Smart Strategies: 7 Money-Saving Tips for Homeowners

happy young mixed race woman holding a piggybank and depositing a coin as savings

Owning a home is a fulfilling accomplishment, but it comes with its fair share of financial responsibilities. From mortgage payments to maintenance costs, homeownership can quickly eat away at your budget if not managed wisely. However, with some strategic planning and savvy decision-making, you can significantly reduce your expenses and save money in the long run. Here are some practical money-saving tips for homeowners:

1. Energy Efficiency Upgrades

Invest in energy-efficient appliances, LED light bulbs, programmable thermostats, and adequate insulation. These upgrades may require an initial investment but can significantly lower your utility bills over time.

2. Regular Maintenance

Stay on top of home maintenance tasks such as HVAC system servicing, gutter cleaning, and roof inspections. Addressing issues promptly can prevent costly repairs down the road.

3. DIY Projects

Learn basic DIY skills to tackle minor repairs and maintenance tasks around the house. Simple tasks like painting, caulking, and basic plumbing can be done without hiring professionals, saving you money on labor costs.

4. Comparison Shopping

Whether you’re buying furniture, appliances, or home improvement materials, always compare prices from multiple retailers. Take advantage of sales, discounts, and coupons to get the best deals.

5. Home Security Systems

Installing a home security system not only provides peace of mind but can also lower your homeowner’s insurance premiums. Many insurance companies offer discounts for homes with security features such as alarms and surveillance cameras.

6. Water-Saving Fixtures

Install low-flow showerheads, faucets, and toilets to reduce water consumption and lower your water bills. Look for products with the WaterSense label, which indicates they meet water efficiency criteria set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

By implementing these money-saving tips, homeowners can effectively manage their finances and reduce the overall cost of homeownership. Whether it’s cutting down on energy expenses, finding ways to save on maintenance and repairs, or exploring opportunities to generate extra income, there are plenty of strategies available to help homeowners keep more money in their pockets. With careful planning and smart decision-making, you can enjoy the benefits of homeownership without breaking the bank.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Break Time from Spring Cleaning Projects!

time for a break cloud lettering effect

Looks like we’re going to have some mild temps over the weekend so why not take a break from your spring-cleaning projects and enjoy the various events taking place this weekend!

Now in its 11th year, EXPO Chicago returns to Navy Pier’s Festival Hall (600 E. Grand Ave.) in the Streeterville neighborhood this Saturday and Sunday.  This year’s 170+ prominent contemporary galleries come from 29 countries and more than 75 cities.  This year’s show will feature towering installations, sprawling canvases, intriguing sculptures, and more.  In addition, immersive programming, speakers, dynamic panels with art world leaders, and more will put you in a creative spirit!

Returning for its second year, The Other Art Fair Chicago takes place Saturday (11 a.m.-7 p.m.) and Sunday (11 a.m.-6 p.m.) at Artifact Events (4325 N. Ravenswood Ave.) in the Lakeview neighborhood.  On hand will be over 100 local, national, and international independent and emerging artists displaying original artworks across a variety of mediums and a range of prices from $100 to $10,000 at this juried fine art fair.  Plus, there will be artist installations, an art swap shop, interactive workshops, DJ sets, food trucks, and more.  Art is for everyone at this event!

The 5th annual Northwest Brewfest 2024 takes place this Saturday (12 p.m.-4 p.m.) at Guild Row (new location:  3130 N. Rockwell St.) in the Avondale neighborhood.  This event celebrates breweries on the Northwest Side of Chicago which include Revolution, Old Irving, Twisted Hippo, Ravinia, and others serving their local craft beers, cider, mead, and more.  Three ticket tiers are being offered that include VIP ($60), General ($45), and DD ($25 and serving non-alcoholic samples).  There will also be food for purchase and a DJ bringing the beats.  Come show your support and meet the local brewers as you sample their beverages created right here in Chicago!

Bringing together tea enthusiasts and vendors from all over the world, the annual Chicago Tea Festival takes place Saturday (10 a.m.-6 p.m.) and Sunday (11 a.m.-5 p.m.) at Copernicus Center (5216 W. Lawrence Ave.) in the Jefferson Park neighborhood.  It’s the ultimate tea experience where local, national, and international vendors showcase their products and share their knowledge as you discover new flavors and expand your own tea knowledge.  In addition, this festival also offers professional tea cupping sessions (ticketed separately), educational workshops, book signings, a Japanese Tea Ceremony, and much more special tea related events as you immerse yourself in the world of tea!

‘Batman 1989’ in Concert is celebrating the 35th anniversary of Warner Bros. Pictures’ iconic 1989 DC Superhero film Batman at the Auditorium Theatre (50 E. Ida B. Wells Dr.) in The Loop this Saturday (7:30 p.m.-10 p.m.).  A screening of the film will be accompanied by the Chicago Philharmonic’s 50-person orchestra conducted by James Olmstead bringing the movie’s captivating score to life.  Also, guests are encouraged to come dressed in their favorite DC Superhero costume or just a fabulous outfit for an opportunity to win Chicago Philharmonic concert tickets.  Come and experience the Caped Crusader like never before!

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Neighborhood News: From Silent Film Nickelodeon to Live Theater Mecca-Mercury Theater Chicago in Lakeview

the mercury theater in chicago

In 1910, the burgeoning Chicago silent film industry gained a North Side location with the opening of The Blaine Theatre, a new  nickelodeon, named after the actor and former Senator and Secretary of StateJames G. Blaine. 

Why name it after Blaine? There’s no direct correlation noted, but perhaps it was because the Pennsylvania native, according to Wikipedia sources, began his political career as an early supporter of Republican Abraham Lincoln and the Union war effort in the American Civil War, and during Reconstruction, Blaine was a supporter of black suffrage. 

The Mercury Theater Chicago is in the “heart of the Southport Corridor” at 3745 North  Southport Avenue. Today, Mercury Theater Chicago is a live theater seating 280 people, as well as the adjoining Venus Cabaret Theater, which seats 80 and offers a unique, intimate theatrical experience complemented by specialty cocktails.

In the beginning…

According to the Encyclopedia of Chicago History,  Chicago helped launch the movie industry in the United States in the early 1900s. The new Blaine Theater played silent movies with live musical accompaniment.  

However, after the advent of the talkies the theater was replaced with the larger, state of the art Music Box theater, just two doors south.  Subsequently the building was converted into commercial use, first as a sort of indoor mall and then later into a rug cleaning business. 

A 1990’s Resurgence 

The building served a variety of uses until 1994 when it was purchased by theater producer Michael Cullen and transformed into a live theatre, naming it the Mercury Theater after Orson Welles’ famous troupe of ‘War of the Worlds’ fame. Though little of the Blaine remains, decorative plaster pilaster busts still flank the house. The exposed brick walls and 292 seats were recovered and refurbished from a 1933-era Boston movie house.

A Covid-19 closure

In 2010, the building was sold again and reopened as Mercury Theater Chicago under the direction of Walter  Stearns, a veteran theater director and producer. As Theatre World reported, Mercury Theater Chicago produced 25 plays and musicals, including 4 world-premieres and 4 productions which were extended to over 100 shows. In its tenure, the Mercury employed 975 actors, musicians, designers, and arts administrators, and entertained nearly 400,000 audience members. The theater had also raised and donated $100,000 to Season of Concern, the charity that provides emergency care to Chicago artists, and has produced benefits for cancer, ALS, and AIDS charities, in addition to other theater companies. The theater hosted memorial services, weddings, and surprise engagements, and has given a home to community meetings, rehearsals, and photo shoots.

“Closing is painful but necessary”

As the Covid-19 pandemic closed hundreds of Chicago businesses in 2020-22, the Mercury Theater nearly gave up the ghost. As  Business  Manager Eugene Dizon, Stearns’ business/life partner, told Theatre World, “We cannot plan for an imaginary future. Closing is painful but necessary.”

‘Another Opening, Another Show’ 2021

But in 2021, as reported by the Chicago Reader, the Mercury Theater was reborn, in part, because of the Shuttered Venues Operators Grant (SVOG) program through the Small Business Administration. Stearns told the Reader, “That really is helping us because if we’re able to get some of that revenue that we lost last year, that’s going to help us obviously ramp up as well. We also did some refinancing and other things to become much more stable financially than I think we thought we could be.” 

The theater added new life to the staging of  performances when Christopher Chase Cartercame on board as the new Artistic Director. 

Today 

The Mercury Theater, the little theater that could, re-opened for business for the 2021-22 season in November with the blockbuster hit ‘Sister Act.’ 

Currently, they’re staging the Tony Award-winning  jukebox bio-musical ‘Jersey Boys,’ the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, inspired by the lives of band members Valli, Tommy DeVito, Bob Gaudio and Nick Massi, through July 28.  For tickets  click here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Restaurant Review: James Beard Finalist Indienne delivers inspired cuisine in River North

assortment of indian food in bowls and pans

A Wednesday quiz: Name the only Michelin-starred restaurant serving Indian cuisine Chicago

Answer: River North’s  Indienne,  where Chef Sujan Sarkarwas announced last week as a finalist as Best Chef: Great Lakes, in the 2024 James Beard Foundation Award competition. 

Sarkar has worked with other South Asian touchstones, including Rooh and a new West Loop coffee shop, Swadesi Cafe. As noted by Tock, Chef Sarkar, who grew up in Kolkata, honed his culinary skills in London’s  Michelin-starred kitchens, and is devoted to “defining, and redefining, the limitless potential of Indian cuisine”

He certainly has at Indienne, where Chef Sarkar’s six-course seasonal Tasting Menus are divided into Vegetarian, Non-Vegetarian, and Pescitarian. Their $115-$125 price tag may seem steep, but quality and course-wise, you’d pay that and more for an experience like this!

Take, for example, their Vegetarian menu, which starts off with MUSHROOM (GALOUTI) an eclair, with goat cheese, and truffle DAHI (BHALLA) with lentil donut, tamarind, mint, and raspberry, AVOCADO (KABAB) pairs green pea, toasted Ponkh (millet), and Tonburi (black seeds).JACKFRUIT (HALEEM) has potato mousse, caramelised onion, and taftan. BUTTERNUT (MANTI) has the squash with parmesan yakhani, and winter truffle. The meal concludes with delicious treats, including peanut fudge, mango cream tarts, and sesame chikki. 

Their Pescatarian Tasting Menu includes several of the vegetarian examples, as well as SCALLOP (BALCHAO) with cauliflower, golden Kaluga, and Finger Limes. CRAB (BISI BELE BATH) with arborio rice, Dosa crumble, and puffed quinoa. SEA BASS (MOILEE) has courgette and Lemon Air, black dairy dal, and is served with garlic naan. CHOCOLATE (PHIRNI)includes an Apple Halwa Cake, Nolen Our Ice Cream, and Cryo. 

Google reviews were ecstatic:

“We celebrated our son’s birthday at Indienne and it was a such a wonderful experience!! We had the vegetarian prefix menu and my nephew had non-vegetarian. The food was delicious and each dish was unique and presented beautifully. The service was impeccable. It is a one Michelin star restaurant and I definitely recommend trying it! Enjoy!”

“Highly deserving of the Michelin star. Such a gem of a place in Chicago with a BOLD tasting menu. My friend and I both tried the Vegetarian menu. Incredibly inventive flavors paired with a great cocktail and wine menu. The ambiance is charmingly minimalist and the service is second to none. Definitely not the average “fine dining” restaurant.”

Defining and redefining tastes indeed!

NOTES: The restaurant asks to be apprised of  of all allergies and dietary restrictions at least 48 hours in advance. “While we do our best to welcome all dietary needs, some regretfully cannot be accommodated,” they say on their website. Additionally, they “kindly require any children attending to be at least 9 years of age.”

Indienne is located at 217 W. Huron Street. They are open Monday -Saturday, 5pm-10pm, and are closed on Sunday. For reservations and information, click here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Sustainable Eating

salad from sea kale with egg and green peas

Many people are looking not just for healthy eating but foods that are sustainable. Aka, foods that are produced with the mindset of not depleting the earth and other natural resources – or better yet, leave the earth better off! The following are several foods to consider if you want to eat sustainably:

Grass fed beef and lamb. These can be the most controversial when speaking about sustainability, but it can be done by rotating livestock with crops. This builds soil carbon that can offset animal emissions. Grass is rich in nutrients which humans can’t digest. So, we eat animals that can!

Oats. Oats are another good sustainable choice if grown without artificial chemicals. They are a good break crop that can be sown in between harvests to replenish the soil. Although they aren’t a nutritional replacement for dairy, they are healthy. They can also replace corn-based breakfasts. Corn is a much less sustainable crop. 

Fruit and vegetables. Locally grown fruits and vegetables are the most sustainable, but even shopping at your local grocer can be sustainable. Try to buy in season. These fruits and veggies will be grown the closest to your area and less resources are used to bring them to market. If you have the circumstances, try to grow your own as much as you can using organic means. You can also choose farmers markets or community gardens.

Bivalves. Mussels and other bivalves like oysters, clams and scallops thrive on microscopic organic matter, including agricultural runoff. So their cultivation transforms waste into delicious food! Wild mussel fisheries create habitats for fish and other small invertebrates. 

Legumes. Legumes like beans and lentils are very healthy as well as sustainable. They don’t need fertilizer like other plants. Their root nodules contain bacteria that converts atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia. The nodules also increase organic matter within the soil by feeding microbial life which after it dies ensures the carbon stays locked in. 

Seaweed. This is definitely a superfood that is super sustainable. Seaweed can reduce the acidification of the ocean which enables sea life to flourish. You can also grow seaweed in areas where there is agricultural runoff converting these pollutants into nutrients. 

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago

Making Moving Easier: The Power of Decluttering

woman hands holding clothes putting in a donation box

Moving to a new home can be an exciting and transformative experience, but the process of packing up and relocating can also be daunting and overwhelming. One powerful way to ease the transition and simplify the moving process is through the practice of decluttering. By strategically purging unnecessary belongings and organizing possessions, individuals can not only reduce stress and streamline the moving process but also optimize space in their new home. This article explores the benefits of decluttering before a move, provides practical strategies for efficient decluttering, and offers tips for letting go of sentimental items. Whether you’re downsizing, relocating to a new city, or simply seeking a fresh start, embracing the power of decluttering can make your moving journey smoother and more manageable.

The Benefits of Decluttering Before a Move

Reducing Stress and Overwhelm

Moving is stressful enough without dragging along unnecessary clutter. Decluttering before a move can help lighten the load both mentally and physically, making the whole process more manageable.

Streamlining the Moving Process

By decluttering before packing, you’ll save time and effort during the moving process. You’ll know exactly what you’re taking with you, making unpacking in your new place a breeze.

Strategies for Efficient Decluttering

Room-by-Room Approach

Take on decluttering one room at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Breaking it down into smaller tasks makes the process more manageable and allows you to focus on one area at a time.

Decluttering Timeline and Schedule

Set a decluttering timeline leading up to your move. By planning ahead and setting aside specific times for decluttering, you can stay on track and ensure everything gets sorted before moving day.

Sorting and Organizing Possessions

Categorizing Items: Keep, Donate, Sell, Discard

Sort your belongings into categories to make decisions easier. Create piles for items to keep, donate, sell, or discard, helping you prioritize what to do with each possession.

Utilizing Storage Solutions

Consider using storage solutions like bins, baskets, and shelving to keep your belongings organized during the decluttering process. This can help you maintain a tidy space and make it easier to find things when packing.

Letting Go: Tips for Decluttering Sentimental Items

Embracing Minimalism

When it comes to sentimental items, focus on keeping those that truly hold special meaning for you. Embrace the idea of minimalism by letting go of items that no longer serve a purpose or bring you joy.

Creating Digital Keepsakes

Preserve memories without holding onto physical items by creating digital keepsakes. Scan photographs, letters, and other sentimental items to save them digitally, reducing clutter while still keeping cherished memories alive.

Selling, Donating, or Discarding: Making Decisions on What to Do with Decluttered Items

Maximizing Value: Selling Strategies

When it comes to decluttering, deciding what to do with your items can be a bit of a head-scratcher. Whether it’s selling that old lamp or donating those jeans that haven’t seen the light of day in years, making the right choice is crucial. We dive into selling strategies that can help you get the most bang for your buck.

Choosing the Right Donation Centers

Let’s face it, parting ways with your belongings can be emotional. But knowing they will go to a good cause can ease the separation anxiety. We share tips on how to choose the right donation centers so you can feel good about giving back while decluttering.

Maximizing Space in Your New Home Through Decluttering

Organizing Tips for Each Room

So, you’ve decluttered like a champ, but now what? Maximizing space in your new abode is the next step. From organizing your kitchen to revamping your closet, we’ve got tips and tricks for every room in your home to make the most of your newly acquired space.

Furnishing and Layout Considerations

You’ve Marie Kondo’d your way through your belongings, but what about your furniture and layout? We discuss how to strategically arrange your furniture and make layout decisions that can enhance the spaciousness and functionality of your new dwelling.

Maintaining a Clutter-Free Lifestyle After the Move

Establishing New Habits and Routines

Decluttering isn’t just a one-time gig; it’s a way of life. We chat about how to establish new habits and routines post-move that can help you maintain a clutter-free space and prevent the dreaded re-cluttering phenomenon.

Regular Decluttering Maintenance Plan

The key to a clutter-free home is consistency. We offer a roadmap for creating a regular decluttering maintenance plan that ensures you stay on top of your belongings and continue to enjoy the benefits of a tidy and organized living space.In conclusion, decluttering before a move is a transformative process that goes beyond just physical belongings—it can free up mental space, reduce the burden of excess possessions, and pave the way for a more organized and intentional lifestyle in your new home. By embracing the principles of decluttering, making mindful decisions about what to keep, donate, sell, or discard, and maintaining a clutter-free environment post-move, you can create a living space that truly reflects who you are and allows you to thrive. So, as you embark on your moving journey, remember the power of decluttering and the positive impact it can have on your life.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – To the Markets We Will Go!

retro pickup truck and handwriting farmers market lettering

Chicago celebrates the opening of various spring markets this first of April weekends for your browsing and shopping pleasure. Come join us as we go to the markets!

One of the city’s most popular outdoor farmer’s markets, Green City Market, will be celebrating its opening day and 25th anniversary this Saturday (7 a.m.-1 p.m.) and will continue to run on Saturdays through November at the south end of Lincoln Park between Clark Street and Stockton Drive in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.  This market offers the best of the Midwest with dozens of local, sustainable farmers and food producers offering farm-fresh eggs from Michigan, cheese from Wisconsin, and so much more.  The Opening Day Ceremony will be held at the center of the market beginning at 9 a.m. with remarks by Green City Market and community leaders along with a cake-cutting ceremony, a culinary demo, and free food samples from some of the market’s vendors!

Featuring the Art of Design with exhibitors from across the U.S., the Design & Jewelry Show – Then & Now! takes place this Saturday (10 a.m.-6 p.m.) and Sunday (10 a.m.-5 p.m.) at Plumbers Hall (1340 W. Washington Blvd.) in the West Loop.  Exhibitors will be offering the finest in modernism, vintage and estate jewelry, Tiffany Studios lamps, art deco, antiques, and much more.  Plus, a portion of the proceeds will benefit PAWS Chicago!

Unveil a diverse collection of unusual items at the Oddities Flea Market this Saturday (11 a.m.-7 p.m.) and Sunday (11 a.m.-6 p.m.) at Morgan MFG (401 N. Morgan St.) in the West Loop.  Each market presents lovingly curated items for macabre enthusiasts which include anatomical curiosities, natural wonders, taxidermy, antiques, home décor, jewelry, and more.  Afterwards, indulge your morbid desires at the after-party featuring dance music, grotesque visuals, interactive exhibits, a few surprises, and more.  You’ll be dazzled by wonders unimagined!

Are you looking for one-of-a-kind treasures from over hundreds of local small businesses at a curated indoor marketplace?  Then head on over to the Chicago Artisan Spring Market this Saturday and Sunday (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) at Artifact Events (4325 N. Ravenswood Ave.) in the Lakeview neighborhood.  This market offers the best in Chicago food, fashion, home goods, and art as well as an opportunity to learn how the products are made.  Plus, well-behaved dogs are welcome to join you, and tickets are discounted if purchased in advance!

One of the biggest annual events in Greektown Chicago (300 S. Halsted St.) takes place this Sunday (2:30 p.m.-5 p.m.) with the Greek Heritage Parade.  Come celebrate the rich Hellenic culture and identity of the Greek community with a parade featuring colorful traditional costumes, traditional Greek music, dance troupe performances, and more as they commemorate Greek independence.  Plus, grab a bite to eat at the neighborhood’s best restaurants, and check out art and jewelry at the various local shops!

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Neighborhood News: Where to watch Monday’s Solar Eclipse in Chicago

2024 solar eclipse graphic

On Monday, April 8, for the second time in a decade, Chicago will experience a partial solar eclipse.

The last total solar eclipse was in 2017.

A partial solar eclipse, according to NASA, happens when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth but the Sun, Moon, and Earth are not perfectly lined up. Only a part of the Sun will appear to be covered, giving it a crescent shape. During a total or annular solar eclipse, people outside the area covered by the Moon’s inner shadow see a partial solar eclipse.

In the U.S., according to an ABC News report, the path of totality, i.e.  the track of the moon’s shadow across Earth’s surface, begins in Texas and will travel through Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

While Chicago won’t have the 100% totality that other parts of Illinois (primarily Southern Illinois) will have, Chicagoans will still get the lion’s share of the eclipse, with around 94% totality. The sun’s path behind the moon will travel through our area from 12:51 pm to 3:22 p.m., reaching peak totality at 2:07 p.m.

What is an eclipse?

According to NASA’s website, solar eclipses happen when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, casting a shadow on Earth that either fully or partially blocks the Sun’s light in some areas. This only happens occasionally, because the Moon doesn’t orbit in the exact same plane as the Sun and Earth do. The time when they are aligned is known as eclipse season, which happens twice a year.

After April 2024, the next total solar eclipse visible in the U.S. will happen in August 2044. 

Eclipse Events Around Chicago

Thereare numerous events aroundChicago,but the world-renowned Adler Planetarium1300 S. DuSable Lake Shore Drive, is hosting Eclipse Encounter ’24, a free outdoor event featuring safe solar viewing through telescopes on the Telescope Terrace, telescopes for solar projection and eclipse photography.free solar viewer giveaways (while supplies last), and photo opportunities with Big Solar Eclipse glasses. Attendees are encouraged to walk around, hang out, and observe the sky while the eclipse is happening. Tickets are not required for this free outdoor (weather dependent) event. For more information, click here.

At the Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. DuSable Lake Shore Drive, from 10 am to 3:30 pm,  there are no free events, but all eclipse activities are included in museum admission. You can check out the eclipse up close with telescopic viewing of the Moon crossing the Sun’s path through  solar telescopes, watch a NASA livestream with the Museum’s own NASA Solar System Ambassador, or take part in family- and student-friendly hands-on activities. MSI will also have satellite locations at Millennium Park, the Michigan Avenue bridge, Oak Street Beach, and the DuSable Museum. For tickets and information, click here.

Pullman National Historical Park and State Historic Site,  614 E. 113th Street, is hosting an eclipse viewing party from 1-3 pm featuring NASA Ambassador Mark Benson. The free event includes eclipse-themed snacks, a limited number of viewing glasses, hands-on activities with the NPS Rangers, and an Ask a NASA Ambassador Q&A session. The park advises people to bring lawn chairs if you need seating. 

Tips for Watching the Eclipse

Protect your eyes!! 

According to the National Eye Institute, solar eclipses can be viewed safely by looking through special-purpose solar filters. These filters must meet an international standard, indicated by ISO 12312-2 certification. They must have the manufacturer’s name and address printed somewhere in the product, and not be older than three years or have any scratches on the lenses.

Never look at the sun through binoculars, photo cameras, telescopes or any optical device using eclipse glasses or handheld filters. The sun will burn through them and damage your eyes. There are special filters that can be attached to the front of optical equipment if you choose to watch the eclipse that way.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Restaurant Review: It’s true: A hotdog at the Ballpark is better than steak at the Ritz!

baseball party food with balls and glove on a wood table

Greetings, sports fans! From my earliest memory, baseball has been my favorite sport. Why? I used to watch the games with my grandmother on her color TV set. However, I longed to be at Wrigley Field….or the old Comiskey Park!  I longed to be there and eat a Chicago Dog. Or a Frosty Malt.  Or a churro!  And to try my first ‘tall one’ (when I turned 21, of course…lol).

One secret I learned early was that no matter what the team was doing on the field, one of best experiences I could have at any ballpark was to try the local specialties offered at concessions stands. 

Guaranteed Rate Field, Home of the White Sox, 333 W. 35th Street 

Truly a ballpark of experiences (golf in the upper level, anyone?) the Chicago White Sox have truly put themselves out there as one of the most innovative food concessioners around.

What’s new for in 2024 … As reported by numerous Chicagomedia outletsthere are manynew selections this year. In Section 160, you can find White Sox Empanadas, a beef empanada with fire-roasted tomato salsa, or spinach empanadas served with cilantro lime crema. Go over to Sections 140, 163, 544 for their Crispy Chicken Sandwich a crispy breaded chicken breast topped with spicy creole sauce on a bakery fresh bun. Lots of my friends are talking about the health benefits they’re experiencing on their plant-based diet, and everyone’s marveling at the White Sox’ Impossible Hot Dog, a juicy, savory link, which , according to NBC5 Chicago, is made with plant-based ingredients “offering a similar sensory experience to traditional beef hot dogs. They’re in Section 155 and select stands. At the ChiSox Bar & Grill, new this year is the Smoke House Smash Burger isa single smash burger with house-smoked pulled pork, BBQ sauce, beer cheese and an onion ring.

Wash it all down with a Jack and Coke Float, giving new life and a boozy twist to vanilla ice cream topped with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Coke. You can find these amazing concoctions in Sections 124, 144, 154, and 538 (let’s hear it for the upper decks!)Grill stands throughout the park will serve Impossible Burgers, touted as the “ultimate plant-based alternative burger with all the flavor and texture of real beef.”

Wrigley Field Home of the Chicago Cubs, 1060 W. Addison Street 

What’s new for 2024: While not quite as exotic or adventurous as the White Sox offerings, the Cubs have definitely stepped up their food and beverage offerings with new partners like Hot Doug’s in the bleachers and Garrett’s Popcorn everywhere (Chicago Mix is to die for!) In 2024, Wrigley patrons can consume Chimichurri Tri-Tip Sandwich, an ancho-rubbed tri-tip steak, tangy chimichurri sauce, creamy horseradish sauce, charred red bell pepper rings and fresh arugula served on ciabatta bread. Platform 14 is the place to go for Chori-Soy and Roasted Corn Nachos isa  vegan protein, with fire-roasted corn, jalapeños, onions and cilantro sautéed in a chorizo spice blend. Added to their growing collection of nacho specialties are the Braised Chicken Tinga Nachos, where tender chicken is cooked in a smoky tomato sauce with traditional Mexican spices. Chicken Quesadilla has Ancho-citrus chicken, Monterey Jack cheese, mild cheddar, and pickled jalapeños, all served in a soft flour tortilla with chipotle ranch dipping sauce.

For a souvenir and meal combined, I’m suggesting their Big Slugger Nachos, which comes with two pounds of tortilla chips, chili con carne, cheese, tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, black olives, scallions, cilantro, and sour cream in a Cubs helmet. (The chef notes that “sharing is optional” on other websites) Pair that with the Cubs’ 24-ounce bat full of beer.

Go Cubs!! Go White Sox!! Happy eating, EVERYONE …

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Household clutter clean up

desperate helpless woman sitting on sofa in messy living room

Spring is a great time to get rid of junk! Every space in your house contains items you either don’t notice are even there or are hanging onto for some reason. Here’s a short list of things to toss. 

Kitchen – There are endless kitchen items that we hold onto because we “may need them someday”. How about that huge pile of plastic grocery bags under the sink, or those cheap tote bags that hardly hold anything? I guarantee that mismatched Tupperware you’ve had for ages can be replaced by some nice stackable containers. Toss all your old spices and herbs, since after a year their flavor is barely there. Take-out menus and seasoning packets just take up space. Old knives that are past their prime. Now’s the time to invest in three good knives, a chef’s knife, a paring knife and a serrated knife.

Bedroom – Here mainly we want to minimize. Pare down all those pillows you bought during your Boho phase. Then we can concentrate on the closet. If you haven’t worn something in a year it has to go. That goes the same for shoes and old shoe boxes. Cheap cleaner hangers are bad for your clothes. Invest in some good ones to protect your clothes. 

Living room – This is mainly a declutter. Newspapers, magazines, and old junk mail can tend to pile up. Try recycling daily. Toss any old plants that have been on the edge of dying for years. Donate those knickknacks, they are only dust collectors. Same with candle holders with no candles and those nearly burned-out ones. 

Bathroom – Some of the clutter here can be somewhat dangerous. Anything here that is expired can make you sick or not be effective. Sunscreen, makeup, medications and even hair products all have expiration dates. Say goodbye also to all those stained towels with holes in them. Watch for department store sales to buy yourself a nice new set of towels. Replace that old nasty bathroom rug with a new moisture wicking shower pad. 

Home office – I bet you have a dozen old chargers or devices with no chargers! Check online for safe disposal for these. Dispose of old pens and markers that are dried out. Digitize your important documents or keep them in see through plastic envelopes. This will let you get rid of those clunky file cabinets. Any supplies for the “creative projects” you have been trying to start for years can go too. Again, use the year code. Anything you haven’t touched in a year must go. 

Let us know what other tips you have for getting rid of clutter around the house!

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago