CHICAGO NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS: Bucktown and Wicker Park, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Gold Coast, Edgewater, Oak Park

Bucktown and Wicker Park: Craft hand-lettered valentines for your loved ones this Valentine’s season! Hand-lettering guru Cristina Vanko presents a workshop as par of 826CHI’s Fresh Ink Community Series! Held on Saturday February 2 from 2-3:30 pm, this workshop for adults and teens of all experience levels will explore different hand lettering techniques. Step-by-step, you’ll hand-letter Valentine’s Day-themed phrases. You’ll leave with some great tips, tricks, and a few Valentine’s Day cards of your own! Reserve your tickets ASAP. Tickets are free for Chicago students and a $10 suggested donation for adults. The ticket cost covers all materials and all proceeds benefit 826CHI’S free writing program, which serves Chicago students. Purchase your tickets here.

Lakeview: Want to show off your skills? Or maybe just check out some awesome, local artists? Then this Open Mic Night is for you! Sponsored by Shure and Greenstar Brewing, this event is 100% free! Open Mic Nights are held every Monday at Uncommon Ground Lakeview, beginning at 7 pm. This is Chicago’s longest running open-mic competition and all artists are welcome! Sign-up begins promptly at 7 pm; please arrive on time to secure your spot. For more information, check out their event page.

Lincoln Park: Get ready for Authors on the Lake, sponsored by Theatre on the Lake. Enjoy an evening of conversation and drinks on Wednesday, January 16 from 7-9:30 pm. Chef Paul Kahan, author of Cheers to the Publican, will chat with The Lakefront Restaurant’s Executive Chef Cleetus Friedman as they each share stories, take questions, and chat about the book. Tickets are $30 in advance, $40 at the door. The ticket price includes admission, a welcome drink, a featured bite and beverage pairing, and a meet and greet with the featured chef. Find more information and purchase your tickets here.

Gold Coast: Registration is now open for the Polar Plunge! The Chicago Polar Bear Club hosts the Plunge on Saturday January 26 at 12 pm! Not only do you get to plunge into the freezing cold waters of Lake Michigan, but your registration fee directly supports local Midwestern families in need of support. You can read about this year’s families here. Registration for the Plunge is $30, the after-party is $35. Or you can purchase the Polar Plunge Bundle for $60. The 2019 After Party Admission includes an all-you-can-drink special and appetizers. For more information, visit the website.

Edgewater: Mark your calendars for Saturday, January 26! The Lakeside Pride Chamber Ensembles present an afternoon of music in honor of Marsha P. “Pay It No Mind” Johnson. 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots; Marsha was the trans woman who threw the first brick at the riots in 1969. The concert is in her honor and celebrates her contributions to the community. Lakeside Pride will also be joined by ResonaTe, Chicago’s transgender choir. The performance will feature music written or arranged by people of color, transgender, and genderqueer individuals. The concert begins at 3 pm and tickets are $10. They can be purchased here.

Oak Park: Come enjoy a unique storytelling experience on Sunday, January 20 at Hamburger Mary’s Show Lounge! The Back Room is a gathering place for storytelling, showcasing stories from the hearts and minds of five unique storytellers. Held on the 3rd Sunday of every month, this event is from 7:30-9 pm. Come early and indulge in dinner and drinks before the show! The show is hosted by Margaret Burk and Peter LeGrand. Tickets are $10 at the door. For more information, visit Hamburger Mary’s website.


Restaurant Review – Millie’s Supper Club

“Family, friendly, fun, big portions, comfort foods, doggie bags, great cocktails, comfortable, woodsy atmosphere… all adjectives that can be used to describe real supper clubs. They are happy places where people go to gather with family or friends and that is our plan for Millie’s Supper Club.” This was my introduction to this week’s restaurant, Millie’s Supper Club. After reading that description, how could I be anything but excited?? The atmosphere of Millie’s is lovely. The restaurant is dimly lit, with dark wood booths, candles, and vintage bar stools. It feels old-fashioned and cozy, like stepping into your favorite restaurant. The menu is simple, with lots of down home favorites and comfort food. I knew we had to start with an order of the Fried Cheese Curds: beer-battered Ellsworth Creamery white cheddar curds served with house made ranch dressing. These were absolutely fantastic! The batter was perfectly crispy and light; the cheese melty and gooey. I loved the combination of the rich cheese with the creamy ranch dressing; so tasty! I finally decided on the Cobb Salad: mixed lettuce, bacon, blue cheese, cherry tomato, chicken, chives, and egg. This was great! The portion was huge and all the veggies were fresh and crispy. You can’t go wrong with blue cheese and bacon either! I asked for my dressing on the side, so I could dip each bite into it- yum! My mom decided on the Genuine Broasted Chicken- a house specialty. Millie’s starts with fresh chicken, marinates it overnight, then delicately coats and fries it under pressure to enhance its natural flavor. The chicken is served with broasted potato wedges and coleslaw. This massive plate has a half chicken- breast, wing, thigh, and leg. We definitely could have shared this! The chicken was very juicy and the skin was perfectly crisp. The coleslaw was also very tasty!

Millie’s is closed on Mondays. Tuesdays through Sundays they open at 5 pm for dinner. Find more information about this charming supper club here.


Kathy’s Home & Garden Tips – Get Out the Blue Dawn

Original Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid is a great biodegradable grease cutter and works for so many cleaning jobs around the house. Remember all these tips are using original Blue Dawn. It’s the one with the cute duck on the label— it’s used for cleaning wildlife after oil spills as it’s gentle and effective.

Washing with Dawn is effective. Mix with a little corn oil to remove paint from your hands. Wash your hair once a month with Dawn to remove oil and shampoo residue. Have a run in with poison ivy or oak? Wash with Dawn. It dries up the blisters and prevents them from spreading. Wash the dog with Dawn. It kills fleas on contact!

Merry Maids use Dawn all around the house. Make a great window cleaner by adding one drop of Dawn to a spray bottle of water, then use like any other window cleaner. Also use on ceramic and woodwork. Heat half a spray bottle of white vinegar, then fill to the top with Dawn. Spray on bath and shower surfaces, let work for 15 minutes, then rinse. Footprints on your shower floor? Cover with full strength Dawn and let sit overnight. Scrub next morning with a stiff brush. To unclog toilets, pour in one cup of Dawn. Let sit for 15 minutes and follow with a bucket of hot water poured from waist high.

Outside, Dawn works on any greasy or dirty job because it’s biodegradable. After using kitty litter on driveway stains, follow with a good Dawn scrub. It cleans kiddie pools safely and effectively. It works on big pools too! Pour Dawn down the center. All the dirt, gunk, and suntan oil will fly to the edges for easy clean up.

Dawn can repel pests on plants. One drop in a spray bottle will suffocate pests, killing them more safely than chemicals. Soak tools in Dawn after using. This cleans dirt and grime and prevents rust. You can also use Dawn to make an ice pack. Pour full strength Dawn into a freezer Ziploc. This makes a reusable ice pack that will stay soft when frozen!

Anyone have any other great uses for Dawn?


7 Advantages of Living in a 55+ Community

When you reach a certain age, your needs and tastes may be different than what they may have been in your younger years, and that includes your housing arrangement.

Maybe your current home is getting to be too much for you to maintain, or perhaps climbing up and down the stairs is becoming tiresome and even difficult. Or maybe you’re ready to be surrounded by peers within the same age group and are looking for something to keep you engaged and active when you retire.

If that’s the case, then a 55+ community might be the right move to make at this stage in your life.

What is a 55+ Community?

As the name suggests, a 55+ community is geared towards those who are 55 years of age and older. They’re not designed for young families with children or even middle-aged professionals. Instead, they’re designed with people who are nearing or in their retirement years.

This particular age demographic has many different needs and tastes that those who are much younger, and as such, they’re designed to accommodate these specific requirements.

Here are some of the benefits of 55+ communities.

1. Properties Are Designed Specifically For Seniors

The home that you may have bought when you were younger may have suited you well back then, but perhaps it doesn’t work as well for you today. Rather than making structural changes to your current home to suit your needs or your changing mobility issues, moving into a place that’s already structured to make mobility much easier might be a better idea. 

2. Residents Are in the Same Age Demographic

One of the biggest advantages of living in a 55+ active community is that you’ll be surrounded by others in the same age group. If there are no friends or family nearby, seniors can end up becoming increasingly lonely in a neighborhood filled with younger residents or children.

A 55+ community solves this issue by attracting those who are in the same age demographic and who are looking for the same types of amenities and activities.

3. Quiet Environment

As the name suggests, no one under the age of 55 is permitted to live on the premises. While family can visit, no children will be running around on a regular basis, which makes these communities quieter places to live. If you’re looking for a tranquil home and community, these active senior living communities are a great option.

4. Security

Active 55+ communities typically come with on-site security that residents can take advantage of. If you’re on your own, living in a community that offers 24/7 security features can not only make you feel more secure but can help your family ease their worries about you living on your own. If security is an important feature for you, then a 55+ community may be an ideal choice for you.

5. Plenty of Amenities and Events

Active living communities typically implement a number of amenities and events that are designed to keep residents active, engaged, and entertained. These communities usually offer onsite opportunities to socialize, stay physically fit, and even volunteer.

You can expect to have amenities such as swimming pools, fitness centers, yoga classes, social events and gatherings, and even organized outings. Such amenities and events can help fill your days with enjoyment and can help you stay active and engaged in your community.

6. Less Maintenance to Worry About

No one really enjoys the regular ongoing maintenance that usually accompanies homeownership. But in a 55+ community, the majority of maintenance is taken care of. That means less work and time spent maintaining your property and more time enjoying the company and amenities that your new community has to offer.

7. Medical Facilities in Close Proximity

As you age, having quick and easy access to medical assistance becomes an increasingly important concern. The great thing about 55+ communities is that they’re typically constructed within close proximity to healthcare centers. While there might not be any physicians or nurses on site, you can rest easy knowing that medical help is usually just a quick commute away.

Should You Buy Into a 55+ Community?

There are definitely plenty of perks of buying into a 55+ community, but it may not necessarily be right for everyone. It’s important to note that while these communities are designed for those who are in their later stages of life, they don’t provide onsite medical care or support that assisted living facilities do. Instead, these are active lifestyle communities.

Those who are 55 years of age or over and are relatively healthy would benefit best from communities like these. If onsite healthcare services are not required on a daily basis, this type of investment might be better suited for them as opposed to someone who may require more hands-on medical care and attention.

The Bottom Line

If you’re approaching your senior years and have a penchant for staying active and being surrounded by like-minded peers, then perhaps a move to a 55+ community may be the right one for to you make at some point. Just be sure to ask plenty of questions and find out everything there is to know about a particular community, including amenities and rules. With a trusted real estate agent by your side, you’ll have all the support and guidance you need to choose the community that’s best suited for you.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Temps May Dip, But City Heats Up!

In case you haven’t noticed, winter is upon us! As usual, Chicagoans never let a little cold cramp their style!  In fact when the temperature dips, the city heats up with outdoor activities, dining deals, free events, and more!  Here’s what’s up this first weekend of 2019!!

Do you have the post-holiday blues?  Come find out how many psychotherapists it takes to make a crowd laugh when the Therapy Players perform their post-holiday show Let Us Defuse Your Holiday Blues Friday and Saturday (8:00 p.m.) at The Cornservatory (4210 N. Lincoln Ave.) in the North Center neighborhood.  Professional psychotherapists by day, they’ve been performing together as a comedy improv troupe since 2013 (usually to sellout crowds!) at theaters and clubs in Chicago and a variety of suburb locations.  Also The Cornservatory Theater is BYOB so you should have no problems defusing your holiday blues!!

It’s time again for another Watson Adventures with their Sherlock Holmes at the Art Museum Scavenger Hunt this Saturday (1:00 p.m.) at the Art Institute of Chicago (111 S. Michigan Ave.) in The Loop.  An eminent scholar’s husband has been shot dead, a week after finding strange messages and images of dancing nudes on her computer that are linked to art in the museum.  Police think she killed her husband and then turned the gun on herself.  She’ll be tried for murder, if she recovers!  Can your band of sleuths figure out who dunnit by working together to answer tricky questions and piece together the puzzle?  Let the hunt begin!!

There’s still time to check out the Fifth Third Bank’s Winter Wonderfest at Navy Pier (600 E. Grand Ave.) in the Streeterville neighborhood.  This beloved annual Chicago winter event  wraps up on Sunday! It features 170,000 square feet of carnival rides, giant slides, holiday-themed activities, and much more!  Treat your family to a day packed with fun at any or all of these attractions:  Alpine Slide, Arctic Express Train Ride, Arctic Plunge, Cliff Hanger, Ice Palace, Ice Peaks Climbing Walls, Polar Extreme, Slippery Snowflake Slide, Snowman Bouncer, Winter Rules Mini Golf, and many others!!

Stay active outdoors while enjoying a fun time with family and friends at one of seven outdoor ice rinks located throughout the city.  Some rinks are even open through February 18th!  Choose from Millennium Park McCormick Tribune Ice Rink (201 E. Randolph St.) in The Loop, Maggie Daley Park (337 E. Randolph St.) in The Loop, Gallagher Way (3637 N. Clark St.) in Wrigleyville, McFetridge Sports Center (Indoor) (3843 N. California Ave.) in North Center, and Midway Plaisance Park (1130 Midway Plaisance North) in Hyde Park.  Here’s a link to the remaining Chicago Park District’s Ice Rinks.  Skate away your post-holiday blues!!

Finally, Sunday brings the 2019 NFC Wild Card Game – Chicago Bears vs. Philadelphia Eagles to Soldier Field (1410 S. Museum Campus Dr.) in the South Loop.  GO BEARS!!!

Happy New Year!!

How to Sell Your Home During the Off Season

The holiday season can be a bit of a challenge for sellers considering all the vacations that families tend to take while the kids are off school. But while this might not necessarily be a hot season to sell, there’s no reason why you can’t find a buyer within a reasonable amount of time who’s willing to offer you a fair price for your home.

With a few sound strategies, you can still be successful in selling your home during the off-season.

Go Easy on the Holiday Decor

It’s easy to get caught up in the festivities of the holiday season, and that includes decking the halls with all of your favorite Christmas decor. But as festive and cheerful as you want to make your home at this time of year, going too far with the decor can throw buyers off and take away from what your home really looks like without all the tinsel and ornaments.

Christmas Day literally just ended, but homeowners tend to keep their holiday decor up for at least a week or two into the new year (and sometimes even longer). But since you’re putting your home up for sale, consider taking down all your decorations, or at least minimize it while still keeping true to the holiday season.

Include Photos From Other Seasons

Consider adding photos to your listing that are from weeks past before you put your holiday decor up. As mentioned above, buyers may not be able to visualize what your home may look like on a day-to-day basis if they have to see past all of your Christmas decorations. While it’s totally fine to have a photo or two with holiday ornaments, you also want to have photos that provide a truer depiction of your home every day.

Brighten Up Your Curb Appeal

Obviously, the inside of your home needs to be prepped to attract buyers and help them easily connect with it. But what about the outside? Curb appeal plays a crucial role in selling within a reasonable amount of time and for top dollar, so don’t forget to trim the bushes, cut the grass, plant some flowers, clean the dead leaves and loose twigs, and freshen up the mailbox and doormat.

Price to Sell

No matter how awesome your home looks, it’s got to be priced according to the market. If you’re selling during the holidays when there may not be too much activity, now might not be the best time to shoot high on price. A price that’s too high can turn off buyers, while an aggressive one can pique buyers’ interest much faster. 

Be Open to Negotiation

During a hot selling market when buyer activity is high, sellers have a more solid foundation to stand on and therefore tend to have more negotiating power. But if there are fewer offers coming in as a result of a slower selling season, you might want to keep a more open mind when negotiating. Further, you may also want to consider offering incentives to sweeten the deal so you don’t have to negotiate lower than you’d prefer to. 

Have a Pre-Home Inspection Done

While buyers will probably want to have their own home inspection done after an offer has been accepted on both sides, having a pre-inspection done can be a great way to attract buyers and make them feel at ease knowing what condition the home is in as per the pre-inspection report.

Buyers don’t like any last-minute surprises after thinking they had ironed out all the details of the offer. Making any issues with the property known before buyers put in an offer is always a good thing.

Complete All Necessary Repairs

Unless they’re specifically looking for a fixer-upper, buyers typically want a home that is move-in ready and doesn’t require any repairs. Any issues should ideally be taken care of before they move in, so make sure to get any repairs or maintenance tasks taken care of before you list.

Have Your Home Professionally Staged

Professional home staging is highly recommended no matter what type of selling season you happen to be in. But when the season is a bit on the slow side, it becomes even more important. Home stagers understand exactly what buyers in the area are looking for and give it to them on a silver platter thanks to their staging techniques. Don’t skimp on having your home staged, as you can easily recoup whatever you spend on these services when you sell.

Ensure There’s Plenty of Light

A well-lit home certainly shows much better than a dim and dark one. Always make sure there’s as much natural light flowing throughout your home as possible. That means ensuring that no window treatments are blocking light from shining through your windows and hanging mirrors strategically to allow natural light to bounce off them. Further, make sure all lights are kept on during showings and open houses, especially if your home is lacking in windows.

Be Flexible With Showings

When you’re trying to get as many buyers in your home as possible to check it out, you don’t want to make things difficult for them by being too picky about when they can and can’t visit.

Generally speaking, you should allow your home to have showings booked seven days a week between the hours of 10am to 8pm. Further, you shouldn’t ask for too much notice to be given. Ideally, two hours’ notice should be enough, though you should also be open to allowing last-minute showings. That means your home should be in show-ready condition at all times.

The Bottom Line

Many will argue that the spring season is the best time to sell. But while there may be certain advantages to selling during this traditional selling season, you can still be successful if you list during the off-season. Consider the above tips to help boost your odds of finding a willing buyer sooner rather than later and gift yourself a home sale this holiday season!

CHICAGO NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS: Lincoln Park, Bucktown and Wicker Park, Lakeview, River North, Lincoln Square, Evanston

Lincoln Park: 2019 promises to be an exciting year! Learn more about what’s happening at the local level directly from the source! 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins, 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack, and 43rd Ward Alderman Michele Smith will be hosting a panel discussion on Tuesday, January 22 from 8 am to 10 am. You can also connect with fellow members of the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce and local business leaders over breakfast at Stratford on the Park. The election for the 2019 LPCC Board of Directors will take place and outgoing board members will be recognized. If you RSVP and pay by January 18, tickets are $30 for members and $35 for guests. At the door, tickets are $35 for members and $40 for guests. You can register here.

Bucktown and Wicker Park: The Wicker Park Winters Farmer Market is here! They are excited to offer their first ever INDOOR market season at Chop Shop. Beginning Saturday, January 5, the market will be open every Saturday morning from 9 am to 2 pm through April 20. Local vendors will be offering all the best in handmade and homegrown to keep your winter season on the right track! Find more information here.

Lakeview: Get ready for Chitown Beernival! Held on Saturday, January 26 from 2-5 pm at Rizzo’s Bar, this beer themed carnival features a beer pong tournament, competitive flip cup, carnival games with prizes, and unlimited domestic beer. All proceeds benefit Autism Speaks to Young Professionals, a division of Autism Speaks. The mission of AS2YP is to change the future for all who struggle with autism spectrum disorders by volunteering their time and talents to increase awareness, raise funds, and serve as ambassadors of Autism Speaks. Early bird tickets are just $35, so buy yours now here before prices go up!

River North: It’s time for Chicago’s cheesiest bar crawl- the Mac and Cheese Crawl! On Saturday, January 26 from 11 am to 7 pm, you’ll crawl from bar to bar while eating Mac and cheese and enjoying drinks with friends. Tickets include admission, seven Mac and cheese servings, drink specials, giveaways, and more! They also include a pre-party on Friday, January 25— head to Public House between 9 pm and 1 am and receive 1 free drink ticket. There’s also an after party at Moe’s Cantina on Saturday, January 26 between 10 and 11 pm- 1 free drink ticket here too! Tickets start at $15 and can be purchased here.

Lincoln Square: Mark your calendars for Winter Brew 2019! Each winter, the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce takes the Chicago Street Festival scene indoors for the annual Winter Brew! On Saturday, January 26 local breweries and cideries from around Chicago set up shop at the DANK Haus German American Culture Center. Each brewery will showcase at least two different craft beers, with some limited releases as well! The first session is from 12-4 pm and the second session is from 6-10 pm. Tickets are $10 and must be purchased in advance. Find more information here and then purchase your tickets here!

Evanston: The Barn Steakhouse is kicking off a new dinner series in 2019! Held the second Tuesday of every month, the dinners feature wine and spirits from The Barn’s friends and partners, perfectly paired with modern takes on steakhouse classics. Settle into the restaurant’s rustic loft space with your hostess Amy Morton and your month’s beverage host for a delicious (and educational!) evening. If you choose to make the Dinner Monthly Series a tradition, you’ll get a special reward: attend six dinners and get the seventh on the house! This Tuesday, January 8, the theme is “Rich Red Wines in Winter”, hosted by Sandeep Ghaey of Vinic Wines. The dinner is $100 per person plus tax and gratuity. Tickets for dinner are available online or for more information, you can call the restaurant at 847.868.8041. You can also visit their website.


Restaurant Review – Dante’s Pizzeria

Sometimes, you just have to have pizza. This week took me to Dante’s Pizzeria in Ravenswood, located at 1964 W Lawrence Ave. Dante’s is totally unassuming from the outside, located in a small strip right off the intersection of Damen and Lawrence. There’s a generous number of tables and booths inside. Depending on which you choose, there’s a view straight back into the kitchen, which I always love. We decided to start with a few appetizers. I love mozzarella sticks, so I knew we had to try an order of these. The Poblano Poppers were calling my name too: homemade poppers stuffed with poblano peppers, cream cheese, bacon, and red onion. The mozzarella sticks were delightful! The breading wasn’t too heavy and the cheese was ooey, gooey, and delicious. They also came with a tasty marinara sauce for dipping. I absolutely loved the poblano peppers! The addition of the bacon and red onion was refreshing and super yummy. I would definitely order these again! Obviously, we knew we were going to order pizza. The specialty pies looked delicious, so we decided to order one of the Beatrice: garlic sauce, button mushrooms, and portobello mushrooms. We also ordered a build-your-own pizza with one half pepperoni and one half with prosciutto and pineapple. Each pizza was 20 inches, which is absolutely massive! We could definitely have just done with one pizza, but we were so excited about the variety, we were happy to have both. The Beatrice was fantastic. The garlic sauce was wonderful and I loved the two types of mushrooms. The pineapple and prosciutto was very tasty as well! The prosciutto was nicely crisped from the oven and the sweetness of the pineapple really complimented the salty meat. The pepperoni was great too! I can’t wait to come back and try more pizzas here.

Dante’s has three locations: Ravenswood, Avondale, and Logan Square. Both the Avondale and Logan Square locations are open Monday through Sunday from 11 am to 11 pm. The Ravenswood location is open Mondays from 4 to 11 pm, closed on Tuesdays, open Wednesdays through Fridays from 4 to 11 pm, and Saturdays/Sundays from 11 am to 11 pm. For more information, check out their website.


Kathy’s Home & Garden Tips – Post Holiday Letdown

All the parties are over and every present has been opened and marveled over. Houseguests are gone and the last leftovers eaten. A fun time was had by all; so why are some of us so depressed? Some of us spent too much money, so our bank accounts are wanting. Some of us ate too much, so our waistlines are expanding. Realize that you’re not alone! Many people have unrealistic expectations for the holidays. That along with dealing with so much in a short period of time can leave you feeling exhausted and unfulfilled. There are a few things you can do to keep the Christmas spirit going.

It’s a good time to volunteer. Often after the holidays charities need help after the rush of fundraising at years’ end. It is good to think of others less fortunate; it will help you forget your own troubles.

Leave the decorations up a little longer. Nothing cheers me up after a long and dreary day like some beautiful Christmas lights.  Many of us are having short gray days in the middle of winter and some bright cheery decorations are just what the doctor ordered. It also keeps the holiday spirit going.

Don’t stay housebound because of the weather. Even though your cheery decorations are inviting, you need to get out. Physical activities like skating or skiing are great for your body and your mind. Check out activities in your community. Museums often have reduced rates in January or see if your library or local community theater have interesting events. Invite a friend out for lunch or dinner. Stay in touch, organize a game night, or bowling party.

If you are still feeling blue by February, it might be time to speak to a professional. It never hurts to have a few sessions to hash out your concerns. Sometimes a third party is the best thing.