Springing into Art

Springing into Art

April truly marks that Spring has arrived, and with many becoming vaccinated they are itching to get out and go to a safe event. Luckily, April marks a huge swath of art events opening up in the Chicago area, giving you tons of safely planned events that you can attend with dates or friends! Read on to see some events that have caught our eyes!

Art Institute of Chicago – Monet and Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago always has exciting exhibits, which right now includes the vivid Bisa Butler: Portraits exhibition and the gorgeous Cosmoscapes: Ink Paintings by Tai Xiangzhou. Most recently, they have opened the exhibition Monet and Chicago, running through June 14th. Chicago has a long-running history with the artist Monet, and this beautiful collection explores that relationship. If you are interested in this unique history and/or Impressionist art, this is a must-see event! 

Monet and Chicago

Art on the MART

This beautiful outdoor event is continuing this year, and ties into our last submission! While they have a few projects they are implementing this year, they are collaborating with the Art Institute of Chicago to project iconic pieces by Monet like Water Lilies and Stacks of Wheat on theMART, which will be paired with “Clair de Lune” by Claude Debussy. In addition, they are doing a collaboration with the institute on their exhibition with Bisa Butler as well! Find out more here!

Art Mart

The Womanish Experience

Womanish is a unique installation within a 40,000 square foot space that celebrates and examines the feminine perspective. This is an interactive space that lets you explore beautifully designed spaces that also make you think. This is a culturally-inclusive and gender non-conforming experience that challenges you to really think about the intersections of gender and race. Look here for more details!

The Womanish Experience

WNDR Museum

The WNDR Museum is reopening with new safety measures so that you can once again experience their interactive exhibitions! These installations are thought-provoking and inspiring, allowing you to physically experience the space in a unique way. Their new opening will include 20+ totally new touchless installations to allow for safe art experiences, including pieces from artists like Keith Haring, Barbara Kruger, and Alex Israel. To buy tickets and learn more, check out the WNDR Museum website!

WNDR Museum

Steppenwolf NOW

Looking to stay home, or looking for a performance? The Steppenwolf NOW virtual stage has six stories of different length and style that were thoughtfully crafted for a virtual experience. This includes pieces such as Wally World (a two-act radio play), Duchess! Duchess! Duchess! (a filmed play), and I am Not your Perfect Mexican Daughter (an audio adaptation). Through their virtual membership you can watch all Steppenwolf NOW productions anytime from any device through August 31! Look here for more information.

Steppenwolf NOW

Stay safe while getting inspired! To stay updated on the latest and most accurate information related to COVID-19, please refer to https://www.cdc.gov/

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Chicago Restaurant Week 2021

From March 19th – April 4th is Chicago’s Restaurant Week! During this special time of year, 250+ eateries are open for you to explore, many showcasing special deals and menus for you to try. All restaurants are offering multi-course meals priced at $25 for brunch/lunch, and options between $39 and $55 for dinner menus. To accommodate the special circumstances this year, all locations have listed if they offer indoor, outdoor, delivery, and/or takeout options so you can dine whichever way is most comfortable for you! Take a look at all of the restaurants here and make your reservation, or pick from our list of suggested stops!

Avec

We love this Mediterranean-inspired location which has seen great success under Chef Perry Hendrix the James Beard award-winning Chef Paul Kahan. They have two different options for you – first is their Avec River North location offering a delicious menu including their well-known chorizo-stuffed medjool dates with bacon and piquillo pepper-tomato sauce! The menu also includes olives, ciabatta, brussels sprouts, paella and confit chicken with escargot sausage and mussels, and a raspberry rose tart. For this location there are only dine-in options, but for those of you looking to do delivery or take out so you can find a comfy outdoor spot to dine with your dates or friends, you can look not far to the Avec West Loop location for the same menu! Find more information here.

Avec

 

Ina Mae Tavern & Packaged Goods

Owned by the Pioneer Tavern Group and lead by Executive Chef Brian Jupiter, Ina Mae Tavern is a refreshing taste of New Orleans right to Bucktown. You have options with this menu including items like fried catfish or blackened shrimp with cheese grits. Ending this meal with praline beignets is perfection, and we highly recommend you give this place a try. Ina Mae Tavern & Packaged Goods is offering indoor and outdoor seating as well as takeout or delivery, letting you and your group celebrate this food together in whatever way is most comfortable!

Ina Mae Tavern

 

Monteverde

Looking for something a little bit romantic for your dinner? Monteverde in the West Loop run by Top Chef alum Sarah Gruenberg is absolutely the place to go. While this restaurant is usually a place fostering the Italian shared-dish dining, it’s four-course family-style menu will bring that experience straight to your home. This menu includes a salad, pasta course, main course, and dessert, almost all of which come with multiple options including vegetarian and gluten-free alternatives. Find out more here!

Regardless of which restaurant you choose to celebrate, remember there are many safe ways you can enjoy these meals with others safely. Whether picking up take out and meeting up at a park or enjoying these meals over video calls together, remember to do whatever feels safe for you and to follow suggested guidelines!

Monteverde

 

Stay safe while trying out these fun local restaurants! To stay updated on the latest and most accurate information related to COVID-19, please refer to https://www.cdc.gov/

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Spring Date Ideas

It’s Almost March: Spring Date Ideas in Chicago

March arriving also signals the beginning of a season change! As we start feeling temperatures warming up along with vaccines rolling out in larger numbers, many of us are restless to get outside. Luckily, there are a handful of things starting up that will help you hold out until those summer temperatures in the area, read on for some Spring date ideas!

Farmers’ Markets

Spring means the beginning of amazing farmers markets throughout the city. While the traditional Maxwell Street Market will remain closed for now, there are other options for still enjoying fresh, local greens. Green City Market has online delivery or curbside pickup so that you can order the delicious produce right to your home. Plant Chicago is also offering delivery, CSA, and pickup options so that you can enjoy your favorite local vendors safely. Plan pickups or deliveries with your friends and share the great recipes you come up with from your local ingredients!

Spring date ideas
Spring date ideas in chicago

Plant Nursery Visit/Workshops

The wave of home DIY interest has led many of us to want to get our hands back into the soil as well. While online plant ordering has boomed over the pandemic, there are many local options where you don’t have to worry about your plant getting too shocked through shipping. Garden centers like Gethsemane are still open for browsing and finding your next houseplant. Get a (small) group together to go grab some new green friends to start off the new season! If you aren’t comfortable with going out, many centers like City Grange are allowing for curbside pickup or delivery. They also are offering Zoom “Ask the Expert” consultations, allowing you to plan landscape design, get help with houseplants, or even plot out some edible gardens!

Looking for greenery-based events? The Great Grow Along is a three-day virtual garden festival that will bring you together with speakers, workshops, Q&A sessions, and more on topics like edible gardening, urban gardening, houseplants, and composting! Chicago Botanic Garden also is hosting online horticultural classes during March on fun topics like beekeeping and indoor farming for health and wellness.

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Chicago Theatre Week

This awesome week of local theatre has already kicked off, but there is still plenty to catch! Going through March 7th, you can experience virtual shows right from home from many local theatres! Try a new company with friends virtually, and hold a discussion afterward on your experiences. There are over 100 company options that you can see on the event’s website, browse and find something that would make a great date night!

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Stay safe while celebrating the Spring weather! To stay updated on the latest and most accurate information related to COVID-19, please refer to https://www.cdc.gov/

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Valentines Day

Valentine’s Day 2021: Day Events in Chicago

Valentine’s day is usually a great day to celebrate with partners or friends and to really celebrate the positive relationships in your life. Normally this means going out to a fancy special dinner or going out for champagne cocktails, however, this year we will have to get creative. Luckily, there are many ways you can still safely enjoy this special holiday, read on for some ideas!

Enjoy a Romantic Dinner

Many restaurants have taken on the challenge of the pandemic and adjusted to make safe places for people to still safely eat-out. To achieve this, many restaurants have heated their outdoor patios, or allowed for socially-distanced reservations. For example, Lush Wine & Spirits has reservations for a special Valentine’s Day dinner where you can cozy up next to a fire on their patio. BOKA has a seven-course tasting menu under their romantic covered patio. Not comfortable with dining in public yet? That is perfectly okay, many of these restaurants allow for take-home versions of these special meals as well. For instance, Le Colonial has a special three-course take-home dinner with sparkling Cuvee, glasses, candles, and roses included! Wow!

Go on an Outside Stroll

If you aren’t afraid to bundle up, there are tons of beautiful walks this time of year. Visit the Navy Pier or go on a walk along the river. Maggie Daley Park not only is beautiful but has rentable skates this time of year with a beautiful skating course. The Chicago Lakefront trail is always a great destination, or plan a day of looking at beautiful murals in places like the Red Line path in Rogers Park. 

Experience a Show

While it isn’t quite safe enough yet for normal theater experiences, there are plenty of drive-in or virtual options so you can still enjoy a show together with loved ones. For example, ChiTown Movies hosts a great drive-in movie experience, and even will let you order food directly to your car. They have a host of romantic movies like Lady and the Tramp and The Notebook playing around Valentine’s Day as well! Other local shows are scheduled for online shows like the Porchlight Music Theatre, the Laugh Factory, and The Neo-Futurist Theater. These at-home options can be enjoyed with those in your household or with friends over Zoom! They also pair great with a take-home dinner option. 

When deciding how you are going to enjoy Valentine’s Day, stay safe! To stay updated on the latest and most accurate information related to COVID-19, please refer to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

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Start 2021 with Personal Growth

New Year’s Resolutions: Start 2021 with Personal Growth

It’s a new year, and many of us are hoping for a better year than 2020. A lot of our new year’s resolutions look a bit different this year, and they may be a bit harder to commit to.

Many of us also don’t have the energy or conviction to put the same amount of effort into our goals due to fatigue and stress. Luckily, there are some fun ways you can build yourself up and focus on bettering yourself with friends this year!

Online Courses

Many colleges and sites are still offering free or discounted online courses. While this was a popular way to spend time during the pandemic, now is a great time to team up with others for accountability!

To make things even more fun, you can schedule study groups or discussion Zoom meetings to really reflect on what you are learning and share diverse opinions. Some of the places offering free online courses are Coursera, Harvard University, Skillshare, and edX. Coursera even offers a list of free online courses you can finish in a day! Note that if you want a certificate of completion, there often is a fee.

Online courses

Virtual Workout Classes

It is pretty common for people to want to hit the gym more often for their new year’s resolution. As we continue to adapt to the ever-changing circumstances related to the pandemic, some things like staying active have been especially hard.

Luckily, a few solutions have been implemented to work around this, one being virtual workout classes! By teaming up with others to encourage each other, you can start a habit that will last far beyond these days at home. Many online programs have gained popularity, such as Yoga with Adriene if you are looking to increase your flexibility and balance.

If you want something fun to boost your mood and your heart rate, try a free online class video course like Move With Colour. There are also subscription-based services like All Out Studio, which gives you great workouts in different categories like no-equipment classes, strength-training, HIIT, and Pilates!

Virtual Workout Classes

Social Self-Care

While working out, eating healthier, and learning something new are all common goals that we make at the beginning of a new year, this year is a bit different. Stress is high, there is a lot of emotional pressure on us, and taking on something new can seem overwhelming.

If things have been hard for you and those in your circle, consider setting up regular self-care nights. Break out the Zoom, facemasks, cocktails, and wine to kick back and put time specifically aside to decompress. There are many ways you can approach this; it completely depends on what will be the most healing for your group. Is having a spa-day what relaxes you the most? Then spend time every other week getting on a call with your nail polish and facemasks while you chat.

If that doesn’t sound appealing, try doing group meditation or working through things during group writing time with journaling or poetry.

Social Self-Care

While enjoying these activities with your circle, ensure you stay safe. To stay updated on the latest and most accurate information related to COVID-19, please refer to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

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Resilience: The Secret Upside to 2020

Resilience: The Secret Upside to 2020

The good news about the dumpster fire that was 2020 is that we’ve got nowhere to go but up in 2021. At least, that’s what we’re telling ourselves. 

But as the new year begins, we think it’s time for some introspection and some virtual pats on the back. The catastrophic year is finally over, and you’ve lived to tell the tale. And in the process, you’ve become more resilient.

That’s amazing.

And it’s something that you shouldn’t take for granted. Because it turns out, resilience is a trait that is developed, not inherited. 

According to this 2012 article from the American Psychological Association (APA), resilience is born of a combination of thoughts and actions that anyone can learn. And you can strengthen your ability to weather difficulty by:

  • building and maintaining strong connections,
  • taking care of yourself,
  • finding a motivating purpose, 
  • staying positive, and
  • seeking professional help if and when you need it.

We were pretty gratified to read this list, because most of these bullet points are things we’ve already talked about on our blog throughout 2020. We have tried to bring you tiny rays of hope and sunshine through our posts by talking about socializing remotely, the importance of self-care, staying sane by helping others, and challenging yourself to practice gratitude

It turns out, these ideas aren’t just for getting you through a hard day or week.  They actually prime you to build resilience for the long-term.

Building resilience is like building a muscle. It requires pain, sweat and time, and the process of getting there can be a drag. But in the end, it makes you stronger and more powerful. And that’s something that will serve us all well, in 2021 and beyond.

Here’s to a positive and productive new year wherein each of us becomes stronger and more resilient. Happy New Year!

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Winter is Here

Winter is Here: 3 In-Person & 3 Virtual Ways to Celebrate the Season Responsibly This Year

In-Person Ideas

Though winter this year may feel a bit unique, there are many ways you can still gather safely with friends to enjoy this chilly season. Read on for a few ideas on how to celebrate this wonderful time of year!

Ice Skating

Bundling up and going ice skating is a romantic and exciting way to stay active during the winter months. There are plenty of outdoor rinks you can visit that offer all of the equipment you will need, just ensure that you wear warm gear so you don’t get too chilly – we recommend mittens, a hat, ear muffs and pants that can safely be tucked into your ice skates. Make sure to do some research into the ice rink you are going to, as some require you to reserve tickets. Sometimes these places have events as well, like live DJs or cafes serving warm drinks!

Ice Skating

Volunteer

This is the season for giving, which means that volunteering is a great way to gather with others while also contributing to your community. There are many places you can go to provide aid, if your group has a particular passion try to find something related to that! Otherwise, some popular options include going and cleaning your favorite paths or parks, contributing your time at outdoor soup kitchens or grocery distribution sites, or walking dogs from an animal shelter!

Volunteer

Snowshoeing

Many friends and couples have taken to walking to socialize. With the winter months coming, you can mix this up by renting some snowshoes to traverse your favorite trails! Usually, wherever you rent your shoes from, you can get great advice on the most scenic local trails. Plot out a path with your friends or partner, and then get out and chat on the way to your destination! Wherever you end up, we recommend choosing a location with warm drinks to serve as a reward for getting out and active during the cold months! To add to the romance, try a shorter trail at night under the stars!

Snowshoeing

Virtual Ideas

The holidays are around the corner, and while you may be celebrating differently this year, there are many ways to still spend time with those you love. It is important to stay social during these times to keep from feeling isolated, and to do so safely. Whether on a double-date or socially-distancing with family, here are some ideas to help you stay connected over the holidays.

Paint & Warm Drinks on Zoom

Everyone loves paint & wine activities, try this twist on the classic to warm up during these chilly months! First order the painting supplies or pick them up from your local craft store – you can also try another artistic medium if you would prefer! Then, grab your drinks and find a video on Youtube to paint along with as a group on a video chat platform like Zoom! This can be an alcoholic activity or not depending on your preferences, just switch up the warm drink ideas. Some of our favorites include hot chocolate, hot toddies, hot apple cider, or mulled wine. This activity is bound to not only keep you warm but will be a fun misadventure as you try to follow the paint lesson with your loved ones.

Drinks

Build Gingerbread Houses

Gingerbread houses are commonly made together as a family, why not make it a competition amongst your friends? Together, put together a budget and rules for your gingerbread houses. Then, set a time to show them all off via video chat and spend the night rating them based on different categories like Most Creative and Most Silly. This is a great way for couples to compete against their friends, and brings some traditional holiday activities into a time where many traditions are having to be skipped!

Gingerbread Houses

Relax & Think Ahead

Does this holiday season have you feeling a bit down? There is nothing wrong with being aware of your feelings during this hard time. A great way to bond with your partner and with friends is to find ways to relax together. There are many online resources for group guided meditations – it is a great idea to set aside time to sit and reflect with others to make it a weekly or monthly tradition. You also can start looking forward to what you want to do once things are back to normal. Plan a trip together, or talk about the dates you want to go on in the future! This gives you something to look forward to and will help lighten your mood.

Relax

While enjoying the holiday season with loved ones, ensure you stay safe. To stay updated on the latest and most accurate information related to COVID-19, please refer to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

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Chicago Holidays 2020

Chicago Holidays 2020: COVID-19 Edition

Chicago Holidays 2020

Well, guys, unlike COVID, the year is officially coming to an end. Still, that will not put a damper on the season, and certainly not if we can help it. Chicago is still one of the most magical places to be in during the holiday season. So before you decide to go full bah-humbug on the holidays, check out our guide on holidays in Chicago–COVID style.

Give

There is no denying this has been a tough year for everyone. Fortunately, some of us have been spared in more ways than one, and if there has ever been a time to give back- it is now.

Check in with your local food banks and donation centers this year. Really show up for a family member in need or just donate to your favorite charity. The more holiday spirit we can spread around, the more we can restore faith in humanity this season.

Visit a Beautiful Restaurant

Hear us out. If you’re feeling particularly bummed about missing out on all the holiday gatherings, now is the perfect time to splurge on a nice night out with your partner.

Some of the most romantic restaurants in Chicago, like Oriole, Joe’s Seafood, or goosefoot, are now taking reservations and have strict safety measures in place for fine dining. You get to dress up, be around other humans, and feel inspired and grateful for making it through the year. Go ahead- celebrate!

(make sure to call ahead to get current information on any new curfews or guidelines)

Outdoor Activities

If you’re ready to venture out, keep an eye out for our beloved holiday traditions like the Zoo Lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo. The Ice Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park or check out Christmas Around the World at the museum of science & Industry.

All of which are scheduled to go on this year with some additional guidelines in place.

Join the Cyber Experience on Some of Your Favorites

If you’re braving the rest of the year indoors, then worry not. There are still plenty of cyber activities available to enjoy the season. This year, the Goodman Theatre is gifting us the audio version of A Christmas Carol the entire month of December.

Also joining the list is the beloved Christkindmarket event. It will feature an online marketplace of all your holiday favorites. The virtual store is scheduled to go live on November 1st and run through the end of the year.

And don’t forget about Chicago’s favorite virtual tours, ready to take you all around Chicago with just a click.

There you have it. We hope this makes your holiday season a bit more bearable. Don’t forget to be safe and keep up with updates. Hang in there guys, we’re all in this together!

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3 Places to Fall in Love With This Fall Season in Chicago

Fallin’ in Love: 3 Places to Fall in Love With This Fall Season in Chicago

If you’ve blinked anytime during the last eight months, then let us officially welcome you to fall.

We might be biased, but Autumn in Chicago might just be one of the most beautiful things you will ever experience.

With its beautiful crisp fall foliage, envious weather, and increasingly growing list of things to do- there’s nowhere else we’d like to spend this season. The best part is- even a global pandemic can’t get in the way of enjoying this beautiful time of year.

If you’re worried that this season is canceled too, worry not- mother nature has got your back. Lucky for us (at least here in Chicago) that some of the best things about Fall are its stunning colors, heart-warming flavors, and seasonal décor- and not even the most controversial of events can cancel them.

 If you’re wondering where exactly these beautiful places, we speak of exist, read along to see some of our favorites. Enjoy!

Taking a walk from the Botanic Garden’s visitor center to the Conservation Science Center– because nothing feeds the soul and helps you feel the enchantment of the season like a mix of colorful perennials and fiery Japanese maples.

 A nice (short) road trip to Morton Arboretum. Nature amiright? This beautiful fairytale-like land is less than an hour’s drive away but feels like you’ve stepped into a new world. Featuring over 4,000 [type] of tress, we can almost guarantee you will leave this place feeling recharged and inspired- it also makes for a beautiful romantic getaway.

 The LaBagh Woods– Listen, if being outdoors is your cup of tea, you’re going to want to grab a couple of friends and head over the banks of the Chicago River’s North Branch to this forest preserve. With over 35 miles of trails, you can hike your way up to stunning oaks, maples, and cottonwoods. Bonus points for packing some apple cider and having the most Instagrammable autumn picnic ever.

These are just some of our favorites, but they are a mere dent on all that Chicago has to offer this Fall. Don’t be afraid to feel and (spread) the season’s spirit around. It’s about time we all start feeling good around here.

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Entering Autumn: 3 Ways to Safely Enjoy Fall Outdoors This Year

While social distancing and safe practices are still in effect, there are still many traditional ways we can celebrate fall safely with others. Read ahead for a few ideas to get into the fall spirit!

Visit an Orchard

Apple orchards are a great way to enjoy the season. These locations will let you pick apples for any of your fall cooking projects, or just eat the fresh fruit as is! We recommend using sweet varieties for eating plain, and more sour varieties for cooking. While this is a fun activity, it also supports local farms who may be struggling currently. Many orchards also have hot cider and other apple treats like donuts or pie for you to enjoy as you traverse the orchard. Nothing is better than wrapping your hands around some warm cider in the cooler months.

Entering Autumn

Pick Pumpkins

Pumpkin patches are a tradition for many, you can pick your fall and Halloween decor by hand whether you are looking for the perfect carving pumpkin or gourds to place around the house. This is also a great time to disconnect from technology for a while, something many of us struggle with during these months stuck at home. Once done picking out your items, you can even plan a carving event with your friends! If your group is more competitive, make a themed competition out of it and vote on your favorites. Some category suggestions are Most Scary, Silliest, and Best Technique!

Punkins

Take a Walk When the Leaves are at their Peak

Nothing beats talking a lovely walk bundled up against the brisk weather under beautiful changing fall leaves. Every year is a bit different for when it is best to go, and this time is different for every state, make sure to do your research! Often for Chicago it is in late October or early November. A few great Chicago locations to view the leaves are the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Morton Arboretum, Garfield Park Conservatory, and Winnemac Park.

Regardless of how you celebrate fall, make sure to do so safely. To stay updated on the latest and most accurate information related to COVID-19, please refer to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

 

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