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.

Advertisements

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

IMG_2680

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).

IMG_3110

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

Best Brunches and Hunts in the City

Happy Easter Greeting Instagram Post

Spring is officially here (although no physical signs of it. Sigh) and Easter is right around the corner. Get out your pastels, boat shoes, and Easter egg baskets and let’s talk about brunch. I have put together some of the best Easter Brunches and Egg Hunts in the city for the entire family.

Commonwealth Tavern- One of my favorites this year has to be at Commonwealth in Roscoe Village. They will be having a kid-friendly Bunny Brunch on Sunday, March 25 (Bunny Brunch) and Sunday, April 1st (Easter Sunday Brunch) from 10 am to 2 pm. There will be FREE kid-friendly activities will include Easter egg coloring, crafts and a special appearance from the Easter Bunny.

While the little ones have fun, adults will enjoy a $3 Build-Your-Own Mimosa Bar and $6 Build-Your-Own Bloody Mary Bar (YASSS PLEASE!). There are several brunch options like a Brunch Schnitzel (herb aioli, smoked potatoes, pickled red onion, fried egg; $14), or a Pig Muffin (maple pig head, farm egg, American cheese, English muffin; $12). The Kid’s Menu ranges in price from $5 to $6 with options like bacon and eggs, grilled cheese, mini cheese burgers and chicken fingers. You can make reservations at (773) 697-7965.

IMG_3052 (1).jpg

Easter brunch at Macy’s (Chicago-Walnut Room) and Oakbrook-Signature Kitchen): March 24th, 25th, and 31st– Meet the Easter Bunny, enjoy balloon artists and face painters while eating a breakfast buffet. You can find both menus and pricing here. Brunch on Saturday starts at 9am and Sunday at 10am. Macy’s Bunny Brunch

I/O at the Godfrey Hotel Chicago: Sunday, April 1st, 2018–  Boasting to be Chicago’s largest indoor outdoor rooftop lounge, Easter Brunch is being served under their retractable roof. Besides some of the best views of River North and downtown, eat brunch with the Easter Bunny, get your face painted and my favorite, a play room for the kids. Brunch includes a carving station, an omelette station and family style pastas for $39/adults and $12/kids. To make reservations and find more information, find it here.

IO-Easter-600.jpg

Bistronomic: Sunday, April 1st, 2018 (9:30 am-4:00 pm)- If you and the family feel like getting a little fancy, head over to Bistronomic. Located in Streeterville, serving French food and well known among “foodies” for being top notch farm-to-table food. This brunch includes a menu with filled with seasonal produce from the Green City Market, with a vegetarian option. $42/adults and $56 with Bottomless Mimosas (PARENT BONUS) 2-course Children’s menu $20 (under 12). Make your reservations here at Open Table

Lunch with the Bunny at Independence: Mar. 24th, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.– Head to the Irving Park neighborhood to Independence Park for breakfast and pictures with the Bunny, face painting, inflatables and art projects. For $15 dollars per person, you can find out more information at Chicago Park District.

New City Lincoln Park- Located at 1457 N. Halsted Ave, this recently “modern” mall has been actively throwing family friendly events (we like the tree lighting) all year. For Easter this year, they have a free Easter Wonderland event on their plaza. On March 31st, from 10-12 pm, there will be Easter activities, bunny visits and special appearance by Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter. You can RSVP here.
bunny.jpg

Tuscany on Taylor: Sunday, April 1 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuscany Restaurant on Taylor Street will feature an a la carte Easter specials menu created by Executive Chef Victorio Padilla. The regular menu will also be available, and some of the specials will include items like a Smoked Salmon Crostini ($11), Gnocchi ($19), Braised lamb shank ($28) and more! You can make reservations here.

900 Shops- This is the first year the Easter Bunny will be at this location. Located in the 900 N. Michigan Avenue building, the Bunny will be available for photos from Friday, March 23 – Saturday, March 31. The Bunny will start seeing guests at 12 pm and will see the last guest at 6 pm. Very similar to Photos with Santa Clause, keep in mind that all guests must be present in order to sign up for the virtual line. Once entered, you will receive a text with your estimated wait time. Online reservations are not available. Upon arrival you cannot select your preferred time slot.

Instasize_bunny_v4-01.png

Or if you feel like running around with your little one and getting those eggs, the Chicago Park District has great hunts across the city that are free. Find more at Chicago Park District

Until next time…
 Christine

 

Big Announcement!

download (1).png

I am excited to share with you guys that I will be a contributor to the Chicago Scene Magazine! It’s something I never really thought I would be doing, but I truly believe everything happens for a reason. I remember in college, I would always pick up a CS magazine in the lobby of my building and look to see who was featured that month. Fast forward ten years later, I get to make the magic happen.

