Girlfriend Celebrations - Because Girlfriends Make Life Better

Walking With 3,000+ Girlfriends

Crossing the Chicago River
Crossing the Chicago River
Girlfriend-in-Chief Dawn participated in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Chicago June 5 – 6 in the company of more than 3,000 “girlfriends.” Here are some of her thoughts on this amazing journey!

Completing the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer is a lot like childbirth: Painful but rewarding. Walking 39.3 miles in two days is, simply, hard. No matter how much you have trained, you can’t totally prepare for your feet repetitively pounding on pavement and Mother Nature dishing up some wet and windy surprises. Bones hurt, blisters pop, chafing appears in (ahem) private places, humidity induces unusual rashes. By the end of Day One, you’re not sure you really want to (or can) get up and walk on Day Two. And yet, the main takeaway from the weekend is a feeling of triumph. In fact, many find this feeling so addictive they choose to do the walk year after year (perhaps, in a phenomenon similar to that of childbirth, selective amnesia sets in).

I spent the Avon Walk weekend with eight other women brought together by our personal trainer, Tracy, a Walk veteran. Training for the walk was a classic example of our philosophy at GirlfriendCelebrations – doing something meaningful together builds friendships! Establishing a walking routine is a great girlfriend-bonding activity. During our training walks, my teammates Liz, Cathy, Robin and I had nothing to do but talk. We’re definitely closer as a result. And during the Walk weekend, I was privileged to get to know my other teammates Teresa, Bonnie, Linsday, and Sherry better as we walked and talked.

Even though our group sentiment was “never again,” after walking 26 miles (a marathon!) the first day of the event, my memory of it now is fond and framed in pink. I’m proud of our accomplishment. We did it, girls! What kept us going? The things that unite women during any bonding experience, whether it’s college rush, child rearing, or working in adjacent cubicles: Read the rest of this entry »


Make Girls Night Easier With Peapod

As busy women with hectic calendars, we are always looking for ways to make more time for play in our days. With this in mind, Peapod, the online grocery shopping and delivery service, invited the Girlfriends-In-Chief and some fellow bloggers on a warehouse tour to show us how they could make our lives easier with the click of a mouse. As busy wives and moms, we were all quick to see how Peapod could help de-stress our domestic lives.

Perky Produce
Perky Produce
But what really put the icing on the cake was how Peapod’s delivery service can make entertaining easier: Helping a girlfriend take out the frazzle of eleventh- hour shopping and put the dazzle back in a last-minute soiree. Yes! What we learned can help us—and you— delete one more obstacle to having a fabulous girls night.
Look  Who Greeted Us!
Look Who Greeted Us!
Read on to see what we learned about their food quality and offerings for entertaining. And, see the end of this post for a great offer from Peapod that will save you $20 on your next grocery order.

It’s Cold in There

Our tour guide, Tony Stallone, Peapod’s Produce Guru, helped to put all our apprehensions about grocery stores of the 21st century to rest. Being skeptical yet savvy consumers, we initially thought that one would have to physically go to a store to get the freshest produce. But Tony was convincingly quick to point out that in order for Peapod’s service to succeed, the produce has to be better than the produce you would pick for yourself.  Simply put, if you were to pick bad cherries, you would only have yourself to blame. If Peapod were to send you bad cherries, it would not only be the pits for you but for them as well because as a consumer, you’re going to complain. Peapod’s produce goes through a careful inspection process. The fruits and vegetables are not only hand-selected but they are also tasted to ensure a positive experience for the customer. After touring the many different temperature zones in the warehouse (which, it seemed to us, were cool, chilly, cold, colder and freezing—because Peapod takes pride in never breaking the chain of coldness the entire time the food is in their warehouse) and walking among the peppers and apples (each have their own temperature-and humidity-controlled zone, by the way), we were sold on the quality of Peapod’s produce. The fruit in their warehouse looks much better than the room-temperature fruit selection we see at our local Jewel or Ultra. We won’t think twice when it comes to ordering a fruit tray or appetizers from Peapod for our next girls night.

Just a side note, the Produce Guru has his own blog about *drumroll please* produce which you can find here. He is very knowledgeable when it comes to selecting and storing produce: even grandma would be impressed. Here are a few of the tips he shared with us en toure.

  • Strawberries – Inspect the entire box of strawberries, don’t be afraid to turn the box over. The strawberries on the bottom and sides of the box will go bad first. Look especially at the shoulders of the strawberries, that’s where bruising occurs first.  Strawberries will last longer if kept at a colder temperature.
  • Apples – Refrigerate them. Keep them cold or they will go mealy.
  • Avocado – If the button pops off the end easily Makes, it is ripe.
  • Guacomole Dip – To store dip overnight without it turning black, place a plain piece of saran wrap over the dip and gently press down until all of the air is out of dip. Keeping the air from coming in contact with the dip will ensure it stays green.
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Girlfriends at the Oprah Store!

Living in Chicago, we already know that the Oprah Winfrey show is a popular girlfriend destination—for those lucky enough to get tickets to a taping. The rest of us have been out of luck when it comes to getting our Oprah fix. So, when the Oprah Store invited us to an afternoon tea with some of Chicago’s top bloggers, we knew we had to check it out. The Oprah Store, located just across the street from Harpo Studios, where the Oprah Show is taped, is a beautifully designed retail store destination filled with Oprah souvenirs, books featured on the show, Oprah’s Closet (featuring clothing Oprah has worn on the show, with proceeds going to charity) as well as some signature products. At the bloggers tea, the Oprah Store treated us to Talbott Teas, an artisan tea line carried in the store. These are truly some upscale and delicious teas that deserve consideration from any tea party hostess! We also met Art Smith, formerly Oprah’s personal chef and now a cookbook author and restaurateur. He graciously signed copies of his books and chatted with the guests. We walked away with signed copies of his book Kitchen Life: Real Food For Real Families — Even Yours!, excited to make some delicious dinners. (We recommend it, by the way—it’s great for busy moms as well as “beginner” cooks and people who don’t cook often). Some of our favorite items in the store included the “Oprah quote” items, featuring some of her great sayings, and the African crafts area, which had some beautiful and unique hand-crafted items. For true Oprah fans, a visit to the Oprah Store would make a great stop during a girlfriend getaway to Chicago. Check out the store’s offerings online at www.OprahStore.com. For more to do in the West Loop neighborhood near the store, see this blog post. Thank you, Oprah Store, we really enjoyed our visit, as well as the opportunity to visit with our blogger girlfriends! Photos by Tina Bishop

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How to Beat Loneliness This Winter (& GirlFriend Circles Membership Giveaway)

Loneliness may be the most dangerous epidemic women face, according to this guest post by Shasta Nelson, founder of GirlFriendCircles.com, a web-based service that matches its members with potential girlfriends offline, in real life. Lucky for us, she has some concrete ideas on how to beat loneliness and make new friends in this new year. Shasta also puts her money where her mouth is: She’s giving away a six-month GirlFriendCircles membership to one lucky GirlfriendCelebrations reader! In addition, she is offering YOU discounts on membership and other GirlFriendCircles events. See below for all the details.

By Shasta Nelson
While many of us have stood in line for the flu shot, bought abundant amounts of antibacterial hand soap and increased our daily intake of immune boosting vitamins, research published last month suggests there’s something besides Swine Flu and the common cold that we need to protect ourselves from  – loneliness. And it’s apparently equally, if not more, contagious as run-of-the-mill germs.

The Impact of Loneliness

With the holidays over and social calendars cleared, January becomes one of the loneliest months of the year. A study published in December’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows that loneliness not only affects our personal health and well-being and the way we treat others, but it also increases the sense of loneliness in our friends, family and neighbors. It can spread from person to person, up to three degrees of separation.

Protect Yourself

Here are three ways to help build your relational immune system this New Year:
Get a Check-Up: Determine your current relational health by evaluating your circle of friends. What friends do you have and what friends are you still hoping to find? Do you have enough local friends? Do you have the women surrounding you that help you feel rooted and supported right where you are?
Is your circle broad enough to accommodate different areas of your life? What interests or types of friends would enhance your life? Are you someone who connects with everyone but needs to pull a few people closer to you in more meaningful ways? Or do you tend to only have a few in your life so that when one of them moves or life changes that you find yourself not knowing who else to call?

Identify Long-Term Health: Write out what it looks and feels like to have a close circle of friends in your life. This step is crucial, but often skipped. While we all know you can’t go to the gym once and all of a sudden reach your health goals, the same is true for our relationships. Hold that truth with a willingness to not give up after a few scheduled events or attempts to reach out. This is one of the most significant health goals of your life and it very well may take three to six months before you can create a sense of belonging and connectedness.

Schedule your Steps: Based upon the awareness from your check-up in step one, you should be able to identify action steps that will foster more meaningful friendships in your life. For example, if you already know plenty of people but need to transition a few of them into something more meaningful, there are two primary ways of deepening friendships: more consistency (most of us will need to connect with someone at least twice a month over three months before we feel close) or more topics of sharing, which means broadening the conversations beyond the area that we currently have in common whether it’s work, our kids or a specific project. What can you commit to trying? Or, if you need to meet new potential friends, be open to trying lots of things such as joining sites like GirlFriendCircles.com, participating in a local choir, inviting your neighbors over for drinks or attending more events where your current network can help introduce you to more people.

This January, drag yourself to the gym and try to eat better, but for all the New Year’s Resolutions you may set, few of them will impact your health, physically, emotionally and relationally, more than surrounding yourself with good friends.

Shasta Nelson is a relationship and transition life coach and CEO of GirlfriendCircles.com, an online community that matches women with offline friends.

Exclusive Discounts

GirlfriendCelebrations readers, use this special discount code: “GFCELEB” to save 20% on any of GirlFriendCircles.com upcoming events:

21 Days of Friendship Journey, starts this Sunday, Jan 10 (workbook and coaching calls— participants can be from anywhere) http://newyearjourney.eventbrite.com/

Portland Speed Friending, Tuesday, Jan 12 (http://portlandspeedfriending.eventbrite.com/)

Seattle Speed Friending, Wednesday, Jan 13 (http://seattlespeedfriending.eventbrite.com/)

Or, receive 20% off membership in GirlFriendCircles.com, the only online community to match new friends offline by connecting circles of women in local areas, to expand your circle of friends!

And Now For the Giveaway

GirlFriendCircles has generously offered to give one of our our readers a 6-month membership free! GirlFriend Circles matches members up with a small “Connecting Circle” of local women first, then after that initial meeting, you are free to use its resources to find other friends in your area as well. Please note the cities in which memberships are currently available: San Francisco and Bay Area, Portland, Seattle, Chicago and New York City. You must be able to use the membership in one of these cities to be eligible.

To enter:

1. Simply leave a comment on this post that says why you would like to try the GirlFriend Circles membership.

2. Tweet this contest for an extra entry.

3. Blog about it, linking back to this post, for an extra two entries.

Contest will remain open until 11:59 PM CST on Friday, January 22, 2010. Winner will be chosen at random from all eligible entries. Good luck, girlfriends! Read the rest of this entry »


Shecky’s Girls Night Out – Our Video and Report!

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Girls Night Out for Charity at Juvenesse Spa

Girlfriends love to spa—and when they can spa for charity, they feel even better! We recently had the pleasure of hosting, along with Chicagonista.com, a Girls Night Out for Charity at Juvenesse Spa in Chicago. It was a fantastic evening for girlfriends to network in the tranquil environs of Juvenesse, a hidden gem in the River North neighborhood. All proceeds from the event benefited Peace Journey, a charity started by spa owner Jeannette Kravitz. Girlfriends attending the event enjoyed complimentary champagne, a fabulous spread of hors d’oeuvres, and two mini spa services, ranging among chair massage, eye zone therapy, and makeup application.

In addition to receiving a $25 gift card for a future visit to Juvenesse, spa samples, and discounts from Juvenesse, girlfriends also received a bag full of swag thanks to our fabulous sponsors! In the bag:

The Wildwater Walking Club, a new novel by Claire Cook from Hyperion Books and Voice. This novel, about a woman who has to figure out what she wants out of her life after some bumps in the road, follows three women as they begin to find a new path. Great summer reading! Our guests each received a hardcover edition. For more about the book, click here.

The Art of the Apology by Lauren Bloom. This book by a business ethics expert teaches how to apologize effectively to practically anyone. Since a sincere apology is an essential friendship skill, we were happy to have this book in our swag bag!

Conversation Confetti from Chicago-based always a girls girl.  This package of 20+ cards with talk-about-it questions and scenarios gets your guests mingling! Get a conversation confetti FREE when you purchase a conversation tin from always a girl’s girl using the code “Girlfriend Celebrations”!

PakNaks These decorative accessories transform plain backpacks, bags and other stuff into personalized, ever-changing, colorful works of art. Over 40 adorable peel-and-stick designs are available. We can totally see using these to brighten up a summer tote bag. And there’s no ironing, sewing or pinning! www.paknak.com PakNaks has a special offer for GirlfriendCelebrations readers: Receive 20% OFF your order with the code “PAK20″!

Discount card from Tunix - the site for chic, American-made tunics perfect for beach, resort, or lunch with the girlfriends!

“Piggy” wine charm and recipe book from the National Pork Board 

GirlfriendCelebrations bookmark

M&Ms also supported this great event. Have you tried M&Ms Premiums? We tried the Raspberry Almond flavor and they are quite the delicious little splurge. 
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Chicago Girlfriends: Don’t Miss this Charity Spa Event!

Girlfriends, you’re invited to a Ladies Night Charity Event on May 13, 2009 at Juvenesse Spa in Chicago. Champagne, nibbles, two mini spa services and more surprises are included in your $15 ticket. Network with new friends, and enjoy with  your gal pals! Plus, all proceeds from this event go to Peace Journey, a 501c3 organization that guides global friendships among children of the world through technology and education. Thanks to Chicagonista.com for organizing this great event—we can’t wait to see you there! Hurry, space is limited. Click on the postcard for registration info.

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Chicago Bloggers Help Quaker Feed the Hungry

Our girlfriends at Chicagonista are gathering a group of volunteers THIS THURSDAY, March 26 at the Greater Chicago Food Depository to help Quaker Oats launch its Go Project. Chicago blogging girlfriends, volunteers are still needed! Can you come out and help for a few hours? Read on to see what Chicagonista founder M.J. Tam had to say:

“Feeding the needy is no small feat, especially if there are 36 million Americans (including 12.6 million kids) who are hungry. But the new Quaker Go Project is making a huge commitment to feed the hungry children all over the world by hitting communities and asking for volunteers all over to come join the effort.

What can we do here in Chicago? It’s not as hard as you think.

For starters, we here in Chicagonista are helping with the Go Project launch by hosting a blogger volunteer gathering on March 26th from 1-4pm at the Greater Chicago Food Depository. If you would like to help us celebrate by joining in, please fill in our contact form and we will email you more details. Three hours of your day can help feed hundreds.  Please come and join us!”

Other ways everybody can participate: For every UPC code entered on its site, Quaker will donate 10 servings. So as you feed yourself, why not help feed others? Click here to enter your UPC codes.

You can also bring your own hunger relief idea to life. Each month, Quaker will award 20 Go Grants of $500 so people like you can develop community projects to help combat hunger. You can fill out an application here.

You can also follow Quaker’s Go Project efforts here:
You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/quakertalk
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Quaker
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/quakeroats
Twitter: http://twitter.com/quakertalk

We know you like to support a good cause, girlfriends. Thanks for reading!

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Girlfriend Getaway of the Month: Chicago

The Girlfriends-In-Chief had a rare girlfriend getaway last month right here in our home base of Chicago. We may be biased, but we highly recommend the Windy City as a destination for girlfriends! Here’s our report and some tips for planning your own Chicago Girlfriend Getaway. Chicago is a friendly, beautiful city with sophisticated dining, world-class museums, excellent shopping, outdoor recreation opportunities and plenty of tourist attractions. You literally cannot go wrong with a girlfriend getaway here. We’d suggest you do a little planning before you arrive though, because deciding among the sheer number of options might slow you down a bit. Skyline photo via flickr

Where to Stay

Numerous hotels dot the Magnificent Mile, Gold Coast and downtown area. You’re sure to find one in your price range. We stayed at the delightful Hotel Monaco Chicago, a four-star boutique hotel located on the Chicago River. This hotel is really well-located close to shopping, dining, and nightlife, and also offers fabulous views of the river from some rooms. The hotel decor is uniquely chic, and the staff friendly and helpful. We truly appreciated all the special touches, from a free wine reception in the lobby each night to turndown service complete with gourmet chocolates on the pillow. Because we were celebrating Tina’s birthday, we found champagne on ice waiting for us in our room when we checked in. Wi-fi service was included in the room rate, a must for our working getaway. We had a blast blogging over drinks in the South Water Kitchen, the hotel’s adjacent restaurant and bar. Our room was comfy and adorable, with a fabulous river view and cozy window seats. Our package also included a heavenly in-room massage (the therapist really knew her stuff) and an in-room movie. Can you say “chick flick”? Overall, it was an indulgent little stay for these two working moms.

Enjoying the window seat
Enjoying the window seat
Highly recommended! Read on for theater, things to do, places to eat, online resources and more: Read the rest of this entry »


Wine Not?

Don’t you love it when you meet someone who is so enthusiastic about what they do, that it’s contagious? That’s the feeling we had the other day when we met Sue and Kathy from Prairie and Vine, an adorable wine shop and tasting room in Chicago’s western suburbs. It reminded us to tell you that now is a GREAT time of year to have a Wine Among Friends party. Tina hosted one of these two years ago and it was a fabulous success. Click the link for all the details! But first read on:  

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