Hey, Chicago, What Do Ya Say?

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In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last week, the Chicago Cubs have won the World Series for the first time in 108 years. Read that again. One Hundred and Eight Years.

Being from Chicago, I’ve found myself in past years, along with many others, falling into a similar slump as the Cubs notoriously have. Thoughts of “Will this ever happen?” and “Are we cursed forever?” crept into my mind post-season after post-season and it seemed that every time we would get a glimpse of hope, it would get squashed ten times over.

But not this season.

Something was different from day one this season. With every Kris Bryant home run and every Baez/Rizzo double play, we got one step closer to completing the century-old dream. And we knew it.

Fast forward to October, every baseball fanatics favorite month. A month that Cubs fans aren’t too familiar with associating with happy feelings. Last year, we made it to the NLCS…and lost. We were so close, but it got away. But this year it all felt different, it felt better, and we felt confident.

When the moment finally came that we clinched the NLCS and made it to the World Series, I didn’t react like I thought I would. I didn’t scream and jump up and down. I didn’t cry. I sat there and stared at the television screen. I watched Dexter Fowler and Willson Contreras jumping into a group of the other players and Kris Bryant hoist his teammates above his head. It was in that moment that I realized the Chicago Cubs, my Chicago Cubs, were going to win the World Series.

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My next emotion was being overcome with sadness. I went from an ultimate high to rock bottom. I realized that the moment that I’ve been waiting for, that my dad, grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins and so many other people have been waiting for was coming, and I was going to be 2,036 miles away from the corner of Clark and Addison. I was able to watch every post-season game with other Cubs fans. Even when we played the Dodgers, we would find Chicago bars in LA to watch the game at; to celebrate every win and mourn every loss with fans who had the same goal in mind: Fly the W. But it wasn’t the same.

My dad and I immediately called each other and began looking up flights and game tickets, calling everyone we knew. Nothing was coming together. Flight times didn’t work, game tickets were starting at $3,000 for Standing Room Only. It wasn’t going to happen. We were going to have to watch from what might as well have been the other side of the universe. And we were devastated.

Then we realized something, as much as we wanted to be in the Friendly Confines that weekend, it didn’t matter where we watched it. It was still happening. He and my mom were going to be in LA for the first few games and we would be able to watch them together. “Cubs in 4!” we thought. We’d be able to watch the Cubs win the World Series together. In LA. But together.
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When we lost the first game, I don’t really think anyone flinched. We made every excuse. It was an away game. It was the first game. We didn’t have enough of a break between the NLCS and now. We’ll be fine.

We came back and crushed the second game and a fire was ignited. Every Cubs fan knew it was happening. Our confidence was peaking and we were getting ready to witness history. And then games 3 and 4 happened. It was like watching a horror film, but it was real life. There was no waking up from that bad dream, there was a Cleveland 3-1 lead and we were horrified.

If you are a Cubs fan and you say that you didn’t freak out that night, you are a liar. Prayers were said and stats were pulled…how many times have we won 3 games in a row? How many teams have come back from being down 3-1 in any series, let alone the World Series? We woke up Sunday morning with a “must-win attitude” and we ran with it. Watching that game was the most dramatic hours of my twenty-three years. Every error felt like a dagger and every great hit and out that we got was like winning the lottery. That roller coaster feeling was back. But we won game 5. Two more to go.

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Game 6 came and I was sick as a dog, but there was a 0% chance that I was going to miss that game. Another must-win for the Boys in Blue and I am on the edge of my seat. We crushed the first inning and from that point on, my worries eased and I knew that this series was going to Game Seven. My parents changed their flights and stayed in LA and we made plans to watch the moment we’ve all been waiting for together.

When I woke up on Wednesday morning, there was something in the LA air. It traveled those same 2,036 miles that I did. I could feel it. We all could feel it. History was going to be made. I peeled myself out of bed and we met at a bar down the street. The six of us crammed in a small booth in a bar in Brentwood in front of three TVs all showing the pre-game warm ups. We got ready for what would easily be one of the best nights of our lives.

“Game Seven” are arguably the two greatest words to any sports fan. But add in the fact that it’s the World Series and it’s the Chicago Cubs, the feelings were amplified tenfold. Every out against us or bad play resulted in the entire strip of bars booing and swearing. Every run resulted in an uproar of screams and cheering. I realized in that bar that even though I thought I should have been in Chicago watching this, LA was going to be a great alternative.

