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“My whole life I’ve been completely wrapped up in writing,” says jewelry designer and writer Tara Walker. “At a certain point though, I think I just longed to make something with my hands, something physical that could just be done when it was done – unlike a piece of writing which never really feels finished to me.”

Walker’s jewelry line, Lucky Whale proved just the outlet Walker craved.

“For a while,” she says, “I had a hard time seeing the connection between [writing and making jewelry] until I realized that one process frees me up for the other. I think the reason I make jewelry, in some ways, is to refresh my sanity for my writing.”

This week Lucky Whale bobs up at The Andersonville Galleria, where Walker is proud to begin showcasing her designs.

Our Town How did you come up with the name for your store?

Tara Walker Completely by accident. I have a really good friend in Denver who draws the most wonderful things without even thinking about it. One day we were at a restaurant in Denver and he started doodling on the children’s menu. One of his doodles was the whale with a shamrock in his hat. At the time I was looking for a name and a logo for my jewelry business and suddenly there it was, in front of me. There have been times when I’ve thought, weird, I have a smiling whale for a logo. But overall I think it actually fits with the playful aesthetic that I bring to my designs. 

OT What sort of things inspire your designs?

TW Right now the majority of my inspiration comes from hunting for interesting things to reuse. I don’t want to make things that are just pretty. Pretty is fine, but I want to make something surprising, something that stretches my imagination in the process. One of my favorite things to do is repurpose images from unexpected places. For instance, I found a bunch of brochures from the ‘50s at the Brown Elephant – (my favorite was about the “father of steel”) and they had these wonderful illustrations in them. The most fun thing for me is seeing something like that and imagining what it can become. 

book lockets.jpg

OT You’re a writer and your visual art often contains literary elements. Coincidence? Conscious choice?

TW A little of both. There seems to be an obsession with putting birds and butterflies on jewelry. (“Put a bird on it!”) That’s fine of course, I like birds and butterflies – but I am always looking to push myself away from the traditional aesthetic. I like books and poetry so I think it was inevitable that they end up in my jewelry. One of my favorite literature-inspired pieces features the Dorothy Parker poem Resume. The whole thing fits into a 1x2 inch pendant so it works really well. It’s a pretty gold pendant so it looks like there’s going to be a prayer or something inside it, but you look closer and suddenly it’s Dorothy Parker’s quippy “Razors pain you, rivers are damp, acids stain you, and drugs cause cramp…”


Interior designer Karyn Musick knows what she likes--designing livable, lovely homes which reflect the lives of their occupants. She spoke with Our Town about design trends, the horror of the 80’s and why moms need rooms of their own.

Our Town When did you first realize you wanted to work in interior design?
Karyn Musick I always had a passion for design. As a young teen, I use to love to decorate my own bedroom and I always had input with my siblings and family’s decorating projects. 

OT Why hire an interior designer?
KM It's sometimes difficult for people to envision and make complex decisions since they are emotionally and financially involved. [A designer can] consult and give professional guidelines to achieve your design goals.

OT What’s your favorite part of the design process?
KM I really enjoy working together with my clients [to] understand their goals. I love when a client tells me that they love what I've helped them to accomplish.

OT You’ve been in the business for over two decades. Is there any period in recent design history that you think back on and wonder what everyone was thinking?
KM Yes! The 80's--all of the high gloss lacquer furniture and teal and raspberry were "the" colors! I was a little young back in the 70's; however, avocado appliances would scar me today!  

OT What’s the secret to making  a room both beautiful and livable?
KM Understanding the space’s main function, then adding all of the personal elements to make it beautiful.

mom cave 3.jpg
OT Your “Mom Cave” contest invites moms to submit outrageous stories and photos in order to win a specially designed sanctuary just in time for Mother’s Day. What inspired the contest?
KM Often, we will visit a family home and as we are walking through each room, we will hear the lady of the home say "this is supposed to be my living room but it's a play room right now, oh and the basement, well, that's where my oldest child (i.e. husband) hangs out on Sunday's, while he's watching all of his football games.” She'll usually gasp for a breath and say, “my designated area is in the kitchen or the laundry room.” Yikes! In November, we were invited to a launch and it was held in a lovely home in Lake Forest. I believe this family had triplets. There was this beautiful schemed room on the main floor. The color scheme was done is bright and soft pinks with an elegant Settee Love Seat. The main wall had framed black and white prints of Audrey Hepburn. The bell went off that this was her "Mom-Cave!” This is what inspired our Mom Cave contest.

