photo of an Alessandra Branca-designed kitchen
Community Service

If our kitchen and bath issue flushed you with excitement, come on out tomorrow, July 23, 6:00 – 9:00, for a night of tips, talks, and ‘teezers at Community Home Supply, 3924 N. Lincoln Avenue. (For such a deceptively proletarian moniker, this showroom has an inspiring selection of the latest domestic and European home fixtures, in case you haven’t visited yet.) Chicago Home + Garden‘s editor, Jan Parr, and designer-architect Claudia Skylar will be opining on how to get the most bang for your bank, starting at seven o’clock. Jan shared this photo of an Alessandra Branca-designed kitchen she plans to discuss ("I love the unexpectedness of the stainless steel cabinets," she says. "It gives an edge to the room.") The first 150 guests get a goodie bag, so be an early bird. RSVP at 312-832-6796 or e-mail to

Book Bingeing

I was one of the gazillion moviegoers who saw the new Harry Potter flick over the weekend, and was, more than anything, impressed by the sets, especially the floor-to-ceiling leather-bound books that play such a supporting role in this Hogwarts hullabaloo. Hermione’s apparently gotten herself a work-study gig in the school library, and levitates books up to their Dewey decimal dwellings with the toss of a finger. My muggle mind was distracted, thinking about how great it would be to have a book-filled wall, or at least some artfully arranged bookshelves at home. As luck would have it, the 25th annual Newberry Library Book Sale starts this week, Thursday to Sunday, and it’s a great opportunity to stock up your stacks with used books—more than 110,000 of them, in all categories, cheap-cheap-cheap.

plateware from Marrakech Treasures

Moroccan Roll

It’s sad to find out that an interesting, specialized store like Andersonville’s Marrakech Treasures is shuttering. I have mixed emotions about going-out-of-business sales—they often make me feel a bit like a vulture picking at bones. But then again, my squeamishness isn’t going to resurrect this Moroccan import shop, and those tagines are certainly not going to pack themselves, so I stopped by to find some bargains. All merchandise is 70 percent off the marked prices, and the store will be open until everything is gone. There are a lot of unusual candles and candleholders, tables piled with pottery and glassware, (I liked these jewel-toned ceramic plates with handmade metal detail; with the discount they are about $9 each) handmade rugs, several pieces of intricately carved furniture, and even Ali Baba curled-toe slippers and dangly jewelry. Did you also hear that Smith & Hawken has left the building, and is offering 20-30 percent off everything in all of its 56 retail locations, including four in Illinois? I guess I’ll have to find a new place to buy pastel wellies.

a white lang-haired dog

Hair of the Dog

My building has recently started a composting program, and it’s like a fascinating science project to me. I now know that some garbage is good for the mix (egg shells, coffee grounds), some not so much (bones, Paris Hilton’s last CD), and I was surprised to learn that dog hair is great to put in to detract animals. Lucy was happy to contribute some of her brushings, and I also spread some around the tomato and basil plants on my porch—it’s working well to keep squirrels and birds from enjoying a caprese salad before me. If you’d like to learn more fun facts about composting, Stephanie Davies, Chicago’s Urban Worm Girl will be showing her kits and sharing her advice at the Andersonville Farmer’s Market tonight from 4:30-7:30, and at Uncommon Ground’s weekly market Friday July 24 and 31, 4:00-8:00.

Auction Action

Any collector or design devotee inevitably runs into the same problems—you get bored with some things, you want a change, or you simply run out of spaces to put new stuff. If you don’t have the patience to sell on Craigslist or eBay, think about consigning better pieces to an auction house, which will charge a flat fee and take a percentage of the selling price in exchange for its services. Leslie Hindman has put out an invitation to consign fine furniture, art, and decorative arts for some high-profile fall sales, and deadlines are coming up soon (July 27 for fine art, August 17 for furniture and decorative arts). Call 312-280-1212 or visit for an appraisal and to see if they’d be interested in your property.

A roof top with greenary

Sustainable City

Smarter Cities, a program of the Natural Resources Defense Council, just announced the crème-de-la-green of America’s top large cities, and Chicago comes in at number 10 for sustainability, with our number of LEED-certified buildings (more than any other U.S. city) and our 400+ green roofs listed as main reasons. Mazel tov, Mayor Daley! (Glad to hear that hefty sales tax we’re shelling out is doing some good, at least.) Other qualifying factors include air quality, recycling, and transportation. Dig a little deeper in the study and find Arlington Heights at #8 for small (under 100,000 pops) cities, and Springfield at #4 for medium (100K-300K), so Windy isn’t the only Illinois city that deserves some conservatory props.