Ask for Table 23 at Koi

One of Evanston’s popular Asian restaurants sponsors a clever way of promoting and donating money to worthy local charities.  Koi selects a different Evanston-based charity every month and tastefully promotes it to their on-site dining, carryout and delivery clientele, making it very easy for those audiences to donate $1 or more with their order.  Koi also promises to donate 1% of all edamame sold during the month to the charity, so be sure to order edamame when you order your lunch or dinner.

But the best and most generous contribution from Koi is Table 23.


Ask for Table 23 by name when you make your reservation; you can’t just walk in and request it.  It’s the best table in the restaurant and 20% of the sub-totaled bill, minus tax and gratuity, is donated to that month’s charity by the restaurant. Yup, you read that correctly–20%! The lucky beneficiary for June is Senior Connections, an organization near and dear to my heart.

Senior Connections recruits, trains and supports volunteers who visit and befriend homebound or isolated older people living in Evanston.  There are other organizations who provide meals, medical assistance and transportation to seniors, all wonderful and necessary services, but only Senior Connections provides companionship. Volunteers typically spend an hour a week visiting with their senior.  There is no cost to enroll and the resulting friendships benefit both the senior and the volunteer.

Kudos to Koi on initiating this great way to give back to the community!  And think about volunteering with Senior Connections. You can make a difference in someone’s life.

Koi is located at 624 Davis Street in Evanston and open for lunch Monday through Saturday and for dinner every day. Senior Connections (847-869-0682) is located at the Reba Place Ministry Center at 535 Custer Avenue in Evanston, one block west of the South Boulevard Purple Line stop.

Indulge Your Inner Wine Goddess

Any store with a sign proclaiming ‘Wine is cheaper than therapy’ gets my attention. The Wine Goddess is that store and it’s worthy of a visit.

The friendly locale established by proprietress Diana Hamann caters to everyone from the beginner to the oenophile.  Hamann demystifies wine with her knowledge and genuine enthusiasm–it’s something she loves and wants to spread that gospel to everyone who walks in her store.  She offers on-site classes on at least 30 different wine-related topics throughout the year; the store is also available for private wine tastings and similar events.

The Wine Goddess hosts weekly wine tastings on Fridays (5:00 to 8:00 PM) and Saturdays (2:00 to 5:00 PM) where $5 lets you try five different wines.  The store is bright and cheery…it’s a happy store with cozy furniture, a play area for kids, and bistro tables and chairs outside when the weather cooperates.  The retail array includes plenty of food and gift items that can be paired with wine, an entire section of local beers, spirits and Champagne, and of course wines from all over the world.

Celebrate anything, everything and nothing in particular with wine from The Wine Goddess.  Located at 702 Main Street in Evanston, a half a block west of the Main Street CTA and Metra stops.  Open every day except Mondays.

Dave’s Down to Earth Rock Shop Rocks!

There are many wonderful things about Evanston, but top on my list this week is Dave’s Down to Earth Rock Shop and Prehistoric Life Museum.  That’s a long name for a small store, and with good reason: there are many exciting and unique items packed into this space.  It is unlike any other store I’ve been to or experienced.

Do you have a loved one or friend for whom it is difficult to shop for gifts?  Is your favorite toddler going through the inevitable dinosaur phase and needs a fresh fix?  A visit to Dave’s might just do the trick.

The staff is friendly, proactive and helpful.  They know their merchandise and are happy to guide the scientifically and archaeologically mystified customer.   On the shelves and on the walls at Dave’s you can find exotic gemstone beads in a myriad of colors; unusual dinosaur games, posters and puzzles; gorgeous, decorative and practical crystals and carvings; Native American artifacts; fossils–and more.  You will not look at rocks the same way after you visit Dave’s.

Dave’s also hosts a self-guided and free museum in its basement dedicated to prehistoric life.  The museum, packed with artifacts from the private collection of David and Sandra Douglass (the store’s founder), includes fossils from every period since Precambrian times and the largest display of fossils local to Illinois.  It’s a worthy destination for school classes and clubs throughout the year.

Shake off your retail boredom and indulge your curiosity.  Go to Dave’s. There is nothing like it anywhere in Evanston.

Dave’s Down to Earth Rock Shop and Prehistoric Life Museum resides at 704 Main Street in Evanston, half a block west of the Main Street CTA and Metra stops.  Open weekdays and Saturdays; closed on Wednesdays and Sundays.

A Purple Corner in SE Evanston

I love color.  Rich, saturated chroma draws me in.  While I admire many colors, I am partial to purple.  My bedroom walls glow a deep purple, I collect amethyst glass, and incorporate different patterns of fabric with purple on my pillows and upholstered furniture.

Despite my admitted attraction to purple, it was only by coincidence that I ended up living in a town served by the CTA’s Purple Line, so named because purple is Northwestern University‘s official color.  I enjoy the purple highlights of Northwestern pride around Evanston–the lights in the fountain on Davis Street, the purple fire hydrants, and the liberal sprinkling of purple flowers that pop up from the grounds to signal winter’s end.

A mile and a half south of campus there is a patch of land lovingly tended by an urban gardener.  Bordered by an apartment building and the sidewalk, it looks wild and untamed.  It is lush and deep, the antithesis of a manicured lawn.  I walk by it nearly every day and admire its density and array of plant life.  Today all the various shades of purple on this small plot glowed in harmony.  The effect was stunning and complex, ranging from soft shades of violet to a Cabernet color that was nearly black.  It was breathtaking and artistic, a gem among the ordinary goings on of commuters, school children, dogs and dog walkers, my own private purple showcase.