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Friday, May 31, 2013

Saturday Night: Evanston Green Ball Raises Funds for Ecology Center

From the City of Evanston website:

The Evanston Environmental Association has announced that "Jonas Friddle and The Majority" will headline the 2013 Evanston Green Ball, Evanston's big "green" party. The Chicago-based "orchestral folk" group is known for its "huge sound combining string quartet, horns, and rock and roll drums” that inspires foot-stomping and dancing,"
The Green Ball, a brainchild of the Evanston Environmental Association (EEA) and the City of Evanston, was designed to benefit one of Evanston’s most valuable institutions, the Ecology Center. The Green Ball will take place from 7:00 to 11:00 p.m. on Friday, May 31 at the Levy Center, 300 Dodge Avenue in Evanston.
The Green Ball continues its tradition with the “Taste of Evanston,” showcasing restaurants such as Bravo, Creperie St. Germain, Koi, Prairie Moon and Terra Bistro, to name a few. Admission includes sustainably made Goose Island Green Line Pale Ale and Green River soft drinks. Attendees can also purchase glasses of organic wines from WineStyles.
The Green Ball also continues the tradition of celebrating Evanston’s major “green” organizations with an information station highlighting their accomplishments in the city. As EEA President Fred Schneider puts it, “The Green Ball is our opportunity to support the Ecology Center, as well as celebrate the contributions made by many hard-working, diverse, smart citizens, active environmentalists and community leaders to create a completely sustainable city.”
Local television journalist and Northwestern University graduate Dan Ponce is the MC of the evening’s festivities, which include a number of non-stop activities and unique opportunities for everyone. Guests can:
• Have their portrait taken with many of the Ecology Center’s famous critters, such as crowd favorites Betty the Boa Constrictor and Bernie, the 25-pound African Tortoise
• Decide which raffle packages to take a chance on, such as the Urban Adventurer (Patagonia gear, kayaking trips and paddleboard lessons) or Behind the Scenes (access to see Field Museum treasures not on display and labs where research is conducted)
• Purchase a cork for the “wine pull” and take home a nice bottle of organic wine, certificates for green services, dinners and more . . .
“The annual Green Ball is our premiere fundraising event and we’re grateful for it, and it’s also our chance to say ‘thank you’ to the community for supporting us throughout the year,” says Claire Alden, Ecology Center Program Manager. Catherine Hurley, Evanston’s Coordinator of Sustainability Programs, added:  “Evanston is comprised of people, organizations and businesses that are always ready to support the city and those making a difference, and the Ecology Center is certainly making a difference in our lives.”
Tickets, priced at $65, can be purchased at the Evanston Ecology Center at 2024 McCormick Blvd. To purchase tickets online or for more information, visit the Green Ball web site>>> . Ticket price includes food, soft drinks, beer and entertainment. For more information, please call 3-1-1 (847-448-4311).
The Green Ball is supported by the following top-level sponsors: Archer Patterson Family Foundation, Walgreens, Roberts Architects, Citizens' Greener Evanston, Evanston RoundTable, Northside Toyota, Whole Foods Evanston and Natural Awakenings.
The Evanston Ecology Center, built in 1974 by a group of local citizens and managed by the City of Evanston, serves as a focal point for environmental education and volunteerism in the community, offering wide-ranging educational programs to the local community. The Evanston Environmental Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to achieving a sustainable Evanston and the long-term success of the Evanston Ecology Center and its staff in their efforts to provide quality environmental and sustainability education to children and adults in the community.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Food News: Tony Hu brings Lao Sze Chuan to Evanston

As you all know, I am new to the region so I didn't fully comprehend the impact of this news but Chinese food star and restaurateur Tony Hu is opening a Lao Sze Chuan in Evanston this August. And this is fantastic because Tony cooks delicious, spicy, inventive Chinese food.

According to restaurateur Tony Hu will be opening another location of his famous Lao Sze Chuan this summer in Evanston at 1637 Orrington Ave., adding to the 11 restaurants that make up the Tony Gourmet Group, which has locations in China Town, Schaumburg and Chicago, among others, the Daily Northwestern reported. Hu says he plans to bring authentic Chinese cuisine to Evanston with dishes such as spicy hot pot and boiled beef in spicy Sichuan sauce.  

From www.tonygourmetgroup.comOpened in 1998, Lao Sze Chuan has become the most beloved Chinese restaurant for Chicagoans, and gradually gained its reputation by providing the authentic Sichuan cuisine with high quality materials and ingredients. In 1999, Lao Sze Chuan was recognized by Chicago Tribune as "One of the Best" and received a "three fork" ranking, which was a very high award for Chinese restaurants at that time. "One Style for one dish, a hundred dishes have a hundred different taste", that's what some of our frequent customers said keeps them coming back. At the present, Lao Sze Chuan has many special Grade A chefs who are from Sze Chuan China, to provide customers the most authentic tasting food. As the best representation of Chinese food, Lao Sze Chuan has been named the Best Chinese Restaurant in Chicago by the main stream food columns and won “Bib Gourmand” award from Michelin Guide for year 2012 & 2013.


Thank you for reading my blog Evanston Newbie, a blog dedicated to helping you too fall in love with Evanston, just like I did. If you have any questions or need to get in touch with me about this blog, Evanston, or anything else you can email me at Also feel free to send me announcements about upcoming Evanston events and I will promote them here!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Evanston Beaches are Officially Open so Buy Your Beach Passes

The days of walking and running along the beaches freely are over! If you want to enjoy the swimming areas and lakefront beaches anywhere in Evanston from now until Labor Day weekend, you'll need a beach pass. Info below from the City of Evanston website:

Season beach tokens are available for purchase at the Morton Civic Center and all recreation community centers. Evanston’s five public swimming beaches open for the season on Saturday, May 25.
beach token is a season pass that is valid from the time of purchase through Labor Day. Until Friday, June 14, 2013, tokens will be sold at a discounted rate of $26 for an Evanston or Skokie resident and $42 for a nonresident. Starting Saturday, June 15, a season beach token will be $34 for an Evanston or Skokie resident and $58 for a nonresident.
The City of Evanston and the Skokie Park District have a reciprocal arrangement that allows Skokie residents to buy season beach tokens at Evanston resident rates and allows Evanston residents to buy Skokie season pool passes at Skokie resident rates.
Daily passes may be purchased at beach entrances; a daily pass is $6 for children age 1-11 and $8 for people 12 years and older. Admission for children under age 1 is free.
Based on family size and income, Evanston residents may qualify for beach token fee assistance and a free beach token program.
The Mayor's Summer Recreation Program includes free beach admission for Evanston teens age 13-18 through a 10-punch pass. Starting May 22, teens who may not otherwise be able to go to the beach may pick up a pass at community centers and the main Evanston Public Library. Proof of Evanston residency is required. For more information, please call 311 (847-448-4311).
Save $$ and buy your tokens by June 14! Click here for more info.

Thank you for reading my blog Evanston Newbie, a blog dedicated to helping you too fall in love with Evanston, just like I did. If you have any questions or need to get in touch with me about this blog, Evanston, or anything else you can email me at Also feel free to send me announcements about upcoming Evanston events and I will promote them here!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Photos: Another Great YEA! Festival in Evanston

Oak Tree Older Than Frodo Baggins on Evanston Garden Walk

According to the AOL hyperlocal media behemoth Patch, there is an oak tree in Evanston that is more than 600 years old and you can see it as part of this year's Evanston Garden Walk on June 30, 2013.

Originally the City of Evanston was only going to feature 150 year old trees on the Walk as part of Evanston's 150 year celebration, but this old oak snuck in.

Located at the home of Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin and his wife Gloria Callaci, this burr oak tree is more than 600 years old, which technically is older than Frodo Baggins.

Click here to read the full article and learn more about the Garden Walk.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

This Saturday is YEA! Day Arts Festival in Evanston

26th Annual Young Evanston Artists Festival
Saturday, May 18th, 2013
10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Dempster St. & Chicago Ave., Evanston

Tentative Schedule:

4 a.m In the dark of the morning on YEA! Day, a small group of volunteers can be seen loading display panels off a U-Haul truck and placing them at designated school locations.

6 a.m. A volunteer crew arrives and four teams put up all the panels in preparation for the teachers.

7 a.m. Another volunteer group arrives to blow up balloons and tie them on parking meters, lampposts and trees.

7:30 a.m. House of Rental arrives

8 a.m. Teachers arrive with art work to set up their schools’ presentation

8 a.m. Volunteers arrive to set up the Silent Auction

8 a.m. A crew arrives to set up the sound system for the performing arts

9 a.m. Volunteers arrive to set up the YEA! booths where baseball hats, t-shirts, tattoos, snacks and refreshments are sold

10 a.m. Crowds arrive. We have ignition and lift off: YEA! Day explodes with excitement and enthusiasm

4 p.m. The YEA! festival comes to a close and is dismantled piece by piece by all of the teachers and volunteers. But the YEA! program, itself, continues…influencing school arts programs throughout the year.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Dining News: Kids Eat Free in Evanston, When and Where

I like to post this list every once in a while so that you remember there ARE benefits to dining out with children*, especially when it is FREE.

From the Celtic Knot to Flat Top Grill, Evanston has several restaurants where kids eat free once a week, click here to see the full list on

*Please note that although I am posting this information on my blog, it's really only for your benefit as I personally detest eating out with children from an economic stand point. No one should be paid to serve my children, ever, especially if they are NOT going to devour what's on the plate. But if the meal is FREE, I can give in, a little. So you are welcome. Bon appetit.

Monday, May 13, 2013

May 19: Ten Thousand Ripples Project Community Event

This photo is from Dewey Elementary in Evanston, where there are going to be nine other Buddhas installed. Click here for a slide show of other Buddha heads.

This is from a press release sent out by Dewey Elementary:

You might have noticed the emerging Buddha in Dewey's Peace Garden. It was placed there as part of Ten Thousand Ripples, a project that uses art as a catalyst to foster dialogue about peace and non-violence. Dewey is one of ten sites in Evanston included in this project, and Evanston is one of only ten communities (and the only one outside of Chicago) that is participating in Ten Thousand Ripples. In addition to the sculptures, all Evanstonians are invited to participate in related community events.

On Sunday, May 19 from 1-4 pm, please join neighbors and friends for "Coming Together, Bridging Differences" - an afternoon of art, music, peace and fun at Twiggs Park (Simpson and Bridge Street; park along Simpson, Dodge or at the Ecology Center lot. Alternate rain location is Fleetwood-Jourdain Center, 1655 Foster Street). Weave an interconnected web with Sarah Lanig; join the Drumming Circle with Rhythm Revolution; and create peace sidewalk drawings with Daisy Hu.

Ten Thousand Ripples
Changing Worlds

Ten Thousand Ripples is supported by contributions from the Friends of the Arts Fund of the Evanston Community Foundation, the Weisblat Family Foundation, Albert Pick, Jr. Fund; the Chicago Community Trust; the Field Foundation of Illinois; the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; the Lumpkin Family Foundation; the Raven Foundation; the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation; Target; and a host of generous individuals.


Thank you for reading my blog Evanston Newbie, a blog dedicated to helping you too fall in love with Evanston, just like I did. If you have any questions or need to get in touch with me about this blog, Evanston, or anything else you can email me at Also feel free to send me announcements about upcoming Evanston events and I will promote them here!

Leapfrog Online wins 2013 Illinois Technology Association CityLIGHTS’ Trailblazer Award

How exciting for the talented team at Leapfrog Online! Leapfrog (not to be confused with the children's reading toy) is an Evanston based company known for its innovative approach to developing digital marketing programs.

They recently won the Illinois Technology Association CityLIGHTS’ Trailblazer Award and below is a thank you note to everyone who supported them on the way there!

You believed in our commitment to innovation and because of that we're happy to announce Leapfrog Online won the 2013 Illinois Technology Association CityLIGHTS’ Trailblazer Award! The award serves as a reinforcement of Leapfrog Online as a true innovator in the area of digital marketing and we’re honored by this recognition.

The annual CityLIGHTS awards is the Midwest technology community's premier award event, honoring some of the outstanding technology companies, executives, and advocates in Illinois each year. The Trailblazing Award is presented to the company that has developed or introduced an ingenious, non-traditional and innovative way of doing business or creating a culture that has produced significant value and growth for the company.

Leapfrog Online was recognized for redefining how agencies work with brands to develop holistic digital marketing solutions that directly drive revenue growth. We take great pride in our role as trailblazers, and we sincerely thank you for your support.

Congratulations to the Leapfrog team!

Photo of the Day: Trash can

I don't always look closely at the trash cans in Evanston but this one caught my eye. Feel free to make this your screen saver!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Food Review: Let Old Town Social Host a Party in Your Mouth

Granted Old Town Social is not in Evanston, I highly recommend taking the CTA to Chicago and choosing this restaurant as your next dining adventure. If you have the time, let Old Town Social host a party in your mouth, here's how:

Short version: The variety of delicious food at Old Town Social makes this a smart dining out choice for any occasion. It helps that the meats are created in the charcuterie in the basement and most of the cheeses arrive from Wisconsin. The fish tacos are new and worth a try, but stick with the meat – the burger and charcuterie platter will keep you coming back.

This is a photo of the spicy duck wings and really, you don't need to know anything else about this place other than it serves these magic jewels of messy deliciousness. But if you need info on the rest of the menu keep reading.

Very long version: Dining out in Chicago and the surrounding burbs is stressful because you always know, in the back of your mind, that you could you be eating something better, someplace else, even if the meal you are currently eating is amazing. And when I eat something delicious I always first fill with joy quickly followed by regret knowing the next time I have a taco at a different place, I’ll yearn for the taco at the first place, no matter how yummy. I have a dining out disorder and it makes being me very tricky. So you can imagine how anxious I was on my way to Old Town Social to eat and review the place!

Lucky for me when it comes to dining out I’m anxious only about one thing (not the service or d├ęcor) - the food. Because I’m married to a fantastic cook who can whip up gourmet grub in an instant for $1, taking the time to shower and get a sitter and travel to a table, is a huge production and I better be wowed by what I eat or I am angry, not annoyed, but angry. So it’s a good thing that on my first visit to Old Town Social I was wowed by the food on many levels and I’m happy to share exactly what I ate so that you can relive my delicious dining experience!

(I do want to quickly point out that I was wowed by the service and that Jess was wonderful and she had the kind of personality you really trusted – right away. She recommended a delicious beer from Brooklyn while we were reading the menu and from that point on, she chose our entire meal, three courses. Later in the evening she was doing the same thing for a couple in town from Sacramento, CA, who were very happy with the results. But the food was so great that we would have suffered through crap service and not complained. Really. Don’t ask me what the place looked it, it had walls and tables, I don’t even care.)

This is a photos of the OTS burger which is a commitment for sure. And you've got to eat it in one sitting because as soon as yolk breaks, the entire thing is drenched in yolky delicious goodness.

We started with the Spicy Duck Wing appetizer (pictured above) which was not spicy but the meat was perfectly marinated in the OTS-harissa and falling off the bone and the flavor was perfect. I could have used a bit more of the cucmber-mint riatta as I found myself just eating it out the bowl with a spoon (a.k.a. my finger) – it was like tzatziki sauce plus and it’s possible the next time I eat a falafel with tzatziki sauce, I will be filled with the regret that I wasn't eating the riatta from OTS instead. Do you see what I mean by my eating out “disorder”?

Jess went ahead and created a pretty meat-heavy evening for us and I was most grateful for the charcuterie and cheese platter she created. Because Zee (real name) is in the basement creating meat from scratch all day long, the cold meats selection at OTS is impressive, we ate the following meats - Toscano Salame, Branschwieger, Lamb Salame and Lardo and Chicken Liver Mousse. These meats were paired with the following cheeses - Prairie Fruits Farm Fresh Chevre, Roth Kase ‘Surchoix’ Gruyere and Grafton Premium Cheddar.

This is what the charcuterie platter looks like, tons of delicious meat made in the basement by Zee!

Small servings of lardo, pate and tempenade came with the plate and OTS baked ritz crackers (new on the menu and I could have used a box to take home FYI). The meats and cheeses, in addition to being very distinctive and paired perfectly, had a freshness to them that can be attributed to the fact that the meat came from the basement and the cheese from Wisconsin. The farm to table freshness was immediately recognizable, I heard the table next to us commenting on just how fresh everything tasted. In hind sight, we could have stopped ordering there as the platter was very rich and filling - but we just kept eating.

What we ate, all of which I highly recommend:
Spicy Duck Wings - Harissa, Cucumber-Mint Raita
Pear & Fennel Salad - Anjou Pears, Shaved Fennel, Candied Hazelnuts, Pickled
OTS Burger - Sunnyside up Organic Egg, Housemade Bacon, Gruyere
Tacos – Fish and Pork Belly
Charcuterie & Cheese plate with Lardo (Whipped 'Italian Butter') and pate
What we drank: beer from Brooklyn
Dessert: No room but wanted the bourbon gelato
Server: Jess (quite possibly the BEST, if not top 5, server of my dining history).

Old Town Social
455 W. North Avenue
Chicago, IL 60610

Monday - Friday: 5 p.m. - 2 a.m.
Saturday: 11 a.m. - 3 a.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. - 2 a.m.


Thank you for reading my blog Evanston Newbie, a blog dedicated to helping you too fall in love with Evanston, just like I did. If you have any questions or need to get in touch with me about this blog, Evanston, or anything else you can email me at Also feel free to send me announcements about upcoming Evanston events and I will promote them here!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Real Estate: What you get for $300,000 in Evanston

This cute little cottage is on the market for $299,000 at 941 Asbury Ave. in Evanston.

Click here for more information on Evanston Now's home of the week.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Found Kitchen Review in the Sunday New York Times

Photo by Eugene Galdones for the New York Times

Of course the New York Times covered Found Kitchen and Social House in Evanston before I did, they are so competitive!

How exciting for Amy Morton and her star chef Nicole Pederson to get such a rave review by Times food critic Ceil Miller Bouchet. Bouchet recommends "the chicken liver mousse with bacon marmalade and toast" saying the plate "meshes both women’s Francophile bent with the chef’s affinity for whole-animal cooking."

Click here to read the full review and congratulations to Found for landing such a positive review!

P.S. The new spring menu includes a shareable plate of pickled beef hearts with deviled eggs, beets and baby greens — perfect for alfresco dining in a new sidewalk area.

Found Kitchen and Social House, 1631 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Ill.; (847) 868-8945; An average dinner for two, without wine or tip, is about $60.


Thank you for reading my blog Evanston Newbie, a blog dedicated to helping you too fall in love with Evanston, just like I did. If you have any questions or need to get in touch with me about this blog, Evanston, or anything else you can email me at Also feel free to send me announcements about upcoming Evanston events and I will promote them here!

Photo: spring patterns on the courtyard

Soon the courtyard will be one solid block of color when the sun is at high noon. In spring, as the buds sprout on the trees, the sunshine gets through to the bricks, making a lovely lattice work of shade and sun. The texture of branches against stones is intoxicating. I want a skirt with this pattern on it.

We will say farewell to this courtyard soon and move into a house, where we'll continue to rebuild our life, mimicking the one we had in El Paso, TX. This summer is our third summer in Chicago and if we continue to be patient and open minded, this will feel like exactly like all the other homes we've known.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Dewey Elementary Promotes Peace with Indira Johnson's Buddha Head

Press Release from Dewey Elementary
Ten Thousand Ripples Peace Project Comes to Dewey School!

There is a powerful and profound need to remember that peace is possible despite the violence that surrounds us on so many different fronts. Ten Thousand Ripples is that reminder. Images of an emerging Buddha, a universal icon of peace, invite us to think about how we can find peace in our own lives and communities. TTR builds on 20 years of successful peace-building activities conducted by artist Indira Johnson and her Shanti Foundation for Peace, now a program of Changing Worlds.

What: Ten Thousand Ripples (TTR) is a multi-platform public art and peace project, a collaboration between artist Indira Johnson and a consortium of cultural, educational, and social service organizations and community development agencies. The visual center of TTR will be 100 fiberglass emerging Buddha head sculptures designed by Johnson and installed in sites selected by each of ten neighborhood partner cohorts. Each cohort will identify the core social issue that stands between its community and its desire for peaceful streets and mutual understanding. At the programmatic center of TTR will be 3-4 months of activities specific to each community. Each cohort will plan and implement artistic programming that brings people together on common ground encouraging them to find ways to create the changes they wish to see.

Why the Buddha? The Buddha image has become a universal icon for peace. Appearing in public art and murals, popularized on T-shirts, adopted symbolically by rock bands and trendy restaurants, the Buddha is somewhat familiar—but unusual enough to be an arresting visual presence on the streets of the Chicago area. The Buddha strikes a balance between its secular face and spiritual symbol, the latter embodying a longing for peace in an increasingly frightening world. Visually compelling, Johnson’s serene, peaceful Buddha heads that appear to be emerging from the ground will materialize in urban neighborhoods—poised to initiate city-wide conversations about art and peace. Exchanges will range from shared observations, still photos and videos, sending and receiving of tweets, blogging and poetic recitations. The Buddha heads will catalyze community conversations and visual, literary, media and performance events to build a culture of peace and acceptance in each community.

Why Dewey? The Dewey Peaceweavers, Dewey’s Roots and Shoots group, has always seen humanitarian issues related to peace as part of their core values and mission. After contacting the artist, Indira Johnson, she felt that Dewey would be a perfect site to plant this seed to grow peace within the community. It is our hope as a school that the community will embrace this symbol and that the ripples of peace will spread outward from our Peace Garden.

When? The Buddha sculpture will be installed on Friday, May 3 at Dewey between 1 and 2. A celebration for the Dewey community will be held in the near future, date and time to be announced.

We've been traveling all over Evanston searching for these Buddha heads and now Dewey will have one, that is such great news!

Click on the links below to learn more about this exciting project:

Public Art Treasure Hunt for Indira Johnson's Buddha Heads

Public Art Treasure Hunt for Buddha Heads in Evanston Continues

Tonight: Noyes Cultural Arts Center Hosts Open House

The Noyes Cultural Arts Center, located at 927 Noyes Street, is opening their doors for an open house event Thursday May 2nd from 4:30pm to 7:30pm. During the Open House, artists will showcase their work and work spaces.

There will also be performances by the Actor’s Gymnasium Teen Ensemble from 4:45 – 6:00pm and the Evanston Children’s Choir from 4:15 – 5:15pm.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Day #Lakeporn

Thanks to Per, an Evanstonian who runs along the lake every day of the year, I am sharing this amazing photo with you! This was taken this morning somewhere by Dempster Street Beach. You are welcome! And thank you Per!


Thank you for reading my blog Evanston Newbie, a blog dedicated to helping you too fall in love with Evanston, just like I did. If you have any questions or need to get in touch with me about this blog, Evanston, or anything else you can email me at Also feel free to send me announcements about upcoming Evanston events and I will promote them here!