I have cooked since I can remember standing on a chair next to the stove and acting as my Daddy’s sous chef…I have loved it ever since.  Mom was the baker she cooked beautifully as well and always had magnificent meals every night. Daddy, on the other hand, cooked by taste, I think most chefs do that and remember my Father was an artist and loved to work out the thought of the recipe as he went along and that is how I learned to experiment with recipes.  I don’t have many of his, I have already shared his Borscht with you but I do remember a couple of them.  Why don’t we all write down our family’s secret recipes when we horrible that they are lost forever!  Mom being a baker had to follow a recipe with her delicious breads, I can still smell them no greater a smell than freshly baked bread, at least not in my mind!  And her pies, oh my, unfortunately, I can’t make pie crust to this day, I guess I either over or under work the dough, oh well, thank heaven for Pillsbury’s dough!   I can remember my Father coming home from a long day and saying to Mom, “Honey, you have been busy all day, I’ll cook tonight!”

Now for the subject of today’s post, Cookbooks.  Many people use The Joy of Cooking for their everyday cookbook ( I do have it, of course)…ours was Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook, which I gave to Mom for a Christmas gift when it was first published.  I think she only used her family recipes and other cookbooks until that time (vintage now, some of which I still have).  Of course, she also did many of her menus from memory.  When the original Betty Crocker book started falling apart (by the way, I still have it and still refer to it, it has some amazing recipes for basics, I will share some with you on my Wednesday posting of Nena’s recipe box). I started collecting recipes from friends and cookbooks in high school and have continued to this day. I am particularly fond of “community” cookbooks, those that have “personal recipes”. I do love the Silver Palate cookbook (the original) and use it often. I add to my collection constantly but space limits minuscule kitchen needs to have a bit of prep space or how can I prepare the recipes!!

I started the Time-Life cookbook series long ago, again, amazing recipes, I still have some of them and pick up others at book sales or the Printer’s Row Book Fair, which, by the way, has at least one dealer that specialized in cookbooks who has an extraordinary collection or  Antique Malls and, of course, the Randolph Street Market  My philosophy of buying a cookbook is if I get one new recipe from it, I go for it. I also am driven by the photos and illustrations and in some cases just the writing, all of which I find in David Lebovitz, Ina Garten, and Martha Stewart’s books. volume of the Time-Life cookbook collection.

Of course, I have the entire Julia Child collection but find her to be a bit involved, might do a Julie and Julia year at some point in time!  I do qualify for the tiny kitchen although I wouldn’t call myself a novice cook…that, I am sure could be debated!  Let’s say I am willing to tackle any recipe.  I relate my Cassoulet experience with you in another post, it will be the entire subject, it was an unforgettable experience!  My feeling if a souffle falls you have a “pudding”!

I adore all the Lee Bailey books, he did many personal appearances at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago and most of my collection is signed to me, Lee not only gives you fantastic recipes but also exquisite photography and wonderful writing along with table settings, menus, the entire entertaining picture.imageMy Lee Bailey collection with a peek at some of the Ina Garten books.

imageA fantastic series one I use often and one I don’t want to purge.

One of my most favorite cookbooks, long out of print.  The best lamb curry recipe you will ever find. pride and joy book for recipes, amazing photography and reminiscences, Vincent Price not only an accomplished actor but an art collector and cook, quite a combination!

I’m dying to know which cookbooks are your favorites, vintage and/or new and which recipes you like in them and what are your treasured recipes that you can share.  Do please post your thoughts in the comment section at the bottom on this page.

imageSitting on a hand-painted distressed vintage chair in the kitchen…all waiting to be melded into their categories, others will have to be purged to make room for them. I do, indeed, follow many Food Network shows and use some of their recipes as well as follow many food blogs (another posting to be sure). I am exceptionally fond of the New York Times Cooking app, it is amazing, get it, not only does it give you amazing recipes and advice but allows you to save your own recipes that you collect from other sites…I mean, seriously!!! I will continue to collect, I love the feel of a book in my hand and the joy of creating a new recipe or revisiting a trusted timeworn classic. Now where to find space!!!!!



Shauna’s headsheet “then”imageShauna “now”

Shauna Michels Montgomery was always a hit on the runway as well as off “stage”, she always had a bon mot, she not only looks the same (what is her secret!!??) but has kept her wonderfully charming personality.  She was a joy to work with and a joy to know.  Here, briefly, is her story of her modeling career and her life now.

