Chicago Home and Lifestyles – 7 ways to become and stay more fit

an older couple walking a dog in a neighborhood

Get in 10,000 steps per day. You can achieve this via short regular walks. Scientists have found regular walking can reduce cardiovascular incidents by 31% and risk of dying by 32%. Walking is also great for reducing anxiety and depression while improving your mood. 

Cycling short distances instead of driving. This is easy if you live in a city. Cycle for groceries and to meet friends. Cycling is also a low intensity steady state cardio. This increases your overall endurance without the inflammation you get with other more intense exercise. 

Prioritize sleep. Far too many of us are sleep deprived. I believe much of this is caused by the overuse of our various devices, especially in the evening. Try to reduce your device usage in the evening or at least an hour before bed. Devices should be banned from the bedroom. 

Eat more carbs. Most people attempt to cut out carbs when trying to get healthy. This makes it harder for your body to get the energy it needs for the day. Complex carbs should make up 1/3 of your diet. Whole wheat bread, brown rice, pasta and lots of vegetables will give you the energy you need.

Take rest days. Two days per week is best. But you don’t need to be still entirely. Do a little yoga or low pace walking. This is the time when your muscles are repairing and growing. Invest in a massage gun. These are great for soothing sore muscles and getting those knots out.

Stretch more often. Even if it’s only for a few minutes. Many people with back stiffness can really find relief from stretching. Check out Pilates. They have 25–30-minute sessions that will stretch you out and make you feel great!  

Running far less. If you are a regular runner, you probably run about the same distance daily and weekly. Try to vary your runs. Run shorter distances but run harder. Try to go up and down hills. Run slower at first than sprint at the end. This will build your cardio. 

All this to say: you can stay fit without spending your entire off time at the gym!

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago

Brighten Your Space: Creative Spring Home Decor Tips

living room interior with design sofa, furniture, tropical plants and decoration

Spring is a season of renewal and rejuvenation, making it the perfect time to refresh and brighten up your living space. As the days grow longer and nature comes to life, why not bring that sense of vitality indoors with creative spring home decor tips? From embracing light and color to incorporating nature-inspired elements, this article will guide you through ways to infuse your home with the spirit of spring. Whether you’re looking to embark on DIY projects, update your textiles and accents, maximize space with clever storage solutions, or revitalize your outdoor living areas, we’ve got you covered with ideas that will help you create a welcoming and vibrant atmosphere in your home. Let’s dive into the world of spring decor and discover how to transform your space into a bright and inspiring sanctuary.

Introduction to Spring Home Decor

Spring is the perfect time to freshen up your space and shake off the winter blues. Say goodbye to heavy blankets and dark colors, and hello to light, airy vibes. With a few simple tweaks, you can transform your home into a spring oasis.

Tips for Transitioning Your Home

Start by packing away those winter decorations and swapping them out for lighter, brighter pieces. Think floral prints, pastel colors, and natural textures. Don’t be afraid to mix and match to create a playful, eclectic look that screams springtime.

Benefits of Refreshing Your Space

Refreshing your space for spring isn’t just about aesthetics. Studies have shown that a clean, organized environment can improve your mood and boost productivity. By giving your space a seasonal update, you’re not just making it look good – you’re also creating a positive atmosphere that can improve your overall well-being.

Embracing Light and Color

When it comes to spring decor, light and color are your best friends. Embrace the season by bringing in pops of bright hues and letting natural light flood your home. Say goodbye to drab, dreary spaces and hello to a fresh, vibrant aesthetic.

Choosing a Spring Color Palette

Think soft pastels, vibrant greens, and cheerful yellows. Pick a color palette that reflects the blooming flowers and sunny skies of spring. Don’t be afraid to mix in some bold colors for a playful twist.

Utilizing Natural Light in Your Decor

Open up those curtains and let the sunshine in! Natural light not only brightens up your space but also has a mood-boosting effect. Arrange your furniture to make the most of those sunny rays and consider adding mirrors to amplify the light even more.

Bringing Nature Indoors

One of the best ways to embrace the spirit of spring is by bringing nature indoors. Whether it’s through plants, flowers, or nature-inspired decor elements, adding a touch of the outdoors can instantly liven up your space.

Incorporating Plants and Flowers

Greenery instantly adds life to any room. Whether you opt for a few potted plants or a big statement tree, plants not only look great but also purify the air and boost your mood. Don’t have a green thumb? Start with low-maintenance options like succulents or pothos.

