Search This Blog

Friday, December 21, 2012

Two Personal Projects After Sandy Hook

Photo from window of Morlen Sinoway Atelier in Fulton Market, Chicago.

Hello reader: In a very round about way I am going to tell you about a book group the Evanston Public Library is starting. If you want to avoid my talk about raising boys to not shoot their peers, scroll to the bottom of this post where the book group info is.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings there have been numerous discussions about the type of parents Adam Lanza had, specifically the type of mother given that he lived with her after his parent's divorce. Was she nurturing? Didn't she see how reclusive her son was and why train him to use weapons?

As we think about the type of parents who raise killers like Adam Lanza, we also look at the type of man Adam was. Just yesterday I read something in, Adam Lanza: America’s crisis of masculinity personified, that made me think deeply about the kind of boys we are raising in America. We are raising boys who are killing one another from the streets of Evanston to the schools of Sandy Hook. Why are our boys killing?

As I think about these questions, I find myself turning a critical eye to my parenting practices (my husband and I are raising two boys) and it occurs to me that I don't lend enough intellectual energy to my parenting of two boys. I am a very reactive and emotional parent, and read very little about the emotional development and social needs of my boys. Could this approach be part of the problem of parenting in America? We’re all too reactive and worried about the wrong things, like if our children like us?

Whatever the answer, I am committing to two things in reaction to the Sandy Hook tragedy; I will become a more conscious parent of boys and men. (Of course lucky for me (and you) Evanston Public Library has an outlet for this change, a book group for parents raising boys. I'm in and you can join too, see the info below.)

Additionally, I am going to advocate that our elected officials change the law and ban assault weapons and demand background checks on all gun purchasing and licensing.

I am by no means Adam Lanza’s mother (click here to read I am Adam Lanza’s Mother by Liza Long), but I have two boys and should do my personal best to make sure they become men who are stewards of this earth and the people on it.

Here is information on Evanston Public Library's book club for raising boys;

Event Type: Family
Age Group(s): Family, Teen
Date: 1/31/2013
Start Time: 7:00 PM
End Time: 8:15 PM

In this book group for parents of boys from toddler to 8th grade, we will read quality children's/YA literature featuring fully-realized boy characters, discuss the story and its characters and discuss how the story relates to our experiences raising our boys. Co-led by Jarrett Dapier, a young adult librarian and father and Betty Mac Kune Karrer, a former family systems therapist at Northwestern University, this book group gives parents a chance to understand boys better and learn strategies for giving boys the support they need to flourish. Our first book will be JOEY PIGZA SWALLOWED THE KEY. Please pick up your copy at the children's desk once you've registered. BOTH PARENTS STRONGLY ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND (though not required).
Library: Main Library Google Map

Location: Children's Public Conference Room (First Floor)
Status: Openings

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Whole Foods sells coffee for $4.99!

During the healthy eating challenge at Whole Foods, I got a tour of the store from one of the WF team members, Bridget. Apparently you can ask for a tour anytime to learn about sales and where the deals are.

I asked Bridget about coffee on my tour as normally I could count on spending $14 a bag at WF. She pointed out a whole section of coffee I had never seen and introduced me to this gem for under $5!

This is our new house coffee and it's delicious. Thanks for saving me a ton on coffee WF, now I can buy the booze that FEW Spirits sells across the street.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

CTA Holiday Train Stops at Dempster Today!

Holiday Train Schedule
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Purple Line (Shuttle & Express)
The CTA Holiday Train will operate on the Purple Line from about 3:40pm to about 6:30pm.

  • The train will make one shuttle trip from Howard to Linden
  • The train will make one express trip from Linden to the Loop, and back
  • The train will make one shutle trip from Linden to Howard
  • See Purple Line Route Guide for more on regular service and route information.

    Click here for the times.

    Monday, December 17, 2012

    Dec. 19: FEW Spirits Tour N Pour


    The next Few Tour N Pour will be next Wednesday the 19th from 5-7pm (tour will start at 6 p.m.) here at the distillery. Come in for a holiday cocktail or two. The merriment is free.

    Click here to learn more about Evanston's distillery.

    Thursday, December 13, 2012

    Today: Free small cone at Andy's Custards

    Happy Holidays from Andy’s Custard

    December 13 is FREE cone day!

    Order a small vanilla or chocolate cone and it’s free! 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. at Andy’s locations.

    719 Church Street
    Evanston, IL 60201
    (847) 864-8009

    Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl responds to third shooting in Evanston in less than two weeks

    The series of violent acts that have occurred in Evanston over the last couple of weeks are unacceptable. While we grieve with our local families over their losses, the entire Evanston community has been shaken. Our children are concerned for their safety and all residents are questioning this unusual period of events.

    The circumstances of these violent acts are well known to the Evanston Police Department and are being vigorously investigated by EPD and our local law enforcement partners. This recent violence involves a continuing dispute between two extended families that have ties to gang related violence. EPD is using all available resources to apprehend those responsible. These investigations are being conducted in such a manner to insure those responsible are brought to justice.

    We have too many guns in this community. We must work together to get guns off the street through buy-back programs and other means until local jurisdictions have the authority to enact real gun control legislation.

    I have every confidence that Police Chief Eddington and members of the Evanston Police Department are doing what is required to end this period of violence and to keep all of us in Evanston safe.


    Elizabeth Tisdahl

    Click here for the latest news story from Evanston Patch on the shooting of a 23-year-old Javar Bamberg.

    Tuesday, December 11, 2012

    Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre to Hold Auditions Dec. 17

    From the City of Evanston website:

    December 11, 2012
    Media Contact: Martha Logan
    Phone: 847/448-8041

    Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre to Hold Auditions Dec. 17

    EVANSTON, IL - The City of Evanston's Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre will hold auditions on December 17 for its summer 2013 play, "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enough." The theatre is looking to cast African American women 18-50 years of age.

    Auditions will take place at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, Studio 223, 927 Noyes St., Evanston. Auditions will start at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, December 17. Actors should bring a headshot and resume and be prepared to present a one- to two-minute monologue.

    Rehearsals will take place from May 13 through June 6, 2013. The play will preview on June 7 and performances will take place June 8-23. All rehearsals and performances will be held at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center. For more information or to make an interview appointment, please call 847/448-8260 and ask for Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre.

    Click here for more information

    Monday, December 10, 2012

    Enter to win a $100 Gift Certificate for Whole Foods and take the Healthy Eating Challenge!

    Thanks to the support of Evanston Newbie readers and my very supportive family, we survived the Whole Foods Healthy Eating Challenge, but we spent more than $100 of groceries in a week. If the challenge budget was $150, we would have WON! But there are no losers really in this challenge considering everyone walks away well fed and a little bit smarter about navigating the neighborhood Whole Foods.

    What pushed us over the $100 spending goal for a week of groceries? Our addiction to protein! It is much more cost effective to be a vegetarian and tons more cost effective to be a vegan - but in our house, protein rules, especially during dinner.

    One fantastic feature that kept us on track was the Whole Foods Daily Deal, pictured here, where each day of the week, an item is up to 30% off. We bought a roasted chicken for $6.99 and where one other blogger who participated in the challenge said the chicken lasted her family at least two meals, we polished it off in one. Maybe we could also try to eat less.

    One thing I didn't do a good job of was posting recipes on this blog during the challenge but I blame the time I was spending shopping as I did the challenge daily, and went into Whole Foods searching for flash sales on a regular basis. We scored some amazing New York steaks and delicious boneless pork chops.

    In appreciation of all your support and enthusiasm, I am giving away a $100 gift certificate to Whole Foods to anyone who can recommend the best tip on eating on a budget. And "plan, plan, plan" can't be the answer. Post your tip here in the reply section or via email at I'll post the winning reply and let you know how to redeem your gift certificate.

    Also a big thanks to the team over at Whole Foods Evanston South. You are a very kind and friendly staff and I appreciate you answering my 900 questions about food and sales and food prep!

    Happy healthy eating!

    Wednesday, December 5, 2012

    Dec. 10: Rough Magic, a glorious Winter Celebration at Next Theatre

    From the Rough Magic Facebook Invite:

    On the evening of Monday December 10th, please join us for a special night of Rough Magic at Next Theatre!

    Rough Magic is a celebration of creative abundance. A one night only performance by Chicago’s theater community and an opportunity to learn about and give to local, national and international organizations who are practicing daring, inspired, creative innovation for good.

    This December's Rough Magic will be a glorious Winter Celebration at Next Theatre, with readings of holiday stories and music by Next Theatre actors, including Mary Ann Thebus, Polly Noonan, Erik Hellman, Alex Goodrich and others, in an evening directed by Michael Rohd. Enjoy cheap art, live music and delicious home baked treats!

    In addition, we will celebrate three local organizations who are using the human power of creative thinking, storytelling and hard work to meaningful and inspired effect in the world. We'll give a vivid snapshot of The Moran Center, The Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse, and Evanston Scholars. What kind of innovation inspires us? Who can make best use of a gift of resources? Every guest can choose exactly where they'd like their $10 to go! At the end of the night we'll see how much we've raised by celebrating the season together.

    This will be a very special evening. Here's what you need to know: Monday December 10th, Next Theatre at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes Street, Evanston IL 60201

    7 PM: Celebration space opens with art, music, and home-baked treats. 7:30 PM: Performance.

    $10 (CASH VASTLY PREFERRED), all to be given to an Evanston organization dedicated to CREATIVE INNOVATION FOR GOOD.

    Come celebrate!

    Whole Foods Healthy Eating Challenge Update: Be your own fruit cutter and save!

    We're three days into the healthy food challenge and although we're spending a little more than $1.19 a meal, things are going well. Oh and I lost a pound, so I love this challenge! Here's a full update:

    I have always defined "rich" by two factors; you are rich if you own things you don't use on a daily basis and you are rich if you pay people to do things for you. Period. It's that simple for me. Rich people have second homes, third vehicles, nannies, fruit cutters. Fruit cutters? That's right, fruit cutters. A rich person pays someone to cut their fruit.

    Why am I thinking about who can afford to get their fruit cut? Because containers of chopped up fruit that cost upwards of $7 have long been the reason I considered Whole Foods to be way too pricey for me and my family. Who shops at a store that sells $7 containers of chopped cantaloupe? Rich people. Only a rich person would buy a container of chopped fruit with the whole fruit on sale for 1/2 the price only inches away. And I'm not rich and therefor shouldn't expose myself to such consumer insanity!

    But in the last several days, I've spent several hours trolling my local Whole Foods searching for Daily Deals and Savings so that I can compete and win at the $100 Healthy Food Challenge my family is taking. And most of the time I've spent in the produce section, trying to buy fresh fruits and vegetables for daily consumption. Pink Lady apples have been on sale for $1.99 a pound and we've had our share of those. I also bought fruit cocktail in a can with light syrup for snacks in lunches at $1.49 a can but it's not the same.

    So I found myself looking at cantaloupe which were on sale this week, two for $6. (One great thing about Whole Foods is you don't have to buy both to get a 2 for 1 deal, you can just buy one.) $6 on cantaloupe seemed pricey, but my children love all fresh fruit, so I knew it would get eaten. But $6 is almost 10% of the budget for the week and that seemed liked a bad spending decision. But my children love all fresh fruit, even if it's out of season.

    As I was doing the math and making up my mind about spending $6 on fresh fruit (I wanted two), the rows and rows of freshly cut and colorful fruits in nice plastic containers were all standing and staring at me from their happy refrigerated shelf. And in the five minutes I stood in front of them at least five people waltzed buy and threw one or two of the containers of fruit in their carts and moved along. How nonchalantly they made their decision to spend $7 on chopped fruit while I racked my brain for savings options.

    I ended up throwing two cantaloupes in my cart and moving on to the frozen food section where I got two tilapia fillets for $2.99 (score) and frozen organic peas ($1.20) and left the store feeling good about my spending decisions.

    When I got home, I was faced with the task of fruit cutting - how was I going to squeeze in 15 minutes of fruit cutting before the fruit went bad? I couldn't risk waiting and like a maniac went into a fruit chopping frenzy, cut up both cantaloupes and put them in a plastic container and threw them in the fridge. We ate cantaloupe for several days with three meals, served on the side in a little 1/4 cup portion. Yummy.

    Because we're tracking each meal so closely, here is the cost of just one dinner with cantaloupe as a side; If I divide up the $6 over three meals for four people, the cantaloupe comes to .50 cents a serving per person. And the tilapia is about .75 per serving and the frozen peas are .30 cents. A meal of tilapia, cantaloupe and peas is $1.54 person, which is pretty close to the $1.19 per meal per person I've got to spend to make $100 last 84 meals.

    If I had purchased the chopped up cantaloupe for $7 (which would have lasted two meals, not three) the servings would have cost .87 cents and this meal would have cost me at least .37 cents more per person, $1.91 per meal, $1.48 more total. Is $1.48 going to break my bank? Not necessarily! After all the thinking, I cut my own fruit and the reward is I saved money for my family and I became a more conscientious spender, consumer and chef (at least for that meal).

    If Whole Foods wants to provide merchandise for a range of people, from those on a budget to those without, good for them. Both shoppers go home with organic fruit that is pesticide free. That's all that should matter - healthy eating. I'll worry about the problem that my two cantaloupes used 9,000 gallons of fossil fuel flying from some country near the equator just to get to my table in December later! First things first!


    Starting Monday, December 3, my family is taking the Whole Foods Healthy Eating Challenge, where we eat healthy food from Whole Foods for a week and spend only $100. Check back throughout the week to see how the Ford family is doing with the challenge. I’ll post news and information on how we’re shopping and budgeting and how my children and husband are doing.

    Lastly but not leastly, at the end of the challenge, there will be a $100 Whole Foods gift card giveaway for readers of this blog (that means YOU) so be sure to keep reading.

    Oh and if you have any recipes that total $1 per person, made up of healthy ingredients, please post them in the reply section or email me at

    Tuesday, December 4, 2012

    Dec. 9: Curt's Cafe Celebrates Three Evanston Author's New Books

    From Curt's Cafe Invite:

    Saturday, Dec. 9
    9 - 10 a.m.
    Coffee and Hang
    2922 Central Street
    Evanston, Illinois 60201

    10 - 11 a.m.
    Three new Evanston residents will talk about their recently released books:
    (great opportunity to buy last minute Holiday gifts)

    Ken Krimstein
    New Yorker Cartoonist
    Kvetch as Kvetch Can...Jewish Cartoons

    Mark Ingwer, Ph.D.
    (Curt's Cafe's very own Advisory Board Member)
    Empathetic Marketing: How to Satisfy the 6 Core Emotional Needs of Your Customers

    Sarah Aronson
    Head Case (A Young Adult Novel) & Beyond Lucky (readers 9-14)

    11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
    Cartoon Caption Contest

    (winner takes all....the leftover bagels and, of course, the claim to fame)

    We will supply the Bagels and Coffee, you can bring your own mug!

    RSVP by email please to

    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    Evanston Newbie and Family take the $100 Whole Foods Healthy Eating Challenge

    Starting Monday, December 3, my family is taking the Whole Foods Healthy Eating Challenge, where we eat healthy food from Whole Foods for a week and spend only $100.

    My older son already laid down the law, “if I’m still hungry after we eat a healthy meal, I’m going to keep eating.” And my husband already asked “just how much are going to cheat on this?” My younger son, by far the biggest eater in the family, is totally against the challenge as a concept let alone our family taking it.

    We’re all convinced we can eat healthy food for every meal, but spending only $100 on 84 meals will only leave us miserable and hungry. Our perception of healthy eating is that it leaves you starving, not that it’s expensive.

    In fact when Bridget from Whole Foods South in Evanston invited me to take the challenge and to post the results on my blog, I was shocked! Here’s the email reply I sent: Yes I am interested in the challenge BUT how do you know how much my family eats? Bridget assured me there were no family size stipulations and that plenty of other bloggers had taken the challenge and done well! In fact I will be using recipes from several other bloggers who took the challenge (an survived) and will make sure to credit them when I post the recipes later in the week.

    But really, is it feasible to feed a family of four on only $100 a week even if you don’t eat healthy? $100 per week breaks down to $1 a meal, per person according to my super awesome math skills; 3 meals a day/21 per week per person, total 84 meals (four people). $100 divided by 84 is $1.19 per meal per person.

    Because I am afraid we are going to be left hungry after every meal and that we are so going to cheat, I’m making a few rules.

    Ford Family Healthy Eating Challenge Rules:

  • The $100 budget does not include wine, juice, coffee or dessert after dinner
  • We will research other blogger’s tips and recipes
  • We will all try new foods
  • We will all be aware of the total cost of every meal
  • We will plan the weeks’ menu on Sunday, with everyone’s input
  • We will shop throughout the week to take full advantage of all the sales
  • We will have a positive attitude and be grateful for the food we eat
  • We will talk about the food’s nutritional value, origin, etc.
  • We will be grateful to Whole Foods and Bridgette for teaching us how to shop for the best deals and eat healthy, affordable meals
  • In our house, we don’t call Whole Foods “Whole Paycheck”, we call it “rad” for it’s amazing cheese and wine and chocolate and more…we like Whole Foods, we just only shop there for select items and maybe only go there once a week. We avoid Whole Foods because we are bulk shoppers, making lots of trips to Cotsco for huge quantities of bacon and feta. We eat too much food, and we need to start eating less.

    Additionally, we eat food that isn’t ethically produced (my children haven’t seen images of slaughterhouses yet) and we rarely eat organic and or locally grown.

    So we’ve got two challenges as a family; eating too much and eating without ethics. Taking this healthy eating challenge will help us start down the path of eating healthier, but also eating with a conscious; moving us away from being volume-focused eaters to conscientious eaters.

    I am confident people can eat healthy and not go broke and I think Whole Food knows this too, which is why they’ve invited anyone with a big enough voice out there to take the challenge.

    Check back throughout the week to see how the Ford family is doing with the challenge. I’ll post news and information on how we’re shopping and budgeting and how my children and husband are doing.

    Lastly but not leastly, at the end of the challenge, there will be a $100 Whole Foods gift card giveaway for readers of this blog (that means YOU) so be sure to keep reading.

    Oh and if you have any recipes that total $1 per person, made up of healthy ingredients, please post them in the reply section or email me at

    Friday, November 30, 2012

    Saturday: First Farmer & Artisan Food Market at Evanston Ecology Center

    From the City of Evanston website:

    First Farmer & Artisan Food Market Dec 1

    The market returns this winter to the Evanston Ecology Center at 2024 McCormick Blvd. and will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. every Sat. from Dec. 1, 2012 through April 27, 2013. The market extends the farmers' selling season for local fresh produce and gives them an opportunity to add value to their produce by making and selling sauces, pickling products, soups and salsas. The market also provides local food artisans with a place to sell their products.

    This market extends the farmers' selling season for local fresh produce and gives them an opportunity to add value to their produce by making and selling sauces, pickling products, soups and salsas. The market also provides local food artisans with a place to sell their products.

    It is anticipated that fresh produce will include root vegetables, spinach, kales, broccoli, kohlrabi, cauliflower and herbs. Lettuces will be available as indoor growing conditions allow. The market will also sell pork, beef, chicken, eggs, lamb and goat that are natural free range meats, as well as frozen blueberries, apple cider and fruit preserves. Locally-produced cheese, artisan breads, honey, pastries, coffee and ice cream will also be sold, with goat milk soaps and organic herb teas rounding out the selection.

    New this year! Some prepared foods will be sold, including crepes, tamales and other savory dishes. Finally, don’t forget to bring your knives to be sharpened. For more info., please call 847/864-7238.

    Thursday, November 29, 2012

    Dec. 15: Evanston PD will buy your gun for $100

    From the City of Evanston website:

    Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl announced today that the City of Evanston will be teaming up with several community organizations to co-sponsor a gun buyback program for Evanston residents. The gun buyback event will be held from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday, December 15, 2012 at Christ Temple Missionary Baptist Church located at 1711 Simpson St. in Evanston.

    Guns must be unloaded, in operational condition and participants must have proof of Evanston residency. Examples of proof of residency include a piece of mail, Evanston Public Library card, student ID or a government-issued ID.

    This is an amnesty-based buyback program and no police enforcement action will be taken as a result of someone turning in a firearm. Participants are encouraged to bring in ammunition, ammunition clips, and magazines, but kept separate from the weapon at all times. Weapons should be transported in the trunk of a vehicle or in an inaccessible area of a van or pickup truck.

    There is a two gun limit and participants in the buyback program will receive cash for each firearm. The program will operate on a first come, first served basis and will end at the designated time or when all funds are exhausted.

    If an Evanston resident wishes to participate in the gun buyback program, but is unfamiliar or uncomfortable with handling a firearm, they can call 3-1-1 for assistance and an officer will come out to the residence to retrieve the firearm. Amnesty will still apply for this type of request.

    If a participant wishes to receive a receipt indicating that the weapon is no longer in their possession for record keeping purposes, they will then be asked for additional information.

    In addition to their organizational efforts and $1,000 contribution to the program, the Evanston Community Foundation has established a fund to accept residents’ contributions in support of the program at or by mail to: Evanston Community Foundation, 1007 Church St. Suite 108 Evanston, IL 60201.

    “I would like to thank the Evanston Community Foundation for their efforts in helping organize this important community event along with their generous financial support,” said Mayor Tisdahl. “I would also like to thank Evanston resident Carolyn Murray for suggesting the idea, Northwestern University, the Cherry Family Foundation and NorthShore University HealthSystem (NorthShore) Evanston Hospital for their help and most generous financial support that will go far in removing dangerous weapons off our streets and protecting our innocent youth from gun violence.”

    “There is no instant or single solution to the problem of gun violence, nor any way to undo the losses we have already suffered. The Foundation has responded to the Mayor’s request for assistance in the hope that our community can decrease residents’ access to guns in moments of anger or fear and that we can demonstrate our shared resolve to prevent violence,” said Sara Schastok, President and CEO of the Evanston Community Foundation.

    Northwestern University has donated $10,000, NorthShore Evanston Hospital has donated $1,000 and the Cherry Family Foundation has donated $5,000 to the program.

    "We're pleased to partner with the City of Evanston, the Evanston Community Foundation and others to provide funding for this program," said Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro. "We appreciate Mayor Tisdahl's leadership and the work of the Evanston Police Department in their efforts to help keep Evanston safe for everyone, including members of the Northwestern community."

    “We are committed to demonstrating our leadership to preserve and improve human life,” explained Douglas Silverstein, President of NorthShore Evanston Hospital. “In an effort to extend NorthShore’s mission, we applaud and support the City of Evanston’s continuing efforts to prevent violence and ensure a safe community environment for all citizens.”

    “The Cherry Family Foundation is responding to the Mayor’s call for the reduction of weapons in order to reduce the potential of violence in the City of Evanston,” said David Cherry.

    Firearms are a potential hazard in any home. Firearms can be stolen, used in an accidental shooting or a suicide. When guns are used in criminal attacks, the outcomes are often irreversible and fatal.

    Guns are often used to settle disputes. Settling disputes with guns can have a devastating impact on communities and innocent victims. The access and availability of firearms is associated with an increased risk of suicide in the home.

    Tuesday, November 27, 2012

    Tonight: Mayor Rahm Emanuel talks politics at Northwestern's Technological Institute

    Tonight you can hear Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel talk politics for free at Northwestern's Technological Institute. There are no tickets for this event. The doors open at 4 p.m. and there is open seating.

    Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will provide his perspective on the 2012 Election. Mayor Emanuel, a Northwestern alumnus, previously served as the White House Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama. He was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 2003 – 2009. He also served as a senior advisor to President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1998. Chicago Politics and the 2012 Election

    Wednesday, 4:30 PM - 5:30 PM

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012

    Warning: There is a whiskey distillery less than a mile from my home

    Update from Few Spirits Facebook wall! It's harvest time here at Few, which means we are asking for volunteers to come help us bottle & label this Saturday the 17th, from 9:45am-1pm. Please message us via Facebook if you can make it in. Or, hey, just come on in...we will make it fun.


    As you all know, I’m in the love with the walkability factor of living in Evanston and the more I get to know this city – the more walkable it becomes.

    Just a few months ago I heard something from somewhere about a gin distillery in Evanston. How funny I thought to myself and how old school to have an actual distillery in your hometown. Doesn’t that only happen in the Deep South? And didn’t Evanston’s history involve a healthy and prolonged Temperance movement? My mind soon moved on to another topic and I forgot all about this alleged distillery.

    Then a few weeks ago my husband’s coworker told him all about this “amazing distillery where they make gin and whiskey and spirits and it’s the best you’ve ever tasted and they have tours!” I quickly went online and found Few Spirits of Evanston and signed up for a tour which I totally flaked on. Do you see a pattern here dear reader? The party has to come to ME!

    Background added today: Few Spirits is located just off Chicago Ave. in a former chop shop adjacent to the Purple Line tracks and offers tours and tastings ($10, more info on their website at The distillery opened in 2011 and is owned and operated by Paul Hletko, a 41-year-old patent attorney with an undergraduate degree in industrial engineering. Opening up the distillery was a long and complicated process which included Evanston changing zoning laws. Last February Mike Sula of the Chicago Reader did a good story on Few Spirits and Hletko's work, click here to read it.

    This is the part where the party comes to me! Last weekend I heard that Few Spirits was doing a tasting at Whole Foods Evanston South from 1-4 p.m. and seeing as I needed juice boxes for lunches, I ran out the door faster than you can say “free whiskey”. (I can never recall in my long life (40 years) being able to walk to a whiskey tasting in less than 1 mile from my house.)

    The line at the Few Spirits table was long and the offerings were plenty, so I waited patiently, and was rewarded with a smooth, hearty and heart-warming Bourbon Whiskey taste served up by Brooke Saucier, Brand Manager at Few.

    I intend to sign up for a tour again but before that I’m going to the Fifth FF, a party at Few Spirits the day after Thanksgiving featuring live music, food, cocktails and the food truck Samich Box. See party info below and see you there!

    Fifth FF, Friday, November 23, 2012
    5:30-8 p.m.
    918 Chicago Avenue

    After swearing that our Fourth FF would be our last one at the distillery until spring, we hereby unswear. Thiiiiis one will be 2012's final fling. We're putting up a tent, with perhaps a Few fancy heaters.

    Join us the evening after Thanksgiving for music, food and cocktails. Bring family & friends. You just know they want to go do something...

    Music will be provided by Precious Moment, aka Adam Voss Unplugged, who will be rockin' an acoustic set sure to please, amuse and confound.

    The food truck presently known as SamichBox will join us again, and they promise not to foist any turkey leftovers on us.

    Cocktails will again be served, along with juice boxes for the kids, as well as for those who really really love juice.

    Tuesday, November 6, 2012

    Breaking news: Bennison's calls Election results hours before media outlets come around!

    You say it's just a cookie sale but it's obviously much more than that. Yesterday's cookie sales for Obama and Romney cookies above precisely predicted Obama's victory over Romney in this year's presidential election.

    Look at this post from Bennison's Facebook wall around 7 p.m. on election night:

    The polls have closed on the 2012 Presidential cookie count, final tally is:

    Obama: 724
    Romney: 220

    Here's to Bennison's for having their finger on the pulse of America's voting public! And here's to living in Evanston, a wonderfully liberal community supportive of Obama!

    Monday, November 5, 2012

    11.16.12: Get your tree lit, Evanston!

    From the Downtown Evanston website:

    The Downtown Evanston Holiday Bash & Tree Lighting is downtown Evanston’s kick-off celebration to the holiday season!

    4pm - 9pm Throughout Downtown Evanston 5:30pm Tree Lighting at Fountain Square with Mayor Tisdahl, Music Institiute of Chicago & Santa

    Shopping & Dining Specials * Music * Stolling Singers * Refreshments * Trolley Rides

    Get the family together and spend the evening in downtown Evanston for shopping, dinner or simply an evening out! Take advantage of special offers and events in shops, cafes and restaurants throughout downtown Evanston. Experience trolley rides around the downtown and live music in shops and restaurants. In addition to live music, strolling carolers will take to the streets! Enjoy seasonal treats and refreshments at some of your favorite downtown businesses and be sure you and the kids are present when Mayor Tisdahl and Santa light the tree in Fountain Square!

    Thursday, November 1, 2012

    You've got 20 days to train for the Flying Turkey 5k

    This certified 5K run and walk will be along the beautiful Evanston lakefront newly paved path beginning at Sheridan Rd. and Church Street.

    Thursday, November 22, 2012
    9:00 AM – Evanston, IL


    • Chip-timed certified 5K course
    • Long sleeve crew neck sweatshirt and goodie bag
    • Beautiful Lakefront course
    • Course water stations and finish line refreshments
    • Awards to top three overall M/F and top three in
    . five year age divisions

    Click here to register

    More info at

    Friday, October 26, 2012

    Breaking: Evanston Tops List of 10 Suburbs that Don’t Suck!

    I was driving south on Lake Shore Drive this morning and caught some of WBEZ’s 848 (a show I should be hosting because I would be so good at it, more on that later) and I heard a great interview with travel writer Dave Seminara who was talking about 10 Chicago suburbs worth visiting and Evanston made it on the list! That’s right, Evanston is on the top of the list of 10 Suburbs that Don’t Suck and I’m excited on so many levels, here’s 2; #1 I love a headline with the word “sucks” in it, #2 I’m thrilled to have chosen such an awesome suburb.

    Here’s what Seminara has to say about Evanston:

    This big, diverse community directly north of the city along Lake Michigan belongs on the itinerary of every visitor to Chicago. It's home to Northwestern University, some 61 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and six sandy beaches. The pedestrian friendly downtown is filled with nice bookstores, cafés, shopping and restaurants and there are beautiful homes scattered among several historic districts within the town. Evanston also has an amazing library, which allows patrons to take out up to 75 books a time (seriously).

    Click here to read the full story

    and find out what the 9 other suburbs are. What’s so great about this article is that I plan to print it out and go visit all 10 suburbs. In case you forgot, I’m still a newbie in that there are endless places, stores, beaches, etc., I’ve yet to visit. Just the other day I visited Tamales lo Mejor de Guerrero on Clark Street for the FIRST time and I’ve been in town since June 2011 – someone is not doing their homework!

    Keep the ideas coming and get me ingrained in this new locale!

    p.s. I took this photo on Dempster Street beach. Feel free to use it as your screensaver.

    Tuesday, October 23, 2012

    This Saturday in Evanston: Farmers' Market Fall Fest

    From the City of Evanston:

    Farmers' Market Fall Fest on October 27

    Besides the gorgeous autumn plants, delicious food and fresh produce available for purchase, the Downtown Evanston Farmers' Market will have a festive look and fun things to do at this year's Fall Fest, which will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 27, 2012.

    Fall Fest activities include free arts + crafts activities and mini-pumpkin decorating. Children age 11 and younger, who come in costume, will receive a goodie bag. Vendors will be dressed in Halloween costumes; so, be sure to vote for your favorite!

    In addition, you’re invited to celebrate Arts and Humanities Month by helping paint mural panels that will hang in the Early Childhood rooms at Robert Crown Center. Join Evanston artist Lea Pinsky and your neighbors between 9:00 a.m. and noon at the Fall Fest for a "Big Paint" — brushes and paints will be waiting!

    The final day of the market's 2012 season will be Saturday, November 3. Each week, as many as 51 vendors sell a wide variety of goods each week, including fruits, vegetables, meat, flowers, cheese, milk, eggs and bakery items. Reusable and biodegradable bags are sold on site. Free parking is available in the adjacent 1800 Maple Avenue Self Park Garage. Please note that dogs are not allowed at the market (with an exception for service animals).

    Thursday, October 11, 2012

    Wildlife Sighting: Canadian Geese Honking in the Autumn Sky

    I love it when I take my trash out at night and the only sound I can hear, besides the rustling of the leaves on the tree in our yard, is the honk of goose or the honks of geese flying in the night sky.

    Geese are yet another animal on the long list of wildlife that one is constantly exposed to in Evanston.

    I don't remember the geese staying for winter last year but then again, winter never really got here.

    Thursday, October 4, 2012

    Free: Race to Nowhere screening and discussion at ETHS

    I loved this movie and think this is a great event! It's free and I'm sure the discussion will be lively. Register and reserve tickets, info below. The event is FREE, but you should register so the planners know how many people are coming.

    Screening of "Race to Nowhere" Film at ETHS

    How do we define success for our children? How do we achieve balance in our homes, schools, and communities? Raising Children in Evanston: A Conversation about the Demands of Modern Childhood will take place Oct. 10th at 7:00pm at ETHS. Evanston parents and educators of children from preschool to grade 12 are invited to a screening of the critically-acclaimed documentary Race to Nowhere (with Spanish subtitles) followed by breakout discussions about what’s going on and what we want to change. Register and reserve your tickets at For additional information on the film, see

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012

    Author Series; Naomi Wolf reads from Vagina at Evanston Public Library

    It's not often that I use the word "vagina" in a headline or blog post so this is pretty exciting. (I am breaking the vagina hymen on my blog with this post!)

    Naomi Wolf is reading at the Evanston Public Library tomorrow!

    Wednesday, October 3, 4 pm, Community Meeting Room, Main Library Author Naomi Wolf discusses her latest book Vagina: A New Biography. The renowned social critic and political activist will take questions and sign books following the program, and copies of Vagina: A New Biography will be available for purchase courtesy of Lake Forest Bookstore.

    Naomi Wolf is the author of eight books including the landmark bestsellers The Beauty Myth and The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot. Her essays have appeared in the NY Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Esquire, and her TV appearances include Meet the Press, Larry King Live, and the Colbert Report. She lives in New York City.

    Please register online or call (847) 448-8620.

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

    Manifesto for the underemployed, not wanting it all and other thoughts on doing very little with your time

    When I made the move from El Paso to Evanston last summer, I told myself I would totally switch career gears and change from a workaholic media producer who didn't know her son's teacher's names to a person with a regular job, who lightly participated in parenting. I was determined to finally take my maternity leave (both pregnancies found me back at work within days of delivering my children) and just hang out for the summer and then find a regular job, working 40 hours a week, maybe even 35, and be happy about it.

    The break lasted six months and I finally went to work at the beginning of last December, where I work 35 hours a week at a totally regular job doing project management for the advancement office at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

    My six months off found me just hanging out in my apartment and at the beach. I didn't do much with my free time and I was totally okay with it (most days). On days where I wanted to nap, I napped. It turns out it's incredibly easy to do nothing, you just have to keep the television off and your social life to a minimum so that peer pressure doesn't put you off your game.

    Recently my old friend Molly Miller transitioned out of a job and now finds herself with lots of free time. She sent around a manifesto and I just had to post it here as so much of my last year has been spent telling myself that "it's okay to do nothing" and you've been living through it with me. Molly makes not doing much sound so empowering, I love it and I just had to share it.

    Manifesto for the Underemployed by Molly Miller

    Getting as much sleep as you want and need will make you feel amazing
    After mid day power yoga & hot shower, it’s ok to change from your yoga pants into a clean pair of yoga pants. Who needs clothes?
    If your mouth feels weird half way through the day, ask yourself, did you forget to brush your teeth?
    Laying down on your bed with the covers over you and napping while the rain softly falls is a very good thing to do after an intense mid day yoga class
    Planning soups and having the time to go get the ingredients and make the soup is not just for Sundays now. That goes for anything you want to make
    Make things
    When all else fails, go to the park and walk or just walk in the neighborhood. Walk to the store and get fennel for soup. Take the long way through the park.
    Go to the museum
    Write a blog
    Catch up with friends
    Call your aunt in the nursing home in Palm Springs
    Make your friends dinner
    Clean your closet
    Detox your liver
    Sit in bed and drink tea and read
    Sit in the park and read
    Only send out resumes to people you really, really, really want to work for or with
    Don’t answer ads
    Send out notes or make calls or have coffee or attend an event with three to five people a week whose work interests you
    Don’t waste any more time looking for jobs than necessary
    Spend as much time being happy as possible
    Play with the cat
    Feel how easy it is to be patient and loving with strangers and friends and family when you are rested
    Volunteer with no expectations

    Thanks Molly, you said all of this so well. For just a little background Molly and I used to work together at Sussex Publishers around 1996 when Sussex used to own Mother Earth News Magazine. Molly was a senior editor and I was the managing editor and we really enjoyed working together. We've been friends ever since 1996 and we haven't collaborated on any projects since our Sussex days. Maybe this blog post should be the start of something beautiful, then again I'm just starting to love doing a whole lot of nothing.

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

    Evanston Artist Dave Ford Competes in ArtPrize 2012

    Today is the first day of ArtPrize, an art contest in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where the public awards more than $250,000 worth of prize money to their favorite artists.

    My husband Dave Ford is competing this year with his Swing Set Drum Kit an interactive sonic sculpture encouraging kids to build rhythmic sounds with a swing set. The piece will be on display in Calder Plaza from Sept. 19 - Oct. 6.

    More than 1,500 artists are competing and the event attracts more than 300,000 visitors to downtown Grand Rapids. You have to be a local to vote but it's worth the day trip to Grand Rapids to check out the art and people watch.

    If you could, send good vibes eastward to Dave Ford and his Swing Set Drum Kit starting today through Sept. 30 when the top 10 artists are announced.

    I am posting event updates and news on Dave's blog at and you can learn more about ArtPrize at

    This sonic sculpture originally showed in the public art festival in El Paso, TX, Chalk the Block where Frederico Villalba shot the image above. Wouldn't it be fantastic to put the Swing Set Drum Kit in the front lawn of the Evanston Art Center? I'll add that to my list of things to do!

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

    Fundraiser: Eat Homemade Pizza, Clothe a Child

    This Wednesday, Homemade Pizza in Evanston will donate $4 of every pizza sale to the Evanston School Children's Clothing Association, a community organization with a simply wonderful mission: "To ensure that no child miss a day of school for need of warm, sturdy clothing".

    Find out more about the organization below and other events you can volunteer at.

    Visit to check out the menu and they deliver!


    ESCCA (Evanston School Children's Clothing Association) is a wonderful, all-volunteer, community organization with a simple mission: "To ensure that no child miss a day of school for need of warm, sturdy clothing".

    Thursday, September 27 is Dewey's first ESCCA volunteer night from 6:45pm-9pm. Volunteers will be helping families pick out a full set of school clothing for their children. Please contact Kelly Siddiqui at or 847-563-8172 if you are able to volunteer or have any questions.

    ESCCA also needs volunteers to help sort clothing donations every other Friday starting Friday, September 14 from 9am-12noon. This is a great way to check out ESCCA and see what they do at the District 65 Administration Building at 1500 McDaniel Avenue.

    Lastly, support ESCCA at the Homemade Pizza Company on Wednesday, September 19. ESCCA will receive a percentage of every large pizza ($4 per pie!), salad, gift card, calzone, and flatbread purchased at the Dempster/Chicago Ave. location between 1:00 and 8:00 p.m. Online orders accepted up to three weeks in This is a wonderful, easy way to support ESCCA--and get out of making dinner. Please spread the word to friends, neighbors, colleagues, and any hungry people you run into.

    Friday, September 14, 2012

    Evanston Newbie: Evanstonians are hipper than they realize, just ask the Millennials!

    The illustration above is from The Atlanic's article "The Cheapest Generation" which talks about just how much kids today love living close to the city and don't love buying cars. Although I usually hate articles that focus on what people buy, I found myself reading the entire thing because it's all about me and my love for Evanston's walkability factor.

    Granted I moved to Evanston from one of the geographically largest cities in America, El Paso, TX, where you could drive on a freeway for 35 minutes and still be "in town", the walkability of Evanston has been a massive treat. In fact, I quite frequently blog about all the places I can walk to, including Pete Millers Steakhouse for raw oysters.

    And when we were researching our relocation project, Evanston got endless amounts of high marks for the mere fact that I can walk to everything from my doctor's office to my dentist's office to the library to a spice store not to mention a Native American Indian Museum.

    And if anyone is worried that the demographics of Evanston will soon shift to a much younger and hipper crowd, you are right to worry! According this article, “People are very eager to create a life that blends the best features of the American suburb—schools still being the primary, although not the only, draw—and urbanity,” says Adam Ducker, a managing director at the real-estate consultancy RCLCO. These are places like Culver City, California, and Evanston, Illinois, where residents can stroll among shops and restaurants or hop on public transportation. Such small cities and town centers lend themselves to tighter, smaller housing developments, whether apartments in the middle of town, or small houses a five-minute drive away. An RCLCO survey from 2007 found that 43 percent of Gen‑Yers would prefer to live in a close-in suburb, where both the houses and the need for a car are smaller."

    Does this mean a boom is coming for Evanston? Is America going to follow me here? I don't think Evanston could be ruined by gentrification but it could use more street traffic and stores, that's always fun!

    Read the full article here and see for yourself. If you are an Evanstonian, you are hipper than you know!

    Tuesday, September 4, 2012

    Eat this: Plum Kuchen from Bennison's Bakery

    I recently purchased a plum kuchen from Bennison's Bakery for $9 and had it not been for the other people sitting around me when it came time to serve it up, I would have eaten the entire thing - all 9" of it (see below).

    Plums are in season which means Bennison's is rolling out plum kuchens everyday for your eating enjoyment. It's a coffee cake type of treat, and if you slice it thin enough (see above), it's not too rich to enjoy with a cup of tea anytime of day.

    I know it seems that I'm heavy on the Bennison's Bakery love on this blog, but I don't love every item they have, but the items they do have that I love, I really, really, really love. And I loved this plum kuchen.


    Thank you for reading my blog "Evanston Newbie", a project that I am using to chronicle my new life in Evanston since moving my family here from El Paso, TX, in 2011. Do you have favorite Evanston bakeries, bike shops, events that you can recommend? Send me an email at and I will post my review on this blog. -Lisa Degliantoni

    Monday, September 3, 2012

    Happy Labor Day from Evanston!

    This photo was taken yesterday at the Hinman Street Block Party. Several families who live on the block invite a fire truck out to spray kids around 2 p.m. as part of the block party which consists of blocking off the street so about 25 children can run amok on bikes and swizzle sticks and scooters all day in the middle of the street. It's super casual and fun with parents bringing out big trays of watermelon and tubs of lemonade throughout the day.

    We live around the corner, not on Hinman, but we got invited by one of the parents and totally said 'yes'! I spent the entire day, sitting on the curb, talking to neighbors, fixing bike chains, filling up cups of water, doing nothing really. And it was so great to spend the entire day outside. Once the sun set, one of the houses set up a screen in the front yard and showed Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Young Frankenstein. We stayed up until 11 p.m. watching movies and chatting.

    I can't think of the last time I spent 12 hours outside! You should really try it sometime if you haven't done it.

    Talking to one of the moms at the party, I told her that this summer has been one of the best of my life - the wine probably helped that conclusion - but as she asked me why and I heard myself defending the assertion (love Evanston, love the beach, kids were gone for three weeks, first time in a bikini (top) in years, etc.) I couldn't help but think it's because of you, lady! Evanston has welcomed my entire family with such kindness and open arms it's unbelievable. We've been invited to parties since the minute we landed and everyone is so nice! A new town full of parties and nice people - who wouldn't have the best summer of their life?

    I am so grateful for so many things these days and hope you've all had an amazing summer too. May your Labor Day be restful and spent with fun people!

    Friday, August 31, 2012

    Chicago Skyline Porn

    My parents are in town from San Francisco and last night we went on a boat and river tour in downtown along the Chicago River. I didn't plan the sunset to happen right when we go to the harbor, I'm not that organized ever.

    This amazing photo is of the sun setting just south of the John Hancock - something my parents and I have never seen in our lives.

    I hope you had at least one night like this during your summer!

    Tuesday, August 28, 2012

    On searching for good Mexican food north of the border, why racial profiling should NOT be a part of making new friends and guacamole recipes from El Paso

    Who am I to review restaurants? My palette is not so developed that I can decipher the unique flavorings that make up a mole sauce. I am not well versed in the culinary arts and magic of what goes on in a kitchen. And by no means have I eaten at a 5-star establishment more than once. So do I really know food? Or am I just another Yelpie yapping about customer services issues and the font on a menu?

    I’ll own it, I’m just another yapper on Yelp joining the great food conversation exploding on the World Wide Web and today I’m writing about guacamole one of the best inventions to come out of Mexico. And specifically, I’d like to talk about the guacamole at Little Mexican Café on Church Street in Evanston. I really like the guacamole there and I’m going to spend this blog post writing about it.

    Let’s start with the definition according to Wikipedia, Guacamole: is an avocado-based sauce that originated with the Aztecs in Mexico. In addition to its use in modern Mexican cuisine it has also become part of American cuisine as a dip, condiment and salad ingredient. It is traditionally made by mashing ripe avocados with a molcajete (mortar and pestle) with sea salt. Some recipes call for tomato, onion, lime juice, chili, yogurt and/or additional seasonings.

    Now we’re all on the same page, right? Not really. Guacamole is like queso (another fabulous invention from Mexico that varies per household) in that it can be made many, many, many different ways. And thanks to a 10+ year stint living in El Paso (a city that shares a border and much of the population with Mexico) I was introduced to many different types of guacamole. The strangest? Three avocadoes, ½ cup milk, and lime juice in a blender. Strange but delicious!

    When my family left El Paso for Evanston, we were all concerned about the pending lack of awesome Mexican food in our futures despite the fact that tons of Mexican Nationals live in Chicagoland. It’s not enough to just go to a Mexican restaurant and buy a dish. For us we would need home cooked Mexican food to fill the gap and for that we would need to make friends from Mexico! That would be hard because racial profiling should not be part of making friends. Not only is it disingenuous but using someone for their cooking potential is wrong and too complicated. What if all that time hanging out and getting to know one another, they finally invite you over for dinner and A. their cooking stinks or B. they cook you Chinese food? It’s too risky!

    We would need to shelve looking for new friends from Mexico and we’d just have to eat out at Mexican food restaurants! Oh white people problems!

    I would be remiss here not to throw a bone to our good friend Rick Bayless, who needs a bone thrown from Evanston Newbie like Lake Michigan needs water. But Rick has been good to us and we’ve eaten numerous, delicious, authentic Mexican meals at XOCO and we’re grateful. But as you know, I need a place I can walk to and I’m not walking to XOCO from Evanston!

    You can imagine my happiness when I discovered Little Mexican Café on Church Street which is NOT very little but is VERY Mexican. The menu is traditional, the food has just the right amount of lard, and everyone who works there is speaking Spanish. The trifecta is working in favor of good Mexican food at Little Mexican Café and we can all walk there.

    So besides the margaritas, the main item that I enjoy the most on the menu is the guacamole because it’s made to order in front of you from woman with a cart holding all kinds of ingredients. I can add anything I want to the recipe allowing me to revisit some of the homes of friends in El Paso all the way from Evanston. Granted there’s no blender or milk, I can make it extra spicy with lot of jalapenos or just with limes and tomatoes or really chunky with tons of onions. The avocadoes are always fresh and the serving size is huge. It’s a great deal and with a margarita can actually work as a meal. It’s so yummy that I’ve even eaten it out of the container with a spoon when I’ve run out of chips.

    In honor of my old El Paso chums, I collected a few guacamole recipes on Facebook and will continue to update this post with them as they come in, see below.

    So far, Little Mexican Café has done a great job filling the Mexican food gap in our lives and we’ve really only just started exploring. My older son loves the tamales from the Tamales Spaceship food truck and my husband liked the tacos from Taco Diablo. I’ll keep you posted of all the places we try but only if they are yummy – I only spread the good word on this blog.

    If you’ve got a hankering for some guacamole, take your best recipe over to Little Mexican Café and have it made to order while you sip a margarita. I highly recommend it. And who am I? Just some Yelper yapping about food on the World Wide Web! Buen provecho!

    Guacamole recipes from some El Paso friends:
    Zac - Avocados, lime, garlic, red onion, tomato, salt, and pepper
    Marina - Avocados, lime, garlic, red onion, tomato, jalapeno, salt, and pepper
    Heriberto - Avocados, lime, garlic, red onion, tomato, jalapeno, cilantro, salt, and pepper
    David - Avocados, lime, garlic, red onion, tomato, jalapeno, cottage cheese, salt, and pepper
    Katie - Avocados, lime, salt, and pepper
    Barry - 3 avocados, 2 roma tomatoes, juice from 1 lime, cilantro, salt, onion and one recipe called for cayenne pepper (this guy is a very new friend and he is NOT from El Paso, but I felt compelled to include him).


    Thank you for reading my blog "Evanston Newbie", a project that I am using to chronicle my new life in Evanston since moving my family here from El Paso, TX, in 2011. Do you have favorite Evanston bakeries, bike shops, events that you can recommend? Send me an email at and I will post my review on this blog. -Lisa Degliantoni

    Monday, August 27, 2012

    Graffiti I Love in Evanston: SMILE

    This was so great to see while I was walking around Evanston on Saturday in the muggy heat simply because at the time, I wasn't smiling. And when I saw this? I smiled!

    For more photos of Graffiti I Love, enter graffiti in the search bar above.

    And if you see any graffiti in Evanston that you think I might love, snap a pic and email it to me at


    Thank you for reading my blog "Evanston Newbie", a project that I am using to chronicle my new life in Evanston since moving my family here from El Paso, TX, in 2011. Do you have favorite Evanston bakeries, bike shops, events that you can recommend? Send me an email at and I will post my review on this blog. -Lisa Degliantoni

    Friday, August 24, 2012

    Food News: Moe the sourdough starter turns 11! Bennison's Bakery celebrates with half off sourdough rounds all weekend!

    In food news, starter turning 11 is pretty big! And Bennison's Bakery of Evanston is celebrating with a huge sale (1/2 off) and cupcakes this weekend!


    In August of 2001, in Minneapolis, Minnesota Bennison's sourdough starter, Moe, was born. Flour and water were mixed together and left to gather natural, airborn yeast. Every day since, without fail, Moe has been fed a constant diet of unbleached, unbromated hard red winter wheat flour. Each day Moe goes to work producing the delicious sourdough bread with its classic tang that Bennison's custmers have come to love.

    Come join the party August 24th, 25th, and 26th at Bennison's Bakery. We'll have half-price sourdough loaves and FREE mini cupcakes!

    Bennison's is located at 1000 Davis Street in Evanston! See you there!

    Thursday, August 23, 2012

    This Saturday: Evanston's Lakefront Walking Tour

    Saturday, August 25 at 11 a.m.

    Discover the rich, varied history of Evanston’s lakefront, from lifesaving stations to shipwrecks, from boathouses to warehouses, from parks and private residences to piers, beaches, landscaping and more.

    Tours begin at 11 a.m. and end at 12:30 p.m. All tours begin at the Evanston History Center, 225 Greenwood Street, Evanston. Admission is $20, $15 for EHC members.

    More info: or call (847)475-3410.

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012

    Eddie Spaghetti the Meatballs are Ready Degliantoni is in the Hizouse!

    This is a photo of my father Eddie Spaghetti the Meatballs are Ready Degliantoni in all his gloriousness in my backyard in Evanston. My mother and father are visiting for two weeks and we’re showing them Chicagoland for the first time. They’re from the Bay Area and they’ve never been to the Midwest. Be nice if you see them walking down the street please.

    Let’s play a quick round of trivia. What’s in my dad’s glass? Nope, not apple juice, silly! That’s Jack Daniels on the rocks with a splash of water, his favorite drink.

    And next to him on the picnic table is a leg of lamb from Costco, only the best. He’s sitting there waiting for the grill to warm up. That’s how I found him yesterday when I came home from work. That man looks happy and healthy for 75 and for being my father.

    I am thrilled to have my parents in town so that I can show off my new city and life and apartment. Normally I see them about once or twice a year, for two weeks max. When I turned 18, I moved more than eight hours away and I’ve been moving farther and farther away ever since. My distance from my childhood home has little to do with how much or little I like my parents at the time and everything to do with my gypsy blood.

    As I look at this photo I think about me at 75, cue the Beatles tune “When I’m 64”. Will I be in one of my son’s homes cooking them my amazing pasta sauce, sipping Prosseco? What will my relationship with my children look like in 35 years and where in the world will they be living? They better like me and I better have the money to visit them!

    Both of my parents think Evanston and the North Shore are gorgeous and cannot believe how pretty it is. The trees! The huge houses! Lake Michigan! I’m so happy they like the area; it’s much more fun to hang with enthusiastic parents vs. worried parents.

    When we were leaving El Paso last year, they were sad and nervous about our pending move to Chicago. “What about your great friends and the kid’s fantastic school?” they said. They brought up good questions and legitimate worries but we told them we had done our homework and everything would be just fine.

    Yesterday they met several of our new friends (thank you Lori and Kate for being so darn friendly and nice) who gave them the perfect impression of the Midwestern temperament that makes me truly love people from this region. They also got to see the boys’ school and we very impressed by the lovely grounds and new building. All this and a huge scoop of Hartigan’s Ice Cream made them very excited for our new life and new home.

    This is a photo of a happy man relaxing on a summer night in the backyard right before he grills a delicious leg of lamb. After this photo my husband, two kids and mom all joined my dad at the table and we had a fantastic dinner, outside in our backyard, in our new city of Evanston. I was way too busy eating Ed’s delicious leg of lamb to waste time taking a photo!


    Thank you for reading my blog "Evanston Newbie", a project that I am using to chronicle my new life in Evanston since moving my family here from El Paso, TX, in 2011. Do you have favorite Evanston bakeries, bike shops, events that you can recommend? Send me an email at and I will post my review on this blog. -Lisa Degliantoni

    Monday, August 20, 2012

    Mom, this doesn’t feel like home.

    After a three week vacation in Northern California staying with their grandparents, aunt, uncles and cousins, my boys return home today. This is the second summer in a row where “coming home” means coming to Evanston and not El Paso. Despite the year living here, I worry it still won’t feel like home because as the title of this blog notes, my boys frequently tell me “Mom, this doesn’t feel like home”.

    Although I totally believe there is merit in NOT listening to MOST things children say, I find it hard to ignore them when they tell me that their new home doesn’t feel like "home". They can’t really back it up and give concrete reasons, both of them just say “I don’t know, but it doesn’t feel like home.”

    I hear myself responding “well boys, home isn’t always a physical location. It can be a feeling or a smell or temperature. Don’t worry about recreating what you used to have in El Paso but instead working on creating what you want in Evanston.” This normally just gets me blank stares.

    For parents who move children numerous times because of career demands how do they recreate new homes? It takes so long to make good friends; there must be a speedier way to create belonging. I really haven’t done the research on creating a new home and a sense of belonging because I wanted our experience to be organic. Other than talking in a friendly tone to every human I’ve come across in our new town over the last year, I’ve let my children pick their friends and how they make them. I’ve let them pick the park where they want to hang and their favorite restaurant. More than anything, I’ve just given them a love for walking and that’s how they’ve discovered their new city. I think they’ve done a great job creating their new home/life all on their own but…

    Will they come home today and say, “This doesn’t feel like home?” I hope the banners and the fresh flowers and the bag of Chicago style popcorn and the cake (see above) make them feel like they’re home. I’ll let you know what happens.

    Friday, August 17, 2012

    How this blog landed me and my story on making friends after 40 in the pages of the New York Times!

    This summer has been awesome! And I hope you are having an awesome summer too.

    The months of July and August have been filled with vacations, visitors, a new apartment and a three week respite from parenting. I’m not making excuses for posting only three things in August on this blog, but I’ve been busy having fun this summer and much of the fun centers around falling farther in love with Evanston.

    If anyone is looking for a city to relocate to, relocate to Evanston! Really. Upcoming blog entries to prove my love for Evanston include; “Evanston’s Walkability, what’s between me and the train I commute to work on”, “Lisa D. Food Wars – who makes better guacamole? Little Mexican Café or Café Diablo?” and “100 Reasons my parents are so happy for me and my family having moved to Evanston”.

    As you know, I’ve been using the Evanston Newbie blog to track my family’s move to Evanston last summer. Blog topics include; discovering new stores, missing old friends, building new traditions, choosing a school, and especially making new friends and building a new social life.

    No one likes to start over but I find starting over socially to be one of the most taxing projects of all – mainly because I am a very social creature, demand lots of love from friends and strangers alike and need to feel as though EVERYONE wants me at the party. So imagine the pain and anxiety I felt moving to a new city where I knew ONE person!

    Adding to the anxiety was the message that everyone had been sending my way “don’t plan on making any new friends as no one makes friends after 40”. I was turning 40 only a year after moving to Evanston! Would I make no new friends? Would I be floating on an ice berg of isolation while people roamed the streets in laughing packs around me?

    I found making new friends in Evanston not taxing or impossible at all! In fact, I found so many people who I really liked that I found myself dealing with the pressures of choosing who to like. But all around, it has socially been a really positive experience so of course I blogged about it and then Tweeted up my blog post – “40 Lessons Learned Moving from El Paso, TX to Evanston, IL.”

    Several days later I received an email from a writer who was working on an article on making friends after the age of 40 asking if I would like to be interviewed for the article. Turning down the chance to talk about myself is NOT in my nature, so I said “yes” and even gave my cell.

    Then the call came from Alex Williams of the New York Times Style section and I just about died! I really enjoy Williams’ work, always read him in the Sunday Times and couldn’t believe I was going to be a source for one of his stories. For a follow up to a previous article on “How to break up with friends” he was writing an article on the difficulties of making friends after 40. He saw my Tweet, read my blog and like a real journalist, reached out to me.

    Of course after several phone calls and emails with Williams’ to discuss my experiences making friends after 40, I wasn’t 100% sure A. the article would run or B. I would make the cut as one of the sources. But when the call came from the New York Times photo editor to book a portrait session with photographer Sally Ryan, I was 75% sure they would use me.

    Several weeks (more than 8) went by and nothing. I was hesitant to tell anyone about the chance that I might be in the Sunday New York Times (besides my poor husband) because what if it didn’t run? That would be awkward to brag and then be cut from the story.

    About two weeks before the story was slotted to run, Williams’ called to say it would run in two weeks and that I would be in it for sure. Now the worry over the photo. What if it looked terrible what if it didn’t run at all? In two Sundays all my worries were over and the story ran with an awesome photo by Sally Ryan and a smart perspective by Alex Williams. More than 400 readers commented on the story and NPR did a news story on it.

    That is how this blog landed me in the pages of the New York Times! Alex Williams, a journalist, was using Twitter to do research on a topic he was interested in and found me. It’s really that simple and that awesome. (My Twitter handle is @TheLisaDShow)

    You can still believe in journalism and you can believe me when I say that making new friends is easy as long you continue to find people you like and by 40, we’ve met such a small amount of people on this planet, the odds are really in your favor!

    Click here to read “Friends of a Certain Age. Why Is It Hard to Make Friends Over 30?” by Alex Williams.

    Fact checking corrections; I am 40 not 39, I moved to Chicago from El Paso, TX, and I am a Project Manager for an educational fundraising office.

    Thursday, August 9, 2012

    Graffiti I Love: Foxy

    My super sleuth Man on the Street found this little gem in Evanston recently. Oh how I love graffiti that rocks!

    Snap pics of your favorite graffiti and send it to so that I can include it on this blog.

    Search "graffiti" in the field above and find all kinds of visually stimulating but not permanent graffiti around Evanston.

    Friday, August 3, 2012

    Right Now: FREE Smores Creations at Bennison's Bakery in Evanston

    Come in, ask for Sam or Bragita and say "I'm goin' campin'" and while supplies last you'll get a FREE S'morejonz.

    Then go back to Bennison's on August 10, National Smores Day, and buy one of these delights. OR buy 20 and become the MOST popular person at work.

    Fan Bennison's Bakery right now on Facebook and show your love for their delicious treats!

    Info: Friday, August 10th is National S'mores day. We will be celebrating by offering these S'morejonz, on the weekend of 10,11 & 12. Yeasted donut filled with chocolate custard, topped with toasted marshmallow, broken graham crackers and milk chocolate drizzle.

    1000 Davis Street
    Evanston, IL 60201
    (847) 328-9434

    Thursday, August 2, 2012

    This Weekend in Evanston: Free Arts Festival

    From the City of Evanston website:

    Free Admission

    Since 1973, the City of Evanston has presented the annual Evanston Lakeshore Arts Festival. The festival takes place the first weekend in August on Evanston's stunning, historic lakefront at Dawes Park, Sheridan Road at Church St.

    The festival showcases live jazz and classical music, a silent art auction, and the popular Children's Craft Tent. The festival hosts a dozen restaurateurs serving a variety of culinary delights.

    Free parking is available at the Northwestern University parking lot, three blocks north of festival site (look for the signs). A free shuttle bus runs non-stop between the parking lot and the festival site between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Dawes Park's official address is 1700 Sheridan Road, Evanston. For more information, please call 847/448-8260.

    The Evanston Lakeshore Arts Festival is presented by the City of Evanston’s Cultural Arts Division. This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

    August 4-5, 2012: Saturday & Sunday; 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

    Tuesday, July 31, 2012

    11 Things I Learned About ME after Being Married to Dave Ford for 11 Years

    Today is my wedding anniversary. 11 years ago Dave Ford and I were married in a small Episcopal church, Saint Alban’s in Central El Paso (I could see it from my bathroom window), by Father Louie. Father Louie was a nutjob of a priest, from England, who lived outside of Las Cruces, New Mexico, on several acres of land that he dedicated to saving abandoned animals of all kinds. He is dead now; our second son is named after him and several other awesome versions of the name Louis from relatives and friends.

    I can safely that after 11 years of marriage the one thing I have become a total expert on is ME. When you spend every minute of every day of every year with the same human, experiencing endless amounts of experiences together, you get a fulltime commentator on your behavior and reactions to your life. In REAL time. (Of course this is assuming you’ve married an honest human.)

    Instead of posting about how much I love my husband (barf) and how awesome our marriage is (it better be, considering how hard we work at it) and how I grow every day in my love for him (more like my love of wine), I thought I would post 11 Things I Learned About ME after 11 Years of Marriage, which is so much more my speed. (And of course I've learned more than 11 things about ME in the last 11 years but the number had to match the anniversary!) Here goes;

    1. There are numerous facts about simple things (i.e. the temperature that water boils) that never stuck to my brain, making it essential that I raise children with a partner who has a brain that holds facts.
    2. I am a connector.
    3. I am a collector of experiences not things.
    4. Moving and geographical exploration is in my DNA.
    5. Physical activity is essential for my spirit.
    6. Water is something I need to live by in order to feel connected to the earth.
    7. I love meeting new people.
    8. In new social situations, I ask more questions than I answer.
    9. Fast and furious is my speed.
    10. I’m a great teacher.
    11. I’m a consistent and disciplined mother.

    Now of course you probably expected that list to include a few more negatives than all those positives but I attribute my positive self-awareness to the genius choice I made in my life partner Dave Ford. My husband is a very honest man, who keeps it real at all times. And although I truly believe he loves me more than ice cream and pizza, I also believe that he loves me honestly and isn’t afraid to always provide me honest reactions to my life and my life decisions. Plenty of people surround themselves with “yes” people and people that adore them blindly. But I’ve got a hunch that if you are going to work with someone for a bunch of years through a bunch of experiences, the basis for that partnership should be honesty and real-ness.

    I texted Dave this morning that marrying him was and still is one of the “best decisions of my life” and I meant it, for real.

    Monday, July 30, 2012

    It brings me great pleasure to purchase my brother’s music on iTunes

    If I weren’t so busy bragging about myself on this blog, I’d take the time to brag about my brother Mark degli Antoni. Yes, he spells his name differently than I do (Degliantoni) and yes, he is the famous keyboardist from Soul Coughing and most recently David Byrne’s world tour.

    He is also an incredibly gifted composer who does film scores for the likes of William Wegman (Hardly Boys) and Werner Herzog (Into the Abyss). In fact just today I opened my email to find a link to his most recent score for Into the Abyss on sale on iTunes. How fun it was to buy my brother’s work and support his artistic endeavors, with just a few clicks.

    I always complain that the Internet and Apple products were created only to shop but that’s so not true. One of the most exciting manifestations of the World Wide Web is the ability for artists to collaborate and present their works to a global audience for little to no cost.

    Visit iTunes here and give a listen to Mark’s haunting score and visit to listen to more of his work in a variety of styles.

    And don’t worry, I’ll be back to bragging about myself soon enough.

    Thursday, July 19, 2012

    Humbled by a Woodpecker

    Last night walking home from the beach with my older son Miles, we saw a male Downy woodpecker eating ants off the bark of a tree. With his red hat of feathers, he jackhammered his head into the bark; too busy eating to fly away as we gawked at him from inches away.

    I was so excited and in a hushed hurried tone told Miles, “Oh I wish I had my camera! Last time I shot a picture of a female, she doesn’t have the read feathers on her head. And I posted it on my blog and you wouldn’t believe this, but more people have read that post that anything else! It’s amazing the traffic that a little post on a woodpecker gets!”

    Miles looked at me in utter disgust and said “Mom, that’s awful. People don’t even come to your blog to read about you? They care more about a dumb woodpecker? That’s weak.”

    I was about to challenge his scathing judgment on my reader’s lack of interest in me but I let it be.

    Parents have to pick their battles with their children (and all children for that matter) very wisely.

    And part of me thought, “Go right ahead, child. Believe that people think a woodpecker is more interesting than your mother.”


    Photo credit:


    Thank you for reading my blog "Evanston Newbie", a project that I am using to tell stories about my new life in Evanston. You can also find my stories on

    Sunday, July 15, 2012

    Collecting dead bugs for the dudes, spending way too much money on summer fun and thoughts on how to raise grateful children

    Pictured above are two Cicada carcasses I recently collected off the sidewalk for my children. Ask yourself, “do I know anyone who collects dead bugs for their children?” Now you do.

    These dead bugs represent the tip of the iceberg on my recent obsession with raising grateful children. But first to understand the depth of this obsession we’ll go back, far back, to the days when my kids were really young. Back in the day in our house, if I bought a bag of M&Ms, I doled out as many pieces as the children were old. If you were 6, you got 6 M&Ms candies in your hand AND you were psyched you weren’t 2 years old. Peers without children thought this practice was cruel, peers with children felt intense pity for my boys.

    But I come from the lonely school that only deprivation can make the emotions of gratefulness come to life. And I was determined to raise children who were grateful for anything I gave them to include pancakes or a college education. Ungrateful children are at the top of my list of children I abhor. I also abhor children without self-control and bad manners, i.e. children with LAZY parents.

    So as this summer approached and I found myself writing large checks to Evanston Parks and Rec for summer camps and a super cool babysitter who would take my boys to the beach everyday, I became totally obsessed with this single thought “those boys better be grateful for the massive financial sacrifices we are making for them this summer! My parents didn’t send me to camp! I had to sit and stare at the wall all summer! Kids these day!!!!” My boys’ were out of luck before summer even started, as I just knew they’d be ungrateful!

    The best piece of advice my mother ever gave me was “If you have a problem with your husband, take it right to him, don’t sit around and talk about it with your girlfriends, there’s nothing they can do about it.” So, I jumped the gun and went straight to my children before they could even display an ungrateful attitude for one second. I sat them down and gave them a big talk and told them how much work it was for us to produce an amazing summer and that I expected them to be grateful for summer camp, their awesome babysitter AND Lake Michigan. Throughout my speech, they just stared at me and said, “Thank you mom, we are very grateful for summer camp.” I couldn’t have scripted a better response!

    As I read books like Willpower and Hymn of the Tiger Mother, I marvel at Chinese-American parents who are able to raise grateful, disciplined and high performing children with the sheer premise that it’s just what’s expected. I want kids who understand what’s expected of them and that includes being grateful for the sacrifices I make as a parent, everyday of my life. It’s my job to communicate that, which is why we’re reading this blog post as a family after dinner tonight. I’ll let you know how it goes.