Sheryl Crow
Sheryl Crow, who will appear at an upcoming private concert in Lincoln Park (photo by Anirudh Koul)

Say good-bye to school bake sale fundraisers! This economy is pushing Chicago area not-for-profit organizations to be more creative as they pursue a diminished pool of charitable dollars.

Below are three upcoming fundraisers where you can not only have a great time but support causes that make Chicago the world-class city it is.

Sheryl Crow at Francis W. Park School

Chicago’s prestigious Francis W. Parker School is aiming to raise $1 million for their endowment through a private concert featuring 9-time Grammy award winning singer/song writer Sheryl Crow. The concert will be held in the school’s new Diane and David B. Heller Auditorium.

The show will take place on Saturday, March 7 at 7:00 p.m. and is not being advertised outside of the school community. At $500 to $5,000 a seat, tickets are not cheap. Still, the cause is a good one and the chance to see this popular performer in an intimate venue like a school auditorium is sure to be amazing. Visit www.supportfwp.org to order tickets.

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After a long interlude, I now have another guest post to share from one of my Team members. This post comes from John Costa, our team’s Director of Marketing. While John spends his days spearheading the print and online marketing of our client’s properties, today, he’s offering up some advice on how to make the most of Christmas in Chicago.

The Holidays in Chicago

Lights on palmetto trees. Playing a quick nine holes of golf. Wearing shorts in December. While this was Christmas as usual for me when I lived in Charleston, South Carolina, it didn’t feel truly like the holiday season to a New Jersey native such as me. So, when I moved to Chicago two years ago, I looked forward to enjoying ”Northern” Christmases once again.

With so many holiday offerings in the city, I thought it would be helpful to provide a short list of some of the best ways to take in the season in Chicago. Here’s my picks:

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If you have some last minute holiday shopping to do, especially for out-of-towners, why not get them a gift with some Chicago flair?

For years, the hardworking folks at the Chicagoist blog have made regular posts on this topic. Here are some of my favorite Windy City gift ideas they’ve come up with.

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Wardrobe

Busted! If you saw this month’s Chicago Agent magazine, you know that Lindsay Wolfe from my residential real estate sales team and I recently attended a shopping event.

Truth be told, I hate shopping. I would rather visit the dentist than the average department store. With three young children and a full-time career, I just don’t have the time to shop. Moreover, I find the volume of options in most stores completely overwhelming. So instead, I have a closet full of dusty clothes I don’t wear, with just a few things that I love and wear frequently.

Held at Nordstrom’s Chicago downtown store, the cocktail event was sponsored by the Women’s Council of Realtors, but it was not just any shopping event. The presenter was wardrobe consultant and personal shopper Julie Watson, and she talked about how to build a wardrobe. She explained that the architecture of your collection (I laughed, because my wardrobe is hardly a “collection”) should be comprised of three layers in the shape of a pyramid: a base layer of essentials, a second layer of novelty style essentials, and a top layer reflecting today’s trends. (You can read her full strategy here).

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Lincoln Park farmers market

This past week, I had the pleasure of attending an event where I heard Alice Waters speak. Alice is the founder of the Chez Panisse Foundation, a not-for-profit with the mission of promoting “edible education.” Specifically, the Foundation is seeking to change school lunch programs and improve the way we care for the health of our children, our communities and our environment.

The main point Alice raised was her concern over the poor diet that Americans – particularly our children – are adopting. Low quality, highly processed foods are increasingly dominating our meal plans and taking a toll on our health as well as the environment and local economies. Furthermore, the drive-thru dinner is steadily eroding the tradition of the family sit-down meal. Alice summed up this new lifestyle with a bumper sticker she had recently seen: “If we are what we eat, I’m fast, cheap, and easy.”

As a mother raising three children, I was struck by Alice’s presentation. Finding healthier food and the time to prepare “traditional” dinners is an ongoing challenge. Between our hectic work schedules, a desire to squeeze in some exercise, and spending quality time with our kids, my husband and I have minimal time to shop and prepare homemade meals. Dining out or “dialing for dinner” (aka ordering carryout) is a tempting option in a city like Chicago, but as a daily habit, it can be expensive and fattening.

The good news is that – fueled by the organic movement, a new emphasis on buying local, and an increasing desire to eat healthier – more “green” food options are sprouting up in Chicago. Some are more practical than others (raising chickens in backyards being on the ambitious side), but increasingly, there are many tempting options for those looking to buy healthy, local food.

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