Nature-Inspired Decor Elements

From botanical prints to wooden accents, nature-inspired decor elements can add warmth and texture to your space. Think wicker baskets, rattan furniture, or a leafy wallpaper for a touch of the great outdoors inside your home.

DIY Projects for a Fresh Look

Get creative this spring with some fun and easy DIY projects that will give your space a fresh makeover. Not only will you save some cash, but you’ll also have a unique, personalized home that reflects your style.

Easy Spring DIY Ideas

Try your hand at making your own floral wreath, painting some abstract art, or crafting a colorful macrame wall hanging. There are endless possibilities for DIY projects that can add a personal touch to your space.

Repurposing and Upcycling for Unique Decor

Get thrifty by repurposing old items into new decor pieces. Turn that vintage ladder into a plant stand, transform mason jars into stylish vases, or give that old dresser a fresh coat of paint. Upcycling not only gives new life to old items but also adds character and charm to your space.

Seasonal Textiles and Accents

Updating Throw Pillows and Blankets

Ready to give your space a fresh look for spring? Swap out those cozy winter throws for lighter, brighter options. Play with pastel colors, floral patterns, or even tropical prints to bring a touch of spring indoors.

Introducing Lightweight Fabrics and Patterns

Say goodbye to heavy drapes and hello to sheer curtains that let in the sunlight. Lightweight fabrics like linen or cotton can help create an airy atmosphere that’s perfect for the season. Consider adding in pops of color through rugs or small accent pieces to liven up your space.

Maximizing Space with Clever Storage Solutions

Multipurpose Furniture and Storage Ideas

Make the most of your space by investing in furniture that pulls double duty. Look for coffee tables with hidden storage compartments, ottomans that can store blankets, or wall-mounted shelves to keep clutter at bay. Clever storage solutions not only maximize space but also add a touch of functionality to your home.

Decluttering Tips for a Lighter, Airier Space

Spring is the perfect time to declutter and create a more spacious and organized living environment. Embrace the KonMari method and tackle one area at a time, donating or discarding items that no longer spark joy. Clear countertops, organize closets, and create designated storage spots to maintain a light and airy feel in your home.

Refreshing Your Outdoor Living Areas

Outdoor Furniture and Decor for Spring

Get your outdoor spaces ready for relaxation with new furniture and decor. Opt for durable materials like rattan or teak that can withstand the elements. Add pops of color with outdoor cushions, umbrellas, or even a vibrant outdoor rug to create a cozy and inviting atmosphere.

Creating Inviting Outdoor Spaces for Relaxation

Transform your outdoor areas into retreats where you can unwind and enjoy the fresh air. Incorporate comfortable seating options like loungers or swing chairs, along with ambient lighting and greenery for a tranquil vibe. Consider adding a small fire pit or outdoor heater to extend your outdoor enjoyment into the cooler spring evenings.

Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Spring Decor Ideas

Choosing Sustainable Materials and Products

Embrace sustainability in your decor choices by opting for eco-friendly materials like bamboo, cork, or recycled glass. Look for furniture pieces made from reclaimed wood or sustainable sources to reduce your environmental impact. Consider investing in energy-efficient lighting and appliances to further greenify your space.

DIY Eco-Friendly Decor Projects

Get creative with DIY projects that repurpose items or materials you already have on hand. Upcycle old jars into planters, create wall art from recycled materials, or make your own natural cleaning products using simple ingredients like vinegar and baking soda. Not only are DIY projects fun and budget-friendly, but they also allow you to add a personal touch to your space while being environmentally conscious.

As you embrace the beauty of spring in your home decor, remember that the essence of this season lies in renewal and growth. By incorporating these creative tips and ideas, you can infuse your living space with a sense of freshness and vitality that mirrors the world outside. Whether it’s adding a pop of color, bringing in natural elements, or decluttering for a lighter feel, each change you make contributes to a space that uplifts your spirits and rejuvenates your surroundings. So, as you embark on your spring decor journey, may your home become a sanctuary of beauty and tranquility, inspiring you to fully embrace the joys of the season within your own four walls.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Looking Forward to the Summer Season!

a child eating ice cream cone on the beach

Are you looking forward to the summer season?  Well, we’re getting closer so it’s time to begin our transition for the upcoming summer season beginning with this weekend’s festivities!

