Category Archives: Shopping

Flowers & Weeds, a Cherokee Street Gem

This past weekend, my friend Melissa and I checked out Cherokee Street for the very first time.

Located in South City, this historic shopping district stretches for blocks and overflows with antique stores, boutiques, and also duly noted, an abundance of Mexican restaurants. Since it was late afternoon, we cruised the length of the famed street and decided to stop in at one place in particular – Flowers & Weeds.

The shop bills itself as a “floral studio, urban flower grower, and greenhouse.” And it thoroughly lived up to those expectations.

The entrance was flanked by antique carts laden with flowers. As we stepped inside, the interior opened up like a Pinterest-lover’s dream. Neat stacks of patterned pots; rows upon rows of succulents and small cacti; figurines and other treasures hidden among planters and terrariums; dressers spilling over with greenery. Everywhere I looked was inspiration overload.

We wandered around until just before closing time, taking in everything from the table full of air plants to the terrarium-making station to a cat curled up in what I imagine must be its favorite spot. Within the next several weeks, the outside of the greenhouse will also fill in with an abundance of annuals, perennials, vegetables, and other plants, as area St. Louisans gear up for gardening season.

In honor of it being the first week of spring, I just wanted to share some photographs of this lovely shop and inspire your inner green thumb. Take a look (click any photo to scroll through a gallery), and head on over to check it out for yourself in person! You won’t regret it.


Know Before You Go

Address: 3201 Cherokee St, St. Louis, MO 63118

Hours: Open Tuesday – Sunday


Why I Look Forward to Going Back: I can’t wait to return for a girls’ outing to make our very own terrariums! No appointment needed – just stop by during business hours, and they’ll set you up at a workstation at the rear of the shop. You can bring your own container or use one of the beautiful vessels available there.

Fun Fact: Flowers & Weeds is a completely women-owned and run business. Check out this video, where you can meet the owner and see her in action.



Shop Small

In the Sauk Valley area, it’s a movement known as Shop Small.

Across the nation, it might be better known as Small Business Saturday, sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday in a weekend of shopping extravaganzas.

Last week I was working on stories for Sauk Valley Media’s upcoming gift guide.

I was interviewing the owner of a small gift shop in Sterling about jewelry. Between questions, one employee looked intently at my wrist.

“Where’d you get that bracelet?” she asked. “We carry ones just like it. Blue, black.”Bracelet

“It was a few summers ago,” I said. I told her I didn’t really remember.

But I did.

Kohls. The popular department store, which came to Sterling a few years ago, has more than 1,100 U.S. locations. I don’t feel guilt about where I bought the bracelet from, but that lady’s simple question prodded my brain.

“They say a dollar spent in the community turns seven times,” the co-owner of a jewelry store in Dixon told me at another interview.

Small businesses have to stick together these days. The French Market I blogged about in September was a collaboration between several businesses in Princeton’s Art District, and it successfully generated business and buzz about stores many people drive past but seldom enter.

This post is not meant to scold people for not shopping locally, and it’s not meant to condemn shopping at nationwide chains. Rather, my intent is to raise awareness about local businesses. Shopping locally is going to be a part of my personal push to live where I am. Along with exploring local parks, which I’ve done a lot of this fall, I think it’s worth delving into local shops and eateries. I want to get all that I can from this area before I move on. And when I do, I want to carry a local mentality with me.

I’ve rethought my Christmas shopping strategy for this year. I’m going to make my list earlier than usual and see what Princeton, Dixon and Sterling have to offer before I go elsewhere.

I put this thought into action right after the gift shop interview. Bushel Basket Candle Co. adjoins the Sterling Mall and has an array of wonderful-smelling candles. I knew from the moment I walked in that I’d leave with something.

What inspiration will you find this season from shopping small?

French Markets and Painted Pumpkins

Autumn Collage
From top left to bottom right: my haul from the market, “The Scream” replicated on a pumpkin, an attempt at painting a sunrise, a delicious hazelnut truffle.

Even the weather seemed to know about the change of season. Temperatures dipped the last few days, and today was no exception. North-central Illinois topped out in the low 60s, perfect jeans and sweater weather for an afternoon outing.

I found out about this “French market” last night as a Facebook event. Local stores and vendors in Princeton’s North End Art District planned to set up on the city’s wide downtown sidewalks and bring event goers a taste of the European country. It was smaller than I expected, but it was lovely. Quality over quantity. That’s what this soirée was.

On one side, one vendor sold dessert crepes while another beside him gave away tidbits of savory pork in hopes of enticing passersby to sit for a meal. I bought a dessert crepe: #5, which was topped with chocolate, caramel, and pecans.

Most of the shops on the other side had tents up, and many were strung with lights. I was told that an image of the Eiffel Tower would be projected onto a storefront at dusk to add to the ambiance. My friend and I slowly perused the wares, antiques and jewelry lining each table. In one tent, a box of sea glass pendants caught my eye. They were varying shapes and sizes wrapped in wire and accented by different colors of Swarovski beads. At $25 a piece, buying one was my splurge for the day.

Our time downtown would have been brief if store owners hadn’t also extended their hours for the day. I have to admit, I’m not a frequent visitor downtown, so we poked our heads in one store and ended up walking through every square foot of that retail space. I’ve bookmarked some items in my head that would make good Christmas presents. The North End Art District may see me again in a few short months.

Before we departed for the next leg of our adventure, we skirted the tents back to one that sold coffee and truffles. I sampled a cocoa-covered hazelnut one with a nutty center. What a treat!

The Facebook event page said this is the first of an annual event, and I hope this is true. I thoroughly enjoyed the quaint, cultural atmosphere. My only complaint: I didn’t see the caricature artist, but we may not have walked the entire premises of the market. If I’m in the area again next year, I will definitely stop by.

Next stop was a park on the edge of town. The mission: paint little pumpkins we had previously purchased at Walmart for 78 cents per pound. My friend is in art education and therefore maintains a rather extensive stash of acrylic paints and brushes.

We claimed a picnic table in one of the shelters and set up our work station. For me it was like a trip back to grade school, lining up outside the janitor’s closet to rinse dirty paintbrushes in the industrial-sized sink after an art project.

I didn’t have a particular image in my head of what I wanted to paint, so I drew a face on in charcoal with a curly mustache before abandoning that idea and choosing to try to replicate the sunrise I saw that morning. My friend had her idea down pat. She looked up an image of “The Scream,” by Edvard Munch, on my phone and set to work. Check out the picture. Hers turned out amazing, and you can barely make out an abstract version of a sunrise on mine.

My pumpkin will be going on the front stoop soon so everyone can see it.

Between a French market and painting a pumpkin, what better way is there to commemorate the beginning of fall?