FAENA MIAMI BEACH; MERCY HOME FOR BOYS & GIRLS AT GIBSON'S; URBAN INITIATIVES' SOCCER BALL; GIRLS IN THE GAME GALA; COMMON THREADS DREAMS OF MICKEY; WENDY'S HONOR; STACIE'S GIFT; PURPLE AFFAIR FOR THE BEAR; CHICAGO PET PROJECT BOOK; SERVICE CLUB'S RECORD BREAKER; PLAYBOY MANSION UP FOR GRABS; TUNA MELTS MY HEART; VIDEOS TO MAKE YOU SMILE AND SO MUCH MORE!
There's nothing like palm trees to brighten a dreary Chicago winter so my husband, "kids" and I decided to take a Griswold-style road trip to South Beach. And even though the trip is 21 hours by car, I was looking forward to stopping at kitchy road-side stands, "antique" malls and restaurants featuring unique tastes of the South. Our two
Chihuahuas, Mickey and Rooney, are seasoned road warriors and terrific travelers so I knew this was going to be fun for the whole family. Enroute, Hampton Inn was our lodging of choice since they're clean, welcoming, with heavenly mattresses and very pet-friendly. We were fortunate to
also have a stopover in West Palm Beach. We stayed at a friend's house in Flamingo Park that should be featured in every magazine, a charming two bedroom/2 bath with exquisitely manicured grounds and a beautiful pool. Flamingo Park was designated an historic district in 1921 and there are still charming homes there
waiting to be picked up at reasonable prices. We drooled as we drove through the neighborhood putting houses on our wish lists. The town is booming too with cozy as well as chic restaurants. Hotspots there include Table 26, Dixie Bar & Grill, Rhythm Cafe, City Diner
and Buccan. We stopped by Leslie Hindman's elegant auction house at 1608 S. Dixie Highway. I think her upcoming Kennedy Winter White House auction on Jan. 23 will seal the deal for Leslie's auction house crown in that part of the country! We
shopped along Antiques Row and were amazed at the quality and fair prices. I found great things at D & G Auction House, Victor de Marinis Etc., Blue Moon Antiques, Churchill Galleries, Provence and Brass Scale Antiques. But the one store
that will forever be etched in my memory was the Floral Emporium at 3900 S. Dixie Highway. I'm not sure I have the words to describe the magic of this 17,000 sq.- foot space that sells both real and faux flowers/plants, shell-encrusted floral masterpieces, unique
planters, chandeliers, statuary and so much more. Everywhere you look, there is a photo opportunity waiting to happen. Chuck had to tear me away--I could live there! We also had a chance to visit with my in-laws, Nancy
and Dr. Osmar Steinwald, who have made a permanent move to Hobe Sound. We met at Renato's for dinner in Palm Beach and it was fabulous with great food and chic/charming ambiance. We also lunched at Nick and Johnnie's.
