Week #49 – Winter Bazaar Benefiting Red Door Animal Shelter

My friend and co-worker Erica (who took our adorable photos with George) told me about the Winter Bazaar that she was exhibiting at, and I knew I wanted to go. I love craft shows! Better yet? Proceeds from the Bazaar went to Red Door Animal Shelter in West Rodgers Park.

I drove over to Warren Park, located in the same area, and was surprised by how big the green space was. When I looked on the Park District’s website, I noticed there is ice skating here when it gets cold, along with many other activities year-round.

I walked into the gymnasium, and it was such a sight to see. Vendors selling their work–everything from knitted items to beauty products to stationary to art and so much more. Dogs dressed up for the holidays. Photos with Santa! A cookie walk, in which you pay by the pound for fresh, homemade cookies. You definitely couldn’t be bored here, that’s for sure.

Erica and her friends Kristen (http://www.etsy.com/shop/tinyseabeast), Emily, and Emma (http://www.etsy.com/shop/ClawedMeownet) were the first booth when you walked in (prime real estate!). Erica and I walked around to see the vendor offerings, and I did a little shopping.

First, I purchased some cards from a woman who sold cards with French Bulldogs on them! Then, I met Gretta of Gretta’s Goats and fell in love with her story and her products. She has dozens of goats up in Grayslake, Illinois, (but she was moving just after the show) and makes these delicious smelling soaps that are handmade from goat’s milk that are raised in organic pastures. On her website, you can meet all of her goats, see the different soap scents, and purchase her soap. She also visits a lot of local farmer’s markets (check her Facebook page to learn more). Family: don’t be surprised if you receive this wonderful soap as a Christmas present!

I ended my visit at Erica and her friends’ booth, where I picked out some of Erica’s beautiful and fun cards, and purchased one of Kristen’s pretty cowls (magenta!).

Keep an eye out for the Winter Bazaar next year, and be sure to take a look at the vendors’ sites. It’s so nice to shop events like this because you’re not only supporting the animals (which is important!), but also local small business owners, too.

Red Door Animal Shelter
2410 West Lunt Ave.
West Rodgers Park

Warren Park
6601 North Western Ave.
West Rodgers Park





Week #48 – Spotlight: Christmas Event at Walnut Grove Farm

Three and a half hours southwest of Chicago you will find yourself in the quaint town of Knoxville, Illinois. This is where Walnut Grove Farm is. This is my husband’s family’s farm, where he grew up. This is where we were married. This farm has become such a part of my life, and although I’ve been here before, I am going to share it with you anyway. 🙂

This weekend is Walnut Grove Farm’s annual Christmas Event, the perfect place to get you in the spirit of the season. At the event, you can find decorative items like wreaths and swags to make your home festive–courtesy of my mother-in-law Jan and her good friend Ruby–as well as more than 20 local artisans to buy unique and extraordinary goods from.

Here are just some of the offerings at this year’s event:

  • Artwork
  • Candy
  • Children’s books
  • Crocheted hats, headbands, and more
  • Jewelry
  • Ornaments and garland
  • Pottery
  • Photography
  • Vintage
  • Woodworking
  • Wreaths, swags, and centerpiece arrangements

Need more reason to come out? We’re running a food drive, as well as asking for donations for those affected by the tornado in Washington, Illinois.

If you live nearby, stop by and enjoy the work and stories of the artisans. Get a candy cane from St. Nick (Do you recognize him? It’s Rich!), go on a carriage ride, taste Laura’s delicious food (yesterday I had goulash–yum!), and get in the holiday mood.

PS: Remember, today is Small Business Saturday, so whether you’re able to make it to the barn or not, support your local community.

We hope to see you this weekend!

Saturday: 10-4 pm
Sunday: 11-3 pm

Walnut Grove Farm
Christmas Event
1455 Knox Station Road
Knoxville, IL

20131129-215410.jpgMeet Jan and Ruby, and check out some of their designs. See St. Nick too!

20131129-215416.jpgDon’t miss the Vintage Broad and her eye-catching displays (not to mention her cool finds and creations!).

20131129-215423.jpgSee the barn and some handmade crafts by Nate’s Grandmother and Aunt!

20131129-215429.jpgTaste Pam Madden’s candy, buy one of Vintage Chic Crochet’s hats, and take home one of Chris Dokolasa’s ceramic pottery pieces.

Week #7 – Rare Tea Cellar

If I have to choose tea or coffee, nine times out of 10 I’ll choose tea. Why? I’ve been drinking tea since I was a little girl. (Not sure if that’s healthy or not, but I think I turned out okay…) My mom is a big tea drinker, and she would always make us black Lipton tea with sugar or honey and half-and-half. Nowadays, I’ve gone mostly herbal, with my favorites being chamomile, rooibos, ginger (which I’m drinking as I type), and green tea.

My co-worker and friend Ellen recently emailed me about a charity event at the Rare Tea Cellar for The Night Ministry, an organization (that offers housing and healthcare to those in need) that she’s very involved in. Here was her description of the event:

“Rare Tea Cellar supplies tea and fancy-shmancy ingredients (hello, truffle flavor pearls and bourbon smoked black pepper) to restaurants like Graham Elliot, Alinea, and Girl & the Goat, and they’re opening up their warehouse to us for a shopping night. There are going to be samples of their ingredients and teas, plus appetizers and cocktails by Adam Segar (Lettuce Entertain You mixologist and creator of Hum).”

Um, how could I say no to this one? I asked Nate to come with, and he happily agreed. (Sorry, ladies, my husband IS the best.) When my co-worker and friend Erin, who I recently flew to NYC with, said she wanted to go to, I was looking forward to it even more.

So the date of the event arrives and Mother Nature decides to throw a sloppy, slushy mess all over the city, but I wasn’t going to stop me. (I even told Nate he could drop me off at the Brown line and I’d go alone, but he still came with—and drove. Sorry again, ladies, he’s all mine.)

We pulled up to row of warehouses, and I could see the teas on the shelves in the warehouse through the window. Already getting excited! We checked in to get our wristbands and immediately found Erin and Ellen. Erin came with us to get drinks (warning: shopping while drinking is dangerous!), and we all decided to get the blood orange punch with Templeton Rye. Yum. They also had hot herbal teas they were using to make their versions of Hot Toddies. Oooh.

This warehouse is a feast for your senses. Exotic teas to look at. Science-looking contraptions to distill the teas. And they let us smell so many things! Some sweet, some sour, some let left you with a strange look on your face. The warehouse has an amazing inventory (think watermelon powder and balls of  vintage floral tea) of rare finds from around the globe and a really knowledgeable staff to help make sense of it all. Erin and I walked around, taste testing different items stocked in the warehouse. We started simple with bourbon-infused sugar (sweet, but smoky), moved our way to citron vinegar (sour but citrusy delicous with a bite at the end), and caramel flavor pearls (consistency of tapioca beads that explode with sweet flavor). I also tried the warm gingerbread rooibos tea, which was the perfect ending to my successful taste test.

We ended up bringing home the bourbon-infused sugar and some strange tea called Pu’erh. The sales person explained that it is a dark tea from China. It looked so different, I had to give it a try. (Will follow up when I brew it!) ** Note: A portion of the proceeds from all purchases went directly to The Night Ministry!

I was so glad Nate (who thoroughly enjoyed the Radiohead playing all night) and I could attend such a unique event for such a good cause. Thanks for inviting me, Ellen!

Note: You can buy Rare Tea Cellar’s goods from around the world on their website. Visit now!

Rare Tea Cellar
3701 North Ravenswood Avenue, #101
North Center

Learn more about The Night Ministry at www.TheNightMinistry.org.

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