THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Making the Most of Our Time Off!

Enjoy the Weekend sign with clouds and sky background

Are you ready to make the most of your time off this last weekend in February?  Here are some suggestions to get you on your way.  Enjoy!

Are you ready to go half naked for charity?  If so, you’re in luck since Cupid’s Undie Run takes place this Saturday (12 p.m.-4 p.m.) at Sluggers World Class Sports Bar (3540 N. Clark St.) in the Wrigleyville neighborhood.  This annual tradition kicks off with drinking and dancing, then it’s time to run a mile-ish, at your own pace, and end the day with an epic dance party.  Every February, thousands of undie runners in cities across the U.S. come together to support those affected by NF (neurofibromatosis) which is a genetic disorder causing tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body.  If running scantily clad outdoors in the winter isn’t your cup of tea, you can always donate to the cause and be a part of something great!

Are you a fan of mac and cheese?  If so, you’ll be able to get your fill of these tasty, cheesy noodles at the Mac & Cheese Crawl this Saturday (11 a.m.-7 p.m.) beginning at the Old Crow Smokehouse (3506 N. Clark St.) in the Wrigleyville neighborhood.  A ticket includes admission to all the participating bars that are within walking distance on the crawl, seven free mac & cheese servings, drink specials, giveaways, and more.  You definitely won’t go hungry on this eating, drinking, and partying crawl!

It’s carnival season again which brings parties, parades, and all-out revelry in many countries around the world and this year Chicago will host Global Connections: International Carnivale this Saturday (1 p.m.-5 p.m.) at Navy Pier’s Aon Grand Ballroom (600 E. Grand Ave.) in the Streeterville neighborhood.  Once again, this afternoon celebration will feature art making activities, food and beverages for purchase, music, and dance from across the globe which include Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, and many other countries.  Best of all, it’s free and open to all ages!

A celebration of Czech culture and the finest beer takes place this Saturday (12 p.m.-11 p.m.) with the Czech Beer Fest! at Black Barrel Lounge (455 W. North Ave.) in the Old Town neighborhood.  Not only will you be able to indulge your taste buds with authentic Czech flavors such as Goulash and Czech sausage, but you’ll also wet those taste buds with the star of the show – an outstanding selection of Czech beers served in a 25 oz. souvenir glass beer mug.  In addition, live tunes will be provided by Ez Tones, the Wagner Band, and Keith Stras & the Polka Confetti for an unforgettable event, especially for beer enthusiasts!

It’s an incredible weekend full of magic at MagicCon: Chicago taking place at McCormick Place Lakeside Center (2301 S. Lake Shore Dr.) in the South Loop.  Come join your hosts Wizards of the Coast and Reedpop as they kick off the 2024 festival event series dedicated to celebrating all things Magic: The Gathering.  This fan convention will feature on-demand and ticketed play events, panels, meet and greets with some of your favorite celebrities, plenty of cosplayers, exclusive merch vendors, and much more!

The 9th annual Chicago Black Restaurant Week will be wrapping up this weekend at various venues throughout Chicago and the Chicagoland area spotlighting Black-owned restaurants, bakeries, caterers, and more offering special menus and prices.  It’s an ultimate experience your tummy will thank you for!

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Neighborhood News: Modern Art Masters live at Streeterville’s Museum of Contemporary Art

Set of Colored Martini Cocktails with Olives Vector Illustration

Here’s a great trivia question for you: What building was the first in the United States to be “wrapped” by Christo and Jeanne-Claude?

If you guessed Streeterville’s Museum of Contemporary Art,220 E. Chicago Avenue, you’d be right! ‘Wrap In Wrap Out’ debuted in 1969. Today, it’s one of the world’s largest contemporary art venues.

Christo’s website recalls MCA’s former venue on Ontario Street.

“If any building ever needed wrapping, it was Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, a banal, one-story edifice (with a below-ground gallery) having about as much architectural charm as an old shoe box. Built in the early 1900s, it had once been a bakery and, later, the headquarters of Playboy Enterprises.”

Beginnings…

In 1964, Chicago already had The Art Institute of Chicago, but, according to Wikipedia sources, 30 critics, collectors and dealers gathered at the home of critic Doris Lane Butler to bring the long-discussed idea of a museum of contemporary art to complement the city’s Art Institute of Chicago. Mary Richardson said on MCA’s website that the institution’s founders originally conceived of the museum as a Kunsthalle, or a noncollecting ‘art hall’ that organized and hosted temporary exhibitions of new and experimental artists. 

Over the next decades, MCA expanded its vision to include permanent collections, theatrical performances, exhibitions and multi-media configurations.

The museum opened at its current location June 21–22, 1996, with a 24-hour event that drew more than 25,000 visitors, according to a Chicago Tribune story.

 Modern Classics on Display 

As Brittanica.com notes, the MCA’s permanent collection contains more than 2,750 pieces of modern art from the 1920s onward. Notable works featured in the museum’s permanent collection include Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans II (1969), Jeff Koons’sRabbit(1986), Virgil Abloh’s “DOMINO EFFECT” (2018), Takashi Murakami’s Jellyfish Eyes (2002), and Cindy Sherman’s Untitled (1975). In a nod to its roots as a Kungshalle, not all works in the collection are displayed year-round. Instead, pieces are rotated in changing displays throughout the year.

They also support the local arts scene as well as globally renowned contemporary art and performance, including early looks at artists like Rashid Johnson, Catherine Opie and Olafur Eliasson.

Tuesdays…

Museum admission on Tuesdays are always free for Illinois residents. During the rest of the week, there’s reduced admission for students and seniors.

Family Days at the MCA

The MCA is a great place for families to connect with contemporary art. Every second Saturday of the month, October through May, families can enjoy free admission and interactive events that redefine the way that youth and families explore and create art together.

MCA’s hours are Tuesdays, 10am–9 pm, and Wednesday-Sunday, 10am–5pm. They are closed Mondays. For tickets and information, click here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Restaurant Review: For National Black Restaurant Week, West Town’s Frontier delivers

Happy male cook wearing apron standing by kitchen counter preparing food

National Black Restaurant Week ends on February 25. For a unique experience, head to the outskirts of West Town, just off Milwaukee Avenue, to Frontier.

James Beard Award semifinalist chef Brian Jupiter calls his restaurant “a tribute to what those adventurers ate and hunted on the trail as we invite you to savor the modern day interpretations of their fare.” 

Since 2018, according to their website, Frontier has received local and national recognition for ambiance, group dining and exotic fare.  Chef Jupiter was nominated for 2 James Beard Best Chef Midwest awards, 2022 Chopped Champion and awarded 3 Michelin Bib Gourmand’s at their sister restaurant, Ina Mae.

Frontier will “take you out of your comfort zone and give you a taste of eating and drinking on the edge of civilization, where nature dictates what’s on the menu.”

In a unique twist on the family supper table, they’vecaptured the early pioneer’s celebration of family dinner gatherings. 

This is the place for game meats—primarily Elk—sliders or chili, anyone? Elk Chili pairs ground elk with mixed beans, trinity, cheddar sour cream, while their Elk Sliders are an elk loin grilled medium rare, wasabi onion, garlic Boursin, and elk jus.

Or, try a neat twist on a Philly Cheesesteak, here made with venison. Frontier’s Venison Cheesesteak is a thinly sliced venison, peppers, onions, red wine jam, cheddar, provolone, hoagie roll, and served with fries.

For those who prefer the vegetarian life, Mushroom Fritters are “Four Star” local mushrooms, gouda, confit garlic, chimichurri, cayenne, and togarashi aioli.

They make a Chopped Salad like no one else. Wild boar tasso is  paired with cucumber, avocado, tomato, onion, banana peppers, feta, fried peanut, and harissa ranch.

They also have a selection of seafood and crustacean delights. Charred Octopus has romesco, muffaletta olives, oregano, lemon, and EVOO (extra virgin olive oil).Steamed Mussels are black mussels with nduja pork sausage, garlic, fennel, cream, tomatoes, white wine sauce, and served with grilled bread. 

Special Event on Leap Night 

Chef Jup & Chef Zubair Mohajir of The Coach House by Wazwan & L Tiger are hosting Smoje Night on Thursday, February 29 from 7-9pm. For $88 a person, the two chefs will prepare two dishes & two cocktails each. Chef Zubair will be preparing Smoked Varuval Chicken, a bone-in leg quarter with roti and a sesame tomatillo salad. He’ll also make an Ube Milk Cake with carrot butter, toasted coconut, and honey comb. 

Chef Jup is making a Smoked Brisket Flauta with avocado, jicama and apple salad, along with Crispy Beef Tongue, served with smoked mushroom, duck fat potato and pickled cauliflower.

Froqntier is located at 1072 N. Milwaukee Avenue. They are open Wednesday – Thursday, 5pm –10:30pm, Friday, 5pm – 12am. Saturday brunch from 12pm – 3pm, and dinner, 4pm – 12am. Sunday, they are open 12pm – 5pm. For reservations, click here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Enjoy your day off

Relaxed African american woman reading a book at home, drinking coffee sitting on the couch

There are 3 main categories for day-off activities, and they are: relaxation, pleasure, and productivity. (Yes, you do need to be somewhat productive, even on a day off!) You can divide your day into 3 chunks, 3-4 hours each. Depending on when you get up, they will be different. Mine are 7-11am, 12-3pm, and 4-7pm. There are a few hours of slush time for overflow. Then, pick a couple of activities from each category!

Relaxing activities can be anything you would consider restful, calming or indulgent. You can sleep in late or take a nap. You can listen to soothing music or nature sounds. You could just sit by your window with a cup of tea wrapped in a comforter and people watch in your neighborhood. Do something repetitive like doodling, coloring or knitting. Nothing that taxes your brain!

Pleasure activities can sometimes overlap with relaxation activities, but are more focused on fun than rest. Just ask yourself, “What do I really want to do right now?”. Get back to a hobby you love, like playing a game, or doing a crossword or jigsaw puzzle. Binge on a new TV show or rewatch a favorite. Watch a movie but have fun dimming the lights and making popcorn. Bake some bread (it’s easier than you think).  Try a new recipe, make a three-course dinner for your bestie or just yourself. Or just curl up and read a book, fiction or self-help. Do whatever works for you!

Productive activities are things that need to be done, but there is never time in the busy workweek. Or maybe there are chores that you’ve been putting off. Make any phone calls like catching up with friends or making doctor’s appointments. Deep clean a room in your house. Declutter a closet or a kitchen cabinet. Do laundry and mend clothing that needs it. Clean out your inbox. Whatever makes you feel like you can check a box, “done!”.

Stitch together the chunks of activity for your day and you will be surprised at how much you are looking forward to it. It’s great to have a plan for the day instead of winging it. The picture of your day is a lot clearer and more certain. Isn’t that what we all need?

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago

Navigating the Real Estate Market: A Guide to Finding Your Dream Home

Mother and her little curious daughter are lying on a floor at home and using a laptop

Embarking on the journey to find your dream home can be both exciting and daunting. With a myriad of factors to consider and decisions to make, it’s essential to approach the real estate market with a clear understanding of your needs and a well-defined strategy. This comprehensive guide is designed to help you navigate the complexities of the real estate market, from understanding your financial goals and preferences to closing the deal and moving into your new home. By following these practical steps and insights, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions and ultimately find the perfect home that meets your requirements and fulfills your dreams.

Understanding Your Real Estate Needs

When it comes to finding your dream home, the first step is to understand your real estate needs. This involves assessing your budget and financial goals. Take a good look at your finances to determine how much you can comfortably afford to spend on a home. Setting a realistic budget will help narrow down your options and prevent any financial stress down the road.

Next, consider determining your must-have features and preferences in a home. Whether it’s a certain number of bedrooms, a backyard for your furry friends, or a spacious kitchen for your inner chef to shine, knowing what you prioritize in a home will make your search more targeted and efficient. Think about your lifestyle, future plans, and what will truly make you happy in your new space.

Researching the Real Estate Market

Once you have a clear picture of your needs, it’s time to dive into researching the real estate market. Start by exploring different neighborhoods and communities that align with your preferences. Consider factors like proximity to work, schools, amenities, and overall vibe to find a location that suits your lifestyle.

Tracking market trends and property prices is also crucial in understanding the dynamics of the real estate market. Keep an eye on how prices are fluctuating, the average time homes stay on the market, and any upcoming developments that could impact property values. This knowledge will empower you to make informed decisions and negotiate effectively.

Working with Real Estate Professionals

Navigating the real estate market can be overwhelming, which is where real estate professionals come in. Choosing the right real estate agent is key to finding your dream home. Look for someone with experience in your target neighborhoods, good communication skills, and a solid track record of successful transactions.

In addition to real estate agents, understanding the role of real estate lawyers and inspectors is essential. These professionals play crucial roles in ensuring a smooth and legally sound transaction. From reviewing contracts to conducting inspections, their expertise can save you from potential pitfalls and protect your interests throughout the buying process.

Financing Your Dream Home

Financing your dream home is a critical aspect of the home-buying journey. Start by getting pre-approved for a mortgage, which will give you a clear idea of how much you can borrow and what your budget looks like. Having a pre-approval in hand will also signal to sellers that you’re a serious buyer.

Explore different financing options and programs to find the best fit for your financial situation. From traditional mortgages to government-backed loans and first-time homebuyer programs, there are various avenues to explore. Compare interest rates, terms, and eligibility requirements to choose the financing option that aligns with your goals and budget.

With these steps in mind, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the real estate market and find your dream home with confidence and clarity. Happy house hunting!# 5. Visiting Properties and Making Offers

Scheduling Property Viewings and Open Houses

So, you’ve swiped right on a few properties that caught your eye online, and now it’s time to take the next step – scheduling actual face-to-brick-and-mortar meetings. This is your chance to see if the property gives off the right vibes in person. Pro tip: bring a trusty notepad or use your phone to jot down notes because, let’s be real, after seeing a few properties, they can start to blur together. Also, don’t be shy to ask questions – that’s what the real estate agent is there for!

Submitting Strong and Competitive Offers

Alright, it’s time to put on your negotiating hat and bring your A-game. Crafting a strong offer isn’t just about the numbers; it’s also about showing the seller that you’re serious about making their former home your future haven. Be mindful of the market trends and consider adding a personal touch to your offer – maybe a handwritten letter to sweeten the deal? Remember, it’s not just about the highest bid; it’s about the whole package.

Ah, the back-and-forth dance of real estate negotiations. Brace yourself for counteroffers and inspection contingencies that can make your head spin faster than an open house fan on a hot day. It’s all part of the game, so stay cool, keep communication lines open, and don’t be afraid to ask for clarity or negotiate terms that work for both parties. It’s like a real-life game of Monopoly, but with less fake money and more grown-up decisions.

When it comes to negotiation, it’s not just about getting what you want; it’s also about finding that sweet spot where both parties feel like they’ve won. Be prepared, stay flexible, and remember that compromise is key. Knowing when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em will serve you well in this real estate poker game.

Closing the Deal

The closing process is like the grand finale of a fireworks show – it’s the big moment when everything comes together in a dazzling display of paperwork, signatures, and maybe a few celebratory fist bumps. Be prepared for a flurry of documents, deadlines, and possibly a surprise or two along the way. Stay on top of things, ask questions if you’re unsure, and before you know it, you’ll be holding the keys to your new kingdom.

The closing stretch is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Make sure all your financial ducks are in a row, dot the i’s, cross the t’s, and brace yourself for the flurry of signatures that stand between you and homeownership. This is the final lap, so hang in there – the finish line is in sight!

Moving into Your Dream Home

Congratulations, you’re officially a homeowner! Now it’s time to tackle the next adventure – moving day. Whether you’re a minimalist packer or a throw-it-all-in-a-box-and-go kind of mover, having a game plan can make the transition smoother. Enlist the help of friends, family, or professional movers to make the process less stressful, and don’t forget to reward yourself with a well-deserved pizza party at the end of it all.

Pop the champagne (or sparkling cider, we don’t judge) – you’ve made it to the finish line! Take a moment to bask in the glow of your new abode, unpack at your own pace, and start making memories in your dream home. Whether it’s hanging up family photos, planting a garden, or simply lounging on the couch, embrace this new chapter with open arms and a heart full of excitement. Welcome home!As you embark on this journey to find your dream home, remember that it’s not just about the property itself, but also about the lifestyle and memories you’ll create within its walls. By following the steps outlined in this guide and working with the right professionals, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the real estate market with confidence and find a place you can truly call home. Here’s to the exciting adventure ahead and the joy of discovering your perfect sanctuary in the midst of it all.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Celebrating a Dragon!

Happy Chinese New Year 2024 dragon graphic

There’s never a dull moment to be had during a Chicago weekend no matter the weather.  In fact, this weekend has us covered with celebrating a new year, a birthday, and more!

Join in as Chicago celebrates the Chinese New Year with the following events:

First up is the annual Argyle Lunar New Year Celebration this Saturday (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) in the Uptown neighborhood.  As they welcome in the Year of the Dragon, attendees can enjoy the annual parade kicking off at 1 p.m. from Argyle Street and Winthrop Avenue featuring over 20 local community groups, cultural institutions, dancers, and performers.  Plus, pop-ups from several local organizations will have family-friendly activities, and more!

Next, we have the Lunar New Year Parade this Sunday (1 p.m.-3 p.m.) kicking off from 24th Street and Wentworth Avenue in Chinatown.  Attendees line Wentworth Avenue to see and enjoy traditional lion dancers; colorful, decorated floats; marching bands and groups; cultural performances; and more.  It’s a very colorful celebration of a dragon indeed!

Lastly, there’s the 20th annual Chinese New Year Dumpling-Making Dinner this Sunday (3 p.m.-5:30 p.m.) at Hing Kee Restaurant located at 2140 South Archer Avenue, 2nd Floor, in the Armour Square neighborhood.  It’s a fun-filled, exciting event of making dumplings with your own hands, learning the story of Chinese New Year, and discovering the dos and don’ts for this celebration.  You’ll also enjoy a sumptuous feast of a wide variety of Chinese food from classic Mongolian beef to vegetarian options while enjoying the traditional Chinese lion dance as they welcome in the Year of the Dragon!

There’s also a second annual birthday bash taking place this Saturday (6 p.m.-11 p.m.) at Artifact Events (4325 N. Ravenswood Ave.) in the Lakeview neighborhood with Best Friends Turn 11!  Begyle Brewing and craft beer shop Bottles & Cans team up to celebrate the brewery’s 11th birthday with plenty of beer, cider, wine, and cocktails as well as live rock ‘n roll music, games, and more.  In addition, local food trucks and pop-ups will be serving food for purchase!

Experience the charm of Cupid’s Vintage Fest this Saturday and Sunday (12 p.m.-6 p.m.) at the Patio Theater (6008 W. Irving Park Rd.) in the Portage Park neighborhood.  Discover unique treasures and meet fellow vintage enthusiasts as you browse through 100+ vendors offering vintage clothing, accessories, art, home goods, and more.  Plus, live DJs will be on hand providing the entertainment along with food and other vendors.  It’s a step back in time and a must visit!

If you’re in the mood for a challenging hunt, check out the Field of Screams Murder Mystery Scavenger Hunt this Saturday (2 p.m.-4:30 p.m.) at the Field Museum (1400 S. Lake Shore Dr.) in the South Loop.  This is a murder mystery scavenger hunt where you’ll have to crack a hieroglyphic code, question a suspect, and uncover the museum’s secrets to stop the killings while enjoying a tour of the best of the Field Museum!  Advance purchase is required.

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Neighborhood News: Uptown-Where “Chicago’s rich history and international diversity intersect”

The Green Mill cocktail lounge and jazz club with neon signage

Just six miles from downtown Chicago is an eclectic haven for social activists and advocates, immigrants and refugees, and artists. Every culture is represented, and as Explore Uptown describes it, “a microcosm of Chicago itself—a neighborhood of big shoulders and rich contrasts.”

Welcome to Uptown!

Demographics 

Uptown’s boundaries, as reported by Wikipedia sources, are Foster Avenue to the north; Lake Michigan to the east; Montrose Avenue (Ravenswood Avenue to Clark Street), and Irving Park Road (Clark Street to Lake Michigan) to the south; Ravenswood Avenue (Foster Avenue to Montrose Avenue), and Clark Street (Montrose Avenue to Irving Park Road) to the west.

History

Settled in the 1830s, Uptown has a colorful history as a hotspot for arts and entertainment. Its growth as an entertainment and shopping mecca coincided with the extensions of Chicago’s elevated train system and Lake Shore Drive (now DuSable Lake Shore Drive).

To compete with the Loop and Woodlawn, the Central Uptown Chicago Association promoted the area’s shopping and recreational opportunities with images of New York City; the main thoroughfare became “Broadway” and the area, “Uptown,” according to the Encyclopedia of Chicago History

Uptown was a booming nightlife district in the 1920s and 1930s, with a thriving jazz scene that took off during Prohibition. The area’s modern renaissance has seen a number of its old-school movie houses and Art Deco buildings restored to their former glory, according to Choose Chicago.

The Encyclopedia also discussed Loren Miller’s department store (later Goldblatt’s), which anchored the shopping district. Additionally, Uptown revelers visited the Aragon Ballroom (1926), the Riviera Theater (1919), the Uptown Theater (1925), and the Marine Room of the tony Edgewater Beach Hotel (1916). Thousands of worshipers flocked to the People’s Church and tuned their radios to hear the sermons of Unitarian minister Preston Bradley. For a decade (1907–1917), Essanay Studios made Uptown the heart of the American film industry. Luxury apartment buildings and hotels appeared along Winthrop and Kenmore Avenues

Even today, no trip to Uptown is  complete without a visit to The Green Mill on Broadway. The former speakeasy and favorite hotspot of Al Caponeis still going strong. The 100-year-old jazz club still has has the same sultry feel of its Prohibition heyday. His favorite seat was  the booth at the end of the bar. It’s still there!

 Asia on Argyle

The blocks around the Argyle “L” station are a distinct district within Uptown brimming with character and history, according to the Uptown Chamber of Commerce. Once a Jewish community, Chinese entrepreneurs in the 1970s, as well as refugees from Vietnam and Cambodia following the 1975 Fall of Saigon, transformed the area by opening restaurants, bakeries, pharmacies, and social service agencies.

Today, Asian-American entrepreneurs continue to be drawn here, with a spate of recent eateries and cafes that opened around the Argyle “L” station.

As Choose Chicago tells it, on Argyle Street and the surrounding blocks, you’ll find a treasure trove of Asian eateries, with restaurants serving up sushi, dim sum, banh mi, pho, and more. One local favorite is James Beard Award-winningSun Wah BBQ, where the Beijing duck dinner is an off-menu hit. Other can’t-miss spots include traditional Vietnamese dishes at Pho Viet and flavorful Thai in a cozy atmosphere at Immm Rice & Beyond.

Celebrate the Lunar New Year!

 This Saturday, February 17, celebrate theYear of the Dragon as Uptown Chicago hosts the Lunar New Year Parade. Kick-off is at 1:00pm sharp at Argyle & Winthrop, and features 20+ local community groups, cultural institutions, dancers and performers.

In addition, a number of local organizations are planning pop-ups with family-friendly activities between 10:00am-4:00pm.  

For more information about Uptown, its storied history, and upcoming events, click here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Restaurant Review: Showing love for Roscoe Village’s Lucy’s Café

Valentine's Day, festive table setting with hearts

Happy Valentine’s Day, 💘 with love, from Dean’s Team Chicago! 

Today, we’re showing love to our Roscoe Village friends by showcasing Lucy’s Café.

The intimate, family-owned storefront serves made-to-order American-style breakfasts, brunches, and lunches. French toasts, pancakes, waffles, burgers, wraps, omelets, scrambles, salads, soups, chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, and eggs Benedict.

Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options are available. And they are kind enough to let everyone know what their kitchen is capable of within each menu item.

For something different, try their Street Corn Style Avocado Toast, served with fried potatoes. Crushed avocado is paired with jalapeños, sautéed corn, feta, and  cilantro for a spicy start to the day. French Toast Flight is one piece of each of their peerless raspberry, original, honey-pecan and blueberry French toast, sprinkled with powdered sugar. California Eggs Benedict has two grilled halves of an English muffin, each with tomato, avocado, and a poached egg, topped with Hollandaise sauce and fresh chive, and served with fried potatoes or side salad. Eggs in a Basket has a thick slice of multigrain bread, with two eggs, grilled and topped with homemade pesto, sun-dried tomato, and feta cheese, and served with fried potatoes or side salad.

Lunch options include a new Baja Chicken Salad,  with grilled veggie chicken, black bean and corn salsa, avocado, feta, corn tortillas, over a bed of mixed spring greens and cilantro. Salsa verde dressing comes on the side. Or, try the Quinoa Salad, with chopped walnuts, feta, fresh grapes, avocado, red onions, quinoa, brown rice, over a bed of mixed spring greens. Lemon basil dressing is also served on the side. Peasants Lunch is a bowl of soup and two pieces of grilled multigrain bread, each topped with homemade pesto and goat cheese. Waffle Pizza is a savory Belgian waffle topped with sautéed mushrooms, jalapeños, sausage, and onions, and melted pepper jack cheese. 

Still have meat cravings? Lucy’s Café is there for you, too. Bacon Cheeseburger, with your choice of patty (homemade, Impossible, veggie chicken) topped with grilled red onion, cheddar cheese and veggie bacon, comes with mixed greens, tomato, pickle spear and tamari-mayo spread, and served with fried potatoes or side salad. (Impossible or chicken patty add $3.00). 

Vegetarians are well-represented. Try their Coconut-Peanut Wrap, a mix of tofu, broccoli, red pepper, mushroom, onion, and zucchini, simmered in a coconut-peanut sauce with brown rice inside a warm flour tortilla, and served with fried potatoes or side salad.  The Eggless Wonder is marinated tofu sautéed with broccoli, onion, tomato, mushroom, zucchini, potato, and brown rice, and topped with goat cheese, and served with multigrain bread. 

But don’t just take my word for it! Google reviews were similarly pleased.

 “Cute little cafe, perfect for a brunch date,” one said. “I had the waffle pizza and it was delicious!! Served with the cutest little glass syrup bottle, and the perfect blend of sweet and savory.”

“Very cute place. Loved that they had vegan French toast and pancakes as that can be v hard to find. Service was great and quick and lovely artwork. Only wish they had alcoholic beverages and espresso drinks as we were craving those.”

Lucy’s Café is located at 2100 W. Roscoe Street. They are open Wednesday-Friday, 10am-2pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 9am – 3pm. They are closed Monday and Tuesday  Seating is first-come, first-served. Call 773-665-0227 for information. 

Here’s to love…and Lucy’s Café!💕

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Fighting the Sunday Scaries

Graphic of a happy businessman jumping while holding sunday sign

This may seem counterintuitive, but did you know you can use Sundays to meet goals while still keeping it for rest? Many successful people do it! You can both embrace Sundays for the family, faith and fun, while tapping into the potential for efficiency. Here’s how:

Quick prep for the week. Convert some of that Sunday energy to prepare for the week ahead. That could be setting a few alarms, writing down a short to-do list, or giving yourself a five-minute pep talk to view the week as filled with promise. The best part is, at most you only need 10% of your Sunday funday to do it!

Pulse check your devices. We all agree that pulling the plug on Sunday is a good thing, but waking up to 100+ emails on Monday morning is no way to start the week! Instead, why not take a half hour in the morning or afternoon to check your emails, clear out your inbox and get ready for Monday? You can even set a timer to make sure you stick to the time limit.

Mentally prioritize. Despite our best laid plans the week seldom works out like we wish. So, another counterintuitive exercise is to imagine the week in total chaos. (Crazy, I know!) By imagining the week totally disorganized, you can not only prepare your mind for it but see and prioritize your most important tasks.

Face the Sunday Scaries. Sundays are not just for relaxation, they can be a time for reflection too. Take stock. How did the past week go? What is it about the coming week that is giving me anxiety? Directly attack that sinking feeling head on. Work through why you are feeling this way and how you can be prepared to make the week ahead productive.

Focus on gratitude. Sundays tend to be passive. An intentional, focused appreciation for everything you have can be a great motivator for Monday morning with all its challenges.

Yes, Sunday is a day of rest, but you can use it to set the tone for the rest of your week. Let’s do our best to set ourselves up for productivity and success!

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago

Building a Strong Financial Foundation: Maximizing Home Equity

Businessman presses a calculator on a desk with notebooks

Welcome to the comprehensive guide on building a strong financial foundation by maximizing home equity. In this article, we will delve into the concept of home equity and explore various strategies to make the most of it. Home equity is a valuable asset that represents the difference between your property’s market value and the outstanding balance on your mortgage. By understanding how home equity works and leveraging it wisely, you can unlock a range of financial opportunities that can help you achieve your goals. So, let’s dive in and explore the world of home equity.

Understanding Home Equity: An Introduction

What is Home Equity?

Home equity is like that extra cash you find in your coat pocket—it’s the value you’ve built up in your home over time. Put simply, it’s the difference between your home’s market value and the amount you still owe on your mortgage.

How is Home Equity Calculated?

Calculating home equity is as easy as pie—just subtract your outstanding mortgage balance from your home’s current market value. For example, if your home is worth $300,000 and you still owe $200,000 on your mortgage, your home equity would be $100,000.

The Difference Between Market Value and Home Equity

Market value is what your home would sell for on the open market, while home equity represents the portion of the home you actually own—think of it as your own personal stake in the property. As you pay down your mortgage and your home’s value appreciates, your equity grows.

The Benefits of Building Home Equity

Increased Net Worth

Building home equity is like watching your piggy bank grow. As your equity increases, so does your net worth. It’s like getting a raise without having to fill out any paperwork.

Access to Low-Interest Financing Options

When you have a solid amount of home equity, you can tap into it for low-interest financing options. This can be particularly helpful for big-ticket expenses like home renovations or funding your kids’ college education.

Potential for Profit with Real Estate Appreciation

Real estate can be a savvy investment. As your home’s value increases over time, so does your equity. If you decide to sell, you might just walk away with a tasty profit. Remember, though, that housing markets can be unpredictable, so don’t count those chickens before they hatch.

Strategies for Maximizing Home Equity

Making Extra Mortgage Payments

Throwing a little extra money at your mortgage each month can shave years off your loan term and help you build equity faster. It’s like getting a head start in the race to home ownership.

Home Improvement Projects

Upgrading your home not only makes it a more enjoyable place to live but can also boost its value. Whether it’s a kitchen remodel or adding a fresh coat of paint, these improvements can increase your equity.

Renting out a Portion of Your Property

If you have some extra space, why not put it to good use? Renting out a portion of your property, like a basement or spare room, can generate extra income that can be used to pay down your mortgage or invest in other wealth-building opportunities.

Leveraging Home Equity for Financial Opportunities

Home Equity Loans

A home equity loan is a way to borrow against the equity you’ve built up in your home. It’s like tapping into your home’s savings account. These loans typically have fixed interest rates and are useful for financing larger expenses, like home renovations or debt consolidation.

Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC)

A HELOC is like having a credit card with your home as collateral. You can borrow against your home equity as needed and only pay interest on the amount you’ve borrowed. It’s a flexible option for managing ongoing expenses or unexpected costs.

Cash-Out Refinancing

With cash-out refinancing, you’ll replace your existing mortgage with a new one for a higher amount than you currently owe. The difference between the two amounts is given to you in cash, which you can use for anything you’d like. Just be careful not to overextend yourself and end up owing more than your home is worth.

Remember, building home equity takes time, patience, and responsible financial management. But by maximizing your home equity, you can lay a solid foundation for your financial future and unlock a world of possibilities. Now go forth and build that equity empire!

Factors to Consider Before Tapping into Home Equity

Assessing Your Financial Goals

Before dipping into your home equity, it’s crucial to assess your financial goals. Are you looking to pay off high-interest debts, fund a major expense, or invest in a new business venture? Understanding your objectives will help you determine if tapping into your home equity is the right move for you.

Evaluating the Risks and Potential Consequences

While accessing your home equity can provide much-needed funds, it’s essential to evaluate the risks and potential consequences. Consider factors such as interest rates, repayment terms, and the possibility of a housing market downturn. Be realistic about your ability to repay the borrowed amount and weigh the potential impact on your financial stability.

Understanding the Tax Implications

One often overlooked aspect of tapping into home equity is the tax implications. Depending on your jurisdiction, there may be tax benefits or consequences associated with using your home equity. Consult with a tax professional to understand the specific tax implications in your situation before proceeding.

Protecting and Growing Your Home Equity

Maintaining and Improving Your Property

To safeguard and enhance your home equity, it’s important to maintain and improve your property. Regular maintenance and upgrades not only make your home more enjoyable but also increase its value over time. By taking care of your property, you’ll be protecting your investment and maximizing your home equity.

Regularly Reviewing and Adjusting Your Mortgage

Monitoring your mortgage is another key aspect of protecting your home equity. Keep an eye on interest rates and market conditions, and consider refinancing if it makes financial sense. Reviewing your mortgage regularly allows you to optimize your repayment terms and potentially save money in the long run.

Diversifying Your Investment Portfolio

While home equity is an asset, it’s important not to put all your eggs in one basket. Diversifying your investment portfolio can help mitigate risk and provide alternative avenues for growing your wealth. Consider exploring other investment opportunities such as stocks, bonds, or real estate to ensure your financial foundation is strong and well-rounded.

Common Mistakes to Avoid when Managing Home Equity

Overborrowing and Overleveraging

One common mistake homeowners make is overborrowing and overleveraging their home equity. It’s crucial to borrow only what you can comfortably repay and avoid stretching yourself too thin financially. Taking on excessive debt can jeopardize your financial stability and put your property at risk.

Neglecting Regular Property Maintenance

Failing to maintain your property can have a detrimental effect on your home equity. Neglected repairs and deferred maintenance can lead to a decrease in your home’s value. Stay on top of routine maintenance tasks and address any issues promptly to protect the integrity and value of your property.

Failing to Monitor Market Conditions

Market conditions can significantly impact your home equity. Failing to stay informed about changes in the housing market can leave you vulnerable to unexpected drops in property values. Keep an eye on real estate trends and seek professional advice when necessary to make informed decisions regarding your home equity.

The Future of Home Equity: Trends and Predictions

Emerging Technologies and Home Equity

As technology continues to advance, we can expect to see innovative ways to tap into and manage home equity. From digital platforms facilitating home equity loans to smart home devices that enhance property value, emerging technologies are likely to shape the future of home equity.

Shifting Demographics and Homeownership

Demographic shifts, such as changing population dynamics and evolving preferences, can impact homeownership and home equity trends. Factors like urbanization, aging population, and shifting household structures may influence the demand for housing and subsequently impact home equity values. Staying informed about changing demographics can provide valuable insights for managing and maximizing your home equity in the future.

Building a strong financial foundation through maximizing home equity is a smart and strategic approach to managing your wealth. By understanding the concept of home equity, exploring effective strategies, and avoiding common pitfalls, you can position yourself for long-term financial success. Remember to regularly assess your goals, monitor market conditions, and protect your property investment. Whether you choose to tap into your home equity or let it grow, make informed decisions that align with your financial objectives. With careful planning and wise utilization of home equity, you can pave the way towards a brighter financial future.