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Best of Chicago 01


Kids’ Clothing Designer
Nichole Rairigh

nichole rairigh of chicago

When Nichole Rairigh gave birth to her first daughter, Ashor, the same year she graduated from the fashion design program at Columbia College, a children’s clothing line was also born. Initially, she considered her handiwork a hobby, using vintage fabrics she collected from eBay. Just three and a half years later, her playful mini wear, sold under the label Ashor’s Room (ashorsroom.com), can be found in more than 50 stores across the United States, including LMNOP and The Red Balloon Company in Chicago. (A contract with Bloomingdale’s is in the works, she says.) Her well-made designs have an adult sensibility that doesn’t lapse into seriousness: pouffy skirts, tailored pants, bubble jumpers, and cotton T-shirts silk-screened with amusing, offbeat motifs. “I wanted to keep a handmade, crafty feel,” says Rairigh, 28. “I thought, If a kid were doing this, it would be a mess. So I purposely leave mistakes.”


Flower Arranging Classes
Botanicals | 2214 N. Elston Ave.;

How do the pros create their eye-popping arrangements? There are tricks, and Casey Cooper, the owner of Botanicals and its lead instructor, delivers. Her most popular offering is a four-session class called Building Blocks ($400, including flowers that you take home at the end of the night), which takes you through hand-tying bouquets, using foliage, and making table centerpieces, culminating with an individual final project. “I want to take away some of the frustration when you bring home pretty flowers from the farmers’ market and you try to arrange them and you get mad,” she says. Multiple classes run every week during the slow months for Cooper’s commercial business—January, February, and March.

Offbeat Singles Scene
St. Vincent De Paul
Roman Catholic Church

1010 W. Webster Ave.;

If you’re just needy enough to ask God to send you a soul mate, St. Vincent DePaul Roman Catholic Church in Lincoln Park might be the answer to your dating prayers. The low-key 5 p.m. Sunday service is packed with so many attractive 20- and 30-something worshipers that regular attendees have dubbed it the “ass mass.” St. Vincent’s affluent polos-and-flip-flops crowd can best be described as “bargoers who don’t want to meet someone in a bar,” according to one 24-year-old female parishioner. “I don’t think any single person in the church between the ages of 23 and 35 is 100 percent focused on the priest,” she says. As in life, however, timing is key: if you miss the 5 p.m. service, the 9:30 p.m. mass, only from September through May, is no substitute for anyone of legal drinking age—it’s the province of pajama-bottomed DePaul University undergrads.

Lamp Restoration
A Lamp & Fixture Shop | 3181 N. Elston Ave.; 773-866-0220

Whether you need a shade for an odd lamp base or new wiring for your vintage sconce, A Lamp & Fixture Shop can provide an artful solution. Owned for 33 years by cell biologist turned lamp guru Paul Simmon, this low-profile hole in the wall bursts with restored fixtures, finials, lampshades (many of them custom-made for high-profile local interior design firms like Gregga Jordan Smieszny), and more. He’s currently at work on a 1930s home with 75 broken fixtures. Yet even the tiniest jobs, like replacing an inexpensive harp, receive Simmon’s full attention. He objects, however, to making old lamps look brand new. “People come in and say, polish it up,” he laments. “I say, show its age.”

Sushi Deal
Tank Sushi | 4514 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-769-2600


The designer maki at this popular Lincoln Square spot are unquestionably some of the best in the city—from the inventive Latin Heat roll (smoked salmon, escolar, jalapeño, avocado, cilantro, chili mayo) to the mild yet nicely tuned Tropic Thunder roll (yellowtail, shiitake, avocado, mango, spicy mayo). But we were floored to find out that on Saturday and Sunday from 1:30 to 7 p.m., all of them are half price. Go early, eat cheap.

Pilgrim Congregational Church | 460 Lake St., Oak Park;
Saturdays through October, 7 a.m. to noon


Warm, brown, and crispy on the outside, moist and cakey on the inside, with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, these are the old-fashioned kind of doughnuts your grandma would make if she were willing to rise at 3 a.m. to whip them up fresh every Saturday. Made on-site by various groups of dedicated volunteers in the basement of Pilgrim Congregational Church, the doughnuts find a ready audience among those who shop at the Oak Park Farmers’ Market, which rents out the church’s parking lot. Legendary among Oak Parkers, who polish off more than 2,500 of the round treats a week, they can be yours for just 60 cents apiece.

Best of Chicago - Table of Contents

Best of Chicago - 01

Best of Chicago - 02

Best of Chicago - 03

Best of Chicago - 04

Best of Chicago - 05

Best of Chicago - 06

Best of Neighborhhoods - Albany Park

Best of Neighborhhoods - Evanston

Best of Neighborhhoods - Highwood

Best of Neighborhhoods - Hyde Park

Best of Neighborhhoods - Ukrainian VIllage and East Village

Best of Chicago - Architecture

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