May 29, 2009

Back in the Backyard

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Well, we've all planted, weeded, fertilized and nurtured our little plants along all spring.  Now it's time to begin enjoying the fruits of our labors.  The great outdoors beckons us, and Clever Girl has a fresh, colorful selection of tablecloths to add the finishing touch to your outdoor spaces. Ranging from fresh stripes to french country classics, these table cloths are just the thing to add polish and flare to your back yard spaces.

Breakfast coffee and the morning paper just seem better in the backyard.  Why not grab that dogeared copy of the guide to backyard birds and see who joins you?  Add a bouquet of fresh flowers, a scattering of flickering votive candles, and evening meals beg to be savored with an extra glass of wine. Even a simple salad tastes better in the backyard.  Or, load up your iPod with some classic summertime tunes, and you'll have the hippest, hottest neighborhood gathering spot in town.  And don't even get us started on what a leisurely Sunday brunch can be like...
Whatever your style we've got the cloth to match the mood.  So don't let summer slip away.  The Fourth of July is just around the corner, and it's all downhill from there.  Get going out in the back yard and savor all that summer has to offer!

May 26, 2009

The Way Life Should Be

Greetings all, have arrived out east. 1200+ miles and not a single speeding ticket! As many of you know, for me, that is most excellent indeed...

Maine is a bit behind the Mid-West as far as spring goes. Tonight we are going to be at 31 degrees--a fact I discovered only after planting up all the pots, garden beds, containers and window boxes. So it's out with the sheets tonight to keep the tender new plants safe until the sun is up to warm them in the morning.

On my way to Moose Crossing (yes, that's the real name) to get the plants, I stopped in to see Lisa Bottero owner of the Nobleboro Antique Exchange. Lisa, and her many dealers are fully stocked for the season, and even her dog Renata was in a good mood and happy to see everyone. This is not always the case.

On the upper level of the exchange, I spent a long time browsing the book room, and found some treasures as always. There's an assortment of odd bookshelves filled with titles like, Gardening by the Sea, Walking the Coast of Maine, Maverick in Mauve (didn't get that one). We already have multiple copies of Jaws--required reading on the shelf of every east-coast cottage--but I love all of the local Maine books they have. There are also bins full of charts and maps, and the slightly musty smell of old books mingles with the fresh scent of the grass waifing in from the field out back. The classical music channel plays softly in the back, and it's just a perfect place to spend an hour perusing the stacks. In addition to several books, I also found a darling vintage dog from Royal Doulton in England. It's a Beagle (shocking, I know) and looks just like my Gracie. (Actually I'm reading lots of good books right now, including the newest from Donna Leone, About Face; I've followed her detective Guido Brunetti for some time now, and always enjoy her writing. Also on the reading list is Best Food Writing 2008 and Dog is my Co-Pilot: Great Writers on the World's Oldest Friendship.)

Anyway, from there we went on up to get the plants. Moose Crossing was bustling as usual, and soon the back of the car was loaded with flowers of every sort. Back at the cottage planting commenced, and I'll post a few pictures of the final product soon.

P.S. I found a wonderful new glass artist that makes amazing rings. We'll have them in by July, and I'll let you know exactly when they arrive. I NEVER stop looking for special new things to bring to Clever Girl!

May 15, 2009

Magic Dress

More colorful than the little black dress. More sophisticated than the basic black dress. More "I feel pretty" than any ordinary dress. This is THE magic dress for the summer of 2009. This dress is going with you to two weddings, a party at Navy Pier, the Tom Jones concert at Ravinia, the big charity event (you know, the one you agreed to co-chair in a weak moment last year) plus the quiet get-away weekend with your husband up in Lake Country.
... Yes, this is the dress. You will introduce it to both your high healed rock-star black shoes and your Tory Burch ballet flats. They will all get along. They will all work in perfect harmony to make you look good. All this little dress asks of you is that you twirl around in it once or twice so it can show off its full potential. That's really not too much to ask--after all, this is no ordinary little dress...
Lemon Lime Summer Party Dress. Also available in Bluebell.
S, M, L, $86.oo.

Hurry, hurry, the parties are coming!!!

May 7, 2009

Maine Dish

For all of you Clever Girls out there itching for a new recipe, may I offer you the Maine Dish.
For years the Broccoli Waldorf Salad at the always super tasty Damariscotta River Grill in Maine has haunted me. In the long stretch of dark winter days, I crave this tasty, crunchy, tantalizingly simple side dish that I always enjoy whenever I visit the coast. However, I could never quite put my finger on what exactly made it so good. Many times I have tried to re-create this at home to no avail--something was missing--but what? It took Robin Jones to crack the code.
Robin, a dear friend, and year-round resident of Maine, had strong cooking roots from the deep south. Leave it to her to figure out what I had been missing...the secret ingredient if you will...maple syrup! What follows is the perfect side salad, inspired by the River Grill, and perfected by Robin. The apples make it tart, the broccoli gives it crunch, the Cranberries add a chewy texture, and the dressing is light and refreshing--not heavy at all. Super simple. Super good.

Cranberry Broccoli Salad

12 to 14 ounces of raw broccoli floret's cut into bite sized pieces

Cut 2 Granny Smith or your favorite apples into small pieces (I leave peel on)

Chop about 1 cup of carrots

A couple handfuls of dried cranberries

1/2 - 3/4 cup of mayonnaise

2 - 3 tablespoons of real maple syrup

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.


May 4, 2009


One of the greatest things about sudden, random free time is taking a ramble; just jumping in the car and seeing where the road takes you. On one such day I found myself at a little gallery located in an historic barn in Michigan. While meandering about, I came upon a beautiful display of jewelry and was smitten by a pair of earrings in blue and chocolate colored glass. I, of course, had to make them mine. While chatting with the gallery owner, she told me they were by an artist from the Chicago Suburbs. Western Springs to be exact. Humm...guess where I'm from??? So, as often happens, one thing led to another, and it turns out I live only a few short blocks from the designer Donna Sauers.

Happily, we have carried Donna's beautiful glass jewelry work from the very beginning at Clever Girl, and she now even works at the store. (Talk about artist in residence!) Additionally Donna does many art shows around the Midwest.

Clever Girl is pleased to host a two-day trunk show on May 8th and 9th, featuring the jewelry of Donna Sauers. This show is just in time for Mother's Day, and we will have extra stock on hand to insure a wide selection. Please join us for this very special event.

Please call the store directly if you have any questions: 708.246.5050
Click here for more information on Donna.

May 1, 2009

Happy May Day!

When I was a little girl, my mother and I always made a May Day basket for my Grandmother. A May Day cone is actually a more accurate description. Mom helped me cut a circle out of paper, and decorate it with cut~outs and drawings of flowers and birds. We carefully rolled it into a cone and tied on a pretty ribbon handle; then we filled it with daffodils. Grandma lived right on our block, so we would sneak over and leave it on the handle of the front door as a suprise. It was a charming project done in celebration of the full fledged arrival of Spring.
To this day, I love a vase full of the seasons first daffodils with their happy flower faces. Perhaps you can celebrate this May Day with a friend or family member. Make a little basket, enjoy a picnic, or simply take a walk and look for the daffodils and other flowers that are celebrating Spring. Our own local flower shop here in Western Springs, Stems and Twigs, has buckets full of charming flowers to savor. I think I'll pick up a bunch today in celebration of May.

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