See the Midwest Picks Our Editors are Loving Right Now
Our writers and editors share their top picks for home, garden, life, food and travel. Check out removable wallpaper; the first nonprofit highlighted in our new Midwest Living Good Neighbor program; a knockout vegetarian cookbook; and more.
Home and garden
1) Chasing paper
Elizabeth Rees grew up in the printing biz in Milwaukee: Her dad’s company creates billboards, bus wraps and more. But as an adult, she likes to say, she found a new way to play with ink and paper. Chasing Paper sells affordable, swoonably stylish removable wallpaper, perfect for powder rooms or entries. The fabric-based material has a high-end feel and look, but its adhesive allows for adjustments if you apply it crookedly—or realize you actually want the other side to be your accent wall. From $40 for a 2x4-foot panel. chasingpaper.com.
2) Spit & Polish Hand Lotion
"After a morning in the garden, this superlight, nongreasy hand cream is my go-to." duluthtradingco.com.
From Kylee Krizmanic, editor in chief
3) Ring tones
With their boho, basket vibe, these colorful raffia napkin rings are perfect for backyard parties. $26 for four. zarahome.com.
4) Little free garden
In 2015, three friends from Fargo, North Dakota, launched Little Free Garden. The goal: Build community and increase access to fresh food. Participants plant veggies and herbs in front yards or outside schools, churches or libraries with a sign encouraging people to help themselves. (Get one with a $25 starter kit.) “As the project grows, we believe it represents a positive sign for the progress of humanity,” says cofounder Gia Rassier. littlefreegarden.com.
As part of our Good Neighbors program, highlighting unique Midwest nonprofits, Midwest Living has donated $500 to Little Free Garden.
As plant-based everything takes over the world, we’re watching Ingrained Chicago, a shop selling frozen raw bars and other vegan treats. (Check ’em out on Instagram: @ingrainedchicago.) Owner Sydney Verwilst relies on ingredients like cashews, dates and coconut, plus vibrant superfood powders. No shipping yet, but there’s talk. Here’s hoping!
6) Once More to the Rodeo
Prizewinning author Calvin Hennick takes a road trip home to Iowa with his biracial son in search of answers for what it means to be a man and a father in America. His memoir is relatable, poignant and laugh-out-loud funny (Pushcart Press, $17).
7) Kirk's Odor Neutralizing Hydrating Hand Wash
"This natural kitchen soap works great, and I love supporting a heritage Midwest biz." amazon.com.
From Hannah Agran, executive editor
8) Matcha sticks
"My sleep-when-I’m-dead travel style often means filling every vacay hour with one more excursion, meal or bike ride. (Why not all three?) On my latest trip, Matcha Travel Sticks from Chicago-based Kilogram Tea were a tasty game changer: 12 packets of green tea caffeine for $20. Just add water (hot or iced) and shake yourself awake." kilogramtea.com.
From Timothy Meinch, travel editor
9) Adventure Cove
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium spared no luxuries for its newest residents: seals and sea lions. The $40 million Adventure Cove habitat opens this summer with an underwater viewing tunnel and Jack Hanna’s Animal Encounters Village for live animal interactions with many different creatures.
10) Frida Kahlo
Glen Ellyn, Illinois
Her flower crown, brow and garb have become pop icons. Now a landmark Frida exhibition, the largest in the Chicago area in 40 years, will share 26 of her original pieces, on loan from the Museo Dolores Olmedo. Visit the Cleve Carney Museum of Art, June 5 through September 6, 2021 (note: event was recently rescheduled from 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19). theccma.org/frida-kahlo.
11) Hull, no!
We are skeptical of one-trick ponies. But the Chef’n Stem Gem Strawberry Huller is a keeper, nimbly removing leaves and core with no wasted fruit. $9. amazon.com.
12) Frosé sorbet
Ohio’s greatest export, Jeni’s, has put a spin on frozen wine that will spoil you for all other sorbet. Its silky texture comes from pear; the blush hue from melon, berries and rosé. Try it with almond cake. $12. At supermarkets, scoop shops and jenis.com.
13) Love Real Food
Kathryne Taylor, of the KC-based blog Cookie and Kate, published Love Real Food in 2017 (Rodale, $28). We fell for it then—and three years of great dinners and splattered pages later, we want to renew our vows. Taylor’s vegetarian recipes are knockouts. We dig the loaded salads. The butternut chili. The kale and cauli pasta. The fast restaurant-style salsa. Veg-heads: This is your meal ticket.
14) Just add salt
Cinco de Mayo falls on a Tuesday this year. We'll drink margs on a weeknight if you will.
Full disclosure: As one of my freelance gigs, I shoot for American Spoon, the jam geniuses of northern Michigan. So that’s how I first encountered their margarita mix. But my Midwest Living editors will back me up. This mix, barely sweetened and made with fresh citrus, crushes anything from the supermarket. Grapefruit gives it a slightly bitter backbone, so your drinks will hover on the (salt-dusted) rim between margarita and paloma. $16. spoon.com.
From Emily Berger, photographer