Nooks & Crannies, Fall Edition

Check out these unusual and inventive stores around our area.

SweetPea Cakes

40 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake, (815) 477-2253,

Strawberry champagne, chocolate salted caramel and egg nog are just a few of the inventive flavors Carrie Curie and her team can infuse into all sorts of baked goods, including cakes, cookies and cupcakes.

“Someone from our team might have an ice cream flavor or something at a party that’s really good, and we’ll turn it into a sweet treat,” Curie says.

This impressive bakery also serves up vegan options, with gluten-free selections available on Fridays and Saturdays.

Call in advance to place an order, or stop by and salivate over the delectable choices sitting in the bakery counter.

SweetPea Cakes has been taming the sweet tooth for a decade, after Curie decided there was a business opportunity to be made from the baked goods her friends raved about.

“People liked what I did, so I decided to try it as a business and it took off,” she says with a laugh.

Everything served in the bakery is made from scratch, and Curie wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We don’t even have a freezer in the bakery, because everything is made fresh,” she says.

Hours: Tues.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Cracker Jax

118 N. Third St., DeKalb, (815) 758-8178

When you walk into this cozy downtown gift shop, the first thing you’ll notice is the sweet aroma in the air.

And for good reason. The incense, candles and perfumes that permeate the air are some of the top sellers.

“We sell a lot of scents,” says owner Lauren Woods.

Scents aside, the selections seem endless, with wide collections of women’s jewelry and clothing, books, greeting cards and home decor, among plenty of other choices.

“People always come here from out of town to find unique things they won’t find anywhere else,” says Samantha Jones, creative director.

A local staple for 35 years, this store is constantly growing. When neighboring businesses moved out, Woods and her team expanded into the vacant spaces.

“I started this place on my own from scratch,” Woods says. “There was nothing in town that was like this place at the time, so I decided to create it on my own.”

She likens her store’s name to the sweet and salty treat that always bears a prize.

“My sister thought this place was like Cracker Jack, because you’ll always find something special in the store,” Woods says.

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. to 6 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

All Dressed Up

901 N. Batavia Ave., Batavia, (630) 879-5130,

With 70,000 costumes to choose from, along with professional costume designers, makeup artists and party planners, this costume shop is equipped to help you find the perfect costume rental for a theatrical production, parade, themed wedding, film production or a Halloween party.

It also serves up fun accents for Halloween parties, such as a fortuneteller (think Zoltar, from “Big”), available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Located on 10,000 square feet of the second floor of the historic Campana Building, the store invites dreaming, with its wide variety of costumes on display, from movie characters, famous superheroes, and monsters to cowboys in the Wild West. If you scare easily, be mindful of the skeletons, skulls and creepy clown displays hidden around the store.

All Dressed Up also helps with costume makeup, which can add the finishing touch to any costume. It specializes in Ben Nye Makeup Co. products and serves up prosthetics, face painting or stage makeup to help put your costume over the top.

Ask about special effects makeup workshops, as well.

Hours: Mon., Fri. noon-5 p.m.; Tues., Thurs. to 6 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m.-3 p.m.