It’s been a very busy few months since I took the reigns here at CH+G. Lots of quality time at my desk in the Tribune Tower. But last night, our editorial assistant Leslie Marshall and I hit the town to check out some openings.

First stop, Eskandar, where we admired the mix of elegant, flowy clothing, the smattering of earthy-chic home goods, and the excellent mini-burgers (we admired those most actively). Eskandar himself was present, wearing a scarf and looking very handsome; it’s always fun to meet the man behind the dramatic name and learn he’s as down-to-earth as a man who goes by Bob.

Next it was off to a soirée at the Public Hotel (whoa—amazing! I hadn’t seen that marvelous Ian Schrager makeover yet!) for the launch of a new online shopping site called Hestia & Bear, to which we’ll come back in a sec.

En route, walking north on State from Walton Street, we came across a little gem of a shop called Judy Maxwell Home. After all those perfectly appointed Oak Street shops, it was fun to come across a quirky almost small-town-ish find like this (I mean, who isn’t charmed by a store containing, among other things, a carousel-style elephant and a bucket of oversized Scrabble pieces, surrounded by truly lovely artwork on the walls?). Turns out, the owner, Joan Burke, is famous, but that’s all we’re saying about the famous owner. Seeing her utterly unique, personal shop (she loves dioramas—the lantern shown above is an example of one she has in stock—and thinks of her ever-changing store as its own sort of diorama) made us admire her even more.

Speaking of falling in love with shopowners, the darling couple behind Hestia & Bear had us at “Hello,” spoken in their cute English accents (they moved here from London two years ago). And when we saw the fantastic large-scale butterfly prints they will be selling when their British-inspired home-goods site launches on Saturday, we were even more smitten.

Gee, I really should get out more!