8 Tips For Your Indoor Garden

There’s something about plants that brings a sense of vibrancy, life, and coziness to a home. Bringing a little of the outdoors back inside can keep you connected with nature while giving your home an added element of decor. At the same time, having an indoor garden can also provide you with easy access to some of your favorite herbs that you might like to use when preparing your favorite dishes.

To help ensure a flourishing indoor garden, consider the following tips.

1. Find the Best Spot in the House

Every type of plant may have its own specific requirements to ensure healthy growth. While some plants may thrive in direct sunlight all throughout the day, others might appreciate much lower levels of natural light.

For instance, plants that love lots of sunshine may do well on a windowsill that is facing north or north-east. Or, if the soil seems to dry up very quickly or there are signs of withering, move the plant away from the windowsill and more towards the middle of the room. Position your plants accordingly, and keep trying different spots until you find the best one for your plants.

2. Keep the Plants Far From Drafts

Whether it’s from an open window, an air conditioner unit, or a vent, plants should never be positioned in such a way that they will be in the line of fire of drafts. Even the slightest draft can kill a plant or severely compromise its health.

3. Water Appropriately

Many newbie gardeners tend to over water their plants thinking that they’re always thirsty. While watering is certainly essential, too much can actually kill a plant. Generally speaking, plants should only be watered when the soil mix feels dry.

You can check the moisture level of the potting mix by simply sticking your finger in it. If it’s dry, water it. If it’s still moist, it can go a little while longer without having to be watered.

4. Use Cool Water

Not only does the frequency of watering matter, but so does the actual temperature of the water itself. Plants typically like cool water as opposed to very warm water. More specifically, water that is around the 68°F mark seems to work best for plants, which appears to be the ideal temperature for plant roots to absorb water and nutrients.

5. Mist the Leaves

Indoor plants love having some water misted over their leaves, especially if the air indoors is quite dry. Just make sure not to mist too often and to only use water that is room temperature.

6. Fertilize the Soil

Outdoor gardens aren’t the only ones that could benefit from soil fertilization. Be sure to feed your indoor plants with a little bit of fertilizer. You can use liquid fertilizers that contain all the necessary nutrients that your plants need. Just be sure to follow the instructions about proper doses and frequency of fertilization.

Or else, you can always create your own natural fertilizer by composting with things such as vegetable and fruits peels, egg shells, and coffee grinds that can be added to the soil.

7. Trim Your Herbs

Your herb plants can grow much fuller if you trim them occasionally. Leafy herbs, like basil and cilantro, should be pinched or trimmed them back to the leaf nodule in order to stimulate the growth of lush leaves.

Woodier herbs, such as rosemary and thyme, get “woodier” as they grow older. These types of herbs should be pruned back to prevent them from becoming all stem and no leaf.

8. Wipe Off the Leaves

Just like all other surfaces in your home, the leaves of your plants can accumulate a layer of dust over time. As such, you’ll want to wipe them down in order to maximize the amount of sunlight that the plant receives and absorbs. If sunlight is blocked, the plant’s ability to photosynthesize will be reduced. Photosynthesis is how plant feeds themselves, so minimizing this process won’t do your plants any good.

The Bottom Line

Having a myriad of plants in your home can certainly breathe some life into your interior. But having plants is not a set-it-and-forget-it type of arrangement. Instead, your plants will need plenty of attention and a little know-how on your behalf to ensure they thrive. Keep these tips in mind when tending to your plants to create and maintain a thriving, healthy indoor garden.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – MAKING THE BEST OF WHAT WE’VE GOT!

It’s the last weekend of April and still no signs of spring!  Maybe the month of May will bring Chicagoans what we’ve been longing for – warmer temps.  But until then, let’s make the best of what we’ve got for an enjoyable weekend!

The 3rd annual One of a Kind Spring Show returns to the Merchandise Mart (222 Merchandise Mart Plaza) in the River North neighborhood this Saturday (10:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.) and Sunday (10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.).  With more than 300 talented artists and designers from across North America, shoppers will be able to meet and learn about the inspiration and technique behind the artists’ work as well as purchase their unique collections.  Your shopping experience will be like no other whether you sample goodies from the Gourmet Market, improve your own crafting skills with Lillstreet, check out the fashion shows (1:00 p.m. both days), or enjoy great food and live music from outstanding musicians!  It’s a one-of-a-kind experience you won’t want to miss!!

Back at it again – SpiN Chicago (344 N. State St.) in the River North neighborhood will host the Chicago Tequila and Sangria Festival this Saturday with two sessions (12:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. & 3:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.).  Enjoy a myriad of tequilas, sangrias, and spirits as you treat yourself to a fun and unique experience.  Your ticket includes admission to the tasting of a variety of tequilas & sangrias, a souvenir tasting glass, 15 tasting tickets, entertainment, and more!  Other beverages and food will also be available for purchase!!

Enjoy a Saturday (5:30 p.m.-11:00 p.m.) or Sunday evening (5:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m.) seeing over 35 larger-than-life hand-made lanterns covered with hand-painted silk and illuminated by more than 1,000 twinkling LED lights at the Chinese Dragon Lights Festival held at Soldier Field (1410 S. Museum Campus Dr.) in the South Loop.  Also, two 200-foot dragons that are two stories high guard the exhibition that also includes live Chinese acrobat performances, traditional Chinese handicraft demonstrations & items for sale, and programs for folks of all ages!  In addition to lanterns and dragons, the festival’s menu includes authentic Chinese and Asian food, as well as traditional fair food.  It’s a great opportunity to explore the culture of China in a wonderland of brilliant color and culture designed to fill your senses!!

Head on over to Frontier (1072 N. Milwaukee Ave.) in the Noble Square neighborhood as they celebrate New Orleans’ Jazzfest with their own Jazzfest Crawfish Boil this Sunday with two seatings (12:00 p.m. & 4:00 p.m.).  Diners are offered all-you-can-eat crawfish, corn, and potatoes, along with additional authentic Jazzfest specials for purchase!  Seats are first come , first serve.  Live music will take place throughout the day as well.  It’s the next best thing to being in NOLA!!

Enjoy unlimited servings of five core microbrews ranging from golden ales to robust/porters and tasty appetizers at Barking for Brews at Revolution Brewery (2323 N. Milwaukee Ave.) in the Logan Square neighborhood this Sunday (4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.).  This event is a fundraiser with all proceeds benefitting Midwest Rescue of Illinois (a foster-based pit bull rescue serving the Chicago area).  Fantastic raffle prizes and a 50/50 drawing are also on tap!  So, come and bring your friends to join the pit bull revolution at Revolution Brewery!

So, What’s Up This Weekend For You?

7 Surprising Things You Didn’t Know Your Homeowner’s Insurance Covers

Homeowner’s insurance is mandatory for all homeowners, especially those who need to take out a mortgage to finance a home purchase. Lenders typically won’t approve a mortgage until they see proof that the home is insured.

That being said, homeowner’s insurance is still extremely handy in many cases. While there may be plenty of things that aren’t necessarily covered, there are many other things that are covered that you may not have even thought of. 

Here are some things that may be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy that may be a surprise to you.

1. Dog Bites

If you own a dog, there is always the possibility that it could bite someone. Even the sweetest dogs can still bite if they’re provoked, and if that happens to someone who is visiting, you just never know if they’ll take you to court to cover any costs associated with medical bills.

In fact, many homeowner’s insurance claims are the result of dog bites. However, it’s still a good idea to contact your insurance agent to make sure you’re covered in this particular realm.

2. College Student Belongings

If you have a child who is attending college or university and is living on campus, their personal belongings may be covered under your homeowner’s insurance policy. Just about every type of personal item belonging to students who live in dorms should be covered at no extra cost.

That said, personal property belonging to college students who live off campus might not be covered. In this case, a separate renter’s insurance policy may need to be taken out. 

3. Spoiled Food

It’s common for the power to go out in your home once in a while in the midst of a storm. Unfortunately, you need electricity to power up your freezer and refrigerator. All that food that you’ve got stored in there can go bad rather quickly as the temperature starts to warm up. You might have very expensive products stored in your fridge or freezer, especially meat and fish products.

This can be made worse if the power goes out for an extended period of time and you happen to be away when that occurs. In this case, you can be sure that all that food will start to spoil. The good news is that many insurance policies offer coverage for spoiled food in cases like these, up to a limit of somewhere around the $500 mark. Otherwise, you can purchase more coverage to make sure you’re covered if this ever happens to you.

4. Accidents Away from Home

If someone gets hurt while they’re on your property, your homeowner’s insurance policy should be able to cover any liability claims. But not only are accidents covered while on your property, even those that take place somewhere else may be covered, as long as it doesn’t involve any vehicles. So, if you accidentally cause injury to someone somewhere off property, you can file a liability claim with your homeowner’s insurance policy.

5. Lightning Strikes

It’s extremely rare to get struck by lightning. In fact, the odds of getting struck by a bolt of lightning in any given year in the US is about 1 in 700,000. Having said that, the possibilities are still real. While it’s more likely to happen in an open space with little to no shelter, lightning can still target homes and can cause serious damage.

Thankfully, the majority of homeowner’s insurance policies provide a certain amount of coverage for lightning damage. As always, it’s wise to ensure that your policy includes coverage for any damage caused by electrical surges from lightning.

6. Libel Cases

If you are ever taken to court in a civil lawsuit, you could suffer devastating financial consequences if you are not covered adequately. Some people have even gone into bankruptcy as a result of being sued. Luckily, most home insurance policies cover any expenses associated with defending yourself in a lawsuit.

7. Identity Theft

Identity theft is a huge deal these days, and hackers are becoming increasingly clever in their methods of stealing identities. People should take measures to protect themselves from identity theft and ensure that their homeowner’s insurance policies cover any expenses related to identity theft, such as lawyer fees.

The Bottom Line

Most homeowner’s insurance policies cover standard items, but there are also some lesser-known things that may also be covered. Having said that, it’s still important to check with your insurance provider to verify exactly what your policy covers and what it doesn’t so you don’t wind up unpleasantly surprised when you need to file a claim.

CHICAGO NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS: Lakeview, Bucktown and Wicker Park, Lincoln Park, Old Town, Logan Square, Oak Park

Lakeview: Join F.A.M.E. (Foundation of Artists Mentored in Entertainment) for their 7th Annual Fundraising Gala! The Dinner Dance Gala will be held this Saturday, April 28 from 6 to 11 pm at the Chicago Yacht Club Belmont. This gala supports some of the most talented artists in Chicago! This year, the audience will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite dancer and singer. Celebrity judges include Candace Jordan, Michael McStraw, David O’Connor, and Denise Tomasello. One dancer and one singer will be award $1200 each. Tickets are $75 and include the final round of the talent competition, a cocktail reception, dinner, raffles, dancing, DJ, live entertainment, and a cash bar (1 free drink ticket included). Learn more and buy your tickets here!

Bucktown and Wicker Park: The Wicker Park Farmers Market plans to kick off another season on Sunday, June 3! Between 8 am and 2 pm, local vendors will be offering all the best in handmade and homegrown to get the summer started right. There will be fresh fruits, veggies, baked goods, meats, cheese, and flowers! The market is a great opportunity for kids and adults alike to learn about the food we eat from the farm to our tables. Find more information here.

Lincoln Park: It’s that time of year again! Lincoln Park Uncorked: An Armitage-Halsted Wine Stroll is back! This is one of Chicago’s premier wine tasting events. Enjoy over 30 curated samples of red and white wines, all while strolling through one of the city’s most famous shopping districts in the heart of Lincoln Park. This years participating wine stroll stops include All She Wrote, Barry’s Boot Camp, Chez Moi, J9 Wine Bar, Via Strozzi, and more. Last year’s event sold out, so don’t delay in getting your tickets! Tickets include wine samples and light food fare from over a dozen local businesses. Groups of 5 or more are eligible for a 15% discount per ticket, bringing the price down to $34 per ticket. General admission tickets are $40. Purchase yours now, before they sell out!

Old Town: As the weather gets warmer, the festival calendar starts to ramp up! Mark your calendars for the Wells Street Art Festival on Saturday June 9 and Sunday June 10. The festival is from 10 am to 10 pm on Saturday and 10 am to 9 pm on Sunday. The festival features over 225 juried artists from across the continent, a dedicated performance stage with local music, performance artists, and cover bands, a children’s play area, and over 20 food and drink vendors serving up local Old Town treats! If you want to get the most out of your festival experience, purchase your “Best Fest” ticket now! For $40, you get two gate donations, two beverage tickets ($5 value each), four food tickets ($5 value each), and two commemorative cups. Purchase yours here, now!

