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By Lydia Krupinski

As we are all busy running about trying to find the perfect handmade gifts for the season – many of us forget an essential – gift wrapping!

To keep you from procrastinating, and purchasing that gaudy roll of wrap that’s strategically placed at the register end cap, create your action plan now with these great easy-to-make alternatives that I pulled from my website Pierogi Picnic.

Newspaper – If you’re looking for something cheap and chic, newspaper is the best way to go. The high contrast black and white will give your gifts an elegant look with a rustic edge. For some great suggestions on how to best use this upcycled material check out Design Apothecary’s article here.

Paper Bags  – If you ever take a spontaneous trip to the grocer and are (gasp!) caught without your reusable shopping bags – never fear! Those old-fashioned paper bags can be put to use! The stock of paper that’s used for your average grocery sack lends itself perfectly for wrapping gifts. Check out this awesome post from My Home Ideas for some great tips on using this everyday item.

Looking for more tips? Read the full article here.

posted by Lydia Krupinski

The annual Chicago Craft Mafia craft extravaganza, otherwise known as the DIY Trunk Show, is coming to Edgewater this Saturday at the Broadway Armory! Set apart from other shows of its kind, this indoor fair pulls together talent from a 100 mile radius of Chicago – making it a locavores dream! And with the holidays so close, it couldn’t come at a better time.

Commute up to Edgewater early via the Red line and hop off at the Granville stop. Hit up M.Henrietta’s for an awe-inspiring brunch. Then take a brisk walk over to Metropolis to arm yourself with caffeine and take Broadway three blocks south to the show! There you’ll find indie handmade crafters, papermakers, artists, designers and more! And yes – Pierogi Picnic will be there too, selling seasonal wares and also doing craft tutorials and free eco-friendly gift wrapping.

So get your holiday shopping off to a good and conscious start by not only finding one-of-a-kind quirky gifts, but by also supporting the small businesses that keep the local economy afloat!

What: DIY Trunk Show

Where: Broadway Armory at Thorndale & Broadway

When: Saturday, November 19th 10am-5pm

See you there this weekend!

By Lydia Krupinski

Sprout Chicago loves to be active, fruitful, and at the forefront of bringing you news and views about eco-living in Chicago. I am at once joyous and sad to share that my close friend and co-conspirator Irena has just uprooted to Morocco. Though we hope she will find the time to continue to contribute to the blog, her new adventure will be leaving her breathless with increidble experiences while immersed in a vibrant new culture.

September also becomes an incredibly busy season for me as the holidays creep up and the fall show circuit begins for my eco biz Pierogi Picnic. As I prepare for Chicago’s Renegade Craft Fair, I am documenting my journey on my new blog “Throwing a Pierogi Picnic.” Between this and other escapades I must forewarn readers that I will be sporadically updating Sprout Chicago as time allows. Hopefully by mid-October things will clear enough for both Irena and myself to get back into the green swing of things.

With that in mind – if you’re interested in becoming a contributor to our blog please contact us! We are always eager to have guest reviewers, photographers, and musers. So if you have a green slant to a story, or would like to chronicle your upcoming Midwest road trip – please send us a note!

And as always – stay green!

posted by Lydia Krupinski

I have some very VERY exciting news!

I have been asked to teach an ongoing series on eco-friendly crafting at The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum! It is an incredible honor to be joining forces with this highly respected and active organization that brings the message of sustainability and science to Chicago and beyond.

For the first set of classes we will be focusing on the common fiber staple: t-shirts! I’ll be teaching how to take this everyday item from dull to daring with a few snips and stitches. The”Tees Transformed” projects will include ties, scarves, dresses, jewelry, table runners, and more!

Interested? You can sign up directly on the museum’s website:

I hope to see you there!!!

I’ve been following news about the Haiti crisis on the BBC all week. Like many of you I want to help in any way possible.  I was brainstorming how to go about raising funds without having to simply ask for donations. So starting this weekend I am going to donate 50% of all my Pierogi Picnic purchases to the Red Cross Haiti Relief fund. Take a peek in my Etsy store and shop for a good cause this weekend!


by Lydia Krupinski

As promised Sprout is bringing you the very best in conscientious consumer tips for the upcoming holiday season. One such suggestion is shopping local as much as possible! There’s no better way to cut your carbon footprint then buying directly from the maker.

megan lee designsOne way to tap local artisans is the DIY Trunk Show on Saturday November 21st. Since 2003 this unique collection of artists and entrepreneurs has been bringing their handmade goods to Chicagoans.

Swing by next weekend and pick up some fresh goodies from Edgewater Soaps, beautiful screenprinted dresses from Megan Lee Designs, or handcrafted modern kitchen ware from Circa Ceramics.

What: DIY Trunk Show

When: Saturday November 21st 10am-5pm

Where: Pulaski Fieldhouse 1419 W. Blackhawk Chicago IL

If you’ll be stopping by, make sure to bring a reusable  shopping bag.  And don’t forget to come by my Pierogi Picnic booth to say hello!

by Lydia Krupinski

Why in the world would I share this trade secret with you? Simple. Making clothing out of abandoned garments is not only easy, but a great way to add a personal  touch to your wardrobe, and FUN! This is a basic design that you’ll see throughout my Etsy site Pierogi Picnic, and one that can be catered to anyone’s tastes. So pull out those thrift tees and get cutting!


By Lydia Krupinski

Things have been booming for my eco-biz Pierogi Picnic. I am nearing my 100th sale, have merchandise in four stores throughout the country, have been featured on numerous sites, magazines and even in Chicago’s own New City. But nothing feels quite as satisfying as being accepted as a member of Team Eco Etsy.

memorial day 1Joining this active and blossoming Etsy group is like receiving LEED certification for a business or building. It opens the doors for personal and professional development while connecting me with an international community that is dedicated to sustainability and conscientious living.  

So it will come as no surprise if you notice a pattern in the upcoming interviews we have planned here on Sprout. Many of the individuals you will reading about will be local Eco Etsy members who have taken their personal passions and transformed them into financially and ecologically sustainable businesses. I hope these discoveries leave you feeling inspired! And as always, if there’s a green biz you would like us to feature, please e-mail us at


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