Monthly Archives: December 2017

Chicago’s Bucktown and Its Shops

I was told, “Go to Bucktown, it’s an exciting place in Chicago.” On that advice, I took the blue line, four stops and fifteen minutes from the Loop, the elevated subway line that circles the downtown center, and I was in that massively renovated neighborhood. Bucktown is a small neighborhood in the eastern section of Logan Park. It has been transformed from a run-down bedroom community into a lively urban area with art galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and bars.

As we neared my stop at Damen and North, the backsides of buildings began to sport weathered mural advertisements and gritty neon signs for what lay behind their walls–Myopic Books, Reckless Records, Double Door Liquors, Barry’s Cut-Rate Drugs.

The foot traffic below proved my intuition correct. Felt hats and old bikes abound on this three-way crossroads of Damen, North, and Milwaukee Streets. This intersection is a no-man’s-land between the long since revitalized Wicker Park and the quickly-catching-up Bucktown, guidebooks and even locals frequently mix the two together.

Milwaukee Avenue is a study in new urban development. Corporate stores like Urban Outfitters and G-Star Raw are wedged among the lingering vestiges of the neighborhood’s lower-middle-class roots (Central Furniture Mart, with its OG neon marquee announcing the neighborhood’s lowest prices), the ancient establishments who have aptly capitalized on their old-school cachet (Hollywood Cleaners has a playful yet sophisticated mural on its outer wall, where I saw natives practicing parkour; they also boast about their Twitter account), and the forward-thinkers whose claim-stake in the neighborhood launched its identity as a enclave for artists and the artsy. The Flat-Iron Arts building was bought and repurposed as an artists’ community back in 1985, and has hosted weekly open houses ever since.

The onslaught of coolness left me breathless with intimidation, and desperate for the comfort of oral fixation. Accordingly, I ducked into the nearest coffee shop.

You know it’s a friendly town when even the anti-mainstream local hipsters cheerfully offer you the remaining chair at their communal table. This is what happened to me at the Wormhole (1462 N. Milwaukee between Honore and Evergreen), a deeply set and dimly lit cafe that, on a Saturday morning, was illuminated by Macbooks and warmed by the intellectual chatter of patrons wedged cheek-by-bearded-jowl into the low velour couches.

1980s adolescence is the decor theme here. The bar, skillfully tended by baristas (who are meditative, rather than sullen), is crowned by a collection of novelty lunchboxes. A battered silver DeLorean hovers like a precipitous benison over the back of the room. Even the drinks are named after the decade’s screen icons, though their ingredients are entirely up-to-date: the Koopa Troopa boasts peanut butter and local honey, while the Harrison Gourd is composed of two espresso shots and sweet potato whipped cream.

After waiting the advised three minutes for my ginger tea to steep, I venture out and immediately into Store B (1472 N. Milwaukee at Honore). A dainty set of juice glasses embossed with the rules of canasta catches my eye, and cautions me against making any sudden moves. Caretakers of small children are advised to put off a visit to Store B until you have some alone time, and not only because of the potential for vintage breakage. You’ll want plenty of time to search the racks of 50s-era dresses and beautifully preserved fur coats, or simply to watch as the owner practices his craft of restorative millinery right in front of you.

While most of Milwaukee Avenue’s vintage clothing stores carry a little of everything, each has a designated specialty. US #1 Vintage Clothing (1460 N. Milwaukee between Honore and Evergreen displays a patinaed rainbow of leather boots in the twin plate-glass windows flanking its front door. The shoes here are well broken-in works of art. Even if vintage Americana weren’t the current comment il faut, you’d want to redesign your entire sartorial aesthetic around these boots.

I found an ankle-high pair that boasted two cut-out tulips on a creamy white background overlaid on dark red. The store attendants work in a rare mix of high accommodation and low pressure; their approach speaks again to the native Chicago confidence that even if you’ll leave, you’ll know you ought to have stayed. Meanwhile, the owner works like a Trappist monk in the sunlight filtered through the plate-glass window, while a long-haired shepherd dog of impressive proportions sleeps on a flannel blanket, under a sign that says “Hi my name is Kohl. I am cool and handsome. Please don’t bother me.”

Although I was overwhelmed with clothes shopping, and there was plenty more to pick through.

Myopic Books (1564 N. Milwaukee at Damen Avenue) is a used bookstore of the first water, with stacks pleasantly maze-like but just orderly enough to prevent overwhelm. Even better than the store’s deep and wide selection was finding it quite busy on a Saturday morning; each aisle sheltered at least one of the stylish unwashed curled up against a shelf, absorbed in a yellowed page.

Reckless Records (1532 N. Milwaukee between North, Damen and N. Honore) is proportionately satisfying as a record shop, that possibly even more endangered institution. Youngsters reveling in their sullenness flipped through the catalogues for the rare and out-of-print releases that continue to build the shop’s reputation.

