Chicago Restaurant Week

by Michael Keating

Chicago Restaurant Week


Savor the masterful creations of some of the city’s finest chefs by dining during the 10th annual Chicago Restaurant Week. This year’s culinary celebration began January 27 and will continue for the next six days and nights, until February 9. Restaurants around the city are offering prix fixe menus: $22 for lunch and brunch and either $33 or $44 for dinner. With an astounding number of restaurants participating (over 350!), the process of sleuthing through the options can be overwhelming. We’ve put together a list of eight neighborhood favorites with particularly phenomenal menus.


1. Bar Pastoral

Just down the street from our Lakeview leasing office, this favorite neighborhood bistro features artisanal bread and cheeses and offers a wide range of wines to pair with your plates. For brunch, we’re excited about Gruyère scones with jam and butter and their bloody mary. Dinner also promises to deliver deliciousness with their Sage Gnocchi with leek, fennel, lemon cream sauce, and Rosa Maria (goat)–think Manchego cheese or a Spanish Pecorino, floral and earthy with tangy notes. Be sure to visit their shop next door and pick up a jar of Pear Tree Preserves–made in Chicago, these are produced with fresh, local, and organically grown produce–it’s just another one of their exceptional products.

Restaurant Week - Bar Pastoral

image via PastoralArtisan

 2. Ixcateco Grill

Southern Mexican cuisine is featured at this restaurant in Albany Park. The chef and owner, Anselmo Ramirez, previously worked under the instruction of Rick Bayless. At Ixcateco, Ramirez uses “fresh, locally sourced organic or sustainably raised ingredients when possible,” and we’re looking forward to his Restaurant Week menu. The Puerco en Mole Rojo entree, wood grilled pork loin, red mole, white rice microgreens, is certain to delight as many reviews tout best mole in the city. For dessert, tres leches, need we say more?

Restaurant Week - Ixcateco Grill

image via IxcatecoGrill

3. Piccolo Sogno

With easily one of the best patios in the city, the romantic and classy interior of Piccolo Sogno might often get overlooked, so pay them a visit in West Town this Restaurant Week. Participating for both lunch and dinner($33) and with gluten-free and gluten-free upon request options for both meals, this is a sure bet to pleasing all. Wine lovers will also appreciate the extensive selection of fine wines. Besides the Panna Cotta, which has candied lemons and raspberries, we are excited about the Pappardelle con Cinghiale, made with spiced wild boar ragu. The owners’ humility can be inferred by a name that means “little dream,” but reviews online assure us to have big expectations.

Restaurant Week - Piccolo Sogno

image via Piccolo Sogno Restaurant

4. Demera Ethiopian Restaurant

This popular destination in Uptown is participating in lunch and dinner, and the prices are exactly half of the other restaurants. The plates are shared, however, a $22 lunch for two or $33 dinner for two is quite a value–tack on a bottle of house wine or honey wine with dinner for only $11. We’re excited about their Ye-Beg Wot, which is flavorful, cured lamb stewed in either their spicy or mild sauce. Demera is across the street from the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, where you’ll find live jazz, swing, and spoken poetry depending on the night.

Restaurant Week - Demera Ethiopian

image via DemeraEthiopian

5. Volo Restaurant Wine Bar

Right in the center of Roscoe Village, this romantic restaurant beckons all. Each of the four courses offered for $44 dinner this Restaurant Week has us salivating! Key items include: Pork belly on-a-stick served with maple mustard; Steak Tartare with quail’s egg; Duck Confit in a red wine reduction; and an incredible sounding slice of cheesecake. If you are not able to go this week, make sure to mental tag it for when the warmer months return–the patio is everything a restaurant patio should be.

Restaurant Week - Volo Restaurant Wine Bar

image via Volo Restaurant Wine Bar

6. Yusho

Inspired by Yakitori street food, this Japanese restaurant mimics the fresh fish markets in Tokyo with the big, bold flavors that Chicagoans love. The executive chef, Matthias Merges, former executive chef at Charlie Trotter’s, has taken the burden of decision-making out of your hands. The $44 dinner prix fixe menu has only one option for each course–and we love all of them. From Sashimi Big Eye Tuna to Crispy Pork Belly Udon, the difficulty of deciding what to choose has been completely eliminated, and all that’s left is a wonderful, bright meal to remember.

Restaurant Week - Yusho

image via Yusho-Chicago

7. Big Jones

Devil Crabs, Fried Mullet, Sea Island Benne Cake–just because we may not be familiar with these items, doesn’t mean we aren’t excited about them. Since April 2008, Big Jones in Andersonville has been serving Southern heirloom cooking, sourced sustainably from farms, a list of which is available on their website.