“My professional career as a runway model began when I met Ms. Nena Ivon and was hired as a model for Saks Fifth Avenue.

I can remember vividly looking at the door marked, NENA IVON, FASHION DIRECTOR. With hands shaking and knees quivering I knocked on her door. Out walked a woman with high stature. Ms. Nena Ivon was elegantly tall, model thin dressed in black with posture that could make a flamingo faint. Not an inkling of a smile upon her face. I stammered to introduce myself and felt diarrhea pains coming on. I finally presented my portfolio and low and behold Ms. Ivon hired me!

Through Nena, I learned all the tricks of the trade…  how to pack a professional shoe bag, put my hair in the perfect chignon and how to apply professional make-up. Above all, I learned how to master the “perfect” runway walk and pivot!

Jeanouche and Shaua in action on the runway.

Nena’s note…Shauna and I were reflecting on our fashion career together and both of us chose the same anecdote to share…We were doing a fashion show at the Saddle and Cycle Club in Chicago, a small show, I think I was using 4 models and showing fall garments.  My Mother, Ruth Ivon, after she retired, was always one of my dressers and I might add one of my better ones…all the models loved her!  She was dressing Shauna who was doing a quick change from a very deep funnel turtleneck sweater and she got stuck in the neck and couldn’t get it over her head.  I’m sure many of us have gotten fits of laughter in our lives, this made it all the more difficult to extract her..all I can say is that she didn’t make her run on time…obviously! Ruth, another of the models and myself got her out of it.  Way too much fun (but not at the time!)

By having the fabulous, famous fashion icon’s approval, my modeling career flourished. I began working with Saks Fifth Avenue notorious fashion designers:  Halston, Calvin Klein, Norell, Oscar de la Renta, Norma Kamali and Perry Ellis to name a few. I also spread my wings and modeled internationally in Munich, Germany and Barcelona, Spain.

Currently, I am a radio show co-host of The Girlfriends, a weekly podcast that inspires and empowers women.  Check us out at,

imageShauna, Nena, and Shelley for a taping of a The Girlfriends podcast.

Also, I am a philanthropist who co-chairs local civic and social events to support an array of organizations from Lurie’s Children’s Hospital, The Joffrey Ballet to The Garfield Park Conservatory. A favorite event I produced was Fleurotica, a fashion runway show where all the dresses were made out of fresh flowers! Other passions include interior design and fitness. 2013

I’m the wife of a top trial litigator and mother of two beautiful children, Knox and Meredith.

I somehow, manage to balance it all. My sister, Shelley MacArthur has called me “the Martha Stewart of the Midwest”… that is, without the jail cell.

A few other things Shelley says about me,

“Shauna is creative with incredible taste in clothes and décor.  Putting on an event, you want her to be at the helm and if you’re putting on a show you want her to be in the audience!  If you’re putting on a party you want her to be on the guest list.

Shauna has a knack for changing the air in any room she walks into. Direct, energetic and optimistic, she is the life of any event she graces or produces. This is a woman who knows how to get any job done with panache.

And finally, Shauna, an avid fitness fanatic, manages to balances it all. Somewhat of a conundrum, she’s an earthy and irreverent working girl trapped in the body of a Princess.”

Nena’s note…the Michels Sisters are quite a team, and more supportive sisters, who are the best of friends, you will not find. Be sure to refer to Shelley’s post that I did earlier on nenasnotes.


All photos courtesy of Shauna Michels Montgomery.



FASHION FLASHBACK: DIANE VON FURSTENBERG von Furstenberg, still the elegant, charming, professional she has always been.

I thought I would continue my thoughts on all the changes that have recently occurred on the fashion scene.  The Wall Street Journal in their March MSJ magazine , which came out on Saturday, February 18, did a superb profile on Diane von Furstenberg, the woman and the brand.  It brought to mind the several times I worked with her at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago.

I think most of us know Diane’s story but just a brief reminder, the iconic wrap dress first appeared in 1974 and was an immediate must have.  Not only was it unique, but it was extremely easy to wear, packed like a dream and was quite sexy, for a wrap dress, in its clingy jersey and v neck.  It was such a hit that it landed Diane on the cover of a 1976 issue of Newsweek which named her “the most marketable woman since Coco Chanel.” had this exact print dress and thought I was quite the trendsetter!

Early in her career she make a personal appearance at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago at our then location at 669 North Michigan Avenue (now the home of Nike Town) and I must say the sales were amazing.  Her fan base then as now was huge!  I found her to be totally charming, very interested in her clients opinions and very willing to engage with everyone, fans and staff alike.

The next time she visited the Store was when she launched her cosmetics line in the late 1980’s…it was also a major hit with her loyal following. It was at this personal appearance that I have a charming story to relate….we were in my office and Ms. von Furstenberg wanted to make a phone call (certainly no mobile phones at that time…doesn’t that sound antiquated!!!).  I ensconced her at my desk and politely left her to her call.  Across from my desk and other walls were autographed photos of all the designers I had worked with, when I returned she said to me “I hope you don’t mind (with her charming accent) but I saw my photo on your wall, took it down and autographed it for you!” Of course, I didn’t mind, I was going to ask her to do so before she left.  What I loved was what she said next…”When I took it out of the frame I noticed there were other photos of me so I chose the one I liked best!”  I loved that….that photo is housed in the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago,, along with the ones she didn’t sign!!!

Shortly after this launch she left the business and went to Paris.  She relaunched the wrap dress in 1997 and when I asked her why at that time when she was making another personal appearance with SFA Chicago at the current address, 700 North Michigan Avenue, she said “My daughter, Tatiana,  and all her friends, were buying the “vintage” DVF wrap dresses at vintage stores and pairing them with boots, interesting belts and other accessories making them very modern and young…I thought it was time to reinvent the wrap dress and sell it myself and the rest is history!”

Re_Nena_Ivon_015.jpgA very bad photo at the launch of the DVF cosmetics collection (we both look like we could have dipped our fingers into some of the product!) in the late 1980’s.  I have very few regrets, I find regrets “regrettable” but boy, oh boy do I wish I had had a digital camera or mobile phone so I could have captured many moments in time with designers and shows that now only live in my memory!

Diane is now preparing to step away from her legendary brand and has put the creative reins in the hands of the Chief Creative Officer, Jonathan Saunders. Saunders with Diane von Furstenberg.

The Fall/Winter 2017 version of the wrap dress.  Note the styling of the outfit and the staging of the presentation.

I love the combination of prints and the bold accent of color, bravo Jonathan!

The Collection images from

Diane is currently president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), a position she has held since 2006.  She has been an amazing president and has taken the group into the 21st Century with aplomb, of course she has just like she has managed her brand, a superb and successful business woman who will be around for a very long time doing what she does best, create a magnificent lifestyle



Furstenberg, Diane von (1998). Diane: A Signature Life. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0684843834

Furstenberg, Diane von (2014). The Woman I Wanted to Be. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1451651546




Sally Schwartz in her living room seated in front of her collection of vintage smoking lighters and her library.

It isn’t a surprise that this dynamo has such an eclectic collection of objects gathered over the years.  Every room (I have just touched upon a fraction of the collections) is filled magnificently with treasures.  The house itself is multi levels and each one is chocked full of delights. You can be sure we will revisit Sally and Reid’s home in future posts…stay tuned!!!

A close up of some of the collection.

Quote from Sally….”Smoking cigarettes and cigars were a big part of the glamorous life of entertaining, my grandparents had lots of parties and there were these big bold beautiful cigarette table lighters throughout their home. I was always fascinated with these and loved watching the ladies with long pretty polished nails getting their cigs lit by these ornate pieces. When my grandparents died and we got to pick objects we wanted, I just had to have the lighters. Obviously, cigarettes are horrid and lots of my grandparents and parents friends died from smoking these but to me, they remind me of a sparkling and elegant time.”  Nena’s note…Each is a work of art unto itself and yes, they were part of what we thought was glamorous and sophisticated at the time, in fact I used long cigarette holders with cigarettes as props for the evening gowns in many of my early fashion shows…if only we had known what horrors rhey would inflict!

Another view of the living room.

A entirely different look in the Dining Room with more treasures collected by Sally.

Another view of the dining room.

Art in the kitchen.

Sally’s quote…”Reid started playing guitar as a kid and it was a huge deal when his parents bought him his first guitar. His was one of the first bands to have music videos on MTV. He read up on which guitars his idols (T Rex, John Lennon, Jimmy Page, Jimmi Hendrix) liked and when he could afford to start buying guitars, he quickly developed a habit and guitar collecting has become his passion along with collecting high-grade vintage audio components.” Nena’s note…what an amazing collection and I am mad for the way Reid has displayed his collection, perfection on many levels!

All photographs courtesy Sally Schwartz, photographer M Lindsay Photography




imageThe Monarch butterfly southern migration. The only butterfly that migrates.

I thought today would be a good time to talk about my obsession with butterflies as a child since yesterday’s book posting was about a lepidopterist. While I would not classify myself as such I did have a passion for butterflies and moths as a little girl when I would go butterfly watching with my Father.  At the time there were many vacant lots around our neighborhood many with urban gardens and urban gardeners (nothing is new!!!) and we would set out to watch these lovely creatures dart in and out of the flower gardens.  Some we would catch and, of course, free but then there were monarchs!  And oh my were there monarchs!  In addition to the vegetable and flower gardens, there were many patches of grasses and “weeds” one of which was milkweed which grew everywhere.  Milkweed is the food for the monarch and where they not only feed but laid their eggs, grew into caterpillars and formed their amazingly magnificent chrysalis. We did, by the way, plant milkweed seeds in our backyard garden.  In addition, to scouring the Chicago/Evanston area we continued our quest to find beautiful specimens on our summer visits to West Texas, where we saw many different varieties.  We also sent away for preserved butterflies and moths which we housed in specimen cases.  We spent hours in Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History carefully studying the butterfly and moth exhibitions. All were great for show and tell and school reports.

imageWatching the metamorphosis of the monarch as a child (or at any age!) is pure magic.  What looks like small yellow dots and stripes on the green chrysalis is actually gold!

We would often bring the caterpillars and their milkweed home and watch them spin their “slumber” homes and then hatch into the beauties they became.  Most of these treasures we released but we did keep a couple. Don’t hate me for “killing” butterflies, my Father researched this with experts to be as humane as possible…I know killing anything isn’t humane and believe me, I wouldn’t think of it now!

imageA piece my Father did…very early plastic with a treasured preserved monarch…he included copper wire and strands of hair from my Mother, me, as well as himself.  It is very, very old but a valued piece of my childhood and the times I spent with my beloved Father and his teaching me about butterflies and their amazing beauty and how to treat the delicate beings, but mostly spending quality time with him, that I relished most of all!!!

We all have been reading that the monarch is endangered, along with bees, both serious threats to our eco system, and while I was doing a bit of research on monarchs I found that this is due to the lack of milkweed which has been virtually eliminated by chemical spraying and land development, when did you last see a vacant lot?   Many people are now planting milkweed, which by the way is quite beautiful in its own way.  I plan on asking all my friends who live in Harbor Country to plant milkweed seeds to encourage monarchs to thrive again…please do the same!  Here is a site that can be useful if you want to help save the monarch butterfly…please consider it!



In lieu of a Butterfly Cake, I am giving you a Hummingbird Cake…I adore Hummingbird Cake…guess it is the Southern coming out in me, courtesy of my Mother…I have made this cake once and loved it! Hope you do too. I do a bit more frosting…like lots between the layers as well as on top.


Nonstick baking spray

2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened

2 cups granulated sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

4 large eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 4 medium)

One 8-ounce can crushed pineapple

Frosting, recipe follows


2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened

Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese softened

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

I added some chopped walnuts to the frosting, a handful or so!



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray three 9-inch baking pans with nonstick baking spray.

In a large bowl, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and vanilla at medium speed with a mixer until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add to the butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Add the bananas and pineapple, beating until combined.

Using a measuring cup, spoon the batter into each of the three prepared pans, one scoop at a time to ensure an even distribution. Slam the pans against the counter to get any air bubbles out of the batter.

Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool completely on wire racks.

Spread some Frosting between the layers. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Garnish with coconut and nuts if desired.


