sheffield-garden-walkI just love Chicago in the summer. There are so many great events in the neighborhoods, not least of which is Chicago’s Sheffield Garden Walk. I’ve written here before about the joy of gardening in the city, so it should come as no surprise that this weekend-long event ranks high on my list of recommended things to do.

Located in the heart of Lincoln Park, the walk includes gardens within the Sheffield neighborhood, which extends from Halsted west to the Chicago River and from Armitage north to Fullerton.

Taking place on July 17th and 18th, this year’s garden walk offers the chance to visit more than 100 exquisite residential gardens on a self-guided tour. Other activities include guided garden tours given by a landscape professional; live music from national/regional headline groups; a kids’ corner with a petting zoo, pony rides, hands-on activities and food service; and several wonderful dining options.

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FlowersValentine’s Day is almost here, and the City of Big Shoulders shows even bigger heart when it comes to offering up ways to make your February 14th a memorable one. Here are some romantic ideas to consider as you plan your Chicago Valentine’s Day date with your special someone.

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Christkindlmarket ChicagoI am a big fan of winter in Chicago. The city is rich with tradition for young and old alike, especially over the holidays. My favorite childhood memories include viewing the animated holiday displays in the store windows along State Street, getting my picture taken with Santa Claus at Macy’s (then Marshall Field’s), seeing the Nutcracker Ballet with my grandmother, and visiting the Museum of Science and Industry’s spectacular Christmas around the World and Holiday Lights exhibit. Nowadays, there are even more opportunities to enjoy, like ice skating at Millennium Park or Wrigley Field, perusing Christkindlmarket with a cup of hot spiced wine in hand, and snuggling up in the back of a horse-drawn carriage for a ride along Michigan Avenue.

While you’re enjoying winter in the city, though, don’t forget some of these practical seasonal considerations.

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upward trendThose of us with retirement accounts have probably noticed the upward trajectory of the stock market over the past several months, but it shouldn’t go unnoticed that some key numbers are up in the national and Chicago real estate markets as well.

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Realtors Conference & ExpoI’ll be teaching a seminar in San Diego this weekend at the National Association of Realtors Conference & Expo, a gathering of approximately 20,000 agents and brokers from around the United States. The topic is how agents and brokers can hire new talent to leverage their time, grow their businesses, and offer their clients better service and results.

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Live & Play Chicago magazine coverThe “Live and Play” brand is no longer just a blog. My Team and I will soon be releasing the very first edition of Live & Play Chicago, the magazine.

This 84-page full-color publication will include profiles of the homes we have listed for sale and rent, information about favorite neighborhood amenities, and articles on a variety of residential real estate topics including luxury home development, landscape architecture, staging, home security, the local and resort home markets, and Chicago’s Trump International Hotel and Tower.

We’ll release the magazine as a PDF document here when the time comes, but if you’d prefer to have a glossy copy of your own, contact us at (877) 440-3760 and we’ll send you one free of charge.

We hope you are as excited about the magazine as we are as we’ve put our heart and soul into its creation. Once you’ve had a peek, we would love to hear your feedback. You can comment here or send us an email at Enjoy!

I recently sat down at our Gold Coast office with the Joe Askins from YoChicago to talk on camera about developments in the residential market as well as my experience of starting and maintaining this blog. You can view our interviews below:

Five questions with Jennifer Ames

Creating and managing Live and Play in Chicago

Chicago MarathonThis Sunday, approximately 45,000 runners will fill the streets of our city for the 32nd Chicago Marathon. The runners will travel as far north as Addison Street in Lakeview on a course that will take them through much of the city.

If you’re hoping to watch the race in person, the marathon website has a downloadable Spectator’s Guide (6.84 MB) with detailed information on the course and race.

If you plan on parking overnight near the race’s route, check for signs indicating the no parking zones for the race which will be enforced beginning at 1:00 a.m. on Sunday. Streets along the route will also be closed from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. the day of the race. More detailed street closure information can be found here.

Lastly, I’d like to wish the best of luck to my residential real estate sale team’s very own Client Care manager, Eleanor Olson, who will be competing in the race after a rigorous summer training schedule. In light of the relief work she has done in Zambia, Eleanor is also collecting pledges for the World Vision organization. Go Eleanor!

Photo by rbackowski

Chicago 2016Chicago is abuzz as the decision on our 2016 Olympic bid is only days away. I feel a personal connection to the bid for this opportunity as my great grandmother helped organize the A Century of Progress International Exposition, and another distant relative, Rufus C. Dawes, (brother of former U.S. Vice President Charles G. Dawes), served as President of its Board of Trustees.  This 100th anniversary celebration for Chicago welcomed people from all over the world in 1933-34.

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If you’re considering buying your first home, time is running out to take advantage of the first-time home buyer tax credit.

The up-to-$8,000 credit, which can also be used toward a mortgage down payment, expires on December 1st. Buyers must close on their purchases and receive the title transfers to their homes before that date to qualify.

Despite the name, the credit is available not only to those who are purchasing their first home but also to those who have not owned a “principle residence” in over three years.

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