Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Healthy diet to beat depression

Clinical depression is a medical condition which should be monitored and treated with a trusted doctor. However, scientists have found that the nutrients found in the following foods may help manage clinical or circumstantial depression for some. If you have no other restrictions, it may be worth a shot!

Vitamin D. Low levels of Vitamin D can cause depression. Cow’s milk and other goods like enriched cereals, juices and canned fish are great sources of Vitamin D . If these foods are not an option you can also try supplements. One study found people who took supplements were less depressed after one year. Ask a doctor to check your Vitamin D levels and recommend supplements.

Tryptophan. Turkey meat contains tryptophan, which your body uses to make serotonin. This is key to fighting depression. Many anti-depressant drugs target serotonin use in the brain. You can also find this mood elevator in chicken and soybeans.

Selenium. Brazil nuts are rich in selenium which protects you from free radicals. People without enough of this nutrient tend to be more depressed. Other foods rich in selenium are brown rice, sunflower seeds, seafood, and lean beef.

Beta-carotene. Carrots and other foods like pumpkin, spinach, cantaloupe, and sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene that has been linked to lower depression. While it is not certain it can prevent depression it sure can’t hurt to add it to your diet!

Vitamin B-12. Lean beef, milk and eggs along with clams and mussels are good sources of vitamin B-12. A lack of B-12 causes a shortage of adenosylmethionine, which your brain needs to process other chemicals that affect your mood. Elderly people are especially prone to low B-12 levels.

Folate. Leafy greens are packed with folate which your brain cells need to work well and may protect against depression. Food manufacturers add this to enriched pastas and rice. Beans like limas and asparagus are also good sources.

Omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids help brain chemicals that can affect your mood. Fatty fish like salmon and canned tuna are great sources of this valuable nutrient.

These are all healthy foods that will benefit your brain as much as your body! But there are also foods to avoid or keep in strict moderation. Alcohol for example can make depression symptoms worse because it makes your brain less active. It can also make your anti-depressant medication less effective.

Highly processed foods have also been linked to depression. Diets high in sugar, carbs, and fat do little to elevate your mood in a consistent way. Instead, a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean protein is better suited to managing depression.

 Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago

Freshen Up Your Home: Spring Maintenance Must-Dos

Woman organizing clothes on shelves in white opened wardrobe

Spring is the perfect time to breathe new life into your home with a thorough maintenance regimen. As the weather warms up and nature begins to bloom, it’s essential to freshen up your living spaces and address any lingering winter wear and tear. From deep cleaning and decluttering indoors to tackling outdoor maintenance tasks and essential repairs, this article provides a comprehensive guide to sprucing up your home for the spring season. Explore a range of must-do tasks, energy-efficient updates, gardening tips, and safety checks to ensure your home is refreshed, organized, and ready to embrace the vibrant spirit of spring.

Indoor Cleaning Checklist

Deep Clean Your Living Spaces

It’s time to bid farewell to the dust bunnies lurking in your corners and give your living room a spa day. Vacuum under the couch cushions, wipe down forgotten surfaces, and maybe even show your baseboards some love. Your space will thank you with a newfound sparkle!

Revamp Your Kitchen and Dining Areas

Say goodbye to that mystery jar at the back of your pantry and get ready to spruce up your kitchen. Clean out expired items, organize your pots and pans, and embrace a clutter-free dining table for those future feasts. Your inner chef will thank you for the fresh start!

Refresh Your Bedrooms and Bathrooms

Unleash your inner Marie Kondo and declutter your sanctuary. Tackle the closet chaos, organize your toiletries, and maybe treat yourself to some new fluffy towels. Your well-rested self will appreciate the zen vibes of a decluttered space.

Outdoor Maintenance Tasks

Inspect and Clean Gutters and Downspouts

Let’s show some love to the unsung heroes of our homes – the gutters. Clear out debris, unclog those downspouts, and prevent any water damage headaches down the line. Your foundation will thank you for the TLC!

Check and Repair Exterior Surfaces

Wave goodbye to peeling paint and weathered siding. Give your home’s exterior a little facelift by touching up paint, sealing cracks, and ensuring your facade is as strong as it is stylish. Your house will be the envy of the block!

