Renovate Vs. Relocate

Is it worthwhile to improve your property, or is moving a better choice?

Unless you built a custom home, you probably have a long list of things you’d like to improve in your current home. Browsing online listings might get you in the mood to upgrade to a new home, or you might be thinking about renovating your current home after binging on HGTV. The answer to renovation vs. relocation depends greatly on what you’re trying to fix.

Thinking about a new kitchen?
If you’re dreaming of a chef’s kitchen with new appliances and beautiful cabinets, renovating your own kitchen gives you incredible ROI and is less costly than moving. You’ll increase the value of your own home if you ever decide to sell, and there’s a great sense of accomplishment that comes with completing a custom renovation.

Need more space?
If you’re running low on bedrooms, there may not be a lot of options. Converting an existing room to a bedroom doesn’t create any new space. If you’re in a condo, an addition is probably impossible. And additions can be expensive even if it’s a possibility. Moving is usually the best option.

If the neighborhood isn’t ideal
You may have seen some potential for your neighborhood when you first moved there, but perhaps it still isn’t welcoming the shops and restaurants you expected. If that’s the case, consider moving. There’s no sense in waiting years for the neighborhood to improve, especially if you can move to a house in the same price range in a more preferred part of the city.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Pumpkin Patch Time!

Can you believe we’re halfway through October already and only two weeks away from Halloween!  I say it’s time to pick your own pumpkins at a local pumpkin patch and partake in pre-Halloween festivities this weekend!

Once again, Navy Pier (600 E. Grand Ave.) in the Streeterville neighborhood is transforming into a fall spectacle with nearly 1,000 pumpkins for their Pier Pumpkin Lights now through October 31st (10 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.)  As guests wander around the glowing, spooky spectacles with elaborate jack o’lantern towers and light displays, they’ll also be able to catch deals from the Pier’s many restaurants and bars and also enjoy other seasonal and Halloween festivities fit for the whole family! Remember, the pumpkins are best experienced after dusk!

The biggest pumpkin patch pop-up, Jack’s Pumpkin Pop-Up, is located in the heart of Chicago at 1467 N. Elston Ave. in the River West neighborhood now through October 31st. This newest interactive pop-up experience is on over 2 acres of land where guests can experience a larger than life, outdoor, multi-sensory adventure in the city rather than traveling to the suburbs. This event brings you Chicago’s largest corn maze, thousands of pumpkins, food trucks, three full-service bars, axe throwing, carnival games and more!  There’s an experience here for everyone!

JoJo’s Shake Bar (23 W. Hubbard St.) in the River North neighborhood will be transforming their 5,000 square-foot outdoor patio into JoJo’s Pumpkin Patch now through November 1st (11 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.) where you will find hay bales, festive lights and “pumpkin domes” outfitted with tables of six or less for dining and hanging out. And, besides hand picking your own pumpkin, guests can enjoy a menu of special seasonal dishes that include gourmet caramel apples, pumpkin and apple pies, spiked ciders, and hot chocolates as well as their decadent Pumpkin Patch Shake that’s topped with a slice of pumpkin pie, a taffy apple, roasted marshmallow and a Reese’s pretzel Best part is you can take all these fall favorites home with you!

It’s back for its 9th year! The annual Rosehill Cemetery ‘Crypt’ 5K Run/Walk is fall’s most spirited event taking place on the grounds of the north side’s historic Rosehill Cemetery (5800 N. Ravenswood Ave.) this Saturday at 7 p.m. Run or walk this candle-lit 5K course on Rosehill’s sprawling 350-acre Victorian-era cemetery that opened back in 1864. Not only will you come across monuments, mausoleums, and scenic paths, but you may also be greeted by some of the famous eternal spirits who reside in Rosehill!  

Afterwards, head on over to the Fireside Restaurant located right across from the start/finish area for the post run/walk party. Enjoy a complimentary sponsored beverage and delicious food (for an additional charge) while the overall and age group winners are announced. Then stick around for the band playing some spook-tastic tunes! Everyone is welcome, not just the participants!

Join tens of thousands of fans as they converge at the 2021 Wizard World Chicago this Saturday (10 a.m. – 7 p.m.) and Sunday (10 a.m. – 5 p.m.) at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center (5555 N. River Rd.) in Rosemont. This event celebrates the best in pop culture: movies, comics, cosplay, video gaming, collectibles, contests and more! It also features non-stop live entertainment throughout the evening hours, gaming, exclusive Q&A sessions with top celebrities, movie screenings, anime, a kids’ zone and more!

If you wish to partake in a real scary pre-Halloween event, the Chicago Bears are hosting the Green Bay Packers this Sunday (12:00 p.m.) at Soldier Field!

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Neighborhood News-Chicago Loop, North Park, Lakeview, Lincoln Park

With Halloween just a couple of weeks away, now is the time to bask in scary movies, eat great treats, and enjoy the beauty of the autumnal outdoors. Chicago knows how to celebrate the season!

Campfire Horrors, an outdoor horror movie series featuring spooky classics and campfires for roasting marshmallows, celebrates the season with free screenings of the scariest movie classics. Screenings will be held at 7pm on every Friday of October, as well as select Saturdays at Dvorak Park, North Park Village Nature Center. This weekend, Scream will be shown on Friday, October 15, at Northerly Park, 1521S Linn White Drive, at 7pm.The Nightmare Before Christmas will shock on Saturday, October 16, at North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N Pulaski Rd., at 7pm. Masks are required, and the Chicago Park District recommends dressing warmly. Free admission.

The 57th Chicago International Film Festival, North America’s longest-running competitive film festival, kicks off Wednesday, October 13 and runs through October 22. Over 80 feature films and 60 film shorts from around the world will be screened in theaters, at the drive-in, and streaming. Films ranging from heart-wrenching dramas to eye-opening documentaries to midnight shockers, at the AMC River East 21, at the Music Box Theatre on Southport, and the Gene Siskel Film Center on State Street—plus drive-in screenings at ChiTown Movies in Pilsen. Ticket and pass prices vary, check website for details.

The Lincoln Square Farmers Market features over 40 vendors each week at the Lincoln Thursday afternoon on Lincoln and Leland Avenues, from 3-7pm. The market connects local farmers, artisans, and food purveyors to the Northside of Chicago. Vendors include Elsie Mae’s Canning & Pies, a small family bakery using local produce and family recipes passed down through generations to preserve traditional style baking and canning, and Copacabana, a local, fair trade, ethically sourced chocolate truffles and gianduja chocolate spreads. Free admission.

Join Lincoln Park’s Lakeshore Sport & Fitness, 1320 W. Fullerton, for their Falloween Fest! On Saturday, October 15, from 2-5pm, families can enjoy Euro Bungee, a 90ft inflatable obstacle course and a 40ft inflatable slide. Families can also enjoy ghoulish performers, carnival games, pumpkin painting, cotton candy & snow cones. Admission is free, but some attractions, activities and food & drink do require tickets that can be purchased the day of the event. The event will be held outdoors in both the parking lot and on the rooftop. If the weather proves to be ghastly, we will move to the indoor tennis courts. Lakeshore members will RSVP on the MyLSF App. A limited amount of tickets are available for non-members and should be reserved in advance through Eventbrite.

Alison Moran and Dean’s Team Chicago

Restaurant Review – Summer House Santa Monica

Located in Lincoln Park, Summer House Santa Monica presents an escape to the warmth and laid-back vibes of the West Coast. The California-inspired menu highlights simple, market-driven ingredients with a focus on local & sustainable farming. Chef Ben Goodnick highlights seasonal specialties made from scratch, with locally sourced produce and fresh ingredients, along with market-driven pastas, artisan pizzas, and antipasti. Summer House Santa Monica offers a taste of summer any time of the year! 

What better way to start your California adventure than with Guacamole & House-Made Chips? The California treat has a Hass avocado, Pico de Gallo, tomatillo salsa, and ranchero sauce. Or a Handmade Burratta with local cherry tomatoes, avocado, and arugula pesto. The Parmesan Fries are also highly recommended by reviewers. Raw starters with that California vibe include Ahi Tuna & Watermelon Tartare, which is paired with guacamole, Thai chili, and house-made chips. Mexican Shellfish Ceviche has fresh avocado, tomato-lime jugo, tajin crackers, house-made chips, and shellfish. 

Currently, the menu’s seasonal specials include Rossa Pizza, a tasty combination of spicy tomato sauce, fresh herbs, and arugula salad, a Malibu Peanut Noodle Salad, with sesame, lime, and sweet peppers, and Wood Grilled Hawaiian Ahi Tuna Sandwich, with spicy mayo, avocado, ponzu, and pickled ginger.

Fresh, unique vegetable offerings include a Wood-Grilled Heirloom Globe Artichoke with herb remoulade, Caramelized Brussel Sprouts with balsamic vinegar and parmigiano reggiano, and Wood-Grilled Shishito Peppers with a sweet soy glaze, shichimi togarashi seasoning, and toasted sesame. 

The restaurant is also known for its salads, including a Knife and Fork Caesar, with hearts of romaine, garlic croutons, and parmesan. Other unique salads include a Shaved Brussels Sprouts with manchego cheese, bacon, avocado, toasted almonds, and peas, with a mustard vinaigrette, and a Wilshire Blvd Cobb with grilled chicken, egg, corn, cucumber, tomato, point reyes blue cheese, bacon, and celery, dressed with an herb vinaigrette.

Entrees include a Loch Duart Salmon, with a sweet chili glaze, and served with herb mashed potatoes, and Crispy Fish Tacos, made with local corn tortilla, crunchy slaw, chipotle crema, and salsa verde.

Pizzas are a must-have, according to online reviewers. Each day, the restaurant handcrafts dough with California milled flour, filtered water, sea salt, and fresh yeast, and rests it for 18 hours to ensure a crisp crust and unique flavor. Try an Organic Sausage & Fennel with fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, and fennel pollen, or a Hobbs Pepperoni with fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, and parmesan. Spicy Salumi & Burratta pairs garlic, fresh mozzarella, whipped burratta, and tomato sauce.

The restaurant also boasts several unique desserts, including a Banana’s Foster Waffle, with house-made crispy waffle pieces, toffee sauce, bananas, vanilla ice cream, and whipped cream. 

Weekend brunches are replete with traditional items and Cali-Mex specialties, including Breakfast cilantro with pulled chicken, silky black beans, ranchero sauce, jack cheese, and sunny-side-up eggs. Mexican Hash Browns include two sunny-side-up eggs, with tomato salsa, Oaxaca cheese, avocado, and cilantro.

Summer House Santa Monica is located at 1954 N Halsted St. Limited indoor dining and patio table reservations are available.  Hours are Monday – Thursday: 11am – 10pm, Friday: 11am– 11pm, Saturday: 9am-11pm and Sunday: 9am– 9pm.  Brunch is served on Saturday & Sunday: 9am –3pm. Per government mandate, all persons are required to wear a mask, to be removed only while seated at your table. For more information, click here.

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – How To Freeze Meat Safely!

So far we’ve covered how to reduce food waste and how to get the most out of various pantry items with different lifespans. Now, let’s take on best practices for freezing meat!

Keeping meat frozen is the best way to guarantee freshness for the long term. The most important aspect of freezing meat, or anything for that matter, is temperature! Freezing temperature should always be 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, otherwise you’re asking for germs and microorganisms.

Amazingly, if kept at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, meat will be safe to eat indefinitely. Of course, there is a big difference between safe and good

Have you ever eaten a meal that “tastes like refrigerator”? That’s the result of meat being freezer burned! So how long should meat stay frozen before it goes bad? Here are a few guidelines for freezing meat for optimum taste:

Chicken: A whole bird can be frozen for up to a year.  Chicken parts such as wings and drumsticks are best kept for 9 months or less; anything skinless should only be kept up to 6 months.

Beef: Meat like steaks and roasts can last up to 8 months, but you’ll get the best quality before 4 months. Ground meat of any kind contains more air – the enemy of longevity in meat – so the MAX life expectancy is 4 months!

Lamb or Pork: Chops, lamb and pork are also best by 4 months but, if you’re clever, can be stretched to 6! Larger cuts of pork and lamb can last up to 8 – 12 months. Processed meats like sausage, hot dogs, lunch meat, and ham should be eaten within 6 – 10 weeks to get the best flavor. Bacon in its original vacuum packaging can be frozen for 6 months. 

Fish: Seafood is delicate, but surprisingly lean fish can last up to 8 months!  Fatty fish like salmon, on the other hand, should be frozen no more than 2 – 3 months. 

When it comes to cooked meat saved as leftovers, well wrapped beef and pork will last 2 – 3 months; poultry and fish dishes last double that!

As mentioned above, air is the enemy of longevity in frozen meat of any kind. It causes the nasty freezer burn that, while harmless, makes food disgusting! Many guidelines state that leaving the meat in its original packaging and overwrapping it with heavy duty freezer wrap such as foil, plastic wrap or freezer paper can delay freezer burn – I disagree

In my opinion, unless vacuum sealed, packaging leaves too many air pockets for freezer burn to form! To better preserve meat, use foil or heavy-duty freezer bags. Pro-tip: do not wrap meat in foil alone! Use wax or parchment paper first. There should be no direct contact between foil and food. Be sure to wrap your food tightly, squeezing out as much air as possible. 

Check out www.foodsafety.gov for more guidelines. 

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago

Tips From Interior Design Experts

Interior design is no walk in the park. In fact, many people build their entire careers on their keen eye for making each room in a home flow beautifully. This is not to say that only professionals are capable of creating a breathtaking interior, but these tips from design experts may assist you in your next project at home.

Set Your Ground Rules: Before starting any big projects, it’s important to set some ground rules for your endeavor. You should decide how far you want to go with your project, whether that be replacing the furniture or tearing down a wall to open up a room.

Name Your Price: After you conclude how extreme your project will be, set a strict budget that will guide you through the process. Without a proper budget, you may get lost in your plans and overspend.

Find Your Inspiration: There’s no harm in consulting the opinions of others before starting a project. It may be useful to consult the prominent design blogs to see what trends are popular at the moment. Make sure to observe opposing design styles, such as minimalism and modern.

Trust Your Gut: Although it can be beneficial to learn about current trending design styles, there’s no reason to pay attention to them if they don’t appeal to you. Far too often, people adhere to design trends like it’s the law, but you should really trust your gut when it comes to design.

Move Your TV: It may not seem like a big deal, but oftentimes a TV can dominate a living room because it is placed at the center of the room. This points all the attention to the TV and away from conversation.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Autumn Favorites Include Some Pre-Halloween Fun!

As we continue to embrace all that October has to offer us here in Chicago, this weekend brings a variety of autumn favorite events as well as gearing up for the arrival of Halloween!

Autumn’s cool breezes are a perfect backdrop for the 6th annual Lincoln Park Wine Fest taking place in Jonquil Park (1001 W. Wrightwood Ave.) this Saturday (11 a.m. – 10 p.m.). This fest transforms the park into an open-air market featuring wine and food pavilions where sommeliers and brand ambassadors coach you through a two-hour tasting session. A general admission ticket comes with a sample of 12 varietals of wine and a commemorative tasting glass while a VIP ticket also includes an extended tasting with five additional specialty wines! There will also be products/services of wine-centric vendors to help you become a wine connoisseur and impress your friends!

Now through October 31st, the Lincoln Park Zoo (2200 N. Cannon Dr.) celebrates the wonderful world of autumn with Fall Fest. This annual fest is loaded with fall festive activities that include a pumpkin walk, live professional pumpkin carvers, animal viewings and learning chats, musical entertainment, an endangered species carousel, a Lionel train adventure and much more!

It’s never too early to begin celebrating Halloween, especially when there’s an abundance of events to attend! Now through October 31st, Rizzo’s Bar & Inn (3658 N. Clark St.) in the Wrigleyville neighborhood offers their Sweet Dreams: Halloween Pop-up Experience. Guests will step into a fragmented, macabre world where 20 classic horror movies collide for an epic and twisted Halloween experience! Come meet Freddy, Jason, Leatherface and IT – if you dare!

Come have a howling good time at Brookfield Zoo’s annual Halloween celebration Boo! at the Zoo kicking off this Saturday and Sunday (10 a.m. – 6 p.m.). Don your favorite costume and check out the creatures, creepy crawlers, and more while taking memorable snapshots at the many Halloween-themed photo frames and vignettes throughout your journey.  Afterwards, head on over to the West Mall for the Crazed Maize corn maze or take a spin on the Creepy Carousel or even the Haunted Hayride. Plus, “Pumpkins To The Animals” takes place at 10:30 a.m. both days with the goats and wallabies on Saturday and the polar and brown bears on Sunday. As you exit the park youngsters will also receive sweet treats courtesy of Ferrara Candy! It’s a fun-filled and not-so-scary event for the entire family to enjoy!

In case you weren’t aware of it, it’s also the Bank of America Chicago Marathon this Sunday which means you’ll have to deal with some street closures if you’re out and about that morning. While it’s too late to be a runner, come join tens of thousands of spectators cheering on the participants as they make their way through the 26.2-mile course on the city’s streets! And while the start and finish line in Grant Park isn’t open to the public, it’s suggested that spectators head to neighborhoods like Greektown, Lincoln Park, Boystown, Chinatown and Pilsen where crowds of onlookers will be toting handmade signs, blaring music and encouraging all the participants as they whiz by!  There will be a Runner Reunite area in Grant Park (9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.) where you can meet your runner. Please note that face masks are recommended in both the reunite area and along the marathon route.  Now get out there and do some cheering!

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Neighborhood News-Chicago Loop, Lincoln Park, Chicago Riverwalk, Bucktown

A beer with a dinosaur? A pumpkin festival on the Chicago River? Here are some of the more unusual events this week in our local Chicago neighborhoods this week! And don’t forget to salute the runners at this weekend’s Chicago Marathon

Have a beer with the world’s largest dinosaur at the Chicago Beer Festival! The event stages a takeover at the Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, on Saturday, October 9, from 7pm to 11pm. Featuring over 65 breweries, you can sample fall seasonal beers while enjoying access to museum exhibits. Early admission is $65 and general admission is $50. Early admission will include early entry at 7pm and specialty beers poured during the first hour. Admission includes beer samplings with food sold separately. Tickets will not be sold at the door.  Masks will be required by the State of Illinois for everyone regardless of vaccination status, except when actively eating and drinking. 

Friday, October 8 marks the 150th Anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, and the Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark Street, commemorates the occasion with City on Fire: Chicago 1871, a family-friendly event to learn, explore, and discover the impact the Great Chicago Fire had on the city and the people who lived here. The exhibit guides visitors through the crucial events and conditions before, during, and after the fire—many of which draw striking comparisons to today’s social climate. The exhibit runs from October 8 to December 31. Admission includes access to all exhibitions in the museum, including audio tours. Children 12 and under and Illinois residents 18 and under are admitted free. Adult admission is $19, seniors and students are $17. 

A pumpkin festival in Downtown Chicago? Island Party Hut, located on the Riverwalk, transforms into a Fall Fest Pop-Up starting Friday, October 8 and runs weekends through October 31. Throw on your favorite sweater and enjoy all the activities that fall has to offer! Whether you’re looking to get a group of friends together to enjoy some much-needed adult beverages or bring the kids out for a stress-free day of fun, this is the perfect destination. A $10 admission fee includes live music, amazing Photo Ops, a visit to the pumpkin patch, games and more! For an additional charge, you can also take a scenic hayride on the river, purchase a pumpkin & decorating kit, and enjoy a wide variety of fall-favorite food and drink!

Dive into the wonderful world of autumn, from picking the perfect pumpkin to sipping festive drinks, at Lincoln Park Zoo’s annual Fall Fest. This free, family-friendly celebration is full of harvest days fun this October. Fest guests can enjoy a pumpkin walk, live pumpkin carvers, a festive pop-up bar, animal chats, musical entertainment and more! New this year is an Instagram photo contest! The festivities run Friday, October 8-October 31, from 10am-5pm.

This may be the perfect weekend to explore Bizarre Bucktown, a small-group guided walking tour of the Bucktown neighborhood. The tour features the area’s history, mysterious lore, and even some ghosts. Each candlelit tour at Walsh Park, 1722 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, is personally conducted by Gordon Meyer, a neighborhood resident, Second City graduate, and magician. Tours run through December 18, and start at 8:30pm. The Dark Tales of Bucktown tour begins on what appears to be a quiet residential street. We’ll walk briskly, for about a mile, visiting sites with stories that are sure to leave you with a chill down your spine. The tour concludes about 75 minutes later outside Club Lucky, a gem of a cocktail bar and restaurant, with a spirit of its own. Admission is $30.

Alison Moran and Dean’s Team Chicago

Restaurant Review: Etta

Etta=’Keeper of the hearth’

With fall weather clamoring for rustic colors and warm fireplaces, Etta, with locations locally in Bucktown and River North, is a perfect place for family to gather, celebrate, and laugh around a wood-fired hearth. Patrons of Etta will find a celebration of rustic cuisine that is thoughtful of the season. And, just as the kitchen is the focal point of interaction within a home,  Etta’s open kitchen design gives guests that same intimate experience.

Etta creates sophisticated, yet familiar dishes using expert cooking techniques. Created by the same team that designed Maple & Ash, Etta serves a frequently updated menu of wood-fired pizzas, house-made pastas, and farm fresh salads. 

Online reviewers raved about their focaccias and pastas. “Absolutely amazing on all fronts,” raved one reviewer. “Staff, service, and the food knocked it out of the park. I could eat a boatload of the ricotta pillows. The focaccia, either kind, is a must!”

“All pastas were fresh and made in house,” another reviewer noted. “The WOOD FIRE PIZZA was really good.”

Dinner starters include a fire-baked focaccia with ricotta and honey truffle, or a bubbling shrimp, lively when combined with ginger, chiltepin chile, smoked tomato and mint. Creative and festive salads include the Little Gem Salad, with kohlrabi, avocado, and scallions with a lemon dressing. Or the Etta Chopped Salad, a unique version of the classic, with red onion, hot smoked salmon, dill yogurt, champagne vinaigrette, avocado, eggs, grains and cheese, and everything bagel spice. 

Pastas and pizzas are sumptuous, and feature unique combinations for your palate. Try the Chitara Pomodoro, with cherry tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and burratta. Or the Pappardelle, with roasted corn, duck sausage, almond and tarragon. Their wood-fired pizzas include unusual combinations, like a sweet-savory coppa and fig, with arugula, burrillo, and guajillo. An adventurous palate may also enjoy the Fire Pie- a tasty combination of sausage, giardiniera, and chile de arbol.

Families and friends can share special memories and great food by ordering Etta’s special Wood-Fired Picnics, featuring Crispy Porchetta and fire-roasted Pork Collar, served with hearth bread, lettuce cups, escabeche, caper relish, and “refreshingly spicy things.”

Brunches, served on weekends, offer wood-fired pizzas, buttermilk pancakes with roasted berry jam and whipped vanilla ricotta, short rib hash, breakfast sandwiches, huevos rancheros, and many other tasty takes on traditional breakfast and lunch fare. They also serve a special menu of handcrafted cocktails and beverages.

Etta’s Bucktown location is at 1840 W. North Ave., Chicago. They are open daily forlunch from 12pm – 3pm, Dinner hours are 5pm – 10pm. On weekdays, excluding Friday, Etta serves a Happy Hour Pizza & booze from 3pm – 5pm. Weekend brunch on Saturdays and Sundays is from 10:30am-3pm. Reservations are recommended.  For more information, click here.

Alison Moran and Dean’s Team Chicago

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – How Changing Your Routine Can Save Precious Energy!

We all could use a little more energy to get through the day, couldn’t we? Unfortunately, most of us either have no idea how to make that happen, or are turned off by the numerous complicated methods that don’t seem to produce consistent results.

Good news: it doesn’t have to be complicated! Here are a few simple ways you can change your routine to boost your energy and help you get more out of your day:

#1: Get enough sleep! For the average person, going to bed around 10pm and getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night works wonders. However, if your schedule doesn’t suit those hours, or your body has a different rhythm, do your best to improve the quality of the sleep you do get! 

If you can’t clock in 8 hours of shut eye, 20-minute naps can be life-savers. (But make sure your alarm is set to avoid deeper sleep that can leave you groggy!)

Above all, don’t kid yourself into believing you can get by on poor sleep. Sleep deprivation is known to cause continuous declines in mental performance. Even if you feel you are fine, trust me, you’re not!

#2: Do the toughest tasks early in the day! This is mostly psychological. When you accomplish important or difficult tasks early it improves your mood which can give you energy! Using your morning on routine tasks can feel like a waste and make you exhausted going into the second half of the day.

#3: Exercise every day! Don’t worry, that doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym or investing in a lot of equipment. You can do push-ups, burpees, and squats right at home. There’s also low-impact exercise like yoga, palates, or taking simple walks outside! Whatever you decide to do will be a long-term investment in your energy levels.

#4: Write down your plan for the day the night before! Believe it or not, writing things down really helps you commit to a plan. And, crossing off each task as it’s completed will give you a nice little dose of serotonin that leaves you refreshed, satisfied and proud of yourself! 

#5: Have a daily goal! It should be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific. Measurable. Assignable. Realistic. Time-bound). Spend just 10 minutes to come up with one goal you want to achieve above everything else in the day. Even if the rest of your to-do list goes undone, reaching that one goal will result in a huge confidence boost!

#6: Expand your circle of friends! Gravitate towards people that encourage and uplift you. Set healthy boundaries for those that leave you drained. 

#7: Read more books! A good book provides mental energy by improving mood, attention span, and cognitive skills – among other things.

Not much of a reader? Audio books work just as well, and you can listen throughout the day as you complete your tasks.

At the end of the day, the principle to remember is that energy is very precious! While some of these tips are universal, it’s up to each of us to figure out what drains us, what refreshes us and how to best use our energy. If you’re struggling, don’t panic! The process is always ongoing, and you will find what works for you in time. 

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago