Spread the Love

January 23, 2010

I happen to be a real softy for Valentine’s Day; I love it!  Not just for my husband, but also for the love of my friends and family too.  Do something special this year for the ones you love.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money either and here are a few ideas.

These cookies are a fantastic gift idea for anyone special in your life.  You can order these from Sugar Mama in Palos Heights, IL  708-935-2613.  Think ahead and make sure to place your order before  Feb 6th! All cookies are $1.85 each, bagged with ribbon is an extra $.25 per cookie. 



Have a romantic night at home with you special someone.  You can cook a nice dinner for two and drink delicious wine.  After dinner snuggle up with a big cup of hot coco and homemade cookies for dessert.  All these items can be found at Crate and Barrel. 

Have fun with Valentine’s Day….I know a lot of people think it’s a cheesy holiday but it’s something to really look forward to during the cold winter months! 

What are some of your favorite Valentine’s traditions?

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Year Round Nature

January 21, 2010

Venues with a view are in high demand.  So many of my client’s put windows at the top of their venue wish list.  Fortunately Chicago has many fantastic venues with a great view and The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is one of my favorites.  

 The Nature Museum has many great features including indoor and outdoor access.  The ravine (top left photo) is stunning and perfect for an outdoor ceremony or cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.  The ravine has nice shade so your guests will not get too hot. 


The Nature Museum also has a huge terrace on the 2nd floor that can be 100% open air and can seat up to 200 guests.   You can also tent the terrace  for year round events.  When the terrace is tented you can seat up to 300 guests.  (This photo was taken by Sarah Alair) 


The South Gallery has floor to ceiling windows and is spectaular year round.  In the summer and fall the surrounding trees are in bloom and rich with colors.  In the winter the branches from the trees and snow on the ground create a very cool, romantic look.  Pair it with branches for your floral and you have an instant theme.  (This photo was taken by Becky Hill


The Nature Museum has breathtaking views of Lincoln Park and North Pond.  The museum also features  the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven; which your guests are able to enjoy during cocktail hour.  Consider this unique venue for your wedding ceremony and reception or your next social/corporate event! 

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January is the perfect month to get started with a healthy new you!  So many people set New Years resolutions to get fit and to live a healthy lifestyle.  Hiring a personal trainer focused on your goals can help you stay motivated. 

Mindy Frakes is a certified personal trainer and she is fantastic!  She will whip you into shape in the privacy of your own home. 

“Let me help you be the BEST you can be!  In home personal training with a focus on weight loss, muscle tone, and flexibility.  No more excuses, I will bring fitness to you!”



This couple has a small gym in their condo building but Mindy can work wonders in your living room.  She will bring work out equipment with her….all you really need is some free weights.  It is fun to work out together!



















Here are some tips from Mindy:

1) BE REALISTIC – Losing weight and getting in shape is part of a healthy life style, so don’t make it unhealthy by trying to lose too much weight too quickly!  A healthy steady loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week is what you should strive for.

2) SET A DEADLINE – All it takes is some simple math to figure out how much you can lose by your wedding date. 30 pounds?  Leave at least 6 months….. 15 pounds?  Leave at least 3 months.  Make shorter goals within the big picture to track your progress

3) WRITE IT DOWN – Seeing everything in front of you makes it all real.  Write down EVERYTHING, what you eat, how you feel, how much exercise you’re getting, ect….. 

4) UP THE ANTE – Increase your intensity of your cardio and strength training weekly.  Brides shouldn’t be afraid of increasing their weight load.  This is required in order to challenge your body and take it past the plateau.   Increasing strength training does not equal a masculine physique

5) CHANGE YOUR MIND – Think of exercise as calming.  With all the chaos that comes with being a bride, take comfort in the fact that you can control how your body will look in your fabulous dress on your big day!   Work hard and you can do this!!!!!

***** SMILE –  Get enough sleep, exercise intensely,  eat well balanced meals, and enjoy this time.  Keeping a well balanced life will make you a happy glowing bride!

Call Mindy at 773-914-4508 to set up your assessment today


“The first session is a consultation between trainer and client. It will consist of a question and answer portion to ensure the client’s fitness goals, concerns, and needs are assessed.  Once assessed we will start to make a personalized plan of action to get you where you want to be as quick as possible!”

