Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Make Longer Lashes Your New Year's Resolution #NYE #healthyourself @CVS #MinuteClinic #spon

Disclosure: Special thanks to CVS MinuteClinic for sponsoring this post. 

I often joke that my children stole my eyelashes in utero. Both my son and my daughter have such lush, long, beautiful lashes - it sometimes appears that they're wearing false eyelashes!

2015 Resolutions: 100 Good Deeds #DeedADay

Disclosure: I received a 100 Good Deeds Bracelet to get me started on my 2015 resolutions!

I am so happy to celebrate a new year of new beginnings. For my new year's resolutions, I'm going to focus on things I can do to make 2015 better than ever. To give is to receive, and I'm going to start the year off by committing to do a good deed every day. My 100 Good Deeds Bracelet is going to help me keep track of these deeds, a visible reminder that many good deeds do indeed make a difference. 

The designer of these bracelets, Mary Fisher (, is an artist, author and HIV/AIDs activist, who has dedicated her life to working with women in developing countries. As the force behind the 100 Good Deeds Bracelet, Mary empowers women in Uganda, Zambia, South Africa, Rwanda, and Haiti, many infected with HIV, to help her make the 100 Good Deeds bracelet. Each bracelet is strung with 100 beads and is intended to be a continued reminder to do a good deed. Every time you go out of your way to perform a good deed, you move the bracelet’s rubber ring closer to the 100th bead.

What are your resolutions for 2015?

Monday, December 29, 2014

#TRYDRY NEW Dry Spray Antiperspirants from Degree Men, Degree Women, Dove, Dove Men+Care and Axe, now available at Walmart #ad

Disclosure: Special thanks to Global Influence for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own.
From sun up to sun down, I am on the go go go. I'm a busy working mom with two kids that keep me on my toes. I also ride my bike and ride to work - 4 miles each way - whenever the streets are clear of snow and the temps hovering above 30 degrees...spring...where are you???). So as you can imagine, I need a super effective deodorant.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Nutcracker: Four Takes on a Holiday Classic

This post originally appeared at, where I am a contributor. 

Since its 1892 adapted premiere in St. Petersburg, Russia - choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - E.T.A. Hoffman's story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" has been enchanting audiences worldwide. With new versions of the classic appearing every year, here are four different Nutcrackers on stage this holiday season, each bringing to life the magic of Christmas through the story of Clara and her nutcracker that springs to life on Christmas Eve.


The House Theatre's fresh and moving version of The Nutcracker (pictured above) brings audience members smack dab into Clara's family drawing room, as everyone gathers to celebrate Christmas Eve. Though it centers on young Clara's journey to rescue Christmas after the heartbreaking death of her older brother, this magical take focuses on bravery and unity in the face of fear, and features amazing puppetry, original song, and many laugh-out-loud moments. Now onstage at the Chopin Theater, this performance engages kids of all ages, and is one of our family's favorite holiday shows.
At the Dance Along Nutcracker, guests are invited to don their ballet shoes and hit the stage alongside professional members of Ballet Chicago. You'll never see so many aspiring ballerinas in one room in your lifetime. The story is interactive and audience participation is a must, so wear your prettiest, flounciest tutu. An hour before each performance, members of Ballet Chicago will teach basic ballet positions and movements. Music for the Dance-Along Nutcracker is provided by the Lakeside Pride Symphonic Band.
The Noble Horse Theatre is the only theater in North America to present the historicNutcracker...on horseback! Clara, The Mouse King, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and the noble horses bring Tchaikovsky's unforgettable music to life. You'll see beautiful fairies on horseback, toy soldiers battling the mouse army, and amazing white stallions. Matinees last approximately one hour; evening shows are 90 minutes, dinner optional, and are B.Y.O.B.
And finally, the Joffrey Ballet's classic adaptation of The Nutcracker, which will sweep you into a winter wonderland complete with spectacular scenery, elegant costumes and exquisite dancing. This is perhaps the grandest Nutcracker in the city, and a beloved holiday tradition for many families. Tchaikovsky's glorious score is played live by a full orchestra in the beautiful Auditorium Theatre, adding to the splendor of a holiday evening at the ballet.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Holiday Shopping Made Easy with Softcard #IC #Softcard #ad

Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Softcard. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

There's a new, easier way to shop!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Experience Chicago: Give Your Loved Ones Outside-the-Box Presents This Holiday Season

Disclosure: This post originally appeared on, where I am a contributor. 

What do you get the person in your life who has everything for the holidays? Or the kid in your life who already has a toybox packed with toys? Consider gifting a unique Chicago experience! Here are seven meaningful gift ideas that will bring the best of Chicago into the life of your loved one. 
The gift of live theater is a gift that keeps on giving throughout the year, and one that the whole family can enjoy. The Chicago Children's Theatre's Holiday Passes are the perfect gift for that special kid or family in your life: CCT's Holiday 2 Pass is $60, and is good for two admissions to any performance in Chicago Children's Theatre's 2014-15 season, while the Holiday Family 4 Pass is $120, and covers four admissions.
All tickets are completely flexible, so lucky giftees can chose to spread their admissions across two shows, or let their Family 4 Pass fund a fun family outing to Chicago Children's Theatre. Chicago Children's Theatre Holiday Passes arrive ready-to-present in a holiday gift envelope and include a small gift from CCT. Both passes offer up to 20% off single ticket prices, and no fees. To purchase, head over to

Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium's Trainer for a Day program is a gift that no marine animal-loving kid or adult will forget: The incredible program gives guests an exclusive chance to go behind-the-scenes at this world-class aquarium, home to 32,600 marine animals, from snails to whales. The Abbott Oceanarium's three million-gallon tank makes it one of the largest indoor marine mammal facilities in the world. You'll spend the day assisting a trainer with daily routines and lending a hand with training and feeding sessions at the Oceanarium.
This once-in a lifetime experience is hands-on and personalized: you'll be able to watch as meals are prepared for five dozen animals in the marine kitchen, step into reserve areas and stand poolside, learning and participating in the day-to-day duties of the trainers. The best part, though, is the unforgettable chance to interact with the dolphins, belugas, sea otters, sea lions, and penguins. The program is open to adults and children ages 12 and older - children ages 12-15 must be accompanied by a paying adult - with pricing starting at $325 per four hour session. In addition to the premier Trainer for a Day program, the Shedd also offers private penguin encounters, beluga encounters, and behind-the-scenes tours. Visit or call 312-939-2438 to reserve your spot.


Give the gift of flight with iFLY Indoor Skydiving. iFLY Indoor Skydiving's two Chicago area venues in Rosemont's MB Financial Park (5520 Park Place) and in Naperville's Freedom Commons (1752 Freedom Drive) are offering a variety of flight packages, gift baskets and gift certificates. iFLY is also a perfect "staycation" destination to beat the winter blues with an excursion that will thrill everyone in the family. The Earn Your Wings basic package includes two flights for $69.95, while the Spread Your Wings for Two gives four minutes of flight to be shared by two people, including videos and a personalized flight certification for $141.24.

Give the gift of pampering with a Leah Chavie Skincare Boutique gift certificate for a holiday inspired cranberry and pomegranate enzyme treatment. The cranberry treatment uses the fruit enzymes to gently dissolve dead skin cells; The enzymes also have antioxidants and anti-aging properties. Leah Chavie Skincare Boutique is a research-inspired skin destination, physically designed and fashioned with the most high-tech equipment and exclusive treatments on the market. Best of all you can purchase a certificate for the cranberry and pomegranate enzyme treatment - or any of Leah Chavies signature facials - online at

312 Chicago stands out as one of the city's favorite restaurants for authentic Italian cuisine. A gift card to attend one of Chef Luca Corazzina's Scuola 312 cooking classes is for the foodie in your life: participants learn not only a variety of culinary techniques but they also have the chance to enjoy the dishes that are cooked. Every guest will also receive recipe cards and a bottle of 312 Aged Balsalmic Vinegar. Classes are $45 per person. For more information call (312)696-2420 or email

Steppenwolf Theatre

Steppenwolf Pass will bring live theater into the life of your loved one, letting them create their own season experience with the Tony Award-winning Chicago theatre company. Good for either three or five tickets to any play in Steppenwolf's 2014/15 subscription season, the Steppenwolf Pass lets you mix and match plays so you see what you want, when you want. And, with the Pass you save up to 40% off regular ticket prices!
The 3-Play Pass is $150 and the 5-Play Pass is $250-that's just $50 per ticket. Instead of paper tickets, the Pass is a plastic, wallet-friendly card. Once you've made your seat reservation through the box office, simply present your card at the window up to 15 minutes before showtime to pick up your tickets. Gift certificates can be purchased for any dollar amount and are redeemable for tickets to any Steppenwolf production. If the total amount of the gift certificate is not used for the first transaction, the remaining balance can still be applied to future ticket purchases. For more info, visit the Steppenwolf Gifts page.

Gifts for gorillas? Presents for primates? Give special gift items directly to the animals from yourself or on behalf of a loved one and support Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago's free zoo, one of the oldest in the U.S. Select from a wide range of fun, interactive and essential animal care gift items at Some special gifts include boomerballs for an Amur tiger, full-length mirrors for fabulous flamingos, special food items for specific species and much more. Gifts range from $1 to $100. Then, plan a trip to the zoo together with your loved one, where you can see your gift in action. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Celebrate the Holidays at American Girl Place Chicago

This post originally appeared on

Last year, the day before Christmas, I took two of the sweetest girls I know - my daughter and her BFF - to American Girl Place, where we had brunch and enjoyed the holiday decor. It's one of my 5-year-old daughter's favorite spots in the city, and one of her favorite seasonal activities. If you're looking to create a special holiday memory with your special American girl, take her and her favorite dolly to American Girl Chicago, where a sweet cafe, special events, and a store filled to the brim with everything a doll needs await.
American Girl Place

At American Girl Place Chicago, you'll find all your favorite American Girl dolls - from historical favorites to the Bitty Baby and the Bitty Twins. The bookstore offers titles that focus on creativity, history, and of course, girl power. The in-store Hair Salon will help you fix up your doll's 'do and at Creativi-tees you can make your own matching doll and real kid t-shirts. Complete your doll's world with a huge selection of outfits, accessories, and furniture. While you're there, check out the 2014 special holiday doll dress, which comes complete with a special charm created just for the holidays.

You'll need to make a reservation for the timed seating brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, or dinner at Chicago's American Girl Cafe. Brunch is $19 per person, excluding tax and gratuity; seating time: 9:30 a.m. Lunch is $22 per person; seating times: 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. Afternoon Tea is $19 per person; seating time: 4 p.m. Dinner is $23 per person; with two seating times at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.

For an extra special experience, American Girl Place Chicago is inviting girls and guests to celebrate the season with an American Girl Dinner with Santa on Friday, December 5th and Thursday, December 17 at 5:30 PM. You'll enjoy a holiday dinner together in the Cafe, and your girl can pose for a 5 x 7" photo with Santa at his winter wonderland in Water Tower Place. Tickets are $31 per person and reservations are required.

American Girl Place Chicago will also be hosting theater excursions to see AnnieAlice in Wonderland and The Nutcracker at local theaters: you'll start with tea at American Girl Place and then head out by bus, dolls in tow, to the theater. It's a great way to introduce your daughter to the amazing world of live Chicago theater.

The events calendar at American Girl Place Chicago updates frequently, so check back often, and plan your visit around one of the many festive happenings. Consider spending your night at a Magnificent Mile area hotel that offers special, sweet amenities for girls and dolls.

To make a reservation for the American Girl Chicago Cafe, call the reservation hotline at Call 877-247-5223 or book online at

Monday, December 8, 2014

Capturing the Holidays @BestBuy #CanonatBestBuy #HintingSeason @CanonUSAimaging

Disclosure: The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free

The holidays are here and I find myself wanting these days to just sloooow down! Can I have a couple extra hours in the day, please? Can I just free time for a few seconds to savor the delight in my children's eyes as we bake sugar cookies, trim the tree, open their advent calendars with glee? 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Five Ways to Celebrate the Holidays Outdoors in Chicago

This article originally appeared at

Zoolights - Blog

"Bundle up, get outdoors and explore" is our family's wintertime mantra. When dressed properly, being outdoors in Chicago is a joy, even in the dead of winter. During the holidays, when the streets are alight with colorful lights and charming decorations, exploring the city is even more fun. Here are five fun ways to celebrate the holiday season in Chicago outdoors.

Belt out your favorite Christmas carols in Millenium Park
Caroling at Cloud Gate

Celebrate the holidays in Millennium Park, with festive Christmas Carols when Caroling at Cloud Gate returns on Friday evenings, November 28 through December 19 at 6 p.m. This free program showcases the best of the best Chicago choral groups and invites visitors to sing along, too. Hundreds of singers gather each week near the "Bean" to sing the joys of the season during these 50-minute caroling sessions.

Skate to your heart's content at an outdoor ice skating rink
Ice Rink - Millennium Park - Article

Chicago Park District's outdoor ice skating rinks are located all around the city, welcoming both beginning and advanced ice skaters. Skating season runs through February 23 at most outdoor rinks, weather permitting. 

Party with the animals

Lincoln Park Zoo's annual ZooLights festival features thousands of colorful light displays throughout the zoo as well as special visits with Santa Claus, live music, holiday crafts and large-scale ice carving. The festivities take place every weekend from November 28 to January 4 (closed Dec. 24 and 25); check the zoo calendar for related festival events.
Visitors can also ice skate at the Farm-in-the-Zoo ($5 admission; $5 skate rental or bring your own). For one night only, December 3, Louis Glunz Beer, Inc. invites zoo patrons to a special night of beer sampling during BrewLights, a new way to enjoy the zoo's famous ZooLights: From dark lagers to pale ales, a dozen varieties of beer will be available at several different taps throughout the zoo.  

MB Financial Park in Rosemont is a 200,000 square-foot entertainment and dining complex whose 10 venues offer upscale international cuisine, live music and comedy, state-of-the-art film, bowling and more. This holiday season ushers in the brand-new FROZEMONT ice skating rink and a four-story tubing adventure "Polar Peak" - open to the public Friday, December 12. Visit or call 847-349-5551 for a complete schedule of skating and tubing hours. Admission to the ice rink is free; Skates can be rented onsite for $8. Tubing tickets can be purchased online or onsite for $20 per hour.

See the holiday lights on an old fashioned horse and carriage
Horse Carriage Holidays

See the holiday lights while cuddled under a blanket in a turn of the century, antique horse carriage. Noble Horse offers has two pick up locations - Michigan Avenue (820 N. Michigan Ave.) or Old Town (1410 N. Orleans St.). They'll also provide a pick-up and drop-off service from your residence, hotel and restaurant. Bring along a thermos of hot cocoa for an extra sweet ride!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Our #DisneyKids Preschool Playdate

Disclosure: I received products free of charge to host a #DisneySide Celebration. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Recently, my daughter held a little get together - a #DisneyKids Preschool Playdate!

We have Disney on our minds as we're planning a trip to Disneyland in the late winter. Have you ever been to Disneyland? We've been to Disney World several times, but this will be our first time at California's Disneyland and we can't wait! 
I dream of visiting Disney over the holidays!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Learning to Read with Rosetta Stone Kids Reading #MC #RSKids #sponsored

Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Rosetta Stone. I received a product and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

Everybody knows that Rosetta Stone is the go-to when it comes to learning a new language. But what about about learning to read? With my 5-year-old daughter on the brink of reading, I was thrilled to review the new Rosetta Stone Kids Reading Program.  

Rosetta Stone® Kids' award-winning, research-proven technology promises children a head start with early reading skills. For my daughter - who can already recognize all her letters and is starting to read basic words - this new program has been amazing. She doesn't even realize she's practicing her reading skills...she just thinks she's playing fun new games with her new online pals in Lingoland. 

#GivingTuesday @ShotAtLife - Your $5 donation today will fully immunize a child against Pneumonia!

Today is #GivingTuesday!

 #GivingTuesday is an initiative to start the giving season the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. The retail industry has Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday. #GivingTuesday was created to encourage charitable activities that support non-profit organizations.

 Bill and Melinda Gates believe that vaccines are one of the best investments you can make to improve global health. They are very supportive of Shot@Life, advocating and fundraising for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. With replenishment coming in early 2015, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation would like to support Shot@Life and Gavi by matching donations today, #GivingTuesday, (up to $200,000)! This kind gesture turns a $5 donation into a $10 to fully immunize a child against Pneumonia! 

Donate now and learn more at

Monday, November 24, 2014

Putting Your Best Face Forward with Healthy Skincare Habits #MC #ClearasilMom #sponsored

Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Clearasil. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Parenting a teen is filled with both adventures and misadventures. Perhaps the worst part of parenting a teen is seeing them face some of the same exact trials and tribulations as you did as a young teen. FACT: It's worse the second time around. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

Home Cooking Reinvented with Meez Meals DIY Meal Kids @MeezMeals

Imagine cooking delicious meals from scratch without hunting for recipes, going to the store, or standing in the kitchen chopping and dicing.
Sounds dreamy, right?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Perfect Family Gift: LG OLED now at Best Buy! @BestBuy #HintingSeason #OLEDatBestBuy #ad

Disclosure: The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free

Here's the perfect luxury gift for the family that has everything: LG OLED TV - the ultimate display - a top of the line home theater, now on sale at Best Buy
As winter heads toward our city of Chicago this week, our family is planning on hunkering down for lots of movies at home. Why go to the theater when you can enjoy a movie from the comfort of home - cuddled on the sofa under blankets with a hot cocoa? The LG OLED TV truly brings the movie theater experience home for the holidays. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Easy Thanksgiving Craft for the Preschool Set

This post is from 2012, but this is a fun Thanksgiving craft that my now 5-year-old daughter still enjoys playing with!


My daughter and I love to bake together. As soon as I pull out a mixing bowl, she's pulling up a chair right beside me to "help". She especially loves rolling out dough. We make a lot of homemade pizza and pasta in our home and Chiara is always right beside me, with a little ball of dough, her two tiny hands gripped tightly to her rolling pin. I think cooking is right up there in the top three things that my daughter loves to do, alongside dancing and painting.

We were inspired to make this little Thanksgiving craft after our annual visit to the Graue Mill: every year, in the late fall, we head to this historic mill in Oak Brook, Illinois, where we stock up on traditionally coarse ground cornmeal for a winter's worth of polenta. There are wonderful interactive exhibits in the museum, and this year, Chiara couldn't get enough of the little center where she could make pretend pies with pom-pom "blueberries" and "cherries". 

And so my mother bought a bunch of "cherries" - a.k.a. felted pom-poms from Joann Fabrics, and a square of brown felt from which she cut out the pie crusts. And since she received her very own pie kit, Chiara has been "baking" pie after pie after pie. She cooks up the cherries on her little oven range, she divides the cherries up in a muffin tin, she counts the cherries, she washed the cherries (...), she rolls out the crust, she makes cherry pies again and again, for everyone in our family, including the dog. These cherries have provided endless hours of entertainment for my little girl! I guarantee that your preschooler will love this craft, too - just be prepared to find lots of cherries around your home for the next few weeks....

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Five Fun Holiday Photo Card Theme Ideas #HolidayCardThemes @Paperculture #spon

Disclosure: Special thanks to Global Influence for sponsoring this post. 

It's that time of year again...time to gather up your photos to create that perfect holiday card!  

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bedtime Cough Relief for Parent and Child-New from The Mentholatum Company

Disclosure: Special thanks to Mentholatum for sponsoring this post. 

Few things are as awful as having to watch your child deal with a cough. Over the weekend, my daughter battled a bad chest cold; I was thankful that she was at least armed with some Mentholatum Nighttime Vaporizing Rub. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Québec City with Kids

This post originally appeared on

Québec City, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, stands as one of North America's oldest and most charming cities. My two children - ages 5 and 13 - loved wandering the narrow, cobblestoned streets of the only walled city in North America north of Mexico. We all felt as if we'd stepped back in time. Less than 2 1/2 hours from Chicago, this former French colony will give you a taste of Europe, minus the hassle of a transatlantic flight. Walkable and friendly, Québec City makes for a fun and educational long weekend family escape.