Restaurant Week - Big Jones

image via ChicagoMagazine

8. Presidio

This contemporary American restaurant in Bucktown has the ideal Restaurant Week brunch menu–start with a Breakfast Burrata, enjoy one of their main courses, a side, and your choice of coffee, juice, or mimosa. You’ll be fortified for the day and, like us, be looking forward to the return of the fortnight of restaurant prix fixe menus next year.

Restaurant Week - Presidio

image via Presidio Chicago

Click here for other participating restaurants. Enjoy!

Gift Wrapping Tips

by Michael Keating

Gift Wrapping Tips


As with books and their covers, judgement on the packaging of presents, while not indicative of its contents, might weigh heavily on the receiver’s perspective. Ribbons and bows go a long way, but even the thoughtfulness of covering every surface efficiently can prove difficult for some and agonizing for others. This holiday season, we’d like to share some ideas for the upcoming and future exchanges that will ease your gift wrapping woes.

1. Traditional bows are great and probably on sale for a discount right now, but consider incorporating nature as an accent. Flowers and poinsettia leaves provide a burst of color, while the rustic feel of pine cones and acorns also subtly suggest the promise of tremendous growth. If you’re particularly crafty: this DIY-er created napkin rings from acorns, which could pair just as nicely with a small box. They’re probably handsome enough to not even need the suggested coat of paint, though be cautious not to pierce the cap too suddenly, as they are quite fragile. Even adding a branch of greenery from an evergreen can spruce up a box, check out these design ideas we’re pining for.

Gift Wrapping Tips - Bowsimage via Pexels

2. Brown Kraft Paper is a staple. Consider picking up a role just to have a solid  background against which all of the colors inspired by the season shine brightly. Additionally, this paper tends to be biodegradable and easily recyclable. Transforms what can be visual chaos into a blank canvas. It’s thick and sturdy enough to be drawn on, decorated, and “flaired” without being too stiff to fold and crease.

3. Looking for a new way to present snacks on the platter? These are just perfect. Use the colors of nature to reflect the colors of the season. This specific one uses broccoli crowns as leaves and cauliflower as snow. Dazzle guests with the perfectly wrapped presents under the tree and perfectly placed hor d’oeuvres on the table.

Gift Wrapping Tips - Snacksimage via Pinterest

4. Sometimes gifts are so imperfectly shaped that they defy boxes: create the perfect custom shaped packaging by making a container out of gift wrap. Gone are the days of obvious exchanges and loose bag tops for people to sneak peeks. This video is especially helpful for step-by-step instructions.

5. Whether you’re short a box top or just have a smaller item than you thought you would, use that rectangular box bottom to create a whole new vessel. This wrapper shows us how to easily overcome this challenge.

6. Know your recipient’s cocktail of choice? Mason jars make for handsome presentations of a small bottle of Jack Daniels and a can of Coke. The liquor can be tied to the outside of the jar near the lid and the mixer sits comfortably inside.

Gift Wrapping Tipsimage via Pexels

7. As much as crafting a special sleeve for gift cards can be fun, nothing really beats a handwritten card, with a warm message to accompany it.

Gift Wrapping Tips - Cardsimage via Unsplash

We hope you enjoy your holiday and happy wrapping!


12 Ways to Keep the Bills Low and the Spirits High

by Michael Keating

12 Ways to Keep the Bills Low and the Spirits High


This time of year, when spending seems unavoidable as well as enjoyable, with the holidays and the trips, gifts for others and gifts picked up for yourself, we’d like to highlight a few ways you might be able to save on expenses at home. As the temperature drops, spikes in electric and gas bills appear, here’s our list of ideas on cutting apartment costs.

1. Distribute the expense People’s Gas, a major supplier of natural gas in the Chicagoland area, has residents’ best interests in mind. Instead of dramatic shifts in both outdoor temperatures and the cost of gas bills, users may opt for Budget Billing, which protects consumers by averaging out usage, calculated by last year’s figures and this year’s weather and price forecasts. Essentially, the total cost of the year is divided evenly and instead of gas bills going from negligible to monstrous just as the weather turns, they stay steady and reasonable throughout.

2. Seal those windows Perhaps one of the oldest tried and true methods at keeping the heat in and the cold out is to insulate windows, most especially if they are single pane. Rubber adhesive may be applied to the windows’ frame to stop any drafts. Insulation film can be purchased at any hardware store or online. Helpful instructions on installation can be found here, complete with photos and useful considerations. Renters also attest to the effectiveness of bubble wrap on windows–some say that the wrap up year round will keep warmth in for winter and heat out in summer. Unsure of how much of a draft is coming in? Instead of holding your hand by the windows, try setting a candle down–you’ll be able to see any breeze, if you can’t feel it. At the very least, lock your windows; it’ll close them more tightly and significantly reduce any draft.

