Hi,Pepperminters! I’M BACK! Did you miss me?! 🙂
When I first started a blog back three years ago, my goal was to share my ideas about food, fitness, fashion and frugality in the amazing city of Chicago. My little sister and I came up with the name “Pepperminting” to describe that best friend phenomenon in which we knew precisely what the other one was saying/thinking, and I was off! I have made lifelong friends through this blog, experienced amazing restaurants, and collaborated with incredible companies. My experience as a Chicago blogger was a fabulous one and I was sad to see it go.
I went through a lot of life changes this past year, some of which I’ll share on the blog when I’m ready; most, I’ll keep to myself. But throughout my 30th year of life, I’ve learned SO much and truly found happiness with my family and loved ones that have helped me in rough times and celebrated in good times! I decided to move back home to Cleveland for the summer to stay with my family and it has been a wonderful two months.
But my time in Cleveland has [temporarily] come to an end and now, comes the big news….
I MOVED TO NEW YORK CITY!
The future is bright, ya’ll! I’m officially moving to New York next week and I couldn’t be more excited. The first question people ask it “what part of New York are you moving to?” Guys. I’m moving to Manhattan. Like, the REAL real New York City. The actual NYC you see in Sex and the City or Elf! Big buildings, crazy rent… THAT New York! I know, I can’t believe it either.
I got an AMAZING teaching job and a beautiful apartment a mere one block away from each other – how about that commute, eh? I’ll be living and working in a neighborhood called Kips Bay (see below). It’s a great area for someone new to the city since it’s in the heart of the ‘grid’ system and I should be able to find my way home from pretty much anywhere in Manhattan!
So, most importantly, what does this mean for Pepperminting??
I’ll be making some important and exciting changes to this new adventure with my blog! I’ll cover the following categories 2-3 times per week:
I will also include tips on my first year in Manhattan as a midwestern girl. How will I creatively stay fit, fashionable and fabulous on a budget? I already have some ideas in the works, so stay tuned!
Thank you for all of your support in the past, I can’t wait for you guys to see new content in the future! Join me on my journey to New York City this fall. See you there! 🙂
As you all know by now, Chicago has been home for some years and I consider it home. The traffic can drive me crazy and I’ve gained about 10 pounds eating way too much pizza, but it has such a special place in my heart and I love trying out unique experiences here!
One special way to see the city of Chicago through a new lens is on a Mercury Skyline Cruise right down the Chicago River to Lake Michigan. I went on this scenic boat tour and enjoyed it SO MUCH I wanted to share with you!
The detail I loved most about the Mercury Skyline Cruise was the amazing guide that shared his knowledge about the city, the skyline’s history, and really cool tidbits of information about the architecture, famous Chicago characters, and significant events from the city’s past that made it what it is today. You truly appreciate Chicago so much more after hearing about the amazing trials and tribulations that the people have gone through the past 200 years, all while enjoying breathtaking views of the skyline.
There’s a cash bar aboard, and if you take the 6:15 pm cruise like I did, you’ll get a great show of the magnificent sunset, especially throughout the summer season! I seriously forgot I was in Chicago for a minute.
April 29 – October 10, 2016
10:15 am, 12:15 pm, 2:15 pm, 4:15 pm, 6:15 pm
My sister Angelina is getting married in just a few short weeks, and it was my honor to help throw her a fabulous bridal shower to celebrate. (Check out her chic Chicago bachelorette party details here!) She’s getting married in Québec, and has loved all things French since she was a little girl, so a Parisian-themed wedding shower was a no brainer. I worked diligently with my mom and the to put together a beautiful French-inspired brunch party for 45 of Angelina’s closest friends and family.We celebrated the shower at Market Beer in Rocky River, Ohio. Jill, the party planning manager, was absolutely fantastic to work with. Every request I had, she found a way to make it happen, and the rustic yet chic outdoor/indoor option was perfect for a summer party!
In order to stay with the Parisian theme, we decorated the space with elegant Martha Stewart tissue paper flowers, pink and white tablecloths, polka dot balloons, and feminine tulle bows for an extra pretty touch. The Chanel flower vases I made were so pretty in the sun! Grab my DIY instructions here!I also found a few Eiffel Towers and my talented aunt painted beautiful French scenes on 4×6 cardstock, which I placed in double-sided IKEA frames. I also created an easy crepe paper curtain with kite string – it looked so beautiful and swayed in the breeze! My mom had a CD filled with instrumental French café music, so we played that over the loud speaker and it really set a great tone for the afternoon.
I knew I wanted a unique shower – not just your typical “come, eat, and watch the bride open presents”. So I designed some ‘stations’ around the perimeter of the space for guests to take part in during their time with us! One area featured French lessons with Esther, a lovely tutor I found on Wyzant. She taught guests a few common French phrases, and also shared memories from her experiences in Paris.
Another table was meant for writing down your favorite date night idea for the newlyweds on popsicle sticks, as well as writing ‘flowers of love’ on cut outs and attaching them to a beautiful shadow box frame my mom and dad made with props from Michael’s!
I purchased this pre-made PDF from Etsy filled with French-themed photobooth props, then printed them at Staples and glued skewers on the back. What a fun easy way to spice up people’s photos! And of course, there were tables set up for made-t0-order omelettes, pastries, and eggs benedict.My favorite station at the shower was the DIY Flower Crown workshop. I ordered $100 worth of baby’s breath, daisies, and carnations (I could have probably ordered half, FYI) from Costco, and provided flower wire, cutters, tape, and ribbon. Guests measured out how much wire they needed, then wrapped the flowers around as they like, to create beautiful crowns to wear during the party! The idea was a hit, and all the women in our lives walking around wearing gorgeous flower crowns really added to the French feel. 🙂 Look for a separate blog post next week!
Near the end of the party, we made an announcement that if you wanted the bride to open your gift, head over to her sitting area and she would happily open it. If you did not care either way, you could continue to enjoy the party or head out. I was amazed by the amount of people who didn’t feel the need to see her open her gift! I think it speaks volumes to our patterns of bridal showers. If you’re looking for a more contemporary option, and to simply enjoy opening your gifts in the comfort of your home without feeling rushed, this is definitely an option. That way, guests who want to be there when you open it have the option to, and those who don’t can feel a little more free to stay or go.
What a beautiful day it turned out to be!
I’m always up for trying new things, especially in my city of Chicago, and especially when it’s warm outside! Kayak Chicago let me try out their architectural kayaking tour down the Chicago River, and it was such a cool and unique experience for tourists and local Chicagoans alike.
We had a group of 8 and we met off North Avenue for easy access to the Chicago River. Our South African guide, Bruno, was fantastic! He had really interesting bits of information to share about Chicago history and architecture, and took some time to show us the best method for kayaking (and, more importantly, how to quickly get out of the way of boats). You could tell he was very passionate about the city of Chicago, which made us all excited to learn more about where we call home.
I’ve tried kayaking before, but only in short spurts. I gotta say, the 3-hour kayak roundtrip was pretty intense! Get a good night’s rest and eat a solid breakfast for this outdoorsy trip and you’ll be good to go. I recommend wearing loose athletic gear and bring plenty of water. A bathing suit isn’t necessary but make sure to bring a Ziploc bag to store your phone in case water splashes in from the paddle. I wore sandals and took them off for the trip and that worked perfectly.
Overall, Kayak Chicago, which offers day tours as well as sunset firework tours, was a fantastic experience and I would recommend it to anyone looking to do something unique and athletic in the city. The cost is around $70, but always check the website for specials. Hurry, you only have about a little more time to take advantage of this beautiful weather!
(312) 8-kayak-8 / (312) 852-9258
1220 W. LeMoyne ave Chicago, IL
I’m always up for a fantastic day trip, especially during the summer season when I’m off work. Scrolling through Facebook, I found an article that listed the most beautiful sights in each of the 50 states. Illinois’ most beautiful place was named the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette; about an hour outside the city down Lakeshore, and a mere 15 minutes from Evanston. So, I hopped in my car and went on an adventure!I am so glad I took the time to visit this architectural dream. The Baha’i faith, as I learned from the very informative Welcome Center, was founded in 19th century Persia, and believes in unifying the human race and society.This is the only temple of its kind in North America, and the beauty of the building and the grounds is absolutely breathtaking. It is a quiet, serene place to gather your thoughts, attend a service, or simply marvel at the detail needed to create the house of worship. You can go inside, but they ask not to take pictures.
At night, the temple is lit up beautifully, but during the day, the gardens were gorgeous and the windows let in the summer light. This temple is definitely worth the short drive from Chicago or the suburbs! I haven’t seen all of Illinois, but I can’t argue that this sight was one of the most beautiful I’ve seen while living here.Baha’i House of Worship
100 Linden Ave., At Sheridan Rd., Wilmette, IL
Ah, Botox. The lovely, inexpensive love chemical that many women and men pump in their foreheads and crows feet to look younger and more refreshed. I’ve heard that Botox can be addicting, but I’ve also heard that it will change your life. So, in preparation to look my freshest for Angelina’s wedding this September, I visited the amazing Maggie at Lincoln Park Aesthetics to clear up and prevent future wrinkles!
My first tip is to go get Botox at an office that you feel truly comfortable with. I definitely recommend going to an office ran by a dermatologist or plastic surgeon. The provider should be specialized in injection treatments and have lengthy experience. I was once told by a doctor that “you’re not paying for the Botox itself, you’re paying for the person injecting you”. It may be a little more expensive..but going to a professional office rather than going to a Botox party at someone’s house is a better choice for a first-timer.
PRICE: The price is usually the #1 concern before getting injected. One way to possibly save a little money and have a better, more lasting experience, is to go with Dysport, Botox’s competitor brand. My PA, Maggie, preferred Dysport for me so I could have more range of motion and movement in my forehead, and it tends to last a bit longer than Botox. It is sometimes more beneficial to get charged by the area, but only if they are someone that requires a lot of units. Otherwise it is more beneficial to be charged by the unit. Most women require about 30 Botox units or 80 Dysport units to treat the upper one-third of their face (eleven’s, crow’s and forehead). Both are very similar, but do your research online so you can make an educated decision on which brand is better for you!
PROCEDURE: The procedure itself is extremely quick (under ten minutes) and completely painless. Honestly, I barely even felt a pinch, the needle is so thin and small. Another great perk is that there’s no down time. I went to lunch immediately following, and no one would even be able to tell. In addition to that, no one has really been able to tell except the few friends I shared with, and now of course, the thousands of you that are reading this haha!
RESULTS: My results made my extremely happy. I feel fresh-faced and youthful; not frozen or “Joker-like” in the least. The Dysport smoothed out my forehead wrinkles and crow’s feet, and I’m still able to smile and frown pretty naturally. Within a month or so I will be able to look more surprised but the lines won’t be etched in. It’s been about a week now, and I’m getting more comfortable with it everyday, but if you’re someone who’s extremely animated, this procedure may take some getting used to! Maggie said the average patient sees results for 3-5 months, so if you’re interested, plan on visiting about three times a year.FUTURE: The real question is, will I get Botox/Dysport again? Most likely, and probably Dysport, so I can have more range of motion in my expressions. It’s inexpensive, pain-free, and makes a really big difference on my face that I notice immediately. I will continue to eat healthy, workout, and take care of my skin, but if I can go in every once in a while and have a nice refresher to say youthful, that sounds pretty darn good!
SISTER TIPS: If you are thinking about getting Botox or Dysport, go conservative your first few times. You can always add more if you want, and that way you can see if you like the product and the results before going all out. Also, Botox/Dysport is known to reduce sweating in injected areas. Not sweating during my workout is a definite perk of these injections!
Are you a Botox/Dysport user?? I’d love to hear your experience and advice below!
Lincoln Park Aesthetics
908 W Armitage Ave, Chicago’s Lincoln Park
Chicago, IL 60614
My sister’s wedding shower is coming up next month, and I’m trying to do as many DIY projects as I can, to make the party unique, chic, and budget-friendly! The shower has a Parisian theme, which makes my job as maid of honor incredibly fun! We will have about six tables set up, so I knew I wanted elegant, French-themed centerpieces, and what is more French and fabulous than the most famous French designer of women’s clothes, Coco Chanel?! These DIY perfume bottle flower vases are inexpensive and a beautiful touch to any wedding, shower, or party.
Ah, Instagram, my favorite social media platform (although Snapchat is making a case to beat it). I love taking pictures, editing pictures, posting pictures, and seeing other people’s pictures, so clearly, Instagram and I have a wonderful and loving relationship. I used to use Instagram to keep up with friends, stalk the Kardashians, and post sunsets with every filter available. When I started blogging, my entire Instagram-ing vision and purpose changed. Followers are everything, and your followers want to see high-quality, intriguing, unique & useful pictures. I wasn’t just posting for me anymore, I was posting for those I feel honored enough to share my stories and life with. So I was determined to start givin’ them all I’ve got!
The more I blog, the more exposure I have for my own brand on Instagram, as well as others’ visions and lifestyles. I’ve learned a ton through my experiences, on how to create an Instagram feed that I am proud of and love to share with the world. Here are some tips and ideas for you to create an Instagram feed that helps you express who YOU are! Also – if you’re not already following me, go hit that button right now @JesiPepperminting! 🙂
I know I know, that’s terrible advice. This is 2016, EVERYONE looks at your social media, right?? – employers, friends, family members, that one girl who’s dating your ex… Hehe.
But seriously, if your feed is mainly made up of cupcakes, sunsets, and your dog sleeping, why the heck are you still private?! Nothing about that is personal or going to get you in trouble with the world. I gotta admit, I enjoy my privacy here and there, but I love sharing my Instagram life photos with the world and then saving my more private, personal shares for Facebook. Going public on Instagram changed everything for me; I can connect with others more easily, and businesses can find and follow me without having to request access. Plus, hashtags are useless if your profile is hidden from the public.
Long gone are the days when I grabbed my phone, snapped a pic of something random, then popped it on Instagram. Instead, I truly think about a photo before I add it to my feed: does this fit with my Instagram theme and brand? Is the color scheme complementary to my other pictures? Is this something I’ll want to remember in the future and be glad I documented? And most importantly: is it even a good picture?? If the answer is ‘no’ to any of these, chances are, I’ll keep the picture in my photo roll for my own personal memories, but it won’t make the cut to my feed.
I love a collage just as much as the next Instagrammer, but simple, one-post pictures tend to do much better on Instagram than a busy collection of 3 or 4. If you can’t pick your favorite, there’s no shame in posting one today, then another from that same event a few days after! People will appreciate your enthusiasm for that moment (or that outfit) and you’ll be happy that you were able to post both pictures on your feed.
I’m hesitant about using hashtags on my posts, but you’ll see that I include them on about half. Don’t get me wrong, hashtags do work, but you have to use them very strategically. According to research (yes real research provided here), interactions are the highest on Instagram posts with 11 or more hashtags. ELEVEN! Wow. So clearly, and scientifically, hashtags are effective. I, personally, haven’t seen a ton of traffic from hashtags, but I have had success when I use one or two hashtags to emphasize a point, get involved with a trending topic, or make a silly joke at the end of my post (see below). I gain more viewers because of witty hashtags versus overdone ones like #blogger, but don’t get me wrong, I’ll throw those in sometimes, too.
Everyone wants a ton of likes, obviously. It’s like the instant, most fun, most satisfying part of posting an Instagram pic. But I’ve learned not to get weird about the amount of likes I get. Sometimes, pictures I’m SUPER excited about and love don’t do nearly as well as I’d hoped with the public, and other times, I’ll post a stupid iPhone picture of a new lipstick, and BAM, get more likes than any photo I’ve ever taken in my young life. Sigh. Such is the unpredictable fate of an Instagram picture, haha!
One of the reasons I love Instagram is because it allows people to open up to each other on such a personal level, without really knowing each other personally! It’s kind of ironic and bizarre, but it’s a really cool effect of this golden social media age. I feel seriously humbled when people follow me on Instagram – like, that’s pretty darn neat that they willingly want to see what’s goin’ on in my crazy life. I take that responsibility pretty seriously, so therefore, I post pictures that I not only enjoy, but that I know my followers will appreciate as well. Tasty foods, colorful outfits, unique travel locations, you name it, I’ve shared it.
Working out is hard enough without having to worry about motivation. It’s way easier to sit on your couch and eat ice cream all summer, but if you want to be stay healthy and get that bod, as Britney says, you better work b*tch. Here are some tips that my friends, family and I use to stay motivated to work out eeeeven when the couch looks so much more appealing.
Group fitness classes are the #1 way I stay motivated. I’m in a phase right now where I just want to be told exactly what to do and how long to do it for. The perk of group classes is that the workout changes frequently, and you benefit from a personal trainer without having to pay the one-on-one fee. I take circuit training classes and well as kettlebell weight training classes at my gym 4-5 times a week, and I’ve seen incredible results.
My circuit training class utilizes a heart-rate monitor program so that we can all see what our current BPM is, our current calorie burn count, and check if we are in the “easy, moderate, hard” or “extreme” level of heart rate. My favorite type of heart rate monitor is one that straps around your chest, right under my sports bra elastic, but there are plenty of wrist monitors that are just as accurate.
Everyone knows that buying a new pair of training shoes, yoga pants, or sassy workout tank can be enough motivation to put on and head to the gym. I buy most of my workout gear from Old Navy; it’s durable, comfortable, and very inexpensive compared to other brands. Although, I have friends that swear they will never put anything on their body except LuLulemon. Whatever your preference or price point, grab some new swag and hit the gym!
Or in my case, borrow a dog! Every time I visit home, I run outside with my parents’ two dogs and go from 0-100 pretty quickly. I breathe hard, I have fun, and help the dogs get some well-deserved playtime too. Instead of just walking a dog, be more creative to add to your workout: play hide and go seek by climbing a tree, play chase around an object for constant stop-and-go motion, or wear ankle weights while you run with your dog.
My sister’s favorite motivational tip is to find a picture of what you want your body to look like and keep it as your phone background. She is forced to look at the picture each time she flips through her phone, and that helps her stray away from desserts and bring her focus back to her ultimate goal. Write post-its about how amazing you are and inspirational quotes from the internet. Tell your friends and fmaily your health goals so they can support you and make restaurant and weekend choices that will help you fulfill your accomplishments.
I don’t care what the haters say, I’m a HUGE fan of inspirational body Instagram and Facebook selfie posts. I love seeing people start their caption with “I don’t usually do this…” or “I’m not one to post body selfies” because it takes such courage and excitement for someone to take a before/after or progress picture and post it for the whole internet world to see. It can boost your confidence a TON by posting a progress pic and having your friends and family (or heck, strangers) comment how good you look and to keep at it. If you’re not into posting selfies, at least take a few angles in front of your mirror so you’ll have something to compare your progress to as you make gains.
One of my biggest motivations, regardless how shallow, is the fact that I pay $100 a month to be a part of a gym that offers me unlimited HIIT workouts. I am very aware of where my money goes each day, and to think that each time I skip the gym, I’m basically paying a few dollars out of my pocket helps me get my butt there.
You’ll find out pretty quickly who is motivated to regularly attend workout classes, and it’s pretty fun to introduce yourself and get to know them on that level. I also like to make friends with the trainers, who may feel more comfortable pushing you if they know you on a personal level and what your goals are.
A great motivator to workout is knowing that you’re only going to be doing it for 20 minutes. Do a Jillian Michaels’ 20-minute power workout and move on with your life!
Listen, if you don’t want to workout and you can’t find any way to motivate yourself, take the flippin day off! It’s ok to skip a day, it’s ok to skip a few days. You know what is best for yourself, and if none of these tips work, then take it easy on yourself, and work to get back into a rhythm tomorrow. We as people, especially women, tend to be our own worst critics. I guarantee you look better than you think, and are healthier and stronger than you give yourself credit for. Take your workouts one day at a time and stay positive! You got this!
How do you stay motivated to work out?? Share your tips below!