The best way to enjoy Old Québec City is by foot - though you might also want to opt for a horse and carriage. While you won't want to miss the historical sites, especially the Fortifications of Québec and the Citadel - the city's two main defensive works, as well as the Notre-Dame-de-Québec Basilica-Cathedral - one of the oldest cathedrals in North America, you'll also love the many charming boutiques and cafes. Discover the history behind the founding of Québec City at the Musée Du Fort, where a 30-minute sound and light show will take you back in time to the founding of Québec City and the geography, people and major events that have shaped its history. The Musée de la Civilisation invites families to take a fresh new look at both local and international culture. Don't miss the museum's youth zones, where kids are asked to step into the action and explore culture through hands-on activities and more.



Skip the steps and travel from the Haute-Ville (Upper Town) to the Basse-Ville (Lower Town) via funicular, the only one of its kind in North America. Check out the fab UNESCO kids' playground, located in the middle of the Basse-Ville at 113 Rue du Porche. Your kids will feel like voyageurs as they climb the ropes of the ship and model fashions worn by the original inhabitants of the city.

For an outstanding view of the city, step aboard a commuter ferry and sail the St. Lawrence River as you travel from Québec City to  Lévis and back. Ferries leave every 30 minutes in the daytime and on the half-hour during the evening. Expect picture-perfect views of the city's skyline along the ride!

A visit to the spectacular Montmerency Falls Park will give your kids the chance to walk across a 272 ft. high waterfall - that's 98.5 ft. higher than Niagara Falls - via a suspended bridge. The cable car ride to the top of the waterfall is just as thrilling!



Our family stayed at Hotel 71, once the National Bank of Canada's main office in Québec City. With it’s lovely neo-classic architecture, and luxe, spacious suites featuring sweeping views of the St. Lawrence River and Cap Diamant, this hotel is a great pick for families looking for a relaxing retreat after a busy day walking the streets of the old city.


Shop at the Marche du Vieux-Port de Quebec. This outdoor market is a foodie feast; shop for local, seasonal fruits and veggies, organic cheeses and meats, and freshly-baked breads - you'll find everything you need for the perfect picnic lunch.

We recommend the Boutique de Noël for its wonderful selection of Canada-themed Christmas ornaments.

Casse-Crêpe Breton serves the most delicious crêpes - both savory and sweet - you'll ever eat.

Monday, October 20, 2014

7 Reasons Why Greece Is an Excellent Family Travel Destination

Greece is a magical travel destination, where the past and present meld together before a backdrop of stunning beaches and magnificent historical sites. “Paidiá, kalosírthate!” - Children are welcome! - is an expression commonly heard, and your family is bound to create beautiful memories as you explore both the modern cities and ancient history of this fascinating country. Here are 7 reasons why Greece is an excellent family travel destination:

Rhodes, Greece

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Where the Ghosts Are: Spooky Chicago Tours

This post originally appeared at


Many famous ghosts call Chicago home, and on Halloween night, you just might spot some spirits floating around at one of the many haunted homes, hidden cemeteries and historical sites. From Graceland Cemetery, the final resting place of many restless Chicagoans, to Lincoln Park's elusive graves, Chicago has many ghoulish stories to tell. Here are three spooktacular ghost tours that promise a night of chills, thrills and fascinating Chicago history.

Historian-Led Cemetery Walking Tours with the Chicago History Museum
The Chicago History Museum offers several historian-guided ghost tours. You'll want to bring your flashlights along for an exclusive after-hours tour of Bohemian National Cemetery with historian Al Walavich, where you'll see some of the city's finest collections of funerary art by moonlight.
Walavich will also lead a tour of Graceland Cemetery, where you'll see the graves of Marshall Field, Louis Sullivan, Potter and Bertha Palmer, and other famous Chicagoans. Historian Pamela Bannos will tell tales of grave robbers and improper burials at Lincoln Park, a.k.a. the Garden of the Dead, during her mystical tour. Click here for more info or to book a tour.