Beat the butter and cream cheese together with a handheld electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar in increments. Lastly, beat in the lemon juice and vanilla.




imageI had not read the first of the Veronica Speedwell mysteries but there is enough background in this second mystery that it breaks my rule that one should always start with the first book in a series!  As you know I am a fan of English mysteries and truly enjoy those set mid-to-late 19th Century. I am, as I am sure many of you are, enraptured with the Masterpiece production of Victoria (I can’t believe there is only one episode left in this season!!!) and reading this book at the same time was perfect.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book…I felt it was more a character study of Veronica and her partner, Revelstoke Templeton-Vane (Stoker), in solving the puzzle of the crimes more than the crimes themselves.  By the way, this isn’t a romance novel, although you might like it to become one, if you get my meaning, our protagonists are very well suited, but alas, they are just “friends”.  Veronica is a true feminist, a very educated woman, very unusual at that time (I think we think of Victoria’s reign as restricting to women, I think we found this not to be true many women were in the forefront of creativity, science, invention, etc. and I love reading about their achievements even if, in this case, it is fiction, I believe it to be based on fact), and doesn’t mind getting “down and dirty”.  She has traveled the world in search of her passion and livelihood, collecting butterflies.  As a lepidopterist, she has been in many exotic locales and met many obstacles (these are just briefly referenced). She and Stoker are working on restoring, cataloging and adding to the collections of their friend and benefactor, Lord Rosemorran when Veronica is asked to save a man convicted of murder and is sentenced to the gallows in a week.  Who asks her and why is a spoiler so I will let you read that for yourself. The story takes them to an artists concave in a magnificent town home where we meet many creative independent thinking bohemian types.  It takes them to an opium den, a grotto in a manor house and various other locations each adding a tasty bit to the plot. And, of course, it takes them to Scotland Yard to work with Sir Hugo Montgomerie, Head of the Yard’s Special Branch with whom they had worked on their last mystery.  I thought I had figured out “who did it” just a bit before Veronica’s reveal (I was correct).

I haven’t read any of Deanna Raybourn’s,, Lady Julia Grey’s novels but shall put them, as well as the first Veronica Speedwell mystery, A Curious Beginning in my to be read queue!   My Independent Bookseller of choice.



imageSally Schwartz in front of her cigarette lighter collection.


I was always organizing activities and very creative, not always practical, in how I approached the world. Stuff came very easily to me as a kid, I was very resourceful with materials and loved making macramé, writing and playing songs, choreographing dance numbers, putting on plays. The first event I remember actually spearheading was a kid’s carnival to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis. We had tickets, a roller coaster(of sorts), dunk tank, I think I was around 8. Then when I was 11 I threw a Valentine’s Party with my best friend and we had the whole class, we made valentine’s for the girls who weren’t going to get any and just wrote “love your secret admirer” on it. Everyone went home happy. Then I threw an 8th-grade graduation party, and on and on. I used to write and type my college papers while throwing a party, I would sit with my typewriter while everyone partied around me. I guess I thrive on chaos.

imageSally with husband, Reid Brody.  One of my most favorite couples, they are amazing!!!


When I met you, Nena!! My first big party with my own party business at age 25, I got you to donate goodies from Saks for the wives of all the big daily newspaper publishers — you were (and still are) my idol!  (Nena’s note…Oh My!!!!) Then my biggest profile success when I first designed the Chicago Antiques and Collectibles Festival in the mid-90’s. It was like throwing a party and having everyone show up for it. It sort of shocked me to set out to do something and actually do it. But let me say that it is very easy to do something amazing and have it be a fluke and lose it all. When I lost the site where that event was being held (it was sold and now has townhomes on it) it took me 10 years to relocate to the West Loop so you could say I had it, then I lost it, then I found it again.

imageOne of my favorite photos of Sally and her treasured daughter, Kasey Kozak, at a summer Randolph Street Market.


My passion was for collecting art and antiques, but also for throwing parties. So I was buying real vintage props to decorate my parties and was running to snippychuck and yarrsville (my mom’s expression) to flea markets. There was no market in the city and I thought it would be fun if there was.

imageSally holding court in her Cabana at the Randolph Street Market.


If I couldn’t be a movie critic or a travel writer, I think I would enjoy being a secretary and just being told what to do. Also a professional greeter or telephone operator. I can talk to a wall and you don’t take that kind of work home with you!!! But I also love coming up with logo design and designing products.


The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, could and have, read it over and over and over. I also love Madame Bovary, Scarlett & Black, Cousin Bette. I don’t really love anything current, I love the visual period description of lavish settings and characters in these books.


I love the great movie sets but there are too many to mention, I could watch movies all day. Gigi, Funny Girl, Fiddler on the Roof, all the great musicals I could watch over and over. Turning Point with Shirley MacLaine, Suddenly Last Summer with Katherine Hepburn and Liz Taylor. Blazing Saddles,  Mel Brooks. Trainwreck with Amy Schumer is an all time favorite.


The Glencoe Theater – it no longer exists but it’s where I saw everything from Winnie The Pooh, Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, and Jaws. Best giant boxes of Good & Plenty. Went to many a birthday party and date there.


My mom used to take me, she actually danced at the Lyric in a ballet when she was a kid and always pushed me to take ballet which I did for many years. I was pigeon toed and couldn’t turn out, it was very frustrating but I still love going to the ballet. I always loved seeing anything Twyla Tharp. But seeing Margot Fonteyn in Swan Lake (I think) and seeing Baryshnikov in anything.


Madam Butterfly and La Traviata


I  love guitar, anyone who can play and sing well – from country to jazz to blues to classical


I used to love Charlie Trotter’s, I grew up with him and had many a special occasion there. My new fave is bellyq in the West Loop, so delicious, perfect.


Collecting cigarette lighters and reading. coloring books are so fun – I used to play the mandolin but I would have to cut off all my nails. I really wish I could cook or do gardening but I’ve been horrible at both.

imageA portion of Sally’s lighter collection in its new home.


We have a modern house with lots of period furnishings. It ranges from mid-century modern to 1940’s to French Victorian to global. I guess this is what is referred to as eclectic!

imageThe ruler of the house, Purrcee, bejeweled and sitting on one of Sally’s needlepoint antique chairs!



Tim Samuelson, the Chicago Historian

Edith Wharton

Spaulding Gray

Bill Clinton

Michael Jordan

Tony Bennett

The whole Rat Pack – Frank, Dino, Sammy

And of course, NENA!

I’d have it catered, maybe have fondue pots — and obviously unlimited amounts of cool cocktails


Nevis and anywhere in the Caribbean


df66f-1967-henry-moore-university-of-chicago-a-800Henry Moore’s bronze sculpture, Nuclear Energy on the University of Chicago campus, the site of the first nuclear reactor.


As someone who didn’t owe anyone money!! As having a good heart and leaving the world a better place.

Nena’s note….no one could have a bigger better heart and with all Sally does she is definitely making the world a better place!!!!

Next Market Saturday and Sunday, February 25 and 26 from 10 to 5 each day.


Sally’s Easy As Beans Veggie Chili

2 cans 15oz each black beans drained & rinsed

2 cans 4.5oz each chopped green chilies

1 can 14.5oz Mexican stewed tomatoes undrained

1 can 14.5oz diced tomatoes undrained

1 can 11oz whole kernel corn drained

4 green onions slices

2-3 Tablespoons chili powder

1 Teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 Teaspoon dried minced garlic

Combine all ingredients in a 5 qt slow cooker. Cover and cook on high 5-6 hours or cook on low 8 hours. Makes 8 cups. Serve with shredded Mexican cheese, chopped onions, and sour cream.

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I really don’t intend to do posts on modern fashion nor street fashion but I must tell you what my thoughts are on the just completed New York Fashion Week for Fall/Winter 2017.  In a word, extraordinary!  One of the best in recent memory.  Many of the established houses have brand new designers and others have chosen to bend the fashion “rules”, in my opinion, for the good.

I will only mention a couple of the collections out of perhaps a hundred or more.  The two long time houses, Oscar de la Renta (be sure to get your Oscar de la Renta US postage stamps launching today, Friday, February 17th) and Calvin Klein have brand new (to them) designers and I must say the collections, look fresh, modern and totally relevant…very salable but with lots of news to tempt the customers. The third collection I will mention is Christian Siriano.

Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia have energized the well-established house of Oscar de la Renta.  Not only were the clothes contemporary, young and beautiful but the production was a total departure from the usual ODLR shows of the past. A new era has dawned for the house while keeping the DNA of the brand.  Having worked with Oscar on many occasions, I know he would be thrilled. Bravo to all!’m not a pink gal, but find this absolutely stunning, particularly love the sequin cummerbund.

Now that is what I could call the perfect LBD, adore the boots!

I must say I was very confused at Raf Simons going to Calvin Klein, I was entirely wrong, he is perfection!  Loved, loved, loved the collection.  Again a refreshing new twist to an established house that needed an infusion of new, it got it!

The coat that everyone is talking about…I don’t quite get the sandals but never mind!

Now about Christian Siriano, he was the last designer I worked with at Saks Fifth Avenue, actually my very last day in the Store…I had been following him since his Project Runway days and his first collection wasn’t too long after that and his first ready-to-wear collection was a beauty.  His subsequent collections have been amazing, you see his incredible creations constantly on all the red carpets. For his Fall 2017 Collection, he used the most diverse models, all sizes, all ethnicities, it was spot on perfection.

A beautifully constructed column of satin.

Now for the flashback part….when I started attending fashion weeks in New York, a lifetime ago, the collections were shown in the designer’s showrooms on Seventh Avenue, mostly in the 550 and 530 buildings.  Many were presented more than once and you went from floor to floor and/or building to building.  The audiences were the press and store buyers and some private clients.  Either the designer, Bill Blass and Pauline Trigere for examples, or their representatives commentated the shows.  You were sent a special hand written invitation sometimes before you left your city or it was waiting for you at your hotel.  Why was I included you might ask.  Well, I had established relationships with the designers themselves or their representatives when they were in Chicago to do their trunk shows.  I sent myself to New York (the Store did not pay for my trip but did give me time off to attend the shows I didn’t have to take vacation time, bonus!!!), sometimes Corporate would get me tickets (in later years).  It was a very exciting time.  As the years passed the shows became larger and major productions first in hotels and then the Bryant Park Tents and Lincoln Center, these became mob scenes and the audiences were (are) huge.  The last couple of seasons some of the designers have done smaller venues and smaller shows…everything old is new again!  Others seek interesting event spaces.  I must say I preferred the intimacy of the showroom presentations.

The only showroom show I could find on YouTube is one of Trigere’s, I think it gives you a good idea of the intimacy of the shows and how special they were.  Is it time to revive this way of presenting…something to think about!  Find it under How Great Designer Prepare for Fashion Week.   Sorry, I can’t link you to it it is copyrighted



imageCandace and Chuck Jordan with a portion of their Harry Potter first edition collection. the photograph was featured in Fine Books and Collections Magazine.  The collection features all signed first editions, several presentation copies, and scripts signed by the entire cast from the first two Harry Potter films.

I hope you enjoyed the profile on Candace on Monday, I did mention that I would be highlighting her amazing collections today….here you go….

“I’m an absolute nut about antiques and have been a collector since age 13 when I bought my first piece at a “collectibles” shop in my hometown of Dupo, Illinois. It was $15 and I paid “on time” as they used to say. I still have it–a beautiful, dark wood carved English cabinet that we use to hold liquor.

Chuck and I have been lucky to travel the world and, of course, everywhere we’ve gone, I’ve made it a point to check out the local antique markets. Our favorite is the Marche aux Puces in Paris where we’ve been fortunate to find some beautiful things. I love pieces that bring back wonderful memories so everything in our house has a story.

Locally, my favorite hunting spots are Leslie Hindman Auctioneers and Olde Chicago Antiques My beloved, late designer/friend Paul Gonzalez and I never tired of previewing auctions or finding new sources. He always gave me great advice on collecting too that I shared in a blog post here.

I also collect antique paperweights and Christmas memorabilia. Chuck says I have so many collections, all he can afford to collect are toothpicks.

As you can tell from the photos, I haven’t met a bare wall I’ve liked nor an empty table I enjoy. I love maximalism and I’m not afraid to admit it.”

imageCandace’s first antique bought in her little hometown for $75.00 (she paid  for it “on time”)

imageThe 19th-century bronze sculpture, “Fighting Stags” by Clovis Masson sits on top of the cabinet.

imageThe Jordan’s living room, chucked full (no pun intended!!!) of treasures.

imageA portion of the paperweight collection on a vintage silver serving tray.


imageNot a space left unadorned!

imageA close up of the Thomas Boog shell box.  Purchased in Paris along with a candelabra and mirror…Candace is “crazy about shells, thanks to Tony Duquette!’ Whose motto was “More is More”!!!   Nena…My decorating philosophy as well.

imageA marble statue in front of the shell mirror.


