Sunday, September 27, 2009

No Fuss Beauty - Luscious Lashes

I remember a time when I thought that the most beautiful woman on Earth was Smurfette. I am pretty sure that was the same year that my brother dared me to eat a piece of dog food (and I did) – okay so that was quite some time ago. As an adult, I have the long, blonde hair but impossibly long lashes? Maybe with a little help…

Eyelash extensions are one of the fastest growing beauty trends and for good reason. My morning make-up regimen is significantly faster because I don’t have to bother with mascara. Also, I feel like I need less make up because the lashes are so gorgeous (and attention getting!)

Recently, I was scuba diving in the Yucatan Peninsula and getting into and out of, salt water all day long. Yet, I still had long, black eyelashes without a trace of raccoon eyes.
Eyelash extensions are tremendously popular with brides because of the “Wow!“ Factor. A word of caution: after you get them, you’ll be hooked.

The only place to go is Flutter Lash Studio in Lincoln Park. Their work is very high quality and you’ll love the feel (think girly-girl nirvana meets noveau-chic.) Joan did my full set (a full set is the only way to go in my opinion) and I was so relaxed that I fell asleep. Definitely have them do a quick eyebrow shaping as well.

A few things to keep in mind:
  • Your first appointment can take up to 2 hours but the follow-up appointments (every 2 – 4 weeks) will only take an hour or so.
  • After you get them on, you will need to keep your face dry for about 24 hours (this is so that the glue can set.)
  • With proper care, your eyelash extensions will last indefinitely (with only minimal touch-ups). I recommend staying away from oil-based products and steam or intense heat.
Flutter uses the Xtreme Lashes® line which is the highest quality product available. I made the mistake of trying other products in the past because I was traveling and I was sorely disappointed.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Chicago Girly Girl’s Boutique Round Up

I remember calling my friends when I was younger – we’d plan our outfits and wear the same cheesy Gap sweater to the football game, complete with matching bows in our hair. Ah, those were simpler times. Now, answering the door to see your friend rocking the same dress equals disaster.

“Noooo! We cannot show up at a party wearing the same thing!!”

One of the reasons that I like traveling so much is because I love finding the out-of-the-way boutiques with totally unique clothing and accessories. An absolute favorite is Pandora’s Box in Martha’s Vineyard. I was elated, yet surprised to find great boutiques in Rochester, Richmond and New Orleans. I justify my purchases because no
t only will they will remind me of my trip, but also because I can feel confident wearing something as unique as I am.

Chicago is a magical city filled with endless options for fashion and beauty – trunk shows, fashion shows, beauty events and shopping. It is
girly girl nirvana. Here is a list of my favorite Chicago boutiques. Enjoy!

RR1 is a hidden gem, housed in a narrow, wood-paneled pharmacy established in the thirties. What you should look for here: clever gifts, original jewelry and decorative items for the home.
814 N Ashland Ave

Chicago, IL 60622
P: (312) 421-9079

Beta Boutique
This Wicker Park boutique is tucked behind Damen Avenue on a cobblestone street – you will find contemporary women’s samples and overstock at seriously discounted prices: 40% - 90%.
2016 W Concord Place

Chicago, IL 60647
P: (773) 276-0905

Hubba Hubba
Looking for the perfect dress for a date Friday night? You’ll find it here. Hubba Hubba addicts keep coming back because of the reasonable prices and darling clothing (romantic to classic.) 3309 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60657
P: (773) 477-1412

Ciao Bella
Owner, Amy Lechelt-Basta offers an impressive range of versatile clothing for the well-travelled individual.
3829 N Southport Ave
Chicago, IL 60613
P: (773) 388-2201

Mexican Shop

You will find some extraordinary jewelry in this Evanston shop. It is well-worth the trip to E-town.
801 Dempster St
Evanston, IL 60201
P: (847) 475-8665‎

Some non-clothing boutiques you should check out:
Asrai Garden
A New Leaf
Paper Doll

Friday, June 5, 2009

Summer Solstice Beauty Event - Get Your Tickets Before They're Gone!

High fashion meets beauty at this decadent affair hosted by Chicago Girly Girl and RED 7 Salon. Indulge your senses in Nutella crepes and truffled popcorn by Fig Catering, wine tastings by Mad Housewife and beauty treatments by RED 7.

Fashion Designers Kate Boggiano, Lara Miller and Serpico will unveil their summer lines and jewelry designers Sarah Radford (Chic Gems) and Julia Failey will showcase their latest adornments. Attendees can also shop from clothing, cosmetics and accessories by retailers like Votre Vu, Tallulah Cosmetics, Ciao Bella, Hubba Hubba, Maison de Couture, Bess and Loie, Kiss My Face, Lucky Day Boutique, Arbonne and The Honeymoon Bag.

Thursday June 11, 6 - 8:30 p.m.
RED 7 Salon
210 W. Kinzie, 2nd floor, Chicago

Tickets are $20 and include a goody bag.

There are a limited number of tickets. To ensure entry, buy your ticket HERE
! You can also e-mail

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ultimate Girls Night Out - Grab the Girls!!

Wine? Nutella crepes? Shopping? Beauty Treatments? check. check. check. check.
The goody bags are especially nice. We don't mess around!

Beauty Enthusiasts Indulge in a Whimsical Evening of Girly Fun, Beauty and Shopping

CHICAGO – The boats are back in the harbor, the town is a flurry with fans dressed in red and blue making their way towards Wrigley Field and the countdown to the Old St. Pat’s Block Party has officially begun. It’s summer, ladies! Before you head to the beach, you’d better make sure those toes are in tip-top-shape!

Fortunately, you can get all dolled up and do some shopping at the Summer Solstice Beauty Event at RED 7 Salon (210 W. Kinzie St.), Thursday
June 11 from 6-8:30 p.m. Guests will enjoy wine tasting from Mad Housewife, sinful, gourmet hors d’oeuvres from Fig Catering and beauty treatments from RED 7. Fashion Designers Kate Boggiano, Lara Miller and Serpico will unveil their summer lines and jewelry designers Sarah Radford (Chic Gems) and Julia Failey will showcase their latest adornments. Attendees can also shop from clothing, cosmetics and accessories by retailers like Votre Vu, Tallulah Cosmetics, Ciao Bella, Hubba Hubba, Kiss My Face, Lucky Day Boutique, Arbonne and The Honeymoon Bag.

Tickets are $20 and include a goody bag.
Reserve your spot by purchasing your ticket, HERE!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mother's Day Gift Idea

Everyone says this, but my Mom is the best. Not only does she patiently answer every cooking question I have, but she is also the first person I call when I have strange ailments or have accidentally died my hands silver (and have to go to a wedding in an hour). Somehow the woman knows everything. More importantly, she appreciates my quirky sense of humor (who else calls their Mom and starts with "Hi Mom. How in the hell are you?")

If you are not sure what to get your Mum for Moth
er's Day, check out the sleek designs at Chic Gems. They have truly fabulous jewelry and you're bound to find something that Mom would like. For Chicago Girly Girl readers, Chic Gems will give you 30% off your purchase and will even throw in a pair of matching earrings, with purchase of a necklace! Simply put "MOTHER" in the special promo box. If you are sending something directly to Mom, indicate that shipping and billing are separate in the "notes" section.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Woman's Best Friend: Martinis and Manicures

7.3 million American women have difficulty conceiving. However, many of these cases could have been prevented through simple lifestyle changes. Education is imperative, and what better way to learn than over complimentary manicures and martinis?

The American Fertility Association’s Manicures & Martinis Infertility Prevention Program is a national series of events dedicated to young women in their 20’s and 30’s who aren’t quite ready to conceive, but might one day want to have a child. Fertility experts from Fertility Centers of Illinois will lead a conversation about how to prevent infertility whenever possible, the reality of the Biological Clock, the harmful effects of STD’s and environmental toxins, and the differences between gynecologists and reproductive endocrinologists. Attendees will also enjoy complimentary manicures and martinis, or a Fertilitini - an all organic alcohol-free cocktail.

Corey Whelan, The AFA’s Program Director and event series creator says that dealing with infertility robs women of control over their own lives. Education about our bodies and things we can do to preserve our fertility potential, gives that control back. “This program has proven to be an empowering and liberating experience for women, whether they choose motherhood or not,” she adds.

Manicures and Martinis offers education to young women in a fun and enjoyable setting. Dr. John Rapisarda, Reproductive Endocrinologist with the Fertility Centers of Illinois agrees that knowledge is power. “Creating early awareness of factors leading to infertility is the first step towards reducing the number of women impacted later in life,” he adds.

The AFA’s Executive Director, Ken Mosesian further explains that through post-event surveys, young women have expressed how much they’ve learned about the basics of reproduction, their biological clocks, the importance of preventing STD’s as well as birth control. One participant said, ‘Finally, some answers.”

As an added perk, those who attend Manicures & Martinis Chicago may choose to be treated to a complimentary Yoga and acupuncture session, courtesy of Pulling Down the Moon. The national series has been greeted with overwhelming success in New York City and other large metropolitan areas. Young women in their early 20s and 30’s are invited to attend and learn all they can about safeguarding themselves from becoming part of the 7.3 million statistic.

Manicures & Martinis
Tuesday, May 12 from 6:00-7:30
Allyu -- 600 W. Chicago Ave.

Riverwalk Speakers: Angelina Beltsos, MD and John Rapisard, MD of Fertility Centers of Illinois Registration Contact Info: or 646.861.3226

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

ChicagoGirlyGirl’s Green Beauty Must Haves

It is Earth Day, which is a great time to think how your actions, even your beauty regimen, affect the planet. A survey suggests that women are generating about twice as much waste as men, due to the fact that they have double the number of personal products in their medicine cabinet. As a society, we may more sophisticated than ever, but most of us are completely unaware of the harmful toxins and chemicals that exist in the majority of our beauty products. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice beauty for health and with a little knowledge and savvy, you won’t need to.

Arcona Basic 5 Arcona skin care products are made of natural enzymes, herbs, vitamins and a scientific cutting edge delivery system to repair and restore the skin on a deep cellular level; the Basic Five strengthens, enhances and speeds up the skin’s own renewal cycle from 30 to 7 days, which helps to combat premature aging. Those who use the line report that their skin has never looked better. I call it the Arcona glow.
Travel kit $87.00

Bare Escentuals is made from 100% bareMinerals and is free of preservatives, talc, oil, fragrance and other harmful chemicals. Mineral make up gives your skin a soft and luminous texture with little effort. An absolute must have for any girl!

Aveda, a global leader in corporate environmental sustainability, not only has phenomenal, plant-based prod
ucts, but they are also committed to preserving the planet. Aveda was the first beauty company to manufacture on 100 percent wind-powered energy and they use the highest possible post-consumer recycled (PCR) content in packaging.

Did you know that the majority of nail polishes in stores contain toxic chemicals that have been linked to Leukemia and birth defects? When you go to the nail salon, be sure there is proper ventilation and if you’re pregnant, wear a mask. Most importantly, take your own polish with you (polish should be free of phthalates, toluene, and formaldehyde).

Kiehls Aloe Vera Biodegradable Liquid Body Cleanser 100% Biodegradable formula and fragrance, formulated without parabens, SLS and Dyes. The bottle is made from 100% recycled plastic.
6.8 fl. oz. Pump

Yes to Carrots Body Lotion Yes To products are paraben free and contain all the yummy goodness of organic fruits, vegetables, and Dead Sea minerals. This organic carrot and pumpkin lotion is potent, touting anti-oxidants that purify and revitalize the skin.
8.45 fl.oz

Lipstick and lip gloss comes off as you consume beverages and food throughout the day. In fact, research has found that women will inges
t nearly nine pounds of lipstick over the course of their lives!

PlantLove Natural Lipsticks Made with botanical ingredients not mineral oils, nor petroleum. The company believes in using only eco-friendly packaging, in fact, even the lipstick tube is biodegradable. My favorite part is that the box can actually be planted after use, because it’s made with biodegradable paper containing flowers and seeds!

It’s important to re
alize that for every action, there is a reaction. To farm the amount of cotton that it takes to make just one t-shirt, a traditional farmer uses approximately 3.5 pounds of fertilizer and over 300 gallons of water. For one shirt!!

3 Clothing Company is an ethical and socially conscious company that believes that every person can make a difference in this world. 3 is taking the lead by using 100% certified organic/clean cotton and eco-friendly water-based inks in the creation of fashionable and artistic clothing.


FIVE Accessories – eco friendly bags made from recycled materials like potato chip bags and bamboo; made in places like Honduras, Bali, Cambodia, Guatemala and India. For every
bag sold owner Christine Hutchison, gives five dollars back to the community where it was made.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Maybe, Baby!

A few years ago, I found myself in a flurry of wedding party madness. I was throwing bridal showers and bachelorette parties like it was my job. Now, all of these girls are having babies and instead of vodka-filled weekends in Miami, we’re playing baby bingo and marveling at onesies. Times are a changin’!

We opted for high tea at Mint Julep in the suburbs (Palatine). The private room was beautiful with lots of natural light. We had several different kinds of tea sandwiches, scones, pastries and teas.

I thought I’d share some of the highlights with you.

The baby will be a boy so I tried to stick to a color scheme of lavender, periwinkle and eggshell. I bought 15 or so helium balloons and scattered them throughout the room. On the gift table, I had a gorgeous bouquet of blue and white hydrangeas.

Parting Gifts
I purchased tiny clay pots and potted pansies in them. Finally, I added a blue or purple ribbon to the pots. One was given to every guest and the end of the shower. Mom had decided on a jungle nursery theme, so I ordered these darling jungle animal cookie cutters online. I made several batches of monkeys, lions, hippos, giraffes and elephants and then frosted them. They were placed in small plastic bags and tied with a bow. Every guest got to take a cookie also. The pansies and the cookies brightened the table considerably and gave the room more character.

We did three activities and I gave prizes to the winner of each. Note: it is advisable to bring one or two extras i
n the event of a tie. For gifts, I tried to keep it around $5-$10 for each bag. I found lots of cute girly gifts in China Town (small compact mirror and jewelry case) and I also checked out Cost Plus World Market for little earrings, chocolate, etc.
  • Baby food sniff test - Take 6-10 cans of baby food and discard the label. Then number each can and have the guests smell to determine the flavor of the baby food.
  • Celebrity baby name - I listed celebrity names on the left and their cute/outlandish baby names on the right (out of order). Guests then match up which baby belongs to the celebrity.
  • Nursery rhyme game. Take an old classic like “Rub a dub dub, three men in a tub…” then leave a space for the guests to fill in the missing words. I printed the activities on colorful paper, keeping in line with the color scheme (that makes a big difference!)
Noteworthy Gifts

Monday, April 13, 2009

Beauty Myths Debunked

I am a beauty junkie. Somehow, all is right with the world when I leave the hair salon and walk down the street. I feel pretty and confident –like the best version of myself. My life can be filled with chaos and turmoil, but as long as there are manicures and pedicures, I will be okay. I look at eyebrow shaping and facials as a necessity. Why wouldn’t I take care of the feminine attributes I was given? My desire to attain beauty nirvana has led me to try some not-so-glamorous treatments. I once put a Roma tomato on my nose to eliminate blackheads; the blackheads disappeared but I was then left with a bright red nose for about a week—nothing could be less sexy than a clown nose, let me tell you. On the first day of a new job I got a round brush caught in the back of my head, which had to be cut out. This was terribly unpleasant and certainly an omen of things to come. The most traumatizing affair however, was one evening when I was trying to get ready for a wedding, my boyfriend caught me wrestling with my pantyhose on the bedroom floor. The pantyhose won.

Princess Di was reportedly an enema addict, citing this uncomfortable treatment for her radiant complexion.

We women do some crazy things to stay ahead of the allure curve. Read ahead to find out if these beauty rituals are worth it:
1. You need to change the part in your hair to prevent thinning.
TRUE. I do this every year because a few years ago, I had a hair stylist point out how much thinner my hair was on the right side of my head, which was the direction that my hair was parted. Evidently, the hair will thin out underneath because of the weight. Most stylists will agree that changing your part every so often is a good idea.

2. Eating greasy food and chocolate will give you acne.
FALSE– for the most part. Eating greasy food on a regular basis won’t spontaneously generate acne however, you’re not going to have a lustrous complexion either. Touching your face, stress and hormones are generally the culprits…

3. Headstands to give a youthful glow?
TRUE. Have you been to a yoga class lately? You should go. seriously. Headstands increase the blood supply to the face and brain which helps aid circulation. This can improve memory function, aid sleep, increase energy, promote hair growth and assist with menstrual difficulties. Yogis like it because when the body is inverted it can help fight the effects of gravity by easing the spine and organs back into correct alignment. Eva Mendez reportedly hangs upside downtown to slow down the signs of aging.

4. Naturally whiten teeth with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.
TRUE. Baking soda can naturally whiten teeth. Simply mix baking soda with a small amount of water or hydrogen peroxide, then brush. You can also mash a strawberry, add some baking soda to it and do the same thing – this version tastes a lot better! Be careful not to brush too hard and only to do this 2 or 3 times a month.

5. Cutting hair makes hair grow faster.
FALSE. Hair grows at the same rate both day, and night, morning, and bedtime –about ¼ to ½ inch per month. All the hair grows at the same rate no matter if they are cut in layers or a blunt cut.

6. Eating jello makes your hair thicker.
DUNNO. The results are mixed on this one. Many women swear by it.

7. Shaving makes hair grow back thicker?
FALSE. That is a myth.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Feng Shui Revitalization –Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Sprit

Have you ever walked into someone’s house and felt incredibly uncomfortable for no apparent reason? Or maybe you were standing next to someone and you could feel the overwhelming negativity oozing from their pores. Think about that for a second. Now think about a time when you walked into a big, beautiful church, like The Sistine Chapel. I am not a religious person but I am completely obsessed with the idea of buying a church, so that I can renovate it, turn it into condos and live there. I love being in church because the energy is so pure, people allow themselves to be transformed here and higher learning is taking place. I get goose bumps and I am completely absorbed by the positive energy moving through.

Feng Shui is the Chinese system of creating energetic harmony in your environment, to affect your health and happiness. Applying some of the basic Feng Shui principles to your home will not only make your home more beautiful and tranquil; but it can also act as a catalyst for big change, improving your luck, and breathing ne
w life into your relationships and career. Tips
1.) Start with the front door, which is very important because it represents the flow of chi entering and leaving your home. It is the first thing you see and the first thing your guests see, so make a good, first impression! Remove shoes, piles of paper and junk –keep the area clean and clear to allow qi (life force) to enter.

2.) Remove clutter. Clutter sucks the vital energy out of you and can often be blamed for the blocks that one experiences in life. Clean out closets, give away anything you don’t need. Keep only the items that nourish and inspire you.

3.) Clear the energy regularly by opening windows, burning incense or performing a clearing (burning a bunch of dried sage). Do this when you move into a new house (to avoid predecessor factors), after you’ve recovered from sickness and after a divorce or break up (to avoid lingering separation energy). The idea is to clean out any old and lingering negative energy. Chimes are also a wonderful tool for breaking up stagnant energy as well.

4. Bring the outside in. Bring in elements such as wood, metals, water and appropriate colors, to help a room feel more balanced and less cluttered. Bring in as many plants and flowers as you can because they give off oxygen for fresher air. Choose lucky flowers and plants, like jade and bamboo to generate fields of energy. Place a water fountain in a room for a calm, soothing sound.

5. Get rid of harsh, toxic chemicals. Go through the cleaning supplies in your kitchen, supply closet and garage. Throw out all of the toxic, chemical based cleaners and replace them with natural, eco-friendly products.

To Attract a New Job

Need to find a new job? Place a beautiful wooden box on your desk with a positive affirmation inside to represent growth in your job potential. A strong headboard will help your career and your marriage!

To Attract Love
Clear out your closets and make more space for someone to enter your life. Do the same for your bookshelves. Keep a couple of bottles of wine and chocolate in the house to prepare for their arrival. Finally, be mindful of artwork where there is only one figure (two is always better because otherwise, you’re telling the universe that you like being alone!)

To Attract Money
Decorate with the colors purple, red and green to attract prosperity. Place a prosperity Buddha or a bowl of foreign coins in the southeast corner of your house. This is awkward because my southeast corner is my shower. Hmmm….

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Man Hunting: How to Catch a Man in a Big City

Our mothers went to school, they got married and soon after, they began having children. My Mom being the Saint that she is, offered up her advice and consolation many times over the years, as she watched her baby, break up with guy after guy. She withheld judgment when I passed on several good guys, opting instead, for the conceited socialite and the narcissistic doctor.

“I just don’t understand. You’re smart, you’re beautiful and you’re independent. Why is it so hard for you to find the right guy?” She’d lament.

My friends would initially offer support and eventually they would ask "So what was wrong with this one?"

It’s no easy task meeting quality men in a big city. Guys tend to hang onto fraternity boy tendencies longer and women are so devoted to their careers that they aren’t fazed in the slightest by flying solo at a wedding, or showing up at their 30th birthday party without a date.

The ease of shopping for a mate online with Web sites like and jdate, have resulted in a culture where no one chats up their neighbor anymore. Instead of smiling at the cute guy standing in line at Starbucks, we're multi-tasking and responding to e-mails via blackberry. It is a sad state of affairs.

I eventually got it right and I know that you will too! Below are a few tips that are simple yet effective. If you slow down just a little and make some room in your life for that special guy - you might just find that person you've been holding out for!

Chicago Girly Girl’s Tips for Man Hunting:

1. Invest in YOU. Take a creative writing class, a meditation workshop, or learn belly dancing. Harness your inner goddess by nourishing your spirit. What does this have to do with love, you ask? When you really like who you are as a person, so will everyone else.

2. Go where the men are. This one is pretty self explanatory. Ladies, unless they already have a woman (or man) on their arms, you will NOT find a guy at the ballet. Grab a friend and go to a hockey game or join a coed softball team. Sports bars on game days will work to your favor, as long as you know some basics (who is playing, basic rankings, etc.)

3. Cast your social net wider. If you’re like me, you want to spend your time with the select few who have made it to your A-list. If you’re single, this could actually work against you. The advantage to hanging out with new people is that you will have access to the single men that they know! Say "yes", the next time your coworker invites you to her husband’s happy hour. You’ll meet a lot more prospective candidates by going outside of your comfort zone. So switch things up!!

4. Be brazen. Say you’re out one night and you see a guy that is the life of the party. He is cute and you can’t help but notice his magnetic smile! Wait for the right opportunity to walk over and say hello. Few girls do this, so I assure you when he sees a cute girl walking over to him, he will be thrilled. After a few minutes, tell him that you have to get back to your friends but that you enjoyed your conversation. Don’t ask for his number or card. Unless he’s married or gay, he will ask how he can get in touch with you.

5. Flirt. I once knew a girl who would walk into a bar in front of her husband and she’d wink and smile at every guy she saw. Heads turned and her clueless husband beamed with pride. If you’re trying to get someone’s attention, sometimes the best way is to flirt with his friend. You must do this carefully however. Optimally, you want to flirt with the friend, while Mr. Hottie isn’t paying attention. When Mr. Hottie himself glances in your direction, tone it down.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Date Hot Spots

Somehow, I am the first person that people call when they have a date. Often times, the call is from a girlfriend but sometimes guys ask too. On a personal note, I don’t know whether I should be flattered (maybe they think I’m a cultured nightlife enthusiast who appreciates all the city has to offer) or insulted (because they think I eat out too much or have been on way too many dates.)

The call is always the same. “I have a date. “Where should we goooo?” Their voices exude both excitement and dread.

I usually ask a few questions like “Which date is it?” and “What kind of person is the lucky guy?”

Unfortunately, winter time in Chicago doesn’t offer a lot in the way of creativity, but that doesn’t mean you are limited to a night at the Cheesecake Factory.

Stick to some of the ideas below and you’ll have fun, even if there’s not a love connection.

First Date

Even if you think that you might really like this person, it is better to have a casual first date. You want there to be an adequate amount of activity, in case the guy is a dud. Conversely, if the chemistry is right, an environment conducive to conversation is ideal.

  • A Bulls or Blackhawks game is a great idea, particularly if both parties appreciate sports. This is kind of a no brainer because most men are sports fans.

To look at the Bulls and Blackhawks schedule, click here.

  • Ice skating at Millenium Park. This is fun because you are likely asking him to go outside of his comfort zone. Watch his behavior; if he is a fumbling idiot, but is able to laugh at himself, then he has earned himself a second date!

To view skating hours at Millenium Park, click here!

  • Walk through the Art Institute of Chicago on Thursday night – it’s free and open until 8 p.m!

11 S. Michigan Avenue

To see which exhibits are currently showing at The Art Institute of Chicago, click here!

  • Take a trip to the Chicago Cultural Center, which is not only one of the most impressive buildings in the city, but also a home to film festivals (March 6 – 8), poetry readings, art exhibitions and cultural celebrations.

78 E. Washington Street

Find out what exciting things are happening at the Chicago Cultural Center here!

Not The First Date...

If you’ve survived the awkward first date –hooray! -- and are ready for more datey activities, then keep reading.

  • Webster’s Wine Bar – has to be one of the most charming spots in the city. This dimly lit hangout boasts an impressive list of wines by the glass – It is the perfect date spot.

1480 W. Webster Ave

Peruse the extensive wine list at Webster's Wine Bar, here!

  • Tango Sur – This Southport haunt never disappoints. The BYOB spot features traditional Argentinean steaks with chimichurri sauce. The tango music is barely audible over the hordes of people – they don’t take reservations but the wait is always worth it.

3763 N Southport Ave

To visit Tango Sur online, click here!

  • Firefly – is a quaint, Boystown French bistro. The food is marvelous and it’s easy to get cozy and stay for a few hours.

3335 N. Halsted St.

To visit Firefly online, click here!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Art Review - Julie Blackmon and Joseph Grigely

Joseph Grigely at the Museum of Contemporary Art (220 East Chicago)

Joseph Grigely‘s exhibition at the MCA, St. Cecilia, is a definitely worth a second look – which, is something I rarely do when viewing contemporary art.

Given my aversion to Christmas, I rushed through the film installation where “Christmas carols” are sung by the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, as though I were being followed by Jehovah's Witnesses. Then, I spotted We’re Bantering Drunkening About What’s Important in Life, 2007. It was here that I lingered with childlike curiosity, mesmerized by the patchwork of hand-written notes scribbled on maps and stationary. This wall is a kaleidoscope of colors, shapes and textures, composed of pieces of paper which once lived in a cash-register, a hotel nightstand, a menu in a French restaurant – it’s like peeking into an artists’ diary with funny quips, confessions, remarks and little drawings portraying silly squirrels and smoking snowmen. This piece is a byproduct of Grigely’s disjointed conversations with friends and perfect strangers (Grigely will often ask people to write down a statement when he is unable to lip-read.)

The artist claims that “the walls owe a lot to Josef Albers, Sol Le Witt and Agnes Martin.” I see no trace of these artists, however, I appreciate the piece for its simplicity and ambiguity. Some of the papers are simple, one reads “yuck” and another reads, “she loves you” (the word “went” is next to “she” but has been crossed out.)

Others offer more comic relief:

“She asked ‘Are those your flowers?’ voluptuous lady holding a big orange”

And some tell a story with a picture.

What Did I Say?, 2008 is equally entertaining, featuring more pieces of paper from “conversations” with former professors, friends, acquaintances and strangers. When I stand here looking at the wall, I get a glimpse of what it would be like to be deaf. One napkin displays text that reads: “Would you like a salami and smoked turkey cold plate? Yes. No. Another soda?”

And then I discover a two headed dog and a squirrel that looks an awful lot like Gizmo and my mood shifts back to amusement and utter fascination.

I giggle at a card that looks a lot like this:

The 53-year-old artist marvels at how Europeans

describe him as an artist who explores communication, while Americans are quick to reduce him as the deaf artist. Grigely’s work seeks to explore the idiosyncrasies of language and communication. I am pulled in by his delivery, which is that of a mischievous intellect with a great sense of humor. I am left with one question: What’s with the smoking snowman that I keep seeing everywhere?

Julie Blackmon at Catherine Edelman Gallery (300 West Superior)

Julie Blackmon paints a picture of the world I live in –magical and chaotic. To say that Blackmon’s work is captivating would be like saying chocolate is good. Ummm….chocolate is divine, and so too are Blackmon’s photographs. The whimsical prints jump off of the wall begging you to investigate them further. The lucid colors and dreamlike compositions make me a little seasick at first, but once I have gotten my bearings, I am nothing short of smitten. Her contrasty prints are peppered with unexpected nuances, offering an imaginative alternative to suburban family life.

Snow Day, 2008, instills both nostalgia and dread in the viewer. A darling toddler looks as though she is half ready to run outside in her little boots and long-johns. She is perplexed staring at her belly as the bright, sunny day pokes through the door behind her, where her brothers are playing. Scarves and gloves are sprinkled on the floor along with fresh snow. I empathize with the Mom who is cursing snow days as she cleans the house later.

American Gothic,2008, is quixotic and dreary. Why would anyone dress their family in matching sweaters when they could be wearing all black and looking like an advertisement for Prozac?? I particularly like the duck who admires the family from a comfortable distance. I wonder if they have ducks on craigslist.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Valentine's Day Guys Guide

click here to watch the WGN Valentine's Day Survival for men on Feb. 12!

My least favorite Valentine’s Day was the year that m
y girlfriend Emma called me into her office. “You are not going to believe what Josh got me” she said. I walked in to assess the Valentine’s Day crisis. There were already two other girls huddled together giggling. “Uh-oh” I thought. The first problem was that Emma had been trying to break up with this guy for a good two weeks at this point. The second problem was that he sent her a teddy bear holding a balloon (which said “I love you”) in one hand and a vase with one rose in the other. TO THE OFFICE. He sent this to the office!!!

Awkward. I couldn’t help but join in the giggling.

“Tom (my sp
ecial man friend at the time) knows better,” I thought. To my horror, I returned to my office a few minutes later and discovered a large teddy bear adorned in black silk boxers decorated with red hearts. He too brought something with him, it was chocolates. I felt icky. I hate teddy bears, I hate stuffed animals wearing sexy clothes and Fanny May chocolates tastes like cocoa flavored toilet paper. When the girls came into my office they erupted into laughter.

“What do I do with this?”I asked them. If I discard the little guy then Tom would ask to see it.

“Oh my God. I can’t be with someone who thinks this is a good idea!” I exclaimed.

I decided to hide the evidence and threw away the boxers in the office kitchen and then, I hid the teddy bear my desk drawer. Then the phone calls started. It was Tom. I let it go to voicemail once or twice. When I finally answered the phone, I uncovered the following:
1.) Tom thought my colleagues and friends would be impressed if he sent a silk, heart boxer wearing teddy bear accompanied by chocolate
s, TO MY OFFICE, where people take me seriously.
2.) His Mom alerted him that the best teddy bear maker was whatever A-hole company
that sent me this teddy bear to begin with.
3.) Girls like it when you sent them stuff at work, so that they feel important.
4.) Maria the cleaning lady, somehow uncovered that I threw away said, sexy boxers which co
uld only fit a one-year-old and paid a visit to me in my office. She continued to ask me over and over again in Spanglish, why I threw them away and could she have them.

The best Valentine’s Day I ever had was sharing a home cooked meal with a former boyfriend. We split a bottle of wine and cooked then stayed in.

Gentleman, don’t be Tom!!

The guide below will make you a model boyfriend or husband. You’re welcome – you
can send me lavish gifts or flowers afterwards…

Make it Heartfelt
Spend a little time thinking about what is important to your girlfriend or wife. Think about stories she has told you in the
past and try to connect the dots to identify things that she cherishes.
Did you take
a memorable trip together? Frame a photograph from the trip and give it to her.

Is her secret fantasy to become a jewelry designer? Then sign her up for lessons locally or visit to find handmade pieces that she might really like.These are the best gifts bec
ause it shows that you care and that you pay attention.

Socially Aware Gift Ideas
Does your lady friend recycle and live at Whole Food
s? If she is a bleeding heart democrat then she is likely environmentally and socially conscious as well. The following gifts are reasonably priced and ethic.
  • FIVE Accessories – eco friendly bags made from recycled materials like potato chip bags and bamboo in placed like Honduras, Bali, Cambodia, Guatemala and India. For every bag sold owner Christine Hutchison, gives five dollars back to the community where it was made.
Click here to visit FIVE Accessories online!

  • Fair Trade Flowers - Fair Trade-certified flowers guarantee fair wages in developing countries where flowers are harvested. It’s only a difference of a few dollars and it really makes an impact.
Click here to find out more about Fair Trade Flowers!

Please find out what flowers she likes first. If you don’t know, ask her Mom or her best friend. Don’t buy her carnations – they are a funeral flower. Tell a friend.

  • Cruelty free perfume – ($39.95) Flower Market perfume by Lush celebrates timeless beauty with classic florals and it is cruelty free (not tested on animals)!
Visit Lush online here!

Turn up the Heat
  • Intercourses by Martha Hopkins and Randall Lockridge – ($19.77) This aphrodisiac cookbook is a must have because you can use it year round; not only are the dishes simple but they taste phenomenal! Cook a quiet dinner in this Valentine’s Day and enjoy the simplicity of it all.

Click here to buy your book today!

  • Aphrodisiac Red Fire Hat Box by Vosges – ($75) Turn up the heat with this kit from Vosges: it contains spicy chocolate bonbons, an Aphrodisiac guided tasting and red feathers.

Click here to buy your chocolates right now!

Get your sweetie the ultimate Valentine’s Day experience. A gift certificate to Evlove Intimates, where she’ll get to design her very own lingerie. The gift that keeps on giving, you’ll get her the perfect gift (for both of you to enjoy) and a
truly unique experience of creating it herself!

View the
Evlove website and make your purchases here!

  • Racy Portrait – Is your partner usually the center of attention? Women that bare it all for the camera find it to be an empowering experience. And she’ll have a keepsake for life!

Visit the Thom Rouse Gallery here for more information!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Fanciful Flirting

I remember preschool, one sunny, spring afternoon, sitting in the sandbox next to Billy “Big Cheeks” Thompson. One second, I am content, making a little sand castle, minding my own business and “WHAM”, out of nowhere “Big Cheeks” threw a mud pie in my face. I was furious. I left the playground in a huff and soon after I was driving home with my Mom in the family station wagon – my brother and sister affectionately referred to this car as the “blood mobile”. I was crying and inconsolable. My first male disappointment --if I had known how many more of these I had ahead of me, I might have started spiking the cool aid at a much earlier age.

“You know why Billy threw a mudpie in your face, don’t you?” my mother asked.

“Because he’s a meanie” I retorted.

“Because he likes you,” she said.

I gave her a look that indicated I was sure she spent the afternoon drinking AND ironing. Later I learned that my Mom was right, about almost everything.

Flirting and finding a man in a big city is a lot like shopping on Black Friday; it’s completely overwhelming but shoppers keep going in hope of finding the perfect pair of designer boots, fifty percent off. Chicago is not short on men, by any stretch of the imagination, but the good ones are tough to find. Men, it seems have more options than they know what to do with and they are programmed to live the frat boy lifestyle as long as they can get away with it. Ironically, I find that the women who fair well in modern dating act more like Billy “Big Cheeks” than your average girl. I think the mistake that most women make is being too accessible and too nice. Women are hard wired to be accommodating and to put everyone else first. When it comes to dating and life for that matter, it is important to recognize that people treat you the way you allow them to treat you, this is human nature. Men want to see how much they can get away with and believe it or not, they want to be told “no”. It’s a challenge they’re after and to win the flirting gold medal, you must be smart, supportive, difficult and fun in equal amounts.

Flirting is amusing but if you’re trying to catch a big fish, you’re going to need better bait. Another fact in human psychology is that we are attracted to that which retreats from us. Think about it. Have you ever had someone get too intense, too quickly? And how did you react? You dodged his calls and eventually asked him to please lose your number. Right? The lesson is simply to refrain from putting all of your cards on the table. Keep a few just for yourself. This isn’t cruel and it’s not game playing. It shows self respect and what’s more, it shows him that you’re not counting on him to furnish 100% of your happiness.

According to the dictionary, to flirt means to court triflingly or act amorously without serious intentions; play at love; coquet.

Flirtatious Facts

  • While women are ovulating they are attracted to a more dangerous, flirty type of guy.
  • Flirting is often times, subconscious, and many times people will flirt when they are feeling socially awkward. Alcohol has long been touted as a social lubricant, so too is flirting!
  • Men who work as stylists or personal trainers tend to be very flirtatious. Why? To get you to come back!
  • German singles are encouraged to board the Flirt Express to find that special someone. Last year, nearly 5,000 people tried to buy tickets and there were only 800 seats.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Valentine's Day Girls Guide

I always struggle with what to get my special man friend on Valentine’s Day. This is probably because most the men I know detest Valentine’s Day. I recently read a statistic that one billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making the day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year, behind Christmas. The majority of the card purchases are by women -- 85 percent in fact, which I think sort of says it all. That said, I always get him something knowing that I will look like a jerk if he does something elaborate or thoughtful, which he will.

Selecting the perfect gift for your guy is pretty simple and if you start to panic, just remember that we have it a lot easier than they do! The most important thing you need to remember is quite simple: simply match the appropriate gift based on the level of intimacy you have as a couple. If you’ve only been on a few dates, then homemade brownies or his favorite cookie should do it. If you’ve been together for a cou
ple of years you might need to put some more effort into it.

I hope the guide below will be of use to you!

What man doesn’t love gadgets?
Seriously. Do you know any? I don't.
  • Is he a wine drinker? Replace his outdated wine opener with this one: Vacu Vin Winemaster
Price $49.99

Buy the Vacu Vin Winemaster!

  • Does he take his annual camping trip with the guys a little too seriously? If so, this might come in handy: Victorinox Swiss Army One Hand Trekker Lockblade Pocket Knife
Price $26.35

Buy the Victorinox Swiss Army One Hand Trekker Lockblade Pocket Knife!

  • Is he directionally challenged? Think how many arguments can be avoided with this glorious little tool! Garmin Nuvi 270 3.5 inch Portable GPS Navigator
Price $150.66

Buy the Garmin Nuvi 270 3.5 inch Portable GPS Navigator!

The beauty of simplicity

  • You can’t beat a quiet night in. If you waited too long to get reservations or you just don’t feel like fighting the masses, then opt for cooking and sharing a meal together in. Intercourses aphrodisiac cookbook is a must have because you can use it year round; not only are the dishes simple but they taste phenomenal!

Price $19.77

Buy a copy of Intercourses aphrodisiac cookbook!

  • Concert tickets – Is he a huge Rob Zombie fan? Buy him two tickets and tell him he can take whoever he wants. (This is also a test!) If he chooses to take you then suck it up and grab the thickest black eye pencil you can get your hands on. Going to a concert that is out of your comfort zone will win you major cool points!
Peruse concert tickets here!

Not really sure if you and Mr. Right Now have a future together?? Give him a gift that will confuse him. Why? Because it’s just plain fun to do!

  • Message in a bottle (reading their press release makes me soooo glad that I don’t do commercial PR for silly products).
Order your message in a bottle here!

  • Hot Sauce of The Month Club
Sign up for the hot sauce of the month club here!

Give him a Snuggie and include a note that reads “For those nights when I am out late dancing with my girlfriends and you are on the couch with your hand in your pants.”

Order your snuggie here!