Erika Nelson

Erika Nelson

After 12 years of projects, couple's gardens are lavish, lively

When it comes to their yard, it seems there's nothing that Bill and Sandee Van De Wyngaerde won't try.

Since moving into their Urbana home the couple has taken on one outdoor project a year.

Royal author's book speaks to children of all ages

ROYAL – Like the old saying goes, Royal resident and author Kimberly Rogers-Busboom would tell you not to judge her children's book, "My Secret Best Friend" by its watercolor-illustrated cover.

While the book targets readers kindergarten through fourth grade, Rogers-Busboom said its message is for children of all ages.

Historic Urbana house in need of a revival

URBANA – The house designed and built a century ago by famed Urbana architect Joseph Royer is once again up for sale, and in need of some loving care.

Located a block east of Lincoln Avenue at 801 W. Oregon St., the eight-bedroom mission-style house was built in 1905 by Royer – Urbana's premier architect in the late 19th and early 20th centuries – as a residence for him and his wife, Adelaide.

Stopping By: Piatt County bison farm right out of 'Old West'

In Piatt County, just east of Monticello, around the first curve in County Road 1125E and behind a white, two-story farmhouse, passers-by can find a piece of North America's history.

On any given day, drivers traveling past the old house will find bison belonging to grain farmer Terry Lieb grazing on 60 acres of pasture. Twenty of them, to be exact.

Stopping By: Monticello glass shop offers gems, education

MONTICELLO — For visitors who stop in at Prairie Fire Glass in downtown Monticello, there's more to the inviting storefront than beautiful glass artwork.

A lesson in how the artwork got from the studio to the gallery shelves is included — free of charge.

Downtown Paxton apparel store set to close doors

PAXTON – After 54 years in business, Wilma Gibson has plans to close the doors of Laybourn's Apparel in downtown Paxton.

The store's final sale will start Oct. 1, and Gibson has hopes of closing the doors for good by Dec. 1.

Champaign teen is seventh of seven siblings to go to 4-H event

With seven kids in the family, sibling rivalry is no foreign concept to the Hays family of Champaign.

But that doesn't mean a little competition doesn't have its benefits.

By this fall, rivalry among the Hays siblings will have taken all seven to the National 4-H Congress, an annual event attended by more than 1,000 4-H members from all 50 states, where activities include workshops and service projects.

Mahomet store, cafe specializes in locally grown foods

MAHOMET – Whether you order the quiche, bison burger or chicken pot pie, the dishes on the cafe menu at Burt and Nancy Asbill's Mahomet store, First Fruits Produce, share at least on thing in common: ingredients fresh from the family's 50-acre farm, located just up the road.

The Asbills run what Nancy thinks is the only "food-to-table" cafe in the area. The dishes served at First Fruits Produce use food that is picked daily, allowing the Asbills to offer items such as a vegetarian sandwich made with locally grown veggies, hamburgers served on made-from-scratch buns and chicken pot pie that uses free-range chicken from the family's farm.

Vendors report slow sales this market season

URBANA – The frequent rains, gas prices and condition of the economy may all be affecting this year's farmers' market at Urbana's Lincoln Square Village.

The 100-plus vendor market draws people in search of a wide variety of fresh, locally grown, raised and made food, crafts from local artisans, fresh flowers and the music of local musicians. Like other farmers' markets around the country, it's been growing in size and popularity, said Market at the Square Director Lisa Bralts.

Movement is exercise for mind, body says ballroom owner

After four weeks of rehearsals and two months on "Dancing with the Stars," actress Jennie Garth found herself in great shape.

Leading up to the show, the Urbana native told Us Magazine that her workout regimen consisted of three days of Pilates.