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Suburban Life MAGAZINE

MARCH 2018

TRA VEL WORLD’S 50 BEST BEACHES AZORES MAGIC Portugal’s untapped islands of adventure page 14

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From bland to bliss page 20


Attire fit for travel page 19

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TRAVEL 8 WORLD’S 50 BEST BEACHES Travel agents, journalists and bloggers compile this year’s list of top spots for sand and surf 14 UNSPOILED AZORES Considered the ‘Hawaii of the Atlantic,’ Europe’s best-kept secret beckons adventurers 18 TRAVEL TRENDS Industry insiders suggest Cuba, Iceland and Italy will be among this year’s most-desirable destinations

FASHION & BEAUTY 19 FIRST-CLASS FASHIONS Comfortable and stylish clothing fit for travel

HOME & LIFESTYLE 20 OUTDOOR OASIS How to go from bland and blah to backyard bliss

DINING & ENTERTAINING 22 OUT OF AFRICA World-class wines from the Western Cape

FAMILY IN FOCUS 24 SUBURBAN SUPERDAD Considering a road trip with the kids? It’s not as bad as it sounds, and gas is (relatively) cheap.

OUT & ABOUT 25 BOOK NOOK Nontraditional travel reads


26 CALENDAR See what’s happening in DuPage County this month!

UNSPOILED AZORES Considered the ‘Hawaii of the Atlantic,’ Europe’s best-kept secret beckons adventurers Photos by Kara Silva


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Editor's Note Hello, readers. I’m back! It’s been quite some time since I was your editor, and I’m happy to – once again – be sharing stories from my hometown of Wheaton, and its surrounding communities. And just in time for the travel issue! My favorite edition of the year. Normally, by March, I’d already be pining for my next trip – fully immersed in the planning, plotting and booking process. But not this year. This year, my calendar is wide open, which is really strange, but also intriguing. I’m allowing for spontaneity and the unknown to move into my travel forecast.

Terceira island – one of the nine Atlantic islands that make up the Azores archipelago – popped in my inbox, luring my attention away from the other Internet clutter with its promise of roundtrip flights (from Boston), a seven-night stay at a centrally-located hotel with an ocean-view room, hot breakfast daily and airport transfers. And all for the bargain price of $749.

Suburban Life

It didn’t take much convincing beyond that price tag.

Terceira turned out to be a seasoned traveler’s dream, as there were no crowds; it’s easy to get around on your own; and tours with guides were intimate experiences more akin to meeting up with a friend who offered to show you around town. The island offers an idyllic blend of culture, beauty, good food (cheap drinks) and Who knows? Maybe a friend planning to go on plenty to see and do, while the idea of hanging a solo yoga retreat decides she wants some out at a cute café all afternoon seems equally as company. Maybe, on a whim, I’ll decide it’s about time I saw the Grand Canyon, and I’ll book desirable as anything else. the next flight out. Maybe the family decides it’s I hope this issue inspires your next trip or – if time for a reunion, and reconnecting over cruise nothing else – motivates you to pull the trigger ship piña coladas and strawberry daiquiris the next time a great vacation deal or travel is how we’re going to do it. Or, just maybe, a opportunity pops up. last-minute, too good-to-pass-up travel deal will Happy travels, and thanks for reading! drop in my email, and I’ll be a couple of clicks away from a budget-friendly escape to a place I didn’t even know I wanted to go. Who knows? Actually, that last scenario is EXACTLY how I ended up in the virtually unknown Azores last May, which I also write about in “Unspoiled Azores,” on page 14.

Kara Silva, Editor

An eight-day Travelzoo deal to Portugal’s

Suburban Life Magazine Published by Shaw Media Phone: 630-368-1100

Director of Niche Publishing Laura Shaw Advertising Bill Korbel 630-427-6230 Editor Kara Silva 630-427-6209 Designer Allison McCaleb 815-526-4485 Correspondents Jonathan Bilyk, Kelsey O’Connor, Allison Horne, Shonda Dudlicek and Allison Manley

on the


The folks at Canadian-owned travel agency Flight Network consulted with travel agents, journalists and bloggers to compile this year’s definitive list of the world’s 50 best beaches. From the postcard perfect Anse Lazio beach in the Seychelles (cover shot) to the powdery white sands of Hyams Beach in Australia (pictured here), find out the top spots for sand and surf, on Page 8.

Suburban Life Magazine is available by subscription for $24 a year. If you would like each month’s edition mailed to your home, send payment information and address to Suburban Life Magazine, 7717 S. Route 31, Crystal Lake, IL 60014 or via email at

Photos provided by Flight Network 6 | MARCH 2018 | SUBURBAN LIFE MAGAZINE

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World’s 50 BEST BEACHES Travel agents, journalists and bloggers compile this year’s definitive list of top spots for sand and surf across the globe. By KELSEY O’CONNOR If you’re planning a tropical vacation, why settle for any old beach when you can visit one of the best? The folks at Flight Network – one of the largest Canadian-owned online travel agencies – consulted with travel agents, journalists and bloggers to compile this year’s definitive list of the world’s 50 best beaches. Beaches were scored on their remoteness, sand and water quality, annual days of sunshine, average annual temperatures, and – of course – their sheer untouched beauty. The result is a diverse collection of both world-renowned spots and hidden gems representing nearly every corner of the globe. Without further ado, here are the world’s 50 best beaches:

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1 Grace Bay, Turks and Caicos


The best beach in the world is less than a four-hour flight away. The legendary Grace Bay boasts remarkably clear and serene waters thanks to the colorful barrier reef that protects the shores from debris and large ocean swells. People come from all over the world to swim in the warm waters and luxuriate on the plush sands. A short boat ride will take visitors to the coral reef for an underwater adventure. Snorkelers can spot an array of wildlife, including stingrays, turtles and seahorses jetting about the reef. With roughly 319 days of sunshine a year, there’s never a bad time to visit Grace Bay.


