7 Strategies to Maximize Productivity

top view of a white desk with laptop and supplies

In today’s fast-paced and competitive world, the key to achieving success lies in understanding and harnessing your full potential. By optimizing your productivity, you can accomplish more in less time, reach your goals efficiently, and ultimately unlock new opportunities for growth and advancement. This article explores a range of effective strategies to boost productivity, from setting clear goals and managing time wisely to cultivating a growth mindset and leveraging tools and technology. By implementing these practices and creating a supportive environment for success, you can unleash your full potential and propel yourself towards greater achievements.

1. Understanding Potential and Productivity

The Relationship Between Potential and Productivity

Potential is like a hidden gem waiting to be discovered, and productivity is the vehicle that helps you unearth it. When you tap into your full potential, productivity becomes the fuel that propels you towards success.

Identifying Your Strengths and Areas for Growth

Take a moment to reflect on what you excel at and areas where you could improve. Knowing your strengths allows you to leverage them for maximum productivity, while acknowledging areas for growth empowers you to seek opportunities for development.

2. Setting Clear Goals and Priorities

Defining Specific, Measurable Goals

Setting vague goals is like navigating without a compass – you might end up going in circles. Define clear, measurable objectives that act as guideposts, directing your efforts towards tangible results.

Prioritizing Tasks Based on Importance and Urgency

Not all tasks are created equal. Determine which tasks are crucial for achieving your goals and prioritize them accordingly. By focusing on what matters most, you can make significant strides in your productivity.

3. Developing Effective Time Management Techniques

Creating a Daily Schedule and To-Do List

A well-organized schedule and to-do list are like a roadmap for your day. By mapping out your tasks and allocating time blocks for each, you can ensure that your day unfolds smoothly, maximizing productivity.

Implementing the Pomodoro Technique for Focus and Breaks

The Pomodoro Technique is a productivity hack that capitalizes on focused work intervals (Pomodoros) followed by short breaks. By dividing your tasks into manageable, focused bursts, you can maintain high productivity levels without burning out.

4. Cultivating a Growth Mindset for Success

Embracing Challenges and Learning Opportunities

Challenges are not roadblocks but stepping stones to growth. Embrace challenges as opportunities to learn, adapt, and expand your skills. By adopting a growth mindset, you can transform setbacks into catalysts for success.

Fostering Resilience and Persistence in the Face of Setbacks

Resilience is the secret sauce that keeps you going when the going gets tough. Cultivate a resilient attitude that views setbacks as temporary hurdles rather than insurmountable obstacles. With persistence and determination, you can weather any storm and emerge stronger than before.

5. Leveraging Tools and Technology for Efficiency

Exploring Productivity Apps and Software Solutions

In a world where there’s an app for almost everything, why not use technology to supercharge your productivity? From task management apps to time tracking tools, there’s a plethora of options to help you stay organized and focused.

Automating Repetitive Tasks to Save Time

Who has time for mundane tasks that can easily be automated? Whether it’s setting up email filters, scheduling social media posts, or using software to streamline workflows, embracing automation can free up valuable time for more important tasks.

6. Establishing Healthy Habits for Sustainable Productivity

Prioritizing Self-Care and Well-Being

Burnout is so last season. Taking care of yourself is essential for maintaining peak productivity. Make time for activities that recharge your batteries, whether it’s reading a book, going for a walk, or indulging in a guilty pleasure TV show.

Incorporating Regular Exercise and Mindfulness Practices

Move that body and clear that mind! Regular exercise not only boosts your physical health but also sharpens your mental focus. Plus, incorporating mindfulness practices like meditation can help reduce stress and enhance your overall well-being.

7. Building a Supportive Environment for Optimal Performance

Cultivating a Positive and Collaborative Work Culture

Surround yourself with positivity and watch your productivity soar. Foster a work environment where collaboration is encouraged, ideas are shared freely, and support is readily available. A positive workplace culture can work wonders for motivation and efficiency.

Seeking Mentorship and Networking Opportunities

No one succeeds alone. Seek out mentorship from those who have walked the path before you and tap into networking opportunities that can expand your horizons. Learning from others and building a strong support network can provide invaluable guidance and inspiration on your productivity journey.In conclusion, by adopting these proven strategies and incorporating them into your daily routine, you can empower yourself to unleash your full potential and maximize productivity. Remember, progress takes time and effort, but with dedication and consistency, you can make significant strides towards achieving your goals and realizing your true capabilities. Embrace the journey of self-improvement, stay focused on your objectives, and continue to strive for excellence in all that you do. Here’s to unlocking your potential and reaching new heights of productivity and success.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Wishing Dads a Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father Day design for greeting card graphic with hearts

This weekend is a special one as we celebrate our dads to wish them a Happy Father’s Day this Sunday!  As usual, there are a wide variety of events taking place sure to please all dads.

The 9th annual Craft Brews at Lincoln Park Zoo invite you to sample over 100 craft beers and ciders this Saturday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.  A ticket includes after-hours access to the gardens and animal habitats, twenty 3-ounce tastings, a souvenir glass, an opportunity to chat with the representatives from 40+ breweries, live music, food for purchase from a variety of food trucks, and yard games to play on the lawn.  Enjoy a night of pure fun with your dad savoring the flavors!

Celebrating 24 years this weekend from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m., Ribfest Chicago offers over 50,000 pounds of ribs and barbecue across the streets of Lincoln Avenue, Damen Avenue, and Irving Park Road in the North Center neighborhood.  This annual celebration brings together more than 20 vendors, lounges where you can sit down to eat, live music featuring top local and national acts, and the popular Kids’ Area featuring carnival games, activity booths, bounce houses, and more for children of all ages.  Plus, new this year is a whiskey tasting offering a sample of 16 local and international spirits.  It’s sure to be a memorable weekend of unforgettable barbecue!

Celebrating its 26th anniversary, Taste of Randolph takes place on the same street occupied by some of Chicago’s best-known restaurants this weekend from 12 p.m.-10 p.m. on Randolph Street between Peoria Street and Racine Avenue in the West Loop.  This fest offers six blocks of food from over 16 restaurants, drinks, and two stages of the nation’s hottest up-and-coming bands and musicians along with the biggest names in Chicago house music.  Embark on this culinary adventure of the summer with dad!

Grant Park’s Butler Field (100 S. Lake Shore Dr.) in The Loop is hosting one of the biggest art fairs of the summer, the 66th annual Gold Coast Art Fair this weekend from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.  This art fair features thousands of art pieces from 250 juried artists; three stages of live music; tasty treats and snacks, beer, wine, and sangria at 3 festival oases; live painting classes to create your own masterpiece; and the Kids Art Zone offering art projects, sand sculpture, art fest bingo, and more.  It’s known as the Granddaddy of American Art Festivals!

Returning for its annual celebration of Chicago’s soul music legends, traditions, and comedy is Chi-Soul Fest this Saturday (1 p.m.-11 p.m.) and Sunday (2 p.m.-8 p.m.) at Navy Pier’s Polk Bros. Park, Beer Garden, and Wave Wall Stage located at 600 E. Grand Avenue in the Streeterville neighborhood.  This free music fest includes the best established and rising local artists that embrace classic and contemporary interpretations of soul music.  Bring dad along to come out and jam with you!

If you still haven’t made plans for your dad, here’s a guide to Father’s Day in Chicago that may help!

Happy Father’s Day!  You too deserve nothing but the BEST!!

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Neighborhood News: Past Lake Michigan, Chicago’s Bike Trails offer summer adventures and fun

professional road cyclist on a training ride

With summer’s official entrance less than a week away, the great outdoors beckons! And what better way to experience Chicago’s unique neighborhoods than perched on a two-wheeler, the wind at your back?  Chicago’s Bike Trailswelcome you! 

While most people know the Lakefront Trail, there’s another trail you need to know. Along the way, you’ll see great artwork, Chicago’s landmark museums, and historic structures!

The 606 and The Bloomingdale Trail 

Among the best known of the city trails are ‘The 606,’ aka, the Bloomingdale Trail. As their website indicates, the trail known as ‘The 606’ runs along the Bloomingdale Trail (1800N) for 2.7 miles between Ashland (1600W) and Ridgeway (3750W). Walking, cycling or taking public transportation is encouraged. There are 12 access points, approximately every quarter-mile, with a total of 17 access ramps, all of which are accessible to people with disabilities.

The Bloomingdale Trail Is the elevated, multi-use linear park made out of the unused Bloomingdale railroad embankment. The Bloomingdale Trail runs through four Chicago neighborhoods, from Logan Square and Humboldt Park to the west, through Bucktown and Wicker Park to the east.

History Of the Bloomingdale Trail and The 606

The story of The Bloomingdale Trail (and the 606)begins just after the Great Chicago Fire, as their website indicates. As their story goes, the Chicago City Council gave permission for the Chicago & Pacific Railroad to lay tracks down the middle of Bloomingdale Ave. (1800 N) on Chicago’s Northwest side. The move helped connect goods from outlying rail ports to the busy Chicago River, and supported Chicago’s burgeoning industrial growth.

