Southwest, Michigan: Where to eat, sleep and play

I have been visiting New Buffalo, Michigan since I was a little girl. In fact, my parents even had their joint bachelor and bachelorette party there over 30 years ago. I grew up going to the beach and going to the farmer’s market every summer. For our very first family vacation, we rented a house on the beach when Noah was just three months old. Read more about Southwest Michigan Travel & City Adventures

Our family vacation to Southwest Michigan

 

 

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Asian Chopped Salad with Steak

Hi! It’s me, your-not-so afraid to admit it salad lover. Especially this time of the year, I love a good, hearty salad. One of my mom hacks is taking a premade meal or any kind salad kit and really make it my own. That’s exactly what I did with this recipe. I used an Asian Salad Kit and a marinade for the steak. There is so much you can add based on what your preferences are. This Asian Chopped Salad with Steak is so good, easy and a perfect weekday meal. You do need some time for the marinade, but definitely something you can throw together before leaving for work. Find the full recipe at Food

 

May Photo Breakdown

“Photo Breakdown” came about while looking back through old photos on my Intsagram feed and remembering all the back stories that comes with each photo. A lot of times, there’s so much going on behind each picture that doesn’t always get shared. Captions don’t allow to give the full background of what’s really going on in real life. As a result, I will take one photo each month and give the breakdown of the real deal. I hope you guys like it! I’d love feedback or any suggestions for next month. And like always, thanks for reading ❤️. Read more at Life

Headshots at north avenue beach

Recipe: Brown Sugar and Bourbon BBQ Chicken

BBQ Rehearsal Dinner Invitation

My husband recently was having a rough day at work and I wanted to prepare a meal for him that I knew would make him feel better. Plus, May is National BBQ month, so why not?!

He loves BBQ and Bourbon, so I found Delish’s recipe, Brown Sugar BBQ to make sandwiches. I did some adjusting to it and it made it just right for us.

This is a 6 hour slow cooker recipe with just a few ingredients. In fact, I had everything in the fridge, with the exception of the coleslaw. In all, it took me around 10 minutes to prep. I LOVE recipes that are easy, but able to make it my own and adjust it to our personal taste.

BBQ and bourbon sandwich recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 c. barbecue sauce, plus more for drizzling (Used Sweet Baby Ray’s)
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. bourbon
  • 1/2 c. Italian dressing (I love Wishbone)
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 Slider buns (Use Martin’s potato rolls)
  • Coleslaw, for serving

Directions:

  1. In a slow-cooker, add chicken breasts, barbecue sauce, brown sugar, bourbon, Italian dressing, garlic powder and paprika. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Toss until well coated, then cover and cook on high, 6 hours.
  3. Shred chicken and serve on buns with a drizzle of barbecue sauce and a spoonful of coleslaw.

BBQ chicken and bourbon recipe

I was also not going to bother heading to the store for the one ingredient I was missing, the coleslaw. But, this is a must! The combination makes the entire sandwich. For the Italian dressing, I used a generic brand, but would use Wishbone next time. Just because I feel like it is the best and it might have made a difference in the taste.

At 5 hours, I thought it was done and was tempting to stop it. But don’t! That last hour changed the texture of the meat and I am glad I waited. They turned out perfect! The meat melted in your mouth. It was sweet and tangy from the BBQ sauce and smokey from the bourbon.

Definitely one of the best meals I’ve made in a long time. It’s really easy, but not quick meal you can put together. It takes time, but something you can throw in the crockpot before you leave for work.

Let me know how it is!

Until next time,

Christine

April Roundup

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Ok, so I know it’s May 8th already and I am a little behind, but forgive me ok? I will try better next month. Promise. So here it is…

Bad

I am going to start with the bad this past month because April was crazy. I officially declared it my families unhealthiest month we have ever had. So much so, I didn’t even disclose a lot of of it on social media because I literally didn’t think people would believe me. Like I was making it up or something.

Week 1: I threw out my back after taking Noah out of the bathtub and literally couldn’t walk for a week. I have a bad back and this just made it ten times worse. I couldn’t lift him, took some time off work, and was basically bedridden.

Week 2: Noah had a double eye infection and a nasty cold. He was home from daycare all week, so I was on full mommy duty and no work. It was a long, boring week indoors.

Week 3: I somehow managed to get strep throat, which actually landed me in the ER. I was in so much pain and it became so difficult to breath. After a few rounds of steroids, fluids, and antibiotics, I was feeling better in about a week. Again no work and bedridden. Yes, it sucked.

Then, bam. April was pretty much over. Yes, very, very unhealthy month for us. I didn’t accomplish much, no blogging, events, or work. But we are all better now and looking forward to a healthier May.

The Good

Now thats out of the way, there was some good stuff that happened in April.

I was invited into Glow Out Salon to try out one of their services. I chose a blow out and it was fantastic. The space is also super, super grammable and fun to hang out with your friends. They offer spray tans, braids, blowouts and nails. It’s really a one stop shop. Definitely worth checking out if your in the area.

Glow out salon for a blow out

I had been having a serious burger craving and needed a big, juicy burger. Over the summer, I had tried Big Bob and Fritzys at Roscoe Village Burger Fest and I was hooked. I had never been to the Lincoln Park restaurant and very happy I did.

Their Angus Chuck burgers are grilled perfectly and they use Merkts Cheddar, it’s delicious. They also have shakes and sweet potato waffle fries with honey mustard, so so good. They also deliver on Grub Hub, I promise you’ll love it.

Big Bob and Fritzy's burger Lincoln Park

Since April was crazy, I was definitely feeling overwhelmed. I took a little break during my lunch and took a meditation class at Chill Chicago with a friend. It was so nice to just unplug and relax (although, meditating is so much harder than people realize). I need more practice, but Chill is such a zen place, I instantly felt a little lighter after leaving.

Meditation class at Chill

One of my favorite things I did ALL month was the Spring Bouquet making class at Flowers for Dreams. I am the least non-Pintrest person and really can’t put together a bouquet for the life of me, so I was really excited to try this class. They go through it step by step, and you also make a fun cocktail and they serve food along the way. It’s $40 dollars, but part of the profits are donated to nonprofits they work with. It’s such a great time and it’s for a wonderful cause. I plan on bringing my friends back in June for the flower crown class.

Flowers for Dreams

Flowers for Dreams bouqet

I am looking forward to May and so far, it’s been off to a great start (and healthy one at that!)

Until next time,

Christine

My Mother’s Day Wish List

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Mother’s Day is one of my favorite holidays. Even before being a mom, I always felt like it was the kick off to summer and another excuse to get the family together (with lots of wine and food of course). Now it’s extra fun and I love it even more as a mom. Not sure about anyone else, but I get asked every year, “what do you want for Mother’s Day?”. I’ve learned I need to give a few ‘hints’ ahead of time. So if you are stuck and need some ideas either for yourself or some hints for the hubby, here are some of my favorites this year.

Flowers for Dreams- This Chicago company sells locally crafted flowers online starting at Flowers for Dreams$35 with free delivery to Chicago and service to Milwaukee. Every single bouquet sold benefits a local charity, which is amazing. Each month, there is a new charity they donate to. They also have workshops at their warehouse to learn how to make different kinds of bouquets. I took spring bouquet class a few weeks and it was so much fun, I plan on bringing my friends to the next one in June. I highly recommend it.

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Armitron Watches–  I think one of the best gifts you could give mom or yourself is a watch. It’s like one of those universal gifts, you know. Armitron Watches come with a Lifetime Warranty, are waterproof and have a variety of styles to choose from. I have the sport version I like to workout in, but there are so many options depending on mom’s lifestyle. There are even watches that tell the weather, altitude, count calories, etc.

Armitron Watches and Mothers Day

I attended a Bellicon Trampoline Class with Armitron Watches

Another watch I really like that is more for everyday wear is here.

Use MOMSDAY discount code for 20% off plus free shipping from now until May 14th at Armitron.

zoom-img-75/5410RSRGBHMurad Multivitamin Oil- If you have been following me in my instastory, I have mentioned this product before. I am a HUGE Murad fan. Their products have always helped my oily skin, but this new vitamin oil is incredible. Rarely can I use oil based products, but this is different. It is a non-comedogenic treatment oil powered by 6 key vitamins. Within one day of using it in the AM and PM, my skin was smoother, brighter and makeup slides right on. It even helps with my tired mom undereye circles. It’s on the pricier side, but I used three drops twice a day. A little goes a long way. All mom’s will thank you. Trust me.

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Gift Cards- Some people might think this is not the most personal gift you can give, but honestly, how can you go wrong? If you can tailor it to their likes, I think it’s great. I would never say know to a Target, Starbuck’s, Sephora or spa gift cards anytime. I mean, it’s just like spending other people’s money right? It’s also a good idea to send via email when you’re long distance.

Skip Hop Diaper Bag– This is my number one wish this Mother’s Day. I am in desperate need of a new bag and I despise regular diaper bags because moms need to have their hands free at all time. I found this new line at a Bump Club and Beyond event and fell in love. The dusty rose color and wipe clean vegan leather are beautiful. It doesn’t look like a normal mom bag at all. There are several compartments, but doesn’t feel bulky on. It will be used much more than just during mom time. I can’t wait for this bag to arrive this week 🙌🏼. Find it here.

Shari’s Berries– For your sweet tooth moms out there, chocolate covered strawberries, cake truffles, and cheesecake bites are screaming their name. Also, nice for sending long distance and the packaging darling. Plus, they are delicious! I had some this past week (I’ll be sharing more details on my Instagram this weekend!) Use my code SOGOOD20 for 20% off until May 13th!

However you celebrate this year, I hope you and your family enjoy the day with all the moms and women you call mom in your life 💗.

Until next time,

Christine

How I deal with Stress (or at least how I try)

I thought since April is Stress Awareness Month, I would share some ways I deal with stress (or at least how I try). We all have our moments, days, weeks, or even years that just suck and how we manage them is all so different.

I work part-time with students with cognitive disabilities, anything from ADHD, dyslexia to learning disabilities, which often lead to anxiety in many of them. A lot of my work is helping students deal with stress. School and just life can be so overwhelming for them, so I have a lot of executive functioning training and stress management is a huge part of my job. I thought I would share some tips I have learned working with my students and just being a mom, wife, blogger, and person.

dealing with stress

Prioritize and Organize: I really can’t say this enough. When we are faced with huge challenges that we know are stressful triggers for us, you must plan ahead. This can be something with your child and those oh so fun toddler tantrums. If your child hates getting dressed in the morning, plan out the outfits together the night before. Have everything laid out to avoid a meltdown. If bath time is a struggle, figure out a way to incorporate them into preparing the bath. Lay out the towel, the toys, soap, etc. Obviously, it doesn’t always work out, but having a plan always helps with stressful situations.

What I repeat almost daily with my students is to really plan out your week. This goes for adults too. If you know there’s a big meeting on Thursday, make sure everything else is done before then. Clear your schedule of any distractions and work everything else around that meeting. It will help keep your mind clear and focused. If your not an agenda person (I couldn’t function without one), make lists for different parts of your life. Home, self (crucial to do things for yourself), and work. It’ll feel good crossing everything off throughout the week.

Lastly, ALWAYS perform your hardest, challenging tasks first. Doing the harder things first means you are more likely to find unexpected hurdles earlier in the project. Finding hurdles earlier then means you have more time to deal with them before missing a deadline. There is nothing worse than scrambling at the last minute before a deadline. Overall, it’s just better in the long run, although our brains will always pick the easier way out.

dealing with stress

Treat Yourself- Ok, I know this is really taboo, but it’s true. But for me, this doesn’t mean binging on fast food or drinking too many glasses of wine (which 1-2 is great of course). When I do this, I actually end up just feeling worse. For some people, I think it totally works, but for me, it has the opposite effect. I like to get a blowout, cook my favorite meal, get my nails done or even a massage. I actually get massages every three months or so (I have a bad back too), but I really think it helps. It could be going for a walk, turning off your phone and just unplugging. Sometimes, that’s the best feeling, just disconnect.

dealing with stress, at glowout salon getting a blowout

Honestly, we all handle everything in our own way. As long as we know our own limits, you know what’s best for you. If you are stressed out, need a break, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I find myself saying ‘yes’ to everything and fill my plate until it’s over pouring and then I break down. But I’m learning to take it all in stride. Motherhood has probably slowed me down a bit, but it’s also adds other stressful factors. But we are all a work in progress and maybe one day, stress won’t even be a thing. One day 🙂

I’d love to hear how you guys deal with stress! Let me know.

Until next time,

Christine

 

 

Brunch Bites Ticket Giveaway *giveaway closed*

2018 Brunch Bites poster - CHI

Hi! So I know you guys love to brunch as much as I do (who honestly says they hate it? Weird), so I thought I would GIVEAWAY a pair of tickets to Brunch Bites April 21st! This is an $80 dollar value. You can eat and brunch your way through River North. You can find out all the details here.

All you have to do is subscribe to my blog. It’s really that easy! I send out weekly emails on Wednesday’s of all sorts of stuff going on in the CGL, new posts, giveaways, reviews, etc.

(must be over 21 years of age and live in the US to enter).

I will email the winner on Friday.

Good luck and happy brunching…:)

You can subscribe here.

Our Favorite Children’s Books & Nighttime Routine

INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN'S BOOK DAYTwo-year-olds aren’t always that bad. Sometimes, they are pretty awesome — especially when they can’t put a book down from their chubby little hands. I started reading with Noah consistently when he was around 3 weeks old and we haven’t stopped since. Although, I use the term “reading” loosely, we just look a lot of pictures and repeat words. It’s the best feeling to watch him grow and find a love of reading. As a former teacher, I was always reading, except it was children’s books (my personal favorites are Hatchet and anything by Jerry Spinelli). I have a love of children’s books.

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Every night, our bedtime routine is a bath, brush our teeth, read two books and sing two songs. We try to stick with it and he is now reminding us if we forget any part (that’s the cutest). I think whatever your nighttime routine is, it’s important to be consistent. Toddlers are so observant and will definitely notice when part of your normal routine is missing. My mom gave me this advice when Noah was an infant. We started our bath, two books and two songs when he was weeks old (and had no idea what was going on), but now he expects it and sleeps 12-13 hours a night. Definitely a work in progress, but it’s so helpful to have a clear routine.

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(*glider by Delta. I love it for our small room)
Here are 5 books we love right now:

1. Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night?  by Brianna Caplan Sayres, illustrated by Christian Slade

For any vehicle-obsessed little ones (I hear the word “truck” in one day more than I can count) can expect repeat requests for this story at bedtime. From diggers and dump trucks to tractors and cranes, sweet rhymes about familiar bedtime routines gently lull trucks (and kids) off to sleep.

2. My Big Animal Book by Roger Priddy

Two-year-olds love animals, and this giant board book might be his favorite. It groups animals into various categories such as pets and farm animals. Toddlers will recognize their favorite animals and learn some new ones too. Noah loves to point and quiz me, just to make sure I didn’t forget any of them 🙂


3. Where is Baby’s Belly Button by Karen Katz.

We actually got this for a baby shower gift and was one of the first books to read to him. This not only teaches primary and secondary body parts, the lift-the-flap book is the best part of it. This is apart of a series and they are all engaging.

4. Pirate Pete Polly-Potty Training for Boys 

If you have been following me for awhile, you know we have been trying to potty train  (but really that can be a whole other conversation or two itself) Noah for awhile. It hasn’t been easy, but Noah is at least entertained by pressing the cheering button when he attempts to go. Maybe it helps, but either way, it’s his potty reading material.

5. Teeth are Not for Biting by Elizabeth Verdick

Our nanny (when I was working full time) bought this for Noah. Yes, we went through a rough biting phase. I have to say, I think this book really helped. The visuals really showed Noah how it can hurt other children and he has grown out of it. Although, it’s frightening for parents to have to deal with it. This book is a must for all biters.

I would love to know your favorite children’s books! Let me know.

Until next time…

Christine

March Roundup

We are having a baby girl

Instagram is nice and pretty, but I decided I needed another outlet to summarize everything that is going on. A short caption doesn’t really capture everything IRL (for those not familiar, in real life). So every month, I am going to summarize everything I love, some not so great stuff and anything else that happened during the month. I hope you guys like it!

The Good

The most exciting thing I shared was earlier this month, in case you missed it, is I will now be a contributor at Chicago Scene Magazine. They are relaunching starting with their website and going to print shortly after. To be honest, it kind of just landed on my lamp. It’s a new adventure, but I can’t wait to share some articles with you guys. You can read more here.

I did an interview with the online publication, Voyage Magazine. This was pretty cool to be included in their Trailblazer section (because honestly, I feel like I barely keep my house afloat) and how I got my start. I explained a lot of why I started CGL and what keeps me motivated. The interview is here.

There was another #goodandsassy event at Go Glow There were lots on influencers trying out a customized spray tan for the very first time. (I go rather often and I discovered this place). We had wine from Jolie Folie (My absolute favorite rosé. You can find it at Foxtrot or Goddess and the Grocer), adorable custom cookies from Sugar Fan Club and lots of meat and cheese from Boar’s Head. It was a great event and it’s probably one of the best tans I have ever had. There is another location in Minnesota and they are new-ish to Chicago. It was perfect way to start spring and get ready for warmer months. The facility is clean, easy, and the tan lasts at least a week.

tan from go glow

One day post tan

Manny and I went out for St. Patrick’s Day for the first time in 8 years. Yes, we did the math. It had been that long since we went out. We had a baby free weekend (it was actually really nice to have some freedom for a little) and went to the penthouse at the Swissotel Chicago. We watched the Chicago River being dyed and went out with friends all day. After the hotel, we went to a cool place called Tapster in Wicker Parker and ended with dinner at Dove’s Luncheonette. It was one of my favorite days of the year.

After the hotel, we grabbed drinks along the river

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Watching the river being dyed

Green eggs and ham with corned beef and hash

Noah and I went to the Chicago Children’s Museum for the first time and had such a great time (although, N did have a major breakdown and I ended up Facetiming Manny in tears, but that’s another story..). He absolutely loved it. I also couldn’t believe how big museum was! There is really something for everyone, even for little ones. I often find sometimes places like that are always geared toward older kids, but this isn’t. There is a new exhibit, Growing up Seoul. It’s a sneak peek into life growing up in Korea. Super cool.

We then walked around Navy Pier and he ran after the ducks. It was a great day. Pro tip: I used Spot Hero for $15 and walked two blocks to Navy Pier. Super easy (but a very long day for mom).

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Noah and I infront of EnerGeeWhizz

I have been working out a lot recently and really getting back into shape. I was feeling so good, but my back was starting to get a little sore. Sunday night, I went to grab Noah from the tub and got stuck. Literally. Manny had to come and help pick me up with Noah in my arms. My back was shot. I have been pretty much bed-ridden and have been relying on Manny and my mom a lot. I am a person that likes to do 700 things at once and this time, I really can’t do much but lie in bed. It’s been a real bummer.

How this all got started….

When I was 19 years old, I was in a pretty bad car accident on my way to the University of Iowa to visit a friend. It was the middle of February, wasn’t snowing, but we hit black ice and the rest is history. I broke one of the lowest lumbars in my back, skull fracture, punctured a lung, broken ribs, collarbone, and much more. I was airlifted to the trauma center in Peoria and went through emergency back surgery. I now have 2 metal rods and 4 screws. I healed everywhere else just fine (with lots of physical therapy), but my back can be pretty temperamental with the weather, pregnancy, etc. This past Sunday, it hadn’t been that bad in years. To say this least, that’s been a huge downer this month. I am taking it one day at a time.

This month has been so busy. Lot’s of events and I did some really fun things I did with Noah. Honestly, those are probably my favorite.

Let me know if you guys like the monthly wrap ups!

Until next time…

Christine