OT I’m “creatively cluttered” by which I mean I can’t find my floor. I’m also generally confused about how to make a home look good. Any general tips for someone like me?
KM Less is always more! Organize your clutter by putting away the things that you really don't need everyday. Keep and display the things that mean the most to you and get rid of the things that collect dust. 

To learn more about Divas N' Design visit

A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for a number of web sites and print publications. Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," (Soft Skull press) is available for pre-order here. She is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
IMPORTANT: the official Our Town site doesn't support comments. Join in the conversation by following and Sarah on Twitter: @SarahTerez
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Holiday Tips

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Photo by Patty Michels

We’re on the last leg of the holiday marathon, people. So close we can almost see the depressing, grey, Christmas light-less tip of January. At a time of year when our checking account balances are low and our stress level is high, I’ve polled a diverse group to offer some holiday tips. Enjoy.

I’ll start things off:

Sarah Terez Rosenblum (werewolf owner) Although many are lukewarm about the concept of zoos, I had a pretty awesome time at Lincoln Park Zoo Lights. Sure, the hot pretzels cost twenty dollars, but I’m a sucker for anything dazzling. Unchecked, I'll stare at a chandelier for an hour. If you’re looking for ice sculptures, passed out lions and Christmas trees choreographed to blink on and off in time with music, Zoo Lights will overflow your holiday cup.

Lisa Jenn Bigelow (librarian and author of “Starting From Here”): One of my biggest de-stressing achievements was agreeing with my family to make charitable donations rather than give material gifts. Of course, now I stress over that, but at least it greatly reduces the amount of time I spend in stores, worrying over whether I'm wasting my money on a gift that won't be used.

Lane West (voice over actor): Booze, prescription meds, having friends over for holiday feasts; sometimes mixing the three.

Lane West demonstrates.

Amy Sutton (retail manager): If you still need to shop, do it early in the morning or late at night. You will miss the crowds. Also, the retail workers are pretty beat up right about now, so the teensiest bit of kindness will get you everything you need!

Susan Stachowicz (teacher): I bought Christmas presents this summer when I was traveling. So [the gifts are] unique and unavailable locally.

This is an example of a vacation. Because of the palm tree.

Marie Macula (archivist): Construct an elaborate lie about your current life and bring it up whenever relatives ask you inappropriate questions.

Jamie Lauren Keiles (college student and December's Crush): Bulk food bins at the supermarket and a script for Xanax

One day I hope to live in a bulk bin.

Janelle Galvin: (retail worker) Though I only have five other family members in the state, there's a lot of activity on Christmas eve. My mother is the organist at her church and my father is in the choir, my aunt is in the choir at a different church, and they never quite match up. A while ago, we decided that instead of doing a big sit-down dinner we would make a dozen or so appetizers and Christmas cookies that could sit out all night and people could just come and go as necessary without feeling like they were ditching the fam. Also, if one of the appetizers doesn't come out well, there are so many others that it makes no difference - zero holiday meal stress!

Corin Sailor (mother): Speaking as a new mother, set the bar low. They have nothing to compare it to.

Linda Michels (nuclear medicine technologist): If you like crafts, make the gift! More fun and meaningful than shopping. Soaps, candles, ornaments, and cookies, all good ideas.

My SO seriously made this.

Chai Wolfman (artist) White Elephant gift exchange and Old Fashioneds.

Cristina Chopalli (writer) Brazilian Wax.

A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for a number of web sites and print publications. Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," (Soft Skull press) is available for pre-order here. She is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
IMPORTANT: the official Our Town site doesn't support comments. Join in the conversation by following and Sarah on Twitter: @SarahTerez


Looking to shop local this Holiday season? Look no farther than Woodland Grove Gallery, owned by husband and wife team Tobin Fraley and Rachel Perkal. Not only does the duo show work by artists both regional and national, they are also the creators of The Humbug, a Christmas book and product line available at the gallery. Our Town spoke with Fraley about art, business and Humbugs.