12 Ways to Keep the Bills Low and the Spirits High
image via Pexels

3. Invest in another smart device If you’ve got central air and heat in your nest, consider the Nest Learning Thermostat. Currently on its third-generation, reviews place this as the best overall smart thermostat on the market, though older versions are received just as well and are less expensive. From their website: “With the Nest app, your thermostat lives on your wall and in your pocket. Once you connect your thermostat to Wi-Fi, you can control it from anywhere. Adjust the temperature from the app, and the Nest Thermostat adjusts quickly back at home.” With increased control, you’ll be able to heat your apartment when you’re on your way home and you’ll never have to worry about having left it accidentally on again! Additionally, Open all your vents, circulating the air and also keep the filters new and clean. While it may seem tempting to close the vents to the unused rooms, this actually can kick the heating system into working harder.

4. Focus the heat where you need it If your apartment does not have central air, consider centralizing the heat around you. Personal space heaters as well as an electric blanket or a heated mattress pad will keep you feeling tropical even if you’re surrounded by the tundra. Wool socks go a long way, no wonder they’re such a popular wintertime gift!

12 Ways to Keep the Bills Low and the Spirits High
image via Unsplash

5. In consideration of radiator heat Place heat-resistant reflectors between radiators and walls. In the winter, this will help heat the room instead of the wall. You may also “bleed” your heater, doing so will eliminate the pockets of air that prevent the heat from distributing evenly. This guy shows us how easily this can be done.

12 Ways to Keep the Bills Low and the Spirits High
image via Pexels

6. Get the direction of your fan right Lifehacker’s stellar advice: “When it’s hot, the fan should spin counter-clockwise to push the hot air up and out. When the weather turns cold, instead spin the fans clockwise to trap heat inside. You’ll often find a switch on your ceiling fan to choose a direction, so consult your fan’s manual to find out where it is.” Also, if you’ve got electric heat, try setting a fan in front of it. This will easily spread the warmth around.

7. Beware of “Energy Vampires” Other matters to be aware of: The device used to stream movies might be costing you more than going out to the theater. According to the New York Times, “[I]f you use your gaming console to stream movies, well, don’t. They can use 45 times more power than streaming consoles, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, mostly because they aren’t good at using only as much power as the task at hand requires.” Power strips are now made to be smart as well. Devices such as your television use power even when they are shut off–they’re “on” unless they are unplugged. A smart power strip will completely shut off any idol devices.

12 Ways to Keep the Bills Low and the Spirits High
image via Pexels

8. Check ComEd for rebates A rebate for up to $100 for a Nest Thermostat is available through ComEd. The omnipotent energy supplier has several rebates available for energy efficient appliances as well as energy saving home products, such as an air purifier and a smart power surge with instant savings at select retailers. Thinking about long-term savings? Consider swapping your lightbulbs to LED if you haven’t already. ComEd’s data on the matter is eye-opening. And Energy Star agrees that by changing your five most frequently used light sources to CFLs even, could save you up to $65 a year! It’s their top tip of ten for renters.

9. It’ll all come out in the wash Wash your laundry with cold water whenever possible. Who doesn’t love the smell of clean clothes? Brighten your flat by air drying your freshly washed garments. Check out this $5 clothesline constructed with apartments in mind. If you must use a dryer, shake out each item first, doing so opens up the surface area and allows your apparel to dry more quickly.
12 Ways to Keep the Bills Low and the Spirits High
image via Unsplash

10. Fill your fridge You may not use all of the space within your refrigerator or freezer, which means every time you open it, the air outside enters and warms the empty spaces quickly. You can keep the icebox from unnecessary work by occupying that empty space. Some attest to using containers filled with water or even newspaper! The added advantage is that items are moved up front and you’ll be on top of your cooler’s inventory.

11. Small electronics make a difference From’s blog: “New appliances are much more energy efficient and responsible than older appliances. You may not be able to upgrade major appliances in an apartment, but that doesn’t you don’t have any control. Some minor appliances whose newer models tend to be much more eco-conscious include computers, televisions, hair dryers, hair straighteners, toasters and blenders.” Sound advice.

12 Ways to Keep the Bills Low and the Spirits High
image via Pexels

12. Gather People are good sources of warmth, invite your cousin over for tea or have a neighbor over for conversation. Each person generates around as much heat as a 100 watt light bulb…

Hope these pointers are able to save you dollars and contribute to your cheer!

Chicago on the Small Screen – Shows of Today

by Michael Keating

Chicago on the Small Screen – Shows of Today

Chicago on the Small Screen - Shows of Todayimage via Unsplash

Oprah left and so did Jerry Springer, but Chicago has replaced talk shows with exciting dramas; several television programs have been and continue to be shot in our amazing city. Besides the tremendous win by the Cubs, there’s quite a bit to celebrate in the nation’s third largest city. Dick Wolf has created an enormous spotlight on Chicago, with the recent milestone of 100 episodes of Chicago Fire.

Four NBC franchise shows are now based in and filmed here: Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Chicago Med, with scenes shot at Cinespace Studio and Rush University Medical Center and now Chicago Justice. Set to air in early 2017, the latest installment of series featuring Chicago’s servicemen and women will focus on those that interpret and apply the law. Advertisements on their website announce, “Just like their brethren in the Chicago P.D., the State’s Attorney’s dedicated team of prosecutors and investigators navigates heated city politics and controversy head-on, while fearlessly pursuing justice.”

Chicago on the Small Screen - Shows of Todayimage via AuditionsFree

Empire is mid-season right now. Well over one hundred actors from Chicago play significant roles in the show. Some hail from institutions such as Second City and others have been performers on the Steppenwolf Theatre’s stage. The show features not only talent from the city, but also popular locations within the city, filming scenes on location here, in Cinespace Studios, which is in the North Lawndale neighborhood, as well as Los Angeles.

According to an article last year by dnainfo, Empire “is predominantly shot at Cinespace, 2621 W. 15th Place in North Lawndale. The show runners have dressed up Chicago locations as New York hot spots, including such local favorites as Sunda, Empty Bottle, RPM Steak, Tortoise Club and Blue Line Lounge and Grill. They’ve also made stops at Cook County Jail, St. Ignatius Chapel, the Hilton Downtown and the Bronzeville neighborhood.”

Chicago on the Small Screen - Shows of Todayimage via Giphy

Another series scheduled to premier on FOX in early February is APB, which promises to be a “new police drama with a high-tech twist”. Filmed and set in Chicago, the protagonists aim to create a technology informed crime-fighting team in the 13th district. Early reviews are predicting an exciting first season and comparisons to Robocop are circulating. Check out the trailer here

Reviews on The Exorcist starring Geena Davis are fairly strong. Part of the horror franchise of the same name from the early 1970s, the show delivers thrills on a level that American Horror Story aspires to and generates suspense unlike any other network program on at the moment. Quality special effects contribute to the tension of the narrative as well. In an interview with E!News Online, the star of the beloved League of Their Own remarks, “It’s in a world where the events of the movie took place, but now it’s forty-something years later and something’s happening again. I just love scary stuff.” Don’t we all?! Probably as much as we adore her.

Chicago on the Small Screen - Shows of Todayimage via Giphy

Chicagoans may also delight in seeing their city on Amazon’s Patriot. calls it “a gleefully deranged, dark comedy thriller.” The show is a solid 4 out of 5 stars based on the nearly four thousand reviews on Amazon’s website, and viewers are eager for the next season’s release. A political thriller with Terry O’Quinn (Locke from Lost) is sure to keep us on the edge of our seats.

Other shows shot in Chicago include Shameless on Showtime with William H. Macy, Sense8, and Ozark, which stars Jason Bateman . The latter two can be caught streaming on Netflix.

The best source on when and where to catch the crews and casts of the above television shows is a twitter feed: Filming in Chicago @filming_chicago, which is a side hobby of one of our fine residents. Part of the reason television producers are filming here, as if the architecture and talent aren’t enough, are the financial incentives.

In December of 2008 the Illinois General Assembly passed the Illinois Film Production Tax Credit Act, which offers producers a credit of 30% of all qualified expenditures, including post-production.  The Illinois Film Tax Credit will not sunset until May 2021, and is renewable in 5-year increments, thereafter.  The goal of the Tax Credit Act is to attract local vendors, union leaders and filmmakers to the Illinois film industry in order to promote growth and job opportunities.

In addition, the tax credit aims to stimulate diversity in production hiring. For questions about the Illinois Film Services Tax Credit please contact Cesar.Lopez@Illinois.Gov. Additionally, information on shooting in Chicago such as scouting out locations, permits, and procedures can be found here and the Chicago Film Office.

Chicago on the Small Screen - Shows of Todayimage via Giphy

Interested in the industry? Whether you’d like to be in front of the camera or as part of the crew, check this or this out.

A few years ago, Derek Haas, creator and co-producer of the Chicago franchise did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on reddit. When asked about using consultants to emulate realism and actual standard operating procedures, Haas replied that both the CFD Deputy District Chief Steve Chikerotis and Michele Martinez, a CFD paramedic, contributed to the beginnings of stories as well as technical language and practices. Haas says that Chikerotis, now retired, “has decades of smoke-eating under his belt and is truly one of the greatest guys you’ll ever meet.”

Another redditor appreciates the use of real sirens, which contributes to the authenticity of the program. To which Haas replies, “We drive our sound department crazy. We shoot everything on location in Chicago and there is always ambient noise messing with audio. Our guys are great though… and kudos to them for capturing the feel of Chicago and the CFD.” Amidst that ambient noise are our cheers for having a city that we can share through the small screen in a big way.

Chicago on the Small Screen - Shows of Todayimage via FreeImages



Chicago Restaurants Open on Thanksgiving

by Christine Hadley

Chicago Restaurants Open on Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving dinner can be a lot of work, especially if it’s just for a couple people. Sometimes preparing a big feast can be stressful and it can take away from the time families should be spending together. If you’re looking to have a relaxing/stress-free holiday, there are plenty of restaurants offering their own twist on Thanksgiving. Skip the mess this year and enjoy your company!

Here are a few places that will be open on Thanksgiving:

Wilde Bar & Restaurant

3130 N Broadway

Lady Gregory’s

5260 N Clark

These restaurants are offering a 4-course prix fixe menu for $42. This includes butternut squash bisque, holiday salad, featured entrees with sides (turkey, salmon, New York strip steak), and dessert (pumpkin pie, toffee pudding).

Chicago Restaurants Open on Thanksgiving - Wilde Bar and Restaurantimage via 10Best


Drew’s on Halsted

3201 N Halsted

$49 for a four course meal at this Lakeview restaurant. Appetizers include lobster bisque, beef skewer, duck confit risotto, butternut squash ravioli. For salads, there’s mixed gathered greens and arugula roasted beet goat cheese salad. Main courses include turkey, fish du jour, farfalle pasta, New York strip steak, pork chops and a vegan vegetable plate. Last but not least, dessert options include apple pie, pumpkin pie, cheesecake, white chocolate dried cherry bread pudding and chocolate molten lava cake.

 Chicago Restaurants Open on Thanksgiving - Drew's on Halstedimage via LakeviewEastChamberofCommerce


Kit Kat Lounge and Supper Club

3700 N Halsted

Available November 23rd to 25th

The Club is giving a 50 percent discount off martinis and cocktails, and 33 percent discount off the dinner tab with a canned good donation. These donations support Heartland Health Outreach. The Thanksgiving meal includes a martini, salad, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry and pineapple relish, and pumpkin pie tart. This meal is $50 without a donation and $25 with canned good donations.

 Chicago Restaurants Open on Thanksgiving - Kit Kat Loungeimage via KitKatChicago

The Signature Room

875 N Michigan

If you’re looking to celebrate in elegance, with stunning city views, this is the place for you. This unique experience is $80 for adults and $35 for children. At this price you’ll get sparkling wine and a buffet of seafood, soups and salads. The entrees include turkey, scallops and lamb chops with classic sides. The best part of all, you’ll finish the night with a dessert buffet.

 Chicago Restaurants Open on Thanksgiving - Signature Roomimage via ChicagoNow

Hard Rock Café

63 W Ontario

$27 for adults, $12.95 for kids – Dinner includes turkey, garlic smashed potatoes, stuffing, vegetables, cranberry jam, cinnamon pumpkin pie. Come by after the parade to see Santa and Mrs. Claus!

Chicago Restaurants Open on Thanksgiving - Hard Rock Cafeimage via Expedia

Bub City

435 N Clark

For $17 per person, you’ll enjoy hickory-smoked turkey breast, homemade cornbread and sage stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberries. Bub City is also offering a Thanksgiving carryout menu for your convenience.

 Chicago Restaurants Open on Thanksgiving - Bub Cityimage via BubCity


Parson’s Chicken and Fish

2952 W Armitage

Thanksgiving for 2 – to go!

Pre-order this dinner for two for $50. This carry-out option allows you to lounge at home in your comfy clothes. This meals includes 1 whole fried amish chicken, 2 pieces green chile cornbread, 1pt tomato and bacon braised green beans, 1pt Thanksgiving elotes, 1 qt mashed potatoes with gravy. If that isn’t enough, you can pay a little more for some optional extras.

 Chicago Restaurants Open on Thanksgiving - Parson's Chicken and Fishimage via Parson’s Chicken and Fish

Furious Spoon

Wicker Park location – 1571 N Milwaukee

Furious Spoon will be helping those in need on Thanksgiving by giving away free bowls of ramen! (11 A.M. to 4 P.M or until they run out)

 Chicago Restaurants Open on Thanksgiving - Furious Spoonimage via EaterChicago


If you like any of these options, call and make your reservation today! Also, if you plan on being downtown, don’t forget about the Thanksgiving Parade!

And have a HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!! Hope everyone has a stress-free holiday!

Chicago Restaurants Open on Thanksgiving image via TheDailyDot

T minus 3 days until turkey time!

Haunted Houses around the Chicago Area

by Christine Hadley

Haunted Houses around the Chicago Area


Happy Halloween everyone!! With the distraction of the World Series, I think a lot of us have forgotten that it was even Halloween. Today we get a break from baseball, so get into the holiday spirit! For those who love getting scared, prepare yourself for some of the scariest places near the city.

Here’s a short list of Haunted Houses (Note: Some of these places go until November 5th):


Statesville Haunted Prison:

Find your way through 23 maximum security cells and then through caves/mines with the graves of past inmates.

Address: 17250 S. Weber Rd, Crest Hill

Last Day: October 31, 2016

Haunted Housesimage via StatesvilleHauntedPrison


Disturbia Screams in the Park

This year it includes an underground sewer, swamp filled with creatures and a new exit.

Address: 5501 Park Place, Rosemont

Last Day: November 5, 2016

Haunted Housesimage via DisturbiaScreams


13th Floor Haunted House

You get to see for yourself if the legends of the 13th floor are true. Your ticket gets you into the Bloodlines: Legacy of Darkness and Dead End District: Fallout.

Address:  1940 George St, Melrose Park

Last Day: November 5, 2016

Haunted Housesimage via Pexels


House of Torment

Attraction 1: The Frenzy – The city is on lock-down as a gang of evil spirits has taken over the streets.

Attraction 2: Nightmare High – The high school has been overrun by a zombie cheerleader and undead teenagers.

Address: 8240 N Austin Ave, Morton Grove

Last Day: November 5, 2016

Haunted Houses image via Unsplash

Midnight Terror Haunted House

The venue has decided to extend its season by hosting a two-day-only Clown Takeover on November 4th & 5th. This event will have over 100 clown characters, with unique personalities & costumes.

Address: 5520 W 111th St, Oak Lawn

Last Day: November 5, 2016

Haunted Houses image via Unsplash

For those who can’t handle the terrifying torment, watching a Halloween movie at home sounds like a better idea. Everyone have a safe and happy holiday!!

Chicago Pumpkin Carving Parties

by Michael Keating

Chicago Pumpkin Carving Parties


Chicago Pumpkin Carving Parties

A total Halloween celebration calls for not only an outstanding costume, bushels of candy, and a haunting tale or two, but also a smiling and/or terrifying carved pumpkin. Whether cut with horror in mind or with notions on demonstrating brilliant artistry, some aspects are undeniable and universal: choice pumpkins can be hard to find and the process can be a slime fest. This year, we want to highlight a few spots around the city hosting carving events, all of which provide necessary supplies. Work out any feelings about the upcoming election or celebrate the Cubs! Anything is possible on the surface of a pumpkin.

Chicago Pumpkin Carving Parties image via Tumblr

The 6th Annual Great Punk’n Party includes punk music, pumpkin themed food specials, and even pumpkin beer poured through pumpkins. For $20, Fountainhead at 1970 W Montrose will provide a pumpkin and carving kit. Winners of the best  jack-o’-lanterns are selected by their Pumpkin Carving Peers. Reserve early! Party commences at 7PM on Tuesday, October 25.

 Chicago Pumpkin Carving Parties

Every year Sheffield’s Beer & Wine Garden brings “in a huge truckload of pumpkins”; they provide carving tools and ask that you show up with your imagination. Event takes place at 6PM on Thursday, October 27. They’ll even display creations throughout Halloween for everyone to enjoy. They’re expecting quite a turnout so be sure to arrive early and try their selection of seasonal craft beers and cocktails.

 Chicago Pumpkin Carving Partiesimage via Tumblr

Gaslight Bar & Grille at 2450 N Clark is hosting a free pumpkin pumpkin carving night on Thursday, October 27 at 7PM. Specials include half price salads and wraps and discounted wine. RSVP here.

Chicago Pumpkin Carving Parties image via ChicagoEvents

A prize of $100 for the best jack-o’-lantern! Schoolyard Tavern is hosting a pumpkin carving night at 8PM on Thursday, October 27. Pumpkins and carving supplies are complimentary and pumpkin beer specials will be in full swing.

 Chicago Pumpkin Carving Parties

And what to do with all those gouged out gourds? Gene’s Sausage Shop in Lincoln Square hosts their 3rd Annual Pumpkin Carving Contest on Sunday, October 30 starting at 12PM. Carved pumpkins may be dropped off as early as Wednesday, October 26 and they will be displayed in Gene’s windows until the event. The celebration will also mark the closing of their rooftop for the season. Halloween costumes are encouraged, not required.

According to, it is believed that the custom of making jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween began in Ireland. Lanterns, carved from gourds, were said to represent supernatural beings or to assist in warding evil spirits off. All Hallows’ Eve is just around the corner, so be sure to take advantage of these fun-filled, pumpkin hollowing events!

 Chicago Pumpkin Carving Parties image via Giphy

Chicago, The City of Hermits…

by Michael Keating

Chicago, The City of Hermits…

Goods and Services We Enjoy at Home


If you are looking to be around others, without actually having to engage with said others, Chicago just might be the city of your dreams. Earlier this month, Estately published data that ranked the City of Big Shoulders as Home of the Urban Hermit as well. The study examined not only the work and entertainment habits of city dwellers nationwide, but also their ability to procure necessities without having to venture out, and who can gripe about a gather that requires no hunt?

 Other factors considered include Internet speeds, housing affordability, and the ability to have alcohol delivered to your abode. A number of services can have your selected spirits at your door in an hour. Grubhub delivers your favorite dishes from an ever-expanding list of local restaurants, and companies like instacart will have groceries from your preferred supermarket to you in an hour. For a DYI dinner with ease, consider Madison & Rayne, “high-quality food prepared with fresh local ingredients” delivered to your door with straightforward instructions and tips on cooking.

 Chicago, The City of Hermits

Even finding the right men’s look for the fall can be done at home. Outfitters with Trumaker meet with you, offer customized style advice, and measure you for the best possible fit. Contact Aylah Weinstein at 312-618-6006, one of the most outstanding outfitters in the Chicagoland area, to schedule your next fitting. There’s no reason you can’t dress like a king even if you don’t leave your castle.


Need to garner assistance moving appliances, setting up a home theater, or assembling your newest IKEA addition? TaskRabbit connects you to safe and reliable help with projects. If you are in the process of purchasing a new TV, consider this guide to help you determine the optimal size your room needs. This resource from offers excellent, up-to-date information on the best equipment for building your home theater. Once the surround sound system and streaming media player are in place, take some time to enjoy entertainment at home. Netflix is hitting hard with recently released Luke Cage and soon to be released third season of Black Mirror. FX is capturing our attention again with American Horror Story and HBO’s Westworld is said to be the new Game of Thrones.

 Chicago, The City of Hermits

The poet James Russell Lowell elucidates, “The mind can weave itself warmly in the cocoon of its own thoughts, and dwell a hermit anywhere.” We’re glad the environment is conducive and friendly to pseudo-isolation. Whether you relish the company of others or prefer solitary quarters, Chicago can and wants to accommodate you.

 Chicago, The City of Hermits

Experience Lincoln Square Chicago

by Christine Hadley

Experience Lincoln Square Chicago


Lincoln Square is like a mini Bavaria with its numerous German inspired businesses. The heart of the neighborhood is a picturesque strip down Lincoln Avenue. The area is full of local shops, restaurants, music venue, bars and an old school move theater (currently under renovations).  It’s also conveniently located off the Western Brown Line Station. You get a small town feel from Lincoln Square that’s kind of comforting. Though this may be a quieter neighborhood, it frequently hosts festivals/events such as Mayfest, Square Roots Festival, Apple Fest, German-American Festival, etc. You’ll find a variety of events held at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Spend a day in Lincoln Square and see for yourself what it has to offer.

Experience Lincoln Square

Here’s are a short list of places to check out in Lincoln Square:

Old Town School of Folk Music – A wide variety of classes can be found at the Old Town School of Folk Music. They offer everything from guitar to belly dancing. If you’re worried about costs, Old Town offers financial aid and numerous volunteer opportunities. Don’t want to buy an instrument? No worries, Old Town offers different rental options. The school is also a venue for a variety of concerts & events. Be sure to stop at the Old Town shop for all your music needs.

Experience Lincoln Square - Old Town School of Folk Musicimage via Christine Hadley

The Book Cellar – The Book Cellar is part café and part independent bookstore. The café offers a variety of food, coffee, as well alcoholic beverages. Grab a good book, a glass of wine and curl up on a comfy chair, does it get much better? The Book Cellar also hosts numerous book clubs. For those who are anti pumpkin spice and want to get in the fall spirit, The Book Cellar’s caramel apple cider is one of my favorites!

Experience Lincoln Square - The Book Cellarimage via Christine Hadley

Chicago Brauhaus – To get the full German experience, the Chicago Brauhaus serves a variety of traditional German dishes, wine & beer, as well as music & dancing 6 days a week. The restaurant was also included on an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on The Food Network. A beer & brats sounds pretty amazing, doesn’t it? I guess my German background could make me a little biased.

Experience Lincoln Square - Chicago BrauhausTake a look at this fine, young gentleman…. he seems to be enjoying his boot of beer at the Chicago Brauhaus – image via Christine Hadley

The Davis Theater – This is one of Chicago’s oldest and longest operating movie theaters. You’ll find the Davis on the National Register of Historic Places. The theater is currently being renovated and according to their website, should open sometime this fall. The theater welcomes the addition of The Carbon Arc Bar & Board, a full-service bar/restaurant. This is a great place to catch a flick on the big screen and soon enough it’ll be a great place to enjoy food & drinks with friends and/or family.

Experience Lincoln Square - The Davis Theaterimage via Christine Hadley

Gene’s Sausage Shop – Gene’s Sausage Shops is a European market that offers gourmet foods, homemade smoked meats, butcher shop, cheeses, baked goods, fresh produce, imported beer, wine and so on. When there’s good weather, be sure to visit Gene’s Rooftop Bar & Wine Garden! The bar has a simple menu, but the perfect outdoor experience to enjoy a Brat with a cold beer.

Experience Lincoln Square - Gene's Sausage Shopimage via Christine Hadley

Some additional shops to check out: Urban General Store, Sacred Art, A Secret Closet……..

For those of you who didn’t grow up in a big city, Lincoln Square is like a home away from home. There are numerous other great bars, restaurants & shops in the neighborhood, so get out and explore!

Explore Bucktown Chicago

by Michael Keating

Explore Bucktown Chicago


Just slightly north and west of the city’s center, Bucktown frequently gets grouped with Wicker Park and sometimes Logan Square, leaving us wondering exactly what characteristics one might expect from this thriving, trendy neighborhood. On a map, the neighborhood resembles the top of a grand piano, anchored by Western Avenue on the west, the recently modernized 606 trail along the south, and follows the curve of the Chicago River.


Primarily residential west of the Kennedy Expressway (90/94), which cuts through the neighborhood diagonally and provides a direct route to downtown or the suburbs and O’Hare Airport, Bucktown is also home to several boutiques and independent restaurants as well as big box chains, like Target and Costco. The history of the communities within Bucktown is rich. Along Oakley and Damen Avenues are some of the city’s most ornate and majestic churches.

Explore Bucktownimage via CatholicReport

Be sure to check out:


  • The Hideout, which hosts literary shows and concerts several nights a week

  • On Tuesdays, The Map Room serves their astounding selection of beers and offers free food. Arrive early, as it tends to be quite an attraction.

  • Coast Sushi Bar, a BYOB restaurant with glowing reviews

  • Explore your ability to create at Arts n Spirits!

Explore Bucktownimage via ChicagoStories

Popular Bucktown Events

 Explore Bucktownimage via ChicagoNow


  • 90/94 or the Kennedy Expressway provides easy access to Downtown Chicago or to O’Hare and the northern suburbs.

  • A number of CTA buses carry passengers along the main thoroughfares; the Western Avenue Blue Line Station transports riders to O’Hare and the Loop; the Clybourn Metra Station connects citydwellers to several suburbs.

  • The 606 is a major development that runs along Bloomingdale Avenue from North Ridgeway to North Ashland Avenues. The dog-friendly, elevated trail was recently modernized and features a path for bicyclists, runners, and walkers. Open daily from 6am to 11pm.

  • According to walkscore, “Daily errands do not require a car” for Bucktown residents.

Explore Bucktownimage via Curbed Chicago

Apartment People Bucktown Properties

Bucktown/Wicker Park Rent Ranges: 1 Bedroom $950-2000, 2 Bedroom $1400-3000, 3 Bedroom $1800-3500

  • ID #21987 – $2,200 for a 2 bedroom, 2 bedroom gut rehab with parking included and in unit laundry.
  • ID #27912 – $2,100 for a 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom walk-up with a dishwasher and laundry in the building.
  • ID #32510 – $1,475 for a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom flat with hardwood floors and laundry in the building.
  • ID #37723 – $2,800 for a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom flat with in unit laundry and beautiful finishes throughout.

For more listings in this area, click here

While less densely populated than the Lincoln Park and Lakeview neighborhoods, there is no shortage of community and culture in Bucktown. Its richness and diversity is influenced by the variety of immigrants from Poland to Cuba and everywhere in between. According to The Chicago Neighborhoods, “The neighborhood’s origins are rooted in the Polish working class, which first began to settle in the area in the 1830s.” In fact, the neighborhood was named after the goats raised there in the 19th century. Today, you’ll find a neighborhood invested in the arts and innovative cuisine, as well as a community appreciative of nature.

Explore Bucktownvia Unsplash