Celebrate Love With Local Valentine's Gifts

Leave a Comment

How are you spending Valentine's Day? No matter what you do, it'll be perfect as long as it's with the ones you love. My favourite Valentine's Day includes a night either out with my husband, or staying in with our boys. Quality family time is always the best gift to give and receive, but there are also some great ideas that are sure to be a hit.

Here are my suggestions for some great Valentine's Day gifts to give, from stores found right here in Ottawa, like Schad on Sussex for the perfect sweater, t-shirt, or jewellery, donuts from Ottawa's best donut shop, Maverick's Donuts, or candles, books, and reading socks from Indigo. Another great idea is a gorgeous bloom box of roses from Luxe Blooms.



I also love giving the gift of art, and an original painting from local artist Katerina Mertikas is a wonderful idea. How about an at-home spa basket with a gift card for a massage from Innes Massage Therapy, or a cordless curling iron for an upcoming sunny vacay? Throw in some Le Chateau accessories and Purdys chocolates, and you're sure to make someone very happy! For the kids, I love giving Lush products, because bath bombs are a super fun gift to give.

Here's my CTV Ottawa segment with all the details on what to buy for Valentine's Day! Shop local–and Canadian–and share the love.

Happy love day, friends!

SHARE:
0 comments

From Page To Screen: The Books That Inspired This Year's Oscar Nominated Movies

Leave a Comment


The 92nd annual Academy Awards take place on February 9th. There are so many great movies nominated this year, many of which I've seen–and loved! Nothing beats an excellent movie except, perhaps, an equally excellent book. Great novels are often a staple of Oscar season, and this year, these are the books that inspired some of the year's best movies, all Oscar nominated films. The books make an excellent companion to the film, and I think it's a great idea to read the book, and watch the movie, just in time for Oscar season.

I was on CTV Noon and CTV Ottawa Morning Live talking about these great books, all of which you can pick up at Indigo. (My favourite store, by the way–I could spend countless hours in Indigo looking through all the books and home decor items!)


Here are the books worth reading before February 9th:

The Irishman

This Irishman is the movie based on the book I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt. The movie, on Netflix and in select theatres, is nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Martin Scorsese), and Best Supporting Actor for Al Pacino and Joe Pesci. The movie also stars Robert DeNiro. A stellar cast, for sure, and an epic movie about organized crime in post-war America, told through the eyes of WWII veteran Frank Sheeran, played by DeNiro, a hitman who worked for crime boss Russell Bufalino, played by Pesci. The book (and movie) spans decades and chronicles one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in American history–the disappearance of legendary crime boss Jimmy Hoffa, played by Al Pacino. It's a movie that reminds me of Goodfellas.

Caging Skies

Caging Skies is an international bestseller and inspired the movie Jojo Rabbit, up for Best Picture this year. This comedy-drama film, based on the book, is told through the perspective of a young boy, a Hitler Youth member, who find out his mother (played by Scarlett Johansson, who is nominated for Best Supporting Actress) is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic. The young boy questions his beliefs, while dealing with his imaginary friend... Hitler. The book and movie reveals a world of truth and lies, both personal and political.

Joker

Yet another Joker movie, but this time, even darker than the ones before it. This spooky thriller is up for Best Picture, and Joaquin Phoenix is nominated for Best Actor for his incredible job portraying the Joker. You can find the Joker in Indigo; it's a comic, but a little too dark for young readers.

Little Women

This is a classic book that most of us remember reading from our childhood; it was one of my most favourite books I read when I was younger, and it's still a delight to read today. The movie is up for Best Picture, and has six Oscar nominations overall. It's easy to fall in love with the March sisters, both in the book, and on the big screen.

The Two Popes

The Two Popes is about Pope Benedict XVI , his resignation, and the pope that took over, Pope Francis, the first non-European pope in twelve hundred years. Pope Francis, originally from Argentina, was once a tango club bouncer, and a huge soccer fan. The movie shows the relationship between these two different characters, and the book is a delight to read, as well, showing the dark and light side of one of the world's most significant institutions. The movie is up for a few Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

Tom Hanks is up for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Mister Rogers. The book features the interview by an Esquire journalist, who profiled Mister Rogers for the magazine, and the book features quotes and words of wisdom from this beloved television star. Tom Hanks is perfectly cast in this movie, and both the movie and book are seeing and reading.

What movie do you hope wins Best Picture? I'm leaning towards Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, though all the above mentioned movie are all very deserving, too.

Thank you Indigo, for supplying me with the books for my TV segments. 
SHARE:
0 comments

Dress You For New Year's Eve

Leave a Comment

These last few weeks have been the busiest ever, and Christmas was an absolute magical time spent with family and friends. We hosted several times, enjoyed Christmas Eve at my parents house, and Christmas Day at home before heading to the in-laws for more festivities. It was a perfect holiday season, but it's not over yet–New Year's Eve is coming up and it's time to start thinking about what to wear to ring in the new year! After all, it's a big night–we're saying goodbye to 2019, and welcoming a new decade into our lives.

Who's ready for 2020? I know I am! 2019 was a great year filled with many memories, including a summer in Paris and Greece, winter break in Bahamas, and focusing on work and family. Now, it's time to look forward at all the things 2020 will bring, but before that how about figuring out what to wear?

I recently partnered with DressYou as a brand ambassador, and I found so many great pieces of clothing and accessories for all occasions, like the most perfect dress to wear on New Year's Eve's–with just the right amount of sparkles! This dress is flattering, form-fitting, cute and sexy.


I love that DressYou is an innovative shopping destination where you can shop clothes and fashion you see showcased on real people online and it's easy to shop, too! The items you find on DressYou can be bought online in one single checkout, and it features multiple brands, like Aldo, Vero Moda, Rachel, Zara, H&M and more.

I'd love for you to experience DressYou of yourself, so head over to their site and take a look around! Enter MrsLoulou for 20% off your purchase! Best part? All shipping is paid for!

Happy shopping, everyone.


SHARE:
0 comments

Countdown To Christmas With These Unique Advent Calendars

Leave a Comment

Advent calendars have come a long way since we were kids–I remember our choices were limited to chocolate (and not the good kind) and windows that opened to reveal a different Christmas illustration every day. I loved those in particular, but now, we have countless choices when it comes to buying an advent calendar to help us count down to Christmas. I was on CTV Noon and CTV Ottawa Morning Live showing viewers the best advent calendars to give this year. 

Here are my suggestions for advent calendars guaranteed to make everyone smile:


For the sweet tooth:

Purdy's Chocolates

This year, Purdy's has come out with not one but two advent calendars for the chocolate lover! The starry night advent calendar contains pretty drawers you pull open every day to reveal a tasty, festive, wrapped in foil milk or while chocolate piece; a dark chocolate foiled bell, or a foiled chocolate salted caramel. If you flip each drawer while you're counting down, you'll reveal a beautiful Christmas illustration at the end. This one sells for $25 and can be found at Purdy's stores in Ottawa, like in Bayshore Shopping Centre and Rideau Centre.

Purdy's is also selling their snow globe advent calendar, which looks more like a traditional advent calendar, filled with festive mini salted caramels or white or milk chocolate pieces. This one is available for $20.

Chocolats Favoris

Canadian master chocolatier, Chocolats Favours, has a lovely advent calendar that i filled with four high quality chocolates per day. Not only do you get four pieces of chocolate a day, which is perfect to share with the entire family, each day, you get to discover a new chocolate flavour! The calendar itself is beautiful, with a vintage holiday feel. You can pick yours up at any Chocolats Favours store for $34.99.

Laura Secord:

I love Laura Secord for their delicious flavour of ice cream but they also sell delicious chocolate, too. The nice thing about their cute advent calendar is that it's peanut free–so you can feel safe and confident when gifting it to a child with allergies. You can buy Laura Secord advent calendar for $24.99 at Bayshore Shopping Centre or St. Laurent Shopping Centre.

Godiva: 

Count down the days to Christmas with the Godiva advent calendar, featuring an assortment of Christmas chocolates in milk, dark and white, in shapes of winter penguins, jolly Santa's, snowmen, and raspberry stars. Find yours at Bayshore Shopping Centre for $23.00.

David's Tea

What pairs nicely with high quality chocolate, like the ones I mentioned above? A soothing cup of tea. The David's Tea advent calendar comes with 24 boxes with two portions of tea in each box for you to sip and enjoy, as well as other little surprises. Buy your David's Tea advent calendar at St. Laurent Shopping Centre or Bayshore Shopping Centre.

Roger's Chocolates

Roger's Chocolates is another great Canadian chocolate company, and this year's box of chocolates features the art of Ottawa artist, Katerina Mertikas.

For the beauty lover:

L'occitane

There are so many beauty products waiting to be discovered with the L'occitane advent calendar, including hand creams like lavender, rose, and cherry blossom, body lotions, oils, soap, lip balms, and conditioner. L'occitane makes their delicious beauty products in Provence, France, so this is a true luxury advent calendar for those who love to take their of skin. This advent calendar is available in Sephora at Bayshore Shopping Centre, and retails for $64.

