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The two story home of Alison and Pat Cler sits right in the heart of what Alison calls, “Old Town Tuscola.”
“We have a great neighborhood,” she said from their home that is rich with that Bavarian feel.

Bruce Rainey and Michael Hogue like to celebrate the holidays in a big way. The Champaign couple pulls out all of the stops for the holidays.
If Rainey and Hogue sound familiar to At Home in Central Illinois readers that’s because they were the first to lead the way to the county clerk’s office that first day of civil union registration in Urbana, June 1, 2011. Plus, everyone seems to know them in and around the Champaign-Urbana area. They throw a huge holiday party every year, and it’s a show-stopper.

When Mel Fros builds a home, it’s no ordinary house. It has thought behind it; a purpose, function, sustainability and meaning to the structure. It also has great beauty. He’s an artist, and he wrestles with his art until it is just right. The bungalow in Urbana is no exception.

It started out as a lesson for his son, Daniel, an aspiring master builder.

   Letha Kramer was driving around one day in Urbana. She was going to an estate sale. She might find a treasure or two. 

I t can be an artistic endeavor to bring an older home into the now. Great creativity is needed to keep the original style of the house but renovate it so it fits into today’s world.


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MaryAnne Smith is focused on family. And being the spouse of a coaching professional can be quite daunting. The outside pressure from the public can be enormous. Moving to Champaign-Urbana makes this the Smiths’ twentieth home in Lovie Lee Smith’s –his given name- football coaching career. Moving is considered one of the biggest stressors in life; something that could even bring about great strife to a marriage. Try multiplying that by 20.

Obviously, MayAnne and Lovie are solid. Indeed.

Geetha Sivaguru bustled around her kitchen. Fresh vegetables, spices, herbs, and pans were everywhere. This decade approaching junior high science teacher will tell you that she loves to cook for anyone who asks. She likes to share her love- and art- of Indian cooking and cuisine. The day At Home in Central Illinois visited her, she was preparing Jeera Rice with Curried Lentils.

What is “slow food?” It conjures up all kinds of images, but the correct one is that it is the opposite of “fast food.” The roots of slow food come from Italy, where journalist Carlo Petrini became outraged over the opening of a McDonald’s franchise in Rome. Concerned about the impact on Rome’s culture, he organized protesters who held bowls of penne. They shouted, “We don’t want fast food — we want slow food!” The slow food movement was born. 

 Mohammed AL-Heeti knew everyone was sad about Strawberry Fields closing.


“I remember many years ago when I came here from Iraq, we went there. Many were upset. They weren’t making money,” he said. “July 2014 we started visiting then. The concept of us buying Strawberry Fields was an idea.”


The Champaign Farmer’s Market
Come taste the difference


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Phil Lovett said that it’s fairly easy to have a great lawn.
“I’m just a regular guy, and if I can have a fantastic lawn, anybody can,” he said.
Lovett of Mahomet, At Home in Central Illinois’ go-to “lawn guy” says it’s not that hard to keep everything in the yard healthy and looking good during that summer heat. Lovett gave tips to At Home readers last summer and even showed them how to build a budget-friendly sprinkling system themselves. He said keeping a healthy lawn just takes a little forethought, water and fertilizer.

Central Illinois has come to life this spring.

   John and Judy Chesnut’s farm hums with life this time of year. The vast yard, with berm after berm, flowers beds in every nook and cranny and the vast pasture and grazing land for the     quarter horses — and one pretty paint — seem like a world all their own.  

The yard extraordinaire
 Phil Lovett takes the guesswork out of a perfect lawn


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Jenny Southlynn stands by a painting she created in graduate school. This semi-retired director of the after-school program at St. Matthew Catholic School in Champaign talks about her creation.

“It’s called ‘Family Tree,’” she said from her tastefully decorated condominium.

   John-Paul Buzard realized his lifelong dream when he opened Buzard Pipe Organ Builders in Champaign in 1985. And on paper, he’s been in the industry since high school and college, when he apprenticed as a technician. 

When children’s author Alice B. McGinty was younger, she never really thought of herself as a writer.

“I loved reading, though,” she said. “I loved books.”

She enjoyed classics like “Charlotte’s Web” and anything from Dr. Seuss.

“Now, here I am, a working writer,” McGinty said.

Working writer indeed. She has authored over 40 children’s books.

“Well, counting the leveled readers, I have written over 100 books,” she explained.

Why pay for a knock-off when the real thing is as affordable?

That’s exactly what many do when decorating their home. They go to the local bigbox store and buy a framed print or an unoriginal niknak for a table.

“People think that original paintings and other pieces of original art are outrageously expensive,” Carolyn Baxley said. “They can come here, to the Cinema Gallery and purchase a true original.”

The Pond Dude
Chris’ Water Gardens -escape with waterscapes
      When Chris Sturdyvin does something, he dives right in and he is in deep.
      The day after he completed his high school senior football season, he took a job with IGA.
      “I finished the Friday night game, got up the next Saturday morning and reported for work. I stayed there for 15 years. I was a butcher, and I was doing well at it, too,” he said as he stood on his two-story deck in rural Homer.



Welcome to the fall season and our wonderful “Autumn Day Trip” to Indiana for a fun-filled day of fun at the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival, Indiana’s largest festival. Let’s get our coffees and head out early, going east on Interstate-74, towards Danville and on into Indiana.

Let’s get going!

• Once you’re on I-74 keep going east for around 40 minutes or so.

Rogards Office Plus has a new CEO.
Maybe “new” isn’t the right word. According to Tonya Horn, the now CEO of Rogards Office Plus, it’s a time to grow in the business that has been a staple in Champaign-Urbana for 110 years.
And it’s true that she is not “new” in the business, but she certainly is on a journey to grow the business Rogards Office Plus, while keeping it as one of the best, local businesses in the area.

There are those special pleasures in life: a smile, a friendly conversation, a great memory, and a good spot of tea. Ironically, it’s exactly these things-and more- that encouraged Hilary Porter to purchase the Walnut Street Tea Company last March, 2016 from its original owner, Betty Elliott.
Elliott was the original owner of the 35-year iconic business that sits quaintly on the corner at 115 S. Walnut St. in Champaign.
“I have been coming here to this shop since I was five years old,” Porter said from her shop last month.

What began as a dream became a reality in the heart of downtown Covington, Indiana. There exists a quaint antique shop called Glorie Bee Antiques.
For those of you who love antiques and appreciate the knowledge that goes with them, head towards Glorie Bee Antiques. For those of you who use GPS, plug this in: 314 Liberty St., Covington, IN 47932. For those Renaissance types-like me- let’s use these directions:
• Take I-74 toward Danville, crossing over into Indiana.
• Take IN-63 exit (Exit #4) towards Terre Haute/Newport
• Turn left on north State Road

Go figure that a group of breast cancer survivors would rather be racing than sitting around commiserating about their lives. If you’re conjuring up images of Wonder Woman or the women of the Amazon, then you are not too far off.
The Prairie Dragon Paddlers are a unique group of survivors. Yes, they have been afflicted by a disease that could end their lives, but they have made the choice to pull together and support each other. They’re thriving.


Let me know how this worked for you, fellow Carpet Goddesses!! If you have cleaning or household tips, send them to me at