THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Embracing the Arrival of Autumn!

Can you believe it’s the third weekend of September already, and that autumn officially arrives on Tuesday? Well, this weekend will bring fall-like temperatures with plenty of sun for you to get out and embrace the arrival of the autumn season! After all, we know what comes next!!

Explore Chicago through the eyes of a local during International Greeter Day this Saturday at various locations throughout the city. International Greeter Day celebrates the Greeter service in Chicago and around the world in over 140 cities and in 36 countries. Visitors and locals alike are encouraged to get out and explore the city through these tours created by knowledgeable Chicago Greeters. Just pick a neighborhood and take a free tour led by expert locals. They will guide you through authentic Chicago and its fascinating histories, diverse cultural traditions, iconic landmarks, and off-the-beaten-path gems!

There’s a new interactive walking tour in town entitled WANDER: Lincoln Square – A Chicago Walking Experience. These guided tours are given weekly Thursday through Sunday (September 19-November 1) in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood. The tour includes live agents and pre-recorded historical scenes to facilitate exploration of the neighborhood’s present with the discovery of its past. Each tour includes up to 20 socially distanced ticket holders and lasts approximately 65 minutes. Ticket holders will receive information on where to meet at the beginning of the tour. Also, tours are dependent on weather, so ticket holders will receive a text if canceled due to weather, but I don’t think you’ll have a problem this weekend!

Let’s not forget our furry family members who also love being outdoors. The Dog Days of Summer Pet Party takes place this Saturday (11 a.m.-3 p.m.) at the SSA27 CTA Plaza (3411 N. Southport Ave.) in the Lakeview neighborhood. This outdoor doggie play party features a paint your pet class with Chicago Sip & Paint, get a pic in their photo booth by Trainman Photography, take a dip in the wading pool or ball pit by A Dog’s Best Friend, have some fun with Miss Foozie, and much more! This event will be abiding with COVID-19 guidelines!!

If you’re going to be indoors this Saturday between 1 p.m.-2 p.m., you might want to take a Cruise from your Couch Virtual Boat Tour. You’ll experience the beautiful architecture along Chicago’s river in this virtual presentation using 360-views in Google Street View. Your expert tour guide will share forgotten stories of Chicago’s waterways, environment, transportation history, and architectural masterpieces. You’ll also have the option to play an interactive game of clue-based bingo as you watch!

Begin your Sunday morning (10 a.m.-12 p.m.) with a Virtual Breakfast with the Animals hosted by Lincoln Park Zoo. Just whip up some breakfast, or order in from your fave breakfast restaurant, then tune in to a live stream of learning about the Zoo’s lowland gorillas from the comfort of your home!

BTW, our Chicago Bears will be hosting the New York Giants at Soldier Field this Sunday at 12 p.m. Watch the game on CBS! GO BEARS!!

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Chicago Neighborhood News: Uptown, Wicker Park, Lincoln Park, Logan Square

Uptown: Today, take part in a virtual beer fest that supports a great cause. An Exceptional (Virtual) Beer Fest takes place today, September 17, from 6 pm to 7 pm. Register now to join the fun and grab some brews and wine from participating partners Middle Brow and Uvae Kitchen & Wine Bar. Middle Brow offers their crisp Yard Work brew for purchase, and Uvae is selling bottles of their Rio Madre Rioja Rosé. All drinks can be purchased today, so it’s not too late. Proceeds from this event go to support Sarah’s Circle, which helps homeless women. Registered guests will also enjoy music from the Exception of Northern Trust, a silent auction with competitive online bidding, and more. Registration for this event is free. Find more info here

Wicker Park: Live concerts have taken a backseat due to the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get outside and enjoy live performances from the past in a socially distanced environment. Head over to Whiskey Business, located at 1367 North Milwaukee Avenue, on Wednesday, September 23, for their rooftop concert film series featuring the legendary Woodstock performances of The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Santana, and more. The film kicks off at 8:45 pm on the Whiskey Business 3,000 square-foot rooftop and also features a laser light show. Ticketed reservations are $60 for a party of four and $90 for a party of six and include preferred seating, one White Claw Hard Seltzer for each guest, and more. Be sure to make reservations ahead of time. Find more info here.

Lincoln Park: On Friday, September 25 and Saturday, September 26, enjoy a drive-in movie experience on a 30-foot blow-up screen with all proceeds supporting research at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital. Taking place at the Lincoln Yards, located at 1684 North Throop Street, Friday will have a screening of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Saturday features Guardians of the Galaxy (vol. 1). Both films start at 7:30 pm each night. Concessions can be preordered from the Davis Theater, and dinner can be preordered from Ada Street. Ample social distancing will be provided for each vehicle. Tickets are $100 per car, and a minimum $65 donation is included in the admission price for this great cause. Find more info here.

