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We should remember that our houseplants can behave very differently in the winter as they do in the summer. I know especially around the holidays everyone is really quite busy but I’m finding myself even more busy in January and February this year. With new goals and tax preparation in full swing, sometimes I forget the last time I watered the plants. This is not the worst thing that can happen, actually overwatering leads to more plant deaths than under watering.

Plant growth slows down in winter. Also keep an eye on sun angles. Winter sun is very low; you might have to move some plants around so they can get as much light as possible. Fertilize ½ strength once a month.

If you have gas forced air it can get extremely dry in the house, not a good environment for plants. I use a tabletop humidifier and augment with misting the plants weekly. This also helps with dust accumulation that impedes photosynthesis. The moisture helps the humans and pets in the house as well.

Plants should be placed with attention to three things. Like I said before light maximization. Move further from windows where the temperature can be up to 8 degrees cooler, plants can actually freeze if touching the window. Again, with the forced air heat, keep plants away from the direct air flow from registers.

Even though our winter has been relatively mild keep in mind these suggestions to get our plants through in great shape.


Every once in a while I come across an interesting website that I feel compelled to share with everyone. Let me tell you about BuyMeOnce. According to the website, BuyMeOnce finds and promotes products that don't break the bank, don't break the planet ... that don't break at all!

The website was created by Tara Button who was working in advertising and was inspired by her client, Le Creuset, a ceramic cookware purveyor who has a lifetime guarantee for all their products. Tara did some research and found that no other site had vetted and compiled a list of products that are guaranteed for a lifetime.

Tara says she is looking for the best sustainable products. One of the brands on her site is Patagonia, which offers free fixing of their clothes. Another company is Feelgood Eco Beds, which uses traditional techniques in building their furniture so that pieces are durable and last. Currently products are available for purchase in the US and UK. They are working on getting the best items available from every country.

There is a lot of research that goes into any product being added to the website. Not only does Tara read reviews and talk to consumers, but she also talks to the experts. For example, when looking at which shoes to add to the site she asked cobblers which shoes lasted and which were easy to fix. She will not place an item on the site before talking to experts because they have the experience with long-lasting products. Tara reads every one of her emails, currently a backlog of about 600, to find the next possible item to add to her website's growing list. The product must match their core mission. Any submission will be reviewed so long as you state what the product is and give a story behind why you believe it should be part of the site. According to Tara, approximately 60 percent of the traffic they currently have is coming from the US.

The site is also offering challenges to manufacturers. An example that Tara cites is an electric kettle. The kettle guarantees that Tara found are short and the online reviews support the claims of poor quality. "It's frustrating, and I feel it's immoral to make something that breaks and ends up in a landfill, and it's really short-sighted," says Tara.



WOW! This first weekend in February is pretty jam-packed with a variety of events for all Chicagoans!!

The Division Street Entertainment District and Green Curtain Events will be presenting the Retro Ski Lodge Block Party this Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at various participating venues in the Gold Coast neighborhood (North Clark Street & West Division Street). This retro ski-lodge themed bash is complete with crazy ski costumes, shot skis, liquor luges and yes, even Yeti sightings! This event is guaranteed not to miss. After all, it’s a Winter Fest, A Bar Crawl and A Festive Block Party all rolled into one!!

It’s the Year of the Monkey and the Chinese Community will be hosting their 33rd annual Lunar New Year Gala Celebration this Saturday (5:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.) at the Hyatt Regency Chicago (151 E. Wacker Dr.) in the Streeterville neighborhood. Along with an extravagant Asian-themed menu there will be a captivating program where drummers lead the audience into the Grand Ballroom for an evening of entertainment that includes a Color Guard Posting of Colors, a Grand Performance of 4 Asian Cultural Groups with Lions and Flourish, Feeding of the Lions and so much more! Your emcees for the evening are Linda Yu, Co-Anchor at ABC-7 and Cary Chow, ESPN Anchor.  Envision. Enlighten. Empower.