The Body Shop

The Dream Big Deluxe Advent calendar by The Body Shop is the perfect gift to give the beauty lover in your life–and perfect to keep for yourself, too! This large advent calendar has 25 luxurious treats–skincare, bath and body, hair products, and makeup, in both full and travel sized. Behind each box, you'll find information about a trailblazing woman with fun facts about how she 'dreamed big' and made history. Also, proceeds go to Plan Canada's youth program stop advance gender equality, so you're giving back in more ways than one.

NYX

Hello, lipstick lovers! This is the advent calendar for you. NYX always comes out with a super fun theme with their advent calendars, and this year, the Love Lust Disco Greatest Hits Lips advent calendar features the most popular NYX lip glosses and lipsticks. It's the ultimate way to glam up each day in December, with a different shade of lipstick or lip gloss. You can buy your NYX advent calendar online or in NYX stores, for $65.

Saje 

'Tis the season for a good night's sleep! We all underestimate the importance of sleep, but Saje is here to help us get some rest in December since it's the busiest month of all. Saje is all about promoting wellness and their calendar has 12 nights of wellness products, to help ensure a good night's sleep during this hectic season. Inside each window, for 12 days you'll find products like body butter, a crystal to clear the mind of negativity, mists, mini diffusers, oils, and more, all to help you sleep better. This advent calendar is available at Saje in Bayshore Shopping Centre for $110.

For the kids

LEGO 

Lego is everyone's favourite toy, and every year, LEGO comes out with fun sets that kids (or adults!) can build every day. I love their LEGO city and LEGO Harry Potter sets–sure to be a big hit for Potter fans. You can find a variety of LEGO advent calendars at Indigo.

Happy Christmas ountdown!

SHARE:
0 comments

Feel Like A Ten All Winter Long

Leave a Comment

Winter has barely begun, and I'm already missing summer. The cold weather is not only hard to adjust to mentally, it can also be harsh on our skin and body. It's important to take the time to treat our skin to some much-needed self-care throughout this long season–and a visit to THE TEN SPOT certainly helps deliver some TLC where we need it most! I was invited to experience THE TEN SPOT in the Glebe recently, and I enjoyed an eyebrow wax and pedicure. The service was excellent, and I can't wait to go back!

In addition to visiting THE TEN SPOT (whether you're going in for a laser treatment, manicure, pedicure, or facial) you can also take care of your skin at home. With the help of skin care experts at THE TEN SPOT, here are four tips for transitioning your skin to the cold weather conditions of winter.

Exfoliate, but not too much!

Exfoliate only once a week. Your skin will be increasingly sensitive from the cold and dry climate, so you'll want to avoid added irritation by keeping exfoliation to a minimum. When you exfoliate, use a softer solution, rubbing it into your skin in a light, circular motion.

The cold weather tends to dry out our skin–keep hydrated.


Try THE TEN SPOT's lotion for your body. This formula is jam-packed with coconut oil, certified organic shea butter, grape sea oil, and vitamin E–and it smells delicious! At night, try a thicker moisturizing cream for an extra hydration boost while you sleep. THE TEN SPOT also sells calming bath salts, packed with therapeutic minerals like potassium, magnesium, and calcium. The earth-based formula promotes skin hydration while firming skin at the same time.


Protect your skin year-round by wearing an SPF moisturizing lotion or cream no matter the season. 

Don't be fooled by the grey sky; UV rays still penetrate the atmosphere during the winter. Although the cold weather can be deceiving, the sun shines through the clouds and can also cause skin damage even on a snowy day.

Pay extra attention to your hands and feet as they are most susceptible to becoming dry. 

Make sure to keep your hands and feet moisturized with a heavy-duty formula. After lathering your hands and feet in cream at night, put on socks to lock in the moisture. It's also a great idea to treat yourself to manicures and pedicures throughout the season. The specialists at THE TEN SPOT make sure the dead skin is removed, your cuticles are taken care of, and your nails are perfectly groomed for all your holiday festivities.

You will definitely feel like a ten when you're at THE TEN SPOT, and you'll leave feeling refreshed and beautiful. I love visiting THE TEN SPOT in the Glebe! There are locations across Canada, so find the one closest to you and make your appointment soon!

P.S. Gift cards to THE TEN SPOT also make a wonderful holiday gift idea, too.

THE TEN SPOT is the original anti-spa beauty bar. CEO and Creator, Kristen Gale, noticed a void in the market for an option that bridged the gap between luxurious spa and low-end beauty salon. Inspired to create something tailored for the urban professional on the go, Kristen imaged and founded THE TEN SPOT, a unique beauty bar concept that combines efficiency with high-end quality and standards. With a pinch of cheekiness and a dash of fun, THE TEN SPOT aims to make individuals feel like a perfect ten Check out their Ottawa locations in The Glebe, Westboro, and Kanata. 

Disclaimer: I was compensated and treated to a variety of beauty treatments at THE TEN SPOT in Ottawa in exchange for my review. All views and opinions are my own. 
SHARE:
0 comments

Top Five Places To Visit In Paris

Leave a Comment

After spending a few days in the most beautiful city of all, I though I'd share with you what I consider to be the top five places to see when you're in the City of Lights, especially if you are only there for a short time.

Whether you're travelling to Paris as a couple, with friends, or as a family, it really is a perfect destination for everyone–kids included. Of course, it will be more challenging navigating the cobblestone streets and exploring the sites if your children are very young or still in a stroller, so my advice is to wait until your children are old enough to truly understand and appreciate the greatness, beauty, and history of Paris.

Top five places to visit in Paris: 

Sacre Coeur:  Did you know the Sacre Coeur is the most visited monument in the world? It's no wonder why it's such a popular attraction, because it is truly breathtaking. Every year, over 11 million people visit this basilica, which was built at the end of the 19th century. The interior is stunning, and if you're brave enough to climb to the very top, the views will take your breath away. It is quite the hike up, though, on winding, tight stairs, so be prepared to do a lot of walking. We happened to be visiting Paris during the summer heat wave in June, making the climb a little challenging. Sacre Coeur is located at the top of Montmartre, a beautiful area known for its artistic history. Tip: Wear comfortable shoes and bring water with you if you climb to the very top. Make sure to visit the Montmarte area afterwards for some delicious gelato. 



Eiffel Tower: The beautiful Eiffel Tower is one of the most recognized monuments in the world, and the tallest structure in Paris. Over seven million people visit the Tour Eiffel each year. It is incredible to see in person! You can walk up to the first floor or take the elevator right to the top, (you can also walk up the 1,665 steps) where you'll see beautiful views of the city. We walked around the grounds and sat by the Trocadero Fountains for hours one evening, enjoying the view, taking in the beauty around us, and talking, until it was dark enough to see the dazzling lights of the Eiffel Tower. Every hour on the hour, thousands of flickering lights make the Tower sparkle. Tip: Head to the Eiffel Tower in the evening, to catch the sunset, and stay until it gets dark. Pack a picnic to enjoy by the Trocadero Fountains to pass the time. 


Notre Dame: Notre Dame, in the 4th arrondissement of Paris, is one of the most recognized buildings in Paris. I remember hearing the news that the Notre Dame had caught fire on April 15th, and I was devastated to see the damage this building suffered, which included the destruction of the spire. We were not able to go inside, but we still enjoyed looking at this beautiful, historic building. The construction to re-build the Notre Dame continues. Tip: Enjoy the walk along the Seine River. From the Notre Dame, you can walk to the Louvre. 


The Louvre: The Louvre Museum is one of the best art museums in the world. It features over 35,000 pieces of art, and you can transport yourself back in time while viewing everything from Egyptian mummy tombs to ancient Greek sculptures, including the famous Venus de Milo. The thousands of paintings that adorn the walls of the Louvre are all breathtaking, and you can also see the Mona Lisa up close and personal. It's a lot smaller in person, but cool to see. The Louvre is enormous and can seem overwhelming, so plan to spend the entire day there, or at least several hours. Tip: Look through the map first, to figure out what's a must-see during your visit, and plan your visit around that. Also? Wear comfortable shoes. 



Arc de Triomphe: Champs-Elysees, the most beautiful avenue in the world, is where you can shop till you drop. "Il y a tout ce que vous voulez aux Champs-Elysées," which means, "There is everything you could want along the Champs-Elysées." And it's true–this boulevard is a dream come true for those who love to shop. My favourite store was the ten floor Louis Vuitton, which is something I considered a must-see during my trip to Paris. Champs Elysees is also where the Arc de Triomphe stands. The Arc de Triomphe was commissioned by Napoleon to honour the Grande Armee during the Napoleonic Wars. The arch, the largest in the world, is another breathtaking structure in Paris. You can also climb to the top of the Arc and take in the Paris view from above. It is a serious workout, though, especially when it's 40C outside. While my oldest son and husband braved the climb, I stayed cool shopping in Louis Vuitton with my youngest son Tip: The massive traffic circle surrounding the Arc makes it almost impossible to safely cross the street; to reach the Arc, follow the underground passageway on Champs-Elysées. 



Catacombs: The Catacombs are a great place to visit if you love history, but it's not necessarily for everyone. I didn't go, but my oldest son and husband did, and it was one of their favourite experiences in Paris. The Catacombs of Paris are underground ossuaries, which hold the remains of more than six million people in a tunnel network build to consolidate Paris' ancient stone mines. Be prepared for long line ups to get in, because only 200 people are allowed to enter at a time. There are 131 steps to go down, and 112 steps to climb to get back out. It's a pretty chilling experience, to walk through skulls and boned lined tunnels, but an experience unlike any other. Tip: Go first thing in the morning. 


If you have any specific travel related questions about Paris, just let me know!

SHARE:
0 comments

Hotel du Levant: The Perfect Parisian Hotel

Leave a Comment

There is no better place to travel to than Europe in the summertime. I'm back to reality now after one month away–first, a few days in Paris, followed by four weeks in Greece–our second home.

It's easy to fall in love with Paris; what you've read about and what you've seen depicted of this magical city are all true. It's a city unlike any other, one that is filled with so much beauty it'll leave you awestruck with every step you take. It is, of course, a perfect city for lovers, but equally wonderful to experience with the entire family, especially if you love history, culture, fine dining, and breathtaking museums. Of course, the shopping is excellent, too!

I saw Paris for the first time last summer, on my return from my Portugal press trip. Earlier this year, my husband had the chance to visit Paris on a work trip. We decided to take our children this summer, before we went to Greece. It was the best decision ever. Our boys are at an age where travel and exploration are easy in different countries; at 14 and 11 years old, they're already so well-travelled and truly enjoy the experiences that come with visiting new countries.

The beauty of visiting Paris is all the things you will discover for yourself along the journey; it's about the memories you'll make with your family, more than anything else. Immerse yourself in the history, read about where you are, and enjoy it all—the sights, the tastes, and the sounds.

I'll be writing a post about all the must-see places to visit in Paris and another post about travel tips for Greece, but for now, I wanted to talk about the most perfect Parisian hotel that we stayed at, which made our Paris trip that much more memorable.


Where to stay

There are countless options of where to stay when you're visiting Paris. We wanted to stay somewhere close to Notre Dame Cathedral, but somewhere that would give us the most "Parisian" experience during our three days in the city.

I've always dreamed of staying somewhere in Paris where I'd be surrounded by little bakeries and restaurants; a place where windows open up to the city below. This dream became a reality for me at the Hotel du Levant.



This boutique hotel in the heart of Paris' charming 5th arrondissement has been open for over 100 years, and the fourth generation of the same family still manages the Hotel du Levant. In the heart of the Latin Quarter, between the Seine and Boulevard Saint-Germain, the hotel offers so much to visitors, from a lobby filled with books and games, to the most delicious breakfast buffet, with fresh food brought in every morning from local farms. We were given a true taste of the Parisian life during our stay at this hotel.


Our hotel room view, from the first floor, was so pretty–my favourite part of our stay at Hotel du Levant. Our room was large enough for my family of four, and had three beds (two single beds and one king-sized bed) and a spacious, modern bathroom. If you're looking for somewhere to stay in Paris, this is where I recommend. Perfect location, excellent service, and a fresh and delicious breakfast buffet that you'll remember even after you've checked out.


For more information on this beautiful boutique hotel, visit Hotel du Levant.

Thank you for the experience, Hotel du Levant. We can't wait to visit again!
SHARE:
0 comments

From Consultation to Results: My Experience With Juvéderm

Leave a Comment
Disclosure: I have partnered with Allergen Inc. and Juvéderm for this campaign, and have received treatment and monetary compensation. All views and opinions are my own. 

If you're on the fence about Juvéderm let me put your mind at ease–over the course of several months, I had the opportunity to experience Juvéderm fillers with Dr. Caronline Tosoni, and I loved my experience. She is one of the best cosmetic physicians in Ottawa, and after seeing her several times for consultations and treatments, I can see why she's so loved in this city. Many people I know go to Dr. Tosoni, including several of my close friends. Her professionalism and expertise can't be beat!

All the doubts I had prior to making my appointment with Dr. Tosoni were put to rest after my first visit with her. My initial fear was the pain from the needles, and wondering if anything would go wrong. I was also worried about doing something to myself that would leave me unrecognizable, or changed in a way that would cause me regret. Well, I'm happy to report there was no pain with any of my treatments (at the most, I'd say a few seconds of discomfort) and I look exactly the same–only better.

I'm a big supporter of people doing things to help themselves look and feel better. There is nothing more amazing than shining from within and being confident. From eating well to working out, to doing our hair and getting Juvéderm fillers–the things we do to feel good about ourselves are some of the ways that contribute to being outwardly confident and happy. 

I wanted to reduce some of the lines I was noticing on my face; around my lips and on my forehead. Dr. Tosoni recommended Juvéderm fillers for around my lip and nose area. The results of Juvéderm are instant, which is amazing–I loved the results! 

To find out more about treatment options and how facial fillers can work for you, try thJuvéderm Visualizer and Virtual Mirror app. The application tracks facial features like wrinkles, folds, and loss of volume, and performs a life-like 3D simulation of clinically-calibrated changes to the skin so you can see, as if looking at your own reflection in a mirror, how treatment can impact your appearance. 

Once you decide to try injectable treatments, you should follow the ABC's of patient safety to ensure you're getting the best possible treatment: 

A. Ask about the treatment facts. 
B. Be aware of the treatment you're getting, where you are getting it, and by whom. Always seek the advice of a trained cosmetic physician. 
C. Consultation with a trained cosmetic physician to ensure best treatment. 
Juvéderm can last for up to 24 months, depending on which products you're using. The treatment is also reversible

When it comes to a woman's journey with facial fillers, it's really all about a customized approach–everyone has different wants and needs and you can decide on the treatment that's right for you during your consultation. I requested a minimal amount be used for my treatments, and was extremely pleased with the result. 

If you have any questions for me, I'd be happy to answer them for you. I have been 100% satisfied with my Juvéderm treatments, and I'm so happy I met Dr. Tosoni. 
SHARE:
0 comments

Take Me Back To Chicago

Leave a Comment

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop to look around every once in a while, you could miss it."

We're all familiar with this line from the classic movie, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which took place in Chicago—the famous city I got to experience for the first time on a recent press trip. I was so fortunate to be travelling with some wonderful Canadian journalists, led by the most professional (and fun) PR firm, Fathom Co. (hi, Mark and Laura!) and hosted by Choose Chicago.

Chicago—I definitely choose you!


Some cities leave me yearning for more; I feel this way about New York City, and I feel this way about Chicago now. My first time visiting the Windy City left quite an impression on me, even though I was only there for a few days. I explored as much as I could, making good use of my time from morning to night. I walked around Millennium Park, took my picture by the famous "bean", watched Hamilton for the first time, (more on that later, because, oh-my-God, Hamilton!) dined at incredible restaurants, explored some art galleries, and ate deep-dish pizza. (Worth. Every. Bite).



I even walked on The Ledge of Skydeck, 103 floors up, where I saw the most incredible views of the city, high above the clouds, on a crystal-clear sunny morning. Fun fact: you can actually see four states from the top. The view was breathtaking–and I wasn't scared at all!

Chicago, one of the largest cities in the United States, on Lake Michigan—well-known for its incredible architecture, delicious dining options, theatre, and museums—is a perfect place to visit for everyone, including families, couples, and friends. 2019 is definitely the year to visit Chicago, for a number of reasons: It's the "Year of Chicago Theatre",  Hamilton: The Exhibition is officially open, and Chicago is home to the James Beard Awards until 2027–dubbed 'the Oscars of the food world.'

Here are my suggestions for where to stay and what to do during your trip to Chicago:

The Blackstone Hotel: I had the pleasure of staying at The Blackstone Hotel during my recent trip. This historic hotel first opened in 1910, and has hosted many former Presidents, including JFK. (He happened to be eating Boston Clam Chowder in the 10th floor suite that we had the chance to explore, when he heard the news of the Cuban Missile Crisis). The suite even has an escape route so guests could come and go without being seen.




The term 'smoke-filled' room originated at The Blackstone Hotel, too, in the infamous 'smoke-filled' suite, after a group of US Senators gathered to arrange the nomination of Warren G. Harding as the Republican candidate for President in 1920. I loved the stunning lobby in The Blackstone Hotel, a lobby with history; President Truman used to hang out in the lobby, playing piano and drink bourbon late into the evenings.

The lobby of this historic hotel is filled with art and historical pieces, and the guest rooms are modern, clean, and very spacious. My view of Lake Michigan was breathtaking, as was the morning sunshine that filled my room. I loved the Crystal Ballroom, the 5th floor Art Hall, and the location of the hotel–just a short walk from Grant Park, Millennium Park, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

What to do

Chicago's First Lady Architecture River Cruise:  Everyone kept telling me Chicago is "like New York City, but so much cleaner" and they were 100% correct. I was in awe of how clean this beautiful city was, and even more fascinated by the beauty of the water close to the city's edge; the water looked as blue as the ocean, so really, Chicago has everything I love in one location: a big-city vibe that's alive at night, with so much to explore, plus the tranquility of blue water surrounding me. A great way to see the city is through a river cruise, where you'll learn about the architectural landscape surrounding you, and the history of the skyscrapers. This is considered the top tour in Chicago and one of the top ten tours in the United States, so it's not to be missed, especially if it's your first time in the city.


Millennium Park and Cloud Gate: Cloud Gate is the official name of the famous "bean" sculpture that everyone visits to snap a selfie with. Inspired by liquid mercury and meant to reflect the city's skyline, it's one of the largest pieces of art of its kind in the world, and a definite attraction for both tourists and locals alike. I walked among crowds of people happily snapping their picture with the "bean", and enjoyed the park and all the pretty open green space. It's what sets Chicago from other cities, I think.


The Ledge at Skydeck: We had the opportunity to enjoy an early morning private breakfast at The Ledge at Skydeck, which was an amazing experience atop the Willis Tower. It was so much fun standing on the 'ledge', the glass balcony extending four feet outside the 103rd floor. It's a must-do when in Chicago, and a great place to take those memorable pictures, while taking in the breathtaking views from high above.



Shopping: When in Chicago, make some time for shopping along The Magnificent Mile, where you'll find all the stores you love, from department stores to designer boutiques. The shopping is incredible in this city, but make sure to wear comfortable shoes because you'll be walking for, well... miles. (Don't forget to stop by Garrett Popcorn Shop, for their delicious cheddar-caramel mix).

Dining: Chicago is the place to be if you're a foodie; there are so many great dining options, and if you plan your visit in July, you'll be there for Taste of Chicago–not to be missed! If you're looking for a place to dine that's unique with an eclectic menu, inspired by simple farmhouse fare in a super cool space, check out The Publican.  It's a popular place to gather with friends for drinks (they've got an amazing selection of craft beer on tap) and food, from seafood to pork and oysters.



Another great place to dine (close to many theatre's, so it's a perfect place to go to before your show!) is Acanto Restaurant and Bar. The wine, service, and Italian food was simply delicious.

Theatre: Like NYC, Chicago has incredible theatre options for tourists. You can celebrate the Year of Chicago Theatre by attending some of the many great productions, including improv, opera, and musicals.



Of course, the hottest ticket in town is Hamilton: The Musical. It was like a dream come true, having the opportunity to see Hamilton–and our 4th floor seats were pretty sweet, too! I was so emotional walking into the theatre, to see this popular musical created by the genius that is Lin-Manuel Miranda. Hamilton was absolutely incredible and definitely worth the hype. I'm completely obsessed now.  I highly recommend you get tickets before your trip to Chicago–you'll be ever so thankful you did! Another must-do in Chicago is going to Hamilton: The Exhibition. It was created by Lin-Manuel Miranda and the 360-degree immersive exhibit takes visitors into the life and times of Alexander Hamilton.

Museums and Art Galleries: There are many great museums and art galleries in Chicago, so try to visit a few. The Chicago Architecture Center is a must–it offers interactive exhibits and tours of architectural treasures, and it's the perfect place to learn more about the history of Chicago. Stop by the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) for lunch at Marisol, a beautiful restaurant and bar featuring food from Chicago chef Jason Hammel. The food is delicious, and being surrounded by art made it an even more memorable experience. The MCA is one of the largest museums dedicated to art since 1945. The museum exhibits new and experimental work from artists in all media, paired with educational programs.



The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the city's most well-known cultural institutions, which houses over 300,000 pieces of art, and is home to the delicious Italian restaurant, Terzo Piano–another great stop during a day of sight-seeing in the city.

If you have time...

A weekend in Chicago may not be enough time to see it all; but you can always plan another visit, right? To maximize your time in Chicago, pick up a Chicago City Pass. The City Pass provides great deals on shopping, and VIP admission to some great attractions to places like Shedd Aquarium, Skydeck Chicago, Field Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum of Science and Industry Chicago.

Chicago, my new favourite city, is worth a visit, because once you discovery it, you'll fall in love like I did. It's historic, clean, and beautiful, and has so much to do, no matter what you love. From sports to theatre, to shopping and dining, it's got it all.  I cannot wait to go back and explore it all over again.

Thank you, Choose Chicago, for the most memorable trip! 
SHARE:
0 comments

Mother's Day Gift Giving With A Local Twist

Leave a Comment

This Mother's Day, keep is simple by shopping local for the most important woman in your life.

There are so many wonderful gifts to give mom for Mother's Day. Of course, the most important gift of all is the gift that's free: love, and spending quality time with those closest to you. For me, a truly happy Mother's Day means I'm spending it with my children and my family, doing things we love, together. A home made card from my children is always the most cherished gift I receive every year.

However–receiving (and giving) something extra special is a wonderful way to celebrate Mother's day, too. This year, I thought it would be a good idea to shop for gifts from local businesses, because Ottawa is full of great companies selling amazing products every mom will appreciate.

Here are my choices for the best gifts to give this Mother's Day:

Tallow Boutique: Tallow is an adorable boutique located in Westboro. They sell so many wonderful items including dresses, tops, pants, and accessories, by some fabulous companies, like Swell (swoon!) and Brunette the Label. They also have a large selection of swimwear, making it the perfect store to shop for summer vacation. Hello, bikini season! In addition to a store full of perfect clothes for all occasions, the service is excellent. A new accessory, dress, or gift card to shop Tallow is the perfect gift for Mother's Day. Why not make it a date and take your mom to Tallow to shop? Shopping and quality time is the excellent combination for Mother's Day.



terra20: terra20 is a great store that's locally owned and operated, committed to sourcing brands that are good for our planet–and ourselves. They have a wide variety of eco-friendly products, including skin care, bath and body, products, cosmetics, baby and kid items, and home decor and accessories. My personal favourite? Their Buck Naked Soap bath salts.

The Piggy Market: For something unique, I love the idea of giving a gift card to The Piggy Market, a local artisan delicatessen and craft butcher shop. They work with local farmers and sell the most delicious cheeses, meats, and more. Treat mom to a yummy charcuterie board, pair it with a bottle of wine, and make it a cosy Mother's Day at home.

Wine Bottega: Who doesn't love wine? Wine is a perfect gift to give mom for Mother's Day. At Wine Bottega, you can craft your own wine. If you have a favourite, just let the friendly staff know, and they'll help you create your perfect wine to bring home–white, red or rose–at the best price. It's a super fun experience and you're guaranteed to leave with something you can enjoy at home for months to come–depending on how many cases you order!

Roger's Chocolates: Chocolate, like wine, is always a good gift to give. Roger's Chocolates, Canada's first chocolate company, sells beautiful boxes of chocolates for Mother's Day, featuring art by local artist Katerina Mertikas, who happens to be my mother. The collector tins are beautiful and become a keepsake long after the chocolates have been consumed.

Luxe Blooms: Flowers are always a great gift to give, especially if you're gifting a unique bouquet. Luxe  Blooms is an online based flower shop in Ottawa. They make custom bloom boxes using fresh roses displayed in European inspired boxes, with the highest quality of roses. You can choose from fresh roses, or eternal roses (which are also real, but actually last a year). All you have to do is shop online, select your roses, send your personalized message, and let Luxe Blooms do the rest.


Innes Massage Therapy: I love Innes Massage Therapy because there's no place better to go for a full-body massage. Relaxing in a beautiful spa is a great idea, and not just for Mother's Day. Innes Massage Therapy can also put together beautiful baskets to gift, including a gift card for a massage, bath salts, bath bombs, and soap.

Merivale Vision Care: This sunglass and eyewear store located in Ottawa's west end not only sells prescription glasses, but also a wide variety of designer sunglasses, including Tory Burch, Dior, Gucci, and Kate Spade. A new pair of designer shades makes the perfect gift to give... and receive!


Call It Spring: New shoes actually make a wonderful Mother's Day gift. Now that spring is here, with summer not far behind, new shoes for the season are a must. Call It Spring is a trendy Canadian store in Rideau Centre, and all their stylish shoes are super affordable. This means you can buy several pairs and not feel guilty about it. One to gift–and one to give to yourself. Shopping done right.


I hope no matter what you do (or what you buy to gift this Mother's Day) you celebrate the ones you love in your life, and enjoy your day–you deserve it!


Disclaimer: I received products in exchange for my review and all opinions are my own.
SHARE:
0 comments
Previous PostOlder Posts Home
BLOG TEMPLATE CREATED BY pipdig