Our friend Beth makes fun and funny pillows under the name Diffraction Fiber (you may have seen her ctrl-alt-delete pillow set on your favorite nerd blog) and we’ve given her state pillows as wedding presents before. So when we trying to come up with a wedding present for our friends Ben and Emily, we thinking about getting them an Illinois pillow, because they both love Chicago (they even had their Chicago-themed apartment featured in a Time Out article). Brainstorm—why not pillows of the Chicago flag? They came out great—we gave two to Ben and Emily and kept two for ourselves (I’m justifying it by telling myself that 4 pillows would be awkward on a couch). Beth says she’s adding them to her repertoire, do they should be available from her Etsy shop.
With consumer goods prices burgeoning and my “still somewhat timid freelance writer” schtick not yet helping me rake large piles of cash into my wallet, I’ve been looking for more ways to cut costs.
Having sold my Ford Explorer (did I really drive that thing?) before I moved from Indiana to Chicago not long ago, I’m not feeling the pinch at the pump like you auto-owning Chicagoans are, but these days I’m riding my bike as much to save myself the $1.75 on the CTA as to get some fun summertime cardio.
I’ve been cutting my own hair. I’ve been sneaking snacks into the movies. I’ve been bringing my own food with me whenever I leave the house.
And I’ve been forgoing the convenience and selection of the Andersonville Jewel for the vastly cheaper and more interesting Edgewater Produce (5509 N. Clark St., near Bryn Mawr), a small Mexican grocery store right across the street from Jewel. Some prices might slowly be creeping up — the cheapest eggs have jumped from $.99 to $1.29 — but the produce and Mexican staples are cheap and delicious. They also have a small but nice baked goods selection, cheap tofu (if you swing that way), and a delightful assortment of strange and delicious Mexican candies and treats.
And while I go mostly for things like the bulk dried fruit and trail mix-type snack selection, even my boyfriend the foodie (who uses strange and fancy gadgets like skillets and spatulas) is happy with the selection of meats, veggies, and the colorful array of ethnic sauces and spices that populate the shelves there.
And the best part — the eagle-eyed shopper will spot little snapshots of comedy embedded in the Edgewater Produce experience, like the labels on the bulk foods. Exactly which pointy rice snack makes the “fancy Oriental mix” fancy? Does the energy in the “energy mix” come from the fake M&M’s? And how much of my RDA of ape-liciousness will I get from a half cup of “banana chimps?”
– photo by Bryan Bowden
I can’t believe I forgot to mention this earlier, and because of Woot’s weird t-shirt “Reckoning” thing, the shirt may not be available much longer, but anyway, let’s finish this run-on sentence off and get to the point, which is… a t-shirt with a picture of Abraham Lincoln made out of the Gettysburg Address. I know, right?
I was strolling down Clark St this afternoon, and I happened upon a two block stretch between Montrose and Wilson that I have fondly dubbed The Disposable District. I have never in my life seen such a high concentration of crap stores. One establishment after the next proudly displays rhinestone-studded, neon underwear that will surely transform every last item in the wash a pale, blotchy pink before disintegrating in the spin cycle. And I can only hope that the XXXXL airbrushed Tweety Bird sweatshirts disintegrate immediately after purchase, lest someone actually be tempted to wear them.
Shoes built to last for at least a quarter of a mile, pots and pans sets with specially designed fall-off handles, and porous umbrellas perfect for those rainy day strolls when you feel like gettin’ a little drenched–all these and more can be found in The Disposable District, so make haste! Your trash cans can soon be filled with piles of brand new items. Save time, and don’t even bother taking them out of the package. 1) Purchase item(s). 2) Place in trash. 3) Breathe a huge sigh of relief that America’s sacred landfills won’t follow in the doomed footsteps of our fast-fading ice caps. Whew.
And I will feel kinda lame if he ever sees this article about me gushing about him coming into the ol’ shoe store and ordering shoes from our Boston location, but it was kind of amazing. In case you don’t know Andrew Bird lives in Chicago, and was in Squirrel Nut Zippers. I’m not the biggest fan, but he was super nice and totally cute too.
I am so sorry, metworld. I have been gone for far too long! But guess what? We moved!!! It’s over! Yay, and stuff!
Now that all of that nonsense is over with, I can start enjoying my life as a Chicagoan and true blue blogger. And my new neighborhood. First things first – shopping!
Out of sheer boredom last weekend, I decided to take a stroll down Clark to familiarize myself with my surroundings. And, of course, to see who had the best sweets in town. (Swedish Bakery, duh. But that’s a whole different entry)
I walked into Brown Elephant, and I was all “I’m not gonna buy anything” and proceeded to, well, buy stuff. I managed to talk myself out of spending all of my money, and settled on two t-shirts. A pink “Detroit Ligers” t-shirt and a green psychedelic number. (pictures coming soon – I’m not at home)
My awesome purchases aside, lets talk about Brown Elephant for a minute, shall we? The Howard Brown Health Center, through the sales at the Brown Elephant shops, has raised tons and tons of money to help under/uninsured LGBT folks receive the health care and education that they so deserve. From the site:
The mission of Howard Brown is to promote the well-being of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons through the provision of health care and wellness programs, including clinical, educational, social service and research activities. Howard Brown designed these programs to serve gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons in a confidential, supportive, and nurturing environment. Howard Brown Health Center is committed to working cooperatively with other community-based organizations serving and contributing to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
I’m not trying to get all political here, but I am a big fan of people being educated and safe, regardless of their race/sex/sexual orientation. I’m also a big fan of shopping for a cause, especially when the stuff is cheap.
Well done, Howard Brown. I’ll shop to that!
I was walking down Lincoln Avenue yesterday and I stumbled upon Yellow Jacket. (2959 N Lincoln Ave ) I wasn’t going to go in at first – I’m addicted to a good vintage shop and it always ends poorly for my wallet- but alas, the amazing dress in the window swayed me. Jennifer, who I assumed was the owner, was super helpful and magically knew exactly what my style was. Probably because thats her job….
I spent an hour in the store trying on adorable and amazing tops and skirts and hats and glasses and even a couple wigs. Jennifer was super playful and didn’t seem to mind at all. I was like her life-sized dress-up doll. I informed her that she’s now my personal stylist. It works out well for everyone, really.
I walked out of there with some amazing new pieces to add to my not-so-amazing current wardrobe, and even a few accessories that I didn’t need. (Hello? Pink vintage hat with a ball on top?! Yes, please.). I panicked when I got home because I thought I had forgotten my very favorite new brown-with-little-white-polka-dots shirt. I called the store as my new buddy Jennifer was closing and she scoured the place – she was more upset than I was. Super sweet lady. Luckily, I found the shirt and all ended well, but I was pretty impressed by how helpful she was. She even offered to replace the shirt with any other shirt in the store if I had, in fact, lost it. Totally above and beyond.
I didn’t really browse the mens section (obviously), but there were plenty of men in there making a healthy dent in the merchandise. You should all go there and buy things from Jennifer. Now!
I almost didn’t share the knowledge of my new favorite vintage shop with you, readership, but then what kind of informative blogger would I be??? That would just be selfish. I guess there’s plenty of vintage awesomeness to go around – just promise not to take all of the cool stuff…..
Woot.com, the Internet masters of the one-day-deal (aka “buy this crap now or you’ll never be able to again!”) now have a t-shirt arm. Shirts are $10* on their first day and then $15* until they stop selling so well and are discontinued. So we’ve all missed the $10 price for this nice Tetris+Chicago mashup, but it’ll be available as long as you keep buying it. Yes, you.
* shipping included, which is nice.
You know how when you’re leaving Home Depot or Best Buy and they check your receipt before you can go? And do you know that, basically, you’re just stopping as a courtesy to them — your transaction is over? Well, a TigerDirect security guard out in Naperville didn’t seem to know that latter fact and physically restained a customer last week who refused to have his receipt checked. The customer ended up calling up 911 to get a cop on the scene, who let him depart. The manager of the store has since apologized, but it’s the weak sort of apology that goes on to cast aspersions on the character of the customer. Unless you’ve signed a contract to the contrary (e.g. the membership agreement at CostCo or Sam’s Club) you don’t have to show anyone your receipt on the way out of a store, and you certainly don’t deserve to be yelled at or restrained just for not showing a receipt.