Kathy’s Home & Garden Tips – Minimalize Your Kitchen Space

We are all into getting rid of clutter these days. There is even a fancy name for it, minimalizing. The kitchen, unfortunately, is one place where we seem to have great difficulty paring down. It is great to keep an old Dutch oven from your grandma but not so good to hang onto those old non-stick scratched up frying pans. These can be bad for you, BTW. 

What do we really need to keep? Any home chef needs these basics. 

  • Start with a good set of knives. 
  • Three pots of varying sizes from stockpot to a 2-quart saucepan. 
  • Two frying pans, 9-inch non-stick omelet, and 12-inch. 
  • Make sure you enough plates and silverware to serve eight people. 
  • Baking? 13X9 and 8X8 baking pans will get you through most anything. 

Goodwill and Salvation Army can use any gently used appliances and other kitchen tools. Any young relative moving into their first apartment can use these items too. Give away your duplicates, after all, how many measuring spoons and cups do you need? Two sets will do, one dry and one liquid.

When is the last time you used that pasta machine and waffle maker? Goodbye! Currently, I know I have at least three or four travel mugs I never use. The same goes for too many souvenir cups. How about specialty baking pans, cake pops anyone? You get the idea. It is like your closet. If you have not used a kitchen item, no matter what it is, in a year, it must go. 

Unfortunately, we also keep many things that are simply past their usefulness. Ratty oven mitts that burn your hands and threadbare and stained kitchen towels need to be tossed. Those all-metal tongs are a burn waiting to happen. Get rid of all those scarred plastic containers. I use disposable ones now. Toss them or wash and reuse; it does not matter! Stained and chipped coffee mugs? Gone! Look through your spice cabinet. Anything older than 6 months is past its prime and not at top flavor. You will be surprised at how good fresh spices taste. 

Go through your pantries and cabinets, all the way back and to the highest shelf. Be merciless, donate what you can, and toss the rest. You will love the minimalist life!


THE PRICE IS RIGHT: What You Should Know About Pricing Your Home

One of the most daunting parts of selling your home is deciding what to price it at. You don’t want to price too high and get little to no traction but you don’t want to price too low and undervalue your home. There are so many things to take into consideration, so we’ve outlined the top things you should do before you list.

Enlist the help of a local expert. Local agents have years of experience in the market you are selling in, plus have a lot of industry expertise to bring to the table. They will factor in the unique offerings of your home and neighborhood and your wants and needs for the sale of the home to help you properly price.

Research homes for sale in your neighborhood. It’s always a good idea to do a little recon on homes for sale in your area. View current and past listings online to find homes that have similar features and were built around the same year as yours to get an idea of prices. Open house in your neighborhood? Take time to pop by in person and get a feel for what their home has to offer at what price.

Remove the emotion. Whether it’s your first or fourth home, it is the setting of so many amazing memories and holds a special place in your heart. Unfortunately, emotional attachment to your home can cloud your judgment when pricing it. Try to place your personal feelings about your home on the back burner and focus on tangible features of your home that add great value.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Celebrating America’s Birthday!

One of the best times to be in Chicago is the Fourth of July when we celebrate America’s birthday! However, don’t expect any large gatherings this year. Still, the city is adjusting its Fourth of July Celebrations with safe and fun activities for this weekend. Here are a few other ideas as well!

What better way to keep the little ones occupied than with Patriotic Crafts. Afterward, deck out your home in red, white, and blue for the holiday. You may even want to get crafty with the kids yourself while celebrating American freedom inspired by these crafts!

If you’re planning on staying at home to celebrate or couldn’t secure a table for in-house dining now available, why not support our local restaurants by purchasing one of their July 4th Takeout Options. Some kits include BBQ meals, ready-to-grill meats, and more!

Turn your backyard barbecue or indoor gathering with family into a star-studded occasion with some easy and delicious Fourth of July Red, White, and Blue Desserts. And, with the arrival of hot summer temps, there are even a few no-bake dessert options, so you’re not baking yourself over the oven. Have a few family members bake something as well and turn it into a bake-off contest! After all, you can’t celebrate America’s birthday without some red, white, and blue desserts!!

