Monthly Archives: March 2015

Hare Groomin’ + Run Rabbit Run


This ginger cottontail (see what did there?) has been busy!

After some serious hare hair grooming at Mixed Co. Salon (the staff here are incredibly friendly and amazing–they really, really know what they are doing) through a great new service called Whittl, this red rabbit got to go down to the South Loop where Shred415 has opened its newest location at The Shops at Roosevelt Collection. Besides the fact that I got to talk to friends and make new ones I got great tips from stylist Mohammed on how to make curled hair seem expensive and polished, but take only a fraction of the time. Some wisdom from Mohammed for flawless curls:

  • If you have the time curl your hair in sections and let it sit for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes before running your fingers through it. Allowing the hair to cool helps the curls to stay fresher longer.
  • Don’t spray too much product, it weighs the hair down (obviously). Mohammed recommends the Unite Freshen spray for bigger more relaxed curls.
  • Smaller sections make for better curls
  • To freshen drooping curls simply flip your hair down, work at the roots a bit, and flip it back up. When you stand up you’ll have your bouncy curls back and be as elegant and sexy as ever!

Shred415. It’s a workout that makes you feel like Beyonce. At least I did. Not in a dance-y kind of way, because it’s not that kind of workout, but in a damn I look good kinda way. I was looking in the mirror because I actually liked looking at myself in the mirror (for once) rather than because I needed to ‘keep an eye on my form’. I had not run in awhile and I must have gotten an endorphin high because I left class happy with how I performed, and proud of what I’d done. Dave was a great instructor and took care of all the newbies from Windy City Bloggers who had come to attend class. The best things about Shred 415:

  • The instructor was very attentive.
  • I have never done a workout broken up like that and it was facinating to see how my body reacted
  • A great vibe in the studio itself, every student was working really hard, it made me feel good about working hard as well. Nothing worse than people ‘just getting by’ during a workout when you are trying to push yourself.
  • Great space and great location, right off the Roosevelt Red Line stop.

Chicago on a Tuesday night is not half bad. Try a new gym, try a new salon, or visit that coffee shop or art gallery or restaurant that you’ve always wanted  to visit but keep putting off. Life is short and a night in the city can take you anywhere.


First selfie ever, thanks to Mixed Co. Salon!


10 Books Every #GirlBoss Should Read

photo by Michele Barp

photo by Michele Barp

By now you’ve realized I love to read. Today I’m sharing a reading list I think you’ll enjoy. Take these camping, to the beach, on a road trip or as a companion for those long hours by the pool that we are all looking forward to so much. Get reading girlboss, and make the most of your spiritual, professional and family life. #likeagirl!

  • I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai This choice should not be a surprise. Written by Malala herself, she gives us countless things to look up to, and her courage cannot be matched. In this day and age we fight for a lot. The right to go to school, for the right amount of maternity leave, to be paid equally, to be treated equally…Malala is an inspiration and an example to follow.
  • Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg  I liked Sheryl’s book, though at times it seemed like she was giving advice from a position of privilege and a life of relative ease in the scheme of things, she has excellent insight into what it means to be a professional woman today, and what it means to navigate the seemingly outdated ways that men treated woman, or even how women treated each other. While there are certainly ways that men can change the way they think, we need to change the way we think too. What we are worth, what we can ask for, what we can say, and when we can say it. Sheryl has invaluable advice for anyone who wants a successful career, to raise a family or some version in between.
  • #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso This is the book that coined a new term, a term that we use all the time to inspire us and challenge us. Another successful woman, Sophia takes us on the path to her success, from dumpster diving and less-than-fulfilling jobs to what she is today. All past experiences shape who we are, and Sophia’s book seems to be written especially for those who think they are on the outside looking in when it comes to ‘corporate America’. Well you’re not alone, and Ms. Amoruso has some priceless knowledge to drop on you.
  • Bossy Pants by Tiny Fey Tina Fey’s memoir is funny, insightful and important. Like Amy Poehler and like Lena Dunham (and countless other woman who are not on this list) Tina has risen through the ranks of an industry (media/entertainment) that is male dominated, as well as become successful in comedy, which is also very male-centric. He point of view is an important one and she tells her story with her familiar brand of wit, humor and intelligence.
  • Yes, Please by Amy Poehler Another memoir, and another important experience to add to those mentioned in this blog. Amy’s memoir is full of lists, poetry and stories making it as entertaining to read as she is to watch on the big screen.
  • Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham This book sparked some controversy when it was published, but I still think it deserves a place on this list. Whatever you believe about Lena herself, the book an interesting look into the life of a young successful actress. There’s still a dichotomy, today, in women’s roles, and how women are treated in Hollywood, both in front of and behind the camera. There’s also still a difference in how they are paid. I like Lena’s perspective because she’s young and has come a long way, but still has so far to go in terms of her life and her career.
  • How to Build a Girl Caitlin Moran This book is different from the others on this list because it’s fiction, but it offers a refreshing and intelligent perspective nonetheless. All about self-invention and re-invention, Caitlin Moran tells the story of Johanna Morrigan who re-invents herself only to realize what she’s become may not be enough. This novel explores many important questions and gives great insight into what becoming a woman might really require from a young girl.
  • Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay This is a collection of essays. I put this in the list because it offers something different from memoir, autobiography, self-help and even fiction. Roxane Gay’s insights are sharp and very intelligent and she takes a close look at what it means to be a woman today by examining our culture and the state of feminism today. Roxane uses her own life, her own ‘evolution as a woman’ and gets us to examine ours in the process.
  • Let’s Pretend This Never Happened Another memoir for the list, this one by a blogger. The Bloggess, no less. Also very funny and also a meaningful exploration of what being a woman means today, this is great book. It’s light and it represents what makes us truly who we are– all the ‘dark’ stuff that we want to keep hidden is the stuff that we should use to make us better people.
  • How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran Another book by the same author as How to Build a Girl, Moran’s funny memoir is another point of view, from another smart woman. I laughed out loud several times while reading this, you can’t help it. I love Moran’s take on everything from getting her first period, to boys, to family life in England, and everything in between. Fun to say the least, and a poignant important look at our gender at the most. A great book.

Trendspotting at the International Housewares Show

Chicago - Cooking - Interiors

I’m late. The blue line is running late because of construction. I really don’t want to get out of the subway and get in a cab because I have to go all the way to McCormick Place, and it’ll be expensive. I keep waiting hoping I can get one more stop so I can switch to the red line. The man sitting on the seat next to where I’m standing asks me if Uber is any good here. I say it is. It turns out he’s going the same place I am, the International Housewares show at McCormick Place. He’s the inventor of a collapsable silicone water bottle called the Bübi. See pictured, below. Named after the bird, it holds boiling water, keeps cold water cold, it resists punctures and is even sold as a baby bottle. It can be used as a pillow while traveling and it is microwave and dishwasher safe. Meeting the inventor of such a cool product was just the beginning of my afternoon. Hearing Ree Drummond speak about her journey blogging and how she came to her success was very inspiring.


After luncheon (and after Ree said I look like Anna Kendrick, squee!!) I go down to the show floor. It’s massive. Amazing. So many huge booths (think multiples floors, with stairs) stacked to the brim with dishes, pots, pans, bakeware, tea pots, coffee pots, gadgets and more. I notice some trends while I’m exploring with my aunt and her business partner. Here they are:

  • Silicone!! Everything is made of silicone. Oxo, Trudeau, and Kitchen Innovations all have wonderful new lines of kitchen accessories, bakeware and cookware. It’s the new plastic the material of the future.
  • Infusions. Between Prodyne’s beautiful new line of infusion pitchers, to Takeya’s great tea pitcher (I recommend their tea too, I got to try some and it was incredibly refreshing. Tasty without any added sugar or preservatives.) For tea, water and even spirits, infusions were the order of the day and a great spring purchase for all those afternoons spent outside with friends!
  • New designs, and a focus on inventions and entrepreneurs. I got to see Trudeau’s new pastry cutter, a 2015 design award winner, as well as a new induction cook top by Paragon. See their Indiegogo campaign here.
  • Copper. Kettles, pots, pans, bakeware…many new lines included shiny new copper materials.
  • Green and sustainable materials. I liked the focus on being green, being sustainable, and caring for the environment. If we can keep this trend going, perhaps our planet has a chance after all. Kitchen Innovations’ new Zeal
    line mirrors nature, and will make your kitchen look like fairy garden. I felt like I could have been in the kitchen with Fern Gully.
  • Stackable, storage saving and adjustable tools and gadgets. Saving space and being able to use a tool for multiple things is a great idea. With the focus being on less waste, it was great too see so many products that had this new attitude in mind.

I can’t possible talk about everything I saw at the show, as it was massive, and so full of new and great stuff for the home and kitchen. My favorite part was getting to meet so many great people. This industry is extremely friendly and everyone showed a lot of care and pride introducing their new products.

