2015 Fall

4xForth: Stevi Savage of Averyhouse and Smilebooth by Clare Johnson

Happy 4xForth Friday, friends! Today we're talking with Stevi Savage of Averyhouse and Smilebooth. Did you see our Smilebooth photos from our holiday party? We couldn't get enough of everyone's gifs

Anyways, Stevi is a stellar lifestyle/wedding photographer, with a timeless touch and a knack for capturing authentic moments of beauty and joy! Stevi's kind spirit and appreciation for the everyday not only shines through in her work, but in how she spends her time in this lovely city of ours. Read on: 

Places I frequent in Chicago: 

Heritage Bicycles - A destination coffee and bike shop for Chicago tourists and we are lucky that it just so happens to be right in our neighborhood. :) The family behind the shop are quality people, some of the hardest working and smartest people I know. Naturally, you can expect every aspect of their product and service to be top notch. From cozy to inspiring, it's my favorite place to grab a cup of joe. 

Antique Taco - Best tacos I've ever had, hands down. Antique taco speaks my love language. We adore the family behind the shop and have loved bringing all of our out of town friends and family here for over three years now. There is love in every detail and something fun to look at in every corner of the room. 

Bang Bang Pie - Delicious brunch with that good 'ol southern hospitality. You won't find a tastier biscuit or a more unique spin on sweet and savory pie shop. The owner treats his customers like family and the pie garden is my favorite place to linger on a sunny day with my family and friends. 

Favorite things to do in Chicago: 

Fly kites at Cricket Hill - This is a family tradition that we started when my son was born three years ago. We take our stunt kites out to the hill on a windy day at the start of each new season. The view of the city from the top is a reminder to appreciate this beautiful city we call home. And looking up at our soaring kites is a reminder to let go of anything that is dragging me down and put my focus on what truly lifts me up. It's a special thing to do in the company of those I love most. 

Rent a kayak or SUP from the sailing center in Evanston - When we're in need of a little adventure but don't have time to leave the city, we head up to Northwestern's sailing center for a day on the water. We have rented both SUP's and kayaks. A double kayak works great for the three of us, including our three year old son.

Montrose Harbor - Taking a day of rest usually means biking over to the harbor with our hammock in tow. We pack a picnic, find a quiet spot on the lake, bring some watercolors or the ukelele, and spend a few hours just relaxing by the water. Sometimes we take a stroll through the bird sanctuary instead. It is peaceful and quiet, a great place to disconnect from the busyness of the city.

Favorite things to do with kids and families: 

Heritage Littles - When I have some extra time with my son during the day, we don't have to go far for a sweet little date with one another. He loves looking at all of the kids' bike accessories and the milk and cookie bar is the perfect place to relax together. He always feels so grown up when he pulls his tiny little chair up to the bar. The staff always do a wonderful job of making it a special experience for us both. 

Emerald City Theatre - Taking my son to plays at Emerald City are some of my favorite memories and a perfect way to spend a cold, winter day. We've seen Bingo's Birthday, A Teddy Bear's Picnic, and the Magic Treehouse, all of which were fun and memorable experiences for all of us. 

Millennium Park - In the summer, we love to visit Crown Fountain. Splashing around in the water is a perfect way to cool off on a hot day. In the winter, we love to ice skate around the outdoor rink and drink hot chocolate while admiring all of the festive holiday decor. My husband proposed to me on ice skates in the middle of the rink so this is always a very special memory for the two of us. :) 

Places I'll go someday: 

Rhodes, Greece - This is my dream vacation spot. When naming our son Rhodes three years ago, I came across the beautiful island when searching his name on Google. Once home to one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, The Colossus of Rhodes, the island looks like a magical place to explore and unwind on for a week or two. Sighhhh...someday!  

Toronto, Canada - We've attempted to make up way up to Canada for a quick getaway several times, but for some reason, something comes up at the last minute every time and we end up canceling. I am determined to get us there some day, though. It seems like a fun city to explore and is so similar (and relatively close!) to Chicago.

Patagonia, Chile - An international backpacking trip is high up there on my bucket list and I've dreamed of doing it here since college. Mountains crowned with glaciers, glistening waterfalls, flowering meadows, occasional puma sighting, feeling off-the-grid...the adventure sounds magical and even more so on foot, with a backpack, and countless opportunities to explore and experience the thrill of being a pioneer. 

Thanks for sharing, Stevi! Patagonia has been on my bucket list for a while now, too...when should we go?! In the meantime, let's grab a lavender latte at Heritage. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! And make sure to follow Stevi on social media (Twitter, Instagram, SteviSavage on Snapchat)! 


Black Mission Fig Clafoutis by Julie Schumacher

Say it with me now: clafoutis. *clah-FOU-tee* I would shout it out it in the days leading up to making it in a super sing-song-y voice. Its origins are in a verb meaning "to fill" and fill I did.

My mom had made clafoutis but they'd always featured pears. This Food & Wine recipe locks in on the brief window (at least here in Chicago) Black Mission figs are fine and paired them with a port syrup (yes) and a port-infused whipped cream (yes, yes). 

It was also something I could, for the most part, prep in the Vitamix. I'm telling you, this dish is about stunning people without breaking a sweat. It's watching eggs whip themselves, letting it sit, then pouring it in. Yes, you pay attention while it's cooking but by far the most arduous part of the process was slicing and selecting which figs made the cut.

After working with Kelly Allison and Kelly Connolly I've come to think as much about how I'm presenting as what I'm presenting. We've got a giant cast iron skillet and I loved the rustic heft it would present as a boundary, since all our sweets had borders and boundaries. 

I realized after letting the first batch sit for 30 as prescribed it was going to barely make a dent in that huge skillet. I poured it in, repeated the steps and doubled the recipe. It was one of those great moments having succumbed to the desire to purchase extra figs paid off. 

Even the syrup and whipped cream were a breeze and leave just enough port behind (even with doubling the recipe!) for you to toast your own success. Cheers!

4xForth: Liz Klafeta of BANGTEL by Taylor Bryant

I like to think of 4xForths as the catalyst to an amazing weekend because who doesn't love to read about rad women and their favorite things to do in the Windy City? This week's feature is all about community member Liz Klafeta, owner of  BANGTEL  She's an interior designer, stylist, entrepreneur, and all around girl boss.

Check out Liz's go-to spots below!

Favorite places to grab a drink in the city:

  1. Parson's Chicken and Fish. The outside patio is amazing for meeting a group of friends. You almost feel like you are in some amazing outdoor oasis in Austin, TX. The frozen Negroni's are superb!
  2. Matchbox because, well…not only do they make the BEST martinis, but they hand you the rest of the shaker. I love a good 2 for 1!  It's always a better idea to UBER here.
  3. Wang's!! That speakeasy dark sexy Japanese opium den vibe. Great for a martini and a first date and always throwing badass parties. Quite honestly, some of the best music in the area as well.
  4. Berlin, especially  for PLASTIC FACTORY.  Ever seen the creatures that throw this party? This place has been around for over 30 years and I have never seen this much talent roaming around the dance floor and gracing the stages. They are amazing. Androgynous Club Kids that spend days on their costumes.  Leave inspired and tired after shaking that hot foot all night long! 

Favorite hotels in the city:

Being that I gypsy amongst all the BANGTEL's, sometimes I have to live in a hotel when they are all fully booked.  It allows me to research first hand the type of top notch concierge we at BANGTEL like to provide to our guests!  

  1. Soho house. They send someone up to make your drink in room when phoned, pre-dinner hour.  Also, the number of toiletries with their own labeled bag is beyond impressive.  I, of course, phoned down and asked if I could take them all after trying everything Cowshed product in the shower.  I love staying there and taking meetings all day.  It is beyond convenient.  January and February are the best because as a member you can stay for $100/night!  That's what I like to call a PAR-TAY! 