Following the Fire, Chicago’s population boomed, and dangerous conflicts between residents and rail abounded — with rail often the victor. Between the 1870s and 1890s, thousands were injured or killed each year due to treacherous rail crossings at grade (ground level). In response, elevating the city’s rail lines became a political hot button and a critical issue for social reformers.

In 1893, the City Council passed an ordinance mandating that railroads elevate their tracks within six years. The Bloomingdale Line, now operated by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad Company, was one of the last to conform to the new ordinance, beginning work in 1910 and completing in 1913. 

Trains rolled overhead until the 1980s, when activity slowed to a trickle. By the mid-1990s, the few trains that used the corridor were re-routed, and freight service ceased almost completely. The final freight train passed through in 2001. 

It was only a matter of time before the communities along the line rediscovered the space.  Official plans for converting the Bloomingdale Line into a public space date back to the late 1990s, when it was included in the City’s Bike Plan. In 2003, inspired by neighbors making their own unofficial trail, the Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail (FBT) came together.

Around the same time the City’s Department of Planning and Development held a series of public meetings to determine how to bring new open space to the City’s underserved Northwest side, ultimately recommending an elevated park on the Bloomingdale embankment. This would become the Logan Square Open Space Plan, which was adopted by the Chicago Plan Commission in 2004. FBT also participated in the New Communities Program, which created Quality of Life Plans for Logan Square and Humboldt Park, both plans supported the construction of a new greenway on the old rail line. In 2006 the Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail reached out to the national nonprofit, The Trust for Public Land, which helped bring together a coalition of city and civic organizations to move the project forward.

Ultimately, according to the website, the Bloomingdale Trail’s transformation from freight rail to multi-use path would become a reality due to a confluence of decades of community organizing and city planning. “From industrial beacon to impromptu nature trail, to innovative public space and alternative transportation corridor for the next generation, the Bloomingdale Line turned Bloomingdale Trail has been the site of innovation since its inception,” according to its website. 


As Choose Chicago notes, in addition to special events and programs throughout the year — from community bonfires and workouts to public art openings and astronomy nights, the 606 and Bloomingdale Trail are home to several checkpoints, including:

Exelon Observatory, the  “perfect spot for spectacular sunset views over the city. The observatory also hosts regular astronomy nights at The 606. The Observatory is located at 1801 N. Ridgeway Avenue, Logan Square.”

Damen Arts Plaza: Located at Damen and Bloomingdale in Bucktown, you can find rotating public art exhibits, creating one of the city’s most unique urban art spaces. 

Julia de Burgos Park, at1801 N. Albany Avenue in Humboldt Park, features a climbing web, spider sculpture, and a long sitting wall decorated with nature themes, led by the Chicago Public Art Group. The park is one of many access points to The 606. 

There’s so much more to the trails. Enjoy your summer! For more information, click here

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago 

Restaurant Review: Hot, spicy summer nights and a cool Father’s Day celebration at West Loop’s Carnivale

friends at sunday lunch

With Father’s Day coming up this Sunday, June 16, and hot summer nights ahead, a cool tropical drink and Latin fusion cooking might be just the ticket to summer fun!

There’s no better place in the West Loop than the Latin fusion cuisine, festive atmosphere and tropical décor of Carnivale, 702 W. Fulton Market.

Inspired, as they say on their website, by the cuisine and culture of Mexico, South America, and Central America, owner and longtime Chicago politician William Marovitz fashioned Carnivale with a lush, colorful interior, original artwork. The Carnivale experience makes every meal a celebration.

Start with APERITIVOS like their Carnivale Guacamole,  with avocados, cilantro, chilies, onions, garlic, and lime, served with organic blue corn tortilla chips. Ropa Vieja is made with braised beef, pickled onions, the alliterative Aji Amarillo Aioli, queso fresco, and sweet plantains. Luz’s Empanada packs roasted corn, manchego cheese, roasted poblano créme, nestled in closed Loop Farms greens. Octopus a la Planxa has roasted potatoes, piquillo peppers, Iberico chorizo, pickled ramps, and green garlic Mojo sauce.

What’s a Latin fusion restaurant without ceviche?Carnivale has four kinds, including King Crab with pomelo, jicama, radish, red onion, Aji Amarillo, and closed Loop micro cilantro. Shrimp Ceviche has avocado, cilantro, red onions, rooftop garden peppers, charred tomato salsa, and lime juice, and Blue Crab comes with avocado, cucumber, red onion, cilantro, tomato, watermelon radish, and preserved lemon aioli.

DE LAS BRASAS (chargrilled) options include Gaucho Steak,  an 18-ounce, 45-day dry-aged ribeye, served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes,l and chimichurri.  Brazilian Picanha* is a Brazilian-style, 12-ounce prime top sirloin, served with Caribbean plantain fufu, roasted carrots, pickled eggplant, and Molho Lambao (Brazilian chile and tomato salsa). 

PAELLAS includes a succulent Lobster Paella, a full pound of lemon-butter poached Maine lobster, Spanish bilbao chorizo, roasted chicken, crab claws, peas, and tomato sofrito in  saffron broth. Seafood Paella has saffron Bomba rice, shrimp, mussels, scallops, clams, octopus, and tomato sofrito. Vegan Paella has Forbidden Rice, asparagus, snap and spring peas, spinach, roasted tomatoes, Padron peppers, trumpet mushrooms, and sofrito, with garlic chips in a saffron-vegetable broth.

Celebrate Dad this Sunday 

Carnivale is hosting a Father’s Day Celebration on Sunday, June 16th from 1pm-5pm with special cocktails, photo-ops, and goodies for Dad. For reservations, click here.

But don’t just take my word for it. Google reviewers were ecstatic: 

*My husband and I have been here a few times,” said one. “But we wanted to bring our 2 daughters for the brunch experience. They absolutely loved it and really enjoyed themselves. The staff was awesome and my girls danced with the two Samba dancers!”

“I really enjoy this place. It serves amazing variety of food and drinks,” another said. “My favorite is the steak with bone marrow on the side. All their appetizers and side dishes are excellent as well. The vibe and atmosphere makes you feel like you’re literally in a carnival. I was able to enjoy one of the shows they had and it was a blast.”

Carnivale is open Tuesday-Thursday from 5pm–9pm, Friday from 5pm–9:30pm, Saturday from 4pm–9:30pm, andSunday, from 1pm–8:30pm. They are closed on Monday. Reservations are recommended. For reservations, click here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Summer food safety

top view of a cooler filled with various foods

As we move into the summer months, people will be eating and grilling outside. Now is a good time to think about how to keep all that delicious food safe to eat. The bacteria that cause foodborne illness thrive in summertime and multiply quickly in warm temperatures. You might already be familiar with most of these tips, but it’s always good to refresh. Here are some of the safe ways to handle food outside:

Wash your hands. This is number one of course! We all became better hand washers during COVID, and it remains a good first rule. Wash in running water with soap and lather for 20 seconds, rinse and dry. No running water? Use wipes or hand sanitizer that have at least 60% alcohol.

Store perishable foods safely. Use coolers or insulated containers with cold sources. This can be ice or frozen gel packs. You can also freeze bottles of water or iced tea to use as your cold source. Keep coolers out of the sun and be mindful of how often you open them! Full coolers keep perishables cold and safe longer. You can use insulated bags if you don’t have a full cooler. 

Keep cold and hot foods at the right temperatures. This is the range between 40 and 140 degrees. Cold foods under 40 and hot foods at least 140. Cold foods of course should be in coolers and hot foods on the grill, chafing dish, warming tray or in the slow cooker. Bring along an instant read thermometer to make sure your food stays outside of the “Danger Zone”.

Follow the two-hour rule. Foods that are kept at the right temperature or don’t sit out for more than 2 hours are safe to keep. Other foods should be considered unsafe and disposed of. It’s not worth it to save a little bit of food that could make you or your family sick. Remember the golden rule: When in doubt, throw it out!

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago

Creating Your Dream Bathroom: The Essential Renovation Guide

stylish vessel sink on light countertop in modern bathroom

Embarking on a bathroom renovation project is an exciting journey towards creating your dream bathroom space that perfectly suits your needs and reflects your personal style. From evaluating your current layout to selecting the right fixtures and materials, this essential guide will walk you through the key steps to achieve a bathroom transformation that exceeds your expectations. By setting a realistic budget, finding design inspiration, and incorporating smart technology, you can elevate both the functionality and aesthetics of your bathroom. Whether you’re aiming to maximize space efficiency, enhance energy efficiency, or simply add personalized touches, this comprehensive guide will provide you with the insights and tips needed to navigate the renovation process with confidence and creativity.

