Investing Locally Vs. Long-Distance: What’s Better?

Hands holding a wooden model home with an open laptop

Investing in real estate – it’s been done forever, and it’s one of the tried-and-true ways of building sustainable wealth over the long term.

But the property you invest in can make or break any profits you make. It’ll also play a key role in the amount of hassle you have to endure to manage the property. There are a ton of decisions to make when hopping on the real estate investment train, one of which includes determining whether to buy locally, or somewhere out of state, (or even out of country).

The question is, which one are you better off with?

There are a few factors you need to consider before making this decision.


One of the biggest reasons why people choose to invest their hard-earned cash outside of their local borders is because they can often find a much better deal elsewhere and get a solid return on investment. Many times investing locally means paying a much higher price just to get into the market. This is especially true for large metropolitan centers, where the entry price is often way over may people’s heads.

The most basic question to ask yourself if you’re considering purchasing locally is whether or not you’ve got enough capital to buy there. Tons of markets out there are ridiculously expensive (take NYC or San Francisco, for example), and you might not have that kind of cash to make the investment a viable one in places like these.


Maybe you live in a booming area that demands high rent prices. Or maybe you don’t. The fundamentals of the market you live in will play a key role in helping you determine if investing locally is a wise move or not. It’s all about the location when it comes to real estate.

If your local area is experiencing a decline in the market or isn’t exactly the most inviting place to call home, it’s probably not the best location to snatch up real estate in hopes of it gaining in value. Or perhaps you’ve already got some real estate where you are, and want to diversify your portfolio to include a variety of markets. Regardless of what your specific scenario is, it’s probably a good idea to move your money elsewhere.


You’re obviously in the market to invest in real estate to make a profit, or else, what’s the point? But how you profit needs to be determined.

There are essentially two forms of profit – through cash flow (profits made from rent after expenses are deducted), and appreciation (how much property values increase over time – also known as ‘equity’).

Some markets are known to produce a decent monthly cash flow, but appreciation is pretty scarce (take the Midwest, for instance). Other markets don’t allow for much cash flow because of the sky-high expenses, but appreciation is super healthy (like L.A. or Miami). Maybe you can get lucky and find a market that offers both. Either way, it’s good to know what forms of profit you stand to collect on.


Do you prefer to be a hands-on type of investor? Or are you OK with the expense and the level of trust needed to let a property management company do the managing for you? Investing long distance is great if you’re the type that isn’t too concerned about having to visit the place in person on a regular basis, or if there’s plenty of money in the pot to dedicate to property management.

Of course, the quality of the property management firm you employ makes a huge difference here. A crappy property manager can wind up costing you a fortune. If you’re going to be relying on your property manager to make sure your investment remains in tip-top shape, there’s a certain level of trust that is needed for that.

A good property manager can save you time, headaches, and even money if they’re one of the good ones. And if they wind up being a dud, fire them and hire another. There are definitely good ones out there – it’s just a matter of finding them. And probably the best way to do that is to chat up your real estate agent and ask them for recommendations. Odds are, they’ve got some.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to what you’re most comfortable with. That really is a huge deciding factor when it comes to investing locally versus long-distance. No investment is worth losing sleep over. And if you can sleep comfortably at night with you investment decision, you’re golden.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Continuing with Our Holiday Events!

A vector illustration of Christmas Holiday Season Farmers Market Bazaar

Here’s what’s happening this weekend in Chicago and beyond as we inch closer to the arrival of Christmas!

Come experience a larger than life, outdoor, multi-sensory adventure for people of all ages at the Jack Frost Christmas Pop-Up being held at Fulton Market (170 N. Green St.) in the West Loop now through December 31st.  This sprawling two-acre attraction is illuminated by dazzling lights and Christmas decorations featuring a holiday market, photo opportunities, ice skating, winter bumper cars, axe throwing, ice curling, fortune tellers, and more!  Plus, guests can enjoy a variety of seasonal snacks as well as some boozy hot cocoa and other holiday cocktails, if you’re 21 and over.  Not only is this a festive extravaganza making your holiday season unforgettable, but it also just might become your new favorite winter-long destination!

Just steps off the Magnificent Mile, the Driehaus Museum (40 E. Erie St.) is hosting the holiday season with “Drie-cember,” a new month-long celebration of weekend programs and holiday concerts for families to enjoy.  However, this Saturday it’s Santa Saturday (8:45 a.m.-2 p.m.) when Santa comes for his annual visit.  He will be in the museum’s Front Parlor on the first floor so don’t forget your Christmas wish list and be ready to take some selfies with the jolly ‘ole fellow!

A family-friendly, festive celebration awaits you at Jingle Jam at NEWCITY-VILLE this Saturday (4 p.m.-7 p.m.) at NEWCITY (1457 N. Halsted St.) in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.  This festive event celebrates the holiday season with an indoor event featuring festive tunes, courtesy of a live DJ; balloon twisters and face painters; an arts & crafts station to unleash your creativity; visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, plus special surprise guests; and more.  There’s even a Grand Prize Giveaway but you need to pre-register, check in at the event for your chance to win, and the winner MUST be present (drawing takes place at 6:45 p.m.)!

Begin your holidays at the annual Christmas Bazaar and Breakfast this Sunday (9 a.m.-7 p.m.) at the Irish American Heritage Center (4626 N. Knox Ave.) in the Irving Park neighborhood.  This year’s festivities include breakfast (requires a ticket), an artisan craft and bake sale with over 60 vendors, children’s activities, a visit from Santa (1 p.m.-3 p.m.), and more!  New this year, enjoy a Holiday horse-and-carriage ride around the Center.  Plus, the fun continues into the evening with music by the fireplace and food and drink for purchase!

The White Sox’s Guaranteed Rate Field located in the Bridgeport neighborhood has once again been transformed into a winter wonderland of glimmering lights for this year’s Light of Christmas Drive Thru now through January 3rd from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.  No matter how cold it is outside, guests can safely stay in their warm cars as they are immersed into a wonderland of over one million LED light displays, all synchronized to fun holiday classics!

The home of the Chicago Dogs is once again hosting its Sparkle Light Festival at Impact Field (9850 Balmoral Ave.) in Rosemont now through December 31st.  This year’s festival will feature a new, completely redesigned layout with the addition of an ice-skating rink.  Visitors can enjoy breathtaking displays of millions of holiday lights among winter attractions such as the two-story Alpine ice slide and the Holly Trolly train as well as wander through five illuminated villages that include the Frozen Forest, Snowflake Circle, Winter Wonderland, the North Pole, and Deck the Walls.  Plus, festive food and beverage options will also be available!

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Neighborhood News: Celebrating Chicago Loop’s American Writers Museum

A young woman holding a laptop bag looking at various digital news images

American writing is distinctive, diverse, and comes in many forms from across the nation. As the only museum devoted to American writers and their works, AWM connects visitors with their favorite authors and writings from more than five centuries, while inspiring the discovery of new works of every type – poetry, lyrics, speeches, drama, fiction, nonfiction, journalism, and more.”

AWM Website

In these days of book banning and questionable sources, it’s especially wonderful that Chicago is host to a unique venue that celebrates America’s unique contributions to the world of the written word in all its forms.

Openedin2017,  The American Writers Museum, 180 N. Michigan Avenue, is the first (and only) museum of its kind in the nation. It celebrates writing of all kinds…journalism, poetry, fiction, nonfiction, children’s literature, etc. And it works overtime to reach every sector of reader and writer, whether it’s through exhibits like the Word Waterfall for kids or a section for distinct Chicago voices like Ida B. Wells and Studs Terkel

For those of the computer generation, you can harken back to the Stone Age in their collection of vintage typewriters. (Maybe you’ll see the one on which your grandmother wrote her high school term papers!) They host ‘Typewriter Tuesdays,’ featuring  special keyboards belonging to famous American writers, including Helen Keller’s braille writer.

Dark Testament: A Century of Black Writers on Justice

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise.”

—Maya Angelou

This exhibit honors the significant contributions of Black writers to American literature and history, with the goal of understanding racial injustice. 

The exhibit is both interactive and online, and features writings from prominent Black American writers from the end of the Civil War through the Civil Rights Movement, including W.E.B. Du Bois, Richard Wright, and James Baldwin, and runs through May 6, 2024.

The Kids Are Alright

The Children’s Literature Gallery at the American Writers Museum features an interactive reading space under a whimsical mural by Paul O. Zelinsky and a cozy reading area filled with books for families with young children so they can develop strong reading and writing skills. 

Celebrate The Holidays with AWM at Get Lit: Sun, Surf, Santa Claus

AWM is celebrating the world of beach reads at their holiday party on December 12, from 5:30pm-7:30pm. 

The museum is hosting a fun-filled, think-warm holiday celebration featuring pictures with Santa, dressed in his tropical finest, and ‘Santa’s Storytime,’ where “the jolly man himself will read passages from your favorite beach reads,” according to AWM’s website.

The event also features lots of unique activities, including a Holly Jolly Book Swap (bring your old books and get new ones), Also, you can create stunning beach scenes on sugar cookies, and write letters to Santa on a vintage typewriter. 

Adults 21+ can enjoy beer, wine, and the night’s specialty cocktail, Rudolph’s Mai Tai, a classic tiki cocktail…and no worries, a non-alcoholic version also is available. 

The American Writers Museum is open Thursday-Monday, 10am – 5pm, and is closed Tuesday and Wednesday. For tickets and more information, click here

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Restaurant Review: Logan Square’s Table, Donkey and Stick delivers with a Michelin Bib Gourmand

A sign with the inscription reserved on a table in a cafe or restaurant

Michelin, the arbiter of fine dining worldwide, bestows the Bib Gourmand designation on restaurants where, according to Open Table, the cooking “punches above its weight class, guiding diners to places that serve phenomenal meals that don’t break the bank.”

One of those restaurants is the whimsically named, Austrian comfort food of Logan Square’s Table, Donkey and Stick. In a cold winter season, I can’t think of a more apropos place to come in from the cold and warm up in a cozy, rustic alpine-style inn.

 About their name…

According to their website, Table, Donkey and Stick refers to a Brothers Grimm tale, ‘Tischlein deck dich, Goldesel und Knüppel aus dem Sack.’ 

Apparently, the moral of the Grimm tale essentally deals with the consequences of bad behavior and the riches associated with being a good person. 

The Experience 

Their menu honors the eating and drinking traditions of the Alps, including serving brandies and liqueurs eaux-de-vie and schnapps. Seasonal specialty cocktails are crafted from house-made tonics, syrups, and shrubs and the complex aromatic liqueurs made with mountain herbs and flowers from the Alps.

Their menu features creative, seasonally driven dishes inspired by the mountain cuisines of France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Slovenia. The menu includes a rotating selection of chartuterie and artisan cheeses, as their website notes. The kitchen works with local farmers and whole animals whenever possible, and all breads and charcuterie items are made in-house.

A word of caution: the menu really does rotate daily, so check with the restaurant if you read a review describing a specific dish. 

That’s why I’ll highlight just a few of their courses here, with the recommendation that you take a moment to visit this Austrian chalet yourself and be surprised by the sheer variety of options.

In their menu section marked Wanderteller (hiker’s plate)—start with their Charcuterie Plate, aselection of three award-winning charcuterie items, all made in-house, and accompanied by fresh homemade bread. Potato Latkes have a special kick of horseradishaioli. Their Cheese And Charcuterie Plate pairs a chef’s choice of two house meats and two artisan cheeses with fresh homemade sunflower oat toast. Meats could include a duck pate or mortadella. You can also order perfectly cooked smoked salmon or bacon. There’s a unique selection of warm, cozy-sounding soups on the menu, as well as larger plates with choices such as Risotto and Schnitzel. 

Table, Donkey and Stick is located at 2728 W. Armitage Avenue. They are open Sunday through Thursday for dinner, 5pm-9pm, and Friday and Saturday, 5pm-10pm. They are closed Mondays. 

Walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are highly recommended. Click here for reservations. 

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Don’t like veggies? Try roasting them!

Various roasted fruits and vegetables

Now that it is finally cool enough to crank up that oven it’s time for roasting vegetables! Roasting brings out the natural sugars in vegetables, which helps get that char and crisp tender texture. They make a great flavorful side dish, or you can add meat or eggs for a healthy main dish, and make even the most anti-vegetables, veggie-hating person turn into a roasted veggie lover!

Here’s what you should know:

Be creative when choosing vegetables to roast. Relatively any vegetable can be roasted. We think of root vegetables like onions, potatoes, carrots, and parsnips when roasting, but don’t be afraid to expand. 

Try cruciferous veggies like cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and broccoli. Try a colorful medley of peppers thickly sliced with onions. Tomatoes are delicious roasted since it really intensifies that tomato flavor (especially the not too wonderful out of season tomatoes). Asparagus and zucchini really take to roasting also. 

Roast an entire bulb of garlic with olive oil, wrapped in foil till soft. It’s great on toasted French bread and makes the most flavorful mashed potatoes!

Vegetables will all roast at different times. The one constant is a hot oven. Preheat your oven for at least 20 minutes at 425 degrees. Preheat your sheet pan for ten minutes. 

Always use oil to get that delicious roasted flavor. Olive and avocado oils are both healthy and flavorful, but you don’t need more than a tablespoon or so for an entire sheet pan.

 Toss the cut vegetables with the oil and any other seasonings. Your choices are endless! Sea salt and freshly ground pepper is always a good start, then add whatever you like. Garlic is good on nearly everything, fresh or granulated. Red pepper flakes add a spicy punch. Fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, parsley, and chives add dimension. Carrots and different squashes are great with a brown sugar glaze. 

Place vegetables cut side down on your preheated baking sheets, leaving space. Roast until tender and slightly charred. If you are roasting several different vegetables, simply stagger the cooking, starting with long cookers like potatoes and carrots and ending with quick cookers like beans, peppers, and zucchini. Your total time will go from 15-20 minutes for asparagus to 40 or more for potatoes and carrots. 

Happy roasting!

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago

6 Christmas Tree Decorating Ideas For The Holiday Season

Golden Christmas decorations with large details and a beautiful matching presents

The holidays are typically marked with all sorts of festive decorations, but perhaps none is more prominent and attention-grabbing than a Christmas Tree. When it comes to decorating your tree, you don’t necessarily have to break out the same old decorations year after year.

To change things up this year, try any one of the following Christmas tree decorating ideas.

1. Spray Paint the Tree

You’ve probably seen cotton candy-blue or bubblegum-pink trees in storefront windows or mall corridors. If you think a brightly colored tree is something that would fare well in your home this holiday season, all you need is a can of spray paint to make it happen. Rather than searching far and wide for that perfectly-hued tree, it’s a lot easier to create your own with a simple can of spray paint from your local hardware store.

Paint the entire tree in full, or go a little more subdued by spraying just the tips of the branches. Just make sure to use a non-toxic paint (especially if you’ve got children or pets running around), and don’t start decorating until the paint has thoroughly dried.

2. Match the Theme of the Room

When choosing a color scheme for your tree, consider blending it in with the rest of the room that it’s in. If you’ve got steel blue and burnt orange throw pillows and accents in your living room, add these same colors to the tree. Likewise, if gold and silver tableware is scattered on your dining room table, these same metallics can be incorporated on your tree to create a sophisticated statement piece that could literally stick around in your space all year long.

3. Match the Gifts Beneath

You can shift gears with the matching strategy and make your tree’s decor follow the same color theme as the presents tucked underneath. If you’re doing all the gift-wrapping this year, consider using paper and all the trimmings in a specific color theme that can be extended to the tree itself. By using the same festive ribbons and bows on both the gifts and the tree itself, you can create a cohesive and uniform look throughout your space.

4. Light the Tree With Faux Candles

When Christmas trees started to become popular in the 1800s, people didn’t have the convenience of plug-in light strings. Instead, they placed lit candles on the trees to light them up. Of course, this is hazardous to do indoors, but you can mimic the look of the traditional tree by placing battery-operated candles all over it to capture the essence of Christmas past.

5. Group Small Ornaments Together

To add some visual interest to your Christmas tree, gather all those small ornaments of similar size, shape, and color and group them into clusters. Pin them deep inside the branches as well as on the tips to create some depth to the tree’s decor. These bundles of ornaments will look more grandiose compared to leaving them on their own.

6. Store Your Candy on the Tree

Christmas is definitely a time of presents and eggnog, but it’s also a time for festive candy. All those candy canes and candy corns that you collect over the holidays don’t have to be stored away or left on table tops. Instead, you can use them as decorations for your tree. Candy has a unique playful and fanciful effect on trees, and if that’s the look you’re going for, don’t hesitate to use them as part of your overall decorating theme.

The Bottom Line

There really aren’t any restrictions when it comes to how you choose to decorate your Christmas tree this year. Whether you’re looking for something more traditional, subdued, vibrant, unique, eclectic, or whimsical, the options are seemingly endless when you put your imagination and creativity into it. Try any one of the above Christmas tree decorating ideas to create something different this year.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Getting into the Christmas Spirit!

Tis the season, calligraphy style hand lettering design in trendy pink, cold green, gold colors

Two holidays down and one left to go!  It’s time to get into the Christmas spirit with the following holiday events for this weekend.

If you’ve missed Chicago’s 110th Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony this past Friday, don’t fret.  The City of Chicago Christmas Tree will remain on display until early January at Millennium Park (55 N. Michigan Ave.) near Washington Street and Michigan Avenue in the Loop.  This year’s tree is a 45-foot Colorado Blue Spruce donated by the De La Cruz family of Darien, IL and is decorated with tons of twinkling lights and crowned with an illuminated star!

The largest outdoor and indoor holiday experience is being held at Navy Pier (600 E. Grand Ave.) in the Streeterville neighborhood through December 31stLight Up The Lake features dazzling outdoor lakefront light displays, an outdoor ice skating rink with a breathtaking backdrop of Lake Michigan, toasty firepits to cozy up at while roasting s’mores, fireworks on Saturdays, and more.  The indoor winter fun is held at the gigantic 170,000 square foot Festival Hall featuring kiddie train rides, a regulation-size Alpine ice-skating rink, a 600,000-bulb light show made up of themed sculptures, a Winter Wonderfest Forest, and more.  Embrace the holiday season with this perfect balance of free and ticketed activities for guests of all ages!

Check out the new and exciting displays, photo ops, and interactive programming for this year’s ZooLights held at Lincoln Park Zoo (2400 N. Cannon Dr.) in the Lincoln Park neighborhood now through January 7, 2024.  Once again, over 2.5 million LED lights including hundreds of luminous LED displays, and a variety of seasonal experiences will be featured along with carolers, glow toys, hot chocolate, firepits for roasting s’mores, and professional ice carvers!

A one-of-a-kind experience awaits you at Gallagher Way (3635 N. Clark St.) in the Wrigleyville neighborhood now through January 7, 2024.  Wintrust’s Winterland at Gallagher Way offers wintry attractions inside historic Wrigley Field which includes a 12,000 square foot ice rink for ice skating and ice bumper cars, on-field games, a miniature infield train, carnival rides and games, and more!

Explore rich holiday traditions from around the globe at this year’s Christmas Around the World at the Museum of Science & Industry (5700 S. Lake Shore Dr.) in the Hyde Park neighborhood now through January 7, 2024.  Once again, its four-story Grand Tree is surrounded by over 50 trees representing Chicago’s various communities showcasing their holiday celebrations.  For more seasonal cheer, visit the Holidays of Light exhibit recognizing the traditions of Chinese New Year, Diwali, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Hanukkah, Visakha Puja Day, and St. Lucia Day.  Don’t forget to stop by and visit Santa in his festive photo studio for your holiday souvenir photo!

Finally, Chicago’s original Hanukkah bar returns by popular demand for its third year in a row.  8 Crazy Nights takes over The Graystone Tavern (3441 N. Sheffield Ave.) in the Wrigleyville neighborhood now through January 7, 2024.  In addition to Graystone’s customary 14,000+ blue and white lights and Hanukkah decorations throughout the indoor area, its beer garden has been weather-proofed for those who wish to take their celebrating outdoors.  Plus, guests can dine on Hanukkah classics such as matzo ball soup, latkes, and more, as well as play board games like Mitzvah Match, Schmear Build-A-Bagel card game, Jewish Guess Who, and more!

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Neighborhood News: ‘Disney100: The Exhibition’ celebrates a century of magic in Logan Square

Disney's Mickey and Minnie mouse cartoon character figurines

The Walt Disney Company began “with a mouse and a dream” a century ago. It was the dream of a Chicago boy named Walter Elias Disneyand his brother Roy. Walt Disney was born on December 5, 1901, at 1249 Tripp Avenue, in Chicago’s Hermosa neighborhood. His home is now a museum

After attending McKinley High School and cartooning for the school newspaper, he and his brother established Laugh-O-Gram Studio, and moved to Hollywood in July 1923 at age 21, according to Wikipedia sources.Although New York was the center of the cartoon industry, he was attracted to Los Angeles because his brother was convalescing from tuberculosis there, and Disney hoped to become a live-action film director. Mickey Mouse first appeared in May 1928.

The rest, as they say, is Disney magic. 

Lots more Disney magic will be on display at Logan Square’s Disney100: The Exhibition, at the  Exhibition Hub Art Center, 2367 W. Logan Boulevard, (formerly known as the Windy City Fieldhouse) now through early 2024. 

Disney-philes young and old can delight in more than 250 artifacts and props, costumes from Disney classics, and explore enchanting galleries that bring the magic of Disney to life. Images and displays from the recent acquisitions of Pixar, Star Wars, and MARVEL sit along the likes of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and recent releases such as Encanto (2021). 

Secret Chicago promises poses with the ‘Incredibles Family’ from Disney and Pixar’s The Incredibles(2004), or snapping a photo with Mickey, Goofy, or Dopey.

According to a Sun-Times article, there’s even a hologram of Walt Disney. As the Sun-Times recounts. “People will actually see the man himself.”

The date of the opening of Disney100 coincides with Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse’s birthday. The pair made their first on-screen appearance in Steamboat Willie, which premiered in New York City on November 18, 1928. 

Disney100: The Exhibition’s hours are Monday and Wednesday– Friday 9:30am–7pm (last session 5:30pm), Saturday, 9am–8:30pm (last session 7pm), and Sunday, 9am–7pm (last session 5:30pm). The exhibit is closed on Tuesdays. For tickets, click here.

Walt Disney Day in Chicago on December 5

The Sun-Times also mentions another Disney celebration: December 5 is ‘Walt Disney Day’ in Chicago. The Walt Disney Birthplace at (a rezoned) 2156 N. Tripp Avenue plans to have treats, music and other holiday-themed activities outside the home on that day. For more information, click here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Restaurant Review: For a nice change of pace, try West Loop’s Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ

Wagyu beef on a grill with bell peppers and onions

If you’re tired of turkey and stuffing after this week’s celebration, a great alternative for dining on Friday or any other night might be Gyu-Kaku, a charming Japanese BBQ in the West Loop. 

It was at Gyu-Kaku that I learned that “small plates” are a universal phenomenon.

My friends and I sampled from the Happy Hour menu (Monday–Friday 2pm–5pm,) where prices are reduced, sometimes by half, on their regular menu. And for someone like me, who’s never experienced Japanese BBQ before, it was a great introduction!

Gyu-Kaku, or “Horn of the Bull” in Japanese, according to its website, provides an authentic Japanese yakiniku (grilled barbecue) dining experience where customers share premium cooked meats over a flaming smokeless grill, while sipping on Japanese sake, shochu, and frosty cold beers. (Or, one of their tasty tropical drinks! I recommend their Tropical Sunshine!)

We shared several small plates from their huge menu, including Yuzu Shishito Peppers which were fried shishito chili peppers in Japanese yuzu citrus sauce. While they promise that they’re “almost always mild,” my friend warned me that every ninth or tenth might be …spicy! Delicious, tangy and tender. Another friend had their Napa Kimchi Napa Kimchi, which was lightly spicy pickled cabbage. Another friend had us salivating over their Spicy Addicting Cucumber, which was fresh cucumbers in crunchy garlic chili oil, with a dash of Shio Tare, sesame oil, and sesame seeds.

I was crazy for their Vegetarian Bibimbap, a huge bowl of seasoned rice festooned with lightly steamed asparagus, mushrooms, broccoli, and other vegetables. I also appreciated the handy guides and attentive servers who told you exactly how long meats and fish should cook. 

My friends and I enjoyed cooking proteins such as fresh shrimp, spicy pork, and thinly sliced steak. We shared it all while laughing and talking. 

A word about the service: they’re attentive, yet not intrusive. They work overtime to make sure you understand their cooking concept and make sure you enjoy the process as much as their food. 

I wished I’d had room for dessert! S’mores sounded like such a fun way to use the smokeless barbecue to end the meal. Also, they had mochi and tea ice cream, and several other selections. Next time!

I’m not the only one who’s impressed. So is this Open Table reviewer:

“Always a fun experience as a date or with a group great meal prices for what you get the cocktails are sweet. It is a great interactive experience. I personally enjoyed going on a date or bringing a group of friends and it’s always fun and the flavor is always up to par.”

Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ is located at 1364 W. Randolph. They are open Sunday–Thursday from 11am–10pm, and Friday and Saturday, 11am-11pm. Reservations are recommended. Click here.

Thankful for you!! 

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Setting family boundaries

A businessman and woman have troubles understanding each other vector illustration

This time of year is a good time to think about setting and keeping boundaries, especially around family. If you find yourself breaking out in a cold sweat, or if your heart starts racing at the thought of attending the family Thanksgiving, it might be good for you to keep reading. You need to set a standard for how you want to be treated. Anyone can benefit, especially those who have spent years in a toxic family environment. Standards and boundaries can be beneficial for both the person setting them and the person on the receiving end!

First, you need to communicate your boundaries clearly and calmly. Follow a basic conversation template. “If you say or do X, I will have to do Y”. It could be as simple as telling a parent, “If you make a remark about my outfit, I will need to leave the table”. It can even get to the point where you can say, “If you continue to disrespect my partner, we won’t be able to attend family dinners anymore.” This is not a request; it simply makes clear what you will not tolerate. But always follow through.

You can give a person the chance to course correct. You can tell your cousin, “I’m not OK with being talked to like that, if you continue, I will have to leave.” Then do just that if they persist. You can also explain why you are asking for a particular boundary. If your grandmother pushes food at you and won’t stop you can simply say, “The food is delicious, I am trying to eat a little healthier now and enjoyed the serving I had. Perhaps I could take some home to enjoy tomorrow.” Tell her what a wonderful time you are having. Maybe she just wants you to enjoy your time at home and food is her love language. 

Don’t let yourself become so invested in how others react to you. Oftentimes it’s not ill-will that causes family to act the way they do. It can be simply thoughtlessness or a misunderstanding, so do your best not to take everything they say to heart. And try not to feel resentful if you are also not receiving much in return. Think: I will take as much as I give. 

Keep in mind that this is an ongoing process. These things don’t happen overnight, especially with family members. The whole family system may have to shift, but it will be beneficial for all. Sometimes, you may find yourself on the receiving end so take it in stride as long as the request is healthy. Boundaries are hard, for both the person setting them and the one on the receiving end. But they do act as a way of connection and can strengthen family bonds. 

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago