Summer Partying

I’m working on my hiking posts but spent the weekend partying so those will have to wait.


My friends Lauren and Rory celebrated their one-year wedding anniversary and several other special days with Sugarweek, and us friends were invited to tag along on their celebrations.


Friday evening marked the opening of a show at Zhou B Art Center, so before that 5 of us had dinner at the Honky Tonk BBQ. The ambiance is fun.


One of the few things I miss about Texas is a good brisket, and now I’ve found a local place to have it. Their food was delicious.


Fighting the food coma, we made our way to Zhou B, where the Self-Portrait Exhibition was in full swing.


Lauren and Rory were part of it, and perused the other works.


Here are a few of my snapshots.


I’m mesmerized by encaustic artists who work large.


Dan Addington’s Pereginus Cor: I am Content to Follow the Source with oil, wax, tar, collage on wood is striking and filled with texture.


Erin McClellan Zhoushi’s Untitled photography is so magical.


InJung Oh’s Untitled oil on canvas is so vibrant, and I was especially drawn to the texture and layering of Corinna Button’s Now + Then (oil and collage on canvas).


I like the multidimensionality of Robin Monique Rios’ Beyond Midnight with acrylic/liquid plastic. There are numerous other great pieces, so go see the exhibit this month.


Saturday was spent making a few trips to Belgian Chocolatier Piron, first to order mousse from last year’s birthday gift certificate and then to pick it up.


For once a party was walking distance for me, which I took full advantage of. Our friend Dean smoked a meal for us, that actually was quite a competitor to the Honky Tonk fare we had just feasted on yesterday.


Then we ate our hearts out on chocolate mousse and devil’s ganache cake.


We sampled various beers and whiskeys and had fun conversations until deep into the night.


Needless to say, not much writing was done on Sunday, so the blog will need to catch up later.


This is what summer is for, to enjoy the days and nights among friends and savor the love and joy that is in one’s life.


I am reminded almost daily how blessed I am, and how quickly things can change, so I am going to celebrate where I am, who I am with and whom I hold in my heart every single day.


Exploring Utica

Last week I took a road trip to Utica to satisfy my July travel itch.


It is just 2 and a half hours from home, an easy drive actually when you skip rush hour.


I had visited the Starved Rock area a few times, and gradually upgraded my stays from a KOA cabin with plastic mattresses and shared shower facilities to a motel, to a B&B. The motel is now defunct.


I stopped for a sampling of ice cream (on the sweet side) and chocolate truffles prior to heading to the Brightwood Inn.


The Brightwood Inn is a lovely Bed and Breakfast offering cozy rooms with luxurious amenities.


The property is adjacent to Matthiessen State Park, and the grounds have been landscaped as a wildlife habitat to encourage birds, insects and other critters to feed and seek shelter there.


Sunsets from this vantage point are spectacular.


Every morning a breakfast buffet of cereal, fruit and scones stills ‘den kleinen Hunger’, with warm breakfast, coffee and tea offered in the dining room.


I enjoyed the herb omelet on an English muffin the first morning, and whole grain blueberry pancakes the next.


Matthiessen, Starved Rock and the I&M Canal Trail are just a short drive from the Inn.


I perused the one-block downtown of Utica which has 3 pubs.


There is also a grocery store geared toward campers and other things one tends to forget but need on a road trip.


On both days opted to have lunch at Noni’s as it felt more cafe-like and had outdoor seating.


The area has a few wineries and several ‘trading posts’ offering leather goods for bikers passing through.


After some hiking I checked into my room, a haven of tranquility.


I splurged on a tub option, and was quite romanced by its heart shape and the stunning view.


There is a lovely bathroom of course.


I read on the cozy lounge, peeked at hummingbirds feeding in the tree, and fully relaxed in this pristine room without any chores for me to do.


My first evening I dined at Uptown Grill in LaSalle, which had tablet menus. The heat and late lunch had dampened my appetite, so I had the Asparagus salad. Their cocktails looked delicious, and I would dine here again to sample the other dishes.


The next morning I indulged a massage at Butterfly Landing, which stretched my muscles and helped me further sink into relaxation mode. Next time I want to try a facial in this lush day spa as well.


The second evening I visited Amici in Peru, a lovely Italian restaurant that is decorated to mimic a piazza, with twinkle lights in the ceiling to enhance the ‘outside’ feeling. I could have easily shared the pasta entree, and took some home.


The country roads offer lovely prairie and farm field views,


with some lovely river crossings as well.


I enjoyed the lush garden and journaled peacefully while listening to a variety of birds.


Chairs and tables allow for lounging al fresco.


They also have a wonderful porch.


It is amazing how being away from home can put your mind at ease enough to simply watch clouds go by.


It is good to just enjoy a day and ‘be’.


Perspective is so necessary in this world of personal and global tragedies.


I look forward to returning to this heavenly place.


Hiking adventures will be shared in upcoming posts.


Where will your summer vacation take you?


Weekend Interlude

I took a little road trip this week to clear my head.


It’s nice to do a re-set when home and internal changes are churning.


The good news is that you get to call dibs on the pieces on Facebook through the weekend.


Next week they’ll be up on Etsy for a wider audience to see, like some of these arleady are.


It is good get away for some perspective, even when you lead a solitary life and your home town is staycation-friendly.


If you’re pondering a retreat, but would like some company, consider NEW’s Fall getaway at White Pines.


Other people’s gardens

Normally this time of the year I have plenty of butterfly snapshots, but they’ve been scarce thus far.



I am pleased to see monarchs fluttering about, the cabbage whites are becoming more visible, and I’ve spotted a few admirals, but not as plentiful as seasons past.


Those I do see are either too fast or too far away from my camera.


Nonetheless, the gardens are vibrant with beautiful flowers and I love the scent of summer wafting along.


I’ve focused on orange flowers in the past month for #TeamOranje, but the Lilies are abundant in other colors as well.


Such stately flowers.


They are so gorgeous standing tall in numerous groupings around my neighborhood.


There are also other flowers whose names I don’t know, but their scents are lovely.


A stroll after a downpour always brings out freshness and pretty droplets.


And OK, the World Cup may be done, but orange is still abundant…



Bunnies are munching on the lawns.


The “toddlers” are so adorable.


It’s so good to love life, to enjoy old love and new love alike.


So much prettiness makes my heart sing.


Delicate yet strong.



Life looks rosy from this angle.



Flowers brighten up the grey.


Here’s to more sunshine and flowers as summer continues.


Stressbusting at Meet & Munch

Last Wednesday we had a lovely time de-stressing at Hub83 in South Barrington. Hub83 is a co-working space where start-ups, entrepreneurs, freelancers, telecommuters, and small or previously home-based businesses can work in a collaborative office space and get access to resources that can help grow their business.


The company provides commercial shared office space which includes shared and private desks, meeting and conference rooms, and optional private offices that can hold 1-6 people. The clean and bright South Barrington office felt professional and inviting. Other locations in Chicagoland are under review.


After introducing ourselves Ann Marie Berg, a worksite wellness consultant offered tips on how to de-stress.


She mentioned that everyone who sits at a computer for an extended period of time should take stretch breaks every 20 minutes. She also reminded us to check our posture throughout the day and ensure we don’t slump, as that compresses our organs. Everyone sat up straight for the duration of the meeting.


She noted that a stressor to one person could be nothing to another, such as timeliness. Not being punctual can put one person into stress mode, whereas another isn’t as concerned with minutes on the clock. She noted that in addition to stressors based on workload, loneliness and sadness can be stressful on the body, but we don’t not always realize those are underlying symptoms.


Our coping mechanisms for stress tend to be addicting habits, such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol or emotional eating. Instead of resorting to those behaviors, Ann Marie recommends breathing exercises, stretches to unclench the muscles where we hold our stress, and monitoring your self-talk with a rubber band on your wrist.


We did some very simple yet quite energizing stretches, and then engaged in a breathing exercise that further relaxed us. She also recommends 10% Happier by Dan Harris for further reading. Ann Marie recommended going for frequent walks, exercising, and finding a hobby.


To go to sleep, she recommended tensing and relaxing groups of muscles, she takes an inventory of what is in her drawers in her bedroom–counting what she owns instead of sheep. Aroma therapy in the form of a few drops of lavender oil on a tissue under one’s pillow might also help.


Member Belle Kohen of Creative Coaching provided the following tips for a healthy, less-stressed lifestyle:

  • Take a morning walk
  • Exercise to get endorphins going
  • Decrease your hyper state and avoid caffeine
  • Drink a lot of water
  • Stop ingesting anything an hour before bed
  • Turn all screens off 1 hour before bed
  • If you read, make sure the light source is behind you
  • Untense your muscles before sleeping
  • Make sure the room is dark and quiet


We were treated to drinks and munchies from Melaleuca by member Marianne Guinee, and enjoyed the presentation and overview of products she provided for us. Melaleuca has 400 products for home and family wellness, including  a complete line of skin care and cosmetics, bath and body solutions, and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.


It was a lively and joyful afternoon, and we look forward to de-stressing more on July 24 during our family Barbecue in Busse Woods.


Most photos courtesy


NEW – The Network of Entrepreneurial Women is a group of Chicagoland business women who are upgrading business networking with fun and creative events that inspire attendees to work together, refer each other and most of all cheer each other on as the membership succeeds. Events rotate around various suburbs on a semimonthly basis, usually the 2nd Wednesday and 4th Thursday of the month. RSVP for our upcoming events at Meetup, or like us on Facebook and check up on the calendar there.

Trunk Show Fun

Before the Independence Day festivities I had some fun at Aurora Rose Boutique.


Mannequins were adorned with my pieces.


I might play with a scarf pendant necklace in the Fall.


I set up for my trunk show there with a pretty and whimsical view.


Having extra surfaces to display my wares was nice, as well as not having to worry about the weather.



I’ve amassed quite a few pendants now, and hope to see more explore the world with new owners.



I accessorized my Make by Megan K. Dress with a Hello Kitty Ring, Rock-A-Ring, and Spiced Up Shoes.


Other vendors came in to restock their wares, and I became enamored with these crochet animals from The Happy Star.


Luckily I was too busy to pull out my wallet, but the Octopi might get a cuddle and a ride home next month.


Kim provided tasty treats by Tastefully Simple.


I met fellow vendors, new Maraviglia fans, and friends during the afternoon, and enjoyed seeing a few adornments go home with new owners.


Kim was happy with the custom Scarf pendant I made, featuring the story and music score of Aurora Rose, or Sleeping Beauty as most of us know her.


I enjoyed the inspiration of other vendors.



And am pondering the projected survival rate of a terrarium with my no-green thumbs.


My July inventory is freshened up.


With a few new scarf pendants and necklace pendants. Detailed photos of the ones I left are here.


The next #AuroraRoseTrunkShow will be held on July 26th with A&Z Designs, a must for steampunk fans. Join Al & Zivi for a demonstration, meet and greet, and check out their handcrafted jewelry, hand-stamped metals and steam-punk inspired pieces.


Always shop local and handmade. It is so much more gratifying to own one-of-a-kind pieces and know you supported someone in your neighborhood.


NOTE: Only vendors already registered with Aurora Rose can have trunk shows there.

The Fourth is with me

July started out quite active, and it truly feels like summer. I got my muscles unkinked Thursday and picked up some light reading for the holiday (and chuckled that each part of the trilogy was filed in a different library section).


Then my friends hosted a pig roast which turned into a block party filled with delicious potluck food, great conversation, and much fun.


The pig took some time, but once it was ready it was quite an event.


We watched fireworks and enjoyed more on the way home as all of Chicago was setting them off (though supposedly it’s illegal to do so).


On Saturday I got engrossed in the world cup. I’m loving the Google doodles.


During Argentina-Belgium tree trimmers were working on my neighbor’s yard, which was a bit surreal. I don’t usually have men with chainsaws right outside my window…


We now have a superstition that sharing family selfies in Oranje will help, so I will need to be clad in orange during our Meet & Munch.


It was fun to sample World Cup beers and interact with others watching the game at World of Beer. The stress of the long delay in scores was exhausting though. Amazing how worked up we humans get over people chasing a ball…


It’s all about community building and experience sharing. Having that virtual bonding time across the ocean through modern technology is such a blessing.


My German side isn’t as interactive on Facebook, so I haven’t been as engaged there, but I am proud my Motherland and Fatherland are both in the semifinals. Yesterday’s game was quite amazing!


I’m in a good place in my life and grateful for all that has transpired that got me here. Even the non-easy parts of this journey help me appreciate all the more what a wonderful life this is.

Bragging about each other

“If we can’t self-market, we’re inhibiting ourselves.”
~ Erica Thomas

Last week the Network of Entrepreneurial Women gathered at 57th Street Books in Hyde Park to discuss How to Brag. NEW Co-Founder Erica Thomas led the discussion with research on how women are conditioned to not boast about their achievements, since if they do they can be perceived as too pushy, resulting in women self-editing.


Tips Erica provided included:

  • Make a bragalog: Tell a short story that weaves in your brag points. Inserting relevant facts into a story makes your speech more  memorable
  • Have someone brag for you: bring a wing-woman along who can introduce (and boast about) you, and then reverse roles.
  • Put your brags into a joke: rather than specifying how long you’ve been in business numerically, use a difference reference, like “I’ve been in business since the earth cooled.”
  • Pay attention to the person you are networking with: In listening to their needs, you can insert relevant ‘brag points’ during the conversation


We discussed our own personal pitfalls and brainstormed additional strategies, such as cataloguing 3 positive things about yourself/business and using those in your bragalog. We also discussed how many skills are perceived as “innate” to women, such as caregiving, nurturing and teaching, that economically and anthropologically they aren’t valued as a learned skill.


“When someone is boosting you up,
don’t get flushed. Stand up and be proud.”
~ Joan

We then went around in a celebration circle and each person told the group what they admire about another person in the circle. It was a lovely experience that made many of us blush, and helped us perceive ourselves as more brag worthy.


We have some courageous, optimistic, determined, get-it-done, supportive, generous, caring, listening, dedicated, driven, brilliant women in our group, who truly do “use their powers for good,” as Erica said.


I look forward to our next Meet & Munch, which features a discussion about stress. You can find us at Hub 83, 6 Executive Court, South Barrington, from 2-4 p.m. On Wednesday, July 9. Ann Marie Berg, a Wellness Consultant and Health Coach, will talk about stress management, share relaxation techniques and facilitate a discussion around de-stressing.


“There’s nothing wrong
with telling people the truth about your business.”

~ Erica Thomas

NEW – The Network of Entrepreneurial Women is a group of Chicagoland business women who are upgrading business networking with fun and creative events that inspire attendees to work together, refer each other and most of all cheer each other on as the membership succeeds. Events rotate around various suburbs on a semimonthly basis, usually the 2nd Wednesday and 4th Thursday of the month. RSVP for our upcoming events at Meetup, or like us on Facebook and check up on the calendar there.

Another video!

The past few weeks have been filled with excitement, fun, inspiration and preparation, and now I’m tired.

Photo via Facebook

Meanwhile my freakin’ awesome friends at MassUpdater and created this new YouTube Video for me.

I’ll take a holiday from the blog in anticipation of Independence Day. See you next week, and happy barbecuing!

Exploring Beads & Buttons

This year I attended the Bead & Button show for the first time, and it was a blast.


I laughed at Milwaukee’s interpretation of compact cars.


My intent was to systematically go down each isle, but there were too many sparklies and bargain tables distracting me.


So I meandered and enjoyed the colors, the inspiration, the plethora of tools.


I was told I would be overwhelmed and it was true.


Fortified by beer and a burger I carried on (smart to have a mini-bar in a confined environment full of glitter!).


But for the first time I was glad I made just a day of it, a quick drive up, though I will ponder whether to stay overnight next time.


You can see how a multi-day trip looks here, here 2, here 3, here 4.


Brenda Schweder’s collaborative exhibit was mesmerizing.



I am trying to track down the book to go with it (a case of “should have bought it there”).


Just the display is inspiring.


I am intrigued by her Jig too, but need to compare it to wubbers to see which works best for me.


Next year I may sign up for some classes and demos.


So much to learn!


For now, my loot will keep me busy and inspired.


It complements my inventory nicely-which I will make better mental notes of next time since I wasn’t sure what I had in stock.



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