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Check Out Our Charming Adventures in Charleston!

When you take a trip with your sister for Spring Break it is a Chick Trip and Family Trip all mixed into one!  This year, we set our sights on some southern charm and headed to Charleston, South Carolina.  We loaded up our mini’s (all four of them) and pulled off a fun and memorable trip complete with loads of laughs!

What to do:
Carriage ride:

A great way to get your bearings for this quaint city is to take a carriage tour. We hopped over to Palmetto Carriage Works for a ride through Charleston‘s historical district. We absolutely loved our guide, Jim.  He was knowledgeable, relevant, and funny! We would highly recommend starting your trip to Charleston with this tour to understand fun spots to visit.  As women and as bloggers, we found the story about the Grimke sisters who were early advocates for abolition and women’s rights to be pertinent and interesting.  It was a refreshing reminder of women in history and a great teachable moment for our young children!  The streets of Charleston are lined with historical homes that make the city truly a place to visit!  We got lucky with a morning ride so it wasn’t too hot or too cold.

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Fort Sumter – Patriots Point

When we arrived at our hotel, our rooms weren’t ready.  In an attempt to kill some time we drove over to Patriots Point and BOY are we glad we did (literally a 12 minute drive from the historic downtown area)!  We walked over to the USS Yorktown and toured the ship.  Tickets were $22 for adults and $14 for kids.  Definitely worth it!  The boat was easy to navigate with tours that are clearly marked (audio tours are also available)!  We were traveling with 4 young kids who all found the ship’s many rooms fascinating.  Aboard the ship you see where crew ate, slept and lived life while on board.  The top of the ship was lined with fighter jets from both the navy and marines!

This is an awesome stop for both kids and adults! We went on a simulator that showed what it would be like as a pilot of a fighter jet, this helped jump start the kids imagination when we made our way to see the jets in real life (tickets were $6 per person).  I would allow about 3-4 hours to check out the ship.  Next door is Fort Sumter, of you plan to do both you would be looking at a full  day outing depending on the ages in your group.

Sullivan Island : Lighthouse and Beach

We had planned to stop at Sullivan Island during our planning for the trip.  I should warn that we went in the month of April for Spring break and the weather didn’t quite hold up for the beach.   We made a stop over at the lighthouse which we could only see as we walked past it.  Not the most picturesque lighthouse, but something to see nonetheless.  Just past the lighthouse was a  boardwalk to the beach.  The kids loved collecting shells while we basked in the spring sun.  It wasn’t quite warm enough to get in the water, so keep that in mind when planning a visit in the Spring months.  A quick mention, if you have young kids and your hopes of spending a day at the beach get ruined, there is a park with playgrounds just up the road that was a savior for us!

What to eat:
Basil

Situated right off King Street in Charleston Basil is a Thai restaurant that has absolutely delicious food!  With a blend of vegetarians and non-vegetarians in our group  this was a sure bet for dinner.  Most dishes can be substituted for tofu.  In general we are regulars to Thai food, but I must say the food here stood out!  Their Pad Ke Mow is a must try!  My kids love Panang curry…unfortunately Basil didn’t offer this but had Massuman curry which was a perfect substitution!  If you like Thai, you’ll love Basil.

Basic Kitchen

While shopping with the kids, we were looking for a lunch spot.  Upon a recommendation we ended up at Basic Kitchen.  This place was gorgeous! It had a light and airy feel and was clean and well staffed. They offered a good selection for the kids menu which made the kids…and us happy!  We tried the bbq tempeh, cauliflower wings and avocado toast…all three were so good!  This is a must stop for good clean and vegetarian eats!

Mex 1

What a fun Mexican restaurant!  You can’t miss it off the main road once you get onto Sullivan Island.  This place offered both indoor and outdoor seating, we sat indoor since it was a tad on the chilly side the day we went.  They offer an extensive menu of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options.  It wasn’t like most Mexican restaurants with the standard quesadillas and burritos.  They had an array of salads and bowl options as well!  Come on, as people who love spicy food, they even had a hot sauce bar…my favorite was the blue agave sriracha..made in Austin, of course!  Over lunch we noshed on guacamole and chips, and even sipped on some Paloma’s….we even spotted a celebrity from the show Southern Charm…Austen!  I would definitely recommend this place.  Of course, you know the chicks at ChicksAndSalsa can’t pass up a food spot for some “chips” and salsa!

Where to stay (or not):
Hyatt Place

We waited until the last minute to book our trip so we had very few options for hotels.  We ended up at the Hyatt Place which we didn’t love.  When we pulled up they were not very helpful.  There was no one to help with our bags or even greet us.  We helped ourselves to unloading our luggage onto the cart and then again upstairs…. this made for a terrible first impression!  The room easily fit 6 of us, we had two double beds and a pull out sofa bed.  The pool was indoor and decently kept, the kids liked that the water was heated so they enjoyed their time!  Our room stay included breakfast…we thought this would be a good perk, but the food was just OK and the dining area was very crowded.

We were grateful to have something to start to the day, but truthfully we preferred to have breakfast out of the hotel.  Overall, we are grateful to have had a place to stay, but would not recommend the Hyatt place, especially if you are big on service!

All in all, the city is so unique and distinct from the Chicago and Atlanta landscape that we are used to! We loved driving on the beautiful bridges, being by the water, shopping on King Street, and of course eating in Charleston!

Another one for the books, check out our other travel posts here!

Cheers,

Rina And Sonia

Happy To Keep Austin Weird

We have all heard of it, everyone is moving there, songs are written about it… Austin, Texas!

Over Thanksgiving my family and I went to Austin.  I have a cousin who lives there and he can’t rave more about what a wonderful city it is!  With two kids, 5 and 7 years old, we were looking for a good balance of sightseeing and family-friendly activities.

The Hotel: Westin – Downtown Austin

We stayed at the Westin in downtown Austin. The location of the hotel was central to many of the the places we planned to visit. Being a Starwood member with Westin allowed us to upgrade our room to a suite for a comfortable stay in a new city.

The swanky Westin Lobby

I recommend renting a car when you visit…unlike other cities, like New York or DC, a lot of this city is best accessed by cars or ride-share services.  Majority of the things we saw were a driving-distance away.

For those of you who have read my previous travel diaries, you’ll notice I like to recommend my favorite vegetarian spots.

The Eats: Uchi and Counter Culture

Uchi was a fantastic spot for both food and ambiance.  Don’t be fooled by its label as a sushi restaurant, chef Tyson Cole whips up many delicious vegetarian dishes. Uchi’s dishes come both in the form of sushi and others variations! My personal favorite was the nasu sushi…..I’m still dreaming about it!  This dish was a succulent eggplant dish that literally melts in your mouth.  This restaurant is not necessarily family-friendly but our kids enjoyed themselves nonetheless.

Another restaurant I would recommend is Counter Culture We came upon this restaurant on our drive back from the grotto (which I will touch on later).  It was a small vegan restaurant with a quaint feel.  The food was absolutely fantastic — they were able to mimic regular restaurant food with vegan replacements….it’s always a great feeling to know you can eat everything on a menu! Unlike Uchi, this was a much more causal spot.  Don’t leave without trying their nachos!

Outdoor Dining Defines Austin

Lake Travis

A MUST stop is Lake Travis.  While I didn’t find the vegetarian food at the Oasis to be all that great, the views were simply breathtaking!  We had a family sunset dinner on their outdoor terrace which made for a beautiful family memory…I would highly recommend this stop if you have time!

Family Friendly Activities

Because we were with our kids, we enjoyed doing a variation family friendly activities.  Some that stood out were the bat cruise, canoeing Lady Bird Lake and paying a visit to Westcave Canyon and the Grotto.

The bat tour takes you beneath the bridge that is home to thousands of bats.  If you take the sunset tour, as we did, you can see hundreds of them flying in and out.  Needless to say, both adults and kids delighted to see the hustle of nature as it integrates with man-made architecture.  As city dwellers we don’t get a lot of time to connect with the great outdoors so this made for a fun stop!

Bats at Sunset

We took the kids canoeing at Lady Bird Lake – which is a clean and crystal clear body of water.  The kids loved spotting turtles and fish all in their natural habitats.  My husband and I spent most of our time doing the rowing, but the kids loved pitching in every now and again. Not a bad workout, honestly!

Finally we went to Westcave Canyon.  They provide guided tours to the infamous “Grotto” (pictured below).  This beautiful natural occurrence made for a beautiful sight and great teachable moment for our kids. Our guide was knowledgeable and respectful about nature, serving as a role model for our children.  The hike there was easy enough for a 5 year old and the end result….seeing the Grotto, was the cherry on top!  A must-visit, but make sure you call and book in advance!

“Keep Austin Weird” is a common phrase throughout the city. This is likely in reference to its diverse array of activities and food, enough to entertain populations from children to adults. I would venture to add “Keep Austin awesome!”

I would highly recommend this beautiful city for a great family trip!  See where else we have wandered here.

Your chick,
Sonia

Put in Bay, OH – A Hidden Gem In The Midwest

Where? That is what I said when I my Dad told me that he had a wonderful, family friendly spot for us to visit this summer. Growing up on Lake Michigan, a destination on Lake Eerie truly felt foreign to me.  We had spent many holidays in Ohio but never visited this surprising gem.  To get to Put In Bay, you have to get to Toledo, Ohio and then ferry over by boat to this island in the Midwest (the Ferry is $8/adult and $17/car).  Not only is Put In Bay beautiful, but it is also has historical significance.

Its location in between Canada and the United states provided the British army a strategic advantage during the War of 1812 (remember learning about that?!?)  In any case because of its historical significance, Put In Bay is a US National Park with a sunning International Peace Monument to commemorate the battle victory.  Although the island itself is only 3.7 miles long and 1.5 miles wide we were able to have a memorable visit there because of a few things that they island has done right in attracting tourism.

Casual Atmosphere

As soon as you get off the ferry, you are offered golf carts and bikes to get around the island.  These are truly the most practical ( and the most fun) way to get around.  A car is truly just unnecessary, parking on the island is limited and it takes longer to get to and in your car than it would just to walk most times.

The few hotels on the island are huddled together near the downtown part of the island where all the restaurants and shopping is located. The island generally is well manicured but the downtown is immaculately clean and welcoming, especially to families.  There are incredible parks, a carousel, indoor and outdoor dining, water sports, and boutique ice cream and retail parlors everywhere.  Its truly just picture perfect.

Engaging Park Services

Due to the historical side of Put In Bay Island and the large international Peace Memorial Park, it is impossible not to participate in the learning that is so ingrown to the community there.  The park service has a very nice free museum with a theater to make sure that everyone who visit understands that Put In Bay is more than meets the eye.

Island Life

I know, it sounds funny but truly being on a island, no matter where always kind of seems exotic.  There is water EVERYWHERE and it is part of every landscape.  Our favorite spot that we visited EACH day we were there was the South Bass Island Lighthouse, this tiny lighthouse is located on the edge of the island with the most stunning views and breeze.  The kids and I danced in the wind for hours wishing we had a kite with us.

With the bikes we were able to explore every nook and cranny of this island and I rode with my Dad at sunrise and at sunset.  It was such an amazing bonding experience.  ( Be aware that in the month of June, the island experiences an infestation of May Flies, large dragonfly looking insects that  are harmless but literally swarm the island for two weeks.)

All in all, Put In Bay ended up being a great little getaway in the Midwest.  We stayed at the Put In Bay Resort and Conference Center.  I would say it was an average hotel that has a pool, continental breakfast and spotty wifi.  Although it was just fine for our visit, with the tiki bar by the pool and ashtrays everywhere, the resort had a little bit of a ‘Spring Break’ vibe that I would probably veer away from next time.

If you are looking for a quick little Midwest getaway, check out Put In Bay, you won’t regret it.  To see other family friendly adventures, click here.

Cheers,

Rina

Park City, Utah Will Give You Life

When I first became a mother I was told by veteran Mom’s that taking time for yourself is important. When my kids were infants I found it difficult to separate myself from family life and always carried a feeling of “mom guilt.”  Now that my kids are 5 and 7, I understand why that advice is so important.  With no diapers, bottles or sleep schedules, I have a lot less “mom guilt” leaving the kids to spend time with their dad or grandparents to have some “me” time.

Destination: Park City, Utah

Back in October, I went with four friends to Park City, Utah. We stayed at the Montage in Deer Valley. Though it was off-season, and we didn’t go for skiing, there was still plenty to do! We rented a four-bedroom residence which offered a kitchen to make at-home meals or store late night snacks. We didn’t really make good use of the kitchen since we were trying to escape the daily routine of family life including cooking and dishes!  The Montage offered complimentary coffee and assorted teas in the morning which was a nice, and much needed, touch.  

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A quick note: For those of you who have altitude sickness, Deer Park sits at almost 7000 feet so you might want to come prepared with some extra oxygen or Advil for minor headaches. I suffered my first night there, but staying hydrated helped get me back up and running the next day! Learn more about altitude sickness here.

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Sundance and North Forty Escapes

Two excursions that we really enjoyed were our trip to Sundance and our trip to North Forty Escapes.  The Montage was kind enough to offer a complementary car for us to drive out to Sundance. We did a hike to Stewart Falls which made for the perfect outdoorsy addition to our girls trip. If you decide to make your way there, bring a sweatshirt or light jacket…there are several microclimates along the hike which make you both hot and cold (be prepared)!  It’s not overly strenuous but also not easy so make sure you are wearing proper shoes.  

Our drive to North Forty Escapes took us through the weaving back roads of Park City.  If you plan to drive yourself, be sure you have your bearings and directions..we lost cell service… you don’t want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere!  When we arrived we did some clay shooting and horseback riding.  It made for a fun and productive way to be together in the great outdoors.  The sign for the ranch is small so be sure to keep your eyes peeled on your drive in.  

Tried Shooting For The First Time
Tried Clay Shooting For The First Time (not hunting, I am a vegetarian and animal lover!)


No trip is complete without food!  As a vegetarian, I can be picky about the places I suggest. Two dinner spots that stuck out were, Chimayo and River horse.    Chimayo is a quaint restaurant which offers Mexican fare.  I would recommend the wild mushroom enchiladas with a delicious spicy margarita.  River horse was a more dressy upscale restaurant that offered live music and delicious food!  The pot-stickers and tofu dishes were outstanding!  Both were beautiful in their own ways and accommodating to food requests.

When it was all said and done, a quick weekend trip away was just what the doctor ordered. The spa at the Montage (the #1 spa in Park City) was the cherry on top!  When I came home I was ready to get back to the routine and daily life of being a good wife and mom to my family.

Your Chick,

Sonia

The Chicks Take Miami – Our Top 3 Must See Spots

All of this cold weather has us dreaming about this past summer when the chicks came together and agreed that a little getaway was in order. We rounded up childcare, got the husbands to buy into a getaway for the gals, shopped, planned, and shopped some more (see our airport looks here) and finally booked our tickets for the famous Miami Beach.

It had been AGES since any of us had been there so we did a lot of research and mixed a little old with the new when we planned our stay.  For nostalgia’s sake we went to the Fontainebleau Miami Beach Towers for our stay, in our 20s we used to enjoy spending time in their gorgeous lobby bar, Bleau Bar.  Our suite was heavenly, water on both sides and up in the  sky, we knew when we stepped into the suite that no matter what we had planned for the weekend that we were going to have a great time.  The suites in the towers at Fontainebleau  are fully stocked with a full kitchen and COFFEE!  Thank God, mornings without coffee are just awful especially after a long night!  The rooms were so comfortable and spacious, we all had room to breathe, spread out, take a break/nap, and gather.  We had all the right ingredients for an amazing weekend: good company, gorgeous location, no agenda, good vibes, and for the next three days NOTHING TO DO.  We left laptops, books, and to-do lists at home.

Espanola Way

We started at the tried at true Espanola Way for an immersive ‘Welcome to Miami’ moment.  The weather is always just perfect in Miami, no wonder you can’t help but feel happy when you are there.  Espanola way is so unique, with its cafes that spill out into the streets, string lights that stretch the entire block, aromas from foods all over the world, and live music that sets the mood which makes this block one of a kind.  Even though the temptation to stop into the first place you see is real, walking all the way down to Tapas N Tintos is well worth it.  This has been a chick favorite for ages, the flamenco dancers, tapas, intimate seating and cute servers make this restaurant a truly unique experience that can only be found in this corner of Miami.

Wynwood Walls

We popped into Blo BlowDry Bar for a little pampering the next morning before we started on the day’s adventures, we had an amazing morning with the staff there, so patient and hilarious, nothing like fun people to really elevate a girls weekend.   Since our last visit, Miami has become home to many creative hotspots and hosts amazing events like Art Basel each year.  Since we were just popping in for the weekend, we were determined to check out the installments at Wynwood Walls which was only about a ten minute cab ride from South Beach.  This enormous indoor/outdoor installment is not only beautiful, but also a bloggers dream come true! Backdrop after backdrop grace the grounds and alternative structural installments capture the imagination.   After strolling through the walls, we wandered around the corner and popped into KYU a vegetarian friendly restaurant where we ate the most amazing grilled cauliflower head with avocado drizzle.  This restaurant was so yummy and such an unexpected find.

After a fairly relaxing day, we were craving a high energy, high intensity environment.  LIV nightclub has been on our list, but they were closed for renovations so we headed to Rockwell to get our groove on.  A crowded nightclub may have been a little bit different than we remembered but we had a great time.

We knew that we would not want to leave Miami without a dip in the ocean, so we headed over to the beach the next morning to really just get the 360 experience, and the water was so warm, it was hardly refreshing against the Florida heat but it was still so liberating.  Something about the way salt water makes you float just makes us tick.  We floated for what seemed like an hour with nothing but a view of the sky, definitely one of my favorite moments of the weekend.  With a few of our favorite beauty products in our bags, we were good to go!

By recommendation, we headed to the stunning Scarpetta Lounge for dinner, conveniently for us located in Fontainebleau.  This restaurant makes you want to sit straight, look on point, order a fancy drink, take pictures, and just relish  the moment.  The food was excellent; they were accommodating for our vegetarian needs, and made dishes especially for us.   This was an expensive meal, but it was worth it!  Next stop was the hotel lobby bar where we had so many memories and laughs from years ago.  The bar is just stunning and massive!  Our cocktail for the night was a French 75, it’s a mix of champagne, lemon juice and simple syrup and a whole lotta sexy.  It’s a must try and the bartender at the bar NAILED IT!

SLS Pool Party

We were on a roll; we called it a night since our last day was going to be spent at the SLS pool party by recommendation the next day.  I am still speechless when it comes to our experience at SLS.  Please know that this weekly pool party books up months in advance so if you are going to Miami and want to go to this book it ASAP here.  SLS took a few tips from the Las Vegas pool party model and blew it out of the water literally, we spent eight hours there in total (thank god for physical sunscreen) and each one was different and unexpected.  The crowd was diverse but not stuffy, the staff were friendly and attentive and the venue was just breathtaking and intimate.  They have mastered the flow of this event and have good control over the crowd which we really appreciated.


Needless to say, we used the flight home to catch a quick cat-nap and hydrate.  In summary, our trip was epic and hopefully the start of a tradition with the chicks.  A little mommy getaway does the soul and spirit good. We were thrilled to get back to our families but super grateful for the break.

If we had to narrow it down to our top three things that you just can’t negotiate and miss on your next trip, they would be a visit to:

Tapas N Tintos – Espanola Way

Wynwood Walls

SLS Pool Party

These are a MUST MUST MUST!

What is your favorite thing to do in Miami?

For more travels posts, check out our post on a recent trip to Sao Paulo in Brazil.

Cheers,

Rina

Chicks Picks:


Why São Paulo, Brazil Should Be On Your Bucket List

My husband and I were excited to attend our friend’s wedding this past October in São Paulo, Brazil. I’m anxious to share my first travel post about our trip. I hope I could do justice to all of my memorable experiences. Luckily, I have pictures to help. 🙂

We stayed at the Radisson Blu São Paulo, which was the official hotel for all the wedding guests. The hotel rooms were clean and spacious and our bathroom was equipped with L’Occitane products, which are a personal favorite. I have to mention, the Radisson Blu São Paulo, did a fantastic job with the daily buffet breakfast which includes an extensive offering of fresh coffee, cereals, pastries, eggs, cured meats, fresh juices and a whole lot more.

I can admit, as a vegetarian I was concerned about traveling to a country that relishes their meat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I was surprised to find there were quite a few highly recommended vegetarian restaurants.  In between our time attending wedding events, we had a chance to visit ‘Goa’ a fusion cuisine with Indo-Brazilian influence. They source fresh ingredients from their farm right in their very own backyard.

We even had a chance to go to the ‘Mercado Municipal’ and try countless exotic fruit sourced from all over the world including the Amazon. One delicious fruit after another, we were in heaven and wanted to purchase crates full of the delectable variety. But beware! This is a tourist hot-spot so all the fruit is marked up considerably and you are better off just taste testing.

By the way, here’s what I wore to the market that day: A simple white button down with a bright red ruffled skirt with brown flats (for comfort). I fit right in!

São Paulo is quite populated and there are many impoverished areas yet it’s easy to find people smiling, especially seen on the portraits of city walls drenched in lively graffiti at every turn. One such place is Beco do Batman, English: Batman’s Alley. Along with street art, which serve as great photo-ops, this area is host to cool art galleries, co-working spaces and amazing fine dining.

Beco Do Batman

Beco Do Batman

It was wedding day in São Paulo and we were ready to witness our friends tie the knot and celebrate Brazil style. Receptions in Brazil go on till 5AM! It seemed like an impossible task but if anyone was up to it, it was we New Yorkers. They served multiple courses throughout the night to keep us fueled and the bar kept flowing. We were such troopers; we partied hard all night and shut the place down. We still got it!

Here’s what I wore to this fabulous event. This sparkly maxi was a big hit and so comfortable to dance in:

…and here’s Mr. Sagir making a cameo.

The wedding was followed by a buddy-moon in Bahia, Brazil. For those who may not know of this new trend, a buddy-moon incorporates your friends on your honeymoon. It’s the official after-party to your wedding! Although, the reception was nothing short of fantastic! Buddy-moons are a fun way to continue the celebrations with friends.

We took a short flight from São Paulo to Bahia, then a bus and finally a boat in the dark underneath the starlit sky to a place called Barra Grande, a beach town on the Marau peninsula. On the way to the boat, we stopped at a local eatery off the highway specializing in empadas. The palm heart flavored empadas were a favorite amongst us and we even stopped to get more on our return trip. Here’s a quick video I took of the quaint eatery while we waited for our food.

Having returned for a month now, I’m missing the warmth. I don’t just mean the weather, but the familiarity of the locals. I understand more about the inviting culture after having been there and miss it so much. I’ll share more about the second half of our trip soon so stay tuned for my next post!

XO,
Puja
Trendy Chick

Chicks Picks: 


Exchange Screen Time for Family Time with Teal Firefly

The other day I went into the kids playroom while they were at school and it dawned on me that the way I spend time with my kids has drastically changed over the last two years.  Two years ago, both started their journey in full day school which meant them spending more time out of the house than in it.  Gone were the days where every waking moment was spent trying to “pass the time” with the kids.  As I rummaged through the jumble of toys, I began to reminisce when the kids were babies. In those days, I remember looking at the clock and wondering how it was only 9 AM when it felt like I had already been up for 12 hours.  The toys and trinkets were my saving grace, and just what the kids needed to keep busy.  While those days were amazing, it didn’t require much more from me other than supervised self-play.

As I filled bags with toys that the kids no longer play with, I couldn’t fight the bittersweet feeling of having both kids gone all day.  On one end I was thrilled to have a little bit more time for myself, but on the other end, I was sad that our time together was reduced to just a few hours before bedtime.  With after school clubs and sports I’m finding that the time I spend with the kids is engrossed in “the grind.” It has become so much more important to make those short windows of time together meaningful in some way.  

Teal Firefly DIY Card Kit
Teal Firefly DIY Card Kit

My daughter, who is seven years old, loves to craft and do projects.  What I learned was that she not only has a genuine interest in doing it, but relishes in the face to face time she gets with just me when working on a project. Juggling time between making meals, picking up, going to activities, doing homework and dropping off….things get busy!  I try not to be hard on myself, but I too crave those moments… alone with each child, one-on-one.  

My husband and I are big travelers and especially love to travel with the kids.  It’s an opportunity to break from the grind and make time to do things together as a family.  We’ve had travel plans scheduled for the Thanksgiving holiday for some time.  Knowing we would have some down time, I wanted to do some fun crafty projects with my daughter, so I poked around the internet for some meaningful projects for us to do together.  

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I stumbled across Teal FireFly, whose DIY crafting kits have everything you need to make creative, embellished cards from start to finish.  And they are not overwhelming or messy.  The kit contained cards/envelopes, direction cards for 4 designs, tags, glue dots, embellishments (rhinestones, glitter confetti) and a glitter glue pen. These kits come in a small box, so are easy pack and do while at the airport.  Like most parents with little ones, we always give ourselves some extra time in case the kids walk at a snail’s pace or Chicago traffic does what it does best….take forever!

While sitting in the lounge I pulled out one of the cupcake card set and my daughter’s eyes lit up! She was excited to have a box of goodies with instructions toward a useful finished product!  I loved the simplified, full color direction cards, as the illustrations made it easy enough for Carina to follow on her own.   We made fun cupcake cards from the Celebration kit that we plan to distribute with gifts during the holiday season.  She, and I, loved the one-on-one and even shared the goodies for some quality father-son time for my husband and son.  It was such a great alternative to screen time as we had a chance to chat and be creative together!  These cards will make a thoughtful touch to holiday gifts that can seem so impersonal sometimes.  I know that family members and friends will appreciate the extra effort!

Founder, Laxmi Shah, breaks it down best, “When you make a card by hand, you pour your heart into it!! I have found that there’s immeasurable pleasure in that for both kids and adults alike.”

So even though one chapter of endless hours in a day are over, I am grateful for companies like Teal Firefly for making products that we can do ourselves while spending quality time together.  Bye Bye supervised self-play….Hello creative togetherness! 

Right now Teal Firefly is offering 10% off the entire store in honor of the shopping season!!  Check them out here: www.tealfirefly.com

Your Chick,

Sonia

Dressing for the Fall is a Hobby!

Fall means brisk mornings and chilly evenings. Colder weather also means layering which means it’s time for just a few of my favorite things: cardigans, jackets, and sweatshirts!  Having grown up in the Midwest, pairing boots with hats and scarves has always been a hobby of sorts.

Layering is not only a cute fashion statement but one with high functionality.  We make sure to layer up our kids when they go outside — but when it comes to ourselves, we fall into patterns and bad habits of reaching for that old over sized cardigan from years ago!  Lucky for all of us the trends this fall have our back, having both comfort, fashion, and practicality in mind.

 

I took me 5 years, but I FINALLY found an army green jacket that I can jive with.  At Rebecca Minkoff right now, there is a lot to love.  My newest purchases for this year includes a camouflage Rebecca Minkoff jacket that is just right. It is warm and gorgeous and the silver studded detail that makes just enough of a statement. If I leave the house in basics like all black (aka the Chicks Uniform), this Minkoff jacket makes it seem like I am having fun with it.  

The LOVE sweatshirt, also by Rebecca Minkoff, is trendy and comfy.  Somewhere along the line I missed the ‘retro’ look trend, but this year I scooped this up.  This sweatshirt is a must for getting that cute #streetstyle look, I paired this look with my three-year-old-and-still-rocking Stuart Weitzman OTK boots.  

Lastly, since denim is ALWAYS trendy, this long denim jacket by Akira is just edgy enough that a mom can still rock it without feeling overly conscious.  If you are in Chicago, you are lucky enough to just be able to walk into this amazing local boutique, but for the rest of us, we can go online, shop this jacket here.

Akira Denim

 You don’t have to stop there either. Belts over outerwear and scarves make layering so much more dynamic and functional, I will attempt a post with a few of those looks next month.  Resist the urge to grab for those old sweaters, and see if you can “UMPH” up your closet. Try starting with some of these outerwear pieces that you can wear over and over again.

Cheers to being cozy!

Rina  

Chick Picks:


Forget Boat Ownership – Why Boat Sharing is Perfect for Me!

I’m a Chicago gal….well mostly.  Though I was born in Missouri, I’ve spent most of my life in the Chicagoland area.  I moved to downtown when I started my undergraduate career at Depaul University in 2001.  It wasn’t long before I realized the beauty of living in this not-so-hidden Midwestern gem of a city!

From quaint storefronts, to cute coffee shops, and culinary excellence;  I knew  what would make this glorious city even more amazing is having or renting a boat.  Lake Michigan sits on the shorelines of, arguably, one of the most beautiful skylines in the US.  After getting married and doing a brief stint in the suburbs, my husband, two children and I decided to move back to Chicago.  Despite awkward questions and wonder of doing what most people don’t, it was one of the best decisions for our family.

One of the things we love the most about this city is all the green spaces, the family friendly events and the accessibility to Lake Michigan and it’s beautiful beaches.  We couldn’t help but question the possibility of boat ownership.  I feel like it rung in our ears every time we thought of it….the comments of the best days of boat ownership are the “day you buy” it and the “day you sell it.”  That’s when we discovered boat shares.

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One thing was certain, we wanted to share our love for the city and Lake Michigan with our children.  We chose to work with Pinnacle Yachts as our first boat share.  Kudos to my husband who took all the coursework to get certified to get “behind the wheel” of the boat.

Personally speaking, some of the pros of boat sharing are:

-Lifelong memories

-Hosting

-Jumping in the Great Lake Michigan

-The Play Pen

-Being directly under the fireworks as they take off from Navy Pier

-Seeing the beauty of our city from the water day or night

-Cruising the Chicago river

-Tying up to a restaurant for some yummies to share on the boat

-Sleeping on the boat after a long day in the sun

-Joining the likes of others with shared interest of the great outdoors

-Having the option to hire a captain should the driver want to enjoy a cocktail or two with friends and family

-No Mortgage

-No Maintenance

Here are some of the cons:

-Opening and closing the boat

-Scrubbing it down

-Not having first pick on popular dates on the boat

Clearly the pros outweigh the cons and though it’s a luxury, it’s a one to look into for Summer 2018 indeed.  The costs for boat sharing vary greatly based on the type of boat, days you would like to spend on the water and amenities you need when you are out there.  If you have any more questions or would like to learn more about my experience, email me at Sonia@chicksandsalsablog.com

See you on the water!  Check out our Boat Party for Savvy Chick Vlog here.

Your Party Chick,

Sonia

 

Windy City Playhouse Ticket Giveaway!

When the chicks were invited by the Windy City Playhouse to see their current play, “King Liz” I thought that it would make a fun date night and invited my husband along.  We were unfamiliar with this newly-founded playhouse and were excited for our evening in the city!

The theater seats 80-100, depending on the play. We were pleasantly surprised by the charming lobby with bar, comfortable seating, and friendly staff.  The contemporary decorating includes faux animal skin rugs, leather couches and a fireplace.  You can bring alcohol into the performance.  The chairs are roomy and comfortable leather lounges (not recliners) that swivel, and there are tables between the seats to place your drinks.  There’s plenty of room, which is really nice.

What I liked most about the theater was its design.  The audience faces each other with the stage in the middle, allowing two sets accessible by the actors merely by crossing the stage.  This was used to great effect during the performance, and kept the action going at a quick and fun pace. This setup also allows you to sit very close to the performers, and with the stage lighting and great acoustics, made this theater experience really visceral.

“King Liz” is a story about Liz Rico (Lanise Shelley), a brassy, highly successful African American basketball agent, who’s worked her way up to partner in the Candy Agency.  She’s a Yale grad from the projects, and was originally Mr. Candy’s (Frank Nall) assistant when he started the agency in his garage.  The story centers around her relationship with Freddie Luna (Eric Gerard), the hot new client she must recruit and help get drafted, to make the big splash needed for the board to name her as Candy’s successor.  Liz is self-centered, doing whatever it takes to make it to the top.  She’s sacrificed love, children, and friendships for her career.  Freddy comes from a troubled inner city background.  He lived in foster homes and has an assault charge that dogs him.  His tough exterior hides a need for guidance and love.  We see how Liz’s career goals conflict with Freddie’s unpreparedness for the world of professional sports, and how ultimately she finds her humanity.  It’s a fast paced play that keeps you engaged and entertained.

The lead actress, Lanise Shelley, who has an impressive resume including extensive Shakespearean training, plays the intense and powerful role of Liz Rico very well.  In fact, all of the actors were excellent.  They were well cast.

I liked the play.  The actors were engaging and their timing was great.  I laughed out loud several times.  It was even fun to recognize actor Phillip Edward Van Lear, who played Coach Jones, from Prison Break!

Try this theatre out!   King Liz runs through July 16th.  If you share this post on Facebook, you will automatically be entered to win a pair of tickets to see King Liz or their upcoming production of Becky Shaw!

 

Also, after some performances you can stay and have a “night cap” with one of the actors.

If you would like to go out for dinner beforehand, I’d highly recommend “Bread and Wine” down the street.  It’s a Michelin-rated restaurant.  My husband and I were thrilled with the food, atmosphere, and friendliness of the staff.  The owners even let us leave our car in the parking lot while we went to the play!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You will really enjoy an evening combining Bread and Wine and the Windy City Playhouse.  Coming in from the suburbs, Irving Park is not as far as going all the way downtown.  Both restaurant and theater are walking distance from each other, and both are just east of I90.  That makes it very easy to drive.  It’s a lot less hassle than going downtown for an evening and, frankly, it was a lot more fun.

Your Savvy Chick,

Johanna Croll