Gallagher Way (3635 N. Clark St.) in collaboration with Reduce Waste Chicago will be wrapping up Earth Month this Saturday (11 a.m.-4 p.m.) with The Trashy Earth Market 2024 in the Wrigleyville neighborhood.  This homemade craft fair features artisans who transform reclaimed materials into one-of-a-kind goods which include home goods, art, fashion, body care, and more.  New this year will be a live art installation (LOOM360) where attendees can bring one article of unwearable clothing or scrap textile to cut into ribbons and weave them into the 4-sided loom to create large and small tapestries.  Plus, you can drop off unwanted items for repurposing at the Reuse & Recycling Pop-Up.  Come show some love for our one-and-only planet!

Are you a Pickleholic?  If so, this Saturday (11 a.m.-6 p.m.) is for you as the Chicago Pickle Fest takes place at some of Wrigleyville’s top bars.  In honor of this tangy delicious treat, this street fest style party features pickle beer, pickle cocktails and mocktails, pickle-focused food, pickleback shots, live music, photo ops, and much more!  While wearing green is not required to attend this Fest, here in Chicago we like to do things right, so wearing green would be more fun and the right thing to do.  In fact, there will be so much food and fun to choose from, you’ll relish this day forever!

One of the largest pop culture conventions in the country returns to is old stomping grounds at McCormick Place (2301 S. Lake Shore Dr.) in the South Loop this Saturday (10 a.m.-7 p.m.) and Sunday (10 a.m.-5 p.m.) with the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2).  This Expo brings together creators, brands, and content creators to help celebrate pop culture where attendees can wander through a massive wonderland filled with comics, games, toys, movies, and television; attend live panels featuring the biggest names in the industry; meet your favorite C2E2 celebrities and voice actors for a photo op or autographs; search for one-of-a-kind merch; and much more.  Be sure to don your most creative and exquisite cosplay outfit because that’s what we do here in Chicago!

Join the 4th annual Run for Rosé 5K this Sunday (9 a.m.-12 p.m.) at BottlesUp! (3164 N. Broadway) in the Lakeview neighborhood as they raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter.  This 5K is a fun run/walk along the lake front with an after party at BottlesUp!  All participants will receive a Rosé tasting after the race with a commemorative wine glass, a “Run for Rosé” t-shirt, a Rosé swag bag, and more.  Time to lace up for a great cause!

Join the Solemn Oath Brewery (2919 W. Armitage Ave.) in the Logan Square neighborhood for their 5K Fun Run this Sunday at 11 a.m.  As part of the 2024 Illinois Brewery Running Series™, this 5K-ish course will take both seasoned runners and beginners through scenic routes before crossing the finish line where a refreshing brew awaits them.  All participants will also receive a choice of a collector’s pint glass or a seasonal swag item from the Brewery Running Series, a chance to win prizes, have access to event festivities like live music, games and goodies, and more.  Enjoy a fun-filled day of running, beer, and good vibes!

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Neighborhood News: The Joffrey Ballet-from New York to Chicago

ballet dancers posing in a ballet costumes

Considered one of the premier dance companies performing today, the Joffrey Ballet Chicago plays a vital role in the dance community as one of the largest dance companies and dance education providers in Chicago and the greater Midwest region.

For nearly 70 years, the company has earned a reputation for boundary-breaking performances, including its 1987 presentation of Vaslav Nijinsky’s‘The Rite of Spring,’ which reconstructed the original choreography from the 1913 premiere that was thought to be lost. Many choreographers have worked with the Joffrey, including Paul Taylor, Twyla Tharp, and George Balanchine.

The company performs contemporary ballets during its annual performance season at the Civic Opera House, including its annual presentation of The Nutcracker. 

New York beginnings

According to their website, young ballet dancers/instructors Robert Joffreyand Gerald Arpino opened the Joffrey Ballet School on Sixth Avenue in New York City’s Greenwich Village in 1953. Within a year, while still dancing and teaching, these two young, ambitious men debuted the Robert Joffrey Ballet Concert with performances at the 92nd St. YMCA. As Wikipedia sources note, in 1956, a time during which most touring companies performed only reduced versions of ballet classics,  The two innovators formed a six-dancer ensemble that toured the country in a station wagon pulling a U-Haul trailer, performing original ballets created by Joffrey. The original six dancers were Arpino, Dianne Consoer, Brunilda Ruiz, Glen Tetley, Beatrice Tompkins, and John Wilson. While Joffrey stayed in New York City to teach ballet classes and earn money to pay the dancers’ salaries, Arpino led the troupe. The ensemble first performed in Chicago in 1957.