Our Town What’s your favorite part of owning a gallery?
Tobin Fraley Rachel and I are good partners because we both have different strengths. She is amazing in working with customers and her knowledge of the business side of retail is terrific. I really enjoy designing the spaces and setting up product in the stores. And we both love the hunt for new artists and products.

OT You’re responsible for bringing Lyman Whitaker's Wind Sculptures into town. What attracted you to them?
TF Rachel and I first saw Lyman's wind sculptures at a gallery in Santa Fe in 2005 and we were instantly entranced. At that point Lyman's sculptures were in about 10 galleries around the world and they were not looking to expand that number. Occasionally I would check back with them and then, last summer, I spoke to Lyman's wife Stacey, and she said that she would stop by our gallery when she was out in Chicago visiting a friend in June. Stacey came by and we instantly connected. So in July, Lyman and a small crew came to Long Grove and we installed 40 wind sculptures. It was wonderful working with Lyman and the wind sculptures have been a great addition to the gallery.

OT How do you choose artists to showcase?
TF We really only offer work that we like. It is much easier for us to sell a person's work that we would have in our own home, plus we get to enjoy it every day at the gallery. Overall, the retail business is a lot of very hard work, but the pleasures outweigh the difficulties because we are able to meet so many great people and work with such incredibly talented artists from around the country.

OT What’s the story behind the Humbug?
TF One day around Christmas in 1997 I asked Rachel if she thought that Humbugs would make cute Christmas ornaments. Now Rachel had been the creator and manager of Hallmark's Keepsake Ornament Collectors Club, so she definitely had some expertise in this field. She first question was "What's a Humbug?" I said that it's a little bug that gets into mischief around Christmas. A Humbug is what knocks ornaments off the tree when you're in the other room and why brand new Christmas tree lights go out. She then said, "Write a story about this little guy." So I did.

OT What’s the response been like?
TF There is a little mischief in all of us and the Humbug, despite his nature to cause trouble, is basically good at heart and cares about others. People seem to fall in love with the Humbug. Especially little kids. Many times we have had someone purchase a copy of the book before reading it, take it home and then come back the next day to buy ten more copies to give to all of their friends.

OT In a time of economic uncertainty, you’ve managed to grow your business. Any secrets or advice for small business owners?
TF Tenacity and determination are probably our biggest allies in keeping our businesses going. Over the years, we expanded the gallery four times and have opened two women's clothing stores and a garden shop called the Artistic Gardener. But this was all accomplished prior to the economic downturn. Certainly these last few years have not been easy and there were a number of times when we had to assess whether we should continue. But we believed in what we were doing and so we borrowed and used portions of our IRAs to get us through the worst days. The other thing that has sustained us is the loyalty of our regular customers. We feel that the people who shop with us are a part of our extended family and I think that they must feel the same.

Born in 1951, Tobin Fraley spent his first ten years in Seattle, Washington, growing up in and around his grandfather’s amusement park. His interest in photography began in high school and the political environment of Berkeley in 1968 offered him a chance to practice with the camera. As a center of counter-culture and a flashpoint for anti-war activity, there was no lack of relevant subject matter to photograph. But it was not until years later that he began to study photography in earnest before owning and operating Zephyr Press, a wall calendar publishing company. In 2000 Tobin and his wife Rachel moved to Long Grove and settled next to the Reed-Turner Woodland Nature Preserve and now own and operate several shops in downtown Long Grove. He is the author of three books on the history of Carousels along with a holiday children’s story titled, A Humbug Christmas. Fraley currently teaches photography at the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Morton Arboretum.

A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for a number of web sites and print publications. Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," (Soft Skull press) is available for pre-order here. She is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
IMPORTANT: the official Our Town site doesn't support comments. Join in the conversation by following and Sarah on Twitter: @SarahTerez


If you’re a Chicagoan who likes to shop than no doubt you’ve heard of the Randolph Street Market. Created in 2004 by former party planner Sally Schwartz, the event has even attracted the likes of Oprah darling Nate Berkus. Our Town spoke with Schwartz about the Market’s inception, current incarnation, and because we here at Our Town are fashion impaired, snagged some style tips as well.

