Where to Eat in Chicago on Christmas Eve

Where to Eat in Chicago on Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve has always been my grandma’s jam. The day started at 10am and ended at 5pm and was jam-packed with traditions. Traditions are also my grandma’s jam. She has one for every holiday and Christmas had the most.

Actual traditions we endured over the years:

  • Sing happy birthday to Jesus with a large yule log cake.
  • Sing the entire Twelve Days of Christmas song as each grandchild hanging an assigned ornament to the tree (this took forever).
  • Christmas card competition. This was just judging all the Christmas cards my grandma had gotten that year. It was definitely the most fun thing we did. There would be rounds and rounds of voting and it got HEATED.
  • Stocking stuffers. Just like so much present opening really.
  • Sometimes if we had a priest there (so Catholic guys, so Catholic) we would have a mini church service.

Afterward, you’re exhausted and you don’t quite know what to do with yourselves, so my parents never wanted to go home and cook a big nice meal for us especially since we usually hosted Christmas Day dinner at our house. It then became a tradition for us to go out after going to grandmas for a nice dinner that was not at our house. When we lived in the suburbs, it was usually the country club because it was easy and on the way home, but after my mom died my dad stopped going with us to my grandma’s for Christmas (another story, another time) and we started meeting him after for a nice steak dinner downtown. Steakhouses are always open on Christmas Eve which is what started that tradition, and also my whole family loves a good steak or a baked potato (my sister doesn’t eat meat!).

In the spirit of giving, I’ve decided to compile a list of places we’ve gone for Christmas Eve dinner and loved, AND also include some places I know are open for Christmas Eve and I have been before and adore just in case you find yourself joining our family tradition of dining out the night before Christmas.

Steak 48 

We are going here this upcoming Christmas Eve! I have never personally been, but I have seen their delicious looking food on Instagram and I am very pumped up!

Maple & Ash 

We have never been here for Christmas dinner, but we did come for my birthday this year and were blown away by the service and the food since it wasn’t what you’d call typical steakhouse fare. If you’re looking for something that is safe for most people (steak, potatoes), but also has a flair for fun then this is the place. They also give you a complimentary drink when you sit down and it’s just got a great ambiance. At this point though, it might be REALLY hard to get a reservation here since it’s such a hot spot, but always call – you never know!

Bistro Campagne

I used to live up in Uptown, which is where my Dad still lives, so we used to go to a lot of places in the Lakeview/Lincoln Park/Lincoln Square area since it was so close to home. This was one of our favorite dinners because it was so quaint, cozy and festive inside. If you’ve never been, their food is divine and highly overlooked because of their location. If they have mussels on the menu, order them.

Mastro’s 

One of our favorite steakhouses. The food is phenomenal – I mean that butter cake come on. The service is fantastic. They have live music. They decorate for the holidays. This place is always packed on Christmas Eve and there is a reason. The year we went it was so busy we had to sit upstairs! That place is gigantic too so idk how that was even a thing. Highly recommend this place if you want a solid steakhouse holiday experience.

Angelina Ristorante 

This was another restaurant we went to a few times for Christmas Eve dinner before I moved from Uptown to the West Loop. If you live in the area, you probably know it as a happening bottomless brunch spot, but they actually have really good Italian food for a good price point. It’s a very casual setting but good ambiance and everyone there is very sweet. If you’re looking for something a little less populated, I recommend this place. I would call and make reservations though, it gets a little busier the later in the evening. We usually went around 5:30pm for a few years.

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I went here last week for a hosted influencer dinner and was highly impressed. If you’ve never been, it’s a Brazilian steakhouse so you get access to the salad bar which includes basically everything you could ever want to eat including soup, charcuterie, cheese, and tons of salad options – made and premade! Then, they bring out the meat and they don’t stop until you say UNCLE which is my dream meal. Zero jokes there. Then you can access their dessert table which is holiday themed and it’s very delicious and very vegan-friendly. Not that I’m vegan, but they did mention that a lot haha.

Shula’s

As you guys probably remember from my stories with Jim, we attended a special Women in Wine dinner here last Friday which Shula’s will have all month long! You get flights of wine paired with your dinner which includes a flight of filets! Yes, 3 filets of goodness all topped with different things. One topped with lobster, one shrimp and one a simple peppercorn sauce. Not to mention, the wine is all made by female winemakers which is so badass. This promotion doesn’t end until January so make it a point to get there even if you don’t eat out on Christmas Eve!

Somerset

We’ve never been here for Christmas Eve, but I’ve personally been here for brunch and dinner and this place has great ambiance, food, and service – classic hallmarks for a good Christmas Eve dinner so I recommend. Their roast chicken is FANTASTIC!

Siena Tavern 

Can’t say enough good things about this place. If I have friends in town, I usually bring them here because I love their lasagna, the meatballs…ok, really I love it all. They still have reservations which is surprising so definitely hop on that!

Prime & Provisions

I came here for a holiday dinner with my coworkers and we were wow’ed by their menu. The location of this one is perfect too since it’s right on Wacker and easy to take cabs, trains, buses to get here and it has a great view of the river if you get a window seat.

Sponsored Posts Explained

I have been on Instagram since its inception when my friend Jamie introduced it to me. If you scroll way far back in my Insta posts, you’ll see the proof in these horrible, horrible shots of grainy dark food shots.

Back then it was kind of the wild west of Instagram and people didn’t have to say if they were doing an ad or indicate it was sponsored because it was new and it hadn’t really been regulated yet. This was also back when I just had a personal account so it also didn’t really matter to me.

Then brands started to realize they could capitalize on these followings people had garnered on Instagram and sponsored posts started to become more and more prevalent. But if you’re not trying to get sponsorships or advertisement deals for your Instagram, how do you know what all of the different terms for sponsored posts mean. #ad, #sponsored, #partner – what does it all really mean? And how much money are people really making?

One questions I personally get a lot is if I blog for a living and the answer is a resounding NO. I don’t make nearly enough money to support myself from my blog or Instagram alone. However, some people do blog full time, but usually, they have a much larger following than I do which means they have a higher reach. Marketers want to reach a wide audience when they spend money on a campaign and people with 100K followers vs. 7K are usually more desirable. Makes sense! So how do I sometimes work with partners or advertisers? As a micro (very micro) influencer, PR companies and advertisers might be more interested to work with me because of my engagement. I might have a smaller audience, but that audience (aka all y’all) are very engaged with me which means you might listen to me as opposed to a larger blogger who could talk about the same product.

Not all sponsored posts are paid opportunities though. This is where I think people get confused the most. What is the difference between #ad, #sponsored and #partner!?

Legally if you are doing a paid for sponsor post, you must include the hashtag #ad or #sponsored according to the FTC. That means if I am getting paid by the company to create content, I have to disclose that I am getting paid to sponsor the product in question. That’s why so often bloggers or influencers feel the need to say, “Guys, this isn’t sponsored”, because for so long you didn’t have to say it was sponsored and people want you to know the difference between being sold to vs. just liking a product and wanting to talk about it.

If you see the hashtag #partner, that usually means that the influencer/blogger got the product for free in exchange for a post on their feed or stories. However, if you see something like #airbnbpartner, that does suffice with FCC as indicating that it is a paid partnership. Paid though can mean many things and sometimes paid just means getting product or expensive product for free in exchange for content.

Now that we know what these hashtags all mean, where does the trust come in? Well, I can’t speak for all bloggers but I personally only work with brands that already use and trust or do research on and find to be quality products that I think you would also like. To talk about Big Fig mattresses again, I received the mattress almost two months ago so I waited to do my review until I had used the bed a good amount to know that it was something I would recommend to you all. If I hadn’t liked it, I would have returned it to the company and not written the post but I truly do love the mattress. In fact, I’d like to be in that bed right nowwwww. If I also haven’t explicitly said this is a sponsored or partnered post, then know that I was not paid to talk about the product.

Dining out at restaurants is a tiny bit different. A lot of times restaurants will host an event or reach out and offer you a meal on the house. Right now FTC does not require you to say that is sponsored so usually if I get a free meal I will indicate that by saying, “Thank you so much to Restaurant X for having me!” or something to that effect so you know I got the meal for free. Same goes for if I got other product sent to me in the mail, I should disclose that they sent it to me for free to review or test.

And that is sponsored posts in a nutshell and hopefully gives you a better idea of how the whole sponsorship process works on our end and how we bring that to life for you!

 

Rocksbox: The Jewelry Subscription That Keeps My Spending in Check

Rocksbox: The Jewelry Subscription That Keeps My Spending in Check

Let’s start with a confession: I love jewelry. Being plus size means you can’t often shop at regular size stores with confidence that everything will fit, but with jewelry, well that’s another story. I can go anywhere and buy jewels and they will fit! So when I’m itching for a trend, I usually reach for the thing I know will fit: jewelry.

Because of this, I own maybe 30 statement necklaces…half of which I never even wear anymore. I’m not sure I want to know how much money I’ve wasted on cheap jewelry!

Then I heard about Rocksbox. It’s a jewelry membership service that is only $21 a month with designers I know and recognize (and covet like Kendra Scott!).

Here’s how it works:

  1. Log into your account and create a wish list. This was the best part for me because I basically got to curate a little jewelry drawer. Then each month I get some of it in the mail!

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2. You also get assigned a stylist who then curates a box for you every month based on your wish list as well as a style form you fill out when you sign up.

3. Once you verify you like what he/she has picked or selected from your wish list, they send you this pretty package in the mail:

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4. Wear your pieces all month! Or if you like them, but don’t want to buy them, you can keep them longer. Just know you will pay another $21 for every month you keep the jewelry. If you LOVE it so much that you can’t part with it, then you keep it and pay the overall price. That $21 you pay per month will always go towards any purchases you decide to make, and most of the pieces are $20-$40 so you can get a great piece of jewelry out of this deal!

5. Once you’re done with it all, use the prepaid label and the reusable envelope it came it to send it back. Literally just drop it in a post office box (it’s small enough to not have to take to the actual post office which is so great).

6. Then you start the process all over again!

OTHER NOTES: 

  • Each piece is hand-inspected before it gets sent out, so it’s clean!
  • If you buy all 3 pieces, you get $10 off the entire price
  • The company was founded by women and led by women which I personally am a huge fan of!

If you want to try Rocksbox for free for one month, use my code SASSYCONFETTIXOXO in the promo code box!

A Sassy Palm Springs Guide: Part Two

A Sassy Palm Springs Guide: Part Two

Below are some more of my Palm Springs recommendations including shops that you can’t miss, restaurants that are to die for, and the most important walls to take pictures against!

Shopping

  • SHAG: 60s themed art – super fun store that has a little tiki bar that was great for a photo shoot!
  • Christopher Kennedy: This guy is known for being the ‘it guy’ of Palm Springs interior design. His store has tons of fun goodies. I bought a little cactus planter for my apartment here.
  • Trina Turk: The clothes are expensive, but they also have a Mr. Turk store next door that has lots of little trinkets including a lot of Jonathan Adler stuff which I’m a big fan of.
  • Christopher Anthony: Cute art store. All these stores are right next to each other. Basically Palm Canyon Drive has tons of shopping and eating and you can’t go wrong at any of these places, but these were my faves!

Restaurants

  • Eight4Nine: We went for dinner, which was good but not super amazing for the price, but I would recommend coming for drinks and appetizers in the bar area. This place is definitely a scene and has an awesome outdoor chic patio.
  • Purple Palm: Highly recommend for brunch. Their croissant BLTA with a fried egg was to die for. And the restaurant looks out onto the hotel pool, so it’s great for a long brunch with mimosas and a great view.
  • El Jefe: Good Mexican place in the Saguaro hotel.
  • Birba: Cute Italian spot in downtown Palm Springs. Not far from the tiki bar I mentioned in my first Palm Springs guide. Make sure to sit on the patio – it’s got lots of twinkle lights and it’s very magical.
  • Ice Cream & Shop(pe): This place is a two-for-one. They are both a ice cream parlor AND a cute little store. We came here and got date ice cream (SO GOOD) and shopped their cute trinkets including a flamingo pool float that holds my drinks while I sunbathe!

Walls

  • Trellis at Parker: This is something everyone in Palm Springs has a picture with – it’s literally right outside where you walk into the lobby. Also the bellmen are very well versed in taking photos here so use them – they know the best angles!
  • MDMN Mural: This very colorful mural is right outside Trio in downtown Palm Springs. Hit up the parking lot and you will find it!

A Sassy Palm Springs Guide: Part One

A Sassy Palm Springs Guide: Part One

Oh Palm Springs! It’s a wonderland of color, architecture, and modernism and I LOVE it. If you didn’t know before (and you probably do), I love color. Palm Springs basically IS color, so it’s an awesome place to go if you want sun, history, culture, and relaxation. Below are some of my recommendations for hotels, things to see, the best pool party scenes and bars!

Hotels

Palm Springs has some fierce hotel options and while most of the ones below are $$$, they are super gorgeous and even if you can’t afford to stay at one, checking them out for the interiors, architecture or bars/restaurants, is definitely recommended!

  • Parker: God, is this place just #GOALS. The first time I came here was just for cocktails during a bachelorette party and we got to hang out in the lobby and have some spicy margs, but didn’t get much further. This place is so exclusive that a lot of movie stars stay here (Leonardo DiCaprio and Charlize Theron were JUST there according to my Uber driver), so they keep the grounds on lock down only to guests. Even if you’re going to the spa for the day, you can’t just wander around the grounds after. Somehow, we convinced the security guard to let us prance around and we happened upon so many fun nooks and crannies. If you can somehow sneak back here, totally worth it. You could hang out here all day playing croquet, giant chess, ping pong or in their many pools. Also, the spa is so great and I got one of the best facials I’ve ever had. Another fun note: Jonathan Adler just did some of the renovations and the decor is so colorful, quirky and fun.
  • Saguaro: Another place that screams COLOR! I have actually only been to this hotel in Phoenix because the last time we were there was the big White Party and it was mayhem trying to get on property, but this place is great to stop by and explore and take some Instagram pics 🙂
  • The Colony Palms: This is where I stayed this past weekend and my sister and I were big fans of the relaxing pool (this is NOT a party pool by the way), big fluffy robes, and good drinks. Their restaurant is really great, so I highly recommend coming here for a drink or dinner.

Things to See

  • That Pink Door: This is someone’s actual home that people come to take photos in front of all. damn. day. I am no exception. I came here with a gaggle of girls during my friend’s bachelorette and we did a full on photo shoot and it was great. The address is 1100 E Sierra Way if you feel so inclined to do the same! And don’t forget to use the hashtag #thatpinkdoor. Yes, it has it’s own hashtag.
  • Elvis’s Honeymoon Hideaway: Mid-century modern architecture runs rampant in Palm Springs, and one way to see it is by bike. That’s what my friends and I did when we were there last May. It was hot as Hades but we biked all over including to Elvis’s Honeymoon Hideaway, which was also his and Priscilla’s home for two years in the ’60s. You can go in and get a tour, but we just biked by and stopped for some photos.
  • Self-guided architecture tour: I am huge in history and architecture, so checking out some of that while we were there was important to me. Click the link here for some of the better spots to check out and you can do your own tour – with a car or a bike!
  • Tramway: This past weekend was my first time going up the Tramway, and it was a really fun little trip. We went up and had some lunch and lots of wine (whoops!) and just chilled. The view is spectacular and a little chilly so bring a jacket. Pro tip: they have full bars at the main level where you pick up the tram and another one at the top, so you can drink while you wait for the tram on both sides!
  • Lisa Vanderpump’s Star: While you’re shopping, you have to stop and get a picture with Lisa Vanderpump’s star on the Walk of Fame. I’m a huge Housewives fan, so this was a must for me. You can find her star at 155 S. Palm Canyon Dr.
  • Joshua Tree National Park: FYI, the national park is only about an hour away from Palm Springs, so if you have a car I HIGHLY recommend checking it out. We went at sunset for a picnic and I wish we had had more time to explore.

Pool Parties

  • Riveria at Palm Springs: This place is a bachelorette heaven and has great DJs, fun cocktails (get the mojito!) and sometimes have fun pop-ups around the pool. When we were there they had a free tequila tasting! If you want a fun party atmosphere, I highly recommend their pool party.
  • Saguaro: I mentioned them above, but you should for sure check which DJs are playing while you’re there because that totally indicates whether it will be a rager or not. I still need to get here, but I’ve heard this place gets wild.
  • Ace Hotel & Swim Club: This place is all about the pool parties and often have different themed ones, so check out their calendar to see what’s happening while you’re there because it’s probably worth checking out.

Bars

  • Bootlegger Tiki: This is the cutest little tiki bar speakeasy in the middle of downtown Palm Springs. Cocktails are great, inside is adorable.
  • The Purple Room: This was a Rat Pack hang-out back in the day and still acts as a traditional supper club with live entertainment. I did not get to go, but I’ve heard it transports you back in time. Def make a reservation and get a martini.
  • Woody’s: If you can’t get a reservation at the above, I recommend here. It’s more casual, has great burgers, and the Frank Sinatra-esque live music. A lot of musicians also hang out here so you never know who you will see!

Check back next week for more of my Palm Springs recs – including restaurants and walls!

 

Travel Essentials: Sassy’s Expert Packing Tips

Travel Essentials: Sassy’s Expert Packing Tips

Last week, I gave you some short tips for being a better packer in my Instagram stories, so I thought I’d transcribe them as well as some of my other expert packing tips here for your next trip! Ironically, my next trip starts this Thursday…yep, leaving Chicago again for sunny California and some downtime with my family.

1. Lay out all your clothes day by day before putting them in your suitcase.

This is my number 1 tip for all time. It really helps eliminate wasting space and also overpacking. I will lay out my outfits literally day by day that I will be somewhere. For example, I’m going on a trip this weekend so I will lay out my clothes from Thursday plane outfits to Sunday plane outfits and everything in between. This includes laying out accessories and shoes! This way you don’t forget anything at home and you have no confusion about what to wear moment to moment. The only issue is that you are then required to wear what you bring, so I usually bring one back up outfit just in case something doesn’t speak to me while I’m gone. But ONLY ONE.

2. Minimize how many pairs of shoes you bring by picking outfits that share similar shoe choices. 

Even if you’re just bringing a carry-on, that carry-on can get mighty heavy if you are dragging around multiple pairs of shoes. So to mitigate that problem, I usually try to wear outfits that share similar shoe choices. The only time this is hard is when I’m traveling for work and know I need to be on my feet a lot. It is usually nice to switch up your shoes daily to avoid your feet feeling like actual death. If you need a lot of shoes, then I recommend lighter clothes 🙂

3. Pack each section of your suitcase by when you’re going to wear it. 

When I get somewhere, I don’t always love unpacking my suitcase especially if I’m only there for 2-3 days. So I usually like to pack bottom to top based on the days I will be there. Put the items you know you won’t need until the end of the trip at the bottom of the bag and work your way up. I try to keep my first outfit, pajamas, underwear at the top of the suitcase for easy access and then use a drawer in the hotel for my dirty clothes until the end of the week/weekend and then dump all the dirty in together!

4. Include your heaviest items as part of your plane outfit. 

This usually only pertains to the winter months, but I usually like to include my heaviest coat or shoes as part of my outfit for the plane so they don’t take up a lot of space in my suitcase that can be used for more important things like my hair styling tools. Heaviest shoes, or just ones that take up a lot of space, are either booths or running shoes. Running shoes that rarely ever get used by the way, but I bring them everywhere like I will suddenly be someone who works out when they travel.

5. Always have your bathing suit, underwear, and toiletries at the top of your suitcase. 

There have been many times I’ve been asked to check my bag last minute because it’s a small plane or there isn’t room on a connecting flight if I show up late, and my luggage has been lost a gooooood amount. So I’ve learned that when that happens, I usually grab the important things from my bag before handing it over. This means they need to be at the top! If I’m traveling somewhere tropical that means grabbing my swimsuit (I’ve been in St. Thomas for a week with no bathing suit…it was horrible),

 

Travel Essential Series: Shop My Beauty Bag

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I leave for Orlando tomorrow for work (eek – it’s gonna be a big week!) so I’m doing a travel essentials series for you guys! Earlier this week, I gave you a list of all my fave Netflix shows to binge watch on flights, and when I’m not at work dinners, and today I am going to share all my fave travel beauty must-haves!

Let’s start with what you need in your carry-on first. I fly a LOT, so I’ve learned over the years, especially as I get older, that moisture is key. That’s why I always fly with Evian facial spray and Rohto drops in my carry-on. A water mister probably sounds stupid, but it’s seriously changed my life on long flights. Spray it on a few times during the flight and especially after you wake up from a long nap. It’s refreshing and hydrating and just plain feels good! My eyes are naturally dry so I tend to travel without my contacts in if it’s an international flight, but if I’m just flying in the US, I always have Rohto with me. It’s like Icy Hot for your eyes and brings relief quickly and stays a lot longer than normal eye drops from the drug store.

To keep the hydration theme going, lately, I’ve been traveling with a lot of face masks and eye pads. My favorite eye patches are by Klorane:

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There is nothing better than after a long day of work, coming back to your hotel room and just laying back with some cooling eye pads. Plus, hotels dry you out! I usually start with a face mask and then end with the cooling eye patches. My go-to masks are the Say Yes line. Particularly love their charcoal face mask!

Getting ready in the mornings usually has to be a quick and ready type thing for me. When I’m on-site for events, I usually work late and get up early. So a quick shower, some dry shampoo, and a perfume bath are usually what happens.

My favorite dry shampoo is by Batiste and you actually can buy travel sizes of it on Amazon! They sometimes have it at Target, but they didn’t this time so I’m traveling with a Tresemme one that I don’t love as much.

Finding travel size perfume is usually not fun either. Sephora sells rollerball version of most popular scents. My favorite is Marc Jacobs, which you can also purchase on Amazon as well. I also sometimes will buy some scents from Pinrose. They have little perfume wipes that I like to travel with and that also allows me some variety of perfume scents which you don’t usually get when you travel!

Best thing I travel with though is my Tangle Teezer. I get HUGE knots in the back of my hair if I don’t wash it daily (even if I brush it often), and I have a really sensitive scalp so getting the knots out is not fun. This brush somehow gets the knots out without hurting your head at alllll. They have a travel size which I just recently bought to take with me everywhere. Obsessed.

And that, my friends, are my travel beauty essentials!

Travel Essential Series: Netflix & Fly

I travel a lot for work, which means I spend a lot of time in the air! Most of the time, I have to log onto wifi and do some work, but sometimes I like to sneak in some recreational time and either read or sit back and Netflix.

I’m sure this isn’t news to a lot of people, but did you know if you have the Netflix app that you can download their shows so you can watch them without streaming!? This isn’t just great for planes but great for any kind of public transportation situation. So, I like to load up on some shows just in case I don’t want to use a lot of my battery whilst traveling. Below are some of my favorite shows available on Netflix now AND are downloadable (because not all of them are!).

Schitt’s Creek 

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Oh man, this show gives me so much joy. It’s about a family who loses all their money and the only thing they still own is a town called Schitt’s Creek and they move there and small-town hilarity ensues. Eugene Levy wrote this with his son Daniel who also stars in the show. Things I love about this show: Moira’s accent, anything to do with Alexis, and 100% I want to be bff with David.

The Confession Tapes 

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If you liked Making of a Murderer, you will like Confession Tapes. Each episode follows someone who was coerced into giving a confession and later backtracked claiming that the police made them confess to something they didn’t do. A lot of this for me was a did they/didn’t they guessing game. Some of the stories really made me nauseous that this is our justice system. Moral of the story: always get a lawyer.

Glow

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Anytime I suggest this show, people are always like, ‘A show set in the ’80s about girl’s wrestling? Pass.’ But for real, this show is really funny and heart-warming and apparently based on a true story of a real-life show from the ’80s called “GLOW”. Alison Brie is really great in this as a struggling actress who answers an add to be on this new reality show. It’s short 30 min. episodes and I blew through the first season in one day. It’s cute, it’s quirky and I highly recommend.

Last Chance U 

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I am a thing for documentaries and this was one of the first ones I streamed on Netflix. It’s about a community college in East Mississippi that takes in players that have been removed from their Division 1 schools for disciplinary reasons to give them their last chance to possibly be recruited back into a D1 school so they can eventually go on to the NFL. The first season is fascinating and really sort of plays out like a Friday Night Lights episode meets The Blind Side. You don’t need to like football to like this!

Hasan Minaj: Homecoming King 

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Hasan Minhaj’s stand-up comedy special is less stand up and more like a stand-up memoir about his life. He starts with how his parents met, how he lived for a long time alone with his dad in America while his mom was in India, and moves on to his life going up in California with immigrant parents. I learned a lot about the Indian culture during this special, which isn’t something I could say about others and it’s freaking hilarious to boot.

The OA 

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This is one of those shows that I want to tell you to just watch without really giving you any context. If you’ve watched any other films of Brit Marling’s, you’ll know this gets a little out there in terms of storyline and content, but I love the storytelling of it and how it keeps you guessing at every turn. If you don’t like sci-fi, this is not for you.

Marcella 

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The show opens up with a woman in a bathtub covered in blood but alive. Is she a victim of a crime or a perpetrator? We don’t know. Then we find out, this woman in the tub is the main character and she can’t remember what happened the night before. I love murder shows and I love psychological thrillers. This combines both. Marcella is a former cop who gets brought back onto a case because a serial killer has seemingly come out of retirement, but how is she linked to it? We don’t know and SHE doesn’t know which makes this show ten times more thrilling.

Sassy’s Book Club: My Favorite Books of 2017

Sassy’s Book Club: My Favorite Books of 2017

If you read my post the other day you got to learn more about my writing aspirations growing up. So, it will hopefully come to no surprise that I am an avid reader. Growing up, I was obsessed with the Bronte’s and Jane Austen and also any chick lit I could devour. I don’t read as much as I used to as an English major, but I still try to read at least 20 books a year (thanks for keeping count Goodreads!). Speaking of Goodreads, follow me if you want to see real life updates of my 2018 reading challenge progress!

Below are some of my favorite books that I read during 2017 (and some in 2016, but were too good to not tell you about!). I also linked them all in my Amazon Shopping List!

We Are Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Fowler

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This book was actually recommended to me by my friend Ellesse after I asked for some recommendations mid-year because I was almost exclusively reading books recommended by The Skimm and being super disappointed in them. Do NOT read The Light We Lost, by the way, it’s horrific and I can’t believe The Skimm recommend it. Anyway, this book is a delight. It somehow manages to be funny and serious at the same time. The writing is smart, sassy, and the topic is intriguing. I’ll give a tiny synopsis, but I don’t want to give anyway away so this is going to seem pretty vague. The story is about a girl in college whose brother has disappeared, and it is somehow connected to another disappearance of someone in her life who felt like family. It’s not really a mystery, but more like a mystery of trying to figure out who these two people were in the protagonist’s life. Read this. It really is spectacular.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

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This is one of the books that I read in 2016, but it’s one that I recommend anytime someone asks for a book recommendation. This one was a fast read for me, mainly because each chapter follows a different person within this one family that originated in Ghana. The interesting twist is that the story starts with two sisters of a Fante tribe. One of the sisters is captured and traded to Englishmen to be shipped to America and be sold into slavery, while the other stays in Ghana. The story unfolds over 300 years, but each chapter zeroes in on one person and it progresses up until modern times. I learned so much about the slave trade in this book, but also just about progress, or lack thereof, that our countries have made since then. Fantastic read. Couldn’t put it down.

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

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OK, I’ll admit it. This was no The Girl on the Train, which is why I think it doesn’t get a high rating on Goodreads. However, I found the content highly intriguing. I’ll agree, there are a lot of characters in this book and at first, it’s hard to keep them all straight, but see it through and trust me you will not regret it. What the book descriptions don’t tell you is that this book is anchored in witchcraft. Meaning these turbulent waters that all these women die in are connected to witches being taken to them to see if they could float back during the Salem Witch Trials era. If you could float, you were a witch and if you sunk, you weren’t a witch, but usually died anyway. The story follows a slew of different female characters and their connection to the water and I found it very interesting once you figured out who was who. I kept a little list on my bookmark while I was reading it to make sure I didn’t forget each character’s little back story.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

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Cue the sobbing. This memoir is about a young doctor who is diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and begins to write about his experiences because as a young boy, he had debated between a career in medicine or in literature. The memoir is really about what makes a life worth living and it’s poetic and beautiful and lyrical. Kalanithi is really a genius with words and it’s crazy how talented he was. If you’ve dealt with cancer in any aspect of your life, this is a hard read, but very much worth it. This one was recommended to me by my father and sister since we have all dealt with a lot of cancer in our lives and it was very therapeutic.

Shrill by Lindy West

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If you are curvy (and even if you’re not), I highly recommend this read. West’s memoir is about not fitting in and how she dealt with that and is still dealing with it now with her highly public battle with Internet rolls. I found myself taking screenshots of multiple pages to go back later and to read and bring up in conversations, which to me is always a sign that something is sticking and resonating with you and therefore should be recommended to others to read as well.

Blackout: Remembering The Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola 

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This book was recommended to me by one of my fellow book club members, Sami, and I really enjoyed it. Hepola is very self-deprecating, one of my favorite traits about myself btw, and while the story she tells is very sad and sometimes hard to hear, she somehow makes it…I don’t want to say funny because it’s a serious topic, but yea it does have a good amount of humor.

A Sassy Nashville Guide: Part Two

A Sassy Nashville Guide: Part Two

So far, we’ve covered my favorite on Broadway, breakfast/brunch spots and shopping of Nash Vegas. Let’s move on to the meat and potatoes of Nashville – the murals, dinner, and sight-seeing!

Murals

  • I Believe in Nashville: located at 2706 12th Ave South. This one is an icon and even though it’s overdone, you have to do it. It’s also right near most of the shopping in my last post so if you go shopping in the 12 South area, you will definitely not miss this mural.
  • Draper James Stripes Mural: located at 2707 12th Ave South. You guessed it, this one is on the Draper James storefront! Go shopping and see a mural.
  • Nashville at Heart: located at 2705 12th Ave South. Show your #NashvilleatHeart by visiting this mural done by the American Heart Association!
  • Ian Ross + Jason Woodside Murals: located at 11th and Laurel in the Gulch area of Nashville, which is right across the street from yummy brunch place Milk & Honey. These are two different murals right next to each other which means double duty without a lot of travel to grab your shots!
  • Google Fiber mural: located in East Nashville at 1012 Woodland St. aka outside Five Points Pizza. All the color, all the fun.
  • Star mural: located at the corner of Martin St & Humphrey St in the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood. Good if you’re wearing a very bright colored outfit!

Dinner Spots

  • Husk: I could not be more in love with this place. It’s got such great Southern charm. The food is magnificent (esp the charcuterie board) and even if you don’t get food here, you can saddle up to their bar and just get a cocktail and apps. But for sure worth the price tag.
  • Five Points Pizza: a very casual spot in East Nashville. Their garlic knots are out of this world. They have local beer and wine in tap from City Winery. Their pizza is creative and different – like this vodka sauce pizza we had. Perfect hungover food.
  • Pharmacy Burger Parlor: this is a great spot for the summer because they have an awesome beer garden and great burgers that come with tots. Do I seem obsessed with tots? Because I am.
  • Rolf & Daughters: this is not an exaggeration, but this is the literal best meal I’ve ever had in Nashville, hands down. I had this fabulous duck for my entree, but the starters were real stand-outs. The beef tartare toast was just sensational and the butternut squash which didn’t even taste a thing like a squash. If you can get squash to taste not like squash, you can come cook for me anytime!

Sights to See 

  • Parthenon: I’ve never been to Athens, so I can’t attest that this is as grandiose or as beautiful as the actual Parthenon, but it was pretty incredible to see a full-blown replica in the middle of Nashville. Apparently, it was built to celebrate the state’s 100th anniversary because of the city’s nickname for being the Athens of the South. This nickname comes from all the universities and colleges in the city. Nashville was THE place to go to school in the 1800s/early 1900s if you lived below the Mason Dixon.
  • Ryman Auditorium: the first time I was in Nashville, I got to see the Opry at the Ryman since the Gaylord hotel was being renovated. It was the most amazing experience. I highly recommend seeing the Grand Ole Opry show at the Ryman if you can. It’s a radio program that is broadcast live and all sorts of different performers come (some very famous!) and perform. We got to see Jimmy Dickens there as well before he passed, which if you are a country fan you know that’s a big deal! They also just do tours during the day, which if you are a history fan, I highly recommend.
  • Country Music Hall of Fame: I really only recommend the hall of fame if you are a big country fan. I love country music so it was fun for me to see all the costumes and memoribilia, but if you aren’t into country music this probably isn’t the place for you. They do have a good amount of Taylor Swift stuff, so if you’re a big Swiftie then it might be worth it!

3 Cocktails to Make your Cold Days (or Nights) Warm & Cozy

3 Cocktails to Make your Cold Days (or Nights) Warm & Cozy

It has been a dream of mine for a while to get out of Chicago for NYE. It just feels more exotic somehow! So this year, my friend and I decided to go visit our friend who moved to Nashville two years ago. Nashville seemed like a good idea since it’s usually a lot warmer than Chicago and we were hoping to wear fall coats and boots and romp around the city sight-seeing.

Of course, it ended up being a balmy 9 degrees most of the weekend so staying warm was key! And since it was a vacation, after all, we figured the best way to do that was to spike our coffees and hot chocolates as we ran around Nashville using Solo Hot Cups to Go.

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you can get solo hot cups to go at the grocery store!

Below are some of my favorite recipes for spiking my hot beverages in the winter. These are great to transition from afternoon to night too and keep you caffeinated and warm. And they are all SUPER easy because as you all know, I am all for the simple and easy when it comes to cooking or making a beverage. That way you can consume it sooner and faster! And by using Solo Hot Cups to Go, it was a simple and easy cleanup. In other words, there was no cleanup!

 

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The Hot Bird

  • 1.5 ounces Songbird Coffee Liqueur by Cardinal Spirits
  • 6 oz. hot coffee
  • Whipped cream

This one is simple. Just add the liqueur to your coffee and top with whipped cream (or don’t!) and you’ve got one spiked hot coffee that is good to go sight-seeing with!

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An Irish Winter

  • 1 1/2 oz. chocolate flavored whiskey
  • 1 hot chocolate packet
  • A dash of peppermint oil/extract
  • Marshmallows

Make your hot cocoa. I’m a single lazy girl, so I buy either buy my hot chocolate at a coffee shop or get the pre-made packets from the grocery store and then add the whiskey and peppermint oil and top with as many marshmallows as I please! I love this one because it tastes nothing like alcohol and everything like chocolate and peppermint! It’s like a Frango mint.

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Spicy Cumin Margarita 

  • 2 oz. Spice Note cumin tequila
  • 2 oz. lime juice
  • 2 oz. simple syrup

OK, I know I know. This one is not very warm. In fact, you probably want some ice in your to go cup. But, this tequila warms you up with one sip because it’s spicy! And the to go cups keep your hands the perfect temperature! Place all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake it like a salt shaker and then pour over ice (or don’t pour over ice if you’re freezing!).

 

Sometimes You Don’t Want to Be Home for the Holidays

Growing up I loved the holidays. And not just Christmas, I loved any and all holidays. I loved decorations and traditions and having fun meals and spending time with family. None of that really seemed unique to me. I didn’t know anyone who didn’t look forward to holidays or Christmas. Of course, that’s because I lived in a bubble. I had a happy, healthy family. We lived in a nice, safe neighborhood. I didn’t want for anything. Nothing bad had ever really happened to me before.

In 2004, I was in the last phases of my senior year in high school. I was super ready to leave my bubble. I wanted to experience everything and anything and most importantly, be far, far away. I even applied to college in Scotland (the same one as Prince William obviously cause I thought for sure if we met I’d become royalty…even writing that makes me want to barf).

It was right after Christmas in 2003 actually that my whole bubble burst before I got the chance to burst out of it myself. One day before school, my mom had a seizure. This was not a normal occurrence. She had been perfectly healthy up until this point. A trip to the ICU and about a week later, my mother was diagnosed with a malignant glioblastoma. This is the same cancer John McCain was diagnosed with and passed away from this year. It’s an incredibly fast acting brain cancer and is not curable. It is operable and my mom did have surgery, but that was just to give her a few extra months with us. She was given about a year to live.

Despite all this, I did end up going away to college, but stayed somewhat close to home and ventured out to Connecticut. Sidenote: I love how I thought Connecticut was going to be soooooooo different than how I grew up. Newsflash past Alex: it’s exactly the same only in New England. I don’t regret going to school out there because I met some of my best friends and had the time of my life, but omg how laughable that I picked Connecticut to really get to know the world. Facepalm.

Fast forward to the holidays next year. My mother, who had been given a year, was now in hospice. Honestly, looking back on it, the whole season was a blur. We knew she wasn’t well. We knew hospice meant she would probably die soon. My mother was also very delusional and kept telling us she had hidden presents all over the house, which she had not done. In fact, we barely gave each other presents that year. If we did, I don’t remember it. I just remember being at the Hospice for days and days. And that was my last memory of a holiday with her and it stuck with me for a long, long time.

In the years following, I had become the person who did not look forward to Thanksgiving or Christmas because it was just one more reminder of something I had lost. I lost a parent and we lost our traditions along with her.

I started to not even try to go home for the holidays saying it was too short a time frame to fly back and it would just be easier to stay and go to my friend’s houses instead. I spent many Easters with my friend April’s family, long weekends off at random friend’s parent’s houses. I got really close with my friend Andrea’s family because I basically lived with them for a summer. Any opportunity to not go home was one I took up. Going home was too painful and a lot of people didn’t understand that.

Grief is different for everyone. I know that first hand because each person in my family dealt with my mother’s death differently. My way was distance and complete disdain for happiness around the holidays.

One way we started to cope with the sadness was by traveling. Instead of being in Chicago for the holidays, we would go away instead so we weren’t reminded of how it used to be. Thanksgivings were spent in San Francisco, Saugatuck, and most recently Mexico City. Sometimes we would travel for Christmas too – a few years back we went to London for the holidays and it was one of the best Christmases ever.

 

It’s been 15 years since my mom died and it’s not something I will ever “get over”. It’s something that starts to slink away and just hurts at the edges when you remember something or you think of something they told you or while eating a meal they liked to cook and it’s a knife right in the stomach for sure every time you think about them, but it gets duller and duller.

I’m glad my family and I were able to work things through, which I recently wrote a whole post about if you’re so inclined to read, and we’ve started our own new traditions – ones that my mom was not a part of and therefore aren’t as painful but still fun for us at the holidays. It hurts less and less to be in Chicago at Christmas thankfully, but what has changed is that I get it now. I get the pain that surrounds the holidays for some people. It’s horrible and lonely and all-encompassing.

And it’s made worse by people who just do not get it. So often friends of mine would want to do holiday-themed activities, or talk about their traditions, or talk about what their parents were getting them for Christmas, and it wasn’t fun for me and they just didn’t understand. My Christmas would never be the same, so talking about the past was not fun because it wasn’t my future or present anymore and that hurt because again I was only 19. My mom should have been around a lot longer and should have seen my kids open presents Christmas morning and enjoy a prime rib dinner that evening, but she would never get to do that.

All of this is just to say, I see you. I see you if you aren’t excited about the holidays. I see you if you can’t see the cheer in the air or if you hate Hallmark movies because they are absurd and make you want to cry instead say, “awwww.” I’ve only just started to come out of the fog and you will too someday. And if you don’t, that’s OK too. There are plenty of ways to avoid Christmas (see above) and you are 1000% supported by me if that’s what you need to do to get through it.

My 7 Favorite Christmas Activities in Chicago

Growing up, Christmas, like so many other kids, was my favorite holiday. I had a lag in holiday spirit during my early 20s, but last year I started to feel ready to celebrate with vigor again and I personally think Chicago is one of the best places to delight in Christmas cheer! I am biased, I did grow up here but that means I know all the cool things to do! So here are my recommendations if you’re looking to fill up your holiday calendar:

  1. Have a glass of wine at Marshall Field’s Great Tree.

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Sorry, Macy’s! We are never calling this the Macy’s State Street Great Tree. Marshall Field’s was a Chicago department store staple that went defunct in 2006 and was bought by Macy’s. Luckily, Macy’s kept the structure of the store alive since it’s such a landmark and continued the tradition of the Great Tree. Basically, it’s just a giant tree in the middle of a big restaurant but you can eat right underneath it and they have women dressed as fairy princesses wandering around granting wishes and most of the food is holiday themed.

PRO TIP: The food here has gotten worse and worse over the years and it’s really not worth coming for a full meal (especially now that it’s a buffet – so weird!), so I recommend skipping the long line to get a table and sit at the wine bar that is just to the right of the tree. You still have a great view and you can get a partial a la carte menu and just get the Frango Mint pie, a poinsettia (it’s sparkling wine and a splash of cranberry juice) and thank me later.

2. Shop local on the West Town Winterfest Jolly Trolley!

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I was invited to the Jolly Trolley last year and it was probably the most fun I had all holiday season. Here’s how it works: you pay $20 to have a seat on the Jolly Trolly that is packed full of booze and Christmas music and people ready to shop! It stops at 4 different locations around West Town and you have about an hour to shop at each stop. They give everyone a little map of the area too so you know which shops might have special discounts or are giving out mimosas or free cookies! It’s a way to shop local for the holidays and have a great day out with girlfriends or family. Some of the people I met on the trolley have been going to this for years!

3. Enjoy a holiday concert. 

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Last year, my sister and I went to see Hanson in concert for the holidays and they performed just their Christmas album. I didn’t expect to like it that much since it felt like it would just be a sing-a-long, but really it was so fun and the camaraderie in the room was infectious. So going to a pop-centered holiday concert is a new thing I love doing during the holidays. In fact, I’m going to see Brett Eldredge tonight! If you’re looking to still go this year, I hear Pentatonix is in town doing their newest album and so is the Trans Siberian Orchestra!

4. Bring your own schnapps to Zoo Lights. 

Zoo Lights is like a Chicago holiday requirement. Some years I’ve even gone twice! If you’re not from Chicago, the Lincoln Park Zoo lights up their zoo with a huge lights display and even some light shows displayed to music (Feliz Navidad! Mariah Carey!). One year, a friend and I went to Brew Lights – so fun! But it sells out fast. So last year, we decided to make our own fun and bring our own spiked hot chocolate to walk around the zoo with. It is almost all outside, so come prepared to be cold and definitely check out the ice sculpture display!

PRO TIP: Make a reservation for somewhere after if you are looking to have dinner. Places get bombarded by families and you will not be able to just walk in anywhere unless it’s a bar 🙂

5. Host a cookie exchange with friends!

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Not in the mood to make 3 kinds of cookies this year? Easy answer: have your friends help. We’ve been doing this tradition of having a cookie exchange for the past two years and it’s so fun! Each person brings about 15-20 cookies and everyone takes home 4 or 5 types of cookies. We also added a fun element of doing a champagne blind taste test competition last year. We each had to pick our favorite sparkling wine out of 5 on the table. I won because sparkling wine is my JAM.

6. Go on a Christmas Bar Crawl of Wrigleyville. 

It used to be that your one option to see an awesome Christmas bar in Chicago was limited to Butch McGuire’s. Not the case anymore! Chicago has 3 or 4 holiday pop-up bars opening up just for December and most of them are all within a few blocks of one another! Wrigleyville has the most and a few friends and I might just make a pilgrimage to try them all out next weekend! Here is a list from Eater of all the bars that are dressing up for the holidays.

7. Take a holiday crafting class. 

Last year I took TWO crafting classes during the holidays and I had so much fun. One was at Bottle & Bottega and we painted wood pallets with little holiday sayings like “Let it Snow!” This year, they are doing holiday tote bag painting too! I also took a class with my favorite crafting queen of all time Jocelyn. Her company, J.Villa Workshop, does fun classes like making your own holiday needlepoint or your own decorations for wrapping presents. She is so calm and does a great job of teaching each and every one of her students. I’ve taken 3 of her classes and I am not a very good crafter myself so take that as a testament! She’s not offering any holiday classes this season (she just had a baby!), but she does offer private classes if you’re into that sort of thing.

Holiday Hallmark Movies That are Worth Your Time

It’s the time of year where Hallmark convinces me that I need to move to a small town in Nowhereville, USA to meet a baker, snow sculpture fanatic or Christmas tree farmer and fall in love and leave the big city behind because I am overworked and don’t know what the meaning of Christmas is anymore. This is my confession that I am a Hallmark Christmas movie freak. I’ve watched them allllllll.

So you might see why personally I think all Hallmark holiday movies are worth your time even if they are incredibly cringe-worthy and predictable, but if you’re someone who is new to this genre of movie and really like a storyline that makes sense and characters that have depth then not all the Hallmark holiday movies are for you! If you’re someone who needs a plausible storyline, then I have put together a list of movies I think you’ll particularly like and should go out of your way to record.

Snow Bride 

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My all-time favorite Hallmark movie and arguably the most obscure because GASP no one who was a child star is in it. The plot is actually somewhat unique: a tabloid report is competing with her coworker to get the inside scoop on the son of a famous political family since there is a rumor going around that he is going to get engaged on Christmas and she wants to be the first one to report it. The reporter ends up going out to their winter home to find him and somehow gets invited to the family’s holiday celebrations (the somehow is so wacky that it’s laughable but whatever!). What I like most about this movie is the chemistry (this is RARE actually!) between the two main characters and they actually learn something about one another during the hijinks which makes the story of them falling in love actually believable. They also have flaws, unlike most Hallmark movies.

Love at the Christmas Table

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It’s possible that this movie was actually first shown on Lifetime, but let’s pretend it was Hallmark. And if you want to watch it ASAP, it’s actually streaming on Amazon Prime! This is where my love for Danica McKellar Christmas movies began. I love this one because the premise just makes sense. It follows two families who spend Christmas together every year, which means the two main characters Sam and Kat have been friends for three decades when they realize this could be something more. You literally follow them from age 5 to age 30 and every year in between so each scene is a different Christmas they spent together so you see their friendship develop as well as their love, making it one of the more believable Christmas movies out there.

Christmas at Pemberley Manor 

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This movie started the Hallmark Christmas movie season this year so it just premiered last week. I personally am a huge Jane Austen fan so anything that is based off her books is always a treat for me, but really the only thing remotely like Pride and Prejudice is that Darcy is a tiny bit ornery and Liz has to bring him out of his non-loving Christmas shell. Ignore the fact that some of the characters are named after characters in the book. For example, there is a Jane, but Jane isn’t Liz’s sister but instead the assistant to Wickham who isn’t evil. So yea, ignore that. Focus on the chemistry that the main characters have because they are good at making a very PG movie seem a tiny bit sultry with some bedroom eyes. Also, it’s safe to say now that I like Jessica Lowndes who plays Liz in this movie. Normally I find it hard to like her since I’ve seen her in too many Lifetime movies playing villains to see her as a “good girl” type but it works in this movie so I think I’m a believer.

Coming Home for Christmas 

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Another Danica! If you can’t tell already, she’s my favorite. I think she’s really good at convincing you she loves her costar…aka she’s good at acting. Anyway, the plot of this one is that Lizzie needs a job and lands one as a house manager for a large estate in Virginia while they prepare it to sell. Since it’s the holidays, the matriarch’s grandchildren are all home for the holidays including Robert who is intent to sell the house before Christmas and Lizzie feels drawn to him while also being pursued by her other grandchild Kip. Again, this feels convincing since she and Robert have to live together for a somewhat long period of time and get to know each other pretty well. Plus I find the main guy in this really handsome. Trust me, he looks better on the screen than in this thumbnail.

A Bride for Christmas 

brideThis movie is basically How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days but with a Christmas twist so obviously I’m into it. Aiden bets his friends that he can convince a woman to marry him by Christmas, and he sets his sights on Jessie, a young woman who has sworn off serious relationships.

The main characters are quirky and cute and I love characters that don’t seem to quite fit the normal Hallmark mold of perfect guy and girl next door who have zero flaws but somehow can’t find love.

 

A December Bride

decemberThis includes one of all my favorite rom-com movie hijinks: fake fiancees! Layla gets broken up with right before her cousin’s wedding so she enlists an old friend Seth to go to the wedding with her and they start a lie saying they are dating so she’s not embarrassed to be the old maid at the wedding (I kid you not), and dating turns into fake fiancees because he needs help impressing his boss which a fake fiancee obviously does. The story is ludicrous but I love it anyway mainly because I love Daniel Lissing.

 

How Trump Has Created a Divide Between Me and My Father

When I tell people that my father is a staunch Republican, I’m usually met with a lot of shock. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen Jim. He dresses well, lives in a blue state and heavily blue city, is compassionate, and supports and loves his two daughters whole-heartedly. Outwardly, he doesn’t seem like someone who would support a man like Trump. That’s why most people then ask the follow-up question, “But he doesn’t support Trump, right?”. Because how can someone with the above traits support someone like Donald Trump.

Unfortunately, my response isn’t one a lot of my friends, or really even I, want to hear.

For as long as I can remember my father has been a Republican. This fact was always kind of a family joke since my mother’s family is very, very Democratic. My uncle even ran for State Representative back when I was in high school (didn’t win sadly!). The running joke in my immediate family was that our family was really Neutral because my parent’s votes canceled each other out.

I honestly don’t really remember much political turmoil in our household growing up because my father was really a moderate Republican. Sure, there were things he really didn’t like about my mother’s families Democratic presidents or policies but nothing that made the table erupt into uproar.

The only time it really became an issue was during the 2018 election. My father supported Kasich. My sister and I, both Democrats, were open to really anyone who wasn’t Trump. Then Trump won the nomination and I feel like I lost my moderate father to someone who had to fully support the Republican nominee because he had to tow the Republican line. The minute I knew I wouldn’t be able to reason with him and maybe it was best to not discuss politics, or otherwise destroy our relationship, was when the Billy Bush/Trump conversation tape was released and my father responded with the line of, “it was just locker room talk”. My father isn’t someone who participates in such talk. He actually has more female friends than male. He has two daughters. This literally made no sense to me.

Since then, we’ve tried to have conversations about other topics and really we usually avoid politics. We know that we won’t agree so why try. This past weekend though, my sister, father and I were all hanging out and I mentioned that I didn’t like how Kavanaugh reacted to the questions he was being asked and did I really want someone that quick to anger to be a Supreme Court Justice in my country. I said it in passing to my sister, not my father, and it quickly turned into a screaming match between myself and my dad.

At the end of our screaming, I thought to myself, “OMG, he literally just seems to be repeating things he heard on FOX News or in conservative media.” I was livid, raging. Couldn’t understand how he could think this woman was lying. And then I realized a lot of what I had said was being repeated from what was said in liberal media. We had literally been divided.

We had succumbed to what Trump wanted to do: divide a country in order to win the country’s vote.

The scariest part of this realization is that what is happening in just our tiny family of three has happened across this nation.

I told a friend what I had realized this weekend and she agreed, mentioning that her husband is a moderate and doesn’t feel like any message out there today is one he agrees with. There’s no one speaking out on behalf of those who see both sides. What we need is more meeting in the middle. Have those hard conversations without fighting each other into corners where we are afraid to even talk about the issues anymore.

Last night, I went to a Chicago Ideas week presentation on what leadership looks like in 2018 and beyond and the former mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu, said one of the greatest things he learned in politics was that we needed to learn how to say the hard things in a soft way so people come to you, not away from you.

I think this is honestly the best advice you could get heading into the holiday season to realize yelling will get us nowhere but honest conversations can no matter what your political affiliation.

Unboxing My First M.M.LaFleur Bento Box

Back in March, I told you all about my first experience with MM.LaFleur, a women’s collection of clothes intended for the workplace. Their goal is to take the work out of the dressing experience. This past fall/winter, they opened up a brick and mortar styling studio for people in the Chicago area to stop by and do styling sessions to see if their exclusive collection of clothes…and they serve you prosecco. Before they could finish saying ‘free bubbles’, I was running towards their doors.

My first experience was so great that I decided to also try out their Bento Box service. First things first, this is NOT a subscription box. You literally only pay for what you decide to keep. Even shipping to and from your home is free.

The whole process is insanely simple. First, you go to their website and fill out a form on your personal style for your MM.LaFleur stylist to get an idea of who you are.

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I picked “fashion-forward” and “business casual” because I like to bring some of my personality into my work wardrobe even if I have pretty conservative clients. After you submit this you get assigned to a stylist and then wait about a week to get your Bento Box in the mail!

You usually get about 4-6 items in your Bento Box and it can include dresses, skirts, accessories or even jackets. Specify to your stylist what you prefer to wear. I told mine I prefer dresses so she sent more dresses and skirt options than she did pant options, which is what I prefer. But I also told her I was open to trying new things so she sent me a few things to experiment with and I was pleasantly surprised with one top!

Once you’re done trying everything on and deciding what you want to keep, return or exchange, you use a pre-paid label to send it all back! It’s easy to drop off at UPS store and you’re DONE! The simplest process ever and like I said before literally no commitment.

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These were the top 3 looks that I adored from my first Bento Box and things I could easily see wearing to client meetings or even out after work is over (I mean that top with the jeans is a perfect happy hour outfit, right?).

Here were my big takeaways from the entire experience and why I think every corporate woman should try their services:

  1. I love that it’s not a subscription service. I’ve done a few subscription boxes and gotten ones where I didn’t love anything and then just waste $20 on a box of things I didn’t want to keep.
  2. If you want a different size, they will also replace that for you for free. A few of the things were too small so I sent them back to get a bigger size which was really easy.
  3. The best thing about MM.LaFleur to me is their inclusivity. They service sizes 0 through 22 and it’s so refreshing to be able to try something on and not be nervous that it will be too small!
  4. All their pieces are made with the corporate woman in mind. For example, that top I’m wearing in the photo above has slits on the side so if you sit, it doesn’t feel uncomfortable or bunch up. A lot of the dresses are made with fabric with a lot of give for the same reason. They know you spend a lot of your day at a desk or in a conference room so the clothes are made with that in mind.

Final verdict: try it! You literally have nothing to lose since it costs nothing. If you don’t live near a brick and mortar store or you are very busy and travel a lot (hi, yes that’d be me), then the Bento Box is an awesome alternative.