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Winter gear storage SOLUTIONS for your HALLWAY

Even during a relatively mild Chicago winter, there is still the inevitable cache of winter gear to wrangle this time of year. If not managed, scarves, gloves and hats can turn a once pristine entryway into a soggy mess. But there's no need to stash all your winter gear in a plastic bin in the closet. Keep it handy in your entryway--and stylishly contained--with these 10 bins, furnishings, hooks and racks.


 Vintage steel furniture purveyor Twenty Gauge  is a great source for sturdy, industrial storage solutions (among other one-of-a-kind finds), including these basket lockers, which doubles as a entry-way console.  I’m smitten with Brooklyn-based Wintercheck Factory’s clever home goods and apparel, including this Arthur Coat Rack, which provides storage for shoes, hats, gloves (not to mention phone, keys and the like).
From Z Gallerie -- a cute, inexpensive solution for stashing wet umbrellas.

I’ve long been a fan of Jill Rosenwald’s pottery. On a entryway table, this large Ikat bee bowl is a pretty vessel for gloves, keys and other small items.


An alternative to the boot tray, these Inside Out concrete tiles by Toma (check out the brand’s other winter gear storage solutions) will stylishly protect your floor from wet boots.

The best part of these Dove Stacking Baskets by andries & hiroko van onck for magis (available at Unica Home)? Roll them into the closet (if you really must).


Stilleben Wall Hooks in punchy colors are cheerful enough to adorn your wall sans winter wear.

This Ribbon Coat Rack from Headsprung is an elegant solution for hanging coats and scarves. When the weather turns warm, it makes for a chic wall sculpture.

For a more affordable bench-storage option, opt for Target’s ikat-patterned bench.

Known for practical basics with minimalist style, Muji makes containers like this tin bucket that can store your goods without breaking the bank.


Interior Decorating and Design by Christine Sisson
Part of the Second City Soiree Contributor Series. Christine is on Twitter @WordsOnStyle. Read her full bio here.


Winter BRUNCH tips from my WGN segment

Do you feel like hibernating this time of year? I know, me too. Instead of hiding under the duvet and dreaming of summer, carpe frigus diem and have a few friends over for a cozy winter brunch.

Last week I shared recipe, decor, and drink tips for just such a soiree on WGN's "Midday Fix"...watch it at WGNtv.com and then invite your friends in from out of the cold!


Your own patch of GREEN: How to make a TERRARIUM

Winter always gets me a bit stir crazy, so this year, I made my own little tropical paradise in a terrarium. These little gardens are only limited by your imagination, and are very easy to create and maintain!

To start, you'll need a container. Take a look around the house and see if you happen to have any glass vessels like an old vase, pitcher, brandy snifter or punch bowl. There are myriad options at your local craft store, but also check out thrift stores and resale shops.

I chose this vase for its fat bottom and bubbly glass.

You will need...
Drop cloth or newspaper for easy cleanup
A glass vessel that has no drainage
Pebbles or gravel – you’ll need enough to cover the bottom of your vessel to about an inch
Activated charcoal
Potting soil (preferably without added fertilizer)
Trowel or scoop
Snips or scissors
Small scale houseplants
Any other nifty bits like beach glass, pretty rocks, chipped china, or miniature accessories


First, give your glass container a quick rinse to clear out any dust or dirt. Also, rinse your pebbles and charcoal to minimize the dust. The charcoal dust can seep down into your pebbles and look black and nasty. You can use a strainer or a large bowl.


Layer your pebbles on the bottom of your vessel to the depth of about an inch. This creates the drainage needed so your plants don’t drown. I chose to do a mix of large pebbles and small gravel as I wanted to emphasize the natural look of the pebbles. I also picked through them and chose some of the prettiest to use as a final touch.


Sprinkle a thin layer of activated charcoal across your pebbles. The charcoal keeps your soil sweet and minimizes bacteria. You can find it and the pebbles at your local pet store in the aquarium supplies.


Add a layer of potting soil. Start with about an inch or two that you can add to later. You may want to create hills or valleys in your terrarium – go for it!


Plant choices: in general (unless you are doing a succulent terrarium) choose a variety of low light, high moisture houseplants. Ferns and mosses are ideal.

Pop your plants out of their pots. In my case, the variegated creeping fig came apart immediately, so I was able to split it and put it in several spots. Depending on the depth of your vessel, it may make sense to trim the roots or shake off a good deal of the existing soil. It can be a tight fit to get the plants planted, but the roots will be fine with a bit of cutting. Also, you may need to trim your plants down in size. With the rex begonia, I cut off a good third of the foliage to make it fit. Remember, this is a miniature landscape, so you will want to use small plants. We don’t want them to grow too much, which is why I suggest choosing a potting soil without added fertilizer.


After you get your plants snuggled in and topped off with a bit more potting soil, think about what other embellishments you may want to add. I sprinkled in my pretty pebbles, some hickory nuts, and an artfully broken black walnut. You can also add twigs, bark, shells – almost anything!


With all the plants and embellishments in place, water the terrarium thoroughly. If you are using an enclosed vessel, you will rarely need to water as the transpiration of the plants creates high humidity. You’ll have water dripping down your glass. Do lift the lid or the cloche now and again to get fresh air into your little environment as it can get too stale. With an open container, make sure that soil is evenly moist.


Wasn't that easy? In just an hour, I have a pretty new arrangement. Terrariums can be lovely additions to the home, but also consider creating one for the office. These little gardens can really brighten up a workspace.

Get more terrarium tips and ideas on my blog!


Gardening by Heather Prince

Part of the Second City Soiree Contributor Series. Heather is on Twitter @FearlessGarden. Read her full bio here.


{scene} Sneak peak: "First Look for Charity" gala menu

The Chicago Auto Show's First Look for Charity is one of the city's most prominent galas, donating more than 31 million dollars to local charities since its inception. Held right on the auto show floor, attendees in black-tie get an exclusive "sneak peek" of the Chicago Auto Show, before doors open to the public.

Last week I tooled around town on a menu tour for this spectacular fundraiser, sampling bites from Savor (the new caterer at McCormick Place), Fogo de Chao, Wildfire, David Burke's PRIMEHOUSE. They're among the many restaurants donating their time and talent to First Look. Each establishment will serve 5,000 pieces at 45 food stations, totalling 90 different food items. See the full menu here, and drool over the photos below.

Tickets are $250 each, with a whopping 90% going directly to eighteen local charities. Sounds like a win-win...I'll see you there! (Oh, and don't wear painful shoes. There's quite a bit of walking to do.)

First Look For Charity
February 9, 2012
McCormick Place
Black-tie attire
Buy tickets here


Indie Wed Bridal Expo - 1.28.12

Ten years ago, with a shiny new engagement ring on my finger, I went to one of those bridal expos. There in the bland hotel ballroom my eyes glazed over one dull vendor booth after another. After 20 minutes, I'd seen enough to know it was a one-way ticket to Generic Wedding town, complete with rubber chicken and cheesy DJs.

Lucky for you, 2012 bride, there are other options!

Indie Wed is a bridal expo focusing on small, independent businesses, and also couples with an independent spirit. For some that may mean a full-blown unconventional fete, while others may want to incorporate handmade items from local artisans.

With 100+ of unique & whimsical displays from the Midwest and beyond, brides can actually shop, as the majority of vendors will have wares for sale. Bring your other half and dance to tunes the DJ spins, admire tablescapes created by some of Chicago’s hottest wedding pros, and nibble samples from local caterers. Free interactive workshops and lectures will run all day. In short, it's THE alternative to the traditional bridal expo.

Purchase Tickets and get 20% off using the code SECONDCITY. And be sure to peep their adorable promo video!

Indie Wed 2011 from I Do Films on Vimeo.



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