A Cupcake-scented candle from Crackle and Drag
Craft on Tap

Baby it’s cold outside, but you still have to bang out some of that holiday shopping, don’tcha? My pal Stacy Klein, who waxes poetically aromatic tinned candles with her business partner Karen Young, under the name Crackle and Drag (no connection to RuPaul or Joan Rivers), told me about a special little shopping event this Sunday at Roscoe Village’s Village Tap bar and restaurant. From 1–7 p.m., you can peruse the wares of local artists and designers who have set up shop in Vintage Tap’s charming year-round beer garden at 2055 West Roscoe Street, and enjoy a 20-percent discount on food and drink with any purchase. Crackle and Drag’s eight-ounce candles sell for $10 (three for $25), and are the perfect size for traveling. I’m a tad disappointed that they’ve discontinued the fireplace scent, but they’re introducing this cupcake version, which should prove to be a blue-ribbon seller. Some other vendors include BlueLaLa jewelry, Parks Chocolates, artist Kevin Lucius, and Whirley Girl, whose frames and mirrors drew the attention of a Regis and Kelly Show scout when they were spotted at last week’s One of a Kind show.

Frank Fontana's new book, Frank Fontana's Dirty Little Secrets of Design

Dirty Little Secrets

The wait is over for the release of local celebrity designer and savvy HGTV host Frank Fontana’s new book, Frank Fontana’s Dirty Little Secrets of Design, (we gave you a heads-up, remember?) and to celebrate, his buddy Kenneth Ludwig is hosting a book signing party next Thursday night, December 16, at Ludwig’s eponymous home furnishings showroom on the 15th floor of the Merchandise Mart. I’ve interviewed Fontana a couple of times and found him to be funny and down-to-earth, and those qualities come through on the pages of this handsome tome as well. It’s chockablock with practical design and shopping advice (think of the ceiling as a fifth wall!) and affordable DIY projects (cover a nicked-up Parsons table with wallpaper samples and a lucite sheet!), and the author will be signing copies, mingling, and noshing on apps and wines catered by the Kinzie Chophouse, from 4–6:30 p.m. RSVP to ken@kennethludwig.com.

Examples of custom upholstery by Divine Consign

Divine’s Intervention

The Oak Park furniture shop Divine Consign has just introduced custom upholstery and drapery services, and I think it’s a fine fit for this upscale resale establishment. The drapes should match the carpets, don’t you think? Say you spot a piece with great bones and the perfect proportions, but you can’t stand the fabric (I’m talking to you, mauve-and-mint plaid!), or it just doesn’t want to play well with your existing accoutrements. Now you can pick out more fitting fabrics at DC’s design studio on site, and they’ll take care of the makeover madness. As for window treatments, bring in measurements and pics, maybe a few tear sheets from design magazines, select some swatches and trim, and they’ve got you covered.

A unique graphite pencil by Agelio Batle

Notice Knocks Off

Stop by one of Notice: Accessories for Living’s two brick-and-mortars today and you’ll get 25 percent off any of your purchases (and free beer and pizza at the Highland Park store, or comped cider and wine in Lake Geneva). Home shoppers can snag the same savings (up until midnight) if they enter the promo code SANTA. I’m thinking it’s a nice time to pick up some of these pricey Agelio Batle graphite “pencils” that Notice carries.

Snow covered berries

Contain Yourself

It’s high season for seasonal decorating this month, and Pasquesi Home and Gardens doesn’t want you to forget about al fresco opportunities for jazzing up your yard, entrance, containers, or garden. The company has well-staffed outposts in Barrington and Lake Bluff, but if you’re too busy baking cookies and nogging eggs to stop by and get schooled on tips and ideas for creative greenery, check out its exhaustive website and sign up for their monthly newsletter with a timely to-do list. I found this month’s missive particularly inspirational, with lots of fresh thoughts on how to spruce up outdoor spaces until it’s tulip time. Deer-resistant tiered “poodle” topiaries tickle my inner Dr. Seuss, and “kissing balls” of boxwood branches are a great solution for barren planters. Mix lopped-off evergreen branches with dollar-store faux stems, and if the soil in your pots is frozen tighter than Nicole Kidman’s forehead, pour some hot water in there to make it more receptive to your arrangements. (I could have used that last bit of advice a few years ago when I was trying to drill holes in frigid dirt to support some welcoming berry branches for an 11th-hour holiday party.) We’re in for a few months of cocooning and Netflix, no doubt, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give yourself a satisfied smile when you enter and leave your nest every day.