FOUR NEARBY PUBLIC ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS OFFER FINE ARTS, SCIENCE FOR VARIETY OF TALENTS

Every school day morning around 7:15 or so, I see kids walking with their parents, older siblings, or other family members south on Wolcott Avenue toward James B. McPherson Elementary School. In most all types of weather, unless the wind chill is low enough, these kids walk carefully through the snow and ice to further their education.

James B. McPherson Elementary School on the corner of Lawrence and Wolcott avenues is celebrating its 10th year as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School for grades six through eight, according to the school’s website. It also has plans to adopt an IB Primary Years Program. The IB program seeks to create a community of lifelong learners.

Other public schools are also nearby.

Located at 4332 N. Paulina St., Ravenswood Elementary School is a fine and performing arts magnet school with 524 students. It is designated as being in “good standing” by the Chicago Public Schools system for its pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade program.

Alexander Graham Bell Elementary School, located in North Center at 3730 N. Oakley Ave., serves 1,042 students in grades kindergarten through eighth-grade who live in the attendance district; gifted students in grades 1-8; and a specialized program for deaf students. It is designated as being in “good standing” by Chicago Public Schools.

James G. Blaine Elementary School, located at 1420 W. Grace St., is a fine arts magnet school. It partners with the Chicago Community Trust, Chicago Cubs, Edelman Public Relations, Looking Glass Theater, Dance Art, the Field Museum, and the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Chicago Magazine ranked Blaine Elementary as No. 13 on its “Best Schools in Chicago & Suburbs” 2012 list.

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Victoria Marty has written for newspapers and magazines for more than 15 years and recently moved to the Lincoln Square, Chicago area. A frequent runner who loves learning and exploring new places, she has perfected the art of getting lost while simultaneously finding unique landmarks, boutiques and out-of-the-way nooks worth writing about. Her blogs are geared toward the newly transplanted who want to learn as much about Chicago as they can, as quickly as possible.

WHAT, A BLIZZARD? THEN TAKE THE EL

Chicago Blizzard? Take the LWhat do most people do in the middle of a Chicago blizzard? They stay home. What did I do? I took the El to the Art Institute of Chicago.

It’s not like I hadn’t been to the Art Institute before. I’ve been there many times, both during college and afterwards. But ever since I moved back to Chicago in mid-December 2014, I’d wanted to visit it again. That’s why I braved roughly a foot of snow recently to walk from my condo in Ravenswood/Lincoln Square to the Brown Line stop before hopping off at the Adams/Wabash stop to get to the museum. Snowflakes and wind hit me in the face as I crossed Michigan Avenue, but once inside the Art Institute, I was rewarded with short lines and relatively empty exhibition rooms. Plus, nothing beats a train ride through the city on a near-empty train as snow flurries cover the air around me.

So just how practical is having the El stop so close to me? Well, not only do I not have to worry about parking my car, I also don’t have to pay parking fees. And during a snowstorm, not having to worry about a possible accident is even better. Even more rewarding for someone soaking in every aspect of the city: The El gives me access to advertisements I wouldn’t ordinarily know anything about, like the Fight for Air Climb organized by the American Lung Association and scheduled for March 8 at the Presidential Towers, or the Avon 39: The Walk to End Breast Cancer, set for June 6-7 here in Chicago.

Worried about standing out on a windy train platform in the middle of February? I won’t lie; it IS cold out there. This is Chicago, after all. But the Damen stop has a button you can push to activate a heat lamp to help you feel just a little bit warmer. Plus, the trains aren’t that far apart. And when someone has a question — “Am I on the right train? What’s the express train?” — most people are kind and patient enough to give them the correct answer.

I’ve noticed the same of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) workers, who are happy to answer questions and give directions as to the best exits to take depending on your favored destination. Meanwhile, the ticket machines rely on credit cards and are easy to use, as are the turnstiles. I haven’t had any problems at all.

And you can’t beat how reliable the CTA website and Google are in directing you to your destination. It’s just 49 minutes from my condo to the museum if I take the El, factoring in waiting for the train and walking from my stop to the museum. How’s that for service?

In the meantime, traveling on the El gives you visual access to the city you wouldn’t ordinarily have from a car or a bus. Apartment buildings, small businesses and other real estate swing on by, and the El slows as it turns to follow the Downtown Loop. The train’s large windows make it impossible for you not to notice the heights, the writings on the walls, the landscapes that’d escape mention any other way. For an intimate look at Chicago, you just can’t beat the El.

VGrabnerVictoria Marty has written for newspapers and magazines for more than 15 years and recently moved to the Lincoln Square, Chicago area. A frequent runner who loves learning and exploring new places, she has perfected the art of getting lost while simultaneously finding unique landmarks, boutiques and out-of-the-way nooks worth writing about. Her blogs are geared toward the newly transplanted who want to learn as much about Chicago as they can, as quickly as possible.

CHICAGO RAVENSWOOD NEIGHBORHOOD GEMS

2015 01 31 Lill StreetWhen the cold weather hits, it’s natural to want to huddle indoors. That’s also the perfect time to head to Lillstreet Art Center, a former gear factory at the corner of Ravenswood and Montrose avenues in Ravenswood.

Founded in 1975, Lillstreet Art Center offers a friendly community of artists and students working together to promote and inspire individual artistic growth. According to the center’s website, the center supports the arts through its education program, artists residencies, gallery exhibitions and retail sales opportunities, studio rentals, and arts-based professional development.

Those interested in taking classes in first-time knitting and yoga, intuitive collage, and sashiko stitching can do so at Lillstreet Loft, just a few steps north of the art center, January through March. Additionally, the Drawing & Painting Studios at 4410 N. Ravenswood Ave. offer drawing and painting in the classical tradition.

But residents can also take classes in ceramics, metalsmithing and jewelry, printmaking, textiles, glass, and digital arts & photography.

Have an important event to go to but don’t want to leave your dog alone in your condo, house or apartment? Consider bringing your four-legged best friend to Urban Pooch 2015 01 31 Urban PoochCanine Life Center at 4501 N. Ravenswood Ave., just down the street from the Lillstreet Art Center.

If you’re too busy to bring Fido to the store, no worries — Urban Pooch can pick him up! Playtime Express Pickup and Drop-off Service is offered every day of the week for only $7 each way.

Meanwhile, Urban Pooch also offers a line of canine food and treats, obedience training classes, and clothing for dogs who, like humans, struggle to stay warm in this cold, snowy weather. The store was mentioned in a CBS 2 TV Chicago clip about that very subject.

VGrabner

Victoria Marty has written for newspapers and magazines for more than 15 years and recently moved to the Lincoln Square, Chicago area. A frequent runner who loves learning and exploring new places, she has perfected the art of getting lost while simultaneously finding unique landmarks, boutiques and out-of-the-way nooks worth writing about. Her blogs are geared toward the newly transplanted who want to learn as much about Chicago as they can, as quickly as possible.

DOGS NEED TIME TO ADJUST TO A MOVE TOO

AshbyI may be adjusting well to living in Chicago, but my dog is having a tough time. If there were a poster dog for separation anxiety, my shepherd-mix would be it. Ashby is normally calm and quiet when I’m near her. But when I step out to run errands without her, she turns into a bundle of nerves and begins to bark incessantly.

First, I tried a Thundershirt at Jameson Loves Danger in Andersonville. A tight-fitting shirt that wraps around a dog’s torso, the Thundershirt essentially swaddles canines, calming them and making them feel more safe and secure. The employees at Jameson Loves Danger were very nice and helpful; they were gentle and kind with Ashby, who stood quietly while one employee wrapped the Thundershirt around her chest. The Thundershirt was somewhat successful; it made Ashby a bit more reserved. However, when I was gone for two hours later that night for a community meeting, Ashby again barked continuously.

I needed a quick and effective solution. It came in a barking collar that I bought at PetCo Animal Supplies, in Lakeview. For about $99, my super alert and intelligent shelter dog learned rather quickly that what was allowed in my house in Southern Indiana is far from acceptable in a Chicago condo complex.

After just one bark, the collar emits a warning sound. Two barks, and Ashby gets a mild shock. Three barks in a row, and she gets an even bigger shock. While this method isn’t ideal — I don’t want Ashby to be hurt in any way — it’s effective. What’s more, Ashby is now essentially monitoring herself. By following me around closely, she’s still able to communicate that she’s hungry or needs to go out. And she’s still able to get off one or two barks when she hears something she thinks is odd or threatening. But all in all, Ashby is a much better condo citizen now.

VGrabnerVictoria Marty has written for newspapers and magazines for more than 15 years and recently moved to the Lincoln Square, Chicago area. A frequent runner who loves learning and exploring new places, she has perfected the art of getting lost while simultaneously finding unique landmarks, boutiques and out-of-the-way nooks worth writing about. Her blogs are geared toward the newly transplanted who want to learn as much about Chicago as they can, as quickly as possible.

CHICAGO’S NORTH SIDE HAS GREEN SPACES, BLEND OF BUSINESS AND CULTURAL OPTIONS

Chicago BrauhausI’m always amazed by Chicago’s support of free green space for runners, walkers and bicyclists. Before moving here permanently, I visited the city multiple times to get a feel for what it had to offer. Running along Lake Michigan is easily one of my favorite activities here.

On my first full day in my new condo, I ran to Lake Michigan and then turned south to pass Sydney R. Marovitz Golf Course before turning back around again. The views of the lake and of all the green space in Lincoln Park make it a worthwhile run even in misty, 45-degree weather. But another great thing about running is that I get to explore the area closer to my new home.

Within a mile or two of my condo, in the neighborhoods of Andersonville, Ravenswood and Lincoln Square, I have access to an incredible number of mixed-use local businesses and restaurants. These include Andersonville Hardware, Old Town School of Folk Music, Dolce Casa Café, Gene’s Sausage Shop & Delicatessen, Alley Cat Comics, Ruff N’ Stuff Pet Center (a nonprofit pet store), Chicago Brauhaus restaurant, Bikram Yoga Andersonville, Women & Children First book store, the Swedish American Museum and Brunk Children’s Museum of Immigration, and performance art options like The Neo-Futurists.

Meanwhile, residential buildings seamlessly line the surrounding streets. There’s a blend of stores catering to the Chicago Vietnamese community as well as a Bosnian Herzegovinian American Community Center and the DANK Haus German American Cultural Center. I’m within walking distance of the Metra and elevated trains. Mariano’s, an upscale grocery store, is just several blocks away. Winnemac Park, which includes tennis courts, a playground, a track, and a number of dog-friendly trails, is close by, too. These only add to the vibrancy, diversity, and local feel of Ravenswood, Lincoln Square and Andersonville.

VGrabnerVictoria Marty has written for newspapers and magazines for more than 15 years and recently moved to the Lincoln Square, Chicago area. A frequent runner who loves learning and exploring new places, she has perfected the art of getting lost while simultaneously finding unique landmarks, boutiques and out-of-the-way nooks worth writing about. Her blogs are geared toward the newly transplanted who want to learn as much about Chicago as they can, as quickly as possible.

SHOULD YOU BUY OR SELL THIS YEAR?

The housing market is back and better than ever in many areas of the country. If you’re in the market to buy a home, you’ll find that interest rates are still at historic lows and homes are still considered affordable in most areas. If you’re thinking of selling your home, it may sell for closer to its list price and may be on the market for less time.

The information I am sending this month features statistics that provide a snapshot of what’s going on in the national market. You’ll get the scoop on everything from home prices to how much inventory is available to who’s buying and selling.

If you’re curious about how this compares to what’s going on in our local market or are curious about the value of your home, call me for more information. I’m never too busy share my knowledge of the local market and provide you with a free market analysis of your home. Pass this information on to your family and friends to give them the scoop on the national housing market.

 

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WHY NOW IS THE TIME TO ENTER THE HOUSING MARKET

If you’ve been tossing around the idea of putting your home on the market or buying a new home, now is a great time to do so.  For buyers this means that homes are still affordable and interest rates are low. For sellers this means that home values are increasing and lower inventory in many areas means more competition for your home.

The information in the month’s newsletter gives you an overview of the top reasons for buying and selling now. While page one outlines three reasons to buy, page two offers three great reasons to sell.

 

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DO YOU HAVE DIFFERENT HOME BUYING HABITS THAN YOUR PARENTS OR CHILDREN?

HOW’S THE ANDERSONVILLE AND EDGEWATER HOUSING MARKET?

We are seeing a brisk market, especially for condos with two bedrooms. Buyers are purchasing well-appointed two bedroom condos within 10 days of going on market. In February and March of 2013, the Move with Maggie Team listed six condos for sale in the area, and sold (went under contract) in an average of 10 days or less. Four of the six had multiple offers and they sold on average for 98% of list price at time of offer. We are seeing buyers willing to pay very good prices for well-appointed condos. However, condos that are not staged or well-appointed tend to sit on the market for longer periods of time. Condos without some sort of deck, patio or balcony, or without parking (not even rental parking), are sitting for longer periods of time or in some cases needing price reductions in order to sell. Our one bedroom condo market has not bounced back as quickly, most likely because given our low interest rates hovering around 3.75%, buyers can purchase a two bedroom for what they would have paid for a one bedroom. Andersonville continues to be a popular destination for professionals, boomers, and retirees seeking housing in Chicago. Be sure to check out movewithmaggie.com for recent sales and property that is available.

WHAT WILL 2013 HOLD FOR THE HOUSING MARKET?

Many people are curious about what the housing market will look like in 2013. Since housing is seen as a leading indicator of economic recovery, even people who aren’t looking to enter the market are anxious to see if this will be the year that the market fully recovers.

This month’s information may help you understand the status of both the national and local housing markets. The first page offers predictions and projections for the national housing market this year. Page two provides three reasons why it’s important to pay attention to what’s going on in your local market. Although the national market can give you an idea of the overall state of housing, only the local market directly impacts you and your home.

If you want to learn more about the local market, or are thinking of buying or selling your home, contact me for more information.

(Click on image to enlarge) Jan. 2013 Newsletter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“IF YOU WOULD BE WEALTHY, THINK OF SAVING AS WELL AS GETTING.” – Benjamin Franklin

Although money is easy to spend, it’s often difficult to save. However, it’s never too late to develop the habits necessary to begin building a strong financial foundation for a more secure future.

The information in this month’s newsletter is intended to encourage you or a loved one to begin building wealth. Page one provides seven essential strategies to help you improve your financial habits and take charge of your finances. Page two outlines the five common situations where having an emergency fund to draw from is necessary to prevent debt and financial ruin.

Even if you’re an expert saver, this information will provide the added incentive to save. Share it with family and friends who may need extra help or guidance with this important topic.