Category Archives: Retail and Services

Celebrate 20 years of Restoration Salon August 24th

Celebrate 20 years of Restoration Salon while raising money for Have Dreams.
$20 suggested donation. Doors open at 7pm Hair/Fashion show at 8pm
Please bring checks or cash for Donation and raffle tickets!

Huge Blow Out MOVING Sale at Re Stock on Halsted

GOING  GOING….soon to be GONE!

Doors Close this Sunday, Aug. 18th!

Boystown Location:  3519 N. Halsted St.
Thurs. – Sat. 12-8pm   Sun. 12-6pm

Dog Poop in Chicago…The BEST bag ever Invented!

Is there anything worse, then walking down the street, minding your own business, and step in some business! Dog Poop. It stinks and it’s messy, it’s nasty, there is NO REASON for it  and Dog owners need to take responsibility.

 in some cities, people are SO LAZY,
they don’t bother to pick up their dogs poop! And I am so sick of it!
If you own a dog, clean up after it!

The island of Capri (Italy)  is going high-tech to deal with an age-old problem: dog
poop.They have solved the problem and more cities are talking about it.

The mayor of the island, located off the coast of Naples, is determined to
rid Capri of the rather distasteful predicament by using DNA testing.

The small island is a large tourist destination and is home to 7,305 people
owning 1,000 dogs. Unfortunately, some of the residents seem unwilling to scoop
up poop. In order to maintain the pristine setting Capri is famous for, the city
is using technology to track down pet owners who befoul the town by leaving
piles of scat behind.

The mayor plans to take advantage of a law that requires dogs to undergo a
blood test for canine diseases. The city will use the blood to perform DNA tests
on puppy excrement and identify the source of the smelly mess.

Ok – so lets say you ALWAYS pick your dogs poop. You grab one of those “recycle bags” that every store in the world  uses now, right? And you throw it away. But then what? Where does it go?? It gets sent
off somewhere, to live on forever and ever and ever.

may not think about it, but chances are if you have a dog you’re creating
excess waste, somewhere. There are approximately 78.2 million owned dogs in the
United States. That’s a lot of poop! 

A brilliant man in Chicago has come up with THE BEST solution, and THE BEST DOG POOP bags ever made!  Biodegradable Poop Bags by meet the ASTM D6400
specification for biodegradability, compostability, and comply
with California’s compostable product claims.*
FACT  — 20-30% of all pollutants in waterways attributed to dog waste:
Pollutants originating from rainwater run-off via sewer systems, and
dogs pooping near watersheds or beaches. Overall, it is believed dog
waste is third or fourth on the list of contributors to bacteria in
contaminated waters.

plastic bag manufacturers probably use the term “biodegradability” –
shall we say – loosely and lightly. The ASTM D6400 specification puts a
kibosh on all of that. Basically, the specification requires that the
material is fully tested to ensure that it will degrade at a similar
rate as an apple (composting), and that no large plastic fragments
should remain.

More than likely, the loose and light manufacturers’ bags do not meet
biodegradable/compostable standards of any sort, and are just regular
plastic bags. All in all, bag manufacturers – who claim their bags are
biodegradable or compostable but do not meet the ASTM specifications –
are misleading consumers and are acting negligently towards the

California’s law, SB 1749, maintains that bags should meet the ASTM
D6400 specification for compostable product claims. Several other states
are also instituting policies like California. The Original PoopBags
proudly meet this standard, and our other bags meet national ASTM
certifications as well.

Additional Facts about Poop Bags:
– Made from a combination of corn and other renewable products.

– Shelf stable just like paper plates or paper towels.

– There are no chemical additives to enhance decomposition. The bags
degrade naturally when exposed to the earth’s elements and
micro-organisms in the soil.

– “Breathe” – allowing heat and moisture to escape or evaporate. This
feature reduces bacterial build-up of collected waste, thus reducing

– Will decompose in a commercial composting environment between 60 and 90 days after use. strongly urges consumers not to
place feces-filled bags into home composting systems or green bins as
this could lead to E.coli contamination. Basically, dogs eat meat.

– Will decompose in a natural setting at an extended rate comparable
to other naturally compostable materials, such as paper, leaves and food

If the poop bags are placed in an “open” or “turned” landfill they
will decompose at a rate similar to other biodegradable/compostable
materials in the same setting. 

If the landfill is anaerobic/locked, no
biodegradable/compostable products will degrade – even banana peels.

*Please note this statement does not apply to the flushable bags.


Get Dosed! At Dose Market Sunday April 14

Get DOSED! on Sunday, April 14th at the River East Art Center, 
435 E. Illinois St., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

is a monthly market featuring the finest selection of vendors in one
place: the modern, lofted halls of the River East Art Center. Join us
once a month to celebrate Chicago’s most dynamic gathering of innovative
fashion, artisan food and high design.

 There’s no better way to spend a

$10 gets you in – Free cocktails and food tastings and Fabulous shopping!
Serving up a stunning selection of the finest in food and fashion, join us and 50 Dosers !

You heard it here first: this is the finest drinking vodka on the planet and it wears its Chicago stars with pride. Next Star Vodka make
their DOSE debut with gratis pours of their stellar Chicago mule —
ginger beer, lime juice and their fanatic-inspiring spirit — the perfect
way to get ready for your Très Awesome photoshoot.

You heard us right: this DOSE is your time to shine. Wear your
favorite outfit (or build it at the Market and get plenty of help) and
find yourself on the sweep in front of Chicago’s reigning street-style
maven, Emma Arnold of Très AwesomeWith
seriously cool technology, you’ll not only get a great shot, you’ll
have a shot at winning some fantastic Spring accessories.
Your ticket to DOSE always includes the opportunity to try the
finest brews, wines and spirits free of charge if you’re the appropriate
age. We realize, though, different strokes for different folks. You may
now trade in your drink ticket for DOSE h2o!

Dose Market

Check this out!
Need a free ride there??  Have you heard of the SIDE CAR app?

CHI will be providing DOSE-goers the opportunity to try the service and
snag a free ride to the Market this Sunday! Just enter the code
ILOVEDOSE for a $15 credit toward your first ride.

The OUT NYC planning to open OUT CHICAGO Hotel in Boystown

THE OUT NYC is New York City’s first ‘straight-friendly’ urban resort
complex, serving as a travel and entertainment destination for visitors
and locals alike.
THE OUT NYC’s features include a boutique hotel with 105 modern guest
rooms, 3 outdoor courtyards, The Spa at the OUT NYC, a glass-covered
atrium, jacuzzis, steam room, sauna, 24-hour fitness center, XL
Nightclub, KTCHN Restaurant, and conference facilities available for
special events and catering.
They consistently get rated 4 and 5 stars by travelers. Excellent, Top Notch, Faultless, Flawless, Fantastic, Gorgeous….these are just some of the words, guests have used, to describe THE OUT NYC!
Parkview Developers, a well known development company in New York are now looking to expand their luxury brand to Chicago, Washington DC, and possibly Milan.
The Chicago property will be located between Sidetrack and Mini Bar. And build up into the air, several floors. 120 rooms of luxury on Halsted!
THE OUT CHICAGO is coming in 2015. Strategically positioned in between
SIDETRACK & Minibar and across the street from Roscoe’s (the 3 top
grossing gay bars in Chicago); this is in the epicenter of Chicago’s
‘gayborhood’ appropriately called “Boystown”. This 4 star Urban Resort
complex will include..

– ±112 boutique hotel rooms (including Shared Luxury Accommodations & Extended Stay Suites)
– 1500SF full service Spa, Gym & Wellness Center – “The Spa @ THE OUT”
– 2500SF of Conference/Meeting/Event Space
– 3000SF Fully Enclosed Glass Atrium Courtyard – 1500 SF Enclosed
Rooftop Bar & Lounge with spectacular views of downtown Chicago 
– “KTCHN Art” Restaurant (consultation and possible partnership with Celebrity Chef Art Smith)
– 2000 SF “XL Minibar” with Dance/Cabaret Space (acquisition and
partnership and/or management contract is currently in negotiations with
– Marketing Partnership with Sidetrack Bar and access to their 15,000 sf bar complex from the THE OUT CHICAGO Lobby. 
– BOUTIQUE lobby shop.

About us…..

FODORS TOP 100:  Our “Straight-friendly” Urban Resort (THE OUT NYC)
surrounding our XL Nightclub was named one of this year’s top 100 hotels
in the world by Fodors featured in the “Trendsetter” category and
featured on and we are #3 on TripAdvisor (of 156 Specialty
Hotels in NYC). (4 star resort + & $99 Euro style luxury hostel pods) (#1 night club in NYC) (major performance acts) (Zagat favorite new restaurant) (full service Spa&/gym)

The (Cultural & Event Blog) (Private Membership Social Club like Soho House)

KTCHN: Zagat –
NY Times Article – “To be a Hotel and Gay in NYu”$-in-new-york.htm

TIME Magazine Article – “I Had a Gay Old Time”,9171,2113812,00.html

It could mean big things for Lake View and Boystown. A study of the community
has long identified it seriously lacks hotels, a part of the reason why
the Ricketts Family now plan to open one near Wrigley Field.

One was also planned in the Addison Park on Clark development, but the developer behind that project recently announced the hotel deal fell through.

Officials with Ald. Tom Tunney’s office say a hotel in Boystown, however, might be just what the community needs.

“I actually followed up and saw the product, and it’s great,” said
Chief of Staff Bennett Lawson. “It’s very boutique. Our master plan
identifies we need more hotels in the area, so if the space could work
with the right kind of anchor tenants, height and zoning, we’re on

The developer is having a neighborhood meeting on Thursday, April 11th at 7PM at
the 19th District Police Station Community Room.
Everyone should
definitely attend and support this project. Chicago is very lucky to
have been chosen for their 2nd hotel location!! 

Discount Gucci and Prada in Chicago? Yep!

Just about 5 minutes from O’Hare will sit The Fashion Outlets of Chicago, the biggest retail
project to happen in Chicago in a very long time. 


They claim, it’s So Big you’ll be able
to see runway shows happening on the LED Screens from low  planes flying into
The anchors of the 2-floor 530,000 square-foot mall, opening  are Bloomingdale’s The Outlet Store, Last Call by Neiman
Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th and Forever 21. 
Upstairs will be higher-end outlets ranging from
Prada to J.Crew.  J. Who? We’re talking Nike Factory
Store, Halston, Herve Leger, Helzberg Diamonds, Hugo Boss, Allsaints,
Andrew Marc, Brunello Cucinelli, Cole Haan, Georgio Armani, Michael
Kors, L.K. Bennett, Gucci and even Haagen Dazs.  
AND in addition to all these supah stah shops, representing the best of the best of 120 outlets, there’s two fine dining restaurants; Prasino
and Villagio and a first-level food court.
“Beyond the robust slate of retail and dining attractions, Fashion
Outlets of Chicago also will offer an exciting set of customer amenities
and social experiences, including a world-class art installation,” AWE
Talisman Chairman Arthur Weiner said in a statement.
Fashion Outlets of Chicago is located on Fashion Outlets Way off of
Balmoral Road in Rosemont and off of I-294 at the intersections of I-190
and I-90. The full store list can be found here.
OPENING  8-1-2013

World Gym DEEP DISCOUNTS Feb 14th

 How is that New Years resolution going? 

 and get to WORLD GYM FEB. 13th!
Unbeatable prices one day only. 

2 for 1 pricing

Half Off memberships

New members get free fitness assessments
All fitness classes are FREE and led by local experts and designed to help all skill levels conquer goals on the path to ultimate fitness glory.
In 1976, it all began here. The iconic celebrity fitness scene. The serious, no-nonsense workout. The commitment to always remain a true gym, not a resort. A place where great shape is an authentic passion. Where you belong among friends. Where everyone’s a star, and you have the power to lift yourself to greatness. This is World Gym.
909 W Montrose Ave 
(773) 348-1212

Tell them you saw it here!

Pamper Yourself with Great Personal Services in Boystown

In the last few months, some new personal service businesses
have popped up in Boystown, joining the ranks of long time style makers like
Tim Weber  of Restorations Salons .

We have been a fan of Tims Restoration salon since it’s
first opening in 1993, in Lincoln Park. (2151 N. Sheffield)  Tim steadily grew his business and
later opened 2 more locations, one in Andersonville (5349 N. Clark) and the newest spot in
Lakeview (3255 N. NBroadway).

What makes 
restoration different? or special? “Restoration Salons’ pride themselves on having experienced
professional stylists, a comfortable relaxed atmosphere, and the focus is on
hair and our goal is to restore
,” says Tim.

 Do guys in Chicago follow the trends?  or do their own thing, when it comes to

 “Trends can be tricky, by the time some of them catch on, its
time to move on… Some heads can pull off trends and some should never try
them… I usually try to make the client look there best; whether it is a trend
or timeless!”

How to choose a good salon or stylist?

“I  always say that a client needs to find 3 things: A salon that they like (the atmosphere,location,style) a stylist that they love (enjoy talking too, and happy to see them) and a stylist that can achieve a great cut/color. If you can find all three you will be happy for a long long time! Our staff is always ready with a friendly smile. We ensure you a great service and a high quality experience, that will leave you feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and restored!”

The new girl on the block is Kinley Preston, owner of the new VANITE‘  Paul Mitchell Focus Salon at  3161 N. Halsted. There are only 5 Focus Salons in the entire Chicagoland area and this is the 3rd such salon, in the city. 

So what is a “focus salon”? Kinley explained, “We carry the entire Paul Mitchell product line, including the pet products. The staff is Paul Mitchell trained and educated. 

We are happy to be a flourishing Local
Independent Business and active
in giving to our community. 
As a “Paul Mitchell Focus
Salon” we have the opportunity
to receive advanced training
from Premier National Award
Winning Stylists several times
each year. We are committed to
keeping up to date and pleased
to deliver these techniques with
the latest ideas to you! 
Cut and Coloring is our
specialty. We don’t settle for
average and neither should you! 
We offer you more than just a
cut.. get an experience! We think we offer a better quality service for the same price as some of our competitors.

Kinley’s new salon is sleek and elegant. I was pampered with a shampoo and cut recently. The comfort experience begins with the chairs and shampoo bowls. Both from Japan. Both providing comfort and allowing the guest to fully relax and enjoy the 5 minute scalp massage in the dimly lit, LED glowing room!

Kinley herself was a graduate of the Paul Mitchell School but chose to be an owner and manager, instead of a stylist.  A great side story –  FYI – John Paul Jones DeJoria, the mastermind behind Paul Mitchell, was born the second son of an Italian immigrant father and a Greek immigrant mother in Los Angeles. His parents divorced by the time he was two years old, and at nine he began selling Christmas cards and newspapers with his older brother to support his family. When his single mother proved unable to support both children, they were sent to an East Los Angeles foster home.

DeJoria spent much of his youth in a street gang in East Los Angeles, but changed when he was told that he would “never succeed at anything in life” by a math teacher at John Marshall High School. He graduated in 1962 and spent two years in the United States Navy, after which he floated through a series of jobs ranging from janitor to insurance salesman.

DeJoria entered the world of hair care as an employee of Redken Laboratories. He was fired from this position and in 1980, he formed John Paul Mitchell Systems with hairdresser Paul Mitchell and a loan for $700. In 1989, Paul Mitchell died and was replaced by his son, Angus as company co-owner. As of 2011, John Paul Mitchell Systems had revenues of $900 million annually.

So DeJoria understands personal struggles and hurdles. And he in fact, played a key role in Kinley’s life and was instrumental helping making her salon, a reality. “Three years ago, I was destitute. Living in my car. He really took a personal interest in my story, at a time when I was going through a lot. I wrote a business plan, and the company loved it.”

Now Kinleys salon is a reality and she is very involved with the community and sits on various boards from the local Chamber of Commerce to the Joffrey Ballet Auxiliary board.

The world is all about pure, natural  and organic these days. People are willing to pay a little more, for better products and services. 

There has been a global shift taking place in the food, water and health sectors, as we face consequences of environmental damage due to pollution, global warming, agricultural trends and pesticide usage. 

Enter Vincent Dinh of Savon Spa. (3635 North Halsted Street) “Growing up in Vietnam, everything we ate was organic.” explains Vincent. “There were no chemicals used. Poop was used to fertilize! With that experience growing up and then moving to America, it was like culture shock. OMG, the cucumbers are so big here! And no taste. My food was growing up was small, beqautiful and SO MUCH TASTE.

At Savon Spa, Amy, Vincent and their staff strive to give clients a luxurious, purifying organic spa experience in an elegant setting reminiscent of old world Paris. In fact,  much of the furniture inside the spa is eco-friendly reclaimed and/or refurbished.

Indulgent, Earth-friendly, organic products, hand-made organic soaps, scrubs, masks, lotions and treatments.  In atmosphere of serenity, warmth, and beauty, Savon Spa offers a soothing array of services. From  various massages (60 minute deep tissue $110), advanced facials (24k gold mask or placenta treatment $200), body treatments (Hungarian mud wraps $80), manicure, pedicure, waxing for men and women and non-surgical skin rejuvenation services by cutting-edge aestheticism Dr. Randa Sawan. “We offer a great no lift, non-yellowing nail treatment. There is no chemicals and no odor. And it’s stronger than acrylic or gel nails,” explained Vincent.

Every experience can be customized to the guests’ desires to provide the perfect escape from the city, whether it’s for a quick massage or an entire day devoted to absolute bliss. 

Savon Spa even offers “Beauty on the Go”, a mobile spa, designed to pamper you at home, in the office, or wherever your travels lead you.

Savon Spa is committed to giving you a perfect, joyful spa day every time you come in. “I have always had expensive taste.  And when I was a computer consultant I was able to travel the world a lot and stay at 5 star hotels and spas. Our goal here is offer a high end experience and make it more affordable. You’ll leave Savon Spa with brighter, softer skin and a brighter, softer soul.”

Holiday Gifts Galore at Randolph Market Dec 15-16

Get your holiday shopping and party planning off to the
right start with wares in all price ranges, from thrifty to extravagant, and
not to mention the brilliant ideas you’ll get in regards to your own holiday

You will discover fabulous keepsakes from embroidered hankies to
estate jewelry with everything in between. Timeless antiques and modern
treasures including vintage and indie fashion, furniture, jewelry, art,
decorative objects, house wares, and more will make this holiday show a
memorable experience. Get a jump on the holiday season, beginning with vintage
cheer spanning the decades!

Have all your holiday decorating, party planning, fashion and entertaining questions answered by the vintage kings and queens at the Randolph Street Market’s 6th Annual Holiday Market, December 15 and 16.

The Randolph Street Market is the perfect one stop shop for your holiday needs when it comes to tabletop, indoor/outdoor décor, holiday fashion and jewelry, and so much more. Make this season as unique as the selection of wares you’ll find at the market with free giftwrap on site and free furniture delivery in Chicago.

Randolph Street’s 6th Annual Holiday Market

Saturday, December 15– 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
Sunday, December 16– 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Beaux Arts Plumber’s Hall, 1340 W. Washington Street, Chicago FREE PARKING in huge onsite parking lot only steps away from entrance    

PRICE: Discounted $8 tickets are available in advance (click here); general admission $10, students with ID $3 or $5 at the gate. Children 12 and under free.

NEW IN 2012: Every paid admission gets a $5 or $10 shopping voucher good toward purchases. For more information, visit

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North Halsted Window Walk Dec. 8th

The Northalsted Window Walk. 

Saturday DEC 8th
A festive little way to support the businesses of Northalsted & an excuse to drink hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps (sm). We will be kicking things off at Space Park at 2pm and then heading out to stroll the street & support businesses without the fear of being bitten or trampled. Additional details are available at Cocktails, shopping and prizes…what’s not to enjoy?

holiday season when you buy a Northlasted Gift Card, you automatically
get an extra 20% value on your card. For example, purchase a $100 gift
card and get $120 on your card!

The best part? The Northalsted Gift Cards can be used at over 70 locations on North Halsted between Belmont and Broadway. Click here to buy your giftcard today.

They always sell out, so get yours before they’re gone!

Seasons Greetings and Tax Season

Season’s Greetings and Happy Holidays!

You know what that means – 
      Tax season is just around the corner!
the 2013 tax filing season could be a “real disaster,” IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman said Thursday, if Congress doesn’t make key tax decisions before Jan. 1.
“You could have a real disaster in the filing season where there is total confusion,” Shulman said during a speech at the National Press Club.
Members of Congress strongly disagree on tax policy and most have agreed to put off any substantive changes until after Nov. 6 elections. That doesn’t leave much time to make decisions and revamp IRS procedures before the traditional Jan. 1 beginning of tax season.

Some strategic planning done before year’s end can amount to significant savings for some. I often meet with clients during the last few months of the year with an eye toward projecting their tax liability and developing a plan to reduce their tax liability.
A self-employed individual can expect to pay approximately forty-five percent tax on income that reaches into a higher tax bracket. Income taxed in a lower tax bracket is taxed at approximately thirty-five percent. The key to managing a tax liability is to know when you have income that goes into a higher tax bracket. 
Single taxpayers pay a higher (25% versus 15%) rate of tax when taxable income exceeds $34,500. 
You want to  reduce taxable income thereby lowering the tax liability. Additional business expenses will reduce all three federal, state and self-employment tax liabilities. Taxpayers can also purchase equipment or vehicles before the end of the year that can net huge tax savings. For example, a$2,000 computer purchase will end up costing only $1,100 when the tax savings is factored into the purchase. Learn what deductions you can or should take. 
There are also tax deductions, retirement funding for example, that we utilize that will reduce the federal tax but not the self-employment tax. Planning and projecting a tax liability is an integral segment of the tax preparation process. If you are a small business entrpreneur that has a tax bill of more than $500, you should be paying quarterly estimated taxes. You could be hit with IRS penalties which can severely impact your business’s cash flow.
In addition to tax deductions there are some tax credits that have been reauthorized and some credits set to expire have been extended for two years.TALK TO SOMEONE WHO KNOWS HOW TO HELP YOU!
Tax credits are beneficial because they directly reduce the tax while a tax deduction reduces the amount of money being taxed. Once again I particularly like the energy credits, particularly the solar credit, and the education credits. Credits for windows and doors still exist, but are capped at 10% up to $500 (windows are capped at $200). 
The modified education credit is now referred to as the American Opportunity Tax Credit. This credit has been expanded to include expenses for course books, supplies, and equipment. The credit is equal to 100% of the first $2,000 spent and twenty-five percent of the next $2,000 per student each year. Therefore, the full credit amount of $2,500 may be available to a taxpayer who pays $4,000 or more in qualifying expenses. 
Remember that I am here throughout the year to answer any questions you might have, and I am looking forward to helping you maximize those tax deductions and credits in the upcoming tax season! MENTION THIS ARTICLE WHEN CALLING OUR OFFICE.
Happy Holidays!
Linu Thomas
Provident Light Advisors

Vanite Paul Mitchell MITCH Party Dec 8th

VANITE Paul Mitchell Salon will be hosting a special party at Minibar, Saturday December 8th! (3341 North Halsted Street )
There will be a champagne reception, lots of MITCH giveaways and a chance to win a trip to LAS VEGAS! It all starts at 9pm. 
As busy men we don’t have the time better yet the knowledge to know
what’s better for our hair. Fast pace life’s full of family, work,
relationships and the gym keep us on the go. Our hair might get
neglected time to time. We don’t have time for shampoo and conditioner!
Do we?
Men I’m here to say yes we do! Thanks to Paul Mitchell and the NEW men’s
Mitch line! Specifically the 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner, Double
Hitter.  Double Hitter is a sulfate-free shampoo with a healthy lather and rich
sent. This 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner is perfect for us on the go!
Washes and leaves our hair full and healthy ready to take on the world!

Special Holiday Sale and Party Dec. 5th
invite you to Celebrate the Holidays and Shop LOCAL.

2 of our favorite new small businesses at one Boystown address!

MEBLE Design Studio & Vanite’ Paul Mitchell Focus Salon

Meet and greet the dynamic mother-daughter duo Agnes & Danuta at Meble Design where they sell antiques, artwork, unique interior design pieces, upholstery and accent items – all AMAZINGLY PRICED.

From pictures and accents to couches and chairs – it’s ALL HERE!
Need a custom piece created or have an item you would like refurbished, updated or bedazzled? That’s their specialty!
ALL guests will enjoy 30% off store items or services discussed during this special event!

