Winter Date Ideas

Looking for something else to do when temperatures drop and you're bored of the same old bars? Here's our list of date ideas that will keep things exciting even when the weather is drab!

AROUND CHICAGO

1. Ice Skating Try Millennium Park's newest addition to their collection of ice rinks: an ice ribbon! When your muscles get tired and your nose is sufficiently frozen, warm up inside with a hot chocolate (with whipped cream, of course!).

2. Adler Planetarium Gaze at the stars here in the big city! Explore one of the Adler's many exhibitions or shows, and take a peek at their schedule of Illinois resident discount days.

3. Chicago Cultural Center Take advantage of all the amazing shows and exhibitions the cultural center has to offer! From music, theater, dance, visual arts and more, there is something for everyone!

4. BYOB Painting Get to know your creative side and attend a painting class! One Strange Bird in Wicker Park provides a fun, relaxed environment for your next date night - the only thing you need to bring is the wine! Sign up online here.

5. Arcade Bar Heat things up by challenging your date to a competition! Emporium in Wicker Park and Logan Square and Headquarters Beercade in Lincoln Park have great selections of old school and new games (not to mention great beer lists!).

Stuck at home? Snowed in? Just plain don't want to go outside? We don't blame you. Here are 5 more ideas for when date night includes flannel jammies.

at home

1. Cook a new recipe together Experiment! Try that weird ingredient you've been meaning to try for ages. Ask grandma for her famous cookie recipe. Relax and chow down.

2. Foot rub, wine, and Netflix This one is pretty self explanatory. Light a cozy fire while you're at it!

3. Table Topics A conversation starter more than a game, Table Topics comes in a variety of subjects. Try the one for couples!

4. Read to each other When you're tired of the television or board games, cuddle up in a blanket and share your favorite book or short story.

5. Build a fort and sleep in it Act like a kid again! Make your fort super comfy with extra pillows and blankets. Get real fancy by adding twinkle lights.

Cozy up to your loved one and enjoy!

Warm hugs,

Amanda

Winter Health Tips

Baby, it's cold outside! Motivation seem to slow and sticking to those resolutions gets harder as the degrees drop. Keep yourself focused, calm, and centered with these easy-to-implement health tips. 

EAT TO LIVE

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I don't like the word "diet." Dieting is a mental state that just makes you think of all the things you're missing. Instead of going on a diet and focusing on all the things you're getting rid of, try incorporating more lively and colorful foods into your daily routine. Think of all the possibilities for a homemade stir fry, colorful smoothie, or roasted veggie dish The more vitamins and minerals you eat from whole, unprocessed food, the less you'll crave and be hungry for the junk.

GET MOVING

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I personally have always loved exercise, but I know I'm in the minority here. It's hard for me to stay motivated when it's this cold outside, but I think of exercise as something I do to make myself feel awesome afterward. Bored of the same ol' activity? Switch up your routine! Try yoga instead of running one day, take a dance class (or have a solo dance party in your living room), or even just go on a brisk 30 minute walk with a friend. The more your blood gets pumping the better (and warmer!) you'll feel.

LESS SUGAR/ALCOHOL/CAFFEINE

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Like it or not, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol are all drugs. Reducing your intake of any of these will do wonders for you health. Of course, everything in moderation here - if you starve yourself of sugar and then binge later, that will be counterproductive. Limit your self to treats on the weekends, or maybe one day per week. I had to start telling myself to think of treats as "treats" - only having them on special days and not everyday. Try snacking on raisins or fruit instead of candy, substitute that 3rd cup of coffee for green or herbal tea, and limit those happy hours when you can. 

DRINK. MORE. WATER.


You hear it time and time again - practically every health tip blog will include this, and there's a multitude of great reasons. I always start my day off with at least 8 oz of water, if not 16 oz (yes, even before coffee or tea!). Think about it: you just spent 7+ hours going without water while you were sleeping - your body is already dehydrated. One of the worst things you could do would be to immediately introduce substances that could dehydrate you even further (*ahem*, caffeine, we're looking at you). Try drinking a glass of water before your morning coffee and notice the difference of how it makes you feel. I carry a 32 oz. water bottle with me practically at all times which helps me measure how much I'm drinking per day. Water helps lubricate joints and muscles, improves brain function, increases energy levels (!!), and can aid in weight loss, among a whole host of other benefits. If you find the taste of water boring, try infusing some herbs like mint or a squeeze of lemon or orange for some added flavor. 

PERSONAL TIME

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I notice myself getting super stressed when I don't reserve time for myself. My mother used to tell me to be mindful about guarding your personal time, and moms are almost always right! For the lucky ones, maybe you have 1 full day to yourself a week. If you're schedule is too crazy, or if you have kids, reserving even just 15 minutes a day to meditate, journal, or do other activities important to you will do wonders in keeping you sane. Try taking up a new hobby, drawing, learn to knit, joining a book club, reading on your own, scrapbooking, painting your nails, or taking a bath! Not sure where to start? Join us for a class and learn a new skill in a couple of hours! Link to see our class schedule here

When you start to feel pulled in too many directions, slow down and take some time for yourself. Trust me, not only will you feel better, the people around you will appreciate it as well!

In good health!
Amanda

Disclaimer: As the author, I have based my writings upon my own experiences, beliefs, and extensive research regarding the topics covered in this blog. However, I am not a medical doctor, nurse, or medical professional formally qualified in this subject matter. The information contained in this blog is not intended to be construed in any manner as medical advice. All diet and exercise decisions should be made with the approval of your health care provider. Please read and use the information that you derive from this blog appropriately and at your own risk. 

How to Tuesday: Winter Skin Care

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Feeling like you have dragon scales for skin lately? You're not alone. Anybody's skin can freak out when it's exposed to the harsh winter air, especially in frigid Chicago! My skin is a combination of acne-prone and sensitive (yipee!), so I have a plethora of tips for every skin type to get you through this winter onward to spring! Here are five of my favorite tricks for keeping your skin happy in wintry weather:

1. Change Your Moisturizer This one may seem scary if you're a brand addict, but it's definitely worth a try. I completely ditched pre-mixed, chemical-laden moisturizers for my face when I was having trouble with acne, and I've never looked back. Instead, I use a variety of oils (yes, oils) to moisturize my skin. I absolutely swear by grapeseed oil for my face. It's one of the lighter oils that not only moisturizes very well, but also has light astringent action for tightening your pores. If your skin is sensitive and on the dry side, almond or avocado work very well. You can also use these oils on your body for an all-over moisturizer. Apply the oil to your face and body right when you get out of the shower to lock in the extra moisture.

2. Water Water Water You hear it time and time again because it is SO TRUE. All of your moisturizing won't mean squat unless you're hydrating your insides. If the flavor of plain water bores you, try herbal tea or a squeeze of orange or lemon added to your water. You could even play around with infusing your water with different fruit or herbs to give it a little kick (one of my favorite combos is ginger + mint, but you could also try other citrus, berries, or herbs). Stay away from too much caffeine or sugary drinks that not only dehydrate you, but zap your energy in the long run. 

3. Try a Humidifier I had the worst issues with dry nasal passages and itchy dry skin until I invested in a humidifier - it is my saving grace during the winter. Not only is the outside cold air harsh, but the dry air of indoor heating can seriously put stress your skin. Investing a few extra dollars in a humidifier is well worth it, especially if you get the sniffles. 

4. Don't Forget the Hand Cream! It's easy to forget about moisturizing your hands until it's already too late - you know the feeling. I feel like I'm constantly washing my hands to get paint off of them after teaching art classes or during my studio hours, so they tend to get extra dry. I've found that pretty much nothing comes close the the moisturizing power of Bonnie's Superbalm. This stuff is awesome - it heals cracked hands without being greasy, and has a light scent that doesn't upset my allergies. Bonnie's line of skin care is made specifically for people with sensitive skin and other issues like eczema, and what's more, it feels like a dream. (Link to purchase at bottom!)

5. Homemade Masks I tend to use my kitchen as my laboratory for whipping up skin care concoctions, because it's so easy and affordable! Masks are a great way to revive your skin if it needs a little perking up. Here are a few of my favorites:

Yogurt - The lactic acid in yogurt helps to gently exfoliate dead skin cells making way for glowy skin. Apply it straight out of the container and leave on for at least 15-20 minutes. Great for all skin types. 

Oatmeal - Add 1/2 cup warm (not hot) water to 1/3 cup of oats and let it absorb. Add 2 tablespoons of honey for staying power, and apply to face. This one is especially good for sensitive skin.

Banana - Mash up 1/2 a banana and combine with a couple tablespoons of honey. Particularly helpful for dry or aging skin.

Honey - Honey is my all-time favorite mask for so many reasons. It not only moisturizes and gently exfoliates your skin, but also soothes irritated skin. The antibacterial properties of honey also make it a great mask for clearing acne. Apply a thin layer and leave on as long as you'd like, but at least 15 minutes. 

You are now fully prepped to get your own diy spa going at home. Warm hugs!

Amanda

CLICK PRODUCT TO PURCHASE

Disclaimer: As the author, I have based my writings upon my own experiences, beliefs, and extensive research regarding the topics covered in this blog. However, I am not a medical doctor, nurse, or medical professional formally qualified in this subject matter. The information contained in this blog is not intended to be construed in any manner as medical advice. All diet and exercise decisions should be made with the approval of your health care provider. Please read and use the information that you derive from this blog appropriately and at your own risk.