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

Lakeview: It’s time for the 7th Annual Chicago Women’s Funny Festival! This event features a melting pot of comedic genres, including everything from highbrow musical improv to relatable stand-up to character driven sketch. It also blends long term veterans with bright, fresh newcomers! Performances are August 23 8-10 pm, August 24 8-11 pm, August 25 4:30-11 pm, and August 26 2-7 pm. Tickets are $15 for individuals, $40-60 for nightly passes, and $150 for the all-festival pass. Find more information and get your tickets here!

Bucktown and Wicker Park: Get ready for Beta Fest— an event showcasing the latest apps and technology by up and coming tech creatives. The event is combined with a laid back atmosphere including both digital and electronic art and a DJ for a fun and creative experience. The event is this Sunday, August 5 from 6 to 9 pm at Emporium Wicker Park. RSVP in advance for free entry or pay $5 the day of the event. RSVP now here!

Lincoln Park: Need a fun activity for you and your kiddos? Accompany the Horticulture department of Lincoln Park Zoo on a walkabout through the zoo’s gardens. Your little ones will learn about new plants and landscapes and how they change with the seasons. This event is free and takes place on August 11 from 10-11 am. Find more information here.

River North: Mark your calendars for Restaurant Week By River North! From August 6-12, a variety of River North restaurants will be showcasing their summer selections and offering limited menus and one-time deals on summer favorites. Participating restaurants include Tortoise Supper Club, Lyfe Kitchen, GT Fish & Oyster, GT Prime Steakhouse, Marchesa, Ironside Bar & Galley, Pops for Champagne, Hutch American Bistro, Portsmith, Wildfire, Big Bowl Chinese and Thai, Prosecco, and Sunda. Find all the menus and reserve your table now here.

Lincoln Square: Join Chicago Shakespeare for one of Chicago’s favorite summertime traditions! This is the 7th year of the FREE FOR ALL Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks Tour. This year’s play is “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and is a special 75-minute abridged production. Bring a blanket, a picnic, and the whole family as a company of professional actors shares Shakespeare’s magical comedy! This weekend, you can catch the show at Welles Park (2333 W Sunnyside Ave) beginning at 6:30 pm on Saturday, August 4 and 5 pm on Sunday, August 5. Find the full lineup of shows here– this production runs until the 26th of August.

Evanston: Get yourself up to Evanston- it’s feeding time at The Barn Steakhouse! This event is sure to be fun for the whole family and benefits Northlight Theatre. The evening will feature live Dixieland music and finger-lickin-good BBQ ribs, chicken, and all the fixings. Plus, Evanston’s own Temperance Brewing will be on hand to pour a selection of their tasty craft brews! The event is on Sunday, August 19 from 3-7 pm at The Barn (1016 Church St.). Adult general admission tickets are $72, ages 12-20 general admission tickets are $36, and under 12 general admission tickets are $24. Ticket price includes the BBQ dinner, selections from Temperance Brewing, all non-alcoholic beverages, music, and gratuity. Buy your tickets now!


Restaurant Review – Corridor

I love a local brewery! This week, I found myself at Corridor Brewery & Provisions, located at 3446 N Southport. Every time I’ve walked by around dinner time, the patio is full and the inside of the restaurant is bustling with people. We came in for dinner around 8 on a Monday night and had no problem being seated right away. The atmosphere is fantastic, with a huge wooden bar, industrial lighting, and cozy booths and tables. The menu is relatively small, with a few choices for appetizers, sandwiches, pizzas, and salads. I was super tempted by the Shrimp Tostadas topped with mango salsa, chipotle, and lime juice. I decided to save my appetite for the main event and chose the Chopped Salad: mixed lettuces, chicken, smoked pepper bacon, tomato, green peas, croutons, and shaved parmesan, all tossed in a green goddess dressing. This salad was fantastic! The lettuces were fresh and crunchy and I absolutely love peas in a salad. The texture and richness of the smoked bacon really complimented the bright vegetables as well. I would order this again in a heartbeat. My friend decided on the burger: a double steak patty with mustard herb mayo, cheddar, and Detroit pickles on a sesame bun served with fries. This was a great burger. The steak patties were cooked perfectly and I loved the simplicity of the dish. The fries were amazing! They were thick cut, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and seasoned well. Corridor also has a great brunch menu, with a dedicated section of brioche waffles, large plates, omelettes, and more.

