Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Book Review: Cheap Chic

Disclosure: I receive a review copy of the mentioned book. All opinions are my own.

Fall is the perfect time to revamp your wardrobe, and here's a book to get you started:
Cheap Chic: Hundreds of Money Saving Hints to Create Your Own Great Look.

Originally published way back in 1975 - Diane Von Furstenburg was one of the original editors - this book teaches you how to develop your own unique sense of style. It's a fashion bible that offers advise on how to develop your own personal wardrobe that reflects your own unique style.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Review: Dr. Formulated Once Daily Women's Probiotic

Disclosure: I received a product sample but was not asked to write a blogpost. As always, all opinions are my own. 

I recently injured my ear, experiencing a tear that required not just stitches but also a strong does of antibiotics. Though I knew that the antibiotics were necessary, I also knew that they would potentially throw my body even further out of whack. Thankfully, I had a full bottle of Garden of Life's once daily women's shelf stable Raw probiotics.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Classical Opera with the Animals: Lyric Unlimited Presents 'Second Nature' at the Lincoln Park Zoo

This post originally appeared at, where I am a contributing writer. 

Imagine taking in live, classical opera together with the lions, tigers and bears. The Lyric Opera of Chicago is setting up shop at the zoo of all places this summer. 'Second Nature,' a new opera for youth from the acclaimed composer/librettist Matthew Aucoin will premiere this summer at Café Brauer at Lincoln Park Zoo.

Presented by Lyric Unlimited, these four world-premiere performances will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 19 at 10 a.m. and noon, and Thursday, Aug. 20 at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Free and open to the public, these performances are the perfect opportunity to introduce your children to the joys of lyrical opera.

How can we heal and protect the environment? Both the characters in the opera and the children in the audience are asked to ponder the state of our planet. Set in a fictional future when humans have retreated from nature because of the deteriorating environment, Second Nature tells the story of two kids who decide to leave the safety of their artificial habitat and work to heal the planet. Each performance will also include an interactive, informational talk about conservation work at Lincoln Park Zoo.

Award-winning composer, pianist, poet and conductor Matthew Aucoin has been called "the next Leonard Bernstein" by The Wall Street Journal and "Opera's great 25-year-old hope" byThe New York Times Magazine.

"Lyric is thrilled to be presenting the latest new work from Matthew Aucoin, one of opera's rising young stars," said Anthony Freud, Lyric's general director. "Our creative consultant Renée Fleming flagged Matthew as a composer to watch several years ago, and we are delighted to be one of the first companies to have commissioned and now to premiere a work by this outstandingly talented composer and librettist."

"Two facets of Lyric Unlimited's mission are to identify and nurture new operatic talent and to present opera that explores contemporary themes in unexpected venues. 'Second Nature' succeeds on both counts," said Cayenne Harris, director of Lyric Unlimited. "We are so pleased that families will be able to enjoy this work that celebrates the importance of nature and conservation in a setting as appropriate as Lincoln Park Zoo."

'Second Nature' stars Sylvia Szadovszki (debut), James Onstad (debut), David Govertsen, Julie Miller, and Leah Dexter. Govertsen and Miller are alumni of The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric, the company's premier artist-development program. This world-premiere opera is directed by Matthew Ozawa, with sets by William Boles (who was set designer for Lyric Unlimited's world-premiere klezmer opera, The Property), and costumes by Sally Dolembo (debut).

'Second Nature' is recommended for children ages 7 to 12. Reservations are recommended.For more information or to reserve a free ticket, visit

Book Review: Everyday Detox by Megan Gilmore

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book. As always, all opinions are my own.

Summer is the perfect time of year to commit to eating lighter, healthier meals, but truly our bodies appreciate foods that are natural and nutrition-packed year round. Here's a great cookbook to help keep you on track while keeping the focus on fresh, healthy and tasty foods.

Everyday Detox by Megan Gilmore is a healthy guide to detoxing naturally, all year round. I like this book because it removes the "diet" word from the equation. Diets, as many have come to realize, don't work. It's all about making healthy choice after healthy choice and relying on natural foods in their most wholesome state as opposed to dieting, juice fasting, or calorie counting. This beautiful tome features 100 properly combined recipes for every meal of the day, to help you lose weight, improve digestion, sleep better, and feel great.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Review: The First Family Detail by Ronald Kessler

Disclosure: Special thanks to Blogging for Books for sending me a review copy to facilitate this blog post. All opinions, as always, are my own. 

Long ago, in my early 20's, I worked as an intern with the Department of State. I was luckily assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Rome - truly a dream come true. On an even luckier note, President Clinton came on two official visits to Italy during my summer internship at the embassy.

I was always fascinated by the security detail that surrounded the president and the first lady at the time. The Secret Service agents truly do have front row seats to both the challenges and joys that the U.S. president faces on a day-to-day, hour-to-hour basis.

So I was happy to have the chance to review THE FIRST FAMILY DETAIL: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of the Presidents by Ronald Kessler, an uncensored look into the lives of the presidents, as seen through the eyes of Secret Service agents.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Back to School with @MinuteClinic: Sport Physicals, School Physicals and More #spon

Disclosure: I have received promotional consideration from MinuteClinic and Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. All opinions are my own.

Summer is winding down. 

Before we know it, it will be time for this...

and these...

(Sad Trombone)

I get so used to spending my days and nights with my kids, enjoying the great outdoors, camping, traveling, or even just sitting on the front porch and watching my daughter color with chalk on the sidewalk or watching my son ride his skateboard down the street. 

*If only* summer could last forever!

I think the best way is to do one to two tasks per week in August to prep for back-to-school, so you don't find yourself going crazy the week before. 

Thankfully, MinuteClinic will help you take care of some of the bigger tasks. For example....

Sports Physicals 

Did you know that participating in sports can help your little MVP improve performance in the classroom? First and foremost, it’s important to make sure they’re healthy and cleared to get on the field. Sports physicals are a great way to make sure your athlete can safely play. Even if your school doesn’t require it, sports physicals also help to keep immunizations up to date and provide an opportunity to discuss any concerns you may have heading into a new school year. MinuteClinic practitioners can:

• Review health history and immunizations
• Perform a thorough physical exam
• Complete and stamp required paperwork

Will your kids be participating in a sport this upcoming school year? After an active summer, make sure to ease your kids back into their sports routine in the appropriate way.

• When starting a new sport, consider a pre-season conditioning program or camp to gradually build strength and endurance
• Don’t let them jump in too fast - increase intensity, distance or duration of play by about 10% a week. This allows the body to rest, rebuild, recover and avoid injury
• Avoid cramping before game time and serve main meals 2-3 hours prior. If they really need something before a game, lighter snacks, such as granola bars, can be digested in 30 minutes.

Back to School Health 

Many schools and colleges require that students receive vaccinations including meningitis and pertussis (whopping cough) before attending school. Find out the requirements for meningitis shots in your state here , and the requirements for pertussis shots here.

Children and young adults are among the highest at risk for meningitis. MinuteClinic can administer meningitis vaccines to anyone over 18 months in most states.

Pertussis is a contagious respiratory disease that can cause serious illness, especially in infants too young to be fully vaccinated. To prevent pertussis, infants should be vaccinated as soon as they are old enough. MinuteClinic recommends that those over 18 should get a booster vaccination immediately if they haven’t received one.

Find more info on vaccines and immunizations here

And here's an extra bonus! You can get $10 off a sports physical from now until 9/7/15 , and a FREE Johnson & Johnson coupon book with $29 worth of savings!

You can find the closest MinuteClinic to you here.

What are your favorite and least favorite ways to prep for back to school? Share with me on twitter @amybizzarri

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Get a Haircut and Give Back to Your Community: Hair Cuttery's Share-A-Haircut Program #spon

Disclosure: Special thanks to Hair Cuttery for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

September is a bittersweet time for me: not only do I send my kids off to school, but I also send myself off to work. I bid farewell to my short-lived months as a SAHM and head back to the classroom, where a fresh batch of students awaits me. At the end of every summer, steeped in everything us moms do to manage our families, I wonder, with much anxiety: How am I going to do all this AND work 40 plus hours per week? And then I gently remind myself, I've been at this for the past 10 years. I. Can. Do. It.

The smell of fresh crayons still sends me in a tizzy and I adore shopping for school supplies for my kids and my classroom. September is when I draw up my goals for the year, when I revamp my wardrobe, when I clear the clutter in my life - September is my "new year." And a new year calls for a new haircut, too. For both myself and my kids.

Here's a wonderful program that will not only get you and the kids those brand new haircuts to start the school year off in style but also give back to your community: The Hair Cuttery Share-A-Haircut program.

From August 1-15, for every child up to age 18 who purchases a haircut at one of Hair Cuttery’s almost 900 salons, one free haircut certificate will be donated to an underprivileged child in that same community. 

The Share-a-Haircut program was created by Hair Cuttery to give free haircuts to underprivileged community members, specifically kids in need as they head back-to-school. Since then, they’ve expanded the program to touch people of all ages. This being the 16th anniversary of the program, Hair Cuttery is determined to donate tens of thousands of free haircut certificates. To date, the Share-A-Haircut program has reached more than 925,000 children with haircut certificate donations, valued at $16.65 million. In each market, certificates are distributed with the help of more than 100 local government and non-profit organizations that are closely tied to each community.

Hair Cuttery hopes to reach tens of thousands of children this year!

I rely on my local Hair Cuttery for trims for the kids as well as myself. I also like to indulge in a Hair Cuttery conditioning treatment and blowout every once in awhile. I especially appreciate the Hair Cuttery Style Express package, which gives you a shampoo, Redken Customized treatment, cut and blowdry at a super affordable price. Hair Cuttery is the largest family owned and operated chain of hair salons in the country, and as a full-service, value-priced salon, Hair Cuttery offers a full complement of cuts and styling, coloring, waxing and texturizing services with no appointment necessary, as well as a full line of professional hair care products.

Head to your local Hair Cuttery and get ready for school while also helping out kids in your community. Need to find your local Hair Cuttery? Check out their salon locator, accessible here! And while you're at it, keep up with Hair Cuttery on Facebook and Twitter at @HairCuttery.