THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Getting Through Another Chicago Winter!

Unhappy doodle boy in a warm jacket, scarf and coat walks through a blizzard and snowfall

Now that the Holiday Season is behind us, it’s time for Chicagoans to get through another Chicago winter by attending weekend winter events that have been planned for us!  Here’s what’s scheduled for this weekend.

Is one of your New Year’s goals to travel more?  Well, it just so happens that the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center (Hall F) located at 5555 North River Road in Rosemont will be hosting the 19th annual Chicago Travel & Adventure Show this weekend.  The event features four theaters on the show floor where you can learn the latest top travel tips, advice, and trends from travel experts across the globe at over 60 travel seminars; discover thousands of the newest vacation options from more than 250 of the top destinations, cruise lines, travel providers, and tour companies; and have access to major travel discounts, trip giveaways, and exclusive show-only deals.  Get ready to pack your bags and achieve your goal!

Is buying a boat one of your New Year’s goals?  Guess what?  The Discover® Boating Chicago Boat Show has sailed into McCormick Place South (2301 S. Lake Shore Dr.) in the South Loop this weekend to welcome both boat enthusiasts and newcomers to discover why life is better on the water.  This gigantic expo features a wide selection of the latest power boats, yachts, pontoons and more; an abundance of must-see attractions; and fun features for all ages that includes a paddle sports pool at the Discover Boating Beach Club, a new Bumper Boats pool, and more.  Remember, it’s never too early to explore and plan your next boating adventure for the upcoming summer season!

As we await Opening Day of our baseball season at the Friendly Confines, which is still a few months away, this weekend brings us the 37th Cubs Convention to the Sheraton Grand Chicago Riverwalk (301 E. North Water St.) in the Streeterville neighborhood.  As usual, this convention brings together the fans, players, legends, and the front office for a day filled with festivities and special experiences.  Your unforgettable winter weekend event includes panel discussions, player meet and greets, autograph sessions, interactive exhibits, Cubs Authentics auctions, Cubs Bingo – a fan-favorite, and much more.  Plus, if you’re a season ticket holder, there’s more exclusive experiences for you!

Are you a fan of scavenger hunts?  It just so happens that Watson Adventures will be hosting its Twisted Science Scavenger Hunt this Saturday (2 p.m.-4 p.m.) at the Museum of Science & Industry (57th St. and Lake Shore Dr.) in the Hyde Park neighborhood.  All that’s required is for you to follow some clever clues and answer some tricky, humorous questions.  You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to win.  You just need a set of sharp eyes and great teamwork as you explore many of the museum’s crazy, amazing, and amusing sights and facts!  Please note that advance ticket purchase is required.

It’s time again for the 2nd annual NA Day this Saturday at the Loft on Lake (1366 W. Lake St.) in the West Loop.  You ask, “What is NA Day?”  It’s Chicago’s Non-Alcoholic tasting event!  There will be two sessions:  12 p.m.-2 p.m. or 3 p.m.-5 p.m.  This event is mirrored after a traditional craft beer fair or wine festival where a wide variety of non-alcoholic beers, wines, and spirits will be showcased by big-name brands such as Ritual Zero Proof, Liquid Death, and others.  You know, Non-Alcoholic drinks are quickly becoming the latest growing sector of the beverage industry!

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Neighborhood News: Chicago Loop’s Medieval Torture Museum

Medieval torture chamber with stocks and trunk of the executioner

“Enter the minds of fanatics, madmen, and murderers, and discover the world’s most detailed collection of confinement and torture devices.”

Medieval Torture Museum website

If. You. Dare.

Now that we’re in the doldrums of winter, it’s time to shake up your life with new adventures, new resolutions, and most importantly, new experiences!

For a memorable January 2024, I can’t think of anything more interesting than learning about medieval torture. Especially when it comes complete with interactive exhibits, gory heads and twisted devices from many centuries ago. 

DO YOU KNOW ….

  • How to ride a ‘Wooden Horse?’
  • What country used a ‘Bloody Eagle’ as a means of execution?
  • What the ‘Cradle of Judah’ is?

You can find the answers, and so much more, at the bizarre, twisted, macabre, and delightfully informative Medieval Torture Museum. Located in a building connected to the Chicago Theater at 177 N. State Street, it’s the largest interactive museum of its kind in the U.S., and was inspired by museums in Europe that allow visitors to experience “the emotional side of the torture chamber,” according to a Chicago Readerprofile.

“Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it”

The idea of creating a museum where visitors could feel the emotional side of the torture chamber, according to Wikipedia sources, was inspired by a visit to the torture museum in the Czech Republic, where “there was only old, dilapidated equipment that was exhibited behind glass.”

As the Chicago Loop Alliance notes, the Museum’s curators based their exhibits on historical documents and engravings. A team of scientists, historians, decorators and sculptors have worked on creating a unique collection consisting of several hundred pieces filling more than 6,000-square feet.

The first museum opened in St. Augustine, Florida in 2019. In the fall of 2021, Chicago became the second location for the Museum, having amassed an unprecedented collection of cruelty, re-creating the atmosphere that prevailed throughout most of the Middle Ages.

Kid n’ Play

While you can play the role of ‘executioners’ and ‘victims.’ sit in the ‘spiked chair of inquiries,’ pose in a “barrel for drunkards,” or weigh yourself on special scales.  There, you can determine if you too heavy to be deemed a witch!

You can also try on the aforementioned ’Spanish boot,’ stand in the pillory, and drown a witch in a barrel of water.

Fun, Medieval style! 

Not surprisingly, the Medieval Torture Museum has rules…. it’s not recommended for kids under 18 without an adult. Also, children under the age of 10 are admitted free of charge as long as they are accompanied by a dedicated adult (1 adult to 1 child). They are open Monday – Thursday, 10am-8pm, and Friday – Sunday, 10am-9pm. For tickets and more information, click here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Restaurant Review: Rick Bayless’ Topolobampo in River North still delivers!

Traditional Mexican Woven Basket, Chili Peppers, Avocado and Traditional Traditional Rustic Clay Jarritos Jug on Mexican Floral Background

While many of Chef Rick Bayless contemporaries have ridden off into the sunset, the ‘Top Chef’ Master continues to turn out authentic, fresh, original Mexican cuisine, earning praise from Michelin, writing cookbooks, hosting TV shows with his daughter (PBS’s “Mexico, One Plate at a Time,’) and overseeing seven highly rated restaurants. 

It has to help that Bayless’ first two restaurants, Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, stand side by side in River North. Less travel!

How it all began

Bayless started in 1987 with the casual Frontera Grill which earned James Beard Foundation’s highest award, Outstanding Restaurant, in 2007, via their website.  The Michelin-starred Topolobampo served its first meals in 1991, and earned the Beard Foundation’s award for Outstanding Restaurant in 2017 — a unprecedented feat for side-by-side restaurants.  

Topolo, as it’s nicknamed, presents Mexican cuisine “through a contemporary, fine-dining lens, while bringing vibrant excitement and adventure that is sure to enchant even the most experienced culinary travelers.”

Topolobampo is run by Bayless’ veteran Chef de Cuisine Meagan O’Connor and Pastry Chef Jennifer Enyart, both of whom have accompanied Chef Rick Bayless throughout Mexico.

Today: A Six-Course Tasting Menu 

Right now, Topolobampo is featuring a six-course tasting menu. Start with Betabel, Jamón, Calamondin, which features Chef Meagan’s famous chewy beets, Gunthorp 3-year-aged ham, Jamaica-braised fennel, local jicama, calamondin-peanut dressing, and finger limes.

The tasting continues with Tetela, Mole Verde Oaxaqueño, which is crispy, two-tone triangular tetala (blue & white corn masa), Chiapas doble crema cheese filling, Oaxacan green mole (tomatillo, hoja santa, porcini broth), braised beauty heart radish, charred rooftop baby turnips, and Bayless garden herbs.

The third tasting course is Caldo de Mariscos Lujoso, which pairs smoked monkfish cheeks with razor clam, Louisiana lump crab, chayote, guajillo-tomato broth with epazote (Mexican tea.)

You may want to stop, but remember…they’ve been doing this over 30 years, and very successfully! Your fourth tasting course is Barbacoa de Borrego, a slow-cooked Gunthorp lamb barbacoa (red chile adobo, avocado leaf), grilled lamb loin, classic Oaxacan black beans with asiento (pig lard), and chile mixe salsa.

By the fifth course, you may be slowing down, but take time to savor Queso, Fruta & Buñuelo, a walnut-crusted, savory cheesecake (with Topolobampo’s exclusive Bola Roja aged goat cheese), braised quince, “ponche” gelatinas, and crispy buñuelo de viento with piloncillo drizzle.

And finally, as we always say when it’s warranted “Save room for dessert!” Chocolate, Mole Negro pairs Rompope mousse with cacao-espresso crumble, Mexican cacao nib ice cream, bittersweet chocolate pudding, and Oaxacan black mole. 

The experts speak 

Google reviews were mostly gushy.

“Exceptional. We attended Topolobambo for the first time for their Day of the Dead menu. From the service to the wine selection to the tasting menu, every aspect of the experience was phenomenal. We were thrilled to see Rick Bayless present and speaking with patrons. Some highlights for us were the Pipian and the (off menu surprise) machaca tacos. Highly recommended.”

Topolobampo is located at 445 N. Clark Street. On Wednesday and  Thursday, their first seating is at 6pm, and their final seating at 8:30pm. Fridays and Saturdays, his first seating at 5:30pm, and the final seating is at 9pm. For reservations, click here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – New Year-less stuff

Donating Decluttering And Cleaning Up Wardrobe Clothes

So many of us have decluttering as one of our main goals for the New Year. But it can be a daunting task. We want to start out and just get it all done now! You dive in headfirst and then get frustrated quickly. The problem is you don’t have a plan. You must decide your objectives and then make a schedule and a plan of action. 

First thing is to start small. Want to go through your closet? Get yourself 3 decent sized boxes. Designate one as discard, the next as keep, and the last as donate. Next give yourself a time limit. Start with 30 minutes. Anyone can work for 30 minutes, and you’ll be surprised at how much you can do in that short time. Start at one end and work your way through. Be ruthless, no more than 15 seconds to decide where something goes. If you haven’t worn it in a year, gone! This works for clothes in dressers as well. After your 30-minute timer goes off you are done for now. Keep going if you feel like it. Time another 15 minutes. 

The small start works great in the kitchen too. One drawer or a single cabinet at a time does not seem like such a large task. Use the same rule here. Haven’t used a utensil or a pot in a year? Discard or donate! Discriminate when donating. Nobody wants a scratched-up frying pan or chipped dishes. Only donate good usable items. The refrigerator is another big task. One day go through condiments and other things that live in the fridge. Check dates. Next time, pull out everything in the door. Wash all parts in dish soap, rinse and dry before putting back. Next time, the rest of the inside. Do the freezer next, rotating everything and discarding anything older than 6 months. 

Big places like basements and garages can be done the same way. Break down into small areas. Again, give yourself a time limit so you don’t get overwhelmed. These tasks can take several months to complete, that’s ok. It took years to accumulate this stuff so it’s going to take some time to get rid of it. Remember, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago

How Real Estate Can Generate Income For Your Retirement

Saving investment banking finance concept. Stack of coins with piggy bank on the table

A steady, predictable, and adequate income stream throughout retirement is a must for anyone in their Golden Years who wants to live comfortably long after they’ve said goodbye to their careers. But without a decent pension, considerable savings, or sizeable dividends from investment vehicles, having the pool of income needed to keep up a certain lifestyle after retirement can be downright difficult.

Luckily, real estate investments offer another lucrative and attainable channel to pad retirement funds.

Collecting Passive Income From Rental Properties

While high investment risk is something that a thirty-something might be able to tolerate, it’s not something to toy with once retirement hits. The goal at this point is to protect your invested capital while generating an income stream at the same time.

Investing in real estate provides opportunities to deliver cash returns, whereby you continue to generate cash flow from your capital contribution. Ideally, real estate investing can provide you with the cash dividends necessary to not only cover operating expenses, but expand your bottom at the same time.

If done right, real estate investing can bring in a steady stream of income no matter what current economic conditions are like, unlike the stock market. They can appreciate over time, leaving you with a comfortable financial cushion to rest on in retirement.

One of the best sources of passive income comes from rental properties, be they commercial or residential. And if you are financially secure and have some time to play with before entirely depending on your rental income to sustain your livelihood, you don’t necessarily have to generate a profit right away in order to make the investment of an income-producing property worth your while.

Now is still an ideal time to purchase rental properties, as interest rates are still low and rents continue to increase in many areas.

While you can always play the stocks to a great deal of success, there’s something inherently safe about real estate investment that is almost a sure shot if you play your cards right. Investing in real estate offers a lot more control over property appreciation compared to the stock market because you have a hand at boosting its value, and in turn, its income.

Rents are always going to increase, and the value of real estate is almost always going to go up as well. Not only will you be collecting residual income from rent, you’ll also be reaping the rewards of an increase in equity without hardly lifting a finger. As you pay down the principal portion of your mortgage, the equity will continue to build.

Eventually, you’ll have enough to potentially borrow against the equity in the property in order to finance some of life’s major expenses, or even finance another real estate investment altogether. Of course, the earlier you start investing in real estate for retirement income, the better. 

At some point, your income will steadily climb over time, even if you’re only seeing a marginal profit at the beginning.

Tax Breaks Accompany Rental Properties

You should also consider the tax breaks that you’ll be able to take advantage of as an owner of a real estate investment property. The IRS allows property investment owners to depreciate the building portion of the property over 27.5 years, which means a lot of your cash flow can avoid the tax man.

Of course, such depreciation will have to be recaptured if you ever sell the property in the future. But if you keep the property for life, and you outright own it when you pass away, that depreciation no longer exists. Anyone who inherits the property from you won’t be stuck with paying it. 

Know Before You Buy

There are obviously specific traits that will make one investment property trump another when it comes to profitability: single or multifamily homes in a desirable area is key.

The average investor should also be prepared to buy and hold for the long haul, particularly if the market is somewhat unstable. Properties that are able to bring in a minimum of 6 percent positive cash flow – after costs – should be focused on in order to make sure that more risk is being taken on than necessary.

Even if you plan on bringing a property management company on board to deal with the building and tenants, it’s still best if you can keep an eye on it yourself. That means buying in a location that you can easily get to. 

Of course, before buying anything, make sure you hire a home inspector to uncover any expensive potential repairs, such as replacing the roof or rewiring the entire property. Determine what the forecasted monthly costs will be (on top of your mortgage payments), including insurance, property taxes, maintenance fees, and vacancy rates.

Making sure the numbers work in your favor is key to ensuring the investment will be a profitable one. There needs to be a big enough rental income stream to cover all the expenses related to holding and maintaining a real estate investment property. Determine whether or not the actual market rent that can be realistically demanded is at or above the going rental rates.

Your real estate agent will be able to tell you how much nearby rental properties of similar size command, which will give you an idea of how much positive cash flow you can realistically generate each month. These professionals will also be able to fill you in on how long it takes for vacant rental properties to find renters, and how fast they appreciate in the event that you consider selling.

Real estate is typically an excellent investment vehicle for retirement, and if you do your due diligence, it can really pay off.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Closing Out Another Holiday Season!

A beagle dog in a Santa Claus hat with balloons with the number 2024 for the new year

Chicago’s Holiday Season of 2023 will officially be closing out this first weekend of 2024 – Happy New Year!  So, there’s still time to enjoy the remaining holiday events around town, especially if you didn’t have an opportunity to do so earlier.

It’s the final weekend for ZooLights, one of Chicago’s favorite holiday traditions, at the Lincoln Park Zoo (2400 N. Cannon Dr.) in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.  Besides featuring over 2.5 million LED lights, this year’s event includes new and exciting artistic/interactive displays and programming; a holiday light tunnel; and a 65-foot Ferris wheel for incredible views.  Plus, there’s plenty of glow toys, hot chocolate, and snacks at stands throughout the park along with fire pits for roasting s’mores!

During baseball’s off season, where can one go to step foot on a baseball field?  To Winterland at Gallagher Way of course!  The Chicago Cubs’ friendly confines will keep its doors open this final weekend for its annual holiday extravaganza with wintry attractions that include an ice rink, ice bumper cars, on-field games, carnival rides, a miniature train, and more.  Being on the field, instead of in the stands, is an experience you’ll never forget!  I sure didn’t!!

Experience a timeless holiday tale like never before at “The Immersive Nutcracker: A Winter Miracle” brought to life on a majestic scale.  This 30-minute adaptation takes place at Lighthouse Art Space (108 W. Germania Pl.) in the Old Town neighborhood this Saturday and Sunday only.  As viewers are guided through this abbreviated version of the tale, Tchaikovsky’s soundtrack will be providing his famous score with the likes of “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” and “The March of the Toys”.  It’s an event for the entire family!

Done with the holiday season?  Perhaps the following events will inspire you.

A once-in-a-lifetime event is taking place at the Exhibition Hub Art Center Chicago (2367 W. Logan Blvd.) in the Bucktown neighborhood now through January 22nd.  Come celebrate the 100th anniversary of The Walt Disney Company at Disney 100:  The Exhibition which has been capturing the hearts of all ages from around the globe.  This exhibit not only showcases Disney’s storied history but also features ten interactive installations, over 250 artifacts and works of art, costumes, props, and incredible memorabilia!  Plus, guests can purchase exclusive merchandise from the gift shop as well as take photos in front of enticing backdrops.  It’s a day for Disney fans to rejoice!

Experience lots of hands-on excitement at the Model Train Experience this Saturday (12 p.m.-4 p.m.) at the Historic Pullman Exhibit Hall (11141 S. Cottage Grove Ave.) in the Pullman neighborhood.  It’s an awesome display of vintage Lionel trains offering hundreds of feet of track and four unique set-ups which includes the Polar Express exhibit!  Do you know which role the Pullman community played in the making of the Polar Express Christmas classic?  You’ll have to attend to find out!

Do you know whose 77th birthday it is on January 6th?  To honor this legend’s special day, the Metro located at 3730 North Clark Street in the Wrigleyville neighborhood will be hosting the Bowie Ball this Saturday from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.  To help celebrate the life and music of David Bowie, this bash features glittery specialty cocktails, projection mapping, drag and burlesque performances, a Special Club Bowie DJ set by DJ Heaven Malone, and much more!  And don’t forget to dress up in your most outrageous, glammed-up Bowie outfit for the occasion!

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Neighborhood News:  Logan Square a mecca of trendy, arty, gracious living

As Choose Chicago notes, Logan Square is a thriving, multi-cultural community of arts organizations, intimate music venues, locally owned shops, trendy cocktail bars, and beyond. Its creative energy and urban vibe make it a go-to for locals looking for ’the next cool thing.”

The streets are bounded by the Metra/Milwaukee District North Line railroad on the west, the North Branch of the Chicago River on the east, Diversey Parkway on the north, and the 606 (also known as the Bloomingdale Trail) on the south. The area is characterized by the prominent historical boulevards, stately greystones and large bungalow-style homes.

Parks, Recreation and “Strolling the Boulevard”

The best way to see Logan Square is to “walk the boulevards.” 

When you stroll down stately Logan Boulevard, you can visit the soaring Illinois Centennial Monument, built in 1918 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Illinois’ statehood, and designed by the same architect who created the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. It’s also home to the award-winning Logan Square Farmer’s Market,  open May-October, which features some of the region’s best vendors.

One of the largest parks in Logan Square is Palmer Square Park. Spanning almost eight acres, and open from 6am until 11pm seven days a week, this outdoor space is a resident favorite. Whimsical and perfect for all locals, top amenities include a Velveteen Rabbit themed playground, a running track, and space to walk the dog. 

History of Logan Square 

Named for General John A. Logan, an American soldier and political leader, Logan Square was prairieland that was eventually bought up by private landowners, according to a WTTW-Channel 11 profile. The Encyclopedia of Chicago notes that, in the mid-1800s, railroads starting operating through Logan Square, and industry began to pop up as the neighborhood developed. Because the community was outside of the city’s fire limits at the time, the immigrant population grew after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, since they were able to build homes with more affordable materials. 

By 1889, according to a history by the University of Chicago, the entirety of Logan Square had been annexed by the city of Chicago, and the L train system made its way over to the neighborhood shortly thereafter. With the presence of an L station, more houses appeared along the main boulevards within Logan Square. The neighborhood had another significant bout of development after World War I when an influx of Poles and Russian Jews was followed by a boom in housing construction.

