Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Book Review: Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes

Special thanks to Blogging for Books for providing a review copy. All opinions are my own. 


Beholden to bold flavors and not strict authenticity, the editors of Lucky Peach present a compendium of recipes that hit the sweet spot between craveworthy and stupid simple and are destined to become favorites.



Chinese New Year falls on February 8th this year, and 2016 will be all about the Red Fire Monkey. Here's a great cookbook to get things cookin' for the Chinese lunar new year: Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Book Review: The Longevity Kitchen by Rebecca Katz


Disclosure: Special thanks to Blogging for Books for providing a review copy. 


Don’t we all want to live not just longer, but healthier lives?

Culinary nutrition pioneer and author Rebecca Katz poses this question in her latest book.

The Longevity Kitchen by Rebecca Katz


Monday, December 7, 2015

Guest Post: Shopping tips for the holidays


Disclosure: This guest post with links is written by Sam Rimini. I have received compensation for posting and editing. 


Advent calendar - 3 December.png
As we are nearing the much awaited holiday season, many of us are still trying to cross off items from our holiday gift giving list. Holiday shopping can be both fun and hectic. It is fun to select presents for our loved ones but difficult to find this perfect something that everyone will appreciate and also elbow out the other crazy shoppers on the way. The list of people to give gifts to is never-ending from family members to friends and of course acquaintances like teachers, coaches, baby sitters, neighbors and even the dog walker.

Review: mykind Organics organic chewable Vegan D3 from Garden of Life #GardenofLife #sp

Disclosure: Special thanks to Garden of Life for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own. 



As I work towards optimum health, one of my goals for 2016, I'm starting to research supplements. One supplement that I've recently added to my regimin is Vitamin D3, specifically mykind Organics organic chewable Vegan D3 from Garden of Life.


Book Review: Just Add Watercolor

Disclosure: Special thanks to Blogging for Books for sponsoring this post.


Here's the perfect holiday gift for the budding artist in your family:



 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Review: The Mexican Slow Cooker by Deborah Schneider


Disclosure: Special thanks to Blogging for Books for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own. 

Slow cookers are the busy mom's lifesaver. Nothing beats throwing a bunch of fresh ingredients into a slow cooker, pressing a button and then returning home to a warm, delicious and healthy dinner.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Give a Gift that Gives Back with @WorldVisionUSA


Christmas is coming up fast, Here's a way to give a gift that makes a difference. The 2015 World Vision Gift Catalog is filled with gifts that give back. Why gift another throwaway item when you can give a gift that can transform the life of someone in need?


World Vision provides donors the opportunity to give a gift in a loved one’s name, making these the perfect presents to show family and friends love and to spread the joy of the holiday season across the world. And, as an added bonus, there’s nothing to wrap! Since 1996, the World Vision Gift Catalog has grown in popularity as a gift-giving alternative. Last year alone, more than 822,000 people were helped through funds generated by the Catalog.
Goats – World Vision offers donors a variety of livestock to choose from, and goats are their most popular option. One goat is a valuable source of milk and fertilizer for a family. The milk provides children with easy-to-digest protein and calcium, and the fertilizer helps crops flourish. A gift of two goats sets a family on a path towards success as shepherds who can start their own flock. $75 for one, $150 for two
Fruit Trees – Even with all the sweets and treats the holiday season brings, it’s important to remember nature’s candy—and not just for the figgy pudding! Donating five, ten, or fifteen fruit trees can help a family feed itself and start a business. The seed of this gift can blossom for years as a few trees turns into groves and orchards full of good, healthy fruit. Partridges not included. $30 for five trees, $60 for ten, $90 for fifteen
Soccer Balls – Every parent knows one of the best feelings in the world is seeing a child’s face light up like the Christmas tree as they discover what’s been left for them by Santa. Donors can pass that same joy along to kids across the world with their gift of soccer balls, which replace makeshift balls made of banana leaves or rolled-up trash. The global popularity of soccer makes this gift a great way to reach out with a helping hand. $16 for two balls, $32 for four, $48 for six
Career Training for Girls and Women – Empower a woman with this investment in skills training, business education, and, most importantly, hope. With opportunities in weaving, jewelry-making, baking, dairy farming, and more, this gift helps create the chance for mothers and daughters to take their future into their own hands. It’s like they always say: Give a woman a fish, and you feed her for a day. Teach a woman to fish, and you can change the world. $25-$125
In addition to the gifts above, World Vision operates the Where Most Needed fund, which provides for improvements in the quality of life for struggling children and families in the U.S. and around the world. Donors to this fund are eligible to receive beautiful artisanal goods from Africa, India, and Southeast Asia, which make wonderful presents and stocking stuffers. Pledge your support and you can receive a handcrafted gifts to give to a loved one (or yourself!)  
To learn more about World Vision, check them out on social media:
 Facebook: WorldVision
Twitter @WorldVisionNews 


To order from World Vision’s Gift Catalog, call 855-WV-GIFTS or follow this link: 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Unique Holiday Gifts from NOVICA #Giveaway #sp


Disclosure: Special thanks to Novica.com for sponsoring this post and giveaway!


One of my favorite websites for unique, thoughtful and affordable gifts throughout the year is Novica.com. Novica, in association with National Geographic, connects shoppers with artisans from around the world. The artisans featured on Novica set their own prices and receive fair compensation for their work. Take a look at this video to see exactly how Novica works. 
The beautiful nativity sets around the world on Novica.com make wonderful holiday keepsakes!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Time Garden

Disclosure: I was provided a review copy of this book. All opinions are as always my own.

In case you haven't heard, adult coloring books are all the rage right now. I know, I know - the thought of sitting down and coloring.... um.... haven't done that since I was about six years old. If I have a moment of free time, coloring just doesn't spring to mind.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Top 5 Reasons for Renting vs. Buying New Toys


Disclosure: Special thanks to pley for sponsoring this post. All opinions, as always, are my own.

I'm a huge fan of minimalism. I like to keep things simple. I try my best not to accumulate junk. I'm a huge fan of the #KonMari method. I cleared out my closets this year, and I'm down to a few pieces I love - I even use Le Tote, so my wardrobe is constantly rotating, fresh and new, but I only have a few pieces at home at a time. The two areas that challenge me the most, to this day, however, are books and toys. I'm a huge reader, but toys - they are all over the place. Here's a solution! Finally!

Gudrun Sjödén Winter Collection


Disclosure: I am an ambassador for Gudrun Sjödén, and I occasionally receive items for review. All opinions are my own. 


In my longstanding question for comfortable fashions that will carry me from work to play and fit my very active lifestyle, I've found an answer: Gudrun Sjödén creates clothes in unique, colorful designs and natural materials – for women of all ages, shapes and sizes. Vibrant and sustainable, this is a brand that honors women who appreciate individual style and comfortable, organic materials. Here's a look into the lovely winter collection, which my top three picks.

This winter's collection was inspired by green, white and midnight blue. I've chosen my favorite item from each winter color category.

Healthy Stocking Stuffer Idea: Philips Sonicare PowerUp

Disclosure: I received a sample of the Philips Sonicare PowerUp for review purposes. All opinions are my own. 

Every Christmas, I throw in some healthy gifts here and there. A big box of specialty, fresh oranges from Florida, a jar filled with macadamia nuts from Hawaii, an indulgent bath oil. Here's a great idea for a nice stocking stuffer for anyone in  your family: The Philips Sonicare PowerUp.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Fall Family Getaway: Lake Geneva, Wisconsin #familytravel

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



Amy and her son take on the double helix stairway at Lake Geneva Canopy Tours.
  
Most people think of Lake Geneva as a summer family travel destination, but fall is one of the most magical times of year to visit this beautiful and historic resort. Less than an hour and a half by car, Lake Geneva is a perfect day trip from Chicago. This southwestern Wisconsin resort community became popular just after the Civil War, when wealthy Chicago families discovered the beautiful, spring-fed lake and began building summer homes there. You can still see these many historic, lakeside estates by boat or via the 21-mile walking path that circles the entire lake.

Here are five ways to celebrate autumn in Lake Geneva:

PLAY

Set off on the ultimate leaf-peeping experience.

With eight different zip lines high up in the trees, five sky bridges, three spiral stairways and a one-of-a-kind "floating" double helix stairway, Lake Geneva Canopy Tours offer a truly exhilarating experience. I must admit that heights aren’t my thing, but once I gathered up the courage to just let go, I felt safe and secure as I zoomed through the treetops. My daredevilish 13-year-old son joined me on the ziplines and he was thrilled to fly through the forest. Our two guides were funny and full of jokes but also reflected experience and knowledge, putting everyone in our group at ease. If you’re looking for the ultimate family bonding experience and your kids are all seven years and older, book your adventure at Lake Geneva Canopy Tours STAT. And if ziplining isn't your thing, consider challenging yourselves on the High Ropes Excursion through 16 different obstacles or explore the more than eight miles of Arbor Trails designed to accommodate beginner to advanced hiking and/or mountain biking.

Take a unique cruise on the U.S. Mailboat.

Our entire family, most especially my four-year-old, enjoyed hopping aboard the U.S. Mailboat for a guided tour of Lake Geneva. This special cruiser carries on a tradition that began all the way back in 1870, offering the only marine mail delivery of its type in the country. Loaded with 150 passengers, mail, a very brave and agile mail person and a steady-handed Captain, the crew delivers mail to about 60 homes around the lake. We loved watching as the "Mail Jumper" hopped on and off the boat, delivering mail with a smile. The tour operates every day at 10 a.m. - including Sundays when they deliver newspapers - from June 15 to September 15.

Feed baby deer and watch a parrot ride a bicycle.

At Animal Gardens you can pet, hold and feed exotic and farm animal babies. At the deer park, we were even able to hand-feed the deer. The Exotic Bird Show featured eight large parrots that talk, sing and perform tricks. Also on site is The Dancing Horses Show, a live equestrian extravaganza, which can best be compared to a Las Vegas show performed on horses.

Ride a real My Little Pony.

Dan Patch Stables at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa offers pony rides for little cowboys and cowgirls or horseback riding (ages seven and up) through acres of the fall-kissed Grand Geneva property. My daughter is obsessed with My Little Pony, and a ride on a real little pony was a dream come true.

Catch some fish.

Enjoy a family fishing trip with Lake Geneva Fishing Guide Service. You'll set off on a pontoon boat equipped with everything you'll need for a successful day on the water. Another fishing alternative is Rushing Waters Trout Farm, a beautiful 80-acre farm with crystal clear ponds and raceways full of rainbow trout, guaranteeing that you'll score a catch of the day.

STAY

Our family stayed at Lake Lawn Resort in Delavan, a family resort situated on 250 wooded acres alongside two miles of Delavan Lake shoreline in Delavan, Wisconsin, a small resort town that neighbors Lake Geneva. Our large, well-appointed room featured a patio mere steps from Lake Delavan. My two kids (ages four and 13) couldn’t get enough of the outdoor and indoor swimming pools; the 18–hole golf course is another draw. Another top pick for a family-focused resort is The Abbey Resort, on Geneva Lake, in the lovely lakeside town of Fontana.

EAT

Popeyes, a family-owned restaurant known for its fab Friday night fish fry, is a popular pick for lunch or dinner, and is steps away from the main pier which is the boarding site for the U.S. Mailboat cruise. The pretzels and fried cheese curds make a stop at Sprecher's a must-do. Don't miss the handmade fudge and candies at Kilwins in downtown Lake Geneva.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Holiday Book Pick for Your Brainy Teen: Your Daily Brain

Special thanks to Blogging for Books for sponsoring this post. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Every Christmas, I gift my kids several books each. Because the long winter months are perfect for curling up with a good book. My parents did the same for me, and I remember joyously gathering up my new, Christmas morning books, anticipating all the places they would take me, from the comfort of home.

Here's a book I picked for my 14-year-old son, who loves books that focus on science:




Your Daily Brain shows you all the ways your brain works hard throughout the day (even when you think it’s not working at all). It's an invitation to take a closer look at your truly amazing brain.

This book was written by the team behind Marbles: The Brain Store, a chain devoted to building better brains. We love our local Marbles! (If you're looking for fun, education games for Christmas - pay a visit to your local store stat!)

Packed with cool information, tips and tricks to make the most of your brain, this book is a great pick for your teen. Understanding your brain can help you make better decisions (and perhaps hold off on stupid decisions).

Here's what the book promises: "Consider this book a wake-up call, a chance to take a closer look at and jump start your brain. From the minute your alarm clock buzzes in the morning until your head hits the pillow at night, your daily activities—everything from doing a crossword puzzle to parallel parking—are part of a process for how you evaluate the world, make choices and decisions, and reach short-term goals while keeping your eyes on the bigger ones. In each, you have the opportunity to use your brain for better or worse, whether it’s what to listen to you on your morning commute or avoiding mental traps at the grocery store."

You Daily Brain is available now at your local independent bookstore or online. Check it out!



Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Book Review: Happy Cooking by Giada De Laurentiis


Disclosure: I was provided a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own. 


I believe that cooking needs to be done with a happy heart. If you're cooking in a bad mood...the food will taste bad. Better to just call for take away.

And yet with so little time in our busy lives, preparing a healthy, happy meal in a pinch can be difficult. 

Sensitive Skincare for Baby #WaterWipes, #IC #ad @WaterWipesUSA

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by WaterWipes as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review.

Babies so wonderful at bringing out our best selves. Their smiles warm our hearts, their giggles give us pause.

We can't help but want the best for our babies.

Baby's beautiful skin deserves the best, too.

Oh Baby!
Both of my babes have sensitive skin to this day, so I am constantly on check when it comes to the ingredients in body care products. One little irritant can spell big skin trouble for my two. Since day 1, I've had to read the ingredient label on each and every product very carefully. Anything with a fragrance, perfume or certain chemical could set off their skin. I realized this the hard way with both kids: I used wipes that contained irritating chemicals, and a bad case of diaper rash ensued. We all know that an irritated baby is an unhappy baby which equals a crying baby and an unhappy mama. From that day forward to today, I am careful to inspect the ingredients list. Certain chemical products used on my kids' skin can cause major irritation, so I make sure to buy skincare products that only contain natural ingredients.

That's why I'm so pleased to see that WaterWipes has finally made its way to the US. 
WaterWipes is a premium European brand. These chemical free baby wipes contain only two ingredients: 99.9% purified water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract.

These wipes are just as durable and effective as standard wipes, but they don't contain any harmful chemicals. I use them with my own little one because I know they simply won't irritate her sensitive skin. Plus they don't have that strong "fake" smelling fragrance that my little one just doesn't tolerate. They're a safer, natural option for your little one. If you have trouble with diaper rashes, you may want to consider the switch to WaterWipes. Use them for your baby, for your toddler, even for your school age kids that need a little extra help in the bathroom department. These are also great for on the go: since they're so natural, you can even use them for wiping baby's hands when you're on the go. 

WaterWipes are chemical free, so they don’t contain preservatives. The package will keep for up to 15 months before it is opened. Once you open your WaterWipes package, you'll need to use the pack within one month. Also, WaterWipes are not interfolded, to maintain the sterile environment within the package. It's recommended that you do not relocate the wipes in an alternate container. 

You can find WaterWipes in the babycare section of your local Meijer. Don't have a Meijer in your area? Use this tool to find where you can buy WaterWipes in your area.

File:Meijer Thrifty Acres Carpenter Road Store Pittsfield Township Michigan.JPG


For more info on WaterWipes, follow on these social media channels: 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Review: The Time Garden: A Magical Journey and Coloring Book by Daria Song

Disclosure: I was provided a review copy of this book. All opinions are as always my own.

In case you haven't heard, adult coloring books are all the rage right now. I know, I know - the thought of sitting down and coloring.... um.... haven't done that since I was about six years old. If I have a moment of free time, coloring just doesn't spring to mind.


Monday, October 19, 2015

HP Social Media Snapshots Review - Plus a Special BOGO offer! #StickAPic @Staples#sp


Disclosure: This post is part of a sponsored campaign with HP and MomSelect. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


Are your family photos lost in cyberspace? Posted on social media to be long forgotten into the recesses of the internet?

I am so excited to share about a new app that makes photo printing so. much. easier. And a new printing paper product that promises quality prints of all your favorite snapshots. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Boo Boo Monster Bandage Review and Giveaway

Disclosure: Special thanks to Gotta Bandage for sponsoring this post. 

Bumps, scratches and bruises are a part of life when you're an active hiking biking, camping, family. Here's a cute new set of bandages for your little monsters: Gotta Bandage

Are you used to creepy, gory monsters that give you the heebie-jeebies and frighten the daylights out of your kids? Fear not, because Boo Boo Monsters are here! Cover up cuts and scrapes while making new friends. A modern spin on classics, Boo Boo Monsters are cute, approachable and fun-loving… anything but scary. Wear them all, watch them GLOW and have fun!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Cardinal Health™ Hospital Quality at Home™ #BringTheCaringHome #IC #ad



Disclosure: Cardinal Health sent me this product to try, and donated to a charity of my choice.



With two kids, including a teen boy rides a bike to and from school daily, it's inevitable that we deal with bumps, bruises and scrapes. Just last week, my son fell off his bike and we had a badly scraped knee on our hands. With so many families dealing with home care issues - of kids and ageing parents - obtaining the best medical supplies for home care proves a difficult task. There's nothing quite like bouncing from pharmacy to drugstore in search of the right products, among a sea of varieties and brands, when you're in a pinch and just want to get home to care for your loved one ASAP.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Review: Owls by Matt Sewell

I recently received a review copy of Owls, by Matt Sewell, a lovely, illustrated guide to owls around the world.

I'm captivated by owls. Yesterday, I visited Cosley Farm in Wheaton, where a Great Horned Owl was perched, noble and wise, on a branch. They are such beautiful, magnificent creatures. It's no surprise to me that they are so celebrated in stories and myth. The Pawnee tribes of the Great Plains, for example, viewed owls as the symbol of protection from any danger within their realms.

In this lovely, whimsical, illustrated guide, British artist Matt Sewell captures fifty species from around the world. You'll find owls of every size - from the Eurasian Pygmy Owl to the Great Gray Owl - and age - from fluffy babies to wise old owls. The pop-art watercolours and fun texts make this book a wonderful coffeetable read. Owls seem to fit into the fall season for me at least, and I like reading about an owl or two from this book everyday as I enjoy a warm cup of tea from my comfy living room sofa. Guests to my home have also enjoyed this book. Though it would make a lovely gift for the bird-watching enthusiasts in your family, everyone - children, adults and art and design fans alike - will appreciate this thoughtful tome on one of the most interesting, complex and beautiful bird species.

Owls by Matt Sewell is available on amazon.com or at your local independent bookstore.

 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

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


Disclosure: Special thanks to CVS Minute Clinic for Sponsoring this Post


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

Why?

Who has the time or the energy to deal with the flu?

Just do it!



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

Friday, September 25, 2015

Book Review: TRIM HEALTHY MAMA PLAN by Pearl Barrett & Serene Allison The Easy-Does-It Approach to Vibrant Health & a Slim Waistline

Disclosure: I was provided a review copy of this book. All opinions are as always my own.

I'm officially *over* dieting. The thought of counting calories would throw me in a tailspin. I know that being healthy and fad diets don't go hand in hand. At this point in the game, I know I have to fill my body with healthy foods and exercise if I want to be able to stay fit and active.

Family Festival and Year-Round Fun at the Art Institute of Chicago


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


A visit to the Art Institute is a must-do for families visiting Chicago. This world-class museum will knock your socks off with its enormous collection of art - more than 260,000 pieces! This upcoming weekend, the Art Institute will host it's annual Family Festival, a full day of fun, artful activities for families. Here are 10 tips to make the most of your visit to the Art Institute of Chicago. 




This year's Family Festival takes place on Saturday, Sept. 26 from 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Ryan Education Center. The theme this year is Making Place. Families will be invited to create art inspired by the exhibition Making Place: The Architecture of David Adjaye, learn about the beauty of community with performance group In the Spirit, and discover how architects use materials to bring their creative dreams to life in Materials Inside and Out. Take a peek at the day's schedule here. The Family Festival is free with museum admission.

Admission for kids under age 14 is always free! If you plan on visiting the museum more than once this year, membership is a good option. Enjoy perks such as free admission, exclusive invites, and behind-the-scenes access. If you reside out-of-state, you'll receive an additional 10% off.





Sign up for the family programs e-newsletter at artic.edu/e-news. You'll be among the first to learn about upcoming exhibits and programs for families.

The Lions Trail Family Tour is a wonderful audio guide geared towards families with kids ages 5-10. It offers a great overview of the museums collections, with 32 stops along the way, and takes about an hour depending on your pace. Purchase your Lions Trail Family Tour for $7 at the audio guide counter in the Michigan Avenue or Modern Wing lobbies.

The Elizabeth Morse Touch Gallery gives visually impaired kids and adults the chance to discover art through touch: four specially treated sculptures from different time periods encourage everyone to explore the form, scale and texture through touch.

Dollhouse lovers with adore the Thorne Miniature Rooms, 68 mini-model rooms that highlight interiors from the 13th century through the 1930s. These Lilliputian interiors were the inspiration behind the fantastic children's book "The Sixty Eight Rooms" by Marianne Malone- check it out from your local library before your visit to see them in person!





Fans of knights in shining armor will appreciate the Arms and Armor: Highlights of the Permanent Collection exhibit, which features full suits of armor, cannons and even a knight on horseback. Before you go, the names and functions of the basic pieces of a suit of armor on this interactive website.

For family-friendly dining, you can't beat the museum's Terzo Piano, located in the new Modern Wing. The focus in this award-winning restaurant is on local, organic, and sustainable foods in Italian-inspired dishes. If the weather is nice enough, ask to be seated on the patio, where you'll be treated to an amazing city view.

Shop the in-museum gift shops for thoughtful, art-inspired souvenirs. The unique toys and books for children make for fun and educational holiday gifts.

Before or after your visit to the Art Institute, consolidate learning via the fun online stories and games at Curious Corner.

Photos: Adam Alexander; Arms and Armor courtesy of The Art Institute

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Review: Michael Symon's 5 in 5 for Every Season by Michael Symon

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

If you're a working parent, you know how tough it can be to plan and shop for meals. Sometimes it seems easiest to throw in the towel and head to your nearest takeaway joint. Here's a solution for anyone who wants to get dinner - a simple, healthful, home-cooked dinner - on the table in a flash.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

American Girl Place Chicago Hotel Packages for Girls and their Dolls


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

Planning a long fall weekend or holiday visit to American Girl Place® Chicago? With American Girl's latest doll, Maryellen Larkin, having just arrived in Chicago straight from the 1950s, girls are flocking to the store already. American Girl Place Chicago is giving girls the chance to explore the fabulous '50's via free Maryellen-inspired events geared for girls ages 8 and up that include a free craft, a retro photo experience, and free gift. 





Consider making a weekend of a visit to American Girl Place Chicago by spending the night at a Magnificent Mile area hotel that offers special, sweet amenities for girls and dolls. Several Chicago hotels roll out the red carpet for families visiting Chicago with a trip American Girl Chicago in mind, offering special rates and creative promotions for an all-around weekend of fun.


Four Seasons Hotel Chicago (120 E. Delaware Place)

The luxurious Four Seasons Hotel, located just steps from the the American Girl Store on the Magnificent Mile, offers loads of perks for visiting kids. Be sure to let the reservations team know that you'll be traveling with an American Girl Doll: they'll have a special doll-sized bed waiting for her on arrival. At bedtime, you'll all be treated to milk and cookies; expect a surprise visit from the Ice Cream Man, too, who will make you the sundae of your dreams. The onsite Kids Clubroom, filled with toys and games for all ages, and the 50-foot indoor pool - it was the location of Macaulay Culkin's splash in "Home Alone 2"! - make this hotel a Chicago family favorite.



The Talbott Hotel (20 E. Delaware Place)




The Talbott Hotel goes over the top to ensure that girls and their dolls experience a weekend to remember with their personalized American Girl Place packages. There are three packages to choose from: all of them include a personalized welcome letter, a keepsake American Girl fold-out doll bed, milk and two Sprinkles cupcakes at turndown, a $15 breakfast credit per person at the Little Market Brasserie (for a maximum of two people), and one entry into the American Girl quarterly drawing for a doll. The American Girl Place Imagine Package also includes personalized Talbott Hotel stationery, a personalized guest room keycard, six personalized photo postcards by the fireplace and a personalized room service menu, while the American Girl Place Dream Package also includes a personalized pink twin sized blanket, a breakfast in bed upgrade for two people, and a guaranteed late check-out of 3 p.m. so you can squeeze in another day of shopping before you leave town.



Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago (401 N. Wabash Ave.)

Spend a weekend in style at the Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago, where the American Girl Place Package includes a personalized check-in and a personal shopper at American Girl Place. The hotel will provide Cadillac house car service to the American Girl store and you can count on being pampered with special touches throughout your stay: suite guests will also recieve breakfast for two at Sixteen, pajamas and a travel set for Grace. All dolls will receive a tiny bed of their very own and turndown service with a special treat. Set beside the Chicago River, this high-rise luxury hotel also boasts a deluxe indoor pool, a seasonal outdoor terrace and a 23,000-sq-ft spa.



The Drake Hotel (140 E. Walton Place)

The historic Drake Hotel has the perfect package for families looking to celebrate their American Girl with a weekend of shopping and fun. Upon arrival, you'll receive a personalized welcome letter and a voucher for a Shirley Temple or Pink Lemonade in the hotel's stunning Palm Court. Your deluxe room will include a milk and cookies turndown and your American Girl doll will have a iittle bed of her very own. In the morning, enjoy complimentary breakfast at Drake Bros. then take a moment to access the hotel's library of American Girl books.



You can find a full schedule of events at American Girl Place Chicago at americangirl.com/retailinfo/events.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Review: RAW Probiotics™ Kids #spon

Disclosure: I received a sample of this product for review purposes. All opinions are my own. 


School is in full swing, and inevitably, our kids (and teachers!) are exposed to bugs, bugs, bugs. Nothing is worse than catching a fall cold just as the school year begins. It's time to up your defenses, make sure you're eating a healthy diet and getting a healthy night's sleep. Here's a product that can help support immune health:


Book Review: Plumdog by Emma Chichester Clark


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


Our dog Gizmo is a very important part of our family: he protects us from squirrels, doesn't tolerate screaming or yelling, and is always there to greet us with a smile and a tail wag when we get home from a busy day of school.

Here's a book that will charm anyone who has ever owned a beloved dog:

Plumdog by Emma Chichester Clark



"Hello. My name is Plum and I'm a whoosell – that's whippet mixed with Jack Russell and poodle. I especially like swimming, leaping, catching, and croissants, and my favourite fragrance is fox poo. I live with Emma, an illustrator, and Rupert. My sister, Liffey, lives nearby.

Over the last year I've been keeping a diary. Emma has helped with the pictures, but the words are all mine."


Emma Chichester Clark is one of Britain's best-loved authors and illustrators. Her adorable blog, Plumdog, is a wonderful pick-me-up in an internet filled with bad news, celebrity gossip and general junk. It records the day to day life of Plum, her dog, in Plum's own words and Emma's drawings. It's a celebration of life's joys and living in the moment. Dogs are so wonderful at appreciating the small things in life - a piece of bacon that falls on the floor, a nice walk outdoors, a nice cuddle. This books is a great reminder that life is best taken day by day, in gratitude, just as our loving pooches model. It makes a great gift for the dog lover in your life, too.

Check out Plumdog by Emma Chichester Clark, now available at your local independent bookstore or online. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Fall is here! And So Are Seasonal Allergies: 7 Common Questions and Answers on Allergies @MinuteClinic #Spon


Disclosure: Special thanks to CVS and Minute Clinic for sponsoring this post. 


Fall is in the air and so are seasonal allergies. For the millions of people who have seasonal allergies, fall means sneezing, congestion and runny noses. Did you know that 35 million Americans suffer from allergies and don’t even know it? That’s because many people confuse the symptoms of fall allergies with a common cold. Let's clear the air with 7 common questions and answers on seasonal allergies. 



Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Easiest and Best Fall Wardrobe Ever: Le Tote Clothing Subscription Review and $25 Off Trial Discount Code / Coupon


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. 


In my never-ending quest to simplify my life, I started giving Le Tote, a new clothing subscription service, a try last year. It works like Netflix - but for clothing. I'm SO thrilled with great new service that I just want to share - and I even have a  $25 Off Trial Discount Code / Coupon for you to give it a try too!

Here's how it works: you chose five new wardrobe options - or let Le Tote choose them for you. You wear them - cute new accessories! fashionable, seasonal pieces! - and then after you've worn them, you throw them in a bag (yes, Le Tote takes care of the laundry) and send them back in a prepaid envelope. Shipping is free both ways. Then a new box arrives - filled with a brand new wardrobe! and you repeat the same process. Yes, this means that you have an ever-changing wardrobe, fewer trips to your washing machine, and a constantly updated look. 


I let Le Tote choose my wardrobe items for me, and so far they've done a great job finding styles that fit the profile I completed on their site. Everything fits me! By letting Le Tote choose items for me, I also step out of my usual fashion box. 

I am one of those odd women out there who can't stand shopping. I also tend to buy clothing or accessories and after a few weeks, I never want to wear them again. I get tired of wearing the same things over and over again. This makes Le Tote a great option for me: It's like having my own personal shopper, and since I don't have to keep anything, I can just throw everything back into the Le Tote return back and move on to brighter and better pieces without a second thought. If par chance I want to keep an item, I can opt to buy it (and the prices are super reasonable).

One of the main reasons why I like Le Tote, though, is that it keeps my wardrobe updated without breaking the bank. I can count on my wardrobe basics and Le Tote to keep me current and seasonal - with zero regrets, no wasted closet space and no buyer's remorse. Having just cleaning out my closet thanks to the KonMari method, I can't even tell you how refreshing it is to open my closet and only see items that I love. Items that make me happy! 

Here are some of the items in my box this week!

This Sam Edelman dress! I'm wearing it for the first day back to school! 


How did Le Tote know I adore ear pins! These are so cute - I'm going to purchase them so I can keep them.

This cute wrap shirt! I paired it with a pair of dressy pants for a hot summer day of meetings.


All you need to do is sign up and complete your style profile and the Le Tote stylists will send you pieces that fit your lifestyle and tastes - they do an amazing job!

Cost: $49/month for an unlimited amount of totes. You'll receive five pieces, and as soon as you send them back in the pre-paid envelope, you'll receive an entirely new set - shipping / turnaround time is super fast. You can switch things out as many times as you want!

I have a  $25 Off Trial Discount Code / Coupon to share with you! This means that you can receive your first month at Le Tote for less than $25. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Get a Flu Shot, Give a Flu Shot @Walgreens #ShotAtLife




Now through August 21, 2016, when you get a flu shot or any other immunization at Walgreens, Walgreens will in turn provide a life-saving vaccine through the United Nations Foundation's Shot@Life Campaign.
It's easy to get a flu shot at Walgreens and help a child in need!

No appointment is necessary and most insurance is accepted.


Immunization is one of the world's biggest public health success stories. Yet, 1 in 5 children still lack access to the lifesaving immunizations that help keep children in the U.S. healthy. Coordinated worldwide vaccination efforts have made significant progress, particularly in reducing cases of measles and polio.You can be a part of this success story by getting your immunization at Walgreens.

Shot@Life, a campaign of the United Nations Foundation, educates, connects and empowers Americans to help protect children in developing countries from vaccine-preventable diseases. By joining this movement, you can help save a child 's life every 20 seconds by learning about, advocating for and donating vaccines to children who need them most.