Chicago Life and Style.

Your Home. Your Life. Your Style

Month: September, 2011

Prasino-just what Division needed!

Several years ago when I first moved to Ukranian Village I became a regular at Vintage Wine Bar on Division. I loved having a nice place to go hang out where there were no big screens, a lovely fireplace and a more lounge-y feel than most of the other spots in the ‘hood.  When Vintage closed I felt their absence.  Prasino has opened up and is the answer to the void-plus some!  First, it’s gigantic. I really, really hope that they continue to generate enough business to support their huge footprint.   I’ve been there for cocktails in the very spacious and stylish bar and I just returned from lunch.

Can I tell you how difficult it is to find a nice restaurant in the neighborhood that’s open for lunch and suitable for casual business meetings? It’s tough! Not only is Prasino open for lunch–they are open for breakfast!! And serve it until 2pm! Oh, and the food is pretty darn tasty. The presentation is awesome, my hot tea arrived on a tray so beautifully laid out I was tempted to take a picture. Oh yeah, one more thing–they focus on sustainable food and practices, it just keeps getting better and better!  Join me in supporting this awesome venue, I want it to stick around so I can become a regular! 🙂

From their website:

“breakfast, lunch and dinner selections celebrate artisanal flavors with a nod to local growers. grilled and braised meats, ocean-friendly fare & organic produce are menu features.

global-influenced beer, wine & spirits are offered and “fresco at prasino” – organic espresso-juice-smoothie bars located within each cafe – offer delicious and healthy “on-the-go” tastes.

prasino’s committment to sustainability is incorporated in each cafe’s eco-chic design. tabletops and floors incorporate reclaimed wood and light fixtures are crafted from recycled wine bottles and corrugated cardboard boxes. food is prepared in kitchens designed to reduce energy and water use, to incorporate recycling, and eco-friendly cleaning products.”

Design Harvest Next Weekend

One of my favorite fests of the year is coming up next weekend on Grand Ave between Wood and Damen. I love Design Harvest because I can pretend it’s research for work and not just fun! It’s from 11-8pm on Saturday and Sunday and it features all kinds of vendors from the home design industry. A really fun, unique event.  If you ever watch any show on HGTV, you  have to come to this fest!

Wildlife in Chicago and the fall equinox

The equinox was this morning around 4am.   That means that our days are now filled with more darkness than light. Sounds pretty melodramatic, huh? The upside? Well, that wonderful brisk fall air, crunchy leaves beneath your feet and my favorite–fireplace season! I had my first fire last night in honor of the equinox. 

The hours of darkness and light have a much less powerful affect here in the city than they do in more rural areas.  My grandpa lived on a farm in Culver, IN and before the Chicago corporations discovered the awesome lake at the end of his road, there were very very few electric lights to be seen for miles.  Darkness at the Farm (yes, it’s a place that warrants a capital “F” ) meant that you literally could not distinguish the sky from the earth. When the lightening bugs were out in the fields, their twinkling lights melded with the stars and I would literally get dizzy, having lots all bearings of what was up and what was down.

Although I loved the Farm-a lot-I am a city girl all the way.  Some neighbors down the street from me have been making a dedicated effort to leave all sorts of fancy bird seed and suet out in the hopes of attracting something a little more exotic than the odd pigeon and sparrow. This year, I can attest to their success.  I have rounded the corner several times while walking my dog and noticed immediately the song-like chirping of birds. Not city bird chirping, much more musical sounding. Since I grew up with parents that did a bit of bird feeding and watching I was able to recognize immediately a colony of gold finches. Turns out they mate later than most birds, and this is prime-time, which explains all the carrying on I hear on my walks.

Last night I saw some sort of hawk on the way to dinner at Roots on Chicago Ave. I hope no one will think less of me if the first thought that ran through my mind was–“hey, do hawks eat noisy gold finches?” I’m sure everyone else would be delighted to think of the rodents that they much more likely eat and I’m all for ridding the alley’s of rats and mice, it’s just they I’ve never been woken up from my bed by a rodent in the alley. I can’t say the same about our avian friends. In fact, our neighborhood seems to be full of diverse bird and other wildlife. In addition to the finches and hawk, I regularly see blue jays, cardinals, robins, doves and of course the usual sparrows and pigeons.  Just the other day I was sitting on my back deck at twilight and saw quite a large raccoon amble down the alley and scale a fence. I really didn’t think raccoons hung out in neighborhoods as dense as this but apparently nature finds a way. And I think that’s wonderful. As long as it stays outside and tries to keep it down when I’m sleeping. 🙂

Parking in Chicago

How many parking tickets have you had?  I’ve had a few. Ok, maybe a few more than a few. It’s a cost of doing business for me, there is no way I can drive around the city all day every day and not get caught now and then.  In fact, I got a ticket for sitting in my car with a client for 5 minutes in a no-standing zone—the cop didn’t even knock on the window and give me the ticket, she just mailed it after the fact. Ooo, that one really pissed me off.

But, I digress.  If you are buying a property in the city parking should be a consideration.  It may be that you don’t have a car now; it may be that you are determined never to have a car and kudos to you if that’s the case. However, if you are buying – or selling- a property in the city, parking is going to come into the picture.  When I have a listing that doesn’t have owned parking one of the first things I research are parking options—how much does it cost in the building if there is a garage, what are the other close options and how much are they?  A lot of people do still own cars—or at least want a space so that guests have somewhere to park when they visit.

One of the major selling points of my condo is that I have two tandem spaces.  In order to get two spaces, we had to forgo building a garage as the additional structure and setback would have cut into the space too much to fit two cars.  I use my two spaces ALL the time.  The truth is, there are only a few days each year that the snow is heavy enough that I really need to shovel my car out and the benefit of having the two spaces FAR outweighs that minor inconvenience.

Anywhere near the loop parking spaces go for about $30k each, varying of course depending on the location.  That’s a big difference. Likewise, NOT having a parking space attached can keep someone from making an offer on a place. Having it and not needing it is rarely the same level of turnoff. Most spaces are deeded separately so you can usually sell them separately if you need to.  Parking in the city is tough and having a space is a very valuable feature for any property—keep it in mind when you are pricing your home, or making an offer on one.

A great resource to help find spaces/garages etc. is It’s a resource both for commercial garages and parking spaces for sale/rent on a monthly basis.  I happen to be heading to a networking event today and just used it to decide where I’m going to park. MUCH less stressful than driving around the loop looping for the best deal.  So, even if you aren’t looking to buy or sell a spot, take advantage of one more tool available to make your life easier! Happy parking!

County Fair is this weekend!

I have lived in places that boasted large and active 4-H clubs. Really, I have.  One of my favorite things about living in places like that are the county fairs every year.  Well, now we can enjoy the county fair minus the country and manure!  The Garfield Park Conservatory hosts a county fair every year and it really and truly is an awesome event.  There is live music, great food, locally grown produce/products, pony rides and other various assorted farm animals for petting and other stuff. Last year my daughter I and I so the single cutest baby potbellied pig that has ever lived. Honest, the cutest.

The event has the usual face painting and other entertainments, but unlike your run of the mill event, the conservatory has wonderful, unique activities like an origami station and instead of a sandbox, there are wheel barrows full of corn kernels to play in.  Really, I can’t say enough about it, it’s just so cool. It may be our favorite event of the year. The fair is Saturday from 11-4.  It’s $5 for anyone older than 3 and the proceeds support the conservatory which is still suffering hugely from the hail storm that destroyed so much of the glass buildings.

If you haven’t had enough fun by Sunday, stop by St. Mary’s Oktoberfest–three bouncy castles and a beer garden with big screens to watch the game. 1810 N Hermitage, 12-6.  I’ll be minding the kids at the bouncy castles from 12-2!