Corridor is open Mondays and Tuesdays from 11 am to 11 pm, Wednesdays through Fridays from 11 am to midnight, Saturdays from 10 am to midnight, and Sundays from 10 am to 11 pm. Brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 2 pm. Corridor does not take reservations, but you can put your name on a waiting list. Find more information about this delicious spot here.


Kathy’s Home & Garden Tips – West Nile Virus

We are hearing around Chicago of the first reported cases of West Nile Virus. This is a mosquito borne illness that can be very serious, especially in the elderly community. About 1 in 5 people  bitten by an infected mosquito will show symptoms. The symptoms resemble the flu, with fever, aches, and joint pain; along with stomach symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. It can cause serious neurological disorders and even death (though this is rare).

Prevent West Nile Virus by following the 4 “Ds” of defense.

  1. Dress– Cover up, especially at dawn and dusk. Less skin showing is less skin for mosquitos to dine on.
  2. Defend– Use an insect repellant and reapply according to directions. If you can find one containing DEET, that’s most effective.
  3. Dusk to Dawn– This is the worst time for mosquito activity. If you must be out around these times, make sure to follow the first two steps: dress and defend.
  4. Drain– It’s always best to try and prevent mosquitos entirely. Mosquitos need water to breed and survive. Make sure there is no standing water around your home. Watering cans, kiddie pools, bird baths, and dog bowls are common culprits. Don’t stop giving water to the birds and pets; just make sure to change the water at least every other day.

It has been quite dry lately, but that’s no reason to forget about mosquito danger. With all of us watering our gardens and lawns, there is still a chance to have standing water about. For more information, go to


How to Sell Your Home in a Bad Location

When it comes to real estate, location is everything, hence the adage, “location, location, location.” You could have a fabulous home, but if it’s in a bad location, its value can definitely suffer.

But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to sell your home if the neighborhood it’s located in is less than desirable. Plenty of sellers find themselves in this exact position but manage to sell successfully, and you can too.

Here are some things you can do to help sell your home despite its bad location.

Boost Curb Appeal

There might be little you can do about the block you’re on, but there’s a lot you can do to make your home stand out, in a good way. The first thing you can do to ensure that buyers like what they see when they pull up to your home is to give the exterior a facelift. Boosting the curb appeal of your home can do wonders to attract buyers and increase the perceived value of the home.

If you’re selling in a bad location, you’ve got to pull out all the stops to impress buyers the moment they lay eyes on your house. Keep the lawn mowed, remove dead leaves, prune the bushes, plant some flowers, paint the door and shutters, and wash the windows. If your home is adjacent to a home that’s not very well maintained, consider planting some hedges or erecting a fence to add some separation.

Have Your Home Professionally Staged

You’ve charmed buyers with your home’s exterior, and now it’s time to do the same with the interior. Buyers should be “wowed” as soon as they cross over the threshold if you want them to be able to see past the sub-par location of the property. To do this, you’ve got to have your home staged.

While you could always stage your home yourself, a professional home staging company will probably be able to do a much better job at understanding what local buyers want and staging the home specifically to cater to this group.

Staging involves presenting a home in the most positive light by choosing the right furniture pieces and accessories and positioning them strategically to optimize flow and visual interest.

Professional staging has a track record of helping homes sell quickly and for more money compared to homes that have not been staged. If your home seems to offer everything that buyers are looking for in a home, they might be more willing to place less weight on the negative traits of the surrounding location.

Price it Right

Pricing real estate properly is key to selling within a reasonable amount of time, especially for homes that may be a tough sell. With a difficult location, pricing appropriately compared to other homes nearby that have recently sold is important. Pricing too high will certainly scare off buyers, particularly when it comes to homes that are located in a neighborhood that’s less than desirable.

Your real estate agent will conduct a comparative market analysis on similar homes that have recently sold, and you’d be well advised to heed their advice. The last thing you want to do is drop the price a few weeks after your listing goes live because there are no takers. Selling in a tough neighborhood is difficult enough, and trying to convince buyers to pay more than what it’s worth is even harder.

Make Improvements That Will Bring You a Decent ROI

Sometimes it might be necessary to make some improvements to your home in order to impress buyers. Maybe the kitchen seems too small, or the hallway is too dark and dingy. Whatever the case may be, upgrading specific aspects of your home might be warranted. Just be very careful where you’re spending your money and how much you’re spending.

Consider how much you can realistically sell for and account for that figure in your calculations. You don’t want to spend much more than what you’ll recoup when you sell.

Spending money on a fresh coat of paint, repairs, new flooring, new light fixtures, updating kitchens and bathrooms, and organizing closets can be very effective when done right.

Heavily Market an Open House

Have your agent advertise an open house to maximize the number of buyers who show up, and try to host the open house shortly after listing the property. Interest is usually highest for brand new listings, so you need to capitalize on this window of opportunity. Having as many buyers present during your open house will show other buyers that they’re not the only ones who may be interested in buying your home.

Give Directions Through the Nicer Part of Town

When providing directions for your open house, direct buyers through the nicer streets, if any exist. While you don’t want to send people on a major detour, you also want to point out that there are some positive parts to the area, reassuring buyers that the neighborhood isn’t necessarily all that bad.

Offer Concessions

A number of factors play a role in whether or not a buyer decides to put in an offer, and sometimes offering concessions may be just what’s needed to seal a deal. If possible, consider offering concessions to sweeten the deal and make up for the lack of a desirable location. You might choose to pay for part of the closing costs, provide a credit to buyers to cover the cost of home improvements or offer a home warranty for a certain amount of time.

The Bottom Line

Selling a home in a bad location isn’t exactly ideal, but there are definitely some things you can do to improve the situation. There’s always a buyer for every home, even those that are not located in the best neighborhood.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Top Drawing Fiestas Take Center Stage!

As we close out our July summer weekends here in Chicago, some of the city’s top drawing fiestas (or festivals) take center stage!

Celebrating its 15th season, the Wicker Park Fest expands from two to three days on Milwaukee Avenue between North Avenue and Paulina Street in the Wicker Park neighborhood for one of the city’s most anticipated summer festivals.  This fest attracts visitors from across the Midwest with its stellar music lineup of 50+ bands on four stages with some of the summer’s most sought after acts.  More than 120 merchant vendors, a Kids Fest, an Interactive Arts Exhibit, live Fashion Shows (6:30 p.m.-9:00 p.m.), and much more will be featured too!  It’s been named one of the best street festivals of the summer!!  Check it out for yourself!

Another popular annual fest celebrating its 35th season, the Taste of Lincoln Avenue spans several city blocks in the heart of the Lincoln Park neighborhood on Lincoln Avenue between Fullerton and Wrightwood Avenues this Saturday and Sunday (12:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.).  Highlights of this festival include more than 20 music acts on two stages, a stand alone “Kids’ Carnival” area, plus plenty of food, libations, and arts & crafts!  There are also ticketed afternoon wine and whiskey tastings (for an additional cost).  And, new in 2018 is Chocolate Fest where visitors (with the purchase of a daily pass) can sample up to 10 yummy treats!  Chicago’s sweet summer vibe will be in full swing here!!

Drawing over 1 million visitors during its four day event, Fiesta del Sol is the largest Mexican festival in the Midwest and returns this weekend to the Pilsen neighborhood on Cermak Road (1000-1600 W).  Taste your way down Cermak Road with the most amazing food vendors showcasing the best tacos, tamales, and tostadas in town.  Also featured at this fiesta is live entertainment on two stages, local art, carnival rides, a kid’s area, educational resources for parents & youth, and much more!  It’s free to the public, family-friendly, and offers fun for everyone!!

Finally, the Chicago Margarita Festival returns to Navy Pier (600 E. Grand Ave.) in the Streeterville neighborhood with three tastings: 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. & 7:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m. on Saturday, and 12:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. on Sunday.  This year’s festival will feature live bands playing island sounds that pair well with dancing and margaritas!  Those attending Saturday evening’s session will have a bonus with the Pier’s awe-inspiring fireworks over Lake Michigan!!

Your Movies in the Parks for this weekend are listed below.  Again, all movies begin at dusk (8:30 p.m.).  Get ready for a fun summer in the parks!

Friday, July 27th:
“Minions” – Shedd Park (3660 W. 23rd St.) – South Lawndale
“The Boss Baby” – Oakdale Park (965 W. 95th St.) – Washington Heights
“Coco” – Gompers Park (4222 W. Foster Ave.) – North Park

Saturday, July 28th:
“Wonder” – Loyola Park (1230 W. Greenleaf Ave.) – East Rogers Park
“Despicable Me 3” – Humboldt Park (1440 N. Humboldt Blvd.) – Humboldt Park
“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” – Dawes Park (8052 S. Damen Ave.) – Auburn Gresham

Sunday, July 29th:
“Wonder Woman” – Churchill Field Park (1825 N. Damen Ave.) – Logan Square
“Sense & Sensibility” – Chicago Women’s Park & Gardens (1801 S. Indiana Ave.) – Near South Side
“The Chorus (Les Choristes)” – Dvorak Park (1119 W. Cullerton St.) – Pilsen

Will You Be “Fiesta-ing” This Weekend?

CHICAGO NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS: Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Bucktown and Wicker Park, Logan Square, Andersonville, Portage Park

Lincoln Park: One of summer’s best festivals is just two short weeks away! Chicago Hot Dog Fest 2018 is here! The festival is from August 10-12 and this year marks its 6th year. Celebrate the 125th anniversary of the World’s Colombian Exposition by indulging in bunches of hot dog offerings and cold beer. You can also let your kids run wild in an area specifically designed for them. There is a $5 suggested donation and a $20 suggested family donation at the gate. Find more information about this awesome festival here!

Lakeview: It’s never too early to mark your calendar for Oktoberfest! This year’s festival starts on Friday, September 28 from 5-10 pm and runs Saturday, September 29 and Sunday, September 30 from 11 am to 7 pm. Celebrate the traditions of Oktoberfest with brats, great music, and craft beer. The $50 ticket includes 20 samples, a souvenir tasting glass, a pretzel necklace, and admission to the festival grounds. There is also Kinderfest, featuring plenty of kid-centric activities, an opportunity to teach your kids how to polka, and authentic German food. Kinderfest is open from 11 am to 5 pm on both Saturday and Sunday. Check out the official website to see the full band lineup, purchase your tickets, and more.

Bucktown and Wicker Park: Need a fun end-of-summer activity for the kiddos? Well, spread your wings and fly during Mr. Dave’s Tom Petty Tribute Show for kids! Located at Chop Shop in the heart of Wicker Park, the show is at 11 am on August 18. Tickets are just $15! Book your brunch reservation early to guarantee seating after the show here. Find more information about this awesome family friendly event here.

Logan Square: The 2018 Logan Square Preservation House & Garden Walk will be on Saturday, September 8! This year marks the 33rd Biennial Walk from 10 am to 5 pm. The meticulously restored Ryan mansion is among the century-old, rarely seen historic homes and churches on this year’s walk. Experienced docents will guide participants through the homes, discuss the unique interior and exterior architecture, and provide insight on the property’s historical significance. As a bonus feature, this year’s walk will also include a collection of vintage cars parked along Logan Boulevard. The event begins at the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church (2614 N Kedzie). Tickets will be issued here and tour maps provided. Presale tickets are available until September 4 and cost $25; $35 presale tickets include a Logan’s Square Preservation Membership. Tickets can be purchased here.

Andersonville: For the 16th year, Andersonville is thrilled to celebrate Andersonville Arts Week. This year’s extended week-long programming will kick off on Wednesday, September 12 and will feature multiple art forms throughout the week including visual art, dance, theatre, music, kids/family, culinary, handmade, and literary. On Friday September 14, there will be a Stroll & Soiree, an evening of receptions all up and down Clark Street. Keep an eye on this website– it will be updated soon with more details about this year’s events!

Portage Park: Craving a fancy Saturday? Look no further! Every week, Fannie’s hosts Saturday Afternoon High Tea! Every Saturday afternoon at 3 pm, join Fannie’s for afternoon tea served with a delightful spread of pastries and sandwiches. Fannie’s is BYOB and afternoon tea is $24 per person. Call at 708-320-2294 or email to make your reservation. Find more information here.


Restaurant Review – Francesca’s

I have been craving Italian food something fierce. This week took me to Francesca’s, a charming spot tucked away in the Edgewater neighborhood. The restaurant is deceptively large, with ample seating around the wooden bar, a generous number of tables and booths, and a private dining space in the back. We came in on a Tuesday night and although the restaurant wasn’t super busy, I was glad we had made a reservation for a group of seven people. The menu immediately made my mouth water; everything looked so delicious. I know that my eyes always tend to be bigger than my stomach (especially at an Italian restaurant), so I decided to start small. I ordered the Insalata di Rucola: arugula and chopped tomatoes topped with lemon juice, olive oil, and parmesan cheese. This was fantastic. The flavors were bright and fresh and I loved the simplicity of the dish. I will say, the portion was a bit small for the price, but the taste more than made up for it. On Tuesday evenings, they do a lasagna special; $13 for your choice of a dinner or Caesar salad or soup and the lasagna. This week they featured a three cheese lasagna: ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese with a tomato vodka cream sauce. Most of my friends ordered the dinner salad, which came with a positively delightful lemon basil vinaigrette. The lasagna was delicious. The sauce completely made the dish for me, I would order it again in a heartbeat. One of my friends ordered the rigatoni dish: rigatoni pasta topped with peas, cremini mushrooms, and prosciutto in a parmesan cream sauce. After tasting this, I immediately had food envy. The combination of the salty prosciutto with the rich mushrooms, fresh peas, and savory cream sauce was incredible. I also saw that Francesca’s is now serving brunch and I can’t wait to try some of their brunch items! In particular, the Arancini Benedict caught my eye: crispy risotto, prosciutto, poached egg, and hollandaise sauce served with house potatoes.

Francesca’s Bryn Mawr is open Mondays from 11:30 am to 9 pm, Tuesdays through Thursdays from 11:30 am to 9:30 pm, Fridays from 11:30 am to 10:30 pm, Saturdays from 10 am to 10:30 pm, and Sundays from 10 am to 9 pm. Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 3 pm. Francesca’s has three other locations in the city: Gold Coast, Little Italy, and Lakeview. Find more information here.


Kathy’s Home & Garden Tips – Make Your Backyard a Bird Haven

We have enjoyed all the birds coming to our backyard year-round for many years. We started with one feeder and now we have several. I like to blog about this every year as it’s a great pastime for young and old alike. It’s also a great way to be a conservationist! It’s important to  keep our bird populations going in hard times.

First, look at your landscape. It’s good to have bushes and trees near your feeders where birds can quickly find shelter if predators are about. Include evergreen plantings so there will be winter shelter also. Always provide fresh water. We have two birdbaths by our garage flanked by two decent sized bushes. In the winter use a trough heater— available online. These use little current and keep the water just above freezing. Water is especially necessary in winter when many sources open to the birds are frozen. Change the water frequently and wash the birdbaths every ten days or so. It’s also nice to provide access for small animals, so we have a little stone bench in front of our heater.

As for seed, it’s available many places physically and online. We buy ours at Menards; it has the best prices we’ve found. Spend a little more money and get a better blend; like one labeled to attract songbirds. This one will have a larger amount of good seed like sunflower and safflower and less garbage seed like millet. Throw a few handfuls of finch food in the mix for these delightful little birds. You can buy a feeder constructed specifically for this tiny seed, but we just throw it in with the regular mix. We have tube feeders of various sizes. We also do some ground feeding for non- perching birds, like mourning doves. They love to visit during the winter and we often have a dozen or more all winter long.

So, for a small amount of money, you can make your yard a backyard oasis for all the beautiful birds in your neighborhood.