Mary Ann Taylor had the energy for a lot of things: giving thanks for her friends, reciprocating the love and adoration of her family, and facing down cancer without so much as a complaint. But when it came to tasks that required physical exertion, she often needed some help. Thus, her bedroom – where she spent much of her time battling her disease – often fell into disarray. Mary’s cousins took it upon themselves to clean and rearrange her room when they’d visit, and were overcome with happiness when they saw how these small efforts gave Mary great joy and renewed her outlook on life.
Sadly, Mary passed away in January of 2008. After her passing, one of her cousins recognized the need to both honor Mary’s name and extend the joy of a bright and cheerful room to other patients battling breast cancer, and Mary’s Room was born. Today, the organization works closely with people who’ve either survived or are currently in the midst of their battle with breast cancer. The organization provides them with free interior decorating services to transform their personal living spaces and bedrooms, giving them uplifting, comfortable, and peaceful settings in which to carry on their fight.
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Since its inception in 1999, Adagio Teas has filled the cups of its ever-growing customer base with farm-fresh gourmet teas harvested from across the globe. Seasoned sippers and new tea drinkers alike gather around the fragrant vapors of Adagio's expansive selection, which includes thousands of unique green, chai, and herbal teas. In addition to its stockpile of potables, Adagio Teas puts an innovative spin on tea ware with a varied collection of ceramic sets, Asian-inspired pots, and electric kettles that purr when plugged in or tickled gently with unused leaves. Adagio Teas' products fill the virtual shelves of its online store, and can also be found in many gourmet and health-food shops.
Paranormal investigator Kevin Frantz, author of Naperville, Chicago's Haunted Neighbor, has led visitors through spooky Naperville settings while dispensing historically accurate yarns for eight years. As they make their way through these eerie locales, Kevin invites guests to snap their own photographs in the pursuit of a keepsake paranormal portrait.
From Häagen-Dazs' Belgian dark chocolate and Madagascan vanilla beans to Popcorn Palace's U.S.-grade-AA butter and whole macadamia nuts, both companies use top-quality ingredients to craft their signature goodies. Popcorn Palace's 27 popcorn varieties fall into four flavor categories—Supreme, Sweet, Savory, and Simple—and are cooked in small batches to ensure that each kernel has a sense of its own self-worth. Supreme flavors, such as white-chocolate peanut butter, treat palates to a salty symphony of flavors, and Simple kernels take taste buds back to childhood cinema outings. Häagen-Dazs's numerous, diverse flavors of ice cream, yogurt, and sorbet fill cups, cones, and milk shakes with the sweet, frosty essence of coffee or mint chip.
Founded in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1996 by pet owners who were sick of bothering neighbors to care for their furry charges when they were busy or away, Out-U-Go! keeps beloved animals happy when their owners are unavailable. Certified members of Pet Sitter International, Out-U-Go’s fully licensed and bonded pet professionals undergo a rigorous screening process, putting in time at the company's Dog Walk University to learn how to deal with willful pets, calmly handle emergencies, and internalize animals’ fear of vacuums. New customers start off with a free meet and greet, with sitters coming to the house to meet dogs, cats, and smaller critters, and discuss special needs and routines. Services range from daily walks to full-time housesitting and pet taxi rides to groomers, vets, and kennels.
With its massive selection of varietals and styles, Lynfred Winery seems determined to make something for almost any wine drinker. The cellar brims with everything from bold, spicy reds to crisp and refreshing whites, as well as fruit wines made from apples, cherries, rhubarb, and pears. The grapes arrive from vineyards throughout California and Washington state, although the rest of the fruit typically comes from a bit closer to home, including growers throughout Michigan and Wisconsin. Despite this variety, the staff's commitment to approachable, fruit-forward flavors characterizes virtually everything that the winery makes.
This dedication to easy drinking seems only natural given the winery's origins in a home basement. In 1975, Fred Koehler, along with his wife Lynn, decided to try to re-create the family wines his father and grandfather had made throughout the 1920s. The batches grew larger with each passing vintage, and, in 1979, Fred and Lynn chose to upgrade their homespun hobby into a commercial venture. Within six years, Lynfred Winery's creations began to appear in the national spotlight as they garnered awards and medals from wine competitions across the country. This attention allowed Fred to swell production even more, eventually expanding to a larger location in 1990.
Fred and Lynn's legacy continues to inspire the staff as they operate a facility that creates more than 100,000 gallons of wine each year using as many as 80 varietals. These wines appear on restaurant menus, on retail shelves, and inside fish tanks throughout the Chicagoland area.