Our Town When you started what was originally known as Chicago Antique Market, did you have any inkling of what it would become?
Sally Schwartz I knew it was a big idea but I didn't actually think I'd still be doing it eight years later, thought I would be on my yacht having cornered the market in some rare item I'd stumbled across. Honestly, it's so much fun I can't imagine doing anything else and feel very blessed that it's been so well received.

OT Randolph Street Market has been described as an urban street party rather than a traditional flea market. What goes into cultivating that atmosphere?
SS I always wanted this event to feel safe and be a safe place to transact business so the vendors are hand picked and screened. Because it's a two-day show, everyone gets to relax and have fun. Throw in the alcohol and people are loose and enjoying life. It's our cool vendors, many of whom camp out onsite, that make the event such a joy for the customers. We also have lots of big cops, Chicago's finest, as bouncers making sure everyone behaves. Chicago is such a unique place, even in the world of big cities, and the Randolph Street Market reflects it, a little wacky, a lot of quality.

OT Haggling at RSM, distasteful or necessary?
SS Haggling is just part of the game and the fun! Though many of our vendors report that they love our market so much because lots of the customers never beat them down in price at all. They think our Chicago customers are so fun and polite and appreciative. And apparently, that's unusual in the world of flea marketing!

OT What was it like to receive a mention from Oprah darling Nate Berkus?
SS I was totally thrilled the first time I saw Nate wandering about. I knew he would shout it from the rooftops. It's incredibly validating to have people with the means to travel anywhere and buy anything tell you how much they love what they see and buy at the Randolph Street Market.

OT This weekend you’re hosting pool parties and a photography competition.
SS The pool party is part of the high jinx, we fill kiddie pools and put lawn chairs around them and VOILA! Pool party! It keeps everyone cool in spirit and gives the pups a place to drink and romp. The first annual Vintage Vernacular & Street Style photo contest is another way for us to get our audience participating and using the market as a backdrop. There are so many fabulous photo ops and we just can't capture them all so we invite our attendees to try their hands at creating permanent memories.


When it comes to jewelry, designer Erin Gordon knows what she likes, and happily, Chicago likes it too. A New York transplant, Gordon began her line of jewelry as a hobby, but by 2009, she was selling her signature semi-precious gemstone charm bracelets direct to customers and at Sarca, a Gold Coast boutique. Demand escalated, however, and in response, Gordon is launching an e-commerce site, allowing her growing customer base to shop at their convenience. Gordon spoke with Our Town about her favorite designs, her new men’s line and the style-setter she hopes will be Bah-nanas over her work.

Our Town What’s the first piece of jewelry you remember owning?
Erin Gordon When I was very young, my grandparents had a ring made with my birthstone and diamonds for me to wear when it was time for my Bat Mitzvah.

OT What inspires you?
EG So many things, from friends, family and favorite quotes, to fashion, colors, prints, fabrics, art and photography.

OT Which of your designs are you most excited about right now?
EG I recently launched a brand new Luxe Line which will be available on my website in April. With the Luxe Line, I am using luxury gemstones like Malachite, Leopard Skin Agate and Cloudy Quartz with rose gold and rondelle crystal ball accents. The Luxe Line can either be worn alone or mixed in with bracelets from my core collection to add a little extra sparkle.

OT What would you say to others interested in making their hobby a business?
EG I am so lucky I was able to turn my passion for jewelry design into a business. It’s definitely been a learning experience over the past year but if you truly love what you do, it’s worth all of the hard work and dedication it requires to be successful.

OT You’re known for your charm bracelets, a retro concept. However, your take seems current. How do you achieve a look both modern and vintage?
EG When I initially launched my jewelry line, I focused on creating one-of-a-kind pieces using vintage brooches and charms mixed with new gemstones. With the popularity of my vintage pieces, I expanded my collection with signature bracelets that reflect a modern take on a charm bracelet using vibrant gemstones and edgy charms like skulls, Buddha’s, peace signs and feathers.

Photo by Andrew Nawrocki

Fashionable people astound me. Whereas others roll out of bed and into the perfect skinny jeans/plaid shirt/mussed cardigan/Converse combo, when assembling an outfit, I apply the sort of concentration normally associated with defusing a bomb, and still wind up realizing hours into my day that what seemed fresh and daring in my early morning mirror actually makes me look like I was styled by an Olson twin and K.D. Lang, each drunk and angry. Plus I almost always forget to brush my hair.

Amy Creyer faces none of these problems. Currently a DePaul graduate student studying the role of public policy in the fashion and apparel industries, Creyer eats sleeps and breathes fashion. As the owner of, a website dedicated to providing high quality street style photographs, Creyer captures Chicago’s most fashionable perambulators. A self-taught photographer, Creyer’s influence is two-fold. Not only does she showcase cresting styles, but by virtue of what she chooses to photograph, she also shapes trends.

Our Town First off, what are you wearing right now?
Amy Creyer My Proenza Schouler for J. Brand paint-splattered jeans, Erin Gordon for Sarca bracelets, a Graham & Spencer top, my black leather Chucks, and a Giorgio Brato leather jacket.

OT You grew up in Greenwich. Style-wise, how is NYC different than Chicago?
AC In New York, people are very concerned with wearing the right brands or the hottest designers. You see a lot of clothing straight off the runway. I love to photograph and wear designer clothing, but I find the authenticity in Chicago far more interesting. There is an organic and authentic development of personal style in Chicago that I think is directly related to the absence of a strongly entrenched fashion establishment.

OT Describe your website’s genesis.
AC I was the little girl who always wore dresses to run around the playground. My website is the culmination of my lifelong love of fashion and decade long obsession with street style. Every aspect of being a street style photographer, from stopping random people on the street to using social media to connect with my followers, came naturally to me.

OT How do you choose and reel in potential subjects?
AC I constantly scan my surroundings for anything unusual; perhaps a woman's unique hairstyle or the way a man tied his scarf. Sometimes there's skepticism, but I always cut through with my charm. As the art form becomes more popular, individuals are excited about getting stopped for a photo, and I am definitely seeing stronger style on the streets as a result.

OT Do you shoot daily?
AC [Initially] I had too many experiences where, grocery shopping or running errands, I saw someone I would have loved to photograph. Now, I'm always armed with my Olympus PEN and prepared to capture a subject to share with my readers.

OT You study the role of social media in fashion marketing. What role do bloggers play?
AC Bloggers are essentially innovators and trendsetters, early adopters in marketing terminology. These people hold considerable influence over their networks, and social media has dramatically increased that sphere of influence. Before the rise of blogging a trendsetter like Tavi Gevinson would have been limited to influencing people in her local community, but with the Internet she can set trends across the world. Her sway in the fashion industry stems from her authenticity as a consumer, which is extremely valuable to a brand. I'm really interested in how brands build relationships with bloggers and the role of authenticity in those partnerships.


In my defense, it’s been a slow month. With the Christmas tree in the alley and the New Year’s champagne gone flat in the fridge, now begins the sluggish slog toward spring. Not even toward, a word denoting purposeful speed. Rather, vaguely in the direction of while wearing boots so heavy they seem dipped in concrete and a thick coat that obscures sight and sound; layers of clothing which, when removed compel friends to comment,
“Wow, you’re way thinner than you look.”
To which I respond, “I’m sorry, I can’t hear when my glasses are fogged up.” True and strange.

Amidst such aggravation, the smallest events give one a thrill. To whit: a week or so back, I received an e-mail, subject line: “Horchata Revolution !!!” Apparently a new type of Horchata is scheduled to hit Chicago in late January, but I’d been selected to take a sneak peak. This is just the sort of glamorous perk you too can anticipate should all of your blogging dreams come true. Who am I kidding? I was instantly psyched; my correspondent had me at Horchata. The three exclamation marks didn’t hurt either; I admire a man who’s emphatic about his ethnic beverages. Though I took a moment to ponder the ethics of accepting his offer to send me a product sample, in the end, moral integrity isn’t my strong suit, at least not in below zero weather when I’ve exhausted every card game I know. Besides, can something made of rice really count as a bribe?

