4xForth: Kelly Connolly of Nimble Well / by Clare Johnson

It's 4xForth Friday and today we're talking to the magnificent Kelly Connolly, the Founder of Nimble Well. Kelly is not only a brilliant and talented entrepreneur, she's a major contributor to our intimate Forth Chicago salons. Kelly has single-handedly made our salons sing with her stunning, rentable collections. We couldn't do it without her - literally! - and we're insanely lucky to have her as part of our creative team and community.

Today we're talking to Kelly about her favorite Chicago spots, where she plans to travel, her favorite city bites and her go-to paroozing sites.

Places I frequent in Chicago: 

  1. Music Box Theater: One of the only theaters in the city that shows movies for adults. They have one of the last working 70mm projectors in the country. You can see Vertigo, 2001: Space Odyssey, The Master, Patton...in the original format. We do their Xmas sing-a-long every year on Xmas Eve.
  2. My husband and I go on a lot of nature walks in forest preserves. I would love to live near Big Nature, but this gets us through. Crabtree Nature Preserve, Ryerson Woods, the park on Peterson that follows old railroad tracks and the parks in southern Cook County are our favorites. We've also found some popular cruising spots on the Northwest side. Sagawau Preserve in the southern edge of Cook County has Dolomite canyons and we found a secret lake (pond) one day in the spring that had thousands of tadpoles.
  3. Alapash Home & Terrariums: The sweetest, earthiest little shop. If you were a hobbit from the shire this would feel like home. Everything is chosen and arranged with care by the proprietor, Marco, who makes owning a shop seem like a calling. He makes terrariums. The first time I walked in I saw many things I already owned (a 3-D book about mushrooms, Juniper Ridge incense). I love to stop in and touch everything. He's on Montrose now, but moving up a few blocks on Damen soon.
  4. Bad Wolf Coffee: It's down the street from my office. The owner, Jacob, is an incredibly dedicated pastry chef. He doesn't cut corners. I have never had a better canelé. Every day they come out at 10am. He also makes a vegan pastry every day.

Places I'll go someday: 

  1. Seville during the Spring Flamenco Festival. What I've heard is that you need a family that has a tent in a good spot to gain entrée.
  2. Oaxaca during Day of the Dead. This is another family-based festival.
  3. A long canoe trip in the Boundary Waters. I went on a short trip with my sister two summers ago, with a map, a canoe, camping equipment, and food. No signs, no GPS. We got turned around a lot, caught in downpours, saw the Northern Lights every night, and got mosquito bites on top of mosquito bites. There are Native American hieroglyphs on cliffs, moose...
  4. To see Royal De Luxe somewhere. I want to see three-story puppets take over a city.

Best bites in the city:

  1. Black Dog Gelato is the platonic ideal of gelato. I try gelato everywhere and I'm always disappointed because it's not as good. The flavors are updated every day. Goat cheese caramel cashew, maple ginger snap. Everyone else should give up. I feel militant about this.
  2. Pleasant House royal pies in Bridgeport. Kale & mushroom, steak & ale, chicken curry -- with minted peas on the side.
  3. 5411 Argentine empanadas. When Argentines rhapsodize about empanadas I believe this is what they're talking about. They also have dessert empanadas with bananas and Nutella.
  4. Irazu Costa Rican vegetarian burrito & sweet plantains. This is my favorite burrito going on twenty years. I add zucchini and spinach.

Sites I lurve:

  1. The New Yorker is a life preserver that keeps me believing that there are still reasonable, compassionate people and the whole world isn't mad.
  2. Anna Williams' The Voracity is an ongoing project between Williams, a photographer, and many collaborators. Each issue is a new theme and style that's a mix of food photography, still life, fashion, graphic design, art project. And it's not selling anything except the images themselves. Evocative and full of inspiration for image-making.
  3. Mimi Thor's Manger blog: If you're susceptible to life envy it's best to stay away, but if you want to peer through a keyhole at the most delicious French country life full of dogs and children, cooking all day, wine, and candlelight, this is for you.
  4. Chicago Weather Center: Tom Skilling's forecasts are rich dramas: "Arctic cold dominates in spite of sunshine." No weather app can match his descriptions of the existential struggle for high temperatures, diminishing winds, and chances of sunshine.

Thanks for sharing, Kelly!

If you ever need a buddy for the Music Box, trips to the beautiful forest preserves or the Boundary Waters, I'm more than happy to volunteer. I'm inspired by your incredible canoeing trip and I'm sure I'll be day-dreaming of warm summer evenings the rest of the day (minus the mosquito bites!).

Follow Kelly on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and on the Nimble Well website.