Category Archives: Holiday

Valentine’s Day Recap

I had an amazing Valentine’s Day in Chicago last night!! The day started with a coworker lunch at Uncle Bub‘s BBQ in Westmont where they were giving out carnations to the ladies…

followed by a work place delivery of Garrett’s Popcorn (Chicago Mix – cheese + caramel).

After a horrible bout with traffic, my guy ordered an Uber, who’s amazing driver Mark presented me with a beautiful rose and a note from Uber.

The highlight of the day was the amazing pre-fixe dinner at Bar Pastoral – a cheese and wine bistro in the Lakeview neighborhood. The menu is below, followed by the amazing dishes that were served…

We started with the spiked cupid cocktails and mini pancakes with creme fresh and strawberry jam.

The hand pulled mozzarella was my fav dish, by far! It was amazing…

Proscuitto and cheese curds with arugula…

Beef cheeks and celery root puree…

… everything was topped off with cake pops…

…and they sent us home with some salted chocolate chip cookies for a cab-ride snack!

All in all, it was a great night and I can’t wait to go back!!

We also celebrated this weekend at the Polar Beer Fest at Rock Bottom Brewery in the Loop. While I’m not a cold weather person, I layered on the Nike Pro Hyperwarm and Under Armour Cold Gear to keep me warm. I’m also not a beer drinker so it was more about the friends and festivities for me.

End of the World Suvival Kit – designerstyle

The best part of the holiday season at work is the amazing and tasty gifts our partners send us. There are cookies, sausages, popcorn, chocolates, cheese varieties, etc… and now, an end of the world survival kit!

While the useful and tasty items included are cool, the real start here are the slogans and comments. This must have been a truly exciting project for everyone involved! I took a few photos for your entertainment…

The box came in a very strong black bag with a warning label “Open in case of Armageddon” and below it “Radiation dampening and RF-shielded bag. In case of emergency, bag may be inflated and used as a floatation device.”

The box was labeled for the “Apocalypse” and sealed extra tight…

The dramatic dark colors, “scientific” fonts and extra features such as the aluminum panel all gave us second thoughts as to whether we might actually need this in a few days!!
A close-up of the contents… whisky (with a note to remember that the bottle is “portable”), rope (not to be used too close to the whiskey), duct tape with a “not edible” warning label, soap – to keep it clean, anti-rad pills (i.e. tic tacs), a glow stick which can also be used for light during surgical procedures, a chocolate bar that provides an aphrodisiac if needed, and a box of matches to burn the chocolate wrapper and prevent any zombies from following the smell. I can’t forget the coffee labeled “Stay awake, stay alive!” and lastly, the white flag to wave, in the event you need to surrender!

In the event you aren’t sure of what qualifies as “Armageddon”, there is a graphic-list of possible scenarios…

Hands down the BEST and most creative I’ve seen so far! Kudos to the amazing designers of Hexanine!

*bonus for all of you marketing and brand geeks – Check out their book Damn Good: Top Designers Discuss Their All-Time Favorite Projects

2011 Christmas Wish List

This year has been such a rough year, my Christmas spirit has been less than “cheery”. My parents have been asking for my list for weeks and I just couldn’t seem to come up with anything good. Recently, I looked through the Nordstrom Holiday catalogs and came across the awesome items listed below. Most of them won’t fit in my parent’s ideal shopping budget for me (LOL) but they’re fun items to dream about…

Yves Saint Laurent Large Satchel

Yves Saint Laurent Large Satchel

Prada ‘Baroque’ Round Sunglasses

Prada 'Baroque' Round Sunglasses

Valentino ‘Rockstud’ Open Toe Pump

Valentino 'Rockstud' Open Toe Pump

MICHELE ‘Cloette Fleur’ Diamond & Mother-of-Pearl Watch Case

MICHELE 'Cloette Fleur' Diamond & Mother-of-Pearl Watch Case

Michael Kors ‘Gia’ Ostrich Embossed Clutch

Michael Kors 'Gia' Ostrich Embossed Clutch

Vera Wang Lavender ‘Sammy’ Peep Toe Pump

Vera Wang Lavender 'Sammy' Peep Toe Pump

Lagos Diamond & Caviar™ Station Bracelet

Lagos Diamond & Caviar™ Station Bracelet

MARC JACOBS Zip Clutch Wallet

MARC JACOBS Zip Clutch Wallet

MARC BY MARC JACOBS ‘Petal to the Metal’ Zip Clutch Wallet

MARC BY MARC JACOBS 'Petal to the Metal' Zip Clutch Wallet

Echo ‘Touch’ Tech Gloves

Echo 'Touch' Tech Gloves

Burberry Brit Trench Coat

Burberry Brit Trench Coat

UGG® Australia ‘Ansley’ Slipper (Women)

UGG® Australia 'Ansley' Slipper (Women)

…and last but not least…. this Gilt/Jetsetter week long cooking excursion in Italy would totally make my year!

