14 Midwest Finds You Need To Know About This Spring
Our writers and editors share their top picks for home, garden, wellness, food and travel. Check out a modern-day general store in Webster Groves, Missouri; a vegan bakery in Grand Rapids, Michigan; a new book from star chef and Clevelander Michael Symon, and more.
Home and garden
1) A modern-day general store
From Kylee Krizmanic, editor in chief
Last fall, before a gathering near St. Louis satellite Webster Groves, I popped into Civil Alchemy, a stylish provisions boutique in the burb’s historic Old Orchard district. With namesake product lines that include a woolens collection, jewelry and spirits, this charming nook bursts with giftables—for others or, you know, for lucky you. I found a gorgeous caramel-color wool tote and agate earrings, plus a fresh bouquet from the self-service floral counter, perfect for the party host. (The Truly Floral spirits, blended with essential extracts like elderflower, still call to me.) Owner Kelley Hall-Barr hasn’t stopped with one shop. With husband John, she’s doubled down on the district, opening The Frisco Barroom up the street—civil alchemy, indeed.
2) Fresh + Luxe
Color experts Lauren Wager and Laura Sullivan met at a design gig in Columbus, Ohio. Then they launched Georgie Home, their own line of sustainably produced bath linens featuring reverse patterns in a contemporary palette. The thoughtfully designed (and bunny-soft) towels will make your spring refresh. From $20.
3) Main Squeeze
Great for Midwest patios and indoor living spaces, citrus trees are the new fiddle-leaf fig—just ask the Internet. Our go-to source: fourwindsgrowers.com
4) Talk it out
Thanks to being widowed (and remarried) at a young age, Minnesotan Nora McInerny describes herself as a “reluctant expert in difficult conversations.” Her podcast, Terrible, Thanks for Asking, digs into the complicated realm of what it means to be human. Ninety-plus episodes stir up all kinds of funny, sad and uncomfortable feelings— in a good way.
5) Flax of life
From Kelsey Ogletree, MWL writer
I’ve seen plenty of hot-cold packs filled with rice or corn, but never a flaxseed version—until The Smart Seed. Owner Heidi Engen sews the soft cotton pouches in Bismarck, North Dakota, and the flaxseed is all grown in-state. Flax retains heat longer because of its high oil content, and it doesn’t have a food smell when heated. I’m hooked. Available in six sizes, from $8.
6) Indy Vegfest
Moving to Bankers Life Fieldhouse this year, this growing (and nearly zero-waste) bash in Indianapolis is a showcase for plant-based everything, with products to sample, cooking demos, Q&A panels and fitness activities.
7) Fix It with Food
After years of battling joint pain, star chef and Clevelander Michael Symon wondered if a diet change could help. Fix It with Food shares his journey, with 125 recipes organized into chapters that cut out inflammation triggers like sugar, flour, dairy or meat (Clarkson Potter, $30).
Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District finally has the hotel to match its cool cred. Weekend yoga? Check. Rooftop cocktails and a four-story industrial-chic lobby? Check, check... go check in now.
9) Food-hall craze
Modern food halls are hardly new. But they’re now officially everywhere. Two of our favorite newcomers:
Inner Rail, Omaha Brooklyn chef Akhtar Nawab curated the nine vendors and one sweet bar. They moved onto a former horse track site in Omaha’s Aksarben neighborhood (say it backward). We bet our taste buds on ACTQ tacos, Maharani Indian Kitchen and The Backstretch bar’s negroni on tap.
Sherman Phoenix, Milwaukee In 2018, The Next Level Vegans and other food spots set up shop in an old bank in northwest Milwaukee. The project strategically supports entrepreneurs of color (with biz mentorship and coaching) and houses more than 20 start-ups.
10) 150 years of Cedar Point
From Timothy Meinch, travel editor
When I was growing up in northern Ohio, taking a loop on a Cedar Point coaster was a veritable right of passage. This spring, Ohio’s Roller Coaster Capital of the World in Sandusky celebrates 150 years. For the sesquicentennial, nightly parties (June 12–August 16) will include performers, floats and an original score. Online sweepstakes are live now for 150 coaster fans to win a lifetime pass for themselves and three friends.
11) Cyclops Bakeshop
Hungry for a cookie that looks like an avocado? Or a LaCroix can? How about a grill with itty-bitty burgers and brats? Kara Bolt is your gal. She owns Cyclops, a bakery that sells brilliantly decorated vegan sugar cookies in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Bolt tested 20-plus formulas to perfect her egg- and dairy-free recipe, and she makes her own custom cutters. There’s no brick-and-mortar (yet), so follow @cyclopsbakeshop for her market schedule—and fistfuls of whimsical cookies in your feed.
12) Peeler power
OXO Good Grips Three-Piece Assorted Prep Peeler Set, with straight, serrated and julienne blades. $15.
“Ergonomic. Petite. And sooo sharp! My love for OXO’s new veggie peelers is real." -Hannah Agran, executive editor
13) Honey do
There’s local honey. And then there’s Ames Farm single-source honey, with each jar dated and traced to a specific Minnesota hive and nectar source, such as basswood, dandelion or fall wildflowers. Variety packs of the tiny jars make adorable gifts. From $14.
14) Follow: The Leek and the Carrot
Lauren Rudersdorf calls herself the Leek. Her husband, Kyle, is the Carrot. Together, they grow organic veggies at Raleigh’s Hillside Farm in southern Wisconsin. Rudersdorf’s blog and Instagram are a treat—full of ebullient selfies, seasonal recipes, regional travel inspo, and wry honesty about the joys and challenges of farming, self-care and marriage.