Logan Square: Comedy returns to Chicago but not in the typical venues we are used to. This Friday, September 18, make your way to Logan Boulevard in Logan Square for the outdoor Stoop Comedy Show kicking off at 7 pm. Taking place literally on a stoop, this comedy show features a new lineup of comedians every week in a socially distanced, safe outside setting. Tickets are $12 and include a free drink. Masks are required. Find more info here.

ERIC KAPLAN AND DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO

Restaurant Review: Sugar Junkie

This year, summer came and went without the typical warm-weather activities we’ve grown accustomed to thanks to the global pandemic this year. Practically any event associated with summertime, from concerts to vacation to merely going to the beach, was off-limits. But there is one thing that COVID-19 couldn’t stop in its tracks: ice cream.

Yes, that delicious treat forever linked to high temperatures and sunny days gave the current state of the world the cold shoulder. One way to celebrate this victory is by visiting the walk-up window at 1925 North Lincoln Avenue to check out the delicious treats at Sugar Junkie.

Created by award-winning Four Corner’s Corporate Pastry Chef Amy Arnold, Sugar Junkie provides the much-needed fix we all crave after what seems like a year lost to bad news. Known for her unique creative ability when it comes to desserts, Arnold has designed a divine menu at this hidden walk-up located behind Ranalli’s pizzeria. The items available at Sugar Junkie are sure to awaken your sweet tooth with delectable treats that instantly take your mind off the state of the world. 

So what’s on the menu? Sugar Junkie is big on gelato, and you can’t go wrong with any of the creations on their menu. We all love coffee and donuts, so why not combine them in a match made in dessert heaven? The coffee and donut option features chunks of chocolate-frosted donuts floating in a sea of coffee gelato. The banana fudge is highlighted by mouth-watering fudge and banana slices in a banana-based gelato creating a scrumptious pairing. The vegan option combines vanilla bean, oat, and coconut milk, and the key lime gelato is perfected with a graham cracker crust.

A single cup of the gelato offerings is $4, while a double cup will run you $7. Have it in a cone for $5 or double the pleasure for $8. Don’t forget to indulge your dog with a mini pup cone for $3.

If you want to take it to the next level, order up some of Sugar Junkie’s gelato-cookie sandwiches, all priced at $8. The sweet and salty sandwich features salted caramel gelato squished in between a chocolate chip cookie. Peanut butter lovers will delight in the PB&G with chocolate gelato encased in a peanut butter cookie. Other choices include the Rainbow Brite starring vanilla gelato in a rainbow cookie and The Birthday Party highlighted by a funfetti sugar cookie and vanilla gelato.

If you want to take the deliciousness home, grab a pint of the take-and-bake cookie dough for $11. With flavors ranging from classic chocolate chip and triple chocolate to peanut butter with caramelized peanuts and rainbow sugar cookie dough, your taste buds will be sending thank you cards in the mail to Sugar Cookie’s Lincoln Park address. Pair your pint of cookie dough with a pint of gelato, and you got yourself the perfect dessert (or dinner) to create at home. 

So as summer ends (did it ever really start?), take a stroll to the walk-up window at 1925 North Lincoln Avenue between noon and 10 pm, and treat yourself to the gelato-inspired creations at Sugar Junkie.

ERIC KAPLAN AND DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO

Kathy’s Home & Garden Tips – Your Best Sleep

It can be for various reasons, but we all can have trouble sleeping. Many of us only experience this on occasion, but a lot of people battle this nightly. They wake up groggy, and most days keep the caffeine going to get through the day. There are some things to do to combat this, many you will know about, but you do not do them. However, adequate sleep is essential to your overall health, and these are worth a try.

We are basically grown-up children, but we need to remember something from childhood when it comes to sleeping: We need to be on a sleep schedule. It is optimal to go to sleep at the same general time every night and strive to get at least seven hours. Of course, no one can do that seven days a week, but it is best not to have too much difference in sleep time.

Some people find a sleep mask helpful, especially if you need to sleep before it is fully dark. Living in the city, just the ambient light from nearby streetlights can be too much.  I would invest in a well made one if you think it would help. The ones available in drug stores are poorly made and often end up falling off. 

A white noise machine is one of the greatest things to help with getting quality sleep. At first, I thought that any kind of noise would never make me fall asleep, but it really does. There are endless variations of sound that you can mix or simply leave the white noise. There are free apps like the White Noise app or the one I use, Relax Melodies. I combine thunderstorms and surf sounds. This effectively drowns out the city noise. 

Another tough thing to do to help achieve quality sleep is putting down our devices an hour before bed. The screen’s blue light suppresses melatonin production, which is not good.  At least setup night mode on your device. You can do any time you want, but I just do sunrise and sunset. It tones down the brightness, and when I see it change to night, I think it is sleep time soon!

The best sleeping temperature is 60-65 degrees. Many of you are probably saying, “What?!” However, it is better to sleep in light sweats and socks in a cooler room than boxers or frilly sleep shirts in a warm room. Electric blankets are great too. They are so much better than the ones from years ago. 

A few cocktails before bed have been thought of as relaxing, but even two drinks can have you waking up groggy. You do not get good REM sleep, and it can interrupt your circadian rhythms. 

After a crazy hectic day, it can be cathartic to journal before bed. Not to spew out all the negative from the day, but to write about the good things that happened and what you are grateful for.

So, try these things to help you sleep better. One or more should help you wake up ready to take on the day. 

KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH AND DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO

How To Save Money While Landscaping

Revamping your landscaping can be a huge undertaking. It takes a lot of time, effort, and money. So how can you give the exterior of your home a facelift without breaking the bank or taking out a second mortgage. There a many ways to cut costs on landscaping, including some of tips below!

Select perennial plants. Choosing perennial plants over annuals can help reduce both cost and time. These plants continue to bloom year over year with less upkeep so you won’t have to set aside more money for new plants and spend time replanting in the coming years.

Shop at the end of the season. Shop for plants, accessories, mulch, containers, and more towards the end of fall for the best savings. Most garden centers and nurseries are looking to clear out plants and tools before winter so you may be able to save up to 50 percent.

Creatively source materials. Often extra materials can be found at construction sites or other landscapers may be giving them away for discounted prices or even free on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Make sure you look around before paying full price for rocks, wood, gravel, and more.

Use a mix of materials. Building surfaces like pathways or patios can often carry a large price tag for both materials and installation. To reduce costs, consider mixing materials, such as gravel with pavers or concrete with cut stone, to create a unique surface for less.

Keep up maintenance. Taking care of your yard throughout the year can save you from high-cost repairs in the future. Make sure to weed regularly, reduce standing water, keep patios and pathways clean, and paint peeling fences.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – IT’S CHOW TIME – OUTDOORS!

With the fall season quickly approaching, our days of enjoying the outdoors will be ending before you know it! Not to fret though as the city has us covered with a choice of outdoor dining spots. It’s chow time!!

Sponsored by Byline Bank and Southern Glazers, Dine Out on Broadway & Dine Out on Sheffield are back and participating again in Mayor Lightfoot’s “Make Way for Dining” program. Dine Out on Broadway will have 25 plus restaurants and food establishments along Broadway Street from Belmont to Diversey participating on Saturday (11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.) and Sunday (11:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.). Sidewalk patios will be extended into the street, and there will be a few communal tables set up on Broadway for carry-out patrons. As for Dine Out on Sheffield, several restaurants on Sheffield Avenue from Belmont to School will be offering socially distanced outdoor dining on Saturday (12:00 p.m.-10 p.m.) and Sunday (11:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.). Participating restaurants are Sheffield’s Beer and Wine Garden, Trader Todd’s, Figo, Barangaroos Aussie Pies, and Cheesie’s Pub & Grub-Lakeview.

Feast on Lincoln: Dine Out on the Avenue has been extended through September 27th! Chicagoans can continue to enjoy expanded outdoor dining on Lincoln Avenue from Fullerton to Wrightwood every Saturday (4:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.) and Sunday (11:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.) through September 27th! Participating restaurants include Broken English Taco, DogHaus Biergarten, Galit Restaurant, Lincoln Station, Millie’s Supper Club, Printer’s Row Coffee Co., Prost Chicago, and Takito Street Lincoln Park.

Old Grounds Social, located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood at 950 W. Wrightwood Avenue between Sheffield and Lincoln Avenues, will be hosting another BBQ Cooking Demo this Saturday (5 p.m.-7:30 p.m.). They’ll be smoking up some BBQ favorites and showing you some tips on how to become a pit-master yourself! It’s an all-you-can-eat BBQ serving up smoked chicken breast, smoked pulled pork, made to order burger, and smoked wings along with sides that include coleslaw, mac & cheese, and chips.

Get ready to celebrate the best of Eataly and Chicago throughout the month of September at their September Fest featuring guest chef series, virtual events, and an unforgettable four-course feast by either dining out at one of their restaurants — II Patio di Eataly or La Pizza & La Pasta, or celebrating at home with their to-go option on Tock! Simply check out the schedule, book your kit, and make your reservations for an unforgettable feast!!

This is the last weekend for Chi-Together: Drive-in Movies & Music featuring Anchorman (Saturday) and Black Panther (Sunday) at Soldier Field’s South Lot Festival Area (1410 S. Museum Campus Dr.) in the South Loop. Each ticket includes a 90-minute music showcase by a locally featured musician or DJ as well as games, contests, and more, followed by the movie on 3 jumbo screens for up to 6 people, and includes a free bucket of popcorn for the group!!

Bon Appetit, My Friends!

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Chicago Neighborhood News: River North, West Loop, Museum Campus, The Loop, Virtual

River North: The fifth annual SeptemberFest presented by Eataly returns, albeit virtually, this year to the joy of foodies throughout the city. Every Saturday throughout the month, pick up a meal kit from the featured guest chefs and connect with them on Instagram Live to learn more about their delicious culinary creations and ask questions. The take-home festivities conclude on September 26th with a Grand Finale featuring Paulie Gee’s Detroit Pizza, Aya Pastry’s Tomato Goat Cheese Danishes, Firecakes Donuts, and much more. Tickets range from $85 to $165. Find more info here.

West Loop: The Hoxton, located at 200 North Green Street in the West Loop, presents Sunday Cinema throughout September. Catch a viewing of Spike Lee’s classic film Do The Right Thing on the 13th and 2002’s Crossroads on the 20th. The best part? Admission is free as long as you RSVP, and a concession box with popcorn, candy, and two cans of wine will be available to purchase. The 7 pm screenings will occur on the second-floor terrace of The Hoxton. Social distancing guidelines will be adhered to, and masks are required. Find more info here.

Museum Campus: Live entertainment has taken a hit during the pandemic with virtual performances trying to fill the gap. Fortunately, live comedy returns to Chicago with two performances featuring hometown funnyman Hannibal Buress on Sunday, September 27th at 4 pm and 7:30 pm. The two comedy sets of laughs will take place at the Lakeshore Drive-In located at the Adler Planetarium parking lot at 1300 South Lake Shore Drive. The Let’s See How This Goes Drive-In Theater Tour features the hysterical and irreverent stand-up of Buress and special guests. Tickets range from $125 to $300 per car. Find more info here.

The Loop: Whether you’re new to town or a lifelong Chicagoan, there is definitely something for everyone at the Best of Chicago Downtown Walking Tour presented by Chicago Urban Adventures. Taking place every single day throughout September, this 2.5-hour walking tour explores the city’s one of a kind architecture and second to none food as a local guide leads you through the ins and outs of the Loop. The tour kicks off at the Chicago Theater located at 175 North State Street at 10 am and ends near Millennium Park. Tickets are $49 for adults and $44 for kids 6-12 years of age. Masks are required. Find more info here.

Virtual: On Friday, September 11th, take a virtual history lesson of all things beer-related when it comes to the Windy City. Chicago Detours presents Da Beers: A Chicago Drinking History kicking off at 6 pm. This 50-minute Zoom experience covers turn of the century saloon culture, the highs and lows of Prohibition, virtually visits some of the city’s historic bars, and offers a competitive game based on Chicago drinking traditions, myths, and legends. Tickets are $15. Find more info here.  

ERIC KAPLAN AND DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO

Restaurant Review: The Fish Keg

This week I visited longtime Rogers Park institution The Fish Keg to pick up a rather large order for a family get-together. Full disclosure: when it comes to fish, I usually take a pass. However, when it comes to The Fish Keg, I ask for seconds. That’s just how good the quality of food is, and has been, for over 50 years at this beloved spot located at 2233 Howard Street, just a few blocks west of the Howard “L” station.

The menu at The Fish Keg is highlighted by the fried shrimp, lightly breaded and fried to a scrumptious perfection. Dipped with their delicious homemade cocktails sauce and your hands will automatically be reaching for the next shrimp as your taste buds savor the explosion of crunch and freshness with each bite. I ordered a pound of the shrimp ($19), which consisted of approximately 20 pieces, although you can order less or more depending on your needs.

I stepped outside my comfort zone by ordering the scallops, fully prepared to admit that my fish consumption will never make it past fried shrimp. However, one taste of these jumbo-sized scallops from the Grand Banks had me quickly realize my palate for fish just increased. Oozing with a smooth and buttery flavor and covered in a rich breading, the scallops are the epitome of mouth-watering satisfaction. A pound of sizzling scallops will run you $26. Still, like almost everything else on the expansive menu, you can order what you need when it comes to quantity.

Next up was the Fish Chips consisting of a mild Icelandic Cod and a spicy batter that I could have easily made a meal out of without anything else needed. Like every other item on the menu, the fish chips come piping hot and fresh without any unnecessary grease. 

Regardless of what you order at The Fish Keg, be sure to go home with the hush puppies. The mixture of cornbread and spices all rolled up into a ball of fantastic flavor is the perfect companion to the fish (although I am no stranger to stopping in solely to grab an order of these tasty treats). These hush puppies are undoubtedly in the running for the best in the city and surrounding suburbs. 

A few other items on the menu that I usually skip at BBQs but never can get enough of here, is the coleslaw and potato salad. Creamy and crammed with taste, you can’t go wrong with either, and it would be wise to pick up an order of both the next time your taste buds are in a fish frenzy. 

The Fish Keg is not a restaurant in the typical sense. There are no seats, and it’s set up more like a deli with orders being picked up nonstop. Of course, this matters little amidst the pandemic. Don’t be surprised to see other patrons in the parking lot diving right into their orders while sitting in their cars. Yea, it’s just that good. 

So take it from someone who doesn’t often partake in underwater delicacies and head over to The Fish Keg for fresh seafood done right. The Fish Keg is open every day from 10 am to 9 pm.

ERIC KAPLAN AND DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO

Kathy’s Home & Garden Tips – How to Get Results from Your Complaints

We order so many items online today, even more since we have been sheltering at home. For the most part, problems can be resolved quickly and painlessly with most of our online sellers. But sometimes things do come up that are a little more difficult to fix. For these, we need to remember the three p’s: politeness, persistence, and patience. It can be hard to stay polite but remember, the person on the other end of the line is not the problem. 

First things first: always keep all packaging and paperwork that comes with the original delivery until you are satisfied with the product. After that, save paperwork and any bar codes. Always keep copies of all order confirmations, receipts, warranties, and billing statements. Make a folder on your computer. If you are asked for paperwork, always send copies or scans. Keep copies of everything you are sent regarding the complaint. It’s always wise to take screenshots of online chats as well.

It is best to make your complaint as soon as possible. Do take notes registering the date and time when you are talking to the customer service representative. Jot down any reference numbers given as well as the name of the person you are speaking to. 

Most times this will be as far as it needs to go but in case not, ask them if there is someone else you can speak to or somewhere else to call or write. You can search for company senior customer service reps using the Better Business Bureau website. There is a not for profit group called Elliot Advocacy that can provide contact info for many companies’ senior service reps. They recommend keeping your correspondence brief and to the point. Be professional and offer reasonable solutions. Do not expect an immediate response. Asking for a response in 10 business days is reasonable. Go to www.consumer-action.org for a sample email and letter along with a how-to complain guide. 

If you have not received a satisfactory customer service response, you can complain to your local regulatory or consumer protection agency. Find more info here: www.usa.gov/state-consumer. You can check out local or state licensing boards when dealing with a tradesperson or other licensed professional. To find help with complaint strategies for specific categories of products and services with third-party contact information, check out www.usa.gov/complaints-by-product

So when it comes to dealing with product complaints, be persistent but polite and patient when attempting to resolve consumer complaints.

KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH AND DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO

Prepping To Buy Your First Home

One of the biggest milestones you will reach in your life will be deciding to become a homeowner. But before you take the leap, make sure you set yourself up for easy transaction and a good homebuying experience. Check out the tips below to ensure it!

Do your research. Familiarizing yourself with the home buying process before beginning your house hunt and finding a knowledgeable, experienced agent to represent you can make all the difference in securing your dream house and paying the best price for it.

Pay off other debts. Before you take on such a big, expensive purchase like buying a home, dedicate yourself to paying off your student loans, car loans, and credit card debt. Not only will this allow you to live more comfortably while you’re in your new home but it will allow you to be a better candidate for a home loan.

Save for the down payment. The majority of home buyers don’t pay in cash for their home, but the more you are able to put down, the better financial position you will be in. Create a budget early on, stick to it, and start saving well before you start seriously looking for your home. This will also help you determine the price range to search in.

Be patient. If this is your first home purchase, the process can feel intimidating and overwhelming and you may feel like you’ll never find a home that meets your wish list and is in your price range. But don’t lose hope. Stay patient and trust the process and your agent.