Worth the Investment

Several months (and a nose) ago, I filmed a segment for A Better Day with Julie and it finally aired last week!

I really enjoy chatting with Julie Hightower, because frankly, she’s a doll. She’s really an upbeat person who is incredibly genuine on and off camera. She asked me to share my tips for building an investment wardrobe with her audience. You know, where you spend more upfront for items that will last through several seasons.

I know a fashion item is a good “investment” when I can wear it for every $1. Living in Chicago, I get a lot of use out of my boots, coats, and cashmere sweaters.

Here’s some of my tips that had to be edited out (filming was longer than the segment):

  • I brought a lot of black on the segment because I assumed the mannequins were standard opaque white store mannequins or dress forms. I also wear a lot of black. But if you have a favorite color you look and feel great in, invest in that. Do you, boo.
  • Use store credit cards that offer rewards like gift cards, discounts and free products. (*Only if you can pay the balance off monthly because store credit cards have terribly high interest rates.)
  • Buy classics off-season for the best discounts. A black cashmere dress coat is a classic you can wear year after year… so why not score one off Rue Lala for 80% off?
  • Check the high end stores for sales too. You’ll be surprised by how aggressively some retailers slash prices.
  • Check Amazon!!! I’ve scored deals on items by Stuart Weitzman, JoieAquatalia, and more.
  •  Some items never seem to go on sale. But there is a hack: eBates. Yep, even if the item isn’t on sale, you can still receive a percentage in cash back.
  • Finally, certain brands never go on sale and the brands inflate their prices regularly with frequent price hikes. You can always buy these items used but if you do buy them brand new, you can often get back what you paid when you sell them. This is assuming that there have been enough price increases to increase the price of a new item by 10-20%. Example: I have a Louis Vuitton Stephen Sprouse tribute graffiti bag that was purchased for $1200. Years later, they can sell for up to $3000. Not a bad investment!

I hope everyone has a great start this week. I had a pretty stressful week last week due to some work stuff, a sick pup, dental work, and my dad needing an emergency operation (he’s currently recovering). If this week could have, say, half as much dramaz, that will make it pretty awesome and something to look forward to!

Before Summer Ends…

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

As I mentioned before, my husband and I are starting a new business together. It will be his first business and my second (excluding the blog, but I blog more because I weirdly enjoy it and have been blogging since high school). Over the weekend, we incorporated, agreed on a logo concept and made other first steps to realizing something we can be really proud to share with you all.

(Surprisingly, it isn’t centered around our dog.)

We also did some extra fall clothing shopping yesterday afternoon. I am excited to post new reviews once the weather cools down and I have a chance to see how everything wears.

My husband, Pierre and I are trying to savor these last days of summer. It’s easy to forget the brutal realities of a Chicago winter (polar vortex, anyone?) but we really do have less than 30 days to squeeze in more summer fun before fall weather comes and turns everyone into homebodies.

If you haven’t gone on Lake Michigan yet, I strongly encourage you to consider the Mystic Blue cocktail cruise at Navy Pier. I’m not really a boat person or a Navy Pier kind of person (it’s a tad touristy), but a couple of weeks ago I went to a Windy City Bloggers‘ event on the cocktail cruise and it was seriously a lot of fun.

Chicago skyline view from Lake Michigan on the Mystic Blue Cruise

The odds of having a good time were stacked in my favor because I got to spend some much needed fun-time with some of my favorite rad ladies in Chicago. Still, the drinks were awesome. The view was stunning. The music was fun. And there was additional entertainment like on-deck Jenga.

Mystic Blue cruise from Navy Pier

Windy City Bloggers on the Mystic Blue cruise in Chicago

Photo immediately above by Michaela Guyton.

I’ve been wanting to hang out with Dasha Guyton of Windy City Wardrobe forever. If you haven’t already checked out her blog, I strongly encourage you to do so. She has such a refreshing view point to add to the blogosphere and I really respect her for it. Plus, she loves dogs and I love dogs so naturally we will get along.