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1. Grace Bay, Turks and Caicos 2. Whitehaven Beach, Australia 3. Anse Lazio, Seychelles 4. Pink Sands Beach, The Bahamas 5. Navagio Beach, Greece 6. Baia Dos Porcos, Brazil 7. Playa Paraiso, Mexico 8. Hyams Beach, Australia 9. Hidden Beach, Mexico 10. Trunk Bay, Virgin Islands 11. Maya Bay, Thailand 12. Pig Beach, The Bahamas 13. Blue Lagoon, Fiji 14. El Nido, Philippines 15. Muri Beach, Cook Islands 16. Salt Whistle Bay, St. Vincent & Grenadines 17. Half Moon Bay, Antigua 18. Lucky Bay, Australia 19. Flamenco Beach, Puerto Rico 20. Reynisfjara Beach, Iceland 21. Île aux Cerfs, Mauritius 22. Fulhadhoo Beach, Maldives 23. Vaeroy, Norway 24. Cayo Coco, Cuba 25. Seven Mile Beach, Cayman Islands 26. Anse Source d’Argent, Seychelles 27. Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda 28. Honokalani Beach, Maui, Hawaii, U.S. 29. Turquoise Bay, Australia 30. Elafonissi Beach, Greece 31. Champagne Beach, Vanuatu 32. Tunnels Beach, Kauai, Hawaii, U.S. 33. Kaputas Beach, Turkey 34. Dhigurah Island, Maldives 35. Île aux Nattes, Madagascar 36. Cala Goloritze, Italy 37. Los Roques, Venezuela 38. Long Beach, Canada 39. Grand Anse, Grenada 40. Boulders Beach, South Africa 41. Lanikai Beach, Oahu, Hawaii, U.S. 42. Cala Mitjana, Spain 43. Shoal Bay, Anguilla 44. One Foot Island, Cook Islands 45. Ao Nang, Thailand 46. Radhanagar Beach, India 47. Eagle Beach, Aruba 48. Ageeba Beach, Egypt 49. Diani Beach, Kenya 50. Cannon Beach, Oregon, U.S.

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5 Navagio Beach, Greece Nestled in a rocky cove on a remote island, this Greek oasis will dazzle any visitor who makes the trek. Also known as Shipwreck Beach, the first thing you’ll notice is the crumbling remains on a smuggler’s shipping vessel settled on the pristine shores. The stunning contrast of the ancient wreckage, soaring golden cliffs and aquamarine waters creates an enchanting atmosphere. Visitors can explore the ruins, lay on the warm shores or climb the surrounding cliffs for panoramic views of the beach and surrounding sea.

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You’ve probably seen plenty of photos from this Instagram-famous beach, but there’s nothing quite like seeing it in the flesh. Pig Beach is home to world-class diving, pristine sands and some very cute locals. Beachgoers will be greeted by a group of friendly, spotted pigs - the island’s sole inhabitants. They’ll happily swim alongside you as you explore the turquoise waters of this Caribbean paradise. As far as burdensome, longdistance traveling goes, this one’s an easy trip. It’ll take about four hours in the air and usually includes a quick layover. Once you’re there, the only way to access the island is via boat, adding to the beach’s peaceful, remote vibe.

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19 Flamenco Beach, Puerto Rico The top U.S. beach on the list, Flamenco Beach, has everything you could want in a seaside getaway. This secluded, crescent-shaped beach is located on the tiny island of Culebra. With a mile of silky sands wrapped around a sheltered bay, the shallow waters of Flamenco Beach are the perfect spot to swim, dive and snorkel. Float over untouched coral reefs, explore U.S. naval tanks left from the 1970s, or just sit back and enjoy the silky white sands with a piña colada in hand.

Downtown Wheaton is getting a new look for the spring and summer! Front Street is getting wider sidewalks, new street lamps, benches, trees and planters. Martin Memorial Plaza, relocating to the northside of Front Street, will feature café seating, a community fireplace and decorative fountain. Shops and restaurants are open during the entire transformation and there is plenty of parking. Get a sneak peek of the new streetscape by visiting SM-CL1500044

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28 Honokalani Beach, Maui, Hawaii, U.S. Tucked away within Wai‘anapanapa State Park, this volcanic beach is unlike any other in the world. The jet black sands, cerulean waters and lush greenery all combine to create an unbelievably stunning natural wonder. It’s comes as no surprise that the area is considered sacred by the Hawaiian people. The striking black sands were formed by lava flows that cooled and hardened, then eroded into tiny pieces by the pressure of thousands of years of ocean waves. Save time to explore the park surrounding the beach, which includes 122 acres of sea caves, blow holes, steep cliffs and Hawaii’s largest temple.

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Azores Considered the ‘Hawaii of the Atlantic,’ Europe’s bestkept secret beckons adventurers Story and photos by KARA SILVA


He can’t be serious. I glance at my friend for reassurance, but – instead – I’m met with the same panicked expression plastered across my own face. I don’t remember seeing THIS in the brochure! Do I resemble one of those happy helmeted tourists posing with my rent-a-bike in front of a sweeping pastoral setting on a sunny, 70-degree day? No – not quite. Instead, I’m a terrified tourist being whipped around by wind and rain, while on top of a mountain encased by fog. The perfect confluence of elements for some downhill mountain biking in the Azores. Slippery roads and zero visibility should make for a fun story when our breaks give out and we accidentally ride off a cliff à la “Thelma and Louise." There is only one way down the mountain, and


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since our tour guide Andre Jesus will not be able to namedrop his way into the good graces of the weather gods today, we saddle up. Within seconds of pedaling, I’m blown sideways and off of my bike. I guess a poncho operates more like a parachute under the wrong conditions. Lesson learned. We pedal on. Then we learn that cycling with some speed combats the wind, but it also makes attempting to stop a sure way to end up on the ground with a bruised ego – among other things. After a few near calamities with sharp turns on wet cobblestone, and – yes – my friend’s breaks did betray her as expected, but – on the bright side – instead of barreling off the side of a mountain, she almost got hit by a car instead. Once out of the clouds, we are finally met with sunny, near-70-degree weather, pastoral views of

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Our guide could have abandoned us at that point, but decided to stick around to chat the afternoon away over bread and wine (and cheese, of course). Yes, we broke bread and sipped wine with Jesus. Cycling in the Azores was one of many unexpected, yet welcome, adventures that I experienced during an eight-day stay on Terceira island – one of the larger islands in the Azores volcanic archipelago.

electric green patchwork reminiscent of Ireland, and ocean visibility from nearly every vantage point. After a half-day of cycling, our tour ends at Queijo Vaquinha – a local cheese factory that happens to also serve libations. Having completed the "perilous" two-wheeled adventure on tarmac, there was only one way to celebrate our survival: a block of cheese, carbs and a drink (or two).

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The Azores are a commercially untapped piece of Portugal situated in the North Atlantic Ocean, about 1,000 miles from mainland Europe. The nine islands that comprise the Azores are split up into three groups: the eastern (Sao Miguel and Santa Maria islands), central (Terceira, Graciosa, Sao Jorge, Pico and Faial islands), and western (Flores and Corvo islands). Travel industry heavy-hitters have called the still virtually unspoiled Azores islands the Hawaii of the Atlantic, Europe’s best-kept secret, the next big travel destination – I could go on. Until recently, the Azores islands remained TRAVEL

an uncharted territory – inaccessible for international tourism – but flights from hub cities, like Boston and London – are making it easier for travelers to get to Azores shores. Boasting flight times under five hours (leaving from Boston), Terceira island’s pristine landscapes and culturally-rich city center has yet to be affected by oversaturated tourism. Terceira, which is home to UNESCO World Heritage site and historic city center Angra do Heroísmo, is teeming with possibility for travelers of all types. It’s an adventurers paradise, a foolproof jumping-off point for those considering traveling outside of the U.S. for the first time, and a perfect trip for tourists on a budget. (As someone coming off of a trip to Southeast Asia – a budget-conscious backpacker’s paradise – this place was cheap! For example, a bottle of wine, two entrees, an appetizer and dessert at a restaurant that also boasts oceanfront dining cost us about 35 Euro – total!)

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"There is only one way down the mountain, and since our tour guide Andre Jesus will not be able to namedrop his way into the good graces of the weather gods today, we saddle up." – KARA SILVA -Continued from page 15 Locals are hospitable and welcoming. Many of the tour operators with whom I came in contact aimed to give travelers a more intimate experience of the island. The line between professional tour guide and friend was often blurred by our guides who – refreshingly – seemed to care more about getting to know us than maximizing profits or tour group sizes. Though scattered with beaches, the part of Terceira really worth delving into is its adventurous side. From ample hiking trails and ropes courses to whale watching and horseback riding, exploring the lush local flora of Terceira island is well-worth the effort it takes to get there.

For their stark contrast in terrain, we opted to hike Baías da Agualva and the Rocha do Chambre trails, which meander along the coast and through the interior of the island, respectively. Classified as easy, the 2.5-mile linear route of Baías da Agualva takes hikers along the north coast of the island, past cow farms encased by stone walls, lush emerald landscapes and peaceful meadows. It also offers consistent sea views and cliff overlooks. After two hours of being lured by the sea, why not go for a swim at nearby Piscina das Quatro Ribeiras. The bathing site consists of natural sea pools formed by volcanic rock fit with a maze of stairways for easy access. Given a “medium” classification, the 5.7-mile circular route of Rocha do Chambre trail is as diverse as it is beautiful. Flanked by Azores junipers, the trail sweeps through enchanted forests filled with Japanese Cedar woods, over wooden bridges and lava rocks, and through a valley before ascending a steep, rope-led “stairway” that takes you up to the trails highest point at 2,300 feet. There you’re met with unobstructed valley views, rolling hills and the mesmerizing vastness of the land before you.

A more easily accessible trail is Monte Brasil, which is walking distance from the island’s seaside city center – Angra do Heroismo. The remnants of an underwater eruption, Monte Brasil offers panoramic views of the historic city Hiking and its bay, as well as close encounters with the The seven vast and varied hiking trails of Terceira deer that call this volcano dome home. are extremely well-marked, so hiring a guide is completely unnecessary. Instead, use the money to rent a car for a couple of days or utilize the islands bus system to get you to the trailheads. 16 | MARCH 2018 | SUBURBAN LIFE MAGAZINE

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Canyoning I took it as a good sign when our canyoning adventure kicked off with the musical stylings of Creedence Clearwater Revival. The greatest hits album, I assume, because we listened to the classic rock band for the entire duration of the drive, from Angra do Heroismo in the south to Praia Vitoria in the northeast. Bald, bearded and tattooed, our guide was just the man you want for the job when you’re about to repel down cliff faces in the remote wilderness. Opting for the “Adventure” trail,

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Horseback riding Mónica Vieira, a transplant from Portuguese-speaking Mozambique in Africa, is the proprietor of Basalto Horse Experience. Slight, kind and soft-spoken, but with an unrelenting strength about her, Vieira’s passion for horses was calm yet palpable. Situated at the end of a long, winding dirt road, the farm is a magical place. A wound-up Jack Russell Terrier patrols the stables and the horses are treated like family. No horse-riding experience was necessary, and Vieira taught us the basics with patience and ease. We rode two pure white steeds, fit with refined Spanish saddles. The horses were docile and sweet, and the riding experience was intimate – just three people total. (For more information on Basalto Horse Experience, visit www.

Whale watching

the five-hour tour included hiking; climbing up, over and through boulder-littered streambeds (sore muscles guaranteed); repelling down innumerable canyons; and epic zip-lining over treetops. As we had grown accustomed to in Terceira, our tour guide treated us to a cool beverage at a local bar, which – of course – overlooked the ocean. (For more information, visit

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Situated in the migratory pathway of an estimated 27 species of whales and dolphins, the Azores are a prime location for Whale watching. The ocean activity is year-round, but the time of year that you visit will determine the species viewed. Many whale watching tours can combine with other oceanic adventures, for example tour outfitter Ocean Emotion offers packages that include responsible swimming with dolphins (they’re wild), sunset cruises, snorkeling and islet-hopping. (For more information, visit www.



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Desirable destinations Galápagos Islands, Iceland and Italy make the list of popular places to visit in 2018 | By ALLISON HORNE


ome people are happy to park their butt in the sand for a week and call it a vacation, while others consider a vacation as a time of discovery and exploration, from experiencing different cultures and site-seeing to scaling a mountainside and hiking in the woods. Either way, vacations are what you make them. Many current travel trends, including cruises, adventure travel and unique destinations, have people itching to use up that PTO. “People are kind of saying, ‘where haven’t I been? What else is there to do?’” says Peg Haskins, president of Viking Travel Service in Westmont. Maria Carbonara, owner of Old Town Travel in Bloomingdale, says clients are becoming more interested in visiting new places, rather than repeating a destination. “A lot of the customers I have are tired of doing the Mexico or the Caribbean, and they want to venture out,” says Carbonara. “They’re getting the courage to do longer trips to experience the other side of the world.” Many of the trendy destinations have been based on that ideology, with Iceland increasing in popularity due to its uniqueness, and Cuba becoming a popular spot due to its accessibility. “Iceland is very unique and very great for people who are outdoorsy,” says Andrea Sarno, agent at Skyline Travel in Downers Grove. “It’s a great place to send people with kids and introduce them to a European city. It’s very unique and like no other place I’ve ever been.” While some places maneuver in and out of being trendy, Italy continues to maintain its popularity among travelers.


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“Every year, people go back to Italy,” Haskins says, adding that people love the country because of its food, wine and culture. “It’s an automatic.” All-inclusive trips are a popular way to travel for many people who don’t want to worry about what they’re spending. “The planning is all done for you and you’re not constantly watching or keeping tabs on how many drinks you had,” Carbonara says.

“Don’t wait until you’re retired to travel. Do it now. … Everybody works entirely too hard. You need to take a moment to do something you want to do and relax.” – Brian Shields, owner of Skyline Travel in Downers Grove

Cruises and warm-weather destinations tend to be popular all-inclusive options, but a new kind of cruise has been growing exponentially: river cruising. “People can unpack once, stay in multiple countries, travel up close to the cities they’re visiting and just be immersed in the destination,” Haskins says. “It seems like once people do one river, they certainly enjoy it and try a different one.” While the Rhine and Danube in Europe tend to be TRAVEL

the most popular cruises, Haskins notes that other river cruises all over the world, like the Yangtze River in China and the Mekong River in Cambodia, are more unique options. Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection has even launched “U by Uniworld,” a new spin on cruises with activities and boats catered to millennials. “[Uniworld is] catering to more of the under-45 age group,” Haskins says. “They’re doing more adventure-type excursions, yoga and experiential types of travel.” But river cruises aren’t the only trip focused on activities. Donna Greenwald, owner of Hinsdale Travel, says many of her clients pick destinations based on the kinds of activities they want to do. “For adventure, we have families traveling to the Galápagos Islands to see giant tortoises, penguins and sea lions,” Greenwald says. “Costa Rica is another adventurous destination with its rainforests and volcanoes. It’s good for hiking, zip lining and some beach activities.” Greenwald says she is currently working on a culinary-based trip to Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina, with stops at Paula Deen’s restaurant The Lady and Sons, as well as a dessert-sampling tour. No matter your interests or budget, there are plenty of places out there just waiting to be explored and enjoyed. “Don’t wait until you’re retired to travel,” says Brian Shields, owner of Skyline Travel. “Do it now. If you love hiking, find somewhere to go hiking. If you like beaches and sunsets, pick a place to go. “Everybody works entirely too hard. You need to take a moment to do something you want to do and relax.”

