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posted by Lydia Krupinski

I love Argo Tea. A local company dedicated to bringing yummy tea concoctions of all varieties to the streets of Chicago – brilliant! But now I love Argo even more! While doing some shopping at Whole Foods a month ago I stumbled upon their line of new to-go blends. What could be better than stocking up on my favorite flavors like “Mojitea” and “Charitea?” Getting to reuse the beautiful packaging!

Rather than using plastic, the new line collects each brew in a lovely ergonomically correct glass bottle. That means that once I’m done sipping my tea I can wash and reuse the bottle! Check out this new product next time you’re out running errands and you’ll be able to take all the cocoa you can handle out with you in the cold.

by David Downs

Late last month Lydia and I headed to Ravenswood to meet up with a group of artists for the Ravenswood Art Walk (RAW). The Lillstreet Art Center was our meeting place to begin the event.

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On the first floor of Lillstreet, next to the shop, is First Slice Cafe. Being the “sweet-tooths” we are, a visit to the cafe was just as important as seeing the artwork. First Slice is a fully functioning cafe with your common assortment of espresso drinks – from lattes to mochas. They also offer lunch items, cookies, scones and other fare.

What they are best known for are their super delicious gourmet pies! Probably the best in the city, their assortment includes chocolate peanut butter, apple, pumpkin cheese cake, the decadent chocolate mousse and many, many others. They offer pies by the slice or you can purchase the whole thing, and they do catering too! But First Slice goes well beyond creamy puffy pastries. Read the rest of this entry »

By Lydia Krupinski

Fall is here and with it dipping temperatures that make my already dry as a bone skin suffer with dehydration. Having worked in the cosmetic industry in the not-so-distant past I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs with skin care products. There was the heavenly but expensive creams by LUSH, the wha-wha inefficacy of La Mer, my biannual addiction to Philosophy, and the remaining smattering of products which included Aveeno, Burt’s Bees, Dr. Hauschka and more.

Since I am fearless when it comes to trying new products I’ve decided to go on a hunt for an eco and health friendly affordable moisturizer that will hydrate me through the fall and winter and last until the end of spring. Criteria that I have in place: It must be a cream. Nearing 30 I’ve tried and tested lotions and they just don’t cut it with my psoriasis eczema prone skin. I want something rich – not quite like butter but not as thin as yogurt. The other consideration is smell. I can’t stand any over-fragranced body care – no matter how organic – if it smells like roses you can bet I’ll be chucking it. Read the rest of this entry »

Photos & Review by David Paul Downs

At the corner of Roscoe and Hoyne, in Chicago’s quaint Roscoe Village neighborhood, sits one of the cities best restaurants for a vegetarian friendly brunch. Victory’s Banner offers a bright and comfortable environment for late morning dining.

Their menu is an array of creative takes on traditional breakfast fare, such as eggs scrambled with spinach, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes and feta; apple-pecan pancakes made from oat bran flour; or buckwheat waffles topped with fresh seasonal fruit, homemade whipped cream, and real maple syrup.

I couldn’t resist ordering a plate of almond stuffed French toast, one of the specials for today. My wife, and favorite dining partner, ordered the curry omelet, in an attempt to counter-balance my raging sweet tooth. We almost always split our dishes. I order the sweetest dish I can find, and she orders something savory, giving us an equal balance to satisfy our palettes.

Our order was taken by a petite waitress dressed in a colorful, silken wrap. Her friendly demeanor was genuine and she seemed to project an inner glow, reflective of the restaurants philosophies.

While waiting for our dishes to arrive, we sipped on homemade chai tea. This hand-crafted drinkest was the freshest I’ve experienced, with strong distinctive, spices you could smell and taste. The chai is also offered “bottomless” as you would expect for house coffee. We started with two hot cups, but considering the heat of the summer day, and the servers were kind enough to switch us to iced chai’s. Read the rest of this entry »

product_avocadoby Lydia Krupinski

Natural hair care products abound at health food stores, salons, and organic markets. From Aveda to Dr. Hauschka, there is an endless variety of shampoos and conditioners to choose from. But what’s a noodle head like myself to do when none of these formulas are a) for curly hair and b) affordable?

My first instinct was to develop my own formula or try to go no-poo. But with my dry, frizzy, and thick hair, I found that home concoctions and au natural approaches were not going to cut it. So I began the hunt. Month after month, year after year I tried everything from Trader Joe’s house brands to pricey salon lines and even simple cake soaps, but with no success.  All these products left my hair dry, my curls limp, and my pocketbook empty.

But then, this past August, I stumbled upon Naked Natural’s Shea Butter and Avocado line. Discovered at the end of a Target aisle, on the bottom of a shelf, I was instantly drawn to the simple packaging, blue bottle, and name. Shea butter and avocado are a kinky-haired girls dream come true! And if that weren’t enough, after picking up the bottles and inspecting the backs, I found myself higher than cloud nine. Not only are the ingredients natural and plant derived, Naked Naturals boasts the following list of ethical practices:

  • No Lauryl or Laureth Sulfates
  • No DEA or TEA
  • No Animal By-products
  • No Artificial Colors
  • No Synthetic Fragrance
  • No Harsh Chemicals
  • Not Tested on Animals

I couldn’t believe my eyes! No animal testing, chemicals, or damaging ingredients…I had to have it! So I snatched up two bottles, priced at less than $6 each, and ran to my shower to give them a test run. Two months later, I am happy to report that my locks are lush, frizz less, twisted coils of perfection!

If you’re a curly headed guy or gal like me, head over to Naked Natural’s website to learn more about their products, and to find their haircare in a store near you!

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Summer is here! The sun is ablaze, the beaches and parks are swarming, and so are mosquitoes. If you’re looking for a safe, natural, and green alternative to traditional toxic bug sprays, look no further than Apple Cider Vinegar.

This wonderous liquid does more than add punch to a salad. When taken daily, the potent vinegar helps to repel female mosquitoes, leaving you to enjoy the beautiful summer nights bite free! It can also be added to your furry best friend’s food to keep away pests like ticks and fleas.

A teaspoon a day will keep the critters away!

Check out my favorite brand of organic Apple Cider Vinegar: Bragg’s.

To learn more about the many health benefits of ACV, like diabetes treatment, acne irridication, and weight management, check out this article.

By Lydia Krupinski

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I have a confession: I’m not as diligent with my hygiene routine as I should be. I’m not talking no-poo, hippy, funk gunk level neglect…at least, not yet.

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In contrast, my hubby David is the ultimate neat freak. He has taught me the art of the nail brush,  restrained nose blowing,  polite mouth wiping, and yes…the dreaded daily ritual of tooth brushing.

My common excuse for the liberal treatment of this habit has always been: “But honey, I don’t want to waste the water, or the toothpaste, and wear down the brush’s bristles! I’ll have to throw this one away, buy a new one, and contribute to the cradle to grave cycle.” As eloquently as I put it however, he never buys one second of my nonsense.

preserve_toothbrushLucky for David (and my dentist), companies like Preserve have taken action to reduce, reuse, and recycle personal hygiene products like toothbrushes. Preserve’s are made out of recycled yogurt cups, ergonomically designed, stylish, and inexpensive.

And if that’s not enough, when you purchase your Preserve Toothbrush from stores like Green Sky in Andersonville, they’ll provide you with a postage paid envelope to send back your old tooth scrubbers! You can also download the pre-paid mailer straight off Preserve’s website.

So if that’s not enough to get you brushing…I don’t know what is.

So no more excuses! Get out there and scrub, rinse, recycle and repeat!

Review and Photos by Lydia Krupinski

mana-32When dining in Wicker Park there’s an endless array of restaurants to choose from. This hustling bustling hipster mecca is filled with diners, bakeries, bars and cafes. But when I had to choose where to take a foodie friend visiting from the West Coast, the choice was easy. Mana. mana-23

Mana Food Bar is a modest and modern escape from the over-styled boutiques and bars of Division street. The minimalist decor, complete with salvaged wood tables, gray walls, and subtle lighting, makes this the perfect place to enjoy a casual lunch or dinner. Read the rest of this entry »

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