Fast forward to yesterday when an ottoman-size package arrived. Inside amidst a serious quantity of Styrofoam, were three oversize cans. (I’ve helpfully included a photo if you cannot envision this. The down-the-shirt-shot is unintentional; I looked like a cantankerous rhesus monkey in every other picture.) Inside the cans was…liquid rice pudding, and I mean that in the most delicious way possible. Seriously. I just had to take a break from blogging and have another sip.

Get Inked

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Who doesn’t want to go into business for herself? No more nitpicking boss, no more boring spreadsheets, no more coworkers microwaving fish so the whole office smells like the penguin pond at the zoo.

Former architects and current spouses Amanda Eich and Tony Vassallo began living everyone’s fantasy a few years back when they ditched unfulfilling jobs to form Spilled Ink Press. What started as a one-time gig making wedding invitations for a friend became a burgeoning green business boasting not only invitations and stationary, but several lines of cards coming soon to a Target Store near you.

Our Town How did you arrive at your company’s name?
Amanda Eich Seven years ago, [when I did an] invitation job for friends, I thought it would be fun to design a logo to put on the back. I was thinking something “ink”, and asked myself, what would I do with a bottle of ink? The answer was obvious; I’d spill it.

OT What real life experiences have inspired designs?
AE After we got rolling with wedding invitations, we started designing greeting cards based on the life of someone working in corporate America. The original “Daily Grind” line of cards came from ridiculous situations we laughed about on our lunch breaks. An original office humor cards says, “The key to a happy work day is apathy.” Tony used to tell me that when I would get upset about how I was treated at the office.



I’m old enough to remember when the Lucite columns of floating Barbie shoes at FAO Schwartz were shockingly innovative. Now, with the old warhorse bankrupt and shuttered, we’re on to Toy Store 2.0; the first redesigned Disney Store in the Midwest, opening today in the Loop at the Block 37 Shops on North State Street. Seemingly a theme park-meets-iPhone application, if The Disney Store were a teenager, it would play soccer, do gymnastics, sing in choir and take gourmet-cooking classes – and that’s only on Tuesdays.

“Baby,” its mother would say, “You can’t be everything to everyone. You just gotta be yourself.”

“But mommy,” blond, dimpled Disney Store would confide, “I don’t know who that is anymore!” And… Scene.


Oktoberfest & Pumpkin Beer Festival
5 p.m. at Delilah’s; free
What better way to celebrate the beginning of autumn than with some pumpkin beer? This tasting claims to have “every possible version” of pumpkin beer around, with tasting portions, full pours or complete samplings available.

Shecky’s Girls Night Out
5 p.m. at Union Station; $20-$30
Take the girls and shop from local and national apparel vendors while you sip complimentary cocktails. There will also be plenty of raffles and trivia contests for this ladies-only event.

Soul Summit Dance Party
9 p.m. at Double Door; free
Get your dance on at this swingin’ monthly event as DJ Meaty Ogre spins soul classics sure to make you move your feet.


Sarah Terez Rosenblum (@SarahTerez) is an MFA-holding writer, teacher and Spinning instructor. She's also the Theater Listings Editor for Centerstage Chicago. Look for her posts twice a week.

A former friend once met me for coffee in Andersonville. Glancing up from his dirty Chai, spiked from a flask stashed in his Chrome bag, he snarled, “It’s like Norman Rockwell threw up out there.”

This friend “lived” in Bucktown. I ensnare the word in quotations because his apartment, though hardwood-floored and sunlit, seemed inhabited by meth-addicted ferrets, impossible to do more there than subsist.

While not hip enough for everyone, Andersonville meets every need on my checklist:

3 Things To Do Today

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Chicago Sidewalk Sale
9 a.m.-3 p.m. today and tomorrow at Daley Plaza; free
Shop from dozens of local stores for clothing, jewelry and accessories as the downtown event marks its fourth year.

