imageimageAbove photos taken by me with my iPhone at Randolph Street Market of Dollies’ Antiques and Treasures who will be outside at the July 29th and 30th Market.  I became fascinated with her collection in May and she explained how she got started collecting Flower Frogs. Another reminder to engage the vendors in conversation, not only are they eager to talk about their treasures but you will learn something new every time…I most certainly do.


imageA rare matte green flower frog

imageA marriage of a wire cage flower frog on top of a vintage plate.  Owner says it is quite useful for floral centerpieces.  Above photos were taken by Linda Heister of her flower frog collection exclusively for nenasnotes.imageimageimageimageimageAbove photos on how to use your flower frog collection (when not used for flower arrangements) from Pinterest photo credits unknown.

A site to show you how to use flower frogs from Martha Stewart

imageA book, of course, there is….looks quite interesting…found this on Amazon.

When I was a little girl we lived in Rogers Park on the Northside of Chicago (I wish I had that apartment today, it had incredible space, never did understand the long hallway from the front door to the living room but  it did make a great gallery for my Father’s artwork, but no matter, it was extraordinary!) Mom and Dad would often take me with them (read, always took me with them) to dinner and one of our favorite neighborhood spots was in an alley at the end of Howard Street just before you came to Sheridan Road.  It was an exquisite French Bistro and I adored it.  One of their specialties was fried frog legs (don’t get your knickers in a twist, they happen to be delicious, taste rather like chicken, you should be able to find them in the seafood section of a Whole Foods for an example) and I couldn’t eat enough of them.  My Father was of Russian descent, so perhaps his food tastes were a bit more European than most, and he was a superb cook, as was my Mother, (he loved to cook and I would stand on a chair and be his sous chef, I wish I had his recipes, I have shared his borscht with you in a previous post) and I ate many unique items from birth, one ate what was in front of them, I wasn’t told to clean my plate but knew early on that what was there was the choice for that meal, therefore, I eat just about anything (no insects, please and no, they weren’t on Daddy’s menus….).  I am sharing a recipe for Fried Frog Legs that I found on the internet, it sounds much like the recipe used from my childhood….this nostalgia is making me crave them again….I need to get to the Store……..

Prep Time
1 hrs
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
1 hrs 15 mins
This recipe works best with a combination of clarified butter, which you can buy in large supermarkets as Indian ghee, as well as regular unsalted butter. Or, you can clarify butter yourself; my colleague David Lebovitz has a tutorial here. You use the clarified butter to cook the frog legs and the regular butter for the sauce. Why bother? Clarified butter has a higher smoke point and holds up better when frying the frogs, while the regular butter tastes creamier for the sauce. You can, of course, use regular butter for everything, but it will scorch a bit.
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: French
Serves:  4 people
Author: Hank Shaw
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds frog legs (have your fishmonger remove the skin from the frog legs)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 cup flour
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced very thin
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  1. Soak the frog legs in the milk in the fridge for an hour. Meanwhile, mix the salt, black pepper and flour in a bowl, then chop the garlic and parsley.
  2. Heat 5 tablespoons of the butter in a frying pan large enough to hold all the frog legs; if you don’t have a pan large enough, put a baking sheet in the oven and set a rack inside. Turn the oven to about 180°F. You’ll use this to store the finished frog legs while you fry the rest. If you do have a large enough pan, set the baking sheet with the rack set inside next to the stovetop.
  3. Dredge the frog legs in the seasoned flour and shake off the excess. Fry in the butter over medium-high heat until golden, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Flip only once if you can help it, as the flour coating is fragile. Set on the rack to drain when the frog legs are done.
  4. Discard the butter in the pan and wipe it out with a paper towel. Set the pan back on the stove over medium-high heat. When the butter is hot, saute the garlic until it smells good, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat and swirl in the lemon juice. Arrange the frog legs on individual plates, and, right before you serve, mix the parsley into the sauce. Pour it over the frog legs and serve immediately.

    Hank Shaw’s comment: “I served my frog legs with sauteed chanterelles and crusty bread. But boiled or roasted fingerling potatoes would be another good option, green beans an ideal veggie, or maybe a bitter greens salad with a vinaigrette dressing. White wine or a lighter beer, i.e., a lager or pilsner, is a must”.

    Hank Shaw’s fascinating site, Hunter Angler Gardner Cook can be found at


imageI want to live here…..photograph from Pinterest from Architecture Digest.

Today’s posting will be pictures of gardens in the States with few words, their beauty speaks for them.  Enjoy…



imagePhoto from Pinterest credit unknown.

imageUnless otherwise noted photos of hydrangea from friends country garden.

9 Facts Every Hydrangea-Lover Needs to Know
imageimageThese two photos are from Grant Park between Congress and Roosevelt from Michigan Avenue to the railway tracks.
imageView from the top of a building looking down at Lincoln Park and Farm In The Zoo.  Our entire City is a garden…..
imageimageThree photos from a friend’s City penthouse terrace.
imageAn old fashion English rose bed in the country.
imageNothing beats the color of geraniums, from a country garden.
imageA lush fern in a vintage urn from the front garden of a country home.
imageIf you aren’t lucky enough to have a garden of your own (or be able to visit country gardens which I have the pleasure of doing) you can always enjoy botanical prints…these found at Paper Patty’s at the Randolph Street Market, the next Market will be Saturday and Sunday, July 29 and 30  Or you might find wonderful books on vintage gardens or current gardens at the Newberry Library Book Sale, this year’s sale, the 33rd annual event, will be Thursday through Sunday, July 27 through 30  Here’s a thought, why not make a day of it and do both these special events, you won’t be disappointed.
Photo from Pinterest credit unknown.
A preview of Gardens Part 2 when we will visit Sissinghurst, Giverny, and Russian gardens.
All photos unless otherwise noted taken by Nena with her iPhone.


imageThis is the first book I have read by Marcia Willett, I will now investigate her other works.  I don’t really remember where I saw the recommendation/review (I must start writing those things down…another learning curve!)  I do remember it appealed to me that the story is set in Devon, England.  It was 20 years ago, just about now, that I was in the general vicinity of the setting of the story…the only reason I remember this is that I had just returned to the States when Diana, Princess of Wales died.

The story isn’t my usual English mystery but rather an easy read about people…what a concept…of a certain age.  Two of the last three books I have read (the other two will be up in the next couple of weeks) are centered on characters who aren’t 20 somethings which I found interesting not necessarily something I would seek to read unless I’m doing Miss Marple!  But fascinating none the less.  In addition, the female characters are very independent women which I could most certainly relate to (no comments on that please!)

Okay let’s get on with Indian Summer, shall we….It is set in a small village in North West Devon near the River Dart.  There are several main characters and all their lives intertwine.  Sir Mungo, his brother Archie and Archie’s wife, Camilla, Kit, Kit’s former, and wants to be current, lover, Jake, Mungo’s dearest friends, Izzy and Ralph, both long gone from his life, Philip and his invalid brother, Billy and the newcomers, James, Emma and her children, Joe and Dora. Oh yes, many, many dogs….

Sir Mungo is spending time in his home on his brother’s land for a respite from the hectic pace of London.  He is now retired from being a huge star on the London stage as well as acting in and directing movies.  In his youth he was one of three very close friends, which included Izzy, who went on to be a bright star on stage and in her older years in cabaret, Ralph made up the third in the group.  He left them to seek fame and fortune in the States and neither Mungo nor Izzy forgave him.  Oh, I must mention Mungo refers to himself as “versatile” in his sexual preferences!  Kit calls and asks if she can come to visit, from London, she needs to digest the former love of her life waiting to come back into it and needs Mungo’s advice and sanctuary as well as the peace of the country.  Archie and Camilla are “empty nesters” (do they call them that in the UK…more research on my part) and the substantial estate and farm land are in need of major repair and updating and Archie is struggling with finding funds to take care of these costs.   He is renting two of the cottages to James who is writing his second book which he hopes will become a blockbuster novel, which sounds a lot like the book we are reading! Another is rented to Emma, whose husband a military doctor is stationed in Afganistan who is there with her baby daughter Dora and 5-year-old son, John.  Philip and Billy are long term tenants, both are widowed and have grown children and grandchildren.  Whew……

Kit is quite anxious to see Jake again, it has been many years since their last meeting and since their initial parting (I’m not spoiling this part of the book) but does agree to see him.  Emma has a flirtation with one of her husband’s best friends…see where that goes.  As in all English novels, there is a bit of a mystery that needs solving, again I’m not going to spoil it for you…it really is a bit out of the blue and I found it a bit disconcerting although a good way to include one of the characters back into the plot.

What it all boils down to is everyone is feeling either trapped in their circumstances or old or both..should they continue on as they are, renew old loves, make new ones, find a way to make the novel a success.  The English do love their land, shall it stay in the family or should Archie sell it to land developers.

Okay, did I like it or not….yes, I did, I found each of the characters well thought out and each came to their own conclusion in the end…no strings were left dangling even those you didn’t know dangled!  I found it refreshing to see the point of view of characters who are not Millenials getting on with their lives warts and all.

When I started my blog nine months ago this week…I decided I would only share, on my Tuesday Books Books Books posts, books I enjoyed and would recommend for you.  Is that being a Pollyanna (note the literary reference!) maybe but I must confess, if I don’t enjoy the book right away I don’t go further.  Yes, I am probably not being very intellegent in this choice but when one is of a certain age one can do what one wants, do you agree!?  Do make book recommendations to me in comments.

Marcia Willett has written fifteen other novels, before Indian Summer was published, and lives in Devon, England.  She has been compared to Rosamunde Pilcher (one of my favorite authors) and Maeve Binchy.  Her website is


imageViktor & Rolf’s whimsical Fall 2017-2018 Haute Couture Collection

imageAnd in reality… I really love the shirred jacket and the patchwork jeans

imageFrom their program notes “the mascots are rooting for a world that is creative, diverse and eco-conscious.”  The collection is all manipulated recycled fabrics.

You by now know I am a huge supporter of Haute Couture, most certainly not as a customer…if only, but for the whole idea of it.  The workmanship, the creativity, the tradition, long may it survive.  It is, of course, the laboratory of fashion and where most of the trends begin.  I have begun this post with the creative genius that is Victor & Rolf but let’s go back in time to the longest established Haute Couture House, at least until Lanvin comes back or someone reinvents Lucile…that House is Chanel.  Karl Lagerfeld never ceases to amaze us with his creativity.  This year’s show had a replica of the Eiffel Tower as the centerpiece of the show and the garments themselves were this seasons version of the traditional looks of the Brand.

imageThe Chanel set

imageThe traditional Chanel tweed suit given modernity

imageA new version of the LBD.  I particularly liked the nod to Chanel’s beginnings as a milliner.

imageSchiaparelli’s up next….I felt these represented the surrealistic feeling of the original designs of this imaginative creator.imageOf course, it is Dior, another collection that is inspired by the original designer in this instance Christian Dior and his Bar suit from the first Dior Collection in 1947. This Collection celebrates the Brand’s 70th anniversary.  Again, an ode to the importance of quality, longevity and pure style and looking perfect for today.


imageAlmost looks like a Galliano for Dior piece….take note of the red suit in the background, I’ll explain a bit further in the post

imageSpeaking of John Galliano, here is a piece from his collection for Mason Margiela

imageFrom Iris van Herpen’s collection which compares water and air (?) and was accompanied by underwater musicians, Between Music……

imageAnother look from the Dutch designer’s Haute Couture collection.

imageFrom John Paul Gaultier, as alway,s a fun but exciting collection. I usually wear a knit cap with my ball gown, don’t you??!!  But why not it is young, quite tongue in cheek, and very Gaultier.  Please note the long gloves, they were most definitely a trend in many of the Collections as well as the platform shoe and lots and lots of black, gray and white.

imageFrom Valentino, looking a bit like Armani…there were many beads, this gown with beaded fringe,  in the Collections but done with a light hand and quite beautiful.

imageOne of my most favorite pieces from the shows by the master of elegant sophistication and subtlety (perhaps not so subtle here!), Giorgio Armani for Armani Privé

imageAnother from Armani, I’m obsessed with the cocktail hat, if only we dressed like that again, so glamourous!!

imageTwo American Brands showed their Spring 2018 Collections the Sunday before the Haute Couture Collections.  Above three looks from Rodarte.

imageAnother from Rodarte by sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy.  Baby’s Breath adds a Spring touch along with the flower garden set.

imageInteresting red lace, the shoe bootie throws me a bit, don’t mind the idea but a bit heavy in the black, tan and white with the delicate lace….Many, if not all Collections had red in them…yet another trend to watch.

imageFrom Proenza Schouler

imageRemember last season the corset over the garment now we are seeing the bra over the dress

imageLove this look from Proenza Schouler need to lose the ruffle on the arm…aren’t the shoes to die for!!!

imageI end today with this exquisite gown from Giambattista Valli…he continues his short/long silhouette and it really works, here just one of his incredibly beautiful gowns from his Haute Couture Collection.

Of course, there are other Haute Couture Collections, I have chosen the ones I admired along with the ready-to-wear collections of the two American brands…let’s see if showing in the “fashion capital of the world” works its magic for them!  Stay tuned……

I would like to recommend you read Vanessa Freiedman’s, The New York Times fashion director and chief fashion cretic’s Open Thread post from Friday, July 7, 2017, it is a brilliant critique on the Haute Couture Collections…I can’t, for some unknown reason, pull it up and share it with you, sorry!

All photos from Pinterest credits unknown.








imageEach month at the Randolph Street Market I search for blogging inspiration and I always come across something that entices me.  These pots were no exception!  I found them at the Randolph entrance to RSM at Cosmic Girl Goes Home’s booth along with many other fascinating objects.  The proprietor, Robin Sweeney, doesn’t come every month, she travels from Ohio, but you will be greatly pleased when she is there, I love her ecstatic!  You can find her at her Instagram account @cosmicgirlgoes or on Facebook at cosmic girl goes home.  What I liked about these terra cotta pots is that they are already weathered.  Yes, you can do this yourself or perhaps you have some in your garden shed but if not you are in luck…I love the patina.

imageimageA couple more shots from the booth.  All three photos I took with my iPhone.


Let’s look at some ways to use them in the garden or in your home….all the following photos were found on Pinterest photo credits unknown.



A garden arch of terra cotta pots as well as pots for all the blooms.  I want to live there!


imageLove this!




Am I the only person who misses Martha Stewart’s original programs….I simply devoured them and really learned so much.  Perhaps they can be streamed somewhere…can’t you stream everything!!!!  One series she did was with Guy Wolff and it was absolutely fascinating.  Here are a couple of photos of his wonderful work  There are several very interesting Guy Wolff videos on YouTube.





imageOf course, I have to share his book….what would nenasnotes be without a book recommendation!!!!

The history of terra cotta (earthenware) takes us to ancient times and could be a very long post, instead, I thought I would briefly bring up Emperor Qin the first Emperor of China’s terra cotta army.  Thousands of the terra cotta soldiers were found buried with the Emperor, each with a different face.  I was mesmerized by them when many of them were on exhibition at the Field Museum last year.  You will want to read the entire story here are two sites to give you lots of information, The Smithsonian Museum Magazine has a great article as well as National Geographic  Check YouTube for in-depth videos on this unique view of history.





No recipe today, don’t have too much I can do with terra cotta, although you could think up something with fresh clean pots….hum, let’s think about that!!!!  Martha where are you when we need you!!!!




I have been letting you know I have had major technological issues the last few weeks, I finally got myself into the AT&T flagship store on North Michigan Avenue and after several hours (I must say very pleasant hours!!!) with my new friend, Dario, everything is sorted…I have new play things!  The only issues are that I have to reprogram many things, redo passwords, etc. etc. etc.  I am still using my “vintage” PC to write nenasnotes, I will eventually get a keyboard for my iPad and other gadgets, I do love gadgets!!!  PS to that story, I am a creature of habit and a person who worked with a company where the “S” not only stood (and stands) for Saks but also for Service, and that is always what I get from AT&T.  It doesn’t matter whether I am on the phone with questions and/or a problem or in person at their American flagship, I wouldn’t change for the world!

Now you may well ask, “Nena what does this have to do with the old Bell Telephone Company”, let me explain. I was at an event several years ago at the Chicago History Museum and met the AT&T Store Manager and their Visual Director who told me they were to have a “museum” at the newly opened flagship.  This peaked my interest and I mentioned to them that my Father had done the illustration for the front of the Bell Telephone book.  You may recall that he was a commercial artist as well as a fine artist and did may commercial projects, many of which were company logos as well as posters for The Columbia Exhibition (none of which bare his signature, they were, afer all commercial pieces!). They both expressed interest and that was that.  Time went by and I found myself in the store, I think I was upgrading (the last time) to a new phone and the young man (forgive me for not remembering his name, bad Nena!) saw me and come  over and said “I checked with our archivist and he verified the illustrator was indeed your Father!”  The original is housed elsewhere, probably at the AT&T headquarters in Dallas, but it is Daddy’s without doubt.  I was beyond excited and thrilled since I had grown up with that image with great pride.

The image which you will see below was taken from The Spirit of Communication, “The Golden Boy” that was sculpted by Evelyn Beatrice Longman and was, at the time, New York City’s second-tallest sculpture next to the Statue of Liberty, at 24 feet, it was cast in bronze and covered in gold leaf!  It was completed in 1916 and resided at the top of the Bell tower in Lower Manhattan until the 1990’s.  In the early 1930’s the Spirit of Communication logo appeared on the front of the telephone book.

imageTaken from Pinterest, photo credit unknown.

imageIsn’t he glorious.  He graces the lobby of AT&T in Dallas.  Pinterest photo credit unknown.

This brings us back to last week when I am seated in the middle of the AT&T flagship waiting for Dario, I turn on my stool and lo and behold what is behind me but a replica of “The Golden Boy”…I was gobsmacked!

imageHere he is for all or us to admire in Chicago.  The staff were quite intrigued with my story and I happened to have a photo of Daddy’s illustration which I shared.  And now I share it with you……

imageIvon’s illustration for the Bell Telephone Book from early 1930’s to early 1950’s.

And here is the artist’s photograph, signed to his beloved wife, Ruthy,my Mother, taken at the time of the illustration, early 1930’s.  It is my most favorite photo of him and one that I cherish.  I wish you all could know him he was a very special gentleman, talented, funny, a super sportsman, everyone’s friend, a respected artist (I would say respected as a human being!) and totally devoted to his family, we meant the world to him.  I will share more of his art with you in future posts, of that you can be sure!



This, by the way, is in no way a commercial for AT&T….rather the story of recognizing ownership of an iconic commercial image!