This year’s “Be My Valentine” Family Event will take place at The Ritz-Carlton Chicago (160 E. Pearson St.) in the Gold Coast neighborhood on Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Now in its 9th year with all proceeds benefitting the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation, this fun-filled event not only features a delicious brunch buffet but also offers many Valentine’s events perfect for the whole family such as character appearances, performances from the Jesse White Tumblers, All About Dance and Art Beat live, a magic show, a sweet treat decorating station, cooking demonstrations, arts & crafts, carnival activities and much more throughout the day!

Can’t make it to New Orleans on February 9th for Mardi Gras? Well, the next best thing would be attending one, or all, of the Mardi Gras Parties in Chicago such as the Mardi Gras Crawl this Saturday (2:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.) at Navy Pier, Crystal Gardens (600 E. Grand Ave.) in the Streeterville neighborhood. Billed as the largest indoor Mardi Gras crawl, this event includes 10 bars along Navy Pier with 2 $3 gift cards valid at these participating bars along with food and drink specials, live music, entertainment, games and prizes! You never have to step outside!!

By the way, in recognition of Mardi Gras, and Fat Tuesday, Kanela Breakfast Club (1408 N. Milwaukee Ave.) in the Wicker Park neighborhood will be serving up on Tuesday, February 9th, at 8:00 a.m. Paczki Pancakes! Hope to see you there!!

Finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for! Super Bowl 50 and the 46th modern-era National Football League championship game which will decide the league champion for the 2015 NFL Season will take place this Sunday with kick-off at 5:30 p.m. between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA! Haven’t been invited, or hosting, a Super Bowl bash? Well then, checkout Super Bowl Sunday Specials taking place around town and go cheer for your favorite team! Who is it?

Here's to Variety and Ron Rivera’s Carolina Panthers!  Did I Just Say That?



Of all the store closings occurring around the city since the beginning of the year, the news of Gene's Sausage Shop and Delicatessen closing at 5330 W. Belmont Ave. on 1/15/16 is the least upsetting. The Polish sausage maker and grocer has been occupying the space on the southern edge of Portage Park for 36 years but this closing will give sausage master, Gene Luszcz, the ability to focus on his "semi-retirement" plus business will continue as usual at the multi-level Lincoln Square location which includes a rooftop beer and wine garden (4570 N. Lincoln Ave.). Worry not, Portage Park. You will not be left with an abandoned commercial space in its wake. Get ready for the Mexican grocery store Carnicerias Jimenez that will be opening in its place soon.


The younger generation taught me a new slang term, "Netflix and Chill." I'm happy to report that a couple of bars are taking the literal meaning to advertise a new idea for getting you out of the house to patronize a couple local watering holes. In the chilly months of February and March, Old Town Pour House (1419 N. Wells St.) and Boundary Tavern and Grille (1932 W. Division St.) are inviting you out to binge watch TV. On Sundays, starting at 6:00pm, these bars will feature half-priced bottles of wine and discounted beers while showing multiple episodes of popular Netflix shows. Follow the link above to view the lineup.


The Wrightwood Neighbors Association invites residents and customers of the Lincoln Park area to the 9th Annual Taste of Wrightwood on Monday, 2/8, starting at 6:00pm at New Life Community Church (1110 W. Lill Ave.). This free event will bring local government officials and taste samples from participating restaurants occupying the area bordered west to east by Lakewood Ave. and Halsted St. and north to south by Diversey Blvd. and Fullerton Ave. under one roof for an "Eat and Greet" event. Participating restaurants include The Twisted Baker, Sweet Station, Four Star Lounge, Pita Pit, and several others.


There's a new and colorful art installation coming to Grant Park this month by Tony Tasset, the artist behind the 30-foot-tall eyeball sculpture that was on display at Pritzer Park in 2010. The new sculpture called "The Artists Monument" is an 80-foot-long multi-colored rectangular sculpture made of steel and wood that resembles a colorful shipping container. Upon closer inspection, the colored panels are etched with nearly 400,000 names of artists ranging from well known artists to random people Tasset found on the internet. His monument pays homage to all people creative and brave enough to share their artistry with the world.


A star is coming to Naperville. Actress Kate Hudson will be making an appearance at Wentz Concert Hall (171 E. Chicago Ave.) of North Central College on Saturday, 2/20, at 7:00pm to promote her book "Pretty Happy." Tickets must be purchased ahead of time to attend this book signing and Q&A event with Hudson who won the Supporting Actress Golden Globe for her role in Almost Famous in 2000. The event is sponsored by Anderson's Bookshop located in downtown Naperville at 123 W. Jefferson Ave.



It’s a sad time, the end of football. Let’s put together some classic snacks that everyone will love.

Warm white cheddar, bacon and caramelized onion dip

Sauté a medium chopped onion in one tablespoon of butter till golden, about 30 minutes. Cool slightly and mix with 1/3 cup mayonnaise, 1/3 cup sour cream, 6 slices cooked and chopped bacon and a 7oz package of grated extra sharp white cheddar. Save a little cheese for the top. Put in a small cooking sprayed ceramic dish and bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 15 minutes or until brown and bubbly. Serve with flatbread or crostini.


Buy your avocadoes a few days ahead of time to ensure you will have perfectly ripe ones for Sunday. Guacamole has a few basic guidelines. You need an acid like lemon or lime juice, I use lime. It really cuts through the richness of the avocadoes with fresh taste and prevents browning. Spices include S&P, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. For crunch and taste add finely chopped red onion and tomato. I usually drain the chopped tomato on paper towels so as not to add too much juice. Choose your peppers with an idea of heat level. Jalapeno and serrano are hot enough for me. Remember, ribs of the peppers are the hottest so remove if you want less heat. So mash your avocadoes and add everything but the tomato. Let flavors meld in the refrigerator then take out an hour before party time. Add tomato and let it come to room temperature. Serve with authentic unsalted tortilla chips.

Buffalo Wings

Separate 10 chicken wings at the joint. Toss with ½ cup flour, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon cayenne powder. Spread out on a rack over a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least an hour. This makes sure the flour coating will adhere. Fry in 375-degree oil that covers the wings until they are golden brown, usually 10-15 minutes. Simmer ¼ cup butter along with pepper, garlic powder and hot sauce to taste. Toss in wings and serve alongside bleu cheese dressing and celery sticks.

Enjoy the Big Game and go Chico and the Panthers!



I know, I know, there's always something new on the horizon. These particular earbuds,though, have some really great possibility. The way noise cancelling technology works is actually quite interesting. Essentially, the technology produces a sound wave that deflects and cancels out the other sound trying to reach you. One of the earlier systems of noise cancellation was created for helicopter and airplane cockpits. And as recently as October 2015, noise cancellation was used to prevent boos from being heard on the television series Eurovision Song Contest 2015.

The company QuietOn has created new earbuds that are designed to provide not only noise cancellation but also hearing protection. Since the bud is placed directly in your ear, it's able to eliminate both high and low frequency sounds, which is different from the earphones you see some people using. They are not yet for sale on the open market, but available through an Indiegogo campaign for $130. The earbuds come with their own case which also acts as the charger. A single charge can last up to 50 hours and there are no wires. Once removed from their case, the earbuds are on and active.

Several of the applications they suggest on their page include sleeping in a not-so-quiet room, traveling, working in stressful and continuously noisy surroundings, personal relaxation and even for children or students suffering from concentration problems. According to the feedback already received, the earplugs are providing health benefits by reducing stress, increasing productivity and quality of sleep.


Finally, the last weekend of January is here and it may bring with it temps in the 40’s! But don’t get too excited, it’s still winter and we’ve got February and March to deal with yet. In any event though, why not get excited about this weekend – 40’s in January in Chicago on a weekend!!

The 15th annual Polar Bear Plunge hosted by the Lakeview Polar Bear Club takes place this Saturday at Oak Street Beach (1000 N. Lake Shore Dr.) in the Gold Coast neighborhood raising money for two local families in need. Registration takes place at 11:00 a.m. along with photos and setting-up for the Plunge itself at Noon. Afterwards, head on over to Fatpour Tapworks (2005 W. Division St.) and celebrate with all the other polar bears! Why not do something crazy and good at the same time? After all, it should be a glorious day for a Plunge with temps expected to reach 40!!

You may get a touch of the “spring-time itch” this weekend so why not head over to the Ideal Home Show Chicago and start preparing for your spring remodeling projects. This show will offer ideas and inspiration from Chicagoland’s top home and remodeling experts this Saturday (10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.) and Sunday (10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.) at Navy Pier (600 E. Grand Ave.) in the Streeterville neighborhood. This year’s celebrity guests and expert speakers include: Chip Wade, HGTV’s Celebrity and Host on Elbow Room; Duane Draughton, 3-D Designer for HGTV’s Ahmed Hassan and Owner at VizX Designs, a premier outdoor living design firm specializing in outdoor living spaces and swimming pools; and Dr. Bob Wright, a relationships expert and professor of transformational leadership bringing out the best in us. Also, besides providing professional advice, these experts and others will demonstrate the latest products and new trends to make your home a more beautiful place!

Time to chase those Winter Blues away at this weekend’s Randolph Street Monthly Market for the ultimate shopping, eating, shopping, drinking, shopping, people watching experience, and, did I mention, shopping experience at Beaux Arts Plumber’s Hall (1340 W. Washington St.) in the West Loop neighborhood. From 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., both days, this indoor market has three levels of 125 vendors of antique, indie designer, vintage, fancy and global foods as well as local eateries, libations and live music all while you shop!

Finally, Sunday brings the 19th annual AON Step Up for the Kids at one of Chicago’s tallest buildings the Aon Center (200 E. Randolph St.) in the Streeterville neighborhood. Beginning at 8:00 a.m., participants will climb 80 floors to the top while raising money for the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital. Afterwards, the post-climb party will offer complimentary food and beverages, live music performed by Spakl and a spectacular view at the finish line on the 80th Floor as well as more complimentary food and beverages at the food court on the mezzanine level before heading down to the lobby to meet up with friends and family!

You might want to kick-back and relax after such an exciting weekend at The Logan Theatre (2646 N. Milwaukee Ave.) in the Logan Square neighborhood with a screening of Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles (1974) at 11:00 p.m. (Saturday & Sunday) starring Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder! Don’t forget your Big bucket of popcorn!!

Why Not Get Excited? I Am!!



Yesterday, Wednesday 1/27, a community meeting was held by Ald. Anthony Napolitano to discuss plans for a new liquor store coming to downtown Norwood Park. This would only be the second packaged liquor store since the Norwood Park Chamber of Commerce and Industry successfully worked to change the status of neighborhood areas from "dry" precincts to "wet" ones several years ago. The planned store, Wine and Spirits, will be located in the northern half of the shopping plaza at 6060 N. Northwest Highway, while the southern half of the plaza lies within a dry precinct. At residents' request, the liquor store will refrain from selling single-serving beer containers of up to 40 ounces and will close by 10:00pm.  


The newer fitness brand, SoulCycle, is opening its third location in the Southport Corridor (3423 N. Southport Ave.) and starts this Saturday, 1/30, with its first class at 8:30am. SoulCycle combines dance moves while furiously pedaling on a stationary bike for a full body workout. Newer soulcyclers start at the back of the class and work to move up towards the front as they progress through the program. Instructors guide riders with inspirational and meditative words similar to yoga routines where intentions are set to engage your mind into your exercise.


I know it's only January and we have 4 long months before summer festival season restarts but NOW is the time for artists and vendors to start applying for valuable space in Old Town's Wells Street Art Festival scheduled for 6/11/16 - 6/12/16. This festival is one of the best juried artist events the Midwest has to offer. While food and merchant vendor applications are not due until May 1st, artists' applications must be received no later than midnight on Friday 2/5.


The Evanston Environmental Association will be holding their 14th annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival at the Evanston Ecology Center (2024 McCormick Blvd.) on Friday 2/5 and Friday 2/19 from 7:00 - 9:00pm both evenings. The festival will showcase 9 short films each evening. By short, they mean running times of 3 to 23 minutes per film. General admission is only $7 per night to view inspirational and informative documentary shorts that bring attention to environmental issues such as the effects of toxic microplastics in our oceans (Filtering A Plastic Ocean), the story of three power plants dumping waste in a rural Pennsylvania community (A Line in the Sand), and much more.


The Field Museum is doing it again this year! "Free February" will grant free basic admission for all Illinois residents for the entire month of February. Don't forget to bring your Illinois ID to save up to $22 for adult basic admission.



Sales of existing home shot up last month somewhat unexpectedly. From the way this year is starting out I think the spring market is going to be robust. Right now inventory is low and many sellers are selling quickly at good prices. Of course not all neighborhoods are having this success so always consult with your Real Estate Professional before deciding to put your home on the market. Here are a few suggestions for sprucing up the house if you decide to list.

Stand at the front entrance. What stands out? Move furniture away from the wall and arrange in clusters around a focal point like a fire place. Wash the windows and walls if you’re not repainting. Make sure window treatments are minimal so light flows in. Old tired carpet needs to be replaced and if there’s hardwood, refinish.

Consider cleaning out the basement first. It might be time to get a dumpster. I know I have stuff in my basement that I haven’t looked at in 20 years. Cleaning out the basement will give you a place to stash stuff (neatly boxed) from cleaning out upstairs.

Think about moving half your stuff to storage. Take anything seasonal and out of date from your attic, garage and basement. Remove half the furniture and all the knickknacks. If the house feels empty to you that’s what you want.

Remove ANYTHING personal. This includes, family pictures, religious symbols, anything political, even sports affiliations. The home needs to look as impersonal as possible. Think of model homes you have seen. Buyers need to see the house and imagine how they could live there.

Kitchens and bathrooms should be spotless. Box up all your brushes, shampoos, hair dryers, etc. and store under the sink or in a closet. There should be hand soap and a pretty hand towel. A small decorative candle is nice too. Clear the kitchen counters of everything but the coffee maker and perhaps a jar of utensils. Kitchen or dining table should have nice matching placemats with a bowl of fruit or flowers.

Bedrooms also need personal items put away. Dressers and night stands cleared. Throw a nice duvet and decorative pillows on the bed. Kids rooms should have neatly made bed and toys and books stored away. Buyers expect closets are for storage but make sure doors can be opened without danger of things falling out. Better yet pack and put away in storage any clothes and shoes that you won’t need for a few months.

Buyers today are extremely sensitive to smells in a home. I’ve had buyers turn away from the front door of homes with a bad smell. Pets and smokers can make a lovely home turn off buyers. If possible, have smokers go outside. Clean cat boxes daily. Vacuum pet hair and brush furniture. Check out oxygen systems like Wave Ventilation for odor control.

Too summarize, clean, clean, clean! Take away half your stuff, depersonalize, think model home. Get ready to move!!



I've had all my numbers on the Do Not Call list for some time now. Although, over the holidays and into this year I saw an uptick in the number of unwanted calls I was receiving so I did a little digging into why this was happening. Here are some guidelines for understanding how this free service works.

You need to register all numbers separately. You can do this using the website (three at one time) or calling 888-382-1222 from the phone you want registered. When you register online, you'll receive a confirmation email with a link to complete the registration within 72 hours. Don't miss the window or you'll have to re-register. Registering your number doesn't automatically stop all calls. It usually takes about 31 days on the registry for sales calls to stop. The Registry only prohibits sales calls, which means you'll still receive calls from politicians, charities, debt collectors, telephone surveys, companies you've recently done business and the like. If any of these callers are told by you not to call again, they have to honor your request (make sure you document the date of the request).

Let's say you receive an illegal robocall. According to the FTC, you should not interact in any way. There are options usually to press buttons so you get taken off their call list or talk to a live person. These are usually tricks and may lead to you receiving more calls. The recommendation instead is to file a complaint directly with the FTC. In addition you'll want to speak with your phone service provider to see what options you have for blocking specific phone numbers and the cost, if any.

One thing to remember is that your number is permanently on the register unless you remove it or it is disconnected. If you move, you'll have to register any new numbers and old numbers are automatically removed from the list. In certain instances, you need to re-register your number. Three of the most common are when your phone gets disconnected and reconnected, you change the billing name on your account or you change calling plans. You do not have to worry if your area code is changed though.



Not sure what to do this weekend. Only that you don’t want to stay cooped-up in the house.   Well then, this weekend may just be the perfect opportunity to “un-coop” yourself!

The 9th annual Chicago Restaurant Week offers 14 belt-busting days (through February 4th) at Multiple Locations throughout Chicago for an extraordinary culinary experience with top fare at value pricing. This annual culinary celebration offers special prix fixe menus for lunch and dinner with over 350 restaurants participating which include 54 new participants this year. Here’s your opportunity to indulge in Italian, Spanish, French, Thai and many other cuisines from neighborhood favorites to downtown hot spots! And don’t forget to bring your appetite!!

Paramount’s Laser Spectacular takes place this Saturday (6:30 p.m.) at the House of Blues (329 N. Dearborn St.) in the River North neighborhood. With amazing custom-designed lighting effects and the use of many lasers, this Laser Spectacular works with sights and sounds in tandem with the music of Pink Floyd. The first half of the show features the entire “Dark Side of the Moon” album while the second half features the Best of Pink Floyd with songs from “The Wall,” “Wish You Were Here,” and others! Of course, a live Pink Floyd concert is a wholly unique experience in itself and second to none, but this is definitely the next best thing!!

Celebrating David Bowie, one of the most influential musicians of his era, will take place at the Elbo Room (2871 N. Lincoln Ave.) in the Lakeview neighborhood this Saturday at 8:00 p.m. with his music being played as well as his movies being shown! Rest in Peace David Bowie!!

Chitown Beernival will be raising funds for “Autism Speaks” this Saturday from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Joe’s Bar (940 W. Weed St.) in the Goose Island neighborhood. This beer-themed carnival includes a beer pong tournament, a flip cup tournament, a carnival and prizes all rolled into one! Afterwards, head on down to Sully’s House (1501 N. Dayton St. – 2 blocks from Joe’s) for the after-party!!

The 11th annual Johnny Cash Festival returns to the historic Irish American Heritage Center (4626 N. Knox Ave.) in the Mayfair neighborhood this Saturday from 6:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. Hayden Thompson, Iron Horse, Hodie Snitch and others are on hand for this festival along with a surprise guest to create the best night of the year! I guess you’ll have to attend to find out who the surprise guest is!!

Finally, Disney On Ice Celebrates 100 Years of Magic will be at the Allstate Arena (6920 Mannheim Rd.) in the suburb of Rosemont this Saturday and Sunday with performances at 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. You and the little ones will be charmed by a cast of over 50 that include Mickey Mouse, the Mouse-ter of Ceremonies, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, the Disney Princesses and many other Disney favorites! Relive the magic of Disney over the years for the ultimate Disney experience!!

“Cooped” or “Un-Cooped” – Which One Will You Be?



In case you weren't aware, yesterday, January 20th,  was Penguin Awareness Day. It's a day to not only reflect on the cuteness of the penguin but to realize that their numbers are decreasing due to extreme global environmental changes. In honor of the day, Lincoln Park Zoo's Facebook page posted a video Sneak Peak: Plans for Robert and Mayari Pritzker Penguin Cove.  The Zoo already has a penguin exhibit but they plan to expand and welcome African penguins in the fall of this year.


Family Tree Resale at 5066 N. Lincoln Ave. is not your ordinary thrift store. They partner with local schools and charities to offer vouchers to people in need for free merchandise. This time they are partnering with Swedish Covenant Hospital which treated four firefighters who were injured in a Rogers Park apartment fire on January 11th that displaced many residents. Together, Family Tree Resale and Swedish Covenant would like to extend vouchers to these families with help from the community. Anyone donating or purchasing items to the resale store from now until February 14th who say that they are doing so on behalf of Swedish Covenant will earn points for their charity that will eventually convert towards vouchers to be distributed to those made homeless by the Rogers Park fire. This unique thrift store model was created by owner Elizabeth Basa and last year her program gave out $60,000 worth of vouchers to people in need.


We're helping the City of Chicago's Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS) spread the word that there are new guidelines for recycling in 2016! This applies only to those blue recycling carts found in most alleys. The new rule is NO plastic bags are to be recycled along with the usual glass, aluminum, plastic bottles, cartons, paper, and cardboard. These items can be thrown into the blue carts loosely, just be sure to empty out any containers. Only plastic containers that are marked with the recycling codes of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7 are able to be processed by recycling centers. DSS has added a NEW Recycling Guide to their website that includes a fun interactive quiz to keep everyone informed.


Do you or anyone you know love 19th century history and would like the opportunity to share that interest with others in an interactive turn-of-the century setting? The outdoor museum of Naper Settlement at 523 S. Webster St. is looking for volunteers that would help run activity stations and exhibits. Naper Settlement was established in 1969 by the Naperville Heritage Society and offers a family friendly "living history experience" that is open year round. Teenagers, 9th through 12th graders, and adults are welcome to apply for volunteer Building Interpreter and History Connector positions with upcoming information meetings set for Tuesday, 1/26 7:00pm - 8:30pm, or Saturday, 1/30 10:00am - 11:30am. Contact the Director of Organizational Resources at 630-305-5256 or via email at for more information. Costumes are not required for these volunteer positions.


The Special Service Area collective of business owners and residents, Six Corners Association, is working to salvage historic elements from the former Bank of America building located at 4747 W. Irving Park Rd. before it is demolished and converted into a 26,500 square-foot retail space by Clark Street Development sometime this year. Six Corners Association works to keep the commercial area bordering the neighborhoods of Portage Park, Old Irving Park, and North Side beautiful and thriving. Their intention is to take away elements of the building that had been in existence since the 1920s and put them on display, and to give furnishings to local nonprofit groups. Today at 1:00pm happens to be Six Corners Association's first Commissioners meeting of the year. Would you like to become a member? Individuals, non-profits and businesses are welcome to join.



Since winter has finally come I thought it would be good to share a couple easy slow cooker recipes. Here you will find an easy beef stew and some delicious lemon chicken.

For the stew you need to brown 1 pound of stew meat. Use a heavy pot or frying pan with high sides. Get the pan screaming hot and add canola oil. Fry in batches so as not to crowd the pan. Transfer the meat to the slow cooker. Brown one onion cut in ½ inch pieces till soft. Add I clove garlic minced and cook two minutes. Add to slow cooker. Deglaze the pan with 3 cups beef broth. Add to slow cooker along with ½ teaspoon dried thyme, ¾ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, ½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce and one bay leaf. For vegetables add ½ pound baby carrots (cut in half if large), two stalks celery sliced diagonally and ¼ cup barley. The barley thickens the stew while adding great fiber. Cook on high around 3-4 hours. For the last hour add I can of whole white potatoes, like the carrots cut in half or quarters if large. This is a little cheat but I find these potatoes hold up better and are already cooked so you are just heating them. Along with the potatoes add 2 teaspoons tomato paste to brighten the flavor.

Lemon pepper chicken is just as easy. Mix 1 teaspoon pepper in ¼ cup flour. Dredge 4 skinless chicken breasts that have been cut into thirds. Fry in butter till golden, chicken finishes in the crockpot. Place chicken in a cooking spray coated crockpot and sprinkle with one package of Good Seasons® dressing mix. Pour over ½ cup lemon juice and ½ cup chicken broth mixed. Cook on low for 3-4 hours. Serve over rice or noodles.

Stay warm!




Each year at this time, I like to do an assessment of my technology so that it is protected. I've been using Carbonite for several years. It is a back up system that is always running in the background of your computer. It will back up your files as often as you tell the system. The back up is also stored in the cloud for convenience, which means you can download a file directly from the cloud onto any of your other devices. It's very easy to install and cost effective. They offer both personal and business plans so be sure to pick the right one for your needs. 

This year I have also been looking at CrashPlan by Code 42. This is also an offsite back up provider that has several options you can choose. You can do a free back up to a local drive, another computer, the cloud or all three. It is available for Mac, Windows and Linux. The encryption is 448-bit and can include a private key option, making their security military grade. CrashPlan will use the least amount of CPU power so as to keep your RAM open for other programs. An interesting feature that is provided is called Backup Sets where you can determine how often certain files or folders get backed up.

With computers being hacked more frequently, it's definitely worth the time and effort needed to add this level of security to your documents, photos and music. 


Doesn’t it seem as if January should be over with by now? But it’s not! However, here in Chicago the City is offering some great events to help you take the chill off during a month that’s certainly not in a hurry to leave!!

The Chicago Boat, RV & Strictly Sail Show has cruised into McCormick Place – South (2301 S. Lake Shore Dr.) in the South Loop along with the Midwest’s largest sailing show, “Strictly Sail Chicago,” to bring the best deals on hundreds of boats, RVs, sailboats, marine accessories, camping equipment, fishing gear and travel destinations to its boating lovers and outdoor enthusiasts so they can get a head start on their summer outdoor fun! Features of the show include a Strictly Sail Advanced Seminar Series, a Progressive Insurance Boat School, an RV Handyman Campsite, a Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series and more, while interactive activities for the kids include a life-size pirate ship full of hands-on fun, the “Be a Diver Pool” where kids learn to scuba dive in a heated pool, a Paddle Fest with free paddle sports demos, a Huck Finn trout fishing pond and much more!

The Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival wraps-up this weekend (Saturday – 3:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m. & Sunday – 1:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.) at Stage 773 (1225 W. Belmont Ave.) in the Lakeview neighborhood. Every hour, on the hour, performances take place in each of Stage 773’s four performance spaces averaging 20 shows a night and is now the largest comedy festival of its kind in the world since its debut in 2002! More than 11,000 patrons annually brave Chicago’s winter to take the chill off at this comedy oasis! Remember, laughter is the Best medicine!!

I bet you didn’t know that on January 16, 1919 that Prohibition was signed into law as the Eighteenth Amendment leading to alcohol prohibition and an era of bootleggers, gangsters and scoundrels here in Chicago! If not, then join the ComedySportz Theatre (929 W. Belmont Ave.) in the Lakeview neighborhood this Saturday at 6:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m. or 10:00 p.m. for Prohibition Fortnight as the theatre is transformed into a 1920’s speakeasy with plenty of hooch tastings, bootleggers, the Downtown Chicago Bosses, photo opportunities and more to show you the true meaning of Prohibition! Bottoms Up!!

If you didn’t know about prohibition here in Chicago, perhaps you need to brush-up on the City’s history and there’s no better way than Chicago Authored held at the Chicago History Museum (1601 N. Clark St.) in the Lincoln Park neighborhood on Saturdays & Sundays (through January 31st). This crowd-sourced exhibition is held in their new café-style space where writers of the past and present define the character of Chicago. Explore this collection of works that take a look into the City’s neighborhoods, communities and homes, that discover hidden places you were never aware of, that show you how you’re a part of Chicago’s reflection and much more for a better understanding of the complexity of Chicago!

Finally, the Logan Square Indoor Farmers Market returns to 2755 N. Milwaukee Avenue in the Logan Square neighborhood from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. every Sunday through March 20th.  Food, fun and music take place all winter long at this market with vendors that include Bot Bakery, Gayle’s Best Ever Grilled Cheese, Jake’s Country Meats, Katherine Anne Confections and others! Who needs to wait for warmer weather?

Will You Be “Chilling Off” This Weekend?


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