The “Arctic” Hare Trains: Dogsledding I

Essays - Travel

“Dogsledding exists at the intersection of skill and chaos…” —Burton Penner

I wake to the sound of howling and barking. It pierces the cold clear air. My eyes are open now and the bright sunlight comes through the trees and the snow sparkles in small dollops on top of spruce boughs. The dogs cease their howling song after a three or four minutes and now I’m fully awake but I dread moving out of my sleeping bag. It’s so cold. I’ve left the top of my sleep system open, being paranoid about condensation, so snow surrounds the inner lining of my sleeping bag. I move reluctantly, trying to get socks, fleece pants, jacket, and snow pants on, and finally put my boots onto my feet. I have left my boots open with my shell jacket laying over them, but they are still frozen stiff, and difficult to get into. I have to take short breaks in between layers to warm my hands. After 45 seconds my fingers turn bright reddish purple and become useless. I must re-warm them slowly in order to continue dressing. In this way the morning routine seems hurried and yet painfully slow at the same time.

The days all begin like this. I wake up to a clear sky, the trees overhead. Sometimes, during the night, if there is wind, the exposed portion of my face will be sprinkled with snow. Most days the sky is a light gray, but on the last day the sun comes out and the sky is an immaculate blue. After breakfast the sleds are packed and the dogs, who have slept tied to a stake line one next to the other, are hitched to the sleds. Wheel dogs first, then swing dogs, then the leads. Zeus lunges at his harness. He’s a swing dog today, second row on the left and impatient to get started. All the doggers begin the day with enthusiastic impatience, howling the sun up into the sky, then wiggling like slippery wet eels into their harnesses. They lunge happily forward into the day, into time, into the cold.

A word about the doggers[1]. They are attached by a short lead line to the stake line each night. They curl up into little balls on or beside a small pine bough bed, their tales over their noses. Eager to get into their harness each morning each dogger jumps and yelps and howls, putting their paws through the straps without trouble. If you bend their paws too much they yelp. They beg for belly rubs, and Frazier puts his nose in my face, not so much licking me as much as he is stabbing me with his nose. It stamps my face again and again until he jumps down to all fours again. Ethyl, usually grumpy and snapping at the other dogs, jumps up and puts her paws on my shoulders too. She is a beautiful white dog with dark brown-markings around her eyes and ears. I scratch behind ears, smushing her face close to mine. Cedar wiggles on her back twisting around and around until I scratch her belly too. Each and every dogger gets pets and pats and belly rubs each morning and night and every time the sleds stop. Their loyalty, their work ethic goes beyond the names. It’s clear our foremost duty on the trail is to stay alive to take care of the dogs. It’s this partnership that allows everything else to be possible. The way that you exist in nature when you dogsled is different than if you are hiking or kayaking or rappelling down a cliff. It’s more significant and very sharp. It requires faith in another living thing that you must impart without the aid of language. It requires grace and acceptance. It is tied inexplicably with the magic of a wintery cold landscape the same way the movement of a camel evokes the way that sand moves over dunes in the desert.

[1] The word is dogger to refer to one dog, and doggers to refer to multiple. Originally it referred to a worker who attaches dogs (as to logs), moves articles mechanically by dogs, or fastens articles (as stock to be machined) into dogs that will hold them for further processing. ‘Good dogger!’ ‘Come on dogger! Let’s go, HIKE!!’

I’m standing on the left runner of a sled, feet one behind the other in a kind of improvised fifth position. My sled partner, Bob, is on the right runner. We fly across the snowy lake. The dogs pant and pull, snapping up snow as the run in small sips. Sometimes the snow becomes sticky and slushy, melting into a sticky, gluey substance that makes the sled move in a sliding slow motion as if through honey or molasses. The runners collect this slushy ice substance and have to be de-iced twice a day by the end of the trip, which requires flipping them on their side and hacking at the ice with a small sledge hammer, then flipping the sled over again, making sure to be ready with the break. As soon as the runners touch the ground again the dogs take off, and if you’re not ready, your sled will be 25 feet away from you in a matter of seconds.

There is no need to steer the sleds, the doggers follow the trail ahead made by skiers and other sleds. Sometimes when the snow becomes thin, and the ice becomes visible and water starts pooling underneath, the dogs will avoid that section and reroute the sled moving back to the trail after the short detour. They know to avoid thin ice moving the sled effortlessly around it. It’s human error that puts the sleds through the ice.

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When people take a vacation, it’s an escape from reality. When they return to their everyday life it’s ‘back to reality’. I feel the opposite. Reality was pushing the sled up hills, over portages beside thin ice on the river, across large windy lakes, and through deep, thick forests that required us to break trail every day. Reality was the act of surviving, daily. The cold surrounds me all the time. I’m not cold necessarily, but it’s always there forcing me to pay attention to how much I’m sweating as I’m pushing a 300 pound sled, or skiing for five or six hours straight. How much water have I been drinking? Is it enough? Will I succumb to frostbite? Hypothermia? This is not even as intense as it could be—we have supplies, plenty of food and guides who know these woods inside and out. It still feels intense though. I am surviving in a harsh, frozen landscape where even silence feels stretched and brittle. It crackles in the air even over the whoosssshhh shusssshhhh the sled makes over the snow.

None of these things were too much of a concern, but they are there in your mind as you travel through the wilderness. My life is so close. It’s big and vast as the lake and the woods around me and so so full. Falling off the trail, falling through the ice, twisting an ankle, getting my boot caught under the metal-spiked brake on the sled…What better reality than the one where you are constantly thinking of survival, constantly breathing in clean air, constantly being physically and mentally challenged and constantly being pulled forward through this vast wilderness by a team of faithful dogs.

Bob puts his foot through the ice on our first day. It’s my fault. The ice is thin and our sled is tipping toward the river. I’m terrified of going into the water myself, as I know wet clothing is one of the worst things that can happen. It’s not like I can go back into the lodge and change. I pull and pull the sled but it’s as if I’m not doing anything. My boots are sinking further into the snow, and sliding further toward the river. In between trying to right the tipped sled I steal terrified glances at the cold brown water. It moves sluggishly under the thin layer of broken ice, there is barely a current at all. We finally right the sled, but I feel terrible that Bob has had to get wet in the process.

On the fourth day Bob tips off the trail falling a couple of feet down an embankment. It’s my fault. To make matters worse he’s one of the most experienced among us. Minus the guides, and Paul himself. Bob has been to Greenland, the Arctic, and Elsmere Island, Alaska, to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. Being partnered with me means he’s had to put up with a lot. On the last day we switch sides, me on the outside as the smaller one, Bob on the inside to keep the sled on the trail. I still let him man the sled solo on the same section of river that we went over on day one. I am not going to take any chances. I’m also sad that I’m too afraid to go with him over the difficult terrain. The sled still tipped precariously over roots and rocks, even under Bob’s expert care. I ran after it, grateful for the chance to move my feet and perhaps warm my toes, which have become painfully cold over the course of the week.

It was not the only time I had to run as fast as I possible could after a sled. I sprinted after the sled after Donna and I (mostly I) lost control. I sprinted after it in heavy boots through deep snow. I pelted, hard for what was probably only 25 or 30 feet. Maybe less. I hear Donna scream after me. “Loose sled!!” My feet felt like lead and the snow feels like peanut butter. I’m not a sprinter. I’m not even really a runner. But it’s amazing what your body will do when your mind shuts off and all that is left is necessity. I catch the sled and push the break and the dogs slide to stop. Donna catches up and we resume our wild ride through the woods.

Dog tails. The long hair moves slightly in the wind. Sometimes the tails wag with enthusiasm. They are constantly curled like flags at full mast ready to lead the way at all times. These tails are curl around noses at night, and wave a greeting every morning. They are happy curly tails.

Thanks to Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge for the best dogsledding trip a girl could ask for, so excited to travel with them to Svalbard this spring!

Gilt-y Party

Chicago - Women

I’ve been having a lot of fun with Gilt City lately, but there’s just one problem. I feel guilty. Yes it’s strange but every time you move to a new city you get a new doctor, new dentist, a new eye-doctor…you get settled. Then your hair needs cutting and your other stylist is miles and miles away. Some travel back to see their stylists because they are that important. They inspire that much trust and loyalty. So when I found a stylist here I was excited. He is a great stylist, and made me feel great about myself, and my hair every time I visited. He eventually convinced my color (glaze) my hair, and I got compliments on the new shiny color all the time.

But it started to be too much. I was not in a position to pay that much for a haircut, and after he struck out on his own from the salon I felt even more pressure to stay a customer. I would wait longer and longer between haircuts until finally I just couldn’t go back, and I felt terrible. I realized though that I couldn’t be held responsible for his success, or failure, not on my own. I quite literally couldn’t afford it. So I began surfing Gilt City for coupons and I found them in spades. I like visiting different salons, and trying different stylists, and I haven’t gone wrong yet. These salons offer great deals and I have a great time talking to new stylists who take amazing care of my hair.

So far I’ve visited Swerve Salon, Arsova, and Salon V. They’re all excellent and I would recommend every one. Finding a life in a new place can be complicated, and while new doctors and new friends are very important, a new stylist makes things pretty great too.