International Women’s Day

Celebrating Women’s Day with bold and inspiring images on Instagram from these amazing friends, colleagues, and people I want to meet.

wall-street-womens-day-dorka1

Via @dorka1

gunnerandlux-womens-day

Via @gunnerandlux

inkmeetspaper-courage-notebook

Via @inkmeetspaper

womens-day-trisherber

Via @trisherber

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Via @thepincause

instagram-office-nyc-womens-day

Via @mikeyk

wear-red-thepodolls

Via @thepodolls

coco-chanel-quote

Via @sketchlondon

What’s inspiring you today?

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Girl Power Reading

Rad American Women A-ZRad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries by Kate Schatz

These books. Just what we all need to move forward and rise up. You’ll find pages and pages of purposeful words and pictures that honor intellect, bravery, creativity, beauty, and hope. If you read with your child, know that there are lots of opportunities to pretend play and create some of the best (and original) costumes. I’ve read some with my kids and a couple are sitting in our living room ready to be discussed. The Gutsy Girl was a recent birthday gift for my daughter and now has a special spot on her nightstand. And I’m sure there’s more out there. What are your favorite girl power books?

Rad Women WorldwideRad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History by Kate Schatz (Sequel to Rad American Women A-Z)

Rosie Revere EngineerRosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

The Gutsy Girl by Caroline PaulThe Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure by Caroline Paul

Women in Science by Rachel IgnotofskyWomen in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea BeatyAda Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty

Good Night Stories for Rebel GirlsGood Night Stories for Rebel Girls by by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

My First Book of Girl PowerDC Super Heroes: My First Book of Girl Power by Julie Merberg Board Book

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A Few Days in Chicago

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When you’re spending a long no-kids weekend in Chicago and want a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood – close to Broadway shows, good eats, Magnificent Mile and the Art Institute of Chicago – I love the Langham. Located along the Chicago River, this modern yet comfortable hotel has just enough bells and whistles to keep you pampered but also not feeling like you’re tip-toeing around in a museum. The hotel has lots of small living-room-inspired spaces to put your feet up and a nice bar to warm up because baby it was cold outside!

It was November, and we were celebrating an anniversary gift to ourselves, seeing Hamilton. Was it worth the quick trip from the west coast? Yes and YES. I won’t go into my critique of the show because I’d just be echoing all the best reviews. As for securing tickets, I have to thank the representative at American Express Platinum Card Concierge. She was fun to work with, very resourceful, and got the job done within hours.

Here’s a list of where we dined.

The Langham | 330 N Wabash Avene, Chicago, IL 60611 | 312.923.9988

PRIVATEBANK THEATRE
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Yup, I had to get the ubiquitous waiting-in-line picture. It was all so surreal for my husband and I, before and even more so post-show.

Hamilton at PrivateBank Theatre | 18 W. Monroe Street Chicago, IL 60603

BOKA
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Our celebration continued at Boka where we were fortunate to have Augustus take care of us. It was like the kind of care you get at Lazy Bear but on a smaller scale since it was just the two of us. He was so impressive with his knowledge on both food and wine, was polished, and super friendly. Post-dinner drinks at the bar with craft cocktails and a painting of the eminent Bill Murray concluded our five-star experience.

Boka | 1729 N Halsted Street., Chicago, IL 60614 | 312.337.6070

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GODDESS AND THE BAKER
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I LOVE this place! Good morning espresso, artisan pastries, a fine selection of small-batch chocolates, and yummy avocado on toast. And the cafe was only a few blocks from our hotel. What a bonus!

Goddess and the Baker | 33 S. Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60603 | 312.877.5176

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SALERO
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Spanish cuisine with a contemporary vibe at this neighborhood gem. Lots of delicious small plates as well as platos grande, like the paella mixto (probably one of the best I’ve ever had). For a standout dish on the pintxos (casual bar) menu, get the duck confit empanadas.

Salero | 621 W Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60661 | 312.466.1000

MOMOTARO
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Our last dinner was at Momotaro. We were one of the first guests of the evening but within one hour, our elbows were practically rubbing with next-table diners. And I understand why. Great cocktails, fresh and flavorful sushi (served with mild-temperature rice that would make Jiro proud), outstanding cooked dishes, and an all-around fun atmosphere.

My welcome cocktail was the popular Monk’s Journey, which consisted of Ketel One vodka, Chareau Aloe liqueur, matcha green tea, and lime. Bottles of sake followed. As for the food, I spent more time savoring each dish than capturing images. Though, as you’ll see, we had time for a few good ones.

Momotaro | 820 W Lake Street, Chicago, IL 60607 | 312.733.4818

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Dandelion Chocolate Tasting

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We had the pleasure of attending a private tasting at Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco where Todd (co-founder) and Cynthia, from my favorite small-batch chocolate maker, gave a comprehensive tour of how they make chocolate. From sourcing cacao beans and sorting nibs to tempering and hand wrapping, the journey was fascinating. So many surprising flavors coming from various regions, including Venezuela, Dominican Republic, and Madagascar. If you appreciate the bean-to-bar movement, I highly recommend the tasting or just visiting Dandelion Chocolate. If you can’t get to San Francisco, they do have an online shop where you can purchase bars and pre-order their 2016 Advent Calendar. It’s a fairly large work of art, and inside each San Francisco landmark door is a treat made by one of their favorite local chocolatiers. My kind of countdown! In the meantime, here are some images from the tasting. Enjoy!

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A view from the loft at the San Francisco location.

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After tasting the different Dandelion Chocolate bars, we did an interesting blind tasting comparing other brands including Patric, Åkesson’s, and TCHO as well as some big brand names that surprisingly use cocoa powder instead of real chocolate. I was also stuck by the high levels of sugar used in some of the more manufactured chocolate bars. I couldn’t even finish the small tasting samples, it was cloyingly sweet.

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Inside an actual cacao pod. What does this fruit taste like? The fruit has the consistency of a banana and has a mild citrusy flavor. The Dandelion Chocolate team have worked with cacao producers in Venezuela, Belize, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, and more.

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The bean slicer is used to test each cacao for the best quality beans.

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We tasted the blended sugar and cacao from one of the melanging cylinders. The nibs and sugar grind for 24 hours before they are stored in blocks. That’s my spoonful before it was quickly devoured. #betterthanNutella

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The final product packaged in some of the most beautiful paper. When Dandelion Chocolate opened a pop-up in Japan, the local team loved the paper so much, they created a small stationery collection with the designs.

Dandelion Chocolate
740 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
415.349.0942
Website

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Emo, Selfie-Taking Mannequins

complex-style-selfie

A sad statement on our current culture or easy last-minute costume? I’m not judging, these mannequins look like they take better selfies than I.  Read article on Complex

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Cruises Far Away

I’ve never been on a cruise, by choice. However, the new ad campaign from Celebrity Cruises has peaked my interest. Bravo on embracing worldly views with gorgeous graphics.

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Ice Cream Social & Gummy Bears

ice-cream-socialTo me, this was the perfect day and set up for a back-to-school ice-cream social. Our kids are spoiled having these awesome moms who put together such a fun and delicious event.

I wanted to thank them but not with the usual flowers or wine. And I wanted to actually make something, a DIY gift. While perusing Pinterest, I found this rosé wine gummy bear recipe on the dessert blog, Sprinkle Bakes. I couldn’t resist.

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The recipe is easy to follow. You’ll want these cute gummy bear molds, but what a bonus (especially if you have kids). A few notes… Measure out the gelatin powder if you cannot find individual .25 ounce packets. Mine came out a bit chewy from too much gelatin. Use a toothpick to add the pink food coloring. Mine were more red. I squeezed out too many drops. The Sparkling Wine candy flavoring oil is a must for retaining an authentic taste.

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Finally, package these little treats in vellum envelopes and seal it with your favorite washi tape.

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