Friday, February 17, 2017

#DateNight Food & Fashion: Siri Indian Restaurant

In the suburbs, there are many fantastic restaurants for #DateNight that are often overlooked because they aren't located in Chicago proper. I have found a few absolute gems, tucked into strip malls, hidden amongst chain restaurants, nestled into shopping centers, all just waiting to be discovered by foodies and descended upon en masse. 

I haven't had true Indian food since my days spent working on Michigan Avenue where we would scurry out of the office for a buffet lunch, only to scurry back stuffed and ready for a nap under our desks. A new authentic Indian restaurant has graced my current suburban stomping grounds- Siri Indian Restaurant in Wheeling, just 20 minutes from my home.

The outside of Siri is quite impressive, brilliantly lit; it reminds me of a lush spa resort in a faraway land. The interior is spacious and welcoming with original artwork gracing the walls, elegant chandeliers descending from the ceiling and crisp white tablecloths set with sparkling glassware. 

We started out with Vegetable Samosas, mini turnovers filled with peas and seasoned potatoes, fried to a golden brown. To drink, I had a Taj Mahal- mostly because I love the drawing on the label, but also because it is actually brewed in India. 

Their extensive menu contains 180 items, originating from both Northern and Southern parts of India. Four chefs are on staff at all times, each with particular specialties that they prepare from their own parts of India. 

For our main course, I ordered Chicken Tikka Masala- char-grilled chicken simmered with onions and bell peppers in a tomato cashew sauce. It was creamy, with a hint of spice and absolutely delicious. It was served with naan and fluffy white rice; we ordered the garlic cheese naan and also sampled the bullet naan which was topped with crushed chili. My date, one of my best friends and an Indian food enthusiast, had the Lamb Curry which was excellent as well. Their menu includes many vegetarian items, which makes Siri a perfect pick if you have a meat-averse person in your group.

Siri also has a lavish lunch buffet during the week in addition to catering options and private parties. 

Now, let's talk fashion!

I recently popped into my friend Borris Powell's studio for breakfast (donuts & bubbly), gossip, and of course to check out his FAshion lineup. Although his couture is to die for, his RTW is just as stunning and effortlessly versatile. He gave me a sneak peek at the new collection "The Darkness of Ash" that debuts on March 25th and I am saving my dollars for a piece of that action! 

I selected this stunning maxi gown with fabric from India to purchase, which of course I had to wear to Siri. This dress is everything- it can go from pool loungewear to red carpet stunner with some simple footwear and accessories. Stay tuned until next week to see the full length, and how I transition this dress from winter to spring to summer!

Thank you to Siri Indian Restaurant for having me!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Snow Cone Happy Hour

I absolutely adore snow cones. So much so that I made sure to have them for my son's first birthday party...and topped with margaritas of course (for the adults).

From my first Snoopy Snow Cone Machine when I was five to the vintage-looking one I purchased for impromptu summer parties, they are a unique twist to dessert or cocktail time. My biggest issue, though, has always been finding syrups that TASTE good and aren't filled with Red #40 and Yellow #5.

I recently hosted a segment on WCIU that focused on the One of a Kind Show, an event that offers the ultimate handcrafted shopping experience with over 600 vendors at their Holiday edition in Chicago. One of the items I presented was Jo Snow Syrups, a line of natural syrups and flavorings for snow cones, coffee, cocktails, sparkling water and more. I finally found my snow cone topping without exposing my guests to ingredients that miiiight glow in the dark.

Melissa Yen, the founder, invited me to her kitchen where she tests, creates and bottles her all-natural syrups and concoctions. We had a little Wednesday morning happy hour while creating some delicious drinks. Talk about a way to start the day! In addition to the syrups, she also creates flavor drops- no sugar, no calories, just pure flavor. I add it to my LaCroix and create new flavors. My fave is Strawberry Basil, but she also carries Mango Ginger, Pineapple Hop, Root Beer and Guava Coconut. This is a fantastic swap for calorie-heavy sodas.

Check out the concoctions we came up with for creating your own Snow Cone Happy Hour:

Rum Thai Coffee

Papa's Pilar Dark Rum + squeeze fresh lime + Jo Snow Thai Coffee Syrup (Ginger, coriander and cardamom with red pepper, almond extract and natural coconut)

Strawberry Basil Bubbly (not a snow cone, but hey...I would pour it over ice in a hot second!)

La Marca Prosecco + squeeze fresh orange juice + Strawberry Basil Flavor Drops (mint and orange garnish)

Cranberry Ginger Snow Cone Martini 

Deep Eddy Cranberry Vodka, Ginger Syrup, squeeze of fresh orange juice

Melissa also provides SNOW CONE CATERING (I mean...does that sound like the best party idea ever?). This fabulous set-up can be either for kids or adults (you provide the booze), and she comes ready to mix up the fun. Also- she can create mini syrup bottles for guests to take home featuring the custom cocktail flavor that she helps you create. Party Favor with flavor.

The cocktail combinations are endless! Here are all of the flavors Melissa currently stocks:
Kugel in a Cup
Christmas in a Cup
Blueberry Jasmine
Classic Coffee flavors- Vanilla, Caramel, Hazelnut, Almond
Sass! Rootbeer
Cardamom Rose Water
Pumpkin Coconut
Fig Vanilla Black Pepper- my personal favorite
Ginger Ginger
Grapefruit Rosemary
Tangerine Lavender Honey
Thai Coffee
Strawberry Mint Balsamic

Thank you Melissa for having me! I can't wait to try them all!


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Banish Bedhead and Create Beautiful Braids with SoCozy

Oh hey there, bedhead!

I have a little gal who isn't as into styling her hair as I am. Ok, this is a major understatement. I actually chopped her hair into a chic bob because she refused to let me actually touch it.

Anyone else have a hairstyle-averse tot like mine? Who screams like you just threw her Bitty Baby in the trash when you try to brush their hair? Cue: blood-curdling screams, writhing on the floor and sonic boom-volume declarations of abuse. Yep, she's all mine folks.

Well, the issue with this is that she wants to have her hair braided "just like Elsa" every darn day. Ok kid, let me get this straight- you don't want me to brush your hair but you want me to magically transform you into a Disney princess? SURE! Let me bibbidi bobbidi boo you with my T3 magic wand and sprinkle some Melanie Mills Gleam Radiant Dust all over your little noggin.

I test out a lot of kids products in my line of work, and when I settle on one and spend my own hard earned cash to continue using it, you know it has my stamp of approval. I have been using SoCozy products since I tested them out almost a year ago and am amazed at what they do to my gal's 'do.

First of all, I went on the hunt for a 3-in-1 bath product that wouldn't make my child break out in lizard-like scales (yes, they have sensitive skin, it has happened before and they thought it was kinda cool...until they realized how itchy that is). I honestly didn't want to buy separate soap, shampoo and conditioner because I am lazy. There. I said it. Oh, and I didn't want to have to explain to my husband "The blue bottle is for soap, but don't put it in her hair! And make sure to follow with the pink bottle, but don't use that on her bottom." No nagging.

The SoCozy 3-in-1 Cinch is my clean kid unicorn. No nasty ingredients, it smells divine (and what is better in life than smelling your kid's hair?), and it works.

And now we move on to the de-tangling portion of our adventure. Little Miss Charlotte is not a fan of brushes, but she loves spraying de-tangler on her hair. The Cinch Detangler is also a Leave-In Conditioner and I notice a huge difference in her hair both from a tangle-free perspective and a softness one. I also use the de-tangler when she wakes up in the morning because this girl tosses, turns, and transforms her head into a rat's nest by the AM.

Oh the braids. I used to be on the pom pon squad from 6th grade up until my senior year of high school and we had to wear double french braids during performances. We all learned to braid each others hair on the squad, and I am proud to say it is like riding a bicycle. Except for the fact I am trying to braid a mini me who turns her head every 2 seconds. Yup, I end up with fly-aways every time. I used to use hairspray on it but hated the crunchy texture. I dabbed a little Styling Cream on and she looked like Queen Elsa.

I also use the Styling Cream on her brother who has an adorable cowlick. Seriously, people would pay big bucks for his natural style, and we jazz it up a little with the Cream.

I can't say enough good things about SoCozy- I am thrilled to find a product line that works for my kiddos, smells great, is affordable, and is safe! You can find them online and at some Bed, Bath and Beyond stores and CVS. Check out the store finder here! Oh! And need a little vacation? SoCozy is giving away a $10k family vacation- find details and enter here.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by SoCozy, but all opinions are honest and my own as always!