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Friday, December 19, 2014

ipsy December Glam Bag Review- Treat Yourself!

Ok, so Birchbox was one of the first to market in the beauty subscription box space. I used to think I had a good thing going (and still do, Birchbox sometimes hits a home run), but I like to expand my options. As with products and services, there in an innovator and then follow the imitators. ipsy wasn't first to market, but they have upped the beauty subscription box game in my opinion. Here is a look at what I received in my latest box, same price as Birchbox ($10/month with free shipping):

ipsy Glam Bag- December

Here is a run down of what I received:
Bumble and bumble.- All-Style Blow Dry
All-Style Blow Dry for healthy hair, even fine or oil-prone.

This one-step wonder crème adds oomph, shine and swoosh, fights frizz, prevents heat damage and has oil-absorbing powders to help keep all styles flawlessly fresh. To create your perfect style, work evenly through damp hair then blow-dry with your favorite Bb.Brush. Start small (try a dime-sized amount) then build as necessary. Weight: .5 fl oz

NYX Cosmetics- Butter Lip Balm
Dip your lips in a sheer wash of color with NYX Butter Lip Balm. One swipe leaves dry lips feeling supple and hydrated.

This Buttery Lip Balm is addictively soft and scrumptious and perfect for adding a subtle hint of color for a naturally flirtatious pout. Apply directly to bare lips or apply it over lip liner for more intense color. ipsters who sample NYX Butter Lip Balm will either receive: Red Velvet (pure red), Parfait (fuchsia with blue undertones), Marshmallow (pure nude) or Lady Fingers (mauve).
Weight: 0.14 oz
tarte- deluxe lights, camera, lashes™ 4-in-1 mascara
Like a pushup bra for your lashes, tarte’s best-selling mascara lengthens, curls, volumizes and conditions to deliver a 330% increase in lash volume instantly. The high-performance formula is also infused with naturally-derived olive esters to help nourish and protect lashes. Weight: 3 mL / 0.10 oz.
Nourish Organic- Renewing Eye Cream
Nourish Organic Renewing Eye Cream provides rich hydration to the delicate skin around the eyes. This powerful product will leave your eyes looking brighter, smoother and younger looking.

Key Ingredients:
     • Avocado Oil - Restores and protects skin, while helping retain clarity and brightness.
     • Moroccan Argan Oil - Packed with restorative omega fatty acids to intensely hydrate and replenish.
     • Shea Butter - Deeply moisturizes and softens skin.

Weight: 0.5 fl oz

Crown Brush- Infinity Shadow/Crease Duet Brush
This dual-ended brush offers the best of both worlds. The shadow brush is perfect for applying eye shadow or contouring the eye, while the crease brush is designed to be used dry for defining the eye, or wet for precision concealing. Created with Crown’s Infinity Synthetic Fibers.

Every month, you also receive a different custom cosmetic bag (which I can never find for when I am traveling, so now have a nice supply). I loved all of the products above, and would have paid over $10 for the brush! They also offer a discount on all the featured product brands that month (usually 20-30% off). The point bonuses are pretty sweet as well- I just redeemed points for two benefit samples-

Thoughts on ipsy? Do you have a subscription? Want one? They don't do gift subscriptions currently, so I say buy one for yourself, you've been good ;) Here is my referral link, and yes, I do get some "ipsy points" if friends subscribe which means I get to purchase more stuff to review for you!

Happy holidays!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Holiday Lunch: e+o Review

I miss the city. My husband says he doesn't, but I miss the energy of downtown Chicago on a Saturday evening. You can feel it in the air- Chicago's energy is palpable as tourists delight in the decor of the Mag Mile and decked out diners feast on gourmet dinners at some of the nation's best restaurants.

I do love living in the suburbs, but the traffic on 94 can make it extremely difficult to zip downtown for a date. We usually end up fighting traffic, which makes us frustrated and on edge, rendering our relaxing night out a little less relaxing. Luckily, there are some fabulous restaurants in the suburbs, and the newly opened e+o (standing for Earth + Ocean) is at the top of my list.

e+o in Arlington Heights

My husband and I joined e+o for Dim Sum Sunday, a unique spin on the highly popular Sunday brunch tradition that Chicagoans love. You won't find any Eggs Benedict or greasy skillet concoctions here, though- Dim Sum Sunday offers a menu of delectable assortment of intricately prepared bites such as Congee with Braised Duck, Braised Beef and Bone Marrow, and Buddha Chicken Wings.

e+o Dim Sum Sunday: Congee with Braised Duck
e+o Dim Sum Sunday: Braised Beef and Bone Marrow
e+o Dim Sum Sunday: Buddha Chicken Wings

And the dessert? Quite possibly my favorite part of the meal- I could quite honestly their Carrot-Pineapple Cake every day. It has a delicious crust from the cast iron skillet it is presented in, and the dollop of cream cheese frosting is heaven. (Bart, can you order this for my birthday cake please?!?)

e+o Dessert: Carrot-Pineapple Cake

I loved the fact that they offer a Mimosa bar with freshly squeezed juices such as Strawberry, Mango and Orange as well as a Bloody Mary bar with all the (gourmet, naturally!) fixings.

e+o Mimosa Bar

Let's talk about the decor for a minute. When you think of a suburban restaurant, do you get the sneaking suspicion that it will feature out of date carpet, a shabby, well-worn bar and screaming kids clambering to watch their favorite YouTube videos on mom's iPhone? Nope, not even close.  The space features expansive, plush booths decorated in cool colors with sleek hanging silver bean sculptures above.

e+o Restaurant in Arlington Heights
Dim Sum Sunday at e+o

The bar is about as modern as you could imagine, with ample room to enjoy the White Geisha Martini, which is a contender for the Daily Herald's Best Martini in the 'Burbs Challenge. President Aeron Lancero is the mixologist on this- Absolute vodka with vanilla/lemongrass syrup, fresh white peach and lemon juice, finished with a light froth. It's creamy consistency was a delicious contrast to the fresh flavor of the peach and lemon, topped with a fresh flower garnish. The scent, sight, and texture of this martini all added a special something to this delightful drink.

White Geisha at e+o

Mr. Lancero is truly passionate about serving high quality food that often has an nontraditional yet incredibly delicious twist. The details of his dishes and cocktails are a credit to the passion he has for a culinary experience vs. just a meal. He is a partner in two downtown restaurants as well, Yum Cha Dim Sum Parlor and Reverie restaurant and lounge, so he knows what it takes to compete with downtown locales.

President Aeron Lancero and I at e+o

Here's my best idea yet for the holidays- book a table for lunch with your husband, best friend, mom...someone special in your life that you don't get to spend nearly as much time with. Dress up to the nines, order cocktails, and forget about the stress that the season can bring. Cozy up in a booth and forget about the outside world for a bit, and just be thankful for the person you are with.

Of course, I can't review a restaurant without telling you what I wore! Since I have two little ones, I wore the color that is banned from my wardrobe: white. Winter white, by the way, is different from summer white: it is usually a cream, ivory or pearl as opposed to crisp linen white. I paired this jeweled sweater from LOFT with cream wool pants from Ann Taylor ($5 at Goodwill!) and cream crocodile ankle strap pumps from Sam & Libby. Earrings are from Forever 21, a perfect compliment to the jewels on the sweater.

What I Wore: Winter White and Jewels!
Earrings and Purse: Forever 21
Cream Croc Print Shoes: Sam & Libby

Book a table at e+o, I promise you won't be disappointed! They also have great Social Hour specials- Monday-Friday from 5pm-7pm with half-priced menu items and $20 carafe cocktail creations for four. e+o is located in the New Randhurst Mall near the AMC Theater, and offers complimentary valet. For events and specials, make sure to like their Facebook page here!

Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary lunch for review purposes. All opinions are honest and my own.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Visting Santa: Awesome Experience at Abt!

When I had my first child, I knew visiting Santa was high on our list. What I didn't realize is what a racket it had become- $47 for a "photo package," and I wasn't even allowed to snap a few of my own photos on my phone.

I don't even remember my mom paying for photos when I was little- we brought our own camera, went to sit on Santa's lap, told him all about the Jem and the Holograms, Get in Shape Girl Ribbon Dancer Kit, and Sweet Secrets that I wanted, and that was it. No massive quantities of money (large enough to support a starving third world child for a year) changed hands.

Me (left) and my sister Amy- I was about Charlotte's age!
I was incredibly disappointed, and the magic of Christmas lost a little bit of luster. I decided not to pay the exorbitant fee and tried to find somewhere more reasonable.

Last year, I was fortunate enough to stumble across a wonderful location while our family was shopping for home theater equipment at Abt. I took a walk around with our then two year old while my husband talked subwoofers and amps with the salesman. I wanted to show him the fountain they have in the main lobby area, but instead stumbled across Santa! Luckily, Bryson was down to hop on his lap and smile for the camera. A little bit of that Christmas magic snuck back into our lives, and I was incredibly thankful to Abt for providing this opportunity for my family.

This year, we grabbed lunch at BurgerFi (which, if you haven't been, it is just around the corner from Abt and the food is amazing, check out my review here) and made our way to Abt. I was even more impressed- they had a Frozen theme throughout the entire lobby! You could make a snowman, a princess crown, get your hair braided Elsa-style, and even send letters to soldiers overseas.

Frozen-themed fun at Abt in Glenview
Making crowns at Abt for the holidays- Frozen theme fun!

I quickly tossed my 11 month old to Santa hoping to catch her by surprise and delay the inevitable "strange man cry" for a minute- worked like a charm.

My 3 year old decided to hide behind my husband's legs, refusing to sit on Santa's lap. Santa looked at the despair on my face as I tried every trick in the book, and said, "Don't worry, I will be here all afternoon. Take your time." So my husband took a walk and talked to Bryson, and we eventually came back. I think Santa was about to take a break, but saw Bryson approaching with trepidation and gave him a fist bump and sat back down. He spoke to Bryson on his level and didn't rush, and even beckoned the rest of the family in for a photo. They then print the photos out for your for FREE and put them in a paper frame.

Family photo with Santa at Abt in Glenview!

Oh, and I did I mention Olaf was there?!

Olaf visits Abt fo the holidays!

I just wanted to say thank you to this Santa and Abt for giving these memories to my family!

To confirm hours for Santa, give them a call: 847.967.8830. They usually list them on their Facebook page here: Happy Holidays!