A wooden birdhouse
For the Birds

The annual Chicago House birdhouse auction and fund-raising event is branching out this year to include traditional, modern, and contemporary artwork of a non-avian nature, in addition to the dozens of creative birdhouses hatched by local designers, artists, and architects. The event will take place at the downtown Chicago location of Room & Board, 55 E. Ohio St., on Thursday, June 23 from 6–9 p.m. Peep an in-store preview of the auction items beginning tomorrow, and early birds will catch a nice discount: Purchase tickets in advance (before Thursday, June 22 at five o’clock) and save $15 off the $85 admission price charged at the door. Chicago House provides housing and counseling for people living with HIV and AIDS.

'House Beautiful Blue: 350 Inspiring Ways to Decorate With Blue'

Feeling Blue

Bucktown’s elegant Asian aerie, Pagoda Red, will be espousing a hue of a different color next Thursday as owner Betsy Nathan welcomes author (and frequent Chicago Home + Garden contributor) Lisa Cregan for a book launch of House Beautiful Blue: 350 Inspiring Ways to Decorate With Blue. Blue curacao cocktails will be served from 5–8 p.m. at 1714 N. Damen Ave., and Cregan will sign and discuss her new book. Don’t be left out of the blue: RSVP here.

An elaborate chair from Orange Skin

Proust Roost

How fantastic is this updated throne version of Alessandro Mendini’s 1978 Proust armchair? I saw a prototype on display at a cocktail party Orange Skin threw for NeoCon, and am on the verge of obsessed with its funky marriage of classic and modern. Mendini designed it for Magis, and it’s molded in polyethylene, making it suitable for outdoor use. If I had Bieber bucks, I would order a few to arrange in a shady arrondissement of the yard, salon-style, so I can have old friends over to while away summer afternoons, remembering things past over house-made madeleines. If orange isn’t your thing, it comes in a number of other statement-making colors.

Shelves at Taschen

Passion for Taschen

The Cologne-based publishing house of Taschen has partnered with the Art Institute of Chicago to open a Taschen-branded bookstore within the existing AIC’s 3,000-square-foot main museum shop on Michigan Avenue. (Talks are also in negotiation to follow this boutique up with a smaller version inside the Modern Wing’s shop.) Taschen, already a big seller at the ’Tute, is known for lavish and splashy tomes devoted to art, architecture, design, and film, and most are in a surprisingly attainable price range. That is, those that aren’t in the company’s boundary-pushing line of limited editions, where a six-volume set of the history of Playboy magazine will set you back $1,300 (it does come with a wee section of Hef’s pj’s, granted), and a copy of the hefty Helmut Newton SUMO coffee-tabler, complete with a Philippe Starck–designed stand, costs $15,000. I’ve visited almost all of Taschen’s four standalone U.S. stores, and they are creatively designed, stylish shops that will have you buying up books like they’re, um, going out of style?

The Urban Folk Circuit logo

Car Fair

Three Brothers Auto Repair is trading grease monkeys for sock monkeys this Saturday, June 18, when the Avondale mechanic shop hosts the traveling craft market/indie music fest Urban Folk Circuit. For more than eight months, UFC’s merry band of artisans has popped up in local bars and music venues; this is the first time they are taking the al fresco approach and setting up in 3 Bros’ garage and parking lot. Shop, drink, and hear live music at 3722 W. Belmont Ave. from noon till 8 p.m.

A lush home garden

Vote Early, Vote Often

DeLoach Vineyards is an organic and biodynamic producer of pinots, chardonnays, and zinfandels based in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley, but they’ve started an initiative to help neighborhoods improve themselves by nurturing community gardens across the country. The “Garden to Table” campaign is going to award $20,000 to five of 15 nominated gardens (two in Chicago hoods), which is sure to be of great help getting silver bells and cockle shells all in a row. Organic Gardening Magazine vetted the finalists, but you’re going to pick the winners by voting online, once a day tops, until August 1. The local hopefuls are Three Brothers Garden in Albany Park, pictured here, and the Peterson Garden, a recently revitalized space on the site of an original WWII Victory Garden at Peterson and Campbell.

Soap from Careful Peach

Peach Jams

Lots of juicy news from Oak Park’s Careful Peach this week. For starters, tonight from 5 to 9 p.m., the Francophilic store is channeling the South of France with an evening of Provencal snacks, champagne, and 15-percent-off discounts on French merchandise like these Savon de Marseille soaps, Peugeot wine accessories, and packaged herbs. Shop next Thursday, June 23, and 15 percent of store proceeds will go to American Rivers, a charity that is devoted to cleaning up waterways. And if you’re planning on attending some of the upcoming Shakespeare Henry plays outdoors at the Oak Park Festival Theater this summer, get a fiver knocked off the admission price by spending $75 at the Peach, and bring your ticket stub in by July 7 to enter a gift-basket raffle.

The showroom at Sawbridge Studios

Play With Your Food

Sawbridge Studios celebrates summer and Father’s Day this Saturday with an open house, studded with chef demos and tastings from 1–3, all in its newly expanded Winnetka location at 1015 Tower Court, in an 1890s-era livery stable. (Chicago misses you, Sawbridge, but we’ll come visit soon, promise.) Chef Larry Smith, of Jerry’s, will be creating edible mosaics using the chaud froid technique, the Winnetka Wine Shop will be providing several vino varietals, and Lake Forest’s Hungry Monkey will be introducing its chocolate chip macaroons and lemon vanilla-bean cake. Now, excuse me—I have to go get a snack.