Classic TV Re-Runs!
7:30 p.m. at Mary’s Attic; $10
Watch live interpretations of classic TV shows at this monthly series in Uptown. This month features animation domination, including “The Simpsons,” “South Park,” “Family Guy” and “Beavis and Butthead.”

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
9 p.m. at Lincoln Hall; $12-$14
LA-based lo-fi mad scientist Ariel "Pink" Rosenberg will play just about anything (armpit, mouthed drum bits, etc.) to get the right sound – which should make a rather interesting live show. Fellow Tinsel Towner Puro Instinct and Memphis’ Magic Kids open.

There's still some time to RSVP to tonight's Fashion Against AIDS launch party, taking place at the Michigan Avenue H&M store (840 N. Michigan) from 7-10 p.m. Reply on the event Facebook page for your chance at an invite to an evening full of music, food and drinks...not to mention 20 percent off store purchases.

Looks like you can hold off on that tea party for another week, luxury shoppers.

This Saturday, Sunday and Monday, The 900 Shops on Michigan Avenue is offering you a break from Chicago's typically crippling 10.25-percent sales tax by discounting all items -- including those on sale -- by the same amount. Participating retailers include Michael Kors, J. Crew, MaxMara, Montblanc, DNA 2010, Club Monaco, Adidas, L'Occitane, Charles David, Original Penguin, Solstice Sunglass Boutique, Oiliy, Bernardaud, Mark Shale, United Colors of Benetton, Galt Toys, Mario Tricoci, Christofle, Sermoneta Gloves and more. The daily parking rate will also be reduced to $10, so it'll be easy to haul away all those bags.

There's just one catch: you have to present an access pass to get your discount, available online or at the concierge desks on levels 1 and 6.

What's changed in the last 20 years? Find out at Friday's Fresh Fest.

Fresh Fest
8 p.m. Friday at Arie Crown Theater; $40-$72.50
If you came of age in the '90s, this is pretty much a dream concert bill. Salt 'n' Pepa, Biz Markie, Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh and Whodini will bring it back to the glory days of rap in a marathon show.

Don't be alarmed if you see something like this on Michigan Avenue on Friday.

Jimmy Kuehnle's Inflatable Suit Tour
Noon Friday at Grant Park; free
Looking to add a little weird to your weekend? Check out this Michigan-based "performance artist" known for wearable inflatable suits during his public shows. will make performance treks through the city. We're not sure how else to describe the show, other than a guy in a big inflatable suit walking down the street and talking to people. Yeah, you probably have to see this one to believe it.

Mickey Mouse leads the holiday procession on Saturday.

Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
All day Saturday along the Magnificent Mile; free
Let the holiday season begin! Mickey Mouse leads the parade of floats down Michigan Avenue as more than 1 million lights are illuminated to kick off the season. There will be music all day at the Harris Stage (401 N. Michigan Ave.) including Plain White T's at 3 p.m. There's also a fireworks display over the river starting at 7 p.m.
Need some help getting into the holiday spirit? Check out our holiday guide.

Wine, women and shoes: everyone likes at least one of these things. Come October 1, you can get them all at UNICEF's fourth annual fundraiser.

Held at the River East Art Center (435 E. Illinois), the $85/head event includes sales of designer shoes, handbags, jewelery and accessories from nationally known boutiques (including locals Akira, Lori's Shoes and Shirise), samples of fine wines (including Alexander Valley Vineyards and Two Angels), a raffle and a silent auction.

Proceeds will benefit UNICEF’s Accelerated Child Survival Initiative, a program that helps to reduce the number of children who die each day of preventable causes. Want tickets? Go here.

The NFL season doesn’t start for another week. But if you’re already sick of football, take advantage of the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago “Getaway from the Gridiron Package,” available starting Sept. 13 (Bears opener) through Super Bowl Sunday. The $175 package includes a 55-minute massage, a spa lunch (read: no beer or brats), a pool/fitness club passport and a free make-up application session at Bloomingdale’s.

Might as well relax a bit. It’s gonna be a loooong season.

Make a reservation at (312) 649-2340.

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