It’s furniture! It’s food! It’s wine! It’s Restoration Hardware – Chicago!

Okay, I’ll admit it, after three visits inside and innumerable strolls past the building, I am still having at difficult time nailing down exactly how to explain Chicago’s Restoration Hardware.

The Windy City’s branch of the California-based company’s high home furnishings store takes up all four floors — and the roof – of the 100-year-old former residence hall for young female artists. It is the only RH — there are 86 galleries and outlets nationwide — that has a restaurant and visitors are welcome to wander throughout displays of bedrooms, bath areas, living rooms, dining rooms and modern furniture sipping wine or beer.

Restoration Hardware – Chicago, located in the city’s trendy Gold Coast neighborhood, quickly became a favorite end-of-day destination for Chiclet and I.

On warm evenings, there may be no better place to relax and soak up the view than RH’s rooftop garden.

Even better? It’s dog-friendly.

So much so that the very friendly valet’s out front keep a stash of doggy treats for all passing pups, and make sure to have tiny, Chihuahua-appropriate goodies for Chiclet’s buddy Lil Bean, who has become somewhat of a celebrity at the place, not to mention a favorite among the staff there.

The valets at dog-friendly Restoration Hardware – Chicago always have treats on hand for four-legged guests.

Bean and her person Julie took Chiclet and I into RH several times while we were in Chicago visiting them recently and it quickly became one of our favorite destinations.

After spending a few minutes with those wonderful valets, in we’d go and head straight to the 3 Arts Club Pantry & Espresso Bar where we could select from a small, but impressive list of international wines and craft beer. From there, we could head out to the galleries on the floors above. The Pantry & Espresso Bar also offers coffees, juices, sodas and fresh-baked pastries. The wines there are not exactly inexpensive — I paid $14 for a glass of very, very good Malbec. But they are in line with prices of table wines at most other area restaurants. The beer averages around $6 a bottle.

Lil Bean & Julie are fans of Restoration Hardware – Chicago and Bean has quickly become a favorite among guests and staff.

On the bed & bath level Chiclet had a wonderful time trying out the different beds as a sort of small, bewhiskered Goldilocks.

THIS one is just right…

In the living space gallery we came across two students sitting on one of the couches, sipping coffee, surrounded by books and their laptops set on a table in front of them.

“It beats studying in Starbucks,” one of them said.

Back on the first level we retired to the 3 Arts Wine Club & Tasting Room featuring gold vaulted ceilings and the original brick floors. All four of us could just relax on leather sofas and soak up the atmosphere.

Well, Julie and I relaxed.

Chiclet spent a great deal of time exploring her immediate surroundings, casting longing eyes at a nearby indoor fountain.

So much for a tiny dog to see at Restoration Hardware – Chicago!

But it’s Lil Bean who really shines in the Wine Vault. The tiniest social butterfly ever, she charmed staff and patrons alike with her dancing antics as just about everyone who saw her pulled out smartphones to snap photos. I can only imagine on how many social media pages this former shelter dog now appears.

We didn’t get the chance to try the 3 Arts Club Cafe adjacent to the Wine Vault, but according to the website, it offers a  “menu inspired by Northern California and Mediterranean cuisine featuring seasonal, ingredient-driven dishes. Guests may choose to dine in the Grand Courtyard, a light-filled, all-season oasis featuring a restored historic fountain and Heritage olive trees, or anywhere else in the gallery.”

Yeah, I’ll be checking that out next time we’re in Chicago. And maybe with a little more on site research, I can figure out exactly how to categorize RH Chicago – Eatery? Bar? Furniture gallery? Does it even matter?

In all honesty, when it’s that good and dog-friendly, I’m not sure it does.

Ahhhh…. how sweet it is at Restoration Hardware – Chicago.

Restoration Hardware Chicago is located at 1300 N. Dearborn Parkway, Chicago, IL 60610. It’s open Monday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Sunday: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Valet parking available. (312) 475-9116 or online at




A cautionary travel tale/tail

When it comes to international travel Chiclet and I recently learned never underestimate the importance of paperwork.

To back up a bit, this year my tiny traveling buddy and I were invited to spend Thanksgiving in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood with our good friends Julie and her tiny chihuahua Lil Bean.

Neither one of us had ever been to Chicago — or, if Chiclet has, she’s not talking about it — so we immediately got to work looking for the best deal on flights which turned out to be out of the Quebec City airport.

No strangers to international travel, Chiclet and I left Maine and headed to Canada with our bags packed and US Passport (mine) and necessary health certificates (Chiclet’s) safely stowed therein.

Chiclet knows passing through security is a part of air travel. With a tiny dog, it means going through inspection outside of her travel case.

More about our time in dog-friendly Chicago in future posts, other than to say it was incredible and we had a blast.

But, all good things must end. So it was we boarded a plane in Chicago for our return trip to Quebec City, by way of Montreal.

And that’s where things quickly went awry.

I’ve flown through Montreal numerous times, albeit never with a tiny dog, but was fairly confident I knew how to navigate my way through customs and on to my next gate.

Ahhh… traveler’s hubris.

After walking what felt like miles, customs’ declaration card clutched in my sweaty hand, Chiclet and I arrived at the familiar Canadian Customs and Border Protection area and headed toward one of the lines leading to an agent.

Before we could get in line, a CBP agent directed us down a corridor leading away from the custom’s area and into a smaller CBP room. As we waited in that line — after being assured this was where we had to be in order to get to our connecting flight — I scoped out the agents on duty and sent up a silent prayer we would not get the only one looking like he was having the worst day ever.

Of course that is exactly who we ended up in front of. I handed over my declaration card and passport. He looked the documents over, looked at me, glowered and asked, “why did you check ‘no’ on your declaration about bringing in animals?’

I was stumped. Animals? I wasn’t bringing in any animals, and politely said so.

He looked at me, looked at my documents and asked, “It says here you are traveling with a dog.”

Oh! Chiclet! “But, she’s not an animal,” I said. “She’s my pet.”

Honest to God, I thought the agent was going to pass out he started laughing so hard. All grumpiness gone, he literally wiped his eyes, looked at me and said, “You are not leaving here until you explain to me how a dog is not an animal.”

Okay, he had me there. But in my defense, when I had checked that box I honestly thought it referred to livestock, not domestic pets. Certainly, had one of the Rusty Metal Farm chickens been along, I would have indicated that.

Still laughing, the agent scribbled something on my card in red, handed it back to me and pointed me down another corridor. I could hear him laughing as I walked away.

At the end of that corridor was a set of three uncomfortably looking long lines of people leading to three different agents. Joining one of the queues, I did notice it was going fairly quickly as people handed over their declaration forms and were sent on their way to their gates.

We had about an hour left until our next flight, so I was feeling pretty good about things until our turn came and the agent took my card, looked at it and pointed toward the doors that read, “Secondary Inspection Area.”

In we went and were met by CBP Agent Bouchard who took us to her station, asked for the declaration card and my passport and requested to see Chiclet’s paperwork which included her vaccination records and health certificate.

No problem. I opened my carry-on bag, reached for the documents I always keep there and… nothing. Laughing a bit self-consciously, I opened the bag wider, dug deeper and still came up empty. Maybe I had tucked it in Chiclet’s travel case? Nope.

And then it hit me. The previous evening, while packing, the folder that contained my travel receipts and other paperwork from the trip had gone into my checked bag, whereabouts at that exact moment, unknown. In that folder — and thus also in the checked bag — were all of Chiclet’s records.

Panic would not be overstating my state of mind at that precise moment.

Agent Bouchard, who, by the way could not have been nicer, said all I had to do was go get my suitcase, retrieve the documents and all would be well.

“But it’s on the way to Quebec City,” I said. “It’s checked all the way through.”

Agent Bouchard consulted her computer and told me that no, the bag was not checked through that I had to claim it, take it through customs and then re-check it. I was now very confused as I had been assured in Chicago that would not be necessary.

Nevertheless, Agent Bouchard escorted me through several “official entry only” doors to the baggage claim area. Chiclet, meanwhile, was left in the secondary inspection area no doubt wondering if I was being arrested for an international incident and who she should call for bail money.

At the baggage claim my luggage was nowhere to be seen. While I was searching, I asked Agent Bouchard, worst-case scenario if I could not find it, what would happen.

After reassuring me for what must have been the 100th time that A) I still had plenty of time to catch my flight and B) it would all work out as the forms could be faxed from my veterinarian, we headed back empty-handed to the inspection area, where I asked if there was a phone I could use to call my vet, as I had no cell service in Quebec and I knew the vet’s office was closing in like 10 minutes.

She told me to hang tight and stay put and off she went, returning about 10 minutes later with my suitcase which had ended up in the wrong luggage area.

At that point it was a quick matter to snag the folder from my bag, locate Chiclet’s records, hand them over and while Agent Bouchard looked them over,  pick up all the receipts and other papers that had fallen onto the floor.


Within minutes we were on our way to recheck my bag and pass through one, final level of airport security and to our gate with about 15 minutes to spare.

I don’t think Dante had it as tough navigating the rings of hell.

Chiclet travel tip: Per a brilliant suggestion from our good friend Kim — a pretty savvy traveler herself — all of Chiclet’s travel documents are going to be re-scanned & printed to passport size and tucked in with my US passport. From that point on, they will always be packed together!




























Petit chien dans la belle province: Le Bonne Entente

There’s a lot to love about Canada’s “la belle Province” of Quebec. It has great cycling, an exciting wine scene, food options galore and more than a little European panache.

But as far as Chiclet is concerned, the best reason to hop over the border is to spend a night or two at Le Bonne Entente in Quebec City.

The  five-star boutique hotel in the middle of a residential area just outside the city has quickly become her favorite place to cool her paws. I mean, how much more dog-friendly does a place get than the friendly staff at the pool asking if your tiny dog wants sliced lemon in her dish of water? (Shout-out to Bonne Entente poolside bartender Etienne for making the offer after we joked with him about the dogs liking our fruit-infused water better than the plain water we had for them. And he seriously would have done it.)

That was during our most recent stay when Chiclet and I were joined by her tiny buddy Lil Bean — a rescue Chihuahua — and her person and my longtime friend Julie for a complete gals’ weekend. It was heaven. With room service.

As dog-friendly lodgings go, canines pretty much have the run of the place. They are not allowed in the hotel’s restaurant or right at the pool, must be leashed at all times but that’s about it. Julie and I had no issue with Chiclet and Lil Bean accompanying us to the bar for an afternoon appetizer nosh (for us). There is a lovely lawn area right next to the pool for dogs and their people where the dogs, Julie and I were able to lounge adjacent to the pool area and while one of us watched the dogs, the other could take a dip in the pool or relax in the hot tub. Drinks — for both humans and canines — can be ordered at the poolside bar and are delivered right to your lounge chair.

Chiclet and I have stayed there enough that we are recognized on sight by the staff – who have dubbed her “Moustachey” thanks to her whiskers — and she is the life of the party each time we are there. Once the entire Laval University football team and alumni were holding their annual get-together at Le Bonne Entente and let me just say, you have not lived until you have seen a room full of large current and ex-football players fawn all over a dog that weighs the same as the pigskin. She has delighted the staff with her antics leaping from bed to bed in the room and “carpet slithering” through the lobby on her belly.

And outdoor garden area and pond is perfect for walking dogs and for enjoying a late afternoon snack or cocktail.

Lil Bean, with her extensive tiny dog wardrobe, quickly became a hit in her own right, charming everyone she met. At one point Julie and I were enjoying evening cocktails and munchies in the special Urbania Lounge when another patron came in with his Goldendoodle. Julie quickly went back to our room, collected our two little dogs and we finished out the evening the company of dogs and dog-friendly folks.

According to Stephanie Poitras, Le Bonne Entente sales development director, opening the doors to dogs is an important part of the hotel’s package.

“It’s important for us to welcome every member of the family,” Poitras said. “It definately makes a big difference to our guests because they do not have to stress about [their pets] when they travel and they know we are going to welcome them with pleasure.”

They even offer access to a pet-walking service if your plans take you away from your dog for the day. And forget your special “poo” bags? Fear not, the reception staff has specially customized bags and containers for doggies on the go.

During our gals’ weekend, Julie and I rarely left the dogs alone. We did take an hour or so to indulge in pedicures at the hotel’s spa and for a couple of meals — most notably Sunday Brunch and the unending crepe bar with sweet and savory offerings from fresh veggies to the chocolate fountain. We also ate at the property’s MC Lounge and outdoor Napa Grill.

Eggs Benedict INSIDE a crepe? An culinary masterpiece!
Sweet or Savory, breakfast is always served with a smile.
The chocolate fountain… what more can be said???

We also took advantage of a shuttle to go into Old Quebec for an afternoon of walking cobblestones, drinking coffee outside a cafe, shopping and soaking up the city’s very Parisian atmosphere.

Our shuttle took us directly to our destination in Old Quebec.

The hotel’s location in the suburb of St. Foy is not super handy if one wants to explore the Old City, but Le Bonne Entente does offer those shuttles for the 20-minute drive into the heart of Old Quebec. Concierge Christine Gingras will take all the time you need to organize a customized day trip. It is, however, very handy if you’re flying in or out of the city as it’s about 10 minutes from the airport. It’s not the most inexpensive option in the area. Rooms start at $189.00/night and can go as high as $389/night in the signature “Urbania” suite (which does offer access to a private lounge stocked with an open bar and gourmet quality munchies) but the current exchange rate favoring the US dollar does soften the blow.

Chiclet could care less, but there is free wi-fi throughout the hotel and probably the comfiest beds outside my own I have ever slept upon — something she does care about.

Comfort AND room service – what more could a tiny dog need?

The hotel also charges a cleaning fee if there are pets in the room.

The bottom line, the only reason Chiclet does not give Le Bonne Entente five paws up is she only has four paws to give.

Lil Bean Concurs, adding the only thing that could have made it better would be tiny dog robes. Hmmmm…. maybe next time?

All booking and related information is on the hotel’s bilingual website at or by calling 418-653-5221 1-800-463-4390  

The sun, the moon & a tiny dog

Sometimes the best trips are a just a short walk from the house. And Chiclet is always ready for a walk regardless of distance.

This was the week, of course, of the solar eclipse — the first one in more than a century to cut a large swath of totality across the USA. Sadly, northern Maine and Rusty Metal Farm were hundreds of miles north of any view of totality, but that was not going to stop us from taking in any and all of the astronomical event that we could.

Some quick online research indicated we were going to get about 53 percent of the eclipse — a phenomona when the moon passes between the sun and earth casting a shadow in, in some locations, completely blocking the sun for a brief period of time.

I figured half an eclipse is better than none. Plus, I’ve read Stephen King’s Delores Claiborne, I know what can happen in Maine during a full eclipse.

Nefarious literary dark activities aside, Chiclet and I were excited to view the event. Well, truth be told, I think her excitement was more about watching me pack things up for a short hike to our farm pond, which turned out to be the best viewing spot on the farm.

I do have a fairly good camera and zoom lens, but no safety glasses or filters for safely viewing the sun. However, I do have an old welder’s helmet with glass rated for sun-viewing, so we added that, along with a tripod, to our eclipse-viewing bag and off we went. To give it more of an eclipse party air, we took some — what else? — dark beer and soda water, plus a towel in case we wanted to take a dip in the pond while we waited.

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At the pond, we set up and waited until the moon began taking what looked like bites out of the sun. It was fascinating. Well, it was to me. Chiclet was a very good sport about the whole thing. For awhile she chased frogs at the pond’s edge. Then she discovered some raspberry bushes and picked herself a snack. For a bit she nosed around a pile of discarded lumber and then came to sit next to me the entire time I photographed the celestial event.


That’s what good travel dogs do – they explore within the limits given them, but make sure to return to whatever base you’ve established to check out what’s going on and make sure all is well.

I had worried a bit about some articles I’d read about animals looking up into the eclipse and damaging their eyes. By the time that was of any concern here, Chiclet had fallen asleep. I’d like to say she was exhausted by the eclipse excitement. I fear the reality is she had gotten straight bored.

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Either way, we had a really fun afternoon with our mini staycation here on the farm with a terrific show complements of Mother Nature. We’re already planning the party for 2024 eclipse when Rusty Metal Farm will be in the path of totality.

Chiclet gives the notion of finding fun and adventure in your own backyard a five biscuit rating.