ALSO, meet Kinley Preston and her staff at the brand new Vanite Paul Mitchell Hair Salon for men & women.

Kinley will be on hand showing off her gorgeous new salon space and you can pick up Paul Mitchell samples and ENJOY 30% OFF all Paul Mitchell products.

PLUS, everyone gets a swag bag of goodies, just for stopping by!

Come have some wine and cheese and shop and mingle!
Please RSVP, if you can.

Its an Open House event party 5-9pm, so stop in and peruse and mingle anytime convenient and bring a friend.
But if you do stop by during the day, just mention and the 30% off special will apply.

It is so important that we are aware of the small businesses in our community so that we can refer them to friends and support and shop local when we can so that they continue to be in business in the future.

3161 North Halsted Street Chicago, IL 60657

Neck, Back, Shoulder Pain and Holiday Stress? 5 Tips To Help Prevent and Reduce Your Holiday Sufferings

The holidays are a wonderful time of the year for many. Families and loved ones get together and give thanks. People celebrate and take time to reach out to neighbors, friends and their favorite charitable organizations. It is a time Michael and I  thoroughly look forward to each year.

Entertaining, shopping, decorating, socializing, cleaning, cooking-yikes! The added anxiety and stress of all the holiday hustle and bustle can increase our level of physical activity and mental stressors, beyond our usual day-to-day, and intensify chronic neck, shoulder and/or back pain or aggrivate “bad backs” for those occasional sufferers.

Holiday travel may be a huge factor as well. Long, cramped car rides, horrible airplane seats with almost no padding, and for what seems to be hours on end to reach your final destination…  We’ve all been there.  Then, to be taken away from our normal comforts of home, like our heated ergonomic chairs and fluffy, pillowtop mattresses and instead, find ourselves sleeping on Aunt Barbara’s couch or an inflatable twin mattress on the floor. You get the picture.

So here are 5 tips we hope you may find helpful in minimizing physical pain and mental stress this Holiday Season:

1.)  Set yourself up for success!  Establish realistic goals that you truly can accomplish in one day or over a weekend and strive not to be the ultimate people-pleaser, nicely say “No”. Decide what’s most important, prioritize and seek to not overextend yourself.
2.)  Get enough rest and sleep. Yes, you have to get to the store, wrap those gifts, pick up dry cleaning, bake that cake, etc…but sleep deprivation is a big contributor to aggrivating physical pain, especially in the neck, back and shoulder regions.  Do your best to be disciplined and strive to go to bed and get 6 to 8 hours of sleep! If you have difficulty sleeping due to stress or chronic pain, you might want to check with your primary care doctor regarding possible over-the-counter and/or prescription sleep aids or pain medication options so that you can get the rest your body needs.

3.)  TAKE TIME OUT for yourself.  Treat yourself to whatever it is you consider a treat within your budget so you’re not adding even more stress to yourself. Maybe it’s a massage or some time at a spa to relax and rejuvenate and recharge your batteries. Consider asking one of your besties to join in if that would make it more enjoyable for you.

4.)  Think Small(er)!  Plan a small(er) gathering of friends and loved ones, rather than a huge extravaganza. Hosting a large event has many stressors, consider scaling back or hosting 2 small events perhaps instead of one large one.

5.)  Exercise.  #1 on the list should be exercise, but often, it is the fist activity to be nixed and neglected. Exercise is so important because it helps rid the body of stress and stressful toxins. Do what you can do… Take a walk, run, ride a bike, go to the gym…or workout in your home. Nothing beats exercise during times of stress.

If you are in too much pain to exercise, consider visiting a chiropractor for relief. Chiropractic adjustments help to re-align the spine and remove pressure from the nervous system allowing our bodies to better heal themselves once the nerve interference has been removed.

Michael and I both suffer from chronic back pain and regular problematic neck and shoulder pain from too much time spent sitting and on the computer without proper stretching and enough exercise.  We LOVE the chiropractic work of Dale A. Zuehlke, D.C., at Greater Chicago Chiropractic and recommend him highly (561 W. Diversey Suite 221). We do our best to see him regularly for preventative care and maintenance, but to often it is when we are crippled in pain we show up at Dale’s office pleading with him to fix us… fast!

For a free consultation to discuss how he may help you, or to make an appointment for an adjustment call (773) 871-7766 and please tell Dr. Dale Michael and Derrick sent you his way

Greater Chicago Chiropractic   Dale on YELP

Hope This Helps and Wishing Happy Holidays To All!


FRED SAYS Yorkie Raises Money for HIV AIDS Dec. 8th

Who Is Fred?

I’m a cute little yorkie

 with a big heart!

I am a Yorkshire Terrier in Chicago and adopted by my Dad, Rob Garofalo. 

Dad says I’m a miracle because I helped him through
some of the darkest periods in his life (professionally, health wise
and personally).

I seem to have a therapeutic affect on people,
because I’m cute as a button and sassy.

It was Daddy’s idea to put me
to work — using my image to sell boxes of greeting cards. The proceeds
go to care for HIV+ adolescents who do not have health insurance. I don’t
mind because it is a great cause.


Saturday, December 8, 2012
4:00pm until 7:00pm
 @  SCARLET      3320 North Halsted Street

is raising money to support the healthcare of HIV+ Teens this holiday
season at Scarlet! There will be drinks, complimentary hors d’oeurves
from the generous folk at Taverna750, raffle prizes and lots of holiday

Also there will be the live world premiere screening of
Fred’s first promotional video to support the charity’s work — it is
not to be missed!!

So please come join us and bring your friends.

Suggested donation of $10 or $20. The $20 donation includes a box of
Fred Says greeting cards – which make an excellent holiday gift.

Facebook  invite

Holiday Gift Giving with Chicago House

Make your gift giving dollars go further this holiday season! 

 Our good friends at the Old Town Merchants and Residents Association have selected Chicago House as a recipient
of their holiday gift drive.  

From now until December 16th, drop off
non-perishable food items, new and unwrapped toys, new cleaning
supplies, toiletries and new winter coats and clothing to drop off boxes
located at various Old Town businesses.  Items will be donated to the
residents and community clients of Chicago House and Deborah’s Place!  

For more information about how you can participate, click here
Old Town Merchants and Residents Association has been and continues to
be an amazing supporter of Chicago House.  We encourage you to patron
these generous community partners. 

Have a few dollars you want to donate this holiday season?

Your Holiday Gift To
Chicago House Will Go Twice As Far with a $25,000 Match From Chicago
Community Trust and The Sun Times Foundation

   STF Ferro  CCT








Make a
gift to Chicago House this holiday season and it will be generously
matched dollar-for-dollar!  At our 4th annual Speaker Series Luncheon it
was announced that The Chicago Community Trust and The Sun Times
Foundation, will match any individual donation to Chicago House, up to a
total of $25,000, from now until January 3rd.  Don’t wait, donate today! 

Hair Care Tips From Tim Weber of Restoration Salons

I’ve always found ads for products promoting “healthy hair” to be a bit funny. There’s no such thing as healthy hair, is there?  Hair is basically protein and keratin with no blood supply and has no reparative qualities. Hair is not alive, so how can it  be healthy?

 “Well maintained” hair, probably makes more sense. Once damage has occurred, the only way to “repair”  hair is to cut off the damaged length. Of course, a healthy looking head of hair starts with a  great looking haircut,   but that’s just the beginning. Like your car, your hair needs maintenance in order to preserve strength, elasticity, and shine. Here are some hair care tips for men.

Pat / Towel Dry
People are too rough with their hair. Towel drying is one of the biggest causes of damage to men’s hair, believe it or not. When hair is wet, it is highly susceptible to damage. When the hair is rubbed with a towel, some of the hairs become tangled in the threads of the towel and become stretched to the breaking point, causing damage to the cuticle (the shingle-like outer layer of the hair), frizziness, and split ends.

To properly towel dry, shake out the excess water and stroke your hair in the direction it grows, rather than rubbing the hair with the towel. Press the towel to your head – blot the hair, pat the head – be gentle.  Drying takes a bit longer this way but after a few haircuts, you’ll notice the difference in the way your hair looks.

Blow drying is another  common cause of damage to hair. Excessive blow drying can dry out the hair and scalp. If you must use a blow dryer, apply a thermal styling spray or detangler to coat the hair and protect it from damage, use a wide-tooth comb to prevent pulling, and always leave the hair slightly damp. This will prevent over drying the hair.

Avoid High  Heat and Cool Off
Nothing feels better than a piping hot shower, but it’s wreaking havoc on your hair and scalp. Very hot water strips too much of the essential oil from the hair and scalp and leads to dryness. If you like a real hot shower,  do your body first, then drop the water temperature down to do your hair.

Avoid Chemical Treatments at Home
 I recommend avoiding at-home chemical products and seek a good stylist for such services. A stylist will know how to properly prepare you hair and choose the best products for your hair type. Results from a trained professional will almost always look more natural than those which can be produced at home.

ALWAYS Use a Good Shampoo and Conditioner
A good shampoo and conditioner will help cleanse the hair, add moisture and elasticity, and smooth the cuticle to add shine.

Maintain a Healthy Scalp
Hair starts from the scalp, so for hair that’s sleek, strong, and shiny, make sure you take good care of your scalp by following some Scalp Care Tips.

Hair that is subjected to too much sun can become brittle and dry. And
people with balding or thinning hair are especially susceptible to
cumulative and irreversible scalp damage from sun exposure [source: Cheyenne Skin Clinic].
To avoid sun damage, wear a hat. You might also try hair care products
with sunscreen in them (look for Octyl Salicylate/PABA on the label),
but take care to coat your hair evenly in order to receive even

If you’ve ever had your hair professionally shampooed at a salon, you
know the calming luxury of a scalp massage firsthand. However, you may
not know that there is a method to your stylist’s madness. Next time you lather up, take your time and really massage your scalp,
rubbing the pads of your fingers firmly against your head in small
circles [source: Rooks]. You might also consider investing in a scalp massage brush, which can be used while you shampoo or on dry hair.

You may have the perfect hairstyle, but that coif won’t go very far if you don’t take care of your hair. Proper hair maintenance for men goes beyond slapping on some shampoo and running a comb through your tresses; it involves using the right products, getting regular haircuts, and taking care of your scalp.

We LOVE  KEVIN MURPHY products. KEVIN.MURPHY is a fashion focused range of salon only, professional,
hair care products created by Kevin to meet his needs as an editorial

Unsatisfied with the performance of mainstream hair
products, Kevin recognized the need for weightless products that
provided performance,
strength and longevity to support today’s ever
changing looks. 

Born from the same philosophy as skin care and
inspired by nature’s best, the KEVIN.MURPHY range of shampoos,
conditioners, treatments and styling aids, is an indulgence of runway
looks and natural aromatherapy catered for every hair type.

When asked What’s the one hair product every man should own?
Tim Weber of Restoration Salons says, “I emphasize this a lot and many men are starting to get more conscious of this product: conditioner. Conditioners are necessities because a healthy scalp means healthy hair — and not enough men know that.”

Since hair is such a big part of your appearance, keeping it well maintained will make you more attractive and give you confidence.  Following these  simple guidelines will put you on your way to a healthy looking well maintained head of hair.

Tim Weber
Restoration Salons
Lincoln Park, Lakeview and Andersonville

Thinning Hair …and Rene Furterer Treatment at Ambra Spa in Chicago

I was getting my hair cut a few weeks ago and my stylist, who has cut my hair for a couple years, mentioned how thin my hair was getting on top. I guess I hadn’t noticed. I am 6’3″  and don’t really see the top of my head in the mirror.

So I called Ambra Salon and Spa – where I had went  last year for an amazing facial  and the BEST eyebrow shaping in Chicago (by Didi Ayala) I have ever had!

Back to my hair. I knew they had a great salon and wonderful European skin and hair products. So I called and talked with Vicki, a specialist who was trained in Paris under the guidance of the Rene Furterer company.  She booked me an appointment to come in.

“It’s never too late to start treating your hair
,” she explained. “In France, they have young children, boys and girls start treating their hair at about 8-9 years old! But as long as you have some hair, you can definitely slow down the loss process and possibly still stimulate new growth.”

She analyzed my hair then proceeded to give me a scalp massage and treatment using this amazing  Complexe 5, made for thinning hair. The Furterer company  use a lot of plant extracts and essential oils. These  help stimulate hair growth.  It smells and feels amazing! Then I sat under heat for about 10 minutes, and was washed out using Furterer’s  Forticea Stimulating Shampoo. More essential oils and plant peptides to help restore hair.

Treatments can be done at home. Of course, it’s not quite the same.  But  I purchased both the the Complexe 5 oil and Forticea Shampoo- and have been doing the process about once a week.  My hair feels  amazing afterwords! I have only been using it about 3 weeks- so it is too early to see results. But I am confident – the Furterer company has been around for 50 years. They are known all over Europe for their hair and scalp products. (*sidenote- when my  75 year old Mother was in town for the holidays, I got her hooked on the products and purchased at set also from Ambra.)

Ambra Salon and European Spa has several great product lines from Europe that are hard to find here in Chicago.  It’s a cosmetic shoppers paradise!  Next on my list to try is Biodroga skin care. From Baden-Baden, Germany, Biodroga has been around since the 1950’s. They have everything from repair formulas to fix skin, to anti time formulas to slow down the aging process. They have a complete line for men and everything is made in Baden-Baden, known for their amazing thermal baths.

A trip to Ambra Salon and European Spa  downtown is a MUST!
One West Superior, Second Floor      312.337.5055

Best Plumbers in Chicago That We have Found


A  few  months  ago we needed  a  plumber ~ UGH, big sigh, we hate having to find contractors for anything… the drama, the unknown expense and the crazy service charges and fees when you don’t know the lingo and whether or not you’re simply being ripped off. It’s hard to find good honest mechanics and contractors.
We needed and wanted   a new  kitchen sink  installed  to replace  a really old one we hated and timely enough, our aging toilet was acting up and we decided to replace it as well and  we were going to be  “green”  and get a dual-flush, environmentally-friendly  low  water usage toilet as a replacement.

We were flooded with memories… unfortunately, BAD MEMORIES of plumbers past!  About 10 years ago,  we had to hire a plumber to replace a hot water tank in our home. The guy   had given us “an estimate”  that seemed reasonable compared to 2 other plumbing contractors, but afterward, the job then allegedly “took longer” than he thought, so the final bill was  $250  more than the original estimate. 

Plus he was messy and we are sort of clean freaks!  I had to do some major clean up after he left. Neat and tidy are not two words that are often associated with plumbers, or any contractor for that matter. In fact, many drive trucks up on your driveway leaking oil, leave  supply packaging lying around your house, and drag who knows what into your home on their shoes! And can I just say, although it is so stereotypical, most of the time, I really do not care to see a service workers butt crack hanging out of their pants.

Fast forward back to present. Late last summer we had met the  Michael J. Goode,the owner  from Goode Plumbing at an LGBT Business Expo at The Center on Halsted.  Thank goodness we had tossed Mike’s business card in one of our business card piles and easily found it! 

We remembered Mike and his colleague, Jeff looked real professional in their uniforms (dark blue oxfords with company logo and khaki pants), were extremely friendly and seemed very knowledgeable in the few minutes we had chatted. So we had Goode Plumbing came out to our condo, give us a price quote, not an estimate, and again they seemed  very professional and the type of contractors you could trust and were worth hiring.  My partner wanted to get a second estimate, just for comparison, and so we did. The Goode Plumbing quote was better, and  we hired them to do the work.


Mike Goode  says, “We are really committed to providing the highest quality service in the industry. All of our work is done to a standard that we are consistently raising.


We make sure all of our technicians are polite, educated and complete extensive in-house training.  Service and quality are so important. I promise to do my absolute best to ensure that  a client’s  experience with us is excellent. We don’t just promise you the best – I truly want to deliver that for a client.

Our claim of striving to be the best and to give you the best service in the industry is backed by our commitment to on going training, and by giving  the best warranty in the business-if it fails because of the way we installed it, we’ll take care of it for as long as the building we put it in is standing.

We will sell and install only excellent quality parts, products and materials.
We believe in the products that we sell by backing them not only by their own warranty , but ours as well: labor is covered too (not just the parts!) and for a minimum of two years.”


They treat your home and property as if it were their own, leaving nothing behind but an outstanding plumbing job and your complete satisfaction. They even wear shoe covers/footies  in your home.

I can honestly bestow the Best Gay Chicago 5 Pink Crowns Award to Goode Plumbing!


 My other concern when hiring “contractors” are that  many are no more than  “handy-men”. They are not specialists or have  limited knowledge in specific areas. 

Goode Plumbing  is not one of these  “fix-it”  guys who  was  “handy”  and got into  plumbing.  Owner Mike Goode has 17 years  experience and Mike has completed an apprenticeship under a service plumber who owned a plumbing company and had 30 years of experience.

With all the talk about the environment and GREEN,  Goode plumbing is a leader in those new technologies and products and Mike is currently going through a state certification process to be licensed as a GREEN  plumber here in Illinois.

“At Goode Plumbing, we are continuously working to make our company more ecologically friendly. We have available, and encourage clients to ask about our high efficiency water heaters, on-demand water heaters, on-demand water faucets and dual flush toilets. We now use VOX chemicals, including PVC cement and primer. We recycle all cardboard and plastic packaging and all metals. And, our Sprinter diesel vans and restored Volkswagen Vans (modified with emissions controls!) average 20-25 mpg vs. the typical plumbing truck which averages 8-12 mpg. We  continue to make changes to our company that aid in the protection and preservation of the environment.

We offer Rinnai tankless water heaters,  Eternal Hybrid water heaters, A.O. Smith Vertex water condensing water heaters, and Bradford White storage water heaters. There are a number of alternatives to large, inefficient units that can save you money, give you more floor space, and cause less damage to the earth. There are also a number of rebates and credits available for the selection of some energy  efficient units.”

So next time you need a plumber – Don’t  Panic! 
Take our advice  and  call  GOODE PLUMBING!
They also have an outstanding history of happy customers,
and very high ratings  with Angies List!

       GOODE PLUMBING     and   

Best Gay Chicago


UBER New Chicago Black Car Service Taxi

Going to a nice party and you’re all dressed up…and you have to crawl into a dirty smelly yellow cab? ICK!

What about fighting for a cab on a busy Saturday night? How fun is that? Especially if it is freezing cold outside?!

 Personal car service has arrived in Chicago!  UBER.  Everyone’s private driver. A black car service, on demand, from your phone!  What could be easier? While most black car or executive car services require a 24 hour advanced notice, this is on demand.

For years I have used black car services in New York City. But still, you usually need to give some kind of advance notice.

Now you can request a car from any mobile phone—text message, iPhone and Android apps. Uber will send the nearest driver to pick you up, and text message you an estimated arrival time. Cars usually arrive within 5-10 minutes. You can even track your driver right from  your phone.

Your licensed professional driver will park curbside in a sleek black car. Uber will text you again when the car arrives. Hop in the car, tell the driver your destination and you’ll be on your way.

The fee’s are automatically charged to your credit card on file, and  tip is included.  No fuss with money and change. It is the law in Chicago, a cab driver MUST take your credit card. But how many times do they grumble or say their machine is broken?!

We’re changing the way people are getting around by offering a convenient, cashless, and stylish on demand car request service from your mobile phone.”

Sign up with and download the app. It’s that easy!

Sign up at UBER  or by downloading the app and inputting “BESTGAY”. These special promo codes for our readers will get your $10 off your first ride.

Sure it’s a few dollars more than a cab. But it’s worth it to arrive in style and comfort. For me, I found it most economical to ride from Boystown to downtown for events, via Lake Shore Drive.  If the cars have to cut  through the city,and zig zag in traffic, the bill can get a little higher. But it’s about convenience. And a luxury ride.

 Uber takes GPS data from your ride and charges for distance or time depending on your speed. When your Uber is traveling over 11mph, they charge a distance fee. When your Uber is traveling at or below 11mph, they charge a time fee. There is never  extra charges for late night rides, weekend rides, extra passengers, or luggage fees, it’s always the same rate.

“We carefully select which fleet partners we work with and ensure that they have all the proper licensing. We’ve also implemented a rating system for drivers. If his or her rating goes beneath a certain level, we will no longer do business with them. We’re careful to maintain a standard of only doing business with quality, licensed drivers.

When Uber was started it was a service used by us and our friends. We will never allow our friends to be put into an uncomfortable or dangerous situation because of our service.  One of the most important points about Uber service is to get away from those types of situations when looking for transportation around the city.

Currently “UBER – Your Private Driver” in 7 cities:
San Francisco, NYC, Seattle, Boston, Washington, DC, Paris   and now  Chicago!

Arbonne Health and Wellness Products Come to Chicago

I recently discovered  ARBONNE!  

And  wanted to tell you about it!  Arbonne is a highly
regarded, premium brand with a Swiss heritage. The products are healthy,
botanically based and inspired by nature. The Arbonne experience starts
with changing the appearance of your skin, then it’s about changing
your life.  – And with harsh, dry, cold Chicago winters, we can all use a little Arbonne!

know that when it comes to buying skin care, cosmetics and nutrition
products, the recommendations and advice from people you trust are

pure, safe, beneficial™

I was on a search for better anti-aging products, than the ones I was using. And I found Arbonne. They have a line called  RE9  for Men. 4 easy to use products with ingredients to soften and minimize signs of aging and helping with fine lines!

I also love the beach and sun in the summer – and I found that they offer  before and after sun products. And again, these are made with natural ingredients, which is important to me.

Arbonne products are dermatologist-tested and botanically
based. Arbonne offers premium-quality beauty, health and wellness
products with targeted results. “We employ consumer and clinical testing
to reinforce our research and ensure our proprietary formulas deliver
unparalleled performance
.” –  and in most cities, there are local reps to help you make your purchases and offer advice.

Troy Karnoff is my local Chicago specialist.


World Aids Day – FREE HIV Testing Today


observed December 1 every year, is dedicated to raising awareness of the pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection.

has killed more than 26 million people.   and an estimated 35 million
people worldwide live with HIV,  making it one of the most destructive
epidemics in recorded history. It is NOT OVER.

in the U.S. about 50,000 people become infected with HIV annually. New
numbers from the CDC indicate that nearly 1 in 5 people (about 240,000)
don’t know they are infected.

Today from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m., staff members from Howard

Brown will offer free HIV testing at the Brown Elephant

(Andersonville), 5404 N. Clark.

Model, actor,
athlete, designer  Jack Mackenroth
has quickly become the most visible,
out HIV+ advocate and educator in the country… if not the world. With the release of his  gorgeous, sexy 2012 calendar,
he is  raising  both money and awareness for AIDS research, and to
show through his photographs that a person living with HIV can be in top
physical form, healthy and sexy.All proceeds  Benefit  AMFAR.

His  AUTOGRAPHED, high-quality, glossy, limited  edition, 15-month calendar has been selling like hotcakes since September.

The calendar begins in January 2012 and continues through May
2013. Each month features a different photographer with a very different
style.  $14.95!!  Buy a couple. One for you and one for friends!  This
is sure to be a sell out!! And every calendar sold helps the fight!


Shop Local Chicago This Holiday Season

SHOP LOCAL is this theme this holiday season, all over the US. 

Independent businesses are the breadth of our community.
It is important to understand the impact on where you spend your money and how it affects
the community it which you live, work or visit. 

The Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce
has partnered with several business organizations along with Local First Chicago to help
build awareness to the  independent businesses. 

Start saving your receipts!   

Shop locally in Lakeview East and receive a $50 gift card.  Participate in our 15th annual Giver’s Gift promotion.

Collect $300 in receipts from at least 3 businesses ($25 minimum purchase) and receive a gift good at over 150 shops.  
Click Here to learn more

Ambra Salon and European Spa Voted Best in Chicago!


40.  There!  

I said it.
 I turned  40, so what?!


Isn’t 40 the new 30?!

Most gay men are vain. Admit it. You know who you are. We are obsessed with body image, good looks  and a youthful appearance. Luckily my mother always preached Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize!  And I did. Plus I worked in Skin Care for Neiman Marcus for 2 years, so I know there are many products out there that can in fact slow down the hands of time.


The attitude that skin care is a feminine pursuit has changed. More and more men are becoming concerned with good grooming and health on appearance. Straight men included.

Men need to care for their skin no less than women do. They tend to work under harsher conditions and to get greater exposure to pollution.

 I have one word for you….PREVENTION.   I am not a novice when it comes to facials and skincare. I’ve been diligent in taking care of myself for more than 10 years. I am  glad when people comment on how clear, luminous and smooth my complexion is. When it comes to skincare, I don’t go for a bargain. I go for quality. I learned that in this country, bargain and quality almost never coincide. So, for me, when I pay for quality, I am making an investment that is going to translate into great value later on.

When I go for a facial, I look for precision in removing all of the junk out of my face in a manner that is clean and gentle. What matters is that my skin remains clear of blemishes, luminous, well hydrated and firm.  When I leave my facial, I want to be able to go about my business without being red from inflammation.


 A few months ago I discovered Ambra Salon and European Spa downtown. 8000 sq. ft. facility with  7 spa treatment rooms, 1 couples treatment room, 14 styling stations, 9 manicure stations, 6 pedicure stations and a spray tan room.

Thirteen years ago I had a special plan in mind—to provide clients with a refuge from stresses of everyday life.” says owner Marie Bartkova, who is originally from Prague. “We opened in 1998 on N. Rush St. with 2 manicure stations, 3 facial rooms, 2 massage rooms and 2 portable pedicure stations.

In October 2008, during a tough economy, we were growing and needed to expand to accommodate Ambra’s overwhelming demand. We moved to 1 W. Superior St above Roy’s restaurant. The move allowed us to expand our service menu by incorporating a full hair salon and total spa department.”



-Ambra currently offers a full service menu for salon and spa treatments including specialty treatments such as:Different types of Massages,  Laser Hair Removal, Hair Extensions, Full Salon Services, Waxing, manicures, pedicures,  and Facials.

-Designed to naturally improve the condition of the skin and enhance its appearance. Each skin type is treated individually according to personalized needs and desires.Including  24K Gold and Caviar Facials.

-Medical cosmetics such as Botox and Juvederm are available.

-Ambra carries exclusive product lines such as: Biodroga, Pevonia, Rene Furterer, Prive, Schwarzkopf, Goldwell and Biosculpture.

We provide a full menu of body treatments, hair styling, nail services and basic chiropractic care. Both men and women can opt for single treatments or a daylong pampering session featuring massage, nail care, facial and a catered lunch.”  says  Marie.

My staff and I are dedicated to bringing you back to balance with our expertise in hair care and spa services. So whether you’re looking for a quick “pick me up” over lunch or a full day of self indulgence, I invite you to experience Ambra Salon & European Spa.”

Everyone is SO friendly here. The atmosphere is very pleasant, with a very modern decor  and it has a nice calm vibe. The space is immaculate, ALL OF THE TIME! Tabatha Coffey would be proud!

“There are moments when the mind surrenders to the soul, when time stands still and the body travels into a state of relaxation and well being. In today’s fast-paced world these moments are difficult to discover.”

At Ambra Salon and European Spa, these moments happen every day. Come see why their clients say they are  the best in Chicago!


Chicago Antique Market Randolph Street this Saturday Sept. 24

 The Early bird gets…the DEALS! 
And helps Charity! 

Chicago Antique Market Randolph Street this Saturday!

Chicago House  will be on site collecting gate donations during the early buy! Early buyers get the BEST deals, and $10 in shopping vouchers!

Come early, stay late…and shop til you drop!
This European-style, indoor-outdoor urban antique market in the historic West Loop neighborhood features 200 select purveyors of high quality, amazingly priced “finds”, offering unlimited creative inspiration and hours of fun. Shoppers can find furnishings, vintage clothing, jewelry, collectibles, etc.

Early Buying for     Chicago House!
Date: Saturday, September 24, 2011         Time: 8 – 10 am
Where: Randolph Street Market,        1340 W Washington
Advance Ticket: $20        Day of Ticket: $25

(PS – Whoopi Goldberg is just weeks  away!  Do you have your tickets yet??)

Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams Arrives in Chicago

In 1989 when the economy was unstable, Mitchell Gold and his partner, Bob Williams, naively created The Mitchell Gold Co. Since then, despite tough economic times and upheaval in the furniture industry, sales have reached in excess of $100 million. The combination of Gold’s years of marketing experience with Williams’ talents as art director set the course for Mitchell Gold and changed the furniture industry.

One of their earliest ideas, “Relaxed Design,” was based on trends they saw in the apparel industry. Designing furniture Bob Williams would want in his own home – comfortable, classic, affordable – he dressed his pieces in relaxed slipcovers of pre-washed fabrics like denim, khaki and velvet. He also addressed the need for a less-intimidating shopping experience by limiting choices to avoid confusing consumers. Along the way, Williams has received numerous awards, including Design 100 awards from Metropolitan Home magazine.

The company is now a leading home-furnishings brand, carried in such national chains as Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Williams Sonoma Home, and Bloomingdale’s, as well as in more than 60 independent retailers nationwide. In addition, there is a growing chain of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams Signature Stores  –  and they have arrived now in Chicago at  1555 N. Halsted, Lincoln Park, across from the new Apple store.

The grand opening happened last week  was filed with hundreds of Chicago’s designers,  movers and shakers. And DJ Lady Bunny. Bunny is a longtime freind of Gold and Williams and spins at every store opening.

Also there was  very special guest: expert photog Tipper Gore, was there.  Since moving on with her spirited journey through life, she’s had the chance to document some of the most photogenic people and places. Mitchell and Bob have decided they just love her so much, they needed to share her talent with the world, and they now carry a signed collection of her work  in their stores.  To celebrate Tipper’s skilled camera work and introduce her to Chicago’s interiors crowd, they’re having a 20% promotion on all of Tipper’s work.

In the mid 90’s, Gold and Wiliams lead the way in gay media advertising. They were one of the very first companies, to stand up and place major ads in LGBT media. Here was a  nationally recognized furniture brand, portraying gay couples in ads!  Recently,   Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams  received the Public Visibility Award from GLAAD for including LGBT stories in the advertising for their company Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, and for their personal efforts to advocate for LGBT equality. “As with other forms of media, advertising has the power to change hearts and minds,” said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. “Companies that promote fair, accurate and inclusive images of the LGBT community in advertising send an important message to their customers, to corporations and to any consumer who sees their ads. We will be recognizing those companies that do just that, and in so doing, set a standard to which other companies may aspire.”

Also in attendance was 2011 HGTV Design Star winner  Meg Caswell.  Her show GREAT ROOMS  airs on HGTV weekly  5pm (C)  on Saturdays.  

Her Design Studio is  at  1242 N. Wells, is  in an old firehouse with some antiques and accessories! You can see it, on some of her shows. Currently by appointment only. 773-883-6004


Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams

Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
1555 N Halsted Street
Lincoln Park Centre
Chicago, Illinois  60642



Beall Mansion Bed and Breakfast Refuses Illinois Gay Couple

Two gay central Illinois men recently said, “We do,” to having a civil union ceremony, but two bed-and-breakfasts they approached about hosting their event responded, “We don’t.”

Todd and Mark Wathen’s fight against the establishments highlights what advocates say is a growing battle between religious freedoms and gay civil rights.

The Chicago Tribune reported that  when the couple approached the Beall Mansion in Alton in southern Illinois earlier this year, they received an email response that the inn “will just be doing traditional weddings.” A similar message came from the owner of the Timber Creek Bed and Breakfast in Paxton in central Illinois, who said the inn would “never host same-sex civil unions.”

“We believe homosexuality is wrong and unnatural based on what the Bible says about it,” the email from Timber Creek’s owner said. “If that is discrimination, I guess we unfortunately discriminate.”

Steven Amjad, an attorney representing Timber Creek, said religious freedoms are guaranteed by the state constitution.

Andrew Koppelman, a professor of political science and law at Northwestern University, said the question is whether the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act — which protects religious freedoms from government intrusion — can trump the state’s Human Rights Act, which includes the protection of people based on sexual orientation.

“The hotels seem pretty clearly in violation of the Human Rights Act,” Koppelman said. “And if you’re going to say that somebody is exempted from the human rights law under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, that would mean that people could discriminate based on religious views. It’s a slippery slope.”

As civil union and same-sex marriage laws have been enacted in states across the country, similar legal cases have surfaced. In Vermont, for example, a lesbian couple has sued a bed and breakfast for having a “no-gay reception policy.”

Restoration Hair Salon Opens 3rd Location

 In 1993, Tim Weber opened his first salon at 2151 N. Sheffield in  Chicago.  Then came a salon in Andersonville at  5349 North Clark Street.

September 6th, Tim opens his 3rd salon, 3255  N. Broadway in Boystown/Lakeview.

Our focus is on hair. Our goal is to restore. Our desire is to make you happy!”  says  Tim. “We strive to have a relaxed but professional environment. Our salons are comfortable, stylish, and reflect the creativity of our staff.”

We got a sneak peak of the new salon last night! It’s very stylish!

Tim’s Top 5 Tips For Flawless Hair

1. Get a great precision haircut.
2. Use the right shampoo for your hair type.
3. Learn to style your hair with product.
4. Get a cut every four weeks.
5. Tip your stylist well!

Tim Weber Salons

Carlton Gardens…A unique Gift shop in West Michigan Just Past Saugatuck

 Saugatuck and Douglas
are filled with all sorts of little gift shops and art galleries…but once you have seen them all, then what? 

On a recent trip  to Saugautuck someone told me about CARLTON GARDENS. This is West Michigans Best Kept Secret!  But not for long!

Just about 40 minutes from the Saugatuck area, this is an amazing little piece of land, beautifully landscaped and full of all kinds of gifts and art., in Grand Rapids.

Carlton Gardens is much more than an enchanting gift shop with unusual wall hangings, floral arrangements, antiques, and garden décor—with nooks and crannies around every corner. The main house is the first stop.  Lot’s of clothes, jewelry,  purses and accessories, mostly all for women, but also lots of lamps, lights and home decor.

In the surrounding yard and gardens you with find walkways leading to a vast array of yard art, benches, baskets, and unique gifts.

Here in this acre of country hidden right inside the city are 4 gazebos, 2 ponds, 2 bridges and 9 out-buildings: the Barn, the Garden House, the Christmas House, the Potting Shed, the Outhouse, the Coop, Breton Cottage, the Apple House, and Chapel by the Bridge, complete with stained glass windows.

Gifts and trinkets and yard art everywhere. You can literally spend a couple hours here.

In fact, owner Ruth Tucker told us she encourages folks to pack a basket lunch and come on out and spend an afternoon.  One of the lovely screened gazebos has great lawn furniture inside, and shoppers are encouraged to come and hang out and enjoy this hidden gem.

While I find many of the galleries and gift shops in Saugatuck and Douglas, a bit overpriced, I found Carlton gardens  EXTREMELY reasonable!  Huge pieces of metal yard art ran $15-$350.  With many in the $60-$80 range.  It is  so beautiful and very affordable.

The property is filled with all of these little  “sheds”  and buildings, each filled with more art and more gifts!

There is even a little Halloween  building and a Christmas building.

Ruth runs the shop and keeps the grounds up with her husband John. Ruth is actually quite the trailblazer!  (Google her!) 

Ruth A. Tucker was for six years a professor of missions at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, and before that taught for seventeen years at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. She is the author of seventeen books, including From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, Another Gospel, Women in the Maze and Walking Away from Faith.

Ruth was the first full-time woman professor in  Calvin Theological Seminarys 125-year history.    
In 2003, less than 3 months after Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. was installed as the new president,  “I was, without warning, removed from tenure track and given a terminal appointment. I have repeatedly asked that all the evidence be opened only to be blocked by a dishonest cover-up. When independent mediators were retained by the seminary board in 2005, they called for “retroactive pay to 2003,” among other things. That report was buried. I finished my second terminal appointment on August 31, 2006.”   Talk about an emotional roller coaster!


 So these days she and her husband devote all of their time to  the gift shop and all of its grounds. It really truly is enchanting! I have never seen anything like it. And I encourage anyone looking for unique gifts to give, or for yourself or your yard, make the drive to see Ruth and her amazing gardens!  Plan to spend a couple hours, and bring your checkbook. I don’t see how anyone could possibly leave this place without buying something. Four of us went to the shop and all left with bags of gifts!

Ruth said a lot of gay people have discovered her little shop over the last few years and word has been spreading. 

Her and her husband have actually had the store since 1996. But in recent years have made a lot of changes and additions. They are ALWAYS working on it. In fact, since I was there in July, they have made more changes and additions!

 And they are always getting in new merchandise.
“Much of unique yard art comes from various artists around Michigan.

Ruth says, “Sure, we sell sculptures (and chimes, bird houses, furniture, floral, baskets, pillows, paintings, clothes, collectibles, jewelry and much more). But you need not purchase a thing. Just come and enjoy our wonderful grounds. Bring a lunch and eat it in one of our four gazebos, two of them by waterfalls. Wander over the bridge into our sculpture garden where magic unfolds! 

Hope to see you soon!”

3140 Breton Rd. S.E. ,  3 blocks south of 28th St. S.E.
See lots of  photos on the website  and on Facebook.
Phone: 616-974-1062
Hours: Mon-Fri: 10 am-5 pm ,   Sat: 10 am-3 pm

*PS –   While you are in Grand Rapids, you might want to visit  Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Comprised of 132 acres of natural wetlands, woodlands, meadows and display gardens, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is a year-round experience with indoor tropical, arid, carnivorous, Victorian and seasonal gardens, changing sculpture galleries with exhibitions by international artists, and outdoor acreage featuring an internationally acclaimed Sculpture Park, Children’s Garden, Michigan’s Farm Garden, amphitheater for summer concert events, nature trails and boardwalks.

Absolutely the Best Segway Tours in Chicago

  SUMMER IS  IN FULL SWING  – AND THE WEATHER HAS BEEN GORGEOUS (for the most part) here in Chicago!  And what better way to see the city than on a SEGWAY?!

Did you know?? You can cover about 7-8 MILES of the city, sightseeing in about 2 hours?

Riding the Segway  feels like nothing you’ve ever experienced because there’s never been anything like it. Step on and your instinct will be to steady yourself, as you would on anything with two wheels.

Almost immediately you’ll realize that the Segway  is balancing for you, almost like it has become an extension of you. Just lean forward a little and you’ll see that the Segway  isn’t moving you on its own; it’s moving in response to you and what you tell it to do. It all feels natural and really cool.

The Segway  uses LeanSteer™ Technology to move you from Point A to B. Gently move the LeanSteer frame and handlebar left or right in the direction you want to travel and feel the machine respond almost instantly.

The Segway  balances by using five micro-machined angular rate sensors and two accelerometers that sense the changing terrain and your body position at 100 times per second.

But enough about the mechanics.  I have rode on several tours with Absolutely Chicago Segway Tours   And it was  a great tour and experience!

The owners of the company have over 50 years of combined experience in the hospitality industry, having owned and operated some of the most successful, recognized and reputable restaurants and companies in the Chicagoland area. When starting Absolutely Chicago Segway Tours it was clear that they wanted to create that same memorable service, and to leave visitors with a wonderful impression of Chicago. 

Whether you have lived here all of your life – or just moved here –  riding and touring a Segway in Chicago, you learn SO MUCH!   The Segway itself is only one part of the total touring experience. “We believe that your tour guide will have the biggest impact on your experience. At the risk of bragging, we have the best guides in the business, bar none. That’s because we only hire the best. They have undergone extensive Segway certification training. They have to be professional, courteous, and articulate. So whether the group is comprised of teens, grandmas, or corporate execs, our guides can connect with everyone.” says owner Timmie McGuire Cortina.

They offer several different tours and those can change with the season, and the weather. We recently took the 8 mile / 2 hour Museum Campus tour. Before you can go on a tour, you have to watch a short safety film, then there is a short “class” learning session. But it’s real easy.

With Summer reaching the half way point, get your butt out there and check it out! It’s a fantastic fun time!!

Absolutely Chicago Segways  is located right near Millenium Park at 337 E. Randolph.
If you drive downtown and tour with them, you can park with them for $10 for the day.
Call 312-552-5100 to make your reservations
Tell them Best Gay  sent you!

HELP WANTED –  By the way, they are looking for  Spanish Speaking/Bi-lingual guides. What a job?!  Get outside and enjoy the summer weather, while touring the city and sharing your love of Chicago, with others!  Send a resume  to  Absolutely Chicago Segways !