And Rudy’s Roundup (1410 N. Milwaukee between Evergreen and Wolcott) is a gleefully curated collection of kitsch-some old, but mostly new made to look old. At this self-proclaimed “modern day general store,” you can find vintage teen magazines, books and knick-knacks nestled among the locally crafted jewelry, paper goods, and cheaply priced Wayfarers and cat-eyes.

Visiting the neighborhood early in the day proved no impediment to drinking-nearly all the bars on Milwaukee Avenue, and there are many, were open for brunch. (Even if brunch was just a pint of Half Acre and a Cubs game on TV.) I had time for only one, but my exhaustive research with the locals yielded the following notes for future reference:

If you like a little dive with your craft beer, try Pint (1547 Milwaukee, between North and Honore); for a slight step up, Bar Bar Black Sheep (1415 N. Milwaukee between Evergreen and Wolcott) serves high-minded food with its nicely curated wine list. If a true dive is more your thing, look no further than the Beachwood Inn (1415 N. Wood Street at Beach), a neighborhood stand-by with jukebox, cartoons on the TV, and a host of locals.

For the opposite end of the spectrum, try the newly opened Savoy (1408 N. Milwaukee between Evergreen and Honore) or Cafe Absinthe (1954 W. North at Milwaukee), both of whose cocktail menus are designed around the recent lifting of the ban off the green fairy.

But if all you’re really after is a good crowd and a game of pinball, the Emporium Arcade Bar (1366 N. Milwaukee at Wood) is your match made in heaven. Its comprehensive array of classic arcade games is rivaled only by its liquor selection.

And if crowds are what you need to know you’re in the right place, join the line at the Bongo Room (1470 N. Milwaukee at Honore) and bait your impatience with the Damoclean decision among their inventive pancakes, such as Raspberry Oreo or Lemon, Ricotta and Cherry. Regardless of your choice, you’d be well advised to down another cup of coffee before you get on the train back to the Loop, or you’re liable to sleep right through your stop.

Fashion Accessories

We start on the premise that you’ve got your clothes wardrobe right. Now you need to match your accessories to complete the look.

Let’s start with shoes. Before you start worrying about the latest fashion, think of your preferred style because anything that you can pull off well is great fashion. And this applies to shoes the most since shoes are directly related to comfort. For instance, if you are not comfortable with stilettos there’s no point wearing them just for the sake of fashion. Once you decide what you would be comfortable in the most – think of the style that matches your dress. You should not choose to wear handcrafted booties with a chic A-line dress or any other combination as weird as that.

After shoes the most important fashion accessory affecting your look is your jewellery. Wear matching jewellery with every dress. The concept of your momma-gifted-gold-jewellery is so passé. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still great for keepsakes and looks great when worn on an occasion that calls for it, but you just cannot wear the same earrings daily with every dress. That’s so not fair. Anyways, when it comes to jewellery follow the golden rule – your jewellery cannot be more or less – it needs to be just right. For instance, avoid a necklace with chandelier earrings to keep away from too dressy. Or a ridiculously oversized ring and chandelier earrings might be the only jewellry you wear or something else completely. The trick is your jewellery needs to compliment your overall look and not steal the show. And remember gaudy is not always classy.

Then come to your hand bag. Not many of us consider a hand bag as a fashion accessory but there’s where we have been wrong. Right? I mean while as a woman I feel almost naked without a bag, I also need to realize that my hand bag would add to my overall look. Look for a handbag that’s the latest in trend. For instance the current trend is oversized hand bags. Go grab one. Have at least 2-3 hand bags in different styles for your daily use. And be sure you change your bag to match your style.

Then there are things like glares, scarves, belts etc. that you can match with your dress.

Wholesale Body Jewelry

If you are a body jewelry enthusiast, you are not alone. There are millions around the world who have been enamored by this body art form that allows them to express their individuality and also an opportunity to wear ornaments on their body parts. Wearing traditional jewelry is one thing, but to get your body part pierced to be able to wear a specially designed jewelry item on that body part is an altogether different feeling. This is one painful pleasure that only those who undergo it can understand. As far as buying body jewelry is concerned, you are always better off with a wholesale jewelry shop rather than with a general shop selling all sorts of jewelry items.

Emergence of wholesale shops has attracted more people to this body art
The craze of jewelry among the young generation is something that has to be seen to believe. A big role in popularizing this unique way of adorning body parts has been played by Hollywood celebrities and other prominent personalities from the world of sports. The number of teenagers donning jewelry items after watching their screen idols do the same has gone up exponentially in the last few years. However, the easy availability of professional piercers and the increasing numbers of wholesale shop has also played its part in popularizing this way of expressing oneself.

Body jewelry is quite different from traditional jewelry. These jewelry items are not worn for their rarity or value but because they give a chance to the individual to look and feel different. Of course you look distinct and different from others but also more beautiful in a unique way. Body jewelry is also different in the sense that you undergo piercing of your body part to be able to wear a special jewelry item in that part. This makes it all the more pleasurable and satisfying for you though you need to exercise caution in your selection of jewelry items as there is always a chance of catching an infection with body jewellery items.

You are assured of quality at wholesale jewelry shop
This is the reason why body jewelry enthusiasts prefer to buy these items from reputable shops and wholesalers as they get not only better quality but also jewelry items at affordable prices. Though prices of body jewelry items have come down quite a bit in the last few years, they are still costly because of the fact that manufacturers keep up their quality to ensure they do not pose any health hazard to the wearer. If you are a lover of body jewelry, you will always prefer to pay a few bucks extra to get optimum quality and protection from health hazard rather than saving a few bucks but exposing you to a higher risk of infection. However, your fears get allayed when you are buying from a wholesaler as you are assured of not just the quality of these items but also of their low price.

Nickel is one material that was once very popular and commonly used material for making body jewelry items. However, high number of users reporting infections because of coming in contact with nickel after body piercing has cast a shadow on the popularity of this material and emergence of titanium and surgical grade stainless steel as alternatives to manufacture body jewelry.

Shopping for Jewelry and Diamonds

Shopping for jewelry and diamonds is one the most enjoyable pastimes for not only women, but men who are in love with women. The internet offers you the ability to shop for hundreds of thousands of pieces that would take you days, even months to look at in a jewelry store. The choices are everything from simple post earrings with diamonds to fabulous custom designed jewelry from artists around the world.

There are beautiful pieces with opals, garnets, rubies, diamonds, pearls, lapis and every precious stone you can think of. The settings are as unique and varied as the artists themselves. There are different metals used in jewelry today that are both stunning and practical. Palladium and platinum have taken a new place in respect to jewelry metals. They’re beautiful and resist oxidation. Set with your favorite diamond or other stone, you have a keepsake for life.

Jewelry shopping is one very convenient way to search for your favorite jewelry. There are so many merchants offering their own unique designs and settings. You can comparison shop as well, finding the best pieces that are in your budget yet high quality merchandise.

One of the greatest opportunities with shopping online for jewelry is the wide array of watches in absolutely incredible designs. Both men’s and women’s watches are truly pieces of jewelry that look striking during the day and with evening wear. Many of them include diamonds either in the watch settings or on the bands themselves. Different metals or stones or faces create sizzling designs for every taste.

Bracelets are always a woman’s favorite and the newest designs delight every woman who receives one (or gives it to herself because she so deserves them!). There are beautiful sparkling diamond bracelets, sterling silver and gold charm bracelets, beaded sterling and gold bracelets, heart bracelets in gold, sterling or platinum, pearl bracelets in one, two or three strands, cuff bracelets in an array of dazzling metals, combinations of rolled and twined precious metal single strand bracelets as well as gorgeous mesh bracelets in gold and silver.

Diamond pendants and earrings are still a girl’s best friend. The elegant chains and settings create a wonderful backdrop for uniquely cut diamonds. You can also find diamonds in heart shapes that create the entire necklace creating beauty and romance at the same time. Any woman who wears diamonds looks sophisticated, chic and elegant. Shopping for your perfect diamond pieces is so easy online that you might have a difficult time deciding on exactly what’s right for you. Of course, you can always buy more than one!

Of course birthstone jewelry is always a hit and most merchants offer a wide array of birthstones set in necklaces, earrings, rings and bracelets. The stones are simply spectacular and make you feel grand every time your wear them.

Shops For Collectable Jewelry Considered

Finding pristine pieces of collectable jewelry takes a lot of patience and a bit of knowledge. That means it takes some experience and observational talents that must be developed over time. Some folks like to peruse the online ads on eBay, Craigslist and such to find collectable jewelry, but you better make sure you know what you are buying and that the picture displayed is crisp and the actual digital shot of the item that is for sale.

It’s starting to sound a little dangerous buying stuff online or at online auctions isn’t it? Sure it is, so beware. Still, a talented shopper can find some super deals online, again, with patience, knowledge and knowing exactly which questions to ask, before they send the electronic payments to the seller. May I be so bold as to offer some advice on shopping for collectable jewelry another way, using the “what you see, is really what you get method?”

Why not go into a nicer area and check out the Pawn Shops? Right now with the economy in the tank, many folks have hocked their collectable jewelry to get quick cash to stay in their homes, pay their mortgages, or get money to stay out of bankruptcy. With job losses increasing at the bottom of the recession, there is quite the supply available.

If you have collectable jewelry and you take it to a Pawn Shop do not expect to get much for it, it’s too risky and many Pawn Shops will not give you much for it, as there is no definite market and its value is so hard to judge. There is a market for some specific top end brands like Rolex Watches, but for the most part collectable jewelry is not so easy to Pawn.

Turks and Caicos Shopping

Why should you consider Turks and Caicos Shopping? No Taxes.

During your next vacation to this delightful archipelago in the Caribbean, you can make some guilt-free purchases and support the local economy without paying sales and luxury taxes! Many locations even advertise their duty-free prices to American and Canadian visitors. The Grace Bay side of Providenciales has numerous boutiques at Caicos Café Plaza, La Petite Place, Regent Village and The Saltmills. The main shopping centers on the island are Ports of Call, Market Place, and Central Square.

If your stay in Turks and Caicos exceeds two days and you’re a U.S. citizen, you can return home with purchases valued up to $800 per person and not pay duties. If you stay less than 48 hours, you can return with $200 worth of duty-free purchases per traveler.

The rules for Canadians differ slightly. After a seven-day vacation they can return with duty-free purchases of up to $750 per person, and $400 per person after a two-day excursion. But be sure to check with customs to confirm because these numbers could change at any time.

Want to find unique island art? Local crafts? Caribbean fashion? Here are suggestions for your next Turks and Caicos shopping excursion.

Most stores offer arts and crafts with island and nature themes. Shoppers can find original art at the The Bamboo Art Gallery, located at Caicos Café Plaza and open five days a week. For household décor or fashion items, check out Shell Shack on Grand Turks. Greensleeves in Central Square sells unique local cottage crafts and offers a framing service for Turks and Caicos art and prints.

Daphne’s Native Gift Shop in South Caicos, Bottle Creek in North Caicos, and the Middle Caicos Cooperative on, you guessed it, Middle Caicos, showcase handmade crafts such as jewelry, bags, hats, and paintings. Royal Jewels offers a wide selection of perfumes, cosmetics, jewelry, watches, leather goods, and crystal.

If you find yourself at Caicos Café Plaza, you should visit Codaacos Boutique for European resort wear. Nearby, Maison Creole sells Haitian crafts, painting, and antique furniture, along with other Caribbean crafts and baskets from South Africa.

Every visitor to Turks and Caicos will need food, drinks, and toiletries-sundries. Listed below are some places to find these vital items. Graceway IGA on Providenciales is the premier supermarket for all your food, drink, and necessities.

Other grocery stores include Cox Lewis and Seaview Dry Goods Store on Stubbs Road, Island Pride Supermarket in Downtown Providenciales, Quality Supermarket on Leeward Highway, and Sarah’s Shopping Center on Frith Street Back Salina.

For local books, newspapers, and travel guides, try the Unicorn Bookstore in the downtown Market Place. This great little shop has a good selection of local history books, guides, and maps, in addition to newspapers, magazines, and children’s books.

What’s a vacation without a little booze and tobacco? If you want to purchase some fine wine or liquor, visit Discount Liquors and Wine Cellar where you can also find beer, soda, and juices. Shalimar specializes in Cuban, Dominican, Jamaican cigars, and Lucayan rum, but you may also be interested in locally crafted dolls, t-shirts, and other mementos.

Watches Shopping Guide

Luxury watches are definitely more than just useful items. They add pizazz and drama to your appearance. They can even be likened to jewelry and can make people stare in appreciation. Because of their high prices, some buy luxury watches as a form of investment. The problem with this is that, in this day and age, it is becoming more and more difficult to tell whether a watch is fake or not. The advances in science and technology has made it easy to duplicate watches even from acclaimed makers such as Vacheron, Rolex, or Cartier. If you do not want to let your hard-earned money go to waste, then read about some tips and tricks in detecting a fake watch below.

1.Check Your Sources

Internet shopping is easy and convenient, but it can also lead to many botched deals. If you plan to buy online, make sure that your dealer is credible. Find out more details about the items that he is selling. Even if you are buying from a store or boutique, it is still recommended that you check if they are authorized dealers of the watches or not.

2.More Than Just the Looks

Fake watches are often badly produced. This means that the colors are sometimes off or the brand names are incorrectly spelled. However, there are fake watches that are almost exactly the same as the original. That is why taking them at face value can be disastrous for you. What you can do is check if the watch has the functions that the original has. For example, fake watches rarely have functioning chronographs or even have helium-relief valves.

3.Doubt the Discounts

If a dealer offers a luxury watch for half the original price or less, most likely, the watch is a reproduction. Luxury watches rarely depreciate in value, since most are considered jewelry items. Discounts are possible, but it’s highly improbable for luxury watches to be sold with more than 5 to 10 percent off its original price.

 Do Your Research

If you have been keeping an eye on a certain luxury watch, check its details from the manufacturers’ catalogs first. Familiarize yourself with all the intricacies of the watch. This way, when you find a dealer or shop that sells the watch, you will be able to tell if it is fake or not.