Prep Your Outdoor Living Areas

Dust off those patio chairs and fire up the grill – it’s outdoor living season! Spruce up your outdoor oasis by cleaning furniture, prepping the garden, and setting the stage for those al fresco gatherings. Your backyard will be BBQ-ready in no time!

Essential Spring Home Repairs

Addressing Plumbing and Water Damage Issues

Don’t let leaky faucets dampen your spring spirit. Take the time to check for leaks, inspect your water heater, and ensure your plumbing is in tip-top shape. You’ll prevent potential water woes and keep your home dry and happy!

Maintaining Your Roof and Windows

Give your home the roof over its head some attention. Check for missing shingles, clean out those gutters again, and inspect your windows for any drafts. A little maintenance now can save you from costly repairs later.

Fixing Structural and Foundation Problems

Don’t let foundation cracks cramp your style. Take a stroll around your home, inspect for any cracks or shifts, and address any structural issues promptly. Your home’s foundation will thank you for the stability!

Decluttering and Organizing Tips

Clearing Out Clutter Room by Room

Channel your inner decluttering guru and tackle each room with a vengeance. Donate what you no longer use, find homes for stray items, and revel in the simplicity of a clutter-free space. Your mind will thank you for the newfound clarity!

Organizing and Storing Seasonal Items

Say goodbye to winter gear and welcome spring with open arms. Store away bulky winter items, organize your seasonal decor, and make way for spring essentials. Your future self will thank you for the seamless transitions between seasons!

Energy-Efficient Updates for Spring

You know what’s cooler than being cool? Saving energy! Upgrading to energy-efficient appliances can not only reduce your utility bills but also lessen your environmental impact. It’s a win-win situation. And don’t forget about sealing air leaks and beefing up your insulation. Your home will thank you, and so will your wallet!

Gardening and Landscaping Essentials

If you’ve got a green thumb or aspire to have one, it’s time to get planning your spring garden. From picking out your favorite blooms to deciding where to plant those veggies, there’s a lot of fun to be had. And let’s not forget about your lawn – it’s like a little green carpet that deserves some love and care. Get your mower ready and show that grass who’s boss!

Seasonal HVAC and Appliance Maintenance

It’s not the most glamorous task, but scheduling HVAC system check-ups is crucial for keeping your home comfortable. And while you’re at it, give those household appliances some TLC. Clean out the lint trap in your dryer, run a cleaning cycle on your dishwasher – your appliances will thank you by running smoother and lasting longer.

Safety Checks and Home Security Upgrades

Safety first, folks! Test those smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure they’re in working order. It’s a quick task that could potentially save lives – so definitely worth the effort. And if you’re looking to enhance your home security, consider adding some extra measures like motion sensor lights or a video doorbell. You can never be too safe!By prioritizing these spring maintenance must-dos, you can create a rejuvenating and welcoming atmosphere in your home. Embrace the season of renewal by taking proactive steps to care for your living spaces, both indoors and outdoors. Whether you’re refreshing your decor, enhancing energy efficiency, or ensuring the safety and security of your home, these tasks will help you enjoy a fresh and vibrant living environment throughout the spring and beyond. Stay proactive, stay organized, and let the beauty of spring inspire you to create a home that truly reflects the warmth and vitality of the season.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Celebrating Mom on Mother’s Day!

happy mothers day graphic lettering with flowers

This weekend is a special weekend as we celebrate our moms this Sunday on Mother’s Day.  You know, planning fun things to do with mom doesn’t have to be stressful.  Just treat her like a queen and don’t let her lift a finger.  Whether she wants a break from cooking or would love just to spend time with you, here are some suggestions for all types of moms!

For the mom who loves the summer season, ComEd’s 10th annual Switch on Summer will be held on Saturday (11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.) as Chicago’s iconic Buckingham Fountain (301 S. Columbus Dr.) in The Loop will be switched on for the start of summer with free giveaways and fun games around the fountain.  Included this year is also the official kick-off for the Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks that offers free cultural events and performances throughout the summer.  Plus, a variety of vendors and food trucks will be on hand as well as a special guest appearance by Tom Skilling.  Summer is coming!

For the mom who enjoys an occasional glass of wine, the 19th annual Andersonville Wine Walk is this Saturday at various Andersonville businesses throughout the neighborhood.  Spend the afternoon with mom as you sip, tour, and shop your way through two wine routes.  Attendees will receive a commemorative wine tasting glass and a route card highlighting each wine before embarking on your journey.  Afterwards, pick up a bottle of mom’s favorite wine or two for her and be sure to look for those discounts on wine at several participating locations!

For the mom who loves country music and everything else about it, Old Crow Smokehouse (3506 N. Clark St.) in the Wrigleyville neighborhood will be hosting their Country Day Party on Saturday (12 p.m.-5 p.m.).  A ticket includes admission, a complimentary drink and a shot, a live performance from Sunfallen (1 p.m.-4 p.m.), giveaways, and more.  Be sure to wear your best country outfit as you giddy on up!

For the mom who enjoys shopping for vintage treasures, the Chicago Vintage Fest is this Saturday and Sunday (12 p.m.-6 p.m.) at Pioneer Court (401 N. Michigan Ave.) on the Magnificent Mile in the Streeterville neighborhood.  Over 50 vintage and handmade vendors will be selling an assortment of goods.  In addition, on Saturday, the first 50 attendees will receive a free tote, and on Sunday, the first 50 mothers will receive a free rose.  Help mom find her perfect treasure!

For the mom who loves cruising on Lake Michigan, City Cruises Chicago located at Navy Pier (600 E. Grand Ave.) in the Streeterville neighborhood will be hosting Mother’s Day Brunch Cruises on Lake Michigan.  Treat mom to a chef-prepared buffet or a plated meal featuring savory and sweet classics, bottomless mimosas, top-notch service, and breathtaking views of Chicago’s skyline while enjoying games on signature cruises or upscale DJ entertainment on premier cruises.  It’s a great way to create memories!

For other Mother’s Day 2024 festivities just click the link!

Happy Mother’s Day to All the Moms Out There!  You Deserve More Than Just One Day!!

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Neighborhood News: Forget Drive-Ins… Fulton Market has the Rooftop Cinema Club at the Emily Hotel!

a rooftop patio in Chicago

Bright Lights. Big City. Great Movies! 

Withawesomeweather expected this weekend, there’s no time like now to experience a night at Chicago’s own Rooftop Cinema Clubat Fulton Market’s Emily Hotel, 311 N. Morgan Street. The limited-run cinema opened on Wednesday and runs through July 7. Located on the hotel’s fifth floor terrace, this outdoor cinema experience features a weekly lineup of timeless favorites viewed on a state-of-the-art LED screen with wireless headphones.

The Experience….

It’s more than just a movie, it’s a whole film experience,” Founder and CEO Gerry Cottle told ABC7 in 2022, when the London-based cinema opened in Chicago. “You get there early, you socialize, you hang out with your friends and then you see your favorite movie on the big screen as the sun sets and the stars begin to sparkle. It really is quite magical.”

The venue has (for purchase) wireless headsets, comfy deckchairs and cozy blankets, innovative street food, craft cocktails, beers, and wine under Chicago’s brilliant starry sky. Prior to the movie, the rooftop has outdoor games to play.

Comfort and Class

Tickets range from $12-$29 per person, depending on the night and the event. For $23 per person, you can lay back in their leisurely Adirondack Chair – with a contoured seat, sloped backrest and full-length cushion, this chair was designed for outdoor lounging. For $4 more, you can add a bag of popcorn to your Adirondack Chair. For $29 per person, their date night spectacular is their Adirondack Love Seat + Popcorn,  a double-width Adirondack perfect for you and your date, friend or loved one. Loveseats, according to the website, have a prime viewing position in the center rows of the cinema, and comes with a bag of popcorn, full-length cushions and side table to share. 

Ticket price is per guest and must be purchased in pairs.

This Week …and Beyond 

Rooftop Cinema Club begins the 2024 season with a tribute to Black Cinema. On Thursday, May 9, 1997’s LOVE JONES tells the story of a young couple figuring out their relationship and their professional lives against the backdrop of pressures and challenges typical of young love. Door time is 6:15pm, and the movie begins at 7:15pm.

Their second feature, THE BLACKENING, tells the story of a group of Black friends who reunite for a Juneteenth weekend getaway, only to find themselves trapped in a remote cabin with a twisted killer. The movie starts at10pm, and doors open at 9:30pm.

On Friday, it’s the classic 10 Things I Hate About You, a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s comedy, The Taming of the Shrew.

For tickets, click here.

Guests are seated on a first-come, first-served basis. The venue encourages guests to arrive early and together to ensure they can select their preferred seats. For a complete list of May events, click here.

But what if it rains?

In the event of a canceled screening due to inclement weather, Rooftop Cinema Club will notify you as soon as possible via email with details on how to transfer your tickets to another screening or obtain a refund. You can check the current status of a future screening on the program tiles of the venue page.

Enjoy, everyone!

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Restaurant Review: Happy Mother’s Day, Chicago!

Happy Mother's Day Calligraphy Background with Flower

This upcoming Sunday, May 12, is Mother’s Day. As a mom to one, I’m always interested in how things started. According to Brittanica.com, Mother’s Day began with Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia, whose mother had organized women’s groups to promote friendship and health, originated Mother’s Day. On May 12, 1907, she held a memorial service at her late mother’s church in Grafton, West Virginia. Within five years virtually every state was observing the day, and in 1914,  President Woodrow Wilson made it a national holiday.

Why we eat together on Mother’s Day 

While Chef Smith’s words are meant for all family meals, I find them especially appropriate now. “Getting back to the table allows us to love and nurture each other and renew connections to our families—however they may be configured—in this diverse and ever-changing society. Such connections are crucial in a fast-paced world where we feel more disconnected every day. One of the best ways we know how to restore that daily balance is to sit down at our table.”

Chef Art Smith 

Family Gathering 

At Chef Art Smith’s Reunion on Navy Pier, 700 E. Grand Avenue, you can give Mom the ultimate in Southern home cooking with Chef Smith’s $45 per person, three-course Mother’s Day Menu. Starting with a welcoming Mimosa, followed by a first course of deviled eggs, fried green tomatoes, or avocado toast, entrée choices include Chef’s shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles or salmon benedict. Finish the meal with Mother’s Day beignets prepared tableside! Reservations are still available as of Tuesday morning at Open Table, click here.

A Tipsy, Turvy Tea?

At River North’s Gwen Hotel, 521 North Rush Street, your fun- loving Mom and Grandma may enjoy Tipsy Tea! Complete with a live DJ and even livelier libations, each month features a different theme. In May, it’s the musical Mamma Mia! Imbibe in libations such as the ‘Honey, Honey’-metaxa ouzo, lemonade, honey, and spearmint tea, or the ‘Mamma Mia’, a blend of corazón blanco tequila, fos mastiha, grenadine, lime, and pomegranate dream tea. Starting at $70 per person and featuring a rotating selection of tea towers and bottomless boozy (and spirit-free) tea selections, a Gwen Tipsy Tea includes a Tea Tower comprised of a variety of sweet and savory treats built for the number of guests, such as baklava, amygdalota, almond meringue cookie, Greek yogurt honey panna cotta, blueberry cinnamon gelée, mini Galaktoboureko tart, sour cream cupcakes, Spanakopita Dolmades, Greek Chicken Skewer, and Pita Crisps with feta, olive, and tomato. For reservations, click here.

Back to Nature

In Andersonville,m.henry, 5707 N. Clark Street, has been named as one of the best brunches in Chicago by critics other than Dean’s Team Chicago, and we have no argument! m. henry (yes, it’s lowercase) offers globally inspired, new american style cooking. Specializing in natural and seasonal ingredients, using locally produced and organic products whenever possible, try such specialties as Rustic Peasant Quiche, a savory quiche filled with asparagus, sautéed leeks, shallots, applewood bacon, and gruyere and lorraine swiss cheeses, served with a fresh field greens salad. Lemon-Raspberry Brioche French Toast, which is three slices of brioche french toast, layered w/homemade lemon curd and raspberry coulis. For something completely different (at least for me) try a Dandelion, Shallot, and Leek Omelette, a fluffy omelet sautéed with dandelion greens, caramelized shallots & leeks, and fontinella cheese, served with house potatoes or a mixed greens salad. Most seats are filled on a first come, first served basis. For parties of 10 or more, click here.

Stand back, Buenos Aires!

At Lincoln Square’s Artango Bar & Steakhouse, 4767 N. Lincoln Avenue, their Mather’s Day three-course meal includes appetizers, main course, and dessert for $75 (note that beverage, tax, and gratuity are not included). Start with Chef’s choice Empanadas, followed by Ceviche Nikkei, which is tuna, leche de tigre, avocado, and huacatay sauce, followed by Ensalda De Remolacha, which has arugula, watercress, beets, goat cheese mousse, and hazelnuts, in a fig vinaigrette, Focaccia Pizza  has rosemary potato and crispy jamon serrano. A choice of entrées include Pollo La Parrilla- is infused with fine herbs, and served with seasonal vegetable casserole.  Faroe Island Salmon is served with a prawn, mashed potato, asparagus, and lobster sauce.Finish your celebration with a gooey, rich Chocolate Cake with ice cream, or Flan, the luscious, Argentine-style custard. For reservations, click here.

Happy Mother’s Day to all who care for others!

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Spring Landscape

gardener taking care of garden mulch

Now is a great time to get out in the yard and get things ready for the weeks to come. In the Chicagoland area our planting time for vegetables is May 15th. I usually wait an additional week as we regularly have frost past that date. You can plant vegetables on the 15th but be ready to cover them in case of frost. Tomatoes especially damage easily in the cold. Go ahead and put flowers out, they should be okay. 

Trees and shrubs need a little attention to get them ready for summer. Clean out any old mulch and debris from around the trunk. Add fresh mulch making sure to leave a good 6 inches free around the base. Mulching too close to tree trunks or shrub bases attracts insects and could cause moisture damage. After the spring blooming shrubs are done flowering it’s time to prune. Clean out any old nonproducing canes and stems in the middle and prune the outside for a pleasing shape. 

Right now the soil is warmer but temperatures are moderate; this is great grass growing time. You can aerate manually or rent a machine – either way is good to promote nutrients and water to the grassroots. Adding topsoil now is also a good idea. Fresh soil will help the grass to get a good start. Overseed with some good grass seed. We prefer 100% Kentucky Blue Grass. It’s really the best and has less weed seeds. Keep the seed moist till it germinates, usually 7-14 days. 

The garden can use a little attention too. Rake out any plant debris left over from the winter and dispose of. Don’t compost this material as it can contain disease. Best to just get rid of it. Carefully pull out as many weeds as you can, getting out as much of the root as you can. Don’t turn over the soil, that just brings more weed seeds to the surface where they get sun and water to grow. Cover the entire garden with 1-2 inches of mushroom compost. This will work its way into the soil and loosen it while adding nutrients. 

Now you are ready for your landscape to take off with warmer temperatures coming! Spring usually provides enough moisture for the landscape but pay attention. You want at least an inch per week. In a dry week we will need to water.    

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago

Investing in Potential: Why Buying a Fixer Upper Home is Worth It

Tiny sample paint cans during house renovation, process of choosing paint for the walls

Investing in a fixer upper home can be a rewarding and financially savvy decision for those looking to enter the real estate market or expand their property portfolio. The allure of transforming a dated or neglected property into a personalized oasis is undeniable, offering the opportunity to create a unique living space that perfectly aligns with your vision and preferences. Beyond the aesthetic appeal, the financial benefits of purchasing a fixer upper, such as cost savings and potential for increased equity, make it a compelling choice for savvy investors. In this article, we will delve into the reasons why buying a fixer upper home is worth considering, exploring the advantages, challenges, and strategies for successful renovation projects.

The Appeal of Fixer Upper Homes

Exploring the allure of fixer upper properties

Hey there, savvy homeowner-to-be! Ever dreamt of transforming a run-down diamond in the rough into your dream home? Fixer upper properties may have that irresistible charm that makes your DIY heart skip a beat. Let’s dive into why these projects are like catnip for those with a vision and a tool belt!

Financial Benefits of Investing in a Fixer Upper

Cost savings compared to buying a move-in ready home

Picture this: you could save a pretty penny by rolling up your sleeves and tackling a fixer upper instead of splurging on a move-in ready home. While others pay a premium, you’d be laughing all the way to the bank with your budget-friendly purchase. Who said investing in potential can’t be easy on the wallet?

Potential for Customization and Personalization

Creating a home that suits your unique style and needs

Why settle for cookie-cutter designs when you can unleash your inner design maven on a fixer upper canvas? From choosing the perfect fixtures to crafting a layout that fits your lifestyle like a glove, the possibilities are as endless as your Pinterest boards. Say goodbye to generic homes and hello to a space that’s undeniably “you.”

Risks and Challenges of Fixer Upper Projects

Understanding the potential pitfalls of renovating a fixer upper

Hold on to your hard hats, folks! While the idea of revamping a fixer upper is thrilling, let’s not forget the bumps on the renovation road. From unexpected expenses to timelines that seem to have a mind of their own, it’s not all rainbows and sledgehammers. Buckle up as we navigate through the highs and lows of turning a fixer upper into a showstopper.

Strategies for Finding and Evaluating Fixer Upper Properties

Researching neighborhoods and property listings

Before diving into the world of fixer-upper properties, it’s essential to do your homework. Spend time researching different neighborhoods to find ones that align with your budget, vision, and future resale potential. Scour property listings online, attend open houses, and maybe even chat up your local real estate agent for insider tips. Remember, finding the right fixer-upper is like finding a diamond in the rough – it takes patience, persistence, and a keen eye for potential.

Budgeting and Financing Considerations for Renovations

Setting a realistic renovation budget

Ah, the dreaded B-word – budget. When it comes to renovating a fixer-upper, it’s crucial to set a realistic budget and stick to it like your life depends on it (okay, maybe not that dramatic, but you get the point). Factor in costs for materials, labor, unexpected hiccups, and maybe a little extra for those Pinterest-inspired upgrades you just can’t resist. Remember, the goal is to increase the property’s value without bankrupting yourself in the process. Budget smart, renovate smarter!

Maximizing Return on Investment: Tips for Successful Fixer Upper Projects

Key strategies for increasing the value of a fixer upper property

So, you’ve found your diamond in the rough, set your budget, and now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. To maximize your return on investment, focus on key areas that can boost the property’s value. Think kitchen and bathroom updates, enhancing curb appeal, adding square footage if possible, and fixing any major structural issues. Remember, you’re not just flipping a home; you’re creating a masterpiece that will pay off in the long run. With a dash of creativity, a sprinkle of elbow grease, and a whole lot of determination, your fixer-upper dream can become a profitable reality. Go forth and renovate, my friend!In conclusion, investing in a fixer upper home can be a worthwhile endeavor for those willing to put in the time, effort, and resources needed to transform a property into a dream home. From the potential for customization and personalization to the financial benefits and opportunities for maximizing return on investment, the journey of renovating a fixer upper can be both fulfilling and profitable. By understanding the risks, embracing the challenges, and implementing strategic approaches, buyers can unlock the full potential of fixer upper properties and enjoy the fruits of their investment for years to come.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Off to the Races & Celebrating a Holiday!

cartoon race horse with jockey galloping in the full speed

As we welcome in the month of May, this weekend we’ll be off to the races and celebrating a holiday, among other things!

Watch the most exciting two minutes in sports at:

Visit Time Out Market Chicago (916 W. Fulton Market) in the West Loop for a Kentucky Derby Watch Party this Saturday (4 p.m.-7 p.m.) at Tony’s Rooftop Bar.  Don your finest derby outfit for a chance to win prizes while enjoying refreshing drinks, delicious food, giveaways, photo ops, and more as you cheer on your favorite horse.  Also, don’t miss out on the signature Mint Juleps and Sazeracs featuring Whistlepig Bourbon and Rye.

It’s time to raise your glass and cheer on the horses at Derby Crawl this Saturday (1 p.m.-6 p.m.) at Moe’s Cantina (149 W. Kinzie St.) and other River North bar participants.  A ticket includes admission, $12 in gift cards to use on the crawl, drink specials, and more.  Plus, win free tickets to upcoming events for the Best Hat, Best Outfit, and Best Couples Outfit just for wearing your best derby attire.  Enjoy a day of fun and festivities at Chicago’s #1 Kentucky Derby Party!

Of course, there are many other venues in Chicago hosting Kentucky Derby Parties as well!

Get ready for the biggest Cinco De Mayo holiday events, such as:

Join the Pilsen neighborhood for their Cinco De Mayo Saturday Tequila Crawl Party from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. for the biggest non-stop fiesta bar crawl with amazing drinks and tons of fun offered by local restaurants and bars.  A ticket gets you free entry to all participating bars; DJ’s spinning all day long; one free holiday drink at every bar; food and drink specials; and more!

Make your way over to Navy Pier (600 E. Grand Ave.) in the Streeterville neighborhood and enjoy a host of activities at Mexico Fest this Saturday (11 a.m.-7 p.m.) and Sunday (11 a.m.-6 p.m.).  This fest features music and dance performances from Mexican artists; a one-of-a-kind mercadito with over 30 vendors selling handicrafts, clothing, hats, jewelry, dolls, blankets, bags, and more.  And attendees can also participate in exciting free workshops to make their own Lele dolls.

Here’s a link for other Cinco de Mayo Celebrations taking place in Chicago and the Chicagoland area!

The Chicago Spring Market for Makers takes place this Saturday and Sunday (11 a.m.-5 p.m.) at Artifact Events (4325 N. Ravenswood Ave.) in the Lakeview neighborhood.  Over 100 vendors will be on hand to show off their handmade home décor, art, clothing, jewelry, and more.  In addition, every guest receives a tote bag, access to several photo backdrops, and a DIY Station where they can craft their own unique keepsake!

Returning for the spring season is the annual Lakefront Loop 5K this Sunday (7:30 a.m.) at Navy Pier (600 E. Grand Ave.) in the Streeterville neighborhood.  This run is the only 5K completely contained on the Pier, using the Northwestern Medicine Wellness Way fitness trail that encircles the North and South Docks.  Little ones can also participate in a Kids Dash. Plus, all participants will receive a T-shirt and complimentary post-race refreshments at the finish line!

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Neighborhood News: All the world’s a stage at Navy Pier’s Chicago Shakespeare Theater

theater actors on stage perform a play for audience

While Navy Pier reigns supreme as the ultimate Chicago playground, Chicago Shakespeare Theater,  800 East Grand Avenue, offers the Bard’s unique take on life, humor and tragedy against the backdrop of Lake Michigan.

Since 1986, the company has grown from a makeshift rooftop theater atop the old Red Lion Pub to a regional Tony and Joseph Jefferson award-winning, three-theater campus, encompassing the Courtyard Theater, Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare, and The Yard. Their repertoire has grown to include far more than Shakespeare’s comedies and tragedies, and their outreach to students and commitment to diversity extends far beyond Navy Pier.

From workshop to theater…

Chicago Shakespeare Theater was founded as the Chicago Shakespeare Workshop by former Artistic Director Barbara Gaines in 1986.

“Nineteen artists gathered on the rooftop of the Red Lion Pub in Lincoln Park in what would become the company’s inaugural production and spoke aloud the first words of Henry V: ‘O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention’,” recalled Gaines at her 2023 retirement, via a press release. 

“My mission over these many years has been to fill the world with the humanity of Shakespeare—a writer who understands the immediacy of being human and gives us all the chance to delve into the mysteries of life. 

“And that’s exactly what I believe we’ve been able to do together. I am immensely proud of all that we’ve done and deeply inspired by the thrilling possibilities ahead for Chicago Shakespeare in the decades to come.*

As Wikipedia sources tell it, a year later,  they became the Chicago Shakespeare Repertory and in 1999, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. They performed their first twelve seasons in residency at the Ruth Page Theater, performing titles ranging from Hamlet and King Lear to the lesser-known Troilus and Cressida and Timon of Athens. Although the theater was critically lauded for its innovative approach to classic works, it was limited by the age and spatial restrictions of the Ruth Page Theater and began looking for a new performance space in the late 1990s.

To Navy Pier They Go…

Gaines and the company’s board of directors envisioned a much larger, independent facility where all forms of performance were possible. They embarked on a massive capital campaign. In October 1999, they unveiled a purpose built, seven-story, 810,000 square foot facility, housing its box office, administrative offices, and performance venues. The first performance was Monty Python’s Eric Idle reading from his novel The Road to Mars.

The 510-seat Courtyard Theater features state-of-the-art technology and acoustics, together with a versatile thrust stage and deep proscenium, that create a flexible performance space. A second theater, the 200-seat black box “Upstairs” space, is devoted to smaller productions such as The Second City’s Romeo and Juliet Musical: The People Vs. Friar Laurence, The Man Who Killed Romeo and Juliet.

Arts-in-Literacy…

Recognized as a national leader by First Lady Michelle Obama in a 2014 White House ceremony, the Theater’s arts-in-literacy programs support the work in classrooms across the region by bringing words to life onstage for tens of thousands of students each year and through a variety of professional learning opportunities for teachers. 

In the Community…

Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks program has fostered creative community engagement with artists across the city for more than a decade.

Award-winning…

The theater had garnered 77 Joseph Jefferson awards and three Laurence Olivier Awards. In 2008, it was the winner of the Regional Theatre Tony Award.

Currently…

Through May 26, the talented Jason Alexander(Seinfeld) makes his Chicago stage debut in a world premiere of Judgement Day at the Courtyard Theater. The Emmy and Tony winning Alexander plays Sammy Campo, a staggeringly corrupt, morally bankrupt lawyer who’s threatened with eternal damnation by a terrifying angel after a near-death experience. In a desperate attempt to redeem himself, Sammy forms an unlikely bond with a Catholic priest who is having his own crisis of faith. 

For tickets and upcoming performances, click here

And remember, as Shakespeare said in Hamlet, “The play’s the thing!” 

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Restaurant Review: North Center’s Taqueria El 5 de Mayo celebrates Cinco de Mayo year-round

cinco de mayo colorful lettering

With Cinco de Mayo celebrations happening throughout Chicago this weekend, you can celebrate year-round with the one restaurant in Chicago that bears the name–El 5 de Mayo2415 W. Montrose Avenue. 

Thefamily-owned restaurant is the brother location to Taqueria El Asadero on Montrose and Lincoln and Taqueria Las Flores on Foster and Kimball. 

While the North Center storefront lacks the fancy décor of more commercial venues for celebrating Cinco de Mayo, (honoring Mexico’s military victory in 1862 over the French forces of Napoleon III, per Brittanica.com) the family-owned restaurant has stood the test of time for the past eight years by refusing to compromise on quality. Their family mission is to *provide the finest tacos, burritos, and guacamole to hungry bellies.”

 As they say on their website, they source grade A skirt steak and other meats and  fresh ingredients from local businesses in their neighborhood “who are also our dear friends.” 

Start with an order of GUACAMOLE, made with avocados, chopped tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and lime juice, or  PICO DE GALLO, with chopped tomatoes, cilantro, jalapenos, serrano peppers, and lime juice. 

 Their entrées include PLATILLO DE CARNE ASADA, a Grade A skirt steak accompanied with rice, beans, salad and tortillas. PLATILLO DE POLLO is achicken dinner accompanied by rice, beans, salad, and tortillas. CHILE RELLENO PLATILLO offers a Poblano pepper in light egg batter, stuffed with cheese, with rice, beans, salad, and tortillas.

Other specialties include TORTAS, served with lettuce, tomato, sour cream, cheese and beans, which comes with your choice of skirt steak, chicken, chorizo, lengua (beef tongue) barbacoa (braised beef), Al-pastor,  Jamon, Bistec de Res (breaded steak), or Bistec de Pollo (breaded chicken), or vegetarian. BURRITOS are served with onion, cilantro, lettuce and tomato and have the same options as the TORTAS. 

Their seasonal dessert menu includes homemade LIME SORBET and FRESAS CON CREMA, strawberries & cream ice cream served on a sweet, crisp flour tortilla bowl, topped with fudge and strawberries.

Mine was not the only good opinion.

“This place has the best tacos in the north side of Chicago along with El Asadero!” said one recent Google reviewer. They use the best quality meat and ingredients! This is my favorite place to get some good guacamole with a torta, taco’s, and their chips and salsa.”

Taqueria El 5 de Mayo is open Tuesday -Saturday, 10am-10pm, and Sunday, 10am-8pm. They are closed on Monday. They do not accept reservations. For more information, click here

 Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago