Category Archives: Chicago

Just Another Tuesday Lunch

Oh, you know, just another Tuesday lunch.

A three-course meal at Spiaggia prepared by the Executive Chef and Top Chef Season 15 winner Joe Flamm. Also in attendance were Barilla ambassadors Roger Federer and Mikaela Shiffrin. Yes, you read that correctly. Roger Federer, THE tennis player and Mikaela Shiffrin, THE Olympic skier. Is this real life?

I’m 1000% sure this will be coined as the best lunch event of my life so far. Here’s a quick recap.

After arriving at Spiaggia for the Barilla® Collezione Masters of Pasta event hosted by Barilla, we got to nosh on some lovely appetizers, like the beautiful toasts topped with burrata, seasonal fruit, whipped honey vinaigrette, basil and pistachio. Sooooo good!

Gorgeous lunch set up at Spiaggia

Gorgeous lunch set up at Spiaggia

Beautiful and delicious appetizers

Beautiful and delicious appetizers

Barilla introduced all the fabulous stars, followed by a pasta cooking demo from Chef Joe Flamm. Both Roger Federer and Mikaela Shiffrin went into the kitchen with Chef. I was hoping they would take on the role of sous chefs, but alas, they did not! Ha ha. They intently watched the demo as we all did.

Introducing Chef Joe Flamm and Roger Federer

Introducing Chef Joe Flamm and Roger Federer

Now Introducing Mikaela Shiffrin

Now Introducing Mikaela Shiffrin

Federer and Shiffrin head into the kitchen!

Federer and Shiffrin head into the kitchen!

Chef showed us how he was preparing the Barilla® Collezione Rigatoni for our lunch that day. This pasta is extra special because it is bronze cut, which means it has a more rough, porous surface that results in a texture similar to homemade pasta. It also allows sauce to better cling to the pasta, which is perfect for me because I like my pasta dishes saucy!

Chef Joe Flamm's demo

Chef Joe Flamm’s demo

Putting the final touches on the dish

Putting the final touches on the dish

Is the plated dish the star of this photo?!?!

Is the plated dish the star of this photo?!?!

After the pasta cooking demo, we had the chance to sit down to our unbelievable three-course meal. Mine started with a special vegetarian beet salad (the rest of the group had tuna), followed by the Barilla Collezione Rigatoni with fresh and dried tomatoes, and ending with an absolutely yummy Tutti Frutti dessert. My mouth is literally watering thinking of all these amazing dishes!

Beet salad

Beet salad

Barilla Collezione Rigatoni dish

Barilla Collezione Rigatoni dish

Tutti Frutti dessert

Tutti Frutti dessert

The lunch concluded with something I was really looking forward to: a picture with Roger Federer! He will be participating in the Laver Cup this weekend in Chicago at the United Center (September 21-23) and Barilla is one of the official sponsors of the event. You should definitely head to the Laver Cup Fan Village in the lot around the United Center and find the Barilla Masters of Pasta Cucina area (get your free tickets here).  Who knows who you might see there!

With my new friend Roger Federer!!

With my new friend Roger Federer!!

 

Please Note: This post is in partnership with Barilla. All opinions are my own.

A Very Special Mother-Daughter Day

It’s safe to say that Moms deserve to have it be Mother’s Day every single day of the year. They work tirelessly around the clock without one single day off, to selflessly take care of those that they love. This year on Mother’s Day, my Mom was in New Jersey joyously marveling in one of her new titles; Grandmother. She spent about two months in NJ to help out my brother and sister-in-law with their new titles as parents. I was bummed not to get to spend Mother’s Day with my Mom this year, so I decided to do something special for her a few months later.

Mom With Her New Title Of Grandmother

Mom With Her New Title Of Grandmother

I knew my Mom deserved something exceptional and I wanted to plan a day that I knew would be memorable for her. My Mom always thinks of others ahead of herself and she rarely treats herself out. So, I wanted to come up with something that would feel like a real outing and something my Mom would always remember. She is definitely the kind of person that talks about favorite memories for years afterwards.

As I was thinking of what to do, I remembered that my Mom is always asking me where to get great facials. Then the light bulb went off in my head and it was a no-brainer on where to take her; The Peninsula Spa. I had my first facial at The Peninsula back in February and I can’t even tell you how many people told me my skin looked amazing even a few weeks after the facial (my Mom included). I knew this would be the perfect way to allow her to relax while getting an exquisite facial treatment. I also have wanted to take my Mom to afternoon tea for YEARS since she has never been before. So this was finally the perfect plan; facials followed by afternoon tea at The Peninsula Chicago.

We arrived at The Peninsula Spa about an hour and half before our facial time at 3pm, just to relax at the fantastic pool and outdoor spa terrace overlooking the city. It was the perfect way to spend some uninterrupted time together and chill out before our treatments. About half an hour before our facials, we made our way to the serene and cozy waiting area, where we relaxed in our plush robes on the heavenly private beds, while sipping on some hot tea. Even though I knew my facial was coming up, I didn’t want to leave that bed!!

Ready For Our Day At The Peninsula

Ready For Our Day At The Peninsula

Mom's First Visit To The Peninsula Chicago

Mom’s First Visit To The Peninsula Chicago

Arriving At The Wonderful Peninsula Spa

Arriving At The Wonderful Peninsula Spa

Enjoying The View From The Spa Terrace

Enjoying The View From The Spa Terrace

Relaxing Poolside

Relaxing Poolside

Relaxation Area Before Our Facials

Relaxation Area Before Our Facials

Our facials were the Biologique Recherche Facial which is a French luxury skincare line utilizing unique formulas rich in botanical, marine and biotechnical extracts. This facial is considered a cryofacial in that it uses cold therapy instead of heat therapy like most facials. Between that and the top of the line products that are used, you will notice immediate results that make your skin look completely revamped. Definitely the best facial I’ve ever had and my Mom couldn’t stop looking in the mirror at how rejuvenated her skin looked after just one treatment.

The Facial Room- I'm Ready!

The Facial Room- I’m Ready!

That Post-Facial Glow

That Post-Facial Glow

After freshening up, we made our way down to The Lobby for the opulent Afternoon Tea. I’ve been many times before and it is truthfully my favorite Afternoon Tea in the entire city of Chicago. It’s a fun way to cherish this timeless tradition with some of the highest quality tea, tasty food and exceptional service . Another wonderful thing to know is that The Peninsula has specially curated menus for dietary restrictions, like a separate vegetarian and vegan menu. It was so nice to see a menu that we knew we could eat every single item from.

The Beautiful Lobby For Afternoon Tea

The Beautiful Lobby For Afternoon Tea

Vegetarian Afternoon Tea Menu

Vegetarian Afternoon Tea Menu

Because this was my Mom’s first Afternoon Tea, she was just so happy to see the beautiful presentation and indulge in such delicious food. We chatted and laughed and thoroughly enjoyed each moment as we decided which item we were going to try next from the gorgeous silver tower of finger sandwiches and pastries. I could just see the happiness and relaxation on my Mom’s face as she sipped her tea and took in the lovely surroundings and live music.

Love The Rose Tea I Chose

Love The Rose Tea I Chose

The Stunning Silver Tower Of Sandwiches And Pastries

The Stunning Silver Tower Of Sandwiches And Pastries

Mom And I Enjoying Our Afternoon Tea

Mom And I Enjoying Our Afternoon Tea

Doesn't This Look Amazing?

Doesn’t This Look Amazing?

Mom Never Looked More Relaxed And Happy!

Mom Never Looked More Relaxed And Happy!

Luckily I have a bunch of pictures to remember all the moments of the day, but that bright smile on my Mom’s face is something that will forever be etched in my heart. I haven’t seen her that glowing and carefree in a long time. And for that, I’d say that Mother-Daughter Day 2018 was a huge success. I think she’d agree too. Love you Mom!

 

Please Note: This post is in collaboration with The Peninsula Chicago. All opinions are my own.

A New View Of Chicago

Having lived in Chicago for so long now, I was pretty sure I’d seen Chicago from all angles and modes of transportation. Flying over the city many times from both O’hare and Midway airports, from all the trains including the El, Metra and even Amtrak, from boats, buses, cars, taxis, ubers, horse drawn carriages and on foot. I think that exhausts the entire list of options.

Except for one. There was one elusive, bucket-list mode of transportation that I had yet to view the skyline from. And, now I can officially cross this off my list and say I’ve experienced it.

I finally went on my first helicopter ride over Chicago and it was one of the most exciting things I’ve done in a long time! Chicago Helicopter Experience is an awesome way to see the city from a new view and it’s such an exhilarating ride.

Chicago Helicopter Experience

Chicago Helicopter Experience

Gotta Take A Selfie

Gotta Take A Selfie

I thought it would be similar to flying over the city in a plane, but it’s such a different experience. You are so much closer to the city and buildings and almost feel like you are a part of them. It’s so much more intimate than you will ever feel in a commercial airplane and I can’t recommend it enough if you are looking for something different and unique to do. A helicopter ride is great for a special event like a birthday, anniversary, graduation, etc. or just a once-in-a-lifetime bucket list thing to do.

Shortly After Leaving The Heliport

Shortly After Leaving The Heliport

Views Over Northerly Island

Views Over Northerly Island

Sitting Right Behind The Pilot

Sitting Right Behind The Pilot

Love The Shadows!

Love The Shadows!

Many friends asked me if I was scared and what it felt like to be in a helicopter. I wasn’t even the least bit worried about it and it was such a smooth ride. The helicopter may sway a little during takeoff and landing, but nothing that made me worried in the least. I actually felt the whole process was smoother than an airplane and because of that, now I wish I could travel everywhere by helicopter…ha ha. I mean, the up close and personal views alone are worth every second of it.

One Of My Favorite Views From The Helicopter

One Of My Favorite Views From The Helicopter

Gorgeous Day Chicago!

Gorgeous Day Chicago!

Up Close And Personal

Up Close And Personal

Flying Over Navy Pier With Cool Shadows Of Lake Point Tower

Flying Over Navy Pier With Cool Shadows Of Lake Point Tower

If you are in Chicago or plan to visit, definitely check out Chicago Helicopter Experience for what will be a memorable and fun way to see the city, while getting the best aerial views. I promise you will love it.

 

Please Note: While I experienced the helicopter ride at a media event, all opinions are my own.

I Won The Lottery; No Really, I Did

Living in a great city like Chicago affords you the constant opportunity to see and do so much. I sometimes get FOMO (fear of missing out) because I can only be in one place at one time! I want to do it all, ha ha. I’ve recently had the chance to check out some unbelievable shows and musicals and thought I’d share them with you. Make sure to stay on top of these because as it goes, most shows are only around for a limited time. And, I promise to tell you how I won the lottery….keep reading.

Luzia

Luzia

Luzia by Cirque du Soleil– I’ve been so fortunate to experience many Cirque du Soleil shows, so I’m no newbie to these amazing productions. The latest installment called Luzia has just landed in Chicago until early September and I was lucky enough to attend the premiere show. With the unbelievable acrobatics, beautiful sets and amazing music, this show is staged as a “waking dream through imaginary Mexico.” The vibrant colors and costumes were mesmerizing and I was blown away at it all, so much so, that I am seriously considering going back to see it again. There were so many elements of the show that I have never seen before, so it was truly a feast for the eyes. It is imagination brought to real life. If you have the opportunity to go to the show, make sure you do. I hope you love Luzia as much as I did! Thanks to the Mexico Board of Tourism for the tickets.

Spamilton

Spamilton

Spamilton– I had no idea this show was even a thing! But, it makes sense. As most of you know, the Broadway hit Hamilton has taken the nation by storm. It’s pretty much impossible to score tickets, even when paying hefty sums of money to see the show. Being such a huge success, it was only a matter of time before someone developed the spoof on it. The parody of Hamilton called Spamilton was hilarious and you don’t even have to have seen Hamilton to appreciate it (although it does help). With so many references to other Broadway hits, I found myself laughing and engaged throughout the entire show. It was so much fun and I think it’s great for a night out with some friends or to just get out and do something different. If you are looking for a night of laughs, definitely check out the show at the Royal George Theater in Lincoln Park.

My Parents Excited To See Hamilton

My Parents Excited To See Hamilton

Hamilton Lottery– Speaking of Hamilton, I just had to share this. In case you didn’t already know, you can enter a daily lottery to try to win tickets to see Hamilton (both NYC and Chicago have a lottery for their respective shows). Even though I saw the show back in February, I have been trying for months to win tickets. If you do happen to win, the tickets are only $10 each, which I originally thought was the best part about it. Oh no….I heard from others that not only do you pay only $10 per ticket, you can score front row orchestra seats. WHAT????? Ok, game on. My parents happened to be staying with me for a few days and even though I had been trying to win tickets for a long time for my co-worker Alisa and I to go together, I just played along like I always did expecting the daily rejection email I was so accustomed to receiving. On this one random day, I saw the email from the Hamilton Lottery saying, “YOU WON.” I didn’t even know what to do with myself because I couldn’t believe my own eyes. I quickly paid for the tickets (you have to secure the tickets within one hour of being notified of winning) and knew in my heart what the right thing to do was. I gave the tickets to my parents. They were so touched and I have to say, excited like little kids leading up to the show and after; they absolutely loved it! But seriously, I should get the Daughter of the Year award right?!?! #daughteroftheyear. Moral of the story: keep playing that damn lottery. I’m hoping my luck didn’t run out because I still want to see Hamilton from the front row with my friend Alisa!

 

Please Note: While I was provided tickets to Luzia and Spamilton, all opinions are my own.

Who Is Keeping Track?

If you’ve been following along on my adventures, you know by now that I love my indoor cycling and yoga classes. I’ve finally found forms of exercise that I enjoy and have been sticking to on a weekly basis for the past several years. It’s nice to have found my groove!

I’ve tried various activity trackers in the past, but have found them not so cute on the fashion front. I’m a person who likes to wear jewelry, so those black, rubber-like bands just didn’t cut it for me. I’ve found an awesome new smart tracker called WiseWear that keeps those stats most of us like to keep track of, but is also available as a beautiful bracelet.

WiseWear

WiseWear

WiseWear Bracelet

WiseWear Bracelet

This smart bracelet not only tracks your activity like steps, calories burned, distance, active time, etc., you can also receive mobile notifications from your phone. But, the one thing that truly sets this smart bracelet apart from the others is the distress function. You can alert your emergency contacts with just three taps to the blue-tooth connected bracelet. I have not seen that feature before, and I can truly appreciate it being a female that lives in a large city. I would hope no one ever needs to use that function, but how genius to have that capability built right into this bracelet.

WiseWear Bracelet - Duchess Gold

WiseWear Bracelet – Duchess Gold

I’ve really enjoyed wearing my bracelet and it goes perfectly with my outfits without looking clunky or cheap. I’ve gotten so many compliments on it just as a bracelet. Little do people know all of its awesome capabilities until I tell them about it! I can definitely see wearing WiseWear as I travel to stay fashionable and keep tabs on my activity as I explore a new place. Are you keeping track?

WiseWear Everyday Living

WiseWear Everyday Living

 

Please Note: While I was provided with the WiseWear bracelet, all opinions are my own.