Private Lesson

1 session = $60

Buy 10 or more sessions price is reduced to $55


Duo training – Train with a friend or your Fiancé

 1 session = $80

 Buy 10 or more = $75

Small group – 3-5 participants

 1 session = $25 per client

 **All sessions are 60 minutes long

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Congratulations to Kim and Zach!!!  Not only for recently getting married but also for creating the perfect combination of traditional and modern style.  Their traditional wedding really had a lot of great modern features. 

To start, the couple chose a fantastic venue.  The Grand Ballroom at the Joliet Union Station is a National Historic building and perfect for your wedding or corporate event.  The Grand Ballroom can hold up to 350 guests and features amazing architecture, marble staircases and beautiful 45 foot ceilings with chandeliers. 

The couple chose a really refreshing color palate of black, white and light blue with accents of bright green.  It all pulled together beautifully.  My favorite aspect of this wedding is the use of the modern black and white pattern that was showcased within many of the details from invitations, ceremony programs, linens and the wedding cake display.  As you know, I LOVE patterns and texture.  Kim and Zach’s eye for style really helped create a modern look yet they were able to keep the wedding traditional. 

The bridal party looked sharp, sophisticated and perfect for summer.  I love how the bridesmaids stand out in their blue dresses and yet the reception decor really focuses more on the black, white and green.  Kim didn’t go overboard with the blue and it really worked well to incorporate more than just two colors. 

This picture of the bride with her sister/Matron of Honor and her mom is so beautiful.    Even the mother of the bride fits into the overall style of the wedding in her fantastic black and white dress (very chic). 

If you find that you have always wanted a traditional wedding but you are more of a modern girl, use some of Kim’s ideas to create the best of both worlds.  Have fun with your style and you’ll discover the perfect look for your big day!


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There are many important elements that go into the perfect wedding reception.  Of course you want the decor to be fabulous and the menu to be delicious but don’t forget about the music!  The right music can make or break a party.  Hiring the right DJ is extremely important for the life of your party.  You want to make sure the dance floor is packed and all your guests are having the time of their lives.

I’ve heard this comment a few times in the past couple of years “I’m just going to plug in my Ipod.” This is not a good idea and here are a few quick reasons why.  1) Your Ipod can’t make simple introductions and announcements the way your DJ can.  2) Your Ipod can’t feel the energy of the crowd and play appropriate songs accordingly and 3) Your Ipod can’t take requests. 

When I say “Listen to Your Own Style” I mean figure out your music style before signing up with your music vendor.  Many companies will of course give you lists of songs they have but they may not have some of your all time favorite songs that you love.  Not all companies are flexible with adding your songs to their list but it doesn’t hurt to ask.  Toast and Jam is extremely flexible and knowledgeable about music and will guide you in the right direction.  They will also add any songs you want that they might not have within their collection. 



These DJ’s are all from Toast and Jam and they seriously get the dance floor going.  No cheesy tux wearing MC here!

Customizing the music to fit your style is just another fantastic way to personalize your event.  You don’t have to only play the Rat Pack all night long…..get creative and have your DJ mix in your style along with the all time faves (Shout anyone?)

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Cupcake Stands

January 10, 2010

Cupcakes have become a very popular dessert.  Cupcakes are super cute, trendy and perfect for any occasion.  Chicago is extremely fortunate to have so many amazing bakeries that specialize in cupcakes.  Some bakeries do not provide cupcake stands; many of my clients have asked me where they can get one or how they can make one.

Raise the Cake specializes in unique cake stands including cup cake stands.  You can even custom create one to match your personal style or event colors.  The two examples below are from www.raisethecake.com

I love the freedom to create the prefect stand for every event.  Raise the Cake has all kinds of color and pattern options; great for weddings, birthday parties, anniversary parties etc…

Many bakeries do provide cupcake stands but keep Raise the Cake in mind if you would like to design something special.  They can be simple, elegant or modern; whatever you want!

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What a View

January 7, 2010

We are getting so much snow; it makes me want to just stay inside and look at it from the window.  Even though it is so pretty it is really making me wish it was summer!  To try and get me out of the January winter blues I decided to write about a great venue with a great view.  The Affinia Hotel has a hot little roof top deck called the C-View.  Great for cocktails in the summer after work.  The Affinia Hotel has a great location at Superior and Michigan Ave. 

This venue is also a great spot for an event or wedding.  Just inside from the roof top deck is a great little bar lounge.  The entire space is available to rent out for your private party.

This venue would be fantastic for a private event.  They also have a wonderful restaurant on the first floor of the Affinia called C-House which has an award-winning chef. The entire restaurant can be rented for a private party.

Consider something a little different for your next event!

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