They have taken a break from printing, but are now re-branding with the website launching next month and the magazine soon after. They have continued to have their events like New Years Eve at the Drake or the largest boat party on Lake Michigan, but now they will be diving deeper into Chicago neighborhoods and covering the best of the best.

I can’t wait to share some really great content with you!

I’d also like to say how thankful I am for all of you even reading this right now. In a day in age where time is limited, I appreciate the support and the few minutes you have to share with me. So THANK YOU!

Until next time,

Christine

A Family Friendly St. Patrick’s Day: Events and Activities for Everyone

Green Leaf Clover St Patricks Day Instagram Post

With St. Patrick’s Day approaching, there are lot’s of events and activities happening, many involving over indulging in some adult beverages and creating some fuzzy memories. But just because you have a family now doesn’t mean the fun can stop. There are a ton of family friendly activities happening and even ones that involve green beer just for you parents. Yes parents, you deserve a green beer or two.

Events

Old St. Patrick’s Church: St. Patrick’s Day Civic Celebration– If you are looking for other ways to celebrate the day, attend mass at Old St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Chicago’s West Loop. The Old St. Patrick’s concert choir will be accompanied by The Sheila Tully Irish Stepdancers, and the Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band, keeping the festive spirit going throughout the day. Highly recommended to get there early.

Closed out St. Paddy's Day Weekend with the St Patrick's Day Community Celebration at @oldstpatschicago complete with bagpipes, Irish Stepdancers, and soda bread. 🍀

Photo by @urbanaohana

Saturday, March. 17, 9 .m. (doors open at 7 a.m.)

Old St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, 700 W. Adams St., West Loop

NY Kids Club– Celebrate with your little ones for a St. Patrick’s Day Party during a supervised open play in their state-of-the-art gym. We have been here a few times since they recently opened and really enjoyed the space. They have a more gymnastic based equipment like a mini-trampoline and balance beam.

There will also be Irish sing-alongs and open art. The festivities include pizza for children and hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine for adults. Families will also receive party favors on their way out.

Friday, March 16th, 3:30 PM – 5:00 PM ,
Chicago – Lincoln Park NY Kids Club
Tickets $48 per child

St. Patrick’s Festival at the Irish American Heritage – Following the downtown parade, head over to the Irish American Heritage Center on the Northwest side. The family-oriented annual event will include traditional and contemporary Irish music, Irish step dance performances, food and drink, children’s activities and an arts-and-crafts fair with an Irish flair.

Saturday, March 17th, 1 p.m.-midnight
Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox Ave., Irving Park
Tickets are $15/adults, or $12 for advance purchase if bought by the end of the day on March. 15; free for ages 11 & under

Northwest Irish Parade- The Northwest Irish Organization (NWSI) kicks off its 15th annual parade to celebrate all things Irish. This is probably the most manageable parade with a family compared to the downtown and southside parades. With over 100 parade group participants and 2,500 people marching, it is an hour and a half for the whole family.

The after Party will take place at Immaculate Conception Elementary School Recreation Center from 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Tickets for the after party include dinner and drinks for kids and adults. There will be corned beef, entertainment, face painting, balloon magic and raffles.

Sunday, March 11th, noon
Begins at 6634 W. Raven

After party 1:00- 5:00 pm
Immaculate Conception Recreation Center 7271 W. Talcott Ave
Tickets: $10.00/12 and over, $5.00/children under 12. Drink Wristband (optional) $5.00 -21 years & older only (includes beer & wine)

Hard Rock Cafe– Need somewhere to go after the downtown parade? Hard Rock is having their 10th annual GET SHAMROCKED! This all ages event starts at 10:00 AM.  You can head in Cafe or out in the heated tent for all the festivities. There will be Live Music by The Hat Guys & The Shannon Rovers along with green beer, Irish grub and jello shots and more.

#GetShamROCKED! Happy #stpatricksday #Chicago!

A post shared by Hard Rock Cafe Chicago (@hrcchicago) on

63 West Ontario, Chicago, IL 60654
$5 dollar suggested donation to the Hard Rock Heals Foundation

Restaurants

Krispy Kreme-  In the mood for doughnuts? What about green doughnuts?! Krispy Kreme Doughnuts is joining the St. Patrick’s Day celebration’s and serving green doughnuts for two days for the first time ever!

Krispy Kreme is bringing back its “O’riginal” Glazed Doughnut on Friday and Saturday,
March 16-17, at Chicagoland’s Krispy Kreme shops located at 17815 South Halsted Street
in Homewood and 9150 South Western Avenue in Evergreen Park. The O’riginal Glazed Doughnut is specially formulated with green dough and glazed hot in traditional Krispy Kreme fashion.

Definitely perfect for those little ones with a serious sweet tooth in your family!

Krispy Kreme doughnuts serving green doughnuts for St. Patrick's Day

Chief O’Neill’s Pub & Restaurant- Named one of the “Top Ten Irish Pubs in the World” by Irish of the Welcomes magazine, Chief O’Neill’s is very authentic and also, family friendly. In fact, we celebrate many special occasions here my family including their father’s day bruch. They have several family friendly activities going on all weekend like their Little Leprechaun Family Breakfast Feast (8am – 11:30am). 

The chief….

A post shared by Matteo Violare (@thorndayle) on

Saturday Parade Day 3/17/18   OPENING 7AM

Little Leprechaun Family Breakfast Feast (8am – 11:30am)

    • Buffet breakfast for adults and kids featuring Irish and American breakfast favorites; Bacon, Sausage, Corned Beef Hash, French Toast, Waffles, Irish Cheddar Scrambled Eggs, Breakfast Potato Casserole, Eggs Benedict, Scrambled Eggs, Breads, Fresh platters and more…..
    • Live traditional Irish music
    • Complimentary tin whistle lesson with the Irish Music School of Chicago at 9am for all kids ages 6 – 12. Bring your own whistle (Key of D) buy one for $10 or borrow one of ours! Pre-registration required at www.irishmusicschool.org
    • Face painting and balloon animals
    • Free Irish Dance lessons 10am, kids 3 to 10yr with The Trinity Academy of Irish Dance
    • An appearance by St. Patrick himself at 10am
    • And much more!

3471 N. Elston Ave., Avondale
Breakfast Food Service, Adults $15, Kids 10 and under $12

Legno Chicago– Although you wouldn’t think an Italian restaurant would have much for St. Patrick’s Day, but this Portage Park gem is joining the party. Legno is an Italian gastropub located in what Parent Magazine called, “the most family friendly neighborhood in the city”. They will be serving corned beef, shepard’s pie and have drink specials all day long.

4250 N. Central Avenue
Chicago, IL 60634
773.736.2854

Lady Gregory’s – Lady Gregory’s Irish Bar & Restaurant in Andersonville  is one of our family’s favorite lunch spots. Named after the passionate Irish author, this charming wood-paneled pub focuses on farm-to-table, sustainable, local ingredients and authentic Irish fare. Try to secure a table in the cozy library with a fireplace. Start with the hard cider steamed mussels and move on to the classic fish and chips served with minty peas.

5260 N. Clark Street
Chicago IL 60640

773 271 5050

XO Marshmallow– This is not only dessert heaven, but kids love it! The space is fun and the marshmallows are delicious. They are serving Green River mint lemonade and pistachio marshmallow all month long.

6977 N Sheridan Rd.
Chicago, IL 60626

Activities

Celebrating at home? Here are some ways to enjoy the festivities at home with your family.

Gold Maze
Are you lucky enough to find the gold at the end of this maze? Education.com is here with learning games and educational activities just like this maze_gold. 

Crossword Clover 
Find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow as you practice your spelling with this fun crossword_clover printable. Education.com is here for you with more spelling and learning activities.

Popular Children’s Books

  1. How to Catch a Leprechaun

2. The Itsy Bitsy Leprachaun

3. Curious George- Happy St. Patrick’s Day

For the Adults

  1. St. Patrick’s Day Wine Labels

2. Photo Props

St Patrick's Photo Booth Props Irish Day Photo Props Tinksky Funny Creative Toy St. Patrick's Party Favors 34pcs

So however you are celebrating it, be safe and enjoy the day with your family!

Until next time,

Christine

A Stroll down Southport Corridor (adults only)

The Southport Corridor may be known for strollers, moms and boutiques, but recently, there has been a surge in places for adults to play. So ditch those strollers, grab a glass of wine, and take a peek into some adult friendly places popping up on the Southport Corridor.

Coda Di Volpe-  Boasting Southern Italian fare like pizza, steak and seafood, they are most known for their Neapolitan pizza that comes with a side scissors to cut your own slices. Chef Thompson brings his own flair with a seasonal menu, house-cured meats, along with a contemporary vibe that all creates a great spot on Southport.

Coda has a great wine list (award winning in fact) and a creative cocktail menu.  As for starters, my absolute favorite appetizer is the goat cheese with beets appetizer (I am not sure this is on the menu anymore, sigh…) and the pork & prosciutto Meatballs.

How’s your Friday night looking? #chicago #tailofthefox

A post shared by Coda Di Volpe (@cdvolpe_chi) on

IMG_1417

Goat Cheese and Beets Appetizer

Next, pizza! The Funghi and Diavolo pizza are both delicious, but really, they all look fantastic.  Thompson crafts traditional VPN-certified Neapolitan pizzas served with authentic pizza shears that adds an element of fun to the dining experience.

Next up, pasta. All the pastas are made in-house and available gluten free upon request. A stand out dish is the Trombette Trapanese made with Coda’s fennel sausage, tomato, almond, garlic, and basil. It’s also just beautiful to look at.

They are also now serve brunch on the weekend. It’s perfect for date night or a night out with the ladies.

Ella Elli- The newest addition to the 4 star restaurant group, is the wine bar, Ella Elli. This sexy, romantic spot is so swanky, I felt like I had been transported downtown to a fancy hotel in River North. The over sized lanterns, fireplace and couches, make for THE perfect date night spot.

We love Fridays! Stop in for a drink at the bar before we fill up! 📸: @nadia.ryan

A post shared by Ella Elli (@ellaellichicago) on

 The wine list is extensive, but Pinot Noir Rose by Willamette Valley really paired nicely with our cheese board.  We also tried the creamy mushroom toast with creme faiche and thyme, this would make me come back. Everything is presented beautifully and our server paired everything really well with our wine.

IMG_1431

Ella Elli

They have pizza great for sharing, pasta and burgers. The burger is supposed to be outstanding, as well as their brunch menu  When I visited, we shared the charcuterie  and toasts, which really can be a meal in itself. Next time, the burger is on my list.

@Eater_Chicago named our pizzas as some of the hottest in Chicago!! Have you tried them yet?

A post shared by Ella Elli (@ellaellichicago) on

If you need a date night, Ella Elli should absolutely be on your list.

Tied House– Just opening in February 2018, this is brand new on Southport. The reviews are rolling in and everything about Tied House has been outstanding.

Schubas Tavern has been around for three decades, and now there is a new addition  with the opening of Tied House, the owners’ new restaurant next door. The modern architecture and the courtyard that separates the restaurant from Schubas with a giant outdoor fireplace just dazzles from the inside and out.

Schubas will continue to have the same menu, Tied House’s chef, Debbie Gold (who happens to be  James Beard Award-winning chef) to create her own menu, including short rib, crudo, porridge with beets and house made ice cream.

Tied House will be perfect for pre and post concerts and is a great addition to the area looking for more “adult” friendly dining.

With so many options now on Southport, there is really something for everyone.

Until next time.

Christine

 

National Margarita Day (but that could be any day really…)

Turquoise Margarita Day Trivia Facebook Post

If you know anything about me, I enjoy two kinds of drinks: a glass of Cabernet and a margarita with salt.  But margaritas can be overly sweet, watered down, or just really, really bad. Whether it is Cinco de Mayo or a warm day in Chicago, a margarita is the perfect cocktail to sip on. To help you get your buzz on,  I have rounded up a few of my favorite marg’s around the city.

Big Star– This might be the most obvious choice, but their margaritas are really tasty. Either by the pitcher or glass, I prefer the Big Star mezcal rather than the Classic. The classic is made with blanco tequila, which doesn’t give the smoky taste I prefer like the Big Star. They have an amazing patio and it’s perfect for the warmer Chicago months, and of course, let’s not forget their tacos.

Masa Azul– This Logan Square Mexican and cocktail bar is a little gem that might have the best margaritas in the city. Seriously. Their margaritas are that good. With almost 20 cocktail options to choose from, all ranging from $6- $12 dollars, lots of tacos (lots of vegetarian options), this is my top 5 favorite Mexican places in Chicago. This is a bold statement, considering my husband’s discerning taste. With such a variety of options, there might be a margarita for everyone.

#nationalmargaritaday

A post shared by Masa Azul (@masaazulchicago) on

The two margaritas I recommend are the Prickly Pear and Where there is smoke. This has mezcal joven with a Serrano Chile. Smoky with a little spice.  Pair it with their guacamole = perfect meal.

Crio Bar and Restaurant– Located in West Lincoln park on Clybourn Avenue, this Latin American gastropub has some really flavorful margaritas, great empanadas and drink specials throughout the week. On Tuesdays, Margaritas are only $6 dollars.

New Guava Margarita 🙌🏽 it's so refreshing, already had 10 😜

A post shared by CRĪO (@criochicago) on

$6 margaritas for Lunch and Dinner 😜 #happytuesday #tacotuesday

A post shared by CRĪO (@criochicago) on

I have two go-to drinks here. First, the hibiscus marg is a delicious combination of sweet and spicy.  Second, they have a version of a Moscow mule, made with mezcal, which is really good. Plus, for all you instagrammers, the mural and flower wall make a great photo opportunity.

Del Toro– Located in Pilsen, this little gem is always packed and always worth the wait. The tacos are delicious, but the margaritas is make me coming back. My favorite is the  jalapeno margarita.  It literally comes with a flaming jalapeno which is not only entertaining, it makes for fun experience. It was also delicious – which is a double plus.

These are just a few places, but Chicago is full of so many amazing places to grab a margarita. I’d love to hear your go-to places!

Until next time…

~xoxo~

Christine

Bring Your Own Date and Booze: My Favorite BYO Spots in the City

Gold Fancy National Wine Day Social Media Graphic

BYO (bring your own booze, beer or wine) is one of those great restaurant qualities that  many look for when dining out. It’s cheaper (usually), much more casual and a great place to dine with groups. Chicago has an abundance of BYO options ranging from casual to upscale dining, so I have rounded up a list of my favorite spots throughout the city.

Sushi Mon – Located in Lincoln Park, this BYO sushi restaurant has a wide variety of sushi rolls, sushi bowls, pressed sushi and an impressive list of veggie rolls. My personal favorites are the Godzilla, V6 and Sparking rolls (see all three below). They recently expanded from one tiny room to now a much bigger space. The service is friendly, prices are great and no corkage fee. Go check it out and tell them I sent you 🙂

Sushi mon is a BYOB in lincoln park

Various Rolls at Sushi Mon

Sushi Mon: 2441 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614

90 Miles Cuban Cafe– My family has been coming to 90 Miles for years now for their traditional Cuban cuisine. We have celebrated graduations, anniversaries and birthdays here. It is huge, has an outdoor seating and the decor all make for a fun dining atmosphere. The empanadas and ropa vieja are not to be missed, some of the best I have ever had (sorry mother-in-law!)

20131217-277465-90-miles-cuban-cafe-avocado-salad-with-churrasco.JPG

Photo by Lindsey Howald Patton

The service is top-notch, especially since there are many large groups at time. They take reservations and it is definitely recommended. In addition to being BYOB, they have a sangria and mojito mix, so bring wine or rum they will make you a cocktail. There are a few locations in the city. To find out more information, click here.

1. 3333 W Touhy Ave, Lincolnwood, IL 60712

2. 3101 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

3. 2540 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Home Bistro Chicago– The first time I dined at the cozy and quaint Home Bistro, was on a date (with my now husband years ago) when we first started dating. Located in Lakeview, with a constant changing New American menu, along with no corkage fee, this is the ideal date night spot.  They have an option for a prix fix on Wednesdays and Sunday brunch. For parties of 7 of more, they have a family style prix fixed menu at $45/person. They take reservations and are highly recommended.

Photo from Home Bistro

Home Bistro Chicago: 3404 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60657

Caro Miro- For our very first Valentine’s Day (7 years ago…), we came to the Italian BYO Caro Miro and have gone several times since. Located in Ravenswood, this cozy, neighborhood spot has homemade pastas with huge portions, big enough to share. The pesto filled gnocchi is the best and chicken parmesan is also another favorite. There is not a corkage fee, but if you plan on sharing entrees, there is a $4 sharing fee. They recently expanded their dining room and take parties to up to 80 people now. Reservations are taken for parties of 4 or more. Bring your appetite and a bottle or two for some delicious Italian food.

Gnocchi Gratinati @ Caro Mio Italian Restaurant

Photo from Food Spotting.com

Caro Miro: 1833 W Wilson Ave, Chicago, IL 60640

Semiramis- This Lebanese restaurant is intimate, welcoming and the food is fantastic. I love the mixed grilled platter, falafel, and hummus are delicious. There is plenty of street parking, but it is located right off the Kedzie Brown Line stop. There is a corkage fee and don’t take reservations, but so worth the wait. Promise.

semiramis.jpg

Photo from @TammyGreen

Semiramis: 639 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

There are plenty of BYO restaurants to choose from in Chicago and a little something for everyone. Now get those appetites and bottles poppin’. 🙂

Until next time…

Christine

Game on: A Kid-Friendly Super Bowl

Super Bowl is one of my favorite events of the year, but you guessed right, not for the game. But for THE FOOD. Super Bowl food is the best. I took some classic Super Bowl recipes, fun hosting ideas and made them a little bit more kid-friendly. So whether you have a family or a party with kids, there is a little something for everyone to get you ready for the big game!

Setup
I love hosting. It’s one of my favorite things to do. But if there are a lot of people, especially with little ones, I need easy ideas for setup and clean up. I decided to minimize the dishes and use Solo Cup Products to make clean up easy and less complicated. They are completely disposable, recyclable and really durable. Once you are done with them, they can also be used for kids to write and color on them. It’s a win, win right?

Some fast and easy ideas are a snack bar, pigs in a blanket, tater tot skewers and individual 7 layer dip cups (because nothing says football more than dip).

super bowl kid friendly ideas using solo products. Snacks and food

SOLO has write on cups that are perfect to label the snacks. The kids can make their own snack bowls with lids.  These bowls are easy for them to hold and whatever they don’t finish, the bowls serve as to-go cups. The small, clear cups are the perfect size for the individual 7 layer dip cups. Lastly, the paper plates are the adults for the skewers and other snacks. Don’t forget about the red and blue cups for the adult or kid beverages you serve. Plus, they add lots of color to your table.

super bowl kid friendly ideas using solo products. Snacks and food

Snack Bar
The best part of a snack bar is that you can customize it to your guests preferences. Since this is more kid friendly, the options are kid friendly, but even adults would enjoy them (I know I do!)

super bowl kid friendly ideas using solo products. Snacks and food

Snacks
Here are the snacks I used:

  • kid puffs
  • graham crackers
  • ring pops (everyone’s a champion!
  • M & M’s
  • pretzels
  • Doritos
  • blue corn chips

super bowl kid friendly ideas using solo products. Snacks and food

super bowl kid friendly ideas using solo products. Snacks and food

super bowl kid friendly ideas using solo products. Snacks and food

Pigs in a Blanket
This is an appetizer that everyone likes. You can definitely make them with recipes like this or you can buy them frozen, whatever makes your life easier! But either way, they are a great for kids and adults.

super bowl kid friendly ideas using solo products. Snacks and food

7 Layer Dip
These are perfect for a few reasons. The cups are very sturdy, so they are able to hold a lot without feeling too heavy. They are great size for those small hands and you don’t have to worry about any double dipping 🙂

super bowl kid friendly ideas using solo products. Snacks and food

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16 ounce) can refried beans
  • 1 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning
  • 1 cup guacamole or homemade guacamole
  • 1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
  • 1 cup chunky salsa 
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese (I used both!)
  • 2 Roma tomatoes , diced
  • 1/2 bunch of green onions, sliced
  • 1 (2.25 ounce) can of sliced olives, drained (Optional- my son doesn’t like olives)
  • (9 ounce) SOLO cup plastic cups
  • tortilla chips (I like blue corn chips)

Instructions:

  • In a small bowl mix taco seasoning with refried beans.
  • Add about 2-2 1/2 tablespoons for each layer
    • Layer 1: beans and taco seasoning
    • Layer 2: sour cream
    • Layer 3: guacamole
    • Layer 4: pico de gallo
    • Layer 5: cheese
    • Layer 6: tomatoes
    • Layer 7: green onions and olives
  • Garnish with one tortilla chip. Store in the refrigerator until serving and serve with chips. Makes around 6 individual dips.
super bowl kid friendly ideas using solo products. Snacks and food

 

Tater Tot Skewers
These are super easy to make and really fun to eat. You can eat them right off the skewer or add it to your SOLO plate. 15-20 minutes at 425 degrees, let them cool and add 4-5 tots to each skewer. You can add ketchup to the small SOLO cups for dipping.

super bowl kid friendly ideas using solo products. Snacks and food

So if you are inviting friends over to watch the Super Bowl or watching it with your family, enjoy the game, whoever is playing….most importantly, enjoy the food with a no fuss clean up.

Until next time,

Christine

This post was sponsored by SOLO cup however all opinions and experiences are my own!

Winter Fun for Everyone: Indoor places for the Family

Chicago winter months can be brutal, especially with little ones. The days can become even longer when you are stuck inside all day. I have rounded out a list of our favorite indoor spots. I have included classes, open playrooms and additional fun, indoor activities to keep everyone entertained (hopefully!) and sane during the cold months. I also got some help from fellow moms too and included their favs. Even included a special discount code, a promotion and several free options because who doesn’t like to save some extra cash right?!

Chicago:

Merry Music Makers– Music based classes from kids birth to 5 years old. Children can learn to sing in tune, keep a beat and participate in the music of our culture, provided their early environment supports such learning. Merry Music Makers offers research-based curriculum.

TIP: There are three locations throughout the city; Lakeview, Andersonville, and Edgewater

NYC Kids Club– Just recently opened, this gym has various classes, but several are gymnastic based. We have done one open play and a Gym Tots class and really enjoyed it. They have some great grand opening specials that includes Monthly – 50% off your first month + 1 year unlimited open play! Offer expires January 31. 

TIP:  There is a parking lot on the side on the building.

NY Kids Club- Chicago

Bubbles Academy– We have been to several events and open plays here, Noah has always enjoyed it. They focus on an art integrated curriculum and have many classes like art, music and creative movement. The facility has lots of space and they are always having FREE events. Some upcoming parent workshops like potty training and building math skills are really informative for parents.

TIP: Sign up for their newsletter and get the latest events, workshops, and classes.

Bubbles Academy

Purple Monkey Playroom– Located in Bucktown, this playroom is nice for children to explore in the large play space. They have free coffee, tea, and WiFi. I really like the mini kitchen area to heat up lunch and have some snacks. We have always done a day pass for $15 and usually stay for at least minimum of two hours. I think its a great place for play dates on a cold day.

TIP: They have lot parking available in the 90 mile Cuban Cafe gated parking lot at 2449 W. Armitage, directly under the El tracks. It’s about a 3 minute walk to the playroom.

Purple Playroom

Sod Room– Sod Room is an eco-friendly, indoor play space located in the South Loop of Chicago.  They provide toys and materials from recycled cork flooring, low VOC paint, and reclaimed wood. It is uniquely designed to utilize as much natural light as possible.  They also have workshops and classes. A day pass is $15 dollars.

TIP: They also feature a retail boutique which offers local, organic, fair trade, and recycled products and gifts for children and parents.

Goldfish Swim School- Through some research and word of mouth, we found Goldfish Swim School and we LOVE IT! It’s our favorite activity to do as a family. We each take a turn in the water with him during the 30 minute class (because of his age). We have the same teacher each lesson in a very small class and they work with you and the level your child is at. You can read more about our experience here. By lesson 3, Noah was enjoying it and learning to do the activities much more independently. After we showered, they have diapers, blow dryers, lotion and wipes to help get ready after the shower.

TIP: They have locations in Chicago and Chicago-land suburbs.

IMG_2645

Lesson 1- He definitely warmed up 🙂

Lil’ Kickers Soccer– We started soccer lessons when Noah was 20 months (now turning 2 in two weeks) and LOVE it. The program is designed to help develop a child’s social, emotional, and cognitive skills while providing physical exercise and developing players who are good sports and good teammates, on and off the field. The coaches are very encouraging, always high-fiving, and players get stamps at the end of each lesson (my son’s favorite part!). It is a 50 minute lesson with an adult, but at the age of 3, a parent is no longer required.

TIP: They have locations in Chicago and Chicago-land suburbs.

LIl' Kickers soccer practice

Mini City on 21– Located in Norwood park, this is an open playroom that is a parent/guardian supervised indoor play, party and cafe. They have have classes and birthday party packages available. Day passes are $10 for children 1 – 10 years old and $7 for children 11 – 12 years old. 0-11 months are FREE.

TIP: You can get a MINI “PASSPORT” (only for children 1 -10 years old) with a 5-day pass, $40, 10-day pass, $80 or 15-day pass, $120.

Tinkergarten–  All classes take place outside at a local park. Outdoor classes where children can play with other children alongside adults to learn through well-designed, outdoor play-based activities. They help kids develop a host of important capabilities, including empathy, collaboration, creativity, persistence and problem solving. Classes range from 18 months to 8 years old.

TIP: Free trials in March for the spring season

Zumbini– Created by Zumba and BabyFirst for kids ages birth to 4 years old, the Zumbini program combines music, dance and educational tools for 45 minutes of parent and child bonding! Also taught by a local fellow mom! Check out their schedule for classes all over the city.

TIP: Use the code Mamatribe15 for 15% off (only valid at the Irish American Heritage Center).

Young Explorers at the Adler Planetarium– Children between the ages of 2 and 6 years old can check out Young Explorers’ Mondays from 9:30 am – 1:00 pm, where children and their families can try hands-on activities like Fly a Kite, Stories Under the Stars, and more. Or add a sky show to your day when you purchase a Basic Pass that includes One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure.

TIP: Free with admission.

Kids playroom at the Adler Planetarium

Kidsyard–  Located off Irving Park Road, it is a 2,400 square feet play center for children aged 0-12 years. They have soft play structures, giant blocks and a climbing wall. All activities are created and appointed based on the age of the children and other safety requirements. For the babies or children under 4, there is a specific area to enjoy, with activities that engage their senses, body and mind. They have their own ball pond, mini slide, soft play blocks to crawl on and play equipment.

TIP: They do NOT allow outside food, but have a cafe.

Learning Loop Academy-Learning Loop Academy is dedicated to providing a safe and caring learning, playing and growing space where parents and caregivers can spend time together with their infants and toddlers. It is an interactive area to gather and explore many aspects of movement, music, art language and literature with the opportunity to meet and connect with other families. Check website for pricing.

TIP: Free parking and Wifi

Image result for learning loop academy

Chicago-land Suburbs:

Kohls Children’s Museum– Kohl Children’s Museum in Glenview, offers 17 interactive, hands-on exhibits for children ages birth to 8. All of our exhibits and programs are aligned to the Illinois State Learning Standards and are designed to nurture a love of learning in young children. Adults and children are $12 dollars.

TIP: Children under 1 years old are free.

Adventure Playland– Located in Mt. Prospect, it is an indoor playground for the kids while serving food, coffee and free WiFi for parents. Open to children 6 months to 7 years old.  Children under 1 are free with paid sibling. Monday-Thursday is $10.00, Friday & Sunday is $12.00. An after school special on Monday-Thursday after 3:00PM, is $7.00 per child

TIP: They have punch cards available.

Adventure Playland

Fun Republic Play– Fun Republic in St. Charles, was founded by three local moms whose main goal was to create a play center to help children not only develop basic motor skills and social skills, but also develop self-confidence while having fun. Fun Republic strives to offer a safe, creative and exciting play setting for children of all ages.

TIP: Kids under 1 years old are FREE.

Wonder Works  Wonder Works is 6,400 square feet of fun, a place of creative play for kids birth to age eight. Located in Oak Park, the children’s museum helps kids, their parents and caregivers unleash their imaginations. Wonder Works Children’s Museum provides a hands-on environment for children from birth to age 8 years old. The museum includes six permanent experience zones and hosts parties, field trips, concerts and other fun, educational events. Plus, an outdoor organic garden. Regular Admission is $7 per person, child or adult

TIP: Wonder Works also offers reduced admission for groups of 10 or more children when scheduled in advance through our field trip program.

Peekaboo Playroom– A playroom located in Oak Park, children from 0-6 years old can enjoy the variety of toys, play hide-and-seek in between the little house, read books in the book corner, play basketball, climb and slide in the clubhouse, and much much more. One day unlimited play is per child $12, sibling #2 and Sibling #3 FREE.

TIP: 1 hour pass for $6 dollars

Meet at Gather– Located in downtown Evanston, this playroom offers a place to Gather for art and music classes, workshops and events, open to all ages and abilities. They are open for drop-in art and play Monday-Saturday.

TIP: They have won for Best Playroom in 2017.

Gather for kids in downtown Evanston

Gather in Evanston

Free:

Story Time at Barnes and Noble

Dawn- Marie’s Toddler Jam Sessions

Garfield Park Conservatory

Harold Washington Library

Swedish American Museum

Free Thursdays at the Nature Museum

French Story Time (Various locations)

When all else fails:

Have the fun delivered to your door! These are kits that are toys with a purpose. Ranging from science to arts and crafts. Here are some kits that you can customize based on your child’s preferences. 

HOOT for Kids- For newborn to 6 years old, these treasure boxes are customized based upon your child’s age and developmental stage. They are toys with a purpose.

Bramble Box– Bramble Box award winning Play and Craft Kits are hand-curated activity boxes for kids age 3-7. Mom created and kid tested for hours of fun (& learning) with items to inspire imaginative play and all the materials for at least 2-3 hands-on activities and crafts.

Curiosity Pack– Curiosity Packs inspire a love of learning through age-appropriate activities. Children will learn about letters, numbers, friendship, science, art, love, and every other intriguing subject you can imagine.

My Giant Box– My Giant Busy Box will keep ’em busy! ThB001AQDA50ere’s 16 projects, mold dough animals, collage a farm and sticker art. Decorate paper bag puppets and tissue art pictures, then frame them. Includes plastic frames, animal punch outs, bright dough colors, peel and stick tissue art pictures, tons of tissue paper, glue, and easy to follow instructions.

Building Tiles Set for Kids

Magnetic building blocks are hands on learning tool. They can be combined in so many different ways! It includes a set of 102 pieces, including magnetic alphabet blocks & numbers. 

With a few more winter months left, I hope some of these ideas help out your little ones (and you!)

Until next time,

Christine