Travel Chicago!

Chicago is quickly becoming one of my favorite cities to travel to for almost everything. The shopping, the food, and the people are so friendly! My girlfriends and I have decided to make it an official annual "girls trip" I have already been there 2 times this year and I am hoping it's not the last. I had a lot of requests for recommendations this time around, so instead of trying to reply to everyone individually, I decided to do a little post for you so you can use it and share it too. 

We have traveled both ways, flying and driving. I would fly hands down every time because I love to fly but I think it is actually easier to drive if you are taking children. When we have a group of 6 ladies traveling, it makes it easier to split the cost of everything like an Uber or a taxi or you can pay $50 to park your car at the hotel. Other hotels may have different rates or policies. 


Yes, I travel in heels πŸ’πŸΌ It is only a 48 minute flight (54 according to my friend 😜) and we hit the ground running once we arrive! Haha plus I am usually wearing heels. Our trip is from a Thursday to Sunday and I think that is the perfect amount of time for anyone! If you plan on doing more sightseeing you may want to add an extra day!


We stay at The Thompson hotel. We love it for several reasons, but the location for us is #1. Right in the heart of the Viagra Triangle (yes it is an actual location choice on Instagram πŸ˜‚). No we do not stay there for that reason, but there are so many good restaurants and most of the shopping is within a 4-5 block radius! The hotel itself is very cool yet sophisticated with a great bar and restaurant on site, Nico. The staff are accommodating and definitely remember us each time we come back, yet I haven't decided if that is a good thing or not. ☺️

Off season pricing for our trip in May where we traveled with our 4 year old daughter was around $160 a night, so very affordable. During high season, you can expect that price to double.



Portillo's- famous hot dogs, because when in Chicago!

Maple & Ash- upscale dining, cool bar scene and great food. I would say kid friendly if they are over the age of 10. Otherwise it is a great date night!

Turquoise- It is a Turkish restaurant about a 15 minute Uber ride from The Thompson, but the food is worth it. Two of my friends that I travel with are Turkish.

Hugo's Frog Bar- My favorite Key Lime Pie in Chicago but please only get one dessert there for a table of 4 or more. It is way way too much! This is also the fist place I tried frog legs 😳 We took our 4 year old here and she was fine so I would say it is kid friendly for the most part. The noise level is pretty high at peak dining times.

LuxBar- Across the street from The Thomson. The avocado toast is amazing, the truffle fries are yummy and it's also a great place for a patio happy hour.

Fig and Olive- Upscale with a cool indoor bar. I have been here for brunch and lunch and to be honest, the brunch was my favorite! I would say not very kid friendly either.

Lou Malnati's Pizza- I have not had the "other" cometetiors pizza, Giordanos, but the crispy, buttery crush from Lou's definitely won me over! I asked a local what his favorite pizza was and he suggested Pequods, so we will try that next time! 

Sprinkle's Cupcake Machine- I mean it's an ATM for cupcakes, definitely must try it!

Federales- Tacos and Tequila! Fun Mexican restaurant if you are craving it! Open roof and fun vibe weekend days!

RM Champagne Salon or Pops for Champagne- if you are looking for a fun place to sip some bubbly!

RL Restaurant- We grabbed lunch here this last visit and we were all concerned on what to wear but honesty it was preppy but not stuffy. It is a place to say that you have eaten at.

Spiaggia and Spiaggia Cafe- We had a cocktail at the Spiaggia bar waiting for our table in the cafe part. I loved the atmosphere and view much better than the cafe view. The food is very small portions, fancy, and I would say if you are a "foodie" you would love it. It is unique and the flavors are great.

Little Goat Diner, Duck Duck Goat & Girl and the Goat- These were also recommendations from a local and we will definitely be trying one of these on our next visit! All ran under same Executive chef who won Bravo's Top Chef title.

Gibson's Italia- Great rooftop bar for Summer, and the vibe and scene is hip and similar to Maple & Ash. This is different that the Gibson's across from the Thompson hotel.

Bellemore- A new Artistic American cuisine restaurant that my friend Jentry recommends in the West Loop. She said the food is amazing!

Monteverde- A great place for brunch or dinner! They hand roll the pasta right there in house and they have a great bar and rooftop patio open in Summer.

Tempo Cafe- We ate here for breakfast but a full menu is served all day long and you can bring your own booze until 10pm. 

The Pancake House- This is our go-to breakfast the day we leave Chicago! It is directly across the street from The Thompson. The omelettes are huge so you can share one! Obviously the pancakes are delicious.


Nightlife in the Summer is all about rooftops! Probably because just like here in Des Moines, the weather is finally nice and people want to get out and enjoy it as much as possible. 

The Godfrey Hotel- A little older crowd with a nice rooftop bar.

Cyndie's Rooftop- Located at the Chicago Athletic Club on South Michigan, this bar hits the younger crowd.

Untitled- It is called a "supper club" because you can eat there too and you will think it is bizarre when you first walk in but later on it livens up! We just went there for dancing and a lot of it! 

Underground- Exactly what it says. It is a nightclub that is underground. I remember it being fun but that is not saying much πŸ˜‚


Chicago with a Toddler:

Shedd Aquarium- I think it is so much easier to get tickets online ahead of time! The line can get long. There is so much to see! If you want to do the shows, make sure to get tickets as well and plan your day round those times! Oh and parking was terrible because it was super busy the day we went but we found a parking garage not too far away. 

American Girl Doll- it is an expensive one at that, but you must do it at least once if you have a doll loving child. 

Lincoln Park Zoo- 35 acre zoo with FREE admission and open 365 days a year! It is actually one of America's oldest zoos too! Check out their website for other zoo events HERE. (If you have a Blank Park Zoo membership you will receive 10% off food and merchandise.)

LegoLand- This is indoors at a Mall in Schaumburg, but it includes lego themed rides and a softer play area for the littles. Booking your tickets ONLINE is actually cheaper!

Rainforest Cafe- I feel like if you have been to one you have seen them all, but if you haven't ever dined at one, you should go at least once. 

Maggie Daley Park- This park is so fun! Also fun in the Winter with an ice skating ribbon around the park. It also features climbing walls, tennis courts, open picnic areas and a 3 acre children play garden. It's open from 6am-11pm and features 6 different play areas, including: The Wave Lawn, The Harbor, The Watering Hole, The Slide Crater, The Enchanted Forest, and The Sea.

Chicago Children's Museum-  This is located at The Navy Pier! Be sure to check the dates and times for fun events and also a free family night.

The Field Museum of Natural History- (You can use your Des Moines Science Center membership here) It holds Dinosaur exhibits, Underground and Egypt adventures. I would say this is more appropriate for children over 5.

The Adler Planetarium- (Also included with your DSM Science Center membership) This is for those littles who are interested in all things Space! 

If you are planning on seeing a few of these sites on 1 vacation, you may want to check out the Chicago GO PASS for discounts! 


I hope this list of fun things to do gets you started on your Chicago vacation! If you have other must see things or restaurant recommendations please let me know because I will definitely be back! XO


Airplane Activities for Your Toddler

We have been jet setting with our daughter since she was 4 months old! Lucky her right? I remember that first flight wondering how I would ever survive it, but somehow we made it through! Each stage is a completely different task on how to keep them busy, but now we have it down to a science! We do not travel with our car seat, never have. If we rent a car, I rent a seat, and if we are in Mexico, well she rides in my lap or next to me in the car seat belt. She rode on my lap until we had to pay for a seat at 2 years old, but honestly, it is so much better to have her own seat. She has freedom to stand and move her legs, and usually curls up in her seat for a nap! But do whatever you find works for you and your family! 

I pack her a BACKPACK, usually her school bag, small enough for her to carry herself, but big enough to fill full of goodies. A trip to TARGET usually does the trick for me! Here is what I stuff in her backpack:


CRAYOLA MINI COLORING PAGES. These are found in the painting and coloring isle. There are a few versions of these like DORY but it comes with pages and markers to color with. If you want the mess free markers, they have those too!


Scour the dollar spot and you will find all sorts of goodies! We love these crayon packs that come with stickers, crayons and more pages to color! My daughter really just loves the stickers.


If you have any sort of handheld device, earphones are a must! These are under $20 but you can find some for less too like THESE. Bonus: Use these at restaurants too with the devices!! Sometimes it is nice to have a quiet dinner with your sig.other!


WINDOW CLINGS I think this is the most brilliant thing I have ever thought of! You can find these almost every season and they are super cheap! They stick to the windows, seat, tray table and not clothing! Plus you can rinse them off if you want to reuse them, but if not, pitch them out! Total must have for any age!


WATER WOW! Another must have! You fill up the pen with water, then you can color on the pages with no mess. Once you are done, the pages will dry, and you will be able to re-paint them over and over again! It also have several things to reveal upon "painting" the photo. 


The best of the best. The iPad. Make sure you have a good case like this one HERE. I am pro- iPad but we definitely monitor the use of it! So for things like traveling, here are some iPad tips:

1.) Download some new Apps!

2.) Download or rent a new movie for your child to watch.

3.) Put on some new music for them. We love Pandora baby Einstein radio.

4.) Load some photos of them over the years or videos of themselves in your Photos App. My daughter loves watching old videos of herself as a baby.

5.) YouTube. Ugh I have no idea why my daughter loves watching people make slime or open eggs but her eyes are glued to that screen. Hence the need for timed iPad use in our house. (only if airplane has wifi availability)

We are off to Cabo this Saturday and her bag is already packed! Don't let them peek inside the bag until they are on the airplane! That way it is all a big surprise!

We also used those Dum Dum suckers when she was younger to suck on if it seemed her ears were bothering her, but honestly it was more of a bribe 😊 She can now chew gum without getting it on everything so that is another helpful thing for her.

If you have other suggestions that you love, let me know! I am always looking for new surprises to pop inside of her bag! XOXO

Vacation with my Mini


Whew! These past few weeks have been a whirlwind and I can't even believe I have the time to sit here and write this! But this crummy weather, my hot tea and couch were calling my name. If you follow my blog, you will know I ONLY pack in a carry on suitcase 1.) because I am a control freak and scared to loose it and 2.) I am impatient and don't like to wait to pick up luggage, but this last trip to Cabo with my family, I caved and checked a bag. Seriously the best decision ever. And I will NEVER again choose to fly out at 5:30am ever again....getting up at 3 am is not for anyone! I was traveling alone (first time internationally) with my 2.5 year old daughter and it is too hard to pack for her in 1 suitcase let alone a carry on! Diapers, life jacket, clothes and shoes. And there was NO way I could've made it through the airports with my child, suitcase and buggy all intact without checking a bag. So I sucked it up and checked it, but next time, if I stay at a house like we did this time, I will wait and buy diapers at the Mega Mart and save myself some packing space :) The best part was that my daughter was an absolute gem the entire trip! She had a few 2 year old moments but seriously the trip was so nice and it helped by having a cooperative child....every Mother understands this! 

We flew first class our entire trip thanks to my little blue card (not pill) from my fun job as a Stella & Dot stylist! Why not right?? I sell it for fun, I will use my income for fun! Now I am not sure I ever want to travel coach again :) But if you think you get stares when you fly coach with a child, you should see the looks and comments you get flying first class with one! The eye rolls and the sighs! Haha but I loved the cover up comments when she was a complete angel and actually quieter than the snoring man 2 rows back. One lady said, "oh thank God for iPads" No honey, thankfully I have been fortunate enough to travel with her since she was 4 months old and she is used to it and loves it. But yes, thank God for iPads too :)  Have a toddler and traveling soon? I would like to pat myself on the back for packing an amazing backpack for a child! 

1.) Window cling ons. I may have to give some credit to my daughter for wanting these at Target and the idea then coming to me. Best.Idea.Ever. No mess, cheap, and reuse able! 

   2.) Water Wow books! Fill a plastic paint brush up with water and paint pictures and then re-paint once they are dry!  Lots of different ones to choose from too! You can find them at Target, department stores like Younkers and of course the airport if you want to pay double!

   3.) And this shoelace and block thing from Target dollar spot! Is there anything you can not get in that money pit they call the dollar spot? UGH! Kept her attention for ever! Keep on taking my money Target.

My family picked us up from the Airport and drove us to our home away from home! Our first time using a home booking site since we usually plug in a place to go on Expedia like an all inclusive! It was actually really nice! Gated community, large pool, private (rocky) beach, and close location to downtown. It was in Cabo Bello and our home was called Casa De Esperanza or House of Hope. You can learn more about their mission at as all donations for the house and car (after costs are covered) go directly to various areas of need in Los Cabos. The house has 3 bedroom and each room has their own bathroom. Staying somewhere and doing good all at the same time is a win win for me!

     Since my husband and I have been to Cabo 2-3 times before, I was more relaxed knowing a little about the location. We tried to eat at all of the "it" spots for my family to see and experience and hit up all of the little trinket shops for crap we all didn't need, but what is the fun if you don't come home with maracas? Haha Oh and a drum, a bracelet and a "drug rug" or poncho as I call it! Never heard it called that before! But my little lady looks awfully cute in it!

Eat here: 

1.) Cabo Wabo

2. The Office

3.) Captain Tony's 

We did not party here: (Although there were a few babies in the bars)

1.) Cabo Wabo

2.) Squid Row

3.) Jungle Bar

Walking the marina is always fun! Lots of shops, restaurants, Starbucks & entertainment. I know I am not young anymore, but I will still never understand the need to walk the streets with only a swim suit on. Does that make me old? Either way, we saw a lot of booty and drunk people :)  Always very entertaining.

  You must do the touristy thing and go to the Arch. Rent a glass bottom boat, and take a little ride to Lover's Beach, Pelican Rock, the Arch, stinky seal rock (seriously smells so bad) and lastly Divorce Beach, but swimming is not recommended here. Surprised? Me either 😊 

      She was not too sure about the boat ride! Haha 

Biggest funny of the vacation. Yes it involves my daughter. So I was showering with her when a little wall lizard came out from the drain and ran out of the shower onto the baseboard. Of course my bug loving daughter thought she needed to catch it. I laughed and let her out to catch it thinking that they are so stinking fast, there will be NO way she will catch it. Low and behold, she walked over to it, reached down and picked the darn thing up no problem. UGH!! So out of the shower I go to get a cup (with no lid) to keep it in. Brilliant I know. Well she played and played with that lizard until he no longer had a tail, then it was time to let me die in peace. RIP lizard. Only my child.         


Of course I did a little "work" on my vacation! Yes, selfies are my job, and just wearing it out and about people see the goods and want to know where they can get it!  Showing off Stella & Dot's accessories and their versatility is part of the work, but also a selfie shows how simple it is to look "put together" for any occasion. I think if people really understood how easy & fun this job is, more would do it! They just hear "selling" something and say no way. But having a stylist on my team paying off student loans and saving for a trip to Disney is more motivation to help others earn extra money too! Oh and if you didn't already know, this vacation is a big ol' tax write off, just ask me how!! 

*Follow me on Instagram for outfit and jewelry details ashleyn2504

A huge thank you to my family for setting up this very fun vacation and for making memories that will last a lifetime! I already miss you all and look forward to the next time we get to see you!


Much love Cabo! Until next time :) ✌️    XO

Lady and Red