Goodbye to 1154 Lill and Goodbye to My Younger Self

AMELIA-800When I first moved to Chicago in my 20’s, my friend, Chrissie, introduced me to 1154 Lill Studio. I instantly fell in love and over the last (gulp!) fifteen years, I have amassed quite a collection of “Lill bags”. Even though the economy and my life changes have made buying a new Lill bag a rare occurrence in the last couple of years, I remained on their email list and managed to hit their sample sale and score a new bag or two. So, I was shocked when I received an email from them this week announcing that they are closing their doors in March.

I started thinking about my Lill bags and how each of them bring back memories. From weddings (LOTS of weddings!) to job promotions, to gifts, each holds a place in my heart as well as on my shoulder (or wrist). My last self designed bag is actually one that is meant to be a diaper bag but one that I used as a work bag since I was not having any luck getting pregnant when I created it. Once my son was finally born, I still never used it as a diaper bag, but deep down, I always knew that’s what it was originally intended to be.

I supposed if someone like me, a fifteen year fan of the company, isn’t buying 1154 Lill bags at the same rate that I once was, then the doors were bound to close. The current crop of twenty-something women seem much more label conscious than I remember being at that age and my forty-something compadres are too busy putting money into mortgages, kids, repairs, etc. to one, take the time to design a bag and two, pay close to two hundred dollars for it.

The closing of 1154 Lill is like officially saying good-bye to the younger, more carefree me. I am sad to see the store (and my footloose and fancy free days) go, but I’m sure there is a new and exciting chapter of life ahead for us.

If you want to purchase one last “Lill bag”, head to one of the stores or visit their website HERE where you can also read about the closing in the founder’s words. And the photo is of the Amelia which I am considering for my final “Lill bag” – thoughts?

Thanks for reading Bright-Yellow.


50 Wards: Ward 39 is a Chicago Hidden Gem

Yep, 50 Wards is back! You didn’t really think I gave up on this project, did you? Because the 50 Wards are in Chicago, I had to take the winter off. Today, though, I explored Ward 39 (Alderman Margaret Laurino) which covers a large part of Chicago – Devon (north) to Belmont (south) to the Chicago River (east) to Cicero (West).  When I asked the Alderman’s office for suggestions last year, they gave me a huge list including:

  • The Korean businesses and restaurants on Lawrence Avenue, from Kedzie to Pulaski (Seoul Drive) and the Korean Street Festival in August
  • North Park Village including The North Park Village Nature Center
  • The Bohemian National Cemetery – one of only two cemeteries in Chicago that has received a national historical designation.  It is final resting place for Anton Cermak, one of Chicago’s Mayors.  They recently added a new section to the cemetery named Beyond the Vines, the final resting place for eternal Cubs fans.
  • Foster Avenue (3200-3400 West) with a number of small shops and restaurants and North Park University
  • Not to be missed, is Tre Kronor, 3258 W. Foster

Jeff and I were going to wait to do this ward in August but we did that last year and didn’t make it so we decided not to wait around for the Korean fest and began the tour of the ward. We have gone through the Korean area and along Foster Avenue many times (it’s near our house) so we headed over to the North Park Nature Center.  WOW – what a hidden gem! After parking the car, we went in the nature center and saw a turtle demonstration (if you have kids, you MUST visit this place!) and then hit the trails. Even though we were surrounded by busy streets all around us, we never knew it because it felt like we were in the middle of secluded woods. From the wildflowers to the lily pads and the unexpected sighting of a deer (really!), a walk through the North Park Nature Center gives Chicagoans an escape from the city chaos – in the city! My only complaint? The trail is not a long one so you may need to go around twice – but it’s worth it!

As you drive into the Nature Center, don’t be put off by the many buildings – you are in the right place.  You’ll find the Bohemian Cemetery right next door to the Nature Center, too. We didn’t actually drive in – the place is HUGE – but I see a return visit in our future. Oh, and the Alderman’s office is right – Tre Kronor is not to be missed – yum, yum, yum.

I’m looking forward to a return trip to the North Park Nature Center in the fall – I’m sure it will be magnificent! Thanks to the folks at the 39th Ward Alderman’s office for the tips!

Thanks for reading Bright-Yellow!  Please share with friends – I’m not sure what happened but the number of readers suddenly dropped – remember to share!

Put Another Record on the Record Player…

No records? No problem – it’s CHIRP Record Fair time again!  The 8th annual CHIRP (Chicago Independent Radio Project) Record Fair takes place this weekend, April 10 and 11, at Plumbers Hall (1340 West Washington Street) from 10AM – 5PM.  Tickets are $7 (all proceeds help keep CHIRP on the air) but if you click here, then you can download a coupon for $2 off.  You can order an “I Heart Records” button from that link, too.  I know of quite a few folks who scored some treasures at last year’s CHIRP Record Fair.  Did I mention the live music and DJs spinning – AND free parking?  Don’t miss this event!

Need to unload some records or CDs? No problem, CHIRP accepts donations of vinyl or CDs. If you have old records or CDs that you’d like to donate to CHIRP, please contact Micha Ward at Your donation is tax deductible, and Micha can arrange pick-ups of donated materials.

Get your groovin’ groove on!

Thanks for reading Bright-Yellow!

One Year Anniversary – The Paper Anniversary

Today, April 6, Bright-Yellow officially celebrates its one year anniversary.  I find it funny that the one anniversary is the paper anniversary which we’re celebrating for a digital product!

One year ago, I launched Bright-Yellow as a way to challenge myself with daily writing while I searched for a full-time job.  Returning to Chicago as a double unemployed couple meant living on a budget.  I enjoy sharing the tips and tricks I find for budget living as well as general “stuff that you should know, too” that I discover along the way.

Groupon logoA year ago, my first post was about Groupon, a daily deal available for one day only.  When I wrote about it a year ago, Groupon was available in New York and Chicago.  Today, 45 cities enjoy Groupon from Albuquerque to Washington, D.C.  and Groupon offers deals seven days a week (as well as a side deal every day).  If you have not signed up for Groupon, DO IT NOW!  And iPhone users, download the app – you no longer have to print the Groupons – just show your phone and you’re all set!

Since starting Bright-Yellow, I have posted 118 times, had 10,391 page-views (apparently you readers like booze and books since those are the top tags used to find Bright-Yellow), had my busiest day on December 15 (Gifts that Do Good), and Jeff and I have gone from double unemployment to double employment with Jeff landing a dream job (that involves booze – apparently that beercation was well worth it)!

The next few posts will be a check in on some more favorites from the last year so if you have a particular past entry you’d like highlighted, just let me know through the comments section.

As always, thanks for reading Bright-Yellow.

Chicago Eats – Freebies and Almost Freebies

In case you missed it, today (Tuesday) is FREE PASTRY DAY at Starbucks! Just purchase a handcrafted, brewed, or iced beverage (read: buy a cup of coffee) and with the coupon, get a free pastry! The offer is only good until 10:30AM so hurry hurry hurry!  To get the coupon, just click here.

Now that you have breakfast locked up, it’s time for lunch and dinner!  This week (March 22-28), it’s Chicago Chef Week!  For just $20 at lunch and $30 at dinner, you can enjoy a fabulous three-course prix fixe menu at one of 34 wonderful Chicago restaurants.  Boka? Check.  Publican? Check.  The Gage? Check.  And many more!  For a list of all of the participating restaurants, just click here.  Even better, if you’re on Open Table (and if you’re not, get on it), all reservations are booked through Open Table – bring on the points!  Really, if you can swing it, this is a great way to try some of Chicago’s chef-centric restaurants.

Thanks for reading Bright-Yellow!

The Drink Deck – 52 Ways to Sample Chicago Drinking Establishments

Remember my love of a la Card Chicago?  Well, Jeff and I are enjoying checking out new places (yes, we just got to Smoque) and old favorites (yummy Big Jones).  We can’t figure out how two people will be able to spend $25 at Hot Doug’s but we’re up for the challenge!

I just discovered the unofficial companion deck to a la Card Chicago – the Drink Deck!  Jeff, the beer man husband, should be happy when he reads about this!  Like a la Card Chicago, the Drink Deck puts 52 establishments on a deck of cards and encourages you to “play” Chicago!  The Drink Deck divides the watering holes by a number of categories including wine bar, beer bar, music venue, dive bar, hip hangout (don’t worry those of us over 25 – these places are hip but not so hip that we have never heard of them!) and more.

The Drink Deck is only $30 and each card gives you $10 off of your tab ($30 minimum before tax and tip).  You can order a Drink Deck by clicking here.  Remember – outdoor drinking in Chicago is just around the corner…

Thanks for reading Bright-Yellow!

Dine For Less – Restaurant Week

I love Restaurant Week.  Practically every large city has one (or two or three) to encourage diners to break diets but not banks and support the local restaurant industry.  Restaurant Week is a great way to explore a new restaurant (or an old favorite) without feeling like your entire paycheck is going toward one meal!

Here in Chicago (and, again, in many other cities) we have multiple Restaurant Weeks and the first starts this week!  The Local Tourist (featured in an earlier Bright-Yellow) hosts its first Restaurant Week this week (January 8-15).  Each of the participating restaurants is offering three course meals for only $25 for lunch and $35 for dinner – PLUS 10% of each meal goes to Endure To Cure, which raises money for pediatric cancer research, treatment and care.  For a list of Local Tourist Restaurant Week restaurants, please click here.

Not every city has The Local Tourist but every city does have a chamber of commerce and/or tourism bureau and many of them, like Chicago, put together a restaurant week.  Chicago’s big Restaurant Week is just around the corner – February 19-28 – yippeee!  These tables book quickly so reserve yours now – lunch is only $22 and dinner $32.  You can see the complete list of participating restaurants here and, if you’re on Open Table (and if you’re not on Open Table, get on it!), make your reservation here.  Don’t worry, I’ll remind you of Chicago Restaurant Week again when it starts.

Looking ahead, Yelp! also hosts a Restaurant Week in June.  Last year’s event was June 1-7 so look for that to happen again this summer.

In these tough times, I know going out is not easy on the old pocketbook.  However, we have to all help each other out and Restaurant Week makes it a bit easier to support local business.

Thanks for reading Bright-Yellow!  Please leave a comment or two (including ideas for future posts!).