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11/21/2014
The holidays have a way of sneaking into Chicago, slowly but surely filling the streets with twinkling lights and nostalgic music, building the “White Christmas” anticipation in such a way that even the cold is welcomed—at least for a few weeks. If you’re looking for the holiday spirit in the Windy City, you'll find beloved traditions (The Joffrey’s... More
11/19/2014
One of my most cherished holiday memories involves Christmas lights in my hometown of Winona, Minnesota. On a night of sub-zero wind chills, Grandma Lois and I thought it would be fun to ride the Trester Trolley for a Christmas light tour. Clarence, the driver (wearing a Santa hat, of course), greeted us with a smile as we stepped into the warmth of the trolley. We waited for... More
11/17/2014
Jell-O "salads" and other gelatin creations have always had a place at my table. A lifelong North Dakotan, I grew up with Jell-O at potlucks, just like most Midwesterners. I still make Jell-O. Not because I have to, but because I want to. It's a nod to the cooks before me, a family tradition I'm honored to carry on. I make cherry coke Jell-O and almost always... More
11/14/2014
In the southernmost reaches of Ohio (50 or so miles south of Columbus), a region of the Midwest called the Hocking Hills feels distinctly Southern. The name comes from the rugged, wooded gorges and peaks, part of the Appalachian Mountain foothills, and the folks working here serve creature comforts (extra handmade quilts for your cottage, a cup of coffee to-go after... More
11/12/2014
Thanksgiving has a special place in my heart. Life is so busy—my family is running in multiple directions on any given day—but on Thanksgiving we stop and concentrate on one another. So I set out to create a welcoming table where people want to sit, have that extra cup of coffee and converse. Here are four simple tabletop ideas that can add friendly warmth to mealtime. 1.... More
11/10/2014
If you’re seeking sweet gift inspirations, a way to sharpen your kitchen skills, or fresh menus for your Thanksgiving and winter meals, now’s the perfect time to schedule a cooking and baking class. Midwest teaching kitchens can help you master everything from baking crusty rustic breads to sculpting a picture-perfect pie. Here are five of our favorite places to take cooking... More
11/7/2014
Chicago guidebooks and best-of lists all include the Art Institute, Museum of Science and Industry, Wrigley Field, Millennium Park and Chicago-style pizza. But take a few steps off the tourist path to find more interesting food, cocktails, tours and culture, including a church nestled in a skyscraper and a buffet filled with only chocolate. Here are 10 reasons why we recommend... More
11/5/2014
When the outside temps drop below 50 degrees, you can find me inside curled up in a chenille throw or cotton blanket. (Yes, I'm a wimp when it comes to chilly weather.) But gorgeous coverlets, quilts and lamb's wool can warm up more than my shoulders. Spread their coziness throughout the house with these easy decorating ideas. The cold, get-dark-early days of late autumn will seem a... More
11/3/2014
The reds and golds of fall colored all our most-popular Instagram pictures in October, as photographers captured autumn beauty in parks, by lakes, and along city and small-town roads. Join in the fun by tagging your photos #midwestmoment and following us @midwestlivingmag.  #1: Fiery maple trees photographed by @stephenozga (http://instagram.com/p/ubf8_iGzeF/) in Olathe,... More
10/31/2014
This year, my friend Natalie ambitiously dug up half her yard to install raised beds. Back yard. Front yard. Side yard. The woman went veggie-mad. At various points, she treated me to ruffled chard, giant tomatoes and glossy eggplants. But the real gift came this fall, when she invited us to her First Annual Potato Harvest Gathering. “One of my most cherished childhood memories is... More