The Gift Guide for every CHICAGO FAMILY on Your List

A gift guide for the Chicago family to experience together.

Sometimes the best gifts I have ever gotten are the experiences you have together. Personally, I would rather have a gift that creates memories as family over anything else. That is priceless. So this holiday season, whether you are a friend, grandparent, or mom, I have rounded out a list of experiences families can have together throughout the holidays and into the new year. Give the gift of experience to the Chicago Family on your list.

The Berghoff– If you have never been to The Berghoff, it is a family owned restaurant with old German favorites like the bavarian pretzel, bratwurst and much more. They are a family operated restaurant, so why not bring in the ones on your list for the holidays and enjoy the iconic restaurant! They have several festive activities throughout the season and have beautiful holiday decor throughout the restaurant. If you would like to read more about some of their menu upgrades and my latest experience, you can find it here. They have gift cards available for purchase to give those families on your list an experience to dine and enjoy any of the activities below.

The Berghoff during the holiday season.

Die Weihnachtsgurke (The Christmas Pickle Ornament)– The Berghoff managers choose a post on their famed Christmas tree to hide a pickle. Children under 12 years of age will be invited to find the pickle. If a child finds it, they’ll receive a complimentary root beer. The special will run all day from now until December 23rd in the Main Dining Room. Valid with purchase only.

Spot the Brat (for the adults)– Similar to the pickle challenge, The Berghoff managers will hide their stuffed toy Brat dressed in Christmas clothing somewhere around the bar. Adults will be invited to find it and the winner receives one complimentary mini brat. Valid Monday-Thursday from now until December 23rd in the bar. Valid with purchase only.

Santa– Santa Claus will be visiting The Berghoff from 1pm-5pm every Saturday until Christmas.

Goldfish Swim School–  We have been taking swim lessons at Goldfish for almost a month now and we LOVE it! We look forward to it every weekend. If you would like to read more about our experience, you can find it here.

swimming lessons at Goldfish swim school. They are offering a great holiday package this year.

Many families and kids want to take classes, but either can’t commit to the time, can’t afford it or are wary of trying something new. Giving the gift of a children’s class is a really unique way for family members to gift an experience and skill set that a family might not otherwise try! Goldfish Swim School this season is offering a great value holiday package this season. With 12 locations across the Chicagoland area, Goldfish features year-round swim lessons for children ages four months to age 12 with the benefit of state-of-the-art facilities and a confidence-building curriculum that promotes a love of swimming and water safety. This year, the holiday package includes:

  • 2 months of swim lessons
  • the annual registration fee
  • a gift basket of Goldfish retail items

for $189 (regular price $220). Such a great value that will keep giving in the new year!

Pearachute Kids– There are some hot new kid memberships that will make for a great gift for you and your family to experience. Just think of a gift card or membership that keeps on giving!!

Pearachute makes a great gift for Chicago families to enjoy kids classes throughout the city

With Pearachute, kids can enjoy choices of different classes around Chicagoland that give parents flexibility and options to try new activities! It’s a monthly membership that lets you drop into the best kids’ classes near you. Memberships start at $39 a month and with Pearachute you can buy your kids, nieces or nephews, or grandkids a gift card to put towards a monthly pass. This holiday season, Pearachute is offering a FREE $25 Pearachute gift card with every gift card purchase of $100 or more. There will be a ton of Pearachute-only holiday experiences on the site this season like Polar Express tickets, visits with Santa, Christmas plays and shows, seasonal live theater and Santa breakfasts! You can find more information here.

Blo, Blow Dry Bar– Treat yourself and your little lady this holiday to a fun hair and makeup experience at the newest dry bar to hit the Chicago scene. I have had a blow out here a few times and it’s one of the best I have had in the city.

Blo out and Blow Dry on Southport Corridor makes a great holiday gift for moms and daughters

Blo, Blow Dry Bar, with its first Chicagoland location in the Southport Corridor, offers hair and makeup (blow and style, no cuts or color) and full makeup application with Glo Minerals products. Blow outs start at $35 on Mon-Wed and $45 after that. You can also book by appointment Blo for your holiday party, kids’ party and more! You can check out the holiday hair menu here. Gift cards are available for purchase.

Chicago Trolley & Double Decker- Holiday Lights Tour- Experience the magic of the holidays with Chicago’s most spectacular light displays at the city’s most popular destinations.

holiday lights tour on Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Tour. Makes a great holiday gift for Chicago Families

This tour is great for even Chicagoans that want to enjoy the holiday lights as a family out of the cold. As a bonus, A FREE holiday cupcake from Sprinkles is given to all riders. Tours are running now until December 23rd, 2017. Adult tickets are $29 dollars and Kid’s tickets are $18 dollars (ages 5-15). Reservations are highly recommended due to the popularity of the tour. You can make reservations here.

Enjoy this season with your family and friends because that’s what it’s truly about.

Until next time…

Christine

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Our Little Goldfish

swimming lessons at Goldfish swim school. They are offering a great holiday package this year.

Growing up, I was always around water and was taught how to swim at a very young age. In fact, I remember taking swimming lessons with my mom when I was 8 years old. Manny, on the other hand, learned how to swim in his adulthood. He has a slight fear of water and we did not want to pass that same feeling along to Noah. I view swimming as a life skill and it is extremely important to teach him at a very young age, plus it’s a fun experience for all of us!

Through some research and word of mouth, we found Goldfish Swim School and we LOVE IT! It’s our new 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 are in the water with him). We have the same teacher each lesson in a very small class and they work with you and the level your child is at.

swimming lessons at Goldfish swim school. They are offering a great holiday package this year.

At first, Noah cried and kept trying to get out of the pool. I never felt embarrassed or worried what the teacher would think. She worked with Noah and did not force him to do anything, just made modifications along the way. During lesson 2, he went completely under water. I was shocked! It actually took my breath away, but he loved it and does it in the bath now 🙂

By lesson 4, he was finally using the barbell, kicking his feet and using his arms to paddle. We couldn’t believe how much progress he was making. Not only is he learning how to swim, he is more confident in the water compared to the first lesson. This is priceless.

But one of the best features is there are showers, soap, lotion, diapers, wipes, hair dryers, and changing tables. Everything is there for you! Even when it’s super cold, Noah just plays with the various toys and activities until we are all dry and ready to go. He is learning such an important skill he will use his entire life and we are all having the best time while doing it.

They are also offering a great holiday package this season. With 12 locations across the Chicago-land area, they offer swim lessons for children ages four months to age 12. This year, the holiday gift package includes:

  • 2 months of swim lessons
  • the annual registration fee
  • a gift basket of Goldfish retail items

All for $189 (*regular price $220). Such a great idea to gift an experience you can do as a family in the new year!

swimming lessons at Goldfish swim school. They are offering a great holiday package this year.

Until next time…

Christine

5 things to take your Turkey Day to the next level

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, there are a lot of things we need to do. Whether it is cooking, creating the right place setting or finding the perfect hostess gift, Thanksgiving can be overwhelming. I have rounded out some great recipes and fun gift ideas to make your Turkey Day a little more enjoyable with your family and friends.

Beet Bruschetta with Lavender- Vanilla Honey Drizzle

IMG_0156 (1)I don’t know what says more than Thanksgiving than beets. It’s like a must right? So why not take those beets and turn them into something fun that everyone would like?! This recipe is from the Ryanne, the blogger at Pineappple Expression. Her stuff is always amazing and under 40 minutes, it is sure to be a serious crowd pleaser.

Prep and Assembly time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes Prep
Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 1 French baguette loaf of bread
  • 1 (5.02 oz) small package of Boursin Cheese (garlic and herbs flavor is best)
  • 1 medium sized red beet
  • 1 package of fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lavender
  • 1/2 of a vanilla bean
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  • kosher salt

Directions:

  1. First, preheat the oven to 375F.  Peel and slice the beet into 1/4 slices.  Place the slices on a roasting pan and toss with a light drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and a few sprigs of thyme.  Roast the beets for 30 minutes, but flip after 15 for a more even cook.  When the beets are done, pull from the oven and let them cool.
  2. While the beets cool, slice the bread as you would for bruschetta.  Coat lightly with olive oil and place in the oven under the broiler for a maximum of 5 minutes.  The slices should still be soft, but have a nice golden color to the tops.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the honey, lavender and vanilla bean (scrape the insides out to produce the black flecks) along with the apple cider vinegar.   I love this combo!!
  4. After the beets have cooled, chop into cubes as evenly as you can.  1/4 inch on each side.  First cut into strips, then rotate the knife as you move through.
  5. To assemble the toasts, use a butter knife to spread a layer of Boursin cheese onto each slice of bread.   Next, crumble on a small mountain of the roasted beets.  Using a spoon, drizzle a little bit of the honey mixture over the tops of each toast.  Sprinkle with some coarse kosher salt or flaky sea salt on top.   For more pizzazz, use the sprigs of thyme to garnish the plate.
  6. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving Wine Bottle Labels

Whether you are bringing wine or serving it, these Thanksgiving themed labels would get a good laugh from all your guests at the table. A set of 4 is $8.89 and available on Prime. Perfect for all wine lovers. Find them here.

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Skinny Pumpkin Bars

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Whether a pre-dinner snack or a dessert, these pumpkin bars are delicious.  They are not overly pumpkin and the chocolate chips are a great addition. My son devoured three in one day (he’s 20 months) and I am not going to even tell you how many I ate…..

Prep time: 25 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • 3 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened (I tried margarine. It doesn’t taste the same)
  • 2 eggs and 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 (15oz) can All Natural mashed pumpkin (I like Trader Joes and Aldi)
  • ¾ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

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 Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt; set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugars; mix until creamy.
  5. Add eggs one at a time; beating and scraping bowl with each addition.
  6. Add egg whites; mix until fluffy.
  7. Add applesauce and pumpkin; mix until all blended together
  8. Add dry ingredients all at once and mix until thick consistency.
  9. Add in mini chocolate chips.
  10. Evenly spread into prepared cookie sheet.
  11. Bake 23-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  12. Cool and enjoy 🙂

Thanksgiving T-shirt- Turkey, Wine and Feeling Fine

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Ok, I know this technically doesn’t go on the table, but how cute is this t-shirt? And pretty accurate right? Thanksgiving is about turkey, wine and RELAXING. It is available for men and women.

It is $17.99 and available on Prime. You can find it here.

Thanksgiving Party Boxes

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I really like these party boxes for either your adult guests or a nice addition to your kids table. It can be filled with candy from a candy bar, leftovers or desserts to go, it is a cute way for your guests to leave with something special from the day.  For a set of 12, it is $11.04 and available on Prime. You can find them here.

However you are celebrating, I hope you have a blessed day with friends and family, because in the end, that’s all that matters.

Until next time,

Christine

Helmets and Head Shapes

IMG_0143 (1)Around a year ago, my son had to wear a helmet from ages 3-6 months. Right around his 3 month check up, we started to notice that Noah’s head shape was starting to take on more of a “flat head” appearance in the back. But it wasn’t until our pediatrician suggested we see a specialist that it really sunk in for me. It was just too difficult to even imagine having him wear a helmet, but even worse, to think about what could happen in the future when he was older. It was not an easy decision. We were seeking the perfect head shape, but it was starting to become very obvious to us that it wasn’t going away. Read more at Motherhood & Family

Old is New Again: The Berghoff

My parents grew up going to The Berghoff in downtown Chicago. Most Chicagoans probably have. I used to go as a kid, but the last time I was there, I was in high school. In fact, I thought for the longest time it was closed. Recently, I had the opportunity to dine and tour the restaurant and was so impressed. Not only because of the history, but the revival of the menu.  The Berghoff is known for their German food like Weiner Schnitzel’s, bratwursts and giant Bavarian pretzels. Of course, those dishes are legendary, but there are new additions to the menu that are more modern and appealing to a younger generation. More contemporary dishes that even include certified gluten-free options. But first, let me tell you about the history and how it all began. Read more at Restaurant Reviews & Recipes

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Southwest Michigan: All the places you must visit

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 at Travel & City Adventures IMG_9245

 

End of Summer (Head) Shots

IMG_6341I had an awesome chance to work with the talented photographer, Sarah, from Levine Moore Photo We took some updated photos for my blog at North Avenue Beach and at the new swanky Shore Club. We had lots of fun and the photos turned out amazing. Now we have teamed up to do a FREE 30 MINUTE HEADSHOT GIVEAWAY. See my Instagram account for details. 📸📸

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