Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for Guys

 

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we thought we would put together a guide of great gifts for the special guy in your life.

valentine'sgift guide

Watch

My husband loves watches. Like, he loves, loves watches. I think it is his way of being able dress up or down his outfits and feel put together. He has a whole collection of watches and is always wanting more (basically his version of girls and their shoes/purses!). I am always hesitant to get him a watch because he is really particular and hard to please. Luckily, I hit a home run this year. I got him a Jord watch and he wears it ALL.THE.TIME. I made him come out in the snow in freezing temperatures to model for me how nice this watch is.

For those that aren’t familiar with Jord, they are excellent quality wooden watches. Some of the awesome benefits of Jord watches are:

  • Most watch backplates are able to be engraved (perfect for a sweet message on Valentine’s Day)
  • They have automatic styles which was a must have for my husband
  • The watch can be sized for the person which makes for better fit and comfort
  • The box that the watch comes in is a beautiful wooden box. My husband actually keeps it on our dresser and it looks like part of the decor
  • They have a one year warranty
  • For the fitness guys they even have Apple watch bands
  • FREE SHIPPING. Because lets be real, its 2019 you shouldn’t pay for shipping

And because Jord is so awesome they are letting our readers enter a contest for a $100 gift code to spend toward any watch in their collection. Enter HERE.

Bluetooth Speaker

This speaker is perfect for parties, BBQ’s, bringing to the beach (it is waterproof!), in the garage and can easily pack for vacation. This speaker on Amazon is rated 4.5 stars has over 31,000 reviews!!!

Wine

Sharing a nice bottle of red wine just screams Valentine’s Day. You can’t go wrong with one of our absolute favorite red wine, Caymus. Make a fire and get cozy watching a movie with a glass of wine and have a low key Valentine’s Day.

Workout Gear

If you want your guy to look good while working out or just running errands and going from one kids activity to another, we highly recommend getting “cute” gear for them. Old Navy has a great line of athletic wear and my husband has several things from them and loves them all.

I got an ON sweatshirt for my husband for Christmas and he has worn it on repeat ever since. The best part- the price won’t break the bank. Sweatshirt

My husband really likes these ON tshirts when he is working out to help wick away his sweat. Tshirt

Yeti

Our family swears by Yeti brand products. I have taken my Yeti tumbler filled with ice water and left it in my SUV in 90 degree heat for hours and when I come back, the thing still has ice cubes in my cup. These are great for the beach, pool, on the go. They are worth every penny. We use them every.single.day. Tumbler

My parents splurged and bought a Yeti cooler. I thought they were crazy at first but when I watched that cooler keep drinks and food cold for DAYS I was sold. If you want to get a quality gift that will benefit the family for years to come, I recommend the cooler. Cooler

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Thank you to JORD for helping sponsor this post by providing the watch and allowing us to review their products.

Christmas Movies & Wine Pairings

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photo from amazon.com

‘Tis the season for getting cozy in front of the fireplace with a glass of wine and a Christmas movie. Today we thought we’d share our top five holiday movies and what wine we think would pair best.

  1. The Christmas Chronicles with Pinot Noir

    • this new movie is a new Netflix hit, just like a glass of big ole glass of Red
  2. Christmas Vacation with Chardonnay

    • this Christmas comedy is best paired with a classic white
  3. Home Alone with Zinfandel

    • no one will tell if you drink the whole bottle when you’re home alone
  4. A Christmas Story with Prosecco

    • Don’t shoot your eye out when you pop the bottle!
  5. The Holiday with Sauvignon blanc

    • Grab a girlfriend and this versatile wine for a Christmas rom com

Share with us your favorite movie and wine pairing! Enjoy the holidays!

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Five Brunch Menus in the (far northwest) Burbs We Love

Perfect Brunching outfit tee & jeans from Nordstrom paired with Tieks

We think Sunday brunch is the perfect way to end your weekend – it has breakfast and lunch items, desserts, and bubbly – it’s everything! Brunch is perfect for families (plenty of options for even the pickiest eaters), QT with your gal pals, and a mid-morning date with your SO.

