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Karl and Palmira-Pam-Appelquist have a way of taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary.

It's just who they are. They enjoy life, often have great adventures and live large in everything they do. When it comes to Christmas, they take the opportunity to celebrate in a way that honors their families, their friends and neighbors. They like to incorporate their diverse ancestry, too. Karl is of Swedish derivation, and Pam is a Latina with roots in Mexico and Spain.

Jim and Winnie Crowder have lived in their Tuscola Victorian Italianate for almost seven years. They bought it in April 2011.

The University of Illinois president’s mansion is a 14,000-square-foot Georgian Revival home. This sort of architecture is given to a style that was built during a time-period that existed in the United States in the period of the late 1800s to the early 1900s. The style is highly varied, but has a symmetry based on Greek and Roman styles that were constructed during the Renaissance. The style can be ornamental, but yet constrained and very classical in its orientation.


Home has new beginning

When Lisa Amebeli purchased her rural Champaign ranch, she knew it was going to be a lot of work to get the place in line with the vision she had for the 3-bedroom, 2-bath home with vaulted ceilings and an open floor plan.

“I recruited everybody,” she said from her patio that is decorated with a sea theme. Sea shells and fish décor accented the space.


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Brussels sprouts, bacon and shallots

Earthy and delicious

When the Day Trippers went to Effingham’s Firefly Grill, we decided that our readers needed to know this recipe. This side dish was so satisfying, they suggested we had to share it. Listed under “The good sides,” in the Firefly Grill menu, this creation by head chef, Mikey Crawford, will have you wanting to make it more than a side dish.

When the team from At Home in Central Illinois visited Alexander’s Steakhouse we knew what to expect: great food, a fun atmosphere, great drinks and delicious desserts. Believe it when we say that we were still surprised. “Wow” was the first word uttered when we walked into the Champaign restaurant, located at 202 W. Anthony Drive. 

The much-anticipated Hamilton Walker’s Steaks, Seafood and Spirits is open in the heart of downtown Champaign at 201 N. Neil St. It is named for the Walker Opera House and the Hamilton Hotel, which operated in the very same location. The recent addition to downtown endeavors to be a gathering place for those who want fine dining.

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.


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A garden party

Peonies, mint juleps and mingling

It’s springtime, the birds are chirping, the days are getting longer, and the flowers, plants and trees are blooming. 

Ahhhh! There’s nothing like shedding those winter blahs and getting out in the spring air. Gardeners are out in full force tending to their beds, spreading mulch, getting rid of weeds, planting annuals, pruning perennials and putting in their vegetables. 

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.  


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In any artistic endeavor, whether it be music, painting or stained glass, there is the “art” of the medium, but also the “craft” of the creation. In its history, stained glass has been elevated to the realm of fine art. It makes sense, too, because the craft was — and still is — used in the decor of churches. There are windows that date back to 675 AD that are still in existence, so durability is obvious with stained glass, as well. 

It was Women in Mission Sunday at Trinity Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, located at 701 E. Florida Ave., Urbana. The women’s mission group, Pieces of Love, had created colorful quilts and blankets. The items will be shipped to Kenya, but on that weekend they were blessed at their worship services Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 8:30 and 10:45 a.m.

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.



Carrie Brocksmith of Seymour made a life-changing decision to take her health back. Read her inspiring story.

Note: this article was written by Gerri Kirchner

Another season of symphony is underway in Central Illinois! The professional orchestra in residence at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra is celebrating its 58th season. Maestro Stephen Alltop and CUSO will present “Music of Destiny,” performing masterworks from Bach, Beethoven, Verdi, Vivaldi, and others in five-concerts at Krannert.

A new and exciting change will go along with the annual Festival of Trees that the Junior League of Champaign-Urbana has hosted for this its 22nd year.

“We made a decision to change our model to “Adopt a Non-Profit,”” Jenette Jurczyk, president of the league said.

For 85 years, the Junior League of Champaign-Urbana has been serving the needs of the greater community with charitable works, goods services.

Wreaths are a pretty common sight on a front door, holiday or not.

Sometimes life changes in an instant.

Allison Gilbert had just turned 30 years old. She was watching television with her husband, Christopher Gilbert, who everyone just calls, “Gilbert.”

“He's the best. He's a principal at Bottonfield School in Champaign,” she said.

Allison works for Health Alliance.

Anyway, they were enjoying some time-off together and relaxing.

“I had an itch on my breast,” Allison said. “I could feel this hard, marble-like lump.”

She knew she had better get in to see her doctor right away.

Early is the key


Life is to be lived!

Hello, At Home in Central Illinois readers. I hope this finds you healthy and happy. Our latest issue represents two things: newness and the celebration of it.

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