I thought it appropriate to celebrate the beginning of Spring with some thoughts and a couple of recipes, I hope you agree!

I have always adored celebrating special Holidays and this April has two special ones…Passover and Easter. Tradition rules in both who doesn’t like to dye and decorate eggs, make a favorite ham or brisket or make a great kugel…and celebrate with food!

I’ve shared many of my family Easter traditions in past years but I don’t think I’ve talked about my “lambie” cake experiences…forgive me if I’m repeating myself!!!! Let me first state I abhor them….now don’t send gobs of comments criticizing my opinion….let me explain…it’s a journey into my childhood!

My grandparents were deceased before I was born but I was blessed with the most wonderful substitute for a Gran…my beloved Great Aunt Rose, Daddy’s Aunt. She lived in a bungalow on Chicago’s Southwest Side and visited us in Rogers Park and then in Evanston most Sundays. She would drive her Ford to us (we never had a car…so that was special!) and we often drove to a restaurant in the country for an early special spit roasted chicken dinner, came back home spend time together and then have a light supper before she drove home. She was always with us for special occasions as well…Easter was one of those days. Each year she would bring a lamb cake and each year I would hope she wouldn’t…why you ask, I can’t stand dried coconut! To me it tastes like sawdust…plus her chosen bakery cake was quite ugly. Mom, of course, had baked many goodies so the gifted cake was put on display and, thank heaven, never eaten! Now, there are many luscious Easter cakes to purchase or make yourself…here are some along with an Easter Bunny cake or two…you can find the molds on line

Rather cute but similar to my dreaded childhood memory!!
Vintage Mold
Aren’t these the cutest Deviled Eggs ever….found on Running in a Skirt blog…
My favorite Easter treat…Hot Cross Buns!
I want this brisket now!!!!!
A fabulous salmon presentation!
Borscht always a winner…have I shared my recipe?

Recipe…8 ounces wide egg noodles cooked in salted water

1/4 cup raisins

1/2 cup full fat sour cream

1/2 cup cottage cheese

1/2 stick butter

2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3 eggs

1/2 cup canned condensed milk

Beat eggs and add all ingredients except butter…melt butter in casserole add all ingredients bake at 350 for 35 minutes! Enjoy

Then, of course, the star of the Easter table….baked ham


INGREDIENTS (Serves 8-9)

Fully cooked spiral ham

1 cup pure Maple Syrup

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup good Bourbon

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Whole cloves


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place ham in a large roasting pan. Fill pan with a depth of 1/2 inch with water. Cover pan and ham with aluminum foil. Bake in oven until internal temperature registers 120 degrees F.about two hours, basting ham every 30 minutes or so with accumulated juices.
Meanwhile stir together maple syrup, brown sugar, Bourbon, mustard and cinnamon in a medium sauce pan at medium high temperature and bring to a boil. Cook until thickened about 6 minutes. Keep warm and set aside.
Remove ham from oven and discard foil. With a very sharp knife score the fat of the ham every 1″1/2 diagonally in both directions.Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Insert cloves quickly in the intersections of squares.Using a pastry brush, glaze ham with ⅓ cup maple mixture; set aside remaining glaze. Return ham to oven, and bake at 400°F until top is lightly caramelized a thermometer inserted into thickest portion of meat registers 145°F, about 30 minutes, brushing with remaining glaze every 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Transfer ham to a platter; let rest 15 minutes. Serve.

And, of course, don’t forget the traditional Ukrainian hand painted Pysanky Easter Eggs. Refer to my 2022 blog post on these beauty’s!
My most favorite tree…a weeping redbud in My Toms front yard in Blue Island, Illinois!

However you celebrate….enjoy the tradition with family and friends. Happy Spring!


I love the Holidays….don’t you! And after stuffing ourselves at the feast that is Thanksgiving it’s time to think about Christmas and what better time to do that is to take a short trip to a wonderful small town middle America old fashion day of holiday cheer ending in a lights parade….I can think of nowhere else that exemplifies that feeling than Blue Island, Illinois.

This town, established in 1835, is a hop, skip and jump from downtown Chicago and it’s claim to fame (actually it has many claims to fame…I’ll save more for a future post!) was back in the 1850’s when it became the brick making capital of the world and in 1883 when it became the hub of the car shops of The Rock Island Railroad. It prospered with the growth of the railroads as did other small towns such as Michigan City and LaPorte, Indiana (I’ll save the railroad story for yet another post!) Blue Island has such a variety of homes from vintage Victorian to bungalows to Mid-Century Modern that it is worth your while when you visit to drive around town…it’s extraordinary!

The events are all FREE (except when you find a treasure at The Kringle Mart!). This is made possible by year round fund raisers. This year only needed one to raise the necessary funds, the reopening of the beloved The Lyric Theater. The long awaited totally renovated building can hold up to 400 for special events as well as screens for movies.

Now back to the purpose of this post…Christmas in Blue Island! On Saturday, December 3rd a day filled with so many activities you will need to take a break at one of the many pubs and local restaurants before the evening’s Light Parade. A truly traditional day of family fun in small town America.

From last year’s Kringle Mart.
An elf ice sculpture….
A perfect photo op…I remember having one of Santa, aka my Daddy, and me a treasured memory!
One of the most popular attractions….the pony rides….another of my favorite memories as a child!

Forget about New York’s Macy’s Parade…give me a local heartfelt parade anytime of the year! Let’s look at some highlights from last year’s event…

This composite courtesy of Cas Ltd Photography
A beautifully restored 1940 Packard dressed up for the occasion.
The Blue Island Eisenhower High School Marching Band…obviously inspired by Professor Harold Hill of The Music Man fame and his Seventy-Six Trombones!
Mr. and Mrs. Claus arriving in style!
To the joy of this child’s face and mittened wave…..after all…that is what the day is all about!!!!

All photos provided by my BFF’s Tom Hawley and Tom Mantel.


It isn’t often that a book hits a cord or in this case many cords with me….and that is exactly what Michael Kutza’s STARSTRUCK does!!!! It’s a memoir, it’s an insight into the birth of an entrepreneur, it’s a 50+ year history of a City plus much much more! It’s a deep dive into the movie industry with lots of intimate inside stories told with humor, honesty and a bit of sass, okay, a lot of sass!

It all started in 1964 when Chicago columnist, Irv Kupcinent introduced the 22 year old Kutza to the retired film star, Colleen Moore. Moore was a mega star in the 1920’s, was the first to bob her hair (which became her trademark) was the original “flapper“ and appeared in over 60 silent films. And by the way, you can see her magical fairy castle at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. It is amazing…perhaps I do a nenasnotes blog post on the unique artifact in the near future!

COLLEEN MOORE In the 1920’s
The Fairy Castle

Let me let Michael tell you the story of their meeting….

”So I met this wonderful lady named Colleen Moore. She was a silent film comedian just like Mary Pickford but she retired here and married a man named [Homer] Hargrave, who was the president of Merrill Lynch. He had just died so suddenly I’ve got this film star widow with nothing to do and when Irv Kupcinet introduced me to her it was like magic. It was very much like a mother and son relationship, she helped me to do the whole thing. She knew all the movie stars in the old days so she got them all together to come to the first film festival.”

The first Chicago International Film Festival 1965

Kutza a totally hands on entrepreneur! Photo from STARSTRUCK.

Michael, a native Chicagoan, gives us a history lesson on the birth of the film industry in which, Chicago played a major part. I particularly like his telling of the Chaplin story from the beginnings of the mega genius Charlie Chaplin to his daughter, the actress Geraldine Chaplin, to Robert Downey, Jr. brilliantly playing Chaplin in the movie Chaplin!

From the book’s Press Release…”As described in vivid detail in Starstruck, Kutza presided over an annual gathering that would over the next half-century host a veritable Who’s Who of the film world – from Harold Lloyd to Clint Eastwood, Bette Davis to Viola Davis, Steven Spielberg to Spike Lee, Guillermo del Toro to Jodie Foster, Lauren Bacall to Al Pacino. At the same time, the festival helped introduce a plethora of new talent that would go on to revolutionize the movie business, including Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone and Helen Mirren.”

The following photos are found in the book…

With Orson Welles
With Angela Lansbury
With Dustin Hoffman
Roger Ebert a huge supporter of the Festival

You will learn, as I did, the backstories of stars (major actors, directors, producers…many have become Kutza’s close friends) “real” personalities…many very nice…others not so much! Their demand’s, how about a private plane at a huge cost, some a bit more titillating…no detail is left out and I’m sure there are many more stories to fill a volume 2! Plus there is so much to absorb you will want to read it again and again!

Some of the major stars and directors through the years (they, in my opinion. are also stars!!!) Here are more photos from the book…

Jane Fonda
Jack Nicholson
Sidney Poitier
Oliver Stone
Ron Howard

Kutza’s dream as a very young man was to bring the best of film to his City which he describes in great detail…you get the good, the bad and often the ugly…the ups and downs of the process of working against all odds to produce an Internationally recognized and acclaimed Film Festival that predated, Sundance, Tribeca and Toronto. I’m thrilled to do this review for someone I’ve known for decades and you will throughly enjoy his journey…get the book you won’t be sorry!

A crowd hamming it up before a screening!

Kutza has a Podcast, Nose to Nose….here is a YouTube piece he did on the book…take a look it is fascinating!

I am so excited to tell you that I will be in conversation with Michael, via zoom, on Tuesday, January 24th when nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club joins the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum in a special event. Do join us when two native Chicagoans talk about two Chicago institutions The Chicago International Film Festival and The Costume Collection at the Chicago History Museum guaranteed to be a great time! Invitations will be out soon…to get on the list please contact Nell McKeown at

More images from the book…

Michael’s iconic “eyes” image, a composite of the silent film stars.

Most images are from STARSTRUCK all others found on Pinterest no photo credit available.


Join the fashionable crowd on Friday, November 4th for an excitingly unique experience, a screening of the new documentary based on Marcellas Reynolds first book SUPREME MODELS. I did a review on the book and a profile on Marcellas several years ago (check the nenasnotes archive), both are worth your viewing. I’m beyond thrilled for the success Marcellas has had with his two books, by the way…another is in the works!!!!! And now this long overdue film on the iconic black models.

Marcellas with his first book and his personal appearance at one of the monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club meetings.

The evening will include a panel featuring Chicago’s own icons along with the producer and the incredible super model, Veronica Webb….a not to be missed event!

I asked Marcellas for an exclusive quote, here are his thoughts…

“First, I love Chicago, my hometown. I love museums. So much of my work as a writer and now a documentarian is based on reverence for history. This documentary is a love letter to Black women, Black models, and everyone of every race who come together to create the dream of fashion. It’s also a love letter to the city of Chicago.

The panel is comprised of heavyweights in art, business, and fashion. The screening and discussion are a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be part of a global conversation about diversity and inclusion. I can not wait to hear from the members of this incredible group.

I ride hard for my hometown, and I’m always looking for a reason to come home and see my friends. And what better excuse than a glamorous fundraiser at the CHM? I’m looking forward to seeing Chicago turn up and turn it out. It’s going to be a party!”

Thank you Marcellas….here is the invitation….I know you will not want to miss this, get your tickets now!!!!!






Friday, November 4th, 2022, 5:30 – 9:30 PM
Chicago History Museum, 1601 N Clark St, Chicago, IL

5:30-6:30 PM: VIP champagne and caviar reception (limited tickets)
6:30-7:00 PM: Doors open for seating
7:00-8:30 PM: Screening and panel discussion start promptly at 7:00 PM
8:30-9:30 PM: Catered reception and viewing of Treasured Ten: Selections from the Costume Collection exhibitionSponsor or Purchase Tickets

You’re invited to the exclusive Midwest Premiere of Supreme Models, the documentary series based on Marcellas Reynolds’ bestselling book, Supreme Models: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Fashion. Join Marcellas Reynolds, Supreme Model Veronica Webb, Chicago Fashion Icon Ikram Goldman, Fashion Fair Cosmetics CEO Desirée Rogers and DuSable Museum Director of Curatorial Services and Community Partnerships Danny Dunson for a screening, panel discussion, and reception. The series features Iman, Zendaya, Precious Lee, Olivier Rousteing, Joan Smalls, Anna Wintour and many more.

Costume Council Co-chairs Pam Capitanini and John Rogers

Thank You to our Sponsors!

Model Sponsors
Lee Blackwell Baur
Richard and Diane Weinberg

Host Committee
Pamella Capitanini
Princess Greenwood
Rosemary Kallas
John Rogers
Noren Ungaretti

Questions? Please contact Nell McKeown at or (312) 799-2112.


One of my special evening cocktails on my sky deck….photo courtesy of
Mark Olley

This all started on October 13, 2016…how can that be possible!

As I begin year seven I think back of all the posts, I must admit, they have become infrequent…sorry about that…and I no longer repeat, with an update, that first post. I seem to use this space to share upcoming events that interest me and hopefully you. Most are benefiting organizations I believe in and support. I’m still doing book reviews, again not as often as in past years.

What am I up to…I’m still reclusive and continue to do the monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book and Film Clubs and The Fashion Master Class all are virtual. I’m thrilled to say I now have attendees from all parts of the US. Interested, drop me a note in comments with your email and I can send you details. I also do two monthly blog posts for my beloved Randolph Street Market Newsletter do check that out, as well as a few other free lance writing assignments. The last was in the October issue of CHICAGO STAR MEDIA, our newest monthly print and on line local paper…do subscribe if you don’t already…everyone’s favorite Chicagoan, Candace Jordan, is the Associate Publisher so you know you will get ALL the latest scoop on what’s going on in our incredible city!

A short post….what’s up next, who knows. Will I promise to post more often, I can’t promise but will do my best, I’d love for you to tell me what you would like to know about…more books, fashion history, recipes…do leave suggestions in the comments. I’m anxious to hear from you.

Stay safe and well….until we meet again….cheers!


ELLEN STIRLING, owner of The Lake Forest Shop

To say it’s unusual for an independent specialty store to celebrate 100 years in business is truly an understatement….but that is exactly what the charming Lake Forest Shop is doing this month! What is their secret, in my minds eye several things, first it’s owner, the granddaughter of the founder of the business and the incredible personal service she and her staff give their clients. Remember I was in retail for my entire career so I definitely have an opinion on retail survival, wouldn’t you agree! She upholds the tradition of “giving the customer what she wants” in spades.

Inside the Store

I had the privilege, upon my retirement, to work with Ellen and her team on several fashion events…they were incredible to work with, true professionals in every regard. Ellen fills her charming store with merchandise selected for her clients all of whom she knows intimately another key to the success of the store. I would suggest you go on line and read the story of the store as well see more photos, I’ve also included the press release information at the bottom of this post.

The purpose of this post is to tell you about a very special event, yet another for the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum, on Thursday, September 29th…I don’t know who is busier The Lake Forest Shop with their celebratory events or the CC with theirs!!!! By the way, the CC will be celebrating their own anniversary in 2024, their 50th! Stay tuned for all the special plans for that celebration. The Shop is known for its philanthropy and hosts many events annually. Here is the invitation for the CC event, for more information please contact Nell McKeown at

Meet the Costume Council members who will be modeling that evening…quite the bevy of beauties, I know you agree!


You won’t want to miss this once in every 100 years event…but guess what you have many years to enjoy the personalized service, unique atmosphere, and great selections that are the trademarks of The Lake Forest Shop. Here is more detail information on the centennial

FYI this is not a paid promotion….I don’t do paid pieces, I just like to give my readers information they will enjoy! Be sure to make your reservation now it will be such a delightful evening!


It doesn’t seem possible that this event is celebrating it’s seventh year…but I know it will go on for many more years….we have so many fashionable men to honor!

Let me give you the deets of this years glamorous fun packed evening on Thursday, September 22nd. The evening will be filled with food, speciality drinks…think martinis and manhattans…music provided by the extraordinary DJ Eddie Johnson and, of course, FASHION, lots and lots of fashionable gentlemen not to mention all the guest’s finery!!!! It is definitely the place to see and be seen! Tickets are $100 per person and can be purchased at or by calling Nell McKeown, development events manager, at (312) 799-2112. A perfect way to celebrate the first day of Fall !

“We are thrilled to honor ten Chicagoans in an exciting celebration and ceremony at the Chicago History Museum. Our mission is to continue to build relationships in the community, and fundraise to support he 50,000 piece costume collection.” Maggie Morgan, President of the Costume Council

Michael Anderson
Vice President, External Engagement & Development,Chicago History Museum “Each year we look forward to the Chicago Men’s Fashion Awards to recognize outstanding men in Chicago with distinctive and unique style, while also raising funds for the preservation and presentation of the Museum costume collection.”
“Receiving the CMFA twice, once in 2018 and then in 2020, has meant the world to me as it combines two things I love: Chicago + Fashion! And being selected by such an honorable organizations is such an incredible distinction for me!”

Let’s look at this years award honorees. I can’t wait to see what they will be wearing as they arrive at the Museum in style in luxury cars graciously provided by Howard Orloff Imports.

Prosper Bambo
co-founder of “Congruent Space” boutique. The boutique marries high fashion and street wear design with thoughtful art.

Personal Style: Electic – Fashion Forward, Futuristic
Style InspirationL Walte Van Beirendonck, Contemporty Art, He likes edgy and modern trends

D’Ontace Keyes

ViiV Healthcare, works to drive the conversation and awareness for those affected and effected with AIDS

Personal Style: Minimalist with a twistStyle
Inspirations: Art – Making, Movement, presence and confidence
Danny Miller

Store Director, Max Mara Chicago

Personal Style: Sophisticated, Modern, Dapper, Chic and Sporty
Style Inspirtaion: Interior Design and fabrics, loves quality design and fashion that matches this lifestyle

Jackson Miranda

President of New Business for Mod Construction

Personal Style: Classic, Sporty, Streetwear
Style Inspiration: Pop Culture

David Murga
Owner, Galan Styling in the 900 N Michigan Shops.

Personal Style: Clean Tailoring, mixing texture and neutrals
Style Inspiration: Modern Architecture

Matthew Rodrigues,
Co-host for Chicago’s NBC 5 Today show

Personal Style: Modern, Clean Colorful, very bright, upscale JCREW looks
Style Inspiration: Classics meets Andy Warhol
Zak Rodriguez
Along with his brother, Brian Atwood, they are the designers and owners of the new designer shoe company, IL Fratellino

Personal Style: Refined Renegade, Classic men’s Fashion with rebellious twists like slim cuts, leather, denim, metallic and wild colors.
Style Inspiration: All things London, Slim Cut Suiting of the 60’s, Vivienne Westwood Punk – T shirt look.
Old School but modern

Carmen Rossi
President of 8 Hospitality owns the popular Chicago Restaurants of Hubbard Inn, Blue Violet, MASQ, Joy District and Old Ground Social. Just recently he started his fashion brand ” sur le lac”

Personal Style: Tailored suits, designer street wear, shorts and hoodies
Style Inspiration: 1920’s gangster, 1960’s rock n roll, 1990’s grunge and layered jewelry
Frank J Rubel III
Director of Investment Partnership for Kirkland & Ellis.

Personal Style: Glamour and sophistication, the right handbag completes an ensemble
Style Inspiration: Disco and my grandmother
Sam Sanchez

President of Third Coast Hospitality which owns and operates Moe’s Cantina, Tree House Chicago, Old Crow Smokehouse, Tunnel Chicago, and La Luna. Sam is the first Mexican-American to Chair the Illinois Restaurant Association.

Persona Style: Business Cowboy
Syle Inspriration: Mexican Heritage, Vibrant Colors

Here are the co-chairs, and their thoughts on the evening…they join the the Costume Council President, Maggie M. Morgan and the Event Committee: Amanda Bonnell, Pam Capitanini, Anne Forman, Courtney Hopkins, Peggy Martay, Jennifer Massarelli, Maggie M. Morgan, David Mordini, Karen Peters, John Rogers, David Sanchez, Aaron J. Shirley, and Karen Zupko

“Chicago is no second city when it comes to fashion and with this year’s honorees, it’s clear Chicago has its own unique perspective on elevated personal style. We’re excited to continue growing the event with new partners, fashionable guests and fantastic catering at the Chicago History Museum. Moreover, we’re delighted the event coincides with the Treasured Ten exhibit, featuring 10 pieces from Chicago-based black designers.”
“The Chicago Men’s Fashion Awards in a very Fashionable Evening with Men, Martininis and Manhattans!”

The evening’s MC is the popular WGN-TV personality, Glenn Marshall.

The fashionable food is provided by, The Italian Village Restaurant, Lirica, Moe’s Cantina, Molly’s Cupcakes and Sable at Navy Pier.

The evenings generous sponsors are: Executive Sponsors…Pam and Al Capitanini, Richard and Diane Weinberg Bespoke Sponsors…Lirica, Moe’s Cantina, Molly’s Cupcakes, Offshore, Orloff Range Rover / Jaguar / Volvo, John Rogers and Tye Radcliffe, Two Girls and a Hammer, 8 Hospitality Haberdashery Sponsors…ESQ Clothing, Sable Hotel BowTie Sponsor…10 MGMT Cufflink Sponsors…Michael Anderson, Dustin Erikstrup, Courtney W. Hopkins, jBlonde, Peggy Martay, David Mordini, Maggie M. Morgan, Kiran Patel, Karen Peters, The Shirley Family

I hope I’ve convinced you to attend this high powered evening…looks like a great fun event…don’t you want to be fashionable too, then…GET YOUR TICKET NOW!!!!!


And just like that the uber popular and dearly missed RANDOLPH STREET MARKET is back and so are the monthly nenasnotes exclusive posts for their blog,!

What can you expect from my posts, well I’ll give you some hints….I’ll feature some thoughts on fashion and why sustainability is so important..what better way to shop responsibly that by adding vintage to your wardrobe…we all like to look unique, ✔️the wonderful finds…from designer names to logo tees and, of course, every fabulous accessory you can think of can be found at these extraordinary phenomenal events!!!

My first post is on the RSM blog as I write this…what is its theme you might ask….BARBIE!!!!! This photo found on Pinterest photo credit unknown.

Here I am in a fabulous beaded necklace and my exquisite vintage embroidered quilted kimono at a Market!

Always exciting jewelry finds…..

We will explore the return of vinyl….for the nostalgic it never went away for others it’s a new collectible. I’m also thrilled that young people are now craving their grannies china, silver, glassware…it’s about time.

Thinking mid-century modern furniture, objects, ✔️they are there…no need to fret! Many other furniture styles await your perusal….

Textiles…most certainly…I have found so many one of a kind pieces from paisley pieces to needlework to quilts, both old and new…I have dibs on any crazy quilts you spot! A rug, why not, all sizes on display!

You will find ANYTHING you are looking for or had no idea you wanted. I’ll hopefully inspire you to find new collectibles, items to spice up your wardrobe, furniture, art, even vintage tools….the possibilities are endless. Here we go…..enjoy the ride!!!!

Sally Schwartz, the incredible entrepreneur and founder of RSM, et Moi together again and always!!!!!! This photo taken by the late, great Steve Starr at our first RSM together.

All photos taken by me for nenasnotes at past Randolph Street Markets, unless otherwise noted.