Decline and Rebirth 

While the University of Chicago history notes that Logan Square, along with the rest of the city, experienced a decline in population in the 1930’s, beginning in the 1960s, Logan Square began to see an influx of Hispanic immigrants and residents, thus shifting the demographic of the population. By the 1990s, over two-thirds of Logan Square was Hispanic, with large Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central American, and Mexican populations. Alongside this steady stream of Hispanic immigrants, young professionals began purchasing property in the neighborhood. 

The nearby presence of artist-heavy Bucktown also helped to spark regrowth and development. All in all, despite a period of deterioration, Logan Square returned to being one of Chicago’s many influential, diverse, and culturally rich neighborhoods.

Today

Choose Chicago notes that Logan Square is a mecca for seasonal, locally sourced meals at neighborhood favorite Lula Café, a pioneer of the farm-to-table movement, as well as housemade pasta at Daisies, refined Greek favorites in a lush atmosphere at Andros Taverna, rooftop tacos and margaritas at Lonesome Rose, and Alpine-inspired small plates on the hidden patio at Table, Donkey and Stick. Dean’s Team Chicago has reviewed several of these restaurants over the years, and liked them very much!

Finally, for a true nostalgia experience, catch a screening in a vintage movie house: the historic Logan Theatre. This vintage movie house opened in 1915 and has been revamped to include a cozy bar and lounge. The Logan, as the locals call It, screens everything from first-run films to cult classics to indie favorites. It also hosts the annual Chicago Underground Film Festival, the longest-running underground film fest in the world.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Restaurant Review: For Artisan-fresh cooking, the West Loop’s Girl and the Goat succeeds

multiethnic people sitting together in a joyful night eating vegetarian food

Happy 2024 to all!! Recently, I was watching an episode of ‘Chopped,’ my favorite cooking show on TV. One of their guest judges was ‘Top Chef’s’ first female winner and restaurant owner Stephanie Izard, who has earned acclaim for her West Loop restaurant Girl and the Goat

As their website notes, Girl and the Goat was one of the first restaurants on Chicago’s famed Restaurant Row in the West Loop. Izard began in 2010 with a goal of serving bold, global flavors. Girl and the Goat has earned recognition from the James Beard Foundation and a Michelin listing.

Why ‘Girl and the Goat?

Izard knew she wanted the word “goat” to appear somewhere in the name, as “izard” is French for a Pyrenees mountain goat–antelope with curved horns, according to a Chicago Magazine profile of Izard just prior to the restaurant’s opening.

Since then, they say, their desire to treat guests like family has remained the same (as have their Green Beans) – but their seasonal flavors, cocktails, wine and locally-rooted beer are ever-changing.

Start with their unusual Sweet Potato Bread, served with Craisin relish and sweet potato butter.

Wait…they really serve goat?

Why, yes they do! Goat Empanadas are paired with avocado crema, chili lime crunch, and fried plantains, while Confit Goat Belly is served with Kabocha squash, pickled persimmon, Sichuan chili jus, and crispy brussels leaves. Goat Liver Mousse has crumpets, pickles, mostarda, and golden beet giardinaire. 

Ala carte veggie options are inspired, and could be paired with dinner entrees or as a separate entrée.  Roasted Beets are served with tropea onion-golden beet giardinaire,  yuzu kosho, and party nuts. Chickpea Fritters are Mediterranean-inspired with goat yogurt, green chutney, and  sev spice crunch. Sautéed Green Beans are topped with a tangy fish sauce vinaigrette and cashews.

If Goat isn’t your meat ..

Girl and the Goat provides many other poultry, beef, and fish options!

Try their Grilled Chicken Skewers, flavorful with cashew butter, savory mushroom oil, and crispy sunchokes. Or, their Roasted Pig Face, served with a sunny side up egg, tamarind, cilantro, red wine-maple, and potato stix. Their tasty Shrimp Salad has avocado, kumquats, quinoa crunch, pickled veggies and a limey-herby dressing. Ora King Salmon has ‘Shrimpy pork sausage’ (ask them!), almond chili crunch, and  castelfranco (raddichio). 

