Gabrielle Union Helps to Tame Frizzies with Flawless

Everyone that has curly hair wants straight and vice versa. One of the biggest problems of the summer is frizzy hair. Take it from someone who had to put a ton of hair spray when she had her senior picture taken. But I was given a gift . I was sent a package of goodies from Gabrielle Union . They call the line Flawless and that is just it has done made my hair flawless when it was straightened. It has made it silky and soft.  The shampoo and conditioner have a golden color and a great smell. Flawless also works on color treated hair and doesn’t fade it. It not only takes care of the frizzies and heals damaged hair, it also strengthens hair.  It is also cruelty free .

I highly recommend the products. Through the years with wind, and chemicals , and harsh lights, I have had my hair damaged a lot. These products, including the hair repair masque have started to repair some of the damage. Thanks to Gabrielle Union, my hair is back on the road to recovery.

You can find Gabrielle Union’s products at Ulta and online


 

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Fall is a Delicious Season at Smallcakes …..

 Autumn is a feast of the senses. Everything from the colorful leaves to the smells of hot cider and pumpkin latte says that fall is here. Along with those smells, come the special foods of fall . Apples are made into pies and crisps. Pumpkins are carved into scary creatures and now made into everything from cereal to pizza. But with those fall flavors come great treats. Hey! You can indulge because Christmas is around the corner and bathing suit season is a memory.

One of the best places to indulge that sweet tooth is Smallcakes Cupcakery. They have a few locations , we chose to revisit the one on Greenview in Lakeview. It is a popular place for kids and also for families. We were happy to see that they still had the pupcakes and also that they remembered us. What was really cool was that they had our order prepared for us when we arrived. Now to enjoying the tastes of fall.

Jen is mad about the Pumpkin cupcake and its brown sugar cream cheese frosting. It reminded me of pumpkin bread that my mother used to make. It had that special pumpkin taste and it didn’t have too much spice in it. My favorite was the Mississippi Mud one. I am such a choco –holic and this one was perfect for me. The frosting was chock full of pecans, vanilla bean butter cream, and marshmallow. The cake was a luscious chocolate graham cake. Since I come from Ohio, I always associate apples with fall and was also excited with the special Apple Orchard Cupcake. It captured everything that I remember about those Ohio falls growing up.  The cider cake mixed well with the cream cheese and caramel that was on the top. The perfect touch was the apple perched on top as a garnish. We came in for our favorite tastes of fall and were not disappointed. There was even a cupcake that was called Everything Fall and it combined all the best tastes of Autumn.

So if you have a special occasion or a theme party , Smallcakes A Cupcakery and Creamery is the place for that one of a kind cake. Don’t forget, they also have ice cream and their trademark cupcake smashes. They are located at 3054 N Greenview Avenue. 

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 A Little Taste of the Big Apple- Joe’s Tea and Chips 


   

Recently, I visited New York City . While I was there, I got the chance to try some exceptional tea. As you well know, tea is my Kryptonite. Jen has her soda and I have my teas. I only tried one but the great folks at Joe’s Tea sent me a nice little goodie package.  I got to tell you, most of the time I have to have my Snapple, but after tasting Joe’s , well there might be a little bit of competition.

Not as known as Arizona or Snapple, Joe’s comes from Elizabeth , New Jersey.  Twenty years ago, the company decided to sell iced tea out of the back of a Dodge Intrepid. True to its roots, the company has a picture of that truck on each bottle.  Company rep Sally Russell added that their product tends to appeal  to stores seeking products that help differentiate their business. The company sells about twenty beverages. Of course, I could only have a small sample of the teas and lemonades. The drinks have a more pronounced flavor than Snapple.  Joe’s also elevates itself as a special beverage , considerably has a more sophisticated following than the lesser Arizona. The lemonade has that tangy natural lemonade flavor. The peach tea has that sun tea flavor with the richest peach flavor I have tasted. But by far, the one I enjoyed was the half tea and half lemonade. I love what one company calls the “Arnold Palmer”, but Joes has taken the concept to another level. The tea and lemonade are equals and not one flavor outweighs the other.  Joe’s only uses natural ingredients  and cane sugar. That is what makes it special than other drinks.

I also got a chance to try the other product of the company. Encouraged by the sales of their teas, Joe’s Chips was born.  Their taste has that homemade kettle flavor which makes the chips heartier than the usual thin chips that are fried. The chips are full bodied and definitely filling. They are perfect with a sandwich or just by themselves. The sweet potato chips had a pumpkin taste and I couldn’t stop talking about the sweet onion flavor in the sour cream and onion chips. The chips come in the 2 oz and 5 oz sizes and the beverages come in an old fashioned glass bottle.

http://www.joetea.com

http://www.joechips.com

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Bon Jour New York! Sezane Comes to America

It was the perfect time for the French clothing company to come to America. Sezane landed on America’s shores during one of NY’s biggest celebrations of the year, NYFW. Fashionistas made their way to the chic Elizabeth Street location to browse the store and pick up a goodie or two. Sezane has wanted their clothing and merchandise to become an online business and this store was a big part of that. Founder Morgane Sezalory said that the store’s fall collection was  the magic of Paris and the energy of New York.  I think the store captures that spirit. I was not familiar with the brand, but was anxious to see what a real New York fashion boutique looked like. I have to admit that the stores I visited had that NY vibe that Chicago just doesn’t have.

Other  fashionistas stood in line for an opportunity to shop and browse the French boutique. On a particularly warm September  afternoon,  clerks from the store came outside and gave the crowd bottles of Evian water to keep them hydrated. Finally I got the opportunity to walk inside. The clothes were hung on cloth hangers and not bunched together. It was obviously quality merchandise. My only concern is that the beautiful clothes would not fit the large frame of an American woman. It was something to shoot for in the future. I was excited to see some of the little knick knacks on display. One that caught my eye was the adorable little cocktail kits. I was sent one of the same from OPI in one of my little surprise boxes.

 Shoppers enjoyed French pastries and one of the friendly clerks escorted me through the store. This is definitely a collection that I will be watching for as more clothes come out in their Winter Collection due in November.

After taking a few more pictures, the manager gifted me with two souvenirs . She gave me one of the special crème and gold striped Sezane bags. The bag is huge and is perfect for shopping or travel. She also gave me one of the very special bags that were created for the American launch. The large bag proved to be very useful during my stay in NYC. Sezane is located at 254 Elizabeth Street in Manhattan.

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Chicago Gourmet Finds the Right Recipe For a Fun Weekend

This weekend was the annual  Chicago Gourmet. Epicureans and foodies alike converged on Millennium Park to eat and drink food from the finest chefs in town . It was a celebration of everything food and drink. Record breaking temperatures didn’t allow attendees to not enjoy themselves.  Volunteers were more than happy to supply ice cold water to the masses.  

With so much food and drink to enjoy, I started my journey with the friendly gals of Isabelli Media Relations.  Each attendee got a keepsake glass which commemorated the tenth anniversary of Chicago Gourmet.  They also received a sponsor bag from Mariannos with some of the other sponsors products that were featured at the Gourmet. So handy for grocery shopping here in Chicago.

Bon Appetit was where I began my food excursion. They usually have such a nice demo area and presentation. This year , diners could enjoy cool beverages , and fix falafels and garnish Cracker Barrel macaroni and cheese. With décor, courtesy of the Venezian of Las Vegas, diners could sit and plan their day. My particular favorite drink was here. Bark Thins had some non alcoholic drinks to serve with their chocolate treats. I fell in love with the Hibiscus Orange and Vanilla Fresca. It reminded me of something that you would get at Argo. I doctored up my macaroni and cheese with shrimp and carmelized onions. Talk about comfort food. I also got a pack of the three cheese Cracker Barrel to take home. They also loaded us up with plenty of Bark Thins as well.

With the ninety degree temperatures, patrons went in search of beverages. There was certainly enough of those around. Ice cold beer, wine, cocktails, and the people at Bai were excited to hydrate the foodies as they stood in lines for food. Grey Goose had a simple cocktail with soda, but with the ice, it cooled off for the long waits. Campari added their contribution with a fruity concoction. The most refreshing drink that I had was made with ginger beer, soda, and a Japanese whisky called Toki. Another one of the exhibitors added to the fun with a frozen rainbow pop up with jello shots in it.

There was quite a lot of to taste and they came from all over. They came from the Burbs, they came from the finest chefs , everywhere from River North to Old Town.  Foreign cuisines were also represented. Japan showed off its culture with sushi from Slurping Turtle and an opportunity to win a trip to Toyko courtesy of Japan Airlines. Their fans proved to be one of the most popular gifts of the afternoon. Italy shined with their excellent wines , pastries, and awesome meatballs. It was so hard to pick just one. I did get a chance to try Hats Off, who the owner described as “the new kids in town.” American classics were represented as well. I had to try my beloved seafood and the chefs who created such masterpieces.  They took such simple fare as salmon with a butternut squash couche and made it into one of the tastiest dishes I ate and it was well worth the wait.

Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ was one of the most popular tents. Patrons could swill beer or whiskey and then munch on BBQ. Heinz let people try their different sauces on pieces of pork.  That wasn’t all, several restaurants brought it on with their BBQ fare. As an Ohio gal, I love my BBQ and my meat. It was no contest for I would pick for favorite. From close by Westmont,  Uncle Bub’s wooed me with their Baby Back Ribs  and Corn Pudding. Needless to say, I will be making the trek for more of this tasty meat and fixins. River North staple, Texas de Brazil wins second prize with me with their steak and couscous salad.  Don’t forget dessert because Chicagoland favorite, Stan’s Doughnuts were represented with some of their  specialties. Sponsors Loacker, Cookie Thins , and several restaurants also tempted with their treats.

You can’t talk Chicago without talking about our World Champion Cubs. The “Friendly Confines” was featured with Cubs cocktails. These are some of the cocktails that fans sip when they are rooting on “our team” .


I have to admit that one of the saving graces for the day was the Media Lounge that was sponsored by the wonderful folks at Choose Chicago. With cooling fans and charging stations, it was the perfect place for journalists and bloggers to rest and network.  Press could rest , make entries on social media, and make friends and new connections.  Overall, it was a day that rated four stars and I can’t wait to come back next year. In the meantime, it’s time to hit the gym.

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Definitely Healthy and Definitely Delicious –Roti Modern Mediterranean Opens on Jackson Street

In a sea of fast food joints and pizza parlors, Chicago has gotten the reputation for unhealthy eating. It is not a sin to grab a burger, but lately people are watching what they eat more and more. We are becoming a city of health conscious eaters and exercisers. We see this trend with the opening of more eating places that emphasize organic meats and products from local farms. Roti is one of those places and we got the privilege to try the food at the newest restaurant located right in the Loop.

Jen ordered a yummy salad with some of their antibiotic chicken and some of the sauces that Roti Modern Mediterranean is known for. The menu is filled with variety and there is something for everyone. Even Gluten free diners can enjoy the fare here.  The sauces range from the traditional dill yogurt and cucumber to the spicy green sh’ug for those like it a little more spicy. I decided to have one of the pitas and then stuff it with goodies. The pita was fresh and soft and warm from the oven. My steak was not spicy at all. I also nibbled at a little bit of the salmon and it was moist and not dry. It also wasn’t that salty. Their choice of sides and toppings was awesome. I loved the roasted eggplant, couscous and hummus. The finishing touch was the fresh feta cheese.

Drinks at Roti are also an experience. For the soda drinkers, they carry all of the Coca Cola products . This made Jen happy. They also had some unusual drink combinations like the pomegranate and black tea. Yummy. They also had a cucumber mint combination that calmed. It reminded me of the water that is provided at the salon and the gym. There was also a black tea unsweetened and a watermelon coconut water that I didn’t try.

The latest Roti Modern Mediterranean Grill will officially open on Wednesday. The friendly folks there will help you make choices and help make your dining experience pleasant. They will be open until nine and on the weekends at seven. Perfect for shopping or pre-theatre dining. The new store is located at 55 E Jackson Street.

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It’s the Original Heaven on Seven …….A Chicago Tradition

Three generations of Bannos’ have brought Chicago ‘s diners some of the tastiest food. Jimmy Bannos took what he learned from his grandparents and parents at the family’s Garland Avenue restaurant . The result is the Loop restaurant with some of the best Cajun cookin north of the Mason Dixon Line. Heaven on Seven is a Chicago institution that has stood the test of time. When you walk through the door, it’s like Mardi Gras everyday.  The walls are decorated with hundreds of bottles of hot sauce. (But be prepared, not all their dishes have that hot and spicy touch) The chandeliers are festooned.

Ready for our journey to the Bayou, we sat down and were greeted by some of the friendliest people. Jimmy himself talks to all of his guests. On a sunny, Indian summer day , there was only one drink that would set the scene. Fruity and fun, I enjoyed the sweet taste of a hurricane. The glass was decorated with purple beads and filled with rum mixed with orange and pineapple juice. Scrumptious!

 Heaven has a huge menu of starters and we got a small taste of a few of them. Jen loves cheese and so does the chef at Heaven. Jalapenos are supposed to heat up the food, but I found that it added flavor instead. This was the case with the tasty Bayou Jalapeno Corn Blasters . We couldn’t keep our hands off of the jalapeno cheddar corn muffin. Drizzled with honey, it was the perfect comfort food. Add some of the gumbo. And you have got a winner. Between the vegan gumbo and the traditional chicken and sausage, the traditional one passed the test. It was chock full of chicken and sausage chunks and filled with that homemade flavor. We also got a small sampling of some of the best of the south. I always enjoy trying foods from different parts of the country. Southern cooking is called comfort food for a reason. It is a cuisine that doesn’t count calories and uses fats and oils in its dishes. It is some of the most basic food and the proof came when some of our dishes came to the table in iron skillets. The iron seals in the flavor.  I love food with large chunks of meat and the jambalaya was made with shrimp and chicken. The red beans and rice was a perfect pairing along with the greens.

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