Changed For The Better

Because we know the multitudinously talented Julie Chernoff – our Editor In Chief – we’re changed for the better too.

Julie Chernoff and Matthew Hunter sang a beautiful rendition of Wicked’s “For Good” at a Cabaret benefitting the Evanston Dance Ensemble. Matthew Hunter teaches Music at King Literary and Fine Arts School and Chute Middle School in Evanston, IL. Read his full bio here: 

The performance:

The Best Burger: Organic, Locally Sourced & At a Locally-Owned Restaurant

The best burger ever –no hyperbole–is within strolling distance of our home at Nick’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill in Wilmette.

It’s also made from locally-sourced, organically-fed beef. The leftovers are composted and given to local school gardens too.  So you don’t have to feel bad if you can’t finish your meal, since nothing from their kitchens will go to waste.

Perhaps best of all, it’s named after my handsome husband.

That’s 6 wins – for taste, location, health, ownership, giving back and name.


Proud Mama Moments

Sons Nick and John Noyes

Please allow me a few proud mama moments.

Married to great woman – check
MBA and Masters in Real Estate from Cornell – check
Good job offers – check

My work is truly done for this one, right?

21 years old today
Junior at Cornell
Thoughtful of all others

Proud and happy that my work isn’t done with this one!

The mom moments are still the best ones in life.

True Stories Of Imperfect People = Strong Families

Above photo courtesy of the New York Times article.

The first thing Nick Noyes — who was to become my husband and the father of our six kids — said to me was, “Do you know how to make refried beans?” Those were also the only words he spoke directly to me that day, even though we were together for at least another 10 hours with a small group of friends. It was an inelegant start to our relationship.

Our children love and frequently repeat that story, in part because it reminds them that one doesn’t have to be suave to find true love. But also because it is just so typical of their dad at the start of any new relationship. He’s a shy and sometimes awkward guy. But his still waters run deep enough to have nurtured a large and loving family.

Our kids also relish our tradition of telling embarrassing stories about the celebrant at family birthday dinners. It’s your party — we lovingly lampoon you. But, we don’t forget to mention the achievements — athletic, academic, social, whatever — either. We love your strengths as well as your weaknesses.

These stories have become the bedrock of strong, loving Noyes family ties. Do something stupid?  That’s okay, we still love you. Do something great? We still love you too. Nobody’s perfect – particularly us. We have our ups and downs. We will always be there for each other though.

Bruce Feiler’s “This Life” column in today’s New York Times, titled “The Stories That Bind Us Help Children Face Challenges,” explains that this type of family narrative and tradition — which recognize good times and bad — builds stronger kids.

Feiler concludes, “The bottom line: if you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family’s positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones. That act alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive for may generations to come.”

Read more here.

The Wedding Toast

Noelle & Nick Noyes, trying to catch a few bites of dinner during the glorious Field Museum reception.

Nick & Noelle,

May your marriage be forever blessed.

May your love grow stronger through bad times and good.

May your life together make others better.

And may your circle of family and friends continue to grow – with others just as beloved and wonderful as those celebrating with you tonight.

Groomsmen during the Saint Michael’s service & good sport Jonah Balfe asleep on his dad’s shoulder

Father Jack Wall’s service was perfect – God is love and this union is heaven sent.

Sevon Kalpakjian - United Airlines cockpit before returning home.

Sevon Kalpakjian – United Airlines cockpit before returning home.

Point of Pride

Point of Greatest Pride

My family – Nick the elder, Nick the younger ( and soon to be married), Pat, James, Skatie, John, Emma, my mother and me

How could my pride in this beautiful family be a deadly sin? This is the best part of my life!

My mom, Virginia Blankenbaker – mother of 5, highly effective state senator and strong, compassionate woman – is a fantastic role model.

Happy Boxing Day and best wishes for many returns of the day to you and your family too.

Tortoise Club Sure to be a Dining Destination Soon!

Thank you Debby & Ned Jannotta for treating my husband & me to a wonderful party and sneak preview dinner at the Tortoise Club last night!

Ned Jannotta, Becky Knight, Debby Jannotta, Megan Addington, Anne Reyes, me, a lovely lady from Libertyville (if you know her name, please send it) and Annemie Graham

The Tortoise Club restaurant is opening next Monday at 350 North State Street.  The website is

Layers of Chicago history surround and decorate this new restaurant – including artwork commissioned with the assistance of the Chicago History Museum to celebrate iconic figures from Chicago’s history. The atmosphere is already iconic. We felt comfortable and important – perfect for dining out. The menu matched – important classics (like oysters & fabulously seasoned shrimp) meet comfort food (short ribs, mac n cheese). And for fun – their signature drink, the Tipsy Tortoise.

This will quickly become the hot, new but iconic, dining destination.

Recommended: Email your reservations request now through!

A Waterfall and A Woman

Taughannock Falls State Park, NY

Taughannock Falls State Park, beside Lake Cayuga, outside Ithaca, New York, where I will soon be hiking with my husband.

“A strong man and a waterfall always channel their own path.” (Unknown)

“A strong woman always channels the wisest path for herself and others.” (Susan B. Noyes)

If Wilmette is the New Highwood, the Chop House is a Less Expensive Carlos

Nick and I decided to explore the new downtown Wilmette restaurant scene for a date night dinner out tonight. There are so many new restaurants, our hometown is starting to feel like Highwood.

There are a LOT of new restaurants! The Big Black Dog Tavern just opened on the corner of Wilmette & Central. And The Noodle Small Plates and Market opened on 12th Street. This of course is hard on the heels of a new Thai restaurant too.

But we wanted a quiet and more romantic atmosphere, so we chose The Chop House:

Savory foods, hot bread, Frank Sinatra, attentive service, good wines. Yes! And Yum!

If Wilmette is the the new Highwood – with at least one restaurant on every block – then the Chop House is a less expensive Carlos. We give it 4 stars out of 5. And we will be back soon.