Our writers and editors share their top picks for home, garden, life, food and travel. Check out flower art prints, dandelion tea, a new Omaha hotel, a cheesy snack mix recipe and more.

By The editors of MidwestLiving.com
August 24, 2020
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(From Left) Employee Hannah Bain hangs with Vicki and Brooke Rawlins at their Wisconsin shop, Sister Golden.
Courtesy of Sister Golden/Matthew Sampson

Home + Garden

  1. Fleeting Beauty At Sister Golden in Door County, Wisconsin, mother and daughter Vicki and Brooke Rawlins sell home decor and prints of Vicki’s art. No originals, though. Here’s why: Using scissors and tweezers, Vicki arranges foliage and blooms into intricate scenes (below). Perfection isn’t the goal; if a rogue ladybug happens to knock a petal askew, that’s part of the charm. She snaps a photo, then it all goes back outside. “To me, they represent how fragile and yet resilient life is,” Vicki says. “New life is created and then gives back to the never-ending cycle of growth and rebirth.” From $35. sistergolden.com
Pumpkin Patch
Vicki Rawlins
Handcrafted boards by Alex Clarke
Courtesy of Alex Clarke

2. Nosh On Wood I’d happily take bread and cheese for my last meal on earth—especially on Alex Clarke’s artful boards, handcrafted in Madison, Wisconsin, of walnut or bird’s-eye maple with brass handles. All that’s missing is a nice local Gouda and a bakery baguette. From $80. alexandra-clarke.com —From Kelsey Ogletree, Writer

Pinecone wind chimes by Iron Accents
Courtesy of Iron Accents

3. Pine For Me No cabin, no problem. These iron pinecone wind chimes will evoke Up North vibes on breezy fall evenings, even in the suburbs. The large chime measures 22 inches long, the smaller is 19. From $20. ironaccents.com

Life

DreamBikes
Courtesy of DreamBikes

4. Good Neighbors: Different Spokes DreamBikes may look like an average bike store, but the work happening inside goes beyond repairing two-wheel rides. This Wisconsin-based nonprofit (with Midwest shops in Madison and Milwaukee) provides on-the-job training for underprivileged teens, teaching them how to refurbish and resell gently used bicycles. Since its inception in 2008 DreamBikes has returned more than 10,000 bikes to the community—and kicked up a little you-can-do-anything magic dust in the process. “The struggles of a pandemic and social injustice in the world support our realization that our drive to educate and empower is more important than ever,” says Matthew Martinez, branch manager. dream-bikes.org

As part of our Good Neighbors program, highlighting unique Midwest nonprofits and individuals making our communities stronger, Midwest Living has donated $500 to DreamBikes.

Dandy Blend Dandelion Tea
Brie Passano

5. Adios, Jitters Dandelions are a pain in the lawn—but in a cup, they’re actually, well, quite dandy. Born in Ohio in 1994 (so it’s practically a heritage brand now), Dandy Blend is a caffeine-free, herbal instant bev made from the weed’s root. Quitting coffee? Dandy Blend tastes remarkably like it, hot or iced. $9 for a 50-serving bag. dandyblend.com

Rust: A Memoir of Steel and Grit
Brie Passano

6. My Bedside Read Eliese Colette Goldbach’s Rust: A Memoir of Steel and Grit chronicles her three-plus years working in a Cleveland steel mill. Despite differences in gender and politics, trust and respect for her coworkers were the overriding and unexpected result of her time in this dangerous, challenging world (Flatiron, $28).—From Cynthia Earhart, Writer

Travel

The Forge: Lemont Quarries
Courtesy of The Forge: Lemont Quarries

7. Flight Plans I am so excited to take my daughter to The Forge: Lemont Quarries, a new 300-acre attraction in Lemont, just southwest of Chicago. They had me at North America’s largest aerial adventure course—but the park also has over-water ziplines, rock climbing, kayak and paddleboat rentals, a kids zone, and trails for mountain biking and walking. Making me wonder: Will one day be enough? forgeparks.comFrom Mary-Beth Rouse, Creative Director

Rose Farm in Norwalk, Iowa
Kathryn Gamble

8. Patch It Up After months of staying home, even a small change in scenery can reset your mood. In other words, this is definitely not the year to buy your pumpkin from a cardboard box at the supermarket. Instead, visit a favorite local patch or orchard—and keep your eyes on Instagram. Your friends might be sharing a hidden-gem farm stand you’ve never heard of. Case in point: Our staff is loving on Rose Farm in Norwalk, Iowa, where Karri and Patrick Rose are building a pretty little Eden of flowerbeds, beehives, vegetables, fruit trees, free-range hens—and yes, pumpkins. rosefarmstead.com

9. Nesting Instinct Scheduled to open later this fall, The Peregrine Hotel Omaha is named for a falcon-breeding program on the adjacent WoodmenLife Tower. Watch for the birds from the hotel’s rooftop bar (the city’s first). Inside, the Hilton Curio Collection property has a chic, Art Deco-meets-woodsy feel, with avian art and a six-story mural of the namesake species, visible exclusively from Falcon View guest rooms. peregrinehotelomaha.com

Face mask from Charlie Hustle in Kansas City, Missouri
Courtesy of Charlie Hustle

10. Face Fashion Socks. Underwear. Phone charger. Masks. Many businesses (or even whole cities) require face coverings to protect staff and fellow customers, so don’t travel without them. Make your mask dollars work extra hard by buying from a small Midwest business. The one pictured is from Charlie Hustle in Kansas City, Missouri. See more Midwest-made face masks.

Food

Cheesy Rosemary and Pecan Snack Mix
Brie Passano; Food Styling: Kelsey Bulat

11. Cheesy Rosemary And Pecan Snack Mix In a large bowl, combine 3 cups pecan halves, 2 cups each oyster crackers and square white cheddar cheese crackers, 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan, 1 cup pumpkin seeds, 2 tablespoons each packed brown sugar and chopped fresh rosemary, 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper, and 4 cloves minced garlic. Drizzle in ½ cup melted butter; stir gently to coat. Spread on a large, foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 300° for 15 minutes; toss, then bake 15 minutes more. Let cool, then store in an airtight container. (It lasts a week…we’ve heard.) Get a printable version of this recipe.

Copper, Iron, and Clay
Brie Passano

12. Vessels Of Love Wisconsin writer Sara Dahmen is thought to be the only female coppersmith in the country. Her beautifully penned and photographed book, Copper, Iron, and Clay, explores the history, science and art of copper, cast-iron and clay-pot cooking, with recipes for each. “If we’re demanding to know if our food is made locally and with the least impact on the environment,” Dahmen writes, “we should expect the same of our cookware” (William Morrow, $33).

Hell Fire Detroit hot sauces
Blaine Moats

13. On The Sauce In a category where heat and vinegar tang often mask real pepper flavor, Hell Fire Detroit’s five hot sauces put the veg first. Poblano. Manzana. Fresno. Each sauce tastes unique, with texture and color from the seeds and charred bits. From $10 (or $45 for a gift box). hellfiredetroit.com

Rockit apples
Brie Passano

14. The Little Apple “Why have apples gotten so huge? These new minis are easier to eat—and adorable!” Crisp, sweet and tiny, Rockit apples are available at Walmart and other stores. chelanfresh.comFrom Hannah Agran, Executive Editor