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You can find some local products at Champaign Outdoors

You'll find mostly national brands when browsing the merchanside at Champaign Outdoors, but hidden in plain sight among the racks of The North Face, Patagonia, and such are some  created by local artisans. As the store moved to it's new location last fall, Director of Inventory Suzanne D'Andria wanted to add some local vendors to the mix. "I thought it would be a really great thing — since we are a family owned, local place and we’re really working on supporting the community — to support our local artisans...It means a lot to me, and to the store, and to our story to support people in the community, tells our story, and adds a nice touch to the store."

Initally brought in for holiday gift-giving, the local additions were well-received and have remained on the shelves. Here's what you can find:

The Wright Soapery

Jackie Wright brings batches of whatever soaps she has on hand, and has also created a signature scent just for Champaign Outdoors.

Wine & Wicks

These are created from repurposed wine and beer bottles (hence the name), and Champaign Outdoors always keeps the Campfire and Evergreen on the shelves, naturally. 

The Silver Acre

Created by a local photograper, these calendars, note cards, and gift tags feature local vegetation. 

Elusive Society

You can find a handful of styles from this Urbana, IL atelier.

Smiling Snake Shirt Company

These inspired-by-nature shirts are screen-printed by hand in Oakwood.

Photos by Julie McClure

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It’s a good day for an Italian soda at Cafe Kopi

Warmer weather is finally here! It has me craving something refreshing to drink, and in addition to Maize's watermelon agua fresca, I often think about Cafe Kopi's Italian soda. 

It's carbonated water with flavoring in it (you know, soda), and you can choose your flavor. I recently ordered cherry. It was super refreshing and delicious. This is the perfect drink for those days when you're stuck working at your computer, and need a reminder of nice things. 

Cafe Kopi
109 N Walnut
Champaign
7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily

Photos by Jessica Hammie

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Three chances to check out what local art students are up to

If the official end of Boneyard Arts Festival has you wanting more art openings, this weekend offers two chances to check out what our local art students are up to.  There's a lot of young talent in this town, so make your way out Krannert Art Museum and Parkland College's Giertz Gallery and see for yourself. 

Opening Night // 2019 Master of Fine Arts Exhibition
Saturday, April 13th, 5 to 7 p.m.
Krannert Art Museum
500 E Peabody Dr, Champaign
Free and open to the public
This show will be up through April 25th
Photo from KAM Facebook page
 

51st Annual Juried Student Art and Design Exhibition
Giertz Gallery at Parkland College
Reception: April 11th, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
2400 W Bradley Ave, Champaign
Free and open the public
This show will be up through May 4th
Photo from Giertz Gallery Facebook page

 

2019 School of Art + Design Bachelor of Fine Arts Exhibition
Krannert Art Museum
May 4th through May 12th
500 E Peabody Dr, Champaign
Free and open to the public
Photo from KAM Website

 


 

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Seven random things you can purchase at The Idea Store: Easter basket edition

Easter is just around the corner, and even if you aren't a person who observes the whole religious aspect of the holiday, you might still be a person who enjoys some Cadbury Creme Eggs and doing the whole Easter basket/egg hunt/bunny thing. I personally have always been a touch creeped out by the thought of a giant bunny entering the house to hide things, or having my kids sit on the lap of said giant bunny, so we kind of left that part out and stuck with the eggs and baskets. 

If you're looking for some unique items to fill your child's (or someone else's child's) Easter basket this year, The Idea Store has you covered. Sure you could just load it up with candy and brand new toys, but why be basic and boring. Maybe this year, you can think outside the box. 

They for sure have your basics covered:

Get your plastic eggs here too (shown above). Seriously. Don't go buy more plastic. Reuse!

And now a few items to fill those baskets:

1. Those plastic bubble toys that you used to beg for in the grocery store

These little treasures were always placed right at the exit, where maybe mom still had her wallet out and would give you 50 cents to put in the machine. Now they are all right here for the taking...for just 25 cents!

2. Creepy eyeglasses

3. Fortunes without the cookies

Give your kids some wisdom for their lives, as well as reading practice, without the hassle of crumbs and half eaten cookies.

4. Mark Twain finger puppet and magnet

5. Pringles can warmer

Because it really sucks to be stuck with cold Pringles.

6. Doll faces

7. Metal tab thing that you see outside of exam rooms at doctors' offices

Kids like to pretend, right?

In all seriousness, even if the above items are a bit too far outside the box (or basket) for you, The Idea Store does have a bunch of toys, puzzles, educational items, craft supplies, etc. that are perfectly normal items, to put in an Easter basket. You can be kind to the environment, save a little cash, giving you more to build up your secret stash of Starburst jelly beans.

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Winter is coming at Crane Alley

Crane Alley is ready for the final season of Game of Thrones, which premieres this Sunday, April 14th. The restaurant has some specials this week to help you get into the mood:

Burger of the Week: Dracarys
Chipotle black bean burger topped with chili infused goat cheese, red jalapeño and blackened bacon.

Drink Specials: Of Fire and Blood, Red Wedding, Mother of Dragons, White Walker.

Featured beers: Victory Dirt Wolf and New Holland Dragons Milk!

Sadly, I'm pretty sure those dragon figurines do not come with your meal. 

Crane Alley
115 W Main
Urbana
11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily

Photos from Facebook

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Look at this bananas foster doughnut from Harvest Market

We know how much this community loves doughnuts. There's been a lot of doughnut news this week alone, here and here. Not to pile on too much, but this is worthy of sharing. This new doughnut at Harvest Market looks absolultely delicious. I bet it won't last very long in the store, so race you there?

2029 S Neil St
Champaign
6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily
 
Top photo from Facebook
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Clever Moose at Lodgic has an updated menu

Clever Moose, the bistro/cafe at Lodgic Everyday Community, has an expanded menu. There are more lunch items available, plus a decently sized all day breakfast menu. 

I stopped in last weekend for a quick little lunch. I had the chicken crunchers ($9 for 4 pieces) and my husband had the cheddar and chive waffle with arugula and two eggs ($8). 

Check out the menu below. 

Clever Moose Cafe
Lodgic Everday Community 
1087 S Neil St
Champaign
M-F 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Sa + Su 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

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You had to have seen these Decatur billboard memes coming

Billboards went up within the last week or so essentially throwing various communities under the bus in order to promote Decatur as a city. After some serious backlash on social media, the billboards were taken down, and then, the Internet took their turn at the campaign.

These billboards were posted all over C-U, which included the one above, as well as jabs at Springfield and Peoria, too (photo credit Nick Rainey):

UPDATED: Our mistake, the billboards appeared only in Decatur, not in C-U as previously stated. Apologies for the misinformation.


This is so teed up, it is almost too easy.

Here are some I saw on Facebook:





UPDATE: Wednesday, April 3 at 10 am: Here's a statement from Champaign County EDC's Director, Carly McCrory, in regards to these billboards:

In response to the billboards in Decatur, we have the following statement:

It was unfortunate to see the messages displayed on billboards in Decatur comparing cities in central Illinois. As regional economic development groups working to build our communities, we believe that we are stronger when we work together to showcase our community, region and state assets to build a stronger Illinois economy.

The billboards were removed by 2 PM yesterday, Monday, April 1.

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Here’s what the Target development at Sixth and Green looks like

Back in November, rumors were swirling (and sort of confirmed) regarding the new development on Sixth and Green Street that would turn into a CityTarget space. Per The News-Gazette's report this morning, those renderings are available and visible, and confirmed via Target's website.

A lot of buildings have come down in this area, including Firehaus and Clyborne just around the corner, and this Hub will be in its place. Check out the rendering:

Photo from Target

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Mas Amigos is back

Do you remember Mas Amigos? The Mexican restaurant was on Springfield, just west of First Street. The building is now gone, but everytime I drive by the empty lot I think of those delicous tortilla chips. (Read our review from 2009 here.)

The restaurant had a short stint on University Avenue in Urbana, but that was a several years ago now. 

But good news — Mas Amigos is back in business, under the same ownership. It's now located in that awkward little strip mall on North Neil between Vine and Maple, just across the street from the post office. 

The menu is pretty limited, but I had a pork taco and a cheese quesadilla, and both were great. There's seating inside, and I'm looking forward to going back and trying a few more things. 

As you can see from the photos, they're still finshing off the details, but all signs point to a very promising future. 

Photos by Jessica Hammie