Canine Carry-Ons

by Sarah Ouano

This past month, I have logged countless minutes in an attempt to figure out the ins and outs of travelling with my beloved pup, Elphie,

and I can tell you that the past week of vacation with her has been worth every second of my pre-travel angst!  If you’re a doting dog mom like me, I hope you’ll find my experience useful, and spare yourself undue stress.  Read on for my stellar stowing strategies.

1. Airline policy: Obviously, every airline is different.  Some don’t mind how you stow your pet purse, others require a checked crate, and still others demand an animal-free flight.  The easiest way to navigate the airline jargon is to directly call your airline and get the low-down.  In general, however, small animals are allowed in the cabin if they can comfortably fit into a medium-sized, duffle-type luggage with adequate ventilation (mesh walls).  If your companion is larger than the average purse pooch, she will likely need to be checked into the cargo area of the plane, and in a hard-sided crate.  Because most planes have a 5-pet maximum, the sooner you can reserve your pooch’s stowaway ticket, the better.  You’ll also want to fully understand the cost of a doggy ticket—with Southwest, it’s $75 each way, and our Elphie counted as a carry-on, so no additional personal item for me.  Southwest also restricts pet passage to the cabin only, so any pets that don’t fit in an under-the-seat soft carrier are denied passage.

2.   Bag selection: Almost all of the major airlines produce their own branded carriers—hello, supplemental sales!—but because we couldn’t deny our girl the finest accommodations, we sprang for a luxury ride with a Dog Whisperer carrier.  With its padded but sturdy base, ample but discreet ventilation, wide and padded shoulder strap, and attractive chocolate brown exterior with turquoise piping, even Elphie seemed excited to travel by duffel.  None of the fellow passengers or flight crew even knew our pup tagged along, as our bag was inconspicuous and our dog, perfectly (and quietly!) content in it.  This was certainly for the better, as we wanted to keep our girl as calm as possible during an otherwise stressful time.

3. Piddle-proofing: Every airport I have visited has boasted an “Animal Relief Area,” and while these are certainly helpful, give yourself some extra time to take advantage of it.  There were two issues I have encountered with these relief areas.  In the first place, they are outdoors, so you have to visit before you go through security.  In the second, every other animal relieves himself in the same area, so exciting scents abound!  Give your dog time to sniff and be sniffed, as it will help ease the travel anxiety.  You won’t be sorry you did.

4. To sedate or not to sedate?  Good question.  Some of my clients have come to me for advice on natural ways to ease pet anxiety at home and when traveling and, just like their human counterparts, every animal is different!  Some don’t need any medication at all, just a little bit of “practice traveling” (i.e. being in their carrier for a few minutes every day, riding in the car frequently, walking through an outdoor mall, etc.).  However, I understand the desire to calm pets (and people) with a penchant for whining and barking, for the comfort of everyone on board.  To this, I say: Rescue Remedy for Pets by Bach Flower Essences is fabulous!  We gave Elphie a few drops on her treats before going to the airport, and again before boarding the plane, and she was an absolute champion the entire time.  Just be ready to book it to the next Animal Relief Area when you land, because 6 hours is a long time to hold it!

When booking travel with your canine companion or feline friend, it’s always helpful to get the how-to skinny from the professionals, and I hope my experience can shed some light on this daunting topic.  Until we meet again, happy tails to you!


Treasure hunt.

by Stephanie Lu Jokich

Here at the mansion, the staff is always on the hunt for the perfect treasures to accent our eclectic decor-each room its own wondrous escape.

What a treat it was to stumble across Paris Hotel Boutique. Lynn Goldfinger-Abram began her antique business in 1995, with the internet shop opening in 2002 as a new way to market her fantastic collection of decors, which includes European furnishings, antique curiosities, first edition books, paintings, Mid Century decor, and a vast array of old hotel souvenirs and silver. Very interesting sidenote-before opening Paris Hotel Boutique, she was personal assistant to late blues musician John Lee Hooker


Hours of viewing pleasure and if you are so inclined, happy shopping!

A little bit of heaven.

by Stephanie Lu Jokich

Can you think of 101 ways to use preserves? I don’t know about you, but Rare Bird is getting me excited to start trying. Every jar of Rare Bird Preserves is handmade in small batches and thoughtfully crafted in the French tradition, using the freshest seasonal fruit and naturally extracted pectin.


In 2006, Elizabeth Madden spent six months in the school’s L’Art de la Patisserie program, learning how to make bread, breakfast pastries, petit fours, cakes, tarts, sorbets, candies, and plated desserts.

You can read more about Elizabeth and her company, Rare Bird here.


Need your fix? Lucky for you, you can meet Elizabeth and scoop up her heavenly preserves this summer at The Wheeler Mansion Market, every Wednesday night, 4pm-8pm, starting the first Wednesday in June.


Glessner House Museum: Perfectly Preserving the Past

by Sarah Ouano

I recently had the privilege of touring the South Loop gem known as Glessner House, the 19th century winter home of the Glessner family.  You might recognize the Glessner name as one of the most influential families in Chicago during the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Although perhaps not as widely known as his neighbors Marshall Fields and George Pullman, John Jacob Glessner was a philanthropic Chicagoan, heavily involved in many civic organizations as board member or trustee, probably the most significant of which being Rush Medical College, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Chicago Orchestra Association, now known as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  Despite the decline of the Prairie Avenue neighborhood at the time of his death in 1936, Mr. Glessner understood the value of preservation, and entrusted the American Institute of Architects with the task of maintaining the mansion for future generations to enjoy.

John J. Glessner House

Crossing over the threshold at Glessner House was quite literally a step back in time, as the house has been painstakingly reconstructed to its original glory.  We were greeted by the curator of the museum, Bill, a veritable encyclopedia for all things Prairie Avenue.  His extensive knowledge of and passion for the history of the place breathed life into his stories of the home’s architecture, the history of surrounding Chicago, the family members’ personalities and fascinating legacies, and even the emotional and physical dynamics of the rotating staff tending to the home.

Like any modern-day celebrity news monger, I am absolutely captivated by the life and times of the rich and famous, from this century or those gone by, and having an all-access pass to the lives of these remarkable people was terribly exciting!  Of the many things that caught my eye that day, I have to say that the naturopathic doctor in me was all aflutter, and that I was particularly drawn to several home remedies my eyes spied throughout the house.

In the kitchen’s extensive dry pantry, Mrs. Glessner stored anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 pounds of raw honey, fresh from the Glessners’ summer home in New Hampshire, which she would gift to family and friends, or use throughout the year.  As you might know, honey has been well regarded for its healing properties, and recent research is verifying traditional claims that it improves allergies and speeds immune response.  In my own private practice, I encourage my clients with seasonal allergies to include moderate amounts of locally procured honey in their diets.  The reason: bees feast on plants native to the area in which they live, and the honey that they produce contains small amounts of local allergens that, when consumed by humans, slowly exposes the body’s immune system and helps to build up little armies designed to battle the offending allergen.  If this process is done slowly and over time, people tend to experience less intense allergic episodes and can expect to decrease the duration and severity of their symptoms.

In another corner of the dry pantry, my naturopathic curiosity spotted an empty bottle labeled “gripe water.”  Any of the mothers reading this may recognize the formula, but for those of you less informed about natural medicine, gripe water was a common household remedy for infants suffering from colic (abdominal pain and incessant crying), and is still widely available for use today.  Though the recipe for gripe water varies by manufacturer nowadays, it almost always includes the main ingredients of sodium bicarbonate, to neutralize stomach acid, and fennel and dill oils, which serve to soothe stomach and promote proper digestion. With no known side effects and pleasing taste, gripe water is certainly a handy remedy to have on hand with fussy babies in the house!

The last naturopathic remedy I spotted was in the servants’ quarters, on top of a modest dresser and next to a set of wooden knitting needles.  People who have heard of the remedy typically associate it with its laxative properties; indeed, it is a powerful laxative!  Though no longer widely used for this purpose, as it can cause severe abdominal cramping that lasts for hours, modern day uses of castor oil are topical (over the skin), applied to areas of cramping or pain, as the castor oil draws blood flow to the area, promoting healing.  It is also found as a constituent of a handful of pharmaceutical medications, including some used for chemotherapy and fungal infections.  Isn’t it interesting that traditional medicine, once scoffed at by the conventional medical system, is the basis of modern day care?

While my time at the Glessner House was certainly colored by my own background and interests, there is no short supply of fascinating objects or stories to be found there.  As the summer season draws quickly upon us, I encourage you to take advantage of the tours of Glessner House being offered in conjunction with Wheeler Mansion’s Wednesday French Markets.  As I am sure it will take minimal prompting for Bill and the other wonderful docents of Glessner House to divulge their knowledge of the history of local farming, fashion, and the arts, I have no doubts that a visit to the Glessner House will leave you inspired and wanting more!

Chess Records: From Paris to Chicago

by Stephanie Lu Jokich

Each morning, I walk by the former warehouse owned by the Chess Records Company, located just next door to the property.

Maybe this isn’t the case for most people, but sometimes all it takes is a conversation with a fellow music fan to reignite that deep-rooted appreciation for Chicago blues and jazz. While on a trip to Paris last winter, I happened upon a charming little record shop called Croco Disc.

The owner asked where I was from and when I said “Chicago,” his face lit up. “Chicago!” And off we went, chatting about Chicago and the players that became the fabric of our great musical history.  The man’s cheeks were the color of  Twizzlers, and what appeared to be enthusiasm for the great city of Chicago, was actually slight intoxication. He offered me rum.  It was 2 in the afternoon.

In any case, he was crazy about the story of Chess and Chicago music in general and introduced me to Chicago bop trumpeter, Paul Serrano. I will forever remember his shop, enthusiasm for this great city, and passion for the sounds we call home.

Here’s an excellent documentary about Chess available for free! Our property is located just steps away from the original Chess Records Studio, now Willie Dixon’s Blues Heaven Foundation. Come explore the South Loop 🙂

Chicago’s Historic (Still-Operating) Restaurants

by Stephanie Lu Jokich

Sure, Chicago style hot dogs and deep dish are a must,  but if you want to get a real feel for Chicago’s food history, you must try dining at some of the city’s famous (and oldest) restaurants.

We were delighted to stumble across this great “vintage” restaurant list by Domu. There are 58 restaurants on this map, including nine pizzerias, eight diners, and seven hot dog joints. Our top picks? Ann Sather, The Berghoff, and Twin Anchors. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner–solved. You can thank us later. Happy dining!

Charles James: Genius Deconstructed

by Stephanie Lu Jokich

One of less than a handful of American designers to have worked in the pure tradition of haute couture‚ Charles James has been described as the greatest couturier of his time by the Parisian design world. He was most famous for his unique ability to balance the intuition of an artist with the precise technical skill of an engineer.

Charles James: Genius Deconstructed explores the history of couture fashion designer Charles James and why nearly 40 years after his death he is still a relevant force in the fashion world. The exhibition‚ featuring  15 of James’ most iconic designs from 1928 through 1958‚ will be on display at the Chicago History Museum from October 22‚ 2011‚ through April 16‚ 2012.

The Chicago History Museum has one of the top costume collections in the world. And‚ due to Chicago’s special relationship with Charles James‚ they also have one of the most extensive and representative collections of James’s designs. We encourage you to go see these extraordinary pieces for yourself.

Chicago Restaurant Week!

by Stephanie Lu Jokich

We love to recommend our favorite restaurants to our guests-and this ladies and gentleman-is a big week. 200 restaurants. 10 days. Lots of savings. There couldn’t be a more perfect time for locals and tourists to explore Chicago’s magnificent culinary landscape.  The Fifth Annual Chicago Restaurant Week is your once-a-year chance to sample fare created by some of the city’s (and the world’s) top chefs at restaurants with prix fixe menus at $22, $33 and $44.

You can view all participating restaurants and prix fixe menus at the Chicago Restaurant Week page.

Happy dining!

Music Box Theater

by Stephanie Lu Jokich

Going to a movie is always a wonderful experience, but you really haven’t seen a movie until you’ve been to the Music Box.  For the last two decades, the Music Box Theatre has been the premiere venue in Chicago for independent and foreign films and we love it! The theatre opened it’s doors on August 22, 1929.

The Music Box was built for a cost of $110,000! The entire building, which also included nine storefronts and 32 apartments, cost $260,000. The building was designed by Louis A. Simon, a local architect who was better known for his Depression-era WPA Post Offices and homes for the nouveau riche. The theater was erected by The Southport Avenue Businessmen’s Association and operated by Lasker and Sons, who operated several smaller neighborhood houses in Chicago.

Do not miss the Midnight Movies or Weekend Matinees! See classics like Casablanca and Rocky Horror Picture Show. “Here’s looking at you kid,” may take on a whole new meaning.

See current showtimes here.