Assessing Your Needs and Goals

Evaluating Current Bathroom Layout

Before diving into a bathroom renovation, take a good look at your current bathroom layout. What works, what doesn’t? Are you making the most of the available space? Consider what changes would make your daily bathroom routine more efficient and enjoyable.

Identifying Must-Have Features and Improvements

Make a wishlist of must-have features and improvements for your dream bathroom. Whether it’s a spacious double vanity, a luxurious soaking tub, or a rainfall shower head, prioritize what will truly enhance your bathroom experience.

Setting a Realistic Budget

Researching Average Costs for Bathroom Renovations

Do some research to understand the average costs associated with bathroom renovations in your area. This will give you a ballpark figure to work with when setting your budget. Remember to account for unexpected expenses that may arise during the renovation process.

Allocating Budget for Fixtures, Materials, and Labor

Divide your budget wisely among fixtures, materials, and labor costs. Allocate more funds to key elements like quality tiles, a reliable contractor, and durable fixtures that will stand the test of time. Don’t forget to leave room for any design upgrades or unforeseen expenses.

Design Inspiration and Style Selection

Browsing Design Magazines and Websites

Get inspired by browsing design magazines and websites for ideas that resonate with your personal style. Whether you prefer a sleek modern look or a cozy farmhouse feel, gather images and concepts that speak to you.

Creating a Mood Board for Visual Inspiration

Compile your favorite design elements into a mood board for visual inspiration. This can include color palettes, textures, fixtures, and layouts that capture the essence of your dream bathroom. A mood board will help you stay focused and ensure a cohesive design aesthetic.

Choosing the Right Fixtures and Materials

Selecting Durable and Water-Resistant Materials

Opt for durable and water-resistant materials that can withstand the humid environment of a bathroom. Consider materials like porcelain tiles, quartz countertops, and waterproof paint to ensure longevity and easy maintenance in your renovated space.

Comparing Different Fixture Options for Functionality and Style

When selecting fixtures, balance functionality with style. Choose fixtures that not only look great but also meet your practical needs. Compare options for faucets, lighting, and accessories to create a cohesive look that enhances the overall design of your dream bathroom.

Hiring Contractors and Managing the Renovation Process

So, you’ve decided to turn your bathroom into a sanctuary of relaxation and luxury – good choice! Now comes the fun part: hiring contractors to bring your vision to life. Remember, this is your dream bathroom, not a horror story waiting to happen. Research potential contractors like you’re a detective solving a case – check reviews, ask for recommendations, and interview them like you’re hosting your version of “The Bachelor.” Once you’ve found “the one,” establish a timeline and communication plan. Clear communication is key, so make sure you and your contractor are speaking the same language – preferably one that doesn’t involve confusing renovation jargon.

Maximizing Space and Functionality

Unless you’re living your best life in a mansion, chances are your bathroom space could use some strategic thinking. For small bathrooms, think of space-saving solutions as your new best friend – like that friend who always knows how to fit everything in a suitcase for a weekend trip. Explore options like wall-mounted storage, clever shelving, and multi-functional fixtures. And don’t forget to optimize your layout like you’re playing a game of bathroom Tetris – arrange everything for maximum efficiency and use of space. Who says small bathrooms can’t pack a punch?

Incorporating Smart Technology and Energy Efficiency

We live in a world where even our toothbrushes are smart, so why not make your bathroom the Einstein of rooms? Integrate smart features like voice-activated lighting, temperature-controlled showers, and music systems that know your playlist better than you do. Not only will these upgrades bring convenience and comfort to your daily routine, but they’ll also make your bathroom the envy of all other rooms in the house. And while you’re at it, choose energy-efficient fixtures and appliances to save the planet while you soak in style. It’s a win-win for you and Mother Earth.

Adding Personal Touches and Finalizing Details

Now that you’ve nailed the practical aspects, it’s time to sprinkle some personality into your dream bathroom. Customize finishes and accessories to reflect your style – whether you’re all about the sleek modern look or channeling your inner bohemian goddess. Think of this as the cherry on top of your renovation sundae. Finally, review the renovation for quality and coherence – because nobody wants a bathroom that’s giving off mixed signals. Make sure everything ties together like a perfectly orchestrated symphony, not a chaotic drum circle. Your dream bathroom is within reach – now go forth and soak in the fruits of your renovation labor!

