Where’s My Freakin’ Fan? It’s HOT!

Roof Top Pergola Fan

I yearn for summer all year long, but it doesn’t mean that when it arrives, I need to suffer like a fool. I want to live outdoors AND be comfortable.

If this resonates with you, then holla! Cuz you can beat the heat in your outdoor space with these 2 cool options (pun intended!)

We use two types of fans – either oscillating or ceiling fans. The best option depends on what kind of structure you have to attach them to. Ceiling fans need a beam or ceiling (i.e., something horizontal). Oscillating fans can be mounted to an horizontal or vertical surface – particularly if you do not want to take up space with a stand.

The key to choosing the best fan is finding one that is wet-rated NOT damp-rated. Damp-rated means it cannot get wet but can be in outdoor areas like a screened in porch with a solid roof. Wet-rated fans can live outdoors even when it rains. It’s like the coat label that says it’s waterproof versus water resistant. You’re looking for waterproof.

There are many different options once you start Googling for an outdoor oscillating fan. You’ll need to look at size, speeds, material, and rotation capability. Try to find the quietest one you can but know there will be fan noise. Most are plug ins so unless you hire contractors (like us) or an electrician to help hide the cord, you’ll need to be okay with seeing it.

For ceiling fans, we tend to choose ones from Modern Forms. These require more assembly and an electrician or contractor (us) to install. But it is well worth it!


This is a fancy term for a system that provides cooling without wetness. It’s called TurboCool. It “uses hi-pressure pumps and an unique air delivery system to cool the air with micro-droplets. This allows for complete evaporation, so you can place tables as close as three to five feet from the port without having to worry about excess moisture.

The ideal solution for restaurants and patios [and residences], these innovative cooling systems will drop temperatures 10 to 20 degrees.”

These systems do require a professional contractor (us) or electrician to install as well as having a strategic mounting location(s). 

(This company does partner with StruXure with whom we are certified installers. Click here for more info.)

So don’t suffer like a fool outdoors! Get connected with us so that you can live  beautifully outdoors! While it will never be like sitting in air-conditioning, it will be WAAAAAYYYYY more fun and relaxing to be outside.

From one cool cat to another,

Sara J-S

A Taste of Travel At Home

If you were a fly on our wall at our house you’d see that our Netflix and Hulu ques are filled with food shows like Action Bronson’s F*ck, That’s Delicious and Padma Lakshimi’s Taste the Nation. These shows were proceeded by anything Anthony Bourdain (RIP) created, as well as one of our favorite Minnesotans, Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods. It’s the combination of travel and food (and, okay, the social commentary) that are two of our favorite things.

Almost 2 years ago, Craig and I joined our friends at their family resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Our friend Erik, who shares our passion for travel and food, is always looking for the next adventure. He suggested we spend the afternoon at Flora Farms and take a field to table cooking class. Tapping both our loves, it was an automatic yes.

Just northeast of Cabo “Flora Farms is a 25 acre organic working farm in the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. Home to Flora’s Field Kitchen, The Farm Bar, Flora Farms Grocery and Flora Farms Celebrations. The farm is also home to the Shoppes at Flora Farms, the Culinary Cottages & The Haylofts, . . . , as well as The Farm Spa, an intimate spa and wellness experience achieved through nature-based spa services, in a supremely peaceful setting.” (Erik conveniently left out that there was a spa, but that’s for another discussion.)

For all us Chicagoans, it’s a fun fact that Flora Farm’s Chef Guillermo Tellez has a strong connection to Chicago. He graduated from Kendall College, as well as, worked with Charlie Trotter. (For the full history, see the website.)


After our chef for the class welcomed us, we got right to work learning proper chopping techniques and explanations about the correct tools to use. Who knew cutting onions could be that simple or that the stem of cilantro is as good as the leaves?!? And, now I know what a molcajete is! (It’s the stone mortar and pestle.)

It didn’t take long before we had prepared two new guacamole recipes (rosemary and charred habanero), a pico de gallo recipe, and were feasting on an excessive amount of fresh tortilla chips accompanied by their Farmarita cocktail.

Next came the tour of the farm. I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s a commonly know fact among our friends that we are like kids in a candy shop when we’re on a farm or in a garden. We identify every plant out loud as we walk around. (I also have a bad habit of pulling weeds wherever we go too.)

There were limes, cacti, turnips, amaranth, mangoes, hibiscus. Warm climates are amazing!

If you didn’t know this, now you do: we have a “weed” that grows in Chicago that is actually something the farm grows on purpose. It’s called PURSLANE. It tastes great – try it!
Image: Wide Open Eats – https://www.wideopeneats.com/health-benefits-of-purslane/

Utilizing a lot of their property for their food production, some areas look like a traditional vegetable garden while others look like show gardens that grow produce. Some of their harvest is for sale (below image) while much is used in the kitchen.

No instruction worth it’s salt in Mexico would be complete without learning how to make our own corn tortillas. Deceivingly simple. With practice I see how it becomes second nature to grind, need, press, and cook.

Once the tortillas were completed, and honestly our bellies quite full, our meal was served. We had some of the most delicious Baja Fish tacos and Taco Slaw followed by Key Lime pie. Yummmmm.

I fell in love with two recipes we made, so I’m sharing them with you. It’s all about having the taste of travel at home, especially as you are able to relax in your very own garden. 

If you try either of the recipes, let us know how you liked them.


– Sara + Craig J-S

For Flora Farms’ Rosemary Guacamole and the Farmita cocktail, click here.

Our Winner Is . . .

Topiarius Outdoor Stimulus Package Incentive

Congratulations to Tammy W. of Chicago!

Initially she was skeptical about the confirmation email.

We said, “This is real!”

And, just like that, Tammy won the $6,000 grand prize package!

The Summer In Luxury Give Away items were delivered last week by Topiarius. And, it was fun!

Summer In Luxury $6,000 Give Away was awarded in July 2020. Topiarius was the main sponsor, supported by these fabulous partners: Bradley Terrace Outdoor FurnishingsMammagreenChicago Grill Company, Nightlight, Inc.Farmhouse restaurant groupOur Days Photo and Film, and Chicago Bourbon blog.

Free Summer Planting Plan

Summer Annuals Free Planting Plan

It’s that time of year when it feels really good to get your hands dirty planting a container of beautiful summer annuals. (Summer officially starts today!)

Browsing through a garden center and walking among all the annuals can be inspiring, but it can also be a bit overwhelming. So, that’s why Topiarius is providing you with a free planting plan! You can enjoy the beauty AND know exactly what you need to buy.

This plan is for a 4′ x 16″ planter, but the quantities can be modified to fit another size container. We L-O-V-E our plantings to be lush instantaneously so we make sure to have enough plant material on-hand. Additionally, these plants do best in part sun/part shade.

Sketch by Abe Kelly.

A few tips for planting: 

  • Make sure your container has drainage holes.
  • Use potting soil (not Chicago clay soil).
  • Compact the soil a bit before and while planting so that after a few days the roots aren’t exposed as the soil has settled. 
  • Remember to water immediately after planting then regularly.
  • For more information about these annuals visit Missouri Botanic Garden’s Plant Finder – it’s one of our favorite resources.

If you need more inspiration, you can see our other designs on our Pinterest board. 

And, if you love the idea of a summer annual planting, but have no time nor interest in doing the planting . . . give us a ring. We’re happy and eager to help. 

Photo Credits:  
A: https://susajja.com/ficus-black-prince-rubber-plant-burgundy/
B: https://www.devonpondplants.co.uk/product/lysimachia-nummularia-aurea/ 
C: gardenanswers.com
D: https://shop.romencegardens.com/coleus-solenostemon-hybrida-electric-lime-p215.aspxE: https://shopugc.com/annual-flats/