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.