Closing Thoughts

As you wrap up your bathroom renovation journey, remember that creating your dream bathroom is not just about the physical transformation of the space, but also about the joy and satisfaction it brings to your daily routine. By incorporating your personal style, optimizing functionality, and infusing your unique preferences, you have the opportunity to craft a sanctuary that truly reflects your personality and enhances your quality of life. With careful planning, attention to detail, and a dash of creativity, your dream bathroom can become a reality that you can enjoy for years to come.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Second Round of Summer Festivals & Fairs!

jazz and blues music festival icon with guitar and stars

Hopefully, this weekend will be drier and sunnier than last weekend so we can get out and have some fun at our second round of summer street festivals and art fairs being offered by the city and some of its neighborhoods!

Headlining this weekend is the Chicago Blues Festival this Saturday and Sunday in Millennium Park (enter at Michigan Ave. and Washington St.) in The Loop.  Three stages across Millennium Park will feature over 35 performances and more than 250 artists celebrating Chicago’s Blues legacy which includes a Sunday evening performance by Chicago’s living legend Buddy Guy as part of his “Damn Right Farewell” tour as well as additional headliners during the weekend.  In between performances, grab a bite to eat at Wally’s BBQ Pit back by popular demand, and specialty drinks catered by Eleven North Hospitality.  Plus, there are other citywide Blues Events being offered on Saturday with “Hot Blues Night” at Chess Records Studio (2120 S. Michigan Ave.) from 9 p.m.-12 a.m., and Sunday with “Joe Pratt & Source One Band” at The Odyssey East (9942 S. Torrence Ave.) at 7 p.m., and “Vocalist Little Harvey & Chi-Town Blues” at Rooster’s Palace (5748 W. North Ave.) at 8 p.m.  It’s the largest FREE Blues Festival in the world!

The Humboldt Park neighborhood will be celebrating its vibrant Puerto Rican culture and history this Saturday and Sunday (12 p.m.-10 p.m.) with their annual Puerto Rican Festival located at Humboldt Park (2800 W. Division St. at Mozart St.) along with their 46th annual Puerto Rican People’s Parade along Division Street on Saturday.  This festival features a music stage with live entertainment from the island of Puerto Rico, merengue dance performances, a shopping market with cultural items and handmade goods, a carnival, the best restaurants and chefs bringing you Puerto Rico’s flavors in food and drinks, and much more!

Celebrating their 58th year, the Andersonville Midsommarfest takes place this Saturday and Sunday (12 p.m.-10 p.m.) on Clark Street from Foster Avenue to Gregory Street.  This much beloved street fest offers five stages of live entertainment from dozens of musical and entertainment acts, delicious new food options to purchase from both vendors and participating local restaurants, family activities, and the not-to-be missed traditional Swedish dance around the Midsommar Maypole!

Join the Wells Street Art Festival as they celebrate their 49th year this Saturday (10 a.m.-10 p.m.) and Sunday (10 a.m.-9 p.m.) on Wells Street between North Avenue and Division Street in the Old Town neighborhood.  This festival features juried artists from across the continent; a dedicated performance stage featuring local music, performance artists, and cover/tribute bands; a children’s play area; and tasty food and drink vendors from 20+ Old Town restaurants.  It’s a treasure trove of creativity and much more!

There’s also the Old Town Art Fair taking place this Saturday (10 a.m.-7 p.m.) and Sunday (10 a.m.-6 p.m.) at the Old Town Triangle Park (1763 N. Park Ave.) in the Old Town neighborhood.  This Art Fair features the work of over 200 artists, live music from local performers, a selection of food and drinks from local restaurants and vendors, a children’s corner where kids can unleash their inner artist, and a self-guided tour of over 50 local gardens in bloom and on display that are only viewable during this Art Fair!

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Neighborhood News: Before the Chicago Sky, women’s basketball in Chicago was about the Hustle

woman basketball player silhouette graphic

With all the hype surrounding women’s basketball this season, especially the off and on-court extravaganza of rookie Chicago Sky talent Angel Reese(aka, ‘Chi Barbie’), and the phenomenon that is the Indiana Fever’sCaitlin Clark, one thing is clear: professional women’s basketball has come a long way from its humble beginnings, starting with the Chicago Hustle of the Women’s Professional Basketball League (WBL), the first professional women’s basketball league in the United States.

The league played three seasons from the fall of 1978 to the spring of 1981. The Hustle played in all three WBL seasons and led the league in attendance each year. 

DePaul University’s Hall of Fame Coach Doug Bruno, who was the first head coach of the Hustle,  remembered “We used to play in front of 10,000 people every night.” 

In the Beginning…

WithTitle IX ratification just six years old in 1978, many names now associated with women’s pro basketball were just graduating from college. Among those standouts were UCLA’s  Ann Meyersand Old Dominion’s Nancy Lieberman, among many others. 

According to the blog funwhileitlasted.net, Bill Byrne, a former front office worker for the Chicago Fire of the World Football League, had the idea for the league in late 1977, and began selling franchises for $50,000 each. He  reached out to an enthusiastic but cash-poor Chicago sports promoter named John Geraty. Geraty, in turn, recruited the team’s financial backers, attorney Larry Cooper and personnel firm owner Sherwin Fischer, and the group purchased the WBL’s fourth franchise in June 1978.

Local marketing guru Chuck Shriver who had worked his magic in both the Cubs and White Sox front offices, according to DePaulBlueDemons.com negotiated a TV contract with superstation WGN with Johnny “Red” Kerr as color commentator and also brought WLS-AM radio on board with Les Grobstein handling play-by-play.

One popular Shriver promotion was handing out free Dr. Peppers to several thousand fans at DePaul’s Alumni Hall whenever the Hustle scored over 110 points on their home court. The Hustle triggered the promotion nearly a dozen times that first season.

Smaller Balls?

As the National Women’s History Museum said, the league used smaller and lighter balls than the men’s league because people reasoned women’s hands are smaller on average than men’s and their upper body strength also differs. 

The Teams

The league was divided into two divisions, with Hustle, Milwaukee Does(Get it…Does? Bucks?), Iowa Cornets and Minnesota Fillies playing in the Western Division, while the Dayton Rockettes, Houston Angels, New Jersey Gems and New York Stars were in the East.

According to Wikipedia sources, the league’s inaugural game was on December 9, 1978, between the Chicago Hustle and the Milwaukee Does at the Milwaukee Arena, attracting coverage in the previous night’s ‘CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.’ Milwaukee mayor Henry Maier issued a proclamation comparing this first game to the first professional football game, played in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and the first pro baseball game, played in Cincinnati. The game attracted a crowd of 7,824, which saw the hometown team lose to Chicago 92–87. The Hustle’s Debra Waddy Rossow led all scorers with 30 points.

Standouts in a stellar year 

In fact, according to the Stats Crew, during the first season, Waddy-Rossow tossed in a team-leading 833 points for the Hustle, while future MVP Rita Easterling scored 20 or more per game and ended the year with 313 assists. Sue Digitale contributed 335 boards. 

The Hustle finished first in the WPBL’s Midwest Division, but lost to the Iowa Cornets in the semifinals. 

Statistics for the Hustle 

While they never won a crown, according to the Stats Crew, the Hustle remained competitive to the end. Year by year, with the competition and teams  constantly changing (there were 14 WBL teams in all), their record was:

1978-79 Chicago Hustle (21-13) 

1979-80 Chicago Hustle (17-19)

1980-81 Chicago Hustle (18-18)

An Inauspicious End

As told by Wikipedia sources, the WBL disbanded in 1981 because of financial problems throughout the league. In 1981, the Minnesota Fillies players who were promised paychecks by Commissioner Sherwin Fischer, only to have him not follow through, walked off the court in Chicago ten minutes before a scheduled game with the Hustle. The game was not played, despite a full house at DePaul Alumni Hall, and before long it became clear that the WBL was doomed. Les Grobstein actually confirmed this story to me in an interview in November 2021, just a few months before his passing in 2022.

However, the WBL was the starting point for Women’s Basketball in the United States. Without the WBL, there would have been no WNBA.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Restaurant Review: Lincoln Park’s Matisse Tavern and Grill a picture-perfect setting for summer dining

outdoor dining in the rush street district, tastefully decorated with flowers

Lakeview’sMatisse Tavern and Grill sounds like it should be a painting in an art museum, and in many ways, it is.

For a summer night, it’s a perfect spot to take the family for fresh, imaginative, epicurean meals, while dining in an Instagram-ready, picturesque outdoor patio, on cozy tables with room for your favorite pooch. It’s also great for late-night after a show or concert. 

As their website mentions, you can “Relax with friends all summer long on the outdoor patio with a copper mug of our famous Moscow Mule or a Cold Craft Beer.” 

Start your meal with CUBAN SPICED WON-TONS, which pairs braised pork and avocado cream in a crispy won-ton wrapper, topped with house made champagne feta sauce. Or, try STUFFED MEDJOOL DATES, which is goat cheese-stuffed medjool dates wrapped in bacon, with house made piquillo pepper-tomato sauce. Their shareable HUMMUS PLATTER has house-made Mediterranean hummus topped with a lemon pepper garlic sauce, and served with celery, carrots, red peppers and warm pita bread. 