Ghostbusting at the Lincoln Park Zoo Tour 
This fall, guests will have an opportunity to see Lincoln Park Zoo like never before - through the eyes of the undead. Thursdays in October, unoffical ghostbuster Ursula Bielski of Chicago Hauntings will be giving tours of the 150-year-old zoo. Bielski, a paranormal investigator, uses electronic voice phenomena (EVP) and Chicago history to identify and explain some of the eerie sounds and sights at the zoo once the sun goes down. You'll have a chance to hear EVP recordings from around the zoo and learn more about the buried history that surrounds the zoo's animals.
Tours are available Thursdays throughout October (16, 23, and 30) from 8 - 9:30 p.m. Tickets to Lincoln Park Zoo's Ghost Tours are $28 ($24 for members) and are available for purchase at Due to the nature of the programming, ticket holders must be at least 8-years-old and accompanied by a guardian. Snacks will be available for purchase throughout the evening. For guests who are 21 and older, beer and wine will also be available. For more information about Lincoln Park Zoo's new Ghost Tours and other events, visit

Paranormal Chicago with Chicago Hauntings 
Chicago Hauntings offers fully narrated, historically-based ghost and paranormal tours to haunted spots throughout Chicago. This is the Windy City at its eeriest best; you'll visit murder sites, disaster sites, a serial killer's body dump, gang sites, haunted houses, and abandoned graveyards. Tour guests have reported seeing actual ghosts on several occasions. Tours follow a course of history that starts with the very beginnings of Chicago, traveling from its humble origins as a frontier outpost, through the 19th century, including the Great Chicago Fire and its aftermath, into the 20th century and the gangster era of the 1920s and 1930s, and forward to today. For more information, visit
Photo Courtesy of ThinkStock

Friday, October 17, 2014

#ad Quick and Easy Dessert for Busy Fall Nights: MINI PUMPKIN PIE BRÛLÉES

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

Fall nights are busy nights in our family. Between PTA meetings, Parent-teacher conferences, sporting events and fall festivals - it seems as if every evening we have something to do or someplace to go. It's the last hurrah before we hunker down for winter. 

#ad Take Time Out for Beauty #SuaveHub #Walmart

Disclosure: Special thanks to Global Influence for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own. 

How do you take care of yourself? What do you do to make yourself feel beautiful? How do you take time out for beauty?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Four Not-So-Scary Halloween Events for Little Goblins and Ghosts

This post originally appeared at

Halloween can be a bit too spooky for toddler and preschooler aged goblins and ghosts. Here are four not-so-scary events that will be enjoyed by children of all ages in your family.

Tricks and Treats with the Animals at the Lincoln Park Zoo
The Spooky Zoo Spectacular is an annual event that celebrates Halloween in an animal and family-friendly environment. Collect treats from stations scattered throughout the zoo, participate in make-and-take crafts, learn more about zoo animals and enjoy fun musical entertainment, a not-so-haunted house and more. October 25 from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the Lincoln Park Zoo. For more info, visit

Costume Contest and Trick or Treating at Navy Pier
Dress in your best Halloween costume and head over to Navy Pier for the fourth annual Costume Contest on Saturday, October 25 in the Family Pavilion. First, second and third place prizes will be awarded in the child and adult categories. The best child or adult costume overall will be awarded the Grand Prize, main cabin, round-trip air transportation in the continental U.S. for two provided courtesy of American Airlines! From 12 - 4 p.m., children ages 12 and under in costume are also invited to take part in trick-or-treating throughout Navy Pier, with candy provided by Ferrara Candy Company. For more info, visit

Celebrate with the Snakes at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
You're invited to dine with the slithering snakes at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. This fantastic event has become an annual tradition and a great excuse to wear your Halloween outfit for another night. All kinds of snake themed activities and a pizza dinner are included. Cost: $15/Members, $20/Non-members, $10/Children 3 & up. Tickets and more info at

Shake your bones at Skelebration
At Redmoon's Halloween family event Skelebration, kids and parents are invited into Redmoon's warehouse headquarters for a playground full of artistic devices, imaginative games and interactive installations, including a UFO Carousel, a mausoleum mini movie theater, a devilish comedian, a haunted attic maze and more. Because you're invited to explore at your own pace, together with your children, you can pick and choose which features are for you. Skelebration runs two weekends, Oct. 18-19 and 25-26 in Pilsen. For tickets or more info, visit

Friday, October 10, 2014

Introducing... #ChexMixPopped

Disclosure:The information and prize pack have been provided by General Mills through Platefull Co-Op.

What could be better than two snacks in one? New Chex Mix Popped Sweet & Salty combines your favorite Chex Mix pieces with the buttery goodness of popcorn.

Slow Fashion with Gudrun Sjödén

Disclosure: While Gudrun Sjödén has sent me promotional items for review in the past, all opinions are own. 

You've heard of Slow Food, the movement that was promoted to counter fast food. 

But have you heard of Slow Fashion?

Coined in 2008 by sustainable design consultant Kate Fletcher, Slow Fashion, as described by Hazel Clark, research chair at Parsons, "is about the consumer being aware of the whole process -- from design through productions, through use and the potential to reuse."

Many brands today seem to specialize in wasteful, throwaway fashion. You know it when you see it: cheaply made clothing, flimsy, and ultra-trendy. And it's not just cheaply made: it's so cheap you're simply afraid to think about the life of the person who actually made the garment for you. It's not meant to last more than one season. And it likely won't even make it to the thrift store intact for at least a second run.

As I personally try to be more mindful of clothing choices, I have been making a point of buying high quality pieces that will stand the test of time. Luckily, my body measurements/size haven't shifted much over the years, so when I buy an item, I am looking for a timeless elegance that can carry me through several seasons. It's about not being a slave to fashion. While I am happy to be a great thrift store shopper, I do like to treat myself to some new dresses, coats, and sweaters, that I know will last more than just a couple of seasons, from my favorite brands.

One of my favorite slow fashion brands is Gudrun Sjödén. This is a company that was green before the expression was even coined. As the company founder - Gudrun Sjödén herself - explains, clothing design with a long lifespan is the key element behind the slow fashion movement:

"We think about the environment in everything we do...

Design with a long lifespan – I think this is my most important contribution to a greener, more wonderful world! It has been one of my guiding principles over all these years. My basic belief is that the first priority in minimising negative impact on the environment is not to use so much. I believe that hardwearing clothes in timeless designs that you can wear until they are worn out have the least environmental impact. That's how I myself want to live and work. As a company we can exert a great deal of influence over these matters. For this reason I have tried to give as much consideration to the environment as possible in production as well as our internal environment. Eco-jersey from Greece is just such an example, where the supplier has converted machinery and the cotton grower has swapped his crops, in a process that takes three years to complete. Other examples include our standards on the use of chemicals. Using chlorine-free paper for all our printed material, reducing the amount of plastic and packaging we use, and opting to ship our clothing deliveries by sea in preference to air or road transport are all our conscious environmental choices…"

Here are three cozy, eco-friendly pieces from Gudrun Sjödén, perfect additions to a slow-focused fall wardrobe:

Felted merino wool cardigan

Natty little cardigan knit in a flattering bolero style. Deep scoop neck ornamented with small metal buttons in front and hand-crocheted edges. Don't miss the beautifully embroidered hen on the inside back neck.

"Herbarium" wool shawl

Warm and wonderful woolen shawl with a decorative bordering pattern print. Square form with a simple little fringe edge finish.

"Alaska" eco-cotton/wool poncho

Abundantly patterned poncho in a short design. Just the thing to wear over a long-sleeved top, a dress, as a sozy shawl or why not the standard way - over the bulky sweater or jacket?

You can read more about our ongoing environmental efforts in Gudrun's World

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Flu Shots for the Family: Separating Flu Shot Myths from Facts

Disclosure: Special thanks to CVS / CVS Minute Clinic for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own. 

It's that time of year again! Time for your flu shot!

The Flu Shot is a Must-Do for our family. We get our flu shots every year, and luckily, we have never been hit with the flu in our family. Thanks to our nearby CVS Minute Clinic, we can pop in for the flu mist. It's affordable and convenient, leaving no excuse to not be vaccinated against the flu. Frankly, I don't understand folks that refuse this vaccination, and usually I suggest they read up on the history of pandemic flu