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 ūüôā

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!

Chicago Restaurant Week Recommendations 2020

Chicago Restaurant Week Recommendations 2020

Chicago Restaurant Week used to be my favorite week of all the weeks in Chicago because I got to try a bunch of restaurants that I normally wouldn’t because money. Restaurants that normally would cost me $75pp would now only cost me $35 – what a deal. However, in the past years, Chicago Restaurant Week has changed and some restaurants have higher price points than others and it’s hard to figure out what is a good deal and what isn’t and ultimately what restaurants are worth visiting and which aren’t.

I put together my own list of restaurants that I think are worth the effort based on their menus and some based on bang for your buck.

Most Steakhouses

Steakhouses are usually my go-to pick for restaurant week since I know I am going to be getting a good deal especially if the cut of meat on the menu is a good one. This year, a friend and I are going to GT Prime for dinner because we’ve always wanted to try it. Here are some of my other steakhouse faves that I feel like have good offerings this year: Capital Grille, RPM Steak, Prime & Provisions, and Mastro’s Steakhouse.

Cabra

For $48 per person at Cabra, you get four courses with multiple dishes for each course which makes sense because it is a tapas restaurant. I’ve been here for lunch before and the food is just spectacular. Stephanie Izard can do no wrong IMO. Get the goat empanadas and the beef heart skewers.

Dos Urban Cantina 

I haven’t been here in years, but the meal I did have was sensational. The ceviche scallops at Dos Urban Cantina are to die for and their menu is actually really expensive. For only $36 this is a pretty great deal and they have the ceviche scallops on the menu.

Formento’s

Formento’s is one of my all-time favorite restaurants in my neighborhood. The meatballs alone are worth coming here for. Not only do they have a fantastic happy hour, but their Restaurant Week meal is just as great. This meal is also $48 per person but again you get four courses and it includes some of their best menu items like the bucatini, the meatballs, and the chocolate cake!

Galit

I got to try Galit, an amazing new Middle Eastern restaurant in Lakeview, earlier in 2019 and instantly fell in love. They have the actual best falafel I have ever tasted and their salatim plate (dips & pita) was the most amazing thing ever. Both of these things and many more are on their Restaurant Week menu. I highly recommend this place if you can get in and get their Israeli white. It’s sensational.

Bistro Campagne

Lincoln Square is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Chicago and Bistro Campagne is one of my family’s favorite restaurants. This menu is only $36 and you can get all my favorite items on their menu: the mussels, steak frites, and pain perdu! If you want to try a new neighborhood, this is def not a menu to miss.

Lonesome Rose

A Logan Square hot spot, I loved my brunch I had here a few years ago. Lonesome Rose’s menu has some great choices – I love it when they give you lots of options to pick from and I would definitely go with the nachos.

Rooh

I am a big fan of this new-ish Indian restaurant Rooh in the West Loop. I went with some friends for a girl’s dinner and we loved everything we had. Their butter chicken (I know, I’m basic) was amazing and is on their Restaurant Week menu.

The Bristol

The Bristol is a classic Chicago farm-to-table restaurant and their menu offers four courses with lots to choose from and I know chicken isn’t usually the “thing” to order when out but their Amish style chicken really is to die for.

Things To Do in Chicago in the Winter

Things To Do in Chicago in the Winter

Chicago winters are brutal, so here are some activities that keep you warm indoors but also let you have an enjoyable season because we can only binge-watch so many shows during the months of January – April, amirite?

TopGolf Swing Suite 

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Don’t dismiss the TopGolf Swing Suite just because you just aren’t that into sports. This luxury simulation sports bar is literally for everyone. There is a multitude of games that aren’t golf-related that you can play on the simulator like zombie dodgeball, soccer, baseball, and even carnival games. I took my dad’s family for our annual holiday party last week and it was a huge hit with kids and adults. Another reason I love this place are the food and drinks. I’ve been to TopGolf out in the suburbs and the food is good don’t get me wrong, but it isn’t Aster Hall level delicious. Aster Hall is a food hall in the 900 Shops on Michigan and they have actual Small Cheval burgers! The elote and the pizza are also delicious and it can all be catered for your private party at the Swing Suite. It’s also a casual bar so you can just pop in for a drink before or after shopping!

Time Out Market 

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A personal favorite pastime of mine is just eating and drinking. In the summer it’s easy to bop around to different places to eat and drink, but in the winter it’s too cold to go even one block which is why my favorite new place is Time Out Market Chicago. Any food hall might do in a pinch, but this place stands out because of the amount of seating and the abundance of options there are. You could come for lunch, drink, stay for dinner, and then have dessert. Come with LOTS of friends so you can try one of everything, but my favorites are the dumplings by Urbanbelly and the brussel sprouts by Band of Boehmia.

Block 37 + Hot Tix 

I love going to the theater, but it can get expensive so hitting up a Hot Tix booth is something my family and I do pretty frequently when we are visiting other cities. Luckily, Chicago has one right on the first floor of Block 37 on State Street and this holiday season my dad and I used the booth to get tickets to a show at the Goodman Theatre which is right across the street! They have tickets to all sorts of shows though including things on the north side of the city so it’s worth checking out for deeply discounted tickets!

Igloo/Winter Cabana Rentals 

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I did one of these for my birthday a few years back, but heated plastic igloos have become the hottest thing of winter 2020. You can find them at the following places and you’ll have to contact them for pricing but we paid $200 + a minimum spend threshold based on how many people were in the igloo for two hours when I did it at iO Rooftop at the Godfrey: Barcocina, City Winery on the RiverWalk, iO Rooftop at the Godfrey, and Hotel Zachary.

Jim’s Guide to a Perfect Chicago Christmas

Jim’s Guide to a Perfect Chicago Christmas

Last December, I wrote a Chicago holiday activity guide of all the things I love to do around Christmas and this year to spice things up, I invited my dad – who you guys know as Jim – to write give his own top list of things to do for the season. So below is a list of all the things you should do with your own Dapper Dad (or mom or friend or uncle or whomever!) when the time allows:

1. Ice Skating at Maggie Daley Park followed by drinks at Offshore at Navy Pier. 

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This ice skating rink is particularly fun because like the city of Chicago explains it “it’s a multi-sensory experience”. It goes in a circle but has tiny hills and sharper turns so it’s more of a ride than going in one pace around an ice rink for an hour. Not too far away is Navy Pier’s newest bar Offshore. It is the nation’s largest rooftop bar and it has a roof so it’s got the views without the cold weather. I have also heard that they have dressed it up for the holidays!

2. Caroling at the Bean followed by drinks at Cindy’s at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel.¬†

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Every Friday from now until Christmas, there is Christmas caroling at the at Cloud Gate aka The Bean. Local choirs lead the singing and everyone gets a songbook at the event. The Bean is conveniently located across the street from Chicago Athletic Association Hotel which houses Cindy’s – another awesome rooftop that has great views, outdoor fires, and inside seating.

3. Drive around to see the Christmas lights of Sauganash.

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The neighborhood of Sauganash in Chicago is known for its holiday decorations. Take a drive around the neighborhood and end your night at Fondue Stube for some traditional melted cheese and bread. My parents had one of their first dates here!

4. Chicago Symphony Orchestra for a holiday concert. 

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The CSO does holiday concerts all month long, but the most fun ones (in my opinion!) are the themed ones. The Harry Potter concert was Thanksgiving weekend, but the Home Alone one is coming up soon!

5. A Loyola Ramblers game.

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Not sure how this one snuck in here, but I am guessing Jim wants us to all go to a game with him now that he is a fair-weather fan lol.  In all fairness, he is an alum and this is where he met my mom so we will let it stay on the list.

Sisterhood of the Lane Bryant Flex Magic Waistband Jeans

Sisterhood of the Lane Bryant Flex Magic Waistband Jeans

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Lane Bryant. All opinions are 100% mine.

Since college ended I have worn dresses almost exclusively. If I show up to an event or party in anything but a dress my friends usually do a double-take, but that’s because I have a hard time finding jeans that fit my body well or that I don’t have to roll the cuffs up on or more importantly, are comfortable enough to wear all day.

A lot of companies seem to think that all plus-size bodies are the same. We are all tall. We all have larger bottoms. We all have thicker ankles. And that’s just not the truth. Just like straight sizes, we come in all shapes. And thankfully Lane Bryant has created a line of jeans that cater to all sorts of bodies and I have never felt sexier in denim than I have in the Flex Magic Waistband High-Rise Tighter Tummy jeans.

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Lane Bryant Magic Flex Waistband Tighter Tummy High Rise Jeans

They fit my body like a GLOVE. My butt is clearly defined and doesn’t look saggy like it does in some other jeans I own. The Tighter Tummy jeans stay up on my waist and don’t lose their structure throughout the day, but they still have some stretch in them. And they have a patented reinforced high-rise panel that helps slim your stomach and smooth your waist giving me definition in my body that makes me feel more confident.

 

And the most important thing for me is that the jeans fit me at the ankles. I have often found that jeans made for plus size women flare out at the bottom, but these mold to your ankle size. I went with the petite sizing since I am 5’2 so the regular size was a little too long for me and I would have had to cuff them.

Now, here’s the most fun part of this whole post. It’s the part where I tell you I’m hosting a denim event at Lane Bryant in Fullerton Plaza on Saturday, August 17th from 2-4pm. I will be there to help everyone try on their amazing Magic Flexband denim that comes not only in this Tighter Tummy style, but also Curvy Fit, their Signature Super Stretch, and the Deluxe Fit. Each of these fits is for a different body type – like if you’re fuller in the waist but smaller through the hips (Deluxe!) or if you have a small waist but curvier hips (Curvy!) – they have something for EVERYONE! So stop by so I can help you shop.

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When I went in last week to try on all the denim, I also was able to try a lot of other items (hopefully you saw my stories when I was in store doing a style session with myself!). I loved almost every top I tried on, but the overall winner was this Striped Off-the-Shoulder Poplin Top. I am wearing a size 16 cause I think this style runs a little big in the shoulders. It’s feminine and adds a pop of FUN to the outfit so it felt very me.

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Striped Off-the-Shoulder Poplin Top

And just in case you didn’t think this outfit was head to toe (except for the shoes sorry everyone!), you were WRONG. Underneath these jeans, I am wearing the Cacique No-Show Hipster Panty with Lace. They are currently having an amazing deal on their website – 5 panties for $35. Amazing deal! I know I needed some new undies and these feel like you aren’t wearing anything at all which I love.

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No-Show Hipster Panty with Lace

Chicagoans – don’t forget to come to try on these magical jeans with me this upcoming Saturday. It’ll be so fun and I wrangled Jim (aka my dad) to come too! You know he will want to style everyone so come out – it’ll be so fun!

 

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!

Take Me to Lollapalooza!

Take Me to Lollapalooza!

Last summer, my friend Rob got us backstage passes to Lollapalooza since he knew someone who knew someone in the band Cage the Elephant, and it was one of the best nights of my life for lots of reasons (another story for another time), but one of the reasons was because I met this beauty blogger who also knew someone in the band and she was at Lollapalooza with L’Oreal as an influencer. Back then this blog was just an idea I had and I had just started to take it more seriously and the idea of representing a prestigious brand at such a large event was mind-boggling. I vowed that someday that would be me. I would get to go to Lollapalooza because of my own personal brand.

When it actually happened this year and Toyota asked me to go to Lolla to cover their presence at the fest, it was a total pinch me moment! It was a crazy, wild four days but I was so happy to have the opportunity. And not just that, I got a loaner car this past week to test drive and tell you all about!

But let’s start at the beginning, which would be Day One!

Lollapalooza: Day One

I started my Lolla experience by heading straight to the Toyota Music Den because Fletcher was playing and I love her! A lot of people, myself included until now, don’t know that Toyota actually has their own music tent set up on the north end of the fest. They usually have people who have previously performed during the day later during the week or later in the day so you should always check their schedule when you go next year! It’s a hidden gem for live music ūüôā

I also got to check out the interior of the C-HR which is the car I got to drive around all this week, but more on that later! We scurried off after seeing some music and checking out the cars because we had to see Chvrches and Arctic Monkeys who were both fabulous. Day one was a success – especially because it was less crowded!

Best part of the day: Getting my hair & make-up done at Goldplaited in River North! I loved it and I felt pretty badass all day long because of it!

Lollapalooza: Day Two 

My friend Mindy joined me on Friday so we could see our fave body positive singer Lizzo, but first, we stopped by the Toyota Exhibit Love tent that was set up by Buckingham Fountain. This one was my favorite tent because they had free scoops of ice cream and the cones even had the Toyota logo stamped on them! So cute!

Mindy and I also got to record our own voices using the JBL headphones to make a commemorative pin that had our voices etched onto it. I had mine say, “Sassy Confetti loves Toyota!”, because this was the best week ever. That is not sarcasm, this was the best 4 days ever thanks to Toyota. Did I mention they hooked us up with VIP passes? Well after we checked out the Exhibit Love, Mindy and I went straight back to VIP to get some free snacks and drinks all while watching Lizzo from some plush seats with SHADE. Shade is a hot commodity at Lolla, let me tell you! We also go to Bruno Mars, which was a real highlight of the weekend for me. He is such a showman. Day two, complete!

Best part of the day: Meeting Lizzo…well, I didn’t, but Mindy did and seeing her get all emotional about it was pretty great. OH, and I met Jordan from the Bachelor which was pretttttty great.

Lollapalooza: Day Three 

Saturday was a HOT day, so my friend Nic and I went over to the Toyota x Sirius FM booth because we heard it had a LOT of shade. They were right! The whole vibe screamed Marfa, TX (maybe because that was the theme ha!), and it had a real spiritual Texas vibe. I even got my aura read and I mean they readdddddd me. Our spiritual guru told me I need to stop planning so much and just let life happen. Not sure how well I will ever be at that, but I guess we should give it a try if that’s what my aura says, right?

This was our favorite day of the line-up in terms of singers: Carly Rae Jepsen, Dua Lipa, and The Weeknd! We had a great time and maybe a little too much wine before ending our night with a faux deep dish pizza at the Hilton across the street!

Best part of the day: All of Nic’s horrible puns. If you watched my stories, then you know haha.

Lollapalooza: Day Four 

At this point, NOT sure how I am alive after four days of drinking in the Chicago humid heat, but I am alive and kicking, and I had to stop by the Toyota Exhibit Love booth again to get my commemorative Lollapalooza screen printed tote.

Afterward, with margaritas in hand, my friend Sammy and I headed over to see The Aces who were fabulous. If you don’t listen to their music, you should start. They are going to be the new HAIM! We also got to see Bazzi and Odezsa to round out a great final day at Lollapalooza. And then it was a week of recovery for me!

Best part of the day: Two things – The Aces (they really are amazing!), and getting glitter like the kids do!

Week After Lollapalooza: Recovery with My Toyota CH-R

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Getting this loaner C-HR from Toyota could not have come at a better time, to be honest! I was so tired from walking all over Lolla that I needed a reprieve from walking all over the West Loop to do errands, pick up lunches, and taking public transportation! Not only that, but I had a wedding in the suburbs and was going to Ravinia on Sunday after the wedding so having a car was super ideal.

After a week of driving it, I had to give it back and I already miss it. My favorite features were for sure the Toyota Safety Sense, which beeped at you whenever you floated across lanes and would nudge the steering wheel back to where you were supposed to be. Really helpful when you’re driving on the highway or narrow Lake Shore Drive! I also loved the in-mirror back up sensor which helped me see if any car was near me when I backed up in my packed parking garage, and this car is Apple Car compatible and I love that hands-off feature where you can respond to texts or command it to call people! It’s a lifesaver when you’re driving and need to send a quick text to someone but don’t want to pull over or be distracted by your phone.

Hands down, I would recommend this car to anyone looking for something that would transition well from city to suburbs.

Thank you again Toyota for such an amazing experience! It was the highlight of my summer!