Cooking Holiday in AbruzzoCooking Holiday in Abruzzo2Cooking Holiday in Abruzzo3

That’s about all I can come up with… It’s a sad day when a fashionista isn’t moved by shiny dresses and sparkly heels. I gotta get outta this funk soon! But enough about me… So what’s on your designer Christmas wish list???

New Year’s Eve–Family Style

My New Year’s Eve celebration have ranged from wild hotel parties to late night church services to being boo’ed up on the couch with a movie. But in my (not so) many years as an adult, I’ve never had a New Year’s Eve celebration that involved little kids. Enter 2010.

I decided to use the plethora of flight vouchers I had earned during the year and spend the holidays with my family. For Christmas, I headed east to Detroit and for the New Year I headed west to Minneapolis where my sistercousin Gabbi, her husband and their two WONDERFUL kids (ages 2 and 5) were finishing their holiday vacation with lots of fun and tons of love. It was definitely different, but it really reminded me not only how wonderful my family is, but also how much fun kids can really be.

The 2 year old is truly a SUPER model. This chick has “diva” written ALL OVER HER. I don’t have a clue where it comes from, but she loves to walk in heels, carry big purses, sing/perform and go outside. In Minnesota. In January. And I think its just because she likes to dress up in her cute winter coat and hat. She also likes to take pictures. Of herself. I don’t even know how she figured it out but there were about 25 self-taken photos of her face in my Blackberry by the time I left. The last pic is a drama queen moment… which she is known for. Its actually quite entertaining. She’s like a little Mariah Carey in the making. Oh,and she made me a Fresh Beat Band fan too. LOL


I did a little shopping and found her this cute Calvin Klein Jeans girls’ outfit on clearance at Macy’s (much cheaper than shown here). It was adorable on her!

ck girls vest set

The 5 year old is a kid GENIUS and sports analyst/fanatic. I’ve never seen a kid WANT to watch so much ESPN – all day long if he could! He absolutely loves all sports and can tell you the score/time/coach/top players/bracket for pretty much every game coming on – both college and pro (see pic below where he is cheering on Wisconsin). He was a champ and made it all the way to midnight, although he did get a nap in… but we won’t count it against him. I like to cuddle with him and I always stock up on hugs and kisses since I don’t get to see him as often as I did when I lived in Minnesota and was his “nanny”. I love the 3rd pic where you can see our freckles 🙂


It was such a fun, peaceful, relaxing weekend, I didn’t want to leave… and I’m already looking forward to going back! I miss them a lot *sad face*


Oh,and you might notice that I CUT MY HAIR! I went with bangs, which I hadn’t had since I was about…. oh, 10 or 12, maybe? When I cut them in Sharon’s bathroom with her safety scissors and got yelled at by my parents and made up some lie about my hair falling out. LOL…. oh to be young again! So my item of the day, almost exactly 3 years after the last time I posted this item of the day – A HAIRCUT!!! And once again, the beautiful work was done by none other than Mr Brian Graham himself. Check him out at Brian Graham Salon or check out their Facebook page… if you’re going to be in Minnesota, save up some money, pay him a visit and post a pic for us to see!


Christmas Wish List 2010

Yes people, its that time again… all the things I want but won’t get this Christmas. You know the drill and if not, you can check years 2006 and 2008. So here goes….

For this years Work Holiday Party, it would be great to show up in something as un-engineer-like as possible… you know, really cater to my inner fashionista. The Sunbird silk-gazar dress by ROKSANDA ILINCIC is something I would never get up the courage to buy, but can easily imagine myself walking into a crowded room draped in it. The fluorescent yellow is very unexpected. I love it.

ROKSANDA ILINCIC sunbird dress

For the vacationing girls’ night out, we usually tend to relive our college days through our attire, and this Jenny stretch-cotton mini dress dress by Preen Line is the perfect balance of the “young me” and the classy grown up me. My girls would love it.

preen line jenny cotton

This year I because a fan of TOUS jewelry, especially the teddy bears pendants. While I like many of the options available, I definitely have to include the black diamond Bubble Bear pendant on my wish list!

tous bubble bear black

After my canopy zip-line experience in Mexico, I’m ready to take it a step further and hit the rainforest in Coast Rica. The Rincon de La Vieja Adventure  is right up my alley… of course, that includes getting to Costa Rica, which is a minor major obstacle.

rincon-de-la-vieja-adventure-costa-rica 1 rincon-de-la-vieja-adventure-costa-rica 2

rio saverge

In one of the recent episodes of Giuliana and Bill (one of my fav reality couples) Bill went to Martin Katz to buy Giuliana a nice band… it was gorgeous and inspired me to check out the website. Turns out they have a huge collection of stackable diamond microbands. I’d love a few of these in various colors…. and maybe a couple in the black diamond to match my TOUS bubble bear!

martin katz micro bands

My current HP laptop is holding out very well, but like any gadget geek, I am always ready to upgrade. The new HP ENVY 15 laptop is right up my alley! The HP store only shows the 14 inch (too small) and the 17 inch (a little on the heavy side) so I’m not even sure if the 15” is still an option… but for the right features (i.e. Beats by Dr Dre limited edition 14” or the 3D enhanced 17″) I’d be willing to settle in either direction.

 hp envy 15

For years I’ve said I would love to take cooking classes. Ideally I’d like to take a few months worth of classes in Italy, Spain and/or Mexico!!!!! But until then, the good ol Chicago Metro Area will work just fine. Rest assured, I will still keep my eye open for the specials that occasionally pop up on…. and hopefully I’ll no longer be scared of turkeys (see pic below from Thanksgiving 2008). The Chopping Block

Flav’our Cooking School

Chez Madelaine

Cooking Fools


For about 5 years now I have been obsessed with this gold Roberto Cavalli snake watch. It has seemingly NEVER gone on sale (yes, I check a few times each year) but someday I may have to just go for it. I can already picture it on my wrist….

roberto cavalli snake watch

…and while we’re talking watches, the new Movado Bold watches are a great fun take on the classic style! I love the black and white styles equally!

movado bold chrono watchmovado bold blackmovado bold white

While in Nassau recently, I caught a glimpse of the “Mad Summer” yacht, docked near the cruise ships. I don’t really need a yacht of my own, but I’d love a year, or even a week, on this one – with my family along, of course! See it in all its glory here:


Saving the best wish for last…

…my greatest wish would be the health and safety of all of my loved ones as we go into 2011!


Christmas Round-up (Late)

I had a wonderful Christmas back home with the family! It was like the “gadget Christmas”, which for a geek like me is heaven! I got a Wii game system, a new Canon Digital Elph camera, some makeup from Sephora, a Macy’s giftcard, cash (who-hoo) and a Links of London watch. All GREAT gifts!! I got to spent time with the family and had dinner with my girls!

The watch was the true surprise, as I have been wanting a new watch for quite some team (I keep posting them on the blog around Christmas but I never went out to look for one). I have blindly walked past the Links of London counter at Macy’s numerous times, yet never paused to look down. Well, now i can’ stop looking at my wrist. I may even sleep in it tonight! (Ok, not really, but I hate to ever take it off!)

Here is a pic… I’ll have to post one wearing it later!

Count Your Blessings!

While there is much to be concerned about with the economy, the job market, the uncalled for crime in many cities, and the values of many of our youth Thanksgiving is a time to stop complaining for a moment and reflect on the GOOD in your life. For me, 2009 has been an interesting year but nonetheless, I have PLENTY to be thankful for! 

Family – my family has always been an important part of my life but a lot of that focus was on immediate family for a long time. Through Facebook I have connected with (and even met) cousins and other extended family whom I rarely ever talk to. We share event photos, talk about what’s new and old in our lives and have even made plans to connect when we are in the same city. I have heard a lot of people talk about their lack of interest in Facebook and other social networking site, but I’m a believer in the connections it can provide. Then its up to you to do the work.

Friends – the Lupus walk this fall was an awesome opportunity to support my best friend of 25 years as she continues to win her battles with lupus. I reconnected with old roommates, sorority sisters I hadn’t seen in years and took WAY too many girls’ trips for one year! Despite the incurred debt, the memories are irreplaceable and I wouldn’t trade them for the world!

Love – my relationship with “Bobby” continues to grow and we have found true love but have an even greater friendship and appreciation for each other. This year has been a bit of a struggle for us as individuals with a lot of big decisions that we’ve started to make together. Most of my friends would never have used the word “romantic” to describe me, but for some reason, he brings out a lot of traits that were hidden for so long.

Career – while I can’t go into much detail, all I can say is I am setting myself up for bigger and better opportunities career-wise that will take me on an entirely new path in life. I have the most amazing support group and professional network!

Health – I FINALLY decided to take my health and my future more seriously and start making changes. A little at a time over the years has helped, but not enough. I am determined to change my diet to help myself and to support Sharon as I force her to do the same so we can live many, many more decades as healthy, fun women!

Life – the saying that “everyday is not guaranteed” has never been more apparent. It is so important to live your life to the fullest! There is soooo much to be thankful for but the ability to wake up and experience it one more day is a blessing in itself.

I hope you take a moment to reflect on what you are thankful for this Thursday and share it with family and friends. Let them know how much they mean to you. Oh, and one last thing, don’t put the macaroni in the oven after its already done… be sure to ask first. Just had to put that disclaimer on there. (LOL)

My item of the day are these AWESOME cookies by Edith + Ethel


Not only are the fresh baked, they are HUGE and so very tasty. They make awesome and inexpensive gifts for the holiday to family, friends, coworkers and even clients or vendors! The Oatmeal Golden Raisin are my favorite, but they all taste great!!

I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!!! 
(For laughs, here’s me against the turkey last year!)