Since we love it so, we’re always looking out for new places, but have to admit, we venture back to our tried and true favorites and here they are:

  1. Pinstripes | South Barrington
    • Bottomless buffet style brunch and bowling, is right up our alley! We love the casual yet upscale atmosphere, and during the warmer weather sitting outside on their killer patio, sipping our $4 mimosas or $7 bloody mary’s. Stick around to check out the amazing shops in the Arboretum of South Barrington.
  2. Beelow’s |Lake Zurich
    • Featuring a Prime rib carving station, omelet and waffle stations, and plenty of drink offerings, this Farm to Table brunch is our spot before we hit up Deer Park Town Center for some shopping.
  3. Port Edward | Algonquin
    • There’s a reason their champagne brunch is Award Winning – it’s full of seafood, including crab claws and lobster tails, along with made to order omelets, london broil carving station and a chocolate fountain, oh and champagne is included, or you can get yourself a bloody mary for $5.
  4. Benedict’s La Strada |Crystal Lake
    • While it’s not a buffet, Benedict’s menu is one of the best for brunch. From traditional breakfast items, benedicts, stratas, to lunch salads, sandwiches, you can’t pick wrong. They serve coffee by Intelligentsia, fresh squeezed OJ make their mimosa’s tasty and their homemade bloody mary mix is a good one. {myBAB note: beignets are not available on Sundays}
  5. Brunch Cafe | McHenry, Fox River Grove, Huntley, St. Charles, Niles, Roselle, and Kildeer coming soon
    • Well-known for their twist on the regular menu items like chocolate bacon pancakes, breakfast sliders and fruity pebble baby cakes for the little brunchers, this not-so hidden gem is worth the visit. The menu includes lunch options, but we tend to stick to the breakfast and brunch items with a strawberry mimosa. {mBAB tip: join the wait list before you go}

Do you have a favorite brunch spot? Tell us below.

Shop the look:

Tee

Jeans

Shoes

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Sipping with Moms ~ Ilana Austin

Hooray
We’re back with another mom who we know is rocking all things mom life. We *met* Ilana via Instagram and are so happy to have connected! Sip along with us and meet Ilana Austin!

Ilana

Photo of Ilana and her little prince! ❤

How many kids do you have and what are their ages?

3 – ages 7, almost 5, & 6 months (on August 1!!)

What is your 9 to 5?

I’m an executive recruiter @ PepsiCo & absolutely LOVE it!

Describe motherhood in three words:

Exhausting
Hilarious
Consuming

MyBAB: we so agree!

Picture this – you’re home alone, what series are you binge watching?

Friends!

MyBAB: Yes, we love Friends too! 

We love discovering new beauty products, which are your favorites?

I’ve just discovered Younique’s daily moisturizer & bronze powder – spf included in both!

MyBAB: we’ll have to check these out! 

Where is your happy place?

At a pool, in the heat, with my kids laughing or sleeping and a cold cocktail!

MyBAB: save us a seat at the pool and a drink! We could also go for a nap. 

What is your most loved item in your closet right now?

My ripped camo shorts….which my husband calls my hooker shorts!

What is your drink of choice?

Coffee, water, Champagne, or a proper French martini
The people who love me the most sent Veuve when my son was born – they know what I really needed!

MyBAB: we like the way you drink! cheers! 

We know mom time is precious, what do you like to do when you have some me time?

Sleep!!!!!
Pilates
Sleep

Since we focus on Chicagoland – kids activities, family fun, and date nights, what are your go-to places for each?

Date – anything sushi. Roka Akor, Tanoshii, Arami
Kids – emerald city theatre, super soccer stars, Barnes & Noble
Family – Eataly, the 606, weekend festivals!

What is something you are working on?

Trying to be more patient with my family! And trying not to care that being a mom is holding me back in corporate America.

MyBAB: we love this! 

As a working mom, how do you balance it *all*?

I certainly don’t think I do! But I keep my head above water (most days) by: rarely showering, relying on my husband to help with kid duties & cooking, outsourcing help (carpool, groceries, laundry, etc.), and waking up at 5am so that I can get a full hour of uninterrupted work done!

MyBAB: We too rely on our husbands and outsourcing – though we’re jealous of the laundry outsourcing-sign us up! 

Where can people find you?

Insta -@ilana.austin

Thanks to Ilana for letting us get to know her a little bit more!

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale – MyBAB Picks

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Early Access is well underway for cardholders and we couldn’t wait to fill our carts.

Not a cardholder? You can apply here or the sale opens to the public on July 20th.

Last year there were several must have’s that sold out during Early Access and never restocked. We’ve also been seeing several items that are online exclusives. MyBAB tip – buy all the things now!

Since there are so many great items on sale, we wanted to share our top pieces based on when we’ll be wearing them.

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What’s Up Wednesday

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image from here

 

Today Jen is talking about what is up with her lately. Enjoy!

What we’re eating this week:

I have no idea. I have been beyond terrible about meal planning. Most nights we wing it. Which means it is either: taco’s, breakfast for dinner, grilling or pizza. I really could use a personal chef.

What I’m Reminiscing About:

Hanging out with my friends and family during the Holiday week/my birthday week last week.

What I’m Loving:

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My new Apple iWatch. I got it for my birthday and I am loving it. I was on the fence about getting one for awhile and everyone who had one convinced me to get one. I am so glad they did! Not only does it give me a kick in the pants for fitness but it also is so helpful for letting me know when I get texts or calls. When my phone is in my purse or I am running around with the kids this is a super helpful feature. One of my favorite features since I sit at a desk all day is that it alerts me when I have been sitting 50 minutes and should get up and move around. Game changer. I have even gone swimming with it at our local pool a few times and it works great.

What We’ve Been Up To:

Summer camp, going to the park, swimming, eating ice cream and going to bed past our bedtime

What I’m Dreading:

The end of summer. Depressing I know, but I feel like we have been having so much fun this summer I don’t want it to end.

What I’m Working On:

A packing list for our next vacation. I have to make sure I bring the right clothes for me and the kids.

What I’m Excited About:

Going on vacation next week. We are leaving for Lake Tahoe on a family trip. We have never been and are super excited. If anyone has tips or spots they recommend let me know. We plan on doing a river raft ride, kayaking, hiking and renting a boat while we are there.

What I’m watching/reading:

Watching: Anything on Bravo but really loving Southern Charm. Cam is my absolute favorite and the comments she gives. #amazing.

southern charm

Reading: The President is Missing by James Patterson. I am almost done and so far it is a really good read. For those of you who may not be a fan of Bill Clinton I wouldn’t discount the book because he helped co-write.

book

 

What I’m Listening To:

Podcasts: I need more suggestions but my favorite lately is Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard

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Maroon 5: Girl Like You. This song is on repeat in my head. And I am not complaining

What I’m Wearing:

Workout clothes, swimsuits, flip flops. I only need to wear “real” clothes one day a week (I work from home 4 days a week). So most likely when you see me I am rocking comfy clothes. Although this past weekend I went to my cousin’s wedding and my dress was from Rent the Runway. I have been 2/2 with Rent the Runway and am really liking the results.

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What I’m Doing This Weekend:

Hanging out at the pool/park. Dinner at one of our favorite spots, Cooper’s Hawk and then hanging out with some friends. Perfect summer weekend.

What I’m Looking Forward to Next Month:

Well next month I will have a 1st grader and Pre-K. So as much as I am looking forward to school starting I am sad that the kids are getting so big!!

 

Sipping with Moms~ Kim Manning

Hooray

This month in our Sipping with Moms series we are featuring our friend, Kim Manning. You can follow her on IG @succulentsandstilettos and on her website http://www.succulentsandstilettos.com

Kim Manning

We love polka dots and pink therefore we love this outfit!!

Now for the questions we ask each month…

How many kids do you have and what are their ages?

I have 2 kids, my daughter is 10 and my son is 7

What is your 9 to 5?

I have just recently started a blog and website; http://www.succulentsandstilettos.com that focuses on my lifestyle (fashion, fitness, family and home decor) but I also provide stylist services for both fashion and home decorating and this has taken up way more time then I thought ha ha! But I absolutely love it! During the school year I am a substitute at my kiddos school and in the Summer I consider myself a domestic goddess, event coordinator, taxi service and personal chef ha ha!

Describe motherhood in three words

So Freaking Tired…… ha ha also Love, patience and adventure (every day is an adventure)

MyBAB: We are also So. Freaking. Tired

Picture this – you’re home alone, what series are you binge watching?

This is Us because I ball my eyes out every single time and I don’t want my kids to think I just sit and cry every day ha ha!

MyBAB: It is amazing that this show really can pull at your Mama heartstrings and get us to cry every dang episode. You are not alone!

Speaking of TV, which TV/movie mom do you relate to the most?

I would say Claire Dunphy from Modern Family although I’m not as controlling as her, I have a bit of sarcasm that gets us through the day and I can get kinda crazy at times but what mom doesn’t ha! I love how she doesn’t mind embarrassing her kids a bit but always does it to teach them a lesson, she’s a supportive wife and mother when it comes down to it and has a good work ethic and she dresses cute too :).

We love discovering new beauty products, which are your favorites?

The wet brush is a must
It’s a 10 Miracle leave-in for the hair
Pssssst Dry Shampoo
Revlon’s wild orchid lipstick is a must for a fun night out on the town!
MyBAB: A Wetbrush changed my life when it comes to post bath with my daughter. Also, we aren’t lipstick girls so we will have to try Revlon’s wild orchid to spice it up!!

Where is your happy place?

Michigan,  whether it’s the Dunes/beach with my family or at the wineries I love Michigan, I grew up going here with my family and I just love it! There’s a reason they have their own commercial ya know ha!

MyBAB: Tim Allen makes me want to go to Michigan every single time he speaks in those ads so I can understand

What is your most loved item in your closet right now?

My Birks (Birkenstocks) sandals, they are definitely a staple for me and I love throwing them on with a casual outfit!

MyBAB: We are a little shocked your answer wasn’t Adidas but we can completely appreciate how comfy birks are and is giving us major 90’s flashbacks!!

What is your drink of choice?

Non Alcohol – A morning coffee, Chai Tea Latte with almond milk
Alcohol – A Mojito
I like mint 🙂
MyBAB: Jen here, we are on the opposite spectrum when it comes to choice of beverages. Haha. I don’t do coffee, tea, almond milk or mint in food/drinks.

We know mom time is precious, what do you like to do when you have some me time?

My ideal “me time” day is getting a long, awesome work out in, grabbing a yummy coffee and then taking a nice drive to some fun antique stores and shopping all day long by myself  🙂

Money is no object, what is one thing you want?

Birkin Bag Please 🙂 I love a nice handbag

Since we focus on Chicagoland – kids activities, family fun, and date nights, what are your go-to places for each?

Kids Activities – My kids love going to the park/playground so we tend to do park field trips around the Chicago suburbs, weird I know but it’s so much fun and free! I google parks around different suburbs and we take the day to drive around and hit each park.  Some of our favorites from LY were
Kids Castle at Deerpath Park (Vernon Hills)
Bisons’s Bluff (Shaumburg)
Hummingbird Park (Palatine)
Citizens Park (Barrington)
Paulus Park (Lake Zurich)
SEBA park (South Elgin)
Family Fun – Definitely going downtown, so much to do for the kids and mom and dad. We love Maggie Daley Park, staying in a hotel with an indoor pool (The Swissotel, Radisson Blu Aqua or Hampton Inn downtown, all great hotels for the fam),museums, shopping, the Chicago river, navy pier, I guess I can go on and on ha!
Local Family Fun – Definitely Three Oaks Beach and Dukes on the water, we love this place and it’s fun for the whole family!
Date Nights – ummm do these still exist? HA we don’t get to do too many of these and when we do it’s out of town on vacation or downtown with other couples, however we usually stay local and are super chill so for us it’s grabbing dinner and a drink at Cary Ale House and sitting outside on the patio or we love Kief’s Reef (on the fox river) and sitting outside at the sandbar and having a fun cocktail.

 

Bonus question: Given your love for succulents, what are your tips for caring for succulents? (Jen may or may not have killed 3 recently….ugh)

Ha ha ha guess what, my secret is I only buy faux succulents 🙂 I also recommend the air succulents as thy are real but don’t die :). But succulents don’t like to have dry feet (as I was told by the employee at Home Depot) so make sure there is a hole in the planter so that the water drains through and if they are outside and are getting too much sun, place them in the shade for a bit :). It’s also good to mix any soil with pebbles, sand or gravel for better drainage. OK well I hope that helps a bit but I would say just go with faux :).

MyBAB: Jen here, OK, so I should have known this before I attempted to keep things alive in my house other than my children. I should have done faux. Grr. I have no clue what is wrong with me but it is impossible for me to keep plants alive.

Bonus question: We have major arm envy, what are some exercises you do for those killer arms?

You guys are too funny, I wish I could say they magically appeared but that’s not the case :). I do a major arm workout every Friday that incorporates the biceps, triceps and shoulders.  My best advise is to do pushups every day. I would do a set of 10 normal pushups, 15 wall pushups and then plank for a minute and that will definitely work your arms, throw in 10 burpees in there and just call yourself Jillian Michaels ha ha !

MyBAB: Adding these to our daily routine.

Thanks to Kim for letting us get to know her a little bit more! Please make sure to follow her and visit her website. She had the cutest posts, outfits, decor, style and more.

Reading with Bookroo

Here is a sad Mom confession for me: my kids do not like reading. I, on the other hand am obsessed, like if I could read all day everyday I would be in heaven. To my kids, it is like a form of torture (I blame this on their father, haha!). I have been trying for a long time to get them more engaged in reading, especially my son who will be in first grade in the fall. When Bookroo reached out to Wen and I and asked if we wanted to try their service, I literally jumped at the chance. Anything to engage my kids in reading the better.

Bookroo is like Birchbox for books. It is a monthly subscription service and you pick the age group you want a box for and then magically they are delivered to your doorstep. They have board books for ages 0-3, picture books for ages 2-6 (which I ordered) and then chapter books for ages 7-10. Bookroo prides itself on having books that you most likely don’t already have in your library collection so that it creates fun every month.