A magnificent antique clock and more shells and coral on a wall in the living room. To the left a peek at some of the Christmas collectibles.

imageBedroom with antiques from Paris and New Orleans…wall hangings above the bed are from a Paris flea market, stumpwork piece on left from a New Orleans auction and the needlework piece on the right is from Leslie Hindman Auctioneers all 19th century.  The canopy is 18th century French.  The gilded wooden headboard is from a local antique shop.

imageThe collections continue onto the terrace.

imageChristmas collectibles are so important to the Jordan’s that Candace becomes one herself!!!

A huge thank you to Candace and Chuck for sharing a glimpse of their amazing collections. All photos from the Jordan’s personal collection.

Candid Candace Chicago Tribune column (; Candid Candace blog (; Candace’s award-winning internet show, Candid Candace TV– ( and Candid Candace Chicago Now blog ( )

Social Media info: Candid Candace on Twitter and Facebook; Candid Candace on Instagram; Candace Jordan on Facebook; Candace Jordan on Pinterest (



  1. candacejordan February 13, 2017 / 1:57 pm

    NENA!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH! It’s a wonderful post (not because it’s me, but because of your beautiful writing and organizing of the images!!) Will share it everywhere after I submit this week’s Trib column.

    Love you, thank you….your blog is da’ BOMB!!!








    • nenasnotes February 13, 2017 / 2:09 pm

      Thanks so much Candace. I’m SO pleased you like it. I am grateful for your support. Don’t forget to see Thursday for your home. If you want to include any more photos for that post send them on!!! Hugs…


    • nenasnotes February 13, 2017 / 4:02 pm

      Need to do this as a testimonial are you okay with that!!!!!!????? It is so lovely.


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imageHummingbirds and Orchids by Martin Johnson Heade.

I love Heade’s orchid paintings but I love “live” orchids more!!!!  Since two very special annual orchid events are happening or about to happen I thought I would talk a little about them today.

Every year I travel to Villa Park, Illinois to the Orchids by Hausermann Open House. This year’s events are February 24 through 26 and March 3 through 5.  Not only can you wander through the 3 1.2 acres of magnificent plants but you can also learn how to take care of and propagate these beauties, win door prizes, take as many photos as you like and, of course, fill your basket with lots and lots of goodies (try to leave some for me!!!!).  I try to limit myself to a few but always end up with more than I planned on.  I can’t even begin to describe the amazing displays of the orchids, every imaginable variety, every color. Of course, you can order year round but it is the most fun to go to the Open House, trust me you won’t be disappointed.

imageOne of the many rooms filled with glorious blooms.

Many years ago, during a personal appearance and formal charity fashion show, I took Geoffrey Beene to the greenhouses, he was an avid collector of orchids and ordered from them until his death. An interesting aside, he had a home in Hawaii and obviously had his pick of the native flowers there.  Quite a compliment to Hausermann!  Orchids have been featured in literature forever, think Nero Wolff, for an example. And many books on the subject (there are lots to purchase at Hausermann as well as pots to put them in!!!).  I particularly loved Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief, a fantastically interesting non-fiction book, if you haven’t read it I encourage you to do so.


The second event is at our incredible Chicago Botanic Gardens  Their Orchid Show is happening now through March 26th. There are exhibitions, sales, classes or you can ask the Illinois Orchid Society,, questions on weekends.  There is always something special at the Botanic Gardens no matter what the season, stunning in winter as well as in bloom from Spring through Fall.  We are so fortunate to have so many options open to us in the “City of Gardens”.  I’ll talk about our other glorious public gardens in future posts this one is concentrating on another obsession of mine, orchids!!!!

imageI gave a friend an orchid plant two years ago (one of my go-to gifts)…it continues to rebloom…what is her secret, mine don’t ever rebloom, drat!!!!  But never mind, it just means I can buy more!!!!

I almost forgot to mention the upcoming Chicago Flower and Garden Show presented by Mariano’s at Navy Pier March 18th through 26th,, where you can really feel that Spring is just around the corner and see even more orchids along with blooming trees and plants.  Always a go-to Spring event in Chicago, one I never miss.

Do yourself a favor and get to ALL these amazing events, they are all exciting, beautiful and make you feel good in mid-winter, better than any medicine I can think of!  Enjoy!!!!