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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.



Earlier this week, the corner of State and Walton in the Gold Coast was abuzz with brides to be and lovers of lovely things when BHLDN ("Beholden") opened the doors for a preview party of their second brick-and-mortar store.

The gorgeous 3,600 square foot shop resembles a 19th century European townhouse with 15-foot ceilings, grand windows and a spiral staircase.


BHLDN partnered with Martha Stewart Weddings to host the party, with Editorial Director Darcy Miller Nussbaum in attendance!


Over 300 guests ooh'd and ahh'd over the gorgeous items.


The aforementioned staircase...


...with this lovely gown near the top. Look at the detailing!


While the first floor is for bridesmaids and occasion dresses, the second floor holds wedding gowns, accessories, and day-of decor. Angel wings adorn the coffered ceiling of the main accessory room.

And those blue walls! Stunning.


BHLDN is part of the Anthrologie/Urban Outfitters family. While there are touches of influence from both (the vintage style of Anthro and the whimsy of UO) its style is uniquely BHLDN.

These luxe shrugs definitely caught my eye. They work for the bride or for black tie.


As the evening went on, Truffleberry Market provided sustenance, along with some clever ideas for passed hors d'oeuvre displays. Below, a hat box filled with rice gives tuna cones a boost, while paper pinwheels adorn a tray of truffle pinwheels.

And yes, the sea salt peanut butter chocolate cups were as delicious as they sound.


You might be wondering if there's anything at BHLDN for the gents. Why of course! Look, they get a whole bookcase all to themselves!  :)


In the decor room I briefly chatted with Darcy Miller (pic to come!) while trying not to dart my eyes around at all the gorgeous things. Don't you just love that delicate confetti in the first picture?


In the lingerie room (yes, there's a lingerie room) I found these vases which pull double-duty as charming table markers.


Also in the lingerie room, paper artist Ruth Monsell was busy making silhouettes. I got mine done just in time...when I was finished, I looked up to see that the line had grown to huge proportions! BHLDN was certainly the place to be that night.


Back in the accessory room, I found some fabulous shoes and vintage rings...


...and lots of fascinators. The royal wedding really gave state-side milliners a boost, I think.


BHLDN's visual merchandisers deserve a round of applause. It's very easy to look at the items, thanks to museum cases such as this one.

But what about wedding dresses? Isn't this a bridal store?


Behold, the wedding gown room!


Some of my favorites are below. I'm seeing shades of Pippa in the first one.

BHLDN is at 8 East Walton in Chicago and is definitely worth a visit...even if you're not a bride!

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