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Randolph Street Market - Tastemakers Choice for CHARITY

UPDATE: Here are the five pieces that I chose.

I love antiques (seriously, I regularly dream about old silver found in dusty rooms...anyone want to analyze that?) but I do not like antique shopping. I'm less about the hunt and more about the finished product, which is why I DO like going to the Randolph Street Market. It's absolutely huge, with hundreds of vendors displaying high-quality wares from a wide range of eras. No tramping around in countless tiny shops necessary.

This weekend is the 4th annual Editors and Designers Choice for Charity, and I'm delighted to participate again. Early on Saturday morning I'll tour the market, choose five of my favorite items, and designate them with a blue ribbon. For every "blue ribbon" item that's purchased, the Randolph Street Market makes a donation to charity. I've again chosen the Junior League of Chicago as my charity, and many other wonderful organizations will benefit, as well. Won't you join us for a little bit of shopping this weekend?



MOVING! City to Suburbs, with home renovation ahead


UPDATE: Found lots of cool tile and flooring on my visit to Floor & Decor!

After much deliberation, driving around, and wistful sighing, we've decided to move out of the city.

I know! I can't believe it, either. Yes, our current place is great, but living on the third floor in a hipster enclave doesn't lend itself well to life with a toddler. We seriously considered several other city neighborhoods, but finally realized that for what we want, Mr. SCS could commute either 30 minutes on the L or 30 minutes on Metra, where we could have more space and less crime and— you know what? I can't even listen to myself anymore. I've sold out for a lawn and fresh air.

Anyway. While I'm decidedly torn about this major life decision, I am sort of excited/dreading the home renovation projects in our future. Excited because it's fun to be creative, dreading because there's always the debate about hiring a pro versus DIY. So, I'm really happy to be teaming up with ChicagonistaLIVE again, this time for a segment called "Creating an Atmosphere of Ease and Comfort in your Home" at the Floor & Decor showroom in Skokie.

sourceI wasn't previously familiar with Floor & Decor, but have since learned that they have an enormous selection of ceramic, stone, tile, wood, and laminate flooring, as well as various tools and accessories, sourced directly from manufacturers around the world. In addition to the Skokie location, they have stores in Aurora, Arlington Heights and Lombard, plus 40 more around the country.

Are you in need of some renovation tips, too? Follow #ChicagonistaLIVE this Tuesday September 14 from 2-3pm CDT. You can also watch live at http://www.ChicagonistaLIVE.com



School Days with Gardner School & ChicagonistaLive

UPDATE: See pics from our second visit and watch the ChicagonistaLIVE video here!

It seems unfathomable that I'll soon add "find a preschool" to my list of to-dos. Little Miss is not yet a year old, but as any city-dwelling parent knows (even a newbie like me), the competition for spots can be fierce.

A newer option on the scene is The Gardner School. With locations in Bucktown, the West Loop, (plus Naperville, Glenview, and Oakbrook — and more around the country) this academically-focused daycare and preschool was founded in Tennessee, and accommodates ages 6 weeks to 5 years.

I recently spent an afternoon at the Oakbrook location, as a guest of the ChicagonistaLIVE crew. It's an adorable school. A-dorable. (And amazingly, I was told that the newer ones are "even nicer.") The corridors are sweetly decorated like an idyllic Main Street, USA drag, and classrooms are airy and cheerful. I spent the most time in the "crawler" room, which was filled with stimulating toys to taste play with.


Having fun in the baby room with tasty toys.


Another view of the crawler room. The school has an open-door policy with parents and encourages moms and dads to stop by during the day for a quick visit, or to make use of the peaceful nursing room. Closed-circuit TVs monitoring the rooms can be viewed in the lobby, and make goodbyes a little less stressful for parents.


Preschoolers wear these uniforms — how cute (and they make mornings easier).


Happy artwork throughout the school.


Learning begins with the littlest ones exploring American Sign Language, and continues with the big kids learning math, handwriting, and computer skills.

We'll be visiting the Oakbrook Gardner School next week, this time for ChicagonistaLIVE on Tuesday, May 20th at 2pm CDT at ChicagonistaLIVE.com. Follow along at #ChicagonistaLive and #GardnerChi. If you'd like to attend the taping, there are limited spaces available for readers with children aged 6 weeks to 5 years. Please RSVP to MJ Tam.



{travel} Four LONDON Faves

If you look closely, you can spot Mr. SCS!It's no secret that traveling during "shoulder seasons" (i.e. spring and fall) is a great deal — airfare is lower, crowds are thinner, and if it's May or September, the weather in most parts of the world is still agreeable. In fact, it's my favorite time of year for travel. Staying home for Chicago's fantastic summers is enough to desuade me from traveling during high season, never mind battling the crowds of fellow travelers at the Louvre/Machu Picchu/Taj Mahal/etc.

If you aren't beholden to school schedules and are looking for a quick getaway this autumn, I highly recommend a quick trip to London. Last September, Mr. SCS and I tacked a few days in Blighty onto a longer trip to Paris and the South of France, and we relished the warm temperatures and short lines. A few of my London must-dos...


Department Stores

Skip Harrod's. Ok, don't skip it if it's your first trip, but limit yourself to just the Food Halls in the basement level. Sure, Harrod's is huge, and it's got everything, but you'll soon see that it's mostly a tourist trap. Instead, consider your stateside shopping habits — if you're a fan of Barneys, visit Selfridges for a British take on all things edgy. If Neiman Marcus is your stomping ground, you might like luxe Harvey Nichols (Harvey Nix!). And if you want to shop as the old-timers do, a visit to Fortnum & Mason's carefully curated shop in Piccadilly is study in all things properly British.



Takeaway culture (that's "carry out" to us Yanks) is huge in cities throughout the UK, and London has a staggering variety of cuisines that can be purchased on the fly and eaten at your favorite park. If you're stuck for inspriation, consult a list of London takeaway restaurants, available in any local travel magazine. You may have to come to terms with England's culinary vocabulary (Gyro : US :: Doner kebab : UK), but you'll soon get the hang of it.


Tea Time

Tea a la Fortnum & MasonFor a more proper mealtime, do an Afternoon Tea (but first, read about the difference between "High Tea" and "Afternoon Tea"). The aforementioned Fortnum & Mason serves a traditional tea complete with armchairs, prim china, and fussy sandwiches. If your dining companion isn't into the itty-bitty food, they do have a more robust high tea menu. For a modern take on tea, try the "Brit Rocks and Tea Pots" at The Met Bar at the Metropolitan Hotel. With modern food pairings and cheeky presentations, this isn't your mum's tea.


See the Sights

For a visual who's-who of both ancient and modern British culture (dead kings! punk rockers!), visit the National Portrait Gallery. For characters of a less celebrated sort, stop at the northeast corner of Hyde Park on a Sunday morning for Speakers' Corner to hear pontifications on everything from taxation to alien invasions. One visit is enough. I went twice, ten years apart, and the grandstanding and soapboxing was much the same on both occasions. If it's serentiy you seek, take a trip to Kew Gardens, the Royal bontanic gardens. The structures are lovely, the flowers are fragrant, and in no time you'll forget that you're just outside one of the world's busiest cities. And if you happen to be in London during the few short weeks that Buckingham Palace is open to the public...go! You don't need to be a royal-watcher to get weak in the knees when standing before Queen Elizabeth's throne.


Father's Day Gift Guide

Men are so impossible to shop for! While we women (read: me) are happy to receive a pretty bauble or the latest "it" bag, the boys present all sorts of challenges. Does he really want another book or team jersey? Whiskey rocks or cufflinks made from old subway tokens? If you're stuck, I've compiled a few suggestions to get the creative juices/credit cards moving.


It's true — even the manliest of men like to be pampered! Whether or not yours will go to a spa is debatable, so bring the spa to him with this Daniel Buchler 'Hydro' Turkish Terry Cotton Robe and Agraria Balsam Luxury Bath Bar.


The Culinaire likes to whip things up in the kitchen, so give him a new challenge with a Molecular Mixology Kit. Post dinner, test his knowledge with Foodie Fight: A Trivia Game for Serious Food Lovers.


The New Dad is no doubt blurry eyed and perhaps slightly frustrated, so give him a laugh reprieve with Bill Cosby, Himself. 30 years later, Bill's tales of parenthood still hold up. Speaking of holding, do NOT make your man carry the baby's gear in some hideous Winnie-the-Pooh bag. This Jack Spade Waxwear Pocket Briefcase pulls double duty as a baby bag and work bag.



Pose, smile, click! If Dad loves to capture the world around him, capture his coffee in a clever Camera Lens Mug. Over coffee, he can brush up on his technique with Tony Northrup's DSLR Book: How to Create Stunning Digital Photography.

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