I picked the picture books for ages 2-6 because I have a 4 and 6 year old and thought I would have the best chance to engage them with picture books.

Lets discuss when I first got the box, it was super cute in the box it was delivered in. That immediately got me excited.

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When I opened the box the books were wrapped so pretty it was kind of like Christmas morning. I knew that this fact alone was guaranteed to make my kids excited because, lets be real they LOVE to open presents.

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I let my daughter open the books because she was home from camp because she wasn’t feeling well and I thought this would help cheer her up. Oh boy was I right. She loved opening the books and quickly claimed they were hers and wanted to immediately read them. #momwin

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This is her “reading face”

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We got two books in the box. Wally Does Not Want a Haircut is about a sheep who is afraid to get a haircut. It was cute and Brooke’s favorite. The other book was The Red Boat about a girl who was scared about moving to a new place and meeting new friends and how her Red Boat helped her adjust. I highly recommend this book for kids who are transitioning to something new.

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Some other great benefits of Bookroo include:

  • The books are reviewed by a panel of families attending Stanford University
  • The company is women founded and run, by three sisters-in-law (we love supporting women businesses!!)
  • Picture books come with 2 hardcover books. Board book boxes have 3 books and Chapter books have 2 books.
  • If you have kids across age ranges (lets say you want picture books and chapter books) you can customize it so that every other month one box comes. For example: July would be picture books and August would be chapter books. Or, just order two boxes!!

Bookroo has a special deal for all MyBAB readers and right now you can get 50% off the first month of any board or picture book box or 40% off the first month of any chapter book box with the code: JENWEN773

Getting kids to stay engaged in reading during the summer is always a struggle so any ways to make it easier and more fun we are all for.

Thank you so much to Bookroo for providing us a box. All reviews and opinions are our own.

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Car Packing for a Road Trip with Kids

Why hello Summer. We waited a long winter for you. Now that you’re here, we’re ready for road trips!

We know first-hand how stressful road trips can be – all the packing, the question of are we there yet, or the dreaded I’m bored – younger children like ours are often bored and restless sitting for long trips, we do understand how they feel.

Since we’ll be hitting the road in the next few weeks, we decided to take a new approach to how we tackle the drive with our littles – not only with less screen time, but also trying to make the road trip more enjoyable for all of us. We have learned over the past years a few tips and will be incorporating a few more of what to pack for the road. Here’s our top 5:

1. Bag of Non-Tech Activities: The Target Dollar Spot was our go-to to find some cheap and fun activities to do along the way. A new “road trip” bag was a perfect way to introduce the new things like mad libs, activity book, sticker books, boogie boards, felt tic-tac-toe (for the hotel), and a new notebook. We also picked up a couple new books to read along the way that will double as bedtime stories. Keep the bag within reach!

2. Tech Activities: We have both an iPad and Kindle Fire to charge and load up with educational games, TV shows, and movies. Don’t forget the headphones – the Buddyphones are a favorite. We’ll limit the tech time, as we usually do, but we find in high traffic (and when directions are needed) the tech time is great all around.

3. Snacks, Snacks, and more Snacks: While we’re big fans of “gas station snacks”, some healthier options like grapes, cheese sticks, and pretzels a

re thrown in. As for drinks, we limit juice boxes in general, and with the sugary snacks we’ll all be eating, a good water bottle or two is essential. We love the contigo and bkr water bottles. We have a soft-sided cooler we bring and a reusable grocery bag. We’ve tried using reusable sandwich bags and lunchbot containers, but in the end, pre-packaged and regular ziploc sandwich bags are the way to go. (Sorry environment) As always, use caution when giving children food in the car.

4. Audiobooks/Podcasts/Playlists: This is a new one for us that we’re excited to try out. We’ve been crowd-sourcing some family friendly podcasts and audiobooks for all of us to enjoy along the way. A couple we’ll be listening to: Wow in the World Podcast; But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids; Story Pirates for podcasts. We’re kicking it old school with Beverly Cleary and Ronald Dahl for audiobooks. Since we canceled our XM subscription, we’ve also put together a couple playlists that are kid appropriate to avoid static radio play.

5. Health and Safety: The car is usually stocked with some health and safety essentials  – they’ve come in handy at the park and soccer field – so this is always in the car. It’s packed with ibuprofen , bandaids, benedryl stick, Neosporin, a nail kit with tweezers, pepto, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, bug balm; wet wipes and a couple plastic bags (for garbage) are in the back seat pocket. During planned pit stops, it’s convenient to have to spray on sunscreen and run around for a few minutes at a park.

We’re ready to hit the road, happy travels!