Blog review for Mystic Blue cruise at Navy Pier

When I first met Jessica Garcia of The Petite Diaries, we immediately clicked. We’re both tiny ladies with huge personalities, and Jessica is one of the most upbeat, funny, energetic and driven women I’ve met in Chicago.

In case anyone is wondering, my dress is by Greylin and is available on sale here. My shoes are by Stuart Weitzman and my favorite pair is now on sale! I recently reviewed my handbag, the Chloe Faye, and you can read the full review here.

The Mystic Blue cocktail cruise is definitely something I would do again. I think it would be a fun activity for when friends from out of town come to visit next summer.

What is left on our summer fun to-do list? We’re going to see friends in Saint Louis and Memphis, give our kitchen a superficial makeover, and take Pierre to explore some new Chicago neighborhoods (he’s all about new smells) in the new pup backpack carrier we just got him.

I have a very busy couple of weeks ahead with consulting work and travel so if you want to follow what I’m loving in real time, follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat (NikkiKanter)!

Chloe Faye

A few weeks ago, I hinted that I received a new every day bag for my birthday and I’m happy to share my review for my new Chloe Faye in size medium with Motty Grey leather!

I am still a big fan of Louis Vuitton leather bags, but after a few years of gravitating towards classics, I want some trendier bags to bring more style to my every day outfits. I am always attracted to neutrals and clean lines but without a few exaggerated detail accents, my outfits can look overly simple. As a blogger without a professional photographer, it translates to my outfits looking very flat and basic in photos too.

I started carrying a Gucci Soho clutch with a large removable leather tassel (a big trend this year) earlier this year, and the bag quickly became one of my favorites. It was a great reminder that it’s okay to branch off from classic bags.

Here’s a few reasons I am attracted to the Chloe Faye:

  • Not as popular as some other bags in its same price point
  • More comfortable strap than the Chloe Drew bag
  • Medium can be worn on the shoulder, as a cross body, or as an oversized clutch (strap is removable on the Medium size)
  • The hardware is a mixture of pale gold and silver
  • The chunky hardware adds interest

Chloe Faye Motty Grey review

Chloe handbag review

The first thing I did after taking my new bag home was head to Amazon to purchase Scotchgard for the light grey suede flap. I bought this formula and it did not change the color of the suede (that I can notice at any rate) and so far, I haven’t had any issues with the suede.

Three weeks ago, my husband and I were at a party with an overzealous cocktail-shaker behind the bar. It felt like we had front row seats to a dolphin show, but as you can see in my photos the suede looks great.

To minimize exposure of my hand oils onto the suede, I use the ring a lot to open and close the bag. The smooth leather does seem more delicate than the suede and I have noticed that the heavy ring leaves slight dents in the leather. It is not noticeable when the flap is closed.

Chloe Faye Medium handbag interior

The interior of the bag is quite nice though it doesn’t hold as much as one would hope. Or I should say, as much as I hoped. The bag has an accordion design which offers 2 main pockets and one zippered pocket. It’s great for organization, but I can’t put my medicines and other daily essentials in the bag without it looking overstuffed or uneven. I use a thicker tri-folding wallet and I want to get a flatter one like the LV Clemence wallet. (I personally like LV wallets because they really hold up and stay new looking for a long time – my Koala wallet has lasted me 7+ years.)

Besides the storage issue, another issue I’ve found after using the bag for several weeks is that the removable strap isn’t the most secure. The clasps have little leather trimmings to keep the bag from unclipping from the strap, but I have dropped my bag twice due to this flaw.

I love the Motty Grey color more than I hate those aforementioned design flaws. It is truly the perfect grey color. It has a nice taupe undertone. You can easily pair the Motty Grey color with black, chocolate, navy, bordeaux, hunter green, purples and other shades of grey. It’s very versatile!

I like that the Faye can be worn with professional attire as well as weekend wear like skinny jeans tucked into motorcycle booties.

I also really like the scale of the bag. It’s not a tiny bag but I think it looks good on both tall models as well as on petite women. For reference, I’m about 5’2″ and 105 lbs.

Chloe Faye Medium on petite woman

You can better see the accordion effect here:

Chloe Faye modeling scale photo

Overall, I am in love with this bag and I can’t wait to pair it with the new clothes I bought for fall.

Reducing Sodium in Your Diet


I have been meaning to post some new style pictures and reviews, but it just didn’t happen this weekend. We’ve just got a lot going on this week in general but my “photographer” may be out of commission for a while as he prepares for a federal lawsuit out of state.

My husband and I are also starting a new business that we’re very excited about. I’m not ready to make the official announcement yet, but we’ve gotten a supportive response so far and I think you will all really like it.

No, we’re not quitting our professions. We just think there’s a market fit and that we can earn a third income from it. Also, we might be insane…

I do want to share with you today what I have learned while on a low sodium diet and how you can get started reducing sodium in your meals too. Whether you also have doctor’s orders, are looking to be heart-healthy or you want to support an at-risk family member or friend, I think my tips can help make what is a VERY difficult transition a bit easier.

Cooking at Home

Beyond Mrs. Dash (which is the bomb), experiment with spices in lieu of salt. I sometimes look up spice blends, like taco seasoning and Cajun spice, to copy the ingredients but without the salt. Whole Foods sells a Salt-Free Tokyo Rub with the BBQ sauces and it’s seriously worth every penny.

To season my food, I rely heavily on garlic, onions, alcohol, spices and infused oils. I also like to add a small amount of unsalted butter just to get a little extra richness.

Labels marked Low Sodium doesn’t really mean low sodium by the AHA standards (2,400 mg per day max for healthy adults; 1,500 mg per day max for at-risk adults). It just means that there is less sodium than the super-salty version. When it comes to anything involving a broth or can – you need to look for No Salt Added or extra sodium may be hiding out in there. I learned the hard way that the 365 Organic artichoke hearts “in water” are actually tasty little salt bombs – nearly 500mg per serving!

Some of the least salty condiments I found weren’t marketed as low sodium. It never hurts to look at every label! The Whole Foods Texas-style BBQ sauce has 1/5 the salt at 60 mg per serving, for example. Stonewall Kitchen has a decent selection (again, check the labels!) and I found a low sodium ketchup (15mg) by Local Foods.

As if cooking everything from scratch and obsessively checking labels day in and day out isn’t tiring enough, you have to research which foods just naturally have sodium in them. I thought I was doing great by snacking on celery sticks covered in peanut butter. The Simply Balanced creamy variety from Target has 0mg of sodium per serving! But what I didn’t know is that celery naturally has more sodium in it than other vegetables. Beets are sneaky little salty devils too!

Fast Food Cheats

I’m not going to lie. I love fast food. And if you’re like me and you love it, this is probably going to be your favorite part of this post. Because where there’s a will, there’s a way and I obsessively researched until I found it.

Some of my favorite things to eat on the go:

  • Taco Bell crunchy taco supreme, no shredded cheese – only 280 mg!
  • McDonald’s hamburger Happy Meal (no ketchup, no pickle, no added salt on the burger; apple slices or a Cuties orange; unsalted kids’ fry; apple juice) for 400 mg
  • McDonald’s Egg McMuffin with no Canadian bacon, cheese, or salted butter and a Mango Pineapple Smoothie clocks in at around 300 mg total
  • Wendy’s sour cream and chive potato (toss the margarine) is a super low sodium food at 35 mg total!
  • Panda Express (I know, this one surprised me too): Honey Walnut Shrimp or Treasure Shrimp with brown rice clocks in at only 440 mg. For comparison, steamed Sweet and Sour Shrimp with extra vegetables and brown rice at Pei Wei has 660 mg (and most of their dishes have 2,000 mg plus!)
  • Pret-a-Manger has one of the only soups I can eat. Their small carrot ginger soup only contains 280 mg (soups are normally 1,000 mg plus) and their egg and quinoa pot only has 180 mg.
  • At Panera, I usually order a half of the steak and arugula sandwich or a single tomato mozzarella flatbread (approx. 450 mg), a mixed greens salad with balsamic vinaigrette on the side and an apple.

Dining Out

Nicer restaurants can be great or absolutely terrible for sodium consumption, and very rarely is there grey area. I’ve experienced chefs get really indignant and say that “she won’t like the taste.” Yeah, well I also won’t like looking like a puffer fish tomorrow either.

When in doubt, avoid the bread and anything that is cooked low and slow. Bread has a ton of sodium in it and anything already prepared, like risotto, the cooks cannot modify.

Clearly explain to the waiter that your doctor has you on a low sodium diet. I really hate being THAT person, but it’s even worse sending your food back because the kitchen staff didn’t think it was a serious request.

Freshwater oysters are a low sodium appetizer. Just make sure to use a drop of hot sauce, horseradish or mignonette sauce and lemon because cocktail sauce (ketchup based) is very high sodium. You half to be careful with salt water seafood, as it naturally has more sodium.

For cheeses, Emmentaler, burrata, mozzarella and a soft, plain goat cheese are your best choices. My favorite place serves burrata with olive oil, sea salt and pepper so I ask that they hold the salt.

American bistro and Italian restaurants can have some options. Ask if your pasta can be cooked without salt and tossed with vegetables, protein, garlic, basil and olive oil. Your best bet at a pizza place is to order a Margherita pizza with fresh tomato, mozzarella and basil (no salt added) on a thinner crust.  Also, be prepared to get a green salad with grilled (no salt-added) salmon or steak and oil and vinegar. A lot.

For sides, keep an eye out and ask for steamed vegetables, a baked potato (hold the salty butter, cheese and bacon), fruit salad, unsalted fries, sauteed spinach with garlic (no salt) and cole slaw (but don’t eat too much of it).

My favorite place to get a low sodium date night meal is a top-notch Indian restaurant like Jaipur on Randolph Street. They can make my dishes with no added salt and thanks to the curry and spices, we never miss it!

Sashimi with a bit of wasabi is really your only option in a Japanese restaurant. Sushi rice can vary restaurant to restaurant whether they put salt in it and any sauce that is soy sauce or fish sauce based is going to be very salty.

Baking soda contains a lot of sodium in it, so for dessert skip the cakey dishes and order sorbet or ice cream.

Review: Dermaflash

If you are like me and are interested in anti-aging beauty tricks you can do at home, this post is for you. Dermaplaning is something I have enjoyed at the spa, but with my hectic schedule and competing priorities, I haven’t done it in a while. I was given a Dermaflash starter kit to try, and after using it for a couple of weeks, I have to tell you all about it (plus some tips I had to figure out the hard way).

Dermaflash review

If you are unfamiliar with dermaplaning, it’s when an aesthetician uses a delicate razor to carefully (carefully!!!!) exfoliate dead skin cells from your face. In addition to exfoliation, the process also removes all peach fuzz and helps your body produce more collagen (the compound that keeps your skin plump and wrinkle-free).

Given that dermaplaning involves razors, it’s usually best left to professionals. I was interested in trying Dermaflash, because they claim to offer a completely safe and sanitary at-home system. There is an initial investment for the machine ($189), but the Dermaflash refills are $39 for a six week supply. If you consider that dermaplaning at a spa costs at least $100/session, you do save money over time by doing it yourself at home.

First thoughts: Everything is packaged very nicely, and I have everything I need: prep face wash, the device, charger, razor blades and a Soothe lotion for after treatment.

Getting started was more difficult for me than I expected. I think my first razor “clicked” in wrong, and what sucks about that situation is that you lose the razor because they are not reusable. In order to charge the device, it has to sit on the dock for five hours (to keep a 30 minute charge) and the dock will only charge the device sans razor. I needed some extra help getting started and the Dermaflash customer service team could not have been more helpful!

Tip #1: The little teal dot on your razor means it is a fresh one. If you click it wrong, you will know because the dot will be removed. It also means that the device won’t recognize that razor as a fresh one.

Once I got the razor issue sorted out, it was smooth sailing. The prep wash not only cleans, but it also makes your face feel like silk. This is to help the razor glide gracefully over your face. You just hold your face taut and beginning scraping away — without repeating any area, of course!