A history of  ‘Firsts’

The entrepreneur troupe established numerous ‘firsts’ along the way:

The Joffrey was the first dance company to perform at the White House at Jacqueline Kennedy’s invitation, the first to appear on American television, the first classical dance company to use multi-media, the first to create a ballet set to rock music, the first to appear on the cover of TIME magazine, and the first company to have had a major motion picture based on their dance company in Robert Altman’s penultimate film, The Company, according to Wikipedia sources. In it, actor Malcolm McDowell played the ballet company’s artistic director, a character based on Gerald Arpino. Most of the roles are played by actual company members. 

Arpino would create nearly 50 ballets for The Joffrey Ballet, including landmark works like Trinity and Round of Angels to Suite Saint-Saëns and Light Rain. He passed away in 2008. Robert Joffrey died in 1988. 

Home to stay in Chicago  in 1995

As Wikipedia sources note, in 1995, the company left New York City for Chicago to establish a permanent residence here. The first few years in Chicago were financially arduous for the company, nearly causing it to close several times, but audiences later became larger and younger. In 2005, the Joffrey Ballet celebrated its 10th anniversary in Chicago and in 2007 concluded a two-season-long 50th-anniversary celebration, including a “River to River” tour of free, outdoor performances across Iowa, sponsored by Hancher Auditorium at the University of Iowa.

The company has an extensive touring schedule, an education program including the Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, Community Engagement program, and collaborations with other visual and performing arts organizations.

As the New York Times wrote on the company’s 50th Anniversary, the company’s 1995 re-establishment of itself as the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago — was “a daring if necessary move.” The troupe had had great success in touring engagements in Chicago over the years, but the city had the reputation of being tough on its own dance companies. “The company has been reborn here,” Hedy Weiss, the former dance and theater critic of The Chicago Sun-Times, said at the time.

In 2021, the Joffrey moved from the Auditorium Theater—where it had performed since 1998—to the Civic Opera House, 20 North Wacker Drive,  and their dance studios and offices at the Joffrey Tower, 10 East Randolph Street in downtown Chicago.

‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

This spring, Alexander Ekman’s ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is “a mind-bending trip to a surreal realm of unearthly delights. Set during the traditional Scandinavian summer solstice festival, dancers celebrate a day of revelry and romance under the maypole, which soon unravels into an otherworldly dream.” Performances will run through May 5. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Restaurant Review: Happy Passover Greetings!

passover seder plate with traditional food on stone background

My family’s ancestry includes many Jewish relatives, as we recently discovered through Ancestry.com. Last year, we celebrated with a special Passover Seder, home-made by my cousin and my kid, the two true ‘chefs’ in the family. However, Chicagoans are lucky to have many options for special celebrations throughout Passover Week. In 2024, the celebration began on Monday and lasts until April 30. 

What is Passover?

The holiday of Passover, according to JCC (Jewish Community Center) websites, commemorates the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. 

An essential part of the Seder is eating ritual foods symbolic of the journey from slavery to freedom:

  • Wine (four cups): symbols of joy
  • Bitter herbs: reminding us of the suffering of slavery
  • Green leafy vegetables: representing the growth of spring and the continuation of the Jewish people
  • Matzah (a thin, crisp unleavened bread): which is both the poor bread of slaves and the symbol of our freedom.

Chicago restaurants serving Passover meals  all week

While the first two days of Passover are primarily designated for special meals, a few Chicago restaurants are serving Passover meals throughout the eight-day celebration, April 22 to 30:

Take, for example, River North’s  Ema, the Mediterranean restaurant serving such specialties as Beef Brisket and Apple Matzoh Kugel, in addition to your mezze spread. Specials will be available for dine-in, carryout and delivery during dinner service. 

Kasia’s Deli in Ukrainian Village is also serving a Passover Dinner To-Go all week. For $30 per person, your family can feast on Matzo Ball Soup, your choice of Baked Wild-Caught Salmon with Spinach, Capers & Lemon or Roasted All-Natural Chicken Leg Quarter with Fresh Dill, served with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Cranberry Wild Rice, Latkes with Apples Sauce, Beets with Horseradish and Israeli Salad.

In Uptown,The Bagelis offering a $29 per person feast (dine-in only) of Golden Chicken Broth with Matzoh Ball OR a Salad with Oven-Baked Matzoh Dressing Old-Fashioned Macaroon; your choice of Oven-roasted Brisket of Beef au jus, Roasted Tender Spring Chicken, Wild Lake Superior Whitefish, or Sweet and Sour Meatballs.

Steingold’s of Chicago in Lincoln Parkhas puttogether a $150 Passover Package, which includes your choice of entrée, three sides, an edible Seder plate, a pound of Matzo with Sea Salt, Flourless Chocolate Cake and six Coconut Macaroons. Entrées include Whole Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Sumac, Braised Lamb Shank with Shawarma Spiced Dates, Saffron Poached Cod with Leaks, or Whole Roasted Eggplant with Pine Nut-Tahini Tarator Mujadara. Your three sides include a choice of Mujadara Rice Pilaf with Black Lentils and Caramelized Onions, Roasted Asparagus on Asparagus Baba with Preserved Lemon, Fingerling Potatoes with Roasted Garlic & Herbed Olive Oil, Arugula with Spring Radish, Strawberries & Pea Shoots with Avocado Dressing or Snap Peas & English Peas with Grilled Onions & Mint.

Helfeld’s Delicatessen and Catering  in Wicker Park is serving a Passover menu that includes ala carte selections of Roasted Brisket, Roasted Chicken, Gefilte Fish, and Glazed Chicken, Brussels Sprout Salad, Potato Kugel, and Apple Matzoh Kugel.

To all who celebrate…Chag Pesach sameach!

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Tips for Decluttering from Professional Organizers

stressed woman having to fold and arrange all her wardrobe

Organizing always comes up in the springtime. We often think of spring cleaning as a way to wake up after the long winter. What better time to get decluttered and organized? It’s also a good financial move too. How many times have you lost a bill under a pile of papers on your desk? Or replaced an item that you stumble upon later? When you declutter it saves time, it saves money and it saves stress. Here are 3 tips from pros to get started:

Start small. Professionals recommend this as a first step as we can become overwhelmed with an entire house of clutter. Taking “small bites” over a long period of time is much better than delaying forever and trying to tackle it on a weekend. Pick something small, a low stakes place like a linen closet, under the bathroom or kitchen sink, the pantry or a junk drawer. These are places where it’s easier to make decisions. Then you can prioritize. Which places are making you the craziest now? Find your point of pain and clear that area first.  

Discard with a purpose. Take stock of the area you are looking at. For instance: your bedroom closet. It’s for storing clothes and accessories to prepare for your day. Anything else in there doesn’t fit. You may be storing a box of knick knacks, or a pile of tote bags that need to find a new home. Also, any piece of clothing or footwear not worn in a year needs to be gone. Donate it or throw it out. Ask yourself, do I keep this because I love it or does it serve a vital purpose in my everyday life? If you’re feeling guilty or it’s not something relevant to your life you can let it go. Embrace where you are now. 

Create a system to keep on track. Now that you are all organized you don’t want to slide back into your old ways. Think about your spaces as finite containers. You can’t make the walls or your closets bigger. If you add something you have to take something out. Give your clutter a place to go. Keep a basket for incoming mail and set aside 2 times a week to go through it. Go paperless as much as possible. Set aside a space in your home and place a small bin there. If you see an item you think you don’t really need anymore, put it in there. When the bin is full take it to Goodwill and donate it! The items stay there for a bit and then it’s easier to just let them go. 

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago

Tips for Boosting Your Home’s Curb Appeal

close up of colorful flowerbed with persian onion star of persia

Enhancing your home’s curb appeal is not just about aesthetics; it’s a crucial aspect of creating a welcoming atmosphere and increasing property value. The exterior of your home is the first thing visitors and potential buyers see, making a lasting impression that can significantly impact perceptions. From landscaping and exterior features to entryways and lighting, there are various ways to boost your home’s curb appeal. In this article, we will explore practical tips and strategies to elevate the exterior of your home, making it more inviting and visually appealing.

Importance of Curb Appeal

First Impressions Matter

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and that holds true for your home too. Your house’s exterior is the first thing visitors and potential buyers see, so make it count.

Boosting Property Value

A well-maintained and visually appealing exterior can significantly increase your property’s value. Investing in curb appeal is not just about aesthetics; it’s a smart financial decision too.

Enhancing Landscaping and Exterior Features

Creating a Welcoming Front Yard

A beautifully landscaped front yard creates an inviting atmosphere. From manicured lawns to colorful flower beds, enhancing your landscaping can transform your home’s external charm.

Choosing the Right Plants and Flowers

Selecting plants and flowers that thrive in your climate and complement your home’s aesthetic can elevate its curb appeal. Don’t just plant pretty flowers; choose ones that are low-maintenance and suit your home’s style.

Updating Entryways and Doors

Adding a Fresh Coat of Paint

A fresh coat of paint on your front door can instantly update your home’s look. Choose a bold color to make a statement or opt for a classic hue for a timeless appeal.

Upgrading Hardware and Fixtures

Updating door hardware, house numbers, and lighting fixtures can enhance the overall look of your entryway. Small changes can make a big difference in creating a polished and cohesive exterior.

Freshening Up Exterior Surfaces

Power Washing and Repainting

Give your home a facelift by power washing dirty surfaces and repainting faded areas. A clean and well-maintained exterior not only looks better but also helps protect your home from the elements.

Repairing Siding and Trim

Check for any damaged siding or trim and repair or replace them as needed. A well-maintained exterior not only boosts curb appeal but also prevents potential issues down the line.

Adding Outdoor Lighting

Lighting up your outdoor space not only enhances its beauty but also adds a layer of security to your home.

Highlighting Key Features

Strategic outdoor lighting can emphasize the best features of your home, such as architectural details, trees, or pathways, creating a welcoming ambiance after the sun sets.

Choosing Energy-Efficient Options

Opt for energy-efficient lighting solutions like LED bulbs or solar-powered fixtures to save on electricity costs while being environmentally conscious.

Maintaining Cleanliness and Organization

A neat and well-organized exterior not only looks appealing but also sets a positive impression for visitors and passersby.

Decluttering Outdoor Spaces

Clear out any unnecessary items, trim overgrown bushes, and keep walkways free from obstructions to create a clutter-free and inviting outdoor environment.

Regular Maintenance Practices

Establish a routine for tasks like mowing the lawn, cleaning the gutters, and power washing surfaces to keep your home looking sharp and well-maintained.

Incorporating Seasonal Decor

Switching up your outdoor decor with the seasons adds a festive touch and keeps your home looking fresh and up-to-date.

Festive Touches for Every Season

From wreaths and pumpkins to holiday lights and seasonal flowers, rotating decorations throughout the year can bring a celebratory vibe to your home’s exterior.

Storing Decorations Properly

Invest in proper storage solutions to keep seasonal decorations in good condition for future use, ensuring they stay looking their best year after year.

Investing in Professional Services

Sometimes, bringing in experts can take your home’s curb appeal to the next level, saving you time and achieving a polished finish.

Hiring a Landscape Designer

A professional landscape designer can help you create a cohesive and visually appealing outdoor space tailored to your style and preferences.

Working with Exterior Painters or Contractors

Whether it’s refreshing the exterior paint or making structural improvements, collaborating with skilled painters or contractors can elevate your home’s curb appeal while ensuring quality workmanship.

By implementing these tips for enhancing your home’s curb appeal, you can transform the look and feel of your property, creating a welcoming and attractive exterior that reflects pride of ownership. Whether you choose to invest in professional services or take on improvement projects yourself, the effort put into enhancing curb appeal will not only impress guests but also potentially increase the value of your home. With a little creativity and attention to detail, your home can make a lasting impression that leaves a positive impact on all who pass by.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Playing or Working? Your Choice!

three cartoon stickmen with closed eyes dancing

Don’t look now but there’s another weekend upon us!  How will you be spending yours?  Playing or working?  If you choose to play, here are some suggestions!

Something strange is afoot at the Field Museum and Watson Adventures needs your assistance at their 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 to solve the mystery of staffers being bumped off as they try to acquire a sacred Egyptian relic.  Your team will need to uncover the museum’s secrets to stop the killings by cracking a hieroglyphic code and questioning a suspect.  You’ll also need to explore an Egyptian tomb, interrogate spirits of the dead in the South Pacific, barge into a cocktail hour at an African watering hole, and more.  This challenging hunt is a great way to enjoy the best of the museum’s exhibits!

Returning for another fun spring market with 25 local artisan makers is the Ravenswood Makers Market this Saturday (1 p.m.-6 p.m.) at Kovall Distillery (4241 N. Ravenswood Ave.) in the Ravenswood neighborhood.  This market offers a wide variety of handmade and vintage goods which include original art, paintings, clothing, jewelry, home décor, soap, candles, and much more.  This event is also free to attend as well as being a family-friendly event, but due to the nature of the venue, alcohol will be available for purchase for those 21+.  I can think of no better way to shop than with a delicious cocktail in hand!

Returning for its 10th season this Saturday (5 p.m.-10 p.m.) with an inspired spring greening night market, SAUCED Night Market is being held at Half Acre Brewery (2050 W. Balmoral Ave.) in the Lincoln Square neighborhood.  More than 50 vendors will be on hand selling their handmade goods, vintage clothing, jewelry, prints, and more treasures with a special emphasis on cannabis-related products.  Plus, local eateries like Soul & Smoke will be serving up food for your munchies along with beats from DJ Johnny Walkers to work off the calories you just consumed!

Calling all grilled cheese lovers!  This Saturday Cheesie’s Pub & Grill (1365 N. Milwaukee Ave.) in the Wicker Park neighborhood will be hosting along with Bucket Listers a Grilled Cheese Fest with two sessions (11 a.m.-2 p.m. & 3 p.m.-6 p.m.).  Ticket holders will be able to sample a variety of mouthwatering, gooey grilled cheese sandwiches complemented by bottomless tomato soup.  In addition, a variety of competitions will be held such as a grilled cheese eating contest, naming of the sandwich of the month contest, and more as well as games such as spin the wheel, throw cheese, and much more for prizes then capping off the night with a screening of the classic film “Half Baked!”

Did you know that the State of Illinois is one of the largest rum consumer markets in the U.S.?  That’s why the experts at the Rum Lab will be hosting the 8th annual Chicago Rum Festival this Saturday (1:30 p.m.) at the Logan Square Auditorium (2539 N. Kedzie Blvd.) in the Logan Square neighborhood.  This boutique-style event will showcase a handful of brands for the Grand Tasting and seminar events.  Four different ticket options are available as you work your way through a variety of rum expressions, accompanied by complimentary snacks and live music.  Plus, all attendees will receive a three-ounce souvenir cup!

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Neighborhood News: Everything’s looking up for the Chicago Sky’s future

3D illustration of basketballs on a black background

Two days after the 2024 WNBA Draft, the Chicago Tribune reported a surge in ticket sales for the Chicago Sky, the 18-year-old WNBA franchise that brought a championship to this city, led by Naperville native and WNBA starCandace Parker, in 2021.

The excitement is building for the Sky’s19th WNBA season, welcoming new Head Coach Teresa “Spoon”  Weatherspoon, thefive-time WNBA All-Star and New Orleans Pelicans Assistant Coach, and General Manager Jeff Pagliocca. On Monday, April 15, the Sky drafted Kamilla Cardoso, the 6’7  centerfrom the University of South Carolina with the 3rd overall pick, 6’3  LSU standoutforwardAngel Reese at #7, and 6’0 guard Brynna Maxwell from Gonzaga University with the 13th overall pick.

The Sky finished the 2023 season with a record of 18-22, and clinched their fifth straight postseason berth.

We are beyond excited,” Chicago Sky General Manager Jeff Pagliocca said. “This is who we were so excited to get at number three. She has everything we want at six foot seven. She is athletic, a great person, a great teammate, she comes from a winning program and we cannot wait to get her here to Chicago.*

 Cardoso was the 2024 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) NCAA Division I Defensive Player of the Year, averaging 15 2.5 blocks per game, and led the Gamecocks in points (14.4 ppg), rebounds (9.7 rpg), blocks (82 total), and field goal percentage (59.4%). 

Of Reese, Pagliocca said, “She is a relentless rebounder, she is a national champion (2023) and an SEC Player of the Year and we cannot wait to see her here in Chi Town.”  Reese averaged 23.0 points, 15.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.6 blocks in her junior season, and she recorded 15 points and 10 rebounds in the title-clinching game over Iowa in 2023. 

Maxwell was a five-year starter with Gonzaga and Utah. She averaged 12.9 points while shooting 42.7% from three on 5.7 attempts across 154 collegiate appearances (128 starts).

“We strongly feel that Brynna is the best shooter in the nation,”  Pagliocca said.

In the beginning…

The Chicago SIn February 2005, NBA Commissioner David Stern announced that Chicago had been awarded a new WNBA franchise, which was owned, then as now, by Chicago businessman Michael Alter.  Forrmer NBA player and coach Dave Cowens was announced as the team’s first head coach and general manager, and games would be played at the UIC Pavilion. Then- team President and CEO Margaret Stender explained the team colors of yellow and blue represent “[a] beautiful day in Chicago between the blue sky and bright sunlight to highlight the spectacular skyline,” according to Wikipedia sources. 

In the 2006 WNBA draft the team selected forward Candice Dupree of Temple University with the sixth overall pick. Dupree earned WNBA All-Rookie honors after averaging 13.7 points per game in 2006. However, the Sky struggled to a 5–29 record, and Cowens departed at the end of the season.

As reported by Brittanica.com, the Sky improved its record over the next several seasons but continued to miss the playoffs. Former Louisiana State University coachPokey Chatman took over as head coach of the Sky in 2011. In 2013 she guided the Sky to a 24–10 record and its first playoff appearance. Chicago advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals before losing to the Indiana Fever. Although the Sky managed only a 15–19 record in 2014, the team qualified for the playoffs and went on to capture the Eastern Conference title behind the stellar play of forward-guard Elena Delle Donneand center Sylvia Fowles. In the WNBA finals Chicago l to the Phoenix Mercury in three of five game series.

In 2010, the Sky moved their games from the UIC Pavilion to Allstate Arena, where they remained until Wintrust Arena was built in the South Loop. They 

In 2015 Delle Donne was selected as the WNBA’s Most Valuable Player (MVP). She led the league in scoring that season, averaging 23.4 points per game, and spearheaded the Sky’s run to the Eastern Conference semifinals, where the team again fell to Indiana. Chicago traded Delle Donne to the Washington Mystics in early 2017. Two losing seasons followed, but the team posted a winning record and made the playoffs in both 2019 and 2020. But during this time, they strengthened their roster with players like future All-Stars Allie Quigley and Courtney Vandersloot, who later married and were key players in their run to the championship. 

In February 2021 the Sky signed two-time league MVP Candace Parker to a two-year contract. Although the Sky finished the regular season with a 16–16 record, the team earned a playoff berth and reached the league finals again. There, the Sky defeated the Phoenix Mercury in four games to secure the first championship in franchise history. In 2022 the Sky posted a 26–10 record, which tied the Las Vegas Aces for the best record in the league, but Chicago was upset in the second round of the WNBA playoffs.

The Chicago Sky tip off the 2024 regular-season on Wednesday, May 15 against the Dallas Wings in Dallas at 7:00 p.m. For tickets and information, click here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Restaurant Review: Chicago Loop’s Russian Tea Time is a walk through culture, time

tea in a glass with a bage in the russian style

“So, where would you like to celebrate your birthday?” I asked my teenager.  After some thought and research, they said, “I’d like to go to an afternoon tea.”

Fortunately  we live in a city with many tea rooms and afternoon tea offerings, for all types of budgets. My kid chose Russian Tea Time, just steps from the Art Institute of Chicago, which has been serving Chicagoans since 1993. I made a reservation for the five of us for a Saturday afternoon. 

Upon entering, we were immediately impressed by the richness of its red gold interior and the displays of Eastern European art and artifacts. (NOTE: don’t miss their collection of artfully decorated samovars and Ukrainian dolls!) They contrasted nicely with the mahogany and birchwood finishes of the tables, chairs and trim. It’s cozy and comfortable, yet elegant, though formal wear isn’t required.

Once seated, we looked at the enormous menu, featuring  dozens of teas of all kinds….white, green , black, chai…fruit blends! May I recommend to one and all their House Tea. Made Eastern European -style, it’s a strong black tea with black currants, served in a decorative glass, which hold heat remarkably well . All five of us couldn’t get enough of it! We also tried the passion fruit and Moroccan mint tea to similar applause.

There are enough tea service combinations to satisfy the pickiest of palates. The menu offers sweets, savories and combinations of the above. The Queen Tea Service, served on a three-tiered wrought iron tray, combines them all, and ordering two Queen’s Teas were plenty for our table, 

We started, as our server instructed, with the bottom tray (Beginnings,) where scones and crepes were served with a sweet/savory sour cream and strawberry jam, and most unusually, salmon roe. The small bubbles of roe were unique and had a similar texture to boba. We tried it on the non-sweet scones for an unusual and flavorful treat. The accompanying crepes were thin and folded like a handkerchief, which made a perfect pocket for the jam and cream. 

Next up were the Savories…an assortment of tea sandwiches, which included a light and delicious red salmon roll, chicken croissant, and egg salad on a combination of dark rye and white bread, as well as the expected cucumber finger sandwich, which was lightly vinagered and sweetened. We truly enjoyed all of the offerings, and if you ever need to know what you’re eating,  your server is happy to explain.

And the Sweets ..oh, the sweets! My favorite was a toss-up between the lighter than air, fluffy cheesecake and their tricolored mousse, which was extraordinary. Multilayered honey cake was a close second. But you can’t go wrong with anything, and sharing is encouraged. We were so full by then, we couldn’t make it through the pink tea cake that completed our sweet tray. But I’m sure it was delicious. 

Russian Tea Time is the brainchild of owner and chef, Klara Muchnik, and her son, Vadim. They are located at 77 E. Adams Street, and are open for Afternoon Tea Service Monday-Sunday from 11am-5pm. They are also open for lunch and dinner Mondays & Sundays: 11am – 6pm. Tuesdays – Saturdays: 11am – 8pm. Reservations are highly recommended, and can be made by clicking here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago