Stopped in My Tracks by Raquel Masri

I have tried and failed to write about Renegade for more than a week now. And, when it comes down to it, I think that I have buyer’s fatigue. I left the fair with only two purchases, even though I saw many, many other items that I’d love to own. I’m at a point now, though, that I really need to think carefully about new purchases. Can I envision a place for them
right this second in my home? Are they useful in addition to beautiful. I really can’t handle any more “stuff” in my little condo.

One booth that I ultimately walked away from is stored for a very special purchase. When I got married, I registered for new plateware and the like, but not for many serving pieces. I only asked for two Nambe pieces, which I happily received.

Nearly all the serving pieces in my house have been gifted to us. And, while I like all of it, most do not go with our cream plates and lilac dining room walls. So I’m trying to pick up pieces here and there that better express my (and my hubby’s of course) style. I don’t feel the need to match pieces, but I do want to have a clear vision of how they’ll look with what we
have, as well as what I’ll serve in them.

After thinking about this for a few months now, I literally stopped in my tracks when I walked by Raquel Masri’s booth. I had the most wonderful conversation with Raquel and her husband and decided that I would work with Raquel to design a custom serving piece (she’s very open to that)…this is the first time I’ll be doing that. I’m so excited!

Let’s take a peek at some of the items in Raquel’s Etsy shop.

Raquel Masri

Not only does Raquel make these lovely dishes and trays, but she was featured alongside her daughter on The Storque.  Creativity runs deep in their family, and it turns out her daughter Sophia is equally talented…

Sofia Masri

And, as if that weren’t enough eye candy for one day, Raquel has a second shop with the most amazing porcelain buttons. They’re pricey, but would add such a wonderful statement to a simple dress. When my sewing skills improve a bit, you better bet I’m going to buy some of these buttons for a project.



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.