Friday, April 29, 2016

Mother's Day: #NailedIt

Here's the thing about Mother's Day. You want to be reminded of what an amazing, kick-ass, strong mom you are...yet you want time to yourself and recover from the ass kicking that said mothering necessitates and delivers. You need the best of both worlds.


Here is my fool-proof Mother's Day gift. It requires just a little planning, a little childcare on your part (dads!). Here is what this gift will include, the top things on all moms lists:

Sleep

If you ask most moms what they want, sleep would be at the top of their list. And not just a 20 minute cat nap they caught while zoning out to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Like, a real 8-10 hour unconscious-fest, without being kicked, prodded, or even stared at in a creepy way.

King Room- Loews Chicago O'Hare
Space

One thing I crave is space. This might sound odd, but with a 2 and 4 year old, I feel incredibly claustrophobic at times. Someone is always crawling on me, hanging on my arm, jumping on my back or even snuggling up to me (this I love, no complaints here). I just want to be able to have a little space and not be bashed in the face.

Lobby at Loews Chicago O'Hare
Shower 

One of the luxuries that I miss is the uninterrupted shower. I usually have my head poked out the shower door, trying to stop Charlotte from squirting the .2 oz sample of Chanel face lotion out that I was saving for a special occasion. I have cried from less. I want to shave my legs in peace, I want to belt out some Bieber, and I want to take my time toweling off, not race like a madwoman naked down the hall because I heard a big crash.

Bathroom at Loews Chicago O'Hare
Shopping

I do make this a priority in my life. I have brought a full picnic and set up camp in the fitting room for Charlotte many times. Is this fun for me? No. It just gets the job done when I need clothes. I adore shopping, but it becomes a panic attack-inducing event when you worry that your child will wipe snot all over the $500 suede trench you are lusting after.

Regram from @bethrosen after our Loews weekend and Fashion Outlets shopping tour
 Snacks & Sips

My blog is entitled all dressed up with nothing to drink... not because I don't drink, but because I have had to cut waaaaay back on the amount and frequency I consume cocktails because of my responsibility as a mom. That job comes first, but my desire to go out and get pleasantly plastered once in a while hasn't disappeared. Also, I would love to eat food that is warm, that is served to me, and that I don't have to clean up after. Amen.

Ok, if you are tired of listening to my list of lovely things that I WISH I could have...here is the solution.

Book mom a hotel room. The Loews Chicago O'Hare is the perfect place- it is off the beaten path of the downtown craziness, it is reasonably priced, and it is RIGHT NEXT to the Fashion Outlets of Chicago. Plus, they have great packages if you want to make it a girl's weekend for her!

Loews O'Hare just came out with a A Girlfriend's Guide to Getting Away, which includes:
  • Fashion Outlets of Chicago tote bag, Green Savings card and $50 Gift Card
  • In-room bubbly
  • Brunch for at the Ashburn, their in-hotel amazing restaurant, including mimosas 
  • I just checked and for May 7th, this package starts at $199/night (rates may vary, check website or call hotel for current rates)

Stock her room with something special. Check with the hotel you book to have bubbly on ice and desserts waiting for her upon arrival. Loews has a bunch of packages that include items like champagne, gift cards, brunch and more. Call the hotel concierge to see what you can do to make her stay super special.


Give her some money to have fun. Let her buy what she wants. Give her a gift card to the Fashion Outlets and let her loose. If she is staying with friends, make a reservation at one of the fabulous restaurants in the Rosemont Entertainment District (I recommend Sugar Factory) and include a gift card. Seriously, get all the husbands in on this and send the wives on a trip they won't forget. We did a girl's boozy brunch at Sugar Factory (see my review here) and shopping spree last year at the Outlets and it was the best Mother's Day EVER.


She can walk home from dinner & drinks back to the hotel, sleep in, have mimosas at brunch, then hit the stores.

And my NUMBER ONE RULE....

Don't put mom in a hole. What does this mean exactly? If you send mom on a lovely mini-vacation, ACT like mom while she is gone. Do whatever she usually does in her absence- Do the laundry. Put away the dishes. Cook. Mow the lawn. Go grocery shopping. Fix that pesky screen door that is off the track. Make sure that when she comes back, she can pick up where she would have left off.

Enjoy, and gals...feel free to share this post with those that love you. Let them know you will come back refreshed, ready to "mom" again, and pretty damn happy!

Disclosure: I was treated to an amazing Media Tour of Loews Hotel and the Rosemont Entertainment District this past winter. All opinions are honest and my own, as always!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

BBQ Hawaiian Pizza Recipe featuring Gilbert's Craft Sausages

On average, my family eats pizza at least once a week. Ok, I should probably say twice but I will pretend for a minute that it is a "treat" and we don't make it a "regular thing." So not true.


I whipped up this Hawaiian Pizza using Gilbert's Aloha Chicken Sausage, which is packed with ginger, pineapple and brown sugar.

*Side note, here are a few things that I love about Gilbert's Sausages:
  • Based on the same ideals that craft brewers use- small batches, unique flavors
  • I can pronounce and recognize all of the ingredients
  • Each sausage is individually wrapped so I can cook just one and the rest stay fresh
  • No nitrates or nitrites, which is what all the Internet articles claim are going to destroy our children
  • They are local...and the founders are the sausage kings of Chicago!
Here are the ingredients for this delish take on Hawaiian Pizza. The BBQ sauce I used was the winner of Peapod's Next Best Product on Windy City LIVE. It is Old Arthur Barbecue Sauce, a recipe that has been handed down from Arthur Watts who was born a slave in 1837. His job was to tend to the cooking fires on the farm that he served, and he took the skills he acquired with him when he was emancipated. Yes, it is delicious and you can order it on Peapod!


Ingredients:
  • Pizza dough or prepared crust (tip- when using refrigerated dough, let it rest and come to room temperature before stretching to fit the pan)
  • BBQ sauce (Old Arthur is fabulous, not too spicy, not too sweet)
  • Shredded cheese (I used Cheddar Jack)
  • Crushed pineapple
  • Gilbert's Aloha Chicken Sausage, sliced into thick coins
Prepare dough on a pizza stone or pan. Spread BBQ sauce in a thin layer over the dough, sprinkle on cheese and toppings. Bake the dough according to directions. Although, I did read on a few sites that you need to bake your dough at a super high temp (like, over 500 degrees F)  in order to get a great crispy crust.


This is a pretty particular flavor of pizza- spicy and sweet. My kids did like it, but if your kiddos don't love BBQ sauce swap out for marinara or even alfredo. Gilbert's has more pizza recipes on their site, and other fabulous food recipes as well that include all the varieties of their craft sausages.


Enjoy!


Thank you to Gilbert's Craft Sausages for providing samples. I loved their product when I randomly picked them up at Jewel a few months ago, and am excited to work with them now!

Monday, April 25, 2016

#DateNight at FEW Spirits

I am always amazed at what small, local businesses can do. When I heard about FEW Spirits in Evanston, I was intrigued by the story behind the brand and how history was changed by one person. I decided to plan a Date Night which included a tour, sampling and history lesson at this epic locale.


 The city of Evanston was a try town for almost a century due to the Temperance Movement. Paul Hletko, Master Distiller at FEW, lobbied to change an age-old ban on grain distillation in Evanston in order to found his business. In 2011, history was made and FEW Spirits opened their doors as one of the premier micro-distillers located in the birthplace of Prohibition.


There is even more history entrenched in all that FEW produces. Their labels include sketches of iconic features from the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.


 And what does FEW stand for? Some assume it claimed the initials of Frances E. Willard, who was an instrumental figure in the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment which created Prohibition. Not so. FEW stands for the fact that this small yet mighty company only employs a few, only makes a few, and well...it can't hurt if you just drink a few!


Their current offerings include:
Bourbon Whiskey
Barrel Gin
Rye Whiskey
American Gin
Breakfast Gin
Malort- Anguish & Regret


Want to partake in a FEW tour? For just $10, you can get a history lesson, an education on spirits and distillation, and a generous sample of the entire FEW line of spirits.


Tours take place on Thursdays (6pm) and Saturdays (2pm, 3:30pm, 5pm), and you can also book a private tour if you want the joint to yourself. Katherine was a fabulous guide, toning down the technical aspect of distillation and making the information accessible to those of us who aren't educated in all things whiskey, rye, bourbon or gin-related.


As a pleasant surprise, Paul Hletko was there and took time to pose for a selfie with us (because I couldn't resist asking).


And of course, I had to include a little fashion in this post, right? Although my husband asked me if I was channeling Usher, I decided to wear my new sneakers. Since this was a decidedly low-key date night, I paired these gold beauties with leather pants and a suede mini dress with brass button details.


Always on the lookout for something new to do, the distillery tour was a unique twist on date night for my husband and I. We decided to make it a double date with two of our best friends and head around the corner to La Principal for some Mexican street food post spirit sampling. It was divine, you must try the Green Pozole!


Thank you to FEW Spirits for having us, such a welcome and wonderful addition to the booming Evanston scene!

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