Logan Square: Mark your calendars! The Logan Square Arts Festival returns to Logan Square June 22 through June 24. There will be two stages of live music, art installations, and food and drink from the neighborhood. Tickets are only $5 and all proceeds benefit neighborhood non-profits, including Logan Square Preservation, an organization dedicated to preserving the history and beauty of Logan Square. This year’s festival is particularly special as it coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Illinois Centennial Monument, the focal point of the festival and the neighborhood. Find more information about this exciting festival on their Facebook page.

Oak Park: Get yourself out to Oak Park for the “Tales of the Twenties in Oak Park House Walk”! The Historical Society presents the 15th annual Spring Housewalk on May 6 from 1 to 5 pm. The walk features interior tours of six beautiful homes in North Central Oak Park! Designed in a variety of architectural styles, these featured houses were built in the Roaring Twenties, when the area north of Division Street was transformed from vacant fields to luxurious brick homes. Presale tickets are $30 for the general public, $25 for members, and day of tickets will be $35. Ticket pickup will be at Oak Park River Forest Museum on the day of the walk. Tickets may be purchased online, at the museum, or by calling 708-848-6755. Find more information here.

RACHEL HOOVLER & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO

Restaurant Review – Old Grounds Social

This week took me to a new spot in Lincoln Park! Old Grounds Social, located at 950 W Wrightwood Ave, is a newcomer to the neighborhood having just opened in March. The restaurant replaced barbecue spot Barn & Company. They wanted to steer away from Barn & Company’s style of food, so they brought in chef Jason Paskewitz to develop a more diverse menu. Paskewitz also works at Pearl Brasserie, a French restaurant in the loop. They did decide to bring back Barn & Company’s famous smoked wings, considered some of the best wings in the city! We came in on a Friday night around 6 and were seated right away, even with a party of six. After looking at the menu, my mouth was watering. The appetizers looked so tasty! The Fried Chicken Nachos especially caught my eye: white corn tortilla chips topped with guacamole, pico de gallo, chihuahua cheese, and crema. I decided I wasn’t quite hungry enough for an appetizer and a meal, so I focused in on the entrees. I decided on the Cobb Salad: blackened chicken, bacon, bleu cheese, egg, avocado, tomato, and ranch on a bed of romaine lettuce. It was very tasty! The chicken was grilled perfectly and the veggies were crisp and fresh. My friend ordered the Fried Chicken Sandwich: a brioche bun topped with a huge piece of fried chicken, mayo, lettuce, and pickle. This was also super tasty! I loved the combination of the hot fried chicken and the crunchy pickle. One of my other friends had the Jamaican Jerk wings and they totally lived up to the hype. The rub was delicious and the wings were perfectly smoked. If I only came back for one thing, it would definitely be the wings!

Old Grounds Social is closed on Mondays and open Tuesdays through Fridays from 4 pm to 2 am, Saturdays from 10 am to 3 am, and Sundays from 10 am to 2 am. Find more information on their website!

RACHEL HOOVLER & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO

Kathy’s Home & Garden Tips – More Cleaning Hacks

With many of us using our small coffee grinders for whole spices, cleaning them between uses is a bit difficult. Getting rid of the smell can be even more so! Grind a large handful of uncooked white rice until it’s completely powdered. It removes all smells and particles.

Leather furniture gets scratches and worn spots. Rub with a little like-colored shoe polish. Make sure to rub well and wipe off all excess. Microfiber furniture can be easily cleaned with a little rubbing alcohol. Put some in a spray bottle and spray the stain. Rub lightly with a clean sponge and blot with a clean cotton towel. When dry, brush lightly to bring up the nap.

Citrus and salt are both great cleaning agents and can disinfect and deodorize too. Sprinkle kosher salt on your cutting board. Scrub with the cut end of a lemon while squeezing out the juice. Let sit for a few minutes then rinse. Bathtub rings will be gone in a flash with cut grapefruit halves sprinkled with kosher salt. 

