Sizing Samples

Get to Johnathon, swift, if you want to take advantage of a storewide floor-sample sale. Everything in John Gray’s (a former Bravo TV Top Design contestant, don’t you know…) Lakeview home store is half-off, including this linear silver-leafed mirror which has been reduced to $600. The shop is at 3161 N. Halsted St.; the sale runs through Sunday. And remember when I told you about Zella Brown’s big clearance sale a couple of weeks ago? As it happens, Zella Brown’s owner, Trisha London, just had a baby (congrats!) and wants to focus on family—and they have further reduced inventory to 75 percent off, with an anticipated closing date of Dec. 23 (maybe sooner, depending on how fast things sell). Consigned art is not included in this sale, but you’ll find some great deals on that as well. We will miss this sassy, smart Wicker Park design boutique.

Yes, Virginia, Macy’s Has a Marketing Department

If someone approaches you wearing a 19th century newsboy outfit this Friday, don’t run the other way. In honor of the existential New York Sun Santa Claus editorial from 1897, Macy’s has declared December 11 National Believe Day, and will be rewarding do-gooders with $25 gift cards, usable in any department. Your act of kindness is up to you (how about, say, not making fun of people in 19th-century newsboy outfits, for starters?), and the newsies will be handing out rewards from 6–7 a.m. at Daley Plaza, 7–8 a.m. at the State & Lake el stop, 8–9 a.m. at the Trib Tower, and 9–10 a.m. at Water Tower. Also, should your name actually be Virginia and you have ID to prove it, stop by any Macy’s that day for a $10 gift card, while supplies last.

Souper Events at the Hideout

My artist friend Paul Dolan has just finished illustrating a charity cookbook for the Hideout, and the chill little bar and performance space at 1354 W. Wabansia will be having a book release party for Soup and Bread tonight from 5–8 p.m. All the recipes were compiled from bartender Martha Bayne’s popular Wednesday night Soup and Bread dinners (starting next year on Jan. 6), and the books are $20. There will be spiked, spiced cider in those Crock-Pots instead of soup this evening, and if you can’t make it, don’t stew—you can order your copies online. Proceeds from the sale of these charming books (and silk-screened six-by-eight-inch prints of Paul’s retro bicolor illos as well) go to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, and books and prints will also be available at Hideout’s Holiday Sales on Tuesdays, Dec. 15 and 22, 6–9 p.m., where they’ll be joined by the work of about 20 other local artists and crafters.

YOU Get a Show! And YOU Get a Show!

Last month, Miss Oprah Winfrey announced that she’ll be closing the book on her Chicago talk show as we know it, in September 2011, (thanks for the heads up, O, we’ll start the grieving process right away) and setting up shop in California to start a cable channel or colonize some planets or something. She also announced that interior designer and past-and-future Chicago Home + Garden cover boy Nate Berkus (watch for our January-February issue, cover shown here—with a shayna punim like that, who can blame us for giving him the cover again?) will be getting his own syndicated show, in cahoots with Harpo Productions and Sony Pictures, starting sometime next Fall. This is huge, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Another Oprah-endorsed local, chef-author-restaurateur Art Smith is getting his own TV series next year too, to air on TLC, called Craving Comfort and focusing on the simple, hearty fare that Smith endorses. Smith is no stranger to our pages—we featured his art-filled Kenwood condo last year. If you are an aspiring TV personality yourself, and are not afraid of stressful design challenges and even more stressful high-definition television, HGTV’s Design Star is looking for contestants for the upcoming season. Go here to find out the rules of the road, and watch funny clips that hopeful cast members have already submitted. Deadline is January 19.

Throw Down

A cuddly blanket is pretty much de rigueur for Chicago winters, and I’ve been seeing some great-looking ones out there lately, often presented as gift options in this gaga season of giving. They do make swell go-to presents, but they also work wonders with punching up a room’s décor, tossed over the back of a sofa or tucked onto a bed. On the aspirational end of the price spectrum is the buttery $1,125 cashmere-wool blend, whipstitched Hermès Avalon classic, H-H-H-hard to resist, but not exactly an impulse buy for most of us. These chunky knit beauts really struck my fancy when I saw a few of them prominently displayed at Anthropologie recently—the ropy, hand-knit sculptural texture is surprisingly plush, and they come in several earthy tones. ($198 each) And Restoration Hardware has striped, plaid, and solid chenille plushies that weigh almost five pounds, and retail for $59 (watch for sales). Have you made a Resto stop lately? Because you should. A couple of years ago they seemed to be focusing on kitschy little trinkets such as magic wands, silly joke books, and gag gifts, but someone has obviously got the memo—now they have streamlined their offerings, cleaned out the clutter, and really upped the ante with quality furniture and case goods, as well as all that hardware.