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Here is a collection of favorite items from my hubby and my Etsy hearts! The following are the perfect gifts for the discriminating green gentleman. Many of the items featured below can even be found locally – should you fear last-minute online shopping.

1) No Bottle Shampoo & Conditioner Pack by Ethically Engineered

2) Underwood Typewriter Necktie by Cyberoptix

3) Wooden Slingshot Catapult by Gift Go Green

4)  la pluie de pluie partent Print by Little Pink Pebble

5) Avant-Gardener T-Shirt by Black Sheep Heap

6) Wood Ear Bud Holder by Acoustic Design

7) Reclaimed Wood & Iron Steel Headboard by Blake Avenue

Not numbered: Vintage Camera Bilora Bella 127 Camera from Good Bones Vintage

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If you have a full-out foodie on your shopping list this holiday season – don’t fear! Alisha of the blog i like it too! put together the following suggestions for getting the perfect gift for that gastro-savvy guest or friend:

1) Handmade Table & Bowls from Haymaker Shop

2) Bike Snack Sack from Green Heart

3) Chain Links Apron from Decorative Instincts

4) DIY Indian Spice Rub from Eating Well

5) CSA from Montalbano Farms

6) DIY 3 Bean & Barley Soup Mix from Eating Well

7) DIY Spiced Nuts from Martha Stewart

It truly takes a visionary to come up with a list such as this – and Caitlin Peters of Wanderlustings is just that! Her incredible taste combines with a soulful whimsy to bring Sprout Chicago these fantastic gift suggestions for women:

1) Navy Phantom Tights by Qoo Qoo Fashion

2) Vanilla Chai Perfume Oil by Long Winter Soap Co

3) Aqua “Life She Imagined” Print by Amanda Catherine Des

4) Craft Nail Transfers by Kate Broughton

5) Double Gal Vintage Bag from Bird Trouble

6) Bilbao Colored Handle Teacups by A Quartzy Life

7) Love Made Me Do It Ring by Manoy Metal

8) White Blouse by Arcelia Home

9) Gold Dipped Geo Earrings by A Merry Mishap

by Lydia Krupinski

Tis the season for holidays, food, family and friends. As some people prep for the fellowship, reflections, and feastings of Thanksgiving, others around the country are already salivating at the midnight shopping promises of big box stores and retail chains. While the term Small Business Saturday may not be as catchy as Black Friday or Cyber Monday, the first Saturday after Thanksgiving has been designated as such to encourage consumers to support the vendors in their own communities.

In the spirit of this week’s holiday and the upcoming shopping stampedes Sprout Chicago would like to highlight a group that’s launching a special campaign to remind Chicagoans to spend their dollars locally this holiday season. Urban Folk Circuit is a group dedicated to supporting and growing the handmade craft and music community in the city. Started in July of 2010, the team unites artisans from around Chicagoland in monthly traveling craft shows that highlight the diverse talents and skills of handmade business owners.

Sprout Chicago caught up with Kelli and Jess, super-crafter extroadinaires and founders of Urban Folk Circuit, to pick their brains about crafting in the city and their latest campaign: Shop Chicago for the Holidays.

Read the rest of this entry »

Alderman Joe Moreno of the first ward is sponsoring a piece of legislation that would push Chicago into a greener era: a ban on plastic bags. The ordinance proposes that big box retailers, ala Target, K-Mart, Walmart, etc., would no longer be allowed to distribute the ‘white plague’ as it’s called abroad. Under the new rule, large retailers would be required to provide reusable or biodegrable bags for their customers.

According to RUB (Reusable Bags Chicago), “Every year, over a trillion plastic bags and 10 billion paper bags are used in the United States. This equals to over 12 billion barrels of oil used to produce a product that only gets recycled 1 in a 100 times.” Enabling a complete ban for all stores may not be an easy task at first. But if enough residents show their support – who knows what can happen! To have your voice heard sign the RUB petition today and lets move towards a healthier and more sustainable future for our metropolis.

By Lydia Krupinski

I had the joy and pleasure of dolling up Sarah Louise Braunstein and taking her photos for the Chicago Uniform Project yesterday. Much like the original that inspired her venture, Sarah has taken the challenge of wearing the same item of clothing daily to a new creative level.

Rather then dressing herself, as did Shenna Matheiken, Sarah has asked local designers, boutique owners and stylists to create her looks. Each day she uploads a new photo of herself in a curated outfit, with many of the designers donating the items for an online auction. All the proceeds from the project are being donated to  Connections for Abused Women and their Children, a Chicago-based foundation committed to ending domestic violence.

What I love about Sarah’s spin on the idea is that she’s making an impact three fold: Raising funds for CAWC, forcing introspection on consumerism and fast fashion while also highlighting the many creative talents in Chicago.

In my shoot for the project I used a couple of vintage pieces and two new Pierogi Picnic designs. A gorgeous floral locket gave Sarah’s look a sweet edge, while the Revamped Vintage Petticoat gave her a billowing bustle under her dress. To add some color I created the Pleated Boyfriend Cardigan in eggplant and cinched it with a folksy vintage belt.  To take a peek at the completed Pierogi Picnic look which we shot at the Edgewater Farmer’s Market click here.

Interview composed by Lydia Krupinski

I discovered Soaphappy! this past November when selling my Pierogi Picnic goodies in a local craft show. Desperate for a stick of natural lip balm, I promptly snatched up a stick of their ultra hydrating Vanilla blend. This one product made me an instant convert. I now covet my stick not letting even my beloved husband snag a use.

Hanah and Nellie are the dynamic duo behind this local soap racket. Their delicious and down-to-earth products blend natural vegan ingredients with exotic spice combinations that will jazz up even the weariest Chicagoan’s winter morning ritual. With soaps like Jazz+Beet boasting ingredients like ginger, rose, beets and jasmine – it’s no wonder this fiesty pair is stirring up trouble at local craft fairs like the DIY Trunk Show.

To spice up your chilly holiday week Sprout Chicago brings you an exclusive interview with these two soap divas: Read the rest of this entry »

Interview and photos by Lydia Krupinski

As our food becomes frequently outsourced to other regions and countries, groups are taking a stand and resurrecting a time-honored tradition: the victory garden. While some movements set to re-invent the wheel, others look back to previous generations for inspiration and to empower their communities. One such group literally broke ground on the far North side of Chicago a few weeks ago. The Peterson Garden Project sets to connect Chicago residents with the earth, their food, and each other. Located just west of Western on Peterson Avenue, this incredible space is changing the way residents are looking at food, community, and empty lots.

By renting a plot, experienced and novice gardeners can share in the satisfaction of growing their own food, which in turn cuts down on both their ecological and economic footprints. For only $45 a season, growers receive a 24 square foot plot, access to the gardening forums, and unlimited advice from their fellow gardeners. For those unable to tend their own land, the Project’s volunteers can nurture a crop for a reasonable donation. The only requirements: Visit your plot 2-3 times a week, commit to using organic gardening methods, and pay your dues. It’s that simple!

Sprout Chicago had the honor and privilege to visit the newly tilled space and speak with the garden’s founder, LaManda Joy, about the Project and more. Read the rest of this entry »

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