For lighter appetites, don’t miss their ROASTED PEAR SALAD, which is roasted pears over mesclun greens with goat cheese, caramel walnuts and raspberry vinaigrette. HANGER STEAK SALAD isa blackened hanger steak over mixed greens, bottom mushrooms, red peppers, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, blue cheese crumble and ranch dressing. Hearty and yummy! WARM BEET SALAD is popular and healthy, with roasted red and golden beets in olive oil with sautéed spinach, asparagus and red pepper flakes, topped with goat cheese.

They are extremely proud of their creatively named half-pound, grass-fed burgers. They are served on your choice of ciabatta, multigrain roll, wrap or panini style. For an upcharge, you can choose a pretzel bun or pretzel roll. Burgers are served with your choice of side salad, fresh cut fries, homemade garlic mashed potatoes or fresh cut sweet potatoes fries. For example, TROPICAL FIRE is Monterey Jack cheese with caramelized thick cut bacon, mango habanero sauce, and crispy onions. SWEET PRECISION AND SOFT COLISION is smothered in chipotle aioli, topped with fresh pears flambéed with cognac, goat cheese and candied walnuts. I’ve never seen a burger like this in Chicago!

For a different take on a classic, try Matisse’s SALMON BLT, baked salmon on sour dough with lettuce, tomatoes, bacon and homemade tartar sauce, or the SWEET PEAR AND CHICKEN, which pairs grilled chicken with sweet pears, Monterey Jack cheese, candied walnuts & chipotle aioli. “Perfect as a Panini,” they say.

Their entrees include an unusual (and affordable) SURF AND TURF, mixing pan-seared French cut lamb chops and tiger shrimp with guajillo sauce served with sautéed red skins potatoes and asparagus-garlic butter sauce.  I’m down for THE DEVIL’S CHICKEN, an all-natural chicken breast with black olives, capers, spicy tomato, white wine and garlic served with rosemary roasted potatoes. For hearty fare, try the unusually named TRUFFLE THICKTRUFFLE THICK BACON PASTA, which isFarfalle pasta with cherrywood smoked bacon in a homemade alfredo sauce with fresh green peas, parmesan cheese and topped with white truffle oil.

As we say here when appropriate, “Save room for dessert!” MANGO CRÈME BRULEE isa mango and passion fruit custard with caramelized sugar, fruits, biscuit crumble and gelato. BOURBON PECAN BREAD PUDDING is a praline pecan bread pudding, with vanilla bean gelato in a caramel bourbon sauce. CRAZY CHEESECAKE has a golden graham cracker crust, cheesecake topped with chocolate and caramel sauce, and is served with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.

Matisse Tavern and Grill is located at 674 W. Diversey Parkway. They are open Monday-Thursday, 4pm–2am, Friday and Sunday from 12pm-2am, and Saturday from 12pm-3am. The kitchen closes at midnight daily. For reservations, click here

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Anger issues? Try shredding them

frustrated student working late hours in the night at home

People have been looking for healthy ways to handle anger in a meaningful way for years. Funnily enough, the answer might be found in some of the most destructive members of society: our toddlers. 

For some, destruction helps relieve feelings of anger. Here’s an example of an exercise researches did in Japan:

University students were asked to write an essay. Then, the researchers gave all the students low scores in all the categories on purpose. They were then instructed to sit silently and absorb their grades for two minutes. Then they wrote down everything they thought about the feedback, especially how it made them feel. They were assured that no one would read it. Then they instructed some of the students to shred their reflections, some to throw them in the trash, and the last group were told to keep them. 

The result? The journaling exercise helped all of them in some way, but the ones who held onto their notes also held their anger longer than those who physically got rid of them. It was concluded that the mental benefit comes from the person ridding themselves of the object that embodied their feelings. They filled the paper with their emotions and destroying the paper helped them rid themselves of the emotion. 

This method has been used throughout history. There is a Japanese festival at the Hiyoshi shrine in Kiyosu, where visitors smash plates that represent things that make them angry. Some people use the therapeutic practice of writing a letter just to burn it and let go of complicated feelings. Equipping people to be able to process their anger can help mental and physical health, not to mention reducing cases of violence. 

Anger is not the only emotion to shred. Anxiety, loneliness, sadness or even envy may be helped with a similar exercise. It remains to be seen if venting digitally and deleting has the same benefits. It seems the physical act of destroying it really has the most powerful effect.  

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago