinner, but a really cool place for late night eats and drinks is Bijan’s Bistro.

Bijan’s Bistro is a lively yet civilized joint on a busy city corner. If it is a nice evening, you can sit in the outdoor seating area and watch the city go by.

About Bijan’s Bistro:

“Bijan’s Bistro is open 365 days a year til 4am! Breakfast lunch and dinner every day and the best late-late-night dining in the city.”

Bijan’s Bistro is located at 663 N. State St. in the very cool city of Chicago, USA.

I like bringing a game along on road trips and picnics – it is fun to play a game after dining or exploring outside – or whenever the mood is right. That is why I fell in love with the Original Travel Game Bag I found from the fine folks at A Summer Shop – the perfect portable game set for your summer.

About the Original Travel Game Bag from A Summer Shop:

“Roll it up and go! Inspired by long summer days spent at the beach and snowy winters playing with family and friends. This board game is a functional bag. Just unroll or unpack the bag, take the pieces out, smooth it over and play. Perfect stowaway for your casual travel gaming. Made to play somewhere inspired.”

Find the Original Travel Game Bag from A Summer Shop here.

See all the cool stuff from A Summer Shop here.

Sometimes a great way to experience a city you love is to read a novel based in that city where the location is as much a character as any person. Chicago: A Novel by Brian Doyle is just such a book, which celebrates the city and the thousands of young people fresh out of college who come to it every year to start their lives. Mr. Doyle’s novel follows one such person (and the cast of characters he meets) and we are allowed to follow him and discover the city from the perspective of someone finding his way.

About Chicago: A Novel by Brian Doyle:

“On the last day of summer, a young college grad moves to Chicago and rents a small apartment on the north side of the city, by the lake. This is the story of the five seasons he lives there, during which he meets gangsters, gamblers, policemen, a brave and garrulous bus driver, a cricket player, a librettist, his first girlfriend, a shy apartment manager, and many other riveting souls, not to mention a wise and personable dog of indeterminate breed. A love letter to Chicago, the Great American City, and a wry account of a young man’s coming-of-age during the one summer in White Sox history when they had the best outfield in baseball, Chicago is a novel that will plunge you into a city you will never forget and may well wish to visit for the rest of your days.”

This is not the greatest fiction ever, but a very nice book that is a perfect companion to fill the gaps on a trip – a trip to a place like Chicago perhaps.

Chicago: A Novel by Brian Doyle is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers everywhere.


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