A Fourth of July tradition here in Chicago is the Grant Park Music Festival’s Independence Day Salute featuring the Grant Park Orchestra and conductor Christopher Bell. Since they can’t perform live this year, they will be broadcasting a virtual evening of all-American favorites such as the 1812 Overture, America the Beautiful, Stars and Stripes Forever, and more classics from 7:30 p.m.-9:00 p.m. Just tune in on YouTube at 6:00 p.m. on July 4th!

Since our Fourth of July fireworks at Navy Pier have been canceled, why not end your holiday evening with a Backyard Movie Night. Just set-up a screen TV with some cozy seating and pick-out an All-American movie! And don’t forget the popcorn!!

Finally, while it’s best to leave the fireworks to the professionals, which isn’t happening this year, here are a few Fireworks Safety Tips for the consumer fireworks so we can all be safe and injury-free while celebrating the Fourth of July with a bang!

Reminder for those who will be out and about: All individuals must wear masks/face coverings over nose and mouth (exceptions can be made for people with medical conditions or disabilities that prevent them from safely wearing a face covering). Physical distancing is encouraged. Check with tour or attraction for additional health and safety guidelines.

Have a Happy and Safe Fourth of July, Everyone! I Know I Will!!

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Now is the Perfect Time for a Chicago Picnic

Now that Chicago’s Phase 4 of reopening is underway, our options for getting outside and enjoying the warm weather have increased. However, many of us are still apprehensive of congregating in public spaces so soon with COVID-19 still a real threat to our health. 

So what can someone do to get out and enjoy the day while upholding social distancing? A picnic is a great way to shake off your winter and COVID-19 blues while maintaining space between others. Let’s take a look at some amazing spots around town where you can have the perfect picnic.

South Garden at the Art Institute of Chicago: Located in beautiful downtown Chicago at 111 South Michigan Avenue, this green space patch sits atop a parking garage, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying the flowers, trees, and serenity-inducing fountain located here. It’s a great site to unwind and decompress amid the hustle that is the heart of the city. 

Bahá’í Temple: It’s worth the trek out to Wilmette to enjoy a picnic at one of the eight Bahá’í temples in the world. Located at 100 Linden Avenue, the landscapes here are breathtaking with nine meticulously manicured gardens and ample space to unwind and enjoy the beauty surrounding you from every direction. 

Lincoln Park: One of our favorite Chicago neighborhoods is also home to a sprawling park that encompasses the Lincoln Park Zoo, Lincoln Park Conservatory, and the Lincoln Park Cultural Center. In addition to the numerous paths for walking and jogging, there are loads of open green spaces to host a picnic offering postcard-worthy views of the city. 

The 606: This 2.7-mile path connects Wicker Park, Logan Square, Humboldt Park, and Bucktown. The park and trail network provides plenty of areas to set up a picnic to rest, read a book, or do what we really love- people watch. There are plenty of food and coffee choices along the path to make a last-minute picnic a breeze to throw together in one of the city’s favorite chill spots. 

Northerly Island: It’s not all about the Adler Planetarium and concerts at this man-made peninsula located at 1521 South Linn White Drive. The 119- acres available to roam here make picking a picnic spot easy. Northerly Island features prairie grasslands, a 5-acre pond, and long and winding paths to check out Chicago’s native wildlife. This island getaway should be on your list of picnic locations to spend time at this summer. 

Of course, you don’t need to head to any of these great locations to create a memorable picnic while practicing social distancing. Chicago provides plenty of green space in the form of paths and neighborhood parks that usually require only a quick walk to reach. So get outside and enjoy a picnic in the above-listed locals or in your own friendly neighborhood park. 


Restaurant Review: Gulliver’s Pizza & Pub

It’s been months since we were able to write a restaurant review. Thanks to Chicagoans doing a great job of social distancing, the city has been able to reopen restaurants, and many other attractions that remind us of what normal was like before COVID-19. So it is with great pleasure that I made my way to a local eatery in my neighborhood last weekend and once again enjoyed a great meal in the presence of friends.

Gulliver’s Pizza & Pub, located at 2727 West Howard Street in Rogers Park, has been a long-standing establishment in the neighborhood. Known for their delicious pan pizza, Gulliver’s has been in operation since 1965, making it practically a North Side landmark. It had been months since I dined on their pizza, and I was eager to return to a spot that has long offered great food and a one of a kind atmosphere.

With both indoor and outdoor dining now available, my friends and I decided to enjoy the weather and eat outdoors in Gulliver’s spacious and relaxing outdoor patio. Seating followed social distancing protocols, and we didn’t have to wait long to get a table.

Whether you’re a first-timer or seasons regular to Gulliver’s, you simply can’t go wrong their award-winning pan pizza baked to perfection in a brick oven. We ordered a pepperoni and sausage pan pizza and an appetizer platter featuring chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, and potato skins. Needless to say, after months relegated to being stuck indoors, calories and carbs were not a concern.

The appetizer platter offered high-quality finger food with the mozzarella sticks clearly being the highlight on the plate. We debated ordering another round of the gooey sticks before realizing that the real treat, Gulliver’s legendary pan pizza, was on the way. 

Our server brought the mouth-watering pie to our table and served each of us are perfect slice that oozed with gooey goodness thanks to the two layers of cheese baked in this pizza powerhouse. Each slice felt like a meal in itself. When I thought I could not handle anymore, my taste buds strongly disagreed and took control of my limbs as I reached for another piece. I offered no resistance.

With full and happy stomachs, my friends and I enjoyed some cold beers while the sun basked down on us. For a long moment, it seemed like the pandemic actually left the headlines of our minds, and we laughed as if it was just another summer day. It was a delight to be back outside, sharing stories and smiles along with some of the best pan pizza around. 

The service was excellent, and the environment was picture perfect. I highly recommend Gulliver’s patio, but one should definitely make it a point to dine in as well. The legendary collection of antiques, statues, and lamps that adorn the dining room make this spot a perfect setting for a date night or any family outing.

If you find yourself on the North Side, be sure to grab a bite at Gulliver’s. Heck, even if you’re nowhere around Rogers Park and crave delicious pizza, put Gulliver’s in your GPS and make your way there. It’s worth the travel.

Gulliver’s Pizza & Pub is open Monday thru Thursday from 11 am to 10pm, Saturday from 11am to 11 pm, and Sunday from 11am to 9 pm.


Kathy’s Home & Garden Tips – Wasting Time Is Good For You

Years ago, most everyone worked an 8-hour day and that was pretty much it. We left work and would not give it another thought before returning the next day. Now with technology, we are reachable 24 hours a day. We feel we must work all the time! We never think of sleeping in or spending a few hours reading a book.

We need to realize that work will expand to fill the time it is given. We can spend fewer hours working and accomplish more. How often do you find yourself mindlessly staring at your inbox or checking and rechecking your business Facebook page? Much of your work overtime is not spent productively.

We need to learn how to waste time. It can de-clutter your brain and recharge your battery. But you must be proudly unproductive, and that is hard for those of us who feel guilt. Your off time must be guilt free for it to have benefits. Rushing through a movie takes away the joy. Binge-watch a TV series, but do not berate yourself that you are becoming a couch potato. Take a long walk, not a workout, and leave your phone at home! Spend time with your loved ones and turn your phone off. 

If you really need to schedule this time to waste, do it! Make sure you treat this time like you would any regular appointment. Realize this is time well spent for your psychological health. It will, in essence, make you that much more productive when it is time to work.


Eye-catching Ways To Decorate With Plants

Using plants as décor is a great way to add a little color and a natural, bright feel to any room. There are endless types of plants to choose from and various ways to display each one, but here are a few of our favorite combinations.

Geometric pots. Find geometric pots or planters of various sizes and plant small succulents of different styles and colors in each one. Then group a few pots together on a window sill or shelf or use them individually to adorn a side table or center of the dining room table.

Long, hanging plants. Purchase a larger, draping plant like eucalyptus, fern, or ivy and hang it from the ceiling using a macramé plant hanger or place it on a high shelf or ladder. These plants are perfect for the corner of your living room or room with a large, plain wall that is in need of a little pop of color.

Plant corner. Have a large corner in the dining or living room and need ideas on how to fill it? Consider turning it into a small plant sanctuary. Select plants of all different sizes, heights, colors, and style and purchase either matching pots or a mix of designs. Consider the use of a stool or small table to create additional levels and strategically place each one in the corner.

Air plants. Air plants are universal and can be included in DIY wall art, hung from the ceiling or on the wall inside geometric metal prisms, or placed inside beautiful glass terrariums alongside other plants and colorful rocks or sand.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Summer of 2020 in Phase IV!

As the city continues to reopen further so we can enjoy our summer of 2020, this weekend in Chicago is now in Phase IV (Gradually Resume). However, our usual summer weekend festivities will most likely be canceled in person but continue virtually!

One such event will be starting their summer season with a bang. The Do Division Street Fest goes virtual this Saturday (5 p.m.-9 p.m.). This year, the fest will feature special promotions from West Town’s restaurants and small retail business vendors; the Do Fashion virtual fashion show by Steely Boutique; and electrifying live-streaming tunes provided by Subterranean, one of West Town’s renowned live music venues with performances by Heligoats, Sen Morimoto, Ratboys, and Pedro The Lion (solo).

The 63rd annual Gold Coast Art Fair goes virtual as well on Saturday (12 p.m.-4 p.m.). This virtual event launches a new option for artists to show and sell their work and for customers to find art pieces to use, wear, and display. You’ll even have an opportunity to chat live with the artists! This online festival will replicate the live festival experience we’re used to!!

Round-up the family for Brickworld Virtual Con – Chicago this Saturday (11 a.m.-5 p.m.) for a day of fun. Using Zoom rooms, viewers can enjoy interactive displays, participate in discussions, purchase your favorite LEGO sets, mini-figures, and LEGO accessories from various vendors, and watch other tutorials and presentations throughout the afternoon. Also, participants will be allowed to show their own creations to others as well as experts from the “Lego Masters” TV contestants! Click the link for full schedule of events and register early as only 2,000 tickets are offered per show.

Start your Saturday (10 a.m.-10:45 a.m.) with an intimate Virtual Meet-and-Greet with a Lincoln Park Zoo Animal. Join other guests along with Mike Murray, curator of mammals, on a journey to learn about the Harbor and Gray Seals habits and diets to their individualized care and general personality traits live from the Kovler Seal Pool. Following the meet-and-greet, you will have the opportunity to ask moderated questions about your favorite animals, live from home! By the way, Lincoln Park Zoo will reopen for members beginning June 26th and on June 29th to the general public. Restricted access will include strict safety measures and limited capacities, including two-hour visits.

Put a little spark back into your Saturday and Sunday evenings (7 p.m.-10 p.m.) with a Chicago Virtual Game Night: Trivia, Charades, and Drawing via Video. Let’s Roam has combined crazy-fun games with embedded video chat software for a game night experience you won’t want to stop. Participants will take on five rounds of fun games that include 8,000+ Trivia questions, Charades with dozens of themed categories to choose from, Let’s Draw is Pictionary with a virtual twist, Trivia About You, and Drinking Games for the party animals! Connect with family and friends near and far to make your game night legendary!!

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Chicago Enters Phase 4 Of Reopening, But Plan Ahead

Chicago is set to begin Phase 4 of reopening the city on Friday. With this expansion, there are plenty of questions from entertainment-starved citizens on what will open, in what capacity, and what guidelines must be followed to ensure everyone’s safety. Let’s take a look at what to expect as we attempt to get back to something resembling our regular routines.

Businesses reopening on Friday include indoor movies and theaters, gyms, museums and zoos, and indoor dining. Fifty is the target number now concerning gatherings at these establishments. Either 50 people or 50% room capacity is what the new Phase 4 guidelines allow. 

Movie theaters: While drive-ins have been brought back during Phase 3 of the city’s reopening plan, indoor movie theaters will be reopening in Phase 4. Again, attendance is cut off at 50 people or 50% of the theater’s screening room capacity. Theaters in the suburbs of Elmhurst, North Riverside, Fox Lake, and Elk Grove Village are set to screen films starting Friday. However, many theaters will remain closed, so be sure to check ahead before heading out to catch a flick. 

Gyms and fitness centers: Many of us have been going stir crazy since gyms shut down back in March. Thankfully, we, as a city, have done our part to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and now can finally return to our local gyms. These establishments must limit capacity to 50% for the time being. Of course, face coverings and social distancing are a must. Check with your fitness center for any specific rules they may have regarding returning to work out. 

Museums and Zoos: Many of the Chicago area’s amazing museums and zoos will be allowed to open again during Phase 4, but many are not ready to do so just yet. For instance, the Shedd Aquarium will reopen to the public on July 3, and the Field Museum will open in the next few weeks. Capacity must be limited to 25%, and interactive exhibits will remain closed for the time being. The Lincoln Park Zoo will reopen June 29, but you will need to make reservations ahead of time. Find more info about visiting the Lincoln Park Zoo here. The Chicago Botanical Gardens will be open by reservation only. Check out how to preregister for a visit here.

Live performance venues: With virtually every summer concert canceled due to COVID-19, there won’t be any significant changes. Small venues can reopen Friday but must limit capacity to 50 or fewer, which for many spots won’t help due to not enough money coming in to cover costs. For the time being, any club that packs in audiences like sardines will remain closed until we reach the final phase, signaling a true return to normal. 

Indoor dining: We have been cooped up for so long that dining indoors almost seems like a dream. Well, wake up because Chicago has allowed indoor dining to return, but not without restrictions. Restaurants, bars, and breweries can reopen on Friday. Still, they must limit capacity to 25% with groups of 10 or less allowed. Be sure to call ahead if you plan on dining indoors any time soon to find out if reservations are required before visiting your favorite Chicago eatery. 

While we are thrilled to enter Phase 4 of reopening in Chicago, it is vital to uphold social distancing measures and protect ourselves. We have made great strides in bringing down the COVID-19 mortality rates and decreasing the number of new cases. The only way to continue our progress until a vaccine is produced is to keep up the good work we have done so far. So go have a great time out this weekend, Chicago. But be careful out there.


Chicago Rooftop Bars Open Now

It’s been quite a while since Chicagoans could get together with friends and family to kick back and enjoy a drink since the COVID-19 shutdown. As the city enters Phase 4 of reopening, let’s take a look at some of the great rooftop bars open now in some of our favorite Chicago neighborhoods.

Head over to Lincoln Park to have a drink at J. Parker located at 1816 North Clark Street. Sitting atop the Hotel Lincoln, this rooftop bar provides 140 outside seats delivering postcard-worthy views of the city. Check ahead of time to see what their social distancing rules are and if reservations are required.

The Fountainhead at 1966 West Montrose in Lincoln Square features a selection of 1,000 whiskeys to choose from. Yea, you read that right. The rooftop garden and bar has a menu featuring 500 beers to try while enjoying the warm weather outside. Be sure to visit their website to reserve a table.

Fans of Wicker Park can check out etta, located at 1840 West North Avenue. The rooftop features a delicious Mediterranean-style brunch menu on the weekends between 10:30 am and 2 pm and plenty of your favorite drinks to enjoy, including mimosas, bloody mary’s, and their own “etta” rita featuring altos, Cointreau, and lime. If early mornings are not your thing, check out their pizza party & booze offerings between 2 pm to 4 pm.

Another Wicker Park hotspot now open for rooftop service is Whiskey Business, located at 1367 North Milwaukee Avenue. With a 3,000 square foot rooftop, Whiskey Business is in the business of creating a great atmosphere to enjoy a night outside in Chicago. Now thru September, every Thursday thru Sunday starting at 9 pm, Whiskey Business is providing a safe rooftop space to socially distance while sipping on drinks amid a music and light show featuring tunes from the 80s, 90s and today. 

Joy District, located at 112 West Hubbard Street in River North, is an iconic Chicago rooftop experience highlighted by its fantastic city views. Featuring lounge seating, lush greenery, and murals designed by artist P. Scott, the rooftop provides delicious culinary offerings, including their buttermilk boneless wings and Margherita pizza. Their frozen cocktails are worth the trip alone to highlight a great summer day. 

The West Loop is now home to the largest outdoor patio bar in the city, thanks to the reopening of Recess, located at 838 West Kinzie Street. Social distancing is a breeze at Recess due to its expansive 14,500 square-foot courtyard, which creates an inviting yet intimate atmosphere to enjoy the city’s views while having a drink. Currently, the bar menu is limited, but the drink offerings cover all the bases from wine and beer to cocktails with funny Chicago politics-inspired names. Reservations are open, but it is recommended to book ahead if you can. 

So check out some of these great rooftop and patio bars now open in Chicago. After the last few months, it will be great to have a drink and relax with smiling faces while adhering to social distancing measures.