Exploring Chicago Neighborhoods,  museums,  random adventures

chicago winter survival guide – part 2

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I just heard on the news that Monday, January 20 is Blue Monday. Apparently, it’s the most depressing day of the year in the northern hemisphere. Um, yeah and we’ve just broken a record of no sun for the last 10 days. Which really sucks but I’d rather suffer through not seeing the sun than experiencing the frigid temperatures of the Polar Vortex that we had last year. I remember I hunkered down for 3 days straight not leaving my apartment. Even the mail wasn’t delivered for a few days, it was that cold. So right about now seems like good timing to reveal my Chicago Winter Survival Guide – Part 2. Part 1 covered the physical components needed to get you through winter while Part 2 addresses the mental fatigue. If you missed it, here’s Part 1.

It’s February. The hardest part of the winter because while it’s the shortest month it feels like the longest. The parties, festivities & good cheer of the holidays are over and the possibilities of a fresh new year are what’s keeping you going. Yes, the days are getting longer but the cold and grayness are becoming monotonous. Now, where is my SAD light? How does a lifelong Chicagoan cope?

Despite the weather and without a car I still try to manage to get out and discover new things. Recently I toured the spectacular Auditorium Theatre which is celebrating it’s 130th anniversary this year & went to the Maritime Museum at the Bridgeport Arts Center. I highly recommend both.

Read on for some suggestions to get through the second half of winter.

wait, what? you don’t have a car?

People cannot believe I don’t have a car but living in a city like Chicago I don’t really need one. Between the bus routes, the L and metra trains you’ll need to do some planning and time management to allow enough time to get around. Though this will depend on where you live in the city. Get the Ventra app & use the CTA trip planner. These will certainly help you navigate the city.

I will admit that sometimes I do need a car. That’s where Zipcar comes in. It’s a car-sharing program in major cities where you can rent a car by the hour. Gas & insurance are included along with dedicated parking. It’s easy. You reserve a car online for a couple of hours, run your errands, then return the car to where you got it. That’s it.

Zipcar also comes in handy if you are a one-car household and you need another car for a few hours or you need a car for business reasons. Zipcar can help. Click here to sign up for personal use or if you need it for business.

Whether on foot or by car here are some suggestions to help you get through the month of February.

catch the end of chicago restaurant week 2020

Chicago Restaurant Week 2020 is currently happening now. Read my post here. I went to Mango Pickle in Edgewater this past Friday night and it was phenomenal. A darling, colorful Indian place with fresh, flavorful dishes, creative presentation & just the right amount of heat. While they have amazing cocktails, go with the natural wine pairing. They have wonderful, informed staff to help you decide. A hidden gem. I am not surprised it’s been a recipient of the Michelin Bib Gourmand award for the last 3 years. You still have time to check out Chicago Restaurant Week but hurry up it ends Sunday, February 9th.

chicago theatre week

Now it’s time to discover what Chicago has to offer regarding the theatre scene. Since Hamilton has left (I was lucky enough to see it twice) there are still a lot of other interesting, thought-provoking options. Or so I’m told. I’m not a huge theatre person but I resolve to go see a few plays.

Chicago Theatre Week takes place from February 13 -23, 2020. A wide variety of plays are being offered which range from children’s plays, dramas, comedies, musicals & opera. The theatres are located in the city as well as suburbs. Here are my picks I hope to check out during Chicago Theatre Week.

#1 pick

I have been to the Neo-Futuristics in Andersonville in the past and it was hilarious. Playing there now is That’s Weird Grandma: Travels Through Time. Journey PlayMakers Laboratory as Grandma takes a time machine to visit student-written stories set in the past, present and future. Can Grandma repair the space-time continuum and return to the present? With the help of PML’s students’ stories, anything is possible. I haven’t been there in years but look forward to going back. Get discounted tickets here.

#2 pick

How A Boy Falls is playing in Skokie at the Northlight Theatre. WORLD PREMIERE MYSTERY! A newly hired au pair named Chelle is thrust into the midst of a mystery when the sudden disappearance of a young boy casts suspicion on her and the boy’s wealthy parents. The parents are seeking answers – and possibly revenge – while Chelle is hatching a dangerous scheme of her own. No one is exactly who they seem to be in a taut psychological thriller that asks who we can trust… if we can trust anyone. Get discounted tickets here.

#3 pick

I’m Not a Comedian … I’m Lenny Bruce directed By Joe Mantegna is at the Royal George Theatre. Hot off its critically-acclaimed, sold-out Los Angeles and Off-Broadway engagements, the Chicago premiere of “I’m Not a Comedian … I’m Lenny Bruce” is directed by multi-award-winning actor and director Joe Mantegna. Star Ronnie Marmo brilliantly chronicles the life and death of the most controversial comedian of all time. An undisputed comic legend, Lenny Bruce was one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. His life and work have had an impact on poetry, politics, music, film and of course, comedy. Bruce’s tempestuous personal and professional life was marked by both great passion and great pain His unwavering commitment to free speech led to numerous obscenity charges and arrests. Lenny fought for the freedom of speech all the way to the Supreme Court. Get discounted tickets here.

If none of my selections pique your interest, click here to see what is being offered & discounted tickets from Goldstar. This list is a rundown of all the plays featured during Chicago Theatre Week.

free museum days in February

The Field Museum is free the whole month of February for Illinois residents. This will be the fifth year in a row that the museum will be free. Proof of Illinois residency is needed for a basic entry at no cost and upgrades are available from basic entry to a discounted cost All-Access pass. Please click here for details.

My favorite exhibits at the Field. The Grainger Hall of Gems is a stunning collection that includes more than 600 gemstones and 150 pieces of antique & contemporary jewelry. The coolest part is that the display features a gem in its three stages of transformation: raw crystal, cut and polished stone, and mounted jewel in a finished ring, brooch, or necklace. 

At the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, Tiffany & Co.’s gem collection captivated viewers from all walks of life. When the exposition closed, World’s Fair President Harlow Higinbotham purchased the entire collection and donated it to Chicago’s then-new natural history museum.

Brewing Up Chicago: How Beer Transformed a City is The Chicago Brewseum’s first exhibition hosted at the Field. Step into 1830s Chicago and trace the flow of people and beer over time. When a growing German immigrant community introduced lager to the city in the 1850s, cultural clashes also emerged. Impacted by events like the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, brewing practices continued to evolve and shape the city, its people, and its beer.

International Museum of Surgical Science is free on February 3-7, 10-13, 17-21. Weird, freaky early medical instruments look like medieval torture devices. A little bit scary yet fascinating. Click here for details.

MSI (Museum of Science & Industry) free days are February 3-6, 10-13, 18-20, 24-27. My favorite exhibits at the MSI. Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle, Science Storms, The Art of the Bicycle, Extreme Ice & Wired to Wear. This is just a start with so many more. You should allow more time than you think you need. Click here for details.

Adler Planetarium free days are February 4-6, 11-13, 17-20. I haven’t been here since I was like 12 so I will be checking it out this month. Click here for details.

Did you know if you have a Chicago Public Library card you’ll be able to check out free passes for 19 museums? Here is a list of more museums and their free days. Because who doesn’t love FREE!

If you are not an Illinois resident but are planning a trip to Chicago click here for a CityPASS. It’s a great package with significant savings for some of our best museums. Also good for locals on a staycation!

it’s a good time to tackle that project

Why not get a jump on that Spring cleaning? You can only watch so much Netflix, Hulu & Prime and we all have those projects that we love to avoid. Like cleaning out the closet, taxes and going through that pile of papers. The list goes on & on. Now is the perfect time to tackle one of those dreaded, looming stacks. Here are the 10 best websites to help you break it down and make it doable.

Here is a great resource of where to donate all of your unwanted items & most have a free pick-up in the city.

Ugh, tax time is creeping up on us. Though it sounds dreadful, try to look at it as a win-win. Reduce one of those piles of papers and hopefully (!) get a tax refund. Also, the sooner you get your taxes filed the less chance there is for someone to steal your identity.

you are (over)due for a spa day

LOL. This is probably the most important element of my Chicago Winter Survival Guide – Part 2. Winter is the perfect time to schedule a spa day. Not in your budget? Can’t manage a whole day off? Just a facial or a massage will do. The cold, dry weather will wreak havoc on your skin. And right about now, don’t you feel a little hunched over & beat up from bundling up braving the weather? That’s winter wreaking havoc on your body. Time to take care of it. You have so many options in the city & suburbs and you can do so economically.

I’ve had many professional facials but I keep going back to the Douglas J Aveda Institute in the Century Mall Shopping Center on Diversey & Clark in Lakeview. I first discovered this hidden gem when I lived in the neighborhood a while back.

It is a school that offers training programs for cosmetology, esthiology, massage therapy & barbering. Though it has changed management in the past, the quality of a really good basic facial is the same and for $44 you can’t beat it. It’s an hour of pure pampering & relaxation and I love the quality & scent of Aveda products.

My favorite Aveda product is botanical kinetics exfoliant. It’s expensive but amazing & worth every penny. You can easily book your appointment online here. They also have locations in Michigan & Tennessee.

My latest favorite places to get a massage are Lotus Thai Bodywork & Heavenly massage which I have discovered both through Groupon. Here’s a Groupon deal for Heavenly going on now.

If you have never had a traditional Thai massage I highly recommend it. You wear yoga clothes during the appointment while the massage therapist stretches & manipulates your limbs. It may sound a little weird compared to a traditional massage but you should give it a shot. After my first one, I felt like I had a new body. Seriously, you should try it.

Here is a round-up of the best spas in Chicago. My personal recommendations from this list are Urban Oasis & Allyu. Both are very relaxing & clean as you enter with first-rate staff and an overall calming, zen atmosphere. Both offer showers after your massage, which I highly recommend that you schedule.

Looking for more pampering spa deals in the city or suburbs? Try Spafinder Wellness. Or looking for Valentine’s Day gift ideas? Click here for 15% off when you purchase $50+ gift cards.

no more daylight savings time in IL? yes, please

Illinoisans rejoice! Hopefully, we will be joining Arizona & Hawaii in getting rid of daylight savings time. Sorry early birds, but I for one am thrilled! Senate Bill 533 was passed in the Illinois Senate by an overwhelming 44-2. So now if it passes in the Illinois House, March 2020 will be the last time we will have to change our clocks. EVER. A high school civics class convinced a Senator in Springfield, IL and started this initiative. WELL DONE CLASS & THANK YOU!

love this

Just in time for Valentine’s Day. Help spread the love. Especially to those who really need it, like the kids at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Here’s your chance to put a smile on those little faces. Click here to send a free valentine to the patients at Lurie Children’s Hospital.

I hope you found my Chicago Winter Survival Guide – Part 2 useful. Now go get some theatre tickets, tackle one of those stacks of papers & schedule yourself a pampering spa service. You got this! Remember only 48 more days until Spring.

Finally, I would love your feedback. Did you find some new favorite places to eat from Chicago Restaurant Week? Where? What did you have? Did you schedule a facial or massage? Where? How was it? Did you go see a play? Which one? Thoughts? Did you go to a museum? Which one? What was your favorite exhibit?

Have you ever learned or discovered something new from this or any of my other blog posts? If so, please let me know. Also please use the social media buttons under each post to share with whomever you think may be interested. Thank you for all of your support!

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