Tip #2: You will stroke the razor from outside-in towards the center of your face, with the exception being your chin where you’ll do downward strokes.

Dermaflash razor review

Tip #3: The manufacturer suggests using the teal pads on both sides of the razor as a safety guide. I found that I needed a little more angle, but I was SUPER careful.

Once finished exfoliating, apply the Soothe lotion over your face. I noticed after my first application how much smoother my face was. I can see how this will help makeup go on smoother and blend better, but as someone who rocks a bare face most days, I am happy.

From my experience, my second time using the device was MUCH easier than the first time. It only takes two minutes to dermaplane your face, so using the Dermaflash device once a week is not really a time commitment. It’s very easy to stick with a weekly routine.

Overall: I am a fan over how smooth and refreshed my skin feels. I am only two weeks in, but I expect great results with long term use. I’m glad I decided to try Dermaflash and it’s something I will recommend to girlfriends.

Time To Clear Out The Closet

Closet clean out

I don’t clear out my closet every season, because I try to only purchase pieces that are good quality and ones I want to wear for several seasons. I’m kind of a minimalist like that. But sometimes, you have to purge and it’s time to clear out the closet.

In my case, I have come to terms that keeping an extreme diet low in sodium long term is nearly impossible. I have achieved remission thanks to a new biologic drug called Entyvio, and so far the only negative side effect I have experienced is a sensitivity to sodium. I still watch what I eat and do my best to reduce sodium as much as possible, but I believe that the extra 5-10 pounds I am carrying will be hanging around for a while. I accept that my body looks a bit different and I am willing to try new fashions that better suit my new figure.

For the past two weekends, I have gone through my closet and organized everything into four sections:

  • Pieces I want to keep (and fit!)
  • Pieces that need to be thrown out (too worn to donate)
  • Clothes in good condition for donation
  • Designer pieces in great condition to send to my sister, who is still a skinny bitch

For pieces that fit, in order for me to keep a piece, it must meet two criteria:

Did I wear it in the past year?

Do I think I will wear it in the next year?

If you live in the West Loop, closer to Greektown than Washington-Racine, there’s a clothing donation box for the Green City Project in the NE corner of Mary Bartleme Park.

It’s absolutely an option to sell clothes you don’t want, and while extra cash is always nice, I just don’t have time to market my items and ship them as they sell. I’d rather just make one trip to the UPS store to mail things to my little sister.

Since I am clearing out all of the size zeros from my closet, I need to replace items so you know… I’m not walking around naked.

My biggest needs are dresses, fresh tee shirts (I am so hard on mine, since I work from home), pajamas and blouses. I hit up the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (thru 8/8) for some basics and a trendy dress.

Since most of you do not work from home, here are my office-friendly picks from the Sale:

I ordered the Lush blouse (shown in black) in a dusty lavender color, the studded Sam Edelman flats in black leather (shown in raspberry suede), a sleeveless turtleneck sweater in black, a casual bordeaux hued long sleeve dress to wear with boots, some shape wear, and a medley of tee shirts since I usually wear casual clothes working from home.

Also, since it is the beginning of the season, I always try to add a couple of accessories to freshen things up. I pre-ordered two pairs of boots from Stuart Weitzman during their Fall Trunk Sale and I am excited to pick them up this weekend!

For pajamas, I scored a set from Eberjey and a set from Cosabella from Rue Lala along with some luxurious 1,000 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets for only $69.99/set! We need new sheets because we bought a new bed in a different size.

Seriously, I love Rue!

I also needed a new dress for a good friend’s wedding next month. I found this super fun feathered ditty by Maia at Last Call. I am planning on wearing it with barely there sandals.

Pink feather dress by Maia

The dress appears sold out now, but I’ve had luck on sites like Rue Lala and Last Call when I keep an open mind and am less hung up on searching for a specific item.

It’s kind of fun starting over… now I am waiting for the weather outside to cool down a bit so I can wear everything! 

Pink Diamond Eternity Band

My husband and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary in late May, but between my nasal surgery, work travel, and general life craziness we never ordered my special gift in time for our anniversary. But late is better than never and after a month in production, I recently received my anniversary gift: a light pink diamond eternity band set in rose gold.


Pink Eternity Band by Zina Tahiri

It sounds extravagant and in person, it looks very extravagant. But, I wanted to share with you the designer who made my ring because she really delivered an amazing piece at a surprising price.

I wanted a pink diamond band because I wanted something that could stand out on its own from my three stone engagement ring. I also like the idea of mixing and matching as I get older and acquire more jewelry. I was one of those nerdy kids with a rock collection, and I have remained interested in what makes stones different or how you can identify which part of the world a stone is from. I would love to own a full collection of diamonds in different colors and other precious gemstones.

We initially got a casual quote from Lester Lambert when they were on Oak Street. I don’t mind paying a premium for quality and having a fancy stamp inside of your jewelry does decrease depreciation if you want to sell a piece later.

Lester Lambert quoted us around $5,500 for a normal pave style pink diamond ring. We thought that was reasonable, and sincerely intended to order from them. But they closed for a period of time to switch locations and we didn’t want to place an order for a piece to be made while they were moving.

I looked on the web, and I found a smaller designer on Etsy named Zina Tahiri (ZinaFineJewelry) who specializes in stacking rings using a variety of gemstones and 18K gold. I noticed that she offers genuine Argyle pink diamonds in VS2-SI1 quality, which is decent clarity for colored stones (color intensity is the primary factor in their value). And the price is 1/5 what I was quoted from the upscale local jeweler.


I received my band in the mail this week, and I am in love. My bezel setting eternity ring is wonderfully crafted and Zina added size beads without blocking any of the light in any stone. The stones are extremely sparkly and depending on the light range from a soft nude pink to a gorgeous purplish-pink.

I chose a bezel setting because you don’t have to worry about prongs becoming loose, the extra metal contrasts better with my engagement ring, and for some reason, the bezel setting really amplifies diamonds in the same way a halo does.

We’re holding onto most of our savings, but I did book our stay in a 5-star hotel for my college roommate’s wedding weekend.

I know it can be nerve-wracking to purchase jewelry online, and I hope anyone researching colored diamond anniversary rings or independent jewelry designer Zina Tahiri finds my review helpful.

Enjoy the rest of the week!


Billy Reid Fold Over Clutch

Distressed leather clutch by American designer Billy Reid

I had a bagalicious birthday this year, and I have been wearing this distressed leather fold over clutch by Billy Reid on repeat.

Here’s why I absolutely love it (besides the obvious “my husband picked it out”):

  1. It’s extremely lightweight. (It’s great for tucking into a bigger work bag.)
  2. Since the clutch features distressed scraped leather, it doesn’t need to be babied too much.
  3. It adds some edge to my outfits for lunch time client meetings.
  4. The clutch gives some visual texture to simple pieces like shift dresses and other work basics.
  5. Since it’s not logo-y, I feel comfortable wearing it anywhere and it leaves others wondering who the designer is.

As for any cons, it requires more coordination to get things in and out. There’s also the usual issues with clutches, such as having to squeeze it under your arm if you need your hands free.

I also received a new shoulder bag, but I will give it its own post. I can’t explain why I love bags, but I just do. I am a total bag girl. Since I like high quality bags, I usually only get a new bag maybe once a year. Two is a treat. Two in the same week is a huge treat for me!

I cannot wait for Billy Reid’s new fall collection. I have been really happy with all of the pieces I have bought from them thus far, like the Lanna knit dress, and I get a lot of compliments too! I don’t know what is coming in, but I know I want a new sweater and hopefully a new sweater dress to wear with the Stuart Weitzman grey over-the-knee boots I pre-ordered for fall.

The team in Billy Reid’s West Loop, Chicago location could not be more knowledgable, friendly and helpful, so it’s a store I enjoy shopping in and recommending to others.

Who is your favorite small, unexpected or unknown handbag designer?

Happy 4th of July from Kiawah

Hello! And I’m wishing you a happy Independence Day from Kiawah Island, SC. It feels great to relax and press “reset.” After a little extra sun today, I’m cooling off in our hotel room and that gives me some time to write.

We are having a great time in South Carolina. My husband and I are total Southern Charm fans, history nerds and foodies, so it was fun for us to visit Charleston. We checked out Leon’s Fine Poultry & Oysters for lunch and Slightly North of Broad (i.e., S.N.O.B.) for dinner and we greatly enjoyed our meals and cocktails. We didn’t spot our favorite reality T.V. stars, but we did stumble on Patricia Altschul’s Mikell House mansion.

Peach salad from Slightly North of Broad in Charleston

Kiawah has been lovely. It’s a very laid-back resort island. If you’re not a golfer (we’re not) or a parent of young kids (we’re not), then the only things to do at The Sanctuary are eat, drink, spa or hang out by the water.

We enjoyed a couple’s massage at the spa this morning and it was just heavenly. Spa amenities include a sauna, steam room, whirlpool and these homemade sweet tea pecans that were absolutely addictive. I had a pedicure earlier in the weekend while my husband went shark fishing. Funny enough, the guys paid for the fishing excursion but then prayed they wouldn’t catch anything because they would feel bad. They did end up catching two sharks they released.

Couple kissing on the beach in South Carolina

Tonight we’re going to a barbecue on the beach before watching the fireworks. There’s nothing in this world I love more than Southern barbecue (except for Pierre, obviously)… I live for it. I’m going to get my fill of it tonight to hold me over for the Windy City Smokeout – featuring Martin’s BBQ from Nashville and Pappy’s from Saint Louis!

Chicago's Windy City Smokeout BBQ and country music festival

I want everyone to join me in stuffing our faces with barbecue (which is a noun and not a verb, by the way). Use my promo code from now through July 7th for discounted GA 3-day passes – $75 for live music (click here for the line up) and access to delicious BBQ and Big Gay Ice Cream!

Promo code: CHIC (3-day passes are normally $110, so it’s a $35 savings per ticket!)

Want to see where we went and what we ate while in the Low Country? Follow me on Instagram or on Snapchat @NikkiKanter.

Mother’s Day Ideas with Soft Surroundings

Mother’s Day is around the corner. I am having nasal surgery this week, and I wish I could see my mom. She is going to stay in Nashville, but I will see my husband’s mother all week as she is taking care of me for the first week in my recovery. I had to make sure to find something for my mom before my surgery, so I could ship something in time.

I was recently invited to the grand opening for the new Soft Surroundings store in Naperville, a suburb of Chicago. I took a look around their website, and while my personal style tends to be more urban and modern, they offer the kind of merchandise my mom loves. Mom is a very casual dresser and she loves bright colors. She is also a fan of decorating with patterns.

Soft Surroundings Store

First thoughts: The new Naperville store was absolutely packed on its opening day. It was full of women who were about the same age as my mother. My chances of success increased. Awesome.

Gift Display

Secrets Book

Sassy Magnet

I noticed that Soft Surroundings sells some really cute accessories and gifts. I was really fond of their well packaged lip balms and novelty books. Soft Surroundings is a pretty good little gift shop – they have lots of selection!

Soft Surroundings offers petite clothing sizes in addition to women’s and misses sizes.

Solution Wall

Brow Solution Wall

Also, their “Solution Walls” in their beauty section cannot be beat. You know how at Sephora, you have to go brand display to brand display and most of your options for brows are pencils or wax? Soft Surroundings has an entire wall dedicated to thickening those brows up with serums, powders, pencils and more. I love it!

Sunglasses at Soft Surroundings

Me having a little fun with an awesome pair of sunglasses I found…

Line at Soft Surroundings

I was serious about the new Naperville location being packed. That was the line to pay. It was crazy. As I walked back to my car, some women noticed my shopping bag and stopped me to ask where the new store was located (across from Anthropologie).

You can shop Soft Surroundings online here. All orders ship Fedex 2-Day shipping, but shipping fees scale based on the size of your order.

I normally pick out our gift to my husband’s mother too, but I got hit with a nasty cold and sinus infection this week (hence, the need for nasal surgery), so that one is now on my husband.

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