Rediscovering the Shops on North Damen

I’m more inclined to do my shopping on Division or outside of my hood than the mini-mall that is Damen Avenue.  The street has some real gems, but I don’t have any interest in stopping into BCBG, and I can’t afford Marc Jacobs.

That is, until last Thursday. I had a magical trip of wonders that forced me to rethink my stand against Damen.

It all started when my friend announced she was moving to NYC.  She’s not too thrilled about the move, and I wanted to pick up something she could put on her desk that would make her smile.

And in the back of my head, I was thinking about perhaps jumping on the bus to go to The Needle Shop.

I could ramble on and on about this magical trip, but I’ll try to limit myself to say this – as I walked past Damen, the bus came by and I got on it.  And then I discovered two new shops, spent way too much time in The Needle Shop and Olivia’s Market, and met some wonderful people.

My first stop was directly in front of the bus stop that I exited. I nearly walked past, and I am so glad that I did not.

Take a look at the loveliness that is the Painted Lady.

Painted Lady

Then, I made my way to The Needle Shop. For any local sewers that haven’t been there…well go! I’ve taken three classes, and the ladies in the shop are so helpful. They even let me linger past closing, so I could feel unrushed in making my fabric choice.

Needle Shop

Next up was Virtu.  As if the store isn’t already perfectly curated, the owner is wonderful. And she’s involved in the 3/50 Project, so we had a nice long chat. Go already!


I can’t possibly say enough kind words about the ladies that own and work in these three shops. After making purchases in all three, I definitely did my part for local business on this jaunt up north Damen. (ahem – two out of three purchases were gifts)

*All images taken from shop Web sites.

Our City. Our Neighborhood.

Even though I’ve lived in the Chicago area for most of my life, and the city proper for the last five (six?) years, the city’s sights still make my heart beat a bit faster.  I work quite hard at not taking my slice of the city for granted and am constantly adding new twists and turns to the evening walks I take with my hubby, because I don’t want to lose the feeling I had just before I was able to move into it.  When driving into Chicago, especially from the south where the skyline is more pronounced, would make my mouth curl into a smile and my mood lighten.

My only regret (for lack of a better word) is that I don’t live within walking distance from the lake.  That’s why I hung this screen print across from my bed, so I can always see the stormy blue that has become such a calming influence in my life.

passing storm

If I didn’t live in Chicago, I’d have to buy even more of Hiroshi Ariyama’s prints.  I know there are quite a few artists who offer similar work, but Ariyama’s prints capture the mood of the city better than most.  It’s incredibly difficult to select just a few favorites, because every print invokes a different memory.  I’m being an insufferable sap, but that’s ok every now and again, right?



chicago river
morton salt

Ariyama shows at quite a few of the city’s art festivals and also sells on Etsy.

A Change of Pace: Jay Long’s Mixed Media

In my last post, I mentioned that I was underwhelmed by the Old Town Art Fair.  While this remains true, I always manage to find one or two artists at each show that are truly special.

Jay Long was one of them.  He paints in a style that I don’t often find myself drawn too, but the work is simultaneously whimsical and haunting.  Quite a feat!




Dreaming Child Jay Long

According to his bio, Long was a punk rocker in the 80’s.  Perhaps that’s why I like his work so much.

There’s much, much more on his site.