Tuesday, October 25, 2016

How to Wear Ankle Boots (Plus COMFY Options)

Throughout high school and middle school, I was on the pom pon squad.

Why is this important? Because my knees are completely shot. All those years of pounding on a gym floor left me with knees that can't handle the gorgeous high heels that I love for more than a couple of hours. Most athletes seem to develop similar problems later on in life, but hey- I try not to sacrifice style when selecting kicks! I need comfy shoes if I am with my kids and ankle boots are the perfect choice (you won't see me in heels if they are in tow).

My favorite trend this fall, and one I firmly believe will last, is the moto/ankle boot trend. I love pairing these with leggings and a skirt, tights and a dress, skinny jeans, you name it, I can figure out a way to work my motos in. These are my 3 most popular ways:

With a skirt/dress and leggings/tights: Make sure you don't have elephant ankles (saggy, baggy material around your ankles). Yes, your leggings can be cropped above the ankle, but please don't do capri leggings! IMHO, capris should be banned. Yes, I said it.

A skinny cuff on slim jeans: Do a double or single roll only; any more and this looks bulky and sloppy.

A wide cuff on slim jeans: This is more of a hipster look, and you can cuff it fairly high. Just keep the peak of skin to about an inch.

BUT PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY/STYLE DO NOT DO THIS; it looks like your jeans are growing out of your boots, like you are wearing denim tights.

There are a couple of options when selecting shoes that allow you to wear them ALL day long without limping. Since my two preschoolers still like to be carried on occasion (ugh, 70 lbs of child puts a LOT of strain on my poor bod), I need shoes that are up to the task.

Tip: Grab no show socks in the same color as your boots, not nude. Nude rarely blends perfectly with your skin and kills your look when it shows.

First, you can grab any old boots and pop in orthotic inserts. I am SO down with the Dr. Scholl's kiosk that is in my local Walgreens. When I am waiting for my prescription to be filled, I hop on the FootMapping gizmo and figure out what my issues are and what inserts I should buy. (And no, they aren't paying me for this...I just think it is genius). They aren't cheap, but they are tailored to your individual issues and you can get a $10 rebate here. Just make sure you have enough wiggle room in your boots for inserts because they can crowd your tootsies. Bonus: you can use these in multiple pairs of shoes.

Second, if you just want a pair of boots that have built-in support, check out a few options below. Here are the brands that truly focus on comfort and support. No, their boots aren't cheap, but they aren't cheaply made either. They will last for years to come.

Vionic: Their supportive technology was developed by a renowned podiatrist and founder of Orthaheel Technology.
Sofft: Features latex footbead and arch cushion as well as dual density cushioning in their extra foam padding.
Børn: They have been in the business for over 20 years, and their shoes feature an arch cushion, air diffusion layer, and dual density foam cushioning in the foot bed.
Birkenstock: Their classic German footbeds mold to your feet and are made from resilient cork and natural latex.

Here are my top picks for comfortable moto ankle boots! Shop via the Maven board below and see my notes for each bootie. I am wearing the Vionic boots in the photos above, and they are AH-MA-ZING.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, but they do not affect the price you pay.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Easy Halloween Beverage Ideas

Halloween is right around the corner, and there will be a LOT of parties with fabulous beverages this weekend! How do you make a beverage festive without venturing into cheesy territory? And how do you escape the typical glass of vino scenario?

Simple! I love having a signature drink at my parties. For the holidays, rosemary sprigs and sugared cranberries are the perfect touch for a Cranberry Mule. Pumpkin pie martinis are an amazing addition to Thanksgiving dinner. Now Halloween can be a tricky one, but I have a couple of fantastic ideas for both kids and adults!

Smashing Pumpkin

Last year, I had the brilliant (if I do say so myself) idea to tap a pumpkin for our annual Craft Beer Tasting Party.

I recently showed this idea on ChicagonistaLIVE! and it was a hit! Check out my video on how to make this spectacular signature drink dispenser for your party:

Spooky Skeleton Sip

If you want to try something a little spookier, try this incredibly easy concoction! I received a bottle of Jones Pumpkin Pie Soda in my DegustaBox this month, and it was a HIT with my kids. DegustaBox is a monthly subscription box that includes 10-15 food products for $19.99 a month including shipping (click on the link for a $10 discount on your first box). I have found some favorite recipe ingredients, snack foods and yes, beverages after receiving them in my DegustaBox!

My friend Cecilia hosted a Halloween S'more and Sweets party at her house the other weekend, and the kids had a blast. Cecilia created a Halloween Kid Friendly Bar Cart, complete with gummy goodies, a s'more bar and an apple bobbing station! She picked up some Skull Goblets from World Market- they also have great Skull Steins for a more classic look. We added the Jones Soda and topped it with whipped cream! You could also do a Pumpkin Pie Soda Float by adding vanilla ice cream. Pop in these pumpkin straws and you have a Spooky Skeleton Sip!

I hope you have a happy Halloween! Enjoy your celebration, and cheers to all of the spectacular spooky parties this weekend!

Friday, October 21, 2016

What to Expect at a Korean Spa

The other week, I was just about at my wit's end. I needed spa day. The physical toll that raising two very active preschoolers takes is astounding, and I just can't keep up some days. My dream is to get a hotel room for a night all to myself, have an in-room massage, room service, and fall asleep watching chic flicks and romantic comedies. A girl can dream...but since this is real life, I need an alternative that is feasible in the four hour babysitter booking I can manage.

I decided to try out King Spa & Sauna in Niles, about 20 minutes from my home. This Korean-inspired spa is unlike any place I have ever been, a little cultural vacation without leaving my area code! King Spa is based upon "jjimjilbang," which are gender-segregated public bathhouses in Korea.

Photo: 10 Best Media

To get there, my navigation took me through an apartment complex alley bordered by a chain link fence. After dark, this looks a little shady. You drive through back roads thinking you must have the wrong location, until you turn the corner and see the sign. It is seriously stashed behind a Home Depot. Don't worry, you're here! And yes, there might be guys in black uniforms hanging outside. It's all good.

Upon arrival, you pay the entrance fee and receive a numbered bracelet. Then you split up according to gender: gentlemen to the left, gals to the right. Make sure to remove your shoes before you enter the locker room- there is a yellow line with a reminder on the floor. 

Tip: Grab a printable coupon here! Entrance is normally $35 per person ($40 to include base rock room, which I don't), and you can get it for $22. Groupon and other discount sites sometimes have deals for around $17 as well.

Grab a uniform at the next desk and sign up for any spa services you want to partake in. The most popular seems to be the Aroma Gold- a 90 minute scrub and massage for $120.

Tip: With specific services, you also get a free admission coupon valid for a return visit!

After you grab your uniform (pink t-shirt and cotton elastic waistband shorts, one size fits all), you can opt to head into the spa area (women only) or the main area (co-ed). Your locker number corresponds to the number on your bracelet, and there is a key attached so you can stash your stuff.

Spa Area

Ok, if you aren't down with being totally nude, this isn't for you. It took me a while to get over the "naked as the day I was born in front of total strangers" thing, but honestly...no one really looks at each other. And it is all women. So...we all have the same equipment, right? My advice is to just get over it. If you are self-conscious, grab one of the teeny tiny towels and hold it in front of you.

Photo: Yelp
Tip: Tie your hair up, or else the staff will approach you to do so.

When you walk into the spa area, hit the showers. They have soap and shampoo for you to use. There are stand up showers and um...sit down shower booth thingys that you grab a stool to use. After you are squeaky clean, you can hop in one of the hot tubs or sauna room. If you signed up for a scrub, you need to soak for 15 minutes prior and they will call your number when they are ready for you.

Tip: The tip is already included in the massage! No need to add it at the end or bring cash. 

My Aroma Gold treatment was complete with an intense body scrub (like...not sure if I have skin left), aromatherapy head massage, body massage, collagen face mask, hot oil skin treatment, and hair wash/condition. It was crazy...but in a good way. There are a dozen Barbie pink tables lined up, and the women who conduct the treatments wear only black bras and black granny panties. You? You wear nada. These women are a force to be reckoned with. They actually hop up on the table to give a massage. They also periodically throw a massive bucket of warm water on you. Be prepared.

Tip: They provide toothbrushes, hair ties, blow driers, face oil, and towels at a station for you to get ready to face the world again.

Main Area/ Sauna Rooms

The main area, which is co-ed), features a lounge, multiple sauna rooms, a movie theater with leather recliners, an Oxygen room, an Ion room...I can't even list everything. The second floor is basically dedicated to relaxation/naps. A dude was snoring in the Oxygen room or else I would have hung out longer.

Tip: Check out the kiosk in the main lounge as well as the one in the locker room- grab an amazing sheet mask for $4 to use there or take home!

Photo: DealSurf.com
There are separate rooms, such as Charcoal Room, Amethyst Room, Salt Room, Ice Room, and more that each have different healing/purifying capabilities. There are mats and wood head rests in each room, and you lay flat on the ground (no talking!).

Photo: Yelp
Tip: I would bring one of the locker room towels in with me because whew- those mats get a little sweaty. 

The movie theater looked amazing- they were showing a range of films (Gladiator was on when I was there) and the leather lounge chairs were fairly empty. 


Yep, there is a cafe-style restaurant off the main lounge. You order at the counter and use your wristband to pay by passing it over the black pad once on the counter. They have a variety of Korean and American cuisine- from from fried rice to bibimbap to corn dogs, you should be able to find something to try. They also have traditional Korean "sauna style" baked eggs, smoothies, and tea. They don't serve alcohol or allow outside food/beverages to be brought in. If you want water at any time, there are small metal cups that you can grab water from the dispenser near the counter.

Photos: Yelp

What To Bring
  • Credit card
  • Hair tie
  • Reading material
  • Ear plugs to drown out any conversations
  • Music/ear phones 
  • Sports bra for under your uniform, because you will get sweaty
  • An open mind! 
Overall Impression

I took my husband with me the first time around. Not the best idea IMHO- this isn't really a date night kind of place since half of it is single sex only. Also, you can't talk in the sauna rooms or the upstairs, so the only convos you can have are in the main lounge or restaurant. To get the full experience, you need to be comfortable being naked, so this isn't a place where you bring people you don't want seeing you sans clothing. I have had two children at a teaching hospital- lots of people have seen me naked so I'm down with it. I would be cool hanging out with my mom, but I am not planning a preschool Mom's Night Out there, m'kay? I don't want to know if little Sebastian's mom has artful waxing. I can't unsee that. Personally, I like going alone and being able to bring my Kindle, headphones and just be quiet the whole time.

A lot of people ask if it is clean. I say yes. The mats and cushions in the rooms might get a little sweaty, but otherwise it is pristine.

As for the best times to go when it will be least busy, just type "King Spa and Sauna Niles" into Google and check out their "Popular Times" in the column on the right. You can select the day you want to go and scroll to see when historically they aren't as busy.

I say definitely check it out at least once- you might love it! For $22, it is worth a shot.