The outdoor patio was the perfect spot for people watching with the "kids." One of the things I love about Florida is the number of pet-friendly restaurants--Mickey and Rooney were in doggie heaven. Once we were back on the road, we also made a pit-stop in Boca where another friend, Rhonda Sanderson, had recently bought a
beautiful house. Her two dogs, a bull dog and a Frenchie, greeted us enthusiastically, no doubt thrilled with their mom's purchase. We arrived in South Beach on Wednesday afternoon and checked into The Thompson at 4041 Collins. We had never stayed there
before and were anxious to try it. The lobby is unassuming but it has a Michelle Bernstein restaurant (Seagrape) and a delicious Asian restaurant, Talde. Our room had a dramatic wrap-around balcony overlooking the ocean with city views too. (Room 1128, ask for it if you go...OMG). Thursday, we laid on our balcony, laid around both pools and just laid in general. Finally, a chance to relax! That night we
went to our favorite hotspot, Villa Azur (309 23rd Street). This restaurant has velvet ropes for its velvet ropes and was filled with beautiful people. Even though the owners are Italian, they have created a pure St. Tropez-style experience. Jeroboams of rose, musicians with electrified, neon-lit saxophones, models dressed as showgirls and
more filled the space with dramatic visuals and high energy. It's a celeb and sports star hangout and one of our favorite South Beach restaurants. The following night we dined at the Matador Room inside the fairly new Edition Miami Beach (2901 Collins). I first heard about this place from Dusty Stemer who, of course,
discovered it with her darling son, designer Brian Atwood (who, I'm sure knows ALL the hotspots on the planet)! It's an Ian Schrager-designed boutique hotel with white carrera marble and greenery
everywhere--a simple design but with big impact. The next night we celebrated Capri Capital powerhouse Gwendolyn Butler's big 60th birthday party at the ever-so-private and elegant Bath Club at 5901 Collins. The charming, twinkling outdoor patio was filled
with 150 of her friends and fans, many who had flown in from across the country, all dressed in black or white, her attire of choice. In one corner, cigars were being
rolled by hand and offered to guests. A great band played and a hot DJ began a set at 11 pm following a lavish buffet. This girl sure knows how to party! Seen on the scene were Diane and Quintin Primo, Cheryl Pearson McNeil, Cheryl Burton, Sandy and Jim Reynolds, Suzie and Ross
Glickman and so many more. After the party, we hit the brand new (opened Dec. 21) Faena Miami Beach (3201 Collins). Bar none, it was the most opulent hotel we've seen in the United States.
Owned by an Argentinian billionaire/fashion designer/cultural engineer, Alan Faena, this place is indescribable but I'll try. The lobby, called the Cathedral, is embellished with soaring ceilings and lines of gold-leafed columns.
Even the mosaics on the floor are works of art. Through the doors leading to the garden and the Faena Forum promenade, you spy a glowing case far off in the distance. As you get closer, artist Damien Hirst's "Gone but not Forgotten" overpowers and awes you. It's a
10' tall, gilded woolly mammoth skeleton enclosed in an air-tight, temperature-controlled, colossal steel and glass vitrine. It was purchased at amfAR's annual Cinema Against AIDS gala in 2014 for $18 million and is the focal point of the
property. Inside Pao restaurant, helmed by James Beard-Award winning Chef Paul Qui, another piece of Hirst's art dominates the space. "Golden Myth," a unicorn sculpture
valued at $6.5 million. Developer Faena wanted the cultural energy of Art Basel to remain in Miami year-round so he's planned a $1 billion Faena District that will encompass a four block mid-beach section on Collins Avenue. Recently, his first condo tower sold out with a $60 million penthouse (purchased by a billionaire hedge
fund manager). Units here sold for an average of $3000 per square foot and sold so quickly that another tower is already planned. Inside the hotel, there are 169 whimsical rooms (beginning at $800), some
done in mid-century design (by Faena himself) and others more opulent with red velvet, animal-print fabrics and gold leaf. A dinner theater will open soon where they hope to attract big name talent who want to perform
in a more intimate space. (Hello Mick Jagger!). If you visit Miami, this is a must-see. There's no place in the country like Miami Beach and we just can't get enough of it. Hope you get to visit soon too or at least someplace warm!
I was so saddened to hear of the passing of beloved actor Alan Rickman, dead at the age of only 69 from cancer. This is the second death in a week after David Bowie (also 69), another icon gone too soon. As a die-hard fan of the
Harry Potter series, this is especially hard to believe that the treacherous, yet kind-hearted Professor Severus Snape will be no more. Rickman was born in West London and came to the attention of American audiences as Viscomte de Valmont in "Les Liasons Dangereuses" on Broadway in 1987. He was nominated for a Tony for his performance but denied the role in the film version of the show. Rickman made his first movie appearance opposite Bruce Willis as the villain Hans Gruber in "Die Hard" (1988). He also appeared in "Truly Madly Deeply", "Love Actually," "Sense and Sensibility", "Dogma", "Galaxy Quest", "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", "Snow Cake" and "Something the Lord Made." He
even took a musical turn singing a part in Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street." But nothing endeared him to so many as well as introduced him to a whole new, younger generation of fans than his role as Professor Severus Snape in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter films. He played the role throughout all eight films, the last being "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2." He was my favorite character after Harry and I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to purchase scripts signed by the cast from two of the films with his signature included. Author J.K. Rowling commented on Twitter: "There are no words to express how shocked and devastated I am to hear of Alan Rickman's death." She added: "My thoughts are with (Rickman's wife) Rima and the rest of Alan's family. We have all lost a great talent. They have lost a part of their hearts." RIP Severus.....:-)
Legendary Chicago steakhouse GIBSON'S has once again created a very generous opportunity for Mercy Home for Boys & Girls to take over their entire private room on the second floor for an evening of food, beverages and POKER on January 28! The ticket price is only $200 and this not only buys you into the poker games but also includes all food and beverage! $125 allows you to eat, drink, gamble for charity and be an observer. And Gibson's, as you know, puts out a pretty
spectacular buffet spread! The event is currently more than half sold out so, if you're interested and would like to reserve a seat, please click here for tix and more info.
Urban Initiatives, a non-profit organization that provides programs for at-risk youth to engage them in sports within a safe and inclusive environment, will host its 10th
Anniversary Soccer Ball, a benefit where proceeds will directly help fund UI’s health and education programs and expand to additional Chicago Public Schools. The 10th Anniversary Soccer Ball will take place Friday, January 29, at 7 p.m. at Morgan Manufacturing (401 N. Morgan St.) and will offer a night of philanthropy
complete with dancing, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction. UI will also recognize community leaders who actively make a positive impact in Chicago. Storck will be presented with the Soccer Ball Award for their commitment to Urban Initiatives for over 7 years. The Hirshman Family from
Northbrook will receive the Paula Armstrong Memorial Heart of a Champion Award for its volunteerism at several UI schools throughout Chicago. The Troy Cameron Team Captain of the Year Award will be presented to Morton School of Excellence 7th grader Lavell Butler. Congrats to ALL! Guests may purchase their tickets in advance for $200 now through January 28th by clicking here-- after which tickets will be available for $250 at the door.
Congrats to Dr. Walter E. Massey, the President of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), for being the recipient of the 2016 Public Humanities Award. Throughout his career as a scientist and educator, Massey has championed the development of creativity in young people, increased access to education and strengthened the ties between the humanities
and sciences. The benefit will be held on Thursday, May 19, at the Palmer House Hilton. For tickets and more info, call Liesl Pereira at (312) 422--5584 or click here. All proceeds will support public programs of Illinois Humanities. Congrats Dr. Massey!!
The Girls in the Game programs, helping 40,000 girls find their voice and become leaders, will celebrate 21 years of mentoring at its annual
Field of Dreams Gala at the Chicago Marriott, Mag Mile, on Thursday, February 25. Hear from girls in the game as well as honored Champions who exemplify the pillars of the organization's mission: Sports. Health. Leadership. Life. The 2016 champions are:
Val Ackerman, Commissioner of the Big East Conference; Israel Idonije-Former Chicago Bear and Founder of Israel Idonije Foundation; Leo Burnett #likeagirl Campaign Team and John W. Rogers, Jr.-
Chairman, CEO and Chief Investment Officer of Ariel Investments. Guests will enjoy a cocktail reception, silent auction and great networking opportunities! For tickets and more info, click here! Congrats to all these deserving winners!
January kicks off Common Threads' Cooking for Life Month to raise awareness and focus attention on the importance of developing lifelong cooking skills and nutritional knowledge for kids, their families and communities. It also includes a challenge that gives participants a chance to win a trip for FOUR to Walt Disney World! Just download the Cooking for Life Handbook at www.commonthreads.org, cook one of the recipes and share a photo tagging
@Common_Threads, using the hashtag #cookingforlife! CT has teamed up with celebrity chefs and influencers including founder Charles Arthur Smith, Gail Simmons, Fabio Viviani, Richard Ingraham and more - to create a series of
short video segments cooking a recipe from the Cooking for Life Handbook! Watch and win! Good luck to all!
Bear Necessities Young Professionals will host Purple Affair for the Bear: Cirque in the City. This event will benefit Bear
Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation on Saturday, Jan. 23 at the Chicago Cultural Center (Preston Bradley Hall), 78 E. Washington Street. The evening will include
live music, dancing, a raffle, food and cocktails. Purple attire is encouraged! For tickets, $95, and more info click here. (Also, mark your calendars for Bear Necessities' annual Bear Tie Ball, February 27, at The Geraghty co-chaired by Frances Renk and Paul Iacono)
Coming January 30/31, America's largest and liveliest urban antiques market, the Randolph Street Market Festival, will return to Plumber's Hall (1340 W. Washington Street) with treasures from over 100 vendors! This Valentine's Market will also offer a Bloody Mary bar, passion fruit
mimosas, Belgian hot cocoa, lots of food treats and the hot beats of DJ Jones! Find the perfect Valentine's Day gift for the loves of your life, including a super hot nude sketch if you're so inclined! Antiques and vintage jewelry, furs, lighting and housewares abound to warm up your love shack!
Free parking and downtown furniture delivery too! Sat. and Sun. from 10 am to 5 pm. For more info, click here!
I'm so honored to be included with my kids, Mickey and Rooney, in The Chicago Pet Project, a gorgeous coffee table book featuring Chicagoans and their pets
along with heartfelt letters written to their four-legged friends. Proceeds of this book support Millie’s Mission, The Puppy Mill Project’s rescue fund that helps other organizations involved in the direct rescue of puppy mill dogs pay
for their extensive veterinary expenses. Pre-order your copy here. The books are expected in February with beautiful photography by Karen Morgan. The Mothers in the Mills' Annual Benefit will be held on Saturday, May 7, at Moonlight Studios, 1446 W. Kinzie. For tickets and more info, click here!
I was so sorry to hear that one of our favorite NY spots has closed. Swifty's on Lexington (between 72nd and 73rd) served its last meal recently. This cozy, chic restaurant on the Upper East Side served delicious comfort food and you never knew who you would see there. We will miss this place that was always on our must-go list whenever we visited. Another iconic spot tumbles.
record-breaking $405,301.33 in the past year! ALL of these funds will be donated to worthy 501c3 charities across Chicagoland! President Myra Reilly announced the good news at the club's annual meeting. Congrats to all these hard-working women!
More congrats are in order for beloved plastic surgeon, Dr. Stacie McClane and her husband Jerry Mickelson, who welcomed baby Hunter into the world on 1/11/16, weighing in at 6 pounds, 11 ounces and 19 darling little inches. Too sweet for words!
I was so sad to hear that Hef's (Hugh Hefner's) Playboy Mansion, located on 6 acres in Holmby Hills, is up for sale for $200 million. I've spent many happy times there with fellow Playmates and friends and Hef was always the perfect host. Recently, I spoke to someone close to
him and they told me he was not in good health. I know tickets have been sold for recent events so the exclusivity factor had already disappeared. I also know his New Year's Eve party was canceled unexpectedly at the last minute. I don't want to face the fact
that this might be the end of an era. Like him or not, he changed the world and created a global brand from humble beginnings around a kitchen table in Chicago. He certainly changed my life. One of his former loves, Barbi Benton, had found the property for him
when he decided to move to the West Coast. The price was less than $1 mil! There are two caveats for prospective buyers. One, that his bedroom is off-limits for viewing and two, that they give Hefner a life estate that will allow him to live there until he dies, which I hope is in another 89 years! The sale also comes with a zoo license. Love you Hef! Long may you reign!
I hope your year is off to a great start! I look forward to sharing more fun from Chicago and beyond in the months ahead. I want to take a moment to thank my supporters, Spex Optical, Randolph Street Market, The Geraghty and Fox Ford Lincoln as well as Dave Lawlor, who makes magic happen, and, of course you my dear readers, who make my efforts all worthwhile. :-)
P.S. And, as always, something to make you smile. Meet Tuna Melts My Heart, a 4 year-old Chiweenie with over 1 million Instagram followers and an upcoming book. I hope Mickey and Rooney don't see this.