Dior Makeovers and Blowouts at Chicago History Museum and Waldorf Astoria

What’s a girl’s night look like? Well, it has martinis, makeup,  lots and lots of braiding, and then an opportunity to look at pretty dresses and take selfies. Dior and Medici Museums delivered for us Chicago city girls this past Tuesday, August 15, 2017.

There wasn’t wardrobe changes, but there were location changes. This two-part event began  at the Chicago History Museum (5:30-7pm), where the city’s top fashion bloggers – Hasty Book ListThe Petite DiariesStile.Foto.Cibo., and The Color Palette included lead scavenger hunts of Mainbocher, “America’s First Couturier,” a twentieth-century tastemaker who dressed royalty and celebrities, inspired Dior’s “new look”—and put the chic in Chicago.

“Showcasing a Chicago designer who was so influential to fashion as a whole was a great way to get to know other Chicago fashion bloggers and enjoy a Ketel One cocktail,” said Chicago blogger, Danni Levine-Moore of Stile.Foto.Cibo.

If you don’t know, now you know that he made the strapless dress you’re favorite staple. You can learn all about his fascinating life, view his designs and even design your own dress (on a mannequin) in under 5 minutes at the  Making Mainbocher: The First American Couturier exhibit, which will be on display at the Chicago History Museum until August 20, 2017.

After filling out a scavenger hunt card, designing our own dress, and making new friends, we were ready for a location change. A mile away, this Chicago girl’s night took us to the Waldorf Astoria where delicious Ketel One martinis and vodka lemonades were waiting for us along with, because the event was so well spaced out, felt like our own Dior make-up artist and hair stylist.

We mingled at Waldorf Astoria’s new concept Petit Margeaux, the brainchild of celebrity chef Michael Mina. This fashion-forward hotel, with its Dior-inspired tiled lobby floor and Chanel-influenced chandeliers, was the perfect backdrop for our selfie’s.

After the all-inclusive evening, we made a few friends and stopped over for (thin crust) pizza across the street. Not bad for a Tuesday night.

 

 

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There is Lower Cost Transportation Options Than Rideshare for a Night Out

Planning a night out can be the worst. Everyone shows up at different times and wants to try out a dance bar or a Tiki bar or do a taco crawl. The more people involved – the more opinions. And since a night out in Chicago usually involves a few rounds of drinks, finding a designated driver or making sure all your girlfriends get home okay can add more stress. Of course, the go-to is to open up your favorite rideshare app, but there’s a much better option for a group in Chicago!

Better Than Rideshare:

Reserving a party bus or limousine for your next night out not only ensures a safe ride for everybody involved, but it also adds a layer of convenience that can’t be replicated by a taxi or Uber. You’ve reserved a block of time, so you’re able to visit multiple destinations through out the night instead of sticking to one or two within walking distance. You’ll be able to enjoy features such as spacious cabins for easy socialization through the night, cup holders for your beverages, sophisticated hardwood flooring and lighting, television panels with DVD players, stereos with the ability to stream through auxiliary ports, and more.

Professional chauffeurs have the knowledge needed to get you where you need to be efficiently and safely. They’ve also had tons of experience taking groups to local hot spots, so they can offer up suggestions if you’re unsure of where to head to next. It’s like having your own personal concierge and night club on the road!

Affordability:

While most groups assume that a Chicago Party Bus is too expensive considering the sophistication, when you divide the overall cost evenly among every one involved, it’s comparable to a rideshare service or taxi trip with a lot more to look forward to. You can save even more money by avoiding high traffic months like wedding and prom season, and the weekend if possible. With a bit of preparation beforehand, you can make sure your next get together is fun, safe and affordable!

This is a sponsored post.

About the Author: Alan James is a local travel writer who specializes in entertainment topics. They hope to provide a helpful voice for those looking to elevate their leisure time.

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What to Order on a Dinner Date to Grand Lux Cafe Chicago

Grand Lux Cafe has always been known for their amazing desserts like this one. And while it would be a disappointment to forgo dessert. Dessert is one of the best parts of a number restaurants I have reviewed including Chop in The Roosevelt Collection. But, it’s nice to actually enjoy a good meal with your significant other or a group of friends after shopping on Michigan Avenue.

The 200 item menu at Grand Lux Cafe offers classic American dishes and international favorites, including appetizers, pasta, seafood, steaks, chicken, burgers, salads, specialty items and desserts. And while the food – the real food is quite tasty – what’s especially nice about this restaurant is that on top of offering fine cuisine, it also has an onsite bakery for delicious desserts, and my favorite – their cappuccinos.

I went to Grand Lux on a Friday night in July for a date. I’ve been there with a friend, but I like this setting for an intimate date – when you can forget time.

The Cocktails:

Grand Lux is pretty amazing for their cocktails alone. It’s beautiful inside and it almost seems like just grabbing a cocktail here would be a waste because the food is so good. But, there are some really good cocktails on the menu. If you’re ordering a main dish – I would go with the champagne or a glass of wine – it just pairs better. I had the Laurent-Perrier, Brut, France champagne, which is drier and comes in a cute mini bottle.

But, when you’re having apps, I would order the Passion in Paradise. It’s a rum drink with Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, Pineapple, Passion Fruit and Fresh Lemon. It’s tropical, it’s big, and it’s strong, and seriously refreshing.

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The Appetizers and Salad:

You quite honestly don’t want to miss the appetizers. The portion sizes of the main dishes are quite large, but when you’re staying for a while, treat yourself to one of restaurant goers favorites – the Buffalo Chicken Rolls. I know! I was skeptical because it seems like an Asian twist on sports food – and it was – but it was really good. The Buffalo Chicken Rolls have Chicken Breast, Cheese and Our Very Spicy Delicious Buffalo Sauce all Rolled in a Spiced Wrapper and Fried until Crisp. Served with Celery Sticks and Blue Cheese Dressing (which you can swap for Ranch).

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Another appetizer that I wanted to try was the Ahi Ceviche which has Fresh Raw Ahi Tuna Diced and Marinated in Lime Juice, Chiles and Cilantro. Tossed with Avocado, Tomato, Onion and Cucumber. But of course, we only have one stomach. So, I tried my date’s Pot Roast Cheese Fries, which is basically pot roast flavored fries. It’s French Fries Topped with Chunks of Tender Pot Roast Smothered with Gravy and Creamy Cheddar Cheese Sauce.

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The Main Dish:

Finally, after atleast one cocktail, some delicious buffalo chicken and a zesy salad, it’s time to enjoy salmon. When I use to think of Grand Lux, I thought of them as pasta and desserts, but now since I’m trying to eat healthier, and they really do a great job with their sauces, I order their salmon. There are three salmon dishes on the menu and they are not created equal.

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I think the Cedar Plank BBQ salmon was nicely flavored and the side of mashed potatoes are amazing. It is roasted on a Cedar Plank and Glazed with Sweet and Spicy B.B.Q. Sauce. Served with Mashed Potatoes, Corn Succatash and Crispy Onion Rings.

Then, there’s the salmon three ways –  Soy Glazed with Shiitake Mushrooms, Horseradish Crusted with Asparagus and Almond Ginger with Green Beans and Beurre Blanc. Some of the salmon was a bit dry for my liking. But, I will say the horseradish crusted with asparagus and almond ginger was a great blend.

The Dessert:

The best part of the meal is dessert! I liked the Warm Sticky Bun Bread Pudding. The Sticky Bun’s crunch and the sweet caramel drizzle are completed with a side of whip cream, which both complements and cools the dessert and you can get the recipe here. 

But, I went with the Godiva chocolate cheesecake and paired it with their cappuccino. I’m seriously obsessed with the cappuccino’s here. They are the best because they do have an onsite bakery and coffee shop. This cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts in the city. It was rich. It was creamy. It’s also huge, so you can split it with your date or a group of friends or take some home like I did.

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Overall, I really enjoyed my dinner at Grand Lux Cafe. I think that the service was impeccable, especially because we had Oscar who recommended several appetizers and my favorite drink. But I also like Grand Lux because in a city you can feel so rushed and the establishments can be so small, but here I felt like I could have a conversation (which we did for three hours) and get to know someone.

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Almond Breeze Stops at Taste of Chicago for National Homegrown Tour

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“It’s different…it tastes almost like milk.” I heard someone outside the Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Taste of Chicago tent.

“And what is that – is that an almond burger?”

What he was about to eat was a Home Run Chicken Slider with Creamy Breeze Guacamole made with almond milk.

Almond Breeze is halfway through it’s 2017 Homegrown Tour, which is a multi-city national tour featuring recipes made by Food Expert Patty Mastracco. When I usually think of almond milk, I think of it for my smoothies and cereal, and lately I’ve been using it for my protein shakes now that I’m training for the Chicago Marathon. While almond milk is great for those uses, it’s more versatile and can also be a milk substitute for savory foods. Food Expert Patty Mastracco specifically crafted recipes for each city on the tour using Almond Breeze almond milk, and for The Taste of Chicago, it was no different.

“The hardest part was coming up with something for Chicago because when someone thinks of Chicago eats, they think of dishes that aren’t that healthy,” Food Expert Patty Mastracco said. “So I started with classic recipes and gave them a fun twist.”

Food Expert Patty Mastracco at The Taste of Chicago 2017.


Almond Milk for Savory Foods:

For the popular Home Run Chicken Slider, one interesting thing she did was add almond milk to guacamole – something that already has creamy avocados. But, honestly, it really made a difference. It also changed the way I usually eat chicken sliders – which is with cheese instead of guacamole. But as a Chicago foodie, I love to try new things and this was my favorite sample that I tried at The Taste of Chicago food festival. Festival goers enjoyed free samples of a variety of almond milk (including chocolate milk) and almond milk based foods like the Chicago Breeze Ballpark Pretzels.

What’s really great about these is that for most recipes for cooking you can directly substitute almond milk for regular milk without compromising taste or texture. You can also use almond milk for baking, which might call for a shorter bake time. The only time you need extra almond milk is when making custards or puddings because almond milk doesn’t have saturated fat.

Below is my favorite Chicago recipes from Almond Breeze:

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Home Run Chicken Sliders at The Taste of Chicago.


Home Run Chicken Slider:

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 6 to 10 minutes

1 lb. ground chicken

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/4 cup Blue Diamond Original Unsweetened Almond Breeze

1/4 cup finely minced red onion

1/4 cup shredded 4-cheese Mexican blend

2 tablespoons minced pickled jalapeno peppers

1 tablespoon Mexican seasoning blend

1 egg

Olive oil cooking spray

16 small rolls (2-inches in diameter)

Fresh pico de gallo

Mix together chicken, breadcrumbs, Almond Breeze, onion, cheese, peppers, seasoning and egg in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (May be prepared 1 day ahead and stored tightly covered in the refrigerator.) Using wet hands, shape into 12 flat patties. Coat liberally on both sides with olive oil spray and cook over medium heat in a very large nonstick skillet for 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until nicely browned and cooked through. Spread roll bottoms with Creamy Breeze Guacamole, then sprinkle with pico de gallo. Place a slider and roll top on each. Makes 18 sliders.
Creamy Breeze Guacamole:

Prep time: 5 minutes

1/4 cup Blue Diamond Original Unsweetened Almond Breeze

2 tablespoons lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves

1 tablespoon sliced pickled jalapeno peppers plus 1 tablespoon brine from jar

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

1 large ripe avocado, peeled and pitted

1 medium green onion, sliced

Puree all ingredients in a small blender or food processor. Serve with Home Run Chicken Sliders. Makes 1 cup. Double recipe to make extra guacamole for dipping, if desired.

Almond Breeze National Tour Stops:

Don’t miss the opportunity to see what dairy-free, savory recipes Food Expert Patty Mastracco has whipped up for your city. After The Taste of Chicago, The Homegrown Tour will make the following stops:

Eat Drink San Francisco, August 24 -27, 2017

Farm-to-Fork Festival Sacramento, September 24, 2017

NYC Wine and Food Festival, October 12-14, 2017

Taste of Atlanta, October 21-23, 2017

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1,000+ US Workers Share Their Thoughts on Taking PTO

Vacation is good for you, but does it look good on you?

With summer officially upon us, many employees are looking forward to their vacations, but paid time off (PTO) restrictions, lack of managerial support and stress upon returning can all affect that well-planned trip, according to a survey released today by leadership development and conversation experts at Fierce, Inc. Fierce surveyed over a thousand full-time employees across the U.S. and found some surprising variances in employee experiences around PTO.

While a third of respondents receive 20 or more vacation days each year, one in every five employees receives less than 10 days. Age, tenure and company size all play a large role—the lower the ranks, the less PTO granted.

And let’s discuss what PTO is for a minute – PTO can be vacation, but it can also be used for dealing with family matters, taking sick days, and volunteering of going to conferences. PTO is more fluid, but it’s still PTO – time away from work. So, in today’s digital age, is that a good thing because you can easily fix things in case of emergency or because you can travel and work for a company?

Let’s look at some of the survey’s key findings:

·      Post Vacation is Stressful: Two-thirds of responds noted they are either more stressed or have the same level of stress upon returning to the office than they did before vacation.

·      Co-workers are less-than supportive: Only 40% of respondents said their co-workers are supportive and encourage them to take time off

·       Time off varies widely:  Nearly a third of those surveyed (28%) have taken 3 days or less off consecutively over the past year, with another third taking off a full 5 days. Just 1 in 10 take 10 or more consecutive days off.

Post-PTO Stress: Stop Checking Your Email

For those that do take time off, however, the stress of work doesn’t stay away long, as returning to the office appears to offset any relaxation that may have occurred. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of those surveyed are either more stressed or have the same level of stress once they return to the office. The main reported cause of this stress is catching up on missed work, followed by having to readjust to a work mindset and needing to resolve major issues that arose while away. 

While on vacation, half of all employees check in with the office, with 13 percent checking in daily.

Job Satisfaction and Post-Vacation:

There has been no change in the reported stress level upon returning from PTO since Fierce asked this same question of employees five years ago, indicating that post-vacation stress continues to be a concern. These numbers vary, however, when taking into consideration an employee’s current level of job satisfaction. Thirty-eight percent of those unsatisfied with work feel more stressed returning from vacation; just 14 percent of those very satisfied feel the same.

“PTO is a key benefit for any full-time employee, and one that most individuals take to heart as it is an essential component to striking a healthy work-life balance,” said Stacey Engle, Executive Vice President of Marketing at Fierce. “The fact that returning to work is a stressful situation speaks volumes to the lack of support many employees feel both leading up to, and upon returning from vacation. This is an issue all organizations should address to ensure employees are getting the most out of their time outside of the office and returning refreshed and ready to tackle what’s ahead.”

Company Support

Having PTO days is one thing, but receiving the support and encouragement to take those days is something else entirely. Over half of all respondents believe their managers support and encourage them to take time off, however, just 40 percent of employees believe the same of their co-workers.

This discrepancy is even more apparent when breaking down employees by job satisfaction and current income levels. Of those unsatisfied with their current job, 57 percent say no one encourages them or supports them taking PTO; just 18 percent of those very satisfied feel the same. Those in lower pay brackets have a similar experience: 45 percent of individuals in households making $50,000 or less a year say no one encourages them to take vacation, while less than 30 percent of those making $100,000 or more say the same.

 Impact of PTO on Loyalty

As a key benefit for many employees, just over half (56%) of respondents state that additional PTO would make them more loyal to an organization, with the other half not seeing it as a factor. This shifts, however, when taking age, position and tenure into account. The majority of those who are younger, in entry-level positions or are less tenured are receiving less PTO and claim additional PTO would increase their sense of loyalty to their organization.

“While offering a high number of vacation days isn’t possible for every organization, these results show that for those receiving fewer days, upping this number could make a big difference in overall satisfaction,” continued Engle. “This is a key area where open and honest conversations are key; employees need to feel empowered to ask for what they need, and managers must be open to hearing concerns of these employees. While it may not end in an extra week of vacation, the dialogue and mutual understanding will be beneficial in the long run for the individuals, and the company at large.”

 

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