December 22, 2011

Made in America Christmas

It's the last week of the Made in America Christmas gift list my sister and I have been doing. I can't believe Christmas is only a few days away! Luckily my shopping is done....the wrapping is another story! Some of the suggestions these week probably wouldn't make it to you by Christmas, but I think it's great to support American Made products all year long. Be sure to check out 33 Shades of Green for her list this week.

We ordered one of these for my brother who has a pug that he adores. We thought they were cute, but couldn't believe that it was made in the USA! The art work came to us and right on the back it said "Hand laminated, 100% of the materials used in manufacturing are Eco friendly. Manufactured 100% in Vermont USA." They have a ton of dog breeds, and even a few cats to choose from and then you can get your pet's name printed. It is a great looking piece, really sturdy and ready to hang right from the box. What a great gift! And unexpected Made in the USA source!

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Kentucky Cutting Boards, Prices vary
I was doing some research on cutting boards while I did my Christmas shopping and was really happy to find many different brands all made right here in the USA! I love the designs from the Kentucky Cutting Board company. All their cutting boards are hand-crafted in their wood shop in Louisville, Kentucky.

Appalachian Maple Cutting Board with “Louisville style” Fleur de lis inlay, $78

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Pyrex Bakeware, prices vary 

It's good to know a great, American classic is still made in the USA, Pyrex glassware! I love Pyrex glass products and bakeware and have come to think of it as the gold standard for those type of products. I love how you can cook, heat and bake all in one dish. Not to mention, Pyrex holds up over time! I have some old pieces from Grandma and they are in great shape and still looking good. It's easy to find Pyrex products at most kitchen stores, big and small.

Here's what Pyrex, owned by World Kitchen had to say on their website: "World Kitchen has always manufactured Pyrex glass bakeware in the U.S. and our packaging proudly displays the American flag and the “made in the USA” label." Gotta love that. 

I have a lot of the Pyrex basics, but they have some great sets for kitchen "beginners"! What's a kitchen without a Pyrex pie plate after all? And what great prices too.

Pyrex Easy Grab 19 pc bake set, $48.99

I would love a simple casserole dish like this for casseroles or mac & cheese! 2-qt casserole, $12.99

Happy Holidays everyone! Hope you have a great Christmas, Hanukkah and Happy New Year!

December 14, 2011

Words for Wednesday

Created by A Little Ditty

What a good mindset to have...

December 12, 2011

Blooms: Forcing Paperwhites

It's the perfect time of year to plant your paperwhite bulbs! If you plant now you'll have some gorgeous, fragrant blooms in January. It's always so nice to have flowers blooming inside when it's the dead of Winter outside.

If you've never done paperwhite bulbs before, it's really easy. Buy the bulbs at your local garden store, even Home Depot sells them. In Chicago you can also get good ones at Gethsemane Gardens. Find some waterproof containers with no drainage holes in them and add small pebbles (I like to use small, glass vases). Then stick the bulbs about halfway in and add water so that it just touches the bottom of the bulbs. Now all you have to do is check the water level periodically and wait for the flowers. I love the way paperwhites smell. They make the whole room smell good!

Here's my bulbs in progress from last year

December 9, 2011

ELE, Everybody Love Everybody

Saw this video floating around on Facebook. Wow. Made the mistake of watching it at my desk at work and definitely shed some tears/did the silent cry. It's long, but inspirational for sure. This 18 year old is wise beyond his years.

December 8, 2011

Made in America Christmas

It's week two of the Made in America Christmas gift list! Thanks for coming by. Be sure to stop by 33 Shades of Green for her week two list! I've also discovered some great resources along the way, for more ideas be sure to check out USA Love List and This Land. I thought this fact from the ABC World News' "Made in America" series was really interesting: In the 1960s, nine out of every 10 products Americans bought for the holidays were made in America. Today easily more than half of what we buy is foreign-made.

Everything on the gift list today is under $50 and made with care right here in the states. It was hard to narrow it down, but here's the top list:

L.L. Bean Boat and Tote Bag, starting at $19.95
These totes have been made in Maine for over 65 years. This is an American classic, a sturdy canvas tote you can use for anything. And what a perfect, personalized gift when you add monogramming. I have to admit, I am an owner of the Land's End tote and have had it for years. I just recently learned that theirs are imported, meanwhile L.L. Bean is employing people in Maine to make their totes! Not to mention the totes have a 4.8 out of 5 star rating on L.L. Bean's site. I definitely won't be buying one from Land's End again...

Hard at work making totes in Maine! Via

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Cherry Republic Gift Boxes, prices vary
The Cherry Republic is a shop in Northern Michigan that sells all cherry products, using of course Michigan cherries! The store is located in an area in Michigan that is the largest grower of cherries in the country! Their store is awesome if you ever get the chance to go, but you can get all of their products online too. The gift boxes range in price so you can find one for everyone on your list. I especially love the small ones for a hostess gift, boss, co-worker or just general cherry lover!

And these are not just a "gift box." The way they come packaged is so special and even if you only spent $15 it gives the gift a really nice touch. "Each gift box is carefully packed and includes our classic extras: a sprig of cedar greens, a fresh pinecone, a piece of Birch bark, and a handwritten gift card. Just our way of bringing a piece of Northern Michigan to every gift recipient." Also, ship any size gift box anywhere in the USA for a flat $5 shipping rate.

Little Six Gift Box (their most popular sampler), $43.70.
Contains salsa, dried cherries, choc covered cherries, cherry nut mix, cherry jam and dark chocolate covered cherry nut mix. Yum!

And for something cute and small, Jolly Gesture Gift Box, $13.90
Cherry bam jam and choc covered cherries, hard to go wrong there!

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Englady Jewelery on Etsy, prices start at $18
Etsy is always such a great place to find things made in the USA. Talk about supporting small businesses! I had a necklace very similar to the one below from Englady (it had gold instead of the copper) on my wish list last year and it is just gorgeous and really high quality. Such a unique gift too, they are made from real leaves.

Copper Aspen & Silver Birch Leaf Necklace, $42

Japanese Maple Leaf necklace, $36

Hope this inspires some Made in America buying! That's it for this week's list, see you back here for Week Three! 

See Week 1, Made in America Christmas Gift Guide here. And 33 Shades of Green has some awesome kid's ideas this week, head on over!

December 1, 2011

Made in America Christmas

Happy December! Starting today my sister @ 33 Shades of Green and I are doing a Christmas gift guide with our favorite Made in America products! I can't wait to share my ideas with you guys -- and what could be better than supporting companies, big and small, that make everything right here in America. We'll post every Thursday from now until Christmas so keep checking back here and at 33 Shades of Green for some great ideas.

First up on the list, a mild obsession of mine, Tervis Tumblers! Why is it every time I get on that site I want to buy a full monogrammed set of every size tumbler?! A little background on Tervis -- they were started in 1946 when two engineers in Detroit (let's hear it for the D!) found a way to create a permanently sealed, double walled tumbler that insulated cold and hot drinks, with no condensation. Pretty genius if you ask me. Fast forward 65 years (!!) and Tervis tumblers are still kicking it. "To this day, all Tervis products are proudly made in North Venice, Florida, where over 600 people are employed through this family-owned-and-operated business."

My sister and I both have Michigan State Tervis tumblers and they are a staple on every road trip, beach day, cottage time, tailgate, etc. The Tervis Collegiete collection is great for gift giving, they carry designs for a ton of college and universities. Who wouldn't want to sport one of these at the next tailgate or *ahem* in the Spartans case, perhaps a Rose Bowl game....

Thanks for the beauty shot sis!
24 Ounce Tumbler with clear travel lid

The tumblers come in almost any kind of design or theme you could think of, NFL teams, patriotic, seasonal, etc. My personal favorite? The monogrammed... What a great Christmas gift! (Hint, hint Mom.) Since they come in a variety of sizes, there is a gift for almost any budget. I think a single monogrammed cup with matching lid would be a perfect small gift or for something bigger, a full set of 4 cups. My wish list design:

And just in case you're still thinking to yourself, what is so special about these tumblers? They don't "sweat", no condensation rings on tables, are dishwasher safe, virtually unbreakable, meltdown resistant, and keep cold drinks extra cold and hot drinks extra warm.

One more reason why Tervis rocks and makes a perfect gift? Lifetime Guarantee. Need I say more? It's like the gift that keeps giving should anything happen to your tumbler years down the road.

Size comparison: 16 ounce vs. 24 ounce
Keep checking the Tervis site this week and for the next 12 days, they just started a 12 days of Christmas promotion with a new deal each day. Happy Made in America Christmas!

*Company information and monogrammed image sourced from

November 30, 2011

Words for Wednesday

Created by A Little Ditty

Love this quote. I think this is from the early days of Grey's because I remember it from college. I'm quite certain I had this in my AOL profile for a while... Do you guys remember that?? AOL instant messenger was all the rage back then :) I used to spend so much crafting the perfect "away message". Lol. Then Facebook took over...

This quote also reminds me of moving to Chicago. I didn't know a single person here when I moved! One girl from an advertising class in college was all I knew of, (funny enough we became good friends) but I still took the plunge and moved out here for a job anyway. Probably one of the biggest "chances" I've taken, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions too!

November 23, 2011

Words for Wednesday


Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving and plenty to be thankful for!

November 22, 2011

The Weekender

Happy Tuesday! This 2 and a half day work week is doing wonders for my mood. I'm way more chipper than usual today :)  Half day tomorrow and then I'm on the road to Michigan! Can't wait for a relaxing weekend away from the city and work. My sister was here this past weekend and we had so much fun together! It started off Thursday with the Mat Kearney concert at House of Blues. It was pretty cool, we had floor tickets and we were only one row back from the stage. Before the concert we had apps and drinks at Rockit -- one of my favorite places. Their food is so delicious.

Blurry pics, but you get the idea. I've mentioned Mat Kearney on here before, I love his music. If you need some new stuff to listen to, check him out. His whole new album is awesome, here are a few of my favs and one from his last album:

Hey Mama, from the "Young Love" album
Undeniable, from the "Nothing Left to Lose" album
Young Dumb and In Love, from the "Young Love" album

Speaking of music, do you guys use Spotify? I am obsessed. I was never a huge Pandora lover and what I like about Spotify is you pick the music. If you want to play "We found Love" by Rihanna, that's exactly what it plays. I always found that so annoying on Pandora, it never plays the exact song you want! It is set-up just like iTunes and I haven't found a song they don't have yet. You can add entire albums to your music or just make up your own playlists.

And it's free! You do have to listen to some ads, but it's still pretty great. Just don't sync to Facebook or it will randomly post whatever songs you are listening to on FB. Nobody needs to announce on FB that I've found the Stevie Wonder album and can't stop listening to some of the songs... Here's what it looks like on my computer:

Back to food, a favorite topic! Tried a couple of great new places this past weekend, I'm going to be blogging about them soon. Mexican and Italian, what other kind of food does one need?!

November 2, 2011

Words for Wednesday

Is it just me or is Pinterest a constant source of inspiration and motivation? It seems a little counterproductive to spend time surfing Pinterest to get workout motivation, but somehow it works! I added this to my "Work it Out" board. I've been on the working out bender for over 3 months now and am definitely seeing some changes and improvements -- and some lbs are gone too :)

Best of all, at this point I think working out 3-4 times a week has become a habit. Here's hoping I can keep up with it during the dark, cold winter when I really want to go into hibernation!!

November 1, 2011

Chicago Sidewalk Planters: Fall 2011

Hard to believe we're well into Fall again, where did Summer go? Sometimes I don't exactly welcome Fall with open arms like everyone else -- it's too hard for me to let go of Summer! But I do love to check out the Fall colors and what people are putting in their Fall planters outside. I've gathered up a few of my favorites from around the city. There are lots of great ideas in the 2010 edition of Fall planters too!

This planter had eucalyptus in it and smelled so good!

The simple mums and cabbage were my favorite. Love that shade of mums and how it picks up the colors from the cabbage so perfectly.

Gorgeous colors!

So many mums along Michigan Ave --

I like the idea of tying corn stalks around the tree trunks from this planter downtown.

And if mums aren't your thing, a nice variety of plants in the pots outside the Omni Hotel. They've used a Jerusalem Cherry plant, which I've been seeing around a lot lately. It adds some great color!
Jerusalem Cherry Plant

Another favorite...

We may not have too many "yards" in Chicago, but we do put together some nice planters! Hope this inspires some Fall planting and decorating of your own!

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Chicago Sidewalk Planters
Fall Planters 2009, 2010
Holiday Planters 2009
Spring Planters 2010

October 27, 2011

Michigan Love: Sleeping Bear Dunes

A few weeks ago I took a trip back to my home state Michigan, for a wine weekend up North. You probably know by now that I have lots of love for Michigan. Moving away tends to do that to you. Never thought I would have such a soft spot for my hometown and actually want to move back at some point. Living in the hustle and bustle of the city, I ALWAYS appreciate returning to the open spaces and slower pace. Not to mention, Wine Country! If you've never been wine tasting in the Traverse City, Leelanau County area you have to visit! Believe it or not there are many award winning wines up there, and it just keeps getting better. Plus the scenery is amazing. It's about a 5 and a half hour drive up there from Chicago -- not too bad. You wind up the coast for most of the way so there are a lot of great places to stop off.

On our way back down (when we were all wined-out), we stopped at the Most Beautiful Place in America (as voted by GMA), Sleeping Bear Dunes! What a beautiful Fall day, it looked like Summer and I wanted to jump in Lake Michigan.

The water is the most gorgeous shades of blues and stretches on forever. I think I see Chicago across the shore.... :)

How gorgeous is this? Hard to believe this is all in Michigan, isn't it?

My cutie Mom, Hi Nan!

Mom & Big Sis

There are a few different lookouts suspended over the Lake, they offer some pretty spectacular views.

One of my favorites, the clouds were so cool that day.

Anyone feeling me on Most Beautiful Place? It's quite the title, but it's not hard to see how Sleeping Bear Dunes got it. Sigh, another great weekend in Pure Michigan. What about you guys? Any places you'd vote most beautiful in your state? Or did I tempt anyone to plan a visit to Northern Michigan? (Yo, Pure Michigan Tourisim board, some commission wouldn't be out of the question....haha )


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