Baking soda and vinegar are great for burned on messes. Pour ½ cup vinegar in the bottom of the oven. Sprinkle with baking soda, let fizzle for several minutes. Wipe clean with a sponge and green scrubber. For a pan with burned on food, heat two cups vinegar to boiling. Take off heat and add two tablespoons baking soda. Let sit a while, then wipe clean.

Baking soda also works with bleach. Wet dirty tile and grout with straight bleach. Sprinkle with baking soda. Scrub with a stiff brush and let sit till clean. You can clean it off by letting it dry, then vacuuming up the residue. Clean completely with a damp cotton cloth.

Crumpled foil works as a great scrubber. Clean your iron with foil and salt. Do you have a curling iron full of product residue? Use foil to clean. Or, use a foil ball and a little dish soap to clean glass dishes and casseroles.

Wet shoes? Fill with crumpled newspapers to dry quickly and keep their shape. Use toothpaste to clean jewelry! Be sure to use sparingly and scrub gently with an old toothbrush. Use another old, clean toothbrush to clean keyboards. Use shampoo to clean your hair brushes.

Pick up broken glass shards with a piece of white bread. Clean dog hair from the carpet with a squeegee. Sprinkle baking soda on greasy carpet stains. Brush in, let set then vacuum. Use coffee filters to dust all your device screens. To clean the microwave, heat ½ cup water with a few drops dish liquid. Then, wipe clean for a sparkling microwave with no vinegar smell!

KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO

9 Things to Think About Before Listing Your Home on Airbnb

If you own a property that is vacant for at least part of the year, you might be able to make some good money by renting it out as a vacation rental on sites like Airbnb. But while there is certainly some profit potential associated with using a service like Airbnb, there are a number of considerations that should be made first before you open your doors to the masses.

Here are some important things to consider before you list your property on Airbnb.

1. Safety Comes First

You obviously want to make some extra cash by opening up your home to guests through Airbnb, but it’s absolutely critical that you thoroughly screen guests before you hand them the keys. Safety should always come first, especially when you allow complete strangers to take up residence in your home for a brief period of time.

You might be excited to get an interested party, but don’t be afraid to turn them down if anything seems a little unsettling about them. Be sure to put potential guests through a screening process. You might insist on having guests provide a copy of government-issued ID or only agree to take guests who have a certain number of positive reviews from other hosts. Whatever your particular process may be, make sure it’s thorough enough to prevent any sketchy individuals from occupying your home.

2. It Takes Time

You will need to dedicate a certain amount of time to your Airbnb listing, so make sure you’ve got a few hours to spare each week for this purpose. You’ll need to take calls, respond to emails, screen potential guests, prepare contracts, deal with emergencies, and clean the property between each guest. Make sure that you have the time to commit to hosting an Airbnb before you decide to put your property up for rent.

Of course, you can always hire a property management company to handle all of these time-consuming tasks for you, but that will eat into your profits, which can be a problem if you’re just barely making any money from this endeavor.

3. Insurance Will be Required

Letting strangers occupy your property is a risk, not just safety wise but also in terms of theft and liability. You could unknowingly allow a guest in who ends up stealing from you or damaging the property. You could also be faced with a situation whereby a guest hurts themselves on your property.

There are so many different situations that can arise that can put you at legal and financial risk, and the best way to protect yourself is by having the appropriate insurance policy in place. You might have homeowner’s insurance already, but it will likely be limited. Look into Airbnb liability insurance coverage to minimize your risks.

4. You’ll Need to Revisit Your Listing Price Regularly

It’s a good idea to see what the comparable properties in your area are being listed at on Airbnb so you can establish a competitive price. The price is one of the most important factors involved in being successful on Airbnb, so it’s essential to get the price right.

But once you establish an appropriate price, that doesn’t mean you can just set it and forget it. The price will need to be revisited every so often, especially as the market changes.

5. Your Neighbors Might Have a Problem With it

As you can imagine, some homeowners might have a problem with having a slew of different people set up shop in the neighborhood every few days. As such, many communities across the country have petitioned local city councils to restrict or even ban Airbnbs in the area. Make sure to find out whether your particular area has any current petitions against Airbnb listings. If so, you may want to tread lightly and decide if all the trouble is worth it.

6. You Might Not Be Allowed to List Your Place

Not only can neighbors give you a hard time about renting out your home on Airbnb, but you might not even be legally permitted to do so, especially if you currently rent. Many leases clearly stipulate that sub-leasing is strictly forbidden, and collecting rent from guests through Airbnb certainly falls under this category.

If you rent your unit, it is critical that you discuss your intentions to list on Airbnb with your landlord beforehand. If your rental unit is in a condominium, you will also need to get approval from the HOA before listing.

7. Extra Expenses Should Be Budgeted For

You may be collecting a rental fee from each guest that you host, but there are expenses that will deduct from your profits. Being a host on Airbnb will come with several costs, such as cleaning fees, repairs, and even Airbnb’s service fee.

8. There Are Laws You’ll Need to Understand

You’re responsible for finding out what the regulations are in your city and act accordingly. Some Airbnb hosts have faced hefty fines for renting their units that are not according to local law. For instance, there may be certain zoning laws that need to be followed that could deem your property a rooming house or even a bed and breakfast. If your zoning laws do not allow for such properties in your neighborhood, you could be slapped with a fine.

9. Uncle Sam Will Want a Cut of Your Earnings

Any profits that you make from renting your property will have to be reported to the IRS come tax time. That said, you should be able to claim any expenses against it in order to minimize the amount of taxes you will responsible for paying.

The Bottom Line

You definitely stand to make some extra money by renting out your property on Airbnb and other vacation rental sites like it. But it’s not as simple as listing your property and collecting rent checks. There are some important considerations that should be made before you embark on this journey in order to ensure you’re making an informed decision.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – SUN JOINS IN ON OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES!

There are plenty of outdoor, as well as some indoor, activities planned for this weekend in Chicago including Earth Day on Sunday!  It’s a good thing the sun will be joining us!!

The longest running cancer fundraiser Walk & Roll hosted by the American Cancer Society for the past 46 years returns to Soldier Field (1410 S. Museum Campus Dr.) in the South Loop this Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  This one-of-a-kind event offers participants a walk or run (5K), a skate (10K), or biking (15K) to raise funds and save lives from all cancers!  Come out and honor cancer survivors and caregivers, as well as enjoy a day of family-friendly activities!!  New this year is the Garden of Hope where you can dedicate a pinwheel flower to a lost loved one, someone currently battling, or anyone who has overcome cancer.

Also taking place this Saturday (9:00 a.m.) is the Wintrust Lakefront 10 Miler and 5K at Montrose Beach (4400 N. Lake Shore Dr.) in the Uptown neighborhood.  Participants choose their distance to race, run, jog, or walk their way to a great finish.  The route is primarily within Lincoln Park and along sections of Chicago’s lakefront trail with incredible views of Lake Michigan and the city’s skyline.  Participants will receive a reflective tech hoody, a finisher medal, and a goody bag.  Afterwards, it’s time to celebrate with Lagunitas beer, food, and music!

Then, Sunday brings the 5T5K Chicago Breakthrough for Brain Tumors Run & Walk to Soldier Field (1410 S. Museum Campus Dr.) in the South Loop.  Come out and support the American Brain Tumor Association in their efforts to fund desperately needed brain tumor research, patient programs, and support services for those diagnosed with brain tumors.  Opening ceremonies begin at 9:00 a.m., run followed by walkers begins at 9:30 a.m., and closing remarks are at 10:30 a.m.  Their goal this year is to raise $870,000!

In honor of Earth Day, head out to Brookfield Zoo (8400 W. 31st St.) in Brookfield for their annual Party for the Plant this Sunday.  This fun-filled family event features green-themed craft activities, helping staff plant flowers and trees, visits with representatives at the Eco Expo, and special Zoo Chats!  It’s a day to learn about the different ways you can make Earth-friendly choices such as conserving energy and recycling to have a positive impact on the planet!!  Also, several recycling organizations will be onsite collecting items from zoogoers.  For more information and a full list of recyclable items, click the link above.

Vintage Garage Chicago Season Opener kicks off their 7th season this Sunday (10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.) at 5051 N. Broadway Street in the Uptown neighborhood.  Over 100 vendors of all things vintage will fill two floors with vintage furniture, mid-century, vintage clothing, jewelry, old signs, vinyl records, vintage home décor, and so much more!  It’s their biggest show of the year!!

The Chocolate, Wine & Spirits Fest comes to the red hot West Loop neighborhood this Saturday (11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.) and Sunday (11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.) at the Stephen M. Bailey Auditorium (1340 W. Washington Blvd.).  Over 50 vendors will be displaying their products for you to sample and purchase.  Highlights of this event include meeting the artisans, sampling artisan chocolates and foods, a benefit wine & spirits tasting (net proceeds benefit Holiday Heroes who bring holiday joy to hospitalized children), and demonstrations & pairings.  You’ll even receive complimentary admission to the companion Chicago Coffee & Tea Expo!   Go ahead and enjoy a sweet, fun-filled day!!

Don’t Forget Your Shades & Sunscreen!

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

Bucktown and Wicker Park: With the weather finally getting warm here in Chicago, it’s time to break out those running shoes! Join the 606 Running Club for their Tuesday Weekly Run. Every Tuesday evening, you’ll meet up for a 3.5 mile run, breaking out into different distance and pacing groups. The group meets at the corner of Damen & Wicker Park at 6:30 pm (the north-most corner of Wicker Park). Afterwards, head over to the post run re-hydration location Easy Bar (on Divison and Damen) for $2 and $3 beer specials- make sure to bring your ID! No need to pay or register- this event is totally free. Check out more information here!

Lincoln Park: Join the Lincoln Park Conservancy for the 11th Annual Gala for Lincoln Park. By attending this signature event, you’ll be supporting the Lincoln Park Conservancy, which is the only non-profit organization that manages, maintains, and improves the historic buildings, monuments, natural areas, gardens, and playlots throughout Lincoln Park. This fabulous gala is Saturday, April 28 from 6:30 to 11 pm. The evening includes cocktails, appetizers, dinner, dancing, and both a live and silent auction, accompanied by the wonderful music of the Stitley Orchestra. The MC for the evening is Joe O’Neil, Senior Director of Ticket Operations for the Chicago Bulls. Find more information and buy your tickets here.

Lakeview: Mark your calendars for Friday, April 27! 20X2 Chicago is here! 20X2 is an ongoing project that exists to showcase the creativity that lurks within each of us. Writers, musicians, filmmakers, and web geeks are featured and asked to take two minutes to answer the question of the day. This edition’s question is “Where do we start?” Doors open at 6:30 and the show starts at 7 pm. The show is at Schuba’s (3159 N Southport). Tickets are $10 online or at the door and the show is appropriate for all ages. Find more information about the featured speakers here.

Edgewater: Join Women & Children First for a night of conversation with acclaimed author Meg Wolitzer. She’ll be in conversation with WBEZ’s Greta Johnson. The event is this Tuesday, April 24 at 7 pm and is free to attend. The event is to celebrate Meg Wolitzer’s new novel, The Female Persuasion. Find more information about this exciting event here!

Lincoln Square: It’s that time of year again! The Lincoln Square Wine Stroll is here! This bi-annual event transforms the retail establishments and restaurants of Lincoln Square into wine tasting destinations. This Thursday, April 26, from 6:30 to 9:30 pm, you’ll have 5 routes to choose from- three in Lincoln Square and two in Ravenswood. Over 45 businesses participate in each stroll, pairing red and white samples with delicious appetizers from local restaurants. This is a rain or shine event and all attendees must be 21 years of age or older. Wine pours are offered in 2 ounce pours at each location. Tickets are between $30 and $45, depending on which route you choose. Routes are already selling out, so get your tickets here now!

Evanston: Are you a trivia fan? Get yourself up to Evanston for a very special Marvel Trivia night, hosted by Geeks Who Drink! The fun begins this Saturday, April 21 at 3 pm at World Of Beer (1601 Sherman Ave). The vast majority of the quiz will cover the Marvel Cinematic Universe- the 18 feature length films released by Marvel thus far. However, quiz masters reserve the right to ask about the associated TV shows, short films, etc., so brush up on your  complete Marvel knowledge! Admission is $5 per person and the winners will take home a cash prize! Teams are limited to six people and the use of cell phones is strictly prohibited. Teams must register in advance by using this link. To find more information about this awesome event, check out the Facebook page.

RACHEL HOOVLER & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO