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Wedding Registry 101

Registering for your wedding can be one of the most exciting tasks for some brides... but also one of the most daunting for others. Couples these days are innundated with endless options, so here are some helpful tips to consider as you register:


1. Assess you lifestyle and determine what fits you. Do you really need the fancy china? Or perhaps you frequently entertain so you do need the nice china and the sterling silver. It's all about what works for you personal lifetstyle. 

2. Determine your “NEED” vs. “WANT” items and then add all the items you “need” to your registry first. That way, as the important stuff gets purchased, add the fun items that you “want” so you get the best of both worlds! 

3. Consider registering for a few extra sets of dishes, silverware, glassware in case they get broken or lost over time. If certain lines get discontinued, you'll have a few extras on hand.

Kate Spade New York Dinnerware, Villeroy Bosch Signature Collection

4. Don’t register TOO early - 5 – 6 months is perfect! Stores often change their inventory seasonally and those linens you absolutely loved may not be there come time for your wedding.

5. Choose at least 2 – 3 stores, ideally ones with an internet presence so that you can set up and manage everything from the comfort of your couch.

6. Keep your guests in mind; are they older and more traditional? Then they may appreciate Bloomingdales. Or are they mostly younger and comfortable with less conventional stores such as Amazon.com?

7. Choose some “Couple friendly” stores where you can get appliances, tools, exercise equipment, luggage, etc., and avoid squabbles! Sears or Kohl's are great registry options that offer everything for your home, including man-friendly items. 

8. Research, research, research. Know the store’s registry reputation before making your choice…their customer service, reliability of their online registry site, return policy, completion policy, etc. These days, you can easily find all this information online ahead of time.

BerHoff BBQ Set, Sunpentown Wine Cooler


9. Along the same lines, make sure the stores you choose have a great return policy because there is no doubt you will change your mind about some items! 

10. Consider alternative registries such as gift card, honeymoon, and charity registries.


Where are you registering, and do you have a favorite store?


Weddings by Charlene Liang
Part of the Second City Soiree Contributor Series. Charlene is on Twitter @SweetchicEvents. Read her full bio here.


How to DINE like the MAD MEN

Do I even need to remind you that AMC's Mad Men is coming back this Sunday? The 17-month hiatus has been a too-long separation from one of my favorite shows. The decor! The wardrobes! The stories! The...food?

Actually, yes. My inner anthropologist loves seeing what Betty serves for a party or what Don orders for lunch. Is there ever a bad time for deviled eggs and rumaki? I should think not, and happily, Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin agree.

Their nearly 300 page volume The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook is part recipe book, part social history, part city guide, and all delicious nostalgia from a time when it was de rigueur to use the good silver on a regular basis.

Recipes reference both Mad Men episodes (Pete's California Dip from "Red in the Face") and mid-century hotspots where the Sterling Cooper crew might have dined (21 Club Vodka Gimlet).

Interspersed throughout the book is commentary on 1960s life plus dialog from the show. I was particularly amused by Betty's dilemma on how to dress up celery sticks without using capers. They get might get stuck in the carpet, you know. Try this recipe for your Mad Men viewing party, or any time you feel like inviting the friends over for cocktails. Just don't forget to polish the silver!

Betty’s Stuffed Celery

adapted from The Good Housekeeping Cookbook (Hearst, 1963)

3 ounces soft cream cheese
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
8 chopped stuffed olives
10 minced blanched almonds
4 long, wide crisp celery stalks

1. Combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, olives and almonds in a small bowl.
2.  Stuff celery stalks with filling. Chill well. Cut into bite-size pieces, or 2-3 inch pieces before serving.
Yield:  About 8 servings
Reprinted with permission: The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men by Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin (Smart Pop, 2011)
Photo Credit: 30aeats


Get more Mad Men party ideas plus printable coasters:


{scene} Garfield Park Conservatory: A Hidden Gem

Winter in Chicago is a long and dreary business. One thing that always saves my sanity is visiting the conservatories. Here, my eyes are filled with lush green and growing things, exotic fragrances fill the air and it’s warm and humid.

One of my favorites is the Garfield Park Conservatory tucked away on the city’s West Side. Designed by Jens Jensen, the conservatory opened in 1907. Jensen wanted to create naturalistic landscapes under glass, which gives Garfield Park a very organic feel to the spaces.

When I walk into the Palm House, my heart lifts at the sight of the huge trees brushing against the ceiling. The hyper-oxygenated air fills my lungs and I can hardly wait to find some tropical flower blooming around the next corner. 


I like to visit the Dr. Seuss-like pony tail palms in the Desert House and see the changing blossoms in the Show House. The Aroid House is filled with giant foliage and is graced by the Persian Pool filled with yellow Chihuly glass lilypads.

My favorite place, though, is the Fern Room. Here is prehistoric Illinois nestled in rocky valleys and musical waterfalls. Tree ferns and cycads stretch elegant fronds above your head. A lagoon filled with goldfish and koi reflects the saturated green of ferns, mosses, and vines. I can get lost here within moments.

Garfield Park gives me a chance to imagine new possibilities, refine ideas, and get inspiration. "We believe that plants change the way you see the world and all life on earth depends upon plants," commented Mary Eysenbach, Director of Conservatories for the Chicago Park District. "Here at the conservatory, we hope visitors take away a new way of seeing the world."

Beyond the indoor spaces, there are acres of outdoor gardens including the Monet Garden, City Garden, and Demonstration Garden. Here there are beds brimming with flowers, grasses and evergreens. Lily ponds greet you and children can explore natural areas.

Unfortunately, on June 30 2011 tragedy struck in the form a of a hailstorm that shattered 85% of the glass in the Fern Room, Show House and ten propagation greenhouses. Other rooms and halls were also damaged. The glass has been temporarily replaced with plastic panes and beginning this May, full restoration will begin.  This is a massive undertaking to replace not only the glass, but upgrade the infrastructure. There is still a need for donations and several ways you can be involved. Bryan Northup has created “Catching Hail”, beautiful fused glass pieces using the roof fragments. One Pane at a Time is the official donation campaign.

Perhaps the most fun, though, is the annual Fleurotica benefit, a runway fashion show of clothing created from plants and flowers. Held on March 23, this is a wonderful event for party-lovers.

I urge you to visit Garfield Park Conservatory and check it out for yourself. They even rent both the indoor and outdoor spaces. The neighborhood is in the midst of gentrification, so there is security present.  You can find out more about Jens Jensen and his vision at a unique exhibit at the Sterling Morton Library at The Morton Arboretum which runs through the end of the year.


Gardening by Heather Prince

Part of the Second City Soiree Contributor Series. Heather is on Twitter @FearlessGarden. Read her full bio here.



House Beautiful is all about green as the March 2012 Spring Color issue gives readers dozens of easy ways to bring the hue into their homes. From decorators’ favorite shades to fantastic rooms that will make you green with envy, the magazine shows readers why they should be keen for green.

“As the pages of our March issue attest, there is an astonishing spectrum in green, from citrus to aquamarine,” says House Beautiful Editor in Chief Newell Turner. “Green has many moods—romantic, happy, calming, mysterious—and there is no other color more natural. Before spring arrives, I find myself starved for color, especially all the greens. Who isn’t amazed when trees explode in every shade imaginable?”
Housebeautiful.com will help readers get in the swing of all things green beginning this week, when the site will feature photos of 40 green rooms, advice from bloggers about decorating with green, green products under $50, exclusive videos, and earth-friendly tips for going green.

The March issue of House Beautiful is available February 15. Highlights include:
Color: Favorite Greens (page 22): Twelve major players in design, including Bunny Williams, Michael S. Smith, and Barbara Barry share the shade they love the most.




A Mix of Greens Is Lush and Natural (page 60): A verdant abundance that takes its cues from nature.  Interior design by Meg Braff.

Minty Green Is Fresh (page 72): Interior design by Fawn Galli.

The Green Album (page 80): Ten rooms that make us green with envy, with interiors by Steven Gambrel, Jeffrey Bilhuber, Katie Ridder, Amelia Handegan and more.

50 Ways to Bring Green Home (page 98): From rugs and benches to tea cups, toasters, and trays, House Beautiful offers myriad ways to go green.

Readers are encouraged to look for special blue smartphone icons that appear on select features throughout the issue.  By scanning the items or pages with the Digimarc Discover app—a free download from the iTunes store or Android Market—readers can unlock behind-the-scenes videos and special additional content.


{scene} THREE can't-miss EVENTS - week of 2/26/12

Who says winter is a time to hibernate? (Ok, I did, a few weeks ago...and on TV, no less). But you wouldn't know it from all the wonderful charity events taking place in the next week. Will I see you out and about?


REMIX II: Tuned Up
benefiting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's outreach programs
Friday, March 2, 2012. 7-9p VIP Pre-Party, 9p-1a General Admission
Architectural Artifacts, 4325 N. Ravenswood
$115 General Admission (contact me for a special discount on the VIP price)
Purchase Tickets

Alright, as a member of the planning committee I'm a wee bit biased, but this is one glam party. The evening starts off with a jazzy tone, but by 1am we'll be dancing to DJ Madrid's high energy beats (Funny story: he was the DJ at the now-defunct Virgin Record store and I used to pester him with "Hey! What song was just playing?" questions. Small world.)

Can't attend? Sign up for Make It Better magazine's wonderful email newsletter and the Symphony will receive a $5 donation for every subscription. Win-win!


Oscar Night® America - Chicago
benefiting the philanthropic outreach of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Sunday, Feb 26, 2012. 6p-12a

Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State
Purchase Tickets

Guests will experience Hollywood glamour first-hand with a red-carpet hosted by Amanda Puck. Enjoy a delicious dinner generously donated by MJ Catering and watch an HD broadcast of the Oscars. Several raffle drawings will be held throughout the night. Peep pictures from years past on the Siskel Film Center's Facebook page.



Go Red For Women
benefiting the American Heart Association
Wednesday, February 29, 2012. 7p-10p
Alhambra Palace Restaurant, 1240 W. Randolph
Purchase Tickets

This event includes a fashion show, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, shopping, complimentary beauty services, over $2,000 in raffle prizes, swag bags and more! Bring a gently worn handbag or professional shoes to support Dress for Success, and receive a complimentary raffle ticket.

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