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The game went on for 4 hours and 28 minutes, including a rain delay. We had a three-run lead going into the eighth inning and the Indians tied it. No one scored in the ninth and we went into extra innings. At this point, no one was okay. In the crowded bar, people were pacing, cursing, praying and sweating. We wanted this so badly and in the next 15 minutes, it could be taken away from us for the 109th time in a row.

The tenth inning began and the Cubs scored two runs. Now all we had to do was get three outs and we would be the World Series Champions. Three. Outs. That’s it. It was the longest minutes of my life. Davis scored one run for the Indians with that we only had a one-run lead. With two outs, Martinez hit the ball straight to third and before he could even throw it, Bryant’s face lit up. A gentle toss to first and a catch from Rizzo sealed the deal. The Chicago Cubs won the first World Series since 1908 and broke every curse the city was under.

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That moment was the definition of sheer bliss. I jumped on the booth and screamed. Everyone was hugging, cheering, crying…sobbing. After what seemed like ten straight hours of this, I stopped to look around. To remember this moment. To see the people I was with, where I was. And look up at that screen and see my Lovable Losers spraying champagne all over each other and holding the title of World Series Champions.

To end this documentation of the last weeks of my life, I just want to say thank you, Chicago. For raising me. For making me believe in superstitions, but even more in my team. For letting me leave, but still be completely tied to you. For giving me something so earth-shattering, that it made men, women and children around the world scream louder and cry harder than they ever have. For letting me listen to every doubter for years ask me how I could be a Cubs fan and respond with confidence that one day we would be the World Series Champions…and for making that happen. Thank you.

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Spring Must-Haves

Happy April, Friends! I couldn’t be happier that spring is finally here and the weather is getting warmer (kind of). I love being outside and being able to actually feel my extremities, so winter isn’t exactly the best season for me. Yet, I live in Chicago. Go figure. *rolls eyes*

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With the sun starting to shine on a (semi) regular basis, we’re all starting to show a bit more skin and if you’re anything like me, these last few weeks brought a huge shock and how neglected my skin was. When it’s cold out and we’re all bundled up, it’s easy to not notice, but everyone wants beautiful, glowing skin…especially when it’s time to show it off! I took it upon my-blogging-self to try quite a few new products to let you all know exactly which ones would be best to prep your skin for spring and summer!

Small disclaimer here, I have a bias towards Lush products so all if the ones below are from their inventory. First of all, and most importantly, they do not test any products on animals. Ever. Period. Second, all of their products are 100% natural. They mix oils and fruit/veggie butters with fragrances to make the best products. Almost all of the products are also vegan, so there will be no fillers or other chemicals to make you “feel” like you’re getting a better product. A great example of a filler would be in hair conditioner. Fillers in conditioner give you that slimy feeling of “moisturized” hair. However, ultimately, that filler dries your hair out more and a lot of times leads to dryness, breakage and frizz.

Below is a list of products that I have used regularly for the last month & my review of them. Enjoy!

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Angels on Bare Skin//Facial and Body Cleanser

Angels on Bare Skin is my morning facial cleanser. It comes in a clump, for lack of a better word, and you break a little piece off and rub it on your face. The little piece will break down, but will not have suds like normal soap. It has ground pistachios in it that act as a natural exfoliator, which is my favorite part because it is not as harsh as sugar or salt-based exfoliators. This makes a great cleanser for daily morning use because it gets the oils off your face that build up overnight. Angels on Bare Skin can also be used as a body cleanser. I don’t, but if you have an acne-prone chest or back, this is a great option for those areas as well because it is so soothing. My only complaint with this one is it is a bit difficult to actually use. When you break off a piece of it and mix it with water on your face sometimes it sticks together instead of breaking apart like it should or it falls in the sink instead of sticking on your face. Neither of those problems is terrible, and honestly, the outcome of using Angels on Bare Skin is worth the little bit of trouble it might give you.

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Vanishing Cream//Facial Moisturizer

Vanishing Cream is absolutely heaven-sent. I use this as my daily face lotion right after washing my face in the morning with Angels on Bare Skin. To use, first, spray any toner all over your face (I use Lush’s Breath of Fresh Air) and immediately rub a small amount of Vanishing Cream in with the toner and then continue with make-up routine as usual. Even after one use, you will notice that it evens our your skin tone and gives you glowing skin that lasts all day. This has quickly but surely become a staple of my daily routine.

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9 to 5//Cleansing Lotion

This one seems a bit strange when I tell you about it, I know, but hear me out. 9 to 5 is an amazing cleanser for right before bed and before whatever creams you sleep with at night (before your coconut oil sleep mask, mom). To use this, take off any make-up with remover, then rub 9 to 5 on your dry face and wipe it off with a cotton pad or ball. That’s it. No water, no scrubbing, no soap. When I first saw this, I didn’t believe it. I didn’t think there was possibly any way that you could not wash your face after having make up on all day and working or working out, anything, but then I tried it. My skin has never been more clear or brighter and I wake up in the morning just as clean as the day before, so it has to be doing something right!

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Oatifix//Face Mask

Meet your face’s new best friend. Oatifix is everyone’s dream face mask and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to find it. First of all, the blend of vanilla, almonds, bananas and oats makes this mask smell like cookies. Not like sugary, funfetti crap. It smells like homemade, real cookies and I can’t get enough of it. It is a smaller mask (Lush has two sizes), but you only need small amount and you really only need to use it once a week, maybe even every other week if you want. I used to use Lush’s Mask of Magnamity. I didn’t hate it by any means, but I really wasn’t seeing much work from it. It would definitely clean my face, but that was really it. This mask gives you the best glow and the cleanest feeling (smelling) skin. The only trick with this one is not actually eating it…it’s not actually cookie dough…

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Ocean Salt//Face and Body Scrub

Literally the ocean in a little tub! I cannot rave about this one enough. I use Ocean Salt every other day in the shower before shaving. The actual “scrub” in this is sea salt, which makes it a bit harsher on the skin than Angels on Bare Skin because it is a scrub not a cleanser, so I would not recommend using this on a daily basis. My skin is still a bit dry from the winter so I’m sticking with every other day for now, but I’m hoping to get down to twice a week. I will say that Ocean Salt is the first scrub I have ever felt comfortable using on my face, though. It doesn’t leave you red from being too harsh or take off like an entire layer of skin, just the dead stuff causing your skin to look a little dull. The organic lime juice brightens, the avocado butter softens and the vodka (yes, you read that right. cheers!) tightens. It’s a light blue color and has a layer of sea salt on the top, so it really does look like and smell like the ocean! I really have nothing bad to say about Ocean Salt at all. I will definitely be buying this for a long time to come.

 

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The Olive Branch//Shower Gel

I know it seems silly to have a shower gel that you love because they all really do the same thing, but The Olive Branch is really something special. The olive oil in this shower gel moisturizes your skin on a level that a normal shower gel simply can’t. It does so without leaving you feeling too oily, while also leaving you feeling so clean and smelling absolutely amazing. It honestly doesn’t get any better than that in a shower gel!

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Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner//Skin Conditioner

Okay, this is the only one I have some mixed feelings about. Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner is exactly like a hair conditioner, but for your body. You rub it all over in the shower after washing with The Olive Branch and then rinse off. It is meant to replace your after-shower lotion. I think the best way to break this down is a list of pros and cons.

Pros: It does work. If you really rub it in and rinse it off, you really don’t need a lotion post-shower. If you have ever tried to put leggings on after putting lotion on after the shower, you know that this is a real blessing. It also smells great…like a rose garden, but not like an old lady’s perfume. You smell great afterwards, really.

Cons: It is really oily. Not like straight up oil that you’re going to look like a Greek god when you get out, don’t get carried away. I’m talking like the water will bead-off your skin afterwards and then it makes the shower floor all slippery and kind of gross when it dries (I have to wipe down the shower floor like every other shower now). When you towel off after, you pat dry, don’t rub, otherwise all those oils are going to go into the towel. However, once you go through all this, it does look great. Only other con, I usually shower at night before bed. By the time I wake up in the morning, my skin kind of lost all of the oils and butters from Ro’s in my sheets and I’m kind of in need of some lotion. I have used it in the morning, though, and my skin stays really soft all day, so that might just be timing.

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H’Suan Wen Hua//Hair Treatment

When I bought H’Suan Wen Hua, the girl that sold it to me said, “You don’t have to know how to say it, you just have to use it.” She could not have been more right. I still have no idea how to pronounce it, so if I tried to read this blog post out loud, you would all laugh, but I use it once every two weeks and my hair has never felt healthier. The cinnamon smell is a bit strong, but once you wash it all out, it’s not bad. It has so many vitamins and minerals in it, your hair literally just soaks it in. Apply H’Suan to your dry hair 20 minutes before your shower and then rinse out and shampoo/condition as normal and be amazed. I also love that it helps your scalp. Sometimes we don’t realize that our scalp needs love, too! Considering it’s where our hair grows from, how can we expect to have beautiful hair if we neglect our scalp?! Duh. I think everyone should do a hair treatment at least once a month, if not twice, and this one really takes the cake.

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Rehab//Shampoo

This shampoo makes me want to find the creator of Lush and just hug them…for like minimally two to three minutes. A long, tight, bear hug. Anyone who is trying to grow their hair out, or just make their hair healthier, without compromising their everyday volume and shine, this one is for you! Rehab has a minty scent (which goes great with the H’Suan hair mask!) and has seaweed in it to, again, help your scalp. I used to use Lush’s shampoo bars. Like I said about their Mask of Magnamity, I didn’t hate their shampoo bars at all. They’re very convenient and their Seanik one is really great for volume and shine as well, however rubbing a bar in my hair every day was making my hair a bit knotty and the bars weren’t lasting me as long as I would have liked, so I decided to give this a try and I am SO happy I did. My hair has never been healthier!

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Veganese//Hair Conditioner

“Next to every great man shampoo, is a great woman conditioner.” That’s how the quote goes, right? In all seriousness, Veganese is really something. As I mentioned in my intro, this conditioner is filler-free and completely vegan, so you will not have that slimy “moisturized” feeling that you do with other conditioners, but that doesn’t take away the moisture by any means. As a lot of you know, I used to have extensions, even though my hair was pretty long to start out with, it was more for the volume. I had every kind. Clip-in, tape-in, you name it, I had them and it took a toll on my hair for sure. About a year and a half ago, I cut my hair to about my collarbone because my hair was just so damaged and I’ve been on a journey ever since to get my hair back to it’s healthy state and this conditioner has been my #1 fan in doing so. It’s not a heavy conditioner at all, so I can get out of the shower, comb through it and let it air dry without feeling like my hair is oily, stiff or sticky (yes, I’ve had conditioners feel all three of those ways. gross.). I can’t speak highly enough of Veganese (and Rehab) because it goes beyond cosmetic appearance, it really makes your hair healthier.

Quite a few people lately have tried these with me and loved them just as much! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out and let me know! If you have any products that you love, leave a note in the comments section. Happy (almost) Friday and Happy Spring!

Al

I Think Valentine’s Day is the Best Holiday Ever…

Call me crazy, but Valentine’s Day is my absolute favorite day of the year. It’s a day that we can take just a little extra time to let the important people in our lives know just how much we love them. Plus everything is pink so I’m like on cloud nine. It doesn’t have to be about what we buy or do for them, but the meaning behind it and the words we say.

There is a cliché around the holiday revolving around flowers and cards, possibly a romantic dinner. I got to thinking, in the crazy world we live in today, there has to be a more creative way to go about this. Here are some ideas I came up with!

Flowers: The Bouqs Co.

I am absolutely in love with this company. Their flowers are so beautiful — Bouqs Co. cuts them the day you order and deliver them straight from the farm they are grown on. They deliver two to four days after being cut versus around a week and a half to two weeks at most other flower delivery services. When you get them, they are beautifully colorful and last for so long!

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The farm that the flowers come from practices sustainable, eco-friendly farming and they only cut what they sell, which means no flowers go to waste. Love that.

Bouqs Co. has experts on hand to help you pick the right flower bouquet and all the prices you see online are final (tax, shipping, handling, etc. included). There are 3 pricing options with each bouquet (small, medium, large) and price increases consistently with size. They offer next day delivery, a daily special and Valentine’s Day bouquets.

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They also have an optional concierge service, which allows you to save up to 25% per bouquet and never forget a special occasion. The concierge service reminds you before any special date, allows you to send weekly just because flowers or have regular blooms sent weekly, bi-weekly or monthly to your (or your significant other’s) door! They also have an app to make life even easier, as if they weren’t already perfect enough.

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As far as discounts, this place has quite a few. If you create an account with them, you will receive 10% off your first order. If you download and use the app, you get 20% off your first order. Their daily special bouquets are 15% off every day and their Valentine’s Day bouquets can be delivered as early as almost a week before! If you invite friends to use Bouq, you will get a free bouquet and occasionally they have buy one, get one free deals. Flowers for everyone!

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Cards: Shop Betches

I’ve worked with Betches in the past and I think they are just hilarious. The Betches are known for being sarcastic and “saying the thoughts in your head that you’re too afraid to say”…their Valentine’s Day cards are no exception.

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If you’re looking for a sweet, sentimental card for your valentine, you might want to try Papyrus cards. However, if you both keep up with what’s trending, these will be perfect a major key.

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Above are photos of their cards for this year and I seriously cannot stop laughing. They’re perfect and I want all of them. *hint, hint*

Date Night: Date Box

This is one of my favorite ideas in the world. Everyone’s lives get a little hectic and at one point or another, I think we’ve all said, “Where did this week go?!” The Date Box created a way to remind us to take time to nurture our relationships and not fall into the same daily routine of Netflix and (probably no) chill.

The Date Box delivers a box to your door with something new inside once a month. Some nights can be artsy, some have wine or food, some games. Some are at home; some are at a dance studio or a cooking class…the possibilities are really endless.

There are three options for subscriptions along with a $5 shipping fee (per month):

  • 1 month plan: $34.95 for a recurring monthly plan
  • 3 month plan: $31.45 for a recurring 3-month plan (paid in full at time of first purchase)
  • 6 month plan: $27.96 for a recurring 6-month plan (paid in full at time of first purchase)

*Date Box was generous enough to send Daniel and me a sample box. We will be anxiously awaiting its arrival and reviewing it in the next week. I will update this post after we fall in love with our Date Box!

Meal Box: PeachDish

I’m sure many of you have heard of meal delivery services, but this is one I’m really into. Their classically trained chefs develop Southern-infused and seasonally inspired recipes for dishes you might order at your favorite restaurant, but are surprisingly quick and easy to prepare at home. They source the freshest ingredients, pre-measure everything for you, pack it in a special insulated box and ship it to your doorstep. There is literally no excuse not to do this!

Kate Blohm, PeachDish

Kate Blohm, PeachDish

Every week, PeachDish offers four different seasonally inspired meals. Two are vegetarian, and two are animal protein-based. Each meal is packaged in increments of two servings, for $12.50 per serving. You can opt in and out of weekly deliveries as you need to — you’re in control of your delivery schedule. There are no membership fees, and you pay only when you receive a delivery!

Kate Blohm, PeachDish

Kate Blohm, PeachDish

Peach Dish is doing a special Valentine’s Day meal delivery for you to cook for your valentine, or cook together! They have three options, all starting with a cheese plate and ending with a bourbon brownie trifle. The first entreé includes a beef tenderloin with mashed potatoes and arugula salad with cider vinaigrette. The second option is a lobster risotto and ends with the bourbon brownie trifle and also includes 4 chocolate truffles. The last choice includes a ribeye with mashed potatoes and arugula salad with cider vinaigrette as the entrée and ends with the bourbon brownie trifle and 6 chocolate truffles. Find all the Valentine’s Day meal kits here.

Kate Blohm, PeachDish

Kate Blohm, PeachDish

Prices vary on the Valentine’s Day meal kits from $89-$109, but if you order before Sunday, February 7th at 11:59 EST, you can use my promo code for 10% off your first purchase: PDLOVE

Meal Box: Green Blender

This second meal box is for my healthy, green eaters. I, personally, only do smoothies when I’m cleansing (admittedly, not often…sorry, mom) and I’m not usually too happy about it. But these look so good, I’m going to have to stick with them for a while!

Chocolate Covered Pomegranate

Chocolate Covered Pomegranate

Each week, you’ll get 5 new smoothie recipes and all the pre-portioned ingredients you’ll need to make 10 smoothies. The recipes are hand crafted by leading nutritionists to ensure that they are packed with flavor and nutrients and they focus on working with organic and local farms to create a uniquely balanced menu.

Fine Apply

Fine Apple

Green Blender believes that you are what you drink. The smoothies are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins and fiber and their benefits are endless: clearer skin, heightened mental clarity, increased energy, and weight loss. Plus, their nutrients are known to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. You’re welcome, body!

Pepper Passion

Pepper Passion

Each recipe yields enough for two 12-ounce smoothie servings, so you both can have a very green Valentine’s Day! There are three different subscription options, all including delivery.

  • Fresh Start: $49/box, which includes a week-to-week subscription
  • Monthly Challenge: $44/box, which includes a 4-box subscription
  • Healthy Habit: $39/box, which includes a 12-box subscription

For an extra 20% off use my code KRISTINR : )

*Green Blender was generous enough to send me a sample box. I will be anxiously awaiting its arrival and reviewing it in the next week. I will update this post after I fall in love with our smoothies!

I hope these inspired you all to do something special for your valentines next week, and any other day, too! As every other year, I am so excited to celebrate. This year I will, of course, be with Daniel, but my parents will also be in Chicago to celebrate my mom’s birthday! I can’t wait to see how you all celebrate my favorite day. Feel free to post other great options in the comments below : )

*Disclaimer: I received some product before creating this post, however all opinions are my own. I did not receive payment for this post. All photo credit is to the company website from which the photos are filed under, unless specified.