Category Archives: favorite gadgets

how to survive a chicago winter…

The mind works in mysterious ways. Somehow, every year I forget how bitterly cold and bone chilling Chicago can be. You remember that it gets really cold, but don’t recall the feeling of those terrible sensations that go along with it…biting wind, burning chapped skin, stinging cold, frozen tears. Oh ya, now I remember!

Its really not so bad though if you are properly attired. I may look like a jack ass when I walk to work, but I am toasty warm! Here is how you too can be snug as a bug, from head to toe, in below zero weather.

Keep your feet warm! Ugg boots, despite their clunky “Ugg”ly nature, are the warmest thing I’ve found to keep my toes from suffering from frost bite. You don’t even have to wear socks with them! They make stylish boots too, even for men.

If you don’t want to go the Ugg route, try Sorels or some other highly insulated boot. When not wearing your super warm boots, be sure to wear your Smartwool socks. They are well worth the $20 price tag. Plus if you get the knee high version, they keep your calves warm too. When wearing dresses or skirts, wear tights and layer leggings underneath.


Invest in a good coat. Wool is nice, but down is better. A hood makes all the difference in the world. It helps to really shield you from the wind and keep you in one nice big, warm package. The longer the coat, the better. Knee caps can get frost bite too!

When its super icy outside and your lazy neighbors don’t bother to shovel, be careful! My Ugg’s have a good tread on the bottom, but when its an ice rink on the side walk, I strap on my YakTrax. These work like a charm and can be put onto the bottom of any type of shoe or boot.

Wear a hat AND a scarf AND gloves (fingerless gloves don’t count, put your darn phone away)! Ear muffs are nice sometimes, but when its super cold out, you need to cover your whole head. I know this all sounds like common sense, but apparently its not. At least not from the look of the shivering people I see on the street everyday.

Extras: Cords are warmer than jeans. Turtlenecks provide an extra cozy layer. Long johns or tights under your pants are helpful if you are going to be out longer than 30 minutes. Sunglasses shield the wind from your eyes. Wool or cashmere sweaters keep your core super warm.

Now get out there and build a snow man or make a snow angel!

my shiny new bubbling toy…

We have splurged on the most fun new gadget! We are now the proud owners of a Penguin Soda Stream. A what, you ask? Well, I put a pretty glass bottle into the penguin, lock it up tight, press down on its cute little beak 5 or 6 times, and Voila! Bubbly water! I know, really, it’s the little things that thrill me.

I’m justifying the expense and the ridiculousness of this permanent fixture on my counter as environmental and, dare I say, practical. I love carbonated water. I don’t drink regular soda pop. I rarely have juice. I’m a coffee, tea, and water drinker. Preferably soda water. So this cute little stainless steel penguin makes my regular ol’ tap water bubbly! Its genius really. And attractive to boot.

I’ve calculated that I only need to go through 2 cartridges to get my return on investment. The initial $199 expense (that was subsidized with wedding gift cards, thank you very much) which included the Penguin and two cartridges = 180 bottles of “insert fancy spring brand here” at $1+ per bottle. When you factor in the environmental savings of not using glass and plastic bottles, not having them transported, and then not having to recycle them, I think you will agree that a carbonated water loving lady like myself has made a pretty good purchase. Plus the cartridges are refillable and it doesn’t use electricity or batteries.

There are flavored add-ins that you can purchase or a quinine additive if you prefer tonic. I like mine with just a squeeze of fresh lemon. If I have leftover juice, I might add a splash to the bubbly water for a homemade spritzer. It makes a perfect mixer for a cocktail too. The 2 glass carafes that come with it have a handy cap that actually seal in the bubbles to save for later. Again, genius!

I’m enjoying showing off my handsome little penguin and plan to put him to work again tonight. Its Thursday aka Ladies Night, and I’m hosting at my place. I’m sure we will all need a little bubbly water to go with our wine!

Note: This handsome little fellow can be found online or at Williams Sonoma. Highly Recommended!