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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Everything Is Coming Up Babies at the Chicago Baby Show

Almost everywhere you go, there they are. They are in their strollers outside Starbucks, you see mommies running down by the lake next to their strollers.  People go to doctors to get one and now we find out that the Royal Family of England are expecting another heir. Babies are in. Babies are hot and there is no where that is more evident than recently at Navy Pier. We got the opportunity to attend the Chicago Baby Show and also get the chance to see some of the hottest and fun trends for the baby of today and mommies of tomorrow.

There were so many products there that it was hard to choose just three.  But here are my picks for great things for baby.  First of all, I love the idea of a product that embraces a child’s heritage. One of the most monumental events of a family’s life is the ceremony following the birth of a child. In my religion, a child is put in a dress and baptized. In the Jewish faith, a baby boy has a bris. It is the ceremony where a mohel circumcises the baby boy. Jewish families have so many great traditions and a new company embraces this family tradition. Oy Vey Baby showed their wares for both the girl and boy babies. They even had a mohel set complete with hat and booties. Their sets are gift wrapped , complete with cards. Talk about adorable and you won’t get any softer than the material. Susan Nightingale , marketing for the company, assured me that this is the start of the line. There will be special goodies for all the Jewish holidays. “We just want people to embrace their heritage and pass it on to the next generation.” She stated.

As an artist, I realize the importance of introducing art into a child’s life. In the early stages of life, babies are stimulated by colors. It could also introduce a lifetime of appreciating culture and art by letting the baby see the creative side of life. There is enough black and white in people’s lives,  I was impressed by another company that was at the show. They even employ artists to make beautiful creations for the nursery and the child’s room. Along with wall hangings, they make blankets and pillows with original designs to stimulate and start the creative process. Mouse and Magpie encourages artists , as well as children to create. Who knows? The next generation’s Warhol or Degas may come from a baby who has one of these beautiful artworks in their room.  I love everything from the girly designs to the very cool dinosaur  wearing an astronaut suit. It also encourages the child to embrace their dreams.

Since my late mother  worked in the nursery at church, I can remember seeing generations of babies trying to pull on her necklaces and put them in their mouth. She immediately pulled the beads from the teething child.  For generations , mommies have had their jewelry chewed on and broke. Well thankfully that day is no more. Itsy Ritsy has designed necklaces that the baby can actually chew on. The best part is that they are in colors that work with every piece of a woman’s wardrobe. Mommy can entertain her baby, and be stylish as well. Itsy Ritsy is all about style and versatility. They also had some great bags for the busy mom, whether she is winning cases in court or selling makeup . Itsy Ritsy is all about style , versatility , and comfort.

This was the perfect show for not only moms and mothers to be, it gave people like me ideas for my friends who are getting ready to have a baby. Jen is truly the baby person at heart, and she found many great ideas for birthdays and Christmas. Jen just recently became a great aunt. What was also awesome was seeing the different kinds of families. It just goes to show you that even with what is going on in the world, we are all one family. There were different ethnic families and there were also families with two mommies and daddies. It was also fun to see the different kids in the bloggers lounge playing and having fun.  Our lunch time allowed me to also have chats with some of the moms and dads as well. They could see my side and for the first time , I actually got to see who the true heroes are. They are the people who are shaping the next generation. And that is a job that I can definitely salute. Here is to the parents of the world.


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Abby Pure Performance   Seals in the Color


     One of the biggest problems that I have is the upkeep of my hair. It’s panic time for me when my brunette roots start to peak through. (It’s an even bigger pain when that “G” word peaks through the blonde) A few hairs appear and then I have to start planning either coloring my hair or another visit to the salon.  If I could count how many times through the years that I have had those chemicals running through my hair, I would definitely be able to have my hair colored in the finest salons. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Thank heavens for Abba Pure Performance. It  is one hundred per cent natural with no synthetic color additives. That means no harmful chemicals to the hair and it keeps it soft.  It also means that there are no animals tested .  Botanicals are also used for its great smell.  With things in the formula like quinoa, sage, and coconut, it can’t help but nourish  the hair. But it isn’t the natural formula that makes me smile, it’s the fact that the products enhance the color and let me keep it just a little bit longer.

Best of all it is also gluten free, look for it at your favorite salon.


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​New Place in the Neighborhood- Empirical Brewery

Just recently,  Rogers Park got another bistro . Cushioned between the fast food and pizza joints, is a place that gives the neighborhood a little more of a gourmet spin. Customers at Empirical Brewery can get a tasty meal and also sit around and sip some of the brews that are made at the company’s brewery. In the near future, there will also be a brewery in the Rogers Park location. Formerly the location of Mayne Stage bistro, Empirical boasts dishes that are made with their own microbrews. We were eager to try some of the menu items and definitely taste the delicious brews that Empirical boasts.

The best thing on a warm , summer day is a nice cold glass of beer. But which one to choose with my sampler  of starters. I love a fruity drink , so I opted for the Empirical Up Quark Passion Fruit Pale Ale. What made it different was the combination of hops with the honey malt. Mix that with the tropical fruit and it is the perfect summer brew.  We were also happy to find out that Empirical Brewery is dog acheesy friendly. Diners can bring the kiddies for their own menu.  

Empirical Up Quark Passion Fruit Pale Ale refreshing on a warm summer day.

The first thing that we tried was the pretzel and beer cheese. It wasn’t your typical pretzel . The pretzel itself was soft like baked bread and dipping it was sheer delight.  We were told that most of the dishes contained one of the micobrews that Empirical brews. Jen is completely mad about Poutine , so we definitely had to try Empirical’s version.  Cheese was definitely the word as it surrounded the fries and was so stringy. The ratio of cheese over gravy was very evident and that is the way we like it.

pretzel and beer cheese is delicious


The Poutine was perfectly cheesy

Empirical is also opened for brunch with some dishes like the crab cakes , fruit salad, and of course the burgers. They also have some great signature drinks like the Beergarita and the Morse. They also boast Jones soda as well as the usual Coca Cola products. Empirical is located at 1330 W Morse Avenue next to J Alberto’s Pizza

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Chicago Baby Show at Navy Pier

Are youu expecting, or alreadry have little ones? Then join us at Navy Pier for The Chicago Baby Show. Keep reading to find out how you can attend.

The 2017 Chicago Baby Show, on August 26 & 27 at Navy Pier will be part of the largest show series for new and expectant parents in the country. Built off the 7 years of success with our New York Baby Show and our inaugural LA Baby Show last year , no other event provides a better experience for thousands of expectant and new families from Chicagoland, seeking a family-friendly jamboree of top brands great speakers and seminars, big giveaways, and lots of learning, support, bonding, and fun as you make your way into parenthood. See below for details… etc. Normal ticket price is $30 per family (for 2 adults and up to 4 children) and $20 per individual.

Want to attend? Chitownconnections has 10 free tickets to give away just click the link. Chicago Baby Show Giveaway

Once the 10 tickests are gone you can still attend, ger 50% off tickets here. Chicago Baby Show Discount 

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Groupon Takes Away those Vacation Blues


Ah summer! Full of barbecues, vacations , and camping.  But sometimes you can leave the house and forget that you packed something. Camps always provide a list so campers can bring everything and sometimes you forget that insect repellent after the bags are closed . Thanks goodness for Target and Walmart and thank goodness for Groupon.

Recently I just got back from vacation and two of the stores we visited were Target and Walmart . Boy I wish I would have known about Groupon Coupons . I could have saved on that Starbucks iced drink and those couple of outfits I couldn’t resist at Target. I also could have used those coupons when grocery shopping at Walmart. It may have been too late for me, but it isn’t for you.

Go to the Groupon site and look up the codes for the merchants of your choosing. Hey! you can get some style at Macy’s or dress up your man at Brooks Brothers as well. Think of what you can do with the money you save.

target and walmart

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Sarah Happ – A Spa Treatment for Your Lips

sara happ logo

Lips have to be one of the most ignored parts of the face, yet they are one of the most seen . Everyone knows about Angelina’s and when Kerry Washington talks in her Neutrogena ads, you just can’t help put picture putting her kiss proof lips all over Tony Goldwyn’s face. But here in the Windy City, you just can’t help but take care of them after months of cold and wind and snow.

I just got the chance to try some of the Sara Happ lip products and I just got to tell you, they are awesome. As I nurse my first bit of the summer, I had to give my lips the full treatment. After years of Chapstick , these products are like a spa treatment for your lips.

I started my lip experience with her “the lip scrub”. It is so easy too and now I am spoiled. The one I chose was the luscious passion fruit. I love the taste because it is just like fruity candy. But you just put it on your lips and then wipe it off with a tissue . So simple . I also saw that it comes in other flavors like confetti cake which I might try in the future.

passion fruit

 Actresses and influencers need to have a wardrobe of glosses, lipsticks, and lip crayons. I am currently liking the mattes and darker colors. But sometimes you need something just to make you feel glam. Sara has it covered with her Luxe lip gloss. I picked a lovely summer shade , The Peach Slip. Light and luxurious. It also goes on lovely over regular lipsticks and glosses. With or without , either way it shows off great lips.

peach slip

To finish up , I restored the sun and wind damage with the sweet clay lip mask. Each jar contains about 30 uses. Use this only as a treat because it is intense. You smear it on the lips and leave it on anywhere from 2 to 20 minutes and then wipe it off with a wet washcloth. You won’t believe how great it feels.

sweet clay lips mask

You can find Sara Happ lip products at Nordstrom and other fine stores. If you want more info on the products go to


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