  2. The Thompson Hotel: Um…love the restaurant, Nico Osteria.  The rooms are huge as well with a built-out banquet in the corner that is upholstered just right!  The TV's in the lobby with the landscape of the city simply blew my mind.  I had always wanted to do one with a fire silhouette in all the Bangtel's with fireplaces.
  3. The Public Hotel…Ian Schrager designed and there is just so much history.  I remember eating cheeseburgers with my sister in the original Pump Room pre-rehab.  We would sit in Frank Sinatra's booth and look at photos of all the celebs when they frequented the establishment as babies.  It is so light and crisp and refreshing there.  It always feels like home.  The weekend nights fill the lobby with DJ's and beautiful people, while Sunday has the best brunch. 
  4. The Chicago Athletic Association because it is just INSANE.  If you haven't been, GO.  The lobby, the view at the restaurant Cindy's, the Cherry Circle room with that CEILING.  So much history packed into that guy.  Ask for a tour and get your socks knocked off.  The rooms are super hip with brand new rehabbed bathrooms and there's a Shake Shack in the lobby when you come home on those late nights.  Land and Sea did a great job making 

Places I frequent in the city:

  1. Tile Outlet on Fullerton. I. AM. JUST. ALWAYS. BUYING. TILE. The prices are awesome.  There is also a limited run of things.  So, although, you may think everyone has it, everyone will not be able to have it.  

  2. Native Foods for that Taco Salad.  Do they put crack in that thing?? There are thankfully a few interspersed throughout the city, so its a quick pick-up when I am running around. 

  3. Andersonville: Thybony for wallpaper and paint. They have a great selection for wallpapers.  I also love Scout for a Marlin or an amazing table.  Kyllie, of Recovered Interiors, does an amazing job of upholstering some of their goods just right. 

  4. Zap Props or Propabilities for photoshoots and rental items for commercials and print ads.  Now, I generally go and purchase prized possessions for my rental homes. Shoot... I just told you one of my secrets! 

Best galleries in the city:

  1. Chicago Truborn: Ever wanted to be able to buy that "cool" graffiti-inspired art? Sara, the owner, is doing it right!   Not only is she a darling, but she really done something amazing by making street-art accessible to the public.  Pop in and get some good stuff!

  2. Johalla Projects:  Anna Cerniglia is not only one of the raddest chicks I have ever met, but she does the most inspirational things.  For example, she is somehow able to arrange to have her artists paint on a gigantic shipping container for the entry to Perry Farral's area Stage at Lollapoolooza.  NO BIG DEAL...she did that!  #mindblown

  3. Matthew Rachman Gallery:  Well curated walls focusing on contemporary abstract art juxtaposed along side an insane collection of rare mid-century modern furniture in a minimal setting.  The guys there are pretty rad, too! GO SEE! 

  4. Zhou B Art Gallery is a building of artists that offer a live-work space.  Its a crazy little inspirational building in Bridgeport with art installations down random hallways.  It used to be the home to the likes of Hebru Brantley and I love when the meeting of Styles is there.  They saran wrap "wall space" by repeatedly wrapping around columns that are 14' feet away from one another.  

Best places to relax in the city:

  1. Division Chiropractic Not only did they save my back, but Shari will cup the crap out of you and make you as good as new in no time! 

  2. Cowshed Spa is great to spend the day at.  Their massages are always so on point.  The facials are great as well.  If only they offered no chip manicures, this girl would call it a one-stop-shop. Afterwords, you can chill by the fire on roof or catnap while you watch a movie in the cinema room. 

  3. King Spa is uncomfortably weird at first, but then relaxing. Get naked with everyone and dip yourself in every hot to cold bath. You also get to wear the sexiest light pink scrubs while lounging in a variety of their Salt Rooms. The Bim Bop dinner is a highlight and the moisturizing face mask in a bag. 

  4. Painstop on Lincoln or Milwaukee is great for a deep tissue Thai massage.  The wait is usually limited and you can schedule it last minute. They even take some insurance. 

Reading  Liz's suggestions for enjoying Chicago has me ready to take a staycation. I can picture it now, a day at the spa, a night on the town, and coming back to one of the bangin' BANGTEL properties.

If you're ready for a staycation of your own or if you just want to be inspired by Liz's vibrant and ecclectic style, be sure to visit BANGTEL on the web and follow them on Instagram and Facebook.