Chicago Neighborhood News: Streeterville, Pilsen, Loop, River West

Streeterville: Navy Pier, located at 600 East Grand Avenue, is reopening after a long pause due to the pandemic. On Friday, April 30, the People’s Pier will be open again, with most of its outdoor attractions ready for the public. On Saturday, May 1, visitors can check out a fireworks display at 9 pm honoring the city’s healthcare workers. The fireworks continue at 9 pm on Saturdays throughout May. The reopening brings back tour boats and cruises, Polk Bros Park, East End Plaza, Sable Hotel, and many more attractions. Visitors are welcome 10 am to 8 pm Sunday through Thursday and 10 am to 10 pm Friday and Saturday. Find more info here.

Pilsen: Sure, Halloween is months away, but you can still get your scares at the Celebrate Half-O-Ween with Creepy Co., taking place at Chi-Town Movies Drive-In. Located at 2343 South Throop Street, this movie event brought to you by the Music Box Theater occurs on Friday, April 30 through Sunday, May 2. Friday at 11 pm, check out Halloween III: Season of the Witch. On Saturday, get your goosebumps with a double feature of the modern horror classic Midsommar and Alucarda startingat 8:15 pm. The fest closes out Sunday with a double feature of Friday the 13th Part III and slasher classic Sleepaway Camp at 8:15 pm. Tickets are $30 for a single feature per car and $45 for a double feature. Find more info here

Loop: Beginning Friday, April 23, and running throughout the summer, head out to the lake for an architectural tour of the city by boat with the Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruise! Located at 112 East Wacker Drive, step aboard a Chicago’s First Lady boat for a 90-minute guided tour that is sure to reveal new revelations about the city’s one-of-a-kind architecture, whether you are a tourist or lifelong Chicagoan. Tickets range from $48 to $55. Find more info here.

River West: Cinephiles will rejoice at the broad selection of films offered at the Asian Pop-Up Cinema happening Thursday, April 22 through Sunday, May 2. This cinema event takes place at the Drive-In at Lincoln Yards, located at 1684 North Throop Street. The drive-in movie fest represents films from Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, and the United States, including the Oscar-nominated Minari. Tickets are $15 per vehicle, with screening beginning at sunset. Find more info here.


Restaurant Review: Dear Margaret

Lakeview is home to a recently opened French-Canadian restaurant focused on comfort food with a Midwestern angle. Dear Margaret, located at 2965 North Lincoln Avenue, serves up delicious eats in tribute to Chef Ryan Brosseau’s roots with ingredients from the Midwest and Canada. 

Inspired by the food Brosseau’s grandmother would create back in Ontario, the menu at Dear Margaret features a wide array of delectable choices, whether you’re in the mood for something light and tasty or filling and hearty.

I started my order with the Pommes Frites, and what a starter it was. Fried in beef tallow with roasted garlic aioli, these fries were savory and fat, perfect for supporting whatever you choose for a topping. 

Next up was the buttermilk braised pork shoulder, which did not disappoint. The dish, featuring roasted sunchokes, pickled garlic, and a rich spinach and garlic soubise, blended perfectly in a symphony of deliciousness. The ample portion size almost made it impossible to finish, yet each bite brought a reminder to keep going, and before I knew it, this dinner was gone. 

The sweet potato pave offered at Dear Margaret is another standout dish. It was my first time trying this, and it certainly will not be the last. The pave, which I found out is a French culinary term used to describe flat food, was anything but flat in flavor. Highlighted by Gruyere cheese with a chickpea and Brussels sprout salad, a tasty black garlic vinaigrette, and turmeric and coriander carrots, this creation is a must-try when picking up food from Dear Margaret. 

My takeout meal was completed with the maple Chèvre cheesecake featuring candied fennel, almond, and anise caramel. The mistake I made was not ordering two of these, as one was simply not enough, thanks to the combination of sweet and savory flavorings that made me forget about anything off the Cheesecake Factory’s menu.

Dear Margaret’s menu provides a plethora of dishes I can’t wait to try on my next visit. The roasted lamb and grilled trout being two items at the top of my list, as well as classics like the fried smelts, fried pork terrine, and foie gras Torchon. In other words, Dear Margaret will have you coming back for more thanks to the unique combination of French-Canadian cuisine and good ol’ Midwestern ingredients and presentation. 

Head Chef Ryan Brosseau, who grew up in Ontario, moved to the States in 2010 and worked in various kitchens, including Found, Perennial Virant, and Table, Donkey & Stick before serving as executive chef for Le Sud in Roscoe Village. Together with owner Lacey Irby, they have created a wonderful spot in Lakeview to get some way above average cuisine that tastes out of this world while also feeling like home at the same time.

Dear Margaret is open for pickup Tuesday through Sunday from 5 pm to 10 pm.


Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Can You Be Too Productive?

You would think the answer to that question is, of course not! But do you find yourself volunteering for more projects at work even though your plate is already full? Are you late for family time because you need to finish “just one more thing”? Do you feel the need to be more and more productive? This type of productivity can cross into the danger zone.

You may have thought you are just a workaholic, yet that old-school term is not even close to the harmful need to be more productive we are talking about here. For some people afflicted with this need, it is never enough. Even after finishing a project at work, you feel guilty for not having done more. When you are in this excessive productive mode, you constantly judge yourself for not doing more rather than looking at what you have accomplished. 

The pandemic has been a factor in many people falling into this harmful productivity. Our lives were put on hold, and we were finding ourselves having all this free time. So why did we decide we had to throw ourselves so completely into work instead of just being blissfully idle? The pandemic left us very uncertain, and we were in unknown territory. For us lucky enough to still be working, we literally became obsessed with work. With no set work hours, we decided to work all the time. We felt more in control this way. 

When we find ourselves in a situation beyond our control or understanding, like the pandemic, we tend to go overboard with the things we can control. The trouble is all this work really hides the discomfort of our situation. Often the more you are fixated on producing more, you produce less, and eventually, you will burn out. 

This need to do more and more work wears on our relationships too. You feel trapped and often lash out, which is a natural response. Our attachment to social media is also a factor. We see pictures of perfect sourdough bread and woodworking projects. We think I should be doing things like this. I have all this time, and what have I produced?

If you can realize the telltale signs, you are halfway there. Are you constantly feeling guilty that you should be doing more? Or feel you are wasting time when you are not working? Are you exhausted even first thing in the morning? Do you think it is normal to feel fatigued? Feeling constantly exhausted could be a sign you are trapped in harmful productivity. 

Watch how you present yourself at work. Do you feel the need to show off how hard you work? Do you call for a Zoom conference when an email would suffice? Do you make phone calls last longer than necessary instead of just being brief and concise? Do you recognize that your Boss does not care that the task took X number of hours? They only care about the job being done. Whether you take 4 hours or 8, it matters little. 

The pandemic is, of course, unprecedented, the current most overused word, but it does have us on high alert. We need to realize that we need to take care of ourselves, mind and body, especially now. You only have one body, and you need to nurture it. This includes your brain too, give it a rest! Unwind however you would like. Take a jog, make afternoon tea, watch some Netflix or just take a nap. Make it a priority as you would a work task. Put it in your schedule. We will get past this pandemic soon, so let’s be more healthy in the meantime. 


Your Guide To The Home Appraisal

You’ve found your dream home and now it’s time to cross all your T’s and dot all your I’s before it’s all your own. And one of the first items on your closing checklist is the home appraisal. So, what exactly is that?

The home appraisal is essentially a value assessment of the home and property. It is conducted by a certified third party and is used to determine whether the home is priced appropriately.

During a home appraisal, the appraiser conducts a complete visual inspection of the interior and exterior of the home. He or she factors in a variety of things, including the home’s floor plan functionality, condition, location, school district, fixtures, lot size, and more. An upward adjustment is generally made if the home has a deck, a view, or a large yard. The appraiser will also compare the home to several similar homes that were sold within the last six months in the area.

The final report must include a street map showing the property and the ones’ compared, photographs of the interior and exterior, an explanation on how the square footage was calculated, market sales data, public land records, and more.

After it is complete, the lender uses the information found to ensure that the property is worth the amount they are investing. This is a safe-guard for the lender as the home acts as collateral for the mortgage. If the buyer defaults on the mortgage and goes into foreclosure, the lender generally sells the home to recover the money borrowed.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Spring is Budding and Blooming Everywhere!

Spring is certainly budding and blooming around here in Chicago as we welcome in another April spring weekend even though the city itself is still slowly reopening. However, there’s still a variety of events to get you out of the house for a while to enjoy spring! Here’s a few of those things to do this weekend.

Need to get some color back into your life? Then head on out to see some spring flowers in bloom at either one (or both) of these annual spring flower shows:

The Lincoln Park Conservatory (2391 N. Stockton Dr.) is excited to be welcoming guests back with its spring flower show “Pretty in Pink,” now through May 8. This beautiful show not only celebrates quintessential spring colors featuring blooms in many pink hues ranging from fuchsia to blush, but the blooming spring flowers also change throughout the season. The room will be filled with a rosy glow of azaleas, hydrangeas, peonies, tulips, and alyssum. And while you’re there, why not stop by and enjoy their Palm Room, Fern Room, and Orchid Room! After all, the plants bloom and change weekly!! Reservations, masks, and social distancing are required.

A vibrant canopy of spring flowers will greet you at the Garfield Park Conservatory’s (300 N. Central Park Ave.) spring flower show Saturation now through May 9. Instead of the typical garden, Saturation brings together a rainbow of colorful blooms to highlight the wide range of hues and tints within each color for their guest’s enjoyment! Admission is free, but you’ll still need to make a reservation since the conservatory is operating at a reduced capacity.

The Hard Rock Café (63 W. Ontario St.) is hosting the Luisiana Style Crawfish Boil & Day Party this Saturday (12 p.m.-6 p.m.) featuring Louisiana Celebrity Chef Allen Rochelle and Chicago’s top DJ Mark Flava. Sides include Cajun fried potato salad, red beans & rice, and jambalaya! There’s a max of 6 people per table with 6 feet of distance between tables, three 90-minute seatings, and limited capacity. But it’s an all-you-can-eat crawfish boil!!

It’s the first tour of the season! Eat the Parks: Lincoln Park North Pond will be held this Sunday (1 p.m.-3 p.m.) at the North Pond Nature Sanctuary located at 2610 N. Cannon Drive. Join Dave Odd, Chicago’s only full-time professional forager, as he walks you around the north pond to see all the wild and wonderful edible plants that grow right in the heart of our city. You’re guaranteed to learn about at least 50 edible plants! You also have the option to join in on a foraged dinner at The Willow Room (1800 N. Halsted St.) the following day at 5:30 p.m. to taste what was discovered on the walk!!

This Sunday through May 2, award-winning actress and historian Leslie Goddard presents Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962). Leslie will portray this iconic stateswoman who was our country’s longest-serving First Lady and beloved by many of her generation in a special first-person performance! This is a free event, but registration is required to obtain the program link.

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Chicago Neighborhood News: Humboldt Park, Old Town, West Loop, River West

Humboldt Park: Every Saturday until August 28, from 11 am to 8 pm, head out to Humboldt Park for the El Jolgorio de Salsa y Más summer event series. Visitors can shop and support the city’s Puerto Rican community’s businesses and take in cultural performances, including DJs and Salsa dancing at Esmeralda’s lounge and street vendor pop-ups on Paseo Boricua, a section of Division Street. This free recurring event is a perfect way to explore the city and take in some amazing culture as the weather warms up. Find more info here.

Old Town: Last week, I wrote about the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit at Lighthouse ArtSpace, located at 108 West Germania Pl. If you have already checked out the show, there’s still another way to absorb yourself in the works of the master painter. In partnership with CorePower Yoga and Lifeway Foods Inc., Lighthouse ArtSpace offers Gogh with Lifeway Immersive Yoga. This 35-minute yoga session taught by CorePower Yoga instructors lets participants get into a better mental and physical state while surrounded by the sights and sounds of the Immersive Van Gogh setting. Each class occurs on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays at 7 am and 8 am before the doors open to the general public. Tickets are $54.99 plus fees. Bring your mat and take part in a truly unique and socially distanced yoga class, which runs until September 5. Find more info here.

West Loop: All 32,000 square feet of Morgan Manufacturing, located at 401 North Morgan Street, will be taken over by Artopia: The Immersive Art Experience beginning Friday, April 16. Treat yourself to fascinating eye candy via the numerous large-scale light installations, projections, murals, and sculptures created by a plethora of talented street artists from Chicago and throughout the country. The future-forward exhibit costs $40 for one adult (13 and up) ticket or $30 for a child, including a 60-minute guided hands-free, socially distanced tour. VIP tickets are available for $50 and include a specialty cocktail in the Artopia Lounge after the tour and ICON tickets for $70, including the tour, cocktail, and a t-shirt. This exhibit runs Thursdays through Sundays until May 16. Find more info here.

River West: Who let the dogs out? Turns out District Brew Yards and Bold Dog Beer Company will on Sunday, April 18 at District Brew Yards, located at 417 North Ashland Avenue, at 1 pm. The Bold Dog Pup Party lets our furry friends onto the brewery’s patio for the first pooch party of the 2021 season. Dog owners and anyone else can enjoy food from Lillie’s Q, located inside District Brew Yards, and try out the debut of Bold Dog’s new Bubba Berry Light Lager, named after Bubba, the winner of the 2020 National Bulldog Day contest. This free-to-attend event is a great way to meet new friends no matter how many legs they stand on. Find more info here.


Restaurant Preview: Hardbittenn

Lululemon Lincoln Park and LPX Fuel Space continue their unique Chef Series collaboration in April with special guest Halee Raff of Hardbittenn. You can check out her amazing culinary creations on April 24 at Lululemon Lincoln Park, located at 944 West North Avenue, from noon to 3 pm. 

Raff created Hardbittenn at the beginning of the pandemic as a way to offer her delicious meals to those looking for restaurant-quality food delivered at home. Word quickly spread of her skills resulting in Hardbittenn becoming a must-order food service in Chicago, along with Raff’s weekly dinner series and cooking classes.

When one thinks of Hardbittenn, pop tarts definitely come to mind. The pop tarts created by Raff aren’t the regular old treats you toasted as a kid. Oh no. Hardbittenn has upped the pop tart game to new levels with scrumptious flavors like banana and chocolate, Nutella and raspberry, apple pie, blueberry and lemon curd, and bacon, eggs, and cheese (yes, you read that right), to name a few. You might not want to let the kids have a bite because you’ll get stuck having to order these dreamy tarts for the rest of their childhood and ditch the Kellogg brand sitting on the shelf.

The Chef Series taking place on the 24th will feature something extraordinary courtesy of Raff’s imaginative palate and know-how. Those picking up their Lululemon Lincoln Park orders will enjoy pistachio honey, carrot cake, and one classic apple pop tart, as well as a tart featuring prosciutto gruyere and truffle oil. Who knew pop tarts could be so extraordinary and classy?

It doesn’t end there, though. Besides the pop tarts, ticket holders will also receive a decadent slice of cookies and cream cake, a buffalo chicken mini pie, two brown chocolate cookies, and a piece of Neapolitan triple-layered pie. If you have a sweet tooth or know someone who craves all things rich and tasty, be sure to grab a ticket to this one-day-only event. Tickets are $60 plus fee and sales tax, and orders can be picked up from Lululemon Lincoln Park on the 24th when you select a pick-up time online.

Raff attended Johnson and Wales culinary school, graduating in 2014. From there, the talented chef worked in many of Chicago’s favorite Michelin-starred spots, including Tru, Naha & Brindille, Momotaro, and Sixteen. The beginning of the pandemic brought a change to the entire restaurant scene in the city, as we know all too well. The shutdown created an opportunity for Raff to create her mouth-watering meals and sweets for those looking for something more elevated than the typical take-out we have been relegated to for over a year. The result was Hardbittenn, which provides delicious meals and cooking classes, in-home chef experience dinners, and more.

Check out Hardbittenn’s Instagram page to see what they are cooking up each week for their rotating, seasonal dinner menu for two guests. And if you have any event coming up or just want to give your taste buds a reason to celebrate, order some of Hardbittenn’s pop tarts, giant sweet rolls, pies, and cakes from their website.

If you haven’t had the chance to dine on what Hardbittenn brings to the table, get your tickets for the Lincoln Park Chicago Chef Series with Hardbittenn on April 24.


Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Time to Think About Your Garden Plan

We have finally beginning to see some warmer weather here in and around Chicago. That warmer weather brings thoughts of the vegetable garden. We can’t wait to get out in the garden and start working. However, here is one word of caution on cleaning up the yard and garden- wait until temperatures are consistently above 50 degrees. Many butterflies, bees, and other pollinators overwinter in dead leaves and hollowed out stems of last year’s plants. If you clean up too early, you will literally throw out beneficial pollinators, so resist till it is warm enough.

So, we can at least plan. If you are a beginner, it is best to start out with just a few vegetables. A couple tomato and pepper plants are a good start. They are easy to grow and are usually resistant to many pests. Beans, cucumbers, and peas are also relatively easy and work well in small gardens as you can train them up a fence or trellis. Plant them in between the tomatoes that need a little more room. 

If your soil is good, plant some radishes and carrots. Lettuce is great. It grows well in the early season cooler temperatures and can be harvested early as baby greens. Check out different varieties online now, as garden center plants are not out yet. 

Study where you can place your garden space. It should get at least 6 hours of full sun every day. It should drain well. If you need to, check out raised bed gardening. They are easy to construct and will give your vegetables great space and soil to thrive. If you have pets, it is wise to be able to fence off the garden. Doggies don’t understand that young plants do not respond well to trampling. Do have your garden within sight of your house. Out of sight, out of mind as they say. You are more likely to keep up with the garden work if you see it every day. Most places are not graced with perfect soil, so you probably will need to augment. We usually add a few topsoil bags and compost every year, which seems to add enough to regenerate the garden. 

So, start planning the summer vegetable garden. You will be rewarded with delicious, healthy vegetables and you will also benefit from the exercise. Studies are being done now showing that dirt contains a natural antidepressant. Mycobacterium vaccae is thought to have the same effect as Prozac. It raises serotonin levels. We old gardeners have known this for years; digging in the dirt makes you happy and content!


Entertaining At Home

One of the joys of homeownership is getting to host your friends and family on various occasions. Here are a few hosting tips for your next party!

Pick a theme. Once you select a theme, planning the rest of the party is simplified. The menu options are pared down, finding decor inspiration is as easy as a Google search, and guests will have attire direction. Some common themes are fiesta, backyard BBQ, wine and cheese night, and garden party.

Plan your menu. Whether you are serving small appetizers or a formal dinner, it’s important to survey your guests for food allergies or preferences (ie. vegan, vegetarian) to ensure you offer options for everyone.

Stock up on refreshments. When it comes to drinks, it’s better to overstock than understock. Make sure to have alcohol staples on hand, such as beer, wine, vodka, and bourbon. Equally important is ice, fruit garnishes, and a good supply of juices and soda that can be used for mixing as well as drinks for children and those who don’t partake in alcohol.

Don’t forget the kids. Hosting a party with children in attendance? To ensure their parents get to enjoy the party, plan a few child-friendly activities. Purchase coloring books and crayons, pick up children’s board games, or have a couple age-appropriate movies queued up.

Make sure you have fun too. By having a flexible timeline for the party and setting aside time to prep ahead of people arriving, you can minimize the stress of hosting. Make sure you take time to talk to all your guests, enjoy the food you’ve prepared, and have some drinks (alcoholic or not) too!


Do you hear it? The outdoors is calling to us here in Chicago as the weather begins to warm up! Which could only mean that more and more outside activities are being planned for us, but we still need to heed social distancing guidelines and wear a mask. So, let’s see what’s calling to us!

Time to have some safe fun socially with friends again. The Island Party Hut (355 Chicago Riverwalk) located between Lake Shore Drive and Columbus on the Riverwalk has multiple dates available for its Riverwalk Beer & Cocktail Fest – An Outdoor Tasting Experience. Guests will be seated at a private table and served 12 different beer and cocktail tastings in a lively tiki-style environment giving you that relaxed by the beach feeling! Only a limited number of tables will be sold at a time, so be sure to reserve yours now or you’ll miss out. Also, doors open 20 minutes prior to your experience start time, and it’s recommended to arrive at that time to be seated. All you need to do is kick back and enjoy the Riverwalk views as you and your friends sip away at your tastings!!

It’s also time for our “other” family member(s) to get out of the house and explore this Saturday (11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.) at the Spring Scavenger Hunt with the Pups in McKinley Park. Meet up is at 11 a.m. at McKinley Dog Park, located at the corner of Pershing Road and Western. Teams will be sent off at 11:15 a.m. sharp with a list of things to search for throughout the beautiful grounds and take a photo of what you found (don’t forget your mobile phone). Extra points will be given for each photo that includes your pup! Then at 12:45 p.m., make your way back to the dog-friendly area where points will be tallied and winners announced! A couple of small business and nonprofit friends will be on hand as well to vend refreshments and provide information on how to get involved. 

May the best team win!!

The Chicago Fashion Week powered by FashionBar LLC will kick off The Designer Reveal this Saturday (4 p.m.-7 p.m.) at Water Tower Place, 3rd Level (835 N. Michigan Ave.) as they showcase this season’s designers in a series of beautiful shows both live and virtually. The fashion shows will feature an incredibly talented roster of designers from the Bridal category to Swim Wear to their highly anticipated Trans Media Show! The Designer Reveal doors open at 4 p.m. with a cocktail reception at 4:30 p.m. Then, at 4:45 p.m., get ready to grace the Red Carpet with media interviews and mingle with public figures, celebrities, and influencers. Designer garment viewing will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by a closing ceremony. Be sure to check out the entire schedule for Chicago Fashion Week on their website.

Chicago’s largest theater district, the Belmont Theater District, introduces a wide variety of Spring Offerings. With over 25 organizations, these offerings are available in-person and virtually and include comedy, performances, classes, readings, children/family offerings, and more! And, since the Belmont Theater District is full of tantalizing tastes from fine dining to fast-casual restaurants as well as a wealth of bars and cafes that fit any style, why not make your day or night out complete with a visit to any of these local businesses! Plus, the Lakeview and Lakeview East neighborhoods are home to some of the best shopping in Chicago!!

It’s Calling Us!!

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago