Babymoons Aren’t Just for Couples

Babymoons Aren’t Just for Couples

A few years ago my friends and I came up with the concept of a friend babymoon. See, a babymoon is typically when you take a trip somewhere with your husband before your baby comes, but what about seeing your BFFs before that happens? Once you have the baby you have less time to see friends and do things like get pampered and eat at fun restaurants, so why not do something before that (temporarily) gets put to the wayside?

Enter: the friend babymoon!

I’ve thrown a few of these over the years, some lavish and others not, and I think for my friend Meggie’s babymoon we found the actual perfect recipe so here is how to throw your friend the most awesome babymoon in Chicago ever.

1. Don’t tell her it is happening. 

This has been the major key for all my best babymoon plans. The best way to surprise her entirely is to have her husband or partner in on the plan. Ask them for a few free dates and then set it up behind her back and have her husband bring her there for a completely different reason and surprise her entirely! Another way is just to ask her for a few dates and then tell her you have a surprise planned for her and to be ready at a certain time, pick her up, and bring her yourself. You know what your friends prefer so do what works for them aka some people do not like surprises and need some warning 🙂

2. Book the Kohler Waters Spa at Lincoln Park for you and all your friends.

This was my first time going to Kohler Spa in Lincoln Park for a massage treatment and WOW I cannot recommend this place more, but before I get into my amazing massage let me tell you the amazing deal they have. On Thursdays and Fridays after 5pm, Kohler Waters Spa at Lincoln Park offers The Happier Happy Hour. If you have a group of five or more guests you get 20% off your services when you book together*! This spa is meant to be enjoyed as a big group of friends and that is exactly what a Friend Babymoon is all about! Their water treatment room is great for catching up with friends over their really tasty snacks (all recipes from the original Kohler Spa in Wisconsin!), amazing water therapy pool, and the saunas and steam rooms. Add cold towels and you literally have the recipe for the most relaxing girl’s night.

While my friend Meggie got the prenatal massage, I got the Uniquely Yours massage. They use all sorts of techniques to massage your body based solely on what you tell them to focus on. I had just done a really intense squatting workout so I asked her to work on my thighs and she did some stretching techniques that were just sensational. I left feeling relaxed, soothed, and also stretched out so I could work out again later (yep, past Alex scheduled ANOTHER workout after this – so silly that past Alex). I really like light touch and really intense smells bother me, so I told my massage therapist all of this before we got started and she tailored the massage exactly to what I like. This is unique because most spas have set massages you are buying and sure you can ask for a deeper massage or a lighter touch but they aren’t going to tailor the massage around stretching just because you asked for it!

After your massage, they take you to the relaxation room and Meggie legit looked into ordering one of the chairs in the room to her house since it was so comfortable for her! It is very easy to fall asleep in this calm and peaceful room and we almost did, but we had places to be so we made for the locker room where the Kohler rain showers are. I would pay to just come to stand in that shower y’all!

*All group members must receive a 50-minute ore more treatment. Advanced booking is required – at least four weeks is suggested.

3. Set up dinner afterward at a nearby restaurant. No makeup needed.

The best part about a babymoon is that no one cares what anyone else looks like so post spa go completely makeup-free, put on your finest sweats, and book a big table at nearby Summer House or a equally fun atmosphere restaurant if you are booking a different spa. Preorder ALL the cookies – trust me the pregnant woman will want them! And have some rose, you deserve it for planning this perfect evening.

4. Give her one last surprise.

Some people like to give the massage as a gift (great idea!), but if she or her husband offer to pay another nice add on is one last surprise – a nice robe! I have asked many, many of my mama friends what they would want before their first baby that they didn’t know they needed and a LOT of people say comfortable PJs or a nice robe that you can breastfeed in! We got our friend one from Monica + Andy for her babymoon gift. Very comfortable and monogram-able which was very up her alley.

Fun fact: My friend and I went for her prenatal massage treat last week and this weekend she had the baby! So, safe to say this massage did all the wonders in the world for her to get that baby moving!

How Instagram Took Me On a Journey To Love My Body

How Instagram Took Me On a Journey To Love My Body

The first time I ever remember someone telling me I was fat, I was probably 9 or 10 years old and we were at a birthday party at the local high school’s pool. It was a popular girl’s birthday party and I remember feeling really cool that I got invited, but that often happened because my best friend was gorgeous and every boy liked her and every girl wanted to be her. I was her sidekick. I was shy, and apparently “fat”.

I had gone to the locker room to change out of my swimsuit and into my clothes and as I was coming out I overheard the birthday girl telling everyone that I was fat. I don’t remember any other detail than that, but that was the first time I thought, “oh you’re not like these girls.”

Looking back on this it’s easy to know why this girl said what she said. At age 10, I had gotten my period. My body had started to change much sooner than these girls’s bodies had. They were all straight as arrows because they weren’t going through puberty, but I was. I had boobs, tiny but there. I had the starting of a curvy body and she had none of that. I’m not saying she was jealous. I’m saying she probably was just pointing out the obvious – my body was changing and theirs wasn’t but as a 10-year old kid all you hear is, “I am ugly.”

This moment and many others shaped how I looked at myself for years. All I wanted to do was be small like the other girls so that boys would like me and I could wear the clothes they did. I’m sure this is what led my mom to take me to dieticians and let go on Weight Watchers in high school when, to be honest, I wasn’t eating badly AT ALL. I was a super healthy kid (minus the stray pop tart + Cherry Coke breakfast I made a ritual my freshman year). My dad required us to play sports year-round so I was constantly working out and my mom made us lunch and dinner most nights so it wasn’t like I was living at McDonald’s.

The summer before college, I was determined to be “skinny” for my new life. I did Weight Watchers and drank a V8 juice for breakfast, ate a bagel for lunch, and then salads for dinner. Not healthy at allllll, but I lost weight and went to college probably the skinniest I had been in my teen years. I promptly gained it all back my freshman year and deemed myself fat and ugly again.

From then on I think I just resigned myself to the fact that this was who I was, but not in a good body-positive way. More of a welp, this is what you get so eat whatever you want and who cares kind of way. It didn’t help that I was depressed because my mom had recently passed away so add in those factors and my body took a real back seat.

When I moved back to Chicago, my dad could tell that the one thing that kept me from being truly happy was what I thought was the elephant in the room: my weight. He offered to get me a trainer and I worked with Ron consistently for months and I did lose weight but I also felt stronger and I loved it. I was back to not exactly eating healthy though. Not on Weight Watchers, but def limiting myself to very little calories and then binging on late-night food. I never really thought of myself having an eating disorder, but looking back on it I definitely did and still do struggle with my relationship with food. Since I consistently work out or have bouts of time where I work out a lot, I have always been able to keep myself more or less within a certain weight or dress/pant size.

My 20s were a time of insane self-consciousness mainly because I was the biggest I had ever been in my life even with the training and weight loss. I was constantly thinking I wasn’t good enough because I was bigger than my friends. Going to stores and realizing I didn’t fit in anything there. Online dating and no one attempting to talk to you. It can be so demoralizing and can put you in such a bad headspace. Not really seeing anyone in the media and  I would have to take breaks from dating constantly because it would get to be too much – being seen as a fetish, guys meeting you and instantly feeling you could see their disgust on their faces, or not even getting messages at all.

Don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t this like cloud of darkness over me. I’ve always been a pretty confident person outwardly. Most of my struggle is internal and people have always remarked about how confident I was. That underlying tone being like, “Oh, you’re so confident…since you’re a big girl.” Despite that, I knew I was smart. I knew I was funny. I knew people tended to like me. I knew I had things to bring to the table other than my weight. I knew I was pretty, but I also knew I wasn’t “hot”. Or at least what the media deemed “hot”.

I joined Instagram like most people did back in 2010 to take artsy pictures of things around me and, of course, my food. As it evolved into something bigger and people began using it as a way to monetize, I thought hey I could do that and started to take more pictures of my food and of things to do around Chicago. I started sharing stories and my outfits and people reacted to them so alarmingly positive that I started sharing more of my face on my profile.

I didn’t even know about the body positivity movement and barely followed any plus size bloggers until later. I don’t know how I started following Mindy of @mindycityy but I did and I went to an event at Eloquii and I just felt seen. All these confident plus size women in one room chatting and being confident and being STYLISH. I wanted more of it.

I started doing style shots and sharing more of my looks and got such positive reinforcement that I kept doing more and more and more. And finally I shared a post of me in my underwear and work out outfits showing my stomach and my FUPA – things I had been so ashamed of before, but I wasn’t anymore. This was me. I wasn’t going to hide it anymore. And you know what? Those pictures of me showing my stomach and the parts of me I hate are still some of my most liked photos to date. Because I was vulnerable! Because I talked about something that all of us struggle with daily! I wasn’t doing it for attention, but to make myself more confident and to create a community who saw inspiration in that.

Have I figured out the perfect balance of binging on burgers and working out nailed down yet? No. Do I love my body every day of the week? No. Do I want to lose weight sometimes? Of course! But, I see all these body positive bloggers and Instagrammers out there owning who they are and I feel hopeful that someday I’ll stop caring completely about that stuff. However, the fact that I feel like it doesn’t affect my end happiness anymore is such a weight lifted off my shoulders. Do I think I deserve love despite my weight? Yes, of course. And I’m not sure I would have said that even just a few years ago.

I can’t pinpoint the exact point where I went from someone who was confident on the outside and maybe 45% confident on the inside to who I am now – more like 80% confident on the inside, but it feels great. And I have the community on Instagram to thank for that.

Things To Do in Chicago During Spring (AKA when it’s still rainy or snowy cause Chicago)

Things To Do in Chicago During Spring (AKA when it’s still rainy or snowy cause Chicago)

If you follow my stories on Instagram, you probably already know that I love staying busy and I love trying new things, which can sometimes be hard in a city like Chicago where you can’t really go outside much during the winter/spring because it’s cold AF. A lot of the time new and fun just means leaving your house for two hours to try a new restaurant. But for me, eating out all the time as a past time gets old fast so below are some things I did this winter and spring that I would highly recommend as the weather is still figuring itself out.

Aura Readings by Revealing Soul 

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My friends and I actually heard about Cindy who runs Revealing Soul from my astrologer friend Lauren of Modern Astrologer. We had done an astrology reading private party the year prior and Lauren had mentioned that her friend was starting to do aura readings. Cindy sets up a special custom camera that takes pictures of your aura, which is the light around your person, and then translates what that means in a group setting. To do a group reading like we did in your own home, you have to have at least 5 people, but she also does private readings out of her own home! We had a great time and I will definitely be seeing her again since she’s a medium as well. More on that to come!

The Magic Penthouse

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This past month, I did a fun date night with my boyfriend to see some magic. But The Magic Penthouse isn’t a regular magic show. For one, they only put on their exclusive shows once a month. The name of the show got its name because they were doing small, private shows out of their friend’s penthouse apartment where a few magicians would come and do magic up close and personal in an intimate setting. It grew from there to where they now do the same thing but in a ballroom at a hotel. The dress is cocktail chic, you get champagne all night (it’s an open bar so really anything you want), and you see magic not just on a stage but while you roam around the room. That way you get to truly interact with each magician as you want. If you’re more interested in mind readers, you could spend the whole 2 hours with just him or if you want to see it all you can walk around and sample all the magic. We truly had the best time and I would highly recommend it. The next show is coming up soon on May 17th!

Vanderpump/Bachelor in Paradise Viewing Parties 

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The only part about Monday that I enjoy is the TV. Right now that means Vanderpump Rules and soon that means Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise! I personally love to go to viewing parties like I did just last night at Broken Barrel to watch the Vanderpump Rules finale. They do theme food specials (like goat cheese balls!) and Pumptini cocktails and set up the room to look like SUR! Ranalli’s also does fun specials during the Bachelor/Bachelorette with heart-shaped pizza and discounts on Bachelor wine (yes, this is a thing).

Face Masks at Scratch Goods 

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This is a super fun BYOB activity. Scratch Goods in the West Loop hosts face mask tutorial type classes all the time and you can do it as a group activity or just go with one or two friends. They walk you through how to make the mask and you get to apply all the product and walk out with a fresh face!

Trial Run: Organic Tampons

Trial Run: Organic Tampons

Let me start this post by saying I am in no way a clean/green natural product expert. I still use non-natural deodorant after a pretty gross rash occurred while using Kopari. I want to try to use more natural cleaning products in my house but haven’t started the transition yet. Clean beauty products are something I have but not exclusively.

However, I read somewhere recently that tampons come in direct contact with very sensitive, highly permeable internal tissue in our bodies (makes sense when you think about it!) and that vaginal tissue contains a very large number of blood vessels and mucous membranes which can carry chemicals and other materials to other parts of your body.

It’s worth noting that the research on the above is so varied. I read article after article while writing this post about if you need to use organic tampons or not and what are the side effects of traditional tampons and one doctor said glyphosate is the main factor for people turning to organic which exists in such trace amounts in tampons that “a lifetime of heavy tampon use doesn’t approach the amount allowed for one day of oral intake.”

So the toxins might not be a major concern, but the idea of organic tampons being biodegradable really spoke to me – especially a plant-based applicator because the less plastic we have that doesn’t disintegrate on this planet is fine by me. Some women also said they felt less hormonal issues (cramping, heavy bleeding) when using organic tampons which also spoke to me since I get really bad cramps during my period.

At which point I was like OK, sounds like I could probably be fine using conventional tampons for the rest of my life, but what is the harm in trying something more natural especially if it’s biodegradable and makes me feel like I’m doing something positive for the earth?

Ironically not long after that, O.B. Tampons reached out to me to see if I wanted to do a collaboration around their organic tampons as did the plant-based feminine care company Honeypot Co. This is what I like to call good old fashioned telling the universe what you want and then it lands right in your lap karma. I’ve also heard really good things about Lola, but I didn’t order any in time for my April period so I will have to add to this post once I receive them in the mail!

Last week, I had my period so I used both organic tampon products and here are my thoughts on organic tampons overall.

CONS: 

  • I felt like I had to switch these tampons out more than conventional tampons. For me, this was comparable to having to apply more natural deodorant throughout the day. It’s doable, but also annoying especially when you’re used to it being so convenient to NOT have to switch out your tampon so frequently. Organic tampons definitely aren’t as absorbent as conventional tampons and that’s what a lot of people usually put in the PRO list because that means it’s less likely for you to get toxic shock syndrome. I usually use Playtex tampons and they are known for being SUPER absorbent so I think the variance there was a big one for me since I’m used to using maybe only 2-3 tampons a day during a heavy day and with organic tampons I used probably more like 5-7.
  • That whole thing about feeling less hormonal? That was a definite NO for me. I had one of the worst bout of cramps I have had in a while this go around. Ones that had me laying on the floor cursing everyone and everything out. I’m not sure if the hormonal thing is something that comes with using the organic tampons more regularly or not, but for me in this instance no I still had heavy bleeding and cramps.
  • The tampons were really easy to insert, but sometimes when removing them it hurt a little bit more than conventional tampons seemed to. This isn’t a deterrent for me, it wasn’t enough pain to make me not want to use them, more of a like, “Oh, that isn’t what it normally feels like”.
  • Organic tampons are much more expensive. I could get a 36 pack of non-natural tampons for the same price as a box of 18 organic tampons.

PROS

  • For me, the fact that both products were biodegradable is a big draw for me and would overshadow a lot of the cons.
  • O.B. actually has applicators that are 92% plant-based which again makes me feel better about trashing them. Honeypot’s applicators are plastic just BPA free.
  • In general, just feel better about what I am putting in my body and what I am putting back in the earth.

Overall, I thought my experience with organic tampons was a positive one. I would 100% buy organic in the future and try different size tampons and companies to find the right one for me.

I wouldn’t say O.B. or Honeypot won over one another. They both had good products that did what they said they would. O.B. might have a bit of an edge because they have plastic-free applicators, but Honeypot was founded by women, donates their time and money to menstruation charities like Happy Period, and is a start-up so really both would keep me as customers moving forward.

If you want to read more on the subject of if organic tampons are right for you, I suggest this article which helped me a lot when I was doing my own research.

Big Fig Bed Review: A Mattress That is a Little Bit Extra

Big Fig Bed Review: A Mattress That is a Little Bit Extra

Every year, my company has a big off-site meeting for the whole company (all 34 of us!) and we meet to discuss trends in the industry, things we can do to make our service better for our customers, and also about staying fit and healthy. Yes, my company rocks. But the reason we need to talk about staying healthy is that at a start-up you tend to overwork yourself to get the job done – and when you’re working on-site events like we often do at my job you tend to overdo it by not sleeping and then we would try to “make up” the sleep by just putting in 12 hours after the event was over.

Well, my world was flipped upside down when our CEO told us that he had recently read a book that said you can’t ever make up a good night’s sleep. Meaning if I only sleep four hours tonight and then tomorrow I put in an extra three to make up for it then I’m all caught up on sleep. That’s fake news. We all need a good 7-8 hours per night to recharge and have a functioning brain that can, in turn, help your family and your coworkers cause if you sleep well then you’re not a zombie.

That got me thinking about my own current sleep state. I was currently sleeping on a 10-year-old mattress that I bought right after I graduated college. I had recently been waking up with major backaches and had a hard time getting comfortable when I went to bed. I never sat on my bed to get ready in the morning because it would sag or was uncomfortable when I sat on the edges since they really didn’t have any support. I knew I needed a new mattress, but I didn’t even really know where to start.

Enter: Big Fig Mattress.

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I first heard about Big Fig when I was asked to speak on a blogger panel at Dream Big Midwest and saw that Big Fig, the first mattress designed for a plus size body, was sponsoring it. I was immediately intrigued because how could a bed be that different for someone who is a straight size vs. plus size.

That’s why when Big Fig reached out to me to see if I was interested in trying out one of their beds, I jumped at the chance. I wanted to see if this bed was really all it was cracked up to be! A few of my plus size blogger buds had already been trying theirs out and were giving them A+ reviews and I wanted to see if I would agree.

I got the mattress about a month ago, and I can wholeheartedly say that my experience with Big Fig has been nothing short of awesome and truly IS made with a plus size sleeper in mind. Let me tell you about my personal favorite features:

Edge Support

Remember before when I said I hated that I couldn’t use my bed in the morning to get ready because the sides had no support? Well, foam mattresses are notorious for that problem, but Big Fig is designed with a really firm foam around the edges so you can sit on the edge and not feel like you’re gonna fall off when you put on your tights in the morning. The edges also expand the sleeping circumference so it feels like your bed is bigger than it really is.

Hybrid Construction 

Traditional mattresses soften over time as the materials break down and for plus size individuals that can break down even faster than for a straight size individual. Granted, it took my bed a long time to break down (about 8 years), however Big Fig has a 20-year guarantee which blew my mind! Most mattresses don’t last past seven! Their hybrid construction of springs and foam gives a good mix of support and comfort and the individual wrapped coil helps the foam maintain its firmness. You can see the test results that show it can last 20 years with someone who weighs over 350 lbs.

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No Mattress Sag

This was a big one for me. My cheap mattress I had bought all those years ago started to sag pretty soon after I bought it and I figured it was because it was cheap, not that it wasn’t meant for someone plus size. And we all get them right, it’s that sag in your mattress where you end up sleeping night after night because it’s your comfort position. Big Fig combats this issue with 3 inches of high-density foam cushioning. That’s over 50% denser than the foam in a standard mattress.

Since I got the Big Fig mattress, my back doesn’t hurt anymore and I sleep really well, and I have the added comfort that I won’t have to buy a new mattress until I’m over 50 years old!

120x240I have the Queen size mattress without the box spring mattress and the mattress by itself is $1699. You can actually do monthly financing on the mattress too which is great for your bank account to pay in chunks

The best news of all is if you use my code SASSY at check-out you will automatically get $100 off your new mattress! How awesome is that?!

I highly recommend this mattress for the best night’s sleep!

The Big Fig mattress was gifted to me for this review but all opinions about the bed are 100% my own. Using the links or codes I provide can help me earn a small commission if you shop through them.