As we often say here at Dean’s Team Chicago…”leave room for dessert!” On the menu currently is a Sticky Toffee Pumpkin Spice Cake, served with espresso caramel gelato, spiced pepitas, and cape gooseberries. Chocolate Olive Oil Cake has a lavender semifreddo, caramelized honey, and olive oil whipped cream. Or, opt for their Coconut Creme Caramel with plums, mango, and caramelized coconut crunch.a

Google reviews were mostly ecstatic, like this one:

“Girl & The Goat in Chicago is a culinary delight that I can’t stop raving about! From start to finish, our dining experience was exceptional.

The restaurant’s atmosphere is vibrant and trendy, with a rustic yet modern design that sets the stage for a memorable evening. The staff was welcoming, knowledgeable, and genuinely enthusiastic about the menu. Our server’s recommendations were spot-on, helping us navigate the diverse options.

The standout feature here is the innovative menu. The small plates format allows you to explore a variety of flavors. We started with the wood oven-roasted pig face, which was a revelation – crispy, succulent, and bursting with unique flavors. The goat empanadas were another highlight, perfectly balanced in taste and texture.

The wine list is extensive, with an impressive array of choices to complement the dishes. The cocktails were equally inventive and refreshing.

The dessert selection is equally impressive; the chocolate chip bread pudding is a must-try for any sweet tooth.

Girl & The Goat is more than just a restaurant; it’s a culinary adventure. With its creative menu, friendly staff, and a buzzing atmosphere, it’s a top-tier dining experience in Chicago. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor the creativity and passion of this gem.”

Girl and the Goat is located at 809 W. Randolph. Their hours are Sunday- Thursday, 4:30pm –10pm and Friday and Saturday,  4:30pm – 11pm. For reservations, click here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – New habits, start small

Small Steps Big Changes writing on a calendar

Now that we have our goals for the new year, how do we go about achieving them? This will involve forming good habits. Notice I didn’t say cure bad habits. From working out to eating better, the best way to change is by being positive and starting small!

Let’s say you want to drink more water every day. Many people buy a huge jug, fill it up and drag it around all day. At the end of the day, you haven’t finished even half the water. You become discouraged and there goes another goal! Instead, try saying I will drink a glass of water when I get up in the morning. Do this every morning, and after a month it will become a habit. Add another glass here and there. Drink before and after meals. Before you know it, you will be hydrated every day! 

Exercise is always at the top of everyone’s list this time of year. Fitness centers make most of their money in January. Setting a schedule to work out is all well and good, but many of us give up rather quickly when life happens, and our good intentions go out the door. If you do want to work out try not to have such a rigid schedule. People who work out when they have time tend to work out more than those who set an exact time. Why not try just walking around the block or hitting a tennis ball against a wall for 10 minutes? Small changes add up!

If you want to read more, tell yourself something like: I’ll just read a page. Stop after that if you want or you can continue. Maybe you want to meditate. Start by taking 3 calming breaths at a certain time, maybe after turning off your device at night. After a while this becomes a habit, and you can always do more. 

We may want to tackle our messy house and become tidier. Cleaning the entire house is daunting and you may give up not long after you start. Try just cleaning up a small area. Just putting a few things in their proper place can get you into the habit!

So, start out small and keep going as you can. When you accomplish even small things make sure you celebrate! Positive self-talk will give you the motivation to keep going. Video games are famous for telling us how awesome we are doing to get you to play longer. You can do different things. (Even pumping your fist in the air makes you feel great, as silly as it sounds.) Just remember to give yourself plenty of love and grace. Your thought process will change. I can be a tidy person. I can get healthier. I can achieve my goals. Just start small.

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago

Rules of Etiquette You Should Know Before Buying a Home

Young couple walking towards a country house with their two children

The truth is, there’s a certain etiquette that buyers should follow throughout the home-buying process, and failure to follow it could actually cost you a lot of money.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to being courteous and having some common sense. Even if you mean no harm, you could inadvertently turn the sellers off with a certain gesture or comment that could potentially sabotage your negotiating power.

Stick to the following rules of home-buying etiquette to make sure the experience is a good one.

Stick With Reasonable Viewing Times

Use common sense when it comes to the days and times that you want to go see a listed home. Generally acceptable viewing times are typically between 10am and 8pm throughout the week. Asking to booking a showing at 10pm on a Tuesday night or 7am on Sunday morning isn’t going to cut it. Agents will likely get shut down if they ask the sellers for a showing at any one of these unreasonable times.

Don’t Demand Last-Minute Appointments

While your agent is working diligently to find you the right home, he or she is not at your beck-and-call. While many times agents and sellers can accommodate an immediate showing, many times they cannot.

While it doesn’t hurt to ask if there’s a last-minute time slot available, don’t demand it. The typical protocol is to book showings at least 24 hours in advance to allow the seller to make arrangements to not be home during the showing, and to have the home adequately prepped to be viewed. It also helps agents ensure that there is free time in their schedules to accommodate an appointment.

Skip the Unauthorized Photography

When you’re at a viewing, don’t whip out your smartphone and start snapping photos of the interior and exterior of the home unless you’ve been given direct permission to do so. That’s just rude and inconsiderate. After all, it’s not a public place – it’s still the sellers’ home, and it’s private property.

Don’t Deal With Any Other Agent if You’ve Already Signed With One

If you’ve already signed a contract with an agent, don’t call the listing agent of a home you’re interested in seeing. Actually, don’t call any other agent at all except your own. Even if your agent is away on holidays, proper etiquette would entail speaking with the agent who is covering for yours while they’re away. Not only is it discourteous to your agent and the other, it could even cost you money considering you’re under contract.

Be Honest With Your Agent About How Serious You Are About Buying

Don’t waste your agent’s time, nor the time of sellers with showings if your immediate intentions are not to buy anytime soon. Agents and sellers are busy enough without entertaining people who are just curious about seeing how other people live.

And even if you are serious about buying, don’t ask your agent to show you 10 houses in one afternoon. Viewing homes takes a lot of time, and taking up your agent’s entire afternoon is expensive for them. Not only that, but seeing too many homes at once will actually cloud your judgment and make it difficult to remember what you saw in which house. Stick to a maximum of only 3 or 4 home listings for each round of showings.

Make Sure You Can Afford the Place

If you’re looking at a home that’s listed for $800,000, but you can only realistically afford one for no more than $500,000, you’re wasting everyone’s time, including your own. Maybe you really do think you can afford the place, and are just naive to the whole home buying process.

That’s where a mortgage pre-approval can come in handy. This will give the lender a chance to analyze your income and current debt to see what you can realistically and comfortably afford. That way, you can focus only on the homes that fit your budget.

Many real estate agents actually require their clients to be pre-approved, and many sellers prefer to see an offer come in from prospective buyers who already have a pre-approval letter from their lender.

Be Polite and On-Time at Showings

This one goes without saying, but it’s still worth mentioning. Be polite to your agent, and to the sellers if they happen to be present. And don’t go sifting through clothes drawers or ransacking the storage closet. Looting around during a showing is definitely not polite.

In addition, make sure you’re on time for the showings. These appointments are usually only for a half hour to an hour, so you want to use each minute to your advantage to get a good sense of the home. Not only that, but it doesn’t show much respect to your agent to make them wait around forever for you to show up. They’ve likely got better things to do. 

Don’t Directly Contact the Homeowner

If a home is listed through an agent, then it’s protocol for any communications to take place between your agent and the seller’s. Under no circumstance is it acceptable to contact the homeowner directly. Not only will you seem overly aggressive, you’ll likely upset the homeowner.

Don’t Act Like the Home is Yours Until it Actually is

Even if you’ve fallen madly in love with a house, and have gone so far as to put an offer on it, the house isn’t yours until the keys are physically in your hands. Don’t show up to the home unannounced and start taking measurements for the sunroom addition you’ve got planned, or where you want the pool to go. Wait until the deal is formally done before you start making any plans.

Don’t Make Comments About the House When the Seller is Around

If the seller happens to be present when you’re viewing the home with your agent, reserve your comments until you’ve left. The homeowner might not appreciate hearing your thoughts on the outdated paint colors or the unattractive living room furniture. You’ll only hurt their feelings, as well as your negotiating power.

The Bottom Line

These tips aren’t hard to follow. In fact, they can be applied to any aspect of life. Use some common sense, be courteous, and be open and honest so that everyone’s happy.