Graduation bbq down on the farm…

Tonight we went to the perfect graduation get together for our dear friend Nick, who is headed off to University of Colorado Boulder this fall.  Get ready girls…he will be one BMOC.

The party was held on an organic farm, Heritage Prairie (, in Geneva, outside Chicago.  The setting, even on this gloomy spring day, was so relaxed and beautiful.  The barn opens onto a lovely herb and vegetable garden, with goats, chickens, a hen house, silos…all the romantic farm architecture.

Inside the barn Angie, the hostess with the mostess, had set two long communal farmhouse tables with long linear designs of three elements:  fresh picked wildflowers in canning jars, oversize candles, and rustic pitchers of orange and mint infused water (gorgeous color and so simple to do).  The bar featured fresh lemonade in pitchers, served in more charming petite canning jars.  Why does that simple detail transport us to times gone by?  I love the little thoughtful details.

The menu blew me away…it was the ultimate bbq turned glorious harvest banquet.  The ingredients are grown, farmed and prepared on site – giving you the ultimate farm to table experience.  What a refreshing, inspiring experience for a city girl.  I had to run back to my car to get my camera!

A trio of huge, bountiful spring salads were displayed in oversize hammered copper bowls, making a jaw dropping presentation on the buffet.  My favorite was cherry tomato, corn, avocado and basil tossed in lemon. How fabulous is that for each and every summer menu?  Second was a rough chop asian slaw, followed by a leafy green salad with yellow and red beets, sunflower seeds and more.  Next was a heaping platter of bbq beef ribs, and a roasted potato hash topped with grilled flank steak slices.  I helped myself to the has and steak three times…it was that good.  The hash combined perfectly roasted and salted fingerlings, sweet potato (my favorite) and onion, with thinly sliced steak on top.  I love when the steak is cooked perfectly, and easy to cut with a fork, and tonight it was just as easy to slice as butter.

Dessert followed, with fresh from the oven cupcakes, cookies, whop pie pies, and divine mini chocolate milkshakes.  Of course for once I didn’t have dessert, because I was fixated on the buffet, having seconds followed by thirds.

Making the party even more memorable was an acoustic guitarist, flown in from Potbelly’s infamous rafters, filling the barn with wonderful renditions of every great song you can imagine.  Greg Boerner is hired – what magic he added to the party.  (

The farm and this entire party would also be perfect for any occasion – small wedding, rehearsal dinner, cocktail party, birthday party, corporate event, and more.  I cannot wait to go back to the farm.  I am already brainstorming on how in the world I can get my clients and friends to drive the 1+ hours west from the city to cecelebrate there in camelot with me…

May Hot List

May Hot List 

By Debi Lilly (contributed to Chicago Scene Magazine)

You know the feeling…you are going for a run, or out to a
bar, or walking to the grocery.
You don’t want to bring a purse (God forbid), you don’t have pockets
with a zipper in your yoga pants or Juicy sweatshirt, and you only need to
bring your credit card, a little cash and an ID.  What is a chic, urban
fashionista to do to carry around a little cashola? 

Well ladies and gentlemen, now you know.  The Porta Pocket is the latest and greatest “pocket” to wrap around
your arm, leg, ankle, or anywhere you please.  For running errands, a quick trip to the gym, or even a
night on the town, the Porta Pocket is great for holding credit cards, keys,
money, cell phones, ipods, and more.

With graduation right around the corner, these make a
perfect gift for high school or college grads, not to mention runners,
travelers, and anyone, anywhere on the go. 

Available at,
starting at $19.95.



Speaking of graduation gifts, a few other more feminine
favorites are perfect for all of your spring celebrations.  By reinventing the world of stationery
using the leading trends in fashion and home décor, Boatman Geller personalized
stationery and gifts
have whole-heartedly taken on the world of fine
stationery. The stationery’s clean lines, colorful patterns, and delightful
icons create snapshots of “the good life.” As founder Jane Boatman Geller
explains it, “I wanted to create a sense of a lifestyle – rooms draped in
toile, girlfriends gathering for a cocktail – or two.” After all, her designs
combine her love for the classics, while taking on a fresh approach to
traditional patterns, and whimsical illustrations.

Always seeking ways to make our lives
easier, these gifts offer everyone a wonderful new approach on old classics
like personalized stationery; monogrammed labels for return address stickers or
gift tags or book plates for your personal library; and wine tags for
personalized gift giving this spring and summer.

Available at A Perfect Event, 3050 N. Lincoln Avenue,
starting at $8.00



Beeswax is one of nature’s most
perfect products.  Prized since
ancient times, fragrant beeswax candles burn longer and cleaner than ordinary
wax candles.  Its slow, smokeless
flame gives off more light and heat than other waxes like paraffin, and are
virtually dripless.  Made by
industrious honey bees from the nectar of flowers, beeswax has a sweet, natural
fragrance all its own.  

Another perfect gift for spring
graduation, the Paddywax Journey of the
is my favorite candle for the season.  The packaging is gorgeous – and we all know that first
impressions are everything!  Inside
the honeycomb gift box, a matte black glass candle is adorned with a golden bee,
then hand poured with a high-quality beeswax blend. Each candle burns for 80
hours, almost twice the typical burn time of other similar size candles.  Scents are all fabulous, and include
Raw Honey (shown), Orange Blossom, Clover, Freesia, and Rose.  Available at A Perfect Event, 3050 N.
Lincoln Avenue, $38.00.



Ladies, we really need to support our local neighborhood
boutiques.  Is it me, or are they
dropping like flies all up and down our favorite trendy streets?  It is really breaking my heart…so I
have to share my favorite Southport fashion destination.  Perchance
Boutique, adorned in a “vintage
glam” motif, presents women’s shoes, clothing and accessories as unabashedly
feminine as the décor. The store design is a fusion of a French boudoir and an
inviting living room with a vibe inspired by boutiques you might find in Soho
or Paris. Mary Liz Lehman, the owner’s personal style is reflected throughout a
well edited 1,750 square feet of shopping bliss — modern day stamps on
classically flattering picks which currently includes everything from cool
trenches by Mackage and whimsical dresses designed by Shoshanna to sky-high
platform pumps by Bettye Muller and Delman, and fabulous handbags from MZ
Wallace. One of the few remaining mid to high end shoe salons, they carry just
over 100 styles of gorgeous shoes, boots and sandals from established designers
as well as emerging designers.

I have a hard time driving by (and I
live just a few blocks away…so this is a daily challenge) without being drawn
inside via their fashionable windows.
Inside, I always find many of my favorite (or soon to be favorite) lines
including Bettye Muller, Lauren Conrad, Viv & Ingrid, Alice & Olivia,
Diane Von Furstenberg (love, love, love her new spandex blend ruffled wrap
dresses for summer), Qi Cashmere (literally have to buy one of everything in
stock – it is like wearing jammies to work each day), Lilly Pulitzer (reminds
me of my darling grandmother and Petoskey, Michigan childhood summers) and so many

The story behind the name starts with a
heroine from Mary Liz’s childhood. Growing up, her Mom, Betts, would say
goodnight with “To Sleep, to Sleep, Perchance to dream” (Shakespeare). Betts
was an entrepreneur herself and has been one of Mary Liz’s sources of
inspiration. Perchance is intended to be a tribute to the modern woman who
wants it all – today’s chic styles and yesterday’s craftsmanship, feminine
designs and smart technology, genuine service and within reach.


 Full Article