Nooks & Crannies, Summer/Fall Edition

Check out these unusual and inventive stores around our area.

Spilled Paint
9424 E. Scott Road, Stillman Valley, Ill., (815) 985-5621,

Award-winning fiber artist Marie Carter is not only doing what she loves, but she’s helping others to explore their own creativity.
The barn her parents renovated on their family farm not only offers a space for Carter to display and sell her wares, but also plenty of room for her workshop.The name refers to the mess that often follows the creative process.
“I have three stations set up, for glass work, spinning and felting, and an area for mixed media painting,” she says. “Art is my passion, and I want to share it with others.” A northwest Illinois native, Carter says she began painting murals for a living, but it was in Florida, where she was working as a nanny, that she discovered the business potential in doing what she loves.
“I worked for a woman who made glass, and I helped her with shows,” she says. “I had no idea that there was such a network of shows for marketing your own creations.”
Carter’s painting evolved into other media, especially fiber arts and doll making. Her dolls have won awards, and she was featured in a doll making publication. She dyes her own wool and silk, and makes glass beads for original jewelry, as well as commissioned and personalized pieces.
Interested parties can check online and schedule classes in painting, glass beading, felting, leatherwork and more, either one-on-one or in groups. Regular hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, but Carter lives on site, so she suggests calling on other days to see if she’s available.

The Green Door
1606 11th St., Monroe, Wis., (608) 325-2424,

Partners Nancy Maliszewski and Judi Henke shopped with two other friends in Greendale, Wis., at The Shop Around the Corner. “I loved the stuff there, and there was nothing like that in Monroe,” says Maliszewski. “We wanted to do something fun, so we decided to fill that niche.”
Their 2,000-square-foot space has the latest in home trends, and a variety of unique and charming home décor, furniture, lamps, rugs, candles, wall hangings and more. Top brands include Riverside Furniture, Uttermost and Woodwick Candles. “We’re going into fun kitchen items – linens, dinnerware, gadgets, some dishes,” Henke says. Two big gadget brands stocked are Zyliss and Joseph Joseph.
Seasonal items are big at The Green Door, and the owners enjoy decorating the store for seasons and holidays. “At Christmastime, we have eight different trees decorated in themes,” says Henke.
The partners offer free gift wrapping, gift certificates and fulfillment of special requests. “We want shopping to be fun and unique,” says Maliszewski. “We have something for the person who has everything.”
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m- 4 p.m, Sun. 1-4 p.m.

The Crystal Cork Wine Shop
219 W. 1st St., Dixon, Ill., (815) 285-3496,

Tucked among the downtown retail shops and eateries is this one-of-a-kind wine shop, opened more than five years ago by Dixon native Eric Brantley, who also own Trein’s Jewelry Store. “We carry 140 different wines from around the world – Japan, Argentina, Italy, Germany,” he says.
Shoppers can also find a variety of gift items for wine lovers: bottle stoppers, wine bottle coolers, charms to identify wine glasses and more. “One of our best sellers is a chocolate-covered bottle of wine,” Brantley says. “You break off the chocolate and drink it with the wine.”
It’s also a place to sit and enjoy a beverage while visiting with friends. “We specialize in wine, martinis – 80 different kinds – and craft beer,” says Brantley. With two floors, the space can accommodate 108 and is available for special events such as weddings, wedding showers, receptions, birthday and anniversary parties and rehearsal dinners.
Hours: Tues.-Wed. 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Thurs.-Fri. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Valley Orchard
811 E. State St., Cherry Valley, Ill.(815) 332-9696

Valley Orchard is a great place to get tasty apples fresh off the tree. Owners Raoul and Jodie Bergersen began this family business with Raoul’s parents more than 25 years ago. Just east of CherryVale Mall, off Bypass 20, their 35-acre farm has nearly 5,000 trees with 24 types of apples, including Royal Gala, Jonamac, Winesap and Senshu.
Patrons pick their own and can mix-and-match. There’s also rhubarb and fresh asparagus in spring, and you-pick raspberries, blueberries and blackberries in season. Squash, pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn and mums are sold in the new barn, as well as apple cider, apple pies, apple cinnamon bread and – everybody’s favorite – apple cider doughnuts. And Jodie recently expanded her inventory of gifts.
For a festive fall family outing that’s close by, Valley Orchard is ideal. Hours are Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., through mid-November.