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FIRST-CLASS fashions Attire fit for planes, trains and automobiles


| By SHONDA DUDLICEK ired of looking like a tourist when you travel? Here are some fashionable, yet simple, tips to dressing better during transit and when reaching your final destination, too:

Sisterhood of the traveling jeans “The No. 1 travel jean is pull-on jeans from Liverpool,” says Jill Card, owner of Jeans and a Cute Top Shop in Wheaton, St. Charles and Downers Grove. “JAG jeans are great, too. They’re not mom jeans; they fit beautifully.” Liverpool ponte-knit pants are a good alternative, with their higher rise, she adds. Substantial leggings that are not too thin will cost more, but will hold their shape better. Jeans by Dear John are another great option when traveling, says Natalie Zysko, owner of Enzee Boutique in Elmhurst. “These affordable and right-on-trend jeans are perfect for traveling because they have 2 percent Spandex,” says Zysko. Spandex tends to help jeans hold their shape. “I will not travel with jeans that I constantly have to pull up,” Zysko says. “One, it doesn’t look good and, second, I have a purse and a carry-on in my hands. I don’t have time for that.”

“Jean jackets are on trend,” Zysko says. “I recommend adding this jacket to your staple wardrobe. This season, we are seeing jean jackets with ruffles and flare sleeves. The choice is yours – trendy or staple. We have them both.”

Have to mention the unmentionables What unmentionables should you pack? Card and Zysko have suggestions. “This is where it all starts, ladies!” Zysko says. “You cannot look put-together without the right undergarments. It all starts with smoothing the bumps out so the fabric lays and flows nicely with your body. I recommend Spanx of any sorts.” Card says that the Ruby Ribbon line of camisoles eliminates the need for a bra and is ideal for larger cup sizes. “If you sleep on a plane or in a car, they’re super comfortable,” Card says. For a more formal look, try a cami from Spanx, Zysko says, adding that C’est Moi reversible camisoles alternate from a V-neck to a scoop.

Neutralize the color palette

Regardless of the destination, everyone needs a cover-up. Card and Zysko agree that a jean jacket is a great start.

“I tend to keep my wardrobe staples neutral in color and then bring in pops of color that best complement my skin tone,” Zysko says. “I would recommend finding your skin tone first and go from there. Determine if you are cool, neutral or warm. Once you have that information, you can then find a pop of color that complements it.”

“You’ve got to have a great jacket on dresses and pants – a sweater works, too,” Card says.

When choosing an outfit, it helps to start with something you love and go from there.

Layering is important when flying, because you don’t have any control over the temperature.

“… Start with an inspiration piece in a floral pattern or a stripe,” says Card. “Something that’s ‘me’ – your favorite. What’s that go-to in your closet that brings you joy? Grab that.”

Cover it up, buttercup

“Whenever I travel, it’s necessary to have a sweater for the plane,” Zysko says. “I prefer a sweater that gives me flexibility in look and in comfort. I actually call this sweater my ‘airplane sweater.’ I love it because it’s lightweight, has a drape and can act as a blanket.” If a sweater isn’t your style, opt for a jean jacket.

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Card suggests adding a scarf that pulls everything together. And remember, you’re on vacation, Zysko says. “You are there to let loose, relax and have fun,” she says. “Keep it simple and just be you.” FASHION & BEAUTY


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OUTODOOR OASIS How to go from bland and blah to backyard bliss | By ALLISON HORNE


backyard doesn’t have to be a chunk of grass you dread cutting or a place for the neighborhood rabbits to wreak havoc. Rather, it can become an extension of your home and turned into usable living space.

living rooms,” says Bob Hursthouse, president and CEO of Hursthouse Landscape Architects and Contractors in Bolingbrook. “We’re taking all the great things that we enjoy inside, like hanging out in the family room and kitchen, and bringing them outside.”

Some of the design aspects that are sought after to create outdoor living and entertaining spaces are kitchens with built-in grills and smokers, and Many homeowners are turning to local landscape islands with seating and other vertical accents, like pergolas or frames and posts. designers to create a beautiful living space just steps out the back door. “There are so many things we can design to make your yard exciting,” says Tom Papais, “What we’re really doing is designing outdoor president and owner of Rose Landscape Design in Darien. Hammock groves are a trend that has risen in popularity for families. “From fire and water Photo courtesy of Bruss Landscaping. to lighting, it’s all a must if you want to be outside.” While the majority of outdoor living spaces feature kitchens, eating areas and living spaces (often with televisions and speakers), other cool 20 | MARCH 2018 | SUBURBAN LIFE MAGAZINE

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features can be added to make a space unique. One of the most popular trends has been fire features, while water or pond features have been on the decline. Fire features can range from wood burning to natural gas and propane, and include fire pits, fireplaces, fire bowls and even accents on tables. While ponds were more popular 10 years ago, they have declined in popularity due to maintenance. Water features, like bubbling stones or a recirculating fountain, can provide the relaxing sounds of a water feature but without any hassle. For those looking for a big impact with a minimal budget, lighting can make all of the difference. “Lighting is hands-down one of the most popular aspects in landscape, residentially, these days,” says Eric D. Bruss, president of Wheaton-based Bruss Landscaping. Lighting requires little to no maintenance, and it’s only a one-time investment up front, Bruss adds. Most systems are now LED with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, which means that lighting can be adjusted and you can alter the ambience by touching a button. “Lighting is an absolute must if you’re going to be

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AFTER Photo courtesy of Hursthouse Landscape Architects and Contractors BEFORE

Since 1895


630•668•0947 | SM-CL1504475

outside,” Papais says. “Lighting makes it very inviting to be outside, and low-voltage LED lighting just draws you out there.” Bruss says another cool (and extremely unique) trend that has risen in popularity recently for families is hammock groves. His company sources large trees, removes the bark, and seals them before putting them in the ground, and then hammocks are added to create a seating area for groups of people. Transforming your backyard into a usable livable space can be beneficial in more ways than one. “I think it’s a relatively affordable way to create more useful living space on your property without having to add an addition onto your home,” Papais says. Many homeowners can break even or even add value to their homes with a backyard renovation, Bruss notes, adding that it’s a “win-win” because homeowners can enjoy the space while they live there, but also can increase the value of their property. “You really have to think about it as an investment,” Hursthouse says. “Curb-appeal and outdoor living space are a big deal.” “You only live once and quality of life is very important,” Bruss says. “We’re all realistic, and it’s a phenomenal investment.”

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Bruss agrees.



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Out Of

Africa World-class wines from the Western Cape | With Mike & Cyndi Allas


was fortunate to be invited on a recent trip highlighting the wines of the Western Cape of South Africa. The Western Cape is home to an extremely diverse topography, which lends itself to a wide range of micro and macroclimates that are greatly influenced by the numerous mountain ranges, rivers and, of course, the undeniable influence of the Atlantic and Indian oceans.

Chenin blanc is still the grape that is most widely grown, as it’s often used to make Brandy, but the varietal has been adapted by winemakers to create some quality chenin blanc wines.

Pinotage is the other grape that is closely associated with the South African wine industry. Pinotage was created in 1925 by Abraham Izak Perold — the first professor of Viticulture at the University of Stellenbosch With so many geographical influences, it’s not hard to see why in South Africa. The cross of cinsaut and pinot noir was developed to make the climate is so diverse — ranging from a Mediterranean a heartier grape than that of just a pinot noir. It is still readily available climate in the Southern parts of the country to arid areas farther inland. in South Africa, but it is an inconsistent varietal and is often used as a There are six major growing types of soil throughout the world — all six of blending grape. which are found in the Western Cape. All of this diversity adds up to some Sauvignon blanc and sparkling wine may be among my favorite wines serious, world-class wines at value prices … for now. being produced in the region, but excellent merlot, Though wine has been produced in the Western Cape since the 17th century, it is considered a “New World” wine region. The Cape saw some early success when European leaders had their cellars stocked with wines from the first wineries in Constantia. But, unfortunately, wine in the region fell on hard times when an increased focus on profit and production replaced quality and sustainability. Luckily, in the past 20 years, there has been an insurgence in the wine industry prompted by a large number of young winemakers using a combination of “Old World” techniques and new technologies. This new group of winemakers is embracing the wines that have served as staples in the South African wine industry.


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There are six major growing types of soil throughout the world — all six of which are found in the Western Cape. All of this diversity adds up to some serious, worldclass wines at value prices … for now. — Mike Allas


cabernet, shiraz, pinot noir and chardonnay also are being produced. I even got to taste some good examples of the pinotage grape. Wine tourism has become big business in the Western Cape and with good reason. Many of the Cape wineries boast world-class accommodations, fine-dining restaurants and gourmet pairings in beautiful settings with mountain backdrops and ocean views. We even spent time in the nicest winery that I’ve ever seen. Top-of-the-line winemaking equipment, and they even had chandeliers in the fermentation room. Most importantly, the host and hostesses who guided our group were gracious. Their knowledge, expertise and

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passion were above and beyond anything I have ever experienced. If you can handle the long flight to get to South Africa, the wine, the scenery and the people just can’t be beat. Though you may not yet see a specified South Africa section in your local wine shop, it’s well worth seeking out wines from the country now. Due to an extreme drought in the region, production will go down, and prices will go up, so now is the time to buy and try these wines.

Mike & Cyndi own Tannins Wine Bar in Elmhurst. With over 50 years combined experience in the hospitality industry their approach to wine is relaxed, uncomplicated and always drink what you enjoy!


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Suburban Superdad:

Considering a road trip with the kids? It’s not as bad as it sounds, and gas is (relatively) cheap. | By JONATHAN BILYK


rom my earliest memories, flying has always held its grip on my imagination.

Growing up in the northwest suburbs, the ability to watch a big silver bird’s wing, with its dull roar overhead and the sun glinting off its frame, always made me wonder where it was going and marvel at the technology that allowed something like that to soar so effortlessly. As a kid growing up in the lower middle class, I was born to parents with several mouths to feed and feet to shod. So, the opportunity to actually fly anywhere remained an elusive dream. While family vacations still happened every summer, they involved a van full of kids and a road trip somewhere in the U.S. – usually Pure Michigan (And, before that, “Yes! Michigan.” Illinoisans of a certain age will get that reference.) – but sometimes to points significantly more distant, including Maine, Montana and the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Then, one day, I grew up. I earned some money, and – with excitement – bought my first airline tickets, plunging headlong into the cattle call of the modern international airport. Certainly, there’s something to be said for the time-saving convenience (for lack of a better word) of air travel. Leave your home in the western ’burbs and be somewhere on the West Coast in a few hours? Nice. However, there’s not a thing I would trade for the road trips I’ve taken with my wife and our two kids, chewing up the pavement between our flatlands and the Pacific Ocean en route to Oregon and Washington, and, most recently, to southern California. 24 | MARCH 2018 | SUBURBAN LIFE MAGAZINE

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I know for many, the only vacation nightmare more horrifying than the thought of being stuck in an airport or on an airliner with screaming kids, is to be stuck in a car with them for dozens more hours.

atop Oregon’s Mt. Hood, a chilly dip at Cannon Beach amid the quirkiness of Portland, and up the coast to Seattle and Olympic National Park – about as far as you can drive and still be in the U.S.

But you know those electronic pacifiers (i.e. smartphones) that work so well in airports and airplanes? They also work in your car, too! And, in my experience, the most incredible thing eventually happens – they will eventually, and voluntarily, set the devices aside, and – amid fleeting periods of sweet sleep – even begin to talk with you.

(More real talk: Visit Olympic National Park before you die. Just do it. You’re welcome.)

Shocking, I know. A couple of years ago, we were somewhere in Utah, when my eldest first set down her screen and began to look around. Beginning with a low, “Whoaaa” from the backseat, amid a setting of soaring red rocks amplifying the hues of a mid-summer sunset. She and I had a long talk stretching over a few hundred miles about geology, biology, evolution, humanity, civilization and American history.

This summer, no matter where you decide to go, try to give the kids something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. For all the epic scenery on tap in so many places in the U.S., it’s the moments of serenity that stir the soul. Take that road trip you’ve been daydreaming about. It’s worth those moments when the kids fall asleep in the backseat, and leave you to your thoughts as the miles roll by; or, even better, when they’re so inspired by something outside the window that they can’t help but ask questions; or so bored, that talking to good ol’ pop seems exciting (beggars can’t be choosers).

It’s a big reason why, today, even with two kids, it’s still the open road that calls my name. Or, actually, it may be the toddler in the backseat I think she emerged from the chat generally more likely, because it would be awfully weird unscathed, and perhaps even a bit enlightened for the road to call me “daddy” and ask to go to by a few coherent nuggets of knowledge gleaned the bathroom. Again. from the recesses of my memory of high school  Jonathan Bilyk writes and college courses, and more than a few about the triumphs National Geographic magazines. and travails of being a

(Real talk, though: If you ever get the chance, drive through Utah. Sure, it’s mostly empty, and, culturally, it’s still Utah – but even YOU would appreciate the sheer movie-set quality of such geological eye-candy.) From there, our epic trip – fueled by $2-a-gallon gasoline, even more gallons of caffeine and bags of apples, pretzels, cheese puffs and popcorn – took us, eventually, to a summer snowball fight FAMILY IN FOCUS

modern-day dad who legitimately enjoys time with his family, while tolerating a dog that seems to adore him. He also doesn’t really like the moniker “Superdad” because it makes it sound like he wants to wear his undergarments on the outside of his pants. (Also, the cape remains on back order.)

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Book Nook


Finding an interesting travel guide or travel memoir is pretty easy. Visit your local bookstore or library, find the travel section, and pick from hundreds of wellwritten books on the subject. But what about books that aren’t traditional travel stories? If you have the travel bug but you’re tired of reading the same old books, check out these nontraditional travel reads.

 ‘THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10’ By Ruth Ware “The Woman in Cabin 10” is an addictive thriller about Lo, a travel writer who lands a highstatus assignment onboard an extremely luxurious cruise ship. A brief interaction with the woman in cabin 10 seems innocent enough, until – shortly after Lo’s trip begins – she witnesses the woman falling to her death into the sea. Or that’s what she thinks she sees. As Lo puts her investigative journalism skills to work, the tension in the story slowly but steadily builds. The missing woman and her death moves “The Woman in Cabin 10” forward, but Lo’s personal life creates its own kind of drama, adding to her confusion while onboard the ship. Even though the story is set in the present, the affluent characters and the lavish cruise ship setting give the book an exquisite 1940s Agatha Christie quality. Ruth Ware shows that the art of the murdermystery is far from dead in this original and engrossing novel.  ‘‘LOVECRAFT COUNTRY’ By Matt Ruff

Allison Manley was born in Georgia and raised in Island Lake. She graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in creative writing. She loves opera, craft beer, and (of course!) reading.

“Lovecraft Country” is a novel about three African-American families living in Chicago in the 1950s. It’s also about mysterious centuries-old cults, Lovecraftian monsters and ghosts, and the horror of the Jim Crow laws in the U.S. Atticus Turner’s trip from Florida to Chicago spurs an adventure that ends up involving his closest loved ones, modern-day alchemy and his own family’s history.

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While the whole book centers around Atticus’s cult-leading ancestors, each chapter could be its own standalone story, since each one features a new creature, ghost or terror. Characters make peace with the ghosts living in a haunted house; mysterious potions and spells change (and hurt) the protagonists and their enemies; and wormholes take characters to secret, dark places that shouldn’t be visited. Ultimately, “Lovecraft Country” shows that humans are just as capable of being monsters as the creatures you find in horror stories. But the novel does this by letting you see how the main characters cope with and defeat the monstrosities that are trying to hurt them.  ‘‘ASTROPHYSICS FOR PEOPLE IN A HURRY’ By Neil deGrasse Tyson While space travel isn’t accessible like travel is on Earth, Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry” comes close to emulating the experience of traveling through the cosmos. Tyson concisely explains all the esoteric astrophysics terminology with jokes that only he can pull off. His effortless humor (and his ability to make the science behind the cosmos understandable) make this set of essays readable and enjoyable. Some of the essays focus on the solar system and beyond, but others travel down to the atomic level and describe the physics that makes the universe work. And even though these concepts may seem dull to people who don’t work for NASA, Tyson puts the science in context and answers the question, “What does this have to do with me?” A sassy and engaging collection, “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry” is a unique must-read for science fans and newbies alike.


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TRAVEL EXPERT RICK STEVES PRESENTS ‘TRAVEL AS A POLITICAL ACT’ WHEN: 4:30 p.m. Friday, March 2 (book signing at 3:30 p.m.) WHERE: Elmhurst College, Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel, 190 S. Prospect, Elmhurst Travel expert Rick Steves, best known as the host of the PBS television series “Rick Steves’ Europe” and the author of several guidebooks, will present “Travel as a Political Act,” part of the Roland Quest Lecture Series at Elmhurst College. Steves will talk about the transformational power of travel during his slideshow lecture which draws on lessons he has learned while exploring Europe, Central America, Asia and the Middle East. There will be a book signing at 3:30 p.m. General admission is $10. For tickets or more information, call 630-617-5186 or visit www. BEER AND CHEESE SOCIAL WHEN: 4 p.m. Saturday, March 10 WHERE: Alter Brewing Company, 2300 Wisconsin Ave., Downers Grove Alter Brewing Company will pair its brews with a selection of cheeses from The Great American Cheese Collection in Chicago. Tickets cost $35 and include a commemorative glass, as well as unlimited tastings of cheese and beer. For more information, call 630-541-9558 or visit www. ELMHURST’S 22ND ANNUAL ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE WHEN: Noon Saturday, March 10 WHERE: Spring Road, Elmhurst The Elmhurst St. Patrick’s Day parade will feature floats, marching bands, Irish dancers, animated characters, and local organizations, businesses and clubs. The parade will begin at the intersection of Wilson Street and Spring Road, and continue north on Spring Road in Elmhurst. The parade is only the beginning of the festive day, as food, music and fun will continue at local businesses and restaurants. Admission is free. For more information, visit


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WILDER MANSION BRIDAL SHOW WHEN: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, March 18 WHERE: Wilder Mansion, 211 S. Prospect Ave., Elmhurst Guests at The Wilder Mansion Bridal Show will taste and sip decadent offerings from preferred caterers, get exclusive deals and individual consultations from wedding vendors, and sample salon styling from professionals. From stationery vendors and make-up artists to fine art photographers and designer wedding gowns, there is something for every style and budget. Admission is free. For more information, visit SAINT PATRICK’S DAY BRUNCH WHEN: 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, March 18 WHERE: Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace Experience the luck of the Irish during Drury Lane’s St. Patrick’s Day brunch. The regular brunch menu will feature traditional Irish fare, such as shepherd’s pie and corned beef and cabbage, as well as specialty drinks, such as Irish Manhattans, Guinness and Irish coffee. Face painting and coloring will be available for kids. The cost is $40 for adults; $16 for children ages 6 to 12; and $10 for children ages 3 to 5. Call 630-530-8300 or visit www. for more information. CONTEMPLATIVE ARTS OPEN STUDIO WHEN: 1 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, March 22 WHERE: Tau Center, 26W171 Roosevelt Road, Wheaton Explore your spiritual creativity in a warm and nurturing environment during the Contemplative Arts Open Studio. Work individually while exploring your intuitive nature through art, whether it be painting,


collage, drawing, mandalas or mixed media. There is no instruction provided during these sessions, but it is facilitated by Sharon Devo. Each session will begin with a guided meditation with time for two hours of creative work. Basic art supplies and journals are provided, but attendees are encouraged to bring supplies, as well. The cost is $20 for early registration and $25 if registering seven days or less prior to class. For more information, visit FLASHLIGHT EGG HUNT WHEN: 7:45 p.m. Friday, March 23 WHERE: McCollum Park, 6801 Main St., Downers Grove Attendees should bring a flashlight and basket to the McCollum Park ballfields, where they can search for candy-stuffed eggs by moonlight. The hunt starts at 7:45 p.m. Arriving early is recommended. The registration deadline is March 20. No registration will be taken on site. The cost to participate is $8 for residents and $12 for nonresidents. For more information, visit www. or call 630-960-7500. WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH LECTURE: ‘HOW WOMEN HELPED BUILD CHICAGO’ WHEN: 3 to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 25 WHERE: Cantigny Park, 1S151 Winfield Road, Wheaton In honor of Women’s History Month, McCormick House Programs and Educational Assistant Laurie Russell will describe how Chicago Women responded at critical moments in the city’s history and thus shaped the city. This program in the museum’s historic Freedom Hall is suitable for adults and teens. The event is free with parking ($5). Registration is required. For more information, call 630-260-8162 or visit

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Olive ‘n Vinnie’s

Taste before you buy

Our aged balsamic comes from Modena, Italy, and the olive oils are imported from 15 countries. Voted the Best Retail Business in 2017

OPENING MID MARCH Olive ‘n Vinnie’s UPTOWN! 484 N. Main St. Glen Ellyn NEXT TO PAUL’S SHOES

449 N. Main Street Glen Ellyn 60137 630-534-6457

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SL Mag March 2018  
SL Mag March 2018