Christmas Time in the City- December Events in Chicago

Compared to the neverending slog that was 2020, this year seems to have sped by, but alas, it is somehow December yet again. 

I’ve always loved the holiday season, for a variety of reasons. Being from Ohio, I still feel a nostalgic joy in watching the snow and seeing the individual intricacies of each snowflake as it falls into my hands. I love peppermint, gingerbread, hot chocolate, and all of the seasonal goodies that I might not otherwise enjoy but which bear the charm of impermanence that makes them irresistible. As I have grown older I have become less fixated on the gift element of Christmas and more infatuated with the gooey, sentimental aspects that a younger me would have considered nothing more than schlock. I have yet to turn to Hallmark movies for seasonal entertainment, but my Nat King Cole playlist tells me that it likely will not be long before I make the full transition into a Buddy-the-Elf-esque Christmas aficionado. 

This holiday season is unique for me, though. This year, and I am sure the same can be said for many other students, is my first year on my own. My familial holiday traditions–putting up the tree, baking, deciding to put up lights and then immediately regretting to put up lights–have to be translated to fit my solitary garden unit apartment. This holiday season is undoubtedly different for me, but that does not make it a necessarily solemn event. Chicago has a wide variety of unique December experiences and for anyone who may be having their very first Chicago Christmas, here is a list of fun (college student budget-friendly) activities to make the most of it. 

Zoo Lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo

From 4-10pm each day through January 2nd, the Lincoln Park Zoo will be decked out in Christmas lights and decorations. Tickets are $5, but admission is free every Monday and Tuesday night. The Lincoln Park Zoo also provides specific accommodations for visitors with sensory sensitivities.

For tickets and more info, visit: https://www.lpzoo.org/event/zoolights-presented-by-comed-and-invesco-qqq/

Christkindlmarket 

Christkindlmarket is a traditional German-style Winter Market with locations in both the Loop and Wrigleyville. The outdoor market features local artisans, bakers, and a variety of performers. A Chicago holiday staple, this would be a great place to find gifts for your out-of-town family members and loved ones.

For more information on vendors and locations, visit: https://www.christkindlmarket.com/

Ice Skating

What better way to celebrate the holidays than falling on your face with friends? Even if you don’t have the grace of Nancy Kerrigan, ice-skating is undoubtedly a Winter must. Fortunately, Chicago offers many free opportunities to hit the rink, literally. Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park are both offering outdoor ice rinks from now until March and if you’re heading to Chriskindlmarket in Wrigleyville, Gallagher Way has an adjoining rink that features curling alongside ice-skating.

Winter Flowers at the Garfield Conservatory 

If this is your first time experiencing a Chicago winter (it’s certainly mine!), then perhaps you would prefer an indoor activity. Lucky for you, the Garfield Conservatory currently has a seasonal exhibit, Serenity: Winter Flower Show, running through January 9th. Seasonal flowers like the iconic poinsettias and zinnias are on display in the conservatory’s indoor show house. Admission is free, but reservations are currently required.

For reservations and more information, visit: https://garfieldconservatory.org/

Christmas Carol at the Goodman Theatre

Did you know that DePaul students get a student discount at many of Chicago’s famous local theaters? Among these is the Goodman Theatre, which is currently hosting its annual production of Charles Dickens’ The Christmas Carol. With a student discount, you can see the iconic Christmas show and support local theatre artists for only $10!

For tickets and more information, visit: https://www.goodmantheatre.org/tickets/special-discounts/


Delicious Pandemic Resolutions

Author: Erin Henze 

The pandemic has halted many things over the last 10 months, but many people are still attempting to carry on with one tradition that always accompanies the start of a new year: New Year’s Resolutions.  We all know that it can be difficult to hold true to our resolutions for an extended period of time, regardless of what our promises may be.  If your resolution for 2021 includes striving for a healthier and more energetic you, look no further than these nutritious recipes that are sure to satisfy your cravings!

Fudge Brownies

These brownies are my absolute favorite dessert! You honestly aren’t even able to tell the difference between these and any store-bought brownie mix. These treats are significantly lower in sugar and fat than your traditional brownie, so you won’t feel guilty for eating more than one (or the entire pan). 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine ¼ cup flour, ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, and ¼ tsp salt. Microwave melt ½ cup chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons of butter. Mix in ¼ cup sugar, ¼ cup brown sugar, ¾ cup non-fat Greek yogurt, 2 eggs, and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. Combine wet and dry ingredients, and pour into a greased pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes and enjoy warm!

Edible Cookie Dough

Do you have a bad habit of eating raw cookie dough from the bowl any time you make cookies? Yeah, me too. But with this recipe, eating raw “cookie dough” won’t leave you with an upset stomach or guilty conscience! I like to enjoy this with pretzels, graham crackers, or by the spoonful. 

  • Add 1 can rinsed and drained chickpeas, ¼ cup peanut butter, ¼ cup oats, ¼ tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp cinnamon, 1 tablespoon honey, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 tablespoon vanilla, and a handful of chocolate chips to a blender or food processor. Blend until combined and refrigerate until chilled. 

Berry Cheesecake Smoothie

Craving both a milkshake and a nice, hearty slice of cheesecake? Look no further than this smoothie. It is the perfect combination of sweet and savory, and will certainty satisfy your every desire without the added fat and sugar. 

  • Combine 1 (5.3oz) container of flavored Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons low-fat cottage cheese, ½ cup unsweetened almond milk or water, 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 cup any variety berries, fresh or frozen,a dn 1 cup ice cubes in a food processor or blender. Blend until fully combined and desired consistency is reached. Top with granola or enjoy plain!

New Year, New Quarter, New Notion(s)

Author: Deyana Atanasova

So, a bit over a year ago, in November of 2019, I downloaded TikTok. Say what you will about it, but I genuinely learn something new every day from that app (…yes, I go on it every day–I’m working on that). 

One of the TikToks that I came across recently could not have reached me at a better time as I began thinking about how to not only approach the new year but the new quarter as well. This winter term will be my final quarter at DePaul (that I know of for now, at least), and I wanted to try something new regarding my study habits. 

Lo and behold, a TikTok shows up that says “this is your sign to get Notion and organize your life ✨ So, in the semi-altered words of John Mulaney: “And then I didn’t

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For those who don’t know, Notion is kind of like a wiki, calendar, to-do list, journal, planner, agenda, recipe blog, spreadsheet, and an all-around whatever-you-want-it-to-be platform. It’s super intuitive in my opinion, and it’s super customizable. Here is what mine looks like at the moment:

The built-in “Getting Started” guide helps you work through and personalize the pseudo-site to fit your needs, and it comes with a ton of different templates that may seem either super useful or a bit overwhelming. Either way, I always appreciate having something new to explore. 

One of the most difficult parts about learning remotely is that I am not able to tie a place to a particular class, which is something I never really realized has such a profound impact on how I process and remember things. Whether it’s a compartmentalization thing or an actual cognitive psychology thing, place is important to me. 

Notion, then, is my little nook; a D2L doppelgänger of sorts. At most, it’s a study haven where I can hyperlink syllabi for accessibility, and at the very least, it’s somewhere to start.

I didn’t buy a planner for 2020, but I’ve seen enough Twitter threads and general discourse to know the frustration of buying one and leaving it half-empty. Some folks prefer writing things down as opposed to creating digital to-do lists, but Notion is the closest thing that has felt like a “space” to me for quite some time, carved by my own habits and needs. 

So, if you haven’t yet bought a planner for 2021, and you are looking for some new organizational tools, or are looking to fulfill a new notion of sorts, this is your sign to get Notion and create your own space. 

(P.S. The quote on my homepage about planning is from the movie Parasite which I adore! I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it yet, and if there is only one movie that I had to choose to see again for the first time, it would be that one.)


Meals and Snacks to Get You Through Finals Week!

Author: Morris McLennan

               Finals week is here. I don’t know about anybody else, but I know I’m certainly operating at about 10% my usual brain capacity. Every morning I wake up and I check my New York Times daily email and I take fifty points of psychic damage. But of course, the one way to regain my lost brain points is by consuming health potions. And I am nothing if not a master craftsman of health potions. Here are my favorites.

  1. Soup / Chili

Soup is the king of psychic healing. I have made the Chickpea Noodle Soup recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s vegan cookbook about five times. You can also just throw vegetables and water in a pot and see what happens! It will probably become soup.

I ate chili on election night. I used to not like chili because my parents, though I love them very much, are not skilled with seasonings. However, when you make chili yourself, you can put as much seasoning as you want in it. It’s also not very expensive to just throw beans and tomatoes and vegetables into a pot and then suddenly have enough food for a week. I would recommend a recipe but I honestly have never followed a chili recipe before. You don’t need instructions; you just need to cook with love.

  • Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have probably made more chocolate chip cookies than any other baked good. They heal my soul! They also remind me of all the times my dad made Tollhouse cookies when I was a little kid. Sometimes when I make the Tollhouse recipe, the nostalgia is too overwhelming and I end up crying about how much I miss making cookies with my dad. But usually I use this recipe instead: https://food52.com/recipes/39132-ovenly-s-secretly-vegan-salted-chocolate-chip-cookies

  • Pizza

If I ever get sentenced to death for jaywalking on North Clifton Avenue, I’m ordering Dimo’s Pizza for my last meal. I love Chicago but I simply think the pizza here is soggy and a little flavorless. But not Dimo’s! The vegan deep dish from Kitchen17 is also pretty good though. Anyways, I know none of us are cooking every single meal from scratch. That’s a lot of effort for a busy student. So I don’t know about you, but I’m going to order pizza.


What Worked Best For Me In Spring Quarter 2020

Author: Anissa Patterson

We all know that the shift to online classes last March was an abrupt change that led to many students feeling lost and helpless, without any ideas on how to organize their time and manage their assignments. When DePaul’s spring quarter was moved online, my four in person classes changed to three asynchronous classes and one synchronous class that met on zoom twice a week. Because of this, I only had a set schedule for one of my classes. 

The first week after spring I was basically winging it. Since many of my professors were also learning how to navigate online classes, many materials were not posted early so I did not have a clear idea of what I should be working on for my classes that did not meet on zoom. When I started watching the pre-recorded lectures I just did so when I felt like it and when it was most convenient for me. This often led to extended periods of time sitting in front of the computer as I did not realize how much content the lectures had and had not budgeted my time correctly. I quickly learned that I should plan out my days and give specific days to specific subjects so that I have a set schedule and a plan of action for my assignments. 

As the quarter went on i started using a dry erase calendar to write down my assignments and which lectures I planned to watch each day. This gave me the satisfaction of crossing out a task after I had finished. This actually helped my mental attitude toward online classes because I felt more accomplished having completed all of my tasks. However, there were some days where I couldn’t find the time to watch all the lectures I wanted to or read what I was supposed to. This was sometimes due to a bad mental health day, home distractions or lack of motivation. This of course also happens during in-person classes as well, but it feels more daunting when you are at home. This led to some weeks being more cramped with assignments than others but the attempt at a schedule really helped me organize my classes in the chaos that was the transition to “zoom university”.

I hope that this anecdote has helped other students realize that they were not alone in their struggles and that I can help others navigate another quarter online. The best I can do is provide these tips that helped me manage and get through spring quarter, I hope they can help you too!

Tips:

  1. Write down all your assignments and due dates on a calendar, check them off when completed 
  2. Schedule set times to listen to your asynchronous lecture
  3. Put your phone away/ across the room so you won’t be distracted
  4. Take breaks! Classes are only an hour and a half in person, if you find yourself working for an extended period of time, step back and take a breather
  5. Don’t worry if you don’t check all the items off on your schedule, sometimes you have off days
My baby Luna being a distraction during class